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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Eugene Robinson, Richard Wolffe, Sen. Ron Wyden, Chris Kofinis


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

The Senate health care reform bill.  No Congressional Budget Office analysis yet.  The first test vote, says Harry Reid, “as soon as we can,” maybe this weekend.  Senator Hatch now already promises an anti-abortion amendment.  Senator Durbin worries the vote for the public option may not be there.

Senator Wyden worries the public option may not really be there.


SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON:  The American people are becoming increasingly uncomfortable that this looks like a very sweet deal for the insurance lobby.


Our guest: Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.

And here come the lies.  Miss Palin tells Miss Winfrey there was no family vote on whether or not to run for V.P.  A year ago, she told FOX, “The girls voted on it.”  And today, she talks policy with Orly Taitz Limbaugh.  They‘re still clearing the locomotives off that railroad track.


SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR (via telephone):  Hey, thank you so much and dittos from an Alaskan.


OLBERMANN:  And her $29 book is now available at Walmart for $8.98 also.

“Worsts”: In the New York 23rd, Doug Hoffman un-concedes, then un-un-concedes, might yet un-un-unconcede.  Bill-O.


BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS:  I don‘t care about the Constitution.


OLBERMANN:  And Congresswoman Carrie Prejean.


CARRIE PREJEAN, FMR. MISS CALIFORNIA:  We were so excited to meet, you know, the Donald, at that time, and he just came out there and meeted (ph) us.


OLBERMANN:  That‘d be great.  Then she could go and meeted the press.

And the Oxford University Press has meted out its choices for top new word of the year.  Number one was unfriend.  Number two: teabagger?  I feel like a proud parent.

All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Teabagging exploded all across America.



OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

As the waiting continues for the Senate health care reform bill to be introduced for debate, more evidence tonight—in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN—that a clear majority of Americans are waiting for real reform, that means a public option.

Presently, we‘ll be joined by Senator Ron Wyden to discuss whether he‘s planning to vote for a bill that might not have a public option in it.

But we begin with the latest developments in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Reid today meeting with the Democratic Caucus at its weekly luncheon.  He did not present his colleagues with the CBO analysis of the bill, telling them he would have that information for them soon.  After they have a chance to read it, Reid will hold the first procedural vote on a motion to proceed to debate.

Last night, progressives in the caucus having pulled in the side remind him that he cannot compromise on the public option any further.  Public opinion is with those progressives as it always has been and as it still is in the latest batch of polling.

On those surveyed in the new “Washington Post”/ABC News Poll, were asked only just generally about how they feel about the proposed changes of the health care being developed by Congress and the Obama administration.  Opinions split, 48 percent supporting reform, 49 percent against.  But when they were asked specifically about having the government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans: support 53 percent, opposition 43 percent -- 10 percent less.

And even larger majority wanting to tax the rich in order to pay for health care reform according to the new “A.P.” poll conducted with Stanford University: 57 percent in favor of increasing income taxes on Americans who earn more than $250,000 a year.

The House bill, which was already passed in that chamber, would impose a 5.4 percent income tax surcharge on individuals making more than $500,000 a year and families making more than $1 million a year—a provision no doubt striking fear in Republicans in the Senate still planning to kill health care reform by introducing at least six weeks worth of amendments.

Senator Hatch of Utah today announcing he‘ll be using one of his to become the Stupak of the Senate, telling “Politics Daily” he intends to introduce an amendment that would restrict federal funding for abortion.  When asked if his amendment would mirror the language of the amendment Mr.

Stupak put into the House bill, Senator Hatch replying, quote, “I think so. 

I think that‘s a fair appraisal.”

As promised, time now to call in Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, and member of the Senate Finance Committee.

Good evening, Senator.

WYDEN:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Have you decided yet whether you‘ll vote for the health care reform bill?

WYDEN:  I haven‘t and it hasn‘t been written.  We haven‘t seen it.  And I‘ll just tell you, I‘m not going to vote for anything that doesn‘t protect the typical consumer.  I want the typical consumer to be able to say to their insurance company, “I‘m giving you an ultimatum.  If you don‘t treat me right, I‘m taking my business elsewhere.”  These bills don‘t do that and they have to.

OLBERMANN:  Your colleague, Senator Carper, claimed tonight that conservative Democrats are not likely to support a public option.  You don‘t know whether or not you‘ll vote for a bill without a public option, because you don‘t know what the bill looks like.  When the majority whip, Mr. Durbin, says, as he did last night, he‘s struggling to find 60 votes.  His biggest problem there—is it the conservative members of the caucus or is it the progressive members of the caucus?

WYDEN:  I think what Democrats are saying is, we‘ve got to have a bill that works for the typical American, not special interest.  That means choice.  It means competition.

You look, for example, what the House of Representatives did.  They came up with a public option that has 6 million people in it.  And they‘re going to be mostly folks who‘ve been sick and haven‘t had coverage.

I look—today, United Healthcare has 70 million subscribers.  Now, how in the world are you going to hold the United Health people accountable with 6 million subscribers?  United Health is not going exactly be quaking in their boots over that.  And I want real choice and real competition because that‘s how you hold the insurance industry accountable.

OLBERMANN:  Senator Carper says he doesn‘t even like the opt-out because it would be government-funded.  So, he‘s floated yet another compromise that would be a federal entity run by the government that would negotiate rates with providers based on affordability standards in the states.  That‘s, I guess, in essence, a trigger option without a delay.  What‘s your reaction to this latest of the 3,000 proposals?

WYDEN:  What concerns many is you could come up with a very small pool of individuals and, again, not get a good deal for the consumer and not be in a position to take the insurance companies on.  I mean, the reason members of Congress do well is we‘re parts of big pools, Keith.  We‘ve got low administrative costs.  The insurance companies can‘t cherry-pick.  They can‘t discriminate against a member of Congress.

So, I‘m not for this opt-out approaches that just reduce the size of the pool because it‘s going to be even harder to get competition and choice.

OLBERMANN:  Senator Hatch announced today, as I mentioned, he plans to introduce his own version of that Stupak Amendment from the House, restricting federal funding for abortion, restricting—if it‘s like the Stupak Amendment—restricting a woman‘s right to use their own private insurance to pay for abortions.  How might the idea of a Hatch amendment that‘s similar to that or equivalent to that affect your vote?

WYDEN:  I certainly won‘t support turning back the clock on women‘s rights.  We have had a rough consensus in this country.  We are going to protect a women‘s right to choose particularly when there are private dollars involved.  There was also a willingness to take the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funds for abortion.  That was a rough consensus.

And, unfortunately, the House is moving away from that.  I won‘t support that, because at this time in our history, turning the clock back on women‘s rights would be a huge mistake.

OLBERMANN:  Ultimately, Senator, at this point, the way things have gone, and I know this thing has been cyclical and there‘d been ups and downs and highlights and low lights for all these many months, and there will be those to come.  But the way this thing is extrapolating out into the future, is it possible that progressives may have to ultimately oppose the bill that is about to be voted on in the Senate when ever that day comes?

WYDEN:  What I can tell you is, we‘re trying to get the changes that are going to make this bill work for the typical American.  This cake is not yet baked, Keith.  There is a long way to go.  We‘ve got to change the McCarran-Ferguson Law to increase competition.  We‘ve got to make sure that all Americans, not just a few, have the public option.

I want to make sure that consumers can deliver an ultimatum to their insurance company.  The way America works is when you have choice.  That‘s what happens in every other area of our economy.  I‘m going to make sure it happens in health insurance, too.

OLBERMANN:  Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon—great thanks for your time tonight.

WYDEN:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  And good luck with the baking.

WYDEN:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  For more on the politics and the baking, let‘s call in our own Eugene Robinson, associate editor, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of “The Washington Post.”

Gene, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  All right.  How do you think this is going to play out?  I mean, the baking analogies altogether, is it—is it possible that conservative Democrats will not let the bill get the up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate?  Or is it possible that progressive Democrats will wind up killing the bill?

ROBINSON:  Well, you know, I‘ve given up predicting on this thing. 

And, I guess, anything is possible.

I have to believe that, in the end, both conservative Democrats and progressive Democrats will realize that the prime imperative—if only in self-interest, political self-interest—is to get a bill—get a bill done.

And I think there‘s probably a way to finesse the Stupak language.  I‘m not sure what the Hatch language is going to look like.  I think there is—Senator Wyden is an expert in this field and he raises many very good points that really haven‘t been addressed in the House legislation.  I don‘t know if they‘re all going to be addressed in the Senate and he may have to—he may face a real choice.  I don‘t know that he‘s going to get everything, all the reasonable things that he wants to see in the legislation.

OLBERMANN:  You mentioned the Stupak Amendment.  I couldn‘t believe it was possible it was going to pass in the House.  Do you think it‘s plausible that Republicans and enough Democrats would get a similar thing, a Hatch amendment tack on to this bill in the Senate?

ROBINSON:  I think it‘s less possible in the Senate.  I think, Democratic senators do—if they have statewide constituencies.  They raise money in different ways from House members.  They really have to listen to groups like NARAL and pro-choice groups that are a major and active and vocal constituency of the Democratic Party.  And so, it‘s difficult for me to envision them going the full Stupak.

Now, maybe there‘s some way you can—you can insert some language that says, you know, we intend the Hyde Amendment to apply here, but fudges the way it actually applies.

OLBERMANN:  I think we‘ve used—I hope you use it in future

reference, full Stupak.  I think that‘s a new term for the next year‘s

Oxford phrase of the year.


OLBERMANN:  We had 1,000 people in New Orleans, as we mentioned, at the free health care clinic on Saturday.  There are 700 who‘d already signed up for Little Rock this weekend.  The Republicans are planning to introduce this Stupak-Hatch version setting back, one way or the other, no matter how they might disguise it, setting back the rights of choice for women.

How can this not be a win-win for Democrats to pull together?  How—how could they find this very narrow opportunity to screw this up?

ROBINSON:  I don‘t know.  You know, they have a nose for it.


ROBINSON:  They have an instinct for it.  But, look—you know, let‘s put politics aside for a second.  A thousand people in New Orleans, 700 sign up for Little Rock.  I mean, it‘s just illustrates the very, very human cost of doing nothing.  It illustrates this ridiculous situation in the United States of America where people have to sign up for a free health clinic because that‘s the only way they can get health care.

And to read the accounts of the event in New Orleans and the conditions that people had when they came in that hadn‘t been diagnosed, that hadn‘t been treated, blood pressure of 220/180 or whatever, just because they don‘t have regular health care.  This is an outrage.  It‘s an abomination.

And there is a moral duty here, not just on Democrats, but on Republicans as well, to do something.

OLBERMANN:  Two-eighty over 180.

Do you know why there was only 1,000 in New Orleans?  Why, there was -

·         there was an opportunity to do more but so much medical equipment.  The people were there, the volunteers were there.  But there‘s still so much medical equipment that was destroyed in Katrina that has not been replaced that it wasn‘t just possible to get, you know, a few extra dental chairs—

I‘m just using that example off the top of my head.  That‘s how bad the situation is, that even the supposed infrastructure stuff that‘s everywhere that you could just borrow doesn‘t exist in some places.

ROBINSON:  It really does and New Orleans is another whole story.  The rebuilding, that really hasn‘t taken place.  And, you know, is there a full service—real full service hospital inside the city limits of New Orleans right now?


ROBINSON:  I don‘t think there is and certainly not the public hospital that there used to be.  So, that‘s, you know—I don‘t want to say it‘s for another day because it should be for today.

OLBERMANN:  Exactly.

ROBINSON:  It should be for last year.  But, it is—it‘s another issue.

OLBERMANN:  Gene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of “The Washington Post,” and MSNBC—as always, great thanks, Gene.  Have a good night.

ROBINSON:  Great to be here, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Again, we want to remind you of the free health care clinics funded by COUNTDOWN viewers.  The next one is this weekend in Little Rock.  Next month, there will be a two-day fair in Kansas City.

You can go to for information on how to schedule an appointment.  You can also find out how to volunteer or to donate to this cause.  You can also learn more on our Web site:

And I read something amazing online today about these free clinics.  It was about how we were exploiting poor people.  Well, there‘s no exploitation obviously, the patients are not asked to join any group.  They don‘t have to be a member of one political party or any political party.  We don‘t even ask if they watch the show.

In fact, “The New Orleans Times-Picayune‘s” coverage of the event there did not mention our connection to it.  And that‘s fine with us.

But more importantly, the other half of the right-wing spin, “exploiting poor people,” these aren‘t poor people.  A nurse working three jobs ineligible for employer-supplied health care, he‘s not poor.  And that is the most galling part of the arguments of those defending the status quo, that those seeking are somehow on the fringes of society, somehow responsible for their predicament.  They are not.

The status quo is somebody who could not wrap her mind around that in

1,000 years of real hard thinking is named Sarah Palin and she has shot her

big mouth off, again, today.  And we will dissect that which she expelled -

·         next.



OLBERMANN:  Fiction is populated with the congenital liar, the person who will claim anything like they were married to Morgan Fairchild, or they came back from the dead once.  And if caught, they just move on to the next lie.

There are real life examples—a famous TV figure was once seen by old friends dressed up in typical runners gear.  “I never knew you ran,” one of them said.  “Yes, eight miles a day.  Got to get started,” he answered and took off.  Five minutes later, his friends among him a block away, bent over in exhaustion.  “So, I was lying,” he said.  “So what?”

After today‘s installment, you begin to wonder if that is the real story of the former governor of Alaska.  Oh, and the guy on FOX just said he doesn‘t care about the Constitution, which in this context is nice, because it‘s obviously been true for a long time, he just wouldn‘t say it.

You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN:  As we previously noted on this newshour, the McCain-Palin campaign‘s polling went into the toilet, not because the economy did, but beforehand, after the convention bounce, after people began to get to know Sarah Palin.

And in our fourth story: She returns to sell her book.  It seems to be happening again.  And not just at the polls, also at the cash register.

A CBS poll finds only 23 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the former governor of Alaska.  The same as when she quit that job in July:

38 percent have an unfavorable view, including 36 percent of independents, as opposed to 21 percent of independents who view her favorably.  People who read don‘t seem too thrilled with her, either.

Walmart having dropped her book‘s pre-ordered price from $28.99 down to $10, I‘m sorry, down to $9 -- wait, $8.98 as of November 5th.  One theory, maybe nobody believes her anymore.  It‘s a strong possibility given the impossibility of tracking all her lies in the book, and then promoting it.

The Sarah Palin dishonesty tracking center is working overtime—is that Andrew Sullivan next to the guys from “The Associated Press” back there?

Some of the findings we reported yesterday, plus what we have time for now, just the tip of a very large iceberg.  To her credit, the lies just play no partisan bias.  She lies to the right-wing and mainstream alike, mostly that we know of about the campaign for which there is plenty or rebuttal evidence—much of it, from her own words.

We told you, last night, Palin claims she wanted to do “Saturday Night Live” while her own emails from the time said otherwise.  Today, on ABC, Palin complained that “Saturday Night Live” made up things she never said, apparently saying so oblivious to the definition of parody.  She strongly implied that she never said anything like, “I can see Russia from my house.”


PALIN:  I think there was a blurred line there between what Tina Fey was parodying and saying and what I ever said.  Let‘s take, for instance, she‘s saying, “I can see Russia from my house,” pretending that she was me.

TINA FEY, ACTRESS:  And I can see Russia from my house.


PALIN:  Of course, I never said that.  And yet the line was blurred and I think people, because it was repeated so often, perhaps people believed that I had said such a thing.


OLBERMANN:  People did not believe you said such a thing because it was repeated so often.  It was repeated so often not only because it rang true as good parody does, but because, in fact, you did say such a thing.  In fact, you said something far worse, saying straight face that seeing Russia from your state made you qualified to deal with Russia‘s invasion of Georgia, which is nowhere near Alaska.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?

PALIN:  They‘re our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.


OLBERMANN:  Some of her lies are clearly spur of the moment, attempts to make herself look better, for instance, in the clip that you‘re about see, Palin either lies to Oprah Winfrey—and you don‘t lie to Oprah Winfrey, oh, no—or she reveals that she lied to the McCain campaign.  The context was Palin telling Oprah Winfrey that after she told a reporter she disagreed with the campaign decision not to fight for Michigan, she defended herself against campaign staff criticism by saying in essence, “Well, I only told the reporter that because this was the first I was hearing about Michigan, “ that it was the reporter who told her.


PALIN:  For instance, they‘re saying, “What do you think about the campaign pulling out of Michigan?”  And I think, “Darn, I wish we weren‘t.  Every vote matters.  I can‘t wait to get back to Michigan” and then told afterwards that, “Oh, you screwed up, you went rogue on us, Sarah.  You‘re not supposed to be.”  And my reminder to the campaign was, “I didn‘t know we pulled out of Michigan.  My entire V.P. team, we didn‘t know that we had pulled out.  I‘m sorry, I apologize, but seeking candidly to a reporter.

OPRAH WINFREY, TV TALK SHOW HOST:  You heard it for the first time.

PALIN:  Right.  Right.


OLBERMANN:  So, she told the McCain campaign or told Oprah Winfrey that she did, quote, “ I didn‘t know we pulled out of Michigan.”  Surprise, that‘s not what she told a reporter who asked her about Michigan.  She not only told him she already had read the news but said that it was not a surprise.


PALIN:  Well, that‘s not a surprise because, you know, the polls are showing we are not doing as well there evidently as we would like to.  But I read that this morning, also.


OLBERMANN:  And then there are the truly inexplicable lies—the lies that seem to serve no purpose unless she thinks they will please her audience of the moment.  CBS News reports that Sarah Palin herself told the McCain campaign that her daughter Bristol was pregnant.  She told Miss Winfrey she was surprised the McCain campaign knew that.


WINFREY:  I would have thought that you‘d have been concerned about them finding out about Bristol‘s pregnancy.  Weren‘t you surprised that they knew?  Because, at the time, only the family knew.

PALIN:  I was surprised that they knew.


OLBERMANN:  Perhaps strange still are the gratuitously lies that serve no purpose and that no one outside her family could disprove who, for instance, could possibly say whether she held a family vote on whether she should run for vice president.  And she‘s stuck with just one answer no email nor disgruntled aide could say otherwise.  The only person in this case who could reveal that truth simply does not matter to her is her.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS:  What was your family‘s reaction to it?  Was there time to huddle and have a hockey team meeting?

PALIN:  It was the time of asking the girls to vote on it anyway and they voted unanimously, yes.

WINFREY:  Did you gather the family together to talk about or was there a family vote or discussion?

PALIN:  This time, there wasn‘t a family vote.


OLBERMANN:  The word salad continues today, Sarah Palin meets the man who said the book was one of the most substantive policy books he‘s read in the long time.  It‘s Orly Taitz Limbaugh, and given his grasp for policy, I‘m going to say that‘s not only probably true, in fact, it maybe the only policy book he‘s ever read.  Next.


OLBERMANN:  She has been reliving and rewriting McCain campaign history over the past 24 hours.  You‘ve seen how well that‘s gone, called with a variety of words, on the record, a liar.  Now, she attempts to revamp her foreign policy credentials.

In our third story on the COUNTDOWN: Sarah Palin goes rogue with the facts.  Now, we‘ll have the Palin analysis.

But first, after lying to Barbara Walters, saying she never linked her foreign policy credentials to Alaska‘s proximity to Russia, Palin takes another crack at policymaking, this time in an interview with Orly Taitz Limbaugh—paging Dick Cheney.


PALIN (via telephone):  I think domestically, a threat that we‘re facing right now is the dithering and hesitation in sending a message to the terrorists that we‘re going to—we are going to claim what Ronald Reagan claimed.  Our motto is going to be: “We win, you lose.”  The way that we do that is allow McChrystal to have the reinforcements that he‘s asking for in Afghanistan.  That sends that message to the terrorists over there that, now, we‘re going to end this thing with our victory.


OLBERMANN:  Joining me now: Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis.

Chris, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  But Ronald Reagan didn‘t claim anything of the kind—I mean, after the barracks were bombed in Beirut, he pledged to bring those responsible to justice and to keep U.S. troops in Lebanon and to keep U.S.  policy intact.  And three months later, he pulled them all out.  I mean, I don‘t mind a liar as much as I mind, you know, a stupid, uninformed cliff notes version gratuitous liar and that‘s what Sarah Palin is.

KOFINIS:  Yes, I think you‘re actually being generous in the terms of saying that she reads cliff notes.  Here is—here is the problem I have.  You know, here is a person who is potentially running for president, was clearly a vice president candidate, and seems absolutely cavalier and indifferent about the facts.

And—I mean, you really kind of think—I think it puts the Katie Couric interview in a little bit of perspective when she asked, “What do you read?”  I mean, clearly, she doesn‘t read very much in terms of either history or policy or whatever it might be.  And that would be OK if she‘s just a personality who wants to sell books. 

But this is someone who appears to be running for president again.  And when you are that cavalier with the truth, it‘s just downright dangerous. 

OLBERMANN:  Place mats, she reads place mats. 

The CBS news poll -- 66 percent of Americans do not want her to run for president.  Do not want her to run for president.  These are, you know, Dick Cheney-like numbers.  Is there a prospect of a book tour and thus TV tour most on friendly really venues capable of changing any of that one way or the other? 

KOFINIS:  Maybe she‘s striving for 100 percent not to vote for her. 

But putting it aside, listen, we are going through Palin-palooza because she clearly has in my opinion political ambitions.

And here is when you step back and look at this objectively, you ask yourself is there a way she‘s the nominee, could she win the presidency?  And the reality is there would have to be a biblical plague that would have to affect the country for her to have a pathway to the presidency. 

But when you talk the Republican nomination, that‘s where it becomes easier for her to win, because you only need maybe 25 percent or 30 percent of the Republican vote.  And because it‘s winner take all in these primary states, she could win the primary.  She could win the nomination. 

That‘s what I think this book tour and this PR strategy is all about. 

OLBERMANN:  She told Limbaugh the key for the Republicans to attract independents, which she‘s apparently not doing, is to not hesitate duking it out within the party.  Is this perhaps the ultimate impact of this?  The more Sarah Palin there is, the more New York 23rds there are, the more electable Republicans are thrown under the bus in favor of non-electable conservatives? 

KOFINIS:  Listen, if Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh really believe that strategy, more power to them.  I want them to execute it all over the country every single day through the midterms.  It is a recipe for electoral disaster.

You can‘t win unless you appeal to independents.  And when independents look at the Republican Party and not only see a party that has moved to the far right, but a Republican Party that‘s in the midst of a civil war where it‘s eating its own, that is not a recipe for electoral success. 

And so it just shows you again not only Rush Limbaugh‘s lack of understanding of politics, but it shows you the real kind of strategy Sarah Palin is following here.  This has nothing to do about larger ambitions other than trying to figure out a pathway to appeal to conservatives in order to have a shot to win the Republican nomination. 

OLBERMANN:  Lastly, why did she drag Tina Fey back into this?  Did she not know it would turn up in one sketch this year on “Saturday Night Live”?  They have to do it. 

KOFINIS:  I‘m going to give a piece of advice to every politicians, don‘t attack comedians, because comedians can have the last laugh.  What she was doing is sarcasm.  Of course comedians are going to stretch the truth.

But here‘s the irony, she was really stretching the truth.  When it comes to Sarah Palin, the funny thing is truth is funny.  And that‘s what‘s say about her performance.  I think what we are witnessing in Sarah Palin is the “People” magazining of American politics.  Let‘s hope it doesn‘t go any farther than Sarah.

OLBERMANN:  When you see it, you are supposed to react to it.  Not to pat myself too strongly on the back, but you are supposed to do what I did when Ben Affleck portrayed me, not every moment of which I enjoyed, which was eight and a half minutes of publicity on “Saturday Night Live.”

Anyway, as always, thank you, Chris Kofinis. 

KOFINIS:  Thanks, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Why is the “New York Post” suddenly calling FOX News “conservative” on a regular basis?  Could it be because Bill O the clown just announced he doesn‘t care about the constitution?  Not metaphorically.  He said “I don‘t care about the constitution.” 

And if you think Carrie Prejean is bad enough, how about Congresswoman Carrie Prejean.  And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, one of the men who used to try to stir up the far right until he realized he was precipitating violence sees more than bad taste in Glenn Beck comparing the administration to Roman Polanski and the country to a 13-year-old girl.


OLBERMANN:  Bests in a moment. 

And he concedes his own concession might have been premature, so maybe he‘ll un-concede later, or re-concede. 

First for “Countdown‘s” plug of the week.  “Happiness is like a cur dog.”  A phrase chosen by former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher and long time broadcaster Nelly King.  He chose that for his warm, gentle recollection of 30 years in the sport from a time when players had three jobs—playing, plus whatever they did in the off season to make ends meet plus their 24-7 job of getting big league teams to know they were there. 

Great book available from Amazon and such or most economically from the publisher, and type in “Cur” in the search engine. 

Let‘s play Odd Ball. 

Welcome to an all criminal mastermind edition of Odd Ball, which begins in Portugal.  There an evil genius has developed a laser that disintegrates the top half of the—wait, he‘s moving.  We are seeing 11 years in this shot.  He tried to break into a supermarket after it was closed. 

After all that except that window there was closed, when he became trapped.  He struggled to free himself.  He caused his pants to come off, a well known phenomenon to anyone who has every watched Benny Hill.  The man spent 11 hours like that, then two more while firefighters worked to get him free.  And by free, I mean in handcuffs going to prison. 

Criminal mastermind number two at least got away with it for now.  He made one tiny error.  Not the first to do this.  A psychiatrist would have a field day. 

First he helped himself to eight digital cameras.  But at some point he used one of them to take a picture, and he left that one behind.  What was the picture?  Did it hold a clue to his identity, perhaps?  You could say that.  Police are now looking for, well—them. 

Finally, we go to Spokane, Washington, where the criminals are so smart they are trying to cut out all those expensive middlemen in the criminal justice system.  The SUV in this video is stolen.  Where did the car thief drive it to?  This is the Spokane County jail.  Specifically it‘s the prisoner intake area. 

Good news on this one, they caught the guy. 

Bill O seems to be threatening to drown Nancy Pelosi while announcing he doesn‘t care about the constitution.  Worst Persons ahead. 

Plus, the Oxford press chooses as it‘s second best word of the year. 

I guess the word is official, “tea bagger.”  We didn‘t introduce it here. 

Actually the right wing rangers did this to themselves.

“Dateline,” New York, best in-house cat fight.  Rupert Murdoch‘s New York post versus the FOX Noise.  November 13 in “The Post,” left-leaning MSNBC and conservative FOX News Channel, November 16, “Conservative FOX News and liberal MSNBC.” 

But wait.  FOX News calls itself fair and balanced, not conservative. 

Fox News is always right, isn‘t it? 

Number two best admission you do not know what you are doing.  Doug Hoffman, the conservative candidate who first knocked out the Republican candidate then lost the seat to the Democrat.  He conceded to winner Bill Owens.  Then he said he was un-conceding, egged on to this by his patron Glenn Beck because there were absentee votes yet to be counted. 

Now he says he has not un-conceded, but he reserves the right to un-concede later.  He‘s un-un-conceded, by might yet un-un-un-un-concede.  We established this yesterday.  Mr. Beck gets his knowledge of this country‘s laws from a guy who reads them to him of the Gibb‘s place mats at Victor‘s.

You can un-concede all you want.  The other guy has been sworn in. 

Game over, man. 

“Dateline” west Jordan, Utah, number one best political miscalculation.  Congressman Jason Chaffetz suggesting the disgraced ex-Miss California Carrie “multiple sex-tapes” Prejean would make a good candidate for public office.  She has the ability to draw crowds—apparently so.

And she has strong message—for a second I thought it said “massage,” I‘m sorry.  She has a strong message to go with that.  She has star power which can open doors.  We all made mistakes when we were 17. 

The sex tape is going to be an impediment, but people are excited about her

·         oh, about her convictions and beliefs.  Tapes, plural, says the recipient of the tapes.

And still Congressman Chaffetz is missing the point.  The point isn‘t the woman is prejudiced or her misreading of where the country is heading on this one issue, or ever the sex tapes.  The point is this.


CARRIE PREJEAN, FORMER MISS CALIFORNIA:  We were so excited to meet the Donald at the time.  He just came out there and meeted us, and shook our hands, and we were so excited to meet him. 


OLBERMANN:  “He just came out there and meeted us.”  Congresswoman Prejean.  We already have one of those.  Her name is Palin. 


OLBERMANN:  Well, there‘s no getting around it.  It was the protester themselves that called themselves “tea baggers.”  Then when they found out that word had another meaning, they blamed everybody else for calling them that.  Well, sir, not it‘s in the dictionary. 

Plus the buffoon congressman who held up somebody else‘s daughter as a political human shield the other weeks now claims that with the terrorist trial shifted to New York, the daughters of that mayor of that city might be kidnapped by terrorists.  That congressman has seen all the “Die Hard “movies.    

Worst Persons, next.


OLBERMANN:  “Birther,” “sexting,” “tramp stamp.”  But the final choice for the Oxford Press new word of the year came down to “unfriend” versus “tea bagger.”  The tea baggers did accomplish something. 

Now for Worst Persons in the world.  The bronze to Congressman John Shadegg of Arizona, one of the so-called “gang of six idiots.”  This is the congressman on the Justice Department‘s decision to try the terrorists in New York. 


REP. JOHN SHADEGG, ® ARIZONA:  I saw what the mayor of New York said today, we‘re tough.  We can do it. 

Well, mayor, how are you going to feel when it‘s your daughter who is kidnapped at school by a terrorist?  How are you going to feel when it‘s some clerk of the court whose daughter or son is kidnapped, or the judge‘s wife, or the jailers little brother or little sister? 


OLBERMANN:  Firstly, Mayor Bloomberg had nothing to do with the decision, Congressman.  But more importantly, you are saying Congressman Shadegg seems familiar from somewhere, right? 


SHADEGG:  This is Mattie.  Mattie believes in freedom.  Mattie likes America because we have freedom here, and Mattie believes in patient choice health care. 


OLBERMANN:  That‘s where Shadegg thought up that tasteless image of the kidnapping of the mayor‘s daughter after he hijacked a staffer‘s daughter and used her as a human shield and political prop. 

Runner up, Bill O., the clown.  And now, we come down to the brass tax. 

Napolitano—“There was no declaration of war.”  “So because there was no declaration of war, you say that any terror, and surely 9/11 fits the bill on a terrorist act.”

Napolitano—“But it is not I who is saying it.  It is the constitution that is saying it.”  “I don‘t care about the constitution.”

Napolitano—“I do.”  “The constitution isn‘t here.  You‘re here, so don‘t be a pinhead.”

So when you ask why does Bill O‘Reilly hate America, he has now provided you an answer.  It is because, quote, “I don‘t care about the constitution.”  And if you say what‘s in the constitution is decisive in an argument, he‘ll call you a pinhead. 

Believe it or not, it gets worse.  Our winner—double big giant header.  Glenn Beck says—

“Last week I heard you say that you were on the Dennis Miller Show. 

You two were talking about an insurrection coming.”

O‘Reilly, “Tax revolt.”

“He used the word “insurrection,” and not in a comedic way.”

“Yes, tax revolt.  I think people when they figure out had badly they‘re going to get hurt in the next few years, there‘s going to be a tea party on taxes.  Then it‘s going to get nasty.  Nancy Pelosi will be bobbing up and down in Boston Harbor.”

This was so bad, Glenn Beck answered, “Uh, I don‘t think that‘s necessary.”  Glenn Beck tried to be the rational one. 

So, in one day, O‘Reilly advises that he does not care about the constitution and that his supporters will wind up throwing the Speaker of the House into the Boston Harbor, a reminder that this is from the great self-appointed defender of law and order. 

If anybody else had said what O‘Reilly had said about the constitution and about, say Speaker Hastert, O‘Reilly would have called for their arrest.  Bill O., the fraud, today‘s worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN:  The Republicans have, for many months now, put on a pedestal a hard right group whose name unintentionally evokes an action that cannot be described on television.  In our number one story in the countdown, the GOP has now, with a little help from us, officially co-opted the word “tea bagger.”  It is runner of for Oxford‘s word of the year. 

It was Republicans who embraced tea bag as their symbol with tax day protests of President Obama‘s agenda, and it was Republicans who cluelessly referred to tea bagging as if it had no prior meaning.  It was they who openly used the phrase that begged for double entendres. 

The Republican talking heads like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have pushed their own vision of tea bagging down the throats of the original tea baggers who were in fact Libertarian supporters of Ron Paul.  Cincinnati tea baggers got a Boehner endorsement from the House Minority leader. 

And the nation‘s tea bagging, of course, impossible without this man, Dick Armey, at the head of it.

“Tea bagger” used as a noun was the natural result.  It just goes to show you, if you use the word tea bagger over and over, it swiftly takes on a brand-new meaning, somehow. 

But first, the entry that Oxford University Press chose as word of the year 2009, “unfriend,” as in “I decided to unfriend Newt Gingrich on my Facebook page after he supported Dede Scozzafava.” 

Although the youngsters on the staff have informed me that “defriend” is the more common term for that, so there might be another vote on this. 

But the most notable runner up for the new Oxford American dictionary is “tea bagger,” which Oxford defines as quote, oh, goodness, “A person who protests President Obama‘s tax policies and stimulus packages often through local demonstrations known as tea party protests in allusion to the Boston tea party of 1773.”

Some of the other most recognizable runners up for word of the year, “birther,” and “death panel,” and from other categories, “sexting,” sexually explicit texts, and “deleb,” dead celebrity.  I hadn‘t heard that one.

Let‘s turn now to MSNBC Political analyst and author of “Renegade” Richard Wolffe, and also senior strategist at public strategies.  Richard, good evening. 


OLBERMANN:  “Tea bagger: as part of the political fabric.  I think “countdown” deserves a footnote of credit, if credit is the word for it, for that particular evolution of etymology, don‘t you? 

WOLFFE:  I think my friends at Oxford may have a tea fixation, at least I hope it‘s that and not the other thing. 


In any case, there is this tradition at the OUP, the Oxford University Press, that you can write in and claim usage, first usage, which you may or may not want to do. 

OLBERMANN:  With all due respect to Oxford University Press, its definition has scrubbed away the prior meaning of the word, and in so doing, the attendant cluelessness of those who embraced this word in its new meaning, is this going to impede future historians both of the language and of the politics of our time? 

WOLFFE:  Well, it‘s a family book.  I suppose there‘s that consideration out there. 


But, you know, there are other ways they can commemorate this whole thing.  That‘s what the Internet is particularly good for. 

I hope the history goes beyond the very hard book that‘s the Oxford University Press dictionary. 

OLBERMANN:  On a more serious note, as the news of the day becomes history, what will tea baggers become most known for?  For fracturing the Republican Party or offering a welcome home to a new and ugly strain of racism?  What is this word going to mean 100 years from now? 

WOLFFE:  Here is a point of similarity with Sarah Palin.  There is this uncontrollable factor, undisciplined factor about the whole movement, which I think is a kind of weapon of mass destruction about the Republican Party. 

This is not a movement and she‘s not a potential candidate that is really interested in anything other than themselves, the spectacle.  And so organizing around this loose collection of stuff is not the same as organizing for an election or for victory.  And that‘s something the Republican Party has to grapple with. 

OLBERMANN:  And yet they are already grappling with this in the way that the left used to be made fun of, those who adhered to different arguments over which word should go in front of another in quotations from Marx or someone like him.

With many famous or sometimes infamous movements, there‘s already disagreement over who the true tea baggers are and who are the poseurs.  Will that be settled anytime soon? 

WOLFFE:  This is about ideological purity just as it was on the left.  And it was as divisive then as it is now.  This is not, again, a path to victory. 

But if it‘s any consolation, they should let it steep a little longer, and maybe the brew will become the potent force they hope it is. 

OLBERMANN:  But what prevents in politics or anything else that reduction to the natural conclusion, which is that if it‘s about ideological purity, don‘t you eventually just get left with one person in the movement because no two people agree on everything all the time? 

WOLFFE:  Well, it‘s certainly not the path they took in the Reagan years, which is what Palin says she wants to celebrate.  If they are going to drive people out of the party who can get elected, then they are really hurting themselves and hurting their own party. 

In the end, though, they are not interested in the party.  This is an anti-incumbent mood.  It‘s as if the mood for change, the desire for change wasn‘t satisfied in 2008. 

Who knows where it leads, but it‘s not good for Republican candidates.  And if they have national ambitions then they will see this force for what it is. 

OLBERMANN:  Now we know why Sarah Palin resigned, so she wouldn‘t be an incumbent.  Richard Wolffe of MSNBC, author of “Renegade,” also with public strategies.  As always, great thanks. 

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s “Countdown” for this 2,392 day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. 



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