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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Kenneth Vogel, John Dean, Steve Clemons, Derrick Pitts, Joel

Hodgson, J. Elvis Weinstein, Trace Beaulieu.

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

be talking about tomorrow?


Smoking gun, as the Tea Party Express in Boston draws only 5,000, the

idea that it is independent grassroots—destroyed.  “Politico” finds a

2009 memo, Republican consultants dreamt it up and planned it as a way to

raise money for their PAC and planned how to promote it on FOX News. 

Independents who aren‘t, news that is propaganda.




applaud you for uniting and for putting up with all the B.S. from the lame-

stream media.


OLBERMANN:  But the memo shows, madam, it‘s all a con-game.

The Oklahoma politicians bent to create a state militia to fight

against the federal government, this little surprise from the Article II

Section II of the Constitution, “The president shall be commander-in-chief

of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the

several states”?  Uh-oh!  Our guest, John Dean.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  That old Beach Boy song, “Bomb Iran,”

you know, bomb, bomb, bomb—


OLBERMANN:  Then, it was just funny.

Now, on Iran, he‘s just the “Ayatollah McCain.”


MCCAIN:  We keep pointing the gun.  We haven‘t pulled a single trigger

yet.  And it‘s about time that we did.


OLBERMANN:  “Worsts”: Billo says he‘s proved nobody on fixed news ever

said you‘d go to jail if you don‘t buy insurance, except the FOX guy who

said it on Billo‘s show.

And the men who made talking during cheesy movies into high art—


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You know the penalty for acting without


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think everyone in this movie is acting without



OLBERMANN:  Our special guests: Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, J. Elvis

Weinstein, and their new live show “Cinematic Titanic.”  Time to go to bed! 

Push the button, Frank.

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What do you see, CAT scan man?




OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

We begin tonight in unprecedented fashion.  Liberals, progressives,

Democrats, our top story tonight is not really for you, though you are

encouraged to rubber neck at the train wreck.

Tonight, our fifth story is a genuine and sincerely genuine attempt to

help tea party members around the country.  “Politico,” a mainstream

political news Web site, today publishing a secret document it obtained

establishing definitively that some of the nation‘s top tea party leaders

are using you—using you to line their own pockets and propagate the

precise establishment politics that you hate so much.

Here it is.  And the reporter who got it is standing by to talk with

us.  It was written just days after last year‘s Tax Day tea parties

proposing the creation of the Tea Party Express, the group that launched

1,000 bus tours.  The express charter was not written by a tea party

leader, nor even by a grassroots independent, but by a Republican operative

telling “Politico” the Tea Party Express could, quote, “give a boost to his

consulting firm‘s PAC,” political action committee, “and position us as a

growing force.”

The charter is worth quoting at length, bringing established tea party

leaders unto the express, quote, “will be a very, sensitive matter.  We

have to be very careful about discussing amongst ourselves anyone we

include outside of the family, because quite frankly, we are not only not

part of the political establishment of conservative establishment, but we

are also sadly not currently part of the tea party establishment, i.e.,

Michelle Malkin, Eric Odom, Smart Girl Politics, TCOP, FreedomWorks, Newt

Gingrich, et cetera.  We could probably pull off a phenomenally successful

tour without these big-ego establishment types.”

The document also talks about how to appear authentic.  “We‘ve already

discussed doing a casting call among our Nevada supports and donors to

appear in at least one of our TV ads targeting Harry Reid—to buttress

our ‘authenticity,‘ their quote marks, in running ads in the state.”

One goal, electing Republicans, quote, “It is also worth considering

making a return run to Michigan.  Former Republican Michigan governor, John

Engler, has recently stated that he believes the Republican Party will do

quite well in Michigan.”

But the big goal of founding firm Russo Marsh?  Money—for them. 

Sal Russo telling “Politico,” “We‘re hardly making any money at all.” 

“Politico” reporting that after its scheme, the PAC quadrupled its

fundraising, paying almost half that money to the Russo Marsh consulting

firm itself and to Russo Marsh‘s sister company King Media Group.

The PAC‘s former political director telling “Politico,” quote, “We

stole the brand name to make money.”

None of which stopped Sarah Palin from shilling for the Tea Party

Express today in Boston.


PALIN:  So, Tea Party Express, we applaud you for uniting and for

putting up with all the B.S. from the lame-stream media with some of the

ginned up controversy with the tea parties, false accusations of being—

this group being racist, being violent.  Thank you to the Tea Party Express

for putting up with that and still uniting Americans.


OLBERMANN:  In a whole new way tonight, in the way of the three-card

Monty dealer, this woman is an idiot.

And if tea partiers still doubt they are being played, consider what

Palin said at the Tea Party Express rally about Tax Freedom Day, the day

signifying what portion of the year you work to pay your taxes.  The later

it is, the higher your taxes are.  This year it fell on April 9th

meaning you worked 99 days just to pay your taxes.  This year and last, as

the Tax Foundation itself shows, the earliest, therefore the lowest tax

days in decades.

Under Bush it was never earlier than April 14th.  Meaning, you worked

at least 104 days for the government under Bush.

But here was Palin today—


PALIN:  Folks, we need your voice now more than ever.  Americans now

spend 100 days out of the year working for government before we even start

earning money for ourselves, for our families, for our small businesses—

100 days out of the year.


OLBERMANN:  That‘s—whoa!

As promised now, “Politico‘s” senior reporter, Ken Vogel.

Great thanks for your time tonight, Ken.

KENNETH VOGEL, POLITICO.COM:  Hey.  Great to be with you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Opinion aside, have I got the factual outline of your

story correct?  Is there anything else we should add to get it straight?

VOGEL:  Well, the firm, Russo Marsh, and its operatives have really

pushed back hard against this idea that they‘re making a lot of money off

of it.  They say, yes, we received $1.9 million in payments from this PAC,

which is now the Tea Party Express, but a lot of that was for overhead.  We

passed it through to television stations for ad buys.  We passed it through

to e-mail list vendors, to rent lists.

But, of course, a lot of that then comes back to them because they‘re

using these ads and they‘re using these e-mails to direct people back to

the PAC to give them more money.  And, in fact, the firm has not made

hardly any money from any other client other than this PAC since they‘ve

sort of unveiled this Tea Party Express branding.

And there‘s no doubt about it, this plan has been a wild success

beyond the sort of most ambitious expectations of these operatives.  They

are in the conversation, both within the tea party and beyond, and they

have tapped the tea party for a sustainable revenue stream in a way that

many others have tried but have not succeeded.

OLBERMANN:  The Russo Marsh operatives also have been insisting today

that they believe in the cause, but they have dropped some of their

previous policy priorities to fit in with the tea party, correct?

VOGEL:  That‘s right.  And they make no bones about it—they sort of

search for where the energy is on the right.  And in some ways, they kind

of have a chameleon sensibility to them.  In 2003, where the energy was,

they‘re out in California, mind you, was in the attempted and successful

recall of then-Democratic Governor Gray Davis.  They were behind that. 

They talked about after that ended, using the e-mail list and sort of the

status that they built up during that to launch sort of a conservative

Then during the 2008 presidential campaign, they went out and attacked

President Obama, then-candidate Obama, in ways that even John McCain ruled

out of bounds, invoking his controversial preacher—Obama‘s controversial

former pastor, Reverend Wright, and praising Sarah Palin.

And now, the energy‘s with the tea parties.  And so, they‘re on that,

and they‘re doing quite well with it.

OLBERMANN:  This document that you unearthed also said they were

counting on FOX News—not just to mention or n some journalistic sense,

cover, but to promote the concept, the Tea Party Express.  Tonight, there

is a report that the Society of Professional Journalists is calling Sean

Hannity‘s charge or planned charge admission for a taping of his show at a

tea party event, which is going to happen tomorrow tonight, wrong,

incestuous and a clear conflict of interest.

Essentially, this is what the Tea Party Express was counting on?

VOGEL:  I mean, they were counting on FOX News commentators to promote

their rallies, their bus tour, to kind of offset their lack of credibility

within the tea party movement, to give them an edge up.  Of course, FOX

News has differentiated between its commentators and its news side.  But

there‘s no question that this group that became the Tea Party Express saw

this as part of a business model.

OLBERMANN:  I actually was being sincere when I said that the story

was for the benefit of the people in the tea party.  But even if they don‘t

believe me—are there—are there actually tea party leaders who would

agree with me?

VOGEL:  Oh, many of the, sort of, grassroots tea party leaders have

called for distancing themselves and their activists from these tea

parties.  But some have even called for boycotts of their rallies.

But what‘s ironic here, Keith, is that this group has used the very

sort of tactics of Republican politics and has benefited from their years

in Republican politics to kind of circumvent the questions about their

credibility and their sort of grassroots standing within the tea party

movement.  And they‘ve done so successfully in sort of a slick—slickly-

produced, you know, very well-scouted out bus tour manner that has left

them in kind of a unique position as the one group that has cracked the

code of being able to profit from and advance their own status from the tea

party movement.

OLBERMANN:  Ken Vogel, senior reporter for “Politico”—great work. 

It‘s an unbelievable story.  It‘s a remarkable story.  Thanks for bringing

it to us and great thanks for your time tonight, Ken.

VOGEL:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  OK, Democrats, progressives, liberals, re-engage.  This

next one matters to all of us.

Oklahoma Republican Gubernatorial candidate Randy Brogdon is now

backing off his endorsement of a plan to create a new state militia for the

express purpose of resisting the U.S. federal government.  He said it would

instead be used to supplement the National Guard during emergencies.

Another right wing tea party mastermind behind this idea wrote last

year that his state senators are rock solid behind him.  In a statement

today to COUNTDOWN, Senator Inhofe today said, he, quote, “does not support

an Oklahoma state sanctioned militia and thinks tea partiers should focus

their efforts within civil society on issues where they can make a


Also asked to respond, Coburn‘s spokesman saying, that‘s the worst

question of the week.

Thanks for watching, staff of Senator Coburn.

Let‘s turn now to the former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean,

also author of “Worse than Watergate” and “Conservatives Without

Conscience” and, of course, a columnist at

John, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  All right.  Candidate Brogdon initially said that the

Second Amendment, quote, “deals directly with the right of an individual to

bear arms, to protect themselves from an overreaching federal government.” 

Is that—does he have a special super-notated copy of the Constitution

the rest of us haven‘t seen?

DEAN:  Maybe he was standing upside down when he read it, Keith, I‘m

not sure.  Obviously, he seems to have gotten it straight now and has

pulled back.

Absolutely not.  The militia was an idea that the founders thought

should be in each state.  If the national government needed them, there

they would be, rather than having a standing army.  Not that they should

create them under this.

OLBERMANN:  The Constitution actually says—let me read it, that

part, but not the whole thing, but just this relevant part.  “President

shall be commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States and

of the militia of the several states.”

So, if they want to do this and they want to be strict

constitutionalists, this militia that they create to resist the federal

government will be under the guidance of President Obama?

DEAN:  Exactly.  In fact, there is statutory authority for that.  That

is the—that is the contemplation of the Constitution that the president,

as commander-in-chief, could indeed call on the state militia and have them

indeed follow his orders.  I‘m not sure that what was initially envisioned

had Mr. Obama in charge of their operation.

OLBERMANN:  Kind of a surprise for those behind this.

Here‘s a question that I‘ve heard asked a lot in the last two days

since this story broke out of Oklahoma.  Is just proposing the creation of

some sort of armed force to defy U.S. law, is that itself illegal?  Is

there a line somewhere between expressing it and trying to activate it in

some sort of governmental fashion as was proposed in Oklahoma?

DEAN:  Sedition, which is sort of the words, the thoughts, the evil

plans, if you will, per se, are certainly not illegal, have not been in a

long time.  We‘ve had sedition statutes in the past.  They‘ve been severely

criticized.  They‘re not a wise idea.

But indeed where you cross the line is when you go from sedition to

treason and that‘s putting them in place.

OLBERMANN:  And how does that interact—we know that the idea of the

militia, the state militia, is constitutional.  It‘s in the Constitution. 

It has never been amended out for any reason.

What would cross the line and make a proposed militia illegal?

DEAN:  Well, indeed to use that militia to take on the federal

government.  That‘s, of course, what happened in the Civil War.  We‘ve had

sedition before, where it has become treasonous and indeed that‘s the

result.  You find yourself at war with the federal government.  You find

yourself in a civil war situation.  That indeed also is treason.

So, I think the line is pretty clear, and hopefully, these people have

not contemplated crossing it and they‘re backing down.

OLBERMANN:  How close do you suppose we got to any of that with, say,

Governor Faubus in Little Rock in ‘57, I guess it was, or Governor Wallace

later on, or any of the other southern governors in the great decades of

civil rights reform?

DEAN:  Well, pretty close.  When you‘re defying an order of the

Supreme Court and the president has decided he wants to execute that order

as Eisenhower did with Brown v. Board of Education in ‘54, and when he

started implementing the law and the southern governors started resisting

it, it was right at the border.  Of course, they did not use their troops,

and when the federal troops came in and ushered students in to school, that

solved the problem.

But it was about as close as you can get without being in an

insurrection position.  Hopefully, we‘re not going there again, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  The backing away from this seems to be encouraging,

at least, if nothing else out of Oklahoma is at the moment.

John Dean, columnist for, author of “Worse than

Watergate,” and many great books—thank you, John.

DEAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Could any politician be desperate enough for re-nomination

to propose at a Senate hearing another preemptive war against a Middle

Eastern country?  John McCain just did, and this time, he isn‘t just

singing “Bomb, bomb Iran.”


OLBERMANN:  Anybody seriously doubting we picked the right president

year before last?  The runner up announces it‘s time to pull the trigger on

Iran.  At a Senate hearing he says this, “The first man on the moon hates

the new NASA, the second man on the moon loves it.”  Presumably, the second

man had more time to think about it.

Is it actually possible this woman is too nuts even for the tea party? 

And from the primordial ooze it was, Mystery Science Theater to the urbane

sophisticated ooze that is “Cinematic Titanic.”  Three founding fathers

join us later on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Senator John McCain, former presidential nominee in a

current bid for re-nomination to that Senate, has today officially evolved

from “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” to pull the trigger.

In our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: The emergence of the “Ayatollah


Just one day after President Obama‘s nuclear security summit, McCain

has undercut the president of the United States and policy towards Iran and

called for unilateral action.  In his opening statement at a Senate hearing

on Iran today, McCain observed that the U.S. has backed off of taking

direct action against that nation despite its potential nuclear threat.


MCCAIN:  So, make no mistake, if Iran achieves a nuclear weapons

capability, it will not be because we couldn‘t stop it, but because we

chose not to stop it.


OLBERMANN:  Senator McCain ended his opening remarks there, then

remembered that he wanted to place into the record various statements from

the Obama administration about Iran, and it is here that the senator made

what appeared to be unscripted remarks about pulling the trigger.


MCCAIN:  Time is running out.  The deadline is near.  Robert Gibbs,

December 3rd—well, we‘re going to have consequences if they don‘t turn

around.  December 20th, 2009, the list goes on and on, of the threats that

we have—that we have made to the Iranians and so far, no action.

George Shultz, my favorite secretary of state in all the world once

said, his marine drill instructor told him, “Never to point a gun at

somebody unless you‘re ready to pull a trigger.”  We keep pointing a gun. 

We haven‘t pulled a single trigger yet.  And it‘s about time we did.


OLBERMANN:  Testimony from that hearing about Iran‘s nuclear

capability was fairly clear, both Pentagon and military officials said that

Iran is at least a year away from enriching enough uranium to build a

nuclear weapon, and three to five years from producing an actual nuclear


As for new sanctions against Iran, McCain disputed Bill Burns in the

State Department who testified that China would not agree to meaningful

sanctions against Iran.  Senator McCain also said that Russian would not

agree to meaningful sanctions either and that Russia has been playing rope-

a-dope with the U.S.  Finally, McCain asks, why doesn‘t the U.S. and its

allies simply act unilaterally, at least to place some sanctions that could

have some effect on Iranian behavior rather than waiting for the United

Nation Security Council.

You may recall that during his presidential run, the senator sang a

little ditty about bombing Iran.  Back then it was just a joke, right?


MCCAIN:  You know that old Beach Boys song, “Bomb Iran”?  You know,

bomb, bomb, bomb—anyway.  I think Iran is a great threat.  The Iranians

are continuing their efforts to acquire a nuclear weapon.


OLBERMANN:  Let‘s turn now to the director of the American strategy

program at the New America Foundation and author of the foreign policy

blog, “The Washington Note,” Steve Clemons.

Steve, thanks for your time, again, tonight.

STEVE CLEMONS, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION:  Great to be with you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Game-plan this for Senator McCain‘s benefit.  We pull the

trigger on Iran and what happens afterwards?

CLEMONS:  Well, I think first thing that happens is—that what we‘ve

been hearing “death to the dictator” goes right back to “death to America”

again.  The CIA was involved in overthrowing a democratically-elected

leader in Iran in 1953, and I think to many Iranians, this will look like

it again.  And if we bomb Iran, every major intelligence and military

expert I know says it‘s only a delaying tactic.  So, you end up with a much

angrier Iran with nuclear weapons down the road.

So, while you can delay and you can pre-empt some of the activity we

see now, it‘s a sure fire way of creating either a terrorist super highway

right up to the edge of Israel, and an Iran that begins to flex its muscles

globally on a lot of other fronts.

So, I think it‘s a very, very nasty picture that John McCain is

talking recklessly about.

OLBERMANN:  He seemed to be hinting afterwards that he meant this

metaphorically—to do something, rather than just to exclusively mean

this, this meant a strike against the nuclear facilities in Iran.  Did he

mean it metaphorically, or was this—was there a dog whistle to the

nuclear cowboy crowd at minimum here?

CLEMONS:  Well, I think, with all due respect to Senator McCain, this

is what we used to see at the forefront of the George W. Bush

administration, less so in the latter part of the Bush administration, but

a lot of swagger, you know, a lot of attitude, toughness.  Not thinking

like allegedly one of John McCain‘s former heroes, Richard Nixon, would

have approached this with a lot more complexity, depth, trying to think

about how you shape the global order in a, you know, “Nixon goes to China”

moment.  John McCain is talking about sort of bilaterally hitting Iran on

the head and abandoning all of our allies.

And I‘ll tell you, if we bomb Iran, it may create just exactly the

kind of glue that would bring Russia, China and Iran together.  The three

of them, a global economic energy superpower like we‘ve never seen before

that breaks the back of Europe and the United States and Japan.

So, bombing Iran could have untold, unbelievable unexpected

circumstances.  It doesn‘t mean you want to appease them, but you certainly

don‘t want to be reckless like this and talk about pulling a trigger or

singing jingles about bombing Iran.

OLBERMANN:  So, assuming Senator McCain doesn‘t want a Chinese,

Russian, Iranian superpower—let‘s just say that for the sake of

argument, short of bombing Iran and the officials of this nation keep

saying all options are on the table—what other options are there other

than increasingly tougher sanctions combined with diplomacy?

CLEMONS:  Well, you know, there are three options.  There‘s the one

option, which is to appease everything Iran is doing and I think a lot of

people don‘t buy that.  A second option is bomb them, take military action

and I think that actually ends a lot of—neither of those are real


The third is to do a lot more of what Barack Obama did this week,

which is to shore up again a global commitment to non-proliferation regime

and to working together in a way that leaves Iran, which I think on some

levels besides wanting to be respected by having nuclear weapons, craves

inclusion.  And I think by leaving them somewhat outside of this new

building momentum that I think Barack Obama has put together, you create

pressure on Iran in other ways.

I also think and it‘s not often discussed that doing things to like

further the Israeli/Palestinian two-state process and also diminishing our,

I guess, overextension in places like Afghanistan, are sure-fire ways to

remind Iran that we are shaping the global order in a very productive,

constructive way, and they are outside of that.  And we rob Iran of running


That is the real way to confront Iran‘s pretensions and to develop

what could be an opportunity for mutual respect.  That—Barack Obama has

a long way to go on that, but I have to say, the nuclear summit he‘s been

doing has been helping a lot.

OLBERMANN:  Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation and author of

the foreign policy blog, “The Washington Note”—thanks as always, Steve.

CLEMONS:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Never mind “Dancing with the Stars.”  Now, humanity‘s

first two men on the moon are wrestling over America‘s future in the stars.


OLBERMANN:  Neil Armstrong hates it, but Buzz Aldrin loves it.  Next.

First, on this date in 1917 was born Marvin Miller, who as head of the

baseball players union, liberated them, made them billions and made the

owners billions, and unbelievably is not in the Hall of Fame as he should

be by special election right now.

And Twitter, one week anniversary—wait a second.  Followers,

39,959.  Number of pictures of myself tweeted today?  None.

To follow me, it‘s @KeithOlbermann.  Our tweet of the day from

@whisper1111.  “Sarah Palin only wants to be president for opportunity to

club the presidential seal.”  Let‘s play Oddball.

How‘s that clubby sealy thing working out for you?  To Pan Chi (ph),

India, and the fun-filled execution of a popular tradition, walking across

burning coals.  No, that‘s running.  Owie, owie.  Here are the prevalent

tenets of fire walking, in no particular order: it is a show of devotion to

a Hindu deity.  Devotees fast for seven days before walking across the

burning embers.  So hopefully they are too hungry to notice.  Practitioners

believe that fire walking helps reduce their problems.  Which is fine, but

how come these people are all running. 

To a glacier in Iceland, hello, where a volcano is erupting.  It‘s not

another Mayan‘s 2012 joke, it‘s the real thing.  Run for your safety, if

you‘re on the glacier.  Actually, as unusual as this, there‘s no evidence

it marks any end of days, except the end of Wednesday. 

However, the eruption spewed plenty of smoke and steam and melted a

whole lot of ice.  When are these glaciers going to catch a break?  Eight

hundred residents were evacuated.  An official said no lives nor property

were in danger.  >

Derrick Pitts on the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia on the

astronauts going astro-nuts.  Such an old joke, it just struck me as

stupid.  Buzz Aldrin approves, Neil Armstrong says that‘s one small step

towards mediocrity, next.


OLBERMANN:  On the heels of three veterans of the Apollo Moon missions

calling the president‘s proposal for future space exploration devastating,

Mr. Obama will defend his plan for NASA‘s future at Cape Canaveral

tomorrow.  But, in our third story in the COUNTDOWN, Buzz Aldrin is already

defending it, pitting, oddly, the second man to walk on the Moon against

the first man to walk on the Moon. 

Derrick Pitts joins me in a moment.  Responding to the Obama

administration‘s plans to deep six missions to deep space, Apollo

commanders Neil Armstrong, James Lovell and Eugene Cernan writing in this

letter, as you see, “without the skill and experience that actual

spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long

downhill slide to mediocrity.” 

A second group of NASA veterans is sending a separate letter to the

White House, expressing its disappointment with the plan.  The White House

responding to the criticism with a few—it would retain part of the

otherwise canceled Constellation Moon Program, reviving its space capsule

Orion, sending it unmanned to the International Space Station, to server as

an emergency vehicle.  Also to speed development on a rocket that could go

to Mars, then put six billion into space taxis, and 40 million into

retraining soon to be unemployed Space Center workers. 

Today, the second man on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin, reiterated his support

for the president‘s plan.  The White House releasing his remarks: “the

simple truth is that we‘ve already been to the Moon some 40 years ago.  The

president‘s program will help us be in this endeavor for the long haul.” 

Joining me now, as promised, the chief astronomer for the Franklin

Institute in Philadelphia, Derrick Pitts.  Good evening, Derrick. 


OLBERMANN:  Not bad, yourself? 

PITTS:  Nod bad, thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  Good.  So now we have a NASA family feud, Babe Ruth

arguing with Lou Gehrig.  Who‘s right here? 

PITTS:  The fact of the matter is that if we look at what‘s actually

happening with this program, Keith, and look at the kind of experience we

have, the guys are right that they shouldn‘t let the program wind down to

nothing.  But the Obama plan actually represents a couple of things. 

Number one, it represents and acknowledges, if you will, a kind of

maturation of the space program, because it proposes outsourcing certain

kinds of services that make sense to outsource, like letting the commercial

space segment carry astronauts and cargo up to the International Space


If you really think about what he‘s proposing here, he‘s suggesting

that actually NASA be allowed to do the heavy lifting.  And by that I mean

allowing NASA to pursue the high frontier, you know, this idea of going to

an asteroid and then going on to the moons of Mars and then on to Mars

itself.  That‘s where NASA really ought to be. 

So his program is really taking this program as we know it into a

different realm, a step further.  And the Aldrin-side guys are right about


OLBERMANN:  The heavy lift idea, to the point of the heavy lift rocket

the NASA veteran Chris Craft told the AP, “we need a heavy lift rocket

like we need a hole in the head.”  Is Craft right or is that how we get to

Mars with heavy lifting? 

PITTS:  I have great respect for Chris Craft.  Unfortunately, the fact

is if we want to build spacecraft in low Earth orbit that are going to be

outfitted properly to take us to Mars, we‘re going to need the equipment up

there, we‘re going to need a heavy lift vehicle. 

We have to think about the Space Shuttle program‘s retirement.  The

Space Shuttle program is not being canceled.  It is not being stopped.  It

is coming to the close of the program.  And the reason why is because

International Space Station construction is complete.  So we need a

different vehicle to allow us to take this—these heavier materials up

that are going to build the spacecraft that take us out to the asteroids or

take us on to Mars. 

OLBERMANN:  The other specific in here, the Constellation Program; it

was behind schedule; it was over budget.  Was it right to essentially

abandon it?  And does that mean we are going to give up hope for, say, the

Millennium for returning to the Moon? 

PITTS:  I don‘t think so at all.  If you look at the program, let‘s

ask the American taxpayer what would they prefer.  Would they prefer that

we throw dollars away, throw good money after bad in a program that really

could be retrofitted to do better work for us?  Or is it better to cut it

off now when you look at what the annual budget of the United States is

anyway?  If we can save some money, let‘s save some money and put it where

it really can be put to good use. 

I think the rest of the program, as being described, once it really

gets fully fleshed out and we see what all the details are, will allow for

the possibility of sending people back to the Moon without much difficulty

at all.  It‘s—I think it‘s in there.  It‘s just not the big target,

Keith, because—like Aldrin said, we‘ve been to the Moon.  What would be

more exciting, though, than to send astronauts to an asteroid and then work

toward sending them to Mars.  It‘s very much like rekindling that great

dream of the ‘60s to put people on the Moon as a big target and a big goal

to get. 

OLBERMANN:  I thought we already sent Tommy Lee Jones to an asteroid,

but that was just—

PITTS:  Unfortunately he came back. 

OLBERMANN:  Oh, boy. 

PITTS:  Sorry. 

OLBERMANN:  Quickly, how much of this do we never appreciate, that

this is about these industries, the space industries in Texas and Florida? 

PITTS:  Well, the space exploration industries really have a huge

infrastructure built up, and that infrastructure is extraordinarily

important.  One of the things we did that was a big mistake was we sort of

threw out all the plans to the Saturn V launch vehicles.  We should never,

ever make that mistake again. 

At the same time, all the talent that we have built up in these space

centers, we need to utilize that talent to help us move toward these new

goals.  There are commercial space endeavors that are coming online that

are going to help out in this.  And I think that that—that great support

should be spread across the whole panoply, so that everybody can use it. 

OLBERMANN:  Threw out the plans.  Derrick Pitts of the Franklin

Institute in Philadelphia, it is always a learning experience and a lot of

fun.  Thank you, Derrick. 

PITTS:  My pleasure, Keith.  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  It‘s nice to be cutting edge.  To be cutting edge for 22

years, though, is startling.  The creators of “Cinematic Titanic” and

“Mystery Science Theater 3000,” in the not too distant future, will be


It‘s nice to be Fineus T. Bluster (ph).  To be Fineus T. Bluster for

14 years is startling.  Bill-O proves something never happened on Fox,

completely missing the time it happened on his own show.

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, her special guest,

apropos of the Oklahoma militia story, Homeland Security Secretary

Napolitano about the dangerous rise of extremism in the United States.


OLBERMANN:  There are now 22-year-old episodes of “Mystery Science

Theater” that are still on television‘s cutting edge.  The show‘s creators,

now the forces behind “Cinematic Titanic,” join me to say wise ass things

about me during a commentary.  Not really, but they‘ll be here. 

That‘s next, but first tonight‘s worsts  persons in the world.

The bronze to Orly Taitz.  The original birther has been repudiated by

the Pleasanton, California, Tea Party.  It had invited her to its clan

meeting tomorrow, but according to founder Bridget Nelson (ph) , the group

had been getting calls from candidates like crazy.  “It‘s not worth it;

she‘s too controversial; this is not what the Tea Party is about at this


Wow!  Too controversial for the tea party.  Worse yet, I‘m dropping

her as Limbaugh‘s nickname. 

The silver medalist, Sean Hannity.  “One of the things I fear the most

is Barack Obama catering to the world‘s dictators is the—literally the

Neville Chamberlain of our time.”  Let me tell you a couple things about

Neville Chamberlain.  Neville Chamberlain believed that only conservatives

had a monopoly on truth.  He believed in suppressing dissent and

disagreement from moderates and liberals.  He tried to purge those people

from his own government and party who disagreed with him.  He was an

isolationist who believed his country could do whatever it wanted to and

face no consequences in the world.  And he was supported by every damned

Republican in this country. 

Since you don‘t know what‘s happening in the world today around you,

Sean, you could at least try to get yesterday right.  Try Wikipedia, Sonny. 

Our winner, Bill-O the clown.  After Senator Coburn spanked him and

Fox News for leading an Oklahoma woman to believe she could go to jail if

she didn‘t buy health insurance, O‘Reilly condescended to tell the senator,

“you don‘t really know anybody on Fox News because there hasn‘t been anyone

that said people would go to jail if they don‘t buy mandatory insurance. 

We researched to find out if anybody has ever said you were going to go to

jail if you don‘t buy health insurance.  Nobody has ever said it.  But it

seems to me you used Fox News as a whipping boy when we didn‘t qualify

there.  You were wrong to do that, senator, with all due respect.” 

O‘Reilly‘s crack research team as usual.  Glenn Beck, Fox News,

November 12th: “if you don‘t got into their government health care, there

will be jail time.” 

Dick Morris, Fox News, November 9th, “one of the provisions in the

Pelosi bill is you can actually go to jail for not having health insurance,

250,000 or five years in prison.” 

Andrew Napolitano, Fox News, November 10th—I don‘t do an impression

of him—“the government may fine you, prosecute you and even put you in


Greta Van Susteren, Fox News, to Congressman Shadegg, October 7th,

“can you imagine the sheriff going out and running you in, throwing you in

jail?  I mean, it is theoretically possible under what you tell me.” 

And Beck again, November 13th.  Beck, “I don‘t have universal health

care.”  Host, “well, you will soon.”  Beck, “or I‘ll go to jail.” 

The host in that conversation was O‘Reilly.  It was on his show.  “We

researched to find out if anybody ever said you were going to go to jail if

you don‘t buy health insurance.  Nobody has ever said it.” 

In other words, Bill couldn‘t find a quote from his own show with both

hands.  Bill-O the clown, back from retirement and proving he can still

bring the stupid, today‘s worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN:  On December 17, 1990, a guest critic in the “Los Angeles

Times” wrote about the work of our next three guests.  “Wrapped in the

guise of a kid shows, Joel Hodgson, the human, regularly reads mail from

youngsters who send him drawings of the robots.  ‘Mystery Science Theater

3000‘ contains some of the hippest, deepest satire of the generation.” 

Never mind the show, what a brilliant review that was by me. 

It began with a guy and his puppets poking fun at awful movies on a

UHF Minnesota television station in 1988.  Now it‘s on “Time” magazine‘s”

list of the 100 best TV shows of all time.  “Mystery Science Theater 3000,”

its creators now present their original snark, live in a kind of riff on a

riff on MST3K.  It is called “Cinematic Titanic.” 

The concept of the original show, seen here by the wonders of video

VHS, by way of Youtube—it‘s a little cleaner in the original first

generation as I recall—was simple and ingenious.  Man in space forced to

watch bad movies with the robot puppets he invented.  The three sat in

silhouette in front of a truly awful movie, and thankfully they never shut


The Mystery Science Theater program has been off the air for a while,

but now Joel Hodgson has gotten the band back together to riff on bad

movies again, this time in front of live audiences.  You‘re looking at

footage from one of their live DVD‘s.  The film in question a spectacular

called “East Meets Watts.”  That‘s the “Cinematic Titanic” crew doing its

material on either side of the screen.  Listen. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Tim, I wish I could find a Chinese laundry

somewhere in San Francisco. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The letter said, meet me at the gravel pit in


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yeah, it‘s too bad the Bay Area didn‘t have any

beautiful locations they could shoot at. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Don‘t touch that!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, (EXPLETIVE DELETED), he walked right into a

Journey video. 


OLBERMANN:  “East Meets Watts” and all the “Cinematic Titanic” titles

are available for download and on DVD at right now. 

We‘ve said “Cinematic Titanic” 31 times.  Live tours in Massachusetts

tomorrow, New Jersey Friday and Saturday, and New York.  In order left to

right, Trace Beaulieu, of course, Joel Hodgson in the middle, and J. Elvis

Weinstein of “Cinematic Titanic.” 

Gentlemen, it‘s 20 years overdue.  It‘s a pleasure to have you here.


OLBERMANN:  I have been a fan almost since the original days.  And I‘m

sure every fan you‘ve ever had said the same thing when they first saw it. 

They said, what the hell is this?  And then complete submersion.  How long

does it take, do you think?  How quickly does a fan become a fan? 

TRACE BEAULIEU, “CINEMATIC TITANIC”:  It‘s different for everybody. 

Until you hear your joke, and your joke is in there somewhere. 

OLBERMANN:  And how many jokes—do you ever do like a word count, or

a sell count on how many jokes there are per episode? 

JOEL HODGSON, “CINEMATIC TITANIC”:  It hangs around 600 usually.  The

first season we were at 300, and then the second season we got—you know,

once we were getting paid to do it, it got to be about 600. 


HODGSON:  Doubled our output. 

OLBERMANN:  Jay Elvis. 


OLBERMANN:  I thought this was true from the little thing I wrote

oddly enough in the “Los Angeles Times” 20 years ago.  I still think it‘s

true, that people see this as, well, you‘re having fun with bad movies.  Do

enough people, in your estimation, really appreciate the deep satire and

sometimes even the political satire, but more broadly the social satire

that you‘ve worked into every one of these things? 

WEINSTEIN:  Ego wise, I‘d say, no, of course they can‘t possibly

appreciate the deep satire that we do.  As Trace kind of said, it‘s people

find their jokes.  Some people actually scold us when we get political now,

because they don‘t want that from us.  But I think with 600 jokes, there‘s

you‘ve got to go for a lot of different levels of joke. 

OLBERMANN:  Did you ever—have you ever found that with that volume

of humor, that people just tend to—as you said, they like the ones that

are their jokes.  And if they don‘t like the other ones, don‘t get them,

aren‘t politically inclined, whichever way that might be tilting, they

don‘t notice.  Basically, you get graded on the ones they laugh on,


HODGSON:  Yes.  If you wait long enough, one you like will come along. 

There‘s not enough heat on the jokes.  It‘s like in a traditional sitcom,

you‘ve got to have a joke to go to commercial.  We never had to do that. 

BEAULIEU:  No.  It‘s a perfect democracy.  Every joke is equal. 

WEINSTEIN:  We‘re never just hanging on that one scene-closing joke. 


HODGSON:  The scene never closes.  It just keeps going on. 

OLBERMANN:  Do you miss the robots?  Because it seems like the fans

have adjusted to not having—

HODGSON:  Well, yeah.  You know what?  That‘s something I just made up

one day.  It‘s not real.  And I hate to tell you, but Trace was crow and—


HODGSON:  If you listen close enough, it‘s kind of like he‘s crow. 

And if you listen close enough, he‘s Tom Servo. 

OLBERMANN:  Really? 

HODGSON:  So you‘ve just got to pretend. 

WEINSTEIN:  Fans actually build their own and bring them to our shows

for us to sign and meet.  So it‘s—so we don‘t actually miss them because

we‘re constantly acquainted with them. 

OLBERMANN:  Bless them and make them official? 

BEAULIEU:  I don‘t miss them because now we can keep our arms down by

our sides. 

OLBERMANN:  How rigorously physical was that? 

BEAULIEU:  It was keeping your arms up. 


BEAULIEU:  And neither of us are very good at upper body strength, so


OLBERMANN:  It‘s a workout and a job. 


WEINSTEIN:  And you have to do everything backwards too because you‘re

looking at a monitor. 

BEAULIEU:  Backwards and in Chinese, just to make it harder. 

OLBERMANN:  Can the live audience—when you do it in this

environment where you‘re seated at the desks with scripts in front of you,

and lamps—does the fact that it‘s live—can the audience screw you up

by laughing too much, by enjoying it too much? 

WEINSTEIN:  That‘s certainly in the good problems to have category,

right?  I mean, that‘s part of the learning process we‘ve had with doing

the live shows.  Sometimes three jokes are going to get wiped out because

of a laugh, and you have to be ready to accept that and find that right in

point back in. 

HODGSON:  It‘s less work for us when they laugh.  It‘s like, flip the


OLBERMANN:  Certainly—and I know you‘ve been asked this for the

whole, you know, 22 years off and on.  But certainly no film director—

maybe there have been three who have ever tried this—have set out to

make the worst movie of all time.  So there must be some mixture between

offense by the people who have actually produced these things, and is there

are there some people who become fans of seeing their product

resuscitate or repurposed, as the kids would say today? 

WEINSTEIN:  I think there are.  We did a movie called “The Alien

Factor,” for “Cinematic Titanic,” and one of the cast members and—slash

crew members of the movie showed up to one of our shows in L.A.  And he

talked to us afterwards.  He was super excited that it was just seeing the

light of day. 

OLBERMANN:  Is it remarkable too—I‘m presuming there is a fresh

supply of this stuff still out there, and it‘s been there all this time. 

Is it amazing—because, you‘re watching on television, you have no idea

that people actually would sell some of these movies and expect people to

pay their way in to see them without three guys sitting there making fun of

them.  It‘s just remarkable.  Somebody said, we can get away with this. 

HODGSON:  Basically they did it with really good posters.  Because

back in the day, you didn‘t know what you were going to see.  So, you know,

you‘d go into a dark room and then whatever happened, happened.  So you

didn‘t—you didn‘t have the same stress. 

BEAULIEU:  A lot of them were at drive-ins, too.  They just pumped it

into that market.

OLBERMANN:  Do you think you guys invented DVD commentary before there

were DVDs and the Internet and all the rest, snark in general? 

BEAULIEU:  Both of those, snark and DVD commentary, we inventoried


OLBERMANN:  And like Twitter and stuff like that? 

BEAULIEU:  I don‘t know what that is. 

OLBERMANN:  Did you get any money out of inventing all these things? 


OLBERMANN:  Are you getting money out of inventing this? 


OLBERMANN:  So I can‘t go for free on Saturday night.  I better pay my

way in. 

WEINSTEIN:  You‘ll get the pass since you wrote that thing in 1990. 

OLBERMANN:  No, no. 

WEINSTEIN:  Since you wrote the thing in 1990. 

OLBERMANN:  You‘re just getting around to it. 

HODGSON:  We use that quote, by the way. 

OLBERMANN:  Really?  Is that amazing? 

HODGSON:  For sure. 

BEAULIEU:  Does that mean we have to pay him? 

OLBERMANN:  No, that would be payola. 

BEAULIEU:  And no one does that. 


Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, and J. Elvis Weinstein of “Cinematic

Titanic,” Northampton, Massachusetts tomorrow, Princeton on Friday, New

York City on Saturday.  We‘ll see you then.  My pleasure to have you here,


WEINSTEIN:  Our pleasure. 

OLBERMANN:  Thanks for all the laughs.  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the

2,540th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in

Iraq.  And they didn‘t speak during my commentary at all.  I‘m Keith

Olbermann, good night and good luck. 

Over the top of the camera.  Now in the wake of the Oklahoma militia

story, to discuss the rise of extremism in the U.S. with her guest Homeland

Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel

Maddow.  Good evening, Rachel.  




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