'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, Nov. 4th, 2010
Video via MSNBC: Twitter Report
The toss: In sync
Guests: Matt Taibbi, David Corn, Josh Fox, Howard Fineman, Lewis Black
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The war between the GOP and the Tea Party? Michele Bachmann demands fiscal conservative, Rand Paul sings "Don't raise the debt ceiling" - Papa Smurf shuts them up. "You don't have much choice if you charged something on your credit card," says Senator DeMint. "You have to pay it and that's effectively what this debt limit is."
Matt Taibbi on the stunning sell-out of the Tea Party by the veteran politico they thought they could trust.
Stunning - except it keeps happening. Scott Brown, now the Tea Party's top target to be taken down in 2012.
Frack you: Karl Rove boasts climate is gone, while pushing insidious drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing - fracking literally undermining this country. Republicans are now planning congressional investigations of what they call the global warming hoax. Our guest: the director of the movie "Gasland."
Mitch McConnell and the new bipartisanship: McConnell insists health care reform be repealed. McConnell insists President Obama must be a one-termer. President Obama insists he should come over and find common ground.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: If the administration wants cooperation, it will have to begin to move in our direction.
(END VDIEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And what the hell is this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I am hopeful because this is our movement. It may take some renegades going rogue to get us there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMNNN: OK. I get what the bear is saying. For the rest, we'll ask Lewis Black, including the quote of today - the first time I've ever believed a word said by Governor Rick Perry of Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: George W. Bush did an incredible job in the presidency, defending us from freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Thursday, November 4th, 733 days until the 2012 presidential election.
And it took less than 24 hours after Republicans surged to power in Congress on a holy mission to reduce American debt for the Republicans' Tea Party king maker, Senator Jim DeMint, to announce to the Tea Party, "You've been had had."
Our fifth story tonight: DeMint is ready to increase the U.S. debt - and that's hardly the only sign that the GOP is already brushing off Tea Party's core concerns. The debt and ingratitude in a moment.
First, how the House Republicans are treating that chamber's Tea Party leader, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who founded the House Tea Party Caucus. She wants to join the House leadership now, and with Mike Pence stepping down as number three, House Republican Conference chair, there's a slot open in that GOP leadership rank.
House Republican Chair Michele Bachmann, who's with me guys?
Well, not Mr. Pence and not Eric Cantor, the expected new majority leader. He supports establishment Republican Jeb Hensarling for the job. But can an established candidate like Hensarling win support from self-proclaimed Tea Party House members? Yes.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz chose Hensarling over Bachmann. Chaffetz didn't even support Bachmann's creation of the Tea Party Caucus.
So, how about the queen of the Tea Party, the mother of all mama grizzlies? Is Palin willing to call out the House leadership for selling out the Tea Party? Does she support putting a real Tea Partier rather than another establishment Republican in the GOP leadership?
Her quote, "I'm taking a position on who gets to sit in the big boy highchair this morning for breakfast, Trig or Tripp? Leadership in the U.S. Congress this morning? Nah, not 'till after the Cheerios."
Which might explain why just four months after launching the Tea Party Caucus, Ms. Bachmann has now announced a new caucus, which she says would have the power to block bills from being passed, a caucus that would be irrelevant because Republicans have a solid majority now, unless she's using it to deny establishment Republicans that majority on bills she personally does not like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA (via telephone): That's right. That's why if enough of us can stick together - maybe even 20 to 25, we can stop any bill from passing. We need 218 votes to pass a bill and Republicans have now more than 218. But if you have a very small group of members, 20 to 25 members, if we can hang together and if an unconstitutional bill comes before us, something like a stimulus or a government takeover of health care, we can stop that bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Glenn Beck at his finest.
But maybe that's all power plays. What about the substance? Senator
DeMint may be in Dutch with the GOP for going all mavericky on them,
supporting Tea Party candidates too far out of the mainstream for even a
tsunami to carry to shore. But now that the elections are over, the Tea
Party's patron saint has just announced that on the most fundamental issue
government spending and debt - he's playing ball.
One day after the election, DeMint told the "National Journal" he will not stop Congress from raising the debt ceiling above $14.3 trillion - something the U.S. must do to avoid defaulting on its debt payments and traumatizing the global economy. You don't have much choice DeMint says - adding that even if he did just admit he has no other option, he might try to get some spending cuts in return - a tactic that the Tea Party hates, compromise, to prevent an outcome the Tea Party wants: a government shutdown.
Last night, I used an analogy about the Tea Party asking the GOP, can we come over tonight? And the GOP responding, not tonight, I got a big meeting in the morning.
Now we know who the big meeting was with - JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs. Literally after the big Tea Party night, the big no more bank bailouts victory, the expected the new chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Spencer Bachus, e-mailed the new banking regulators, telling them not to enforce the new Volcker Rule, preventing banks from playing the same risky financial games that led to the mortgage crisis and the recession.
Why let the banks resume this stuff? Because JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs told him it would hurt their profits, specifically including one Goldman Sachs managing director who, quote, "testified that the Volcker Rule will easily work to the competitive disadvantage of the U.S. institutions and ultimately lead U.S. firms to find ways to game the system."
In other words, Goldman Sachs made so much money after Clinton and the Republican Congress kill the old rules, that the new rules will just make them game the system. So, just don't bother enforcing the rules.
With us on this tonight, "Rolling Stone" contributing editor, Matt Taibbi, also the author of "Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids and the Long Con that is Breaking America."
Great thanks for coming in, Matt.
MATT TAIBBI, ROLLING STONE: Thanks a lot, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Jim DeMint is open to increasing the federal debt, in the broadest sense of that term.
TAIBBI: What a surprise.
OLBERMANN: But the Tea Party should hate this. But is it because they don't understand what a Jim DeMint does?
TAIBBI: I think - I mean, everybody should have seen this coming. This is what we saw under the Bush years. The Republicans made an awful lot of noise about cutting spending. What they intended to do was make - threaten to cut social programming. But in the end, they always increased the budgets. Year after year, we have expanded and an expanded federal government.
And that's exactly what they're doing here. They're going to promise cuts on the one hand. But in the end, they're really not going to do it.
OLBERMANN: But the debt and cutting it is the litmus test of litmus tests for the Tea Party. What does it say when Jim DeMint says to it, to them, "Well, yes, we have to raise our debt, I thought you knew that"?
TAIBBI: Well, I mean, that - that is the Tea Party. There's really nothing else besides that. If that's the core issue of the entire movement and if it's invalidated within 24 hours of the election, I mean, what does that tell you about what this was all about?
OLBERMANN: Is there a rationalization that's going to be provided inside the Tea Party, that this is somehow - yes, we meant for it to happen, to quote Peewee Herman?
TAIBBI: Well, no, I think there's going to be a period of disillusionment here. And I think what they're going to find out, especially with this announcement with, you know, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase - ultimately, they're going to find a way to make enemies even of these people who they considered their own champions. They're going to - they're going to band together and like Michele Bachmann, they're going to back themselves into a corner again.
But that announcement of Spencer Bachus is really remarkable.
OLBERMANN: What exactly is he giving Morgan and Chase?
TAIBBI: Well, why do you have a Volcker Rule? The Volcker Rule is designed to prevent federally insured depository institutions like banks from engaging in high risk casino gambling. Because what happens when they blew themselves up in a speculative bubble we have to rescue them, the taxpayer has to bail them out.
The Volcker Rule was specifically designed to prevent the eventuality of huge taxpayer bailouts. And 24 hours after the election, we did this. They're already talking about this. It's going to lead it to more bailouts. It's amazing that the Tea Party voters don't understand this.
OLBERMANN: But, in some - what do you think happened here? I mean, did Republicans just sell the Tea Party out, or did they sell themselves to two masters, the big public front of the Tea Party and more importantly, the high bankrolls that actually are running and essentially manufacture the Tea Party?
TAIBBI: I mean, I think it's a little of both. I think - I view the Tea Party as essentially a giant bait-and-switch movement. They sold all these voters on the idea that they're going to get the government off their backs. But in the reality, what's going to end up happening is they're going to get the government off Goldman Sachs' backs. That's what this is really all about. And I think the people are going to be very surprised to find out what the particulars are.
OLBERMANN: Not to generalize, but are the members of the Tea Party, actual people who have complaints and stood there with signs, even if they really didn't know why they were there, there was anger and they have some basic hints. Are they - are they sharp enough to know they've been sold down the river this quickly?
TAIBBI: I don't think they'll figure it out right away. I think they will figure it out by the end of these two years when they don't see that there's been any action on the fronts that they really, really care about or they purport to care about. Again, these are the same people who said they cared about spending during the Bush years and ignored it year after year when these budgets were expanded.
OLBERMANN: Matt Taibbi, contributing editor of "Rolling Stone" - once again, thanks for coming in tonight.
TAIBBI: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Of course, none of this should be read to mean that the Tea Party is not also taking aim at the Republican establishment. The movement empowered by Republicans is now targeting some for removal. The right wing blog Red State is posting list of all 10 Republican senators up for re-election in 2012, calling them potential Tea Party targets. Nor is it just occasional aisle crossers like Maine's Olympia Snowe.
The list includes last year's Tea Party darling number one, Scott Brown of Massachusetts. The list targeting these New Englanders, posted the morning after House Republicans ended their total shout-out of seats in New England. The blog naming Bob Corker, Orrin Hatch, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Dick Lugar and Roger Wicker as, quote, "better targets even than Snowe."
Let's get a report from the front lines of this non-shooting civil war, from "Mother Jones" magazine, Washington Bureau chief, David Corn. Also, of course, a columnist of PoliticsDaily.com.
Good evening, David.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Why the list, why now, why so quickly?
CORN: Well, I think it's never too early for a circular firing squad.
OLBERMANN: Yes, exactly.
CORN: I mean, they just can't wait, they can't wait long enough to start going after their own.
Now, to begin with, let's be fair, there was just one blogger who put out this list. It's not as if Sarah Palin, you know, has targeted these people. She's still too busy with Frosted Flakes or Cheerios, or whatever it may be. And I think there's a long time to go before the Tea Party is going to start, you know, turning on people. Although, you know, there are some who would rather have ideological warfare within the movement than against the opposition.
OLBERMANN: The list - if I'm on that list, I would be thinking, boy, I'm going to have to move right. Even if I'm Scott Brown and I was already on the good list a year ago. Then I think about what happened to Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell and presumably Mr. Miller in Alaska, Mr. Buck.
What do - what do I do? I have to win the primary, first, right?
How far can - how many times can you sell the same soul?
CORN: Well, first, don't be a witch -
OLBERMANN: Yes. Thank you.
CORN: - or ex-witch. OK? There are some basics here.
But, you know, 2012 also is going to be a presidential year. There's going to be a lot going on. The Tea Party movement will also be two years older. For a lot of those people, those are two very important years. And so, we don't know how much energy they're going to have to be involved in a presidential race, to be involved in going after people like Orrin Hatch or Scott Brown, who locally may not have a lot of opposition from conservative activists. I know the argument against some of these people, but they're certainly not RINOs in the way that Mike Castle was, Republicans in name only.
Olympia Snowe is the only really moderate on this list. Scott Brown coming a close second. But, you know, if they want to go after conservatives, that may end up helping - you know, make things even crazier in a crazy presidential year.
OLBERMANN: What does this all do in terms of the pressure on Congress that's coming in in January, or even the incumbents going to move right out of this sense of "I don't want to be on a list somewhere"?
CORN: Well, first, there's going to be tremendous amount of gridlock. So, they may not be a lot of movement anyway. In the Senate, who knows what will come up for a vote, if anything? Remember how much trouble the Democrats had when they had a bigger majority.
I assume on the House side, John Boehner will figure out a way to bring things up for votes that will get most of his caucus, if not all of it, despite what Michele Bachmann says.
So, you know, every politician, by and large, is going to be looking at their own backyard and making their own calculations. What - I think what will happen now is that people will look sooner than later - these are Republicans - for any signs of a Tea Party eruption in their district or state and try to move to cut it off. But, you know, it may not happen everywhere.
OLBERMANN: Is there - I mean, we've seen one thing that Tea Party is good at, is making lists and putting people on them and pulling the rug out from people like Scott Brown. And not to say he didn't deserve it from their point of view.
But does Jim DeMint seem to be the establishment politico who worm his way into this movement as quickly as he could and as successfully as anybody might have been able to do, and now, he's the one first out of the gate going, yes, about government debt, well, it's going to go up, sorry, basic fundamental premise of the whole operation, we lied? What happens to him?
CORN: Well, you know, I think he goes back to his, you know, to his people, the Tea Partiers, and says this is not the place to fight. You know, do you want - do you want to bring the government, you know, to create a global economic crisis? Now, Rand Paul might say, yes, I do. When he gets in there in January, he may have the chance down the road to do what Jim DeMint won't, throw a gigantic monkey wrench into the whole global economic system.
By and large, I think there are going to be a lot of symbolic moves, a lot of some substantive moves that they can throw to the Tea Party types on keep them satisfied. I mean, politicians know how to do this. And so, I'm not surprised what DeMint did. I don't think it's fatal for him or the relationship between Republicans and the Tea Party groups, who - as Matt has already said - you know, have shown that they're willing to fall for almost anything.
So, it's not like they're out there looking for, you know, Jim DeMint to sell them out. There's already a big sell-out. We've seen on the banking issues. That's going to continue. They're not the most - I don't know - perceptive group sometimes.
OLBERMANN: The sharpest-tasting tea in the tea store. OK, that's the best I can come up with.
CORN: Yes, I mean - we'll do better next time.
OLBERMANN: Yes, well - all right. David Corn, Washington editor of "Mother Jones" - great thanks, David.
CORN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Not even the Friday before the midterms, after the midterms, Karl Rove is already promising the climate change deniers, the polluters, the big oilmen, the witch hunters, quote, "climate is gone." The Republican House ready to run rampant over the environment, with Josh Fox, the director of "Gasland" - next.
OLBERMANN: Climate is gone. He means efforts to prevent climate change are gone and that Republican investigations of a supposed hoax will replace them. You might as well have said that the climate is gone.
Once again, he honestly explains what compromise means, agreeing with him. And instead of kicking him in the ass, the president agrees to sit down and chat.
And he's here trying to explain the inexplicable - the Sarah Palin word salad commercial.
And this Texas governor who won escape truth award for the quote of the day, or maybe the year, on how President Bush kept us safe from freedom.
OLBERMANN: As easily as tossing off a dark cloak to reveal part of his true self - another one - Karl Rove went before an energy industry group the day after the midterm elections and declared this: quote, "Climate is gone."
In our fourth story: It's not enough that climate change legislation has no chance of passing in the next Congress, Republican climate science-deniers will hit their apex by holding hearings on what they claim is the scientific fraud of climate change.
You may recall that the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration recently did something that is potentially significant on this issue - that is to classify carbon dioxide as a pollutant which could then be regulated. But Republicans plan to counter that by trying to strip the EPA of its authority.
And according to "Newsweek," the GOP will hold high profile hearings to investigate the, quote-unquote, "scientific fraud" behind global warming or climate change.
Congressman Barton, Republican of Texas, the BP apologist, has already made his bid to become chairman of the House Energy Committee. He sent a letter to incoming House freshmen, reading in part, quote, "As ranking member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, I have led the charge against radical cap-and-trade legislation."
But that sounds almost passe compared to the gusto of Mr. Rove. The day after the election, Rove was the keynote speaker at a conference ands trade show of natural gas industry insiders. Rove told the Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Conference, quote, "Climate is gone." And he said that there was no need to worry about hydraulic fracturing. That it would be placed under federal regulation because it wouldn't be.
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a kind of drilling. More on the emerging nightmare of fracking in a moment.
The reason that fracking is not regulated by the federal government - this guy, then -Vice President Cheney. In 2005, with his allegiance as ever to his old pal Halliburton, Mr. Cheney made sure that fracking would be exempt from environmental oversight laws on the federal level. All part of the Bush-Cheney energy act.
Let's bring the director of the documentary "Gasland," Josh Fox.
Josh, thanks for your time tonight.
JOSH FOX, "GASLAND" DIRECTOR: Hi, Keith. It's great to be here.
OLBERMANN: For someone who may not have heard of fracking, or may have heard it or not really understood what it means, give us the simple explanation of what it is.
FOX: Well, hydraulic fracturing is a new form of drilling for natural gas. It forces down millions of gallons of water laced with toxic chemicals, and there's about 600 different toxic chemicals at such high pressures that it actually breaks apart the rock where the natural gas is trapped in these deep reserves and that brings the gas to the surface.
The problem is, that these chemicals, fracking fluids, are turning up in people's water supplies as is the natural gas from those formations, allowing people to light their water on fire.
We're currently in the largest natural gas drilling campaign in history. It's going on in 34 states. It's proposed for places like the New York City watershed, 50 percent of New York state, 65 percent of Pennsylvania is at risk.
And what Karl Rove is doing is he's pushing this natural gas drilling campaign on people, even though as you see right here, there are very, very destructive effects for water supplies.
We have a very limited amount of water. And once you contaminate an aquifer, you can't go back. You can't clean it. You'll have to treat that water at the surface.
So, even if you get five or 10 years of natural gas out of this unconventional gas place, which is this huge push, that T. Boone Pickens and Rove and others are trying to push forward, you're going to be at a net loss of energy and in money, at the end of the day, in a very short, when you have to clean up all of America's water. I mean -
OLBERMANN: So, ultimately, we're headed towards - because of this - everything, every supply of water looking something like that river in Cleveland in 1970 where there was actually a blaze in the middle of the damn thing?
FOX: It's an enormous amount of territory. You're talking about huge areas of the Northeast. And I think that's why this is a big story right now, because it affects so many people's water supply. This drilling, like you said - since the Safe Drinking Water Act exemption that skyrocketed all throughout the West, and you're seeing these kinds of reports really add up right now, thousands of cases of contamination.
In my film, "Gasland," we document that. I traveled to 24 states. The film covers about 10 different states. And it also really exposes the plan to deregulate this industry.
And this is something that the Obama administration hasn't changed. And it doesn't - it seems that Karl Rove is telling the polluters not to worry. But if you're interested in consuming clean water in America, I would say it's time to worry. And it's also time to get act upon this.
And you can see those drilling areas at our Web site:
GaslandtheMovie.com. there's a map right on the front page there.
OLBERMANN: So, essentially, what we're dealing with here is with all
the great success of offshore drilling, we basically have an onshore version of unregulated offshore drilling going on across this country, all across this country?
FOX: Yes, this is a nightmare. This is onshore drilling.
And I just did a swing throughout Texas, and a lot of people are facing this in Pennsylvania. I'm facing this myself. I started this documentary, remember, when I got a gas natural lease in the mail, in the upper Delaware River basin, which is part of that watershed area that provides water to New York City and Philadelphia.
People in Texas - their water is so contaminate, the air around them
because the fracking actually pollutes the air enormously.
There's a woman I interviewed last week who has frack fluids, these carcinogenic chemicals and neurotoxins, in her lungs simply from just living around this area.
And the gas development is enormously polluting for the air as well. So, the "climate is gone" comment is probably a Freudian slip. If we continue to produce natural gas in this way, the myth of clean-burning natural gas is just that.
This is - this is - would be the very, very wrong direction for America to head in. And this is what natural gas is doing. They're competing with renewable energy for America's energy future and for the world's energy future.
OLBERMANN: It will be fine as long as we fine an alternative to water in our bodies.
Josh Fox, the director of the documentary "Gasland," which is a remarkable piece of work -
FOX: Thank you so much.
OLBERMANN: - thanks for your time tonight.
FOX: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The Mitch McConnell speech to the Heritage Foundation today - it was not as bad as we thought it was worse - and instructs the president how to compromise with Republicans by surrendering which he may do. Next.
OLBERMANN: Mitch McConnell stays on message, compromise means agree with him. The president stays on message, he might just do that.
First, the sanity break and tweet of the day from crutnacker, "Who knew George Bush and Taylor Swift's autobiographies would have so much in common?" Nice little six degrees of Kanye West going on there.
Let's play "Oddball."
OLBERMANN: We begin in Tokyo with "Oddball's" continuing coverage of creepy robots. Today, we meet the Android F, and F stands for freaky. Using cameras, the robot reads and reacts to different facial expressions with scary precision. She even - can a robot have a gender? I don't really want to know about her agenda. She or it is even capable of holding a conversation.
A few bugs still need to be worked out. Right now, all the robot is capable of doing is repeating the same thing over and over. Right now, all the robot is able to do is repeat the same thing over and over. I'm sorry. But the fact that it actually blinks still puts Android F a step above Michele Bachmann.
In San Francisco, I don't know if you heard about this, and judging by the TV ratings, you haven't, but the San Francisco Giants won the World Series the night before last. Yesterday, the town held a parade to celebrate the victory. That was Monday, wasn't it?
Thousands of Giants faithful came out and tried to grasp the excitement of victory yesterday. Specifically, first baseman Aubrey Huff, shown here. No, he's not doing what you think he's about to do. Instead, he's just pulling out the key to the - nice work, Huff. Instead, he's still just pulling out the key to the Giants' victory. Move over rally monkey. Here's the rally thong.
All through the playoffs, he pulled a Nuke Lalouche (ph), and just like in "Bull Durham," it worked. Just remember, the rose goes in the front.
Congratulations to the Giants. Please, my friend Ken Burns, omit the rally thong from the next edition of the "Baseball" documentary.
Time marches on.
Senator McConnell says it again; compromise between the White House and Republicans means the White House must agree with the Republicans. The White House still doesn't seem to get how all this ends.
OLBERMANN: The first clue for psychologists is the patient doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result. In our third story tonight, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has today rather forthrightly restated what compromise means to him: the president needs to comprise all his principles, promises, commitments, goals, ideas, platform planks and personal beliefs, and do exactly as McConnell tells him. Then they can talk.
Once again, the president thinks he sees an opening.
At the right wing Heritage Foundation, laying out his instructions to the president, McConnell reprised his comments from last week. The Republicans' main goal over the next 24 months won't be jobs. It will be making sure the president does not get a second term.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: Over the past week, some have said it was indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term. But the fact is if our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill, to end the bailouts, cut spending, and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all of those things is to put someone in the White House who won't veto any of those things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: He's lying there, of course. He didn't say top political priority. He said something else was the top political priority. He said getting Obama out of office with one term was the top priority, period. So what the Republicans will plan on is forcing votes on repealing the White House's key legislation accomplishments. The first stop - surprise - health care reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: On health care, that means we can and should propose and vote on straight repeal repeatedly.
We'll also have to work in the House on denying funds for implementation, and in the Senate on votes against its most egregious provisions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: McConnell admitting that a rapid repeal is highly unlikely. But even so, the legislation would serve as a useful tool for those useful tool Republicans with which to hammer the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: We may not win every vote against targeted provisions, but we can compel the administration officials to attempt to defend this indefensible health spending bill and other costly government-driven measures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Incidentally, the CBO finds that repealing health care would add 140 billion dollars to the deficit, which undermines McConnell's assertion that Republicans are actually serious about reducing the deficit. At the same time, the minority leader attempted to inoculate his party from any responsibility in their continued obstructionism, and then gave the White House another ultimatum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: As I see it, the White House has a choice. They can change course or they can double down on a vision of government that the American people have roundly rejected.
If the administration wants cooperation, it will have to begin to move in our direction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Across town, the president, of course, extending a White House invitation to the Democratic and Republican leadership in Congress, hoping yet again for bipartisanship.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is going to be a meeting in which I want us to talk substantively about how we can move the American people's agenda forward. It's not just going to be a photo op. Hopefully it may spill-over into dinner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst and the senior political editor of the "Huffington Post," Howard Fineman. Howard, good evening.
HOWARD FINEMAN, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Forgive me. I have to deal with this headache immediately. So I'm doing this right at the moment. The Democrats of last week pounced when Mr. McConnell said his stated goal was making Obama a one-term president. He said it was his priority, not his political priority.
Today so far, crickets. Is there constraint? Is the White House saying don't say anything? What is going on? Why is it so silent?
FINEMAN: Well, one thing, it's a heck of a way to treat somebody who's invited you to dinner, by Mitch McConnell, saying I can't wait for you to get kicked out of that house you're going to have us over to. I thought Robert Gibbs at the White House briefing today was - he wasn't quite crickets, but he wasn't much louder than that.
They're being very low voiced over at the White House because they do have this meeting on the 18th that may or may not turn into dinner. I think it's supposed to be dinner. And I always - my ears always perk up when a politician denies something he hasn't been accused of. The president said this is not a photo op. In fact, that's pretty much what it is, with a lot of spin doctoring in between.
OLBERMANN: What will it take for the president to say, you know, even if we're going to have dinner, and even if it's going to be a really good dinner - because the best restaurant in Washington is clearly in the White House. But, I mean, to just say, look, this moral high ground that I want to maintain at all times about being the one willing to compromise, it hasn't gotten me a lick of spit in nearly two years. I'm not going to do this anymore. Is that possible in either of our lifetimes?
FINEMAN: I think it is possible. I'm tempted to say the president will change his mind after ten straight subpoenas from Darrell Issa on the House side. More than that, I think the president's strategy here is to seem to be the reasonable one and wait for the other side to be clearly unreasonable in the minds of the American people.
But the problem the president's got is that the Republicans have decided to pursue the strategy. They're going to keep pursuing it. They were sort of in a way rewarded for it on Tuesday night.
OLBERMANN: Do you know how the president defines clearly unreasonable? Is it coming to the White House and trying to burn the place down?
FINEMAN: Well, I - listen, I think he's up - he's in a situation here where Mitch McConnell, from the very beginning, even before the president was inaugurated, made it clear what his goal was, which is to make him a one-term president. Mitch McConnell was firmed up in that view of how to operate by the speeches he gave against closing Guantanamo.
It seems like a small footnote. But having covered him for a long time, he went out there early in the administration and gave like 20, 30 speeches about Guantanamo. Then people came around - nobody paid attention. Then people came around to his point of view. That confirmed in Mitch McConnell's mind that relentless, total opposition on all fronts is the way to go.
They're going to make the center piece of it, Keith, health care, because by agitating against the health care law, it takes up space. It gives the Republicans the sort of philosophical argument with which to talk to the Tea Party. It's more convenient for the Republicans to talk about repealing or scaling back health care than to talk about jobs, the economy and real deficit reduction, which would involve perhaps looking at Social Security and Medicare, which the Republicans really don't want to do.
OLBERMANN: That then gets to the final question. Why does the president continue to turn the other cheek and let paper mache Republicans like Mitch McConnell make him look bad?
FINEMAN: I don't have an answer to that, other than in rereading the history of the Clinton years, I think Barack Obama - and he was reading Taylor Branch's book, and has perhaps come to the viewpoint that the Republicans overplayed their hand, that Newt Gingrich behaved like the guy who was in charge, and by surrendering the stage to Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton ultimately, after a year of very clever politics, prospered.
There are two problems with that. First of all, the Republicans are reading the same history. They're trying to be very careful not to stride on the stage and say we're going to fix the economy; we're going to get you all a job, et cetera, et cetera. They're focusing on still being antagonistic on health care.
Also, I'm not convinced that Barack Obama has the political chops that Bill Clinton had.
OLBERMANN: Plus, when they let him back on the stage, they then impeached Mr. Clinton.
FINEMAN: After he was re-elected.
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman, the senior political editor. Well, that's good. That's a great outcome of the reelection, too. Howard Fineman, senior political editor of the "Huffington Post," thanks for being with us tonight. I'm sorry if I yelled at you. It's not your fault.
FINEMAN: That's OK.
OLBERMANN: She complains about Republicans eating their own. We know from her past comments that she's opposed to that subject. Lewis Black on the word salad with pictures. Sarah Palin builds a triumphal commercial. What about the president?
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, she'll look at why the right may not be tall enough to ride the Internet. The incredibly untrue story of the price tag of the presidential trip to India. Her guest is John Hodgeman.
OLBERMANN: Opposed to extending unemployment benefits, now unemployed. Net neutrality nurturers neutralized. And good old W. defending water boarding and defending us from freedom. Not appearing in your run down tonight, yet in our number two story.
Net neutrality first; 95 House and Senate candidates pledged support for measures that would preclude multi-tiered billing for the Internet. All of the, all ninety-five lost. Foremost of them, veteran Virginia Congressman Rick Boucher gone. You don't have mail.
Meantime, in the first vote on them, 16 House Democrats opposed extending unemployment benefits past 99 weeks; 13 of them lost. Yes, they are unemployed, a base irony, to quote Mr. Hicks, but still a hoot.
You know, I was just saying this morning, you just don't hear enough about cannibalism in American politics nowadays. Fortunately, Christine O'Donnell has corrected that, blaming her loss on it. "In other areas where the establishment Republican didn't win their primaries, the local Republican parties united right away. Solidarity goes a long way. Unfortunately, that never happened in Delaware."
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CHRISTINE O'DONNELL, DEFEATED CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN DELAWARE: It's a symptom of Republican cannibalism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: So no cannibalism, no sex, no masturbation, no witchcraft.
What makes her a conservative again?
And then from Mr. "How Can We Miss You if You Won't Go Away, Mr. Bush confesses he authorized water boarding Sheikh Mohammed - well, writes it in his memoirs, anyway. Asked the CIA - or says the CIA asked him if it was OK and he said, quote, "damn right."
Mr. Bush is also the subject, albeit not the creator, of the hands down quote of the day. His successor as governor of Texas was on the "Today Show" today - always hated that phrase - and passed one of the greatest moments of unintended truth gas in the history of the republic. Governor Perry?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: George W. Bush did an incredible job in the presidency defending us from freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I could say something about Sigmund Freud here, but I know you'd just rather hear that again, so you can you be sure you ain't all hat, no cattle, and your brains ain't falling out your Stetson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: George W. Bush did an incredible job in the presidency defending us from freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I'll just requote the former president, "Damn right."
Lewis Black next.
OLBERMANN: It's getting ugly over there at Fixed News. Today, it was conservative commentator Mort Kondracke's turn to badmouth Sarah Palin. He told "Politico" that Palin is, quote, a joke, even within her own party. In our number one story, as they look for Mr. Kondracke now, lucky for Sister Sara comedian Lewis Black is here to defend her honor, maybe.
The latest defection coming in the wake of Karl Rove's assertion that Palin lacked the gravitas to become president because of a reality TV show. She previously parried Rove's thrust by invoking the Gipper. "Umm, wasn't Ronald Reagan an actor? Wasn't he in "Bed times for Bonzo," Bozo or something?"
Check and mate. She wasn't done with Reagan just yet. Today, in a "National Review" op-ed, Palin prescribing lessons learned and the way forward following the midterms. Palin's advice to 2012 candidates, have an intelligent message, and fight for your right to be heard.
As for old Dutch, "the Tea Party reminded us that Reaganism is still our foundation. I think the Gipper is smiling down on us today, waving the Gadsden Flag."
If that imagery isn't smug enough for you, Sarah PAC has a web ad titled "Together," touting Palin's winning candidates. That means no O'Donnell, Angle, or Joe Miller, but there is a guy with an axe and a lot of cliches. And there's a bear at the it end.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, FMR. GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: This our movement. This is our moment. This is our morning in America. It may take some renegades going rogue to get us there. We've got to do this together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: All right, I got the last part. Joining us now, comedian Lewis Black. His third book "I'm Dreaming of a Black Christmas." which according to the "Washington Post" on book jacket is "surprisingly thoughtful."
LEWIS BLACK, COMEDIAN: Isn't that special?
OLBERMANN: Congratulations on that.
BLACK: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Good to see you.
BLACK: Good to see you. Nice grizzly shot.
OLBERMANN: What the hell was that?
BLACK: I think what's interesting is the edit - is after the edit, she shoots the grizzly from a helicopter. She's - it's unbelievable. It's truly - I did every possible type of drug as a child. And nothing prepared for me this, Keith. Nothing. Even LSD in my wildest dreams could I have imagined -
OLBERMANN: It just finally hit me what I think I'm hearing now. When you hear it - you watch this whole thing, it's worth listening to these disconnected pieces of her verbiage, this - the proverbial world salad with picture to it. It just struck me listening to it now, she's the voice mail lady. You have two messages from - first message. It's just - none of it - could she be a computer program and we just don't know?
BLACK: What I do believe is that she's actually not real. That's the way - that's the only way my mind - it's the only way my mind can deal with it. She's a fictional character come to life. I used to say in the act, what was she - she reminds me of - it would be - if it was a movie, this would be terrific. If this was a film, it would be wonderful.
Like Jimmy Stewart, you know, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." But the sad fact is Jimmy Stewart would be a better leader and he's dead.
OLBERMANN: Geesh. The "Huffington Host" report today - the first episode of the new reality show - have you heard this?
BLACK: Don't say it aloud.
OLBERMANN: It's online. It's online. And it starts with her complaining about invasion of privacy. Obviously, she's missing the deal, isn't she, with the reality show? You have a reality show, you have sold your privacy, right? Hope you got a flipping receipt.
BLACK: Yes, she's on - it's the Learning Channel. That's another one. You know, it's another kind of - how on the Learning - not the Learning - it can't be the Learning - the Learning Channel can't, in all good conscious, put that on and then call themselves the Learning Channel.
OLBERMANN: But maybe it's - we always think of it as learning for the audience. Could this be a case where it's learning for the host?
BLACK: It could be. I hope. She - the whole concept of her doing the reality show is more than - and then to hear them talk about her as a possible candidate for president is - we've now reached epic - it's epically insane. I used to think - you know, you kind of go for a long time as you grow older, well, that's a little nuts; that's quirky; that's odd.
Now it's just bizarro. It's like it's the - when I was with the - you know, in the old days when you'd go to see the tent where the oddities were, you know, the fat lady and the bearded lady and all of that stuff. Now it comes to us. It's not a 24-hour news cycle.
OLBERMANN: No. And it's looking for our vote. Now another thing, in the last couple of days, the president joked about having a Slurpee summit with John Boehner, the new speaker of the House presumptive. Is there, A, enough Slurpee in the world to settle our political differences? And would it be orange?
BLACK: It would have to be. If he melted a lot - I watched his - that crying thing.
OLBERMANN: That latest crying thing.
OLBERMANN: He was just crying because he's speaker of the House.
Good, I'm glad you're honored by the position. I like the emotion of that.
But he cried at the unveiling of a Reagan statue three years ago.
BLACK: He did not.
OLBERMANN: Yes. We showed it the other night. There have been four episodes of this. He does this a lot. He's a weeper.
BLACK: He's a weeper. But to say - talk about his upbringing and coming from, you know, nothing, and then to watch how he came from nothing and has no empathy with the people who have nothing is just extraordinary. The disconnect is magnificent. It's - how do you get to that point, unless he was electro-shocked?
OLBERMANN: That would explain also the orange.
BLACK: It would. Just two seconds before he was toast.
OLBERMANN: Now, it's been a bad week for those with a progressive point of view. On the other hand, the guy who dressed up as the Nazi in Ohio and recreated the great Panzer division of the 1940s - your favorite hits of the '40s - didn't get elected. The candidates who dabbled in witchcraft didn't get leaked. The Aqua Buddha guy did get elected.
Is there any progress in here? Are we moving forward as a civilization, as a species, or are we just heading back into the mire?
BLACK: We're moving into a whole new realm of - you know, of reality. And we're going to just have to prep for it. Meaning that if you have to deal - when you wake up in the morning, you have to remind yourself before you look at the television set, I didn't do drugs. I didn't do drugs. I didn't take any pills before I turned the TV on, before I read the newspaper. This is really happening.
And it's - the other - the amazing one is that Al Greene -
OLBERMANN: Yes. Well, Alvin Greene. Let's not drag poor Al Greene.
BLACK: He got 30 percent. It's just - it's like when I ran in - I ran for office when I was at the University of North Carolina. And they approached me and said, run for office, you live off campus. I said, why are you asking me to run for office. They went, because you're the brightest guy we know, and your name will be - the brightest guy whose name in the alphabet - you're a B, you'll win. I said, oh, come on. I did it. I said, all right, let's see. And I didn't campaign. I did nothing. I won handily.
OLBERMANN: Somewhere, some GOP operative wrote that down and went, that's a hell of an idea.
The comedian and author Lewis Black. The book is "I'm Dreaming of a Black Christmas." And it's - what was that? Wonderfully engaging? No, the phrase was surprisingly thoughtful, as is Lewis. Thank you, sir.
BLACK: It's a pleasure.
OLBERMANN: That's Thursday, November 4th, two days since the Republicans took control of the House. Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs?
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END