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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Howard Fineman, Chris Hayes, Michael Moore, Rep. Anthony Weiner





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

Cave-in—the word, official now from the Senate, no vote on Bush tax cuts for the rich.  No vote on Obama tax cuts for the middle class.  They are afraid of the topic.  They are afraid of the fight.  And the Democrats in the House are afraid to go first.

Congressman Larson of Connecticut:


REP. JOHN LARSON (D), CONNECTICUT:  The anxiety comes from what our erstwhile colleagues across the building will do in the United States Senate.


OLBERMANN:  My guest: Michael Moore—on what should have been a day of Democratic triumph.  And on the small lie—more on our report on tax breaks and small business: “‘Small‘ in Name Only.”

And on the Republicans‘ remarkably flimsy plan, “The Pledge to America”—a lemon of a pledge.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER:  We are not going to be any different than what we did.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MINORITY WHIP:  We could provide them some certainty and relief to know that taxes wouldn‘t go up if we would just extend the Bush—extend the current tax rates now.


OLBERMANN:  Nice slip, Sparky.

Howard Fineman on the Democratic Caucus machinations; Chris Hayes on giving the de-energized base an anvil.

Goldline and the gold finger—


GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST:  Here‘s the deal: call Goldline, study it out, pray on it.  If it‘s the right thing for you, then do it.


OLBERMANN:  You better pray.  At the Goldline congressional hearing—


REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  Once people have been convinced by their fear and the lies to purchase these products, they are profoundly ripped off.


OLBERMANN:  Our guest, Congressman Anthony Weiner.

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.


BECK:  The people that I trust are the people at the Goldline.




OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

On this program last night, we revealed a list.  And that list is still growing of massive, global, well-known multibillion dollar companies whose owners benefit from so-called “small business” tax cuts Republicans want to extend for the richest 2 percent of Americans.

President Obama wanted congressional Democrats to take a stand prior to Election Day so that, even if, or especially if, Republicans filibustered in the Senate, America would see congressional Democrats fighting to extend just the middle tax cuts that benefit everybody but the rich.

And it‘s also to see Republicans holding those tax cuts hostage to extort the extension of those small business in “name” only tax cuts.

This would also prevent Republicans around the country from campaigning on the slogan that Democrats are letting taxes go up next year.

It was a move widely seen as the Democrats last real chance because poll after poll has shown voters, even in battleground states, would back the Democrats.

And so, in our fifth story tonight: none of that will happen.  The spokesperson for Senate Leader Harry Reid telling “The Associated Press” the vote will wait until after Election Day.

Congressional Democrats appearing to have decided they would rather return to their districts to campaign on the premise that voters already where they stand on taxes.  A position it seems somewhat tenuous given how today‘s House Democratic victory on the massive jobs bill is being virtually ignored by the news media.

President Obama today blamed the delay on the tax cut vote on Republicans.  A spokesperson telling “The Plum Line” blog, quote, “Republicans in Congress have made it clear they would rather stall and obstruct instead of giving working families the assistance they need.  The American people will be reminded of that every day.”

Of course, it would be easier to remind the American people of that everyday if everyday they actually saw Republicans stalling and obstructing.

Senate Republicans have not filibustered Mr. Obama‘s extension of middle tax cuts because Leader Reid never brought it up for a vote.

Senator Dianne Feinstein is telling “The Hill” newspaper, quote, “It should not be done before an election, it should be done after.”  How come?  Because voting for tax cuts that don‘t extend beyond the first quarter million in income would be, quote, “subject to manipulation.”  As if not voting for tax cuts that would include all income for all Americans below a quarter of a million is somehow immune to Republican manipulation.  As if anything was.

And what about the House?  “The Hill” reports that Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to vote before Election Day, even if the Senate will not.  But Majority Leader Steny Hoyer does not want House members to vote if the Senate will not follow suit.

This afternoon, the House Democratic whip, Jim Clyburn, and Caucus chairman, John Larson, offered somewhat conflicting explanations for the Democratic reluctance to make this an issue now.  Mr. Clyburn is suggesting some voters, or possibly some members, don‘t even understand the tax cuts.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC), MAJORITY WHIP:  If you make $251,000 you get the same tax cut for the first $250,000 that everybody else who gets $250,000 or less.  The only thing you pay the increase on is that $1,000, not the $251,000.  And I think that one of the reasons there‘s been some recalcitrance out there is that people have not made that clear.  So, I want to make it clear today, that we‘re proposing a tax cut on the first $250,000 of all Americans‘ income and we were applying the Bush numbers—apply to all income over that.

LARSON:  There is unanimity in the caucus around what Jim Clyburn has just said.  The anxiety comes from what our erstwhile colleagues across the building will do in the United States Senate.  And that‘s where the discussions still emanate from.


OLBERMANN:  MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, now at “Newsweek,” soon to be at “Huffington Post,” has been tracking this story on the Hill today and trying to get a correct definition of the term “erstwhile” for Congressman Larson.  But we‘ll skip that for the moment.

Howard, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  All right.  Why did Harry Reid duck this fight with Republicans and does that mean it‘s dead in the House as well?

FINEMAN:  I think it‘s dead.  As we were saying on Tuesday night, it looks like they were going to flinch.  And the reason is that they haven‘t developed the issue.

For Congressman Clyburn to be out there trying to explain at this really late date that fundamental question, that fundamental, factual issue, just shows you how poorly the Democrats have tried to explain this because they‘ve been afraid of it.  They‘re afraid to talk taxes in toto, which is what they need to do.  They need to explain that yes, as Clyburn says, it‘s incremental income.

They need to explain that however men are heroic, small business there are in the country, a lot of the benefits of the top rate reduction go to very, very wealthy people and to big corporations, as you‘ve been reporting on the show.  They haven‘t done it.  And because they haven‘t done it, they‘re afraid to take up the issue at all.

OLBERMANN:  But it‘s 12 words.  It‘s Bush tax cuts for the rich, Obama tax cuts for the little people.  Isn‘t it?

FINEMAN:  That‘s a hell of a good slogan.  I don‘t why I haven‘t heard it out of the White House.

It‘s just—it‘s a reluctance to play offense.  It‘s a reluctance to get involved in the tax issue because a lot of moderate Democrats, a lot of Blue Dogs in the House, a lot of candidates in red states, both in the House and the Senate, are afraid to talk taxes because they don‘t want to talk spending either.  That‘s one reason.

The other reason is, I think the Republicans are going to try to find, in district after district, some local small businessman who will go out and say, I‘m being hurt by this.  But what the Democrats need to do is find an average person in that district who will be hurt by the fact that his tax cut is not going to be maintained.

OLBERMANN:  What do they say when the polling numbers, this Stan Greenberg poll that was given to congressional Democrats a week or two ago, that the issue was a winner for them?  And the SEIU union poll in the battleground states and found, you know, 62 percent, 63 percent support for preventing Republicans from extending those tax cuts above a quarter of a million.  How do the Democrats answer?  They suddenly don‘t believe in polls?

FINEMAN:  Well, they don‘t have one answer.  I mean, I was talking to Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who‘s a moderate Democrat.  You know, no flame thrower by any means, that he‘s got in his state Joe Sestak running for the Senate.  The Democrat Sestak, very much wants a vote on this because in Pennsylvania, to take one example, it‘s a clear winner.  So, Casey was telling me he would really prefer to have a vote and he‘s a so-called moderate Democrat.

But there aren‘t enough people in enough places willing to do that in enough states.  And Harry Reid has got his own personal problems back in Nevada.  He‘s under siege.  I mean, he‘s thought of as a great inside maneuvering guy.  But right now, he‘s running for re-election.  And he doesn‘t want to have to defend right now any tax vote.

And, David Axelrod, the political spin master inside the White House, is now telling everybody, “You know, don‘t worry.  We‘ll have the issue because we can talk about what we‘re going to do after the election and what the Republicans want to do after the election.”

As you point out, if you‘re going to do something after the election that you can do now, why should anybody believe that you‘re going to do it later?

OLBERMANN:  And it‘s more than that.  I mean, I took one government class that was a laboratory in college.  And we knew political theater was three quarters of the game.  Take credit for it, blame somebody for it, or announce you‘re going to attend the dedication.

And Senator Harkin said to you that Republicans won‘t let us do it?

FINEMAN:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  What about the political fallout that would be there if Republicans were on TV not letting Democrats pass tax cuts for the middle class?

FINEMAN:  No.  I was in the hall talking to Harkin about that.  And, again—now, Harkin is a liberal Democrat who normally would be gung-ho to do this.  But I was astonished by what he said that the Republicans won‘t let us do it.

The Democrats are in charge of the Senate.  If Harry Reid wanted to bring up the bill that would allow tax cuts to be kept for everybody under $250,000 and raise it on that incremental amount, Harry Reid could bring it up.  The Republicans would filibuster it.  And there would be a vote.  That could happen if they wanted to do it.

But there aren‘t enough Democrats in the caucus of Democrats in the Senate who are willing to do it.  And there‘s nothing more I can say, is that they are afraid to do it and they‘re afraid of the ads the Republicans are going to run against them.

OLBERMANN:  MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman, also of “Newsweek,” soon of “The Huffington Post”—as always, thanks for your time, Howard.

FINEMAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s turn now to MSNBC contributor, Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine.

Chris, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  When you were on here last night talking about the political angle of the small business in name only tax cuts and we wanted you to come back now that the Democrats have decided not to make a fight of it—why do Democrats expect voters to fight for them when they won‘t fight for the voters?  And why hand their supporter—that‘s a Freudian slip—why hand their supporters this anvil and say, here, hold this until after the election?

HAYES:  Yes.  I mean, I think it‘s an idiotic calculation.  I mean, we

should say that we should be specific about this.  And I‘m sure that both -

it looked like the House leadership - Clyburn, certainly Nancy Pelosi, and a lot of Democrats, did want to do this.  I think the White House wanted to vote on this.


So, I think this is—this is a sort of subset of the Democrats, the

sort of usual suspects of Blue Dogs who didn‘t want to do this.  So, we

should be specific about exactly who is essentially holding out against

this.  I mean, think what happened is in that caucus meeting, you had a

critical mass of people who are in seats where they‘re imperiled say, look,

and this was something that someone said to me, an aide to a Democrat who has got a very stiff challenger, he said, we just want to get out of here without taking any more votes.


And, you know, it reminded me of the exact inverse in 2002 --


HAYES:  -- in the run-up to the Iraq war, right?  The Republicans pressed their advantage and scheduled the authorization for the use of military force before the election.  And I remember Democrats making the opposite argument then, which is that we have to take it off the table.  We have to take the war off the table.

And the point is that you put things on the table to get elected.  That‘s what—that‘s the way politics works.  You give people things you are standing for.  And I think this kind of like defensive crouch just—it‘s really mindboggling.

OLBERMANN:  We just want to get out of here without taking any more votes.  Well, if that‘s your attitude, they will get out of there without taking any more votes—

HAYES:  Ever.

OLBERMANN:  -- ever in their lives.

HAYES:  Yes.  Right, exactly.

OLBERMANN:  Boehner said last month, I mean, when pressed, he would probably, even say it in these words, but he was essentially saying, if pressed, he would cave and vote just for a big hunk of tax cuts for everybody else.  If that was his only option.

Last night, when we did the report on the small business owners that the Republicans claim are left out of the Obama tax cuts, that they include multibillionaires, some of who were funding Republican push for the very same tax cuts—shouldn‘t even the most conservative Democrat, the biggest Blue Dog, love to have this ammunition?  It‘s not just a question of—well, they‘re a little tentative.  They‘re throwing away some of the best material they‘ve been handed in 40 years.

HAYES:  Right.  I mean, in politics, right, you‘re looking for this Venn diagram, which is things that are good policy, things that you believe in, right, and things that are popular.  And, well, you know, lot of things don‘t fall in that middle intersection.

I mean, there‘s—you know, we should raise energy.  We should raise the price of energy a tremendous amount so we forestall global warming.


HAYES:  That‘s not popular.  I understand not wanting to take a vote on that, all right?

But this is something that is popular.  So, what‘s perverse about this logic is they‘ve already taken a number of, you know, unpopular votes.  Every one of these incumbents voted for a health care bill that—let‘s be honest—is not popular right now.  So, if you go back with the record you have now, why would you not want to take a vote that will be popular as the last thing you do, the last thing that registers in voters‘ minds and the only explanation which is what Howard was saying and what I‘ve heard as well is they‘re scared of the 30-second ads.


HAYES:  That no matter what the actual substance of it is, you know, you‘re amazing 12 minutes, which I thought was fantastic, you know, voters in, you know, some district, some marginal district, aren‘t going to see the 12 minutes about what small businesses actually are.  What they‘re going to see a 30-second ad saying so-and-so voted to raise taxes.

OLBERMANN:  Do a 30-second ad of what those small businesses are.  I mean, the list, you can do it in 30 seconds.  You use the 12 words I said before.

HAYES:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  Bush tax cuts for the rich.  Obama tax cuts for the people.  It isn‘t as complicated as they‘re making it out to be.  And when Senator Feinstein says that the vote on the failed—the vote that failed to extend the tax cuts for income over a quarter of a million, that would be subject to manipulation by Republicans, literally, minutes later, Greg Sargent at “The Plum Line” had this quote from the GOP.

HAYES:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  “By refusing to address this issue, vulnerable House Democrats can now add the Obama tax hike on small businesses to the long litany of job-killing policies they will be forced to defend between now and Election Day.”

Paul Lindsay, the guy who said that, he‘s right, isn‘t he?

HAYES:  Right.  Well, it‘s the most predictable thing in the world.  And that‘s what everyone has been saying.  And even people who are not sort of given to hysterics.  I mean, Josh Marshall of “Talking Points Memo” has basically been tearing his hair out on screen over the political sort of malfeasance of this whole thing.  But, absolutely, they‘re going to manipulate it either way.

Plus, you already have the record you have, right?  I mean, you‘ve already got high unemployment.  You‘ve already voted for bills that are likely not very popular in your district.  That‘s not going away.

So, why—why do you want—


HAYES:  -- to pull back now, right?  And go say, well, those—remember the health care bill that you don‘t really like very much that everyone‘s talking about that‘s unpopular, let‘s just talk about that.  Let‘s not the talk about me fighting for tax relief for middle class Americans while they try to give tax breaks to the hedge fund people that got us into that mess.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  The assumption here is that the Republicans will now run no tax ads between now and November.

HAYES:  Right.  And, of course, they will.  (INAUDIBLE)

OLBERMANN:  Chris Hayes of “The Nation”—always a pleasure, Chris. 

Thank you.

HAYES:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The Republican say to the Democrats, “We‘ll see your cowardice and raise you some stupidity.”  The GOP pledge today to the people of the United States—yes, we ran the country into the ground from 2001 into 2009.  And to quote John of Orange, “We‘re not going to be any different than we‘ve been.”  Michael Moore—ahead on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Michael Moore on the small lie, the dishonesty of the term small business, the timidity of the Democrats avoiding tax cut votes, avoiding tax cut fights, and also, this is the day health care reform started.

The Republicans pledge to America, another bolt of truth telling as he admits Republicans are not going to be different than we‘ve been.

Two years ago, her campaign slammed somebody for calling him Barack Hussein Obama.  Guess what she just called him?

And his Goldline scam.  Congressional hearings today—the man behind them, Representative Anthony Weiner joins us.

All ahead on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  It has been 16 years since the “Contract with America” was mythically and incorrectly credited with a Republican takeover of the House.  Today, the current GOP leadership has unveiled its contract on America, although they‘re calling it “Pledge to America.”

Or in our fourth story: to simplify as Republicans are wont to, lemon pledge.

At the back of a lumber company in Sterling, Virginia, House Minority Leader Boehner trumpeted the GOP‘s new governing agenda.  At 21 pages, the blueprint is much longer than the 1994‘s Contract with America and manages to say even less.

Mr. Boehner, in answering a question about the GOP stand on traditional values, might as well have summarized the entire document with this: the GOP‘s unintentionally true sound bite of the day.


BOEHNER:  On the point we make in this—in this preamble to our pledge is that we are not going to be any different than what we‘ve been.


OLBERMANN:  A bunch of white guys.

Indeed, the rally outside that lumber factory might not bode well for Republicans.  All two dozen or so participants kind of chanting, (INAUDIBLE).

But back to the pledge, its pages already yellowing with indecision.  The document restates the long-standing GOP stands on low taxes and so-called smaller government.  At the same time, it at least pretends to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  And there is no detailed plan to reduce the deficit.

But the revolutionary part of the shiny new contract—sorry—pledge is that it drew from the GOP‘s listening post, the Web site America Speaking Out, which I think was the name of this network before we chose MSNBC—where real Americans got to vote on their favorite stuff.


BOEHNER:  It‘s about listening to the American people.  And as we listen to the American people, these are the things they told us.


OLBERMANN:  Oddly, America‘s second-most favorite thing was not included in the pledge.  Yesterday, “Think Progress” asked Republican Congressman Kevin Brady of the House Ways and Means Committee.


REPORTER:  The second-highest idea voted up by popular vote was to end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.  Do you expect something like that to be included with new contract that‘s unveiled tomorrow?

REP. KEVIN BRADY (R-TX), HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS CMTE.:  You know, I haven‘t—what—can you tell me what that tax provision is?


OLBERMANN:  Under further questioning, the congressman indicated that the highly popular idea would not be in the pledge.  And indeed, it is not in the pledge.


BOEHNER:  We are not going to be request different than what we‘ve been.


OLBERMANN:  Then there is the GOP‘s health care mantra of repeal and replace.  In the pledge, House Republicans propose keeping at least seven of the most popular provisions of the Democrats‘ health care reform package, like a ban on denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.  Eat your heart out, Mike Huckabee.

But the pledge would rid Americans of the really pesky provisions of health care reform, like the means to pay for it.  Congressman Bill Cassidy said it best.


REP. BILL CASSIDY ®, LOUISIANA:  You replace—keeping the good stuff.  But on the other hand, putting it in a matrix or a structure, if you will, which it makes it more sustainable.


OLBERMANN:  The matrix—you take the blue pill, the story ends.  You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.  You take a red pill, you stay in wonderland and I show how deep the rabbit hole in Congress goes.

And, by the way, even if the Republicans are willing to run on what they called the good stuff of health care reform, when will congressional Democrats planning start doing that?

Meantime, it turns out that one of the authors of the pledge was a lobbyist up until April of this year.  According to “The Huffington Post‘s” Sam Stein, Brian Wild was an aide to Minority Leader Boehner, but Wild‘s old lobbying firm represented corporate heavyweights like AIG and ExxonMobil.

And we‘ll leave the last words to Minority Whip Eric Cantor and then, again, John of Orange.


CANTOR:  We could provide them some certainty and relief to know that taxes wouldn‘t go up if we would just extend the Bush—extend the current tax rates now.

BOEHNER:  We are not going to be any different than what we‘ve been.


OLBERMANN:  Michael Moore on this, on health care reform kicking in today, and the ultimate misnomer we‘ve been exploring here, the small lie about small businesses—next on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  September 23rd, 2010 -- this should have been a triumphant day for progressives and liberals in this country.  It should have even been one for those to whom those terms are anathema but who still benefit every day in a thousand ways because despite its occasional lurches backward, this country has always moved forward towards the best life possible for the most citizens possible.

Our third story tonight: this is the day health care reform began to take effect.  There could have been a ribbon-cutting.  There could have been a speech.  There could have been a campaign event.

There could have been an emboldened progressive front energized by the miracle of the tangible beginning of the end of the insurance cartel‘s stranglehold on this nation now striking back against the sheer, stark, screaming fraud that is the premise of Republican tax cuts for small business like Bechtel and Harris Casinos and “The Chicago Tribune,” or screaming at the laugh-out-loud hilarity of the opposition‘s pledge to America with the defiant statement that the Democrats would now be scheduling one vote in each chamber for the Bush tax cuts for the rich and one vote in each chamber for the Obama tax cuts for the people.

Instead, no ribbon cutting, no presidential speech, no somebody celebrating the rollout of health care reform, no calling B.S. on small business, and no tax cut vote or votes until after the midterms.

Here with me now, as promised, the filmmaker behind the documentary works such as “SiCKO” and “Capitalism: A Love Story,” now out on DVD, Michael Moore.

Good to see you, sir.

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER:  Yes, but don‘t buy it.  I mean, I don‘t—

I‘m tired of this—you know—

OLBERMANN:  Too much merchandizing?

MOORE:  Yes.  I just—I don‘t go out—I refuse to go on these shows anymore.  If they hold up anything, I walk off.  So, be careful.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  OK.

MOORE:  I mean, just after that whole rundown that you just gave—


MOORE:  -- I mean, isn‘t—aren‘t we missing our Thursday night comedies on NBC?  I mean, isn‘t that what we—

OLBERMANN:  All right.  Give them eight minutes to go and look for the Thursday night comedies.


OLBERMANN:  What happened?  Where is the leadership?  We need to buy some leaders somewhere.

MOORE:  Yes, I know.  This is ridiculous.  We look ridiculous.

Our side looks—it‘s—you know, I just—don‘t you—don‘t you some nights just want to—like on a day like this, just sit here and why don‘t we just talk sports?  Or just like—what more can you and I say about the idiots that are the captains of this ship?  I mean, seriously.  I mean, we are now watching the—what is going to happen in November happen.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, it just happened today.

MOORE:  It actually happened today.

OLBERMANN:  This was it.

MOORE:  So, I‘m very willing to go back to that game where the Detroit Tigers, the pitcher had a perfect game.

OLBERMANN:  Galarraga, yes.

MOORE:  Yes, and talk about that.  And you‘d—just ignore these people.

But to answer your question, seriously, you know, there is a Progressive Caucus in the House that got close to 50 members.  There is the Congressional Black Caucus, one of its members clearly stated what the tax cut, so-called, really means.


MOORE:  And there‘s nearly 30 members of the Congressional Black Caucus.  You‘ve—so, you‘ve got a number of people there who are leaders and who do speak out.  Why don‘t they—why don‘t—why don‘t they get 1/10 of the attention, say, that the Tea Party or the others receive?

Because if you go down there, if you‘re around them—I mean, they‘re very eloquent.  They say incredible things.  They‘ve got it nailed down.  One of them—I mean, it just—

OLBERMANN:  They don‘t have—the answer to the question, I know, it‘s rhetorical, but the answer to the question is, they don‘t have an agenda of fear and loathing and inspiring hatred among other groups.  The Congressional Black Caucus is not out there saying beware of the Black Panthers or beware of fill in the blank.  This could kill you in your home.  We‘ll tell you what it is after you vote for us. 

MOORE:  This is our only way to win on our side, is that we have to learn to instill this kind of fear in people? 

OLBERMANN:  No.  But don‘t you think that something could have been drawn from what the Republicans did in the first decade of this century?  The idea that occasionally you have to throw a punch, that you cannot do four years of rope-a-dope and—or even two years of rope-a-dope and expect to be re-elected. 

You have to stand for something.  As wrong as the Republicans were, they sure stand for some things.  They stand for the rich, against the poor, and in favor of wars, because you can spend a lot of money during a war. 

MOORE:  Right.  And there‘s something that‘s attractive about that to many Americans. 

OLBERMANN:  Because it‘s simple. 

MOORE:  It‘s simple.  But it—

OLBERMANN:  I know what you mean.  It‘s eight words, and I go back and live my life. 

MOORE:  Most Americans don‘t describe themselves as Democrats or Republicans.  What they do like is someone who has the courage of their convictions.  Sometimes, they‘ll even vote for someone who they don‘t really agree with everything he stands for, just because they want someone who is going to fight for something, stand up for something, and not do this kind of namby-pamby. 

This whole thing—Harry Reid, seriously, I want to go down there tomorrow and tell him to drop and give me 20 right now.  I‘m serious.  This guy, absolutely no backbone.  You look at him.  Who—it just—it‘s so frustrating. 

The last time I was on here with you, I offered to—I would go down to the White House, I would sleep on a cot in the basement.  A dollar a year, all I want.  My escort will want a dollar a year.  But somebody has got to light a fire under these guys.  Somebody has got to—I don‘t know what part they don‘t get. 

If they‘re afraid, like your earlier segment you said they‘re afraid of the ads—they‘re going to do ads against us. 

OLBERMANN:  The bully beats you up not whether you hit him back or not.  The bully beats you up because he‘s a bully.  They‘re going to run those ads whether there is a vote or not. 

MOORE:  We all were in grade school.  Here‘s the lesson we learned about the bully: the bully stops beating you up when you stand up to the bully.  Why?  Because you‘re then too much work for the bully.  The bully would rather go someplace else where it‘s easier. 

OLBERMANN:  Let me ask you about the small businesses that are not, the small lie.  The Speaker‘s Office put out an e-mail on that story today, and quoted the story that we did here last night, which is nice.  But I thought from a political point of view, that‘s like a gift of 5,000 pounds of raw meat for even a milquetoast Democrat. 

Where are they on this?  Bechtel is a small business? 

MOORE:  No, I actually heard there—I think there was some kind—I read on the Internet Nancy Pelosi did sort of an honorable mention to you in a press release or something today, thanking you for that. 

OLBERMANN:  Don‘t thank me.  Do something. 

MOORE:  Right, because that was in such an incredible investigative piece what you did last night.  It‘s like the next day—it‘s we‘re back to the same old, same old, and we‘re standing in a lumber yard with Republicans who are about to nail everyone to the cross when they take over in November. 

OLBERMANN:  And we‘ve even got the Republicans saying they would like to take some—like seven aspects of the health care reform, which starts today, which could have been this huge national holiday that we‘ve got it started—not done, but started.  And Democrats are not campaigning on those seven points. 

It‘s like, we like these, so we‘re going to keep them.  Democrats are not saying, you know, we wrote that. 

MOORE:  The thing is don‘t the Democrats understand that as much as they‘re accused of being—that they‘re in with Hollywood, that‘s actually sometimes a good thing?  They could actually turn to some people in Hollywood who would make ads for them, who would help them form the message? 

For—when you‘ve got Tom Hanks and George Clooney on your side, if you can‘t figure out on how you can get the message out to the American people, it‘s just—

OLBERMANN:  Hanks, Clooney, Michael Moore, we have to stick to radio now. 

MOORE:  Their ads are going to defeat us.  We better not—Well, it‘s just—Look, OK, we‘ve got six weeks left.  How do we save the Democrats from themselves, because the Republicans taking over, the knife goes in even deeper at that point. 

I know there are people saying, well, let the Democrats get their ass beat a little bit here, and that will make them wake up.  I don‘t know what is going to do it.  I think only the people watching this are going to have to say, you know what, we‘re just going to have to do this.  The leaders—what do you do?  When the leader doesn‘t do it, you have to do it. 

Everybody had one bad teacher in high school.  And so if you wanted to do well in that class, you just had to sort of teach yourself. 

OLBERMANN:  Exactly. 

MOORE:  You want to get through it and go to college.  This is what we have to do now in these next six weeks.  But, geez, I feel bad for you. 

What do you do tomorrow on this show?  I mean, how do you keep up without -


OLBERMANN:  I may read an entire James Thurber book.  It‘s Friday.  We can get away with a lot on Friday. 

MOORE:  Starting at 9:30 tonight, over on NBC, we can watch “Outsource,” a comedy about sending thousands of jobs overseas.  I think that‘s a genius idea. 

OLBERMANN:  In hopes of continuing this show until Friday night, I‘m going to pass on this. 

MOORE:  I‘m not trying to get you kicked off.  There‘s a rule in broadcasting not to let me on live.  Always tape in advance. 

OLBERMANN:  Like we worry about—they let me on live every night for seven and a half years. 

MOORE:  What could be worse?

OLBERMANN:  They haven‘t gotten me yet.  You‘re not going to destroy me, if I‘m not going to destroy myself, for crying out loud.  Tell me, the John Steinbeck Award for Commitment to Democratic Values.  You‘re getting this? 

MOORE:  That‘s what I was informed. 

OLBERMANN:  I‘m astonished when I say this. 

MOORE:  I was astonished.  I was informed of this.  There you go, John Steinbeck, nice, great, thank you for the people at the Steinbeck Center for this.  And this wonderful Steinbeck Prize that I‘ll be receiving. 

OLBERMANN:  It‘s a cup of water.  It‘s cold and then there‘s a mice with a man -brain attached to it.  That‘s a bad pun. 

MOORE:  We are living in a modern day “Grapes of Wrath.”  Sadly, for so many of the people watching this right now who don‘t know if they‘re going to have a job next month, who don‘t know how they‘re going to pay the mortgage this week, these—for the Democrats to not understand—to not understand who they‘re supposed to be fighting for -- 

OLBERMANN:  Even if you lose the fight, the theater might actually get you re-elected.  So what if you lose the fight, you fought for what was right. 

MOORE:  That‘s right.  Did you hear that?  Harry Reid, are you listening? 

OLBERMANN:  Michael Moore, congratulations again on the John Steinbeck Award.  And thanks as always for coming in and not destroying the show. 

MOORE:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

OLBERMANN:  Ever heard the story of Goldy-line and the three bear markets?  Congressman Anthony Weiner, after his hearing into Glenn Beck‘s gold scam today. 

Why is this European politician laughing?  Because his speech is about spiced meat. 

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, Ken Buck‘s shot at VA hospitals was not a stand alone.  The GOP‘s attack on health care for veterans.


OLBERMANN:  The Republican congressman who called reconciliation undemocratic now promising that if elected, the GOP will use reconciliation.  First, the Tweet of the day and the sanity break—less sanity, more break.  From SenJohnMcCain: “honored to receive the Guardian of Small Business Award from the NFIB.”  The NFIB?  Enterprise Fidelity Investments Bechtel?  Wait, wait, wait, wait.  NFIB?  NFIB?  The trade group representing small businesses that aren‘t small at all is called NFIB?  Paging Dr. Freud. Dr. Freud, stat!

Let‘s play Oddball.

Cheng-Du (ph), China, 12 lucky contestants have arrived to see who will become a panda ambassador.  This is their version of “The Apprentice,” on NBC tonight, by the way—second plug of the night—which features a former COUNTDOWN intern.  Go Massa (ph). 

These 12 were selected from more than 60,000 applicants.  They will spend the next week studying, feeding and even cleaning the gentle animals.  Whoever wins will then spend a full month tracking pandas in the wild, a dream job for any panda lover or loner.  The ultimate goal is to spread panda awareness and then launch the spin-off, “Who Wants to Marry a Panda?”

Finally to Bern, Switzerland.  Bern.  Someone has a serious case of the giggles.  It‘s Switzerland‘s finance minister, Hanz Rudolf Mertz (ph).  He‘s reading a speech about the importing of spiced meat. 




OLBERMANN:  Minister Mertz claims he found the bureaucratic writing style, which the spiced meat bill was written in, incredibly funny, and that‘s what caused this.  I think he just realized he was speaking in German about spiced meat. 

Time marches on. 

Worst Persons and Rand Paul compares this country and this president to pre-Hitler Germany, then denies he‘s doing so, and then does it again.


OLBERMANN:  It turns out the chief salesman for the chief sponsor for televangelist Glenn Beck were hauled into court in the ‘90s by the SEC on charges of defrauding more than 100 elderly investors.  A mark of quality.  The congressional hearing into Goldline next.  But first, get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight‘s Worst Person in the World.

The bronze to Sister Bendy Straws.  You might recall that when Palin was introduced at a campaign stop in 2008 by a Florida sheriff, who called the Democratic presidential nominee Barack Hussein Obama, a McCain/Palin spokesman issued a statement reading, quote, “we do not condone this inappropriate rhetoric which distracts from the real questions of judgement, character and experience that voters will base their decisions on this November.” 

On Fox last night, the half governor claimed we were learning more about Christine O‘Donnell and her college years, her teenage years and her financial dealing, and anybody even bothered to ask about Barack Hussein Obama.  Please tell me Palin is now going to issue a statement condemning herself. 

The runner up, Republican Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul.  Let a Tea Baggy loose on history and they‘ll say the damnedest things.  This is Paul from the profile in “GQ Magazine,” quote, “in 1923, when they destroyed the currency, they elected Hitler.  So they elected somebody who vilified one group of people.  But he promised them I will give you security if you give me your liberty.  They voted him in.  That‘s not to mean that anybody around is Hitler, but it‘s to mean that you don‘t want chaos in your country.  We could have chaos, not just because of the Democrats, but because the Democrats and the Republicans have all been spending us into oblivion.  And having a massive debt runs the risk of chaos at some point.  Not tomorrow.  Maybe not next week.  I mean, I can‘t even predict the stock market six months from now.  But I think that a country is in danger that spends beyond its means, and lives beyond its means.  I don‘t even say that started with President Obama.  I think it started long ago.” 

So, you‘re making a comparison to pre-Hitler Germany and then you‘re saying nobody here is like Hitler.  But there is pre-Hitlerian chaos.  It‘s not just the Democrats causing it, but you‘re not invoking Hitler of Germany of the ‘30s.  But it‘s been such a problem here for so long that it didn‘t even start with Obama, but, of course, you aren‘t trying to equate Obama to Hitler, because there isn‘t that kind of problem. 

Oh yeah, Hitler was elected in 1933, not 1923, doc. 

But our winner, Congressman Paul Ryan, the supposed young gun on the economy from the Republicans in Wisconsin.  He is not a fan of Congressional reconciliation.  When the Democrats talked about using it in health care reform, he wrote in the “Washington Post” on March 14th that reconciliation is a, quote, “convoluted legislative charade.”  And it was confirmation the Democrats were “employing any means to achieve political victory.” 

The next day he called it “an extraordinary and unprecedented abuse. 

Never before has the House Committee process been so grossly exploited.” 

Four days later, he said Dems in the Senate lacked “the courage to have a clean up or down vote in the people‘s House.  This is not good democracy.  This is not good government.” 

Yesterday, Ryan‘s on CNBC and guess what comes up, the abusive, convoluted, legislative, non-Democratic, cowardly, gross exploitation thing. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Congressman, I know you‘re going to be chairman of the Budget Committee if the GOP wins the House.  That puts you in charge of the reconciliation process, which is a very important task.  Can you use reconciliation to chip away and gradually roll back some of the unpopular Obama policies?  Will that be a good strategy? 

REP. PAUL RYAN ®, WISCONSIN:  Yes, you can.  It‘s then a question of where Judd works and where he sits.  The question is who controls the Senate and where are the votes in the Senate?  Reconciliation is the fastest, best path to get there.  We do want to use reconciliation.  You ultimately have to use reconciliation to get this problem fixed. 


OLBERMANN:  Just remember, spell hypocrisy with a Y as in R-Y-A-N.  Congressman Paul “I was against reconciliation before I was for it” Ryan of Wisconsin, today‘s Worst Person in the World.


OLBERMANN:  Scare, lie, then rip off.  It is the three-pronged sales technique Congressman Anthony Weiner says Goldline International uses to fleece its customers.  In our number one story, the patrons of televangelist Glenn Beck were forced to answer for their practices in front of Congress today.  You might call it the 9/23 Project to restore honor to deceptive gold peddlers. 

Congressman Weiner joins me presently.  First, ABC News reported today that three current senior sales people at Goldline were once investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.  This was in the 1990s.  According to court records, the SEC alleged the men used deceptive mass mailings and boiler room tactics to defraud 115 mostly elderly investors out of 1,180,000 dollars over 13 months. 

The case was settled.  The men conceded no guilt, but they returned the money.  A former Goldline employee telling ABC News that two of these men are now training other salespeople for Goldline and also handling their biggest clients.  In today‘s hearing, Goldline Executive Vice President Scott Carter confirming that the men once under investigation by the SEC are currently employees in good standing at his company. 

Congressman Weiner was interested in one particularly Goldline sales tactic, scaring people into thinking the government was going to take back their gold bullion.  Glenn beck fear mongers on the subject for Goldline in a web video. 


GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  You see, back in 1933, FDR said, OK, we‘re going to take all your gold.  Gee, it‘s worth eight dollars an ounce.  But some people got smart and they said, well, wait a minute.  I‘ve got antique coins.  You can‘t melt these down. 


OLBERMANN:  There‘s an identical radio ad done by either Glenn Beck in falsetto or by some woman.  Goldline provides each of its prospective customer with a copy of the 1933 presidential order, not so subtle subtext, “Obama is coming for your bullion.” 

The message, buy antique gold coins from Goldline. 


REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  Do you recognize this? 


WEINER:  Is this included in your packet of information that you sent to your customers? 


WEINER:  Can you tell us why? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Because customers, when determining what products they want to buy, consider many features and benefits.  One of those features and benefits that they consider is the prospect of confiscation. 

WEINER:  There‘s a fear that this might get—you may have this type of thing happen again? 


WEINER:  There‘s that fear.  Can I ask you, do you include anywhere in the material that this was overturned the following year? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Congressman, I don‘t know. 

WEINER:  The answer is you don‘t? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Our commissioned salespeople and our training is that if the executive order were re-enacted as it was in ‘33, that coins with collector value were excluded from confiscation? 

WEINER:  Right.  I understand.  Just to summarize, Mr. Carter, you take something that was in 1933, that was repealed in 1934, and then you extrapolate what would happen, fear—the fear it could happen in 2010? 


OLBERMANN:  Let‘s call in New York Congressman Anthony Wiener, a member of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection.  Representative Weiner, a pleasure as always.  Thanks for your time tonight.

WEINER:  Thank you, sir.

OLBERMANN:  What did you achieve today, do you think? 

WEINER:  We revealed that this business model is just what we described there, and how you put it.  You know, they frighten people.  These are middle class people who are legitimately concerned about the economy, want to figure out where to invest their money.  They see these ads.  They really are come-ons.  They say, listen, gold is going up.  Inflation is eating away at your money.  Buy gold. 

The problem is, as we heard from a witness today, they gouge you.  Once they suck you in, they sell you these coins.  There‘s nothing scarce about them.  The only value that they have is the small amount of gold that is in there, in case you ever want to melt it down.  He was bragging that when you buy Swiss Francs, it‘s gone up in value. 

If the economy goes into the crapper in the future, I don‘t know how many people are going to take your Swiss Franc coins.  But this is a very serious problem, because if you think about who‘s being targeted for this, these are people who have legitimate concerns about the economy but don‘t quite know how to go about purchasing gold. 

I don‘t know if gold is going to go up or down.  I don‘t know if it‘s a good deal or a bad deal to buy gold.  But I know buying from this guy is very bad and it‘s a real rip-off.  As much as 180 percent mark-up on the melt value.  You‘re never going to make that back.  Unfortunately, people are being exploited. 

OLBERMANN:  To one—to that point, one of the witnesses before you testified today that he lost 60,000 dollars in a day due to the transaction with Goldline.  How on Earth is that possible? 

WEINER:  Well, he gave Goldline about 140,000 dollars, and assumed he was getting 140,000 dollars worth of gold back.  But, in fact, he wasn‘t.  He came back to them six months later, said, I want to take my money out of these coins.  They said, we‘ll give you 80,000 dollars, because that‘s what their mark-up is. 

They say this guy should have stayed in longer.  We did the math.  He would have to stay in for about 15 years before he caught up with the mark-up that Goldline puts on it. 

What was interesting about this witness is he wasn‘t a nincompoop.  He was a bright guy who had read things carefully.  But what he assumed is a basic assumption that I think a lot of people have when they buy these products, that they‘re getting what the going price is for gold.  With these guys, Goldline, they frankly are ripping people off. 

OLBERMANN:  The scare, lie, rip-off cycle that you outlined in your opening remarks; is it any wonder that Goldline seeks and finds willing partners in people like Glenn Beck? 

WEINER:  You know, this is where the angry radio host work hand in glove with these sellers.  You know, you see Glenn Beck say, be careful, the economy‘s a miss.  Deficits, debts, you better invest in gold.  Now let‘s go to a word from our sponsor. 

It got so bad that even Fox News said to Glenn Beck, you can‘t be a paid sponsor for these guys anymore, because it was just—the line was getting blurred.  Now, that‘s Fox News‘ problem.  That‘s Glenn Beck‘s problem.  I think he does have some responsibility to his viewers.  You know, it‘s odd of me to be saying this, but I want to stand up for Glenn Beck‘s viewers in this case. 

But the laws that we‘re proposing obviously don‘t impact Fox News.  And Glenn Beck can say and do whatever he wants.  But I would hope he takes a step back and looks at our study and looks at the testimony today, and realize that his viewers are middle class people who are struggling.  He should not be aiding and abetting a rip off. 

OLBERMANN:  Speaking of middle class viewers and others, lastly, while we have you here, a quick reaction to the news from the Senate that the Senate is not going to have a vote up or down on tax cuts for middle class or for rich people until after the election?  What‘s your thought on that? 

WEINER:  Listen, it should come as no surprise that the Senate is where legislation goes to die.  Ben Franklin called it the cooling saucer of our democracy.  It‘s like the meat locker nowadays.  It‘s unfortunate.  But look, let‘s remember, this is ultimately a very good day.  You alluded to it earlier on your program. 

This is the day that two things happen.  One, health care took effect, giving people free diagnostic care, closing the donut hole for seniors.  That very same day, the Republican party, the party that Paul Ryan says he wants to privatize Social Security and eliminate Medicare. 

So we have a clear case to make here.  I just wish Democrats would lean into that argument, rather than being on our heels so much. 

OLBERMANN:  Amen.  Congress Anthony Weiner of New York, many thanks and keep doing that.

WEINER:  Thank you, sir.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s September 23rd.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.



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