Monday, June 16, 2008

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, June 16
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Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons

Guest: Luke Russert, Dana Milbank, Richard Wolffe, Howard Fineman, Matt Lauer


KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Obama/Gore 2008. Gore endorsing Obama in 2008. We'll take you there as the former vice president tries for the party unity trifecta: his endorsement linking the last Democratic administration to Obama and doing it in Michigan.

While Obama hires Clinton's former campaign as chief of staff for whoever the running mate is. Considering Senator Clinton fired her, that running mate does not sound like Senator Clinton, does it?

The Republican Party unity, if any. New polling: 52 percent of GOP primary voters are not satisfied with John McCain as their nominee, and two dozen prominent elected conservatives have yet to endorse him.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm happy with the degree of unity that our party has.

OLBERMANN: Happy about the Clinton supporters for McCain, organized by the woman who tried to keep Thomas Jefferson's black descendent out of the Jefferson family gatherings?

Happy about the Texas McCain fundraiser hosted by the ex-candidate for governor who once said bad weather was like rape? Quote, "As long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it"?

Best person, wanted. Two Celtics/Lakers tickets for same. Will trade wife.

Worst person, truly FOX. Was this the day to do the segment dismissing Tim Russert as a member of the liberal media? No, it was not. It was a day for this. As Tim Russert's son, Luke, remembered his father and generously gave this interview.

LUKE RUSSERT, SON OF TIM RUSSERT: I really honestly believe that he saw himself as the questionnaire for the American people.

OLBERMANN: The Luke Russert conversation and more now on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Good evening. This is Monday, June 16, 141 days until the 2008 presidential election.

Al Gore endorses Barack Obama. Really going out on a limb there. Why now you ask? Check your calendar. Perhaps because on June 16, 1999, nine years ago today Gore began what remains the red badge of courage for the Democratic Party. He announced his candidacy for president on June 16.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, just as likely, of course, the symmetry of getting to bring so much unity to the Democrats in Michigan.

We'll take you to Detroit presently as news hits of disapproval of John McCain among rank-and-file Republicans crossing 50 percent. And as the Clinton supporters for McCain movement is hit by scandal.

The primary is now over. A clear majority of Senator Clinton supporters now backing Obama. One North Carolina mother of two felt strongly about voting for Clinton, telling the "L.A. Times" that because of issues like universal health care, quote, "I can't understand the thinking of how someone could jump from Hillary to McCain." It doesn't make any sense.

In a snapshot from last week's NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, women now favoring Senator Obama over Senator McCain, 52 percent to 43 percent. Former Clinton supporters now in Obama's camp by 61 to 19, despite apparently, the efforts of Paulie Abeles, a self-proclaimed Clinton supporter now reaching out to the McCain campaign, going so far to organize a conference call with the presumptive Republican candidate.

She is the same member of the Thomas Jefferson Family Association who led the attempt to keep African-American descendants of Mr. Jefferson's reputed slave mistress, Sally Hemings, from attending family reunions.

Meantime, 68 percent of Democratic primary voters surveyed for last week's Hotline poll saying they are satisfied with Senator Obama as their nominee. Sixty percent of them saying they will vote enthusiastically for him.

In comparison, only 52 percent of Republican primary voters satisfied with Senator McCain's nomination, 46 percent enthusiastically so.

That lack of enthusiasm extending to members of the House and Senate. "The Hill" reporting last week that at least 14 Republican members of Congress, having refused to endorse or publicly support Senator McCain. More than one dozen others declined to answer the question or whether to back - to back the Arizona Republican.

When asked about it at a news conference outside Washington today, Senator McCain responding, in effect, "Nothing to see here folks, move along."


MCCAIN: I'm happy with the degree of unity that our party has. Now, do we have a lot of work to do? Of course we have a lot of work to do. But that's what campaigns are about.

But I'm confident the progress that we are making has been significant and substantial, particularly when you consider that we had very spirited primary. We had very spirited primary. And it really helps when Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are all significantly supportive and actively campaigning.

So we'll be fine over time. It just - it always just takes time.


OLBERMANN: Among the progress cited by Senator McCain, financial. A "Dallas Morning News" computer study of Texas Republican voters showing that, of the 3,200 individuals who gave to Mayor Giuliani and Governor Romney's campaigns, only 113 of them - three and a half percent - have also since given to Senator McCain.

That may explain why McCain was unwilling to say no to any of the money raised by Texas oilman Clayton Williams, who during his failed candidacy for governor against Ann Richards in that state in 1990, compared the groundbreaking Texas Democrat to the cattle on his ranch, saying he would "head her and hoof her and drag her through the dirt."

Mr. Williams also having joked about rape during the campaign, comparing it to the weather. Quote, "As long as it's inevitable, you might as well lay back and enjoy it," unquote.

Today at his news conference, Senator McCain explained - explained why he believes it is OK that he kept the $300,000 Clayton Williams raised for him.


MCCAIN: First of all, my people are not aware of a statement that he made 16 or 18 years ago. I've forgotten how many years ago it was.

People who are - contributed to this fundraiser, and we will be going back, but not to his home - and the people who are contributor/supporters of mine, not supporters of his. So when we found out that this was planned there, he said, "No, we'll reschedule it, and we'll do it some place else." And I understand that he's not attending.


OLBERMANN: Time now to call on our own Richard Wolffe, who is in Detroit, site of tonight's Obama-Gore event, which we'll bring to you live.

Richard, good evening.

RICHARD WOLFFE, NBC NEWS: Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: The other campaign first. Mr. Williams is not attending. Senator McCain is planning to accept all those $300,000, all those dollar bills that are attending, the money that was raised by Clayton Williams.

Why - am I cynical here? Why do I suspect that if Senator Obama were in this identical position, the level of interest and the level of outrage would be much higher?

WOLFFE: Well, it's certainly true that Senator Obama has faced more than his fair share of criticism about money from questionable donors, notably Tony Rezko.

And the lesson out of the Rezko money was that he gave an equivalent amount of cash to charity. You cannot separate the man from the money. And in this case, in this cycle, coming after all we saw in 2006, it really is important for candidates to show they have clean hands, whether it's about one party or the other.

And I think in this case, as well, for John McCain, who built his brand around the idea of straight talk, people want to see him dealing straight - in a straight and honest way with this kind of issue. I'm not sure that, in taking the money but rejecting the guy, that is necessarily a piece of straight talk.

OLBERMANN: Might the fact that that calculation of 3.5 percent of Texas contributors to Giuliani and Romney campaigns who since ponied up for McCain, might that fact explain the reluctance on the part of Senator McCain to part with the cash?

WOLFFE: Well, money does strange things to candidates, and there's a huge money deficit between Obama and McCain here.

And, also, in spite of what McCain said today, this - this enduring suspicion and mistrust about McCain from big pieces of his own party. It's not just the financial backers of people like Giuliani or Romney, but the Bush money machine, which was this formidable enterprise for two election cycles, really has not rallied around John McCain. That's causing him problems now and looks like will cause him problems going forward.

OLBERMANN: To paraphrase Mark Twain, meantime, do the reports of Democratic disunity appear to be greatly exaggerated? These polls suggest otherwise. And some of the facts on the ground, for instance, what's happening tonight?

WOLFFE: Well, and the contrast with McCain suggests otherwise but certainly, the number you cited earlier, especially among women, where Obama has a 19-point advantage over McCain among women voters, that's a group where, actually, President Bush ran very, very close to John Kerry in 2004.

And when you look at that kind of thing, you've got to kind of wonder whether we were focused on the right issues, the right data coming out of what was a very thrilling and exciting primary season. We all focused on the difference between women voters, between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It just hasn't translated to the general election, and the primary phase only ended a couple weeks ago.

OLBERMANN: All right. And, now, let's talk about specifically this Al Gore endorsement. The timing. Apart from the June 16 of Gore's own presidential run, is there a reason? Is there something specific as we wait for him to come out into the hall in Detroit?

WOLFFE: Well, as someone who was in Carthage, Tennessee, in June of 1999 when this happened, I mean, the contrasts really striking here. When Al Gore announced, he had protesters. HIV/AIDS protesters disrupted the event. And his campaign had all of this turmoil for several months afterwards.

I think you're looking at a different Al Gore, obviously, a different kind of campaign. And Al Gore always said he was going to wait until this race was pretty much decided, and it certainly is now. It's not exactly a profile in courage.

OLBERMANN: And a different June 16, I guess. And also - but the key to this is, why Michigan, obviously. Is it as obvious as it seems that this is Barack Obama's attempt to get his name on the ballot there, so to speak?

WOLFFE: Yes, look, he is - he is campaigning hard here and in Florida later this week. And there is, obviously, a big reason for that. He didn't campaign here before. He still needs to get himself known. And what better way to get the attention of Michigan voters than to come in with one of the biggest names in the Democratic Party?

OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of MSNBC and "Newsweek," as we await the Obama event in Detroit. As always, sir, great thanks.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: For more on Senator McCain's attempts to reach women voters, let's turn to our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine.

Howard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: How do you get women supporters without distancing yourself a little more strongly from Clayton Williams, considering pretty much the only thing Clayton Williams is known for outside Texas was that lame rape remark. I mean, it was just mentioned again in Scott McClellan's book last month. This is not, you know, highlights of the Paleozoic era. This is stuff that's still pretty current among the Texas GOP.

FINEMAN: Yes, and it's very well remembered among Texas Democratic women.


FINEMAN: And I think a lot of women around the country. They remember Claytie Williams. They remember that Claytie Williams is the guy who went after their hero, their heroine, Ann Richards. You've got to remember that Ann Richards was a storied figure among Democrats, especially women all around the country.

So, I mean, the McCain campaign is creating a new category of campaign maneuver, Keith. I would call it self-punking. They - they keep doing this to themselves.

And I must say, when I talked to them today, I think they were pretty genuinely upset that they'd screwed this up. That there were young people running the finance operation who set this thing up. That's their story, and they're sticking to it. And they may be right about that.

But the fact is the senior leadership in the McCain campaign, surely had to have known about this, or they should have known about it. Claytie Williams is anathema to the very Democratic women voters that McCain is saying he's going after.

OLBERMANN: The entire length of a Google search for Clayton Williams takes four and a half seconds.

What was the reaction on this other point? Do you know inside the McCain camp to the NBC News polling last week that showed that the ex-Clinton supporters were going to Obama, 61-19? Because there's two ways you can look at this. Are they saying so much for that idea or are they saying, "Jeez, if we can get 20 percent of her supporters, we'd be in business"?

KURTZ: I think if they can hold it at 20 percent, they'll consider themselves lucky. Don't forget that George Bush did fight John Kerry to a standstill among women voters in 2004. It was dead even, pretty much, between - between Bush and Kerry in '04.

The Bush people in '04 went after the so-called security moms. Now, we're a lot farther away now from 9/11. Other issues are at the fore: the economy, gasoline prices, health care and so forth. But the McCain strategists at least have told themselves that they still have some juice in that security argument with at least some Democratic women.

So, they have no choice but to look at the good side of that number that it can't really objectively be all that encouraging this soon after the end of the Democratic primary season.

OLBERMANN: And we need to be very careful to be very circumspect and not conclude this of all or even a large percentage, maybe even a measurable percentage of Clinton supporters who now have gone to McCain.

But at least might the case of this Paulie Abeles woman who we now know organized against letting Sally Hemings' descendents join the Jefferson family gatherings, does this begin to make a lot more sense than just some sort of knee-jerk reaction?

KURTZ: Well, I'm not sure what you mean by making a lot more sense.

What do you mean?

OLBERMANN: It would seem to me that - that it's an extraordinary coincidence that somebody who would have objected to the presence of the black descendants of Thomas Jefferson at the Jefferson family reunion, suddenly bolting the Democratic Party because her candidate did not get elected and going over to the Republicans. It would seem that these things are of a narrow vision. I'm not assuming racism here, but there seems to be a narrow vision of what is - what this country is in the 21st century.

KURTZ: Well, there are a lot of votes that McCain has to try to get wherever he can get them. I don't think that he would ever make a race-based appeal, but let's be blunt. There are parts of the country and parts of both urban and rural America that are reluctant to vote for an African-American candidate.

Some candidates - some voters in exit polls said as much. They said it frankly, and they said it in southern states and elsewhere. So, that's a fact of life. I don't think McCain is going to make a direct appeal to them. But I think it's fair to say that Republican strategists are going to know where some of their votes are going to come from.

OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of Newsweek and MSNBC, great thanks, as always, especially for that last respect. Thank you, sir.

FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Gore endorses Obama, live from Michigan coming up. And our interview with Tim Russert's son, Luke, next on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Tim Russert's son on the day after Father's Day generous enough to share his thoughts in an interview.

The breaking news: Al Gore's endorsement of Barack Obama, live from Michigan.

Best persons will trade wife for Celtics' tickets. Worst, Senator Clinton is intent on castrating those who did not actively support her candidacy. Find out who said that.

And next, the Luke Russert interview, here on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Whenever he was asked what his dream job was, Tim Russert inevitably said, "The one I have now." But if prodded he would admit that, if he could add something to his portfolio, it would be the owner of the Buffalo Bills football team.

But, he said in one interview six years ago, "I still want to host 'MEET THE PRESS' and own the Buffalo Bills on the side."

Our fourth story on the Countdown, something about that today which would have put a smile on Tim's face. Buffalo Congressman Brian Higgins and New York senators Clinton and Schumer today proposed renaming part of U.S. Route 20 in Orchard Park, New York, Tim Russert Highway. It would be the part of the road which runs directly in front of Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills.

Touching, indeed, and yet it would only be a small part of Tim Russert's legacy. The biggest part, it goes without saying, his son, Luke, who in our fourth story on the Countdown, remarkably did an interview this morning on "The Today Show."


MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, "THE TODAY SHOW": Tim's stories were legendary, and he told me about the good, the bad, the ugly. I can't go into the ugly here this morning, but we know the stories.

And of course, there was a story where, actually, he was mortified for a short period of time over something you did, and it turned out to be one of the things that he was proudest of. You got a tattoo.

RUSSERT: That's right.

LAUER: You want to tell me about that?

RUSSERT: Well, I was - it was senior year of high school, just sort of going through a growth period. And I was trying to figure out college and everything. And he sort of came up to me and said, you know, "Wherever you want to go, it's OK with me, and we'll support you 100 percent."

And at that moment I knew that I always wanted him on my side. And as well as I looked at the manuscript for "Big Russ and Me." This was before it really came out. And I just read what he had.

And I did it secretly. I kind of went into his file cabinet and looked at his copy of "Big Russ and Me" before it was in print form and just read all through that and the lessons he was sharing, and the stories about me and my grandfather.

And got "TJR" tattooed on my side in November of '03. I was a little hesitant to acknowledge...

LAUER: Both of their initials, I want to mention.

RUSSERT: So they're both on my side, and it will forever remain there.

LAUER: Yes. I think his initial reaction was, he did what? And then when he realized what you had tattooed there, I understand he just sat in the chair and...

RUSSERT: I left out, because he found it on Christmas morning. My mother had given me this new shirt to try on, and I put it on. And the undershirt got caught on top of it.

And he saw it. He goes, "What the heck is that?"

And I was, "Oh, that's just a scratch I got playing football," and then it all sort of came out. But if you're going to - here's my advice to kids of America. If you have a tattoo, show it to your parents on Christmas.

LAUER: You said something to me I loved, Luke. That when you and your dad were together, he used to come up and see you at BC all the time and tailgate, go to the parties when he could. Obviously, he had to prepare for "MEET THE PRESS" on a lot of Saturdays. But when he could come up there.

You said that the age difference when he hung out with you and your friends disappeared.

RUSSERT: It did. It was truly remarkable. I mean, one of my favorite things I like to say is my dad would rather drink beer with my college friends and I in the backyard than go to a state dinner. He's rather go to a tailgate than any ambassador's dinner in the United - in Washington.

He would hang out with my buddies and I and would, literally, like he was 22 years old, maybe 24, a little older. But he would tell stories about his own college experience. He would hang out, and it never once. Some kids are nervous when their parents are around their friends, never once. I welcomed it. My friends loved him just as much as I did. And it was really fun to have around.

And, boy, did he like to eat at those tailgates. I have fond memories of him. He used to fly in wings, Buffalo wings from Frank and Theresa's (ph) in Buffalo because people in Boston couldn't do a good wing. That's what he always said.

LAUER: Did he talk to you, Luke, about what he saw as his role in terms of being a journalist and a broadcaster?

RUSSERT: He did. I really, honestly, believe that he saw himself as the questionnaire for the American people. He, obviously, did his job for himself, for his network, for his family. But at his core I believe he had a higher calling: a responsibility to educate the American public about the candidates who seek the highest office in the land.

I think he went out there working for the senior citizen in the nursing home who may not understand an issue, a complex issue in the American political system. The single mom who comes home and puts on "NIGHTLY NEWS." And my dad had that 90 seconds at the beginning of "NIGHTLY," almost three to four times a week, and he would try to explain complex things to people and make them better informed voters.

And I also think he wanted to hold politicians accountable to the American people. So if he had a higher calling, that was definitely it.

And, you know, everyone said, why don't you run for office? Why don't you try to move up? He goes, "No, this is where I belong. This is what I want to do."

And he really is, and I say this, one of the last of the dinosaurs, in terms of political journalists who cared about civility, wasn't about the sound bite, wasn't about screaming and yelling. He wanted to have a forum each week where you'd have a conversation with people so that the American public and general could really get to understand them better and make a better informed decision and hopefully, ultimately, have a better country.

LAUER: Speaking of a higher calling your mom, also, she's an incredibly accomplished journalist in her own right. And that relationship, how would you describe it? Tom Brokaw says, and we've seen them together, Luke, high octane.

RUSSERT: Yes, it is high octane. My mom is a tough-spirited, outspoken woman, and I think that's why my dad loved her so much. It was really a partnership and a marriage based on intelligence and intellect. My mother is one of the smartest people that I know, and my dad was one of the smartest people that I knew. And they would just come home. They would discuss politics. They would discuss culture.

And my mom's favorite quote, she took a bland Buffalo boy and made him into a Washington pol, or something like that. She often took the credit, much deserved so. She's a very talented writer in her own right.

She - people don't really realize this, but in the 1970s she had a really cool job, and she had a Springsteen cover story. She interviewed Bob Dylan. She interviewed Billy Joel. So my dad was dating her, and he was really shooting out of his league. He was playing up. But he was just a Senate aide for Dale Moynihan. And here's this accomplished, famous writer.

So she's going through a tough time, but I think we'll both pull through it.

LAUER: I want to put this photo up, Luke, this one that was taken yesterday on the set of "MEET THE PRESS." It was such a moving tribute to your dad. And then after the program, with the lights dimmed, you walked up to his chair. Can you just share your thoughts at that moment?

RUSSERT: I did. You know, it was an emotional show. And there was a lot of people in the studio and I sort of saw his chair there with his little pad that he had, because he kind of lifted it up and he wanted to be more comfortable.

And I sort of said to myself originally, "I want that pad to keep forever." And then I kind of went up there, and the emotion just came over me, and I just wanted to touch Dad's chair.

I said to Mike Barnicle the other day, "MEET THE PRESS" was kind of like his second child. And I sort of felt this was the last time I'd see "MEET THE PRESS" in the way that I know it. And I just wanted to grab it all in and hug that chair.

And I'm going to keep that chair forever. That's my chair now. And then I just want to go up there and feel it. You know, sometimes if you go into a certain area, like that chair with that lighting, and you just looked out and you see my dad's pens are still right there next to the chair. You see the tapes that he had. He liked to tape his microphone a certain way. And I just wanted to soak all that in. I really did.


OLBERMANN: To quote his father's phrase of encouragement to all of us, go get them, Luke.

A public wake in memory of Tim Russert is scheduled for tomorrow at St. Albans School in Washington. A memorial service and a funeral will be held at the Kennedy Center in Washington at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. It will be private, but the Russert family wished that it would be televised, and so it will be at that hour at 4 p.m. here on MSNBC.

We continue with the breaking news, Al Gore's endorsement of Barack Obama, live from Michigan after this.


OLBERMANN: Best persons in a moment and take my wife, please, just leave me your Celtics' tickets. Then the Gore endorsement of Obama, live from Detroit.

First, 150 years ago today, on June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln was nominated by the new Republican party as its candidate for the Senate in Illinois. Then he gave a speech slamming the sitting government for five years of a policy intended to restore security and peace that had, in fact, reduced security and made peace more distant. He began by paraphrasing Jesus, "a house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the union to be dissolved. I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other." A century and a half ago tonight.

Let's play Oddball.


OLBERMANN: We begin in Belfast, in northern Ireland, where President Bush continued his farewell tour of Europe by shooting hoops with a group of Irish school kids. President fed the children during lay-up drill and afterwards showed the kids how to put the larger size biscuit next to the basket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get another one. Get another one.

OLBERMANN: He's laying the bricks of democracy. Mr. Bush went on to miss another wide-open jumper and then another from about two feet out. And then he reminded the disappointed kiddies from the Emerald Isle that it could have been worse; he could have made them watch Kobe Bryant in the first five games of the NBA finals.

To Madura (ph), India, and the world's longest movie marathon. This is Ashish Sharma (ph), who claims to have sat this theater watching movies for a record 120 hours. Sharma was allowed ten minutes between each film for rest. The films were mostly Indian Bollywood features. It works out to 60 two hour long movies in a row or two runnings of "Heaven's Gate."

To Manila, in the Philippines, where we get a look at a band playing instruments made entirely out of bamboo. Never before has joining a band been so uncool. Piccolos, clarinets, tubas and more all crafted from the renewable wood. The phenomenon is not an uncommon one in the Philippines. The first all-bamboo band popped up about 1896. Why are we showing it to you now? The name of that band was the Rolling Stones!


OLBERMANN: Well, not the riskiest thing he's ever done, but Al Gore tonight will endorse Barack Obama, momentarily, we're told. And we'll bring it to you live.

Another sexist remark about predicting violence by Hillary Clinton made by a woman. Worst persons ahead, but first time for Countdown's top three best person's in the world.

Number three, best indicator for future divorce, Mr. Kyle Carter of Medford, Mass, life-long fan of the Boston Celtics, who lead the L.A. Lakers 3-2 in the NBA finals heading into game six tomorrow night in Boston. Posting the following ads on CraigsList, quote, trade my hot wife for two Celtics tickets. He insists the trade is a dinner date with Mrs. Carter and nothing else. He seemed surprised, for some reason, that most respondents have asked for pictures of her.

Number two, best resolution oldest problem, Yardly Chittick at alumni day for Phillips Academy in Andover, New Hampshire. He was pardoned for while a student there for sneaking off campus with some of his classmates to watch a fire and not getting back to the dorms until 3:00 a.m. Mr. Chittick was Phillips class of 1918. He is 107 years old. One of the guys he sneaked out with that night so long ago was his friend Humphrey Bogart.

Number one, best comeuppance, unnamed 34 year old man from Atherton, Australia, boozing it up in the passenger seat as a woman friend with a learner's permit practiced her driving. She woke him to ask him something. He became enraged. Convinced the driver behind them had offended her in some way, so he did what anybody would do; he leaned out the window of the moving vehicle and began throwing empty beer bottles at the driver behind them.

That's when the man fell out of the car window on to the highway. And then into a nearby drainage ditch, breaking his ankle along the way and having to be hospitalized. Rupert?


OLBERMANN: We await the joint appearance of former Vice President Al Gore and Barack Obama at the Joe Louis Arena in downtown Detroit. Mr. Gore will be endorsing the presumptive Democratic nominee momentarily.

In our third story, the ongoing riddle of Obama/Clinton, as Obama's campaign makes its first hire from the former Clinton campaign, but someone the Clinton camp had fired. And the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain, continues to repeat a falsehood in his pursuit of his own face off with Senator Obama.

First the Obama campaign hire, a prominent Hispanic figure who was once campaign manager for Senator Clinton's presidential campaign, Pat Solis Doyle. She will serve as chief of staff to Obama's vice presidential nominee. The Clinton campaign fired her as its campaign manager in February. And the relationship between Clinton and Solis Doyle is reportedly still strained.

Over at camp McCain, it's a strained truth, another instance which may have faded away had Senator McCain not insisted on repeating it and pushing the notion of town hall meetings with Senator Obama. Senator McCain said today in Arlington, Virginia what he said last Friday and as early as June 4th. Note the senator's use of the word committed.


MCCAIN: As we all know I have called repeatedly now for town hall meetings. Town hall meetings between Senator Obama and myself so that if we're really going to change the dynamic in Washington and change how we do business, let's change the campaign. Let's go back to what Barry Goldwater and President Kennedy had committed to. Let's go around the country and let the American people talk to us and ask us their questions.


OLBERMANN: Of course, President Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963 and the Kennedy/Goldwater town hall discussions that same year looked forward to the possibility of the two opposing each other in 1964. But Goldwater himself described it as anything but a commitment. In the 1988 interview with the "Washington Post," he said, quote, I would have enjoyed it very much. I even talked to him one day about using the same airplane going to the same places; he would get out in one place and start to debate and I'd rebut him. Then we would turn it around at the next place. It was the Uncle Morris fantasy and probably wouldn't have happened but he liked the idea.

Doesn't sound like a commitment from here. Let's call on the national political reporter of the "Washington Post," MSNBC political analyst Dana Milbank.

Good evening, Dana.


OLBERMANN: As we continue to wait for Obama and Al Gore in Detroit, Patty Solis Doyle as the chief of staff for whoever the vice presidential candidate is, her role in a moment. First, she left the Clinton campaign. Another word for that was fired. Did that disconnection here with the Obama campaign just end the Clinton VP chance?

MILBANK: On the contrary, Keith, it's a great gift to Hillary, giving her the opportunity to fire Patty as her chief of staff twice in the same year. You know, I don't think so, Keith, if only I because I am yet to find anybody in this town who thinks that Clinton has a chance of being chosen as the vice presidential nominee. Sort of the buzz for that seems to have died down. I wouldn't necessarily read anything into this, but there doesn't seem to be another reason for Obama not to do it at this point.

OLBERMANN: The actual contribution to this. When she left the Clinton campaign, there was a lot of talk of internal sniping, strategic failures, but both she and senior staffers also said fatigue and wants to be with family. But with all the history, exactly what does she bring to the Obama campaign? And is it unusual to put someone in as chief of staff for a vice presidential candidate who hasn't been picked yet?

MILBANK: Well, I mean, there is some logic to it. It's not as if he just brought in Geraldine Ferraro or something. It isn't - the campaign definitely wants to have one of its people in charge of whoever the vice presidential nominee will be. So, it's not surprising from that point of view. Also, she is a very high profile Latino. This is an element of the electorate that has been eluding Barack Obama. If she can help him in that way, that's much more valuable than anything she can do for the running mate.

OLBERMANN: Michelle Obama's chief of staff also announced, and it is somebody else from other Democratic campaigns past, Stephanie Cutter. Her resume included communications director to Senator Kerry in his bid in 2004. Is this the idea here that the Obama campaign is serious in bringing in every possible group from the Democratic party, no matter how diverse, or is it staffing the senator's wife with an eye towards her coming under attack during the campaign or both or what?

MILBANK: I think it's the latter, mostly. I speak as a friend of Stephanie's and I can say with affection that she is a real killer. You want to have her in your corner. It may mean they anticipate Michelle Obama will come under attack even more than she has already. The Internet is exploding with all kinds of unfounded rumors about her. And it also indicates that they may want somebody with some experience keeping an eye on her, making sure that the potential first lady doesn't pop off in some undesirable way.

OLBERMANN: Senator McCain, there's nothing wrong with him calling for joint town hall meetings here. But why knee cap his own argument with an exaggeration of the basic premise for it. That was not a commitment from Kennedy. It's pretty clear from that. If Goldwater said that 20 years after the fact and 20 years ago, why exaggerate it?

MILBANK: Well, I think he wants to put some historical gloss on it. He started out with Lincoln/Douglas and realized they didn't have airplanes, moved on to Kennedy/Goldwater. The truth is he probably doesn't need to give that kind of gloss to it. It's a powerful idea. He's applying some pressure to Obama. And if Obama's smart about it, he'll accept and suggest you moderate these forums.

OLBERMANN: Great. Dana Milbank of MSNBC and the "Washington Post."

Thank you, Dana.

MILBANK: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: To explain what we've been seeing on the screen, that's Chauncey Billups, the NBA player of the - originally with Detroit, with the Pistons. Helping - the reason that there is such a shot there, such an excitement as he came out. There is Mr. Billups up close, awaiting his introduction of Senator Obama and former Vice President Gore. When we return, we'll see it.


OLBERMANN: A Gore endorsement of Obama finally, that's next, but first time for Countdown's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.

The show medal tonight to the National Press Club in Washington, which is still remarkably planning to give a podium to a guy to hold a news conference there the day after tomorrow to a man who has already failed a lie detector test and is going to stand up and make slanderous accusations against a presidential candidate. The press club argues that it is merely renting space here. Somebody has also forgotten that it is also renting its good name, its reputation, its credibility. The character assassin appears to have an excuse, he is a character assassin. The press club evidently is doing it for the money.

Our silver medalist, Monica Crowley (ph), the former prominent radical right commentator, filling in on radio and going over the top, well, even for her. Taken that "New York Times" story about the Clinton enemies list and turning it into, quote, "if you're backing the hope guy, too bad for you and it will be too bad for you because girlfriend will cut you. She will strap you into the electric chair, then she will water board you. Then she will slowly and methodically pull off each one of your toe nails. Then she will deprive you of sleep by blasting the best of '80s hair bands at you. Then she will cut off your manhood."

OK. A, if that's humor, there is more evidence why conservatives should not try it. B, if it is not, please leave your Gitmo fantasies at home. C, frankly, if I was the Clintons, I would have a list, too. I'm not talking about its practical impact. I'm not talking about its long-term value to those who compiled it. I'm just saying, I say I would have a damn it list too.

Our winners, Fox News and its morning program. This is not the usual nonsense. This is about class or its lack. You want to do a segment dismissing the late Tim Russert as a member of the liberal media? You want to continue to feed the delusions of your viewers that the failures of their lives are the fault of someone else, like TV news, and not their own responsibility? You want to find an excuse for the daily two-minute hate and this time it's got to be Tim and whoever might succeed him? Go ahead, it's what you do. It's the only thing you're even vaguely good at.

But for god's sake, do you have to do it the first morning of the first week day after the man has died? Could you not shut the spigot off just for a little while. Could you not wait until after we have the funeral? Of course you couldn't. You're Fox News and you are the worst persons in the world.


AL GORE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This election matters more than ever because America needs change more than ever.

After eight years of lost jobs and lower wages, we need change. After eight years of incompetence and neglect and failure, we need change. After eight years in which our Constitution has been dishonored and disrespected, we need change. After eight years of the worst, most serious foreign policy mistakes in the entire history of our nation, we need change.

In September of 2002, I argued strongly that the invasion of a country that had not attacked us would be a mistake and would divert attention, resources and resolve from the efforts to track down and capture those who had attacked us. I argued that the occupation of Iraq would be dangerous and harmful for our country. And I well remember how few elected officials were willing to take that position in favor of protecting our national security, by remaining focused on the right objective.

But I remember that an eloquent legislator in Springfield, Illinois named Barack Obama spoke up boldly and clearly with the voice of reason and logic to join in opposition to that blunder. To those who still do not understand that the withdrawal of troops from the search for bin Laden in order to launch a misguided invasion of Iraq was a mistake, it's time to say, we need a change.

To those who want to continue making that same mistake, over and over again, indefinitely, it is important for us to say, loudly and clearly, with our votes this November, we need change. We intend to have change.

CROWD: We need change! We need change! We need change! We need change! We need change!

GORE: To those who want to continue borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf and burn it in ways that destroy our planet's environment, it's time to say, we need change. Barack Obama knows that we are too dependent on foreign oil and carbon fuels, and has proposed a plan to create millions of good new jobs in renewable green energy, conservation, and efficiency.

Here in Detroit, you know we need to revitalize our automobile industry with a commitment to plug in hybrids and low emission vehicles, to solve the climate crisis and create the jobs of the future.

The future is ours, not to predict, but to create. But make no mistake, we need to change our policies on climate. Not too many years from now, the next generation will look back at the decisions we make this coming November and the policies we put in place in January of next year. Were we to ignore the warnings of the scientists around the world and look the other way as the entire north polar ice cap melts before our eyes and the consequences we have been warned about unfolded, our children might then well ask what were they thinking? Why didn't they act? Why didn't they choose change when they had a chance?

It is my deep hope that they will ask another and very different question. I want them to look back on this historic year and ask, how did Americans in 2008 find the moral courage to rise and successfully solve the crisis that so many said was impossible to solve? How did they find the strength to change?

As Americans, we know that our democracy often moves very slowly. But we also know that when we must, we can shift gears quickly and suddenly pick up the pace to respond boldly to a great challenge. That's what the greatest generation did to win World War II, and then came home to start the Marshal Plan, unify Europe, create the United Nations and create the basis is for peace and prosperity for decades.

Many people have waited for some sign that our country is awakening once again. How will we know when a massive wave of reform and recovery and regeneration is about to take hold and renew our nation? What would it look like if such a change were beginning to build?

I think we might recognize it as a sign of such change if we saw millions of young people getting involved for the first time in the political process. I think we might just recognize that if we saw that new generation casting aside obsolete and hurtful distinctions and reaching out to one another across the ancient divisions that have frustrated action in the past. I think we would know change was coming if a new generation rejected the special interest politics of the past, and the big money that fueled it, and instead used the Internet to get small donations and unite Americans in a common effort to realize our common destiny.

If we saw it coming, we'd recognize it by the words hope and change. Perhaps we would recognize it if we heard a young leader rise up to say, we're not a red state America or a blue state America; we are the United States of America. We would know that change was on the way if that young leader reached out, not only to the supporters of the other candidates in his party, but also beyond partisan lines to Republicans and independents and said to us all, America, our time has come.

I think we would recognize it in a candidate who in response to those doubting our ability to solve the climate crisis, and create a bright future, inspired millions to say: yes, we can. We have such a nominee. We have such a leader.

Yes we can. Ladies and gentlemen, the next president of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this the 1,874th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.