Tuesday, September 30, 2008

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday September 30, 2008
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons

Guest: Chris Kofinis, Margaret Carlson, Nate Silver, Eugene Robinson

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? A different kind of bailout Obama proposes protecting account holders member: FDIC.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've proposed raising this insurance, the FDIC limit to $250,000 - a step that would boost small businesses and make our banking system more secure.


OLBERMANN: McCain promptly proposes raising the FDIC insurance guarantee to $250,000. And even admits Obama proposed it first.

The Republican disconnect. For the second consecutive day, the McCain campaign releases an ad blaming Obama for the financial crisis while his own candidate claims now is not the time to blame anybody for the financial crisis.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are not finger pointing and trying to place the blame rather than trying to fix the problem.


OLBERMANN: McCain's far bigger problem, Nate Silver at 538.com reads an Electoral College outcome of-Obama, 330; McCain, 207. He is our special guest.

And, the peck of Palin problems. Now she's gone and hit Senator Biden because Biden has been in the Senate since she was in the second grade, evidently forgetting that Biden is six years younger than Senator McCain.


GOV. SARAH PALIN, (R) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, no, it's nothing negative at all. He's got a lot of experience and just stating the fact here, that we've been hearing his speeches for all these years.


OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, Murdoch's "Wall Street Journal" reports she tanked two practice debates and the rumors still swirl that, when asked by Katie Couric to address any Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade, the governor couldn't think of one. Somebody versus somebody, anyone, anyone - - Bush versus somebody, Bush versus Gore, which anyone upheld or denied. Anyone, anyone know the effect?

And the effect. One of prominent conservatives, former George W. Bush speech writer compares you to the most derided vice president of a generation says, quote, "Dan Quayle never in his life has performed as badly as Sarah Palin in the last month."


DAN QUAYLE, FORMER SENATOR: Add one little bit on the end.

(INAUDIBLE). All right.


OLBERMANN: All that and more: Now on Countdown.

(on camera): Good evening. This is Tuesday, September 30th, 35 days until the 2008 presidential election.

That "man cannot be in two places at once," is one of the axioms of the universe. As a metaphor for opinion, though, a politician disproves it an average of once every 6 ½ hours.

McCain today somehow managed to be in three places at once.

Our fifth story on the Countdown: The Republican nominee with a metaphysical hat trick. He's insisted again, this is not the time to be allocating blame for the bailout failure. His campaign about a quarter of an hour later, releasing a commercial blaming Obama for the bailout failure. And the Republican Party issuing its own commercial that only showed up today, blaming Obama for the passage of the bailout, the one that didn't pass.

Senator McCain tonight is in three places at once.

The day after the bailout washout, McCain still reeling from having claimed personally credit for the passage of the bailout yesterday before the bailout did not pass yesterday.

The Dow, however, rebounding, closing up 485 points, its best day in six years. The FDIC moving to shore up confidence in the banks by proposing an increase in the federal deposit insurance limit, an idea first proposed early this morning in a press release from Senator Obama.


OBAMA: Up to $100,000 in the bank, your money is safe. And that guarantee is more than adequate for most families, and certainly most college students. But, it's insufficient for many small businesses to meet their payroll, or buy their supplies, and create new jobs.

The current insurance limit of $100,000 was set 28 years ago. It's not been adjusted for inflation. So, I've proposed raising this insurance, the FDIC limit to $250,000 - a step that would boost small businesses and make our banking system more secure.


OLBERMANN: Senator McCain seeing his opponent's deposit insurance increase and raising him one presidential name drop.


MCCAIN: I talked to the president this morning. We have to increase as Senator Obama suggested from $100,000 to $250,000 insured deposits.


OLBERMANN: Senator Obama today talking with President Bush, too. So, what else does the Republican nominee have in his arsenal? How about another plan for some, or flee for some bipartisan blame-free problem solving?


MCCAIN: This may be and is the greatest financial crisis of our lives. And we have to act and we have to act together in a bipartisan fashion. I'm committed to that. And I'm committed to doing whatever is necessary in a bipartisan fashion and it will be plenty of time to point the finger of blame. There will be plenty of time and I'll be glad to talk about some of that blame.


OLBERMANN: And time, apparently, about 10 minutes later.

That sound byte may be ringing less hollow tonight had the Republican Party not released a new ad attacking Senator Obama for the bailout, the bailout already implemented. That's correct. The entire ad edited and sent out before the bailout package failed in the House yesterday. And there is the ad that the McCain campaign itself produced and sent out. Some of that, hear it now.


NARRATOR: John McCain fought to rein in Fannie and Freddie. The "Post" says McCain pushed for stronger regulation, while Mr. Obama was notably silent.


OLBERMANN: In an interview with our Lee Cowan, Mr. Obama is saying House Democrats kept up their end of the deal to pass the rescue plan without placing blames squarely on the other side. The Democratic nominee is talking about their individual styles during the crisis without going on the attack.


OBAMA: We will recall that when Senator McCain suggested he would suspend his campaign and we go to Washington, it created a sort of a flurry of media. But, what we didn't see is the kind of focus on just getting the job done that was necessary. And that's why I've deliberately tried to stay behind the scenes in the work that I've done.


OLBERMANN: Time now to call in our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent, of course, for "Newsweek" magazine.

Howard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: In an interview with ABC News today, Senator McCain actually denied he has criticized Senator Obama at all in the wake of the washout of the first bailout plan. Is it-is it possible that he believes that, or is he just saying that?

FINEMAN: You mean, is he aware of his surroundings?


FINEMAN: Yes. Well, of course. He knows what he did yesterday and the day before. And his whole staff really has been in attack mode for days, if not weeks, if not months, particulars to come. He's attacked Obama on Fannie and Freddie. He's attacked Obama on the bailout. He's attack Obama for doing too much or doing too little, depending on the circumstances.

It's what McCain does. It's what he has done and what he will continue to do, except in that sort of space of time where McCain is required to be a statesman, as is Obama, to get a piece of legislation passed that that most of the people who run the economy think is needed.

OLBERMANN: To the-to that space of time question, the increase on the FDIC insurance limit. Is this one of those instances where not only did the McCain campaign but the Bush administration in fact appear to have stepped in and co-opted one of Senator Obama's ideas as if it were their own?

FINEMAN: Well, yes. Although the idea has been rattling around for

quite sometime that it doesn't belong to any one party or any one

candidate, but the shrewd thing that Obama did very early this morning, I

think at 5:00 a.m., when they put out the press release, was to claim

ownership of it and put it right out there at an opportune time because

we're in a little lull here before the House and the Senate take up another

take up the bailout measure again or for the first time.

And I think it was very smart of Obama to, in the meantime, put some other ideas out there, very smart. And, and he got the political benefit of it because, basically, McCain had to give him credit for it.

OLBERMANN: With that RNC ad, the one that was cut and sent out before the bailout package failed, and then the McCain ad that followed the failure of the bailout package. Each of them criticizing Obama for two mutually exclusive things, it worked or it didn't work, who was wrong both ways.

It seems as if the Republicans had concluded it could safely attack a successful bailout plan. So, the strategy was and is-what? Attack Obama on the bailout no matter which way it turns out?

FINEMAN: Well, not just attack Obama, although that's a big part of it. It's that the Republicans have a problem, Keith, and we've been talking about it on the show for days, which is that a lot of the Republican base philosophically is opposed to what this bailout is all about. And the Republican-the Republican leadership has had is convincing their own rank-and-file to go for it.

What the RNC is doing is campaigning in the red states and among the hard core Republicans against the same bill that its leadership thinks it needs to support here in Washington. So, yes, and in the meantime, they're going to attack Obama in either case depending on the audience they're addressing. They're not unique in doing that, they're just probably less skillful than some have been in recent years in doing so.

OLBERMANN: And now, the newest developments in this, since the market did not tank again today, recouped some, maybe about half of what it lost realistically yesterday, what incentive do the Democrats now have to do anything more than some sort of temporary stop-gap until after the election, because-obviously, we're hearing that the Senate is going to vote tomorrow night.

Senator Biden will be there. Senator Obama will be there. Senator McCain will be there. But if Senate Democrats are not questioning what they have to gain right now by rushing to this some sort of additional bailout deal, why on earth are they not questioning that?

FINEMAN: Well, I put that question to one of them just a few minutes ago, Keith. And their answer, believe it or not, is, they think that the measure would be good for the country. They were so scared by what Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke have told them over the last couple of weeks in these meetings.

First, about the AIG bailout situation and then about economy in general, and the credit crisis, that they're convinced that this is necessary, changed as it's been. So, that's their answer also. The want to leave (ph) - they're hoping that Obama is going to win and they want to leave him with the economy that isn't totally in the tank and they think this will help.

OLBERMANN: Yes, I don't know about introducing this as good for the country thing into a presidential election. You may be run out of town on a rail.


FINEMAN: It's a radical notion, I know.

OLBERMANN: William Jennings Brian suddenly shows up on the other box. Howard Fineman, not William Jennings Brian of "Newsweek" and MSNBC, thank you, Howard.

FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: In the absence of a deal to prop up lenders, at least yet, or fix the underlying problems, Senator McCain today was asked why he has not suspended his campaign again after his previous suspension failed to the yield results. He suggested to our Kelly O'Donnell that a repeat suspension is not off the table.


MCCAIN: I'll do whatever is necessary and I'm pleased to have participated in trying to help this process along. I'll continue to do that. But whether it means coming back to Washington or whatever, I'll do that.


OLBERMANN: It should come as little surprise if McCain does re-suspend his campaign. It was only September 1st when Hurricane Gustav forced the senator to deny the sight of President Bush and Cheney campaigning for him on day one of the Republican convention in person. No such suspension or campaign alteration was necessary for Hurricane Ike.

Then you go back to 2000, it turned out, McCain threatened to drop out of a debate then too, caving to at the last minute to participate via video. That not enough to say the campaign that started strongly in March of 1999 when he shot up in the polls after announcing that the start of war in Kosovo a week earlier meant that, yes, he had to suspend the official launch of his campaign, and he did interview after interview to assure everyone that winning the war was more important than winning the election.

Let's turn now to Democratic strategist, Chris Kofinis, former communication director on the Edwards campaign.

Chris, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Well, this may not be an easily yes or no question. But does McCain think voters are total idiots? That nobody is going to catch on to this after eight years of this sort of cynical and cyclical martyrdom addiction?

KOFINIS: You know, to be honest, I'm not sure that the McCain campaign or John McCain knows or has any idea what voters think anymore. I mean, I think strategically and if you look at current events, they seem to have taken over these campaigns. Strategically, they seem to have lost focus, erratic behavior and erratic message. And current events-wise, you know, they've seemed to completely miss the boat in terms of how serious this crisis is.

And I actually the think the debate in particular has shell shocked them. I think they thought they did well. Voters said they didn't. And now, I think they're struggling to find out how to talk to voters and they just don't have a very good message right now.

OLBERMANN: Is it possible that this is sincere? And I don't mean it as a complimentary use of that term. I mean, is there a sense that maybe there is another aspect besides political stuntmanship here that maybe McCain loves to present himself as sacrificing himself or his personal interest because that is a role that he has embraced in this movie of his life that he's acting out?

KOFINIS: I mean, it's definitely a narrative that they've been pushing the entire campaign. John McCain is a hero. And he clearly is a hero in terms of his military service. I think the problem is, in particular, in the terms of this bailout crisis, you know, the Calvary doesn't usually take 24 hours to get from New York to D.C. And you don't usually stop for a fine dining restaurant. And I think that's the problem here.

If the narrative, I think, is replaced smart strategy and smart messaging and what they should be thinking about is, "What are the policy positions that we could be telling voters, convincing voter that we have the right ideas?" I think it tells you something that they're focusing on the narrative and less so on the policy.

OLBERMANN: When John Adams might have gotten faster from New York to Washington than Senator McCain, then I think there's a problem there.

But-whatever is at the heart of this impulse here, whether it is addiction or melodrama or cynical stuntmanship, what would it tell us? What sort of crystal ball does it drive us about the way McCain would govern as president?

KOFINIS: Well, I think the way you have to-if you look at the last week or so, in terms of his erratic behavior and the erratic behavior of the campaign, I think, one word to describe it is "frightening." I think what the American people want in particular during a crisis is a president that stays focused, is calm, and really understands the scope of the problem.

And I think what you're seeing from the campaign in terms of their behavior, this notion of suspending the campaign, not suspending the campaign, interjecting themselves in these bailout discussions, taking themselves out of these bailout discussions-it's a campaign that's almost in chaotic panic. And it doesn't calm fears, it actually creates them. And I think it's really hurt their campaign.

OLBERMANN: Yes, but when that "Batman signal" goes up in the sky, he's ready.

Chris Kofinis, Democratic strategist-thank you for your time, Chris.

KOFINIS: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: And then there's the vice presidential nominee. The first reported results of her mock debates-they're not good. Her advised debate preparations being conducted-well, you won't believe in what topographical setting McCain campaign says they're being conducted. And confirmation tonight that she has been asked on camera to name and comment on an important Supreme Court ruling-still awaiting confirmation that she couldn't think of one.


OLBERMANN: Governor Palin reportedly crashes and burns during two mock debates and reportedly talks about humans and dinosaurs living on earth simultaneously and blast Joe Biden for being too experienced or too old, but that has nothing to do with John McCain who's six years older, to say nothing of the dinosaurs.

And Katie Couric confirms she did ask Governor Palin about key Supreme Court decisions besides Roe v. Wade and they'll play the answer tomorrow, while an anonymous campaign aide validates reports that the governor's answer was silence.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: The most recent and astonishing Sarah Palin event is one we have yet to see. It is an exchange wherein Katie Couric asked the governor about major Supreme Court decisions. Asked to cite one besides Roe v. Wade, Governor Palin reportedly falls silent. No Brown v. Board of Education, Plessy v. Ferguson, not even Bush v. Gore. None of the customary non sequiturs nor Tina Fey-esque stammering, simply crickets.

According to Politico.com, an unnamed Palin aide is supposedly furious at CBS for leaking the contents of the interview. Ms. Couric confirmed the topic but not the answer. And that CBS will air it alongside Senator Joe Biden's answer to the same questions. It will happen tomorrow night.

Our fourth story on the Countdown: And then Camp Palin has a debate on Thursday, one that includes a cram session under way now at John McCain's Sedona, Arizona compound. One of his eight homes - 11, four, whatever.


OLBERMANN: Sourcing senior advisers, Rupert Murdoch's "Wall Street Journal" today reporting that after Palin flubbed two quasi-mock debates, and faltered during the CBS interviews, the McCain camp moved its own top officials inside her operation and they fled to the ranch.

The story also portrays her husband Todd as worried. This, as McCain does his part to keeps the bar low by reminding our Kelly O'Donnell that the public's appreciation for her is, quote, "not because she has got a PhD from Harvard. She doesn't."

Governor Palin doing just fine in that department, here she is yesterday at a rally in Columbus, Ohio talking about Senator Biden.


PALIN: I've never met him before, but I've been hearing about his Senate speeches since I was in like second grade.



OLBERMANN: And here's Katie Couric with that "gotcha" journalism of hers.


KATIE COURIC, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: You said you've been listening to Joe Biden's speeches since you were in second grade, something like that?

PALIN: It's been like '72, yes.

COURIC: And when you have a 72-year-old running mate. Is that a kind of a risky thing to say, insinuating that Joe Biden has been around for a while?

PALIN: Oh, no, it's nothing negative at all. He's got a lot of experience and just stating the fact here, that we've been hearing his speeches for all these years. So, he's got a tremendous amount of experience. And, you know, I'm the new energy, the new face, the new ideas, and he's got the experience based on many, many years in the Senate. And voters are going to have a choice there and what it is they want for the next four years.


OLBERMANN: It's worth noting that while elected in 1972, when he was elected that year, Joe Biden was more than six years younger than John McCain was at that point-and he still is.

Margaret Carlson of "Bloomberg News," Washington editor of "The Week" magazine, joins us now.

Margaret, good evening.


OLBERMANN: To imply that your own opponent is too old and too experienced while the other person on your own ticket is older and has been running on experience, how does anybody do that without passing out from the exhaustion of the required mental gymnastics?

CARLSON: Yes. Well, it's hard enough for me to keep one thing in my mind straight, much less two conflicting things in my mind. And I don't think she'll be able to, you know, keep those straight for long. But she has a few words in her mind. Experience, young-inexperienced, young, and she wants to convey that about Obama and then the other about Biden.

But it simply doesn't-it's-it doesn't-it doesn't gain any traction. I'm sure now, at this very moment, by the creek in Sedona where she's practicing, they're saying, don't do that one again.

OLBERMANN: And you mentioned the creek-we sort of haven't given that away. But that's-in fact, she is practicing-she's the one in the baseball cap on the right practicing for these mock debates, (A), outdoors, (B), near a creek. One of the premises of psychology for tests is, try if you can to study in the exam room because when the actual test starts, you feel as comfortable as if it already started. So they're prepping her near a creek.

CARLSON: Well, go figure. But, part of the stick coming out of the McCain campaign is that Sarah Palin hasn't been allowed to be Sarah Palin. And that's what hampered her in these really tough interviews-which, by the way, there have been no tough interviews.


CARLSON: So, they're letting her be her by being outside and not cramping her in some room like a United States senator might be in.

OLBERMANN: Well, OK. I just don't know how that's going to be translated into the actual event, unless Senator Biden is inside the arena and, at Washington University and Governor Palin is like out on the street or something.

CARLSON: You'll hear gurgling water in the background.


OLBERMANN: Well, you know, maybe one of those white noise machines that has the various different settings. The interview has been dismissed. It was a right wing radio interview with the governor today, then they dismissed as pop quizzes that were designed to trip her up.

Is it possible that we're misperceiving something here? Is this seen somehow as an asset to her candidacy or not detraction? I mean, her first answer in this radio interview. She twice referred to herself as "Joe Six Pack." Is that really the pitch here that everybody who is not personally qualified to be vice president will say, "I like her because she isn't qualified either and it's time one of us got that job"?

CARLSON: Well, that's-that's the reasoning that's going on out there. I went to an event that Sarah Palin was in and I asked people in the crowd. And they all made a point of how much she was like them. Now, I don't want anybody like me anywhere near the White House.


CARLSON: So, it's not a qualification I would support. But, you know, you never lose by running against the media. That's a quick hit. You get something for that.

And anybody who watches that Katie Couric interview-Couric was more like a therapist than a journalist. I expected her to say our hour is up now-hold that thought. And, by the way, the luck of the draw is she has Gwen Ifill as the moderator on Thursday. So she's got a woman.

It's much harder to accuse somebody of Gwen Ifill's personality of being gotcha. And the questions are not of the sort. I mean, they are questions that come out of the news and out of what you'd expect anybody to know, like the Supreme Court.


CARLSON: Now, Joe Biden would know more. And he's chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. However, there's a historical list that would come to mind-like Marbury versus Madison or Dred Scott or, you know, something that we learned in school that isn't gotcha at all. It's just our common understanding of our history.

OLBERMANN: Dred Scott. Margaret Carlson of "Bloomberg News," like the rest of us on pins and needles about Thursday night. Thank you, again, Margaret.

CARLSON: Thanks. Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: McCain in the Membrane. The GOP county chair in New York who forwards an e-mail suggesting the "Book of Revelation" says Obama is the anti-Christ even though it's called the "Book of Revelation" and it doesn't say that.

And, bears anatomy. I know ABC is desperate to find a successful "Grey's" spin-off. But that right there at the door, that's ridiculous.


OLBERMANN: Membrane in a moment and evidence suggesting part of the McCain campaign is scripted by Fox News. First, 20 years ago today, a television event with no script, perhaps the most excruciating interview, at least before Sarah Palin heard the call of public service. Heavy weight champ Mike Tyson, heavily medicated, sitting almost paralyzed as his then wife Robin Givens told Barbara Walters that life with him was, quote, torture, pure hell, worse than anything I could possibly imagine. But again, that's B.G., before governor. Let's play oddball.


OLBERMANN: We begin at Lake Tahoe, where this bear walks into a hospital and says, hey, doc, I think I'm sick. And the doctor says, why the big paws? It's the ugly side of all the bear falling out of tree video we bring you in this show. It's a bear seeking medical attention. The staff at Barton Memorial stayed calm as old Yogi plopped down between a pair of automatic doors. Sadly, the hospital does not participate in this bear's HMO, so he left and disappeared into the woods. Incidentally, neither major presidential candidates' health care plan address bear insurance, which makes the new third party Pooh '08 campaign that much more attractive.

To Kendall, England, where life could not get any better for 18 year old bar maid Eanthe Fulliger (ph). A recent high school graduate who capped off her first summer of freedom by winning the lottery. Miss Fulliger is one of 15 to win Friday's Euro Lottery jackpot. Her ticket is worth seven million pounds. She said she was ecstatic when she discovered her good fortune, and was determined to keep the winning ticket somewhere safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It went all sorts of places. My grandparents kept it in a jewelry box. It did spend a lot of time in my bra to keep it safe.

OLBERMANN: Thank goodness she didn't one of those instant win things where they just hand you a roll of bills. No truth to the rumor that she'll will spend some of the money now to have her name changed to Pirates of Penzance Fulliger. That's a Gilbert and Sullivan joke for three of you.


OLBERMANN: The polls still look close, but a website using statistical reduction celebrates the first day of early voting in Ohio by forecasting an 83 percent chance of an Obama victory. Nate Silver joins us next.

Meantime, the latest Palin problems, as a former Bush speech writer says comparing the governor to Dan Quayle is an insult to Dan Quayle.

First, the most outrageous or untrue things said by or on behalf of Republican presidential nominee John McCain, McCain in the membrane.

Number three, talking points. Who's writing them for the senator? His visceral advice on the economic bailout, quote, "the first thing I do is say, let's not call it a bailout. Let's call it a rescue because it is a rescue." Where did he get that? Last Tuesday on Fixed News, Fred Barnes said, quote, "we would be in a better situation, at least the Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson would, if this was known as a rescue instead of a bailout. A bailout sounds terrible. Who's for a bailout? A lot of people are for a rescue."

Not only is McCain getting his talking points from Fox Noise. But judging by how slowly he is employing them, they're evidently being sent by ground mail.

Number two, McCain versus the anti-Christ. The Republican chairwoman for Duchess County, New York confirms that she forwarded an e-mail to more than two dozen McCain supporters. The e-mail makes an oblique reference to Senator Obama and asks whether or not he is the Biblical anti-Christ. Quoting the 13th chapter of the Book of Revelations, it claims scripture said the anti-Christ would be a man with Christ's popularity, but of Muslim descent in his 40s. And it asks, do we recognize this description?

Several problems here. First it's called the Book of Revelation, not Revelations. Second, there is no such description in that book or any other part of the Bible. Third, to their credit, several Republican leaders in the area around Beacon, New York, were offended, demanded the resignation of Corinne Weber (ph), who claimed she didn't read the e-mail, she just forwarded it.

Number one, you don't say that in public. The second Katie Couric interview with Senator McCain auditing hinged on McCain's contention during the debate that Senator Obama had threatened to invade Pakistan and McCain's insistence that you don't do that; you don't say that out loud. Then Governor Palin promptly said the same thing out loud in public. There was a lot of smoke about gotcha journalism and gee, the answer didn't count because it was only to a voter and not to Tom Brokaw.

Lost in this is McCain's pained condescending insistence, repeated to Couric, that Obama was somehow unqualified to president because he talked about not invading Pakistan, but running counter-terror missions if the Pakistanis would not. In October of 2001, McCain was asked about our action in Afghanistan and this country's statement at the U.N. that we were reserving the right to strike elsewhere in the region. He said, "very obviously, Iraq is the first country, but there are others, Syria, Iran, the Sudan."

Then on David Letterman's show, back before he was canceling on Dave and lying to Dave about why, McCain added that things were going fine in Afghanistan and, quote, "the second phase is Iraq."

The senator's crass hypocrisy is entertaining on some levels, but in a more serious vain it emphasizes that his phrase, you don't do that, you don't say that out loud might be best applied by Senator McCain to anything that comes into his own head.


OLBERMANN: It sounds excruciatingly familiar to anybody who can remember as far back as 2004, Republicans trying to stop same day voter registration and photographing license plates to try and prove voter fraud. This in our third story on the Countdown, as early voting gets under way in the state that gave George Bush the last election, Ohio. Most polling sites reporting light traffic today. In a totally unscientific poll, the Associated Press asked five people at one site who they chose. Two picked Obama, the other three unknown.

Nationally, the latest Gallup tracking poll putting Obama ahead of McCain 49/43, a six point lead echoed by the latest Hotline Daily Tracking Poll, which has the Democrat at 47 and the Republican 41. Senator Obama also currently leading where it counts, in the electoral college. According to NBC's latest projections, he has 212 votes he can count on. Senator Obama (sic) has 174; 152 more still to be determined from the tossup states.

According to the website FiveThirtyEight.com, which projects the electoral vote using a mathematical formula derived from multiple polls and thousands of simulations, the Democratic nominee is clearly in the lead, 330.6 electoral votes to Senator McCain's 207.4. Joining us once again, the founder of FiveThirtyEight.com, named for the 538 electoral votes, Nate Silver. Good evening, Nate.


OLBERMANN: We'll get to the electoral college projections in a moment. First this early voting in Ohio. Do you see it having a significant impact on this election? If so, what kind?

SILVER: I think it will help the more organized campaign, which in this case is Obama's. If you go back to the primaries, they understood the delegate math. They understood the caucuses, where you sit in a room in a high school gym and go from corner to corner. They know how to manipulate this stuff and get areas like college campuses or the city of Cleveland, where you have a concentration of people. I think they'll turn a little bit more of their vote out in Ohio, yes.

OLBERMANN: The early reports of Republican lawyers trying to prove voter fraud, a day after the GOP had lost a bid to prevent the same day registration and voting process, whichever way Ohio eventually goes, are the Republicans trying to lay the ground for a recount? And will it be close enough to matter?

SILVER: Well, it might be close enough. You have so many battleground states this year, between Ohio and Virginia and Florida, that you're probably going to have a recount somewhere. Whether it's decisive or not, we don't know. The difference this year is Democrats actually own a lot of the governors mansions in states like Ohio and Virginia. They have the secretary of state there, which wasn't true with Harris in Florida in 2000. So if you have a recount, they might have kind of the home field advantage, which they didn't have the last two cycles.

OLBERMANN: We're just advised that the state Supreme Court in Ohio has just upheld tonight the lower court ruling, and the GOP has lost its bid to prevent that same-day registration and voting. So it will continue in Ohio.

The national election and your projections. Obama's clearly in the lead in polling. There's one, I think, out there that still has McCain by two. But the rest are pretty close to the margin of error in Obama's favor. How do you factor in early voting in Ohio and elsewhere, given that Ohio could be 300,000 early voters, by some estimates? How do you figure the early voting into your analysis?

SILVER: We hope the pollsters will figure that in, where you have registered voters and then likely voters. But people who have already voted are in a class by themselves, 100 percent guaranteed in the bag vote. In a state like California during the Democratic primary, Obama kind of closed late, but the polls overestimated how well he was going to do because Clinton had banked so many votes in California. They had early voting, by mail voting. So it's more difficult for McCain to overcome Obama's lead now, when he's locking in votes when he is five or six points ahead nationally. It's just one more hurdle for him to clear.

OLBERMANN: We mentioned your electoral college map and how clearly ahead with what a large margin Senator Obama has. You're also calculating that he has an 82.8 percent win percentage. First off, what is, in politics, if not baseball, a win percentage, and what would have to shift to change that to a lesser number?

SILVER: Well, that is a projection of what we think will happen in November. We've looked going back to see what's it mean to have a five point lead with 35 days to go. It actually really means quite a bit. If you go back for the past since 1960, the only candidate that came from that far back was Ronald Reagan in 1980, who actually not only came back, but wound up winning by eight or nine or ten points. So the odds are pretty good.

It's not my job to manage expectations. That's the Obama campaign's job. But with the focus going with the economy, with McCain's greatest strength on the economy not really translating there-people don't give him an experience, a competence edge on the bailout, on the economy. They need some new trick to stick. And right now, they're kind of moving in the wrong direction.

OLBERMANN: So 82.8 percent win percentage means 82.8 percent chance Obama wins in some way, shape or form?

SILVER: That he's number 44, correct. That includes scenarios where he loses the popular vote and wins the electoral college, and vice versa on the McCain side. He's about a five to one favorite right now, as far as I can tell.

OLBERMANN: And those votes where it comes down to-movies that come down to one voter winning with Kevin Costner passing the deciding vote. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, it's always fascinating. Thank you.

SILVER: Yes, of course, Keith.

OLBERMANN: How does Sarah Palin compare to Dan Quayle? A top conservative is furious that anybody thinks Dan Quayle was that bad. And you might blame the banks and McCain might blame Obama, but a Minnesota Congresswoman knows who's really at fault for the financial crisis, African Americans. Worst persons ahead.

But first the headlines breaking in the administration's 50 running scandals, Bushed! Gitmo-gate, the fourth military prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay to resign from those posts has now issued an affidavit about the case that drove him over the edge. Lieutenant Colonel Derrill Vandeveld (ph) was told to prosecute an Afghan named Mohammed Jowad (ph). Vandeveld moved to present all evidence, including exculpatory evidence to Jowad's defense. His bosses said he could not do that that. What was that evidence? That when arrested after allegedly throwing a grenade at US Soldiers in 2002, Jowad was younger than 18. He had been forced to fight against this country and may have been drugged to join the terrorist group. When the lieutenant colonel suggested a plea deal, by which Jowad could serve a little bit more time, while undergoing some rehab, the U.S. military not only rejected the deal, but it ordered Lieutenant Colonel Vandeveld to undergo a mental status evaluation.

In George Bush's America we have descended to this: suggest for a moment the innocence of a terror detainee or offer a compromise to make his life useful, and it is assumed you might be crazy, which you may recall is the way they treated political protesters in the Soviet Union.


OLBERMANN: You've heard of worst than Watergate and worse than you could possibly imagine, but worse than Dan Quayle? A prominent conservative's assessments of Sarah Palin ahead. But first time for Countdown's number two story, tonight's worst person in the world.

Tonight, the bronze to two armed robbers in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. They hijacked an armored car and stole 18 bags of currency, the equivalent of 1.3 million inside. It was apparently an inside job, but apparently not a very well thought out one. They transferred the money to their getaway car, which was too small to fit all of the money into. They had to leave nine of the bags by the side of the road.

Runner-up, Bill-O the clown. His new book A Large Steaming Piece of -

I'm sorry, "A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity." Part of it is devoted to the final episode of his favorite sitcom, "Seinfeld." He felt the last show was lame. "Since I'm pretty sure I understand the deep cynicism of head writer Larry David and also the middling cynicism of Jerry Seinfeld, I think these guys tanked the final episode on purpose. Using Johnny Carson's brilliant last program as a model, all the "Seinfeld" people had to do was assemble the cast for a one hour best moments special. Just let the characters kick it around, telling viewers what mattered to them and why, and then roll in the clips, give the folks some inside baseball as to how the show came together each week, and wrap it up with some bloopers."

Ahem, the two episodes of "Seinfeld" before the two part finale of "Seinfeld" were in fact a clip show called "The Clip Show." Way to knock it out of the park, slugger. Besides, I always thought Bill-O's favorite sitcom was "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" because of that anchor guy.

But the winner, the most un-American member in the American House of Representatives, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, Republican from Minnesota. She read into the Congressional record part of an article from the right wing publication "Investors Business Daily," which purports to explain the mortgage crisis by blaming a Clinton era rule change. Congressman Bachmann read aloud that the rule pushed, quote, "Fannie and Freddie to aggressively lend to minority communities to offer, quote, home ownership as a way to open the door for blacks and other minorities to enter the middle class."

In other words, Congresswoman Bachmann blamed the meltdown on blacks and other minorities. In other words, Congresswoman Bachmann is a racist! Congresswoman Bachmann of Minnesota, today's worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN: There is perhaps no greater conceivable rebuke; a former speech writer for the current president so dismayed by the current nominee for vice president that he has just said, in essence, Governor Palin, I knew Dan Quayle, and you're no Dan Quayle. In our number one story on the Countdown, Governor Palin must be wishing she could trade Mr. Quayle his potato for her everything else.

Like, Quayle, Governor Palin has already become known more for her mistakes. Quayle's quintessential whopper, as vice president, June 15, 1992, telling a sixth grader in Trenton, New Jersey, to add an E to his spelling of potato. "The story of Dan Quayle," now says conservative columnist David Frum, a former Bush speech writer, "is he probably did 1,000 smart things as vice president, but his image was locked and it was very difficult to turn around. And Dan Quayle never in his life has performed as badly as Sarah Palin in the last month. I think she has pretty thoroughly and probably irretrievably proven that she is not up to the job of being president of the United States."

Meantime, more Palin gems uncovered or confirmed by the "L.A. Times." Shortly after being elected mayor of Wasilla, Miss Palin discussed her religious beliefs with a local music teacher, telling him that, quote, "dinosaurs and humans walked the Earth at the same time." Such a belief would jibe with creationism or perhaps Governor Palin mistook "The Flinstones" for a documentary.

And on the "CBS Evening News," again tonight, Governor Palin, when asked what newspapers and magazines she has read.


PALIN: I've read most of them, again, with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.

KATIE COURIC, "CBS EVENING NEWS": Like what one specifically? I'm curious that you-

PALIN: All of them. Any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.

COURIC: Can you name them?

PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources.


OLBERMANN: That's a lot of newspapers. Let's bring in "Washington Post" columnist and associate editor and MSNBC political analyst Eugene Robinson. Gene, good evening. If you'd like to say hi to your faithful reader, Governor Palin, feel free.

EUGENE ROBINSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Really? I think she's busy "Le Monde" at the moment, "El Pais" of Spain and maybe Asah Shimbun (ph) of Tokyo.

OLBERMANN: And she goes to Pravda.com a lot. Of all of them, most of them, these hits just keep on coming. We have had a month of ceaseless news. All of it makes Governor Palin look barely awake, let alone barely qualified. Is it possible this is all a setup to lower the bar so much for Thursday's debate that as long as she does not loose a limb, the outcome is a push?

ROBINSON: Keith, you couldn't make all this stuff up, I don't think. It's-you know, but has the McCain camp, you know, intentionally or not, been able to lower expectations, you know, several floors below ground? I mean, they are really subterranean at this point. Sure, that has happened. If she does speak in complete sentences, I guess she'll be declared the victor of the debate. It's been incredible. I don't think a fiction writer would write this.

OLBERMANN: Still, these Quayle/Palin comparisons, the one that Mr.

Frum said today here, that's, as they say in the sports world, brutal.

ROBINSON: You know, it reminds you some of the Dan Quayle classics. You have to say, she's not Dan Quayle yet, because he had some style. He had some skills. My favorite, of course, is the United Negro College Fund slogan, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste," and Dan Quayle turned that into "what a waste it is to lose one's mind," which I think is just a classic of the genre.

OLBERMANN: And must more insightful about his own persona than the governor has been yet. This debate, again, we discussed this previously, but these preps-you have to look at this picture again. They decided to prep her near a creek to provide a relaxed environment, and to allow us to use the phrase up a creek without a paddle here. Is this a good idea? Is there a swimsuit competition? And if there is, should they not tell Joe Biden before it's too late?

ROBINSON: I confess, I have no idea what's going on here. Why go by the creek to practice the debate? It doesn't mesh for me. If it works for Sarah Palin, maybe it does. I don't know. I mean it's-this is going to be so interesting on Thursday. And, you know, I'm almost afraid to watch, just shudder to think what might happen. But it's going to be interesting.

OLBERMANN: And you still think if they pulled her off the ticket tomorrow, saying there's a family emergency and she has to withdraw, that the hit they would take would exceed the hit they will take if she does, in fact, come across like Mayor Winston from the Michael J. Fox TV series "Spin City."

ROBINSON: I just don't think they can pull her off the ticket at this point. I think the hit he would take from the far, far right would be just brutal, as you said. And he might not survive it. But then again, Keith, and let me quote Dan Quayle now: "I hereby stand by all the misstatements I have made." So I could be wrong.

OLBERMANN: You have a natural excuse of some sort. He could find another conservative, couldn't he?

ROBINSON: Well, yes, he could. He could. But Sarah Palin has an X factor, you know, that appeals to a lot of people, that has really energized the electorate in a way that Mitt Romney certainly wouldn't. I mean, she's-she has something there.

OLBERMANN: Gene, you're reading that out of a bunch of newspapers. And I'd like you to list all of them in the world. Just list them. We have ten seconds.

ROBINSON: Any of them that they bring to me, that they put in front of me, I read.

OLBERMANN: I read anything that's put in front of me, which means, if this fails, she has a job at Fox News. Gene Robinson of the "Washington Post" and MSNBC, great thanks.

ROBINSON: Good night, Keith.

OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this 1,980th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.


Monday, September 29, 2008

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday September 29, 2008
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons

Guests: Paul Krugman, Chris Hayes, Emily Heil

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

John McCain takes credit for the bailout, which is kind of embarrassing when the bailout then turns into a washout.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How remarkably some people have criticized my decision to put my country first.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This bill would not have been agreed to, had it not been for John McCain.

MCCAIN: But I'll never be a president who sits on the sidelines when this country faces a crisis.


OLBERMANN: The House scuttles the bailout, the stock market plummets what happens next? Should you be running to the bank in the morning? Move all your money into vintage comic books? Paul Krugman on what the next few days may look like, or a few years. And, who done it?


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH) MINORITY LEADER: We could have gotten there today had it not been for this partisan speech that the speaker gave on the floor of the House.

REP. BARNEY FRANK, (D-MA) HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE: Because somebody hurt their feelings, they decided to punish the country.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's important for the American public and for the markets to stay calm because things are never smooth in Congress, and to understand that it will get done.


OLBERMANN: Worst: Senator Obama makes the list. And Karl Rove says Governor Palin was over-prepared for the Couric interview.Meanwhile, the governor flunks geography again, said, "If necessary, our troop should absolutely going to Pakistan"- exactly what Senator McCain scolded Senator Obama for saying. McCain has to disavow his running mate. And will Tina Fey render Sarah Palin utterly implausible?



speaking with -

TINA FEY, ACTRESS (impersonating Gov. Sarah Palin): We are ill about this.

PALIN: Helping the -

FEY: It's got to be about -

PALIN: Job creation too -

FEY: Katie, I'd like to use one of my lifelines.



OLBERMANN: All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.


PALIN: I-you know -


OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Monday, September 29th, 36 days until the 2008 presidential election. Senator McCain and his advisors, who, last Wednesday, had warned that this nation would be in the midst of another Great Depression, by today-unless Congress passed the bailout legislation-this morning, claiming credit for building a winning coalition of votes in the House to pass that bailout bill, and thus, save the American economy. Only one problem. The bailout bill failed in the House when 67 percent of Republicans voted against it. The stock market promptly lost 7 percent of its value. Senator McCain-in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN-having led his party and his country to congressional chaos, and an economy in crisis. Mission accomplished. This morning, in Columbus, Ohio, the senator counting his "McChickens" before they make hatch.


MCCAIN: I know that many of you have noticed, it's not my style to simply phone it in.


MCCAIN: I believe our leaders belong in the arena, in the arena when our country faces a challenge, not on the road in Afghanistan.


MCCAIN: I've never been afraid of stepping in to solve problems for the American people and I'm not going to stop now.



OLBERMANN: In there, another disastrous metaphor for his campaign because phoning it in was all that Senator McCain had been doing over the weekend-staying in Washington, but not going to Capitol Hill. According to his senior advisor, Mark Salter, to CBS on Saturday, quote, "He can effectively do what he needs to do by phone. He's calling members on both sides, talking to people in the administration, helping out as he can," AKA: phoning it in. Back to Columbus, on our premature victory rally already in progress, Senator McCain mocking his opponent for the crime of monitoring the situation, yes, by telephone.


MCCAIN: At first, he didn't want to get involved. And then he was monitoring the situation. That's not leadership, that's watching from the sidelines.



OLBERMANN: Senator McCain happening to watch from the sidelines in Columbus, Ohio when it all fell apart early this afternoon. Seventy percent of Democrats voted for that bailout package, 67 percent of Republicans voted against it. And stocks fell off a cliff. The Dow is down 777 points. The biggest point-drop in history, though, hardly the biggest percentage drop. The GOP is blaming the other guys for the implosion. On MSNBC, McCain economic advisor, Douglas "BlackBerry" Holtz-Eakin, claiming that Senator Obama and the Democrats stopped Senator McCain from saving America. On the Hill, Minority Whip Blunt blaming the Jewish holidays; Minority Leader Boehner blaming mean, old, Speaker Pelosi.


BOEHNER: I do believe that we could have gotten there today had it not been for this partisan speech that the speaker gave on the floor of the House. I mean, we were, we've put everything we had into getting the votes to get there today, but the speaker had to give a partisan voice that poisoned our conference.


OLBERMANN: What was that voice? What was Speaker Pelosi's crime? Citing Bush administration policies that brought about the crisis.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: For too long, this government, in eight years, has followed a right-wing ideology of anything goes, no supervision, no discipline, no regulation. Again, all of us are believers in free markets, but we have to do it right.


OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, Congressman Frank of the financial services committee, dissecting the Republican attack.


FRANK: We have come together on a bill to alleviate the crisis. And because somebody hurt their feelings, they decide to punish the country.


OLBERMANN: To recap-Senator McCain, his advisers, and surrogates, like former Governor Romney, all claiming credit for the passage of the bailout bill before it washed out in a vote, then blaming Democrats in Congress and the Democratic nominee for failing to gather enough Republican votes. Finally, the (INAUDIBLE), the icing on the cake walk, coming with Senator McCain denouncing partisan attacks moments after his people had launched some of them.


MCCAIN: Senator Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship into the process. Now is not the time to fix the blame. It's time to fix the problem.


OLBERMANN: Senator Obama, meantime, aiming his message today, his one message today, to both parties.


OBAMA: One of the messages I have to Congress is get this done.

Democrats, Republicans, step up to the plate, get it done.


OLBERMANN: Time now to call in Mike Viqueira of MSNBC and NBC News, who spent the day, as he usually does, on Capitol Hill.

Mike, good evening.


OLBERMANN: All right. Senator McCain supported the bailout bill and claimed credit for its passage. And the White House wanted it. And Republican leadership of the House wanted it. So, what happened when it came to a vote, and suddenly, 2/3 of the Republicans voted against it?

VIQUEIRA: Well, you know, a lot have been made of this Republican accusation about that the speech Nancy Pelosi made on the floor. I can tell you that I was hanging around the chamber all day long, around the cloakrooms and the speaker's lobby, buttonholing anybody I could, and I did see John Boehner as Nancy Pelosi had finished that speech come out of the cloakroom.

And I asked him, as many people were asking everybody that they could find how does it look out there. And he looked at me and he said the speech Nancy gave didn't give us any help at all. They were literally in the back of the room trying to push people over the side on this thing. And Nancy Pelosi gave that speech. Now, whether that's a justified reason to vote against the bill, other people can decide that. There were treasury officials around the chamber as well, contemporaneously before the vote happened, who expressed the same misgivings about the tone that the speaker took. I think what you saw today, beyond all of that, all the repercussions, and all the recriminations, and all the blame game that has gone on in the wake of this catastrophe on Capitol Hill today, if you were a supporter of that bill-if you saw opposition, normally, the American political spectrum, people on the right, people on the left, was bent in to a circle today. So, people from opposite ends of the political spectrum-conservatives and liberals joining together in sort of a populism against the avarice and greed that their constituency has taken over Wall Street and led to this mess, outrage over the fact that it was a $700 billion bill that was literally being given to the same people that led us into this catastrophe, Keith.

OLBERMANN: What does Congress and the White House and the Treasury Department do now, Mike, and can they possibly do it fast enough if nobody is going to meet again until Thursday?

VIQUEIRA: Well, that's right. The House comes back in Thursday. The Senate is going to be in. But, of course, it's never, it's always been fairly certain that the Senate is going to pass this legislation if it ever comes to them.

We don't know what they are going to do. Some of the leadership has left town for the holidays. Some are going on to political travel for fundraising in the campaign for House figures and supporters, and people running for the House in their respective parties and will come back. That's not to say that people won't be consulting, madly working to find a way out of this. I think everybody on the Hill is going to be holding their breath to see what the markets do tomorrow. And certainly, not only the stock market, because the problem, as they described it, it goes much deeper than that, to the credit market, to student loans, to credit cards, to the point where some people are questioning we're going to be able to get money out of our ATMs this time next week, Keith.

OLBERMANN: All right. Putting all the politics aside and all of the manipulation and the machination that we saw in every corner of the political spectrum today, is it possible that there was simply not enough support for this bill as a bill? I mean, I don't want to be caught relying on Congresswoman Bachmann of Minnesota to be the reasonable portent of a storm (ph) here, but she said this was about the fact that it was a bad bill. Could it have just been honestly voted down on the idea that it's a bad bill?

VIQUEIRA: Well, I think what you saw was this process that was-there were false step from the beginning. Beginning with Secretary Paulson's three-page, now infamous three-page bill that he had set up on Saturday morning a week ago last Saturday, that gave him unchecked power that explicit said that no one, this should be non-reviewable by any outside entity. I think that struck the wrong tone. And Secretary Paulson, during the negotiations over the week, here's a man who was working as hard as he possibly could, no one on the Hill is going to take that away from him. Positions had to be called during the marathon session on Saturday but he did not take the right tone with the political-he has sort of a political tin ear on that issue and on the executive compensation issue, which everyone says he fought hard against limiting executive compensation. And so, there were missteps from the beginning. We don't know where we go from here, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Mike Viqueira in Washington, thank you, Mike.

VIQUEIRA: Certainly.

OLBERMANN: For more on the impact on the presidential election, let's turn now to our own Richard Wolffe, also, of course, senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine.

Richard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: All right. We know Senator McCain loves gambling. So, here's a gambling metaphor-the risk that he took was that if the bailout package tanked, after he promised that he could secure its passage, that he was harkening to Washington as Batman harkens to the bat message in the sky. If it didn't work out, he'd be left holding the mess. Did the Republican nominee just lose his bet?

WOLFFE: Well, let us count the ways he lost it. And first of all, he didn't lose it by the sort of finger-pointing and the blame game that goes on. Completely independent of everything that Mike has just explained so well, you have McCain failing to live up to his own standards, his own measures here.He said that he would suspend his campaign and get a deal, he didn't either. He said that he wouldn't debate until he got a deal. There was no deal but he debated anyway. He said that he wasn't going to the phone in; he was going to be fully involved. And he went to the phones. And lastly, his surrogates tried to claim credit for the deal that ultimately fell apart. So, by his own measure, McCain lost, at least, four different ways just in the last three or four days.

OLBERMANN: The poll numbers, the ones we're seeing already, have been, it's steadily going down, but they seemed to have gone another measure recently. Is this tied to the handling of the financial crisis? And if that's the case, are they going to drop even further?

WOLFFE: Well, it's hard to know where the polls are going to go here. But McCain had two gambits last week, to try to change the dynamic. First of all, there was the suspension, then, you have the debate. And they could credibly claim that the debate sort of reset the clock here, but the weekend, what happened today, has taken everything back to where we were before.

So, when it comes down to the sort of performance, as people are judging this, I don't believe they're really getting into weaves of who's bailout worked and Pelosi's speech and all the rest of it. As they measure up these leaders and their response to the crisis, I think McCain has continued a patent of stumbling which he set, actually, the week before. This has gone for two weeks now.

OLBERMANN: And obviously, he's taken every different position on the economic crisis, including denying that there was one on the calendar. At this point, what can he possibly do? I mean, he came out this afternoon, and decried-finger-pointing and insisted this is not a time to fix blame.Hour earlier, his aides had been on the air fixing blame on Obama. What's going on with this campaign? What he can possibly do to steer out of this skid?

WOLFFE: The problem he has here is the problem John Kerry ultimately faced, rightly or wrongly, and Al Gore, too, which is about credibility. Do your own words match up to what you said before? Do your actions match up to your words? Really, he's in such a deep hole on the economic side; that he's really going to turn the focus to Obama now. He has to relentlessly attack him, try to make him completely unacceptable, and just move beyond whatever is left of his position on this economic crisis, because in terms of his own performance, it has falling apart day by day.

OLBERMANN: And yet, exactly what you were saying, it was counter-indicated by the aftermath of Friday's debate. Was that the key takeaway, which is already, as if Friday's debate happened 18 years ago with all the news breaking in the interim, but the takeaway from Friday night was, in independent voters, Obama's-only Obama was perceived as the winner by most independent, in most polls, but more importantly, independents-their assessments of him and his viability as a president shot through the roof?

WOLFFE: Yes, on independent voters he had an edge. I think it was actually an evenly matched debate. McCain had some good moments there. But all of that is lost in what we've seen in the last few days now.

And if he tries to correct his performance, he does enter into Al Gore territory between the debates, too hot, too cold, which one is going to show up. So, McCain, really, does have a challenge here. Again, he can't really talk about the economy and this bailout in a way that helps himself. He can try and put forward new proposals, but he's going to do is focus on Obama.

OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of "Newsweek" and MSNBC, in the wake of the economic crisis, as ever, Richard, great thanks.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: So, what now? Should you take your money out of the banks, out of the market, out of your wallet? If so, should you then eat it, burn it, or wear it? Paul Krugman, next.


OLBERMANN: While hands are wrong, and forecasters furrow brows, some straightforward talk next about what you should and should not do, and how long you should and should not do it, from Paul Krugman of the "New York Times" and Princeton. And there's more to America than Wall Street. There's Sarah Palin saying we should, on our own initiative, send troops into Pakistan if that's necessary, exactly what John McCain so condescendingly criticized Barack Obama at the debate from asserting. You don't say that, you don't say it in public. The schism between the Republican presidential and vice presidential candidates. And Senator Obama makes Worst Persons. This just in, NHL opens hockey season in hell. You're watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Writing on his blog for the "New York Times" this afternoon, the columnist, Paul Krugman awarded the top headline to MarketWatch's Rex Nutting, "House to Wall Street: Drop Dead." He also resubmitted his own writing after the first bailout deal collapsed last Thursday, to quote, "We now have is a non-functional government in the face of a major crisis because Congress includes a quorum of crazies and nobody trusts the White House an inch. As a friend said last night, we'd become a banana republic with nukes." Our fourth story on COUNTDOWN: What the "quorum of crazies and the banana republic with nukes" means for you. The aforementioned Paul Krugman joins us now. Thank you, again, for your time tonight, sir


OLBERMANN: All right. For the average American, is this cataclysmic? Has this now spread beyond those who have investments or people who already could not pay their mortgage?

KRUGMAN: Well, to a large extent, we are protected by the spirit of Franklin Roosevelt. I mean, you know, your bank account is safe. Your deposits are safe. Everything that's thoroughly guaranteed is safe. Somebody said earlier on the program that-will you be able to get money out of your ATM, yes, you will. For most people, this is going to be, obviously, if you got stock investments, it will be a problem. What we are worried about for most people is the effect on the economy. This thing is shutting down a significant part of the whole system by which credit is funneled to the, you know, to businesses. And I'm hearing stories of businesses having credit lines not cut off, but reduced. You know, businesses that can't sell commercial paper. All this is-we're already heading into a recession territory. This is going to make it worse.

OLBERMANN: All right. So, those are some of the consequences we should expect.


OLBERMANN: How should we react to them? I mean, to paraphrase the old joke about George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees-is this the time when we should not sit around and act rationally when a situation calls for panic?

KRUGMAN: Well, the question is, you know, what do you do to panic? I mean, again, you know, if you are in anything that's thoroughly insured, and you don't have to panic. And in terms of, I mean, politically, there's an interesting question for the Democratic leadership now. What do they do? Because they accepted a pretty bad bill, better than nothing, I think, but a pretty bad bill because the Bush White House, Secretary Paulson, the House Republican leadership was supposed to bring Republicans on board for the bill. It didn't happen. So, now, you know, I guess they do a revote probably on Thursday. If that doesn't work, I guess, they go and write the bill they think ought to have been written and put it out there.

OLBERMANN: With the news from Australia that the stock market there is down 4 percent in the opening 15 minutes -


OLBERMANN: Obviously, as you mentioned, you had written that this was not a great bill, but it was worth passing. Is there anything in particular that needs to be changed that will make it passable and maybe a little bit more plausible later on the week?

KRUGMAN: Well, you know, this bill was written-later in the week, I think nothing could be done.


KRUGMAN: Because this bill-you know, basically, the Bush White House came up with a fundamentally-flawed approach. And then the Democrats had sort of have to work with this. And it was, you know, buying up toxic waste when they really should be doing is recapitalizing, they should be buying preferred shares. It's-you know, we can get in to technicalities. But they should be coming out from the other end. The fundamental approach was wrong and they should be doing more for homeowners. And one thing the Democrats can do is write a bill that will appeal to Democrats and pass a bill on party lines, which would include a lot more help for homeowners, would include bankruptcy, you know, the judge is able to rewrite mortgages and bankruptcy proceedings. A lot of things that the Democrats were objecting should have been in there. And, you know, just never mind the Republicans. But I don't think that can be done this week. And meanwhile, now it's going to be-I look at credit market indicators, and boy, we're in deep freeze right now. Things were starting to thaw a little bit at end of last week, gone now.

OLBERMANN: A question, to conclude, about Senator McCain. I'm going to have to read this because it's so much in the last two weeks with him. He started on by saying the fundamentals were sound, then he said he was suspending his campaign to broker this bailout as the original bailout promptly collapsed, almost as soon as he said that. Then he said if there were no deal by today, we'd be in another Great Depression, then he claimed credit for this revised bailout deal this morning, then the deal fell apart this afternoon. If anything is actually doing worse than Wall Street right now, it'd be John McCain on the subject of Wall Street.

KRUGMAN: He is swinging so wild. I wrote about that in the "Times" this morning. It's just, you know, at any given moment, he's got very, very firm views. The problem is, wait 48 hours and they've gone 180 degrees around.

So, no-I mean, it's bizarre. It's been-can I say this-it's pretty unpresidential, you know.


KRUGMAN: And this is scary stuff. I mean, we're scared and he is not helping.

OLBERMANN: Perhaps, that earlier reference to Mr. Steinbrenner and not sitting around and acting rationally when the situation calls for panic applies to the gentleman aforementioned.

Paul Krugman of the "New York Times" and Princeton University, once again, thank you, sir.

KRUGMAN: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: You think Wall Street had a bad day? How about the Agatha Ruiz de la Prada show? Yes, that model does look surprisingly like Borat.

And, the big expansion. So much McCain in the Membrane, we have to increase the size of the segment. McCain criticizes Obama for not using the word "victory" about General Petraeus and Iraq even though General Petraeus says he won't use the word "victory" about Iraq. Next.


OLBERMANN: Australian markets down 4 percent in the opening 15 minutes of trading. President Bush now announcing he will speak to the nation at 7:45 tomorrow morning Eastern Time; 7:45 a.m. tomorrow, President Bush to, again, address the economic crisis.Here, a big announcement tonight. The announcement is coming so frequently that we will, tonight, be expanding our newest feature from the most outrageous or untrue things said about or by McCain today to the three most outrageous or untrue such things. The expanded McCain in the Membrane in a moment. First, let's play Oddball. We begin in Victoria, B.C., where conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed the media using the dreaded human backdrop. And just guess what happens. Yes, it's time to play a little game we call, "Pick which junior (INAUDIBLE) passes out." Lock in your answers now, please.


STEPHEN HARPER, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: He understands that, I think, everybody understands, that Canada is a sovereign country. And whether it's dealing with the United States or dealing with China, the fact that the country is a lot a bigger doesn't stop us from standing out for our interest and values.


OLBERMANN: He said standing up. If you did not pick the kid in the upper right, pay up. The youth was escorted out, ended up being fine. The prime minister did not see what all the fuss was about and finished his speech. Let's go head back to Milan. Last week, we brought you the video of the Prada model who did it on the runway. That was only the second most interesting disaster for the designer outfit. We should preface this with a spoiler alert. This is Sasha Baron Cohen, posing as his Austrian fashionista character Bruno, crashing the runway at last week's Agatha Ruiz de la Prada show. After a little confusion and some fierce cat-walking, the lights went out. And Bruno was apprehended. This will presumably be used in Cohen's upcoming Bruno movie. Again, we apologize for the spoiler, but in this economy, with the news today, you may need that $12 you were going to spend to see the film. McCain blasts Obama for being willing to send our troops, if necessary, into Pakistan. Palin then says we should be willing to send our troops, if necessary, into Pakistan. You betcha. This puts McCain in something of a spot tonight. The governor is in something of a spot too when Tina Fey can simply repeat her words verbatim and get laughs, the Gov is in trouble. These stories ahead, but first our newest and newly expanded feature, the most outrageous or untrue thing said by or on behalf of Republican presidential nominee John McCain, McCain in the membrane. Number three, V for victory. Senator McCain today asked the crowd in Columbus, quote, "by the way, on Friday night, did you ever hear the word victory from Senator Obama?" Then he went into one of those jingoistic rants of his. " If we continue this surge under this great general," neglecting to mention that you never heard the word victory from that great general either. "This is not the sort of struggle," said General David Petraeus, "where you take a hill, plant the flag, and go home to a victory parade. It's not war with a simple slogan." He added he didn't think he would ever use the word victory. Also, Senator McCain where was your flag pin? Why weren't you wearing a flag pin? Number two, job opening in the McCain Hispanic liaison office. Dee Dee Lima, co-chair of Nevada's Hispanic Leadership Team and spokeswoman for the Republican party in Clarke County, Nevada, told the Associated Press, while working in a McCain campaign voting booth, quote, "we don't want Hispanics to become the new African American community. That's what the Democratic party is going to do to them, create more programs and give them hand outs, food stamps and checks for this, and checks for that." Miss Lima added, "I'm very much afraid that the Democratic party is going to do the same thing that they did with the African American culture and make them all dependent on the government. We don't want that." She has been removed from both the McCain Nevada Hispanic Leadership team and the Clarke County GOP. What follows is mostly a baseball joke, but it's no longer game time. Number one, McCain exploits the memory of the late Sergeant Ryan Jopek (ph). After Senator McCain trotted out his bracelet from the mother of a dead soldier in Iraq at the debate, Senator Obama famously said, I have a bracelet too, and told the story of Sergeant Jopek and his mother. The McCain campaign spent the weekend and this morning claiming Obama had told Sergeant Jopek's story against the wishes of his family. In fact, Traci Jopek of Merrill, Wisconsin, told the Associated Press that while she had e-mailed the Obama campaign in February asking that he accept the bracelet but not tell the story publicly, she was, quote, ecstatic when Obama mentioned her son at the debate, because she said it showed there were many different views of the war. When Robert Gibbs of the Obama campaign tried to explain this to Fox Noise this morning, they cut him off. Then they read only the part of the February part of the AP story about Mrs. Jopek, not the part about her now being ecstatic at the mention. That's how Mr. McCain runs a campaign while he is in league with a television channel.


OLBERMANN: Just one day after John McCain scolded Barack Obama in the debate Friday for the naivete of his foreign policy, McCain's running mate Sarah Palin came out in favor of Obama's foreign policy. Just one reason our third story should come as no surprise, a clear lead for Obama gelling in two national polls. Hotline putting Obama up by 47-42. It's a daily tracking poll. Gallup shows a widening spread, Obama with 50 to McCain's 42. The Intrade gambling site spread has gone from 51/48 Obama over McCain last week to Obama 63/37 tonight. Most of the polling came before today's failure of the bailout deal McCain had already taken credit for, before word came of Palin's foreign policy defection. On Friday, McCain scolded Obama at the debate for saying he would take action against al Qaeda now holed up in the Waziristan region of Pakistan if Pakistan was unable or unwilling to do so. On Saturday, Palin got the same question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about the Pakistan situation? What's your thoughts about that?

PALIN: In Pakistan? It's working with Zardari to make sure that we're all together to stop the guns from coming in over the border. And we'll go from there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Waziristan is blowing.

PALIN: Yes, it is. And the economy there is blowing up too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we do cross the border, like from Afghanistan to Pakistan, you think?

PALIN: If that's what we have to do to stop the terrorists from coming any further, absolutely, we should.


OLBERMANN: On Sunday, McCain implied that Palin's answer did not count because she was only talking to a voter. Tonight, he and Palin together amplified that rationale for Katie Couric of the CBS Evening News.


MCCAIN: Look, I understand this day and age gotcha journalism. It was at a pizza place in a conversation with someone who you didn't hear the question very well, you don't know the context of the conversation. Grab a phrase. Governor Palin and I agree that you don't announce that you're going to attack another country.

KATIE COURIC, CBS EVENING NEWS: Are you sorry you said it, governor?

MCCAIN: Wait a minute. Before you say, is she sorry she said it, this was a gotcha sound bite that-

COURIC: It wasn't a gotcha. She was talking to a voter.

MCCAIN: She was in a conversation with a group of people, and talking back and forth. I'll let Governor Palin speak for herself.

PALIN: In fact, you're absolutely right on. In the context, this was a voter, a constituent hollering out a question from across an area asking, what are you going to do about Pakistan; you better have an answer to Pakistan. I said, we're going to do what we have to do to protect the United States.


OLBERMANN: Governor Palin, of course, knew she had taken the media with her on the photo op, and in fact, she had already given the same answer, saying that even if Pakistan disapproved, all options were on the table. This during her sit-down interview with Charlie Gibson, during which he did not holler any of his questions from across an area. And in fact the Bush administration is known to have been following Obama's policy for months, specifically at least since January 29th, when after several attempts failed to win Pakistan's cooperation, a CIA drone in Pakistan did exactly what Obama and the Pentagon had argued the U.S. should do. It fired two Hellfire missiles, killing Abu Laith al Libbi, the al Qaeda director of a deadly 2007 attack on a U.S. base in Afghanistan. Let's turn to Chris Hayes, Washington editor of "The Nation Magazine." Chris, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Seven years after 9/11, no bin Laden, al Qaeda is as strong as ever, Republican candidate gets the history of Pakistan wrong and the president's name wrong on Friday, says the Democrat is too tough on terror, and now disowns his own running mate, when she happens to agree with that candidate and also the current administration. The question I guess, in sum, is why is John McCain so soft on terror?

HAYES: Well, I-I-I can't answer that question. I mean, this whole Pakistan debate has always been bizarre from the very beginning. You go back to the speech in which Obama originally proposed a cross border policy. It was clear that he was doing that both because he believed in that substantively, but also it was a bit of political opportunism to stress his hawkish bona fides. Then out of nowhere, McCain, who obviously manifestly would agree with that policy, saw an opportunity for a very discreet short term political cheap shot to go after Obama. And now, months and months and months and months later, it's kind of cemented into some principle policy, when it's obviously not what he actually believes.

OLBERMANN: Obama and Kerry said it years ago. The American people and Defense Secretary Gates agree with them. Even Mr. Bush seems to get it, that border, Afghanistan and Pakistan, is priority number one, region number one. It's the area you want to shout across when it comes to terror. How does Governor Palin triangulate between that position and McCain's when this subject almost inevitably comes up in the debate Thursday?

HAYES: That's going to be a tough one. And I feel sorry for Governor Palin in the sense that this so-called gaffe is really not of her own making. The reason it's a gaffe is because the McCain campaign has a policy that doesn't make sense, particularly coming out of their own world view. It's only a gaffe because they have taken this highly idiosyncratic position on this one particular discreet issue. Sarah Palin, who, as we know, is not the world's greatest foreign policy expert, was probably reasoning out of a core set of basic principles that would lead her to believe that this was the right way to go.

OLBERMANN: The word is the governor is heading for the Sedona ranch of Senator McCain tonight, reportedly so the campaign can undo the preps that it claims now gave us her Gibson and Couric interviews, with the goal of making her more or letting her be more of herself. Number one, what could that mean? Number two, what possible strategy could they try now for this debate? Number three, could that old Bush have a beer with them approach really get her through a debate when she apparently, according to a story in the "Washington Post" today, could not in that CBS interview, in an unaired portion, could not come up with the name of another Supreme Court decision besides Roe v. Wade?

HAYES: I don't know what they're going to do about this debate, frankly. I mean, there is videotape on the Internet that shows her debate in the Alaska gubernatorial race, in which she acquitted herself quite well. As we know, she is sharp. She is charming. But when you think about what Sarah Palin's life must be like right now, I mean, presumably there's a briefing book of 600 pages, and she's cramming for this kind of exam on Thursday that no human being, no matter how smart, no matter how capacious in memory and wit would ever really be able to pull off in the short amount of time she has. So all she can do is fall back on these obviously rote, canned responses and people see through that.

OLBERMANN: That leads to this question. What do you think-how long are the odds that this debate does not happen as scheduled on Thursday? Some of the right have demanded that she should withdraw from the ticket for McCain's sake. Either that way or a convenient or bona fide crisis that postpones this thing. I know obviously that must have been part of the whole game plan last week in the hope of postponing the first presidential debate.

HAYES: Right. Well, the most creative solution I've seen proposed is to send Sarah Palin to Washington to hammer out the bailout deal. But I don't think the press or the voters would go for that. I mean, yes, there's certainly a chance it won't happen. A lot of it depends on what the heck happens in Washington these next few days and with the news cycle, which has been totally and completely unpredictable for a good week and a half now. So we'll see.

OLBERMANN: Got to be 10 to one, something like that. Chris Hayes, Washington editor of "The Nation." Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Sarah Palin's other problem. Problem's name is Tina Fey. And there are still five more editions of "Saturday Night Live" before we vote. And the stunner from the Worst Person's committee, the board of irresponsible people. Senator Barack Obama has made tonight's worst persons list. First, the big headline breaking in the administration's 50 running scandals, Bushed.

Gonzo-gate; Attorney General Michael Mukasey has today appointed a special prosecutor to pursue possible criminal charges against Republicans involved in the purging of attorney generals. His report criticized his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, named the firing of David Iglesias of New Mexico as the most troubling of the attorneys firing, and mentioned Senator Pete Domenici and Bush operatives Harriet Myers, Kyle Sampson, Monica Goodling and Karl Rove as impediments to the investigation. You know this movie where there's a sudden outbreak of blindness. Whatever the opposite of that would be, it apparently just struck the attorney general's office.


OLBERMANN: Has "Saturday Night Live" branded Senator McCain and Governor Palin with impossible to overcome images? We'll look word for words at the parts of the Palin/Couric interview and the Tina Fey Palin impression that were virtually identical. That's ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN's number two story tonight, tonight's worst person in the world. The bronze to Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. Said Saturday, quote, "finally, thank you to my wife, Michelle Obama, for putting up with me. We'll be celebrating our 15th anniversary next week. And she just about has me trained almost." This statement from Michelle Obama's spokesperson, quote, "16th," unquote. 16th anniversary, not 15th. Oops. If he suspends his campaign, now you'll know why. Our runner-up, Sean Hannity of a Fixed News. Actual analysis slipped into the propaganda machine over there. He asked Dick Morris who won Friday. Morris said, I have to unfortunately say I think Obama won the debate. Hannity cut him off. "Well, I would disagree. I don't know what debate you were watching, Dick." Morris then said, "Obama came across as really knowing and caring about the problems of the average person. I also thought McCain blew it by not focusing on why he suspended his campaign." Hannity also said he thought Obama had only shown book knowledge and was somebody regurgitating lines and they were fed to him and memorized by him. Hmm, wonder if he's going to use phrases like that on Thursday night. But our winner, Karl Rove of Fox Noise, with the absolute most over the top, so ludicrous it has to be continued on the next pundit rationalization for Governor Palin, previewing the vice presidential debate on Thursday. He said, quote, "the real question on this debate going to be, from Palin's perspective, is Palin going to go out there and are we going to see the woman that we saw at Dayton, Ohio, and at the convention, comfortable in herself, or are they going to have to over-prepped her, stuffed too much information in her mind and made her a little uncomfortable, because she's really good when she's just talking with people." Wait. By in Dayton, Ohio, Mr. Rove means the speech she gave the day McCain chose her. By at the convention, Rove means her speech there. These are the examples of Governor Palin being really good when just talking with people. She was reading a teleprompter, like I'm reading a teleprompter now. This is not just talking with people. It's reading aloud off a machine. And if she was over-prepared for the Katie Couric interview, if too much information had been stuffed in her mind for the Katie Couric interview, then the Palin credibility gap is so much greater than we could possibly imagine that if she is elected we will all, all 305 million of us, have to evacuate the country. Karl "Governor Palin was over-prepared" Rove, today's worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN: In 1975 and 1976, Chevy Chase single handedly established the indelible comedic caricature of President Gerald Ford as an unending physical risk, a man who might fall down or trip over something at any moment. Last winter, "Saturday Night Live" established a meme of a media in the tank for Barack Obama, which promptly begat a conversion of the Clinton campaign into a serious version of that same martyrdom, and has, in a kind of political grandchild, the nonstop whining of the McCain campaign of media bias, even though most of that seems to benefit its own candidate.

Our number one story in the COUNTDOWN, public ridicule as a critical political component, and here it comes again with what is reportedly week two of a seven week cameo of Tina Fey as Sarah Palin. Some of her lights-out impression did not even require any new material.


PALIN: Every American I'm speaking with were ill-

TINA FEY, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Like every American I'm speaking with, we are ill.

PALIN: But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed-

FEY: But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those that are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy.

PALIN: Helping the-it's got to be all about job creation.

FEY: It's got to be all about job creation, too.

PALIN: - to shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track.

FEY: Also to shoring up our economy and putting Fannie and Freddie back on the right track.

PALIN: So health care reform and reducing taxes-

FEY: And so health care reform and reducing taxes-

PALIN: And reining in spending.

FEY: And reining in spending.


OLBERMANN: But this was hardly just parroting. As the rest of us fiddled around with analogies to Mina Birds and talking Caribu Barbie Dolls, Seth Myers and the writers hit the analogy right on the head.


FEY: Katie, I'd like to use one of my life lines.


FEY: I want to phone a friend.


OLBERMANN: Let's turn now to Emily Heil, who writes the "Heard on The Hill" column for "Roll Call," the newspaper of record for Capital Hill. Thanks for your time tonight, Emily.

EMILY HEIL, "ROLL CALL": Glad to be here, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Satire is one thing, but as big a laugh as anything else in that sketch was the word for word from Governor Palin's interview from Katie Couric. Is that the lowest it can get for a politician, when your serious words, with almost no embellishment, bring back cascades of laughter?

HEIL: You know, I'm not ever going to say that anything is lowest it can get for a politician, because I think you and I both know there's no limit to how low that bar can go. But honestly, it is interesting and very significant when you don't even have to write punch lines, when the candidate writes them him or herself. I think it really reminded me of George H.W. Bush. You remember Dana Carvey using all those great lines that were actually mined from actual presidential speeches. "Read my lips," those kind of things. And they really rang so true, because they actually came from the candidate's mouth. And I think with Sarah Palin the danger is even greater, because most of the time when you see a satiric version of a political figure, you have the real version to compare it to. In this case, we don't. In the same way that sort of Dana Carvey sort of owned the persona of George H.W. Bush, it seems that it's easier for Tina Fey to own the persona of Sarah Palin, at least for a little while, until we actually see the real Sarah Palin.

OLBERMANN: If. When the S&L skit was in her favor, Senator Clinton tried to pick up the ball and run with it. She referenced that whole in the tank for Obama and get him another cushion thing in an actual debate. It went over like a lead balloon. Is there anything the governor can do with this? Can she try to pick it up? Can she have fun with it, go on the show, embrace this somehow?

HEIL: Well, I'm really not in the business of giving advice, but I think there would be probably a big upside to her sort of going along with the joke. It's so much better, I think, from a public perspective to be in on the joke and not to be sort of the butt of it. And you see John McCain doing this to some extent. He makes old man jokes every now and then to sort of blunt the impact of the jokes that are inevitably going to be made about him. So it's sort of that way of giving a wink and a nod and sort of owning that joke, as opposed to just being the sort of clueless victim of it. So maybe we'll see the real Sarah Palin appearing alongside Tina Fey. It might be a smart thing for her to feel like she's in on the joke instead of just the butt.

OLBERMANN: Is it always a bad thing to have this happen? Because obviously the Gerry Ford reference, while they were harpooning him every week, he went from 33 points down to 31 points at the end against Carter. Is there some way this could work, even a sympathy measure for Governor Palin?

HEIL: That's a great point. It very well might. It depends on the audience. I think for some people being the butt of a joke from the elite liberal Manhattan folks, maybe that's sort of a badge of honor as opposed to being a bad thing. People might rush to her defense, particularly if she does better than a lot of people are expecting her to in the debate. So this may be actually a badge of honor and not a bad thing. People might actually sympathize.

OLBERMANN: At this rate, the way expectations are going for Thursday night, if she's still standing at the end of 90 minutes, she'll have done better than people expect. Emily Heil, columnist for "Roll Call," thank you, Emily.

HEIL: Glad to be here, Keith.

OLBERMANN: That's COUNTDOWN for this 1,979th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.