IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Howard Fineman, Paul Waldman, David Paine, Roy Sekoff





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

The Arizona governor‘s debate or Jan Brewer‘s meltdown.


GOV. JAN BREWER ®, ARIZONA:  We have done everything that we could possibly do.


BREWER:  We have—


OLBERMANN:  And those were the prepared remarks.  Then there was the post-debate news conference, all about her comments about headless torsos.


REPORTER:  Do you still believe that?  Come on, Governor.

BREWER:  OK.  Thank you all.



OLBERMANN:  Strange brew and the metaphor of the headless torso for the GOP, the deliberate push to demonize education and intelligence.

The deification of W.—the WMD-fication.  Ex-press aide Mark McKinnon‘s bizarre apologia for a failed presidency: “Folks long for his steadying hand.  They miss his warmth and empathy.  In those horrible hours following the attacks on America, we momentarily saw our fear reflected back in the president‘s eyes.  We then saw his resolve and took comfort in his strength.”

We will—well, cut that to ribbons.

The DOJ investigates the Islamophobic attack on the New York cab driver, the arson at the Tennessee mosque.

“St. Beck as in Wreck.”


GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST:  We must know what is true and then rely on Divine Providence.


OLBERMANN:  So, now, you‘re calling university‘s re-education camps, L. Ron Hub-Beck?

And the real hope for 2012: Ms. Bendy Straws?  The governor whose own state would vote against him?  The guy with the big “I love health care reform” target on his back?  Or a mustache you can believe in?


JOHN BOLTON, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.:  I‘m not saying no.


OLBERMANN:  John Bolton for president?  Before you roll your eyes, think of the Republican debates.


BOLTON:  If Israel‘s going to do anything against Bushehr, it has to move in the next eight days.

SARAH PALIN ®, FMR. ALASKA GOVERNOR:  That‘s a positive.  That‘s encouragement.  And that‘s what John McCain meant.


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


PALIN:  The Americans are craving something new.




OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

Even though a federal judge gutted the key provisions of Arizona‘s “papers, please” immigration law, new polling suggest Arizonans still overwhelmingly approving of S.B. 1070 and they still like the woman who signed it into law.

Last Tuesday, Jan Brewer, Arizona‘s unelected governor, ran away with her state‘s Republican primary.  Last night, she ran away from the media following her first debate.

In our first story: Not only was Brewer unprepared to deliver her prepared opening statement, but her evening ended when she bolted from reporters asking her about her own claims of decapitated torsos in the Arizona desert.  That‘s right.  To paraphrase the old “New York Post” headline: “Headless bodies and clueless governors.”

Last night was the first and one now expects the last debate between Jan Brewer and Democrat opponent, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, as well the libertarian and green party challengers.  Brewer is leading the Democrat by as much as 20 points in recent polling.  So, all the governor had to do last night was play keep away.  Instead, during her opening remarks, Brewer got more lost than Bobby and Cindy Brady in the Grand Canyon.


MODERATOR:  Finally, we hear from Jan Brewer.

BREWER:  Thank you, Ted.  It‘s great to be here with Larry, Barry and Terry.  And thank you all for watching us tonight.

I have—done so much.  And I just cannot believe that we have changed everything since I‘ve become your governor in the last 600 days.  Arizona has been brought back from its abyss.

We have cut the budget, we have balanced the budget, and we are moving forward.  We have done everything that we could possibly do.

We have—did what was right for Arizona.  I will tell you that I really did the very best that anyone could do.


OLBERMANN:  Since I be had come.

Unfortunately, for Brewer, that 10-second period of silence might have been her most effective use of time all night.  Her claim of a balanced budget was false.  “The Atlantic” Web site is pointing to the Arizona state legislature‘s projections, a $700 million shortfall for the next fiscal year.

Brewer‘s Democratic opponent took her to task for the budget lie.  He also went after the governor for her anti-immigrant fearmongering over the summer when Brewer was claiming the state needed S.B. 1070 to prevent beheadings in the Arizona desert.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Which beheadings were you referring to?

BREWER:  Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert, either buried or just lying out there, that have been beheaded.


OLBERMANN:  Coroners and law enforcement have no records of beheadings in Arizona.  So, last night, Brewer‘s Democratic opponent asked the governor to retract her claim because it continues to scare people and business away from the state.


TERRY GODDARD (D), ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE:  Jan, I call you upon you today to say that there are no beheadings.  That was a false statement and it needs to be cleared up right now.

BREWER:  And, you know, Terry, I will call you out.  I think that you ought to renounce your support and endorsement of the unions that are boycotting our state.


OLBERMANN:  Which is kind of symmetrical because Goddard didn‘t endorse the boycott.

The debate ended with the governor refusing to retract her claim and thereby triggering the even bizarre Brewer post-debate press conference.  She fielded question after question about headless bodies in the desert.


REPORTER:  Governor, why won‘t you recant the comment you made earlier about the beheadings in the desert?

REPORTER:  Seriously, that‘s a serious question, Governor.

BREWER:  Well, this was an interesting evening tonight.  And, of course, you saw a complete display of the difference between myself and Terry Goddard.  So, we will continue to move forward.

REPORTER:  But, Governor, seriously, the fact is if you‘re talking about—you were complaining about Terry Goddard and unions and people not coming to the state.  Maybe people aren‘t coming here because you‘re making comments about headless bodies.

BREWER:  The big thing that didn‘t happen tonight was Terry Goddard never gave us a plan.  Terry Goddard has never had a plan.  If he has, he hasn‘t shared it.

It‘s about time he steps up and brings us a plan.  Just being governor is not an easy job, Terry.  You need to get your plan out.

REPORTER:  And what about the headless bodies?

REPORTER:  Will you answer the question, Governor?  Please answer the question.

REPORTER:  About the headless bodies.  Why won‘t you recant that?  Do you still believe that?  Come on, Governor.

BREWER:  OK, thank you all.

REPORTER:  Oh, come on!


OLBERMANN:  I‘m joined now by Paul Waldman, senior correspondent with “American Prospect” magazine.

Good evening, Paul.


OLBERMANN:  Isn‘t any campaign for any office in our land in some trouble if its candidate ever is to hear this question, “What about the headless bodies?”

WALDMAN:  Well, not necessarily.  You know, that‘s not the only kind of crazy thing that she has said about this issue.  She also said most undocumented immigrants who come to America are drug mules.

But as long as people in Arizona are talking about the crazy things that Jan Brewer has said about illegal immigration, if nothing else, they‘re still talking about illegal immigration, which is the issue that she wants this election to be all about.  So, although it doesn‘t necessarily put her in the best light, that‘s one thing that does do for her.

OLBERMANN:  The governor did respond to the headless torso question.  She did the radio interview today and said the bottom line is, that there have been beheadings in the border region in Mexico.  Does that settle it politically—or politically speaking, are the headless bodies still alive?

WALDMAN:  Well, that‘s not going to satisfy the reporters and it really shouldn‘t, because she didn‘t say there were headless bodies in Mexico.  She said there were headless bodies in Arizona, the state she‘s governing.

And, you know, the politically smart thing to do when you make a mistake like that, is to say, you know what, I was mistaken.  I was wrong.  And then everybody will move on.

But when you‘re literally fleeing from reporters, it‘s just going to make them more eager to want to pin you down.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  Because now, putting the two statements together, it appears that headless bodies are illegally crossing the border from Mexico to Arizona.  So, now, it‘s more of a problem than it would have been if she said, “I screwed up.”

But the start of this, the lack of preparation—she allowed that her

extended pause during the prepared remarks that did not constitute her

finest hour.  But if you are a resident of Arizona and your governor just

freezes there for 10 seconds and can‘t talk for two minutes about her

accomplishments with a script in front of her, is there any—could this -

even in Arizona—could this hurt a campaign?


WALDMAN:  Well, Brewer was something of an accidental governor.  In Arizona, they don‘t have a lieutenant governor.  So, when Janet Napolitano became secretary of homeland security, Brewer was the secretary of state, the person in charge of elections.  And she ended up becoming governor.

So, she wasn‘t necessarily all that prepared.  But, you know, unfortunately, people don‘t always vote for the candidate who they think is the smartest or the most competent.  You know, politics tends to be much more about things like identity.  And as long as Jan Brewer can be the anti-immigrant candidate, she‘s going to be in a good position.

OLBERMANN:  She has not taken the bait.  There will not—she‘s now confirmed there will be no more debates with Terry Goddard before November.  Is it—is it plausible that this did anything seriously to her 20-point lead or did she just wrap-up the election by not saying anything further?

WALDMAN:  It may be.  You know, before she signed S.B. 1070, her approval ratings were in the 40s.  Now, they‘re in the 60s. And the latest polls that I‘ve seen show her with a double-digit lead over Goddard.  So, it‘s going to take something pretty dramatic to push him to victory.  And, you know, perhaps, as long as she can keep her mouth shut, she might be safe.

OLBERMANN:  Nuclear-fueled zombies, I‘m betting on that.  That‘s your game-changer in Arizona.

Paul Waldman, senior correspondent with the “American Prospect” magazine—thank you, Paul.

WALDMAN:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s get meta on this with Howard Fineman, “Newsweek” magazine‘s senior Washington correspondent, political columnist, MSNBC political analyst.

Good evening, Howard.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  That‘s quite a challenge, Keith.  I think I‘m up to it.

OLBERMANN:  Well, I‘m going to start with the obvious question, Howard.  What about the headless bodies?

FINEMAN:  We‘re talking about candidates.  No.

OLBERMANN:  Well, yes, in a meta sense, yes.

FINEMAN:  Well, here‘s the thing to get meta.  We have the wrong paradigm here.  You and I and maybe a lot of our viewers are thinking of candidates running for office, having debates that they care about, worrying whether they‘re answering reporters‘ questions or not in the hallway.  That‘s no longer the paradigm—at least with a lot of the Tea Party candidates, and indeed a lot of other candidates, Democrat and Republican, I‘m afraid to say.

In the age of Twitter and Facebook, in an age of FOX, in an age of independent spending campaigns, and in an age when most of the American people are highly distrustful of the media in general, I think the Tea Party candidates—and I put Jan Brewer in that category—basically try to make a virtue out of not answering any questions.  And indeed, her silence in the debate—that may be the new paradigm for how you to handle debates.  I don‘t know.  We‘re kind of knocking on the glass on the outside.

And the question for these candidates, Keith, is it‘s September 2nd.  Can they go from September 2nd to November 2nd without dealing with the press?  And that‘s what many of them are trying to do, whether it‘s Rand Paul or Jan Brewer or Sharron Angle, you name it.  Sarah Palin was the template for this.  They‘re following it.

OLBERMANN:  But how did—how did stupid get to be a badge of honor or are we kidding ourselves in suggesting that this is new?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think we‘re kidding ourselves to some extent.  I hate to keep bringing up Kentucky where I began as a reporter.  But we used to—we used to cover a congressman who went by the name “Old Pumpkin Head,” and he was not one of the sharpest knives in the drawer in the Congress.  Of course, it‘s not new.

But what‘s happening right now is Barack Obama came in with a wave of Rhodes scholars and meritocracy and we‘ve got the best and the brightest of the new generation.  And, I‘m Barack Obama, and I went to Columbia and Harvard, et cetera.

And out in the country, where people are afraid, where they‘re worried about employment, when they‘re looking for some power that be to attack, whether it‘s Wall Street or the government or the education or meritocracy, they‘re going to go after them.  And that‘s what‘s happening right now.  Barack Obama sort of gave credentials a bad name in the eyes of these people.

OLBERMANN:  But it‘s an aggressive attack on education.  Some of these people want to dismantle the Department of Education.  Several of the commentators have been—have been claiming that universities are dangerous in terms of indoctrination as terrorists are.  Just coincidence these are commentators who flunked out of universities.

Is there an actual contempt for the fancy book learning, or is this a political thing exclusively?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think it‘s a little of both.  I mean, we have periods in our history—and this is one of them—where people are lashing out in all directions and where the conservative movement is once again focusing on the universities.

This isn‘t new either.  This goes all the way back to William F.  Buckley half a century ago and God and man at Yale—the idea that the universities, the great citadels of learning, were fonts of secularism and anti-religious thinking.  There‘s a lot of that out there right now.  And it gives space for, frankly, uneducated candidates to try to get away with attacking the press rather than showing what they know.

And also, with a lot of the new candidates from the Tea Party, you know, they—a few months ago, they were complete obscurities, many of them have no backgrounds whatsoever, that didn‘t matter.  They were raw.  They were real.  They spoke the language of the Tea Party.

Now, they‘ve been dragged on to the public stage.  They don‘t want to talk to us, meaning reporters, and unlike a generation ago, when they felt some duty to speak and to answer questions, Sarah Palin and others have taken the route of saying, “We‘re not answering your questions because you‘re part of the enemy.”  And so be it.

And that‘s going to be the dynamic from now through November 2nd.

OLBERMANN:  The irony, of course, is the Tea Party right now would consume and eat William F. Buckley before midnight.

FINEMAN:  That is true.

OLBERMANN:  Howard Fineman of “Newsweek,” MSNBC political analyst and headless torso expert for the evening—thank you, Howard.

FINEMAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The new meaning for the 1850s political party named the Know Nothings began to truly form under President George W. Bush.  Not coincidentally, this month‘s news from Iraq has inspired Bushies to try to deify their man.  Well, man-god.

But the latest attempt from former adviser Mark McKinnon is so ham-handed, so intellectually bankrupt, that it requires a full answer.  And we will give that answer—next.


OLBERMANN:  The former Bush adviser‘s over-right, fulsome and journalistically dishonest encomium to President Bush, as the far right goes far afield to try and canonize the greatest Republican president of this century.

What happened to him was a hate crime.  Now, it might turn out to be a true federal crime.

We will read from the book of Frank Glenn Graham as the prophet from FOX warns us.  Yea, do not believe thy education.  Trusteth only in superstition and televangelists.

And not since William Howard Taft does a man with a mustache won the White House.  But don‘t tell him.  Please don‘t tell him.  He must run.  Just think of the Republican primary debates—him versus the half governor.



OLBERMANN:  Two hours after President Obama gave his Oval Office speech on Iraq, former Bush political adviser Mark McKinnon posted a column about it called “The Shadow Over Obama‘s Address.”

McKinnon made headlines when he refused to attack Obama during the 2008 campaign.  But in his new column, he claims that the shadow over Obama‘s address is cast by the superior presidency of George W. Bush.  Mr.  McKinnon is just the latest Bush aide to embrace the message of those billboards depicting Mr. Bush asking, “Miss me yet?”

The answer—in our fourth story tonight—is not so much no as it is “Lord no,” “Hell no,” a thousand times “no.”

Perhaps as an homage as to how the Bush White House cherry-picked intelligence to make a false case for war—Mr. McKinnon cherry-picks facts to make a false case for Bush.  He claims that Obama wonders at the fickle nature of a seemingly ungrateful nation.  The phrase links to this article, “Obama: Tea Partiers Should Thank Me for Tax Breaks.”  Tea partiers, not nation, tea partiers.

“Time,” McKinnon also writes,” “is already softening judgment on Bush‘s legacy.”  The link there to one analyst‘s opinion that the last two years, quote, “potentially could put Bush in a better light.”

“Bush‘s handling of Katrina is more popular in a Louisiana poll than Obama‘s handling of the BP spill,” McKinnon writes.  The link there goes to an article pointing out that Louisiana is a Republican state and reporting the pollsters‘ caveat that many of those who would have favored Obama were not counted in the poll.  Why?  Because they no longer live in Louisiana—and 1,600 of them no longer live at all.

“While Obama‘s approval rating has fallen 20 points since March 2009,” McKinnon also writes, “Bush‘s has climbed 10 points.”  In that same poll, McKinnon does not write, 45 percent, a minority, approve of Bush, while 52 percent, which would be a majority, approve of Obama.

“The toughest of Bush‘s critics,” McKinnon says, “including Maureen Dowd, Eugene Robinson, Joe Klein, and Peter Beinart, acknowledge an occasional pining for 43.”  All four of them praised Mr. Bush for the same thing, his lack of hatred for Muslims.  All four said Bush should be doing something he currently refuses to do, come out publicly now in defense of the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero.  All four presuming, of course, that Bush would defend it.

Yes, Klein‘s column is titled, “Missing George W.”  And if McKinnon had read the article, he would see right below that title, at the very first sentence says, quote, “Well, not really.”

“But the people spoke first,” McKinnon claims.  His evidence?  This big board reading “Miss me yet?”  Who put it up?  People, just some people, just some businesspeople, to be specific.  Is there any other kind?

But why do people supposedly miss Mr. Bush?  “Bush reduced the deficit,” McKinnon writes, “from $412 billion in 2004 to $162 billion in 2007.”  As if Bush had a three-year presidency.

He then links to a graph which blames the 2009 deficit on Obama, despite the fact that the 2009 budget was sign into law by President Bush.  Quote, “Folks long for his steadying hand.  They miss his warmth and empathy.”

Here we see his steadying hand expressing his warmth and empathy, and here as well.  We see him joking warmly and emphatically about the absence of WMD in Iraq—a lie for which under his steadying hand, 4,427 Americans have already died.

And, of course, we have seen these attributes since he left the White House.  Here he is in Haiti.  There we see him using his steadying hand, emphatically wiping off some Haitian warmth on to Bill Clinton‘s shirt.

Quoting McKinnon further, “His meaning was always clear.  We knew who he was.  His convictions were firm.”

In fact, Bush was a liar, an admitted liar.  No, not for Iraq—that, too—but also for politics.  When Bush fired Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld just after the 2006 elections, he was asked why he has said just one week before that he would not fire Rumsfeld.  Bush actually, literally volunteered that he had lied to get reporters to move on to another question and so America would not know the truth before the nation voted.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT:  You and Hunt and Kyle (ph) came in the Oval Office and you asked—Hunt asked me the question and—one week before the campaign, and basically, it was: you going to do something about Rumsfeld and the vice president?  And my answer was, you know, they‘re going to stay on.

And the reason why is I didn‘t want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of the campaign.  And so, the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer.  The truth of the matter is, as well—I mean, that‘s one reason I gave the answer—


OLBERMANN:  He lied that he would fire whoever was proved to leak Valerie Plame‘s identity.  He lied about his faith-based initiatives.  Former Bush aide David Kuo revealing in his book that Bush lied about anti-religious hiring discrimination, lied about faith-based funding, lied to conceal the office‘s political schemes.

And if Bush‘s convictions were firm, what to make of the 2004 campaign, as former Bush aide Ken Mehlman just confirmed, the White House - - the Bush White House, launched a secret strategy to put anti-gay measures on the ballot as bait, to bring evangelical voters to the polls.  This, three years after a gay man joined another passengers of United Flight 93 to give their lives saving the Bush White House.

Despite the CIA‘s warnings to Bush, McKinnon resurrects the canard that, quote, “no one knew how America‘s faith and freedom and democracy would be tested comes September 11th.  On that day, the man and the country changed forever.”  Of course, if the country changed forever, Mr. Bush‘s faith in democracy must have failed the test.

Pre-9/11 thinking used to be known as post-July 4th thinking.  And changing the country was exactly what bin Laden wanted.  “Bin Laden hated us for our freedoms,” Mr. Bush told us.

Mr. Bush set about removing our freedoms, spying on suspects without the warrants demand by faith in freedom and democracy, imprisoning suspects without the due process guaranteed by the bedrock of American faith and freedom and democracy.  Torturing suspects using techniques learned from the enemies of freedom and democracy.

McKinnon continues, quote, “George W. Bush became the president we needed in one of the worst moments in our history.  In those horrible hours following the attacks on America, we momentarily saw our fear reflected back in the president‘s eyes.  We then saw his resolve and took comfort in his strength.”

The fear we remember.  And the resolve?  He stood on the rubble, literally standing on a pier and resolved to avenge the dead.

Six months later, we no longer saw that resolve.  He truly was not that concerned about bin Laden.


BUSH:  I don‘t know where he is.  I—I repeat what I said.  I truly am not that concerned about him.


OLBERMANN:  Four years later, his resolve led him to endorse Pakistan‘s official truce with the Taliban which created in the Pakistani region of Waziristan a Taliban and al Qaeda safe haven—the very thing he was asking American soldiers to die to prevent.  This even after ABC News reported Pakistan had resolved to let bin Laden remain free.

Quoting again, “The rest of us return to our lives”—not counting the families of the million-plus who went to war, “much as they had before 9/11.  Bush never did.”  Never.


BUSH:  I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers.  Thank you.  Now watch this drive.


OLBERMANN:  Quoting again, “He vowed to do everything in his power to keep us safe and he did.”  Starting then.  But not counting Americans who died in consequent terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and never mind that his vow to do everything in his power violated his vow not to exceed constitutional limit on his power.

More from Mr. McKinnon, quote, “He continued to promote human liberty, human rights and human dignity in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The shadow cast by Mr. Bush‘s long indeed.  But until Republicans, like Mr. McKinnon, start putting Mr. Bush not on billboards but in campaign ads, we must conclude that: however much, some Americans miss Mr. Bush, the true shadow cast by his presidency is what and who we miss because of Bush -- what and who we could have been.


OLBERMANN:  The Department of Justice opens investigations on the cabby attack and the arson at the Murfreesboro Mosque.  First, the sanity break and two Tweets of the day.  They‘re in sequence; from Forest Knight, St. Louis new media dude.  “Cards 0-5, Pujols slumping since Beck event.”  Then from Elizabeth Canon (ph), JazzCathro, “hey there, LaRussa and Pujols.  Must have been the motivational speech there from Beck.”  Really, zero and five?  I didn‘t know.  I don‘t really follow the baseball.  Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin in Baku, Azerbaijan, where another shot has been fired in the world‘s tallest objects fight.  This time it‘s the world‘s tallest unsupported flag pole.  What, unsupported?  Run away. 

Oh, unsupported meaning it‘s not on top of a building.  Anyway, the pole stands 531 feet high and it‘s over ten feet wide as its base.  President Ilham Aliyev spoke at the ceremony and later helped to raise a 26,000-square foot flag.  He has one. 

When it was first built, the president was not sure people would support the venture, but he decided to just run it up the flag pole and see who saluted. 

London, England, hello.  This is the Cake Britain Exhibit.  It‘s being billed as the first edible art exhibit.  After looking at cakes shaped like other food, visitors are allowed to take out their forks and appreciate the art.  Mmm, masterpiece. 

All the proceeds from Cake Britain will go to a children‘s hospice charity.  All participants, though, will first answer the question, cake or death? 

Finally to Weihai (ph), China, and it looks like Bambi is off the wagon.  This real life Suds McDuff drinks two bottles of beer a day.  Sometimes does wine but finds it gives him a splitting headache.  So far, the deer seems to be healthy, with no ill effects of alcohol.  As September approaches, he needs to back off the booze.  He is an alternate for Santa‘s sleigh.  And they, of course, already have a red-nosed deer. 

It‘s offensive to build an Islamic cultural center vaguely near a corner of the World Trade Center site.  But it‘s not offensive to torch a mosque or stab a Muslim cabby or protest against Islam on 9/11.  Next.


OLBERMANN:  There have already been charges filed against a man who attacked a Muslim cab driver in New York City.  And federal authorities had been investigating a suspicious fire at a Tennessee Muslim center construction site.  But now, in our third story, the Department of Justice is investigating both incidents too, possibly as hate crimes.  Meantime, the actual insensitivity of protesting the Park51 Islamic Community Center on the ninth anniversary of 9/11 is gaining attention from the families of 9/11 victims. 

First, the Department of Justice has opened investigations into the taxi driver attack and the Tennessee driver.  Spokeswoman telling “Talking Points Memo,” quote, “the Department is investigating these matters with local authorities.” 

And the former acting director of the department‘s Civil Rights Division told TPM, quote, “I think it‘s pretty clear that there‘s a hate crime investigation underway,” referring specifically to the incident in Murfreesboro.  At the expansion of an existing Islamic center there, four pieces of heavy construction equipment were set ablaze on Sunday with the help of an accelerant, according to local authorities. 

As for the attack on the Muslim cab driver in New York, the alleged assailant has already been charged with a hate crime under New York State law.  But that would not preclude an additional indictment under federal law. 

At the site of the proposed Park51 Islamic Community City, a planned protest against it, scheduled for 9/11, is being criticized for its insensitivity.  To be clear, there is no issue about the rights of anyone to protest, but actual insensitivity as well as hypocrisy are at issue.  a coalition of 9/11 groups and others have written an open letter which reads in part, “we stand together in expressing our opposition to staging a high profile public protest rally specifically on September 11th when so many families and others‘ priorities will properly be focused on prayer, remembrance and private reflection throughout the day and evening.  To hold any type of protest rally on September 11th would be inappropriate and disrespectful to all those who see 9/11 as a day outside of politics.”

The later also states that the signatures are not thereby expressing support for the location of the Park51 Community Center itself.  Let‘s turn to the co-author of that letter, David Paine, president and founder of 9/, a nonprofit created to turn September 11th into a national day of service.  David‘s co-founder, Jay Winick, lost his younger brother, Glenn, a volunteer firefighter, in the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers. 

Thank you for your time tonight, sir. 

DAVID PAINE, 9/11DAYOFSERVICE.ORG:  Thanks for having me here.

OLBERMANN:  We quoted part of that letter.  But if you would start by expressing the intent of it yourself, I think that would be best. 

PAINE:  Well, 9/11 has always been a sacred day.  Our organization, My Good Deed, worked for the last eight and a half years with the entire 9/11 community to establish September 11th as a national day of service and remembrance, really so that the 9/11 community would have a day of peaceful reflection and remembrance. 

We just don‘t feel that it‘s appropriate to have street protests and rallies on that day, when so many families are really struggling with just the issue of the loss of their loved ones. 

OLBERMANN:  Two quick points to add to this.  You don‘t dispute anybody‘s right to protest; and your objection is not about what this protest is about, just the fact of a protest about something on that day, correct? 

PAINE:  Yeah.  It‘s really about the timing of the rallies.  You know, we‘ve written to both individuals and organizations that are for the mosque as well as against it.  We‘ve said, look, you know, 9/11 is a day that needs to be reserved for the 9/11 community.  Do it on another day.  Yeah, we don‘t have any problem with people expressing their point of view.  Certainly, we don‘t begrudge 9/11 family members themselves that may feel that it‘s important for them to be there. 

OLBERMANN:  Have you gotten any response from the organizers of the protest scheduled for this 9/11 against the Park51 project? 

PAINE:  Yeah, we have.  You know, we talked to the organizers that are running the rally in opposition to the mosque.  They‘ve initially rejected our request.  We sent them a second letter today asking them to reconsider. 

We also talked to the organization that is considering running a rally to protest bigotry and hate.  We‘ve asked them to do the same thing.  Maybe stand down for that one day.  We really do need that. 

OLBERMANN:  The nature of what‘s going to wind up at the Ground Zero site when this is finally concluded has been an issue since that day, since September 11th, 2001.  Obviously there‘s going to be commerce.  It‘s not just going to be remembrance.  It is the middle of a city.  Originally the thought at Gettysburg was just leave it alone and leave it for prayer and remembrance.  And then they needed the tourism there, to be blunt about Gettysburg. 

But is this—the point of your letter, can it be boiled down to something a lot simpler than all that debate, just to please give some room and some peace to grieving family members and people who lost friends—let‘s not exclude them—so that they know they will have that one day each year to be with themselves and their memories? 

PAINE:  I think that‘s exactly—you said it very, very well.  We all get caught up in these very important and serious topics that do result in a lot of controversy.  But for the average 9/11 family member, this is a widow that may be waking up every 9/11 and once again is dealing with the fact that her husband didn‘t come home nine years ago.  She‘s having to deal with the issues of helping her family and children through that.  It is a very difficult thing. 

I have to tell you, I‘ve been working with the 9/11 community for nine years.  These people are heroes.  They are absolute heroes.  They‘ve gone through hell.  They need a day where they can have peaceful reflection and remembrance; and we all owe that to them. 

My goodness.  We fight every day of the year.  Why can‘t we just have one day where we can set aside our differences?  You remember back in 2008, our organization called on both presidential candidates at the time, Senators McCain and then Senator Obama, to pull their campaign ads for the date and they did it.  I think that‘s what we‘re looking for. 

OLBERMANN:  Particularly this year.  On top of everything else, it‘s a Saturday.  David Paine of 9/, great thanks and good luck with this project. 

PAINE:  Thank you very much.  Appreciate it.

OLBERMANN:  John Bolton running for president.  Can you imagine the GOP debates, the animal magnetism of the talking mustache versus the winky-blinky? 

Attention sinners, another night with Rod Parse Beck, as the televangelist now attacks learning stuff. 

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, why Republicans in Colorado are trying to push the Tea Party candidate for governor out just because he seems to have embellished his record as a Kansas police officer.  


OLBERMANN:  A state Republican party puts out a press release based on a rumor they think they heard on talk radio.  Worsts next. 

First, since the a man who made a joke about my dead mother has now revealed himself to be not a commentator but a prophet, not a shock jock but a televangelist, we welcome you to another edition of Saint Beck as in Wreck. 

Glenn-Fucious, Beck Van Impy, Cardinal Beck-alou, call him what you will.  From time to time, we‘ll point out his more egregious mistakes of fact and of faith.  OK, Pope Beck-adict.  So you‘re going after education now? 


GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Our children are being submerged in the filth of communism, submerged in the filth of lies. 

America, I tell you these stories not to get you angry.  I tell you to steel your determination.  You must steel yourself.  You must know what is true and then rely on divine providence.  How very Kim Jong-il of you.  Or dare I say it, Mao is the in one now, isn‘t he?  Re-education. 

America, while you have been working hard, while you have been busting your butt, while you have thought that we all generally agree on things, we have been setting up re-education camps.  We call them universities. 


OLBERMANN:  This is, of course, the theme of the evangelist dating back to the caves.  It was highlighted at the Scopes Monkey Trial by William Glennings, Beck‘s ancestor, William Jennings Bryan.  Education and science, bad.  Guessing and superstition, good. 

But in the case of Beck of Arc, it seems a little more personal.  In short, Beck-strodamus, this is a long way to go to rationalize washing out of an adult education theology class at Yale.  Dalai-drama.


OLBERMANN:  John Bolton for president.  A primary debate between John “I‘m Smart” Bolton and Sarah “I Can Wink” Palin?  That‘s next, but first get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 

The bronze to Jonathan D. Popple, Barbaru (ph), Wisconsin.  Police there say he shot a hole in the floor of his home, sending a bullet into the basement where his brother was.  Nobody injured.  Mr. Popple explained had fired because he had seen a space alien.  This was 2:30 in the afternoon.  Mr. Popple admitted he‘d been smoking marijuana since he got up that morning. 

The runner-up, Andrew Wellhouse, spokesman for the Wisconsin state Republican party.  Is there an oxygen shortage warning in Wisconsin this week?  Mr. Wellhouse issued a press release yesterday claiming that the Democratic candidate for governor had held a, quote, “super secret fund raiser with Nancy Pelosi but didn‘t want to admit it.”  “Since cameras weren‘t allowed at the event,” the thing under this picture said, “the Republican party of Wisconsin has provided an artist‘s rendition of the event.” 

Within an hour, the Republicans had to withdraw the press release because there was no fund-raiser.  Mr. Wellhouse, who is apparently actually paid money to be a spokesperson for the Wisconsin state GOP, then revealed his source for his story.  He had heard about it on a Milwaukee talk radio station, which had in turn heard about it via an anonymous e-mail posted on one of its blogs. 

Next time, Mr. Wellhouse, make up an explanation that‘s less embarrassing.  Just say it was 2:30 in the afternoon and you thought you saw a fund-raiser, but you had been smoking marijuana since you got up that morning. 

But our winner, Howard Kaloogian, chairman of Our Country Deserves Better PAC.  This is the group that heads Tea Party Express.  One of its principles, opposition to bailouts.  One of the companies it called out for taking a bailout was Bank of America.  “The place,” reports Think Progress, “where it keeps all its money?  The Corona California branch of Bank of America.” 

Nice.  Howard Kaloogian, chairman of Our Country Deserves Better PAC -

that‘s a brand name—today‘s worst person in the world.



OLBERMANN:  Imagine for a moment a presidential debate in the not so distant future.  Republican candidates all vying for the party‘s nomination.  First 45 minutes spent just on the introductions trying to top how the last one praised Ronald Reagan.  Then opening remarks ranging in scope from we‘re not going to eliminate violent conflict until homo sapiens ceases to exist as a separate species to can I call you John? 

Our number one story in the COUNTDOWN, the

Pawlenty/Romney/Bolton/Palin debate, the GOP‘s field of dreamers.  First up, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, perhaps in an effort to distance himself from potential 2012 rival Mitt “I love health care” Romney—Mr.  Pawlenty now ordering state agencies to declare, quote, discretionary involvement”—decline that, rather, with the federal health care reform law, despite an appeal from the bastion of liberal virtue, the Chamber of Commerce. 

“Minneapolis Star Tribune” reporting that the group asked Mr. Pawlenty to apply for a million dollar health planning grant that could potentially benefit consumers.  Small wonder then that recent polling showing the majority of Minnesotans wouldn‘t vote for Pawlenty for president, instead preferring Mitt “I love health care reform” Romney. 

T-Paw shrugging off his constituents‘ concern over his frequent out of state travel for the greater good. 


GOV. TIM PAWLENTY ®, MINNESOTA:  I don‘t expect people would like the fact that I‘m trying to get out of the country and influence the elections in 2010, but I think it‘s important work. 


OLBERMANN:  What a guy.  Pawlenty has made five trips to Iowa since last November.  Which leads us to the half governor.  She‘ll be headlining the Iowa GOP Reagan Day Dinner, an opportunity she sought after blowing it off last year.  Event planners inviting Ms. Palin to speak after she quit as governor.  But as the “Des Moines Register” reports, “Palin never responded despite periodic reminders.” 

Then there is the proverbial dark horse.  Not the mustache.  Former unconfirmed U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.  If you‘re wondering where a Bolton administration would be on foreign policy, he has previously advocated bombing Iran, invading Somalia and nuking Chicago.  The last one Mr. Bolton proposed in jest, we think. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you running for president in 2012? 

JOHN BOLTON, FMR. U.N. AMBASSADOR:  It‘s a great honor when people ask me that question, and I have been asked that question.  I don‘t think anybody involved in politics should worry about that until after the elections this fall because I think they‘re so important. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You‘re not saying no? 

BOLTON:  I‘m not saying no, that‘s right. 


OLBERMANN:  Time to call in the founding editor of “Huffington Post,” Roy Sekoff.  Thanks for your time tonight, sir. 


OLBERMANN:  Candidate John Bolton.  I thought the conventional wisdom has been that Americans like their presidents free of facial hair and Middle East nuking and stuff. 

SEKOFF:  Since William Howard Taft, hairless has been considered presidential.  But as you point out with Bolton, the problem isn‘t the mustache.  It‘s the psychotic positions.  Forget bombing the Middle East.  He wanted to nuke the U.N. 

Don‘t forget,  Bush had to use a recess appointment to get him in.  So he‘s not exactly electable. 

OLBERMANN:  But this joyous idea to contemplate of a debate, Bolton might be—let‘s use crazy.  But he could probably draw a city by city map of the Middle East, you know, free hand.  “Vanity Fair” just revealed Mrs.  Palin did not know who Margaret Thatcher is.  This is the kind of debate I‘d pay to go see. 

SEKOFF:  Yes, I actually thought it would be impossible to top the 2008 group in terms of freak show-ishness, when we had Sam Brownback running against Darwin and Tom Tancredo running on the xenophobia ticket.  But this group, they have so many loose cannons.  It almost is enough to make one pine for Duncan Hunter. 

OLBERMANN:  The story of Governor Pawlenty, he‘s trying to go on the anti-health care reform kick.  Is that going to keep him in this sort of upper echelon of the Republican possibilities? 

SEKOFF:  I don‘t see it.  When you‘re running to the right of the Chamber of Commerce, it‘s not exactly putting you in the wheelhouse of electability there.  Plus, aren‘t 90 percent of Republicans against health care reform?  It doesn‘t exactly separate him from the pack. 

OLBERMANN:  Interesting thing about Palin and the Reagan Day Dinner, Roy, no headliner from it has gone on to be president, nor even the presidential nominee for that matter.  Other than presumably the check, what‘s in it for her?  Do we know? 

SEKOFF:  I don‘t think we can use historical precedent when it comes to Palin.  Don‘t forget, no presidential candidate has ever had their own reality show with Kate Gosselin guesting, or has a daughter who is an unwed mother and a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars.”  I think we‘re in uncharted waters here, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  The polling that puts Mitt Romney ahead of the pack right now; if you‘re him, what do you do?  Do you let the others slug it out?  Do you figure out how to erase all memories of what you did for health care reform in Massachusetts and just come up with some way that you were for it before you were against it? 

SEKOFF:  Absolutely.  If you have Bolton and Palin going at it, it is going to make him look like the second coming of Winston Churchill.  As you say, his only problem is how does he run against himself?  That‘s his biggest competition. 

OLBERMANN:  Then we‘ve heard Newt Gingrich.  I don‘t think he wants to be president.  He may want to be king.  Where does he fit in all this?  Is he just hoping somehow he‘ll come out looking good by comparison to the rest of these loads? 

SEKOFF:  He‘ll absolutely raise the IQ of the group by a number of points.  But he‘ll lower the moral compass rating a lot.  He‘s a man with big ideas and loathsome personal behavior.  Plus, I think he‘s actually, don‘t you think, coming unhinged a little early, comparing the Muslims to Nazis.  A little early in the game for that. 

OLBERMANN:  Not his game.  The man we discussed before who is going for deification under the Mark McKinnon program, the former President Bush, is he going to come out and support somebody, or he‘s just not interested in this whole thing anymore?  Correct? 

SEKOFF:  One word, Jeb.  He‘s made it clear that he doesn‘t want to get involved anymore, right?  Here‘s a guy who said that Muslims and Islam was a religion of peace.  But now in the whole mosque controversy, where is he?  He‘s empty.  I don‘t think he is going to get involved unless brother Jeb‘s in the race. 

OLBERMANN:  Roy Sekoff of the “Huffington Post,” a pleasure.  Thanks for your time. 

SEKOFF:  My pleasure, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s September 2nd.  It‘s the 2,681st day since President Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq, 2,270th day since he declared victory in Afghanistan, and the 136th day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf. 

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

And now to discuss why making up a U.N. conspiracy about bicycles is not a bad thing for the Republican candidate in Colorado, but making up what you did as a police officer in the town of Liberal, Kansas is, in Kansas; ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.  Good evening, Rachel.



Copyright 2010 Roll Call, Inc.  All materials herein are protected by

United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,

transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written

permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,

copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>