Tuesday, August 30, 2011

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
video 'podcast'

ShowPlug1: Iraq WMD lies didn't hurt our reputation, torture is good, "16 Words" were valid. Ambassador Joe Wilson replies to Dick Cheney

ShowPlug2: Town Hall Comeuppance. Sen. Grassley pwned by citizens defending Social Security. Amanda @ATerkel on the blowback

ShowPlug3 He's run for Pres twice, Dad did once, but Mitt Romney now attacks "career politicians." @NiaWaPo Malika-Henderson on '12

ShowPlug4: Man on asteroids by '25, Mars in the '30s. & why "2001" may mean Apple has no patent on iPad w/@CoolAstronomer Derrick Pitts

ShowPlugLast: And as scandals go, it makes Andrea Macris + The Falafel look like a pinch. Billo, Billo's Donation, The Cop, & Mrs. Billo

watch whole playlist

#5 'Cheney World', Amb. Joseph Wilson
YouTube: part 1, part 2
Current.com: part 1, part 2 (excerpts)

#4 'Social Insecurity', Amanda Terkel

# Time Marches On!

#3 'Cowboys & Businessmen', Nia-Malika Henderson

#2 Worst Persons: Christine O'Donnell, Mark Neumann (R-WI), Bill O'Reilly
Current.com, YouTube

#1 'Deep in Space', Derrick Pitts

printable PDF transcript

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

Cheney world? Ambassador Joe Wilson, our special guest, with a reality rebuttal. The global impact of our lies about WMD in Iraq?


DICK CHENEY: I don't think that it damaged our reputation around the world. I just don't believe that.

OLBERMANN: And waterboarding didn't hurt us, didn't produce false information.


CHENEY: Fact is, it worked. We learned valuable, valuable information from that process and we kept the country safe for over seven years.

OLBERMANN: Except when it counted. And in the book, Cheney still insists the fraudulent British reports about yellowcake uranium being sold by Niger to Iraq were more important than Ambassador Wilson's fact-finding mission debunking those reports.

My guest is Joe Wilson.

Town halls, they go both ways. Senator Chuck Grassley, this is your life.


WOMAN: My question is, why can't we raise the wage cap in order to ensure that Social Security can continue on as it is without talking about cutting it? And the business would pay more, too. And you know what? No complaints. We want to have Social Security.

OLBERMANN: Two Republican Congressmen have a solution to the Town Hall Social Security blowback. They have created a watch list of people who asked questions they didn't like.

Good news about Gabby Giffords -- walking with a cane, writing with her left hand, progressing rapidly. Her cognitive abilities are 100 percent.

Kiss your asteroid good-bye. The president's marching orders to NASA: land men on an asteroid by 2025. Land men on Mars by 2030. But how a filmed space odyssey, "2001," might deny Apple its patent for the iPad. Our guest, Derrick Pitts.

And "Worsts"!

The greatest Bill O'Reilly scandal ever heard. The report -- Mrs. Bill O. was having an affair with a detective. Mr. Bill O. was contributing to the policeman's charity. Suddenly, the police were investigating the detective.


BILL O'REILLY: Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication.

OLBERMANN: All that and more now on "Countdown".


COLUMBO: Just one more thing.


OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Tuesday, August 30th, 434 days until the 2012 presidential election.

OLBERMANN: Signs continuing to mount today that Dick Cheney's book, "In My Time," should have been titled "In My Imagination." He did another interview with a television reporter he'd probably rather have been waterboarding. And copies of the book autographed by Cheney are now being sold for 40 bucks apiece -- the same price as the signed autobiography of tennis player Rafael Nadal.

The fifth story on the "Countdown" -- it's Cheney's world, the decisions he made with Bush since 9/11 continuing to affect everything we do as a nation here and abroad. We will read the map of Cheney's world and counter it with details from the real world, courtesy of former Ambassador Joe Wilson, whose wife Valerie Plame was outed as a CIA agent in an effort directed from Cheney's office to discredit him. As for Cheney, he portrays himself again as a well-armored man against this criticism generated by his interviews.


CHENEY: When you are vice president, you better be prepared to be a punch line.

OLBERMANN: And he is, especially when you can dismiss the verbal punches you have been taking with defensive lines like this.


CHENEY: I was a big advocate of pursuing controversial policies in order to keep the country safe. And our critics, obviously, extracted their pound of flesh for that.

OLBERMANN: We agreed, you were a big advocate. Any pound of flesh extracted from Cheney is of course nothing compared to the 4,000 Americans and more than 100,000 Iraqis killed in the disastrous Operation: Iraqi Freedom, a war that Cheney still insists was justified and widely accepted, despite the lies about weapons of mass destruction from which it was predicated.


CHENEY: I don't think that it damaged our reputation around the world. I just don't believe that. I think the critics here at home will argue that.

OLBERMANN: Forgetting perhaps the hundreds of thousands of people around the world and at home who have protested before the war and the millions who have condemned it as a bloody fiasco since. Cheney also defending what he likes to call "enhanced interrogation techniques," which the rest of the world still quaintly calls "torture," and which most Americans now condemn.


CHENEY: It's important for us not to get caught up in the notion that you can only have popular methods of interrogation if you want to run an effective counterterrorism program.

OLBERMANN: Notice the crazy conflation of popularity with legality. On the possibility that a nation like Iran might now wish to waterboard Americans suspected of spying, what grounds would we have to object?


CHENEY: We would object because we wouldn't expect an American citizen to be operating that way. We have obligations towards our citizens, and that we do everything we can to protect our citizens and put them through a process that we think is suitable.

OLBERMANN: Suitable for people like 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and two other al-Qaida leaders, because, after all --


CHENEY: These were not American citizens. We weren't dealing with American citizens in the enhanced interrogation program.

OLBERMANN: Cheney seems to be overlooking the convicted al-Qaida conspirator Jose Padilla, sometimes identifying himself as "Padilla," an American citizen held in a U.S. Navy brig, and according to the Christian Science Monitor, subjected to techniques other than waterboarding, which his attorneys now claim so damaged his mind that he has been unable to take part in his own defense. Cheney was, however, eager as ever to spring to the defense of his former assistant for National Security Affairs, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, convicted of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements to a grand jury, which was investigating the leak of Valerie Plame's name.


CHENEY: Scooter was not treated fairly. I don't think an indictment was appropriate. I think the investigation was originally occasioned by the question of who revealed the name of the Secret Service -- or the CIA employee to the press, and the answer was Rich Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State.

OLBERMANN: That was part of the answer. The answer was Richard Armitage, Scooter Libby and Karl Rove. Each had a hand in the leaking. Libby, though, was the only one of the three to be indicted. Cheney's world, of course, spreads well beyond Iraq and enhanced interrogation, and even the Valerie Plame scandal -- the botched war in Afghanistan, where a record 66 U.S. soldiers have died so far this month in a war that could have ended 10 years ago.

Muslim-Americans, 55 percent of whom now say their lives in the U.S. have become more difficult since 9/11 and the security crackdown that scarred many innocents.

And then there are the whopping costs of the Department of Homeland Security, around $75 billion a year since 9/11. Much of that has helped keep us safe. And much of it has not.

The numbers include a billion dollars for a secure border initiative that was canceled before completion; $1.5 billion for a National Security Agency cyber-security center to be built in Utah, for some reason; half a billion for a Strategic Command headquarters in Nebraska. Not to mention $750,000 for an anti-terrorism fence at a VA hospital in Asheville, N.C., or $205,000 to the police in Glendale, Calif., for a BearCat armored vehicle. And $557,400 to North Pole, Alaska, for rescue and communications gear because Santa is a high-valued target.

Joining me now from Santa Fe, N.M., a pleasure to speak once again with former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.

JOSEPH WILSON: Hi, Keith. It's good to be back with you.

OLBERMANN: And the same.

WILSON: And congratulations on moving over to Current.

OLBERMANN: Thank you kindly, sir. And thank you again for your time tonight. Is there a way to measure how much space there is between Dick Cheney's assessment of what we did to our reputation by the lies about WMD in Iraq and the assessment of that topic around the world?

WILSON: Well, in fairness to the former vice president, he probably doesn't have a very clear idea of how the rest of the world is thinking, since it's highly unlikely that he would feel comfortable traveling outside our borders, lest he be subpoenaed and arrested for war crimes and crimes against humanity. But there are, in fact, objective measures including a recent poll that showed the U.S. reputation in the world, particularly in the Arab world, to be at all-time lows.

I think it's safe to say that there is no single individual in my lifetime who has done more single-handedly to damage the moral authority and the international political leadership capacity of my country than Dick Cheney. He has a starkly different view of the world than I do, or of our country than I do, as somebody who also served my country for 25 years.

OLBERMANN: He has apparently revised something in this book in the overall direction of -- towards the truth, as opposed to towards further falsehood. And I wanted to get your reaction to it. The WMD fabrications now, he has gotten to the point of saying that they were wrong. There apparently -- there was not WMD in Iraq, the information was bad. But he calls this a mistake, and he still insists that he was absolutely right to rely on these concocted, kind of created by American intelligence, British reports, this sort of washed information. And he was right in relying on that as opposed to your reports from the ground in Niger. What's your reaction to that?

WILSON: Well, I will talk only about the Niger case. But it was certainly one instance where the CIA did everything it could to try and get the White House not to use that information because they did not believe it. As you may recall, Steve Hadley, then the deputy director of the National Security Council, offered his resignation in July 2003 after my article appeared, because he realized that in his files were, in fact, three directives from director of the CIA, Tenet, saying, "Don't use this information, we don't believe it." Indeed, Tenet's book, he talks about three days after the State of the Union address, when they were preparing Colin Powell's testimony before the United Nations. And John Hannah, an aide to the vice president said, "Aren't you using the Niger information?"

And he was told by Mike Morell, the presumptive new deputy director of the CIA, that no, they didn't want to use it because the CIA didn't believe it. So, whatever other information may have been pedaled that was ultimately bogus, this was one case where the CIA actually had the facts and actually attempted to persuade the White House not to use it. It was put in the State of the Union address for purely political reasons. It was attributed to the British because they knew that the CIA wasn't going to let them attribute it to anything that American intelligence had uncovered. In a sense, they were perpetuating a lie.


WILSON: And they were doing so -- I might add, they were doing so to make the case that Iraq posed a strategic threat to the United States, because it was actively engaged in a nuclear weapons program.

OLBERMANN: On the subject of what happened after your -- your reporting from Niger, the endgame regarding Scooter Libby, it is nice to know from the former vice president who the real victim of all this was here. Give me your assessment of his being able to say that with a straight face and point out who he may be leaving out of the equation on the list of who the victims were -- the individual victims anyway.

WILSON: Well, in addition to sort of betraying Valerie's identity as a covert CIA officer, every project, every program, every operation that she -- that she dealt with was compromised. She has personal friends who came under the scrutiny of their own domestic intelligence services because they knew her socially. So there were -- and in addition, as she likes to point out, and she knows this far better than I, when you see one of your own -- when you see somebody from the CIA being exposed like that and you are a foreigner who might have sensitive information, why would you bring it to us? If we can't protect one of our own, how could we be expected to protect you?

OLBERMANN: There is a Washington Post story that mentions some of the things that Cheney does not address at all in this book: The CIA 9/11 warning in August of 2001, which the White House ignored; the failure to kill Bin Laden at Tora Bora; the turning the federal surplus of 2000 into this extraordinary deficit with which we're still dealing; and waging two wars on a credit card.

Of all of those things or any others, what could Dick Cheney have actually addressed that he would have been able to provide genuine insight and perhaps some benefit to our understanding of our own nation that, in your opinion, that he would have left out of this book?

WILSON: Well, I think even worse than that -- first of all, I think he is just living in an alternate reality. But even worse than that, what he has effectively done, he has taken something, particularly torture and enhanced interrogation, which has been basically outlawed in the United States since George Washington was a general in the Revolutionary War. And he has taken that fundamentally unacceptable, not just in the United States, but thanks to American leadership, unacceptable in all but the most rogue nations -- Gadhafi's Libya comes immediately to mind -- and he's made it a subject of political discussion as if it were just a policy option. It wasn't, and it isn't. And he should really be held to account for what he openly admits were war crimes and crimes against humanity.

OLBERMANN: In that context, he's on the "Today" show this morning, and he's not recounting his new book which details his 18 months in a federal penitentiary. He's recounting his vice presidency. What, in light of all of this, and in light of how he has been treated since he's been vice president, since he left office, and in light of what this administration did and did not do about that administration, what, in your opinion, is there to stop the next Dick Cheney?

WILSON: Well, I think that's the problem. There has not yet arrived a point in American society where somebody can stand up and effectively say, "Where is the outrage?" We tried, obviously. And I think Mr. Cheney recounts his side of that particular battle where I was playing defense against all of the character assassination efforts leveled at me and my wife. But we need somebody really, finally, to stand up and say, "Where is the outrage?" I share Colonel Wilkerson's opinion, which I think he voiced on your show not too long ago, that one of the greatest disappointments for me in the Obama administration, and particularly the Eric Holder Justice Department, is that nobody has investigated whether or not the previous administration was in violation, widespread violation, of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

OLBERMANN: How true. I did a commentary on it, January 19th, 2009, with that sense of ominous foreboding that this would be exactly what happened, and it has. In any event, we thank you for standing up and asking where the outrage was seven years ago, nearly, or eight nears ago, nearly. And, of course, to Valerie, the same regards. And the same thanks once again for her principled stand on all of this. And as always, sir, a great pleasure to have some time to talk to you.

WILSON: Thanks very much, Keith. You're very kind.

OLBERMANN: Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

The town halls are back. And the Republicans are being hoist on their own grassroots petard. Two more senators blown out of the tub by applause, when ordinary people demand that the rich pay more to protect Social Security. The comeuppance -- that's next. This is "Countdown."


OLBERMANN: The senator whose comment about pulling the plug on grandma was the lowlight of the health care town halls of 2009 gets his comeuppance amid the inescapable evidence that these are the Social Security town halls of 2011.

Her cameo at the debt deal vote was just the beginning. The latest big and good news about Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

The president wants NASA to land on an asteroid. Derrick Pitts on the risks and the rewards and movies.

And the website report that makes the Andrea Mackris scandal look like a quick dance in the spring rain. Long Island police reportedly investigating one of their own detectives to see if he was having an affair with O'Reilly's wife, because a huge donation to the cop's charity hung in the balance. Cops, cash, cuckolds and falafels, ahead!


OLBERMANN: Two years ago, most Democrats stood flat-footed as protesters AstroTurfed and otherwise crashed their town halls to try to shout down health care reform. Remarkably, having benefited from the dramatic and often theatrical and often staged events, Republicans seem to have forgotten all about them and are now standing flat-footed as protesters crash their town halls.

However, in our fourth story at these meetings, the Republican supporters seem to have been joining the protesters in defense of Social Security. Listen first as Senator Chuck Grassley once did a little grandstanding at a town hall of his own gets hoisted by his own petard by somebody who wanted to know why you didn't have to pay Social Security taxes on any dollar you made above $106,800. Punch line? She's a small business owner and she has the All-American name of Rosie Partridge.


ROSIE PARTRIDGE: Why can't we raise the wage cap in order to ensure that Social Security can continue on as it is without talking about cutting it? And the business would pay more, too. And you know what? No complaints. We want to have Social Security.

OLBERMANN: Also getting the message, Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota, who said, "Frustration with congressional gridlock" ranks up there with "Don't cut my Social Security and Medicare. I've heard that quite a bit." Some Republicans have been even hostile to their citizen critics. One is the ironically named freshman Republican Daniel Webster, congressman of Florida, whose office compiled a watch list of people who had questioned him previously. It includes their names and photographs including 66-year-old Vietnam vet Ron Parsell who said, "It's pretty weird, somebody's got a dossier on you. It's the type of thing they do in old Russia."

Or in New Arkansas where political workers at meetings for Congressman Tim Griffin took photos and made videos of questioners trying to exercise their First Amendment rights. Let's bring in Amanda Terkel, senior political reporter for The Huffington Post.

Amanda, good evening.

AMANDA TERKEL: Hi, good evening.

OLBERMANN: Given that Chuck Grassley did the whole "Pull the plug on grandma" stunt at a town hall two years ago -- how in the hell did he not see this coming?

TERKEL: I mean, it's funny in many ways, conservatives created this beast. They told their supporters to get out there, make their voices heard and now that the voices out there aren't agreeing with the Republicans, they're saying, "We don't want to hear these voices any more."

I mean, Paul Ryan isn't even having town halls, as are many other Congressmen out there.

OLBERMANN: Wasn't Congressman Ryan the one was having them, but charging admission? How did that go? Did that limit it to supporters? Or was he able to vet the crowd the way that these others weren't like Thune and Chuck Grassley?

TERKEL: Well, a lot of lawmakers are speaking at private events. You know, it's for members only, there's an admission fee to get into [it]. So, if you're a member and you can pay the money, that's great, you can get into that event. But that's not something that's open for everyone, where supporters and people who disagree can all come, make their voices heard and give the congressmen messages, like don't touch my Social Security or Medicare.

OLBERMANN: Is the read on this correct that whoever is getting these people to the town halls -- whether they're activists or they bust in or they're absolute plants, who knows, Democratic committee women or committee men, whoever they are, that the response -- that the applause is actually coming from groups of Republicans supporting the Republican senators and congressmen who don't have anything to do with whoever just asked the question.

TERKEL: I mean, at these town halls there's always a mix of people. Are there organized groups who bring people in? Sure. But are they many people who just come because they are interested, they're frustrated, maybe they're supportive? Absolutely. So the emotion felt at these sorts of things is definitely real. I mean, we're having people -- one congressman, Steve Chabot in Ohio, tried to take away cameras from Democratic activists. But that was something that made tea party activists and progressives upset. So, the emotions out there around these issues are real as we heard in the Grassley clip.

OLBERMANN: Grassley, obviously, is not -- is only the most recent of these who sort of got stung at these events. Thune got this. The congressmen everywhere, as you mention a couple of them. Is there any idea of what their responses actually are to seeing these people -- the one remark from Thune, he seemed to be kind of foggy on the idea that this meant that Republicans and Democrats don't want him to touch Social Security. In other words, is the point getting through? Do we have any evidence of that?

TERKEL: I think we'll see when they come back from their break, Chuck Grassley said that "everything's on the table" in terms of, you know, changing payroll taxes and raising the wage cap. Other, Fred Upton, congressman from Michigan, said he is open to closing tax loopholes including for oil companies. So they say that everything is on the table, they're open to everything. But we hear that a lot. So, the test will be when they come back to Washington what will actually be on the table and on the agenda.

OLBERMANN: Amanda, about learning things and not paying attention to what happened two years ago, these two congressmen who made essentially enemies' lists of the questioners they don't like, did anybody remind them of how the tea party responded when Democrats tried things like that two years ago, that essentially, it energized the tea party, sort of shot them to the next level in terms of an organized group?

TERKEL: Yeah, I mean, this is something, again, like with the taking away of people's cameras and saying you can't record these public town hall events, this is the type of thing that no activist, whether on the right or the left or individual citizens, they don't like this at all. And, you know, they're trying -- there is no evidence that there's been any sort of violence so far at these town hall events. It's just people coming, they're frustrated, but they just want their voices heard.

OLBERMANN: You elect a bunch of newbies to Congress in 2010 and they don't know what happened in 2009. I always loved that idea. Amanda Terkel, senior politics reporter at The Huffington Post. Great thanks.

TERKEL: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Also from Congress, news from Tucson, that representative Gabrielle Giffords is walking with a cane and writing with her left hand, this according to the Arizona Daily Star newspaper. Gabby Giffords, of course, made it to the floor of the House in that dramatic and surprising moment to vote on the debt-ceiling bill. Her spokesman Ron Barber, who was wounded alongside her in Tucson in January, said she is on a path to full recovery but has not decided yet about whether to seek a fourth term in the election next year. Mr. Barber added, "She will not, I don't think, do anything unless she can do it extraordinarily well, but we won't see a decision for a while, late this year or early next," he adds.

Rick Perry saves time and Palin-like scandals. He purges his e-mails every week. The 2012 Republican clown car parade ahead!


OLBERMANN: It's getting desperate enough at Romney headquarters that the two-time presidential candidate, and son of a presidential candidate, is now taking shots at "career politicians." Next.

First, the sanity break. And on this date in 1893, Huey Pierce Long, Jr., was born. By the age 25, he had been elected to the Louisiana Railroad Commission, by 31, he was an unsuccessful candidate for governor, by 35 he was governor, and by 38 he had been elected senator while still being governor. He was planning to challenge FDR for the presidency in 1936, and had already written a book called "My First Days in the White House," when he was shot and killed by the son-in-law of a judge he had re-districted out of business. And you think we have unusual politicians.

"Time Marches On!"

We begin with the latest episode of "Animals, They're Just Like That."

What's that on the television, then? Looks like a penguin. Aw, he fell down. Down goes Frasier. That's why they always say look before you waddle. He gets up, dusts himself off and moves on apparently unharmed. No truth to the rumor that this was the trailer for the new movie, "Happy Feet, Broken Beak."

Hvar, Croatia, hello! We get the clubbing report from special guest, Prince Harry. Nice, having a whale of a time. There's a good chance he'll never be king, but that doesn't mean he can't become Lord of the Dance. He then decides to premiere his new dance, the belly flop. Release, rotation, splash. Clearly not worried about having to dance in wet shoes the rest of the night, Harry goes for the forward dive half twist. And either a copycat or the lifeguard followed the prince in briefly, then they both quickly got out. No word if Harry was prepared for this event or was wearing a bathing suit under his jeans.

Finally we check on the flood damage. And with water rising in New Jersey, it is harder and harder to get to those stranded. Unless, that is, you're part of the "Aqua Marine Corp." These literal heroes are risking life and limb to save citizens whose houses have been surrounded by water. But there's one thing I'm still trying to figure out.

MAN: How is that possible?

OLBERMANN: Well put, sir. I'm not sure if these guys are driving in scuba gear, or they have really good window calking, or they're just good at holding their breath, their straw. But however they're doing it, we all salute you and thank you for your efforts. "Time Marches On!"

This one has all of the elements. Sex, police, infidelity, Bill O'Reilly. Bill O'Reilly's money possibly inducing the police to police the other police about the sex. The worst scandal In the world, ahead.


OLBERMANN: We are live from the M.C. Escher Studios Bar and Grill, in New York each night at 8 p.m. We re-transmit into your home or wherever you're watching this at 11 p.m., 2 a.m., 7 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m.

We call it our little miracle.

This is the state of the play in the Republican presidential race. Mitt Romney, 20 points behind Rick Perry in one poll, is now reduced to decrying Perry as a career politician. In our third story tonight, that's Governor Mitt Romney, two-time presidential candidate, son of Governor George Romney, one-time presidential candidate, and brother of Scott Romney, candidate for attorney general of Michigan. Meanwhile, at the Tulsa press club, Governor Perry reaffirmed that whatever happens to the nation's fragile economy he would not endorse a stimulus package, saying, "You won't have a stimulus program under a Perry presidency. You won't spend all of the money." And he added that the nation's "entrepreneurial spirit" would "get America working again." Pledge to change the tax code to be "light on job creators." Presidential candidate Perry might not be too fond of stimulus programs, but Governor Perry certainly was.

He accepted billions in federal stimulus money, which Texas used to balance its last two budgets. And while Candidate Perry is now calling on Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke to open the books, as governor, Perry was not quite that much of a fan of transparency, according to the Houston Chronicle. Withholding information in response to an estimated 100 open records requests, and requiring that his staff's e-mails be purged every seven days. Those revelations haven't done much to dampen Republican enthusiasm for Perry, at this point anyway. In South Carolina, Perry now leads Romney by 20 points, 36 percent to 16 percent. Romney today going on the attack, calling Perry a career politician. Part of a new strategy that Romney advisors are calling death by a thousand cuts.


ROMNEY: Now, I'm a conservative businessman, I've spent most of my life outside politics, dealing with real problems in the real economy. Career politicians got us into this mess, and they simply don't know how to get us out.

OLBERMANN: Didn't say who the death was for. Death by a thousand mike buzz sounds. For now, it sure looks like the president isn't sure how to get us out, either. His major jobs speech is just a week away, reportedly though, he hasn't yet settled on the plan that he will announce. Aides say he is still weighing whether to focus on ideas guaranteed to pass the Republican controlled House, or to announce more ambitious plans that might excite his base. Take a guess which one is more likely. At least for now, the GOP candidates seem to be too distracted with each other to even notice.

Let's turn to Nia-Malika Henderson, national political reporter of The Washington Post.

Good to talk to you again, Nia.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Good to be here, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Obviously, Governor Romney can talk of others as career politicians, implying that he is not one with a straight face. Is there any sign that such a characterization does not illicit laughter among certain Republican voters or among the other Republican candidates?

HENDERSON: Well, it certainly seems like Romney has at least been running for president for the last 10 years. So that's one thing. And if you look at Perry, you know, you have obviously Romney's campaign saying this is going to be a campaign, death by a thousand cuts. But I think one of the problems he is going to have, is Perry is going to be a buzz saw. He's gonna be out there and really attacking Romney, going at him for his record on job creations in Massachusetts and, also, this health care plan. So, you know, for now, you've got a campaign where his advisors sort of leak stuff to reporters and talk about the other candidates in a sort of, you know, no-finger-prints way. And this sort of under the radar, going on the offense against Perry, but I think at some point, he really is going to have to come out fighting. And we'll see in the debate if he does that. Now, what's happened over the last almost two or three hours is that Romney has decided to go down to South Carolina and do this tea party forum which he had initially said he wouldn't be able to. So we do see, I think, over the last couple of days that Romney is changing his strategy, eying Perry who has surged in the polls, and it looks like this is in many ways bigger than an announcement bounce, he is doing, you know, so well, 20, 30 points ahead of Romney. And then I think Romney's also got to worry about, you know, 30 percent of the vote in these polls is still behind people like Bachmann, like Cain and Santorum. And this isn't a vote that would look like it would actually go to Romney. It would probably more likely go to Perry.

OLBERMANN: And to that end, Romney went after President Obama today, too, his foreign policy, he described as a disgrace. Is there a sense that Romney's at the -- "I've got to throw a 90-yard touchdown pass or lose" state of this campaign already? Is he already treating it in those terms?

HENDERSON: It's almost like he is. You've seen a very competent Romney out on the stump for now. You know, not a lot of mistakes other than the expansion of his house and this comment about corporations are people. So you do see a little shifting there. And you've got to look at those polls if you're the Romney campaign and be worried. And also look at this primary calendar and see that there are a lot of Southern states that are bunched up in there on Super Tuesday, places like Alabama, places like Arkansas, obviously South Carolina and those states simply favor Perry. I talked to some advisors and Republican strategists down in South Carolina who basically say that Romney has been a no-show down down there. And that Perry's advantage down there is that he is very much culturally like folks in the South. That Romney doesn't have a lot of, kind of, cultural connection with those folks down there.

OLBERMANN: What is the calculus? Do you have any sense of this behind Perry coming out against the stimulus? I mean, obviously that's a big winner among his base and any potential voters he wants to attract from those lesser candidates in that same group that you described, but he has left a trail a mile wide of the stimulus money he accepted. Is there just the assumption that nobody is going to look?

HENDERSON: I think in some ways that's probably it. And if you look at the way Perry sort of parries back and forth when he's asked these questions, it's almost as if he doesn't really engage. There was -- in his interview that he gave, for instance, about abstinence spending in his state. Now he -- they practice abstinence or teach abstinence in the schools there, but they still have the third highest teenage pregnancy rate there, so he was going back and forth with the reporter, and he simply said, "Oh, well, abstinence teaching works," you know, no matter what the stats say. So I think you're gonna see this candidate who very much, you know, even though the reality he clearly accepted the stimulus money, he's gonna just get up there and talk about, you know, being anti-stimulus because it's what his party wants to hear.

OLBERMANN: Yeah. As that -- my favorite quote of the last month goes, "I think they don't know we can see them." Nia-Malika Henderson of The Washington Post, as always thanks kindly for some of your time tonight.

HENDERSON: Take care, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Even after the stunt walk-off from the TV chat show, how many copies of her book has Christine O'Donnell sold? Hint. You could fit them in a small van. "Worst Persons" ahead on "Countdown."


OLBERMANN: How Dave and Frank and HAL the computer from "2001: A Space Odyssey" are being used to claim that Apple doesn't really have the patent on the iPad. Dave.

First, the "Worsts." Now we know why Fox News did a segment last week on how the website Gawker is no longer relevant. Its report tonight about Bill O'Reilly -- Mrs. Bill O'Reilly -- Mrs. Bill O'Reilly's close friend, the detective, the detectives who investigated the detective to find out how close friends he really was with her, and a large cash contribution. All adding up to make the Andrea Mackris story look like a first date.

Next on "Countdown."


OLBERMANN: Land astronauts on asteroids. And the claim that Apple can't patent the iPad because you can see an iPad in the movie "2001."

That's next.

First, since the word to describe these next people is close to asteroids, but not exactly the same, here are "Countdown's" top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons In The World."

The bronze tonight to one-time Senate candidate, Christine O'Donnell. Remember the big hype about her book? Including what is becoming, in retrospect, increasingly obvious as a staged walk-off from a celebrity chat show? Hasn't helped. The first week book scan bookstore sales are in. Miss O'Donnell's "Troublemaker" is making trouble only for the publisher. It sold 2,200 copies nationwide, 1,500 of them to "supporters," in her home state of Delaware, which means there were only 700 copies we can say with assurance were bought by actual readers. Moreover, sales at Amazon and Barnes & Noble online were less than 100 copies each. The audio version sold 12 copies. Twelve. And a Fort Myers, Florida, newspaper reports that a book signing at a store in Naples, Florida, to kind of a small crowd -- five people. Plus, the Tea Party of America officials have now dropped O'Donnell from a scheduled appearance alongside Sarah Palin this weekend. She's not a witch. And obviously, she's not an author. Advice, Ms. O'Donnell, walk off more shows and keep walking.

The silver tonight to former Wisconsin Republican Congressman Mark Neumann. Hello, Neumann. He says he will seek the GOP nomination for the Wisconsin Senate seat next year. He says he expects to face Democrat Tammy Baldwin, who's openly gay. He already took a shot at her saying, he promised to bring her record "to the forefront."

Unfortunately judging by Neumann's record, what he means is, he's gonna do a lot of homophobic dog whistling. In the '90s he told The New York Times, "If I was elected God for a day, homosexuality wouldn't be permitted, but nobody's electing me God." A year later, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted him as saying, "If a job applicant came into his office and said he or she was a homosexual, I would say that's inappropriate, and they wouldn't be hired because that would mean they are promoting their agenda." Later he said, "The gay and lesbian lifestyle is unacceptable, lest there be any question about that."

Neumann got around to apologizing last year -- for the wrong part.

"The part about me being God for a day is the problem with that. I regret talking about the fact that I would be God."

But our winner, speaking of which, Billo the Clown, back with a vengeance, thanks to some reporting by the website Gawker.

You may recall years ago before he was fired from his syndicated radio show, that a caller mentioned my name to O'Reilly and he responded by saying that the caller's name would then be turned over to Fox security, and soon he'd be receiving a little visit from the police. You may also recall there was a little problem with Bill and one of his producers, and his phone calls to her about three-ways and loofahs, and improbably about falafels.

Today, the two topics merged into one. This is going to be easier if I just read the first paragraph directly. Shall I?

"Last summer, Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly came to believe that his wife was romantically involved with another man. Not just any man, but a police detective in the Long Island community they call home. So, O'Reilly did what any concerned husband would do, he pulled strings to get the police department's internal affairs unit to investigate one of their own for messing with the wrong man's lady."

Wait, Internal Affairs investigated Mrs. O'Reilly's alleged internal affair?

Gawker has identified the Nassau County Internal Affairs Unit detective actually assigned to investigate Billo's alleged cuckolder. "The source provided contemporaneous e-mail traffic to support his account. He told me, 'You'll never guess what happened to me the other day. Do you know Bill O'Reilly?' I got called into my boss' office saying they wanted me to meet with these two PIs" -- that would be Private Investigators, "working for O'Reilly to go over some information because a detective was having an affair with O'Reilly's wife."

He'll turn this over to Fox Security! He'll be receiving a little visit from the local authorities!

"The investigation was highly sensitive for two reasons, the source said. One, it was ordered directly by then-police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey, and, two, O'Reilly was at the time considering making a major donation to the Nassau County Police Department Foundation, a private, not-for-profit foundation Mulvey helped found in 2009 to raise money for construction of a planned $48 million police training facility at Nassau Community College. These internal affairs cops were on the case at the behest of Mulvey in order to get O'Reilly's funds," the source said.

Oh, great. So now it's not trying to get the cops to get a cop to stop an alleged affair with Mrs. O'Reilly. It's trying to get the cops to stop a cop to stop an alleged affair with Mrs. O'Reilly, in exchange for donations to the policemen's charity. So where's the evidence?

Unfortunately Gawker not only has records of Mrs. Billo buying her own house down the street from the family home, and being removed as a director of the O'Reilly Family Foundation, but the Nassau Police Commissioner kind of confirmed the investigation when he told them, "I don't know if the investigation is ongoing or concluded," Mulvey said, "so I wouldn't comment." You just did.

Several observers have noted that while his ratings have been largely unaffected, in the last year, Billo seems to have lost his controversy fastball. Now you know why. He's been busy. Getting the cops to investigate the guy who allegedly cuckolded him. Bill O'Reilly. Falafels aren't just for guys anymore -- today's "Worst Person In The World."


OLBERMANN: Donald Sutherland has already done it in "Space Cowboys," Ben Affleck in "Armageddon." And, of course, Tea Leoni scooped them all on the subject in "Deep Impact." Living again, in our number one story on the "Countdown," NASA gets all its good ideas from the movies, landing men and women on an asteroid by the year 2025. Maybe even Tea Leoni. NASA's new manned spaceflight office now charged with working on a design for a heavy-lift spacecraft, capable of reaching deep space and then returning the astronauts safely to Earth.

Astronauts would then be on course to reach an asteroid by 2025 and accomplish a manned mission to the Mars -- to Mars, not "The Mars" by the mid 2030s. "The Mars" would be the place they make the Mars bars. Okay, what actors went to Mars?

There is little doubt that future voyages would include some sort of tablet-computer device. Even less doubtful Apple would like to corner the market. But look no further than a lawsuit in California federal district court against Samsung for proof of that. Lawyers representing Apple claim that Samsung infringed on its iPad patents with similar designs in its line of devices.

Last week, Samsung challenged those patent claims by using a movie. See what I did there?

It all ties together with invisible thread! Samsung claims Stanley Kubrick, in essence, invented the iPad in "2001: A Space Odyssey," where the astronauts, on their way to Jupiter, are watching TV on a tablet kind of thingy, there. You see it, next to the baby meal they're having there?

It looks pretty much like an iPad.

To comment on all of this, I am joined by Derrick Pitts, the chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute, contributor, of course, to "Countdown."

Good to see you, sir.

DERRICK PITTS: Hi, how are you, Keith?

OLBERMANN: Not bad, but I've got to ask you something about asteroids and our desire to go there. Does NASA know something they're not telling us again? Is there one out there with our name on it, due here in 2025? Is that what this is all about?

PITTS: No, it's really more about a training event than anything else, you know? When you think about the idea of sending people out to Mars, one of the things we have to consider is that, you know, the trip out to Mars is six months, at least, to get out there. It's not like going to the moon, which is just three days away. It's six months out. And we have no experience with a six-month trip to a location where we have no facilities and, in case we get stuck, we are going to be there for a while. So the idea of the asteroid is, why not use that as sort of like a preliminary dry run for a trip to Mars? Send some folks out to an asteroid, six months out and use that as a trainer for going on to Mars.

OLBERMANN: And they just ride it for six months or they try to direct it towards Mars or what is it? Next asteroid to Mars?

PITTS: They -- No, they hollow it out and turn it into apartments on the West Side.


PITTS: That's what they do.


PITTS: Yeah. No, what they actually can do there is -- there's all sorts of science that can be done at an asteroid, learning about the early history of the solar system.


PITTS: And possibly looking for, you know, minerals and things like that, that could be used, possibly, for building spacecraft off Earth in the future, but it's really mostly about the training for the possible trip to Mars that we're looking at here.

OLBERMANN: All right, so, wouldn't we have that training by now, if we hadn't changed course 40 years ago? I mean, we did the manned space flight to the moon and there were all sorts other plans in the books to go to Mars and elsewhere and then we -- we pivoted off to Skylab and the space shuttle and the space station.

And now we're back to manned spaceflight. Why did we ever go away from the, sort of solo, traditional, sci-fi, get in the rocket and go wherever you want to go thing?

PITTS: Well, the basic thing that happened was we lost interest. After the Apollo program -- after Apollo 17, actually, Keith, what happened was we proved the point that we could beat the Russians to the moon. And once we had done that, there was really no, sort of, scientific impetus for -- or at least impetus in the American public to continue the missions to the moon, which we should have done. If we had done that, by now, we would have done all the practice at the moon, establishing bases, living there for a long time and then using that as a jumping off place, perhaps, to go on to Mars. That would've probably been done by now or very near to being done.

So, in a way, we are back to square one at that, because making a trip to Mars, as I said, is no joke. It's no trivial matter.

OLBERMANN: And we've already lost the race to the asteroids to the movies and to the Canadians in Donald Sutherland. Now, what do we do about that?

PITTS: Yeah, I think all we have to do is just ask Bruce Willis about what it's like out there on asteroid and he'll give us the answer. But that's the -- that's the plan. It's not such a bad one. It's just that it takes daring.

OLBERMANN: One other deep space question. I only know this much about it, so I'm literally in the dark, asking you this question. There's a new planet made out of diamonds? Huh?

PITTS: Shh. I'm just about to mine it.

OLBERMANN: I was gonna -- don't tell Newt Gingrich. He'll put out an account on it, yes?

PITTS: No, this is a very interesting thing because, you know, one aspect about astronomy that we've certainly come to learn is that there's so many more things possible out in the universe, where the universe can sort of manifest all these, sort of strange ways of physics that we can't find here on Earth. So it's not unusual that we might find a star that is made of diamonds or has a core of diamonds. A planet is a little bit more unusual, but if you get the conditions just right, with the right amount of carbon and the right pressure -- if you can get it high enough, you can certainly squeeze it into diamonds. In this case, it's crystalline, so I think we could mine some of that, if we could just get there and get it back.

OLBERMANN: Yeah, and it's next to the planet made of out falafel.

The Samsung-Apple suit. Is there -- I mean -- and this is a little bit off the beaten path 'cause it's about a movie and it's about a concept, but is there any merit to this, from your point of view as a scientist that because you showed this in the movie "2001," therefore there's no exclusivity to the concept of the computerized tablet?

PITTS: Well, it depends how deeply you want to dig with this, because, after all, wouldn't it be that someone with smart phones might try to sue the folks that created the "Dick Tracy" wristwatch phone? You know, or anything like that? And the other thing we have to consider is, when we look at all the science-fiction that's around, the new technology we have, we have to think about what comes first. Is it the science fiction that drives the inventions or is it the inventions that drive the science fiction? So, if you start trading these things back and forth, what you'll find is there's a lot of overlap and in this case, I think it's gone a little bit too far.

OLBERMANN: Yeah, on the other hand, if anybody has got a right to sue, it would have been Arthur C. Clarke, 'cause that probably -- it was either his idea or Kubrick's, so they would have been the ones who have the complaint.

PITTS: Yeah, and he could collect on a lot because, of all the satellites in our orbit right now --

OLBERMANN: Exactly. Basically all of them.

PITTS: Basically all of them.

OLBERMANN: Derrick Pitts, the chief astronomer of The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and we're proud to say "Countdown" contributor. Great thanks, as always, sir.

PITTS: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: We're heading to the planet made of diamonds. Diamonds. And there's a planet made of gold. It has Glenn Beck's head on it.

That's "Countdown" for this, the 30th day since the Republican's debt ceiling blackmail worked. Speaker Boehner, where are the jobs? Where's our credit rating?

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