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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Eugene Robinson, Dave Weigel, Rep. Raul Grijalva, Rep. Keith Ellison, Dave Foley, Bruce McColluch





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

Primary night.  Victory for the Tea Party, or really victory for the Democrats?  Or really, really, just victory for the Tea Party?


KEN BUCK ®, COLORADO SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  We need to return to the liberating principles of our Founding Fathers—as it was for most of this country‘s history, so it can be again.


OLBERMANN:  You know, slavery, no votes for women, stuff like that.

Sharron Angle versus Latinos and versus Harry Reid.


SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA:  I don‘t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, OK?  Do I need to say more?


OLBERMANN:  Angle calls out Reid on that, so he repeats it.  And why is Angle so concerned when it turns out she‘s not even inviting Latino news organizations to her news conferences?

Cutting to the chase on the ground zero mosque.  How long before somebody tries to outlaw Muslims?  I‘m giving it about a week.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We should not issue building permits for a single additional mosque in the United States of America.


OLBERMANN:  And Newt Gingrich steps in the same pile.


NEWT GINGRICH ®, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER:  And I don‘t want to be lectured by them about religious liberty at a time when there‘s not a single church or a single synagogue in Saudi Arabia.


OLBERMANN:  So, wait, Newt Gingrich wants us to be Saudi Arabia?

“Worst”: What‘s wrong with North Carolina?  Maybe we should start with the quality of the schools.

Farewells: The retirement of one of TV‘s all-time greats—after 63 years at the same station.

And the passing of the Pittsburgh legend, Nellie King.

And the “Kids in the Hall” are back with “Death Comes to Town”—live, local, and late breaking.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Seeing how the breaking news is late, why don‘t we watch that breaking news promo again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right.  Roll it.


OLBERMANN:  All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So much fun making that promo.  I can‘t tell you.




OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

Eighty-three days until the midterm elections—and in our fifth story: after another night of primary election battles, three more candidates who have won GOP nomination who are far enough to the right to join the likes of Rand Paul and Sharron Angle.

While the incumbent Democratic senator in Colorado strongly-backed by the president easily defeated his primary opponent—Senator Michael Bennet won the Democratic Senate primary in Colorado by a wide margin, nine.  Mr. Bennet had been appointed to fill the seat vacated by Ken Salazar, who became the interior secretary.  And the president raised for Senator Bennet and appeared to his campaign ads.

Bennet‘s challenger, Andrew Romanoff, had defied White House attempts to lure him out of the race and had been backed by former President Clinton.

Score one there for President Obama, whose chosen theme for the midterm elections made its way into Senator Bennet‘s victory speech.


SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D), COLORADO:  Do we want to return to the failed Washington policies of the last decade that drove us into the mess we‘re in today?


BENNET:  Or are we going to move forward together to build an economy that works for every single American?



OLBERMANN:  But it is the parade of Republican primary winners who have at least for now given Democrats the greatest delight, like the winner of last night‘s GOP Senate primary in Colorado, Tea Party favorite Ken Buck, who invited independents and Democrats to join his cause—before promptly returning to retro-inspired themes.


BUCK:  You know, we have a great opportunity in November to give voice to those Americans who haven‘t given up on our country‘s experiment in limited self-government.  We need to return to the liberating principles of our Founding Fathers—as it was for most of this country‘s history, so it can be again.


OLBERMANN:  That sounds like Mr. Buck might want to turn back the clock.  He does.  And you can bet that, and the coming general election, voters will be reminded of how he characterized his primary challenger, former Colorado Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Why should we vote for you?

BUCK:  Why should you vote for me?  Because I do not wear high heels.



OLBERMANN:  Another cautionary note for Democrats: both Republican primary contenders got more votes individually than the Democratic primary victor did.  More on that in a moment.

Also in Colorado, last night‘s victory by Dan Maes for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.  Mr. Maes maybe best known for recently suggesting that a Denver bicycle riding program might be, quote, “converting Denver into a United Nations community.”  It‘s a program Denver joined in 1982.

In Connecticut, the winner of the Republican senatorial primary, Linda McMahon, the former head of the WWE, wrestling—congratulations and well wishes from the DNC took this form: “Today, the party of Bob Dole, Jack Kemp and Dick Lugar nominated a candidate who kicks men in the crotch, thinks of scenes of necrophilia as entertainment, and runs an operation where women are forced to bark like dogs.  This is what has become of the once Grand Old Party.”

Of course, just because Ms. McMahon hails from the wrestling group, there‘s no need for Democrats to stoop to crotch-kicking metaphors.  It is out of bounds, considering that—what?  What?

Oh, it wasn‘t a metaphor.  Oh, OK.

Thus, not surprising that in her victory speech, McMahon would reach to the highest heights—he showed us—he who showed us the way.


LINDA MCMAHON ®, CONNECTICUT SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  The great communicator, Ronald Reagan, had it right.


MCMAHON:  But this president and this Congress have it wrong.


MCMAHON:  The path which they are leading us is not working.  And, folks, I get it.


OLBERMANN:  And then they‘ll get it in the crotch.

And, again, we must wonder if even Republicans skipped President George W. Bush in harking back to Republican greatness, is the DNC strategy of reminding voters of former president really so lame?

In Georgia, former congressman Nathan Deal won the Republican gubernatorial runoff narrowly defeating Georgia‘s secretary of state, Karen Handel.  That race notable for the proxy fight.  Former Alaska Governor Palin having backed the loser, Ms. Handel.  The winner supported by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee.

Let‘s turn first to “Washington Post” associate editor, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson.

Gene, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  The president‘s success first.  He backed the Senator Bennet in Colorado.  Presumably, the White House is happy about that.  But how much significance do we assign to this and his role in it particularly since the last major Democratic primary contender that the White House backed on the Senate race, Arlen Specter, who lost, was hardly seen as a real Democrat—is there any instruction out of this?

ROBINSON:  I think there is, Keith.  I think the White House has a right to feel—to crow a bit today about this victory.  After all, Romanoff had been supported by I guess what Robert Gibbs would call the professional left.  And certainly was the insurgent candidate, Michael Bennet, was actually a novice at running for office.  He was an appointed senator.  Yet, with the president‘s backing, he won a substantial victory, and I think you have to credit that to President Obama.

OLBERMANN:  Next topic here.  We‘ll examine more fully in a moment, but when Tea Party foot-and-mouth favorites, like Sharron Angle and Rand Paul, are joined by some of these new crop of the GOP victors last night—do Democrats have a useful emerging theme, or were these results just made for you and me?

ROBINSON:  No.  I think Democrats have something to work with here. 

You know, the menace of bike paths, some sort of communist conspiracy.  It‘s—the theme is to equate the Republican Party with the Tea Party, and to point out some of the more extreme positions taken by Tea Party candidates and ask Republican candidates, OK, is this what you believe, is that what you want, are we going to turn back the clock, literally, as some Tea Party members seem to want to do?  I suspect that‘s what Democrats will do.

OLBERMANN:  Turnout—which is sort of the underlying part to another theme that‘s percolating today.  The anti-incumbent unrest—it is obviously mainly the animating factor as we look ahead to the midterms.  It is certainly more prevalent among Republican primary voters than Democratic primary voters.  And the turnout in Colorado basically, two-to-one, the loser of the Republican would have won the Democrat.

Do you—do you think it‘s—there‘s anything out of those turnout numbers that suggest that the supposed silver lining here for the Democrats is actually just another silver lining for the Tea Party people, that they might actually get elected because of the functions and the traditions of an off-year election?

ROBINSON:  What it suggests to me is: not so fast, everybody.  I mean, Democrats certainly have some reason to take heart from yesterday‘s results, but those turnout figures should be more than a caution.  They indicate there‘s this enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats is very real, and what we don‘t know from yesterday‘s results, because they were party primaries, is how independents are feeling and whether they have the anti-incumbent fever like Republicans or less of that fever like Democrats.  And that‘s what I think the Democratic Party has to worry about.

OLBERMANN:  Hate the term “takeaway,” but for want of a better one, what is the takeaway from last night?

ROBINSON:  That this is still a contest.  That some sort of Republican tidal wave is written in stone.  Democrats who run good campaigns can win elections.

But the Democrats have got to close this enthusiasm gap.  And the Republicans have got to deal with this Tea Party element that could cause them to lose some races that they‘re counting on winning.

OLBERMANN:  Our own Eugene Robinson of “The Washington Post”—as always, Gene, great thanks.

ROBINSON:  Great to be here, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  So, for more on what the Tea Party might be doing to the Republican Party and its chances in November, let‘s turn to “Slate” political contributor and MSNBC contributor, Dave Weigel.

David, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  Ken Buck‘s victory in Colorado, he was pitted against the classic kind of GOP establishment candidate there in Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton, although she had a lot of campaign issues and a lot of faux pas.  But is there evidence here that the Tea Party has at least in some regions of the country successfully infiltrated the GOP and perhaps supplanted some of the infrastructure?

WEIGEL:  Oh, yes, in a lot of regions.  The Tea Party had a very long memory—a memory that predated the movement because one thing I kept hearing from activists is that Jane Norton as lieutenant governor five years ago had been on a wrong side of ballot initiative that ended up raising taxes in Colorado.  It‘s a ballot initiative Republicans at the time supported, Republicans, you wouldn‘t call moderate in the rest of the country exactly.  And because she supported it, she had this impossible hill to climb.  And when she started falling apart, and even the gap that you should earlier where he kind of made fun of her gender in a way that they have an explanation for, but I can‘t quite figure it out—that cut the momentum, but they still didn‘t trust her.

And we don‘t have many more primaries left where this is going to happen, but this—the Tea Party standards of what they want from a candidate are basically inflexible.

OLBERMANN:  What do, though, those victories—Buck, Paul, Angle, Marco Rubio, the likelihood there—begin to offer in terms of a usable theme for the Democrats?  I mean, can the Democrats come out and go, “These people are crazy”?  Is it as simple as that?  Is that the stance?

WEIGEL:  Yes.  This is—they‘ve been hitting this drum for a while.  They started in January telling reporters you should all ask Republicans these questions about things that are a little bit outside of the mainstream, certainly for an independent voter that might be on the fence between these two parties, and they‘ve been asking them and through the guise that the Democrats have wanted to fight against, they‘ve gotten the chance to fight against for the most part.

I mean, Colorado is one of the real jewels for Republicans six, seven months ago.  It‘s one of the places it looked like they could take back pretty easily.  And now, it doesn‘t look like that because they—you know, Ken Buck is not a terrible candidate.  He‘s actually more on message than a couple other ones Democrats like to point to.  But he has weaknesses a generic “R” Republican, as we like to call it, didn‘t have.  And Democrats are going to—you know, any success they had, and it‘s a little bit sad, they can‘t run on their agenda, they (INAUDIBLE) what they passed.


WEIGEL:  But they‘re successfully running against the Tea Party.

OLBERMANN:  And what do the Tea Party guys and women do?  Do they get crazier or they tack back towards the center in hopes of getting independents?

WEIGEL:  Well, they can quiet down on some of the stuff that excited people in—at the rallies.  You know, what Democrats try to do is send these video trackers, and they‘re the ones that almost scored that direct hit on Ken Buck.  They‘re the ones that have scored, you know—scored hits on a lot of Republicans and caught them, you know, telling a person who believes that Obama is not really American that he‘s on to something.


WEIGEL:  So, they‘re going to keep doing that.  They kind of become better at chalking to partisan media and staying way from issues they don‘t think voters don‘t want to talk about.  They‘ll deflect it to saying, look, Democrats want to talk about this non-issue or that non-issue, I want to talk about how spending is out of control.

And if they can pour, you know, pour all their energy into those issues, they have something.  Because, you know, Colorado is one of those states where there are more Democrats than Republicans generally.  You need to win independents—Democrats have been winning independents by convincing the middle that the Republicans are a little bit crazy.

And so, they know that this game is going to be played.  They‘re going to try to not talk about this stuff.  The Democrats are just going to keep poking that hornet‘s nest.

OLBERMANN:  There‘s a new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” Poll that has an interesting statistic in it.  For the first time in this poll, Tea Party Movement negative rating -- 33 percent view it positively, 34 percent view it negatively.  What are the implications of that in terms of the midterms?

WEIGEL:  Well, that‘s a result of eight months of Democrats hitting this.  I mean, a lot of Barack Obama‘s problems are results of 18 months of Republicans criticizing him and trying—and blocking him in the Senate.  This is a result of Democrats and sort of outside institutions like the Center for American Progress and the new progressive media just making everyone aware every time a Ken Buck slips on something or a Sharron Angle slips on some gaffe of her own creation.

So, this has been successful.  Voters are being reminded, especially in places where there are a lot of seniors who turn out in midterms that you might be angry with Barack Obama, but if this Tea Party guy is serious about what he‘s been saying a rallies, he‘s going to get rid of the welfare state and everything you‘ve paid into.  I‘d bring that up, Medicare and Social Security, these are things Tea Party people say they want and that they‘ve paid into, but these are things that their movement is philosophically against.

So, Democrats are going to—you know, they‘ve been successful in making this less popular.  You know, that‘s—a lot of them see the Tea Party as sort of a new Coke-style rebranding of conservativism and they‘re just trying to bang that up as much as they can before voters vote in November.

OLBERMANN:  And we know how well new Coke did.

Dave Weigel of “Slate” and MSNBC—thank you, Dave.

WEIGEL:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  The Tea Party Republican conservative new-Coke consortium is cutting to the chase in other areas.  One of its Senate candidates is not inviting Hispanic media to her news conferences.  One of its religious zealots is trying to prevent the building of further mosques anywhere in the country.  And one of its would-be presidential nominees is dismissing religious liberty and implying we should be more like Saudi Arabia.

So, religious war.  Terrific.  Next.


OLBERMANN:  More than a quarter of all Nevadans are of Hispanic or Latino origin.  So, why is this Nevada Senate candidate refusing to invite reporters from Hispanic media to her news conferences?

But the big tent Republicans can hate many minority groups.  In the mosque debate, he dismisses freedom of religion while others try to deny Muslims the right to build of any more houses of worship in this country.  Where does all this stupidity come from?  Possibly inside this North Carolina school zone.  Speaking of school, “Kids in the Hall” are back and here—ahead on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Karl Rove and George W. Bush once dreamed of a permanent Republican majority built by broadening the party‘s appeal to ethnic minorities.  But, now, the big tent party appears to have given up the pretense, catering solely to its base, its ethnic minority of white Christians, and declared a state of open hostility against everybody else.

The open admission of anti-Islamic bigotry, presently.  But in our fourth story tonight: the Republican Party Senate candidate shutting out Hispanics.

KLAS-TV Las Vegas reporting last night that Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle has excluded Hispanic media not just from interviews—what she has done with all journalistic outlets—but has practiced a complete blackout of Hispanic media, her spokespeople not returning their calls, not even sending them the routine news releases that go to other media so she won‘t even runaway from their cameras.

“El Tiempo‘s” editor in chief saying he‘s experienced nothing like this shutout in 30 years.  Angle‘s spokesperson telling the television station KLAS that as opposed to “El Tiempo,” that the campaign will, quote, “be doing more outreach to both Spanish and English language media.”

Angle‘s campaign, meanwhile, accused opponent Harry Reid of, quote, “turning to race and ethnicity” in his own campaign for comments he made yesterday while addressing Hispanic supporters.


REID:  I don‘t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, OK?  Do I need to say more?


OLBERMANN:  Reid‘s son, Rory, is running for governor in that state against a Republican who is Hispanic, Brian Sandoval.

But Reid did not back down today.  His campaign in a statement today is saying, “He doesn‘t understand how anyone, Hispanic or otherwise, would vote for Republican candidates because they oppose saving teachers jobs, oppose job-creating tax incentives for small business.”  The list goes on but does not include immigration reform.

Reid, the Senate leader, calling a special session tomorrow to send the president a house bill authorizing $600 million in funding for new border security measures, this after Democrats failed to pass promised comprehensive immigration reform.

“Politico” reporting that President Obama‘s unfilled promise to produce an immigration reform bill in his first year in office, known as the “La Promesa de Obama,” has led to widespread disenchantment with the president among the nation‘s most influential Hispanic media outlets.

Univision anchor, Jorge Ramos, to whom candidate Obama repeated “La Promesa” in May of 2008 told “Politico,” Obama, quote, “has a serious credibility problem right now with Latinos.”

With the Obama administration deporting illegal immigrants, even those who are otherwise law-abiding, at a faster pace than even the Bush administration did, Ramos told “Politico,” quote, “They know they‘re in trouble with the Hispanic community, and the problem in November is the Hispanic vote may be up for grabs again.  My fear is that they might not vote.  They don‘t feel protected or supported by either party.”

Let‘s the turn to Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, also co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.

Great thanks once again for your time tonight, sir.

REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D), ARIZONA:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  We‘ll get to the GOP, but let me start with “La Promesa.” 

How much trouble do you think the Democrats will have with that—


OLBERMANN:  -- in November?  None?

GRIJALVA:  I think there is a level of frustration and disappointment that is palatable in the Latino community based on the issue of immigration, as one factor, but others as well.  And—but I think—going into the election, I think the Latino community understands its sense of place in this country is going to depend on its participation in this election.

I thought you said it well.  There‘s a sense of insecurity as to where their political allegiances should be.  But I don‘t underestimate the intelligence or maturity of the Latino voter.

We understand who is vilifying us, and while there‘s frustration and disappointment with the Obama administration and with Congress regarding immigration particularly, there‘s also a sense that the vilification of Latinos by the Republican Party and the Tea Party is an eminent and long-term threat to the overall security and the integration of our community into the society.  I think that is bigger than people have given credit to.

OLBERMANN:  Do you fear of the three choices, though—Republicans, Democrats or the couch—do you fear the couch more than the Republicans?

GRIJALVA:  I think the couch worries me.  If we don‘t turn out in the numbers that we need to, it is not just an expression of frustration and disappointment, we‘re also going to be potentially hurting very good candidates that we need as advocates in Congress, and we‘re going to be by omission allowing some of the more extremist elements that have been the ones vilifying our community for the last 18 months the opportunity to get elected.

OLBERMANN:  And to discuss those and about the GOP, Mrs. Angle in Nevada—how unusual is this for a—for a congressional or a Senate candidate, especially in a—in a state that has 25 percent Hispanic population, to not even bother to send out ordinarily routine news releases to—let alone return phone calls—from Hispanic media?

GRIJALVA:  Yes.  It‘s not only unusual, it‘s stupid.


GRIJALVA:  Politically stupid.

And, you know, but I think it‘s part of a strategy, Keith, that the Republican Party and the more extreme elements of that party have undertaken: first to vilify, then to demonize, then to make immigration the third rail in this election, and then now—and part of the strategy will be to ignore, and the next part of the strategy will be to try to suppress that vote.

I think those are all going to fail as we go along in this process.  But, yes, it is a—I think it‘s a calculated strategy not to involve Latinos in any aspect of Republican politics at this point because they see that that vote is potentially not theirs.  So, the idea is to ignore and suppress.

OLBERMANN:  I refer to the big tent Republican Party idea that used to exist.  We‘re seeing so many candidates now openly appearing—appealing to fears, to prejudices of a segment of white Christian America.

What‘s the—what‘s the end game to this?  It certainly can‘t—simply, mathematically, it can‘t work, can it?

GRIJALVA:  No.  Demographically it won‘t work, and—but I think the damage that is being done to the social fabric of this nation—


GRIJALVA:  -- at this point, we should all be concerned about.  This is—this is an end game to win an election in the immediate term.  On the long term, the divisions, the polarization, and the impunity in which people are making comments about the Latino community, candidates for office here in the state of Arizona, as well—McCain—flipping and now making that community the reason why we have problems in this nation.

I think the Latino community understands who their friends are in this fight, and they are now coming to the clear, crystal conclusion about who their enemies are.  That‘s why I think they‘re going to vote.

OLBERMANN:  Enemies might be complimentary as we‘re going along here, Congressman.

Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona—it‘s always a pleasure.  Thank you, sir.

GRIJALVA:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Maybe the idea of the Republican big tent now is: we don‘t just hate gays and blacks.  We can hate Hispanics, too, and especially Muslims.  A bid to deny them the right to build any more places of worship in our country.


OLBERMANN:  An actual proposal from the American Families Association to prevent the building of any more mosques in this country. 

First, the especially needed tonight‘s sanity break.  In 1947, the first commercial television license on the west coast was awarded to KTLA in Los Angeles.  About an hour later, the station hired 24-year-old announcer and news reporter Stan Chambers.  He‘s been there ever since, until today, his 87 birthday, when he retired.  In his 63 years on Channel Five, he‘s covered an estimated 20,000 different stories, from the little girl in the well, Kathy Fiscus (ph), to the Watts Riots, to the RFK assassination, to being the reporter who broke the Rodney King story.  He even survived working three years there with me, and lasted long enough to see his own grandson join him as a news reporter at KTLA.  Sixty three years, makes Vin Scully and Queen Elizabeth seem like newbies. 

The best part, in a sentence that defines Stan, quote, he still plans to do occasional stories for KTLA.  All the best, sir.  Let‘s play Oddball.


Only in Vegas.  The fans have come out in full force sport to support their favorite guest room attendants.  Yes, the annual House Cleaning Olympics.  Keep it clean out there.  Contestants from 16 Vegas hotels competed at events such as the buffer pad race, the bed-making contest.  What about stains?  What do they do about stains?  Bonus points given for keeping the mint on the pillow.  The winner receives a queen-sized bed and a set of sheets.  And a guest at their hotel gets to go to their house and knock on their door despite the “Do Not Disturb” sign. 

Sarasota, hello.  We find a Scofflaw on the run, sort of.  It‘s George the Tortoise, the latest turtle and/or tortoise to escape from his owner‘s home, who is on the lamb.  How does a tortoise escape someone?  Anyway, after stopping traffic for a little, George was eventually caught and then the hare beat him to the finish line. 

The far right trying to stop the building of mosques in this country.  Remember how the GOP once thought it could build a permanent majority by broadening its base to include all kinds of ethnic groups?  Yeah, probably not now.


OLBERMANN:  As we mentioned earlier, the Republican party is now openly targeting groups that fall outside its white Christian base.  In our third story tonight, one of the nation‘s most influential right-wing organizations is, in fact, now calling for a ban on the building of mosques, not at Ground Zero, not in New York City, not two blocks away --  in America.  No mosques allowed to be built anywhere in the United States of America. 

His name is Brian Fisher.  He‘s the director of issues analysis for the American Family Association.  This is what he said on his website yesterday. 



permits, in my judgment, should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America, not one.  We ought to be done with the building of mosques in the United States of America.  I‘m not saying go out and tear down the ones that are there.  I‘m saying we should not issue building permits for a single additional mosque in the United States of America. 

Now, here is the reason I do not think that building permits for mosques ought to be granted: each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government. 


OLBERMANN:  Fisher is scheduled to speak at the Values Voters Summit in September.  That‘s a brand name.  The office of Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell told COUNTDOWN today he is not sure whether he‘ll attend along with Mr. Fisher.  House Republican Conference Chair Mike Pence is scheduled to attend.  His office not responding today when asked whether he will still do so.  This as that mosque‘s imam, Feizal Abdul Rauf, is under attack from Fox News and other Republican media outlets for going on a U.S.  government speaking tour of the Middle East to discuss U.S. religious tolerance.  Under attack, despite the fact that his first such tour was in 2007, and that tour was paid for by the Bush administration. 

This as another right-wing group, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, run by blogger Pamela Geller, just won a battle with New York‘s transit authority, winning the right to buy ad spaces on city buses showing an ad opposing the mosque because it might upset some New Yorkers.  Geller asked whether her ad‘s image, the 9/11 attacks, might upset some New Yorkers; telling the “New York Times,” quote, “not at all, it‘s part of American history.” 

So is freedom of religion, madam. 

Let‘s bring in man who used a Koran once owned by Thomas Jefferson for his unofficial swearing in ceremony, Congressman Keith Ellison.  Thank you for your tonight.

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA:  How are you, Keith?  Good to be here. 

OLBERMANN:  Your response as a Muslim-American, as a member of Congress, or both, to this American Family Association idea, if you would, please? 

ELLISON:  My response as an American is that the Constitution guarantees all people to seek the divine as they see fit.  Freedom of religion is a deeply rooted, deeply ensured American value, and these people are attacking this.  I think it‘s important for Americans to put these folks in the box of the radical extreme, which they are. 

The mainstream idea is that all Americans have a First Amendment which protects their right to worship as they see fit.  And that means go to the institutions that they see fit to go to, including mosques. 

OLBERMANN:  Newt Gingrich said that he won‘t be lectured on religious liberty while there are no synagogues or churches in Saudi Arabia.  Isn‘t Saudi Arabia an unusual place to bring up—to compare—or should we be changing our public relationship to the individual right to worship as you choose to make it more along the lines of Saudi Arabia? 

ELLISON:  You know, Keith, when I read that Mr. Gingrich wrote that, I found it shocking, because although I disagree with almost everything that he says, I at least thought he was intellectually consistent and knew a little bit about what he was talking about.  I now have been disabused of that erroneous belief. 

Gingrich, if he wants to—Saudi Arabia to be the standard by which we judge America and determine our own liberties and freedoms, then that‘s something I can‘t go along with and I think a lot of Americans would agree with me.  The fact is that, you know, this is the greatest country in the world because here you can seek your divine as you choose fit.  You can worship as you choose. 

And so I don‘t know why they would ever want to go back to that.  But, Keith, there‘s another point I hope we can bring out here tonight.  And that is that those transnational terrorists who did attack the United States on 9/11, their narrative is that the west is at war with Islam.  My question to my fellow Americans is why would we want to reinforce that false narrative?  Don‘t we want to undermine it?  All we have to do to undermine that narrative is to stand on our own traditions of saying that all Americans can worship as we see fit; we tolerate religious liberty; and that that automatically destroys this myth that the bin Ladens of the world are trying to perpetuate. 

My question is why won‘t Mr. Gingrich and Geller and all the rest of them stand with those of us who believe this Constitution is has worked pretty well over the last several hundred years? 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s the great irony of that, congressman, that we don‘t even have to do anything special to defeat that.  We just have to stand up for, as you pointed out, what we‘ve always believed in. 

ELLISON:  That‘s right. 

OLBERMANN:  A question to you about your colleague, Mr. Pence.  He is listed as  scheduled to speak along with this Mr. Fisher of the Family Association at this event next month.  Any thoughts for him or any other Republicans who are scheduled to be there? 

ELLISON:  You know, my father is a Republican, and I obviously love my dad.  But he says, look, I didn‘t leave the Republican party.  They left me.  The Republican party used to say they wanted to embrace and have a big tent.  Now they are drifting toward the radical extreme.  And I asked them to come back from the edge.  I mean, the fact is we can argue over tax policy and expenditures and that‘s fine.  But once they start embracing clearly bigoted organizations, then that is a horse of a different color.  And we—and I just hope that Mike rethinks what he‘s doing by lending credibility to an organization like that. 

OLBERMANN:  Yeah.  We need to draw a line against this, and we need to do it here.  Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, forgive me for running out of time tonight.  Great thanks for yours. 

ELLISON:  You bet.  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  Death comes to town with “The Kids in the Hall.”  Dave Foley and Bruce McCulloch come to our studio. 

Bill-O versus Jennifer Aniston on the necessity of fathers.  The sad truth from O‘Reilly‘s past that explains this over the top reaction. 

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, the fight to repeal Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell as told by those who have to abide by it every hour of every day of their live, some of whom are going public for the first time tonight.


OLBERMANN:  Worst persons and “The Kids in the Hall”—separate groups—ahead.  First a quick farewell. 

Nelson Joseph King got into professional baseball because a part time scout sent him to a mass tryout camp where the instructors there decided he was good enough to get a look in Spring Training, where they finally signed him to pitch for the New Iberian Cardinals of New Iberia, Louisiana, in the Evangeline League.  After one game, they dropped him.  In fact, he was dropped twice before his 19th birthday.  And it would be nine years of struggle in the Minor Leagues and the service—even a repeat trip to New Iberia—before he got to the big leagues in Pittsburgh. 

There after just four season, it all ended with an arm injury.  So Nelly King started out at the bottom again in radio sports reporting, not network, not big time, local radio stations in the Pittsburgh suburbs.  After seven year of that grunt work, back to the Pirates and their play by play team in 1967.  New and fickle management put an end to that in 1976.  So he started anew, again, as the sports information director, basketball announcer and later golf coach at Duquesne University.  He was still there as of 2004. 

Through all of these ups and downs, the stuff that would make you and I blanche, he loved every minute of it, along with his wife and three daughters.  That‘s Amy with him.  It shines through in a book he wrote last year called “Happiness is Like a Cur Dog,” which I have recommended to you before.  Nelly King was a living testament to hard work, perseverance, and the indefatigability of the human spirit.  He died this morning at the age of 82.  I talked to him Saturday, and we knew it would be goodbye.  He wound up reassuring me and making me laugh.  We figured out, to our delight, that he and my father were in the service together at Ft. Dix.  They had a mutual friend, but my dad didn‘t know Nelly. 

I‘m fortunate enough to say I did.


OLBERMANN  “The Kids in the Hall” and their new series “Death Comes to Town.”  It‘s not new.  They‘ve been getting it in Canada since January.  We had to pass health care reform just to get it eight months later. 

That‘s next, but first get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 

The bronze to Traffic Markings, a contract company on the loose near Gilford, North Carolina.  First, it was the yield signs in Nevada that were misspelled Y-E-I-L-D.  Now this: you‘re approaching a “S-H-C-O-O-L.”  Actually, it‘s slightly better than the one in Miami last year that referred to a Scohol.  See what happens when you privatize matters of vital public interest?  Actually, it turns out that a detour sign in Gilford was also misspelled “Gilliford.”  That was painted by the State Department of Transportation. 

The runner up, Bill-O, unhappy that out promoting Jason Bateman‘s new film about a woman turning to artificial insemination and raising a child on her own called “The Switch,” Jennifer Aniston said—oh, it‘s Jennifer Aniston‘s new film?  I‘m sorry.  Anyway, she said “women are realizing it more and more, knowing that they don‘t have to settle with a man just to have that child.  Times have changed, and that is also so amazing, is that we do have so many options these days, as opposed to our parents‘ days when you can‘t have a children because you have waited too long.” 

Blow-Hole 0‘Reilly replied, “she‘s throwing a message out to 12-year-olds and 13-year-olds that hey, you don‘t need a guy; you don‘t need a dad.  That is destructive to our society.  The fathers who try hard are under-appreciated and diminished by people like Jennifer Aniston.” 

He then ordered her to appear on his show.  Even a line of amateur psychoanalysis of what O‘Reilly is doing this time.  If you read Marvin Kitman‘s autobiography or biography of O‘Reilly, it‘s pretty simple.  Virtually every reference O‘Reilly makes to his own father describes how the man hit, slapped, punched him.  As Kitman put it, simply, “O‘Reilly has a history of physical abuse from his father.” 

It is actually very sad. 

But our winner, Brent Bozell of the hilarious Media Research Center and Newsbusters, not happy that Jon Stewart criticized the anti-American frenzy by conservatives to stop the building of houses of worships for Muslims.  Stewart, writes Tim Graham on Newsbusters, quote, “mocked conservatives for having no respect for freedom of religion.  This from Comedy Central, the network that mocks Jesus and Christians relentlessly, but sensors whenever the radical Muslims threaten them?  Yes, Stewart was arguing for the greatness of Islam, that it should be accepted with great tolerance as a global religion.” 

Except, of course, when Comedy Central folded in front of Muslim protests over an episode of “South Park,” Stewart mocked comedy central.  You know how I know?  Graham‘s own Media Research Center and Newsbusters applauded Stewart for doing it.  One Locklan Markay wrote, “Jon Stewart noted the blatant censorship his employer Comedy Central exercised against its popular show South Park by banning it from showing and even uttering the word Mohammed in this weeks episode after a threat came forward from an Islamic group.  His extensive recap of all the religions the show has made fun of over the years was clearly a critique of Comedy Central‘s decision.”

Clearly people at Newsbusters are not relying on their own website for information.  Then again with their kind of track record, who would?  Brent Bozell of the somewhat self-destructive Newsbusters and Media Research Council, today‘s worst person—hey beard—in the world!


OLBERMANN:  Of their hundreds of sketches that they, the last truly successful sketch comedy group on the continent performed, perhaps only one has actually become outdated.  He‘s hip.  He‘s cool.  He‘s 45.  It was a lot funnier when neither its star, who is over there, or its audience, -- hi, how are you—could actually conceive that they would someday be 45 or 51 or 49.  Our number-one story, “The Kids in the Hall” are back with a new TV series that has, you know, a plot and everything. 

Dave Foley and Bruce McCulloch join me in a moment to talk about it and a few political things.  And Canadian stuff, like why they and SCTV and Lorne Michaels succeeded here are but from there, but the last 16 Stanley Cup winners have been won by American teams.  Oh, and about Canadian health care. 

Just ask Press Secretary Gibbs about that, especially considering his

remarks that the so-called professional left with will only be satisfied,

quote, “when we have Canadian health care.”  Yeah.  Health care for all,

that would just suck.  >

The new series, once again, we‘re late to the party.  Canada has been enjoying it since the beginning of the year.  “Death Comes to Town” follows the Grip Reapers arrival in the fictional Shuckton, Ontario.  It makes its American debut none too soon, IFC, August 20th

As promised, a pleasure to welcome Bruce McCulloch and to welcome back Dave Foley. 

DAVE FOLEY, “KIDS IN THE HALL”:  Thank you very much.  Very nice stuff. 

It‘s the first time I‘ve been in a room with you.  I‘ve been across the continent from you, talking with you. 

OLBERMANN:  Blaming you for Glenn Beck. 

FOLEY:  Yes. 

OLBERMANN:  You have 60 Seconds to rebut, Mr. Foley.  No.  Let‘s start with the show.  In “Death Comes to Town,” you guys are married as it starts? 

FOLEY:  Bruce and I are married, but it‘s not gay marriage, because one of us is in drag.  Because gay marriage, that‘s against God‘s plan. 


FOLEY:  Yeah.  So I am—I am a rather blousy drunk wife of Bruce‘s mayor character. 

BRUCE MCCULLOCH, “KIDS IN THE HALL”:  We grew up as children of alcoholics, so we channeled our parents being drunk and fighting.  So we know how to do that.  Yes.  It‘s right in there.  It‘s a documentary of our lives. 

OLBERMANN:  Oh, lord.  This is not—this is something of a departure.  Obviously, it has the same level of fun and the same approach, but you‘re going with like one plot rather than free form. 

FOLEY:  You haven‘t seen it, have you, sir? 

MCCULLOCH:  No one has. 

FOLEY:  It‘s a departure.  We haven‘t done anything in a long time. 

OLBERMANN:  We can get the stuff from Canada over the border.  It comes in via the Internet. 

FOLEY:  I get it over Bit Torrent.  I can‘t—I kept trying to get

DVDs from our office in Canada, and they kept forgetting to send them.  So

I eventually just downloaded the whole series on Bit Torrent.  I illegally

so come after me, FBI. 

MCCULLOCH:  That‘s not the only reason they‘ll be coming after you, sir. 

FOLEY:  No. 

OLBERMANN:  To the point of continuing to try to plug the show against your will—


FOLEY:  That is our way. 

MCCULLOCH:  That‘s why we‘re here.  Right? 

OLBERMANN:  Nominally, anyway.  But so why a plot rather than—do you feel like you did everything before in the sketch format? 

FOLEY:  Well, we didn‘t want to—I don‘t think we‘d ever come back to do sketches again, because over the years it‘s been—the subject has been broached.  Why don‘t you come back and do—we always say we can‘t do another sketch show.  We already did our sketch show and we shut it down at the time we thought was a good time to shut it down.  And so why would we come back and do that? 

But then when we started to talking about writing new stuff together, this idea came up.  It was Bruce‘s idea, and—

MCCULLOCH:  That‘s why I‘m here this evening. 

OLBERMANN:  And he and Kevin started fleshing it out as a movie idea, originally.  And as they were discussing it—and I think Scott was involved in some of those discussions—

MCCULLOCH:  He spilled coffee at those meetings. 

FOLEY:  Yes.  And complained about why GLAAD hadn‘t honored him.  So they were working it out and they started thinking, you know, this feels like more than a movie; it feels like maybe it would be a good mini-series. 

OLBERMANN:  Why look, there‘s some video of it now on the big screen. 

FOLEY:  There we are. 

OLBERMANN:  That sort of gives away the first—

MCCULLOCH:  I wonder what happens there. 

FOLEY:  What happens next? 

OLBERMANN:  Terrible. 

MCCULLOCH:  It‘s actually an extra that‘s getting kill, so we‘re not giving away anything. 

OLBERMANN:  For a second there I thought it was “Mad Men,”  Because it would just like—that was the decor in the ‘60s that I remember. 

FOLEY:  Check out the boobs on that cougar. 

OLBERMANN:  It has been observed several times that all of you looked far too good as women.  Why was this? 

FOLEY:  Not all of us.  Scott was rather homely. 


MCCULLOCH:  Well, when men drink, we look good as women.  So they should put down the bottle. 

FOLEY:  They should go to their beer ophthalmologist and get fitted for proper beer goggles. 

OLBERMANN:  And this leads us directly into Canadian health care. 

FOLEY:  Yes. 

OLBERMANN:  And the subject that Gibbs kind of dismissed as pie in the sky. 

FOLEY:  What an absurd notion to want to get rid of the Pentagon and have Canadian health care. 

MCCULLOCH:  Like alchemy or something. 

FOLEY:  Why would a nation want—

OLBERMANN:  But it destroyed your nation, your native land, didn‘t it? 

FOLEY:  It ruined us.  And that‘s—you know what?  That‘s why we‘re forced to live longer than you people. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s it, to make up for it. 

FOLEY:  We have to make up for the horrors of socialized medicine that allow us to live on average five years longer than an American. 

OLBERMANN:  In the show, the fictional town that you‘re from and it‘s based in wants to host the Olympics.  Today, just coincidentally, the British National Tourism Agency released etiquette guidelines on how to handle foreign visitors during the 2012 games in London.  Among the tips is never mistake Canadian for an American.  The Canadian will surely take offence.  Thoughts? 

FOLEY:  Well, it‘s our biggest secret.  You let out our biggest secret. 

MCCULLOCH:  We will be offended, but we will thank you for it. 

FOLEY:  Because that is our way.  We will kill you with kindness. 

MCCULLOCH:  And then we will apologize. 

FOLEY:  We fight with the Americans in wars, but we kill them with kindness, our enemies. 

OLBERMANN:  Here‘s one you can kill—

MCCULLOCH:  We‘ve politely been in Afghanistan for ten years now. 

OLBERMANN:  Just handing out samples. 

FOLEY:  The Americans say, would you go to—sure, OK, buddy.  So we went to Afghanistan.  We‘re still there.  But, you know, you‘re welcome, America. 

OLBERMANN:  Why do you come in and take over our comedy, and to great affect, with our great thanks? 

FOLEY:  Because just as no one else will pick your grapes, no one else will tell your jokes. 

MCCULLOCH:  Only we see you the way you really are. 

OLBERMANN:  Were you out picking grapes today?  Is that what you‘re saying? 

FOLEY:  I was.  Me and a number of other Canadian comedians were out picking fruit. 

OLBERMANN:  Dave Foley and Bruce McCulloch, two of “The Kids in the

Hall,” out picking fruit 

FOLEY:  Two of the finest. 

OLBERMANN:  Two of the finest. 

FOLEY:  Are we done? 

OLBERMANN:  We are.  Look at the time.  See this?  Time is the same. 

FOLEY:  I don‘t want to go.  I don‘t want to leave. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, they‘ll be the first guest on Rachel Maddow in a matter of moments.  COUNTDOWN today is the 2,659th day since President Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq, the 2248th day since he declared victory in Afghanistan, and the 114th day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf. 

I like this lighting over here.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.  Now to introduce us to the people fighting for the repeal of Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell, ladies and gentlemen, here‘s Rachel Maddow.  Good evening, Rachel. 



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