Monday, August 31, 2009

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, August 31, 2009
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Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons
The toss: America

Guests: Lawrence O'Donnell, Arianna Huffington, Jeremy Scahill, Clarence Page


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

The Republicans stop pretending. "The number one assignment in 2009," says Senator Bennett of Utah, "is to kill Obama-care." "I ask your immediate support," Grassley e-mails his constituents, "in helping me defeat Obama-care." "Kill the bill," says Senator Barrasso of Wyoming.

And they're still trying to claim support from beyond the grave. What would Teddy have done - the GOP still insists he would have negotiated away the public option.

No, not unless you think he was lying in his letter to the Pope revealed publicly only at his burial.


CARDINAL THEODORE MCCARRICK, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON: I'm committed to everything I can to achieve access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life.


OLBERMANN: And Vicki Kennedy is out of contention to be her husband's interim successor.

More of the madness of Dick Cheney. The lukewarm torture investigations?


DICK CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I think it's an outrageous political that will do great damage, long term, to our capacity to be able to have people take on difficult jobs.


OLBERMANN: Like breaking the law, ruining the country's reputation, needlessly torturing detainees who are already talking.

And Republican racism and lying about it being racism continues.


REP. LYNN JENKINS (R), KANSAS: Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope.


OLBERMANN: Remember when that Kansas congresswoman claimed she didn't know the racist origins of that phrase?

Last month, she supported a House resolution to pardon Jack Johnson. The resolution read in part, "Whereas, the victory by Jack Johnson over Tommy Burns prompted a search for a white boxer who could beat Jack Johnson, a recruitment effort that was dubbed the search for the 'great white hope.'" She lied.

At least we can always count on the far-right to screw it up somehow.


GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS: O-L-I-G-A-R-H. One letter is missing.

Oligarch, the one that's missing is Y.


OLBERMANN: Wait, it gets worse.


BECK: Walk softly and carry a big stick.


OLBERMANN: Speak. Speak softly. Theodore Roosevelt said: speak softly and - oh, never mind.

All that and more - now on Countdown.


BECK: The one that's missing is Y.



OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.

While some of them are tonight still insisting the late Ted Kennedy would have sold out the public option, thrusting their own propaganda instead of a letter written by the dying senator to the Pope.

In our fifth story on the Countdown: Any pretext of bipartisanship were negotiated over health care was finally thrown under the bus by at least four Republican senators, including Mr. Grassley of Iowa, the one purportedly leading the bargaining - obviously bargaining with sincerity of the two Japanese diplomats who went to the White House in November 17th, 1941.

What would Teddy do? The "Liberal Lion" of the Senate having answered that question himself during - as it turned out - his own burial service on Saturday night, with a letter to the Pope that was personally hand delivered by President Obama earlier this summer. His words read in the fading light beside his grave by Cardinal McCarrick, the archbishop emeritus of Washington.


MCCARRICK: Even though I am ill, I'm committed to do everything I can to achieve access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life.


OLBERMANN: If somehow that directive were not clear enough indication of Senator Kennedy's intentions, earlier that day, in his funeral in Boston, Senator Kennedy's grandson, Max, having offered this prayer.


MAX ALLEN, SEN. KENNEDY'S GRANDSON: For what my grandpa called the cause of his life, as he said so often, in every part of this land, that every American will have decent quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege. e pray to the Lord.


OLBERMANN: Senator Orrin Hatch is in the Mission Church of Boston to hear young Max Allen's prayer, but despite that, the following morning, Senator Hatch claimed that Senator Kennedy would have compromised on the political cause of his life.


SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: When he recognized that, you know, he couldn't get everything that he wanted but he could get a good bill by working with the other side. And making through compromise, he would always come through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you think he'd move in that direction.

HATCH: I have no doubt about it.


OLBERMANN: You're the only one. In Salt Lake City, Friday, two days after Senator Kennedy's death, Senator Bennett having stated at a fund-raiser where the fundraising headliner was Karl Rove, quote, "the number one assignment in 2009 is to kill Obama-care." Senator Barrasso of Wyoming having declared the same day that it is time to kill the bill.

The bulk of the negotiating that remains is being conducted by the Senate Finance Committee, including Grassley, who learned today set out, three weeks ago, a fund-raising letter in which he, quote, "set the record on my firm and unwavering opposition to government-run health care" and asked for "immediate support in helping me defeat Obama-care"; and claimed that "If the legislation sponsored Chairman Ted Kennedy in the Senate is passed, it would be a path way to a government takeover of the health care system."

The need to replace Senator Kennedy's vote on the health care is more apparent than ever. Governor Patrick of Massachusetts today setting the 19th of January as the date of the special election to replace the senator in the Senate, also reaffirming his desire to change state law so that an interim appointment can be made in the meantime, and the government also knocking down speculation that Senator Kennedy's widow, Vicki, would be interested in that interim appointment.


GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Mrs. Kennedy is not interested in the position.


OLBERMANN: Time now to turn to a veteran of the Senate, MSNBC political analyst, Lawrence O'Donnell, who served as chief of staff to the finance committee.

Lawrence, good evening.


OLBERMANN: The Grassley letter prompting a question that takes on more outrage and more urgency with each revelation about this man from Iowa. Why is any Democrat still negotiating with the Republicans and particularly with Mr. Grassley whose word seems to mean absolutely nothing?

O'DONNELL: Well, let's see how much they really are negotiating with them when they get back from the August recess. That fundraising letter, I think, is the most devastating comment so far. Obama-care is a very broad term that, I think, to the recipients of that letter means any form of health care reform. So, that's as bad a thing as we have heard from Grassley so far.

OLBERMANN: The notion, meantime, floated by people like Mr. Hatch and other Republicans, playing on this perpetual loop at FOX, on right-wing radio, that Senator Kennedy would have compromised on the current health care reform bill, particularly regarding the public option.

You worked with Senator Kennedy on the Clinton health care reform bill process, as somebody who was in there and who - now, I presumably, heard the senator's letter to the Pope read after the senator's death during his burial - how do you respond to this notion from Mr. Hatch?

O'DONNELL: Well, I would not presume to speak for the senator who is no longer with us. I think John Kerry can do that. I think Chris Dodd can do that, because they had conversation with him specifically about where he stood on it this year.

What we do have is the history. There's a history of absolutely no compromise with Ted Kennedy on health care reform and on the central principles of it. He refused to compromise with President Nixon when President Nixon offered a very, very strong employer mandate bill, which was basically the shape of the Clinton bill 20 years later. Ted Kennedy came to regret that. He told E.J. Dionne by 2004 that, in fact, he did regret not doing business with Richard Nixon.

But after that, he became very unyielding also when President Clinton wanted him to be unyielding which was in 1994. You'll President Clinton held up a veto pen and basically said, "I'll veto anything that does not have universal coverage," which in the mechanism for that, was the employer mandate. The employer mandate was the tough get in that legislative go-ground. That's what we couldn't get passed.

Ted Kennedy did get the employer mandate passed in his committee with no Republican votes, including Orrin Hatch. He did not compromise any of the central principles of the bill to get Orrin Hatch's vote.

Same thing happened this time around. Chris Dodd was in close communication with Chairman Kennedy about what to do. When Chris Dodd passed the bill out of the committee with zero Republican votes, with Orrin Hatch voting against pens it and with John McCain voting against it, Ted Kennedy called him the next morning first thing and did not say to him, "Why didn't you get Orrin Hatch?" He called him to congratulate him for the way he passed the bill and what was in it.

OLBERMANN: You said at the start, let's see how much negotiating the Democrats actually do after the - after the break is over. In the Republican radio address over the weekend, Senator Enzi, who's also supposed to be part of these purportedly bipartisan talks, said that the Democrats and their health care proposals will actually make our nation's finances sicker without saving you money. He said, "They would raid Medicare," and he said, "They would intrude in the relationship between a doctor and a patient."

Mr. Gibbs this afternoon at the White House said that those remarks were illuminating.

Is his response illuminating as to where the White House may have finally come down on this? Did they finally get it at the White House?

O'DONNELL: I think they should be counting Enzi out. I mean, how you could ever imagine the Republican from Wyoming being on board on something like this, it always surprise me. He, too, was on the Kennedy committee. He also voted against the Kennedy bill. He also did not engage in negotiations with Chris Dodd on that bill.

And now, he has been involved in the finance committee negotiations which had been more than looser - been more open, but I never saw a root to getting his vote on what the president wants which is this public option and other elements. And I don't see it now.

And so, the White House, the problem for the White House is, this is

very bad news when they get to the end of the August recess and they

realize there are no Republican votes - if that's what they are realizing

because they did not have a strategy prior to now, to do this without Republican votes.

OLBERMANN: Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC political analyst, also of "Huffington Post" - as always, sir, great thanks.

O'DONNEL: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: We mentioned Governor Deval Patrick said today that Mrs. Kennedy does not what the interim appointment if it happens to succeed her husband. So, who then and what now?

Let's turn to Arianna Huffington, our co-founder and editor-in-chief of

Arianna, good evening.


OLBERMANN: To your knowledge, is Massachusetts now indeed expected to alter its law about an interim appointment and will it get that somebody who represents Senator Kennedy's vote and vision on health care and get them sooner rather than later?

HUFFINGTON: Well, it is not certain by any means. But there's a lot of pressure to actually change the law so that somebody can fill the seat for the next five months. And that person has to promise - as you know, Keith - that they are not going to run in the special election. So, it will truly be an interim appointment.

And since Vicki Kennedy took herself out of the running, it's down to Joe Kennedy and - or even Teddy Kennedy because even though Kennedy Jr. lives in Connecticut, he has a home in Hyannis Port. So, legally, he could be considered.

And then, of course, all the staffers - you know, these amazing Ted Kennedy staffers who've been with him for over 40 years. Barbara Souliotis ran his Boston office, who is an icon in terms of the way she cares for the constituents or Michael Myers who spearheaded the health care policy team. And there's - great group of staffers who really believe in everything the senator believed in who also may be considered.

OLBERMANN: Would there be Republican blowback if it's if it's Teddy Kennedy Jr., if it's Joe Kennedy? Would there be a problem with either one of those simply because they wouldn't want the name to carry the weight - even if it was just for less than five months and it was a guarantee those people were not going to run, whoever wound up being the interim senator not running in January?

HUFFINGTON: Oh, yes. Of course, there would always be blowback. As we've seen, they haven't exactly being reasonable, and so much is at stake, with milestone health care legislation, that they wouldn't let Ted Kennedy's memories stand in the way. And I mean, I think that even Bobby Kennedy or Jack Kennedy somehow found a way to complete the senator's term, there might be blowback.

OLBERMANN: Who outside the family is under consideration to your knowledge? Who would do it and who would do it well and who would do it?

HUFFINGTON: Well, I'm actually being told that senior staffers like the ones I mentioned, or like Nick Littlefield, who you may remember sang during the memorial. And he's a former staffer and now practices as a lawyer in Massachusetts; Carey Parker, who is the legislative director, who is Senator Kennedy's staff for 40 years - that all of them are also being considered if the law is changed. And we don't know that yet.

OLBERMANN: As to the special election in January, is there a chance that the seat might not remain firmly in Democratic hands, the state did elect a Republican governor previous to this one?

HUFFINGTON: Exactly, two Republican governors. You know, Mitt Romney, and before that, Bill Weld.

Actually, Keith, I really think it depends on three factors. One is who the candidate will be. You know, if it's somebody like Ed Markey or Barney Frank. You know, they have a huge following in the state. Who the Republican would be - if it's Mitt Romney, that would be a real race.

And, perhaps most important, what the conditions are on the ground will be. Massachusetts already has about 9 percent of unemployment, not quite but almost. Foreclosures are very high. What's going to be happening by the time the special election comes in January will be very significant and in terms of how much opposition to the Democratic nominee there will be.

OLBERMANN: Let's double back to conclude this to the Grassley letter. Did that surprise you in any - in any way, shape, form, that Mr. Grassley while purporting to be negotiating had told this - in a fund-raiser told his supporters, "My job is to kill Obama-care"?

HUFFINGTON: Actually, Keith, didn't surprise me but I'm surprised it surprised the White House, because, for Gibbs the Enzi letter, the Enzi comments illuminating and to still hold any hope that Grassley or Enzi could actually support any real health care reform legislation, I find that incredibly surprising.

OLBERMANN: Well, I suppose the spirit of the idea of it not being surprising is charming in one way, but I think you're right on the whole picture.

Arianna Huffington, co-founder, editor of "Huffington Post" - as always, thank you, Arianna.

HUFFINGTON: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Irony, isn't it, that the Republican approach on health care seems to have been to negotiate while back home promising to kill, to take no prisoners. Taking no prisoners would have served them well when it came to detention and rendition and torture.

Instead, we have the continuing, astonishing spectacle of their former vice president, now not only demanding that no investigation be made of the crimes committed by him and others, but also - if you reverse-engineer his premise - also insisting that the Obama administration should be able to break any laws it feels like breaking and never itself be subject to any investigation - next.


OLBERMANN: Dick Cheney's endless opposition to law and order might be a little more credible if he didn't say dumb things such as he doesn't even know who's in charge of interrogation under President Obama. It's a key figure from the Bush administration's CIA.

And Glenn Beck might be a little more credible if he didn't screw up his own stunts, misspell key words in his demagoguery, and misquote everybody from Shakespeare to Teddy Roosevelt in a span of two days. Do what to carry a big stick?

You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: It is true what they say. For some guys, when they retire, they lose their edge and miss a step here and there and just stop caring - which brings us to our fourth story tonight: Old man Cheney.

Do you ever get the feeling some people aren't even trying anymore? In fact, when he told FOX News that CIA operatives investigated for possible torture will have to pay for their own lawyers, even Chris Wallace corrected him. Not the first time Cheney said it, mind you, but the second. On everything else, Wallace was silent.

On Obama's new interrogation task force, Cheney, quote, "I don't even know who's running it. This guy, it was in all the papers, John Brennan. He was over at the CIA when you were vice president.

Grandpa Dick also claiming - before the preliminary investigation into CIA torture has even begun - that it's all political.


CHENEY: They're going to go out and investigate the CIA personnel who carried out those investigations. I just - I think it's an outrageous political act that will do great damage, long term, to our capacity to be able to have people take on difficult jobs.


OLBERMANN: An outrageous political act to be carried out by this man prosecutor John Durham, appointed by the Bush Justice Department to investigate CIA destruction of interrogation videos. And outrageous political act first recommended by the Office of Professional Responsibility, the ethics office of the Bush Justice Department.

"The Weekly Standard' today reporting that Mr. Bush's attorney general, Michael Mukasey, when hay saw an early draft, quote, "questioned why the ethics office recommended that investigation." That same office, not as the old (INAUDIBLE) claims Mr. Obama, that same office was the one to suggest disbarring Bush lawyers who had green lighted torture.

And, of course, the logical fallacy that torture must have worked because al Qaeda has not attacked again. Vice president's dodos, ignorance about terrorism apparently still immune to the fact that the first World Trade Center bombing was followed by more than 8 ½ years without any attack.


CHENEY: I guess the other thing that offends the hell out of me, frankly, Chris, is we had a track record now of eight years of defending the nation against any further mass casualty attacks from al Qaeda. The approach of the Obama administration should be, to come to those people who were involved in that policy and say, how did you do it?


OLBERMANN: With us tonight, Jeremy Scahill, contributor at "The Nation" and author of "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army."

Good evening.

JEREMY SCAHILL, "THE NATION" MAGAZINE: It's sobering to think that man actually had his finger on the trigger.

OLBERMANN: And still thinks he does. That's the other part of it.

Mr. Obama said, Mr. Holder said - they both did this - that they will only investigate those who actually went beyond the Bush/Cheney guidelines, which has infuriated many on the left on the pretext that breaking the law is enough to merit investigation, let alone breaking the law that broke the law - but why would Cheney object to Obama enforcing rules that come from Bush and Cheney?

SCAHILL: Right. Well, let's remember that Dick Cheney doesn't want the American people - not to mention the U.S. Congress to know anything that happened under his administration - that when he took us to the dark side, as he talked about it.

But let's remember here that these legal justifications, quote-unquote, "for torture," that's what it was, that Cheney and Bush and their lawyers developed, they were incredible stretches of the law to begin with. They violate the basic principles of multiple conventions, including the Convention Against Torture, which was, of course, ratified under that militant leftist Ronald Reagan, that violates the Geneva Convention as that draft-dodging man who had never know torture if he endured it for years, John McCain condemned on the Sunday talk shows this weekend.

So, the fact is, I think, that Dick Cheney wants to cover up all the criminality, all of the wrongdoing from the American people.

OLBERMANN: There remains no proof, no evidence in the last batch of documents revealed that torture saved anyone - even people on the right-wing have said it's not there. The Bush liaison to homeland security said you might be able to infer it from what is written there but it's not in the report. Chris Wallace failed to ask about evidence that torture hurt us and not just in terms of reputation but in terms of our safety. You never brought that - never brought the negatives up in this interview.

SCAHILL: Right. Well, I mean, watching Chris Wallace, quote-unquote, "interview" Dick Cheney, and in the words of Andrew Sullivan, it was like watching a teenage journalist interviewing the Jonas Brothers. I mean, the only way it could have been lower is if Sarah Palin interviewed Dick Cheney herself.

So, if you just looked at the so-called questions that Chris Wallace asked Dick Cheney, there was not a single hard question there, except when he corrected him - as you pointed out - on the issue of the CIA paying for the defense of these individuals.

We don't have real journalism, for the most part, in this society when we talk about the question of torture. The fact is, that if the American people were aware in detail, drumbeat coverage of what was being done in their name - power drills, squeezing of testicles, slamming people's heads against walls - all of the things that went on, it would stop. That's the role of journalists, and yet we see this infotainment with Dick Cheney, a war criminal.

OLBERMANN: Let me reverse-engineer this as I suggested. Has it occurred to Cheney or anybody who defends him what he is ultimately suggesting for the future, that if any administration can't look - this one - can't look back at what crimes or wrongdoing may have been committed by the previous one, that that's basically a signal to anybody in the Obama administration, "Hey, go ahead, do whatever you want because nobody in the future can come back and investigate you" is essentially a divine right of precedence then, isn't it?

SCAHILL: Right. I think there are two things here. One, Dick Cheney is fighting to have these policies continue. That's really the point here. He is not thinking about what Obama - what the Obama people are going to do. He's thinking about what he wants to continue to happen in the dark corners of the Earth of secret prisons at Guantanamo and Bagram.

But that raises a more important point. The Obama administration needs to hold these individuals accountable from top to bottom so that we send a message, going forward, that torture is going to be unacceptable in this country. The media set the tone and they get an "F" for their coverage on this issue.

OLBERMANN: Last point briefly. Cheney wanted to attack Iran. He mentioned this. But nobody in his own administration agreed with him. What does that tell us?

SCAHILL: Well, I mean, I think - given the amount of power Cheney had, it shows us how close to nuclear midnight we actually were.


SCAHILL: . when it came to a war in Iran. It also is a vindication of all the reporting that Seymour Hirsch did about Cheney's role.


SCAHILL: . in the threats against Iran.

OLBERMANN: And it also says that there are - were, in fact, ideas that were too crazy even for George Bush.

SCAHILL: And that's also true.

OLBERMANN: Jeremy Scahill of "The Nation" - great thanks for coming in.

SCAHILL: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: I don't want to complain but the poll dancers in this place leave a lot to be desired.

As does she - back on the air, billed as an expert on health care reform while she's being paid by health care companies to try to kill health care reform. Who would fall for this act again? The lies of Betsy McCaughey - ahead in "Worst Persons."


OLBERMANN: "Bests" in a moment and what happens when health care supporters Astroturf a Republican town hall?

First, 112 years ago yesterday was born one of the great underrated American actors. Frederick March played everything and everybody from "Jekyll & Hyde" to Normain Maine in a "Star is Born" to the World War II vet in "The Best Years of Our Lives," Willy Loman, to the president in "Seven Days in May," to the William Jennings Brian character in "Inherit the Wind." And he worked from 1921 through 1973.

Let's play "Oddball."

We begin in Beijing as China's invisible man prepares for his next vanishing act. The latest in body paint technology allows local artist, Liu Bolin, to camouflage himself into the city's many nooks and crannies. Three of Liu's assistants paint the human chameleon for several hours while he stands pretty quickly still. Once paint is applied, watch as Liu disappears into this intricately carved doorway.

Although the blending works much better with simple surroundings, like a baron wall or the brain trust at fixed news. Liu is already planning his next stunt using paint to vanish into thin air although a few have advice he should not attempt that particular trick near the adjoining highway.

To (INAUDIBLE) in India, where the village elders are worried that one of their most hallowed traditions will die an untimely death if they don't do something about it, talking, of course, about the ancient virtual pole pillow fighting. Opponents sit facing one another straddling this bamboo pole here and just doing "Monty Python" bits on each other.

One of them is supposed to fall off, he's the loser. Town's folk hope the latest tournament will encourage the local youth to not be swayed by more modern, sophisticated sports. Participants are judge on speed, accuracy, awarded points for their pillow's ability to really tie a room together.

Meanwhile, the reining champs said to be so dedicated, he keeps a pillow by his bed. Thank you. Thank you.

The self-described right wing terrorist, applauded by the California congressman, he now says he meant extremist.

How do you spell relief? I spell it watching Glenn Beck and laughing out loud as he sabotages himself, yet again.

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

Dateline, Virginia beach, number three, best political resume, Robert F. McDonnell, Republican candidate for governor of Virginia. In a recent interview, he proudly referred to his master's thesis. So the "Washington Post" found it in his university's library. In it, he described women having jobs as detrimental to the family, called legalized use of contraception illogical, pushed to make divorce more difficult, and insisted government should favor married couples over, quote, cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.

Wow. When did he write this? 1875? No, 1989. Wow, 1989. Good-bye, Mr. McDonnell.

Dateline the Pentagon, number two, best reversal, Rear Admiral Gregory J. Smith. The military had rehired the Rendon Group to vet journalists seeking to get embedded in Iraq. Then "Stars and Stripes" pointed out that the Rendon Group had graded journalists on whether they were willing to emphasize positive coverage. Rear Admiral Smith has now fired the Rendon Group.

And Dateline Lamar, Texas, number one, best comeuppance, Republican Congressman Pete Olson. Held a health care town hall, during which he told the story of Britney, a pregnant woman who couldn't find a doctor to treat her unborn child's heart defect, and claimed she is, quote, convinced her child would not have been born if there was a public option.

That's when Congressman Olson found that protests and shouting cut two ways. Somebody at the town hall yelled that's not true and then - then it was olly, olly, oxen free.


REP. PETE OLSON (R), TEXAS: Don't talk to me. Talk to Britney.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The insurance company turned her down, not the government. The private insurance turned her down, not the government. My god. The doctors - exactly, that's not the government. That's not the government. That wasn't the government.

OLSON: Quiet. The government set it up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go. Death panel. Death panel.

OLSON: Sit down. I want to thank you all for coming.


OLBERMANN: Challenged by reality - Britney was not denied doctors. She was denied insurance. Congressman Pete Olson lasted 47 seconds until he shut the meeting down, 47 seconds, congressman. Congratulations. Also, there is a doe in your backyard who wants the deer in the headlights look back whenever you're done with it.


OLBERMANN: The Republican Congresswoman who called for the "great white hope" and then claimed she did not know what the phrase really meant, turns out she had recently supported a bill that explained what it meant. The California man who proudly declared himself a right wing terrorist now says he meant to say extremist. And it is his fault, not that Congressman's. Also in our third story in the Countdown, secessionists in Texas holding a rally, with a gubernatorial candidate, saying they know it might mean a bloody war.

Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins first. The Kansas lawmaker, you will recall, let this one fly at a recent town hall meeting.


REP. LYNN JENKINS (R), KANSAS: Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope. I suggest to any of you that are concerned about that that are Republicans, there are some great young Republican minds in Washington.


OLBERMANN: She rattled off four examples of Republican great white hopes. And in her subsequent pseudo apology, she said that she did not know what great white hope meant, or that it held negative connotations. Turns out that less than a month earlier, she had supported a House resolution calling on President Obama to pardon, posthumously, the first African-American heavyweight boxing champ, Jack Johnson, for bogus and racist convictions under the Mann Act.

The resolution read, in part, "whereas the victory of Jack Johnson over Tommy Burns prompted a search for a white boxer who could beat Jack Johnson, a recruitment effort that was dubbed the search for the great white hope."

Jenkins' new excuse? Quoting her spokeswoman, "no, she did not read the specific resolution."

You may also recall Congressman Wally Herger of California's second district and his response to this man.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to say that I'm a proud right-wing terrorist.

REP. WALLY HERGER (R), CALIFORNIA: Amen, god bless you. There is a great American.


OLBERMANN: The so-called great American, Burt Stead, now says, quote, "I meant to say extremist. I was defending my right to be extreme, but not in the same sense as going out and doing violence. I think Wally heard extremist. My mistake has caused Wally a lot of trouble."

And more noise in Texas, where a pro-secession rally in Austin last Friday drew, wow, almost 205 people. It included a reference to a bloody war and a Republican candidate for governor named Deborah Medina.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: US flag is coming down from over Texas. It will not be part of Texas anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no clue about the legality of it. All I do know is that's what we as Texans need. Secession is the answer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are aware that stepping off into secession may, in fact, be a bloody war.


OLBERMANN: Let's turn to Pulitzer prize winning syndicated columnist and an editorial board member of the "Chicago Tribune," Clarence Page. Clarence, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Let me start in California first. This is - we're wading into some very deep waters here. This man calls himself a proud right wing terrorist and a Congressman not only doesn't question that, but praises the man. And a week later the man says, no, I didn't mean terrorist. I meant extremist. And he says Congressman Herger must have heard extremist, not terrorist. And his fault - all of this is his fault, not the Congressman's. How does that work exactly?

PAGE: The gentleman has been caught not listening to what he said and Congressman Herger has been caught not listening to what the gentleman said either. This is fascinating, Keith. I'm reminded of Barry Goldwater, remember him, back in '64? He proclaimed that he was proud to be an extremist in pursuit of liberty and it cost him about 44 states, as I recall, in his pursuit of the presidency.

So this gentleman apparently wanted to say extremist, and that wasn't quite hot enough under the hot lights. So he said terrorist. What's odd is that the Congressman smiled and nodded and let the crowd applaud and all of that.

Not a great sight. Really comes off well on Youtube, doesn't it?

OLBERMANN: It does. As does Congresswoman Jenkins and the stuff

about the great white hope, which gets more and more embarrassing as it

proceeds. She said she did not know this was a racially charged phrase,

even though it has been one for just about exactly a century. And now we -

she supported this resolution that not only explained the phrase, but went to the defense of its original victim, Jack Johnson, the month before this all happened. And now she says, no, she didn't actually read this resolution that she supported.

This is another terrific sense of coincidences. Isn't it? She should play the Lottery.

PAGE: I wanted to give her a break because young people just aren't learning history these days. We all know that. But I mean, not to be able to remember a month ago what she voted on - the real embarrassment here is that she, like a lot of Congress people, doesn't really read the legislation that she votes on all the time. She has been caught in this instance.

OLBERMANN: That's the good news. If she - if she is lying and she's covering up something else - the good news is she's not doing her job correctly.

PAGE: What's really interesting here, Keith, is this kind of reminded me of poor Joe Biden, when he thought he was complimenting Barack Obama by saying he was clean and articulate, and made a little culture gaffe there, if you will, because of the way blacks and whites perceive the word. It's really closer to Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, who said he thought the Obamas were a couple of those intellectual uppity people, and said he didn't know later that uppity had racial connotations to it, in Georgia.

OLBERMANN: It's too bad that that Ken Burns' DVD didn't get out to Kansas about Jack Johnson, that wonderful two parter about Jack Johnson, a year before - two, three years before.

PAGE: Not to mention James Earl Ray - excuse me, James Earl Jones wonderful movie. I just made a gaffe here.

OLBERMANN: Well, but you corrected it immediately and you didn't hide from it. You didn't say, no, no, I didn't know the difference between these two men, and you should compliment me about that.

PAGE: As I guy who gets called Clarence Thomas by accident about once a week, believe me.

OLBERMANN: That's your sense. That's your cross. Last point, Texas; that was a minor Republican candidate, probably not somebody that will be running against Rick Perry and Hutchison. But speaking of a bloody war, the Republican governor, Mr. Perry, didn't attend that rally, but he previously has said Texas would be able to leave if necessary. He has flirted with this idea of secession. Where are the grownups on this? Secession would be a bloody war. If Texas would managed to secede, it would become an instant third world country.

PAGE: This kind of reminds me of what a friend in Virginia once told me, when I said I thought the Civil War ended in 1865. He said that wasn't the end. That was just intermission. That's the way a lot of folks think out in the south, especially out in Texas.

Now, you know, I love Texas. I have a lot of readers in Texas. And I was educated myself here about 15, 20 years ago as to how much the Republic of Texas movement is still very much alive in some people's hearts. Obviously, Rick Perry's no dummy. I mean, he knows that he can touch a lot of heart strings in his pursuit of higher office here by ringing the old Republic of Texas bell. You see the folks gathered out there in the square.

What's sad here is that there's kind of an implication here of sour grapes, if you ask me. It is like things haven't gone the way they want to, with our democratic system, elected this latest president. And now they're talking secession.

OLBERMANN: I'm also reminded again, of the civil war - the civil war, southern politician who said of one of the states, it was too small for a country and too big for an insane asylum. Clarence Page, the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist of the Tribune, as always, sir, great thanks for your time.

PAGE: Don't forget about Chicago too, Keith. Thank you.

OLBERMANN: O-L-I - I don't know how to spell - G-A-R - are you sure this how you spell Olbermann? H? Uh-oh.

The man who last month was openly rooting for another bin Laden attack in this country now says it's Democrats who want one. Worst persons ahead.

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, the Grassley cat is out of the bag. As he tells constituents he is trying to kill health care reform, not negotiate about it. Her special guest, Senator Bernie Sanders.


OLBERMANN: He can't spell. He can't get Shakespeare's quotes right.

He can't get Teddy Roosevelt's quotes right. Other than that, genius. Genius, I tells you. That's next, but first time for Countdown's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.

The bronze to Betsy McCoy, the shameless, factless health industry shill, back on cNBC, allowed to again spew the stuff she made up, or more likely that was handed to her by her Pharma overlords, claiming pages 16 and 17 of the reform bill will, quote, "force everyone under the age of 65 to buy the same, one size fits all, government plan." Except it doesn't say that. It describes how you can keep your current insurance if you like it for some reason.

When a pro-reform advocate repudiated McCoy's lie, the interview was suddenly capped by the host. But the real question is why is she still allowed on TV when her shill-dom is so well known that even one of her own health care employers fired her from its board in embarrassment? She is a paid employee?

The runner up, columnist, singer Pat Boone, describes seeing cancer

fighting cells he saw under a microscope once as "a bunch of little orphan

Annie eyes, perfectly round, clear circles." Described the cancer cells he

saw as, quote, "little black iridescent globs, almost radiant from within,

pulsing with menace, looking like miniature Darth Vaders from 'Star Wars.'

Then he concluded, "I have to ask the obvious question. Do we know how cancer starts, where the black, filthy cells come from?"

He then compare the miniaturized Darth Vaders, the black iridescent globs, the black filthy cells, to a political virus. And concluded, quote, "I call it liberalism." And when there is an African-American president, Pat, the rest of us call those filthy black references racism.

But our winner, Michael Scheuer, ex-CIA staffer, back with another remark about a terrorist attack here, which if uttered by a liberal would be the subject of diatribes on every Fixed News show and every right wing radio hat cast all day long. "Oh, sure we're going to be attacked. Rahm Emanuel wants an attack. He loves crisis and crisis, the Democrats, he says, can get all their programs through. These people simply do not care. For the first time, I think a sitting president is giving aid and comfort to the enemy, both psychologically and materially. The president obviously does not care."

This is the same lunatic who last month said, without anybody as much as reproaching him, "the only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States." Mr. Scheuer, you do realize that it is now self-evident you are rooting for terrorism to take place in this country and thus rooting for the terrorists?

Former CIA bin Laden station chief and evidently former American, Michael Scheuer, today's worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN: The danger of today's version of the mythical, home spun, awe shucks, TV totalitarian Lonesome Roads, Glenn Beck is summed up by remarks today in which he claimed that a revolution has begun in this country, "a stealing of America in the guise of an election," and his repeated insistence that the president is a Marxist. In our number one story in the Countdown, the comfort of today's mythical, home spun, awe shucks, TV totalitarian, lonesome roads Glenn Beck is that every day he gives away the essential truth that he is an idiot.

If you are going to warn the colonist that the English have arrived in the bay, you are not going to get very far by jumping onto a horse and yelling, "the brutish (ph) are coming. The brutish are coming."

If you are trying to tell Mr. Chambers that the alien book "To Serve Man" is not about helping people, but eating them, you kind of lose your credibility if you say, "Mr. Chambers, don't get on the ship. The rest of the book, 'to serve man,' it is a phone book!"

Here's Mr. Beck last week, with the zeal of Paul Revere and the panic of Mr. Chambers assistant cryptographer, Pat, and the spelling ability of a third grader.


GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I told you we were going to - we were going to talk about these things. We were going to talk about Obama, the left, internationalist, graft, acorn-style organizations, revolution and hidden agenda. O-L-I-G-a-R-H -

One letter is missing. Why did I select these words? Because Acorn selects tides. They all select their words first, and then tie them all together into one word. Oligarch - the one that's missing is Y.

I don't know if we are turning into an oligarchy or what we're turning into. But unless you ask why, we are going to transform into something. Ask questions.


OLBERMANN: I have a question. Don't you rehearse? Oligarchy? Did Obama steal the letter C? Mr. Beck came back the next day and tried to bury the reality that the less than one percent of the country that watches or listens to his show thinking they are not listening to an uneducated, imperceptive, panicky whack job are completely mistaken.

Channeling his inner Pee-Wee Herman, he said everything but I meant to do that, and suggested he almost left out the C in oligarchy on purpose, that the C stands for czars. This was desperation at its worst. The fascination with czars is fodder for a segment of its own. The use of the Russian dictatorial term czar for a presidential appointee did not just begin yesterday. It began with President Nixon, when he put in an energy czar, William Simon, during the oil crisis of December 1973. Simon probably announced we'd be starting daylight savings not in April, but in January. That's a czar.

The true era of American czars came under, gosh, Ronald Reagan. He created the position of drug czar, filled more or less continuously since 1982. So Mr. Beck, if you are going to insult czars and the sainted memories of President Nixon and President Reagan, I'm going to have to challenge you to a duel. That's D-U-E-L, by the way. It is hard to say what percentage of that less than one percent watches in rapt, mesmerized fascination as the truth teller, whose low brain function is no lower than their own, and what percentage watches, as the rest of us do, for the never unfulfilled promise of a train wreck yet to come.

He misquoted Shakespeare the other day. To me, train wreck. To his gullible viewers, golly, he knows about Shakey's Pizza. I mean, look, he quotes Theodore Roosevelt, yes, the guy who looks like the mountain.


BECK: We speak without fear, while basing it all in fact. Walk softly and carry a big stick. That ain't a gun, man. That is the facts.


OLBERMANN: Yes, it is. Walk softly and carry a big stick. Speak softly and carry a big stick. Whatever. That's the facts. One other thing here. College communications programs don't teach you much about actual broadcasting. But I have one professor whose full-time job was as general manger at one of the local radio stations. Among many things, he taught me one truth that he said separated the men from the boys. "I hate those egotistical good morning world sign-ons," Don Martin said to me. "People watch and listen to radio and TV one person at a time. Talk to one person at a time. Whenever I hear good evening, everyone, I turn around to see who comes in the room with me when they say that." Ahem.


BECK: Well, hello, America.

Good night, America.


OLBERMANN: Don't forget, squawk softly, carry a big brick and leave off the last C for savings. That's Countdown for this the 2,314th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.

I'm Keith Olbermann, to paraphrase Ron Burgundy's sign off, stay classy, Countdown-land.

Now, to discuss Mr. Grassley's fund-raising letter, in which he finally admits he is just trying to kill health care reform, and not negotiate it, ladies and gentlemen, here's Rachel Maddow.


OLBERMANN: Yes. All of you are watching at the same time. It is not my ego that's predicting that, yes.

MADDOW: America. Thank you, Keith.


Friday, August 28, 2009

No show. Funeral of Senator Ted Kennedy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, August 27, 2009
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons
The toss: What's left

Guests: Andrea Mitchell, Howard Fineman, Lawrence O'Donnell, Rep. Maxine Waters, Christian Finnegan


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

Another Kennedy, another memorial, another weekend of sadness mixed with warm remembrance as the senior senator from Massachusetts travels through his beloved state for a final time.

And momentum builds to give his state and his party an interim successor, perhaps one with a very familiar name to Democrats or one with a very familiar name to the tabloid obsessed.

While, in Ted Kennedy's memory, nonpartisanship and even a cooling of the temperature on the health care debate has been the rule on both sides, there have been moments of utter tastelessness - like this morning.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: There's been no real negotiations. That's not the kind of negotiations that I did with Senator Kennedy on a number of issues.


OLBERMANN: And there's even worse. Lynn Jenkins is a newly-elected congresswoman from Kansas.


REP. LYNN JENKINS (R), KANSAS: The Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope.


OLBERMANN: The spokeswoman has apologized for the representative's word choice. She says there may be some misunderstanding there when she talked about the "great white hope." But since the phrase "great white hope" was coined during the search for a white boxer to take the heavyweight crown back from Jack Johnson in 1910, there really isn't a lot to misunderstand here.

"Worsts": The California congressman and the clown who thinks this was satire. Oh, there's tape of this now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a proud right-wing terrorist.


REP. WALLY HERGER (R), CALIFORNIA: Amen, God bless you. There's a great American.



OLBERMANN: Turns out the guy is also a birther, still Congressman Herger defends him.

Congressman, maybe you should introduce this paranoid to "Congresswoman Great White Hope" over here?

All that and more - now on Countdown.


HERGER: Amen, God bless you.



OLBERMANN: Tonight, at the JFK Library in Boston, the crowds having waited for hours to pay there respects to Edward M. Kennedy, the man they sent to the Senate nine times, who served them in that capacity for nearly five decades.

Good evening from New York.

One year ago this month, as he was undergoing a chemotherapy treatment, Senator Kennedy having read in the newspaper about two servicemen from the same small town in Massachusetts who had been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan respectively. "We are going down there," he said, to pay a call on the families.

And when his treatment had ended, despite the fact that his treatment had just ended, that's exactly what he did. He hugged everyone, he pet the dogs and recalling his oldest brother Joe, the pilot who had been shot down in World War II. He counseled the families on getting through their grief. "The first year is the hardest," one soldier's mother remembers him saying. "The first birthdays, the first anniversary, the holidays, the pain will never go away," he told then, but it will be easier to bear.

Our fifth story on the Countdown: If only the Kennedys of Hyannis Port had had the senior senator from Massachusetts to pay a call on them.

The day beginning with a private mass for the family, after which an honor guard carried the coffin of Senator Kennedy to the hearse. The casket then traveling 72 miles from the Cape to Boston. The motorcade, 85 members of the Kennedy family in all, winding around city landmarks that had been important to the senator, including the church where his mother had been baptized and the park dedicated in her honor, Faneuil Hall where the city's mayor rang that structure's historic bell 47 times, once for each year that Kennedy served at senator for Massachusetts. The JFK Federal Building where his office has been for decades, and finally, the library dedicated to his brother's presidency.

Some people leaving mementos ahead of Senator Kennedy's arrival at the JFK Library, and one man impulsively taking off the Boston Red Sox cap from his own head, telling a reporter that, quote, "it just seemed appropriate to leave a cap in honor of Teddy's favorite team." The funeral mass will take place Saturday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston, Senator Kennedy to be buried that night at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, near the graves of his brothers.

Senator Kennedy having told friends recently that he was looking forward to a reunion with his seven late siblings, especially his three brother, all of whose lives have been cut short, the first of whom he had lost 65 years ago.

Congressman Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts, friend of the senator's,

telling "The New York Times," quote, "When he gets there, he can say, 'I

did it, I carried the torch. I carried it all the way.'"

Lots to talk about tonight with our own Andrea Mitchell who is in Boston.

Thanks for being with us. Good evening, Andrea.


It's an extraordinary moment here at the Kennedy Library.

OLBERMANN: Is it probable, base on how quickly that moment has been reached and how precisely, that the senator had a hand in planning the events we are now seeing unfold?

MITCHELL: Oh, I think so. They had plenty of time, plenty of warning. Up until the last week and days, he was really active. He was reading materials. Then it got really, really bad. And as Vicki Kennedy told Joe Biden, and you can hear, right under the flight path for Logan Airport, as she said to the vice president, "He was ready to go."

The family, though, I have to tell you, this has been so beautifully organized, and the fact that they would come out and walk this line. We saw Caroline Kennedy exchanging, you know, thoughts and thanks and prayers with people along the line, Bobby Kennedy Jr. - all them, down to the littlest grandchild and great nephew and great niece, they are thanking people along this line as thousands have lined up waiting to go in. You don't see a big crowd behind me, because they come up in group. They are sorted up in groups to go inside.

And when I was here at the opening of this great library, and memorial for Jack Kennedy when we had Jackie Kennedy Onassis and John Jr. and Caroline and, of course, Teddy. And now, all but Caroline are gone.

OLBERMANN: Certainly, the sadness is not absent from the family, but there seems to be an intent - as you implied there - to make it a real celebration of the senator's life. Is that also part of his planning for this? Was that - are those his final marching orders to them about what to do in this situation in public?

MITCHELL: I think so, and I think that they so understand him that, you know, Vicki Kennedy, who really is the love of his life, knew that he wanted to be in Hyannis Port. He wanted to be sailing. He wanted to be with his dogs and his children and grandchildren in these final weeks and final days. So, she organized, really, the care and then when the care was clearly not going to change the outcome, the final days that were really more of a hospice situation, frankly.

But he was where he wanted to be when he finally went. But, you know, there will be a lot of sentimental moments - you pointed out the landmarks, and passing Saint Stephens where his mother Rose was baptized and then had the funeral mass. He was so close to his mother and she was such an extraordinary influence on him.

This has been overwhelming in the public celebration of a life, the only Kennedy brother who lived a full life of 77 years, not as long as we would have wanted or they would have wanted, but did not - as David Von Drehle wrote in "Time" magazine today - did not become omnific because of his death, it was really his life that defined him.

But I have to tell you, in talking to some of the nephews and the children and grandchildren, the Kennedy family members that I've known here, siblings, this is very, very painful, for Jean Smith and for Ethel Kennedy - Jean, the last surviving member of that original family. This is a period of mourning. They are grieving deeply.

OLBERMANN: Andrea Mitchell in Boston who has answered all of our questions and anticipated so many more. Great thanks for that, and for this insight into this extraordinary day. Talk to you over the weekend. Thanks.

MITCHELL: You bet.

OLBERMANN: Before Senator Kennedy's death, everyone loathed to raise the prospect of filling the senator's seat after he was gone. Perhaps that's why Senator Kennedy was the one who broke the ice, by raising the question of succession himself. The senator having written that letter to Massachusetts Governor Patrick and state lawmakers, asking to have the state law changed to allow for a quick and temporary replacement upon his death until a special election could be held.

The letter written last month, but revealed just last week, only days before the senator's death. In the wake of his passing, the matter taking on more urgency, of course, if the law is not changed. And it was already changed by Democrats to avoid the prospect of a then-Republican governor getting to pick a successor to John Kerry had Kerry beaten President Bush in 2004. If the law's not changed again, the seat will remain unfilled until January at the earliest.

Governor Patrick addressing the succession this morning.


GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I think that the senator's made a very, a very reasonable request. I support the idea of a special election, which is provided for in our current law, and the senator did as well. Now, having said that, I have to say that our first thoughts today are on the life and the extraordinary achievements of the senator.


OLBERMANN: To that subject that Governor Patrick sort of side-stepped there and our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine.

Howard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: First, the question of when succession will happen. If Democrats control Beacon Hill and Democrats control Washington, does that mean Senator Kennedy's wish is granted to have this succession law changed again and to have an interim senator appointed?

FINEMAN: Well, it's not automatic but I think it's going to happen I think. Talking to friends of mine in Boston and sources in Boston - they're not always the same by the way - my sense of it is that the House speaker in Boston in the state legislature is going to go along with this, and I think the president pro tem of the Senate and Deval Patrick, the governor, is for it.

And what that will mean, Keith, is that there will be a sort of caretaker appointed by the governor, a person who clearly is not going to want to run for the unexpired, full unexpired term in that special election, which will still take place in January. If the idea would be to get a second senator in there as a caretaker and place-holder, and more important, a second voice for Massachusetts and very important to base and even more important than that, a 60th Democratic vote in the Senate.

That's why Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the United States Senate, has been calling for this. I think Patrick and the Democratic leaders are going to be able to get it done.

OLBERMANN: So, that would be the reason that the Republicans might stand down on opposition on the understanding that this would not be a five-month jump-start on the special election for whoever got appointed? Does that.


OLBERMANN: And does that mean, then, it's more likely - or less likely to be the prosecutor from the infamous nanny case, Martha Coakley, and more like to be somebody like former Governor Dukakis?

FINEMAN: Yes, absolutely. It wouldn't be - if it were to be the Attorney General Martha Coakley who clearly wants to run. She was interested in running if John Kerry had won the presidency in 2004. She's very ambitious. That would - that would - that would - that would scotch the deal right there.

It would have to be somebody like Mike Dukakis, and he's been talked about a lot. There are certain historic justice from a Democratic state to have a former Democratic standard bearer take that job and Mike Dukakis, a policy wonk that he is, is up on all the issues. He would be perfect for the job. So, that's the kind of person that would have be - would have to say, "I'm not in it to run in five months."

OLBERMANN: Other than Ben Smith who was considered to be the place-holder until Ted Kennedy got old enough to run for Jack Kennedy's seat in 1962, that's been a Kennedy seat since 1952. Is there any indication anybody in that family wants it or would pursue it or are they getting out of the way of the heavier hitters among Massachusetts Democrats?

FINEMAN: Well, here everybody's now being silent. Everybody's willing to talk about this interim caretaker thing we were just discussing. Nobody up there that I talked to today wants to talk about the unmentionable, which is who is going to run? Ted Kennedy has not been buried yet. Nobody wants to talk about it.

But here's what I've told off-the-record. Basically, Joe Kennedy II would have first dibs if he wanted to try it. He was a member of the House for about 10 years. He's been involved in energy policy and so forth. If he were to say, "I want to try to do it," it would be very difficult for anybody else, whether it's Martha Coakley or any member of Congress, to get in the way of Joe Kennedy, were to - were to say he had wanted it.

That said, there are lots of other very, very worthy possibilities up there. There are other members of Congress, including Michael Capuano, including Stephen Lynch, and I think, probably the most experienced and probably the most formidable would be Representative Ed Markey who's a big time committee chairman in the House, who's - you know, has statewide name recognition. If he wanted to get it, he would be formidable, but nobody wants to run against a Kennedy if a Kennedy wants to run in Massachusetts.

OLBERMANN: The irony of the delicateness with which people are approaching this, given that it was Senator Kennedy who brought the subject up.


OLBERMANN: . about who's going to replace him, it's just another - a sign of respect and it's completely understandable. But it is.


FINEMAN: He would be enjoying by they way, he would be in it up to his eyeballs in speculation as well.

OLBERMANN: I was going to say, he'd be one of either the sources or the frenzy.

FINEMAN: Yes, exactly.

OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of "Newsweek" and MSNBC - as always, great thanks, Howard.

FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Remarkably, one of the most vociferous, factually corner-cutting, anti-reform Astroturf groups has suspended its advertisements about health care at least in part out of respect for Senator Kennedy's passing.

Not that one of his fellow senators managed such a level of respect today, and yet he will in turn get lost in two tsunami-like videotapes where the stupid just keeps watching over you. That California congressman calling the self-described proud right-wing terrorist a great American, turns out all that was on tape. And then there's a Kansas representative who now says her party is - this is a direct quote - "struggling right now to find the great white hope." Why don't you just get a hood?


OLBERMANN: The committee Senators Kennedy and McCain served on, except that 160 Republican amendments that Senator McCain now says none of those amendments to the health care bill were, quote, "significant." He says that now, now that Senator Kennedy is dead.

Then later, video surfaces of a California congressman's moment of truth when the constituent declares himself a proud right-wing terrorist. And more video of the Kansas congresswoman invoking the battle cry of the racists of a century ago who sought to unseat the first black heavyweight boxing champ.

You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Ted Kennedy was born just eight years after the first radio coverage of a national party nominating presidential convention. That would have been in 1924. He was born in 1932. His death is greeted by a Twitter feed from his family, and we were notified that the senator step son Curran and his new Bobby Shriver had been joined by Brian and Alma Hart in standing vigil at the senator in repose at the library as you see live there from Boston.

There will be many who invoke Senator Kennedy's name particularly when it comes to health care if only they - each and every one of them - were required to displace some intellectual honesty about it.

Our fourth story on the Countdown: Senator John McCain bemoans the lack of real negotiations on health care legislation, unlike the kind of negotiations he says he used to have with Senator Kennedy. The idea that the senator's death might be a catalyst for real compromise on health care suggested by Vice President Joe Biden and Senator McCain was asked about that possibility on the "TODAY" show.


MCCAIN: Well, it might, but you'd have to changed way that the things have been done. And that is the fact that there's been no real negotiations. There have been a bill before the committee which I sit, the health committee, and it was done by Democrats and no amendments were agreed to have any significance. And so, that's not the kind of negotiations that I did with Senator Kennedy on a number of issues. So, maybe if we change.

ANN CURRY, NBC NEWS: Are you willing to reach across the aisle, Senator? Are you willing to reach across the aisle on this issue as in the past, Senator Kennedy worked with you and former President Bush on education and immigration reform?

MCCAIN: I'm more than willing to. There's been no opportunity to do so.


OLBERMANN: Point of fact, the Senate Health Committee voted on its health care reform package in July, the package included 160 Republican amendments, 160 of them. But no Republicans on that committee, including McCain, voted for the bill.

So when Mr. McCain says no amendments were agreed to of any significance, his must be the thinking of kind that significant amendments that would effectively gut the bill of any real meaning since he is, for example, clearly against the public optioning which echoing the non-sequitur talking points of Mr. Grassley of Iowa, Senator McCain has said, quote, "would deprive people of choice."

Let's turn now to "Huffington Post" contributor, MSNBC political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell.

Lawrence, good evening.


OLBERMANN: We touched on this earlier in the week, but we've got to

revisit it since, I guess, Senator McCain insists on doing so. The

suggestion that because he negotiated with Senator Kennedy in the past on

other issues, he would have been willing and able to do so on health care -

dissect that for us.

O'DONNELL: Well, there is a history here that we went through this before, in 1993 and 1994, and Senator McCain did not negotiate with Senator Kennedy on health care at any point. And the same thing with Orrin Hatch who's making similar sounds these days. Orrin Hatch is a member of the Kennedy committee both during the Clinton crusade in '94 and today, and neither one of them have ever seriously negotiated with Chairman Kennedy on any of these things.

Now, they've certainly done business on other subjects. That's true. But absolutely never on health care reform, never.

And Senator Kennedy, by the way, is not an easy compromiser on health care reform. In 1994, I was in the room when he told the president that he believed the strategy should be a Democrats-only strategy and that we should not be trying to reach out and get Republican votes.

So, the Kennedy strategy as enunciated the last time we went through this is exactly what you've been hearing from a lot of these sharper critics on the left in the Congress this year.

OLBERMANN: And the actions of Republicans thus far in this debate also suggests mirroring that perfectly, that whatever Senator Kennedy might have been willing to compromise on - if there was indeed anything in this bill he would have been - it would never have been enough for those whose purpose is to dilute the bill beyond recognition or having any affect?

O'DONNELL: Absolutely. I mean, the McCain position is essentially

sure, if we got amendments in there to remove all the things that Ted Kennedy wanted, then we would have voted for the final product. I mean, that's really what this is about.

No Republican on that committee has ever voted for a Ted Kennedy health care reform bill. None of them vote voted for it this time. They did get amendments accepted, not - those amendments weren't enough to make any of them vote for it.

OLBERMANN: And another pet peeve of anybody who's been paying attention to this, the bills which get out of committee with plenty of Republican amendments, 160 in this case, but no Republican votes. It would seem a fairly easy equation to determine the Democrats are the suckers in this deal. Was this pointed out to them by Senator Kennedy or was it at such a distance that he chose not to do that?

O'DONNELL: Well, this is where, what Senator McCain is saying is more true than you might imagine. Meaning these 160 amendments are largely technical. They are written by expert Republican health care staff members who are very good at this.

And what they have found are small things that they want to put some technical refinements on. The Democrats look that. Chairman Chris Dodd in this case, looks at that and thinks, you know, that's perfectly reasonable. That actually might make this a little better.

I mean, this subject is so massive. These bills are so massive that getting some cross-references from the professional staff from the committees, both Republican and Democrat, about how to refine small things here and there is very helpful. And so, that's what those amendments were for the most part, and the committee had the wisdom to say, "Yes, that's a perfectly good adjustment, let's do that."

But Chris Dodd and Ted Kennedy never once considered compromising any of the central aspects of this bill in order to pick up a single Republican vote on that committee.

OLBERMANN: Lawrence O'Donnell of the "Huffington Post" and MSNBC - as always on this subject in particular, thanks for your insight.

O'DONNELL: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Hey, Sister Mary elephant. Uh-oh! We can't say that.

This nun does not need a ruler. Apparently she's a ninja.

And later, I owe Bill O'Reilly an apology and I'll give it to him.

"Worsts Persons" ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: "Bests" in a moment, and a mind like a Michael Steele trap.

First, on this day in 1883, the island of Krakatoa in Indonesia blew up a 200 megaton volcanic explosion, four times boom of the worst nuclear weapon ever detonated. The amount of ash spew into the atmosphere was so great that world temperatures for 1883 dropped by 1.2 degrees. The eruption so changed the landscape that when they made a movie about it in 1969, the movie was called "Krakatoa, East of Java" - even though Krakatoa is actually northwest of Java.

Let's play "Oddball."

Ain't making that up either.

We begin meanwhile in China, where for two years, Zhang Tingting has lived the life of a Buddhist nun, which makes keeping her day job, kung fu master, a bit difficult. Zhang says her hair gives her special powers like the ability to cut paper in half. But in order to be officially recognized by her fellow nuns, Zhang needs to shave her head. So before bidding her three-foot braid good-bye, Zhang decides one last trick, to pull eight cars with her hair.

The cars were attached to the base of her braid with a connecting rope and Zhang managed to yank all of them about 100 feet. The ceremony has held later to officially shave her head - I don't know if they just didn't wait for it to pull off like that. Samson could not be reached for comment, and no barbers were injured during the procedure.

To London, where the nights have been a little lonely for the female gorilla population at the zoo. They've been without a male companion since December. So, they slipped the zookeeper a fiber and had him bring back some gorilla porn. Actually, the pinup that the ladies were seizing up is their future male companion who currently resides at a zoo in France. Olalala, a French gorilla.

Zoo officials say the photos meant to whet the appetite of the ladies and get them acquainted with their new mate before he arrives. It would love at first sight. Evidently not. More like love at first bite because all three of the lady apes greeted the paramours' picture by chewing on it. And while the eldest of the bunch is not quite warming up to the idea of having a man around the habitat, zookeepers are confident she'll find his accent irresistible.

So, the rookie congresswoman from Kansas says the Republicans are looking for a, quote, "great white hope," and she can name three of them. Watch out Representative Bachmann, you got competition.

And our favorite car wreck governors both making news. This one insisting he will not resign even if he's deputy from the same party is now demanding it.

These stories ahead.

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

Dateline: New York. Number three: Best rationalization, "The Wall Street Journal." Columnist Mark Penn, that Mark Penn, wrote about camping companies. Then his P.R. firm started to try to drum up business from the companies Penn had just written about. Despite a conflict of interest bordering a bunko game, Rupert Murdoch is not firing Penn because quoting the spokesman, "We're pretty sure that it's going to stop."

Dateline: Washington. Number two: Best Steele trap, Steve Inskeep of NPR. Republican Chair Michael Steele said he wasn't completely anti-regulation. "There are issues in the insurance market," he said, "that we can regulate a little bit better." Boing!


STEVE INSKEEP, NPR: Wait a minute. Wait, wait. You would trust the government to look into that?

MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIR: No. I'm talking about the - talking about - citizens of -

INSKEEP: - about something that should be looked into.

STEELE: I'm talking about - well who regulates the insurance market?

INSKEEP: That would be the government, I believe.

STEELE: Wait a minute. Hold on. You know, you're doing a wonderful dance here, trying to be cute.


OLBERMANN: There. Runs rings around you, logically.

Number one, best taste, the anti-reform astroturf group Conservatives For Patients Rights, run by an ex-hospital honcho, has suspended its publicity carpet bombing. Quote, "with the sad news of Senator Kennedy's passing, Conservatives for Patients' Rights is immediately suspending our ad campaign for health care reform out of respect to the Kennedy family, as well as the senators, colleagues and supporters to whom we extend our condolences."

Yes. They save the money they can probably spend better later. Even if it is just expedient good taste, at least it's good taste.


OLBERMANN: Few are the elected Republicans left who do not self-identify as birthers or deathers or TP-ers or Beckers. Beckers, people like Sarah Palin, who endorsed a TV comedian who calls the president a racist. But now there's a new category, still very small, Freudian slippers.

Our third story in the Countdown, the phrase was coined when prejudice against black people was still the law of the land, in 1909, in 1910, when whites here and in many other countries sought somebody, anybody, to take back the heavyweight boxing title from the African-American Jack Johnson.

The phrase was the great white hope. A 1969 play and movie based on Johnson's life was even titled that. There is no ambiguity whatsoever about what the great white hope meant. The man the bigots of 1910 finally found, retired champ James J. Jefferies, even said I'm going into this fight for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a Negro.

Funny that a Congresswoman should suddenly use the phrase seven months into the term of the first African-American president and then play dumb afterwards. Freudian slip?


REP LYNN JENKINS (R), KANSAS: We're struggling right now to find the great white hope. And I suggest to any of you that are concerned about that, that are Republicans, there are some great young Republican minds in Washington. And of course the ones I'm most familiar with are on the House side. And we've got a bright young star in Eric Cantor, our whip, and his deputy whip, Kevin McCarthy from California. He's a bright young man. Paul Ryan spent some time in Kansas with Senator Brownback.


OLBERMANN: Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins from Hiawatha, Kansas, talking about the next leaders of her party, Cantor, McCarthy, Ryan, Brownback, Jeffries, Victor Mclaughlin - those last three fought Johnson, sorry.

A spokeswoman said, quote, "the Congresswoman wanted to apologize for her word choice, and to emphasize she had no intention of expressing herself in an offensive manner. There may be some misunderstanding there when she talked about the great white hope. What she meant by it is they have a bright future. They're bright lights with the party."

The Congresswoman herself said, "I was unaware of any negative connotation. In I offended anybody, obviously, I apologize."

The old conditional apology. It's your fault if you're offended that an active politician in 2009 should use the most demeaning of racist phrases, vintage 1909.

Joining me now, from California's 35th district, Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Congresswoman, thanks again for your time tonight.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: Welcome, welcome. Delighted to be back.

OLBERMANN: Let me start at the end rather than the beginning. Let's say this Congresswoman really didn't know what that phrase meant, really had never heard of Jack Johnson. What kind of apology would you think would be appropriate here? Is one of these if I offended anybody ones, is that good enough now?

WATERS: Well, she has attempted to take back her words and to apologize. And like you said, it was probably a Freudian slip. But you know, one of the things we can't do is we can't let them distract from what we are all about, and what we're trying to accomplish.

We are trying to keep the focus on comprehensive universal health care reform. And they're going all over the place. They're desperate. They don't have leadership. They don't really know what to do. And so I think we're going to continue to see a lot of crazy things happening, like all of the outrage that is being demonstrated at these town hall meetings, like the kind of statements that Congresswoman Jenkins made.

And let them define themselves. Let them reveal who they are. The American public needs to see that.

OLBERMANN: The context of the town halls is - is really critical to this, I think, because obviously -


OLBERMANN: The providence of this phrase, and it's not just that and it's not just that we're seven months into the term of the first African-American president, but also these town halls have not just been witches' kitchens of racist sentiment, but this attempt to thinly veil them in basically excuses that permit racist thoughts to be expressed and acted upon, as if there were not going to be any consequences. Shouldn't there be some consequence to this Congresswoman, other than being - being exposed as somebody who either doesn't care that she sounds racist or doesn't know what this very famous phrase really actually means?

WATERS: Well, let me just say this. As you know, the president and the White House are very, very careful not to let arguments and disagreements disintegrate into racist confrontation. And so what we are going to do is, we are going to attempt to allow her to defend her remarks in any way that she wants to. But the truth will come out.

They will define themselves. They can't help it. And I think what we should do is sit back and watch them, so that the American people can see what we're really up against. And I think the president would like it that way. He would not like to engage them in the discussion about their racist remarks. That's not the way he handles things.

OLBERMANN: Do you think politically we're going backwards on this issue? Because there's so many things in the last seven months that have made me, as a white guy, ashamed, absolutely ashamed of what I've seen. Are we going backwards or forwards now?

WATERS: Well, I'm concerned. I'm concerned about some of what I see and some of what I hear. And I hope that they don't trigger a response from people who want to, you know, get at them and show them that they can't get away with that kind of discussion, that kind of talk. So I'm concerned. I'm very much concerned about it.

OLBERMANN: It's nice to hear you counseling calm and let them talk their way out of this if they can. A lot of us, I don't think, are as calm as you are. Representative Maxine Waters of California, it's always a pleasure. Thanks for your time and coming in.

WATERS: You're so welcome. Thank you.

OLBERMANN: You wonder if Sarah Palin is relieved she wasn't named one of the great white Republican popes or secretly jealous? Whichever, she's bailed out of another dinner thrown by people who actually like her.

And of all the crazy ass things Lonesome Roads have ever said, this may be craziest assist. MSNBC is involved in taking over the government somehow. Hey, I'm beginning to think I'm underpaid.

When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, fresh from her sick bed, he special guest, Democratic Congressman Anthony Wiener on how the GOP is strangling itself in its twisted rhetoric against health care reform.


OLBERMANN: Sarah Palin stands up yet another group of people who believed in her. Believed. That's next. First time for Countdown's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.

The bronze goes to Bill-O the clown; "Tuesday night on MSNBC, someone said that people who watch Fox News are paranoid and racists. That should tell you everything you need to know about the entire NBC situation. Pinhead does not even begin to cover it."

That would have been me. I said that. That quoted exactly, "since Fixed News has now migrated completely over to serving propaganda to tin foil hatters, conspiracy theorists, paranoids and racists, it is not a news organization."

Mr. O'Reilly is upset and he has a right to be upset. Tinfoil hatters, conspiracy theorists, paranoids and racists, I'd like to apologize. I left out loons. Fox Noise is only in the business now of serving propaganda to tin foil hatters, conspiracy theorists, paranoids, racists and loons. Oh, and pinheads. People who watch Fox News thinking there is news in it are tin foil hatters, conspiracy theorists, paranoids, racists, loons and pinheads.

Our runner up, so are many of the hosts, like Lonesome Roads Beck here, with a two-fer. About the advertiser protest after he called the president a racist, with a deep-seated hatred of white people - they are now up to 46 advertisers that bailed out. Quote, "they can take my job and they can take my wealth. But that's OK. Even if the powers to be right now succeed in making me poor, drum me out and I'm just a worthless loser, which I'm just about that much above right now - I will only be stronger for it."

Hey, Glenn, you know there's great wisdom in that old tasteless joke. Just remember, when you put yourself up there, you can never drive in the last nail yourself.

Part two, "if you watch MSNBC, I contend that you will see the future, because they are lying the groundwork for a horrible event that will - what they're laying the ground for - anything from the right there - some awful event. And I fear this government. This administration has so much framework already prepared that they will seize power overnight before anybody even gives it a second thought."

Look, this administration has a comfortable majority in both houses and it still hasn't even been able to show the ability to seize health care. So when you say stuff like that, you don't just sound crazy, you sound really poorly informed and crazy. By the way, that horrible, awful event from the right, by the way, that has already happened. It's called "The Glenn Beck Show."

But our winner, once again, Congressman Wally Herger of the second district of California, still defending his actions and those of that guy at his town hall, Bert Staid (ph). Conveniently, videotape has finally surfaced.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have been known to say things fishy. I have been known to even attend protests. And I want to say that I'm a proud right wing terrorist.

I didn't come prepared with a lot of notes tonight. I left them actually at home when I was looking for - while I was looking for my birth certificate.

REP. WALLY HERGER R), INDIANA: Amen, god bless you. There's a great American.


OLBERMANN: Well, now we know Mr. Staid is a birther, too, and a tea partying. Congressman Herger not only still thinks he should not have been gently asked not to throw the term right wing terrorist around, he's blaming, who else, the Obama administration. Herger's office has issued yet another statement, nobody's name attached to it this time. "Mr. Bert Staid," it says, "is a taxpayer and veteran, who, like so many others, is rightfully fed up with being called un-American, or extremist, or a political terrorist by liberals in Washington for simply exercising his first amendment rights. Mr. Staid served his country and therefore, he is a great American. The congressman doesn't at all regret commending him for standing up, exercising his free speech rights, and expressing his strong concerns with the direction liberals in Washington are taking our country."

Except, no liberal called him un-American. That was a lie. It was a misquoting of the speaker of the House. It was designed to give people like Staid an excuse too get out his don't tread on me paranoia. And no liberal called him an extremist or a political terrorist. That was a report from the Department of Homeland Security, a report that was commissioned while George Bush was still president, noting evidence that the ring wing militias might attempt indoctrinate veterans just back from Afghanistan or Iraq.

Mr. Staid clearly is not just back from Afghanistan or Iraq. Mr. Staid can be excused for not knowing any of this or choosing not to know any of it. He's been spoon fed this crap from the right for seven months at least. But if Congressman Herger doesn't know this or is choosing not to know it, he is violating his Constitutional responsibilities. He is fomenting violence. If he will not speak out in favor of law and order in this country, he should resign his seat. Wally Herger, Congressman, California Second, Today's worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN: Mark Sanford has run out of new catch phrases to introduce. No more hiking the old Appalachian trail. Now he's falling back on the oldie but baddie about being rail-roaded. You know that invitation you sent Sarah Palin to come and speak at your event? Must have got lost on the dogsled chain.

Number one story, one Republican trying to stay in office, seemingly despite everyone. Another trying to stay relevant, apparently in spite of herself. First up, unemployed Alaska blogger Sarah Palin weighing in on the Color of Change's call for advertisers to boycott Glenn Beck. Beck's latest attacks on the group's co-founder, White House adviser Van Jones -

46 different advertisers now - "Fox News' Glenn Beck is doing an extraordinary job this week, walking America behind the scenes of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and outlining who is actually running the White House. Monday night, he asked us to invite one friend to watch. I invite all my friends to watch."

That's one. Right? It's Martians. Martians is actually running the White House!

Meanwhile, after promoting Palin as the star speaker for weeks, organizers of an Alaska Family Council event were left scrambling at the last minute after they learned the former governor would be a no-show. Palin spokeswoman claiming this is the first we have ever heard of a speech.

This as the saga of Mark Sanford of South Carolina, who did not resign as a governor, continues. His lieutenant governor warning him in a letter, resign now or the legislature will impeach you later.

Sanford fired back with his own letter. "To escape the glare of television cameras and reporters in the midst of a media frenzy would not be far from some form of heaven on Earth. But my dad taught me a long time ago that two wrongs don't make a right."

Nor, in his case, do 37 wrongs make a right. So naturally, Sanford escaped the glare of the TV cameras by holding a news conference.


GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I'm not going to be railroaded out of this office by political opponents or folks that were never friends of mine in the first place.

For future governors, just because folks might be frenzied up or frightened and other things in the general assembly, does mean it is the right time to fold the tent.


OLBERMANN: Governor, they're all political enemies now. Joining me now, comedian Christian Finnegan. Good evening, Christian.


OLBERMANN: Thank you. Governor Sanford brought us sparking - remember that from e-mails - he inspired hiking the old Appalachian trail. Is he out of new phrases? Railroaded and fold the tent? He's got every old bromide in here except employees must wash hands.

FINNEGAN: That and the roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. I have actually done a bit of research, Keith. The current poet Laureate of South Carolina is woman named Marjorie Heath Wentworth (ph). I'm sure Laureate Wentworth is doing a bang up job. It seems like the right move here is for her to step aside and let Governor Sanford move in. See, that way, he could actually build a state for all of his inter-continental booty calls, and it would be totally appropriate. He is just working on material.

OLBERMANN: Excellent. This letter writing campaign between Sanford and the lieutenant governor - again, the idea of correspondence has been - - you have to give Governor Sanford this credit; Correspondence has been reborn thanks to this man. But there is something wrong with e-mail these days? He couldn't rely on the - oh, I forgot. Sorry.

FINNEGAN: Yes. Governor Sanford is strictly quill and parchment these days. He has to be careful, because last year he actually stuffed the wrong letter into the wrong envelope. And a week later, he had the state comptroller in his office being, governor, what did you mean you ache for me?

OLBERMANN: Shhh! If he had kept his quill just on the parchment, none of this would have happened.


OLBERMANN: That was a pun. I'm an amateur here, but I'm doing the best I can in the company of professionals. The governor held another press conference today, just to make sure we all heard him about not being in the public glare. Should he ask our friend Governor Palin how to use the Facebook thing, so that the rest of us can just go about our day and check in on him when we feel like it, rather than when he feels like it?

FINNEGAN: Yes, he gets caught for using e-mail for the wrong reasons, and yet can't seem to understand that this is what a CC list is for. It's not like he and the lieutenant governor are actually corresponding to each other. They're like the two guys in the bar who are talking loud so the table of girls next to them can hear them. Like, I don't think I need to resign. Well, you need to resign.

Keep it going, dude, they're looking at him. I'm guess I'm going to go get in my BMW and go home now. It just feels very awkward and uncomfortable. You know, CC list.

OLBERMANN: Over to Alaska. This is the fourth time in recent months that Governor Palin was scheduled to appear somewhere, but didn't - backed out or just didn't show up, or there was some miscommunication. If she winds up running for president, isn't somebody going to have to step in and say, you know, you can't skip the debate tonight just because "The Mentalist" is on CBS and you want to watch that?

FINNEGAN: I'm defending Governor Palin in this one. This particular event took place in Alaska. Listen, Alaska, I don't mean to be cruel. Sarah Palin dumped you. It's time to move on. OK? I defend her in this. I'm sure you've been in this situation. You're in a relationship, and it's run its course. You just want to end it. So you say, let's just be friends. And then the other person, just purely out of desperation and spite, is like, well, then if we're friends, you should come and speak at my event next week, since we're friends and all.

Sarah Palin is like, OK. Then, a week later, she's like, what am I doing? I don't need to do this. Just move on. Listen, when Sarah Palin said she wanted to be friends, she just wants it not to be weird when you bump into each other. Like, oh, Alaska. Do you know Iowa? Iowa, Alaska.

OLBERMANN: And yet here she goes inviting all friends to watch Glenn Beck. Is that the way to earn browny points so that she can get her own show over that? If that's the case, is she going to send out a Facebook message, saying, don't watch his show, watch mine.

FINNEGAN: I want to know who the people are who are avid Sarah Palin Facebook readers but aren't aware of Glenn Beck. It seems like there's a bit of a cross over. I agree with what you said about the death panels and that you don't read any newspaper, but that guy is crazy.

OLBERMANN: Or who? I never heard of him. Comedian Christian Finnegan, as always, great thanks.

FINNEGAN: Bye-bye.

OLBERMANN: Bye. That's Countdown for this 2,310th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

And now, to talk about how the GOP is slowly tying itself up with its twisted rhetoric against health care reform, ladies and gentlemen, a warm welcome back to what's left of Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.


OLBERMANN: OK. See you later!