'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, March 27, 2009
Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons
Guest: Shannyn Moore, Eugene Robinson
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Over the line: Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann tries to foment rebellion against a lawfully-elected government of the United States.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, (R) MINNESOTA: Like Thomas Jefferson said, "A revolution every now and then is a good thing." We are at the point, Sean, of revolution. And we have to rise up and say, "No more. Not on my watch. No more."
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: She adds, quote, "I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax."
There is wing-nut crazy. There is Michele Bachmann crazy. But that was a call to insurrection. What now?
The Republican budget: The one without any of those messy confusing numbers in it. The report from "Politico," congressmen Cantor and Ryan objected to releasing the fudge-it but were overruled by congressmen Pence and Boehner.
Republican revolt in Alaska: State legislative leaders think refusing stimulus funds is crazy. They schedule a meeting with Governor Palin, she cancels it. They - the Republican House speaker and Republican Senate president - rip her.
Afghanistan: The president's troop increase turns out to have been greater than it appears.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: We have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And that will take, he says, 4,000 more American advisers.
The Republican Party's new spokesmodel, as it lies about and tries to sink the Employee Free Choice Act, Joe the Plumber - even though plumbers support Employee Free Choice and even though he's not a real plumber, says the group that chose him, "The public loves Joe the Plumber. They see him as a role model."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMUEL WURZELBACHER, JOE THE PLUMBER: God, all this love in the room and everything - I'm horny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The role model for what exactly?
And breaking news - boycotts work: After Billo stalker producer followed a woman for two hours to get an ambush interview, UPS pulls out. It will no longer advertise on "O'Reilly Show."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O'REILLY, TV HOST: Not good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: All that and more - now on Countdown.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
O'REILLY: And it will be amusing to see how NBC spins that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening from New York.
The same United States congresswoman who, earlier this week, claims she had been speaking in metaphor when she said she wanted the people of her home state to be, quote, "armed and dangerous" on the issue of energy tax, the same congresswoman who, last October, nearly lost her bid for re-election when she called then-Senator Barack Obama anti-American - that congresswoman is now calling for a so-called "orderly revolution" to defeat Mr. Obama who is, by the way, now the president of the United States.
Our fifth story on the Countdown: The identity of the speaker is unmistakable, but this is not your standard red meat from Michele Bachmann, she may have broken several serious laws.
Mrs. Bachmann, having moved long past shouting "You be the man" at RNC Chair Michael Steele, now making calls for revolution against President Obama, a regular feature of her radio interviews. The Minnesota Republican, first having called for revolution on Saturday as part of her "armed and dangerous" conversation. But by the time she appeared on Sean Hannity's radio show, Mrs. Bachmann did not say she was speaking metaphorically when she again called for revolution against the, quote, "economic Marxism of the Obama administration."
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BACHMANN: Like Thomas Jefferson said, "A revolution every now and then is a good thing." We are at the point, Sean, of revolution. And by that, what I mean, an orderly revolution - where the people of this country wake up and get up and make a decision that this is not going happen on their watch.
It won't be our children and grandchildren that are in debt, it is we who are in debt. We will be bankrupting this country inside of 10 years if we don't get a grip. And we can't let the Democrats achieve their ends any longer.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: What end is Congresswoman Bachmann trying to keep the Democrats from achieving - moving to a global currency, something the president and the Democrats have repeatedly said they have no design on achieving. What would be on Mrs. Bachmann's part paranoia of the highest order as would be a U.S. congresswoman viewing herself as a foreign correspondent behind enemy lines.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BACHMANN: Right now I'm a member of Congress, and I believe that my job here is to be a foreign correspondent reporting from enemy lines. And people need to understand, this isn't a game. This isn't just a political talk show that's happening right now. This is our very freedom.
And we have 230 year of continuous link of freedom that every generation has ceded to the next generation. This may be the time when that link breaks and I'm going to do everything I can, I know you are, to make sure that we keep that link secure. We cannot allow that link to break.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In case her calls for revolution to save freedom from the president's economic Marxism had been too subtle, Congresswoman Bachmann then adding it is time to rise up.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BACHMANN: We can never forget that the founders were rebelling against a governmental authority that abused their taxation power. And that was the tyranny. That's exactly what's happening right now. And we have to - and we have to rise up and say, "No more. Not on my watch. No more."
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Time now to call in our own Jonathan Alter, senior editor at "Newsweek" magazine.
Jon, good evening.
JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We might dismiss this. I mean, Michele Bachmann - it sounds crazy. But just because it sounds crazy, does that mean she's not to be held accountable for these things like this? I mean, are there not federal laws which specifically prohibit advocating the violent overthrow of the government of the United States?
ALTER: There are. You know, I'm not personally in favor of trying to enforce that because I think it does inhibit free speech and odious speech has to be defended. But what we should call for is what you just mentioned - accountability.
If this were a Democrat, we had been saying this, there would immediately have been a lot of calls for the Democratic Party to rein in, you know, this whack job on their side of the aisle. We are not seeing those calls right now. We are not seeing Republican leaders in the House of Representatives being called upon to force her to retract those comments.
OLBERMANN: Yes. I'm not necessarily calling for her to be treated like Clement Vallandigham during the Civil War for advocating that we had no right to keep the south from seceding. But she has all the elements here, all the trip wires for every lunatic in this country. So, you got "armed and dangerous," "rise up," "revolution," "This isn't a game and we can't let the Democrats achieve their ends any longer."
If the Republicans do not speak up or somebody speak to her and say you have to tamp this down, anything that might happen after this would be a collective responsibility of that party, wouldn't it? Because they haven't - there is some party structure that allows senior members of the party to go to a congresswoman from Minnesota and say, "You are shooting your mouth off in a really dangerous, incendiary way."
ALTER: Well, they need to do that. They need to take some action.
I don't know about collective responsibility here.
I'm not saying everybody who is a Republican is not responsible for the venom that comes from her. But she does need to be reminded that in this country, the country that she says she believes in, we have something called elections. And the time for her to .
ALTER: Yes. The time for her to stage an election will be not, quote, "immediately" as she said in that radio interview with Sean Hannity who, by the way, was agreeing with everything that she said - not surprisingly - not immediately but in November of 2010. And if she wants to agitate, to throw all the Democrats out of Congress, then that's just fine. But when she talks about immediately, she sounds like she's urging extra-constitutional action that would be ironically, totally contrary to the traditions she claims to be upholding.
OLBERMANN: Yes. What - if she is not calling for that, what could her possible rationalization for this be and where did she miss the interpretation of what Thomas Jefferson actually meant by "a little revolution now and again"?
ALTER: Well, Jefferson did say that. Jefferson was fairly radical on that subject. But by the time he - the United States actually was founded, he was in a more, what we would call, small "r" Republican frame of mind about how we have - we are a nation of laws, we have elections, and we don't just run off, you know, with pitchforks at the drop of a hat.
She's got a little problem with reality, though, Keith. That's sort of what the bottom line is here. You know, for instance, she's on this, you know, jihad about a global currency.
OLBERMANN: Exactly. Who, when - who said this?
OLBERMANN: It's coming - it's coming back with the Fairness Doctrine, a global Fairness Doctrine.
ALTER: Maybe there are some people somewhere speaking Esperanto who want a global currency. But, you know, nobody that I've heard of in the United States, certainly not President Obama, is actually talking about some sort of global currency that gets rid of the dollar. So, this is her on some ridiculous flight of fancy that shouldn't take too seriously, but when she gets into the "armed rebellion" talk, it's time for her party's leaders to be called upon to get her to tamp that down.
OLBERMANN: What do her party's leaders think of her? I mean, we see her at major conservative events but not necessarily mainstream Republican events. What - where does she stand? It's hard - it's so hard to point at a crazy person and say, "Number nine in the batting order."
ALTER: Yes. She is not representative of that party's leadership. You know, she almost lost her seat. It was quite interesting that she ran into so much political trouble for talking about members of Congress being, quote, "un-American." That has a long tradition in American politics of working. And it's really a sign of progress when using that kind of language almost cost her her seat in Congress.
And the Republican Party had to pump some money in there and it, you know, became a problem for them. So, I think that she's an embarrassment for them and they would just assume that, you know, you and I not be talking about her.
OLBERMANN: Well, then, something like epoxy probably will do that
OLBERMANN: . or that congressional election in the midterms.
Jonathan Alter of MSNBC and "Newsweek" - great thanks. Have a great weekend.
ALTER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: In addition to the crazy that exists only inside the mind of Michele Bachmann, there is the kind of crazy that congressional Republicans are now inflicting upon each other - the unveiling of an alternative budget, a budget with no numbers in it, a fudge-it. Here it is, Mr. President. The gift that keeps on giving.
It turns out Minority Leader John Boehner could not be dissuaded from that debacle of a news conference could not even be talked out of it by Republican Whip Cantor or Congressman Ryan who supposedly their expert on this subject. Mr. Boehner insisting that they release their budget of nothing - leadership at its finest.
We turn now to Matt Cooper editor-at-large at TalksPointsMemo.com, contributing editor and columnist to "Conde Nast Portfolio."
Matt, good evening.
MATT COOPER, TALKINGPOINTSMEMO.COM: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: As if that news conference did not go badly enough for the minority leader, now we learn it all could have been avoided, that there was an attempt to talk him out of it and he refused. I mean, how does that - how does that make him look in terms of leadership of this party in its sunset time here?
COOPER: Well, you don't want to be turning down good advice. And it sounds like Boehner got some from his colleagues who though, hey, wait a second. This is almost the exact same mistake that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner made earlier this winter when he released the bank bailout plan and he released kind of an outline at first and there was terrible reception for it. And then he came back a few weeks later and had a more complete plan and met with a better audience.
But, you know, I think a lot of people could have seen this coming.
And Boehner obviously didn't.
OLBERMANN: Right. Just handing out an empty notebook is not certainly good.
COOPER: Not so good.
OLBERMANN: Before we accuse Congressman Cantor of having had a moment of clarity in here, can that really be called leadership when he tries to talk Boehner out of it and then shows up at the news conference and goes along with it anyway even though he's probably been fighting against it minutes before?
COOPER: Well, you could - to be fair, you could call that saluting smartly and just, you know, going along with the ill-chosen decision of your commander. But still, you know, maybe he was still in awe of having gone to the Britney Spears concert a couple of nights earlier. I don't know.
But, look, I think the bigger problem here beyond this budget thing is they don't have any stars. They don't have any sort of real - I mean, first of all, they seem bereft of ideas, too, as you see in this budget which is just a repeat of Bush-style tax cuts and "drill, baby, drill." But they're also devoid of stars. And I think that's why Michael Steele, Rush Limbaugh, Michele Bachmann are kind of filling the void of these, you know, character actors.
OLBERMANN: Don't forget Joe the Plumber.
COOPER: And Joe the Plumber.
OLBERMANN: Have the stakes been raised for this alternative budget when Congressman Ryan finishes the math and its release next week, probably Wednesday? Have they - have they managed to make this a bigger deal than it would have been have they come with the numbers yesterday or just waited until next week and issued it all at once?
COOPER: Yes, absolutely. And it's like the Geithner thing. Remember, he rolled out part of it and bad reception, and then he rolled out the whole thing. Now, all eyes are going to be on them.
And now, they really have to dot their "Is" and cross their "Ts" and make sure the numbers add up. And that's very hard to do when you don't have all the resources of the Office and Management and Budget. You don't have the staff.
And, you know, it will be interesting to see what they do come up with.
OLBERMANN: And the schedule, at least the interim schedule here is to have these - have the final version of this completed test after the incomplete has been registered. They are going to put it out next Wednesday which is next Wednesday, April 1st, which would be next Wednesday, April , April Fools' Day.
OLBERMANN: Is anybody - has any of the other congressmen gone to Boehner and said, "Look, you didn't listen to us, this time, we got a better idea, Tuesday or Thursday"?
COOPER: Yes. That's one of those ones you want to do a little vetting on. And, you know, I think any elementary school kid looks forward to that day and knows it's coming on the calendar. And, you know, the Republican leaders would have been wise to do the same.
OLBERMANN: Of course, if it turns out to have - if the numbers don't add up or it's all smudge, they can at least say, "April Fools" at the end of it.
Matt Cooper .
COOPER: Happy Easter.
OLBERMANN: . of TalkingPointsMemo.com - thank you, Matt.
COOPER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Well, one debate about the word expenditure rages on. There is second one coming about the expenditure of lives - because ultimately, that is the inevitable, ultimate consequence of an increase in troops. When he committed 17,000 more of them to go to Afghanistan, he did not say that was automatically the end of it. But Barack Obama has only been in office 67 days, and today, for the second time, he has said, more troops will be headed there. Now another 4,000.
He may be right, and in terms of escalation, he may be finished. But when it comes to wars in that part of the world, we are not used to presidents who are either right nor finished. Next.
OLBERMANN: Another increase in troop numbers for Afghanistan. Is it justifiable or are we headed back down an awful path?
There is a battle in Alaska over the stimulus and etiquette, it is among Governor Palin and the Senate and House leaders there, all three are Republicans.
And two startling breaking news developments of wildly different import: A major advertiser has tonight dropped out of Bill O'Reilly's show in protest of his stalker tactics towards a woman editor. And the guy for the ShamWow commercials has been arrested for felony battery. Insert your joke here. I've got plenty.
All ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: After standing atop the rubble and the remains of the dead and promising that their killers would hear us soon, President Bush made sure to claim 9/11 as his legacy and his mandate. "I'm a wartime president," he told us repeatedly as he spent years failing to win either of the wars.
Today, in our fourth story: The new president took the stage and said to both al Qaeda and the failed Bush strategy - no more. Time's up.
In addition to the 17,000 already announced, President Obama will send 4,000 members of the 82nd Airborne as well as hundreds of civilians to help Afghanistan get to its feet, while keeping official hands out of the Afghan cookie jar.
Mr. Obama will put pressure on both the Afghan president, Karzai, who says he likes this plan, and the Pakistan president, Zardari, to clean up their acts, in Pakistan's case, that would include little things like divorcing military and intelligence officials from their Taliban buddies and relaxing tensions with India, specifically to go after al Qaeda and Taliban in Waziristan, in the sanctity of a safe haven created there by the previous Pakistani president, Musharraf, with the full endorsement of President Bush. His presence in Mr. Obama's speech today was undeniable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: For six years, Afghanistan has been denied the resources that it demands because of the war in Iraq. Now, we must make a commitment that can accomplish our goals. For three years, our commanders have been clear about the resources they need for training. And those resources have been denied because of the war in Iraq.
Now, that will change. As we provide these resources, the days of unaccountable spending, no-bid contracts, and wasteful reconstruction must end. Going forward, we will not blindly stay the course. Instead, we will set clear metrics to measure progress and hold ourselves accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Returning from 2 ½ weeks in Afghanistan, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the associate editor of the "Washington Post."
Welcome back to the country. Welcome back to the program, sir.
RAJIV CHANDRASEKARAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The ultimate answer here first, this call for 4,000 more. Is this the right move, or is it too reminiscent of the last administration for comfort?
CHANDRASEKARAN: Well, we have to look at what those 4,000 are going to be doing, Keith. They're going to be devoted to training Afghan police and soldiers. And that's badly needed there. That's something that U.S. commanders have asked for, it's something that Afghan government has asked for.
And what the Obama administration is doing that is a fundamental break from what the Bush administration did was they're sending these elite troops and they're sort of going to reconfigure them to focus really on training. That's something the Bush administration never really did. And I think it represents perhaps the most positive step forward with trying to build an effective Afghan police and military force.
It's going to be tough sledding ahead. I think it's going to take some time. You know, whether this will actually work is still to be seen. But I think this new administration has done something that is bold and different here in trying to create real local security force capability, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We only used some of the Bush references in Mr. Obama's speech today. Why was it important for him to draw that comparison on so many different fronts?
CHANDRASEKARAN: I think there is a consensus out there that the old policy was fundamentally broken. The Bush administration fundamentally under-resourced the war in Afghanistan and - in the words of President Obama today - you know, had given something of a blank check to Pakistan, or at least those were his words to members of Congress perhaps yesterday when he said the era of blank checks are over.
With regard to Pakistan, there was lots of money given to the Musharraf government with little accountability for what that government was actually doing with - dealing with terrorist, al Qaeda-linked members of Taliban up at the border. With regard to Afghanistan, there just were not enough assets there. There weren't enough boots on the ground, there weren't enough airplanes, helicopters, surveillance drones.
As you purported again and again, Keith, I mean, so much of those resources were diverted to Iraq. So you had, you know, soldiers that just didn't have the necessary actionable intelligence. They didn't have the appropriate equipment.
In my time there, it was so clear to me, there's just a shortage of basic sort of planes to move people around. I shudder to think how many sort of man years of U.S. military personnel and diplomatic personnel we're losing with people just sort of waiting to catch planes from one place to another in Afghanistan.
OLBERMANN: The ranking Republican on House Armed Services, John McHugh, says that he wants other Republicans to get behind Obama's plan. In the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate, Russ Feingold is worried that it needs more of a focus on Pakistan. When in the past we have seen this kind of gradient, politically, Republicans for, Democrats critical, there's usually been a kind of knee-jerk reaction that this can't possibly be correct. Is there partisan divide here? Do we need to reshape our thinking in terms of which side might be right or is this just getting serious, substantive response at this point?
CHANDRASEKARAN: I think - I think that there is a remarkable degree of partisan unity here on this. Both sides fundamentally are appearing to support the president's new policy. I think you got some Democrats questioning the efficacy on the Pakistan front. But I think there are a lot of independent experts that also question whether these goals will actually be attainable on the Pakistan front. But they represent, I think, the best effort to try to change policy there.
It's obviously much tougher without actually having U.S. soldiers on the ground there. But when you talk to people here in Washington, it's a real break from the past. There's a - there's a real degree of unity here at this point on what needs to be done and people lining up behind the new president.
OLBERMANN: All right. You were just there, as we mentioned.
OLBERMANN: Given the reports that the Taliban both in Afghanistan and Pakistan are now uniting in preparation for these - the arrival of these new troops from this new president. Are the elements of this plan both necessary and sufficient? Are we going to hear about more troops later on? Is this the likely tap-off point or what?
CHANDRASEKARAN: Well, what I was hearing from senior commanders
there is that - , the 17,000 troops that the president had sent earlier and
these 4,000 more are viewed my commanders there as what they need at this
point. You know, I think the focus both on training as well as on
reconstruction, particularly all the talk about helping the Afghans with
agricultural development, with local governance, with fighting corruption -
those are all things that, I think, desperately need to be done on the ground.
But, Keith, you know, a big challenge here is trying to sort of dig out of the hole that we are in. You know, in my time there, I kept wondering, you know, what would it have been like had we resourced this war properly from the beginning?
CHANDRASEKARAN: And what you've got, you know, in many parts of Afghanistan are, you know, villages where troops have sort of rolled in and rolled out because there just weren't enough troops to sort of hold and protect those villages. And now, there is a real challenge with trying to convince those Afghans that we are there to stay and there to protect them.
As one military officer told me, it's like convincing somebody that's been the victim of numerous one night stands that we're really there for commitment this time.
OLBERMANN: Yes. We might have won when we claimed we won if we had stayed.
Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the "Washington Post" - it's always a pleasure. Thank you, sir. Have a good weekend.
CHANDRASEKARAN: Good to talk to you tonight.
OLBERMANN: Breaking news in unexpected places tonight. Vince the ShamWow guy was arrested for beating up an alleged hooker. This is probably not the time he wants people to be reminded that on national TV, he has repeatedly been heard saying, quote, "You are going to love my nuts."
And the first shoe drops for Billo. A major advertiser bails out on the "O'Reilly Factor" in protest to his show's stalking of a woman blogger. Worst Persons is ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment. But tonight, there is breaking Oddball news. Vince the ShamWow guy from the commercials has been arrested in Miami Beach for allegedly beating up a hooker, who had allegedly bitten his tongue and would not let go.
The good news is, presumably, Vince, the Sham Wow guy, had something with which to clean up the mess. I'm going to tell this breaking news quickly, because we can't do this all day. The Smoking Gun reports tonight that Vince Shlome (ph) was arrested on February 7th on a felony battery charge. The police report says he met Sasha Harris at a night club and agreed to pay her 1,000 dollars in cash for sex. I don't know, it sells itself. But when he kissed her, she bit his tongue and would not let go, so he hit her. Kind of unfortunate that his newest pitch is for a product called the Slap Chop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Slapping your troubles away with the Slap Chop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: From the mug shot, Mr. Shlome, 44, obviously took his share of the hits, too. The Smoking Gun offering no update on the disposition on his case against him, nor Ms. Harris, who has apparently visited the police there before. Nor is there any explanation if at any point in their action this line came up from Vince's latest infomercial.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are going to love my nuts. Watch this, almonds, walnuts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: How can we follow that? We will try in Cottonwood, Arizona, where this bobcat walks into a bar. On Tuesday at the Chabarell (ph) bar, a rabid bobcat walked through an open door, sending most people scrambling for the exits. But not patron Kyle Hicks, who had the bright idea he would get down on the ground and take a picture of the wild cat while it was sitting under the pool table. This is the photo Mr. Hicks snapped just seconds before the cat pounced on his face.
Here is the video of that event. Yes, it is rabies night here at the bar. The cat gave Hicks several lacerations, not to mention the viral disease. Still, unbelievably, Hicks said he would do it all over again. And after all, it is better than doing a Sham Wow commercial and then getting bitten by a hooker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a story for life. See somebody beat that one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Police eventually arrived and dealt with the cat. Mr.
Hicks is still being allowed to roam free.
To Finland, where software engineer Jerry Yalaba (ph) literally has more brains in the tip of his finger than you do in your entire body. After a motorcycle accident forced him to one of the fingers on his left hand amputated, the computer geek had his new prosthetic finger fitted with a USB port. Yalaba says the Giga Finger freaks people out. But it has become a convenient storage device. He just flips up a faux finger nail and plugs in.
Among the bionic fingers positives are easy downloads on the go. The negative, eating cheese doodles will gum up your old Mac Book.
The Republican leader of the Alaska House, the Republican leader of the Alaska Senate are both furious at the Republican governor of Alaska. Stalemate in the great white north over the stim.
Joe the Plumber; last week, he told conservatives he was horny. So tonight, they have made him a spokesperson against Employee Free Choice.
These stories ahead, but first time for Countdown's top three best persons in the world.
Number three, best sign of apocalypse, Jeb Harrison, economics teacher at Pokadelo (ph) High School in Idaho. Short of paper, he struck a deal with the owner of the nearby pizza joint. They bought 10,000 sheets of paper, a year's supply for Mr. Harrison's classroom. At the bottom of each sheet, students are told, a 14 inch pizza with one topping at Malto Caldo Pizzeria is just five bucks.
Number two, best placement of conscience ahead of dogma, Steve Schmidt, former chief strategist on Senator McCain's presidential campaign. I am personally supportive, Mr. Schmidt now says, of marriage equality for gay couples. I believe it will happen over time. He also said, as a California resident, he voted last November against Prop 8.
If you think his presence on the best person's list is unexpected, how about number one, best political honesty, Senator John McCain, suggesting President Obama and the Democrats not use the budget reconciliation process that would allow some spending projects to be passed by simple majority, but acknowledging his party set the precedent. Quote, "I fully recognize that Republicans have in the past engaged in using reconciliation to further the party's agenda. I wish it had not been done then. And I hope it will not be done now, but the ground work has been laid."
Good for you senator. You have our empathy if you take heat from your side on this. Here goes, Senator John McCain, today's best person in the world.
OLBERMANN: A major volcanic eruption in Alaska, damage not yet assessed. I mean besides Mt. Redoubt. Our third story, Governor Sarah Palin and the scorching blow up from members of her own party there. High drama in Juneau. A meeting scheduled for Thursday between the Alaska State Legislature and the governor, the topic federal stimulus money. The governor says she will reject one third of it. The legislature is hoping to negotiate.
But Palin was a no show. The governor wasn't even in the city. Her fellow Republicans detonated. The legislative leaders, including Senate president Gary Stevens, a Republican, and House Speaker Mike Schenalt (ph), also a Republican, held a news conference. Mr. Stevens stating, "we had a meeting scheduled with the governor and her legislative liaison told us that she wasn't there and that we could meet with the staff. We're here. We're available. Unfortunately, she is not."
During that very news conference, Mrs. Palin's office released its own statement. "Governor Sarah Palin was scheduled to participate telephonically in a meeting with legislative leadership today, when legislative leaders canceled the meeting to host their own press conference." In case you're wondering, yes, the dictionary lists telephonically as an actual word still in use.
Mr. Stevens then reacting tot he governor's statement about his previous statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY STEVENS, ALASKA STATE SENATE: To say that we canceled the meeting to have a press conference is absolutely not true. And someone should be brought to task on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Well, I'll try. As to Governor Palin -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: We told them ahead of time that I was very willing to participate telephonically, though. We were told then that they didn't care. That was fine with them. They were still going to cancel the meeting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Today's magic word is telephonically. Joining me now televisionally from Anchorage is political commentator and contributor to "Huffington Post" Shannyn Moore. Shannyn, welcome back to the program.
SHANNYN MOORE, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thanks for having me back.
OLBERMANN: Even if the governor is right about who canceled what, she is at war with the two most prominent Republicans in the state legislature. How does that help her or the state?
MOORE: It has never helped her. It has never helped the state. For the last two years, she was really at odds with the Republican majority, as it was. They actually called her a socialist, if you remember, because she was giving away free money. You know, it was over 700 million dollars she gave away in a one-time energy rebate last fall.
So they called her a socialist for it. The Democrats were upset because they wanted more long sighted programs for energy. We are in an energy crisis here. So she hasn't exactly been friendly with the Republicans here. Her only allies for the last two years were the Democrats, which she conveniently threw under the bus with the McCain campaign. So under the bus is getting really crowded right now.
OLBERMANN: Do you foresee, as that phrase was used, the Alaska Republicans taking the governor to task on this, as Senator Stevens basically begged someone to. Obviously, it has to be them, right?
MOORE: Well, that is who it would have to be. They haven't so far. We had the Branch Flower Report that came out. That was their own decision to go forward with that investigation. Her husband has been held in contempt, as have her aides, for not answering the subpoenas. Her attorney general has been - well, he resigned on the ninth of February because he had given advice, illegal advice, to her husband and to the aides.
So yesterday, it was really interesting. What she was actually doing was having her own press conference here in Anchorage to announce her new attorney general, a man named Wayne Anthony Ross, who drives a large red Hummer with the license plate War. That is what she was doing. It is really sad that she is pandering and grand-standing for her base in Iowa, and not taking care of Alaska. She is out of touch with our needs completely.
OLBERMANN: We have heard some backlash about stimulus rejection by the governors in South Carolina and Louisiana. Nothing like this. You mentioned an energy crisis in Alaska. What is the reaction statewide to the governor's plan to refuse 30 percent of federal money in a state that is obviously probably more dependent on it than the rest of them are?
MOORE: It is a great question. She gave away, like I said, over 700 million dollars in an energy stimulus package. That was her own little, you know, nod to everyone, please vote for me. That was kind of short-sighted. And now she is actually turning down money for weatherization programs, because she is saying there is some sort of strings attached.
There have always been strings attached to federal money. Alaska has always lived on it. That is what Republicans from Alaska do. They go to Washington and they bring back money. It is a no-brainer. No one has ever asked about those before. This is really just pandering.
As far as her turning down special needs education money, education money for any of the schools in Alaska, you can imagine, as far apart as some of our towns are, it is very expensive to educate the people in our state. Apparently, it works for her family to have dropouts and it is not a priority.
OLBERMANN: The meeting didn't take place because, to paraphrase Senator Stevens, the meeting with her aides, the governor's staffers have trouble communicating what the governor's intentions are. Is the Palin bloom off the rose in Alaska? Is she still, in Mr. McCain's famous phrase from last year, the most popular governor in the country?
MOORE: No, she's not. In fact, I got a call today from Ann Hayes of Hayes Research. And she had done a poll 14 days ago. In ten days time, Sarah Palin's base, her very positive ratings have dropped 5.5 percent. So her base is definitely wandering away from her right now. They are seeing her here in Alaska for what she is. Right now, the sky is falling literally in ashes. We have, you know, six million gallons of crude oil sitting at the base of an active volcano. And she is non-responsive.
OLBERMANN: Well, fortunately, Governor Jindal will take care of that for you. Don't worry too much. Shannyn Moore, political commentator, contributor to "Huffington Post," joining us tonight from Anchorage. Many thanks again.
MOORE: Have a good weekend, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Coincidentally, another veteran of last fall's Republican freak show is also in the news tonight, Joe the Plumber, to explain the Employee Free Choice Act. Good grief, he can't explain plumbing.
Breaking news tonight in worst persons, an angry big ticket advertiser bails out on Bill-O after Bill-O has a blogger stalked.
And when she joins you at the top of the hour, a special edition of "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" on the president's second troop increase in Afghanistan after just two months in office.
OLBERMANN: Joe the unlicensed plumber as the Republican spokes model for its campaign against the Employee Free Choice Act. You know, when Ted Nugent is too intellectual for you, you may have problems. That's next, but first time for Countdown's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.
The Bronze to House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia. Though he was supposedly over-ruled when he had the common sense to suggest that his party not release an alternate budget proposal with no numbers, no math, no digits of any kind, he still did put his foot into it on Fixed News. Rocket scientist Gretchen Carlson said "I found it interesting that it was only 19 pages, compared to the 142 pages of the Obama budget. Was there symbolism in that."
Congressman Cantor replied, "I think, Gretchen and Steve, you can take some symbolism in that." Yes, you can. History proves that no matter how much BS you think you have in hands, you can never, ever, ever write a paper for school, for college or even for national politics that actually makes it to the full 20 pages.
The runner up tonight, blogger Michelle Malkin, responding to a proposal by Senator Cardin of Maryland that the newspaper industry, which is bleeding to death, should be permitted to opt for tax exempt status, non-profit status, the way public TV and radio stations can, perhaps preserving an entire industry. Malkin thinks this could mean a bailout of newspapers, and therefore, the government controlling what is printed in newspapers. Gee Michelle, you spent the last decade telling us that the Democrats already control what is printed in the newspapers. Either you were full of it then or you're complaining about the threat of something that's already happened now.
But our winner, Bill-O the sad clown, who just lost an advertiser. You could have left it alone. You could have just said nothing when you got called out for addressing a rape victims support fund raiser, after at least twice blaming rape victims, one of whom was then murdered. No, you had to go send your stalker producer to hunt down the managing editor of ThinkProgress.org Amanda Terkel, to follow her for two hours while she was on vacation, as she checked into a hotel on vacation, to ambush her.
Tonight begins the comeuppance. ThinkProgress.org contacted the sponsors of O'Reilly's TV program asking not if they supported his right wing stances, his hypocrisy, his racism, his misogyny, his fact optional approach, but if they could stomach him, time after time, stalking people who had dared to criticize him in print or online. Tonight, UPS has said enough. Its e-mail to Think Progress, "thank you for sending an e-mail expressing concern about UPS advertising during the Bill O'Reilly show on Fox News. We do consider such comments when we consider ad placement decisions, which involve a variety of news, entertainment and sports programming. At this time, we have no plans to continue advertising during this show."
To paraphrase the famous phrase from Church, bill, here begineth the lesson. Bill, what can Brown do for you, O'Reilly, today's worst person in the world!
OLBERMANN: Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher tried without success to become a country star, failed to get an advance to write a book about himself, did not extend his very short career as a war correspondent. Getting back to his original incarnation, there is absolutely no evidence that he garnered even a single vote for then presidential candidate John McCain.
So now, in our number story on the Countdown tonight, the everyman who is everywhere and nowhere lands his next post as GOP role model. He has been enlisted to speak to the little guy about the evil Employee Free Choice Act. The anti-labor group Americans for Prosperity wants Mr. Wurzelbacher to speak at a series of rallies in Pennsylvania opposing the proposed act. Wurzelbacher can join the ranks of other Republicans who falsely assert that the Employee Free Choice Act would eliminate the right to a secret ballot in union organization. In fact, workers would get to choose the process, either secret ballot or a majority sign up, which is also known as a card check.
Meantime, in other Mr. Plumber as role model news, here he dons a Snuggie, after reportedly attending a meeting of conservatives in Washington, D.C. Why Wurzelbacher for this whole thing? Spokesperson Mary Ellen Burke (ph) saying, quote, the public loves Joe the Plumber. They see him as a role model. Yes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE WURZELBACHER, JOE THE PLUMBER: Hey, thank you, guys. God, all this love in the room and everything. I'm horny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Let's bring in "Washington Post" associated editor and columnist and MSNBC political analyst Eugene Robinson. Good evening, Gene.
EUGENE ROBINSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Good evening, Keith. I was momentarily stunned by the picture of Joe in the Snuggie. I'm sorry.
OLBERMANN: As I'm sure we all were nationwide. The latest face of Joe is not the Snuggie stuff, except that he is not a licensed plumber, of course. The union that represents plumbers says, quote, Joe the plumber does not speak for plumbers. This was a brilliant idea, wasn't it?
ROBINSON: Absolutely. Keep it up. It actually would be good for the nation if there were, you know, an intelligent thoughtful opposition party, that could challenge the administration's policies and present new ideas and, you know, take the nation forward. However, Joe the Plumber, we don't have such a party.
OLBERMANN: Well, the Wigs, but they're just not as popular. You don't find them on the ballot that much anymore. The anti-labor group insists that Mr. Wurzelbacher provides the, quote, grassroots working perspective, the he represents the American worker. Is this the essence of what it is to be a Republican right now? You see Obama and you say, let's get one of those. And you get Michael Steele. You see Hillary Clinton and you say, let's get one of those. And you get Sarah Palin.
You say, oh, the union people, working people are essential. Let's get one of those. And you get this buffoon Wurzelbacher. It's sort of definitional here.
ROBINSON: I'm tempted to think of how children learn. First, they imitate the sounds their parents are making, not knowing what they mean. And then they eventually put them together into words. Again, it would be nice to have a thinking party. Even in the list, though, that you just gave, Joe really stands out, because this guy is a Yahoo. He is not governor of Alaska. He's Joe the Plumber.
OLBERMANN: Well, yes, but you shouldn't make those things sound mutually exclusive. A Yahoo can become governor - I'll just drop it right there. Sticking to the topic, do you want to take this while we're actually looking at the Employee Free Choice Act for a moment. Our attention has been directed to it by Joe the Plumber. Can you explain this and how Republicans have managed to twist this thing in hopes of scaring people?
ROBINSON: As quickly as I can, if you want to organize a work place now, you get these authorization cards from the union. You give them to employees. They sign them. If you get even 30 percent, you can trigger a secret ballot election for the union. As a practical matter, organizers wait until they get 50 or 60 percent and then you have an election.
The unions have long complained that in that time period between when they turn in the authorization cards and when the election is held, employers have the ability to coerce and strong arm employees into voting against the union. What this act would say is that if you get a majority on these authorization cards, that is enough to trigger the NLRB, National Labor Relations Board, determination that that union represents those workers. Then you proceed with a unionized shop.
However, if 30 percent of the workers, 30 percent of the employees at the work place want a secret ballot, they can just sign a card saying that, and then there is a secret ballot. This does not eliminate secret ballots. It just means that employers will have to do a bit of the work that the union organizers have always done, and go around and get these cards and see if they can get enough people to sign them.
OLBERMANN: And the Snuggies fit in how?
ROBINSON: I was afraid you would ask that question, Keith. I think we have to just resort to parallel universes as an explanation. I have no idea why the Snuggie has become the garment.
OLBERMANN: Because they all now look like the high priests in "Beneath the Planet of the Apes," all the distorted, morphed human beings after the apocalypse. It just hit me. That's who they are.
ROBINSON: Leaving us with that image.
OLBERMANN: Gene Robinson from the "Washington Post," I said it, you didn't. Have a great weekend, Gene.
ROBINSON: You too, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That is Countdown for this the 2,148th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night, good luck and Sham Wow.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END