'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, May 24 2010
Video via MSNBC: Twitter Report, Oddball, Tea Time, Worst Persons
The toss: Honorary geek
Guests: Rick Steiner, Chris Kofinis, Thomas Frank, Dave Weigel
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you
be talking about tomorrow?
Why is B.P. still in charge? The dispersants banned as of yesterday
are still being used today. The so-called top kill to plug the rupture,
supposedly imminent last week, postponed again. And B.P.'s CEO can't even
be sure of the work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY HAYWARD, CEO, BRITISH PETROLEUM: We need to be realistic about
the issues around operating in a mile of water. We rate the probability of
success of somewhere between 60 percent and 70 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Why is that man in charge instead of in jail?
And what is the administration waiting for?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We are going to stay
on this and stay on B.P. until this gets done and it gets done the right
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: This is Countdown, for this, the 34th day since the
Deepwater Horizon oil spill began.
He's still talking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: I need to be very careful
about going on certain networks that seem to have a bias, you know, because
it really wasn't the interview so much that was unfair, the interview, I
think, was very fair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But the embattled nominee for the Senate from Kentucky
gets support from a clearheaded defender of reality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: You know, they're looking
for that "got you" moment and that's what it evidently appears to be that
they did with Rand Paul. But I'm thankful that he was able to clarify his
answer about his support for the Civil Rights Act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Her "got you" moment again provided by her own father. "I
don't want to push the wrong button with Sarah. Besides, she doesn't make
the decisions. Let me retract that. I'm sure she thinks them over and she
has a lot of say as to yes and no."
Who has more say as to the decisions she doesn't make?
What has Brown done for you lately? Tea party patriots mutiny against
the junior senator from Massachusetts. "The general mood of the tea party
is," says an executive, "we put you in and we'll take you out in 2012."
And the "fixed news" solution for the Gulf?
(BEGIN VIDEO CIP)
BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST (via telephone): I thought that they -
basically in the very beginning - should stuff every member of NBC News in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: OK, I've got 48 minutes to hit that softball.
All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
B.P. is not yet capping its oil spill, nor its release of toxic oil
dispersants even after the government ordered it to. And the government is
not capping as it promised the flow of new permits for new drilling.
Our fifth story tonight: No one seems capable of doing one damn thing.
Last Wednesday, the EPA gave B.P. 24 hours to identify and 72 hours
more to start using a less toxic chemical for dispersing oil than the one
it was using called Corexit. Those deadlines came and went and still the
"The New York times" reports today that B.P. is still spraying the
stuff, banned in Britain 10 years ago, into the Gulf of Mexico, 7,000
gallons so far. The EPA responding today by telling to B.P. to stuff? No,
just scale it back.
B.P. disputing the EPA's toxicity tests and claiming it is still
looking at alternatives. At the same time admitting it literally does not
even know whether the dispersants help biodegrade the oil, B.P. announcing
half a billion dollars to fund research on the environmental impact of the
spill and the dispersants - research to answer questions including quoting
B.P., "What is the impact of dispersant on the oil? Does it help or hinder
Even as "The Times" reported that his own administration has not
fulfilled his pledge to stop issuing permits for the offshore rigs,
President Obama today held a conference call with Gulf Coast governors,
dispatched Nobel Prize-winning energy secretary, Steven Chu, to Houston to
brainstorm solutions; and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano with
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to survey the damage by air.
But any impression of a coordinated executive response was likely
undermined today after Secretary Salazar's weekend claim that the
government would push B.P. out of the way if - well, the "if" was not so
clear. It was followed up today by the response coordinator, Coast Guard
commandant, Thad Allen, who told reporters, quote, "to push B.P. out of the
way, it would raise the question: to replace with them with what?"
B.P. announcing today yet another delay in implementing yet another
attempt to cap the gushing well, the so-called "top kill" method of
smothering the flow under even heavier drilling fluid and then concrete.
That will not come until Wednesday now at the earliest.
Doug Suttles, B.P.'s chief operating officer for exploration and
production, telling "The Today Show" his confidence in its success is a six
or seven out of 10. And as new pictures come in of marshland wild life
smothered in oil, including pelicans just removed from the endangered
species' list six months ago, damaged over an estimated 65 miles of
shoreline affected so far, Mr. Suttles was pressured to respond to B.P. CEO
Tony Hayward's claim that the environmental impact will be quote, "very,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG SUTTLES, B.P. COO FOR EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION: It already has
been and will be quite significant to the people who live here. I mean,
there are people who are not doing their normal jobs. There are people who
are scared about what the future is. And that is significant. It is very,
MATT LAUER, THE TODAY SHOW: So, you would disagree with your
company's CEO on that?
SUTTLES: I think - I think Tony is actually showing his commitment
to this by what he's doing, by what we're actually doing to fight this
thing. And I don't think he thinks this is insignificant. I don't. I
know the 23,000 people out there don't, either. So, we're not treating it
LAUER: I'm not trying to create an internal dispute here, but just
one more time, do you think the impact is going to be very, very modest?
SUTTLES: You know, Matt, it won't be very modest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Democrats have asked the Justice Department to determine
whether B.P. has misled Congress or the public in this process. Yesterday,
White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said the DOJ has sent people to
the scene - a scene more and more people now consider a crime scene.
We're joined now by MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman, also, of
course, senior Washington correspondent for "Newsweek."
Good evening, Howard.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: President Obama's EPA ordered last week that B.P. should
stop using the toxic oil dispersant and essentially B.P. said no. So today
the EPA says, well, then, you have to use less of it.
It is bad enough that B.P.'s still running this repair, which is like
having Jack the Ripper try to save the victim and run the murder
investigation. Isn't anybody at the White House worried that it now looks
like B.P. is running the White House?
FINEMAN: Keith, I spent a lot of time in the last few hours talking
to friends and sources in Louisiana. And certainly from that perspective,
they think that the White House just doesn't get it. Donna Brazil, whom
you may know, an African-American woman, a staunch Democrat and consultant,
supporter of Barack Obama, but also a Louisianan. I just talked to her a
little while ago, and she said, "Howard, where is the fierce urgency of
You don't put a lot of political spin doctors out there on the cable
networks, you know, you get the Navy, you get the Corps of Engineers, you
get the president on the front lines. I don't think they quite get it. I
just don't think they quite get it at the White House, Keith. Certainly,
that's the view from the Gulf Coast.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Are there no marine geologists available in this
country? Is the Navy on vacation this month? I mean, if you throw out a
crazy idea, it's better than being done - what's being done now, and more
importantly, why is the interior secretary saying on Sunday that they might
push B.P. aside if the response coordinator is the next day, today, going
to say we have nothing to replace them with?
FINEMAN: Yes. I think there's a sense, again, looking at it from the
perspective of the people I talked to down in the region, and observers
generally - what "The New York Times" is reporting and others - there's a
sense of a sort of lack of focus and coordination here.
This is every bit as big a catastrophe in its own way as Katrina was.
If you look at Katrina, it hit New Orleans, you know, really destroyed a
lot of the old life of the African-American community in New Orleans. This
thing, if you look at it culturally, Keith, it's destroying what's left of
the way of life along the Gulf Coast. The shrimp - the shrimp industry,
you know, the coastline, the marshes, you name it - a lot of it
irreversible over a long period of time.
This needs the president, this needs the chief of staff. This should
be Rahm Emanuel, this should be the people who run things and coordinate
things at the front lines, and you don't get that sense - at least the
people down there don't.
OLBERMANN: And more particularly, when they have made statements that
this is now going to lead to a specific action and they don't do it - I
mean, how is it that the administration cannot stop issuing oil permits
after the secretary of the interior says it's going to stop issuing these
permits and the president says it's going to stop issuing these permits?
FINEMAN: Well, here's -
OLBERMANN: Is there a practical concern that the president and the
secretary of the interior didn't know about?
FINEMAN: Well, I think they weren't paying close attention to the
department when the president announced in April he was going to greatly
expand offshore drilling. There were tremendous problems in the minerals
and mining management part of the Interior Department that they probably
didn't look at closely enough. In fairness to Salazar, he talked about
those but hadn't really changed things.
There's a foreign policy and diplomatic aspect of this. You want to
increase, you know, production of the United States.
But, Keith, let's say there's 15 - let's make a wild guess, say
there's 15 million barrels of oil that have leaked so far. That's a big
estimate but maybe that's it. That's less than one day's worth of use of
oil in the United States.
Here's the question: Do we want one day's worth of oil in exchange for
destroying perhaps, you know, 200 miles of coastline in the Gulf Coast and
the way of life for millions of people? That's a question they have to ask
themselves at the administration and I don't think they've asked themselves
OLBERMANN: And viscerally and purely politically, how many times are
we going to hear that the president is preparing to get angry, and how
angry he's going to get before we actually hear that the president is
actually angry enough to do something, angry enough to be there, angry
enough to - I don't know, issue arrest warrants?
FINEMAN: Well, here's my rule of thumb. Once Keith Olbermann begins
counting the number of days after something started, as you just did at the
top of the show, is probably ready for them to get the fierce urgency of
The people I talked to down there say, you know, on a scale of one to
1- with 10 being an all-out effort and one being nothing, they're at about
a six down there. They're about a six and we didn't elect - you know,
Barack Obama criticized George Bush for his inattention to the role of
government. Barack Obama has to remember that, because he's being judged
by a much higher standard now.
OLBERMANN: Ordinarily I'd be flattered by what you said but it just
scares the crap out of me that it might be one/one thousandth of a percent,
literal rather than a joke, that it's out of hand.
OLBERMANN: MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman, also of
"Newsweek" - as always, thanks for your time.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let's turn to conservation consultant, Rick
Steiner. He's a marine biologist. He's been down to the Gulf Coast. He's
been studying this.
Mr. Steiner, thanks for your time tonight.
RICK STEINER, MARINE BIOLOGIST: Glad to be here. Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Tell me about the oil dispersant first off. It's refusing
to stop - B.P.'s not going to stop using this stuff while at the same time
it is funding the research into whether or not it works in terms of
biodegrading the oil. It sounds to a layman like the cart is well before
the horse on this, or at least was.
Does it sound like that way to you as an expert?
STEINER: Absolutely. Dispersants are one of the tools that can be
used in offshore response, as is burning. But the primary tool should be
mechanical recovery. The idea, the objective ought to be to get the oil
out of the environment, not to disperse it more, generally, broadly, into
Dispersants basically break the oil into smaller droplets, push it
down into the water column from the surface, reducing impact perhaps to the
surface, but exposing the upper water column to far more impact. I found
it amazing that B.P.'s response to the EPA and the Coast Guard basically
said, to their directive, to find the less toxic dispersant within three
days. They basically said, no, we're going to keep using Corexit 9500.
And in their letter, there were not only typo errors and factual
errors, but there was a significant omission and they identified a less
toxic, more effective dispersant, JD-2000, that should be used here if they
had it. But they don't. So, yes, it's a real calamity, certainly, going
Let me also just say that Tony Hayward's statement about this oil
spill only going to cause a very, very modest damage is one of the most
arrogant and ignore rant statements I have ever heard a corporate CEO say
in the midst of a crisis like this. It's astonishing.
OLBERMANN: Yes, it's along the line of the White Star Lines and the
manufacturers of the "Titanic" saying it's unsinkable but saying it as it's
sinking. I mean, they at least had the benefit of the doubt of making that
prediction before the catastrophe. The catastrophe had already began by
the time he said that.
Is there a technical reason - is there any kind of biological reason
why B.P. would still be in charge, why you would choose letting the
murderer conduct the investigation here? Is there any particular reason
for that? Or is this just a bad call?
STEINER: That's probably a bad call - part of it's an artifact of
federal legislation passed after the Exxon Valdez 21 years ago.
But the big important thing right now is stopping the blowout,
obviously, number one priority. They need to have all the drilling
companies with offshore experience, and that includes Shell and Exxon and
Conoco - you know, all these companies there at the table, locked in this
room, figuring out what sorts of things might work. They certainly need to
try the containment chambers, the top hat, the riser insertion tube, and
the coming top kill or junk shot. All of that needs to be tried.
But the number one important, most important thing are get those
relief wells drilled into the top of the reservoir near where the existing
well stem comes out. That's the only relatively surefire way of stopping
this thing. And the Canadian government requires exploration rigs in the
Canadian Arctic to drill a relief well simultaneously to their exploration
So, guess what, if there's a blowout like this, they're already down
there, good to go, for a dynamic kill. So there are some things we can put
in place like that.
OLBERMANN: And lastly about the top kill thing or what Mr. Hayward
said about this today, that it's untested at this depth like everything
else is, is there chance that, given B.P. refuses to let anybody know
really how bad this is, making an independent assessment, can the top kill
make it worse? Could it worsen on its own from here?
The part of the well the pipe's under the Gulf floor, do we know about
the condition of that? Could that rupture separately? Could it have
already done so?
STEINER: The sub sea bed infrastructure could rupture from different
pressures on it and such and that actually happened in the other huge Gulf
of Mexico blowout in 1979, the Ixtoc, where they tried several kills and it
caused ruptures and the oil just started coming out in different places.
That could happen here.
It's difficult to imagine anything they could do in the short term
making it worse that be where it is right now because this is an enormous,
catastrophic discharge. They need to try everything, but they need to
expedite getting those relief wells down there.
OLBERMANN: Conservation consultant, marine biologist, Rick Steiner,
thanks for making some of this intelligible to us tonight.
STEINER: Pleased to. Thanks.
OLBERMANN: Rand Paul, Sarah Palin calls Rachel's interview with him
prejudiced. He calls it very fair, albeit it torture. And as the tea
party threatens to put up a candidate to unseat Scott Brown, another
bizarre revelation about Ms. Palin from her own father - this time, quote,
"I don't want to push the wrong button with Sarah. Besides, she doesn't
make the decisions."
Well, who does? Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
OLBERMANN: While the Sarah Palins of this world assault Rachel and
MSNBC for being prejudiced against Rand Paul, he admits the interview was
fair. What's the dif, in three months the tea party will be throwing him
under the bus, too, as they did just today with the junior senator from
Back to Sister Sarah, her father has anointed or has another
unexpected truth burp. "She doesn't make the decisions," immediately
retracts that to say she has some input in them. I don't know where that
word "anointed" came from.
And it's a tradition as old as time itself. He has been stolen.
Again, don't let that hair mislead you, that's not Conan O'Brien.
You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Another day, another pronouncement from Rand Paul. In
essence, gosh, laws would be superfluous if everybody were just Christian.
I see the Christianity and values as the basis of our society, he's told
David Brody and Pat Robertson on CBN. "Ninety-eight percent of us won't
murder people, won't steal, won't break the law and it helps the society to
have the religious underpinning. You still need to have the laws but I
think it helps to have a people who believe in law and order, and who have
a moral compass or a moral basis for their day to day life."
Our fourth story on the Countdown: And you thought the finale of
"Lost" was last night.
Dr. Paul, the Kentucky Republican Senate candidate bailed out on "Meet
the Press" but talked to local Louisville station WHAS. Reporter Joe
Arnold first complimented Paul for how he took over the interview with
ABC's George Stephanopoulos. The next subject: Paul's interview with our
own Rachel Maddow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Did you say yes? I think the question has to be asked: did
you say yes finally that you would have voted yes for the Civil Rights Act?
PAUL: Yes. Yes, in fact, I've said that several times. See, I was
never asked that. I went through a tortured 20 minutes on Rachel Maddow.
She never asked me that. That was never a direct question to me on there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And then the guy asked if he had a nice pair of
At which point, even that reporter suggested it might have been a good
idea if Paul simply said out and out but that he would have voted for the
Civil Rights Act. Dr. Paul admitted to making a mistake and tried to
portray the issue as a mere philosophical one. But later in the same
interview, Paul may have tripped upon the truth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I am more frank and open, and I think some people want that in
government. They want a new type of person to go to government that isn't
one of these people protecting layer on layer, and who will give a 20
minute interview and never say anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And they want a double coating of anti-glare.
Leading us to wonder if Paul's so-called philosophical issues with the
Civil Rights Act as stated in his interviews with NPR and with Rachel were
his more authentic and un-layered answers. Ultimately, the doctor gave
Rachel a pass.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: It really wasn't the interview so much that was unfair. The
interview I think was very fair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Very fair. Whereupon he was disagreed with by the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: One thing that we can learn in this lesson that I have learned
and Rand Paul is learning now, is don't assume that you can engage in a
hypothetical discussion about constitutional impacts with a reporter or a
media personality who has an agenda, who may be prejudiced before they even
get into the interview in regards to what your answer may be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: RNC chairman, Michael Steele, more blunt in characterizing
Paul's comments this weekend, quoting, "I think in this case, Rand Paul's
philosophy got in the way of reality." Though Steele later said that he,
quote, "can't condemn a person's view, that the voters of Kentucky would
decide how to judge Dr. Paul."
Let's turn to Democratic strategist, Chris Kofinis now.
Chris, good evening.
CHRIS KOFINIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: Clearly, you can run for national office and do 90 percent
or more of your interviews with people who are giving you a pass. Former
Governor Sarah Palin showed us that.
But can you do that for state office as Dr. Paul is attempting to? Is
everybody going to come compliment your selection of eyeglasses and your
great manipulation of the interviews away from George Stephanopoulos?
KOFINIS: In a competitive race, no, especially one I think that is as
high profile as this one was. So, it's just not realistic to believe that
you're going to get a pass. Nor should you expect that regardless.
And I think it actually is more of a statement to him as a candidate
and to his campaign that he wasn't ready to ask - to answer, rather, even
the easiest of questions. And I think that actually kind of raises an
important point, you know, going back to Rachel's interview with him and
some of the others. And the question I have is: why was he doing national
interviews to begin with? I mean, here's a state race, you would think, if
I was advising him, - let's focus on state media. That's where our
constituents are going to be focused on.
He was doing national press because he clearly wants to propagate his
national philosophy, his perspective on politics. That is what the tea
party is about. And if you're going to do that, you're playing a dangerous
game because you need to be prepared to answer the tough questions. I
don't even consider them that tough to be honest. I think it was a fair
He wasn't. And you're seeing, I think, the disastrous effects for him
and his campaign.
OLBERMANN: Also, it's one thing to say, well, as Palin did, that's a
got you moment. But when it's described - this is described as a
philosophical or hypothetical kind of question, as you point out, isn't
that what the premise of the tea party is? Philosophy and the application
of hypothetical situations to what they perceive as what's wrong with the
KOFINIS: I mean, that's exactly right. And here - one, you know,
going back to Palin for a second, the last person you want to be taking
media advice from is Sarah Palin. That is not the person you want to be
taking any type of media training from.
But here's, I think, the really, I think, significant and salient
point: if you're like Dr. Paul and you have a particular perspective of how
- what the role of government is, which basically is no role, the
government should not be involved or interfering in anything that goes on
in our day to day lives. If that's - if that's the case, it begs the
question: what is the role of government when it comes to health care, in
particular when you talk about Medicare, Medicaid, whether you're talking
about civil rights, and that, you know, and the panoply of issues that
you're going to basically be confronted with.
He wasn't ready to do that and that I think is a problem for him
because this is not a philosophy class. This is real world politics. And
if you're not prepared to answer those questions, it really begs the
question: why are you running?
KOFINIS: Well, if your answer was, as it was with him, I believe,
with Medicare, a $2,000 deductible is the solution to that. Last year, he
said something along those lines. You can understand why he changed the
But now, here's another aspect to this: Palin spoke out for him and
there were these sort of veiled comments from Steele.
Senator Cornyn who is, after all, the chairman of the senatorial
campaign committee for the Republican Party called him a novice who
stumbled on a question. And he also said, "I don't know what all his views
Are we getting an indication that as - the old idea of, you know, the
fire hose that has gotten away from the fireman here, that Republican
leaders don't know what to do or what to expect from this man the rest of
KOFINIS: Well, I think they don't know what to necessarily expect
from him, but also from this tea party movement. I think some of the
Republicans, the leaders in this town, are probably, when they're not on
camera, are sitting there and wondering - they're looking at the tea party
movement as this kind of political virus. They can't control it, they
can't kill it and if they don't do something about it, it may actually kill
them in November.
Because here's their problem, you know, that - this radicalized view,
and I know they're going to say it's not radical, but it's not radical to
their supporters. But the reality is, to mainstream America, it is. And
if they don't control it they're going to go completely further and further
to the right. That is not a way can you win in November. It's going to be
a big problem for the Republican Party.
OLBERMANN: And once again, the late great Bill Hicks comes to mind, a
virus with shoes.
Great thanks - democratic strategist, Chris Kofinis - thank you,
KOFINIS: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Is this Rand Paul's ultimate fate anyway? Senator Scott
Brown of Massachusetts is now being attacked, threatened with an
insurrection by the tea party. But there's more to them than just
political purity. They're also not knowing Puerto Rico is not a foreign
country nor that the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany in 1941.
Brown and "Tea Time" - ahead.
OLBERMANN: Bob, stolen. Bill-O leaves his flank wide open. Sarah's
dad says something Sarah really wishes he hadn't. First, the Tweet of the
day, what's topical again, from @Speed - I'm guessing marketing, "Rand
Paul explains his successful election, accidents just happen. Somebody fix
it!" Nomination, just nomination. And unlike the Gulf, this does seem to
be one of those self-correcting type accidents. Let's play Oddball.
We come to you tonight from Bakersfield, California, where Bob's Big
Boy Restaurant is set to open next weekend, even though the big boy has
been burgled. The tubby statue was erected Friday. As you can see from
surveillance video, 12 hours later, three men with their shirts pulled over
their heads, in best Beavis and Butthead fashion, lifted the 300 pound
statue, valued at 6,000 dollars, and walked off with it. The owner says he
just wants Bob back. No questions asked. I guess technically it's Big
Boy, not Bob. Because police don't have any faces to work with, they are
on the lookout for a three man gang featuring two innies and an outie.
More burglary, this time in Burlington, Vermont. Never mind Matisse
and Picasso at MOMA in Paris, this pair of masterminds stole a six-foot
long mural from the lobby of the Courtyard by Marriott two weeks ago. The
piece is valued at 3,000 dollars. I know, you were going to say three
dollars. Police actually got a good look at the criminals as they entered.
This weekend, there was better news, however. One of the thugs
disguised this time actually came back to return the artwork after he
figured out it would cost him two 3,000 dollars paintings to trade for one
6,000 dollar Bob's Big Boy statue. Or maybe he just didn't like it. It
didn't go in the den.
Finally, to Pueblo County, Colorado; police have arrested Anthony
Brandon Gonzales for allegedly burglarizing the home of an Elvis
impersonator. Something tells me he was picked up on the east side of
Pueblo. A witness to the robbery said the perpetrator had "East Side"
tattooed on his upper lip. However did they find him? He also thought the
number 13 was there, like a goatee on his chin.
Both tattoos were visible, even though he was wearing a mask. No
prejudging here. It could have been anybody.
You thought I was mean to Scott Brown? Wait until you hear how the
man symbolized the Tea Party success has been savaged by the Tea Party.
Snake eats own tail, film at 11:00.
OLBERMANN: The trouble that Senator Scott Brown faces right now could
have been predicted, indeed was predicted on this news hour when he was
elected. The inevitability that he would infuriate the Tea Party movement
that helped to get him elected. In our third story, Senator Brown is toast
to the Tea Party and the movement's impact on getting other favored
candidates elected may now be seriously in question.
Senator Brown, first, and the derisive rage coming his way for his
ultimate support of financial regulatory reform, from the Tea Party
Patriots, quoting, "his career as a senator of the people lasted slightly
longer than the shelf life of milk. The general mood of the Tea Party is
we put you in and we'll take you out in 2012. This is not something we
Who knows how many votes for Brown can actually be attributed to those
Massachusetts Tea Partiers in the first place. Indeed, most of his fund-
raising came from outside the state, according to "the Boston Globe," as
well as much of the current criticism, including complaints on Brown's
Facebook page. "Scott Brown is a turncoat," wrote one. Another posted, "I
am hereby officially unliking you."
That latter of course a direct quote from John Adams, by the way.
Meantime after a Democrat won the special congressional election in the
Pennsylvania 12th, the governor of that state, Ed Rendell, has put that
victory in context, including the lack of a Tea Party effect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSULVANIA: Well, I think the Tea Party
movement, which is the anger that people feel towards incumbency, it has
some power, particularly in Republican primaries. But if you look at
Pennsylvania 12, Candy, that was a district that John McCain carried
against Barack Obama in '08. I lost it the first time I ran for governor.
So it's a Republican performing district.
Mark Critz, the Democrat, won by 8 and a half points. And that was a
special election. The Tea Party was not a factor in that election at all.
In fact, everyone thought Critz was going to lose early on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Don't call me Candy, governor. There is even hope for
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. According to "Politico," his leading
Republican challenger is dropping in the polls. That would be former
Nevada Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Lowden. You will recall that she
famously suggested people should use chickens with which to barter with
their doctors for health care. Reid's campaign has mercilessly exploited
it, to such a degree that Lowden might now lose to the Tea Party candidate,
who might be easier for Reid to beat in the general election.
One bright spot for Lowden, though, Nevada state officials have now
added chicken costumes to the listed items that are banned from polling
Let's turn now to "Wall Street Journal" columnist Thomas Frank, also
author of "The Wrecking Crew, How Conservatives Rule." Thank you for your
time tonight, sir.
THOMAS FRANK, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": How are you, sir?
OLBERMANN: Good. And concerned about this issue: if the Tea Party
crowd's mantra was fiscal responsibility, if that's the first thing, if you
gave them of a list of things they say they're concerned about, why go
after Senator Brown about financial regulatory reform, which is also known,
I believe, as fiscal responsibility?
FRANK: Well, look, they aren't really about fiscal responsibility,
right? Where were they during the Bush administration when he was - when
the Bush people were running up these colossal deficits, you know? Their
favorite president in recent history is Ronald Reagan, who was the last,
you know, great heavyweight champion in deficit running up. That's not
really what they're about.
What they're about is anti-government. Right? This sort of market
populism that I used to write about in the old days, where freedom is all
about markets. And so of course they don't like what Scott Brown did.
Whenever you empower government to regulate market participants, that's -
you're stripping away our valuable freedoms every time you come down hard
on poor Goldman Sachs.
OLBERMANN: But is that not - if that is the strategy, and all the
strategy that is involved in this, does that necessarily not involve what I
suggested before, the snake eating its own tail perpetually, because once
you elect somebody, they become part of government, and therefore you have
to run somebody against them?
FRANK: Excellent point. You've got to remember that with these guys
and I love that image, by the way, the snake on the flag, right?
FRANK: But what you've got to remember is that this sort of eternal
retreat from these people that you've put in as a sort of ultra of
conservatives - and then a couple years later, you say, they weren't
conservative enough - this is actually a strategy that works. Look what
they're saying now about the Bush years. It was - I mean, Tom Delay
himself has said the problem isn't that we didn't do conservative things;
it's that conservatives never really got a try. None of these guys were
true conservatives. So we have to go one step further.
This is something that I am really - I'm always flabbergasted every
time I hear it. It strikes me as absolutely crazy. And yet it works.
This is convincing to a lot of people.
OLBERMANN: And the number of people who can find their own causes or
points of view manipulated by mainstream, while they think they're staying
outside of it - at the end of the Bush administration, we had the famous
backlash from the religious right, when they suddenly realized they had
gotten almost nothing in the deal they made to support George Bush. Is
there any sense among the Tea Party that maybe Scott Brown may have played
FRANK: Well, I don't know. Look, a lot of people thought he was a
RINO from day one. That happens all the time. The conservative movement
has this sense of themselves as forever being played. And to a certain
degree, after what I just said 30 seconds ago - look, to a certain degree,
it's true. Look at the religious right. They get lip service all the time
at this sort of family values crowd. But they almost never get their -
anything done on their agenda.
Now, the Wall Street people, that's different. They get what they
want. They always have.
OLBERMANN: Last point here. Senator Reid seems to be making
something of a comeback in the polls, obviously helped by the Sue Lowden
chickens. Is there - is it manipulated - is he manipulating the
situation, where the Tea Party candidate that he might oppose would be much
more - would be much less competitive with him than Sue Lowden?
FRANK: Would be easier to beat?
FRANK: It's hard to say. And I think the way to look at it is this:
what the Tea Party movement is doing is it's not a joke. It sometimes
seems ridiculous, like what Rand Paul was saying the other day, and your
woman with the chickens and all this sort of thing. It seems ridiculous,
but they are very effectively pushing the Republican party to the right.
That's - look at the situation that we're in now. That's an amazing
OLBERMANN: Thomas Frank of "the Wall Street Journal," author of "The
Wrecking Crew," great thanks for your time and insights tonight, sir.
FRANK: Any time.
OLBERMANN: First he told us she left Hawaii because there were too
many Asians in Hawaii. Now Sarah Palin's father has revealed she doesn't
make her own decisions. Then he retracts it and explains, oh, no, she has
a say in her own decisions?
Did you know that when Franklin Delano Roosevelt died, a good portion
said of the country, holy cow, I'm glad he's dead, he was turning into a
dictator? They did in Glenn Beck's America. Hallucinogens optional.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, she kicks off Geek
Week and discusses all things oil spill with her guest, energy secretary
and self-proclaimed nerd, Steven Chu.
OLBERMANN: Bill-O talking about the Gulf disaster and he says, "I
thought that they basically in the very beginning should stuff every member
of NBC News in that hole." And of the thousands of possible things that
occur to me, I should say one?
First, no, that isn't your water coming to a boil, it's our nightly
checkup on the something for nothing crowd. It's Tea Time.
What must be nice about being inside the Tea Party Borg is the facts
optional clause. J.D. Hayworth, Tea Party candidate for John McCain's
Senate seat, "I would also point out," he said, "that if we want to be
sticklers, the war that Dwight Eisenhower led in Europe against the Third
Reich was never declared by the United States Congress. Recall that
Congress passed a war resolution against Japan. Germany Declared war on us
two days later. We never formally declared war on Hitler's Germany. And
yet we fought the war."
Sadly, no. Pearl Harbor, December 7th. U.S. declares war on Japan
December 8th. Germany declares war on U.S. December 11th. Congress
declares war on Germany December 11th.
Next, J.D. will be asking the famous apocryphal question, who is Pearl
Meanwhile, in the Idaho first, Tea Party versus regular GOP Vaughn
Ward, who announced his candidacy in a speech that clearly plagiarized
Barack Obama's 2004 speech to the Democratic convention, campaigned for by
Sarah Palin, and opposing Raul Labrador. During a debate, somebody asked
Mr. Labrador if he favored statehood for the place of his birth, Puerto
Rico. He does not. But such a statement was insufficient for his rival,
Mr. Ward, who said, "the problem with extending statehood to some, to any
other country, is that then the infrastructure requirements. It's not time
to grow the United States. Not today, not tomorrow. Let's focus on
America first. I don't care what state it is, or what country that wants
to be part of America. It's not time. It's not going to be time. Let's
focus on us first."
Moron doesn't know that Puerto Rico is not another country, but is
rather a territory of the United States. It is part of America. It's us.
Obviously, when Mr. Labrador pointed this out to Mr. Ward, Mr. Ward stood
humbled and corrected. Not so much, "I really don't care what it is. It
It was just over three months ago that Tom Tancredo addressed the
first national convention of the know-nothings, and suggested mandating an
ugly civics literacy test before people could vote in this country. Tom,
don't put any history or current events in it. Your own candidates won't
OLBERMANN: Sarah Palin's father with a another Revelations quality
slip, quote, "she doesn't make the decisions." Then who does? That's
next, but first, tonight's worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Russell Pierce, the clown in the Arizona Senate who was
the front man for the white power backers who wrote the Senate's Papers
Please Law for him. He has a new plan, or somebody gave him a new plan.
Leaked e-mails show he wants a state law that would deny citizenship to
some children born on U.S. soil. It was forwarded on this e-mail, written
by an unidentified second party, "if we're going to have an effect on the
anchor baby racquet, we need to target the mother. Call it sexist, but
that's the way nature made it. Men don't drop anchor babies. Illegal
alien mothers do."
All right, Mr. Pierce, the rest of us will let you know when we're
going to give you permission to overrule the Constitution, and its
amendments and the laws that pertain to the United States of America, not
whatever living embarrassment you have made Arizona into.
Runner-up, Lonesome Rhodes Beck. Having apparently discovered that
not even a lot of his followers can get that worked up over the actions of
President Woodrow Wilson, Beck has now switched to FDR. "Roosevelt," he
asked a guess, "am I wrong by saying there was a good portion of people who
thought holy cow, I'm glad he's dead? He was turning into a dictator."
Yes. You're wrong. Roosevelt had been reelected for the fourth time
five months before his death. In none of his elections did he carry fewer
than three quarters of the states. At the time of his death, his approval
rating was 70 percent. It had peaked just three years earlier at 84
percent. So, yes, you're wrong.
And worst of all, Glenn, FDR was more popular than you.
But our winner, Bill-O, roaring back to life despite his precipitous
descent into blandness, talking about the oil spill in the Gulf, as a guest
on Cluster Fox and friends, Gretchen Carlson says "maybe stopping the gap
or the hole where it's spilling out, but a lot of people have come forward
with a lot of ideas how to clean it up." And Bill-O replies, "yes, I
thought that they basically, in the very beginning, should stuff every
member of the NBC news in that hole."
Maybe we should listen, Bill, because based on the Andrea Makris
lawsuit, I gathered that you were the expert on unsuccessful attempts to
stuff things into holes. Bill-O the clown, today's worst person in the
OLBERMANN: He told two Palin biographers the real reason why she left
school in Hawaii, too many Hawaiians. Tonight, another embarrassing round
of apparent truthiness from Sarah Palin's father, this time he reveals to
"the New York Times," his daughter, quote, "doesn't make the decisions."
Our number one story in the Countdown, if the former half governor of
Alaska isn't making the decisions, who is? In a profile piece on Palin and
her hometown of Wasilla, the "New York Times" interviewing not only Palin's
father Chuck Heath, but also her husband, Todd. The former explaining why
he does not like to nudge his daughter. Quoting, "I don't want to push the
wrong button with Sarah. Besides, she doesn't make the decisions. Let me
retract that. I'm sure she thinks them over and she has a lot of say as to
yes and no."
Mrs. Palin herself deciding to discuss - or having a lot to say
before she discussed the oil disaster, insisting the Obama administration
is dragging its feet on cleanup efforts because of the president's ties to
big oil. No, thanks, that was the last president.
Even the noted liberal rag "the Wall Street Journal" refuted her
claim, citing the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which said,
"Republicans receive far more money from the oil and gas industries than do
Democrats." Pointing to Palin's old running mate, Republican candidate
Senator John McCain, received more than twice as much money from the oil
and gas industries as Obama. McCain collected 2.4 million, Obama 898,000."
On that note, joining us now, the political reporter of "the
Washington Post," David Weigel. Dave, thanks for your time tonight.
DAVID WEIGEL, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So she's not the decider in the Sarah Palin quote machine?
Who is, then? Is it Karl Rove? Is it Roger Ailes? Is it a pit bull that
talks in its sleep somewhere?
WEIGEL: Keith, this is one of those great mysteries, like who built
Stonehenge or whether Puerto Rico's a country or not. We don't know. We
do know, from my talking with people on the Palin circle, such as it is,
Chuck Heath likes to go off the reservation. He's a wacky old guy. He's a
lot of fun. He provides a lot of color. But they weren't really standing
The mystery that compelled me today was this was really the best Palin
could do when talking about the oil spill. I was surprised. In "Going
Rogue," she writes - or Lynn Vincent writes for her about what it was like
to live in Alaska during the Exxon Valdez spill. Her response to this is
just this weird partisan comment about Obama that no one really buys. Yes,
it doesn't sound like somebody who has come up with a great plan and a
great team of advisers. It doesn't even sound like somebody who knows what
to say when she goes with her gut.
OLBERMANN: That also suggests, if there's anything to what Mr. Heath
said, that either the team had the weekend off or they haven't been working
very hard at making her decisions for her, for purposes as elucidated like
the one you cited there.
WEIGEL: We don't really know. She goes and says, as far as we can
tell, what she wants. Because if she had stricter advisers, she probably
wouldn't make, you know, an endorsement of Vaughn Ward, for example. She
was clever today in quickly coming to the aid of one of the candidates who
she endorsed, who was accused of having an affair. Palin turned this into
an issue of how everyone, all these Republican candidates like her, had to
deal with the lame stream media. But in the process of saying this, one of
the lame stream media articles that she had a problem with was a parody
article from this little Hamptons parody newspaper that said she was moving
to Hamptons. I read the article. It's like a little local "Onion" piece.
She included this as one of the nasty rumors the media about her. That
doesn't bespeak somebody who does a lot of screening.
OLBERMANN: There was also that lame stream media person who made the
charge and was the former spokesman for the Appalachian trail governor,
Governor Sanford, if I recall correctly. So it sort of falls down that
WEIGEL: I think this is a different Sanford spokesman. He had a good
run of them.
OLBERMANN: Sarah Palin never does interviews with anybody who might
ask a follow-up question. The questions at the events that she gets are
screened. Is there any evidence that she has some sort of handle on actual
policy that goes deeper than slogans? And did Mr. Heath just give us a
peel back the curtain for three seconds and sort of confirm that for us?
WEIGEL: Yeah, it disappoints a lot of conservatives. Conservatives
would like her to be better when she talks about policy, and would like her
to do a tougher interview than the ones on Fox. This is a problem
conservatives had when Fred Thompson ran for president. He didn't seem to
be interested in having a tough interview. Actually, to bring it up more
recently, Rand Paul, one of the reasons he had such a tough time with
Rachel Maddow is because he had been doing a lot of Fox interviews, been
doing a lot of soft local interviews.
Conservatives who want her to take more of a leadership role would
really like it if she hit the books, like it's possible to do. There's a
long record of big political figures who studied hard and came up from not
knowing a lot to at least being able to bluff their way through a big
OLBERMANN: As we know, she would rather study her hand in that
situation. Quickly, put your money down, who are we going to hear from
first, any kind of extensive interview again, Rand Paul or Chuck Heath?
WEIGEL: Oh, I think Chuck Heath. I mean, he's really easy to reach.
Reporters find that if you call - if you go to Wasilla and you put the
time in - if you look in the "Times" story, these people realize they can
poke the media with a stick and whatever they give us we'll end up running
with. So Paul will be in deep freeze much longer than Chuck Heath is.
OLBERMANN: That tells you everything you need to know about America
2010, doesn't it? Dave Weigel of "the Washington Post," as always, Dave,
WEIGEL: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: And that is Countdown for this the 34th day since the
Deepwater Horizon Oil spill disaster began. I'm Keith Olbermann, good
night and good luck.
And now to discuss the spill and kick off Geek Week with her special
guest, self proclaimed nerd, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, here is Rachel
Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED. END