Tuesday, June 30, 2009

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, June 30
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons

Guests: Jonathan Alter, Eugene Robinson, Richard Clarke, Dan Savage, Andrew Blankstein


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

Minnesota finally has its senator.


FMR. SEN. NORM COLEMAN (R), MINNESOTA: And the future today is that we have a new United States senator. I congratulate Al Franken and his victory in this election.


OLBERMANN: Only five votes decided but they are essential ones - the Minnesota Supreme Court orders the governor to certify Al Franken's election by the vote of five to nothing.


SENATOR-ELECT AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: I am so excited to finally be able to get to work for the people of Minnesota.


OLBERMANN: Nothing can hold Senator Franken back now. The election - that was fast.

So was this.


GOV. MARK SANFORD, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I have seen her three times since then, during that whole sparking thing.


OLBERMANN: Or seven times, including two rendezvous in New York. The governor apologizes for the lie in his first apology and - get the butter, he's toast.

National Sovereignty Day in Iraq: We turn over the keys to the country to the country.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: The Iraqi people are rightly treating this day as a cause for celebration.


OLBERMANN: Dick Cheney predicts a result is Armageddon. Richard Clarke joins us to separate the weak from the chafed.

The president from the LBGT community: "We're making progress on 'don't ask, don't tell.'" Just not enough progress to eliminate it?

Reportedly not only was it Michael Jackson the biological father but the surrogate mother wasn't the biological mother. And nobody bothered to legally adopt the kids.

Worsts: Limbaugh's latest lunacy. Obama is planning on three terms.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Anybody who thinks that he intends to just constitutionally go away in 2016 is nuts.


OLBERMANN: Bests: Michele Bachmann's warning: "Don't fill out the census. It's a trick. It may cost Minnesota one of its seats in Congress." Guess which seat?


OLBERMANN: All that and more - now on Countdown.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: This is going to be good for you.



OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.

The Senate historian has already issued his verdict on the fact he's had a long, long time to research. Al Franken is now the first former comedian to be elected to the United States Senate, thus, can I issue our punch line that we've had a long, long time to research. You mean professional, professional comedian.

Our fifth story on the Countdown: Coleman concedes Franken is a senator. It only took 238 days and the final vote tally was five to nothing.

Nearly six months to the day after his term expired, the former senator, Republican of Minnesota, Norm Coleman, accepting he has lost, telling reporters that further litigation would damage the unity of his state.

All five justices of the Supreme Court of Minnesota having ruled on the accuracy and integrity of the 2008 vote count. Quoting from their decision, "Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled to receive the certificate of election as the United States senator from Minnesota affirmed."

This afternoon, ex-Senator Coleman, gracious in defeat.


COLEMAN: I just had a conversation with Al Franken congratulating him on his victory. And I told him it's the best job that he'll ever have, representing the people in Minnesota in the United States Senate.

Ours is a government of laws, not men and women. The Supreme Court of Minnesota has spoken. I respect its decision, and I will abide by its results.

It's time for Minnesotans to come together under the leaders it has chosen and move forward. And I join all Minnesotans in congratulating our newest United States senator, Al Franken.


OLBERMANN: In a statement, the Republican governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, is saying he would sign the election certificate and do it today. And there's no rush really. Even after the eight months, a spokesman for the Democratic leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, is saying the earliest Franken could be seated is next week, because the Senate is out of session now for the July 4th holiday.

President Obama calling Mr. Franken earlier today to congratulate him, having issued a statement earlier today to which he said he's looking forward to working with the junior senator from Minnesota.

At an early evening news conference, Franken - still officially senator-elect - saying that he is looking forward to getting started, revealing that he expects to join the judiciary committee, among other posts, and offering more details about his conversation with the former senator.


FRANKEN: It was a very gracious call, I must say. He - I - he said it was a very hard-fought campaign. I said it was - I said, Norm, it couldn't have been closer. And I said to him that Frannie and I can only imagine what this is like for him and his family. And he just - he just said, "This is going to be the best job you'll ever have." I hope it's the best job I ever had. I imagine - yes, I think it will be.


OLBERMANN: Let's turn now to our own Jonathan Alter, senior editor at "Newsweek" magazine.

Good evening, Jon.


OLBERMANN: They fought everything else. Why are Republicans dropping it here?

ALTER: Well, in Minnesota, they're really sick of this. And it's actually a negative to keep it going as long as they have. So, it was bad politics for - not just for Coleman, who might want to run for governor, but for Pawlenty and everybody else to let this drag on any longer.

There's been a lot of misunderstanding for Al Franken. I'm a little bias because he's been a friend for a long time. But - one thing he didn't like to talk about in the campaign, because it doesn't get a lot of votes, he was a math jock, a math jock at Harvard.

OLBERMANN: Oh, yes. Right.

ALTER: He's a smart guy. He's going to be a good, effective senator. And when the comedian stuff wears off, which it will fairly quickly, I think people will find that he's quite good.

OLBERMANN: Also, he was honest about being a comedian .


OLBERMANN: . as opposed to the 99 people he now joins in the Senate.

ALTER: Right.

OLBERMANN: The - again, the Republican angle on this, though, was there also a monetary consideration? They have spent somewhere between $1 million and $2 million on the recount. That is presumably money coming out of the midterms.

Did they get anything for it? Did they just say, "OK, here's where we cut our losses if we get to this point, in the Supreme Court," especially if it's five-zip?

ALTER: Yes, it was clear a few months ago that this was going to be the end of the road. You had a lot of Republicans from Minnesota, and I talked to some of them, who were saying privately six months ago that Coleman should not be pursuing this, that he should get out gracefully in his own interest.

He didn't take their advice. It was basically Norm Coleman against the entire Republican establishment there, and he knew that this was as far as he could take it.

OLBERMANN: Sixty votes, filibuster-proof, super-majority. It sounds wonderful. It sounds dreamy. I would use the word "dreamy" to describe this.

However, these are Democrats we are talking about.


OLBERMANN: And it would seem to me there would be possibility if they had 75 votes, they'd still find some way to screw up that advantage. Is this really a milestone or not?

ALTER: It is a milestone, but I think for some reasons that people don't quite get, they go well, but with these reconciliation, you know, tactics, can't they really pass things with 51 votes? And the answer to that is technically yes, but practically no. They really do need 60 votes.

Will it be hard to keep them all in line? Do they have to keep Bob Byrd healthy enough to vote and Ted Kennedy to vote? Yes. But they do have more discipline than they used to, and they want to put health care through with 60 votes, not ram it through with 51.

On energy, the way the deal works, they have to have 60 votes .


ALTER: . in order to get - to pass the bill that's already passed the House on energy. The first real energy policy we've ever had in this country.

So, I do think you're going to see a little bit more discipline on the Senate side than people expect in terms of getting a final bill. But they're going to argue a lot that - the Democrats are going to argue a lot about the details.

So, the big question: will Democrats let special interests have their way too much in the final version of both of these landmark pieces of legislation.

OLBERMANN: (INAUDIBLE). And there is one - it's not a complete loss for the GOP, but they do get one thing if nothing else out of this. They now have the "Democrats are the world domination party" meaning to run against, correct?

ALTER: They have been using that already.

OLBERMANN: Yes, but I mean, now they can point to 60.

ALTER: Yes, they can say it.

OLBERMANN: It's an even number. It's easy for their constituents to understand.

ALTER: Yes. There's no avoiding responsibility and accountability by the Democrats. And so, the big issue is going to be - in the midterms and in 2012 - is not going to be, you know, how many votes do they have in the Senate? It's - did the economy get any better? And so, the Democrats will be judged by their record.

OLBERMANN: Jonathan Alter of MSNBC and "Newsweek" - always a pleasure. Thanks for coming in.

ALTER: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: One Republican concedes to reality and inevitability; another seems to have stuck his fingers in his ears so deeply to avoid them both that the ears have met or the fingers have met in the middle of his brain. It turns out the first frank admission about his extramarital "sparking" was short a few trysts and a few women and the bunch of uncomfortable details that Governor Mark Sanford has decided to fill in for us.

No politician has told so many salacious half-truths about his own love life since Sanford's last news conference last week. In a new and remarkable interview, the governor having originally admitted to only four meetings with his mistress over the past year, now putting that number at seven - seven that he is admitting to.

The wild bull of the pampas now time-lining his extracurricular calendar with his Argentine friend like this: Five meetings with Maria Belen Chapur in the last year, including two, quote, "multi-night stays in New York." It sounds like something he won on a game show. Also, two more meetings before then.

Those overnight stays in New York would be the first time he has admitted to sparking with her on U.S. soil. Still not South Carolinian soil, however, where the governor could be subject to a hefty fine and no less than six months in jail because adultery is still on the books there.

Governor Sanford today also admitting to more women - if not exactly more sex with those women - telling "The Associated Press" that he, quote, "crossed lines," end-quote, with a handful of women other than his mistress or his wife, but he claims he never sparked any of them. The governor is saying that during the encounters with other women, he, quote, "let his guard down" with some physical contact but, quote, "never crossed the ultimate line."


SANFORD: Again, I didn't cross the sex line. I'm quite certain that there were a handful of instances wherein I crossed lines that I shouldn't have crossed as a married man, but never crossed the ultimate line.


OLBERMANN: If there isn't a band called "cross the sex line" by next week, somebody's asleep at the switch.

Finally, this piece of reconciliation advice from the governor, should he still want to get back together with the missus as he claimed again together to his interview, best perhaps not to describe the affair at length as, quote, "a love story." Best not to mention either publicly or privately that his Argentine mistress was his soul mate - wives tend not to like that.


SANFORD: And so, if you end up 50 years here on Earth, and you know, all right, maybe I've got another 30. And if you come in connection with a soul that touches yours the way that no one's ever has - even if it's a place you can't go - this notion of knowing that you know, for me, can be very, very important.


OLBERMANN: Oh, here we go.

Let's turn now to our own Eugene Robinson, associated editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of "The Washington Post," who is both from South Carolina and has lived in Buenos Aires and, of course, most importantly, has stayed overnight in New York himself.

This just keeps getting closer and closer to you, Gene.


EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It does. But there was no sparking, Keith.



OLBERMANN: The movie "Love Story" infamously, the advertising for this was love meant never having to say you're sorry. The governor spent six days now where he's been doing little else but saying he's sorry. How much longer does this center hold?

ROBINSON: Who - is it holding now? I mean, every time he says he's sorry .


ROBINSON: But he's still the governor. He's still the governor. But I'll tell you, if I, you know, went and told an interviewer that my mistress was my soul mate and I was trying to fall back in love with my wife, you'd be picking pieces of me up off .


ROBINSON: . you know, of Fifth Avenue or wherever. It's just - every time he apologizes, he creates the need to apologize yet again. So, this could go on indefinitely .


ROBINSON: . like a perpetual motion machine.

OLBERMANN: And I don't want to - I don't want to mock the emotion. In many respects, the governor is somebody should be envied for all - for what supposed he feels. But, you know, this is the story as relates to his job and what he was elected to do and the money that is spent to protect him and fly him places. This story keeps evolving.

We started - it was the hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail. Now, it's - you know, now, it's lines that he crossed that didn't quite involve sex but something near. Why should we even believe that?

ROBINSON: Well, why should we? And, by the way, these lines that he crossed with these other women, who were these other women?


ROBINSON: And, how - you know, exactly, how were these lines crossed? I mean - you know, again, he is perpetuating this story. It's not anybody else. He's doing it.

OLBERMANN: Are they all from Argentina? Is there one person in South American country? Are there any in any other continents?

ROBINSON: Well, we don't know. But one thing, I mean, the admission about other women and unmentioned lines does actually .


ROBINSON: . maybe I'm cynical, but it does make me wonder about the kind of love story, soul mate. Clearly, he was looking for a soul mate not his wife, or at least open to that possibility a bit more than perhaps he should have been for quite some time.

OLBERMANN: Obviously, this is tremendous television and in terms of political theater, and, you know, revelation of political hypocrisy - as much as might be said about this throughout broadcast television and cable television news, this is - this is a wonderfully informative thing.

But, on the other hand, isn't somebody who either loves the governor or hates him tell him to shut up before he does himself even more damage?

ROBINSON: I would hope so. I mean, one imagines that staff members, for example, may just read these interviews and watch these interviews with kind of slack-jawed amazement. And I can't imagine that they're not telling him, "Governor, you really need to go hiking, go hiking, Governor. Go to the Appalachian Trail immediately."


OLBERMANN: Take a - take a hike, Gov.

Yes, if you've ever been completely stupefied but your managers, your bosses had been able to find the office in the morning, let alone tie their shoes or whatever, I guess you can sympathize with the staff here.

Gene Robinson of "The Washington Post" - as ever, great thanks, Gene.

ROBINSON: Buenas tardes.

OLBERMANN: And stay out of New York.

This was a day agreed upon during the Bush administration for the removal of the U.S. troops in the streets of the Iraqi cities and the handover of controls to the key security infrastructures to the Iraqis. Naturally, going through with the plan has now been criticized by Dick Cheney.

Richard Clarke is here to not only analyze that, but in a convenient coincidence of timing, the CIA's internal report on detainee abuse and torture comes out tomorrow. Maybe he has a thought or two on that.


OLBERMANN: The Iraqis call it National Sovereignty Day. We call it, here, you drive. The Bush administration set it date. So, naturally, because Obama lived up to it, he's being criticized by Dick Cheney. Former chief counterterrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, joins us next.

In Bests: How Michele Bachmann's paranoia about the census might make her own congressional district disappear.

And in Worsts: it's official, Sarah Palin can't tell the difference between God and Sarah Palin.

You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Dick Cheney - the foreign policy genius who could see invisible WMD and figured out that Iraq would give them away to its best friend al Qaeda - has new and equally blazing pearls of wisdom about today's redeployment of troops from patrolling Iraqi streets and providing backup on requests. Our fourth story: How much wrong can one Dick Cheney be?

His prediction that Americans would be welcomed as liberators? Wrong.

We got our parades and flowers today because we left.

Yesterday, as General Ray Odierno discussed the recent increase in violence, Cheney got the chance to be right for once. Here is the question he got and listen for the part about the violence following Obama's withdrawal order.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last night, we heard from General Odierno, and he reports that May had the lowest level of civilian casualties since the war in Iraq began. But there has been a big uptick in the last few weeks since the Obama administration ordered a withdrawal from Iraq. Are we getting out too soon, is the question I have for you, sir.


OLBERMANN: Wrong. The Bush administration ordered the withdrawal.

Today's pullback, departure in 2011 - last year they ordered it. And Mr. Cheney allowed that wrong to stand. And instead, with that unique gift, responding intel others missed, he saw in Odierno's words: grave threats ahead.


RICHARD CHENEY, FMR. U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: What he says concerns me. It would look like - one might speculate - that the insurgents are waiting, and as soon as they get an opportunity, they'll begin to launch more attacks.

I hope that's not the case. I hope certainly the Iraqis can deal with it. At some point, they have to stand on their own. But I would not want to see us waste all of the tremendous sacrifice that's gotten us to this point.


OLBERMANN: Wrong squared. For one thing, sir, you wasted the tremendous sacrifice by making it, by sending hundreds of thousands of troops into harm's way, 4,300 of them never to return to protect us from WMD, about which you were wrong, to keep them from Iraq's terrorist allies, about whom you were wrong.

As for your fear, quote, "that insurgents are waiting and as soon as they get an opportunity, they'll begin to launch more attacks" - did you even hear the question? She specifically said that Odierno reported attacks had already been launched. Insurgents are not waiting for U.S. troops to leave, as Odierno said on this, that Mr. Cheney would know if he watched TV, let alone heard the people talking to him. In recent weeks, that uptick of violence has killed hundreds, even with U.S. troops there.

With us tonight, Richard Clarke, former chief counterterrorism adviser to both the Bush and Clinton presidencies, author most recently of "Your Government Failed You: Breaking the Cycle of National Security Disasters," chairman now of Good Harbor Consulting.

Great thanks, sir.


OLBERMANN: Did we just see sort of the Cheney, the anatomy of the Cheney intel analysis process? He already knew insurgents would lie in wait and spring out after the U.S. pulled back. So, it didn't even register to him that both Odierno and that interviewer just said, you know, the insurgents were not lying in wait. They already sprung out and already were in action.

CLARKE: And it's interesting, a CNN/Opinion Research poll that came out today said 52 percent of the American people expected there to be an uptick in attacks after the U.S. troops left the cities. It's pretty obvious that that would happen.

And what Cheney's doing is really politics here. It's not intelligence analysis. It's the same thing he did on the torture issue. On the torture issue he said, "Ah, because Obama stopped torture, if there is another al Qaeda attack, it will be because of that decision."

He's trying to predict disasters - another al Qaeda attack, more violence in Iraq; and say, in advance of these things happening, if they happen, it will be because of something Obama did. Even though in this case, it's something that Bush did. As you pointed out, this withdrawal from the cities was something that Bush ordered.

OLBERMANN: And even in this case, isn't he actually predicting the past? Because this uptick in violence occurred before the troops were pulled out, not by Obama's orders but by Bush's agreement.

CLARKE: Absolutely. And, look, there may be more violence in the next few weeks. There may be a further uptick.

That's not the issue. The issue is what good does it do to keep American troops in the cities? And what is the criteria for when you'll bring them home?

Unfortunately, the Obama administration seems to be thinking it's going to keep 130,000 American troops there until after the election some time in January. So, Obama hasn't really made any new courageous decisions here. We're implementing a Bush decision and the troops have only moved about five or 10 miles.

OLBERMANN: Yes. A point that John Hannah, who had been the former national security adviser to Mr. Cheney, made, that if Bush had removed troops from Iraq under fire, he said, "al Qaeda and Iran would have been embolden and American credibility throughout the Middle East would have been lost." Well, it's a good thing Iran wasn't emboldened and it was a good thing we didn't lose any credibility in the Middle East, right?

CLARKE: It would be - it would be hard to imagine Iran more emboldened than it is today. Hard to imagine that al Qaeda could get more emboldened. This is one of those trite lines that they use so often during the campaign. Iran is going to do what it's going to do.

The United States needs to do what it must do in its own best interest, and that's to get the hell out.

OLBERMANN: I mentioned before the break, the CIA inspector general's report on prisoner abuse comes out tomorrow. What do you want to know from it? What could it tell us about the need for further investigation?

CLARKE: Well, I think two things it could tell us, and I would like to know. One, did the interrogations do any good? Did they provide any essential information that stopped terrorist attacks? I'm told the report said there was no intelligence that stopped terrorist attacks as a result of this torture.

The second thing is, did the torture go beyond even the Bush administration Justice Department's own guidelines? And, again, I think the report will say - there were CIA personnel who exceeded the guidelines. And, therefore, I think the question is obvious, when are we going to have an investigation?

OLBERMANN: Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism chief of National Security Council, author of "Your Government Failed You," which is now out in paperback.

Richard Clarke, as always, great thanks for your time.

CLARKE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Meantime, our correspondent in a war-torn Las Vegas Strip reports there's been an outbreak of slap-fighting there. We'll go there live.

And, Sarah Palin thinks she's God. No, seriously. "Vanity Fair" reports she sent out an e-mail signed, quote, "Trig's Creator, Your Heavenly Father." Oh, here we go.

Worst Persons is ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment, and how Michele Bachmann may have just put herself out of business.

First the exact date shift. But 30 years ago, on the Tuesday of the 27th week of the year, I was hired for my first job in this business as a sportscaster for United Press International's old radio network. The first broadcast wasn't until July 10th at quarter to 10:00 in the morning, and I had an out-of-body experience during it, and as Ernie Kovacs said, "The money meant nothing, the money was nothing, therefore, the money meant nothing." My first year's salary was, I believe, $170 a week.

Let's play Oddball.

And another edition of when good live shots go bad. I had one like this once, February 2, 1983, the Redskins' Super Bowl victory parade. That picture was taken that day, a little teenage boy keeps jumping in front of me and my mustache. Finally, I shoved him out of the way, which was the first time I realized he was actually a teenage girl.

So, Steve Ryan from KTNV in Los Angeles, I feel your pain.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He'd someday perform on the Strip. And our team coverage continues with Action News reporter Steve Ryan. He's on Fremont Street with the very latest. We talked to some fans, Steve.

STEVE RYAN, KTNV REPORTER: Trisha and Nina, Fremont Street here is the place where locals and tourists alike gather to listen to music. And, you know, people like this, they listen to this stuff all the time, for example. You see, this guy is - yes, you like Michael Jackson, too, don't you?

Whoa! As you see, this guy is a little out of control right now, but you can't blame for that. You know, I'll tell you a little bit more about Michael Jackson.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Apparently, unruly fan out there.


OLBERMANN: To Rome, Georgia, where another Braves manager has gotten all unruly. Rome is Atlanta's A-Ball affiliate. This is manager Randy Engle (ph) who didn't like a call made by the home plate ump during last night's game, so he chucked his helmet, did some red faced ranting, then headed over to third, picked it up and made his own call. Of course, this is part of the job description for Braves manager.

My hero, Bob Cox, of the big league club, already holds the all-time record for getting tossed out of games. And who can forget this guy? AA Mississippi Braves Manager Phil Welman, who two years ago got his money's worth after being ejecting by turning home plate into a sandbox, chucking a base, and re-enacting a scene from "Platoon," and crawling on his belly to the pitcher's mound, and then hurling a rosin grenade.

All of the men still have their jobs. If you're wondering, the Braves triple a team - incoming - is managed by the Real House Wife of New Jersey who flipped over the table.

Mixed message; the president promises progress for the LBGT community. but not on don't ask, don't tell, not yet anyway.

And don't ask, don't tell, don't look, don't bother to file adoption papers for your kids before you die. The Michael Jackson saga continues forever.

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

Dateline Sri Lanka, number three, best irony. A desperate effort by that nation to stop the spread of Dengue Fever through mosquitoes, as police checking the entire island and arresting people who do not destroy potential mosquito breeding areas on their property. They found just such a breading ground, empty cans full of mosquito larvae, in a factory that makes mosquito repellent.

Dateline, Oklahoma City, number two, best theocrat. That would be State Representative Sally Kern, who has introduced a bill containing a tediously long Citizens Proclamation for Morality. The word whereas is used 17 times. The gist, quote, "our economic woes are consequences of our greater national moral crisis." She says you should blame the downturn on, quote, "abortion, pornography, same-sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse, and many other forms of debauchery."

Lady, have you ever looked at it the other way? Maybe we are being punished for those things by having people like you representing us in government.

And Dateline suburbs of Minneapolis, number one, best petard to be hoist upon later, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. You heard her calls for constituents not to fill out the census because it will be used to intern them or it is going to be given to ACORN, or cause acorns to fall out of her head, I don't know, something with squirrels.

Listen to her. Don't fill out the census, residents of the Minnesota Sixth Congressional District. As a local newspaper notes, if just a few thousand people don't fill out the census, Minnesota could easily find its population under-reported, and it could lose one of its seats in Congress.

The district considered likeliest to be absorbed into another district:



OLBERMANN: Marking the anniversary of the modern gay rights movement in front of those now fighting for it, the president likened the struggle to past civil rights battles, then listed his administration's accomplishments towards achieving equality, with one exception, repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

In our third story, four decades after the Stonewall riots, the president faces criticism that he is stone-walling. In the East Room, Mr. Obama telling members of the gay community and their families, welcome to your White House. Then addressing the elephant in the East Room, the 16-year-old policy banning gays from openly serving in the military.


OBAMA: I believe Don't Ask, Don't Tell doesn't contribute to our national security. In fact, I believe - I believe preventing patriotic Americans from serving their country weakens our national security.


OLBERMANN: And while Mr. Obama also pledged to work with the Pentagon and Congress to repeal the policy, the commander in chief gave no firm time line. Lieutenant Colonel Victor Fehrenbach, one of those discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell, attended the ceremony last night, and spoke with the president.



He looked at me right in the eye and he said, we are going to get this done. And then he continued to say, you know, everyone seems to be on board with it. We have about 75 percent of the public that supports this. What we have is a generational issue, so there's some convincing to do, that there's a generational gap, it seems, in some of the senior leadership.


OLBERMANN: Earlier tonight, a military board recommending that Lieutenant Dan Choi, an Iraq war veteran Arabic linguist, be discharged from service. If that recommendation holds, Choi will become the 266th service member to fall victim to Don't Ask, Don't Tell since President Obama took office in January.

Joining us now is activist Dan Savage, author of "The Commitment:

Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family."

Thanks for some of your time tonight, sir.

DAN SAVAGE, ACTIVIST: Thank you for having me, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Is it times like this where the president needs to be reminded he's also commander in chief of the military? Is there an argument to be made that he can't somehow use that authority to end this process?

SAVAGE: There is an argument to be made. And last week, 78 members of the Congress made just that argument in a letter to the president to encouraging to use his authority as commander in chief to suspend enforcement of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and end the discharges of gay and lesbian service members like Choi and Fehrenbach. He has that authority. You see over at the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano has used just that authority to suspend enforcement of something called the widowers penalty, which is a law that requires people who have been married to a U.S. citizen for less than two years, whose spouse dies, to be deported.

Napolitano wants that law changed. She thinks it's cruel and inhumane. And she suspended enforcement while Congress, quote/unquote, works on a fix. She seems to have authorities and powers that the president, her boss, commander in chief, does not? It's really quite shocking that everyone in that room would applaud so politely when the president stood there and pretended like he couldn't end at least enforcement of Don't Ask, Don't Tell today, right now.

OLBERMANN: What Lieutenant Colonel Fehrenbach said after the conversation he had with the president last night is that the president told him there was this generational gap to deal with. But even the oldest man in the Army is not required to follow the orders of the president of the United States? What is - it feels like - does it not feel like this to you, being directly involved in this, and to me as sort of on the sidelines, that there's something that he's hinting at, that Obama is hinting that, that is just not getting through to anybody?

SAVAGE: Well, he's the president. He doesn't have to blink out distress signals. He can issue orders. Yes, there may be a generation gap. There was a much bigger and wider and more problematic generation gap when Truman ordered the military to integrate racially. If Truman had waited for everyone to be on board - the president himself said 75 percent of the country supports the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

How many more retrograde bigots do we need to wait to come up to speed before the president moves at least on suspending Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And then demanding that Congress repeal it.

OLBERMANN: Is there - he said generational. Is there also a religious thing going on here? Is Obama coming up against the organized fundamentalists, proselytizers who look at the military and so these fertile fields for indoctrination among the new recruits, and, of course, the indoctrination of the more of these restrictive religions, components that include homophobia?

SAVAGE: Perhaps. Obama does seem to have kind of a hang-up when it comes to wanting to find common ground with the likes of Rick Warren and fundamentalist Christians, who are never going to see eye to eye with him on gay and lesbian issues. If he is our fierce advocate, if he is our champion, as he described himself last night at the White House, he needs to stop pandering to religious conservatives.

Not all religious people oppose equal rights for gays and lesbians. Many religious organizations and people have endorsed marriage equality and endorsed the appeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. The president needs to worry more about those religious people, and less about Rick Warren and his ilk.

OLBERMANN: Was there any silver lining in this for you? Did you see anything to suggest there's progress within the administration?

SAVAGE: Well, we, once again, got a reiteration of the promises the president made to the gay and lesbian community. We got them know as president, as opposed to as candidate Obama. And there was tremendous symbolic value to what happened at the White House yesterday. I don't want to discount that.

However, there's been very little action, very little progress. And what comes out of the president's mouth doesn't seem to translate into policy. And we didn't - we got the promises when he was candidate Obama. What we want now is actually we want the fierce urgency of now. People are being discharged from the military now. People are being turned away from their partner's bedsides during medical emergencies now.

We weren't sold the fierce urgency of maybe in my second term or I'll get to it or one day or wait, have patience. We want these promises fulfilled now.

OLBERMANN: Yes. On two levels, A, human rights and, B, by the way, we need all of the Arab linguists we can find. I don't care what they look like, what they do, or who they are. The president is god damned wrong on this.

Dan Savage, author and activist, thank you for being here.

SAVAGE: Thank you for having me, Keith.

OLBERMANN: So Michael Jackson was not the biological father. The surrogate mother, Debbie Rowe, was not the biological mother. And nobody ever adopted the kids. Oops!

And did you know Barack Obama is scheming to get a third term, even though Constitutionally he could not take advantage of any repeal of the presidential terms limit? It's true, because the boss says so here.

And when "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" begins for you at the top of the hour, the special guest, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar on the subject of Minnesota's official junior Senator Al Franken.


OLBERMANN: Good news, reportedly there is a Michael Jackson will. Bad news, he never adopted the kids mentioned in the will. Let the postmortem farce begin.

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

The bronze to Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. "Vanity Fair's" profile of her by Todd Purdum in its August issue contains variations of the usual stuff, "some top McCain aides worried about her mental state. Was it possible that she was experiencing postpartum depression?"

"One long time McCain friend and frequent companion on the trail was heard to refer to Palin as Little Shop of Horrors."

But then there was this new cringe worthy bit of new info about the birth of her youngest child Trig: "when Trig was born, Palin wrote an e-mail letter to friends and relatives describing the belated news of her pregnancy and detailing Trig's condition. She wrote the e-mail not in her own name but in God's, and signed it 'Trig's creator, your heavenly father.'"

So let's play a little game now and try to guess exactly which phrasing governor self-obsessed will use to describe "Vanity Fair's" attack on her children and her family also? While the rest of us sit here and think, man, when we said she had a messiah complex, we were being a little bit hyperbolic. Except now it turns out a messiah complex would be an improvement.

Our runner-up, Boss Limbaugh, noting that Democratic Congressman Jose Serrano of New York introduced a bill to repeal the 22nd Amendment, which limits the president to two terms. Limbaugh has a new psychotic conspiracy theory to peddle, "getting rid of the 22nd Amendment is chump change compared to what this man's already achieved that nobody thought could happen. Anybody who thinks he just intends to Constitutionally go away in 2016 is nuts."

Nuts. Look seriously, once again, if you have fallen off the wagon or you feel, Rush, like you were losing your grip emotionally, I'm dead serious about this, get to a doctor or to a clergyman or to a shrink or somebody. On the other hand, A, Serrano introduced this same bill to repeal presidential term limits three times during the Bush administration. B, despite what Mayor Bloomberg did here in New York, if term limits were repealed for the presidency, any court in the land would insist the repeal could not constitutionally apply to the sitting president. He could not legally sign the legislation because of the conflict of interest.

And, C, thanks for conceding the 2012 election. Big bag full of mashed-up jackass right there.

But our winner, San Diego's County Sheriff's Deputy Marshall Abbott. Full details are not yet clear, and the Sheriff's Office is investigating, but it sure looks like Abbott arrested two people and pepper sprayed a party, mostly of women in their 60s, for political reasons. Shari Barman held a fund-raiser in her home in Escondido (ph), California for Democratic Congressional candidate Francine Busby.

According to Barman's story, a neighbor who tried to shout down Busby's speech to the crowd about 50 people, then phoned in a mysterious noise complaint. Deputy Abbott was sent to the Barman house, arrived after the party had begun to disperse, but before the city's noise curfew even went into effect.

He demanded information from Ms. Barman which she was not legally required to give. And when she refused, he grabbed her arm, twisted it and threw her to the floor. When another attendee told the officer that Ms. Barman had had recent shoulder surgery, the cop knocked her to the ground. When other guests tried to stop Deputy Abbott from further assaulting the two women, he pepper sprayed everyone.

Just a coincidence that the beneficiary of the fund raiser, Ms. Busby, once had had the nerve challenge the Graft King, Congressman Duke Cunningham. San Diego County Sheriff Deputy Marshall Abbott, and if they don't do something about this, the entire sheriff's office of that county, today's worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN: Michael Jackson is reportedly not his kids' biological father, but we may know who is. Debbie Rowe is reportedly not their mother, but she contests that. You would think something like that would be relatively easy to prove. There is a will, but Papa Joe isn't in it. And 48,000 dollars a month for prescription drugs. And you wonder why we need the public option.

Our number one story on the Countdown, let me say this again, this carnival's going to be in town for a while. According to TMZ, the King of Pop is not the biological father of any of his three children, and the ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, is not the biological mother of the two oldest, although that is being disputed by Rowe's lawyer.

And the surrogate who gave birth to his youngest son never knew who she was carrying the child for. Now there's word that Jackson never legally adopted any of his children, which could leave in question mother Katherine's custody claims.

And yes, there's more, the "U.S. Weekly" claiming the sperm donor for the two oldest kids is celebrity dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein. That's the same Dr. Klein who the "Hollywood Reporter" says wrote some of the prescriptions Michael Jackson was spending the 48,000 dollars a month on, and who also introduced the pop icon to his young nursing assistant at the time, Debbie Rowe.

NBC News has confirmed there is a will to be presented in court tomorrow, splitting his estate between his mother and three children and at least one charity, but leaving nothing to his father. And the requisite memorial is forming at Neverland Ranch. The reports say the fallen icon's body might be taken some time Thursday. Memorial plans, public or private, have not been finalized. But even the rumor of possible events open to the public at Neverland has people already lining up just in case.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just - I'm staying in my car.


OLBERMANN: Andrew Blankstein continues to cover all of this for the "Los Angeles Times" and continues to be generous enough to join us with the latest. Thank you for all of that, sir. How much more of a legal mess is custody here, if Jackson never adopted those kids?

ANDREW BLANKSTEIN, "THE LOS ANGELES TIMES": We're very much at the beginning of this. Although there are a lot of reports, there is going to be people who will invariably come forward in court to issue these challenges, or maybe not. That's part of the guessing game that's going on right now.

A lot of public pronouncements. Not a lot of substance in terms of documents filed.

OLBERMANN: What do we know about this process by which Debbie Rowe became the surrogate mother, if indeed she did? Is that all in question now? Or does it fall into the same category as maybe?

BLANKSTEIN: It falls into the same category. Again, just because somebody makes these public pronouncements doesn't mean that, in the end, it's going to be part of a court document. And that's part of the waiting game, and also part of the speculation game.

OLBERMANN: This Dr. Klein, the dermatologist, might have been the real sperm doctor - donor in one case. Might have written some of the prescriptions. Certainly it can't be coincidence that his nursing assistant was Debbie Rowe, introducing her to Michael Jackson.

Presumably, even might have done some dermatological work with Jackson. This is a full-service doctor right here. Who is this guy and where does he fit in? Is there any way to tell?

BLANKSTEIN: In terms of the LAPD investigation, they have said that they are going to be questioning people who provided medical treatment for Michael Jackson. But the question is - and we've seen this in the past few days - there's a number of doctors' names who have surfaced. There was a nutritionist who surfaced this afternoon, giving an interview to the Associated Press about something that she had administered to Jackson, a sedative.

So each day we get someone new that's emerging and then speculation that this might be the person connected to his final moments. And the fact is that we just don't know. And that's part of what the toxicology is going to determine, and part of what the interview process is going to be determined by detectives.

OLBERMANN: You raise a great point now, as the world's media of all origins, languages and degrees of seriousness descends on this story, the volume of information is likely to be almost immeasurable. What of the things we are hearing about today have some substance to them, as near as your reporting suggests, and what is just creative or possibly future - future-proved stories?

BLANKSTEIN: Well, I mean, take the whole memorial service. I mean, there's this plan out there, and you can see people on the July 4th holiday making this pilgrimage up to Neverland. And yet you talk to authorities and people have no idea what's going to go on.

In the courts, there hasn't been a lot of documents filed. There's been - there's a will that's supposedly out there. But in terms of what's substantive versus what's speculation is - this is really driving the story at this point.

OLBERMANN: And the last one we haven't mentioned that, the story that they might try - somebody wants to bury him at Graceland and turn that - at Neverland and turn it into Graceland West. That, among other things, comes up against zoning restrictions. You can't bury a body on private property like that, is that correct?

BLANKSTEIN: Well, I mean, I think even the Santa Barbara authorities are scratching their heads. And nobody's come forward to offer that plan, although there was an interesting letter describing some of the - you know, some of the surroundings.

OLBERMANN: Andrew Blankstein of the "L.A. Times," many thanks once again and good luck.

That's Countdown for this the 2,252nd day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.