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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, September 14, 2009

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guest Host: David Shuster

Guests: Howard Fineman, Clarence Page, Arianna Huffington, Margaret Carlson, Christian



DAVID SHUSTER, GUEST HOST (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

The deep GOP divide.  An anti-tax rally turns into an Obama hate-fest.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We are losing our country.  We think the Muslims are moving in and taking over.  We do not believe our president is a Christian.


SHUSTER:  Some Republican leaders embrace the message.  Others say the party is falling victim to freaks and the delusional.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Once this bill passes, I own it.


SHUSTER:  President Obama with a full court press to seal the deal on health care reform—and in so doing, shows he‘s finally owning the reality from within the Republican Party.


OBAMA:  There are those in the Republican Party who think the best thing to do is just to kill reform.


SHUSTER:  The financial collapse one year later.  The president tells Wall Street: no more bailouts, no more reckless behavior.

“True Compass”: Life inside the Kennedy family.  The book Ted Kennedy didn‘t live to see in its finished form hits store shelves today.

The way of Wilson: as the House goes.




SHUSTER:  So goes tennis.


SERENA WILLIAMS, TENNIS PLAYER:  I‘m taking this ball and shoving it in your (BLEEP) throat.


SHUSTER:  So goes the VMA‘s.


KANYE WEST, SINGER:  Beyonce has one of the best videos of all time!


SHUSTER:  Look at what you started.  Way to go, Joe.


TINA FEY, ACTRESS (impersonating Sarah Palin):  Can I call you Joe?


FEY:  OK, because I practiced a couple of zingers where I call you Joe.


SHUSTER:  And Tina Fey‘s Wasilla talk impresses the Academy and earns her another Emmy for her portrayal of Sarah Palin.


FEY:  I‘d like to entertain everybody with some fancy pageant-walking.


SHUSTER:  All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.


SHUSTER:  Good evening from Washington.  I‘m David Shuster.  Keith Olbermann has the night off.

Tens of thousands of Americans gathered here in the nation‘s capital over the weekend for a rally intended to return the country to the mindset it had on the day after the September 11th attacks—a day, when according to the Web site of the 9/12 Project, quote, “We were not obsessed with red states, blue states or political parties.  We were united as Americans.”

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: That was the stated goal anyway.  The reality was something different.  On Saturday, an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 gathered in Washington, not to unite behind the president as this nation did regardless of political affiliation in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, but to unite in apparent hatred of the current President Barack Obama.

On 9/12/2001, did the people of this nation compare George W. Bush to Hitler?  To Hitler, Lenin, Stalin and Fidel Castro?

On 9/12/2001, did anyone not affiliate with al Qaeda threaten the president‘s life?  Did they denigrate the ancestry and skin color of President Bush while calling him a liar?  How about a blood sucking alien?  Or an illegal alien?  Or the devil?

On 9-12-2001, did a pro-life organization in its mass production of signs try to unite the country by using the death of a senator to bury any piece of legislation?

Not only is it unthinkable to imagine similar signs in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, it is difficult to believe any politician affiliated with a major political party would condone such behavior.  Not so, the Republican Party of 2009.  Georgia Congressmen Tom Price and Phil Gingrey were in attendance, as was Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn.

South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint even addressed the crowd.


SEN. JIM DEMINT ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Waterloo.  Or will we sink into the pit of high taxes, suffocating debt and socialism?


DEMINT:  My friends, I join you today not as a U.S. senator but as a fellow freedom-loving American.


DEMINT:  I‘m not here to speak to you, but to stand with you.


DEMINT:  And to join my voice with yours.

It is time that the president and the Congress stop lecturing us and start listening to us.


DEMINT:  Too many Americans have fought and died for our freedom for us to get it away with apathy and silence.


SHUSTER:  In a democracy, isn‘t that what elections are for?  Senator DeMint seems to think more along the lines of a military coup.


DEMINT:  This is a critical battle for the heart and soul of America, and for freedom itself.  Freedom fighters are outnumbered in Congress, but not across America.  We are winning this fight and if you continue to stand up and speak out, we will save freedom in America.


SHUSTER:  One man‘s saving freedom is another man‘s fomenting of hatred.  Senator DeMint also claim that the attendees were a cross section of America.  If by cross section he meant white, whiter and whitest.  Speaking of, which a reminder of the brain trust who brought us Saturday‘ intolerance festival in the first place.


GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST:  We weren‘t told how to behave that day after 9/11.  We just knew.  It was right.  It was the opposite of what we feel today.  Let us find ourselves and our solutions together again with the nine founding principles and the 12 eternal values.  This is the 912 Project.

Are you ready to be that person that you were that day after 9/11 -- on 9/12?  I told you for weeks, you‘re not alone.  I‘m turning into a freaking televangelist.


SHUSTER:  Lots to talk about tonight with our own political analyst, Howard Fineman, senior correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.

And, Howard, good evening.


SHUSTER:  Howard, the Republicans are not merely condoning the behavior of the fringe element of the party but embracing it.  A message of intolerance helps the Republican Party how exactly?

FINEMAN:  Well, it doesn‘t help them.  And they‘re not all embracing it.  But I‘m sorry to say, they‘re afraid to say so on the record.

I talked to numerous Republicans today.  A lot of them are very upset that for example, Joe Wilson, the congressman from South Carolina.  A lot of them don‘t think somebody like Glenn Beck is doing the Republican Party any good.

The Republicans need not just their core voters to thrive in the 2010 mid-term elections, which they indeed may.  They need independent voters in the middle.  There is a tug-of-war going on, David, between independence to support the Republicans over issue like—issues like the debt and the deficit, and the way some of the Republicans are behaving that repels those very independents.

SHUSTER:  Well, speaking of Senator DeMint—he told the crowd on Saturday and repeated today that the protestors were informed.  Given what some of those signs had to say about the president, wouldn‘t that be fomenting hatred, if not violence?

FINEMAN:  Well, they‘re—at the very least—looking the other way, and they‘re looking at the glass of tolerance half-full, when in many cases, there isn‘t even a glass, David.

But what the Republicans I talked to today said was this: These people are there because of big government.  They‘re there because of fears about the debt and the deficit.  And I think to some extent that‘s true.  I‘ve been to tea parties.  I‘ve been to town hall meetings.  I can sense that.

But there is something deeper and darker that‘s also there, and we may as well look straight at it.  There are racial fears, there are religious fears, there are regional fears, there are ethnic fears.  These are coming to the surface.  Like death charges, our politics has now brought all this to the surface.  And that‘s also what we saw out there on the Mall.  There is no question about it and there are not enough Republicans who are willing to say that on the record.

SHUSTER:  Glenn Beck‘s stated goal of wanting to move this country back to where it was on 9/12/2001, when the country was united, how did that work out for him?

FINEMAN:  Well, he can—he can pretend to cry all he wants on the stage and call himself a televangelist.  He is not into uniting the country from everything I‘ve seen.  He is making a boatload of money dividing the country.  When you say with no real evidence whatsoever that the president of the United States hates white people, you aren‘t behaving in the spirit of 9/12.  You‘re behaving in a spirit that we thought we‘ve gotten rid of at the end of the civil war and the end of the second civil rights movement.

So, you know, he can cry the crocodile tears all he wants.  That doesn‘t seem to be what he‘s actually doing.

SHUSTER:  Considering that this Saturday‘s rally did not unite the country in the same way that the country stood together on 9/12/2001, wouldn‘t this qualify then as an example of politicizing the 9/11 attacks?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think that‘s the way it‘s ended up.  They‘re trying to wrap themselves in the flag that everybody was saluting on the day after 9/11.

And, you know, I got to say here, we‘re talking about FOX to some extent.  I know a lot of people there.  This is heresy to say on this network, I think Roger Ailes is a good guy who loves the country and who can be a very, very good news man.  Some of the things that he‘s allowing on his network don‘t do justice to his reputation.  And division it is.

SHUSTER:  Howard Fineman of MSNBC and “Newsweek”—Howard, thanks as always.  We appreciate it.

FINEMAN:  Thank you.

SHUSTER:  For more, let‘s turn to Clarence Page, Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist for “The Chicago Tribune”—Clarence, thanks you for your time tonight.

CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE:  Thank you, David.  Good to be here.


It seems hard to tell whether this was a rally about recovering the America of 9/12/2001, or America before the repeal of Jim Crow.  What are these people really protesting?

PAGE:  Well, they seem to be protesting Barack Obama‘s election.  There was a real shock that went across some parts of the country here when Obama won.  Some folks just don‘t understand it.  They don‘t accept it, and never will, quite possibly.  It‘s in those areas of the country where you hear people who are more likely to believe Barack Obama is a Muslim.  That he wasn‘t really born in Hawaii, and all this sort of claptrap.

And it is sad.  I‘m not saying everybody at the rally was like that.  It was a very mixed bag and a big rally, you‘re going to attack—you‘re going to attract a certain number of nut cases.  Unfortunately, these were the folks wielding those awful signs that you see.

A lot of these folks though are just plain work-a-day people who, I thought a poll would show half of them didn‘t know what socialism was, but they know it‘s not good and they‘re afraid of it.  And this is a way to come together with like-minded people.  I actually feel sorry for them that they aren‘t better informed.

SHUSTER:  Senator DeMint said on Saturday that the protests and the anger was not about President Obama.  But based on the signs alone, DeMint‘s analysis doesn‘t seem to hold up.  And secondly, how much do you think bigotry was fueling this?

PAGE:  Well, DeMint knows how to play it both ways.  He‘s talking about waterloo.  You know, this is the man who said, you know, we got to stop Obama on health care and crush him.

You know, this is—what really grabs me is his statement that freedom-loving people, he said, are outnumbered in the Congress but not across the country.  You know, people across the country went out and voted for the people in that Congress.  This is the way our system works.  And that to me is just plain demagoguery.

I can—I can, you know, feel sorry for people out in the crowd who didn‘t know any better but Jim DeMint knows better, and so did some of the other people up there on that podium talking like that.

SHUSTER:  These are some of the same folks who, during the Bush administration, told everyone on the left that they could love it or leave it.  Well, they don‘t seem to be packing up to go now.

PAGE:  Well, no, a lot of them are buying more bullets though.  There have been reports of ammunition shortages right after Barack Obama was elected.  I shouldn‘t be smirking at this, but it‘s just the kind of thing that‘s—it‘s sad.  But a lot of people have a lot of misjudgments about him, and the rest of the government here in Washington.

And we do have a more polarized situation than before.  It didn‘t start with Obama.  It‘s been going on at least since the Willie Horton campaign back in 1988.  And it hasn‘t turned around.  And that‘s sad.  We just got to weather this storm.

SHUSTER:  Over the weekend, this rally received far more coverage proportionally based on how many people showed up than did the anti-war protests in Washington before the invasion of Iraq, where over a million actually marched.  Given how divorced from reality so many of the 9/12 tea bag protestors are, should anyone be taking them seriously?

PAGE:  Well, you got to take them seriously because they are part of the base of the party, like I mentioned the base of a party that‘s going to have a certain number of nut cases, a certain number of extremists and a certain number of moderate extremists.  But I think they get more coverage because, frankly, the right doesn‘t have strong spokespeople right now.  They‘ve lost both houses of Congress.  They‘ve lost the White House. 

Members of the Supreme Court don‘t go out and speak on partisan affairs.

So, that leaves the world of the blogosphere and TV and talk radio.  And as you mentioned, this rally was organize really, largely, by people on FOX TV, who, you know, hoped to rally people out there, along with some other folks, like Freedom Watch, which is—seems to be a front for lobbyists.  But, you know, Dick Armey and some other folks involved.  Dick Armey is not in elected office anymore.

So I think that‘s a big reason why.  You know, we, in the media, try to be balanced, right?  So you go out and want to find people on the right to balance off the left.  And these are the folks on the right, unfortunately, right now.

SHUSTER:  Clarence Page, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of the “Chicago Tribune”—Clarence, thanks as always.  We appreciate it.

PAGE:  Thank you, David.

SHUSTER:  You‘re welcome.

Coming up: The political problems filling the plate of President Obama in the health care fight.  Big pharma supporting the plan coming from Democrat Max Baucus—a plan without the public option.

And the fallout from the bailout.  How the politics of the stimulus could affect the end result in the health care battle.  And later, the aftermath of Joe Wilson‘s congressional outbursts.  Was that the spark for a weekend of high-profile, bad public behavior?



SHUSTER:  The latest developments in the fight to reform health care.  President Obama is ready to go it alone if he has to get the job done. And tonight, an often overlooked voice—what doctors are saying about reform.  Also, Tina Fey wins an Emmy for her portrayal of Sarah Palin and later, the details inside the memoirs of the late Ted Kennedy.

The news breaking from California at this hour, the death of actor Patrick Swayze.



SHUSTER:  In the health care reform battle, President Obama has become more fond of declarative the statements lately, like this one, quote, “Once this bill passes, I own it.”

In our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: It‘s also becoming more clear that the president will get this bill passed with no Republican support if necessary.

In an interview on “60 Minutes” last night, the president expressed no illusions about how health care reform is now tied to his presidency, as well as the current political landscape.


OBAMA:  You‘re right.  So far, we haven‘t gotten much cooperation from Republicans and I think there are some who see this as a replay of 1993, ‘94.  You know, young president comes in, proposes health care, it crashes and burns, and then the Republicans use that to win back the House in the subsequent election.  And I think there are some people who are dusting off that playbook.

In terms of the Democratic Party, they all understand, we have to make this happen.  We‘re not going to get a better opportunity to solve our health care issues than we have right now.

You know, I intend to be president for a while.  And once this bill passes, I own it.


SHUSTER:  Meantime, the chairman of the only congressional committee that has still not completed its version of the bill says tomorrow could be the day.  Senator Max Baucus predicts that there will be much more Republicans to like as if that will actually garner any of their votes.

As for whether the final health care bill will include a public option, Senator Dianne Feinstein this weekend joined other Democrats who are suggesting the public option is not a deal breaker.

While the new chairman of the Senate health committee, Tom Harkin, boldly predicts a health care reform bill with a strong public option.  Senator Harkin says a silent majority of Americans support it.

The most recent poll seems to support Senator Harkin‘s assessment.  Most respondents clearly are favoring a public option as part of health care reform.  And yet the same poll found that a majority would also support a bill without it.

Finally, you may be surprised at what the nation‘s doctors think of the public option, especially since many opponents act like all doctors hate Medicare and any other government program.  But a new poll by “The New England Journal of Medicine” and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that 63 percent of physicians support a public option, an additional 10 percent support a single-payer system, for a grand total of 73 percent favoring a public option or something obviously far stronger.

Let‘s call in the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the “Huffington Post,” Arianna Huffington.

And, Arianna, great to see you.


SHUSTER:  Arianna, is the president preparing the public, assuming it needs to be prepared, for a health care reform bill with little or no Republican support?

HUFFINGTON:  Well, that‘s how it looks during the “60 Minutes” interview.  And that‘s why it‘s surprising to hear Senator Max Baucus still hold out the promise of perhaps bipartisanship and then Republican support when the proposal comes up from his committee.  And it seems critical, David, that there will really not be any Republican support.  That‘s why it‘s a shame that there has been so much time wasted and there‘s gong to be so much watered-down in the hope of getting bipartisan support.

SHUSTER:  Another weekend, another set of mixed signal on the public option.  Has there been any significant movement on that one way or another?

HUFFINGTON:  Well, there‘s been a little bit of a significant movement in what Nancy Pelosi said, because she basically during the week said that, well, maybe, you know, this is just, as the president has been saying, one more way to bring about what we want, which is competition and fair play.  And then her press secretary walked it back and said that the speaker is going to fight for the public option.  But I have a feeling she may fight and then surrender.

And I talked today with John Conyers, Congressman Conyers of the judiciary committee, but also very much part of the African-American, the Black Caucus in Congress, and he said that both he and the Black Caucus are very determined that there will be a public option.

But in the end, the numbers don‘t seem to be there, which is extremely unfortunate.  Because even though as the president said it will only affect 5 percent of the population, it is the key to having some real competition provided to the health insurance industry.

SHUSTER:  And as far as some of those views in the U.S. Senate where the number are a real problem, why don‘t those Democratic lawmakers in the Senate pay more attention to polls which still show a majority for the public option?  And they now even have a physicians‘ poll they can point to.

HUFFINGTON:  Well, you know, David, this is one of those rare occasions when if they were paying attention to polls, they would have gotten the health care bill passed back in August when they had like 77 percent support, instead of just trying to negotiate really against themselves in the hope of getting a bipartisan bill.

Now, I think the president is right.  The Republicans are determined that no matter what the polls say, no matter how much support they lose, that it‘s politically advantageous for them to give the president and the Democrats a big defeat.

SHUSTER:  The president has generally gotten a bounce in support for his health care plan following his address to Congress.  Does that give him the room he needs to get this thing through in one fashion or another?

HUFFINGTION:  Well, the support has been more for the president himself.  You know, there is this discrepancy between the president‘s approval ratings and the approval ratings for his policies and his leadership.  And that‘s really the problem.

And my concern, David, is that there‘s a lot of anger and frustration at the moment.  But I think it‘s really a proxy for what‘s happening in Wall Street.  And today, we have that anniversary and what‘s happening with the bailout.  So, all these things, even though disconnected legislatively, are very much connected in terms of the public‘s attitude toward the president and their trust, and towards this administration.

SHUSTER:  Arianna Huffington of the “Huffington Post”—Arianna, great thanks as always.  We appreciate your coming on.

HUFFINGTON:  Thank you so much.

SHUSTER:  Sarah Palin did not win the vice presidency, but Tina Fey has won an Emmy.  Up next: The evidence of why the award is much deserved, and Fey‘s reaction to the Palin resignation.

And later, behaving badly isn‘t just for the Congress.  It‘s also at the U.S. Open—Serena Williams‘ tirade.  Was the punishment stiff enough?


SHUSTER:  Last September, after taking home several Emmys for “30 Rock,” Tina Fey told reporters she hopes she would soon be finished playing vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on “Saturday Night Live,” saying, quote, “I want to be done playing this lady on November 5th.  If anyone can help me be done playing this lady on November 5th, that would be good for me.”

Fey got her wish, and this weekend, for playing Sarah Palin, she got another Emmy.  And Saturday‘s Creative Arts Primetime Emmys, Fey took home the award for Best Actress in a Comedy for stand-up of Sarah Palin.  And her acceptance speech, Fey said, quote, “Mrs. Palin is an inspiration of working mothers everywhere because she bailed on her job right before Fourth of July weekend.  You are living my dream.  Thank you, Mrs. Palin.”

For a little history lesson, going back a year ago, Governor Palin herself was taking note of Fey‘s act.  You may recall this exchange between candidate Palin and Sean Hannity.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST:  Did you watch Tina Fey on “Saturday Night Live”?

SARAH PALIN ®, FMR. ALASKA GOVERNOR:  I watched with the volume way down and I thought it was hilarious, she was spot on.  It was hilarious.  Again, I didn‘t hear a word she said.


SHUSTER:  Hilarious with the sound down.  She must love Charlie Chaplain.

Anyway, as a public service to the ex-governor who we know watches—here now, an encore of the best of Tina Fey as Sarah Palin.


FEY:  Every morning, when Alaskans wake up, one of the first things they do is look outside to see if there are any Russians hanging around.  If there are, you‘ve got to go up to them and ask, “What are you doing here?”  And if they can‘t give you a good reason, if they can‘t, it‘s our responsibility to say, you know, “Shoo!  Get back over there!”

AMY POEHLER, “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”:  You compare your road to the White House to my road to the White House.  I scratched and clawed through mud and barbed wire.  And you just glided in on a dog sled. 

QUEEN LATIFA, ACTRESS:  I would now like to give each of you a chance to make a closing statement. 

FEY:  Are we not doing the talent portion?

I‘d like to entertain everybody with some fancy pageant walking. 


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  The final days of any election are the most essential.  This past Wednesday, Barack Obama purchased air time on three major networks.  We, however, can only afford QVC. 

FEY:  These campaigns sure are expensive. 

MCCAIN:  They sure are. 

FEY:  Why not do your holiday shopping with us? 

OK.  Listen up everybody.  I‘m going rogue right now.  So keep your voices down.  Available now, we have a bunch of these Palin 2012 t-shirts.  Just try and wait until after Tuesday to wear them.  OK? 


SHUSTER:  President Obama trying to stop Wall Street from going rogue.  His blunt message to the financial industry in his first trip to Wall Street. 

And bad behavior hits the big time.  Serena Williams threatens a line judge.  Kanye West interrupts an acceptance speech to say the wrong person won.  Crazy season hits high gear ahead on COUNTDOWN.


SHUSTER:  Today is the one-year anniversary of an event that may have ultimately helped elect Barack Obama.  But it also certainly saddled him with the kind of mess no president would ever choose to have.  In our third story on the COUNTDOWN, the president still has a lot to fix or else risk everything else on his agenda. 

President Obama came to Wall Street today to make his case for stricter financial regulations.  One year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the subsequent financial bailout, the president tried to strike a theme of never again. 


OBAMA:  So I want everybody here to hear my words.  We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess that was at the heart of this crisis, where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses.  Those on Wall Street cannot resume taking risks without regard for consequences and expect that next time American taxpayers will be there to break their fall. 


SHUSTER:  And even though the massive financial bailout began under the Bush administration, the Obama administration is just now beginning to talk about unwinding the government‘s involvement in that industry.  None of it is very easy.  And much of it a subject of knee jerk disdain from voters. 

While the House Finance Committee Chair Barney Frank expects finance reform to be voted on by November, such timing may be tricky at best, since health care reform is still President Obama‘s top priority.  Of course, the president once joked that the only thing less popular than the banking bailout was the auto industry bailout.  And yet new regulations for the financial sector are expected to get tough opposition, especially from Republicans. 

Let‘s bring in the Washington editor of “The Week Magazine,” and political columnist for “Bloomberg News,” Margaret Carlson.  Margaret, great to see you.

MARGARET CARLSON, “BLOOMBERG NEWS”:  Good to see you, David.

SHUSTER:  Margaret, is one of the problems with this issue, regulation of the financial industry, that it does not easily grab public attention, even though it is incredibly important.

CARLSON:  I think it does get grab public attention.  But when you get in the weeds on it, then the public just throws up its hands and can‘t figure it out.  But boy, when you hear about the bonuses, when the banks are getting bailed out, but people aren‘t getting bailed out and their houses aren‘t getting—they‘re not getting help with their foreclosures.

People are furious about that.  Even more so than things that happened in health care.  But, you know, you‘re told oh, it‘s too complicated.  You just don‘t understand why we can‘t bail out homeowners.  We can only bail out the banks.  Or you don‘t understand why Goldman Sachs is thriving with your taxpayer money.  I think it‘s a sense of helplessness that keeps the public from doing more. 

SHUSTER:  What happens under this scenario?  These new regulations reach the House and Senate floor, and therefore reach maximum exposure at the same time that health care is going through its final push.  Is Congress really capable of doing two big things at once? 

CARLSON:  David, you‘re tempting me here.  Let‘s go at it this way.  The Congress is supposed to contain our best and brightest.  We elect these people because they are educated, intelligent.  They know public policy.  Of course they can do two things at the same time.  The people who complain that it‘s too much are the people who have never been in favor of either health care reform or financial reform, so they‘re looking for an excuse. 

It‘s not as if they couldn‘t get it done.  By the way, they‘ve had months and months to look at the health care bills on the Hill.  There‘s going to be, you know, no surprises if you wanted to actually read the bills.  The financial regulations are a little bit harder to follow.  As I said before, even for members of Congress, even for lawyers, some of that is hard to follow. 

But you know which side to be on.  I‘m afraid that what we‘ve got here, David, is not only are banks too big to fail; they may be too big to regulate for our Congress. 

SHUSTER:  Why is it that some of the same politicians and those in the public who are angry about what Wall Street did to this economy are also opposed to greater oversight? 

CARLSON:  Well, these interests are the most powerful in the United States.  The financial industry, I mean, they have tens of millions of hundreds of millions of dollars to give.  By the way, they‘re still—you know, some of them are on the ropes.  Well, they‘re still spending huge sums on lobbyists.  It‘s not as if they don‘t have ready cash.  And they‘re the biggest givers to campaigns. 

You know, members of Congress don‘t want to have to take a vote against these industries, anymore than they want to vote against the health insurance industry or hospitals.  They are much more powerful as an entity than any individual like you or me, who might be upset either about what happens when an insurance company turns you down or what happens when your house is being foreclosed, but the bank that did it is getting federal money. 

SHUSTER:  When the president spoke today, he was warmly and politely received by that mostly Wall Street crowd.  But his speech was interrupted by applause only once. 

CARLSON:  Once I think, right. 

SHUSTER:  They are not too keen on what the president proposes.  Will they, in fact, fight it? 

CARLSON:  You know how when you see the text of a speech, you see sometimes the breaks for applause?  No breaks for applause in this speech.  It was exactly the time that was allotted to it. 

You know, I don‘t know what—something has to happen.  Even some of the banks probably don‘t want to get where they were before.  If you touch a hot stove, you don‘t go near it again.  But it‘s shocking to find out some of these new instruments being developed by the very same people that had to be rescued for the crazy instruments like the credit default swaps that they were putting out there. 

Some e-mails came out today, David, when S&P was saying, we would rate a deal structured by a cow.  And in the e-mails they referred to what they were selling as vomit.  You know, I mean, they knew it was bad.  And they did it.  So we‘ll have to see if there‘s anything that can control this urge to take these kinds of risks. 

SHUSTER:  Margaret Carlson of “Bloomberg News” and “The Week Magazine,” thanks as always.  We appreciate it. 

CARLSON:  Thanks, David. 

SHUSTER:  As Ted Kennedy‘s memoirs hit book stores, hear the senator in his own words talk about the importance of getting the book right. 

What‘s gone wrong with civility?  first the president gets interrupted.  Now during the Video Music Awards, Kanye West interrupts an acceptance speech to say the wrong person won. 

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, the deviant behavior inside the American Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.  The whistle blower who exposed the problems talks to Rachel. 


SHUSTER:  Breaking news this hour that after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, Patrick Swayze has died.  A publicist for Mr. Swayze has confirmed the death of the actor.  He was reportedly at home after having left a Los Angeles hospital late August. 

Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January of last year.  But he continued to work on a television series and he privately fought his illness, even as public rumors circulated that he had already succumbed.  Swayze is perhaps best known as the star of “Dirty Dancing,” the iconic film from the late 1980s, in which he played dance teacher Johnny Castle.  In 1990s “Ghost,” Swayze found himself with another monster hit. 

Swayze‘s career began when he played Prince Charming for “Disney On Parade,” and it included turns on Broadway in both “Grease” and “Chicago.”  Most recently, he was co-writing a memoir with his wife of 34 years, Lisa. 

Patrick Swayze was 57 years old. 


SHUSTER:  It‘s a chronicle of his life‘s work, the highs as well as the lows, for a man that kept his emotions private.  His own sons called it a revelation.  Our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, the late Senator Ted Kennedy‘s memoir, “True Compass,” hits book stores today.  The senator started working on it before his cancer diagnosis.  Its release moved up twice.  And copies of the finished book arrived at Kennedy‘s home in Hyannisport the day he died. 

Our correspondent is Andrea Mitchell. 


ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR (voice-over):  In “True Compass,” Teddy Kennedy reveals the lessons of a lifetime, from his privileged youth as the youngest Kennedy child, to the burdens of being the only surviving son.  He was reflective talking with his publisher last February. 

TED KENNEDY, FMR. SENATOR:  Sometime in your life you have to recognize that there‘s an extraordinary opportunity to put down some thoughts that you have that are relevant to your service in the United States Senate.  And that‘s what I‘ve tried to do. 

MITCHELL:  His memoir is a fascinating account of his childhood, including some tough lessons from his father. 

KENNEDY:  I had a sit down with my dad.  He said, I just want you to know, I have other children that are out there, that intend to have a purposeful and constructive life.  And so you have to make up your mind about which direction you‘re going to go. 

MITCHELL:  What emerges in the book is how scarred Kennedy was by his brothers‘ assassinations.  First, Jack.  Then Bobby.

KENNEDY:  Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today


MITCHELL:  He writes how he feared he, too, would be shot, flinching at 21-gun salutes at Arlington Cemetery, recoiling when he car backfired recalls, former aide Tom Rollins. 

TOM ROLLINS, FMR. KENNEDY AIDE:  He did a magnificent job of containing the anxiety that had to be part of that.  I never saw him sweating.  I saw him drop to the ground like a stone when there was a loud bang.  I saw him tell me to take a boom box away when he thought it was ticking like a bomb.  But I never saw him sweat. 

MITCHELL:  As the senator has now written, it is why after losing the nomination to Jimmy Carter in 1980, he granted his children‘s wish not to run again for president.  In the end, Ted Kennedy passed the torch of his legacy to his family and to a new, young president. 

OBAMA:  What we face, he wrote, is above all a moral issue.  At stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country. 


SHUSTER:  Coming up, a lot of people are questioning what happened to Serena Williams‘ compass at the U.S. Open.  Her tirade on center court was part of a bizarre weekend of high profile misbehavior.  Paging Miss Manners.


SHUSTER:  What started with one Congressman‘s delusional attack, continued with a tennis pro‘s profanity-laced rant and a rapper‘s rude stage invasion.  In our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, the era of public outburst is upon us.  We now join the decline of civility, already in progress. 

First up, tennis champ Serena Williams.  At the U.S. Open women semifinals, Williams battling the under-seed Kim Clijsters.  Early in the match, Williams threw a tennis racket and was issued a warning.  Then, one point away from facing match point, a lines judge called a foot fault on her.  And that‘s when Ms. Williams went off. 




SHUSTER:  The tournament referee awarded a penalty point to Clijsters, giving her the match.  The USTA fined Ms. Williams 10,000 dollars for the meltdown and an additional 500 bucks for racket abuse.  She may face more penalties, including suspension from next year‘s Open. 

Williams issuing this apology.  “Hey, guys, I want to sincerely apologize first to the lines-woman, Kim Clijsters, the USTA and tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst.  I am a woman of great pride, faith and integrity.  And I admit when I‘m wrong.” 

The Wilson style raging continues, this time at the MTV‘s Video Music Awards.  The category, best female video.  The moon man went to 19-year-old country phenom Taylor Swift.  But not if Kanye West could help it. 


TAYLOR SWIFT, SINGER:  I sing country music.  So thank you so much for giving me the chance to win a VMA award.  I—

KANYE WEST, SINGER:  Ms. Taylor, I‘m really happy for you.  I‘ll let you finish.  But Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.  One of the best videos of all time. 


SHUSTER:  Kanye‘s lobbying for Beyonce proved pathetic, yet not quite prophetic, as she later won video of the year and invited Ms. Swift to come up and speak.  Kanye issuing an all caps apology on his blog late last night, the sort of mea culpa drumming up so much traffic it caused his website to crash. 

His second apology appeared earlier today.  “I feel like Ben Stiller in ‘Meet the Parents‘ when he messed up everything and Robert De Niro asked him to leave.  That was Taylor‘s moment.  And I had no right in any way to take it from her.  I am truly sorry.” 

Joining us now is comedian Christian Finnegan.  Christian, good evening. 


SHUSTER:  Christian, will Kanye have to issue an apology for his apology, specifically, I don‘t know, one to Robert De Niro? 

FINNEGAN:  Yes.  I heard Robert De Niro just got rid of all of his Kanye ring tones.  I actually find that “Meet the Parents” metaphor a little tricky.  If you remember, in “Meet the Parents” Ben Stiller‘s character is like a really nice guy.  And in his effort to be liked, things just keep going wrong over and over.  Whereas Kanye West is a douche.  So things are a little different.

SHUSTER:  Now there is outrage over Kanye‘s outrage.  As Kelly Clarkson astutely opined, “it‘s absolutely fascinating how much I don‘t like you.  I like everyone.”  Did Kanye just takes some of the heat, I don‘t know, off Joe Wilson and Serena Williams, for that matter? 

FINNEGAN:  You have to admire how relentlessly Kanye goes after the D-Bag crown.  It‘s really Lex Luther-esque.  If there are any TV executives watching, I have a pitch for you.  Kanye West stumbles upon a time machine and travels through history interrupting famous speeches.  The Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, the Sermon on the Mount. 

Here‘s the title: “Quantum Creep.”

SHUSTER:  Kanye is going to be on the premiere of the “Jay Leno Show” tonight.  Does this make him the new Hugh Grant? 

FINNEGAN:  I guess.  You have to wait and see what he is going to say.  I don‘t know what to expect.  But I would say somebody is going to have their finger hovering over the bleep button at any moment, probably a safe bet. 

SHUSTER:  Turning now to Serena Williams.  Are we being too hard on her?  After all, she tried to explain to the judge, she never said she was going to kill anyone.  Just shove a ball down their throat. 

FINNEGAN:  Yes, I mean, who could possibly be physically threatened by Serena Williams?  She‘s such a shirking violet.  You want to see a real bruiser.  Do a Google image search on that line judge.  What was she, 4‘8, 4‘9?  You don‘t want to run into her on a dark tennis court.  I‘ll tell you that.  A veritable Gorgon that line judge was.

SHUSTER:  Are public outbursts the new trend?  And do you think that Joe Wilson is now considering himself a trend setter, including starting the trend of totally lame apologies? 

FINNEGAN:  He‘s really just—his whole attitude, he‘s really just copying the tea baggers.  In fact, I actually think they missed a huge opportunity at Fashion Week last week.  Just picture this, David, tea bag chic.  Beautiful models strutting the catwalk, wearing high wasted acid washed jeans and fanny packs, carrying misspelled protest signs, and as far as the color palette goes, pretty much entirely white. 

SHUSTER:  Quickly, who do you predict giving the next public outburst? 

FINNEGAN:  Why would I know that, David?  Why am I surrounded by morons?  I am going to take this flipping microphone and cram it down your flipping throat.  By the way, I think it‘s great that you‘re air hosting COUNTDOWN.  But Tamron Hall is one of the best anchors of all time.

SHUSTER:  Comedian Christian Finnegan, thanks as always for your time. 

We appreciate it.  That will do it for this Monday edition of COUNTDOWN.  I‘m David Shuster, in for Keith Olbermann.  You can usually catch me from 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern on MSNBC with my colleague Tamron Hall. 

Thanks for watching.  Our MSNBC coverage continues now with “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.”  Good evening Rachel.



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