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.