'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, July 2nd, 2010
Video via MSNBC: Twitter Report, Oddball, Worst Persons
Fridays with Thurber:
Mr. Preble Gets Rid Of His Wife
via YouTube, h/t fferkleheimer
Guest: Will Bunch
ANNOUNCER: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The chairman of the Republican National Committee self-destructs. Afghanistan says Michael Steele quote was a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.
Democrats hit Steele for nonsensical historical revisionism for calling the war unwinnable. Republicans hit Steele for being against the war and demand his resignation. It was not a gaffe. Steele went on to show how GOP candidates use the Obama war mean this fall.
Richard Wolffe on the politics. Gene Robinson on the fatigue inside the GOP. Tonight's cry, Steele must go. Day 74, Louisiana's governor demands BP records be unsealed, but he vetoes a bill to unseal Louisiana's records of its response to the disaster.
And GOBP is back courtesy of Governor Barber of Mississippi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody has more to lose than BP.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beck, you. Last year, he was like this about higher education.
GLENN BECK: I think it's university. I don't know what university it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, it's the new university of himself.
BECK: Beck University is now open.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to open a university. Motto, knowledge is not good. Worst, happy Independence Day. How many of us do not know who we declared independence from? That many? It can't be that many. Until death do you part and even then, there's going to be an argument about it. He gets rid of his wife. All the news and commentary now on "Countdown."
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Good evening from New York. It is the longest war in American history begun with box cutters on September 11, 2001 when 3,000 people died.
Another thousand U.S. troops having died since in Afghanistan. Now, the chair of the Republican Party has been revealed to have said privately that this is a war of choice that America cannot win.
In our fifth story tonight, Republicans calling for RNC Chairman Michael Steele to resign, even though or maybe because he just might have a point. Steele's remarks came at a Republican fund-raiser Thursday captured on amateur video.
He has not disputed it their authenticity. Steel publicly supports the war in Afghanistan and blasted the president for not approving more troops sooner. So he's being portrayed today at hypercritical for calling a war Obama's choice and suggesting it is unwinnable.
Less attention paid to other aspects of the video, which you will hear in a moment. Steele admitting the democratic claim said Bush did not actively prosecute or even want to engage in that war. Revealing that the Republican National Committee along Congressional Republican Committees and Republican think tanks have been preparing candidates to run against the notion that George Bush began this war.
All of this in the context of giving candidates talking points on the war in light of the McChrystal resignation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEELE: The McChrystal incident, to me, was very comical. And I think it's a reflection of the frustration that a lot of our military leaders have with the administration and their prosecution of the war in Afghanistan. Keep in mind again, for our federal candidates, this was a war of Obama's choosing.
This was not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in. Well, if Obama's such a student of history, has he not understood that, you know, that's the one thing you don't do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right?
Because everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history has failed, and there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan without committing (inaudible). And so now, for our candidates that are running, you know, for Congress, and the United States Senate, there is a whole text of resources available to them through our office, the RNC, through the congressional committees, the senatorial and congressional committees and even some of the think tanks that help to frame those arguments so that you don't get stuck on a, "Well, George Bush fill in the blank."
And I think that's going to be very helpful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Today, William Kristol, spiritual father of the Iraq war in a letter acknowledging he's paid no attention to any of Steele's previous attention getting remarks said Steele has now gone too far. Kristol pointing out correctly, quote, "The war in Afghanistan was not a war of Obama's choosing. It's been prosecuted by the United States under Presidents Bush and Obama. Republicans have consistently supported the effort."
And then, you know, we are in looking glass territory when Kristol quotes the DNC, but then I'm quoting Kristol so as the DNC communications director of all people has said, your statement puts you at adds with about 100 percent of the Republican party.
But Kristol and the DNC are both wrong. Not all Republicans, Independence nor Democrats support a U.S. ground war in Afghanistan as Kristol seems to acknowledge as well. Quoting again, "There are, of course, those who think we should pull out of Afghanistan and they're certainly entitled to make their case, but one of them should not be the chairman of the Republican Party."
To his credit, Mr. Steele has not repudiated his remarks, but he has tried to blunt their impact and change their meaning. As president, he said Mr. Obama has indeed shifted his focus to the region. That means this is his strategy. For the sake of the security of the free world, our country must give our troops the support necessary to win this war."
Let's turn first to MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe and also the author of "Renegade: The Making of a President." Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, AUTHOR, "RENEGADE": Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Michael Steele thinks President Bush did not want to engage in Afghanistan and that there are other ways to change Afghanistan other than with American ground troops. Has he been talking to Joe Biden or to me?
WOLFFE: Well, Keith, that's a good question. I actually think there are two scenarios you have not considered. One is that Michael Steele is actually a Russian spy who's been living under deep cover for many years and has been recently activated by the arrest of his fellow spies.
You know, his purpose here is clearly to weaken the will of the Republican Party and the American people. The other scenario maybe that he's making to make Sarah Palin look well prepared and credible. In either case, I think you can say mission accomplished.
OLBERMANN: Clearly and seriously, President Obama did not choose to go into Afghanistan the way President Bush say chose to go into Iraq, but he is choosing to stay there and how to fight and under what circumstances and most recently, which general would do this. But haven't the Republicans supported those choices?
WOLFFE: Well, they have, which, of course, is Michael Steele's problem here. There are a couple of differences. Easy and lazy criticism of Obama's strategy here is that he's just like Bush.
Well, there are a number of ways he isn't like Bush. One is that he has troubled the number of troops in Afghanistan. If the Republicans want to go out there and say this is a war that they really are committed to, there is an obvious question, which is why weren't they committed to it to the same degree before.
But there's another point of difference, which is this end point. The time line that the president has spelled out clearly, Michael Steele isn't aware of either of those two differences.
OLBERMANN: The RNC would not tell us, which candidates of its roster have made use of these Afghanistan talking points, the raise on the remarks, so to speak. How will Republicans run on this issue when voters say well, George Bush, fill in the blank still constructed it.
WOLFFE: I thought it was a drinking game of some kind. How will they run? They are going to try to say that Obama somehow isn't committed because of this time line. At least that's what they should be saying.
I'm not sure where they are frankly now given these different arguments that Steele has come up with. But if they want to try and pretend that they are with the military as opposed to President Bush.
That may be a track they can take because the military will always want more time, more troops, more money and in the end they can blame the politicians as they have done for many year about Vietnam and say the politicians didn't have the will power, we did. But it has to be with the military, not with the previous Republican president.
OLBERMANN: Did the DNC miss a chance here, instead of jumping into this pile on, to maybe change the dynamics so that questioning a war, which Democrats and Liberals are doing to say nothing evidently of Michael Steele questioning it, he is no longer considered the equivalent of treason. If they missed the chance why didn't they take it?
WOLFFE: Well, I'm shocked that the DNC was opportunistic. Rather than trying to change the tone of politics, they wanted to score points. My (inaudible) almanac tells me this is an election year. I think that maybe an explanation. All we can hope is that they go after Joe Biden and John Boehner as the fellow Russian spies because why else would Joe Biden want to use nukes against the (inaudible).
OLBERMANN: Our own Richard Wolffe who has spent obviously part of this week watching spies on VHS. Great thanks. Have a great weekend.
WOLFFE: And you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: To focus specifically on the GOP end of this, let's bring in "Washington Post" associate editor and Pulitzer Price winning columnist and MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson. Gene, good evening.
EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: Good to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: If the chairman of DNC, Tim Kaine had the comments that Mr. Steele made Republicans would be saying see, the Democrats don't want us to win the war and they would have been calling for his resignation.
OLBERMANN: So how can any Republicans, literally, almost any Republicans not call for Michael Steele's resignation?
ROBINSON: Yes, the question about Tim Kaine would be why do you hate America? Why isn't every Republican asking that question of Michael Steele? I mean, as you pointed out, Bill Kristol has issued a strong call for him to resign.
And there had been - we've heard from Katon Dawson, the South Carolina Republican who ran against Steele for RNC chairman, but, you know, not exactly a buddy of the chairman. He wants him to resign and a few other people. We have not heard from the major elected Republican office holders in Washington and I think we ought to hear from them.
OLBERMANN: The toughest part, when we hear from them obviously is the quote from Steele was this is a war of Obama's choosing, which is obviously ridiculous unless, you know, there's been a time line that Michael Steele has just joined us from because Obama inherited the war from President Bush.
It was in progress on January 19th of 2009 and it is still today. But if you - even if you take Obama out of that statement, Steele is still saying, Afghanistan was a war of choice. Is that the - in a way, the hardest part for him to retract inside a party that most definitely does not see Afghanistan as a war of choice?
ROBINSON: Well, I think yes. That could be the hardest part to retract. I think the other part is also extremely problematic for him as well is when you say, essentially, you can't win this war. That's not the position of this party.
It's not, as I understood the Republican playbook. I understood the playbook was, you know that we have to commit all the resources we need and Democrats are soft on terrorism and a bunch of wusses.
And so when you have the chairman of the Republican Party saying, gee, this is the best, we shouldn't be in it that may well be true. This is a misadventure, but it's not in the script.
OLBERMANN: There was also Steele's illusion to resources available to congressional candidates, he said federal candidates. Let's assume for a moment that Steele was making a stupendously clumsy reference to some sort of a Republican electoral strategy.
Is the actual Republican electoral strategy the one we have already heard from some of them that Obama is not willing to do all that it takes to win in Afghanistan? If so, how could that have morphed even in Michael Steele? How could that have morphed into what he actually said, which seems to be as far away from that original point as possible.
ROBINSON: It is as far away as possible. That's what's kind of interesting about this episode because it could be and I'm giving him too much credit here, I realize that. It could be that Michael Steele is paying attention to the fact that as you noted at the top of the program, there are Republicans who question the strategy.
It's not a lot of Republican office holders here. But, there are a lot of Republicans in the country who wonder, what are we doing in Afghanistan? What is the end point? Will we leave it a better place? Is it worth it? Maybe he was in some backhanded way suggesting it's not a good idea for Republican candidates to ignore the fact that a lot of their constituents have questions about the war, too.
OLBERMANN: Yes, but even in that sense, didn't he just walk into an impossible situation? It was, after all, President Bush who did not put through the final resources required. In fact removed them when ultimately defeating the Taliban after kicking al Qaeda out would have essentially neutralized Afghanistan and we wouldn't have it coming back on us like bad diet soda every couple of years where it's going to continue to be a torn in America's side for decades to come because we stepped into these Hornets nest and did not kill the Hornets while we were there. Why would any Republican touch the idea, this hasn't been handled well when the unhandled part is clearly George Bush's historical legacy?
ROBINSON: Well, like I said, giving him too much credit. Yes, this is - he took himself into a place for which there is no exit. There's no way out of where he left himself with this combination of statements there and you know, the sensible thing to do would be to come out and say, I take it all back.
OLBERMANN: Or go with Richard's idea. Guess what, I am a Russian spy and I'm leaving for Moscow tomorrow. It might be the easiest. Even if he's not, just go. Gene Robinson, columnist and associate editor of the "Washington Post." Have a great weekend. Gene, many thanks.
ROBINSON: You, too, Keith.
OLBERMANN: One governor insist the records of his BP's response in the Gulf be unsealed while the records of his own response in the Gulf be sealed.
Day 74, in the Gulf also low lighted by another governor insisting nobody has more to lose here than BP. Dave Wiggle joins me next on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Nobody's got more to lose in this deal than BP. The words of a governor on Day 74 of the disaster in the Gulf. The great founders of American higher education, LAU Yale, Leland Stanford, Oscar W. Community and now this guy. The founding member of Beck U.
Her latest scare tactic, illegal immigrants are beheading Americans in the Arizona desert. It's true except for the parts about Americans and Arizona and maybe beheading.
And Friday's with (inaudible). Touching on his eternal theme, the war between men and women, it's Mr. Prebble gets rid of his wife, ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: This July 4th, BP will be paying for the fireworks display in Durango, Colorado. Actively promoting its (inaudible) in an effort to rehabilitate its image. If only $15,000 worth of bottle rockets and roman candles were all it would actually take.
Meanwhile, beach communities along the Gulf Coast with little to celebrate. Largely canceling their planned fireworks for this holiday weekend outright.
On our fourth story, the suffering in the Gulf has not seemed stopped the politicians who govern the Gulf States from choosing their own interests or BP over that of their own citizens.
We begin with the pyrotechnics emanating from Haley Barbour's GOP mouth. Republican governor of Mississippi having dismissed this disaster since day one so firmly on the side of BP and the oil industry.
Having already compared the toxicity of crude to toothpaste, having already blamed the media for reports that the oil was threatening to hit his states' beaches before the oil inevitably hit Mississippi's beaches and yes, having already worried about the impact the damages would have on BP's bottom line.
Governor Barbour's still worried about BP's bottom line. Telling national public radio that quote, "no one has more to lose than BP dismissing the idea of more regulation."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR HALEY BARBOUR, (R) MISSISSIPPI: The idea that more regulation is necessarily better, I think a very suspect idea. I think right now, every oil company in the world says I don't want to pay $100 million a day to cut corners on drilling a well. That's where I believe the market system works. Nobody's got more to lose in this deal than BP.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Across the state line in Louisiana, Bobby Jindal signing one bill into law this week that protects oil disaster relief programs from scam artists and fraudulent claims. But exactly who was the Republican governor protecting when he vetoed another measure that would have made all state oil spill records public.
The bill having been introduced by a fellow Republican. Governor Jindal also vetoed yet another measure that would have implemented sustainability programs in the Gulf.
Meanwhile, local officials also voicing frustration with the federal response. A councilman in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana saying that the council submitted its plan to build a levy to keep oil out of inland water ways, submitted it to the Army Corps of Engineers last week.
The council told that any discussion would have to wait until this past Monday because the engineers were to be taking last weekend off. Five days later, the Jefferson Council Parish was still waiting for an answer.
CHRIS ROBERTS, COUNCILMAN, JEFFERSON PARISH: The Corps needs to look at this as an emergency as well. There's no reason why whoever reviews permits, and whatever departments and stakeholders and agencies need to give approval for this, should not be working around the clock just like the people are out there trying to get this oil picked up.
OLBERMANN: Any discussion of oil reaching Florida, so far limited to that state's panhandle region, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today releasing a forecast, which shows that oil from the disaster has up to an 80 percent chance of hitting the Florida keys and Miami by the middle of August. A few contradictions then to address with MSNBC contributor, David Weigel. Dave, good evening.
DAVID WEIGEL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So Governor Jindal is pushing BP to open its records, but they seal up all of his own. Even in Louisiana, is he expecting to get away with that?
WEIGEL: Well, he's going to get away with it this year because unless he calls a special session that's it. There's not going to be another opening of the current records of this crisis. That really irritated a lot of Republicans in the state.
I talked to the Republicans in the House and Senate who sponsored this legislation and argued that really, you know, saying that you are going to protect the records so we don't lose liability claims later down the line, it doesn't make a lot of sense because you can always subpoena that stuff.
Saying we can't do it now opens up a risk of losing information and having information get shredded, left out or thrown out. It's perplexing the people there and it also is preventing them from getting a full understanding of how well the governor is doing in solving this crisis. They just - all they have to rely on are media reports and his own statements to the media.
OLBERMANN: And also there's this issue of how then Jindal compares in the local response compares nationally. How it is possible for Jindal and Haley Barbour to go in and criticize the administration response to the oil disaster without not only just the measure of credibility, but a measure?
WEIGEL: Well, they are both in the interesting position of being more defensive of BP than BP itself is. In Jindal's case, he frames it all as what he have to do in order to make sure the state gets everything it deserves.
In Barbour's case, he's taking this sort of enthusiastic PR role for the oil companies. First, dismissing what was going to happen on the shores, still dismissing and really taking photographers to the shore to spotlight the parts not that dirty and now saying the big issue, we can't lose track of is whether or not we are going to hurt the oil companies' ability to do business.
I mean, nationally, I don't know how that's playing because the story, you know, frankly submerges sometimes. I think it's preventing Republicans from taking full political advantage of what's going on.
But it's a smart long game because they don't want to be in the position, as Barber said this, giving liberals, environmentalists some kind of three-mile island situation that discredits the oil industry. They want to, in the long term, make sure there's no good argument for government regulation and they want to defend the private industry and the oil companies.
OLBERMANN: What about Jindal's smart long term play? It does look like hypocrisy at a distance. It may look like a hypocrisy of short term to be sealing his records while pushing for BPs to be open. What's does do to his designs on national office?
WEIGEL: Well, no one I talked to in the state - some legislatures who working on this think there's anything he's done wrong. But because we're not seeing all these records - are not being saved, we honestly don't know if there's some stuff that's not been done wrong.
I mean, Jindal since he's got in office in 2007, has been a reform governor, in most cases. He hasn't - he's actually pulled back a little bit the transparency at the top, at the governor's office. It's harder to get records of how he governed than it was for previous governors.
It's easier to get a really good, you know, I mean, spin is a loaded word, but a good image of the guy. He's good at upping his national profile. I mean, politicians in the state are hopeful that maybe if these stories get enough national eyebrow raisings and enough criticism, that might convince him. It's not his best interest, but his poll numbers in Louisiana are sky high. It hasn't had an effect, yet.
OLBERMANN: MSNBC contributor, David Weigel. Thanks again, Dave.
Happy holiday weekend.
WEIGEL: Thank you, same to you.
OLBERMANN: In one year, Glenn Beck goes from quoting research at the university of - I think it's the University of, I remember, which university it is to founding a university of his own. So now, the bells he hears tolling every quarter hour will not be figments of his imagination.
OLBERMANN: Beck U. The guy who dropped out of two colleges decides those who can't learn teach. There is big money off teaching. First the sanity break as I approach 75,000 followers on Tweeter. It's at keitholbermann to tweets of the day.
First from Kelbo. Tea Party having big rally to protest the low pre-order G. Beck's new book 8-28.
Second is a question from Petticoat J. A little jealous of Beck? It's OK, admit it. If you were one-third smart as he is, you'd be a genius.
No, if I were a third as smart as Glenn Beck, I'd still be a sperm.
Let's play "Oddball."
Coney Island, hello. It is America's birthday to you honor a country that's given its citizens freedom, liberty and justice for all, this afternoon, three men battled three Asian elephants to see who could eat more hot dog buns. USA, USA.
It's the appetizer to Sunday's big hot dog eating contest. Rules, simple, stuff as many buns down you gullet as you can in six minutes. The final 15 dozen buns for the humans, 41 dozen buns for the elephants. The human participants plan on avenging their loss next year. But it's unlikely that the elephants will forget this year's triumph.
To London, where all this talk of apple pie and fire works and no longer being under the tyrannical rule of the British - or somebody else, as we'll hear later. It's understandable our friends across the pond might be feeling somewhat depleted. The solution, a wax tribute to British Prime Minister David Cameron. No jokes, you liberals. It took a team of 24 months to create Mr. Cameron's shiny alter ego, which means they started working on the thing two months before he became prime minister. Does Gordon Brown now about this? Britain's First Lady was fooled. Samantha Cameron, who was on hand at Madame Tussaud's for the unveiling, and was delighted by the sight. Her husband, however, remained unmoved.
To Vilnius, in Lithuania, where with all focus on America's battle for independence this weekend, it's easy to forget about the Battle of Grunwald. What is that? You don't remember learning about the Battle of Grunwald? Allow these two Lithuanian bikers and their giant back tattoos to educate you. One of their key battles fought in the legendary Polish/Lithuanian Teutonic War. The tattoos are to commemorate the battle's 600th anniversary. It's taken two years to complete the depiction of the battle in tattoo form. The bikers believe that skin art is a great way to prove their patriotism. Later on, they are going to start their own online university with them.
Beck University, University of Beckistan, Lonesome Rhodes A&M, a college to be founded by a man who is anti-learning. It is, as Bill Hicks used to say, the basest form of irony. But it's still a hoot. Next.
OLBERMANN: People do found colleges. The place I went, the guy made his money as a carpenter. Then he developed a new plow. Then he made millions by, essentially, inventing and selling telegraph polls. Then he announced he was going to start a university where anyone could study anything for a fairly nominal fee. The legend goes, as friends says, but Ezra, you'll be inundated; there will be a million people who want to go to your university. He supposedly said, yes, but wait until you see where I put the thing. To this day, there isn't a highway that runs within an hour of the damn place.
Our third story, following the same trail-blazing path, we have Glenn Beck. Enrollment has begun for Beck's unaccredited online college, which will peddle is unaccredited offline nonsense for six bucks a month. He made his millions selling not telegraph polls, but bull crap, like unaccredited online colleges. This one's name, Beck U. Tuition is one of the fringe benefits of your annual 79 dollar Insider Extreme membership at GlenBeck.com.
The school's crest features George Washington, a bison and a feather. Although that could be a needle and a dead guy - I'm not sure - on the right. I'm not sure. It's a dead guy. It's a dead guy, not a bison. The Latin motto, Tyrannis Sedicio Obsequim Dio (ph). Translation, you can only sell so much gold. I'm sorry. Translation, revolution against tyrants, submission to God.
Students have access to three courses, hope, faith and charity. The three professors giving weekly lectures, range in stature from the seemingly legitimate to off the charts cuckoo. For instance, Hope is taught by pseudo-historian David Barton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: First one, your professor is David Barton. This guy is a - he's the Library of Congress in shoes. He has more documents as a private citizen than anyone else on the planet, American documents prior to 1812. He's only beaten by the Library of Congress. You'll learn more in his classes than I think you have ever learned about American history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Lots of documents. Well, then he's safe in Arizona. We've discussed David Barton on this program before. He's a Texas based Evangelical Republican activist and founder of Wall Builders, a group dedicated to exposing what it calls the myth that the Founding Fathers intended for a separation of Church and State. Barton has a long and well established track record of distorting those texts from his private library to advance his group's lies. It's not immediately clear how loony the courses faith and charity, meantime, will be. What is clear is that Beck U's curriculum has room to grow.
Today, the "Mother Jones" people had some suggested courses, "Advanced Marketing seminar, Rare gold coins, Psych 301, Paranoia as Therapeutic Alternative. Fundamentals and Spelling and Grammar has been canceled. Counter-Insurgency Techniques in Morning Radio, and, of course, Underwater Conspiracy Weaving."
Will Bunch, senior writer for the "Philadelphia Daily News," senior fellow at Media Matters for America, where today, he blogged about Beck U. He's also the author of "Backlash, Right Wing Radicals, High Def. Hucksters and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama." Hello, Will.
WILL BUNCH, "PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS": Hey, Keith. I guess I can thank Lonesome Rhodes for this reunion. It's good to see you again.
OLBERMANN: Good to see you too. You and I once attended a high school that was founded by one person, dear old Mrs. Hackley. People do start institutions of learning. They don't always have to be great people. The Nobel Peace Prize was created by the perfecter of dynamite. Why do we start from the position of just presuming this is just another Beckian scam?
BUNCH: First of all, Keith, I don't remember Mrs. Hackley have anything about overthrowing tyrants in the motto for Hackley school. So I guess that's one place we start.
Look, as you mentioned in your introduction, this is a profit deal for Glenn Beck. In order to take these courses, he wants you to become an extreme insider or insider extreme. He wants you to pay 9.95 a month, or 74.95 a year. Now, Glenn Beck made 32 million dollars last year. Think about it, if he gets 100,000 people to become extreme insiders to take the class, he's going to make an extra eight million dollars a year, which is a nice little raise that he is giving himself right there.
I do think Beck's tapped into something. I do travel the country doing this book, "the Backlash" talking to Tea Partiers and 9/12ers, and Oath Keepers. There's this quest, I think, for something to underlie this I want my country back sense. They want to find some kind of intellectual underpinning to this or some kind of historical underpinning, Even if it means rewriting history. I think Beck is really tapping into that here. I think he's giving his audience something they want and they are giving him something he wants, which is cash.
OLBERMANN: Yes, what he's giving them is fiction. To that point, explain who the historian David Barton is and to the degree his bogacity (ph), and how - he has PHD in bogacity, does he not?
BUNCH: Absolutely. You know, Arlen Specter, who - this is back when Arlen Specter was a Republican, so I don't know if you can believe him more or not. He called David Barton at a Senate hearing a - accused him of pseudo-scholarship, which I think is a pretty good term for what he does.
I had the pleasure of seeing David Barton. I went to Beck's American Revival in Orlando this Spring. Remember the Fed-Ex ads where the guy talks 100 miles a minute? Well, that's Barton's spiel. He tosses out these disconnected facts, basically which are that prominent people in the 1700s went to church a lot and talked about God a lot. He uses this, spewing out these facts, to try and create this myth that the founding of this country wasn't really focused so much on the separation of church and state, when, of course, the exact opposite is true.
So Beck U is basically starting with 33 percent of its faculty being under a cloud at best.
OLBERMANN: What is the crest mean? What are the images mean? George Washington, a feather and what's either a bison or a dead guy in a heap.
BUNCH: Yes, the Buffalo is the part I'm still struggling with. The first time I looked at it, I thought it was an elephant, and I realized I had the head and the rear end in the wrong place.
OLBERMANN: As does Glenn. Thank you.
BUNCH: Maybe there's something inappropriate with that. I don't know. I did do some research to find that I guess the buffalo may be a symbol of knowledge in some cultures. You know, the buffalo also has to be cleaned up after - I think that's what we may have to do in the remains of Beck U.
One thing I would say seriously about this logo, which is a great
laugh. But this motto, insurrection against tyrants and obedience to God -
this whole tyrant meme is what the Tea Party and the right wing has been saying about Obama for the last year and a half. Again, he's giving red meat, I think, to his audience in this university, that's founded on overthrowing tyrants. Guess what, I just happen to have a tyrant right here. That's his pitch, anyway.
OLBERMANN: A sobering and appropriate note from Will Bunch, of the "Philadelphia Daily News," author of "Backlash." Good to talk to you, my friend. Take care.
BUNCH: Yeah, Keith. Good to see you, again.
OLBERMANN: Friday's with Thurber, one of his great themes, man versus woman. A couple arguing over how he should murder her in "Mr. Preble Gets Rid of His Wife."
When she says we have to stop those illegal immigrants beheading Americans in the Arizona desert, it turns out she doesn't mean Americans or in Arizona, possibly not even beheading. Lying her way into worsts.
When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, a true reminder about the Fourth of July and how imperiled our freedom can be. A special encore of her documentary "The McVeigh Tapes, Confessions of An American Terrorist."
OLBERMANN: Quick quiz, when we celebrate our Declaration of Independence on Sunday, from which country did we declare it? How many of us couldn't answer that question? Worst persons ahead. And he has decided to kill her. She has decided to nag him about how he has decided to do it. "Mr. Preble Gets Rid of His Wife" on Friday's with Thurber, when Countdown continues.
OLBERMANN: Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy plans to murder girl, but first she's going to nag him about it. "Mr. Preble Gets Rid of His Wife" on Friday's with Thurber. That's next, but first get out your pitch forks and torches, time for tonight's worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Congressman Louie Gohmert, Republican of Texas. He is defending his warning on the House floor about, terror babies. "It first came to my attention when some of us were traveling to the Middle East last August, a year ago. A lady on the plane was telling one of our group that they were about to have their second granddaughter. Her son in law was with Hamas. She said they were going to do with the second as they did with the first grandchild. Daughter is going to come to America right before it's born on a tourist visa, have the baby. They just like the option of having American citizens in the family." She added, "you know what the best part of it is? We won't have to pay anything for the baby to be born."
So she confessed this to you. Of course, you got her name, right? You and your group? You didn't get the terror baby grandma's name. She told you about terror babies, and you didn't get her home? I am thinking the terror baby's grandma was named Gohmert.
Our runner up, Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona, caught in a flat footed lie. Last week, her anti-Latino hysteria reached fever pitch when she said, quote, "we cannot afford all this illegal immigration and everything that comes with it, everything from the crime to the drugs and the kidnappings and the extortion and the beheadings."
She was asked about the beheadings again on local TV. "Law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert, either buried or just lying out there, that have been beheaded." Got to stop those Arizona beheadings. She's right. One problem, haven't been any. "Arizona Guardian" contacted the coroners in six Arizona counties, including four on the Mexican border. They have never handled a desert headless body from lawless crime. The governor's spokesman, Paul Sensemann (ph) still stuck to the governor's lie. "Even a cursory check of news stories on the Internet suggests otherwise." Then, somebody made a cursory check. "I'm not aware of any statements where the governor specifies where any crimes were committed."
Apparently, those desert beheadings that Governor Brewer said were discovered by, quote, our law enforcement agencies were in Mexico or maybe in the Sahara.
But our winners, 26 percent of us. The pollsters at Maris thought this would be a good time to check to make sure everybody knew what we celebrate on Sunday the Fourth of July. The question, "on July 4th, we celebrate independence day. From which country did the United States win its independence?" Seventy four percent said Great Britain. Twenty percent said they weren't sure. Six percent answered with the name of a different country. Different country?
Among the countries mentioned are France, China, Japan, Mexico and Spain. China? We were part of China? Something about all the tea in China, the Tea Party something. The largest demographic group to say neither England nor I don't know - ten percent of them were not the youngest. It was people aged 30 to 44. Ten percent of you guys think we declared independence from what, Atlantis?
More than a quarter of Americans who don't know it was England. But don't give up. Did we give up when the German's bombed Pearl Harbor? No. Today's worst persons in the world.
OLBERMANN: Friday's with Thurber this week brings us a story I have been getting requests for as long as we've been doing this. Next to dogs, the war between the sexes was Thurber's most enduring topic. This story was originally included in "The Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze," published in 1935. As usual, I'm reading from the "Library of America, Thurber Writings and Drawings," just republished largely because of the series of readings right here. It's murder most boring in "Mr. Preble Gets Rid of His Wife," by James Thurber."
Mr. Preble was a plump middle aged lawyer in Scarsdale. He used to kid with his stenographer about running away with him. "Let's run away together," he would say during a pause in dictation. "All righty," she would say.
One rainy Monday afternoon, Mr. Preble was more serious about it than usual.
"Let's run away together," said Mr. Preble.
"All righty," said his stenographer. Mr. Preble jingled the keys in his pockets and looked out the window.
"My wife would be glad to get rid of me," he said.
"Would she give you a divorce?" asked the stenographer.
"I don't suppose so," he said. The stenographer laughed.
"You'd have to get rid of your wife," she said.
Mr. Preble was unusually silent at dinner that night. About half an hour after coffee, he spoke without looking up from his paper.
"Let's go down in the cellar," Mr. Preble said to his wife.
"What for?" she said, not looking up from her book.
"Oh, I don't know," he said. "We never go down in the cellar any more, the way we used to."
"We never did go down in the cellar that I remember," said Mrs. Preble. "I could rest easy the balance of my life if I never went down in the cellar." Mr. Preble was silent for several minutes.
"Suppose I said it meant a whole lot to me," began Mr. Preble.
"What's come over you?" his wife demanded. "It's cold down there and there is absolutely nothing to do."
"We could pick up pieces of coal," said Mr. Preble. "We might get up some kind of a game with pieces of coal."
"I don't want to," said his wife. "Anyway, I'm reading."
"Listen," said Mr. Preble, rising and walking up and down. "Why won't you come down in the cellar? You can read down there, as far as that goes."
"There isn't a good enough light down there," she said, "and anyway, I'm not going to go down in the cellar. You may as well make up your mind to that."
"Gee whiz!" said Mr. Preble, kicking at the edge of a rug. "Other people's wives go down in the cellar. Why is it you never want to do anything? I come home worn out from the office and you won't even go down in the cellar with me. God knows it isn't very far. It isn't as if I was asking you to go to the movies or some place."
"I don't want to go!" shouted Mrs. Preble. Mr. Preble sat down on the edge of a davenport.
"All right, all right," he said. He picked up the newspaper again.
"I wish you'd let me tell you more about it. It's kind of a surprise."
"Will you quit harping on that subject?" asked Mrs. Preble.
"Listen," said Mr. Preble, leaping to his feet. "I might as well tell you the truth instead of beating around the bush. I want to get rid of you so I can marry my stenographer. Is there anything especially wrong about that? People do it every day. Love is something you can't control."
"We've been all over that," said Mrs. Preble. "I'm not going to go all over that again."
"I just wanted you to know how things are," said Mr. Preble. "But you have to take everything so literally. Good Lord, do you suppose I really wanted to go down in the cellar and make up some silly game with pieces of coal?"
"I never believed that for a minute," said Mrs. Preble. "I knew all along you wanted to get me down there and bury me."
"You can say that now, after I told you," said Mr. Preble. "But it would never have occurred to you if I hadn't."
"You didn't tell me; I got it out of you," said Mrs. Preble. "Anyway, I'm always two steps ahead of what you're thinking."
"You're never within a mile of what I'm thinking," said Mr. Preble.
"Is that so? I knew you wanted to bury me the minute you set foot in this house tonight." Mrs. Preble held him with a glare.
"Now that's just plain damn exaggeration," said Mr. Preble, considerably annoyed. "You knew nothing of the sort. As a matter of fact, I never thought of it till just a few minutes ago."
"It was in the back of your mind," said Mrs. Preble. "I suppose this filing woman put you up to it."
"You needn't get sarcastic," said Mr. Preble. "I have plenty of people to file without having her file. She doesn't know anything about this. She isn't in on it. I was going to tell her you had gone to visit some friends and fell over a cliff. She wants me to get a divorce."
"That's a laugh," said Mrs. Preble. "That's a laugh. You may bury me, but you'll never get a divorce."
"She knows that; I told her that," said Mr. Preble. "I mean, I told her I'd never get a divorce."
"Oh, you probably told her about burying me, too," said Mrs. Preble.
"That's not true," said Mr. Preble, with dignity. "That's between you and me. I was never going to tell a soul."
"You'd blab it to the whole world; don't tell me," said Mrs. Preble.
"I know you." Mr. Preble puffed at his cigar.
"I wish you were buried now and it was all over with," he said.
"Don't you suppose you would get caught, you crazy thing?" she said. "They always get caught. Why don't you go to bed? You're just getting yourself all worked up over nothing."
"I'm not going to bed," said Mr. Preble. "I'm going to bury you in the cellar. I've got my mind made up to it. I don't know how I could make it any plainer."
"Listen," cried Mrs. Preble, throwing her book down, "will you be satisfied and shut up if I go down in the cellar? Can I have a little peace if I go down in the cellar? Will you let me alone then?"
"Yes," said Mr. Preble. "But you spoil it by taking that attitude."
"Sure, sure, I always spoil everything. I stop reading right in the middle of a chapter. I'll never know how the story comes out. But that's nothing to you."
"Did I make you start reading the book?" asked Mr. Preble. He opened the cellar door. "Here, you go first."
"Brrr," said Mrs. Preble, starting down the steps. "It's cold down here! You would think of this, at this time of year! Any other husband would have buried his wife in the summer."
"You can't arrange those things just whenever you want to," said Mr.
Preble. "I didn't fall in love with this girl till late fall."
"Anybody else would have fallen in love with her long before that. She's been around for years. Why is it you always let other men get in ahead of you? Mercy, but it's dirty down here! What have you got there?"
"I was going to hit you over the head with this shovel," said Mr.
"You were, huh?" said Mrs. Preble. "Well, get that out of your mind. Do you want to leave a great big clue right here in the middle of everything, where the first detective that comes snooping around will find it? Go out in the street and find some piece of iron or something, something that doesn't belong to you."
"Oh, all right," said Mr. Preble. "But there won't be any piece of iron in the street. Women always expect to pick up a piece of iron anywhere."
"If you look in the right place you'll find it," said Mrs. Preble. "And don't be gone long. Don't you dare stop in at the cigar store. I'm not going to stand down here in this cold cellar all night and freeze."
"All right," said Mr. Preble. "I'll hurry."
"And shut that door behind you!" she screamed after him. "Where were you born, in a barn?
"Mr. Preble Gets Rid of His Wife."
That's Countdown. portions written by James Thurber, for this the 74th day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf. Up next, the MSNBC documentary "The McVeigh Tapes, Confessions of An American Terrorist," presented by Rachel Maddow. I'm Keith Olbermann. Have a nice Fourth of July. Good night and good luck.
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