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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, April 8, 2010

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guest: Richard Burt, Chris Hayes, Eugene Robinson, John Hodgman               



KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you

be talking about tomorrow?

Prague, the Czech Republic, where 42 springs ago, the superpowers

edged close to nuclear war.  The START treaty is signed there, and nuclear

weapons are suddenly reduced by one-third.



simply an issue for the United States and Russia.  They threaten the common

security of all nations.


OLBERMANN:  But are there 67 votes to ratify in the Senate?  Ronald

Reagan‘s secretary of state, George Shultz, endorses the deal.  And the

lunatic fringe still mindlessly opposes it.

The threats against the speaker of the House, they main-line back to -

well, to quote the accused man‘s mother, “Greg frequently gets in with a

group of people that have really radical ideas.  I‘d say FOX News or all

those that are really radical—that‘s where he comes from.”


But don‘t worry; it‘s all just a game.  I could give a flying crap

about the political process.  Lonesome tells “Forbes” magazine, “We‘re an

entertainment company.”

Oh, here we go.


ANNOUNCER:  On the tee, Tiger Woods.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I want to find out what your feelings are and did

you learn anything?




TIGER WOODS, PRO GOLFER:  It‘s Tiger.  I need you to do me a huge



OLBERMANN:  “Worsts”: You‘ll never believe who owns the Web site

And, the first secret story in the history of COUNTDOWN—I

surrender, I‘ll start now, and John Hodgman is here to help me.  That‘s all

you get.

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Oh, you‘d be surprised.




OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

President Obama and Russian President Medvedev this morning are

signing a major treaty, the new START treaty, to shrink their nation‘s

respective arsenals of nuclear weapons.

But in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: The agreement will be moot

unless it is ratified by two-thirds of the Senate where Republicans have

not yet decided if their for or against it, even though the first START

treaty was proposed by none other than President Ronald Reagan and signed

by successor, President George H.W. Bush, and this one has been endorsed by

President Reagan‘s secretary of state.

At a ceremony in Prague, the leaders of the two countries which

combined account for 90 percent of the world‘s nuclear weapons, putting pen

to paper on a document that would reduce their deployed nuclear warheads to

1,550 for each country, a drop of 1/3, still impossibly high.  Long-range

nuclear weapons would be limited to 700 for each nation.

As we mentioned, the first START treaty initiated by President Reagan

who once said, quote, “I believe we‘ve come to the point that we must got

at the matter of realistically reducing, if not totally eliminating the

nuclear weapons—the threat to the world.”  The treaty then signed by

President Bush in 1991.

President Obama‘s new START treaty is endorsed by former Republican

secretaries of state, George Shultz and Henry Kissinger.  In fact,

Secretary Shultz describing the treaty that was signed today as containing,

quote, “relatively modest reductions.”  But he concluded, “I think it‘s a

constructive step.”

Secretary of State Clinton at today‘s signing ceremony in Prague is

noting that the Senate has a long history of bipartisan approval of such

treaties.  The view of Senator Lugar, the ranking Republican on the foreign

relations committee, said to be favorable, and an aide to Senator Lugar is

saying that his boss ultimately hopes the votes to ratify the new START

treaty will be there.

His party‘s leadership is possibly hoping something else.  In a letter

to the president last month, Minority Leader McConnell and Senator Kyl, the

number two Republican in the Senate, raising concerns about the treaty

because they believe it links offensive weapons and missile defense.  The

senators are warning the president, quoting, “It is highly unlikely that

the Senate would ratify a treaty that includes such a linkage.”

Any references to missile defense made only in the preamble and not in

the treaty document itself, to avoid an official link.

At a news conference in Prague, the president is saying that he and

the Russian president would continue to talk about missile defense, adding

that he believes the U.S. would be no less safe because of it.


OBAMA:  I‘ve repeatedly said that we will not do anything that

endangers or limits my ability as commander-in-chief to protect the

American people.  And we think that missile defense can be an important

component of that.  But we also want to make clear that the approach that

we‘ve taken in no way is intended to change the strategic balance between

the United States and Russia.


OLBERMANN:  Meanwhile, Sister Sarah opposing President Obama‘s entire

nuclear approach—the former half governor of Alaska reducing the

president‘s earlier decision to take nuclear weapons off the table in the

event of a nonnuclear attack, but leave them in place for biological or

chemical attacks, reducing all this to terms she could understand—kids

on a playground.



America‘s history would, I think, ever have considered such a step that we

just found out that President Obama is supporting today.  You know, that‘s

kind of like getting out there on the playground, a bunch of kids ready to

fight, and one of the kids saying, “Go ahead, punch me in the face and I‘m

not going to retaliate.  Go ahead and do what you want to do with me.”

No.  It‘s unacceptable.  This is another thing that the American

public, the more that they find out what is a part of this agenda, they‘re

going to rise up and they‘re going to say, no more.  National defense,

national security is the number one job of the federal government.



OLBERMANN:  That woman is an idiot.  Earlier on ABC‘s “World News

Tonight,” the president asked by George Stephanopoulos to respond to Sarah



OBAMA:  I really have no response to that.  Last I checked, Sarah

Palin is not much of an expert on nuclear issues.


OLBERMANN:  All right.  He put it better than I did.

Let‘s turn instead to Richard Burt, former ambassador to Germany, the

U.S.‘s chief negotiator for first START treaty which was signed, as we

mentioned, in Prague by President Bush in 1991.  Mr. Burt is now the U.S. 

chairman of Global Zero, an international not-for-profit group calling for

the phased and verified elimination of nuclear weapons.

Ambassador, thanks much for your time tonight.


Keith, from a fellow Cornellian.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, I know indeed.  And we have mutual friends as well. 

And Mr. Klein says hello to you.

The first START treaty which lapsed this past December—how

important was it, given that lapse, that the U.S. and Russia reach another

one and quickly?

BURT:  Well, I think it‘s very important.  Not only because we can‘t

live for an extended period of time without restrictions on these weapons,

but I think that the treaty, while it is, as my old boss George Shultz

pointed out, a modest step towards further reductions.

As the president pointed out today, it really creates a platform for a

new negotiation, a follow-on negotiation where we can achieve real

reductions, maybe down to as low as 1,000 nuclear weapons altogether. 

Those are not only the ones that are deployed, that are limited under this

new treaty, but also ones that would be stored.  And also hundreds, in the

Russian case, thousands of tactical nuclear weapons, the short-range


If we could get a new treaty, say, over the next two, three years that

really was—took a significant bite out of the two countries‘ nuclear

arsenals, we could then take the very bold step of bringing other nuclear

powers into a negotiation, like the Chinese, the Indians, and the


OLBERMANN:  To try to subtract the partisanship from the equation in

anything in politics these days is almost impossible.  And to do that we

almost have to go back to previous political issues and contentions.  I‘d

like your assessment.  You heard what Secretary Shultz said, your former

boss, as you mentioned.

Do you believe this is the kind of agreement that President Reagan

would have wanted?

BURT:  Well, it‘s clearly one that Ronald Reagan would have supported. 

Remember, Ronald Reagan coined the term, or the phrase, trust but verify. 

The treaty has very rigorous verification provisions and it does reduce

both sides‘ nuclear stockpiles.  But it‘s important to remember that Ronald

Reagan was fundamentally uncomfortable with nuclear weapons.

And I think, in the 21st century, when the threat is not Russian

nuclear attack or a Chinese nuclear attack, but nuclear proliferation, the

spread of nuclear weapons to rogue states like Iran or terrorist groups

like al Qaeda, I‘m sure that Ronald Reagan would have strongly supported


OLBERMANN:  And everyone off the table is an improvement, per se,


BURT:  Oh, absolutely.  What President Obama has done is, together

with this treaty, and the Nuclear Posture Review you mentioned, where he

clearly has said the priorities of American nuclear policy, he is saying

that we need to focus on the spread of nuclear weapons, we have to focus on

clear terrorism, and next week‘s summit meeting where nuclear security and

that means locking down all loose nukes and nuclear materials worldwide is

coming forward with a really transformational vision for nuclear weapons in

the 21st century.

And I think, in the end, as a result of this, there will be some

outliers who won‘t support it.  But I think that Republican senators will

support it, led by Dick Lugar, because of the recognition that if we can‘t

be seen as making progress in arms control, we‘re just creating another

argument for President Ahmadinejad in Iran, and other rogue nations to

acquire their nuclear stockpiles.

OLBERMANN:  So, the last three votes were 93-5, 93-6, and 95-0 on arms

reduction treaties, you mentioned the outliers in the Senate.  What would -

what else would you say to those senators who might contemplate voting

against this new START treaty?


BURT:  Well, I‘m just reminded of the phrase that Senator William

Fulbright used during the Vietnam War when he talked about the United

States in danger of becoming a crippled giant.  I think failure to ratify

this agreement would not only mean no more progress on dealing with nuclear

terrorism and proliferation, but it would cripple American foreign policy

across the board.

OLBERMANN:  Ambassador Richard Burt, chief negotiator for the first

START treaty, now with Global Zero and in the alumni association with—

great thanks of your time, sir.

BURT:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  For more on Republican reaction on the signing of the new

treaty, time to bring in our own Howard Fineman, the senior Washington

correspondent for “Newsweek,” who is in New Orleans tonight for the

Southern Republican Leadership Conference and who did not attend Cornell.

Good evening, Howard.


OLBERMANN:  They say I mentioned it too often.

Listen, the attendees and headline speakers at this conference, is

there any indication that they figured out yet that the nuclear arms treaty

that was signed by this president is, as Ambassador Burt, put it, kind of a

continuation of the policy that was started by the fellow Reagan who they

used to all adhere to?

FINEMAN:  Well, Keith, I‘m just been in the hall, a few feet away,

interviewing the delegates as the meeting starting.  There are a couple of

thousands of them there.  It‘s an important meeting, really, the wheelhouse

of the Republican Party as we know it.

I mentioned that point about Ronald Reagan to them.  It got zero

response.  When Ronald Reagan did it, it was a sign of strength.  (AUDIO

GAP) of this people here.  If I took a vote in there, it would be 2,000 to

nothing against ratifying the START treaty.

OLBERMANN:  And there‘s no—can you—can you possibly nail what

the disconnect is there?  How they could simply ignore that this happened

in their own past?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think it has everything to do with Barack Obama. 

And it has to do, also partly with the fact, I think, while he would have

never made a sale in here, if it were the START treaty alone, if it hasn‘t

come wrapped in the philosophical shift on strategy about the use of

nuclear weapons, which is lauded by many people in the United States and

the world, then it might be a different story.

Here, the words I hear inside that room, and they‘re going to be

Republican presidential candidates speaking here in the coming days, Keith,

I heard words like “naive,” that was the kindest one, “weakness” and even

“treason.”  These people look at what Barack Obama wants to do with regard

to nuclear weapons, Ronald Reagan notwithstanding, and view it through the

lens of their fear and distrust of the president.

OLBERMANN:  There are some, like George Shultz who seem to—no, not

seem to, they‘re implying that this did not go far enough.  We heard

Ambassador Burt just now talk about how this needs to be a good starting

point for something much more generalize in terms of bringing other nations

into it the next two to three years—couldn‘t the right have gone—have

taken the opposite tack on this, that none of this is going far enough? 

Wouldn‘t that have fed the necessity to yell at Obama about something?

FINEMAN:  Well, it might be.  But it‘s not going that way, and you can

tell that all the Republican candidates, led by Sarah Palin, once again,

are going to be taking a harsh stance against this.

It‘s interesting.  I talked to some Senate Republicans today, and

they‘re taking in Washington and on the Hill a somewhat more cautious view. 

They want to see the treaty, they have some concerns, but they‘re not ready

to stand full out against it.  At the Republican grassroots, at the

conservative grassroots, which to some extent this really does represent,

they‘re flat out “no” on everything Obama‘s proposing to do, and they‘re

going to call it weakness and run on it.

OLBERMANN:  So, give me your assessment.  Eight votes are needed on

the Republican side with Mr. Lugar.  Is he going to get them?

FINEMAN:  Well, Richard Lugar doesn‘t drive the train in the Senate on

the Republican side.


FINEMAN:  Mitch McConnell of Kentucky does.  I think in the end,

they‘ll get it, because if you just look at what the treaty does, and you

can, I think, meet a lot of Republican objections, you can meet

conservative concerns—but what Republicans have to worry about is the

way this thing will be portrayed outside of Washington and at the

grassroots of the Republican Party.  And I can assure you, everyone at the

grassroots is going to be standing on the sidewalk screaming “no”—at

least based on what I heard in this room tonight.

OLBERMANN:  Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” and MSBNC, at the Southern

Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans—great thanks, Howard.

FINEMAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  And on top of that bitter irony, a day of more bitter

irony for those drying to defuse the hysterical anger from the far right. 

At the same time, a mother of a man accused of making dozens of threatening

calls to the speaker of the House, said she thought his main influence were

radicals and FOX News.  The face of FOX News says he really isn‘t

interested in the political process—to him this is justify the

entertainment business.

That‘s next when we resume.


OLBERMANN:  On the same day Glenn Beck reveals he doesn‘t give a,

quote, “flying crap about the political process,” the mother of the man

accused of threatening Nancy Pelosi says he was driven to it in part by FOX


Thousands cheer Tiger Woods returns to golf, millions learn there‘s

almost no golf term that doesn‘t sound kind of dirty.  Gene Robinson joins


Inside a tea party in Louisiana so nuts that the congressman tells

them they are being put on the defensive by FOX.

And my epic life-changing decision tonight, my admission of Luddism

and lunkheadedness, John Hodgman is here to help me begin my recovery.

You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN:  The man arrested yesterday on charges of threatening House

Speaker Nancy Pelosi about passage of health care reform got his ideas from

FOX News.

We know this because in our fourth story tonight: the defendant‘s

mother says so.  The defendant, Greg Giusti, a 48-year-old San Francisco

man with previous convictions and history of making threats, he‘s accused

this time of repeatedly calling Speaker Pelosi‘s office and home and her

husband‘s business, reciting her home address and saying she should oppose

health care reform if she wanted to see her home again.

As has chronicled, Pelosi has spent the last year

under blistering attack from FOX News hosts, portraying her and health care

reform as fundamental threats to America itself.  Bill O‘Reilly referring

to her Fidel Castro stuff and to her as Marie Antoinette, who was, of

course, beheaded in the French Revolution.  Sarah Palin putting crosshairs

on members of Congress, telling followers, “Don‘t retreat, instead reload.” 

Glenn Beck is talking about poisoning Pelosi, claiming Democrats carried

out a coup, hammering in the nail in the coffin of America and bringing

about the end of America as we know it, because now President Obama can

control every aspect of our lives.

Greg Giusti‘s mother blames FOX News.


ELEANOR GUISTI, ACCUSED MOTHER:  Greg has frequently gets in with a

group of people that have really radical ideas, and that are not consistent

with myself or his, the rest of the family—and which gets him into

problems.  And apparently I would say, this must be another one that

somehow he‘s gotten on to, either by—I say, FOX News—or all of those

that are really radical, and he, that‘s where he comes from.


OLBERMANN:  Shepherd Smith of FOX said on air last month that some of

those shouting end of the world, quote, “maybe don‘t believe it.”

Now, a new “Forbes” magazine profile of Beck confirms it.  Beck‘s only

real interest is making more than his current $32 million a year as a man

of the people.  Quote, “I could give a flying crap about the political

process.  We‘re an entertainment company.”

He has these pictures, the magazine reports, in his office, Ronald

Reagan, who was in favor of the START treaty, Paul Harvey, Orson Welles,

Bob Hope, Jack Benny and Walt Disney.  No Thomas Paine.

And, of course, if Mr. Beck really believed Democrats were turning

America socialist and destroying capitalism, why would he bother to try to

earn $32 million a year if the government‘s going to take it from him


Let‘s bring in Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of “The Nation”

magazine, who I think makes a little less than $32 million, but not quite.

CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION:  How did you guess?

OLBERMANN:  Just a wild one.  Good to see in the flesh.

HAYES:  Good to see you, too.

OLBERMANN:  If FOX News viewers are crazy enough or easily led enough,

which is the principle to it, to believe that America is under assault from

within by essentially a fraudulent government, isn‘t taking arms up to

defend America versus the government, isn‘t that—if the premise could be

illogical but the follow up is logical, and that‘s the danger, right?

HAYES:  That‘s right.  I mean, look, I tend to be really sort of free

speech absolutist about this stuff and I think you sort of share that ethos

that you want to be careful about drawing these distinctions.


HAYES:  That said, there is increasingly violent rhetoric.  And we

know from the Southern Poverty Law Center‘s latest report, we know from the

Harris Poll, this stuff is really seeping into the grassroots, and there is

a really kind of enraged and violent ethos that is being stoked.  And I

think it really is problematic and it does—it does impart some kind of

moral culpability ultimately.

OLBERMANN:  The FOX hosts who are already on record blaming Pelosi for

inciting violence against herself, which is, of course, a wonderful way out

of complicated situations.  Does the odds against seeing this story turn

them into people who say, “Oh, we have—the scales have fallen from our

eyes, we better cool this”—the odds against that are what?

HAYES:  Well, they‘re zero.


HAYES:  Because right now, there is no—I mean, this is one of the

things I think that‘s dangerous and disturbing.  There‘s only incentives to

fuel the fire.


HAYES:  The marketing incentives all pushed that way, in terms of

fundraising, in terms of audience share—everything pushes in the

direction of extremity and nothing pushes against it.  And so, that‘s the

really problematic thing.  It‘s locked into this kind of vicious cycle in

which stoking and stoking and stoking is what is getting people, ratings,

what‘s getting people‘s attention—I don‘t see any incentive or space for

people to be the brakes on that.

OLBERMANN:  We can say also that maybe there are links and FOX can

respond, well, there‘s no evidence of links, but his—Jim David Adkisson

is the example I always used and not because had had books on his shelf. 

But this is the guy who walked into a Unitarian church in Tennessee and

shot the place up and killed two people, because he said, in writing, in

his manifesto, that he could not kill the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg‘s

book of the liberals who were destroying the country.

That‘s not—Bernard Goldberg is on FOX News every night, virtually. 

That‘s not—this isn‘t debatable that there‘s a link.

So, what has to happen—there was a link in that case, and we have

the Giusti link, to a degree of a man‘s mother, (INAUDIBLE) the situation,

we think that probably she knows something of what‘s going on—what has

to happen for society at large to look at Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes

and the people who pervade this stuff as pariahs?

HAYES:  Well, I mean, what you hope is that something really awfully

doesn‘t happen.


HAYES:  I mean, I—and again, I don‘t want to be an alarmist, but

look, I mean, the last time that we did have an extremely empowered and

enraged radical right, there was the largest, at the time, domestic

terrorist attack on American soil.  And we‘ve already seen domestic

terrorist attacks by—or plotted domestic terror attacks.  And so, I

think, there really has to be a point in which you just put certain things

outside of the spectrum of sort of civil discourse.


HAYES:  I don‘t know.  I mean, that‘s the problem, right?  I mean, you

call them out.

OLBERMANN:  I know.  I‘m not going to put you on the spot because I

have no answer to that either.

HAYES:  Right.  Look, I mean, I believe in John Stuart Mill that the

response to bad speech is more speech, right?  And you call them out as

much as possible.  But, you know, again, it seems like there‘s a structural

problem here that has to be kind of on tact.

And I think that, hopefully, what you see are some people on the

right, you know, standing up to say, look, we are—this is fundamentally

we want to be a democratic nonviolent movement.  Those are two

incredibly important words, not a revolutionary movement.  And those things

are really distinct.


OLBERMANN:  Pledge it with everything from the left, starting with

those exact words.  Literally, every speech given by somebody on the left

or the Democratic Party or even a moderate or independent should start by

saying, “We are pledged to nonviolence.”

HAYES:  Yes.  We are a Democratic nonviolent movement.

OLBERMANN:  Exactly.  We are—yes, we are American nonviolent—we

got all—we wave the flag and everything else.

Chris Hayes of “The Nation”—great thanks, Chris.

HAYES:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  And what about the place that‘s so far right wing that FOX

is considered part of their problem?  We‘ll take you inside a tea party

meeting with a congressman in Louisiana.  But fortunately, Tiger Woods is

back, restoring America‘s will to live.


OLBERMANN:  Tiger Woods reminds us there aren‘t golf terms that sound

like double entendres as he tees and tries to sink a few eight-inch putts.

But, first, on this date in 1946 was born James Augustus Hunter, one

of the great baseball pitchers of the 1970s, and a hall of famer for that,

also the game‘s first big money free agent.  But more importantly, one of

the great people of sports, humble and generous of his time, even to rookie

reporters of 1979 like me, and so revered that when he was dying of ALS and

decided to auction off personal memorabilia to set up college funds for his

grandchildren, it wasn‘t just collectors like me, but also then active

Major League Baseball players, like Jerry Deputo (ph) who made sure none of

those items went for less than twice of what they were thought to be worth.

Let‘s play “Oddball.”


OLBERMANN:  Different kind of baseball story, at Houston.  Hello!  The

Astros taking on the San Francisco Giants.  This is the Giants outfielder,

Eugenio Velez pinch-hitting in the 7th inning and sporting a Giant typo. 

“I left my spellcheck in San Francicso—c-i-c-s-o.  Velez told the AP he

didn‘t know his jersey was misspelled.  The club reassures the fans the

jersey will be fixed before the next road game.

San Francicso moves on to face last year‘s Washington Nationals

in the misspelling class.

In (INAUDIBLE) residents were dealing with the influx of white

pelicans.  To better explain a local morning show brought in bird expert

Walt Crawford in scoop the pelican, starting in, you can see where this is

going.  Poor Walt got the scoop.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, yes, somebody called.

WALT CRAWFORD, BIRD EXPERT:  Don‘t bite.  Oh.  Oh.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you ok, Walt?  Are you ok, Walt?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, he‘s going to step back.  Yes, he got him

right there in the unmentionables.  Darn you, Mr. Pelican?



OLBERMANN:  Anyway.  Mr. Crawford was not quite done getting

pelican briefed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not a second time, no.  Oh.  Oh my God,

Walter, are you all right there?

CRAWFORD:  I‘ll be fine.


OLBERMANN:  Is that a natural thing or did he train him to do

that?  Mr. Crawford is recovering; might benefit from a new line of working

not to mention ice.

Somehow that segues us perfectly into the return of Tiger Woods with

Eugene Robinson next on the COUNTDOWN.  I‘m sorry.


OLBERMANN:  For teeing it up today it had been exactly 144 days since

Tiger Woods last played professional golf.  144 days, which is of course a

gross, which is how one blogger describes the new Tiger Woods Nike ad,

“opportunistic, gross, typical,” writes Jessica Wakeman on

for news stories.

In our third story, Tiger Woods is back in the headlines for

making par, not making sexy time.  And his new commercial for Nike is

creeping people out.  At the 74th Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia

aired on ESPN, he has some real threesome (ph) highlight that we have to

credit him verbally to.  Woods and his threesome, no giggling, had a 1:42

p.m. tee time.

Security was heavy.  Phillip Bundy of the “New York Daily News”

an exceptional reporter noting a conversation he overheard between a

security guard and a spectator.  “What happens if he yelled at someone else

in his group, would you still get pounced?”  The spectator asked.  The

guard nodded.

On Monday, Woods said the reception from the gallery for his

practice round blew him away.  Today the crowd was once again in full

throat, the cheering on the ground was loud and sustained.

In the air above Augusta National was an airplane towing a

billboard that read, “Tiger, did you mean Bootyism?”  An obvious play on

the Buddhism fate, Tiger Woods professes and of course his love for pirate

treasure.  We don‘t know if he saw the billboard, we do know that after 18

holes he‘s in the clubhouse at four under, his best opening day at the

Masters ever.

And that Nike commercial, Nike first bought air time for it on

ESPN on the Golf Channel, it has been all over the place for free since. 

As you see, it features Tiger Woods mute, staring into a camera, blinking

once in a while he gets life coach narration from the disembodied voice of

his deceased father, Earl.



out what your feelings are and did you learn anything?


OLBERMANN:  A person familiar with the production told “The Wall

Street Journal” the audio of Earl Woods was culled from old interviews and

that Tiger Woods and his mother both approved the commercial.  Something

tells me they did not approve of the following Internet remakes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Rehabilitated.  Well, now, let me see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, it‘s—it‘s Tiger.  Can you please take your

name off your phone?  My wife went through my phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Most of you have at one time or another been told

about venereal diseases.  You‘ve been frightened and no doubt you‘ve been

warned of the terrible consequences of getting a venereal disease.  Use of

the sex organs has no affect on their ultimate size, but overuse may have

an exhausting effect as all athletes know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Quickly.  All right.  Bye.


OLBERMANN:  Let‘s bring in the associate editor and Pulitzer

Prize winning columnist of the “Washington Post”, MSNBC political analyst,

Eugene Robinson who gets to follow that.

Good evening, Eugene.


OLBERMANN:  I know you‘ve been watching this as you‘ve been writing

your column today.  At least, from the people who are on the ground, is the

reception for Tiger Woods about what you expected?

ROBINSON:  Actually, it‘s warmer than I expected it to be.  He really

got quite a boost, I think, at the first hole.  Now, granted, anyone who

heckled him at the Masters was going to be bounced off the grounds.  So

people knew that.

But he was quite warmly received.  It wasn‘t maybe as

enthusiastic as it could have been in some other years.  But it certainly

seemed to buoy him as he smoked his first drive down the middle of the

fairway for, you know—it was like the old Tiger Woods, only actually

statistically it was better—


ROBINSON:  -- than the old Tiger Woods.  His best he‘s ever done

in the first round of the Masters.  And I‘m sure his peers are delighted to

see that the layoff really doesn‘t seem to have rusted him up very much.

OLBERMANN:  The commercial, the Nike ad, the sports columnist for your

paper, Tracy Hamilton, said that the ad portrayed penance as commodity

which is a great point.  But if your penance is sponsored, did you not just

erase the line that you‘ve been trying to draw between sports over here and

personal life over there?

ROBINSON:  You completely wiped out the line.  If you—you just

obliterated it.  I did—look, it was—that ad is, I think you have to

agree, everyone should agree that it is really pretty creepy.

It is, I would say, devastatingly effective in that we‘re all

talking about it, and thinking about it, and it does sort of work its way

into your consciousness.  But I‘m not sure in a good way.  But it does work

its way in.

That—you know, does it sell anything for Nike, I don‘t know? 

But it gets them out there.  Does it do anything for Tiger Woods?  Well, I

think it does kind of belie what he has been saying about this internal

process of self-discovery that he‘s been going through.  That‘s—you

know, you have existential conversations—


ROBINSON:  -- with your late father I think in private.  I don‘t

think you do it on television with a Nike swoosh there.

OLBERMANN:  He does sort of look like Oliver in the gruel line, asking

please, sir, can I have some more which is perhaps not the message that he

wants to get across.

ROBINSON:  I don‘t think so.


ROBINSON:  I don‘t think so.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, last point here and this is—this I think has

taught us that every golf term is a double entendre if you‘re in the

correct mood, right?

ROBINSON:  Every single one.  Look, this is a sport in which, let‘s

face it.  We talk a lot about strokes.  We talk a lot about holes.  I mean,

it is just—it‘s just there.  And if one has the proper kind of juvenile

frame of mind, which I usually do and I know you usually do, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s right.

ROBINSON:  Then, yes, it‘s all a double entendre.

OLBERMANN:  Never mind laying up.

Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist of the

“Washington Post” and like myself, a 13-year-old kid.  Great thanks for

your time, brother.  We‘re good to talk to you, my friend.

Let‘s go down to the swimming pool now.

ROBINSON:  It‘s good to talk to you, man.

OLBERMANN:  We‘ll go see Yu Chi.  Yu Chi is down there right now, I

think we‘re opening bubble gum cards in a moment.  Thanks Eugene.

ROBINSON:  Good night.

OLBERMANN:  John Hodgman, author, actor, humorist and participant in

our secret number one story which involves my apology, redemption and my


Yes, there are places worse than those TEA Party rallies, like

those intimate TEA Party gatherings with the local Congressman.  We‘ll take

you inside one of them.  Don‘t wear your good shoes.

And a two-fer for Tom Coburn who makes “The Worst Persons List” who

call himself courageous for screwing people on unemployment and he

describes Rachel as “emotional”.  So I‘ll be gentle on him since she will

probably make him regret entering public service.

Coming up at the top of the hour.


OLBERMANN:  Worsts and Sean Hannity selects the worst president

in U.S. history, and your hint, Millard Fillmore is safe.

First, tonight‘s quick comment and you want to see what‘s wrong with

America right now?  Not just the new University of Washington survey, which

we‘ll go into in-depth tomorrow which surveyed TEA partiers and found out

that the white people in the move, quote, “Are racially resentful, who

believe the U.S. government has done too much to support blacks are 36

percent more likely to support the TEA Party than those who are not.”

But let‘s go, courtesy of their own video, inside the Red River

TEA Party of Louisiana, as it listened to Congressman John Fleming.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Why don‘t more doctors do like the doctor,

the urologist in Florida has done and refuse to take it and put up a sign. 

Then what can they do?  They can‘t put them all in jail or what will


REP. JOHN FLEMING ®, LOUISIANA:  The question is what about this

urologist in Florida, who put up a sign “If you voted for Obama you need

not come here for care.”


OLBERMANN:  Yes.  The woman somehow thinks doctors are largely

opposed to health care reform, when in fact they largely support it.  But

to continue—


FLEMING:  I applaud what he said and did and it‘s his first

amendment right to do that.


OLBERMANN:  Really?  He‘s got a first amendment right to see

patients based on how they voted?  Is that the same first amendment right

to doctors in the south used to invoke and to refuse treatment of black

people or keep them out of hospitals?

At this point the Congressman warns the TEA Partiers not to do

things that would permit the media to quote, “demonize them” unquote.


FLEMING:  That‘s something that we conservatives have to be very

careful about, and even you the TEA Party, too where you know, the claims

have been made that you spat upon people and that you use racial epithets. 

Now we know that isn‘t true.


OLBERMANN:  Of course you do.  Because the word of a second year

Congressman should always be believed over the word of a 23-year veteran of

the House and hero of the Civil Rights Movement, like John Lewis, who was

obviously lying when he said the words were shouted at him in the halls of

Congress, because we all know Civil Rights agitators of the 60s were

communists, especially the black ones.


FLEMING:  The mainstream media still goes out there and talks

about it.  Even Fox sometimes talks about it, and they put Republicans into

a defensive position, they put you in a defensive position.  So, you see,

we‘re definitely fighting with one hand tied behind our backs.

So we have to be very careful to be effective without being

characterized as wingnuts and marginal militiamen and people like they‘re

trying to do to you.


OLBERMANN:  Congressman, members of the Red River TEA Ku Klux

Klan, let me clue you in.  When you think Fox News is trying to put you on

the defensive, Fox News, nobody‘s characterizing you as wingnuts, or

marginal or militiamen, you are Wingnuts and marginal and militiamen.


OLBERMANN:  I can‘t tell you anything about the number one story,

except that actor, writer and humorist, John Hodgman is here as my guest

and my spirit guide.  That‘s next.

But first, tonight‘s “Worst Persons in the World”.  The bronze we

give to Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota.  It turns out not only did he sell

himself out enough to attend the Bachmann/Palin fear festival yesterday and

encourage his formerly moderate base to attempt to reelect the mad woman of

Minnesota.  He did something even stranger.  The Wonkette site reports

Pawlenty bought the Web domain name and used it to

redirect traffic to his own site.

When you sell your soul one percent at a time Governor, does it

feel the same way as when you do it all at once?  Could you compare notes

on that with Senator McCain?

The runner-up Sean Hannity, one of the trained seals at Fox News, “You

put all this in toto in its entirety and we‘re looking at not only the

socialization, Europe-ization of the Western European socialist model

coming to America.  We‘re looking at a—the end of capitalism in America

as we know it.

I want to add a point.  He is—and I say this with all

sincerity and passion that I can muster up—he will go down in American

history as the worst president we‘ve ever had.  And I‘m talking about

national security and I‘m talking about economic issues.”

Wow, Hannity thinks Bush will go down in American history as the

worst President—Obama?  Oh, I should have known when Hannity said, “I

say this with all sincerity and passion that I can muster up,” which is

like a two, on the scale of 100.

Do we need to review what the comparable point in the Bush

presidency how many Americans were already dead because of his negligence

or how many would die in Iraq because of his obsessions?

But the winner is Senator Tom Coburn continuing to bounce all

over the place ethically and politically.  His grand stand stunt to block

unemployment benefits is symbolic, not really harmful to anybody, he says,

because it only affects, quote, “A relatively small group of people.  The

easiest thing in the world is to pass this bill unpaid for.  But consider

the millions of Americans whose financial futures would be damaged versus

the relatively small amount of people who will be affected by this delay. 

Now, you tell me which vote takes the most courage.”

The number of Americans who will temporarily lose their

unemployment benefits while Coburn preens over pay-as-you-go, when he

helped put this country in debt by supporting Bush‘s pay later for

everything in Iraq.  The number that this affects is 212,000 -- 212,000. 

That is twice the population of the City of Norman in Senator Coburn‘s


Meaning to him, Norman, Oklahoma, is only half of a relatively

small amount of people.

You know what courage is, Senator?  Trying to live on

unemployment, especially when some hypocritical holier than now idiot in

Washington cuts your unemployment off for a week.  Senator Tom “not a

profile in courage” Coburn today‘s “Worst Person in the World”.


OLBERMANN:  Just about anybody in the world can now call, text, e-

mail, blog, post on Facebook, G-chat and, of course, Tweet.  Now, those

last examples represent just a fraction of all the ways we can communicate

on the Worldwide Web, as if it is so vitally important for everyone to know

what everyone else is doing and thinking at every possibly moment. 

I obviously have yet another way to communicate, since I have my

own TV show, more importantly, a blog.  Late in the summer of 2008, I even

signed up for Twitter, then I suddenly thought, I think I might

accidentally give a lot of people my e-mail address.  So I blinked.

All right, look, I‘m still adjusting to the idea of cable TV. 

And I used to believe in brownies and elves.

But adjustment is life.  Thus, in our number one story in the

COUNTDOWN tonight, live at our stage, I will type out my very first Tweet. 

And before I do that, John Hodgman will answer all my questions about it.

Twitter began on March 21st, 2006, with a message from one of its

co-founders Jack Dorsey quoting, “Just setting up my Twitter”.  From such

humble origins, Mr. Watson, the mighty full-scale version was launched in

July of that year.  And the next thing you knew, people had followers.

Like I always thought people were following me anyway, so why add

technology to paranoia?  So my Twitter account was as voiceless, as it

could be.  But tonight I‘m taking another swing at it.  There is my Twitter

page.  Here is my address, @KeithOlbermann.  yes there it is.  So you can

follow me if you want.  And so you already got it now, because I got seven

followers before we even started this thing.

Although, as you saw right now, those are not Tweets, those are

the sounds of crickets.

Joining me now as promised, humorist and Twitter expert, John

Hodgman, also author of “More information than you Require”.  If I can

interrupt you, John, I‘d like to say good evening.

JOHN HODGMAN, HUMORIST:  I‘m sorry, I was just updating my Twitter

feed.  I apologize.

OLBERMANN:  Very nice.

HODGMAN:  Yes, seven followers already.  Very nice, Keith, you‘re

doing well—doing well so far.

OLBERMANN:  This is like speaking before birth, right?

HODGMAN:  Yes, exactly so, yes, yes.

OLBERMANN:  Or having people listening to you before birth.

HODGMAN:  Indeed.

OLBERMANN:  240 followers.  Ok, the cats out of the bag, right?

HODGMAN:  Very good.

OLBERMANN:  Why do I want to do this?

HODGMAN:  Well, I can only speak for myself.


HODGMAN:  I enjoy Twitter because I am an egomaniac.  And it

amuses me.  It‘s like being able to pass a note simultaneously to everyone

in class.  And the class sometimes grows to be the size of a small town or


OLBERMANN:  There you go.

HODGMAN:  So for me, and for lots of people who use Twitter, it‘s

essentially having your own broadcast television show for the very few of

us who do not already have their own cable television show.

OLBERMANN:  Exactly, ok, seriously.

HODGMAN:  That will change in the future, but for now we have


OLBERMANN:  Thank goodness it‘s changed or neither of us would be

sitting here at the moment.  I‘d be raising plants.

What do my follower—follower—potential follower.

HODGMAN:  You‘re growing—you‘re growing crowd.

OLBERMANN:  My growing crowd, what do they want to know?

HODGMAN:  They want to know behind the scenes type stuff.  I mean,

Twitter is an intimate medium.


HODGMAN:  I know, one of my followers ask me to ask you about

showing you‘re Cornell degree again.

OLBERMANN:  Oh yes, -- thank you.

HODGMAN:  I think people would like to know what you‘re wearing on

your feet right now.  But they want you—with all writing, you have to

always tell the truth.  You have to be honest.  This is an honest medium.

So you might want to tell them, for example, about the green room

here, and how Chris Hayes had an ice sculpture of his head and a chocolate

fondue fountain and I had instant coffee.  I don‘t know why that happened

maybe because he booked me so late.  I don‘t know.

OLBERMANN:  I didn‘t know we had a green room.  There are things they

don‘t tell me.

HODGMAN:  Always be honest.

OLBERMANN:  Should I Tweet during the commercials and if so, what?

HODGMAN:  Yes, if you choose to—you shouldn‘t—you shouldn‘t

tweet more than you feel like tweeting.


HODGMAN:  There are going to be a lot of people that are going to

yell at you that you‘re tweeting too much.


HODGMAN:  An equal number of people are going to yell at you that

you‘re not tweeting enough.  A large—and one of the great things about

Twitter is you get to encounter this whole hive mind, this crowd of people,

and you get to see crowd dynamics very clearly.

OLBERMANN:  The collective—

HODGMAN:  Indeed and there is a percentage of people who are

always going to be yelling at you.  You need to know this right away.

OLBERMANN:  So it matches the rest of my life completely?

HODGMAN:  Yes exactly—

OLBERMANN:  Only those people here in management.  Or maybe it

just can be followers.  MAC or PC?

HODGMAN:  Well, you know I am a MAC user myself.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, I‘m sure yes.

HODGMAN:  So you know, Twitter is good on any platform but it was

designed for mobile devices initially—


HODGMAN:  -- or so I‘ve been told, so you can use your iPhone or

you‘re iPad.

OLBERMANN:  I actually—

HODGMAN:  My iHand that I have, this is a prototype.

OLBERMANN:  I saw that on “The Outer Limits” once years and years ago.

HODGMAN:  Yes, me and Sarah Palin have one.

OLBERMANN:  Oh lord, well, she got the prototype.

HODGMAN:  Yes she did.

OLBERMANN:  But it didn‘t worked that well.

HODGMAN:  Yes this is very popular.

OLBERMANN:  With two minutes left in the show.


HODGMAN:  I suppose, I should just do this now.  And I—would

it be appropriate to sort of apologize for not being involved previously in

someway to sort of acknowledge that I didn‘t—like—here we go.

HODGMAN:  Well—have you used a keyboard before?


HODGMAN:  It‘s fantastic.  You‘re getting there.

OLBERMANN:  I type with one finger.  This is true.

HODGMAN:  I‘m going to beat you.


HODGMAN:  I am going to beat—

OLBERMAN:  Good for you.  But I‘m doing the whole thing.  Belongs to

the ages—

HODGMAN:  It came out I‘m going to bear him.

OLBERMANN:  Oh and he—I got disconnected from the MSNBC thing.

HODGMAN:  Do you need some barbecue joint recommendations because my

followers would be happy to help you?  That‘s one of the great things about


OLBERMANN:  All right, we‘re ready to go if you want to go.  Here it

is, at 8:58, 43, it‘s out.  Yes, there it is.  See?  I give up.  I was

wrong, young and foolish.  Now my twitter-cot belongs to the ages.  Behold,

I tweet.

So they‘ll get more substantive than that I hope.

HODGMAN:  I know you were working on that all last night.  But do

try to improvise in the future.

OLBERMANN:  Well, yes.  Do I have to wear a hat while tweeting?

HODGMAN:  A tweet hat?


HODGMAN:  It‘s recommended.

OLBERMANN:  And I don‘t get a separate device just for tweeting, other

than that hand that you described, the tweet hand?

HODGMAN:  Oh no, you can use it on any platform whatsoever.

OLBERMANN:  I have to get a platform?

HODGMAN:  You need to get a platform and a hat.

OLBERMANN:  A diving platform?

HODGMAN:    Or you can get a mortarboard hat that can serve as a


OLBERMANN:  If I got that when I got my degree at Cornell.

HODGMAN:  There you go.  You‘re already serving your audience.

OLBERMANN:  I forgot my standup terminology.  That‘s the next thing—

HODGMAN:  So the main reason that have you to Twitter, Keith, of

course is because Maddow‘s doing it.

OLBERMANN:  For a long time.


OLBERMANN:  2,654 followers.  I can‘t command—

HODGMAN:  That‘s very quick.  Isn‘t that fun to watch?


HODGMAN:  Spend the whole next show just watching that—

OLBERMANN:  That‘s great because I need to really boost my ego at all.

HODGMAN:  Yes, you and me both.

OLBERMANN:  John Hodgman, author, humorist, Twitter, teacher, teacher

of Twitter, great thanks.

HODGMAN:  I‘m glad to be able to help you.  When I am your youth

correspondent, you have problems.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this, the 2,534th day since the

previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.

I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

And now to discuss why Senator Tom Coburn will regret ever calling her

emotional; ladies and gentlemen here with ice running through her veins is

Rachel Maddow.




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