Wednesday, June 30, 2010

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
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Video via MSNBC: Twitter Report, Oddball, Worst Persons

Special Comment:
GOP introduces 'screw you' economics
via YouTube, h/t fferkleheimer

Guests: John Wathen, Bill Press, David Kiley



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

Day 72 and new almost unbelievable images from deep in the Gulf, 17 miles from shore, 23 miles from shore.


JOHN WATHEN, ALABAMA CONSERVATIONIST: Some of it looked more like bruised internal organs of the human body than the surface of the ocean.


OLBERMANN: Fire from sea, like something out of "Apocalypse Now."

And worst yet, the only signs of life are signs of death.


WATHEN: Then there was this pod of dolphins found later, some are already dead, some in their death throes.


OLBERMANN: Our special guest, the man who photographed and narrated the horror, John Wathen.

And all that is headed inland. Tonight, deep sea oil disaster plus category one hurricane equal onshore oil disaster. Just two or three feet and the wetlands are finished.


ADM. THAD ALLEN, COAST GUARD: We fully expect that if there's a two or three storm surge, we could see oil moving further inland or in the marshes where we hadn't had an experience with that before.


OLBERMANN: And still, GOP fights for the underdog, the corporations.

The financial reform bill?


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: This is killing an ant with a nuclear weapon.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do you think the financial crisis was an ant and we just need a little ant swatter to fix this thing?


OLBERMANN: Mr. President, maybe he meant giant irradiated atomic death ants from hell.


OBAMA: You can't be that out of touch.


OLBERMANN: Yes, he can.

Tonight, the Democrats again try to re-establish jobless benefits. Another "Special Comment": you may have lost a job. But business just gained a great full freelancer. Besides, says Sharron Angle, there are jobs for you to get. You're just "spoiled" by the system of entitlement.

Beck's paranoia rally at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47 anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. He forgot to get the permit. Our guest: Bill Frist.

And, yes, it's a flying car.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four wheels on the ground. It's a car and a plane.


OLBERMANN: It's a floor wax and a dessert topping.

All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: High flyer on the unlimited highways of the sky.




OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.

BP's disaster response plan for the Gulf of Mexico having been absolutely no mention of what the company would do in the event of a hurricane. Walruses? Yes. Hurricanes? No.

Our fifth story tonight, with a category two storm about to make land fall along the Texas/Mexico border, BP forced to - just as it has with almost everything else in the last 10 weeks - make it up as they and the terrorized citizens of the Gulf go along.

The first storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season sparing the Deepwater Horizon a direct hit this time as the waves, as you see, hit South Padre Island in Texas as we speak. Alex is projected to stay far from the spill zone off the Louisiana coast.

But the storm's outer edges are still complicating the cleanup. Along beaches, rough seas and high waves bringing even more tar balls ashore than ever before; wind and rain largely keeping workers from cleaning up the crude.

In Grand Isle, Louisiana, one marine science technician describes the mess as a huge setback. To quote him, "The sad thing is that it's been about three weeks since we had any big oil come in here. With this weather, we lost all the progress we made."

One possible benefit mentioned again today, scientists also saying that the rough seas and winds could help break apart the oil, making it evaporate faster. And we keep the lens clean at all times.

At the site of the leak, oil collection volumes lower today because of lightning strikes. In addition, skimming efforts off the coast in four states mostly halted today as the storm was approaching.

The government's point man on the spill saying getting these skimming efforts up and running again is a priority.


ALLEN: The big focus of our operations right now would be on water skimming, try to deal with the oil as far off shore as we can. We're being inhibited right now by the weather.


OLBERMANN: For more on the situation along the coast, let's turn now to MSNBC science and environment expert , Jeff Corwin, who's at Pensacola Beach for us this evening.

Good evening, Jeff.


OLBERMANN: The storm surge, what - what is it expected to actually do? What are the material results?

CORWIN: Keith, if you look behind me, you can actually see these waves have come alive as a result of Hurricane Alex. And, of course, I'm standing here on Pensacola Beach. This beach is famous for the ivory sand, but not today.

As these waves lap up into the shore, it brings up this incredibly toxic stuff. Can you see that, Keith?


CORWIN: This is crude that is washing with the lap of every additional wave on to this beach. And it stretches as far as my eyes can see and throughout this entire coastline. And as this storm gets more fears, it brings more of this crude.

And it's incredible to me, Keith, to think that this oil originated nearly 100 miles away from here. But it's tenacious stuff and it sticks to everything, to the sand, to the habitat, to the wildlife.

OLBERMANN: To that point, Jeff, is there any precedent for predicting the actual environmental impact of a category two storm mixing with that volume of oil that's on the surface - on the Gulf and in the water that's forced now behind you, and when all that stuff is forced into fragile ecosystems like marshes and such?

CORWIN: Keith, this is clearly the most devastating, unprecedented environment catastrophe our country has ever experienced. I think people don't truly recognize the importance of these Gulf waters. Seventy percent of our seafood, specifically our shellfish, our oyster, our shrimp, they grow in these waters.

The marshes and the estuaries, you just referred to, these are the nurseries for life. This is the place where little baby fish grow up and get their gumption so they can come up there and go out there and become big fish. This whole ecosystem not only supports wildlife, but it supports the livelihood, culturally and for generations, for thousands of thousands of people.

And this whole region is in jeopardy. There are over 400 different species in the line of fire this toxic crude. You know, I'm sitting here, Keith, and I'm holding this stuff. And, you know, I feel like I should be in, like, Central Park with my dog.


CORWIN: I keep reminding myself that this is the other version of that stuff. It is incredibly toxic. When it begins out there in the waters, it contains up to 100 different hydrocarbons from benzene to chromium, metals like mercury, all this stuff is very, very toxic. Not only at the surface of the water but throughout the entire water column. I think we are - we are in store for a truly - a truly devastating impact on our natural resources.

OLBERMANN: Let me explain one thing the viewers saw, Jeff, that you

would not have in our shot that we took from South Padre. What you saw

there, that sort of amorphous figure in the wind and the rain in Texas is,

in fact, our friend Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel. That's how bad -

now you see it - just bad it is down there.

But back to what we're looking at where Jeff is. This is the second time in two days I've heard this. This might help. The storm might help because it would help the oil evaporate if it breaks it up.

Does oil evaporate? And if it evaporates, is it necessarily a good thing that it evaporates?

CORWIN: Interesting question, Keith. When the evaporating process happens, it's usually at what they call the source, at the place where the oil is bubbling up. It begins at 5,000 feet at the bottom of the ocean. It makes its way to the surface. And very quickly, chemicals like benzene burn off.

But this stuff, it doesn't evaporate. In fact, as it's - as it's exposed to the sea, to the heat, to the salt water, it becomes pretty noxious stuff. It becomes what we call emulsified. And it will stick to anything.

For example, the bird stories that we've been featuring, for example, the Louisiana brown pelican, this is the state bird, OK? This is a bird that became nearly extinct in 1963. They recovered this bird. But now, it's facing another threat - again, one of many, many different species that are being attacked by this oil.

And, frankly, I'm not seeing it evaporate because of this hurricane. If anything, Keith, the hurricane makes cleaning up this mess even more of a challenge because when you have seas that are pushing from five feet to 12 feet, there's no way you can have the boats out there skimming. You can't have the first responders out there rescuing wildlife. This whole place right now is in the eye of this storm.

OLBERMANN: MSNBC's science and environment expert, Jeff Corwin, in Pensacola Beach, Florida, for us - thank you, Jeff.

CORWIN: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Some of the most devastating pictures yet of the extent of the damage being caused by this oil disaster is coming from an Alabama conservationist named John Wathen, who has been flying over the spill whenever he can to document independently exactly what is taking place. Footage shot last week posted on YouTube, this gentleman revealed that the devastation is worse than BP has been telling us and it possible that it is more extensive than many of us had feared.


JOHN WATHEN, ALABAMA CONSERVATIONIST: The further we got in the Gulf and the more consistent it came, at 17 miles out, it was obvious that the entire Gulf was covered at this point.

At 23 miles out, we encountered the heaviest sheen yet. The water was a deep purple, maroon, blue. It looked almost like a rainbow. The scope of this is beyond belief. It will take years at this rate to gather up even a portion of the oil that's on the surface today.

Some of it looks more like bruised internal organs of the human body than the surface of the ocean. And yet that's what it is.

The first time I came out, I saw a fire, there was only one. Today, when we got here, there were four. Within a couple of passes, there were seven.

From the size of these fires, it seems as though we're not only trying to kill everything in the Gulf of Mexico but everything that flies over it as well. This toxic environment can't be good for the birds that fly over the Gulf. And certainly nothing can live in these rainbows of death that cover the entire horizon.

As we look closer, we saw this pod of dolphins, obviously struggling just to breathe.

SUBTITLE: Thirty-six dolphins try to escape the BP slick. Eighteen dolphins in this pod.

WATHEN: Then we found this guy, a sperm whale swimming in the oil had just breached along his back where you see red patches of crude as if he had been basted for broiling.

Then there was this pod of dolphins found later, some already dead, some in the death throes. It seemed to be they were raising their heads and looking at the fires wondering, why is my world burning down around me? Why would humans do this to me?


OLBERMANN: Joining us now from Tuscaloosa, the man behind the remarkable video, John Wathen, conservationist with the Water Keeper Alliance.

Thanks for your time tonight, sir.

WATHEN: Thank you. I appreciate being here.

OLBERMANN: As I implied there, that's not even your most recent footage. Do the new images show any sign of improvement out there?

WATHEN: Not at all. If anything, things are getting worse.

When we first went out, there were bright red colors. There were vivid colors in the oil and there was some separation between the bands. The second time, it looked more like deep bruising on the skin. This time, when we went out there, it was - it was much wider. It was much widespread from a mile and a half off the shore to Gulf Shores, Alabama, all the way out to the rig some 90 miles away. We didn't fly over clean water one time.

OLBERMANN: The - obviously -

WATHEN: It is getting worse.

OLBERMANN: The thing that is resonating with people that have seen your video online, in particular, have been the dolphins. How many would you say you spotted and how many of them were already dead by the time you saw them?

WATHEN: Well, we couldn't get an accurate count on how many were actually dead. We had three people in the plane trying to count.

And we figure we saw over 100 dolphin that's were in distress. Some were obviously dead. They were belly up in the water. And there were several more that were in, you know, obvious distress. It looked to me as if they were in their death throes.

OLBERMANN: The burning of the oil, the use of the dispersants that obviously created the separations that you described, and now, just the sort of coating of the surface, wall to wall oil, is this an instance where the attempt of the cure, what BP is supposedly doing to clean up what it has spilled into the Gulf, that the cure is as bad if not worse than the original disease itself?

WATHEN: In my opinion, absolutely. This dispersant, we're putting so much of this stuff in at the source. What they're basically doing is just hiding it from sight. We're not seeing it on the surface anymore. So, it must not be as bad.

But it's robbing the water column of the oxygen. And we're seeing these huge plumes of oil underwater. And what you're seeing in Florida today, in my opinion, is where these plumes are coming from the Continental Shelf and boiling out into that shallow water.

I flew the Florida coast right after this video. And I had people actually in water that had oil in it. And you could see the sheen for miles and miles and miles out on the horizon. So, they can't see from the beach what I can see from the airplane. This thing is huge.

OLBERMANN: What happens when that hurricane blows that into more sensitive - as if the rest of the ecology wasn't sensitive enough - but into things like the marshlands, what happens to the marshlands? Do you have any guess?

WATHEN: Well, from what I heard from most of the locals down there and the people that really know the marshes and bayous, this is the worst possible scenario, is a weak storm like this because all it's doing is raising the tide and pushing the oil into the marshes without enough force to really break it up. We're pushing bulk into the marshes.

With the dispersant that's involved here, the oil, a lot of it is under the water and the booms had no effect with or without the waves. The oil was coming under the boom.

So now, there is nothing blocking it. All of that oil is going to be in our marshes. It's going to be in our estuaries. And there is nothing we can do about it.

OLBERMANN: How much do you think the fires, the burning off spread this into the environment in other ways? Do you have any way of measuring that?

WATHEN: I don't have any way of measuring it, Keith. But it's phenomenal when you get out there and you realize that these huge towering columns of smoke are coming from incredibly small fires on the horizon. When you look at the amount of oil that's out there, each one of those columns of smoke is nothing more than a tea cup in comparison. It will take thousands of these fires to burn all the oil on the Gulf of Mexico. This is - this is ludicrous.

We're toxifiying the atmosphere. We're killing everything in the Gulf of Mexico around this thing. It seems like we're trying to kill everything in the air, too. It's insane out there.

OLBERMANN: Indeed, it is. John Wathen, chronicler of that, resident of Alabama, member of the Water Keeper Alliance, his Website on the disaster is Mr. Wathen, great thanks for your time and we'll talk to you again when the next video gets out of there.

WATHEN: Thank you. It's an honor. I hope to have the next video out by the next week that will cover the Florida coastline. And then again, we want to go up right after this storm. I want to try to get down there and get as much of it as I can.

OLBERMANN: We'll talk you to then. Thank you, sir.

And yet, the GOP - excuse me - the GOBP continues to defend corporations. Another fight against jobless benefits, my "Special Comment."

And John Boehner describing reforming the rapaciousness of big banks as killing an ant with a nuclear weapon. Behold, it is Boehner, king of the ants. Next with Gene Robinson.


OLBERMANN: "I shall put antic disposition on," said Hamlet, fanning madness. No fanning here. The minority leader rushes to protect, the poor, defenseless ants, the big banks.

Small problem with the Lonesome Rhodes desecration of the Martin Luther King "I Have a Dream" speech, he hasn't gotten a permit yet to give his speech on the anniversary from the Lincoln Memorial. Bill Frist joins us.

This woman explains there are jobs for to those jobless who just lost their benefits. It's just that unemployed are too spoiled to take them. "Special Comment."

And she lifts from the obscurity of the FOX out of business channel by proposing to pay the national debt by raising taxes on those who pay the lowest taxes, the poor.

Ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: The man who would wind running the House of Representatives if Republicans win a majority this November compares the nation's financial meltdown to an ant.

So, in our fourth story tonight: what do his fellow Republicans do to distance themselves? They agree with him. The president today? Not quite.

It began with an interview on Monday reported yesterday, in which House Republican leader, John Boehner, was asked about the Democratic Wall Street reform bill after lamenting the Democrats general, you know, destruction of America, blah, blah, blah.


BOEHNER: They're snuffing out the America that I grew up in. And I went there because it's my job, and our job as a generation is to make sure those opportunities are available to us are available for our kids and grandkids. And it's not going to happen if they're imprisoned under a mountain of debt and regulations and bigger government.

REPORTER: Is that extensive Wall Street reform? Regulatory reform?

BOEHNER: This is - this is - this is killing an ant with a nuclear weapon.


OLBERMANN: Sir, Dan Aykroyd wants his cliched caricature back.

First, snuffing out the America he grew up in. Under two-term Republican President Eisenhower in 1959 when John Boehner was 10, the richest Americans paid 87 percent income tax - more than twice what they pay under that socialist, wealth-redistributing President Obama.

The so-called nuclear weapon which is actually roundly criticized for not doing enough to rein in the excesses that caused the financial meltdown passed the House late this afternoon. It might have passed the Senate before the Fourth of July as well, except that, first, Republicans objected to ending the bank bailout early, which would have saved taxpayers $11 billion. And then because Republican Scott Brown objected to paying for the new regulations with a tax on big banks and hedge funds.

Republicans instead put most of the burden on the bailout funds, reading taxpayers, and a new FDIC tax that would hit small Main Street banks.

Of almost 10 percent unemployment and a new survey showing one in 10 Americans have moved back in their folks and most Americans feeling some impact from the economy, you might expect Republicans to run away from Boehner's remarks, but there was Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday, blocking aid to homeless veterans and their children - seriously. And unemployment benefits about which more later in a "Special Comment," including the wisdom of Nevada Senate Republican candidate Sharron Angle, blaming unemployment on the appeal of unemployment benefits - which explains, you know, that zero unemployment rate during the Great Depression.

Nor did the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee repudiated Boehner's remarks, speaking after a fundraiser hosted by - come on - lobbyists for big banks.


REPORTER: This morning, it was reported that Minority John Boehner said bank reform is too broad. It's basically using a nuclear weapon on an ant do. You agree with that kind of sentiment?

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: Well, I basically agree with that.

I voted against it.


OLBERMANN: Promoting his economic policies today, President Obama was happy to share Mr. Boehner's thoughts.


OBAMA: The leader of the Republicans in the House said that financial reform was like, I'm quoting here, "using a nuclear weapon to target an ant." That's what he said. He compared the financial crisis to an ant.

You can't be that out of touch.

Do you think that the financial crisis was an ant and we just need a little ant swatter to fix this thing? Or do you think that we need to restructure how we regulate the financial system so you are on the hook again and we don't have this kind of crisis again?



OLBERMANN: Let's turn to MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson, also associate editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of "The Washington Post."

Great thanks for your time tonight, Gene.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith. Good to be here.

OLBERMANN: I think the president's mistaken about how out of touch John Boehner could be. But is he out of touch or is it really that he's just in touch with only a select few people and corporations as people in this nation?

ROBINSON: Well, you know, I think I'm going to have to go with out of touch because even if you assume that Boehner is referring to the traditional Republican stance of essentially representing big business and those folks, to say that publicly, to compare the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression to an ant, that to me just sounds out of touch, that displayed really thin here even for John Boehner.

OLBERMANN: But is this sort of the peril that tea party brings with it? Poll after poll shows the tea party is out of step with America virtually on every issue while claiming to represent, you know, the real America which is apparently what John Boehner had when he was 8 years old in Ohio and we still had Jim Crow and we had 87 percent tax rates.

Have - Republicans just not remember that there are non-tea party members of the Republican Party, let alone all those Democrats or independents?

ROBINSON: Well, I think they made a calculation. I mean, leaving aside what I think were remarks that had an impact that Boehner probably didn't intend, he didn't intend to sound that frankly stupid in making the ant reference, but living that aide, I think a calculation has been made to appeal to the faction of the Republican Party, of a faction supporting the Republican Party where you can find the energy and the passion. And there's a lot of energy and passion among the tea party people. And I think that's a big gamble, the gamble that people are so angry that - that they're willing to go all out anti-incumbent, anti-Democrat, even at the expense of position that they support.

And I - I'm not sure that as - that's a sensible gamble. But it seems to be one the party is taking.

OLBERMANN: One thing about the stupidity of that. Remember, he is talking at the Pittsburgh newspaper, vanity press.


ROBINSON: I notice that, yes.

OLBERMANN: So you have to be pretty stupid to get the point across to the "Tribune Review" people, that's the name of it.

But one other thing about Sharron Angle's statement, I'm going to go into this in-depth in a little bit. But she said Americans were spoiled, spoilage was the term, the way she used this term, spoilage over - unemployment is caused by unemployment benefits.

Can you explain to me based on all your years covering these things, why would anybody have created unemployment benefits if there had not previously been unemployment?

ROBINSON: Well, you keep giving me these missions impossible, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Yes. Yes, I do.

ROBINSON: I choose not to accept this one.

And, of course, that makes no sense. It is - it's not just a ridiculous thing to say. But the heartlessness and the lack of any sort of empathy that it implies, I think, it certainly will - at least to some extent - come back to haunt Sharron Angle and I suspect that Harry Reid is feeling a little bit better about his prospect today.

OLBERMANN: And it didn't occur also that unemployment benefits might be part of God's plan? Because she's always invoking God's plan for everything else. So -

ROBINSON: Why would God have give us unemployment benefits if he didn't intend for us to use them?

OLBERMANN: There you are. You finally got one right. Gene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of "The Washington Post" and also of MSNBC - thank you, Gene.

ROBINSON: Great to be here.

OLBERMANN: The bid to take a couple of the crumbs of jobless benefits back from the ants, the giant nuclear testing mutated 400-foot long ants. My "Special Comment" is ahead.


OLBERMANN: The Glenn Beck appropriation of the Martin Luther King Day Speech, he didn't get a permit. First, our sanity break, starting with the Tweet of the day. It's a repeat winner Don Millard: "maybe if we had a National Day of Science instead of prayer, we'd know how to stop a deep sea oil disaster."

I'd settle happily for one of each right now. Leads play Oddball.

We begin with day three of the Senate Judiciary Committee's questioning of Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan. Doing that in Oddball now? Committee members doing their best to understand her judicial philosophy, yesterday gave us Senator Graham's investigation into the Kagan Christmas dinner plans. Today a probing inquiry into a matter that could establish legal precedent, courtesy Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Democrat and apparent Twi-hard.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Solicitor General Kagan, you did have an incredibly grueling day yesterday, and did incredibly well. But I guess it means you missed the midnight debut of the third "Twilight" movie last night. I keep wanting to ask you about the famous case of Edward versus Jacob or the vampire versus the werewolf.



OLBERMANN: Confirm this woman immediately.

To the Vatican; Pope Benedict has just received an invitation to Coventry in England. A British nurse asking the Holy Father to come and witness the second plumbing. It's Jesus on a drain pipe. Alex Cotton discovered the Messiah on her way home from a soccer match, noticing that the smudge on her backyard drainage pipe wasn't just a smudge, but the savior. Pipe is on the right. Miss Cotton doesn't seem to be worried about protecting the pipe. A local plumber assuring her, if the drain were to clog, it would clear up in three days. I don't care can if it rains or freezes, as long as I have my drain pipe Jesus riding down the backyard of my house.

Time now for Oddball's annual almost Independence Day reminder; please don't let your mannequins play with explosives. Actually, the video comes from the good folks at the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Hooray far safety. It's the group's yearly demonstration of the dangers of fire works. While it may not prevent Missy here from lighting twin sister on fire, it's enough to scare the crap out of your local supermarket produce section.

Speaking of exploding watermelons, the struggle to stop Glenn Beck from desecrating the memory - did he just blow up too - the memory of Dr. King by commemorating the anniversary of the I Have a Dream Field Speech with a hate-filled speech of his from the same venue. The struggle to stop Glenn Beck is apparently being led by Glenn Beck.


OLBERMANN: Having consulted the monolithic corporate research firm to which he pays tens of thousands of dollars annually to find out with what to follow up his books of fiction, also his novel, and his radio show, and his televised paranoia hour, and his tears, and his movie that sold 30 tickets in Washington, they said, hold a big rally in Washington. Our third story, Beck says he did not happen to pick the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the day of the 47th anniversary of the Martin Luther King "I Have a Dream" speech. God picked it.

Well, God apparently forgot to put in for permission. Dr. King had a dream, Mr. Beck has a scheme. He does not have a permit. He also has an apparent problem with the concept of charity, since he's funneling money his followers think will go to a military based fund into his pockets and the pockets of political groups. He's also said that 100 or 200 years from now, this rally will be remembered as, quote, "the moment America turned the corner, the pivot point."

Let's bring in nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press, also the author of "Toxic Talk, How the Radical Right Has Poisoned America's Airwaves." Hello, Bill, how are you?

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Keith, good to see you.

Unbelievable, isn't it?

OLBERMANN: Well, no, not at this point.

PRESS: Right.

OLBERMANN: He sold a book with a picture of himself as a doorman on the cover of it. Why not? There is something akimbo with the permit for the live imitation of Lonesome Rhodes from "Face in the Crowd," is there?

PRESS: Oh, yeah. In fact, Keith, when I first heard about this from you, by the way, you know, I was just outraged that the park service would even consider giving Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin a permit to hold a political rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, that sacred shrine, on this historic date. So I called the park service and it turns out they don't have a permit. He does have a permit.

He's applied for one. At this date, it's still not been granted. They're still negotiating. He may get it. He may not get it. In the meantime, as you just pointed out, he's soliciting donations to pay for the rally. He's inviting people to the rally, telling them how to get there. And he's telling t-shirts and posters for the rally that may not even happen.

OLBERMANN: The poster on the subject of location for the Beck rally states, quote, "at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial." Is that even going to be true even if he gets a permit? It's not really going to be there, is it?

PRESS: Negative. In fact, on his radio show, Keith, he says on August 28, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; that is absolutely not true. If it happens, it's going to happen down on the steps of the Reflecting Pool, which is across that little road in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Now, of course, the Lincoln Memorial will be the backdrop. But the idea that he's going to be standing where Dr. King stood is just simply not true. Another, shall we say, misrepresentation.

But you know what, Keith, I think he wants it in front of the Lincoln Memorial. As you said, he sees this as a moment when America turns a corner. I really think 100 years from now he sees Abraham Lincoln off that share and Glenn Beck sitting on it, looking at the mall.

OLBERMANN: I'm in complete agreement with the idea Glenn Beck should sit on it. But is the desecration of Dr. King's memory and what he stood for part of this. Is it just not - should the poster actually say, I'm there to go and be racist and blame black people, where Dr. King said let's all hold hands together?

PRESS: It's hard to know exactly what's in his mind. Like restoring honor, what does that mean? Does that mean that we're restoring honor from the dishonor of electing Barack Obama president of the United States? Clearly, I don't care what he says. He chose that site on that day to kind of supplant Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech with his message, whatever it is.

OLBERMANN: It's a political rally, former - well, half Governor Palin is going to be there, and he's - Beck has found a convenient way to pay for the event, presumably her speaking fee?

PRESS: Again, I think he's misleading people. What he says is he's soliciting donations. Keith, to something - get this - called the Special Operations Warriors Fund. It was formed to raise money for wounded veterans and their families and the families of those who have been killed in action. And yet - so it's allegedly a support the troops rally. That's why you're giving your donations.

But look at the bottom of the poster, the very small print says that any money that goes to this Special Warriors Fund will first go to pay for Glenn Beck's rally. And then any spare change left over will go to the soldiers. So I think he's really - by the way, these are tax deductible contributions. I think he's stealing money from the troops and putting it in his own pocket.

OLBERMANN: Will it happen? And if so, what are the protests going to look like? I know Al Sharpton is organizing. The head of the NAACP has spoken out against it too.

PRESS: You know what? I'm afraid it will happen, because I don't think the National Park Service has the backbone to do the right thing and turn him down. I think they ought to tell him, rent National Stadium, rent Yankee Stadium, have it somewhere else. You don't have to be at the Lincoln Memorial. I think it's going to happen.

From what I've heard from Al Sharpton, they're not planning a counter-protest on that day. They just think that would be too hard to organize. They're planning a March on Washington on jobs on October 2nd. And so that's when we'll see a competing message, if you will.

OLBERMANN: Radio talk show host Bill Press, an old colleague and old friend. Great thanks for your time.

PRESS: Thank you. Great to be with you.

OLBERMANN: The 1964-'65 New York Worlds Fair promised me a flying car in my lifetime. And damn it, I - oh, apparently it arrived.

If you don't have a job, says Sharron Angle, it's half your fault and half the fault of whoever created these crazy jobless benefits. Special Comment ahead.

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, her special guest, Frank Rich on Boehner versus Obama, and which side represents the ants and which side uses the nuclear weapons.


OLBERMANN: Flying cars, literally, ahead.

First, another Special Comment tonight on the struggle to reestablish the unemployment safety net.

Senators Harry Reid and Max Baucus have introduced another bill to rescue those million two, million four as of Friday, who have prematurely lost their jobless benefits because Republicans continue to represent corporations and oppose, you know, human beings.

This would be retroactive to the systems collapse at the end of May, and it would extend until November. It has yet to come to the floor. But to give you an idea of why the Republicans have fought its predecessors, there's a new wrinkle tonight. The chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management in Minnesota explains it thusly: "companies are getting higher productivity employees for the same or lower wage rate they were paying a marginal employee. You have a more productive and adaptive labor force."

To you, it's unemployment. To corporations, it's cheap freelancers and temps. Better cost containment, as another analyst put it. No inflation, no leaping interest rates on Treasury bills, so all there is to invest in is corporate stocks. Hell, since March of 2009, the Standard and Poors 500 Index has risen - risen 61 percent.

So you thought your unemployed cousin or friend or self merely constituted a small personal crisis. In fact, you're part of a global investment opportunity. Every dollar you don't make and every dollar that the government does not give you is another buck for the Republicans' clients, the corporations.

Besides which there are plenty of jobs out there, just ask Sharron Angle, Republican candidate for the Senate from Nevada. From her first mainstream interview last night, probably her last, "they keep extending these unemployment benefits to the point where people are afraid to go out and get a job because the job doesn't pay as much as the unemployment benefit does. What has happened is the system of entitlement has caused us to have a spoilage with our ability to go out and get a job. There are jobs that do exist. That's what we're saying, is that there are jobs, but those are entry level jobs."

See, don't worry if the latest Reid/Baucus bill gets swatted again by the political prostitutes of the corporations, the Republicans. There are plenty of entry level jobs available to you, for which no experience and evidently no intelligence is required, you know, like being the Republican Senate nominee from Nevada.

Remember what the first George Bush called Ronald Reagan's financial plan, right? Voodoo economics? Welcome to the Republican's 21st version of it, Screw You Economics.


OLBERMANN: It's a car, it's a plane, it's a car-plane. That's next, but first get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight's worst persons in the world.

The bronze to Bill-O the clown, talking to someone named Anne Mullins (ph) about a conservative website's list of the top ten right wring nut jobs liberals are supposed to hate the most. "Palin, Coulter, Malkin and Bachmann are all attractive women. They're all good looking. But I think that liberals, they resent that. They think that all women who are good looking should be liberal women."

Miss Mullins then says, yes, there are no ugly women in the top ten. Palin, Coulter, Malkin, Bachmann - anybody want to volunteer to break it to Miss Mullins and Mr. O'Reilly? Leave me out of it.

Our runner up, Michele Bachmann, number ten on the list, but still the leader for Operation Enduring Stupidity.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: President Obama is trying to bind the United States into a global economy, where all of our nations come together in a global economy.


OLBERMANN: She went on to insist that a global economy would lead to literally a one-world government. Put that aside for a moment. Let me just review that sentence again. "President Obama is trying to bind the United States into a global economy where all of our nations come together in a global economy." What kind of - what kind of global economy do you know of that isn't a global economy?

But our winner, Cheryl Casone, who used to do news cut-ins here and is now somehow on the Fixed Business News Channel, and she has the whole debt thing beat.


CHERYL CASONE, FOX BUSINESS ANCHOR: A new government report showing 40 percent of income tax filers are paying no income taxes at all, and are getting money back. And this has someone here saying enough is enough. You want America's debt mess cleaned up? It's time for all Americans to pay up.


OLBERMANN: Is she really saying we need to tax the poor? I mean the really, really poor? I mean, there was this report from the Congressional Budget Office, the CBO, that said 40 percent of filers pay nothing. But it pointed out that half of them had incomes under 19,000 dollars a year. She's not talking about increasing taxes on the really poor, is she? She's not talking about the CBO report?


CASONE: You know, Chris, the CBO report - granted it's for 2007. But the fact that most Americans are not paying any income tax, at the end of the day, kind of shows the imbalance. What if everybody pays just a little bit, we're out of debt in this country. So, Jonathan, did we just find a way to solve America's debt crisis, do you think?


OLBERMANN: Next on Fox Business Channel with Cheryl Casone, Swift's modest proposal that hunger could be solved by eating the children of impoverished families? Was it satire or was he just a far thinking economist ahead of his time. Cheryl "Tax the Poor" Casone of Fox, today's worst person in the freaking world.


OLBERMANN: In 1917, 14 years after the Wright Brothers first flew an airplane - that worked, anyway - aviator Glen Curtis unveiled his auto plane at New York's pan-American Aeronautic Exposition. The car-plane hybrid was billed as a flying limousine, though it could only hop down the road and was never mass produced. Possibly because they forgot the end of it.

Our number one story, as long as there have been planes and cars, there have been people trying to get rich selling hybrid plars (ph). The latest is the Terrafugia Transition, which now has the all clear from the Federal Aviation Administration. A roadable aircraft; the transition is more like a plane that drives, rather than a car that flies. On the ground, the wings fold up like an accordion, without the noise, and extend in 30 seconds for liftoff.

One tank of regular unleaded gas will fly you 400 miles in the air. you get 30 Miles per gallon on the road. Some of the craft's safety specs, like parachute, airbags, safety cage cause the craft to surpass acceptable weight limits for the FAA light sport aircraft designation, 110 pounds too much. An exemption granted. All Terrafugia has to do is let customers know their plar is a little overweight.

The light sport aircraft designation means owners would need only 20 hours of practice before legally flying this thing. Its plar's price tag, just 194,000 dollars, but includes the true coat. And even though the it still needs - it would probably be the way that should be written - needs crash testing before going to market, the company says it's already taken 70, count them, preorders.

David Kiley has been covering the car industry for more than two decades and is currently a correspondent for AOL Autos. Mr. Kiley, thanks for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN: The FAA says this thing is OK to fly. Who has to say whether or not it's OK to drive the damn thing?

KILEY: Well, that will be the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But, you know, they also green lighted the Yugo and the Pontiac Aztec. So the standard for achieving street legal is not that high.

OLBERMANN: It seems to me, also, this - it misses the point of the flying car. For it to be a flying car, you have to be able to be driving it and then suddenly push a button and you take off and fly, don't you? Isn't that the premise of the flying car?

KILEY: That would be great. I mean, I was driving on I-95 two weeks ago, and it took me nine hours to get from Washington, D.C. to the Outer Banks, where ironically that's where Kitty Hawk is. I think that was the inspiration for the Wright Brothers, is being on 95 on a Friday in June.

But actually, I mean, that's the thing. You have to fly this thing from municipal airport to municipal airport, so it's not like you can be frustrated with the traffic, pull over on the shoulder, get up a head of steam and do a chitty chitty bang bang over all the traffic. That's what we'd all like.

But still, you know, I think these guys are great. They've come up with a pretty innovative thing. These are also, by the way, the same guys who developed the spork, the combination spoon and fork, for people - I'm actually kidding about that.

OLBERMANN: I got you on that.

KILEY: But the dual purpose invention is a fascination that captures a lot of people's imagination.

OLBERMANN: Twenty hours practice time for flying it, does that sound

I know you're a car guy more than a plane guy. But 20 hours, is that enough?

KILEY: You know what? I don't think so. I couldn't learn how to play the clarinet in 20 hours, let alone fly one of these things. And the last time I checked if I played the clarinet badly, I wouldn't kill anybody. So I'm not - but, you know, flying one of these, I think - frankly, I think the standard is a little low for training, but that's me.

OLBERMANN: Has anybody thought about the impact of this thing during police chases? I mean -

KILEY: I think it's only a matter of time. I'm sure O.J. has, but I think he's strapped for the 10 Grand deposit. But the - it will happen. Once these are out and once people are driving them, there will be somebody who goes out and wants their Sean Connery moment. And they're going to be on a lonely sort of highway or country road at 6:00 in the morning, and they're going to want to do it. Whether or not that extends to somebody who is actually fleeing the police - you know, anything is possible.

OLBERMANN: Mr. Carracadis Pott (ph) from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will be joining us later to discuss the implications of that. David Kiley of AOL Autos and his own standup act, much obliged. Thank you very much.

That's Countdown for June 30th. It's 2,617th day since President Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq, the 2,206th day since he declared victory day in Afghanistan, and the 72nd day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf.

I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

Now to discuss Obama and Boehner and ants and nukes, with her guest, Frank Rich, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, June 29th, 2010
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Twitter Report, Oddball, Tea Time, Worst Persons

Guests: Rick Steiner, Jonathan Turley, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Derrick


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

BP caught breaking its own rule, in bed financially with Republicans. "The Washington Post" exclusive: BP proclaims it will "make no political contributions, whether in cash or in kind, anywhere in the world." Yet tonight, it proves it gave $4 million to Republican-aligned, pro-big oil political action committees. What else has BP lied about?

Day 71, suddenly, the relief well solution looks a lot less absolute -

the backup plan to the backup plan.

While tropical storm Alex wreaks havoc with the oil skimming effort.

The Kagan hearing, Senator Sessions lies about Elena Kagan's position on military recruiting on Harvard, then is shocked when she disagrees with him.


SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: I'm just a little taken aback by the tone of your remarks, because it's unconnected to reality.


OLBERMANN: How a hearing to decide if a Supreme Court nominee will be confirmed is turning into a hearing in which the Senate from Keebler elves tree self-destructs.

The Petraeus hearing - the chicken hawks turn the return of the man they once worshipped into an excuse to stay longer in Afghanistan.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: In addition to being harmful, the July 2011 withdrawal date increasingly looks unrealistic.


OLBERMANN: "Worsts": Sharron Angle on tape saying no abortions, even for rape or incest or life or death of the mother.

"Tea Time."


PAMELA GORMAN (R), ARIZONA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I'm Pamela Gorman and I approve this message.



OLBERMANN: And - "Sex in Space." The question to NASA: Can the astronauts join the 238,000 mile high club? NASA's new answer: No, never. Never, never, never.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sex in space, I think you might want a seat belt.


OLBERMANN: And what about those three-year trips to Mars? Derrick Pitts on liftoff, we have liftoff.

All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.




OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.

As the BP oil gusher slimes the Gulf of Mexico, revelations today about BP greasing the political process.

Our fifth story tonight: Against its own stated corporate policy, BP has been contributing millions of dollars to mostly Republican-leaning political organizations to protect the company's bottom line. And BP's explanation raises a new to the credibility of its already battered claims of transparency and trustworthiness. BP broke its own policy, which according to "The Washington Post" exclusive report on this this afternoon called for the company to, quote, "make no political contributions whether in cash or in kind anywhere in the world." That corporate code of conduct was initiated in 2002 to create greater transparency in BP's dealings with various governments around the world.

But over the past seven years, BP North America donated nearly $5 million to political organizations of various kinds, according to "The Washington Post." The largest contributions about $4 million went to Republican-aligned political action groups working to defeat ballot initiatives in California and Colorado in support of new taxes on the oil industry. An Alaska political organization got BP money for a similar reason, to defeat a tax on gas reserves in that state.

BP also gave $75,000 to the Democratic Governors Association and $15,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee.

Now, BP spokesman telling "The Washington Post," quote, "The types of spending that we reported here fits within our policy. Our policy on not making corporate political contributions relates to candidates for political office at the state and federal level. That weak attempt at a distinction raising serious questions about BP's professed transparency, according to experts on corporate accountability included in "The Washington Post" story.

For the record, a donation accountability Web site shows just over $77,000 donated to the Obama presidential campaign. That would be from BP employees. And it is about $4,000 more than the employees donated to the campaign of Alaska Congressman Don Young.

In the Gulf of Mexico today, even with tropical storm Alex 650 miles southwest of the Deepwater Horizon site, skimming operations have now been halted. BP and the Coast Guard ordered all skimmer ships back to shore due to surging waves caused by the storm. Alex is also expected to push the oil farther inland to beaches, to marshland, to bays. As storm waves overwhelm many containment booms, preparations on the Helix Producer, a ship that could nearly double BP's capacity to capture oil, has been delayed now due to high seas, but Alex is not yet affecting current containment efforts at the Deepwater Horizon site and work on the relief wells continues.

However, there is now a backup plan for those relief wells should they fail when they are supposed to go online sometime in August. More on that in a moment.

For now, tropical storm Alex is expected to remain far from the spill zone. It's projected to make landfall possibly as a hurricane over Mexico and/or Texas sometime Thursday is the latest guess.

Meantime, there is a renewed suggestion to blow up the well if BP's efforts do not work. Former President Clinton saying that the Navy may need to resort to that, but nuclear weapons will not be necessary. We've explored that issue before here and it's crazy.

The current vice president, Joe Biden, visited Louisiana and Pensacola, Florida, today and the Obama administration said that BP met the deadline to pay the government's first bill for costs associated with responding to the disaster: $71 million - obviously just the beginning.

Let's turn first to MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe.

Good evening, Richard.


OLBERMANN: BP creates this worldwide policy about corporate donations, breaks it. Is the biggest casualty this already shredded issue of credibility and coming at a time when the company still insists that we need to trust its own statements about this disaster?

WOLFFE: Well, I actually think this is even bigger than credibility. I mean, let's face it, BP, for a start, has much tougher questions to face than political donations and credibility, that's to plug the damn hole and to clean up a damn ecosystem. So, those are much bigger issues for them and challenges.

But what this story really gets to isn't whether or not BP lived up to its own standards because, you know, they can redefine those standards as they like. The question is what kind of company was BP? And you - to answer that question, you should look at how they spent this money. A big chunk of it went to blocking Proposition 87 in California. That was designed to move the Californian economy, among other places, beyond petroleum.

BP spent a fortune trying to pretend that it was interested in alternative energy, the new economy, and in fact they were spending their money trying to stop the kind of taxes that would have made alternative energy sources viable and the economic future of at least one state and maybe the entire economy. So, I think there's more than credibility at stake here. It's what kind of strategy were they playing? Was it just marketing or is the whole thing just a charade?

OLBERMANN: And speaking of a charade, the idea that BP's answer to this is - the spokesman says, well, no contributions were made. We meant no contributions to actual candidates directly - which does not seem to be in the original statement.

WOLFFE: No, it does not. And it's - they're - when you're a corporation and you're trying to influence votes, actually giving money to an individual candidate is not always that much of a bang for your buck. I mean, look at all the banks that gave money to Chuck Schumer. Has he gone out and stood between them and financial regulatory reform? Well, no.

But if you put money directly into these 527s, these action groups that can hide behind regulations and keep their donors secret, you can actually lobby directly to the American people, you can advocate directly for a cause. And in this case, stop initiatives that would have cost them money, but ultimately help the greener future that people profess to want.

OLBERMANN: The intent of the largest of the political contributions, that one $3 million dose in one spot, that's obvious, that's telling. It is to protect the bottom line of the corporation. And despite the corporation's suggestion and then agreement to create this $20 billion escrow fund, and the government payment that we just heard about today, the start of 70 some odd million dollars.

Do we - is there any reason to doubt that BP's prime interest remains to protect its bottom line, not just in the future when everything is sort of stabilized again, but right now, this minute, while it is claiming its only focus is cleaning all this up?

WOLFFE: You know, I'm going to defer on this one. I think all corporations want to defend their bottom line, there's no question that's what they're put there to do. But if BP was going to nickel-and-dime its way out of this one, it would not have agreed to $20 billion up front. There are clearly - it is a desire to try and limit this and resolve questions about their future. But if they were trying to be ExxonMobil, then they're not doing a very good job of it.

OLBERMANN: Our own Richard Wolffe, also the author, of course, of "Renegade: The Making of a President" - as always, Richard, great thanks.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: About the Gulf and the storm, let's turn now to marine conservationist, Rick Steiner.

Rick, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Give us your own assessment of the likely effect of this tropical storm on the broad range of the cleanup efforts in the Gulf, including the skimming operations that were shut down today.

STEINER: Well, it could be a big deal, there's no question about it. The biggest implication would be if they have to discontinue the relief well drilling. And right now, they have a 40-knot wind emergency shutdown and move off the site threshold.

But I think they ought to push that envelope a little higher to maybe a 60-knot wind. These are enormous rigs, the Development Driller 3 and 2. They're a football-field-wide-by-a-football field-wide, 50,000-ton vessels.

They're very stable and waves and sea and winds.

They're designed to withstand 100-knot winds and 40, 50, even 60-foot seas. So, they need to stay drilling as long as is safely possible. If they have to disconnect from the drill string, which is a fixed structure, we understand that, but they shouldn't move off to Florida, spend a week getting back on site.

If they miss a week of drilling the relief wells, that's equivalent to another Exxon Valdez or two going into the Gulf of Mexico. So, they need to stay there.

Forty knots of wind is a good day in Alaska fishermen's life, so these huge rigs ought to be able to take it.

OLBERMANN: The relief wells, this backup plan that we're now hearing about, if they fail, it's to collect oil at the current wellhead through various systems and then direct the oil through a pipeline to existing platforms several miles away. But doesn't that assume that the current gusher could be ultimately captured to 100 percent tolerance?

STEINER: I think so. I don't think 90 percent collection rate is going to be acceptable to people. Ninety percent of 60,000 barrels a day still leaves 6,000 barrels of oil going into the Gulf of Mexico a day for years conceivably. So that's certainly unacceptable. They either have to get 100 percent of it or - the number one thing they have to do is kill this darn thing with the relief wells, and that's where all of our hopes need to be.

OLBERMANN: And the reintroduction of the idea of blowing up the wells, we had a Professor Michio Kaku here about blowing them up with nuclear weapons, which was one of the original, crazier suggestions, you know, along with having, as David Letterman likes to say, "Superman" fix the thing. The dangers of using nuclear weapons under such circumstances are just countless.

Is using non-nuclear material to blow up a well a mile deep, is that even within the recommend of possibility? Does President Clinton know what he's talking about here?

STEINER: Well, I have a lot of respect for President Clinton.


STEINER: But I think this would be your absolute last-ditch Hail Mary initiative. We need to get the relief wells down there and see if they can kill it. And there are several other suggestions, like the one you just posed: of trying to produce the reservoir with the existing infrastructure. But the very, very last thing you would consider is using an explosive. What that could do is fracture the wellbore and the geology there and you could have this thing spewing for years, if not decades.

So that's - that's a Hollywood scenario, a last-ditch, and we're not even close to considering that, I don't think, at this point.

OLBERMANN: That's the Hail Mary just before we abandon the planet and move somewhere else.

STEINER: That's right.

OLBERMANN: Last point, back to the storm here. There has been some reporting that if the storm were to break up patches of oil, it's not necessarily a bad thing at this time. Is it likely to do that? Is it likely to serve as a kind of natural dispersant?

STEINER: Sure. And that's what will happen, and there's some good and bad to that. One, it will, with all the turbulent mixing on the sea surface, the oil that's near the sea surface will break into smaller droplets, disperse down into the water column.

The bad news is all of that will travel with the storm surge wherever that goes. If it goes up into the bayous, a lot of areas will be contaminated that have not yet been contaminated. The bird nesting islands near shore will all be flooded. So, while the oil has just been around the perimeter so far, are the entire islands will be oiled. There's very little question about that. Even a three or four-foot storm surge will do that.

The other thing a storm will do is it will suspend a lot of sediment in the water. That will attack to the oil droplets in the water column. And when the storm subsides, guess what? All that stuff settles out into the sea bed, so there's going to be a lot more oiling of the sea bed ecosystem after this. We've seen this in several large oil spills around the world.

OLBERMANN: Perfect. Rick Steiner, marine conservationist and one of the men helping us understand this as the nightmare continues - once again, great thanks for your time, Rick.

STEINER: Indeed. My pleasure.

OLBERMANN: The gushers on Capitol Hill today were at the Kagan and Petraeus hearings, the nominees almost incidental to the story lines -

Senators Sessions and McCain trying to sell. John Turley on the former and Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson on the latter - when Countdown continues.


OLBERMANN: Embarrassing himself during the Sotomayor hearings last year was not bad enough. Now, this quote, "senator," unquote, all but called Solicitor General Kagan a liar in her hearings, says he knows better than she did what happened at Harvard while she was at Harvard and he was still up in the tree baking the fudge-covered shortbread.

The nomination was not an issue. How long his mission will last, that was the issue. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson joins us.

Move over, Sister Sarah, the heavy breathers of the far right may have a new heroine - "Machine Gun Gorman."

And NASA's latest cut back: no sex in space? Not even during reentry?


OLBERMANN: Perhaps the first Republican rule of Supreme Court nomination hearings pick a fight club should be: we do not talk at Supreme Court nominations hearings pick a fight club.

In our fourth story: The judiciary committee began questioning nominee Elena Kagan and she might not have won confirmation yet, but for the most part today, she won them over.

A few senators however did not fare as well. There was Chuck Grassley who argued against getting law from other countries and from getting - forgetting law from God. Grassley arguing that God created the right to bear arms before the Constitution was amended to include the presumably after God created arms.

Senator Graham appearing like a yea vote, suggested Kagan earlier had called him a "dictator" and then joked that this would probably help him in South Carolina.

Senator Kyl renewed the assault on Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to suggest that Kagan would be an activist judge. Kagan, Marshall's former clerk, said she endorsed Marshall's view that the court is a branch of the government in which everybody can pursue their claims.

"Talking Points Memo" talking to three Republican senators about their attacks on Marshall and finding that none of them were able to identify a single Marshall ruling they considered activist. One of them, Tom Coburn, criticized Kagan tonight because he does not know her liberal positions on various issues, which she then proceeded to list.

Another, Jeff Sessions, now ranking member of a committee that once rejected his own judicial nomination, is stealing the spotlight right out of the gate this morning. Sessions not merely criticizing Kagan for excluding as dean of Harvard law military recruiting from the school's career services office, but calling Kagan anti-military, fostering an anti-military atmosphere on campus by referring to "don't ask, don't tell" as a, quote, "military policy rather than a law," blaming it on the military.


SESSIONS: In fact, you were punishing the military. You keep referring in your e-mails and all to the military policy. Isn't it a fact that the policy was not the military policy, but a law passed by the Congress of the United States, and that you were taking steps to treat them in a second-class way, not give them the same equal access because you deeply opposed that policy? Why wouldn't you complain to Congress and not to the dutiful men and women who put their lives on the line for America every day?


OLBERMANN: Ms. Kagan refuted the claim, but not better than Sessions did when he himself, as you'll now see, referred to "don't ask, don't tell" as - yes, military policy.


ELENA KAGAN, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: Senator, the military at all times during my deanship, had full and good access. Military recruiting did not go down. Indeed, in a couple of years, including the year that you're particularly referring to, it went up. And it went up because we ensured that students would know that the military recruiters were coming to our campus, because I talked about how important military service was, because our veterans organization and the veterans on campus did an absolutely terrific job - a terrific service - to their fellow students in talking to them about the honor of military service.

SESSIONS: Well, I would just say while my time is running down, I'm just a little taken aback by the tone of your remarks, because it's unconnected to reality. I know what happened at Harvard. I know you were an outspoken leader against the military policy.


OLBERMANN: Let's bring in Jonathan Turley, scholar of constitutional law and professor at George Washington University School of Law.

Jon, good evening.


OLBERMANN: All right. I'll just resist my temptation to spend four minutes talking to you about Senator Sessions and where he got any of his degrees from, which Kellogg's cereal he sent the most box tops in for.

How did she do today?

TURLEY: Well, you know, the standard for nominees in modern confirmation is basically to look like Nancy Reagan and sound like a Hallmark greeting card. They're kept to doing things like Kagan did, repeatedly promising a fair hearing for people, which is a lot like, you know, surgeon general nominee, you know, bravely coming out against rickets. I mean, it's - that's the level of most confirmation hearings, not just Kagan.

But I thought she did very, very well. The key is not to get upset, not to get emotional. She didn't. She held it very, very well. And they haven't really gotten any traction on these attacks.

OLBERMANN: Is there - defining narrative for her critics that you saw today, were they just all pursuing individual pet issues.

TURLEY: Well, many of the comments seemed to be talking past her to people back in their states. I mean, they were bringing up things that really were not her doing or she played a role in, things that she was supposed to be assisting the administration in. You know, it was like they were raising, you know, coastal erosion and why haven't you done anything about that.

So, a lot of it was sort of disconnected. Now, one of the things that they hammered on was this idea that you would be a results-oriented justice. And that was a little bit curious, because many of the people that the same senators like would constitute the demonstrably results-oriented jurists.

I mean, you consider, if you go back to Bush v. Gore, in that precarium (ph) opinion, they actually not only determined the outcome of that election, but the majority put in a line saying we're just going to do this, but you cannot use it as precedent to benefit anyone else. That would seem to me a pretty results-oriented opinion.

OLBERMANN: The notion of the activist judge, will that survive these hearings? Is it - is it gaining traction or is it just now like a brand name like, you know, Super Bowl?

TURLEY: I think that that has, thankfully, lost a lot of its traction. I think, but I - as you note, I'm surprised that you don't hear that much anymore. And I think that the American people are beginning to understand that activism is very much in the eye of the beholder. That's not to say that there aren't judges and justices who make political decisions and go outside their legitimate role. But saying that someone is a judicial activist leads to more questions than answers.

OLBERMANN: Thurgood Marshall was able to get himself on the table in somebody else's hearing - confirmation hearing - yet again. The implication now from the right was that he was an activist judge who put his own notion of right and wrong above the law. In a legal context, who was more mainstream, Justice Marshall or the people who were criticizing him in the Senate today?

TURLEY: Well, this is a much tougher confirmation for Marshall than he faced when he first went onto the court. But it's really ironic because I can't think of the case that they're thinking of, that Marshall was not an activist jurist in that sense. I think most of the cases they're thinking of were authored perhaps by Brennan and not Marshall.

Marshall was the one in dissent and said, power, not reason is the new currency of this court. He objected to that type of thing.

OLBERMANN: Yes, it's code. It's about Brown v. Board of Education, of course, which he was not on the court for, he was in front of the court for. That's what this is about.

Jonathan Turley of George Washington University - as always, great thanks, Jon.

TURLEY: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: The other hearing had other grandstanding. Lawrence Wilkerson on the Petraeus confirmation - and a World Cup soccer coach picks a winner.


OLBERMANN: Funny how the Petraeus hearings turned into the "we need to stay in Afghanistan longer" hearings. Thank you, John McCain.

First, the sanity breaks starting with the Tweet of the Day, highly topical, from Polpaca. "Want Kagan to pull out softball bat, jump on table and shout, 'I'ma get medieval on your ass.' Not tweet of the day material." Evidently wrong about that.

Let's play "Oddball."


Where we keep our nose to the grindstone; still covering the World Cup, even after the U.S. ouster. Fortunately for us, this talk show, from some country with different accents, has given us a reason, discussing Germany's victory over England, and German coach Joachim Low's apparent stress eating habit. Allow me to translate and quote from "Caddieshack" at the same time: "50 Bucks says the coach guy picks his nose; 50 bucks more says he eats it. Don't do it, coach. There he goes. He's going for it. That coach will eat anything." Coach Joachim Low picking his lineup.

And another prediction from Oberhausen, Germany's resident psychic. No, it's Oberhausen, Germany's resident psychic, Paul, the octopus. The process goes like this; two different plastic containers, each bearing food and a team's flag from the World Cup lowered into Paul's tank. The container, Joachim's first, considers his winning pick for the cup. This time, the aquarium oracle is forecasting Deutschland over Argentina in the quarter final on Saturday. So far, he has a 100 percent hit rate, predicting Germany's win over Australia, its loss to Serbia, and, wouldn't you know, Germany's victory over England.

While Paul is enjoying his success as the country's clairvoyant, suddenly we understand the method behind Coach Low's madness. He's predicting left is a German win and right would be an Argentinean win.

There goes any need I have to repost nose shack. Let's just do that in English. Back up the prompter. So there goes any need I had for a post-show snack. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson on the Petraeus next.


OLBERMANN: The end result, a foregone conclusion if ever there was one. The Senate Armed Services Committee not even putting in a full day. Only five hours after the witness first sat down, committee members today voting in favor of the nomination of General Petraeus to become the next commander of the war in Afghanistan. But in our third story, even if Senate lawmakers agree on the leadership of General Petraeus, they are far from united on how he should lead and, more importantly, how long he and we should be there.

The general nominated last week to become the Afghan war commander, taking what is essentially a demotion after General McChrystal's post-controversy resignation. General Petraeus today pledging to cooperate with his commander in chief and others, starting with President Obama's promise to begin the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in one year's time, July, 2011.

The GOP making it seem as if the general's cooperation might be forced.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Was there a recommendation from you or anyone in the military that we set a date of July, 2011?


MCCAIN: It was not by any military person that you know of?

PETRAEUS: Not that I'm aware of.


OLBERMANN: Two can play at that game. Cue the next Democrat to ask questions.


SEN. JACK REID (D), ARMED SERVICES CMTE: You're fully supportive of the president's policy, including beginning a transition, based upon the conditions on the ground, in July of 2011.

PETRAEUS: Let me be very clear, if I could, senator. Not only did I say that I support it, I said that I agreed with it.


OLBERMANN: Senator Jack Reid then asking if the Taliban are simply waiting out a U.S. withdrawal, why are they fighting so actively now?


PETRAEUS: That's actually a great point. The reason they're active on the ground militarily - there are probably a couple of reasons. One is they're fighting to retain safe havens and sanctuaries that they have been able to establish in recent years. They lost a great deal when they lost Marjah and it's not surprising that they fight back.

The other reason, though, is they're also fighting to break our will. This is a contest of wills. And they can sense concern in various capitals around the world, and of course they want to increase that concern.


OLBERMANN: General Petraeus leaving open the possibility that he might recommend delaying the start of troop withdrawals next summer, if he is unable to turn the stalemated conflict around. No stalemate for the lawmakers when they convened behind closed doors, swiftly announcing they had voted to send the nomination to the full Senate for confirmation. Since it was a voice vote, no count of the vote was taken, nor a recording of the voices.

Let's call in Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff at the State Department during Secretary Powell's tenure there, currently the Pamela Herriman visiting professor at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. He's in Washington with us tonight. Colonel, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Was the debate in the hearing room today merely a preview of the kind of fight we might witness a year from now as that July 2011 deadline approaches?

WILKERSON: I think it is, although it was pretty much a love-in today, I thought. The man whom everyone, I think, regardless of political stripes, believes is the best man for the job is going to be confirmed for the job. I would say one thing too; I take exception to your demotion. George Marshall would have left Washington in a heartbeat and FDR's side to be Overlord's commander.

So I think, in this case, this is where a military man belongs. He belongs in a theater of war. And I think General Petraeus is, at base, a military man.

OLBERMANN: We congratulate him on his demotion, if that's what it is then. General Petraeus left open that he would recommend changes to this withdrawal policy if he is unable to turn this conflict around. And then the question, obviously, is raised, if General Petraeus can't turn things around in Afghanistan, realistically who could?

WILKERSON: Keith, I've heard that so many times. All through my military career, I've heard that we're going to reexamine things based on conditions on the ground and so on. My best example is - and the country I know best in Asia is Korea. Let's look at '53 to '88 when they hosted the Olympics. That's 35 years to really build a stable, reasonably prosperous, well governed, beginning to be a democracy. And there was no insurgency there, none whatsoever. At best, we had students rioting in the streets against the dictatorship.

So 35 years with no insurgency, how long is it going to take in Afghanistan? Are we talking about half a century? Is the American taxpayer willing to expend the blood and treasure for that time period? It seems Senator McCain is.

OLBERMANN: The last two years on the ground in Afghanistan have been more deadly than the previous seven were. Might not being able to turn things around be a good argument for getting out?

WILKERSON: Well, I think General Petraeus and General McChrystal before him were right that it's going to be tougher before it gets any better. My problem is I can't see it getting any better. I only see it getting tougher. I just do not see, with basically an illegitimate government, basically a civil war between Pashtuns and everybody else, and us more or less lining up and supporting, through our training and security policies and other means, including millions of dollars, that division and that dichotomy in the country.

I just don't see how we're going to solve it. Petraeus said our objective, as the president has said, is to get rid of al Qaeda. We got rid of al Qaeda several years ago. The remnants are in Pakistan. They're not in Afghanistan. And I can't, for a moment, imagine that any government in Afghanistan would allow al Qaeda to return. They know exactly what we'd do. We'd come back and drive them out again.

OLBERMANN: To that point, does it trouble you that no large part of that hearing today was devoted to recognizing the fact that we had an actual victory in Afghanistan in hand as early as December, 2001, and by lack of maintenance, essentially, Mr. Bush basically gave it away?

WILKERSON: I couldn't agree with you more. In fact, some people - some friends of mine in the Pentagon did a little back of the envelope stubby pencil analysis, and said for the amount of money we spent to this point, even limited though it was in the Bush administration, we could have gone and come back two or three times.

OLBERMANN: Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff at the State Department, saying it eloquently off the back of that envelope. Great thanks, sir.

WILKERSON: Thank you for having me.

OLBERMANN: The latest NASA outrage: no sex in space. Well, then why was "Fly Me to the Moon" such a big hit for Frank Sinatra, huh? Huh?

Tea Time, and simply put, this may be the best psycho commercial - no, you're supposed to show the commercial there. Should I wait for it or is not going to appear? There it is. The best psycho commercial yet.

And in worsts, Sharron Angle's refusal to accept abortion, even for rape or incest or the mother's health.

When Rachel joins you, Ms. Angle's first mainstream interview is happening at about 9:30 eastern. She will exclusively show you the highlights right after it ends.


OLBERMANN: The newest road warning sign, look out for vampires.

Worst persons ahead.

First, no, this is not your water coming to a boil, it's our nightly checkup on the something for nothing crowd. It's Tea Time. John Boehner has now credited the Tea Party with stirring a political rebellion not seen here since 1776, because the Democrats are, quote, "snuffing out the America I grew up in."

He was born in 1949 in Cincinnati, so the America he grew up in still had Jim Crow, anti-miscegenation laws, lynchings, political assassinations, jail terms for gays and Polio. Mr. Boehner may be the last politician to try to jump on this bandwagon, because it is ever more apparent that if it is remembered at all by history, this Tea Party will be recalled for 100 percent completely insane campaign commercials.

You've got the guy shooting at the sign stealers, the Alabama clown who sees all the dead presidents, the F, C, I, and O, electronic vampire sheep, the guy who almost unintelligibly says, we speak English; you want to live here, learn it.

And then we have Pamela Gorman and her ad pretty much speaks for itself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This year, a lot of folks think this is our best shot at changing Congress. Course, that all depends on the caliber of our candidates.

Meet Pamela Gorman, candidate for Congress in Arizona Three, conservative Christian and a pretty fair shot.

The insiders in the state Senate wanted to have her hide when she fought against their plan for higher taxes. But Gorman, she can take care of herself. Rated 100 percent by the NRA, conservative Pamela Gorman is always right on target.

PAMELA GORMAN, TEA PARTY CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS: I'm Pamela Gorman, and I approve this message.


OLBERMANN: So, vote for Pamela Gorman in the Republican primary for Congress in the Arizona Third or she'll kill you with a machine gun!


OLBERMANN: Sex in space, and something called the three porpoise theory, with Derrick Pitts. First, get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight's worst persons in the world, brought to you by Tri-Corner, the hat people, bringing you Glenn Beck's perversion of the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln memorial. Beck attacked the parents today. Who will he attack on August 28th? Tri-Corner, the hat people, now available in tin foil.

The bronze to an unidentified woman in Pruta (ph), Colorado. She was driving down a dirt road in the grand valley town when she suddenly threw her SUV into reverse and crashed into a canal. The driver says she backed into the canal because she was startled by something in the middle of the road, a vampire. Police say they found no evidence of drugs, alcohol, wolfsbane, garlic, crosses, holy water, Edward or Jacob.

The runner up, North Carolina Congresswoman Sue Myrick. You may recall her conclusion that the Capitol was being infiltrate by Muslim spies disguised as congressional interns. She's now written to Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano demanding a multi-platform task force to investigate the new risk that only she can see along the American-Mexican border:

Hezbollah and Iran. She's convinced that Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, is crossing the Mexican border on Iran's behalf. Congresswoman loony bin's evidence, some inmates in southwestern prisons are turning up with tattoos written in Farsi. Police said they found no evidence of drugs, alcohol, wolfsbane, garlic, crosses, holy water, Edward or Jacob.

Our winner, Republican and Tea Party Senate candidate Sharron obtuse Angle of Nevada. Former Nevada Republican Congresswoman Barbara Buchanavbich (ph) says she may not even vote for Angle. "She's very rigid and I have a little bit of trouble understanding her position. She's a very difficult person."

One of Angle's positions just became very understandable today with the distribution of an interview she gave in January about how pro-choice she is.


SHARRON ANGLE, TEA PARTY CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: I'm pro responsible choice. You know, there is choice to abstain, choice to do contraception, all kinds of choices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any reason at all for an abortion?

ANGLE: Not in my book.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So rape and incest would not be something?

ANGLE: You know, I'm a Christian.


ANGLE: And I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives, and that he can intercede in all kinds of situations, and we need to have a little faith in many things.


OLBERMANN: So, Miss Angle, we're now talking about a theocracy. A rape is God's plan? Incest, God's plan. A pregnancy that kills the baby and the mother and could have been prevented by an abortion, God's plan. Presumably, a murder is God's plan. Of course, Miss Angle, you have to ask yourself if the medical knowledge to safely conduct an abortion isn't also God's plan. And if you have to accept that Roe v. Wade and the far right's inability to turn it over, despite Supreme Court conservative majorities and seven Republican presidential terms since, is also God's plan.

Sharron Angle, Tea Party and Republican candidate from Nevada - excuse me, Nevada - today's worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN: Abstaining from sex in space is nothing new. Just ask the 14 billion-year-old Virgo. For that matter, any of the 335 astronauts NASA has sent into space, except for two of them. In our number one story, leading scientists agree that colonization of space is essential to the long-term survival of our species. Yesterday, a NASA space shuttle commander revealed that astronauts on his shuttle are prohibited from knocking anti-gravity boots.

On April 5th, the Space Shuttle Discovery launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On board, three women and four men, led by Commander Allen Poindexter. Their mission is a 13-day tour at the International Space Station. Yesterday, more than two months after returning safely to Earth, the crew of Discovery was on a media tour in Tokyo when Poindexter was asked a hypothetical question about coitus among the stars.

According to the "Agence France Press," Poindexter was quite serious, responding, quote, "we are a group of professionals. We treat each other with respect. And we have a great working relationship. Personal relationships are not an issue. We don't have them and we won't."

As far as an official policy regarding sex in space, NASA as an organization doesn't appear to explicitly prohibit it. As we stipulated before, at some point reproduction in micro gravity is going to have to happen. Our future kind of depends on it.

Luckily, our friends at the History Channel already took the trouble to explore the pitfalls of sex in space and how to work around them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing everyone does agree upon is that one or more of the mating partners needs to be restrained.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you could have is some hand holds and perhaps leg holds, similar - made out of bar kind of material, similar to the hand holds you have to assist you in the bathtub.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any mechanism that would simulate constraints on motion, that would at all mimic gravity, would probably facilitate mating in space. It could be Velcro.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And one of the parties could wrap legs around something and then perhaps foot holds similar to the kind of thing you put your feet in in water skis, to secure the bottom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For sex in space, I think you might want a seat belt.


OLBERMANN: Well, we should perhaps be talking to Isabella Rossellini for a demonstration, but who gets to follow that? No, a scientist. Derrick Pitts, the chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, who is probably regretting that choice right now. Good evening, Derrick.


I'll try to keep a straight face.

OLBERMANN: That's one of us. If it's going to take several years to get to Mars, are those people just out of luck?

PITTS: No, I don't think they are because, you know, it's such a long trip, this is one of those things that's going to have to come out of a relationship of people traveling together. They are going to have to figure out what to do with their sexual urges, and I'm betting that something interesting is going to happen on that trip.

OLBERMANN: But isn't there already a report that supposedly that - it was never really answered whether the couple on the Shuttle, that fell in love in the lead-up period to the launch and got engaged just before they took off, so to speak, that they never really denied that perhaps the marriage began in a physical sense somewhere in sub-orbital space?

PITTS: Yes, you're right. They essentially refused to answer that question, saying it was nobody's business and we really didn't need to get into that, because of their level of professionalism. I really doubt that anything has happened in any of the American space program missions. And partly the reason is that, you know, if you're an astronaut, you really do not want to jeopardize your future chances for returning to space, so you're going to do everything you're told, and you're not going to do anything that you shouldn't be doing.

OLBERMANN: Well, but that begs the question, doesn't it, that on some of these three-year trips, that you might be instructed to procreate on the way to Mars. What if you don't want to?

PITTS: I think they'll figure out how to set up the pairings. I think maybe they'll do a little space computer dating system, you know, to figure out who's going to be an astronaut and who isn't. It's just an extra box you check, Keith, that tells you what happens.


PITTS: You got it, there you go.

OLBERMANN: We showed a little of the History Channel, which actually did a special about this. And they had some great ideas for how to get it done. Is, in fact, the space station big enough where there would be any privacy anywhere?

PITTS: The space station is a really good size, and there are plenty of nooks and crannies where people could sort of get themselves away in a corner and have a little fun. So there's plenty of room. And when you take a look around the various components, you find out that, you know, the Russian areas are a little bit more - have a little bit more privacy in some of their spaces.

But I think those kinds of spaces and those kinds of opportunities are going to continue to develop and present themselves.

OLBERMANN: You just hit the nut of the point here. Is there a space sex race and did we lose it to the Russians?

PITTS: You know, I don't think anybody is going to tell us whether that has happened or not. I think we have to just look at the faces of the cosmonauts and see if they're smiling or not. That might give us some hint as to what happened.

OLBERMANN: Whether it's a cosmonaut or an astronaut, is there downtime enough to have done this on your own at some point?

PITTS: Actually, Keith, that's a very good point. You know, this is such an expensive endeavor that the ground controllers absolutely schedule every last second of time they possibly can to get the most efficiency out of this, out of the work that's being done. And so there really isn't very much time. Although astronauts always do have some personal time and, you know, let's -

We should just mention that where there's a will, there's a way. If there's time, somebody can get to it.

OLBERMANN: Derrick Pitts of the Franklin Institute, who's our champion tonight for getting through this in one piece, great thanks.

PITTS: Thank you, sir.

OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for June 29th. It's the 2,216th day since President Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq, the 2,205th day since he declared victory in Afghanistan, the 71st day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf.

Before I go, Larry King announcing tonight he will leave his nightly show this fall. Larry King is a lovely and generous man, who repeatedly tried to convince his bosses to hire me to precede him at CNN, as long ago as the spring of 2001. I will always be in his debt. Larry King, great broadcaster, hello.

I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

And now anticipating Sharron Angle's first mainstream interview being done with our friend Jon Ralston, minutes hence, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.


Monday, June 28, 2010

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, June 28th, 2010
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons

Special Comment:
GOP takes no pity on the unemployed
via YouTube, h/t fferkleheimer

Guests: Jonathan Turley, David Corn, David Weigel

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

Therapy Sessions. The embittered ex-judge, Jeff Sessions, senator from Alabama, rejected from the very committee on which he now sits, opens the Kagan hearings by trashing Justice Thurgood Marshall.


SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Throughout her career, Ms. Kagan has associated herself with well-known activist judges.


OLBERMANN: Mr. Durbin has heard enough about activist judges from the



SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: I have two words for them: Citizens United.


OLBERMANN: The current court takes off the safety. Chicago handgun bans banned after a weekend there with 26 shootings. And three gunned deaths.

The Gulf, day 70. As Mississippi is hit, Governor Barbour 180s from playing to media to save our shores.

The passing of Senator Robert Byrd, his mixed legacy, and the practical politics of replacing him and his vital vote - with Lawrence O'Donnell.

Republicans repeat: screw the jobless. Cutting off benefits will force them to get jobs. My "Special Comment."

The gather your army's tea party candidate is back for more.


RICK BARBER (R), ALABAMA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: What's it called when one man is forced to work for another?


BARBER: We shed a lot of blood to stop that in the past, didn't we?


OLBERMANN: So Lincoln would side with Alabama to stop Obama's slavery? Dave Weigel has talked to the candidate.

And as the witness said afterwards, now I know that dumbness doesn't come from just sound bites.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: This is Reagan country - yes. And perhaps it was destiny that the man who went to California's Eureka College.


OLBERMANN: Illinois. He went to college in Illinois.

That woman is - all the news and commentary - now on Countdown.


PALIN: I got my water. Do I have my straws? I want my straws. And I want it fast, please.




OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.

Republicans opposing the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan are going to lose. But as the confirmation hearings kicked off today, Republicans show they might still snatch defeat from the jaws of more defeat.

Our fifth story tonight: Never mind the nominee, the GOP went after an American judicial icon instead.

But first, the formalities: Elena Kagan, solicitor general of the United States who argues government cases before the Supreme Court, in her opening statement today did nothing to change what she herself has called the vapid and hollow nature of confirmation hearings, assuring critics in the vaguest, most unobjectionable terms of her impartiality.


ELENA KAGAN, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: What I've learned most is that no one has a monopoly on truth or wisdom. I've learned that we make progress by listening to each other, across every apparent political or ideological divide. I've learned that we come closest to getting things right when we approach every person and every issue with an open mind. And I've learned the value of a habit Justice Stevens wrote about more than 50 years ago of understanding before disagreeing.

I will make no pledges this week other than this one: that if confirmed, I will remember and abide by all these lessons.


OLBERMANN: Republicans announced to "throw it at the wall and see what sticks" strategy at the outset, attacking everything from her admiration of a retired Israeli judge who was also admired by the right-wing Justice Antonin Scalia, throwing in her volunteer work to the presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis, her well-publicized decision as dean to uphold Harvard Law School's anti-gay discrimination policies by banning military recruiters until the ban was ruled to have jeopardized the entire university's federal funding. And even, potentially, scandals of the Clinton White House for which she worked in the late '90s.

There was, as well, spirited debate over which party's judges are more activists. Democrats hammering the Roberts' court decision to go far beyond the Citizens United case, and then on due decades of precedent, letting corporations pour endless money into political campaigns.

But the day was defined by a stunning and apparently coordinated attack on Kagan's association with and admiration for a giant of American history - most of the Republican judiciary committee members mentioning in at least some what disparaging terms - former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first black person to serve on the Supreme Court, the first black person to serve as solicitor general, so mainstream a figure that most of the times, he argued before the Supreme Court in the '50s and '60s, the Supreme Court agreed with him - including the landmark Brown versus Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court finally reversed its shameful endorsement of separate but equal, ending segregation as the law of the United States.

Senate Republicans today slammed Thurgood Marshall's clerk for admiring Thurgood Marshall.


SESSIONS: Ms. Kagan has associated herself with well-known activist judges who have used their power to redefine the meaning of words of our Constitution and laws in ways that not surprisingly have the results of advancing that judge's preferred social policies and agendas. She clerked for Judge Mikva and Justice Marshall, each well-known activists.

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: Justice Marshall's judicial philosophy, however, is not what I would consider to be mainstream. As he once explained, you do what you think is right and let the law catch up. He might be the epitome of a results-oriented judge.

And again, Ms. Kagan appears to enthusiastically embrace Justice Marshall's judicial philosophy, calling it among other things, a thing of glory.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: And at the end of the day, if you think more like Justice Marshall than Justice Rehnquist, so be it. The question is: can you make sure that you're not channeling your political agenda, your political leanings when it comes to time to render decisions.


OLBERMANN: Lord, there's a lot of stupidity in this country.

Let's bring in MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman, one of my arguments against what I just said, also senior Washington correspondent and political columnist of "Newsweek" magazine.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I was going to say, thanks for the introduction.

OLBERMANN: Present company absolutely excluded.

But by our count here, at least five of the seven committee GOPers trashed Marshall today. "Talking Points Memo" said they mentioned him 35 times with Thurgood Marshall, Jr. in the gallery.


OLBERMANN: What are they thinking other than, you know, we don't want these jobs anymore, please don't elect us and throw us out of the country and, you know, let's trash everybody we can who was of any use in American history for the last 50 years?

FINEMAN: Well, I was waiting for Senator Sessions there to call them well-known outside agitators.

OLBERMANN: Gee whiz. Yes.

FINEMAN: The outside agitators phrase, and I know Goody Marshall,

Thurgood Marshall, Jr., the son, and we stole glances there. I was in the

in the hearing room, just sort of shaking our heads here.

The thing is that they managed to maneuver themselves, the Republicans did, into a position of sounding like, at least by implication they disagreed with Brown versus Board of Education, because in that case, Marshall was the lead attorney, he was the NACP, the landmark legislation that was a guide post for him. Not really, yes, he said that thing about, you know, the law catches up.

But Marshall really stood for the proposition and Elena Kagan, in her opening remarks, really drove this point home. Marshall stood for the proposition that the slogan that's emblazoned on the - above the Supreme Court entrance way is true, "Equal Justice Under Law." And as she said, he stood for the idea of a fair shake for all Americans.

That's something that the Republicans just can't afford to be on the wrong side of. And they set themselves up to be run over by Kagan and by half the Democrats on the Senate panel, as well.

OLBERMANN: Yes, the idea that they, and among they, I'm including one of the Keebler elves who represents of the great state there. Are they trying to push, is that Marshall saw himself as above the actual law or at least not constrained by the actual law because he would rule what he thought was best for the country and what was right and just? Put this now into context in terms of Kagan's nomination for us.

FINEMAN: Well, as I say, she stressed the point that what the record of Marshall really stands for and what the record of the so-called activist court of the Warren years in the '50s, '60s, and early '70s stood for, was the idea of broadly interpreting individual rights to include racial minorities and religious minorities and sexual minorities and so forth. The idea of, again, equal justice under law, that this was the great achievement of those years.

And it's one, I think, that is as mainstream as is possible to be in America at this point. And sometimes I think, you know, this stuff sounds OK on paper in a conference - in a conference room at the federalist society where they're still debating Marbury versus Madison. But it just doesn't work in modern America. And it ends up making Sessions and Cornyn and these guys looking like they're from another century and another planet. It just - it just doesn't work in the modern context.

OLBERMANN: Just as tawny was not entirely wrong when he - I'm waiting for that. Now, so, all right, what - if she's a shoo-in as she seems to be despite this, is, in fact, the news here - as you suggested, that this is some nice panel discussion at the federalist society, not open to the public - even the GOPers who don't face primaries need to have their credentials stamped by the tea party of whoever is to the right of tea party for November?

FINEMAN: Well, maybe yes, but I don't think even for the tea partiers, this is the way to do it for the most part. If they want to really get the tea parties, they should have spent all of the time talking about big government, activist government, you know, all that kind of stuff, that they're going to comb through the hundreds of thousands of pages of stuff they've got from Kagan to look for.

To me, if they're going to be just impressing the tea party, that's their theme. Even with most of the tea partiers, and I've said this before here, I don't think resentment of integration and, you know, the social progress of the '60s is what the tea party is really about.

OLBERMANN: Let's hope not. Howard Fineman of MSNBC and "Newsweek," one of the great indications our American education system does work from time to time - thank you, Howard.

FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: On its final day of its session, the Supreme Court today coming down in favor of gun rights in a controversial five-to-five ruling, one that is likely to spur more gun control lawsuits nationwide. Majority on the court is ruling the Second Amendment's guarantee of the right to bear arms applies to state and local gun laws not just at the federal level.

The justices in minority vigorously dissenting - but what about the second part of that amendment, you know, the beginning, quote, "a well regulated militia"? I think it was nearly two years ago today that the Supreme Court first ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to carry a gun, that in another five-four decision. This new decision says that the nation's founders considered the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, quote, "among the fundamental rights necessary for our system of ordered liberty."

A victory this is for Otis McDonald, a plaintiff in the case who has wanted a handgun to protect himself from drug dealers and gang members on Chicago's south side. That city now is struggling with an epidemic of gun violence. At least 26 people shot over the weekend and three killed there.

But how soon Mr. McDonald might actually be able to buy a gun is unclear because the court failed to decide the constitutionality of the two gun control laws at issue in the case. It merely returned the case to the lower courts, leaving it to them to decide whether strict gun control laws can be reconciled with the Second Amendment.

To try to figure this one for us - we're joined now by Jonathan Turley, constitutional law expert, professor of George Washington University Law School, and from the greater Chicago land area.

Thanks for your time tonight, Jon.


OLBERMANN: If the justices did not actually toss the handgun ban in Chicago, is today's decision more symbolic than meaningful?

TURLEY: Well, it's pretty ironic, you know, given the Kagan hearing when they're complaining about results-oriented judges. This is a pretty results-oriented opinion. It's actually the reason that Alito was criticized by some of us when he came up for confirmation that he tended to have these outcome determinant types of opinions.

And what's fascinating about this is it's a bloody nightmare for lower courts, that he's basically saying, look, this thing is a fundamental right that applies to the states. And then basically says, good luck, buddies, try to figure it out the best way you can. And that's why Justice Breyer writes his dissent and says this is virtually a mission almost impossible, that you're going to have judges look at hundreds of different types of laws to see if they apply to a very generally worded opinion.

OLBERMANN: Now, in - there are two extremists sort of responses to this. One is: this is going to result in Tombstone, Arizona, 1881. Everyone's going to be able to pack heat whenever they want to, under any circumstances. And on the other hand, Mayor Bloomberg of New York who said today, it's a setback for gun control, but only a technical setback, that it's clear that the court is saying, if you refine these laws and make them more specific and make sure they apply to keeping the guns out of the hands of terrorists and criminals, et cetera, there won't be a problem.

Do you come down on either side or somewhere in the middle?

TURLEY: Somewhere in the middle. That is - it's important to remember that once you recognize this as a fundamental right that applies to all states, it triggers what's called the strict scrutiny test, which requires states and cities to show what's called a compelling interest. It's a very high standard. It's the same standard that applies to free speech - and you know how hard it is to restrict free speech in many direct conflicts.

So, a lot of these laws are going to go down under that standard. But Alito in his opinion goes out of his way, to his credit, to say, look, not all laws are going to be unconstitutional. We recognize that laws dealing with the mentally ill and for schools and those types of restrictions are likely to be preserved.

The problem is they really don't give much in terms of a standard for lower courts. I speak to judges around the country all the time, and this is the type of opinion that really sends them into orbit.


TURLEY: I mean, it is - it is a time of thing that says you guys figure it out. And there's one case we'll be watching called Nordyke in the ninth circuit - and that is in front of the court of appeals and could be in front of the Supreme Court and in front of a possible Justice Kagan in relatively short time.

OLBERMANN: The dissent and the majority opinion probably could not have been at further extremes in this. The dissent included the idea that the decision two years ago was wrong in the first place, saying the Second Amendment protected a federal right to - some federal right that everybody has to buy a gun. But it also said that even if that was a correct decision, it still shouldn't apply locally.

So, it's two steps removed from what the majority was saying here to the point of Kagan's supposed qualifications to be on the court, that she might be the broker who occasionally makes a five-four swing in one direction turn into a five-four swing in the other. With a dissent like this, was there even - would somebody with that magical power have found find any of the five to drag over to the other four?

TURLEY: This is - actually there's two cases like this. There's a gun case. There's also a case involving Christian law students, and these people are on different continents. So it is - it is ridiculous to suggest, you know, whatever benefits and advantages and pluses Kagan has, she's not going to bridge that.

These conservatives, people like Scalia are not going to say, you know what, you really made me look very deeply within my soul, I think I'll cross on the gun issue. This is a very ideologically divided court. And it's going to stay that way. She will swap out for the vote on Stevens. And the result would have been the same.

Stevens is going out with a very powerful dissent to add to his legacy. But that legacy in this area will remain unchanged in my view with Kagan taking that seat.

OLBERMANN: Jonathan Turley of George Washington University and the great state of Illinois - great thanks.

TURLEY: Thanks.

OLBERMANN: Day 70 in the Gulf. The same governor who all be refused to deploy the National Guard, who blamed the media for scaring off tourists with false reports of impending oil tides is now begging for federal help because the oil tide has hit Mississippi.


OLBERMANN: The same governor who said that the media was to blame, his beaches were not endangered, everything was great, now pleads for federal help as the BP oil disaster swamps his shores.

His mixed legacy and in the wake of his passing, the practical politics of replacing him and his vote on financial reform.

After he applauds the GOP's killing of the extension of jobless benefits, a "Special Comment" on the rush to send this country back to 1931.

And this top chronicler of the far-right interviews Alabama tea party candidate Rick "Gather Your Armies" Barber after his latest ad in which he and Lincoln defeat Obama-led slavery. Plus, we have a special announcement about him.

All ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Today, Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi called for greater action by BP and the federal government as oil begun to wash ashore at this state's beaches.

In our fourth story: this is the same governor who previously expressed concern for BP and the oil industry, and blamed the media for reports of oil threatening his state's beaches.

In the meantime, plans for better collection efforts at the Deepwater Horizon site will likely be delayed due to swells caused by tropical storm Alex.

Over the past two days, oil washed ashore at one of Mississippi' largest resort cities, Biloxi - with anecdotal reports of children stepping in oil, tourists cutting their vacations shorts. Oil has also been spotted at St. Andrew's beach and Gulf Park estates.

So, today, Governor Barbour declared that cleanup efforts must be greatly increased and he called on BP and federal officials to respond. Over the past two months, in preparation for the inevitable, the governor had deployed only 58 National Guard troops out of a total of possible 6,000 of them. And his cheap complaint about the whole thing was that the media was scaring people away.

Barbour has also criticized the moratorium on exploratory wells in the Gulf. And the day before BP agreed to create a $20 billion fund, Governor Barbour expressed concern about the money flow, quoting, "If BP is the responsible party under the law, they're to pay for everything. I do worry that this idea of making them make a huge escrow fund is going to make it less likely that they'll pay for everything. They need their capital to drill wells. They need their capital to produce income."

In the meantime, BP's planned to double oil collection at the Deepwater Horizon site will be delayed by six or seven days. According to a company official, workers need a flat sea, as it is called. And tropical storm Alex will - or could cause swells of feet to 12 feet despite expectations that the storm will pass west of the location.

Let's turn now to the Washington bureau chief of "Mother Jones" magazine, columnist for, David Corn.

David, good evening.


OLBERMANN: So, this is one of those, hey, Governor Barbour, where's your blame the media, blame the administration messiah now deals, is it?

CORN: Well, you know, when you start stepping on to tar balls, it's hard to blame the media elite for what's going on. I mean - I feel terrible for what's happening to the people who live in the Gulf Coast region. But here you have a governor in Mississippi who was a lobbyist for big oil whose campaign for governor, who fundraises for big oil for years.

And, you know, for 70 days - 70 days he was denying the obvious. And when - excuse me when President Obama authorized the deployment of about 6,000 troops, National Guardsmen and women who could help prepare for this eventually, Governor Barbour took him up on 1 percent, actually 0.53 percent, 0.9 percent, less than 1 percent of that. And now, you know, he's kind of, you know, has to do something.

So, you know, this is not - you know, the chickens coming home for roost. It's the oils coming and hitting one of the slickest politicians in the nation.

OLBERMANN: Very nice.

Does he actually convert on anything meaningful? Or is he still going to fret about this moratorium being impacting 1/100 of the Gulf's 3,600 wells? Will he still be worrying about taking too much from BP? I mean, any of the substantive things are going to come up?

CORN: Oh, I'm guessing, if more oil hits the coastline, you will not hear him talking in a sympathetic way towards BP. He won't be complaining about the media. You know, being a governor, being an executive, people can measure your performance rather obviously. And he ended up with decent grades from the locals in terms of what happened with Hurricane Katrina, because he was governor at that point, too, of Mississippi. I think we're going to see a big case of what have you done for me lately, though, in the next week or two coming out of Mississippi.

OLBERMANN: Is Governor Jindal the template for what we're going to see with Governor Barbour, because in Louisiana, Mr. Jindal today said the federal government needs to lead or get out of the way. And he again complained red tape is delaying the federal response that is necessary for Louisiana's benefit, but hasn't he given a bunch of conflicting answers about what he wants the governor to do? Hasn't he all over the map as well?

CORN: Well, he, too, has not used all those National Guard personnel that the president authorized for use. He's been back and forth with the federal government on whether to build a berm to protect part of the Louisiana coastline. And the federal government gave him permission to do so as long as he didn't dig up sand from behind the berm which could create a hole, which could make matters worse, which is what the state proceeded to do. So, and the fed said, wait a second, you've got to stop doing that and dredge a different way. He then complained about red tape.


CORN: So, that was kind of a phony complaint that still is an argument going back and forth at the moment.

OLBERMANN: I'm not advocating this by any stretch of imagination - but is there enough oil to wash ashore to get any of these people to recognize that big oil industry and poor government regulation is a bad mix?

CORN: I don't understand - the Republican position up until maybe even today was we want small government and big oil. Small government and big oil, you put the two together, no regulations and big oil that cares more about lobbying than it does about safety regulations, and you see what happens.

I love for them to campaign on this locally and nationally, Haley Barbour talked about running for president in 2012. I think that's a pretty far stretch.

But in any event, let them be the party of small government and big oil, that can only help the Democrats.

OLBERMANN: Small government, and big oil, and a chicken covered in grease in every pot.

David Corn of "Mother Jones" - thanks for your time, as always, David.

CORN: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Political reeducation is possible if it starts within the many legacies of the late Senator Robert Byrd. That maybe the most lasting. Lawrence O'Donnell, ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: The truly mixed legacy of Senator Robert Byrd and the practical implications of his passing. And the Alabama Tea Partier who claims Abraham Lincoln would agree with him, taxation with representation is slavery.

First, a quick sanity break. Let's play Oddball.

To Denver, Colorado. I fell on my keys. When big bellies are welcome and flops are winners, it's the 14th Annual Belly Flop Contest. Help with the launch was obviously allowed. Denver firefighters competed against civilians for the crown. No explanation for this sea nymph. Didn't I see you in a Rick Barber founding fathers ad? Since the winner was based on most creative, it looks like this little filly won.

To Holyoke (ph), Massachusetts, former home of Rachel Maddow, where nothing brings out the town's emergency services like a bear in a tree. No disrespect. Mind you, getting a bear out of a tree is not that easy. The environmental police were called in. And the 250-pound black bear required three shots from a tranquilizer gun as well as the promise of keys to the city. He was later released back into the forest.

But he did not take away the prize of the best unconscious bear acrobatic. Yes, even that big guy was safely returned to freedom and a life of prosperity and happiness for all.

Lawrence O'Donnell on the passing of Robert Byrd, the man and the replacement of Robert Byrd, the senator. Dave Weigel on the Tea Partier now implying Lincoln would side with Alabama against Obama and, quote, slavery. And a brief Special Comment on the absence of human feeling in those who could postulate that extending unemployment benefits encourages unemployment, ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: He was the longest serving senator in American history, a Democrat with a truly mixed legacy, a child of Appalachia. He considered his proudest achievement giving hope to the people back home in West Virginia. A former Klansman, he had filibustered against the Civil Rights Act, only to later support other civil rights measures.

He supported the war in Vietnam, but was one of the few who opposed authorizing the war in Iraq. Robert Carlyle Byrd, dead at the age of 92. And in our third story, as the tributes continue to pour in, the death of Senator Byrd not only signifies an end to an era in Washington, it also presents a political problem for the remaining Democrats.

At this hour, the fate of the Wall Street reform bill unknown, because Democratic leadership was planning on holding the final votes this week. But without Senator Byrd's vote, there is no clear path to the 60 needed to break the expected filibuster from the Republicans. The Senate's reform bill may - passed in May with the help of four Republicans, Senators Susan Collins and Snowe of Maine, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

Now, Senator Brown is hinting he may vote with the GOP. Democratic Senator Russ Feingold confirming today he's still a no on the latest version of the bill. As for Mr. Byrd's seat, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announcing earlier a special election will not be held until 2012, leaving the state's Democratic governor, Joe Manchin, to appoint someone to fill the seat.

Senator Byrd, who passed away early this morning, eulogized by his Senate colleagues throughout the day. A black drape placed over his desk on the Senate floor. Tonight, flags at the U.S. Capitol, the White House, throughout West Virginia flying at half staff.

Time now to call in MSNBC political analyst, former Democratic chief of staff of the Senate Finance Committee, Lawrence O'Donnell. Lawrence, good evening.


OLBERMANN: In terms of the Wall Street reform bill, what does Harry Reid do now without Robert Byrd? Does he still force a vote?

O'DONNELL: Well, he is probably going to have to pick up a Democrat. Russ Feingold, if you actually listen to what he says, to my ear, sounds exactly like Dennis Kucinich about a week before Dennis Kucinich changed his vote on health care reform. In fact, Feingold has been saying, I'm not going to enable something that doesn't do the job to be passed so that people can pretend it does the job.

Those are almost Dennis Kucinich's words exactly. I think this president and this Democratic caucus, Harry Reid in the Senate, Nancy Pelosi, can get that vote from either Maria Cantwell or Feingold if they need the Democratic vote to do it. It looks like they will, because Scott Brown seems to be moving away from what he's calling a 19 billion dollar tax. Some argue that it's more like an FDIC fee that the banks are paying in order to, you know, complete the regimen that regulates all of their activities, as FDIC does already. And so it looks like there's an available Democrat I think that can pull this out for them.

OLBERMANN: Explain the decision by the secretary of state and the ruling by the secretary of state of West Virginia about the special election not coming until 2012. This was - as the Wellington quote goes about Waterloo, was a near run thing, wasn't it?

O'DONNELL: Well, the West Virginia statute is written in a way that is going to have a few arguments going over this for the next few days. But it seems to indicate, if they've already had the primary election, as they have had in West Virginia this year, you cannot then schedule this special election after that. And so it looks like this 2012 decision is safe. It is very good for the Democrats. The Democrats would not want to be defending that seat in 2010 in West Virginia, in this political climate.

They may not be able to defend it in 2012. But at least they can hang on to it through the appointment through this period of time.

OLBERMANN: Governor Manchin is saying he's not going to appoint himself to the seat, but one of the spokespersons said the governor would consider important things coming through Washington that directly relate to our state. Obviously, that would be mining and climate legislation. What does that mean for the Democrats and another upcoming key vote, which is the energy reform bill?

O'DONNELL: That means the democrats cannot count on this appointee in any energy vote or any vote that might negatively impact the coal industry. The congressional delegation, both senators, congressmen from West Virginia are - have always historically been aligned to some degree with the coal industry and with coal interests. It is their biggest employer. It is their biggest industry. They protect it as best they can. And so Jay Rockefeller, who was a liberal on many issues, is very careful on how he represents coal interests.

And so I'm sure that Governor Manchin will follow in that tradition. He's not going to be appointing someone who is going to be eagerly looking for ways to restrict our use of coal in this country.

OLBERMANN: Senator Pat Leahy said that Robert Byrd was the keeper of the Senate flame. When I have thought of Senator Byrd, I have always thought of him as sort of representative of the nation's ability to grow, even at times in our history when it seemed like the ability to grow had died. He certainly showed that you can evolve. What do you think is going to define Robert Byrd's legacy?

O'DONNELL: Well, because the career is so long, Keith, because it's so many decades long in the congress, just like Ted Kennedy's, there are several different careers there. And some sections of it, he has much more right to be proud of than others. I think what he ends up as, in terms of legacy, his final legacy is one of respect for the institution of the Senate, in fact, a reverence for it, Keith.

When I was on the Senate floor and Robert Byrd was on the Senate floor, I felt like I was in church. We had to behave very carefully in all sorts of ways. And he - and part of this throughout the - both parties, with him gone and with that reverence and that respect is dropping every day. I just - I just don't see how this Senate is going to be operating in any sort of sensible way in the future.

OLBERMANN: Lawrence O'Donnell, soon to be coming to MSNBC prime time lineup. Haven't had a chance to congratulate you on the air about that. Congratulations, my friend.

O'DONNELL: Well, thank you, Keith, for letting me sit in that chair. That apparently is the route to the prime time lineup. I can't wait to see who you select next to fill in for you.

OLBERMANN: I'm going to have an auction. I'm finally going to get smart and have an auction. Thanks, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: So having a fake George Washington tell him to gather his armies was not enough. Tea Party boy is back with a fake Abraham Lincoln, helping Alabama fight slavery from Obama.

Special comment tonight; it is not politics, it is simply not being human. The Republicans cut off the only hope of more than a million jobless Americans.

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, amidst reports General McChrystal is to retire from the military, the man whose article began the process, Michael Hastings of "Rolling Stone," will join her.


OLBERMANN: Sarah Palin outdoes herself at a speech at Cal State Stanislaus, ahead.

First, as promised, a Special Comment on jobless benefits.

A year ago, a heartless Missouri State Representative named Cynthia Davis lashed out against school summer breakfast programs. She didn't understand the point. Why should the government keep kids from having breakfast at home with their folks? This woman was so disconnected from privation and want and poverty that it had not occurred to her that not every child has enough food to eat. She added this insulting, demeaning postscript for the hungry children of Missouri: "tip, if you work for McDonald's, they will feed you for free during your break."

As of this month, with their members in the Senate killing a temporary emergency extension of benefits to the jobless, Cynthia Davis's blinkered, belligerent, bestial attitude might as well be the official platform of the Republican party. George Will, rapidly becoming the spokesman for the year 1931, said yesterday that the Republican senators, quoting, "believe that when you subsidize something, you'll get more of it. And we're subsidizing unemployment. That is the long-term unemployment, those unemployed more than six months. Is at an all-time high. And they do not think it's stimulative, because what stimulates is the consumer and savers' sense of permanent income. Everyone knows that unemployment benefits are not permanent income."

So the 1,400,000 Americans who will have lost their unemployment benefits by the end of this week are better off because George Will and the Republicans believe this will get them off their duffs and into those job openings that the Republicans spend the rest of the time reminding everybody don't exist, and that's all Obama's fault.

Hungry kids were eating breakfasts at schools in Missouri because the government wanted to break up their families, not because their families did not have enough money to properly feed them. And the unemployed are unemployed because there are jobless benefits, not because the last administration crashed the economy for the benefit of Wall Street. And their kids will now be eating breakfasts at schools in Missouri because -

And the people that believe these sadistic fantasies, you would consider voting for them?


OLBERMANN: A Tea Party congressional candidate from Alabama invokes slavery in his new commercial. Is he for it or against it?

That's next, but first get out your pitchforks and your torches, time for tonight's Worst Persons in the World, brought to you by Gold Panic, the official sponsor of Glenn Beck's desecration of the memory of Martin Luther King, coming two months from today, August 28th. Listen to Beck blame black people from the same steps of the Lincoln memorial. "Blacks don't own Martin Luther King," Beck said today. Dr. King may have had a dream, but Mr. Beck has a whole series of hallucinations.

The bronze to "US Magazine," actually it's "US Magazine," and every other gossip sheet that simply reported this tripe. Thursday, it reported that my friend Jason Bateman, quote, "outraged 2,000 people" - it's an outrage - Thursday when he cut in line to get a new iPhone at a Los Angeles Apple store. "Everyone literally started booing and hissing," a source tells Yeah, not exactly. To my knowledge, only two people today reporting on this. One was a blogger named Jessica Costello, who was one of those web examiners. She got this statement from the Apple store in question at the Grove in Los Angeles. "He was in line at 6:00 a.m., like everyone else who wanted the iPhone. Yes, the article was correct in that he was taken out of line by an Apple employee. But they failed to mention in all these stories that the paparazzi had spotted him first and swarmed him like bees in an angry hive. As he was not able to find cover from this, or he'd lose his spot in line, like anyone else would, we quickly decided that this was unfair to one of our customers, and offered to extract him from the frenzy. Inside the store, he was given no special treatment. He is one of our regular customers, who is here even when there isn't an iPhone launch."

There was some booing, apparently, of the paparazzi who also annoyed the crowd and the neighborhood at 6:00 in the morning. And Jason booed himself. He gets confused. Just remember when you read crap like this in places like "US Weekly," it is usually made up.

The runner-up, Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle, still running for the Senate from Nevada, or whatever planet she's actually from. Now on the lunatic fringe website ResistNet, she's reiterated her solution to the BP disaster. "I was just saying we are over regulating some of our industries. And, of course, the oil and petroleum industries is one of those we've been over regulating. And that is what has been dependent on foreign oil. So that's the kind of thing we need to do with all our natural resources, make sure the government isn't over regulating those industries and causing them to be outsourced."

Because clearly BP's fatal fire in Texas City and the fatal explosion of Deepwater Horizon are the result of over regulation of those American companies like British Petroleum. Nitwit.

But our winner, yes, Sister Sarah. You've by now heard about the gaffe fest that was her speech at Cal State Stanislaus on Saturday. She said, perhaps, 100 things that brand her as a phony. But none is more symbolic as her imbecility, her corner-cutting, her downright endorsement of stupidity instead of intelligence than this one.


SARAH PALIN, FMR. GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: Because this is Reagan country. Yeah! And perhaps it was destiny that the man who went to California's Eureka College would become so woven within and interlinked to the Golden State.


OLBERMANN: Eureka College is in Eureka, Illinois. Illinois, where Ronald Reagan was from. There is a town of Eureka in California, but it doesn't have a college. And Palin went to three different colleges and doesn't have an education. Well, that woman is an idiot.

The half governor of Alaska, today's worst person - there you go again - in the world.


OLBERMANN: Taking advertising liberties with Abraham Lincoln is nothing new. For a century and a half, politicians and others have been crediting him with words he never said, and popular culture has used his likeness for comedic effect in all manner of wacky situations. Take Abraham Lincoln from "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," told students to be excellent to each other. How about the ax battling blood suckers from the trailer for "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter."

Our number one story, those, of course, were plausible extrapolations of Lincoln. You should see what a Tea Party ad in Alabama has tried to turn him into. Rick Barber is seeking the Republican nomination for the second Congressional district there. Earlier this month, he released a web video in which he lectures actors dressed as founding fathers about our current tyrannical government. And the ad ends with a declaration from the guy in the four dollar George Washington wig to gather your armies.

Today, Mr. Barber is out with a new ad featuring a conversation between himself and the 16th president.


RICK BARBER, TEA PARTY CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS: Hey, Abe, if someone's forced to work for months to pay taxes so that a total stranger can get a free meal, medical procedure, or a bailout, what's that called? What's it called when one man is forced to work for another?


BARBER: We shed a lot of blood to stop that in the past, didn't we?

Now look at us. We're all becoming slaves to our government.


OLBERMANN: First off, don't call him Abe. Joining me now from Washington is reporter Dave Weigel, fresh off an interview with Abraham Lincoln's co-star. And we are very proud to announce is, as of like 20 minutes ago, an MSNBC contributor. Welcome, Dave.

DAVID WEIGEL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, thanks, Keith. I appreciate it.

OLBERMANN: And you thought last week was fun. Wait until you see what this week holds for you. Mr. Barber suggests we're all slaves to the government. And then we have images of concentration camps. Did he defend this to you, either as an ad or just in terms of a - you know, the continuity of the theme here?

WEIGEL: Yeah, he defended it pretty instantly. He stands by this. The way he put it to me was that people like him because he's not politically correct. And other candidates are not going to explain to Americans how close we are to tyranny. The way he defended the imagery of World War II is that, look, the Germans in 1933 didn't think they could go down a tyrannical path, and Americans didn't think they could go down a tyrannical path.

So anyone who thinks they're going to walk him down from this is totally wrong. Lad Allenger (ph), who directed the ad, just likes to up the ante with these viral Youtube videos of these candidates.

OLBERMANN: I was going to ask, is there a reason he doesn't go whole hog on this? Why is he limiting himself to Washington and Lincoln? Why not Jesus and Gandhi and Elvis Presley?

WEIGEL: Well, Lincoln was a Republican. And I mean, I think - I want to defend, too, the usage of Lincoln here, because we know from history that the real Lincoln had a more high-pitched voice than the one that ends up in some commercials. And this Lincoln has a high-pitched voice.

This is actually pretty resonant. It really is. It's pretty resonant for the way a lot of people think about taxation. Taxation is forced. Now, is it gauche to compare it to slavery? I'm not going to tell an Alabama voter what's gauche. But, you know, from what I can tell, everyone knows Rick Barber thinks like this. A lot of people think like him, maybe not a majority of the Republican primary electorate.

OLBERMANN: One thing, did Barber express to you any awareness? Never mind talking about being politically correct, just being correct. Is he aware that they still tend not to like Mr. Lincoln in Alabama for various reasons? Or did he seem to be aware that Lincoln was the president under whom the first income tax was established in 1862, during the Civil War, and thus if you're going to pin the slavery that Barber is essentially complaining about on a president, you'd have to pin it on Lincoln. Did any of that sort of register?

WEIGEL: Well, there's that and forced conscription. But no, he's trying to make a point. In these conversations with various founding fathers - and I guess we include Lincoln in that group for some reason - he just really thinks that's the only way to bring people to this point. And I think that's resonant with the way Tea Partiers make points that a lot of people laugh at, as a way of saying, look, it doesn't feel like much when the government takes this out of your paycheck. And it won't feel like much when they say your energy bill's not going to go up. But let's take it back to the these first elemental principles.

I remember an ad Russ Feingold ran in 2007 or something, a video ad, where he talked about the Patriot Act by having - not him, probably more clever - but some actor talking to George Washington and telling him all the great fascist powers he could have if he wanted to. So there is a grand tradition of summoning the founding fathers, Ouija board style, and having them make a point for you.

OLBERMANN: Always, you give them reverb, radio reverb, reverb. Last point that is almost lost in this entire thing; how does the race stand? Is he going to win the primary? Does he have a chance in the general?

WEIGEL: Well, he's running against a candidate that national Republicans supported a bit more. He surprisingly forced a runoff with her in this primary. Local radio doesn't like him that much. His campaign organization is improving as a result of picking up all this attention. But this ad was directed by the guy who did Dale Peterson's ad. You remember Dale Peterson shooting at signs. He actually cameos in this ad, if you watch the whole thing. Dale Peterson didn't win.

So Barber is going to get a lot more attention than he should. He might get more speaking engagements out of this. In the general, whoever wins this is going to face Bobby Bright, who is a really conservative Democrat, who, unlike Parker Griffith, decided to remain in the party and try to win in November. The odds are still with Bobby Bright that he can win this, despite a lack of color he might have compared to an ad like this.

OLBERMANN: MSNBC contributor Dave Weigel, great thanks as always, and good luck with this.

WEIGEL: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Thank you, Dave. That's Countdown for this, June 28th. It is the 2,615th day since President Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq, the 2,204th day since he declared victory in Afghanistan, and it is the 70th day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.