Friday, December 31, 2010

No show. New Year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, December 30th
video podcast

Guest Host: Chris Hayes



KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will make the Countdown favorites of 2010?

It was the year of health reform.





OLBERMANN: And the year of the Bush tax cut extension.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's tempting not to negotiate with hostage-takers unless the hostage gets harmed.


OLBERMANN: And in between all that, there were tickle parties.


ERIC MASSA (D), FMR. NY CONGRESSMAN: Now they're saying I groped a male staffer. Yeah, I you did.


OLBERMANN: Chilean miners were restored to the surface of the earth.

And American honor was restored by this man.

2010 was the year of the WikiLeaks and the year of the witchy leaks.



dabbled into witchcraft, I never joined a coven.


OLBERMANN: In 2010, one congressman told BP he felt sorry.


REP. JOE BARTON (R), TEXAS: I apologize.


OLBERMANN: While at America's airports, the TSA was feeling other things.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you touch my junk, I'm going to have you arrested.


OLBERMANN: How do we feel about 2010, a year in which the generosity of you, our viewers, helped impact real people's lives? Among the things of which we know, Countdown favorites never back down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will not apologize for my tone tonight.


OLBERMANN: There is no religious litmus test for any Countdown favorites.


OBAMA: John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith.


OLBERMANN: And appearing on the program - even if you get my name wrong - can sway the judges.


OLBERMANN: You are a big sport for joining us here.

SHARRON ANGLE (R), FMR. NEVADA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, Neil, it's great to be on your show.


OLBERMANN: Tonight, prepare to get animated. Quit plucking that chicken. Hide your musical instruments and set your hashtags to stun.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you used a keyboard before?


OLBERMANN: Countdown favorites of 2010 starts now.



CHRIS HAYES, GUEST HOST: Good evening from New York.

Tonight, a Countdown special event - the most important events of the final year of the first decade of the new millennium - or as the folks in marketing won't let us call it, stuff we liked.

There was, of course, no lack of events to choose from - events that inspired us, events that moved us, events that appalled us, events that moved us forward and events that moved us backward. And though they may have felt anti-climactic at the time, given how much energy was spent on them beforehand, this year saw not one but two events that historians will look back on as defining moments for our country.

President Barack Obama ended combat operations in a war that changed us perhaps as much as it did Iraq.

Begun with a lie by a president bound and determined to go to war regardless of the truth, 4,430 Americans died in Iraq, 179 Brits, 139 people from other countries. No one knows how many Iraqis, maybe 100,000, maybe more. Two million or so displaced from their homes.

Iraq no longer a buffer against Iran, but an ally - America damaged beyond calculation overseas and at home. President Obama drawing it toward a close hopefully. U.S. troops leaving Iraq, leaving behind 50,000 in a support capacity. U.S. Armed Forces no longer mounting its own combat operations in Iraq. Combat fatalities still occurring monthly. Now, however, down to single digits. The fatality rate, about one-tenth of what it is in the war Mr. Obama chose to ramp up, based on the premise that securing Hamid Karzai as the president of Afghanistan will somehow make us safer.

But if ending one president's mistake will put 2010 in the history books, so will a visit that no other president managed to achieve in 100 years of trying. President Obama, after one of the most bruising, protracted national political debates in recent memory, secured in writing, in law, for the American people, the right to health insurance. Tens of millions estimated to join the ranks of the covered. The deficit projected to be reduced as a result. The right to health care, however, is still an elusive one.

Also still elusive, sanity and common sense in governing Wall Street. Mr. Obama passing financial regulatory reform, giving consumers an agency for protecting them, failing to restore the depression era firewalls that once protected the nation from the short term, high-risk profit taking that broke our economy.

The administration got beat up from both sides for being too cooperative with or tough on BP, for the explosion of its oil rig that killed 11 men, slimed the Gulf of Mexico and shut down entire industries there for months.

Natural disasters struck in Haiti with an earthquake and at home in Tennessee, which clamored for attention during flooding there.

We lost some of our favorite people this year. Young men whose careers never transcended their beginnings and legends who redefined typical Hollywood careers by lampooning holiday and themselves in the very same movie.

And here in this news hour, some of our favorite things managed to mix a little bit of Hollywood and a little lampooning with our bread and butter: politics. The absurdly false claim that President Obama is secret Muslim seeded at birth with Islam, cried out for lampooning. We did our best to oblige.


OLBERMANN (voice-over): The Muslim seeded toddler engineered the divorce of his own parents to prevent people from learning that his father was Muslim. In his book, Obama claims that by then his father was no longer Muslim, instead portraying him as something much more popular with Americans, an atheist.

Obama still claims not to know whether his grandfather was Sunni or Shiite. But he sure looks Sunni.

To keep up appearances Obama cleverly violated his Islamic faith whenever he could, fooling everyone by never going to Mecca.

The plan was working perfectly. But there were clues for those willing to do the incredibly hard work of seeing them. As a radical Muslim youth, he ran an Islamic journal whose Arabic name translates as "Harvard Law Review."

Islam permits men to take a number of wives - and that's exactly what Barack Obama did. The number he picked was one. And a woman with an Arabic name: M'Shell ro Bin Son, who insists on wearing a burqa.

His favorite team: the Chicago Bulls, who just happen to play in the same division as the Milwaukee Bucks, whose arena just happened to be known as "The Mecca." Coincidence?

Then what about his legislative agenda? He openly practices Chicago-style politics - just like the Taliban does - extending benefits for the unemployed, including Muslims; expanding health care for all, including every single Muslim in the country - "unless already covered by employer health care plan."

To this day, President Obama continues to refuse to bomb not just one but many Muslim countries. He even refuses to close his secret tropical paradise safe haven for Muslims, just 90 miles from America's shores.

Obama nearly let the cat out of the bag on several occasions, openly attacking a long-time Christian leader, thanking his co-conspirators for keeping his secret secret.

OBAMA: John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith.

OLBERMANN: Outlining his dream of an Islamic America.

OBAMA: You know, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.

OLBERMANN: And bragging about how much he's done already.

OBAMA: We are no longer a Christian nation. There is a mosque in every state in our Union.

OLBERMANN: If few seem to care that Obama is America's first secret Muslim president, it might be due to the popularity of America's first openly Muslim president who won America's heart by turning the White House into a virtual mosque.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: This is the fifth year in a row that it's been my honor to host an Iftar in the state dining room.

OLBERMANN: Revealing how he came to embrace Allah.

BUSH: The revelation of God's word to the Prophet Mohammed in the form of the Quran.

OLBERMANN: Using the English word for "Allah," God, he talked about the Bush family holidays.

BUSH: Ramadan is a time of heartfelt prayer and togetherness.

OLBERMANN: Explained how Islam helps America through tough times.

BUSH: It's a national and Islamic obligation to assist one's neighbors when they are in need.

OLBERMANN: And outlined his master plan to make America more Islamic.

BUSH: And I've encouraged American families to host exchange students from the Muslim world. I've asked young Americans to study the language and customs of the broader Middle East.

OLBERMANN: After getting rid of all the White House Bibles, he proudly announced their replacement.

BUSH: For the first time in our nation's history, we've added a Koran the White House library.

OLBERMANN: So, the big mystery is not President Obama's secret Islamic faith - but why he won't simply admit to being the second Muslim commander-in-chief of the United States of Mecca.

OBAMA: Assalamu Alaikum.

BUSH: Islam is peace.


HAYES: Of course, the year's biggest political story was the midterm elections. Not just the year's biggest political story, but as incoming House Speaker John Boehner said, an historic election. Much more than a Muslim, atheist Kenyan communist becoming president.

The historic Republican sweep of the House and historic Republican non-sweep of the Senate was preceded by a great deal of Tea Party energy, much of it devoted to the cost of fake Tea Partiers. Scott Brown winning in Massachusetts almost a year ago now. Glenn Beck restoring America's honor, one weekend before returning to the air waves to complain about America's lack of honor - inspiring fellow comedians to hold a meeting of their own, intimidating the Obama administration to give in, even when it cost innocent bystanders, like Shirley Sherrod, their job.

Tea Party politicians' commitment to their private reality led them to swear off interviews with actual reality-based news outlets. So, one of our favorite things this year was the interview with Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle, that was anything but reality-based.


OLBERMANN: Sharron Angle, Republican Senate candidate from Nevada, you are a big sport for joining us here.

ANGLE: Well, first of all, Neil, it's great to be on your show to talk about this campaign.

OLBERMANN: Let's start with those remarks that you made to Carl Cameron from FOX. I was thinking he may have missed what you meant, that interviews are for letting voters see how you handle yourself on the fly, under pressure. I mean, that's the whole point of an interview, right, for the voters?

ANGLE: The whole point of an interview is to use it, like they say, earned media, to earn something with it. And I'm not going to earn anything from people who are there to badger me and batter it - you know, use my words to batter me with.

OLBERMANN: And that would explain why you've been doing interviews with FOX rather than interviews in front of the audiences that real journalists get, right?

ANGLE: Well, in that audience, will they let me say, I need $25 from a million people. Go to, send money? Will they let me say that?

OLBERMANN: No, Ma'am, they would not. But we will. Would you like to say it again as if you're on FOX?

ANGLE: I need a million people with $25 and they can send that to

OLBERMANN: Terrific. In equal time, can you say for people who want to donate to Harry Reid?


OLBERMANN: OK. Well, tell us, how did you - how did you get into the race? Did God just call you to run or did he also prepare you? Maybe the word isn't "prepare" - equip you?

ANGLE: And, you know, when God calls you, he also equips you and he doesn't just say, well, today, you're going to run against Harry Reid. There is a preparation. Everyone in the Bible, when you read the Bible, you can see that preparatory time. Moses has his preparatory. Paul had his preparatory time. Even Jesus had his preparatory time.

And so, my preparation began on the school board.

OLBERMANN: You said that God equips you? And you talked about the role Jesus plays in your life. How have they helped in your campaign?

ANGLE: They began to remake our Web site. And they said, you know,

you're pretty wordy, Sharron. I am pretty wordy. I say that's one of the

one of the benefits of electing me as a U.S. senator. I'll be able to lead a filibuster.

OLBERMANN: Now, stop me on this one if I'm wrong. But as a U.S. senator, you'd be in the business of creating jobs. That means that you would -

ANGLE: As your U.S. senator, I'm not in the business of creating jobs.

OLBERMANN: Of course not. Who wants a job when you can get unemployment.

ANGLE: You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs.

OLBERMANN: Of course, unemployment benefits aren't the only problem. Deficit, mortgages, the economy has become a major threat to the American way of life. And as a strong Republican, what do you suggest we do about this awful economy?

ANGLE: Waterboard the economy.

OLBERMANN: We're almost out of time, Mrs. Angle, or should I say Senator-elect Angle. In fact, this interview went so well, I can't believe I'm really saying this on television, but Sharron Angle, I love you.

ANGLE: I love you, too.


HAYES: And yet she lost. Those who did not lose in 2010, the people you, the viewers helped. From one family who lost everything in a fire, to the thousands who received medical care - thanks to your extraordinary generosity, next.


HAYES: We've often been overwhelmed by the generosity of Countdown viewers. While this year was no different, it took multiple forms. From your response to a family's home burning to the ground to the shocking revolution that the state of Arizona was running something that looked very much like an actual death panel. And then there is the truly magnificent work of free health clinics around the country literally funded by Countdown viewers.

First, what might be easily called the fire of the year, the home of Gene and Paulette Cranick burning as firefighters watched because the Cranicks had failed to pay their $75 subscription fee. The problem: the fee for service, pay-to-spray system of Obion County in Tennessee. The hands-off, recklessly minimal approach represents the worst of deconstruction of basic governmental services.

But after several appearances on Countdown, the Cranick's agreed to allow Countdown viewers to help and you did, giving more than $15,000 to help them rebuild their lives. Gene Cranick now telling us, quote, "Everyone is doing OK."

Now to the effort that has become a signature Countdown project, the constant and continuing good work of the National Association of Free Clinics, including those special free clinic events serving thousands of people in need. Nearly $3 million has been raised by Countdown and MSNBC viewers to date.

This year, you funded two free clinics. The one day clinic in Hartford, Connecticut, drew 1,000 patients. People without health insurance, many of whom had not seen a doctor for years. Sixty-one percent of those people were employed but have no access to health insurance.

And in New Orleans, a milestone, the National Association of Free Clinics treated its 10,000th patient in connection with these events.

Let's not forget the doctors, nurses and other volunteers who donate their time and considerable skill to make these clinics such a success.

And there is Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona, whose decision to deny organ transplants to nearly 100 citizens amounted to a GOP death panel. Countdown's focus on this has helped the National Transplant Assistance Fund raise more than $150,000. And so, donate to this fund at As we continue to feature the very real people at risk.


OLBERMANN: Can you explain with this platform available to you, Randy, explain to Governor Brewer why it's so important to fix this and not to wait until January when some of the legislators want to bring it up again?

RANDY SHEPHERD, STATE DENYING HIM HEART TRANSPLANT: Well, it would be great if that was the case. If somebody could sign something, do whatever, so that the funding would be there for me to get my heart.

As I understand it, the state's out of money. I understand that. And I'm not looking for somebody to invent money for me or money where there's none available. But I would love to see if some of the wasted money out there in government - I mean, you see it every day. I'd love to see some of that redirected into a program like this.

OLBERMANN: The governor still insists that transplants, even lung transplants, like the one you have been denied are optional. What do you say to that, especially when you hear that word "optional"?

DAVID HERNANDEZ, DENIED LUNG TRANSPLANT: It can't be optional. It's not like going to Dairy Queen or something. I think I'll take this. No, this is life or death. Optional - if you need it to save your life, you've got to have it.


going to happen. We want to have again another opportunity. I hope that -

I know that this is national news. And I hope that somebody - we hope that somebody is going to donate another liver for my husband.

OLBERMANN: So, they put you on the list in April and then in August you get this letter from the AHCCCS people, the local telling you you would no longer be covered. Can you give us some sense of what that letter felt like to receive?

TIFFANY TATE, DENIED LUNG TRANSPLANT: Yes. I got the letter. It was incorrect, the letter that we got. They said they weren't going to cover my liver transplant, which would be great. I'm not asking for a liver transplant.

But, it was tough. It was tough because from April to August, I really got to talk to a lot of transplant survivors and a lot of people that just said how you amazing they feel after transplant. And the life they get to life after transplant, being able to hike and do all those things. It got me really excited to know that I was going to be able to get my new lungs and do things that I've never done.

And, you know, to hear that was absolutely devastating to know that -

I mean, I wasn't going to get it.

OLBERMANN: This year, as we understand it, you've been hospitalized 11 times in over 11 months. And they also laid you off from your job. If you do not get that transplant that you quite accurately say you need, what happens?


OLBERMANN: When - I'm sorry, when you hear that $50 million of federal money was given to state prisons in Arizona instead of, say, you know, $45 million to state prisons and $5 million to organ transplants so people like you don't get knocked off this list, how does that fact make you feel?

GRAVAGNA: It hurts me because there's people out there, not just me, but other families that need organ transplants. And we're good citizens. We are productive to society. It's just wrong.



OLBERMANN: Just about anybody in the world can now call, text, e-mail, blog, post on Facebook, G-chat and, of course, tweet - those last examples represent a fraction of all the ways we can communicate on the World Wide Web - as if it is so vitally important to know what everybody else is doing and thinking at every possible moment.

I obviously have yet another way to communicate since I have my own TV show, more importantly a blog. Late in the summer of 2008, I even signed up for Twitter. Then I suddenly thought, I think I might accidentally give a lot of people my e-mail address. So, I blinked. All right. Look, I'm still adjusting to the idea of cable TV. I used to believe in brownies and elves.

But adjustment is life. Thus, in our number one story in the Countdown, tonight, live in our stage, I will type out my very first tweet. And before that I do that, John Hodgman will answer all my questions about it.

Twitter began on March 21st, 2006 with a message from one of its co-founders, Jack Dorsey, quoting, "Just setting up my Twitter." From such humble origins, Mr. Watson, the mighty full call version was launched in July of that year. And the next thing you knew, people had followers. Like I always though, people were following me anyway, so why add technology to paranoia?

So, my Twitter account was as voiceless as it could be. But tonight, I'm taking another swing at it. There's my Twitter page. Here's my address: @KeithOlbermann. Yes, there it is. So, you can follow me if you want. And so you already got it now, because I got seven followers before we even started this thing.

Although as you saw right now, those are not tweets, the sounds of crickets.

Joining me now, as promised, humorist and Twitter expert, John Hodgman, also author of "More Information Than You Require."

If I can interrupt you, John, I'd like to say good evening.

JOHN HODGMAN, HUMORIST: I'm sorry, I was updating my Twitter feed. I apologize.

OLBERMANN: Very nice.

HODGMAN: Seven followers already. Very nice, Keith. You're doing well. Doing well so far.

OLBERMANN: This is like speaking before birth, right?

HODGMAN: Yes, exactly so.

OLBERMANN: Or having people listen to you before birth.

HODGMAN: Indeed.

OLBERMANN: Two hundred and forty followers. The cat is out of the bag, right? Why do I want to do this?

HODGMAN: Well, I can only speak for myself.


HODGMAN: I enjoy Twitter because I am egomaniac. And it amuses me.

It's like being able to pass a note simultaneously to everyone in class.

And the class sometimes grows to be the size of a small town or country.

OLBERMANN: There you go.

HODGMAN: So, for me and for lots of people who use Twitter, it's essentially having your own broadcast television show for the very few of us who do not already have their own cable television show. That will change in the future, but for now, we have Twitter.

OLBERMANN: Thank goodness it's changed. Or neither of us would be sitting her at the moment. I'd be raising plants.

What do my potential followers - follower - potential follower.

HODGMAN: You're growing crowd.

OLBERMANN: My growing crowd, what do they want to know?

HODGMAN: They want to know behind-the-scenes type of stuff. I mean, Twitter is an intimate medium.


HODGMAN: I know one of my followers asked me to ask you about showing your Cornell degree again.

OLBERMANN: Oh, yes. Thank you.

HODGMAN: I think people would like to know what you're wearing on your feet right now. But they want you - with all writing, you have to always tell the truth. You have to be honest. This is an honest medium.

So you might want to tell them, for example, about the green room here, and how Chris Hayes had an ice sculpture of his head and a chocolate fondue fountain and I had instant coffee. I don't know why that happened, maybe because you booked me so late. I don't know.

OLBERMANN: I didn't know we had a green room. There are things they don't tell me.

HODGMAN: Always be honest.

OLBERMANN: Should I Tweet during the commercials and if so, what?

HODGMAN: Yes, if you choose to. You shouldn't - you shouldn't Tweet more than you feel like Tweeting.


HODGMAN: There are going to be a lot of people that are going to yell at you that you're Tweeting too much.


HODGMAN: And an equal number of people are going to yell at you that you're not Tweeting enough. A large - and one of the great things about Twitter is you get to encounter this whole hive mind, this crowd of people. And you get to see crowd dynamics very clearly.

OLBERMANN: The Borg Collective.

HODGMAN: Indeed. And there is a percentage of people who are always going to be yelling at you. You need to know this right away.

OLBERMANN: So it matches the rest of my life completely?

HODGMAN: Yes, exactly so.

OLBERMANN: Only those people here in management. It means they're just going to be followers. MAC or PC?

HODGMAN: Well, you know I am a MAC user myself.

OLBERMANN: Yes, I'm sure yes.

HODGMAN: So you know, Twitter is good on any platform but it was designed for mobile devices initially.


HODGMAN: - or so I've been told. So you can use your iPhone or you're iPad.

OLBERMANN: I actually -

HODGMAN: My iHands that I have. This is a prototype.

OLBERMANN: I saw that on "The Outer Limits" once years and years ago.

HODGMAN: Yes, me and Sarah Palin have one.

OLBERMANN: Oh lord. Well, she got the prototype.

HODGMAN: Yes, she did.

OLBERMANN: But it didn't worked that well.

HODGMAN: Yes, she's very popular.

OLBERMANN: With two minutes left in the show.


HODGMAN: I suppose, I should just do this now. And I - would it be

appropriate to sort of apologize for not being involved previously in

someway to sort of acknowledge that I didn't - like - here we go, give up


HODGMAN: Have you used a keyboard before?


HODGMAN: Its fantastic. You're getting there.

OLBERMANN: I type with one finger. This is true.

HODGMAN: I'm going to beat you.


HODGMAN: I am going to beat -

OLBERMAN: Good for you. But I'm doing the whole thing. Belongs to he ages.

HODGMAN: It came out I'm going to bear him.

OLBERMANN: Oh and in the interim, I got disconnected from the MSNBC thing.

HODGMAN: Do you need some barbecue joint recommendations because my followers would be happy to help you? That's one of the great things about Twitter.

OLBERMANN: All right, we're ready to go if you want to go. Here it is. At 8:58, 43, it's out. Yes, there it is. See? I give up. I was wrong, young and foolish. Now my Twitter-cot belongs to the ages. Behold, I Tweet.

So they'll get more substantive than that I hope.

HODGMAN: I know you were working on that all last night. But do try to improvise in the future.

OLBERMANN: Well, yes. Do I have to wear a hat while Tweeting?

HODGMAN: A Tweet hat?


HODGMAN: It's recommended.

OLBERMANN: And I don't get a separate device just for Tweeting, other than that hand that you described, the Tweet hand?

HODGMAN: Oh no, you can use it on any platform whatsoever.

OLBERMANN: I have to get a platform?

HODGMAN: You need to get a platform and a hat.

OLBERMANN: A diving platform?

HODGMAN: Or you can get a mortarboard hat that can serve as a platform.

OLBERMANN: I got that when I got my degree at Cornell.

HODGMAN: There you go. You're already serving your audience.

OLBERMANN: I forgot my standup terminology. That's the next thing.

HODGMAN: So the main reason that have you to Twitter, Keith, of course, is because Maddow's doing it.

OLBERMANN: For a long time.


OLBERMANN: Two thousand, six hundred fifty four followers. I can't command them to -

HODGMAN: That's very quick. Isn't that fun to watch?


HODGMAN: Spend the whole next show just watching that.

OLBERMANN: That's great, because I need to really boost my ego at all.

HODGMAN: Yes, you and me both.

OLBERMANN: John Hodgman, author, humorist, Twitter, teacher, teacher of Twitter. Great thanks.

HODGMAN: I'm glad to be able to help you. When I am your youth correspondent, you have problems.

OLBERMANN: There it is.


HAYES: From Napoleon to "Countdown," a Stradivarius' long journey, and what 3.6 million dollars worth of violin sounds like, next.


HAYES: The terms high art, masterpiece and cable news are generally not found in the same sentence. But back in October, there was a convergence of those things on this very program. At an online auction in October, a Stradivarius violin, the 1697 Molitor Stradivarius, believed to have been owned at one time by Napoleon Bonaparte, sold for a record 3.6 million dollars.

It was the highest price ever paid at an auction for a musical instrument. So we asked the question, what does Napoleon's old 3.5 million dollar violin sound like? Fortunately, the winning bidder, world famous violin soloist Anne Akiko Meyers, agreed to appear on the show. Before it was all said and done, a world famous octopus would be dead, gullible viewers across America were left stunned, and Anne Akiko Meyers and her violin were one of the Countdown favorites of 2010.


HAYES: This is a little different. We wanted to give you a sneak preview of our next segment, when the world famous concert violinist Anne Akiko Meyers will join me to play this new Stradivarius that she just bought at auction. In fact, she joins me now. Welcome.

ANNE AKIKO MEYERS, VIOLIN SOLOIST: Thank you so much, Keith.


MEYERS: Of course. Would you like to play it?

OLBERMANN: Do you hold it - I can't play anything. Do you hold it from - what -

Do you play any other instruments?

MEYERS: Oh my god.


HAYES: It's OK, folks. Stunt violin. We always keep a spare in the office. Luckily for all of us, Ms. Akiko Meyers unveiled the real instrument. Let's just say her playing was better than their acting.


OLBERMANN: I'm going to make sure we have enough time for your performance. And I've done enough of the Jim Gray/Lebron James act in setting this up. What are we going to hear as we hear a 3.6 million dollar musical instrument?

MEYERS: "A Little Summertime" by George Gershwin.

OLBERMANN: Gershwin, as presented by Anne Akiko Meyers. I'll leave you to have the stage and I'll come back when you're done. Thank you.

MEYERS: Thank you.




HAYES: You're saying to yourself, what about the dead octopus? Well, you don't have a world famous violinist and her 3.5 million dollar instrument on and just ask her to play one song. Ms. Akiko Meyers was good enough to record a second song for future use. A few days later, tragically, we found a use for a song we at the show called "Requiem for a Cephalopod."


OLBERMANN: Also, sad news from Germany. With the mood music supplied by our friend Anne Akiko Meyers and 3.6 million dollar Stradivarius, Paul the Prognosticating Octopus is dead. Paul grew to Oddball fame by picking winners of World Cup soccer matches. He was a perfect eight for eight, an appropriate number for an octopus, in fact.

But it was all - not all happy times for Paul. Death threats, allegations of photo-shopped results and the pressure to pick the home town Germans to go all the way. All of this weighed on Paul. But he never let it show. He touched our hearts. If you bet along with him, you got your wallets touched too.

He died as he lived, inside a tank at the sea life center in Oberhausen, Germany. He is survived by his caretakers at the aquarium and his best friend, Sally the Sea Horse and Dick the Goldfish. Paul the prognosticating octopus was two years old. Delicious.

Time marches on.


HAYES: If you have small children sitting too close to the television right now, please move them back. The worst and perhaps loudest political speech of the year. His name is Phil Davison. He's not apologizing for his tone, next.


HAYES: Imagine for a moment FDR delivering one of his fire side chats while coping with anger management issues. Lincoln yelling the Gettysburg Address, JFK asking what you can do for your country stoned. Perhaps then you will have a better appreciation for this next Countdown favorite. View it not as one man's personal tirade/interpretive dance, but rather inspired oratory.

His name is Phil Davison. He is the councilman from Minerva, Ohio.

And he is seeking the Republican nomination for Stark County treasurer. Considering Mr. Davison did not apologize for his tone, perhaps it's best to watch his speech from another room.


PHIL DAVISON, CANDIDATE FOR STARK COUNTY, OHIO TREASURER: Ladies and gentlemen of the Stark County Republican Party, Executive Committee, good evening. And thank you, not only for your attendance but for allowing me the opportunity to speak. My name is Phil Davison and I'm seeking our parties nomination for the position of Stark County Treasurer on November 10th - November of 2010 excuse me.

In terms of my background, I am from the village of Minerva, where I'm serving my 13th year as the elected service as a Minerva Council Member.

In terms of education, I have a bachelor's degree in Sociology, a bachelor's degree in History, a masters degree in Public Administration, and a masters degree in Communication.

In terms of elections across Stark County I have represented our party twice on the county ballot, in both the primary, in the general elections. When I ran for for Stark County clerk of court in 1996, and Stark County commissioner in 2000, and I will not apologize for my tone tonight. I have been a Republican in times good and I've been a Republican in times bad.

Albert Einstein issued one of my favorite quotes in the history of the spoken word, and it is as follows: In the middle of opportunity - excuse me, "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." I'm gonna repeat that so I have clarity tonight! "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."

This is the opportunity we have been waiting for! The Stark County Treasures Office is a mess. It is in dire need of structure and guidance, and not is the time to seize this opportunity. With an aggressive campaign and with an even more aggressive campaigner.

If nominated tonight, I promise each and every person in this room, I will hit the ground running, come out swinging and end up winning! Let's send a message tonight to the people of Stark County and to the people of the Stark County Democratic Party: we are tired of business as usual! Drastic times require, what?


DAVISON: Drastic measures, yes! Who said that? Thank you. Drastic Times Require Drastic Measures!

We will not tolerate incompetence and irresponsibility any longer. Now is the time to snap the Democratic strangle-hold on the Treasurer's Office in two! And I - back to what my friend Alex, just said, he reign/ran against the Treasurer in 1996, it was a problem than and it is a problem now! Infestation!

Politics is not touch football, politics is winner take all. It always has been, and it always will be! If nominated tonight, I want to develop and expand my campaign for what I believe is the greatest strength of the Stark County Republican Party, and that is its people. I believe in the axiom that all politics is local. And because of this belief I want to harness the thoughts and ideas that individuals in our party have concerning Stark County and its political sub-divisions, and use that to its fullest extent.

Knowledge is power. Let's dab into this power and use it as a tool to win the Treasurer's Office. Let's use this knowledge not only as a tool but as a weapon.

We must win this election. If nominated tonight, I will win this election! And I'm gonna say that again so there's no miscommunication tonight! If nominated tonight, I win! Tell your friends. Tell your neighbors! Tell Randy Gonzalez!

I'm coming both barrels, guns loaded. I believe in the entities, in the principles of the National Republican Party, the State Of Ohio Republican Party, and the Stark County Republican Party. If nominated, I will not hide those beliefs on my march to victory on election day! If nominated tonight, I can guarantee with 100 percent certainty that what you are seeing from me tonight is what everyone outside those doors is going to get over the next eight weeks!

I used to be an idealistic thinker. I am now a pragmatic thinker. Government may be about service; politics is about winning. Tonight as a candidate seeking the Republican nomination for the position of Stark County Treasurer, I humbly ask for your vote as members of the Stark County Republican Party Executive Committee.

Thank you.


HAYES: Sadly, Mr. Davison lost his bid. As did Christine O'Donnell, whose ideas about sex turned out to be a gold mine for our friends at Next Media Animation and Apple Daily, next.



OLBERMANN: They sprang, seemingly fully grown, from the fertile ground that is Hong Kong. Well, the newspapers in Hong Kong. The Computers are in Taiwan. In our number one story, just as we were going to begin to wrap up the years in news comedy with a tribute to the creative CG geniuses at Apple Daily Motion News, real life non-animated news comedy came to us, like an unexpected Thanksgiving turkey, from Sarah Palin and the ever complicated issue of which Korea this country supports.

First, Apple Daily and the man who made them famous, Eldrick Taunt Woods.




OLBERMANN: That one was called "Woods Broken Windows at Fight to Save His Wife Crash, Shady Husband." There was more animated delight as each mistress/exotic dancer/waitress/nightclub hostess came forward. This one comes forward with a voiceover in English.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tiger Woods is facing the biggest thought of his life. Tabloid has disclosed a third alleged Woods lover, Vegas club executive Kalika Muqueen (ph). She was a very influential person of the city. The relationship happened when Elin was pregnant.

They met regularly and were seen publicly. Woods was also seen in the VIP room of a bar with girls on either side and hands up their skirts. Reports say lover number two, Jaimee Grubbs, not only bragged to friends about her relationship but also played voice mail.

TIGER WOODS, GOLFER: Can you please take your name off the phone. My wife went through my phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And received an anonymous phone call.



OLBERMANN: But it wasn't all fodder for "US Weekly." You don't really to know much about this "New York Times" versus "Wall Street Journal" story, except Rupert Murdoch appears in his natural form.




OLBERMANN: And then there's former Jetblue flight attendant Steven Slater. After 20 years on the job, Mr. Slater snapped and slid his way right into Apple Daily immortality. Excerpts are here, here and grab a beer.




OLBERMANN: Wee. The only thing missing from this Apple Daily treatment of Brett Favre's well documented cell phone seduction, crocs.




OLBERMANN: The Jets theme song, Polly Wally Doodle.

Well, research documentation of what happened to GOP moderates this year, they got run over by the Tea Party with a gun-toting half governor at the wheel. Highlight include a Karl Rove gone berserk and Christine O'Donnell advising one man, you keep doing that, you're going to go blind, kid.





HAYES: That's Countdown. I'm Chris Hayes, in for Keith Olbermann.

Have a great night and a great holiday.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, December 29th, 2010
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Oddball

Guests: Eugene Robinson, Matt Taibbi, Dan Savage, Tom Hartmann, Chris Hardwick



SAM SEDER, GUEST HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

How bad is the new House GOP rule on spending? Unions hate it, and so does the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Bonus babies: Record profits, massive bonuses in the best quarter ever still can't keep those on Wall Street from whining about the administration scoring political points at their expense. "Forgive us for not wanting to buy him a drink after getting punched in the eye."

The politics of Wall Street with Matt Taibbi.

Fighting dirty: With "don't ask, don't tell" all but officially repealed, some on the right won't give up. They claim showering with homosexuals might make our straight servicemen uncomfortable.

Congressman Frank?


REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Showering with homosexuals? What do you think goes wrong when people shower with homosexuals? Do you think it's the spray makes it catching?


SEDER: Snow excuses: With emergency services compromised, mass transit is still a mess, and some areas are still buried. Anger with the mayor and the city's response is piling high.




SEDER: The governor across the river? Still at Disney World.

They'll take Manhattan. The latest right-wing fear-based attack on the president: he'll give the city back to Native Americans.

Imperial forces: "The Empire Strikes Back" selected by the Library of Congress to be placed in its National Film Registry.

And joining Luke and the gang to be preserved for all time.

All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.




SEDER: Good morning from New York. This is Wednesday, December 29th, 678 days until the 2012 presidential election.

The GOP loved to pretend that unless President Obama gave tax cuts to the rich, uncertainty would take hold of the struggling economy.

But in our fifth story: the new Congress is already creating very real uncertainty in sectors that actually matter to economic growth and to those most in need - and that Congress hasn't even begun. That plus the Wall Street bonus babies.

First, a new spending rule proposed by the incoming House Republican leadership will seriously threaten vital transportation funding - that according to both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and contractors and unions like the Laborers International Union. You heard that right - businesses and labor actually agreeing on something.

In fact, the joint letter to the GOP leadership says that the rule change could, quote, "make annual federal highway and transit investments subject to the whims of the appropriations process."

A Chamber of Commerce director added, quote, "The only thing that's propping up the construction industry is the notion that there is stable funding. If you make this change now, you're inserting uncertainty to the construction industry and that's bad for near-term economic job and in the chamber's view is bad for long-term economic growth."

And there's the problem of the continuing resolution or C.R. That is what Republicans insisted on passing in the lame duck session instead of an actual budget for 2011. The C.R. simply extends funding for fiscal year 2011 at 2010 levels. And as a practical matter, that means across the board cuts with no regards for merits and worth. Some of the cuts include food pantries, homeless shelters, elderly care, AIDS drug assistance, Head Start's childhood education programs and, again, the uncertainty principle.

Federal agencies are prohibited from funding certain programs until the 2011 budget is approved. Nor can they even plan for the near or long-term future because of that uncertainty that's created.

A United Way executive is saying, quote, "This ended up being the worst of all worlds for us. The United Way Worldwide administers a federal program for food pantries and shelters. People who are in desperate need of shelter and food assistance are not going to get it because of the way this is done."

But that's not the full extent of the problem. The C.R. also holds up grants for the Department of Homeland Security, $4.5 billion that would have gone to port security and railroad security and to local law enforcement efforts at responding to terror threats. Even some Republicans are complaining about the C.R., like the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Ted Cochran of Mississippi. He called the resolution "an inefficient mechanism that would con strain the Defense Department and other agencies in carrying out their missions."

Let's bring in "Washington Post" associate editor, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson, also author of "Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America."

Good evening, Gene.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, and almost happy New Year.

SEDER: Thank you. You, too.

Now, this new rule proposed by the GOP that would affect transportation projects, it's actually so bad that it's drawing the ire of both business and labor.

ROBINSON: Right. This is, I guess, what the - this is common ground that everyone can agree on. It's really a mess. It does throw this uncertainty into these highway projects that are quite important not just to labor but obviously to business as well. As we - as you and I both know, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce might be opposed to some kinds of federal assistance, but the federal assistance that we would call corporate welfare, they're not at all opposed to. In fact, they're in favor of it.

And so, this is something that unusually labor and business can both agree on that Congress by booting this thing over did - is doing a bad job. They're doing a bad job with this transportation rule.

SEDER: Yes, it's actually got the GOP leadership a little bit defensive. They sent an e-mail to the Hill sort of defending this proposal, saying that it's meant to ensure the highway trust fund will not spend more money than it takes in. But is it really that simple?

ROBINSON: No, it's never that simple. First of all, if you look at actual rule, it's not simple at all. It reads like gobbledygook and it's a good illustration of the fact that whenever you move a lever inside the federal budget, it's like a Rube Goldberg contraption and all sorts of things begin to happen that you may or may not intend.

So, no, it's not a simple matter of saying, well, gee, we have this much in the trust fund, therefore, we will only fund this much. In fact, these are long-term projects that have to have secure sources of funding, otherwise, there's no point in starting them. It's insanity to start to - you know, to start rebuild a bridge and then not be sure that you have the money to finish the bridge.

SEDER: Right. And, so, you know, this is sort of a twofer for the Republicans, isn't it? I mean, in one way, the continuing resolution freezes a lot of spending and a lot of planning, and then they'll have the opportunity to actually just make cuts when they actually pass the actual budget?

ROBINSON: Yes. And that could be worse. We're not quite sure. It's going to be an interesting dynamic, actually, in the House especially, between those who understand the federal budget and who understand that you can't start a bridge and not finish it and that sort of thing, who understand the impact of continuing resolutions, who understand how complicated it is versus some of the newer members who are going to come in with this kind of very simple mantra: cut government spending. It's going to be a very interesting dynamic within the Republican caucus to see if reality prevails over fantasy.

SEDER: Now, let me ask you. These expected cuts and the delays in funding, don't they essentially create a wash with any stimulative effect that the tax cuts had?

ROBINSON: Well, they certainly mitigate whatever stimulative effect the tax cuts had. It doesn't add up, at least not at this point, to $1 trillion like the tax package, by some calculations, does.

But does it mitigate the stimulus that the economy needs according to every reputable economist right now? Yes, it does mitigate that. Look at the transportation spending. This is - this puts people in jobs. It puts people to work.

And, you know, to the extent that it is stimulative, it's not going to happen.

SEDER: Eugene Robinson of "The Washington Post" - many thanks and happy New Year.

ROBINSON: Same to you.

SEDER: Now then to the Wall Street whiners who after getting bailed out for their misdeeds and then achieving record profits and record bonuses were all too happy to provide politico with a whole bunch of anonymous quotes about how much they don't like President Obama. From a big banker, "He whipped everyone into a frenzy against us." From another banker, "It's a bunch of academic lefties down there." And from another executive of one of the big six banks upset that those banks weren't invited to a recent meeting between the president and a group of CEOs, "If they don't hate us anymore, why weren't any of us there?"

Meanwhile, 2010 was the worst year for bank failures since 1992. This according to "The Washington Post," not the big Wall Street banks mind you, but the smaller, main street banks - 157 bank failures in 2010, and 140 bank failures in 2009.

So, let's turn to "Rolling Stone" contributor editor Matt Taibbi, also author of "Griftopia: Bubble Machine, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That is Breaking America."

Matt, welcome.

MATT TAIBBI, ROLLING STONE: Thanks for having me. It's weird to see you in a tie.

SEDER: I understand.


SEDER: So, all right. First impression of those quotes - pretty jaw-dropping, right?

TAIBBI: I was - I almost had an aneurysm when I read this stuff today. It's so unbelievably obnoxious. It's like the American version of let them eat cake, honestly.

These guys - you have to look at the business model was for Wall Street in a decade or so before Obama came into office. Basically, they serially committed every single white collar crime imaginable - predatory lending, insider trading, securities fraud. They nearly blew up the entire international economy. And when Obama came into office, if there was any justice in the world, he would have built a brand new supermax facility on the moon and put them all in it.

Not only did he not do that, not only did he not put anybody in jail, he instead bailed them all out. All the toxic assets that they've accumulated that they didn't manage to fawn off on the Chinese or on us, and in the pension funds, he bought with American taxpayer money.

SEDER: Right.

TAIBBI: He bailed them out and continued to bail them out. And now, every time one of these banks wants to make money, they just go to the Fed with a fistful of worthless mortgage-backed securities that are worth 50 cents and they get $100 million for it. And that's how they have their record profits now. And then they have the temerity to go and complain to "Politico" about how they're upset with Barack Obama.

SEDER: They did so well that - the last quarter, they had no days of trading. This is like the top four or five banks.

TAIBBI: Some of the banks had no - there were quarters last year where some of the had no losing trading days. Now, that has a lot to do with the fact that some of these guys are just serially committing, again, insider trading. They're front running the markets, the computerized trading programs and things like that.

They're just not losing. They're just so much public money out there, it's impossible for them not to make money. When you borrowing money at zero and lending it out to the rest of us at market rates, you cannot lose money.

SEDER: Right. And we're actually paying the interest at that point, because they're buying our treasury.

TAIBBI: They're taking it from us and give it to them.

SEDER: OK. So, that's the first reaction that we have to these quotes.

TAIBBI: Then I thought about it.

SEDER: All right. That's what I was saying. What's the second reaction? Because it just occurs to me that like - that these type of bankers, they don't air their dirty laundry in public in this way. They don't have to, it seems.

TAIBBI: Right. This is what I call mutually beneficial propaganda. This is like - you know, I don't know if you're a football fan, but Peyton Manning when it comes to the line of scrimmage, he waves his arms all over the place and he makes all these signals. It's all meaningless.

When the ball is hiked, it's the same two-yard run that he called two minutes ago. This stuff is all meaningless. It's beneficial for both Wall Street and for Barack Obama to have this myth out there that Obama is somehow against Wall Street. You know, Obama gets to score points with his progressive left followers who believe that he's somehow taking on Wall Street, and these guys get basically -

SEDER: And not just the left. I mean, frankly, this is what we hear this across the political spectrum.

TAIBBI: Right. Exactly. And then they basically get to put pressure on the administration to get whatever they want, whether it's continued bailouts or deregulation. It's a win-win for both sides.

And funny thing about the story, it's clearly been planted by somebody, but it could easily be either the White House or somebody in one of these banks.

SEDER: Right. All right. So, quickly, President Obama's replacement for Larry Summers, one of his chief economic advisers, good chance the guy is going to come from Wall Street?

TAIBBI: Well, that's the history. You know, clearly, I mean - you know, when he came into office, he basically brought in almost universally, a team full of Wall Street friendly guys - the guys who came from the big banks, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup. Historically, those have been his choices and it's likely that that's going to be the choice again.

SEDER: Yes. That's - I guess that's very mean to Wall Street, isn't it?

TAIBBI: Exactly. I mean, Timothy Geithner. They're upset with this guy. He's just been handing out federal money for the first two years of Barack Obama's presidency. So, it's ridiculous that the notion that they're actually genuinely upset is ridiculous. The notion that it's useful propaganda, that's more realistic.

SEDER: That sounds more like it to me.

Well, Matt Taibbi, contributing editor of "Rolling Stone" magazine - thanks for your time tonight. Happy New Year.

TAIBBI: Thanks very much. Happy New Year, Sam.

SEDER: The Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, is inviting a gay group to help organize its events, which means CPAC is now too liberal for the Family Research Council. The splintering on the right over gay rights - next.


SEDER: The latest smear about the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal? It's not about military preparedness, it's about the gay spray. The last-gasp of opponents make it all about the showers.

The real result of plowing after the blizzard, uncovering the fact that our infrastructure is in serious trouble.

And the Library of Congress is using the force and saving the empire -



SEDER: In light of the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," there is evidence the GOP is easing up on its anti-gay agenda. But there are still some conservatives who are not backing down on their prejudices.

Our fourth story tonight: as Republicans begin to draw in more gay and lesbian groups, the party's socially conservative wing has taken a firm stand for bigotry.

Last November, the Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC, the annual gathering of right wing organizations, invited GOProud, a Republican gay rights organization not only attend but to also take a role in planning next year's events.

In protest, a number of conservative groups, including the Family Research Council, the Concerned Women for America, and the Americans for Truth About Homosexuality have announced that they will not attend the event. According to Family Research Council's senior vice president, Tom McClusky, CPAC's recent attitudes represent a movement away from conservative principles. Never mind that the chairman of GOProud is collaborating with Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn and counts the standard bearer in anti-tax leader Grover Norquist as one of its advisers.

Meanwhile, one of the abstaining groups, the Center for Military Readiness, is already pushing back on the repeals of "don't ask, don't tell." Among their chief complaints: the provision to prohibit the creation of separate bathroom and shower facilities based on sexual orientation, which the Defense Department working group says would, quote, "wrongly isolate and stigmatize some service members."

When a reporter from the conservative CNS news service went to Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank to ask about the shower issue, Frank had this to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a question for you about the working group that Secretary Gates put into effect, he appointed of the Defense Department working group. They recommended that a straight military personnel will have to shower with homosexuals.

FRANK: Showering with a homosexual? What do you think happens in gyms all over America? What do you think happens in the House of Representatives? Of course, people shower with homosexuals. What a silly issue.

What do you think goes wrong when people shower with homosexuals? Do you think it's the spray makes it catching? The notion that there's somehow anything new in the first place about showering with homosexuals.

Remember, under "don't ask, don't tell," by the way, the policy was that you would be showering with homosexuals. You just weren't supposed to know which was which. So, there was no change in that.

The notion that knowing that someone is gay or lesbian as opposed to knowing that there are gay and lesbian people you just don't know who they are that that somehow makes a difference, is a bit silly.


SEDER: Let's bring in columnist and editorial director of the Seattle newspaper, "The Stranger," Dan Savage.

Dan, thanks for joining us tonight.

DAN SAVAGE, THE STRANGER: Thanks for having me, Sam.

SEDER: So, it appears that we now have on one hand, a growing number of conservatives who are inclusive of gays and lesbians. Ann Coulter actually was the keynote speaker at the right wing Homocon Convention this year, for example. And yet, at the same time, there are groups like the Center for Military Readiness that oppose "don't ask, don't tell" repeal and want there to be segregated showers for gays in the military.

So, what's your take on this split that seems to be growing in the Republican Party?

SAVAGE: My take is that you're making more of this split that there actually is. You know, Ann Coulter was invited by GOProud to their event where she said intensely bigoted things. She's against marriage equality. GOProud describes marriage equality, a gay marriage rights as a states rights issue, which is what interracial marriage once was.

GOProud isn't a pro-gay rights organization. They're an organization of gay quislings and useful idiots that help window-dress the Republican Party, which is really still rabidly anti-gay to its core. It's a little window dressing, a little gay window dressing, that allows them to appeal to moderates, perhaps some independents as being less bigoted than the Republican Party in its current iteration actually is.

SEDER: So, I mean, that's basically - you know, GOProud being part of developing CPAC is really more window dressing.

Well, let me ask you this. I mean, is there any - anything positive to say about the fact that they actually perceive a need to window dress? I mean, maybe not so much with the Republicans, but just in general?

SAVAGE: Yes, that's a real positive development. Increasingly moderates, independents and younger conservatives, even younger evangelicals are over this issue, are for gay rights. You see as Vice President Biden said last week, gay marriage as an inevitability and it's a colossal waste time, energy and resources to oppose the gay rights agenda. And that is a positive development.

But the GOP in Washington, the people who control the leverage of power are still rabidly anti-gay. You got Senator DeMint saying that gay and lesbian people shouldn't be allowed to be school teachers, which is Andrew Sullivan pointed puts him to the right of Ronald Reagan in the 1970s on gay rights. And you've got unreconstructed bigots like John McCain coming up the works in the Senate.

And with the Senate being as it is, really, gay rights comes down to hanging by a thread in the Senate, and the worst of the GOP can really thwart most progressive developments for LGBT people. And we know who's for us and who's against us. The GOP is against us.

SEDER: And so, do you think - do you see any advantage in terms of moving - this rights agenda forward in the fact that there's one part of conservative movement that seems to feel like it needs to window dress and another part of the movement that is angry and terrified of gay spray in the showers essentially?

SAVAGE: Yes. They're making themselves ridiculous, the anti-gay folks, which is making larger parts of the GOP uncomfortable. They're beginning to realize just like they couldn't be baldly racist, although they still pursue the Southern strategy and dog whistles when it came to racism and still do pursue dog whistles when it comes to racism. Look what they've done over and over again to the Obama administration since the first black president was sworn in. They're going to drop the bigoted crazies, the people who can't dog whistle, the Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, the Family Research Council, recently labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center - they're going to move away from those people, but they're going to continue to demagogue on gay rights and continue to employ a dog whistle strategy on gay rights, an opposition to gay rights.

SEDER: Well, Dan, you know, I actually that, you know, what we're about to see, that unlike the way they dog whistle on racism and it's been so effective for them, the Southern strategy over the past 30 years, I actually think we're going to start to see these type of questions become an advantage for the Democrats, a big advantage. And I think they're going to be too toxic for the Republicans.

SAVAGE: I agree. I think the Democrats are realizing that gay rights isn't a losing issue for them but a winning issue for them, not just with their own base, but with kind of in a way the future base of the Republican Party, which is over and past this issue. Again, the majority of younger evangelical Christians are for marriage equality.

I just don't think it's going to come quickly particularly while you have octogenarian GOP senator bigots like McCain tattling around in the Senate and will for years and years to come.

SEDER: Right. Well, Dan Savage, syndicated columnist and co-founder of the It Gets Better Project - happy New Year and thanks for your time tonight.

SAVAGE: Happy New Year to you, too, Sam.

SEDER: It isn't just the snow and ice blocking roads and snarling traffic. It's politics - ahead.


SEDER: Hey, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, your state is about to be hit by a blizzard. Where are you going now? Hello, Mickey Mouse.

First, the sanity break and the Karl Rove moment of the day. Perhaps you will remember it well, the week Christine "I'm not a witch" O'Donnell won the Delaware Republican primary. Karl Rove, not on board.


KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH AIDE: When you have a headline in the state's leading newspaper "O'Donnell Faces Campaign Debt and Back Tax Issues," that's something you got to deal with. And you can't get away with simply saying, oh, go to my Web site. I got the answers there.


SEDER: Apparently, it is a problem. A person with knowledge of the investigation says federal authorities have opened a criminal probe of O'Donnell to determine if the former candidate used campaign money to pay personal expenses. The case has not gone to a grand jury. O'Donnell, who sets a state record by raising more than $7.3 million in a Tea Party fueled campaign this year, has not commented. Her campaign wizards are denying it.

Let's play Oddball.

We begin in Madrid. How many times have you watched a reporter talking to kids sledding and wished the reporter would join them. For me, the answer is three times. And reporter Lydia Cayman (ph) decides to do exactly that, with one slight problem. I guess wireless microphones have not yet made it to Spain and Lydia does not notice the cord wrapped around her leg. And boom goes the dynamite.

The camera would be OK, albeit a little cold and wet. But perhaps Lydia should stick to summer stories from now on.

We stay in Spain, but move over to Ibi (ph), where it is time for the annual flour fight. Every year, citizens take control of the town for one day. They, of course, use this day to pass nonsense laws, such as no walking in the shade or no smoking. Crazy, I know.

Anyone caught breaking these laws is subject to a fine or the punishment of being covered in flour. Or they can choose option three and just sit it all out. This is all done in an attempt to highlight the promises made by the real council throughout the year that they failed to accomplish. Maybe those Spaniards are onto something?

Finally, to the Internets, where we continue with Jeff Foxworthy's award-worthy observational humor. You might be a redneck if - today, you might be a redneck if your trailer is missing a tire, and your solution is to use a log, especially if the spare appears to be sitting in the trailer itself.

Still, it does seem to be working surprisingly well. If I didn't have a spare tire and needed to keep driving, I would be stumped.

While Chris Christie rode the rides, Cory Booker shoveled. And New Jersey fumed. The snow job in politics next.


SEDER: As the northeast continues to dig out from a blanket of snow, the effects of this week's blizzard are starting to become clear. In our number three story tonight, some of those effects are turning out to be political ones.

As we reported on this news hour last night, big snowfalls like this week's fuels the denial of global warming. It's obviously counterintuitive on a simplistic level to have big snowfalls during global warming. But as "Countdown" meteorologist Sam Seder explained last night, there are other factors, too.


SEDER: Thanks, Sam. Now, this is Sunday's storm right over the northeast, dropping more than two feet of snow in some regions. But then we got a high-pressure system coming in from the energy-producing states, specifically lobbing pressure that emanates from companies that stand to lose money if we actually go green.

This effect is known as the Koch Brothers, sometimes referred to as Los Armanos (ph). Now, combine that with a strong front of ignorance sweeping up from down south. And keep in mind, on their best day, you're looking at 60, 65 percent stupidity levels down there. And that gives you a strong chance of thunder and prevarication. And it just sits right on top here and hangs there.

And, of course, you get that current of blustery hot air out of just one radio studio in Palm Beach, Florida. And that gust actually controls an entire stream of Republican lawmakers, leading all the way up to Washington, D.C., and creating an entire system spinning counter-fact-wise.

Keep in mind, with the chilling factor on the mainstream media, it's going to feel several degrees stupider than it already is. So, please, folks, bundle up. Back to you, Sam.


SEDER: That was last night's report from Countdown meteorologist Sam Seder. Ironically however, the heavy snowfalls caused by global warming end up illustrating some of the reasons we need big government. It's not just because it takes governments to curb the emissions that cause global warming. It's also because heavy snowfalls remind us, in very immediate terms, the price we pay when we buy the old line that government is not the solution. We lose services and infrastructure.

For more on that perspective, let's go now to Countdown traffic reporter, from our Countdown eye in the sky, Sam Seder. Good evening, Sam.

Thanks, Sam. We've got a good vantage up here in the Countdown chopper. But I got to tell you, based on the legislative traffic coming out of Washington, they seem to have zero visibility down there. We've got infrastructure repair stalled in the right lane, a two-year tax cut totally blocking services from getting through the left lane.

Couple that with a huge 10-year tax cut pileup, union busting and privatization, hey, if you're headed towards the future, don't expect to get there anytime soon.

Over in Jersey, mass transit is snarled, with commerce and progress backed up for years, and a bottleneck at that tunnel that Governor Christie won't build. As expected, anti-big government sentiment has stalled high-speed rail all along the 50-state metro area. Expect at least 25 to 30-year delays.

Looking down the road, I can see an austerity plan jackknifed right on the backs of the middle class, basically blocking the on ramp to a 21st century. You are going to definitely want to find an alternate route.

You know, Sam, I can see Russia from here. Hey, are those wolves down there? I'm going to shoot me a wolf.

Back to you in the studio, Sam.

Countdown traffic reporter Sam Seder, thanks for that report. Seems to be no snow on the ground up there.

The need for big government hit home with the storm this week, especially hard for the two politicians who are the darlings of the right and the alleged center. Respectively, Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, whose hopes of soaring to national prominence with his new No Labels group now look more like falling to notoriety with his new no snowplow city.

New York, which has handled bigger storms better, still digging out three days later, some train lines still not running, some buses and ambulances still stuck in the snow. At least two people dead reportedly because emergency services were overwhelmed and could not get through unplowed streets.

Mayor Bloomberg at least taking responsibility, unlike Governor Christie, who took vacation at Disneyworld, leaving New Jersey on Sunday just before snowfall shut down New Jersey airports, staying on vacation while his state dug out.

Now, not in Disneyworld tonight is Tom Hartmann, host of his nationally syndicated radio show and author whose most recent book is "Rebooting the American Dream, 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country."

Tom, thanks for your time tonight. Happy new year.

TOM HARTMANN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Great to see you, Sam. Thank you.

SEDER: Nice to see you. Now can you weigh in here on the premise that something like the blizzard provides a very visceral immediate example of how essential a big, active, responsive government actually is?

HARTMANN: I think there's almost two pieces to this, Sam. One is that it reminds Americans that the government is us, that when Ben Franklin developed the first fire department or the first public library, the first public utilities, that we're in this all together. It's a we society, not a me society, and it has been since the founding of the country.

It kind of wakes people up to that. I think second part of it is that's why it's so politically toxic, when politicians like Governor Christie fail to do their job, or Mayor Bloomberg, or are even perceived as failing to do their jobs, even though when - you know, you've got all these people saying big government is bad, but, holy cow, we want the government to do the job right.

SEDER: Just to remind me, there's no part of Constitution that actually says the government is responsible for, let's say, snow removal, is there? But that's part of people's expectations.

HARTMANN: Yeah, clearly. And there is - actually, arguably there

is. The common welfare is cited twice in the Constitution, Sam, in the

preamble and in the body of the Constitution. So you would think that

clearing snow is part of common - part of general welfare. It's part of -

you know, the commons in general is what government was created to be responsible for. The roads that we travel on, the water that we drink, the air that we breathe.

We have expanded it over the years. Now it's the safety of our food supply, the safety of our drugs. But it's all about the commons. That really is the purpose of democracy in America. We are the government. The government is us.

SEDER: Fair enough. The Brits privatized Heathrow Airport. And the senior consulting editor of "Conde Nast Traveler" wrote on the "Daily Beast" that the owners' focus on profits from airport - from the airport and from actually selling goods there in a mall left them blind to things like snowplows, de-icers, actually getting planes to take off from Heathrow.

And I believe the British government has already bought back Gatwik from privatization. Is there a lesson there for us?

HARTMANN: There's a huge lesson. The same thing happened with the British rail system a decade ago. This is - this situation is Thatchernomics, Reaganomics on steroids. The idea that, you know, the market is going to solve all problems, that there should be a blurring of the line between the commons that I was talking about a second ago, and private industry and private area.

I don't want the government making my jeans or selling me my computers. And I don't think anybody in America does. On the other hand, I don't want a private corporation making sure that my public transportation facilities are operating properly, because their goal isn't to make public transportation operate properly. Their goal is to make a buck.

So what happened at Heathrow is they redesigned the terminal and the airport to turn it into a giant shopping mall to drive as much merchandise as possible out of there, so that the company that owns it, which has this nice name of the Transportation Authority, as if it was government - it's not. This company could make more money selling products, selling junk to tourists. And therefore, they didn't spend so much time paying attention to whether or not they're going to get airplanes in and out safely and de-iced, and what they're going to do if something like this should happen.

SEDER: Tom Hartmann, syndicated radio host, many, many thanks for your time tonight.

HARTMANN: Thank you, Sam.

SEDER: If the right is right about the president, favoring the return of New York City to its original inhabitants, the Native-Americans, we would support that, if they brought shovels.

And for all who knew what a stuck up, half witted, scruffy looking, nerf herder is, generations to come are guaranteed to remember it as well, next.


SEDER: In a week that saw no shortage of hysteria and hyperbole from Birthers, death panelers, and climate change deniers, a new brand of right wing conspiracy theorists emerged. Our number two story tonight, the conservatives who want you to think that President Obama is planning to give Manhattan Island back to Native-Americans. Their premise stems from a recent announcement by the president that the United States will reverse the Bush administration's opposition to a United Nations resolution supporting indigenous people the world over.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you know, in April we announced that we were reviewing our position on the U.N. Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous People. Today, I can announce that the United States is lending its support to this declaration.


SEDER: Supporters of the declaration say it serves as a guide for dealing with indigenous people, including Native-Americans here in the U.S. But over at the conservative conspiracy clearinghouse, World Net Daily reporter Eugene Caprosky (ph) sees a more sinister motivation. In an article entitled "Obama to Give Manhattan Back to Native-Americans," Caprosky wrote that that resolution, quote, "could accomplish something as radical as relinquishing some U.S. sovereignty and opening a path for the return of ancient tribal lands to American Indians, including even parts of Manhattan."

The basis for this? Article 26 of the Resolution, which states indigenous peoples have the right to lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.

Could it be? Is it possible Native-Americans loving Barack Obama is poised to pull off the biggest government land grab since the Louisiana Purchase? That theory is complicated by one thing: the resolution is non binding agreement. Like all U.N. resolutions, it cannot be adopted into law.

That's not good enough for World Net Daily founder and editor Joseph Farra (ph), who thinks the honorary adoption of then Senator Barack Obama by Montana's Crow Nation Tribe in 2008 opens the door for presidential trickery.

Quoting Farra, "I suspect Obama himself plans to cash in on this action."

Yes, be suspicious of a president if he's adopted into a Native-American tribe, unless it's Tea Party hero Calvin Coolidge, who was inducted into the Sioux Tribe in 1927. Just look at all that land he's secretly planning to give back to those Native Americans.

But the most puzzling thing about this invented controversy is why would right wingers even care if President Obama gave away Manhattan, with all its Ground Zero Mosques, its Broadway values and its liberal media outlets?

Making sure America will always remember, do or do not, there is no try, next.


SEDER: Finally tonight, it's my duty to announce to the American public that the bureaucratic fat cats at the Library of Congress have finally gotten it right. In our number one story, the National Film Preservation Board - yes, there is such a thing - has revealed that among films added to the National Film Registry this year is "The Empire Strikes Back." Meaning no longer will "Star Wars" geeks, present or future, have to live in fear that the original celluloid film version of the movie could some day disintegrate and be lost forever.

Even though all those "Star Wars" movies are on a 24-hour loop on the Spike Channel. No flipping. The National Film Preservation board adds 25 movies to its registry every year. Its goal, "to preserve films that are culturally, historically or aesthetically significant, and make them publicly available. Also to protect orphan films, those without owners able to pay for their preservation."

This 1891 Thomas Edison short, "Newark Athlete," which made it to the Registry this year, may fall into that category. The silent film features a half naked guy swinging some clubs around. A box office bust, but historically important. Just look at him go. We just saved you a trip to the Library of Congress.

Tuesday, it was announced that "The Exorcist," "Airplane," "Saturday Night Fever" and "All The President's Men" would also get the nod. But the headline grabber was the federal government's acknowledgement "Star Wars" episode Roman numeral V.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, the creators of the biggest smash hit of all time bring you the next episode in the "Star Wars" saga, "The Empire Strikes Back."


SEDER: To be clear, that was from the trailer. We don't want to get sued by Spike. Widely thought to be the best of the six "Star Wars" films, "Empire" is the second in the George Lucas series to be preserved in the Library of Congress. The original movie, "Star Wars, A New Hope," is already on a shelf in Washington.

And it was an especially good year for Lucas films. His 1971 sci-fi movie "THX-1138" was also selected for preservation by the Library, though the future prospect of the rest of the "Star War" films making the cut look dim. "Return of the Jedi" and the prequels will never be federally preserved. And fans of the 1978 "Star Wars" holiday special starring Bea Arthur and Art Carney will just have to continue to watch crappy versions on Youtube.

Joining me now is Chris Hardwick, writer for "Wired Magazine," proprietor of, also of "Attack of the Show," and host of "Web Soup" on G-4 Network. Chris, happy New Year. Welcome.

CHRIS HARDWICK, "WIRED MAGAZINE": Sam, it's nice to see you. I have not seen you in a long time. It's nice to see you helming a show right now. I'm enjoying you.

SEDER: Thank you, Chris. It's nice to have you here. Now tell me something. You must be - well, I don't want to presume. What is your reaction to "Empire's" induction into the Library of Congress? Give me a sense of how all or most nerd Americans take the news.

HARDWICK: My reaction would be - my gut reaction would be full double-rainbow. That means good. Yes, of course, "Empire" should be - of course it should be in the Library of Congress. It's the best of all of the six movies. "Star Wars" could have just been a fluke. But when "Empire" came around, it showed us that there was a story to follow. There were amazing characters.

We found out that - spoiler alert - Darth Vader is Luke's father, a meme which is still not dead. We met Yoda. We froze Han in carbonite. I mean, like "Empire" was a gorgeous movie. And I respect the Library of Congress for giving the nod to nerd America.

SEDER: So let me ask you this. Tell non-nerd America why "Empire Strikes Back" could have - or maybe should have gone into the registry before the first "Star Wars."

HARDWICK: Well, I mean, it's a better movie. "Star Wars" was great, and it certainly changed the way that we watch space epic films. But "Empire" was a solid story. It was gorgeous to look at. There was real drama. There was wonderful interaction with the characters. We really started to see Luke struggle going through becoming a Jedi.

That's weird. All the girls are running out of the room. It really was a phenomenal - it was a phenomenal movie. I probably would have put it before "Star Wars." But since "Star Wars" really technically was the first one that got the ball rolling, I can understand why they adopted that one at the Library of Congress first.

SEDER: Let me ask you this. This is probably the ultimate nerd question. Which version of "Empire" should be preserved? The regular, normal version, or the 3D version?

HARDWICK: I'm so sick of people putting the number three and the letter D together like it means something. 3D technology is just not that exciting yet. So it's a ploy to get money from consumers. Because the original "Empire" was the one that people flocked to in 1980, that is the one that should go in the archives, not the 3D version.

SEDER: Let me ask you this: how will George Lucas turn this news into cash?

HARDWICK: Well, Lucas - you know, Lucas will probably either offer them some sort of a technology to preserve film, or he will buy the Library of Congress and have it moved to Skywalker Ranch, and charge admission to it or something.

SEDER: Fantastic. That will be great. I would love to see the line out in front of that place. There will be a lot of - have you ever dressed up as one of the characters, Chris?

HARDWICK: No. No, I have not. Yes, yes, I have. I've dressed up as a Wooky. Actually, this year I did a mash up Halloween costume for Halloween. I was Luke Skywalker Texas Ranger.

SEDER: Chris Hardwick of, G-4 TV, thanks. I'm Sam Seder, in for Keith Olbermann. That's December 29th. Thanks very much.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, December 28th, 2010
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Oddball

Guests: Ezra Klein, Jeff Rossen, Wendell Potter, Robert Reich, Michael Eric Dyson, Reese Halter



SAM SEDER, GUEST HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

Dire diagnosis: The uninsured in America now up to 50 million. Unemployment unchanged. And the cost of care more than anticipated. Is the government's condition critical when it comes to enacting health care reform?

Help wanted: In the wake of the latest great recession, American companies have created 1.4 million jobs - overseas. Had those jobs been made in the USA, unemployment rates would have dropped a full percentage point.

Personal foul: The right's latest attack on the president - how dare he commend the Philadelphia Eagles for giving Michael Vick a second chance?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president has made this something vital enough to pick up the phone and make a phone call during Christmas vacation.


SEDER: And, thousands may have been stranded by the snow, but it didn't stop the climate change skeptics from stirring up a storm.

All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still trying to spin the weather.




SEDER: Good evening from New York. I'm Sam Seder, in for Keith Olbermann. This is Tuesday, December 28th, 679 days until the 2012 presidential election.

And the problem has worsened as high unemployment drags on. The remedy isn't yet working as well as it should, and the threat from the opposition is to kill it in its crib.

In our fifth story: health care and health care reform well on its way to becoming once again the defining political issue of the Obama presidency.

First, the problem: getting worse because of the great recession. The number of Americans without health care now exceeds 50 million - this according to a new report from the Kaiser Foundation. That's not just from newly unemployed Americans but also underemployed and temporary workers who never get health care through their employer.

More than 4 million Americans lost their health care coverage in 2009 alone according to that Kaiser report. One-fifth of nonelderly people are now uninsured.

And while some unemployed people can afford to retain health care coverage, more than half do not - this according to a study from Rutgers University.

Many of these people fall into a huge gap that still exists in the health care system. They aren't poor enough to receive Medicaid. They aren't old enough to receive Medicare. And parts of the health care reform that might help them have not yet kicked in.

Indeed, "The Washington Post" reports that one part of the health care reform law is so far attracting fewer people than expected, those high-risk pools. A temporary measure designed to provide insurance to people with pre-existing medical conditions until all insurance companies are required to accept such patients in 2014. But these high-risk pools are still fairly new. So part of the problem may be marketing. And now, some states have started to advertise their availability.

Another problem, according to the directors of these pools, is that some potential customers are skeptical about joining because of the uncertainty - the uncertainty over the fact that federal lawsuits and GOP lawmakers might try to kill health reform and health care.

Meantime, one of the great lies of the health care debate, the one about death panels, will get its chance at a new life - so to speak. End-of-life counseling will be available to some Americans because of a Medicare regulation, which means that patients who want their wishes honored can get advice on how to create an advanced directive, for example. But that kind of regulation may be exactly what Republicans plan to attack, even if they don't have the power to overturn it.

Under the Congressional Review Act, the House and Senate may pass resolutions of disapproval which would overrule any new regulation that they don't like. And while President Obama could obviously veto such a resolution, Republicans can use it as a political tool.

And regarding all those fired-up Republican congressmen, the ones who derided Obamacare, it turns out only five of them out of 242 GOP House members are willing to turn down their congressional health plans.

Congressman-elect Joe Walsh is one of them. The Tea Party favorite from a Chicago suburb has also turned down the congressional pension and retirement packages. Quoting Walsh, "I don't think congressmen should get pensions or cushy health care plans," but perhaps the former business consultant can simply afford to live without it.

Let's bring in "Washington Post" staff writer, "Newsweek" columnist and MSNBC contributor, Ezra Klein.

Good evening, Ezra.


SEDER: So these high-risk pools - are they, in fact, not working as expected, and can the issues that they're experiencing be fixed?

KLEIN: But definitely, they are not working as expected. High-risk pools in general don't work. They were a big part of John McCain's program in 2008. That's why a lot of people thought it wouldn't work. And they're not going to work now.

What you're basically doing is segregating the sick, often small-risk pools somewhere else. And ask yourself, I know health care pretty well, I don't know who I'd call to get into a high-risk pool tomorrow. Most people never heard of them. So, the first problem we have is that nobody knows there are high-risk pools, and that's why they have very, very few people signed up.

Two, they're not very well-funded. There's about $500 billion in the high-risk pools, and that level of funding, the premiums are very high. You're going to high risk pool. They say you need to pay $600 a month.

You don't have it. You don't have health care insurance.

So, they can be fixed with more money, but the real way they're going to fix them is we're going to get passed this sort of little patchwork stuck up attempts get into 2014 and if this bill is repealed, the actual provisions and actual pieces of it meant to fix this problem will come into effect and then, we will get past this problem.

SEDER: That "if" is starting to feel a little bit bigger. But - so, let me ask you this: these high-risk pools, they were supposed to be a temporary measure. They're filling the stopgap between 2014, like you said.

Was there something better that could be done here? I mean, was the answer simply to just start health care reform now, or was there another patch that could have worked better?

KLEIN: That would have been better. The reality is it's very, very, very hard in the current system unless you really do something new to it to deal with the problem of sick people. Insurers won't take them, and if you only have sick people on their own in an insurance plan, the premiums are incredibly high. So, there isn't a great fix except for fixing the health care system.

You could have had health care starting much quicker. The Medicare prescription drug benefit started much faster than health reform did. There are a lot of reasons for that. Some have to do with trying to get it right, and some have to do with moving around in the Congressional Budget Office. They figured they needed to get it under $1 trillion on the first 10 years, and that meant starting it in essentially the fourth year of the first 10 years.


KLEIN: So, they played a little bit of a game with the price tag and it's hurting people.

SEDER: And so - all right. If you had a sense that these high-risk pools were going to be a problem, are there other elements or other patchwork stopgaps that may in some way also raise a red flag for you?

KLEIN: Yes. You've been hearing about some of this. It's not that they're bad. The high-risk pools are helping people. They're not working as well as we might have wanted them to, but they're helping people.

We put a lot of smaller regulations on insurers. We didn't say you have to accept all sick people, but you have to accept all sick kids, for instance. And when you do that without other things, like for instance the individual mandate, which make sure that healthy people are in the pool, it just raises costs, it brings sick people in and it doesn't bring anyone else along with them. So, the average premium goes up.

So, there are a bunch of those, and you've been seeing stories where this or that company says under the new regulations my health care plan either will become too expensive or it won't work. When the actual bill comes into effect fully in 2014, a lot of that will stop happening. They'll be subsidized options. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that market's effect on the individual and small business mainly, premiums are going to drop very precipitously, 20 percent to 30 percent.

But until then, what we have, it's not that it will make things particularly worse. It's just not going to do enough to make them better, and, frankly, things are bad enough that we need a lot to make them better.

SEDER: And they've sort of become a political liability, right? I mean, this is - this is going to be fodder for Republicans, isn't it? I mean, when they want to attack the health care reform.

KLEIN: Every little thing that goes wrong, whether it's a problem with health care reform or not, whether it's your company raised premiums because that's what they were going to do anyway, or there was a provision that made them raise their premiums because a provision wasn't well designed, or maybe their health care plan wasn't well-designed, is going to be blamed on health care reform. Democrats are going to eat it on this for a little while.

On the bright side, if they can survive until 2014, there are going to be 30-some million people who get coverage and many, many more beyond that who get break, who get protections, and Democrats are going to get blamed for that, too. But for now, the Democratic Party has to be able to hold strong on this and has to be able to protect this plan, and much more importantly, implement it effectively so that they can get to the point where it actually begins delivering its primary benefits to the American people.

SEDER: "Washington Post's" Ezra Klein - many thanks.

KLEIN: Thank you.

SEDER: All right. Let's turn to Wendell Potter, a former health insurance industry executive and now a senior fellow for the Center of Media and Democracy; also author of "Deadly Spin."

Good evening, Wendell.


SEDER: Well, let's begin where we left off with Ezra. Does the patchwork nature of health care reform lend itself to the kind of problems that these high-risk pools are experiencing?

POTTER: Well, yes, because the Democrats felt that they had to begin patching up the system that we had, which is a health insurance system that is very unfair and very expensive. And, so, consequently, we have a patchwork and a Band-Aid, actually, until 2014, when the changes are up and running, when the bill is - or this law is fully implemented. And also, until the Medicaid program can be expanded to include people who are up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

SEDER: And, you know, when we talk about it as patchwork, we're talking about it in broad policy terms. But the fact of the matter is that there are actually people whose lives are going to be saved because of this, aren't there?

POTTER: Oh, yes, absolutely. And 45,000 people die every year because they don't have health insurance. And this will bring a lot of people into coverage. So, hopefully, that number will start to come down. Unfortunately, until this bill is fully implemented, we may see that actually creep up.

SEDER: Now, some of these state directors of these pools cited uncertainty in terms of whether or not health care reform was going to be attacked or disassembled by lawsuit, that it was scaring off some potential customers. So, has the Republicans' attempts to delegitimize or defund this law, it actually has had a real effect in keeping people from enjoying the benefits of this benefit.

POTTER: Oh, it absolutely has. It's been demagoguery from the beginning of the debate through the midterm campaigns and fearmongering. And the fearmongering has really made people afraid of reform and turned many people who can benefit from this legislation against it and made them fearful of it and skeptical of it. And again, as we said just a moment ago, this is - there are deadly consequences to this.

SEDER: Now, one prominent conservative, Charles Krauthammer, has suggested that Republicans not try to defund the health care law but instead essentially hold show hearings and point out its defects. Is that another problem for Democrats? I mean, given the complexity of the law, can it make it hard to explain to the average citizen?

POTTER: Yes. And that's exactly what I predicted they would be doing. There will be show hearings, and the Democrats should be working right now in anticipation of what the Republicans will be saying and what the insurance industry will be saying before friendly committee chairs.

What we will be seeing will be a lot of spin actually written by people like I used to be, the spinmeisters for the insurance industry, feeding the talking points to the committee chairs. So, we'll be hearing things like what we need are commonsense market-based solutions and insurance companies need to have greater flexibility to design plans that give us more choice.

So, the Democrats need to counter that kind of spin, which is not at all - which will be used to disguise the real intention of what the insurance industry really wants.

SEDER: Yes, and I just want to turn for a minute on this issue of the end-of-life care counseling. Just to be clear - why don't you explain to us exactly what that is and why any patient would want that?

POTTER: Well, as someone who lost his father just about three weeks ago, I can tell you how important this is. My dad was 93, and a few years ago, he and my mother did go forward to have advanced directives so that when he was at the end of his life, we knew exactly - his treating physicians knew exactly what he wanted.

And this legislation with the regulation or the resolution will do just that, which was not able to be included in the legislation because of opposition from the demagoguery of the Republicans. It will enable doctors to be reimbursed for providing that counseling to people when they want to have a conversation about their end-of-life care.

SEDER: Yes, and this is actually going to be a result of essentially executive - of the administration's regulation -

POTTER: Correct.

SEDER: - that sort of piggybacks on the legislation.

POTTER: That's right.

SEDER: Well, former Cigna executive and author of "Deadly Spin," Wendell Potter - many thanks for your time tonight.

POTTER: Thank you.

SEDER: Joe Miller's last best hope for that Alaska Senate seat ended today. A federal judge dismissed his lawsuit and lifted the stay that blocked Alaska from certifying the election. The judge rejected Miller's claim that the state's method for counting write-in votes violated the federal constitution. Miller had argued that state law required voters to spell the write-in candidate's name correctly and abbreviations weren't allowed.

The state Supreme Court had already unanimously ruled against him. Alaska is now free to certify Lisa Murkowski as the winner. Murkowski won the election by more than 10,000 votes. This court declines to second-guess the highest court of the state, the judge said.

Joe Miller may not have the job he wanted, but American companies are creating jobs, enough to move the unemployment numbers down. Just not in this country. Next.


SEDER: Here's a thought: American companies created 1.4 million jobs this year. Not in America. What that could have done to the unemployment rate - next.

Plus, why what the president said about Michael Vick is giving people something to talk about instead of snow.

And the more the right denies climate change, the more it seems to change. The snowstorm is proof. Coming up.


SEDER: As the government changes how it will measure unemployment in this country, finally, some good news to report on the job front.

In our fourth story: with profits up and the market holding steady, American companies are adding jobs - in Europe and Asia.

One-point-four million jobs have been created overseas in the past year, compared to fewer than a million jobs domestically and, according to the Economic Policy Institute, if all those jobs had been added here, the unemployment rate would have dropped almost a full percentage point from 9.8 percent to 8.9 percent.

To further illustrate, researchers at the Asian Development Bank Institute break down the numbers. Let's say you buy an iPhone from Apple. Its wholesale price is about 179 bucks. About $61 goes to Japanese workers for some - for making some of the parts, 30 bucks to workers in Germany, and 23 to workers in South Korea for other parts, and $6 to Chinese workers for putting the iPhone together.

After workers elsewhere around the world take their share, American workers, primarily researchers and designers, are left making $11 off that same iPhone for that same American company, Apple.

This as the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics announces it will change how it evaluates long-term unemployment. Currently, the cap on how long a person is counted as being without a job is two years. But starting this Saturday, January 1st, the monthly jobs report will show how many people have been without jobs for up to five years. The change will not affect how the unemployment rate is calculated, but it will make figures more accurate.

As one BLS spokesperson says, "We realize more and more people are unemployed longer than 99 weeks. So, we need to break it down further."

But what about those forced into early retirement because they can't find a job? "The Associated Press" reporting that many baby boomers are headed for financial disaster because they have not adequately saved for retirement. With traditional plans being phased out, more boomers are relying on the stock market as well as the price of their homes, which have dropped in value.

In 2011, just a few days from now, more than 10,000 boomers a day will turn 65, a rate that will continue for the next 19 years.

Time now to call in Robert Reich, labor secretary in the Clinton administration, now professor at U.C. Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy and the author of "Aftershock: The Next Economy in America's Future."

Great thanks for your time tonight.


SEDER: Now, first, what are the implications of all these baby boomers retiring in terms of Social Security?

REICH: Well, Social Security does have enough money to pay for all of these baby boomers. After all, Social Security, money comes out of the general fund. I used to be a trustee of the Social Security Trust Fund, and I can tell you, regardless of whatever happens, we have as a nation a duty, a law that says that Social Security's going to be paid.

SEDER: And, in fact, the - Alan Greenspan chaired a committee back in the '80s anticipating this demographic bump, wasn't that right?

REICH: That's right. And one of the problems, Sam, is that so much money has been concentrated at the very top of the income ladder in recent years, much more than Alan Greenspan anticipated, that the cutoff of income to which Social Security, payroll taxes are applicable, actually is a little bit too low relative to what Social Security officially needs in order to maintain solvency.

So, probably one of the reforms we're going to see over the next few years, I hope not actually raising the age of eligibility - I hope it's actually raising the amount of income subject to Social Security taxes.

SEDER: And when we're at a time when there's so many people in their 50s who are unemployed and may not be able to get back into the job - the job market, I mean, it's unlikely to happen. But wouldn't it be a good idea to actually lower the eligibility for Social Security retirement?

REICH: It might be, Sam. In fact, a lot of people right now are saying that the eligibility age for Social Security retirement, given the depth of our continuing jobs recession - and this jobs recession does continue - maybe should be lowered so that you create openings for younger people coming into the job market who right now don't have a chance because there are so many older people clogging up the pipes, as it were.

SEDER: And so, let's talk about these new parameters for long-term unemployment. Why doesn't it affect the unemployment rate?

REICH: Because the unemployment rate really is based upon how many people are actively looking for work at a given time in a given month. And many people have been unemployed for two years or more, they've given up. They essentially are too discouraged to even look for work, so they are not normally considered as part of that most recent figure, which is 9.8 percent.

If you figured all of the people who are too discouraged to look for work and many of them, again, have been unemployed for more than two years or three years - that 9.8 percent would be much higher.

SEDER: And so, what will counting those who have been jobless for longer than those two years tell us about the recovery? Will we see - will we see the recovery in those people? Or are those people just basically out of the job market?

REICH: Well, hopefully those people will be back in the job market someday. But the longer you're out of the job market, the harder it is to get back into the job market, partly because employers are kind of suspicious if somebody's been out a long time. What are you doing? What have you been doing? Also because some of the habits and some of the practices of being connected to the job market are lost after two or three or four years.

Those people, though, being counted is very important because it gives us a much more accurate picture of how many people actually are out there unemployed for a long period of time, needing perhaps all sorts of assistance like extended unemployment benefits.

SEDER: You wrote recently that history will record 2010 as the year Washington became business-friendly. That's not the conventional narrative. We're watching Obama trying to bend over backwards for business. Why do you see it differently?

REICH: Well, businesses actually did quite well in 2010. In fact, profitability has soared. The biggest American companies are now sitting on over $1 trillion worth of cash. Their profitability came mostly from selling abroad, selling in rapidly growing markets like China and India and Brazil, and also from keeping their American payrolls down or cutting their American payrolls directly.

That means we're seeing a real disconnect for the first time I think ever in terms of a recovery - so-called recovery - a disconnect between corporate profits, which are going way up, and jobs, which are not going way up here in the United States.

SEDER: And, in fact - I mean, that's exactly - I mean, the fact that these businesses are sitting on all that money, tax cuts is not going to spur their hiring, right? I mean, what we need now is demand.

REICH: Exactly. I mean, supply-siders, people on the conservative right who say all we need is more tax cuts for the wealthy and for big corporations are not taking account of the fact that big corporations have as much money as they need. There is nothing constraining them in terms of hiring people except for the fact they're worried there's not enough market. People don't have enough money in their pockets here in the United States to buy the goods and services that would justify more hiring.

SEDER: Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Clinton -

many thanks for your time tonight.

REICH: Thanks, Sam.

SEDER: The president thinks that giving Michael Vick a second chance was good call. This raised a stink. Guys, is it that slow a news week?


SEDER: Obama applauds the Eagles' owner for giving Michael Vick a second chance. The right, predictably, gets upset - next.

But, first, it's a big day for birthdays. Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee was born today, as was Oscar winner Denzel Washington and former President Woodrow Wilson. And in another sort of birthday on this day in 1846, Iowa was established as the 29th state, which, 143 years later, caused a few problems, when a group of dead baseball players confused it for heaven.

Let's play "Oddball."


SEDER: We begin in Australia where Hugh Jackman creates the cricket version of the Hans moment classic man getting hit by football. The ball. His groin. It works on so many levels.

After a few minutes, Hugh was finally able to recover, even knocked the next pitch out of the park. Still, he needs to do a better job protecting his wicket.

From down under to up north; you will recall a few months ago, Sarah Palin ran into some problems with words, Tweeting the word "refudiate" after saying it several times on air. Now, we all had a good laugh at her lack of spell-checking. But on Sunday's episode of "Sarah Palin's Alaska," we got the real story. And it turns out the joke was on us.


SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: Oh, geez. Yesterday, I Twittered the word "refudiate" instead of repudiate. I pressed an F instead of a D and people freaked out. Now we're saying, no, no, no, the English language is a moving, breathing, evolving art. I can invent a word.


SEDER: Yes. Apparently she confused the F with the D key in her attempt to type the word redudiate. Still not a real word, but her correction obligates us to re-redudiate our assumption that she was constrained by the English language. She's far to mavericky for that.

Finally, we got to Atayaman (ph), Turkey, with a warning for all you dare devils out there who cross the street against the Do-Not-Walk Sign. Don't try that in front of a truck. Unseen by the driver, Bicare Ozan (ph) is forced to sprint ahead of the truck to avoid being run over. Eventually, some witnesses were able to yell at the driver get him to slow down and eventually stop.

Mr. Ozan escaped with minor injuries and a newfound sense of his top sprinting speed.

Michael Vick's second chance after prison and the president's acknowledgment that second chances are a good thing. Why the right thinks it's a bad thing, next.


SEDER: I know the following statement will be tough for some of you to swallow, but tonight, there's shock and outrage coming from Fox News over something the president did. In our third story, the White House has confirmed the president called the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles in part to congratulate him for giving a second chance to an ex-convict.

The right-wing noise machine is asking, un-ironically, is that presidential? Sunday, Peter King of NBC Sports and "Sports Illustrated" reported the phone call between Eagles' owner Jeffrey Lurie and the president. According to Lurie, one topic discussed was his team's decision to sign quarterback Michael Vick. The owner said the president told him, quote, "so many people who serve time never get a fair second chance. And it's never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail. He was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall."

Vick's downfall, of course, came due to his involvement in running an illegal dog fighting ring. A federal judge found that Vick played an active role in killing pit bulls at his Virginia home and sentenced him to two years in federal prison.

Last year, after serving his time, the Philadelphia Eagles signed Vick to a two-year contract. President Obama has been vocal in his support of second chances for convicted felons. In January, he called for more funding for the Second Chances Act, a federal effort to help prisoners transition from jail to jobs. The act was signed into law in 2008 by President George W. Bush.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm about to sign a piece of legislation that will help give prisoners across America a second chance for a better life.


SEDER: The White House yesterday confirmed that the Obama/Lurie phone call took place, emphasizing that the president condemns Mr. Vick's crimes. According to Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton, the president also talked to the Eagles owner about the green technology being used in his team's stadium. Today, because that's what they do, Fox News got outraged.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it is controversial that the president has made this something vital enough to pick up the phone and make a phone call about during Christmas vacation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost a year ago where the Christmas day bomber almost blew up his crotch and blow up the plane, and the president really didn't speak about that for a couple days before. But this is something he had to make a phone call about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some feel this is not presidential. Let us know what you think.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The criticism is to specifically praise giving Michael Vick this kind of a chance in some way excuses, perhaps, what Michael Vick did, or sends some sort of a message to people that it's not that bad.


SEDER: You know, I know a president who actually excused what an ex-felon did. Scooter Libby, convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury relating to the outing of CIA Agent Valerie Plame, has - now has a nice cushy job as senior vice president at the Hudson Institute, a job he might never have gotten if President Bush hadn't commuted his prison sentence.


BUSH: Scooter is a loyal American who worked for Vice President Cheney, who got caught up in a - in this Valerie Plame case and was indicted and convicted. And I chose to commute his sentence. I felt he had paid enough of a penalty.


SEDER: Joining me now is Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, professor of sociology at Georgetown University, and author of "Can You Hear Me Now? The Inspiration, Wisdom, and Insight of Michael Eric Dyson."

Dr. Dyson, welcome.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Thank you, my friend, for having me.

SEDER: First off, to make it clear, no one's condoning the crimes that Michael Vick committed. But tell me if I'm wrong here. In the media, at least, it seems to me there appears to be two standards for two different crimes and for two different presidents.

DYSON: You're absolutely right. No one is excusing the crimes. Mr. Obama, President Obama, made it clear that he condemned the crime. Anybody with any reasonable sense of justice would condemn the crime, as Mr. Vick himself has done.

But, on the other hand, Scooter Libby was involved in national security interests by outing a sitting CIA agent, Valerie Plame. You know, if you don't know about it, go see the movie, read the book, read two of the books that are out by her husband, Joseph Wilson, ambassador, and Valerie Plame, and you'll see how Scooter Libby did a great disservice to national security.

Yet, this is being swept away and modified under the impetus of the Republicans' assault upon President Obama for saying, look, Michael Vick served his time; he did a wrong thing; he admitted his crime; he's continually admitting his crime; and now he's gone on to do well. Isn't this what America is about? Second chances, redemption, and the possibility of coming back after having been let down or letting other people down? So I think this is much ado about nothing.

SEDER: Right. But, you know, in a general sense, you know, of course, there are a lot of people out of work. But there is a cycle that repeats itself for ex-convicts. And that cycle has ripple effects across communities, regardless of the unemployment rate. Do you think the president's doing enough to address that?

DYSON: Well, he has to do more. I think that he called for more funding for the Second Chances Act. That's important. President Bush, as you've just indicated, signed that. I think Mr. Obama, President Obama, has to really take hold of this issue. The disparity between sentencing for powder cocaine and crack cocaine led to this three strikes and you're out under a Democratic president, President Clinton.

And I think that under Mr. Holder, the attorney general, we've tried to address that. And President Obama, of course, has stood behind those efforts. But I think we have to be more aggressive. Most people are in prison for nonviolent drug offenses, who have been in prison, especially in these African-American and poor communities.

So it stands to reason that if you've got a person in jail who is seeking now, after coming out of jail, to get a job and gainful employment, if they're being prevented from gainful employment, that rebounds negative upon the community.

First of all, what options do they have left except to engage in an act of recidivism, returning to a former act of criminality, which does bad for all of us. And secondly, it doesn't take advantage of the services and skills they may be able to render.

So I think it's horrendous. And I think President Obama needs to be a bit more aggressive about pushing this forward, to suggest that those who are capable of rendering active service in the American employment scene need to contribute, and will solve two - will kill two birds with one stone.

SEDER: Right. Now, let me ask you, what do you think personally of how Michael Vick has comported himself since he's left prison? I mean, he's -

DYSON: He's exemplary. He's an amazing human being. I think that Michael Vick has taken continual responsibility for what he did wrong. And you can see a growing sensitivity toward the fact that initially he thought, well, look, I did something wrong, I got busted, I got caught, I would have lied before. But you see a deepening awareness in him, working with Tony Dungy, with his spectacular lawyer, Billy Martin.

I think that the team that they assembled around him has made him understand that what he did was wrong. Then Donovan McNabb reaching out, along with Andy Reid, and then convincing Jeffrey Lurie to give a second chance to Michael Vick. And let's be real. Giving a second chance to Michael Vick becomes a no-brainer, especially because he's an athletic genius. But his character has also been reformed.

So Michael Vick is seeking to measure and to create an equivalent between the athletic genius he displays on the gridiron and the humanity and integrity that he displays off of it. I think he's done an extraordinary job and needs to be commended.

SEDER: We can't really expect more from him. I mean, this is exactly what we want the penal system to do, right, to reform people.

DYSON: Absolutely. And Presidents, you know, Obama and Bush and many presidents before them have excused people who have done horrendous things. And every day people have excused people. Look at what happened with Ben Roethlisberger, who was accused twice of raping a woman and served six weeks out, and is now back playing football, not nearly the cry. If you hurt and harm a female, who is a human being, it seems that you are exempt from some of the scrutiny that is applied to hurting dogs.

And I think that even though it was horrendous and atrocious what Michael Vick did, let's also say that we have to be concerned about and careful about being concerned about women in this culture, as well. I think that's what we need to pay attention to, as well.

SEDER: Excellent point. Michael Eric Dyson, sociology professor at Georgetown University, thanks for your time tonight.

DYSON: Thanks for having me on.

SEDER: If it snowed in New York City and nobody seemed to be plowing the streets, would it - oh, wait. That happened.

And whenever it snows, the deniers call it proof that global warming is a myth. But this year's snowstorm actually means it's happening.

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, part two of her look back at the 2010, the year that should have been just another midterm.


SEDER: It was the most severe blizzard to hit the East Coast in four year, stranding commuters and holiday travelers inside their homes, on the road, and at airports. Our number-two story tonight, Snowpocalypse 2010 continues to wreak havoc, as local governments throughout the region struggle to deal with the aftermath of the storm.

Newark Mayor Corey Booker began taking aid requests from homebound residents via Twitter. Here he is yesterday personally delivering diapers to a woman who couldn't make it out to the store.

In New York, the city's famously busy streets have slowed to a near halt, as snow piles have made navigating the sidewalks a daunting task. And if you think clear skies means flights are back to normal, NBC's Jeff Rossen would like to set you straight.


JEFF ROSSEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One day of snow, a week's worth of headaches from the northeast and beyond.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just found out our flight was canceled. We can't get out until after our return flight was supposed to get us back to New York. So they can't get us out until Friday.

ROSSEN: Some passengers have camped out here for three days. This woman just found out she'll be sleeping here again tonight. So she tried to rebook.



ROSSEN: Flights are finally taking off and landing, but not fast enough. In New York alone, 3,000 passengers were stuck today. And in the northeast, about 900 flights were canceled.

MIKE PANGIA, AVIATION EXPERT: It's like a domino effect. Once you cancel flights in one area, planes can't get to other cities, even if the other cities are not affected by snow.

ROSSEN: Today, travelers in Orlando felt the pain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just a nightmare. I mean, I was talking to everybody trying to find directions. You know, no hotels were available.

ROSSEN: And in Atlanta.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you call the airline, everyone is on the phone. So you wait for, like, half an hour in order to get to someone.

ROSSEN: And in Milwaukee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was such a mess, and there were so many people in there, like, screaming and crying.

ROSSEN: Passengers on a Cathay Pacific flight sat on the tarmac at JFK for nearly eight hours, no food, no water, no bathrooms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every time the captain updated us, which he tried to do about every hour, all he could say was I don't have any additional information for you.

ROSSEN: Experts say it could be after new year's before flights are back on schedule.

No great shakes outside the airport either. On the streets of New York City, hundreds of buses stuck. Thousands of cars buried.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By now it should be clean, right? And it's not.

It's still here.


ROSSEN: In this home video posted on Youtube -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: are you out of your mind?

ROSSEN: New York City workers are towing a plow caught on camera smashing a parked SUV in Brooklyn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing?

ROSSEN: The sanitation department tells NBC News this is common during snowstorms, and the car's owner will likely be paid for the damage. Now with intersections still resembling sledding hills, anger is building.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mayor Bloomberg, shame on you!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course I'm angry. I pay taxes like everybody else. Why should we not get services?

ROSSEN: New York's mayor responded.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY: We won't get to everybody every time. We will make mistakes. Yelling about it and complaining doesn't help.


SEDER: That was NBC's Jeff Rossen reporting. If you thought the weather was bad, wait for the high-pressure system coming in from the right. With climate change deniers, it's not the heat; it's the stupidity.


SEDER: The New York City Fox affiliate reported last night that this week's snowstorm was the city's fifth heaviest snowfall based on inches of snow recorded in Central Park. Only one of the top five, back in 1947, was not from the past 15 years. January 1996, fourth heaviest, February of this year, third heaviest, February of 2006, heaviest on record.

In our number-one story tonight, you know what time it is when winter's first snowfall comes along. It's time for the right-wing global warming deniers to get their chuckle on. The Fox gang reacting to the storm, claiming right on cue that cold weather pours hot water on global warming.

Our next guest will explain why snowfalls can actually get worse during global warming. But first, we wanted to explain the technical meteorological reasons that storms like this fuel global warming denial. For that report, let's go to our Countdown meteorologist, Sam Seeder. Sam?

Thanks, Sam. Now, this is Sunday's storm right over the northeast, dropping more than two feet of snow in some regions. But then we got a high-pressure system coming in from the energy-producing states, specifically lobbing pressure that emanates from companies that stand to lose money if we actually go green.

This effect is known as the Koch Brothers, sometimes referred to as Los Armanos (ph). Now, combine that with a strong front of ignorance sweeping up from down south. And keep in mind, on their best day, you're looking at 60, 65 percent stupidity levels down there. And that gives you a strong chance of thunder and prevarication. And it just sits right on top here and hangs there.

And, of course, you get that current of blustery hot air out of just one radio studio in Palm Beach, Florida. And that gust actually controls an entire stream of Republican lawmakers, leading all the way up to Washington, D.C., and creating an entire system spinning counter-fact-wise.

Keep in mind, with the chilling factor on the mainstream media, it's going to feel several degrees stupider than it already is. So, please, folks, bundle up. Back to you, Sam.

Countdown meteorologist Sam Seder, thanks for that report, Sam.

As promised, here to explain why global warming equals bigger snowstorms, conservation biologist Reese Halter, the author of "Wild Weather, the Truth About Global Warming."

Thanks for joining us tonight.


SEDER: So, let's start with the obvious. Global warming's real. It's happening. So why have we seen two of New York's biggest snowfalls ever this year?

HALTER: Well, imagine going into your kitchen, walking up to your refrigerator, opening up the freezer, leaving the door open. The motor would ramp up, get warm, as the Arctic has. And the cold air would continue to spill out, eventually cooling our kitchen.

That's what's happening. Couple that will with a high-pressure system in the mid-latitudes pulling that icy cold polar air all the way down to Miami. Mix it with the precipitation from the Atlantic, and voila, we've got our storms in NYC.

SEDER: So does that mean that some of the areas of the Earth are going to become colder forever? Or does this all even out over time? Or help me out here, what happens?

HALTER: Well, you know, as - the deal is we're missing an incredible amount of ice in the Arctic, for instance, and also the Antarctic. Let's stick with the Arctic, because that's closer to home here; 770,000 square miles this September were missing. That's 100,000 square miles bigger than Sarah Palin's Alaska. All right?

Also, the ocean is warming up two degrees. The Arctic Ocean is two degrees warmer. In biology, that's huge. Our friends, the iconic Spiraled Narwalls have told us that.

So instead of that air being bottled up - the jet stream usually moves west to east - it is spilling and pouring out. And look what's happened in the UK. They've had the coldest December ever.

SEDER: So NASA expects 2010 to be the hottest year on record. If that means a few days off from work, a few blizzards, maybe a couple more days of sun, what difference does it make?

HALTER: Oh, look, it's huge. Our oceans - let's look at the oceans.

Forty percent of the phytoplankton, the base of the food chain, is missing. That phytoplankton pulls at least a quarter of the rising CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Let's look on land. In the Amazon in 2005, we had a one in 100-year drought; 500 million trees were blown over in a wicked storm. And 2010, five years later, we've got another 100-year drought event.

If we look in America, our - the fourth largest forest cover on Earth, in Arizona, in Idaho, in Wyoming and Colorado, our forests, instead of being sinks, that is pulling the CO2 out, are sources; billions of trees are dead from bark beetles. We've got problems, Sam.

SEDER: Well, that doesn't look too - doesn't sound too inviting. I appreciate your time here. Conservation biologist Dr. Reese Halter, thank you for joining us. Very scary.

HALTER: Thank you.

SEDER: That's December 28th. I'm Sam Seder, in for Keith Olbermann. You can hear more from me daily, Monday through Friday, on "The Majority Report" at "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" is next.