November 6, 2009
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED
Guests: Rep. James Clyburn, Mark Benjamin, Eric Schneiderman, Paul F. Tompkins
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Behold, the conservative triumph in the New York 23rd district.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Congratulations. You are now a member of the 111th Congress.
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OLBERMANN: Bill Owens, congressman, New York 23rd district, Democrat.
And now, he gets to vote on health care reform. But when?
Majority Leader Hoyer says tomorrow's vote could be delayed by Republican stall tactics. Thus, he will happily make everybody show up for work on the holidays, Monday and Tuesday. Our guest, the majority whip:
Mr. Clyburn of South Carolina.
And yesterday's hate-filled Bachmann stunt, at least five of those protesting government-run health care retreated on the scene by medics from government-run health care, including a man who had a heart attack and was wielded off just as John Boehner lunged into a tirade about keeping him safe from people like the ones who just saved his life.
Ian's Law: The New York man with muscular dystrophy. When the insurance provider (ph) Guardian could not cancel his policy on which it owed him $1 million, it canceled all similar policies statewide in New York and got away with it. The hell, it did, says, a New York state senator. He has proposed Ian's law to make that illegal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IAN PEARL, HAS MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY: I am honored they're adding (ph) my name to Senator Schneiderman's bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Our guest: State Senator Eric Schneiderman.
Fort Hood, day two: The mass murderer lives, while every possible rumor also lingers. Today, only this fact, the gun he used, a 5.7 millimeter pistol dubbed a "cop killer," was bought over-the-counter legally at a Texas store.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a tough one. It is inside and it's a kick in the gut. There's no-there's no doubt about it.
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OLBERMANN: "Worsts": The moron who says to Shoshana Johnson, "I spent a year in Iraq, ma'am. Have you ever been to Iraq?" Doesn't that name Shoshana Johnson ring a bell?
And the end of Carrie Prejean. A sex tape from Little Miss Preservation of Marriage-not same sex, not opposite sex, just kind of mono-sex.
All of that and more-now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARRIE PREJEAN, FMR. MISS CALIFORNIA: This should not happen in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
The strategy is a simple one and it stayed constant throughout the health care debate. If the Republicans cannot kill a health care reform bill outright, plan A; plan B is to delay, delay and delay some more.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: In the House, at least, the Democrat's health care bill expected to come to a vote tomorrow-maybe. There is a good chance Republicans could delay it again, of course, based on what it turns out they did yesterday, there's also a good chance some GOP members could forget to show up for the vote. T-minus 24 hours, or perhaps as many as 96 hours, and counting.
House Majority Leader Hoyer telling reporters today that Democrats are very close to security the 218 votes they need to pass health care legislation, but that Republican delay tactics could force a delay on the vote possibly until Tuesday of next week. The majority leader threatening to destabilize the long Veterans Day weekend for all members of Congress should the Republicans try to do that.
The Democrats, with one more vote they can count on tonight, Congressman Bill Owens of the New York 23rd sworn in this morning. He will meet with the president at the White House tomorrow. In a statement, the congressman announcing his support for the Democrat's health care reform bill. Quoting from that statement, "There is a fundamental need for reform and we must act with the sense of urgency."
If the health care doesn't proceed to an urgent vote tomorrow, there is a good chance some Republican lawmakers will distract themselves into not showing up.
You think I'm being hyperbolic? It happened yesterday. During the Bachmann health care protest on the Capitol steps, as the congresswoman's colleagues were sanctioning her hate-fuelled display, the one which compared health care reform to Nazi death camps and encourage harassment of government officials, the Democrats had scheduled key committee votes on Republican-sponsored amendments for the strengthening, re-authorization of provisions in the Patriot Act.
Six Republicans who sit on the committees in question: Steve King of Iowa, Trent Franks of Arizona, Randy Forbes of Virginia, Jim Jordan of Iowa, Louie Gohmert and Ted Poe of Texas, were all on the Capitol steps instead of in attendance when the rolls were called. All of the Republican-sponsored amendments making the Patriot Act worst, failed, but all by incredibly close margins. In other words, those amendments would have passed if the freedom-loving Republicans had shown up to vote rather than to attend the closest thing we've yet had to a GOP-sponsored white power rally.
Congressman King planning another one of them at the Capitol tomorrow afternoon, the same day as the planned health care reform vote-again not being hyperbolic. In his statement, the Iowa Republican calling on Americans to make a second House call to Congress, to stop a government takeover of health care. Mr. King is careful to describe his afternoon event tomorrow as a press conference and not a rally even though it's a rally.
"The Washington Post" reporting that at yesterday's Bachmann rally, at least five of the tea partiers protesting government-run health care received medical treatment from government health care providers. One of them, a man who suffered a heart attack just as Minority Leader Boehner stepped to the microphone. Medical personnel from the Capitol Physicians Office, the very definition of government-run health care, rushed over to save the man's life.
Their own hypocrisy here lost on Boehner, Bachmann and everybody else assembled. When the rally was over, all of the protesters, at least those who had not arrived on the 40 buses paid for by an Astroturf group, shuffled off to the D.C. Metro, where a government-subsidized, government-provided subsidized ride home.
Time now to bring in the House majority whip, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, whose job it is, of course, to count and cajole every last Democratic vote.
Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Oh, thank you so much for having me.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Cummings reassured us at this time last night that you have-as he put it-at least, the 218 right now and even if you didn't, you are very, very close. Has anything happened in the last 24 hours that changes that assessment or that count?
CLYBURN: Well, two things happened in the last 24 hours. We picked up a new member from California on yesterday and a new member from New York on today. That gives us two more votes. Both of them have endorsed this bill. And so, that puts us even closer to the 218.
I think that we are reaching agreements of various elements within our caucus, on issues like immigration. I think that issue got settled today. And I believe, before the evening is over, we will have language on the abortion that will make those elements comfortable with this bill. So, I believe we can go to the floor tomorrow and get this legislation passed.
OLBERMANN: Can you give us details on what was achieved on immigration?
CLYBURN: Well, on the immigration thing, it's all about language that people thought it would be added to the rule that we will put up tomorrow, simply because there is a language coming out of the Senate or there was expressed in the Senate that someone thought ought to be added to the House bill. It was never in the bill and we are not going to put it in. So, that's what all this hullabaloo was about, what people thought might get put into the bill.
OLBERMANN: Congressman, Mr. Hoyer warned today of a possible delay? Is there anything else that could actually cause that from your side of this equation? Or what else or who else might delay that vote?
CLYBURN: Well, not from our side. But I suspect that you might get some behavior dilatory tactics on the other side of the aisle. I do know that-I read last week that Mr. Boehner or someone said he was looking for ways to slow the process down. And I don't know why that's all that important. But if he does, that means we'll come back on Monday of next week and get this done. We do not plan to go home for the Veterans Day break until this legislation is voted upon and approved.
OLBERMANN: The speaker made it official today that the House will not be voting on single-payer as part of health care reform, even knowing it could have jeopardized passage of a bill this year. Is there disappointment among progressive members of your caucus at that reality?
CLYBURN: Well, I think that a lot of the progressives in the caucus have come to the realization that we ought to be unified on this issue of health care reform. And the vast majority of our caucus have rallied around this bill. And so, I think it would not be good for us to have other distractions at this point.
Many of us ran on single-payer, and many of us believe that that's a good method. In fact, that's what Medicare is. It's a federal program. It's a single-payer program.
And so, we think it's a very efficient, but we are not going to go off on a tangent now. We are going to rally around this bill and get it passed.
OLBERMANN: Lastly, sir, speaking of tangents-that farce on the steps of the Capitol yesterday and you had cautioned in its wake that you were hoping that Congresswoman Bachmann would read the Republican alternative to health care.
OLBERMANN: And, of course, she did not.
Why do you think the Republicans are not talking about their own bill, merely denouncing yours?
CLYBURN: Oh, many, many reasons. For instance, we all know that one of the things that people who have health care are very, very concerned about, and that is the discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. The Republican plan allows that discrimination to continue. Nothing can be more insulting to the American people than to have that happen.
And, of course, those people without health insurance, number of 45 million or 46 million people. Their bill will pick up 3 million of them, leaving 42 million people without health insurance.
And CBO says they'll reject and they will go even higher, over 50 million, if they put their plan in placed. So, their plan is a harsh, cruel joke to play on the American people.
OLBERMANN: Maybe they're smart not to talk about it.
Congressman James Clyburn.
OLBERMANN: . House majority whip-many thanks. I hope it's a productive weekend. Thank you for your time.
CLYBURN: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
OLBERMANN: For more, let's turn now to our own Lawrence O'Donnell, contributor to "The Huffington Post," as well as former chief of staff to the Senate Finance Committee, and, of course, a regular with us.
Lawrence, good evening.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: A protest to denounce government-run health care at which five protestors are treated by and with, and in one case, saved by government health care providers. Keep your government hands off my health care unless I need you to save my life using government health care. That isn't just the rally yesterday in a nutshell, isn't it? I mean, that's the whole protest in a nutshell?
O'DONNELL: No, and it's hard-it has always in my experience been part of the Republican approach to the subject. When I was working in the Senate and we're trying to legislate this in '94, there were Republicans who would occasionally come along and say, "Well, you know, I'm in favor of this little provision."
And you would discover that that senator has a daughter with that condition, and then you'd found out that this other senator has a family member with that other condition. And that's why they're interested because they have this purely anecdotal frame of reference for the subject. They-as party members, they do not seem to put their minds to the subject of the national problem and how we do address it.
OLBERMANN: Right. It's "I've got mine, screw you."
OLBERMANN: Every time, in terms of the politics of this thing, I think I can't be surprised any further. Six flag-waving terrorism-exploiting Republicans skipped votes to make the Patriot Act worse to instead turn up to a dog and pony show yesterday?
O'DONNELL: And, you know, look, this year has not been a good year for Republican work ethnic in government, starting with Sarah Palin. They seem to not really want to stay on the job all that long.
And, you know, the finding about this is people run against members on their voting records, attendance records. You missed this many votes. You missed this many votes. And it always-the question is always, what was the vote? And usually, it's one that didn't matter, you know, passed by a giant margin.
This kind of thing is devastating in campaigning. You never want to get yourself in this position. But that's how lost they are. They couldn't even, you know, tell when they're supposed to be in the committee and when they're supposed to be out pretending to rally.
OLBERMANN: When a more conservative guy than Steve King comes after Steve King with that voting record, w could sit here and laugh and toast the man.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let's see what's happening next. What do you think, are we going to have a vote over the weekend or next Tuesday?
O'DONNELL: It's very much in doubt. And the big worry is not Republican delay tactics in the House because they don't really have parliament maneuvers in the House that the minority can use to delay. The real problem is they don't have 218. You remember, a month ago, Nancy Pelosi was saying, "Of course, we have 218." And now, they are openly admitting, "We're not quite there yet."
My impression had been, and especially from Congressman Clyburn and his comments about the whip count-and my impression had been they were three, maybe five short. There are now reports indicating that they are 10 votes short the night before. That is a-that is a huge gap to close within that 24 hours. So, they, on the Democratic side, may be delaying this vote themselves until Sunday or Monday, until they can round those up.
OLBERMANN: And yet, in contrast, the picture ahead in the Senate could make the House look like a quick dance in the spring rain?
O'DONNELL: You will miss how smoothly things went in the House once we move over to the Senate. Harry Reid has already made it clear, that this could easily happen after Christmas and could easily slip over into next year. You know what part of next year it might slip over into? You know, we just played the World Series in November.
O'DONNELL: We may be legislating this in the spring. This may not be moving until March because there are all these basic business items like appropriations bills that must be passed to keep the government funded that are getting clogged up right now and aren't moving.
And so, Harry Reid, you know, you would expect, if he had a faster strategy, to jump out quickly and say, "No, no, no, it's not going to be next year." He didn't. He's let that sit.
It could really start to slide. And then it starts to slide into the campaign election season. And that's where this bill died last time around in 1994.
OLBERMANN: Did you just see my aura of hope escape from my-the top of my head here? Sort of shoot of?
O'DONNELL: I thought a long time about whether I should break it to you this way, this night, after your big win last night in the World Series. I thought about maybe letting you get in to next week with more fun. That's the way.
OLBERMANN: Well, you know, that off-season just flies by, especially if you're just talking about health care reform without stop.
OLBERMANN: Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC and "The Huffington Post," who will be filling in for me until next March-great thanks.
O'DONNELL: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: There are other means applicable to indeed, perhaps preferable for reform like making new law. In New York state, an insurance company cannot just cancel somebody's insurance because he has muscular dystrophy, but it can cancel everybody's insurance if their policy is like that one individual. Tonight, a New York state senator wants to make that illegal, too.
First: The latest from Fort Hood when COUNTDOWN continues.
OLBERMANN: He is reported in a coma. Thus, any explanation of whatever he thinks, his motive was behind his mindless killings spree still pure speculation. This is a fact: the weapon he used he bought legally at a Texas gun shop. The firearm is nicknamed "cop killer." The latest-next from Fort Hood.
One New York state legislator's bid to rein in insurance companies willing to cancel a whole class of policies just to make sure they don't have to pay one patient.
And confronted on this network by Markos Moulitsas, with the reality that he don't know what he's talking about about veterans and health care, ex-Congressman Tom Tancredo runs away.
You're watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: And bodies were loaded on to an Air Force One C-17 Globemaster III aircraft today and flown to Dover Air Force Base today, and all too familiar scene-except that tonight, the fallen U.S. soldiers are not coming home, they're coming from their home.
Our fourth story tonight: Fort Hood, Texas, and a man accused of sending 13 fellow Americans to Dover and 33 more to the hospital. Emerging picture of Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan is troubling but it is incomplete.
Investigators have been unable to speak to him. He remains unconscious but in stable condition. He was shot four times by civilian members of the Army police.
Thirty-four-year-old Sergeant Kimberly Munley, tonight, recovering from a gun shot wound to the thigh after which witnesses say Hasan fumbled with his gun, someone yelling he's reloading. She and her partner returned fire, taking the gunman down-who we now know used a new kind of semi-automatic hand gun, nicknamed "the Cop Killer" because it was designed to be armor-piercing.
Hasan reportedly bought one recently, legally, at Guns Galore in Killeen, in Texas. Hasan has only or had only moved to his apartment there this August.
And according to the "Associated Press," he was the victim of a hate crime by August 16th. Police is charging an Iraq war vet with keying Hasan's car and tearing off a bumper sticker that said "Allah is love." Witnesses report Hasan cried out "God is great" in Arabic during his shooting rampage yesterday.
His former imam telling the "New York Times" he'd been unable to find a wife because he had insisted she should pray five times a day and wear a hijab. He reportedly refused to pose in group photos with female co-workers.
Neighbors telling the "Killeen Daily Herald," he had recently begun to dress in, quote, "Arabic clothing." And yesterday, cleaning out his apartment, he handed out copies of the Koran. Acquaintances report that Hasan suffered religion harassment after 9/11, trying to get a discharge, considered the "war on terror" a war on Islam and considered himself a Muslim first, an American second.
After counseling veterans, including one whose injuries, an aunt described to "The Washington Post" as resembling a melted face. Hasan came to fear his own deployment.
Federal law enforcement six months ago spotted this posting online signed by Nidal Hasan, arguing that Muslim suicide bombers to do not defy the Koran's ban on suicide any more than do American soldiers leaping on grenades. But the posting did not constitute a threat and officials have yet to confirm whether Major Hasan was the author.
Today, the president was briefed on the shooting by the FBI and other law enforcement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't know all the answers yet, and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts. What we do know is that there are families, friends and an entire nation grieving right now for the valiant men and women who came under attack yesterday in one of the worst mass shootings ever to take place on an American military base. So, from now until Veterans Day, I've ordered the flags at the White House and other federal buildings to be flown at half-staff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I'm joined now by Mark Benjamin, who's covering the story as national correspondent for Salon.com.
Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
MARK BENJAMIN, SALON.COM: Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: The president said we should leap with the conclusions. Are there any that we should and which ones should we specifically not leap to?
BENJAMIN: Well, I think that maybe without leaping to conclusions, there are certainly some very disturbing themes here, Keith, which I think are starting to make sense. I mean, we've got a guy who clearly had a pretty twisted version of Islam and was getting, you know, increasingly militant.
Secondly, we had him counseling people with post traumatic stress disorder, so, you know, soldiers that are coming back from combat.
I've interviewed hundreds of soldiers coming back from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and I am telling you, some of these stories are very, very disturbing. And somebody who is preconceived to think about them in a certain way could definitely turn those around in their mind and to something really bad.
Third, we got a guy who's saying, "I don't want to deploy. I don't believe in this mission. This is bad. And, you know, it's Islam versus America-type thing." And what does the Army do? They give him a deployment date.
OLBERMANN: So, we have intense and intensifying religiosity. We have failure with women in essence, although it seems to be dressed up into-it was too religious in his demands about who his wife would be. Fear of combat, political opposition to U.S. policy, personal stress, maybe religious refusal.
Is there any way to isolate any of these factors and say, yes, that's it right there?
BENJAMIN: No, and I don't think so. And I think-I think people are trying to put this story in a box a little bit. In other words, this is a guy who is inspired by al Qaeda. You know, this is a guy who was, you know, stressed out by combat. Obviously not the case since he'd never deployed. You know, this is either one of the two.
I don't think that's the case. I think we've got a complex group of factors here. But that doesn't mean we can't unwind them and that doesn't mean this wasn't-these weren't preventable deaths.
OLBERMANN: Stressed out by combat. You just hit one of the themes of that news conference today for the secretary of Army and the Army chief of staff. And yet, the response argument goes: he hadn't been deployed; he never served outside of base.
How much of an issue could it really have been? Can you address that?
Is that a false equivalency there?
BENJAMIN: It's not a false equivalency, Keith. I think, you know, obviously, this is not a the case like this-this gentleman who, in May, you know, shot up by a health clinic at Camp Liberty because he felt like he wasn't getting proper care. And that's what a lot of people thought this was.
But think about this for a second, it's not the stress of command but the strain on armed forces. Here you got a guy who wants out of the Army. They won't let him out of the Army. He says he doesn't want to deploy. He says he doesn't believe in the mission. He's spouting out some pretty, you know, frightening things.
And the Army is so desperate for people that they send him anyway. So, no, it is not a typical version of the combat stress. But it is a slice of the pie when you think about how stressed the military is that they would send this guy in the first place.
OLBERMANN: When Christian terrorists strike, or let's make that when non-Muslim terrorists strike, the George Tiller assassination.
OLBERMANN: Anyone of examples of guys walking into places and shooting people because they can't shoot the people on Bernard Goldberg's book list? There's much less of an emphasis, much less of a cause and effect quality to their devoutness or their specific beliefs obviously.
But do we have to look at the possibility of a strong, kind of documented strain of that thing, that fundamentalist thing within the U.S. military may have contributed to this harassment that's on the record? I mean, the guy was-it's not a major league hate crime, but if the man has a bumper sticker removed from his car that expresses his belief and his car gets keyed two weeks after he moves into his apartment, that's a-that's a harassment, that's a religious hate crime.
Is that a factor in this? And does that need to be investigated?
BENJAMIN: Absolutely. It needs to be investigated. And you remember the scandal at the Air Force Academy where, you know, right-wing Christians were, you know, pushing their faith on other people. And I think that-I think that's a problem.
I would add also that, you know, if you remember Vietnam there was this term "gook." Gook was the term that was thrown around. In Iraq, the term is "Hajji."
I mean, in other words, if you go to combat and you faced combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, you see these terrible things. Sometimes you have a predilection to come back and over-generalize the way people-the way people are.
So, in other words, you got people who will, you know, see the gas station attendant who likes an Iraqi think he's Muslim and react very, very badly. And sometimes, worse than just keying their car or, you know, calling them a name.
OLBERMANN: Mark Benjamin of Salon.com-many thanks.
Health care. Ex-Congressman Tom Tancredo knows what to do when confronted with the truth: flee.
Ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment. Remember the joke when you were a kid? The phone rings and a spooky voice says, I am the viper; I'm down the block? First, a special edition of Oddball.
Ex-Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo hoist on his own petard by none other than Markos Moulitsas on "THE ED SHOW" this evening, guest hosted by David Shuster. As the Python boys used to say, "Run away!" Let's play Oddball.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM TANCREDO, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Medicare's already got lots and lots of problems. I do think it's a problem, absolutely.
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC ANCHOR: How about the Veterans Administration? The Veterans Administration is a single-payer system. Everybody in the military was treated yesterday. The military members, their health care system, that is also a threat to our freedom?
TANCREDO: Talk to-every veterans group I ever went and talked to complained about the Veterans Administration, and the way it what is a bureaucratically-run program that didn't serve their needs. They would much rather have vouchers that would allow them to go out and buy their insurance in a private marketplace.
They've talked about it. You're laughing, you may. But talk to the veterans. They talk to me and that's what they said.
MARKOS MOULITSAS, DAILY KOS FOUNDER: I'm a veteran. Tom, I'm a veteran. I did not get a deferment because I was too depressed to fight in a war that I supported in Vietnam. I'm a veteran, Tom.
TANCREDO: That's a cheap, rotten-
MOULITSAS: -- more effective-
TANCREDO: -- stupid thing to say.
MOULITSAS: They want a more effective VA That's more money.
TANCREDO: No, you're not going to do that. You are not going to try to insult me that way and pretend like we are just going on and talking about that.
MOULITSAS: I'm not pretending anything.
TANCREDO: You either apologize-
MOULITSAS: I told you straight up. The issue here is-what the Republicans are afraid of. This is a threat to Republicans. They built an entire ideology predicated on telling people that government does not work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Here kitty, kitty, kitty. He actually did get a deferment for depression. The man thought he might become president of the United States. No, of America.
Ian's Law, the bid to keep insurance companies from wiping out whole hordes of policy holders, so it doesn't have to pay off one policy. That's ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN's top three best persons in the world.
On a related subject, dateline Sacramento, number three, best insight into the health care system, the UC Davis Medical Center. It has sent a 30,000 bill to Scott Hawkins, and warned him not to return to the college hospital because of payment issues.
They need not worry. Mr. Hawkins is dead. He had been beaten to death by another resident of his dorm at Sacramento State. He was treated for five minutes at the UC Davis emergency room. Ten days later, 12 hours after his funeral, his parents received the bill and the warning that because the late Mr. Hawkins had not yet paid it, he was now considered indigent and not welcome again.
A hospital bureaucrat has apologized for what they called an accident of automation. Which I think sums up everything, doesn't it?
Or maybe this does. Deadline Wall Street, number two, best new bailout. The Centers for Disease Control has approved distribution the distribution of supplies of the H1N1 vaccine to 13 Wall Street companies. Citigroup has gotten 1,200 doses. Goldman Sachs 200. JP Morgan Chase and Time Warner have also gone to the front of the line.
Too big to sneeze, don't you know.
And to lighten the mood, Dateline Jersey in the UK, number one, best joke from your childhood come to life. The phone rings. Hello, this is the viper. I am around the corner. The phone rings again. Hello, this is the viper. I'm outside of your house. The doorbell rings again. Hello, this is the viper. The window wiper. I'm here to wipe the windows.
Behold. James Denton (ph) and Morny Asphelting (ph) of Jersey in England are in the car, when up from under the hood, past the windshield wipers and onto the front windshield appears this four foot snake. Not just a window wiper, a window wiper viper.
OLBERMANN: The abomination of an insurance company canceling the policy of somebody who is costing it too much money is bad enough. But even when that is prohibited, insurance companies can and have found a particularly draconian way around that, by dropping an entire class of insurance as a pretext for dropping the individual's coverage.
In our third story on the COUNTDOWN, now a new has been introduced to prohibit that grotesque loophole. New York State Senator Eric Schneiderman, who will join me in a moment, and two of his colleagues introduced the legislation yesterday, after Guardian insurance had dropped an entire line of policies state-wide which have denied coverage to a 37-year-old man who has Muscular Dystrophy.
An internal document from that insurer showed that the company officials had justified dropping the entire line of policies in order to get rid of, quote, "the few dogs." We named the president of Guardian Insurance worst person in the world on October 16th. Subsequently, Guardian apologized to the policy holder and promised to continue coverage indefinitely.
But those New York state senators went further and introduced a new bill, named Ians Law, for the policy holder, this man, Ian Pearl, a man who has lived dependent upon that ventilator for 18 years, in large part because of outstanding in-home nursing care.
Mr. Pearl, who now lives in Florida and has been an advocate for people with disabilities since he was a child, addressed the news conference via video feed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IAN PEARL, ADVOCATE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: My great hope is that Ian's Law will end up protecting more people than I will ever know, whose names I will never know, who will never have to go through any sort of battle again because of this bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Mr. Pearl's mother, Susan Pearl, described the agony that faces so many patients.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN PEARL, MOTHER OF IAN PEARL: My family discovered that the cancellation of an insurance plan can produce catastrophic consequences that none of us can anticipate. And certainly on a personal level, this was an experience that my family could not have predicted, never expected, and left us with a question about literally how we would be able to continue saving Ian's life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: As if the horrific point need to be underscored, another parent, Cindy Keefe, whose twin children are severely developmentally disabled, said that, quote, "it's not just one insurance company."
Joining me now, as promised, New York State Senator Eric Schneiderman, co-sponsor of Ian's Law. Thanks for coming in, senator.
ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN, NEW YORK STATE SENATE: Pleasure, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Ian Pearl is a man with a necessity of care, including the nursing. None of this was ambiguous. This insurance company just didn't want to pay anymore, correct?
SCHNEIDERMAN: Yes. We realized through the exposure that Ian Pearl gave to the issue that insurance companies that are already barred by law from just throwing people off when their coverage becomes too expensive had developed this pretext. They would cancel a group of policies or a line of policies when it was clear they were just targeting a few individuals whose care was costing them too much.
OLBERMANN: How do you stop that? How would your law change that?
SCHNEIDERMAN: Well, we've-our law very simply would say that if you want to cancel a line of policies, you have to be able to demonstrate it's not a pretext. And, most importantly, it would allow people like the Pearls to come into the State Insurance Department and say hey, we can show that this is just done to get our son off. They tried to get him off other ways.
It's a problem all over the country. We distributed our draft through the Progressive States Network to other legislatures. And we're hoping that this will become a national set of statutes.
OLBERMANN: If it is a national problem and it requires a national set of statutes, it's going to be another national health care reform issue. Is there a reason why this is not being brought up even now?
SCHNEIDERMAN: Well, we have passed it along to our colleagues in Washington, to U.S. senators. Frankly, I'm embarrassed to say or pleased to say, until we saw your segment, naming the president of the insurance company as worst person of the world, no one had really focused on it. We saw it, said how can we get away with that, determined they could, and wrote a law so they can't.
OLBERMANN: And we were just talking about that one fact, which is kind of scary, that it would have been exposed to government oversight by dint of what's on a television program. But they have-the insurance companies have more people who work on this and work around and may understand these laws better than the state Senate does or possibly the federal Senate does, and certainly more than a news organization does. That's part of this problem, too.
SCHNEIDERMAN: It is. It makes it all the more important to ultimately have an answer at the federal level. Insurance companies can move from state to state. The Republican proposal in Washington actually would enable them to avoid Ian's Law by just moving to another state that hasn't passed it yet. This is something that will, at the end of the day, be resolved by federal insurance law.
OLBERMANN: All laws, not just this one. Anything that applies on a state level, they could bypass it if the Republican alternative --
SCHNEIDERMAN: They can move to the lowest-regulated state. It would be a race to the bottom.
OLBERMANN: The Pearls and the Keefe family, the one mentioned, did not hear from, they own small businesses. So this is also-as a side effect to legislation, this keeps small businesses, the favorite catch phrase of the GOP, the most important people in the world, the small businesses from going bankrupt.
SCHNEIDERMAN: Yes. This is a problem for a lot of small businesses. When they cancel lines of insurance, there are a lot of businesses really left out in the cold. So we are not preventing insurance companies from doing their business. We're just not allowing them to use a pretext to throw people off just at the time they need their insurance most. These are all folks who paid their premiums, played by the rules. And we just can't allow insurance companies to dump them when they really need the coverage.
OLBERMANN: Let's take the limited amount of time we have left here to give me your impressions of Ian Pearl.
SCHNEIDERMAN: Ian Pearl is a hero. Ian Pearl is one of those people you meat who walks in the tradition of people like Rosa Parks. He took his own problem and was willing to step up, speak up. He is going to be a great national advocate for people with disabilities and people who are victims of abuses by the insurance industry.
OLBERMANN: There he is right there. New State Senator Eric Schneiderman, great thanks for coming in. Good luck with this.
SCHNEIDERMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Well, one more person publicly, boastfully meddling with the private lives of others turns out to have put their own private life on videotape. And Fixed News sure didn't wait. Do you think it's time for the military to have special debriefings of Muslim Army officers, anybody enlisted?
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, Governor Rick Perry says Texas should be the model for health care reform. Her guest, Congressman Anthony Weiner, curbs his laughter long enough to react.
OLBERMANN: The good news, tonight's Defenders of the Family Awards Ceremony in Wippinnee (ph), New Jersey is still go. The bad news, Carrie Prejean was been mysteriously dropped from the event. How will she pass the time?
That's next, but first time for COUNTDOWN's number two story, tonight's worst person in the world. The answer is reading.
The bronze to Allen West, Republican who hopes to run for the Florida 22nd next year. He's a retired Army lieutenant colonel. And even though his superiors in the military are still unsure exactly what happened at Fort Hood or why he knows, he knows everything. The quote, "this enemy preys on downtrodden soldiers and teaches them extremism will lift them up. Our soldiers are being brain washed. The horrible tragedy of Ft. Hood is proof the enemy is infiltrating our military."
Who was brain washed? Major Hasan MD? Or was he downtrodden? Or the men he was treating? Or the people he shot? Colonel West, could you at least give me a good backup story to-or made-up backup story here to back up this made up excuse for your all too-real racism before you start spouting your hate?
The runners up, Brian Kilmeade, Gretchen Carlson and Peter Johnson of Fox News, on the Fort Hood case. Kilmeade, "do you think it's time for the military to have special debriefings of Muslim Army civil officers, anybody enlisted?"
Johnson, "you won't countenance special screenings for Muslim soldiers, will you?"
Carlson, "could it be that the military was exercising political correctness by in not approaching him as seriously as they would have had he not been a Muslim."
Since we are asking questions, I have one for Carlson, Johnson and Kilmeade: you guys ever wonder if you all succeeded inside a company like Fox mostly because you are not Muslim, or black, or Asian or Hispanic?
But our winner, Tom Kenniff, from the Army National Guard Judge Advocates General Group, a JAG, an Army lawyer. After asserting on national TV that Major Hasan could not have had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because he never served on the frontlines and calling the whole thing psycho-babble, and asserting that the real story here was the man's last name, he was asked a question by another guest, a woman.
Guest, "maybe the fact is that you are a JAG officer and you have no idea what it's like to be in combat.
Kenniff: "I spent a year in Iraq, ma'am. Have you ever been to Iraq?"
And it was that exact moment that Mr. Kenniff lost any remaining credibility he might have had on the subject of, say, the military. He didn't know who the woman was of whom he had just asked, "have you ever been to Iraq?"
Her answer was, "I'm a POW. I got shot."
The other guest was Shoshanna Johnson, former US Army specialist. She was not only shot in both ankles when her group, the 502nd Maintenance Brigade, was attacked on March 23, 2003, and she spent 22 days thereafter as a prisoner of war in Iraq.
I think, inadvertently, summed up Mr. Kenniff she noticed he was a JAG-off officer. Tom Kenniff, today's worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: With Maine disgustingly following California's lead in repealing same-sex marriage rights, it should have been a happy week for Carrie Prejean, the Ex-Miss California and anti-gay civil rights icon.
That was before Miss Anti-Same Sex was found on tape being pro self-sex. So that big Defensive Marriage Award Ceremony in Jersey tonight she was supposed to headline? There was an empty place at the dais.
In our number one story, the political merry-go-round, including more on Sarah Palin's undelivered election night speeches with Paul F. Tompkins. But first, the sex tape.
Carrie Prejean and the Miss California Pageant had these dueling lawsuits. She wanted a million dollars for wrongful dethroning. The pageant sought reimbursement for Prejean's breast implants.
The sides appeared headed for court until, according to TMZ.com, pageant attorneys played, with Prejean and her lawyer present, an x-rated video of a woman engaged in some kind of sex act.
The former beauty queen, confused, reportedly said, that's disgusting? Then the camera panned to reveal the face of the woman and it was Carrie Prejean. Guess she forgot.
Red faced and caught red handed, so to speak, Prejean's demands changed from a million dollars to covering her legal fees. If she had covered her legal fees, none of this would have happened.
The sex tape has allegedly been on the market for months. TMZ confirmed the video was pitched to them, but they passed because it was too racy. Seriously? for TMZ? Serious?
Prejean's attorney would not confirm the existence of the sex tape, but is threatening to sue the Miss California people for raising the issue.
Today, more same sex tape fall out. At this event, the New Jersey Family Policy Council Defenders of Family Awards, scheduled for 6:30 Eastern tonight, Carrie Prejean, despite that big picture there, did not appear as billed. The Conservative Defenders would not say who pulled the plug on Prejean's appearance, but you can bet Bill and George's excellent adventure, the team there above them, were thrilled that they got an extra 20 minutes to fill.
Joining me now from Los Angeles, comedian Paul F. Tompkins, whose "Live at Gotham" comedy special airs tonight on Comedy Central.
Paul, good evening.
PAUL F. TOMPKINS, COMEDIAN: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We have just broken this news that the New Jersey families lost a defender tonight. Do they just throw in the towel now that there is no glamour gal to come out?
TOMPKINS: No, no, no. Jersey is still safe. Thank god they did not suffer the same fate as Maine and California, who when they gave legal status to gay marriage, everything started crumbling. Thank god they went and repealed it, so everything is righted again. The ship is sailing smoothly.
OLBERMANN: Of course it is. You mentioned the California thing. You're in California at the moment. She was Miss California. She represented your state as its duly elected pretty person. How is the Golden State reacting to this let's go to the videotape news?
TOMPKINS: In Los Angeles and San Francisco, people aren't exactly rending their garments over this. This is pretty standard stuff. But in the rest of the wild hinterlands of California, I think everyone is glad that it was not an opposite sex tape.
OLBERMANN: You mentioned rending her garments. TMZ passed on this video. Other websites say they had it shopped to them too, but there were no takers. What does it say that-either about this tape or about this poor woman that nobody would pay for this tape, but Screech got paid for his sex tape?
TOMPKINS: Keith, that's an unfair comparison. Screech is an institution. We grew up with him. And like all of our old pals from days gone by, we all long to watch him have sex in a tub.
OLBERMANN: You want to have a shot at that rhetorical question of when she got canceled on this thing in New Jersey, how she passed the time, or do you want to just pass on that question?
TOMPKINS: I'll leave that to wiser people than me.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let's move to Sarah Palin and the book "Sarah From Alaska." She had this acceptance speech and a concession speech ready to go on election night last year. The McCain people didn't want her to speak and were so worried that she would force her way on to the stage that they cut off the lights and cut the mike on the stage in Arizona.
Are you surprised that that stopped her?
TOMPKINS: Yes. I am, kind of. You would think, of all people, Sarah Palin would be one of those moms who would have the portable karaoke boom box, with the attached microphone, just ready to go at any moment. Long car trips, picking the girls up from soccer practice, or what have you. Hockey, excuse me. Hockey practice.
I would have loved to have heard her storm the stage with that little karaoke boom box and hear her stirring concession speech, set to a backing track of "The Greatest Love of All."
OLBERMANN: Right. Like the Blues Brother and the megaphone on top. You there, over there, this is my speech. Here from the speech-this is part of the acceptance speech that never went. "And I said to my husband Todd that it's not at step down when he's no longer Alaska's first dude, he will now be the first guy ever to become the second dude."
Now, again, wasn't the first second dude Sean Michael Scott from the movie, "Dude, Where's My Car?"
TOMPKINS: Keith, that is the age-old debate. We don't have that kind of time to settle that tonight. It's like one of those chicken or the egg, or the sound of one hand clapping. Even Ashton and Sean don't know which was Dude One and which was Dude Two.
OLBERMANN: The sound of one Carrie Prejean hand clapping. This is from the concession speech that she was not allowed to give. At least they would have let her do that. "If Obama governs America with the skill and grace we have often seen in him, and the greatness of which he is capable, we're going to be just fine."
Now I thought I covered this campaign pretty clearly, did we all miss her references to Obama's skill and grace in between her references to his supposed domestic terrorist status?
TOMPKINS: Let's not discount the possibility that she was planning on delivering the modern politics first sarcastic concession speech. She was a ground breaking lady in many ways. And when you think of it that way, it makes a lot of sense, because, let's keep in mind, she was an unqualified creep.
OLBERMANN: Four years from now, after you see what this guy does, I know you're all going to come to me and say, we're sorry we didn't vote for you, Sarah. And you know what I'm going to say to you then? Nuts.
I know. I stole that whole thing from Bob and Ray. Paul F. Tompkins, who you can catch tonight on Comedy Central at 11:00 Eastern. Thanks, Paul.
TOMPKINS: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That's COUNTDOWN for this the 2,381st day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
Now to discuss the GOP's absurd Super Bowl of Freedom with Congressman Anthony Weiner, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.
Good evening, Rachel.
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