Guest: Scott McClellan, Marc Elias, Craig Crawford High: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Spec: Politics; Government; Policies
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Making up the news: Tomorrow‘s tea bag parties grass roots rebellion, underwritten by corporate lobbyists and Dick Armey. And if 42 people show up nationwide, it will be treated by conservative media as the organic outcry and blowback from the average American.
Rupert Murdoch, (INAUDIBLE), New York, New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS: FOX isn‘t sponsoring any of this stuff.
STUART VARNEY, FOX NEWS: It‘s my great duty to promote the tea parties. Here we go. Tea party protesters from coast to coast. And we are all over them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get ready to tea party!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In actual economic news, credit loosens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: There is no doubt the times are still tough. By no means are we out of the woods just yet. But from where we stand, for the very first time, we are beginning to see glimmers of hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: How can we miss you if you won‘t go away? The Bush administration, the reunion edition: Condi, Hughes, Gerson, Bartlett. Somebody is missing.
I got my quail gun out and everything.
The legacy-washing project continues. Scott McClellan is our special guest.
The court overseeing the Minnesota elections says it‘s him, Al Franken. So, why won‘t the Republican governor sign the certification? Party first. Saving Minnesota for being the only state with just one senator—last.
Worsts: The sea rescue—Captain Phillips safe, Somali pirates dead or captured, Glenn Beck mocks Obama, Bill O‘Reilly attacks Beck, Hannity slams the president, Bernie Goldberg slams Hannity, Jonah Goldberg credits Obama, Boss Limbaugh attacks Jonah Goldberg. It looks like a win-win-win-win to me.
And, the first dog arrives. Enough-already-with-this-dog!
All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SASHA OBAMA, PRES. OBAMA‘S DAUGHTER: He doesn‘t know how to swim.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
Breaking news on the television career of Rod Blagojevich—in a moment. But before that, this is Tuesday, April 14th, or as they call it on FOX News—teabag eve. We do have complete teabag coverage tonight, but we‘re going to save it for later.
First, in our fifth story: Taxes, spending and the economy. Today, the president gave the country an economics 101 lesson on how we got here, and where we are going, and in very simple terms, understandable by even those teabaggers, who kept their mouths shut for eight years of draining government coffers only to discover anti-deficit activism in the last three months. He explained why the country has to increase spending now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: To begin with, economists on both the left and the right agree that the last thing a government should do in the middle of a recession is to cut back on spending. If every family in America, if every business in America cuts back all at once then no one is spending any money—which means there are no customers, which means there are more layoffs, which means that the economy gets even worse. That‘s why the government has to step in and temporarily boost spending in order to stimulate demand. That‘s exactly what we‘re doing right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That explanation not a new one, not enough to satisfy insatiable teabaggers nationwide, who claim to represent widespread dissatisfaction with government tax policy and stimulus spending. FOX News mouthpieces echoing that claim, reporting as fact that Americans overall are upset with high taxes and rising up against Mr. Obama‘s stimulus package. Despite claiming neutrality on those policies and the teabag movement itself, FOX has whipped up excitement for the parties, recruiting viewers to come out, guaranteeing huge outdoor gatherings, spilling into the streets, choking off traffic with all their teabagging.
Nor is FOX alone. Republican talking-heads like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have pushed their own version of teabagging—down the throats of teabaggers who were, in fact, libertarian supporters of Ron Paul. Cincinnati teabaggers now into a mouth about taxes got a Boehner endorsement from the House minority leader.
And the nation‘s teabagging, of course, impossible without this man, a Dick Armey at the head of it—the former House majority leader representing right-wing money bags, who have blown lots of cash to make the movement look as if it‘s coming from the bottom-up and not the top-down.
In fact, a new poll finds that Americans are less upset about taxes than they have been for years. A majority of Americans are saying they pay a fair amount or too little, for only the second time in 52 years—suggesting that if enough counter-protesters rear their head tomorrow, if things get too testy, teabagging might jut blow up in FOX‘s face.
With us now is MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe.
Good evening. How are you?
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I‘m good. Thank you for calling the guy with the accent to talk about the tea. That‘s very kind of you.
OLBERMANN: That‘s the only thing that wasn‘t intentional in the last five minutes.
Who is this supposed to impress, Richard? I mean, this supposed grassroots element here, it doesn‘t hold up to scrutiny. The AtlantaTeaParty.net here is not only a domain registered in Washington State, but it openly names sponsors including Gingrich‘s Americans for Prosperity and Armey‘s group Freedom Works.
What agenda are the teabaggers serving even if they don‘t know it?
WOLFFE: Well, obviously, there is grassroots envy here.
WOLFFE: Republicans have been looking for years at what the Democrats have been doing, what progressives have been doing online and saying we want some of that. The problem is, grassroots movements have to come—sorry, but they have to come from the grassroots. And corporations running these kinds of things or using intermediaries to do this kind of thing never works and looks surreptitious, secretive, which is precisely the opposite of what these open grassroots movements are.
Now, the other piece of this, the other agenda, there‘s nothing wrong with having an ideological bent to this stuff. You know, there is a real debate for this 10 percent of the country that seems to believe passionately the Obama administration is socialist.
WOLFFE: That‘s fine. If they want to do that, they want to go and protest, that‘s OK. But, if the Republicans, if conservatives think that Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey are the future of their movement and their party, then what does that make Bobby Jindal? An infant?
OLBERMANN: What are we going to see tomorrow, Richard? I mean, FOX News can‘t keep its mouth shut about teabagging. It‘s claiming all of America is worked up about this. What happens if we don‘t see millions of people on the streets or at least on TV tomorrow?
WOLFFE: Well, deep embarrassment. But I doubt that FOX News will show you the empty scenes on the sides of the camera shot. I mean, this is all about—it‘s like a road show for FOX News. And again, that, you know, people often think FOX News is driven by the ideological political thing, it is first and foremost a commercial enterprise.
And, look, again, this movement, if you want to call it that, it has helped their ratings, but it‘s an illusion to think that it moves beyond the hardcore of the party, that 10 percent which is never going to get them to take over Congress, never mind the White House again.
OLBERMANN: Just as a political stunt, and I know this may not have occurred to anybody, but did anybody vet this for—I‘m not saying that they have been used at this point, but has anybody vetted for double entendres? I mean, you‘ve got, you know, Dick Armey teabagging the nation. Are we sure Howard Stern is not behind this?
WOLFFE: I thought we were talking about Earl Gray tea.
OLBERMANN: Thank you.
WOLFFE: I mean, their response would be one lump or two? No.
WOLFFE: No. I don‘t think there is—I don‘t think there is any vetting going on. This is—this is people power, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We have some tape coming up. In fact, a lot of it about FOX as it‘s denying that it‘s promoted any of this, actually promoting this despite that claim of neutrality. But right now, what we got here is a FOX e-mail that went out that not only celebrates this, but it has very clear non-neutral policy advocacy at the bottom here, “No to more taxes.”
What happens if this turns out to be the farce that many would expect it‘s likely to be? I mean, the numbers are probably going to be way less than anybody suggests or at least anybody at FOX has suggested. What happens—I mean, you can‘t get away with negative feedback, false feedback forever, can you? You can‘t just take a crowd shot showing three guys and saying there were 3 million?
WOLFFE: No, you can‘t. But it does rely on someone outside the FOX News prism showing the full picture. I mean, look, FOX News—all credit to them—they get great numbers for cable news. But that doesn‘t look like a lot of people. It doesn‘t look like an Obama rally when you put them all together.
And so, I think there is a real risk of embarrassment factor for them.
Let‘s hope they show some real muscle because it will be good for politics.
OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of MSNBC bearing with us—great thanks as always, sir.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And as promised, FOX News teabag promoter. As David Shuster recounted on this newshour last night and great thanks to him, Neil Cavuto of FOX claimed his network‘s coverage of the teabag parties was inline with its coverage of past political rallies such as the Million Man March, which took place the year before FOX News was created.
And you remember how enthusiastically FOX covered those massive anti-war protests in 2003. But last night, on the FOX out-of-business network, a guest host named Charles Payne denied FOX has endorsed anything, saying, “There is a big difference between covering something and promoting it.” He then went on in the same program, in a scripted tease, to say, quote, “Why it‘s time to party like it‘s 1773 next.”
So, we were curious as to whether FOX was endorsing the teabagging—not suppose to point (ph) people like Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity-bag. Of course, we already know how Bill O‘Reilly crouches on this issue. No. We wanted to see whether teabagging also had the news programs on FOX News going off half-cocked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get ready to tea party.
ANNOUNCER: April 15th. All across the country, citizens are standing up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here in D.C, what I‘m covering in Lafayette Park, tomorrow morning, 1 million teabags will be delivered by like 9:00 a.m.
VARNEY: FOX on top of tea parties, full steam ahead.
ANNOUNCER: Americans are outraged over unfair and crippling taxes.
DOOCY: How to get involved in the hundreds of tea party protests.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not happy with how the government is spending your tax money and taking from you in tax money. You‘re not alone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Angry taxpayers are going online and attending tea parties.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How about you? Would you go to one of these tea parties?
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: No, it‘s unlike anything we‘ve ever seen before, unless in recent history.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS: Hundreds of thousands of outraged Americans may turn out.
DOOCY: We know of at least 500 cities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hundreds of towns and cities.
VARNEY: Hundreds of these tea parties.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we‘re talking about 500 cities tomorrow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we are tracking 760 cities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at all of them, that‘s where they‘re expected to be tomorrow.
DOOCY: And more evidence that they are just getting bigger and bigger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You touched a nerve in America now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People at a ground, you know, a grassroots level are fed up.
VARNEY: It is a grassroots movement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The big question will be whether or not the mainstream media will cover it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The mainstream media is not reporting on them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will the mainstream media cover these tea parties? I think they may be forced to.
DOOCY: I‘ve seen the other networks kind of mention them but in a mocking way.
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS: Yes, because they don‘t understand.
PETER FINCH AS HOWARD BEALE, “NETWORK” MOVIE: I‘m as mad as hell and I‘m not going to take this anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Well, people are mad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A couple of tweets on Twitter. I think this could be the start of a real revolution.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It might end in a revolution.
ANNOUNCER: Taking a stand at the Alamo. Citizens revolt against more taxes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sean Hannity is getting 8,000 people in Atlanta.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sean Hannity is going to be in Hot-lanta.
ANNOUNCER: Sean is on the scene with Newt Gingrich, Joe the plumber.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Rick and Bubba, Mike Huckabee, Neal Boortz, and a special performance by singer John Rich.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just take a look at all the hit shows here at FOX that are going to be covering the tea parties.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS: Neil Cavuto, he‘s live in Sacramento;
Glenn Beck in San Antonio.
ANNOUNCER: This powerful tea party coverage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m going to one. Are you going to be at one of these?
SUSTEREN: I‘m covering one.
BECK: When these people go into the tax tea party and I‘ve said that
ART LAFFER, FORMER REAGAN ECONOMIC ADVISER: Congratulations, by the way.
BECK: What? I‘m just attending.
DOOCY: FOX isn‘t sponsoring any of this stuff. We‘re just realizing that there are a lot of people across the country who are not happy.
CHARLES PAYNE, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: There is a big difference between covering something and promoting it.
ANNOUNCER: April 15th, as tea parties sweep the nation on Tax Day, we are there with total fair and balanced network coverage. Live.
VARNEY: This administration has changed the direction of the economy towards more government and less private enterprise. That‘s what‘s happened. That‘s what these people are protesting. And there is nothing wrong with that. It is not a sham and it is not a fraud. It‘s now my great duty to promote the tea parties. Here we go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Oh, Stu, what happened to you?
As ever, showing both sides fair and balanced, supporting the teabaggers and sponsoring the tea baggers.
And that breaking news is from the vortex of politics and celebrity. The same day former Illinois Rod Blagojevich pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges, he got himself a gig on a television reality show providing the court says it‘s OK. Blagojevich will be a participant in the NBC series, “I‘m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here,” premiering on June 1st live and ongoing throughout that month.
It is the American version of a popular British series in which to quote NBC Entertainment statement being released at this hour, quote, “Ten celebrities of various backgrounds will be dropped into the heart of the Costa Rican jungle to face challenges designed to test their skills in adapting to the wilderness and to raise money for their favorite charities. Rod Blagojevich will be a participant on the show pending the court‘s approval.”
He‘s also find out if his hair can be used as a flotation device. The show has no connection with NBC News, MNSBC, MSNBC.com or our local news department in Chicago. In fact, I‘m going to go wash my hands during the next commercial.
Which brings us to another form of comeback—the presidency may be over but the cheerleading lingers on, a reunion for “W” in the big D. Scott McClellan on the outside looking in, and presumably, the better man for it—analyzes for us, next.
OLBERMANN: The former president reunites the old gang except for Karl
Rove and Dick Cheney—and Scott McClellan, who is here for us analyzing the latest effort to reshape Mr. Bush‘s legacy.
Later: The counting is over in Minnesota and Al Franken is the junior senator, except if you‘re Norm Coleman or Governor Pawlenty. The senator‘s election attorney joins us.
And in Worsts, several conservatives mildly compliment the president‘s handling of the Somali pirate crisis and they get slapped around by Sean Hannity and Boss Limbaugh.
You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: What do you get for the ex-president who has nothing—at least in terms of a legacy—who started one point less war and left an unfinished another essential one, inflated the budget deficit to $1.3 trillion, trashed the U.S. economy? Turns out you don‘t have to get him anything—when in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: The man in question, our nation‘s 43rd president is perfectly prepared to celebrate himself.
Having thrown out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers home opener earlier this month, former President Bush now gathering the old gang together, to make a pitch for himself, hosting a reunion to plan his own presidential library, museum, policy institute and foundation—same legacy-burnishing, same circle of advisers, different location. Instead of 1600 Pennsylvania, about 20 top advisers meeting last night for a welcome dinner at 10141 Daria Place, the president‘s new home in Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas.
Among them, former communications chief, Karen Hughes, former counsel Dan Bartlett, speechwriter Michael Gerson, as well as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, all in attendance. Perhaps a good thing Dr. Rice was on the guest list, because until 2000, the Preston Hollow neighborhood association‘s covenant stated that only white people were allowed to live there, though an exception was made for servants.
Notable for their absence this week in Dallas: Former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, former senior adviser, erstwhile Turd Blossom Karl Rove and former Vice President Cheney.
The new Opinion Research poll for CNN showing 72 percent of Americans disagree with Mr. Cheney‘s view that some of President Obama‘s actions have purportedly put the country at greater risk, only 26 percent agreeing with him.
Let‘s turn now for some perspective to former White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, author of “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington‘s Culture of Deception,” coming soon in paper back.
Scott, good evening. Thanks for your time tonight.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Good evening, Keith. Glad to be back.
OLBERMANN: The policy institute, possibly the most controversial part of this entire Bush complex. It‘s a political think tank. It is designed to promote the Bush policy on issues such as the Iraq war and things that might be considered somewhere to it. Didn‘t we just have six years of that? Was that not one of the fundamental focuses of the administration itself?
MCCLELLAN: Well, yes, we did. And that‘s a good point you bring up, because this gathering in Dallas is really the first meeting of the Bush legacy-shaping group which happens to include the core members of the White House Iraq group. And I think some of their thinking is still grounded in the mentality that was used to sell the war in Iraq in the first place. There is more of a focus on trying to create or spin an alternative reality than coming to grips with the reality of where things went wrong and how this administration went off course, and addressing those issues head on in an open and forthright way.
There‘s a lot to be learned from this presidency. And the only way you can do that is—and the only way you can shape his legacy for the better is to begin by addressing those issues, the controversial decisions that he made whether it was Iraq or Katrina, or the economic crisis that unfolded on his watch and the management failures related to them. The only way you can begin to shape that legacy for the better is to accept responsibility for those mistakes and those management failures related to those issues.
OLBERMANN: Well, this is sort of an extension of the Iraq management failure if you will. Where is the vice president? Is the—is the dispute over a pardon for Scooter Libby is so great that it outweighs his value on the subject of Iraq, historically, and from the president‘s perspective?
MCCLELLAN: Well, it is notable that he‘s not there. You know, I don‘t suppose he‘s visiting Spain at this time either.
MCCLELLAN: But—you know, the vice-president does still harbor some bitterness. Well, two things, you mentioned Don Rumsfeld earlier. He harbors bitterness about the decision to replace Don Rumsfeld with Secretary Gates back in the—right after the election in 2006. And he harbors great bitterness over the decision not to grant Scooter Libby a full pardon, even though the president did keep him from spending a single day in prison.
But the vice president does remember those things and holds some bitterness about them. And I think that that‘s probably showing some strain in their relationship post-presidency, although they do still talk from time to time as has been reported.
OLBERMANN: I‘m going to say something nice about President Bush. So, you may want to buckle up. But—is it—is it possible that President Bush was upset just on the nature of former vice president freshly out of office criticizing the new president over the issue of national security? Could it just bother him on some president to president basis?
MCCLELLAN: I‘m not sure about that. I think that, you know, certainly, the vice president, we know that this happened while he was in office, I think, was expressing his own views. Even though the president might—President Bush that is—might share some of those views, it‘s not something he would condone, to say publicly, particularly at this point in time.
I think there are two key points to be made about the poll that you brought up and the reactions to the comments that the vice president made. Let‘s take the flip side of the argument that Cheney makes.
The vice president continues to deny that there is any legitimacy—any legitimacy to the fact that the Bush actions, whether it be the misbegotten war in Iraq or the embrace, of course, of democracy or interrogation techniques that went beyond what our values in America hold so dearly, contributed to greater hostility and greater ill will in the world—in parts of the world especially where there is a breeding ground for terrorism, that that created greater hostility and ill will toward America.
He continues to deny that. It shows how little correct he has to make such an argument and make such really a specious accusation against the current president of the United States.
OLBERMANN: Scott McClellan, former Bush White House press secretary, author of “What Happened.” it is always—and I use this word carefully here—cathartic to speak with you, Scott. Great thanks once again for your time and good luck with the book in paperback.
MCCLELLAN: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: New ballpark in New York City—on opening night, one politician caught a foul ball. Another one caught a cat?
And in Worsts: The rescue from the Somali pirates, it has sent ultraconservatives like Bernie and Jonah Goldberg against ultraconservatives like Sean Hannity and Boss Limbaugh. Yay!
OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment. And I say something good about Billo, too.
First, on this date in 1904 was born Sir John Gielgud, now a brilliant
Gielgud, I‘m sorry, brilliant Shakespearean actor, the only Brit honored by this country with an Emmy, a Grammy, a Tony and an Oscar. We gave him the Oscar for his work and he maybe best remembered here as the valet and butler, Hobson, to Dudley Moore‘s “Arthur,” particularly the act (ph) in which Arthur says he‘s going to take a bath, and Sir John replies, “I‘ll alert the media.”
Let‘s play Oddball.
First, a special Oddball update about Vince Shlomi, the hyper-fidgety ShamWow pitch man arrested in Miami after an altercation with a hooker named Sasha Harris. He reportedly paid $1,000, she reportedly bit his tongue. The smoking gun now providing picture, nothing you haven‘t already seen on CSI ShamWow.
Try not to notice the evidence by the pillow because, you know, you can‘t do this all day. These are the mild ones. Shlomi really missed an opportunity to sell the product there as you see, it could clean up telltale oil stains. (INAUDIBLE) tiny-weeny (ph).
And in Flushing, Queens, last night, the New York Mets opened their new stadium Citifield. Tom Seaver threw a strike for the ceremonial first pitch to ex-catcher Mike Piazza. And if the first night is any indicator the place is going to be wacky. In the bottom of the third, a stray cat got loose behind home plate, kind of a reprise of an event from 1969. The kitty tried leaping into the stands. The second time it tried leaping into the stands, it hit New York Governor David Paterson right there, where he was sitting.
And on the ninth inning, Padre‘s pitcher, Heath Bell, lost control and chucked a wild pitch through the netting behind home plate. It landed right in the lap of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who immediately traded the ball for Governor Paterson‘s cat and the repeal of another term limit to be named later.
The tri-partisan commission of judges supervising the Minnesota‘s Senate race declares Al Franken the senator. So, why isn‘t the governor ready to certify? Senator Franken‘s lead attorney joins us.
And bipartisanship in action. I hate stories about White House dogs of either party. All that ahead.
But, first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s Top Three Best Persons in the World.
Number three: Best irony. The planners of the christening of Citi Field, the new home of the New York Mets. The old home, Shea Stadium was, for 45 years, infamous for being deafeningly along all known flight paths in and out of LaGuardia Airport.
So, how was Citi Field christened right after the national anthem? With a deafening flyover by four marine F-18 Hornet jets and they still weren‘t as loud as some of the ones that used to go over Shea.
Number two, best call-out, Bill-O, you heard me. On April 8th, his colleague Harold Hill—I‘m sorry, Glenn Beck—made one in a series of condescending criticisms of the president‘s handling of the Somali pirate situation. “We have become so politically correct that no one would even dare think about sending Marines to fight pirates.”
O‘Reilly last night, quote, “the far right bloggers who criticized Obama in this case are absolutely wrong. The president did what he had to.” Glen, ouch.
And number one, best confession, Robert G. Kaufman, author of the hysterical, “In Defense of the Bush Doctrine.” At a conference earlier this month, he spoke at a panel titled rebranding Republicans; Don‘t Misunderestimate Us. He let a very large cat out of what had been, officially anyway, a tightly guarded bag. “If I had to recommend one single thing the Republicans should be doing to help articulate the message, it is to acquire another television network, so that there is not just Fox.”
There are two ways and two ways only to interpret what Mr. Kaufman said. Either he‘s admitting Republicans already own Fox News, and should try to double the number of networks they own. Or they don‘t actually own Fox News, but the Republican party should actually buy, own, and program a TV network in order to get out their message, as opposed to, say, reality. May I suggest Cartoon Network? Wouldn‘t even have to change the name, boys.
OLBERMANN: It‘s been 100 days since Minnesota last had two senators. A three-judge panel in the state finally declared a winner. Our third story, Minnesota‘s junior senator is Al Franken. The land of 10,000 litigations may finally swear in Amy Klobuchar‘s colleague, or so we would think, after a state-wide recount and a seven week trial. Franken is 312 votes ahead.
A tri-partisan judicial panel has handed down a 68-page opinion, concluding, quote, “the overwhelming weight of the evidence indicates that the November 4th, 2008 election was conducted fairly, impartially and accurately.” Al Franken himself, appearing before the press last night, adding a few more numbers to the mix, the point of this whole mess in the first place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL FRANKEN, MINNESOTA SENATOR ELECT: This long delay in the seating of Minnesota‘s second U.S. senator has come at a time when our state badly needs help from Washington. Since Election Day, Minnesota has lost 56,000 jobs. Since election day, more than 9,000 Minnesota families have lost their homes to foreclosure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But not so fast; Mr. Franken‘s opponent, Republican ex-senator Norm Coleman says he will appeal to the state supreme court. Coleman campaign attorney Ben Ginsburg says they will file sometime next week, citing 4,000 Minnesotans remain, quote, wrongly disenfranchised by the court‘s order. Today, Mr. Coleman called for Mr. Franken‘s patience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NORM COLEMAN, FMR SENATOR: It‘s a six-year Senate term. And if it‘s going to take a period of time to get it right, for the supreme court to rule on this Constitutional issue, I believe it‘s the right thing to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: As for Coleman‘s fellow Republicans, some of whom last week, at the ultra conservative “National Review called for him to withdraw with dignity, radio silence until this afternoon. In a fund raising email to supporters, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair John Cornyn called the judicial panel‘s opinion fundamentally misguided. Wading further into the political muck, Minnesota‘s Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty. The governors says he does not know if he will sign Mr. Franken‘s election certificate, suggesting he will wait to see if this case reaches federal court.
Joining me now, the lead recount attorney for the Franken campaign, Marc Elias. Mr. Alias, thank you for your time tonight.
MARC ELIAS, FRANKEN CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: It‘s a pleasure to be with you.
OLBERMANN: The Coleman team saying it‘s going to appeal. It argues 4,400 voters have been disenfranchised. Do you know on what basis?
ELIAS: I don‘t. Truth be told, they have thrown around different numbers. At one point, they said it was 11,000. Then they said it was 7,000. Then it was 5,500. Then maybe 1,360. Then it was 4,700. Now, today, I hear it‘s 4,400.
All I know is this: these ballots have been gone through on election night by the county officials. They were gone through again by the county officials as part of a supreme court review. They were then gone through during this trial, when Mr. Coleman had opportunity to call all the witnesses he wanted, to call all the voters, call all the election officials, put in any evidence he wanted. And I don‘t know what he—what, at this point, he thinks is left.
OLBERMANN: The latest comment from the governor; for weeks he had been saying that he would side with the courts. Is he back tracking now? What has happened here?
ELIAS: You know, I don‘t know quite what to make of Governor Pawlenty‘s statements. I have confidence that at the end of this process, the supreme court will uphold the district court‘s decision. And the supreme court has already indicated in a previous opinion that, at the end of the state court process, which ends with their decision, the certificate will issue. And I, you know, remain hopeful and have confidence that the governor, despite what he may be saying now, when we get to that point, will abide by the law and abide by the state supreme court.
OLBERMANN: Some of the “National Review” commentators seem to have seen the light about this in the big picture last week. Mr. Coleman and the Republicans need to get out now while there is still some dignity available to them. Is that turning out not to be enough of an enticement? Does somebody have to say to the Republicans, maybe Governor Pawlenty, what about the state‘s interests? What about upholding the state constitution? If those things don‘t bother you, what about impeaching the governor?
ELIAS: Well, look, former Senator Coleman at this point has a decision to make. He had this decision to make at the beginning of the election contest, when he had to decide whether or not to put the state through seven weeks of trial. At that point, he felt like if he went forward, he would be able to prove that he received more votes. Quite to the contrary, not only didn‘t he prove he received more votes, our margin actually increased from 225 to 312.
So former Senator Coleman has to decide right now whether to appeal. The fact that he has the right to appeal doesn‘t mean appealing is the right thing to do. So, we will wait and see what former Senator Coleman‘s decision is, and whether he pushes this forward to the state supreme court or not.
OLBERMANN: Do you have any reason to suspect, after all this time, that he‘s not going to appeal this? I mean, presumably you have a strategy plan for I‘m going to say when he appeals this.
ELIAS: Well, look, we will be prepared if he appeals. We‘ll be prepared at that point to argue grew our position. You know, former Senator Coleman has argued his equal protection claims and his other claims in a number of forums now. He has not attracted, suffice to say, widespread support, or really any support for them. So we are prepared to go forward with the state supreme court.
In terms of whether he will or won‘t appeal, you know, that‘s obviously his decision to make. I did note that his lawyers today, though they said he was going to appeal, they also said that that notice of appeal might not come until next week. So maybe he‘s using a few days to think this over.
OLBERMANN: Perhaps time well spent. Somebody should. Marc Elias, the lead attorney for Al Franken‘s recount team. Thank you, sir.
ELIAS: Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: Yo dog, is anybody else as tired of this story as I am? We‘ll analyze what the appeal is. And worsts, a successful military operation under a Democratic president and the right wing splits in half. Hannity attacks Obama. Bernie Goldberg attacks Hannity. Jonah Goldberg compliments Obama. Limbaugh attacks Jonah Goldberg. Party time.
When Rachel joins us, the amazing increase in baseball weirdness, as analyzed by her special guest, a guy whose new blog is taking the game by storm—uh, me.
But first, because they may be gone, but their deeds out-live them, the headlines lingering from the previous administration‘s 50 running scandals, Still Bushed.
Number three, cooking the books-gate. The inspector general at Homeland Security has finally ruled on a little oopsy from the days when Mr. Bush‘s people were still trying to make the Draconian airport screening process seem effective. The FAA had scheduled a secret test of security at 12 major airports for late April 2006. Oddly enough, just before that test, somebody in the Transportation Security Administration sent out an e-mail warning that At Jacksonville Airport the FAA might conduct a secret test, and that this is what the officials would look like, and this how they would be dressed. So TSA officials should make sure every passenger and I.D. matched.
In other words, Homeland Security made sure Homeland Security would pass the test.
Number two, George Bush, worldwide distributor of democracy-gate. The new president of Pakistan, Mr. Zardari, has, in an effort to reduce violence and tension between his government and extremists in the area, just signed a law permitting the Taliban to impose Sharia law in the north-western part of his country. That would be the same Taliban that led village elders in southwestern Afghanistan debate for two days the case of a 14-year-old girl and her 17-year-old boyfriend, who tried to break her engagement to somebody else by eloping to Iran. Half the town council there wanted to find a way to let the couple marry. So the Taliban stepped in and executed the teenagers.
Number one, tax the poor-gate. Former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer still fighting mental health. This time writing in the pages of the Murdoch street journal under this bizarre headline, “Everyone should pay income taxes; it‘s bad for our democracy to exempt half the country.” He wrote, “it‘s what‘s called redistribution of income and it‘s getting out of hand. A very small number of taxpayers, the 10 percent of the country that makes more than 92,400 dollars a year, pays 72.4 percent of the nation‘s income taxes. Their burden keeps getting heavier.”
You know, Ari Fleischer is right. That poor 10 percent of this country paying nearly three-quarters of all the, taxes it‘s just not fair to—wait a minute. Mr. Fleischer has left out some details here about he and I and those other top income makers. Statistics from 2005, the top one percent of the country‘s wage earners, our share of the total income is about 22 percent. That‘s a level not seen since the days of President Calvin Coolidge. The top 10 percent, which in 2005, by the way, was still people making a hundred grand or more, not 92 grand, it makes 48.5 percent of all the reported income in this country.
The top 300,000 American earners, we make as much as the bottom 150 million American earners. Individually, we make 440 times what they make individually. Wait, Ari says, the top 10 percent earns 48.5 percent of all the income, but pays 72.4 percent of all the tax? That‘s not fair. Actually, it‘s not. It‘s more than fair. Because a lot of that bottom 90 percent, they make nothing at all. And if we raise their taxes, guess what, Ari, they still won‘t be paying anything.
Take it from me, the rich are making out like bandits. And to complain about the relative tax burden is not just offensive and embarrassing, but it taxes something else, credulity.
OLBERMANN: A little pitchy, dog, a little pitchy; why the country cares about the new pet in the White House and why I don‘t. That‘s next, but first time for our number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Harold Hill—I‘m sorry, Glenn Beck. He says the object of the push for gay marriage isn‘t letting gays marry. Quote, “I believe this case is actually about going into churches and going in and attacking churches, and saying you can‘t teach anything else. When you say marriage must be defined as this, well, then you have to go into the schools.”
By the way, Mr. Beck has also announced the start and end dates for his latest comedy tour. Wait, his comedy actually starts and stops? How could you tell when?
Our runner-up, the manatee, insisting there was some attempt by President Obama, who was, in fact, totally silent until the captain was rescued, to grab credit for the end of the Somali pirate siege. Ultra conservative Bernard Goldberg, of all people, told Hannity he was wrong. “Remember when liberals wouldn‘t give George Bush credit for anything? If he came up with a cure for cancer, they wouldn‘t have given him credit for that. I‘m sorry, Sean, I see that on the right. It‘s like, I don‘t want to but Barack Obama on Mt. Rushmore for simply being the commander in chief. But we have to stop going out of way to find fault with every single thing he does.”
Our winner, Boss Limbaugh. After the rescue, ultra conservative Jonah Goldberg blogged. good for President Obama. He approved the rescue. It was the right thing to do, with no small amount of risk. And god bless the SEALS. So Limbaugh attacked Goldberg, suggesting that the rescue should be made into a movie with Will Smith as Obama and Canter, Jindal, Sarah Palin and himself, Boss Limbaugh, as the pirates. “We just can‘t be constant critics. As Jonah Goldberg has pointed out in ‘National Review‘ today, we must, when we see brilliance in action, decisiveness—the SEALS, SEALS couldn‘t have done diddly squat were it not for the decisive, cool under pressure, first test passed President Obama. He deserves praise. Jonah Goldberg at ‘National Review‘ was first to point out he‘s done the right thing. We gotta say so.”
There‘s actually a crucial point in here. Just as when I protest and will continue to protest Obama‘s stance on state secrets and sovereign immunity, that doesn‘t mean I hate Obama. So too can Bernard Goldberg and Jonah Goldberg congratulate Obama for a well handled rescue mission and not be described as loving Obama. What the Sean Hannitys and Boss Limbaughs of this planet do not understand is that opposing a political figure or one of his policies does not require you spend every waking hour trying to annihilate that political figure. It is the difference between big democracy, where critics may disagree slightly with those they criticize once in a while, and a theocracy, where it is all or nothing all the time.
Of course, the livelihoods of Sean Hannity and Boss Limbaugh depend on that dangerous, fatal possibility that one nation means only one opinion, theirs. Boss Limbaugh, today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: Six months old, already neutered, already tutored by Senator Ted Kennedy‘s dog trainer in Virginia and the dog‘s arrival fulfills a promise of not necessarily of all the possible search criteria. Our number one story in the COUNTDOWN, the first pooch arrives at last, good grief. He‘s already the center of a conspiracy theory, sorta.
But first, the introduction of the black and white Portuguese Water Dog named Bo, a tribute to the First Lady‘s father who was nicknamed Diddley, as in Bo Diddley. The official unveiling today on the south lawn of the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We all have to take turns walking the dog.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, where is he sleeping?
OBAMA: We‘ve got a bunch of spots. But he‘ll be sleeping inside the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a bed.
OBAMA: Not in my bed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The president said it might be difficult to obtain a dog that was both a rescue dog and hypo-allergic. And the Obamas have made a donation to the Humane Society in lieu of taking one of its shelter dogs. But some animal enthusiasts are already grumbling. And a so-called conspiracy theory is down right ugly. It goes something like this, that since the Kennedys have dogs from the same breeders, the fix was in a long time ago, and the Obamas were only pretending to look for a shelter dog. Further more, that Bo‘s first home, which was reportedly not a good fit, was arranged so that Bo could be termed a quasi-rescue dog.
Does this have anything to do with Ellen DeGeneres? Let‘s bring in CQPolitics.com columnist, MSNBC political analyst and now COUNTDOWN dog analyst Craig Crawford. Good evening, Craig.
CRAIG CRAWFORD, CQPOLITICS.COM: I think it is time for COUNTDOWN to get a dog.
OLBERMANN: No. I love them but, no.
CRAWFORD: I don‘t know.
OLBERMANN: It‘s not a big studio and we‘re only here an hour a day.
CRAWFORD: You‘ve already got O‘Reilly.
OLBERMANN: That would be a female dog. Let me start here with a bit
of TV heresy, at least in terms of selling the audience—and good evening
to you all—on the idea of staying in front of the TV. I don‘t care
about the dog anymore. And thus, I can‘t fathom this. It‘s nothing
against the dog or the daughters or the people who do care. But I really -
I don‘t—why do people still care about the dog anymore? Aren‘t we dogged out?
CRAWFORD: I can tell this is going to be hard to get you excited about the first dog as trying to get you on Twitter. But, you know, presidents just come to be defined, in a way, by their pets. And it symbolizes them, and also gives us the feeling that—maybe an illusion—the presidents are just like us. They have dogs, too, and pets. And it gives people certain good feeling.
Although, in recent years, dogs are just kind of boring compared to what presidents used to have. Our best of breed researchers at CQ Politics came up with some exotic pets. John Quincy Adams had an alligator that he kept in the East Room bathroom. And of course, you can‘t top Teddy Roosevelt. He had everything from guinea pigs to a one-legged rooster.
OLBERMANN: A one-legged rooster, Craig? That sounds like the start of a very bad joke that might have gone better in our first section about the tea bags.
CRAWFORD: I think it‘s a pirate joke.
OLBERMANN: All right. Apart from the details here, and my own dubiousness about this story, is there any kind of PR event that could possibly match what happened this afternoon on the South Lawn?
CRAWFORD: Hard to imagine one. For Obama, I thought it was great because anything that gets the man smiling and loosening up a bit, I think, is good for him and the rest of the country. I think sometimes he‘s a bit somber, and sometimes I worry, you know, looking at him, what he‘s actually hearing in those National Security briefings, or those private economic talks, things he doesn‘t want to tell us or something. But I like seeing him. I think it is good for him and the country to see him out there playing with the dog.
OLBERMANN: Is it good—in that sense, maybe I do understand. Is it also good for the country? Because you talked about being somber, as improved as things may have been in the last couple of weeks, this is still a largely somber nation because of the economy. Do we collectively all need a dog we can call our national dog?
CRAWFORD: I think it‘s a nice thing.
CRAWFORD: And it is a distraction. But, you know, we can multi-task.
I think the media and country can handle the big things and little things. And in bad economic times, typically, people look for—need some distractions. Heck, that‘s how Hollywood got started. It was in the Great Depression, when people could go to the movies. I mean, you know, this Bo the dog is not the Ziegfeld Follies, perhaps, but it‘s cheap and easy and fun to watch.
OLBERMANN: Let me switch slightly, although this is the subject also of distractions. We began the news hour with this breaking news out of NBC that there is going to be a Rod Blagojevich appearance, providing the court approves it, on a show in which he is dropped into the Costa Rican jungle, called “Help, Get Me Out of Here, I‘m a Celebrity” or Help Me—Help Get Me Out of Here, I‘m an Indicted Governor, or something like this. Is this just something for the cash or is he just looking to maybe get out of the country, and they drop him in the Costa Rican jungle and we never see him again? Or what‘s going to happen here?
CRAWFORD: I think maybe they better check on the extradition from Costa Rica. It may become necessary. But this is a man who, after all, when he was indicted, they had to track him down and found him at Disney World. I mean, he certainly is not having any trouble keeping himself distracted from his own problems.
OLBERMANN: But wouldn‘t his hair show up on a GPS?
CRAWFORD: Yes, I think so. Actually, I think his hair looks a bit like Bo.
OLBERMANN: I was going to say. He was—his hair was the second choice behind Bo for the national dog.
CRAWFORD: We‘ve got these—we‘ve got these connected. We‘ve connected these dots now.
OLBERMANN: It is the mark of craftsmen at their jobs. Craig Crawford of CQPolitics.com and MSNBC, when we are fortunate enough to have him. Thank you, as always, Craig.
OLBERMANN: Woof, indeed. That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,166th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I‘m Keith Olbermann. Rod Blagojevich at 10:00? Good night and good luck.
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