Friday, January 30, 2009

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for January 30, 2009
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Worst Persons
Video via YouTube: Superbowl preview with Dan Patrick
The toss: Hi Dan

Guest: Dan Patrick, Richard Wolffe, E.J. Dionne, Eugene Robinson

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

War: Senator McCaskill of Missouri opens fire on the nonstop self-aggrandizement of the corporate recipients of the bailout handout.


SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MISSOURI: We have a bunch of idiots on Wall Street that are kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer.


OLBERMANN: The senator's startling demand: No company getting a dime in bailout money can pay any employee more than $400,000 a year.

This - while in Worsts: Exxon Mobil sets a world record for corporate profits, $45 billion, even as the national economy is now contracting at an annual rate of 3.8 percent.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: These are the families who have, by no fault of their own, been hit hardest as the economy has worsened. They need action - now.


OLBERMANN: And opposed to that action, defending unemployment and the corporations and the subjugation of the middle class - comedian Rush Limbaugh. He is now officially the target. A liberal group is now running ads asking voters to ask their Republican senators: Are you voting with Limbaugh or are you voting with America?

Who is running that store? The head of the Republican National Committee today suddenly quits. So, Limbaugh thinks he will pick the successor.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: The official leaders of the Republican Party are fighting over who their ultimate leader is going to be - hint, hint, it's Sarah Palin.


OLBERMANN: Yes, please. Be careful what you wish for, Rush, you might just get it.

Super Bowl XLIII: Dan Patrick joins me here - meaning our NBC pre-game show is officially starting at 8:50 Eastern Time Friday night.

And he was hair today, gone tomorrow. But even as the ex-governor, Rod Blagojevich, remains the bottomless cup of comedy coffee.


JAY LENO, TV TALK SHOW HOST: When you heard the lieutenant governor was going to get his seat, he said, "You mean, for free?"


DAVID LETTERMAN, TV TALK SHOW HOST: He spoke for 47 minutes and it really took its toll on the guy. And afterwards, honest to God, they had to rush him to the emergency room at Supercuts.



OLBERMANN: All that and more - now on Countdown.




OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening, from the NFL Experience in Tampa.

Sadly, this is the American experience tonight: The economy is getting worse - much worse - and so is the gap between the average American and titanic corporations, some of which revealed yesterday they had paid out $18 billion in bonuses after begging for us to bail them out. Another of which today announced that almost in comprehensive of 2008 profit of more than $45 billion.

Thus, in our fifth story on the Countdown: A tipping point of sorts on the floor of the Senate today - an outraged Claire McCaskill of Missouri, introducing legislation that would make it illegal for any company getting government bailout money to pay their executives more than $400,000 a year.

The figure is not arbitrary. It is the salary of the president of the United States, who, having warned that the nation's financial situation will get worse before it gets better, prove sadly correct by the new numbers today, showing that the U.S. economy fell off a cliff in the last quarter of 2008, the GDP shrinking at annual rate of 3.8 percent in the final three months of the year, its worst showing since 1982 when the country was in a midst of another recession.

At the end of the week in which the corporate gangsters who brought you this recession tried to take delivery of a $50 million private jet and were revealed to have handed out $18 billion in bonuses to Wall Street's failures. Senator Claire McCaskill looking to ensure that if we can't get that money back, at the very least, maybe we can make sure the same excesses do not happen again.


MCCASKILL: They don't get it. These people are idiots. You can't use taxpayer money to pay out $18 billion in bonuses.

Merrill Lynch is unbelievable. They saved $3 billion to $4 billion from the pot of money that was going to Bank of America. The sale is going to close the first week in January. They always gave bonuses in January.

You know what these sneaky guys did? They decided to give their bonuses in December before the Bank of America took over. Paid out $3 billion to $4 billion in bonuses in December and that quarter Merrill Lynch lost $21 billion. What planet are these people on?

Going forward, you want taxpayers to help you survive, you want the people at your financial institution to have a job tomorrow, then you're going to have to limit everyone's pay at your company to the same salary that the president of the United States makes.


OLBERMANN: The $400,000 man himself today signing executive orders that make it harder for federal contractors to hire nonunion workers, also announcing that he's putting Vice President Biden in charge of a task force on the middle-class that would both aim to raise the poor into the middle-class and to protect those Americans who are already there hit hardest in the what is now officially, the worst economic downturn in a quarter century.


OBAMA: These are the men and the women who form the backbone of our economy, the most productive workers in the world. They do their jobs. They build the products, and provide the services that drive America's prosperity.

And they told me about jobs lost and homes foreclosed, hours cut and benefits slashed, the costs of life slowing slipping away and chipping away at the hopes of affording college or a new home or retirement. It's like the American Dream in reverse. These are the families who have, by no fault of their own, been hit hardest as the economy has worsened.


OLBERMANN: Time now to call in our own political analyst, Richard Wolffe.

Richard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: The president said he favors some kind of limit on these incomes. In that context, does Senator McCaskill's plan have any chance of becoming law?

WOLFFE: Yes, it does. And we saw yesterday when the president was talking about these issues, a flash of anger, something he rarely shows, showed on two years of the campaign very little emotion. But on this issue, he feels very strongly, strongly enough that he's got his treasury secretary to get Citigroup to back off that corporate jet that you mentioned before.

Claire McCaskill is very close to this president. She was a trouper through the campaign. And I'm told by administration officials that we can expect to hear something pretty strong from this administration, very soon, within the next week or two, on this issue - because when you enter the public sphere, when you take that public money, there are strings attached and this is one of them.

OLBERMANN: "Bloomberg News," Richard, reported today that the richest 400 Americans in the country saw their incomes double in the Bush administration and their average income became $263 million. So, in that context, is it a radical idea that every executive at a firm that gets bailout money won't get paid more than the president, will have to get knocked down to 400 grand?

WOLFFE: Well, in another decade it might have been radical, Keith. But - what's much more radical right now is that the federal government is stepping in and bailing out these companies in the first place. Never mind bailing them out to the tunes of hundreds of billions of dollars. You know, these companies have to recognize that they're not operating in the political sphere and so the kind of "anything goes" mentality ends when they take the taxpayers' money.

This kind of behavior just is not going to fly with this administration. And let's face it. We don't know that the bailouts ended. The likelihood is, there will be more.

OLBERMANN: And great that it's being attempted now and that the anger is obviously real and people like President Obama and Senator McCaskill who do not show anger readily. But shouldn't the senator and her 99 colleagues, at that point still including Senator Obama, have attached legislation like this to the TARP bailout when it went through in October?

WOLFFE: Well, yes, they should have done. But remember how that legislation came about and remember who was pushing it. It's very unlikely that President Bush would have signed that into law at that time and also, there was a sense of urgency and panic. Nobody thought the financial companies would behave in this way. There was an expectation, in fact, that financial markets would seize up altogether.

So, it was rushed. People actually, frankly, didn't really understand how the money would be spent. It's late to the game. But they're going to have to do that now.

OLBERMANN: Yes. The financial markets seized up, but in an entirely meaning different to that phrase.

One last point, Bill Gates told the BBC that he says or he's thinking that it's going to take four years to emerge globally from this recession. Was does that portend for the president on this idea of "it's getting worse before it gets better"?

WOLFFE: Well, it's true. And Bill Gates here is much more pessimistic than even the most pessimistic economists right now, but it is true. Then the Democrats will lose seats in the next midterms in 2010, and maybe only just pull out into a recovery situation for the president's re-election. I think that is deeply pessimistic.

Most people think that this economy will pick up late this year, early next year. The Democrats still have a shot unless Bill Gates knows something that we don't.

OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of MSNBC - Richard, have a great weekend. Great thanks, as always.

WOLFFE: And, you, too. Good luck.

OLBERMANN: Meantime, in the Senate a fight over how best to fix the economy and question of whether even one Republican might dare to consider voting for President Obama's stimulus plan, one plan of attack is taking aim not at the GOP leader in the House, John Boehner, but rather at radio comedian, Rush Limbaugh.

The liberal advocacy group, Americans United for Change, is targeting Limbaugh as the de facto leader of the Republican Party and today, launching a series of radio ads that link that personality to what amounts to moderate Republican senators in three states that President Obama won, Senator Specter of Pennsylvania, Senator Voinovich of Ohio, Senator Ensign of Nevada.

All of the ads drawing a direct line from Limbaugh's "I hope he fails" comment about President Obama to the senators in question, including in this brief portion of the Nevada ad.


NARRATOR: We can understand why an extreme partisan like Rush Limbaugh wants President Obama's jobs program to fail, but the members of the Congress elected to represent citizens in their districts? That's another matter. Now, the Obama plan goes to the Senate. And the question is: Will our senator, John Ensign, side with Rush Limbaugh, too?

LIMBAUGH: I hope he fails.


OLBERMANN: Let's turn now to E.J. Dionne, "Washington Post" columnist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Good evening, E.J.

E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Is there anything to framing the stimulus fight as "Obama versus Limbaugh" or is that little more than perhaps useful gimmick for an attack ad?

DIONNE: Well, if it's a gimmick, I think it's a good gimmick. First of all, those are states where Obama beat McCain. Imagine how big his margin would be over Rush Limbaugh. So, if you cast the choice that way, Obama or Limbaugh, it's very favorable to the president.

Secondly, if you look at the coverage of this fight so far, the Republicans really haven't paid a very big price for not giving any votes to Obama in the House. And I think this is an effort to say, "Look, there is going to be some price to be paid. You're going to be associated with this very loud right-winger who may be popular in the conservative base but surely isn't popular among moderate swing voters."

OLBERMANN: Senator Specter, Senator Voinovich, Senator Ensign, are targeted by the radio ads, Senator Snowe, Senator Collins, Senator Gregg, Senator Murkowski, Senator Grassley, they are the focus of the TV ads funded by this coalition of Democratic groups. Is any one of them more susceptible to re-election fears or pressure from their districts than their counterparts in the House, seemingly were not when none of them supported the stimulus program?

DIONNE: Well, I think all of the senators are far more vulnerable to pressure than all but a few of the House members, because, you know, the House districts - the Republicans lost a lot of seats. So, they're really down to their hardcore. Those folks represent very conservative districts, whereas senators represent very diverse constituencies.

And obviously, in the case of these senators, they represent constituencies that like Barack Obama. He's up to 69 percent nationally and that includes the states that voted against him. So, I think they are turning on the heat now. And I think, again, that the Republicans have paid so little a price so far that they've had to figure out some way to bring different kinds of pressure on these Republicans.

OLBERMANN: Is feeding Rush Limbaugh's paranoia and his delusions of grandeur, is that ever a good idea, ultimately, however?

DIONNE: Sure, it's a good idea. You know, you can say that this gives Rush Limbaugh more attention. Well, guess what? Limbaugh gets a lot of attention. He's a very important figure on the right wing.

A president wins not only by winning votes from his own party but also by changing the other party. Ronald Reagan changed the balance of power in the Democratic Party in 1981 in his direction. And so, I think by saying this is an extremist voice or an extreme voice, do you want this whole party to be like that? Do you want your party to be like that? I think, you know, it takes him seriously.

The other thing is, he's been used to mobilize conservatives on behalf of Republicans for a long time. But middle-of-the-road voters hadn't paid attention to him because they don't listen. This says - wait a minute, you middle-of-the-road folks, pay attention to who is supporting the conservative wing of the Republican Party.

OLBERMANN: We mentioned Senator Gregg. There are these intriguing reports that he is being considered for commerce secretary in the Obama administration and the Republicans don't want him to take it for several reasons, not the least of which would be there is a Democratic governor in the state who would appoint his replacement. Is that going to end up making the battle of the stimulus package look like a quick dance in the spring rain or is there some deal going to be cut in which the Democrat governor will appoint a Republican replacement?

DIONNE: You know, this is the ultimate and a "crazy like a fox" move, because on the one hand, Obama will get credit from some for being bipartisan. He's naming another Republican to his cabinet. Meanwhile, he's pushing the Democrats, well, potentially, assuming Al Franken wins, up to 60 votes. It's the ultimate win/win for Barack Obama.

I kind of think that Senator Gregg is a person of the Senate. He is under a lot of pressure from Republicans not to take this job. But it's a very clever thing to float out there.

OLBERMANN: E.J. Dionne of the "Washington Post" and the Brookings Institution - as always, great thanks. Have a great weekend.

DIONNE: And you have fun down there, Keith. Thank you.

OLBERMANN: I'm doing what I can.

Everybody works for Rushbaugh. As the Republican National Committee teeters towards either civil war or suicide, the current chairman quits his bid for re-election and Limbaugh decides he will decide who will lead the conservatives - Sarah Palin. If Limbaugh can give the Democrats the eternal gift that would be Sarah Palin as the head of the conservative movement, I will pay his expenses.

And Glenn Beck continues to pay his own way, blasting Obama for including something in the stimulus, something Beck actually admits he doesn't understand - something that it turns out to be a program Beck supported.


OLBERMANN: First, this afternoon, the incumbent chairman dropped out of the race to again lead the Republican National Committee, and then the buffoon who ran on the "I survived an interview with Keith Olbermann" platform, he dropped out, too. So, who will lead the Republican Party? Yes, Mrs. Palin, put your hand down, we see you.

Later: Dan Patrick on the Super Bowl. And Glenn Beck leaves a refrain from an old Steve Martin song, criticize things you don't know about, only it turns what he doesn't know about he recently supported.

The race for Worst Persons of the World - later tonight on



OLBERMANN: Michael Steele, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, today became the first African-American to lead the Republican National Committee.

But in our fourth story on the Countdown: This required six tortured rounds of voting by 168 Republican committee members to get him there. And outside of that core group, the maneuvering to provide new leadership for that party continues more fiercely than before.

Mr. Steele emerged the victor today by a vote of 99 to 77 as the new chairman of the RNC. He is considered by his brethren to be a moderate, at least compared to the second runner up, South Carolina RNC Chair, Katon Dawson. The other leading conservative candidate, the incumbent Mike Duncan, a leftover from the Bush era, dropped out after the third round of voting. Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell quit as well - proving that you can't win by campaigning on a platform of "I survived an Olbermann interview."

The real future of the party has already been divined by comedian Rush Limbaugh.


LIMBAUGH: I am a guy on the radio and I am not, by any means, an official leader of the Republican Party. I'm a conservative. The official leaders of the Republican Party are fighting over who their ultimate leader is going to be - hint, hint, it's Sarah Palin. And right now, Obama wants to talk with the guys he thinks he can roll.


OLBERMANN: Which brings us to Palin versus Obama - not quite. But the Alaska governor plans to attend the annual Alfalfa Dinner on Saturday, tomorrow, along with the president and other politicians, quoting her, "How often will I have an opportunity to have dinner with the president."

The Alfalfa Club with about 200 members exists for the sole purpose of throwing a dinner party once a year close to the media. It did not induct women until 1953 and did not welcome African-Americans until the '70s. But each year, jokingly, nominates a mock candidate for president. Past nominees went on to become actual candidates. The actual presidents like Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

So, perhaps, Governor Palin sees herself in that company. It is not yet clear whether she will be one of the speakers. But President Obama will address the black tie crowd.

Let's bring in "Washington Post" associate editor and columnist, and MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson.

Good evening, Gene.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith. This is an honor. I've never been on a pre-game show before. Is that correct?


OLBERMANN: It's really not until Sunday.

ROBINSON: Yes, I think there's a lot of blitzing, there's going to be blitzing on Sunday.

OLBERMANN: Well, thanks, Gene Robinson and have a good weekend -


OLBERMANN: Michael Steele is a moderate? The man who stood in front of a Jewish group in Baltimore, I think it was, and suggested that stem cell research was comparable to Nazi experimentation at the death camps and it was like how American slaves were treated?

ROBINSON: Well, Michael Steele's political views tend to be somewhat fungible. I mean, recall that this is a man who, in 2006, ran a Senate campaign in Maryland without mentioning the word "Republican" more than once or twice during the whole campaign. He had these gorgeous TV ads in which he came out and said something completely different as he said today on winning the chairmanship, without mentioning that he was a Republican in a Democratic state.

So, I don't think you can quite judge. Don't look for consistency at least in terms of ideology for Michael Steele. I suspect he's a fairly moderate guy.

OLBERMANN: Well, but then, is he a perfect match then if, in fact, Sarah Palin is the, you know, early line front-runner for 2012 for the Republican nomination? I mean, is this - is he the malleable guy she can manipulate or is she the one who he can manipulate? Or how is it going to work?

ROBINSON: We don't know a lot about whether he is malleable or not. One thing we know is there is no kind of perfect match in the Republican Party right now. This is a party that doesn't know what it is at the moment, doesn't know where it's going at the moment and has made a situational decision.

I mean, he was running against Ken Blackwell and the guy who sent out the "Barack the magic negro" tape and the other guy who belongs to the whites-only club in South Carolina. You know, so - why not take the leap. But the party hasn't really defined itself for the next four years and Sarah Palin is part of the mix. But we'll see.

OLBERMANN: Wow, what a group. The minority leader of the Senate, Mr. McConnell spoke to this RNC membership this week at this convention and said basically - nothing wrong with the message. That wasn't what happened in 2008, in the presidential election or in the Senate or in the House. Rather, it was, quote, "our sales job."

Is - first off, does he believe that and what chance does his party have of succeeding even if economic things don't improve at all in the next few years if it has convinced itself that only the sales pitch is out of tune with the rest of the country?

ROBINSON: Just imagine the high-fives and fist-bumps in Democratic Senate offices and House offices all over Washington and all around the country when they hear something like that. This election was a clear turning point, in my view. I mean, every once in a while, we move into a new era and the political spectrum shifts. It did when Ronald Reagan was elected. It shifted to the right.

And Barack Obama's election, I think, signals a general dissatisfaction with the way things have been going at the tail end of that Reagan revolution. And things have moved back to the left. And I think the smart Republicans realize that the wind is blowing in a different direction.

I can't imagine that Mitch McConnell really believes that. If he does, it's going to be a good couple of years for Democrats.

OLBERMANN: And how do all these results and strands jibe with the, you know, leadership - we are talking about leadership of the Republican Party, leadership of either party, that's a brand name, that's like a leadership trademark. How does it mix with the idea of how the Republicans have led or tried to lead in the last couple of weeks, you know, mixed messages on all the votes, particularly in terms of the stimulus package followed by entirely partisan votes so far, at least?

ROBINSON: Again, it goes back to the, you know, the old Will Rogers line, "I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat."

That line is appropriate for the Republicans right now. It's not a coherent party. They've got to figure out their stories for the next few years: Who they are, what they want to tell Americans, and - that's going to resonate. They haven't figured that out yet. And so, you see them going in a number of different directions at once.

OLBERMANN: Never met a Gene Robinson interview I didn't like.

Eugene Robinson of the "Washington Post" and MSNBC - have a good weekend, Gene.

ROBINSON: You, too, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Word tonight of a possible complication in the confirmation of former Senator Tom Daschle as the president's health and human services secretary. NBC News is reporting that after leaving the Senate in 2004, the former majority leader received the use of a car and a driver from a wealthy Democratic friend and did not declare the services on his income taxes as tax laws require.

NBC News confirming tonight that on Monday night, the Senate Finance Committee will be meeting to discuss issues that have risen with the vetting of Mr. Daschle's nomination. The White House is now confirming tonight that Daschle did, in fact, fail to pay taxes on his car and driver. He has since repaid those taxes with interest.

Gone but not forgotten or even forgiven. Rod Blagojevich goes from governor of Illinois to punching bag of late night comedy.

And Super Bowl XLIII: Dan Patrick joins me for the preview - since we are part of the "Super Bowl 21," the 21 broadcasters who will bring you the game on Sunday on NBC.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Still Bushed in a moment. Also worsts just ahead. Glenn Beck blasts the costs of the Carbon Capture Demonstration project they put in the in the stimulus plan. Then admits, I don't even know what the hell that is. It turns out it is something he vehemently supported last June.

Back when Rod Blagojevich was simply the unpronounceable governor of Illinois, and not as familiar to TV audiences as Paul Shafer or Kevin Eubanks. Talk about familiar to TV audiences, Dan Patrick joins me to preview this little game we have Sunday, to say nothing of the 94-hour pregame show we're doing.

These stories ahead, but first, because they may be gone, but their deeds out-live them, the headlines lingering from the previous administration's 50 running scandals, Still Bushed.

Number three, blame the intel-gate. Mr. Bush likes to tell us, gee, it's too bad the intelligence on Iraq was so off base. What did he do about the people he put in place to push crap intel like the Saddam/al Qaeda connection, people like Laurie Malroy (ph), who wrote an op-ed on September 13th, 2001 called "The Iraqi Connection?" It turns out, she was still doing analysis for the Bush Pentagon in 2007. Talking Points Memo uncovering that an influential Pentagon think tank was still using Malroy years after she was discredited to assess future trends, risks and, quote, opportunities. Opportunities for more phony wars, I presume.

Number two, torture-gate. Attorneys for accused dirty bomber Jose Padilla told a federal court yesterday that the evidence they have is that he was tortured, on top of that, that Bush officials knew about it, specifically then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz. Set aside the obscenity that we already know Rumsfeld authorized torture. And Padilla still represents a chilling new level of outrage by the Bush administration.

Why? Because Jose Padilla was and is a citizen of the United States of America. PS, they dropped the dirty bomb charges. And, of course, they knew about the torture. They authorized it.

Number one, certitude-gate. Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney like to say how often they think of the troops and families who sacrificed so much to invade Iraq. What they do not say ever is that they admit to or inquire about the possibility of any sliver of doubt in the rightness and righteousness of their decision to ask that sacrifice of so many. The president suggests no one can fully understand that position, because no one else has been in that position, his position. Except that Tony Blair has. In the "London Times" tomorrow, the former prime minister is asked specifically whether he ever suffered from doubt over Iraq. Quote, "of course you ask that question the whole time. You would be weird if you didn't ask that question."

Weird. And so much worse, you would be wrong.


OLBERMANN: He quoted Kipling and Tennyson and random cowboy movies. He drew personal comparisons to Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. He used Pearl Harbor and Mother Teresa as metaphors. And he still faces possible criminal charges for trying to sell Obama's bleeping golden U.S. Senate seat. Our third story on the Countdown, citizen Blagojevich, gone from the governorship of Illinois, but certainly not forgotten.

Just 18 hours after his classic post-conviction impromptu news conference outside his home, complete with protestations of innocence, solicitations of the media, and shout-outs of "si, se puede." His successor, former lieutenant governor, now real Governor Pat Quinn, held a real news conference in Springfield, Illinois at the capital, announcing an end to Blagojevichian politics, without actually mentioning Blagojevich.


GOV. PAT QUINN (D), ILLINOIS: We had a body blow to our politics and government in the last seven weeks and two days. But that's over. Today is a beginning, a start. That's what we are going to do. We're going to start to fumigate state government from top to bottom to make sure that it has no corruption.


OLBERMANN: To that end, the new governor signed his first law today, officially putting the Illinois Reform Commission under the governor's office. While it seems clear that Illinois is glad to be Blagojevich-free since yesterday, he will be missed, especially by those who make their living in late-night television.


DAVID LETTERMAN, "THE LATE SHOW": Have you seen this guy? Have you taken a good look at this Rod Blagojevich. He looks like the producer of an adult entertainment awards show. He looks like the guy that tells you you need new brake pads. You know? Looks like a guy who claims to know Jon Lovitz.

JON STEWART, "THE DAILY": Blagojevich, seen here in Lego form, chose to forgo his impeachment trial to appear on every daytime show that doesn't involve Rachel Ray making something out of left over hot dogs.

JOY BEHAR, "THE VIEW": He does a fabulous Nixon impression. Do it for us.

BLAGOJEVICH: Who said that?

BEHAR: Somebody told me. Come on. Just say "I am not a crook." Do it.

BLAGOJEVICH: No. I'm not going to say that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open the window, governor.

CONAN O'BRIEN, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": Yesterday, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was interviewed by Geraldo Rivera. They billed it as an interview with the most hated man in America and Rod Blagojevich.

LETTERMAN: He looks like your wife's ex-husband. He looks like an insurance salesman that keeps calling you Captain.

BLAGOJEVICH: We can conceivably bring in 15 angels and 20 saints led

by Mother Teresa to come in and testify -

STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": I believe we have footage of the governor showing up to his impeachment trial. Jimmy? There he i walking from his car with his attorney. Just look how vicious the press is to this poor man.

BLAGOJEVICH: How can you throw a governor out of office when the rules don't even require that you prove up elements of criminal allegations? And more than that, how can you throw a governor out of office who is -

JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: He is fine. He landed on his hair. He is going to be fine.

JAY LENO, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Not only was he convicted, his hair dresser was given the death penalty.

O'BRIEN: On the bright side for Blagojevich, he has been offered a job as the before picture at Super Cuts.

LETTERMAN: It is one headache after another for this Blagojevich. It turns out next month his hair goes digital.

BLAGOJEVICH: Then I thought about Mandela, Dr. King, Gandhi and tried to put some perspective in all this.


OLBERMANN: What a wonderful thing propaganda is. You have to prove or back up nothing you say. Ask Steve Doocy of Fixed News, meat puppet in tonight's worst persons.

Then Dan Patrick fights his way past adoring throngs here to join me so we can begin the NFL on NBC Super Bowl pregame show.

When Rachel Maddow joins you at the top of the hour, her special guest, Daryl Vandevelde (ph), a former Gitmo prosecutor, who quit his job there in protest while he was prosecuting a prisoner who was 14 years old.


OLBERMANN: Super Bowl 43; Dan Patrick joins me to preview it. Plus, we'll preview our five hour pregame show on NBC Sunday afternoon, if we can remember all of the details about it. That's next, but first time for Countdown's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.

The bronze to the resident rocket scientist of Fixed News, Steve Doocy. Doesn't like the stimulus package because of something that isn't actually in it. "I was looking into the stimulus that they passed yesterday. They're spending 4.19 billion for neighborhood stabilization activities. Acorn, four billion for Acorn. They're getting four billion for Acorn, but we're going to get rid of one of my days of postal delivery?"

Boy I wish I had Steve Doocy's job. Neighborhood stabilization activities are efforts to keep ares in tact after wide spread mortgage default. It has nothing to do with the voter registration group Acorn. If you're Steve Doocy, you just say the two things are the same. You don't even have to pretend to try to connect them. You're looking into the stimulus. You're reading the talking point, propaganda for dummies, for your boss John Moodie (ph).

From the next level of hell, our runner up is Glenn Beck. Last June, he excoriated Democrats for refusing to pass clean coal legislation. Yesterday, he excoriated Obama for including in the stimulus another 2.4 billion for carbon capture demonstration projects. "I don't even know what the hell that is," he said. It is clean coal legislation, genius, the same stuff you demanded the Democrats pass last year. How about this, why don't you go away until you figure out that you need to know what the hell that is before you open up your bazzoo (ph) and complain about something you were supporting seven months ago.

But our winner, Rex Tillerson, the CEO and chairman of Exxon/Mobile, which today announced its profits for 2008, 45.2 billion dollars. That breaks the world record for a corporation, which was set the year before by Exxon/Mobile. Now, you think with that world economy of ours in a mess and this, its home base nation, year after year, getting more and more tailored to the needs of the mega-corporation, it might have behooved Mr. Tillerson's company to say, hey, we live here too. We're going to kick in a little something to the bailout or stimulus, 500 million, a billion maybe? Well, they would really be putting seed money out, because if people don't have jobs next year, Exxon won't make 45 billion next year. It would look like, I don't know, what is the word, humanity, or that other word, patriotism.

Not a consideration for Rex Tillerson, CEO for Exxon "unconscionable profits" Mobile, today's worst person in the world!


OLBERMANN: Just one short Super Bowl ago, former President Clinton was taking in the game with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, presumably trying to schmooze the governor into endorsing Senator Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for president. Then the Giants upset the Patriots, Richardson endorsed Obama, and Obama upset Clinton. A scant year later, Dan Patrick and I are here in Tampa for the big game. He is, in fact, right over there. President 44 is using the occasion of Super Bowl 43 to try to woo Republicans over to his way of thinking about economic stimulus.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What else can you tell us about this Super Bowl get together?

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I mean, it's a fairly straight forward deal. You'll see Democrats and Republicans. You'll undoubtedly see Steelers fans and Cardinal fans, once again, bringing people together.


OLBERMANN: Let's take this chance to clear this up, by the way. Mr. Gibbs, on the left, is not in fact also John Clayton, ESPN's football reporter, nor were they ever separated at birth. We wanted to clear that up.

As promised, joining me here from the NBC Sports headquarters at the NFL Experience in Tampa, where it is 41 below zero, one of the other 20 co-hosts of our pregame show, Dan Patrick. Shake my hand just so I can warm up. Thank you. Do you think weather will be a factor?

DAN PATRICK, NBC SPORTS: No, only for your show, Keith.

OLBERMANN: It is cold, cold. It is humid and damp and cold.

PATRICK: But if you are Pittsburgh, this is nice.


PATRICK: Arizona, it's cold. Tampa, it's cold. Pittsburgh, it is not.

OLBERMANN: Is the game really in doubt, do we think, or are we just hyping it by giving Arizona a chance? Do we not know the outcome of this one, unlike most Super Bowls?

PATRICK: I think we are rooting - we root for a great story. I think we root for a great story with Kurt Warner. I think sometimes you can get in trouble by doing that, because you don't look at what is in front of you. I think we rooted for the Patriots because it was a great story last year. I said to Michael Strahan of the Giants, if you didn't face them in the final regular season game, would you have beaten them in the Super Bowl? He said no. It's because there were no surprises there.

Arizona/Pittsburgh have already played. I think Pittsburgh has gotten better. So has Arizona. But I still think Pittsburgh has been the best AFC team I saw all year long.

OLBERMANN: Cris Collinsworth said, in one of our 84 meetings in preparation for this extravaganza on Sunday, which our part of it starts at 1:00 - I might add that again - he said, he likes to use that horse racing idea, only look at the last three races. If you look at the last three races for Arizona, the last three games, they have been spectacular, especially defensively. Is that the real team? Or could that be an aberration and Sunday night be a huge blowout?

PATRICK: You know what, Keith, if you go back a couple of years, the Colts were an offensive juggernaut. Why did they win the Super Bowl? Their defense dominated in the playoffs, and then they beat the Bears. I don't know if you have seen this epiphany with this Cardinal defense. They couldn't have been any worse. They had to get better. I think what we saw with Carolina was a truly remarkable turn around there.

I don't think you can look at them and say they are just an offensive-minded team. The defense has helped them win games.

OLBERMANN: That looked like mind reading on Jake Delhomme. Is there is a chance they can do that to Roethlisberger?

PATRICK: No, because after talking to him two days ago, he is so confident. I think you get that confidence when you see something in film study, and that is where I came away saying, he knows something.

OLBERMANN: So it is the other way around?

PATRICK: Yes. I really thought so.

OLBERMANN: You have the Big Ben piece in the pregame show.

PATRICK: He talks about how serious that injury was, where he - You look at these guys as infallible. He was on the field and he couldn't feel his fingers. And the first thing he is thinking of is, please tell my mom I'm OK. He was crying. They pricked his finger, he couldn't feel it. He said - the presence of mind to say, please tell my mom I'm OK. He is a tough guy, but he says he won't change his style. He is an old 26.

OLBERMANN: And the idea, this announcement from him that he was nervous in that previous Super Bowl game, that admission of this - was that actually a brave act to have admitted you were nervous?

PATRICK: He said that his legs were rubbery the entire game. Guys kept coming up to him and saying, hey, relax. He never relaxed whatsoever. He said that is why he brought a video camera to media day, because, he said, I wanted to have fun. So I think psychologically, he is saying, have fun, have fun, have fun, have fun.

OLBERMANN: How does Pittsburgh, speaking of trying to take away the fun of Arizona, the one obvious fluid super weapon the Cardinals have, Larry Fitzgerald - do they have to hit him as he leaves the line? Do they have to trip him up somehow? What do they do?

PATRICK: Rodney Harrison, who is one of the 42 people on our pregame show on NBC, he said, what you must do is - Deon Sanders echoed this - you put pressure on Kurt Warner, you don't have to worry about Larry Fitzgerald. I think that is where the game is won and lost. You take your chances. The Cardinals begged the Eagles to blitz them. I think that Pittsburgh defense is different. Their defense is better than the Eagles. If they put pressure on Warner, then Larry Fitzgerald, it doesn't matter if he's open or not.

OLBERMANN: What is Pittsburgh secretly afraid of or worried about that they haven't told us?

PATRICK: I think they have to worry about Steve Breaston and Anquan Boldin. Everybody says worry about Larry Fitzgerald. I don't think the running game scares them, but I think you have to at least be aware of it. I think the Arizona defense is better than what people think. I don't think Ben can go in saying, we can do whatever we want to do. I think you have to be fair to the Arizona defense or you get caught with your pants down.

OLBERMANN: The other way around. What is Arizona secretly afraid of in Pittsburgh that we don't know about or they won't say?

PATRICK: I think the front four and Polamalu have to keep Kurt up at night just thinking where they are. The pressure - here are two things to keep in mind: the running backs for the Cardinals, if they do not block well, this game will be over. It will be ugly. If they pick up the blitz, you give Kurt time, then all of a sudden, we have a ball game here.

OLBERMANN: You are doing the trophy presentation.

PATRICK: I am doing it. I've been practicing. I actually got room service and I loaded up the dishes just to see if I could -

OLBERMANN: Is that what that sound was?

PATRICK: Yes, it was. Are you next door to me?


PATRICK: Let me try it that way. We have come a long way since we did Sportscenter.

OLBERMANN: I even was flashing back to the CNN days, where we couldn't get a credential to go to a Yankees game. We have come a long way.

PATRICK: Could we get hired back at CNN. They wouldn't let you in the building, right?

OLBERMANN: Well, I went back, briefly, if you remember, in 2002 and then they threw me out again.

PATRICK: They asked me if I wanted Larry King's job to replace him when he was on vacation.





OLBERMANN: I did not know that.

PATRICK: I mentioned it on the radio. The next thing I know, they never called me back.

OLBERMANN: No, you never - they - we know all those guys since they were kids. You never let a secret out. I have one last thing here. Excluding you and me, can you name the other 19 analysts on our pre-game show. Go ahead, just rattle them off. I'm giving you and me. So you've got 19 to go.

PATRICK: Oh, wow, Tony Dungy, Mike Holmgren, Cris Collinsworth, Bob Costas, Rodney Harrison, Jerome Bettis.

OLBERMANN: Jerome, yes.

PATRICK: How many more do I have?


PATRICK: Al Roker.

OLBERMANN: Al Roker. Tiki barber.

PATRICK: Jim Cantore. Tiki Barber. Andrea Kremer. Alex Flanagan.

OLBERMANN: Good, good, good.

PATRICK: Matt Lauer.

OLBERMANN: Matt Lauer. Michael. Al Michaels.

PATRICK: Al Michaels calling the game. John Madden. Anybody else?

OLBERMANN: Your friend from Detroit.

PATRICK: I mentioned the bus.

OLBERMANN: No, no, the other - you missed Tom Collichio, Matt Millen, Peter King, Bob Newmyer, and Maria Barteromo. And the bonus round was President Obama, number 22.

PATRICK: Is he part of our team?

OLBERMANN: I think so. I think he is doing highlights. Here's the deal on Sunday: at noon, "The Road to the Super Bowl" on NBC. At 1:00 p.m. Eastern, Dan, me, Chris, Tiki, Matt, Bus Rodney, Mike and Sparky the Wonder OX host a quick preview of the game. In five hours, the game itself begins with coverage from Al Michaels and John Madden. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:28.

Dan and I will join you again in the post game show, which runs until Tuesday or Thursday -

PATRICK: It is sort of a telethon.

OLBERMANN: It is some sort of marathon. Now, we are going to do something for old times sake. You ready for this. That's Countdown for this the 2,092nd day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. For Dan Patrick, I'm Keith Olbermann.

PATRICK: Can I do good night and good luck. I'm sorry. I didn't go as scripted. Our MSNBC coverage continues now with the lovely and talented "RACHEL MADDOW SHOW." Hi, Rachel.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for January 29, 2009
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons
The toss: TV personality

Guest: Jonathan Alter, Chris Hayes, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Mike Tomlin

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

Bonus coverage: In the year of the bailout, $18.4 billion in bonuses handed out on Wall Street - and you paid for it.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: That is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful.


OLBERMANN: Great, Mr. President, so what are you going to do about it?

The GOP crows over pulling out the bipartisan rug on the stimulus, the GOP, the "Grand Obstructionist Party."


SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, (R) ALABAMA: We need to resist this package with every strength that we have.


OLBERMANN: Somebody else who won't stop squirming - Karl Rove. He says he will not even respond to the House subpoena to testify on Monday.


KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH AIDE: I don't know if I will call it a witch hunt. I don't think of myself as a witch.


OLBERMANN: Do you think of yourself as being in contempt of Congress?

On the eve of expulsion, the governor delivers to the Illinois Senate

a monologue.



Applied on a Monday, got my letter of rejection back on a Tuesday.


OLBERMANN: Hair today, gone tomorrow. Blagojevich has been convicted.

Worsts: The Republican congressman who dared to criticize comedian Rush Limbaugh and has meekly apologized to the guy on the radio who apparently runs an entire political party.

And, his last interview before the Super Bowl. Our exclusive visit with Mike Tomlin of the Steelers, the youngest coach in Super Bowl history.


OLBERMANN: So there has never been a thought in your mind that 36 was probably earlier than you would have expected to be in the situation you are in this week?

MIKE TOMLIN, STEELERS COACH: Well, you know, I maybe thought it was late, you know.



OLBERMANN: All that and more - now on Countdown.




OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening, from Tampa.

In the past, these men were called "robber barons," the ones who dreamt of cornering the gold market or monopolizing silver or even paying forth 50 million in bonuses to 450 people who caused their own company to collapse - that last example coming from the ancient history that was yesterday.

But in our fifth story tonight: Financial treason so injurious to the nation that it makes a beggar out of language and it makes an angry president out of a heretofore almost imperturbable new chief. $18 billion in bonuses for Wall Street last year, the year you and I gave Wall Street billions more in bailouts. Front page story in today's "New York Times" is drawing the attention on the ire of the new president, the sum total of bonuses handed out on Wall Street last month, last year, rather, equaling $18,400,000 - the sixth largest take ever.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs pointing out this afternoon that it's not as if Wall Street had its sixth best year ever, and the president demanding restraint and responsibility.


OBAMA: At a time when most of these institutions were teetering on collapse and they are asking for taxpayers to help sustain them, and when taxpayers find themselves in the difficult position that if they don't provide help, that the entire system could come down on top of our heads - that is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful.

We're going to be having conversations as this process moves forward directly with these folks on Wall Street to underscore that they have to start acting in a more responsible fashion if we are to, together, get this economy rolling again. There will be time for them to make profits and there will be time for them to get bonuses - now is not that time.


OLBERMANN: And that $50 million jet plane that Citigroup accepted and then returned to sender earlier this week, P Obama has not forgotten about that either.


OBAMA: Secretary Geithner already had to pull back one institution that had gone forward with a multimillion dollar jet plane purchase at the same time as they are receiving TARP money. We shouldn't have to do that because they should know better.


OLBERMANN: Vice President Biden promising consequences, if not the kind he'd really like to impose, in an interview today with CNBC's John Harwood.


VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I promise you, there ain't going to be any $40 million jets being bought. There is not going to be expenditures of bonuses go - I mean, it's been outrageous. I mean, it just offends .

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: Bad for rehabilitation.

BIDEN: Yes. I mean, it just offends the sensibilities, I mean, I'd like to throw these guys in the brig.


OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, there still a stimulus package to pass, this time in the Senate. President Obama is expressing more confidence and far less anger about that.


OBAMA: I am confident that with the recovery package moving through the House and through the Senate, that we are going to be able to set up a regulatory framework that rights the ship and that gets us moving again. And I know the American people are eager to get moving again. They want to work.


OLBERMANN: The Republicans choke full of enough post-vote anger and delusion for both parties, plus the Whigs and the federalists, well, we add (ph), blaming the president, the Democratic leadership, two labor unions and the progressive groups and Americans United for Change for the failure of legislation that they, the Republicans, voted against.

In a memo, House Minority Leader John Boehner thanking Republican members for their no votes, claiming that by opposing the measure, the GOP, quote, "made good on our pledge that the Republicans will not simply be the party of opposition, but the party of better solutions."

Well, certainly, that makes sense. Also, that by displaying such a partisan behavior, quote, "The vote last night sent a clear, powerful and bipartisan message."

In the Senate, where the lawmakers will take up the legislation next, Republicans there are already simpering and whining.


SEN. JON KYL, REPUBLICAN WHIP: We have ideas that will really create jobs and help people and help get the economy moving again. We've been rejected in our attempts to get those considered. And if there is not a change in attitude as this legislation moves forward, unfortunately, it is the American people that are going to suffer from the Democrats' partisanship on this important issue.


OLBERMANN: Well, he's lying about that. But moving on - before they've even met with President Obama or anyone else, apparently determined to vote against the stimulus plan.


SESSIONS: There is very little likelihood that we will have a substantial change. And so, we need to resist this package with every strength that we have. Indeed, the financial soul of this country may be at stake.


OLBERMANN: For more on the president's happy day, time now to call in our own Jonathan Alter, senior editor at "Newsweek" magazine.

Good evening, Jon.


OLBERMANN: Well, the president's umbrage is very deserved, very commendable, very dramatic. But what practically can he do about those bonuses or the next bonuses?

ALTER: He can take them back. I mean, the tongue-lashing was wonderful and gratifying and everything, but when he talked about going and having meetings with them, seem like he was interested in sort of convincing them to voluntarily do better next year at bonus time or not do stupid things like buy expensive private aircraft. What they need are what are clawback provisions, disgorgement provisions.

$18 billion is a lot of money, Keith. That's twice as much money as there is in the stimulus package for mass transit. So, we need that $18 billion. It can go toward more infrastructure - that's what the Republicans seem to want and we need to get it back from those who got these bonuses.

Would that leave them only with their base pay and no bonus? Would that make it harder for some of them to make their payments on their homes in the Hamptons? Perhaps, they might have to dig into some savings like other Americans, dig into bonuses from prior years in order to meet the expenses of their lavish lifestyles.

But those bonuses can't stand. It will be very interesting to see who in Congress will come forward with a very simple piece of disgorgement legislation that will simply say, if you accept money from the federal government for your institution there will be no 2008 bonuses - very simple.

OLBERMANN: And in the future, Wall Street, obviously, they're going to be more taxpayer bailout money still headed for Wall Street - did these bonuses just make it more difficult for the Obama administration to parcel them out and did it make easier for the Republicans to sort of proceed with this imaginary ammunition against future bailouts of anything except Republicans?

ALTER: Well, it obviously is going to make it a harder sell with the American public to, you know, continue to unclog the arteries of commerce. You know, there is a strong argument to be made that this money into these Wall Street firms was necessary to get our economy going, to stabilize our financial system. But that $18 billion needs to get returned to the treasury pronto or continuing to stabilize these financial institutions, I think, will be difficult politically.

OLBERMANN: Yes. Perhaps he should - the Congress should say, "If you do it now we won't charge you interest."


OLBERMANN: The president's anger, everybody who has ever seen him at almost any stage in this campaign and now into the presidency has said, the columnists, the coolest guy in the room - was this calculated today? Was it useful to see it? What was that actual outburst?

ALTER: Well, he is somebody who, contrary to people's assessment of him, does occasionally lose his temper. I think this did offend his conscience. But there was something calculated in it as well. The question is, will he follow it up?

You know, Franklin Roosevelt talked about chasing the money changers from the temple and then, you know, a couple of days later, he had the money changers into his office and decided not to nationalize the banks. So, sometimes, politicians like to do this tongue-lashing as a substitute for actually imposing, you know, real change. So I think part of this is going to be whether the administration and the Congress will follow up. And I hope that there is a public campaign that gets going to get this $18 billion back.

OLBERMANN: What happens if there isn't or if the companies will not cooperate? Are we seeing the prospect of government versus corporations for the first time, perhaps, in this nation's history?

ALTER: Well, you know, there's been a tension throughout American history. You had some presidents like Teddy Roosevelt, you know, a great trust-buster, talked ability what he called "the malefactors of great wealth." So, there was a history that went through Franklin Roosevelt and even in the 1960s of Democratic presidents, in particular, taking on Wall Street. So, we'll see how far Barack Obama is willing to go down this road.

OLBERMANN: Don't get me wrong, I love Teddy, but he did negotiate with those trust while saying he was trying to bust them.


OLBERMANN: Something to talk about when we have more time.

Jon Alter of MSNBC and "Newsweek" - as always, great thanks, Jon.

ALTER: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: For a Republican Party that has already, in essence, confessed they can only succeed if the country fails, this is Christmas in January.

Let's turn now to Chris Hayes, Washington editor of "The Nation" magazine.

Good evening, Chris.


OLBERMANN: So, after giving every excuse for not wanting to vote for the stimulus plan, House Republicans are now blaming everybody but themselves for the failure of the bill. In some ways, is this as predictable as it is nonsensical?

HAYES: It's totally predictable. I mean, I kind of wish I'd have entered a betting pool in how many House Republicans votes there'd been and we can go because .


HAYES: . you can just see the writing the wall. I mean, this was obviously never going to go anywhere. And part of that is just structural. I mean, after 2006 and 2008, the people that are left in the House Republican caucus are representing really, really conservative red districts. I mean, these are not people that have to worry that much about their re-election prospects if they do anything but resist President Barack Hussein Obama.

So, I just don't think that there's a lot of political leverage right there with the House Republican caucus. It's essentially a rump caucus of right wing zealots at this point. And I know that sounds strong but it's not really too far from the truth.

OLBERMANN: But what about the Senate? I mean, the vice president in conversation with John Harwood today indicating that there might be concessions and exchanges with the senators in the Republican Party. Why? Why after this performance from them in Congress - why not tell them to, you know, leave the country if they feel like it?


HAYES: Well, look - there are a few reasons. I mean, first of all, if the Republicans choose to obstruct by a filibuster, the Democrats don't have the votes to win on a straight party line, they're going to need to get one, possibly two votes depending on who gets seated. So, there has to be a little bit of give-and-take.

But I think, the important point to stick to here is that bipartisanship is a means to an end. It's not an end in and of itself. So, if you can use bipartisan dialogue and back-and-forths to get to a good bill, and that's fine; and if Republicans have actually legitimately good ideas, that's fine. The reason that it doesn't seem likely is because going to conservatives to have them give you ideas about stimulus is like asking Quakers to draw up your battle plans. I mean, they are just not, in any way, ideologically predisposed to be productive partners in this discussion.

OLBERMANN: Was Senator Sessions being, at least, the most honest of all of them today with that declaration, you know, don't even bother to pretend to negotiate with the Democrats, just declare now you are going to vote against it?

HAYES: Yes. He was being honest. And you know what? I actually have respect for the members of the House that represent districts in which the stimulus is not very popular, large government spending is not very popular, and they themselves don't believe in it.

So, you know, sure, vote against it. But the fact of the matter is, that's a minority of the country at this point. And this is the way that democracy works in the end, is that the majority ultimately is going to set the agenda.

Now, that doesn't mean they need to be shut out, it doesn't mean you need to sort of impugn the patriotism of your opponents or browbeat them, but it does mean, at the end of the day, the policy that's going to be passed is going to be a Democratic policy and Democrats are going to succeed or fail politically on how effective it is.

OLBERMANN: But, to that point of needing some bipartisanship or at least the appearance of it, is there pressure building on the Democrats, Chris, to tell the Republicans, "Look, if you want to play this game where, you know, you talk about bipartisanship and then produce no votes, go ahead."


OLBERMANN: "Go produce your no votes and go on to the wilderness." I mean, neither cooperate or you can become the Whig Party of the 21st century?

HAYES: I think there is. I mean, look, we are going to get our jobs numbers for the last month, I think in a week. There are going to be awful, I mean, it's a blood bath out there. I think, at this point, I know a lot of people are losing their job. I think everyone knows that. And people are scared.

Second of all, I think that we saw the carrot approach in the House and I think we're going to see a little bit more of the stick approach in the Senate. And the reason for that is that there is about eight or nine Republican senators who are from states that Obama won and they are going to have to answer to their constituents in a way that a lot of the House Republicans didn't have to. So, I think, there is going to be a little more aggressive posture vis-a-vis the Senate Republicans.

OLBERMANN: Chris Hayes of "The Nation" magazine - as always, thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: And if you'd like to see perfect bipartisanship in action, how about a vote of 59-to-nothing, wonderful in its symmetry and followed by yet another vote of 59-to-nothing? Republicans and Democrats are putting rancor aside to throw Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois out of office. And wait until you hear what he said after they did it.

And when it comes time to vote on Karl Rove's citation for contempt of Congress that might not be unanimous, but after the way Rove described what he intends to do, you'd have to guess that if he could cast a ballot, it would be a "yes," because when it comes to Congress, he sure holds it in contempt.


OLBERMANN: It was Ambassador Joe Wilson's dream to see Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House. Would you settle for seeing him frog-marched into the House of Representatives? Rove announces his intention to put himself in contempt of Congress by, again, ignoring its subpoena. Jerrold Nadler of New York, member of the House Judiciary Committee joins us.

First, Rod Blagojevich, as of now, the ex-governor of Illinois. But, can anybody interrupt his monologue long enough to tell him? And then what he said from the steps of his home. That's next.

This is Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Breaking news: And now he belongs to the ages. Rod Blagojevich has been removed from office by unanimous vote of the Illinois State Senate and is no longer the governor of Illinois - our fourth story on the Countdown tonight. And Pat Quinn, the state's lieutenant governor just hours ago, is now the governor of Illinois.

Mr. Blagojevich having been impeached and then tried, and despite a closing argument before the state Senate is now former Governor Blagojevich expelled from office which he refused to resign. The vote in the state Senate to remove him passed 59 to nothing; only 2/3 of super majority of 40 votes was required and effective immediately. After the vote was officially recorded, Blagojevich was no longer governor.

A second vote to disqualify him from holding future office in the state of Illinois also passed, 59 to zero. No third vote was taken on whether or not to bar him from doing anymore TV interviews.

The governor's impeachment trial dealt with multiple accusations of wrongdoing, most notably, that Blagojevich tried to sell the Senate seat vacated by then-President-elect Barack Obama. It is the first time in 21 years that any governor in the U.S. has been removed from office; the last one was Governor Evan Mecham of Arizona in 1988.

After a flurry of interviews in which he talked to just about everybody but the Illinois State Senate, Mr. Blagojevich decided to make an appeal before that body, his closing argument, it lasted about 45 minutes. Far shorter but far more compelling and weird was what he had to say only minutes ago this evening, outside his home in Chicago - a news conference that was vintage Blagojevich and then some. Seriously, good golly, why didn't you sell tickets?


BLAGOJEVICH: Let me begin by saying that I'm obviously sad and disappointed but not at all surprised. I want to say to all of you, the people of Illinois, who I have been blessed to represent as governor for the last six years, and before that, as a congressman for six years, and before that, as a state legislator, and before that, as a prosecutor, that I love the people of Illinois today, now more than ever did before.


BLAGOJEVICH: Thank you. And the fight goes on.

Let me say one more thing to the people in the Latino community -


Get the kids. Reverend, how are you? Thank you, it's good to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you plan to get - do you plan to write a book?

BLAGOJEVICH: Get these kids out.


BLAGOJEVICH: We need their parents' permission. They are minors.

And let me ask you a question, so, if I, like to ask you guys to come and cover me if I want to say something, will you do it? Will you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to call?

BLAGOJEVICH: Or is this the last hurrah?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It defends on what you're going to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are all welcome to come over Super Bowl Sunday.

BLAGOJEVICH: Yes. Hey, how are you doing?


UNIDENTIFIED KID: Will you play hoops - will you play hoops with me in the summer?

BLAGOJEVICH: Oh, absolutely. There are tens of thousands of people across America just like me who are losing their jobs or lost their jobs. So, I'm not looking for any pity and I don't need anybody to sympathize or feel bad for me because I'd be just fine. Patti and I will rebuild our lives.

What I will say to the Serbian community the one I come from and am part of that, again, I haven't done anything wrong. I look forward to proving my innocence. When it comes to their kids and they think that maybe they can't have an equal chance in America because their names are long and hard to pronounce, all they got to do is look at me.

Doctor King had a statement that said that, in the end, you remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of your friends. Don't raise taxes.


OLBERMANN: And now in Swedish, advice for the governor if he goes to jail, as you'll see tonight, if you wind up chained to somebody else by the wrist, remember that you both have to run around the same side of the lamp post.

And in sports, we used to call this the old "El Foldo," a Georgia congressman tries to show Rush Limbaugh who is boss and winds up begging the owner of the Republican Party for his forgiveness. Worst Persons is ahead.

This is Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Still Bushed in a moment and John Yoo sadist.

First, on this date in 1901, Allen Balcom DuMont was born. He parlayed his invention perfecting the cathode ray for TV sets into one of the first TV networks which he modestly named after himself. Dumont went on the air in 1946 with channels 5 in New York and 11 in Washington, though at one point the network had Jackie Gleason on its air, in the mid-'50s, it became the first one and to date, the only broadcast one ever to flat out "go out of business."

On that note, let's play Oddball.

We begin in Tikrit, Iraq, hometown of Saddam Hussein and le shoe. Now, also home to a sofa sized statue of a shoe. Well, I'm stumped. A shoe in Iraq, why a shoe in Iraq? Well, the artist was inspired by this guy - and you remember this. An act already immortalized on the Internets and now in art. How is that for the judgment of history?

To Hastings, New Zealand, and an impressive display of damn criminality, two prisoners who managed to escape the courthouse but as they ran away handcuffed together, apparently, neither noticed the lamppost. Thanks to that stupidity, both of them can now recover from their whiplash back in the big house. Nice, they had that old-timey piano playing while they were escaping.

And Congress was hesitant to hold Karl Rove in contempt. He had certainly beaten them to the punch. Congressman Jerrold Nadler's response to Rove's remarkable extended middle-finger to the judiciary committee.

And for the last time before the Super Bowl, Coach Mike Tomlin sits down for one more interview. Why he hid the fact that he was a high school honor student and some questions about Steelers and Cardinals.

But first, because they may be gone but their deeds outlive them, the

headlines lingering from the previous administration's 50 running scandals

Still Bushed!

Number three: Body armor-gate. The secretary of the army, Pete Geren, has ordered the recall of between 16,000 and 20,000 sets of body armor, at least some of it in use in Iraq. They never tested it. The brass decided since the vendor they've bought it from had produced good work in the past, they did not have to test anything from the new shipment.

December 8th, 2004 was when that army then asked the Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to do something about the flaws of these armor and vehicle armor and we're still dealing with this crap.

Number two: speaking of which, Electrocution-gate. Just last week, a military investigator decided that the death by electrocution of an American solder in a shower wired by the Halliburton spin-off KBR, one of several such nightmares in Iraq, was negligent homicide. Guest who just got another $35 million contract from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers? KBR, to build at something called Camp Hatter in Iraq a power plant, an electrical distribution center and water distribution system. That combination, electricity, water and KBR, has worked so well in the past.

Number one, sadism-gate. That is the only explanation left, clinical sadism. John Yoo, the Justice Department flunky who wrote the Department's first rationalization that torture was legal, is the "Wall Street Journal" of torture today, insisting we must - we must - we must torture people. President Obama, Yoo hallucinates, quote, "may have opened the door to further terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Eliminating the Bush system will mean that we will get no more information from captured al Qaeda terrorists. Relying on the civilian justice system robs us of the most effective intelligence tool to avert future attacks."

That study after study has proven that torture produces unreliable information, that the Bush administration humiliated itself and its nation with its boasting of stopping plots that were laughable to anybody with an IQ over 35, that he and Mr. Bush did more harm to this nation internationally than any terrorist ever could seems to have escaped Mr. Yoo in what must literally be a lust to know that somewhere, somebody was fearing death at the hands of his own government.

But in his fevered delusions, at least he has given us this. He has given us a new name for torture. I think we should use it forever, water boarding, sleep deprivation, sexual degradation, threats, use of animals, as he called it, "the Bush system."


OLBERMANN: On Monday, the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives served a subpoena on Fox News analyst Karl Rove, the former White House advisor, a legal command for Rove to appear and testify about the Bush justice department, how it was politicized, how it went after a Democratic governor and even Republican prosecutors who refused to play ball.

Now, in our third story on the Countdown, Rove has announced he will defy the law. I mean, he will defy the law again. He did so, of course, in a venue that two weeks ago demanded unquestioning compliance with the US government. Rove explaining last night that not President Bush still outranks now president Obama apparently because Bush came first.


KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I've been directed again on January 16th by the outgoing president's legal counsel not to respond to a subpoena, exerting privilege on behalf of the former president.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: So you are not even going to show up?


O'REILLY: If you need a place to hide out, we have it here at "THE FACTOR." We have all kinds of tunnels and places we can put you.

ROVE: I don't need to hide. I don't need to hide.


OLBERMANN: Of course, there is no tunnel. It is technically the female producer's escape hatch. Rove actually forwarded the subpoena to the Obama White House, asking, so guys, what is the current executive branch position on those privileged claims that Mr. Bush asserted last year when he declined to enforce the Rove subpoena issued by the previous Congress.

We're now joined by Congressman Jerry Nadler, who sits on that Judiciary Committee. Congressman, thanks for your time.


OLBERMANN: You gave Mr. Rove a deadline of the 2nd of February to respond. He has now responded. What does your committee do about it now?

NADLER: Well, if he refuses to show up, we are going to have to vote

a contempt citation. When we vote the contempt citation, we will have to

bring it to the whole House. The House presumably will vote the same

contempt citation. The law then says that a contempt citation voted by the

House, or the Senate, for that matter, is given to the U.S. attorney, quote

this the law - "whose duty it shall be," unquote, to deliver it to the Grand Jury. In other words, he must prosecute and enforce the subpoena.

President Bush, as in so many other things, simply ignored the law and instructed the U.S. attorney not to obey the law and not to enforce the subpoena. I imagine President Obama will not do the same - will not do the same thing.

OLBERMANN: Do you have any communication from the current White House about that?

NADLER: No. It's premature.

OLBERMANN: OK. The mechanisms of all this are what? The FBI had him

would have him brought into the chamber to sit at a witness table?

NADLER: That is a different kind of contempt. That is inherent contempt. The normal contempt is you simply arrest him. The Grand Jury indicts him. You arrest him for contempt, and you put him in jail until he is prepared to testify, to obey the subpoena.

OLBERMANN: Is there any precedent, to your knowledge, for what he is claiming, that a no longer sitting president leaves a kind of vestigial privilege to people who may not have even been authorized to have that privilege when the president was still in office?

NADLER: I think that there is a certain privilege that does attache even to an ex-president. But there is no privilege here. Even if some communications - Executive privilege is a privilege to protect certain communications with the president, so the president can get honest advice. That's all it is. It is a common law privilege.

There is certainly no privilege to say that anyone around the president, including the president, certainly after he is president, can not simply refuse to show up. I mean, a proper exercise of the privilege would be to come to the committee and to object to a specific question and say, I can't answer that question on the grounds that it's privileged. Then you could litigate whether, in fact, that was a proper exercise of privilege. Simply to hold the committee and the Congress in contempt by saying you failed to show up, there is no basis for that in American history, except for Harriet Myers and Mr. Bolten in the last year of the Bush administration, who are just as contemptuous and are under contempt citations now.

OLBERMANN: Presumably, barring some totally unexpected action by the

Obama administration, this ends up with Rove appearing before your

committee or sitting in jail until he does so. If he does finally show up


NADLER: Well, it would end up with him going to court and then presumably being sentenced to jail until he agrees to appear before the committee.

OLBERMANN: But if and when he does appear, and if he denies doing anything illegal, and does not provably commit perjury, what happens then? What is the absolute end game here?

NADLER: Well, he has to answer all legitimate questions. He has to answer all relevant questions, unless he can assert a privilege. You can assert a privilege against self-incrimination based on the Fifth Amendment. You can executive privilege if you can show that answering that question would destroy the right of the president to get frank advice on something. But, I mean, most of these things there is no claim. In fact, there is denial that the president knew anything about it, which means, by definition, there is no executive privilege. You would have to answer those questions. If he didn't, he would be put in jail.

OLBERMANN: It has a lovely symmetry to it.

NADLER: Yes. It is exactly the same as, we all remember, when people went before the House Un-American Activities Committee, the McCarthy Committee. They refused to answer questions. The courts held in some cases that they didn't have the right to do that, and they were put in jail. Now, those committees were terrible and were abusing their rights, but there is clearly no ability to thumb your nose at Congress and say I'm not going to show up.

OLBERMANN: At least you have to cross that first threshold of coming through the door. Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York, great thanks for walking us through this. We appreciate it.

NADLER: It is a pleasure.

OLBERMANN: The youngest coach in Super Bowl history reveals several things we did not know about his Steelers, about which 8:00 p.m. Eastern news hour he watches.

And comedian Rush Limbaugh may be able to order Republican Congressmen around like his domestic staff buying stuff for him. But a cNBC anchor today cleaned the comedian's clocked. Worst persons, ticking.

When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, the president thinks 22,000 troops might bring victory in Afghanistan. Dan Rather is just back from there. He seems to have doubts.


OLBERMANN: The youngest coach in Super Bowl history is named the fans' choice as coach of the year. Mike Tomlin, Countdown viewer, gives his final pregame interview to you, via me. That's next, but first time for Countdown's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.

The bronze to the First Choice Liquor Store in Springfield, Queensland, Australia. A clerk thought an unnamed 40-year-old woman was shoplifting using a fake pregnancy belly. He said if she did not pull up her shirt and prove she really was pregnant, he would call the cops. She complied. She was pregnant, really pregnant, eight months, two weeks. The store has made an undisclosed settlement with the woman. And state legislators are pushing to make it illegal in that part of Australia to strip search anybody in public.

Our silver tonight, Republican Congressman Phil Gingrey of Georgia. He told that it was counter-productive for conservative radio talkers, like Comedian Rush Limbaugh, to, quote, stand back and throw bricks, rather than offer real leadership. Mr. Gingrey may be the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, but to paraphrase "Catch 22," everybody works for Rush-bo.

Gingrey now says he received a high volume of phone calls and correspondence. So now he is saying I see eye to eye with Rush Limbaugh. He even cowed enough to have phoned in an apologize to Limbaugh personally. He added that Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich were the voices of the conservative movement's conscience. Parenthetically, that explains everything. The congressman then added baa, baa, baa.

But our winner, the comedian himself. Some people are not afraid of the big bad mediocre announcer. Our cNBC colleague Mark Haines, anything but a raging liberal, today schooled the comedian in flawless fashion over his pretense at being non-partisan in a newspaper article after he said he hoped President Obama failed.


MARK HAINES, CNBC ANCHOR: A week after the inauguration, you said he hope he fails. Are you now admitting that that was a stupid and mean spirited thing to say?

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No, it was an accurate thing to say. It was an honest thing to say. As a conservative, I want liberalism to fail. I want the country to succeed. That is what I meant. That's what I said over and over again. You have to stop reading these left wing liberal media sites.

HAINES: I just listen to you, Rush. I don't read anybody. I listen to you. And what I hear is hypocrisy.


OLBERMANN: A thing of beauty is a joy forever, Mark Haines. Comedian Rush Limbaugh, today's worst person in the world!


OLBERMANN: When he stepped on to a stage at the Sun Dome at South Florida University this morning to accept the Motorola Coach of the Year Award, based on voting by the fans, Coach Mike Tomlin of the Super Bowl favorite Pittsburgh Steelers, was asked, not surprisingly, about President Obama. In our number one story on the Countdown, our exclusive interview with Tomlin, Obama, it turns out, was almost simultaneously being asked about Tomlin.


OBAMA: I wish the Cardinals the best. Kurt Warner is a great story and he is closer to my age than anybody else on the field. But I am a long time Steelers fan. Mr. Rooney, the owner, was just an extraordinary supporter during the course of the campaign. Franco Harris was campaigning for me in Pittsburgh. So -

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Coach signed up with you, too.

OBAMA: Right. Coach Tomlin was a supporter. So I wish the best to the Cardinals. They've been long suffering. It is a great Cinderella story. But other than the bears, the Steelers are probably the team that's closest to my heart.


OLBERMANN: Mike Tomlin is a fascinating individual. On Sunday, he will become the youngest coach in Super Bowl history. He made it to the Super Bowl with just two years of experience. He is, in fact, a year younger than the quarterback his team will try to beat on Sunday, Kurt Warner of Arizona.


OLBERMANN: The Motorola Coach of the Year, a fan vote; so your reaction to it. What does it mean?

MIKE TOMLIN, PITTSBURGH STEELERS COACH: It's probably more of a testament to Steeler Nation than anything else. We have some fiercely loyal fans. But seriously, it's a humbling honor.

OLBERMANN: Do you worry about individual honors the week of the Super Bowl, the week - the first one you are the head coach in? Do you worry about it dropping out of the sky and interrupting what you have planned for this week?

TOMLIN: I came down with the mindset that I was going to embrace everything that this week held for us, the spectacle, if you will, of the Super Bowl. I wasn't going to fight it or resist it. I don't want our team to fight it or resist it. Just to understand that what we came down here to do was to win and to prepare for that, and then ultimately play. So I am going to put this in that same category with everything else.

OLBERMANN: Do you try to keep it separate somewhere along with the idea that you are here, coaching the Super Bowl on Sunday? Do you try to keep that idea of what that means in terms of your professional success separate from we have a job to do?

TOMLIN: Yes. I don't know if I am a big evaluator of where I am professionally. I just live it. When you have a perception of what is acceptable or good, ultimately, you put limits on what you are capable of being. I just go and compete on a day-to-day basis.

OLBERMANN: I have a question about the Rooney rule in the NFL, probably not the one you would think would be coming. For people who are not that familiar with the NFL, it has been the most aggressive of all professional sports about opening doors or knocking down barriers, more correctly, for minority coaching candidates. Each team is required when it has an opening to do a series of interviews to bring people in the mix.

Perhaps one of the most unexpected side parts to this is that not only did it afford people opportunities that they deserved and correct a lot of problems in the past, but do you think it has accelerated job prospects, head coaching prospects for younger assistant coaches? Do you think it sort of eliminated this idea you have to be an assistant coach in the league for 20 years before you should get a shot?

TOMLIN: I don't know if it has done that. I just think the success of younger coaches that have been given opportunities has been a bigger component of that. I think guys like Eric Mangini, with the success that he had early in New York. Sean Payton, I think, may have been Coach of the Year his first year down in New Orleans. I think the success of some of those guys have provided opportunities for guys like myself and those that will follow.

OLBERMANN: So there's never been a thought in your mind that 36 was probably earlier than you would have expected to be in the situation you are in this week?

TOMLIN: You know, I maybe thought it was late, you know. I take it all in stride.

OLBERMANN: Let me ask you a couple of questions about the game, surprisingly enough. This is also a coaching question and it's a question about this week. What have you found that you had to do different? What is different from this, practically speaking, in terms of preparing a team for a game?

TOMLIN: Terms of the preparation, the moments that we work for our team and nobody else is around, it's not different at all. It is a little different because we have had two weeks to prepare. But the approach that we have taken is one of normalcy.

OLBERMANN: How big is it that you have a couple of key guys who have been through this before on the team? And are they using that experience to help the guys who haven't been here before get through the external nonsense?

TOMLIN: I think it is helpful. I think it's helpful leading up to the game and dealing with the week itself, the process that you go through, some of the obligations and things that you have to do. Ultimately, when you kick that ball off, I think we still probably will have a few guys hyperventilating, whether they've been here or not. It's the big game.

OLBERMANN: To that point, and much was made of this earlier, before the game, when Ben Roethlisberger admitted to, in his first Super Bowl appearance, being nervous throughout; probably during any other week of the season, people go, oh, that is interesting and move on to the next story. A big deal was made about that. Did you have a reaction to that? Did you know about it? Were you surprised he said it?

TOMLIN: No. I wasn't surprised that he said it. Ben can be painfully honest at times. I truly believe he is not the first quarterback that went through that game nervous the entire time.

OLBERMANN: One would think, right.

TOMLIN: But he is bold enough to admit it.

OLBERMANN: The obligatory health question. How is Hines Ward?

TOMLIN: He's great.

OLBERMANN: I think that is an official listing. Probable, likely, questionable or he's great. About your opponent, the way the Arizona Cardinals' season went, it might be impossible to tell exactly how good they are. Do you that is a fair assessment or do you think you know exactly how good they are? And if you don't, does it add anxiety to the process?

TOMLIN: No. I think I know how good they are. I think the way they played ball in January is what they are, is who they are. They absolutely ran away with their division. It's human nature, when you're in the position that they were in, to maybe lose a little bit at the end of the regular season. No one is pushing them. When it came time to compete and get in the tournament and play single elimination football, they played to what they are capable of playing.

OLBERMANN: People who don't know a lot about this game understand that your defense is as good as it gets, maybe as good as it has gotten. Certainly, the Arizona offense has proved it can just score and score and score, depending on the strength of the defense it is facing. That varies from week to week. The other two components; is your offense better than their defense?

TOMLIN: You know, we'll see. You know, a lot of times, the match ups that don't get the headlines are the ones that decide the outcome of the game. That is something that we have been talking openly about with our football team. We are not going to be presumptuous. We're not going to identify potential match ups, or think a game is going to unfold in a certain way. We ware going to be open to the possibility that this game could be three to two or could be 49 to 48. That is the reality of it.

OLBERMANN: Two final questions. First one is more a personal one: is this story true that when you were a kid, you hid a bumper sticker that identified you as an honor student? What is that?

TOMLIN: That's true.

OLBERMANN: What's the story?

TOMLIN: That's my personal business, you know. If I was a C or D student, my mom wouldn't have put that bumper sticker on the car. It would have been my personal business. So the fact that I made good grades, I had the same approach and mentality.

OLBERMANN: So it was on the car and did you take it off?

TOMLIN: It wasn't on the car very long.

OLBERMANN: As I said, the final question. You will meet with other reporters in certain circumstances, but essentially this is the last interview that you have to sit down and do, put the mic on everything else, before the Super Bowl. How good does that feel?

TOMLIN: It feels great, you know? It feels great, because it is work. It is work. And it's extra work. But it is something that comes with this game. There's 30 teams that would love to have these problems.


TOMLIN: We keep that perspective on it. And I'm going to do the same.

OLBERMANN: We'll let you get back to your real job. Congratulations, again, Mike.

TOMLIN: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.


OLBERMANN: Coach Tomlin added something that is of interest to only you and me and possibly not you. He watches this newscast. Not this week, of course. Tomorrow night, here on Countdown, my NBC Sports colleague Dan Patrick joins me to preview the match up between the Steelers and the Cardinals. Then, of course, the big game this Sunday here in Tampa. Dan, me, Bob, Chris, Tiki, Jerome, Rodney, Coach Mike, Matt, Tom, and 11 others bring you the pregame show beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. Then they play the game at about 6:28. But that's above my pay grade. Ask Al Michaels and John Madden.

That is Countdown for this the 2,091st day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for January 28, 2009
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons

Guest: Richard Wolffe, Lawrence O'Donnell, Jonathan Turley, Margaret Carlson

High: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

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

As the House votes on the stim, the Republicans go in eight directions at once. Congressman Cantor of Virginia included - again - thanks the president for working with Republicans on "some terrific tax provisions." Congressman Pence of Indiana excluded, complains "Republicans have had no input whatsoever in the development of this so-called stimulus bill."

Congressman Ryan of Wisconsin refuted .


REP. PAUL D. RYAN, JR., (D) WISCONSIN: This bill we're about to vote on is not worthy of our new president's signature.


OLBERMANN: Senator Coburn of Oklahoma plays the grown-up on his Republican colleagues in the House, quote, "I don't think they ought to whine about the process."

And the president himself says, "Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick."


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Part of what led our economy to this perilous moment was a sense of irresponsibility that prevailed in Wall Street and in Washington.


OLBERMANN: And the sense of irresponsibility that prevailed in the previous administration. Now, the ACLU asks this president to release all Bush Justice Department memos rationalizing secret prisons, domestic spying and torture.

The count and the amount: Rod Blagojevich after interview number 20.


GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH, (D) ILLINOIS: Richard Nixon fought every step of the way to keep his tapes from being heard. I consider myself the anti-Nixon. I want every tape, every one of them, every taped conference to be heard.


OLBERMANN: He's been on everything but the soap. I don't think he is going to be on our Super Bowl pre-game show on Sunday. Breaking news tonight that now he wants to address the Illinois Senate before the impeachment prosecutor wraps up tomorrow. Must have heard there'd be cameras!

Bests: The rabid right-wing Republican congressman who has dared to stand up to comedian Rush Limbaugh. Worsts: Jessica Alba knows more about World War II than Bill O'Reilly.

And, behind the scenes with the Obamas. At the convention in Denver, it turns out there was heavy wagering?


PRES. OBAMA: I've got a bet with Malia because she's been talking about when he sees her Jonas Brother favorite - what's his name?


PRES. OBAMA: Nick. I've said, "Malia, I will bet you $5 that you will stammer and not have anything to say when you see Nick.



OLBERMANN: Take the first daughter and the points.

All that and more - now on Countdown.


BLAGOJEVICH: I think the fix is in.


OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening, from Tampa.

First, they wanted tax cuts, then they wanted more tax cuts, then they wanted money spent on contraceptives cut. Finally, this afternoon, before tonight's final House vote on the stim, the Obama economic stimulus program, it was suddenly infrastructure. Not the president's vision to spur the U.S. economy by improving the crumbling bridges, the highways and the mass transit of this country, instead, Republicans - who let the infrastructure of the nation go to hell in a hand basket for eight years - suddenly complained that the stimulus bill did not have enough infrastructure spending in it.

Our fifth story on the Countdown: Every excuse including the kitchen sink. Breaking news this hour - not a single GOP member of the House voted for a stimulus plan that one of them had had any intention of voting for in the first place - post-partisan America be damned. But the bill passed anyway and handily, 244 to 188.

President Obama getting the victory he wanted in the House and he did not need any Republican help to achieve. The Democrats in the House approving the $819 billion economic stimulus package, that is a centerpiece to President Obama's plan to revive the economy. As we mentioned, no Republican is voting for the measure.

After tonight's vote, the president expressing his gratitude to the House for passing the stimulus plan, adding that this is not a time to, quote, "allow the same partisan differences to get in our way." Earlier this morning, before that vote, the president is inviting top business leaders to the White House to stress his belief that the measure needed to be enacted and in a hurry.


OBAMA: When it comes to rebuilding our economy, we don't have a moment to spare. The businesses that are shedding jobs to stay afloat, they can't afford inaction or delay. The workers who are returning home to tell their husband and wives and children that they no longer have a job, and all those who live in fear that their job will be next on the cutting blocks, they need help now. They are looking to Washington for action, bold and swift. And that is why I hope to sign an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan into law in the next few weeks.


OLBERMANN: The latest economic bellwether in a week of many of them, the Postal Service is now threatening to cut mail service and delivery down to five days a week from six because of massive deficits and rising costs.

But pay no attention to that economic crisis behind the curtain, the same Republicans responsible for bringing it to you and for over 2.5 million jobs lost, for a national debt exceeding $10 trillion, this afternoon are claiming that they have a better plan than President Obama's and a cheaper one, too.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: We think there's a better way. We just did an analysis of our proposal and found that our proposal will create 6.2 million new jobs in America. That's twice as many as the bill that's on the floor now, at about half the price.


OLBERMANN: And where was Minority Leader Boehner headed now that he has lost tonight's vote in that House? No. Not to Disney World. He was invited to the White House for cocktails.

Yesterday morning, the president having invited the entire leadership of the House and the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, to join him for refreshments at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. Winner buys.

Time to call in our own Richard Wolffe.

Good evening, Richard.


OLBERMANN: So, Obama gets the stimulus plan but he didn't get a single Republican vote. Did he win or did he sully his own win by making such a big deal over Republican votes that he wasn't going to get in the first place?

WOLFFE: Well, he wins by getting the legislation through, and he wins by keeping the moral high ground. But clearly, his goal of a new kind of politics is going to take a lot longer than he thought. Now, you can put that down to sort of optimism on his part or self-belief. But, in the end, what he thinks is more important than changing politics is getting this stimulus package through, and there are many people in the White House who think Republicans opposing a popular president and a popular spending package are effectively driving themselves off a cliff.

OLBERMANN: And, to that point, the minority leader kept his votes in line, not so much on the message discipline that they always seek. Would it have been a lot more believable, this whole thing, if the Republican members had stuck to one set of talking points? I mean, were there any talking points - they seemed to be going in all sorts of different directions before this vote?

WOLFFE: Well, I think they had pretty good talking points initially on some of these spending issues. And look, they got the president to knock down a couple of them, on the National Mall, on contraceptives as well. So, they, I guess, had some tactical skirmishes that they won. But what you see at the end of it is a party that is struggling for definition and direction. And without clear leadership, some of them are going in one ideological direction and others are just looking after their own skins and their own districts.

There are confident predictions inside the White House, not just that they will pick up votes in the Senate, but you are going to see Republicans in the House voting for this final package when it comes back to them. In other words, there are going to be Republicans out there who say they voted against it before they were for it.

OLBERMANN: And, is that where the reports that there had been discussions between the chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and this caucus of a dozen or so centrists Republicans in the House, the "Tuesday group" as they call themselves, with the new transportation secretary, Mr. LaHood, having been one of the group's members? Did they have to stand aside in this vote but are they expected to, as you suggest, vote for it when it comes back to the House?

WOLFFE: I don't know that they have identified exactly who's going to bend here. But, you know, the danger for Republicans is that they are on the wrong side of the politics, that this economic vote ends up being a bit like national security was for some Democrats in 2002. The public opinion is so strongly in one direction that you end up looking on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of the politics.

So, this isn't just some sort of naive game about everyone singing kumbaya. It's about positioning themselves both with the economy - the policy now and politics moving ahead for the next two years.

OLBERMANN: So, who, ultimately, do the Republicans who all voted against this thing - who do they look good to?

WOLFFE: Well, Republicans in the House are looking at competition that comes from the right. It's a very different dynamic from what you're seeing in the Senate, where people are representing whole state, where there are lots of different opinion shifts as we saw in the last election. And if you are a party that is down to your base and you're worried about challenges from the right, that's all they care about. They are looking good for their own base, for the kinds of people who still inhabit the conservative echo chamber. And it's not going to take this party - take the Republican Party to a new direction.

OLBERMANN: Our political analyst, Richard Wolffe - thank you, Richard, as always.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: To that last point, since Monday, 100,000 Americans have lost their jobs. That's on top of the 2.6 million who got pink slips last year. Republicans are betting everything now, that the unemployed and millions more Americans who worry they might soon be joining them on the unemployment lines would prefer that Congress do nothing so that they are taxed less on paychecks that they might not have for much longer.

Behold, the GOP now running its first ad of the 2010 midterm election against Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Reno market, in his home state of Nevada. The ad is attacking Senator Reid for his support of the bailout bill and the stimulus plan. Roll 'em.


ANNOUNCER: Super-spending partisan Harry Reid.

As Democrat leader, he helped pay for vicious attack ads criticizing last year's bailouts.

But guess who voted for the $700 billion bailout?

You guessed it - Harry Reid.

And now, he wants $1 trillion more in new spending? $1 trillion?

Tell Harry Reid to stop wasting our hard-earned money.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is responsible for the content of this ad.


OLBERMANN: Who will think of the pigs? Who'll be looking out for the pigs?

Let's turn now to MSNBC political analyst and a contributor to, Lawrence O'Donnell.

Good evening, sir.


OLBERMANN: So, am I missing something here? Have the Republicans bet their party's success on the economy failing further, but nobody remembering that it first began to fail and fail significantly under George Bush, who was a Republican if I recall correctly?

O'DONNELL: Well, what they are betting on is the failure of voter memory two years from now. This is an easy vote. This first passage through the House is an easy one for them to vote no on.

As Richard pointed out, there is going to be another chance, there's going to be a final passage. And we may see some Republicans come under pressure, between now and then, to change their minds. They will have a rationale for that because the Senate will deliver some changes to this, the conference committee version of it will have some changes. So, you'll always be able to say this is a different bill than came through here the first time.

But the easy bet right now, especially for House Republicans, most of whom or almost all of whom are in fairly safe seats - because let's remember, Keith, everyone, every Republican in the House survived the Obama tsunami that took over the election this year. So, what they're counting on is this stimulus probably won't work very well or have a very impressive achievement two years from now. Unemployment may go up a point. Who knows if without the stimulus it would have gone up five points?

But they are hoping they are going to be able to argue this stimulus package was a big waste of money and we can prove it to you two years from now. If the stimulus package works out well and the economy is somehow doing well two years from now, they are betting on voters forgetting who voted yes or no today.

OLBERMANN: Obama's approval rating as we start this process, where the Republicans think they're going to come out ahead in two years time or less than that, he is at 70 percent, Congress is about 20 percent. And there's a Hotline Poll in which 51 percent say it does not matter who's in control of Congress as long as they get something done for the benefit of the country.

Does it seem like the Republicans have decided to bet the long shot here rather than take the safe bet of going with Obama in the middle of a crisis?

O'DONNELL: Well, what House members get to do is bet on their own approval rating within their own districts - and these Republicans have pretty good approval ratings at this stage of the game. And they have plenty of time in the next two years if this becomes a politically costly vote for them, they have time to make up for that in other ways and jump on some other Obama bandwagon in 2010, throw one or two votes Obama's way in 2010, and eliminate whatever price they are going to pay for this.

But remember, the important thing is this is just the first passage.

The bill is going to change. The Senate is going to pass something else. They're going to go to a conference committee. The final passage of vote may look different or may look the same.

But their bet right now is, they are in a safe position, especially since what they are saying is, "We are not just opposed to this. We have our alternative that does not include wasteful spending and it includes more tax cuts and our alternative is not being given a chance." So, on the campaign trail next year, they'll be saying, "This was the alternative but I was in favor of when I was voting against the crazy Obama bill."

OLBERMANN: But, Lawrence, Obama met with Republicans and he met with them on their turf. He compromised on multiple aspects of the stimulus plan and added things and subtracted things per Republican request. He invited everybody to cocktails at the White House after the vote, before the vote is taken.

Even if it had lost in the House, if he were to lose this somehow in the Senate, would the president have lose - lost by losing or would he won by losing? Did he fix this so that his bet is covered in both directions?

O'DONNELL: Absolutely. I believe he is going to win final passage. I think they are guaranteed that. But he has played it absolutely, perfectly in terms of the public perception of: Is he really trying to go bipartisan? He has certainly delivered that imagery absolutely.

You k now, House Republicans will argue, "Yes, but he wasn't trying to do real compromise." One of the possible strategic problems for Obama was that he compromised too soon with them on tax cuts. Maybe he should have waited later to show real compromise toward the end instead of toward the beginning. But he has really compromised.

OLBERMANN: Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC and - as always, great thanks, sir.

O'DONNELL: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: The president still has a different kind of leftover from the Bush administration with which to deal tonight. And the ACLU today just tried to nudge him in a right direction on it. "Release," it asked, "all Bush documents legally rationalizing torture, domestic spying - the whole bag." This while a Republican senator apparently makes up a claim that the attorney general nominee promised him, just him, that no Bush White House figure would ever be prosecuted.

Jonathan Turley joins us next.


OLBERMANN: The Bush administration Justice Department memos, the ones about torture, about kidnapping, about secret prisons, and secret domestic spying and why they were all legal. Why the ACLU thinks they might be smoking guns? Jonathan Turley joins me next.

Later: Governor Blagojevich's next guest shot at his own impeachment trial for a 90-minute answer, he hopes. And in Worsts: Bill O'Reilly finds out he knows less about the Second World War than does actress Jessica Alba.

All ahead tonight on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: In George Bush's America, he spied on people, kidnapped people, held them in secret facilities and tortured them without any of the founders' check and balances, courts or Congress not even knowing about it.

In our fourth story tonight: The first steps toward accountability for those who said the president could operate outside the rule of law.

Today, the ACLU wrote to the Obama administration, asking it to release dozens of memos - secret memos once issued by the Bush Justice Department, telling Mr. Bush that waging war elevated him above the law. Mr. Obama rescinded those memos last week in order to his agencies to embrace transparency but still we don't know how he will extend that transparency to his predecessor.

Whether to seek the truth or justice for the Bush era is now a question for Eric Holder. He's expected to win full Senate confirmation as attorney general as early as tomorrow, after sailing through the judiciary committee today on a vote of 17-2. One of those two "no" votes, Republican John Cornyn of Texas saying, quote, "I am left with remaining doubt about Holder's political independence." Just a moment. Thank you.

In 2005, Cornyn considered Alberto Gonzales politically independent from George Bush, voting to confirm an attorney general who only told Bush no when Bush asked him, "Hey, do you mind making some coffee?"

Let's turn now to Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University.

Good evening, Jon.


OLBERMANN: The ACLU has sought these very memos for years. Run through it. Exactly what kinds of things would we learn from them and why does it matter?

TURLEY: Well, first of all, these memos are not just some historical interest. They are evidence of crimes. This is the ultimate paper trail. It will show not just what rationalizations were made for the commission of war crimes in the case of torture, but who accepted those rationalizations.

And when you talk about no one being above the law, it generally means you follow that trail of evidence wherever it may lead. And these memos will give us a very good account of who made the decisions and who assisted in what is now a pretty well-defined war crime.

OLBERMANN: Valid reasons that the Obama administration might possibly have to not release these documents now. Are there any?

TURLEY: Not really, you know, because the existence of the program is well-known. The details are well-known. It is admitted that waterboarding occurred.

And so, what's being classified here is really evidence in the historical record but, you know, the fascinating thing is that you have a group of people who knew at the time that they would be accused of war crimes for ordering the torture of individuals and they then promptly classified even their legal arguments. So, it's a unique situation where you have people who are presumed as felons who have the ability to control what evidence will be used against them.

And so, there really isn't any good justification here. Some of these memos, like a 2002 memo is classified legal argument. It's just - it's a memo talking about the Fourth Amendment and why it doesn't matter.

OLBERMANN: Mr. Holder has said he's not interested in going after the agents who did what they were told. We've already discussed the fallacy that's contained within that. But, what about the higher-ups? I mean, how could those memos affect Holder's thinking about pursuing the higher-ups?

TURLEY: Well, it's going to make it much more difficult for Obama and Holder to ignore the war crime in the room and the potential war criminals who just left it. And, you know, I have to say, though, people talk so freely about not holding the low-level people responsible. They don't seem to realize that that's accepting the defense of just following orders, the very defense we rejected in Nuremberg. And so, the implication of what is being said seems to be totally detached from this political moment.

But I do believe if these memos are released, and I think it's a great credit to the Obama administration that they are thinking of releasing them, it will make it all the more difficult to ignore the people who wrote them, and more importantly, the people who received them.

OLBERMANN: A side note about Mr. Holder - the "Washington Times" reported today that the Republican senator from Missouri, Mr. Bond, said he had voted for him after Holder assured him that there were not going to be any torture prosecutions. Holder promptly denied that. Mr. Bond would not, his office did not reply to our request for any clarification on that.

But whether or not it's true, what did he have to gain with that story, and now that it's been shot down, what do we look from Republicans at the full Senate confirmation vote which might be tomorrow?

TURLEY: Well, he knows that there is a lot of concern among civil libertarians particularly after the report last week of General Hayden that he was told by Obama, quietly, that there would be no war crimes or torture prosecutions. And for civil libertarians, it's a great concern.

The important thing here is that all they have to do is say, "It's not our decision. We're going to take the evidence where it leads and we're not going to stand in the way of an investigation of war crimes because that's not the type of country we are."

OLBERMANN: Jonathan Turley of George Washington University - as always, Jon, my great thanks.

TURLEY: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Pining for the fjords? What kind of talk is that? If you hadn't nailed him to the toilet, he'd be pushing up the daisies! My apologies to John Cleese.

And, when will Billo apologize to Jessica Alba, she makes an obscure historical reference about the Second World War, he claims, "She's a pinhead." She proves she was right and he was, per usual, wrong.

Worst Persons is ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment. And a restaurant is in trouble, so one day the staff came in and worked for free.

But first, six years ago tonight, the most infamous 16 consecutive words of this century were uttered. Quote, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

On that note, let's play Oddball.

And, no coincidence we begin with crap - and parroting. Ten-year-old Emil was making too much mess in his cage at his home in Landskrona, Sweden, so his owner potty-trained him. And poo isn't all that Emil can do, he also drinks tea, and whistles the theme tone from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Beautiful bod, lovely cleavage - just run down the curtain and join the bleeding choir invisible!

And, to Chengdu Research base in Sichuan Province in China, and 13 adorable, fuzzy baby pandas making their first public appearance as part of the celebrations of the Chinese New Year. Technically, this is the year of the ox, but pandas are so much cuter and more easily carried.

It turns out Rachel's interview with Rod Blagojevich was just a warm-up. He wants his next appearance to be giving his own final argument at his impeachment trial. It will last an hour and a half.

And the Obamas of Chicago find out what happens in Washington when it snows. And they - especially the kids - are not all that impressed.

These stories ahead, but first time for Countdown's top three best persons in the world.

Number three, best de-assimilation from the Borg, Republican Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana. Asked if he agreed with comedian Rush Limbaugh, who has repeatedly says he hopes President Obama fails. Pence spit out the Kool-Aid and decided he works for the American people and not some guy on the radio. "Every American hopes that our president is a success. Everyone hopes that America succeeds and our president succeeds, but Republicans are going to stand for conservative values." He then presumably voted against the stimulus anyway, just like Lord Limbaugh told him to. But it is a best start.

Number two, best dumb criminals and best cliche come to life, John T. West and Ashley Sorenson, 20-year-olds accused of stealing the tires off a car in Sacramento. They fled. They put the tires on their car and they promptly drove the car back to the scene of the crime, just like criminals are alleged to always do, because, they later told the cops, they wanted to see if the lady had called the cops. Good question. She had. The cops were already there. And they got arrested by them.

Number one, best employees, the 17 servers, cooks, bus boys, dish washers, cashiers and hostesses at Mr. B's Pancake House in Muskegon (ph), Michigan. Business is slow and the pancake house is having tough times. So, thought senior server Mary Van Damn (ph), it would be great if everyone came in a week ago Sunday and worked one shift for free to help out their boss, Mr. B, Dave Barhan (ph). They all agreed.

When the customers found out, they increased their tips to the staff. Still managed to go home with 51 bucks each as payment for their generosity. That is terrific.


OLBERMANN: Breaking news. We now know why Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has conducted 20, count them 20, interviews over the past few days. It's a warm up act for his impeachment trial, the very trial he said he would not attend, so he could do all of the interviews. In our third story on the Countdown, the governor has now made a request to speak tomorrow at what will likely be the final day of those impeachment proceedings.

The Democratic president of the Illinois Senate announced the request this afternoon. The governor's spokesman, Lucio Guerro (ph), saying, quote, he wants to make a closing argument. The governor will speak for an hour to an hour and a half, reportedly before the prosecutor's closing arguments. The governor will off offer no testimony and take no questions.

Mr. Blagojevich's spokesperson said he was not certain why the governor had chosen to make an appearance after consistently denouncing the impeachment process itself. Why did he do this? Maybe he sold the film rights.

Until that final pitch before the state senators, who act as both judge and jury, we have only the governor in his own words and words and words and words.


GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D), ILLINOIS: There was a cowboy who was charged with stealing a horse in town. Some of the other cowboys, especially the guy whose horse was stolen, were very unhappy with that guy. One of the cowboys said let's hang him. And the other cowboy said, hold on, before we hang, let's first give him a fair trial. Then we'll hang him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will reflect that governor has failed to appear or to answer the article of impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Blagojevich remains defiant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Rod Blagojevich, good morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

BARBARA WALTERS, "THE VIEW": AS I'm in California, I will talk to you first.

RACHEL MADDOW, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": Thank you for being here.

It's nice of you to take the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, open the window. Open the window.

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Springfield, Illinois. Hello?

BLAGOJEVICH: Are you asking me this now? Am I on TV?


BLAGOJEVICH: Yes - no, I said I'm not resigning. You are funny.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's been discussions of a TV movies of this being made. Who would play you? Who would you want to play you?

BLAGOJEVICH: Is that right? Have there been?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, there have been some discussions. I mean, would you -

BLAGOJEVICH: I wouldn't mind playing myself. I could probably use the job.

PATRICK FITZGERALD, FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: The most cynical behavior in all this, the most appalling, is the fact that Governor Blagojevich tried to sell the appointment to the Senate seat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have this thing and it is bleeping golden.


JOY BEHAR, "THE VIEW": You and your wife are potty mouths.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ask him, for nothing, ask him.

BLAGOJEVICH: I was raised in a big city and a tough neighborhood.

We had gangs in the neighborhood I grew up in.

I will point out when some of that language was used, there were no women on the phone.

If that was said, that is subject to many interpretations.

KING: You can't tell me what the two words bleeping golden meant?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) them. Put that in context for me?

BLAGOJEVICH: Again, that could be interpreted in a whole variety of ways.

MADDOW: What could be kosher to exchange for a Senate seat?

BLAGOJEVICH: How about helping us pass health care and a jobs bill.

I'm am, in many ways, the anti-Richard Nixon.

I consider myself the anti-Nixon. I'm the opposite of Richard Nixon, who was always trying to protect his tapes.

BEHAR: He does a fabulous Nixon impression. Do it for us.

BLAGOJEVICH: Who said that?

BEHAR: Somebody told me. Come on. Just say, I am not a crook. Do it.

BLAGOJEVICH: No. I'm not going to say that.

BEHAR: Come on.

BLAGOJEVICH: This is like an old Frank Capra movie, whether it's Jimmy Stewart or Gary Cooper. I see myself that way. In those movies, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will tell you what I want, sir. I want a chance to talk to people who will believe me.

BLAGOJEVICH: I view myself as Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper. I know that is going to be met with mockery.


BLAGOJEVICH: But that's how I see it.

No, but I think the fix is in.

The fix is in.

The fix is in.

The fix is in.

The fix is in.

I think the fix is in.

The fix is in in the state Senate.

The fix is in.

I believe the fix is in.

Because the fix is in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who were you thinking of for Senate?

BLAGOJEVICH: Do you have any suggestions about who I might have been thinking about? What have you heard?


BLAGOJEVICH: That is true.

Oprah was one of the many people we thought about.

Oprah Winfrey, for example.

Then the question is, how do you suggest something like that so it doesn't look like it's just a gimmick to get cheap publicity at her expense.

OPRAH WINFREY, "OPRAH": I think I could be a senator too. I'm just not interested.

BLAGOJEVICH: It wasn't my idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said cuckoo once. I'll say it again. Cuckoo.

BLAGOJEVICH: The sounds of political allies who the day before all of this came down, which we called our personal Pearl Harbor Day - I had a whole bunch of thoughts. Of course, my children and my wife. Then I thought about Mandela, Dr. King, Gandhi.

They knew what it was like to be in custody. I'm not the first person this has happened to. All you have to do is read the Bible. Parts of Bible are filled with stories like this.

In terms of what we tell our kids, it's a very difficult time for our family. Our little girls, my wife and I got them a puppy during the Christmas holidays.

Everybody should do what they think is right. Anybody who wants to say anything nice about me, that would be kind of nice. There hasn't been a lot said that's been nice.


BLAGOJEVICH: Is that ethical?

There is an old gospel song "One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus." I do - you hear something like this, you take it one day at a time. I had this delusion, which I know is a delusion, that I'll wake up some time, like tomorrow morning, and then maybe they'll realize there is just one big misunderstanding here. That is likely not to happen.


OLBERMANN: The governor added, soylent green is people.

Meanwhile, a clean Illinois politician turns out to have a record as a gambler. All right, the bet was for five. It was one of his daughters. The Republicans have to be able to do something with that.

Do you know as much about the history of World War II as Jessica Alba does? Bill-O doesn't, as we will find out in Worsts.

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, the attorney general will decide whether or not to hold Bush officials accountable on torture and all the rest. Will he? She will ask Senator Russ Feingold.

But, first, because they may be gone, but their deeds outlive them, the headlines lingering from the previous administration's 50 running scandals, still Bushed.

Number three, bailout-gate. It's not like Citibank's 50 million dollar jet, nor the million dollar bathroom, but the insurance company AIG, which we bailed in September, has confirmed it is still paying bonuses to the employees who made the deals that caused the companies to nearly go belly up. These were credit default swaps. And AIG owed the 400 members of its financial product unit a total of 450 million dollars in bonuses, was contractually bound to pay them. When we bailed AIG out, the Bush administration Treasury Department about making it possible to invalidate those contracts, the way a bankruptcy judge would have. So you and I paid the bailout bonuses of the idiots at AIG whose stupidity crashed the company and required that we bail them out.

Number two, Gitmo-gate. It continues. A judge has ruled that Ghalib Nassar al Bahini (ph) must stay there even after seven years of detention without charge. We say he aided the Taliban. He says yes, that is true. He was an assistant in the Taliban kitchen. That is good enough for US District Judge Richard Leon, who today ruled Bahini must stay there, and quoted Napoleon as saying "an army marches on its stomach."

Damn it all, judge. Even Napoleon would have charged the cook with something. Napoleon was a dictator.

Number one, History-gate. More evidence not supporting the president's belief that historians will judge him more kindly than his current critics are doing. The Republican National Committee is meeting in Washington amid an undercurrent of insurrection against National Chairman Mike Duncan. Says RNC member California Shawn Steele, Duncan should be ousted because he, quote, never criticized Bush when the president was wrong.

The group is also poised to adopt a resolution to criticizing the bloated bank bailout bill that Bush supported. Member Curly Hogland (ph) of North Dakota says Mr. Duncan must go, because Mr. Bush appointed him. And that while, quote, most of us strongly supported the Bush administration through the entire two terms, the last few months of this bailout and the abandonment of capitalism really kind of sealed it.

Wait, it gets worse. On the "Today Show," Senate Minority Leader McConnell brought his memories of Mr. Bush and he also brought a bus.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: I was a strong supporter of the president. But presidential unpopularity is bad for the president's party. We suffered losses in '06 and '08. We wish President Bush well. Frankly, we will not have to be carrying that sort of political burden that we carried the last two elections.


OLBERMANN: You heard it. The Republican leader in the Senate saying George W. Bush is a political burden. Mr. Bush, the historians you are waiting to save you are not coming. You are in this box of infamy for good. Kind of Guantanamo Bay of presidential reputations.


OLBERMANN: It seems the president wagered on whether his own daughter would stammer in the presence of a Jonas Brother, while gently calling out D.C. for not handling snow the way the city of Chicago does. That is next, but first time for Countdown's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.

The bronze to Bill-O the clown who has gotten schooled again about World War II, again, by actress Jessica Alba. She now famously called Bill-O the hole word, and when Fixed News chased her for a response, she suggested the network should go Sweden about it. By go Sweden about it, she said she meant be neutral. Bill-O fired back, saying she was uninformed. Labeled her a, quote, pinhead. And decided she had clearly confused Sweden and the famously neutral nation of Switzerland.

Ms. Alba has now gotten the last word, writing on a blog that it "is so sad to me that you think the only neutral country during World War II was Switzerland." Sweden was not only famously, sometimes painfully neutral during the war, indeed during most of the 20th century. But that fact made its way into pop culture as recently as the movie "Catch-22."

Bill-O, who didn't know the Americans were the victims and not the war criminals at Malmady in that war, now proves to have know less about the Second World War than does the star of the movie "Sin City."

The runner up, columnist Charles Krauthammer, criticizing Obama's appearance on the al Arabiya network yesterday as needlessly apologetic and defensive. "We heard him say that we shouldn't paint Islam with a broad brush. Who does? That's a straw man."

Krauthammer obviously never read this sentence, painted with the broadest brush imaginable in December 2002: "from Nigeria to Sudan to Pakistan to Indonesia to the Philippines, some of the worst, most hate driven violence in the world today is perpetrated by Muslims and in the name of Islam."

That amazing generalization, written without any attempt at verification, the definition of painting with a broad brush was written six years ago by Charles Krauthammer.

But our winner, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia. Though not taking credit for the stimulus program, he is ripping it. "Even the Congressional Budget Office says it is not stimulative," he said on CNBC today. "You've got that office saying that only 25 percent goes out in the first year."

Actually, the Congressional Budget Office writes that the stim would have a, quote, "noticeable impact on economic growth and employment in the next few years." About that 25 percent claim, the office says it is ridiculous to try to measure how much of the money would be distributed by the end of this year, because the plan won't even go into effect until roughly the middle of the fiscal year.

But by the end of September of next year, the office says 65 percent of this funding will have been spent. This guy Cantor is supposed to be one of the GOP's bright new lights. He is kind of new. He seems fairly light. I don't know about bright. Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia, today's worst person - and there's echo in the room already - in the world!


OLBERMANN: Lord knows, in the campaign, they went after him for everything else and show early signs of being willing to do so even as he is in the White House. Perhaps, the right wing talking points are just a day or two away: President Obama is an irresponsible father. He taught his children how to gamble for relatively high stakes, five dollars.

Or President Obama criticizes a major city's policy of handling of snowstorms, the elitist. Number one story on the Countdown, or maybe everyone might calm down this time and just see a dad needling a daughter and good-naturedly complaining when they both get the day of school in DC for what in Chicago would have been referred to as flurries.

The needling and betting first released by video just released of the Obama family during the Democratic Convention in Denver last August.


OBAMA: Who is iPod are you going to use? Malia's? A little Jonas Brothers.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: We have another secret. I'm going to be on "Ellen" next week. Special guests?

OBAMA: Jonas Brothers?

M. OBAMA: I'm taking the girls.

OBAMA: That's big.

M. OBAMA: I'm not going tell them.

OBAMA: Don't tell them at all. Particularly because I've got a bet with Malia. She's been talking about how when she sees her Jonas Brother favorite - what's his name?

M. OBAMA: Nick.

OBAMA: Nick. She's going to be all sophisticated. I said, Malia, I will bet you five dollars that you will stammer and not have anything to say. She said, no, no. Well, I'm sure I'll say I'm a really big fan. You know Malia, acting all sophisticated. I'll be - I really enjoy his music. I said, you won't say that. You'll be like, ah -

M. OBAMA: They have a five dollar bet.

OBAMA: We've got a five dollar bet. I won't really take her money.


OLBERMANN: Their lives at once normal and extraordinary. The Obama girls danced with the Jonas Brothers at a kids ball during the inaugural and retreated to another surprise Jonas Brothers visit at the end of the scavenger hunt in their first night in the White House. All reports suggesting Malia handled herself with grace, and without stammering and presumably she has collected the fin from a secretly delighted father.

Now, about the snow. The president again sounding like just a father, today Complained about his daughters' school being canceled.


OBAMA: Because of what?


OBAMA: Some ice?

As my children pointed out, in Chicago, school is never canceled.

We're going to have to try to apply some flinty Chicago toughness.


OLBERMANN: Good luck. Let's bring in "Bloomberg News" political columnist, Washington editor of "The Week Magazine," Margaret Carlson.

Good evening, Margaret.


OLBERMANN: Without getting so ripe about this that we rot and fall of the tree, that is pretty cool stuff right there.

CARLSON: Well, you know, about - there's no people who come here are shocked that a dusting of snow can bring a world capital to a screeching halt. Because a day like today in Chicago is called springtime. It was nothing. He had a good point. If he came out on the wrong side of that bet with Malia, it's one of the few bets that President Obama has been on the wring side of in the last couple of years.

OLBERMANN: This is what people were talking about when they wondered what it would be like to have young kids and, thus, a young father in the White House again?

CARLSON: Well, I was told by one magazine editor if you put a picture of the family on any story, it automatically gets so many more hits than any other. It is kind of exciting. It is the first time really since the Kennedys that kids that young have been there. I bet the Jonas Brothers were as nervous about meeting the most famous first family as they were about meeting them.

You know, it's going to be hard. These kids look as normal as any kids I have seen, certainly as normal as my own daughter being raised in Washington, D.C. without this all going on. It's going to be hard to stay normal. The downside of their lives, of course, on one side, they have the Jonas Brothers. On the other side, they are going to have to be very polite to Mitch McConnell.

OLBERMANN: Not quite the same thing, meeting Mitch McConnell. Also, they've got to wait for that first day, as we suggest, where there is some newspaper article that's headlined, "The Stimulus Package, What Malia Thinks."

The utterly cynical point of view on this, the subtext of the Obama presidency is this presidential version of father knows best. That helps him politically how much?

CARLSON: Well, it helps him because it's such an appealing sight, you know, any family all getting along and as, you know - looking the way they do. There's a down side to it, if he were to play it hard. During the campaign, he apologized for doing - I think it was a "People Magazine" interview, saying that he shouldn't have done that. No, it was Extra Hollywood or Hollywood Extra, one of those shows.

And they didn't use it too much. You know, politicians don't want you to write about their family, but they use their families to help them during elections. The Obamas so far have it just about right. I don't think they've gone too far.

The kids seem to be well adjusted, kind of advanced for their years, but not precocious. They know who they are and they know they are not adults and they know their place. Many political kids are not like that, I can tell you from having been here so many years.

OLBERMANN: Hopefully Malia has gotten her five dollars. And if not, somebody better ask the president about it in a hurry. Put it in the stimulus package, while there's a chance. As always, thanks Margaret.

CARLSON: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for the 2,090th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. Tomorrow night, from here in Tampa, an exclusive interview with the coach of the Super Bowl favorites, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Tomlin. I'm Keith Olbermann, from Tampa, good night and good luck.