Friday, November 28, 2008

No show. Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

No show. Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday November 26, 2008
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons

Guest: John Dean

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?Change sometimes means bringing back the old guys who did good to replace the new guys who did bad. Former Fed chief, Paul Volcker, back to head a new economic recovery advisory board.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT: But understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost. It comes from me.


OLBERMANN: And Mr. President-elect, what do we do now about torture? The outgoing administration insists it didn't do any. The incoming administration seems disinterested in finding out how not true that is. John Dean joins us.Disaster in Mumbai: The Indian financial center attacked by gunmen, at least 80 dead. They opened fire at a train station and at a popular tourist restaurant.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wanted to-they wanted anyone with British or American passports. Is there anyone who had a British or American passport, they wanted to know. So, I guess, they were after foreigners.


OLBERMANN: Hostages taken, westerners and possibly Americans included at two major hotels. Bests: Accused drunk driver runs himself over. Worst: Urban legend accepted as fact. G.M., Ford, and Chrysler workers are making $70 an hour even though they're really only making around $38 an hour. And, give thanks that Thanksgiving is almost over and there's a year until the next round of Thanksgiving turkey pardons.


PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: After a long, drawn out election season, when the people finally spoke, the name of the ticket sent here to the White House was Pumpkin and Pecan. Pumpkin is right there. Pecan is in an undisclosed location.



OLBERMANN: Yet, it is Sarah Palin's mastery of this topic that now inspires true artists from slate.


GOV. SARAH PALIN, (R) ALASKA: Especially with so much that has gone in the last couple of months that's been so political, obviously, that it's nice to get out and do something to promote a local business.


OLBERMANN: All that and more: Now on Countdown.


PALIN: You need a little bit of levity in this job.


OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Wednesday, November 26th, 55 days until the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. The question tonight, as it pertains to the staggering economy, is whether or not the inauguration is just a formality. Is Barack Obama already the de facto economic commander-in-chief? Our fifth story on the Countdown: Illustrated by two schedules of two presidents: the 44th holding this third news conference on the economy in as many days, the 43rd in his only official act of the day, pardoning a turkey. We only have one president at a time, but why does it feel like the president-elect is the only one doing the job? Mr. Obama today announcing a new economic recovery advisory board headed by former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, 81, and also, by economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee. Their task: To give the new president independent advice and keeping out of a proverbial bubble.


OBAMA: The reality is that sometimes policymaking in Washington can become a little bit too ingrown, a little bit too insular. The walls of the echo chamber can sometimes keep out fresh voices and new ways of thinking. This board will provide that fresh perspective to me and my administration with an infusion of ideas from across the country and from all sectors of our economy.


OLBERMANN: During media questioning, Mr. Obama addressing criticism that he is appointing too many former Clinton officials to his cabinet.


OBAMA: It would be surprising if I selected a treasury secretary who had had no connection with the last Democratic administration because that would mean that the person had no experience in Washington whatsoever. And I suspect that you would be troubled and the American people would be troubled, if I selected a treasury secretary or a chairman of the National Economic Council at one of the most critical economic times in history who had no experience in government whatsoever.


OLBERMANN: And anyone worrying where that promised "change" will come from, told by Mr. Obama to look no further than the Oval Office.


OBAMA: What we are going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking. But understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost. It comes from me. That's my job.


OLBERMANN: The president-elect also looking for change from banking executives, telling Barbara Walters of ABC News that the executives who piloted this financial titanic should forget about giving themselves any bonuses this year.


OBAMA: I think that if you are worth tens of millions of dollars, and you are having to layoff workers, the least you can do is say, "I'm willing to make some sacrifice as well because I recognize that there are people who are a lot less well-off who are going through some pretty tough times."


OLBERMANN: Speaking of tough times as most poultry in Wasilla, Alaska already know, it's tough time to be a turkey, unless the bird happens to be the lucky recipient of the political pardon. That, as we mentioned, the only item on President Bush's official schedule today, not that anything important happens to be going on in the country these days. After picking up the slack on fixing the economy, President-elect Obama and his wife Michelle brought their daughters with them to a Chicago food bank to hand out hogs and chickens, not turkeys. The president-elect saying that the number of families coming in to that food bank this year is 33 percent higher than it was a year ago. Mr. Obama also stressing on a personal level that his daughters, quote, "learn the importance of how fortunate they are and make sure they are giving back." Time now to call in our own Richard Wolffe, also, of course, senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine. Richard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Let me start with this main point here. On the economy, is Barack Obama in effect already president?

WOLFFE: Well, he is trying to sound like it is. And he is trying to speak to the nation in language that they care about and understand. And it's had an impact on the markets which is an important piece of what Phil Gramm used to call the mental recession. But there is a real recession as well. And it's two months before President Obama takes office and can actually do anything about it. And this economy sorely needs some pretty vigorous action that has more purpose and strategy and ideas than what this administration is doing right now. So, he is half-president and the other guy is a half-president, too. So, I guess, between them, there's a whole one.

OLBERMANN: An unexpected claim here from me, anyway, about that, by really playing that role, lame duck to the hilt, is President Bush doing the president-elect and doing the economy and doing those who are trying to fix the economy something of a favor? Is this actually good policy as opposed to just negligence?

WOLFFE: I don't think they see it as negligence, clearly. And I don't think it really helps anyone politically. In the end, good politics is based on good policy. And the problem with the kind of action we've seen from this administration is that it hasn't had the desired effect. It costs a huge amount of money. But they seem to have come to the end of the road of their ideas. And again, two months is a long time for an economy that could spiral further into possibly deflation or a depression more than just a recession.

OLBERMANN: One quote from the Obama news conference really stood out. This one about, "Understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost, it comes from me." How does that phrase, in your assessment, differ from the commander-in-chief declaring himself the decider?

WOLFFE: Well, both of them have a certain hubris attached to them. So, I guess, there is an assertion of being the boss which is similar but, I think there's a big difference between setting an overall policy strategy, the vision, as the president-elect called it, and being a man of action, a self-styled decider, someone who is constantly making decisions without the follow-through to make sure those decisions are either well-planned and or executed appropriately. And that's the decider concept that the president had which has taken us into Iraq and many other dead-ends of policy.

OLBERMANN: And looking forward, on Monday next, the president-elect will announce his national security team. Is that expected to include the name of the secretary of state?

WOLFFE: Yes, it is. And it seems like it's a done deal, that it will be, indeed, Senator Clinton, and other members of the national security team, likely to be James Jones, a former marine general, as national security advisor. I think you're going to see a number of announcements next week on that foreign policy front.

OLBERMANN: Is there anything else, any surprises in there that you're aware of?

WOLFFE: Well, I think the key thing to look out for here are some of these deputy positions, see whether they get rolled out as well, because that's going to decide, in many ways, the overall direction of foreign policy and whether there is this change that we have been promised.

OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of MSNBC and "Newsweek"- as always, great thanks. Happy Thanksgiving.

WOLFFE: And to you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: For more on what the Bush administration did to get the economy in the dire condition it is in, let's turn now to our own Jonathan Alter, also, of course, senior editor at "Newsweek" magazine. Good evening, Jon.


OLBERMANN: Do we have any better sense tonight about Obama's assertions during the campaign that this mess was no accident? That this was conservative policy plus Bush negligence?

ALTER: And stupidity on Wall Street, people not being able to assess the real risks of these investments and decisions that they were making. But clearly, there was an ideological policy here that started with those horrible Bush tax cuts which basically screwed over the middle class in favor of the rich. It was a huge transfer of wealth from working people to wealthy people. And they talked about, you know, redistribution.

OLBERMANN: Yes, spreading the wealth (INAUDIBLE).

ALTER: That's what we had. And what's so interesting about what's going on right now is you had people who used to be centrists, like Larry Summers, who's now going to have a lot of power in the Obama White House, who, in recent years had been writing pretty radical columns, talking about this. And he describes it as, you know, the defining policy of our time-this wealth shift to the wealthy. And now, you have a situation where even now, not only are they flying in on corporate jets.


ALTER: . looking for bailouts, but very few have repudiated the idea of bonuses. What happened to the idea you only get a bonus when you make money? We're going to have people on Wall Street this year who are going to still get bonuses, not the top guys, maybe, but the people who are just making a few million dollars, not many millions of dollars are going to continue to get bonuses. It's really outrageous.

OLBERMANN: But then, you're looking at the bailout as a kind of bonus or, at least, a reward for ineptitude, which is the same thing you're just talking about, at least in overall concept. To what degree is there's still conservative economic policy in play for the last 50-plus days of the Bush administration-the idea of the bailout still is: Wall Street first, then maybe, Main Street?

ALTER: I don't think that's conservative ideology because you have to unclog the arteries. You know, the financial industry is not the same as any other industry. It's the source of the life blood for all of the rest of the economy. And that's just the way our economy works. So, it was actually quite a liberal thing that Hank Paulson did. He did it ineptly, at first, brought up this toxic paper before they kind of reformed their plan and got it on something that still might not work, but, at least, is worth a try. But there's nothing conservative about what Paulson did.

OLBERMANN: Lastly, a variant of what I asked Richard, not only did President Bush do nothing but pardon this turkey, but he rescheduled that ceremony by half an hour.


OLBERMANN: He shifted it so as not to interfere with Obama's now daily economic news conference. Is Bush doing his best work as president by doing no work as president?

ALTER: Well, it's a great point. I mean, he is acting the most presidential in the level of his cooperation with Obama that he has for the entire term. And he's sounding more gracious and more presidential. It's really rather strange, but it is an improvement over Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt.


ALTER: . where they were yelling at each other throughout the transition.

OLBERMANN: Franklin Roosevelt, you bring him up, why, again?


OLBERMANN: What's the name of that book, again, Jon?

ALTER: You can't blame me.

OLBERMANN: Give it a plug, it's the Christmas shopping season.

ALTER: It's called "The Defining Moment."

OLBERMANN: That's right.

ALTER: Which is the phrase that you are hearing a lot these days from our president-elect.

OLBERMANN: Jonathan Alter of "Newsweek" and MSNBC and "The Defining Moment," great thanks for your time, Happy Thanksgiving.

ALTER: Thanks, Keith. You, too.

OLBERMANN: The attacks apparently focused on western tourists in India. There are new numbers at this hour and one has been increased: 82 dead now reported but the number injured has been downgraded, has been reduced from about 250 to now they say about 125 - if I'm reading this correctly. So, that is-yes, 120 injured. The latest from Mumbai-next.


OLBERMANN: Carnage again in the Indian city once known as Bombay. Teams of armed gunmen attacked hotels, restaurants, a train station in Mumbai. Now, 82 reported dead according to officials. But the word of 250 more injured is now down to 120. Westerners targeted perhaps as hostages. The breaking news, plus, whether or not a terror warning here about New York City's subways is just more of the same old political exploitation. And later in Worsts: Glen Beck calls for secession to protest the Obama election. And why those stories about $70 an hour autoworkers are completely false by a factor of nearly 50 percent? All ahead here on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: It began around 10:00 o'clock at night, coordinated attacks throughout one of the world's major cities. Gunmen ran into a busy train station, and two hotels, and a popular restaurant, an airport, two hospitals, and they attacked the police head-on. They killed three top officials including the state's anti-terrorism chief and at least 79 other people. Hundreds more wounded, the latest number, 120 is the estimate from the officials there including-a U.S. official tells NBC News, one American seriously injured. Our fourth story tonight: Unknown terrorists and a world financial capital under siege, Mumbai, India, the historic city once known as Bombay. At this hour, Mumbai police, the Indian army, still responding, having killed four, they say, and captured nine terrorists, but still apparently in standoffs with terrorists at those hotels. One of those hotels, the century-old Taj where terrorists were still, reported, inside, holding hostages. As daylight has broken, shots were just heard there, about dozen as you may have seen in the graphic on the report from one of the Indian networks. Fifteen foreigners there, the Taj CEO e-mailing NBC's Peter Greenberg tonight, reporting the hotel in lockdown with 200 guests and staff evacuated. Police there are cornering five armed men on the sixth floor. And word from one who escaped the Oberoi Trident Hotel, about just who the gunmen were looking for.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wanted to-they wanted anyone with British or American passports. Is there anyone who had a British or American passport, they wanted to know.


OLBERMANN: The Oberoi Trident and the Taj hotels, the CST railway station, the Leopold Cafe were the sites of the main attacks with others reported elsewhere in the nation's financial center, carried out with AK-47s and grenades. President Bush, tonight, in a statement condemning the attack, the White House is saying U.S. diplomats are safe, but cannot say whether any Americans are among the hostages. And we have report that an American has been seriously injured there. An unknown group claiming responsibility but India has been in fierce struggles with multiple terrorist groups for years. Today, not even the worst of it. Forty-five died on 18 bombings across Assam on October 30th, 17 dead on October 21st, eight on the 14th, 35 dead in four September attacks, 209 killed in seven coordinated bombings on July 11th, 2006 at trains and train stations also in Mumbai. The precursor for all of this: The devastating coordinated attacks on a single day in 1993, 257 died after 13 bombs went off also targeting India's financial capital of Mumbai. With us tonight: MSNBC terrorism analyst, Roger Cressey, former staffer at the National Security Council. Roger, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Do we learn anything from the similarities and the differences between today's attacks and the past attacks in India?

CRESSEY: Well, I think, one thing that is very different right now is the separating of western hostages and holding them. Most of the attacks we have seen have been a function of the suicide bombing phenomenon or remotely-detonated bombs. So, as the hostage drama plays out right now at the Taj, I think that is the real, unique component to all of this. And it really gets the issue of who was behind it. If this was truly homegrown, then it would not be a scenario where they would look to separate the westerners. If there's outside influence, and that's far more likely, that said, Keith, al Qaeda's M.O. in past has not been to go for hostages, it's to go for as many casualties as possible. So, there's a lot of competing potential scenarios here. And I think we all are going to wait and see exactly how it plays out before we start assigning blame.

OLBERMANN: Yes, but you're-I'm reading into what you said there, that your concern out of this might be is that if this is international terrorism as opposed to something domestic for India, this is perhaps al Qaeda-related or inspired, that we might have just seen their tactics change because they don't go for confrontations with the police, they apparently went head to head in pitched battle with policemen on the streets of Mumbai. And as you point out, al Qaeda has never gone for hostages, it's body count.

CRESSEY: That's right. The other thing to keep in mind is that India, as you've said earlier, has a huge ongoing terrorist problem. It's not just external groups, Pakistani-sponsored groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba. There are a lot of homegrown, domestic groups that have serious grievances, be it with the Muslim community or other issues. So, the operational tempo, unfortunately, has been quite high in India. So, sorting out who actually is going to be responsible for this is a key issue for the police service. And that's why the individuals they have in custody right now are going to be so important. Start to interrogate them, identify who might they've actually been working for.

OLBERMANN: And there is another report at this from India that more shots have been heard at the Taj Hotel, that would be two just before 7:00 local time in the morning of Thursday. There's another unrelated story to this, Roger, that needs your expertise. New York put on notice after a man who was detained in Pakistan told the FBI he had heard al Qaeda's operatives talking about their interest in attacking trains in New York. This is that "boy who cried wolf" moment that we've always talked about because that exact warning has been used politically in the past, we know that that's happened. Why do we give this more credence or do we give this more credence tonight?

CRESSEY: Well, this was low level. I don't think it was that serious. It's what we used to call in the community, "aspirational," not operational (ph). What you know is that this was a real operative who was captured, did not have current threat information but talked about how individuals had said, boy, wouldn't it be nice if we could blow up a subway or railway. That information was passed on to state and local authorities in New York. I think what's important, Keith, is that nobody spun it out of control and said, "Oh, my God, yet another plot." This was low level. I think the system worked well. And hopefully, people won't politicize this one for a change.

OLBERMANN: Roger Cressey, MSNBC terrorism analyst-thank you, Roger, and have a good holiday.

CRESSEY: You too, Keith.

OLBERMANN: And we'll keep our eyes and ears open here for any further developments out of Mumbai. Counterterrorism in the most extreme sense of the term, the subject of tonight's version of our question to the president-elect: What do we do now? Bush probably won't pardon torturers and Obama won't prosecute them. And execution, not of turkeys behind Governor Palin, but by those who have substituted other images for those turkeys. You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment and a classic final line to an "Associated Press" news story, quote, "She was released to her husband and the man was released to his girlfriend." First, rather than mentioning an anniversary, our best wishes tonight from everybody here to our dear friend, our principal make-up artist here at MSNBC since the beginning, Alicia Gernari (ph), who is in the last place you want to be on a holiday, in the hospital. One of the things everybody in this shop is thankful for this Thanksgiving, Lily (ph), as there are every year is your friendship and your professionalism. Get better, kid. Let's play Oddball. We begin near Cochiti Lake, New Mexico. This will put a smile on your face. Police on hot pursuit of a clearly intoxicated driver who swerves all over the road before finally driving right off of it, and then, a moment of sublime poetic justice. As the police approach, the perp falls out of the truck and in a moment right out of Monty Python's Upper Class Twit of the Year competition, the truck runs over his own legs. After a few hours in the hospital, this boy racer is now cooling his heels, at least what's left of them un-bruised in the big house. How could he not get seriously hurt doing this? Moving from the sublime to the ridiculous-this is a civil war roadside attraction created by Mr. Mark Cline of Natural Bridge, Virginia. And, no, you are not hallucinating. It is an Allosaurus eating a Union soldier, right next to a T-rex trying to eat a man and a woman. And the Triceratops knocking a soldier out of the tree. Mr. Cline says he wanted to create an imaginary chapter of the civil war in which the north found a lost valley of dinosaurs and tried to deploy them against the south with disastrous consequences. And that picture, Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg's address while riding a Stegosaurus, nor whatever it is Mr. Cline grows on his property there at Natural Bridge, Virginia. What do we do now? Our nightly segment with a remarkable hypothesis: Bush and Obama may both believe they will be no prosecution of torturers. And you might call this the torture of Sarah Palin. The online satirist so speculate on what else she didn't see going on behind her at the good old turkey farm. These stories ahead. But first up: Countdown's Top Three Best Persons in the World. Number three: Best explanation from the municipal zoo in the city of Kushiro, Japan, which has been wondering why its female polar bear, Korimi (ph), has not mating with its new male polar bear, Shoishi (ph), even though the male arrived to zoo in January of 2005. The obvious answer finally occurred to the zookeepers after they noticed that Siyoshi (ph) and Kurumi (ph) were both urinating in the same fashion. They are both females. Number two, best final line of an AP story, courtesy two fans at the University of Minnesota game last Saturday who were cited for misdemeanor indecent conduct after having sex in the handicap stall in the men's bathroom in the stadium having sex while a crowd of equally intoxicated fans cheered them on. The conclusion of the story, the police chief, quote, said, "The woman initially gave a false name to officers. She was released to her husband and the man was released to his girlfriend." And oh, wouldn't you have wanted to hear what happened after that. Number one best dumb criminal. Francis Clifton Marshall, Washington, DC. Police accused him of robbing a bank on K Street this morning and making a series of poorer choices. The first the getaway car, a cab he hailed on the street outside the bank, the driver took him to the destination, then went back to the bank to tell the police what the destination was. Second the dye pack, it was one of those gas propelled ones. So when it went off, not only did it color him red but it continued to spray him with a fine mist as he walked down the street. And third, according to witness, as the cloud of red dye dust enveloped him, Mr. Marshall tried to run away, which is when his pants fell down. First, he had forgotten mom's warning, not only was he not wearing clean underwear, he wasn't wearing any underwear.


OLBERMANN: This is not that complicated. A, the Bush administration has acknowledged it waterboarded some terror detainees. B, even John McCain acknowledged that waterboarding is torture, therefore C, the Bush administration tortured people. But in a flabbergasting irony, because the administration cannot accept that irrefutable chain of logic, the president is not believed likely to issue sweeping pardons for those who authorized or did the torturing. On the other hand, the Obama administration may not prosecute them. Our third story on the Countdown, our nightly question to the president elect, what do we do now, when it comes to torture? According to the "Wall Street Journals" White House officials believe the blanket pardons are quote, "unnecessary" citing what have become to be known as the torture memos. Written by their own Justice Department, the documents contained language flouting international treaties and federal law forbidding torture to permit tactics just shy of homicide. In turn, they provided broad legal authority and cover for some of the atrocities carried out at Gitmo for example. Further, some former administration officials have argued that a pardon for post 9/11 activities would be tantamount to an admission of wrongdoing. As for what President-Elect Obama will do as president, he's not expected to pursue criminal charges or take high level investigations in the absence of specific news evidence but he is said to consider a 9/11 style commission eventually making many of the findings on torture public. All quote, "bad ideas" says former assistant attorney general from 2003 to 2004 Jack Goldsmith, himself a possible candidate for prosecution if any there is. Writing today in the "Washington Post" quote, "They would bring little benefit and further weaken the Justice Department and the CIA in ways that would compromise our security." Time now to call in John Dean, White House counsel in the Nixon administration, columnist now at And also the author of "Broken Government" and "Worse than Watergate." Good evening, John.


OLBERMANN: Are you surprised by the president-elect's idea of this commission? Does it seem that it's treating this issue a little academically?

DEAN: Frankly, I am. I'm not sure it's academic the way they're thinking about it. It's clearly contrary to what we talked about earlier in a prior broadcasts how he told Will Bunch earlier this year, that immediately upon becoming president if he were elected, he would have his attorney general investigate this very question as to whether these war crimes are just stupid policies or very serious and egregious crimes. A commission is far away from that. A commission is passing the buck. And I've got to tell you also, Keith, in the unraveling of Watergate, we had many high level discussions about how to make it all go away without anybody having liability. We considered many times a commission.

OLBERMANN: I saw that coming down Broadway with its doors open. Say Obama were to pursue some sort of prosecution or high level investigation as we had discussed, as he had said as candidate Obama to our friend Will Bunch, are there legitimate downsides to this? Is there anything here in the criticism by Mr. Goldsmith?

DEAN: Well, I think the biggest downside, potentially is the fact given the timing, if he went early, it could change the atmosphere in Washington. He has a lot of things he needs to do before he turns to an issue like this, like the economy, Iraq, and that could make the atmosphere very difficult. That's what he has to consider and that's what he is considering in talking about a commission.

OLBERMANN: As for President Bush and his reported conclusion about no sweeping, preemptive pardons, is he do you think he's playing a game of chicken or do you think he thinks there was no crime here?

DEAN: I suspect the latter. I read a lot on the Internet in the last few days about this where there were very heated discussions about how he should be prosecuting these people and just nailing them because they have obviously committed very serious war crimes. What everyone is forgetting is how much Bush has already done with Congress when the republicans control in two pieces of legislation. One was the Detainee Treatment Act of '05 and then again in the Military Commissions Act. Both of those, Keith, seriously narrow the criminal liability of anybody that was involved in these. And indeed they let them rely statutorily on these Department of Justice memos that John, Yoo wrote. So this is a very difficult thing to prosecute these people.

OLBERMANN: And the cliched $64,000 question, I know the idea of prosecuting a president after their presidency is a black hole, but is Bush himself in trouble, even theoretically?

DEAN: Not really. I really think it's very remote. Sadly, because he is up to his eyeballs as is Cheney in all this, and they probably are directly involved in what could be a very clear conspiracy, it's not going to happen. It's just another bit of evidence that Richard Nixon might have been right that when a president does it it's not illegal and that's kind of a sad commentary.

OLBERMANN: Well, now that I have hours to contemplate what life is like with a Nixon appointed Watergate commission, I will thank you, as always. John Dean, the author of "Worse than Watergate", "Broken Government." Thanks for your time, have a great Thanksgiving, John.

DEAN: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Thanksgiving turkeys. Not these people - the birds that they - well, maybe these people.Plus genius boy here posits that states that did not vote for Obama should consider secession. Apparently because he has not heard about that Civil War thing where the dinosaurs came and ate the Northern troops. But because they are not going to go away soon enough, the headlines breaking in the administration's 50 running scandals, "Bushed." Number three, Pardongate, more analysis of the first cluster of Bushian last minute magic wand waving showing the continuation of an intriguing thread, Mr. Bush had already pardoned John G. Smith of Texas, formerly of Burnham Savings and Loan, one of the thrifts that collapsed in the 1980s savings and loan scandal. Mr. Bush also pardoned Kenneth Foner (ph) of Texas, convicted of embezzlement of a bank officer in the 1980s saving and loan scandal. Mr. Bush had also pardoned David McCall of Texas on his death bed four years ago for his role in the role in the 1980s savings and loans scandal. Mr. Bush had also pardoned Mark Hale (ph) of Texas, convicted of $5 million worth of fraud in the 1980s savings and loan scandal. And now, Mr. Bush has just pardoned William Hoyle McWright Jr. (ph) of Texas who had been fined and jailed for making false entries, reports or statements of bank during the 1980s savings and loan scandal. I don't want to sound paranoid, but I think I'm beginning to detect a pattern here. Number two, Mukasey gate. Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders has now admitted yes, he was the guy Attorney General Michael Mukasey addressed to Federalist Society last week, defended Gitmo, defended opting out of the Geneva Convention. Justice Sanders finally stood up and shouted, "Tyrant. You are a tyrant." The judge now says he should not have gotten up and yelled but he simply had had enough. And also to be honest, he shouldn't have shouted tyrant, but rather, he should have shouted "tyranny." The number one, delusion-gate. Karl Rove on Fixed News actually claiming at the intersection of politics and policy, quote, "At least in the White House I was in, policy went out. The president I worked for, George Bush, said you know what, let's do right. And the politics will take care of itself." He said that Karl? What a guy. It was policy, not politics when the U.S. attorneys were purged? It was policy not politics when the White House tried to blocked the climate change findings from James Hanson from NASA. It was policy, not politics when you urged the president to stop stem cell research, it was policy not politics when the White House eviscerated Dr. Julie Gerberding when she tried to address global warming at the Centers for Disease Control. It was policy, not politics when the White House insisted every federal scientist had to clear any federal testimony with the Office of Management and Budget? "At least in the White House I was in policy went out." I'm afraid that White House, Mr. Rove, existed only in your imagination.


OLBERMANN: Used to be a simply little photo-op. President pardons turkey at Thanksgiving, gobble, gobble, camera's roll, everyone goes home. Now, it is an epic biblical proportions starring George W. Bush and Sarah Palin and Dan Aykroyd and Julia Child and Kerry. That's next. Bit first time for Countdown's number two story, tonight's "Worst Persons in the World." The bronze Ladonna Hail Kurzen (ph), executive director at WS Radio which describes itself as the world leader in Internet talk radio and says it has launched a new radio show or network or something called "Sarah Palin Radio." It's supposed to be an hour a week, not featuring the governor of Alaska, but about her. The proprietors suggest that herself might appear occasionally by phone. Maybe she could get the French President Nicolas Sarkozy to phone in, too. Whatever the plan is, as of this afternoon, going to the Sarah Palin Radio Web site and clicking on the listen to Sarah Palin button brings you ironically enough to "John McCain Radio", with your host John McCain and the advisory that you can listen to John McCain's final broadcast on "John McCain Radio." And so long until tomorrow. Our silver medallist tonight, Glenn Beck who recently dropped out of reality based media to join Fixed News and to whom the last election is neither positive nor something he believes really happened. "So the question is," he asks on radio, "do states have the right to succeed anymore? Because it's a compact, it's not perpetual. In fact in the Declaration of Independence it says it's our right. It's our responsibility to get away from a government who doesn't listen to us any more. Do you have the right to do that as a state anymore? Do you have the right to say you know what, you guys are going down a path I don't even agree with. Is that even possible?" Of course it is, Glenn. They did it in 1860 and 1861 and it only led to a civil war that killed 600,000 Americans. It's called treason. And coming from a guy who more than once has shouted into his microphone, "This is America, love it or leave it." It's also undeniable, indefensible, stupid hypocrisy. But our winner, Andrew Ross Sorkin and "The New York Times." There are far worse transgressors, it's even been done on this network in the morning, afternoon and the evening. But he started it. Mr. Sorkin was the one who wrote, quote, "At General Motors, the average worker is paid $70 an hour including health care and pension costs." This has been picked up by Charles Krauthammer and Newt Gingrich and every facts optional conservative and sadly a lot of effort optional liberals and independents. And it's bull crap. It's a way to come up with a big outlandish sexy number and a way blame the workers in the union for the disaster in Detroit. The Center for Automotive Research said that the average hourly wage at GM, Chrysler and Ford last year was not $70 an hour, but $28 an hour. Where does that crazy figure of $70 come from? If you take all the hourly wages the Big Three are paying their employees and add the health benefits they get and you add in their pensions and you add in what the companies pay in health care to their retired workers and you add in the pensions they pay to retired workers and you add in the money they pay to the surviving spouses of the dead retired workers, you take that big number and then you divide it by the number of hours actually worked by just the active auto industry employees, your answer is then 70. It's like asking what is the average salary of everyone in the United States. Then you add in the Social Security check being sent to anybody who is retired but then you only divide it by the number of active workers. It's mathematically and intellectually dishonest. The guys who are spending this Thanksgiving in Detroit in dread of their jobs vanishing before Christmas are making $28 an hour, maybe $38 with benefits and pension. Now they are also getting this $70 an hour crap thrown at them. All thanks to Andrew Ross Sorkin and "The New York Times." Today's worst persons in the worlds.


OLBERMANN: At the top of the hour, Rachel Maddow with the full coverage of the attacks today in Mumbai, India, the city once known as Bombay. The headlines for the moment, at least a handful of terrorists still believed to be holding hostages, possibly westerners at two hotels. Gunfire reported at what is about 7:30 a.m. Local Time at the Taj Hotel. Gunfire reported this morning there. A U.S. official telling NBC News and MSNBC that this nation knows of one American seriously injured. The various reports put the total death toll of these attacks, mostly guns and grenades at 82 to 86. But the original count of 250 injured has now been reduced to 120. Full details in a moment with Rachel Maddow. Sometimes the politically bizarre is so bizarre that even political satirists need some time to recover and get back to the serious business of satire. Such it is as Slate finally marries the Sarah Palin turkey atrocity video to such as things as, oh, nuclear holocaust, the movie "Carrie" and Dan Aykroyd portraying Julia Child as an accident victim. Our number one story on Countdown, that bit of brilliance ahead. But first the continuing bizarreness of reality. Fresh from his pardon of Leslie Owen Collier, who killed three bald eagles in 1995, President Bush today did not try to top Palin's almost out of body experience, but did the turkey pardon thing anyway. The president no stranger to the traditional Thanksgiving bird having bowled with a frozen one while governor of Texas.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will be the death of any thoughts this man ever had as being president.



All right!


OLBERMANN: Man, that explains the last eight years, turkeys do vote. The president paying them back this morning with the official annual pardoning of the national Thanksgiving turkey after the requisite dig at the media.


BUSH: Turkeys are not only the ones on edge this morning. You see, it turns out the Rose Garden is Barney's turf, so the press corps is a little nervous as well.


OLBERMANN: It was then on to the actual pardoning of two lucky turkeys.


BUSH: After a long, drawn out election season, and when the people finally spoke, the name of the ticket sent here to the White House was Pumpkin and Pecan. Pumpkin is right there, Pecan is in an undisclosed location. This is my final Thanksgiving as the president. In recent weeks I've talked a lot about sprinting to the finish. Yet I've assured these turkeys they will not be trotting to their finish. That's because in keeping with a long standing tradition, Pumpkin and Pecan are granted a full and unconditional presidential pardon.


OLBERMANN: Is that the president's ride I heard approaching in the background there? Take note, Governor Palin. He did no post pardon interview like you conducted without realizing the incongruity of the grisly backdrop. Slate's brilliant video satire of that, but first a refresher and the governor's possible excuses, courtesy of David Letterman. A reminder, it was pretty graphic, this is uncensored, so it's time to get kids, vegetarians and squeamish people out of the room. Ready? Roll it.


QUESTION: What are you going to cook for Thanksgiving?

GOV. SARAH PALIN, (R) AK: I'll be in charge of the turkey. My sisters and mom will bring everything else. I'm always in charge of the turkey so I am where I need to be today to prepare for that.


OLBERMANN: For the grand finale send up as to what excuse the governor of Alaska could possibly have for allowing such an interview to take place, here is Dave.


DAVID LETTERMAN, TALK SHOW HOST: Number 10, I can see Russia, but I can not see what's going on five feet behind me. Number nine, not thinking straight after spending all night reading every newspaper and magazine. Number eight, damn, gotcha media got me again. Number seven, my Remington shotgun says I don't need an excuse. Number six, those were al Qaeda turkeys. Those were al Qaeda turkeys, ladies and gentlemen. Number five, I thought they were just torturing the little guy. Number four, I mean doggone like you know we have to lower taxes and like it all falls under job security and we need to drill you know. And number three, stomach flu? Number two, I'll get right back to you, I'm still adorable, America. And Sarah Palin's number one excuse. Don't blame me, blame Joe the Turkey Slaughterer. There you go.


OLBERMANN: Bad, indicative of a few blind spots for the governor, political and maybe optical, you betcha. But as some creative folks at remind us, it could have been worse and she could have ignored much more.


PALIN: It was just a blast out there on the trail. I don't think it's changed me at all. I have the same values and convictions and positions and policies and just a greater appreciation for what other candidates go through. It's pretty brutal. Oh, well, this was neat. I was happy to get to be invite today participate in this. And for one, you need a little levity in this job, especially with so much has gone on in the last couple months, political, obviously that it's nice to get out and promote a local business and to just participate in something that isn't so heavy handed politics that it invites criticism.

Certainly we will probably invite criticism for doing this, too, but at least it was fun.


OLBERMANN: Save the liver. That's Countdown for this, the 2027th day since the declaration of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. And as our MSNBC coverage continues, a Happy Thanksgiving in advance to Rachel Maddow. Rachel?


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday November 25, 2008
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons

Guests: Chris Hayes, Paul Krugman, Chris Cillizza, Candace Gingrich

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Gates at the barbarians. Breaking news: Mr. Bush's secretary of defense to remain such in the Obama administration, for at least a year. "That's been a done deal for some time," a source tells our Jim Miklaszewski. "No other name has been seriously floated as a possible candidate." "And a dream team selected for Gates," says the source. But, is a Bush carryover a nightmare for the base? A new budget director who knows where the bodies are buried.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT: Budget reform is not on option. It's a necessity.


OLBERMANN: Paul Krugman on the reality of how much budget fat there is to cut. The campaign is over but the melody lingers on, John McCain is running again-for Senate in 2010. And he'll make Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano the secretary of homeland security.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: I've already talked with her and look forward to moving her nomination as quickly as possible through the United States Senate.


OLBERMANN: Just a moment there, Sparky. She hasn't been nominated yet, nor has she.


MCCAIN: I think that Governor Palin's future is very bright in the Republican Party.


OLBERMANN: Perhaps that's why a political action committee is going to run ads thanking her on Thanksgiving Day? Thanksgiving-for the turkeys? Startling polling from California. Eight percent of those who voted for the same-sex marriage ban, Prop Eight, now say they have changed their minds. That might be just enough to overturn the ban at the next election. Activist Candace Gingrich, the sister of the former speaker of the House, joins us. Best: The petition to pardon former Congressman Duke Cunningham. You will not believe how many signatures are on it-or aren't on it. Ann Coultergeist: Reportedly, her jaw is broken and has been wired shut. I had nothing to do with it. All that and more: Now on Countdown.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Sarah Palin.


OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Tuesday, November 25th, 56 days until the inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama.It is a done deal. The man whose campaign for president began with the idea that he alone among the major candidates stood against the invasion of Iraq will be keeping President Bush's war chief as his own. Our fifth story on the Countdown: Sources telling three different news organizations, including this one, that Robert Gates will remain as secretary of defense for at least one year. According to the source who spoke to our own Pentagon correspondent, Jim Miklaszewski, it has been, quote, "a done deal for sometime. No other name has been seriously floated as a possible candidate." According to the source, the deal was sealed for Gates when former Marine Corps candidate, Jim Jones, was mentioned as the probable candidate for National Security Adviser, former commander of NATO. reporting he is, in fact, in. Former Admiral Dennis Blair was named as the likely pick for the director of national intelligence, the source calling that a "dream team" that Gates could work with. ABC News reporting that President-elect Obama is expected to rollout his entire national security team after the Thanksgiving holiday. Not just Gates, Jones and Blair, but also, Senator Clinton as secretary of state, and Dr. Susan rice, an Obama foreign policy adviser during the campaign as ambassador to the United Nations. Time now to call in our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine, and not in the new cabinet. Good evening, Howard.


OLBERMANN: Does this appointment, presuming this is correct, that it's so widespread-one has to assume it is-does it say more about Obama or about Rumsfeld, or should we be focusing on how different a defense secretary Mr. Gates has been from Mr. Rumsfeld?

FINEMAN: Well, I think it says a lot about both Obama and Gates. Barack Obama was advised many, many months ago, especially as the economy deteriorated, that he needed to focus on that and he would use some continuity at the Pentagon. And that's what he's done here. He's got enough to deal with, with trying to rescue the economy. He's going to leave things pretty much alone, at least, beginning at the Pentagon. But it was that new team and it was the fact that Gates has been in many ways, the anti-Rumsfeld. He's talked about scaling back the expansive duties of the Pentagon. He's talked about realism in foreign policy and defense deployment-in many was, the opposite of what Rumsfeld enabled as Gates is kind of managed first the surge and then the beginning of what is going to soon be a wind-down.

OLBERMANN: As he obviously would help the president-elect in establishing a relationship with the military structure, with the brass, the hierarchy with the complex, if you will, does it also help protect him in a more cynical sense against whatever might go wrong in Iraq?

FINEMAN: Well, sure, Keith. You know, this discussion was held briefly about Hank Paulson. Do you keep him on? The answer was "no" with a capital "N." You don't want to own Hank Paulson in any way. But the opposite is the case with Gates. Gates has been widely viewed as a very successful follow-on to the disasters of Rumsfeld in terms of management, in terms of outlook, and so forth. He's done a good job by all accounts. But if something does go wrong as Obama begins to draw down the number of troops in Iraq and try to transfer some to Afghanistan, you want to have somebody else to blame and cynically, if necessary, that would be Gates. But I don't think that's going to happen. In part, because the key here are the other names you mentioned, Jones and Blair and others-that is viewed, within the Pentagon, as a "dream team" and are viewed around town, including by Democrats on the Hill that I talked to. These aren't the lefties but they these are the establishment Democrats on the House side and elsewhere, this is a very strong team and the man to watch is Jones, because he's really going to be calling the shots from inside the White House.

OLBERMANN: Is it curious, Jim Miklaszewski's source phrase that he used, "No other name has been seriously floated as a possible candidate," that all of what we heard about Senator Hagel or Senator Reid, or former Navy Secretary Danzig, that he went right to Gates and settled there, or at least it seems that-what does that mean? How curious is that?

FINEMAN: Well, that's very interesting. It means that Obama is for both competence and continuity when that makes sense. I mean, the old notion of conservative that personnel is policy, that it's key whom you pick because of their predetermined policy views, is not the way Obama views the world and that's not the kind of people he's picking. I know Senator Evan Bayh, among others-I spoke with Senator Bayh a little while ago-he said that he advised Obama many months ago to keep Gates for continuity purposes, because the economy was deteriorating, because the war need to be wound down in Iraq. Keep that guy there who's won ride respect around town and on the Hill at least for a year.

OLBERMANN: And how does "at least for a year" fit into this equation? How does the secretary seem or avoid seeming like a lame duck?

FINEMAN: Well, the word on the Hill is that he would love to leave town, that he's building a home out in Seattle, that's where he'd like to be. He's staying on as a matter of duty and at the president-elect's call. The way he avoids being a lame duck is by helping Obama manage the construction of a new Obama Pentagon and a new Obama defense and foreign policy outlook that will include a lot of strong-minded people-General Jones, Admiral Blair, Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, and Bob Gates-he'll be in on the construction of the new Democratic Obama Pentagon.

OLBERMANN: Our own Howard Fineman of "Newsweek"- as always, Howard, great thanks, and if we don't speak, Happy Thanksgiving.

FINEMAN: Same to you, Keith. Thank you.

OLBERMANN: President-elect Obama ran, of course, for office on the message of change. So, flatly, how on earth does keeping the current secretary of defense equate with change? Bob Gates has only served President Bush since December 2006 but he was the first Bush's last director of central intelligence and he was what might be called an accessory to Iran-Contra. All of that would be plenty to upset the Democratic base. As one former Clinton official told Mark Perry of the "Asia Times" when he heard about the mere possibility of keeping Gates in office, quote, "The election was a clean sweep and that includes Bob Gates. It's called a changing government." We're joined now by Chris Hayes, Washington editor of "The Nation" magazine. Chris, thanks for your time tonight.

CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: To the point of that former Clinton official's named or unnamed point, how is-you know what I mean-how is Obama going to reconcile the campaign message "change" with, at the Pentagon, absolutely no change whatsoever, same guy from the key reform, if you will, guy from the Bush administration?

HAYES: Well, I think, in some ways, that ship has already sailed. I mean, even before we got to Gates, it was already clear when you're talking about people like Lawrence Summers, when you're talking about Senator Clinton at State, it was already clear that change was not being conceptualized from the perspective of the Obama people as a massive sort of clean slate, sweeping of the personnel. That we're going to essentially see a lot of familiar faces. Gates is the most cute example of that because, as you know, he's actually a Bush administration official. But we already have been introduced to that. So, there's nothing disruptive about this specific instance. What's disruptive is getting one's head around what role personnel is going to play in the administration generally.

OLBERMANN: Many on the left have said they don't care who the appointee is so long as they carry out a policy that Obama puts in place. Is that likely to be the main reaction to this news? I mean, this is obviously not a surprise, but here it is apparently in stone.

HAYES: I don't know what the main reaction is going to be. I do think that that's true. Look-progressive people on the left, you know, we care about outcomes, right? We want peace. We want security. We want justice. We want broadly shared prosperity. These values are what's driving people's concerns and seeing an administration that implements policies that further those values is ultimately what it's all about. Right now, we're kind of guessing in the dark. Everybody is sort of reading the tea leaves because they're worried about an administration that doesn't pursue the policies and the outcomes that we want to see. And so, I think everyone would agree that if Robert Gates is the man to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home, and manage a successful and peaceful transition out of occupying that country, then people aren't going to care that it's Robert Gates. The question is, you know, is that policy going to be what's pursued and there's reasons to start worrying that it won't be.

OLBERMANN: In addition to the Gates announcement, we're getting word today that John Brennan had withdrawn his name from consideration as director of central intelligence and that was seen as a victory for those on the left because Brennan had not spoken out forcefully on torture.


OLBERMANN: Is there just a coincidence here? Is there some mitigation of Gates by the Brennan sort of withdrawal? Is there sort of a tit-for-tat on this?

HAYES: You know, I don't think it's that. I mean, I would surprise if it were that thought out. I do think that Brennan withdrawal is a good thing and I do think that, again, I mean, it's easy when we start thinking about-because we're a little bit in a kind of dark space right now in terms of what actual decisions are going to be made by the administration because they're not in power yet-you know, it's easy to read a lot into personnel but it's important from-again, from the perspective of core value and someone who is not sufficiently outspoken in denouncing the torture regime was not allowed to be, you know, part of the administration's efforts to sort of transition in the intelligence agencies. So I think, again, that reaffirms something that a sort of core principle but I don't think it's useful to see it as a kind of tit-for-tat, you know, that the left wins one victory and maybe loses something on Gates.

OLBERMANN: Is there overall insurance for Obama in suggesting-having suggested that he would be bipartisan, certainly putting out feelers and hints that he would try to be bipartisan in office, that here's a shining example of that-you're putting as important a role as you could have in the hands of somebody who literally traced back to Iran-Contra?

HAYES: Yes. Look-strategically and I'm speaking purely strategically here, the most charitable interpretation, I think, of Obama's strategy vis-a-vis personnel early on, is a kind of sort of co-opting, embracing of the establishment. Now, the establishment in Washington, D.C. is very strong. It has-and I think that there's an awareness of how strong that is and that might prove to be useful going forward.

OLBERMANN: Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of "The Nation," tonight's representative of the angry left.


OLBERMANN: Thanks, Chris. Have a good weekend.

HAYES: I'm so not angry.

OLBERMANN: I know you're not. That was I'm saying, it's sort of-that was irony. I'm not pulling it off well tonight.


OLBERMANN: Have a good weekend if we don't talk.

HAYES: You, too. Happy Holiday.

OLBERMANN: And then there's the economy. The president-elect with news conferences now on back-to-back days and the third one scheduled tomorrow. This would have exhausted Mr. Bush. And, a new director of the budget today who, Mr. Obama says, "knows where the bodies are buried." Paul Krugman on whether there's enough trimmable budget fat to really make a difference. And a note on those news conferences, John McCain holding one today and a reporter actually began a question by saying, Governor-and, no, I don't know who keeps testing the lights on the Christmas tree here at Rockefeller Center that isn't supposed to be lit until next Wednesday, but, yes, for some reason you're getting a sneak preview right here on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Paul Krugman on the now daily Obama economic news conference. The first news conference for John McCain since (INAUDIBLE), including 97,000 question about Sarah Palin, plus a very Freudian slip from a reporter. Later: Who knew Dick Morris can be bought. And this is not from the onion, Coultergeist, reportedly, breaks her jaw and has had to have it wired shut. You're expecting me to make a joke about that? How could I possibly make that sound funnier?


OLBERMANN: Jumpstart the economy, eliminate programs we don't need, and reduce the deficit. Our fourth story on the Countdown: We might, indeed, only have one president at a time, but the new guy is evidently capable of having more than one news conference a year and more than one economic goal at a time. Every night until the inauguration of the president, we are asking the question on the most urgent issue of the day: What do with do now? Today, more details from President-elect Obama on how he plans to fix the economy while attempting to shave the budget and reduce the deficit at the very same time. President-elect Obama announcing that Peter Orszag will be his budget director, a job he currently holds for Congress, a job for which he would seem to be uniquely qualified.


OBAMA: Peter doesn't need a map to tell him where the bodies are buried in the federal budget. He knows what works and what doesn't, what's worthy of our precious tax dollars and what is not.


OLBERMANN: With his budget director's help, the president-elect pledging to make budget restraint a priority in his administration, but only after the economic recovery is well-underway first.


OBAMA: Budget reform is not an option. It's a necessity. We are going to have to jumpstart the economy and there's consensus that that requires a bold plan to make the investments in the future. But we have to make sure that those investments are wise. We have to make sure that ware not wasting money in every area.


OLBERMANN: Instead of as a big government or a small government, the president-elect preferring that his government be thought of as a "smart government."


OBAMA: I think what the American people want more than anything is just commonsense, smart government. They don't want ideology. They don't want bickering. They don't want sniping. They want action and they want effectiveness.


OLBERMANN: In order to achieve his ambitious, theoretically contradictory agenda, Mr. Obama promising to consult with Republicans along the way, never mind the massive amount of political capital he's seemed to have accumulated according to the Bush standard.


OBAMA: I don't think that there's any question that we have a mandate to move the country in a new direction and not continue the same old practices that have gotten us into the fix that we're in. But I won 53 percent of the vote. That means 46 percent or 47 percent of the country voted for John McCain. And it's important as I said, on election night, that we enter into the new administration with a sense of humility.


OLBERMANN: Let's turn now to Paul Krugman, professor of economics at Princeton University, op-ed columnist at the "New York Times," author of the new book, "The Return of Depression Economics and The Crisis of 2008," to out early next month, since he was last kind enough to join us, announced as winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize for economics. Dr. Krugman, congratulations, belatedly, and thanks for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN: The implication of Mr. Orszag and buried bodies in the budget, that you can work a very minor, perhaps, economic miracle in trimming the fat, is that true? Is there validity to it?

KRUGMAN: It depends. You know, the old waste fraud and abuse thing is everybody who is serious knows it's not a big deal. I mean, of course, there's wasted dollars, there's bureaucrats doing nothing much on salary, but that's not a big thing, that's trivial. What Peter Orszag has done-he's, you know, a great choice for the job. He's talked about the big things, things like Medicare spending a lot of money on treatments that don't actually improve people's health, huge disparities on what Medicare spends in different parts of the country. There are things like overpaying the drug companies for the Medicare drug program. I'm hoping that an Obama administration, together with Congress, can actually start bargaining for fairer prices on those drugs. So, there's a bunch of stuff. Now, it's nowhere close to saving the amount of money that's going to be needed, you know, to ultimately pay for all the things we're doing to rescue the economy right now.

OLBERMANN: There was a poll from ABC News today that suggested that 67 percent of Americans like the way Obama is handling the transition. That has got to be, in part, about his high profile during it. Three days in a row, there will be new press conferences about this subject and, obviously, it's got to be in part about putting his face and neck out there in terms of the economy. Is he right to do it that way and this way? Is there any other option?

KRUGMAN: I don't think so. I mean, we actually-the economy is in terrible shape. We're probably losing, you know, 300,000 jobs a month or so at the moment. So, things are falling apart pretty fast. Confidence is falling apart pretty fast. It would be nice if we could have collaborative work between the outgoing administration and the incoming administration. We're not actually going to get that. So, the best that you can do on the economy is, at least, to convince people that help is on the way. You know, the cavalry is coming. Look at these great guys I got. Here's my team. We have-we're putting a plan together. So, no, I think, in some ways, the management of economic policy is already in Obama's hands and he's got to do it now.

OLBERMANN: In addition to the original $700 billion in the bailout, today it appeared that Secretary Paulson was trying to pull another $600 billion from the Fed for Fannie, Freddie, Ginnie, is there the prospect still here that the lame duck administration can still do a lot of damage to the economy in the next 56 days?

KRUGMAN: There is, although, this one is actually, this is just a-there's nothing wrong with this. You know, we own Fannie and Freddie. They've been nationalized. Effectively, the U.S. government is now having the Federal Reserve buy up the debt of a piece of the U.S. government. It's fancy footwork. It's crazy that they haven't just said, look, this stuff is guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the taxpayers. So, this is actually a good move, just done in a funny way. I have no problem with that. There's also another $200 billion for things like to credit card debt which is much dicer but these are not the moves that worry me. I just worry about the just lack of direction, the sort of chaos, and the fact that the deals for private sector for places like Citigroup don't look that good.

OLBERMANN: And, has this-I asked this question last night and let me rephrase it-this $700 billion amounted to-we sort of left it on a table outside the Treasury Department and said "come and get it"?

KRUGMAN: It's not quite that bad. I mean, it's not been invested all that well but it's not all that badly, either. You know-it's not $700 billion gone. First of all, actually only about $250 billion has been laid out so far. So, it's not like the whole thing. Look, this could have been done much better and it's really bad that it's being mishandled. But the main thing I'm worried about is not what they're doing but what they're not doing. The fact that we don't have a stimulus program getting ready, that we don't have a better coordinated bank financial system rescue getting ready. It's just-you know, it's like it's-well, as I've written it's 1932, Hoover is still in the White House, we're waiting for Roosevelt to arrive, and meanwhile, the banks are failing.

OLBERMANN: Yes, you can't yell at the calendar to hurry up.


OLBERMANN: Last question here. You and the other Nobel winners yesterday visited the White House. Was there anything in that moment there with the president, any chance that he revealed his plans for the economy in his last weeks in office? If not, was it difficult to shake that hand?

KRUGMAN: Oh, you know what are you going to do? My wife made small talk with him about her childhood in Texas. This is not a moment to try and change policy, you know.

OLBERMANN: Well, I'm sure the thought crossed your mind. Nobel Prize winner.

KRUGMAN: I just want him to know my nickname.


OLBERMANN: He's out of the nickname business, I suppose.


OLBERMANN: Nobel Prize winner, Paul Krugman, also author, as we mentioned, of the upcoming book, "The Return of Depression Economics and The Crisis of 2008." Again, great thanks for your time tonight, sir.

KRUGMAN: Thanks a lot.

OLBERMANN: Here's a stimulus package: The annual promise of the jetpacks that they would soon be in service. This is the what - 48th anniversary of the first promise. This guy flies over something and lands somewhere else. And what do you mean they wired Ann Coulter's jaw shut? Shouldn't she have auctioned this privilege off for charity? You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Best in a moment and 13 signatures in three years. That's a convincing petition. First, on this date in 1900 was born Helen Gahagan, singer, Broadway and Hollywood star, wife of actor Melvyn Douglas, purported mistress of Lyndon Johnson, congresswoman from California, and in 1950, the Democratic opponent. When Richard Nixon ran for Senate in California, the one on whom he tried out his smear tactics, calling her communist-leaning and fellow traveler, and infamously, pink right down to her underwear. However, it was Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas who had the last laugh. She called him the name which history still uses: "Tricky Dick" Nixon. Let's play Oddball. We begin with an update on the lost NASA tool bag. Last week, an astronaut was out lubing up a solar panel when an untethered case containing two grease guns went rogue and flew off into orbit. Well, Saturday, high above Ontario, amateur astronomer Kevin Felder shot this footage of a white dot moving from right to left across your screen. Felder thinks that is the tool bag and I have to agree. After all, I know tool bags. I work with a few of them. OK. NASA is also keeping track of the space debris. And if they need more grease guns, we'd like to remind them about the new Home Depot that opened up between Neptune and Uranus. To Canyon City, Colorado, where dare devil Eric Scott used a jet pack to span the 1,500 foot Royal Gorge in just 21 seconds. Apparently, he didn't see that bridge over there. Scott used hydrogen peroxide to fuel his jet pack. He didn't use a net or a parachute while crossing the gorge, which is over 1,000 feet deep. The gathered spectators were thrilled by the stunt. One person said, quote, it's like something out of the future. I guess that guy hasn't seen the NFL films of the rocket belt guy from the first Super Bowl in 1967.


OLBERMANN: John McCain is running again and praising Sarah Palin and apparently ready to confirm one of President-Elect Obama's nominees, even though she's not been nominated yet. And three weeks since the vote, has public opinion in California changed just enough that the same-sex marriage ban would now not pass? Candace Gingrich joins us. These storied ahead, but first time for Countdown's top three best persons in the world. Number three, best dumb criminal, this guy. He stole 15 electrical transformers from an advertising billboard in Auckland, New Zealand. Fortunately, it was daytime, so he was not fricasseed. But he was photographed. So the guy who owns the billboard company put the thief's picture up on four of his billboards. Number two, best evidence that it's quiet, too quiet, Coulter-geist. The report, quote, "the leggy reactionary broke her jaw and the mouth that roared has been wired shut." Of course this is from Page Six in the "New York Post" so she probably actually broke a toe nail. Number one, best pardon petition of President Bush, on behalf of former GOP Congressman Randy Duke Cunningham, the former House king of corruption and hookers. The online plea for clemency is bursting with literally more than one dozen signatures; 13 people have signed it. Then again, the petition has only been available online for three years.


OLBERMANN: The Mac is back; John McCain's first news conference since his presidential election loss three weeks ago. In our third story on the Countdown, the campaign may be over, but the problems are not, like people having forgotten what he does for a living. It wasn't just that reporters had almost as many questions about Sarah Palin as they did about McCain. It was also the subtle indications that already the media response to Senator McCain is becoming you ran for who of the what, now? Like this one.



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I'm a senator.


OLBERMANN: We couldn't decide between that version of that sound effect or another version, but fortunately McCain's news conference gave us more than one occasion to use it. So you can decide which one you prefer as you contemplate this subsequent visual indicator of the current level of interest in McCain, a media turnout that ran at least one deep. I know, right? I can't decide either. McCain did make some news, confirming he'll run for his fifth term as Arizona senator in 2010, praising Obama's appointments so far, including high praise for the rumored nomination of Arizona's Governor Janet Napolitano as Homeland Security chief, which if true would eliminate McCain's biggest potential competition for that 2010 race. But the most interest, intensely so still, was in McCain's choice of running mate, she already apparently on the road to 2012, picking up political IOUs with four campaign stops for Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss yesterday, ahead of his run off, and subject of a two million dollar thank you ad from a conservative political action committee. What did McCain have to say about her future today?


MCCAIN: I think that Governor Palin's future is very bright in the Republican party. By the way, I note that she's going down to campaign for Senator Chambliss, obviously, in a very tight runoff race. I think she did a great job of energizing our base. I'm very proud of her. It's one of the great pleasures I've had to get to know her and her family. I think she has a very bright future in leadership position in the Republican party. And I'm still extremely proud of the fact that she agreed to be my running mate.


OLBERMANN: And the senator was right and I was wrong. Palin does campaign next Monday, not yesterday. Let's turn now to Chris Cillizza, White House reporter for the "Washington Post," and author of the Fix at Chris, good evening.


OLBERMANN: So one guy calls him governor and another asks if he's going to run for president in 2010. But mostly they wanted to know about Governor Palin. Obviously losing presidential candidates tend to fall off a political cliff. But is it always this bad and we just don't remember the past ones?

CILLIZZA: I think it's always somewhat this bad. I think we have a tendency in the sort of rose-tinted glasses to think that Bob Dole had this heroic end to his campaign. Usually, it's not the case. John Kerry the same. The loser is shunted aside in favor of the winner or, in this case, the fresh face, being Sarah Palin. The other thing with Senator McCain to remember is he is 72 years old. He's been in Congress and the Senate since the 1980s, in a party, in a media environment where they're looking for new, interesting story lines. John McCain's story line, politically at least, is somewhat coming to an end, though we don't know what the future holds. So they're looking for new story lines and Sarah Palin is that new story line.

OLBERMANN: Could he be developing a new story line here, by being sort of old-fashioned, because this prescription he put out for his party is fiscal discipline. Given the crisis we're in, the unkind way of saying that is, boy, that's really out of touch, and the other one is boy, that's a mavericky political rallying cry.

CILLIZZA: You know, Keith, I talked to a bunch of Republicans right after the election. They think-again, this is their supposition, but they believe that there is an opening on spending to draw contrast. The problem with the Republican party right now is very few people know what it stands for. They think that focusing on spending, being opposed to these sorts of bail outs, including the auto industry bailout, that could be a piece of the puzzle where they rebuild. Clearly, Barack Obama is saying, I think we should bail out the auto industry, with certain-we're not going to give a blank check, as he said in yesterday's press conference. But I think that's a place where you are going to see Republicans really try to highlight their difference between now and 2010.

OLBERMANN: McCain talked about Governor Palin as part of the future leadership of his party. To what extent is this the senator defending his own choice of his running mate, and to what extent is he really saying, no, I really want her to be, if not the leader, then one of the leaders of the Republican party?

CILLIZZA: It's a little of both, Keith. On the first matter of sort of defending his choice, I think John McCain has been ardently opposed to any idea that he had made a mistake in picking Sarah Palin. So it would be odd if his first press conference, post-president, would be where he said, man, I really screwed that one up. But I also think that John McCain-he said this in the press conference. He saw in Sarah Palin someone like him, in his own mind's eye, a reformer, someone who had fought the political system and won. Sarah Palin's story, elected beating Governor Frank Murkowski in a primary, taking on people like Ted Stevens and Don Young, incumbent members of her own party. I think that's the grain that-John McCain believes that they share that sort of DNA. So I don't think it's entirely simply just in hopes of coloring the history that he picked the right person. I also think he shares some kind of a common bond.

OLBERMANN: But a maverick would say, I screwed it up. Last point, Palin Monday in Georgia for Chambliss, four rallies that day. Is she actually campaigning for him or for somebody else?

CILLIZZA: She's campaigning for him, but she's campaigning for herself, Keith. There's no question. Look, if there was any doubt-I didn't have any, but a lot of people did-that she was somebody who wanted to be in the mix and would make sure she would put herself into the mix in 2010, that doubt should be erased. The RGA, the Republican Governors Association, where she gave a speech and a press conference, her series of television interviews, and now on the day before a very critical runoff election for the Senate, a number of stops in Georgia for Saxby Chambliss. She wants to be a player. She's doing everything she can to make that clear.

OLBERMANN: Chris Cillizza of the "Washington Post." Great thanks, Chris.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: If they voted again today, new polling suggests Californians might just barely defeat Proposition 8. There would be no ban on same sex marriages after all. And if they had ethics, Fixed News would have already fired this man. It turns out he's been taking cash from a political action committee, then gone on Fox 14 times insisting people donate to that committee. First, because they're not going away soon enough, the headlines breaking in the administration's 50 running scandals, Bushed! Number three, how have the mighty fallen-gate. The "Las Vegas Review Journal" reports that the Freedom's Watch conservative advocacy group is going out of business. Its most prominent board member and its public face was Mr. Bush's first press secretary, Ari Fleischer. Between him and the 30 million dollars they spent on ads against nearly every Democrat and progressive cause, especially anti-Obama ads in Virginia and Pennsylvania, it managed to hand the Democrats the Congress, the Senate, the White House, and even the House district representing Vegas. Freedom's Watch was bank rolled by the chairman of the Sands Resort in Las Vegas. So next time you're in town, make sure you party somewhere else. Number two, down the memory hole-gate. Remember the coalition of the willing who we conned into going with us into Iraq? The Bush administration is apparently fudging the record of just who was and who wasn't in that coalition. The Cline Center for Democracy at the University of Illinois says the original White House online list of 45 coalition members on the eve of the invasion was altered to remove Angola and Costa Rica and add several others. Then Angola changed its minds and it, too, was re-added, and the number reached as high as 49. No problem with that, except that each time the list was changed online, the posting date remained the same, from March of 2003, implying that neither reality nor the list had ever changed in the slightest. He who controls the present controls the past. He who controls the past controls the future. Number one, pardon-gate. That first list of the president's down the stretch pardons, that was released yesterday, it includes some interesting names, but none more symbolic than that of Lesley Owen Collier (ph) of Charleston, Missouri. He's now officially pardoned for killing American bald eagles. In 1996, Collier pleaded guilty of having placed hamburger meat laced with a pesticide on land he was farming in hopes of stopping coyotes. Indeed, seven coyotes did eat the poisoned meat and died, but there was enough left over to also kill a raccoon, one opossum, one great horned owl, one red tailed hawk, and three bald eagles. I'm guessing here the president pardoned him as a possible precedent. Collier killed three symbols of democracy and he's now off the hook. Mr. Bush killed about 33 symbols of democracy, so-


OLBERMANN: Prop 8, the same-sex marriage ban in California, startling news that polling indicates if the vote were held today, there would not be such a ban. Activist Candace Gingrich, sister of you know who, joins me next. First time for Countdown's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world. The bronze to Cayton Dawson, candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee. He's currently chairman of the South Carolina Republican Committee and formerly a member of the Forest Lake Country Club. So, well, Forest Lake is an 80-year-old facility whose original deed said and still says that only whites can be members. Mr. Dawson resigned from the club in September. Mr. Dawson said he had started trying to get the racist club's rules changed in August. Unfortunately, this was only after a local newspaper had reported the whites-only rules at Forest Lake and, unfortunately, it was a little while after Mr. Dawson had first joined the segregated club, in 1996. Number two, Mark Williams spokesman for a Looney Tunes operation called the Our Country Deserves Better Political Action Committee-Deserves Better-I don't even know what they mean by the title of the damn thing. He's the one accusing the president-elect of having bought the election and offering as a solution buying TV commercials to thank Governor Sarah Palin. The ads, he says, will be running nationally. In fact, they'll be running during football on Thanksgiving Day. Wait, you're running ads thanking Sarah Palin on Thanksgiving? You're running ads thanking Sarah Palin on turkey day?


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: You need a little bit of levity in this job. I'll be in charge of the turkey.


OLBERMANN: But our winner, Dick Morris of Fixed News. I'm afraid he may have bought the farm on this one. He is confirming reports that he has taken tens of thousands of dollars from a political action committee while going on Fox and insisting people should donate to that political action committee. You might consider that bribery. Or if you're a really forgiving guy, you might consider that a commission. But Dick says the GOP Trust simply bought at least $24,000 worth of advertising on his website. In no way did that lead him to violate even the minimal standards of Fixed News and go on and try to con its viewers into donating to GOP Trust 14 times since last month, in fact, as recently as last night. So Dick says he's not an influence peddler. Others say he is. Here's a simple solution that covers both options. If you hear Dick Morris express an opinion on TV, "give to this group," "support that candidate," assume he's getting paid to say it. I forgot one option. If you hear him say "use this prostitute"- Dick Morris of Fox News, today's worst person in the world!


OLBERMANN: As you know, three weeks ago tonight, California voters approved Proposition 8, banning further same-sex marriages in that state. But tonight, indications that after protests and pleas, if the vote were to be taken tomorrow, Prop 8 would be defeated. Our number one story in the Countdown, the push-back on Prop 8 in the courts, perhaps in the next election and evidently in the heart. The same institution that granted what turned out to be 18,000 couples the right to marry, the California Supreme Court, is agreeing to review the legality of the proposition that took those right as way. But it is an opinion poll by Survey USA that is turning the most heads; 500 California voters, 198 of them who told pollsters they voted for the ban. Eight percent now say the recent protests had caused them to change their minds, another two percent not sure. The margin by which Prop Eight passed was less than five percent, 52.3 to 47.7. Thus, with the caveats that they didn't ask anybody who voted against the ban if they had changed their minds, and it's just a poll, and there's no second vote scheduled, there is still some evidence that another vote might go the other way. I'm joined now by Candace Gingrich, who heads up the Youth and Campus Outreach Program for the Human Rights Campaign. Thanks for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN: Does that poll number startle you? Do you assign any meaning to it?

GINGRICH: To me it just exemplifies the progress that's being made on people understanding what marriage equality is all about. It's been, what you said, three weeks since the election. But people have continued to have conversations about this issue. They've continued seeing the families that are affected by having their family, their marriage taken away from them. And the dialogue has continued. And that's a very powerful thing to not just stop the discussion after the votes been lost, but to continue it. And I want to thank you, Keith, because your rant was exactly, you know, what was needed. It was continuing that dialogue. You helped a lot more people understand the issue.

OLBERMANN: Thank you for saying that. It seemed so obvious to me. I still don't understand that there's any vote on the other side. But I'm sure you agree with me on that. Deconstruct what's happening in California. Is it mostly about conscience on the issue or is there also something folding into people's thinking here, the idea that Prop 8 might be a precedent to take almost any right away from any group?

GINGRICH: I think it's both of those things, Keith. On one hand, the conscience thing, people understand now more what Prop 8 actually did. You know, they know now that what it did was is took rights away from people. And once they realized that, that it wasn't about the things that the proponents of Prop 8 said it was about, they realized that they did the wrong thing and they would vote differently. And the second part of that is something that I think is chilling to all of California and maybe even America, this idea that you can put the rights of one particular group up to a popular vote. I mean that's scary.

OLBERMANN: Candace, how does the president-elect figure in this? He had said he defines marriage as one man, one woman. But he also said-let me read the quote -"I think my faith is strong enough and my marriage is strong enough that I can afford those civil rights to others, even if I have a different perspective or a different view." Where is he on this?

GINGRICH: Well, I think he speaks very clearly and very simply to what, you know, the fact of the matter is, is that, you know, marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples doesn't threaten anything or anyone's marriage. It is not something that people should have to fear. And he said very simply, you know, this is about, you know, people's civil rights, and they should be afforded to folks whether or not I, he personally, agree with them or not.

OLBERMANN: You wrote a particularly powerful letter to your own brother, Newt Gingrich, after he alleged there was-and I'll quote his part here, "a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us." In your letter, you said that the world is changing, that using the gay community as a political weapon, to quote you, "so '90s." But if that's true, why did it work in the case of Prop 8, even as the Democrats swamped the Republicans in the same ballot in California?

GINGRICH: I think it goes again back to the idea that the issue of marriage equality is still a really new one. You know, all of America, I think, has a better understanding of what it means to protect gays from job discrimination, what it means to make sure that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people aren't the victims of hate crimes, or if they are, it's prosecuted the right way. Marriage is still a really, really new issue and the dialogue, the conversation continues on. One thing that we know that I think the election showed us, the presidential election showed us, was that America very soundly rejects this idea of kind of divide and conquer, this idea of fear mongering and scape-goating and, you know, the issue that one group of people should be denied a particular thing, you know, because of who they are should be denied a basic right, is one that with just the passing of time all of America will come to realize is one that we shouldn't support.

OLBERMANN: I hope you're right. I assume neither you nor I convinced your brother, however.

GINGRICH: Eh. The passage of time, Keith, the passage of time.

OLBERMANN: Candace Gingrich with the Human Rights Campaign, great thanks for your time tonight.

GINGRICH: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this the 2,026th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.


Monday, November 24, 2008

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, November 24, 2008
video podcast
Special bonus podcast and YouTube (The Martha Stewart Show)

Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons
Video via YouTube: Palin turkey slaughter
The toss: Her recipe for bourbon

Guests: Richard Wolffe, Robert Reich, Eugene Robinson

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

Geithner to Treasury, the controversial Summers to the White House Economic Council-Obama's economic team already running even before it hits the ground.

As Citigroup is bailed out and the auto industry cuts back even on private jets to get the same, the watch word remains "stimulus."


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT: We have a consensus, which is pretty rare, between conservative economists and liberal economists that we need a big stimulus package that will jolt the economy back into shape.


OLBERMANN: $700 billion more? OK, I was off for a week. Anybody make a joke yet about a big stimulus package? Anybody notice the Obama administration might keep a Bush tax cut?

The Senate: The new gentleman from Delaware. The continuing saga in Minnesota. The likelihood there will be new a senator from New York. A Cuomo? A Kennedy? The latest on the probable future ex-senator from New York and her new gig: She had cold feet until Obama offered her a hotline to his office?



SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, (I) CONNECTICUT: I never felt that Barack Obama was unready. Is, notwithstanding his celebrity status, Barack Obama ready to lead? And my answer is no.


OLBERMANN: Turkeygate, day five. As God is my witness, I have not seen the whole video.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But Mr. Colly, a lot of turkeys don't make it through Thanksgiving.


OLBERMANN: Watch me, watch it-live.


GOV. SARAH PALIN, (R) ALASKA: Certainly, we'll probably invite criticism for even doing this, too, but at least this was fun.


OLBERMANN: And so was this. I helped Martha Stewart make a triple chocolate pumpkin pie.



OLBERMANN: I haven't spilled anything yet?


OLBERMANN: No one's caught on fire.


OLBERMANN: Everyone is still sitting in the front rows?


OLBERMANN: None were injured and the building is still standing.

All that and more: Now on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Hey, this works.


(on camera): Good evening. This is Monday, November 24th, 57 days until the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

The phrase was "hit the ground running." The Obama economic team is not yet eligible to hit the ground, but despite the proprietor's insistence that the nation only has one president at a time, in our fifth story on the Countdown: It sure feels like that team is running-running the response to the financial crisis.

Today, the president-elect flexing some financial muscle, albeit from the on-deck circle, formally unveiling the three individuals who will be playing the top roles as his administration attempts to fix the economic mess ramp by eight years of Bushian neglect. On Friday, when NBC News reported that the treasury secretary would be Timothy Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, that mere report enough to send stocks soaring.

In addition to confirming Geithner's appointment today, Mr. Obama announcing that former treasury head, Larry Summers, will be director of the National Economic Council, and that Christina Romer, a macroeconomist and an economic historian at Berkeley, an authority on America's recovery from the Great Depression, has been named the chair of Mr. Obama's Council of Economic Advisers.

Job one: The stimulus package that doesn't just get the markets back on track but also gets millions of Americans back to work.


OBAMA: We have a consensus, which is pretty rare, between conservative economists and liberal economists that we need a big stimulus package to will jolt the economy back into shape and that is focused on the 2.5 million jobs that I intend to create during the first part of my administration.


OLBERMANN: And stimulating the economy might mean holding on to President Bush's tax cuts, as in not repealing it, as in letting at least some of those cuts continue as planned until 2011. At least, President-elect Obama refusing to rule out that possibility today.


OBAMA: It is important, if we are going to help pay for some of these expenditures that are absolutely necessary to get our economy back on track, that those who are in a position to pay a little bit more, do so. Whether that's done through repeal or whether that's done because the Bush tax cuts are not renewed, is something that my economic team will be providing me a recommendation on.


OLBERMANN: The other big economic news of this day, if this is still news, a bailout. $45 billion to Citigroup, the folks behind Citibank, and that's just for now, with, we think, a guarantee to protect that bank against losses as large as $306 billion. What do the American taxpayers get in return? A stake in the company worth $7 billion. That Bush administration drives a hard bargain.

Maybe the president-elect didn't mean what we thought he did when he said that we only have one president at a time. So, how is lame duck Treasury Secretary Paulson doing, anyway?


OBAMA: But what I want to make sure is that moving forward, we are clearly articulating for the American people and the business community what our end goals are. Where are we going? What are we trying to achieve? And there's clarity and transparency to our plan.


OLBERMANN: Clarity, transparency. Just try doing the math on how much money has been doled out so far in the purported $700 billion bailout, really try it. You think Congress is doing any better at keeping track of what Paulson has either handed out or guaranteed in protection so far? And there's always the automaker bailout of a do-over.


OBAMA: Taxpayers don't want to see more money wasted. So, we need to see a plan, and when we see a plan, we're going to, I think, be able to shape the kind of systems package that makes sense.


OLBERMANN: And meantime, to the president who still is president, remaining so for as of noon tomorrow exactly another eight weeks, President Bush announcing this morning that he and Secretary Paulson would be bailing out the banking behemoth, Citigroup. Mr. Bush underscoring just how closely he and Secretary Paulson had been working with the incoming administration.


PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: Secretary Paulson is working closely with the president-elect's transition team. It's important for the American people to know that there is close cooperation. It's important for the American people to know that we will safeguard the financial system as the first step necessary for economic recovery.


OLBERMANN: Time now to call in our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine.

Richard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Never mind what President-elect Obama said at his first news conference. Was today's economic announcement the end of "we only have one president at a time" or A reversal of its meaning? Is Obama in-charge in this area right now?

WOLFFE: Oh, I think we definitely have, effectively, two presidents right now. The protocols are no longer operative. And look-part of that is functional because the president-elect teams are literally inside the Bush administration's departments on a daily basis. So, they are working together. But look at how the markets responded to the pick of Tim Geithner. They rallied just on that very news, as NBC broke it.

And what people are looking for here is a way out beyond the kind of ideas we've had right now because as hard as Secretary Paulson has tried, he spent $300 billion or more and we still have the prospect of major banks collapsing, and the economy in a deep recession. So, you know, the market and the voting public is looking for something different. And what we saw today was the start of a new administration stepping up.

OLBERMANN: Another group of import, the base. Possibly, maybe even probably, no repeal of the Bush tax cuts, or at least some of them, letting them play out until their expiration date in 2011. How would that play with the people who just voted Obama into office?

WOLFFE: Well, I don't think this is a campaign that was driven by a "soak the rich" mentality, but clearly, there was a lot of anger about Bush's economic policies that candidate Obama was plugging into there. The question is: Do the tax cuts end now, next year, or in two years time?

And there's an argument to be made, and I'm sure the president-elect sounds like he's laying the foundation for making it, that this isn't the time, that in a couple years, the economy will be stronger and that moment, they can talk about more economic justice. But, I suspect, really, what we are seeing here is a chance to defer dealing with those Bush tax cuts. Because remember, politically, he's going to need Republicans to get a stimulus package through.

OLBERMANN: All right. In these ensuing weeks until the changeover, is there any likelihood that there's going to be congressional oversight of the Paulson bailout or even an accurate scorecard anywhere? Of did this just amount to a stack of $700 billion in cash and the sign next to it saying, "Come get it"?

WOLFFE: Well, that's effectively what happened. And there should be oversight, they promised oversight but there seems to be no time for oversight, at least while the Bush administration is still in office. Having said that, there should still be congressional studies as to what happened here because you have to ensure that the Obama folks don't make the same mistakes especially when it comes to, for instance, banks paying dividends.

I mean, that was a direct transfer of money effectively from the taxpayer to shareholders. Is that a wise policy, moving forward? What kind of impact would it have on the banks' share prices to stop them from paying dividends? I mean, those are the kinds of things that Congress should be doing whether it's a Republican or Democratic administration.

OLBERMANN: What are the prospects here, finally, of this timeline actually playing out? It seems hard to believe in Washington of the 21st century, January 6th, the new Congress convenes. January 20, the new president is sworn in, he wants something to sign in January 20th or maybe to the 21st, the latest. Is that possible or are we talking more realistically something that drags into February or March?

WOLFFE: I think it's possible because everyone knows they have to act quickly. There will be this period where nothing happens. And the Democrats own Washington from January. So, there's going to be a lot of pressure for them to do something. I suspect, they will get it done within the first week, maybe not the first day.

OLBERMANN: Well, the land speed record will be broken and the reset.

Richard Wolffe, our political analyst, senior White House correspondent at "Newsweek" magazine-as always, Richard, thanks for your time tonight.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Every night until the inauguration of the president, we are asking the same question about the most urgent issue of the day: What do we do now? Tonight, Mr. Obama has now sketched the broad outlines of his answer to the question regarding our economic crisis-and by our, I mean, earth's-bailing out and propping up the banks just to start. We now know the president-elect wants Congress to have this massive economic stimulus package on his desk the day he starts his new job. But this will not be a Republican-style stimulus based on tax cuts only, Mr. Obama says he wants to spend or fund major repairs of America's infrastructure, specifically, roads and bridges, and also move forward with expenditures on alternative energy sources and green technology-all of which he say, will help staunch the Bush era job lost rate, preserving or creating 2.5 million jobs in the next two years. Mr. Obama also floating the notion he will not repeal the Bush tax cuts for the rich, but may decide in the face of recession to let them die their natural death in 2011, as we mentioned, assuming, of course, the economy doesn't predecease them.

Let's turn now to one of Mr. Obama's economic advisors, the former Clinton labor secretary, Robert Reich, also, author of "Supercapitalism."

Thanks again for your time tonight, sir.


OLBERMANN: What does a 21st century progressive public works WPA-like model look like? Is it monorails, jet packs, what is it?

REICH: Well, it could be monorails. Not jetpacks, I don't think. But, you know, the infrastructure, our roads, and bridges, and levees, and ports have been crumbling for years. There's a lot of deferred maintenance that's been going on, unfortunately. And what we have to do is rebuild that infrastructure. Our electric grid, also, green technologies, alternative fuels-there's a lot to do.

Now, it's a double whammy for the United States to have all of this because not only will all of these create jobs, but also, it will generate higher productivity in the future because all of these are the kinds of investments we need to make as a nation.

OLBERMANN: And what about bailouts? I mean, does Mr. Obama think that we need Citigroup the same way that we need the Big Three automakers?

REICH: Well, first of all, let me make sure you understand, the viewers understand these are my views.


REICH: I am not reflecting Obama's views. But if we're going to the automobile industry, the consensus in Congress, the consensus emerging seems to be that everybody, all stakeholders, the creditors, and the shareholders, and the Big Three automakers overall, and the UAW, all have to put something on the table, all have to make sacrifices before taxpayers should be willing to put some taxpayer money up as well. And that it's not a matter of simply tiding the automobile industry over during the recession until they can go back to making the same cars they were making before, no. It has to be a total restructuring of the industry, a new business plan so that the Big Three can be competitive in the future and fuel-efficient as well.

OLBERMANN: Should we be concerned by this piece of detail from the resume of Ms. Romer, who was going to be the head of the Council of Economic Advisers, that at Berkeley, in her roles, an economic historian, she's an authority on America's recovery from the Great Depression. Is just that extra expertise or is that going to be specifically required in the next few years?

REICH: Well, I think-I hope it's not required. You know, Ben Bernanke at the Fed, Ben Bernanke also happens to be an authority on the Great Depression. So, we have two major economic policymakers who know a lot about the Great Depression. I hope their knowledge doesn't have to come in too handy.

OLBERMANN: President-elect Obama wants something to sign, as suggesting to Richard Wolffe, on the 20th of January. I think do it the day they swear him in, he'd be happy to do it. Do you expect Republicans would be foolish enough to stand in his way or is it Democrats that he should be worried about? Because there's been a lot of obvious switching of sides and uncertainty of liberal versus conservative position on the bailout ever since the issue became one in late summer.

REICH: Well, Keith, even Blue Dog Democrats, that is the fiscal conservative Democrats whose numbers are larger than they were before, seem to understand that right now, you've got to put ideology aside and it is time for a very, very big stimulus package in the order of $600 billion or maybe $700 billion.

Now, the Republicans, some of them don't like that idea at all. But it is possible that the Democrats will have 60 votes in the Senate. But even if they don't have 60 votes in the Senate, there are enough Republicans who understand that this is the way things need to be, because, after all, there's no more purchasing power in the economy. Consumers can't go anymore. They've reached the end of their ropes. Investors are not going to make new investments because the economy is basically dead in the water right now. Exports are shrinking because the rest of the world is on a recession.

So, what does it leave in terms of creating the purchasing power necessary to keep people employed and grow the economy? Only government. Government is the spender of last resort. And even Republicans and conservative Democrats understand.

OLBERMANN: Last point, if the proverbial being from another planet were to drop by and watch these economic statements today from both the current president and the incoming one, would he or she or it be able to tell which one is actually or, at least, nominally in-charge right now?

REICH: I think it's very important for both presidents to give the impression to the markets, not only Martians, but to the markets, and there maybe not too much difference between the two, but I think there is, that there is a seamlessness that actually the transition from one president to the other is going to be very, very easy, and smooth, and coordinated, and well-coordinated. But, of course, there is a huge difference in philosophies between these two men. It's just that we are not going to see those two differences emphasized until after January 20th.

OLBERMANN: The Martian markets. I think we may have just explained Jim Cramer.

Robert Reich, former Clinton Labor secretary, the author of "Supercapitalism." We thank you, once again, for your time tonight, sir.

REICH: Thanks very much, Keith. Bye-bye.

OLBERMANN: And suddenly, the dramatic question and the even more dramatic answer, who will be secretary of state is shunted to the sidelines. Significant new developments in that story today, including the prospect of a back phone connecting the secretary and the president. Also, who would replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate? And, what on earth am I doing in the middle of the Senate vote in Georgia?


OLBERMANN: How about Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her unfettered access upcoming to President Barack Obama?

The Sarah Palin turkey-pardoning video. You have seen it, I have not.

Share my delight, won't you?

And Joe Lieberman denies ever feeling, let alone saying something, that he's caught on tape from August saying.

Worst Persons and all the rest: Ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: What makes you accept a new job when you already have a great one? What is the decider when the old Ernie Kovacs' observation is true: The money means nothing-the money is nothing, therefore the money means nothing?

Our fourth story on the Countdown: Often, it comes down to access-and choosing your own staff. Ask Secretary of State Designate Rumoree Hillary Clinton, who has that title, an imaginary title, again, tonight, after reported personal assurances from her would-be boss. And then there are successors for all those relocating senators-the one in Delaware chosen tonight.

It was only last Tuesday that an anonymous advisor familiar with her thinking, told the "New York Times" that Secretary of State Clinton was a doubtful outcome, citing the prospect of her losing her independence. But on Thursday, the president-elect reportedly reassured her of access to him as well as the ability to select her own staff. At that, according to the paper, the wooing was complete.

Accordingly, yesterday, David Axelrod talked up to convincing the public.


DAVID AXELROD, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR: Hillary Clinton is a demonstrably able, tough, brilliant person who can help, who, if she were in a position such as that, would help advance the interest of this administration and this country.


OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, and somewhat paradoxically, in light of the supposed deal with Senator Clinton, news that Obama is leaning towards appointing Jim Steinberg as his deputy secretary of state, except that while Steinberg was a key advisor to Obama during the campaign, he was also former deputy national security advisor in the Bill Clinton administration.

Let's turn now to Eugene Robinson, "Washington Post" associate editor and columnist, also, MSNBC political analyst.

Gene, good evening.


OLBERMANN: What's the goal here? Does Obama have to assure Clinton that in terms of her political identity, her independence, that she gets to have her cake and be able to eat it, too?

ROBINSON: You mean she gets to have her he triple chocolate pumpkin pie and eat it, too? Or is it.

OLBERMANN: Thanks. Yes.

ROBINSON: Never mind.

Anyhow-look, secretary of state doesn't have independence. If a secretary of state who acts independently of the president gets fired. So, she can't be looking for independence. What she should be looking for is, I think, is access. And that's very important to any secretary of state. Remember, Colin Powell did not have direct independent access to the president. And he was going through the national security advisor or this kind of weird loop.

Secretaries of state who have to go through the national security advisor, who can't just pick a phone and talk to the president are not happy and feel they don't get to really do their jobs. And so, that seems to be something that she insisted on and I can understand her doing that.

OLBERMANN: So, how does that fit into a big picture here? I mean, is it-are we assuming that the idea is, Obama's name by itself is now magic in a lot of the world, maybe places he's never been and places they don't know him, that they just love the concept? Hillary Clinton's name certainly is magic in the Middle East, in Africa, in many places. And if there aren't places that neither of them can deliver, Joe Biden probably knows 85 people in that town he can call.

ROBINSON: He sure does and talks to on the phone for hours.


ROBINSON: I think that's a good way of describing it. And another way would be saying, look, we're bringing out the big guns. This is important, to restore America's position in the world, to design and lay out a new 21st century-style of American leadership-one that's more cooperative and puts us back into international organizations, that shows the way, a different way from George Bush's way. You know, that you bring out big people, substantial people who are known and she is certainly that.

OLBERMANN: Gene, is this whole story about Senator Clinton, Secretary of State Clinton getting out of hand? I mean, the story breaks, runs wild for two days, I go on vacation, I come back, the story is still running wild, it's not going to get resolved this week. There's a holiday coming up, it's going to be running wild a week from now. Can a secretary of state get bugged down if the appointment takes 2 ½ weeks to become reality or is it relevant once it happens?.

ROBINSON: Let's see. A story about a Clinton getting out of hand, a lot of drama involved, I've never seen that before. I think-keep in mind that we are still so far ahead of schedule in terms of an average administration trying to lay out his cabinet. This is-we're miles before this would normally be done. I think, once this happens, if, indeed it does happen, the prelude will be forgotten and the question will be, OK, they are together, what are they going to do? And what is step one for Secretary of State Clinton, if indeed, that does come to pass?

OLBERMANN: And lastly, practical politics. They need a new senator from New York, who? Bobby Kennedy, Jr.? Andrew Cuomo? Is it somebody else?

ROBINSON: Good question. Boy, I wouldn't bet a whole lot of money on anybody just yet. They do play hardball politics in Albany. The governor up there is going to have to figure out who it would be. I don't think I would bet a lot of money against Andrew Cuomo. He would be my first-what-my kind of leaning candidate. He seems kind of like perfectly positioned to do it. I think anybody else is a longer shot at this point, but these are early days. So, first of all, let's see if she gets the job and if there's an opening, and then we'll figure out how to fill it.

OLBERMANN: Gene Robinson of the "Washington Post" and MSNBC, who watches Martha Stewart-much thanks for your time tonight, Gene.

ROBINSON: Good to talk to you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: A couple of footnotes on these senatorial transitions.

We now know the name of the new senator from Delaware, the honorable gentleman who will replace Senator Joe Biden, who won reelection to the Senate earlier in the month, but he is still expected to quit because of the other thing. Instead, Biden's long time chief of staff, Ted Kaufman, will hold the seat until the legally required special election in 2010. At which time, observers suspect Biden's son, Beau, the state attorney general of Delaware, will run for the seat after he has completed his National Guard duties including his tour in Iraq.

The senior Biden meanwhile says he will stay on long enough to start his next term, meaning, he will be sworn in on January 6th by Dick Cheney. We still no idea who Cheney himself will swear in from Minnesota. The "Minneapolis Star Tribune" tonight estimating Norm Coleman up over Al Franken by a margin of 202 votes in their recount. The polling site estimating however that a large number of ballot challenges will lead ultimately to a Franken victory by exactly 27 votes.

In the "what the heck is this" department from the Georgia Senate race. Over to the left, left of center, what the heck is this?

And the state of Minnesota refuses to certify that Senate vote. Billo the Clown says Minnesota has certified that Senate vote. When his error is pointed out to him, he calls those who pointed: liars. Worst Persons resumes.


OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment. And remember the race horse who always finished last? We found him his jockey. First, on this date in 1900, the Pierce Bicycle Company completed the first test model of its first horseless carriage, and somebody took it out for a drive on the streets of Buffalo. The company was renamed Pierce Arrow in 1908. On May 13, 1938, it went bankrupt. Of course, today Pierce Arrow asked President Bush for a bailout. Let's play Oddball.


OLBERMANN: We begin in Tokyo. They're having more fun with robots again. It's a robot race. Students from 25 different technical colleges competed for the prize. Not really sure what real life purpose a one-legged sumo has or a geisha with a retractable head. That's not the geisha. But these are all still far cooler than anything we can make over here. My case in point-

In Atlanta, the Georgia Republican Party has a new tactic to help the incumbent, Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss, try to defeat the Democrat Jim Martin in the upcoming run-off election; a mailer warning that only your vote can stop the liberal Democrats. Pretty standard except for the picture. There, sandwiched between the Senate majority leader and the speaker of the House, the second or third most evil liberal in the land. Or that's supposed to be the Democratic nominee Martin and they just got the wrong picture.


OLBERMANN: Seriously, I have not seen the whole Palin turkey pardoning video yet. So you get to watch me react to it in real time. To say nothing of our cooking segment, how to help or at least how not to hinder, Martha Stewart's mission to bake. These stories ahead but first time for Countdown's top three best persons in the world.

Number three, best reason for a day off, David Sarosi and his new wife Elizabeth. David, one of our custodians of the best and worst persons, married Saturday, managing not just to find a lovely bride and make a lovely speech, but also to comb his hair successfully. All the best, friend.

Number two, best job opportunity, Jens Wittenberger of Job Coffee Munich in Germany. He says as the holidays loom there is, in his country, a shortage of Santa Clauses. Malls, Christmas events, private parties, qualifications, chubby, beard, real or fake, no criminal record, can ho, ho, ho, 75 bucks an hour.

Number one, best wait that was worth it, Anthony Knott, amateur jockey of Dorsett in England, aboard Wise Men Say in the 2:30 race at the Wincanton (ph) track in Somerset. He finished first for the first time in his career. His career which began 28 years ago. In celebration of the end of his losing streak, Mr. Knott immediately retired.


OLBERMANN: Last week, I'm on this deserted island, see, and there's one television and really wobbly Internet. So I get this equivalent of a ship-to-shore message. Governor Palin pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey but she did it while she was standing in front of a turkey rendering device. Our third story on the Countdown, I haven't seen the tape yet. Seriously.

Came back Saturday night, worked football yesterday. I heard some of it.

It sounded like the second worst political photo op of all time.

I thought if I'm going to watch it, let's try it different. I'll watch it for the first time in front of people who have seen it, you. So with the warning we're not blurring anything and you might want to get the kids out of the room, if not out of the house, to say nothing of the justifiably offended by stuff like this, and the additional warning that I may signal to stop the tape at any moment by making the time-out gesture or shouting freeze it, let her, as it were, rip.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, Governor Palin, I just asked you a couple of questions. How does it feel now?

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: I don't think it's changed me at all. I have the same values and convictions, positions and policies. Just a greater appreciation for what other candidates go through. It's pretty brutal. The time consumption there and the energy that has to be spent in order to get out and about with the message on a national level. Great appreciation for other candidates who have gone through this. But also a great appreciation for this great-


OLBERMANN: Did she say brutal? OK. Play it.


PALIN: - who are just desiring of their government to kind of get out of the way and allow them to grow and progress and allow our businesses to grow and progress. So great appreciation for those who share that value. And it was a blast. Every day was a blast.

Plans just include getting through the budget process that we're going through right now, building the state's budget, based on the price of oil that has plummeted-


OLBERMANN: At some point, didn't somebody say there-somebody with the governor say, just move slightly over to the left or the right or perhaps 3,000 miles that way? OK. Go.


PALIN: - and reigning in the growth of government and plans like that that have to do with helping to govern this state and building this team that is continually being built to provide good service to Alaskans. So in my role as governor, that's what my plans are all around.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Due to the declining oil prices, are you concerned about any state programs being-


OLBERMANN: All right, hold on, hold on, OK. I'm thinking this is the right moment to mention this episode 30 years ago from a sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, which the radio station wants to give away turkeys as a Thanksgiving Day promotion and they decide to drop them from a helicopter and they plummet. Have you seen this one? Play this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Colley (ph), we know what the Humane Society stands for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The National Guard? No, sir, I don't think it's that serious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, Mr. Colley, a lot of turkeys don't make it through Thanksgiving.


OLBERMANN: It's a relevant point. But, still, all right, just play it some more.


PALIN: We're in a good position still fiscally speaking. We're in a good position. But it made no sense at 140 dollars a barrel oil that some lawmakers wanted to spend, spend, spend. We were warning them, the administration was, that we had to prepare for the day that the price of oil would plummet, which of course it has done. We had prepared then, reined in the growth of government then. And now that comes into play at this point, where those savings that we had set aside, forward funding, anticipating a drop in oil accounting for that-


OLBERMANN: What has to happen behind her for her to notice? Just play.


PALIN: - comes into play now at 50 dollars a barrel oil.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So why was today so important for you personally?

PALIN: Oh, well this was-this was neat-


OLBERMANN: All right, again. Wait a minute. He turned around and looked at her. He turned around and looked at her. And she's looking over there. No, she's looking over there, I'm sorry. She's looking over there and he's looking at her and she still doesn't stop. Just goes, goes, goes. Play the tape.


PALIN: To be invited to participate in this and, you know, for one, you need a little bit of levity in this job, especially with so much that has gone on in the last couple of months that has been so political obviously-


OLBERMANN: And what better place have a little levity than standing in front of an automatic turkey killing machine. Well, I've got one for you, what's the difference between a hockey mom and a mass turkey murdering machine? Looks like about 15 feet. OK. Play the tape.


PALIN: Get out and do something to promote a local business and to just participate in something that isn't so heavy-handed politics that invites criticism. Certainly will probably invite criticism for even doing this, too, but at least this is fun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is it that you are thankful for this year?

PALIN: Thankful for the health and happiness of my family, that my son's Striker Brigade is safe over there in Iraq, relatively safe, school is going well for the kids. Trig is happy and healthy. Just very thankful for the health and happiness of my family. But then, as much so, that thankfulness that I have just being in Alaska, knowing that this is the land of opportunities and possibilities. So happy to get to be here.


OLBERMANN: What's the maximum legal amount I can donate to whatever campaign she's going to stage next? I mean, is it the same for, like, the presidency, the vice presidency, the Senate, mayor of Wasilla. Is it just 2,300 bucks? Can I donate under assumed names? Can I ask everybody to donate? Is that violating something with FCC, even though this is cable? This is-there's more? Go.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you going to cook for Thanksgiving?

PALIN: I'll be in charge of the turkey, yes. My sisters and my mom, they're all bringing everything else, but I'm always in charge of the turkey.


OLBERMANN: It's ready! Go.


PALIN: I'm where I need to be today to prepare for that.


PALIN: Thank you guys.


OLBERMANN: And here would be the moment at which the payoff line from that episode of WKRP in Cincinnati seems to sum things up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As god is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.


OLBERMANN: So I'm guessing that's why a conservative friend of mine actually said to me the other day, you know, before the election I thought she was just great, but I was listening to her after the election. Not only, as he put it, is she the dumbest politician I've ever heard, but she doesn't even have a clue that she is the dumbest politician I've ever heard. Wow!

And can she make a triple chocolate pumpkin pie without some sort of death machine in the background? Or at least seem to make one as your genial host did this morning?

How about completely contradicting herself on tape as one of tonight's worst persons did? All that ahead, but first, because they're not going away soon enough, the headlines breaking in the administration's 50 running scandals, Bushed!

Number three, privatize this-gate. The journal "Health Affairs" publishes a study today by Mathematical Policy Research studying the effects of the administration's 2003 gambit in which about a fourth of all Medicare programs were privatized. Want to make one last guess? What do you suppose happened to Care? Improved or not? How about complexity, filling out forms and stuff? More or less? How about costs, up or down? Quality of care dropped slightly. The amount of paperwork increased sharply. And the price jumped 13 percent. Who would have ever have thought that giving private business a profit motive to make the process more complicated, less effective and more expensive could have driven up the cost?

Number two, once a Bushy-gate, Press Secretary Dana Perino kind of painted herself into a corner over the last week, stating from her podium, quote, we did not torture. When it was pointed out to her that the administration has acknowledged having water boarded prisoners and that even John McCain said that's torture, she chose not to retract her statement. "I absolutely feel comfortable with what I said." That means she's lying and she feels comfortable about lying. She added, quote, "I stopped reading blogs about me. I told my mom to stop because it was so vitriolic." She also denied she's actually Kristen Wiig's character from "Saturday Night Live," the one who claims she can become invisible at will or instantly grow a foot long beard.

Number one, well, that went well-gate. The Iraq war was a success. We have that from no less authority than President George W. Bush, appearing on the "Sunday Project" program on the Japanese TV network Ahahe (ph). "I think the decision to remove Saddam Hussein was right. People have been able to take their troops out of Iraq because Iraq is becoming successful. I'm very pleased with what is taking place there now. We are bringing troops home because of the success in Iraq, but Iraq is not yet completely safe." The president added, "so there will be a U.S. presence for a while there at the request of the Iraqi government." And then he concluded, "most countries there within a very broad coalition have come home, but we want to help this government."

In short, nobody still, not even his friends, has told him the truth.


OLBERMANN: Most of midtown Manhattan is still standing, so I suppose my guest shot baking pies with Martha Stewart went well enough.

That's next, but first time for Countdown's number two story tonight, the worst persons in the world.

The bronze to Mark Halperin from "Time Magazine" speaking at a journalism conference at USC, announcing that media bias in the presidential campaign was at its highest in years, bias in favor of President-Elect Obama. "It's the most disgusting failure of people in our business since the Iraq war," he said. "It was extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage."

Seriously. This is the man who insisted that when Senator McCain couldn't or wouldn't say how many houses he owned, it would, quote, wind up being one of the worst moments in the entire campaign for Obama. This is the man who looked at the 2007 presidential questionnaire in which Obama promised to try to negotiate a deal with a Republican opponent to use public financing and, as late as a month ago, he said this had been an ironclad promise by Obama to use public financing. In short, here is a guy who lied to support the Republican nominee claiming bias against the Republican nominee.

Our runner-up, nice to see Bill-O the clown has stayed in shape during my absence. He's called the media watchdog site Media Matters, quote, "the most dishonest website in the country," because, well, it accurately quoted him. "We said the other day that in Minnesota the election commission had certified the election and that what's his name-Coleman, the senate-had won by 215 votes. So what I said was Coleman's victory was certified by the state because it was. He had 215 more votes, which is absolutely true, absolutely true, OK. Rock solid, in stone. That's what they did."

Except they didn't. Minnesota State Canvassing Board has not only not certified that election, last Tuesday it specifically said that, quote, except for the offices of U.S. senator, state senator District 16, state representatives Districts 12-B and 16-A, the candidates who received the highest number of votes cast for each office voted in more than one county is hereby declared elected. There is, in fact, a Minnesota law, 204-C.40 that specifically demands that if there is a recount, quote, "no certificate of election shall be prepared or delivered until after the recount is completed."

The only thing rock solid here is Bill-O's head.

But our winner, good old Senator Joe Lieberman. Here is a rare video worst persons. This is the senator on a public affairs program on WTIC, the Fox station in Hartford, Connecticut, yesterday.


SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I never felt that Barack Obama was unready.


OLBERMANN: Yes. From "Meet the Press" August 3, 2008.


LIEBERMAN: Is he ready to lead or as ready as John McCain? No. There's a very serious point to that ad. And it gets right to it, which is, is, notwithstanding his celebrity status, Barack Obama ready to lead? My answer is, no.


OLBERMANN: So the question is, when the senator said he never felt that Barack Obama was unready, was he telling the truth. And my answer is, no. Senator Joe Lieberman, they called Senator John Freemont the old path finder. They can call Senator Lieberman the old back peddler. Today's worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN: At a popular well-known left wing website, most opinion polls, no matter the subject, include an extra option, pie. At the same site, the railings of somebody trying to trash the prevalent philosophy is greeted by the posting of food recipes. Our number one, story in the Countdown, I spent my morning today making pies, while desperately trying to follow recipes recited aloud by Martha Stewart. It was kind of like being asked to get behind the wheel of one of those racers at the Indianapolis 500 and I don't drive at all.


MARTHA STEWART, "MARTHA STEWART SHOW": I learn so much from your show actually and I love the clips that you show and-it's a really good show, Keith. It's really, really good. But, today, it's three days before Thanksgiving and you're not a cook.

OLBERMANN: No, I didn't know we were making a pie. I didn't know until just now-

STEWART: We're making a pie.

OLBERMANN: - that you make pies. I thought they grew this way.

STEWART: Or you buy them.

OLBERMANN: Yes, go to the store.

STEWART: We're going to make a pie from scratch. And now you're not married. Do you have a girlfriend?


STEWART: Your girlfriend will be so impressed.

OLBERMANN: No, she's not.

STEWART: That you can make a triple chocolate pumpkin pie. So let's make the crust first. See how nice.

OLBERMANN: I haven't spilled anything yet. No one has caught on fire. Everybody is still sitting in the front rows.

STEWART: Anyone who can dissect the news like you can do can certainly mix up some graham cracker crust. Nothing is easier than this. No rolling or nothing. Really pack it down.

OLBERMANN: I have a big hole in the middle here.

STEWART: Don't worry. Even it out. And the cup measurer will even it out too. Use this, OK?


STEWART: Then use the backs of your hands to push it up the sides of the dish.

OLBERMANN: This is like getting a non-driver to take somebody to the hospital in an ambulance, you realize that, right?

STEWART: No matter. You're doing fine. Use the backs of your fingers to push that up the sides. No, the back. This way.

OLBERMANN: This way. I forgot which was the front and which is the back of my hand.

STEWART: Sometimes you have to think about stuff like that. And then this goes right into a 350-degree oven.

OLBERMANN: Do I take my hand out before we do this?

STEWART: Until firm. You're doing well.

OLBERMANN: Before we put it in the oven, can I take my hand out?

STEWART: No, it has to look like this.

OLBERMANN: All right, I'll be back tomorrow.

STEWART: You have a little more work to do.


STEWART: Don't do the bottom. Do the bottom with this.

OLBERMANN: I did. My hand is too big.

STEWART: You have to do this like. It's not too big. Better if it's big.

OLBERMANN: I suppose.

STEWART: See. See how much better that looks. Three-quarters of a teaspoon of cinnamon.

OLBERMANN: Like everybody else, I'm recording it at home.

STEWART: One night I turn on "Saturday Night Live" and there is Ben Affleck doing you. I thought he was better as you than he is as Ben Affleck.

OLBERMANN: He's the first person I know who has ever done an impression of me. Apparently I don't have anything to do an impression of.

STEWART: That's why you're good.

OLBERMANN: Walter Matthau once told me he hated me personally and loved my work because he couldn't do an impression of me.

STEWART: Ben Affleck did a good job. Same kind of face, same height, everything.

OLBERMANN: Why would you complain-

STEWART: Pinch of ground cloves. They should have put a pinch. Wait a minute. I'm just talking to you so much. Don't laugh. Who is laughing like that in the audience? We stopped stirring. That was good, we stopped.

OLBERMANN: That was an instinct. You can't teach that.


OLBERMANN: Tomorrow, I'll bring you my recipe for Joan's Brown and Serve Sausages, prepared even after you've had the gas disconnected because you've never used the stove anyway. Hints? Think about your kitchen sink, a copy of "USA Today" and some matches. Gives a nice mesquite flavor. That's Countdown for this the 2,025th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.