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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Howard Fineman, Sen. Ron Wyden, Rose Ann Demoro, Margaret Carlson, Eugene Robinson


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

The final betrayal: Joe Lieberman sells out to the insurance companies that own the state of Connecticut.  He says he‘d hate to be the one who kills reform, but, quote, “I will try to stop the passage of the bill.”

He has at least three times voted against filibusters, even though Lieberman (ph) voted against those bills, even though aides insist he will vote with the Democrats to allow health care reform to be debated, Lieberman appears ready to join the Republican filibuster against the public option.


SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER:  I‘m sure he‘ll have some interesting things to do in the way of an amendment.  But Joe Lieberman is the least of Harry Reid‘s problems.


OLBERMANN:  The senator from Aetna, Joe Lieberman, putting the “Con” back in Connecticut—with Howard Fineman and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.

The Republicans‘ answer: Congressman Brown of Georgia, a physician submits a bill to privatize Medicare and bring back leeches.

Obama‘s pie in the sky about saving a few billion by reducing waste in health care.  He‘s totally wrong.  The independent research study, our health care system in fraud and mistakes and inefficiency wastes at least $505 billion a year.

The Republican civil war, the battle for Lake Ontario.  GOP candidate versus conservative candidates.  And Newt Gingrich is offended by all the “Carpetbaggers.”


NEWT GINGRICH ®, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER:  So, I say to my many conservative friends who suddenly decided that whether they‘re from Minnesota or Alaska or Texas, they know more than the Upstate New York Republicans?  I don‘t think so.


OLBERMANN:  So, Newt, you‘re what—from beautiful downtown Calcium, New York?

The truth is out there.  Michele Bachmann used to be the nanny for—

Gretchen Carlson?

And the shocking revelation that President George W. Bush was such a fan of “24” that he wants to summon one of its stars to come see him to ask, “When are you coming out of the coma?”  I‘m just relieved to know Mr.  Bush didn‘t think “24” was a documentary.

All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT:  Fool me—you can‘t get fooled again.



OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

We are days now from history in the making.  Both the House and Senate expected next week or so to begin debate on sweeping revolutionary changes to the entire U.S. health care system, changes voters endorse in poll after poll, including the one last election day.

But in our fifth story tonight: One man today said he will stand, yell “Stop,” and thwart history in the making.  That man, former Democrat, Connecticut senator, Joseph Lieberman, independent—from the voters anyway.  Not so much Travelers Insurance or Aetna or CIGNA or the Hartford or the other members of the insurance cartel headquartered in Mr.  Lieberman‘s state.

Lieberman announcing today he will break ranks with Democrats and give Republicans the one extra vote they need to prevent an up-or-down vote on a health care plan that includes the public option of a government-run insurance alternative.

Here in essence is what Lieberman said—just to begin debate on health care in the full Senate, Democrats need 60 votes.  Lieberman said he will back Democrats there and allow debate to begin.  When Democrats try to end the debate however and hold the actual vote, Republicans will filibuster—the procedural maneuver essentially prolonging debate indefinitely, stalling the vote into infinity.

And on that vote, Lieberman says, he will side with the Republicans, denying Americans an up-or-down vote on any health care plan that includes the public option, even though his home state has a public option which covers about 10,000 of its citizens that was introduced by its Republican governor.  All this despite the fact Lieberman was essentially forgiven by Democrats and allowed to serve as a committee chairman even after he tried to elect John McCain as president.

Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was asked about the defection by Lieberman, and suggested that after the debate starts, the bill may change enough that Lieberman‘s position on it would change as well.


REID:  I have the greatest confidence in Joe Lieberman‘s ability as a legislator.  And he will work with us when this gets on the floor and I‘m sure he‘ll have some interesting things to do in the way of amendments.  But Joe Lieberman is the least of Harry Reid‘s problems.


OLBERMANN:  Lieberman today explained his opposition by saying the public option will be too costly.  In fact, the public option would be paid for by premiums.  According to the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, it could save taxpayers $100 billion -- $100 billion.

Two months ago, Lieberman offered different rationales, including the public option‘s supposed unpopularity with the public.  Except a new NBC News Poll today finding that 73 percent of Americans think people should have a choice of a public option.  In his own state, 68 percent favor the public option, including 83 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents.

And all those Republicans have already one.  But his own state has other constituents, bigger people, if you will—Connecticut is insurance company “ground zero.”  Lieberman has gotten more than $1 million from the last five years from the health insurance and medical sectors, $1 million that we know of.

And if Senator Lieberman hopes to fend off Republican attacks in his 2012 campaign by supporting their filibuster, those Republicans today had another message, a message essentially admitting defeat, admitting Republicans cannot beat the public option in an up-or-down, so they will attack anyone who even allows it to be debated upon, let alone voted upon.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, MINORITY LEADER:  At some point, the majority leader will try to move to proceed to the bill.  And I think it‘s appropriate to make the point at the outset that a vote on cloture on a motion to proceed to this bill will be treated as a vote on the merits of the bill.  I think we all remember the Kerry campaign, and we all remember the difficulty of explaining to our constituents why we were for something before we were against it.


OLBERMANN:  We‘re joined now live from Washington by Senator Ron Wyden, the Democrat of Oregon.

Senator, thanks again for your time tonight.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON:  Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN:  How many more times can Senator Lieberman get away with spitting in the party‘s—your party‘s face before Democrats say no more?

WYDEN:  Keith, first of all, there is a long, long tradition of United States senators saying no until about five minutes before they say yes.  As Harry Reid indicated, this debate is just starting.  What we‘re going to do is focus on an issues that you and I feel strongly about, that‘s holding insurance companies accountable and making sure that all Americans have a chance to be a part of a more competitive system that allows them to get a good break on their insurance.  And that‘s what we‘re going to zero in on the days ahead.

OLBERMANN:  The implication in what both Mr. Lieberman and to a greater degree, Leader Reid, said was that the bill might change in direction more favorable to Mr. Lieberman.  Do you think that‘s true and do you think that‘s a good idea?

WYDEN:  I want to make a change in the direction to something more favorable to the consumer.  I think Harry Reid did the right thing yesterday.  But I continue to be concerned about the public option, for example, being set up to fail.  It‘s going to be made up of a lot of sick people, for example.  It‘s going to be a risky risk pool.  We‘re not going to have all Americans in it.  Some people are going to opt out.

And I just want to make sure that we have a chance to ensure there‘s real competition in the health care system, not just have 10 percent of the people try to hold everybody in the insurance industry accountable.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  So, what are you going to do to push forward in the other direction?

WYDEN:  I‘m going to keep working with Senator Reid.  I‘ve already indicated to him that I‘m very concerned about the prospect of a risk pool made up of mostly sicker people, folks who are unemployed, uninsured, underinsured.  These are folks, Keith, who won‘t—have had check ups.  They want (ph) to have preventive care, want (ph) to have good chronic care.

It is a risk pool as I look at it today that no commercial insurer would possibly accept.  What we‘ve got to do is have bigger risk pools.  We‘ve got to have a healthier mix of individuals in the pool.  That‘s the way I‘m going to be pushing.  And in the days ahead, the focus ought to be at the grassroots level on getting a better deal for the consumer holding the insurance companies accountable.

OLBERMANN:  Senator, what do you make of the minority leader‘s threat?  Senator McConnell is now representing this party that spent most of the early years of this century demanding up-or-down votes as if each one were the end of the world if they didn‘t get it?

WYDEN:  My sense is that everybody is going to have to be able to describe what they‘re for, not what they‘re against.  And I think a lot of Republican, for example, when I go to the floor of the United States Senate and say everybody ought to have choices like members of Congress, I think that‘s going to be pretty hard to simply say no to.

What we‘re going to focus on is the fact that every member of the United States Congress in Washington, D.C. has access to more than a dozen choices.  The way the bill is written today, if your insurance company is abusing you, if they‘re ripping you off, they won‘t even pay a claim for a covered service, they get no choice at all.

So, I‘m going to the floor and make sure that all Americans will get public choices and private choices like members of Congress.

OLBERMANN:  Last question.  Do you think the president is still staying out of this?  If so, why?  Is it appropriate given the amount of pressure he might be able to exert upon or chips he might be able to play with Senator Lieberman?

WYDEN:  The president is not at all removed from this debate.  He and his team are very involved.  He‘s picking his spots.  I‘ve talked to him a number of times in the last few days.

What we‘re all going to do is put the focus where it ought to be, that‘s holding the insurance companies accountable.  I don‘t want to have, for example, a public option that is an insurance lobbyists‘ dream that‘s set up to fail.  What we‘re going to do is keep pushing.  The president will help as well for the biggest possible risk pool so we can hold the insurance companies accountable and a healthy mix of Americans who can get at that public option and the private choices.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  Good luck with that.

WYDEN:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, as always, thanks for your time tonight.

WYDEN:  Thank you.


Let‘s turn now to MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent and political columnist for “Newsweek” magazine.

Howard, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  Lieberman was—I think it‘s safe to say—dead in his water with his own voters before today.  They overwhelmingly support the public option.  The Republican governor of Connecticut supports the public option and introduced one.  And now, he goes public saying he will block a vote on the public option?

I don‘t know enough about politics to really say I know everything here, but it seems to me, this is—this is a little akin to saying, “I don‘t care if you elect me, again.”

FINEMAN:  Well, he‘s not just under water; he‘s dived to the bottom of the river.


FINEMAN:  But he figures he can bob to the surface again by 2014. 

Don‘t forget, he‘s not a Democrat.  That‘s number one.

Number two, as you pointed out, the insurance industry is one of the most powerful business groups in his state.  He‘s taken a lot of money from them.  They hate the public option in its purer form or any form for that matter.  And I think he‘s open to negotiate.

And what the Democrats on the Hill tell me and what Harry Reid‘s office tells me is that they‘re going to try to deal with Lieberman.  They‘re going to have to make deals with half a dozen or more senators.  But Lieberman has pushed himself to the front of the line to make sure that his people back in Connecticut get taken care of.

OLBERMANN:  Well, all right.  His corporations back in Connecticut get taken care of.


OLBERMANN:  What does—all right, what does he want, a pony?


FINEMAN:  Well, what he wants is to—is to water the public option down until it‘s completely insignificant.  Make it opt-out—make it opt-in, not opt-out.


FINEMAN:  Make it a trigger that, you know, you can‘t pull—you know, on and on and on and on.  And then, maybe—maybe—in his good graces, he might vote for the final version.  Anyway, that‘s Harry Reid‘s hope.

OLBERMANN:  Do you agree with Senator Wyden, that the president is not being hands off here or that he‘s picking his spots or is he—is he just letting the—still letting Congress take the lead on this in terms of it‘s relevance to the elections next year?  Or what‘s going on at work here?

FINEMAN:  Well, he‘s making calls behind the scene.  Rahm Emanuel and others, his chief of staff and others are minute-by minute in consultation.  Sometimes, face to face of, on the phone or email with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and the others.

But the president is being reluctant to come out forcefully for a specific final menu in his plan.  I mean, all these polls about who supports what are hard to interpret, other than the one that says—when you—when you ask it straight, do you think there should be a public option on the menu?  There‘s strong support for that.  There‘s strong support for other individual pieces.

But the president is unwilling to commit to a specific menu and say, “This is my exact final version of the plan.”  His whole strategy is not to do that until the very last minute.  Why?  Because I think he doesn‘t want to fail, because I think he wants it to be the deal that he seals when he actually emerges like the cuckoo clock here at the end.

The risk—the risk with that is by the time he comes out there and, you know, announces the hour, it may be too late.

OLBERMANN:  Senator Wyden said you can‘t be forever just the party of no on this particular issue.  You have to stand for something.  And we‘ll get to the Paul Brown genius alternative to Democratic health care reform which is to destroy Medicare later on in the show.  But were we not supposed to have an alternative bill from the Republican leadership by now?  What could be the hold up?

FINEMAN:  Oh, my gosh.  The hold up is they were never going to offer one.  They were never going to offer one.  I‘ve never taken it seriously.  I cover the Hill from left to right and right to left and back.

Their strategy all along has been embodied by Mitch McConnell, who is a master at playing the parliamentary game and the political one, frankly.  He‘s a very tough customer politically and they‘re already gearing up their flip-flop ads just as you heard him talk about, and he‘s saying, “Go ahead, make my day.”  And it‘s up to the president to call Mitch McConnell on it.

If the president can‘t defeat Mitch McConnell in terms of arguing the merits of a final plan of some kind, then the Democrats deserve to lose next time around because McConnell isn‘t going to offer anything.  They‘re going to try to prevent the bill from coming up, to begin with.

Harry Reid thinks he‘s going to get the bill up on the floor—maybe.  But, even that isn‘t a certainty.  If he gets it up there, the Republicans will delay, delay, delay, delay—they say it‘s for ideological reasons, maybe so.  But it‘s really hardball politics they are playing looking forward to next year.

OLBERMANN:  Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” and MSNBC—great thanks.

FINEMAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The irony is that the political toadyism and Mr.  Lieberman‘s whoring himself out to the members of the insurance cartel in his own state has obscured a remarkable development in the goal to pay for the health care upon which the vast majority of Americans insist.

That crazy Obama idea that most of the cost can be provided by eliminating perhaps $450 billion in waste from the health care system—an independent study shows tonight that implying that impossible-to-believe number, the president was wildly conservative.


OLBERMANN:  The staggering truth: The amount of money wasted in the health care system due to fraud, wildly overused tests and drugs, defensive medicine, as much as $800 billion per year.  In short, when the president said cutting out ways to pay for most of reform, he was underestimating it.

Later, George W. Bush, motivational speaker and his topic, dog poop. 

Finally, something he is an expert on.

You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN:  President Obama has often said that eliminating waste and inefficiency in the health care system could pay for most of any health care reform package.  Critics have howled that there could not possibly be that much waste.

And in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: A remarkable independent study not only supports Obama but proves he may have vastly underestimated just how much waste there is.

The U.S. health care system wastes at least $505 billion, perhaps $850 billion every year.  This is according to an independent study by Thompson-Reuters, the international news and information organization with expertise in health care and science.

The vice president of health care analysis for that group saying, quote, “That‘s one-third of the nation‘s health care bill.  The good news is that by attacking waste, we can reduce health care cost without adversely affecting the quality of care or access to care.”

Other findings from the study, 37 percent of waste, $200 billion to $300 billion a year from comes from unnecessary care, like the overused of antibiotics or lab tests to protect, in part, against malpractice exposure;

22 percent up of health care waste, up to $200 billion, is created by fraud; 18 percent of it comes from administrative inefficiency and redundant paper; 11 percent of wastes derives from medical mistakes; and preventable conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes cost $30 billion to $50 billion a year by themselves, that‘s about 6 percent to 10 percent of health care wastes.

All of this explaining why the U.S. spends far more per person on health care than any other industrialized nation.  For example, the average U.S. hospital spends a quarter of its budget—a quarter—on billing and administration.  And it‘s about twice as much as Canadian hospitals do.

Let‘s turn to the executive director of the California Nurses Association and the National Nurses Organizing Committee, Rose Ann Demoro.

Thanks for your time tonight.


Thank you for having me on.

OLBERMANN:   So, that‘s how much we‘re wasting.  How much can we realistically stop wasting and feedback into paying for reform?

DEMORO:  Well, hopefully, we could I mean, cut that figure by 80 percent or so.  I mean, the biggest perpetrator of fraud is the system we have.  It‘s a market-based health care system that you talked about continuously.  I mean, the fraud is, you know, the insurers basically taking an illegitimate cut.  They are a fraud in the system and it‘s something that‘s not being discussed, their role.

I mean, ultimately, what are we paying for when we‘re paying for insurance?  Basically, a middleman.  We like to say that—they take 30 percent off the top of every one of our dollars.  This is our hard-earned dollars.  Even the mafia doesn‘t take that much off the top.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, Vegas is limited legally to 18 percent profit for a dollar.

DEMORO:  It‘s outrageous.

OLBERMANN:  But one figure out of this study really, really jumps out, that 37 percent of waste comes from unnecessary treatment.  This is listed as—well, this is the explanation for avoiding medical malpractice, but it‘s not just that.  I mean, doctors I‘ve talked to said they often go for tests that they don‘t really need because it‘s a way of getting people in and out of their office faster.  And one of the few ways they have of increasing their revenues is to see more patients.

DEMORO:  Absolutely.

OLBERMANN:  If you have a half hour conversation or a test that is done somewhere else or a preliminary antibiotic that is done somewhere else, that saves them a half hour and doubles their, you know, the people who used the turns.  It‘s not just a question of tort reform, correct?

DEMORO:  Well, look, I mean, let‘s talk about what is tort reform.  I mean, that‘s basically red meat for the right wing to say that people shouldn‘t have the right to sue when something harms the patient.  And so, the lawyers are vilified while, in fact, scamming the system by providers and insurers are there‘s fraud.  There‘s so much—I mean, it‘s outrageous.

You know, part of what you talked about, part of the study is the fact that, you know, a Medicare fraud, right?  Well, I mean, what is that? 

That‘s insurers and providers scamming the system with all—to basically

make more money.  There are so many profit centers in this industry

The insurance industry made—you know, you‘re talking about fraud of $80 billion.  The insurance—the pharmaceutical company made $77 billion in profit last year -- $77 billion.

I mean, ultimately—you know, I look at individuals and the nurses every day, every shift, every hour, look at the patients in their hospitals.  Those who didn‘t get the care that they need, 45 million uninsured, that‘s fraud.  Forty-four thousand people who die every year from lack of care, that‘s fraud.

I mean—you know, how we define this.  And we really wish the Obama administration would actually step up to the plate.  The problem here is the money in politics.  This industry, health care, spends—is the number one spender in lobbying.

I mean, ultimately, if you want a good job, go to work for the health care industry and lobbying on the Hill because that‘s where—that‘s where this—what‘s where this begins and ends.  And so, we appreciate your show because you‘re always looking for the solution.  If we could take our co-pays, our premiums, all of that and just buy our own politicians, because that‘s what it is.  We are paying for it.


DEMORO:  We are paying for it.  We are paying through our premiums and then our studies have showed that almost one out of five are over—one out of every five patients is denied care.  So, we are paying these premiums, we‘re denied care, then they‘re taking our premium dollars, not giving us the care, and then pocketing, sending it to Washington, D.C. to buy off our politicians.

And, you know, every politician in that building, every politician in Congress, knows the solution.  Medicare for all, right?  Obviously, the most efficient, the cost effective, the highest quality.  But that‘s not where they want to go.  They want to vilify the public option.  Well, it‘s the private option that we have a problem with and nurses have a problem with the private option because every day and every shift, patients are dying unnecessarily.

OLBERMANN:  And when you mention fraud, of course, there‘s the fraud of every cancelled policy and every suddenly established pre-existing condition.

Rose Ann Demoro, the executive director of the California Nurses Association.

DEMORO:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  . great thanks to you.

He did not call her out by name, but when Newt Gingrich chided a Republican from Alaska for intervening in the civil war between a GOP candidate and a conservative party candidate in Upstate New York, I don‘t think he meant Ted Stevens, or one of the Murkowskis.  The Republicans meet their waterloo, although Waterloo, New York, is not actually in the New York 23rd congressional district.


OLBERMANN:  Bests in a moment.  And my goodness, we elected Gretchen Carlson‘s nanny to Congress.

First, on this date in 1939, John Cleese was born.  Our guest here shares a birthday with Nixonite H.R. Halderman, gangster John Gotti, and the uniquely named NASCAR driver Dick Trickle.  He does.  Happy Birthday, lads!

Let‘s play “Oddball.”

We begin in Hunan Province in China.  And these high wire artists are practicing their craft while scaring the crap out of everybody who watches.  The tight rope is secured between the two cliffs and then the high wire magic begins.

How is he doing?  I don‘t want to look.  Oh, one guy balances blindfolded.  The other one hangs up the wire by his feet.  The teachers lays down and calls the agent before reaching the end of the—show off.

What keep as man like this focused you wonder?  Probably the desire not to plummet 1,600 screaming feet to his death—just a guess.

And they do it in Australia, too.  Good night, Bruce.  How are you, Bruce?  Hot enough to boil a monkey‘s bum in here, your majesty.  You‘d like some orange juice with your fear of heights?  You come to the right place. It‘s Breakfast al Fresco, as thousands of locals toss another shrimp on the barb-b, while dining on the Sidney Harbor Bridge.  The bridge was closed to traffic, we think, and covered with astroturf to allow picnickers to better appreciate their meal.

Most enjoyed the dining experience.  Zagat gave it a ten.  With the view, the amenities got zero and that guy passed out. 

The Republican civil war continues in the New York 23rd Congressional District.  Newt Gingrich calls out Sarah Palin, if not by name, then at least by geography. 

That‘s ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world. 

Dateline the Supreme Court, number three, best indication that one of our justices‘ brains may be missing.  Justice Antonin Scalia told an audience at the University of Arizona Law School being an originalist, he rejects virtually everything not written down in the Constitution by the framers.  The evolutionists, he says, use an approach that‘s equivalent to close your eyes and decide see what you think is a good idea.  “Kings can do good stuff the Democratic society could never do,” he added.  “Hitler developed a wonderful automobile.  What does that prove?” 

That you‘re the worst Supreme Court judge ever?  I don‘t know.  You‘re the one who brought up Hitler. 

Dateline New York, number two, best meltdown, Lou Dobbs, after he got called out for being the bigot that he is by Geraldo Rivera.  “I‘m just still fuming over something that Geraldo Rivera said.  This guy‘s nothing but a fiction of his own imagination, and a figment of whatever he sees in the mirror.  But I had to tell you, the guy is so annoying.  I should not let people get to me like this.  But, you know, I‘m starting to get short of patience with them.  Geraldo Rivera wouldn‘t know a fact if it hit him in the rear end.  That would probably be an appropriate place if you wanted him to absorb the information.  This is the kind of vile stupidity and ignorance he spews everywhere he goes.” 

With that kind of clear and compelling, fact based argument, it‘s a mystery why CNN sank to last place.  Isn‘t it? 

Dateline, Anoka (ph), Minnesota, number one, best revelation, George Will, in a profile of Michele Bachmann, writes, “when she was a teenager in Anoka, Minnesota, she was a nanny for a young girl named Gretchen Carlson.  Today, Carlson, a Stanford honors graduate, who studied at Oxford, is a host of “Fox and Friends,” the morning show on, wouldn‘t you know, Fox News Channel.  See how far ahead the vast right wing conspiracy plans?” 

Yes, George, but not far enough to make sure Carlson‘s nanny would grow up to have some credibility of some sort.  And certainly not far enough to make sure you didn‘t waste your considerable skills defending the likes of Gretchen Carlson, Michele Bachmann and Fox News.


OLBERMANN:  Literally from Mexico to Philadelphia, all the political talk is about the special election in the 23rd Congressional district of New York State.  That would be Mexico, New York and Philadelphia, New York, both communities in the 23rd district, where, it turns out, only some politics is local. 

The conservative wing of the GOP, the ones who favor like control and local authority in government, do not like the local party‘s pick for Congress.  They, instead, support a candidate who appears to know not very much about the local issues. 

Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, the GOP battle for hearts and minds in upstate New York, as the Republican party moves its civil war up north to the three-way special election causing the GOP to implode, at least in small measure. 

There‘s Democrat Bill Owens.  A Democrat has not won in the northern part of this district since the 19th century, but it seems like Mr. Owens has a pretty fair shot at ending that losing streak because of GOP in-fighting. 

Enter the Republican, Dee-Dee Scozzafava.  Scozzafava endorsed by top Congressional Republicans, and the NRA, by the way, is apparently still not Republican enough for concerned up state New York residents like Alaska‘s Sarah Palin and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. 

I mean, New York up state is pretty big, but this is ridiculous.  They support conservative candidate Doug Hoffman, who, incidentally, does not currently live in the district he hopes to represent.  Mr. Hoffman has also collected endorsements from Rick “Man on Dog” Santorum, and failed presidential candidate Fred Thompson. 

However, a recent meeting with the editorial board at the newspaper “The Watertown Daily Times” revealing that Hoffman, quote, was unable to articulate clear positions on a number of matters specific to northern New Yorkers.” 

The “Daily Times” reports that Hoffman would only speak in general terms, and could not answer questions about local projects and the district‘s economic concerns.  “A flustered and ill at ease Mr. Hoffman objected to the heated questioning, saying he should have been provided a list of questions he might be asked.  He was, if he had taken the time to read the Thursday morning Times editorial raising the very same questions.” 

To Mr. Hoffman‘s rescue, former House Majority Leader, and current lead Tea Baggist, Dick Armey.  Armey, perhaps scratching his head over why constituents would be more interested in, say, the St. Lawrence Seaway than perhaps socialism, dismissed the region‘s concerns as parochial, and told the “Daily Times” that Mr. Hoffman‘s lack of knowledge would not determine the outcome of the election. 

Bring in Scozzafava supporter and apparent Adirondack region expert Newt Gingrich, who last night called out his possible 2012 rivals for going rogue on their own party. 


NEWT GINGRICH, FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER:  So I say to my many conservative friends, who have decided that whether they‘re from Minnesota, Alaska or Texas, they know more than the up state New York Republicans?  I don‘t think so.  I don‘t think it‘s a good precedent.  I think if this third party candidate takes away just enough votes to elect a Democrat, then we will have strengthened Nancy Pelosi by the divisiveness.  We will not have strengthened the conservative movement. 


OLBERMANN:  Time now to be joined here by Margaret Carlson, political columnist for “Bloomberg News” and Washington editor for “The Week Magazine.”  Good evening. 


OLBERMANN:  I‘m fascinated by Dick Armey‘s use of that one adjective. 

The residents local concerns are parochial.  Aren‘t they supposed to be? 

CARLSON:  Yes.  If I‘m allowed to be parochial, it‘s nice to be on set with you in New York state. 

OLBERMANN:  Thank you very much. 

CARLSON:  Nobody—I bet no one in these events in New York really cares what Doug Hoffman thinks about Afghanistan.  Maybe not even socialism, as you say.  You know, the lower—the more local the office, the more you need to know, actually.  A presidential candidate, you know, they are talking in broad strokes. 


CARLSON:  If you are running for mayor or Congressional seat, New York 23, they want to know a lot about what you are going to do about milk price supports, and what‘s going on in the St. Lawrence Seaway, and what‘s going on down the street at the VFW.  That‘s what they want to know. 

So usually the guys like Newt Gingrich are saying, that‘s exactly what you should be doing. 

OLBERMANN:  I remember once asking Lynn Swann, right after he launched his campaign for the governor of Pennsylvania, which we have all forgotten about, something about some headline out of the Philadelphia paper.  I literally just pulled it off the website about dredging the Scoocle (ph).  He thought I was—I had made up a word.  He didn‘t know what it was.  He was like, OK, they‘re not going to win that fight.

CARLSON:  In fairness, he is a football player. 

OLBERMANN:  Some football players have made decent politicians. 

CARLSON:  He might have taken a few bad hits. 

OLBERMANN:  He was very good at avoiding that.  Gingrich and Palin and Pawlenty complaining this point, that more local control in government is not really being represented by this idea that you would go against the local Republican party.  Are we getting a sense that for certain people, like Governor Palin, it isn‘t really an issue of local control; it‘s just a brand name that sounds good? 

CARLSON:  It is just what sounds good.  Actually, Newt Gingrich used to not feel that way. 


CARLSON:  This is Sarah Palin‘s first real foray.  Remember, she quit being governor so she could do this sort of thing.  She has been busy writing the book.  So finally she is out.  She does this from the comfort of her laptop and her Facebook account.  However, she inserted herself.  While she may not have a big army, she has a fervent one.  It has completely up ended the race.  In one poll, Doug Hoffman is actually ahead.  She has her Greek chorus. 


CARLSON:  With Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh now picking.  I don‘t think anybody else was paying much attention to this race until Sarah spoke.

OLBERMANN:  Right.  These broadcasts started came out of Ice Station Zebra, saying, let‘s get this.  It‘s not a proxy fight.  It is not a who is leading—which way the Republican party is going to go philosophically.  This is I‘m Sarah Palin and my influence should be bigger than Newt Gingrich.  Isn‘t it?

CARLSON:  Well, now, it did turn into a fight between the two of them.  Who knew that this week—maybe Sarah did—that Newt Gingrich was going to toy with the idea of running for president?  Actually, he‘s taking the bigger picture.  We are all Republicans.  I never thought I would hear Newt Gingrich arguing for a bigger tent.  Remember, he was not the guy who wanted anything to do with the bigger tent when he was king of the hill. 

OLBERMANN:  Is there enough time left before the election for him to actually—he didn‘t call her out by name.  He called her out by state.  As I said, I don‘t think he was talking about one of the Murkowskis.  Is there enough time left that the knife comes unsheathed and he actually takes down Sarah Palin? 

CARLSON:  I suspect you hope so, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  I‘m just asking. 

CARLSON:  It would be good for the show. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, they seem to be doing a lot of things that are good for the show.  I‘m not trying to tell them their business. 

CARLSON:  You are not wanting for topics.  Remember the conservative crack up?  We have had several.  One was after Goldwater lost by 22 points.  He won his own state and a few in the deep south.  A lot of it played out in the midterm elections.  Had it not been for the Democrats screwing up, I doubt that in ‘70, Nixon would have won. 

However, as this plays out, we will see the knife fight between Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin.  They are now, as of this week, two distinct wings of the Republican party. 

OLBERMANN:  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, for the rest of the current presidential administration.  Margaret Carlson of “Bloomberg News” and “The Week Magazine,” it‘s good to see you in person.

CARLSON:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Thanks for coming in. 

George W. Bush, motivational speaker, revealing the inspiration he drew, and you can draw, from dog poop. 

Speaking of which, the Republican solution to too much health care reform, one congressman‘s bill to privatize health care.  Worst persons ahead. 

When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, Senator Lieberman sells out his constituents to side with the insurance companies who bought and paid for him.  Jane Hamsher of is Rachel‘s special guest.


OLBERMANN:  George W. Bush was enough of a fan of “24” to have asked one of the stars if his character would ever come out of his coma.  The guy could have asked it back, couldn‘t he?  Gene Robinson on that next.

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

The bronze to Rupert Murdoch‘s “New York Post.”  In reporting the cable news ratings for October, they either made a lazy error of fact or they deliberately lied.  In noting that CNN had slipped among viewers 25 to 54, and that our rerun was now beating Anderson Cooper‘s live—Anderson Cooper, right?  Not—Anderson Cooper‘s live newscast at 10:00 p.m.  The Post created a new ratings statistic.  “The combined audience for CNN and Headline News in prime time among 25 to 54 year olds would equal 421,000, leap frogging MSNBC into second place.” 

Well, by the same token, if you combined MSNBC‘s ratings with that of NBC News, the combined number would be an elephant and Bill O‘Reilly would be a pimple.  But you can‘t do that.

Also in the article, “MSNBC was third, with an average nightly audience of 250,000.”  In fact, we are second, as the Post pointed out elsewhere in its own article. 

A lot is made, and rightly so, that the entire Murdoch organization, from top to bottom, is corrupted by its duties as a home for political leg breakers.  But over looked is how often Murdoch entities like Fox or the “New York Post” are wildly, sloppily, un-journalistically, just plain, old, factually wrong. 

The runner up, writer David Limbaugh, brother of radio yacker “Orally Taitz” Limbaugh.  Writing for that “Obama‘s war on Fox is liberalism‘s war on dissent.  Can you imagine the outrage that would have ensued had former President George W. Bush declared off limits those media outlets he thought, correctly, treated him unfairly?” 

OK, since this Limbaugh was apparently not in the country from 2001 to the beginning of this year, let me read him the list again.  The Bush administration cut off MSNBC, threatened NBC, had its political party threaten to back out of a Tom Brokaw moderated debate if I was not removed as news anchor.  It paid columnists to write pro-Bush columns.  It planted questions, and a fake reporter in its news conferences, and it threatened to prosecutor reporters from the “New York Times” for revealing so-called secrets that were available on a government contractor‘s website.

The Obama administration has done nothing of the sort.  This is harrowing.  Orally Taitz Limbaugh is the smart Limbaugh. 

But our winner is Dr. Paul Broun, Congressman from Georgia.  While declaring that health reform as proposed by the Democrats will kill people and destroy freedoms, he‘s introduced his own reform bill that would privatize Medicare.  Hand it over to the insurance cartel. 

On the lighter side of this, perhaps the moron who shouted at Congressman Bob Inglis said it best, keep your government hands off my Medicare. 

On the darker side, Congressman Broun, you are supposed to be a doctor, not a street walker for the insurance cartel.  I don‘t think you should resign your seat.  I think you should turn in your license.  Congressman Paul Doctor Broun of Georgia, today‘s worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN:  Sixty nine million four hundred fifty six thousand eight hundred ninety seven people voted for the Democratic candidate in 2008.  So, George W. Bush is motivational.  Our number story, back on the old political merry go round.  Last night, the former president motivated a much smaller crowd.

Today, we learn the torture president was tortured over a plot twist in a TV show about torture.  No media allowed at the Ft. Worth Convention Center Arena during yesterday‘s Get Motivated business seminar.  More than 10,000 people were jazzed up by the likes of Colin Powell, Terry Bradshaw, Rudy Giuliani, and Zig Ziegler.  The former president motivated the crowd with greatest hits.  He retold the anecdote about his new job as Barney‘s pooper scooper in chief.  He recycled his story about the first decision in office, designing the Oval Office rug, which he delegated to his wife. 

Then the ex-president got heavy on the crowd, quote, “I don‘t see how you can be president without relying on the almighty.” 

Dick Cheney?  “I can tell you that one of the most amazing surprises of the presidency was the fact that people‘s prayers affected me.  I can‘t prove it to you.  But I can tell you some days were great, some days not so great, but every day was joyous.” 

He then pranced around the stage hooting to Tina Turner‘s song “Simply the Best,” which was apparently for Zig Ziegler. 

Then there is President Bush‘s motivation, his own motivation, the Fox network‘s torture porn show “24.”  Carlos Bernard, one of the show‘s actors, telling the British tabloid the “Daily Express” about his meeting with Mr. Bush while Mr. Bush was still president.  According to Bernard, both men were at the same baseball game when the president summoned him.  “The president wanted the inside scoop on a ‘24‘ plot line.  Hey Carlos, said Bush, when are you coming out of that coma.  All I can do is watch that show of yours.  Are you coming back?” 

I‘m joined now by Gene Robinson, “Washington Post” associate editor, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, MSNBC political analyst.  Gene, good evening. 


OLBERMANN:  I know this is the dumbest topic we‘ve ever asked you about, but after the president told him about his non-stop watching of “24,” the actor said, perhaps rhetorically, “I was like, you don‘t have anything better to do.”  The answer to that is, of course, what? 

ROBINSON:  Painfully obvious.  Let‘s see, now, I go could check and see what Cheney has been doing today.  Well, I don‘t want to know.  I could ride the mountain bike more.  That‘s too hard.  I guess I‘ll just watch some more “24,” and see if he gets out of the coma. 

OLBERMANN:  Are we clear?  Is there actually a silver lining in this? 

Are we clear that he never mistook “24” for some sort of newscast? 

ROBINSON:  One hopes that he didn‘t think it was an actual

documentary.  Which is a serious point, actually, Keith.  This is a story -

·         it‘s a Hollywood mellow drama, fine.  Hollywood melodramas are not supposed to be true.  But this is a show that glorified torture, and that lied about torture, that misrepresented torture.  In “24,” the bomb is always ticking.  The terrorist has evil terrorist stenciled on his forehead, so you know who he is.  You torture him; you get the actionable information.  All is well. 

Obviously, everyone knows that‘s not the way it works in the real world.  One hopes that President Bush, even knowing that it wasn‘t a documentary, didn‘t—I hope he didn‘t get a psychological support or encouragement or validation from watching this nonsense on “24,” as he thought about, you know, what he had done in real life and departure from American values and norms he had taken on, to his eternal disgrace. 

OLBERMANN:  Thinking this is a good—this secure feed from Gitmo is really good picture.  That looks like that—that‘s Kiefer Sutherland guy.  A couple years ago, we remember the army brigadier general actually went to the set of “24” and asked the producers of the show to stop glorifying torture.  I am gathering that didn‘t work. 

ROBINSON:  It didn‘t work.  It‘s a poplar show.  Again, it‘s entertainment.  It was never my cup of tea.  But people like the show.  You have to expect the audience to be able to tell the difference between what‘s real and what‘s not real.  And given what was going on the time, I think “24” did blur the lines.  And I just hope that it wasn‘t somehow—the president didn‘t draw solace from that, from watching a show that was, again, just made up. 

OLBERMANN:  About the speaking engagement in Ft. Worth, your newspaper had the following to say about the event: “looking younger than his 63 years and relaxed, Bush did not appear to have an over-arching theme, but strung anecdotes and jokes together, and frequently mentioned his faith in job.”  So, it‘s exactly the same as it was when he was president. 

ROBINSON:  Au contrair, mon ami.  It sounds to me as if it‘s totally different.  If you remember, when he was president, George Bush couldn‘t talk.  He couldn‘t string together anything.  If he successfully strung together anecdotes and homilies and talks about his faith in god without committing some sort of a Bushism, talking about it‘s time to catapult the propaganda or something like that—that was one of my favorites—I guess it‘s totally changed. 

OLBERMANN:  But he talked about dog poop. 

ROBINSON:  There is that.  Yes.  He did talk about dog poop.  So not everything changes. 

OLBERMANN:  I find it reassuring, in some sense, that there‘s always the president and poop.  Gene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist of the “Washington Post.”  Great thanks for sinking to our level tonight. 

ROBINSON:  Good to be down here with you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Thank you, kindly.  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this 2,371st day since the president declared mission accomplished in Iraq, and in dog poop on the White House lawn.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. 

Now discussing with her guest, Jane Hamsher, Joe Lieberman‘s vow to try to kill health care reform on behalf of his insurance industry overlords in Connecticut, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.  Good evening, Rachel.



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