Guests: Michael Moore, Robert Reich, Caroline McCarthy, Christian Finnegan
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Open mouth, insert professional left foot. “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we‘ve eliminated the Pentagon.”
Press Secretary Gibbs lets loose a booming salvo against the criticisms of the professional left, and then walks it back. “I watch too much cable, I admit.”
Yes, it‘s not that much of a walk-back.
The deputy press secretary does today‘s briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BURTON, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Every single person in this building, including the one who lives here, at times can be frustrated with the way some of the things are covered here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: My guest, Michael Moore.
My “Special Comment”: Mr. Gibbs, Mr. President, take it up with the professional right, please.
And more important comments from two weeks ago about keeping the president and the presidency accountable:
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I‘m asking you is to keep making your voices heard, to keep holding me accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Twenty-six billion dollars so states don‘t have to lay off teachers and other employees.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I heard the Republican leader in the House say the other day that this is a special interest bill. And I suppose if America‘s children and the safety of our communities are your special interests, then it is a special interest bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Republican response? Screw the kids. We are supposed to be on vacation.
Net neutrality and the new divide: turning your desktop computer into the manual typewriter of the 21st century.
And it was only a matter of time. The emergency exits are here, here and (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you!
Now in animated form:
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). What the (EXPLETIVE
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OLBERMANN: All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am serious. And don‘t call me Shirley.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
The White House today stood by the remarks of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs complaining that what he called the “professional left” has not sufficiently appreciated President Obama‘s accomplishments, and instead of criticizing Mr. Obama‘s shortcomings, should fall in line and support him.
Michael Moore and a quick “Special Comment” from a presumed member of the professional left in our fifth story tonight.
First, the reaction. Congressman Keith Ellison telling “Huffington Post” that Gibbs crossed the line and his dismissal would be fair. Ellison especially calling out Gibbs for criticizing things virtually no one on the left has said. Quote, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we‘ve eliminated the Pentagon. That‘s not reality.”
Congressman Ellison could think of no one calling for eliminating the Pentagon. Those demanding Canadian healthcare, a single-payer system, might be taking their cues from Mr. Obama, who once supported a public option and campaigned on elements of Canadian healthcare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Tell the pharmaceutical companies, “Thanks but no thanks” for overpriced drugs—drugs that cost twice as much here as they do in Europe and Canada and Mexico. We‘ll let Medicare negotiate for lower prices. We‘ll stop drug companies from blocking generic drugs that are just as effective and far less expensive. We‘ll allow the safe re-importation of low cost drugs from countries like Canada.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Gibbs today said that his comments to “The Hill” newspaper had been, quote, “inartful” but he neither apologized nor retracted what he said, such as, “I hear these people saying he,” meaning Mr. Obama, “is like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested. I mean, it‘s crazy. They wouldn‘t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”
While again, no serious progressive voice has said President Obama is like President Bush, let alone as nefarious as, progressives tend to believe bad policy is bad policy no matter what the president is. President Obama has maintained or even extended numerous controversial signatures of the Bush presidency, including Gitmo and Afghanistan, and even presidential authority to kill U.S. citizens without trial, protection for those who authorize torture, wiretapping, protection for companies that aided in wiretapping, opposing gay marriage, expelling gays from the military, and giving vital economic positions to disciples of the fiscal policies that helped create this mess, to say nothing of keeping industry insiders in charge of industry regulation.
Other uniquely Obaman disappointments include knee-jerk acquiescence to specious complaints from the right such as the unjustified Vilsacking of Shirley Sherrod or the Van Jones case.
Mr. Gibbs reportedly suffering a sore throat and his deputy, Bill Burton, today respond to questions about his remarks. Burton suggesting that critics on the left do not reflect voters on the left who he said are pretty pleased.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURTON: You have to separate out what folks say on cable TV from what maybe progressives around the country think about how things are going, because I think that if you—and this isn‘t to completely just denigrate what people say on cable TV, I just think there are different measures of how people look at some of these issues. And out in the country, I think a lot of folks are pretty pleased that we were able to get health care reform done, that we were able to end the combat mission in Iraq, that we were able to do all these other things—on top of a lot of issues that came up that we didn‘t know were coming, like pirates and the, you know, H1N1.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Gibbs also counting the drawdown in Iraq along the president‘s accomplishments, along with mitigating the severity of the recession, even though Mr. Obama‘s his concessions to Wall Street, rank high on the list of progressive complaints.
Going into the elections, however, the White House seems unable to agree whether Democrats can agree to disagree. Mr. Gibbs writing in his follow-up statement today, quote, “We should all, me included, stop fighting each other and arguing about our differences on certain policies.”
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BURTON: In the Democratic Party, there‘s a strength in the diversity of opinions that Democrats have. That‘s not a problem, that‘s not an issue, that‘s something that we‘re proud of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Or as the president himself put it, addressing the progressive Netroots Nation Convention two weeks ago—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: What I‘m asking you is to keep making your voices heard, to keep holding me accountable, to keep up the fight. Change is hard. But if we‘ve learned anything these past 18 months, it‘s that change is possible. It‘s possible when folks like you remember that fundamental truth of our democracy: that change doesn‘t come from the top down. It comes from the bottom-up. It comes from the Netroots, the grassroots, from every American who loves their country and believes they can make a difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Mr. Obama‘s problem with his base, however, may have more to do with the contrast between Mr. Gibbs‘s call for a reality check and candidate Obama‘s rejection of exactly that.
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OBAMA: No matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change. We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics and they will only grow louder and more dissident in the weeks and months to come. We‘ve been asked to pause for a reality check. We‘ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope.
But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.
OBAMA: For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we‘ve been told we‘re not ready or that we shouldn‘t try or that we can‘t, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of the people.
Yes, we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: My “Special Comment” ahead.
First, joining us now live from the Lincoln Center premiere of the new documentary, “The Tillman Story,” about the friendly fire victim Pat Tillman, is the filmmaker behind other documentary works such as “SiCKO” and “Capitalism: A Love Story”: Michael Moore.
Michael, thanks for taking some time out here to join us tonight.
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Thank you, Keith.
It‘s—by the way, if you have a chance to see this movie, these people have done an incredible job of telling Pat Tillman‘s true story. And you were on this story a long time ago and I think you‘ll love to see this movie. It‘s a great documentary.
OLBERMANN: Intend to. Let me ask you this way, I don‘t know if I‘m -
OLBERMANN: -- I don‘t know if I‘m professional left here, but I‘m sure as hell sure that you are. Your response to the interview Mr. Gibbs did and the statement he has released today.
MOORE: Well, I‘ve never heard the left referred to with the word “professional.” I don‘t know if I should take offense at that.
First of all, it implies that we‘re organized, and it‘s—I think, you know, when he‘s—when Mr. Gibbs is worried about what people on the left are smoking, from my experience, the person in the room who‘s most paranoid about who‘s smoking what is usually the person smoking the really heavy stuff.
So, it was just—it was an odd lashing out. I don‘t know, it‘s hot in Washington, I heard that excuse. He just kind of went off of the handle. Fortunately, there wasn‘t an emergency slide nearby, so nobody was harmed.
But I think—I think that—I think that what‘s bothering them is that liberals and the left have been right from the beginning. From the beginning of this administration, what did people on our side of the fence say? You should take over these banks temporarily and fire all the thieves who stole our money.
But instead what did they do? They enabled them. They called for more offshore oil drilling. They expanded the war in Afghanistan. The stimulus package—they caved into the Republicans.
Everything that we‘ve been trying to push them to do has now come back to bite them in a profound way to the point where they‘re very frightened, as they should be, about the election in a couple of months. And, frankly, we‘re frightened about it, too—
MOORE: -- because the last thing any of us want to have happen is for the Republicans to come back in any form of power in Congress or wherever. So, I—to go—to go after your core base, I mean, the people that are really—the ones that go out and carry the water for you, to do the hard work, it‘s like—I mean, this is the guy, Gibbs, you don‘t—you don‘t want him like drafting the fundraising letter for the next election cycle. It will begin something like “Dear biggest Obama supporters, you suck. Now send us money, please.”
MOORE: It‘s just like—
MOORE: -- it‘s totally crazy.
OLBERMANN: This is particularly tough for me because I like Mr. Gibbs and I like him a lot and I think generally speaking he does a great job.
MOORE: Yes. Right.
OLBERMANN: And I like Mr. Burton particularly and I think he does a great job, too.
OLBERMANN: But when the two of them claim that the professional left, again, to use their term, does not represent voters on the left, “A,” is that true, and, “B,” if they don‘t represent anybody, why does it matter what they have to say?
MOORE: Well, of course, it‘s true that—I mean, the people—the left or the liberal—the liberal majority elected Barack Obama. I mean, the majority of Americans didn‘t want the other way. In fact, they didn‘t want it in such a large way, they not only elected him by millions of votes over John McCain, they wanted a solid majority in both the House and the Senate—a huge majority. That‘s what Americans said they wanted because they wanted real change.
And instead what they‘ve gotten is a sort of, you know, backing away every time that it comes to a fight with the people who put us in this horrible situation to begin with. And it was just so odd the first thing off the top of his head was, “Yes, you know, these people want Canadian healthcare.” Well, yes.
MOORE: Because what‘s Canadian healthcare except everyone is covered, which they won‘t be still, and it‘s going to cost a third to half less, which is what it costs in Canada for what we pay. And, oh, by the way, people live almost three years longer than we do in Canada.
MOORE: So—so, what—I just didn‘t understand why that was the first thing out of his—out of his mouth was the Canadian healthcare was the big thing they‘re worried about.
OLBERMANN: Last point: the White House notes that the president continues to have high poll numbers among liberals. The Congressman Raul Grijalva told “The Huffington Post” today that he‘s hearing from his base that the administration has not met its expectations.
Is—do you think the White House is missing one thing here, that voters can be both dissatisfied but also still generally supportive of an administration, especially—as you pointed out earlier—considering the alternative?
MOORE: Yes. Yes. The hard-core base is going to show up and vote in November and they‘re going to vote for the Democrats, regardless of all this hoo-ha that‘s going on.
The problem—and they know this from their own polling—is that that next large group of people that go to the soft middle that voted for Obama but are no longer enthused and excited, they know that the vote for Democratic politicians has been depressed now, and those people aren‘t going to vote for Republicans either. They‘re just going to stay home and that‘s the biggest fear, that people will stay home in November and Republicans may take power again in the House or the Senate. And it‘s a legitimate fear on their part.
But to go after—to go after the base—I heard David Frum say something a few days ago, he said—he said he‘s always had this theory that Republican politicians fear their base, but Democratic politicians hate their base.
MOORE: That kind of hate—that kind of hate ain‘t going to get them
re-elected. And they better get busy trying to fight the fight for the
working people out there who put him into office in the first place. They want to vote for him again, but they‘re not very excited or enthused right now.
And nothing I or you or anybody else is going to do—is going to make that enthusiasm just appear again. It‘s going to have to happen through actual action on the part of the administration.
So, the ball—you know, the ball is in their court. And to blame cable news—I mean, I do realize that you and Rachel are in charge of all of us.
MOORE: And you take the odd weeks and she takes the even weeks to be in charge and—
OLBERMANN: You‘re damn right.
MOORE: -- and send directives out to all of us on what to think. But it‘s—nobody wants to go back to the old days, so, Gibbs is right. We‘re all on the same team here and we better start with a better game plan than the one that‘s—that they‘ve been—that they‘ve been using for the last 18 months or so.
OLBERMANN: Michael Moore at the premiere of “The Tillman Story”—great thanks again for ducking out with us. And your orders will be in the mail. Thank you.
MOORE: Thank you, comrade.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir.
And now, a “Special Comment” from what I suppose is also part of the professional left. It is hard to say for sure.
Mr. Gibbs referenced watching too much cable. I‘m on cable. I suppose I‘m part of the problem from his perspective.
In any event, if you‘re expecting yelling? Sorry. This one is intended to only both give a little background and to address a fundamental flaw in that viewpoint from the White House.
The heart of this, I think, is the fact that this administration is still amazed that each day does not begin with a round of applause for its intervention on the economy. Of the first five accomplishments Mr. Gibbs listed in his walk back this afternoon, three were variations of, in essence, “We prevented a depression.”
His frustration is entirely understandable. It‘s not just that what the administration did has been morphed by the far-right into an insurrectionist attempt to install Barack Obama as the teller in your bank, the tax collector at your door, the pickpocket at your wallet.
It‘s also not just that a full appreciation of what the president has done requires the proving of a negative—you know, “See this alternative universe over here with we have 19 percent unemployment and the entire auto industry collapsed under President McCain?
It‘s that the last president was completely lionized—his eight-year scamming of America—was swallowed whole because he somehow proved a negative. Every day of his term, this nonsense that he and he alone had prevented another terrorist attack.
One president prevents a financial meltdown, gets tepid thanks. The other president doesn‘t prevent a terrorist attack, gets worship and blind allegiance because he didn‘t allow another one.
Whatever the dark lesson in that sick truth, however, the frustration over it should not be directed at the professional left. The professional right is far more deserving.
It is profound and noble to see this president take so seriously the
premise that he is just as much president of the people who didn‘t vote for
him as of people who did. But this is ridiculous. The president has shown
a willingness to give the professional right not just seats at the table,
as he tries to restore this country to where it was before Bush and Cheney
got ahold of it, not just give them half the seats at the table, but often
far too often—to give them all the seats, the table and the damn carpet as well.
The professional left didn‘t start the health care negotiations by moving to the right of single-payer and then of the public option. The administration did.
The professional left didn‘t try to grease some skids with the minority by taxing union benefits. The administration did.
The professional left didn‘t fire Shirley Sherrod and congratulate itself on quick action to avoid a media circus in this environment. The administration did.
The professional left didn‘t begin this presidency by handing everybody who broke the law and subverted the Constitution a “get out of jail free” card and a virtual set of instructions on how to get away with all of it next time, too. The administration did.
Mr. President, you will not get disagreement from the professional left that compromises the essence of practical politics, but you have gotten, you are getting, you always will get that disagreement from the professional right. They do not want compromise. They want everything. Everything from more profits for insurance companies and less money for schools, to you admitting you‘re not really president and that you‘ve decided to endorse Tea Party candidates at the midterms.
Why on earth do you start every negotiation just barely left of center? Anybody on this planet haggling always asks for far more than they expect to ultimately get. Start at single-payer and maybe you get public option. Start at indictments for torture, and maybe you get a truth in reconciliation commission.
But I‘m veering off fully into policy and straying from Mr. Gibbs heckling the audience and Mr. Burton saying you agree with him doing so.
Sir, you need to get past the premise that the left differs from the right in terms of ideology. In this America, they differ in terms of the hard wiring of the brain.
The right wants not leadership—it wants lock-step. The right wants not nuanced thought from its adherence—it wants salutes and sworn fealty. The right wants not critical analysis from its media—it wants propaganda.
If, Mr. President, you fall into the trap of equating the professional left and professional right or of the false equivalency of MSNBC and FOX News, you are going to spend the rest of your time in the White House curled up in a churlish ball in the corner wondering what happened to your encore.
If indeed I am part of the professional left, I am here to applaud good policy and good leadership and good statesmanship, and to boo bad policy and bad leadership and bad statesmanship.
I‘m sorry, sir; I‘m sorry, Mr. Gibbs, we are not just another version of the right. We think over here and we fight for what we believe in, and we recognize that the only time you‘re going to get something out of a Mitch McConnell when he actually says he has no interest in doing anything left-of-center is when you drag him in that direction by using a fair of figurative pliers.
I really don‘t know if I‘m part of the professional left. I really would rather not be. But the sad truth also is that these kinds of roles do not tend to be sought nor achieved. They tend to fall on you when others don‘t do their jobs—because if there is a professional left, it‘s only because on a day like today, the White House has seemed more like the amateur left.
Back with the good news: $26 billion to save the jobs of teachers and other government workers.
OLBERMANN: It‘s paid for. It literally saves 300,000 jobs and helps school kids. Naturally, John of Orange calls it a special interest bailout. Robert Reich joins us.
The end of net neutrality—it‘s worse than what you thought. It may also take away any improvements on your next computer.
What this guy was doing to his wife while leading the impeachment of a president. It‘s, too, worse than you thought.
And the pilot has now turned off the “no swearing at the passengers and quitting the business via the emergency chute” sign. I am now free to move about the cabin. Goodbye!
OLBERMANN: It‘s not often that Congress interrupts one of its recess vacations for a special session—except for things like, you know, the imperative 2005 Terri Schiavo vote.
But, today, in our fourth story: the House passed a bill that will prevent the layoffs of 300,000 teachers and other state government workers, including first responders. The bill did nothing to add to the deficit, but Republicans complained because it closed a tax loophole for multinational corporations.
The bill passed with just two Republican votes. It provides $26 billion of aid to states that would otherwise be forced to lay off state workers, including the teachers, firefighters, police. The bill also prevents cuts to Medicaid. It is paid for by closing the tax loophole for the multinationals and by reducing some food stamp benefits.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called lawmakers back from their August recess after the Senate passed the bill last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Today, again, we will create over 300,000 jobs, or save them—not just any jobs, but jobs that are the most significant in our country—a sense of community that our teachers, our police and firefighters, our health care workers bring. And we will do it in a fiscally responsible way by closing costly tax loopholes that allow corporations to ship American jobs overseas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And after the vote, the House promptly adjourned and resumed its recess, they‘re all wearing green ties.
But House minority leader, Mr. Boehner, said, the Democrats should have stayed home to listen to their constituents, quote, “instead of scampering back to Washington to push through more special interest bailouts and job-killing tax hikes.”
The earlier reference, though, was not gratuitous. In 2005, under Republican rule, the House forfeited its last day of spring break so it could vote on restoring a feeding tube to Terri Schiavo of Florida.
As for this bill, President Obama signed it this evening in the Oval Office and earlier today, he, too, characterized the choice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This should not be a partisan issue. I heard the Republican leader in the House say the other day that this is a special interest bill. And I suppose if America‘s children and the safety of our communities are your special interests, then it is a special interest bill. But I think those interests are widely shared throughout this country.
A challenge that affects parents, children and citizens in all—almost every community in America should not be a Democratic problem or a Republican problem. It is an American problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: As for the jobless problem, “Daily Kos” has featured a journalists rendering of unemployment in this country from January of 2007 until May of this year. As all those counties darkened from yellow to orange to red and purple, the unemployment rate is getting worse there.
Finally, there is black, denudating—rather denoting which counties reach an unemployment rate of 10 percent or more. The animation is based on official statistics from the Department of Labor. However, it does not include discouraged workers nor underemployed workers—that would nearly double those numbers.
Let‘s turn to the former Clinton labor secretary, professor at U.C. Berkeley‘s Goldman School of Public Policy, Robert Reich—also author of the upcoming book, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America‘s Future.”
Thanks for your time, again, tonight, sir.
ROBERT REICH, FORMER CLINTON LABOR SECRETARY: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Is today‘s bill unambiguous on this point? Will it literally save jobs?
REICH: It will unambiguously save jobs. A hundred sixteen thousand teachers who otherwise would have gotten pink slips are now going to be in the classrooms. You‘ve got tens of thousands of sanitation workers and police officers and firefighters who actually will be there on the job because of this bill.
OLBERMANN: The Republicans have been insisting that every single spending measure be paid for, even the emergency spending bills like the extension of the unemployment insurance, the long-term unemployment bills and such. But this thing is paid for.
Is there any valid criticism of it, other than perhaps it‘s not doing enough?
REICH: No. I mean, this is paid for. The idea that Republicans or anybody would criticize this bill because it closes loopholes for multinational corporations that want to send jobs abroad is absolutely ludicrous. The Congressional Budget Office—and the CBO has been a very good neutral arbiter, says that not only is this entirely paid for, but it actually reduces the long-term budget deficit.
OLBERMANN: The larger ongoing issue of unemployment—what is your analysis of it? What‘s your forecast? What more needs to be done?
REICH: Oh, Keith, I wish I could be upbeat about this. I really want to be.
Friday, we‘ve got these numbers in for July that show that a total of 71,000 new jobs were created by the private sector in the United States. That may sound good, but you need 125,000 just to keep up with the growth of the population.
That 9.5 percent unemployment rate does not reflect this growing army of people who are unemployed and too discouraged even to look for work. So, we are not out of the woods. In fact, we‘re still in the woods, still in the swamps. We‘ve got to do much more.
OLBERMANN: And what is the “much more”?
REICH: Well, I mean, there are a lot of things that can and should be done. For example, one thing that I‘ve been trying to push is to have a payroll tax holiday. Eighty percent of Americans pay more in payroll taxes than they do in income taxes.
So, you say, the first $20,000 of income, there will be no payroll taxes for the next two years. We‘ll make it up by, let‘s say, subjecting that people with incomes over $250,000 to payroll taxes.
Or here‘s something else, a WPA. We did it during the Great Depression, a Works Project Administration. Hire people directly. I mean, jobs, jobs, jobs. That‘s all we ought to be focusing on right now.
OLBERMANN: Hey, the first is a tax cut. You could probably even sell it to some of the Tea Party.
OLBERMANN: Given what will actually be accomplished in the current political climate, are you concerned about this—it‘s been referenced in several places, the possibility of a double-dip recession?
REICH: I‘m certainly very concerned, Keith, because all of the trend lines are trending down right now. I don‘t think we‘re going to have one, but I don‘t think we‘re going to have a buoyant economic recovery either. I mean, even if we had, starting tomorrow, the kind of buoyant job growth we had during the boom days of the 1990s, it would still be 2015 -- the year 2015 -- before we had an unemployment rate similar to what we had before the Great Recession.
So, we‘ve got to. I mean, I think the Democrats, the White House, the Federal Reserve board that met today did not do very much. Everybody, including—dare I say—Republicans, have got to get behind major measures to get jobs back. There‘s just—this is a jobs emergency we are in right now.
OLBERMANN: Former secretary of labor under President Clinton, Robert Reich, at Berkeley—great thanks.
REICH: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The loss of net neutrality may bring down a second victim with it: continuing technical innovation for your home computer. The even grimmer future ahead here on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Net neutrality and how it could stunt further computer technological advance. First the sanity break. Let‘s play Oddball.
Dateline Toledo; in this newly released video, we find out what happens when special orders go wrong. A 25-year-old woman being told chicken McNuggets are not on the breakfast menu. Apparently, she thinks they are lying and decides to check. After striking the drive-through attendant several times, workers finally get the window closed. Just when you think things are ready to calm down, hello. This real-life hamburglar was ordered to 60 days in jail and a 1,500 dollar fine. Maybe she will now be asked if she wants fries with that in the big house.
We now jump to Brazil where we meet Ed Stafford. Mr. Stafford is in the process of walking along the Amazon River, although that appears to be a road there, not the Amazon. I hate to tell you this all the way into the trip. He‘s been doing it for two and a half years. It‘s a road. Joined by Godelpo Sanchez Rivera (ph), man who joined him after another adventure, bowed out. They withstood 50,000 mosquito bites—that was a bad day—scorpion attacks and a skin disease that made Ed black out mere miles from the finish. Say nothing of the 3D piranha.
Finally, they make it to the Atlantic Ocean and do their best Rocky III impression. When asked why he would undertake such a long trek, Mr. Stafford said “I just felt like walking.”
Finally to Sarchevo (ph), Macedonia and really large orders of beans. The six-man cooking team used 882 pounds of beans to shatter an old record set in nearby North Dakota. The beans took six hours to cook, were eventually consumed by a crowd of thousands. The crowd then went on to break a record set during the campfire scene of the movie “Blazing Saddles.”
Net neutrality and Newt infidelity ahead.
OLBERMANN: You‘ve already heard about the Google-Verizon deal with the devil to throw out net neutrality for the sake of their profits. In our third story, it‘s worse than we thought. It might also stunt technological developments off which they cannot profit.
Google and Verizon have revealed their so-called policy framework on how you or I or anyone else can access the Internet. What Google and Verizon agreed to was this: that FCC rules ensuring equal access to the Internet should still apply to wired devices like a computer on your desk, but those rules should not apply to wireless devices, such as mobile phones or smart phones or iPads. Of course, as technology changes exponentially, that is kind of like saying, don‘t worry, in the years to come, your manual typewriter will still be state of the art.
Google‘s Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said that this was merely an agreement in principle. Verizon‘s chief executive also tried to downplay the deal. Quoting, “we both recognize that wireless is in a slightly different place than wire line. What we‘re concerned about is the imposition of too many rules up front that would not allow us to optimize the super-charged growth we‘ve seen in the past.”
But critics have noted that the deal could effectively lay the groundwork for the end of net neutrality. For more on this, let‘s turn to CNET staff reporter Caroline McCarthy. Thanks for your time tonight.
CAROLINE MCCARTHY, CNET STAFF REPORTER: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s start with the new part. Explain the wired versus wireless issue, and why that might threaten technological advance.
MCCARTHY: OK. so what they‘re talking about is not a matter of devices. It‘s a matter of the broadband infrastructure. Your computer and your wired or wireless connection at home that that computer connects to the Internet on is a different kind of broadband infrastructure than the one that your cell phone is going to be on. That‘s what we hear about when you hear about 3G or 4G or the AT&T and Verizon mobile phone carrier contracts.
And so the issue here is that Google and Verizon, in this proposal that they put together and released, said that they believe that net neutrality should apply to the—to what‘s becoming known as the public Internet. As for the mobile Internet, they say they don‘t want those regulations in place because there‘s so much innovation still to happen, and that they don‘t think it makes sense for you to be regulating technologies that potentially don‘t exist yet.
OLBERMANN: About the basic issue now --
OLBERMANN: -- net neutrality, the public blowback that‘s happened since this story started to come out in the last week or two, that has not slowed Google or Verizon up one bit on doing this?
MCCARTHY: Definitely not. I think one of the reasons there is that a lot of the blowback is coming from consumer advocacy groups rather than consumers themselves. This is not the sort of situation that someone is going to go cancel their Verizon cell phone contract over, however momentous it may be with regard to the crafting of digital policy.
The other thing to keep in mind is that Google and Verizon do not write laws. The government writes laws. The FCC passes regulations. This is a proposal that they have put forth. The Telco lobby industry in Washington is extremely powerful. And there are a lot more companies besides Google and Verizon that have a big hand in it. So who knows whether these recommendations on behalf of Google and Verizon will even come to fruition.
OLBERMANN: But we also know that when giant corporations make deals like this and have that K Street machinery behind them—we all know they always look out for the little guy in their industry. Correct? Whoever might be the Google of 2020 is safe, correct?
MCCARTHY: I think that has really gotten some of the critics unnerved about this, is the fact that Google always positioned itself as the innovator-in-chief, as this company that was going to do away with all of the bureaucratic structures that older and stodgier telecommunications companies and other technology companies had in place, that Google would change things.
And Google had been very much in favor of net neutrality before. They still are on the wired front. But on the wireless front, it is a change in tune. And that change in tune comes in part because Google is absolutely putting its best interests forward. And it‘s partnering with the carriers, rather than what a lot of people hoped, which was that it would sort of take a sledgehammer to them and get rid of some of the bureaucracy in place that makes people so ticked off with their cell phone contracts every month.
OLBERMANN: Last point, Devil‘s Advocate question; if TV survived the advent of cable and pay cable and all the different ways people get content that way, why is it the Internet particularly vulnerable and can‘t survive or thrive under this?
MCCARTHY: Well, I mean, you do have a point there. That is absolutely one of the things that some of the proponents of this proposal are putting forward, is that the television industry in 1950, if you had imposed similar sorts of regulations on it, we wouldn‘t be seeing HBO now. And the lack of regulation that Google and Verizon are proposing also potentially extends to technologies that don‘t even exist. For example, one of the things people have been bringing up is medical monitoring broadband technology or 3D television delivery.
So it‘s a very, very complicated issue that people get incredibly passionate about. But I think that it, A, goes much deeper. And, B, you‘ve got to keep in mind this has not been put forward by anybody that can make U.S. law.
OLBERMANN: Well, K Street.
OLBERMANN: Caroline McCarthy of CNET.com, great thanks.
The first animated guess of what the flight attendant‘s breaking point moment is pretty good, except they had him screaming “woozda woozda” at the passengers. I don‘t know what that means.
Newt Gingrich‘s second wife—that would be number two out of three -
reveals finally he told her about the affair he was having and asked her to condone it while he was condemning President Clinton.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, on this primary Tuesday, big choices in Colorado, like the Senate candidate there who wants you to vote for him because he does not wear high heels.
OLBERMANN: Passengers will be departing through the main doors. I‘ll be departing down the emergency slide, with a beer. That‘s next, but first get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight‘s Worst Persons in the World.
The bronze to Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King. The good news is the National Organization for Marriage rally at which she spoke in Atlanta drew a reported 35 participants. The bad news is that at it she said, quote, “it is statistically proven that the strongest institution that guarantees procreation and continuity of the generations is marriage between one man and one woman. I don‘t know about you, but I‘m not ready to be extinct. None of us wants to be, so we don‘t want genocide. Marriage between one man and one woman remains the guard against human extinction.”
Martin Luther King‘s niece. Out of respect for her family, I will merely point out that the current human population of Earth as of this afternoon was an estimated 6,861,542,768 people. We stand a much higher risk of extinction from too much procreation and not too little.
The runner up, Newt Gingrich. His ex-wife, Marianne, has ended 12 years of silence on the subject, telling “Esquire Magazine” about when he cheated on her while ginning up the Clinton impeachment. Quote, “he asked her to just tolerate the affair he was having, an offer she refused. He just returned from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he‘d given a speech full of high sentiments about compassion and family values. The next night they sat talking out on their back patio in Georgia. She said how do you give that speech and do what you‘re doing? It doesn‘t matter what I do, he answered. People need to hear what I have to say. There‘s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn‘t matter what I live.”
I‘d love to be more outraged, but I have to be surprised first.
But our winner, Donald Rumbow (ph) of St. James City, Florida. That‘s near Ft. Myers. Arrested because he wanted to go watch the Ultimate Fighting Championship match on the big screen at the bar. That‘s a crime now? No, but leaving a pot pipe and a baggy of marijuana in your parked pickup truck is. Also leaving in there your six-year-old son. Passersby discovered the boy crying hysterically inside the truck. It was 83 degrees at the time outside the vehicle. Rombow said he did roll down the windows and it was only 20 minutes, though his son claimed it was an hour and a half. Even though he‘s six, I‘m going with his estimate and not his stoned father‘s. David Rumbow, father of the year, today‘s Worst Person in the World.
OLBERMANN: Twenty years on the job, bad hotels, bad weather, passengers, many of whom seem to have left their own homes for the first time in their lives, and then one day, snapola. The exits are here, here, here and grab a beer. The number one story in the COUNTDOWN, the saga of Jetblue Flight attendant Steven Slater now in animated form.
Mr. Slater‘s Myspace page offers some chilly details. The 38-year-old
from Queens enjoys good food, fitness and semi-fabulous Jetblue airways
destinations. He was working on board a flight returning from Pittsburgh -
there you go—to New York‘s Kennedy Airport. Our director is from Pittsburgh. When a passenger stood up to open an overhead bin before the crew gave the OK, Mr. Slater got bonked on the head by the passenger‘s falling luggage.
A brief verbal altercation ensued. Slater then took to the intercom. Quote, “to the passenger who called me an MF‘er, F-You.” Declared 20 plus years in the airline was enough, he did, grabbed a couple of brews, exited stage left via inflatable slide and drove home, where cops later found Mr. Slater and his partner in bed, reportedly experiencing some turbulence.
He‘s been charged with reckless endangerment and criminal mischief and is being held on bail. Now that‘s what we think actually happened. Here‘s Mr. Slater‘s Norma Ray moment as imagined by our friends at Apple Daily.
(BEGNI VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: You saw it, all passengers were doing the Macarena while sitting down. Joining me with his thoughts now, comedian Christian Finnegan. His new DVD, “Au Contraire,” available in stores, on iTunes and via most emergency chutes from airplanes. Good evening, sir.
CHRISTIAN FINNEGAN, COMEDIAN: Good evening, Keith. I‘ve missed you.
OLBERMANN: Same here. As the evil laugh in the animation suggests, going down that emergency slide with the beer in hand—must it have felt like the actor Slim Pickens at the end of “Dr. Strangelove. Yeehaw, yeehaw.
FINNEGAN: That‘s the thing. None of us want to be in a plane crash. But I think we have all wanted to go down that slide at one point. This guy is around it every day. It‘s got to be tempting. To think, to do it while chugging a beer, that‘s like combining the best part of childhood with the very best part of adulthood.
OLBERMANN: The reality of this is underscored by an internal e-mail that was put out and obtained by TMZ from the Jetblue people. I just want to read you part of it, because there‘s a serious safety concern. “Some media outlets are portraying yesterday‘s event as a humorous example”—and humorous is Canadianly (ph), by the way—“example of what individuals may consider doing at a point in their careers, walking off the job in a very public fashion. True. However, as safety professionals, we know this event is a serious matter. Deploying a slide is a forceful event. Yesterday‘s deployment endangered and could have severely injured or even killed crew members working around and below the aircraft.”
What‘s your reaction to that official statement?
FINNEGAN: Well, I mean, I‘m glad that Jetblue is taking it seriously. I mean they should. We don‘t have to. I mean, if we can make fun of the Underwear Bomber, I think that this dude is sort of—we‘re on safe ground with him.
OLBERMANN: That‘s right.
FINNEGAN: So to speak. The thing about this is that really this conversation—this whole issue rips at the seams of the American psyche, because it pits our admiration for anyone that flips out at work against our unrelenting and collective hatred of flight attendants. That‘s why we‘re so excited about it.
OLBERMANN: Now, to that point, 20 years as a flight attendant and he never apparently tried to strangle a passenger. I know this was a bad exit in all senses of the phrase, but doesn‘t he get some sympathy for not trying to strangle a passenger for over 20 years?
FINNEGAN: Well, I suppose that‘s probably something. I mean, I know that I have wanted to strangle people on a regular basis. The thing is, it‘s—they were already on the ground. I don‘t know if you know it, New York to Pittsburgh is less than a two-hour flight. I want to be on the New York to Moscow flight with this dude. I want to see Steven Slater at hour nine.
OLBERMANN: We‘ve all thought about walking out. This guy actually did it. He could have injured workers on the ground. He could have—he could have—who knows what could have happened with that slide. He could have killed himself. The slide could have broken off if he didn‘t do it right. How do you think history is going to view Mr. Slater, other than in that animation?
FINNEGAN: I think they‘re making space on Mt. Rushmore as we speak. This guy has a bright future ahead of him. Do you have any idea how pissed the producers at “Celebrity Rehab” are that they already cast next season? Apparently this dude went off the wagon. This beer was like his first in a long time. So you know that the producers are like pulling Leif Garrett aside and they‘re like, hey listen, take one for the team here Leif.
OLBERMANN: I think his own reality show is a distinct possibility. Here‘s an interesting fact I haven‘t heard talked about too much. It took Jetblue 25 minutes to report this incident to authorities. What, were they just shocked or were they trying to cover it up? They‘re wondering where the beer went or what?
FINNEGAN: Part of me wonders which end the delay was on. I bet 15 minutes of it were the dispatchers saying yes, ha, ha, very funny, what really happened. No, seriously, we have work to do here. Then, of course, there‘s a round of high fives, followed by the uniformed officers arguing over who gets to take the assignment. Then, once the laughter and frivolity dies down, I guess we should make a report. Is there a code for this?
OLBERMANN: Plus a round of “I never liked him anyway.” This is also strange, the LinkedIn profile for this man Slater says he‘s part of Jetblue‘s Uniform Redesign Committee, as well as its In-Flight Values Committee. What—do you think those contributed to the problem? What do you think all that entails?
FINNEGAN: I love that this dude was put in a position of responsibility. I‘d say let him train all the flight attendants. It would be so much more entertaining. If you think about it, if all the flight attendants were trained by Steven Slater, taking a plane would almost be like a flying Tony and Tina‘s wedding scenario.
OLBERMANN: As, by the way, it probably suggests that as he went down the chute, he also, with the beer in one hand, screamed “and the uniform design sucks.”
Comedian Christian Finnegan, always a pleasure. Good to see you.
FINNEGAN: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That‘s COUNTDOWN for this Tuesday, August 10th. It is the 2,658th day since President Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq, the 2,247th day since he declared victory in Afghanistan, and the 113th day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf.
I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night—please leave via the regular exits
and good luck.
And now to discuss why Colorado is having all the fun when it comes to candidates—it involves bicycles and Communist conspiracies—ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.
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