Guest: Valeri Lucznikowska, Richard Wolffe, Jonathan Turley, Paul F. Tompkins
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Rumors of a stim deal in the Senate with Democratic concession after concession. But as 600,000 more jobs vanished, the Republicans are still claiming Obama is being partisan.
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PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Don‘t come to the table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped to create this crisis.
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OLBERMANN: “No prosecution of CIA interrogators who tortured,” so says Obama‘s new man at CIA. Leon Panetta also caves on calling Bush renditioning, the kidnapping and torture it was.
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SEN. KIT BOND, ® MISSOURI: You stated yesterday that we transported people for the purpose of torture. Would you retract that statement?
LEON PANETTA, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: Yes, I would retract that statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The president meets with 9/11 and Cole families, some not happy with him freezing prosecutions and closing Gitmo. One of the 9/11 aunts at that meeting today joins us to talk about a president who actually listened to people who disagreed with him.
Naming Bristol Palin: The governor says she worked at the Bristol Inn. Hubby was from Bristol Bay. But, also, yes, it was because she wanted to be a sportscaster at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut.
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OLBERMANN: When the Tampa Bay Lightning took the ice at Expo Hall tonight looking for their first victory, they had already gotten it.
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OLBERMANN: I had nothing to do with this. The daughter was born before I got to ESPN.
Eight kids at once, 14 in all. But still, she‘s a couple embryos short of a full litter, if you know what I mean.
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ANN CURRY, NBC NEWS: You didn‘t want just one or two embryos?
NADYA SULEMAN, OCTUPLET‘S MOTHER: Of course not, I wanted them all transferred. Those are my—those are my children and that‘s what was available and I used them. I took a risk. It‘s a gamble.
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OLBERMANN: Matchup of the Month: Billo the Clown meets Christian Bale.
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BILL O‘REILLY, TV HOST: This is not right on the TelePrompTer. I don‘t know what that is. I‘ve never seen that.
CHRISTIAN BALE, ACTOR: I want you off the (BLEEP) set, you (BLEEP).
O‘REILLY: OK. But—
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OLBERMANN: And Worsts: Rupert Murdoch finally admits it, “We have never been a company, arrr, that tolerates facts.” Finally, somebody besides me knows the truth. I‘m not alone!
All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.
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BALE: (BLEEP) sake, man, you‘re amateur.
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OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening.
Whether compromise or fatally-compromised, only the future can tell us. Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN tonight: Breaking news with lawmakers in the Senate this evening reaching a tentative deal on a stimulus bill with a $780 billion price tag. The compromise: 42 percent tax cuts. A very little use to what we learned today where 600,000 more Americans who had their jobs cut last month, the worst month in a third of a century.
The president is warning today that any further foot-dragging on the rescue package would be catastrophic, saying it is inexcusable and irresponsible for Congress to get bogged down in distraction and delay while millions of Americans are being put out of work. The clock is ticking today as the senators met behind the closed door of the Democrat leader where a bipartisan group of moderates discussed ways to cut $100 billion or more from the measure which had reached $940 billion.
Meanwhile, new amendments kept coming to the point that at one point this afternoon, Senator Max Baucus, the chairman of the finance committee pleads with his colleagues—no more amendments. Democratic Leader Reid tonight discussing the tentative deal with his members hoping all of them will support what will be a tough sell among more some liberal Democrats, possibly troubled that nearly half of the measure is now tax cuts.
Last night, addressing the House Democratic Caucus at the start of its annual issues conference at Williamsburg, Virginia the president reminding his audience that his Republican critics, now complaining about the cost of the rescue package when the nation‘s got a huge deficit, were the ones who created the deficit.
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OBAMA: First of all, I found this deficit when I showed up.
OBAMA: Number one.
OBAMA: I found this national debt doubled, wrapped in a big bow waiting for me as I stepped into the Oval Office.
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OLBERMANN: The president, in a speech reminiscent of some of his best efforts on the stump during the 2008 election, is saying it is time to turn things around.
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OBAMA: I don‘t care whether you‘re driving a hybrid or an SUV. If you‘re headed for a cliff, you‘ve got to change direction. That‘s what the American people called for in November and that‘s what we intend to deliver.
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OLBERMANN: Mr. Obama also eviscerating the main Republican talking point against a rescue package.
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OBAMA: Then you get the argument, “Well, this is not a stimulus bill, this is a spending bill.” What do you think a stimulus is?
OBAMA: That‘s the whole point. No, seriously. That‘s the point.
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OLBERMANN: This morning on the floor of the Senate, Republican Senator John McCain—also having traveled in the way-back machine to the 2008 presidential election—firing back at his now non-opponent.
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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, ® ARIZONA: The whole point, Mr. President, is to enact tax cuts and spending measures that truly stimulate the economy.
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OLBERMANN: Except that less than three minutes before that, Mr.
McCain had blasted the tax cuts in the stim as ineffective.
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MCCAIN: Mr. President, the American people are figuring it out, that this is not a stimulus bill, it is a spending bill full of unnecessary spending, and, of course, tax cuts which really do not stimulate the economy.
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OLBERMANN: OK. Minutes ago on the floor of the Senate, moderate Republican Susan Collins of Maine explained why she believes what is essentially her compromise on this is a huge improvement over the rescue package passed in the House.
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SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, ® MAINE: It was a Christmas tree upon which every member, virtually, had hung his or her favorite project. It was bloated, expensive, and ineffective. This compromise greatly improves the bill.
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OLBERMANN: Time now to call in our own political analyst, Richard Wolffe.
Good evening, Richard.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. Obviously, the moderates, the Democratic moderates made this deal. Sherrod Brown was quoted about this before and several others. What about the other Democrats? Are they going along with this?
WOLFFE: Yes, I think, they are. Look—everyone is feeling the same pressure here, and the pressure comes not slightly here from the economic numbers which we just saw today, these terrible unemployment numbers. Nobody wants to go out there and face their own members in their districts or in their states and saying that they didn‘t do something when the president was saying it had to be done.
So, yes, people are going to get onboard. They‘re going to be unhappy. Yes it‘s rushed. No, not every piece of spending is going to be in there.
But in the end, the economic pressure, the political pressure from this president, is just going to be too great. And that was always the case with this bill. This was all symbolic from the beginning, but now, it‘s coming to a head.
OLBERMANN: Some Republicans said, to the point of it being rushed, that they thought it was ludicrous that once a compromise had been reached that a vote was to be taken within a matter of hours. Are they going to vote tonight? Are they going to wait over the weekend? What do we think is going to happen logistically?
WOLFFE: Well, it does look like—the latest information is that they want to read things a little more slowly. Maybe they‘re not the fastest readers here, but they want to wait until Sunday. And there‘s a piece of politics in there, too.
Harry Reid doesn‘t want to force this to a vote because things have been rushed so far, and people are feeling slighted in some ways. These are senators. They think they‘re members of the world‘s greatest deliberative body, so give them an extra day or two and things will be happier.
OLBERMANN: And Senator Kennedy who has not been back at work since he collapsed at the Capitol luncheon on the day of the inauguration, is he, in fact, as rumored, going to be coming back to vote on this and how critical is his vote to it?
WOLFFE: Well, every vote is critical and I think he has a track record of making the dramatic gesture. This is certainly one of those times when it may be called for. You hesitate to say that anything is worth disturbing someone in his position, but every vote really does count.
And remember, without the Minnesota race being resolved as well and Al Franken being seated, you know, every vote really does count. Having said that, there are do seem to be enough senators making this compromise, Democrats and Republicans here, that they will have enough votes. But, again, Senator Kennedy made those dramatic gestures before. He was there in the convention. So, I think he might just be able to make it for this.
OLBERMANN: Richard, as sort of a subtext to this, what was Senator McCain doing? It looked like he was still, in fact, fighting the last—the second week of November part of the election campaign last year. What was that all about?
WOLFFE: Well, he doesn‘t seem to have gained any clarity in his economic argument since the election, but the Republican Party is showing that it still has some life in it and there is a vacuum there, a leadership vacuum as the last person to not only lead the party, he is an important voice.
So, I think he was sort of showing that he is still an important player. He still does have a base. But in the end, they‘re going to lose. They‘re going to lose this because the White House will get what it wants. They are shuffling around some the proportions of tax cuts to everything else.
But, you know, the spending that they cut out here, they‘re going to have to return to because the bulk is for states and there are Republican governors out there—Republican governors who supported John McCain, who are going to come back and say, “We can‘t meet our commitments. Give us more money.”
OLBERMANN: And that concept of price of the tax cuts constituting 42 percent of this whole deal—are the Republicans going to trot out with that as a victory over President Obama or is there something fallacious in that argument?
WOLFFE: Well, it is much easier for them to oppose various piece meal items of spending. In the end, they‘re going to have to decide whether they‘d say, “We voted against it, we opposed it all along,” or they‘re going to say, “We made it better.” They cannot have it both ways. And the messaging piece is going to be much harder for Republicans coming out of it because—again, nobody wants to say they got in the way of creating jobs.
OLBERMANN: All right. We‘ll monitor this and we‘ll pick up the thread if for some reason it turns out to be a vote tonight. We know, officially, there is not.
But for now, MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe—great thanks, have a good weekend if we don‘t talk again.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Also on the Hill today, President Obama‘s choice to lead the CIA, former Clinton chief of staff, Leon Panetta, vowing to run an agency that sounds an awful lot like the awful one of Mr. Bush. Panetta, after today‘s hearing, is telling the “Associated Press,” it is official administration policy not to prosecute any CIA officers who might have tortured people because they were following what they thought were legal orders from a president.
And at his hearing, back peddling from his testimony yesterday, that the U.S. had renditioned terror suspects, including sending them overseas to governments that tortured people—well, to other governments. Republican Senator Kit Bond pressing him and concluding bizarrely, blaming news reports for the CIA‘s bad intel.
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BOND: You stated yesterday that we transported people for the purpose of torture. Now, nothing you‘ve said tells me that you have any solid information for that. Do you have any information? So, would you retract that statement?
PANETTA: Senator, on that particular quote that people were transferred for purposes of torture, that was not the policy of the United States. It was clearly to transfer people for purposes of questioning or receiving assurances that that would not take place. So to that extent, yes, I would retract that statement.
BOND: All right. Because that‘s a serious assertion, maybe media, liberal blogs—but having made that statement, you, not a private citizen but as a nominee for this very important position, cannot be making statements or making statements or making judgments based on rumors or news stories. And that was one of the elements that was the—at the base of our misinformation and the bad intelligence we got.
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OLBERMANN: We‘ll try to explain that bit of Kabuki Theater in a moment, but, in fact, the administration ginned up bogus CIA intel from people like Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi who, after he was renditioned to Egypt, claimed that Saddam Hussein offered to train al Qaeda operatives about WMD. The reason they got bad information is that they beat it out of him. It was according to a liberal blog? No, to Dan Coleman, FBI veteran who worked closely with the CIA on terrorism.
And which liberal blog demanded that the policies of the United States, quote, “Do not result in the transfer of individuals to other nations to face torture”? That was WhiteHouse.gov on January 22nd, one of the first executive orders from President Barack Obama.
Let‘s turn now to Professor Jonathan Turley, scholar of constitutional law at George Washington University, in the wake of what Mr. Panetta said today.
Thanks for your time, Jon.
JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: You‘ve addressed this before. Please summarize it again. On the assumption that you are going to prosecute those who ordered, why can‘t you ignore those who perpetrated?
TURLEY: Well, it‘s astonishing how cavalier some members of this new administration are being. You know, we established the rule that just following orders is not a defense. We executed people who argued that after World War II. It doesn‘t mean that there‘s not a legal defense to protect CIA officials, but that comes with an investigation. You have an investigation and you don‘t state an irrebuttable presumption the way that they did here.
And I think the rest of the world is looking at this and saying, “My Lord, the nation that helped create the international law governing human rights and war crimes is saying just following orders is a clear and unimpeachable defense.”
OLBERMANN: All right. Let‘s look for a silver lining in this. Is there any reason to infer from what Panetta said that in fact they would be prosecuting or chasing those who ordered if not those who actually perpetrated?
TURLEY: Well, I‘d love to say that. But that‘s the line that we‘ve all been waiting to come after each of these tirades. The Obama administration says passionately over and over again, “We won‘t let anyone prosecute people accused of being torturers,” but they don‘t follow up by saying, “Of course, we will investigate those who ordered torture.”
In the absence of that statement leaves many of us very concerned because it is the law. It is what we agreed to. It‘s the foundations of war crimes.
And, by the way, you can‘t say you‘re going to prosecute terrorists and say you‘re not sure if you‘ll prosecute war crimes. They‘re cut from the same bolt. They are equal violations of international law.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Absolutely. Why would Panetta blink on the factuality of the renditioning for torture? I mean, should that make us worry or is that just the sort of thing that you say to get the hearing over with fast where you‘re talking to some crazy senator like he seemed to be in that case?
TURLEY: Well, I couldn‘t believe when he retracted that statement, because those stories are based on statements made by people in the administration. These stories quote people as saying that we have used rendition so that someone can be tortured. And one guy said, I think in the “Washington Post,” “We don‘t beat these guys up. We send them to other places to have them beaten up.”
Well, that‘s not a liberal blog. That‘s not a newspaper. That‘s the people involved in the process. And it is part of the great shame that we were hoping this administration could at least partially lift from this nation.
OLBERMANN: Yes. We didn‘t send al-Libi out to Egypt so he could visit the baths. We send him there to .
OLBERMANN: They said, “Beat him up and get the answers we wanted to justify an unjustifiable war.”
Last question—what about Panetta in there hanging or hinging his answer—I guess is a better way to phrase it—on the notion that it was not official U.S. policy to rendition for torture. Does that tell us anything about his thinking?
TURLEY: Well, unfortunately, it preserves the very ambiguity that the previous administration created and flourished in. By saying that things aren‘t policy, they allowed themselves to argue when these things came forward that they were just rogue employees, they were just a bunch of guys who got out of control. And in reality, it was the culture, and the culture was created by a known policy.
OLBERMANN: Jonathan Turley of George Washington University—if you‘re worried, I‘m worried. Great thanks, Jon.
TURLEY: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: There is another security issue for the president tonight, the suspension of prosecutions at Gitmo and its eventual closure. Not all the families of the victims of 9/11 or the Cole bombing agree with that. So, President Obama met with many of them, including many fiercely opposed.
One of the family members at the meeting at the White House today joins us tonight. A president who listens to people who disagree with him. Goodness.
OLBERMANN: Pushback in the Senate. John McCain has just said this is not a bipartisan stimulus bill or agreement on a stimulus package; it‘s just a couple of Republicans now supporting a Democratic plan. The White House is saying off-the-record that it is now just happy that the train is still on the tracks.
Inside the White House, and the president‘s meeting there this afternoon with 9/11 families, many of whom are protesting his decisions about Gitmo.
Governor Palin now confirmed she named her daughter Bristol in part because of the name of the city ESPN is in. I swear I was nowhere near that city when her daughter was born.
And—Rupert Murdoch rationalizing a $6 billion corporate loss in the last quarter of 2008, reveals the amazing truth about fixed news. “We have never been a company that tolerates facts.” They should tattoo that on Billo.
Worst Persons is ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: On September 14th, 2001, President Bush stood atop the still burning remains of the World Trade Center and promised 3,000 dead and those who loved them that “those responsible would hear us soon.” Until then, he had done nothing to avenge the 17 dead in the al Qaeda bombing of the USS Cole just prior to his election. Eight years later, Mr. Bush has retired, Osama bin Laden has not, and the family of al Qaeda‘s victims still wait for the trials of those few Mr. Bush did capture.
Our fourth story tonight: Today, some of those families met with a new president—for nearly two hours. The meeting came after Mr. Obama‘s request for 120 days continuance in military commissions‘ trials at Guantanamo Bay. He‘s ordered to close Gitmo by next year which some victims‘ groups oppose, and it came one day after charges were dropped without prejudice against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, accused of organizing the 2000 bombing that killed the 17 sailors onboard the Cole.
Just so we are clear, those charges can be re-filed and if al-Nashiri had been allowed to plead guilty as was scheduled on Monday, double jeopardy would have prevented the government from trying al-Nashiri in a proper court of justice.
With us tonight, Valerie Lucznikowska, pardon me (ph) for doing that to your name. Her 37-year-old nephew, Adam Arias, died on September 11th, trying to escape from the World Trade Center. She is a member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and she participated in that meeting today with President Obama.
Thank you for taking some time with us tonight.
VALERIE LUCZNIKOWSKA, 9/11 FAMILIES FOR PEACEFUL TOMORROWS: Thank you for having me here.
OLBERMANN: We want know obviously what happened. But set the stage first, what was the point of the meeting and what were you hoping for?
LUCZNIKOWSKA: Well, the point of the meeting, I think, was for President Obama to get a feeling and to meet any questions that 9/11 family members might have and USS Cole people, as well. There were quite a number of them there. I think all together, we were somewhere around 40, 35 to 40 people. And I think the purpose was for him to make contact with us.
One of the people from the, one of the family members from the Cole mentioned, this was the only time I heard a little bit of anger in someone‘s voice there, this man said that they had been trying to meet with President Bush for a long time and Bush evidently just turned them down flat. And everyone in the room was extremely appreciative of this meeting. I don‘t think many of us had very much of an idea of how it was going to take place and, in fact, it was supposed to take place in the White House. It took place in the Executive Office Building.
And we really didn‘t even know, we weren‘t sure that we were going to meet with the president, but he did tell us that he spent the longest amount of time, it was the longest meeting he held today. He did tell us, and he spoke for a short while and then he took questions from the people there, he mentioned that he wanted to tell us why he closed Guantanamo, because that it - “Guantanamo is a physical symbol,” he said, of a lot of things that went wrong, and it has become intertwined, I think he said, “entangled with the feelings about Abu Ghraib” and he wants to disentangle that and he wants essentially to restore our relations with people around the world who have not been looking at us with a very good eye.
He explained that he needed—he felt that we needed our allies to help us because there are still people out there who want to attack the United States and we need our allies to be with us all the way and help us isolate those people and help us find them and stop them from anything they might want to do.
OLBERMANN: Did you get the sense that—obviously everybody could not be satisfied in these set of circumstances—but did you get the sense that everybody was satisfied they‘d been heard?
LUCZNIKOWSKA: I was extremely satisfied that everyone was like that. I know a number of the people who were there and there were wildly differing opinions. And—however, the questions that were asked, some of the fears about national security, one woman who was very concerned and I think would prefer to keep Guantanamo open asked him—well, what happens if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed goes into trial in the United States, and under U.S. law he‘s allowed to ask for all of the prosecution‘s proof against him? That would mean we would have to declassify so much information.
And President Obama said he had no intention, he made sure that we understood, he had absolutely no intention of declassifying any important information. He said that his administration, he‘s trying to make it as transparent as possible, but he will not—first of all, he said, he would not prejudge what his people are going to find in this pause in the trials at Guantanamo. He will wait until they have made their findings.
He also used a word that I‘ve used before, “This is a very naughty problem to deal with.” So he can‘t speak in advance but he will not, he said, very surely, he will not declassify or let be known any state secrets that are of importance.
OLBERMANN: Valerie Lucznikowska, our condolences on the loss of your nephew on 9/11, and we thank you greatly for your insight as to today‘s meeting. Thank you much.
LUCZNIKOWSKA: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Billo meets Bale in an online cuss-off and Billo‘s boss with the most remarkable admission ever about FOX News. Worst Persons is ahead.
And it‘s official. Governor Palin named her daughter in part for a TV network at which I used to be a principal. You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC—not Ms. NBC Palin but MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment. Yes, I said a guy who just held up a 7-11 was using a Klingon weapon from “Star Trek.” First, on this date in 1895 was born George Herman Babe Ruth, still easily America‘s most famous athlete ever, and given his prowess as a hitter and a pitcher, probably its most talented one. He was born around the corner from the site of the now Baltimore baseball stadium. And during its construction, parts of his father‘s saloon were discovered in what became the field, including the saloon‘s out house. Put two and two together here. Let‘s play Oddball.
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OLBERMANN: We begin at the end of what has been an awful week for actor Christian Bale. He has today apologized for his profanity filled detonation at a co-worker on a movie set. On the Internet, the tirade, recorded somehow, has been mixed into songs and various other quote mash ups. But tonight from the Net comes the awful truth of just who provoked the actor.
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: And that is it for us today.
CHRISTIAN BALE, ACTOR: What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) are you doing?
O‘REILLY: Whatever it is, it‘s not right on the teleprompter. I don‘t know what that is. I‘ve never seen that.
BALE: I want you off the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) set.
O‘REILLY: OK. I can‘t read it. There‘s no words on it.
BALE: What don‘t you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) understand?
O‘REILLY: There‘s no words there. To play us out; what does that mean? To play us out?
BALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) man, you‘re amateur. What don‘t you get about it? Are you professional or not?
O‘REILLY: I don‘t know what that means, to play us out. What does that mean? To end the show?
BALE: No, no, no.
O‘REILLY: All right. Go. Go.
BALE: You‘re unbelievable, man. You‘re un (EXPLETIVE DELETED) believable.
O‘REILLY: That‘s tomorrow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In five, four—
BALE: Give me a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) answer.
O‘REILLY: That‘s tomorrow and that is it for us today. And we will leave you with a—I can‘t do it. We‘ll do it live.
BALE: Let‘s go again.
O‘REILLY: We‘ll do it live. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Do it live! I‘ll write it and we‘ll do it live.
BALE: Oh, good for you.
O‘REILLY: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) think sucks.
BALE: If you don‘t shut up for a second. All right?
O‘REILLY: That‘s tomorrow and that is it for us today. I‘m Bill O‘Reilly. Thanks for watching. We‘ll leave you with Sting and a cut off his new album. Take it away.
BALE: Stay off the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) set, man. Seriously, man.
You and me are done professionally.
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OLBERMANN: Bristol Palin, it‘s confirmed now, named in part for ESPN of Bristol, Connecticut. Don‘t look at me. She was born before I got there. And desperately trying to look like Angelina Jolie, desperately trying to out-child Angelina Jolie, the train wreck of the week. The mother of the octuplets in her first interview.
These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world.
Number three, best bad driver, Elvis Alonzo Barrett of Boyton Beach, Florida, got his 50th traffic citation yesterday morning. His 50th of yesterday morning, all from one incident, in which he ran red lights, hit a fence and another car and had a crack pipe in his car.
Number two, best political lie, the manatee. Twice this week, while discussing Republicans holding up the stimulus plan, he identified Mark McKinnon only as a, quote, Democratic pollster. McKinnon was on Fox last month and identified himself as a Republican, which is probably true, given that he was chief media adviser to President Bush and then Senator McCain. Geez Louise, you mean Colmes was the brains of that outfit?
Number one, best dumb criminal, police in Colorado Springs looking for a guy who held up a 7-11 using a Klingon weapon from “Star Trek.” It was Batlech (ph), the three foot long double pointed scimitar preferred by most Klingon warriors. The cops say the suspect should be considered armed, dangerous, and likely to own a life-sized poster of Jerry Ryan dressed up as seven of nine.
OLBERMANN: We know of at least three unfortunate children out there actually named for my former network ESPN, pronounced ESPN, which is also actually the 144th favorite name for baby boys in Norway, but spelled in this case ESPN. So, Bristol Palin, daughter of governor Sarah, could have been worse. Our third story tonight, the governor confirming now that her eldest child was named, in part, for the city in which ESPN is headquartered, a byproduct of governor mom‘s original dream of becoming a sports caster there.
The confirmation from Palin‘s interview in “Esquire Magazine,” when she explains there were actually three inspirations. “I worked at the Bristol Inn and Todd grew up in Bristol Bay. But also Bristol, Connecticut is the home of ESPN. And when I was in high school, my desire was to be a sports caster. ESPN was just kicking off, just getting off the ground. And I thought that‘s what I would do in life, is be one of the first women sports casters, until I learned that you have to move to Bristol, Connecticut.”
She said that, not me. “It was far away. So instead I had a daughter and named her Bristol.” Problem solved. The governor also said, quote, “everything I‘ve needed to know I‘ve learned through sports.”
For the record, the governor actually did at least two sportscasts for two different Anchorage TV stations in 1988. Bristol Palin was born on October 18th, 1990. I did not go to Bristol, Connecticut to work for ESPN until January 3rd, 1992. However, I did spend two weeks guest hosting Roy Firestone‘s ESPN show “Sports Look” in October, 1989, including October 18th, a year to the day before Bristol Palin was born.
At this point, let‘s turn it over to comedian Paul F. Tompkins, also the host of VH-1‘s “Best Week Ever.” Good evening, Paul.
PAUL F. TOMPKINS, COMEDIAN: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Bottom line here is I had nothing to do with this. Right?
TOMPKINS: Keith, if I may quote the Oscar winning screenplay of the film “Good Will Hunting,” it‘s not your fault.
OLBERMANN: Thank you. Second bottom line, Bristol Palin is damn lucky her name is not ESPN Palin or Secaucus Palin. Right?
TOMPKINS: I guess. It‘s not that much of an improvement. It‘s sort of like saying the poor little boy whose parents named him Adolph Hitler would have been better off as Mr. Adolph Hitler.
OLBERMANN: ESPN has no record of her actually sending in an audition tape. But this timeline she set up, Bristol was named essentially as a memorial to her mother‘s abandoned sports casting dreams in October, 1990. If somehow she had gone to ESPN as a sports caster, she would have been there in like ‘89, ‘90, ‘91 or ‘92, which is when I got there. It‘s two months ago when she saw this picture of me and shouted at the guy who showed it to her, oh he‘s evil.
So in the alternative universe, what happened? Did I work with her at Sports Center? Did she get my job? Am I actually governor of Alaska in the alternate universe?
TOMPKINS: Is Joe the Plumber hosting COUNTDOWN. This is getting a little too trippy for your viewers who like to sync up your show to “Dark Side of The Moon.”
OLBERMANN: Thank you. Also in the “Esquire” article, Paul, the governor said she bites her lip to avoid making wise cracks, because of the position she‘s in. So when at the convention she said that a small town mayor is kind of like being a community organizer, only you have actual responsibilities, do we know what happened? Did she bite her lip and miss or what?
TOMPKINS: Oh, well she didn‘t bite her lip on that, because it wasn‘t a wise crack. It was a complete dismissal of what those people are and what they do. It‘s the old speech making maxim, if cracking wise, then bite your lip. But if dismissing, let her rip.
OLBERMANN: Besides saying that sports taught her everything she knows, she also said the campaign would have gone better if she‘d had a daily run because, quote, sweat is my sanity. Now, is this just me or does this give a bad name to both politics and sports and sweat?
TOMPKINS: Yes. She managed to actually insult sweat, in addition to that. It‘s a special brand of self-absorption that can insult a bodily fluid.
OLBERMANN: Well, if you can self-absorb sweat, you can solve a lot of problems too. That‘s neither here nor there. While we have you, let‘s shift gears a little bit too. The actor Val Kilmer, who used to be Batman, now says he is actually considering running for governor of New Mexico in 2010 after Bill Richardson‘s second term would end. We know Mr. Freeze was elected governor of California. But this part about Batman as governor of New Mexico is a good idea how?
TOMPKINS: Well, it might be unfair to judge Val Kilmer by the terrible movie “Batman Forever,” when in comparison to judging Arnold Schwarzenegger by the atrocious movie “Batman and Robin.” If you‘re going to judge governorships by terrible Batman movies, New Mexico could do a lot worse than Val Kilmer, like one sequel worse.
OLBERMANN: And again, not to belabor this, but is there somebody from the Batman movies you would like to see running a state?
TOMPKINS: Maybe the Scarecrow. I feel like he‘d be intimidating.
OLBERMANN: I think we just missed the chance when Burgess Meredith passed away. He would have been great, the penguin. Of course that great campaign debate, as we saw. Paul F. Tompkins, host of VH-1‘s “Best Week Ever,” have the best weekend ever, Paul. Thanks for coming in.
TOMPKINS: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: She had octuplets. She looks like she‘s trying to imitate Angelina Jolie any way she can. And she just gave a car wreck interview to beat all car wreck interviews to Ann Curry, which we will play for you. Oh, boy.
All I can say about worsts is thank goodness for Rupert Murdock‘s honesty. When Rachel Maddow joins you at the top of the hour, her special guest is Madeleine Albright on the diplomatic challenges the Obama administration faces, like Russia trying to mess with us in Afghanistan.
But first, because they may be gone, but their deeds outlive them, the headlines are lingering from the previous administration‘s 50 running scandals, still Bushed.
Number three, burrowing-gate. This is the definition of Still Bushed. Senator Feinstein of California is pushing an investigation of at least three Bush political appointees who may have found loop holes permitting them to keep influential jobs in their government departments despite the change of government. Feinstein‘s keeping the names quiet, just in case these are innocent bystanders somehow. But the Associated Press says one of them is Tara Jones, special assistant to the Pentagon Office of Detainees.
Now, if that name sounds vaguely familiar, it is because it was her e-mails, obtained by the “New York Times,” that outlined the so-called Pentagon pundits scandal, in which the Bush administration and the Pentagon was pushing a series of ex-generals onto TV networks, feeding them talking points, even the ones that might still have had business relationships with the Pentagon. And Tara Jones is now considered perhaps a civil service employee at the Obama Pentagon.
Number two, bail out-gate and the story of how the banks we bailed out are treating their customers, their dead customers. This is from Paul Kelleher (ph) who called to advise Bank of America that his mother, B of A credit card holder Teresa Hat (ph), had just passed away. Mr. Kelleher says that the Bank of America representative he talked to briefly expressed condolences, then asked how Kelleher planned to pay the small balance remaining on his mother‘s card. “I‘m not going to,” he told the bank. “She has no estate to speak of, but you should feel free to go through the standard probate procedure. I‘m certainly not legally obligated to pay for her.”
Kelleher says the rep responded, you mean you‘re not going to help her out? Kelleher answered, I wouldn‘t be helping her out. She‘s dead. I‘d be helping you out. Kelleher then says the rep matter of factly added “that‘s really not the way to look at it. I know that if it were my mother, I‘d pay it. That‘s why we‘re in the banking crisis we‘re in, banks having to write off defaulted loans.” Kelleher added he thought the rep sounded like she was reading this crazy claim that the unpaid credit card debts of dead people caused the meltdown. He said it sounded like Bank of America policy. And TPM Muckraker found an ex-B of A collections unit guy who said it sure was. Class all the way.
Number one, Andy Card is a fool-gate. We mentioned yesterday this claim that by appearing in shirt sleeves in the Oval Office, President Obama was, Card said, damaging, quote, the Constitution, the hopes and dreams and I‘m going to say democracy, and that the president, any president should always wear a jacket in the Oval Office, the way President Bush always wore a jacket in the Oval Office.
Mr. Card, perhaps this will refresh your memory. Ah ha! January 22nd, 2001, two days after his inauguration, the guy on the right—I don‘t know if you remember him—it‘s President Bush in shirt sleeves. Mr. Card, you can apologize to President Obama any time you‘d like. I‘d suggest you include the phrase, quote, I am a buffoon, unquote, but use your own judgment, if any.
OLBERMANN: Fourteen kids, no income, no father, no house and she says her octuplets were from six embryos placed in her womb. And here come the legal investigations. The cultural train wreck that is the Nadya Suleman interview next. But first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Glenn Beck of Fixed News. Responds to the president signing SCHIP, the kids‘ insurance program, by using his mind if any, “we‘re on the road to socialism. I‘m just saying, wow. We got that SCHIP going for us. Hey, I got an idea, if we‘re going down the road to socialism, why not really go for it? Comrades, good news from the western front. Our glorious revolution is starting to take hold. Oh, the revolution of change. Our fearless leader has just signed in SCHIPs. And earlier today, he spoke out against capitalism.”
Beck did this on a show whose debut was advertised in a series of commercials in which he insisted it was time for people to stop calling politicians they did not like communists. The betting line is not yet out from Vegas, but I am going to wager large cash that he is actually crazy.
The runner-up, Bill-O the Clown, sent his stalker producer, little Jesse, out to abuse Russell Tice, the NSA whistle blower, who joined us two weeks ago to reveal what he knows of the agency‘s panoramic illegal spying on American reporters and other citizens. Mr. Tice said I have no comment for you guys. I have already spoken. That is enough. And suggested if they wanted more details, they should go and stalk George Bush and ask him.
I love Russ Tice. Bill-O, of course, followed the ambush video and said, the bottom line on this is that Tice made some very serious accusations. He went on NBC News—actually, he went on MSNBC. Pay attention. “He went on NBC News and he cannot back them up. Now, if we are wrong, he can join us at any time. But he cannot back them up. He is disgraceful and so is NBC News.”
Sounds very morally upright. But in fact, Bill-O sent little Jesse out to try to sand bag Russ Tice because Tice insulted O‘Reilly. Apparently that‘s illegal. An O‘Reilly producer named Ron Mitchell had e-mailed Tice and asked him to come on the show and Tice replied that Mitchell‘s boss was slime and added, “as a true conservative Republican, I can say Bill O‘Reilly is a disgrace to all conservatives.”
But our winner, in a fixed news trifecta, Rupert. His company, Newscorp, lost six billion 400 million dollars in the final quarter of 2008. It has now forecast a 30 percent drop in profits for the first half of 2009. Wall street thought the drop would only be at worse half that. If I were O‘Reilly, I‘d tell you that Newscorp hemorrhaged cash because of Fox and O‘Reilly‘s fascism and stuff like that. But I live in the real world. All media is being crushed, especially TV, although apparently only two newscasts in America exceeded financial projections in 2008. Golly, happened to be mine and Rachel‘s.
Nevertheless, Rupert is hemorrhaging money and his response to this was bizarre even for him. He may have coined a new slogan for Fox Noise. In fact, he may have coined the most honest new slogan for Fox Noise ever. “While it‘s impossible to be completely prepared for a downturn of this magnitude, we began priming ourselves for a weakening economy last year.” Shiver me timbers. “We implemented strict cost cutting measures across all our operations. We reduced head count in individual businesses where appropriate.” You will be keeping a civil tongue in your head when you talking to the good captain. “And we scaled back on capital expenditures. Even on finance terms, we have never been a company that tolerates facts.”
Oh, my god. The new slogan. Fox News, we have never been a company that tolerates facts! Rupert, beware Tim Hawkins, Sean Hannity be below decks, Murdock, today‘s worst person in the world!
OLBERMANN: Oh, sure. At first blush, giving birth to eight kids at once to join the six you already have, even though there‘s no father, no relationship, you don‘t have your own home and you insist you‘re going to give them all you‘ve got, but you are going back to school—oh, sure at first blush, that sounds completely rational. But in our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, wait until you see Ann Curry‘s interview with Nadya Suleman of Whittier, California, which may make you wonder if the woman admires and wants to emulate Angelina Jolie way too damned much.
Plus, after this interview, it turns out the medical board of California decided it wanted to know exactly what kind of whacked out quack of a fertility doctor would implant at least six embryos in one womb. There is no womb at the inn. Before we play the interview, you might want to put on a lobster bib or at least sit well back from your TV.
ANN CURRY, NBC ANCHOR: People feel, you know, this woman is being completely irresponsible and selfish to bring these children in the world.
NADYA SULEMAN, MOTHER OF OCTUPLETS: All I have to say is—
CURRY: Without a clear source of income and enough help to raise them.
SULEMAN: I know I‘ll be able to afford them when I‘m done with my schooling. If I were just sitting down and watching TV and not being as determined as I am to succeed and provide a better future for my children, I believe that would be considered to a certain degree selfish.
CURRY: So the world outside is saying what are you doing?
SULEMAN: I‘m providing myself to my children. I‘m loving them unconditionally, accepting them unconditionally. Everything I do. I‘ve stopped my life for them and be present with them and hold them and be with them. And how many parents do that? I‘m sure there are many that do but many don‘t. That‘s unfortunate. That is selfish.
CURRY: Did you use the same fertility specialist for all of your pregnancies?
CURRY: So your fertility specialist knew that you already had six children?
CURRY: How many embryos were you implanted with?
SULEMAN: The same as with the others, six.
CURRY: Did he explain to you the risks of multiple births?
SULEMAN: Oh, all of them, absolutely. It was all of them.
CURRY: You didn‘t want just one or two embryos?
SULEMAN: Of course not. I wanted them all transferred. Those are my children. And that‘s what was available and I used them. I took a risk.
It‘s a gamble. It always is. And a lot of couples—usually it‘s couples
do undergo this procedure, you know. And it‘s not as controversial because they are couples, so it‘s more acceptable to society. For me, I feel as though I‘ve been under the microscope because I‘ve chosen this unconventional kind of life.
And I didn‘t intend on it being unconventional. It turned out to be. All I wanted was children. I wanted to be a mom. That‘s all I ever wanted in my life. I love my children.
CURRY: And you knew that you were not going to selectively reduce.
SULEMAN: Sometimes we have that dream and that passion and we take risks. And I did and it turned out perfectly.
OLBERMANN: We‘ll see what the doctors and the medical association and the law say about that. But wait, there‘s more. Ann Curry‘s interview with mom of 14, Nadya Suleman, continues Monday on “The Today Show,” plus meet her eight new children and then find out what her six previous children think about their new siblings on “Dateline,” Tuesday, 10:00 Eastern, 9:00 Central.
That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,099th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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