Thursday, December 9, 2010

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, December 9th, 2010
video podcast

Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons
The toss: Doorbell

Guests: Howard Fineman, Rep. Barney Frank, Tom Buffenbarger, David Hernandez, Maysoon Zayid



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

House Democrats to the president: No deal. The speaker says she will not schedule a vote on the current compromise. The House Democratic Caucus rejects the Senate Republican tax provisions as currently written.


REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MAJORITY LEADER: The Senate is going to deal with this bill first and we're going to have to deal with the product, and we have very strong feelings about what we think ought to be in there.


OLBERMANN: And still, the White House is treating House Democrats like they are the enemy.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think at the end of the day, members are not going to want to be in their districts, senators are not going to want to be in their districts, when their constituents found out on the 1st of January that their taxes have gone up by several thousand dollars.


OLBERMANN: The deal's bonus? Senate Republicans today blocked bringing the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal to the floor.

The politics with Howard Fineman; inside the maelstrom with Representative Barney Frank.

OK, they told me so. February 19th, 2008, the president of the machinist union about then-Senator Barack Obama.


TOM BUFFENBARGER, MACHINIST UNION PRESIDENT: This guy won't last a round against a Republican attack machine. He's a poet, not a fighter.


OLBERMANN: My guest: Tom Buffenbarger.

The Arizona death panels - such a big deal that today even Arizona's biggest newspaper finally sat up and took notice. Not that Governor Brewer has a clue.


GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: As you know, it was a couple of incidents with bone marrow that was at issue.


OLBERMANN: Except for all those lung and heart and liver transplants she denied.

Your best defense against jihadist recruitment in Saudi Arabia?

George Clooney movies scripted by Al Franken? "Desperate Housewives"?




OLBERMANN: And Sarah Palin's disaster: new book sales crater.

"America by Heart" becomes America buying somebody else's book.

All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: It's been an embarrassment.




OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Thursday, December 9th, 698 days until the 2012 presidential election.

And today, in Nancy Pelosi's last month as speaker, in the last month of Democratic control of the House of Representatives, Democrats stood up against Republicans and against the president.

In our fifth story tonight: after a rowdy, dramatic closed door meeting of House Democrats in almost total unison on this issue, the speaker of the House says the president's tax plan will not get a vote in the House without changes, or as one unidentified Democratic member of Congress put it, according to the newspaper, "Roll Call," quote, "F the president," unquote.

The state of play now: a majority of the House already passed a tax cut bill last week. The majority of the Senate supported that plan but was blocked by Republican filibuster. Now, House Democrats are essentially filibustering the new Obama/GOP plan.

So, which filibuster is the White House trying to break, the Democratic one representing majority opinion in Congress and the country, or the other one?

Last night, Larry Summers, director of the White House National Economic Council, warned that if Congress does not go along with the Obama/GOP plan, quote, "In the next couple of weeks, it would materially increase the risk that the economy would stall out and we would have a double-dip recession."

The White House issued no such apocalyptic warnings when benefits to the unemployed expired on December 1st.

Nevertheless, responding to House Democrats today, Press Secretary Gibbs sounded an equally ominous note, warning them not to make any changes to the deal that Republicans might object to for fear of incurring dire consequences on taxes returning on January 1st, to the brutal levels of the Clinton era.


GIBBS: If there are ways to strengthen the framework that are agreeable to everybody and strengthen the coalition, that's good. I think that's something that we have to hear - I think that's something that House Democrats are going to have to talk about in terms of what they want to - what they want to do and what they want to see. I mean, obviously, as I said yesterday in response to several questions, you know, if everybody took out what they didn't like, we wouldn't - we would have nothing. And we know the consequences of doing nothing.


OLBERMANN: In fact, we know neither the economic nor the political consequences of doing nothing. But Republicans fold on unemployment insurance, who knows?

While Mr. Gibbs was happy to talk about what he knows will happen on January 1st, he seems decide uninterested in talking about what's already happened, that immediately after Mr. Obama just proposed increasing the deficit by nearly another trillion dollars in these tax cuts, U.S. treasury bonds plunged into a two-day tail spin.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House concerned about the reaction in bond markets with the mortgage rates going up as a result of this deal?

GIBBS: I'd - I would point you to somebody in Treasury. I only get in trouble when I talk about things like that.


OLBERMANN: Some Republicans are already admitting that the deal's temporary destruction of the payroll tax that funds Social Security will either put Democrats in a tough position of having to raise that tax in a year or force a reduction in Social Security. "Huffington Post," quoting Republican Senator Mike Johanns, "That argument eventually is bound to be made. Social Security has got to be a part of the mix of deficit reduction. So, stay tuned. There's a lot of stories to be written about that between now and a year from now."

In a similar vein, Republican Senator Tom Coburn arguing last night that Democrats who opposed cutting taxes for people who don't need them without paying for those cuts are now obliged to figure out a way to pay for them - naturally by cutting services for people who do need them.


SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Let's granted the premise it's the government's money and not the individual's. I'd issue this challenge - anyone who thinks we ought it to pay for tax cuts, ought to have to put up a list of programs that we ought to eliminate to pay for them.


OLBERMANN: Joining us first tonight, Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, chairman of the Financial Services Committee.

Great thanks for your time tonight, sir.


OLBERMANN: You oppose the president's deal, but you said tonight you think the speaker should allow a vote on it. Is that correct? And if so, why?

FRANK: Well, I think there should be a vote on a tax package. And people should have a chance to vote for the president's package, but it shouldn't be the only one.

By the way, can I just, for a minute, take Tom Coburn's challenge?


FRANK: First of all, I don't think it's the government's money. It's the people's money. And sensible people know we have money that we want to use in two ways, individually, on some things we need, but we want to pool our people's money to do things like put out fires and build roads.

But Tom Coburn said he wants a list of programs. Let me start with the war in Iraq, which I believe he supported. I thought it was a terrible mistake. It's cost us over a trillion dollars. We ought to be putting our troops out of Iraq right away. I would add the extent to which we are protecting NATO.

One of the things and I will get specific with your question about taxes. But I hope we will use this as an opportunity to talk about the great waste of hundreds of billions of dollars that comes from an extraordinary overreach of the American military. So, very particularly to Tom Coburn, yes, let's go out of Iraq, not wait all of next year to be there and mediate religious and political disputes.

Now, I do believe that the president wanted something, they should be a vote on it, I did not want to be simply an up-or-down vote. And I believe it should, there should be a couple of packages there, including one that we would have that I think would be much better.

It's really - also, I have to say that Larry Summers, my friend, put up a big straw man. Nobody that I know of says do nothing. Yes, if you did nothing at all, it wouldn't be good for the economy. But I voted in the House to do a great deal. I voted to extend unemployment benefits and I voted to provide that tax rates would stay the same for almost all the people. And I voted for a moderate estate tax proposal.

So, suggesting that those of us who don't want to give in to the president's deal which gives excessive tax reductions to wealthy people who will not spend the money and will not help the economy, that somehow that means for nothing is, of course, incorrect.

OLBERMANN: We are reliably reformed that at this meeting Democratic Caucus meeting today, there were chants of, just say no, and no, we can't. How would you categorize or characterize that meeting?

FRANK: You've got me. I didn't go.

OLBERMANN: OK. What do you know about the nature of the seeming rancor between the White House and the House?

FRANK: Well, it's fairly strong. And I wish it hadn't been there. But I have to say that I blame the president for it. It's one thing to have a difference of opinion. And I was saying, look, I disagree with him, but let's not demonize each other.

But when he started accusing us of engaging in political theater because we don't want to give tax cuts for a small number of people - and particularly when he has the logic that somehow 36 has become more than 53, you (INAUDIBLE). A majority in the House voted and passed the bill to reduce - to keep taxes at the current level for everybody, and allow the schedule - by the way, it was George Bush's law that would extend to next January, back to the Clinton era. That when that passes the House and when 53 senators vote to do that, 36 vote no, somehow, 36 became the will of the Congress.

In the end, I don't know what would happen but I'm disappointed the president did not join with us and saying, let's hammer away, yes, we want a tax level for most of the people. We want an estate tax. We're talking about $3.5 million minimum, not $5 million. And we want unemployment compensation.

We want to do all these things and let's have the Republicans be the ones to propose it. I mean, he's bought into this notion that in a dispute between two sides, when one side says, "We won't do it," they're the ones who are being constructive. And when we have a bill passed, we're being obstructive.

OLBERMANN: If the component of this that includes the reduction in what is essentially - it's not specifically a Social Security payroll tax. But it does limit the funding of Social Security via payroll. If that goes through, does that, in fact, make Social Security vulnerable in a practical sense or just in a theatrical, sort of opening the Pandora's Box sense?

FRANK: It would add to the argument that those who say Social Security is running out of money. In fact, Social Security is in surplus.

By the way - and I should have mentioned this, and I'm glad you brought this up, the other day, yesterday, the great majority of Republicans who want to reduce taxes from what's currently scheduled under the Bush law by - from 39 percent to 36 percent, costing tens of billions of dollars, said we couldn't afford to give every Social Security recipient $250.


FRANK: And one of them said to me, well, do you want Warren Buffett to get $250? Well, the answer is they want to give Mr. Buffet $250,000 in tax cuts, which to Warren Buffett's credit, he has said, please, don't do that.

OLBERMANN: The Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, always a refreshing breath of fresh air. Great thanks for your time tonight, sir.

FRANK: Thank you.

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

Good evening, Howard.


OLBERMANN: This has been an extraordinary week in this debate between these two parts of the Democratic Party. But you this quote, "F the president"? Kind of strong. What can you tell us about the Democratic revolt in the House this morning?

FINEMAN: Well, like Barney Frank, I wasn't there either. But I did talk - I did talk to a lot of people who were.

And it was pretty startling. There was a sotto voce apparently, you know, not too loud and F the president. There was a no F-ing way. There was he F'd it up.

You know, we have a fairly liberal use of the F word inside those closed doors. And there was a lot of anger.

And, frankly, the president's presence before this group yesterday when he tried to explain his side of things didn't help. As a matter of fact, it just made things worse is my understanding of it.

One member I talked to said if this is the way he's going to negotiate with the Republicans, what's he going to do with the Iranians, you know? And we had other people telling - I had another people telling me, look, there are 63 members in it there - I think it's 63 - who lost, who are kind of like the walking ghosts at this point. They're stuck in little cubicles in the basement of the Capitol.

They lost the election in many case because they champion the previous position the president took. Now, they're being asked to abandon it. And whether they sort of agree substantively or not, they're angry. They're angry. They feel ignored, which they were.

Some members of the leadership were not clued in on this at all until after the fact. For example, Jim Clyburn, who's on the leadership, wasn't at that meeting at the vice president's house last Saturday night.

So, there's a lot of anger and frustration, and it was all expressed this morning behind closed doors.

OLBERMANN: Right. And just to clarify, you're referring to the vice president. We haven't seen the president actually addressing the Democrats in the House yet. That would be a meeting that we should just pay-per-view and solve all of our budget problems right there.

We crunched some numbers and here's how this looks to us. The House passed the president's original plan last week, 55 percent majority. The president's original plan got in the Senate 59 percent backing. Now, a Republican filibuster in the Senate is going to block this popular plan and a de facto Democratic filibuster in the House is blocking the unpopular plan.

Why is the White House going all out to hit the Democratic one in favor of the unpopular plan?

FINEMAN: Well, I suppose you can say no good deed goes unpunished within the Democratic world. I mean, the White House has been the - has been the place - the launching pad really, to switch metaphors, the sort of steadfast place for the White House and the for the president. So, they assumed that ultimately, the House would go along.

And, of course, also, the rules are somewhat different. It's not quite the same thing. The Republicans do to have a stronger hand under the rules in the Senate. But I just think it was - I think the White House has been focused for the last two years primarily on the Senate and the difficulties there, given the close margins there, the almost filibuster-proof majority, et cetera. And they took their eye off the ball in the case of the House.

And I also think the fact that Rahm Emanuel, who used to be chief of staff, who was a veteran in the House, has gone back to Chicago to run for mayor there, may have had something to do with it.

OLBERMANN: Last point, much of the reporting today was that House Democrats were equally mad about the substance of this plan, as about how it was negotiated. Can you corroborate? Can you explain that?

FINEMAN: Oh, yes. That's absolutely correct. And I think the estate tax everybody is focusing on is the big part of it.

First of all, the House members didn't hear anything about that in the negotiations that were going on, and when they even finally were informed about what was happening. And they view it as a big giveaway because the numbers, both in terms of the limits set on families that can pass along money and in terms of the rate, are more generous in both cases than anything George W. Bush proposed.

And what the Democrats inside the House caucus are saying, how you did that happen?


FINEMAN: Why that? Because Republicans were even themselves surprised at the numbers they ended up with there.

OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of "The Huffington Post" and MSNBC - thank you for some of your time tonight, Howard.

FINEMAN: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: One more unhappy side effect of this today, Senate Republicans blocked the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." The vote was 57-40, three short of the 60 needed to cut off debate on the overall defense authorization spending bill, which includes the repeal. This is that GOP threat to block everything until they get the tax breaks for the rich.

Senator Collins, the only Republican to vote with the Democrats, there's a long shot DADT could be revisited before year's end. Senator Lieberman says Majority Leader Reid has agreed to let him bring a separate piece of legislation for repeal directly to the floor under special rule. Of course, that might be revisited but we can revisit a political speech from 34 months ago about Mr. Obama fighting the Republican, or as the prediction was made, not fighting them. Next.


OLBERMANN: One of her supporters being called Nostradamus for his February 2008 admonition about President Obama that he won't last a round against the Republican attack machine. Tom Buffenbarger joins us next.

The governor of Arizona insists her death panel applies only to bone marrow transplants, which is a surprise to the people rejected for lung, liver and heart transplants. One of whom will join us.

Anybody want to buy hundreds of thousands of unsold copies of her new book, they are available.

And the latest revelation from WikiLeaks, the best way to keep the youth of Saudi Arabia from becoming jihadists? Him. He says that's because the show is on after that country's most popular program, "Saudi Dudi (ph)." Ahead.


OLBERMANN: President Obama's decision not the just to agree to Republican demands on the tax deal but to shot out congressional Democrats of the negotiations then tell them to take it or leave it, has revived claims by some of his critics on this news hour and elsewhere that the president does not put up enough of a fight, at least not against Republicans. Nothing like his PR blitz against resistant Democrats this week but hourly email blasts to reporters were seen against the GOP ever.

In our fourth story tonight: it turns out that this is not a new accusation against the president. MSNBC contributor Dave Weigel in his column on "Slate" points out that nearly three years ago, in the heat of the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, one of Senator Clinton's themes was that she, not Obama, was a fighter who could take on Republicans.

One of her supporters, who joins us in a moment, the president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, introduced Mrs. Clinton at a speech in Youngstown, Ohio, and in harsh, angry terms that said union leaders had already seen Mr. Obama back down from union fights with big money business owners.


BUFFENBARGER: We began to take a closer look at the wunderkind. Know what we saw? A guy with two basic positions - nose in the air pontificating when the coast is clear, and as soon as anyone throws a punch, he's in a bum's rush to get the hell away from the conflict.

Where was Barack Obama? Not on the picket line. Not with us in the state legislature. Not in the United States Senate passing a bill to help us.

Not side by side with us at the negotiating table hammering out a deal. No brothers and sisters - he was off by himself, polishing his wonderful speech about hope and change and, yes, we can.

Hope, change, yes, we can. Give me a break! I've got news for all the latte-drinking, Prius driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies crowding in to hear him speak! This guy won't last a round against the Republican attack machine. He's a poet, not a fighter.


OLBERMANN: And as promised, we're now joined by Tom Buffenbarger, president of the machinist union and a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council.

Great thanks for your time tonight, sir.

BUFFENBARGER: Pleasure to be here, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Before we get to your opportunity to tell me, I told you so, did you vote for Barack Obama in November of '08?


OLBERMANN: After he won the nomination, did his victory over Mr.

McCain change your mind about the fighter status?

BUFFENBARGER: No. I - my remarks back in Youngstown, Keith, were how I felt. I've seen Barack Obama in action with our Maytag fight in Illinois, with out United Airlines fight when the airline was coming out of bankruptcy, when we were fighting for our members and to preserve good jobs in America. And he wasn't there for us then.

And I was really hoping - you know, we were Clinton supporters. I knew who the fighter was for us. But I was hoping once he won the nomination, that I would be the disappointed person. That Barack Obama would come out fighting for the people of America, the working people, the people who make this country hum every day. And I'm still waiting to see that Barack Obama.

OLBERMANN: People played the "what it if" the game a lot about what if we'd had President Gore through the first decade of this century. What do you - not personal legal - but representing your union, what exactly do you think would have happened differently to this point under a President Hillary Clinton?

BUFFENBARGER: Oh, I am very confident we would have an advocate for the working people of America, especially those who manufacture. We would have an advocate on our trade deals that - well, we're not opposed to trade. We have to make them fair trade deals. I feel confident Hillary Clinton was the candidate for that job.

I feel that we wouldn't be in the economic morass we're in today with

emphasis being placed on helping Main Street as versus Wall Street. And those are the two big issues I think we could have seen a great difference in tone and tenor.

OLBERMANN: All right. On the tax cuts specifically right now, it's great. And we're guilty of doing this too on television. We're guilty of doing this back, going, he should have done this then and that then, and even if those points had been raised then, as in many cases they were, it's still hindsight.

Right now, what would you say this president should do? Should he let tax cuts expire for your workers rather than keep taxes low for the rich?

BUFFENBARGER: Well, let's revisit history. When Bush put the tax cuts in place, very few of the members I'm privileged to represent noticed any difference in their paycheck.

And so, if the tax cuts were to go away and we go back to the tax rates of then, our members would see very little change in their tax rate again.

And our members know this: that paying taxes is really a privilege because it means you have a job. You have an income. And the culture of the union I come from is one that says, well, if you pay taxes, you're doing your part for your country. You're helping pay your way.

And that's what we do. We don't look for the freebie or the hand out. We're willing to work hard and pay our way, and taxes is part of our paying our way. It supports our military, our social services, our police, our fire, every - our education system, everything good about this country.

And I think that if everyone paid their fair share, certainly, the members I represent pay their fair share. But if the rich pay their fair share, too, maybe we wouldn't be in the mess we're in today.

OLBERMANN: The president of the machinist union, AFL-CIO council member, Tom Buffenbarger - great thanks for your time tonight.

BUFFENBARGER: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Sarah Palin's book report: 100,000 books sold is a hell of a lot of copies sold, unless you were expecting to sell 700,000 copies.


OLBERMANN: A special Countdown publishing report: Book industry sources indicate Sarah Palin's new tome "America by Heart" is underperforming badly. In just two weeks, according to Nielsen book scan, it has sold 108,580 copies, seemingly impressive. I'd like to have sales like that.

But in the first two weeks, her first book, "Going Rogue," was out, it

had sold nearly 667,000 copies. That is an 84 percent drop off. Book

sellers now expected to start returning hundreds of thousands of unsold

copies. Worse yet, the same publishing sources report that the paperback

of "Going Rogue" is going south. It's an unqualified bomb. Though it has

been out since September, it has sold fewer than 20,000 copies. And on the

Nealson (ph) scan list, it trails "Cleo, The Cat Who Mended a Family."

So soon you'll be, no doubt, able to get both Palin's book for 50 cents from websites Red States and "the National Review."

Let's play Oddball.

We begin on the Internets. How about the tiger who mended a family?

I will see your baby tiger; I'll raise you a baby tiger cub with a pig. This real life Winnie the Pooh and Tigger seem completely at ease with one another. It's unclear if the tiger and pig are friends, of if the tiger is just keeping a close eye on a meal to be eaten later.

I like to think these two will be the best friends for years. At least until tiger discovers how delicious bacon is.

Go to France. An epic snowstorm has crippled the city, even shutting down the famed Eiffel Tower. Not in your picture. But some have decided to turn this storm into a blizzard of fun. It's Rocky meets skiing, as those downhill daredevils slide down the steps of the Sacre Ceour (ph) Basilica. The nearly 500-foot trip looks even gnarlier when they do their radical trips on the way -

Was Claudine Lange (ph)?

West Sussex, England, hello, where we find two men attempting to set fire to a pub - or a bar for you Yanks. After failing to throw the Molotov cocktail through the window, and it bounces back at them, the crooks attempt to flee. But they didn't count on this strategically placed lamp post. Down goes Molotov Cocktail thrower.

This polarizing man was later identified as Amir Ali (ph). He was arrested after going to the hospital. He was treated for a headed injury. His lawyer later decided the posting bail was not a bright idea.

Time marches on.

The blowback builds against Governor Jan Brewer's Arizona death panels, as it turns out she either doesn't know what kind of transplants she's now denying her citizens or she is lying about them, next.


OLBERMANN: An "Arizona Republic" columnist is now calling her Governor Grim Reaper. Tonight, there are about 100 people living in Arizona who don't know if they'll make it another 32 days for the Arizona legislature to meet in regular session to remedy the death panel created by Governor Jan Brewer.

Their only hope before then is for Brewer to reverse her decision to cut state funding for transplants in a special session. In our third story, the governor continues to refuse to do that. Not only that, it's not clear if she's aware of the conditions afflicting the people she's condemning. Either that or she's lying about them.

On October 1st, state funding for certain types of organ transplants halted at the direction of Arizona's Republican state legislature and its Governor Brewer. Some 98 mostly lower-income people kicked often the state's Medicaid Access organ donor list. If they wanted new life saving organs, they would have to come up with the money themselves.

The governor has ignored multiple suggestions for finding an estimated five million dollars, which would restore these people to the state's donor list. The state has 30 million in unspent federal stimulus on hand that Brewer's offices says is untouchable because it has already been allocated. The governor refuses to say where.

Instead, Governor Brewer insists these organ transplants are optional and a luxury the state can't afford, like a Cadillac.


GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: It's part of the Cadillac program that Arizona has, even to the point where some of your personal insurance - your private insurance don't cover some of those kind of procedures. A lot of those transplants are still being provided in the state of Arizona?

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: By the state of Arizona or privately?

BREWER: By the state of Arizona. We still provide, even with the cuts, heart transplants, liver transplants, kidney transplants, pancreas and kidney transplants.


OLBERMANN: The state is absolutely not providing a liver transplant to Francisco Felix or a heart transplant to Randy Shepherd, both of whom have appeared on this news broadcast with their families last month. On Tuesday, alongside Tiffany Tate, who you saw here last week, the men held a news conference with Democratic state lawmakers.


RANDY SHEPHERD, DENIED HEART TRANSPLANT: I'm not here on my behalf to fight for my case. I'm here to fight for my kids' father. I have three children at home who need me.


OLBERMANN: Sandra Felix spoke on behalf of her uncle and about Governor Brewer.


SANDRA FELIX, UNCLE DENIED LIVER TRANSPLANT: She thinks it's an option. Everyone who voted with her thinks it's an option. I don't think it's an option for anyone's kids or anyone's parents, family members to have to deal with what we're all going through.


OLBERMANN: Joining me from Tucson, David Hernandez. Six months ago, Arizona told him he was a candidate for a lung transplant. In September, they reversed that and told him he had to raise the 200,000 dollars himself. Mr. Hernandez, good evening. How are you feeling?

DAVID HERNANDEZ, DENIED LUNG TRANSPLANT IN ARIZONA: I'm feeling pretty good tonight. Thank God I'm here today on the show.

OLBERMANN: Your condition is called interstitial fibrosis. How would a lung transplant help you and what happens if you don't get one? What's the prognosis?

HERNANDEZ: It will help me to breathe again. That's what it's going to do, and keep my life going. Without it, it's scarring - there's a scar tissue. And what happens is it just keeps on going up your lungs. As much as it moves up, it's deadening the whole scar tissue. Once that's done, those breathing cells are done. It looks spotty in there. It looks like it's going away.

On the X-Rays, it just seems like those - that part down there is gone, a quarter of it. It keeps on going up until you get to the last point where you can't breathe anymore. But it's been getting worse and worse and worse.

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

HERNANDEZ: It can't be optional. It's not like going to Dairy Queen or something. I think I'll take this. I'll take - no, this is life or death. Optional? If you need it to save your life, you've got to have it. These turn-downs that they did, Access, I think they made their decision too quick. They actually need to get some experts together and check their options out.

The hospitals are saying, we can save you this much money from doing it this way. I don't think Jan Brewer yet has gave them a phone call back yet.

OLBERMANN: You have a rather large family. Five children, four grandchildren. How have they been helping you through this?

HERNANDEZ: A lot of support. You know, we all get up and walk. We do a lot of stuff together. Support. We don't have a lot of money. You support yourself with family and love. But to hear something like this, it's like a ton of bricks right on your back.

But on the positive side, it will change. You know, we live in America, the United States. This is the best country. So when everybody hears this, you know, to me it's going to change. I know this is going to change.

Going back to the family, they just give me a lot of support, a lot of

phone calls. Dad, do you need anything, this and that? Stuff I used to do

a lot of construction and heavy equipment operating, always digging. I was always busy. I was always you gone at 3:00 in the morning. That stopped. That all stopped. You just wake up and you're just trying to figure out what am I going to do today?

Get a plan and get busy. But to get this from the state that we were on the list was one thing. It was great. Everybody loved it. To get that letter back again saying, if you don't hurry up and get this before October 1st, you're done - that's not the way the transplants work. Nobody is going to rush out there and do that. It comes when it comes.

So we're locked out. We're locked out until they do something about it. It's going national. I love it because now more people are going to start hearing it and not just hidden here in Arizona.

OLBERMANN: Amen. David Hernandez.


OLBERMANN: Many thanks for your time this evening and good luck.

HERNANDEZ: Thank you very much for having me here.

OLBERMANN: Of course. And the generosity of you viewers to all the Arizona residents we've had on this program continues to inspire and overwhelm us. The National Transplant Assistance Fund has received about 150,000 dollars that will go toward funding the transplant surgeries for Randy Shepherd and Francisco Felix and Tiffany Tate.

David Hernandez has his own fund at the NTAF website. There you see the address,, or you can call the NTAF if you want to do it by phone, at that number, 800-642-8399.

This is Luke Scott. He is the DH of the Baltimore Orioles. If you don't follow politics, DH stands for Designated Hater.

And our greatest weapon against Jihad; you know him, you love him, you can't live without him.

When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee joins her to make the administration's case for the tax cut deal, if any.


OLBERMANN: The hilarious revelation, Al Franken, David Letterman and

George Clooney do more to keep kids in Saudi Arabia from becoming

Jihadists than the American government did under George Bush, next. >

First, get out your pitchforks and torches, time for today's nominees for the Worst Persons in the World.

The bronze shared by Fox News executives Bill Sammon and Michael Clemente (ph). Media Matters has obtained their memos dictating that during the health care debate, Fox people - and these are the supposedly straight news people like Bret Baier - could not use the term public option. Sammon wrote on October 27th, 2009, "please use the term government-run health insurance, or, when brevity is a concern, government option. Use the qualifier so-called, as in the so-called public option."

Clemente, who unlike Sammon, used to be an actual journalist with ABC, replied that he liked another Sammon suggestion, "number three on your list, the public option, which is a government run plan, is the preferred way to say it, write it, use it."

When a Bret Baier guest used the phrase triggered public option, Baier interrupted her and asked should we say government option, by the way? The whole thing is insidious on its face, but it gets worse.

The government option phrase had been coined by and pushed to Fox by Republican pollster Frank Luntz.

Runners-up, well, there are 41 of them. These are the senators who voted today against the Zadroga (ph) bill to establish seven billion dollars in funding for 911 first responders, not including Harry Reid, who switched his vote to no, a procedure that allows him to reintroduce the bill later. Many said they voted against it because they won't approve anything until they get those tax cuts for the rich.

They are Senators Alexander, Barrasso, Bob Bennett, Bond, Scott Brown, Bunning, Burr, Chambliss, Coburn, Cochran, Collins, Corker, Cornyn, Crapo, DeMint, Ensign, Enzi, Graham, Grassley, Gregg, Hatch, Hutchison, Inhofe, Isaacson, Johanns, Kirk, Kyl, LeMieux, Lugar, McCain, McConnell, Murkowski, Risch, Roberts, Sessions, Shelby, Snowe, Thune, Vitter, Voinovich and Wicker, 41 Republicans.

The next time they say never forget about 911, remember that on December 9th of 2010, they forgot and that they are the worst kind of fraud, the fake patriot.

But our winner, designated hitter Luke Scott of the Baltimore Orioles. Attending baseball's winter meetings yesterday, he veered off into a topic of the president in an interview. "He was not born here. The man has dodged everything. There's no documentation of him, No legal documentation of him. These been lie after lie exposed. I don't care if you're the president of The United states," Scott continued, "you need to be held accountable if you're involved in treacherous acts or you're saying things that are against or are selling out our country. You should be brought to trial."

While his team immediately distanced itself from Scott's crazy

Birtherism - he admits to being a fan of the equally deranged Ted Nugent -

Mr Scott is sticking to his beliefs as his First Amendment rights.

Fair enough. I believe a guy who was a fringe role player with the Houston Astros who suddenly blossomed into a 20-plus homer man in Baltimore must be using human growth hormone. Of course, that's just my opinion. I don't have any evidence. Just the First Amendment.

Something else about Mr. Scott. It's a terrible and bitter, painful irony. Same he interview, he said, "there's a lot of people that fought for their country. That's not something to be taken lightly. They gave their life, everything they had. They gave their lives to give us what we have. That's why I'm so passionate about my beliefs because someone died."

The terrible and bitter irony about Luke Scott? Also yesterday, the Marines reported the death of a second battalion lance corporal from Kebuls (ph), Ohio in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. This is him, Lance Corporal Lucas C. - Luke Scott. He was killed with just a little over a month left before he was going to be going home. He was 20 years old.

That Luke Scott died so the other Luke Scott, who never served in the military, could waste his freedom and public position on conspiracy fantasies about where the president was born. Luke Scott of the Baltimore Orioles, today's worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN: Poor Karen Hughes. One Wikileaks State Department cable suggests the whole Bush administration win the hearts and minds of the Middle East program, under the direction of Ms. Hughes, was not so much unwise as it was unnecessary. Because, in our number one story, we already had the greatest weapons in the fight against jihad recruitment in Saudi Arabia: David Letterman, Al Franken and the cast of "Desperate Housewives."

A may 2009 cable, featuring a section titled "David Letterman, Agent of Influence," describes Saudi citizens eager to learn about American culture. In it, two Saudi media executives tell a U.S. diplomat over coffee at a Saudi Starbucks that American programming, uncensored, with Arabic subtitles is winning over ordinary Saudis in a way that al-Hurra and other U.S. propaganda never could. Al-Hurra a TV channel created by the Bush administration to serve as counterweight to al Jazeera. In the past, it hired executives who didn't speak Arabic languages and gave air time to terrorists.

Needless to say, it isn't as influential as Bush administration officials had hoped it would be. Instead, the two most popular channels among Saudis, one of which is partially owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, play American shows, complete with a 24-hour solid block of such programs CBS and ABC evening news, David Letterman, "Desperate Housewives," "Friends."

One Saudi exec elaborated, "it's still all about the war of ideas here." Wait, have you heard any of Joey's dialogue on "Friends?" War of ideas?

The cable reveals that American movies also resonate with Saudi audiences. They like George Clooney's heroics in "Michael Clayton," Respect for the Law in the Al Pacino movie "Insomnia." They also really like an unnamed movie featuring a husband dealing with his alcoholic wife who smashes table ware. The one guess on that was a reference to the Meg Ryan pic "When a Man Loves a Woman," which was co-written by then not yet Senator Al Franken.

But back to the man who scored his own headline here, David Letterman, on his diplomatic outreach to the Arab world.


DAVID LETTERMAN, "THE LATE SHOW": The top ten reasons now that the Saudi youth love me, Dave. Here we go, number 10: I too was a Saudi youth.

Number nine: we were on right after the number one children's show, Saudi Doody.

Number seven, oh come on, who doesn't love a sneezing monkey? Roll the tape. Roll the tape. Make the monkey sneeze. There you go.

Number three, my memorable performance in "Lawrence of Arabia" as Tarik the date farmer.

Number two, my chain of local Saudi home decor stores, Bedouin Bath and Beyond.


LETTERMAN: And the number one reason Saudis love me, Dave Letterman, the jokes are a lot funnier if you don't speak English.


OLBERMANN: Time now to call in comedian and screen writer Maysoon Zayid. She is the executive producer of the New York Arab American Comedy Festival. Thanks for your time tonight.

MAYSON ZAYID, COMEDIAN: Thank you for having me.

OLBERMANN: So the Saudis love American TV. I'm guessing they haven't seen "Sarah Palin's Alaska" yet?

ZAYID: I'm guessing that they haven't, but I have seen it. H honestly, I don't think the Saudis are prepared for it. Even for the Saudis, it's way too violent. I saw it the other day. She shot something like a gummy beer, a caribou. I'm not sure what's going on, but it was close to Bambi.

OLBERMANN: She shot a gummy bear. To the shows that were singled out in the cable, "Friends," "Desperate Housewives." I would think that that's not necessarily the best we would offer as a nation, if we knew we were an influence here. Am I looking at it the wrong way? Is David Shwimmer like the Saudi version of David Hasselhoff or something? What's going on here?

ZAYID: Well, I feel like "Desperate Housewives" is actually the perfect show for Saudi women to relate to American women. Because, think about it, really, who's more desperate than a Saudi housewife? They can't even drive their own car. Then again, I wouldn't mind having a chauffeur. So maybe it's not as bad as we think.

OLBERMANN: Is there an ultimate American programming choice to showcase in Saudi Arabia?

ZAYID: Oprah, it's definitely Oprah.


ZAYID: It is, because I'm telling you, I spent a lot of time in the Middle East. Oprah is shown on a lot of stations. She's had a great, great effect on the women there. It's about ten years behind. They're watching reruns. It's at the perfect pace. I feel like Saudi women need Oprah to, you know, empower them and liberate them.

OLBERMANN: This channel Rotana (ph) also broadcast - or rebroadcast some of the Fox News shows. Is there a way to explain Glenn Beck to the Arab world? Or does he make more sense there than he does here?

ZAYID: I would be happy to explain Glenn Beck to the Arab world when someone explains him to me. Because how this man is making millions while I can't get a job as a dead body on "Law and Order SVU" is inexplicable to me.

OLBERMANN: Is there a great irony here that the cultural contributions from David Letterman, Al Franken, George Clooney have done more to help U.S.-Arab relations than a 500 million dollar propaganda campaign from the Bush administration?

ZAYID: I think it's actually very telling. And, you know, as I mentioned before, like, my parents are Palestinian. I used to go back to my little village every year. And I remember being young and watching "Dallas." and, like, that has always had an effect on me. The fact that people could associate with everything that we were living here at that time.

But now the fact that they're allowing it in Saudi is amazing. But also I think what has had the greatest influence is the Internet. The ability for the people over there to not just see everything over here, but also correspond with people, I think that's what's really made American pro sentiment grow, because people are like, these guys are just like us.

For example, like, I go with Arabs down - we do stand-up comedy in the Middle East, in Qatar, in Egypt, in Ramallah, in Jordan, and we go with Gabriel Iglasius (ph) and Russell Peters. And the guys there love the American comics, because they see them on Youtube and they can relate to them. The female comics do great there too.

So I think that, like, yes, television was definitely the way to go, because that's what people relate to. We laugh about it. But "Desperate Housewives" and stuff like that, it just let's them look at the it and say OK, we are all equal. But also it points back to like no one ever hated anyone for Britney Spears. They love Britney Spears. They're down with her.

OLBERMANN: That's the best way across the cultural divide, Britney Spears. Maysoon Zayid, comedian and screen writer, great thanks for your time tonight.

ZAYID: Thank you. And thank you for letting me see the tree.

OLBERMANN: You had a good view you from there.

That's December 9th, 37 days since Republicans took control of the House. Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs?

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

Now with more on the White House's take on the reaction to the compromise, ladies and gentleman, here is a doorbell - I'm sorry, it says I'm sorry that was just a typo. Here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.