'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Video via MSNBC: Worst Persons
Guests: Lawrence O'Donnell, Markos Moulitsas, Rep. Anthony Weiner, Chris Hayes, Craig Crawford
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Breaking news at this hour: Saying the inclination to racism in the country still exists, former President Jimmy Carter has tonight told NBC News that it has again bubbled up to the surface and that much of the most extreme animosity towards President Obama stems from the belief - again quoting Jimmy Carter, "that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country," unquote.
OLBERMANN (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The other bill: The Senate Finance Committee stripping reform of most reforms, still gaining virtually or literally no Republican support.
Insurance whistleblower Wendell Potter sums it up in today's testimony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WENDELL POTTER, FORMER CIGNA EXECUTIVE: The bill it sends to the president might as well be called the "Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Resolution of disapproval. The mildest wrist slap ever for yelling at a president during his address to Congress like he was a referee and Joe Wilson was a drunken fan. And the Republicans oppose the resolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think it is clear to the American people that there are far more important issues facing this nation than what we're addressing right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Cooking the numbers. The 9/12 protests in Washington -
75,000 attended tops, maybe, say the district police. "Hundreds of thousands," reports FOX News. "A million seven," says "Lonesome Roads."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST: If you look at the pictures, university looked at it, did the body count, et cetera, et cetera, 1.7 million.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: How about eleventy billion?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: You're not alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And body count? And, why didn't Beck show up at his own dog and pony show? "The L.A. Times" with a super catch. What about the logo? Doesn't that logo look awfully like this logo? Glenn Beck's group uses socialist imagery.
"Worsts": Congresswoman Foxx - again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. VIRGINIA FOXX (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Thomas Sowell, an African-American, examines some of President Obama's claims about the health care reform legislation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But since none of Mr. Sowell's examination had anything to do with race, why did the congresswoman bring up his race?
And Bush on Palin: more revelations from the last president's last speechwriter. "What is she?" Mr. Bush asks, "The governor of Guam?" "This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for."
George W. Bush, you have unsuspected depth.
All that and more - now on Countdown.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: I also read three Shakespeares.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
The theory that at least those on the fringes of the kind of political road rage against the 44th president are there because of racism or latent racism or just racial fear may not move to the center of the nation's political discourse - in our fifth story tonight: This after remarks today by former President Jimmy Carter in an interview with Brian Williams for "NBC Nightly News."
The 39th president who watched his native Georgia grown from lynching and Jim Crow to comparative enlighten (ph), and in less than half of his lifetime, minced no words about what he sees behind the anger supposedly focused on the issue of health care.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY CARTER, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American. I live in the South, and I have seen the South come a long way and I have seen the rest of the country that shared the South's attitude towards minority groups at that time, particularly African-Americans. And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people - not just in the South but around the country - that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It's an abominable circumstance and grieves me and concerns me very deeply.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I'm joined now by our own Lawrence O'Donnell, contributor of the "Huffington Post" and, of course, of MSNBC.
An overwhelmingly proportion of the intensely-demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact he's a black man. Is President Carter correct?
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we have to wonder especially when we saw Joe Wilson, congressman from South Carolina. I'm not from the South. I'm from the south side of Boston, when where I grew up, that was a very racist precinct to be from. And we reveal that when school bussing came to our city in 1975.
When you hear someone who grew up in the Deep South, as President Carter did, who worked his way into politics in the Deep South as President Carter did, you have to take this very seriously.
You know, the question has been out there about Joe Wilson. You know, was it really just they need a breathalyzer to allow people onto the House floor, or was there something more serious going on? This is - and I suggested that the apology he really now needs to make is to the people of South Carolina, many of whom have worked very, very hard to erase the stain of racism from that state to - starting with slavery and through segregation.
He was alive - he was born into segregation, born into a segregated South Carolina. And so for him to do this, for him to raise this question as he has done, requires at minimum that he apologize to the people of South Carolina who tried to put this behind them.
OLBERMANN: Back to President Carter. It is one thing if I were to conclude this and I have suggested that this might be often true in the most virulent of cases, especially the more - the less rational, the surface argument seems to be, the more likely there is that there is another explanation and unfortunately, the natural one would - given our history - would be this one. It's one thing if you wrote about this or commented about this. What happens if it is a former president of the United States, any former president of the United States, but as you alluded to, particularly this one who gives voice to this?
O'DONNELL: Well, this - this is a real voice of authority. And I think when you look at something like the health care bill, which is - in any version, is going to be over 1,000 pages long. It has many particulars, including tax increases that are specified as tax increases. Other things that are called fee increases that you can argue are tax increases. I can go on and on with substantive arguments that the Republican side of this - of our politics could be making against these bills.
And instead they've been up there trying to slander Barack Obama and talk about - talk about things that aren't even in the bill because they're afraid of something other than the bill. And that's why when I - when you have someone like Jimmy Carter talking about this from his life experience, this has to be taken very seriously.
OLBERMANN: When it comes to the - to the town halls and the - just
· again, road rage may be in fact a pretty good term for it - when it comes to that and you hear people saying, "I want my America back," very many of these people would actually get something closer to this America back, particularly if health care reform passed, and they didn't have to deal with another 12 increases in their insurance premiums between now and the end of this president's term and whatever the number might be.
When it's something like that, are there other explanations for it or does the idea that there is a - that there is a racist element of the country, a fear, is that - is that the only explanation or are there other explanations for this generalized, ill-defined anger?
O'DONNELL: I don't have another one when I look at the preceding model for this, which was Hillary Clinton's crusade in the same legislative arena. Now, Hillary Clinton was despised by that side of the world as a crazy lefty. They attacked her on policy grounds.
They were screaming about the employer mandate. They did not say we want the country back. Or they weren't saying these same things, those 15 years ago on exactly the same subject area. They were actually coming at the bill. Now, in a pretty crude way but they were talking about the bill.
These people have not been talking about what's in the bill. I have never seen that before in opposition to legislation. You oppose legislation by talking about what's in it. They're not talking about that. So, what is that motivation?
OLBERMANN: Could Carter's words, could he carry enough weight to bring this issue into the mainstream of political discussion, and is that a good thing, or will it just polarize people more on this?
O'DONNELL: I think it's something that we have to look at. We have to hold it up and look at it. Maybe look at it for a period of time. Maybe a fortnight of thinking about it, and then maybe put it away again for a while.
But I've been bothered by some very quick dismissals, for example, at the notion that - oh, no, no, the Joe Wilson thing was not a racial incident in any way. There were no racial overtones to that as all.
And there are some columnists, like Maureen Dowd, who have come out and connected those dots and they get sort of criticized as being kind of loony, imaginary, you know, imaging things.
No, I think there's something very legitimate to consider and I think it's incumbent on Joe Wilson to come out and somehow prove to us - prove to us that this son of South Carolina, born into segregation, grew up in it, that - no, no, no, he's completely clean on this. I mean, let him come to the podium now. Let him explain to Brian Williams, explain to you, explain to us how we can really be sure that that had nothing to do with that moment and why he might believe that it has nothing to do with the big protest moment we saw - the big protests we've seen out there against President Obama.
OLBERMANN: Yes. He would have burst out with that against - same thing against President Hillary Clinton or President John McCain. That's a great point.
Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC and the "Huffington Post" - thanks for coming in tonight.
O'DONNELL: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: To expand on this further, let's go with Markos Moulitsas, the founder and publisher of Daily Kos, author, of course, of "Taking on the System."
Markos, thanks for your time tonight.
MARKOS MOULITSAS, DAILYKOS.COM: Pleasure. Any time.
OLBERMANN: As I suggested to Lawrence O'Donnell, it's one thing if he or I would say this, and it's one thing if your readers or diarists were to say this. What does it mean that it's President Carter is saying this?
MOULITSAS: Well, it does carry a certain level of authority, not just intellectual but moral authority. This guy is a guy who grew up in the South and knows the South better than probably most people, was a governor of Georgia.
So, he knows what he's talking about. This isn't something random partisan shot against Joe Wilson. I mean, I think he really feels this deeply, that this is something that troubles him and it's a problem that America needs to deal with.
OLBERMANN: I think, also, to be clear here, he did not specifically invoke what Congressman Wilson said or did or him in any of this. His comments to Brian were broadly about the over - as he said, "The overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity towards President Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man."
What happens next politically? Where does this go in the next 48 hours do you think?
MOULITSAS: You know, I don't know. But ultimately, there is a kernel of a truth and I think it has to be addressed. There's a reason that these tea baggers, these conservatives are blaming that Obama was born in Kenya and not American. He's not legitimate in their eyes, he's not a real American.
And poll after poll had shown that two-thirds of Republicans - two-thirds - do not believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States or are not sure. They think it's open to debate.
So, clearly this is not an issue of policy differences. They are really angry that there's a black man in charge of this country and they're lashing out in ways such as the "You lie!"
And that Joe Wilson has a history of this kind of stuff. He was one of seven state senators in South Carolina to vote against removing the Confederate flag from the state capitol. I mean, this is a guy that has a history already of so-called defending the "heritage of the South," whatever that might mean. And I think it's not hard to draw conclusions from that.
OLBERMANN: I want to take this opportunity, because this has not been around that much and it was on Brian Williams' piece on Jimmy Carter tonight on "Nightly News" and we have run it already here once. I want to play the clip from President Carter once again so we know the terrain we're talking about. Then I have another question for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER: I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity towards President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American. I live in the South, and I have seen the South come a long way, and I have seen the rest of the country that shared the South's attitude towards minority groups, at that time particularly African-Americans. And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people - not just in the South but around the country - that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It's an abominable circumstance and grieves me and concerns me very deeply.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Markos, big picture here. I think people foresaw the nation's past history of racism as a factor in the election last year, as something to be overcome, and I think a lot of people - even those who did not vote for the president - saw and felt a sense of triumph that this had occurred.
Did anybody foresee this as an issue of governance or an issue that would actually be even if it - with 10-foot poles exploited by the opposing party? In governance?
MOULITSAS: Yes. Clearly, we knew this was going to happen. Anybody who has any inkling of what the conservative movement is about and what it is capable of knew that they were going to latch on this sort of thing as a tool to try to rally their own base and try to drive Obama's favorabilities into the ground. I mean, you saw what they did to Bill Clinton, who was a white president, obviously, but they accused him of murdering people - all sorts of horrible, horrible things.
So, this is not beyond them. So, it was clear when Obama became president, and as you had the Republican Party taken over by the Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks and Bill O'Reillys, you knew this was sort of what was going to happen. It was almost inevitable. And I think what is important now is to see how we as a nation react to those baseless and hideous attacks.
OLBERMANN: As if we needed an underscoring, you mentioned Bill O'Reilly's name. At this hour, as we speak, the segment he is doing is about ACORN, as if Barack Obama were its founder, president, and made million dollars a year or a week off of it. It underscores it perfectly.
Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos - always a pleasure, my friend. Thanks for your time tonight.
MOULITSAS: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: And then there is Congressman Joe Wilson, resolution of disapproval. The House equivalent of saying "Naughty boy," passed this afternoon, 240 to 179. Seven Republicans voted yes, a dozen Democrats no.
The Democrats' main argument: Wilson needed to apologize to the House, not just the president, for violating House rules of decorum. The Republicans main repulsed that the Democrats wasted time that could have been spent on the urgent issues of the economy or health care.
The House spent less than an hour introducing, debating and voting on the Wilson wrist slap and then proceeded to bring up H.R. 317 which would, quote, "recognize the region from Manhattan, Kansas, to St. Joseph, to Columbia, Missouri, including the Metropolitan Kansas City Area, and St. Joseph, Missouri, as the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor."
Now that the great health corridor question has finally gotten its due, are we indeed moving towards as one whistleblower put it in testimony to Congress today, the "Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act"? Congressman Anthony Weiner - next.
OLBERMANN: The Senate Finance Committee health care reform bill is reportedly so bad it would enable insurers to legally charge more to cover women. This went being a battered spouse or being pregnant is already in many states considered a pre-existing condition, that can cause a woman's insurance to be canceled or her application for insurance denied. The latest state-of-play in health care reform today with Congressman Anthony Weiner - next here on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Rescission - what just might be the most pernicious practice in an industry teaming with them. Insurance companies actively seeking out so-called "pre-existing conditions" to cancel your health insurance policy after you get sick even though you have been paying your premiums on time and in full for years. They also seek them to reject new insurance applicants.
Our fourth story on the Countdown: The latest Senate Finance Committee compromise bill would reportedly allow insurance companies to charge most employers more to insure women employees, this while the current system that Republicans are defending includes rescission, which itself allows for pre-existing conditions to include being beaten by your spouse or being pregnant. Every woman in this country supporting Republicans and the status quo is directly or indirectly supporting also canceling or precluding insurance for battered women or pregnant women.
Another day on Capitol Hill, another day without a look at exactly what is in or what is left in that Senate Finance bill. Chairman Baucus having said Monday the group of six senators were on track to release the bill this week, possibly tomorrow. The full committee markup would be next week.
Even before its release, the top Republican in the Senate dismissing it. Minority Leader McConnell saying of the bill, quote, "I don't think that's a package that very many of the Republicans will support."
Two of the Republicans who helped to write the bill joining the minority leader in complaining about it: Senators Enzi of Wyoming and Grassley of Iowa, cataloging their complaints in documents sent to Chairman Baucus - because they didn't see enough of him while they were drafting the legislation?
Majority Leader Reid concluding, quote, "If we can't get the 60 votes we need, then we will have no alternative but to use the so-called budget reconciliation process to pass health care reform without Republicans."
The health care reform in Washington, Wendell Potter, health care communications director for CIGNA, as well as frequent guest on this newshour, justifying to lawmakers yesterday, he told reporters that the finance committee bill was an absolute gift to health care insurance companies. Today, he suggested that any legislation which does not include a public option should be given a new name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POTTER: If Congress goes along with the so-called "solutions" that the insurance industry says it is bringing to the table and acquiesces to the demands it is making of lawmakers, and if it fails to create a public insurance option to compete with private insurers, the bill it sends to the president might as well be called the "Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In 2006, Democrats in the Senate having tried to end the insurance industry practice, now legal in eight states and the District of Columbia, of discriminating against people who are being beaten by their spouses, an amendment introduced by Senator Patty Murray of Washington was defeated then in the health committee in a tie vote, 10-10. All of the no votes were Republicans. Among them Senator Enzi, the same Mike Enzi now drafting and complaining about the bill about to come out of the finance committee.
Let's turn now to Congressman Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, member of the energy and commerce committee.
Great thanks again for your time tonight, Congressman.
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: My pleasure. Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: When insurance companies are not rescinding one woman's coverage because she once had acne, they're rescinding another woman's coverage because she's a victim of domestic violence, a culture of insurance-wise blaming the victim. Does that pretty much sum up the American health insurance industry at the moment?
WEINER: Well, you know, it's been frequently said and I said on your show, I don't think people in the insurance companies are evil, but it's clear what they want to do is take in as much money as they can and pay as little as possible out in the form of benefits. That's the way they function. That's the way they make profits.
And if you remember what the president said, there are three things we need to accomplish in health care. One, cover about 40 million additional Americans. That's good for health insurance companies. Two other things are going to be tough for them, and that is making sure health insurance companies don't do things like deny coverage. And third is hold down costs, meaning, they have to take less profits or have lower overhead.
What seems to be coming out of the Senate bill is we're going to say, "OK, everyone has to go out and get coverage," which is good for health insurance companies, but basically everything the insurance industry wants, they're going to be able to keep doing in the rest of the bill, and that's the problem. This is why you need some element of competition so they're held honest.
But right now, what's coming out of the Senate bill is so watered down. It hardly can be called reform at this point.
OLBERMANN: So, to the point of Mr. Potter's terminology here, the "Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act." If it's like that, wouldn't have you to vote against it?
WEINER: Well, it sure has to have more than the Senate's putting in. You know, I keep hearing people say, "Well, the public option's just one element of the bill." But it's an extraordinarily important one and your viewers need to understand why.
If we leave insurance companies to their own devices, they have shown no instinct at all for saving money for the taxpayers or for their customers. That's not what they do. They save money if they can get any bet cutting services and then keeping money for their shareholders or for bonuses for their executives.
So, unless there's some - some element of these bills that says we're going to contain that, then frankly, we're going to be right back to the drawing board a couple of years later with the exploding costs and the same thing. Remember, we didn't have the term pre-existing condition until we outsourced so much of the job of health care to private insurance companies.
OLBERMANN: One thread through many of these stories of rescission, of rejection, of applications for insurance would seem to be this issue of gender - that, obviously, the overwhelming majority of battered spouses are women, pregnant women who try to buy insurance on the individual market get turned down because pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition. Have the reformers made a strong enough case to women - never mind political orientation - just the 51 percent of the people in this country who are women, about where reform really means to them?
WEINER: You know, we have this kind of two-course argument going on in Washington where people say, "Hey, I like my insurance company. Why do you want to change it?" Yes, they like it if they're in certain categories. One category of people that likes it or people that never have to get their health insurance, that they're healthy, they never have to dial the 800 number or wrestle with any of the forms.
Another group that's far less happy are women, because they have different health care costs and they have health care costs that are much more likely to be targeted by health insurance companies for denial. Many of the states of the country now have laws protecting women when they come in when they're having children. They only have those laws because there were so many abuses among insurance companies trying to deny coverage to pregnant women.
This is one of the reasons why we need reform in this country. But more than just reform, we need competition for insurance companies. You can have all of the reform legislation that you want - and what seems to be happening in the Senate is they are even watering down that language.
So, look, I'm glad that cooling softer of a democracy in the Senate is finally moving something along so we can get back to the path of doing what the president articulated, which is protect consumers from these abuses.
OLBERMANN: So, ultimately, Congressman, are we back on the path to a good bill or not?
WEINER: Well, not if we go - look, the Senate bill might be a starting point for something. But right now, they have taken the basic elements of health care that the president said he wants, that the American people need - containing costs through competition and guaranteeing that we don't have abuses of people who have private insurance. And they've watered them down to the point where they're virtually meaningless.
So, if you just say this is only going to be about insuring more people, giving more customers to the insurance companies, without any of those protections, we're basically worse off than when we started.
OLBERMANN: Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York - as always, great thanks for your time.
WEINER: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The Glenn Beck event in Washington on Saturday - why is he insisting nearly 2 million people showed up when the only estimate from an official is 70,000? And by the way, why didn't he show up?
And as if to prove President Carter correct, a North Carolina congresswoman brings up the color of one of the president's health care critics because that means it's one African-American criticizing another African-American, so the critic must be right?
"Worst Persons" is ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: "Bests" in a moment. First, if you missed the breaking news at the top of this news hour, former President Carter has lent the authority to his stature to the proposition that there is much more and much worse to what he called "an intensely demonstrated animosity" towards President Obama. In an inclusive interview with "NBC Nightly News," Mr. Carter said today that that anger, quote, "is based on the fact that he is a black man, the racism inclination still exists and I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of the belief of many white people that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country."
President Carter's full comments coming up again at the top of the hour on "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW."
When the crowd estimates run from 900 people to 2 million, somebody's lying, since the only estimate from an official is 75,000 tops. I think we know who is lying.
And more shocking still, his assessment of her. You'll agree with him.
These stories ahead.
But, first, time for Countdown's "Top Three Best Persons in the World."
Dateline: Washington. Number three: Best self-sinking. Troubled Virginia Republican candidate Bob McDonnell asked live on radio if he is going to raise taxes to help the state transportation budget, Mr. McDonnell said no, quote, "I've outlined 12 F-ing funding mechanisms that are creative, that are entrepreneurial." He didn't say F'ing. But he has locked in the vote of the F-ing entrepreneurs at least.
Dateline, Charlestown, West Virginia, best new trick, an unidentified reader of the Martinsburg Newspaper. "The Journal News" offering this letter to the editor: "I see where the liberal left extremists, such as Howard Dean, Robert Gibbs, David Axelrod, Cesar Chavez, Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Harry Reid, George Soros and Keith Olbermann and many others are always attacking Fox News. What are they afraid of?"
Well, since Fox News was founded in 1996, and Cesar Chavez died in '93, I have to say, in this context, I'm afraid of ghosts. Honestly, sir or madam, if the great union leader Mr. Chavez is really attacking Fox News now, you had better listen because he's speaking from the great beyond, and he may actually be telling you what God told him to say.
And dateline Los Angeles, number one, best catch, Christopher Knight of the "LA Times." After Lonesome roads paranoid rant about socialist symbols in everyday plain sight, Mr. Knight found one, the logo for Beck's 9/12 rally. Three waves and clenched red fists super-imposed over the Capitol. To Mr. Knight this looked vaguely like the raised and clenched red fists of the Communist logo, as shown in this Progressive Party Logo.
Communists groups in various nations have used that fist since about 1940. But its origins appear to be in the Industrial Workers of the World, the IWW, the Wobblies, the bomb-throwing socialists, dating to 1917. Wait, 1917? The year of the Russian revolution? 1917, the year the White Sox won the World Series. And we know who's a White Sox fan, don't we, comrades? Meaning Glenn Beck is just another front for Barack White Sox Obama.
OLBERMANN: When you consider that 50,000 people marched the same day in one Labor Day parade in New York City just five days after Labor Day, and that 40,000 people attended a firefighters' memorial at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles the same day, then even the high end estimate from the public affairs officer for the District of Columbia Fire Department, 75,000 people at a 9/12 march in Washington, is not a particularly impressive number, when interested citizens were supposedly gathering from all across the United States, population of 13 million.
Which is why, in our third story on the Countdown, a bevy of hacks continues to inflate its lies about the scores of ordinary Americans who were there. The 9/12 protest, AKA political road rage, drew 60,000 to 75,000 people by the only reliable measure, independent measure cited thus far, an unofficial estimate from a public affairs officer for the DC Fire Department.
But according to Glenn Beck today, that number was actually 24 times greater.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: We had the university - I think it's university of - I don't remember which university it is. They looked at the pictures. And they can do body space and recalculate. One point seven million that crowd was estimated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Washington?
BECK: In Washington, D.C.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow. We were saying tens of thousands.
BECK: Of course, everybody was saying tens of thousands because that's the official report. If you look at the pictures, university looked at it, did the body count, et cetera, et cetera, 1.7 million.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One point seven million is a troubling number if you're in politics, because you think if that many people showed up - but since when - we have a time lapse photo, as people stream from -
BECK: That looks like 30,000 or 70,000? Please. I have lived in Washington, D.C.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me, too. That's north of half a million.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The university of I don't remember. Despite the momentary attempt to rein in Mr. Beck, cluster Fox and Friends consistently inflated the numbers to eventually hundreds of thousands. Of course, the lies began at the protest itself. An organizer claimed ABC News had reported that one to 1.5 million people were there. That organizers, Matt Kibbe (ph) of Freedom Works, later recanted. ABC News correctly denied ever having reported such a number. It is a distortion then promulgated by Michelle Malkin, who wrote on her website that ABC put the crowd at two million people. Why don't you go for two trillion?
A different kind of lie that day from Senator Jim Demint of South Carolina. saying to the crowd, quote, the "New York Times" just reported that 500 people showed up here.
But getting back to the primary lie, already in progress. Boss Limbaugh said the crowd was two million strong, citing a British tabloid that had reported no such thing. And Lou Dobbs on his radio show said the number, quote, reached well over a million.
Let's bring in the Washington editor of "The Nation," Chris Hayes.
Chris, good evening.
CHRIS HAYES, "THE NATION": Good evening, comrade.
OLBERMANN: Thank you. We're all White Sox fans now. I knew there was an actual hypnosis in progress. The phony numbers on the 9/12 protests, there were even postings by some blogs of a 10-year-old photo from a different rally to make the crowd seem bigger than it was. Is this all part of the war room like propaganda campaign that follows something like this, especially if it does not meet expectations?
HAYES: Well, look, this is an age-old dynamic, right, in which there is a big protest or rally; the organizers claim one figure and then the police and the park service, whoever, claims another. And usually - usually the protests are happening on the left, and there's some skepticism about the official numbers.
But usually there's some sort of spectrum, right. The protesters say X - or they say 2X, and the police say X. So it's like two times or, you know, one time the amount.
Here you have - you have this crazy inflated number that's so obviously, manifestly, laughably false. And yet I think it's a fascinating case study in how the right is able to just wrench things from the fantasy world and kind of make them fact by repetition. And we'll see. Who knows, maybe a month from now, you know, mainstream news sources or politicians will be citing the two million people. It may not even take that long.
OLBERMANN: Twenty four times greater the official estimate was the one the gentleman quoted today from the university of I don't remember. The university of I don't remember, does that not sort of say it all?
HAYES: Yes, it does say it all. I mean - I mean, look, the fact of the matter is there's not really any need for him to even pretend to cite something, right? Glenn Beck could have just said, you know, looked to me like two million and that would have served the propagandist purpose just as well pretending to site a university he couldn't remember the name of.
So there's a certain kind of a self-contained reality to this whole thing. Watching the number pin-ball around the right wing blogs, as you noted in the lead in, shows that, you know, in some ways he was trying to gill the lily by even in attaching an air of credibility to it.
OLBERMANN: Also, is part of this - if they put out a no great expectations to begin with and 75,000 people showed up, that might have been actually pretty impressive. That's a pretty big crowd. But instead there's this bunk of about two million and the university of I don't remember. Would actually impressing people with a low ball here have been better for those who are making this argument? Or do these people actually want or need to make it into a dispute with the mainstream media? If they had gotten 750,000 people, in other words, would they have still claimed two million just to have the dispute?
HAYES: You know, that's interesting. I actually don't think it's about the dispute. I think you're right that this is actually a really impressive bit of organizing. Yes, you have a 24-hour cable news network broadcasting it all the time. And 75,000 people is not that many.
But Democrats and progressives I think sort of pooh-pooh it at their peril. It was a sort of impressive group of organizing. What it does show is a depth of feeling. There's, what, 60 million people in this country who voted against Barack Obama, right? A lot of them really, really don't like this president, don't like the direction the country is going, don't like the Democratic party, don't like anything that smacks of progressivism, socialism, whatever. And they're really worked up and they're organized and they're mobilized.
So there's a definite degree that the march showed the intensity. What it doesn't show is the breadth of that sentiment. And what inflating the number - what that's all about is confusing one from the other. If they can do that, they win a huge political victory. I was at a dinner last night with a Democratic Congressman, and you can tell he already thinks this is a much bigger portion of public opinion than it actually is numerically.
So I think inflating the numbers is a way of converting that intensity among a relatively small group of people into something that is a majority or widely shared view. I just don't think that's the case.
OLBERMANN: Yes, but a Sponge Bob Square Pants rally hyped by another cable network would have drawn half a million to the Capitol easily. Do we have any idea why Beck didn't show up to his own event?
HAYES: Oh, I don't know. The restaurants are better in New York? I have no idea.
OLBERMANN: He's trying to remember the name of the university. That's the correct answer. He spent all weekend trying to remember the name of the university.
HAYES: It's a pain to schlep the body space counting equipment down to Washington.
OLBERMANN: Wass-matta-U. Chris Hayes of "The Nation." Great thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Got to have sweatshirts made. George W. Bush though Barack Obama unqualified, thought John McCain's campaign a five spiral crash. But he really dished on Sarah Palin.
Apropos of President Carter's remarks, even as one right wing commentator insisted again race has nothing to do with it, one right wing Congresswoman injects race into criticism of the president. Case proved.
OLBERMANN: Former President Bush speaks on the five spiral crash that was the McCain campaign, of the lack of qualifications of then Senators Clinton and Obama. And even he felt that Governor Palin, quote, wasn't even remotely prepared for the campaign and what followed thereafter.
That's next, but first time for Countdown's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Dick Morris with today's top lie on Fixed News, telling Hannity, quote, "nobody on the right wing has criticized Obama over race. There isn't a vestige of that."
Of course not. Limbaugh repeatedly played a song called "Barack the Magic Negro" and called him a half-rican American. Congressman Westmoreland of Georgia referred to Mr. and Mrs. Obama as, quote, uppity. The chair of a California Republican women's group issued Obama food stamps showing him with watermelon. And Congressman Jeff Davis of Kentucky, Jeff Davis, said the president of him - he said that the boy's finger - excuse me. I'll read it again. "That boy's finger does not need to be on the button."
No, there's no racism from the right. Not there. Not in this country.
The runner-up, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. She has again let the cat out of the bag. "Will illegal aliens have access to taxpayer-subsidized health care?" Well, the answer is yes, they will. Someone could walk into a Health and Human Services office and say, I'd like to have free health care for me and my family. And the Health and Human Services would not have any ability to ask, are you a legal citizen of the United States? They would have no ability to ask, could you show me your documentation to prove that you're a United States citizen?"
There it is again. Congresswoman Bachmann revealing that which the Republicans do not wish their supporters to know. To ensure that nobody here illegally might get care, the Republicans will require that everybody seeking care prove their citizenship, even in the emergency room, even if they're still dripping blood on the floor. The Republicans want mandatory national I.D.
But our winner, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of North Carolina. You can tell when she's about to say something that will shame her district and her state; her lips are moving. This is the representative who previously announced, in the presence of the man's mother, that Matthew Shepard was murdered not because he was gay, but as part of a robbery. And that the Shepard hate crime bill was thus predicated on, quote, a hoax.
This is the representative who previously announced that health care reform will, quote, put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.
Now she continues her outer space argument against health care reform by saying the following: "in a recent article, conservative commentator Thomas Sowell, an African-American, examined some of President Obama's claims about the health care reform legislation moving through the Congress. I wanted to quote some excerpts from his column that I found insightful."
The article and the points Congresswoman Foxx raised had nothing to do with race. So she cited the fact that Mr. Sowell is African-American for what reason? Because the president is African-American? Because if one of them disagrees with him, that carries more weight somehow? Because they are all supposed to think alike?
There is no reason to raise Mr. Sowell's race, except to introduce race into the health care debate. So when somebody suggest that many of Obama's critics are motivated, in whole or in part, by latent racism, which they're trying to pave over with any excuse they can think of, this is what we're talking about. Congresswoman Foxx having to tell you that one of the president's critics is also one of them.
Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, fifth district North Carolina, latent racist, today's worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: He assumed Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. He didn't think much of Barack Obama or his running mate, Joe Biden, for that matter. So far nothing special from the 2008 political crystal ball of one George W. Bush. But in our number one story, he reportedly called the McCain campaign a five-spiral crash, and also believed that Sarah Palin was put in a position she was not even remotely prepared for.
Perhaps we misunderestimated him. In the latest Bush administration tell all, "Speech-Less, Tales of a White House Survivor," former speech writer Matt Lattimer describes the Bush White House as less like the "West Wing" and more like "the Office." Characterizes Mr. Bush as mocking towards other politicians. To Hillary Clinton, wait until her fat keister is sitting at this desk, except he didn't say keister.
To Joe Biden, if bull was currency, Biden would be a billionaire.
As for the man who would succeed, Lattimer described as being ticked off by one of Barack Obama's speeches. "This is a dangerous world and this cat isn't remotely qualified to handle it. This guy has no clue, I promise you. You think I wasn't qualified, he said to no one in particular. I was qualified."
As for the Republican presidential nominee last year, Lattimer says Mr. Bush felt considerable unease when it cams to Senator McCain, preferring Mitt Romney. And then there was the GOP vice presidential pick. To his inner circle, Mr. Bush referred to then-Governor Palin as interesting. "I'm trying to remember if I met her before. I'm sure I must have. His eyes twinkled and then he asked, what is she, the governor of Guam? This woman has being put in a position she's not even remotely prepared for. She hasn't spent one day on the national level. Neither has her family. Let's wait and see how she looks five days out."
And if you think that was a prescient political observation, Lattimer also recounts Mr. Bush going over his speech for the CPAC convention and remarking, "I know it sounds arrogant to say, but I redefined the Republican party."
You have me there, sir. Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst, columnist for CQPolitics.com, Craig Crawford. Good evening, Craig.
CRAIG CRAWFORD, CQPOLITICS.COM: He redefined the Republican party into the minority party.
OLBERMANN: As a matter of fact, he did. There's another one. There's a second reference here. He wanted the reference to the conservative movement taken out of his CPAC speech because - this is quoting again Lattimer's book - "let me tell you something, I whooped Gary Bauer's ass in 2000. So take out all of this movement stuff. There is no movement."
Do the conservatives know that George Bush claimed he killed off the conservatives?
CRAWFORD: First of all, boasting about beating Gary Bauer is not very much.
CRAWFORD: That poor guy in the New Hampshire primary fell down trying to flip a pancake. But George Bush, this is the core, I think, of why this author wrote this book, the question you asked about conservatives, because a lot - the way a lot of folks on the left have a hard time seeing this, but many conservatives do think he abandoned their movement, immigration, government spending, several areas - the expansion of Medicare. And they do see him as betraying their ideals.
So this is one reason. I think it's pretty clear in this author's book that it's one reason that he wrote the book.
OLBERMANN: Does it - putting this stuff together, does it - when you have to vote on whether this was a president who was - I don't know - lazy or not plugged in or not interested or cynical and exploitive, does this tend to support the cynical and exploitive end or the lazy and not plugged in end?
CRAWFORD: I think it really shows the kind of behind-the-scenes frat boy manner in which he handled himself in meetings. I heard this during his administration many times from people who said he was actually in a meeting - there would be someone who he felt was kind of nerdy, a policy wonk. And he would make fun of them and come up with nicknames for them that were kind of belittling. So, as a result, I think he just said - there's some old clips of him from his old drinking days, actually, at a wedding party in particular I recall, where I think we saw a little of that persona that he had at times in private with his own staff in the White House.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Might have listened a little bit more to what the wonks were telling him, as opposed to coming up with clever nicknames for them. But Bush on Palin. Does she not now have to do something about him on Facebook, call him evil or something?
CRAWFORD: She can start by de-friending him, I guess. That's one of the powerful tools on Facebook. But you haven't gotten on Facebook yet, have you?
CRAWFORD: We still need to get you on Twitter as well.
CRAWFORD: I think Palin has an opportunity here, in a way, because that right wing movement out there that do feel betrayed by the Bush years are looking for a leader, and someone who would probably put some distance between herself and George Bush. She's always been - heaped praise on him. But now he's opened the door. So maybe she might want to create a little daylight there and please the right wingers.
OLBERMANN: On the McCain campaign, a five-spiral crash. I think what's fascinating with this is so much of what else seems now in retrospect to be fairly solid political judgment - Mr. Bush seems to have sort of subtracted his impact from whatever happened. Wasn't McCain's campaign largely a crash because the Bush economy crashed?
CRAWFORD: Yes, and there's a reason, I think, the McCain folks did not want him to campaign for them, nor any other Republicans. I wonder how he wrestles with that? I think we have here another instance of character trait, which was denial. And sometimes the truth is so awful, you have got to be in denial or you go insane.
OLBERMANN: Well, OK. We'll just leave that right there. I'm not going to make a choice of those two. Craig Crawford of CQPolitics.com and also MSNBC. Always a pleasure. Thank you, Craig.
CRAWFORD: Good to be here.
OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this 2,329th day since that aforementioned previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann. As William Dozer used to say during sign-off, tune in tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel.
Now from Father Coughlin to Joe McCarthy to Joseph Farrah, there's always been one nut on the far right ready to pounce on a Democratic president, usually using a hapless piece of trivia like Congressman Joe Wilson as a starting point. To explain that, and with more of President Carter's remarks about racism and criticism of President Obama, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END