Tuesday, November 30, 2010

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Twitter Report, Oddball, Worst Persons
Video via YouTube: Michele Bachmann on a desert island, Keith lights the tree
The toss: Switch (and bonus: Thanks)

Guests: Howard Fineman, Rep. Xavier Becerra, Dan Savage, Anna Tovar, Clarence Page



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

Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself. The meeting with the GOP about more tax cuts for the rich.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We agreed that there must be some sensible common ground.


OLBERMANN: Thus enabling the GOP talking point.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA: I was encouraged by the president's remarks regarding his, perhaps, not having reached out enough.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: He hadn't spent as much time with us reaching out.

CANTOR: - in the last session.


OLBERMANN: If he reached out any further, his arm would come off at the shoulder.

Another vote on tax cuts just for the middle class this week. The Democrats will lose.

"Don't ask, don't tell" - don't care. The military report is out. Seventy percent of service personnel see no problem with their fellow soldiers being out.

Jan Brewer defends her Arizona death panels, argues for everything she said she was against.


GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: Bottom line is, is that the state only has so much money. And we can only provide so many optional kinds of care. And those are one of the options that we have taken liberty to discard, to dismiss.


OLBERMANN: That is the rationing of health care.

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday, treasonous secession that started the Civil War and was the direct result of slavery, happy birthday to you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The South peacefully seceded, just like our Founding Fathers did in 1776 with England.


OLBERMANN: And which liberal would she choose to be stranded with on a desert island?


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: I think probably Keith Olbermann.


BACHMANN: I would. Yes, because I think - I think it would be so interesting to have a discussion with him and I think that he would be willing to have a discussion. I do.


OLBERMANN: All right. Just relax. She also picked her favorite food of all-time: celery.

All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.


BACHMANN: I will personally consume the entire stalk of celery.




OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Tuesday, November 30th, 707 days until the 2012 presidential election.

And now that Republican leaders Boehner and McConnell had met with the president at the White House, the president is talking about finding sensible common ground.

But in our fifth story, with sensible out the window and common an illusion created by the Democrats on the verge of capitulation, that just leaves ground which Republicans have done a pretty good job of running the Democrats into.

This morning's so-called summit between GOP and Democratic leaders was perhaps notable for the restrained tenor of the statements that followed it. So, let's get the obvious out of the way.


BOEHNER: There's a reason why we have Democrats and Republicans.

OBAMA: We have two parties for a reason.

BOEHNER: But having said that, the more time that we do spend together, we can find the common ground.

OBAMA: Having said that, we agreed that there must be some sensible common ground.


OLBERMANN: Both sides agreed to press forward on negotiations over the Bush tax cuts through their respected designees. From the White House:

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Budget Director Jack Lew. From congressional Republicans: Senator Jon Kyl and Representative Dave Camp of Michigan. From congressional Democrats: Senator Max Baucus and Representative Chris Van Hollen.

But beneath the repeated bromides about two parties working together, there were key distinctions in how each side characterized the meeting. The president pointed out that Republicans still want a permanent extension of tax cuts that includes the wealthiest Americans.


OBAMA: I continue to believe that it would be unwise and unfair, particularly at a time when we're contemplating deep budget cuts that require broad sacrifice. Having said that, we agreed that there must be some sensible common ground.


OLBERMANN: And the president said that he wanted the parties to, quote, "breakthrough this log jam." But from House Speaker-elect John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader McConnell, this:


BOEHNER: So, we're looking forward to the conversation with the White House over extending all of the current rates and I remain optimistic.

REP. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We did have an opportunity to reiterate it is the view of 100 percent of Senate Republicans and a number of Senate Democrats as well, that the tax break should not be bifurcated; in other words, that we ought to treat all taxpayers the same.


OLBERMANN: Especially the rich ones. And if sounds like the Republicans do not see the tax cut negotiations as a log jam, but something rather closer to a fait accompli, there were other subtle but alarming differences. From the president, this:


OBAMA: I thought that people came to it with a spirit of trying to work together and I think it's a good start as we move forward. I think that there was a sincere effort on the part of everybody involved to actually commit to work together, to try to deal with these problems.


OLBERMANN: From incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Mr.

Boehner, this:


CANTOR: I was encouraged by the president's remarks regarding his, perhaps, not having reached out enough to us in the last session. And that this meeting was the beginning of a series in which he hoped that we could work together in a different fashion.

BOEHNER: The president did make an important point that Eric mentioned that they hadn't spent as much time with us reaching out and talking to us and committed to do so.


OLBERMANN: As for the pesky matter of unemployment benefits which will begin to expire for 2.5 million Americans tomorrow -


OBAMA: And we discussed unemployment insurance which expires today. I've asked that Congress act to extend this emergency relief without delay to folks who are facing tough times by no fault of their own.


OLBERMANN: And one final note about those Bush tax cuts, there is word today that House Democrats still plan to vote on extending the Bush tax cuts just for the middle class, those would be the Obama cuts. Congressman Van Hollen presumably mentioned as part of the tax negotiations working group has said the House vote may come as early as Thursday of this week.

Let's turn now to Congressman Xavier Becerra of California's 31st district. Also, he's serving on the House Budget and Ways & Means Committees.

Congressman, thanks for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN: The House will - it was according to Mr. Van Hollen - finally hold the vote, an extension of tax cuts only for the middle class but supposedly, this going to take place under suspension, requiring two-thirds support. Is that the case to your knowledge? And can it pass under those conditions?

BECERRA: Well, we're hoping the Republicans will join us and not try to hold up or hold us hostage the tax cuts for the middle class. But we'll see. We're hoping to move this through. If we can get their support, we can get this to the Senate, and hopefully get it done quickly.

OLBERMANN: But all the Republicans ever do, Congressman, is hold Democrats in hostage even when they're in vast majorities. Why is there any reason for somebody watching this, who is in this extraordinary situation of prolonged unemployment, to think they have a hope, a snowball's chance in hell before Christmas?

BECERRA: In the House, all we can do is try. We sent over some good bills to the Senate and they die in the Senate.

But we're going to make every effort to try to make sure that we not only give tax cuts to the middle class, but we're actually including, and this I think is a great compromising good ground, we're going to include the wealthiest Americans, millionaires and billionaires in that $250,000 in income that can counted towards those tax cuts. So, every single American from the poorest to the wealthiest will have an opportunity to participate in these tax cuts.

OLBERMANN: Given that your colleague, Congressman John Larson said, and I'll read the quote, "an extension of all the tax cuts in the House is pretty much a nonstarter."

If the Senate passed tax cuts for $1 million and down, or $2 million and down, or for everybody, what happens in the negotiations between the House and the Senate in committee?

BECERRA: Well, I hope not only do we find common ground, but I hope the president will hold his ground and continue to advocate for what's fair. And that is to try to make sure that everyone up to their first $250,000 of income can benefit from these tax cuts. But beyond that, unless we want to continue borrowing money from China to pay for these tax cuts for the very, very wealthy, who, by the way, for the last decade, were the ones that benefited the most from the Bush tax cuts, then we have to figure out a different way.

And so, I really think that for 10 years, when the wealthy were getting $100,000 per year in these tax cuts while the average American family was getting $500 total, that this - it's time for folks who partied for a decade to help clean up the mess. And so, it's fair enough to say $250,000 of your income, Warren Buffett or any other millionaire, you're going to get to get a tax write-off up to the first $250,000 of your income, just like the rest of America will up to, if they're lucky, to get $250,000. But beyond that, I think common ground can be reached by holding our ground and saying $250,000 and no more.

OLBERMANN: You mentioned the president holding his ground. It seems to me that he's nearly broken his arm reaching out to the Republicans over the last two years. In that context, what exactly is happening at the White House if Boehner and Cantor and McConnell could walk out of there today and say, we're happy the president has now admitted that he didn't reach out more to us and now he's promised he's going to reach out more to us?

BECERRA: I suspect the president's words were not that he admitted that he had reached out. I suspect, in fact, if he had to come out on camera and say - he'd say he not only reached out on many occasions, but reached out only directly to House Republicans on more than one occasion and only Senate Republicans on another occasion, where Democrats weren't even included. So, this president has reached out far more than I ever recalled George Bush reaching out to the other party.

Again, it's part of the political tactic that's played on the Hill. I hope that we finally come together, stop holding tax cuts for the middle class hostage and get this done before Christmas comes.

OLBERMANN: Congressman Xavier Becerra of California - great thanks for your time tonight, sir.

BECERRA: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Let's turn to the senior political editor of "The Huffington Post," MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman.

Howard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: All right. Let's start with some news you have, how some of the Senate Democrats are prepared to vote on the Bush tax cuts and the implications and I suppose viewers should sit down for this.

FINEMAN: Well in checking with Democrats on the Senate side today to try to get the numbers here, they're saying that there are anywhere from five to 10 Democrats who - in the Senate, who are willing to vote for some form of an extension of tax cuts for all Americans, including the wealthiest. Now, it's a little unclear about permanent or two or three years, but that's the reason why the Senate is such a big problem and why Harry Reid is so hamstrung here and why the president is, too, because there's no way, given the operation of the Senate, to get to 60 votes, to the cloture vote in either formulation, and that's why they're stuck.

OLBERMANN: Why does the president keep negotiating against himself? And is he in dangerous of negotiating himself into a position where he is not making these decisions on behalf of his constituency anymore?

FINEMAN: Well, it seems in a way by setting up this working group - at least this is the view of the people I talk to on the Hill on both sides of the aisle. And to some degree, by sitting up this working group with the senators and Tim Geithner and et cetera, he's distancing himself from the decision. He's asking them to make a decision for him and then hand it back to him as a fait accompli.

Everybody in the city knows that the president has essentially agreed to accept a two or three-year extension of tax cuts for all Americans, including the wealthiest. It seems that this group is designed to come to the conclusion that they know they're already supposed to come to and then give it back to the president.

The Republicans are going to make a big show of being reasonable by reluctantly giving up on their desire to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest into infinity, and they're going to be the reasonable ones here. So, they're going to claim by just agreeing to two or three years, and president is going to accept it.

OLBERMANN: And, of course, the Republicans will forget the fact that there's a two-year maximum or three-year maximum on this.


OLBERMANN: As they refused to believe that the 10-year maximum on the Bush tax cuts still applied.

FINEMAN: Exactly.

OLBERMANN: But yet the president seems to think everybody's going to forget where he stood on this or where he didn't stand or how he hid behind this working group. Is that - is there still an expectation in the White House that what is done now will not be remembered in the next two years?

FINEMAN: Well, I suppose you could say there's the hope. There's the hope that the economy recovers, that things go well, and that's what he's looking at as his savior in this long and difficult situation that he's in.

But the problem that he's got here is that if they wait until next year to deal with this, if they somehow push it over into the new Congress, then John Boehner is going to be even more in control than he already is because he's going to be speaker in a Republican House and the House will originate another tax bill and that will be even worse from the White House's point of view than this one. If the Democrats say, no way, we're not voting for anything, then all the tax cuts expire December 31st, including those for the middle class and everybody else, and that's something that the White House doesn't want either.

So, in fairness to them, they're in a difficult situation. But it's one that the president put himself in, in successive retreats over the last year, year and a half. And it's one that they gave up, I think, several weeks ago in a story that I talked about with you with David Axelrod, the president's top adviser, pretty clearly signaled to us at the "Huffington Post" that the president has given up on this. That it wasn't worth making the points he wanted to make to risk shutting down all the tax cuts for everyone.

OLBERMANN: Well, then, the question becomes the number of his supporters who will give up on the president.

Howard Fineman of the "Huffington Post" and MSNBC - as always, thanks for your time, Howard.

FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: "Don't ask, don't tell," or do? It doesn't matter to 70 percent of military personnel or the Pentagon which they formally announced DADT has outlived whatever usefulness it once had. Dan Savage joins us next.


OLBERMANN: The military review of DADT for which he said we must wait is now back and it shows almost nobody in the military gives a crap. So, now, he wants another review.

She now defends her death panel by explaining transplants for poor people are, quote, "one of the options we had taken liberty to discard, to dismiss."

Desert island, only two people there, one conservative, one liberal.

Guess who she picked as the liberal?

And it's tree lighting night around these parts and you know what that means here - ignition.


OLBERMANN: For months, the cry was: wait for the Pentagon report. Today comes, the Pentagon report, and guess what? The answer for seven out of 10 members of the military about "don't ask, don't tell" is: don't care.

So, tonight, our fourth story - now, the Pentagon's message to Senate Republicans is this: repeal "don't ask, don't tell" by year's end yourselves, or let those bogeymen of your imagination, the activist judges, do it for you.

Seventy percent of service members believe the repeal will not affect the military's ability to get the job done. And 69 percent of those surveyed believe they've already served with somebody who is gay. And 30 percent predict negative effects of a repeal. The report, though, concludes that any fallout could be mitigated through effective leadership.

Defense Secretary Gates and the chairman of the joints chief, Admiral Mullen, holding a joint news conference earlier to discuss the findings.


ADM. MIKE MULLEN , CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: And my perspective is, as what I would call my - certainly was my personal opinion, is now my professional view, that this is a policy change that we can make, and we can do it in a relatively low-risk fashion.


OLBERMANN: Both men also stressing the importance of having the repeal passed by Congress. Their argument about that legislative action would guarantee stability and allow the military time to implement the repeal in some sort of orderly way - if it's left up to the courts: chaos.


ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It is only a matter of time before the federal courts are drawn once more into the fray, with the very real possibility that this change would be imposed immediately by judicial fiat - by far, the most disruptive and damaging scenario I can imagine and one of the most hazardous to military morale, readiness and battlefield performance. Given the present circumstances, those that choose not to act legislatively are rolling the dice that this policy will not be abruptly overturned by the courts.


OLBERMANN: And despite the Pentagon's call for repeal by year's end, the man who shouted "You lie" at the commander-in-chief during a joint session of Congress, Joe Wilson, believes voting on the repeal during a lame duck session would be, quote, "highly irresponsible."

But the House has already passed repeal. In a statement this afternoon, Mr. Obama is targeting the Senate, urging it "to act as soon as possible so I can sign this repeal into law this year."

Meanwhile, one of the policy's biggest proponents is currently in the process of carefully reviewing the Pentagon's report. Senator McCain, who was originally for the repeal in 2006, if military leaders were for it - but once the military leaders were for it, McCain wanted to wait for the study, and before the findings of this study were out, he asked for a do-over.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Once we get this study, we need to have hearings and we need to examine it and we need to look at whether it's the kind of study we wanted. It isn't in my view, because I wanted a study to determine the effects of repeal on battle effectiveness and morale.


OLBERMANN: His most recent position: the policy is working, P.S. get off my lawn.


MCCAIN: It's called "don't ask, don't tell," OK? If you don't ask them, if we don't ask somebody and they don't tell - and it's an all-volunteer force. OK? I understand your point of view, and I understand the point of view by the majority of the media.

But the fact is, this was a political promise made by an inexperienced president or candidate for presidency of the United States. The military is at its highest point in recruitment and retention and professionalism and capability. So, to somehow allege that this policy has been damaged in the military is simply false. So, the fact is that this system is working.


OLBERMANN: As long as you're a homophobe.

Time now to call in the editorial director for the "Stranger," syndicated columnist, co-founder of the It Gets Better Project, Dan Savage.

Dan, good evening.


OLBERMANN: This study is more than just, as Senator McCain implies, some sort of anecdotal evidence done by amateurs and outsiders. It's data directly from the people who are in the military. Why is that not enough for this Senator McCain?

SAVAGE: Because not to put too fine a point of it, McCain is a bigot. There's really no other explanation for his back flips and hypocrisy than just irrational animus, which is the definition of bigotry. You know, the most important stat to come out of this study is of the 70 percent of soldiers and marines and airmen who served alongside people that they knew to be gay or lesbian, 92 percent of those people who've already served with a gay or lesbian person in the armed forces are supportive of repeal and say they have no problem working alongside and serving alongside openly gay and lesbian soldiers.

And for McCain now to wring his hands and want to say, oh, we need more studies, more time - who's left to interview, the Spartans? Who's left to interview about this process? It's time to repeal this thing.

OLBERMANN: The idea behind Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen saying frame this as control versus chaos, legislative versus judicial, is that going to perhaps give cover to those Republicans who have been opposing repeal and let them - and get out of this with some sort of climb-down?

SAVAGE: Perhaps. Perhaps, a few Republicans will grab that fig leaf that Secretary Gates held out. And let's hope they do.

But we've already seen what happens when a federal judge ordered the immediate suspension of DADT and there was, I think, a week there where there were no suspensions and no enforcements of DADT and chaos did not break out.

What's chaotic is really the implementation of DADT. And what's dangerous is DADT. We have a policy right now that requires people to lie about their sexual orientation and makes them potential blackmail targets. And gay and lesbian people are serving in silence and serving secrecy at all levels of the military. And each and every one of them is potentially blackmail-able under DADT right now, which is another reason.

For national security reasons, we need to repeals this thing immediately.

OLBERMANN: I heard something extraordinary said on this network today by a guest who was opposed to gays, I guess, serving in the military outright. And she said there will be zero tolerance for people who are objecting to the repeal and that that would mean that perhaps thousands of loyal, patriotic, courageous American service members would be expelled for no good reason from military service.

Does that construction sound at all familiar to you?

SAVAGE: Yes, it does. The same thing was said when it came to integrating the military racially. And exact same thing was said more recently in the United Kingdom when they were deciding whether or not to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. And people predicted chaos. People also predicted mass resignations and more difficulties in retaining soldiers and none of that came to pass.

The U.K. military's leadership described implementing the end of their own "don't ask, don't tell" as the biggest nonissue ever that the military confronted. That's just demagoguery and fearmongering, and really an insult to the professionalism of soldiers who are currently serving. What that person is saying that they can't follow orders and that they'll let their personal biases and hatreds get them in trouble and get them carried away.

You know, you don't have to like everybody that you serve with in the military, approve of them or approve of their faith or their sexual orientation or anything else. But you do have to follow orders and serve alongside them and get along to get along. And our military can do that and our soldiers can do that.

OLBERMANN: Syndicated columnist Dan Savage - Dan, great thanks tonight.

SAVAGE: Thanks so much, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Treason, as something to be saluted and the North to be blamed and slavery had nothing to do with it. The 150th anniversary celebrations - celebrations of Southern secession.

And the Republican governor of Arizona defending her very own death panel. Ahead.


OLBERMANN: Governor Brewer of Arizona defends her death panels - next.

First, the sanity break, and the tweet of the day. And it's Ali Berger (ph). "Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki on verge of 10-year contract extension with Rockies. Derek Jeter's agent now demands century-long deal from Yanks." Thanks, Keith. Great tweet.

Let's play "Oddball."


OLBERMANN: We begin in Kamakura, Japan, with a novel way to help with extra electric costs the holiday greets. Two words: electric eels. Using a collection pad in an eel tank, this aquarium is able to illuminate almost an entire tree, kind of. Well, the future is here.

But, there's more. The aquarium also installed an electric pad on floor to harness the energy of the human visitors. They said they want the guests to stop and dance on the pad to give the eel a chance to relax. Take five. Someone has finally discovered a reason to do the electric slide.

On Internets, the exciting finish of the Karting World Championship. And boom goes the dynamite. The driver begins to celebrate his glorious victory a little too early there, victory making him to forget to keep his hands at 10 and two. Quickly discovers the agony of defeat represented here by the wall. Both drivers escaped the crash unarmed, though it is easy to spot where things went wrong, grown men were racing go carts.

And staying in the automotive world, we travel to the desert where someone has finally found a way to stop his car from overheating. Pick it up and put it on the back of your camel. Oh, look, a hybrid.

Of course, you can't really ride in it, but walking next to it is just good. Small price to play for fuel efficiency, but the engine does have a tendency to sputter and spit. Time marches on!

It is the worst manufactured fear of the Betsy McCaugheys and Sarah Palins come true. Quote, "The state only has so much money and we can only preside so many optional kinds of care, and those who are one of the options that we had taken liberty to discard, to dismiss."

It is, in fact, a death panel that is run by Republicans. So, I guess for Ms. Palin and the Tea Party, I guess that makes it an OK death panel. To Arizona, next.


OLBERMANN: First man to be denied an organ transplant by the Arizona Republican death panel died on Sunday. The death of Mark Price, a father, not yet 40, caused by complications related to his leukemia and chemotherapy - chemotherapy which had to succeed before his bone marrow transplant could take place. The death panel, therefore, not responsible in the case for Price's death.

But in our third story tonight: the head of the death panel, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, reacted to Mr. Price's passing, to his crusade against the state's decision stripping coverage for these transplants, defended her death panel and explained that Arizona's death panel considers life-saving organ transplants optional.

Don't take my interpretation for it. Listen to Governor Brewer, herself, less than 24 hours after Mr. Price passed away, giving the death panel rationale for rationing care because organ transplants are, quote, "optional."


BREWER: The state only has so much money. And we can only provide so many optional kinds of care. And those were one of the options that we had taken liberty to discard, to dismiss.


OLBERMANN: We have reported on this news hour about Arizona families abandoned by the governor's death panel. Fathers Francisco Felix and Randy Shepherd stripped of their state Medicaid coverage of the organ transplants they need, liver and heart.

They are hardly the only ones. An estimated 95 other people in Arizona right now are waiting for life-saving organs. Ninety-five people who will be denied them because life - because Arizona's Republican legislature and Republican governor decided earlier this year to remove those transplants from state Medicaid coverage. That decision based on false information provided by two companies, one of them owned by United Health Care, including claims that many of the transplants do not work - transplants including bone marrow.

Even though some Republican legislators acknowledge the lie beneath their vote and are calling for a re-vote on the issue, Governor Brewer has rejected bipartisan calls for a special session of the legislature to fix her mess, at a cost of about $5 million. Claiming that she cannot use any of the more than $30 million in stimulus funds she has because those funds she says have already been allocated elsewhere - allocated, not spent.

Allocated how? She refuses to say. So far not complying with requests for public records by public newspapers and others.

Allocated by Brewer as recently as two days before she yanked the transplant money to instead spend it on things like a $2 million center to study algae as an alternative fuel.

Responding to Price's death and his family's crusade for the state to cover more people, Governor Brewer called for a different kind of response, a special election to cut more people from state Medicaid - 300,000 to be left without any insurance whatsoever.

Let's turn to Arizona State Representative Anna Tovar, a Democrat who opposed these cuts.

Thanks for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN: The coverage that was taken away from Mr. Price, bone marrow transplant to treat his leukemia, Republicans cut it based on the state commission study that says it doesn't work. Can you explain why you in particular could have told them differently about this?

TOVAR: Well, definitely, I am living proof that transplants work. I've had two transplants, stem cell and a bone marrow actually by the same doctor, by Mark Price, the same facility. So, I am - I am living proof that transplants do work.

OLBERMANN: Governor Brewer is literally choosing not to spend money, millions that she has on hand to pay for these transplants and actions like this. What to your knowledge is she using it for instead?

TOVAR: Well, we did find out that she's used over $2.2 million on algae research and also another $1.5 million on restoring a roof to the Veterans Coliseum. But yet she's yet to answer any of our requests on what she spent the $30 million that she has available.

OLBERMANN: Do you suppose, if you could have a ribbon cutting ceremony at every transplant, that she would suddenly be in favor of the transplants for the state Medicaid?

TOVAR: Well, definitely. I mean, there needs to be something done and the governor needs to spend her money wisely. These are taxpayers' money that she is spending. So, you know, taxpayers of Arizona - they have every right to question what she's spending her money on and it would be, you know, a disgrace not to be able to save hundreds of lives here in Arizona by spending a little bit of that, you know, funds that she does have.

OLBERMANN: And this latest report that the governor wants to cut more than 300,000 Arizonans entirely from Medicaid. What will happen to them?

TOVAR: Well, they would be without health care. That means they would flood our emergency rooms. There would be kids without immunizations, without their primary health care. I mean, this would absolutely be ridiculous in Arizona not have to people getting basic primary health care.

OLBERMANN: Representative Tovar, is there any acknowledgement among Arizona's Republicans in public or in private that they have, in fact, created in Arizona the very death panel that they fantasized about during the debate over the federal health care reform project?

TOVAR: Well, the chairman of the appropriations who's a Republican has come out and said that they've made a mistake, there was an error in the information that they had received. But as to date, the governor or the Republicans have yet to do, to have any action to bring this forward and, you know, to create a solution, because people's lives are at stake and there's easy solutions that could come about that can solve, you know, this crisis and save people's lives and giving them a second chance at life, like I did.

OLBERMANN: The governor believed that there were bodies with heads cut off in the Arizona desert. She believed that, you know, that even though it said it on front of her in the script that the opening remarks at her debate were not the opening remarks, and now she believes that transplants don't work.

Is she just gullible? Does she just believe whatever somebody has told her provided she believes who the person is? Is this some sort of - does she see things? What is wrong with the governor of your state?

TOVAR: You know, I don't know what is wrong with her because she's gotten the correct information. It was actually my bone marrow doctor that has come about to bring factual information not only to her but to other, you know, senators and - here in the state of Arizona.

So, she has the correct information about, you know, over 42 percent who do get a transplant do make it and do survive. So, I'm not sure, you know, what she's reading into it or what she's not reading into it. But the facts are clear, is that people do survive and they can be productive members of society.

I mean, if you look at me, I'm living proof that, you know, one - even though, yes, I was deathly ill, I got a life-saving transplant. And now, you know, I consider myself very productive member of society and trying to help out as best I can in serving the public.

OLBERMANN: Arizona State Representative Anna Tovar - continued improved health to you and great thanks for your time tonight.

TOVAR: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: And about your continuing generosity on this. The National Transplant Assistance Funds informs us that since we first reported on this story and the death panel decision against the Felix and Shepherd families, it has received $95,000 in donations towards their transplants. They've only been able to update the number from last Wednesday.

Francisco Felix's transplant would cost upwards of $200,000. Randy Shepherd's, $1 million. Those who care to donate can do so at NTAFund - that's one word - NTAFund.org.

So, televangelist Glenn Beck is now stealing material from Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov. Does he know who Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov is?

And you've got it all wrong. The South seceded peacefully, it was the North that started the Civil War and dragged this slavery stuff into it.

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, as this idea of bipartisanship continues to look more and more like a complete fantasy, she'll be joined by Senator Bernie Sanders.


OLBERMANN: It's a limited list, but of the liberals on it the one she said she'd most be willing to be deserted on an island with -

And as part of the continuing historical revisionism that tries to claim the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery, the secession celebrations have begun. Yay, treason, yay.


OLBERMANN: The South thinks it will rise again.

First, before you get out your pitchforks and torches, I'm not often stumped. But I have to admit she stumped me. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in an online interview for the Right Network was asked this weird question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're on a deserted island and can only spend it with Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews or Rachel Maddow. What would you choose out of those three?

BACHMANN: I think probably Keith Olbermann.


BACHMANN: I would. Yes, because I think - I think it would be so interesting to have a discussion with him, and I think that he would be willing to have a discussion. I do.


OLBERMANN: Oh, I think I know what this is all about. Ms. Bachmann said her favorite song was "Taking Care of Business" by Bachman Turner Overdrive. Her favorite composer was Johann Sebastian Bach. He favorite snack was celery - Miss Celery - and her island choice, that's Olbermann with two Ns as in Bachmann with two Ns.

Having said all that in the spirit of something, I'm game if you are for the conversation, anyway. We have today invited Congressman Bachmann on Countdown at her leisure. Oh, bring the sand.

Now, time for today's nominees for the "Worst Persons in the World."

The bronze to Dell's Maraschino Cherries Company in Red Hook, in Brooklyn, New York. Well, they're not really the worst, but it is their fault. You heard of killer bees? How about red bees? Brooklyn beekeeper, Cerise Mayo, was mystified her bees had turned red, their honey was the color of cough syrup, another plague that would soon doom mankind.

Well, not exactly. The bees had been lunching at the runoff from the Maraschino Cherries Company. The red coloring, the red honey, Red Dye no. 40. Apparently, they like the taste.

Our runner up: Congressman Steve King of Iowa, the king of crazy is right on the line. He's now pushing the latest racial meme over the Pigford court decision that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had discriminated against black farmers and owed them a total of $1 billion. The ruling came in 1999. But that fact does not slow down King's racial paranoia one jot.


REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Figure this out, Madame Speaker. We have a very, very urban senator, Barack Obama, who has decided he's going to run for president and what does he do? He introduces legislation to create a whole new Pigford claim.


OLBERMANN: Very, very urban. This is another white euphemism for black folks.

Mr. King, you are very close to jumping the racism shark. Beware.

But our winner, Glenn Beck, communist. You heard me.


GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST: Federal employees should not be allowed to ever make more than this. Ever. Members of Congress should never make more than the people who die on our battlefields.


OLBERMANN: A figure he circled there, 50,462 bucks, the average wage of a U.S. citizen. No member of Congress should make more than the average citizen?

Well, listen to this: "As if to emphasize its character is a truly democratic, proletarian government, the commune decreed that the salaries of all administrative and government officials irrespective of rank should not exceed the normal wages of a worker."

The commune was the Paris Commune of 1871. And you know what kind of people they got in communes, comrades? Communists. And you know who wrote that fond reminiscent about no government official making more than a citizen? Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin, the communist. And communist Glenn Beck is stealing his act.

Glenn as Lenin Beck today's (INAUDIBLE) worst in the world.


OLBERMANN: We'll start our number one story with a caveat that we may interrupt it at any time, because as constant viewers recall, it's my job to turn the juice on for the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

There's a dual celebration this year. A South Carolina group called the Sons of Confederate Veterans is throwing a secession ball, the 150th anniversary of, you know, treason and defensive servitude and murder and genocide, build us a joyous night of music, dancing food and drink. Don't forget the silent slave auction.

According to today's "New York Times," Confederate groups across the South are planning festivities to mark the period that began the Civil War. Montgomery, Alabama, is planning a parade, along with a mock swearing in of Jefferson Davis as president of the Confederacy. The first time wasn't mock enough for you.

South Carolina's secession ball will be replicated on a smaller scale in other cities. The main event will be held December 20 in the former slave port of Charleston at the Gaillard Auditorium, just a brief ferry ride away from Ft. Sumter where the Confederates first attacked the Union Army in April 1861, and a brisk walk from the Old Slave Mart Museum, the historical Charleston edifice where slaves were auctioned until the Union Army prevailed.

The ball's organizer Jeff Antley tells "The New York Times" this event will be a celebration of the men who signed the document seceding from the Union, quote, "We're celebrating that those 170 people risked their lives and fortunes to stand for what they believed in, which is self-government."

Oh, I'm very sorry. The correct answer was: slavery. You gave the politically correct, whitewash bullcrap answer.

Here's the home version of the American history game. The president of South Carolina's NAACP telling "The Times" that this is a glamorization and sanitization of events. In fact, South Carolina's December 1860 declaration of secession had 18 references to slavery in it and it complained that the election of Abraham Lincoln meant slavery in the U.S. was doomed, and that's why they split.

"The Times" says other groups are preparing TV ads to commemorate the anniversary. Georgia's chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans posted this whitewash of history in September.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was a war which Southerners fought to defend their homes and families against an ingressive invasion by federal troops. The South peacefully seceded, just like our Founding Fathers did in 1776 with England. And all we wanted was to be left alone to govern ourselves.

Don't let others do your thinking for you. Don't allow them to rob you of your heritage while they celebrate their own. Be proud of your Southern history and heritage.


OLBERMANN: Joining me now, Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, editorial broad member of "The Chicago Tribune," Clarence Page.

Clarence, good evening. I apologize in advance for when I interrupt you for the tree-lighting. But -

CLARENCE PAGE, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE: I can't wait for the moment.

OLBERMANN: To the point - 150 years later, slavery has become a footnote to the Civil War. Did the rest of us not get the memo?

PAGE: Well, you could say in a way half the country didn't. You know, this shows you how different culture and education, history is taught in the South compared to the rest of the country. I was rather surprised having grown up in Ohio and Illinois at how alive the Confederacy and memories of it, the legacy of it are in the South.

I was down in Virginia and I said to a fellow, you know, I thought the Civil War ended in 1865. And he said, that wasn't the end, that was just halftime. That is kind of a very common attitude.

I've been covering this issue a lot with the Confederate flag - you remember down in South Carolina -


PAGE: - as well as Virginia, more recent Confederate History Month deal. This goes on and on.

OLBERMANN: And to make clear, we're not - we're not mocking people who want to salute the heroism of the soldiers who fought. Most of them didn't have slaves and didn't have a hand in that outcome of the fight. But to - but to sort of dismiss these who are trying to memorialize and make a big deal and something to celebrate as, you know, ragtag sore losers, there is a real movement to rewrite the history here and this Sons of Confederate Veterans, they seem to be in the lead on this effort.

Do we know anything about this group?

PAGE: Oh, yes. Well, I talked to the Virginia head of the Sons when that controversy was going on there with Governor McDonnell. And, you know, one thing he and I both agreed on is that all of us need to know more about Civil War history, and we had an intelligent discussion I'm happy to say. Once he got past his presumption that I didn't know the role slavery played in the war.

In fact, "The New York Times" piece has a historian who's put it rather well, that slavery did not bring the North into the war, but it did cause the South to secede and it's really dishonest intellectually and otherwise for Southerners to try to say that slavery had nothing to do with it.

OLBERMANN: Well. But also, if they were somehow right about that, there's also this issue of treason. I mean, how do you rationalize the attempt to violently overthrow the proverbially lawfully elected government of the United States?

PAGE: Well, in fact, Abraham Lincoln and President Johnson after him both signed amnesties for the South. So, they wouldn't be prosecuted, including General Robert E. Lee and others.

But, you know, again, you're right. The fact of a treasonous uprising against the central government was a real fact and we can argue forever about whether or not it was justified or what they did, whether it was legal under the Constitution, but we can also point out that it's well documented in Confederate literature in the official documents and speeches that protecting slavery was a part of the war.

OLBERMANN: There's also the dress code here listed on the secession ball Web site. For men, it's modern black tie, or pre-war militia, no Confederate gray.

It's the lone concession here, no Confederate gray at the ball - oh, got to interrupt you, Clarence, we got to light this candle, I think.

Is that correct? We're getting the word now? Are you ready? Ready down there? How much time do you want?

All right. Just go on. I can't do this all day as ShamWow Boy says.

Come on. What do we have? Thirty seconds, 45?

And, you know, we have to coordinate this with the network. Fifteen, something like that?

All right, how many. What do you got 10? Two, one. Oh, it didn't take. There we go. It's an old piece of equipment.

All right. We're never going to do that again.

Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, Clarence Page, who was good enough to discuss with us this nonsense from the South. Just in 10 seconds. No Confederate gray?

PAGE: Well, I think - well, I remember when Andy Young when he was a mayor of Atlanta showed up at a Confederate ball and - a ball wearing Confederate gray, being a black mayor to show good faith with the Southern spirit and the station of his office. So, we can look upon this and say that at least they're not trying to be so visibly Confederate.

OLBERMANN: Clarence Page, great thanks for your time tonight.

PAGE: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: That's November 30th, 28 days since Republicans took control of the House.

Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs?

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

And now to discuss why the Democrats aren't getting the message about Republicans, they're just not that into you - ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.

Good evening, Rachel.