Guests: Richard Wolffe, Howard Fineman, Eugene Robinson, Sen. Ron Wyden
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
An actual vote in the Senate on the health care bill? The mammograms amendment has passed.
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SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: The first and only plan Senate Republicans bothered to draft is an instructional manual on how to bring the Senate to a screeching halt.
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OLBERMANN: The author of that manual is shocked—shocked to discover that anybody has figured out what he‘s trying to do.
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SEN. JUDD GREGG ®, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Is it not reasonable that we should have a full, complete and fair debate on this health care bill?
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OLBERMANN: For the next 75 years.
Our special guest, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.
Senator Franken pushes a bill to defend employees of contractors like KBR from being raped by their co-workers, then from having co-workers defended by KBR and themselves threatened. The Republicans claim this is political grandstanding. Rape rationalizing, Republicans claim it‘s political grandstanding?
“You want me to take a photograph with you? You betcha, I‘m your hero. That will be $16.” Sister Sarah charging her fans for personal photos.
“Worsts”: Candidate Lou loses part of the racist anti-immigration vote. And Cluster FOX does it again, editing a clip from Jon Stewart to make him look like a climate change denier.
And Caddyshack-ing up. The original member of the foursome recants her denial, then cancels her news conference. And then our friends at Apple Daily introduce us anew to the future of television news.
OLBERMANN: How long until there‘s a version of this for Wii? Three woods, five woods, Elin Woods, Tiger Woods.
All the news and commentary - now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIGER WOODS, GOLFER: I really don‘t feel like playing anymore.
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OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
After days of being slammed for stalling the health care debate, days in which not a single amendment was voted upon, even the ones they sponsored, Senate Republicans today angrily denied stalling and magically, the voting began.
Our fifth story tonight: As senators get their first chance to add to or subtract from the bill that Democratic Leader Harry Reid brought to the floor, we get our first glimpse at where the fault lines lie and who stands on which side.
But first, the closed-door action continues. Senator Jay
Rockefeller told reporters today about, quote, “a new initiative” on the public option upon which he would not elaborate, which he says is taking shape in meetings between progressives and conservative Democrats.
Democratic Whip Dick Durbin identifying the public option as one of two key issues standing between Democrats and the passage of their bill. The other issue: abortion is also at center stage today.
Democratic Senator Ben Nelson making explicit that he would join Republicans in preventing an up-or-down vote on the whole bill unless language restricting the federal funding of abortions is not dramatically strengthened.
In a victory for women today, the Senate voted to stop insurance companies from making female policyholders pay anything out-of-pocket for mammograms and other preventive services. All but three Republicans voted against that.
Suffering another loss: Senator John McCain. He had proposed stripping the bill of more than $400 billion in savings from federal Medicare spending after the AARP pointed that the bill targets waste and fraud without cutting a single guaranteed benefit.
And fellow Republican, Chuck “Kill Grandma” Grassley, rejected the GOP‘s own claim that these savings would kill senior citizens, McCain‘s amendment went down. The vote on McCain‘s amendment had been blocked by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, a revealing fact considering that yesterday, McCain reportedly said he had offered the amendment under direction of his party leadership.
Proving an amendment and then blocking a vote on it sounding suspiciously like stalling—a claim that Senator Reid made today, referencing a GOP memo he told you about yesterday.
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REID: The plan that we had hoped from the Republicans would be that
it would be a plan to make insurance more affordable, we wanted to make health insurance companies more accountable, and it would be a plan to reverse the rapidly rising health care costs and draw down our deficit. But, no, the Republican plan we‘ve waited weeks and months to see doesn‘t do any of those things. In fact, it‘s not even about health care at all—even though it‘s on the health care bill, this plan that they‘ve outlined.
The first and only plan Senate Republicans bothered to draft is an instructional manual on how to bring the Senate to a screeching halt. We knew that was happening anyway, but they had the audacity to put it in writing.
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OLBERMANN: Senator Judd Gregg, author of the memo, responded slowly.
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GREGG: It is ironic, is it not, that the majority leader would come to the floor and complain about an innocuous statement which outlines the rules that members of the Senate have—a statement which I suspect he actually would pass out to his members for information were they in the minority, maybe even in the majority. Isn‘t there an ironic inconsistency to his outrage on the fact that we have suggested that people should know the rules here, while he has basically tried to go around the rules?
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OLBERMANN: Who do you think you‘re talking to, third graders?
Innocuous? Just outlining the rules?
Some snippets. “A point of order—with or without cause.” “Unlimited number of amendments—germane or non-germane.” “Delay is created by the two roll call votes.” “Time-consuming motions can also be used to extend consideration.”
Joining us now from the Senate debate is Oregon Democrat, Ron Wyden.
Senator, thanks for your time tonight.
SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Delays delayed. Let‘s talk first about the specifics of this latest version of the trigger now under consideration for the public option. What can you tell us about it?
WYDEN: We‘ve got to make sure, Keith, that the public option has real teeth in it. We‘ve got to make sure that it‘s within reach of all Americans, because the bottom line is the consumer ought to have the chance to give the insurance industry an ultimatum. That ultimatum ought to be “Treat me right or I‘m taking my business elsewhere.”
We‘re willing to look at a variety of different approaches to doing this, but ultimately, the public option has got to be about having choices for the consumer to hold the insurance industry accountable.
OLBERMANN: How do you get that and Olympia Snowe, too?
WYDEN: My sense is that we‘re going to have some pretty passionate discussions over the next few days. But ultimately, this is about holding the insurance companies accountable. If at the end of the day, a single mom who, for example, isn‘t eligible for subsidies, doesn‘t have choices—that‘s not going to do it. I wanted to see McCarran-Ferguson be changed so we lift this ridiculous rule that doesn‘t apply the antitrust provisions to the insurance industry.
But we‘ve got to have real choice. It‘s got to have real teeth.
And it‘s got to be within reach of the public.
Right now, the Congressional Budget Office says that only about 3 million people would even be able to take the public option. That‘s not good enough.
OLBERMANN: Is it a zero sum game? Do you—to get Snowe, do you have to lose Sherrod Brown or vice versa? Or can there be something found that will allow people who vote for it to say, “Yes, this is a public option,” and to believe it and for it to be a public option, and for those who voted against it or those who voted reluctantly for it say, “No, it‘s not that big a deal”? In other words, can it be phrased in such a way that it is palatable to those right on the borderline of yes or no?
WYDEN: I believe it can. And I think there‘s a lot of goodwill on all sides, because at the end of the day, the American people know that it is time to turn the tables on the insurance industry. What the insurance industry has been doing in many respects is inhumane. They‘ve been cherry-picking. They take just the healthy people, send the sick people over to government programs more fragile than they are.
It‘s going to be a challenge to bring together 60 votes. I believe it can be done, because there are senators of both parties who believe it‘s time to hold the insurance industry accountable.
OLBERMANN: Senator, “Politico” quotes Senator Boxer responding to this Ben Nelson filibuster threat over the abortion language. She says, “I think he has said different things at different times.” Can you either elaborate upon or dispute her implication there?
WYDEN: I do believe that it is going to be possible. And Senator Nelson has strong views about this. I respect it—to appreciate the rough consensus we have in this country.
We ought to protect a woman‘s right to choose. We certainly shouldn‘t turn the clock back on this. And also, there is the Hyde Amendment which bars federal funds for abortion.
I think it‘s possible to write into the text of this bill, the rough consensus that I‘ve described and get health reform out of the United States Senate by the end of this year. You look at the past week, it took us four days, for example, to move just a handful of amendments.
You commented on this manual on obstructionism. For some of these folks, putting out a manual on obstructionism is like offering swim lessons to dolphins. Of course, they‘re good at obstructing. That‘s something that they feel strongly about. They‘re entitled to have their opinion heard, but not open-ended delay.
OLBERMANN: Why did they do it for three days and then stop? Did something change? And do you think the Republicans are going to plan a sit-in now or perhaps will they lie down in front of your car?
WYDEN: I think the American people are watching that we want to have a real debate on this. The American people aren‘t interested in robocalls and they aren‘t interested in campaigning. That‘s for the political consultants.
United States senators are supposed to have debates. We‘re supposed to make sure that all sides have a chance to air views and then we vote.
OLBERMANN: Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon—as always, great thanks for stepping out for a moment and joining us.
WYDEN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s assess the political state of play now with MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman, also senior Washington correspondent and political “Newsweek” at—political columnist at “Newsweek” magazine. He‘s the entire magazine himself.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It‘s a mouthful. It is a mouthful.
OLBERMANN: No, no, just cutting to the chase. It‘s “Howard Fineman-week.”
OLBERMANN: Good morning, Howard.
FINEMAN: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s pick up where Senator Wyden went off, the Republicans stalling. Anything to add about this?
FINEMAN: Yes, I think—a couple things. First of all, the role of John McCain is fascinating.
OLBERMANN: Yes, he just mentioned—he didn‘t say it, but he mentioned it. The robocalls are a reference to John McCain in Arizona, correct?
FINEMAN: Yes, exactly.
And, you know, McCain—some people thought, me naively being one of them, back after the election, that McCain might have been an ally and gold soldier with Barack Obama in a spirit of bipartisanship. What a fantasy that was. That‘s all over with. McCain is the point of the lance here.
The Republican strategy, at least this week, in addition to the delay, is to try to gin up as many votes on Medicare, any permutations and combinations, Medicare and Medicare Advantage, Medicare or any spending of Medicare, to force Democrats into the position, especially ones up for re-election in swing states, of having to say, “Yes, we need to make some cuts in some spending related to Medicare.” Then come the 30-second ads and robocalls. And that‘s what John McCain is up to. That‘s really a big part of the whole Republican strategy right now.
OLBERMANN: The new, new, new public option and its new trigger, the politics in a second, but obviously, Senator Rockefeller wouldn‘t say anything about it. I just tried it with Senator Wyden with rare failure.
OLBERMANN: Not on my part but he‘s usually very, very detail-oriented.
What—do we know anything about it? Or why is it a secret?
FINEMAN: Well, it‘s a secret because Harry Reid is involved, the Democratic leader. They know how important this is. They got to get some version of a public option in there to ensure that something comes out of the conference committee, if they ever get to conference with House and Senate, that there‘s some form of public option in the final legislation that they vote on.
Harry Reid‘s people say there are three key things: abortion, public option, and taxes. There are half a dozen different permutations and combinations here, Keith, over who funds the public option. Is it, quote, “community-based” in some way, some mix of public and private and yet publicly supported, or federal money? That‘s one.
Number two: the timing. When does it come in? That‘s the whole trigger thing.
And then the third thing is: is it opt-in or opt-out? That‘s the Rubik‘s cube they‘re working with. I don‘t know exactly what Rockefeller‘s plan is. It‘s yet another combination of those three things.
OLBERMANN: The politics of it, is there strategy to this if there is a bid for the Olympia Snowe‘s vote, Republican vote? Who is Reid counting as a “no” on his own side?
FINEMAN: Well, it‘s not clear. I think they were encouraged by the fact that Olympia Snowe was very much involved in the vote on the mammogram issue and some other things. It‘s clear that she is going to be in a constant state of play.
I mean, you‘re really looking at a universe, for the most part, of about half a dozen senators, Senator Snowe being one of the Republicans, perhaps Senator Collins. You know, on the Democratic side, you‘ve got Landrieu, you‘ve got Lincoln, you‘ve got Nelson. And then you‘ve got outliers occasionally, like Russ Feingold, who chimed in on the mammogram issue today.
I think what Reid‘s people tell me is that vote by vote, issue by issue, they‘re going to be sort of standing on the street corner, looking to lose one and looking to pick up one. It‘s impossible to say on any one vote who that will be. But if and when it comes down to a final vote, I think the person they‘re looking to on the Republican side is clearly Olympia Snowe, which is why they have to get some kind of language on public option since she‘s so out there committed in opposition to it to get her. That‘s what—that‘s what Rockefeller is working on right now.
OLBERMANN: Senators standing on street corners. I think we‘ve heard that before somewhere.
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” and also Howard Fineman magazine and MSNBC—thank you, Howard.
FINEMAN: Thank you. Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Then there was another Senate bill touching on women‘s health that has already passed. It would preclude the government giving contracts to companies which deny their female employees the right to sue for discrimination or sexual assault even. Thirty Republicans voted against it. They are now angry that they are being depicted as having voted to, in essence, protect rapists, this even though they voted, in essence, to protect rapists.
OLBERMANN: Thirty Senate Republicans claim they‘re being politically victimized just because there was a bill that would have made it impossible for government contractors to try to cover up the rapes of their female employees by their male employees, and Republicans voted against the bill and for the coverer-ups of the rapes.
Sarah Palin charging people at her book signings to take pictures with her.
And the new day has dawned. There is tonight a second Chinese newspaper computer recreation of the life and loves of Tiger Woods—which is not only kind of interesting by itself of which doubtless be the next thing in American TV news.
You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC—completely made by computer generated graphics.
OLBERMANN: Thirty Republican senators having voted against an amendment which would prevent the government from doing business with military contractors that deny their employees the right to sue for discrimination, including for sexual assault. Thirty Republican senators furious about the heat they have been taking ever since for putting corporate enablers of rape ahead of women who have been raped.
Thirty Republican senators now blaming, not themselves for the considerable fallout, but—in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN—targeting the Democrat who had deemed to introduce the amendment, restoring victims‘ rights if not common decency. That‘s right. They‘re blaming Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. And I‘m not kidding.
You will recall mortified by the story of former KBR-Halliburton employee Jamie Lee Jones, who alleged she had been drugged, beaten, and gang-raped at age 19 while working for the company in Baghdad, Senator Franken last month introduced his amendment to the Pentagon spending bill.
The measure passed 68 to 30. Ten Republicans voted yes, 30 voted no. Those Republicans now mightily steamed about how they are being portrayed for their votes, and because they say, Senator Franken is not doing enough to stop it.
Senator Graham of South Carolina suggesting it would be helpful for Senator Franken to come forward and say, “I‘m not suggesting that anybody who votes for my amendment is indifferent to crimes against women or anybody else.”
Senator Bond of Missouri is saying that from what he knows of Franken, he expected such tactics.
Some senators, like John Cornyn of Texas, alleging that Senator Franken isn‘t abiding by the unwritten rules of the Senate, quote, “trying to tap in to the natural sympathy that we have for this victim of this rape and used that as a justification to frankly misrepresent and embarrass his colleagues. I don‘t think it‘s a very constructive thing. I think it‘s going to make a lot of senators leery.”
Others, like Senator Thune of South Dakota, blaming the liberal blogosphere which apparently rules the world. Quote, “I don‘t know what his motivation was for taking us on. But I would hope that we won‘t see a lot of Daily Kos-inspired amendments in the future coming from him. I think hopefully he‘ll settle down and do kind of the serious work of legislation that‘s important to Minnesota.”
I guess he‘s saying rape isn‘t important to the voters of Minnesota.
Time now to call in our own Eugene Robinson, associate editor, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of “The Washington Post.”
Gene, good evening.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, 30 Republicans voted against an anti-rape amendment in essence, and now, they want the amendment sponsor to explain why their votes against it were OK as if it‘s his fault that they‘ve been, you know, just merely misunderstood here?
ROBINSON: Yes. That‘s—that‘s it in a nutshell. And does it make any sense? No, it does not make any sense.
ROBINSON: You know, stop him before he makes us vote this way again.
They might have read it before they voted on it, or before they had the kind of knee-jerk reflex to vote the corporate position on a piece of legislation without fully understanding what it was intended to do.
OLBERMANN: But earlier this month, thus, this week, there were some Republican sources who privately acknowledged that they had failed to anticipate the political consequences of a “no” vote on this amendment.
Is the inference from that being that they don‘t believe the “no” votes are the problem, only that they‘ve become a public embarrassment?
ROBINSON: Oh, clearly, the embarrassment is the problem. If no one had noticed, and if no one had called them out on it—which, by the way, it isn‘t Al Franken, Senator Franken who is calling them out on it, it‘s various others in what they would call the demonic liberal blogosphere.
But, clearly, I haven‘t heard from those 30 senators‘ expressions of remorse for having cast this vote but, rather, remorse for their vote having been made public and been made an issue.
OLBERMANN: Well, then we need a secret ballot in the Senate, don‘t we? It would simplify.
ROBINSON: Do we have to write this stuff down? I mean, come on.
OLBERMANN: They don‘t need those reporters there or anything like that.
The Thune statement which he says Al Franken is taking them on. I -
maybe I‘m just being naive here, but I thought the amendment was designed to take on military contractors who may not be conducting themselves in concurrence with decency or law.
ROBINSON: Exactly. It was not an attack on Republican senators who might vote against it. The legislation had a specific purpose, and it sprang from that case, was inspired by that case that you talked about in the intro.
And it is—it is amazing that the senators would, again, be casting the blame on Senator Franken, when all they had to do was read it and then make a decision about it. The ones who did read it—I assume some of them did—decided it wasn‘t a worthy piece of legislation.
That‘s a fine position for them to take. It‘s just that they do write down these votes, there are reporters in there. And at the end of the day, people get to know about it and they get to form opinions about it.
So, this is kind of unseemly whining about something.
ROBINSON: . that they did themselves.
OLBERMANN: But is it—is it really insightful? I mean, did we get insight, say, from Cornyn talking about the unwritten laws of the Senate here because—is essentially, it‘s—you know, you only pretend to read some of this stuff and really not know what‘s going on and somebody tips you from the other side. It‘s—what was the movie, “Advise and Consent” where Peter Lawford had to wake up the senator who appeared to be 206 years old, and he would just come out of the asleep and go, “Oppose, sir. Oppose.”
OLBERMANN: And Lawford is saying, “No, no, I think you‘re in favor, Senator.” “Aye, aye.”
Are those the unwritten laws of the Senate, nobody pays attention?
ROBINSON: Well, maybe. I mean, one imagines that Senator Franken was supposed to go around to each of them and explain, you know, “If you vote against this, I realize it might anger some of your—you know, some of your corporate friends, but you‘re going to catch a lot of heat on this.”
The Senate‘s rules are arcane. Its byways are folkloric. This is one I never heard of. I don‘t—I don‘t think you have to kind of give a sort of side effects listing to every senator for every vote.
OLBERMANN: Yes, a little surgeon general‘s warning on the side of the legislation or mileage may vary, or something like that.
ROBINSON: If trouble from the liberal blogosphere lasts more than four hours, see a doctor immediately.
OLBERMANN: It‘s a “break glass.”
Gene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of “The Washington Post”—great thanks and great thanks for being silly as always.
ROBINSON: Good to talk to you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The rule and Sister Sarah said she didn‘t know this. This was the book store‘s idea. The rule was that you had to refer to and address her as “Governor.” But there was one other rule that she‘s not denying, she‘s profiting off of it. Sure you can pose for a picture with the half a governor for $16, $36 for a big one.
OLBERMANN: “Bests” in a moment. Why close counts in hand grenades and bank robbery?
First, this is the birthday of East Germany‘s last great international athlete: figure skater Katarina Witt who is now—wait for it -- 44 years old.
Let‘s play “Oddball.”
We begin with YouTube video from the wedding of Dana Hanna and Tracy Page. Nothing special about the ceremony although those are hermaphroditic names. Until the groom, after the vows and before the kiss, took out his cellphone to change his Facebook status to “married.” As the crowd chuckled, he handed his wife her cellphone to do the same and then moved from Facebook to Twitter where as the Software Jedi, he twitted, quote, “Standing at the altar with @TracyPage where just a second ago, she became my wife. Got to go, time to kiss my bride.”
Seriously, dude? The couple‘s video has become an Internet sensation and the Software Jedi has become a reluctant media darling evidenced by his latest tweet, “Those hearing rumors of me being on the “Today Show” tomorrow, they are not true—unless they know something I don‘t.” Which they don‘t.
To comically sped up security camera footage from inside a San Diego construction office where two feet are dangling from the ceiling. I swear it‘s a robbery. The unidentified man got stuck as he was attempting to gain entry into the office. He eventually jiggled himself down past his waist, his shirt pulled up, his belly exposed. Hope the tickle monster doesn‘t show up.The man continued to wiggle his way out of the ceiling, eventually freeing himself and escaping. San Diego police hope to find the crook and zerbert the truth out of him.
To Sacramento where another dumb criminal is trying to steal a camera from inside the news van of our NBC affiliate, KCRA. Unfortunately for him, he turned the camera on and pressed record before he could get away with it. Also unfortunately for him, the camera was bolted to the floor of the van. The photographer came back to his vehicle to find a broken window and his camera rolling. He then rewound the tape and discovered what you‘re looking at now. The criminal still on the loose and still a dope.
Speaking of which, it‘s either the most innovative campaign fund-raising idea ever or the quickest way to ever devised to lose fans. Sister Sarah is charging people $16 to take a picture with them her at book signings. That‘s next.
But first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three “Best Persons in the World.” “Dateline” New York, No. 3 the best cold water splash: the Harlem Gospel Choir has pulled out of its appearance with Glenn Beck. And I think it‘s Lonesome Roads Beck‘s latest cult rally, tonight, just after one of the many anti-Beck groups informed the famed singing group of Beck‘s claim that President Obama was a racist. The Harlem Gospel Choir then canceled its appearance. A spokesman then told the “New York Daily News” that the official reason was the appearance fee was not enough. So your choice here is Beck is an anti-black racism-monger or he‘s cheap.
“Dateline” North Carolina, No. 2, Best withdrawal of support: the anti-immigration group, ALIPAC, Americans for Illegal Immigration, today announced Lou Dobbs HAS deeply offended the base of supporters. The group, the first to suggest Dobbs run for president has now dumped him. This is because the group says Dobbs went on the Telemundo network and said, “...What isn‘t working is a penalty to those who are in his country illegally for whom we can both be building a bridge to the future in which there is legalization and at the same time constructing an environment in which everyone is clear and unequivocal about the need for border security and a regulated flow of immigration.”
So, without all the anti-Hispanic bigots in this country, Lou‘s backers would appear to be down to O‘Reilly and his former guest show on the Dobbs show, Kitty Pilgrim.
And “Dateline” Waukesha, Wisconsin, No. 1, best dumb criminal:
unnamed suspect still at large. He arrived at the Guardian Credit Union Bank Monday at closing time, armed with a ski mask, all of the regular bank robber type stuff. Police say he entered through the main door of the street, strolled through the outer vestibule, gripped the inner door that led to the bank lobby and then nothing happened. It was 5:36 in the city of Waukesha, and the banks close at 5:30. So, with the door locked and nobody still in the bank exactly ready to let him in, the guy turned around and left. Police speculate he may have been delayed by traffic.
OLBERMANN: At the risk of ruining Christmas for a lot of you, there is a decent case to be made that Sarah Palin and Santa Claus are pretty similar. One lives in the North Pole, the other lived near North Pole, Alaska. Both have devoted followers who claim they are the real deal. Neither gave me the Red Rider BB gun I asked for in 1968.
And our third story, Sister Sarah, Sister Sarah, like jolly ol‘ St. Nick is now showing up at malls to gouge customers for photo ops. Oh, going rogue with the picture taking. The crowd lined up to meet Sister Sarah Palin at each book tour, each stop is told no personal photos with the former governor. The Palin camp has its own photographer who will do the honors for you and then sell it to you. Sheila Craighead Photography is the official Palin book tour shutter bug. Customers get their books signed, have a photo snapped and then they get to go to the Web site and order a print, 5x7 runs you $15.99, 11x14 is $35.99. You can also have your moment with Palin turned into a refrigerator magnet or a greeting card.
There are thousands of pictures available from two book tour stops. They‘re posting the rest soon. The Web site says that the photo opportunities are provided by SarahPAC, though it is not clear who is pocketing the cash.
Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, also senior strategist at Public Strategies and the author of “Renegade: The Making of a President.” Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Shortest question ever: seriously?
WOLFFE: Seriously! Look, I wonder how brazen it is to go out and do this. You know, we thought there may have been some of us maybe possibly thought there was an attempt with this book to raise her political fortunes. It turns out she just wants to build a fortune. I also think there‘s a great admission here, which is that in the end, the readers, potential readers of this book, people buying this book are more interested in Sarah Palin‘s image. Capturing that image, being close to her appearance, maybe more than her prose, because it was groft written prose, anyway.
OLBERMANN: Does she stop these people and try to sell them gold and suggest they buy gold coins due to the upcoming—oh, never mind. Is this -- which do you this is, the sneakiest way to raise campaign funds or quickest way to lose fans or is there a third explanation?
WOLFFE: Well, it‘s creative. And look, the Obama campaign was pretty creative about how to raise money, itself. They sold t-shirts and mugs and key fobs and that kind of thing. And, you know, at least you were buying something kind of tangible, I guess maybe even useful, if you really wanted another mug for your collection. But, this is something that she‘s selling on top of selling something else. I mean, this is in addition to the book and there‘s just a—I guess you could say it‘s an entrepreneurialism to it that is surprising.
OLBERMANN: Surprising? How about the other question about this. If it—and it‘s a serious one—if the money is involved in some way with SarahPAC, going to political action committee, is it legal?
WOLFFE: Well, I don‘t think the question is whether it‘s legal in terms of how they raise the money, although you would expect some kind of disclosure for that. I don‘t know what there is on that Web site. The question is what‘s she‘s spending money on. And this is where Sarah Palin has run into some trouble before and not just Sarah Palin, but other politician politicians, too. If it‘s going to personal expenses, as opposed to political ones, campaigning ones, then there could be some legal problems. But raising the money itself, you could be pretty creative in how you do that.
OLBERMANN: It always gets worse with this particular topic, so it shouldn‘t be a surprise. The authorities at the Mall of America say they are apologizing for a set of guidelines that were leaked regarding her appearance there next week. The mall had apparently intended to bar foreign reporters. They wanted “only English-speaking press.” You had to address her and refer to her as “governor.” The Palin camps says none of this came from them. Are we buying that?
WOLFFE: You know, it‘s strange for malls to have rules other than no running and no kissing. But, as someone who may have been foreign and can also speak English, I‘m curious about, you know, those English-speaking foreigners that may be going through the loopholes, here. At least we know what her foreign policy is going to be and those foreign countries that don‘t speak English, probably are going to be OK.
OLBERMANN: And what about reporters from foreign countries who were willing to pay $36 for the extra large photos? That‘s what I want to know.
WOLFFE: They could go straight in. Straight to the front of the line and ambassadors, too.
OLBERMANN: Cut in front of the other two days‘ worth of waiting people. Last question: What did you get for pictures at your book signings?
WOLFFE: The clothed ones, of course. I was paid just with the enthusiasm of people who were engaged with politics. As they say in those MasterCard ads, it was priceless.
OLBERMANN: Oh, man. A portion of the female part of our audience just swooned. Richard Wolffe.
WOLFFE: Oh, please.
OLBERMANN: I have to read this stuff, you know. Author of “Renegade,” also with Public Strategies, and available in brown paper envelopes.
WOLFFE: No, no, no.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Richard.
WOLFFE: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Never mind this being the future of TV news. The future is here. Excuse enough for us to show you the second Tiger Woods offering from the makers of the Chinese version of “Puppet Theater.” Worst‘s, desperation propaganda or just another, “mistake?” Fox Noise implies Jon Stewart is a climate change denier.
And when Rachel joins at the top of the hour, her special guest, Blackwater expert, Jeremy Scahill on reports that the company‘s chief Erik Prince was a CIA spy. For crying out loud, I hope he was better at that.
OLBERMANN: Worst‘s—if the guy you are interviewing, who you‘re calling “perfect and pure” happens to be paying your own husband seven percent of his salary or thereabouts, shouldn‘t you have to mention that fact on TV? Not one, but two transgressions from cluster Fox, the other, the attempt to make Jon Stewart look like a climate change denier.
And then “Woods scandal girl come forward to moving news.” Yes, it‘s chapter two of the Chinese newspaper‘s attempt to show you what no camera could see, Tiger Woods making out with a bunch of pixels. Standby.
Doocy and Brian Kilmeade.>
Michelle Malkin; Al Gore; Global warming; Ari Fleischer>
OLBERMANN: To phrase this as the innovators themselves might—
“Tiger animated character woods, video new one second version today, out-making shows with computerized waitress of cocktails in polo shirt,” future of journalism is. That‘s next.
But first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s No. 2 story, tonight‘s “Worst Persons of the World,” the bronze to Ari Fleischer now taking over as public relations man for the BCS, the Bowl Championship Series, that labyrinthine maze of calculations that lets a computer determine football‘s champions.
He now says the alternative, a playoff system in which the top teams, you know, decide the championship on the field is, “like saying we should get rid of the Macy‘s Thanksgiving Parade and hold smaller parades all across America.” Fleischer also called it, Obama “playoff scheme.”
Actually, I don‘t know what I‘m complain about. If Mr. Fleischer does for college football what he did for Mr. Bush, my alma mater Cornell, last national champs in 1939 and two in seven last year, will be ranked No. 1 every week.
The runner up, Gretchen Carlson, the news model co-host of the television show that leaves out one tiny little detail on an average of every three minutes or so, after he is named “Sports Illustrated” Man of the Year, she interviews Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, calls him, “the last pure athlete in major league baseball. He seems to do everything right. So many people think you are this perfect guy.” Her husband is Jeter‘s agent, has been since the mid 1990s. So, how much money she and her family has is largely dependent on people thinking Jeter; I don‘t know, what would you call it, the last pure athlete or he does everything right or he‘s perfect. Second biggest conflict of interest imaginable and she never mentions it.
And our winners: Gretchen Carlson and Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade, the other co-host of this propaganda fester—fest over there, or fester, over there at cluster Fox. And today, as part of their made-up story they call “Climategate,” they had a scoop. Jon Stewart was denying global warming. “Extraordinarily,” Doocy said, “take a look at this, Jon Stewart of ‘The Daily Show‘ which has historically bashed Republicans, and you know, not bashed Democrats, really took a shot at Al Gore. Look at this.” And they played this bite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW: Poor Al Gore. Global warming completely debunked via the very Internet you invented. Oh! Oh, the irony! The iron-knee!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Then the three chipmunks came out and talked to Michelle Malkin talking about how Jon Stewart was saying global warming had been debunked. Oh, the iron-knee. In fact, cluster Fox used a sliver of Stewarts remarks in order to utterly twist their meaning and to hide the nasty little detail about the Fox “Climategate” story. Here‘s the whole thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Poor Al Gore. Global warming completely debunked via the very Internet you invented. Oh! Oh, the irony! The iron-knee. Actually, the real story is not quite that sensational. Basically e-mails stolen from scientists from one of the leading study centers at global warming show them discussing their work a bit, how do I put I put this, “casually.” Now, does it disprove global warming? No, of course not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: So, Fox, which has twice showed the wrong video to make it seem like a poorly attended event that had drawn a much larger crowd, attributed this to on-screen errors, no doubt, this example of using a tenth of the Jon Stewart sound bite, completely out of context, this was made by an office assistant or a temp or possibly some homeless person who wandered into the control room and took over the show.
Couldn‘t possibly be another example of Rupert Murdoch‘s moral sellouts completing journalistic three-card Monty to advance a fraudulent political agenda. Of course not. Just the fault of Carlson, Doocy, and Kilmeade. But, even if they‘re just the paid to play patsies, they‘re still today‘s “Worst Persons in the World.”
Woods car crash scenario.>
OLBERMANN: Let me commence the new era of news with the oldest trick in the book: the tease or as it was once quaintly known, the headline. The Chinese newspaper that unleashed the computer generated recreation of Mr. Woods phoning and then getting it on with computerized alleged girlfriend No. 2. We will show it to you in a moment.
Our No. 1 story in the COUNTDOWN, there‘s the now unavoidable larger truth. This CG Animation news recreation jazz, they call it “Motion News.”
It is now here for good, forever. In this country, it will start at
TMZ.com or “Access Hollywood” or maybe the PBS news hour, but eventually it will be everywhere. Not endorsing it, I‘m not passing judgment on it. I‘m just saying every network in this country already does it for transportation accidents and I saw it on “World News” two hours ago as a means of illustrating the White House gate crashers.
And, look, when the scientists in the Manhattan Project perfected the atomic bomb, the world didn‘t simply say—sit back and say: oh, great, let‘s use it as a paper weight.
And before we review the new video and the day in Tiger Woods scandal news, a brief confession, we may have started this. Whenever there was a news story we couldn‘t get video of, Michael Jackson trial, deliberation of the College of Cardinals, whatever, we in desperation and self pity turned to pop sickle sticks with printouts of the principals heads attached to them. On the day the actor, Burt Reynolds, playfully tapped a CBS producer for asking him an ill-informed question about an upcoming film and CBS wouldn‘t let anybody see the video, we created our own version and called it, “Burt Reynolds Slap a Producer Puppet Theater.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell us a little bit about the movie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don‘t know anything about the movie?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, then, what the hell are you asking me for?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to get your point of view.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see the original?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I haven‘t.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the hell kind of guy are you? These guys never seen the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) original, he‘s asking me to tell him about the picture. He‘s standing there in a shirt, needs ironing, man works for CBS. I‘m just, I‘m embarrassed. I like the guy. He‘s a nice guy, a tough guy. He wants to come on out. He can‘t because he‘s under contract with CBS, but we‘ll meet later if you want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But, “Burt Reynolds Slap a Producer Puppet Theater” is to Apple Daily Motion News, the woefully animated cartoon “Clutch Cargo,” what it was to “The Matrix.” So, again, before we show you daily motion shows you Tiger Woods with Jamie Scruggs—by the way, in the recreation, Tiger has a Chinese accent—let me again how you highlights of the original, which the Taipei newspaper, “Apple Daily” titled, well, this is a computerized translation of what they titled it in Chinese, anyway:
“Woods, Broken Windows at Night to Save His Wife Crash Shady Husband.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: With Mariette Hartley as Elin Woods. I‘ve seen that computerized Elin Woods chasing me in my dreams for two damned nights in a row, now.
The new “Apple Daily” video is not completely up to date, so before we roll it, a brief review of today‘s Woodsian news. TMZ reported that the woman this was supposed to be about, New York celebrity, bar taker, inner, Rachel Uchitel had denied the Internet report of an affair, then recanted and had admitted there was one and that Woods had asked her to lie about it. That was late last night. Today she abruptly canceled a news conference which she and attorney, Gloria Allred, where to hold.
Several news outlets reported that Mrs. Woods was not planning to divorce her apparently wandering hubby, nor again treat him to the old graphite marriage counselor, as they call sandwich club, she is instead said to be renegotiating her prenuptial agreement with Mr. Woods, which would have given him, in golf lingo, a four stroke penalty.
And no new women have been added to the equation, today. So, with all that as precursor, back to the computerized genus that is “Apple Daily Motion News.” The project is itself, just a month old. It has been used for evil. They recreated the ambush of the four police officers in Seattle, Washington. But if they restrict it to tabloid stories, they may be on to something or more likely on to everything. The new title of the new episode, “Woods Scandal Girl Come Forward To Moving News.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Jaimee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, it‘s tiger.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The investigation has determined that Mr.
Woods is at fault in the crash.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: U.S. Weekawee, you ask? What can Motion News do next, you ask? One other Woods development may answer that. Elin Nordegren, Mrs. Woods, was the nanny for golfer Jesper Parnevik, when Parnevik introduced them. Parnevik has now told the media of the world, “I really feel sorry for Elin since me and my wife were at fault for hooking her up with him. We probably thought he was a better guy than he is. I would probably need to apologize to her. I hope she uses a driver next time instead of a three iron.”
Right now, at “Apple Daily” headquarters it is 9:59 a.m. And there is some guy in a recording booth at this moment trying to say: “Jasper Parnevik hopes Elin Woods t-shot skull through shady husband head,” in Chinese. The news to come.
That‘s COUNTDOWN for this, the 2,408th day since the previous president declared “mission accomplished” in Iraq. I‘m Keith Olbermann, goodnight and as “Apple Daily” would sign off, night lucky good.
And now to join Jeremy Scahill in reacting to the news that the founder of Blackwater doubled as a CIA spy. Ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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