'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for **November 13, 2008**
Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons
The toss: She's awful
Guests: Chris Kofinis, Margaret Carlson, Robert Reich
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Breaking news tonight from our correspondent Andrea Mitchell, a possibility in five words-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
(voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Palin comparison: The gentle lady from Alaska says anything and everything, putting the "stump me" back into the stump speech, and the pressure back into the press conference at the Republican Governors Convention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN, (R) ALASKA: It's time for us to reach out to this new administration. We're not just one of many voting "yea," or "nay" or "present." No, there is no "present" button in our office, is there?
You don't let excessive, extreme partisanship get in the way of just doing what's right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: D, all of the above?
The Senate: Illinois, the president-elect officially resigns his seat; Alaska, Begich ahead, Stevens' ex-pollster says the Democrat will win; Minnesota, the slime continues, the recount looms; and Georgia: Newt Gingrich says, "The Republican Party right now is like a midsize college team trying to play in the Super Bowl." So, they just sent their retiring quarterback to go campaign for Saxby Chambliss?
Mr. President-elect, what do we do now about the bailout? Who's minding the store?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD, (D) SENATE BANKING COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:
Hoarding capital and acquiring healthy banks are not-I repeat-not reasons why Congress authorized $700 billion in emergency funding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Is this the biggest government giveaway since the Oklahoma Land Rush?
The Bidens meet the Cheneys. No injuries reported.
Worsts: The right-wing manatees have learned a new phrase, "The Obama recession," even though it started a year ago, and he isn't even president yet.
All the Special Comments rolled into one, courtesy of the satire site, 23/6. That is not un-American, it is dictatorial. Today, sir-you sir -you sir - treason, sir-an adult campaign gear (ph), sir-you're a fraud, sir-yes, sir, you-you.
All that and more: Now on Countdown, sir.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Thursday, November 13th, 68 days until the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama and a few more until the start of confirmation hearings for his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.
As the bailout springs a leak in Governor Palin's spring's eternal, breaking news tonight in our fifth story on the Countdown: Our own Andrea Mitchell quoting two Obama advisors with would what be-would be the hands down biggest leak of the transition or the campaign that Obama's rival in that unprecedented battle for the Democratic nomination is under consideration to become the secretary of state in the Obama administration.
As to the senator herself, Andrea, who broke this story earlier this evening quoting her offices as saying, only that any decisions about the transition are up to the president-elect and his team. But her Clinton friendly sources answer the key question-would she be interested with the word, possibly. Adding to the heat if not the light, Senator Clinton traveled today to-of all places-Chicago. Although it is insisted by a Clinton advisor that this was personal business, that does not preclude the possibility that she might have met with the president-elect or Obama's advisors while there.
The two senators, of course, fought an extraordinary and sometimes extraordinarily vicious battle for the Democratic nomination this year. But beginning with the speech in June, in which she ended her candidacy and a especially through a rousing endorsement of the nominee at the convention in Denver in August. Senator Clinton provided all the support for which the president-elect could have asked.
Andrea Mitchell's reports suggest there are, at least, three other possibilities for secretary of state right now, two she describes as "believed to want the job"- Senator John Kerry and Governor Bill Richardson. The third, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
We're joined now by the former communications director for the Edwards campaign, Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis.
Good to see you, sir.
CHRIS KOFINIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good to see you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Does this right true to you and would she be good at it?
KOFINIS: It does kind of ring true. What I think is interesting about this choice is you have a candidate in Senator Clinton who's clearly traveled the entire world, knows probably every international leader of any prominence on a first name basis. So, it gives you a very powerful figure head to push a very aggressive diplomatic agenda.
And listen, after the last eight years of this administration, the one thing you need is a very strong secretary of state to help restore the public image and the poor relationships we have around the world. Now, it doesn't mean necessarily she's going to take it or she's going to be-you know, this maybe rumors, but at the end of the day, we have three good candidates, four good candidates. But it would be a very interesting choice and a very bold choice if she was offered and took the secretary of state.
OLBERMANN: We've heard Supreme Court for her, we've heard stay in the Senate, we heard stay in the Senate and maybe get the leadership at some point in the near future. Would this make sense for her?
KOFINIS: Well, it's interesting question about what she wants to do for, you know, in her career. In terms of secretary of state-listen-you're going to play an incredibly key role in this administration. The reality is, in terms of the diplomatic and foreign policy challenges we face, whether it's Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, China, you need a secretary of state who, I think, is going to be as strong and as determined as someone like a Senator Clinton or a Senator Kerry, whoever it might be.
And so, in that sense, I think, it offers a very good candidate. The real-the question for her is: Does she want to do this or does she want to stay in the Senate where obviously she's been a very powerful and, I think, a very successful senator for New York?
OLBERMANN: Could there be a problem of too many cooks here because, obviously, in the primary campaign, she was very critical of the first time that-since then it is proved that even the Bush administration has done this-but the first time that Obama raised the prospect of diplomacy with Ahmadinejad and other aspects of international diplomacy which she described Obama as naive in-would there be any conflict there or is it a sort of thing that Obama is prepared for?
KOFINIS: You know, it depends. I mean, it depends on whether you have a White House like the Bush administration where you have a vice president and president who both think they are president. I think the difference here with Senator Obama is everyone, I think, is going to be very clear who's in charge. And I think it reminds me back a little bit to the Kennedy administration where they brought in very strong, accomplished personalities almost equals, at least, in records and past.
And I think in that sense, it shows an incredible degree of confidence, determination, and strength on President-elect Barack Obama's part to want to bring in these type of personalities, these type of individuals to give him different ideas and different perspectives especially when you're confronting some of the most serious challenges, in particular, global (ph) policy or national security.
OLBERMANN: The comparisons to Lincoln have been ridden into the ground with this president-elect, but it is, in some sense, is Lincolnian to say, "I'm going to get all the people who challenged me, who were good enough to challenge me and bring them in. I don't care how they might be seen to diminish my leadership." In fact, it's the Johnny Carson joke. Every joke on my show, no matter who gets it, it's also my joke.
KOFINIS: Well, yes-I mean, listen, I think you have to have a governing philosophy. And I think what we saw, at least, during the campaign was a philosophy of surrounding himself with the best people, the best advisors. And it served him incredibly well.
I think what you are seeing, again, just in terms of the names that are vented about for these various cabinet positions, whether it's, you know, Colin Powell for education, whether it's this, you know, whether it's Senator Clinton for state and some of these other folks-I mean, what it says to me is he wants to surround himself with the best and the brightest. And in doing so, it's going to serve him well. I think it's a very smart governing philosophy.
OLBERMANN: Last question. Is the biggest surprise of this-I mean, if this turns out to be the night we find out Hillary Clinton is going to be secretary of state or the night that just the story came out that said she was being considered for it and it didn't work out? Is the biggest lingering surprise of this that there is a story here? These people haven't leaked boo (ph) from the middle of June on, certainly.
KOFINIS: Well, listen, in the campaign world, especially certain campaign, they leak more than others.
KOFINIS: The Obama campaign did not leak. It was probably one of the best things they did. Any disagreements, any divisions were kept internally, it made them a stronger campaign. It wasn't like the McCain campaign that leaks like a sieve. So, I have a hard time believing that this was someone talking out of turn. I think that this is a serious consideration. Now, the question, I think, everyone is going to be waiting for is whether she takes it, whether-when it's offered and if it's offered, does she take it.
OLBERMANN: Yes. And then there's the other one which we can explore, I guess, tomorrow. Why it would have come out? Are we test-ballooning here?
OLBERMANN: And, by the way, the McCain campaign is still leaking a week after it lost. Chris Kofinis, Democratic strategist-great thanks for being here, sir.
KOFINIS: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And then there's the woman who tried to be Hillary Clinton. As noted at the top, there's only 68 days until the inauguration of President-elect Obama, but never mind that.
Just 1,454 days until Election Day 2012, if you're worried that with the election over this program might have to revert to mindless rubber necking over buffed celebrities making fools of themselves in public, you were right. Sarah Palin addressed the Republican convention today, the Republican Governors Convention.
Governor, Britney Spears wants her act back.
At the preliminary session news conference with 12 of her fellow governors and Governor Palin is foreseen (ph) to eager to impart her latest message to the media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: We don't let obsessive, extreme partisanship get in the way of just doing what's right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But, by the fourth and final question, a clearly uncomfortable Palin had to be literally steered back to the podium by governor of Texas, Rick Perry. And the news conference ended there. Check please.
Thirty minutes later, Palin was back in front of the cameras, telling the assembled Republican Governor Association that she is grateful for the same she is previously blamed for losing this election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: I'm thankful he is my soldier son's commander-in-chief and for that, I say, God bless George W. Bush and I thank you, Mr. President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Twenty minutes later, same thankfulness? No, not so much.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: Washington, D.C. leaders spent public money in disregard of the public interest, just like the opponents that they used to criticize. They got too comfortable in power. Maybe they forgot why they were sent to Washington and who they were sent to serve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Obviously, she meant Millard Fillmore.
Governor Palin is pulling a similar about-face on the next president of the United States. At first, she wished Barack Obama well and called his victory a shining moment in American history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: It's time for us to reach out to this new administration. Time for us to reach out to Barack Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Then later, Governor Palin proceeded to reach out and poke the president-elect in the nose.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: We are held accountable every day. The buck stops on our desk. We're not just one of many voting "yea" or "nay" or "present." No, there is no "present" button in our office, is there?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Nice way to-what was it you called it, governor? Not let obsessive, extreme partisanship get in the way of just doing what's right? And, of course, no flashback to her disastrous run for the vice presidency would be complete without the mention of one very special guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: Folks like Joe the Plumber who, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: There it is. The answer to the question: What is the sound of one plumbers hand clapping? I guess you should drop that whole Joe the Plumber thing, right, governor?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: Joe the Plumber, remember-and thanks to Joe the Plumber. I'll not forget guys like Tito the Builder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Finally, Governor Palin, having relegated 2012 discussions to the pundits (ph) gave a little insight into her future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: In respect to our presidential campaign-now, it is time for us to go our own way and leaving neither bitter nor vanquished, but instead confident in the knowledge that there will be another day and we will gather once more, with new strength, will rise to fight again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: We turn once again to Margaret Carlson, political columnist for "Bloomberg News" and Washington editor of "The Week" magazine, who was there for that epic moment at the Hotel Intercontinental Miami to hear the governor this morning.
Thanks for joining us again tonight, Margaret.
MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Nice to be here, Keith. Thanks.
OLBERMANN: Obviously, the Joe the Plumber moment was a resounding dud. How did the crowd react to the rest of her speech?
CARLSON: You know, one person try today get applause going for J the P, couldn't do it. The people just didn't bite.
Remember, I vowed never to say his name again on your show, Keith. So, he will not be spoken tonight. The awkward moment was when Governor Perry came in either to be gallant or either to give Sarah Palin the hook at the very, very short press conference. You blink, you miss it. She was just gone and the questions weren't particularly hostile. So, she's hustled off, she gives her speech, and she puts in some of the red meat.
I thought she-do you remember the movie, "All of Me" with Steve Martin?
CARLSON: Where Lily Tomlin possesses half his body? Well, the campaign Sarah Palin possesses half of Governor Palin's body. So, that's why the speech was two different speeches where she's bringing up some of her famous lines.
OLBERMANN: I'm sorry, pardon me. I'm just having a whole series of flashbacks from that Steve Martin/Lily Tomlin/Victoria Tennant movie.
CARLSON: Yes, it's a great one.
OLBERMANN: Yes, and applicable.
It was yesterday Governor Pawlenty called for the GOP to become more diverse. Governor Jindal said the party needs to offer more than just the other side's worse rhetoric. Did Palin offer a clear path for the party today beyond what she'd already said on the campaign trail?
CARLSON: You know, not much. What the governors did in the green room was to get her not to say the four-letter number, which is 2012. And just say 2010, which you're allowed to say. And to stay away from that and concentrate on, OK, where do we go from here?
But the second half of her speech she reverted to everything but, you know, palling around with terrorists and socialism. So, there wasn't much in the speech.
You know, Tim Pawlenty, who is just a walking metaphor. He had a new one today. Yesterday, he did comb-over, we're probably going to see more than that. Today, it's post-modern art where everybody sees their own picture and Sarah Palin sees one picture. And then, governors Barbour, Crist, Pawlenty see another picture. Actually, it's a little like high school where there are clicks. So, that's the moderate contemporary group against the Sarah Palin "let's be even more conservative" group.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Governors Bobby, and Ricky, and Timmy, and all the rest from high school.
One last question and it's kind of off topic but just off the top of your head with this news that Andrea Mitchell has tonight that the two sources in the Obama campaign are talking about Senator Clinton being viable candidate for secretary of state. What happens to Sarah Palin if there's a Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? It's the presidency, it's not the vice presidency, it's probably number three in the depth chart.
CARLSON: Yes. Well, she did mention the glass ceiling today that she almost poked through. Remember, we have Condoleezza Rice, so that ceiling has been cracked.
You know, every once and awhile, you get surprised by news. I was actually surprised by this. I didn't picture Hillary Clinton be the secretary of state because, by the way, Bill Clinton thinks he's secretary of state with his global aids initiative.
So, that would be interesting if that happens.
OLBERMANN: Yes, we could have up to four secretaries of state in the event of that, at concurrence.
Margaret Carlson of "Bloomberg News" and "The Week" magazine, at the Republican Governors Convention, a conference rather, and also, old Steve Martin movie festival in Miami-thank you, Margaret.
CARLSON: Thanks, Keith. Good night.
OLBERMANN: As a president-elect may have to campaign again against the man he defeated last week for the sake of the Senate seat in Georgia, remarkable developments from the Senate in Alaska. The Democratic challenger has gone from loser to close, to ahead by three votes, to the point where a prominent pollster says he is going to take Ted Stevens Senate seat away from Stevens. The pollster is the one who used to work for Ted Stevens.
OLBERMANN: The prediction from a Republican pollster, the Democrat Mark Begich will win Alaska. The possibility that the Georgia Senate race will be "Obama versus McCain, the Sequel."
What do we do now, now that the bailout is beginning to look like a taxpayer rip off? And if like me, you think that Special Comment guy is sometimes more about the drama than the substance, wait until you see the hilarious send-off by a satirical Web-wait a minute.
OLBERMANN: First, John McCain tried to make the battle of the Republic of Georgia into political capital. Now, he's trying to make the state of Georgia into political capital.
Our fourth story on the Countdown: The undecided Senate races in Alaska, Georgia, and Minnesota, and McCain support for Senator Saxby Chambliss in that Georgia runoff, helping to build pressure for the president-elect to go campaign for his Democratic challenger, Jim Martin.
President-elect Obama resigned his Illinois Senate seat today effective Sunday. Meantime, Mr. Martin's campaign has requested Obama's help in Georgia. So far, Obama campaign staffers with their now vaunted organizational skills, have been helping the Martin runoff effort.
Senator McCain campaigned in Atlanta today for the incumbent. McCain said Governor Palin would try to make it to Georgia as well, and he portrayed a vote for Chambliss as a vote against.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: It's not conjecture that the Democrats have announced that they will raise taxes, increase spending, and cut defense spending. I'm asking you to go into battle one more time. Just one more time here and we won't call on you for at least a month.
MCCAIN: So-there's a lot at stake here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And in Alaska, where Mark Begich now leads the incumbent, convicted felon Ted Stevens, by 814 votes. Approximately 60,000 early, absentee and questioned ballots were counted yesterday, erasing a Stevens lead of 3,400, then fueling the current Begich resurgence, about 40,000 more votes will be counted by next Wednesday with Senator Stevens' ex-pollster, David Dittman, predicting that Begich will ultimately increase his lead, quote, "I don't think Stevens can come back," according to Dittman.
And the Minnesota Senate race recount draws near. Norm Coleman versus Al Franken with a shot across the bow from the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chuck Schumer, saying the Democrats will not allow Republicans there to intimidate a recount process which is required by state law. But, Senator Schumer stopped short of predicting an eventual Democratic caucus of 60.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: So, in conclusion, I know you're going to ask me this question. Let me beat you to the punch. Will we get 60 seats? Well, I have the same answer today that I had the day before the election. It's possible, but unlikely. But, we have certainly added enough Democratic seats to the Senate to create real change for the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: To round up the Senate, let's call in MSNBC correspondent David Shuster from Washington.
David, good evening.
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Georgia first. At this point, does Senator McCain help that much? And with the proviso that we know you can't get inside his head, is he simply happy to be asked to help?
SHUSTER: Well, I suppose, Keith, but it depends on which John McCain you believe exists right now. If it's the maverick from 2000 to 2002, then you would think, no, it probably hated being asked given that six years ago, he criticized Saxby Chambliss for running a horrific ad and said that it was reprehensible to use images of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden as you pointed out in that ad against triple amputee Max Cleland.
On the other hand, if you believe that John McCain has become sort of the pure political being that he seemed to be in this election, it was probably an easy decision for him to say "yes" and somehow continue to be relevant. In any case, Keith, as far as whether it's going to help, about 4 million people came out on Election Day in Georgia. They are predicting maybe half of that in special elections.
And special elections runoffs tend to depend on the base. So, to the extent that John McCain energizes the base, that could help. On the other hand, special elections also depend on organization, getting your people to the polls. Barack Obama had an organization; John McCain did not have one in Georgia. So, we'll see.
OLBERMANN: Does that, in fact, that narrowness of the base versus base voting-does that almost mandate that we have seen this almost unprecedented situation which a president-elect may wind up stepping in to a Senate race to campaign? Will Obama campaign for Martin?
SHUSTER: Well, given that the Martin campaign has been so public about requesting that Barack Obama go down there, it certainly puts a lot of pressure on Barack Obama to do so. The other thing that starting to happen here in Washington, Keith, is we're starting to hear a lot of Senate Democrats say that Barack Obama would create even more good will if he went down there and help Jim Martin. On top of the political leverage that Obama already has on the victory, that just going down there would create even better atmospherics for the Democrats in the Senate.
But you're also hearing, Keith, that some move by the Democrats to get Barack Obama to reach out to some of the moderate Republicans when you're talking about a personal connection. And that is Olympia Snow and Susan Collins of Maine, because if the Democrats fall short, and get, say, to just the 58, they can still break the Republican filibusters if they can convince on particular issues those two moderates remain to join them on whatever the legislation is.
OLBERMANN: Of course, the road to 58 goes through Alaska. Now, the Democrats are cautiously optimistic in there, but this Republican ex-pollster says it's over, Begich wins. Presumably, it's going to be close one way or the other. Is there a recount there or does Senators Stevens or the loser, if it's Begich, have to ask for one or does the conviction factor into this?
SHUSTER: Well, this is where Alaska law comes into play. A defeated candidate or 10 voters can request a recount within three days of certification. They can do it by asking for a recount in one precinct, they can ask for a many precincts, they can ask for statewide. They would have to pay unless if the final results are within ½ of 1 percent, which in this case will end up being about 1,500 votes. If it's within 1,500 votes, then the state would pay for the recount. The recount would begin and it would have to be completed within 10 days.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let's have a recount to see whether or not we have to throw out a convicted felon. I'm very confused.
MSNBC's David Shuster rounding up the Senate for us in Washington-thank you, David.
SHUSTER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: This programming note, the Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich who indeed leads the Alaska Senate race count nine days after the vote will be among Rachel Maddow's guest. Her show begins at the top of the next hour.
What happens if they steal our video and edit it down, and then we steal their edited version of our video and edit it down again? And there's the possibility we may cause a black hole to form.
There's one right here, obviously. Even the Republican who first launched the story now says nothing is amiss. So, why is the manatee still insisting 32 Minnesota Senate votes were left in a car over a weekend? Worst Persons is ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment. And when the least offensive thing you did all night was get naked in front of the van at the bar, you have a rough Halloween.
First, on this in 1955 was born in New York City Caryn Elaine Johnson, but before launching a career that would see her win and Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony, and host the Oscars and Tonys, changed her name to reflect Jewish heritage and a certain sense of gaseous liberation. So happy birthday Whoopi Goldberg.
Let's play "Oddball." To the Internet and the satirical stylings of 236.com. Their latest contribution to the masses, my special comments, all of them, and combined and reduced to one-minute length.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Finally tonight, as promised.
A special comment.
Near nonsensical bluster.
Three points here, one.
You're a fascist. Get them to print you a T-shirt with "fascist" on it.
You are making a jackass out of yourself.
This is crap.
Show a little respect.
Grow up, you are a liar.
You are a liar.
That, sir, is not only un-American, it is dictatorial.
An adult campaign here, sir.
You are a fraud, sir.
How dare you!
I'm not gay.
Pathetic and desperate.
Petulant thugs and psychos.
You would have been screwed.
And screwed you are.
Good night and good luck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And you, sirs and or madams, you have entirely too much time on your hands. Well done.
Today we call it a bailout, tomorrow we may call it why daddy went to jail. Our "what do we do now" question, what do we do now about a bailout turned money grab?
And the old veep meets the new veep, this presumes they have told the old veep.
These stories ahead, but first, time for Countdown's top three "Best Persons in the World." Number three, best possible new "Batman" sequel, Huseyin Kalkan, the mayor of a small city in southeastern Turkey who has sued Warner Brothers, seeking royalties from the movie "Batman: The Dark Knight." Kalkan is mayor of Batman, Turkey. The mayor of Penguin, France, had no comment.
Number two best snap, conservative writer David Frum responding to Karl Rove's assertion that history will favor Republicans in 2010, went on C-SPAN and observed: "Karl Rove has not had a great batting record recently. He predicted the Republicans would hold the House in '06, and was assuring Republicans they would win in 2008. So I'm afraid that this is a little over-optimistic about 2010."
And number one, best mug shot. Meet Lori Brutsche-Ely of Hailey, Idaho. Wow. Ms. Brutsche-Ely was arrested at a bar on Halloween night, first allegedly flashing the band. Then, as police were called, stripping naked. Then when the cops arrived, punching one of them in the chest. At the police station, biting a deputy, in her cell setting off a fire sprinkler and causing the cell to flood. But she has still got her charm.
OLBERMANN: It was only six weeks ago that Congress green-lighted the $700 billion bailout of the nation's failing financial firms, $700 billion. And now, six weeks later, Washington is trying to figure out what went wrong. Part B of that question posed today on Capitol Hill, as we will pose it to the president-elect each night until the inauguration, what do we do now?
In our third story on the Countdown, maybe this happened to occur because of the simple announcement in a city full of lobbyists that $700 billion was basically available for the taking or that there were not enough strings attached to the handouts or that no one was actually in charge.
The House and Senate today deciding the matter urgent enough to address during this lame duck session, holding hearings to investigate where $290 billion, pledged by Treasury Secretary Paulson and the Bush administration has gone, and how it is being used wherever it is.
The Department's own inspector general who is in charge until the job special inspector general can be filled, calling it a "mess," adding: "I don't think anyone understands right now how we're going to do proper oversight of this thing.
Meanwhile, in opening remarks, representatives from the nation's biggest banks, Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, emphatic about where the taxpayer billions should go and not go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Hoarding capital and acquiring healthy banks are not, I repeat, not reasons why Congress authorized $700 billion in emergency funding. The core purpose of this law and the purpose of virtually every other action taken during this crisis is to get lenders back into the business of lending.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: We're joined by the former secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, and the authority of "Supercapitalism," Robert Reich, also serving on President-elect Obama's economic transition team.
Mr. Secretary, good evening, thanks for your time.
ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Has this become an out of control fire hose, spraying taxpayer money everywhere?
REICH: Oh, it seems to be. It seems to be going every place except where there's a real fire. The real fire is on Main Street, it's not on Wall Street. You have got a lot of small businesses that still are not getting loans. You've got a lot of students that can't go to college because they can't get loans. You've got a lot of homeowners who are in danger of losing their homes or already lost their homes because they can't get refinancing.
OLBERMANN: What happened to that premise that the money was going to wind up helping, whether it was directly or indirectly, people being crushed by mortgages? It seems that the institutions that got the money decided, great, we have this money and we want to and intend to keep it.
REICH: Evidently, that is exactly what has happened. We don't know. I mean, this is the most obscure, opaque kind of rescue that I have think I ever remember with the largest amount of money at stake. I mean, a lot of the banks that are getting the money are declaring dividends for their shareholders. They are paying bonuses to their executives and deferred compensation to their executives.
And they are talking about buying other banks and keeping, trying to get their share prices up. I mean, they seem to be forgetting that the major purpose of this entire bailout is to help Main Street and help the little guys.
OLBERMANN: So with the caveat that Senator Obama voted for this, what does President-elect Obama do now and what should he be planning to do in January?
REICH: Well, he's not president yet. And let me just say that I'm one of his advisers, so I'm obviously not speaking for him. But you have got to focus this thing on Main Street, you've got to make sure that the little guys are helped. You've got to make sure that there are conditions that are real conditions placed on these banks.
Otherwise, why should they not have gone under Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization? I mean, why shouldn't creditors and shareholders and executives take big haircuts like everybody else?
OLBERMANN: Would this help? One of the proposals, obviously, that has been out there-and I'm not going to ask you to comment on whether or not the president-elect discussed this with the president, as has been widely reported, but one of the ideas was take what remains of this that has not yet been thrown out the back door and up for grabs and redirect this towards the auto industry.
Is that a solution to getting out of the sudden-not the bailout, the problem the bailout was supposed to resolve, but the problems the bailout has caused?
OLBERMANN: Look, Keith, whatever industry gets some help, there ought to be strings attached. I mean, auto industry, you've got 3 million people almost directly dependent on the auto industry for their paychecks, and about 20 million people indirectly. That is a lot of people, unlike Wall Street.
Well, Wall Street has a lot of employees too, but nothing like the automobile industry. But still, the creditors of the auto industry and the executives in the auto industry, and maybe even the unions ought to agree to some sacrifices along with taxpayer money, if taxpayer is going to be put up so that there's enough money there to restructure the automobile industry, make more competitive autos, have autos that actually are fuel efficient for a change, and can grow and keep a lot of people employed.
OLBERMANN: Is this statement still as true as it seemed to be six weeks ago, when this passed, that all this would have been worse if the bailout had not passed or is the statement up for grabs right now?
REICH: Well, I think the statement really is up for grabs, Keith. I mean, consumers are the ones who are really hurting right now. I mean, not only are they not getting loans, but consumers are losing their jobs. Unemployment is skyrocketing. You know, if Main Street was not hurting before, Main Street is really hurting now.
And without consumers with enough confidence and money in their pockets to go around and buy things, the rest of the economy is going to stop. It already has.
OLBERMANN: Robert Reich, the former Clinton labor secretary, the author of "Supercapitalism," joining us tonight from Berkeley, thank you for your time, sir. We appreciate it.
REICH: Thanks very much, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Biden meets Cheney. Neither vice president was armed, we think.
And talking about not thinking, to comedian Rush Limbaugh, it's the Obama recession. We will try a Limbaugh intervention ahead in "Worsts." But first, because they are not going away soon enough, the headlines breaking in the administration's 50 running scandals, "Bushed!".
Number three, Blackwater-gate. More hints tonight that the State Department is indeed going to fine the mercenary megacorporation. It claims Blackwater shipped as many as 900 automatic weapons to Iraq without getting any of the legally required permits. Conveniently, plenty of those guns wound up on the Iraqi black market. Conveniently for Blackwater, even after the first story of the illegal gun-running broke 14 months ago, the Bush administration continued to feed Blackwater federal contracts. The total amount of those contracts now, about 1.2 billion. The total fine would like a 1.2 million.
Number two, ICE-gate. We told you last week that the Homeland executive in charge of Immigrations Customs Enforcement, ICE, Julie Myers, has resigned effective Saturday. Now an ICE spokeswoman says it may never make public the results of the internal investigation as to who leaked just before the election the story that one of Barack Obama's aunts was living illegally in this country. So the aunt could get deported, but the unnamed federal law enforcement official who leaked the story to the Associated Press, obviously in hopes of swaying votes against Obama, may never even be publicly identified, let alone prosecuted.
Number one, zombie president-gate. You have to admit, that's a pretty dramatic one. Zombie president-gate. The prospect raised today by Charlie Savage in The New York Times that even after he leaves office, President Bush might resist subpoenas asking his minions to testify to Congress or even fight President Obama if he wants to release relevant files and documents next year. The precedent? A hastily thrown-together rationale by ex-President Harry Truman as to why he would not testify to House Un-American Activities Committee about an appointment he made to the International Monetary Fund.
So post-Bush investigations, even truth commissions that wouldn't be seeking to punish just to assemble a true record, might be thwarted; on topics ranging from the political purse of the U.S. attorneys, Karl Rove's prosecution of the Democratic governor of Alabama, the authorization of torture, the fixing a phony intel., I could go on until Sunday.
The punch line here though is that the lawyer who in 1953 hastily devised Harry Truman's concept of the executive privilege of ex-presidents is not only still alive, but he now has his doubts. Edward M. Cramer telling The Times: "I think legally we were wrong. Nixon used it, and we said, 'oh, Jesus, what have we done?'"
Yes, give us an update on your thoughts this time next year.
OLBERMANN: How are you, Mr. Vice President? Good to see you, Joe.
The great Biden-Cheney summit tonight in Washington. No gunfire reported. That's next and a brief update on the lead story tonight about the prospect of Hillary Clinton becoming secretary of state.
First, on Countdown's number two story, tonight's "Worst Persons in the World." The bronze to Steve Doocy of "Fixed News," who didn't look very hard, as usual, at a news story, before opening up his big bazoo about it. Pew Research Center did a survey and found that the number one favorite television journalist during the campaign was Bill O'Reilly, followed by Tom Brokaw, Sean Hannity, and some others as well. That's when they showed my name, but Doocy didn't have the guts to say it out loud or he wasn't sure he could pronounce it correctly.
Here's the thing-and by the way, I'm saying this having been listed as the favorite TV journalist among Democrats, down there in the fine print, the survey consisted of interviewing about 1,000 people. So when O'Reilly got 6 percent to make him the favorite, or I got 5 percent of Democrats to make me their favorite, that means maybe 64 people said he was their favorite, and maybe 24 Democrats said I was their favorite. And unfortunately, 500 people said they couldn't name anybody as their favorite.
Runners up, the entry of Sean Hannity and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. They are pushing this legend, fiction, lie about the Senate recount in Pawlenty's state. Said Hannity: "We have an issue, a ballot showing up in a car somewhere, and then they're going to be counted? Where were these ballots before? So there, there is a lot of questions about, you know, behavior on the part of some."
Said Governor Pawlenty: "Finding 32 ballots in the trunk of a car, supposedly forgetting that they were there is suspicious." You know what's suspicious, Guv? When you push a Republican talking point that has now been denied by the Republican who made it up. Fritz Knaak, a lawyer representing the Norm Coleman campaign, announced last Saturday that, "we were actually told ballots had been riding around in" Minneapolis Director of Elections, Cindy Reichert's car for several days, which raised all kinds of integrity questions."
Not only has Ms. Reichert denied that, but Fritz Knaak said on Monday:
"It does not appear that there was any ballot tampering, and that was our concern." So you might want to drop this red herring since the Republican who dug it up has now denied it.
But our winner, comedian Rush Limbaugh. "By the way, the Obama recession is in full swing, ladies and gentleman. Stocks are dying, which is a precursor of things to come. This is an Obama recession, might turn into a depression. He hasn't done anything yet, but his ideas are killing the economy." Tremendous.
Obama won't be president until two months from next Thursday. The Republicans have been overspending and under-regulating us into the toilet for eight years, and the president-elect has been warning about a recession for a year while the Republican candidate kept saying the fundamentals of the economy were strong. And it's the Obama recession.
Rush, I swear I'm saying this out of concern, even your craziest arguments used to follow some sort of logical structure. Twisted, but logical. But, buddy, the wheels are falling off now. Do something. Get help. Maybe steroids. Comedian Rush Limbaugh, today's "Worst Person in the World"!
OLBERMANN: A quick update on tonight's top story which Rachel Maddow will flesh out at the top of the hour. Andrea Mitchell's report quoting two unidentified Barack Obama advisers is saying Senator Hillary Clinton is being considered for secretary of state. First response from the Obama team tonight, spokesman Tommy Vietor, and it is not very substantial, "we're just declining comment on all speculation like this."
Here in the United States, Darth Vader must ultimately relinquish his power, if that doesn't apply elsewhere in the universe. And in our number one story on the Countdown, so it begins with Vice President Cheney meeting with his successor, the vice president-elect, Joe Biden.
And if Cheney is Darth, Biden is Obi-Wan? Anyway, the current vice president and Lynne Cheney welcomed the Bidens to the official residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington. Biden said:
"How are you, Mr. Vice President?" Cheney answered: "Good to see you, Joe."
Cheney's spokeswoman said that the visit would include a private meeting and a tour of the residence. It was intended to be more of a social call with dinner. You will recall that during his debate with Governor Palin, Senator Biden said that Cheney was " the most dangerous vice president we have had probably in American history."
Vice President Cheney has opined that the role of his successor is open to question, despite the precedent set by Mr. Cheney. "I'm reluctant to say it's a trend," Cheney said at an interview last March, "but if you look at the history of the office, it can go either way." Sure, and it's much easier to grab non-existent vice presidential authority if you turn a blind eye to the Constitution and serve a compliant and complicit president, and every once in a while shoot the gun in the wrong direction.
Let's turn now to my colleague, Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rach?
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I know this is a ridiculous question, but I would think it is the one most likely to appear in the mind of my viewer or yours. Are we sure Cheney is going to go peaceably?
MADDOW: Well, I mean, there's this patented, cockamamie Cheney idea that the vice presidency is not part of the executive branch. So that has never really been tested as an idea before. Who knows what he thinks his responsibilities are during the handover to a new president. Maybe he thinks he gets to stay.
You know, there was something a little alarming that happened this week, and it was way off the beaten path. But the new "Plum Book" came out, which is the list of all the political appointments for the new administration.
And under the section for the vice president's office, for the new administration, it did describe the vice presidency as not being part of the executive branch. I'm assuming it was a cut and paste thing from the last one, but it sent a shiver down my spine.
OLBERMANN: Well, maybe he-you know, he can just stay out there on the porch and wait for something to happen.
About the meeting tonight, given the past eight years, is this in a way the most important vice presidential transfer of power in recent history and will the full exposure of, you know, Cheney-inspired executive power overreach, take years from now?
MADDOW: Well, we have never had a vice presidency like this before.
And so now, Joe Biden, sort of all eyes on him in terms of what he can do. Power doesn't contract very easily. Power isn't-if it's like a rubber band, it's like a really old, dried out rubber band. And once things get expanded, they don't really contract on their own once you let them go.
And our system of government is based on law, but it's also based on precedent. And because nobody shoved Cheney back in his constitutional box as he took on all of these new powers for himself, Joe Biden is left with a hugely powerful office that hasn't really been tested in the terms of its legal precedent, that the governmental precedent is all bad in terms of how big the executive power grant is.
And it's hard to imagine politicians making their own office less powerful. But that's sort of what Biden needs to do if he wants to do right by the country and the Constitution.
OLBERMANN: I know this is a different set of circumstances and obviously a different period of time, but they did managed to coral the vice presidency after Aaron Burr decided it was a launch pad to become like emperor of another transcontinental country that was supposed to fill up the southern half of the United States. So there's some hope there.
MADDOW: We have to start the campaign now. Cheney equals Burr.
MADDOW: I think that's right.
OLBERMANN: Well, with guns and everything else. Everything but the duel.
The former vice president-Al Gore's chief of staff is back in the news, Ron Klain was chosen as the next vice president's chief of staff. Is there more than just, hey, this guy has had the job before? Is this some sort of recognition that Al Gore might been the best model for V.P. in modern times?
MADDOW: That's exactly how I read it, that this was just-this was setting up a flare gun to say, this is what a vice presidency was supposed to be like. I mean, Al Gore did actually get stuff done as vice president, more than just going to funerals.
Al Gore got a lot done. The whole reinventing government thing is one of the great unsung accomplishments of the Clinton era. And he didn't set the Constitution on fire in order to do it.
I thought the Ron Klain choice, even though I'm not a fan of all of these Clinton folks ending up in the Obama transition necessarily in principle, I thought the Ron Klain choice had a nice poetic justice to it.
OLBERMANN: And you mentioned Senator Clinton, I understand, I know that you will have Andrea Mitchell at the top of your hour. But I would be remiss if I did not take the opportunity to sound you out on the prospect of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
MADDOW: I am surprised by this leak. A, I'm surprised but that it's a leak, because it makes it very hard to now not offer it to her. But if there's one thing that Hillary Clinton hit Obama on during the primary season, it was her disagreeing with him about diplomacy and foreign affairs. So it would be a very surprising move, very, very, very surprising.
OLBERMANN: Plus, you could never send her to Kosovo and anybody maintain a straight face.
OLBERMANN: Not to be hypercritical again of the senator, but that would be a problem.
MADDOW: She would just have to go by boat, she couldn't land on a tarmac anywhere.
OLBERMANN: Rachel, I'm sorry, I'm out of time, because if I don't get the show off the air at straight-up top of the hour, the 9:00 host beats the crap out of me.
MADDOW: Yes, she's awful.
OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this, the 2,024th day since the declaration of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
And our MSNBC coverage continues now with "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.
MADDOW: Hi, again, Keith. And, thank you.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END