'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Guests: Lawrence O‘Donnell, Markos Moulitsas, Rep. Anthony Weiner, Chris Hayes, Craig Crawford

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Breaking news at this hour: Saying the inclination to racism in the country still exists, former President Jimmy Carter has tonight told NBC News that it has again bubbled up to the surface and that much of the most extreme animosity towards President Obama stems from the belief—again quoting Jimmy Carter, “that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country,” unquote.


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

The other bill: The Senate Finance Committee stripping reform of most reforms, still gaining virtually or literally no Republican support.

Insurance whistleblower Wendell Potter sums it up in today‘s testimony.


WENDELL POTTER, FORMER CIGNA EXECUTIVE:  The bill it sends to the president might as well be called the “Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act.”


OLBERMANN:  Resolution of disapproval.  The mildest wrist slap ever for yelling at a president during his address to Congress like he was a referee and Joe Wilson was a drunken fan.  And the Republicans oppose the resolution.


REP. JOE WILSON ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  I think it is clear to the American people that there are far more important issues facing this nation than what we‘re addressing right now.


OLBERMANN:  Cooking the numbers.  The 9/12 protests in Washington—

75,000 attended tops, maybe, say the district police.  “Hundreds of thousands,” reports FOX News.  “A million seven,” says “Lonesome Roads.”


GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST:  If you look at the pictures, university looked at it, did the body count, et cetera, et cetera, 1.7 million.


OLBERMANN:  How about eleventy billion?


BECK:  You‘re not alone.


OLBERMANN:  And body count?  And, why didn‘t Beck show up at his own dog and pony show?  “The L.A. Times” with a super catch.  What about the logo?  Doesn‘t that logo look awfully like this logo?  Glenn Beck‘s group uses socialist imagery.

“Worsts”: Congresswoman Foxx—again.


REP. VIRGINIA FOXX ®, NORTH CAROLINA:  Thomas Sowell, an African-American, examines some of President Obama‘s claims about the health care reform legislation.


OLBERMANN:  But since none of Mr. Sowell‘s examination had anything to do with race, why did the congresswoman bring up his race?

And Bush on Palin: more revelations from the last president‘s last speechwriter.  “What is she?” Mr. Bush asks, “The governor of Guam?”  “This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for.”

George W. Bush, you have unsuspected depth.

All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT:  I also read three Shakespeares.



OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

The theory that at least those on the fringes of the kind of political road rage against the 44th president are there because of racism or latent racism or just racial fear may not move to the center of the nation‘s political discourse—in our fifth story tonight: This after remarks today by former President Jimmy Carter in an interview with Brian Williams for “NBC Nightly News.”

The 39th president who watched his native Georgia grown from lynching and Jim Crow to comparative enlighten (ph), and in less than half of his lifetime, minced no words about what he sees behind the anger supposedly focused on the issue of health care.


JIMMY CARTER, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT:  I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he‘s African-American.  I live in the South, and I have seen the South come a long way and I have seen the rest of the country that shared the South‘s attitude towards minority groups at that time, particularly African-Americans.  And that racism inclination still exists.  And I think it‘s bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people—not just in the South but around the country—that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.  It‘s an abominable circumstance and grieves me and concerns me very deeply.


OLBERMANN:  I‘m joined now by our own Lawrence O‘Donnell, contributor of the “Huffington Post” and, of course, of MSNBC.

An overwhelmingly proportion of the intensely-demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact he‘s a black man.  Is President Carter correct?

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, we have to wonder especially when we saw Joe Wilson, congressman from South Carolina.  I‘m not from the South.  I‘m from the south side of Boston, when where I grew up, that was a very racist precinct to be from.  And we reveal that when school bussing came to our city in 1975.

When you hear someone who grew up in the Deep South, as President Carter did, who worked his way into politics in the Deep South as President Carter did, you have to take this very seriously.

You know, the question has been out there about Joe Wilson.  You know, was it really just they need a breathalyzer to allow people onto the House floor, or was there something more serious going on?  This is—and I suggested that the apology he really now needs to make is to the people of South Carolina, many of whom have worked very, very hard to erase the stain of racism from that state to—starting with slavery and through segregation.

He was alive—he was born into segregation, born into a segregated South Carolina.  And so for him to do this, for him to raise this question as he has done, requires at minimum that he apologize to the people of South Carolina who tried to put this behind them.

OLBERMANN:  Back to President Carter.  It is one thing if I were to conclude this and I have suggested that this might be often true in the most virulent of cases, especially the more—the less rational, the surface argument seems to be, the more likely there is that there is another explanation and unfortunately, the natural one would—given our history—would be this one.  It‘s one thing if you wrote about this or commented about this.  What happens if it is a former president of the United States, any former president of the United States, but as you alluded to, particularly this one who gives voice to this?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, this—this is a real voice of authority.  And I think when you look at something like the health care bill, which is—in any version, is going to be over 1,000 pages long.  It has many particulars, including tax increases that are specified as tax increases.  Other things that are called fee increases that you can argue are tax increases.  I can go on and on with substantive arguments that the Republican side of this—of our politics could be making against these bills.

And instead they‘ve been up there trying to slander Barack Obama and talk about—talk about things that aren‘t even in the bill because they‘re afraid of something other than the bill.  And that‘s why when I—when you have someone like Jimmy Carter talking about this from his life experience, this has to be taken very seriously.

OLBERMANN:  When it comes to the—to the town halls and the—just

·         again, road rage may be in fact a pretty good term for it—when it comes to that and you hear people saying, “I want my America back,” very many of these people would actually get something closer to this America back, particularly if health care reform passed, and they didn‘t have to deal with another 12 increases in their insurance premiums between now and the end of this president‘s term and whatever the number might be.


When it‘s something like that, are there other explanations for it or does the idea that there is a—that there is a racist element of the country, a fear, is that—is that the only explanation or are there other explanations for this generalized, ill-defined anger?

O‘DONNELL:  I don‘t have another one when I look at the preceding model for this, which was Hillary Clinton‘s crusade in the same legislative arena.  Now, Hillary Clinton was despised by that side of the world as a crazy lefty.  They attacked her on policy grounds.

They were screaming about the employer mandate.  They did not say we want the country back.  Or they weren‘t saying these same things, those 15 years ago on exactly the same subject area.  They were actually coming at the bill.  Now, in a pretty crude way but they were talking about the bill.

These people have not been talking about what‘s in the bill.  I have never seen that before in opposition to legislation.  You oppose legislation by talking about what‘s in it.  They‘re not talking about that.  So, what is that motivation?

OLBERMANN:  Could Carter‘s words, could he carry enough weight to bring this issue into the mainstream of political discussion, and is that a good thing, or will it just polarize people more on this?

O‘DONNELL:  I think it‘s something that we have to look at.  We have to hold it up and look at it.  Maybe look at it for a period of time.  Maybe a fortnight of thinking about it, and then maybe put it away again for a while.

But I‘ve been bothered by some very quick dismissals, for example, at the notion that—oh, no, no, the Joe Wilson thing was not a racial incident in any way.  There were no racial overtones to that as all.

And there are some columnists, like Maureen Dowd, who have come out and connected those dots and they get sort of criticized as being kind of loony, imaginary, you know, imaging things.

No, I think there‘s something very legitimate to consider and I think it‘s incumbent on Joe Wilson to come out and somehow prove to us—prove to us that this son of South Carolina, born into segregation, grew up in it, that—no, no, no, he‘s completely clean on this.  I mean, let him come to the podium now.  Let him explain to Brian Williams, explain to you, explain to us how we can really be sure that that had nothing to do with that moment and why he might believe that it has nothing to do with the big protest moment we saw—the big protests we‘ve seen out there against President Obama.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  He would have burst out with that against—same thing against President Hillary Clinton or President John McCain.  That‘s a great point.

Lawrence O‘Donnell of MSNBC and the “Huffington Post”—thanks for coming in tonight.

O‘DONNELL:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  To expand on this further, let‘s go with Markos Moulitsas, the founder and publisher of Daily Kos, author, of course, of “Taking on the System.”

Markos, thanks for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN:  As I suggested to Lawrence O‘Donnell, it‘s one thing if he or I would say this, and it‘s one thing if your readers or diarists were to say this.  What does it mean that it‘s President Carter is saying this?

MOULITSAS:  Well, it does carry a certain level of authority, not just intellectual but moral authority.  This guy is a guy who grew up in the South and knows the South better than probably most people, was a governor of Georgia.

So, he knows what he‘s talking about.  This isn‘t something random partisan shot against Joe Wilson.  I mean, I think he really feels this deeply, that this is something that troubles him and it‘s a problem that America needs to deal with.

OLBERMANN:  I think, also, to be clear here, he did not specifically invoke what Congressman Wilson said or did or him in any of this.  His comments to Brian were broadly about the over—as he said, “The overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity towards President Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man.”

What happens next politically?  Where does this go in the next 48 hours do you think?

MOULITSAS:  You know, I don‘t know.  But ultimately, there is a kernel of a truth and I think it has to be addressed.  There‘s a reason that these tea baggers, these conservatives are blaming that Obama was born in Kenya and not American.  He‘s not legitimate in their eyes, he‘s not a real American.

And poll after poll had shown that two-thirds of Republicans—two-thirds—do not believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States or are not sure.  They think it‘s open to debate.

So, clearly this is not an issue of policy differences.  They are really angry that there‘s a black man in charge of this country and they‘re lashing out in ways such as the “You lie!”

And that Joe Wilson has a history of this kind of stuff.  He was one of seven state senators in South Carolina to vote against removing the Confederate flag from the state capitol.  I mean, this is a guy that has a history already of so-called defending the “heritage of the South,” whatever that might mean.  And I think it‘s not hard to draw conclusions from that.

OLBERMANN:  I want to take this opportunity, because this has not been around that much and it was on Brian Williams‘ piece on Jimmy Carter tonight on “Nightly News” and we have run it already here once.  I want to play the clip from President Carter once again so we know the terrain we‘re talking about.  Then I have another question for you.


CARTER:  I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity towards President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he‘s African-American.  I live in the South, and I have seen the South come a long way, and I have seen the rest of the country that shared the South‘s attitude towards minority groups, at that time particularly African-Americans.  And that racism inclination still exists.  And I think it‘s bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people—not just in the South but around the country—that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.  It‘s an abominable circumstance and grieves me and concerns me very deeply.


OLBERMANN:  Markos, big picture here.  I think people foresaw the nation‘s past history of racism as a factor in the election last year, as something to be overcome, and I think a lot of people—even those who did not vote for the president—saw and felt a sense of triumph that this had occurred.

Did anybody foresee this as an issue of governance or an issue that would actually be even if it—with 10-foot poles exploited by the opposing party?  In governance?

MOULITSAS:  Yes.  Clearly, we knew this was going to happen.  Anybody who has any inkling of what the conservative movement is about and what it is capable of knew that they were going to latch on this sort of thing as a tool to try to rally their own base and try to drive Obama‘s favorabilities into the ground.  I mean, you saw what they did to Bill Clinton, who was a white president, obviously, but they accused him of murdering people—all sorts of horrible, horrible things.

So, this is not beyond them.  So, it was clear when Obama became president, and as you had the Republican Party taken over by the Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks and Bill O‘Reillys, you knew this was sort of what was going to happen.  It was almost inevitable.  And I think what is important now is to see how we as a nation react to those baseless and hideous attacks.

OLBERMANN:  As if we needed an underscoring, you mentioned Bill O‘Reilly‘s name.  At this hour, as we speak, the segment he is doing is about ACORN, as if Barack Obama were its founder, president, and made million dollars a year or a week off of it.  It underscores it perfectly.

Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos—always a pleasure, my friend.  Thanks for your time tonight.

MOULITSAS:  Thank you very much.

OLBERMANN:  And then there is Congressman Joe Wilson, resolution of disapproval.  The House equivalent of saying “Naughty boy,” passed this afternoon, 240 to 179.  Seven Republicans voted yes, a dozen Democrats no.

The Democrats‘ main argument: Wilson needed to apologize to the House, not just the president, for violating House rules of decorum.  The Republicans main repulsed that the Democrats wasted time that could have been spent on the urgent issues of the economy or health care.

The House spent less than an hour introducing, debating and voting on the Wilson wrist slap and then proceeded to bring up H.R. 317 which would, quote, “recognize the region from Manhattan, Kansas, to St. Joseph, to Columbia, Missouri, including the Metropolitan Kansas City Area, and St.  Joseph, Missouri, as the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor.”

Now that the great health corridor question has finally gotten its due, are we indeed moving towards as one whistleblower put it in testimony to Congress today, the “Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act”?  Congressman Anthony Weiner—next.


OLBERMANN:  The Senate Finance Committee health care reform bill is reportedly so bad it would enable insurers to legally charge more to cover women.  This went being a battered spouse or being pregnant is already in many states considered a pre-existing condition, that can cause a woman‘s insurance to be canceled or her application for insurance denied.  The latest state-of-play in health care reform today with Congressman Anthony Weiner—next here on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Rescission—what just might be the most pernicious practice in an industry teaming with them.  Insurance companies actively seeking out so-called “pre-existing conditions” to cancel your health insurance policy after you get sick even though you have been paying your premiums on time and in full for years.  They also seek them to reject new insurance applicants.

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: The latest Senate Finance Committee compromise bill would reportedly allow insurance companies to charge most employers more to insure women employees, this while the current system that Republicans are defending includes rescission, which itself allows for pre-existing conditions to include being beaten by your spouse or being pregnant.  Every woman in this country supporting Republicans and the status quo is directly or indirectly supporting also canceling or precluding insurance for battered women or pregnant women.

Another day on Capitol Hill, another day without a look at exactly what is in or what is left in that Senate Finance bill.  Chairman Baucus having said Monday the group of six senators were on track to release the bill this week, possibly tomorrow.  The full committee markup would be next week.

Even before its release, the top Republican in the Senate dismissing it.  Minority Leader McConnell saying of the bill, quote, “I don‘t think that‘s a package that very many of the Republicans will support.”

Two of the Republicans who helped to write the bill joining the minority leader in complaining about it: Senators Enzi of Wyoming and Grassley of Iowa, cataloging their complaints in documents sent to Chairman Baucus—because they didn‘t see enough of him while they were drafting the legislation?

Majority Leader Reid concluding, quote, “If we can‘t get the 60 votes we need, then we will have no alternative but to use the so-called budget reconciliation process to pass health care reform without Republicans.”

The health care reform in Washington, Wendell Potter, health care communications director for CIGNA, as well as frequent guest on this newshour, justifying to lawmakers yesterday, he told reporters that the finance committee bill was an absolute gift to health care insurance companies.  Today, he suggested that any legislation which does not include a public option should be given a new name.


POTTER:  If Congress goes along with the so-called “solutions” that the insurance industry says it is bringing to the table and acquiesces to the demands it is making of lawmakers, and if it fails to create a public insurance option to compete with private insurers, the bill it sends to the president might as well be called the “Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act.”


OLBERMANN:  In 2006, Democrats in the Senate having tried to end the insurance industry practice, now legal in eight states and the District of Columbia, of discriminating against people who are being beaten by their spouses, an amendment introduced by Senator Patty Murray of Washington was defeated then in the health committee in a tie vote, 10-10.  All of the no votes were Republicans.  Among them Senator Enzi, the same Mike Enzi now drafting and complaining about the bill about to come out of the finance committee.

Let‘s turn now to Congressman Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, member of the energy and commerce committee.

Great thanks again for your time tonight, Congressman.

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  My pleasure.  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  When insurance companies are not rescinding one woman‘s coverage because she once had acne, they‘re rescinding another woman‘s coverage because she‘s a victim of domestic violence, a culture of insurance-wise blaming the victim.  Does that pretty much sum up the American health insurance industry at the moment?

WEINER:  Well, you know, it‘s been frequently said and I said on your show, I don‘t think people in the insurance companies are evil, but it‘s clear what they want to do is take in as much money as they can and pay as little as possible out in the form of benefits.  That‘s the way they function.  That‘s the way they make profits.

And if you remember what the president said, there are three things we need to accomplish in health care.  One, cover about 40 million additional Americans.  That‘s good for health insurance companies.  Two other things are going to be tough for them, and that is making sure health insurance companies don‘t do things like deny coverage.  And third is hold down costs, meaning, they have to take less profits or have lower overhead.

What seems to be coming out of the Senate bill is we‘re going to say, “OK, everyone has to go out and get coverage,” which is good for health insurance companies, but basically everything the insurance industry wants, they‘re going to be able to keep doing in the rest of the bill, and that‘s the problem.  This is why you need some element of competition so they‘re held honest.

But right now, what‘s coming out of the Senate bill is so watered down.  It hardly can be called reform at this point.

OLBERMANN:  So, to the point of Mr. Potter‘s terminology here, the “Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act.”  If it‘s like that, wouldn‘t have you to vote against it?

WEINER:  Well, it sure has to have more than the Senate‘s putting in.  You know, I keep hearing people say, “Well, the public option‘s just one element of the bill.”  But it‘s an extraordinarily important one and your viewers need to understand why.

If we leave insurance companies to their own devices, they have shown no instinct at all for saving money for the taxpayers or for their customers.  That‘s not what they do.  They save money if they can get any bet cutting services and then keeping money for their shareholders or for bonuses for their executives.

So, unless there‘s some—some element of these bills that says we‘re going to contain that, then frankly, we‘re going to be right back to the drawing board a couple of years later with the exploding costs and the same thing.  Remember, we didn‘t have the term pre-existing condition until we outsourced so much of the job of health care to private insurance companies.

OLBERMANN:  One thread through many of these stories of rescission, of rejection, of applications for insurance would seem to be this issue of gender—that, obviously, the overwhelming majority of battered spouses are women, pregnant women who try to buy insurance on the individual market get turned down because pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition.  Have the reformers made a strong enough case to women—never mind political orientation—just the 51 percent of the people in this country who are women, about where reform really means to them?

WEINER:  You know, we have this kind of two-course argument going on in Washington where people say, “Hey, I like my insurance company.  Why do you want to change it?”  Yes, they like it if they‘re in certain categories.  One category of people that likes it or people that never have to get their health insurance, that they‘re healthy, they never have to dial the 800 number or wrestle with any of the forms.

Another group that‘s far less happy are women, because they have different health care costs and they have health care costs that are much more likely to be targeted by health insurance companies for denial.  Many of the states of the country now have laws protecting women when they come in when they‘re having children.  They only have those laws because there were so many abuses among insurance companies trying to deny coverage to pregnant women.

This is one of the reasons why we need reform in this country.  But more than just reform, we need competition for insurance companies.  You can have all of the reform legislation that you want—and what seems to be happening in the Senate is they are even watering down that language.

So, look, I‘m glad that cooling softer of a democracy in the Senate is finally moving something along so we can get back to the path of doing what the president articulated, which is protect consumers from these abuses.

OLBERMANN:  So, ultimately, Congressman, are we back on the path to a good bill or not?

WEINER:  Well, not if we go—look, the Senate bill might be a starting point for something.  But right now, they have taken the basic elements of health care that the president said he wants, that the American people need—containing costs through competition and guaranteeing that we don‘t have abuses of people who have private insurance.  And they‘ve watered them down to the point where they‘re virtually meaningless.

So, if you just say this is only going to be about insuring more people, giving more customers to the insurance companies, without any of those protections, we‘re basically worse off than when we started.

OLBERMANN:  Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York—as always, great thanks for your time.

WEINER:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The Glenn Beck event in Washington on Saturday—why is he insisting nearly 2 million people showed up when the only estimate from an official is 70,000?  And by the way, why didn‘t he show up?

And as if to prove President Carter correct, a North Carolina congresswoman brings up the color of one of the president‘s health care critics because that means it‘s one African-American criticizing another African-American, so the critic must be right?

“Worst Persons” is ahead on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  “Bests” in a moment.  First, if you missed the breaking news at the top of this news hour, former President Carter has lent the authority to his stature to the proposition that there is much more and much worse to what he called “an intensely demonstrated animosity” towards President Obama.  In an inclusive interview with “NBC Nightly News,” Mr.  Carter said today that that anger, quote, “is based on the fact that he is a black man, the racism inclination still exists and I think it‘s bubbled up to the surface because of the belief of many white people that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.”

President Carter‘s full comments coming up again at the top of the hour on “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.”

When the crowd estimates run from 900 people to 2 million, somebody‘s lying, since the only estimate from an official is 75,000 tops.  I think we know who is lying.

And more shocking still, his assessment of her.  You‘ll agree with him.

These stories ahead.

But, first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s “Top Three Best Persons in the World.”

Dateline: Washington.  Number three: Best self-sinking.  Troubled Virginia Republican candidate Bob McDonnell asked live on radio if he is going to raise taxes to help the state transportation budget, Mr. McDonnell said no, quote, “I‘ve outlined 12 F-ing funding mechanisms that are creative, that are entrepreneurial.”  He didn‘t say F‘ing.  But he has locked in the vote of the F-ing entrepreneurs at least. 

Dateline, Charlestown, West Virginia, best new trick, an unidentified reader of the Martinsburg Newspaper.  “The Journal News” offering this letter to the editor: “I see where the liberal left extremists, such as Howard Dean, Robert Gibbs, David Axelrod, Cesar Chavez, Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Harry Reid, George Soros and Keith Olbermann and many others are always attacking Fox News.  What are they afraid of?” 

Well, since Fox News was founded in 1996, and Cesar Chavez died in ‘93, I have to say, in this context, I‘m afraid of ghosts.  Honestly, sir or madam, if the great union leader Mr. Chavez is really attacking Fox News now, you had better listen because he‘s speaking from the great beyond, and he may actually be telling you what God told him to say. 

And dateline Los Angeles, number one, best catch, Christopher Knight of the “LA Times.”  After Lonesome roads paranoid rant about socialist symbols in everyday plain sight, Mr. Knight found one, the logo for Beck‘s 9/12 rally.  Three waves and clenched red fists super-imposed over the Capitol.  To Mr. Knight this looked vaguely like the raised and clenched red fists of the Communist logo, as shown in this Progressive Party Logo. 

Communists groups in various nations have used that fist since about 1940.  But its origins appear to be in the Industrial Workers of the World, the IWW, the Wobblies, the bomb-throwing socialists, dating to 1917.  Wait, 1917?  The year of the Russian revolution?  1917, the year the White Sox won the World Series.  And we know who‘s a White Sox fan, don‘t we, comrades?  Meaning Glenn Beck is just another front for Barack White Sox Obama.


OLBERMANN:  When you consider that 50,000 people marched the same day in one Labor Day parade in New York City just five days after Labor Day, and that 40,000 people attended a firefighters‘ memorial at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles the same day, then even the high end estimate from the public affairs officer for the District of Columbia Fire Department, 75,000 people at a 9/12 march in Washington, is not a particularly impressive number, when interested citizens were supposedly gathering from all across the United States, population of 13 million.

Which is why, in our third story on the COUNTDOWN, a bevy of hacks continues to inflate its lies about the scores of ordinary Americans who were there.  The 9/12 protest, AKA political road rage, drew 60,000 to 75,000 people by the only reliable measure, independent measure cited thus far, an unofficial estimate from a public affairs officer for the DC Fire Department. 

But according to Glenn Beck today, that number was actually 24 times greater. 


GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  We had the university—I think it‘s university of—I don‘t remember which university it is.  They looked at the pictures.  And they can do body space and recalculate.  One point seven million that crowd was estimated. 


BECK:  In Washington, D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Wow.  We were saying tens of thousands. 

BECK:  Of course, everybody was saying tens of thousands because that‘s the official report.  If you look at the pictures, university looked at it, did the body count, et cetera, et cetera, 1.7 million. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  One point seven million is a troubling number if you‘re in politics, because you think if that many people showed up—but since when—we have a time lapse photo, as people stream from—

BECK:  That looks like 30,000 or 70,000?  Please.  I have lived in Washington, D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Me, too.  That‘s north of half a million. 

BECK:  Yes. 


OLBERMANN:  The university of I don‘t remember.  Despite the momentary attempt to rein in Mr. Beck, cluster Fox and Friends consistently inflated the numbers to eventually hundreds of thousands.  Of course, the lies began at the protest itself.  An organizer claimed ABC News had reported that one to 1.5 million people were there.  That organizers, Matt Kibbe (ph) of Freedom Works, later recanted.  ABC News correctly denied ever having reported such a number.  It is a distortion then promulgated by Michelle Malkin, who wrote on her website that ABC put the crowd at two million people.  Why don‘t you go for two trillion?

A different kind of lie that day from Senator Jim Demint of South Carolina. saying to the crowd, quote, the “New York Times” just reported that 500 people showed up here. 

But getting back to the primary lie, already in progress.  Boss Limbaugh said the crowd was two million strong, citing a British tabloid that had reported no such thing.  And Lou Dobbs on his radio show said the number, quote, reached well over a million. 

Let‘s bring in the Washington editor of “The Nation,” Chris Hayes. 

Chris, good evening. 

CHRIS HAYES, “THE NATION”:  Good evening, comrade. 

OLBERMANN:  Thank you.  We‘re all White Sox fans now.  I knew there was an actual hypnosis in progress.  The phony numbers on the 9/12 protests, there were even postings by some blogs of a 10-year-old photo from a different rally to make the crowd seem bigger than it was.  Is this all part of the war room like propaganda campaign that follows something like this, especially if it does not meet expectations? 

HAYES:  Well, look, this is an age-old dynamic, right, in which there is a big protest or rally; the organizers claim one figure and then the police and the park service, whoever, claims another.  And usually—usually the protests are happening on the left, and there‘s some skepticism about the official numbers. 

But usually there‘s some sort of spectrum, right.  The protesters say X—or they say 2X, and the police say X.  So it‘s like two times or, you know, one time the amount. 

Here you have—you have this crazy inflated number that‘s so obviously, manifestly, laughably false.  And yet I think it‘s a fascinating case study in how the right is able to just wrench things from the fantasy world and kind of make them fact by repetition.  And we‘ll see.  Who knows, maybe a month from now, you know, mainstream news sources or politicians will be citing the two million people.  It may not even take that long. 

OLBERMANN:  Twenty four times greater the official estimate was the one the gentleman quoted today from the university of I don‘t remember.  The university of I don‘t remember, does that not sort of say it all? 

HAYES:  Yes, it does say it all.  I mean—I mean, look, the fact of the matter is there‘s not really any need for him to even pretend to cite something, right?  Glenn Beck could have just said, you know, looked to me like two million and that would have served the propagandist purpose just as well pretending to site a university he couldn‘t remember the name of. 

So there‘s a certain kind of a self-contained reality to this whole thing.  Watching the number pin-ball around the right wing blogs, as you noted in the lead in, shows that, you know, in some ways he was trying to gill the lily by even in attaching an air of credibility to it. 

OLBERMANN:  Also, is part of this—if they put out a no great expectations to begin with and 75,000 people showed up, that might have been actually pretty impressive.  That‘s a pretty big crowd.  But instead there‘s this bunk of about two million and the university of I don‘t remember.  Would actually impressing people with a low ball here have been better for those who are making this argument?  Or do these people actually want or need to make it into a dispute with the mainstream media?  If they had gotten 750,000 people, in other words, would they have still claimed two million just to have the dispute? 

HAYES:  You know, that‘s interesting.  I actually don‘t think it‘s about the dispute.  I think you‘re right that this is actually a really impressive bit of organizing.  Yes, you have a 24-hour cable news network broadcasting it all the time.  And 75,000 people is not that many. 

But Democrats and progressives I think sort of pooh-pooh it at their peril.  It was a sort of impressive group of organizing.  What it does show is a depth of feeling.  There‘s, what, 60 million people in this country who voted against Barack Obama, right?  A lot of them really, really don‘t like this president, don‘t like the direction the country is going, don‘t like the Democratic party, don‘t like anything that smacks of progressivism, socialism, whatever.  And they‘re really worked up and they‘re organized and they‘re mobilized. 

So there‘s a definite degree that the march showed the intensity.  What it doesn‘t show is the breadth of that sentiment.  And what inflating the number—what that‘s all about is confusing one from the other.  If they can do that, they win a huge political victory.  I was at a dinner last night with a Democratic Congressman, and you can tell he already thinks this is a much bigger portion of public opinion than it actually is numerically. 

So I think inflating the numbers is a way of converting that intensity among a relatively small group of people into something that is a majority or widely shared view.  I just don‘t think that‘s the case. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes, but a Sponge Bob Square Pants rally hyped by another cable network would have drawn half a million to the Capitol easily.  Do we have any idea why Beck didn‘t show up to his own event? 

HAYES:  Oh, I don‘t know.  The restaurants are better in New York?  I have no idea. 

OLBERMANN:  He‘s trying to remember the name of the university.  That‘s the correct answer.  He spent all weekend trying to remember the name of the university. 

HAYES:  It‘s a pain to schlep the body space counting equipment down to Washington. 

OLBERMANN:  Wass-matta-U.  Chris Hayes of “The Nation.”  Great thanks, Chris. 

HAYES:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Got to have sweatshirts made.  George W. Bush though Barack Obama unqualified, thought John McCain‘s campaign a five spiral crash.  But he really dished on Sarah Palin. 

Apropos of President Carter‘s remarks, even as one right wing commentator insisted again race has nothing to do with it, one right wing Congresswoman injects race into criticism of the president.  Case proved.


OLBERMANN:  Former President Bush speaks on the five spiral crash that was the McCain campaign, of the lack of qualifications of then Senators Clinton and Obama.  And even he felt that Governor Palin, quote, wasn‘t even remotely prepared for the campaign and what followed thereafter. 

That‘s next, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.

The bronze to Dick Morris with today‘s top lie on Fixed News, telling Hannity, quote, “nobody on the right wing has criticized Obama over race.  There isn‘t a vestige of that.” 

Of course not.  Limbaugh repeatedly played a song called “Barack the Magic Negro” and called him a half-rican American.  Congressman Westmoreland of Georgia referred to Mr. and Mrs. Obama as, quote, uppity.  The chair of a California Republican women‘s group issued Obama food stamps showing him with watermelon.  And Congressman Jeff Davis of Kentucky, Jeff Davis, said the president of him—he said that the boy‘s finger—excuse me.  I‘ll read it again.  “That boy‘s finger does not need to be on the button.” 

No, there‘s no racism from the right.  Not there.  Not in this country. 

The runner-up, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.  She has again let the cat out of the bag.  “Will illegal aliens have access to taxpayer-subsidized health care?”  Well, the answer is yes, they will.  Someone could walk into a Health and Human Services office and say, I‘d like to have free health care for me and my family.  And the Health and Human Services would not have any ability to ask, are you a legal citizen of the United States?  They would have no ability to ask, could you show me your documentation to prove that you‘re a United States citizen?” 

There it is again.  Congresswoman Bachmann revealing that which the Republicans do not wish their supporters to know.  To ensure that nobody here illegally might get care, the Republicans will require that everybody seeking care prove their citizenship, even in the emergency room, even if they‘re still dripping blood on the floor.  The Republicans want mandatory national I.D. 

But our winner, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of North Carolina.  You can tell when she‘s about to say something that will shame her district and her state; her lips are moving.  This is the representative who previously announced, in the presence of the man‘s mother, that Matthew Shepard was murdered not because he was gay, but as part of a robbery.  And that the Shepard hate crime bill was thus predicated on, quote, a hoax. 

This is the representative who previously announced that health care reform will, quote, put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government. 

Now she continues her outer space argument against health care reform by saying the following: “in a recent article, conservative commentator Thomas Sowell, an African-American, examined some of President Obama‘s claims about the health care reform legislation moving through the Congress.  I wanted to quote some excerpts from his column that I found insightful.” 

The article and the points Congresswoman Foxx raised had nothing to do with race.  So she cited the fact that Mr. Sowell is African-American for what reason?  Because the president is African-American?  Because if one of them disagrees with him, that carries more weight somehow?  Because they are all supposed to think alike? 

There is no reason to raise Mr. Sowell‘s race, except to introduce race into the health care debate.  So when somebody suggest that many of Obama‘s critics are motivated, in whole or in part, by latent racism, which they‘re trying to pave over with any excuse they can think of, this is what we‘re talking about.  Congresswoman Foxx having to tell you that one of the president‘s critics is also one of them. 

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, fifth district North Carolina, latent racist, today‘s worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN:  He assumed Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee.  He didn‘t think much of Barack Obama or his running mate, Joe Biden, for that matter.  So far nothing special from the 2008 political crystal ball of one George W. Bush.  But in our number one story, he reportedly called the McCain campaign a five-spiral crash, and also believed that Sarah Palin was put in a position she was not even remotely prepared for. 

Perhaps we misunderestimated him.  In the latest Bush administration tell all, “Speech-Less, Tales of a White House Survivor,” former speech writer Matt Lattimer describes the Bush White House as less like the “West Wing” and more like “the Office.”  Characterizes Mr. Bush as mocking towards other politicians.  To Hillary Clinton, wait until her fat keister is sitting at this desk, except he didn‘t say keister. 

To Joe Biden, if bull was currency, Biden would be a billionaire. 

As for the man who would succeed, Lattimer described as being ticked off by one of Barack Obama‘s speeches.  “This is a dangerous world and this cat isn‘t remotely qualified to handle it.  This guy has no clue, I promise you.  You think I wasn‘t qualified, he said to no one in particular.  I was qualified.” 

As for the Republican presidential nominee last year, Lattimer says Mr. Bush felt considerable unease when it cams to Senator McCain, preferring Mitt Romney.  And then there was the GOP vice presidential pick.  To his inner circle, Mr. Bush referred to then-Governor Palin as interesting.  “I‘m trying to remember if I met her before.  I‘m sure I must have.  His eyes twinkled and then he asked, what is she, the governor of Guam?  This woman has being put in a position she‘s not even remotely prepared for.  She hasn‘t spent one day on the national level.  Neither has her family.  Let‘s wait and see how she looks five days out.”

And if you think that was a prescient political observation, Lattimer also recounts Mr. Bush going over his speech for the CPAC convention and remarking, “I know it sounds arrogant to say, but I redefined the Republican party.” 

You have me there, sir.  Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst, columnist for CQPolitics.com, Craig Crawford.  Good evening, Craig. 

CRAIG CRAWFORD, CQPOLITICS.COM:  He redefined the Republican party into the minority party. 

OLBERMANN:  As a matter of fact, he did.  There‘s another one.  There‘s a second reference here.  He wanted the reference to the conservative movement taken out of his CPAC speech because—this is quoting again Lattimer‘s book—“let me tell you something, I whooped Gary Bauer‘s ass in 2000.  So take out all of this movement stuff.  There is no movement.” 

Do the conservatives know that George Bush claimed he killed off the conservatives? 

CRAWFORD:  First of all, boasting about beating Gary Bauer is not very much. 


CRAWFORD:  That poor guy in the New Hampshire primary fell down trying to flip a pancake.  But George Bush, this is the core, I think, of why this author wrote this book, the question you asked about conservatives, because a lot—the way a lot of folks on the left have a hard time seeing this, but many conservatives do think he abandoned their movement, immigration, government spending, several areas—the expansion of Medicare.  And they do see him as betraying their ideals. 

So this is one reason.  I think it‘s pretty clear in this author‘s book that it‘s one reason that he wrote the book. 

OLBERMANN:  Does it—putting this stuff together, does it—when you have to vote on whether this was a president who was—I don‘t know—lazy or not plugged in or not interested or cynical and exploitive, does this tend to support the cynical and exploitive end or the lazy and not plugged in end? 

CRAWFORD:  I think it really shows the kind of behind-the-scenes frat boy manner in which he handled himself in meetings.  I heard this during his administration many times from people who said he was actually in a meeting—there would be someone who he felt was kind of nerdy, a policy wonk.  And he would make fun of them and come up with nicknames for them that were kind of belittling.  So, as a result, I think he just said—there‘s some old clips of him from his old drinking days, actually, at a wedding party in particular I recall, where I think we saw a little of that persona that he had at times in private with his own staff in the White House. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  Might have listened a little bit more to what the wonks were telling him, as opposed to coming up with clever nicknames for them.  But Bush on Palin.  Does she not now have to do something about him on Facebook, call him evil or something? 

CRAWFORD:  She can start by de-friending him, I guess.  That‘s one of the powerful tools on Facebook.  But you haven‘t gotten on Facebook yet, have you? 


CRAWFORD:  We still need to get you on Twitter as well. 


CRAWFORD:  I think Palin has an opportunity here, in a way, because that right wing movement out there that do feel betrayed by the Bush years are looking for a leader, and someone who would probably put some distance between herself and George Bush.  She‘s always been—heaped praise on him.  But now he‘s opened the door.  So maybe she might want to create a little daylight there and please the right wingers. 

OLBERMANN:  On the McCain campaign, a five-spiral crash.  I think what‘s fascinating with this is so much of what else seems now in retrospect to be fairly solid political judgment—Mr. Bush seems to have sort of subtracted his impact from whatever happened.  Wasn‘t McCain‘s campaign largely a crash because the Bush economy crashed? 

CRAWFORD:  Yes, and there‘s a reason, I think, the McCain folks did not want him to campaign for them, nor any other Republicans.  I wonder how he wrestles with that?  I think we have here another instance of character trait, which was denial.  And sometimes the truth is so awful, you have got to be in denial or you go insane. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, OK.  We‘ll just leave that right there.  I‘m not going to make a choice of those two.  Craig Crawford of CQPolitics.com and also MSNBC.  Always a pleasure.  Thank you, Craig.

CRAWFORD:  Good to be here. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this 2,329th day since that aforementioned previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann.  As William Dozer used to say during sign-off, tune in tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel. 

Now from Father Coughlin to Joe McCarthy to Joseph Farrah, there‘s always been one nut on the far right ready to pounce on a Democratic president, usually using a hapless piece of trivia like Congressman Joe Wilson as a starting point.  To explain that, and with more of President Carter‘s remarks about racism and criticism of President Obama, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.  Good evening, Rachel. 



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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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