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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for January 29, 2009

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guest: Jonathan Alter, Chris Hayes, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Mike Tomlin

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

Bonus coverage: In the year of the bailout, $18.4 billion in bonuses handed out on Wall Street—and you paid for it.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:  That is the height of irresponsibility.  It is shameful.


OLBERMANN:  Great, Mr. President, so what are you going to do about it?

The GOP crows over pulling out the bipartisan rug on the stimulus, the GOP, the “Grand Obstructionist Party.”


SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, ® ALABAMA:  We need to resist this package with every strength that we have.


OLBERMANN:  Somebody else who won‘t stop squirming—Karl Rove.  He says he will not even respond to the House subpoena to testify on Monday.


KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH AIDE:  I don‘t know if I will call it a witch hunt.  I don‘t think of myself as a witch.


OLBERMANN:  Do you think of yourself as being in contempt of Congress?

On the eve of expulsion, the governor delivers to the Illinois Senate

a monologue.



Applied on a Monday, got my letter of rejection back on a Tuesday.


OLBERMANN:  Hair today, gone tomorrow.  Blagojevich has been convicted.

Worsts: The Republican congressman who dared to criticize comedian Rush Limbaugh and has meekly apologized to the guy on the radio who apparently runs an entire political party.

And, his last interview before the Super Bowl.  Our exclusive visit with Mike Tomlin of the Steelers, the youngest coach in Super Bowl history.


OLBERMANN:  So there has never been a thought in your mind that 36 was probably earlier than you would have expected to be in the situation you are in this week?

MIKE TOMLIN, STEELERS COACH:  Well, you know, I maybe thought it was late, you know.



OLBERMANN:  All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.




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

In the past, these men were called “robber barons,” the ones who dreamt of cornering the gold market or monopolizing silver or even paying forth 50 million in bonuses to 450 people who caused their own company to collapse—that last example coming from the ancient history that was yesterday.

But in our fifth story tonight: Financial treason so injurious to the nation that it makes a beggar out of language and it makes an angry president out of a heretofore almost imperturbable new chief.  $18 billion in bonuses for Wall Street last year, the year you and I gave Wall Street billions more in bailouts.  Front page story in today‘s “New York Times” is drawing the attention on the ire of the new president, the sum total of bonuses handed out on Wall Street last month, last year, rather, equaling $18,400,000 -- the sixth largest take ever.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs pointing out this afternoon that it‘s not as if Wall Street had its sixth best year ever, and the president demanding restraint and responsibility.


OBAMA:  At a time when most of these institutions were teetering on collapse and they are asking for taxpayers to help sustain them, and when taxpayers find themselves in the difficult position that if they don‘t provide help, that the entire system could come down on top of our heads—that is the height of irresponsibility.  It is shameful.

We‘re going to be having conversations as this process moves forward directly with these folks on Wall Street to underscore that they have to start acting in a more responsible fashion if we are to, together, get this economy rolling again.  There will be time for them to make profits and there will be time for them to get bonuses—now is not that time.


OLBERMANN:  And that $50 million jet plane that Citigroup accepted and then returned to sender earlier this week, P Obama has not forgotten about that either.


OBAMA:  Secretary Geithner already had to pull back one institution that had gone forward with a multimillion dollar jet plane purchase at the same time as they are receiving TARP money.  We shouldn‘t have to do that because they should know better.


OLBERMANN:  Vice President Biden promising consequences, if not the kind he‘d really like to impose, in an interview today with CNBC‘s John Harwood.


VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:  I promise you, there ain‘t going to be any $40 million jets being bought.  There is not going to be expenditures of bonuses go—I mean, it‘s been outrageous.  I mean, it just offends .

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC:  Bad for rehabilitation.

BIDEN:  Yes.  I mean, it just offends the sensibilities, I mean, I‘d like to throw these guys in the brig.


OLBERMANN:  Meanwhile, there still a stimulus package to pass, this time in the Senate.  President Obama is expressing more confidence and far less anger about that.


OBAMA:  I am confident that with the recovery package moving through the House and through the Senate, that we are going to be able to set up a regulatory framework that rights the ship and that gets us moving again.  And I know the American people are eager to get moving again.  They want to work.


OLBERMANN:  The Republicans choke full of enough post-vote anger and delusion for both parties, plus the Whigs and the federalists, well, we add (ph), blaming the president, the Democratic leadership, two labor unions and the progressive groups and Americans United for Change for the failure of legislation that they, the Republicans, voted against.

In a memo, House Minority Leader John Boehner thanking Republican members for their no votes, claiming that by opposing the measure, the GOP, quote, “made good on our pledge that the Republicans will not simply be the party of opposition, but the party of better solutions.”

Well, certainly, that makes sense.  Also, that by displaying such a partisan behavior, quote, “The vote last night sent a clear, powerful and bipartisan message.”

In the Senate, where the lawmakers will take up the legislation next, Republicans there are already simpering and whining.


SEN. JON KYL, REPUBLICAN WHIP:  We have ideas that will really create jobs and help people and help get the economy moving again.  We‘ve been rejected in our attempts to get those considered.  And if there is not a change in attitude as this legislation moves forward, unfortunately, it is the American people that are going to suffer from the Democrats‘ partisanship on this important issue.


OLBERMANN:  Well, he‘s lying about that.  But moving on—before they‘ve even met with President Obama or anyone else, apparently determined to vote against the stimulus plan.


SESSIONS:  There is very little likelihood that we will have a substantial change.  And so, we need to resist this package with every strength that we have.  Indeed, the financial soul of this country may be at stake.


OLBERMANN:  For more on the president‘s happy day, time now to call in our own Jonathan Alter, senior editor at “Newsweek” magazine.

Good evening, Jon.


OLBERMANN:  Well, the president‘s umbrage is very deserved, very commendable, very dramatic.  But what practically can he do about those bonuses or the next bonuses?

ALTER:  He can take them back.  I mean, the tongue-lashing was wonderful and gratifying and everything, but when he talked about going and having meetings with them, seem like he was interested in sort of convincing them to voluntarily do better next year at bonus time or not do stupid things like buy expensive private aircraft.  What they need are what are clawback provisions, disgorgement provisions.

$18 billion is a lot of money, Keith.  That‘s twice as much money as there is in the stimulus package for mass transit.  So, we need that $18 billion.  It can go toward more infrastructure—that‘s what the Republicans seem to want and we need to get it back from those who got these bonuses.

Would that leave them only with their base pay and no bonus?  Would that make it harder for some of them to make their payments on their homes in the Hamptons?  Perhaps, they might have to dig into some savings like other Americans, dig into bonuses from prior years in order to meet the expenses of their lavish lifestyles.

But those bonuses can‘t stand.  It will be very interesting to see who in Congress will come forward with a very simple piece of disgorgement legislation that will simply say, if you accept money from the federal government for your institution there will be no 2008 bonuses—very simple.

OLBERMANN:  And in the future, Wall Street, obviously, they‘re going to be more taxpayer bailout money still headed for Wall Street—did these bonuses just make it more difficult for the Obama administration to parcel them out and did it make easier for the Republicans to sort of proceed with this imaginary ammunition against future bailouts of anything except Republicans?

ALTER:  Well, it obviously is going to make it a harder sell with the American public to, you know, continue to unclog the arteries of commerce.  You know, there is a strong argument to be made that this money into these Wall Street firms was necessary to get our economy going, to stabilize our financial system.  But that $18 billion needs to get returned to the treasury pronto or continuing to stabilize these financial institutions, I think, will be difficult politically.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  Perhaps he should—the Congress should say, “If you do it now we won‘t charge you interest.”

ALTER:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  The president‘s anger, everybody who has ever seen him at almost any stage in this campaign and now into the presidency has said, the columnists, the coolest guy in the room—was this calculated today?  Was it useful to see it?  What was that actual outburst?

ALTER:  Well, he is somebody who, contrary to people‘s assessment of him, does occasionally lose his temper.  I think this did offend his conscience.  But there was something calculated in it as well.  The question is, will he follow it up?

You know, Franklin Roosevelt talked about chasing the money changers from the temple and then, you know, a couple of days later, he had the money changers into his office and decided not to nationalize the banks.  So, sometimes, politicians like to do this tongue-lashing as a substitute for actually imposing, you know, real change.  So I think part of this is going to be whether the administration and the Congress will follow up.  And I hope that there is a public campaign that gets going to get this $18 billion back.

OLBERMANN:  What happens if there isn‘t or if the companies will not cooperate?  Are we seeing the prospect of government versus corporations for the first time, perhaps, in this nation‘s history?

ALTER:  Well, you know, there‘s been a tension throughout American history.  You had some presidents like Teddy Roosevelt, you know, a great trust-buster, talked ability what he called “the malefactors of great wealth.”  So, there was a history that went through Franklin Roosevelt and even in the 1960s of Democratic presidents, in particular, taking on Wall Street.  So, we‘ll see how far Barack Obama is willing to go down this road.

OLBERMANN:  Don‘t get me wrong, I love Teddy, but he did negotiate with those trust while saying he was trying to bust them.

ALTER:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  Something to talk about when we have more time.

Jon Alter of MSNBC and “Newsweek”—as always, great thanks, Jon.

ALTER:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  For a Republican Party that has already, in essence, confessed they can only succeed if the country fails, this is Christmas in January.

Let‘s turn now to Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine.

Good evening, Chris.


OLBERMANN:  So, after giving every excuse for not wanting to vote for the stimulus plan, House Republicans are now blaming everybody but themselves for the failure of the bill.  In some ways, is this as predictable as it is nonsensical?

HAYES:  It‘s totally predictable.  I mean, I kind of wish I‘d have entered a betting pool in how many House Republicans votes there‘d been and we can go because .


HAYES:  . you can just see the writing the wall.  I mean, this was obviously never going to go anywhere.  And part of that is just structural.  I mean, after 2006 and 2008, the people that are left in the House Republican caucus are representing really, really conservative red districts.  I mean, these are not people that have to worry that much about their re-election prospects if they do anything but resist President Barack Hussein Obama.

So, I just don‘t think that there‘s a lot of political leverage right there with the House Republican caucus.  It‘s essentially a rump caucus of right wing zealots at this point.  And I know that sounds strong but it‘s not really too far from the truth.

OLBERMANN:  But what about the Senate?  I mean, the vice president in conversation with John Harwood today indicating that there might be concessions and exchanges with the senators in the Republican Party.  Why?  Why after this performance from them in Congress—why not tell them to, you know, leave the country if they feel like it?


HAYES:  Well, look—there are a few reasons.  I mean, first of all, if the Republicans choose to obstruct by a filibuster, the Democrats don‘t have the votes to win on a straight party line, they‘re going to need to get one, possibly two votes depending on who gets seated.  So, there has to be a little bit of give-and-take.

But I think, the important point to stick to here is that bipartisanship is a means to an end.  It‘s not an end in and of itself.  So, if you can use bipartisan dialogue and back-and-forths to get to a good bill, and that‘s fine; and if Republicans have actually legitimately good ideas, that‘s fine.  The reason that it doesn‘t seem likely is because going to conservatives to have them give you ideas about stimulus is like asking Quakers to draw up your battle plans.  I mean, they are just not, in any way, ideologically predisposed to be productive partners in this discussion.

OLBERMANN:  Was Senator Sessions being, at least, the most honest of all of them today with that declaration, you know, don‘t even bother to pretend to negotiate with the Democrats, just declare now you are going to vote against it?

HAYES:  Yes.  He was being honest.  And you know what?  I actually have respect for the members of the House that represent districts in which the stimulus is not very popular, large government spending is not very popular, and they themselves don‘t believe in it.

So, you know, sure, vote against it.  But the fact of the matter is, that‘s a minority of the country at this point.  And this is the way that democracy works in the end, is that the majority ultimately is going to set the agenda.

Now, that doesn‘t mean they need to be shut out, it doesn‘t mean you need to sort of impugn the patriotism of your opponents or browbeat them, but it does mean, at the end of the day, the policy that‘s going to be passed is going to be a Democratic policy and Democrats are going to succeed or fail politically on how effective it is.

OLBERMANN:  But, to that point of needing some bipartisanship or at least the appearance of it, is there pressure building on the Democrats, Chris, to tell the Republicans, “Look, if you want to play this game where, you know, you talk about bipartisanship and then produce no votes, go ahead.”

HAYES:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  “Go produce your no votes and go on to the wilderness.”  I mean, neither cooperate or you can become the Whig Party of the 21st century?

HAYES:  I think there is.  I mean, look, we are going to get our jobs numbers for the last month, I think in a week.  There are going to be awful, I mean, it‘s a blood bath out there.  I think, at this point, I know a lot of people are losing their job.  I think everyone knows that.  And people are scared.

Second of all, I think that we saw the carrot approach in the House and I think we‘re going to see a little bit more of the stick approach in the Senate.  And the reason for that is that there is about eight or nine Republican senators who are from states that Obama won and they are going to have to answer to their constituents in a way that a lot of the House Republicans didn‘t have to.  So, I think, there is going to be a little more aggressive posture vis-a-vis the Senate Republicans.

OLBERMANN:  Chris Hayes of “The Nation” magazine—as always, thanks, Chris.

HAYES:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  And if you‘d like to see perfect bipartisanship in action, how about a vote of 59-to-nothing, wonderful in its symmetry and followed by yet another vote of 59-to-nothing?  Republicans and Democrats are putting rancor aside to throw Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois out of office.  And wait until you hear what he said after they did it.

And when it comes time to vote on Karl Rove‘s citation for contempt of Congress that might not be unanimous, but after the way Rove described what he intends to do, you‘d have to guess that if he could cast a ballot, it would be a “yes,” because when it comes to Congress, he sure holds it in contempt.


OLBERMANN:  It was Ambassador Joe Wilson‘s dream to see Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House.  Would you settle for seeing him frog-marched into the House of Representatives?  Rove announces his intention to put himself in contempt of Congress by, again, ignoring its subpoena.  Jerrold Nadler of New York, member of the House Judiciary Committee joins us.

First, Rod Blagojevich, as of now, the ex-governor of Illinois.  But, can anybody interrupt his monologue long enough to tell him?  And then what he said from the steps of his home.  That‘s next.



OLBERMANN:  Breaking news: And now he belongs to the ages.  Rod Blagojevich has been removed from office by unanimous vote of the Illinois State Senate and is no longer the governor of Illinois—our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN tonight.  And Pat Quinn, the state‘s lieutenant governor just hours ago, is now the governor of Illinois.

Mr. Blagojevich having been impeached and then tried, and despite a closing argument before the state Senate is now former Governor Blagojevich expelled from office which he refused to resign.  The vote in the state Senate to remove him passed 59 to nothing; only 2/3 of super majority of 40 votes was required and effective immediately.  After the vote was officially recorded, Blagojevich was no longer governor.

A second vote to disqualify him from holding future office in the state of Illinois also passed, 59 to zero.  No third vote was taken on whether or not to bar him from doing anymore TV interviews.

The governor‘s impeachment trial dealt with multiple accusations of wrongdoing, most notably, that Blagojevich tried to sell the Senate seat vacated by then-President-elect Barack Obama.  It is the first time in 21 years that any governor in the U.S. has been removed from office; the last one was Governor Evan Mecham of Arizona in 1988.

After a flurry of interviews in which he talked to just about everybody but the Illinois State Senate, Mr. Blagojevich decided to make an appeal before that body, his closing argument, it lasted about 45 minutes.  Far shorter but far more compelling and weird was what he had to say only minutes ago this evening, outside his home in Chicago—a news conference that was vintage Blagojevich and then some.  Seriously, good golly, why didn‘t you sell tickets?


BLAGOJEVICH:  Let me begin by saying that I‘m obviously sad and disappointed but not at all surprised.  I want to say to all of you, the people of Illinois, who I have been blessed to represent as governor for the last six years, and before that, as a congressman for six years, and before that, as a state legislator, and before that, as a prosecutor, that I love the people of Illinois today, now more than ever did before.


BLAGOJEVICH:  Thank you.  And the fight goes on.

Let me say one more thing to the people in the Latino community—


Get the kids.  Reverend, how are you?  Thank you, it‘s good to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you plan to get—do you plan to write a book?

BLAGOJEVICH:  Get these kids out.


BLAGOJEVICH:  We need their parents‘ permission.  They are minors.

And let me ask you a question, so, if I, like to ask you guys to come and cover me if I want to say something, will you do it?  Will you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you going to call?

BLAGOJEVICH:  Or is this the last hurrah?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It defends on what you‘re going to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You are all welcome to come over Super Bowl Sunday.

BLAGOJEVICH:  Yes.  Hey, how are you doing?


UNIDENTIFIED KID:  Will you play hoops—will you play hoops with me in the summer?

BLAGOJEVICH:  Oh, absolutely.  There are tens of thousands of people across America just like me who are losing their jobs or lost their jobs.  So, I‘m not looking for any pity and I don‘t need anybody to sympathize or feel bad for me because I‘d be just fine.  Patti and I will rebuild our lives.

What I will say to the Serbian community the one I come from and am part of that, again, I haven‘t done anything wrong.  I look forward to proving my innocence.  When it comes to their kids and they think that maybe they can‘t have an equal chance in America because their names are long and hard to pronounce, all they got to do is look at me.

Doctor King had a statement that said that, in the end, you remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of your friends.  Don‘t raise taxes.


OLBERMANN:  And now in Swedish, advice for the governor if he goes to jail, as you‘ll see tonight, if you wind up chained to somebody else by the wrist, remember that you both have to run around the same side of the lamp post.

And in sports, we used to call this the old “El Foldo,” a Georgia congressman tries to show Rush Limbaugh who is boss and winds up begging the owner of the Republican Party for his forgiveness.  Worst Persons is ahead.



OLBERMANN:  Still Bushed in a moment and John Yoo sadist.

First, on this date in 1901, Allen Balcom DuMont was born.  He parlayed his invention perfecting the cathode ray for TV sets into one of the first TV networks which he modestly named after himself.  Dumont went on the air in 1946 with channels 5 in New York and 11 in Washington, though at one point the network had Jackie Gleason on its air, in the mid-‘50s, it became the first one and to date, the only broadcast one ever to flat out “go out of business.”

On that note, let‘s play Oddball.

We begin in Tikrit, Iraq, hometown of Saddam Hussein and le shoe.  Now, also home to a sofa sized statue of a shoe.  Well, I‘m stumped.  A shoe in Iraq, why a shoe in Iraq?  Well, the artist was inspired by this guy—and you remember this.  An act already immortalized on the Internets and now in art.  How is that for the judgment of history?

To Hastings, New Zealand, and an impressive display of damn criminality, two prisoners who managed to escape the courthouse but as they ran away handcuffed together, apparently, neither noticed the lamppost.  Thanks to that stupidity, both of them can now recover from their whiplash back in the big house.  Nice, they had that old-timey piano playing while they were escaping.

And Congress was hesitant to hold Karl Rove in contempt.  He had certainly beaten them to the punch.  Congressman Jerrold Nadler‘s response to Rove‘s remarkable extended middle-finger to the judiciary committee.

And for the last time before the Super Bowl, Coach Mike Tomlin sits down for one more interview.  Why he hid the fact that he was a high school honor student and some questions about Steelers and Cardinals.

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: Body armor-gate.  The secretary of the army, Pete Geren, has ordered the recall of between 16,000 and 20,000 sets of body armor, at least some of it in use in Iraq.  They never tested it.  The brass decided since the vendor they‘ve bought it from had produced good work in the past, they did not have to test anything from the new shipment.

December 8th, 2004 was when that army then asked the Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to do something about the flaws of these armor and vehicle armor and we‘re still dealing with this crap.

Number two: speaking of which, Electrocution-gate.  Just last week, a military investigator decided that the death by electrocution of an American solder in a shower wired by the Halliburton spin-off KBR, one of several such nightmares in Iraq, was negligent homicide.  Guest who just got another $35 million contract from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers?  KBR, to build at something called Camp Hatter in Iraq a power plant, an electrical distribution center and water distribution system.  That combination, electricity, water and KBR, has worked so well in the past. 

Number one, sadism-gate.  That is the only explanation left, clinical sadism.  John Yoo, the Justice Department flunky who wrote the Department‘s first rationalization that torture was legal, is the “Wall Street Journal” of torture today, insisting we must—we must—we must torture people.  President Obama, Yoo hallucinates, quote, “may have opened the door to further terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.  Eliminating the Bush system will mean that we will get no more information from captured al Qaeda terrorists.  Relying on the civilian justice system robs us of the most effective intelligence tool to avert future attacks.” 

That study after study has proven that torture produces unreliable information, that the Bush administration humiliated itself and its nation with its boasting of stopping plots that were laughable to anybody with an IQ over 35, that he and Mr. Bush did more harm to this nation internationally than any terrorist ever could seems to have escaped Mr. Yoo in what must literally be a lust to know that somewhere, somebody was fearing death at the hands of his own government. 

But in his fevered delusions, at least he has given us this.  He has given us a new name for torture.  I think we should use it forever, water boarding, sleep deprivation, sexual degradation, threats, use of animals, as he called it, “the Bush system.” 


OLBERMANN:  On Monday, the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives served a subpoena on Fox News analyst Karl Rove, the former White House advisor, a legal command for Rove to appear and testify about the Bush justice department, how it was politicized, how it went after a Democratic governor and even Republican prosecutors who refused to play ball. 

Now, in our third story on the COUNTDOWN, Rove has announced he will defy the law.  I mean, he will defy the law again.  He did so, of course, in a venue that two weeks ago demanded unquestioning compliance with the US government.  Rove explaining last night that not President Bush still outranks now president Obama apparently because Bush came first. 


KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  I‘ve been directed again on January 16th by the outgoing president‘s legal counsel not to respond to a subpoena, exerting privilege on behalf of the former president. 

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  So you are not even going to show up? 

ROVE:  No. 

O‘REILLY:  If you need a place to hide out, we have it here at “THE FACTOR.”  We have all kinds of tunnels and places we can put you. 

ROVE:  I don‘t need to hide.  I don‘t need to hide. 


OLBERMANN:  Of course, there is no tunnel.  It is technically the female producer‘s escape hatch.  Rove actually forwarded the subpoena to the Obama White House, asking, so guys, what is the current executive branch position on those privileged claims that Mr. Bush asserted last year when he declined to enforce the Rove subpoena issued by the previous Congress. 

We‘re now joined by Congressman Jerry Nadler, who sits on that Judiciary Committee.  Congressman, thanks for your time. 


OLBERMANN:  You gave Mr. Rove a deadline of the 2nd of February to respond.  He has now responded.  What does your committee do about it now? 

NADLER:  Well, if he refuses to show up, we are going to have to vote

a contempt citation.  When we vote the contempt citation, we will have to

bring it to the whole House.  The House presumably will vote the same

contempt citation.  The law then says that a contempt citation voted by the

House, or the Senate, for that matter, is given to the U.S. attorney, quote

this the law—“whose duty it shall be,” unquote, to deliver it to the Grand Jury.  In other words, he must prosecute and enforce the subpoena. 

President Bush, as in so many other things, simply ignored the law and instructed the U.S. attorney not to obey the law and not to enforce the subpoena.  I imagine President Obama will not do the same—will not do the same thing. 

OLBERMANN:  Do you have any communication from the current White House about that? 

NADLER:  No.  It‘s premature. 

OLBERMANN:  OK.  The mechanisms of all this are what?  The FBI had him

would have him brought into the chamber to sit at a witness table? 

NADLER:  That is a different kind of contempt.  That is inherent contempt.  The normal contempt is you simply arrest him.  The Grand Jury indicts him.  You arrest him for contempt, and you put him in jail until he is prepared to testify, to obey the subpoena. 

OLBERMANN:  Is there any precedent, to your knowledge, for what he is claiming, that a no longer sitting president leaves a kind of vestigial privilege to people who may not have even been authorized to have that privilege when the president was still in office? 

NADLER:  I think that there is a certain privilege that does attache even to an ex-president.  But there is no privilege here.  Even if some communications—Executive privilege is a privilege to protect certain communications with the president, so the president can get honest advice.  That‘s all it is.  It is a common law privilege. 

There is certainly no privilege to say that anyone around the president, including the president, certainly after he is president, can not simply refuse to show up.  I mean, a proper exercise of the privilege would be to come to the committee and to object to a specific question and say, I can‘t answer that question on the grounds that it‘s privileged.  Then you could litigate whether, in fact, that was a proper exercise of privilege.  Simply to hold the committee and the Congress in contempt by saying you failed to show up, there is no basis for that in American history, except for Harriet Myers and Mr. Bolten in the last year of the Bush administration, who are just as contemptuous and are under contempt citations now. 

OLBERMANN:  Presumably, barring some totally unexpected action by the

Obama administration, this ends up with Rove appearing before your

committee or sitting in jail until he does so.  If he does finally show up


NADLER:  Well, it would end up with him going to court and then presumably being sentenced to jail until he agrees to appear before the committee. 

OLBERMANN:  But if and when he does appear, and if he denies doing anything illegal, and does not provably commit perjury, what happens then?  What is the absolute end game here? 

NADLER:  Well, he has to answer all legitimate questions.  He has to answer all relevant questions, unless he can assert a privilege.  You can assert a privilege against self-incrimination based on the Fifth Amendment.  You can executive privilege if you can show that answering that question would destroy the right of the president to get frank advice on something.  But, I mean, most of these things there is no claim.  In fact, there is denial that the president knew anything about it, which means, by definition, there is no executive privilege.  You would have to answer those questions.  If he didn‘t, he would be put in jail. 

OLBERMANN:  It has a lovely symmetry to it. 

NADLER:  Yes.  It is exactly the same as, we all remember, when people went before the House Un-American Activities Committee, the McCarthy Committee.  They refused to answer questions.  The courts held in some cases that they didn‘t have the right to do that, and they were put in jail.  Now, those committees were terrible and were abusing their rights, but there is clearly no ability to thumb your nose at Congress and say I‘m not going to show up. 

OLBERMANN:  At least you have to cross that first threshold of coming through the door.  Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York, great thanks for walking us through this.  We appreciate it. 

NADLER:  It is a pleasure. 

OLBERMANN:  The youngest coach in Super Bowl history reveals several things we did not know about his Steelers, about which 8:00 p.m. Eastern news hour he watches. 

And comedian Rush Limbaugh may be able to order Republican Congressmen around like his domestic staff buying stuff for him.  But a cNBC anchor today cleaned the comedian‘s clocked.  Worst persons, ticking. 

When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, the president thinks 22,000 troops might bring victory in Afghanistan.  Dan Rather is just back from there.  He seems to have doubts. 


OLBERMANN:  The youngest coach in Super Bowl history is named the fans‘ choice as coach of the year.  Mike Tomlin, COUNTDOWN viewer, gives his final pregame interview to you, via me.  That‘s next, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 

The bronze to the First Choice Liquor Store in Springfield, Queensland, Australia.  A clerk thought an unnamed 40-year-old woman was shoplifting using a fake pregnancy belly.  He said if she did not pull up her shirt and prove she really was pregnant, he would call the cops.  She complied.  She was pregnant, really pregnant, eight months, two weeks.  The store has made an undisclosed settlement with the woman.  And state legislators are pushing to make it illegal in that part of Australia to strip search anybody in public.

Our silver tonight, Republican Congressman Phil Gingrey of Georgia.  He told that it was counter-productive for conservative radio talkers, like Comedian Rush Limbaugh, to, quote, stand back and throw bricks, rather than offer real leadership.  Mr. Gingrey may be the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, but to paraphrase “Catch 22,” everybody works for Rush-bo. 

Gingrey now says he received a high volume of phone calls and correspondence.  So now he is saying I see eye to eye with Rush Limbaugh.  He even cowed enough to have phoned in an apologize to Limbaugh personally.  He added that Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich were the voices of the conservative movement‘s conscience.  Parenthetically, that explains everything.  The congressman then added baa, baa, baa. 

But our winner, the comedian himself.  Some people are not afraid of the big bad mediocre announcer.  Our cNBC colleague Mark Haines, anything but a raging liberal, today schooled the comedian in flawless fashion over his pretense at being non-partisan in a newspaper article after he said he hoped President Obama failed. 


MARK HAINES, CNBC ANCHOR:  A week after the inauguration, you said he hope he fails.  Are you now admitting that that was a stupid and mean spirited thing to say? 

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  No, it was an accurate thing to say.  It was an honest thing to say.  As a conservative, I want liberalism to fail.  I want the country to succeed.  That is what I meant.  That‘s what I said over and over again.  You have to stop reading these left wing liberal media sites. 

HAINES:  I just listen to you, Rush.  I don‘t read anybody.  I listen to you.  And what I hear is hypocrisy. 


OLBERMANN:  A thing of beauty is a joy forever, Mark Haines.  Comedian Rush Limbaugh, today‘s worst person in the world!


OLBERMANN:  When he stepped on to a stage at the Sun Dome at South Florida University this morning to accept the Motorola Coach of the Year Award, based on voting by the fans, Coach Mike Tomlin of the Super Bowl favorite Pittsburgh Steelers, was asked, not surprisingly, about President Obama.  In our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, our exclusive interview with Tomlin, Obama, it turns out, was almost simultaneously being asked about Tomlin. 


OBAMA:  I wish the Cardinals the best.  Kurt Warner is a great story and he is closer to my age than anybody else on the field.  But I am a long time Steelers fan.  Mr. Rooney, the owner, was just an extraordinary supporter during the course of the campaign.  Franco Harris was campaigning for me in Pittsburgh.  So—

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Coach signed up with you, too. 

OBAMA:  Right.  Coach Tomlin was a supporter.  So I wish the best to the Cardinals.  They‘ve been long suffering.  It is a great Cinderella story.  But other than the bears, the Steelers are probably the team that‘s closest to my heart. 


OLBERMANN:  Mike Tomlin is a fascinating individual.  On Sunday, he will become the youngest coach in Super Bowl history.  He made it to the Super Bowl with just two years of experience.  He is, in fact, a year younger than the quarterback his team will try to beat on Sunday, Kurt Warner of Arizona. 


OLBERMANN:  The Motorola Coach of the Year, a fan vote; so your reaction to it.  What does it mean? 

MIKE TOMLIN, PITTSBURGH STEELERS COACH:  It‘s probably more of a testament to Steeler Nation than anything else.  We have some fiercely loyal fans.  But seriously, it‘s a humbling honor. 

OLBERMANN:  Do you worry about individual honors the week of the Super Bowl, the week—the first one you are the head coach in?  Do you worry about it dropping out of the sky and interrupting what you have planned for this week? 

TOMLIN:  I came down with the mindset that I was going to embrace everything that this week held for us, the spectacle, if you will, of the Super Bowl.  I wasn‘t going to fight it or resist it.  I don‘t want our team to fight it or resist it.  Just to understand that what we came down here to do was to win and to prepare for that, and then ultimately play.  So I am going to put this in that same category with everything else. 

OLBERMANN:  Do you try to keep it separate somewhere along with the idea that you are here, coaching the Super Bowl on Sunday?  Do you try to keep that idea of what that means in terms of your professional success separate from we have a job to do? 

TOMLIN:  Yes.  I don‘t know if I am a big evaluator of where I am professionally.  I just live it.  When you have a perception of what is acceptable or good, ultimately, you put limits on what you are capable of being.  I just go and compete on a day-to-day basis. 

OLBERMANN:  I have a question about the Rooney rule in the NFL, probably not the one you would think would be coming.  For people who are not that familiar with the NFL, it has been the most aggressive of all professional sports about opening doors or knocking down barriers, more correctly, for minority coaching candidates.  Each team is required when it has an opening to do a series of interviews to bring people in the mix. 

Perhaps one of the most unexpected side parts to this is that not only did it afford people opportunities that they deserved and correct a lot of problems in the past, but do you think it has accelerated job prospects, head coaching prospects for younger assistant coaches?  Do you think it sort of eliminated this idea you have to be an assistant coach in the league for 20 years before you should get a shot? 

TOMLIN:  I don‘t know if it has done that.  I just think the success of younger coaches that have been given opportunities has been a bigger component of that.  I think guys like Eric Mangini, with the success that he had early in New York.  Sean Payton, I think, may have been Coach of the Year his first year down in New Orleans.  I think the success of some of those guys have provided opportunities for guys like myself and those that will follow. 

OLBERMANN:  So there‘s never been a thought in your mind that 36 was probably earlier than you would have expected to be in the situation you are in this week? 

TOMLIN:  You know, I maybe thought it was late, you know.  I take it all in stride. 

OLBERMANN:  Let me ask you a couple of questions about the game, surprisingly enough.  This is also a coaching question and it‘s a question about this week.  What have you found that you had to do different?  What is different from this, practically speaking, in terms of preparing a team for a game? 

TOMLIN:  Terms of the preparation, the moments that we work for our team and nobody else is around, it‘s not different at all.  It is a little different because we have had two weeks to prepare.  But the approach that we have taken is one of normalcy. 

OLBERMANN:  How big is it that you have a couple of key guys who have been through this before on the team?  And are they using that experience to help the guys who haven‘t been here before get through the external nonsense? 

TOMLIN:  I think it is helpful.  I think it‘s helpful leading up to the game and dealing with the week itself, the process that you go through, some of the obligations and things that you have to do.  Ultimately, when you kick that ball off, I think we still probably will have a few guys hyperventilating, whether they‘ve been here or not.  It‘s the big game. 

OLBERMANN:  To that point, and much was made of this earlier, before the game, when Ben Roethlisberger admitted to, in his first Super Bowl appearance, being nervous throughout; probably during any other week of the season, people go, oh, that is interesting and move on to the next story.  A big deal was made about that.  Did you have a reaction to that?  Did you know about it?  Were you surprised he said it? 

TOMLIN:  No.  I wasn‘t surprised that he said it.  Ben can be painfully honest at times.  I truly believe he is not the first quarterback that went through that game nervous the entire time. 

OLBERMANN:  One would think, right. 

TOMLIN:  But he is bold enough to admit it. 

OLBERMANN:  The obligatory health question.  How is Hines Ward? 

TOMLIN:  He‘s great. 

OLBERMANN:  I think that is an official listing.  Probable, likely, questionable or he‘s great.  About your opponent, the way the Arizona Cardinals‘ season went, it might be impossible to tell exactly how good they are.  Do you that is a fair assessment or do you think you know exactly how good they are?  And if you don‘t, does it add anxiety to the process? 

TOMLIN:  No.  I think I know how good they are.  I think the way they played ball in January is what they are, is who they are.  They absolutely ran away with their division.  It‘s human nature, when you‘re in the position that they were in, to maybe lose a little bit at the end of the regular season.  No one is pushing them.  When it came time to compete and get in the tournament and play single elimination football, they played to what they are capable of playing. 

OLBERMANN:  People who don‘t know a lot about this game understand that your defense is as good as it gets, maybe as good as it has gotten.  Certainly, the Arizona offense has proved it can just score and score and score, depending on the strength of the defense it is facing.  That varies from week to week.  The other two components; is your offense better than their defense? 

TOMLIN:  You know, we‘ll see.  You know, a lot of times, the match ups that don‘t get the headlines are the ones that decide the outcome of the game.  That is something that we have been talking openly about with our football team.  We are not going to be presumptuous.  We‘re not going to identify potential match ups, or think a game is going to unfold in a certain way.  We ware going to be open to the possibility that this game could be three to two or could be 49 to 48.  That is the reality of it. 

OLBERMANN:  Two final questions.  First one is more a personal one: is this story true that when you were a kid, you hid a bumper sticker that identified you as an honor student?  What is that?

TOMLIN:  That‘s true. 

OLBERMANN:  What‘s the story?

TOMLIN:  That‘s my personal business, you know.  If I was a C or D student, my mom wouldn‘t have put that bumper sticker on the car.  It would have been my personal business.  So the fact that I made good grades, I had the same approach and mentality. 

OLBERMANN:  So it was on the car and did you take it off? 

TOMLIN:  It wasn‘t on the car very long. 

OLBERMANN:  As I said, the final question.  You will meet with other reporters in certain circumstances, but essentially this is the last interview that you have to sit down and do, put the mic on everything else, before the Super Bowl.  How good does that feel? 

TOMLIN:  It feels great, you know?  It feels great, because it is work.  It is work.  And it‘s extra work.  But it is something that comes with this game.  There‘s 30 teams that would love to have these problems. 

OLBERMANN:  Exactly. 

TOMLIN:  We keep that perspective on it.  And I‘m going to do the same. 

OLBERMANN:  We‘ll let you get back to your real job.  Congratulations, again, Mike. 

TOMLIN:  Thank you, sir.  Appreciate it. 


OLBERMANN:  Coach Tomlin added something that is of interest to only you and me and possibly not you.  He watches this newscast.  Not this week, of course.  Tomorrow night, here on COUNTDOWN, my NBC Sports colleague Dan Patrick joins me to preview the match up between the Steelers and the Cardinals.  Then, of course, the big game this Sunday here in Tampa.  Dan, me, Bob, Chris, Tiki, Jerome, Rodney, Coach Mike, Matt, Tom, and 11 others bring you the pregame show beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.  Then they play the game at about 6:28.  But that‘s above my pay grade.  Ask Al Michaels and John Madden.

That is COUNTDOWN for this the 2,091st day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.



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