October 21, 2009
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED
Guests: Rep. James Clyburn, Margaret Carlson, Nicole Lamoureaux, Richard Wolffe, Richard Lewis
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The rebranding of a public option: "The Hill" reports House Democrats want to call it Medicare Part E, "Medicare for Everybody." Congressman Jim Oberstar's office, "People don't know what a public option is. Medicare is a public option." Even blue dog Mike Ross of Arkansas is in favor of "Medicare for Everybody."
Now, why does this seem so familiar?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OCTOBER 7)
OLBERMANN: The public option is in broad essence, Medicare for everybody. Frame it that way, sell it that way, and suddenly, it doesn't sound like a threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Could it all be in the name? Our guest: House Majority Whip James Clyburn.
The free health clinic tour: You have already donated enough to hold one in Little Rock. Tonight, as donations pass $1.2 million, Nicole Lamoureaux of the National Association of Free Clinics joins us to announce the second one you have made happen.
Meltdown: The 2010 congressional race, the generic Democrat leads the generic Republican 51 to 39; only 19 percent have any confidence that the Republicans in Congress will make the right decisions for the country's future.
And GOP still sticks to what's working so very, very well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: All aboard, the tea party express is back!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe on the latest evidence of Republican implosion.
"Worsts": The White House says they are not truly a news organization. Among the claims: they play loose with the truth, alter the meanings, reverse the facts, they lie.
So, defending against those charges, Steve Doocy lies, claims a magazine ripped the White House for criticizing FOX noise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS HOST: The "Newsweek" column said that it essentially is un-American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: No. "Newsweek" said, "The O'Garbage Factor, FOX News isn't just bad. It's un-American."
And Michele Bachmann brings the crazy again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: We have gangster government-a gangster government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Remember the computer program Republicans said would let the White House collect your e-mail address without your knowledge? Bachmann has just installed on her Web site, the same computer program.
The madness of American politics episode number eleventy billion-with my special guest: Richard Lewis.
All that and more-now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHMANN: The whole thing is ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
Seven words amid the town hall chaos of July and August that captured just how definitively the Democrats had been losing the message war in the health care debate: "Keep your government hands off my Medicare."
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Democrats in one chamber of Congress, at least, finally catching on to the selling point that Medicare is a public option-now looking to rebrand the public option as "Medicare for Everybody." And if it sounds trivial or demeaning, it apparently brought a House blue dog over to the side of the angels, and producing Medicare Part E, the "E" standing for-everybody?
Speaker Pelosi, unveiling to her members a public plan that would reimburse hospitals and providers at Medicare rates. What's more? The speaker making sure that such a robust public option would be cost effective, something the Senate Finance Committee vehemently disputed when it did not put the public option in its bill. The Congressional Budget Office concluding that the House public plan would come in well under $900 billion, which is President Obama's benchmark for any bill and it would be deficit neutral over 10 years.
It certainly didn't originate here, but someone on this newshour having advocated for Medicare for everybody two weeks ago tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The public option is, in broad essence, Medicare for everybody. Frame it that way, sell it that way, and suddenly, it doesn't sound like a threat, turning this seemingly solid insurance which people have now for better or worse into something optional, and turning anything private into everything public.
Once you said Medicare for everybody, there would be just as much to explain. If you're under 65, you'd be paying for it, you wouldn't have to buy it, you won't have to change from whatever you have now. There are just as many caveats.
Still, the intent of all this would e clearer, Medicare for everybody might not be literally true, but instead of terrifying, it would be reassuring and the explanations and the caveats would be listened to and not shouted down as anger and fear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The House also taking the next step in taking away the insurance industry's antitrust exemption, the House Judiciary Committee voting 20 to nine to strip the insurance cartel of that exemption. Three Republicans switched sides to support the measure.
The Senate is hoping to follow suit. Chairman Leahy of the judiciary committee having introduced his own measure there. Majority Leader Reid said to be inclined to incorporate that measure into the broader health bill.
Meanwhile, doctors now facing the 21 percent in their Medicare payments come January, unless Congress steps in. The Senate still deadlocked on that issue, including Democrats amongst themselves. Only 47 senators-all Democrats-voting for a quick approval of a proposal that would have extended current rates through next year for doctors who treat seniors on Medicare. Thirteen Democrats and Independents voting with the Republicans against what's known as a "doctor's fix" because of concerns the bill's $250 billion price tag would add to the overall cost of reforming health care, adding that the majority leader's decision to bring this to a separate vote was disingenuous.
President Obama said to be entering a quiet period until congressional Democrats work things out. In a Democratic fund-raiser last night, the president is commenting on the quirks of his fellow party members.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, sometimes, Democrats can be their own worst enemies.
OBAMA: Democrats are an opinionated bunch.
OBAMA: You know, the other side, they just kind of-sometimes-do what they're told.
OBAMA: Democrats, you all are thinking for yourselves. I like that in you. But it's time for us to make sure that we finish the job here. We are this close.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: We are joined now by the House majority whip, James Clyburn of South Carolina.
Great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, thank you so much for having me, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Speaker Pelosi has said she's close to the 218 votes that she'd need for the public plan tied to Medicare rates, Medicare for Everybody. As the member who counts the votes for the speaker, where do things stand? Do you have enough?
CLYBURN: Well, I think we're very close. We're getting there. That's been my standard response to anybody. We're not there yet, but we're getting there. I feel pretty good about this.
Our caucus is in a very good mood. And I think that the country is
demonstrating by all the surveys I've seen that the so-called "public
option" is, in fact, gaining support. And I think that it all depends on
how you cut it. And now, there are 56 percent in favor, or 65 percent, or
even under some circumstances, 71 percent
So, I think we're in a good place, and I think our caucus is in a very good mood.
OLBERMANN: And if we add in this slight bit of salesmanship of calling this "Medicare for Everybody," to explain to the people who don't just get it on the face of it. Is that-is that-could that conceivably actually make a difference in how this passes if it passes?
CLYBURN: Well, Keith, you and my good friend Jim Oberstar sold me on that branding sometime ago. And I do believe that will be a good way to brand this. Whatever this public option is, it should be called-in my opinion and yours and Jim Oberstar and a few others-Medicare Part E, "E" being for everybody.
I think that's a good way to do it because the American public has been living with this brand for a long time. They understand it. They like it. They accept it. And I think that's all we're trying to do here is expand Medicare.
OLBERMANN: I'm honored to be any part of it, sir.
About the Senate Finance Committee and it argued against and it voted against a public plan, saying it couldn't be done cost effectively. But the CBO says the House plan-your House plan-is cost effective. It's deficit neutral over the decade.
What-what does that tell us about the process that you really do need to run the numbers first to make sure everything scopes out the way it should?
CLYBURN: Yes, we should. I think we want the American people to look in on this. We have been as transparent as anything has been since I've been here. We want our fellow Congress people, on both sides of the aisle, to take a hard look at what we're doing, because we really feel that what we're doing is in the best interests of the American people, and we want to do it in such a way that not just Democrats would be voting for it. But we ought to have Republicans voting for it as well.
And when you are reducing the deficit-as we are doing in this deal
you are doing the whole thing under $900 billion and you're expanding coverage to 97 percent of the American people and you've got this significant expansion in community health centers to take care of whoever may fall through the cracks. That is what the American people would like to have, and that's what we ought to deliver to them in a bipartisan way.
OLBERMANN: So, sum that up for me, Congressman, in light of events of the last 24 hours-once everything's merged, once that final legislation gets agreed to by the House and the Senate, gets to the president's desk, do you believe that "Medicare for Everybody," public plan, will it be part of the health care bill that the president signs into law?
CLYBURN: I do believe that. I think that what we will have is a plan that the president will be pleased with, the American people will be happy to have. And I do believe it will bring tremendous honor to us in the United States Congress and we need all the help we can get right now.
OLBERMANN: If salesmanship works at this point, go for it.
Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, the majority whip-it's always a pleasure and an honor to talk with you, sir. Thank you.
CLYBURN: Thank you so much for having me.
OLBERMANN: For more on the politics of all this, let's turn now to Margaret Carlson, political columnist for "Bloomberg News" and Washington editor for "The Week" magazine.
Margaret, good evening.
MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. Well, I'm blushing for what the congressman.
But back to the.
CARLSON: You should be.
"The Hill" reported today that Mike Ross of Arkansas spoke out in favor of Medicare Part E, "Medicare for Everybody," which is, it's the public option, with a different name on it. But the fact that he can support it presumably because he can sell it to his constituents, should we be reading the fine print of what's actually in the legislation to make sure that it's actually in the legislation, that these are the same things and that we're not trying to sell people different things?
CARLSON: God forbid, we should read 2,000 pages, Keith. Especially in light of your rebranding, working to get some blue dog Democrats on board. And, in fact, you know, the public option was so maligned and mischaracterized for the month of August that, you know, you have to pull it back with something simple like Medicare-not that it's simple-but Medicare Part E, which is-which is really what it is.
I mean, you know, there was a time when insurance was a nonprofit business. You know, the police, education-most of it is a public service. Insurance used to be nonprofit to model something like that because health care is a public service. Then it got to be for-profit.
Now, if this-the bill goes forward that has an individual mandate, which is you have to buy insurance, should the government be driving 40 million new customers into the arms of a flawed system? Should Aetna just get that handed to them for a few concessions like, you know, not hanging denials on preexisting conditions? That's why there needs to be a public option.
OLBERMANN: What does Mr. Ross' support of this suggest to you, in terms of the final outcome here?
CARLSON: That they can-yes, they can. They can do it.
You know, it looked like the House was always much closer than the Senate. If the House moves along and if the public option loses the negative connotations of, you know, death panels and grandma under the bus and socialism, and people understand it for what it is, you don't have to take it, you can have it.
And this other, you know, sort of, you know, falsehood that's out there is that, oh, there are 1,300 insurance plans you can sign up for? Well, some states have one. There's got to be competition for all these new customers-or all we're doing is enriching Aetna and CIGNA and WellPoint.
OLBERMANN: I'm fascinated by the vote, the 20-to-six vote on the
doctor's quick fix where some Democrats went against it, some independents
went against it and some Republicans went for it. Republicans and
Democrats voting on the same side of what is essentially a doctor and to
some degree patient-friendly bill, that would be-what's that word again
bipartisanship, wouldn't it? Serious bipartisanship, though.
CARLSON: Oh, you know, the doc fix always goes through.
CARLSON: The doctors, this time, would like a permanent fix. I don't think the system can take a permanent fix of this. Let's just get it done this one year.
And Republicans are not against it, they are for it. They are just making it difficult saying, "Show us the money. Make it pay as you go." They'll figure this one out.
OLBERMANN: And speaking of making it difficult, the president is supposedly going for this quiet period, he's going to sit on the sidelines. With the greatest respect to the president and his desires, a snowball's chance in hell, is that what he's got of pulling that off in the next few weeks?
CARLSON: Yes. That's just like as you taking a time out, Keith.
You know, he may step back for, you know, a minute or two, but, you know, to pull this thing back, he had to be on the air in September. He was criticized for that. I think it's fine to say he's going to drop back for a minute, but it won't last for long.
OLBERMANN: Margaret Carlson of "Bloomberg News" and "The Week" magazine-as always, great thanks, Margaret.
CARLSON: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We suggested two specific actions in that "Special Comment" two weeks ago. No claim that either was my idea, but besides the rebranding of the public option as "Medicare for Everybody," there was also the idea of funding free health care clinics in key cities in the states represented by the Democratic senators still hedging on the idea of just blocking a Republican filibuster against health care reform.
You, of course, came through like a champion. We've already got one scheduled in Little Rock, Arkansas. Tonight, we will announce the second one and the third one in the books-next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Your generosity and commitment to health care for everybody has done it again and again. Next, Nicole Lamoureaux of free health clinics of America announcing the second and third special clinics funded by you and other COUNTDOWN viewers.
While you spend your money on generosity with political undertones, the Republicans continue their winning strategy: angry, backwards-looking, xenophobic protests wearing old hats. And poll results show it has already cost the party 20 percent of its membership since August.
And accused of not really being a news organization, of faking stuff and lying, of as "Newsweek" described them of being un-American, FOX News responds by lying and claiming the "Newsweek" had called the criticism un-American. Nice.
You're watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC. Nice.
OLBERMANN: What so many ordinary citizens don't get is how politicians-particularly some Democrats-can stare straight into the abyss of a broken health care system and yet not want to do what's necessary to fix it.
But in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: Because of your generosity, there will now be a free health fair in a major city of a state that ranks 49th in health care, and in which that state's Democratic senator is still dragging her feet on "Medicare for Everybody," public option.
And on top of that, we have just found out there will be a third health fair. The Democratic senator from Louisiana, Mary Landrieu, says she might be persuaded to support some form of a public option, this according to NPR. Quoting her, "In some states at the end of the line, they don't believe they're going to have the kind of choice that we think consumers and businesses need. If the costs are still too high, then perhaps a fallback or a trigger, but something that is on a level playing field."
Fallback, triggers, states at the end of the line-Senator Landrieu's state ranks 49th in overall health care, out of the 50 in the United States, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico-this according to the Commonwealth Fund's independent research.
Louisiana ranks 45th for prevention and treatment. It ranks 37th for access to health care. But because of the generous donations to the National Association of Free Clinics, a free health fair is now scheduled for New Orleans on November 14th.
And back to the one in Little Rock, Arkansas, on November 21st, which we previously announced, nearly 17,000 people have donated $1.2 million. And another big announcement on this front, literally just in, there will now be a two-day long free health fair in Kansas City, Missouri, December 9th and 10th. The goal has been to hold these health fairs in key cities of the states represented by Democratic senators who have not yet said whether they support an up or down vote on the public option. We'll explain why Missouri gets into that mix in a moment.
You can get more details on these things or you can give what you can, we appreciate it sincerely, at FreeClinics.us, or at our site, COUNTDOWN.MSNBC.com.
And now the woman who makes all this possible, the executive director of the National Association of Free Clinics, Nicole Lamoureaux.
Good evening, Nicole.
NICOLE LAMOUREAUX, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FREE CLINICS: Hello.
Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: Of course.
The New Orleans free health fair-it has a potential to be really kind of landmark in this process. Do we have more details yet?
LAMOUREAUX: Well, we're excited. We're going there, as you said, November 14th. We'll be at the convention center and we do expect this to be one of the largest health clinics that the National Association of Free Clinics has seen, and we're really looking towards your viewers to come out and help us and be volunteers that day, as well as we will be seeing patients.
So, we will be giving your show some information in the upcoming days as to how they can sign up to be a volunteer, as well as they can sign up to be a patient.
OLBERMANN: Excellent. People like to get involved and then see where their money went and there's no better way to do it than to be there.
Explain the other part, this late announcement about Kansas City, about Missouri rather than the more obvious things in our, sort of, political undertone to this, Montana or Nevada.
LAMOUREAUX: Well, I think that what we want to do is we want to make sure-as we've talked about before-that there are 1,200 free clinics every single day making sure that people have a place to go for their primary medical care. And in some of the states of the Union, we don't have a robust free clinic network.
But in Missouri, we do. We have a very, very strong network of people in Kansas City, we're able to do a two-day fair. And what we're able to do a show that in the middle of the country, in America's heartland, our working Americans have the same problems that we're seeing in our urban areas and into the coast.
It's the opportunity for us to make a huge statement that people need a good quality health care package, and doing this in Missouri gives us the opportunity to show what a safety net system can bring to the table.
OLBERMANN: So, we're sort of viewing this as the national version of the whole process. This is our-applies to every state in the Union kind of thing.
But explain then-you mentioned something that probably is as troubling as we all feel a little bit giddy about the success of this, those states you mentioned where there simply are no free clinics, there is no free clinic network. What do these people do? Is it-are they in the hospital emergency rooms? Are they neglecting their own health care to dangerous levels? What happens to them?
LAMOUREAUX: They are doing all of the things that you spoke about.
When someone has no place to go for their primary care home, they neglect their health care-as we have seen from countless studies. They go to the emergency room, where we know that emergency rooms are flooded. We know that for a fact.
But they also incur a massive amount of debt, because they're trying to take care of themselves and take care of their families, and they don't have a place to go. And free clinics are volunteer health care systems. They're started by people who talk at their churches or at their book clubs.
And we hope that people in those states that don't have a robust free clinic network will start them. But we also want to make sure that when we go in and have a clinic on a day, that it's about the follow-up care that we can give to those patients as well.
OLBERMANN: And quickly, just one final thing for people who might be encountering this whole issue for the first time, give that most stark number again-the percentage of people you see at these free clinics who have jobs.
LAMOUREAUX: Eighty-three percent.
OLBERMANN: Eighty-three percent. And this is the free country we have right now.
Well, thank goodness, we can make so small pushback against it.
Nicole Lamoureaux, the executive director of the National Association of Free Clinics-as always, great thanks and we'll talk to you soon.
LAMOUREAUX: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Ad my thanks to Rich Stockwell (ph), my crack staff who suggested our involvement in this and hit a home run what he did.
One-fifth of all those identifying themselves as Republicans in August of this year are not identifying themselves as Republicans tonight. The poll with the dramatic new evidence that the GOP is cratering-and it's response: more tea parties.
OLBERMANN: "Bests" in a moment. And-so, doesn't that mean it used to be White House approved?
First, on this date in 1775, fate removed the name of Payton Randolph from his deserved place among the heroes of the American independents. He died of a stroke, apoplexy as they called it at that time, after months of failing health. And thus, when the independents he fought for was proclaimed not nine months later, his successor's name was on the declaration, not his, his successor, John Hancock. Payton Randolph was the first president of the Continental Congress.
Let's play "Oddball."
We begin in England, where 10 days from Halloween, Londoners remain vigilant against the heighten threat of witches as tourist attraction, the London Dungeon has set up a foolproof way of identifying people who are involved in the dark arts. A man dressed like the famous 17th century English witch hunter, Hunter Matthew Hopkins, asked prospective witches to sit on the scale, he then places an oversized Bible on the other side. If the subject weighs less than the Bible, she's a witch, and must be born at the stake. Hurrah for science.
Our cameraman said he knew one woman was a witch because she had turned him into a newt. He paused for a moment and added (INAUDIBLE).
Finally, to a minor league soccer match in Spain this past weekend, the player in the circle here is injured, trainers respond to call for a stretcher, only the team doesn't have a stretcher. So, they load the injured player on to a door. Somewhere in the stadium, someone is now literally sitting in a public restroom. The player was doored off the field and appeared to not mind the ride despite the doorknob in his back.
By the way, they have a well-functioning single payer health care system in Spain. Still, we expect to see this video in a Republican attack ad soon in this country.
Poll numbers plummet for those Republicans, so don't fix what ain't broken. They stick with teabag parties and Michele Bachmann. Richard Wolffe on the former, Richard Lewis on the latter. That's ahead, but first, COUNTDOWN's top three best persons in the world.
Dateline, New York, number three, best complete reversal of reality, Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy of Cluster Fox and Friends. Kilmeade first. He quoted a Pew Research Survey today to show how balanced they are. And he said it proved 39 percent of you are Republicans, the viewers, 33 percent are Democrats. That was last year's Pew Research Survey. This year's, released a month ago, tells a different story. "More than three times as many Republicans, 34 percent, as Democrats, 10 percent, say they get most of their national and international news from Fox."
Doocy, whining about the White House correctly saying Fox Noise is not a news organization: "I did do a little Google thing, and the 'Newsweek' column said that is essentially un-American."
Swing and a miss. The "Newsweek" column called Fox News un-American, not the administration's reaction to Fox News. The title was, "The O'Garbage Factor; Fox News Isn't Just Bad, It's Un-American."
Inside it said, "the Australian/British continental model of politicized media that Murdoch has applied at Fox is un-American."
Accused of not being a real news organization, Doocy blatantly lies about what was in a magazine. Way to prove the point.
Dateline London, number two, best let them eat cake-ism, Brian Griffiths, adviser to the Goldman Sachs investment firm. The "Wall Street Journal" reports that bailed-out banks will pay their people more this year than at the height of the bubble in 2007, 140 billion. Mr. Griffith's reaction, tough. "We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all."
To borrow the aprocyphal line from Tonto to the Lone Ranger, who's this we, Kimosabe? You, Mr. Griffiths, you may have to tolerate your corporate protection being dismantled by the people.
Dateline, New York, number one, best-number-I will try that in English. Number one, best accidental truth revelation, Sean Hannity, who has added a new line to the start of his comedy show every night, "free-minded patriotic Americans, this program is not White House-approved."
Of course, without realizing it, Mr. Hannity is thus implying that until January of this year, his allegedly fair and balanced show was White House approved!
OLBERMANN: When anti-government protesters targeted President Obama and other Democratic leaders on April 15, the party took a hit. When town halls raged and the Tea Bag crowd hit Washington, the party staggered further. Now, the Tea Bag guys are on the move again. But in our third story tonight, signs that the party getting hurt by the anti-government Tea Bag people is the Republican party.
This week's "Washington Post"/ABC poll found 51 percent of Americans say that in next year's Congressional vote, faced with the generic Democrat versus the generic Republican, they'll vote for the Democrat; 39 percent will vote for the Republican. Only 19 percent have at least a good amount of confidence in Congressional Republicans to make the right decisions, far lower than Democrats or the president, for that matter.
And the number of Americans calling themselves Republicans has fallen to 20 percent -- 20, the lowest since 1983. A closer look shows that number has fallen from 25 percent just since mid-August. That's not a five percent loss for Republicans. Dropping from 25 percent to 20 percent is a loss of a fifth. Meaning since the height of town hall, Palin, Beck, death panel palooza, one out of five Republicans has stopped being Republican.
Republicans stopped at 25 percent back in March too, nine days after Tea Bag nations. Republicans were down to 21 percent. Naturally, Republicans are trying again. That's right, Tea Party Express II launches this weekend, coming to 38 cities, according to its press release, 37 on their website. Oh, well.
Previous Tea Parties so successful, they now have to hold them in such venues as Wichita's Lawrence Piedmont Stadium (ph) parking lot, Fallon (ph) Nevada's old Walmart's parking lot, a high school auditorium in Tri-Cities in Washington, Bozeman, Montana's Heritage Christian School gymnasium, and in Amarillo, Texas, John Stiff Memorial Park, picnic area number four. Seriously, picnic area number four. Don't interrupt the outing in area number three, please.
A dozen cities have no venue listed at all. According to the tour's Facebook page, "192 people are planning to attend these rallies."
In its own press release, a spokesman says about its new video, the web video promoting the tour, quote, "the tone of the ad is upbeat and positive." The name of the upbeat, positive ad is, "Countdown to Judgment Day."
And here's what upbeat and positive sounds like to these people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you had enough of the out-of-control spending, bailouts, higher taxes, a spiraling national debt and big-government liberalism, then we invite you to join the Tea Party Express rally nearest you. We'll send a message to the politicians. Come election day, we're going to hand you a pink slip and take our country back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Let's bring in upbeat and positive MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, author of "Renegade: The Making of a President," and a senior strategist at public strategies. Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Correct me if I'm mistaken here, but have not Fox and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Michael Steele and Sarah Palin-have they all not sold us on a narrative that it is the Democratic party that's in trouble after all of this?
WOLFFE: Well, they sold the media pretty well on it. And they sold it through the summer, the apparent collapse of Barack Obama's numbers, and the disastrous end of health care as we know it. And more importantly, I think, this has been a sustained narrative over many years, the idea that the country as a whole is essentially Republican in nature, conservative leaning.
If you look-you break down this decline, not just what we have seen over the last year, but since the start of the Bush presidency, the declines have been steepest in what Republicans dismissively say Democrats think of as flyover country. In the Midwest, with anyone who's not a frequent church-goer-and most worrying for Republicans, among young voters.
People who came of age through the Bush years should, according to historical trends, be leaning towards a Republican affiliation. In fact, the Republicans have seen their steepest declines among that younger age group. Which means going forward, they have a very serious problem.
OLBERMANN: The first statistic that I cited here is bad enough, dropping from 25 percent of the country in your party to 20 percent in your party in just two months. But there's another number in there, 19 percent have at least a good amount of confidence that the Republicans will make the right decisions. That was at 29 percent at the start of the year. One out of three Americans who had confidence in the Republican party nine months ago no longer has that confidence. What happened?
WOLFFE: Yes, we're seeing this across a number of different polls. And it used to be at least, in the summer, when Republicans would say, oh, well, everyone in Congress is just the same. Democrats are pulling away in that trust or confidence match up question. And I think it shows the limit of the sort of parliamentarian tactics that Republicans have used.
You can oppose. You can block. Can you threaten filibusters. You can do all of the stunts they do on the Hill, and block and work as a pretty effective opposition party. But come election time, you haven't broadened the base; you frustrated the government party. But you haven't actually done anything to find new voters. That's exactly where they're starting out this next cycle, and it's not good.
OLBERMANN: And the idea-here we go, another set of Tea Parties, which are now getting laughable prepared attendance numbers and locations. When they tried to scare everybody all the time, and in election cycles-and that began to fail in 2004. And then it failed in 2006. They just tried harder to scare everybody all the time for 2008. That really failed.
Is this connected to why they're back to the same things, Tea Parties, paranoia, only meaner? I'm thinking of Ray Goulding's old line, since you don't understand English, I'll raise my voice.
WOLFFE: It worked to a degree. Actually, it worked pretty well in 2002 and 2004. But back in 2002, the parties were at parity in terms of the self-identification in the polls. They were all running around 30 percent in terms of Democrats, Republicans and independents. Those tactics, different era-they just haven't worked in the latter Bush years. You know, they're going to scare people all the way to an independent party.
OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of MSNBC, author of "Renegade," senior strategist with Public Strategies. As always, great thanks.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Richard Lewis on one of those craziest elements going on. When the White House did something a few months ago like this, the Republicans went nuts. Now Michele Bachmann's done the same thing.
And there's no doubt about it now, Lou Dobbs is ripping off Glenn Beck.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, an exclusive George W. Bush as a motivational speaker? She will talk to the woman who selected Mr. Bush to speak at the Monster Truck Rally of motivational speaking conventions. Your cost, 19 dollars to see him.
OLBERMANN: Richard Lewis on the latest Michele Bachmann thing. Look, we're supposedly going to talk about that. But I honestly have very little say in what happens after I say good evening.
That's next, but first time for COUNTDOWN's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.
The bronze tonight to news actress Gretchen Carlson, of Cluster Fox and friends, responding this morning-or yesterday morning, rather, to Fox's report that Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked at a White House morning news gaggle about an off-the-record lunch Monday at the White House, and a report that amongst the guests were Ms. Maddow and myself. "In this reported gaggle was Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, who are opinion people over at MSNBC."
Take two. Gibbs was at the reporter gaggle. He was asked about who was at the lunch. And as to opinion people, Ms. Carlson, opinion is a vital and part of this news hour. When I do it, I call it such. This ain't Beck or Chris Wallace over here. However, there are also more bare boned facts during this hour than there are during a week of Fox News.
The runner-up, Lonesome Roads Beck. An example, this is hilarious. "In the last couple of years, I have been trying to read a different founding father all the time. I'm currently reading about Samuel Adams. Progressives have been fighting for decades to achieve the power to decide for you and erase the Republicans. Now they just want to call it a democracy. They've come a long, long way. Bit by bit, piece by piece, they have been chipping away at your individual freedoms. We call them progressives now, but back in Samuel Adams' day, they used to call them tyrants. A little later, I think they're also called slave owners."
At least a dozen of the founding fathers, 12, maybe 24 of the 56 signatories to the Constitution, they owned slaves. And just the other day, Beck defended the clause in the Constitution, which was later amended, that had made it illegal to banish slavery for 20 years after the Constitution was adopted. The "New York Post" reported today that Mr. Beck has an armed guard, which is very odd because clearly his biggest enemy is himself.
But our winner tonight, Lou Dobbs, proving he is indeed simply ripping off what Beck says on Fox. He puts it on CNN, where he once did a pretty good news show. "Well, another high-ranking White House appointee extolling the virtue of Chinese Leader Mao Tse-Tung. When White House manufacturing czar Ron Bloom was an executive at the United Steelworkers Union, he addressed a 2008 forum on the union role in bankruptcy. White House Communication Director Anita Dunn, last June, also cited Mao as one of the great political philosophers in her life. Well, to hear more of my thoughts on all of the president's czars and their fascination with Mao Tse-Tung, please join me on the radio."
Dunn made a joke about Mao. Bloom quoted Mao in passing. Newt Gingrich quoted Mao. The only person fascinated with Mao is Beck. And now Dobbs is ripping off Beck. Lou Dobbs, today's worst person in the-where are my teeth-world!
OLBERMANN: Wasn't it Michele Bachmann who said she's a foreign correspondent on enemy lines, and "I try to let everyone back here in Minnesota know exactly the nefarious activities that are taking place in Washington?" Congressman Bachmann, I have a nefarious activity for you to report. Our number one story, your government-run website could be spamming people. Our friend, Richard Lewis, joins us presently.
But first, the details on this. Alert the media, or at least Scooby-Doo, it is the case of the data mining Congresswoman, who was eager to get the latest in re-education camp, CO2 is natural byproduct of nature, let's slit our wrists and be blood brother news, otherwise known as the "Bachmann Bulletin." Michele Bachmann's Twitter page tells you how: "if you're interested in receiving mobile updates from me, text MN6 to 467468"-
4793875248743 -- "or visit Bachmann.House.gov, and subscribe. Thanks so much."
Once on her Congressional website, run by the very gangster government she has railed against, just enter your first and last name and an e-mail address. In fact, it doesn't have to be your name or your e-mail address. It could be somebody else's, somebody you really don't like. Well, that seems easy. It also seems very similar to the approach adopted by the White House, asking people to send in disinformation about health care reform, that Bachmann's Republican colleagues branded as an Obama monitoring plan, that the White House eventually shut down after heckling from Fixed News.
One Democratic official tells "Politico," "Bachmann is using official government resources in a way that allows groups to simply add individual e-mails into her government-run database." When this inconvenient truth was pointed out to her office, they maintained they are following the rules. "If individuals decide they do not want to receive these updates, they can always opt out."
And she would have gotten way with it, if it weren't for your meddling kids. Joining me now, as promised, currently in his seventh season as one of the stars of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Richard Lewis.
And Prince, I have to start with a question for you.
RICHARD LEWIS, "CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM": Anything.
OLBERMANN: You're currently on your Misery Loves Company stand-up tour. Where will you be performing next?
LEWIS: I don't know-well, I wind up somewhere in San Antonio and somewhere in Cleveland and the Napa Valley, as a recovering alcoholic in Napa Valley. They'll probably just throw, here's ten grapes. Use your imagination, moron.
I haven't performed in a nightclub in Hollywood in 30 years, but I'm doing this for Lenny Bruce's wonderful daughter Kitty, who is a recovering addict herself. And she's starting a place called Lenny's House-Lenny's Home, I believe. Yes, Lenny's House. I'm going to do a show with four or five great comedians at the Laugh Factory on the 28th of October. It's going to rock the house. Please, come down. And everyone has people in their lives who are affected by excessive alcohol and drugs. So we're going to do a great thing.
And there's a great auction with Lenny's stuff and-
LEWIS: And typewriters and his clothes. So it's all good. But you have to show me Glenn Beck-it's the 28th at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood. But Glenn Beck, this dreg, Bachmann, Schlochmann (ph). What's wrong? Why do we-here's my theory on this. Are you ready, Keith?
OLBERMANN: Yes, yes.
LEWIS: Look, there's about two or three percent, we can't help it, fanatical people. Some of them make their way into Congress. It's scary, OK. But they're so out of touch, they're like aliens. There should be a March on Washington like 97 percent; they could be libertarians, Republicans or independents-
Not Lieberman. This Lieberman, I think he's soulless. You know, he wouldn't shake my hand once. I did a speech, got a standing ovation -- because I work very hard for the Democrats. He gave a speech. And then I had never met him. This is like 15 years ago. And I extended my hand to the senator, and he said-he pulled his hand back, Keith, and he said to me-he says, I know your material.
Well, he wouldn't even shake-he wouldn't shake my hand. And then I realized he had became a turncoat.
OLBERMANN: Maybe-was he a germaphobe? Was he Howie Mandel or something? Was it political?
LEWIS: No. No. Look, I popped out-as Bob Dylan was said, I was born here and I will die here against my will. I'm not a big organized religion guy.
LEWIS: But I'm a spiritual cat. And I know he's very religious as a Jew. Although, I don't think in my lifetime-he was way too Jewish, like if the bombs are coming and he's having-you know, it's Friday night, Mr. President, the bombs are ten minutes away. He couldn't-his dog was named Shalom. His wife was a Dachshund. Too much.
But he didn't shake my hand. He's screwing us up now with the public option. It's unbelievable. I'm really-I've been hearing what everybody is saying, you, Gene and everybody, Wolffe-all these guys are so smart. The thing that's really upsetting a lot of us-and I'm not one of the left wing nut cases-but the truth of the matter is, our president, he inherited-I would have voted for a Muppet after what happened after these eight years. What this guy inherited, it's unbelievable. And he's trying his best to do a lot of things at once. Whether that's wise, I don't know.
But the bottom line is, you know, it's unfair for these people to scare 49 percent of Americans. These are leaders. I don't know how many people are in Congress altogether. But these people are multi-millionaires. They live an amazing life. And they're screwing over 300 million people, and certainly almost 50 million out of health insurance. And it's driving me crazy.
So my initial thought was, we should all walk on Washington, make a march on Washington, but like, you know, the vocal majority of Americans all-you know, really bipartisan. Forget about what the president wants to do. It's a very nice thought. But it ain't working. And I want America to show-the Americans should show up on that-in Washington and say, hey, these three percent nut cases showing up with guns and saying all of this crap on the air and scaring people, that's not what-we don't believe in that.
That's why they only have 20 percent red meat people. Let them do what they want to do. But it's really killing this country. This country is still has, you know, very, very quiet racist qualities, anti-Semitic qualities, but only a few percentage points. And I think we have to prove to the world that this country really is a melting pot. And it's not crazy. And it's-and we have to do something. Am I done?
OLBERMANN: Well, all right. I was going to say, we can do this, but we can't get insurance for it. That's the problem. Richard Lewis-
LEWIS: Oh, Rachel-
OLBERMANN: I have to sign off now. You can catch him on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." The comedy tour Misery Loves Company stops in Hollywood, as you mentioned, on the 28th of this month. The benefit is for Lenny's House. You make a lot of sense.
LEWIS: For Lenny Bruce's daughter.
OLBERMANN: Yes. We mentioned that. To get the point across.
LEWIS: And that's not-the point is I'm a proud-I'm proud to be an American and I think Rachel will prove that right now, that the majority of us know what's right. That's the deal.
OLBERMANN: Amen, brother. Good to talk to you, my friend.
LEWIS: And I'm not going to read her memoir, because it's a coloring book anyway. It's only three pages.
OLBERMANN: The Sarah Palin book? Yes, OK.
LEWIS: That's right.
OLBERMANN: She's going on "Oprah." So that will-I don't know what they will do for the last 45 minutes.
LEWIS: Can't wait to watch it.
OLBERMANN: That's COUNTDOWN for this 2,365th day-he's-since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
Now, with her special guest, the woman who booked George W. Bush to appear alongside Terry Bradshaw and the Reverend Robert Schuller (ph) at a business mega seminar for $19. Ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Keith. Thank you.
And thanks to Richard, too. That was quite an endorsement.
KEITH OLBERMANN, "COUNTDOWN" HOST: That's your motivational speaker right there, by the way. Get them up there and let them go. OK.
MADDOW: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: I owe you a minute.
MADDOW: Fair enough.
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