'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for February 26, 2009
Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons
Guest: Chris Hayes, Robert Reich, Janeane Garofalo, Aisha Tyler, Howard Fineman
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Republicans in crisis: The Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, under way, Romney, Sanford, Pawlenty with key speeches; governors Palin and Jindal - not attending.
But, Joe the Plumber showed up and spoke today in a side room - even he is bitter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE WURZELBACHER, "JOE THE PLUMBER": I don't see anybody as far as a leader in the Republican Party right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: You know what else he doesn't see? Customers. Book-signing for his new book in Washington - and he sells 11 books.
Another honest count: The 2010 budget, with a debt of $1.75 trillion, because he will not use the Bush accounting trick of not counting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: We need to be honest with ourselves about what costs are being racked up, because that's how we'll come to grips with the hard choices that lie ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Comedian Rush Limbaugh's hard choice: He has trouble with women, convenes a summit to figure out why only 37 percent of them like him. Might it have to do with calling all the ones he dislikes "Femi-nazis," and all the ones he likes "hot"? Janeane Garofalo is here to analyze.
Oh, and, Rush, Mark Sanford of South Carolina just indirectly called you an idiot. "Anybody who wants him," Obama, "to fail is an idiot."
Bushed: The anthrax in the anthrax letters does not match the anthrax in the alleged dead anthrax doctor's flask.
Worsts: The Colorado state senator who says, quote, "What I'm hoping is that, yes, that person may have AIDS."
And the inevitable blowback tonight after Governor Bobby Jindal is compared to Kenneth the Page, he's not happy - I mean, Kenneth the Page.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNETH PARCELL, "KENNETH THE PAGE": This Jindal guy sounds like a real goober-natorial representative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: All that and more - now on Countdown.
(on camera): Good evening from New York.
Imagine a place where an entire ballroom of people cheers when someone makes the repeatedly disproven accusation that the president of the United States is not a citizen of this country he leads, then they laugh when a former ambassador to the U.N. suggests that the same president might learn a valuable lesson if Chicago were to be destroyed by a nuclear device - a place where boxes upon boxes of racist Obama waffles cereal are once again openly, proudly available for sale.
That place - in our fifth story on the Countdown - is the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, home to your 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference better known as CPAC. In 2008 election, Republicans having warned vote for Obama and you will die; today, Mr. Bush's U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, never confirmed, all but saying, "Because you have voted for Obama, get ready to die."
"The Mustache" is warning that the security of the U.S. is now a dire risk under the Obama administration, and underscoring his point by cracking a joke about Obama's hometown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.N. AMBASSADOR: The fact is on foreign policy I don't think President Obama thinks it's a priority. He said during the campaign he thought Iran was a tiny threat. Tiny depending on how many nuclear weapons they're ultimately able to deliver on target. It's tiny compared to the Soviet Union. But is the loss of one American city - pick one at random, Chicago - is that a tiny threat?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In fact, Ambassador, get your facts straight. Mr. Obama called Iran a tiny country and never a tiny threat.
But the only thing that did make sense at CPAC, as far as the attendance today at a panel, featuring Joe the Plumber Wurzelbacher. The room is said to only be about a quarter-full.
At a book-signing in Washington last night, fewer than a dozen people showed up to hear Wurzelbacher speak. He was scheduled to sign books and chat for three hours. He was gone after 55 minutes and I'll correct myself. The number of books he sold was not 11, it was five.
At CPAC today, Wurzelbacher is telling NBC News he is concerned about the Republican Party's future, especially in 2012, unless it seems if Governor Palin is in the running.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WURZELBACHER: If she ran, I would support her wholeheartedly. But, essentially, I don't see anybody with a firm - I don't see anybody as far as a leader in the Republican Party right now. No one's - they are afraid to say anything. They're more worried about being politically correct. They're more worried about their special interest groups. They are not worried about the American people. No way, no shape do I ever hear anything about that. They talk a good game but I see no actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Then that the GOP is in the midst of an identity crisis, now, the party with six years - tick, tick, tick - to avoid candidate Wurzelbacher.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WURZELBACHER: I will consider in about six years when my son is Ohio State. It's a lot of work, and it's a job that's very important. And I would take it as serious it is. It would be as a servant and not as somebody that feels entitled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Time now to call in Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine.
Howard, good evening.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Did they - did CPAC not pay for oxygen this year? What .
OLBERMANN: What went on there?
FINEMAN: Well, it's funny you mention oxygen, because I was over there and that sometimes you think you need to be in a deep diving bell, suit, you know .
FINEMAN: . because you are going way far down into the deep ocean of American life.
But, you know, for the people there, they don't - they think they are the regular people. I mean, I got this button here that says: we're the regular - it's the regular folks versus the liberal elites. They're the regular folks. I guess that leaves you and me out of it.
But, you know, they had a lot of people registered there. They had 8,000. They claimed that they had their largest registration ever even if people didn't turn out to see Joe the Plumber.
They are lost at sea, to use my metaphor from before. But, in an odd way, they are kind of happy about it because they know they've got a lot of work to do and there's a whole generation of people, kids frankly, who grew up in the Reagan-Bush years, who really are yearning for leadership, and they know they don't have it right now.
OLBERMANN: Even those kids from that time, how exactly in their minds would the nuclear destruction of Chicago teach President Obama a lesson? Or how is that funny?
FINEMAN: Well, the conservative humor movement consists of one person, Christopher Buckley - and I'm not sure if he would be caught at CPAC. Outside of that, it doesn't exist. It's not funny.
But this is at the core of what's left of what used to be a very interesting and very, you know, ideas-oriented movement that took many years of decades of wandering in the ideological wilderness to figure out who they were, through people like Bill Buckley and others and Ronald Reagan, whose diaries, by the way, if you read them are full of interesting ideas and lots of thinking. They are reduced to fear, Keith.
This is what they tried to run - what they ran on in 2004 with George Bush. It's what they tried to run on in 2008. It's what they're - it's kind of like the last little thing they've got, that, plus opposition to any taxes of any kind. That's all they've got and it's not funny.
OLBERMANN: But they do also have a problem here of throwing the past versions of themselves under the bus - President Bush not at CPAC, including by Ambassador Bolton. Is there a disconnect there? And does anybody sit there and go - well, yes, we are disavowing everything we represented three months ago?
FINEMAN: Well, it's very interesting. I think the undercurrent of anger about all the Republican leadership, including George Bush, was one of the most interesting things about CPAC today. They are angry at George Bush and at the Republican leadership in the Congress, for among other things, the unbelievable profligate spending of the Bush years. George Bush didn't veto a single piece of spending legislation. The Republican leadership when they had control, waved through all kinds of spending with all kinds of budgetary tricks that Barack Obama is trying to fess up to and change now.
So, the conservative bedrock is very angry at the Republican leadership including George W. Bush. There were lots of negative comments about Bush and all the current Republican leadership on the Hill, especially Eric Cantor, who a lot of them view as a great sound bite artist but a guy who doesn't have any real thoughts unlike the hero of CPAC who remains Newt Gingrich.
OLBERMANN: But the conservatives are not the Republicans, and the Republicans are not the conservatives.
OLBERMANN: How could they possibly compete with a fairly organized and unified Democratic liberal left-wing base?
FINEMAN: Well, they can't right now. There's a total disconnect between the party politics and the conservative base. And that's what the Republican candidates, who are going to be trooping through, are going to try to reconnect. But it's not going to be that easy because a lot of these people are very skeptical even of the Republican Party right now, and that's a sign of a both a party and a movement that's in disarray.
OLBERMANN: Yes. When you hear that from Joe Wurzelbacher and he sounds fairly thoughtful on this subject, you know there's a lot of trouble in that room.
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of MSNBC and "Newsweek" - thanks for getting me the pin and as always, great thanks for being with us.
FINEMAN: Thanks, Keith. I'll send it to you.
OLBERMANN: Thank you.
Also, on the docket at CPAC, at 2:30 this afternoon, Al Franken and ACORN, how liberals are destroying the American election system. The never-ending Minnesota Senate campaign is morphing into the campaign to discredit Senator-elect Franken and try to force another election in Minnesota. In a conservative talk radio interview, former Senator Coleman is floating the idea of a runoff as something that some folks are now talking about. By "some folks," he meant one newspaper editorial and his lawyer.
The last week, a disastrous one for Coleman in the Minnesota recount trial. No coincidence then that Coleman's lawyer, Ben Ginsberg, now stepping up his rhetoric, declaring the whole election tainted and refusing to rule out a runoff or replay election.
Meanwhile, in Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Reid calling on Coleman to concede, adding that the Democrats are prepared to seat Al Franken as soon as the beginning of April, regardless of whether former Senator Coleman has filed and appeal to this court case, when he loses it. Senator Reid is also suggesting that former Senator Coleman talk with Nevada Republican John Ensign, who lost his initial run for the Senate in 1988 to Harry Reid and then won the state's other Senate seat two years later, quoting Senator Reid, "John Ensign wound up as a real hero in Nevada."
Let's turn to Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of "The Nation" magazine.
Good evening, Chris.
CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION MAGAZINE: Hey, there, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Coleman did not start calling for the runoff or replay until his legal team suffered setback after setback after setback in this recount trial. That's a coincidence, I'm sure.
HAYES: Oh, yes, totally a coincidence. I mean, this has been by the book, totally a commitment to process and principle from the Coleman people from the beginning.
HAYES: I'm obviously being sarcastic. I think that, you know, basically, they are essentially trying to run out the clock. I mean, I think it's important to realize that there's two possible goals here, right? One is - become the senator from Minnesota. I actually don't think they themselves realize or think there's going to be much of a possibility of that.
The other thing is just to deny the Democrats that 59th vote. And I actually think that's much more of what's at play here as long as they can continue to drag their feet, as long as they can drag out the legal process, the Democrats are lacking that very crucial 59th vote in the Senate.
OLBERMANN: Yes. But they're not going to run out the clock to 2015, so, I mean, and the part of this is - there has been some enabling by the Democrats. Why have we not heard more and more loudly up until this point?
HAYES: It's a really good question. I mean, I think, look, I think they thought they were focused on the stimulus and I think they thought if they can get - they could get enough votes to get through the stimulus, then, OK, we'll deal with the Coleman issue after we get that through. Well, the stimulus passed. They got three Republican votes. Now, it's time to deal with this issue.
I mean, at a real basic sort of representative small "d" Democratic levels, the people of Minnesota really do deserve a senator. I mean, it's no small thing. There's a lot of very important legislation moving through Congress right now, and I think the people of Minnesota deserve to be represented.
Now, it was a really close race and, you know, he had a lot of objections. But at a certain point, you know, you have to say, "Enough is enough." And it seems like several months, you know, three, four months after this election, that that might be the time right about now.
OLBERMANN: Is there any chance he's going to concede because - I mean, a man who could say when he was up 221 votes, that a recount was too costly, but when he's down 225 votes, he now wants the state to have a whole new election. Would that be a fool's bet to say that, at some point, is he's just going to say - all right, you know, Chris Hayes, you are absolutely right?
HAYES: Well, yes. I mean, I know - I know former Senator Coleman really takes my advice to heart, generally.
HAYES: So, I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case.
No, I mean, I don't know - I really don't know what the end game is for them. I really do think that from the perspective of the Republicans as a group right now, every day wasted, every day foot-dragging, every day that you can kind of obstruct and get the wheels of government stuck in the mud - is a victory. That's the only victory they can hope for at this point.
They're not going to pass anything they like, right? They're not going to get anything out of the Barack Obama administration, I think, on domestic policy, particularly, that's going to really endear their donors. What they can do is just try to kind of stick their spook in the wheels.
And I think Coleman is just one element of a larger strategy to do that.
OLBERMANN: But if the roles were reversed and the Republicans were in the lead, what would the reaction be like from the Democrats? And what will the reaction be like from the Republicans? Would there - is there no recent role model here like, you know, Al Gore?
HAYES: Absolutely. I mean, Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has been making this point that, essentially, what he calls the "paragovernment" in Washington, which is all kind of the institutional leaps around government.
The town remains wired for Republicans. It still listens to Republican talking points. We saw this in the stimulus and we had all these Republicans on the cable networks talking all the time about, you know, their objection to this part of the stimulus.
That still permeates the kind of institutional structure of elite consensus opinion in Washington despite that massive change in public opinion about how people feel about conservative ideas and the Republican Party, the smaller kind of insular beltway establishment is still is far more willing to cut Republicans slack than actual voters at large are.
OLBERMANN: Chris Hayes of "The Nation," would-be adviser to Norm Coleman, the former senator from Minnesota.
OLBERMANN: Thanks, as always, Chris.
HAYES: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, there is that big steaming pile of hypocrisy. But there's another one perhaps even more disturbing tonight. Sean Hannity has a show call "Hannity's America." Yet on his Web site, a viewer or listener has posted a poll asking those in "Hannity's America," which kind of violent revolution they would like to see topple the dually-elected government of America. Partial results: Secession only has 36 percent of the vote.
OLBERMANN: Barack Obama's budget problem - he won't lie and claim Iraq and Afghanistan should not count against it. And then the disturbing discovery on Sean Hannity's Web site, a poll asking people which kind of revolution they favor in this country.
I'm giving it away. There's a clear winner in Worst Persons, tonight on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: In eight long years, President Bush not only turned a surplus into a deficit, he simultaneously tanked the entire American economy. Today, in our fourth story: President Obama outlined his first budget, phase one of a long-term plan to reduce the deficit and restore the economy, one in which - no surprise, he's going to have to spend money to make money - leading Republicans, who sent us into the ground and now no longer have the right to do any spending, to complain about big spending.
House Republican Leader John Boehner, quote, "This president is beginning to make President Bush look like a piker." What did Bush look like before?
Senate Budge Committee ranking Republican Judd Gregg, who rejected Obama's offer of the secretary of commerce job, calling the budget a halfhearted attempt of deficit reduction, saying, quote, "It raises taxes on all Americans." It's just too bad there was nobody in the cabinet to say so Mr. Secretary - sorry, Senator. And raising taxes for all Americans - really?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Will save billions of dollars by rolling back tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while giving a middle-class tax cut to 95 percent of hard-working families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Well, there is your definition of "all Americans," according to Republicans, the top 5 percent.
Obama sent Congress a budget today totaling $4 trillion in spending, a deficit of $1.75 trillion. Why is that so fantastically high? Because this president is not only foreswearing past budget tricks that made them look smaller, he's including two things in the budget and Mr. Bush never did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Large sums have been left off the books, including the true cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that kind of dishonest accounting is not how you run your family budgets at home; it's not how your government should run its budgets, either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Unlike Mr. Bush, funding billions in savings by no longer funneling it to big business, ending subsidies to big farm business, saving $4 billion by lending to college students directly rather than paying big banks to do that, and reducing Medicare overpayments to insurance companies and hospitals, and benefits for wealthy seniors, reducing tax loopholes and benefits for rich people and companies that send American jobs overseas.
For some reaction here, let's bring in Robert Reich, labor secretary in the Clinton administration, economic adviser to the Obama campaign, and the author of "Supercapitalism."
Welcome back to the program, sir.
ROBERT REICH, OBAMA CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: Hi, Keith. How are you?
OLBERMANN: So, here it is, maybe you can answer that question about how I am by answering this one. First Democratic budget in nine years, how does it feel and how does handle out there on the road?
REICH: Well, it feels - I mean, big relief, actually, because, you know, nobody - I don't know anybody who actually reads budgets. I don't know if you do. I don't think I want to meet anybody who actually reads budgets.
But budgets, as a document, you know, they express the priorities of an administration. And for years we've had a budget that cut taxes on the rich but not for anybody else, that gave corporate welfare to agri-businesses and to pharmaceutical companies, but actually didn't provide anything by way of health insurance for most people who lacked it, or any relief for anybody else for that matter. And finally, we have a budget that actually, instead of a top-down supply side economics trickle-down budget, is a bottom-up, grassroots, help-the-actual-public budget for a change.
OLBERMANN: And other than actually giving the correct figure of how much money we are spending as a nation, what does Obama including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the budget mean?
REICH: Well, there is a major truth in budgeting issue here. It is impossible for the public to understand how much we are spending on the military. If all that is included in the budget, as it has been for years, is just the cost of maintaining a military, not the cost of actually using the military.
So, Obama thinks a democracy works better if people know exactly how much we are paying for using a military and not just maintaining it. And so, that number is going to be large and that is responsible.
OLBERMANN: From your own experience with this and what you can see from your vantage point now, what is the point of the nature of this Republican opposition to it? I mean, what do they actually hope to accomplish and why, by the end of the budget process?
REICH: Well, I think two things, Keith. First of all, they want to keep their base together. They are going to say tax-and-spend, tax-and-spend, tax-and-spend, even though as Howard Fineman pointed out before, the budget during the Bush administration was basically a big, big spending budget.
But they also have their eyes on 2010. They had their eyes on the midterm election and they are taking a huge gamble. It is not totally unreasonable gamble, unfortunately, that the recession is still going to be with us in 2010.
And they are going to be able to say to the public, just as Newt Gingrich did in 1994 when he took on, you know the Clinton administration, they are going to be able to say to the public - look, we've said cut taxes for everybody. We've said don't spend all of this money. Don't go into debt. We have the better idea and now try us.
And so, they are hoping to gain seats in 2010 and make that the beginning of maybe a resurgence. It's a big, big gamble.
OLBERMANN: All right. But - so, now, the other end of the gamble. Why is - why is the president correct, in your opinion, in going the other way and saying we have to spend money to make money?
REICH: Well, because there is a huge gap right now, Keith, between the capacity of the country, in terms of a full employment economy, to produce goods and services and the amount that consumers and businesses are actually demanding of the economy. And as we learned in the 1930s, painfully, unless government steps in as the purchaser of last resort, then we are not going to get people back to work, we're not going to be able to grow the economy again. I mean, Roosevelt's big problem until the Second World War was he didn't spend enough. Herbert Hoover wanted to balance the budget, talk about a stupid idea at that time.
OLBERMANN: Robert Reich, the former Clinton labor secretary, author of "Supercapitalism" - as always, sir, I end up thinking I know a little something on this topic whenever we talk. Thank you for that.
REICH: Thanks, Keith. Bye.
OLBERMANN: This is Bonnie the orangutan. Bonnie has taught herself how to do something we thought only humans knew how to teach themselves to do.
And, speaking of that, the mind reels, Sean Hannity somehow thinking it is appropriate on his Website, a poll asking his fans which kind of revolution they would like to see in this country. You heard me.
You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment. And Captain Sullenberger meet "Flat Stanley."
First, on this date in 1933, was born Godfrey Cambridge, who turned down a scholarship to mid-school to become a brilliant actor and standup comedian, whom we lost to a heart attack at the age of 43. He gave one of the most haunting performances of all time in the extraordinary 1970 film, "Watermelon Man," where he portrayed a virulent white bigot who wakes up the next morning black.
Let's play Oddball.
We begin in the National Zoo in Washington, where Bonnie here has begun to pass the time in her cage by whistling. Scientists say orangutans like Bonnie can be taught to just put their lips together and blow. But Bonnie, whose soft whistle you hear in the background there, started doing it on her own with no prompting and no lessons. The zoo thinks she might be mimicking whistling co-workers or she is just really into that scene from her favorite movie, "Monty Python's Life of Brian."
OLBERMANN: To the Internets and Oddball crime stoppers report - this is surveillance video from an unnamed, unidentified grocery store somewhere in the nation. An apparent shoplifter has been thwarted by store security until the perp tries to make a break for it and loses his shirt. And clearly, the alleged crook was also doing crack.
He could have gotten away if he only let the security guy win the battle of the sweatshirt tug. Unfortunately, that was his best sweatshirt, and shoppers eventually helped tackle the guy to the ground. Throw him to the floor. Paper or plastic, punk, because you just got bagged.
Comedian Rush Limbaugh can't figure out why women don't like him. Maybe because when one of them said that maybe he should not call them "babes," he replied, "I need to lighten up for crying out loud. Why do I have to change who I am? Why can't they just lighten up? Infobabe! Why can't they just laugh?" That might be your problem right there.
And, the Kenneth the Page-Bobby Jindal comparison. He is not happy.
There's no word on the governor's reaction.
These stories ahead, but first time for Countdown's top three best persons in the world. Number three, Michael Calderone, media columnist at Politico.com. I put him on the worsts list last night and requested an apology, because he had written that when the words "oh god" were heard on this network just before the start of Governor Jindal's speech Tuesday night, quote, it sounded like, unquote, me. He now writes, "I will apologize to Olbermann for initially pointing the finger at him, without having it confirmed. Even though I updated the original item within a few minutes to say it was unclear. It is never all right in journalism to assume."
Professionally and courteously handled, and gratefully accepted.
Number two, best actors, 18 teenage performers in St. Ives, in England, who decided to publicize their upcoming presentation of "Romeo and Juliet" by staging the seven brawl between the Montague and Capulet families in the city's market square. Shoppers in the market were apparently terrified. "They must be good" said a Cambridge police officer. We had two calls from people who thought it was real.
Number one, best Flat Stanley adventure. You know about Flat Stanley. Kids around the world send his familiar cartoon figure, along with adults, in hopes that Stanley will send them letters or emails about the places he goes and the people he meets. Last December, Gina Kemp, a third grader in Erlanger, Kentucky, sent Stanley, along with her family friend Eric Stevenson, who was going to New York.
Part of the e-mail Gina finally got, "after several days in Paris, I went to New York. After that, I was on a plane, landed in the river near New York. At the time, I was in Eric's briefcase. Luckily, he carried me off the plane."
Here is Eric. There, inside the circle, is Eric's briefcase. Flat Stanley not appearing in your picture. That is 151 passengers the Sullenberger crew saved.
OLBERMANN: A conservative male Republican governor, Mark Sanford, has basically called comedian Rush Limbaugh an idiot. Comedian is more interested in finding out why woman don't like him. Quoting him, "I own the men. What must I do now to own the women?" In our third story in the Countdown, Limbaugh once again fails the primary test of psychological health, can you correctly gauge how the world views you?
Public Policy poll found that 56 percent of men held a favorable view of Limbaugh, but only 37 percent of women feel that way. That's one of the largest gender gaps encountered by that polling organization in the past year. So Limbaugh seized on the opportunity. "This takes us to the age old question, what do women want? Not even Freud was ultimately able to answer that question," he said, "so we will have a female summit to ascertain what I must do to attract women." Save your jokes.
Today, when a female caller to his so-called summit suggested that Limbaugh seemed pompous, comedians reaction to the constructive criticism, "this pompous stuff, that criticism irrelevant. The woman has never listened. I'm not pompous. I'm not changing that."
And accused women critics of not listening enough to his show.
As for Governor Sanford, who recently said, quote, anybody who wants him, meaning President Obama, to fail is an idiot. Limbaugh acknowledged this was directed at him, since he repeatedly wishes aloud for the president's failure. Comedian says that Governor Sanford actually agrees with him. He just can't admit it in those words.
Joining me now to revel in the fun is comedienne, actress and activist Janeane Garofalo. It's good to see you.
JANEANE GAROFALO, POLITICAL ACTIVIST: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: So then, I'm going to see if I can do this with a straight face. What must Rush Limbaugh do to attract women?
GAROFALO: I want to say a couple things first; 37 percent is a shockingly high percentage of - I'm shocked by that. Secondly, this transcends gender. He is an unappealing person. The problems with Rush Limbaugh, as we were discussing during the break, it would take a neuro-scientist and a behavioral psychologist to sort that out. Failing that, let's you and I discuss.
He is a narcissist who also struggles with self-loathing. That is clear. That is his prime maneuver. That's the issue. He pretends it is politics. But there is something very, very wrong with Rush Limbaugh. He knows this. Most other, quote, unquote, Republicans or conservative don't have self-awareness. I think he does. He really dislikes himself. And the type of people that respond to his message have a whole bunch of other problems, too.
But he's - I think he's trying to get women - I think he is trying to meet somebody right now. This whole charade that we are going through - - and we are even giving it too much credit discussing it. But I think he would like to meet a nice lady right now.
OLBERMANN: Your "24" and formerly "Larry Sanders Show" colleague is no longer in the picture?
GAROFALO: I think she actually just thought it would be funny to learn more about him. She said that he did suffer from low self-esteem. That was her impression of him.
OLBERMANN: It seems like that's a long way to go to find that information out.
GAROFALO: I don't think they really did go on a date or something. Mary Lynn (ph) is too nice. She's very easy going and very affable. I think she just wanted to be nice to him. She felt sorry for him. She is more kind than I.
OLBERMANN: We will move it away from the personal here to this question: as I said, your easy, check your own sanity at home test is what do people think of me. We all get it wrong to some degree. If you have categorized women as basically femi-Nazis, castrators, babes, the hot or the unattractive - those are the only groups - and you wonder perhaps why women might not be responding to you more than 37 percent approval, how could you get it that wrong? Or is he just making that whole part of it up too?
GAROFALO: I think he is just, you know, throwing enough you know what against the wall to see what sticks. Somebody is going to respond to him. But the type of female that does like Rush is the same type of women that falls in love with prisoners, like Richard Ramirez or Squeaky Fromme. Good example, Charles Manson. Eva Braun, Hitler's girlfriend. That is exactly the type of woman that responds really well to Rush. There will be some Eva Braun's out there that will respond really well to this cattle call right now, or to this clarion call - is that the right word - he's putting out there.
OLBERMANN: He is trying to get a date.
GAROFALO: He is trying to get a date. Lucky for him, he is wealthy. He is wealthy enough that someone - he dated Campbell Brown. Is that wrong? Some CNN woman.
OLBERMANN: No, it was Darren Kagen (ph), the old sports caster who worked in the morning studio.
GAROFALO: She dated him. So either she suffers from Stockholm Syndrome, like Michael Steele, the black guy in the Republican party who suffers from Stockholm Syndrome, which means you try to curry favor with the oppressor.
OLBERMANN: Talk about self-loathing.
GAROFALO: Yes. Any female or person of color in the Republican party is struggling with Stockholm Syndrome. That's a whole other issue. We don't have time. Let's go back to Rush Limbaugh.
OLBERMANN: And Mark Sanford. Is there some hopeful thing in here, that even in code, he is criticizing Limbaugh. He is saying that anybody who says he hopes the president fails is an idiot?
GAROFALO: Well, if Rush were open to that kind of criticism, which I think he likes - like I said, he is a narcissist. He enjoys his name being bandied about, no matter what context. Rush Limbaugh, of course, is an idiot. That has nothing to do with what he just said. He - his reason for being is sort of to air out his laundry list of problems that make him an idiot. Does that make sense or have I started babbling? I get so -
OLBERMANN: I think I know what you mean. But why is he causing all of us to suffer along with him?
GAROFALO: He is a misanthrope, right? He is a hater of humanity and also a hater of himself. Why we all have to get dragged into this is one of the great questions. He brought up Freud. Freud has been debunked about his what women want thing years and years ago. He really needs to get more contemporary in his references.
OLBERMANN: Although that represents a very liberal extreme of Rush's set of references.
OLBERMANN: The idea that there is something to psychotherapy and that there might be some way you can improve the brain without just smoking cigars.
GAROFALO: Like I said, Rush Limbaugh will go to his grave unfixed. Human frailty, let's go with human frailty. It is human frailty that makes it be a conservative. You know what I mean? Whoever the person is, and this transcends gender and skin color, people that cleave unto the conservative message or to the modern day Republican party, there is something wrong with them. That is what makes them go -
Have you ever heard the phrase the Constitution follows the flag. Wherever the American flag flies, the manifestation of the Constitution follows. Wherever the jerk is, the manifestations of conservative follow. Does that make sense?
OLBERMANN: John Dean wrote about this. It is not conservatism anymore. It is authoritarianism.
GAROFALO: It is authoritarian message and people that follow the authoritarian message. It is the unrestrained id. It is whatever is wrong with us. It is whatever the flaws in human being. I'm a narcissist that suffers with self-loathing. But I prefer to channel my issues into a much more positive direction.
So I do identify with Rush on the level of narcissism and self-loathing combined. But I'm a far better person than he is. I don't say that with arrogance. I say that because it is fact, scientific fact.
OLBERMANN: Thank goodness it is. Janeane Garofalo, political activist, currently of "24." Thanks, Janeane.
GAROFALO: Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: Thanks for being a better person.
There's another actor tonight taking umbrage at a comparison to a politician. Jack McBrayer saying he is nothing like Governor Jindal.
The new poll at Sean Hannity's website asking conservatives if they would prefer to see a secession, a military coup or an armed rebellion in this country. When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, she'll have the breaking news on the Obama administration indictment of Ali Al-Mari, who had been held without charge by the Bush administration for seven years.
But first, because they may be gone, but their deeds out live them, the other headlines lingering from the previous administration's 50 running scandals, Still Bushed.
Number three, Katrina-gate. With 68 percent of the six billion dollars promised by the president to rebuild the Gulf remaining unspent, maybe we all should have guessed this. CBS reported last night it appears the FEMA office in downtown New Orleans appears to be dragging its feet so its senior managers will keep their jobs there. Employees speaking out anonymously out of fear, have been told to expect the office to remain open for 15 years. Managers not only make 100,000 a year, plus benefits, but CBS reported, they are living like the wild west in there; 80 complaints of sexual or racial harassment have been filed in that one FEMA office since last month.
Number two, under cover of darkness-gate. A senior official at the Pentagon has told NBC News that Defense Secretary Gates has decided to lift the automatic ban on media coverage of the return of the US war dead to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Most sensibly, the new policy will neither be no coverage, nor coverage of every casket. It will be the decision of the families.
Remember the origin of this ban? It came on December 21st, 1989. That was the day that live coverage on CNN, ABC and CBS of the first President Bush's not exactly solemn news conference at the White House was suddenly put into a split screen with live coverage of caskets arriving at Dover containing the first war fatalities after he ordered our invasion of Panama.
Number one, Anthrax-gate. As you know, under Mr. Bush, the FBI closed the case, saying that Army scientist Bruce Ivans made them a flask at Fort Detrick, in Maryland, flask number RMR-1029, and then he killed himself. Maybe not. The magazine "Nature" now reports that at a bio-defense conference this Tuesday a scientist from a SANDIA national laboratory in Albuquerque presented analysis of three Anthrax letters, the ones sent to Senator Daschle, Senator Leahy and the "New York Post." They show anthrax mixed silicon, oxygen, iron and tin.
Bruce Ivans' flask at Ft. Detrick, good old number RMR-1029, contained anthrax, no silicone, no oxygen, no iron, and no tin. In fact, Ivans' entire lab at Ft. Detrick showed Anthrax, silicone and oxygen, but no iron and no tin. The analysts cautioned that the iron and tin could have worked their way into the Anthrax between its time in a flask, somebody's flask, and its time in those envelopes.
You remember the Anthrax attacks. Killed five Americans, sickened 17 more, September 19th, 2001 until November 21st, 2001, thus falling into that time period after 9/11, the time George Bush and his apologists still insist he kept us safe.
OLBERMANN: Inevitable objection to the joke that in giving the Republican response Tuesday night, Governor Jindal resembled Kenneth the Page from "30 Rock." The comparison today rejected by Kenneth the Page. That's next, but first time for Countdown's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.
Sharing the bronze, Bill-O the Clown and his marionette, Dennis Miller. "I had a caller on my show, Bill. You tell me if this isn't a brilliant call. She says, does Sean Penn realize that the same president that he is praising as elegant, had he been a California resident, would have voted for Proposition Eight. He said on record that he's not for gay marriage."
Bill-O promptly claimed credit. "We pointed that out. She probably listened to the Radio Factor and then called you, because we had said that. You're probably right about that, since all three of you are wrong on the facts. Then Senator Obama wrote last June, quote, "I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California constitution." Dennis, Bill, congratulations, another person you have misinformed.
Runner up, Colorado State Senator Dave Schultheis, Republican, Colorado Springs. First time, he voted against a bill requiring HIV tests for pregnant women, because since the disease, quote, "stems from sexual promiscuity," he doesn't want to see the state doing anything that would, quote, remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior. Seriously.
So I'm assuming Senator Schultheis that you also think you should not treat anybody hurt in a car crash where they were not wearing a seat belt? Schultheis though has now defended this crazy statement by adding, "what I'm hoping is that yes, that person may have AIDS, have it seriously as a baby, and when they grow up. But the mother will begin to feel guilt as a result of that. The family will see the negative consequences of that promiscuity. And it may make a number of people over the coming years begin to realize that there are negative consequences and maybe there should adjust their behavior."
There are a lot of things that could be said to, and should be said to Senator Schultheis right now, but this is the most important of them, get out, just get out.
But our winner is Sean Hannity. Next time he or Bill-O talks about liberal hate speech on the web remind them about this. This is a poll posted late Monday night and remaining at last check in the forum section of Hannity's website. It asks his listeners what kind of revolution appeals most to you, military coup, armed rebellion or secession. To his credit, the poster is saying any form of revolution would be treason. He said he started the poll because there has been so much talk on Hannity's website supporting revolution or secession, a topic which one Hannity poster says produced 3,000 responses. There have been 22 votes, with armed rebellion comfortably in the lead, 11 to eight to three.
When another of the Hannity faithful noted that armed insurrection and coups would be treason, someone else posted at Hannity.com, quote, only if the insurrection or coup fails. Sean, you might want to check if this constitutes incitement to treason, Hannity, today's worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: On Tuesday evening, the GOP put its hopes into another break out star. They've already tried their hand with the mavericky aerial wolf huntress. This time it was a 37-year-old Rhodes Scholar, governor of Louisiana. And then somewhere between the words good evening and happy Mardi Gras, a collective thought bubble appeared over the nation reading, Kenneth the Page.
Our number one story, Kenneth responds. First, an update to our reporting last night. That Facebook group titled "Bobby Jindal is Kenneth the Page," it's now at 12,000 members and counting. The frenzied Internet clamor may be what prompted the actor who plays Kenneth on NBC's "30 Rock," Jack McBrayer, to issue his own response to the response to the response. McBrayer paid a visit to the "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon to reassure the American public he is no Bobby Jindal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK MCBRAYER, "30 ROCK": I just want to say, I have been reading all the Internet hoo-ha about how this is supposed to sound like me. I just don't get it. I sound more like an outdoorsy lumberjack or a Clark Gable. This Jindal guy sounds like a real goober-natorial representative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Joining us now, actress and comedian Aisha Tyler. Her Comedy Central special "Aisha Tyler is Lit" now available on DVD. Good evening, Aisha. Welcome to the show.
AISHA TYLER, COMEDIAN: Hi, Keith. How are you?
OLBERMANN: Not bad. Not doing as well as obviously Kenneth here is. He obviously is stepping it up on reputational damage control. Do you think the governor needs to step it up on reputational damage control too?
TYLER: It is interesting, the governor has just gone into hiding. He is in a cave in Baton Rouge and no one can find him. I don't know that you can spin that performance. It's been pretty much slayed open by everybody else. I think the best thing to do is to hunker down and come out with a reunion tour in about a year when people have forgotten about it.
OLBERMANN: Donate the tie to charity.
TYLER: That tie.
OLBERMANN: The president's premise on Tuesday night in that speech was, every crisis contains an opportunity. Is there a similar message in here for the Republicans? Maybe recruit Kenneth the Page, run him and try to get all the people who don't like Joe the Plumber or something like that?
TYLER: He could be their Joe the Plumber. He has that accessible, that real every man kind of dork appeal. And he would get the younger kids. He would get the younger kids and also the gay men, let's face it. I think they want a big tent over in the Republican party. I think Jack's got that broad, broad appeal that definitely swings on both sides of the aisle, so to speak.
OLBERMANN: I don't know if the Republicans want the tent that big.
TYLER: I think they will take whoever they can get at this point.
OLBERMANN: Oh, you'd be surprised. The other end of this, NBC pages are real people who work in this building. And many of them go on to successful careers. They work like heck. Ted Koppel was a page. Regis Philbin was a page. When you compare Governor Jindal to Kenneth, not only is that - is that not just an insult to Kenneth, but actually an insult to the pages, those hard-working pages here?
TYLER: To the fraternal order of all hard working pages, it's an insult. To Gomer Pyle, for example, it's insult, to Bubba Gump. He was definitely delivering that kind of - the party rebuttal is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get. It was just unbelievable. I half expected him to bust out finger puppets, and be like, this is bunny tax cuts and this is evil stimulus package snake. He wants to bite bunny tax cut. Bad snake.
What? Don't explain it to me like I'm a sixth grader. Explain it to me like you are a sixth grader, because clearly, you are not clear on your own approach to the economy. It was amazing.
OLBERMANN: Now, considering what I've seen covering the Republican party intensely for these last six years, Aisha, that was the most clear-headed presentation that could be made on their behalf. Have you now or have you ever been a member of the Republican party? And would you consider running for president on their ticket?
TYLER: Well, I think I could bring a little bit of that hot factor that they clearly - I can rock a leather jacket like the next Alaskan governor. I have not ever been a Republican. I do have two relatives in family that are Republican delegates. And even they jumped off that ship, like flailing rats on a sinking vessel, at the end of this last election. I don't know. It would be nice to be a rock star. Anybody can be a rock star when the rest of the room is wearing helmets and drooling on themselves.
OLBERMANN: Finger puppets, you may have just given - if Michael Steele calls you, you know what happened.
TYLER: This is big government piggy.
OLBERMANN: Aisha Tyler's new special, out on DVD, "Aisha Tyler is Lit." Many thanks for being with us tonight.
That is Countdown for this the 2,119th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END