Friday, March 13, 2009

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, March 13, 2009
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Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons, Worst Persons of the Week

Guest: Chris Cillizza, James Clyburn, Richard Wolffe, James Moore

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

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory: Governor Sanford of South Carolina tries to cherry-pick the stim, trying to overrule the Senate, the House, the president, trying to spend $700 million of stimulus money his way at his whim.


GOV. MARK SANFORD, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: It's not a good to spend money that you don't have, whether in your personal life, in the world of business, or, for that matter, in the world of politics.


OLBERMANN: Except the stimulus is just starting to work. Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup report profits. Citi says it needs no more bailout money. The stock market is up for the fourth day in a row.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: We're going to get through this and I'm very confident about that.


OLBERMANN: Are Republican governors now deliberately sabotaging the recovery? We will ask Congressman James Clyburn.

Stuck in the mire with you: Not only are some Republicans defending the pro-choice comments of Michael Steele, but now, it turns out, it would take a 2/3 vote to unseat him.

Who will lead the Bush Freedom Institute Library? Karl Rove? Condi Rice? And, by the way, the Bush Freedom Institute Library - that name is meant ironically, correct?

Your lucky night: The debut of our newest feature, the Worst Person in the World of the Week.


BILL O'REILLY, TV HOST: The Bush administration defeated al Qaeda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole global warming doomsayer theory is tough to see.

VICTORIA JACKSON, ACTRESS: My motivation is gone because he will punish me if I'm successful.


OLBERMANN: And, of course, still a new crap tonight like Michele Bachmann, Republican congressman from the state of - delusion.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, (R) MINNESOTA: I have not taken earmarks in the last three years.


OLBERMANN: True, unless you would call $3,767,000 worth of earmarks for an earmark for medical equipment and an earmark for new buses for Saint Cloud, Minnesota, or her four other earmarks last year - unless you would call those earmarks.

All earmarks that and more earmarks now on earmark - Countdown.


SEAN HANNITY, TV HOST: Hey, you're a genius.


OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening from Tampa.

In South Carolina, where 10.4 percent unemployment is the second highest and fastest growing jobless rate in the country, the only Republican lawmaker who seems to think it's good idea to put as many as 7,500 teachers out of work there by choice is the state's governor, Mark Sanford. His Wile E. Coyote plan or caliber of that plan is to put the education money out of Obama's stimulus and use it instead to pay down the state debt.

In our fifth story on the Countdown: That will only happen if Republicans and Democrats in the South Carolina state legislature are not able to stop him first.

Finally, President Obama is getting some of the bipartisanship he's been working for so hard on the economy, as well as financial indicators are now moving in the positive direction however slight. America's three biggest banks, this week, are all reporting profits for the first two months of the year. Citigroup is adding it does not need anymore money from the government right now.

Also, the stock market responding with its best week since

November. Four days in which there were now only not losses but there were - shhh, quietly - slight gains.

All of those voices on the right which were demanding last week, having blamed Obama thoroughly and blamed the Dow's decline on him and his economic policies, if not his very existence, now are conspicuously silent.

In his speech at the Brookings Institution this morning, Obama's economic adviser, Larry Summers, is saying that consumer spending seems to have stabilize, adding that an excess of fear is compounding the economic crisis.

At the White House this afternoon, the president just as cautiously optimistic.


OBAMA: If we are keeping focused on all the fundamentally sound aspects of our economy, all the outstanding companies, workers, all the innovation and dynamism in this economy, then we're going to get through this and I'm very confident about that.


OLBERMANN: Of course, there is still plenty that could undermine Obama's plan for economic recovery, especially Governor Sanford and the other Republican governors who are now apparently actively trying to sabotage it.

In Texas, Rick Perry adding his name to the list of Republican governors hoping to order off the stim menu ala carte, taking only the money that he wants and doing with it only what he wants. Next door in Louisiana, members of that state's legislatures black caucus now trying to block Governor Bobby Jindal in his effort to do the same, similar to how lawmakers in South Carolina are trying to save the state from Governor Sanford's destruction.

President Obama, you see, having kept his promise to that young girl who sat next to the first lady at his speech to a joint session of Congress, the student who had written a letter, asking for money to fix her crumbling Dillon, South Carolina school. But as we mentioned, if Governor Sanford prevails, she and her classmates still won't get it, nor teachers for that matter - up to 7,500 educators in that state would have to be fired as a direct result of Sanford's desire to divert education funding from the stimulus to pay down the state debt.

State Senate Finance Committee chairman, Hugh Leatherman, who is a Republican, is knocking the move, calling it Tomfoolery borne out of Sanford's desire to make headlines. Mr. Leatherman is now leading the effort to override his own party's governor, Sanford's rejection of the funds.

Last night on fixed news, Governor Sanford is explaining how he would plunge the South Carolina economy back into the Dark Ages.


SANFORD: It's not a good idea to spend money that you don't have, whether in your personal life, in the world of business or, for that matter, in the world of politics. At the end of the day, all this stimulus money is about spending money we don't have. We don't think that's a good idea. But that debate was lost.

Rather than spending it, let's take it and dedicate to paying down debts already held by the state of South Carolina and that will make our finances that much stronger as we go into this financial storm.


OLBERMANN: Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, the Democratic whip, having inserted the clause into the stim now making it possible for all legislatures across to the country to bypass the governors who tried to reject or redirect stimulus money not just in South Carolina.

Congressman Clyburn has been good enough to join us this evening.

Good evening to you, sir.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN, (D) SOUTH CAROLINA: Good evening. Thank you so much for having me, Keith.

OLBERMANN: What led you to anticipate these stimulus battles being waged not just in South Carolina but also in Louisiana and Texas and Mississippi and who knows where else it might yet happen?

CLYBURN: Well, first of all, I've had a long history with Governor Sanford. He's been governor there for six years in South Carolina. But he also served six years in the Congress. So, I know a little bit about his philosophy of governance.

And I was a bit leery of admitting that president - at that time, President-elect Obama headed down in Philadelphia when all of the governors came in, where 46 governors were there, and the other four states were represented. And when I talked with the president-elect at the time, he told me that all the governors seemed to be OK with what he was doing except two. And one of them was Governor Sanford and Governor Perry of Texas.

And so, I started discussing with my legislative leaders here, you just mentioned some of them, Hugh Leatherman, Senator Bobby - congressman - Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell. I spoke with him twice today. We are working on making sure that the House and the Senate here, though they are both controlled by Republicans, they are both interested in trying to do what's best for South Carolinians.

Keith, we've got 10.4 percent unemployment rate; Allendale County, 24 percent; Marion County that I represent, 22 percent unemployment. These are depression levels.

And for us to be talking about a debt reduction at a time we've got an economic crisis is tantamount to talking about conserving water when the neighborhood is on fire. We have got to do what is necessary to get people back to work, get communities stabilize, get people's mortgages back restructured so we can do what is necessary to educate our children and move these communities forward.

OLBERMANN: Do you think you are going to get this overturned in South Carolina? You got your colleagues in those houses are going to get this crazy notion from the governor, stopped before it becomes law?

CLYBURN: Absolutely. I've got great faith and confidence in the South Carolina general assembly. There are times when we do things in a protestant way. But after the elections are over, most often than not here in South Carolina, we put all that aside and we try to work together.

I enjoy working with Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell and with Senator Hugh Leatherman and Senator Glenn McConnell. We work very well together on behalf of our state and I'm convinced that there will be an overwhelming vote in both of those houses to bring that money into the budget. Let's do what's necessary to get Ty'Sheoma Bethea the school that she wants and needs. Let's do what's necessary to put infrastructure in this community, up and down I-95 corridor, put in the water, put in the sewage, get people back to work and get their community stabilize.

And let's begin to stand our neighborhoods back up.

OLBERMANN: Governor Sanford - and I know you've already commented on this, and I'd like to give you the opportunity to do this again - also compared President Obama's plans to the ones being enacted in Zimbabwe by Robert Mugabe.

If that's not playing the race card in there, at least that's - it sounds to me like or maybe I give him a pass on the idea that he's making some comparison to skin color here, but he is comparing the president of the United States to the leader - essentially the dictator of a nation that's being held together with staples. I mean, to me, it's an offensive remark on a couple of levels, at least.

CLYBURN: Well, you talk about a country with 11 million percent inflation rate. I'll ask you: what is the inflation rate here in the United States of America? Last time I checked, no inflation. So, what's the comparison here?

You are talking about a dictator that to be run out of office if not out of the country, and compare him with President Obama who just got elected in a magnanimous way, who is reaching out to both sides of the aisle trying to govern in a bipartisan way, trying to work with all the elements in our society, to stand this economy back up. I have absolutely no idea what Governor Sanford could possibly be thinking about. That's beyond the pale.

OLBERMANN: Last question: Are there recall provisions for the governor in the South Carolina Constitution or can he be impeached? Should we be talking about that, considering that at this point?

CLYBURN: Well, nobody is talking about that and, quite frankly, I do not think that we have recall provisions in South Carolina law. I suspect that the legislature can have some kind of a show of no-confidence or something, with some kind of resolution, but I don't think any provision in South Carolina law for us to have any kind of a recall.

But I don't want to spend energy on that. We've got less than two years with Governor Sanford. I want all of our energy to be focused on our constituents. We have got too many people in this state.

Our state depends upon tourism as its number one industry. And you know what happens with tourism when people lose disposable income. So, we got to be working together, focused on the people that we are here to represent, and I don't want to spend a lot of time on Governor Sanford and his shenanigans.

OLBERMANN: United States Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, putting those shenanigans in good perspective for us tonight. Great thanks for your time, sir.

CLYBURN: Thank you so much for having me.

OLBERMANN: My pleasure.

For more on the other political ramifications, let's turn to our own Richard Wolffe.

Good evening, Richard.


OLBERMANN: All right. Last month, Senator Schumer sent this letter to the White House to urge to the officials there to exercise this clause in any stimulus package that would allow it to tell the governors like - the Republican governors like Sanford and Jindal and Perry, that they either accept the stim funding as it has been passed - by the way, this isn't just somebody's idea, this is law - or not take it at all.

Why would the administration not choose to go down that route? Why are they in that position now where these tin-pot tyrants of the individual states can say, well, no, I'm going to redirect $700 million to something of my own pet project?

WOLFFE: Well, believe me, there are plenty of people in the West Wing and also in the Democratic Party in Washington who would liked to have seen that kind of thing happen. And there's a lot of satisfaction in playing that kind of politics. The problem is, it may seem petty at a time when people in the states need help.

But on, a political level, there are a lot of benefits from watching these Republican governors have to explain to their own folks in their own states why they are turning away federal money at a time when there is so much suffering back home. So, this is not an easy position for these Republican governors to take or explain.

And more to the point, there are people in South Carolina who have taken federal dollars for years, South Carolina has been one of the biggest pork barrel benefit states for many decades and nobody has ever said in South Carolina, well, we don't want your defense dollars because it's based on high federal debt or deficit spending.

So this is the kind of politics that is extremely hard for these Republican governors to pull off. And, by the way, any kind of punitive measures may well have alienated the other Republican governors who gave this White House for them to recover, people like Schwarzenegger and Crist. So, a complicated balance there.

OLBERMANN: Away from South Carolina and to the stock market, when if and Wall Street has a bad day or a bad month or, you know, a bad hour, it has been declared Obama's fault even for the period when he had not yet been elected president, but was merely a nominee. But a good week and we are talking about bank stocks going up 40 percent this week - a good week. Nobody's even going to talk about it, let alone give him possible credit for it.

Have I established the ground rules on this?

WOLFFE: Pretty much, yes. Look - it's crazy to punish a president for declines in the stock market and it's idiotic to give him benefits, but you should be consistent. Whether it goes down or up, if you're going to lay all the blame or give the benefits to the president.

You know, as a president, frankly, you don't want your performance to be judged by the stock market because it is volatile. In any case, as we've seen, the stock market is not a good measure of how the economy is doing; never mind how a president is doing. You know, a president should be measured on whether jobs are being created and real income is going up. That's the kind of long-term measure.

But to assign negativity or positivity based on one week, or even one year or one decade of the stock market is insane.

OLBERMANN: What about those political ramifications for these governors, what I just mentioned there to Congressman Clyburn? Is there potential for recall, impeachment? Somebody standing up and going, you know - no, the citizens would like to have the stimulus money, thank you, governor?

WOLFFE: I think the real political danger for these guys especially people like Jindal and Sanford who have, clearly, got an eye on national politics is that they are trying too hard. And they're really in an untenable politician position here. They maybe speaking to a core base in their own states, but even geographically, they are not speaking to Republicans everywhere.

So, for Perry, who is up for re-election, who isn't term limited, yes, he's going to face some trouble here explaining it, especially if the economy stays bad. But Sanford and Jindal really have got to think - you know, does this strategy make sense? Apart from a Republican primary, what kind of platform does it lead to in national politics?

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

WOLFFE: Thank you. And you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: When Republican leaders are not saying no to the Senate, to the House or to the Democrats, they are busy saying it to the other Republicans. Thus the continuing saga of Michael Steele and yet another bizarre twist - today, there arose a huge problem: to oust him would evidently require a 2/3 vote. With some in the party defending him and his pro-choice, pro-tolerance comments, others have forgiven him for all those comments, and still, others are maneuvering to oust him as RNC chairman - what gives anybody in the GOP the idea that 2/3 of his colleagues could agree on anything?


OLBERMANN: The Republican insurrection against their own national chairman might be thwarted by the rules under which such a chairman might be unseated. Karl Rove in charge of the Bush Freedom Institute Library or Condi Rice? Why not Jeff Gannon?

And not only Worsts where Sean Hannity says he is both in favor of torture and a Christian, despite the fact that Christ was tortured, but also a new Friday feature: The Worst Persons in the World of the Week. Milking it for everything it's worth - tonight on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: There may be great unease in the Republican Party about its national committee chair, Michael Steele. But if the RNC is basically stuck with him, at least that fits easily into its most prevailing theme.

In our fourth story on the Countdown: A party set against - among other things - itself. Steele's comments to "GQ" magazine threatened to derail him before he had staffed his own office. The comments include, you recall, that abortion is an individual's choice and that being born gay is comparable to being born black.

Steele hastened to issue a pro-life statement of clarification yesterday and managed finally to hire a chief of staff named Ken McKay.

But ongoing, the inter-party turmoil over his arc of gaffes or perhaps his bursts of honesty, former governor, Mike Huckabee, of Arkansas, critical once and then twice, saying, quote, "Despite his clarification, the party stands to lose many of its members and a great deal of support in the trenches. His statement today helps but doesn't explain why he would ever say what he did in the first place." And after speaking to Steele directly, Huckabee backed off, issuing his third statement on the issue, "I'm grateful that Chairman Steele was willing to set the record straight without hesitation."

One of Steele's former rivals for that RNC post, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has said Steele, quote, "needs to reread the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and the 2008 GOP platform. He then needs to get to work or get out of the way."

And another former rival, Chip Saltsman of Tennessee said he still has faith in Steele's chairmanship, but he also said this, quote, "Michael needs to get back to the basics," or what? It would reportedly take a 2/3 vote among the RNC's 168 members to remove Mr. Steele as chairman.

Let's now call in "Washington Post" White House reporter, author of "The Fix" at, Chris Cillizza.

Chris, good evening.


OLBERMANN: A couple of others have defended Steele as well, including another man who ran against him for that post Mr. Anuzis of Michigan and the Florida Republican Party chair, Jim Greer, basically scolded the party for being disloyal to its chairman.

Is this the kind of thing that can drive Republicans crazy? I mean, there's grave doubts on the one hand, there's historical tendency towards loyalty and closing ranks on the other.

CILLIZZA: You know, Keith, this is, I think - we are seeing the battle between pragmatism and a return to the roots, which has been going on in the Republican Party since the 2008 election, played out in the person of Michael Steele. You have some people saying, we need to speak more truth, we need real change and this is what real change looks like. You have the traditionalists on the other hand who say - whoa, whoa, whoa this is not what the Republican Party is all about.

You know, I think everyone in the Republican Party talks about the need - we need to change, we need to adapt, we need a new face. But the truth of the matter is, that change is uncomfortable. That change is going to not make a lot of people happy. And so, they are dealing with that right now in the person of Michael Steele.

OLBERMANN: Steele's gaffes or, again, we might call them in a different universe - bursts of honesty - they seem to strike at the, I guess, the identity of the GOP. He takes on Boss Limbaugh and then says, oh, my goodness, I can't really do that, he apologizes. He tries to sound inclusive about abortion, he backtracks.

How many more pillars of present-day Republicanism can he go against sort of bang off like he's in this pinball machine and still survive and not tilt the whole machine?

CILLIZZA: Well, Keith, you point out at the top that it is difficult to remove a chairman. Add to that, the context. The Republican Party has just been through to very difficult elections in which they lost a bundle of seats in the House, in the Senate and the presidency. They just went through an RNC chairman's race that was defined by the fact that no one really stood out, that none of the big names, the Newt Gingrich, the Mitt Romney - none of them wound up running.

Michael Steele won. They were happy with that because he gave them an African-American face at the top of the party. I'm not sure that there's any real desire. There are certainly pockets of dissatisfaction with Michael Steele, Ken Blackwell being one, Mike Huckabee being another. But I'm not convinced there is enough there because the party wants so badly to put a united front on, to show that the chaos is behind them and they are moving in the right direction, that they're going to keep him in there unless he continues this apostasy over and over and over again, which he, I don't think, will do.

OLBERMANN: So, obviously, if it's a 2/3 vote to remove him, it's not going to be easy. It might not be wise. It certainly would be controversial. It certainly would be painful.

So, the GOP is left with what here? Do they hope for the best? Do they just sort of live in sort of permanent dread? Do they think he's going to be, you know, hit by lightning and converted in some way?

CILLIZZA: I think it's a hope for the best. What the folks who were aligned with Steele will tell you is, he did, the Limbaugh comments, the "GQ" interview - this was done several weeks ago, the "GQ" interview it only came out earlier this week, they will say, he got off message. He didn't understand the difference being a television pundit - which he did for FOX News Channel - and being the head of the party, that those are two very different things. He gets that now.

They hired, as you mentioned, Keith, an executive director. They've hired a communications director. They just conducted an internal review led by RNC members of the organization. They have to hope that Steele gets it.

Now, in the past, he has said he's gotten it before and he's gone back-and-forth, sometimes being charismatic and effective, sometimes being off-message and not effective. They have to hope he gets it because removing him is just, in my opinion, at this point, not an option.

OLBERMANN: But do they get it? I mean, the last election was about inclusion. And every time this man has even touched this - almost said the word inclusion, it's like he gets a third rail. Where does the - where does the GOP go if they can't stomach a man who says, "No, we have to be somewhat inclusive"?

CILLIZZA: Well, Keith, this gets to the sort of the hard truth and what that actually means when it plays out. Everyone - and this is true to any party in the minority - everyone plays lip service. We need to change. We need to reach out. We need to find independents and moderates with our message.

But the problem is, is that the Republican base doesn't want to change their message. They want opposition to gay marriage. They want opposition to abortion. Those are things that are fundamental to them. They are the core of the Republican Party.

Changing those things might broaden the appeal of the Republican Party but does it come at losing the base? And that's a tough, tough thing that Michael Steele is going to have to try and figure and navigate.

OLBERMANN: Chris Cillizza of the "Washington Post" - many thanks, as always. Have a great weekend.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: In economic news, more positive signs that the stim is working. Monkeys are buying dental floss.

And in Worsts: It was a nightmare that overwhelmed Alabama and this nation. A man kills his own mother and nine others and turns out to have kept a hit list. And Glenn Beck is rationalizing it and blaming liberals for it - ahead on Countdown.


KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST OF "Countdown": "Still Bushed" in a moment.

And as Bush apologists insist anew that everybody believed Saddam had WMD, evidence anew that the British did not.

But first, on this date in 1911, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was born, an American science fiction writer. He devised a self-help system called Dianetics, first published in 1950.

The book became the guiding principle behind peddling free stress tests to unsuspecting tourists in Times Square, and also the foundation of the Church of Scientology.

So time to jump up and down on the couch and call each other glib while I say "Let's play oddball."

We begin in Spokane, Washington. Speaking of couches, a couple of weeks ago Vicki Mendenhall purchased a $27 sofa from a local thrift store. Shortly after its arrival, Ms. Mendenhall noticed a mysterious mewing sound coming from somewhere in her home.

After days of searching for the noise's source, Ms. Mendenhall, her boyfriend noticed something was moving inside that couch. That something was a nine-year-old calico cat named Callie. Callie has now been reunited with her owner, who donated the couch.

Also in the couch, they found a press release about how the New York Mets will begin sell single game tickets for their new ballpark online and by phone starting this Sunday morning.

As for the thrift store, it has since discontinued this special combo model from their sofa/cat-a-logue.

Why don't we do Apori(ph), Thailand, for some anthropomorphism. These primates are not afraid to show their pearly whites, not when they have the latest in teeth cleaning technology at their disposal. They're flossing with human hair - now available in spearmint.

Fun for the whole family, proving that not all floss is created equal, nor is it approved by ADA.

From monkey hygiene to monkey marriage. The state senator from this gorgeous state of Florida who actually thought animal husbandry meant people were wedding themselves to animals, win the first ever honor as "Countdown's" worst person in the world of the week.

And Karl Rove is the architect of Bush's rise to the presidency, so why not turn to him to try to manage the temple of BS that will be the Bush Freedom Institute.

First, because they may be gone, but their deed outlive them. The headlines lingering from the previous administrations other 50 running scandals "Still Bushed."

Number three, cops and robbers-gate. In Bernie Madoff allocution for fraud yesterday, he explained the clever plan he used to fool not just his clients but also the Bush SEC into believing that he had invested their money into securities overseas - he told them they had.

Now, was there any way the Bush SEC could have thwarted this diabolically clever plan? figured out one investigative trick that they could have used. The Bush SEC could have gone to the parties with whom Madoff claimed to have invested money asked them, "Hey, is Bernie investing with you?"

If Bush SEC had tried to do that, they might even have realized tah Madoff's supposed investment partners didn't exist, almost like the Bush SEC didn't exist.

Number two, at least he kept us safe-gate. The Associated Press has obtained a draft report from the GAO, Government Accountability, which tested whether somebody could still get fake passports and driver's licenses to board U.S. planes just like the 9/11 hijackers did.

The GAO investigator tried four different times, using fake documents, got a Washington, D.C. I.D., which he then used to get a passport the very same day. Using fake birth certificate and fake driver's license he got a passport in eight days.

Using a Social Security number of a man who died in 1965, he got a fake birth certificate, a fake driver's license, and a passport.

And using a five-year-old boy's personal data, he got a passport for a 53-year-old man a week later.

The Associated Press reports that Mr. Bush's State Department knew about this vulnerability and know about it for years.

Number one, everybody thought Iraq had WMD-gate. It is the mantra we keep hearing as recently as this week Ari Fleischer, from Bush co-conspirators, notably Dick Cheney and recent Mr. Fleischer, that Bush could not have ginned up bogus intelligence to justify war with Iraq because even other countries through Saddam had WMD.

A British report warning, for instance, that Saddam was pursuing nuclear capabilities and could launch missile strikes in just 45 minutes, that claim helping Prime Minister Tony Blair to justify yielding to Mr. Bush's pressure for solidarity against Iraq.

But now we know British intelligence also was not anywhere near convinced. Newly released internal British memos from an unnamed official questioning the Blair report's claim that Iraq had assembled a team of nuclear specialists-quote "Dr. Frankenstein I presume. Sorry, it's getting late.

We have suggested moderating the same language in much the same way on drafts from the dim and distant pass without success."

So no, not everybody thought everybody had WMD. And Mr. Fleischer if you thought everyone in Britain did, then your intel on them was as weak as your intel on Iraq.

Stay tuned for a brand-new TV offer.


OLBERMANN: The George W. Bush presidential library is unprecedented, we now know, not merely for its inclusion of the phrses "George W. Bush" and "library" in the same sentence, but also for the degree of, and does this sound familiar, executive power being exerted for political goals.

Our third story tonight - "The New York times" magazine this weekend reporting that Bush and Bush allies did some actual fact finding about how to keep Bush's Freedom Institute free of facts.

In 2005 Mr. Bush began researching how to set up his own freedom institute, a policy institute alongside a future presidential museum and library. Bush cheerleader Karen Hughes telling "The Times" that Bush may use the Freedom Institute to help train officials from new democracies or third world aids workers or Afghan activists for women's rights.

The former first lady is a board member and alumna of Southern Methodist University, saying nothing of her actual library experience, and that's where the Freedom Institute landed.

But when SMU asked Bush foundation co-chair Don Evans whether the Freedom Institute could be differentiated out from the library or the museum, Evans said "No," meaning that, unlike other cadmic presidential institutes, SMU's Bush Freedom Institute will not answer to the academic standards and leaders of SMU, but only to those of the Bush foundation.

Evans, quote, "I need to be able to tell donors that I will be fully responsible to them."

Hoover Institution Director John Raisian saying Bush, quote, "was just nervous that the scholarly appointees of the institute would have to be cleared by either the administration or the faculty of SMU."

And nervous he should be given that half SMU's board opposed the institute, even though the other half includes not only his wife but buddies like oil spillionaire Ray Hunt.

And while some on campus fear that Karl Rove will wind up leading the institute, SMU's president predicted a Condi Rice type. Well, that's all right, then.

Let's bring in Jim Moore, coauthor of "Bush's Brain," contributor to, and the "Moore" in Jim, welcome back, as always.


OLBERMANN: Officials from new democracies, third world AIDS doctors, women's rights activists from Afghanistan - given that we are still mired in both of Mr. Bush's new democracies, and that one of them, Afghanistan, just tossed one of these male women's rights activists in prison for 20 years for blasphemy, and given the Bush hostility towards condom use for fighting aids, what the hell kind of seminars is Karen Hughes envisioning at this freedom institute? Cooking classes?

MOORE: If they're cooking classes, we all know they will be classes to cook up intelligence.

But in this case, they are not going to cook intelligence. They are going to try to cook history. This is - I think this is a new facet of the permanent campaign which the Bush people claim to be so good at.

And this, Keith, is an attempt to campaign to change the facts, the perception of facts, and to change history. And I don't think they are going to get away with it.

But it is very much like bringing the White House Iraq Group, or any of those organizations, Rumsfeld's office of Special Plans to Texas to sort of distort things, but do it in an academic way.

But I think about nailed it when you said it was the temple of BS.

And this being in Texas, it is going to be a big temple and big BS.

OLBERMANN: Everything is bigger in Texas.

MOORE: That's right.

OLBERMANN: When they asked this man Don Evans about the Condi-type leading this institute, at first he was silent. And then he said, quote, "I am confident we will choose an individual whom all sides will be pleased with."

But either he means that literally, which is intriguing, because I can't think of one individual whom all sides will be pleased with, or he is defining "all sides" as "all different kinds of Bush's supporters." Which is it?

MOORE: I think the former president is very in the position of being a 16-year-old high school kid whose dad bought him the new car. He had lots of friends. He wrecked the car, and his friends went away.

This president almost totaled America, and now he is looking for somebody who can come in that both sides are going to say OK to. I don't know who that person is. I don't know who would be available.

Well, actually, I do know one person who is available, and that's the guy who said that the Geneva Conventions on torture were kind of quaint, and that's Al Gonzalez. I don't think he has a job yet.

OLBERMANN: Yes. That would be fitting.

They could just put him on display in the library and just keep him in a glass case, and he could go home every night at 5:00. That would be a better role.

The Hoover director seems to have tipped Mr. Bush's cards most clearly here, that even now, out of power, President Bush still wants some sort of oasis for himself free from this messy push and shove of conflicting ideas, the old marketplace.

How can he prevent that impulse from shaping his legacy more so than whatever academic "fruit" it might yield?

MOORE: I think people, even without the slightest sense of irony, have to be chuckling about George W. Bush coming down to SMU or any university or any institution of higher learning, trying to find the truth or find the facts.

This is nothing of the sort. This is bringing all of his friends and all of the people who defended him all those years doing all of those wrong things, and trying to get them together to change how history will interpret his time in office.

And the truth is there just is not a body of facts or evidence that doesn't say that this is one of the most profoundly failed presidents in our country's history. That's all they are trying to avoid with this. That's it.

OLBERMANN: And yet we still get more and more information, like that report out of Britain, the Dr. Frankenstein quote, that just keeps - the information keeps coming.

MOORE: Right.

OLBERMANN: Jim Moore, the co-author of "Bush's Brain," contiburor to Huffington Post and Great thanks.

MOORE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour - ending the Bush policy of declaring detainees "enemy combatants." Is this semantics? What does this move by the Obama administration mean?

And in worst, will take a trip(ph) to Michele Bachmann's land of make-believe, the place where she can say with a straight face she has never been responsible for an earmark other than $3 million worth of them last year.

OLBERMANN: And bonus worsts, the worst person in the world of the week. Will the guy who used his local weather forecast at the Fox station here in Tampa to deny global warming rather than tell me how hot it was going to be the next day be denied the title? Ahead on "Countdown."


OLBERMANN: It's a new Friday feature. Call it "Son of worst persons." Each fried the "worstiness" will be supersized with the worse person in the world of the week. That's next.

But first "Countdown's" number two story. Tonight's fresh baked-all right, half-baked, supply of worst persons in the world.

The bronze to the manatee putting his sadism before his religion. "If we capture an enemy combatant in the battlefield or we can use Usama bin Laden who may have information about a pending attack.

You know what? I don't have any problem taking his head, sticking it underwater, and scaring the living daylights out of him and making him think we're drowning him. And I'm a Christian."

No, no you are not.

I'm not saying you don't think you're a Christian, but if you actually think Christ would endorse torture, Sean, it has probably never dawned on you just what event that little crucifix thing is supposed to represent.

The silver tonight, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann telling the Fox Out of Business Channel that she believes someday we will have an earmark free spending bill.

"I took a pledge in my own district. I have not taken earmarks in the last three years that I have been in Congress because the system is so corrupt. It is possible to make that pledge."

It's possible to make that pledge, but if you are a raging hypocrite like Bachmann, it's not possible to keep it. The website says Bachmann put in for seven earmarks for fiscal 2008 alone.

She asked for an earmark for $94,000 for a sheriff's youth program, another earmark for $335,000 for equipment acquisition for a medical center, and another earmark of $803,000 for the replacement of the small buses for the St. Cloud, Minnesota bus line.

Bachmann's personal earmark total for 2008, $3,767,600.

And, oh, by the way, while she did sign the no earmark pledge sponsored by the club for growth for 2008, without evidently knowing what a pledge is, she did not sign it for 2009.

But our winner, Glenn Beck of fixed news.

This week a man named Michael McClendon killed ten people during a rampage in Alabama. Slowly, subtly, perniciously, Beck defended this mass murderer.

"As I'm listening to him, I'm thinking about the American people that feel disenfranchised right now. They feel like nobody is hearing their voice. The government is not hearing their voice. Even if you call, they don't listen to you on both sides.

If you are a conservative, you are called a "racist." You want to starve children. And every time they do speak out, they are shut down by political correctness.

How do you not have those people turn into that guy?"

Well, you could give them a show on FOX. That seemed to work for you, Glenn.

Glenn Beck, rationalizer of the murder of ten people, today's worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN: Using a combination of sarcasm and humor as a public sanction against inflexible behavior, we have been trying to clean up the word wince we started handing out the "worst person" awards all the way back in the summer of 2005.

Somehow it just keeps getting worster.

With our number one story, with that said, it is my pleasure to announce that beginning tonight we will begin a new weekly segment in which we take all of the worst person winners and nominees from the past week and declare the supreme champion, someone whose remarkable idiocy dwarves the landscape of numb-skullery we have identified over the preceding five days.

In a few minutes we will mint our inaugural worst person in the world of the week. Here are your nominees.


For recognition as the first ever world person in the world of the week, you need to stay something stupid.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: By all accounts, the Bush administration defeated Al Qaeda. So we won the terror war.

OLBERMANN: Very stupid. But is it worse than this Tamp weather guy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just think the whole global warming doomsayer theory is tough to see based on recent calculations.

OLBERMANN: Is that worse than "SNL" alum turned Hannity panelist Victoria Jackson smearing the president?

VICTORIA JACKSON: My motivation is gone because he will punish me if

I'm successful. That's how you start communism is to take Cuba-

OLBERMANN: What? If you're successful. That's a big "if."

JACKSON: Obama wants to be Castro.

OLBERMANN: There is also that state senator from Florida who voted for an anti-bestiality proposal, but wasn't sure why animal husbandry would still be allowed.

Quoting Larcenia Bullard, "People are taking these animals a husbands?" You need to look it up.

The return to federal stem cell research gave the FOX crew a chance to televise wing nut Internet commentary and feigned discussed about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People like to really get honest with it, so here we go. From Kim Owens, "Hitler would have loved it."

From Dan Thompson, "It is the only thing that Obama has done right." Dan Thompson in Pine Hill, New Mexico. Remember, if you give a monkey a keyboard, he will eventually type a word correctly. Ouch, damn.

OLBERMANN: Roger Ailes took the fall for that, and I don't know why that news actress acted surprised considering one of those loons does an hour on FOX News every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think maybe we could avoid the harvesting babies for their organs or stem cells or cloned bodies?

OLBERMANN: Also, former Republican Speaker Gingrich came out with his "Newt deal," paying teenagers to not get pregnant, bringing the GOP out of the wilderness with state-sponsored prosecution.

GINGRICH: In fact, this may be a first.

OLBERMANN: After author Michael Wolf came on this show and said the following about "The New York Post" Obama chimpanzee cartoon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is all about Col(ph) Allen(ph). It's all about he chose the cartoon.

OLBERMANN: Guess who showed up on "The New York Post's" page six three times after that.

Oh yeah, and they took a feeble whack at me. So Rupert Murdoch was honored twice this week, matey.


OLBERMANN: Rupert loses $50 or $60 million a year on that vanity newspaper of his just so he can try to bludgeon his critics and those who will tell the truth about him, and the news terrorists he calls employees, most of whom would eat him alive if there was an extra 40 bucks in it for them.

Add to the pile the pile of tonight's honoree-the Mannity, Congresswoman Bachmann and Glenn Beck leading the first ever field for our first ever worst person in the world of the week is set.

And after digesting all the nominees in one place, I think you have to go back to the beginning of that piece of tape we just showed you. Let me play the sound bite once again.


O'REILLY: Look, by all accounts the Bush administration defeated Al Qaeda, all right. Al Qaeda was marginalized, has been downgraded as a threat to the world. So we won the terror war.


OLBERMANN: I know you are looking at the guy over at the side there in the bow tie doing this. But let me read the O'Reilly quote again and let is sink in.

"Look, by all accounts the Bush administration defeated Al Qaeda, all right. Al Qaeda was marginalized, has been downgraded as a threat to the world. So we won the terror war."

I don't think he understands that the war on terror, as misleading as that term is, began in a place called Afghanistan. Say what you want about Iraq, whether we are winning, have won, or will win. Afghanistan, the place where the war on terror began, is nowhere near decided.

You can ask the 17,000 additional U.S. troops about to deploy there, or the U.S. and Nato commander who said this week that there are large parts of Afghanistan that our allied forces are not winning in.

It takes a willful suspension of logic to think it's all over, let along to state that by all accounts the Bush administration defeated Al Qaeda when its leader, the man who ordered the hit on the 3,000 people in New York and the Pentagon, remained untouched by the Bush administration for the seven years, four months, and eight days after the attacks.

Forget "By all accounts, the Bush administration defeated Al Qaeda."

You mean, by one account. And it's only yours.

Thus is it now my honor to name Bill O'Reilly, who has singularly declared mission accomplished in the war on terror, as the inaugural worst person in the world of the week!

It's going to be tough to say every Friday.

That is "Countdown" for this, the 2,134th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.

Our apologies for the technical difficulties at the beginning of the show. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night, and good luck.

I broke the camera, that's what happened. And now to discuss the detainees in the war on terror and why the Obama administration will no longer call those suspects enemy combatants, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.