Friday, February 27, 2009

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for February 27, 2009
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons

Guest: Eugene Robinson, Paul F. Tompkins, Matt Cooper, Thomas Ricks, Richard Wolffe

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

The president confirms the reports from Tuesday: Withdrawal from Iraq in 19 months.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: Let me say this as plainly as I can: By August 31st, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.


OLBERMANN: However, up to 50,000 troops will remain, and Republicans, who had branded any timetable the end of the world as we know it, are applauding this one. Richard Wolffe on the politics of the pullout; Thomas Ricks on the practicalities.

Bobby Jindal lied: A spokeswoman admits the "arrest me" story about the rescue boats took place, quote, "in the week after Katrina," and was overheard by Jindal repeated by the sheriff who'd actually done it days earlier.

Conservatives gone wild, day two: CPAC and Tom DeLay to the Limbaugh list - those Americans are now openly rooting for an American depression.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you agree with Rush Limbaugh that we shouldn't hope for President Obama to succeed?



DELAY: I don't want this for our nation.


OLBERMANN: And Tom DeLay may very well be the same one.


JOE WURZELBACHER, "JOE THE PLUMBER": Back in the day, really, when people would talk about our military in a poor way, somebody would shoot 'em.


OLBERMANN: And Joe the martial law advocate says, "Some congressmen and senators are talking about our military in a poor way."

And the crazy woman off camera thinking she is helping the Republican chairman sell the GOP to hip-hop fans is none other than Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, (R) MINNESOTA: Michael Steele, you be the man. You be the man.


OLBERMANN: And finally, air travel has come to this. No frills, no food, no movie, no extra bags, and now, one airline wants to charge you for using - the lavatory. It brings a whole new means to Southwest's catch phrase.


ANNOUNCER: You are now free to move about the country.


OLBERMANN: All that and more - now on Countdown.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surely, you can't be serious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am serious, and don't call me Shirley.


OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening from New York.

It is a war that President Bush not only started but wanted to start and that made no attempt to stop. Our fifth story on the Countdown:

To paraphrase a number that I will still reserve for us at the end of this newshour, five years, nine months and 26 days after President Bush declared "mission accomplished" in Iraq, today, President Obama announcing that the combat mission there would finally end by August 31st, 2010.

The bigger problem - the mission beyond that. Author and "Washington Post" senior military reporter, Thomas Ricks, believing there's a good chance Obama's war in Iraq might last longer than Bush's war there did. Mr. Ricks to join us presently; first, the details.

At Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, the beginning of the end - maybe. President Obama is setting a hard target of more than 90,000 troops out of Iraq in the next 18 months - from 142,000 troops now to between 35,000 and 50,000 by the end of next summer. Under the security agreement negotiated by the Bush administration, all forces to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Secretary Gates is joining Obama for his announcement mission. Onboard Marine One on the way to the base, the President notifying Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki, and minutes before taking the podium, placing a call to former President Bush.

Six years nearly after the beginning of the war he opposed, almost six weeks after taking office, President Obama is drawing a finish line for U.S. military involvement in Iraq.


OBAMA: We have acted with careful consideration of events on the ground; with respect for the security agreements between the United States and Iraq; and with a critical recognition that the long-term solution in Iraq must be political not military - because the most important decisions that have to be made about Iraq's future must now be made by Iraqis.


OLBERMANN: In marked contrast to the stimulus package, President Obama will not have to win over Republicans with his revised withdrawal timetable. Leaders of his own party are resistant. Earlier this evening, he was asked about that weird juxtaposition by Jim Lehrer.


JIM LEHRER, PBS ANCHOR: You're not the least bit uneasy over the fact as John McCain and John Boehner, the Republican leader of the House, have praised your plan while the Democrats are criticizing it?

OBAMA: You know, I don't - I don't make these decisions based on polls or popularity. I make the decisions based on what I think is best. This is consistent with what I said during the campaign. The fact - if anything I think people should be interested in the fact that there's been a movement in the direction of what I thought was going to be the right plan in the first place.


OLBERMANN: Let's look at this from two angles, first with our own political analyst, Richard Wolffe.

Good evening, Richard.


OLBERMANN: "I don't make these decisions based on polls or popularity." Does that sound as Bushian to you as it does to me, and can it possibly be a good thing when we're talking about anything, let alone about Iraq?

WOLFFE: Well, it does sound Bushian. But that's not necessarily in itself the reason to say everything is wrong with this position. I mean, there was a lot in this Jim Lehrer interview that could never have come out of President Bush's mouth. He said that the war was a huge strategic blunder, that it was a massive diversion from the real war against al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He said the civilian leadership had failed where military personnel succeeded.

So, none of those things could ever have come out of President Bush. But when it comes to the polls, look, there's something slightly disingenuous about both President Obama and President Bush saying those things because these are two White Houses that poll everything down to the grassroots here.

It's true that both presidents actually don't make their decisions purely on polls. They present their decisions and shape those decisions, presentations based on the polls. But Bush's problem was not that he was led by polls, but that he made the wrong strategic judgments. I think you have to look at what the substance is more than the expression in this interview.

OLBERMANN: But as Jim Lehrer said in the clip we just played, and it's an obvious point, I guess, Republicans praising the plans and Democrats having the misgivings. Politically, shouldn't the president be worried about that to some degree?

WOLFFE: Well, he should be more worried about how he's going to get those 50,000 troops out of - out of Iraq in the end run. But, you know what's interesting here is the Democrats are actually stepping up in Congress and doing what the majority party should be doing. There isn't the knee-jerk "let's support the commander-in-chief" approach that we saw out of the Republicans. That's exactly what Democrats should be doing.

Should the president be concerned? Well, he should be actually questioned hard about what the purpose of those troops - those remaining troops are. That's what Democrats are concerned. What is their purpose? And it needs to be as clearly defined as he is saying to himself the troops in Afghanistan need to have a mission that is clearly defined. So, yes, he should be concerned about what they're asking about, not where the questions come from.

OLBERMANN: Well, should this be the first, a question here, this emphasis on combat troops versus non-combat troops in a conflict where there really is no frontline? Is the president guilty of mere semantics here? I mean, any American in uniform on the ground there since 2003 has been at risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time when a roadside bomb explodes or any other element of war comes into play.

WOLFFE: No question there is danger for every American troop there in Iraq. But the dangers are much less than they used to be. The rewards are potentially greater.

The question is: Is he staying true to what he was talking about during the election? Yes, he is. And in terms of what the Iraqis are expecting, this wasn't a Republican invasion of Iraq. This was an American invasion. Democrats need to understand that there is a moral responsibility for American troops whether they are led by a Republican commander-in-chief or a Democrat. This war has to be ended in the right way.

And when there was a full-blown civil war, the arguments of pulling out were much greater than they are now. The question is: When do they come out? The president said there was a specific date.

OLBERMANN: And, about that - lastly - about the specific date:

How much room did he give himself to change that if he feels circumstances warrant?

WOLFFE: He has always given himself wiggle room. But I think - the timing is very important here. Both of these dates come just before elections. If he doesn't stick true to those dates, and doesn't explain why he's bumping those dates around, then the voters will get the final say.

OLBERMANN: A great point.

MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe - as always, Richard, thanks great. Have a great weekend.

WOLFFE: Thank you. Thank you, Keith, and you.

OLBERMANN: And his new book, "The Gamble," in that, "Washington Post" special military correspondent Thomas Ricks predicts among other things that U.S. troops will be in Iraq for far longer than most Americans understand even when Obama leaves the White House - whenever that is - that today, we might be only halfway through the conflict there. That, quote, "There is also the alarming possibility that years after a pullout, the U.S. military eventually would have to return to Iraq to fight another war or impose peace on chaos."

And perhaps scariest still, that "the events for which the Iraq war will be remembered probably have not yet happened." You recall that the last book from Mr. Ricks was the number "New York Times" best-seller, "Fiasco," also about the U.S. military conflict in Iraq. Thomas Ricks is joining us again from Washington.

Nice to speak with you again, sir.

THOMAS RICKS, AUTHOR, "THE GAMBLE": It's good to be back.

OLBERMANN: Given your predictions, is the headline today not about the troops that are going to be leaving Iraq by 2010 but about those 50,000 or so who will be staying behind and the question of how long they might stay behind?

RICKS: Exactly. I've got to say, I have a lot of respect for Richard Engel, but I disagree with almost everything he just said. This was a terrific speech; it was the speech that George Bush would have given had he'd been able to give good speeches.

It is a speech not about getting out of Iraq, it was a speech about staying in Iraq. It was about "mission accomplished," about standing down as they stand up, and having 50,000 troops there for many years to come. And there's a lot of semantics in there.

They say, "We'll have the combat troops out." But actually, they're renaming two combat brigades as advisory units, but they're still going to be brigade combat teams. And I asked the White House officially today, "After August of 2010, will American troops still be fighting and dying in Iraq?" And he said, "Yes, they will."

OLBERMANN: You have said -

RICKS: So, the war is not going to be over in 2010.

OLBERMANN: Yes. Well, and you have said previously, to that point, that Iraq is more likely to change Obama than Obama is to change Iraq. With the revision of the withdrawal timetable and the caveats, I guess, you might describe them in today's speech, are we witnessing that change taking place already?

RICKS: I think we saw that today. This was, in many ways, a Bushian speech in which I think Obama has recognized the grim reality. He's inherited the worst foreign policy situation any new president has ever taken on. But the scary thing is, it's not his number one problem. So, he said, "OK, I'm going to suck it up. I'm stuck in Iraq but I'm going to try to get out."

Well, that's exactly what George Bush did for several years.

Bush's core mistake for several years in Iraq was being overly optimistic.

And I fear that Obama is walking in his failed footsteps.

OLBERMANN: Expand on that. What exactly is - other than the idea that he has only 50,000 troops there as of August 2010 and then they're all out by the end of 2011, is there anything else specifically that he is being too optimistic about right now?

RICKS: By my count, this is, I think, the sixth plan I have covered for getting U.S. forces out of Iraq. George Bush did not invade Iraq saying, "I have a great idea, let's go get stuck in a quagmire for 10 years." His idea was to invade Iraq and get out quickly. The original U.S. war plan originally had us down to 30,000 troops by September 2003.

Well, you just heard another president say, "I'll be down to 50,000 troops by August 2010." We'll see. I doubt it.

OLBERMANN: The fewer the troops that are there, are they at - is there a way to assess whether they are at greater risk both in terms of a shooting war, an insurgency, roadside bombs and even their own conduct? Is there a temptation that if there's a smaller unit, a smaller force there, that they might be tempted to behave in a more hard-line fashion as self-defense?

RICKS: I'm not so worried about that - because U.S. troops really have embraced this mission under General Petraeus and General Odierno of counterinsurgency which means protecting the people. But the fewer troops you have, the less able you are to do that. Also, the less able you are to police your allies, to make sure that Iraqi forces are behaving. And you also have less glue holding the country together.

And so, there is more chance of violence breaking out, American troops being overwhelmed by it, especially in Mosul and Kirkuk, the two most worrisome places in Iraq right now.

OLBERMANN: "The events for which the Iraq war will be remembered probably have not yet happened," something you wrote in this book. What sort of events were you imaging when you wrote that?

RICKS: Well, it's actually the last line of the book. It's a quote from Ambassador Ryan Crocker, our top diplomat out there for the last couple of years. And what he was saying is that the prism through which we see this war, with the way we understand this war has not yet been built. We don't know what those events are.

My personal view is that the Iraq we wind up with in five or 10 years is going to be a place that is not a democracy, not an American ally, and run by a strong man - probably tougher, smarter and more adept than Saddam Hussein. So, when the Bushies say, "Well, at least we got rid of Saddam Hussein," we may end up saying, "Yes, but you got an even worse guy in there."

OLBERMANN: A Shakespearian finish, if it comes to that.

Thomas Ricks of the "Washington Post," whom much of his work has been truly prophetic and the rest of it has simply been great. The new one is "The Gamble." Once again, great thanks for your time tonight, sir.

RICKS: You're welcome.

OLBERMANN: Not all the crises of America are crucial, some are not even real. Consider day two of the conservatives' coven, CPAC, where we find symposiums which ask, "Are we all socialists now and will Congress take your guns"; where Michele Bachmann thinks she can help Michael Steele round up the hip-hop vote for the GOP by repeatedly saying to him, "You be the man"; and where Joe the plumber thinks he remembers a time when anybody who talked down American troops could be shot and nobody complained.

You know, Sloppy, that wasn't real. You dreamt it.


OLBERMANN: The new chairman of the Republican National Committee takes to the stage at CPAC, the conservatives' convention in Washington, to say of the last eight years, quote, "My bad." And that might have been the least goofy things said thus far at that event.

Bobby Jindal's story of risking arrest to help a sheriff cut through insurance red tape and get rescue boats going during Katrina, "Not exactly," admits his spokeswoman. In fact, her statement actually suggests he lied.

And in Worsts: When they tried to charge a rebooking fee to one of the survivors of the flight that splashed down in the Hudson River, you knew this had to be inevitable - charging you on the plane to use the toilet.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC. That will be $1.


OLBERMANN: The message emerging from this year's CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference - in our fourth story on the Countdown: Republicans say George W. Bush got away from conservative values by increasing the deficit and expanding the size of government, and that Republicans must get back to the core conservative values like those of Ronald Reagan, who instead expanded the size of government while increasing the deficit.

The new Republican leader, RNC Chair Michael Steele, telling America, "Hey, folks, the last eight years were not the result of Republican values but merely a simple mistake. Eight years, more than $1 trillion and untold lies worth of Republican oopsies." You can actually hear the conservatives laughing when he says this.


MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Tonight, we tell America that Republican values, conservative values are right for America. Tonight, we tell America we know of the past, we know we did wrong. My bad.



OLBERMANN: As you will hear for yourself later in this newshour, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann responded by telling Steele, quote, "You be the man, you be the man." But who really be the man is far from clear.

On the eve of the debut of this ad blasting comedian Rush Limbaugh for hoping that President Obama restores America's economy or hoping he doesn't restore America's economy and criticizing Republicans for making Limbaugh and not Michael Steele their de facto leader, former House Speaker Tom DeLay, at CPAC, was repeating Limbaugh's talking points.


DELAY: The enemy is the left. Not other (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you agree with Rush Limbaugh that we shouldn't hope for President Obama to succeed?

DELAY: Exactly right.


DELAY: I don't want this for our nation. That's for sure.


OLBERMANN: Covering CPAC for is TPM editor-at-large, Matt Cooper, also, contributing editor and columnist for "Conde Nast Portfolio."

Thanks for your time tonight, Matt.


OLBERMANN: Is that the message of CPAC this year, "A," Bush made us do it, and then "B," no, wait, I don't know Bush and then "C," Bush -

Bush who?

COOPER: There was a lot of putting distance between themselves and Bush, Keith. You know, it's interesting. There was no John McCain bashing that I heard of in the two days I've been there. But there were a lot of shots at Bush.

This morning, Newt Gingrich rocked the place with his attack on the Bush/Obama regime. He attacked Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner as a stooge of both Bush and Obama, and lots of other speakers took their shots at Bush, too.

OLBERMANN: Wow. With polls showing that mainstream America wants the Republican Party to help Obama pursue his policies, at least in the short term, does CPAC, overall, give you the sense of a realistic plan to regain the trust of the nation or is it just some sort of plan to take this old message and rebrand it somehow and make it magically fresh and new looking.

COOPER: Keith, there wasn't a lot of self-flagellation or self-doubt among the people I spoke with at the meeting. You know, I think, as you said in the introduction, they're really saying, well, let's go back to tax cuts and Ronald Reagan and all that. I think the only time I heard any sort of rethinking was that one sparsely attended seminar about the Hispanic vote in which all the speakers admitted that the bashing of Hispanics and the opposition to any kind of dealing with these immigrants who are legally here was killing the party. But that was about the only time I heard any sort of rethinking basic principles.

OLBERMANN: On the subject of bashing or rethinking or just thinking, along with the anti-evolution bumper stickers, there was actually a crowd that booed down our old friend, Tucker Carlson, when he was advocating - and I'm not exaggerating this in the slightest - that conservative media should pursue actual facts the way, say, the "New York Times" pursues actual facts. That should be a goal on which any kind of ideology might be built. But you first have to get the facts right.

Is there evidence here that CPAC is less the fringe or the extreme of a mainstream party and now the sort of mainstream of a fringe or extreme party?

COOPER: Well, it is definitely the mainstream of the Republican Party. And there was a lot of shouting down of different things. I did hear the Tucker Carlson remark in which he was attacking the "New York Times" but he did, at least, give them to this conservative audience that they were in the business of fact gathering. And that concession itself was enough to arouse the ire of the crowd.

But earlier today, I heard Ron Paul attacked America's entry into World War I. So, there were no shortage of things that were attacked at this conference.

OLBERMANN: Don't vote Democrat because Woodrow Wilson lied in the 1916 campaign, he didn't keep us out of war.

COOPER: He did talk about that.

OLBERMANN: Last point - somebody who makes Ron Paul seem, I guess, a little less out there, Rush Limbaugh, he speaks tomorrow. Is he in the position to claim "mission accomplished" in sort of owning the GOP? Did CPAC reveal any signs that the fringe sanity wing of the party might still prevail against him?

COOPER: Well, he is - he is an extremely popular voice and he is the final speaker of the conference and will probably get the biggest crowd. So, you know, I think the idea that they are in revolt against their talk-radio wing is far from the case. I mean, he remains just as popular as he was a year ago.

OLBERMANN: I for one would like to welcome our new radio overlords. Matt Cooper of "Talking Points Memo" and "Conde Nast Portfolio" - thank you, Matt, have a good weekend.

COOPER: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Of course, the mudslinging has now infected every corner of the globe. And in one places, they don't understand it's just a metaphor.

And, one airline's possible new slogan, "I told you should have gone before we left," charging to use the toilet, seriously.

Worst Persons is ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment, and in Hitchcock, it was birds. In Santa Monica, it's octopuses.

First, on this night in 1860, an obscure ex-congressman from Illinois gave a speech about three miles from here, in New York City. What he said is careful, personal research on the opinions of a majority of the framers of the Constitution that slavery should not expand as the nation did, vaulted him almost overnight into contention for that year's presidential election. It was Abraham Lincoln's speech at the Cooper Union.

Let's play Oddball.

And we begin near Tokyo, it's not Thunderdome, these men are honoring the gods of rice with a gladiator-style festival in a rice paddy. Uncle Ben never had it so good. The loin cloth participants toss around mud to usher in good health and good fortune. And there mudslinging spares no one.

Right to the face, grandma. After hurling mud at the elderly, opportunity strikes for this time-honored cliche, targeting tourists. Next up, the village's infants. Spare the mud, spoil the child.

In Clifton Forge, Virginia, the continuing trend involving snakes and modes of transportation. Meet Jojo, the boa constrictor, and his owner Sheldon Washington. They are modern day Lassie and Timmy. They are inseparable. They've taken the sights and sounds of the old dominion by bike. Jojo even waits patiently for Mr. Washington as he parks and does errands.

But the residents of Clifton Forge are not taking this laying down; they won't rest until Jojo is in a cage to which Mr. Washington responded, "What do you mean you the think is eventually going to eat me one day?"

And finally, to northern Italy, where the rhythm is going to get you frostbite. Putting a literal spin on cool jazz, these musicians are performing with instruments made out of ice. The melody (ph) sound evokes more than just goose-bumps, think hypothermia. Concert-goers get the privilege of lowering their body temperature by watching the recital inside an igloo while sitting on an ice block. But the evening's highlight came after the extended trumpet solo and the soloist was forced to walk around the town with the trumpet attached to his lips until somebody found a hair dryer. Lick, licko (ph).

The mayor who sent out the e-mail with this in it is now an ex-mayor. And, Joe the ex-plumber says it's to start shooting congressmen and senators. These stories ahead.

But first, time for Countdown's Top Three Best Persons in the World.

Number three: Best delusion. Republican Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Texas is saying on C-SPAN, "I don't think we can figure how to outlaw recessions anymore than we can outlaw tornadoes or outlaw hurricanes. It's a part of freedom. Sometimes freedom can be messy. Sometimes, freedom has reversals, but it certainly beats the alternative."

So we have to have recessions to be free? So when Venezuela and Iran had cataclysmic recessions when oil prices fell, that was because, why, congressman? Because Chavez and Ahmadinejad had offered up too much freedom there?

Number two, best wrong answer, Joseph Takesgun of Buena, Washington, arrested for DUI and a revoked license. Takesgun was being followed by a state trooper named Trevor Dosney when he suddenly turned into a driveway and parked in his car in a garage. Trooper Downey asked Takesgun, what are you doing. Takesgun said, I live here. Trooper Downey said, no, actually you don't. I live here. The DUI drive had somehow managed to park in the trooper's garage.

Number one, best wool pulled over the eyes of the humans, Flo the octopus. Overnight at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium in California, a valve in the octopus tank was opened, flooding the floors of the offices with 200 gallons of water. Flo did it, used her eight arms to pull the valve open.

Spokeswoman Randy Parren (ph) said octopuses, especially Flo, are notorious for fooling around, messing with things. Sure, that is what Flo wants you to think. Grow up, obviously this was the first try at an escape attempt.


OLBERMANN: When legitimate political discourse slides towards the extreme and then just keeps going until it parks somewhere between crazy and scary, it becomes our third story in the Countdown. Joe, not Joe, the plumber, not really a plumber, warmly reminisces about a time when lawmakers could be shot. And Senator Jim Demint thinks his fellow extremists should take to the streets to stop all that socialism.

Joe Wurzelbacher first. At CPAC, Mr. Plumber said that if he were a Congressman, he would, quote, probably be in jail, because he would be, quote, slapping some member. Nice, but there is more. Now stop that. He explained that he would be doing more than just slapping a member who spoke badly of the troops. Quote, "back in the day, really, when people would talk about our military in a poor way, somebody would shoot them and there'd be nothing said about that, because they knew it was wrong."

What day was that, Joe? 44 BC? Yet, there's another CPAC contender for the most out there award, Senator Jim Demint, Republican of South Carolina, told his audience that President Obama is, quote, the world's best salesman of socialism, and conservatives might need to, quote, take to the streets to stop America's slide into socialism.

Meanwhile, back at the be careful about certain e-mails ranch, there is Mayor Dean Gros (ph) of Los Alamedos, in California, having apologized for sending around this racist watermelon joke. The mayor has now announced his resignation, effective the 2nd of March.

Let's call in "Washington Post" columnist and also an MSNBC political analyst, Gene Robinson. Good evening, Gene.


OLBERMANN: Part one of what are they thinking, to whom outside this core of extremists do they think they are appealing and they think believe them with some of this stuff, particularly Wurzelbacher, about the good old days when you could just shoot a Congressman for talking bad about the troops?

ROBINSON: I'm thinking maybe this is all directed at the suits at Comedy Central. And this is all some sort of giant appeal for a show, you know, CPAC live. This is getting really bizarre and entertaining, in a sense. It would be more entertaining, I think, if there weren't this sort of sinister edge to it, you know, about shooting and the good old days and, you know, that awful racist e-mail that got sent around.

This is some sort of psychic implosion, I think, that is taking place in one of our two major parties.

OLBERMANN: Plus taking to the streets. I suppose, if you said it mildly enough, it is just protesting. But that doesn't sound like what he is talking about, just protesting, when Demint says that. That leads to what are they thinking, part two. In some private moment, has it occurred to anybody in there that these remarks are, in fact, bordering on the incendiary, that between this and a poll at the Sean Hannity website about which kind of revolution you would like, that there might just be an incitement to violence here?

ROBINSON: You have to hope that this has occurred to somebody that this is way out of line beyond the pale. So far, I have got to say, there is no evidence of that. We're not hearing respected figures in the Republican party coming out to denounce this sort of - I was going to say loose language, but really insane language and ahistorical language and just general craziness.

We're not hearing that. Maybe it is not occurring to people. Maybe the elders of the party are just kind of worried about trying to get their act together and not paying such close attention.

OLBERMANN: When you are paying attention to somebody like Joe Wurzelbacher, who was plucked out of the middle of nowhere as a campaign stunt, and is suddenly being given voice, when he seems to have genuine delusions about American history. It is something he might have seen in a movie somewhere. I don't know where he gets some of this stuff. But when you are going to him for guidance, shouldn't there be somebody in the back of the room going, I don't think this guy knows what he is talking about?

ROBINSON: Everybody should be. I was going to make a crack about Joe longing for the days of the Alien and Sedition Acts or something like that. But he wouldn't have a clue what I was talking about, so it would be a complete loss. The guy is an idiot. And the fact that he gets this sort of forum to be, frankly, an idiot - and I think I'm speaking objectively here - is truly amazing and speaks to a certain -

You know, you could say that conservatism was the fountain of ideas for 20 years in this country. They might have been bad ideas or good ideas, but they were ideas. This is incoherence. These are not ideas. This is just blather and it is kind of dangerous blather.

OLBERMANN: And he shows up to a book signing the day before CPAC opens and sells five books in Washington, D.C. There is at least - it appears - this is the weird thing about this, in light of my next question, it appears the public is, as usual, well ahead of the politicians, particularly well ahead of - the more politicians you get in one room, the more likely it is that the average American is five years ahead of them, rather than four years one at a time.

In the campaign cries of socialism and sometimes socialism married to racism, these things failed and now the socialism charge is back. It is only four months ago that it failed, and yet they returned to it. Is that desperation, stupidity, brain damage, short-term memory loss? What causes that?

ROBINSON: Well, if you listen to the words of Albert Einstein, who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then I suppose it would be insanity. The socialism thing they tried when he was a candidate. It didn't work. It is certainly not going to work when he is president.

Somebody in that movement needs to think of something new to say that fits today's reality, and people's vision of what is actually happening in the world, as opposed to what is happening inside these fevered rooms at CPAC. Until that happens, more insanity.

OLBERMANN: That sentence might have ended after the word think. They need to think. Gene Robinson of the "Washington Post" and MSNBC, as always, Gene, a pleasure. Have a good weekend.

ROBINSON: You too, Keith.

OLBERMANN: The votes are in. The winner of your 2009 Defender of the Constitution Award is comedian Rush Limbaugh. One question about this, which Constitution? Rush's or the one belonging to the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks?

The Wil-E-Coyote of talk radio again denouncing something the Democrats put into the stimulus that he himself previously denounced Democrats for not supporting. Worst persons ahead.

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, why all this talk at CPAC of socialism is really code for Obama means the rapture is coming and thus the end of the world. Bring a hat.

But first, because they may be gone, but their deeds outlive them, the headlines emerging from the previous administration's 50 running scandals, expanded tonight to include new scandals, honoring the spirit of the 43rd president, Still Bushed.

Number three, bail out-gate. The Bush bank bailout is turning out, indirectly, to be the Bush basketball bailout. The "Forbes Business Journal" reporting that several weeks ago, two banks went to the National Basketball Association and said, if any of your franchises are in a little trouble, we can offer you a loan to you of 175 million dollars at attractive rates. The banks are J.P. Morgan and Bank of America.

I know the idea is to get credit flowing again. But right now, what is flowing is our money through Citibank into a new baseball stadium in New York and through Bank of America into the Sacramento Kings and the Orlando Magic.

Number two, Jindal-gate. You will recall in his Republican response to President Obama's speech on Tuesday night, the governor of Louisiana implied that right after Katrina hit, he was helping the Jefferson Parrish Sheriff, the later Harry Lee, fight red tape to get rescue boats out to those stranded by flooding. Both of them risking arrest by standing up to the man.

The story fell apart when researchers reminded us that Jindal was 75 miles away in Baton Rouge at Katrina time. Today, a Jindal spokesperson changed the time frame. It was days later, she said, in the week following Katrina. Then she changed the immediacy of the event. Now the sheriff is yelling on the phone about a decision he's already made, not one he is making as Jindal is shoulder to shoulder with him, holding back the waves with his bear hands. In other words, the governor lied like hell on Tuesday.

Number one, contract-gate. The Government Accountability Office is out with a new internal report saying that during the Bush administration a group of companies which had been banned from receiving federal contracts because they defrauded the nation or put American lives at risk got new contracts anyway. One company had been banned after it was found to have installed faulty, potentially fatal fasteners on steam pipes on board the Aircraft Carrier USS John F. Kennedy. They continued to get contracts anyway.

A manufacture of body armor was banned because its body armor simply did not work. Not only did it keep getting contracts, but during its investigation, the GAO was still able to place orders with that company. Companies got contracts after being banned for falsely labeling chemicals, banned for massive tax fraud, banned for false filings with the SEC, banned for Medicaid fraud, banned for using insider information, banned for illegally selling materials to North Korea.

So how did the Bush administration do this? Some of it was accidental, a computer search engine glitch. But also, there was the time the Bush Veterans Administration just didn't bother to use that computer search engine, and the time the Bush Pentagon simply ignored the conviction of the company that tried to sell stuff to the North Koreans. The stuff, by the way, was aluminum tubing, the same stuff, when it turned up in Iraq, that Mr. Bush used as a reason to claim that Saddam Hussein was ready to produce a nuclear bomb.


OLBERMANN: Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann responds to Republican Chairman Michael Steele's plan to look for votes among hip-hop voters by saying to him, "you be the man, you be the man." Did you ever get the feeling that if somebody went into that conservative convention swearing only to talk to the sane people, he would never have to open his mouth?

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

The bronze to Bill-O the Clown. For the first time since he implied they might have been fixed to make him look bad, he is lying about the ratings again. "As Americans become more fearful about the economy and the drastic changes at the federal level, they are increasingly watching Fox News. In fact, at 8:00 MSNBC has collapsed, down almost 50 percent in the key 25-54 demo since the October run up to the election."

Call Andrea Mackris, Bill is fantasizing again. Compare the 17 weeks since the election to the 17 week run up to the election, we here are down 17 percent and B.O. is down 15 percent. Compare the 17 weeks since the election to the same 17 weeks this time last year, we are up 62 percent since last year and B.O. is only up 40 percent. Seriously, Bill, don't try to cook the books. We'll make you look stupid every time, like right now.

The runner-up, Glenn Beck. We all laughed the first time he attacked the carbon capture projects in the stimulus package, branding them earmarks, and saying, I don't even know what the hell that is. He has done it again, derisively saying, "the spending bill, clean of earmarks, has 800 million dollars for carbon capture projects."

Glenn, carbon capture projects, that's clean coal technology. Last June, you claimed the Democrats, "controlled by the radical environmental special interest groups," were blocking clean coal technology. You support clean coal technology, nit wit.

But our winner, Michael O'Leary, chief executive officer of Ryan Air of Ireland, Europe's biggest budget airline. It already charges for beverages, boarding first, overhead stowing of bags, checking bags and checking in. There was only one thing left. "One thing we have looked at in the past, and are looking at again is the possibility of maybe putting in a coin slot on the toilet door, so that people might actually have to spend a pound.

So if you are on a Ryan Air flight and you have to blank, you might as well go blank on their carpet, because clearly Ryan Air is ready to blank on you. Michael O'Leary, CEO of pay toilet airlines, today's worst person in the world!


OLBERMANN: Let's just say this plainly, the nut jobs have really been coming out of the woodwork and heartily marking their territory. Our number one story, at CPAC, which is clearly providing more material than can be crammed into one news hour, a prize will be given out tomorrow, the Defender of the Constitution Award. The recipient, comedian Rush Limbaugh. You mean his personal constitution, like in his overall health?

But for sheer hilarity, what rivals Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, turning to the podium after Michael Steele, wherein she tries to get down with it.


BACHMANN: Michael Steele you be the man. You be the man. Michael Steele, you be the man. You be the man.


OLBERMANN: Congresswoman Bachmann also wants to reinvent that whole Boston Tea Party Thing.


BACHMANN: You may have noticed in the last three weeks or so, Congress decided to spend about 1.5 trillion of your dollars? Anybody notice that? Did a little bit of spending. I just wondered that if our founders thought taxation without representation was bad, what would they think of representation with taxation? I don't know what is going to happen.


OLBERMANN: Briefly, they rebelled against taxation without representation. As you just noted, congresswoman, today we have taxation with representation. So the - listen to me trying to talk sense to an android. Bachmann was serving as the MC last night. But the pinnacle of CPAC festivities arrives tomorrow, when, as in years past, the organization will conduct its presidential preference straw poll, and the nail biting results will be unveiled right before comedian speaks.

He's actually delivering the conference's final remarks. Paging Joe the slapper, Joe the Slapper to the podium, please. Let's bring in the host of VH-1's "Best Week Ever," comedian Paul F. Tompkins. Good evening, Paul.

PAUL F. TOMPKINS, VH-1: Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Let's toss in another layer of context here, the RNC chair, Mr. Steele, has said that he wants Republicans to appeal to "urban, suburban hip-hop settings." So suddenly Congresswoman Bachmann's you be the man thing makes perfect sense?

TOMPKINS: It makes a ton of sense if you remember that Michelle Bachmann is the godmother of suburban hip-hop. What I love about that appealing to urban, suburban hip-hop types - in the comma between urban and suburban, you can just hear him say, we already lost those people. It goes so fast. Urban, forget about it. Suburban hip-hop.

OLBERMANN: Of course, she is also known as Left Eye Bachmann. Goodness knows, the RNC outreach program to African-Americans, to gays, to lesbians, to Hispanics, this has gone really well, right?

TOMPKINS: Oh yes. Between African-Americans, gays and Hispanics, at this point, they only consider one of those people abominations before God. That is progress in a way. Hopefully, in the next century, maybe CPAC will consider gay people to be three fifths not abominable.

OLBERMANN: Very nice. Which brings us to full abominability (ph) and comedian Rush Limbaugh. Honestly, I had to wonder if the award is actually about his physical constitution, because if someone actually thinks he is defending the paper one on which the government is based, there is no hope for that bunch. There may be no hope for this country.

TOMPKINS: For me, it is not so much that they are giving Rush Limbaugh bogus awards. It is more, how is Rush Limbaugh still around? It is 2009. Even Art Bell had the sense to reduce his radio presence.

OLBERMANN: Reduction has never been number one on Rush's list. Never mind. I can't throw that argument out too long, without getting trapped in it myself here. Let's move on to the idea - this is apparently the only award they are giving out. What other ones could they be considering here for CPAC?

TOMPKINS: Probably stuff like whitest patriot, or most flag fetishizing. If they had some self-awareness, they could give out fun awards like screwiest ball or crackedest pot.

OLBERMANN: And best Sarah Palin impression, without the glasses, Michelle Bachmann, and with the glasses, Tina Fey. Joe the slapping Plumber, much like former Senator Zell Miller, it sounds like he is hoping to challenge somebody to a duel. Is he helping? He has talked about running for office. And the book has already sold five, ten copies. Do you hurt your political chances in the conservative movement by going around saying, I want to shoot people?

TOMPKINS: Yes, I want to say this to Joe: Joe, nobody is talking bad about the troops, nobody. I'm in show business. I'm not hearing anybody talk bad about the troops. You can't just set up straw hippies that are going around bad mouthing the troops. It is not happening. I know you want to shoot people. But you can't.

OLBERMANN: It is possible Joe falls asleep a lot during the day and what he dreams he thinks actually happens, because none - there's a huge disconnect going on. Ultimate commentary on this, Paul, CPAC, clearly, the first two days have been epically off the deep end. But Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal were not there. That is, in its own sort of counter-intuitive way, impressive, is it not?

TOMPKINS: Oh, yes, absolutely. I'm sure - I think this is sort of like when Shelly Long left "Cheers." People thought, how are they going to continue without her. But look, these people are absolutely out of their minds.

OLBERMANN: How do you top a week like this? What could they possibly do next, secede?

TOMPKINS: If they don't like the way things are going, it's possible they may have to submit themselves to the rule of Shaquille O'Neal and emigrate to the land of Twitter-onia.

OLBERMANN: Paul F. Tompkins, host of VH-1's "Best Week Ever," and former ambassador to Twitter-onia, great thanks. Have a great weekend.

TOMPKINS: You too, Keith. Thank you.

OLBERMANN: That is Countdown for this the 2,120th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for February 26, 2009
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons

Guest: Chris Hayes, Robert Reich, Janeane Garofalo, Aisha Tyler, Howard Fineman

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

Republicans in crisis: The Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, under way, Romney, Sanford, Pawlenty with key speeches; governors Palin and Jindal - not attending.

But, Joe the Plumber showed up and spoke today in a side room - even he is bitter.


JOE WURZELBACHER, "JOE THE PLUMBER": I don't see anybody as far as a leader in the Republican Party right now.


OLBERMANN: You know what else he doesn't see? Customers. Book-signing for his new book in Washington - and he sells 11 books.

Another honest count: The 2010 budget, with a debt of $1.75 trillion, because he will not use the Bush accounting trick of not counting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: We need to be honest with ourselves about what costs are being racked up, because that's how we'll come to grips with the hard choices that lie ahead.


OLBERMANN: Comedian Rush Limbaugh's hard choice: He has trouble with women, convenes a summit to figure out why only 37 percent of them like him. Might it have to do with calling all the ones he dislikes "Femi-nazis," and all the ones he likes "hot"? Janeane Garofalo is here to analyze.

Oh, and, Rush, Mark Sanford of South Carolina just indirectly called you an idiot. "Anybody who wants him," Obama, "to fail is an idiot."

Bushed: The anthrax in the anthrax letters does not match the anthrax in the alleged dead anthrax doctor's flask.

Worsts: The Colorado state senator who says, quote, "What I'm hoping is that, yes, that person may have AIDS."

And the inevitable blowback tonight after Governor Bobby Jindal is compared to Kenneth the Page, he's not happy - I mean, Kenneth the Page.


KENNETH PARCELL, "KENNETH THE PAGE": This Jindal guy sounds like a real goober-natorial representative.



OLBERMANN: All that and more - now on Countdown.

(on camera): Good evening from New York.

Imagine a place where an entire ballroom of people cheers when someone makes the repeatedly disproven accusation that the president of the United States is not a citizen of this country he leads, then they laugh when a former ambassador to the U.N. suggests that the same president might learn a valuable lesson if Chicago were to be destroyed by a nuclear device - a place where boxes upon boxes of racist Obama waffles cereal are once again openly, proudly available for sale.

That place - in our fifth story on the Countdown - is the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, home to your 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference better known as CPAC. In 2008 election, Republicans having warned vote for Obama and you will die; today, Mr. Bush's U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, never confirmed, all but saying, "Because you have voted for Obama, get ready to die."

"The Mustache" is warning that the security of the U.S. is now a dire risk under the Obama administration, and underscoring his point by cracking a joke about Obama's hometown.


JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.N. AMBASSADOR: The fact is on foreign policy I don't think President Obama thinks it's a priority. He said during the campaign he thought Iran was a tiny threat. Tiny depending on how many nuclear weapons they're ultimately able to deliver on target. It's tiny compared to the Soviet Union. But is the loss of one American city - pick one at random, Chicago - is that a tiny threat?



OLBERMANN: In fact, Ambassador, get your facts straight. Mr. Obama called Iran a tiny country and never a tiny threat.

But the only thing that did make sense at CPAC, as far as the attendance today at a panel, featuring Joe the Plumber Wurzelbacher. The room is said to only be about a quarter-full.

At a book-signing in Washington last night, fewer than a dozen people showed up to hear Wurzelbacher speak. He was scheduled to sign books and chat for three hours. He was gone after 55 minutes and I'll correct myself. The number of books he sold was not 11, it was five.

At CPAC today, Wurzelbacher is telling NBC News he is concerned about the Republican Party's future, especially in 2012, unless it seems if Governor Palin is in the running.


WURZELBACHER: If she ran, I would support her wholeheartedly. But, essentially, I don't see anybody with a firm - I don't see anybody as far as a leader in the Republican Party right now. No one's - they are afraid to say anything. They're more worried about being politically correct. They're more worried about their special interest groups. They are not worried about the American people. No way, no shape do I ever hear anything about that. They talk a good game but I see no actions.


OLBERMANN: Then that the GOP is in the midst of an identity crisis, now, the party with six years - tick, tick, tick - to avoid candidate Wurzelbacher.


WURZELBACHER: I will consider in about six years when my son is Ohio State. It's a lot of work, and it's a job that's very important. And I would take it as serious it is. It would be as a servant and not as somebody that feels entitled.


OLBERMANN: Time now to call in Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine.

Howard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Did they - did CPAC not pay for oxygen this year? What .


OLBERMANN: What went on there?

FINEMAN: Well, it's funny you mention oxygen, because I was over there and that sometimes you think you need to be in a deep diving bell, suit, you know .


FINEMAN: . because you are going way far down into the deep ocean of American life.

But, you know, for the people there, they don't - they think they are the regular people. I mean, I got this button here that says: we're the regular - it's the regular folks versus the liberal elites. They're the regular folks. I guess that leaves you and me out of it.

But, you know, they had a lot of people registered there. They had 8,000. They claimed that they had their largest registration ever even if people didn't turn out to see Joe the Plumber.

They are lost at sea, to use my metaphor from before. But, in an odd way, they are kind of happy about it because they know they've got a lot of work to do and there's a whole generation of people, kids frankly, who grew up in the Reagan-Bush years, who really are yearning for leadership, and they know they don't have it right now.

OLBERMANN: Even those kids from that time, how exactly in their minds would the nuclear destruction of Chicago teach President Obama a lesson? Or how is that funny?

FINEMAN: Well, the conservative humor movement consists of one person, Christopher Buckley - and I'm not sure if he would be caught at CPAC. Outside of that, it doesn't exist. It's not funny.

But this is at the core of what's left of what used to be a very interesting and very, you know, ideas-oriented movement that took many years of decades of wandering in the ideological wilderness to figure out who they were, through people like Bill Buckley and others and Ronald Reagan, whose diaries, by the way, if you read them are full of interesting ideas and lots of thinking. They are reduced to fear, Keith.

This is what they tried to run - what they ran on in 2004 with George Bush. It's what they tried to run on in 2008. It's what they're - it's kind of like the last little thing they've got, that, plus opposition to any taxes of any kind. That's all they've got and it's not funny.

OLBERMANN: But they do also have a problem here of throwing the past versions of themselves under the bus - President Bush not at CPAC, including by Ambassador Bolton. Is there a disconnect there? And does anybody sit there and go - well, yes, we are disavowing everything we represented three months ago?

FINEMAN: Well, it's very interesting. I think the undercurrent of anger about all the Republican leadership, including George Bush, was one of the most interesting things about CPAC today. They are angry at George Bush and at the Republican leadership in the Congress, for among other things, the unbelievable profligate spending of the Bush years. George Bush didn't veto a single piece of spending legislation. The Republican leadership when they had control, waved through all kinds of spending with all kinds of budgetary tricks that Barack Obama is trying to fess up to and change now.

So, the conservative bedrock is very angry at the Republican leadership including George W. Bush. There were lots of negative comments about Bush and all the current Republican leadership on the Hill, especially Eric Cantor, who a lot of them view as a great sound bite artist but a guy who doesn't have any real thoughts unlike the hero of CPAC who remains Newt Gingrich.

OLBERMANN: But the conservatives are not the Republicans, and the Republicans are not the conservatives.


OLBERMANN: How could they possibly compete with a fairly organized and unified Democratic liberal left-wing base?

FINEMAN: Well, they can't right now. There's a total disconnect between the party politics and the conservative base. And that's what the Republican candidates, who are going to be trooping through, are going to try to reconnect. But it's not going to be that easy because a lot of these people are very skeptical even of the Republican Party right now, and that's a sign of a both a party and a movement that's in disarray.

OLBERMANN: Yes. When you hear that from Joe Wurzelbacher and he sounds fairly thoughtful on this subject, you know there's a lot of trouble in that room.


OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of MSNBC and "Newsweek" - thanks for getting me the pin and as always, great thanks for being with us.

FINEMAN: Thanks, Keith. I'll send it to you.

OLBERMANN: Thank you.

Also, on the docket at CPAC, at 2:30 this afternoon, Al Franken and ACORN, how liberals are destroying the American election system. The never-ending Minnesota Senate campaign is morphing into the campaign to discredit Senator-elect Franken and try to force another election in Minnesota. In a conservative talk radio interview, former Senator Coleman is floating the idea of a runoff as something that some folks are now talking about. By "some folks," he meant one newspaper editorial and his lawyer.

The last week, a disastrous one for Coleman in the Minnesota recount trial. No coincidence then that Coleman's lawyer, Ben Ginsberg, now stepping up his rhetoric, declaring the whole election tainted and refusing to rule out a runoff or replay election.

Meanwhile, in Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Reid calling on Coleman to concede, adding that the Democrats are prepared to seat Al Franken as soon as the beginning of April, regardless of whether former Senator Coleman has filed and appeal to this court case, when he loses it. Senator Reid is also suggesting that former Senator Coleman talk with Nevada Republican John Ensign, who lost his initial run for the Senate in 1988 to Harry Reid and then won the state's other Senate seat two years later, quoting Senator Reid, "John Ensign wound up as a real hero in Nevada."

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

Good evening, Chris.


OLBERMANN: Coleman did not start calling for the runoff or replay until his legal team suffered setback after setback after setback in this recount trial. That's a coincidence, I'm sure.

HAYES: Oh, yes, totally a coincidence. I mean, this has been by the book, totally a commitment to process and principle from the Coleman people from the beginning.


HAYES: I'm obviously being sarcastic. I think that, you know, basically, they are essentially trying to run out the clock. I mean, I think it's important to realize that there's two possible goals here, right? One is - become the senator from Minnesota. I actually don't think they themselves realize or think there's going to be much of a possibility of that.

The other thing is just to deny the Democrats that 59th vote. And I actually think that's much more of what's at play here as long as they can continue to drag their feet, as long as they can drag out the legal process, the Democrats are lacking that very crucial 59th vote in the Senate.

OLBERMANN: Yes. But they're not going to run out the clock to 2015, so, I mean, and the part of this is - there has been some enabling by the Democrats. Why have we not heard more and more loudly up until this point?

HAYES: It's a really good question. I mean, I think, look, I think they thought they were focused on the stimulus and I think they thought if they can get - they could get enough votes to get through the stimulus, then, OK, we'll deal with the Coleman issue after we get that through. Well, the stimulus passed. They got three Republican votes. Now, it's time to deal with this issue.

I mean, at a real basic sort of representative small "d" Democratic levels, the people of Minnesota really do deserve a senator. I mean, it's no small thing. There's a lot of very important legislation moving through Congress right now, and I think the people of Minnesota deserve to be represented.

Now, it was a really close race and, you know, he had a lot of objections. But at a certain point, you know, you have to say, "Enough is enough." And it seems like several months, you know, three, four months after this election, that that might be the time right about now.

OLBERMANN: Is there any chance he's going to concede because - I mean, a man who could say when he was up 221 votes, that a recount was too costly, but when he's down 225 votes, he now wants the state to have a whole new election. Would that be a fool's bet to say that, at some point, is he's just going to say - all right, you know, Chris Hayes, you are absolutely right?

HAYES: Well, yes. I mean, I know - I know former Senator Coleman really takes my advice to heart, generally.


HAYES: So, I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case.

No, I mean, I don't know - I really don't know what the end game is for them. I really do think that from the perspective of the Republicans as a group right now, every day wasted, every day foot-dragging, every day that you can kind of obstruct and get the wheels of government stuck in the mud - is a victory. That's the only victory they can hope for at this point.

They're not going to pass anything they like, right? They're not going to get anything out of the Barack Obama administration, I think, on domestic policy, particularly, that's going to really endear their donors. What they can do is just try to kind of stick their spook in the wheels.

And I think Coleman is just one element of a larger strategy to do that.

OLBERMANN: But if the roles were reversed and the Republicans were in the lead, what would the reaction be like from the Democrats? And what will the reaction be like from the Republicans? Would there - is there no recent role model here like, you know, Al Gore?

HAYES: Absolutely. I mean, Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has been making this point that, essentially, what he calls the "paragovernment" in Washington, which is all kind of the institutional leaps around government.

The town remains wired for Republicans. It still listens to Republican talking points. We saw this in the stimulus and we had all these Republicans on the cable networks talking all the time about, you know, their objection to this part of the stimulus.

That still permeates the kind of institutional structure of elite consensus opinion in Washington despite that massive change in public opinion about how people feel about conservative ideas and the Republican Party, the smaller kind of insular beltway establishment is still is far more willing to cut Republicans slack than actual voters at large are.

OLBERMANN: Chris Hayes of "The Nation," would-be adviser to Norm Coleman, the former senator from Minnesota.


OLBERMANN: Thanks, as always, Chris.

HAYES: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: So, there is that big steaming pile of hypocrisy. But there's another one perhaps even more disturbing tonight. Sean Hannity has a show call "Hannity's America." Yet on his Web site, a viewer or listener has posted a poll asking those in "Hannity's America," which kind of violent revolution they would like to see topple the dually-elected government of America. Partial results: Secession only has 36 percent of the vote.


OLBERMANN: Barack Obama's budget problem - he won't lie and claim Iraq and Afghanistan should not count against it. And then the disturbing discovery on Sean Hannity's Web site, a poll asking people which kind of revolution they favor in this country.

I'm giving it away. There's a clear winner in Worst Persons, tonight on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: In eight long years, President Bush not only turned a surplus into a deficit, he simultaneously tanked the entire American economy. Today, in our fourth story: President Obama outlined his first budget, phase one of a long-term plan to reduce the deficit and restore the economy, one in which - no surprise, he's going to have to spend money to make money - leading Republicans, who sent us into the ground and now no longer have the right to do any spending, to complain about big spending.

House Republican Leader John Boehner, quote, "This president is beginning to make President Bush look like a piker." What did Bush look like before?

Senate Budge Committee ranking Republican Judd Gregg, who rejected Obama's offer of the secretary of commerce job, calling the budget a halfhearted attempt of deficit reduction, saying, quote, "It raises taxes on all Americans." It's just too bad there was nobody in the cabinet to say so Mr. Secretary - sorry, Senator. And raising taxes for all Americans - really?


OBAMA: Will save billions of dollars by rolling back tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while giving a middle-class tax cut to 95 percent of hard-working families.


OLBERMANN: Well, there is your definition of "all Americans," according to Republicans, the top 5 percent.

Obama sent Congress a budget today totaling $4 trillion in spending, a deficit of $1.75 trillion. Why is that so fantastically high? Because this president is not only foreswearing past budget tricks that made them look smaller, he's including two things in the budget and Mr. Bush never did.


OBAMA: Large sums have been left off the books, including the true cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that kind of dishonest accounting is not how you run your family budgets at home; it's not how your government should run its budgets, either.


OLBERMANN: Unlike Mr. Bush, funding billions in savings by no longer funneling it to big business, ending subsidies to big farm business, saving $4 billion by lending to college students directly rather than paying big banks to do that, and reducing Medicare overpayments to insurance companies and hospitals, and benefits for wealthy seniors, reducing tax loopholes and benefits for rich people and companies that send American jobs overseas.

For some reaction here, let's bring in Robert Reich, labor secretary in the Clinton administration, economic adviser to the Obama campaign, and the author of "Supercapitalism."

Welcome back to the program, sir.


OLBERMANN: So, here it is, maybe you can answer that question about how I am by answering this one. First Democratic budget in nine years, how does it feel and how does handle out there on the road?

REICH: Well, it feels - I mean, big relief, actually, because, you know, nobody - I don't know anybody who actually reads budgets. I don't know if you do. I don't think I want to meet anybody who actually reads budgets.

But budgets, as a document, you know, they express the priorities of an administration. And for years we've had a budget that cut taxes on the rich but not for anybody else, that gave corporate welfare to agri-businesses and to pharmaceutical companies, but actually didn't provide anything by way of health insurance for most people who lacked it, or any relief for anybody else for that matter. And finally, we have a budget that actually, instead of a top-down supply side economics trickle-down budget, is a bottom-up, grassroots, help-the-actual-public budget for a change.

OLBERMANN: And other than actually giving the correct figure of how much money we are spending as a nation, what does Obama including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the budget mean?

REICH: Well, there is a major truth in budgeting issue here. It is impossible for the public to understand how much we are spending on the military. If all that is included in the budget, as it has been for years, is just the cost of maintaining a military, not the cost of actually using the military.

So, Obama thinks a democracy works better if people know exactly how much we are paying for using a military and not just maintaining it. And so, that number is going to be large and that is responsible.

OLBERMANN: From your own experience with this and what you can see from your vantage point now, what is the point of the nature of this Republican opposition to it? I mean, what do they actually hope to accomplish and why, by the end of the budget process?

REICH: Well, I think two things, Keith. First of all, they want to keep their base together. They are going to say tax-and-spend, tax-and-spend, tax-and-spend, even though as Howard Fineman pointed out before, the budget during the Bush administration was basically a big, big spending budget.

But they also have their eyes on 2010. They had their eyes on the midterm election and they are taking a huge gamble. It is not totally unreasonable gamble, unfortunately, that the recession is still going to be with us in 2010.

And they are going to be able to say to the public, just as Newt Gingrich did in 1994 when he took on, you know the Clinton administration, they are going to be able to say to the public - look, we've said cut taxes for everybody. We've said don't spend all of this money. Don't go into debt. We have the better idea and now try us.

And so, they are hoping to gain seats in 2010 and make that the beginning of maybe a resurgence. It's a big, big gamble.

OLBERMANN: All right. But - so, now, the other end of the gamble. Why is - why is the president correct, in your opinion, in going the other way and saying we have to spend money to make money?

REICH: Well, because there is a huge gap right now, Keith, between the capacity of the country, in terms of a full employment economy, to produce goods and services and the amount that consumers and businesses are actually demanding of the economy. And as we learned in the 1930s, painfully, unless government steps in as the purchaser of last resort, then we are not going to get people back to work, we're not going to be able to grow the economy again. I mean, Roosevelt's big problem until the Second World War was he didn't spend enough. Herbert Hoover wanted to balance the budget, talk about a stupid idea at that time.

OLBERMANN: Robert Reich, the former Clinton labor secretary, author of "Supercapitalism" - as always, sir, I end up thinking I know a little something on this topic whenever we talk. Thank you for that.

REICH: Thanks, Keith. Bye.

OLBERMANN: This is Bonnie the orangutan. Bonnie has taught herself how to do something we thought only humans knew how to teach themselves to do.

And, speaking of that, the mind reels, Sean Hannity somehow thinking it is appropriate on his Website, a poll asking his fans which kind of revolution they would like to see in this country. You heard me.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment. And Captain Sullenberger meet "Flat Stanley."

First, on this date in 1933, was born Godfrey Cambridge, who turned down a scholarship to mid-school to become a brilliant actor and standup comedian, whom we lost to a heart attack at the age of 43. He gave one of the most haunting performances of all time in the extraordinary 1970 film, "Watermelon Man," where he portrayed a virulent white bigot who wakes up the next morning black.

Let's play Oddball.

We begin in the National Zoo in Washington, where Bonnie here has begun to pass the time in her cage by whistling. Scientists say orangutans like Bonnie can be taught to just put their lips together and blow. But Bonnie, whose soft whistle you hear in the background there, started doing it on her own with no prompting and no lessons. The zoo thinks she might be mimicking whistling co-workers or she is just really into that scene from her favorite movie, "Monty Python's Life of Brian."


OLBERMANN: To the Internets and Oddball crime stoppers report - this is surveillance video from an unnamed, unidentified grocery store somewhere in the nation. An apparent shoplifter has been thwarted by store security until the perp tries to make a break for it and loses his shirt. And clearly, the alleged crook was also doing crack.

He could have gotten away if he only let the security guy win the battle of the sweatshirt tug. Unfortunately, that was his best sweatshirt, and shoppers eventually helped tackle the guy to the ground. Throw him to the floor. Paper or plastic, punk, because you just got bagged.

Comedian Rush Limbaugh can't figure out why women don't like him. Maybe because when one of them said that maybe he should not call them "babes," he replied, "I need to lighten up for crying out loud. Why do I have to change who I am? Why can't they just lighten up? Infobabe! Why can't they just laugh?" That might be your problem right there.

And, the Kenneth the Page-Bobby Jindal comparison. He is not happy.

There's no word on the governor's reaction.

These stories ahead, but first time for Countdown's top three best persons in the world. Number three, Michael Calderone, media columnist at I put him on the worsts list last night and requested an apology, because he had written that when the words "oh god" were heard on this network just before the start of Governor Jindal's speech Tuesday night, quote, it sounded like, unquote, me. He now writes, "I will apologize to Olbermann for initially pointing the finger at him, without having it confirmed. Even though I updated the original item within a few minutes to say it was unclear. It is never all right in journalism to assume."

Professionally and courteously handled, and gratefully accepted.

Number two, best actors, 18 teenage performers in St. Ives, in England, who decided to publicize their upcoming presentation of "Romeo and Juliet" by staging the seven brawl between the Montague and Capulet families in the city's market square. Shoppers in the market were apparently terrified. "They must be good" said a Cambridge police officer. We had two calls from people who thought it was real.

Number one, best Flat Stanley adventure. You know about Flat Stanley. Kids around the world send his familiar cartoon figure, along with adults, in hopes that Stanley will send them letters or emails about the places he goes and the people he meets. Last December, Gina Kemp, a third grader in Erlanger, Kentucky, sent Stanley, along with her family friend Eric Stevenson, who was going to New York.

Part of the e-mail Gina finally got, "after several days in Paris, I went to New York. After that, I was on a plane, landed in the river near New York. At the time, I was in Eric's briefcase. Luckily, he carried me off the plane."

Here is Eric. There, inside the circle, is Eric's briefcase. Flat Stanley not appearing in your picture. That is 151 passengers the Sullenberger crew saved.


OLBERMANN: A conservative male Republican governor, Mark Sanford, has basically called comedian Rush Limbaugh an idiot. Comedian is more interested in finding out why woman don't like him. Quoting him, "I own the men. What must I do now to own the women?" In our third story in the Countdown, Limbaugh once again fails the primary test of psychological health, can you correctly gauge how the world views you?

Public Policy poll found that 56 percent of men held a favorable view of Limbaugh, but only 37 percent of women feel that way. That's one of the largest gender gaps encountered by that polling organization in the past year. So Limbaugh seized on the opportunity. "This takes us to the age old question, what do women want? Not even Freud was ultimately able to answer that question," he said, "so we will have a female summit to ascertain what I must do to attract women." Save your jokes.

Today, when a female caller to his so-called summit suggested that Limbaugh seemed pompous, comedians reaction to the constructive criticism, "this pompous stuff, that criticism irrelevant. The woman has never listened. I'm not pompous. I'm not changing that."

And accused women critics of not listening enough to his show.

As for Governor Sanford, who recently said, quote, anybody who wants him, meaning President Obama, to fail is an idiot. Limbaugh acknowledged this was directed at him, since he repeatedly wishes aloud for the president's failure. Comedian says that Governor Sanford actually agrees with him. He just can't admit it in those words.

Joining me now to revel in the fun is comedienne, actress and activist Janeane Garofalo. It's good to see you.

JANEANE GAROFALO, POLITICAL ACTIVIST: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

OLBERMANN: So then, I'm going to see if I can do this with a straight face. What must Rush Limbaugh do to attract women?

GAROFALO: I want to say a couple things first; 37 percent is a shockingly high percentage of - I'm shocked by that. Secondly, this transcends gender. He is an unappealing person. The problems with Rush Limbaugh, as we were discussing during the break, it would take a neuro-scientist and a behavioral psychologist to sort that out. Failing that, let's you and I discuss.

He is a narcissist who also struggles with self-loathing. That is clear. That is his prime maneuver. That's the issue. He pretends it is politics. But there is something very, very wrong with Rush Limbaugh. He knows this. Most other, quote, unquote, Republicans or conservative don't have self-awareness. I think he does. He really dislikes himself. And the type of people that respond to his message have a whole bunch of other problems, too.

But he's - I think he's trying to get women - I think he is trying to meet somebody right now. This whole charade that we are going through - - and we are even giving it too much credit discussing it. But I think he would like to meet a nice lady right now.

OLBERMANN: Your "24" and formerly "Larry Sanders Show" colleague is no longer in the picture?

GAROFALO: I think she actually just thought it would be funny to learn more about him. She said that he did suffer from low self-esteem. That was her impression of him.

OLBERMANN: It seems like that's a long way to go to find that information out.

GAROFALO: I don't think they really did go on a date or something. Mary Lynn (ph) is too nice. She's very easy going and very affable. I think she just wanted to be nice to him. She felt sorry for him. She is more kind than I.

OLBERMANN: We will move it away from the personal here to this question: as I said, your easy, check your own sanity at home test is what do people think of me. We all get it wrong to some degree. If you have categorized women as basically femi-Nazis, castrators, babes, the hot or the unattractive - those are the only groups - and you wonder perhaps why women might not be responding to you more than 37 percent approval, how could you get it that wrong? Or is he just making that whole part of it up too?

GAROFALO: I think he is just, you know, throwing enough you know what against the wall to see what sticks. Somebody is going to respond to him. But the type of female that does like Rush is the same type of women that falls in love with prisoners, like Richard Ramirez or Squeaky Fromme. Good example, Charles Manson. Eva Braun, Hitler's girlfriend. That is exactly the type of woman that responds really well to Rush. There will be some Eva Braun's out there that will respond really well to this cattle call right now, or to this clarion call - is that the right word - he's putting out there.

OLBERMANN: He is trying to get a date.

GAROFALO: He is trying to get a date. Lucky for him, he is wealthy. He is wealthy enough that someone - he dated Campbell Brown. Is that wrong? Some CNN woman.

OLBERMANN: No, it was Darren Kagen (ph), the old sports caster who worked in the morning studio.


GAROFALO: She dated him. So either she suffers from Stockholm Syndrome, like Michael Steele, the black guy in the Republican party who suffers from Stockholm Syndrome, which means you try to curry favor with the oppressor.

OLBERMANN: Talk about self-loathing.

GAROFALO: Yes. Any female or person of color in the Republican party is struggling with Stockholm Syndrome. That's a whole other issue. We don't have time. Let's go back to Rush Limbaugh.

OLBERMANN: And Mark Sanford. Is there some hopeful thing in here, that even in code, he is criticizing Limbaugh. He is saying that anybody who says he hopes the president fails is an idiot?

GAROFALO: Well, if Rush were open to that kind of criticism, which I think he likes - like I said, he is a narcissist. He enjoys his name being bandied about, no matter what context. Rush Limbaugh, of course, is an idiot. That has nothing to do with what he just said. He - his reason for being is sort of to air out his laundry list of problems that make him an idiot. Does that make sense or have I started babbling? I get so -

OLBERMANN: I think I know what you mean. But why is he causing all of us to suffer along with him?

GAROFALO: He is a misanthrope, right? He is a hater of humanity and also a hater of himself. Why we all have to get dragged into this is one of the great questions. He brought up Freud. Freud has been debunked about his what women want thing years and years ago. He really needs to get more contemporary in his references.

OLBERMANN: Although that represents a very liberal extreme of Rush's set of references.


OLBERMANN: The idea that there is something to psychotherapy and that there might be some way you can improve the brain without just smoking cigars.

GAROFALO: Like I said, Rush Limbaugh will go to his grave unfixed. Human frailty, let's go with human frailty. It is human frailty that makes it be a conservative. You know what I mean? Whoever the person is, and this transcends gender and skin color, people that cleave unto the conservative message or to the modern day Republican party, there is something wrong with them. That is what makes them go -

Have you ever heard the phrase the Constitution follows the flag. Wherever the American flag flies, the manifestation of the Constitution follows. Wherever the jerk is, the manifestations of conservative follow. Does that make sense?

OLBERMANN: John Dean wrote about this. It is not conservatism anymore. It is authoritarianism.

GAROFALO: It is authoritarian message and people that follow the authoritarian message. It is the unrestrained id. It is whatever is wrong with us. It is whatever the flaws in human being. I'm a narcissist that suffers with self-loathing. But I prefer to channel my issues into a much more positive direction.

So I do identify with Rush on the level of narcissism and self-loathing combined. But I'm a far better person than he is. I don't say that with arrogance. I say that because it is fact, scientific fact.

OLBERMANN: Thank goodness it is. Janeane Garofalo, political activist, currently of "24." Thanks, Janeane.

GAROFALO: Thank you for having me.

OLBERMANN: Thanks for being a better person.

There's another actor tonight taking umbrage at a comparison to a politician. Jack McBrayer saying he is nothing like Governor Jindal.

The new poll at Sean Hannity's website asking conservatives if they would prefer to see a secession, a military coup or an armed rebellion in this country. When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, she'll have the breaking news on the Obama administration indictment of Ali Al-Mari, who had been held without charge by the Bush administration for seven years.

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

Number three, Katrina-gate. With 68 percent of the six billion dollars promised by the president to rebuild the Gulf remaining unspent, maybe we all should have guessed this. CBS reported last night it appears the FEMA office in downtown New Orleans appears to be dragging its feet so its senior managers will keep their jobs there. Employees speaking out anonymously out of fear, have been told to expect the office to remain open for 15 years. Managers not only make 100,000 a year, plus benefits, but CBS reported, they are living like the wild west in there; 80 complaints of sexual or racial harassment have been filed in that one FEMA office since last month.

Number two, under cover of darkness-gate. A senior official at the Pentagon has told NBC News that Defense Secretary Gates has decided to lift the automatic ban on media coverage of the return of the US war dead to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Most sensibly, the new policy will neither be no coverage, nor coverage of every casket. It will be the decision of the families.

Remember the origin of this ban? It came on December 21st, 1989. That was the day that live coverage on CNN, ABC and CBS of the first President Bush's not exactly solemn news conference at the White House was suddenly put into a split screen with live coverage of caskets arriving at Dover containing the first war fatalities after he ordered our invasion of Panama.

Number one, Anthrax-gate. As you know, under Mr. Bush, the FBI closed the case, saying that Army scientist Bruce Ivans made them a flask at Fort Detrick, in Maryland, flask number RMR-1029, and then he killed himself. Maybe not. The magazine "Nature" now reports that at a bio-defense conference this Tuesday a scientist from a SANDIA national laboratory in Albuquerque presented analysis of three Anthrax letters, the ones sent to Senator Daschle, Senator Leahy and the "New York Post." They show anthrax mixed silicon, oxygen, iron and tin.

Bruce Ivans' flask at Ft. Detrick, good old number RMR-1029, contained anthrax, no silicone, no oxygen, no iron, and no tin. In fact, Ivans' entire lab at Ft. Detrick showed Anthrax, silicone and oxygen, but no iron and no tin. The analysts cautioned that the iron and tin could have worked their way into the Anthrax between its time in a flask, somebody's flask, and its time in those envelopes.

You remember the Anthrax attacks. Killed five Americans, sickened 17 more, September 19th, 2001 until November 21st, 2001, thus falling into that time period after 9/11, the time George Bush and his apologists still insist he kept us safe.


OLBERMANN: Inevitable objection to the joke that in giving the Republican response Tuesday night, Governor Jindal resembled Kenneth the Page from "30 Rock." The comparison today rejected by Kenneth the Page. That's next, but first time for Countdown's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.

Sharing the bronze, Bill-O the Clown and his marionette, Dennis Miller. "I had a caller on my show, Bill. You tell me if this isn't a brilliant call. She says, does Sean Penn realize that the same president that he is praising as elegant, had he been a California resident, would have voted for Proposition Eight. He said on record that he's not for gay marriage."

Bill-O promptly claimed credit. "We pointed that out. She probably listened to the Radio Factor and then called you, because we had said that. You're probably right about that, since all three of you are wrong on the facts. Then Senator Obama wrote last June, quote, "I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California constitution." Dennis, Bill, congratulations, another person you have misinformed.

Runner up, Colorado State Senator Dave Schultheis, Republican, Colorado Springs. First time, he voted against a bill requiring HIV tests for pregnant women, because since the disease, quote, "stems from sexual promiscuity," he doesn't want to see the state doing anything that would, quote, remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior. Seriously.

So I'm assuming Senator Schultheis that you also think you should not treat anybody hurt in a car crash where they were not wearing a seat belt? Schultheis though has now defended this crazy statement by adding, "what I'm hoping is that yes, that person may have AIDS, have it seriously as a baby, and when they grow up. But the mother will begin to feel guilt as a result of that. The family will see the negative consequences of that promiscuity. And it may make a number of people over the coming years begin to realize that there are negative consequences and maybe there should adjust their behavior."

There are a lot of things that could be said to, and should be said to Senator Schultheis right now, but this is the most important of them, get out, just get out.

But our winner is Sean Hannity. Next time he or Bill-O talks about liberal hate speech on the web remind them about this. This is a poll posted late Monday night and remaining at last check in the forum section of Hannity's website. It asks his listeners what kind of revolution appeals most to you, military coup, armed rebellion or secession. To his credit, the poster is saying any form of revolution would be treason. He said he started the poll because there has been so much talk on Hannity's website supporting revolution or secession, a topic which one Hannity poster says produced 3,000 responses. There have been 22 votes, with armed rebellion comfortably in the lead, 11 to eight to three.

When another of the Hannity faithful noted that armed insurrection and coups would be treason, someone else posted at, quote, only if the insurrection or coup fails. Sean, you might want to check if this constitutes incitement to treason, Hannity, today's worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN: On Tuesday evening, the GOP put its hopes into another break out star. They've already tried their hand with the mavericky aerial wolf huntress. This time it was a 37-year-old Rhodes Scholar, governor of Louisiana. And then somewhere between the words good evening and happy Mardi Gras, a collective thought bubble appeared over the nation reading, Kenneth the Page.

Our number one story, Kenneth responds. First, an update to our reporting last night. That Facebook group titled "Bobby Jindal is Kenneth the Page," it's now at 12,000 members and counting. The frenzied Internet clamor may be what prompted the actor who plays Kenneth on NBC's "30 Rock," Jack McBrayer, to issue his own response to the response to the response. McBrayer paid a visit to the "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon to reassure the American public he is no Bobby Jindal.


JACK MCBRAYER, "30 ROCK": I just want to say, I have been reading all the Internet hoo-ha about how this is supposed to sound like me. I just don't get it. I sound more like an outdoorsy lumberjack or a Clark Gable. This Jindal guy sounds like a real goober-natorial representative.


OLBERMANN: Joining us now, actress and comedian Aisha Tyler. Her Comedy Central special "Aisha Tyler is Lit" now available on DVD. Good evening, Aisha. Welcome to the show.

AISHA TYLER, COMEDIAN: Hi, Keith. How are you?

OLBERMANN: Not bad. Not doing as well as obviously Kenneth here is. He obviously is stepping it up on reputational damage control. Do you think the governor needs to step it up on reputational damage control too?

TYLER: It is interesting, the governor has just gone into hiding. He is in a cave in Baton Rouge and no one can find him. I don't know that you can spin that performance. It's been pretty much slayed open by everybody else. I think the best thing to do is to hunker down and come out with a reunion tour in about a year when people have forgotten about it.

OLBERMANN: Donate the tie to charity.

TYLER: That tie.

OLBERMANN: The president's premise on Tuesday night in that speech was, every crisis contains an opportunity. Is there a similar message in here for the Republicans? Maybe recruit Kenneth the Page, run him and try to get all the people who don't like Joe the Plumber or something like that?

TYLER: He could be their Joe the Plumber. He has that accessible, that real every man kind of dork appeal. And he would get the younger kids. He would get the younger kids and also the gay men, let's face it. I think they want a big tent over in the Republican party. I think Jack's got that broad, broad appeal that definitely swings on both sides of the aisle, so to speak.

OLBERMANN: I don't know if the Republicans want the tent that big.

TYLER: I think they will take whoever they can get at this point.

OLBERMANN: Oh, you'd be surprised. The other end of this, NBC pages are real people who work in this building. And many of them go on to successful careers. They work like heck. Ted Koppel was a page. Regis Philbin was a page. When you compare Governor Jindal to Kenneth, not only is that - is that not just an insult to Kenneth, but actually an insult to the pages, those hard-working pages here?

TYLER: To the fraternal order of all hard working pages, it's an insult. To Gomer Pyle, for example, it's insult, to Bubba Gump. He was definitely delivering that kind of - the party rebuttal is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get. It was just unbelievable. I half expected him to bust out finger puppets, and be like, this is bunny tax cuts and this is evil stimulus package snake. He wants to bite bunny tax cut. Bad snake.

What? Don't explain it to me like I'm a sixth grader. Explain it to me like you are a sixth grader, because clearly, you are not clear on your own approach to the economy. It was amazing.

OLBERMANN: Now, considering what I've seen covering the Republican party intensely for these last six years, Aisha, that was the most clear-headed presentation that could be made on their behalf. Have you now or have you ever been a member of the Republican party? And would you consider running for president on their ticket?

TYLER: Well, I think I could bring a little bit of that hot factor that they clearly - I can rock a leather jacket like the next Alaskan governor. I have not ever been a Republican. I do have two relatives in family that are Republican delegates. And even they jumped off that ship, like flailing rats on a sinking vessel, at the end of this last election. I don't know. It would be nice to be a rock star. Anybody can be a rock star when the rest of the room is wearing helmets and drooling on themselves.

OLBERMANN: Finger puppets, you may have just given - if Michael Steele calls you, you know what happened.

TYLER: This is big government piggy.

OLBERMANN: Aisha Tyler's new special, out on DVD, "Aisha Tyler is Lit." Many thanks for being with us tonight.

That is Countdown for this the 2,119th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.