'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, April 12th, 2010
Video via MSNBC: Twitter Report and Oddball, Quick Comment, Worst Persons
Via YouTube: Quick Comment
The toss: Tinfoil hats
Guests: Steve Clemons, Ezra Klein, David Weigel, Bill Carter.
HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you
be talking about tomorrow?
Sixty-five years to the day FDR died, the largest gathering of world
leaders called by a U.S. president since Roosevelt to found the U.N. - the
And the Republicans continue to threaten the drawdown treaty. Plus,
President Obama's odd invoking of al Qaeda in the nuclear equation.
Steve Clemons on the policy; Michael Beschloss on the history.
Politics makes strange bedfellows, but as a Hillary Clinton for
Supreme Court boom begins, Orrin Hatch is the strangest of them all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: I even heard the name Hillary Clinton
today, you know, and that would be an interesting person in the mix.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Scott Brown throws Sarah Palin under the bus. Scott Brown
throws the Tea Party under the bus. He will not attend the Palin-T.P.
rally in Boston.
And the latest straw poll winners at the latest conservative clambake,
Mitt Romney by a vote over Ron Paul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: What we - as Republicans over the last
several decades - have created is a credibility gap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: By the way, don't conservatives hold a convention of some
sort every other week?
"Worsts": Hi, I'm Carl Paladino and I'm running for governor of New
York on the Tea Party platform. I believe in conservative values. Mind if
I send you some e-mails, including porn, racism and bestiality?
Conan O'Brien to TBS? Eleven p.m., Monday through Thursday? What's
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From Turner Broadcasting System, you're watching
Superstation WTBS Atlanta.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: What's Conan thinking? I'll tell you what Conan is
thinking. Conan's thinking Monday through Thursday.
All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
Tonight, we know why yesterday, President Obama set up the nuclear
summit in Washington - by declaring that the greatest threat was loose
nukes falling into the hands of al Qaeda.
Our fifth story: This afternoon, the government of Ukraine revealing
it would eliminate its stockpile of highly-enriched uranium from all of the
major nuclear material it was left when the Soviet Union broke apart two
decades ago - enough uranium to make several nuclear weapons.
The summit bagging its first success ahead of its official start,
Ukraine the first country to accept the idea that countries should use fuel
in their nuclear energy facilities that is harder to weaponize.
At his daily briefing, the White House press secretary, Mr. Gibbs,
saying the agreement has been a long time in coming.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Today, Ukraine announced a
landmark decision to get rid of all of its stockpile of highly-enriched
uranium by the time of the next nuclear security summit in 2012. This is
something that the United States has tried to make happen for more than 10
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Of course, the fine print of getting the other nations to
part with their nuclear material is agreeing to store that nuclear material
here in the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIBBS: When forced with the choice of having that material stored
safely here or risking - taking the risk that it may or may not be secured
somewhere else, particularly in highly-volatile regions in the world, our
choice, quite clearly, is to have that here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The other big topic at the conference: keeping nuclear
weapons out of the hands of terrorists. As mentioned, in advance of the
summit, the president is calling that possibility, quote, "The single
biggest threat to U.S. security."
Robert Gates, defense secretary to both President Obama and President
Bush, is saying today that until this summit, nuclear material falling into
the hands of terrorists has mostly been a threat that people talked about
but had not addressed. The defense secretary is estimating the world's
stockpile of nuclear materials at 1,600 tons of highly-enriched uranium and
500 tons of plutonium. That is enough to make 120,000 nuclear weapons.
Think concerns about nuclear terrorism are alarmist? A group of 200
experts is now holding a parallel summit to say they're not.
Former U.S. ambassador, Robert Gallucci, the chief U.S. negotiator
during the North Korean nuclear crisis of 1994, is telling the "Associated
Press," quote, "It is possible, plausible and overtime probable that a
determined and well-financed terrorist group would set off a nuclear blast
In 2005, more than 80 countries having agreed to new standards to
safeguard nuclear materials within their own countries, but only at their
own discretion - that is only if those countries felt their nuclear
materials and facilities were threatened by terrorists or thieves. In
addition, those standards would only go into effect once two-thirds of
states have ratified. That threshold has not yet been reached - the U.S.
is among the nations which have yet to ratify the treaty amendment.
Nor is it a sure thing that the Senate will ratify the new START
treaty signed in Prague last week by President Obama and the Russian
president, Mr. Medvedev. The Senate is now back in session. A Republican
aide telling the newspaper, "Roll Call," that until the president has in
place a plan to also modernize, in their terms, this country's nuclear
weapons, he will not see support for the treaty.
Time now to call the director of the American strategy program at the
New America Foundation, author of the foreign policy blog, "The Washington
Note," Steve Clemons.
Steve, good evening.
STEVE CLEMONS, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, the president's al Qaeda nuclear reference yesterday
and the Ukrainian announcement today, I assume, are not coincidences?
CLEMONS: No, they're not coincidences. This is President Obama
connecting dots for the rest of the world. When you've got non-state
players that have grown in influence in network and being helped by various
groups maybe within countries, and you've got materials sitting around likeyou do in Ukraine, and as you just pointed out, in many other parts of the
world, this is a toxic mix that has enormous consequence.
There was a black bag operation which Sandia National Weapons
Laboratory tried to enact trying to get some of its former CIA officials
and others to go around the world and see what they could do in developing
materials for a dirty bomb. And they came back stunned with just how easy
So, I think the president is trying to say, we have a real problem and
we need a community approach to dealing with it.
OLBERMANN: Just getting countries to agree to ratify those existing
international conventions on security of nukes, like the one that has been
languishing in many countries, including this one, for five years - would
that be an admirable goal for the summit this week?
CLEMONS: I think it would be a huge step. I think it's part of an
ongoing process. We've had the Nuclear Posture Review that came out and
made the same statement that America's threats tend to be more with non-
state actors than with states today. We had the U.S./Russia START
And all of this is flowing into an every five-year review of the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which five years ago, the United States
was largely absent from and at least very unconstructive towards. And I
think, right now, they're trying to say, we're getting back into building
global institutions and working collaboratively with other nations to tryto move security up and to try to show that America can contribute in
positive ways to the global community, rather than destabilizing global
OLBERMANN: That treaty amendment called on nations to protect their
own nuclear materials, essentially at their own discretion, which begs this
question: Why in this supposedly post-9/11 world has it taken more than
eight years to address the nuclear terrorist threat specifically?
CLEMONS: Well, I mean, there are two things that are going on.
First, under the leadership of people like John Bolton, who used to be
under secretary of state for arms control in the Bush administration, also
served as ambassador of the United Nations in a recess appointment. John
Bolton and many of his followers and many of his elders, like Vice
President Cheney, worked very hard to rip apart and tear down the notion
that international agreements like the NPT actually contributed to America
security. These were the - you know, hyper-committed to a very pure
notion of American sovereignty and not wanting to be bound by other
So, there wasn't an investment there. To be fair to the Bush
administration, though, there was an effort called the Proliferation
Security Initiative which brought together like-minded coalitions of the
willing, if you will, to talk about some of these problems, and I think
there were gains.
But as vice president today hosted in his home, he hosted a lot of
world leaders and foreign ministers who were not on this friend's list, not
ally nations, that have materials that need to be brought in - just
talking to your friends doesn't move you very far forward. And I think
that's the missing piece that President Obama and his team have done, I
think a very good job of addressing and bringing around.
OLBERMANN: Apart from the start here with the Ukraine, what else
should we expect out of this? What else is a reasonable outcome at the end
of this thing?
CLEMONS: Well, I think the reason why is to see how this leads
towards the next step and may we have the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,
is the United States can come forward with other big steps. And, frankly,
there are other things like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which is the
next big fight between the political right and left about a new, you know,
safer regime out there.
I think a lot of this is going to deal - you know, involve some
complicated deal-making between the president and others, and we're going
to have to look at countries like Pakistan and make sure that Pakistan is
delivering the same sort of nuclear security that we expect of ourselves
and other major stakeholders.
OLBERMANN: Steve Clemons, author of "The Washington Note" - as
always, great thanks.
CLEMONS: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: For more on the context of this week's nuclear summit in
Washington, let's turn to our NBC News presidential historian, Michael
Michael, it's a pleasure. Good evening.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Me too, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Forty-seven world leaders - that's counting the president
getting together for one topic, nuclear security. I'm implying here
from your presence, or inferring from it that it doesn't happen every day.
BESCHLOSS: It doesn't. My children are here in Washington. They
think it does happen every day because they see all these cars around. But
it really is unusual.
And the irony - you were mentioning earlier that Franklin Roosevelt
died 65 years ago today, and by at least one source, Roosevelt's last words
were: be careful. It wasn't a bad message for all of us here tonight.
But you know the irony is, is that Roosevelt thought that a problem
such as controlling the materials that lead to nuclear weapons around the
world and keeping it away from terrorists, he thought that something like
that could be handled by the United Nations.
The fact that President Obama is convening this meeting today suggests
that it hasn't really happened.
OLBERMANN: And especially this meeting today and the timing relative
to the collapse of, not only the Berlin Wall, but what was held behind it,
a former Soviet bloc country, it was the Soviet bloc viewed as the great
opponent to any kind of regulation of nuclear weapons, or nuclea
materials, it's 20 years after that took place that we finally get one of
those former nations to agree to eliminate its stockpile of possible
How do we put that into context?
BESCHLOSS: You know, it has taken a little while. Even Ronald Reagan
and Mikhail Gorbachev in one of their summits, they talked about the fact
that although they were trying to bring an end to the Cold War, the biggest
danger in the future would be that some terrorist would get ahold of
nuclear weapons. So, they were talking about that almost 30 years ago.
The miracle is that it's taken this long.
OLBERMANN: Put this into some sort of context what was referred to in
several places as the speed-dating sessions for the president today. He
met with how many? How many people did he meet with? And how could you
possibly get anything done in all - in those short periods of time?
BESCHLOSS: Yes, probably seemed like 9,000. But, you know, one of
the things that is a weapon for him is face time with some of these leaders
who don't always have much face time with the president of the United
States. And it's a very good use of diplomacy, because what Obama is
essentially saying is, the U.N. has fallen short, the United States has to
convene this meeting ourselves.
We're a powerful country, but one of the biggest weapons in our
arsenal is this kind of diplomacy.
OLBERMANN: And he got the - he got the Chinese to push against -
back against Iran, and nukes and, as you said, face time, if you will.
But there was one other development, we'll recall, obviously, the
exchange between Bush and Putin where he said he could see into Putin's
soul and Reagan with Gorbachev, and this morning, the current leader, or at
least the current president of Russia, Mr. Medvedev, is saying to Mr. Obam
and the quote was, "The most important thing that distinguishes him from
other people, I won't name anyone by name, he's a thinker. He thinks when
What is that - how important is a relationship between the two
presidents or to sort of contextualize it backwards in history, an American
leader and a Soviet leader - and what does - what does that kind of quote
from Medvedev say the current one between himself and Obama?
BESCHLOSS: Well, I guess the quiz question is who possibly could
Medvedev have been referring to? My guest is that he will not be an early
honored guest at the George W. Bush Library, but it is historically
interesting because all during the Cold War, needless to say, it's not too
much to say that the fate of the world rested in the hands of two men, in
Moscow and Washington. That's not quite true nowadays, but the summit does
shows is that it is still the case that who's the Russian leader is awfully
important and it's even more important that he have a working relationship
with the president.
OLBERMANN: NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss - as I
said before, great pleasure as always to speak with you, sir. Take care.
BESCHLOSS: Me too. Be well, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The leaders of 46 foreign states in Washington, the
biggest group of diplomats and statesmen by count, volume or total weight
since FDR died. And as they assemble, the rumor breaks. The secretary of
state might get kicked upstairs to the Supreme Court. Justice Hillary
Clinton? When we resume.
OLBERMANN: Is she really a candidate for the Supreme Court or is she
just doing too good a job at State to be spared? And why did Orrin Hatch
seem to endorse her?
The Tea Party considers his election its greatest accomplishment. Odd
then that he won't even attend their event in Boston with Sarah Palin.
This is not the way to use the Internet to get elected. A New York
conservative sending out e-mails full of porn, the N-word, and bestiality.
The candidate responds on camera: no comment from the horse.
And speaking of FOX, he apparently turned them down today to go to TBS
to take over somebody else's time slot and force that person to move to a
later hour. Why does that sound familiar?
You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Having gone through the Supreme Court nomination process
just one year ago, the Obama White House has already done much of the
legwork toward choosing this year's nominee to fill the seat that Justice
John Paul Stevens will be vacating at the end of this term.
And our fourth story tonight: For the front-runner, Hillary Rodham
She is, of course, not just the current secretary of state but also a
lawyer, a lawyer whose resume goes back to the Watergate hearings; a former
senator, of course - all of which give her resume more than qualifying
enough to join the high court.
So, who is suggesting she might be in the running? Well, it came out
again this morning on the "Today" show from a Republican member of the
Senate Judiciary Committee, Orrin Hatch, who basically implied he'd vote
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HATCH: I even heard the name Hillary Clinton today, you know, and
that would be an interesting person in the mix.
MATT LAUER, "TODAY" SHOW: Senator Hatch, you just, by the way,
mention Secretary Clinton. In your opinion, would she be qualified?
HATCH: Well, I'm not going to judge anybody right now. I happen to
like Hillary Clinton. I think she's done a good job for the Democrat -
secretary of state's position. And I have a high respect for her, and
think a great deal of her. But I'm not going to prejudge that.
HATCH: We'll look at it very carefully and we'll have to be very fair
SEN. PAT LEAHY (D), VERMONT: I think she's done a good job for the
country, not just for Democrats. She's done for the whole country.
HATCH: Oh, I think so too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Cameo there from Senator Leahy.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs quickly shot that rumor down,
saying the president wants to keep the secretary of state as secretary of
state, where he thinks she's doing a wonderful job.
The others on Mr. Obama's short list can also claim some Republican
admirers, including Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who argues
administration cases to the Supreme Court, being called today, quote, "a
very respectable choice," by no less than Bill Kristol, even as other
conservatives are still cheesed off by Kagan's opposition to military
recruitment at Harvard Law because the military refused to accept gay and
Tonight, administration officials telling NBC News, at least seven
other people are on the short list: Federal Judges Sidney Thomas, Diane
Wood, and Merrick Garland, former Georgia Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears,
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, Homeland Security Secretary Janet
Napolitano and Harvard Law School dean, Martha Minow.
Hatch, like his fellow Republicans, suggested quick and easy passage
for any nominee his party considers mainstream, which days would not
include Justice Stevens; but warned that Republicans might filibuster any
Supreme Court nominee who is too activist. Maybe they'd like Judge Taney.
Committee Chairman Pat Leahy promptly reminded Senator Hatch that the
current court has been dramatically activist, legislating from the bench
for the right.
But as legal observers point out, the nomination battle could get
interesting because for the first time in this majority Protestant nation,
the new court might not have a single Protestant justice.
Let's turn now to Ezra Klein, columnist for "Newsweek," who also
covers economic and domestic policy for "The Washington Post."
Ezra, good evening.
EZRA KLEIN, NEWSWEEK: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: What exactly happened with Hatch today? Was that
strategic speculation or did he, you know, just have one of those, that's
my strange uncle from Utah moments, or was she actually in the mix?
KLEIN: One of the toughest things in Washington to decide is: did
that person have a plan? Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't.
But, you know, there's been some speculation about Hillary Clinton, in
part because there's a long tradition of putting politicians on to the
bench. John Marshall, who helped create the modern Supreme Court, was one.
Hugo Black, Earl Warren - and they've often done a quite good job. Sandra
Day O'Connor is another one.
Hillary Clinton would fit into that long line of prominent politicians
who eventually ended up on the Supreme Court. And I think, let's be honest
about it, people like speculating about Hillary Clinton.
OLBERMANN: He made a point today about the presumed Obama desire to
avoid strong opposition from the Republicans on this one. If that's
impossible, what should the White House do? Should they nominate Sarah
Palin or what?
KLEIN: Well, there's a school of thought which I'll probably
subscribe to, which is they go in the other direction. Assuming that they
would get strong opposition even if they nominated the guy on the Quaker
Oats box, they should pretty much assume that that's going to happen, and
maybe what you want to do is get a Supreme Court nominee who drives up your
base, who your people are excited about.
One of the dangerous things in a midterm election is to go in with a
sort of asymmetric amount of enthusiasm where the opposition side is
excited and your side isn't. If they're going to turn the Supreme Court
into a fight, then you might want, at least, make it a fight that your side
would like to engage in.
OLBERMANN: Five out of six Catholics on the court were appointed by
pro-life Republican presidents. President Clinton appointed the two Jewish
justices. Mr. Obama appointed Justice Sotomayor, who is also Catholic.
With that kind of breakdown or demographic analysis, does it matter if
the largest religious denomination in the country is not represented on the
court? Or is this, you know, post-religion Supreme Court justicing?
KLEIN: It's very interesting, isn't it?
KLEIN: And the one thing I would say about it, because I really don't
know what I think about that - but the one thing that I would say about it
is that it is part of sort of our country's admirable ability to bring
different groups into the "us," right? Sixty years ago, 80 years ago, 100
years ago, the idea that Jews and Catholics would make up the majority on
the Supreme Court would have been absurd. But at this point, it actually
is very rarely remarked upon because it's all part of the "us," right?
It's all everybody become part of the - many people become part of the
And you know, hopefully that trend continues. I think it's a good
thing for the country.
OLBERMANN: Elizabeth Warren has been getting a push slightly? Is
that - is that correct the she's on some short list or are there so many
short lists that they just create one giant long list among them?
KLEIN: She's not on any list that I know of. But I think there are
some who believe Elizabeth Warren would be appealing for a couple of
reasons. One, she's a Harvard Law bankruptcy professor. Another - she
would focus the Supreme Court on economic - or her nominee would focus the
conversation on economic issues rather than cultural ones, which is very
important. And, obviously, when you go back to this question of creating a
fight and a narrative for the midterm election, Elizabeth Warren is very,
very tough on the banks, as somebody who really brings a lot of these
questions of consumer protection and the big guy versus - little guy
versus Wall Street into focus.
So, there would be some appeal for that. And certainly, she's, you
know, as qualified as many are.
OLBERMANN: And lastly, the obligatory stupid question, you can't have
the Federal Judge Sidney Thomas be the nominee or get on to the court
because then every newscast and every news story would have to - we
couldn't just say Justice Thomas anymore. It would have to be S. Thomas
and C. Thomas, right? We'd add an extra 20 seconds to each newscast?
KLEIN: Absolutely. Barack Obama would never do that to you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I appreciate it.
Ezra Klein of "The Washington Post" and "Newsweek" - great thanks,
KLEIN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Scott Brown dumps on Sarah Palin, so to speak. A
conservative conference repudiates the thing at the heart of the Tea Party.
And a new name for the testers (ph) in our first ever "tweet of the day" -
OLBERMANN: Scott Brown to Sarah Palin. Palin? Palin who?
First, Twitter. Day five, followers, 35,000. Received tweet of the
day from Uncucumbered, "If you could work in the words 'teahadists' and
'Paliban' into your show, that would make TCOT heads explode." TCOT, I
have learned is top conservatives on Twitter. That maybe 11 guys, because
in the first week, and I will pass (ph) Hannity, O'Reilly and Greta Van
I promise I'll calm down about this. This will work. Video of a dog
defiling a Minor League Baseball game.
Let's play "Oddball."
OLBERMANN: This is not the aforementioned Scott Brown story. Arvest
Ballpark in Springdale, Arkansas, where Saturday's Minor League northwest
Arkansas Natural's game was delayed due to a dog on the field, part of an
adoptable pet of the game promotion. Eventually corralled and taken to the
dugout and then it broke free again and this time rover got natural on the
field of the Naturals. Must be the reincarnation of Bump Bailey.
Yes, it jogged back out into left center field and shall we say,
turned to unassisted. That poop fly is deep and I don't think it's
After short chase, the field crew once again picked the dog up and ran
it off the field. It's not clear if the dog has been adopted. What is
clear is that this guy carrying the hot nature off the field is the rookie
member of the grounds-keeping staff.
To Germany where Sven Goebel yesterday set the Guinness World Record
for building the largest house made entirely out of beer coasters. Over a
quarter of a million four-by-four cardboard squares formed walls and chairs
and tables with absolutely no adhesive holding it together. So,
ironically, you could never put your beer down.
It took Goebel months to construct, placing an average of 1,000 cards
and hour. But in order to officially get the record, he had to prove he
hadn't used any glue by knocking the whole thing down. Months to build,
gone in seconds. A local bar volunteered to take in the gently used
Finally, to the Caribbean, where experts aboard the British ship the
James Cook have found a volcanic vent some three miles beneath the surface
of the Caribbean. It is the deepest vent ever discovered on Earth. The
previous record for world's deepest vent had belonged to Frederick
That's right, a philosophy joke in the middle of the news.
Scientists call what you're looking at a black smoker. The water
erupting from that vent is hot enough to melt lead. So how is the
submarine getting that close? Conspiracy theory, hello.
Time for the latest bi-weekly convention of conservatives, and their
latest straw poll choice to lead them in 2012, Millard Fillmore.
And in Tea Party news, Scott Brown abandons them and the half
And the would be governor of New York selling emails full of porn,
racist jokes and pictures of bestiality. Family values.
OLBERMANN: Anybody daring to try to draw a straight line through
Republican, conservative and Tea Party thinking is quaking with shot nerves
again tonight, after another conservative gathering has selected the ex-
governor who passed health care reform far more radical than anything
dreamt of in the White House. Also, in our third story tonight, a Tea
Party in Boston, where they had the original patriotic tea party, and the
man whose election it claims as its greatest success will not attend that
party. Senator Scott Brown has declined to attend a rally at Boston Common
on Wednesday, to be headlined by half Governor Palin.
The senator explained that the Senate is in session. Tea Party
leaders have, at least officially, given him a pass. "It's not about
paying favors back," said Mark Williams, chairman of the Tea Party Express.
"I'd happily forgo having him if he's truly doing the job of the people."
Bear in mind that Senator Brown is up for re-election in just two
years. The Tea Party also a factor in the straw polls at the Southern
Republican Leadership Conference. Former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt
"health care reform" Romney virtually tied Congressman Ron Paul. Both men
drew 24 percent of the vote. Romney won officially by drawing one more
vote, 439, to 438 for Paul.
Mr. Romney did not attend the conference, citing a scheduling
conflict, possibly the fact that the Senate is in session. But his
supporters attended and were reportedly very organized. Congressman Paul,
who had handily won the CPAC straw poll seven weeks ago, once again
delighted his Tea-inclined followers, while inadvertently offering the
Democratic National Committee a campaign ad, again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: What we as Republicans, over the last
several decades, have created is a credibility gap. We talk a good game.
But when we get the chance to do something, we haven't done the job that we
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Mr. Paul also said that President Obama was technically
not a socialist, but rather a corporatist, a label he then applied equally
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: And unfortunately, we have corporatists in the republican
party. And that means you take care of corporations, and corporations take
over and run the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But back to that straw poll. After Romney and Paul came
Palin and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who both spoke at the
conference. They tied with 18 percent. The rest of the pack in single
Meantime, RNC Chairman Michael Steele admitted to mistakes when he
spoke before a half-empty ballroom. And according to the "Washington
Times," Steele was forced to cancel a major donor fund raising event for
lack of interest.
On that note, let's turn to "Washington Post" political reporter,
author of "The Right Now" blog, David Weigel. David, good evening.
DAVID WEIGEL, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Senator Brown, in session in Washington, D.C., is a
shuttle flight from the Boston rally he supposedly has no time to attend.
Therefore, we may draw what from his Tea Party no-show?
WEIGEL: I take him at his word on this. I take him at his word that
he pledged to stay in D.C. and cast votes, while this Tea Party, which has
been in planning for a long time - a year literally - was going to go on
without him. That excuse that you gave from Mark Williams of the Tea Party
express, I buy that. I see this as another example of Tea Party activists
moving into election mode, getting ready to elect Republicans.
If they've got Scott Brown there casting a key vote to block, you
know, Goodwin Liu, for example - though that's not going to be tomorrow -
then that's fine. They'll take it.
OLBERMANN: Earlier this evening he voted. He voted with three other
Republicans, sided with the Democrats to move ahead with extending the
unemployment benefits for hundreds of Americans, that blockage thing. Is
that going to endear him to the Tea Party crowd or, because they can use
that same rationale, well, he's doing the people's bidding, as if previous
senators never showed up or cast a vote, no matter the outcome, right?
WEIGEL: That's more troubling. There are two kinds of Tea Party
politicians. There are the guys that rise up from the Tea Party. You
mentioned one, this guy running for governor of New York, with the e-mail
problems, who don't win. Then there are guys like Scott Brown and probably
Marco Rubio in Florida, who are Republican politicians looking for a leg
up, and tell the Tea Partiers, hey, I'm one of you. I'll show up to your
rally. I'm going to be one of you when I get to Washington.
Then, once they get momentum, they're not there every time you pick up
the phone. He was a lot easier to reach a few months ago.
OLBERMANN: The candidate in New York had an e-mail with a leg up, but
that's another story which we'll get to that later. This juxtaposition of
Brown not being there in Boston, when Mrs. Celebrity carpetbagger herself
will be. Put that together for us.
WEIGEL: Well, that's one reason I don't think Tea Party activists are
going to mind that Scott Brown is not there. This is part, again, of Sarah
Palin's big national tour of whatever she's touring.
Another example of something I saw at this conference in New Orleans,
activist after activist I talked to really love Sarah Palin. They
basically turn into a Who fan during "Won't Be Fooled Again" every time
they hear her speak. They're not quite ready to embrace her as a
president. They think - one guy put it to me - one guy who is actually a
cousin of one of the congressmen, said she'd be great as RNC chairman.
She'd be great pounding the pavement for whoever we nominate. But she's
not really going to be elected. She can do this. She can wave the pom-
poms - that's not the best metaphor I could use, but she could wave the
Gadsen Flag at any of these events and move on, yes.
OLBERMANN: "Don't tread on me, don't tread on me."
OLBERMANN: There are three kinds of conservatives at the moment;
people who call themselves conservatives, Republicans and Tea Party
members. There's some overlap, but there are three different divisions.
The guy who championed the health care that they supposedly all hate to
varying degree was just barely the winner in this latest straw poll. And
the guy just one vote down keeps ripping Republicans. And the chairman had
to cancel a fund-raiser.
That wing of politics, everything - those three subsets, they're
having - either it's a nervous breakdown or it's a meltdown, and one of
the all-time great ones in political history. Is there a reason it is
rarely portrayed that starkly in most of the media?
WEIGEL: I hate to stand in front of the Capitol and say it makes more
sense outside the Beltway, but it makes more sense outside the Beltway. If
you get outside Washington, the awareness of Michael Steele's scandal isn't
as big as the awareness of David Vitter actually surviving and looking like
he's going to get re-elected, or members of Congress going to a town hall
and getting shouted down for health care. So these things activists,
Republican strategists will tell you do seem like distractions compared to
the environment they see out there.
The flip side of that is that they're winning some of these elections
with guys like Scott Brown who are not behaving the way the Tea Party
activists want them to behave. But that was Steele's defense, in fact, at
the conference; if you talk more about this scandal, if you don't show up
to my fund-raisers, then you're letting the Democrats win. Well, they're
happy to do that. They've got their own PACS. They've got their own
efforts. They don't need Michael Steele.
OLBERMANN: Oops. David Weigel of the "Washington Post," as always,
WEIGEL: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: As Conan O'Brien says, in three months he went from "The
Tonight Show" to Tweeting to TBS, so his plan has worked perfectly. What
is his plan? Bill Carter of the "New York Times" joins me.
E-mail is a good way to get out your message when you're running for
governor, unless you send the e-mails this guy sends. What did we do in
this state to get these people?
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, they're saying that
in Virginia where the attorney general is headed to a Tea Party event, and
will also hang out with a faith healer. Who put something in the water in
OLBERMANN: Conan O'Brien to TBS, which is either the beginning of TBS
or the end of Conan O'Brien. That and worsts ahead. First, tonight's
comment, and Republican Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia had just pulled
his burning marshmallows out of the fire when Republican Governor Haley
Barbour of Mississippi was nice enough to push them back into the inferno.
In his dubious decision to reinstate Confederacy Month in Virginia,
McDonnell left out any reference to slavery, then ignored criticism of that
for a week, then said something really stupid about how slavery wasn't one
of the big issues that concerned Virginia then or now. Then he saw his
whole political career flash before his eyes. Then he apologized right
Now Governor Barbour has said "anyone who thinks you have to explain
to people that slavery is a bad thing, I think it goes without saying. To
me it's a sort of feeling that it's just a nit, that it is not significant.
It's trying to make a big deal out of something that doesn't matter for
Holy cow, really? Diddley? Governor Flanders over there? Barbour's
only playing dumb, of course. He knows exactly what he's doing. The Tea
Partiers throughout the country and the Republicans in the south are
playing to several despicable groups who, at best, aren't comfortable with
black people, period. And he knows it.
So let's follow his logic for a moment and McDonnell's original logic.
When talking about the confederacy, table slavery issue for a moment. How
about we just focus on secession, and the threat and use of violence, and
the refusal to acknowledge a lawful and uncontested democratic election
because you didn't like who won? In 1860 and 1861, that put you in the
confederacy. In 2010, that puts you in the Tea Party.
OLBERMANN: You're watching Conan O'Brien on TBS, because apparently
they canceled "the Frank Caliendo Show." Bill Carter of "the New York
But first, tonight's worst persons in the world. The bronze to John
Derbeshire of "National Review" online, speaking to the law school at the
University of Pennsylvania and explaining to them why they're faster, but
he's smarter. Quote, "we all notice the different physical specialties of
the different races in the Olympic games. There was a run of I think seven
Olympics in which everyone of the finalists in the men's 100 Meter Sprint
was of West African ancestry, 56 out of 56 finalists. These differences
even show up within sports. Where a team sport calls for highly
differentiated abilities in team members, football being the obvious
Wait, this gets better. "We see the same differences in traits we
don't think of as directly physical, what evolutionary psychologists
sometimes refer to as the BIP traits, behavior, intelligence and
personality." Not refer to Bip Roberts, the old infielder? "Two of the
hardest to ignore manifestations here are the extraordinary differentials
in criminality between white Americans and African-Americans and the
persistent gaps in scores when tests of cognitive ability are given to
large population samples," unquote.
Then again, there's the empirical evidence for African people as a
whole being smarter then non-Africans. That evidence being seen in this
detail, moronic tautologist John Derbeshire is a non-African.
Our runner up, Lonesome Rhodes Beck. He's had another one of his
visions. "Why is it no one notices when the president, the administration
and this Congress are saying the same thing? You're either with the
president or you're a terrorist. That's what they're saying about you.
That's what they're saying about the Tea Parties. And no one seems to
notice that. No one seems to notice that this president has said you're
either with us or you're a terrorist. You're either with us or you're
against us. He's not saying that to the rest of the world. He's not
saying that to the countries of the world that are harboring terrorists.
He's saying that to the citizens of America. How has that gone unnoticed?"
Possibly, Glenn, because it didn't happen. What you heard is one of
those voices in your head, again. Just remember, it's only entertainment,
like watching a donkey being forced to high-dive into a pool.
But our winner, Carl Paladino, the Tea Party candidate for the clearly
jinxed office of governor of New York State. The Buffalo area site
WNYMedia.net has posted dozens of what it claims, and no one was denying,
are Paladino's e-mails to friends and business associates. They contain
racist jokes, porn and bestiality. Now the candidate responds, sort of.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL PALADINO, CANDIDATE FOR NEW YORK GOVERNOR: I don't know what e-
mails you're referring to specifically.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can show them to you if you have a second.
PALADINO: I'm not quite sure. I wouldn't even know half of them if I
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's take a look at some of them.
PALADINO: We'll deal with -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one has the "N" word in it. There are other
pictures of naked women. And another one there's a picture of a woman
performing a sexual act on a horse. Is that appropriate for someone
running for governor to forward to other people? It's a very simple
PALADINO: Is it appropriate for the Democrats -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carl, I'm not asking about the Democrats.
PALADINO: They can hear the rumblings, OK, of something happening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does this have to do with the Democrats?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: We can all hear the rumblings too. The campaign manager
added, "it figures that members of the party who brought us record taxes,
record spending and record debt would want to change the topic from reform
to having sex with horses and S & M parlors." Wait a minute, we know the
thing about the horses but there's nothing in the emails about S&M parlors.
What's this about Paladino and S&M parlors?
Carl "my e-mails may contain bestiality" Paladino, Tea Party candidate
for governor in New York, today's worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: It is the basic cable channel that brings you appointment
television, provided your appointment was for seven years ago. TBS, reruns
of "the King of Queens" and "Family Guy," along with heavily advertised, so
far low yield sitcoms and talk shows. And then, in our number one story in
the Countdown, today, TBS signed Conan O'Brien today. At first looking
like perhaps Manny Ramirez signing with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.
Mr. O'Brien declaring on Twitter, "the good news I will be doing a
show on TBS in November. The bad news, I will be playing Rudy on the all
new Cosby Show."
Coming as a shock to virtually everyone, well the TBS part at least,
considering Mr. O'Brien had been in serious discussions for months about
launching a late-night show on Fox. Mr. O'Brien will host an 11:00 p.m.
show Monday through Thursday, giving him a 30-minute head start on "the
Tonight Show," the franchise he headed for just seven months. "New York
Times" reporting that the negotiations between O'Brien and Turner
Entertainment only lasted about ten days.
The "L.A. Times" says he has a five-year deal and ownership of the
show. Part of what needed to get resolved, what to do with TBS' current
11:00 p.m. Talk show host, the comedian George Lopez of "Lopez Tonight."
TBS proposing Mr. Lopez move to midnight to make way for Mr. O'Brien.
Finding that plan a little too familiar, Mr. O'Brien was reluctant until
Mr. Lopez gave his blessing. Mr. Lopez releasing this statement: "I can't
think of anything better than doing my show with Conan as my lead-in."
The news made public just hours before the kick-off of Mr. O'Brien's
30 city, the Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour. He
quipped, "in three months, I've gone from network television, to Twitter,
to performing live in theaters. And now I'm headed to basic cable. My
plan is working perfectly."
Joining me now from Eugene, Oregon, where he will attend the first
stop on Conan O'Brien's comedy tour, the ace TV writer for the "New York
Times," Bill Carter. Bill, good evening.
BILL CARTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Good evening to you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: What happened here? Wasn't Conan going to Fox?
CARTER: Well, he was going to go to Fox if they could make a deal.
It was very complicated because of the situation with their stations having
bought a lot of syndicated shows, a lot of sitcoms that they've spent a lot
of money on and already sold advertising in. I think the negotiations were
still going on, but it became so complex and TBS came up with a very
aggressive offer, stepped in and took him away.
OLBERMANN: What is the positioning here of this 11:00 start time?
He's going to be on a half hour earlier. Does that imply he's not being
really sort of set out there to compete with Leno and Letterman, but rather
with Stewart and Colbert? And who benefits the most from this deal?
CARTER: Well, definitely he'll be on cable compared to Stewart and
Colbert, and Chelsea Handler, for that matter. Late night in cable is
getting crowded. I think, though, that the 11:00 thing is just what cable
does. They don't have late local news. They don't have to deal with late
local news. And that became a complication first for NBC and then for Fox.
OLBERMANN: You reported that TBS plans to launch - let me read it
exactly - the biggest proportional campaign in television history. There
was some suspicion that they'd already done that with George Lopez and with
the Tim Hutton series, "Leverage" and, of course, "The Frank Caliendo
Show." Are we going to see a commercial for Conan O'Brien on every
commercial blank on TBS and every other one they can buy between now and
CARTER: I would imagine you'll see everything they can do, including
billboards and everything else. I do think when we watched the baseball
playoffs in October, we will see - you know, in between pitches, you'll
see Conan's face. He may be on the ball.
OLBERMANN: When they did that with Frank Caliendo two years ago,
there were a number of us who watched all those games, who were thinking
about jumping. So it may or may not work to their benefit. But does this
bespeak a moment, not just in terms of TBS or late night TV or Conan
O'Brien - is this the attempt here by TBS to lift themselves out of the
vast basic cable wasteland that includes guys like me, and actually compete
head to head with the broadcast networks, that long-anticipated first step
toward erasing the distinctions between cable and broadcast, at least for
CARTER: I certainly think they're interpreting it that way. This is
a signature network star moving to cable. That's a big deal. Jon Stewart's pretty big, though. He's done the Oscar. So there's some on
cable. I think for TBS, it's enormous. They even said something along the
lines of we hope this brings creative talent to us from people who say,
wow, Conan went there, maybe we can, too.
OLBERMANN: Would they, in fact, roll out some sort of prime-time
lineup to precede this, and erase the entire idea of any reruns of any kind
on that network?
CARTER: I think they have a long way to go for that. They have some
original shows, but they're all comedy. There would have to be sitcoms
around the clock. I don't think they're going to do as well as repeats of
the network sit-coms. Those sitcoms are probably not identifiable right
now, particularly. But I think their plan is ambitious. And let's face
it, basic cable is making more money than network television now, because
they have two revenue streams and they're going to use that money.
OLBERMANN: Yes, we are. Last question; you implied at the beginning
of this about what Fox was likely to sort of stick with the way things are.
Is that what they want to do? Or will they look long-term to something
like Conan O'Brien in the future?
CARTER: I think they're really disappointed not to get Conan. The
entertainment side is disappointed. They thought this was a golden
opportunity to get a big established star. They can't put a non-
established star in there now. And I think they're basically thinking it's
probably not going to happen for them. Late night may never happen for
them as a network show.
OLBERMANN: Bill Carter from Eugene, Oregon, where he's going to be at
the first Conan O'Brien comedy tour night. A big day for Conan O'Brien.
Great thanks, Bill, and enjoy the show.
CARTER: Thanks a lot, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this the 2,538th day since the
previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith
Olbermann, good night and good luck.
And now with the attorney general of Virginia scheduled to attend Tea
Party rallies and faith healing sessions, ladies and gentlemen, here to don
a protective tin foil hat on behalf of us all is Rachel Maddow. Good
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END