Tuesday, September 9, 2008

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, September 9
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons

Guest: Shannyn Moore, Barack Obama

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

Palin watch. How many controversies can the governor's candidacy survive? As mayor, her police chief wanted to charge rape victims for their own rape kits. As governor, she charged the state per diem for every night she spent in her own home.

And how many lives can the governor's candidacy survive? Brought back today on the campaign trail, the distortion in which she claims she fired the governor's executive chef.



important as mayor and governor to try to lead by example. I cut the personal chef position from the budget which didn't thrill my kid.


OLBERMANN: Except the governor didn't fire that chef. She simply reassigned her to a different job title while she continued to cook for the governor's kids. What exactly is the strategy here?

And what exactly is the strategy in Iraq? President Bush tries to turn the bad news, the most minimal troop withdrawal this is year into good news. Maybe some more troop withdrawals next year.


PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: The progress in Iraq continues to hold. General Petraeus and our military leaders believe additional reductions will be possible in the first half of 2009.


OLBERMANN: Obama and Iraq.



Maliki has suggested that a timetable now makes sense. Even the Bush administration has been discussing a time horizon. John McCain is the only guy who still is trying to figure out ways to stay, instead of ways for us to go.


OLBERMANN: Part two of my interview with Senator Barack Obama.

It's back.

Karl Rove has a role in the McCain campaign while doubling as an analyst for "fixed news." A Republican operative confirms Rove has a consistent medium-sized role while he insists he does not.

And tonight: The debut of a new feature. The most outrageous or false statement of the day made by or on behalf of Senator John McCain and his campaign: "McCain in the Membrane." Our first honoree, his daughter:



MEGHAN MCCAIN, SEN. MCCAIN'S DAUGHTER: No one knows what war is like

other than my family, period.


OLBERMANN: Seriously. None of the families of the 4,155 dead in Iraq know what war is like. Seriously.

All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.

(on camera): Good evening. This is Tuesday, September 9th, 56 days until the 2008 presidential election.

If the Republican strategy behind the selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate was to distract voters from McCain sellouts and tune-deafness, it is working, perhaps, however, not in the way the GOP thought. The governor, again today, claiming - again - that she sold the jet on eBay when she didn't sell a jet on eBay; again, today claiming that she fired the chef when she didn't fire the chef; again today claiming that she fought against Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere" when she was for and then against and redirected the money from the monumental piece of pork; again today claiming that she controlled spending when in a stunning example of self-interest over state interest, she actually billed Alaska nearly $17,000 for nights that she spent in her very own home.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: The myth of Sarah Palin being revealed to be just that, a carefully constructed story of someone's whose existence is widely believed in but, who, in reality, is largely or entirely fictitious.

The "Washington Post" reporting that the vice presidential candidate has as governor charged her own state of Alaska per diem expenses for the night she spent in her own home at Wasilla, a charge intended to cover meals and incidentals while traveling on state business.

The governor spokeswoman is saying that under state policy because Palin is based out of the governor's mansion in Juneau, legally she did nothing wrong, quote, "The governor is entitled to per diem and she claims it."

But the former Democratic governor of Alaska, Tony Knowles telling the

"Washington Post," quote, "I gave a direction to all my commissioners if

they were ever in their house, whether it was Juneau or elsewhere, they

were not to get a per diem because clearly, it is and it looks like a scam

you pay yourself to live at home."

When he was governor, Mr. Knowles also signing a bill that saw up to it that law enforcement agencies in Alaska would pay for the processing of the rape kits used to collect forensic evidence in sexual assault cases. However, the police chief of Wasilla when Palin was then mayor, appointed by her, was staunchly against that. Wasilla's policy was "blame and bill the victim."

Governor Palin's apparent other policy - reward those who go from critics to supporters, or is the better word here, "bribe." Last week, Major General Craig Campbell of the Alaska National Guard having told the "Associated Press" that, quote, "He and Palin play no role in national defense activities even when they involve the Alaska National Guard." By Friday, the major general praising Governor Palin on "fixed news" saying that, quote, "National Guards are state military forces run by governors and Sarah Palin does it great."

By yesterday, Major General Campbell promoted by Palin, to lieutenant general of the Alaska National Guard. Coincidence - no doubt.

The McCain-Palin campaign today is launching a so-called "Palin truth squad," to counter recent so-called attacks against her. Fifty-five members of the squad, nearly every one of them women, yet the majority of the lies in the campaign trail today is coming from Governor Palin's own mouth. The attacks launched by her against Senator Obama.


PALIN: First, let me tell you something about the choice in this election. Here in Pennsylvania, we just don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they're listening and then turns around and talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and their guns when those people aren't listening.


PALIN: We tend to prefer candidates who don't talk about us one way in Lancaster and then maybe another way in San Francisco.


OLBERMANN: Time now to call in Shannyn Moore, a host with Alaskan Progressive Talk Radio. She joins us tonight from Anchorage.

Ms. Moore, thank you for you time tonight.


OLBERMANN: Specifics first. Do we know whether Mayor Palin supported that police chief's "blame and bill the victim rape kit" policy, I mean, beyond her having already told us that being mayor is kind of like being a community organizer except that you have actual responsibilities?

MOORE: Well, I do know that I spoke with Eric Croft who actually authored that bill. And the reason that bill was authored to make it illegal for a municipality to charge for a rape kit was specifically for Wasilla. And after that bill was passed, because it just seemed terrible. I mean, I live in a state with the highest amount of incest and rape in the country. That it was specifically designed for Wasilla and the police chief came out and said, wow, well, he thought it was terrible to pass that on to taxpayers.

OLBERMANN: The story about the stay at home per diem. Is there a difference here between something being legally wrong and the appearance of what seems ethically wrong for somebody who is setting themselves up, campaigning as a small government, fiscal conservative maverick?

MOORE: I've always found it ironic that people want to legislate ethics. Either you have them or you don't. And - in looking at this, she's really had her cake and eaten it, too. I mean, we've never had a governor live outside of Juneau and people are understanding about her wanting to use her Anchorage office more, but it really goes to show exactly why our - last spring, in the legislature, people were wearing yellow buttons, legislators were wearing yellow buttons that said "Where's Sarah." It's very - but it sort of reminds me the Crawford ranch scenario. Not really at work.

OLBERMANN: What is the - the picture that was painted by the media in the days after Governor Palin was selected seem to be 700,000 some odd people in Alaska and like 32 (ph) who didn't like her and the rest were all behind her on the Sarah Palin team. Is there more division in Alaska than we've been led to think?

MOORE: Well, I'm waiting to get put on the endangered species list, frankly - being a liberal in Alaska. And I'm sure you run into the same circles at times.

You know, the fact that this Friday we've got $3,200 coming into each bank account of every man, woman and child in Alaska is really, you know - that's part of the popularity.

But certainly, the charm of Sarah Palin, I mean, I've called her for over a year now "Governor Gump" because she is so likable. I've interviewed her. You know, I've talked to her. I've seen her in action and she's likable. But is this back to the whole idea of "I'd like to have a beer with him so I'll vote for him"?

OLBERMANN: We're finally apparently going to see the Governor condescend to talk to television reporters without just repeating that same speech that she gave in Minnesota. What would you - and we're not really holding out much hope that these questions are going to be asked but are the questions that should be asked of her in this first national interview?

MOORE: Well, I certainly - I think this - in light of her views on environmental policy, in light of her views when it comes to her fundamentalist beliefs, in her insular sort of group of people around her, why doesn't she explain how she's different than George W. Bush because the practices that I've seen and her policies are very, very, very similar. And that's not changed.

OLBERMANN: I'm sure it will be the first question asked.

Shannyn Moore of Alaskan Progressive Talk Radio in Anchorage with us tonight. Great thanks for you time. Appreciate it.

MOORE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: The Palin mythology having a big impact on Senator McCain's enthusiasm numbers, perhaps the key in the new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" Poll out tonight, the excited number for McCain a month ago was 12 percent - 12 percent. Tonight, it's 34 percent, a jump of 22 points.

However, Obama is also up by 9 percent and 55 percent, Obama still with the advantage and a majority on who's likely to bring real change but McCain is closing that gap. Twenty-one percent in June, now up to 33.

A good number for Obama on the question of shared values at 53 but McCain polling higher to 59, up 13 since last month. McCain's positive rating hitting a four-year high, Obama's positive rating hitting an all time high.

The takeaway from November 4th, the race is close. The candidates are in a virtual tie - Obama, 47 percent; McCain, 46 percent. I'm glad we spent all that money to find that out.

Let's turn to Chuck Todd, political director for MSNBC and NBC News.

Good to see you my friend.


OLBERMANN: Well, if you do, personally or is it the company's money?

TODD: Well, you know, the company money. It's Mr. Zucker's credit card.

OLBERMANN: Both candidates are up basically everywhere including in the horse race, the conclusion is what - that each of them got what they wanted coming out of the conventions?

TODD: The conventions worked for both of them. Look - Obama's convention was about what - creating unity, making sure the Clinton folks got onboard, trying to get folks more comfortable with the idea of him as president. Well, guess what? We've been asked that question. Are you comfortable with the idea of Obama as president? And his number and McCain's number are identical. OK, mission accomplished for Obama.

McCain was trying to do a couple of things. One was to get his party excited about him again. Well, he did it. Sarah Palin is providing that excitement. The second thing he was trying to do was make people think that he could be a change candidate, too; that this guy isn't just about a Bush third term. Well, he is fixing that number. That's what Sarah Palin was allowing him to do, reintroduced himself.

Look - the question I have now is: Is he really going to ever let her go on her own on the campaign trail because he's getting these huge crowds now. You can see the energy in him that he hadn't had before. So - I mean, literally, you look at - it's Obama and Biden holding these subdued events that looked like McCain events a month ago, and it's McCain and Palin holding what looked like Obama events a month ago.

OLBERMANN: So, what happens? She's going back to Alaska tomorrow and then what happens to the momentum that they have clearly generated?

TODD: Well, I think, this is the test for McCain is to find out - is this a spike? You know, one of our pollsters, one half of our polling pollsters, Peter Hart, the Democrat half, he was Walter Mondale's pollster and he will tell you around the time that they picked Geraldine Ferraro was the only time they ever thought they had a chance.


TODD: It was the only time everything felt good for the campaign.

They thought they might be able to carry California and all the Pacific coast, these urban states. Women were excited. They were getting big crowds. And then, as he said, and she became Mrs. John Zaccaro and that - that whittled down and obviously, Reagan won the landslide.

The question is: Does the spike hold for McCain? And that's what we're going to find out. When she leaves the campaign trail what are McCain events going to look like. Trust me, we're all going to be there, we're all counting.

OLBERMANN: And what happens when she comes back, is there a new material or she just going to be repeating all this stuff? At some point, it runs out of umph.

TODD: Well, and this is the importance of this interview for her, where she, you know, again, they've managed her roll-out. And the fact is, John McCain won the roll-out, they defined her. This was - whenever you bring in a new character in American politics, there's a race to define them. Barack Obama was a new character when he came in and he won his roll-out. John McCain won the Governor Palin roll-out.

OLBERMANN: All right. To the poll again. Good poll for Obama; better poll, clearly, for McCain. And the reports of Democrats starting to panic, and, in fact, these reports are probably increasing. Should they be panicking at this point?

TODD: I don't think they should be trying to get any new antidepressants at the thing. Look - the fundamentals of this election are still in the Democrats favor. The fact is, the idea that right now, if you're the Obama campaign and you think, "Geez, we might carry Indiana or North Carolina" - no, OK?

The Republican base when they come home that gets rid of the soft, underbelly targets. It means that this election may very well come down -

OK, there's a couple of new states in the battleground, Colorado and Virginia but we may be down to four states. Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, and New Hampshire, those four in particular probably follow the national number as well as any. And if that thing is a one point number nationally, those four states, it's probably on one-point numbers (ph).

OLBERMANN: So, what is new left to happen? We've been through the conventions, we've been through the vice presidential candidates. And then the Republicans pulled a rabbit out of the hat, what's left that's new between now and November 4th?

TODD: Well, it's likely this race freezes until the debates. And that's the thing. Does it freeze? And if you're the McCain folks, you want it to know that it froze because if it didn't and it settles back down to pre-convention levels, that three to five-point advantage of Obama, then you know that the Palin affect has fallen.

But if it freezes where it's at even going in the debates, then I think the country - look, the country actually is very happy about their candidates. They have more positive feelings towards McCain and Obama than they did Bush and Kerry. OK. So, this is an electorate that's very excited actually about this election.

And what do we doing to them? We're telling them - well, you only have about 35 days to make your decision. We're going to compact all these debates, we gave them 18 months to get to know them as primary candidates. We're giving them about 18 minutes and look - they're going to wait, I think, to make up their mind.

I think, these debates, first of all, both candidates know it. So, they're going to be afraid to have any good lines on their first debate. They're only feeling each other out, let me use a bad boxing metaphor.


TODD: You know, feeling each other out in the ring, and we probably will wait under that third debate before we actually see fireworks between the two of them between Obama and McCain.

OLBERMANN: We have to tell Senator McCain he cannot bring Governor Palin with him to that first debate.

TODD: Well, but he might.


TODD: Yes, that will be interesting to have her sitting there to force the issue. But I'll say this about the debate, because there's so much early voting in this country, where this race is on October 15th, is where the race is going to be.

OLBERMANN: You heard it. NBC and MSNBC political director, Chuck Todd - so our countdown is even shorter than we thought, to October 15th - - thanks a lot, Chuck.

TODD: Yes. Well, you said I wasted money on this poll. So there you go.

OLBERMANN: All right. We're even.

As president - I didn't really mean it. As President Bush begins token withdrawal of American troops, half of whom will leave Iraq after he leaves the White House, Barack Obama talks about the disconnect. He has been largely right about Iraq. Yet the Republicans have done a stellar job of painting him as wrong. Part two of my interview with the Democratic presidential nominee.


OLBERMANN: My interview with Senator Obama on Iraq, on tax cuts and tax increases, on the Republican shameless exploitation of the dead of 9/11.

Later, Karl Rove joins the McCain campaign. Well, they finally admit he joined it long ago.

And in Worsts: Sean Hannity insists nobody at FOX has ever called anybody a Muslim.

And tonight: The premiere of the new nightly feature, the craziest and most inaccurate statement from or about the Republican campaign, McCain in the Membrane - tonight on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN: The part two my interview with Senator Barack Obama and the mischaracterization of both his tax policy and his position on the surge in Iraq.

And in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: President Bush announcing minimal troop reductions in Iraq through February, 2009, when he will have just left office, still, leaving more troops there than before the surge begun. Speaking at the National Defense University in Washington, Bush announced a reduction of 3,400 hundred combat support forces from Iraq over the next few months and a withdrawal of one marine battalion by November and one army brigade next February.


BUSH: This amounts to about 8,000 additional American troops returning home without replacement.

And if progress in Iraq continues to hold, General Petraeus and our military leaders believe additional reduction will be possible in the first half of 2009.


OLBERMANN: Senator Obama responded, saying that the president essentially offered, quote, "some tinkering around the edges and kicking the can down the road to the next president." At a news conference in Dayton, Ohio, Obama also addressed the president's plan for Afghanistan.


OBAMA: President Bush also announced additional troops for Afghanistan. I'm glad that the president is moving on the direction of the policy that I've advocated for years. But the most substantial increase will come when an additional army brigade is deployed five months from now, in February, after the current president has left office. His plan comes up short; it has not enough troops, not enough resources, with not enough urgency.


OLBERMANN: And as promise, my interview with Senator Obama. Bear in mind the senator's comments on Iraq preceded today's announcement from the president, though it would not appeared to have affective his primary observations. We began with another key topic to most Americans - taxes.


OLBERMANN: I asked a couple of malleable conservatives over this weekend what they would want to ask you. And their answers were strikingly similar. One guy who makes about $40,000 a year said, "Ask him why he's going to raise my taxes." Another guy makes about $1 million a year, said, "Ask him why he's going to raise my taxes."

Is there a third - is there a third group out there that thinks, "Well, it's bad now. McCain's not going to make it any worse. I don't know what's going - what Obama is going to do"? Is that - is that an identifiable group? And how do you answer those two malleable conservatives I just mentioned?

OBAMA: Well, I mean, I think you make an important point. And this is an example of how the Republicans, the McCain campaign have tried to muddy the waters. The fact is, is that guy making $40,000 a year will get a tax cut under my plan. I provide a tax cut to 95 percent of Americans. Independent studies have shown that I provide about three times the amount of tax relief to middle-class families than does John McCain under his plan.

What is true is that guy who makes $1 million a year, it's true. His taxes are going to go up, the same way mine will, because we both make more than $250,000 a year. They'll go up, back to the place that - the marginal rates that existed under Bill Clinton, when we were probably doing just fine.

And the reason is, is because we've got to make sure that the 95 percent of folks get a little bit of relief. We've got to stop borrowing from China and running up the credit card on the next generation.

There is a sense of fiscal responsibility that we've got to have here in this country, and the notion that those of us who have been extraordinarily lucky can't pay a little bit more so the waitress down the street or the guy making $40,000 or the guy making $70,000 can get a little bit extra so that he can put away some savings and watch his child eventually walk off that stage with a college diploma in her hand.

You know, I think America is better than that. I think we want to make sure that everybody's got a fair shot in this society. That's what the American dream's about. And that's what we're going to be fighting for during this campaign and hopefully as an Obama administration.

OLBERMANN: Let me switch over to Iraq and people's reaction to you and Iraq and Iraq as a subject in general. Your predictions about the surge, your language about the surge, seem to have turned out to be just about 100 percent on the spot. Simple facts: whatever is done to lessen violence against American troops and others in portions of that country, the Iraqis are still not paying for this war fully, either with money or personnel. And Mr. Bush has just been advised not to bring any more of our troops home this year.

If you are right, why have the Republicans and the conservative media been so effective in suggesting that you were wrong and somehow you need to atone for that?

OBAMA: Well, you know, it's interesting. It's not just the conservative media. I think that a lot of the mainstream media has picked up on this. Partly, I think, it is a legitimate surprise on the part of a lot of people that the immediate violence went down so significantly. And I think our troops deserve all the credit in the world for that happening, along with the Sunni awakening that occurred, the Shia militias standing down. There was a convergence of forces that have reduced violence in a way that I think many of us didn't anticipate, including me.

What has not changed at all is the underlying fact that, number one, Iraq was a huge strategic blunder that strengthened Iran, took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan, let al-Qaeda off the hook, and we've got to make a strategic shift.

The second thing that hasn't changed is the Iraqi government still hasn't taken responsibility, that they aren't spending their own oil revenues. They've got $80 billion parked in New York banks while we're spending $10 billion a month. And I believe, and continue to believe, that until we send a clear signal that we are going to withdraw in a phased, systematic way, that they're not going to start getting their act together.

Now, Prime Minister Maliki has suggested that a timetable now makes sense. Even the Bush administration has been discussing a time horizon. John McCain is the only guy who still is trying to figure out ways to stay, instead of ways for us to go.

And it is important for us to understand that, unless we start putting more responsibility in the hands of the Iraqis, we are going to be hamstrung in dealing with the larger battle against terror that is so critical to our long-term security.


OLBERMANN: More with Senator Obama here on politicizing 9/11. I did not get to ask him about giant robot spiders. Next time, I promise.

First, the headlines breaking in the administration's 50 running scandals - Bushed.

Number three, Ollie-gate. The U.S. military has been denying for weeks that its attack on the village of Azizabad in Afghanistan on the 22nd of August killed roughly 90 innocent villagers. Our Pentagon insisted this was Taliban propaganda, the casualties were nowhere near not that high if any and said it had its own neutral witness, an independent journalist eyewitness embedded with the U.S. force that attacked the town. It turns out the independent journalist was Oliver North of "FOX noise."

Realizing that, (A), he's not a journalist; (B), he's not independent; and (c), he's eye-witnessing include seeing things that aren't really there, the military has now reversed its stance on Azizabad and announced it is requesting an outside investigation into the massacre of civilians.

Number two: Spreading democracy-gate. In Bob Woodward's new book, "The War Within," his latest history of the Bush White House or the Wah House (ph), he writes that our government has spied, eavesdropped and what-not, on Iraq Prime Minister Maliki and other Iraqi leaders.

In a clear and compelling explanation, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said, unfortunately, quote, "We have a good idea what the Prime Minister Maliki is thinking because he tells us very frankly and very candidly, as often as he can." After that was a denial about the spying, she said, "I didn't deny it. I said I declined to comment on it." Maybe they are spying using ESP. Ms. Perino added, "There are emergency exits here, here and here."

And number one: Gratitude-gate. More from Woodward's book. He told "60 Minutes" on Sunday night, that Mr. Bush's frustration with the attitude of the Iraqi people, quoting Woodward, "He has a meeting at the Pentagon with a bunch of experts and he just said, 'I don't understand the Iraqis are not appreciative of what we've done for them.' His beacon is liberation. He thinks we've done this magnificent thing for them. I think he still holds to that position."

Try to take this all in from the perspective of an Iraqi. Somebody invades our nation, deposes our dictator, many innocent civilians die. From our point of view, not the best outcome imaginable, but maybe the best one available. But within six weeks the guy leading the invasion even declares "mission accomplished," so we all start looking at our watches and waiting for these people to leave. And they don't, for five years.

As terrorists pour across our porous borders and militias and gangs and sex get all the weapons they could want, and thousands upon thousands of us are killed, maybe 100,000, maybe more, and 2 million people have to leave their homes or even leave their country. And five years later, having still not left, the chowder-head running the invading country is expecting us to send him a big card we've all signed saying, "Thank you, president, you killed my cousin."


OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment. And I'll have some Big Macs, please, 23,000 of them please. First, on this date in 1976, Mao Zedong died. He was famous for debauching young girls, never washing and enjoying it whenever visitors' teared up because of the stench. Fittingly, after his death, while trying to preserve his body to be displayed, doctors overdid the formaldehyde and Mao kind of blowed up. Let's play Oddball.


OLBERMANN: We begin in Liverpool, England, where a giant spider robot has a hankering for beetles. This is tape from Liverpool's Capital of Culture Festival this weekend, where this arachnid cyborg, dubbed La Princess, wowed the assembled Liverpuglians (ph). She weighs 37 tons, stands 50 feet tall, costs almost two million dollars and is controlled by 12 people strapped to her belly. The demonstration climaxed on Saturday night, when La Princess was attached to a crane and appeared to scale the side of a building. Sadly, soon after that, down came the rain and washed the spider out. Miss Muffett was unavailable for comment.

To Albuquerque and the Oddball bear chase of the week, already in progress. This male black bear was spotted outside an area middle school, chased up a tree, and he decided to alight on a limb to nowhere. Wildlife officials assembled below, juiced him up with a tranc dart and then played the waiting game. Come on, fellow, you can't hang in there forever. And release, rotation, splash.

Air mattress. He's all right, folks. The bear is now sobering up and he will be released back into the wild. While he gets points for stylish dismount. That guy still doesn't hold a candle to the only perfect ten ever awarded in the bear falls out of a tree category. He was all right, too. (INAUDIBLE)


OLBERMANN: Two days before the anniversary, Senator Obama on politicizing 9/11 and that awful 9/11 video the Republicans showed at their convention last week.

And Sean Hannity insists nobody at Fox has ever suggested Senator Obama might be Muslim. No, Hannity didn't seem drunk at the time. Worst persons ahead. But first time for COUNTDOWN's top three best persons in the world. Theme tonight is (INAUDIBLE).

Number three, Mary Reilly of Lincoln, in England, went to Hungary to get what she thought was a discount on some implants in her mouth. Then the dentist dropped part of a screw driver down her throat. Always pays to go to the dentist and not the training college.

Number two, Kentucky Fried Chicken, with remodeling going on in its Louisville headquarters, the company is moving the handwritten copy of Colonel Sanders' original recipe of 11 herbs and spices on the anniversary of his birth. They put it in the hand of the notoriously bizarre security expert Bo Diddle. No truth to rumors that he's just opened Bo Diddle's Brooklyn Fried Country.

Number one, Don Gorske of Wisconsin, compelled in 1972 by that sign at McDonald's saying over blank millions served, he decided to start eating Big Macs. He says the total number he's eaten now has just crossed 23,000. He knows this because he has saved every receipt he's ever gotten. He keeps them in a box, along with his heart and his arteries.


OLBERMANN: Senator Obama and Senator McCain are to appear at a presidential forum here in New York Thursday night, intended to be apolitical, intended to be about service. We'll see. In our third story in the COUNTDOWN, the conclusion of my interview with Senator Obama about how about everything about 9/11 seems to have been co-opted for political advantage.


OLBERMANN: Let me close with one last topic. This pertains to Thursday, obviously, the seventh anniversary - our terrible anniversary of 9/11. How do you think the Republicans, who were, for whatever this means - they were, as a matter of fact, in the White House in 2001 when this happened. How have they managed to paint themselves as the only people who could prevent anything resembling terrorism? And what do you do about however much of that perception remains?

OBAMA: Well, look, I - 9/11, I think, unified the country. And George Bush was the president at that time. And I think the American people did what they should have done, which is to rally around the president in this moment of crisis. That opportunity was squandered by the president, who talked about going shopping instead of pulling together to get serious about energy independence and to get serious about pulling the country together to meet our long-term challenges.

But one of the things that the Republicans have done is to constantly talk tough, even though they act in not very intelligent ways. And, you know, if you repeat enough bluster and if you're constantly talking about how you're going to go after folks, and if you launch war and show a lack of strategic judgment, some people can interpret that as, well, these guys are tough. They may not be very effective, but at least - at least they're tough.

And one of the things that I need to communicate to the American people is being - talking tough in Washington and deploying our military on missions that are not central to our defense, we can't afford to continue on that kind of path. We need a tough and smart strategy that focuses like a laser beam on al Qaeda, that focuses on rolling up terrorist networks, that focuses on finishing the job in al Qaeda, and focuses on rebuilding our alliances and our reputation around the world. There's nothing weak about that. That, I think, is going to be the measure of strength and ultimately is going to be what keep us - keeps us more safe.

OLBERMANN: I must ask about the next step beyond tough talk and then I'll let you go with our great thanks. I don't know if you saw what the Republicans called the 9/11 tribute video during their convention, which was played on all the cable networks. It was graphic and it used video that had long since been put on the shelf, out of bounds by news organizations, to the widespread approval of our viewers, and mental health organizations, I might add. Should a video like that with such graphic images of that horrible day be shown in the context of a political campaign by anybody, by any campaign, by any candidate?

OBAMA: Well, it - it's not something we would have done, because I think that 9/11 is beyond partisan politics. You know, that's why I'm going to be appearing with John McCain on - at Ground Zero on Thursday, because that was something that should be pulling us together. It's not something that should be, I think, trotted out in political moments.

But obviously they made a different judgment. They are free to do so. I believe that the American people are interested in who's going to make sure that the next administration is keeping us safe in the future and not looking backwards.

OLBERMANN: Senator, thank you so much. I'll see you at the Cubs/White Sox World Series.

OBAMA: I'm a little worried about my White Sox. Our all-star got hurt, so we'll see how it turns up.

OLBERMANN: We will indeed. Thank you again, sir. Take care.

OBAMA: Thanks. Take care, Keith.


OLBERMANN: Carlos Quentin he's referring to. Tomorrow night, my special comment on how people like John McCain Rudy Giuliani have changed our solemn commemoration of 9/11 into the most cynical of political exploitations. A special comment tomorrow night at 8:00 Eastern, 5:00 Pacific right here on COUNTDOWN.

Tonight, worst persons. Jerome Corsi claims the Obama campaign has not proven a single falsehood in his book, which does not explain why he's making 11 separate corrections in the second printing.

And it finally leaked out. While he pretends on Fox that he's not involved with the McCain campaign, Karl Rove reportedly is. First, the premier of our newest feature, the most outrageous or untrue thing said by or on behalf of Republican presidential nominee John McCain, McCain in the Membrane.

And we begin with his own family. His daughter Meghan on "The Today Show," in the role of campaign surrogate for her dad, responding to Senator Obama's claim that her father doesn't get it.


MEGHAN MCCAIN, DAUGHTER OF JOHN MCCAIN: Obviously, I think my father

gets it more than anyone. I mean, my family - I have two brothers serving in the military. One is about to redeploy to Iraq. My father is obviously a famous war hero. No one knows what war is like other than my family, period.


OLBERMANN: No one knows other than your family, period. So if you have a loved one in the military in harm's way or if you have ever lost someone in war, John McCain's daughter is telling you, you don't count. McCain in the Membrane.


OLBERMANN: Shock of shocks, the neutral D.C. Publication "The Hill" quotes a GOP operative who says that Karl Rove really is a formal part of the McCain campaign. Rachel Maddow joins me next. But first time for COUNTDOWN's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.

The bronze to Stephen Sprewell (ph), who has written a piece for the rapidly conservative "National Review" in which he tells a story about how when MSNBC moved to 30 Rock, I decided to interfere with these old offices with so much history. Mr Sprewell claims I, quote, didn't like his door. It had a window. He wanted a solid one. He called the building manager.

They told him look, it's an old building. We're not changing the doors. He goes on, I allegedly then say, I want a new door or I'm not going on the air. So they went and got him a new door.

It's a fascinating story. Sadly not a true one. I did indeed call about the door in my office, because the beautiful historic old wooden door that was there had already been removed and replaced with the new one that was almost all glass. I called and asked for blinds for the door window. No threats, no I'm not going on the air, nothing. And no call was ever made to me or to MSNBC by Stephen Sprewell or his fellow faux journalists at the "National Review" because, of course, if you never ask for a comment of the lies you intend to print, you never run the risk of hearing a denial that will neuter your slander.

Our runner up tonight, speaking of slanders, author Jerome Corsi, the Obama libeler. He has insisted that the Obama campaign has, quote, failed to prove a single falsehood contained in the pages of the book. This as he released a list of 11 corrections for the second edition of falsehoods he included in the first edition, many of them, you guessed it, provided and proved by the Obama campaign.

But our winner, Sean Hannity, whose magic consists of his fantastically poor short-term memory. "Obama, Hannity squeaked, "says Fox News and Republican commentators suggest that, in other words, he is a Muslim. No one has ever suggested that. Now we're going to go through this record here today, because this is an falsehood on his part."

Let's do that. Let's see, January 19th, 2007, those Fox morning geniuses, led by Steve Doocy, insisted that Obama was raised by his Muslim father as a Muslim and was educated in a madrassa. The same day Fox TV host John Gibson - I'm sorry, former Fox TV John Gibson - he got fired - said that Hillary Clinton's team had revealed, quote, that Obama was educated in a Muslim Madrassa. February 27th, 2008, Fox's ex-beauty pageant contestant Gretchen Carlson said, the connotation is that Barack Obama is a Muslim potentially. June 16th, 2008, Fox's infallible Brit Hume noted the reference at the Obama website that he's never been a Muslim, but added, butchering a story out of the "Jerusalem Post," that, quote, Obama's half-brother is not so sure.

And, of course, on June 6th of this year, Fox's E.D. Hill asked if a fist bump between Barack and Michelle Obama might be, quote, a terrorist fist jab. But no, Sean Hannity says nobody on Fox Noise ever suggested Obama was a Muslim. How does he say this with a straight face? To modify the old joke, no brain, no shame. Sean Hannity, today's worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN: They have declared the Republican party began only five days ago, A.B., after Bush. They happily kept the president out of the convention and out of the network special broadcast from it. So, in our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, why on Earth would John McCain's handlers turned for campaign guidance to Bush's brain? The Washington insider publication "The Hill" today citing a meeting with Colorado Republican delegates last Wednesday, after which Karl Rove admitted to having friends in the McCain campaign who occasionally seek his advice, a conflict only amplified by another inconvenient fact, that he wrote a 2,300 dollar check to the McCain campaign on February 7th, two days after his first appearance as a supposedly independent commentator on Fixed News.

During a "Washington Post" online chat in May, Rove had kind of denied all this: "I'm not certain that I qualify as an adviser to McCain. I have friends at the campaign who occasionally ask me for reactions. And the Fox network is well of that, and similar by some of their Democratic analyst."

Our own Rachel Maddow joins us from her own set, where her new show will begin again in just a few moments. Good evening.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Hi, Keith. Nice to see you.

OLBERMANN: It goes without saying this would be a journalistic ethics violation if Fox practiced journalism. Here's what I want to know: why would McCain's advisers, who are trying to distance him from Bush era everything, not discourage him from hiring Bush advisers. I'm there's Rove, Steve Schmidt, who has become McCain's leg breaker with the media, a Bush alum too. There's lots of others.

MADDOW: And not just Rove and Schmidt. When they've had to put together a team to sort of package Sarah Palin and get her ready as the new vice presidential nominee on short notice, that entire team was all Bush alums, including Tucker Eskew, who they signed up to work with Sarah Palin. Tucker Eskew, of course, is blamed in McCain circles for having coordinated the whole John McCain has a black baby thing in 2000 in South Carolina.

They've not only gone with Bush guys. They've gone with Bush guys who campaigned against McCain. I think they just don't care anymore. I think they've decided that people care more about what they say about their distance from Bush than what they demonstrate.

OLBERMANN: Tucker Eskew, as he's also known. If Rove has been working with McCain, Why have McCain and Rove hidden it?

MADDOW: Well, two reasons. I do think that the name Rove has become a bit of an epithet in American politics, even a little bit on the Republican side, just in terms of nastiness, cynicism and playing to polls rather than policy. I think when Karl Rove got put in charge of domestic policy in the United States, down to getting put in charge of rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Katrina, I think there was an American recoiling of that left, right and center - recoiling against that left, right and center. That's part of it.

The other part of it is that as long as they don't admit to it, he gets to stay on Fox News as an independent analyst and how convenient that is.

OLBERMANN: The Obama campaign has already called McCain's campaign a Karl Rove campaign. This would seem to be low-hanging fruit for Obama. What should he and his campaign do with this?

MADDOW: I think that Karl Rove is a very soft target, if they do want to go after him. I think they've sort of floated the idea that they're going to do that. I suspect we'll hear a lot more about Karl Rove and McCain, especially today with this super nasty McCain ad out, essentially accusing Barack Obama of inappropriately targeting kindergartners with sex education. As the campaign stuff from the McCain campaign gets nastier and nastier, I think they will throw the Rove name around more and more.

But when you do that, you also rile the beast a little bit, and they know that Rove will come back at them both from his perch at Fox News and from his position behind the scenes on the McCain campaign. That's something to reckon with. He's a powerful guy.

OLBERMANN: She's designed obviously as a lightning rod for phony charges of sexism against her. There's one going on tonight where Obama used the phrase lipstick on a pig and they're demanding an apology to Governor Palin, even though McCain said this about half a dozen times in his campaign, referring to things on the Democratic side. Do we have this idea of taking that theme of sexism that emerged in the Democratic primary and turning it around to a Republican advantage? Is that a Rovian tactic, do you think?

MADDOW: I think it's good offense to anticipate what your opponents will do, and to have already cast in mind how you're going to caricature it and throw it back, is just good offense. What we think of as the classic Rovian tactic is taking the thing on which your candidate is weakest and having them campaign on that as if it's their strength. That's where we get the great crucible of the McCain campaign, which is run by lobbyists, completely dominated by lobbyists, and everything from the management of the campaign to the fund-raising, to the positions that he's taking, and to have him be running as the anti-lobbyist guy.

That is classic Rove. That is what they'll teach about Rove's politics in third grade someday, if the country really goes down the tubes.

OLBERMANN: They won't be teaching anything in third grade except creationism. Forget about that. Anyway. Our own Rachel Maddow. host of "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" on MSNBC, coming up in about 30 seconds. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: That's COUNTDOWN for this the 1,959th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. Special comment tomorrow night on how the Republicans have exploited 9/11.