'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, April 19th, 2010
Video via MSNBC: Twitter Report and Oddball, Worst Persons
Video via YouTube: Tea Time
Guests: Austan Goolsbee, Chris Hayes, Markos Moulitsas, Jonathan Alter,
HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you
be talking about tomorrow?
Secret meeting: Senate Majority Leader Reid accuses Republican
leadership of holding a closed-door meeting with Wall Street executives
earlier this month. Reid demands Senators McConnell and Cornyn reveal what
secret deals and carve-outs Republicans are offering Wall Street.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: A far more efficient
way of proceeding is to just skip the character attacks on anyone who dares
point out the flaws with the bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Our special guest: White House chief economic adviser,
Who is running Sarah Palin? God is!
She tells an evangelical group, quote, "That is where god wants us to
be. Lest anyone try to convince you that God should be separated from the
state, our Founding Fathers, they were believers." That's probably why
separation of church of state was Jefferson's idea and why they put,
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" in the
Bill of Rights.
How's that holier than thouy proselytizy thing working out for you?
This Clinton for Supreme Court? This one? Both are too old - says
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I hope you'll appoint
someone who's reasonably young - someone with a chance to serve at least
25 years on the court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The latest theory that nominee is to spend those 25 years
butting heads with John Roberts.
Watching the tea party - our newest feature, "Tea Time." Nice video,
"National Review Online," those six African-Americans proved the tea
party's not at all racist. Six out of a crowd you claim was 25,000.
Rush Limbaugh wants a commemoration for David Koresh, Palin's PAC
spent nearly as much money on de-icing planes as contributing to
candidates, and 76 percent of Americans don't trust government. Our
special guest: Lewis Black.
All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good luck, the world is going to hell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
Republican leaders in the Senate insisting anew today they have the
votes to block the Wall Street reform bill, giving Democrats what they
think are two wonderful opportunities.
Our fifth story: if the Republicans are wrong, they pass the bill. If
the Republicans are right, they watch them filibuster on behalf of
America's oldest, most hated and most natural enemy on the choice of the
voters of America, that is - the vested big money interests.
The GOP is kicking off a possible implosion by handing Harry Reid the
opportunity to call them out today on a so-called "secret meeting" between
Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn and Wall Street fat cats.
A senior GOP leadership aide saying again today, the Republicans are
still united in their opposition to President Obama's Wall Street reform
bill, claiming to have the 41 votes they would need to keep the bill from
coming to a vote. The aides citing a letter that Minority Leader McConnell
send to Majority Leader Reid last week in which Senator McConnell did not
explicitly say that the Republicans would filibuster but maintained that
the votes were there to do so.
Among those votes - Senator Collins, whom the White House had been
hoping to win over. After a meeting with Treasury Secretary Geithner
today, the moderate Republican telling reporters, she wants to go to the
floor of the Senate with a bipartisan bill. And from the health care
debate, we all know what that is, a Republican bill they want the majority
Majority Leader Reid responding in a statement, saying that Senator
McConnell should come clean about that meeting he had with the Wall Street
executives earlier this month, taking John Cornyn of Texas with him, the
senator in charge of raising money for Republican Senate races.
The president, having criticized the senators for that meeting in his
weekly radio address, quoting Mr. Reid, "Since Republicans appear to be
conducting backroom negotiations with the same people who took our economy
to the brink of collapse, the public deserves to know what secret deals and
carve-outs Republicans are offering Wall Street executives in exchange for
Minority Leader McConnell himself having struggled to explain the
purpose of the meeting or what was discussed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: We sure didn't talk about blocking the bill. I don't know
anybody who's in favor of blocking this bill. I also met recently with the
Kentucky bankers who are also opposed to this bill, the community banks,
the little guys on Main Street.
We were talking about financial regulation as everyone in the country
is talking about it. Most of the people in New York supported the
president, the vast majority are on his side. They supported him during
the election, they still support him.
Is he saying we shouldn't sit down with his supporters and talk about
a bill that he thinks we ought to pass and that I think we ought to pass?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Today, on the floor of the Senate, the minority leader's
defense having morphed into - poor me, I am being attacked personally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: It seems to me that a far more efficient way of proceeding
is to just skip the character attacks on anyone who dares to point out the
flaws with the bill, be they provisions that expose taxpayers to Wall
Street bailouts or those that would further worsen the job situation, and
work out those problems now. Forget the theatrics and get to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: A bill that the president thinks ought to pass and that I
think we ought to pass - you heard Mr. McConnell say. But a reform bill
he is still planning to block.
Meanwhile, banking committee chair, Chris Dodd, the Democrats' point
man on Wall Street reform today, predicting that Republicans will not
follow through on the filibuster threat, especially in the wake of the
civil fraud charges that regulators filed last week against Goldman Sachs,
accusing that Wall Street powerhouse of defrauding investors by creating
and selling mortgage-backed securities that were secretly intended to fail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS DODD (D-CT), BANKING COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I don't really
believe Republican members want to be in a position where they're talking
about filibustering a bill that would allow us to address those issues, as
we do in our legislation. So, I'm going to work on the assumption that the
glass is half-full here, and that when we bring this bill up later this
week, that we'll have the votes across the board.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Thus, lots to talk about tonight with White House economic
adviser, Austan Goolsbee, chief economist on the president's Economic
Recovery Advisory Board and a member of the Council of Economic Advisers.
Good to see you. Thanks for coming in.
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: Good to see you,
OLBERMANN: While we watched the political fight over this bill, what
is in it that prevents the next Goldman Sachs?
GOOLSBEE: Well, prevents them from melting down.
GOOLSBEE: There are a lot of things, and a lot of those things are
really important. I mean, it ends too-big-to-fail, it drives me a little
nuts to keep hearing Mitch McConnell say that this is going to preserve -
that this is a bailout bill, because it's not. It specifically outlaws
No company that gets in trouble - they must fail. The only moneys
that are in there are paid by banks, not by taxpayers, and they are for
funeral expenses and hiring a guy to sell off the pieces. That's all that
can happen. You must be liquidated or broken into pieces and sold off.
I suppose that if I simply contacted the office of Mitch McConnell and
explained to them what was in the bill, that maybe they would reverse their
opinion. But - so, the first thing is, it outlaws bailouts.
GOOLSBEE: So you must fail if you - if you get to that point.
The second is, many of the things that made these companies, quote-
unquote, "too-big-to-fail," or at least we were too scared to let them go
under, centered around their ability to blow up all of their neighbors.
And the derivatives piece was one of the most important pieces of all. So,
when AIG gets in trouble, they say, but if we go under, all the
counterparties will go under, and their people doing business with them
will go under and you can't afford to do that.
So, the president made clear from the beginning that we're going to
end this - these dark pools of derivatives - that they've got to be
brought under control and out into the sunlight. And yet they're fighting
that. I mean, it's unbelievable.
OLBERMANN: And what is the one thing pertaining to what you just
referred to, a piece of politics in this. The White House has said that in
order to get some bipartisanship on this, it would be willing to throw that
$50 billion essentially superfund, banks bailing out - or providing the
cover for failing banks. In other words, if there were to be anything
resembling a bailout, that would be essentially handled by money that came
from the industry and so taxpayer money would not be directly involved.
Privatized bail outs, exactly what you'd want.
And yet that would be dismissed from this bill? Are you -
GOOLSBEE: What the argument is about, should you raise that money -
which, as you say, is coming from the banks themselves - should you raise
the money ahead of time or should you raise it at the time of the crisis.
So, with the TARP now - it's not going to cost $700 billion, it's down to
something like $90 billion, and the president has said, looking backwards,
let's have the banks pay for that $90 billion. They should clean up the
mess. It shouldn't go to the taxpayer.
We could follow that approach, and after these things go wrong, raise
the money then. So, there's some dispute of should it be what they call
the ex-ante fund or an after-the-fact fund. But the basic idea that there
if the law forbids bailouts, it couldn't be more clear. And yet, you
know, I think they just read the consultant talking point and, you know, it
doesn't matter what's in the bill.
OLBERMANN: Right. Crossed out health and put in bank reform.
GOOLSBEE: Yes. Just put it right in.
OLBERMANN: And to that point, though, from your level of economics
expertise, mixed in with your recent political experience, especially your
recent political experience of the last year and change, shouldn't economic
reform be fairly easy to sell? Should not - is this not a fairly black
and white issue? I mean, is it not - as I said in the lead-in, something
in the case that intuitively voters in this country have always understood
that government is supposed to protect them from business and not the other
GOOLSBEE: Well, look, I think you're absolutely right on the central
point that most people understand we've got to have a new regulatory system
because this one failed rather badly, and we still have 8 million-some
people out of work due to this recession that began in 2007, fueled by this
Now, the irony is, many of the banks themselves also believe that we
need to have financial reg reform and are in agreement on maybe 90 percent
of it. Ultimately, I'm an optimist, that there is going to be a bipartisan
bill, and that bipartisanship is not going to be of the form - hey, let's
agree to put in a whole bunch of loopholes and gut the laws that we know we
I think, in the end, it's going to come to a vote and there are going
to be a lot of Republicans and Democrats - they don't care what the
leadership says. They're going to look at the bill and they're going to
say, wait a minute. I'm for this. It doesn't matter what the leadership
are arguing about. We really need this and we've got to - I think we've
got to do this in the near term.
OLBERMANN: Wow. Let's hope so.
The White House economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee - as I said, great
pleasure to have you here.
GOOLSBEE: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Thank you for coming in.
For more on the politics of the Wall Street reform debate, let's turn
now to Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of "The Nation" magazine.
Chris, good evening.
CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: What Senator Dodd said today, about daring Republicans to
block reform - that just plays off to something what I just asked Dr.
Goolsbee. Does - is there a scenario in which the Republicans can spin
this enough that they really want to be on the side of Wall Street in the
Wall Street versus Main Street debate?
HAYES: Well, they don't be. And actually, you're seeing McConnell -
I mean, that clip you played earlier of him being extremely defensive
about, "Of course, I don't want to block the bill. No one wants to block
the bill." Contrast that to the way the Republicans were essentially
chanting "kill the bill" with health care. They're clearly in a far more
What they want to try to do, I think, is shoot the moon, which is
basically simultaneously defend the interests of Wall Street, while saying
that what they're doing is attacking the interests of Wall Street. So, the
thing they're going to try to do, which they often try to do, is
essentially just redefine everything and convince both the press and the
public at large that, really, what they're doing is standing up for Main
Street while they're explicitly doing the bank's bidding.
OLBERMANN: And did we just hear - not to slight the amount of
content in what Dr. Goolsbee had to say - but did we not just hear the
kind of attitude that the Obama administration and indeed the Democrats in
the Senate and the House need to approach this with, that they have learned
from the health care reform debate namely, quote, you know, "This bailout
OLBERMANN: The end.
HAYES: Yes. No, I think that's incredibly important because the
bailout is the most toxic word in American political discourse for very
good reason. And I think that, you know, the Luntz memo that I talked
about last time I was on here, I mean, you know, he's on to something,
right? I mean, it really is a bad word. If people associate the bill with
that, it's going to be in trouble.
I think that saying the bill outlaws bailouts is incredibly important.
And I think that, you know, the other thing to learn from the health care
debate - one of the reasons that the Democrats are better positioned here
is because what killed the health care bill or what almost brought it down
was that the process dragged on for so long, people hated the process. In
this case, much of the process has happened essentially while health care
was happening. People weren't paying attention to it.
So, there's an opportunity to act quickly, and I think that imperative
is smart. And I think you're seeing the White House and the congressional
leadership understand they have to strike while the iron is hot, put the
Republicans on the defensive, push the bill, bring it to a vote and dare
them to filibuster.
OLBERMANN: As much as we see Mr. McConnell, and laugh at him stepping
on his bank roll, there is necessarily - even if it's one vote, there is
bipartisanship that's going to be needed in the Senate that was not needed
in the case of health care reform. Who is - is there a Republican that's
likely to do it? Is it Corker? Is it some return to Senator Collins? Or
what's going to be done to make that happen?
HAYES: Well, I think the people I talk to in the Senate say that
Corker has played a reasonably responsible role, and that's fairly
qualified because we have such a degraded standard to these sorts of things
these days. I think, you know, the four most likely votes are Corker and
Brown, because of the state he represents, and the two senators from Maine.
But part of the problem here is this infinite regress, right? Which
is that every Republican says, I want to vote for a bipartisan bill, but,
of course, they themselves define whether the bill is bipartisan or not.
And so, they're constantly pawning it off. Well, it's not bipartisan so I
won't vote for it.
But, of course, if you vote for it, it will be bipartisan.
OLBERMANN: Last point, the Goldman Sachs charges - does this make
any of this easier for the White House or for the leadership in the Senate?
HAYES: Yes. Of course, it does. I mean, I think - I think it sort
of focuses the attention the same way those outrageous rate hikes did,
right, when health care looked like it might be slinking towards the grave.
I mean, people are reminded that of just exactly the kind of breathtaking
sociopathic villainy of the banks - which really I report on every day and
continue to be astounded by. So, yes, I think it does help the case.
OLBERMANN: Yes, it's nice to remember that whatever the business,
profits don't necessarily buy intelligence.
OLBERMANN: Chris Hayes of "The Nation," on Twitter and that subject
alone this time - thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Remember when Thomas Jefferson advocated separation of
church and state? He didn't really mean it. None of the Founding Fathers
You know who told me? Sarah Palin. You know who told her? God did.
OLBERMANN: She insists those Founding Fathers who invented separation
of church and state really didn't want separation of church and state.
Markos Moulitsas comments.
He says, and the secretary of the state and he are way too old for the
Supreme Court - this amid the new talk the nominee will be chosen for his
ability to pound Chief Justice Roberts over a period of 25 years.
Seventy-six percent of Americans don't trust the government, so he is
here and ready to take over for it.
And another day, another new deep end for them to go off. We premiere
a new feature. It's "Tea Time." Sadly, Art Fern has nothing to do with
this. Exit the Tancredo cut off, get out of your car, cut off your
Tancredo, then get back into your car and watch the rest of Countdown -
OLBERMANN: FOX News fill-in host, Sarah Palin, has revealed that she
does not want to overturn the U.S. government with a revolution. She just
wants to undo the first revolution.
Our fourth story tonight: Palin wants America to return to the way it
used to be in 1775 - which might explain why a new poll finds that the
libertarian constitutionalist half of the tea party wants nothing to do
"Politico" did an exit poll at last week's Tax Day tea party in
Washington, finding the group united in distrust of the government split
into two wings: 53 percent of them, the Ron Paul wing that wants to limit
government involvement in daily life. It said it would never consider
voting for Palin. Then there's the Sarah Palin wing that both distrusted
government and wants government to get involved in everybody's life and
promote traditional values.
Palin spoke at an evangelical conference, attacking one of the
traditional values in which the nation was founded. "Lest anyone try to
convince you that God should be separated from the state, our Founding
Fathers, they were believers."
Funny they didn't mention it in the Constitution. Quote, "No
religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."
Thomas Jefferson, quote, "The legitimate powers of government extend
to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for
my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no god."
A believer? Quote, "The day will come when the mystical generation of
Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be
classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of
She also has complained about President Obama's outreach to Muslims.
"Hearing any leader," she said, "declared that America isn't a Christian
nation, it is mindboggling."
Not to the founders. President John Adams, of course, signed the
Treaty of Tripoli, his outreach to Muslims. Quote, "The government of the
United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian
religion." That was ratified by the United States Senate without debate
unanimously in 1797.
"Don't be discouraged," she said, "by the mocking of those who claim
to want - want to claim we just cling to our religion. I'm the first to
admit, yes, I do cling to my faith. That's all I've got."
Jefferson said, "Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against
unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act
upon them. And the man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the
mere abracadabra of the Mountebanks calming themselves the priests of
On that note, let's bring Markos Moulitsas - see if he can follow
that - founder and publisher of "Daily Kos" and author of "Taking on the
System: Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era."
Markos, good evening.
MARKOS MOULITSAS, DAILYKOS.COM: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: A potential Republican frontrunner explicitly calls for an
end to separation of church and state. Is this not exactly what Jefferson
and Adams and Washington were fighting against?
MOULITSAS: Well, clearly, those guys were elitist.
MOULITSAS: But probably arugula left.
MOULITSAS: I mean, clearly.
You know, you can't expect Sarah Palin to actually read her history of
the founding of America. And it might be too much to ask her to actually
read the U.S. Constitution and see that, you know, like you just mentioned,
religion is only mentioned in two places.
But all she has to do is look at this first sentence where it says,
we, the people. I mean, she should read the first sentence. We, the
And that basically - that states where the authority of the United
States of America is vested in. It's vested in us, the people. Not in a
higher power, not in God, not in a Christian God, in we, the people.
And for Palin to go around claiming that - essentially, putting words
in the mouths of the Founding Fathers is quite insulting, I think, to the
very history of our nation's founding.
OLBERMANN: Well, not if George Washington was a communist.
How did these - with this fascinating "Politico" exit poll
identifying the Paulite tea partiers and the Palinite tea partiers as
basically two totally separate groups, how do the Palinites reconcile this
distrust of government and this smaller government idea with this
simultaneous desire to grow government so it promotes tradition at values?
Wouldn't it just be the similar size government just doing different
MOULITSAS: Yes. You know, bottom line is that they're not in -
they're not in for smaller government, they want their government that
reflects their beliefs. So, you know, under Bush, I mean, government grew
greatly. He had - started illegal wars without justification. He spied
on Americans without court order - all these great, you know, huge,
horrible things, expanding the scope of government.
You know, there were no tea baggers then. They didn't care because
they actually liked that kind of government. So, it's not bigger
government that they're against. They're against Democratic government.
They're anti-Democratic and I say that as in big "D" Democratic, as in the
Democratic Party and in the small "D," with basically disrespect for
democracy in this nation.
I mean, this is what the people voted for. It's one thing to oppose
it on policy. It's another thing to use a kind of exterminationist,
eliminationist rhetoric that they're using in appealing to violence and
that sort of thing.
OLBERMANN: Yes, like this sort of thing. This is a slight tangent
here, but it's apropos - the statehouse in Arizona this afternoon approved
attaching this amendment to a piece of extant legislation, and this would
now demand that anybody who's running for president in Arizona has to show
their birth certificate to officials in Arizona. And apart from the fact
that the Arizona house just made themselves look like a bunch of clowns,
you can't pass a state law about eligibility for a federal election, can
MOULITSAS: No. Obviously, they can't. And they're making a mockery
of the system, of course.
You know, John McCain would not have passed that test. He was not
born in the United States of America.
OLBERMANN: And last point, back to our -
MOULITSAS: And that's not a conspiracy theory, Keith. He was
actually born in Panama. Yes.
OLBERMANN: It's on the records. And, unfortunately, there's no way
to hide that at this point. But last point back to our Palinites and
Paulites discussion, that has to be a clash at some point, doesn't it?
What happens then?
MOULITSAS: Oh, right now, they have a common enemy, you know? So,
they can both focus on Barack Obama's Kenyan birth certificate and I think
that's good enough for them. They're out of power. They don't have
control of legislation.
So, really, there - it doesn't have to be a clash at this point.
They can sort of continue to be united in opposition. Now, if they were to
take power, I think all hell breaks loose. But that's a whole different
story, and hopefully, it's not one that we'll have to talk about for some
OLBERMANN: Yes, if they take power, all hell breaks loose anyway.
OLBERMANN: Markos Moulitsas of "Daily Kos" - as always, thanks for
MOULITSAS: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: If you're a judge or lawyer and you were born on not
January 27th, 1955, and your viewpoint is opposite that of Chief Justice
John Roberts on - well, everything, the White House may want you for the
Supreme Court. This does not describe our special guest, Lewis Black.
OLBERMANN: The secret role of the next Supreme Court nominee to be
the foil for decades for Chief Justice Roberts. Next with Jon Alter.
First, the Twitter report from me @KeithOlbermann: day 12, followers,
46,000. Tweetists met over the weekend: @straightedgeracer, that would be
pitcher C.J. Wilson of the Texas Rangers. Number of photos of self-tweeted
over the weekend: just the one.
Incoming tweet of the day from @MadCreative: "Go with the flow and
turn your transatlantic flight delays into volcations. Be creative ad make
the best of it."
Bring marshmallows. Stick them out at plane window.
Let's play "Oddball."
OLBERMANN: We begin with a recent crime spree off the coast of
Willington, New Zealand, a diver, Victor Wang, encountered this octopus
capturing it all in his new digital camera. The eight-legged perp admiring
Mr. Wang's shiny toy grabbed it with one tentacle and took off, recording
the crime as it happened.
Mr. Wang pursued the underwater outlaw for five minutes before he is
able to grab his camera back. Mr. Wang said the experience was amazing
until he remembered he'd just been mugged by an octopus. Armed and
dangerous, armed and armed and armed and armed and armed and armed
To Beijing, why did the robot cross the road? Because he's a
communist. Turn rush hour into a day-long event, courtesy of robot
rickshaw. As you inch along busy streets, the robot announces your arrival
with clanging symbols and creepy facial expressions. Mr. Woo says his goal
is to invent practical uses for robots, so in other words, he's not
In Zurich, the annual (inaudible) festival where costumes are warn,
merriment is made and a wooden snowman is set ablaze atop of giant stack of
burning straw. I see where this is headed. The quicker the snowman's head
explodes , the better the summer will be. Judging by the looks of those
plains, it's going to be pretty awesome this summer. Nothing better than
sanitized, deep horrified echoes of human sacrifice.
Danger on Tiki Island, you say? Bad news, Chief Justice John Roberts,
it looks like the White House is hoping to nominate to the court your not
evil twin. Next.
OLBERMANN: While the obsession with President Obama's next Supreme
Court nominee tends to be focused on whether he or she will be liberal
enough or too liberal, in our the third story tonight, the president's
chief objective may be both more subtle and far more important.
Choosing a justice who has the intellectual clarity to spend a couple
decades counterbalancing offsetting or just plain pushing back against the
increasingly activist court of Chief Justice John Roberts and the advice
from former President Bill Clinton? Pick somebody young. Former president
first telling NBC's Luke Russert that President Obama should choose someone
he can be proud of decades hence.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope he'll
appoint someone who's reasonably young, someone with a chance to serve at
least 25 years on the court. I think that's important. But I think he
also needs to consider what do these people know? And when they're in a
room talking about a case, not just are they liberal or conservative, some
kind of real world experience different from the other members of the
OLBERMANN (voice-over): President Clinton also indicated that his
wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not interested, as was he was
not as well. As for the relatively young Chief Justice Roberts, his
activism is now reportedly clear to President Obama particularly in the
wake of the wildly pro-corporate Citizens United case.
The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy telling
the "New York Times," quote, "the president is very concerned about the
activism on the court in recent terms. He wants to make sure to put
somebody on there who is not going to take radical steps like that."
But defenders of the chief justice according to the "Times" say he has
upheld a textual analysis of the constitution, according to the friend of
Roberts, Shannon Colfin, former counsel to Vice-President Cheney, the
president is willing to attack the Supreme Court in a calculated political
manner. The evidence for that claim apparently not offered with the
President Obama's central policy victory to date, health care reform
almost certain to land on the Supreme Court's doorstep. Just last week
Justice Breyer predicted the moment would arrive within three or four
OLBERMANN: To talk about the court and this idea of an anti-Roberts,
let's bring in "Newsweek" magazine national affairs columnist and MSNBC
political analyst, Jonathan Alter and also author of "The Promise" which
will be released next month.
Jon, good evening.
JONATHAN ALTER, NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Is there - this growing recognition you really have to
have a counterweight to Justice Roberts? And what sort of person is that?
ALTER: Well, they want somebody who can go toe to toe with him over
time. There's two ways to go with this. By the way, the president as I
understand has not made up his mind. Somebody who says the contrary isn't
in touch with what's going on in there so it's very open right now.
There is the possibility of some wild card, dark horse candidates.
The ones people have been talking about mostly are Merrick Garland, who's
on the D.C. circuit, Diane Wood from Chicago, judge from Chicago that
Obama's known for a long time. Janet Napolitano, head of Department of
Homeland Security, and Elena Kagan.
Those are the four frontrunners right now. But what he wants is
somebody who can get to five. What that means is not somebody who's just
going to kind of posture for liberal ideas or in defense of the little guy,
which is his main criteria in this appointment as he's told aides, but
somebody who can politic on the court, build coalitions.
Instead of being the champion of the four in minority, in the
minority, to get Justice Kennedy, who is the swing vote, so they can
actually win some for more progressive causes. So I think what he's
looking for is he wants somebody who's a champion of trying to even the
scales economically, because he feels that the court is tilted toward the
powerful right now. That's the first criteria. And the second is, can he
or she build coalitions.
OLBERMANN: Both of those seem to describe somebody who might not
necessarily be the most liberal. To take one of the conservative justice
as side and say here's where Roberts is wrong, you don't necessarily want a
flame thrower for that, correct?
ALTER: Well, you might not want somebody who's stylistic flame
thrower, but he's been very clear that he wants somebody who is
economically very progressive. That he thinks that - not just the
Citizens United case, but a series of others, that the court is siding on
behalf of the powerful. That's why he voted against Chief Justice Roberts
when he was in the Senate.
Because Roberts claimed to him that he was against bullies, but when
he - when Senator Obama reviewed Roberts' decisions, he saw that time
after time after time he was siding with the powerful. So he wants
somebody to redress this. And there are some other candidates out there.
Elizabeth Warren, who I believe has been a guest on this program a few
times, she's, you know, a professor at Harvard law school, an expert in
some of these business areas that make up a lot of the cases before the
court. She has a very interesting story, she came from nothing. Her
father was a janitor. She's got a very interesting human story. And as I
understand it, she's a potential dark horse. So there are some other
people who might end up on this list.
OLBERMANN: Does this idea of the anti-Roberts, or the anti-matter
matter here fit into the current political climate in any way? Or does it
not matter because it - they could nominate a Republican and the GOP would
somehow find a way to argue against it?
ALTER: I think that's - it's really the latter. I mean, they cannot
try to pander or appease Republicans. They're going to object, and, you
know, it will come down to a majority vote. It's - I don't think it's
likely that the Republicans are going to filibuster. And also, if there is
a fight over this over the summer, everybody's saying it's a bad thing for
I think it's a good thing for him to have a fight that doesn't go on
too long, rallies the base, tells Obama supporters from 2008 that their
president is in there fighting for them, and the Republicans are going to
object no matter what happens.
OLBERMANN: Plus, if he's already gotten financial reform in there, it
will be a 3-0 record going into the midterm.
ALTER: Right, that's right.
OLBERMANN: Jon Alter, author of "The Promise." Congratulations on
that and great thanks for coming in.
ALTER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Seventy six percent of Americans distrust the government
and 70 percent think it will be a great place to work. Who better than
Louis Black to scream about that?
Worst on the day the victims of Oklahoma City, I remembered, Limbaugh
wants a memorial to David Koresh.
And at the top of the hour, an MSNBC premier, "The McVeigh Tapes,"
confessions of an American terrorist narrated by Rachel Maddow. Never-
before-heard conversations with Timothy McVeigh on this, the 15th
anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.
OLBERMANN: Rush Limbaugh calls for a national memorial for David
Koresh's anti-government cult, but first, our new feature, get out your
crumpets, it's Tea Time. Let's start by congratulating the National Review
Online, which is posted a five-minute video designed to refute charges by
me and others at the Tea Party Movement is a virtually all white operation.
The video shot at last week's Washington, D.C., tax day event featured
interviewed with six actual black people. Organizers of last week's
Washington D.C. tax day event claimed attendance of 25,000. Those six
people would thus represent 0.0002 percent. So, thanks to the National
Review Online for proving my point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN (voice-over): This video is from a weekend event in
Greenville, South Carolina. This is a speaker asking an elected
representative, quote, "why are you trying to sell out your countrymen and
I need to make sure you being gay isn't it," unquote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That was the most reasoned part of discourse. Ex-
Congressman Tom Tancredo was the keynote speaker, Tancredo who we last
heard telling the National Group that Barack Obama was voted in by people
who couldn't spell vote in English, now said of the president of the United
States. Remember the startling reality in 2007. Tom Tancredo thought he
could be the president of the United States.
If his wife says Kenya is his homeland, why don't we just send him
back? God help any lawyer who would have to defend Tom Tancredo at a
sanity hearing. That wasn't the low light. A speaker announced he had
been trained to defend the liberties of this nation. He said he was
prepared to, quote, "suit up, get my gun, go to Washington and do what they
trained me to do."
The man who was trying to incite armed insurrection against
representatives of the U.S. government and the government itself and was
making threats of violence against unspecified individuals is named Stan
Craig. Stan Craig is the pastor of the Choice Hills Baptist Church in
It's simply beyond my ability to explain how they might have any kind
of religion-based tax exemption or how he could mistake those voices in his
head for that of God's.
OLBERMANN: The great Lewis Black joins me next, but first tonight's
Worst persons in the world. An online service of some kind announcing it's
going to cross over to cable, on television through partners including
Comcast, Rightnetwork delivers programming on demand that enables our
audience to watch what they want when they want.
Kelsey Grammer is the face of the outfit so I want to assume there's a
lot of on demand shows about babysitters. The problem is Comcast, which is
seeking approval to buy 51 percent of NBC and thus controlling interest in
this network doesn't have a damn thing to do with Rightnetwork.
The head of one of its subsidiaries apparently has some of his own
money in the thing so Rightnetwork starts by lying about who's backing it.
A Comcast spokeswoman said, quote, "we have no partnership with this
venture and have no plans to launch or distribute the network.
Sister Sarah bendy straws" Palin, reporting by ABC and
politicsdaily.com on her filings with the FEC provides a startling
breakdown on her Political Action Committee. Sarah PAC raised $400,000 in
the first quarter of 2010. It donated only $7500 to actual candidates,
$2,000 to other PACs, nothing to the 20 Republican candidates in the races.
And she said she was, quote, "targeting." Where's the rest? Plus the
half a mil she had in the bank at the start of the year? $243,000 to
consultants, $11,000 to photography, $31,000 to generalized travel, $3400
for one stay at a hotel in New York, $7300 went to de-icing private planes.
Sarah PAC spent $200 more on donations to candidates than it did on
de-icing the wings on Mylady's jet. What we're seeing here is the
outskirts of the greatest political financial scam in decades. Sarah Palin
is not a candidate, leader or role model.
But our winner, Rush H. Limbaugh, whom today asked why amid the
memorials and anniversaries for the dead of Oklahoma City, quote, "were
there any anniversary ceremonies for the Waco invasion? Have with had any
anniversary ceremonies for the invasions of Waco by Janet Reno and U.S.
military tanks 17 years ago?"
Let me ask you a question, what was the more likely cause of the
Oklahoma City bombing talk radio or Bill Clinton and Janet Reno's hands on
management of Waco, the branch committee and compound and maybe to a lesser
extent Ruby Ridge? Well, obviously the answer is talk radio. Specifically
Rush Limbaugh's hate radio, which encourage people as he encourages people
today to view the child molester, David Koresh, and the Branch Davidians as
innocent victims of what he calls an invasion by U.S. military tanks. This
is an exact parallel to the paranoia that Limbaugh stokes daily among those
who feel themselves invaded by the U.S. government today. Limbaugh claimed
others would have blood on their hands in the event of future right wing
Frankly, Rush, you have that blood on your hands now and you have had
it for 15 years. Limbaugh, today's worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: According to the new Pew Research poll released today, 76
percent of Americans distrust the government, but 56 percent would like to
see their kids have a career in government and 70 percent think government
is a good place to work.
In our number one story, maybe Lewis Black can explain that slight
disconnect. First, the Pew Research gathered during March and April, a
total of 2500 surveyed, 76 percent of American say they distrust the
federal government, just 22 percent are trusting souls. A figure that is
actually up five points from the 17 percent who trusted the government in a
poll in October 2008 done by CBS and "NewYork Times."
Then there is a financial paradox in the Pew numbers, 40 percent of
the public think it's a good idea for the federal government to exert more
control over economy, unless economy means banks. Sixty one percent want
the government to strictly regulate the way major financial companies do
Who better to help us focus on the confused anger coming out of this
poll numbers than Louis Black who brings us his latest show "In God We
Rust" in this direction, April 22nd through the 24th. Good to see you.
LEWIS BLACK, COMEDIAN: Good to see you.
OLBERMANN: No government intrusion in the economy, more regulations
on the banks. Makes sense to me, right?
BLACK: It's perfect. Everything makes sense now, because everything
we've reached - we're almost, as you and I talked about, we're brushing up
against complete insanity. So it's just like, yes and no. Why not? I
think the economy means to people, you know, like the daily stuff, and
banks means Wall Street. So they're two different things. The Dow Jones
to the guy on the street is not the economy.
OLBERMANN: It's a nice number, but oh, good it's up, I guess it means
the banks will take less money out of my pocket.
BLACK: Yes, I have never - I am now in a position where I actually
have, you know, stocks and I still have no concept - I don't know - I've
listened to what derivatives are. I think if you just listen to an
economist talk about what derivatives are, you lose a portion of your
OLBERMANN: Don't you - when you buy a stock, don't you feel like
somebody ought to be delivering something to you? You used to get a nicely
printed piece of paper that says, you own one share, right?
BLACK: I actually have - it was from when my parents bought stock
when I was a child and I have, it's like some electrical company that
probably doesn't exist anymore.
OLBERMANN: The Indianapolis urban railways and Kaiser Motors and
other great stocks.
BLACK: It's something you can put up on the wall.
OLBERMANN: Right. This government trust issue, this low point with
17 percent 2008, 1994, the high point was 80 percent in 1966, which is of
course the beginning of the real escalation of Vietnam, we're a year away
from the society standing on its head and we're six years away from the
Watergate break-in and that was the high point? How was 1966 for you?
BLACK: Spectacularly, it was a great year, because it's the year I
graduated high school.
BLACK: How good is that? And we did believe it and we were happy and
I pledged the allegiance and I thought it was all going to work out and it
was going to be great.
OLBERMANN: When I was 10 years old I went to a World Series game for
the first time. We went through the Times Square subway station and got
run over by hell, no, we won't go protesters and I went, I'm really
confused, and it hasn't stopped since. It's been 41 years now.
BLACK: Literally within a year, it was like somebody took my head and
just twisted it.
OLBERMANN: Well, OK, that explains a lot, as my anchor for 41 years
explains a lot. The definition of terms, we just hit on this. We should
have a poll that asks people, who do you think this word means, before we
ask them in the poll.
But here's these, you know, another set of Tea Party protesters,
they're now meeting daily somewhere, because they all know each other,
because there's 2,000 of them. But they're out on the mall today in
Washington, they're angry, you have been known to be angry, yet you were
not out on the mall with them. I'm confused.
BLACK: No, I am - I don't generally like to hang out with groups
that are mostly white. That's part of it. My - and that came from my
mother who said, when I was a cub scout, I don't know if you went through
that, and then I said, I want to be a boy scout and she said, no way. She
said, enough's enough.
OLBERMANN: Because it was -
BLACK: Because, she said mainly because she said I don't want you to
ever wear another uniform again.
OLBERMANN: A little training ground.
BLACK: You don't look good in it.
OLBERMANN: You saw that video that the National Review put out to
disprove my point on this issue, it had six black people in it. There you
BLACK: But that's not enough for me.
OLBERMANN: Really? OK.
BLACK: I need more of a mix. It's unbelievable.
OLBERMANN: I know. I know. And why - how do people rationalize
these things? I'm beginning to think the older I get the more I begin to
believe the essence of life is how well you can be as yourself, never mind
anybody else. Right?
BLACK: But it's really extraordinary, to them, that represents this
whole other group who just can't make it out of the house for some reason.
OLBERMANN: I'm busy. I'm sorry.
BLACK: I'd love to be there with all you white people but I've got
stuff to do. You know, what's amazing is how - you know, they keep
talking about the fact these people have jobs.
OLBERMANN: Three hours off in the middle of the day.
BLACK: It's an extraordinary - my problem, to be honest, it's like
the Democrats, the Republicans, the Democrats try to tell me stuff, I don't
know what they're talking about. I don't really know what they're trying
to tell me. I don't know what the Republicans are trying to tell me. And
I really don't know what the Tea Parties are trying to tell me. You say
less government. What does that mean? Less firemen?
OLBERMANN: How are you getting home from here, on the nonsubway or
the nonstreets and what about the nonpolice who will nonbeprotecting you?
BLACK: Yes, and less taxes? Which to me means, there will be a bake
sale for everything? You know?
OLBERMANN: Go out here and look at the potholes out here and tell me
about cutting taxes. I might as well take the money and stuff it into
those holes. I'm sorry to make the last joke but we're out of time. Lewis
BLACK: It was a good one.
OLBERMANN: Thank you. This Thursday, Friday and Saturday, at the
City Center, New York, which is a great place to be in the audience or on
the stage. Best of luck with it and great to see you.
BLACK: Good to you see you.
OLBERMANN: That's "Countdown" for this 2545th day since the previous
president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. Up next, Rachel Maddow
and the MSNBC premiere of "The McVeigh Tapes, confessions of an American
Terrorist." I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED. END