'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, Oct. 28th, 2010
Video via MSNBC: Twitter Report, Oddball, Worst Persons
The toss: From here
Guests: Chris Hayes, Howard Fineman, Gov. Charlie Crist, Raul Grijalva, Jess McIntosh
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Blowback against the Tea Party. Baked in Alaska: Joe Miller now third in the polls.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MIKE LEE (R), UTAH SENATE CANDIDATE: It's not something that we can rule out. It may be absolutely necessary.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And even non-Tea Party Republicans edge toward that threat.
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REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: This is not the time for compromise. We will not compromise on our principles.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The man who had enough. Florida independent Senate candidate Charlie Crist on Florida Tea Party Senate candidate Marco Rubio:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHARLIE CRIST (I), FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE: He took it to a point so much so that said people who don't essentially agree with him ought to leave the country, like Keith Olbermann.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Our special guest, Governor Charlie Crist.
The plot to buy America. For Rove's American Crossroads, it's personal in Kentucky. They attacked Senate candidate John Conway while Jack Conway is prosecuting the American Crossroad's bankers.
The new explanation of the "papers, please" law, Arizona 1070: it's not tighten border security. It's drumming up business for privatized prisons.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WAYNE CALBRESE, PRESIDENT, THE GEO GROUP, INC.: Those people coming across the border and being caught are going to have to be detained and that to me, at least suggests there's going to be enhanced opportunities for what we do.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And voting against your own interests. Women leaning towards the GOP in the midterms when the GOP has candidates who defend their own entertainment company portraying women on TV literally on all fours barking like dogs.
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LINDA MCMAHON (R), CONNECTICUT SENATE CANDIDATE: I do believe in the First Amendment rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We produce a very unique form of entertainment.
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OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Thursday, October 27th, five days until the 2010 midterm elections.
Perhaps because they feel emboldened convinced of their own victory, or because they are making a final pitch to their angry base, or because they can't just wait to shut down the government - in our fifth story:
Republican leaders and those who would join them, making new calls of no compromise and of government shutdown.
While in Alaska, a sign of clarity as the Tea Party candidate drops to third place.
The Republican who felt he had no choice but to become an independent, Florida governor and senatorial candidate Charlie Crist will join me in a moment as news breaks around that campaign.
First, the Tea Party-backed senatorial candidate in Utah, Mike Lee, now says that a government shutdown may be absolutely necessary.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LEE: Our current debt is a little shy of $14 trillion. And I don't want it to increase 1 cent above the current debt limit. And I will vote against that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even if it leads to a government default or a shutdown?
LEE: It's an inconvenience. It would be frustrating to many, many people. And it's not a great thing. And yet, at the same time, it's not something that we can rule out. It may be absolutely necessary.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Meantime, the would-be speaker of the House, John Boehner, has made it clear that working with the president only works in one direction. To quote him, "To the extent the president wants to work with us in terms of our goals, we'd welcome his involvement."
He added this:
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BOEHNER: This is not the time for compromise. And I can tell you, Sean, that we will not compromise on our principles and we will not compromise on the will of the American people. It's as simple as that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Add Republican Mike Pence to the chorus. He says that when Republicans took control of the Congress back in 1994, quote, "There was altogether too much compromise. There will be no compromise."
But then there is Senator Lisa Murkowski, the Republican who's not crazy enough to the Tea Partiers, and was consequently running as a write-in candidate. The Alaska Supreme Court has now ruled that voters may review a list of write-in candidates at polling places, which would be vital to Murkowski, probably, since voters must spell her name correctly for that write-in vote to count.
And a new poll in Alaska places her at the top. The Democrat Scott McAdams is second that Tea Party Republican Joe Miller is last.
And as the stomach turns, the underbelly of the rest of campaign 2010 shows itself, in the Senate race in Washington, where Republican Dino Rossi is challenging the Democratic incumbent, Patty Murphy, a 23-year-old activist Christie Stordeur was protesting outside the GOP headquarters in Walla Walla. Ms. Stordeur, along with others, wearing bags over their heads. Seventy-two-year-old Victor Phillips tried to remove the bag, according to a sheriff's report. When Ms. Stordeur lifted her arms in defense, Mr. Phillips hit her arms with force. The sheriff's deputy arrested Mr. Phillips at the scene for possible assault charge.
In Houston, a despicable attempt at dirty tricks. A flyer stuck in the windshields of cars in a predominantly African-American polling place in Houston. The flyer tells voters not to vote the straight Democratic ticket and offers a convoluted explanation that also insults the intelligence of African-American voters.
And in California, empathy abounds. The Republican nominee for governor, Meg Whitman, has now declared that her former housekeeper of nine years, the one who Whitman claims not to have known was an illegal immigrant, should now be deported.
Let's go first to the Washington editor of "The Nation," MSNBC contributor Chris Hayes.
Good evening, Chris.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We'll skip Ms. Whitman and her attempt to lose absolutely all of the Hispanic vote in California and move instead to the business of government shutdown and no compromise. The Republicans and the Tea Party tail that might be wagging that dog, are they - are they now tipping just far they will you go if they get the House?
HAYES: Look, I mean, think about it this way, right? In 1994, Republicans took over the House. And it was - you know, it was the sort of - in some ways, there's a deja vu feeling to this whole the Tea Party movement. Back then, it was called the revenge of the angry white men. They didn't have the Tea Party moniker. And they shut down the government then, right?
Now, think about this: this is 1994. FOX News goes on the air in October 1996. So, they did not have FOX News egging them on. They didn't have this very organized, extremely well-funded wing of the party that was issuing primary challenges routinely to anyone that showed even the slightest inkling of compromise.
So, even before this was laid you in place to created disincentives for compromise, they already did it once. So, it's very hard to see how this is going to play out in a manner any more compromising or any more rational than the most kind - the most extreme pursuit of ideological purity.
OLBERMANN: So, what is the political calculation here by Mr. Boehner for instance? Is that - this hinting about shutting it down, is that what he thinks the base needs to hear to lock them in and keep them in charge, by the way, in case there's a Tea Party revolt against him as leader?
HAYES: Yes, I think that's exactly right.
Now, look, particularly down in the - you know, in the last week of an election, on both sides of the aisle, everybody's focused on their base because they're focused on turnout. And that's what we're seeing in terms of the choices that President Barack Obama has made in terms of who he's granting interviews to. It's Boehner going on "Hannity."
So, that is a dog whistle to the base. And the fact of the matter is, there are going to be expectations. I mean, everyone that goes to Congress, that sworn in on January, is going to be able to look at the example of Murkowski, whether she gets in or not, Crist, Mike Castle and Bennett in Utah. Those are four people that were taken out because they were perceived as insufficiently deferential to the most conservative elements of the coalition.
Now, even if some of them, you know, even if Murkowski is triumphant, ultimately, the fact of the matter is, no one wants a primary challenge. It's an incredibly effective way of enforcing a certain kind of ideological discipline and the people that show up with them, every single Republican member is going to have that lodge in their memory on day one.
OLBERMANN: What - speaking of Alaska, what do you make of that polling there which not only shows Murkowski ahead but McAdams significantly ahead of Joe Miller in third place?
HAYES: The Hays - I mean, the Hays poll is a little hard because polling is so difficult to rephrase everyone has said.
HAYES: What does seem reliable is that Miller has had two or three weeks of terrible press coverage and his approval/disapproval across the board, that's an easier thing to poll and his disapprovals have gone up. So, I think Miller is in real trouble.
The question is what mechanics of this write-in prove to be in terms of how many of those ballots come out actually counting for Murkowski. If McAdams ends up with winning the race, I mean, that really is a sort of shoot yourself in the foot moment for the Republicans.
OLBERMANN: And a spelling exam for the entire state of Alaska.
HAYES: Yes, and it's not an easy one.
OLBERMANN: M-U - OK, we got that part.
Chris Hayes of "The Nation" - thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And joining me now, as promised, the governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, who is running for Senate as an independent now.
Governor, thanks for your time tonight.
CRIST: It's great to be with you, Keith. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Thank you.
Let me start with a little breaking news here as we look at the latest polling in your state: Mr. Rubio's margin over you has been cut to seven. The Democrat, Mr. Meek, has slipped to 15 percent of the vote.
"Politico" reported tonight, the former President Bill Clinton twice persuaded Mr. Meek to withdraw to endorse you, but that Mr. Meek changed his mind. Mr. Meek's campaign says this article is not true. He's not withdrawing. You should withdraw.
Do you know anything about this that can add to our understanding of what's going on?
CRIST: Well, those discussions did occur. I can tell you that much. And I think that, you know, what's happening in Florida is the common sense Democrats, Republicans and independents understand that the way in which we defeat a right wing, radical in Marco Rubio who wants to overturn Roe versus Wade, wants to not have stem cell research to help those who have Alzheimer's, cancer, diabetes and other maladies that might be difficult.
And as I talk about, as it relates to you, regrettably, not you regrettably, but you and other people who he thought didn't love America enough that they should leave the county. That's kind of radical right extremism that people don't want, that the former president doesn't support, and that common sense Democrats, independents and Republicans do not support in the Sunshine State. And that's what's going on.
OLBERMANN: All the polling suggests that your closing that margin with Mr. Rubio comes from support that you're gaining from independents and Democrats. Do you think Florida voters have the right to know in advance of that vote on Tuesday which party you would caucus if elected to the U.S. Senate?
CRIST: They certainly have the right to know, Keith, how I feel about the issue if I have the honor of being elected. And I've consistently said here in the Sunshine State that if I am elected, I would ask very tough questions of both parties frankly. How are you going to help our economy in Florida? How are you going to help job creation in the Sunshine State? How are you going to help us get a national catastrophic fund that will protect Florida from storms in the future?
These are big issues. And depending on the answers I get from both, it would help that decision or not, to remain as an independent. It really depends on what the answers to those questions are for the next two years and the next Congress again if I have the honor of winning.
OLBERMANN: If a Florida voter hears that, though, and says, what sort of serious vetting you would do, that your decision would not be made until after the election, particularly with how narrow the Senate outcome might be on Tuesday - would you understand that it might appear to that voter that you might not be acting on principle but more opportunistically?
CRIST: Well, I'm acting on principle, because I want to do what's in the best interest of my fellow Floridians. I love them and I care deeply about them and deeply about my state and my country. And I would want to do what's in the best interest of them.
Depending upon the kinds of answers, because we don't know what the outcome is going to be, Keith. Nobody really does. There's all kind of polls and we don't know if they're accurate. And I think the reality is: that whatever the outcome is after the election, you have to ask those people that are in leadership positions what they can do to help my state. That would be, in fact, my job as a U.S. you senator from Florida.
And depending on those answers I would be able to make that decision in a prudent, practical, thoughtful way.
OLBERMANN: Do you think, in terms of being a veteran of practical politics, that having said what you have said about Mr. Rubio, having said what you have said about those parts of the Republican Party that have gone off in this direction that's unpalatable or unpalatable to you -
OLBERMANN: - that if they were to be in charge of the Senate and you were elected, instead of Mr. Rubio, is it still plausible that you could work with them after all that has happened between you and the Republican Party as it now constitutes itself?
CRIST: Well, candidly, it wouldn't be the easiest thing in the world. I mean, you know, I have to be honest with you. But, you know, it seems that you have to analyze things and facts and circumstances as they occur.
You know, some in the Republican Party have not been very kind to me since I decided to go independent in this race. And, you know, they have the right to do that. You know, I understand it.
You know, some people are so rigid in their partisanship that anybody who dares to do what most Americans I think want, that is a fiscal conservative, which I am, and a social moderate who's a live and let live kind of guy. You know, if you go independent, it's hard for those that are so partisan to understand that that's a genuine act. But it is in my case.
That's how I feel. That's where my heart is. And only I can truly know that. And those are the facts.
OLBERMANN: How permanent is your independence of the Republican Party? Is it plausible you could rejoin it in the near future, say?
CRIST: I'm not thinking beyond what's happening on Tuesday. I'm trying to earn the trust and confidence of the people that I love so much, the people of Florida, and see what the outcome is of this election. I love serving them.
I'd like to serve them in the United States Senate, give them an honest broker who cares about their future, who cares about the economy, who cares about job creation, better education, protecting the Everglades and our environment. That's why I'm running for the Senate.
OLBERMANN: On the national scope, given the way the Senate has been gridlocked would be the polite term to use, in the past couple of years, by the filibuster or the threat of the filibuster, if elected, no matter where you were, would you support filibuster reform?
CRIST: I support the opportunity for free speech. And, you know, filibuster is an awkward sort of thing. I understand that. But there may be times where that's appropriate in rare, limited circumstances.
What I think we ought to do is not have it be - you know, the 60 percent rule they have in the Senate doesn't make a lot of sense to me. You know, most people - most Americans believe that a simple majority is appropriate to pass things. I certainly would support that because I think that's the right thing to do.
OLBERMANN: I'll close where we began on that breaking news. I guess I should have asked this following my question about what you knew about those conversations about the possibility of Mr. Meek dropping out and endorsing you.
Do you think he's going to do that, or do you think all three of you will be fully engaged on the ballot on Tuesday?
CRIST: I don't think that he will. I think that all three of us will be on the ballot. But I think it's very clear to common sense Democrats, Republicans and independents that if they want somebody who's not for overturning Roe versus Wade, as Mr. Rubio is, who does support stem cell research, as I, if they want a common sense voice who wants to really break the partisan down, stop the gridlock, then Charlie Crist is their candidate.
OLBERMANN: I have one additional final question. As we're speaking here, the Meek campaign has been in touch with us and wanted to ask by proxy a question which is: how would you know there have been conversations about Mr. Meek dropping out?
CRIST: How would I know?
OLBERMANN: How would you know?
CRIST: Because I have you numerous phone calls with people very close to President Clinton.
OLBERMANN: Well, that's an answer.
OLBERMANN: Independent candidate for U.S. Senate, Governor Charlie Crist of Florida - one way or the other, it's been a pleasure. Thank you for your time, sir.
CRIST: My pleasure. Thank you, Keith. Good to be with you.
OLBERMANN: The attorney general of Kentucky prosecutes a Kentucky banker for not reporting the sexual abuse of a resident in a nursing home owned by the banker. The banker happens to be the banker to Karl Rove's secret slush fund campaign ad factory Crossroads. The attorney general then runs for Senate.
Guess who can produce unlimited number of ads attacking the attorney general running for Senate? Karl Rove, Jack Conway, Citizens United and Howard Fineman - next.
OLBERMANN: The plot to buy America is not all about money or philosophy. Sometimes it's just plain vengeance. His group's banker is being prosecuted by Jack Conway in Kentucky. So, his group rolled out ads attacking Jack Conway in Kentucky.
When she signs Arizona's "papers, please" law, she's just trying to increase the profits of a private prison industry. A startling new report.
The Tea Party congressional candidate who wants the violent revolution option on the table has now said something else almost that bad.
And getting women to vote against their own interests: She demeans them and her colleagues would deny them their reproductive rights, but women still leaning somewhat towards the GOP in the midterms.
OLBERMANN: In the past week, the last week leading up to Election Day, we've seen several stories emerge that slam home just how corrosive one Supreme Court ruling has been on the firewalls American democracy has relied upon to ensure that our elections cannot be bought - bought by a flood of anonymous millionaires - millionaires spreading smears and lies against any who stand in the way of them getting more money. The truth and their identities not it to see on the light of day until it's too late.
Our fourth story tonight: What the Supreme Court said would not happen when it opened the doors for unlimited secret spending has happened, when a split Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Citizens United case. Justice Kennedy justified the ruling by writing, quote, "With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosures of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporation and elected officials accountable."
What I said at that time was that the Citizens United ruling would change democracy as we knew it. Here's what my next guest, Howard Fineman, said about my assessment then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I have a confession to make. Sometimes I think you get a little turbo-charged, shall we say, about an issue.
FINEMAN: I think you're understating this one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I didn't know where he was going with that.
Case in point, though, Karl Rove's group Crossroads pouring more than $1 million into Kentucky, into ads that have been refuted by nonpartisan groups, in order to defeat Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway. Where is that million coming from? All we know is that the Crossroads bank is located not in Washington, but in Lexington, Kentucky. It's a bank run by this man, Terry Forcht, a right wing millionaire whose many businesses include a nursing home now being prosecuted for covering up the sexual abuse of an 88-year-old resident, prosecuted by the state's attorney general, Jack Conway, who was therefore unable to comment on all of this.
This is what Citizens United now allows, the pursuit of private agendas mostly but exclusively financial, behind the cloak of politics.
The biggest such cloak, of course, still belongs to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. What do they want? At their annual summit on tort reform this week, the Chamber called for weaker laws against American companies bribing foreign officials. And president, Tom Donohue, talked about pushing back against the trial bar, meaning lawyers who represent you against big companies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM DONOHUE, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: In 2008, the trial bar made a significant investment in the election and they have been working hard to get a return on that investment ever since. The trial bar is looking for a handout to further undermine the economy while lining their own pockets. You can't make that stuff up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But if you do make that stuff up, you just might get pushed back even from your own key note speaker, Kenneth Feinberg, the 9/11 and BP damages paymaster, who was invited there because of his experience circumventing traditional lawsuits.
(BEGIN VDIEO CLIP)
KENNETH FEINBERG, BP GULF COAST COMPENSATION FUND ADMINISTRATOR: I'm
a lawyer. I happen to believe that in the run-of-the-mill, everyday life in America, the legal system works pretty well. I can also cite examples like 9/11, where the victim compensation fund created by Congress only succeeded because the trial bar helped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Coming full circle on this with us, MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, senior political editor of "The Huffington Post."
Good to see you, Howard.
FINEMAN: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, of the three of us, who is as right, Justice Kennedy, who predicted transparency, and thank goodness for the Internet and the Google, me, in predicting the end of democracy, or you for saying I was understating it?
FINEMAN: I think we were all wrong. Justice Kennedy for sure. You probably because we're still here.
OLBERMANN: It's only October.
FINEMAN: It's only October. And I was wrong, too, because I think what we're seeing now is the beginning of a cycle like what we saw 100 years ago -
FINEMAN: - when the big corporations overplayed their hand, when the McKinley era, they owned the political system lock, stock and barrel. And eventually, a guy from here New York named Teddy Roosevelt came along and said, "These are my people, this is my class, but enough."
And I think I have enough faith in our country and democracy that what's going to happen is that the roves of the world are going to overplay their hand at some point. This election is not really going to bee about this topic but the next election will.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Of course, to get Teddy Roosevelt into the White House, you had to have a bunch of people who put him in the vice presidency because they thought that's where they could keep him and contain him.
OLBERMAN: Unfortunately, an assassination is involved in that equation. Not that we want to ever see another assassination in American politics. But I mean, there are a lot of - there are a lot of very strong bulwarks that have been built since this decision that would keep the next Teddy Roosevelt from getting elected president, aren't there? I mean, because of Citizens United?
FINEMAN: Well, there maybe.
OLBERMANN: Would you have to be elected and then suddenly say, aha, I'm a trust buster and rip the mask off?
FINEMAN: No, I don't think so. As I say, Keith, this election season, we're talking a lot about the money. And the money from all places, especially from the Forchtes of the world that you were discussing is important.
But the American people want to vote on the something else this time around. They want to vote on the economy and they want to vote on about their fear and for their jobs and their mortgage foreclosures, et cetera. They're not seeing from the beginning the connection between the economic circumstances they're in and the people who are supplying the money for this ad campaign. That conversation really can't happen with three weeks left in a midterm election.
But I think it's going to be incumbent upon President Obama and such Democrats are left in the Congress to say, look, let's unpack this a little bit. Let's go back a little bit here and see who's running this conversation, who's controlling the conversation and what we can really do about it - because it's related to what kind of country we have and what kind of economy we have.
It's hard to make that connection unless you start from the beginning of your presidency to do it.
FINEMAN: And don't forget, Barack Obama said, I'm going to come in, I'm going to change things because I'm me and we're young and we're going to do it - and he took on some of the powers that be. But he didn't really want to be that Rooseveltian kind of guy confronting all the economic powers in America. For whatever reason, he wanted to be the guy who was going to make peace with everybody.
FINEMAN: It's not going to work that way the next time.
OLBERMANN: Eight of the Supreme Court justices in Citizens United said that disclosure laws were vital. It wasn't just Justice Kennedy. Nonprofit groups, secret donors, not supposed to be primarily political in nature. So, between that intent and the IRS and the FEC, how can Rove and the Chamber and so and so forth get away with this even now?
FINEMAN: Well, because there's a lot of money involved, number one.
And as between the IRS and the FEC, there's a big hole.
The IRS looks from a tax lawyer point of view. OK, you're in this category, you're a not for profit group, fine.
The FEC is a wholly owned subsidiary, in my view, of the campaign industry. We're talking about - like most regulatory agencies in Washington. So, we're talking about maybe $3 billion in television advertising. They're going to tell half a billion of it that you can't play the game. I don't think so.
So, what the FEC said was, we're not going to make you disclose the donors to the 501 - these particular type of tax-exempt groups, unless the secret money is given specifically for a single ad, which is defining away all regulation of it. So, basically they punted. That's the answer to your question.
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of "The Huffington Post" and MSNBC as always, a pleasure to see you, sir.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The disturbing report from Arizona that the degradation that is the "papers, please" law there is much more cynical than just harassing Latinos, or caging voters. The true motive for it: profit.
OLBERMANN: Arizona's Papers Please law, the disturbing subtext just bubbling to the surface. It has been pushed by the Arizona private prison industry. First, the sanity break and the Tweet of the day. Dennis M. Swett (ph) tips us to the rage on the sports parts of Internet today; "best Halloween costume going, question mark." You ready? Here we go.
On the right would be the manager of the American League Champion Texas Rangers and Countdown viewer Ron Washington. On the left, that would be the costume. Ron will love that. This necessitates reprising the 2008 Halloween costume of the year. On the right, former Kansas football coach Mark Mangino. And on the left Baby Mangino.
It's the look in the eyes, actually. Let's play Oddball.
A public service announcement; if you're going to walk into a store and you think there is no door, please check first. Ow. Yes, this man fails to check for the door and goes face first into glass. Not sure what he was in such a hurry to buy, but this would be the perfect advertisement for Head-On. Head-On, apply directly to the forehead. Do not apply door to forehead.
Also, sad news from Germany, with the mood music supplied by our friend Anne Akiko Meyers and her 3.6 million dollar Stradivarius, Paul, the prognosticating octopus, is dead. Paul grew to Oddball fame by picking winners of World Cup soccer matches. He was a perfect eight for eight, appropriate number for an octopus, in fact.
But it was all - not all happy times for Paul, death threats, allegations of photo shopped results, and the pressure to pick the home town Germans to go all the way. All of this weighed on Paul, but he never let it show. He touched our hearts. If you bet along with him, you got your wallet touched too.
He died as he lived, inside a tank at the Sea Life Center in Ouberhausen, Germany. He is survived by his caretakers at the aquarium and his best friend, Sally the sea horse and Dick the goldfish. Paul the prognosticating Octopus was two years old.
Time marches on.
A cynical law gets its most cynical explanation yet. Arizona radicals pushed the Papers Please law for the harassment of immigrants at the behest of the privatized prisons industry, next.
OLBERMANN: According to the CBS station in it Tucson, in the tradition of Arizona politicians going back all the way to Senator John McCain, Governor Jan Brewer says she will suspend her reelection campaign next Monday. In lieu of the campaign trial, Brewer will be in an appeals court in San Francisco trying to get her Papers Please law restored.
In our third story, it's not clear how that will end. But tonight we know more than ever about how SB-1070 started. We know more about the private prisons that hope to profit from incarcerating undocumented Latinos. And we know more than ever about the ties those private prisons have with Arizona legislators who support that law.
Russell Pearce is the state senator who wrote SB-1070. He is also a member of a group called ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group of state legislators and organizations like the NRA, as well as big corporations like ExxonMobil and the Corrections Corporation of America, a company that runs private prisons.
Think Progress and the nonprofit magazine "In These Times" have previously reported that in December 2009, Pearce unveiled his original draft of SB-1070 at an ALEC meeting in Washington, D.C. The goal of Pierce's bill, you'll recall, was to grant local authorities broad power to detain and arrest people they suspected were in this country illegally.
Today, National Public Radio confirming that officials from Corrections Corporation of America were among the approximately 50 people in the room for the Pearce presentation, and according to the roll call afterwards, his bill was a hit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. RUSSEL PEARCE, ARIZONA LEGISLATOR: There were no votes. I never had one person speak up in objection to make this legislation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: For its report, NPR was able to review Corrections Corporation of America documents. They found, quote, "executives believe immigrant detention is their next big market. Last year, they wrote that they expect to bring in a significant portion of our revenues from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement," the agency that detains illegal immigrants. That would be ICE.
Pearce introduced his ALEC-approved bill to the Arizona state Senate in January. It received 36 co-sponsors. NPR also reports 30 of the 36 co-sponsors received donations over the next six months from prison lobbyists or prison companies.
In April, the Papers Please law was signed by Governor Jan Brewer. NPR's review of state lobbying records confirming two of Brewer's top advisers, her spokesman Paul Senseman and her campaign manager Chuck Coughlin are former lobbyists for private prison companies.
Arizona is not alone. Think Progress reporting in September that there are similar ties between private prison groups and candidates or legislators in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Colorado, Florida and Pennsylvania.
Let's go pack to where this all started in Arizona and Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva. Congressman, good to talk to you again.
REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D), ARIZONA: Good to talk to you, my friend.
OLBERMANN: Is there anything you can tell us about the relationship between these private prisons and the lawmakers who supported this monstrosity of a bill?
GRIJELVA: It is a wonderful I told you so moment. But, at the same time, we've been battered for the six months for our opposition to 1070, not just myself but others. And we don't know how much they've contributed to these independent expenditure campaigns, the private prison industry.
But you used the word citizens. It's disgusting, cynical and disgusting that they were bragging about there's going to be more women and children detained, so therefore this is a market for us.
And the fact of the matter is Russell Pearce and Jan Brewer made a decision to put this law in effect. It had had nothing to do with border security. It had nothing to do with the security of the state. It had to do with the profit line.
And, you know, I'm glad that NPR did this. I'm glad "In These Times" did that. Finally, it's catching some attention. But it comes at the end of a campaign when many of us have been battered for six months because of our opposition to 1070.
It is - you used the word cynical. It is past cynical. It is using
a very tough situation in the state of Arizona when it comes to immigration
using it to make a profit and using people, when we should be talking about how you we're going to reform this law. It's unbelievable.
OLBERMANN: It's almost extraordinary to believe that once we got past the original phony reason for it, which was security at the border, when obviously it didn't pertain to that whatsoever, that the real reason behind that was well, this is to intimidate people of Hispanic descent. Well, it turns out there's an even more base, cynical reason behind it.
Am I wrong about this? When they talk about making money, it's not - they're not talking about people who are going to be in jail because they've been convicted of anything. This would be making money off people who are held and then found to have violated no laws, correct? They make money whether something's guilty or innocent, correct?
GRIJALVA: It's filling beds and spaces, period. It's about detention. It's about building private prisons, filling them, taking a profit from the federal government, and with that profit continuing to expand the bottom line. The advisers for Jan Brewer are part of this. The people that wrote the law for Russell Pearce of part of this. They're all going to make millions of dollars off of this.
What expense? The division in Arizona, the division across this country. They get to go blithely walk away with their money, leaving behind the kind of social mess they've left all over this country. It is for me one of the most corrupt political acts. Because you use people. You use the emotions involved and you make a profit.
OLBERMANN: I can't insure your house for fire, because legally that would give me a motivation for wanting to see your house catch fire. I mean, the idea of private prisons - suddenly, we see the flaw in that idea, too, that if they're private prisons run for profit, there's going to be a motive to put people in prison who don't belong there.
GRIJALVA: That and the private prison industry here in Arizona has a wonderful test case. Murderers escaped from a private public. They haven't escaped from a public prison. That's Jan Brewer's agenda. That is the extreme right's agenda here.
I think - I hope people - I think people in Arizona are now seeing through the cloud and realizing that this is not just about immigration. This is not just about border security. There's an insidious reason we're involved in this really tough, tough issue. That is that somebody is making money off of it.
OLBERMANN: Lastly, any idea why the governor is going to San Francisco?
GRIJALVA: Well, she hasn't debated. She wants to avoid the questions that are pressing about her relationship to this private prison industry and why they wrote the law. The people on her staff that are running her campaign and her chief of staff, I'm assuming that she wants to avoid those questions.
OLBERMANN: Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona, it's always a pleasure and an education. I'm sorry it's always about something like this. Thanks for your time.
GRIJALVA: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The Republicans and Tea Party are fielding 71 congressional candidates, just congressional candidates, who are anti-choice. Yet in polling for the midterms, women are still leaning away from the Democrats. How to vote against your own interests.
Congressman mean Jean Schmidt is back and talking very adult things at a school to six-year-olds.
When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, she'll look ahead to the midterms with Michael Moore. We expect to hear the word stomping.
OLBERMANN: Seventy one would-be Republican congressman, seven would-be Republican senators, at least three would-be Republican governors are opposed to abortion even for rape or incest, yet the GOP is holding a slight edge among women voters in polling for the midterms.
That's next, first get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight's Worst Persons in the World.
The bronze to the postmaster general of the United States, John Potter. He has announced he will retire in December. His last act an attempt to raise postal rates and eliminate Saturday delivery. This after a loss of six billion dollars this year, which largely owes to so much business and communication now being done on the Internet. Mr. Potter announced his retirement via e-mail.
The runner-up, Congresswoman Jean Schmidt of Ohio. She addressed a Cincinnati Catholic school assembly and gave the students some of her opinions on politics of the day, including pro-life causes, abortion. The rational among us may not think very much of Congresswoman Schmidt, nor of her attempts to indoctrinate the kids, but as long as a similar opportunity was provided to her opponent, Mr. Yalamanchili, this is free speech in action.
Except for one detail. Some of the kids hearing Congresswoman Schmidt's opinions were in the first grade and were as young as six. The principal sent a note home to parents apologizing for the congresswoman talking about abortion.
But our winner, Stephan Broden, the self-described pastor running as the Tea Party and Republican candidate for the House in the Texas 30th. He's the guy, of course, who last week said violent revolution wasn't the Tea Party's first choice just at the moment, but it was still on the table. So crazy stuff from Broden comes with a pretty high bar.
Sadly, he has cleared it. He said Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wants to exterminate African-Americans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHAN BRODEN (R), CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS IN TEXAS: She said we - quote, "we passed Roe v. Wade in order to control certain people group," unquote. The woman is a eugenicist, and eugenicists believe that there are certain races that have privileges and are more evolved and developed than others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Mr. Broden is, of course, wrong. In July, Justice Ginsburg recapped the legal history of Roe v. Wade for the "New York Times" and mentioned that there was a fear at the time that Medicaid could wind up being used to coerce women, even women of individual demographic, geographic or ethnic groups. Justice Ginsburg went on to say none of that was the government's business, then or now. She was simply recreating the temper of the times.
But Mr. Broden has watched one too many episodes of the Glenn Beck show without wearing his helmet, so he apparently only hears every fourth or fifth word, and thus says such childish, slanderish things as that, and earns himself honors as today's Worst Person in the World.
OLBERMANN: They helped elect President Obama in 2008. They typically vote in favor of Democratic issues. Even House Speaker Pelosi says the party's final week get out the vote effort is all about them. Our number one story, why then are more women still supporting the GOP?
The latest "New York Times"/ CBS News poll showing Republicans have a four point advantage with women voters, marking a shift from last month, when Democrats were ahead by seven, suggesting were able to convince undecideds. There's the Republican argument on the issue of choice. At least three gubernatorial candidates oppose abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, plus seven Senate candidates, 71 running for the House.
The party that prides itself on so-called family values; 111 Republican incumbents and candidates support abolishing the Department of Education, not to mention a significant number of Republican candidates vowing to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, which would mean no guarantee of maternity care and no coverage for children with preexisting conditions.
Last night, one of those Republican candidates, Senator Vitter of Louisiana, spent much of the night defending his record on women at a debate sponsored by a coalition of women's groups. Vitter explained that he vetoed - or voted against, rather, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act because it was trial lawyer bonanza. He called his involvement in a prostitution ring a serious sin. When questioned on why an aide remained on his staff for two years after facing criminal charges related to an assault on a girlfriend, Vitter explained because there were very difficult stories from both sides.
He's ahead by 17.
Today, the spouse of a Republican Senate candidate is out defending the family business, its treatment of women. Vince McMahon, the wrestling guy, the husband of Linda of Connecticut, says he's fed up with, quote, malicious and misleading attacks on his wrestling empire, launching an Internet campaign.
Presumably, it's where one can stand up for his right to order a female performer to get on all fours and bark like a dog. Here is Linda McMahon defending this with ABC's Christiane Amanpour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, ABC ANCHOR: As a senator, if you could stop it, would you stop that kind of depiction against women on the public airwaves? Would you at least lobby or campaign against it?
LINDA MCMAHON (R), CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN CONNECTICUT: I do believe in the First Amendment rights.
AMANPOUR: So you don't think there's anything wrong with it?
MCMAHON: Content providers are clearly creating scenarios. From an entertainment point of view, I think that you either elect to go to a movie or you elect to watch a program. So I'm a strong proponent of First Amendment rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Joining me now, the spokeswoman for Emily's List, Jess McIntosh. Thanks for your time tonight.
JESS MCINTOSH, EMILY'S LIST: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: This looks like another example of the GOP convincing people to vote against their own interests. How do you explain this latest polling that pertains to women?
MCINTOSH: It's alarming, certainly. Fortunately, we're not seeing this when you poll actual races with specific candidates and localities. So if you're talking Murray v. Rossi, the gender gap is still very much alive, women still very much favor Democrats.
The trick this year is going to be turning them out to the polls. That's what we really need to focus on. In some cases, the gender gap is more pronounced than usual. And I think it's because you see Republican candidates, like the ones you were just discussing, who are more anti-woman even than the usual GOP.
OLBERMANN: In that context, which would seem obvious to anybody who looked at any of the messages from either side of this equation - has Democratic messaging not resonated with women for some reason this year? Or has Republican and Tea Party messaging simply been successful in keeping women from knowing about their actual message?
MCINTOSH: Yes, I mean, the truth is Democratic women are less enthusiastic about voting this year. So the good news is what we've learned at Emily's List, through our research, is it doesn't actually take that much to motivate them.
They need to know that their vote has implications and that they have the chance to defeat a candidate who has a radical, extreme, anti-woman or anti-family agenda. I think the news today, for the most part, isn't really speaking to Democratic women. They're not angry. They're not Tea Partiers. They like guaranteed maternity care. They like that their kids can't get thrown off the rolls if they have asthma. They don't want to see these things rolled back.
So there's a lot of noise out there. And I don't think that the information is necessarily reaching them. Our research told us that they need to hear it from a source that they trust. And that's why women making phone calls to other women over the next four days is so important.
OLBERMANN: I was just going to ask you, because yesterday, in a conference call with reporters, the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democratic House Congressional campaign leader, Mr. Van Hollen, both said that the key to however well or poorly the Democrats do from this point in, particularly in the House, women.
Is it too late for the Democrats to influence them? Or does it have to be in the grassroots way that you just suggested?
MCINTOSH: First off, they're entirely correct. Second, no. Get out the vote is about the final days and hours. And at Emily's List, we have been on the phones for weeks. We have the biggest member mobilization in our history. You can join us at EmilysList.org. These women need to hear from sources that they trust that their vote matters.
Nothing is more powerful than women talking to women.
OLBERMANN: Jess McIntosh of Emily's List, many thanks and there are your instructions, get on the phone. Thank you kindly.
MCINTOSH: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Let's update you on the story with which we began the newscast, about reports from Florida and from Governor Charlie Christ, the independent candidate for the Senate from Florida, that Kendrick Meek, the Democratic nominee, had been asked to and perhaps had agreed to drop out of the three way Senate race there that also includes the Republican Tea Partier Marco Rubio, at the behest - asked by President Bill Clinton to drop out.
The "Orlando Sentinel" quoted a spokesman for the Meek campaign, who said that Clinton and Meek had discussed it in some way. The Meek campaign now says that was a mischarecterization. A spokesman for Mr. Meek's campaign has denied the story to us, and asked us, if you saw earlier in the show my asking Mr. Christ how he knew about it, when he confirmed and said it was from sources that he had who were close to Bill Clinton.
They have denied the story outright. The update on all of this is that on tomorrow night's edition of Countdown, Kendrick Meek, the Democratic nominee, now polling at 15 percent in Florida for the Senate race there, will join us here. That's tomorrow.
That's October 28th. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END