Wednesday, October 27, 2010

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, October 27, 2010
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Special Comment:
If the Tea Party wins, America loses
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Guests: Nick Nyhart, Chris Kofinis



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

The plot to buy America. U.S. Chamber of Commerce job one: It wants the Congress it thinks it's going to buy to roll back enforcement of the anti-bribery Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Is this working? The chairman of the Democratic Congressional Committee says early voting by Democrats is well ahead of where it was in 2006.

Don't tread on me, tread on her. New video of the moments before the assault. Does it materially change the story? Does it distract from the Rand Paul campaign county coordinator now pulling a Mrs. Clarence Thomas?


TIM PROFITT, FORMER RAND PAUL CAMPAIGN COORDINATOR: I would like her to apologize to me, to be honest with you.


OLBERMANN: The fraud of, quote, "voter fraud." Arizona's law requiring proof of citizenship when you register to vote is struck down by the courts.

And - my "Special Comment": In their own words and deeds, what a Tea Party America would look like, from defunding the enforcement of any Supreme Court orders with which they disagree, to threatening - as Christine O'Donnell's campaign has now done, to, quote, "crush and sue" this radio station because it videotaped its interview with her and caught her trying to stop the interview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Criticizing him on running for county executive


CHRISTINE O'DONNELL (R), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: I want to talk about what matters to the Delaware voters.


OLBERMANN: Thirty-two candidates, one trip backward to 1950 - or 1890.

A "Special Comment": Vote backward, vote Tea Party.

All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.



OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Wednesday, October 27th, six days until the 2010 midterm elections.

And while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this afternoon the talk of Democratic defeat is a tactic to discourage Democrats from voting, predicting a fight to the finish and touting Hispanic turnout up by 15 percent from the last midterms.

In our fifth story tonight: The rallying cry comes on the heels of new reports detailing just who would be in charge if Republicans did, in fact, control one or both houses of Congress next year, and who would control the Republicans who control Congress.

The House of Representatives is seen as the better bet to change hands on a tide of right-wing outrage against spending.

So, who would run the Appropriations Committee? The ranking Republican is Congressman Jerry Lewis, notorious for earmarks - and according to the Public Campaign Action Fund, the recipient of more than $888,000 from lobbyists over his career.

Republican Dave Camp would run Ways and Means - center stage for trying to rollback health care reform. Health and insurance industries having injected more than $3 million into his coffers.

Spencer Bachus, heir presumptive at the Financial Services Committee, has securities and investment companies to thank for more than $1 million.

Howard "Buck" McKeon would head up Armed Services - military contractors having armed him with a career total of $842,000. In the 2008 election alone, they only gave him $86,000, according to "The New York Times." But this time, with the chairmanship in the crosshairs, they've shelled out nearly $400,000. An unnamed lobbyist who knows McKeon telling "The Times," quote, "Business should be very good."

Congressman Doc Hastings opposed new safety procedures for offshore drilling after Deepwater Horizon. He got $10,000 from oil and gas in 2008. This year, the wannabe chairman of the Natural Resources Committee gets $70,000 pumped in from oil and gas.

And the rich people who run these industries are not nearly donating to campaigns. They are also funding anonymous ads against Democrats to ensure that the Republicans they're backing will be running those committees. Nor, it would seem, are they overly concerned about whether or not those ads are true.

"CQ Politics" reporting that two ads paid for with money paid funneled through the American Action Network run by former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman and Eric Cantor's former chief of staff have been pulled from the air. This one yanked by a FOX affiliate in Connecticut for its lie that health care reform meant, quote, "jail time for anyone without coverage."

Another pulled from the air by NBC's affiliate in Denver for claiming this:


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Viagra for rapists? With my tax dollars? And Congressman Perlmutter voted for it.


OLBERMANN: No. No, he didn't.

Of course, the candidates would not be the only new Republicans in town. They'd have to hire people do the nuts and bolts of making Washington run.

So, who will run the offices of all the new anti-Washington, tea-flavored outsiders? Insiders, lobbyists.

"CQ Politics" again reporting that speaker-wannabe, John Boehner, and Republican Whip Cantor have already drawn up a list to about 75 to 80 candidates to run the offices of new House Republicans as their chiefs of staff, including, quote, "current and former Capitol Hill staffers and lobbyists."

A Cantor spokesperson saying, quote, "It's important that newly-elected Republicans have access to experienced, competent staff, so that they can hit the ground running."

An unnamed Republican lobbyist putting it this way: "You want to be sure that the newbies when they hit town do not necessarily bring their campaign staff to run their congressional offices." Why not? Perhaps because repealing health care and extending tax cuts are not the only things on the agenda for the rich people who pay those lobbyists.

The Chamber of Commerce - the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest secret right-wing ad buyer, today released a report calling for weakening the FCPA. What the hell's that? The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which punishes American businesses for bribing officials overseas.

Quote, "Unfortunately for the business community, an active FCPA enforcement environment appears likely to continue."

The chamber wants to make it easier for American companies to do business with corrupt officials, even, quote, "in countries where many companies are state owned, e.g., China."

Even despite alleged hostility toward referencing foreign laws, pushing British and Italian laws as models for America's on this topic. Such improvements, the report says, are best suited for congressional action.

Let's turn to Nick Nyhart, executive director of the Public Campaign Action Fund.

Thank you for your time tonight, Mr. Nyhart.

NICK NYHART, PUBLIC CAMPAIGN ACTION FUND: Sure. Thanks for having me on, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Your group released this report today on the donations from the big businesses to the expect chairmen to be, or the likely ones of the Republican Party if they took the House. Why'd you do this?

NYHART: Well, most Americans want a government that's of, for, and by the people. And we may be about to get a government that's of the special interests. If you have an elections paid for by special interests, that's what you're going to se when the legislations come out, and we wanted to point that out.

OLBERMANN: How different is this from other years or from the Democrats? I mean, the answer to this would be: this always happens, right?

NYHART: Well, to be sure, it's a bipartisan problem. But there is more money this year than we have ever seen before. House races are going to go way over $1 billion; Senate and House together, over $2 billion. That's an awful lot of money and I think it's important to look at what the people want in return.

OLBERMANN: The premise of this Tea Party campaign is opposition to big spending. How much of their influence do you see in assessing whether a Republican Congress would be any different at all from the ones that sank this country into debt?

NYHART: Well, voters in 2006 voted for change. In 2008, they voted for change. And I think we're about to see voters asking for change again in 2010.

But if you don't change who's funding the elections, if you rely on big money interests to pay for campaigns, you're going to see business as usual in Washington. So I think many Tea Party people are going to be very disappointed, and you just pointed out yourself, that maybe the new head of the Appropriations Committee, which hands out earmarks, has taken hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars, nearly $900,000, from D.C. lobbyists.

So, do you really expect things to change when you have this kind of funding of elections?

OLBERMANN: I mentioned the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and this call on the new Congress to make it easier for rich Americans to bribe officials overseas and then get away with it if they're caught - which seems to sort of represent part of the American spirit, in a bizarre way.

But what else is on the agenda, and not necessarily on the media radar, to this point?

NYHART: Well, one interesting thing is the Chamber is running ads in nine states that go after Democrats for, quote, "being job killers." And at the same time in those states, companies there have outsourced 1.4 million jobs in these nine states. And the Chamber itself has said that it wants to - its political goal is to make it easier for Chamber policies to pass in Congress. And the Chamber wants to make it easier to outsource jobs.

So, there's a lot of double talk, and I think media spotlight on some of that Chamber hypocrisy would be good.

OLBERMANN: To your knowledge, do any of the Tea Party people know about any of the things that you've released?

NYHART: Well, I think they're seeing some of it, and I think there is worry that - that they're - we know they're uncomfortable with the big money funding, but I think, right now, there is no choice among candidates. There is big money out there and there is no way to - for candidates to avoid it.

Congress could pass campaign finance reforms that would change that, and they've come close to doing it in this past session, at least in the House with the Fair Elections Now Act. And we know Tea Party people support that kind of change in who funds politics. But we'll see.

Again, business-as-usual money, and more of it than ever before probably means less change in Washington, not more.

OLBERMANN: Nick Nyhart, the executive director of Public Campaign Action Fund - tremendously informative, great thanks for your time, sir.

NYHART: Thanks.

OLBERMANN: The new video evidence from the Rand Paul campaign head-stomping in Kentucky and the new demand of an apology - from the head-stomper.


OLBERMANN: Video of her provides new insight, but not necessarily new justification for the head-stomping by the Rand Paul campaign coordinator.

The stomper, meanwhile, has insisted she owes him an apology. No, seriously.

Voters behind bars. Republicans ready ads and Election Day ballot security teams to intimidate voters - and vote backward, vote Tea Party. My "Special Comment" - ahead.


OLBERMANN: After he violently attacked and stomped on a supporter's head, a former coordinator for the Rand Paul campaign, Tim Profitt, takes a page out of the Ginni Thomas playbook - blames the victim, and now, Mr. Profitt wants Lauren Valle to consider apologizing to him.

But in our fourth story: will a new video of the moments before the assault distract from all that?

Speaking with WKYT in Lexington, Kentucky, Profitt says he doesn't believe his actions were that big a deal - even so, he refused to show his face on camera.


PROFITT: I would look for her to apologize to me, to be honest with you.


OLBERMANN: Profitt, shown here with his face somewhat exposed, at least one of them, explaining that Miss Valle was a professional, and, quote, "initiated" the whole thing. And if his actions seemed extreme, it was due to his medical condition.


PROFITT: I put my foot on her and I did push her down, at the very end, and I told her to stay down. I actually put my foot on her, to - I couldn't bend over, because I have issues with my back.


OLBERMAN: Your issues are.

The victim, Lauren Valle, appeared on this news hour last night and explained her objective in attending the event was to have Rand Paul see a sign she had brought. Here's part of her account.


LAUREN VALLE, MOVEON.ORG SUPPORTER: As Rand's car pulls up, they step in front of me and start to block me, and so, I stepped off the curb to try and get around them. And at that point, they pursued me around the car, chased me around the car, and what you see in the video is when I'm in the front of the car, and that's when I'm pulled down.


OLBERMANN: As you are about to see, Miss Valle was truthful in her description of what happened. What she failed to mention, in a sense, she did achieve her objective, that she described.

Newly released video we did not have access to last night shows Miss Valle approaching Mr. Paul's car with her sign. She was then held back, before heading to the front of the car.




OLBERMANN: After that, Miss Valle was dragged to the ground and stomped on the head, after any possible mistake of a threat had clearly been avoided. released the following statement about the incident. Quote, "Laure made no secret of the fact that she was trying to get a picture with Rand Paul and her satirical sign at this event. If the candidate or any of his supporters felt threatened by a girl with a poster, once they pulled her away from the car, the threat had passed. Nothing justifies the violence of her head being stomped on the curb once she was on the ground. This is nothing less than the men involved and the Paul campaign once again trying to justify an obvious assault once they had been exposed."

Joining me s now: Democratic strategist, Chris Kofinis.

Chris, good evening.


OLBERMANN: The right, through FOX News and other outlets of that sort, used that new video and said, essentially - see, she didn't tell the whole story. Does that tactic work in that case? Does that new video change the story in any material way?

KOFINIS: It doesn't change it one iota. I mean, you know, maybe I'm old fashioned, but you don't make excuses about violence. And, you know, and it's even worse when it comes to violence against this woman.

I mean, this - this was a gross overreaction, even if you could, you know, tolerate, you know, the notion that somehow they were concerned about Paul's security, then you could have easily held her back. But this was aggressive, it was over the top, and it was violent. And that, you know, Paul's campaign hasn't gone further in terms of apologizing more than he has, I find, you know, disturbing, and I think, you know, this is going to be a problem for this campaign over the remaining days.

OLBERMANN: Yes. If she were a serious threat at any point in the other video, as the car comes out, the actual security people either wouldn't let the car stop, it would have the car keep going, until they knew where she was, or they would have gotten her out of the way, in some way. And clearly, they didn't think she was any kind of threat, because they just let her go.

But the story itself and the politics of this - does it have the proverbial legs politically? Can it affect that Senate race? Or, in, fact, are Rand Paul's people happy with that imagery of boot heel on head?

KOFINIS: It could. You know, these kind of events that happen during the last days of an election can have, you know, dramatic effects. In the case of the Kentucky race - I mean, you had a tight race that I think then moved towards Paul's favor with the Aqua Buddha ad that seemed to hurt Conway.

Now, I think, this particular event and particular action and the coverage that it's getting - I can only imagine the coverage it's getting in the state of Kentucky - I think it has a chance to affect the outcome. In particular, if you look at the recent polling that came out today, you know, amongst registered voters, it's basically a statistical tie. Amongst likely voters, Paul has about a seven-point lead.

But I think in terms of two critical groups, women and undecideds, this could have an impact. It really kind of depends on the dynamics over the last few days. But, you know, it's a tough state, a conservative state, and it's obviously a tough state for Conway. But it could have an impact.

OLBERMANN: The symbolism there. The - Mr. Profitt, who's asking for an apology, would not - would not allow his face to be shown during the interview, even though his picture is everywhere on the Internet with Rand Paul.

We'll see this later on in the "Special Comment," this video of Christine O'Donnell trying to get a videotape of a radio interview that she did destroyed because she couldn't control it, and there's a gesture that she makes during it.

Sharron Angle just said again, she's not going to do any interviews.

Does this raise any alarms with unenthusiastic Democrats or with independents, you know, that, hey - the "hey, wait a minute" moment, that these people are afraid to face questions or defend their positions with facts, or, you know, will only do so if their backs are turned to the camera?

KOFINIS: Well, if it doesn't, I'm not sure what could. I mean, we've had a lot of "hey, wait a moments" in this election.


KOFINIS: I mean, these are - and I've said this before - some of the most extreme, radical candidates running on the Republican tickets across the country that I've seen in my life, that I think most of us have seen in our life. Some of these candidates, if they win, are going to take this country in a radical, I would argue, potentially dangerous - definitely extreme direction.

I think the one thing that is frustrating me and has frustrated me this entire cycle is - to be frank about it - I don't think we have done, and the White House has done, a good enough job of pointing this out, of painting this narrative that the choice isn't about Republicans and Democrats. It isn't about mainstream Americans and Republicans. It's about mainstream and extreme.

And these are the candidates that could win.

And so, I think it has a chance if you take all of these actions that have been happening over this cycle to motivate and mobilize disaffected - not only Democrats - but I would say undecided and moderates. I think it just - I think people have to really think long and hard of how critical this election is.

OLBERMANN: Mainstream versus extreme - I think you've got something with that. We got six days, go ahead.

Democratic strategist, Chris Kofinis - thank you for that and thanks for your time.

KOFINIS: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Some of us have seen from the beginning what the Tea Party really is. Tonight, we'll devote the bulk of our program to letting its candidates speak for themselves. It's worst than we thought.

My "Special Comment" - ahead.


OLBERMANN: We've condensed things tonight for the sake of a 21-minute-long analysis of the positions and proposals of 32 different Tea Party candidates, the most backward-looking platform since John Dickinson refused to sign the Declaration of Independence. My "Special Comment" - ahead.

First, preventing voting by spreading fear of massive, quote, "voter fraud," unquote. Voter fraud, for which the total number of convictions during the Bush administration's witch hunt for it was 20, 2-0. Next on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Despite the perpetual and aggressive efforts to prove otherwise, voter fraud is a straw man propped up by Republicans every election cycle. And this year, they are joined in many instances by the Tea Party.

But all you really need to know about so-called anti-voter fraud efforts is that they are anti-voter. And the term "voter integrity" might as well be code for "voter intimidation."

At least Arizona has once again shown the country how not to do it. Now that a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down one of Arizona's laws. This one required people to show proof of American citizenship to register to vote. The court said that the law conflicted with National Voter Registration Act.

Since the offending Arizona law was passed in 2004, few illegal aliens tried to register to vote, according to the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund.

But 30,000 actual citizens have been rejected to vote under the law. And there, you have the template. It's all about intimidation of legitimate voters and the suppression of votes, except that most anti-voter fraud efforts are even more overtly partisan.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, Tea Party organizers and related groups announced that they were offering a $50 reward for anyone who turned in a person eventually prosecuted for voter fraud - this according to "The New York Times." Organizers also announced surveillance squads to videotape so-called irregularities.

In Milwaukee, there have been protests over this billboard, "We voted illegally," with images of people behind bars. The Republican party of Wisconsin says it has no idea who put that up.

In West Virginia, Republicans, though, have launched a large scale anti-voter fraud program. "This is strictly our effort," said Robert Cornelius of the West Virginia GOP, "and what we have termed our ballot security teams, who are going to be out these counties and have been out already."

In North Carolina, two dozen complaints already about intimidation by so-called poll watchers, who have reportedly been standing behind registration tables, which is illegal, and who have been taking pictures of the license plates of curbside voters, which is also illegal.

In Illinois, Republican Senatorial candidate Mark Kirk has been criticized for declaring his intent to send voter integrity squads to African-American neighborhoods in Chicago. That according to the "Washington Post." The Republican National Lawyers' Association has been training lawyers for Illinois, as well as for other states like Nevada, according to its chairman, David Norcross. Mr. Norcross has called voter fraud, quote, an epidemic.

The reality is quite different. During the presidency of George W. Bush, whose Justice Department aggressively pursued so-called voter fraud, only 95 people were ever charged, only 55 convicted. Of those 55, fewer than 20 were convicted of casting fraudulent ballots, again, according to "the New York Times." Only five were convicted of registration fraud.

But the imagery of veritable armies of ghost voters continues to escalate from the right, with Dick Armey, one of the founding astroturfers of the Tea Party, actually suggesting Democrats are establishing an edge in early voting due to voter fraud.


DICK ARMEY, FREEDOMWORKS: Well, no, I'm not surprised. This is an aberration that's born out of the fact that in early voting, there's less ballot security. The Democrats are always much more active in the areas where the ballot security is reduced. And you know, if you start focusing on this, it is pinpointed to the major urban areas, the inner city, those areas.


OLBERMANN: What we've shown here are illustrative examples, far from n exhaustive list of all these reckless charges and intimidating practices. And many outside groups are devising voter integrity efforts, according to the "Washington Post," because they come under less legal scrutiny than the actual party of the Republican National Committee. Sound familiar at all?

Had to rewrite the Special Comment tonight after Christine O'Donnell threatened to sue this Delaware radio station for videotaping her interview there. And her campaign manager threatened to crush the station. Welcome to the Tea Party's America.

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, having crossed Joe Miller off her bucket list, she's in Las Vegas, hunting for Sharron Angle. So be very, very quiet.


OLBERMANN: No abortions, even for incestuous rape, the unification of church and state, loopholes for corporations, suppression of freedom of the press, the elimination of the direct succession of senators, no unemployment insurance, no Medicaid, privatized Social Security; the Tea Party in its own words in my Special Comment, next.


OLBERMANN: Now, as promised, a Special Comment on the madness of the Tea Party and the elections of next Tuesday.

It is as if a group of moderately talented performers has walked on stage at a comedy club on Improv night. Each hears a shout from the audience, consisting of a bizarre but just barely plausible fear or hatred or neurosis or prejudice.

And the entertainment of the evening is for each to take their thin, absurd premise, and build upon it a campaign for governor or congressman or senator. The problem is, of course, when it turns out that there is no audience shouting out gags, just a cabal of corporations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and political insider bloodsuckers like Karl Rove and Dick Armey and the Chicken Little Chorus of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

And the instructions are not to improvise a comedy sketch, but to elect a group of unqualified, unstable individuals who will do what they are told, in exchange for money and power, and march this nation as far backward as they can get, backward to Jim Crow, or backward to the breadlines of the '30s, or backward to hanging union organizers, or backward to the trusts and the Robber Barons.

Result: the Tea Party. Vote backward, vote Tea Party. And if you are somehow indifferent to what is planned for next Tuesday, it is nothing short of an attempt to use Democracy to end this Democracy, to buy America wholesale and pave over the freedoms and the care we take of one another, which have combined to keep us the envy of the world.

You do not think your freedom is at stake next Tuesday?

The Tea Party and Republican candidate for senator from Nevada, Sharron Angle just divorce and Social Security as some of this nation's quote, "wicked ways." Ms. Angle also compared rape to, quoting, "a lemon situation in a lemon situation in lemonade." She would deny an abortion even to a teenaged girl who had been raped by her own father.

The Tea Party and Republican candidate to be the only Congressman in Delaware, Glen Urquhart, said "there is no problem that abortion can't make worse. I know good friends who are the product of rape."

Mr. Urquhart also says he does not believe the phrase "separation of church and state" was said by Thomas Jefferson. He thinks it was Hitler:

"The next time your liberal friends ask you about the separation of church and state, ask them why they are Nazis."

The Tea Party and Republican candidate in the Ohio 9th, Rich Iott, not only ran around in a Nazi uniform celebrating their military tactics, but implies he is a veteran and as late as this March listed his occupation as "soldier," even though the volunteer militia to which he belongs has never been called, will never be called, to any active service, in the 29 years in which he has belonged to it. Mr. Iott now claims Mr. Boehner is campaigning with him over the final days.

It's more than just dress-up. They mean business, literally. The Tea Party and-Republican-candidate for New Jersey's 3rd House seat, Jon Runyan, defended corporate tax loopholes: "Loopholes are there for a reason. They are to avoid people from really having to pay too many taxes."

The Tea Party and Republican candidate for the Senate in West Virginia, John Raese, explained, quote, "I made my money the old-fashioned way, I inherited it. I think that's a great thing to do. I hope more people in this country have that opportunity as soon as we abolish inheritance tax in this country."

The inheritance tax applies only to estates larger than 3.5 million dollars. For the 99.8 percent of Americans not affected by the estate tax, there is the minimum wage, which Mr. Raese also wants abolished. Or there is Social Security.

The Tea Party and Republican candidate in the Indiana 9th, Todd Young, says "Social Security, as so many of you know is a Ponzi scheme."

The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate in the Wisconsin 8th, Reid Ribble, disagrees. Social Security "is, in fact, a Ponzi scheme."

The Tea Party and Republican candidate in the Arizona 8th, Jesse Kelly, wants to resurrect President Bush's scam to transform Social Security into private investment accounts so the government can force you to spend part of your paycheck on Wall Street commissions, and so that market manipulators can wipe out your retirement money.

The Republican candidate in the Wisconsin 1st, Congressman Paul Ryan, has a more sophisticated plan: Personal investment Social Security, guaranteed dollar for dollar by the government. A fiscal fountain of youth, until you find out its cost: Ryan would pay for it by taxing the health insurance you get from your employer.

If you are not employed, Mrs. Angle of Nevada says unemployment benefits can neither be increased nor extended because that "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."

The Tea Party and Republican candidate for Senator in Alaska, Joe Miller, says this is academic, because unemployment insurance is unconstitutional. His own wife received unemployment insurance after losing a temp job he got for her. Mr. Miller also called Medicaid unconstitutional. It proved his entire family had received Medicaid funds.

Mr. Miller also claims Social Security is unconstitutional, yet hypocritically he says it should still be paid out, and then the entire issue dumped into the laps of the states.

The Republican and Tea Party candidate for Senator in Colorado, Ken Buck, would not stop at butchering just Social Security. "Would a Veterans Administration hospital that is run by the private sector be better run then by the public sector? In my view, yes."

The Tea Party and Republican candidate in the Pennsylvania 4th, Keith Rothfus, has promised to overturn anything the Supreme Court decides, with which he disagrees: "Congress's ultimate weapon is funding. If the Supreme Court rules you have to do something, we'll just take away funding for it."

Back in Nevada, Mrs. Angle decries health care reform, and also health

care itself. "Everything that they want to throw at us," she says, "is now

covered under 'autism',"

As to educating those children Mrs. Angle will not pay for, Mr. Buck of Colorado waxes nostalgic: "In the 1950's, we had the best schools in the world, and the United States government decided to get more involved in federal education. Well, since, we've made education worse. We're gonna even get more involved."

In Ken Buck's America of 1957, fewer than one in five Black children graduated high school. Fewer than half of white children did.

To the Tea Party and Republican candidate in the California 11th, David Harmer, Mr. Buck is a wild-eyed liberal. Mr. Harmer once advocated eliminating public schools altogether, and returning education in this country to where it was before 1876: "People acting in a free market found a variety of ways to pay for a variety of schools serving a variety of students, all without central command or control." And without girls, blacks, or even the slightest chance you could go to college.

The Tea Party and Republican candidate in the Virginia 11th, Keith Fimian, is "not so sure we need a federal bureaucracy for education."

The Tea Party and Republican candidate in the Florida 2nd, Steve Southerland, wants to "de-fund" the Department of Education because "we can't afford it."

The Tea Party and Republican candidate in the Texas 17th, Bill Flores, offers a tri-fecta plus a delusion. Get rid of "the pornographic endowment of the arts, Department of Energy, Department of Education" and with them, he says, ACORN. ACORN, which went out of business last April 1st.

The Tea Party and Republican candidate in the Arizona 5th, David Schweikert, is "passionately," he says, trying to eliminate the Department of Education because it's, quote, "unconstitutional."

And while one of the few threads uniting the ragamuffins who constitute the slate of Tea Party candidates is so-called 'strict interpretation' of that Constitution, Mr. Miller of Alaska wants, in fact, to change the Constitution. He wants to repeal the 17th amendment.

The Tea Party and Republican candidate for Senate from Utah, Mike Lee, called that 17th amendment "a mistake."

Last year, Mr. Buck of Colorado said the 17th amendment "took us down the wrong path."

The 17th amendment, of course, permits the direct election by the voters of U.S. Senators. Buck and Lee and Miller not only demand you elect them to the Senate; they hope to then deny you the right to elect somebody else, next time.

The ubiquitous Mrs. Angle, meanwhile, wants to repeal the 16th amendment. It provided for a federal income tax. Mrs. Angle does not explain how, without that tax, the federal government would pay for keeping out the Mexicans she specifically attacks in her newest commercial.

The Tea Party and Republican candidate for senator from Kentucky Rand Paul wishes to repeal the 14th amendment because it interferes with a private business's right to ban black people from its premises, and also because it allows anyone born here in America to be American. He is worried about anchor babies.

The Republican candidate for the 1st District of Texas, Louie Gohmert, fears not anchor babies but terror babies, unborn infants brought to this country in the womb, ready for American citizenship and pre-programmed to blow things up fifteen or twenty years from now. Curiously, Mr. Gohmert has not been asked if he is in favor of aborting them.

The Tea Party and Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, sees not terror fetuses but headless bodies in endless deserts murdered by immigrants who are nearly all drug mules.

The Tea Party and Republican candidate for governor of Colorado, Dan Maes, believes a bike-sharing program is part of a plot to turn Denver into a metropolis run by the United Nations.

The Tea Party and Republican candidate for Senate from Delaware, Christine O'Donnell, believes she was cleared to read secret classified documents about China because she's been working for nonprofit organizations for the past fifteen years. She also believes China is plotting to take over the United States. And the first evidence of this is that, quote, "China is drilling for oil off the coast of Florida."

This fear of the Chinese clearly does not extend to the Tea Party and Republican candidate for Senate from Illinois, Mark Kirk. One day he held a fundraiser with American businessmen in China. The next day, he voted against closing tax incentives for outsourcing American jobs to places like China.

The Tea Party and Republican candidate for Senate from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, is also in favor of relocating employees. He testified against toughening laws on pedophiles and employers who shield them. He argued this could damage a business. A business like the Catholic Church.

In Utah, the anti-bailout Senate candidate Mr. Lee insists on not raising the liability limits for the next BP from 75 million dollars to 10 billion dollars: "You have a set of settled expectations that you give to a business when it decides to make an investment in this. Our country benefits from this type of activity."

Asked by the Salt Lake City Tribune if that's a kind of bailout, if it leaves taxpayers on the hook for part of the damage, Lee admitted, "Well, yea, probably does."

Mr. Paul of Kentucky called the nationwide pressure on BP to increase its damage payments "un-American." He is also opposed to federal mine safety regulations: "The bottom line is: I'm not an expert, so don't give me the power in Washington to be making rules. You are here, and you have to work in the mines. You'd try to make good rules to protect your people here. If you don't, I'm thinking that no one will apply for those jobs."

Mr. Paul's admission that "I'm not an expert" does provide one of the few dovetails of this campaign. It matches nicely with Mr. Johnson of Wisconsin, who refuses to offer any specifics about his plan to deal with homeless veterans. He says, quote, "this election is not about details."

Details have proved devilish for the Tea Party and Republican candidate for the second district of Virginia, Scott Ridgell He campaigned against the stimulus bill, including the Cash-for-Clunkers program. Mr. Ridgell is an automobile dealer, and made hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Cash-for-Clunkers program.

The Tea Party and Republican candidate in the Missouri 4th, Vicky Hartzler, says she and her husband are just small business owners. "We just want the government to leave us alone," she said. Hartzler and her husband have a farm. In the last fourteen years, that government they want to leave them alone has given them subsidies totaling 774,000 dollars.

Mr. Raese of West Virginia told the Associated Press that "America is in an industrial coma." He blamed the "restrictor plate" that is "a bloated federal government." "I can't think," he added, "of very many times when a government agency has helped me."

The companies Mr. Raese owns have received 2.4 million dollars in contracts from the federal government since 2000, and 32 million dollars in contracts from the state government since 2000.

Back in Colorado, Mr. Buck apparently thought he was just speaking to a campaign worker when he self-exposed his hypocrisy. In fact, he was talking to a Democratic operative with a recorder in his pocket. Out of the blue, Tea Party nominee Buck blurted, quote, "Will you tell those dumb asses at the Tea Party to stop asking me about birth certificates while I'm on the camera? God, what am I supposed to do?"

The contempt of Mr. Buck towards his own Tea Party extends in many cases to reporters, and thus by proxy, to actual citizens. For instance, the Tea Party and Republican candidate for governor of Maine, Paul LePage, threatened to punch a radio reporter.

The Tea Party and Republican candidate for governor of New York, Carl Paladino, threatened to "take out" a reporter from the most conservative newspaper in any major American city.

A spokesman told the reporter that he was now off the Paladino mailing list, which has, in the past, consisted of e-mails featuring racism, pornography, and bestiality.

Mr. Miller's private security guards in Alaska detained and handcuffed a reporter, and threatened to handcuff two more, without any legal right to do so, at an event at a public school. The security company was operating with an expired license. Its chief, has links to extremist organizations. And the defense was that the guards didn't know the individual was a reporter, which implies it would be just dandy to handcuff an ordinary citizen.

Ms. O'Donnell threatened to sue a Delaware radio station if it did not destroy the videotape of her interview there. When she did not like a question, she snapped her fingers at her own press aide, then shoved him. The campaign manager threatened to "crush" the station if it did not comply with them.

The Tea Party and Republican candidate for the Senate from Florida, Marco Rubio, dreams more of deportation than of crushing. He said in March, quote, "there are millions of people in America that hate our country, so why can't we just do a trade? We'll send you Sean Penn, Janeane Garofalo, and Keith Olbermann, and you can send us people that actually love this country."

This, incidentally, carries with it a tinge of irony. I don't know that any of his opponents has ever accused Mr. Rubio of not loving this country. He just doesn't love a lot of its people.

The person they all love the least is of course the President.

The Tea Party and Republican candidate for Congress from the Florida 22nd, Allen West, had to leave our military after threatening to kill an Iraqi he was interrogating in Iraq. Now he claims to have a higher security clearance than does the president. Mr. West also told his supporters that they could defeat his Democratic opponent by making the man afraid to leave his own home.

And Tea Party and Republican candidate for the House from the Michigan 7th, the ex-Congressman Tim Walberg, wants to blackmail the President into showing his birth certificate to Rush Limbaugh. He figures he can extort this from President Obama by threatening to impeach him.

You are willing to let these people run this country? This is the America you want? This is the America you are willing to permit? These are the kinds of cranks, menaces, mercenaries and authoritarians you will turn this country over to?

If you sit there next Tuesday and let this happen, whose fault will that be? Not really theirs. They are taught that freedom is to be seized and rationed. They can sleep at night having advanced themselves and their puppeteers and to hell with everybody else.

They see the greatness of America not in its people but in its corporations. They see the success of America not in hard work but in business swindles. They see the worthiness of America not in its quality of life, but in its quality of investing.

They see the future of America not in progress, but in revolution to establish a kind of theocracy for white males, with dissent caged and individuality suppressed.

They see America not for what is, nor what it can be. They see delusions, specters, fantasies. They see communists under every bed and a gun in every hand. They see tax breaks for the rich and delayed retirement for everyone else. They fight the redistribution of wealth not because they oppose redistribution, but because their sole purpose is to protect wealth and keep it where they think it belongs, in the bank accounts of the wealthy.

They want to make the world safe for Bernie Madoff.

But you know better. If you sit there next Tuesday - if you sit there tomorrow, and the rest of this week, and you let this cataclysm unfold, you have enabled this.

It is one thing to be attacked by those who would destroy America from without. It is a worse thing to be attacked by those who would destroy America from within.

But it is the worst thing to sit back and let it happen, to not find the time and the means to convince just one other sane voter to put aside the disappointment of the last two years and look to the future and vote. Because the disappointment of the last two years, those will be the "good old days" in a Tea Party America.

This is the week in which the Three Card Monte dealers hope to take over the government, the candidates who want their own way, who will say anything to make palatable their real identities as agents of regression, repression, and corporate sovereignty. They are here. They have energized the self-serving and the greedy and the proudly ill-informed.

And if no other fact convinces you of your obligation to vote and canvass and phone and even drag to the polls the most disheartened moderate or Democrat or Liberal or abandoned Republican or political neutral, to vote for the most tepid of the non-insane candidates - if no other detail hands you that spark of argument with which to invigorate the apathetic, you need only commit to memory the words of Steffan Broden and Sharron Angle.

She can run from reporters but she cannot run from this quote from January, and all the horror and insurrection it implies: "Thomas Jefferson said it's good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years. I hope that's not where we're going. But, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies."

Sharron Angle too subtle for you? "Second Amendment" remedies? Guns instead of elections too implicit? Fortunately, to our rescue, to the speeding of the falling of the scales from our eyes, comes the Tea Party and Republican nominee for the 30th Congressional District of Texas, "Pastor" Steffan Broden. "Our nation was founded on violence," he said, on tape.

Was armed insurrection, revolution, an option in 2010? "The option is on the table. I don't think that we should ever remove anything from the table. However, it is not the first option."

Thank you! The attempt to overthrow the government of the United States by violence is not the Tea Party's first option. Next Tuesday is the first option!

The words are those of Nedrick Young and Harold Jacob Smith from the screenplay for the movie "Inherit The Wind." As the attorney for the man on trial for teaching evolution, Spencer Tracy, cuts to the gist:

"Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding. And soon, your honor, with banners flying and with drums beating, we'll be marching backward. Backward through the glorious ages of that 16th century when bigots burned the man who dared bring them enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind!"

The angered judge replies, "I hope counsel does not mean to imply that this court is bigoted." The attorney mutters, "well, your honor has the right to hope." The Judge warns, "I have the right to do more than that." The attorney explodes: "You have the power to do more than that."

And you have the power to do more than that. Good night and good luck.

Ladies and gentlemen, live from Las Vegas, here now is Rachel Maddow.

Rachel, good evening.