Friday, September 23, 2011

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, September 23rd, 2011
video 'podcast'

ShowPlug1: Santorum says he didn't hear booing of soldier, would've told crowd to stop. Didn't stop him from hateful DADT answer

ShowPlug2: + Perry's debate performance has GOP asking "Anybody Else?" @Markos Moulitsas, @Craig_Crawford on debate fiasco

ShowPlug3: GOP still holding government hostage unless they get more pollution + more unemployment. @RyanGrim on stopgap $ game

ShowPlug4: Nice Work, Einstein! Theory of Relativity questioned after particles go faster than light w/ @CoolAstronomer Derrick Pitts

ShowPlug5: Worsts: She co-chairs Perry's state campaign AND raises the dead - and Billo calls 60%+ of country "morons"

ShowPlugLast: + Fridays with Thurber - from examined to examiner: "Draft Board Nights."

watch whole playlist

#5 'Debate Debacle', Markos Moulitsas
YouTube, (excerpt)

#5 'Debate Debacle', Craig Crawford
YouTube, (excerpt)

#4 'Shutdown Showdown', Ryan Grim

# Time Marches On!

#3 'Relatively Wrong', Derrick Pitts

#2 Worst Persons: Republicans demanding Warren Buffett's tax return, Bill O'Reilly, Pam Olsen, YouTube

#1 Fridays with Thurber: Draft Board Nights

printable PDF transcript

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KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

They cheered executions, they cheered dying patients. But now they have booed an American soldier.

(Excerpt from video clip) STEPHEN HILL: In 2010, when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie about who I was - because I'm gay soldier - and I didn't want to lose my job. My question is - under one of your presidencies - do you intend to circumvent the progress that's been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?


OLBERMANN: Rick Santorum's claim tonight that he couldn't hear that booing, that he would have told them to stop. It didn't stop his hate-filled answer. Markos Moulitsas on the latest meeting of the Republican hate group, Craig Crawford on the nausea inside the GOP. And who, Twitter asks, will the Republican debate crowd boo next?

You'll get nothing, and you'll like it. The Republican House approves the stopgap spending bill without increased disaster relief. The Democratic Senate then crushes the bill.

(Excerpt from video clip) HARRY REID: We've agreed at their number, on FEMA. I mean, do they want the government to shut down?

OLBERMANN: Nice work, Einstein! The professor's theory appears to have a big hole in it, as something travels faster than it - can? Derrick Pitts on that, and on the falling junk satellite that might still have your name on it.

Fridays with Thurber - Draft Board Nights.


(Excerpt from video clip) BILL O'REILLY: What moron would blame Republicans for the current epidemic - current problems we have in the economic region?

OLBERMANN: That was such bull (bleep) that even he stumbled over it. All that and more, now on "Countdown."

(Excerpt from video clip) BARF: They've gone to plaid!


OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Friday, September 23, 410 days until the 2012 presidential election.

When it was the crowd at the Ronald Reagan library applauding Rick Perry's 235 executions, it was unbelievable. When it was those in the crowd at the Tampa debate cheering the death of a patient due to lack of insurance, it was untoppable. When it was - last night - the crowd at the latest Republican debate in Orlando, booing an actual serving American soldier, it was - unspeakable.

Fifth story in the "Countdown" - when you believe the Republican Party and its adherents can go no further down, there is only one thing you should really believe and that is - you are probably wrong.

Last night, the crowd cheered for reinstating Don't Ask, Don't Tell after showing more than contempt for the U.S. Army's Stephen Hill. It took place during this exchange - Hill on video from Iraq where he is stationed - posing a question directed to former senator Rick Santorum.

(Excerpt from video clip) HILL: In 2010 when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie about who I was - because I'm a gay soldier - and didn't want to lose my job. My question is - under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that's been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?


RICK SANTORUM: I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military, and the fact that they're making a point to include it as a provision within the military, that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege to - and removing Don't Ask, Don't Tell - I think tries to inject social policy into the military, and the military's job is to do one thing, and that is to defend our country.

We need to give the military - which is all volunteer - the ability to do so in a way that is most efficient in protecting our men and women in uniform, and I believe this undermines that ability. I would just say that going forward, we would reinstitute that policy if Rick Santorum was president. But we would move forward in conformity with what has happened in the past, which was sex is not an issue. It - it should not be an issue. Leave it alone. Keep it to yourself, whether you're heterosexual or homosexual.

OLBERMANN: There was no immediate comment from any of the Republican candidates on that stage. Former senator Santorum, though, offered this today -

(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I condemn the people who booed that gay soldier. I seriously did not hear those boos. Had I heard them, I certainly would have commented on them.

OLBERMANN: Governor Rick Perry told reporters last night, the boos were "unfortunate." Perhaps his hearing is better than Rick Santorum's.

Like former New Mexico governor Garry Johnson, who said he heard the boos from the stage and condemned their intolerance, though not from the stage.

And former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, who thought the first response to a soldier in uniform should be to thank him or her for their service.

No other reactions so far from the other candidates. No other Republican willing to reassure the support-the-troops wing of his party at the risk of offending the hate-the-gays wing.

Then again, the reaction might be phony, like another answer from front runner Perry explaining last night his executive order requiring school-age girls receive the HPV vaccine. Perry insisted he did not issue the order because he had been lobbied by his former chief of staff on behalf of the firm that made the vaccine.

(Excerpt from video clip) RICK PERRY: I got lobbied on this issue. I got lobbied by a 31-year-old young lady who had Stage-4 cervical cancer. I spent a lot of time with her. She came by my office. I erred on the side of life, and I will always err on the side of life, as a governor, and as the president of the United States.

OLBERMANN: Two points, Governor. First, the family of the woman you spoke to has confirmed to ABC News that she spoke with you after you issued that order. And second, no one who has signed off on 235 executions can honestly boast of erring on the side of life. Perry also sounded as if he'd one too many Lone Stars - as in beers - when he tried accusing Mitt Romney of flip-flopping on the issues.

(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: Is it the Mitt Romney that was on the side of - against the Second Amendment before he was for the Second Amendment. Was it before - he was before the social programs from the standpoint of - he was for standing up for Roe vs. Wade before he was against Roe vs. Wade?

OLBERMANN: And the Iraq and such as. And Perry saw the flip-flop charge turned against him - by Romney, no less - when he tried to smooth away his repeated claims that Social Security was an unconstitutional Ponzi scheme.

(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: For those people that are on Social Security today, for those people that are approaching Social Security, they don't have anything in the world to worry about. We have made a solemn oath to the people in this country that that Social Security program in place today will be there for them.

MITT ROMNEY: There's a Rick Perry out there that's saying that - almost a quote - it says that the federal government shouldn't be in the pension business, that it's unconstitutional - unconstitutional, and it should be returned to the states. So you better find that Rick Perry and get him to stop saying that.

OLBERMANN: Fortunately, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was on hand to provide comic relief. Asked how much of a working dollar a taxpayer deserved to keep, Ms. Bachmann replied thusly -

(Excerpt from video clip) MICHELE BACHMANN: I think you earned every dollar - you should get to keep every dollar that you earn. That's your money. That's not the government's money. That's the whole point. Obviously, we have to give money back to the government so that we can run the government.

OLBERMANN: Obviously, because you can keep every dollar you make, except some of them. There is some indication that last night's fiascos were too much for even some of the Republicans. I'll ask Craig Crawford about that.

But let's start first with Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos founder and published and, of course, "Countdown" contributor. Markos, Good evening.

MARKOS MOULITSAS: Good evening, Keith. And I don't know how Michele Bachmann can be comic relief when they were all comedians on that stage last night.

OLBERMANN: Well, some of them were just naturally funnier than others.

The boos about the serving - the serviceman Stephen Hill - I think that a very important distinction that needs to be made here that really, in some places, hasn't been made. I don't think it's not being made deliberately, but it's an important distinction. They didn't boo, and most of the candidates - except for this sort of wishy-washy stuff from Santorum and Johnson and Huntsman - they did not condone the booing of a gay soldier. They booed a soldier, period. Right?

MOULITSAS: Absolutely. I mean, this is a guy in uniform in Iraq. And Republicans claim that they're anti-gay, and they claim they're for the troops. And last night, they had an opportunity to sort of put those values in action. And what we found out is that they actually do hate gays and that they don't respect our men in uniform unless it validates some sort of political agenda. And last night, that soldier did not, and therefore, they did not offer even the slightest shred of respect for his service and the fact that he's putting his life on the line for this nation.

OLBERMANN: The polls last year that showed that about three-quarters of American adults favored allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly, what does that say about the display that we saw last night, both from the audience and from the crowd of candidates?

MOULITSAS: Well, it says that the Republican nomination has been taken over by a tea party fringe that is completely at odds with America. And whoever emerges from this mess of a primary is going to have a hard time tacking to the center because he or she has been pushed so far to the left on all these issues. So clearly, the tea party is in charge of this asylum, and it's probably the best ally that Obama has heading into 2012, given the state of the economy and his own numbers.

OLBERMANN: Were you surprised, though, that even - I mean to any degree - that anybody touched this? I mean, Santorum saying he couldn't hear the boos. I mean, one could imagine that some sort of internal response - he was getting so excited about answering this question about sex, which has always driven him a little bit crazy - that might have preoccupied him. The other two saying, sort of, 'Well, I would have said something, except I didn't say something, so now I'll say something mealy-mouthed.'

Even that, though, for Republicans, is an extraordinary series of criticisms of their own people, sort of taking on the tea party. There is - there seems to be a certain divide as to how they feel they should be taking on the fringe in their own party. Is that illustrative of that?

MOULITSAS: Yeah. They're clearly worried, and they don't know how to go about doing it. And you see it in just how schizophrenic some of these candidates are.

Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, particularly, as they try to bend themselves in a way that appeals to this tea party fringe and also appeals to more moderate Republicans, and sort of the center of the nation.

And just - you brought it up, so I want to really highlight it - Rick Santorum, remember his answer. First of all, he paused when the boos began, so clearly something made him stop and get to the - if you hear it again, he sort of reset himself.


MOULITSAS: But second of all, he said that sex has no place in the military. I served in the Army, and if that's his new position, it's going to decimate the ranks of the military, 'cause not a lot of people are going to be left.

OLBERMANN: The volunteer Army will be down to three guys. On the other points, there was one conservative blogger who said 'Perry was so bad last night, it was almost disqualifying,' and the false claim about the HPV bill, that embarrassing and stumbling attack on Romney that did not - I'm not saying he was not sober. It certainly didn't sound like something a sober guy would say. And that walkback on Social Security - are some of the backers starting to reconsider his chances? I mean, the next debate is the 11th of October. Will they be booing him then?

MOULITSAS: I think it's almost inevitable at this point. He's had probably the worst rollout in a presidential campaign since Fred Thompson in 2008. And he - you see it now, you see a lot of news reports coming out that Chris Christie is being wooed once again.

They're still desperate for their savior. Because they know Mitt Romney, he's got problems. His - the fact is that he does not appeal to the tea party fringe that's going to dominate the primaries. Rick Perry was hopefully somebody that could bridge that divide, somebody who would appeal to the tea party, but still have some establishment cred. Clearly, that credibility has been eroded. Nobody in that establishment trusts him anymore. And even the tea party fringe doesn't seem to be that enamored with him anymore. So, they're still looking.

OLBERMANN: Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos founder and publisher, "Countdown" contributor. Always a pleasure, sir. Have a good weekend.

MOULITSAS: You too. Thank you very much.

OLBERMANN: Craig Crawford, who blogs on politics at - and also wrote "The Politics of Life" - was at last night's debate. He is joining us now from Orlando, as promised, to look at the Republican reaction in here. Craig, good evening.

CRAIG CRAWFORD: Good evening. I had too many of those fruit smoothies in the Google Media Center. I almost lost them during some of that debate.

OLBERMANN: Well, what - other than nausea - what struck you most about the response to say - Stephen Hill last night?

CRAWFORD: Silence.


CRAWFORD: Silence on the part of the candidates. This is the problem I've seen for a couple of debates now. Where are the leaders in the party who are going to stand up to the mob in their own party? I mean, that's leadership.

And independent voters - and they've got to remember, come November, they're going to have to campaign for those independent voters - and independent voters like to see presidential candidates stand up to their own party's - the real partisan wings.

You know, Bill Clinton in 1992 ran against what he called the brain-dead Democratic Party. Independent voters like to see that. I know these guys gotta win, but the problem is these front-runners, neither of them, or any of them, are strong enough to resist that gravitational pull to the extreme wing of their party.

OLBERMANN: Santorum said he couldn't hear the boos - would have condemned them if he had. Are you buying that, especially in the wake of what Perry's saying about the boos being unfortunate, and Johnson and Huntsman sort of acknowledging that they did?

Plus, has anybody in the party offered any explanation for that rolling applause for what followed it? I mean - even if the booing hadn't happened - as he was talking about bringing back Don't Ask Don't Tell, you would have thought it was the solution to every economic problem in the world.

CRAWFORD: Yeah. Yeah, Keith, I talked to lots of folks, I didn't talk to anybody - and I was there all day today for the CPAC conference as well - I didn't talk to anybody inside or outside that debate who did not hear that. We can't disprove what he's saying. It's kind of like when Nixon told John Dean - "Just say you don't remember. They can't ever prove that you didn't." And so, I really think he had to have heard it.

But, here - okay, give him credit for that - he did hear it - he did not hear it. All right, fine. He could have at least still said something favorable, as Markos said, about this soldier and his service to the nation. Any other soldier on that screen asking anything else would have automatically gotten probably an over-the-top response praising him for his service. But this man is so homophobic, he just could not bring himself to do that.

OLBERMANN: Yeah, if that had been anybody else, there would have been a unified salute on the part of the candidates, just the way they sang the anthem two debates ago. So -

CRAWFORD: Yeah, he could have done that whether he heard those boos or not.

OLBERMANN: Exactly. Where was that? Yeah, it didn't happen - It didn't happen from any of them last night.

All right, but the escalation of this - booing the troops, shouts of support for letting the uninsured die, even hypothetically, and cheering executions - apart from the fact that that's beginning to sound like, sort of, the escalation in the French Revolution or other of these sort of things that get away from people - is there a tipping point at which this starts being the story, that Republican candidates - in a real switch - start getting damaged by their supporters?

CRAWFORD: Well, the old rule in journalism - three examples make a rule. And so, we're at that point. I mean, yeah, these things are starting to look more like the Roman forum. I thought we were going to wheel out Caligula last night for the thumbs up or thumbs down. That's the way these crowds sound. I do think at some point, it starts to seep out into the mainstream. We're so early in the game, when a lot of those kinds of voters are not really paying attention.

But - this is the problem I get back to is - until some of these candidates, particularly the front runners, show a little gumption to get out there, and when their own mob is getting outside - so far out the mainstream - that they stand up and say something about it, independent voters will like that. We're not seeing that yet, and we're not going to, probably, until somebody emerges as a very clear front runner.

OLBERMANN: Somebody boos a soldier, that gets attention, even if it isn't getting attention now. Lastly, Craig - big picture after last night - between the booing and Perry, I mentioned a lot of conservative bloggers and writers came out of that thing last night writing today of being shaken, of being unhappy, Bill Kristol, as Markos mentioned, trotting out Chris Christie again. Assess. Where does the Republican race stand at the moment?

CRAWFORD: They thought they might have someone in Perry to be the alternative to Romney. The conservatives want that. They are looking for an alternative - both social and even some fiscal conservatives, and neo-conservatives on foreign stuff. So, they're all of a sudden realizing - Bill Kristol's headline, I think, on his column was "Yikes" - that probably sums up their attitude. It now creates a vacuum.

Assuming Perry actually does continue to follow through and falls away, they're going to be looking for an alternative. However, I got to say, George Bush probably lost every - George W. Bush, even his father - probably lost every debate I ever saw him in. And he won the presidency twice, so that tells you how much debates matter.

OLBERMANN: Craig Crawford of and "The Politics of Life." As always, sir, great thanks. Have a good weekend.

CRAWFORD: Good to be here.

OLBERMANN: With the hypothetical dying patient cheered, Rick Perry's Texas executions applauded and Iraq vet Stephen Hill booed, the question on Twitter this afternoon started, we think, by Ryan Lizza of "The New Yorker" was, "Who will they boo at the next Republican debate?"

Among the best answers? Sneezing baby pandas; the Statue of Liberty - after all, it's French - the guy who landed the plane on the Hudson, 'cause he's union; Ronald Reagan for raising taxes 11 times; Jesus Christ, for being born to an unwed mother and giving his money to the poor; Pat Tillman, and SEAL Team Six because they killed Osama bin Laden while Obama was president.

How the Republicans are trying to make sure FEMA runs out of money by Tuesday and to make sure the senate didn't get the bill in time. Ryan Grimm next on "Countdown."


OLBERMANN: Shenanigans on Capitol Hill. Did the House keep his Senate waiting hours for something that should have taken seconds? Delaying sending its stopgap funding bill so that Democrats would look like they were risking a government shutdown.

E equals MC squared, except when it don't. Particles clocked going faster than the speed of light, which is supposed to be impossible. Got any bright ideas, Einstein?

James Thurber's story of being medically examined for the military draft so often that he eventually became one of the doctors - "Draft Board Nights."

And, this may be even too much for his viewers. He called people who blame Republicans for the economy "morons," when those people constitute more than 60 percent of the people. "Worst Persons" ahead, for the folks, on "Countdown."


OLBERMANN: The Republican demand to agree to avert a government shut down, increase pollution and unemployment. Just as Congress was about to go on recess, the Republican House passed the stopgap spending measure that would not fund disaster relief unless a green-jobs initiative was defunded.

In our fourth story on the "Countdown," the Senate rejected the House measure. Time didn't just run out on the Senate, though, it appears the House deliberately delayed sending a copy of its bill to the Senate for about 10 hours to make sure the Senate would have to vote last and it made it look like the obstructionist chamber.

All this over just a tiny sliver of the overall $1.043 trillion budget. The Republicans would only agree to release $3,650,000,000 in aid to disaster victims if a billion and a half is cut from the program that encourages production of fuel-efficient vehicles. Speaker Boehner able to finally secure the Republican votes he needed by adding another $100 million in cuts to the program that funded the Solyndra Solar Company. That is the company whose failure has become a favorite Republican talking point.

Harry Reid, today, expressing frustration with House GOP members, saying that aid for disaster victims should not come at the cost of higher unemployment.

(Excerpt from video clip) HARRY REID: Is it really fair that to fund disaster relief, we take American jobs?

OLBERMANN: Democrats had originally wanted more FEMA funding for disaster victims, but agreed to a lower number if there were no corresponding cuts. Reid, today, chastised the Republicans for continuing to push for more.

(Excerpt from video clip) HARRY REID: It's a simple thing - very simple - and I can't understand their logic. We've agreed at their number. Do they want FEMA to close?

OLBERMANN: Yes. The Republicans, predictably, blame Senate Democrats for the holdup.

(Excerpt from video clip) ERIC CANTOR: Harry Reid is holding a bill up with full funding of what is needed right now for no reason, no reason but for politics.

OLBERMANN: Reid standing somewhat firm, though, announcing today that the Senate will be in session Monday to vote on its own resolution. Joining me now, Ryan Grim, the Washington Bureau Chief of The Huffington Post. Ryan, good evening.

RYAN GRIM: Hey, thanks for having me here.

OLBERMANN: All right, you've done the reporting on this delay thing in the processing and the - sort of - strategy session, or this rope-a-dope session, to try to see who could get the other chamber blamed. Explain this, would you?

GRIM: Right. All right, so - shortly after midnight last night, or I guess, early this morning, - the House finally passed its measure to fund the government. So, there's no shutdown. They knew that it was something that the Senate wouldn't pass, and they wanted to get out of town.So, when Democrats woke up this morning, it still had not been sent over to the Senate.

The Senate, for those of your viewers who don't know, is only a couple hundred yards away from the House. So it's not something that's impossible.

Now, the House Republicans said that there was a technical glitch. They wouldn't get into a lot of details. They said that that's way it hadn't gotten over yet, and it eventually got over by about 11:00 or so. But that - but like you said, that's 10, 11 hours after it had passed.

Now, you know, since the 1700s, they've been moving bills from the House to the Senate, and, you know, they're written down. They're just - they're walked over. What - what - what Democrats thought that Republicans wanted is to slow it down long enough so that Republicans could get out of town by the time that the Senate voted down the House bill so that the Senate, then, would get blamed for whatever government shutdown might ultimately result. Now, that is - that is the state of affairs that we're dealing with in our Congress today.

OLBERMANN: All right. So, what is the - what is the ultimate outcome of this? Is there, in fact, a likely shutdown, or which way is the Senate going to vote on the bill on Monday? Is the House going to come back? Where are we?

GRIM: I feel like they're going to come to some kind of a deal. I mean, these folks are like the boy who cried wolf even after his whole flock has been slaughtered. I mean, who's listening to them anymore? They - they have been manufacturing crises for more than a year now. So, I think that people are completely fed up.

I mean, the last time that they manufactured a crisis, the U.S. got its debt downgraded, and, you know, some extremely rich people became just slightly less extremely rich, and when that happens - you know, their backers get upset. So, you know, the idea that they're going to take the country to the precipice again is, to me, a bit farfetched.

I would expect that the House is going to come back next week, and they're going to come up with some way of extending this before it gets to the 11th hour, because this is just getting ridiculous. This is no way to run a third-world country, let alone a country that's supposed to be, you know, the leading economic engine of the world.

OLBERMANN: But if death by a thousand paper cuts is not effective, it certainly isn't good government, and it may not even play to the base anymore, why does - why does the Republican Party continue to do it?

GRIM: Well, part of this wasn't on purpose, so to speak. You know, Boehner brought a bill to the floor that he presumably thought he had the votes for, and what happened is what we've been predicting would eventually happen all along. He lost something like 47 Republicans who are on the far, tea party side, and he lost almost all the Democrats.

And so, that coalition of Democrats plus enough breakaway Republicans means that Boehner loses control, and that's what happened the other day. Boehner came back then and moved further over to the tea party, and so he got enough people to push it through, but his problem is, then, he doesn't have to votes in the Senate. You know, it's not like it just goes from the House to the White House.

So, Boehner's going to have to do like he's always done, which is annoy his tea party base, find some common ground with enough Democrats to get over the Senate and get it to the White House. We've all seen this play over and over again, and we're going to watch the play again next week.

It's - we just have to keep putting up with these little dramas until, who knows, maybe at some point they're just going to forget to hit the breaks and go right off the cliff. You know, it's possible with this crew.

OLBERMANN: Same play, but with a 10-hour intermission between Acts One and Two.

GRIM: Right, right.

OLBERMANN: Ryan Grim with The Huffington Post, joining us from Washington. Thank you, sir. Have a good weekend.

GRIM: You, too, Keith.

OLBERMANN: That crashing satellite? It might too hit here after all. Besides which, the scientific world does not know what it can believe in anymore after something is shown to be travelling faster than speed of light - Derick Pitts, ahead on "Countdown."


KEITH OLBERMANN: A little flaw has just opened up in Einstein's theory, something apparently traveling faster than it can. Derrick Pitts next.

First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date in 1908, umpires invoked a previously unenforced rule and denied the New York Giants a virtual pennant-clinching victory over the Chicago Cubs. Nineteen-year-old rookie Fred Merkle was forever blamed for costing the Giants the pennant because he failed to advance to second base while the winning run was scoring in the bottom of the ninth, even though that's the way everybody did it that way until that very game. While Merkle got stuck with the nickname Bonehead, it is noteworthy that the Cubs used the ill-gotten break to go on and win the World Series that year and haven't won it since.

"Time Marches On!"

And we check in once again with last night's GOP debate. I'm sorry. I'm being told this is - what? It looked like something to do with Rick Santorum. Oh, monkey on dog. Okay. It's a dog wrestling a monkey. Let's get back to the action. Looks like the dog was pinned. It might be over. Broke out. "Do you have a lesson for that monkey?" I don't envy the winner who faces off in the next round against the elephant.

Kansas City, Missouri, hello. Introducing Medusa, the world's biggest snake. 25 feet long, 300 pounds. Takes an entire team of people to hold it, and they have to dress as goblins. Of course, a snake this size needs a real expert to handle it. Snake handler Larry Edgar seems to be the man for the job, although possibly not. 'Blowed him up real good, Larry. Blowed him up real good.' Next month, "The Guinness Book of Records" will officially name Medusa the world's largest snake, unseating current record holder Milton Berle. Well, that's a typo, I think. Me playing dumb.

Finally, we check in on the eternal battle of man versus machine. After feeding money into this betting shop's slots, an older gentleman decides it's no longer a matter of luck. Now it's personal. He gives the machine a little payback for its lack of payout. Take that, innocent machine that has no ability to control the outcome of each spin! That's one way to get help with your gambling issues and not get banned from every shop in town. Next, that toaster. The toaster gets it. Ooh.

"Time Marches On!"

The bad news is, it turns out the junked satellite could still be falling through American skies. The worse news is, theoretically it can now do so faster than the speed of light which everybody thought was impossible till today when something did go faster than the speed of light. That's next. This is "Countdown."


KEITH OLBERMANN: Coming to you live from the world headquarters of the DuMont Television Network, it's "Countdown." We bring it to you live. There are no animated characters. At 8:00 p.m. eastern, 5:00 p.m. Pacific each weeknight. We call it our little miracle.

Most scientists will admit that their fields are not exact. They work in theories and observations trying to figure out laws that explain or predict what they see. The theories that are often most proven correct are the ones we tend to accept as fact.

But on our third story on the "Countdown," not one, but two scientific theories have had doubt cast on them in the last week. That little 'Theory of Special Relativity' thing and also the one about when a six-ton satellite will come crashing down to earth. Nice work, Einsteins.

Scientists initially thought that the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite would come crashing down today about 10:45 a.m. Somewhere between 57 degrees north and 57 degrees south latitude, which is also known as that majority of the planet. But, don't put away your titanium helmet quite yet. Due to what is being called "changes in the thickness of the atmosphere caused by a powerful solar flare," the window for impact has been pushed back to early September 24th. Although the odds of someone being struck by one of the expected 26 pieces of satellite remains one in 3,200 with an increased possibility that that one in 3,200 could be in the U.S.

Speaking of slight miscalculation, Albert Einstein may have just had his theory of special relativity proven incorrect - at least one aspect of it. His theory holds that nothing can move faster than the speed of light, despite what every science-fiction movie has implied. But researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research - called CERN, because they spell stuff differently there - may have observed particles moving faster than the expected 186,000 miles per second.

They reported a neutrino beam fired from a particle accelerator near Geneva to a lab in Italy that arrived a blistering 60 nanoseconds earlier than it should have. Other scientists are skepticable - skeptical of the results, and also skepticable - and researchers at the Fermilab near Chicago are rushing to confirm CERN's results. Although, when you're talking about the speed of life - right, light - rushing is a relative term.

Here, as ever, to translate these complex scientific problems - to say nothing of my verbal gaffes - into simple terms is "Countdown" contributor and the chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Derrickk Pitts. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.

DERRICK PITTS: And I get the easy work, right?

OLBERMANN: Uh, yeah, perhaps. The satellite first, because it's big enough it could kill you. They recalculated when it would hit because of solar flares? I mean - the thing weighs six tons. How do solar flares impact something weighing six tons moving through the air?

PITTS: So, think of it this way - you know, the earth's atmosphere, at the very extremes, is not uniform, so it's not just a thin line that goes all the way around. And the heating of the earth's atmosphere by the solar eruptions, these solar storms, causes it to bulge out in different places. So now you have a satellite that's down to 100 miles above the surface of the earth, and - admittedly - the atmosphere is thin at that elevation. But the satellite can now still skip across the surface of the atmosphere at that level and that makes the calculations very much more difficult to determine when the death plunge is going to occur and where.

OLBERMANN: So am I going to get hit by it or not?


OLBERMANN: All right. Thank you.

PITTS: Yeah.

OLBERMANN: Last week the scientists discovered this Tatooine-like planet. Now the ability perhaps of something very, very small to travel better than light speed. Are scientists actually discovering things, or simply plagiarizing all the "Star Wars" films?

PITTS: No, this really is a really - a very interesting observation at this point. And I say observation, because so much more test work has to be done to try to figure out whether this observation is for real.

And what makes this one stand out is the fact that the scientists that have been working on this for the last three years have observed 15,000 neutron beams that have come across at this incredible rate of 60 nanoseconds faster that the law of light should allow. And they've found this to an accuracy of six sigma proportion - which means that it's 99.999999% accurate - in their observation - so that's what really makes it stand out as possibly true.

OLBERMANN: All right, so this track that they shoot these beams through - the CERN thing - this is - am I remembering this correct? This is the thing that they thought was a very small chance that when they switched it on, it would evaporate the entire universe. Am I remembering this correctly, that the idea was this could be a really dangerous decision to plug it in?

PITTS: It's at - this is at the same location, but it's a different device. You know, the device that ruins the world - that's another one that's doing something different. This is just helping us figure out if we can travel back in time and fix the problem.

OLBERMANN: All right. Can we travel back in time and fix the problem? Is that - is that the ultimate expression of this theoretical result?

PITTS: It would be nice, but no, unfortunately it isn't. Look at it again. It's 60 nanoseconds. That's 60 billionths of a second. What that really tells us when we look at this is that if this is true, our world around us has not changed very much, and it isn't as if this is the first time this has happened. If that's the case, it's been going on throughout time.

So, what it means is that the basis upon which we use as a foundation for everything else about physics that this is built on, those things all now have to be changed. So where it makes a big difference is at the extreme micro level in the quantum world, and maybe the extreme macro level way far out in the universe where these differences really do pile up and make a difference. Remember - in the quantum world - sixty nanoseconds is an enormous amount of time and all kinds of things can happen.

OLBERMANN: One macro question about time travel that I always wanted to ask an actual scientist. Hasn't it basically been disproved? I mean, in the theory that you can go back in time - if there's interaction with entities that existed in some previous moment - given that you're looking at all the future and everybody who will ever live as a potential time traveler, wouldn't one of them have already come back in time and blown the secret? Aren't humans going to be forever blabbermouths?

PITTS: Yeah, it's a wonderful idea that we would be able to go back in time and actually do something, but that's not really how it turns out. That's not really what it means. When we look at this kind of time shift right now, one of the things that scientists are thinking is that these particles may have found some sort of a backdoor through another dimension that allows them to arrive ahead of when they're supposed to. But that doesn't - that still doesn't give us - that door is only cracked 60 micro - millo - 60 nanoseconds. It's not enough for us to get through and go back and straighten out the world.

OLBERMANN: I can read the text before it's sent to me. That's about the best we're ever gonna do.

PITTS: I was here before you called me.

OLBERMANN: Excellent. The chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, "Countdown" contributor Derrick Pitts. Always a pleasure. Have a good weekend.

PITTS: Thanks. You, too, Keith.

OLBERMANN: As promised, the Rick Perry state campaign co-chair who thinks that she can raise people from the dead. And a clip of Bill O'Reilly suggesting that maybe she should start with him. "Worst Persons," next on "Countdown."


OLBERMANN: James Thurber turns his own vision problems into a temporary stint as a doctor. Draft Board Nights is coming up.

First, the "Worst." And she's not just planning to decide who lives forever and who don't. She is not only part of a movement for fundamentalists to take over the American government, but she's also Rick Perry's campaign co-chair in Florida. More of Pam Olsen ahead on "Countdown."


OLBERMANN: James Thurber goes from being examined for the draft for World War I 15 different times to being a doctor examining others for the draft. That's next, but first because examining something is not done by any of these fine, blind folks, it's time for "Countdown's" top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."

The bronze will be shared tonight by a pack of Republicans. Senator Jim DeMint started this. We can now add Senator John Cornyn of Texas, Congressman Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Congressman Dave Camp of Michigan and conservative columnist John Feehery.

In the last 24 hours, each has said - in essence - that if Warren Buffett is going to be the model for rich people demanding taxes be raised to average levels on medium-class people, they want to see how Buffett made his money. They 'demand he release his tax returns now.'

The very possibility that there is a rich guy somewhere who is not like them - who does not think that the only obligation of the rich is to get more rich and then eat as many poor people as possible for breakfast - has shorted out the brains of Cornyns, the Huelskamps, the Camps and the Feeherys to the point that they don't know that what they're demanding, Buffett has already done. Huelskamp, the poor freshman congressman, even wrote Buffett a letter.

All right, geniuses, let's play the tape again from the "Charlie Rose" show.

(Excerpt from video clip) WARREN BUFFETT: I've got my tax return here.

(Excerpt from video clip) CHARLIE ROSE: We're gonna take a look at them in a moment.

(Excerpt from video clip) BUFFETT: And, you know, I get taxed on up to $100,000, and - and my super-rich friends get taxed up to $100,000. And that tax hits the people in my office very, very hard.

OLBERMANN: Why do Republicans make this so easy for us? The runner up, Bill O. the clown, who has called you a moron - you and as much as 61% of the country.

(Excerpt from video clip) BILL O'REILLY: What moron would blame Republicans for the current epidemic? Epidemic - epidemic - the current problems we have in the economic region?

OLBERMANN: He couldn't even read the talking points supplied to him by the GOP. Quinnipiac poll - by 54 to 27 percent, they blame President Bush more for the recession than they do President Obama. McClatchy-Marist - Sixty-one percent believe Obama inherited the recession. CNN poll - ten percent said both presidents are responsible, Twenty-nine percent said Obama. Fifty-seven percent said Bush. But Bill, who needs polls when you have Scotch?

The winner again, as promised - Pam Olsen, Rick Perry's new Florida campaign co-chair. She is one step up from the status of cat lady.

We mentioned yesterday that this confidence woman has explained that wildfires, hurricanes and tornadoes are God's punishment for gay marriage, and tolerance of gays, without explaining why - if that's the case - they keep hitting the areas where there is the least acceptance of gays. As I also mentioned last night, there is plenty more she brings to Governor Perry's campaign - like, she gets to decide who will be raised from the dead, and you can, too.

(Excerpt from video clip) PAM OLSEN: God, I want to partner with your heart. Whatever's coming, I want to be prepared as an end-time messenger who has walked in the fire and knows you and knows how to say, 'God, that person needs to be raised from the dead.' And I'm going to say, 'In Jesus' name, rise up and walk.' And I'm going to pray that in and see the dead raised.

OLBERMANN: Now - before you say, 'Isn't that sweet, Cat Lady thinks she'll have the power to bestow immortality, get her a sedative' - she also preaches something called "Seven Mountains Dominionism," a theology that demands that fundamentalist Christians take power in seven critical areas of American society - media, arts and entertainment, family, education, religion, business and government.

And now she's Rick Perry's campaign co-chair in Florida.

Pam "This One Lives and That One Dies" Olsen - today's "Worst Person in the World."


OLBERMANN: The mark of the great humorist is to make his pain into your amusement.

After an accident, James Thurber lost his left eye as a 6-year-old boy. His good one got worse and worse and - by his 40s - he was headed toward total blindness. It had the expected withering result on his temper, his sanity, his life - but he continued to mine it for humor until the day he died. Tonight's story is from his 1933 masterpiece, "My Life and Hard Times."

As usual, it takes something real - like his vision - and quickly turns it absurd, creating a Dr. James Thurber. And also, as usual, I'm reading from the "Library of America: Thurber Writings and Drawings," edited by Garrison Keillor. To the confused days of America during the First World War - and abridged for time - "Draft Board Nights," by James Thurber.

The Columbus draft board never called Grandfather for service, which was a lucky thing for them because they would have had to take him. There were stories that several old men of 80 or 90 had been summoned in the confusion. But somehow or other, Grandfather was missed. He waited every day for the call but it never came.

My own experience was quite different. I was called almost every week, even though I had been exempted from service the first time I went before the medical examiners. Either they were never convinced that it was me, or else there was some clerical error in the records which was never cleared up. Anyway, there was usually a letter for me on Monday, ordering me to report for examination on the second floor of Memorial Hall the following Wednesday at 9:00 PM. The second time I went up, I tried to explain to one of the doctors that I had already been exempted.

"You're just a blur to me," I said, taking off my glasses.

"You're absolutely nothing to me," he snapped sharply.

I had to take off all my clothes each time and jog around the hall with a lot of porters and bank presidents' sons and clerks and poets. Our hearts and lungs would be examined, and then our feet and finally, our eyes. That always came last.

When the eye specialist got around to me, he would always say, "Why, you couldn't get in the service with sight like that!"

"I know," I would say.

Then, a week or two later, I would be summoned again and go through the same rigmarole. The ninth or tenth time I was called, I happened to pick up one of the several stethoscopes that were lying on a table and suddenly, instead of finding myself in the line of draft men, I found myself in the line of examiners.

"Hello, Doctor," said one of them, nodding.

"Hello," I said.

That, of course, was before I took my clothes off. I might have managed it naked, but I doubt it.

I was assigned, or rather drifted, to the chest and lung section, where I began to examine every other man, thus cutting old Dr. Ridgewav's work in two.

"Glad to have you here, Doctor," he said.

I passed most of the men that came to me, but now and then, I would exempt one, just to be on the safe side. I began by making each of them hold his breath, then say, "mi, mi, mi, mi," until I noticed Ridgeway looking at me, curiously.

He, I discovered, simply made them say, "ah." And sometimes, he didn't make them say anything.

Once I got hold of a man who - it came out later - had swallowed a watch to make the doctors believe there was something wrong with him inside. It was a common subterfuge - men swallowed nails, hairpins, ink, et cetera - in an effort to be let out.

Since I didn't know what you were supposed to hear through a stethoscope, the ticking of the watch at first didn't surprise me, but I decided to call Dr. Ridgeway into consultation because nobody else had ticked.

"This man seems to tick," I said to him. He looked at me in surprise but didn't say anything. Then he thumped the man, laid his ear to his chest and finally, tried the stethoscope.

"Sound as a dollar," he said.

"Listen lower down," I told him. The man indicated his stomach. Ridgeway gave him a haughty, indignant look.

"That is for the abdominal men to worry about," he said and moved off. A few minutes later, Dr. Blythe Ballomy got around to the man and listened but he didn't blink an eye. His grim expression never changed.

"You have swallowed a watch, my man," he said sharply. The draftee reddened in embarrassment and uncertainty.

"On purpose?" he asked.

"That I can't say," the doctor told him, and went on.

I served with the draft board for about four months. Until the summonses ceased, I couldn't leave town and as long as I stayed and appeared promptly for examination, even though I did the examining, I felt that technically, I could not be convicted of evasion.

During the daytime, I worked as publicity agent for an amusement park, the manager of which was a tall, unexpected young man named Byron Landis. Some years before, he had dynamited the men's lounge in the statehouse annex for a prank, he enjoyed pouring buckets of water on sleeping persons, and once he had barely escaped arrest for jumping off the top of the old Columbus Transfer Company building with a homemade parachute.

He asked me one morning if I would like to take a ride in the new Scarlet Tornado, a steep and wavy roller-coaster. I didn't want to, but I was afraid he would think I was afraid, so I went along.

It was about 10:00 and there was nobody at the park except workmen and attendants and concessionaires in their shirtsleeves. We climbed into one of the long gondolas of the roller coaster and while I was looking around for the man who was going to run it, we began to move off.

Landis, I discovered, was running it himself. But it was too late out get out; we had begun to climb, clickety-clockety, up the first steep incline, down the other, at which we careened at 80 miles an hour.

"I didn't know you could run this thing!" I bawled at my companion, as we catapulted up a 60-degree arch and looped headlong into space.

"I didn't either!" he bawled back. The racket and rush of the air were terrific as we roared into the pitch-black Cave of Darkness and came out and down Monohan's Leap, so called because a because a workman named Monohan had been forced to jump from it when caught between two approaching experimental cars while it was being completed.

That trip, although it ended safely, made a lasting impression on me. It is not too much to say that it has flavored my life. It is the reason I shout in my sleep, refuse to ride on the elevated, keep jerking the emergency brake in cars other people are driving, have the sensation of flying like a bird when I first lie down, and in certain months can't keep anything on my stomach.

During my last few trips to the draft board, I went again as a draft prospect, having grown tired of being an examiner. None of the doctors who'd been my colleagues for so long recognized me, not even Dr. Ridgeway.

When he examined my chest for the last time, I asked him if there hadn't been another doctor helping him. He said there had been.

"Did he look anything like me?" I asked.

Dr. Ridgeway looked at me and said, "I don't think so, he was taller. A good pulmonary man."

"Draft Board Nights" by James Thurber.

I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.