'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, June 18
Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons
Guest: Richard Wolffe, Margaret Carlson
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The battleground bounce: After locking up the Democratic nomination, surprising and good news for Senator Obama in key big states. Florida, Obama by four. Ohio, Obama by six. Pennsylvania, Obama by 12.
Day two of "terror talk" in the race for the White House: To criticize Obama, the McCain campaign invokes Rudy Giuliani?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, (R) FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The real problem is, his having said that in essence, the 1993 situation was really correctly handled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: To Obama's defense, Senator Biden is saying, only a man with zero foreign policy and zero national security experience could defend McCain.
The campaign and fouls. Is anything out of bounce?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: I think families are off limits. I would never consider making Cindy McCain a campaign issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: This, as the Obama campaign embarks on a new plan to reintroduce Mrs. Obama. Michelle Obama gets a staff, a new speech and guest hosts "The View."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, SEN. OBAMA'S WIFE: I have to be greeted properly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: A Countdown Special Report: Sky-rocketing gas prices and the politicians who brought them to you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: We must reform the laws and regulations governing the oil future's market.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The problem - those very laws and regulations were created by Senator McCain's top campaign advisors, and protected over the years by the candidate himself.
And: Remembering Tim Russert.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA SHIVER, CALIFORNIA FIRST LADY: You see, I lost my heart to Timmy Russert the day I met him.
TOM BROKAW, NBC SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Big Russ, I will raise this glass to you, for your gift to us of Tim.
LUKE RUSSERT, TIM RUSSERT'S SON: I love you, dad. And in his words, "Let us all, go get them."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The politicians, the journalists, the family pay tribute to a man inspired a profession with optimism, enthusiasm and love.
And Luke Russert's remarkable act today proving this father lives on in this son.
All that and more: Now on Countdown.
(on camera): Good evening from Washington. This is Wednesday, June 18th, 139 days until the 2008 presidential election.
In this campaign, which Tim Russert loved covering so much, it a detail that would have absolutely delighted him. Here this morning, the two men vying to become the next president of the United States sitting next to each other at Tim Russert's funeral, at his family's request.
Ahead this hour, we will pay tribute to our departed friend and colleague with a look at the moving memorial service that followed the funeral this afternoon at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and perhaps more movingly still, a seemingly a small gesture from Tim Russert's son, Luke, that will tell you in shorthand, just what this family is all about.
But in our fifth story on the Countdown: Because Tim Russert would now be screaming you skipped the lead, Olbermann, we'll begin with the latest in the run for the White House. As we mentioned, both Senator McCain and Senator Obama pausing their campaigns this morning to attend, almost jointly, Tim Russert's funeral at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown. Side by side, no handlers, no intermediaries, no details, other than that the men sat closest to were Jack Welch and his successor as chairman of GE, Jeff Immelt.
New polling is out of three battleground states suggesting that Senator Obama has gotten a big bounce in his bid to become a chairman of sorts since he became the undisputed presumptive nominee. For the first time in the Quinnipiac University Survey, Senator Obama leading in all three states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In Florida, Senator Obama is edging Senator McCain 47 to 43; in Ohio, 48 to 42; in Pennsylvania, it's 52 to 40.
Quinnipiac also finding that independent voters believe the Illinois Democrat should not select Senator Clinton as his running mate. In Florida, independent voters opposing an Obama/Clinton joint ticket, 46 to 37. In Ohio, the same key segment of the electorate mixing the idea 47 to 31. And in Pennsylvania, independents wanted to keep Senator Clinton off the ticket by 49 to 36.
Time now once again, second time today to call in our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine.
Richard, thanks for being with us today and good evening, again.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. Assess the numbers for us here. Obama, he was in a huge hole in Pennsylvania from everything we knew from the primaries, or was that a mirage?
WOLFFE: Well, in Ohio, too. These are big numbers. These are very big numbers. And they really suggest that our reading, our very closed detailed reading of the primary numbers were no indication whatsoever to this general election dynamic we're seeing now. But also, moving forward, remember - look at these Florida numbers. He hasn't campaigned in Florida, he's barely visited. And here you have a situation where, I mean, of course, things can change. We don't know how it's going to flow from here. But this is an exceptionally strong starting point for someone who has only just emerged from a very tough primary.
OLBERMANN: And the other end of this, if the McCain numbers are as bad as they are in Florida right now, what happens if there is any kind of backlash to his plan now, to now, suddenly after fighting it all this time, endorse offshore drilling. The shore we're talking about in the Gulf of Mexico is largely Florida. What happens? Is it bad timing, bad policy, both?
WOLFFE: Well, remember that when this came up, most of the pundits and the analysts looked at it and said, "Well, he must be really good in himself about the numbers in Florida," and these numbers come out and everybody goes, well, maybe they misread the numbers, maybe they've misread Florida politics.
But at the very basic of John McCain's appeal was this idea that he understands policy, good policy. And you talk to any economists, financial analysts out there, people who understand the oil market, they'll say, the amount of oil that would come out of this coastal drilling won't have a significant impact on anything, whether it's the daily consumption of gasoline or the price. So, policy, politics, you've got to ask what were they thinking here?
OLBERMANN: All right. And what were we thinking in terms of Florida? We were told repeatedly that the fact that the entirety of the Democratic primary was completely screwed up, and all attempts to solve it were completely screwed up, was going to sink the Democrats from the start, no chance. Is it, again, we just listen too much to campaign hype in the primary season or did we underestimate backlash against the Bush administration? What explains Florida and that number there tonight?
WOLFFE: Well, the campaigns would say, at least the Obama campaign would say, there are bigger dynamics than the argument about seating delegations. In the case of Florida, the economy has been hurting really badly for - especially from the property market but, you know, Florida is the cross section of the population. So, there are dynamics there that go beyond even the politics of the Democratic national convention.
OLBERMANN: And you're McCain and you've got these numbers tonight, what do you do?
WOLFFE: I think he might want to think about a policy reversal, or at least got to take different advice from Charlie Crist.
OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of MSNBC and "Newsweek," as always, sir, and especially today, great thanks. Take care.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: One day after the McCain campaign accused Senator Obama of having a September 10th mindset and of taking a law enforcement approach to terrorism, Obama convening a meeting with his new team of foreign policy advisors, the McCain launching more attacks, leading the charge former New York City mayor, Rudy "A noun and a verb and" Giuliani, who yesterday put out a statement criticizing the presumptive Democratic nominee.
This morning, the former presidential candidate, is following up with an appearance on this network on MORNING JOE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: We treated it in a defensive way before September 11th, 2001. I said this often, the Democrats led by Barack Obama want to go back to being on defense. Treat it like a crime. Modest reaction, like we had after, after the attacks in Dar es Salaam, in Nairobi, and in Khobar Towers, and the USS Cole, where we didn't react at all. The fact is, we have to be on offense. We have to use all of our resources to deal with terrorism, not just the criminal justice system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Obama's response - he'll see you a Rudy Giuliani and raise you a Joe Biden. The senior Democratic senator from Delaware, who last fall, famously described Mayor Giuliani's campaign rhetoric as a "little more than a noun, a verb and 9/11," today pointing out that Mr. Giuliani has zero national security experience of his own, quote, "It's no surprise that it takes a man with zero national security and foreign policy experience to defend the policies of John McCain and President Bush. The facts are that the policies President Bush has pursued and Senator McCain would continue have not made us safer. In fact, terrorist attacks around the world have increased since 9/11."
Senator Obama today is unveiling that new senior team of national security advisors. Among them, two former secretaries of state, Madeline Albright and Warren Christopher, former national security advisor, Tony Lake and former senator Sam Nunn, the one time chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Senator Obama is following up that with another meeting, of convening a group of nearly 40 retired admirals and generals to discuss the state of the armed forces and the challenges facing the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Senator Obama rejecting the Republican charge that abiding by the Constitution means he wants to pursue only a law enforcement approach to terrorism and other distortions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Confidence that our system of justice and that our traditions of rule of law are strong enough to deal with terrorists. Senator McCain does not. That is not the same as suggesting that we should give detainees the full privileges that afforded American citizens. I never said that, the Supreme Court never said that and I would never do that as president of the United States.
So, either Senator McCain's campaign doesn't understand what the court decided or they are distorting my position, which is that we need not throw away 200 years of American jurisprudence while we fight terrorism. We need not choose between our deeply held values and keeping this nation safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Let's turn now to Chris Hayes, Washington editor of "The Nation" magazine.
Chris, good to talk to you again.
CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION: Good to talk to you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I'm little befuddled about this. Mayor Giuliani ran on, as Senator Biden pointed out so famously, "a noun, a verb, 9/11," got himself a handful of delegates to be generous, trumped in the Republican primary process. Why is Senator McCain trotting him out as his authority on this subject?
HAYES: Well, I mean, the most interesting thing about the McCain campaign so far is how routinely tone deaf they seem to be. I mean, whether it's the green screen behind John McCain as he grimaced his way through that speech or it's going down to Florida and saying, you know, I think you can take the Everglades and, you know, do what you will with them or bringing out Rudy Giuliani who has to be, at this point, I think one of the most discredited American figures in American political life, to attack Barack Obama on national security issues.
I mean, really, it's quite a spectacle to watch the McCain campaign right now. I mean, even if you talk to conservatives, they're sort of scratching their heads thinking, what are they doing over there?
OLBERMANN: The other part of this, of course, is that, in the rest of that appearance on the network this morning, he said the U.S. can, Giuliani did, follow that ruling by the Supreme Court that the detainees at Gitmo have a right to challenge their detention in federal court and that the nation, while doing that, can still protect itself even though he believes it puts the country at, as he said, at somewhat greater risk.
Is that the headline? You send a guy out, a surrogate, he may not be the best surrogate in the world on the topic to go out and pummel the opponent, in this case, Obama - and the surrogate comes out and says - well, Obama is wrong but actually the damage done by the Supreme Court was about this much?
HAYES: Of course, that's a headline. And in n fact, Giuliani is right. Of course, the country can protect itself.
Look, the court's decision just restored habeas rights to these detainees. It didn't order them released. It didn't say they have the full panoply rights of American citizens. All it said is they have a right to challenge their detention. And I don't actually understand what Giuliani and McCain and Bush and conservatives are so scared of.
I mean, let's imagine we've got Osama bin Laden in custody, and he challenged his detention before a court of law. Do we think there is any court that will look at the evidence and say, "OK, you're free to go, Mr. Bin Laden"? Of course not.
I mean, the point is that - the whole idea of habeas corpus is to allow people who have been wrongly imprisoned to bring their case before a court, an impartial fact finder, and we know that there are people in Guantanamo probably who are there for the wrong reasons and it would mean that they can go home to their families. But in the case of Osama bin Laden, it's just ludicrous to imagine that habeas corpus would lead to him being released.
OLBERMANN: E.J. Dionne was on this news hour last night and said, "Look, national security is going to boil down to it if it isn't already. This will be the issue on which Senator McCain and the Republicans will run and it's the only thing they may still have a lead on the Democrats in." But the suggestion in all of this is, certainly the results from 2006 suggest this was the trend in this, that the public ain't buying this stuff from them any more.
What happens to them if they make it into a one-issue campaign and the one issue doesn't sell?
HAYES: Well, the answer is they lose. And I think, you know, what we're seeing is a party that's fighting the last war, essentially. I mean, Rudy Giuliani likes to accuse everyone of having a September 10th mindset.
I think the Republican Party has a 2004 mindset. I mean, Giuliani campaign was completely predicated on - well, I'm just going to try what the last guy did successfully - and go around people and scaremonger. And it didn't work. I don't think we're going to see this work either.
OLBERMANN: Chris Hayes is the Washington editor of "The Nation" magazine. Once again, sir, thanks for your time tonight.
HAYES: Thanks a lot, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Barack Obama hopes his family and John McCain's family will be off limits from the political attack machine. Michelle Obama takes some of the attacks already leveled against her head on, on "The View." But maybe a large price to pay just to become president.
A Countdown Special Report on record-high gas prices and what role decisions by Senator McCain and his top campaign advisors have played in bringing us this energy crisis.
And: Remembering Tim Russert. The music as we left the memorial was "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and everyone went outside and suddenly saw a rainbow.
OLBERMANN: Michelle Obama guest hosts "The View" and shares a fist bump with Elisabeth Hasselbeck. There's videotape evidence. Mrs. Obama's reintroduction to the country and her impact on the presidential campaign.
The politics of high gas prices, Countdown Special Report on the McCain campaign connection to the little something called the Enron loophole.
And we'll look back at this day of memorial to Tim Russert.
Ahead here on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: It's not an unreasonable request to ask that personal attacks against the wife of the candidate as part of a misguided strategy to torpedo a political campaign be off limits. Having heard full of falsehoods about Michelle Obama, candidate and husband, Barack Obama drew a line in the sand.
Our fourth story on the Countdown: Expressing disdain for what has clearly become open seasons on spouses, Obama made his case in an interview last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CBN NEWS)
OBAMA: This has, unfortunately, become habit in our politics, where anything's fair game and we just make things up about people. You know, and if you think about Michelle, I mean, here's somebody's who's done everything right.
You know, I've said publicly before and I'll say again, I think families are off limits. I would never consider making Cindy McCain a campaign issue. And if I saw people doing that, I would speak out against it. And the fact that I haven't seen that from John McCain, I think, is a deep disappointment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And the McCain camp, of course, fired back in a statement, "Senator McCain agrees with Senator Obama that spouses shouldn't be an issue in this campaign. Unfortunately, when the DNC was attacking Mrs. McCain, he was not strong enough to stand up and speak out against the outrageous charges leveled at her by his party chair, Howard Dean. Obama's silence speaks volumes and it's unfortunate that he would single out others for a standard he himself has failed to live up to."
By the way, the DNC was not attacking Mrs. McCain but rather her husband's campaign for having not reimbursed her for the use of her private jet.
Meanwhile, and what the "New York Times" characterizes as a subtle makeover, Michelle Obama will begin delivering a new speech highlighting her personal history, and today, she appeared as co-host of "The View." The only time in world history the word subtle has ever had any connection to "The View."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, ABC/THE VIEW)
BARBARA WALTERS, "THE VIEW" CO-HOST: Do you think that Hillary Clinton should be your husband's running mate?
M. OBAMA: You know -
M. OBAMA: Yes, I know. You know, my answer to this, people have asked me this before, I think the one thing that a nominee earns is the right to pick the vice president that they think will best reflect their vision of the country and I'm just glad I will have nothing to do with it.
SHERRI SHEPHERD, "THE VIEW" CO-HOST: You have no say so whatsoever?
M. OBAMA: No. I don't want it.
SHEPHERD: You can whisper.
M. OBAMA: I don't want a say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Let's turn now to "Bloomberg News" political columnist, Washington editor of "The Week" magazine, Margaret Carlson.
Good to see you.
MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: This is open season on both campaign wives or is there going to be a draw? Did the meeting at the funeral today lead to some sort of accord of Russert that we're going to leave the wives alone?
CARLSON: Yes, I know, you wonder, because it was quite - they spent a lot of time talking this morning, like a good five or 10 minutes before the service started. You know, spouses are always fair game and it's too bad and no one is prepared for it. By the way, not even Bill Clinton. Because, if you think about it, Hillary got it when he was running for president and all she said was, "You know, I didn't stay home and bake cookies and serve tea."
He really got walloped in this campaign and deservedly so most of the time. But he couldn't do it. So, Michelle Obama, who's not really been in the public eye, she stayed in Chicago with the family after he became senator. So, she just hasn't been in this world where people judge your insides but what they see on the outside and just go at you.
OLBERMANN: Are they equally being battered both Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama, or is there any kind of code beneath the surface about what is being said about Mrs. Obama?
CARLSON: I think there's some code like, Obama is slightly unknown, mysterious person with that name and, oh, maybe she is, too. But I'll say this - Cindy McCain got walloped last time around. So, she might have an easier time of it this time.
Remember, you know, the drugs and all these other things. So, now, it's Michelle Obama, she's the fresh face, oh, let's do her now. And she said something that was unfortunate, even though everyone knew what she meant when she said, "For the first time I'm proud" - it was "I'm proud of her country."
It was her exuberance at being where she was. No one really thought she meant it that way and, yet, this is - it's practically on a bumper sticker.
OLBERMANN: The price of this, though, even to remodel, and they've been talking about getting her story out and getting his story out as the sales tools for the Obama campaign from here on in. Is guest hosting "The View" just too big a price to pay to get into the White House? I mean, would you seriously go, "No, no, we'll go home"?
CARLSON: I mean, a fist bump with Whoopi Goldberg, I don't know, I wouldn't go there myself. But, you know, these are the "Stations of the Cross" now of both the principal and the spouses that you have to go on all these daytime shows and show that you're human. I don't know. It shares a little of inhumanity, actually, to get through it.
OLBERMANN: Well, to them, yes, certainly.
CARLSON: Since you're on at night, Keith, I can make this comment about daytime.
OLBERMANN: Absolutely and then go on daytime show and make a comment about the cable shows, go right in, that's fine. Margaret Carlson of "Bloomberg News" and "The Week," thanks. Thanks for coming in.
CARLSON: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Take care.
Do not confuse this for the wilds of the campaign trail, although it probably feels that way, say 80 percent of the time.
And in the race for Worst, William Kristol has outdone himself, criticizing the Supreme Court decision protecting habeas corpus, without really understanding the law called habeas corpus. Next on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Sixty-eight years ago today, Winston Churchill stood up in the British House of Commons to make one of the most famous speeches in world history. He closed it, acknowledging that France had been lost to the Nazis and that the battle of Britain had begun. "Let us therefore brace our selves to our duties and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say this was their finest hour."
On that note, let's play Oddball.
Churchill would admit this was not the finest hour in North Platte, Nebraska. There is a shortage of cowboys and town's folk have gone to plan B, tiny kids on the backs of bucking sheep, also known as mutton busten (ph). Which being so small, many kids had to be held on their illuminant (ph) rides by a clown and all of them fell off after just a few seconds.
So, next time, you might want to just switch instead to monkeys on dogs, thank you.
To Kent, England, and get your pies for the great pie fight. The annual 41st World Custard Pie Championships - 31 teams, 2,600 pie crusts, 700 pounds of custard mix. You get six points for hitting an opponent squarely in the face; three points for a near miss, somewhere around the shoulders; and one point for anywhere else on the body.
Winners get a trophy in the shape of Soupy Sales and losers get to eat the leftovers. Terrific.
$4-plus gas prices: How Senator McCain and his top campaign advisors -
the financial guys - have protected policy loopholes that help contribute to the skyrocketing prices that pump?
And the moving day of remembrances for Tim Russert. Perhaps none more touching than the thoughts of his son, Luke, and more importantly, one small piece of generosity that will tell you everything you need to know about the Russerts.
Ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: John McCain is renowned for saying he does not know much about the economy and for parading around those advisers of his who he says do know something about the economy. our third story tonight, A Countdown special report on the price of gas, and how McCain's chief economic adviser, among others, helped create and defend pivotal legislation that unleashed speculators to run up gas prices. It is, in essence, a legalized form of insider trading, deregulation that lets speculators overwhelm trading in oil futures, those complicated contracts that let commercial users of oil hedger their bets about future price and supply fluctuations by agreeing to prices and delivery dates ahead of time.
Since this legislation passed, gasoline prices have more than doubled and commodity traders have made tens of millions of dollars, devastating thousands of small companies that deal in oil, and creating the risk of a speculative bubble popping.
How does McCain fit in? The road connecting him to four dollar gas begins with Enron.
OLBERMANN (voice-over): Soon after Enron's birth as a power supplier in the 1980s, CEO Ken Lay decided head could make more money betting on electricity futures, especially if government regulators didn't stop him from cornering the market and gaming the system. Under the first President Bush, an obscure agency called the Commodities Future Trading Commission obliged Ken Lay. The CFTC chairwoman, Wendy Gramm, left Enron alone.
When Bill Clinton beat Bush, it took only one week before Enron asked Gramm to lock in her hands-off position as official CFTC policy. Gramm started the process. The CFTC approved it after she left on Clinton's inauguration day. Five weeks later, she took a part-time post on Enron's board of directors and wound up earning more than 900,000 dollars over the next decade. Clinton never undid Gramm's changes.
Fast forward to the year 2000 and Bush v. Gore. In the chaos of constitutional crisis, Enron got a law passed containing what is now known as the Enron loophole. Where Gramm deregulated individual trades, the Enron loophole deregulated entire markets, online markets. Enron had just started its own online market, and set its sites on the state of California.
Over the next six months, California suffered 38 rolling blackouts, as Enron used artificial shortages, bogus deals and total knowledge of the market as sole owner of its own online market to triple California's energy bills. In the dark, regulators had less power than California did, leaving Enron laughing about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The money you stole from those poor grandmothers in California.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Grandma Millie, man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, now she wants her (EXPLETIVE DELETED) money back for all the power you charged - jammed up her (EXPLETIVE DELETED) at 250 dollars a megawatt hour.
OLBERMANN: The Enron loophole applied to all energy commodities, oil, propane, natural gas. So, today, oil futures are driven by speculators, free from any regulatory oversight. Now, you can't just blame OPEC any more. British Petroleum paid 303 million dollars to settle charges it cornered the propane market in 2004, inflating heating costs for seven million American homes.
Two years ago, a Republican Senate report recognized what speculators have done and blamed the Enron loophole. Two weeks ago, the Senate Commerce Committee heard testimony about the Enron loophole's effect on the price of a barrel of oil.
MICHAEL GREENBERGER, FMR. CFTC DIR OF TRADING & MARKETS: The speculators are not just placing bets in these futures markets, they're saying, gosh, if I can control the price of heating oil, I'll go out and buy heating oil. So you have Morgan Stanley as the biggest heating oil owner in New England.
SEN AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: The idea is to put the words energy back in so that we can actually go back to where we were before this, what Dr. Cooper calls the foolish but affectionately called Enron loophole.
GREENBERGER: Yes, overnight that will bring down the price of crude oil to get at least a 25 percent drop in the cost of oil and a corresponding drop in the cost of gasoline. Some people estimate 50 percent.
MARK COOPER, CONSUMER FEDERATION OF AMERICA: The speculative bubble in petroleum markets has cost the average American household about 1,500 dollars in increased gasoline, natural gas and electricity expenditures in the two years since the Senate committee on investigations first called attention to the problem. The Senate knew about this problem two years ago.
OLBERMANN: John McCain seemed to understand this problem even earlier. In 2002 and 2003, he voted with the minorities to close the Enron loophole. "We're all tainted by Enron's money," he said. "Enron made a sound investment in Washington. It did them a lot of good. Where they really do well is around the edges, the insertion of an amendment, the Enron loophole, into an appropriations bill."
But for most of this campaign, McCain has offered explanations other than the influence of speculators and remedies other than regulation.
MCCAIN: We can develop alternate energy sources.
OLBERMANN: Will alternative energy fix things without closing the Enron loophole?
GREENBERGER: What's going to happen when you get all this new, clean energy is the banks are going to go into those markets and rob those guys blind, like they're robbing the gas station owners and heating oil dealers in this country right now.
OLBERMANN: What about McCain's idea to stop filling America's strategic reserve?
GEORGE SOROS, CHAIRMAN, SOROS FUND MANAGEMENT: The institutions acting as a herd are accumulating much larger - setting aside much larger reserves than the strategic reserve is. It's a multiple.
OLBERMANN: John McCain doesn't talk about the Enron loophole any more. One McCain adviser reportedly said he no longer even has a position on it. When the bipartisan Farm Bill shut the Enron loophole last month, John McCain opposed the Farm Bill, citing its spending levels.
What changed? Since 2006, John McCain's top economic adviser has been former Texas Senator Phil Gramm, husband of the former CFTC head who then joined Enron. McCain chaired Gramm's 1996 presidential race, with Ken Lay as regional chairman. It was Gramm who passed the Enron loophole, partially written by Enron itself, with no hearings, with no debate.
It was Gramm who stopped Democrats from closing the Enron loophole, and it was Gramm who became vice chairman at the Swiss financial firm UBS in 2002, less than a year after UBS bought the shattered remains of Enron's energy trading arm.
Federal lobbying forms reviewed by Countdown show that Gramm lobbied Congress about commodity trading rules in 2006 and that his company, specifically, his former aide John Sabercool (ph), now a UBS lobbyist, lobbied the Senate as recently as last year against the close the Enron loophole act, without actually calling it that.
McCain's finance co-chair, Wayne Berman, lobbied just last year for Chevron and for the American Petroleum Institute against the Price Gouging Prevention Act. And this year the lobbying firm for which Berman serves as managing director was hired by the New York Mercantile Exchange to lobby against the Close the Enron Loophole Act.
In fact, McCain's top campaign adviser, controversial lobbyist Charlie Black, was paid 140,000 dollars by JP Morgan back in 2000 for the sole purpose of lobbying Congress to pass the Commodities Future Modernization Act, the same act that contained the Enron loophole.
McCain skipped this month's hearing on gas prices, but this week after committee member Maria Cantwell pushed the Bush administration to investigate, McCain finally changed his tune in public.
MCCAIN: We must reform the laws and regulations governing the oil futures market.
OLBERMANN: Senator John McCain, however, still has not mentioned the Enron loophole, still has Gramm and Berman and Black heading his campaign, writing his economic policy. When Senator Cantwell sent a letter asking the CFTC cut off a new loophole that allows U.S. speculators to channel trades unregulated through London and Dubai, John McCain declined to sign it.
OLBERMANN: Senator Obama as well has an adviser who has lobbied for the American Petroleum Institute. Obama reportedly opposed the Enron loophole and voted for that farm bill that contained a closure of it. In an e-mail today, the McCain committee did not address our reporting on his advisers, but pointed instead to his 2003 vote against the Enron loophole and said, quote, "Senator McCain's opposition to the Farm Bill had absolutely nothing to do with this issue, but rather the billions in pork barrel projects and subsidies in the bill that are sure to do more harm than good for most farmer, consumers and taxpayers."
For the second time in five days, this capital city seemed to come to a stop in memory of Tim Russert. Moving, poignant, sad and miraculous, even if it was just a coincidence, we'll all take it. The Russert memorial and the Russert rainbow ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Remembering a giant. The Luke Russert kindness and the Tim Russert rainbow. That's next, but first time for our number two story, Countdown's worst persons in the world.
The bronze to comedian Rush Limbaugh, praising Iowa and Illinois flood victims in an odd, to say the least, comparison to Katrina flood victims. "I look at Iowa, I look at Illinois; I want to see the murders. I want to see all the looting. I want to see all the stuff that happened in New Orleans. I see devastation in Iowa and Illinois that dwarfs what happened in New Orleans. I see people working together. I see people trying to save their property. I don't see a bunch of people running around waving guns at helicopters. I don't see a bunch of people running and shooting cops. I don't see a bunch of people raping people on the street. I don't see people doing everything they can, whining and moaning, where's FEMA, where's Bush. I see the heartland of America. When I look at Iowa and Illinois, I see the backbone of America."
Oddly enough, what you don't see is the people of Iowa and Illinois saying we have it worse than New Orleans. They have hearts. The insane boasting, the politicizing is left to those long since disconnected from humanity and reality like Rush Limbaugh.
Our runners up, the County Board of Education serving Roseville, California. Darla Granger says not only were her autistic twin boys left out of the yearbook of Quail Glen Elementary School, but, in fact, all the school's special needs children were omitted. Even pictures of the special needs teachers are absent, as are pictures of the special needs classes. The kids are in the second grade.
Mrs. Granger says she's not suing. She just wants a correction and apology, but so far she has neither.
But our winner, the one and only William Kristol, still of the "New York Times." His latest gem? After the Supreme Court struck down the Military Commissions Act and restored the right of habeas corpus to even the detainees at Gitmo; "the decision was wrong," he said, and "our fears about the administration's attack on the great writ are overblown, he says because, quote, "American citizens have a right to habeas corpus and anyone arrested in this country has a right to habeas corpus."
Sadly, no. That's the problem. The Military Commissions Act specifically said was to be no habeas corpus for non-citizens, even if they were arrested in this country. More importantly, Bill, if under the act or whatever monstrosity John McCain is backing to replace the act, if they declared you, William Kristol, and declared you a non-citizen and an enemy combatant and you said, but I was born in New York City, exactly where do you think you'd be able to prove that and get yourself released? At a court hearing. A court hearing that would never happen because there would be no habeas corpus, because the government said you weren't born in New York City. And your response would never even be heard.
William selling himself and the rest of us into slavery Kristol, today's worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: "He has born himself beyond the promise of his age, doing in the figure of the lamb the feats of a lion. He has bettered expectation than you must expect of me to tell you how." The epitaph fitting, of course, and inscribed on the program for memorial service given here today for Tim Russert. At least 1,000 people celebrating his life, first in the private family ceremony this morning, featuring the presidential candidates side by side, as you heard, and then this afternoon at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Our number one story on the Countdown, our final good-bye to Tim Russert. Highlights of the eulogies, every word of them filled with love and producing tears and laughs. Afterwards, one story of an extraordinarily generous act today from Tim's son Luke and a symbol to carry alongside our memories of Tim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: I want you to know at the outset that this is a celebration, and we're going to do it Irish style.
LUKE RUSSERT, SON OF TIM RUSSERT: When I hold this up, some of you see a glass half empty. Some of you see a glass half full. For Tim Russert, his glass is always half full.
MIKE BARNICLE, FRIEND OF TIM RUSSERT: He was a boy of summer. He met his wife on a summer day. His son was born in summer. So it is that we blow him a kiss good-bye on a soft, summer evening, this sweetheart of a man who always, always left us smiling.
SISTER LUCILLE SOCCIARELLI, TIM RUSSERT'S SCHOOL TEACHER: In my mind and heart, ever since Friday, June 13th, I hear god. Here's little Timmy Russert. You're in heaven now, Tim, where every day is "Meet the Press." Welcome home.
BROKAW: And as Tim would look out on this gathering, he would say it's wild, wild. My family, my closest friends from near and far, the powerful, the ordinary and the largest contingent of all in this room, those who think that they should be his successor on "Meet the Press."
MARIO CUOMO, FMR. GOV. OF NEW YORK: Over and over you hear people saying, all I saw was Tim on Sunday mornings on television. I never saw him in person, but I felt that I knew him. How do you explain that? It's not because he was a great journalist. His success as a journalist was enough to win him respect. But it was not enough to win him love. That's what millions of people feel for him. They loved his genuiness, his integrity. When he said he was working to make politics a truly noble profession, they believed him.
MARIA SHRIVER, FMR NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: He's so loved being in the middle of the action. He so loved seeing history up close. And he loved to have stories to come back and share with everybody to make you laugh, to make you feel as though you were there. Tim loved his life and he loved life.
BROKAW: This is the one guest that Tim was never able to persuade to appear on "Meet the Press." Ladies and gentlemen, from Europe, where he is on tour, the boss.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEIN, ROCK STAR: I want to send this out to Tim. Luke, this is for your pop.
RUSSERT: He had a great time living and is no doubt having the time of his life now in heaven. So I ask you this Sunday, in your heart and in your minds, to imagine a "Meet the Press" special edition, live from inside St. Peter's Gates. Maybe Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr will be on for the full hour debating.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Just as the spectacularly impressive Luke Russert has his father's DNA in him and has displayed that so brilliantly over these past several days, I'm telling our co-workers, so do we. We breathed in that air that Tim breathed out among us. He touched all of us. If not with that big, made in Buffalo right paw of his that would come down on your shoulder, through his friendship, through his mentoring, he was our partner.
BETSY FISCHER, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "MEET THE PRESS": He'd say this is all part of life. We have to move forward, lean on each other and cherish all the good times and live every day to its fullest. But live it with honor and integrity and always reach down to help someone else up. He'd say, take these incredible lessons of life that I leave with each of you and live them as you remember me.
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Everyone has a purpose on earth, Tim once said. His, he believed, was to understand public policy, interpret political events and inform the public. And how magnificently he practiced that chosen vocation.
Tim Russert had a larger than normal heart. Maybe it was because we were all occupying so much space in it.
AL HUNT, TIM RUSSERT'S PERSONAL FRIEND: To be as great as Tim was, you need a healthy ego, a good sense of self. But he always marveled that he had gotten Maureen Orth to fall in love with him. Four years later, Judy and I went to New York to see the most memorable baby in almost 2,000 years.
RUSSERT: I love you, dad. And in his words, let us all go get 'em.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: At 2:58 p.m. Eastern daylight time, not four hours after he delivered the eulogy at his father's funeral, not 90 minutes before he would reprise parts of it on stage in front of at least 1,000 people at the Kennedy Center, as you saw, in the midst of what would be for any of us a royal of emotions and an endless supply of challenges, that young man had assigned himself yet another task. The guy who was to host the coverage before the telecast of the memorial service for Luke Russert's dad felt a tug on the edge of his jacket and his name being called. "I just wanted to wish you luck on the air," Luke said to me. "I know it's tough."
Perhaps generosity of spirit and selflessness at times of crisis can be passed on genetically, or maybe it's just taught by a really good father. Either way, Luke Russert has it in spades and has his father and his mother to thank.
One last note from here in Washington, even if you do not believe in omens, the memorial ended with the playing of a recording of a ukulele version of the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Within minutes, as those of us who laughed and grieved left the Kennedy Center, we were stopped in our tracks by this, a vivid double rainbow, which had spread across Washington skies while we were all in that building saying good-bye.
It may be corn ball and it may be easily explained by meteorological conditions of this turbulent spring in the capital, but if there's any way that a soul was behind that, I know that was Russert. I'd recognize him anywhere. We are rebroadcasting this afternoon's memorial to Tim Russert in its entirety, wonderful words from the likes of Maria Shriver, Tom Brokaw, Sister Lucille, Mike Barnicle and Luke Russert, on MSNBC tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.
If you didn't see it this afternoon, please watch it tonight. It is more than worth your time. That is Countdown for this the 1,876th day since the declaration mission accomplished in Iraq. From Washington, I'm Keith Olbermann, go Bills.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END