Wednesday, May 19, 2010

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Tea Time, Worst Persons
Video via YouTube: Intro, Keith speaks French

Guests: Ezra Klein, David Weigel



KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you

be talking about tomorrow?

The eye doctor sticks his thumb in the eye of the Senate minority

leader, and Democrats are delighted by the nomination of Rand Paul in




please bring President Obama to Kentucky. We'd love for him to campaign

down here.


OLBERMANN: Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it.

(INAUDIBLE), voters of both parties revolt last night - Senate

Republicans are just revolting today, again blocking a vote on reforming

the big banks.


SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Republicans decided to come down

on the side of big money. We will not give up. We will be back tomorrow

to fight on the side of the little guy.


OLBERMANN: Democrat Eric Massa quits the House. John Boehner wants

to know who knew what, when. Republican Mark Souder quits the House.

Boehner says, Souder? Souder who?

And as the "show me your paper" state answers a Los Angeles boycott by

threatening to cut off L.A.'s electricity, the first lady witnesses the

true tragedy of Arizona 1070. What the little girl says her mother said.


UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: She says that Barack Obama's taking everybody away

that doesn't have papers.


OLBERMANN: "Worsts": So it turns out you can't teach high school

students how to use geometry to assassinate the president.

And even a chicken lady can't get away with this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They (ph) never set up that system.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not backing down from that system.


OLBERMANN: And the biggest blow back yet to the B.P. oil spill crisis

in the Gulf.


ROBERT REDFORD, ACTOR: America needs a safe, clean and renewable

energy. Not more oil spills.


OLBERMANN: Our special guest tonight: Robert Redford.

All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.



OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.

It was only a few weeks ago that a Republican who switched parties was

still leading his challenger in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary by more

than 20 points. A mere 13 months ago, that right-wing extremists, having

organized their very first Tax Day tea parties.

But tonight, in our fifth story on the Countdown: Arlen Specter is a

Senate veteran with an end day to his 30 years of service on Capitol Hill,

having lost his bid for reelection to an actual Democrat, Congressman Joe


While in the Bluegrass State, eye surgeon Rand Paul now running for

Kentucky's open Senate seat as the Republican nominee, not for the people

of Kentucky necessarily, but more for tea partiers nationwide. Last night,

Dr. Paul saying Kentucky - you know the place he's running to be the

senator from - only once. He said tea party nine times.

A candidate so far to the right of the GOP mainstream, he opposes all

federal bailouts of private industry and, at least back in 2009, he

advocated imposing a $2,000 deductible for Medicare. Good luck selling

that at a town hall meeting in Kentucky.

The chairman of the Democratic National Committee is calling Dr. Paul

precisely the kind of candidate that Democrats need. Quoting Tim Kaine,

"Rand Paul's positions fail to resonate beyond the far-right Republican

segment of the electorate that supported him."

In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, Congressman Sestak defeating Senator

Specter by making the point of running to his left, and emphasizing that

Senator Specter has spent 29 of his years in the Senate as a Republican.

Meanwhile, in Arkansas, Lieutenant Governor Halter is forcing a runoff

election with Senator Blanche Lincoln in three weeks' time. The candidates

separated by fewer than 7,000 votes. Lieutenant Governor Halter receiving

the support of organized labor, Senator Lincoln spinning the runoff as

triumph but lamenting the influence of, quote, "outside groups," at least

those who are not supporting her, ordering them to go home.

In response, labor officials telling, "There's

nothing outside about people who are members of unions in Arkansas. I

don't know what she's talking about."

An overnight snap poll for Research 2000/Democracy for America is

giving Lieutenant Governor Halter a two-point lead, 48-46 over Lincoln.

Forty-six percent in that poll also saying Senator Lincoln is on the side

of the lobbyists versus 42 percent believing she's on the side of

Democratic voters. Eighty-seven percent believe health care reform was

important, 52 percent saying the reform law passed by Congress which the

senator did not exactly encourage, does not go far enough.

In Pennsylvania, according to the recent Research 2000 poll taken for

Daily Kos before the primary, Congressman Sestak polled better against the

Republican nominee Pat Toomey than did Senator Specter, down five points.

In Kentucky, Democratic nominee Jack Conway polling within the margin

of error against the flavor of the month, Dr. Paul.

Despite all that, Republicans today are spinning all primary results

as their first step back towards taking back Congress in November.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MINORITY LEADER: I do think that we will

reclaim the majority. But last night is evidence of the fact that we've

got a lot of work to do and we just can't get ahead of ourselves.

REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: And here's hoping that this Congress

and this administration heeds the voice of the American people.


OLBERMANN: Time now to heed the voice of our political analyst,

Richard Wolffe, the author of "Renegade: The Making of a President."

Richard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Despite the running hot and cold talk of anti-incumbent

fervor and fever, is there any real equivalence between the purgings that

the GOP has now experienced on the right of their own party and the forces

that drove Democratic primary voters to choose Sestak and to - at least to

the point of having a runoff, Lieutenant Governor Halter?

WOLFFE: Well, purging is a good term for it because you're seeing a

consistency and an ideological approach on the Republican side that isn't

as consistent but is still ideological to a degree on the Democratic side.

There is something ideological going on here, let's face it.

In Arkansas, Blanche Lincoln has run into trouble because of her

opposition from labor unions. They don't like her positions. But there is

nothing that is that consistent, nothing even that successful. Remember,

she's still ahead the first round stage, and that may well be the saving

grace for Democrats because you've got on the other side this very uniform

litmus test approach that's going on, pushing Republicans out of the

mainstream, away from independent voters who decide these things.

On a Democratic side, much more of a patchwork - what we're seeing

across the country is that people want local candidates speaking about

local issues, and that's exactly why the Pennsylvania 12th district was so

important. This was not a regular litmus-tested Democrat who won there.

OLBERMANN: Does the local issues thing apply in Kentucky? I mean,

Tim Kaine seemed to be relishing the idea of getting Rand Paul, who focused

on the tea party in his acceptance speech last night, not on Kentucky.

There was a lot made of turnout last night in Kentucky, even though,

usually in the primaries in Kentucky, Democrats outnumber Republicans by a

ratio of about three to two. Do Democrats have an actual shot of winning

Jim Bunning's seat in Kentucky?

WOLFFE: Yes, they do. Jim Bunning squeaked by in both his elections.

The race is really close now. And, yes, if this comes down to Kentucky

politics and Kentucky issues, then what are people going to make about Rand

Paul, for instance, saying that he doesn't support corporate taxes of any

kind? Wanting to talk about the Department of Education.

You know, you can campaign on your ideological tests about the

deficit, the federal deficit. But this is a moment where people are

concerned with themselves, their own pocketbook issues, and it's got to be

micro. This is a patchwork approach to politics, running the national

issues, whether it's tea party or Nancy Pelosi, it's just not working.

OLBERMANN: All right. What about health care? Was that what happen

in Arkansas in this first stage before we get to our second primary?

WOLFFE: To a degree it is. But Blanche Lincoln is this establishment

figure. Again, you got this voter distrust of the establishment. And, you

know, labor union support is still strong in Arkansas. There's a populist

piece of it that she didn't get, and I think the polling there when it

talks about support for lobbyists and looking after voters' interests, she

fails on those key tests.

Now, the momentum is clearly going to be there. If you don't make 50

points when you are the incumbent in this kind of race, you're weakened.

There's blood in the water.

OLBERMANN: And in the Pennsylvania 12th, despite how that turned out,

House Republicans saying the first indication they have that they might

reclaim the majority in the House in November. Did they get a different

result? Were they handed some other broadcast?

WOLFFE: You know, if they want to feel confident on the back of a

losing race in a district that Barack Obama lost and John Kerry won, then,

you know, their strategy is on another planet. And it is not the path of

victory for them.

But, hey, again, this may be the saving grace for Democrats.

Republicans just don't see it coming because they're so confident in


OLBERMANN: The GOP, too big to fail. I think that's early

frontrunner motto.

MSNBC's Richard Wolffe, the author of "Renegade" - as always, many

thanks, Richard.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: If last night was, by almost all accounts, a good time for

mainstream Democratic ideas, it should follow that passing the Wall Street

reform bill would only serve to help Democratic candidates win in November.

Small problem in making that happen.

This afternoon, Senate Democrats failing to get the 60 votes they

needed to move the Wall Street reform bill to the floor for debate, largely

because two Democrats helped block it. That bill falling short in this

afternoon's cloture vote, 57-42. Two Republicans voted with the Democrats,

Senators Snowe and Collins of Maine.

As we mentioned, the two Democrats joining with the Republicans to

block it, Senators Feingold and Cantwell. Senator Specter is still in

Pennsylvania after last night's election did not vote. Majority Leader

Reid is also voting no but only for procedural reasons so he can call

another procedural vote later on. It's in "Robert's Rules of Order" if you

need more info.

As to Senator Cantwell, this week having been threatening to block the

bill if her amendment that would reinstate a Depression-era law preventing

banks from owning other kinds of financial firms did not get a vote.

Over the weekend, Senator Feingold up for re-election in Wisconsin,

having said that he would vote against any bill that did not providing

enough strong regulation, earlier this month, comparing the Wall Street

reform bill, official title the Restoring American Financial Stability Act,

to Bush era frippery. Quoting him, "Naming a bill does not make it a good

bill as we found from 'No Child Left Behind.' It's got to be the substance

and I'm concerned the name is greater than what it really does at this


Earlier tonight, the majority leader is blaming not the Democrats but

the Republicans.


REID: Today, as a vote demonstrated, Republicans want to do the

bidding of the big bank executives who have been calling in the last 48

hours. They've called me. I know they're calling. They want to let Wall

Street off the hook, not hold it accountable.


OLBERMANN: To analyze the moving parts here, let's turn to Ezra Klein

of "Newsweek" and "The Washington Post," who blogs about economic and

domestic policy for the newspaper, including in his new morning rundown

called "Wonkbook."

Ezra, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Well, I'm confused about this. I mean, making -

KLEIN: Aren't we all?

OLBERMANN: Once again. Making sure we don't have a repeat of the

recession we're in today, never mind a near depression or an actual one,

making sure there does not need to be another bailout, running on a

platform to emphasize that - would that sort of help the Democrats in the

November midterms? Or is that too national to be of concern to the people

who are suffering from the current economic conditions street by street in

the country?

KLEIN: If they can explain it, it will help them. Financial

regulation reform has been a remarkable political moment because it is some

of the only legislation I can remember - at least in the Obama era - that

has gotten much stronger as it has sat there. Normally, these things

weaken when they sit out in the Senate. They get chipped away out by

amendments. They get attacked by the minority and sort of smeared on, you

know, some other cable channels.

But this one, it's been sort of like the incredible hulk of

legislation. The longer it's been out there, the angrier people get. And

the angrier people get, the stronger it gets.

And so, the bill at week two and week four and week six has been

better than before. So, it seems to me that the politics pretty clearly

seem to be that you make this bill stronger and the senators are sensing

that from their home states.

OLBERMANN: With the stipulation that - I would never doubt Senator

Feingold's intent on this, nor, in fact, Senator Cantwell's idea on this -

is this reform to some degree like health care reform before it, endangered

of being the victim of - as they said of the - the perfect might be the

enemy of the good? You get two Democrats blocking the bill. How much more

compromise needs to happen to get them on board to pass this, at least to

get this past cloture?

KLEIN: I don't believe so. So, on health care reform, what was going

on was, you know, these amendments were very controversial. And if they

came in, there were words that could sink the bill; if they took them out,

there were words they could sink the bill. It had to do with the senators


What Reid is worried about here is time. Next week, the Senate wants

to do an expansion or elongation of jobless benefits and then more

supplemental. And so, they want to finish this bill this week so they can

move on to those next week and they go home by Memorial Day.

These are important amendments that Feingold and Cantwell want to put

out there. And if it means the Senate has to work past Memorial Day -

well, I'm sorry, my heart bleeds for them, but this is important stuff


So, I actually don't think so. We're dealing with a situation where

the amendments are so controversial that they could sink the bill. We're

dealing with the situation where time is so compressed that the leadership

wants to move on from the bill. And I think those two are quite different.

OLBERMANN: The Republican opposition, save for the two Maine

senators, it seems like a cliche that this is something on behalf of the

status quo for the banking industry, but that seems like the only

explanation. Is it the correct one?

KLEIN: Well, I never like to underestimate how much Republicans do

things, not based on policy - and Democrats too - but based on electoral

politics, right? I think Republicans have been a little bit confused by

this one, because what you normally do, what you did on health care is you

oppose the bill and thus you make it look extreme and you get people fired

up against it and you make it into a political loser for Democrats, even if

they pass it.

In this case, they're sort of against the bill but they haven't been

able to make it into a political loser. So, they're caught in a place of

semi-opposition where they're not being loudly opposed and some of them are

actually crossing over. But if they all embrace it, then it's a huge win

for the Democrats so they can't really do that either.

What has been notable, I think, about Republicans on financial

regulation is that after Mitch McConnell's original bailout speech, they've

pretty much been quiet.

OLBERMANN: And what happens now with Senator Dodd's drop back on his

plan to scale-back Senator Lincoln's idea which would really regulate

scale-back derivative trading? Is the Lincoln amendment a viable thing?

Is it dependent on what happens in the runoff in Arkansas? What are the


KLEIN: The politics of that is very rich. The Lincoln amendment

which will make it so banks couldn't have derivates swaps desk and would

have to spin off, that has been opposed by the White House, opposed by

treasury, opposed by pretty much all the big players and by Chris Dodd for

that matter. But they've not been able to take it out because it's bad

politics to make the derivatives portion seem weaker, whether or not you

agree that it's a good thing or not, and because Lincoln is vulnerable.

Now, she's in a runoff.

The place where I advise you to look is conference committee. So you

could see that moved around in conference committee. But right now, we

just don't know.

OLBERMANN: Ezra Klein of "The Washington Post" and "Newsweek" as

always, making this stuff intelligible to us - great thanks, Ezra.

KLEIN: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: The sleazy saga of Eric Massa and his resignation had the

House minority leader demanding a full investigation. The sleazy saga of

Mark Souder and his resignation and his mistress' resignation? Not so

much. It doesn't tickle his fancy, no doubt.


OLBERMANN: It is the question he asked when a Democratic congressman

resigned after improprieties with his staffers. After a Republican

congressman resigned after improprieties with his staffer, what did this

man know and when did he know it?

It was just supposed to be a photo op, a little girl from Maryland's

second grade class and the first lady and then the little girl said

something about how her mother didn't have papers and how her mother had

told her Obama was going to take away everybody who didn't have papers.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez on the human tragedy we saw today over

Arizona S.B. 1070.

The teacher uses presidential assassination as a practical

illustration of geometry. Superintendent of the school says he'll talk to

the teaching, nothing else. Then the world chimes in. Tonight, the

superintendent decides on something else.

And his new ad concludes thusly, politicians in Washington have a

choice: keep bowing to the demands of big oil or stand up to the American

people. You can tip the balance. Tell President Obama to lean toward a

clean energy future. Our special guest tonight: Robert Redford.


OLBERMANN: Amid yesterday's primary fury, one congressman announced

his resignation because of an extramarital affair with a female staff


And in our fourth story tonight: there is an apparent gap between the

time that at least one Republican leader learned of the affair and when

appropriate action was taken.

The congressman, Mark Souder of Indiana, had been confronted by senior

members of his staff, according to "The New York Times." After initial

denial, Souder eventually admitted the relationship. And on Monday, House

Minority Leader John Boehner reportedly referred the matter to the House

Ethics Committee after a discussion with Souder that same day.

Yesterday, Souder announced his resignation, effective this Friday.


REP. MARK SOUDER (R), INDIANA: I sinned against God, my wife and my

family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff.

In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is

seized upon, twisted for political gain. I'm resigning rather than put my

family through a painful, drawn out process of which any legal question

would have been clearly resolved and I would have been exonerated. But the

political price to pay and the person price of my family was not worth it.


OLBERMANN: And the obligatory context, Congressman Souder had made

this video in which he advocated for abstinence education. This is a

staged interview with the female staffer with whom he had the affair.

Souder had also consistently pushed family values.

Back to the timeline. Today, House Minority Leader Boehner said the

affair was confirmed to him on Saturday after he had heard rumors a day or

two before that, that may different from "The Times'" account. Souder

informed Congressman Mike Pence of the affair last Wednesday, according to

our next guest, Dave Weigel of "The Washington Post." Congressman Souder

resigned six days after that notification of Pence.

An ethics inquiry of a congressman normally ends when that congressman

resigns, but that did not stop the GOP from insisting on a continued

investigation of Congressman Eric Massa, even after he resigned following

allegations that he sexually harassed staffers. Back then, Republicans

were interested in what Democratic leaders knew and when they knew it.

Let's bring in, as promised, political reporter of "The Washington

Post," author of the blog "Right Now," David Weigel.

Dave, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Can you amplify on this timeline issue first? Congressman

Pence learned of the affair last Wednesday. Why the information did not

reach Minority Leader Boehner until Saturday or maybe Monday?

WEIGEL: Well, this came up at a press conference with Pence today.

It was actually Luke Russert of NBC who posed this question. And Pence

gave us that timeline. He followed up later, his office contacted me later

and said, what happened was Souder explained some of the situation but not

all of it. Not the part about a staffer until the weekend. And that's

when Pence and apparently, also Boehner went to the ethics committee.

That was the sticking point, whether or not this was a staff member.

That's the part that makes it illegal. An affair, actually, despite what

happened with Bill Clinton, not illegal. Something with a staffer, that

was the problem. That's what moved them.

OLBERMANN: And also, I mean, there are, to some degree, degrees about

this. There's a difference between the allegation of sexual harassment

which forced Congressman Massa of New York out of office and a consensual

affair which appears to be the case with Congressman Souder, whether it was

staff or not. But the minority leader and minority whip insisted that the

investigation surrounding Massa should continue even after Massa was no

longer a member of the House.

I mean, do they look like hypocrites if they don't take the same

stance now about Souder?

WEIGEL: Well, Democrats are hoping that they do. I mean, they

haven't decided quite yet how to move, but they are not happy with the way

the Massa thing turned out. They thought they solved the problem, the guy

was gone. This whole "Watergate, when did they know it, what did they

know" thing, they're not happy. But they're not moving because this is a

little bit - this is a little bit different.

But it - you know, you're right - you're right about parts of this.

It's interesting, because we don't know everything about what happened with

Souder yet. This assistant, the part-time staffer who did these interviews

with him - one of the interviews, they talk about other reporting they've

done and trip to the border to monitor things. It's really unclear how

much - how much contact he had with her, when he had it.

So, they tried to triage and get rid of this right away. I mean, this

is another example of Republicans being better at politics in some ways

than Democrats. But, you know, they're kind of lucky this happened on

election day. Otherwise, we would be asking more questions.

OLBERMANN: Well, you also wrote today of this little sort of side,

bizarre show here, the response by a conservative group called Concerned

Women of America. And they put a statement that reads in part, "If Mark

Souder is capable of sexual misconduct, it could happen to anyone. The

frat House environment on Capitol Hill does nothing to encourage


That's the just oddest tone to follow up something like this that I've

ever heard. What - how would you characterize that approach to this?

WEIGEL: It's not as uncommon as you think. I mean, it was jarring

because that's not what is said when Democrats engage in this behavior.

But conservatives are often forgiving of really holy rolling, crusading

Republicans who find themselves falling off the wagon - whatever the

metaphor is for this particular sort of escapade. I mean, David Vitter is

still in the Senate. John Ensign is still in the Senate.

Vitter, larger part than Ensign, is in there because he moved to the

right after kind of revealing that he had dealings with a prostitute. And

he was forgiven by James Dobson and the rest of the movement because he's

been such a warrior on some of the issues they care about.

Souder was - as you point out on this video, warrior for pro - you

know, all abstinence education, abstinence only education, war against -

the war on drugs, very, very socially conservative. When he ran a

subcommittee that's what all his hearings were about. So, there was this -

they'd like to forgive him. I mean, I think the movement's a little bit

disappointed that he can't survive.

But what they're probably - what will end up happening is there will

be a more conservative member who ends up getting his seat in Indiana, very

little in the way of repercussions.

OLBERMANN: Well, and by the way, we have a ruling from the head

office here, the phrase you're looking for is: "Falling off the wagon and

then rolling in the hay."

Dave Weigel of "The Washington Post" - thanks, Dave.

WEIGEL: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: The newest face of the crime that is now the law in

Arizona, the first lady hears a Maryland second grader explained that her

mommy says Obama is taking everybody away that doesn't have papers. And

her mommy doesn't have papers. Congressman Luis Gutierrez - ahead on



OLBERMANN: If your heart did not break a little when you heard this

or if it does not break a little when you see this next - check to see if

it's still there. Michelle Obama and the Maryland second grader who's

worried about her mommy because her mommy doesn't have papers.

And in the wake of his new ad calling on YouTube, tipped the balance,

tell President Obama to lead America toward a clean future. Our special

guest: Robert Redford.


OLBERMANN: At this hour, the White House hosting the state dinner for

the president and the First Lady of Mexico. And while tonight the focus

will be on the spectacle sure rounding such a state visit, earlier the

attention was on Arizona's show me your papers law. Our third story in the

Countdown, as two presidents denounce that law, the real-life implications

of the anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic act playing out not in the White House

garden, but at an elementary school in Silver Spring, Maryland. A second

grader asks Mrs. Obama if her mother will be deported.

At a joint news conference earlier, the president calling the Arizona

law a, quote, "misdirected expression of frustration" at a broken

immigration system. While Mexico President Felipe Calderon chastised it as

discriminatory, strongly rejecting the state's attempt to, what he called,

criminalize migration.

Meanwhile, at New Hampshire Estates Elementary School in nearby

Maryland, the First Lady, along with the First Lady of Mexico, Margarita

Zavala, attending an event promoting exercise and healthy eating habits.

As the first two ladies sat down for some comments and questions with the

students, one of the second graders shared her anxiety over the anti-

immigrant fervor with the First Lady.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mom said that I think that she - she says

that Barack Obama's taking everybody away that doesn't have papers.


something that we have to work on. Right? To make sure that people can be

here with the right kind of papers. Right? That's exactly right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mommy doesn't have papers.

OBAMA: Well, we have to work on that. We have to fix that.

Everybody's got to work together in Congress to make sure that happens.

That's right.


OLBERMANN: Joining me now, Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois.

Thanks, again, for some of your time tonight, congressman.

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you so much for having me.

OLBERMANN: Just the proverbial little child shall lead us; did we

just witness a key moment in this debate?

GUTIERREZ: You know, I'm going to tell you something. I have a funny

feeling that you can be a member of Congress and get arrested in front of

the White House and the message doesn't get through. You - I mean, so

many things. You can have 200,000 people on the mall. You can have

millions of people march on the street. And it doesn't get through.

And yet a seven-year-old little girl can kind of synthesize

everything, right, both what is wrong and why we need to act.

OLBERMANN: What needs to happen as a result of that? Does it need to

be discussed? Do people need to see the tape? Or is there something to be

done with her story, what she faces, and obviously what her mother faces?

GUTIERREZ: Look, she's part of the reason we need comprehensive

immigration reform. But, Keith, I've visited 30 cities. We named the

campaign Familias Unitas, United Families. Why? Because of the

destructive nature that our broken immigration system has on our families.

Now, there are many politicians that tout family values. Well, what's

family values in regard to our immigration policy when you listen to that

little child? That little child says, don't take my mommy away. You know?

And I've come here. You're the First Lady of the United States. And

what's on her mind? Education? No. A new house? No. A car? No.

What surrounds that child's every day life is am I going to lose.

And, Keith, I think she helps us tell a story because I fail to believe -

I just can't believe that the American public, if it understood there are

5.5 million American citizen children whose parents don't have documents,

and that her story, unfortunately, Keith, is not unique, time and time


So, you know, I love the grace with which the First Lady responded.

That's tough. That's got to be tough as a mother, a loving mother of her

two beautiful daughters. It's got to be tough for the First Lady. But at

the same time, we have to say President Barack Obama made a promise. He

said I will lead you out of the shadows into the light of day. I will end

the exploitation, and I will stop the separations of your family. He

needs, I think, to do more.

Having said that, look, John McCain doesn't help very much when he

walks away from the table. And, you know, the fact that the president is

trying. I think he needs to try harder and work harder at it, because

that's what an extraordinary president does. But let's face it,

Republicans who are always talking about family values and the essence of

family, right - well, that's that little kid, her love, her unity with her

mother. I think they're really lacking in not responding to her.

OLBERMANN: Yep. That's who you're walking away from. While I have

you, I must ask you about the boycott of the boycott. The call for the

boycott of Arizona, you were part of that to some minor degree. I was.

Many important leaders were. Los Angeles announced it would do it last

week. And the city gets a quarter of its power from three plants in

Arizona. Now the Arizona Corporation Commission is threatening to turn off

the flow of Arizona electricity to Los Angeles in response. Can they do

that? Is there something Congress can do to step in?

GUTIERREZ: You know something? I certainly hope there's something we

can do about it. Look, the free flow of ideas should be the free flow of

ideas. Energy and energy policy should not be something that is used

against the population. It should not be a whipping - not be used to whip

the people of Los Angeles because they've expressed their opinion on the


The issue is one that many of us believe in. Are we going to bring

darkness where we need light? I think not. I don't think that's the

appropriate response.

OLBERMANN: Good imagery there too. As a guy who was living in

California in 2000, the last thing the state of Arizona needs to do now is

look like Enron did in 2000, with rolling blackouts.

GUTIERREZ: What a great comment. Yes.

OLBERMANN: That's where that idea comes from.


OLBERMANN: Congressman Luis Gutierrez, the Democrat of Illinois,

always a pleasure, sir. Thanks for your time.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: The Gulf disaster, he says, in a new commercial, is more

than a terrible oil spill. Tell President Obama to lead America toward a

clean energy future. Our special guest tonight, Robert Redford.

Don't know much about geometry, but apparently it turns out you can't

use it to teach students how to assassinate the president. I'm sure the

red eyes are just a bad photo.

When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, they dissed him and his

dad for years. Now, today, he is the pride and joy of the Republican

party. Her guest, Dr. Rand Paul.


OLBERMANN: Literally a day late, the school system does something

about the teacher who showed his class how to use geometry to assassinate

the president. Worsts, then Robert Redford on green energy.

First, no, that is not your water coming to a boil. It's our nightly

checkup on the something for nothing crowd. It is Tea Time. A good thing

this group is cleaning up its act. It's not racist. That is a figment of

my imagination. I look at the blog of the chairman of the Tea Party

Express showing his inclusiveness over the plan approved by the local

community board to build a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero.

Here is Tea Party Express Chairman Mark Williams showing that Tea

Party tolerance. Quote, "the monument would consist of a mosque for the

worship of the terrorist monkey God. Repeat, the terrorists monkey God.

If you feel that fits a description of Allah, then that is your own deep

emotional baggage, not mine. Talk to the terrorists who use Allah as their

excuse, and the Muslims who apologize for it, and rationalize them," end

parenthesis, "and a cultural center to propagandize for the extermination

of all things not approved by their cult."

Your Tea Party dollars in action. Then there's the story from Hawaii.

An eleventh grader is assigned a project on propaganda, and he produces

this. Not the most complimentary of things to the Tea Party. But it turns

out the kid's partners in the project produced pro-Tea Party literature and

conducted talks with other students in the class. The point was

propaganda. Not according to Tea Party Hawaii. "The very content of the

poster exemplifies the student's gross lack of understanding about what the

party is all really all about."

So wrote the tea party's president even as his knee jerked his pen out

of his hand. Dissent is patriotic, they like to remind us, their dissent.

Not anybody else's, even if it really isn't dissent.


OLBERMANN: In a new advertisement, he calls the disaster in the Gulf,

quote, "the product of a failed energy policy, one that puts oil company

profits ahead of people and the environment." Robert Redford, our special

guest, next.

But first tonight's worst persons in the world. The bronze to Little

Miss Bendy Straws, appearing on Fixed News a little after 9:00 pm Eastern

last night to discuss the special election in the Pennsylvania 12th, where

the aide to the late Jack Murtha, Mark Critz, faced Republican Tim Burns

for a seat in Congress right now. Her enabler, Mr. Hannity, said, "if

Burns pulls this off tonight, what would that say to you?"

She replied, in her usual inimitable gibberish, "I think Burns will

pull this off tonight. And just like the Rand-slide that we were just

talking about, you're going to see Burns having this representation of a

smaller, smarter government, getting the economy back on the right track

with some limited overreach of the government. That's what Burns stands

for. We need someone like Tim Burns in there. And you're going to see

that via vote today with the electorate."

Critz 53 percent, Burns 44 percent, a Critz-slide. That woman is an


The runner up, the chicken lady. This just keeps getting better and

better. Nevada Republican Senate Wannabe Sue Lowden can't stop, can't

stop, can't stop.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said, the olden days, you took a chicken to

the doctor, I'm not backing down from that system.

SUE LOWDEN (R), CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: No, I never said from that



LOWDEN: I never said from that system.


OLBERMANN: OK, roll 'em.


LOWDEN: In the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a

chicken to the doctor. They would say I'll paint your house. They would

do - that's the old days of what people would do to get health care with

their doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people. I'm not backing down

from that system.


OLBERMANN: Just in case you missed that, let's edit the highlights



LOWDEN: I'm not backing down from that system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said the olden days, we took a chicken to the

doctor, I'm not backing down from that system.

LOWDEN: No, I never said from that system. I never said from that


LOWDEN: I'm not backing down from that system.


OLBERMANN: So, Sue Lowden, the chicken lady, just became Sue Lowden

the liar lady.

But our winner, Phil Hammons (ph), the superintendent of schools in

Jefferson County, Alabama. He's the guy who, at first, dismissed the idea

that one of his teachers had done anything untoward by teaching his

students math using a practical example. The kids in Gregory Harrison's

geometry class in Corner High School were joking about President Obama, so,

according to senior Joseph Brown. Mr. Harrison started "talking about

angles and said if you're in this building you would need to take this

angle to shoot the president."

Secret Service was notified, found no threat. The superintendent, Mr.

Hammons, initially responded by saying he'd have a long talk with Harrison.

Now, finally, he's put Harrison on administrative leave. The point about

Obama is obvious. But here's a bigger point. What in the hell is a

teacher in a public school doing illustrating a geometry lesson by talking

about how to assassinate anybody? And why in the hell isn't that obviously

unacceptable to the school superintendent? Phil Hammons, the

superintendent of schools of Jefferson Country, Alabama, today's worst

person in the world.


OLBERMANN: Amid growing outcry over how the government and BP have

kept people out of the loop, we learned today that the Gulf oil spill is

now confirmed to be in the loop. The spill having now reached the so-

called Loop Current, the current that carries water to the Florida Keys and

the Gulfstream. In our number one story tonight, both Republicans and

Democrats today are saying the Obama administration has not released enough

information, has not taken enough action before or after to prevent and

clean up this disastrous spill. Robert Redford joins us presently.

Today, ten environmental groups called on President Obama to take the

reins in the Gulf and no longer let BP run the monitoring or testing there,

and to release all the findings so far. Mr. Redford, with the Natural

Resources Defense Council, asking the president to get tough with big oil.


ROBERT REDFORD, ACTOR: The Gulf disaster is more than a terrible oil

spill. It's the product of a failed energy policy, one that puts oil

company profits ahead of the people and the environment. America needs a

safe, clean and renewable energy, not more oil spills. That means

politicians in Washington have a choice: keep bowing to the demands of big

oil or stand up for the American people.

Tell President Obama to lead America towards a clean energy future.


OLBERMANN: BP is preparing to try a new capping method, it says,

called top kill that would smother the surge in heavier material, and then

seal it with cement. The administration has down-played reports of an

underwater plume resulting from the spewing oil, telling "Huffington Post"

it believes most of the oil to be on the surface, and the researchers who

have found it, reportedly, have been told to stop speaking to the media.

The blog "Fire Dog Lake" has now turned up a 2000 field test by the

MMS, along with big oil, including BP. It shows they knew deep water

spills could lead to massive, submerged plumes of oil, because oil and gas

behave differently at depths of great pressure and low temperature. We

learned today that MMS specifically warned BP about the Deep Water Horizon


To quote, "exercise caution while drilling, due to indications of

shallow gas." Gas which could end up igniting to deadly effect. So much

so that it's Republicans now calling for more government spending and

Washington bureaucracy.


REP. JOHN MICA (R), FLORIDA: We're here to get the facts. I'm not

going to point fingers at BP, the private industry, when it's government's

responsibility to set the standards, to do the inspections. I haven't

gotten into the lack of inspections that they didn't conduct and should

have conducted.


OLBERMANN: As promised, we're now joined by long time environmental

activist, Robert Redford, a trustee of the board of the National Resources

Defense Council, also an Oscar winning director, and a genuine old school

movie star. Mr. Redford, it is a pleasure. Thanks for some of your time


REDFORD: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: In your ad, you've asked Americans to tell the president

to lead America towards a clean energy future. Expand upon that. What is

each in that equation supposed to do, in your opinion?

REDFORD: Well, the voters sent President Obama to Washington to be a

bold and visionary leader, and to do things that weren't being done or

couldn't be done by others before him. And I think that's what they want.

And they need more of that from him. He showed what he could do with the

health care bill when he put his energy behind it.

But in this case, I think, you know, we don't need a disaster manager.

We need a leader, somebody that's going to look ahead and see problems

before they arise, before they become catastrophes that cost money, lives

and well being and so on.

OLBERMANN: What does the viewer at home or the viewer of that spot

that you did do to affect that - get that message across to this

president, besides the votes they've already cast or the votes they will


REDFORD: Well, first of all, I think this is a great time - there's

kind of a wisdom around D.C., you know, a political wisdom that -

particularly with people that are more interested in preserving their seats

that this is not a time to have a bill, an energy bill. There's too

much going on. There's immigration. It's a midterm year and so forth. I

think wrong. I think now is exactly the time, because the American people

are really focused on this.

My voice is just one of many. I mean, the American people are raising

their voices. Otherwise, you wouldn't see all this jumping around by the

politicians trying to get on board a bandwagon that says we've got to do

something. I think this is a great time. I think when you ask what people

can do, I think the more they raise their voices, because they're focused

on this - and what a great time for Obama to act, what a great time to get

a bill passed, although they say it can't be, because the American people

are focused. And they want it. I believe that.

OLBERMANN: Yours of these voices is an informed voice. Can you

explain where you would stand on this newest call for what would seem to be

an automatic process here, that the government should be taking over the

complete operation in the Gulf and not leaving this to BP to clean up its

own spill, that it hasn't even stopped yet?

REDFORD: Well, yeah, you said it. The fact is that - it's pretty

obvious you can't expect BP to police themselves, nor most of the oil

companies. Look at Valdez, and look at Santa Barbara, Whitney, so forth.

In all those cases, they were policing themselves and look what happened.

That's a gone issue. I think there has to be more transparency. There

isn't. I think the American people deserve more transparency. I think the

government, including the administration, and certainly BP - although I

wouldn't count on it - but I think there has to be a lot more transparency

for us to get the facts of what's really happening. What about the tests

and so on?

OLBERMANN: You drew a line in this spot between the spill and the

failed energy policy. And I think that does kind of cut to the chase here.

And a lot of people aren't seeing that forest through the trees. When you

talk about the failed energy policy, is that 2008's failed energy policy or

is it 2010's failed energy policy.

REDFORD: Well, I'm actually talking about a failed energy policy that

goes back 30, 35 years. I think we've had either a non-policy or a poor

policy all that time. In the early '70s or in the '70s, there was an

attempt to get a policy that would get us off fossil fuels and focus on

clean renewable energy. It didn't pass. And I think we're now paying that


So I think now is the time. We could have been a world leader in

energy had we seized the reins then. You know, they say it's never too

late, but, boy, time's running out, that's for sure.

OLBERMANN: When Senator Salazar was named the new secretary of the

Interior when the Obama administration started, you were quoted as saying

you think very highly of him. What did you think of his reforms or the

lack of reforms he effected prior to this spill? It seems he's been

playing catchup here. Is that a fair assessment? People tend to throw out

the names of potential scapegoats every day at something like this, but is

there blame to be placed on his doorstep?

REDFORD: Oh, there's no problem placing blame. It's all over the

place. But the problem is where it goes. Look, I have to - I'm slightly

prejudiced about Secretary Salazar because he did something I thought was

very bold and smart and quick and that is the - my interest is very strong

in wilderness areas and protecting wilderness and western lands. And there

was a sneaky move made by Bush the night of the elections, when he thought

nobody was looking or the administration thought nobody was looking. They

tried to open up 350,000 acres for oil and gas leasing in and around

national parks and monuments and wilderness areas.

So Salazar stopped it. And I will be grateful to him for that. Then,

of course, what you see recently, you know, whether or not anybody is slow

to the game or not, I don't know. We see that he's focused on the Mineral

Management Services Agency and their failure, and certainly they've proven

to be not only corrupt but ineffectual. And he's already taking a look at

that to decide what needs to be done to reform that agency within the

government. So those are two moves that I think are good and the rest of

it, I don't know.

OLBERMANN: What do we do about drilling in the immediate future? Do

we need to shut down until there are more emergency plans in places for

things like this when they happen next time?

REDFORD: I think so. I think it's pretty obvious. Let's face it,

the fact is we've been living with an energy policy recently, in the last

few years, that was designed by Cheney. And he did it behind closed doors,

in secret, with energy company executives, without the press being able to

witness, without the public knowing what was going on. So transparency has

been an issue for a long, long time.

OLBERMANN: Robert Redford, actor and environmental activist, my

apologies, I guess we had a technical glitch there. In any event, we thank

you for your time.

REDFORD: You're sure welcome.

OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for the 2,575th day since the previous

president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good

night and good luck.