'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
ShowPlug1: Shaft of light on jobs speech? Cantor trying to move in on any Jobs push, says GOP has been heavy on the cuts, light on growth
ShowPlug2: TPM's @BrianBeutler on latest, day before the speech; Contributor @Markos Moulitsas on POTUS's big policy, politics chance
ShowPlug3: Gov. Chris Christie: a sheep in wolf's clothing. He was secret keynoter at Koch Brothers' conclave. W/ @KenVogel
ShowPlug4: How is Leon Panetta still Secretary of Defense? First the 9/11-Iraq link, now pushing to keep troops there past deadline?
ShowPlug5: TV's Bloopers And Practical Jokes AKA The GOP Debate. Highlights given exactly the seriousness they deserve by @ChristFinnegan
ShowPlugLast: Worsts: The continuing "take them out" controversy. James Hoffa's? No. Michele Bachmann's. See you at 8 EDT.
watch whole playlist
Bonus: Countdown to Countdown Moment
#5 'Prepping the Plan', Brian Beutler
#5 'Prepping the Plan', Markos Moulitsas
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#4 'Speaking in Secret', Ken Vogel
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
# Time Marches On!
#3 'The Troop Truth', Karl Frisch
#2 Worst Persons: StarvingEyes Advergaming, Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Michele Bachmann
#1 'The Grate Debate', Christian Finnegan
printable PDF transcript
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? The president before his jobs speech will not meet with Republican leaders, nor with Progressive leaders.
(Excerpt from video clip) JAY CARNEY: I do not believe that anyone out there in the country thinks that the answer to getting Washington out of gridlock is having another round before this speech of meetings in the Capitol.
OLBERMANN: Let the disrespecting begin. Senator David Vitter of Louisiana won't attend the speech.
(Excerpt from video clip) DAVID VITTER: I'm going to be watching from my family room in Metairie, Louisiana, because I have a Saints game party there and I'm absolutely going to be there for the big game.
OLBERMANN: Diaper up, Senator. However, the Republicans drop a hint that they want in on the jobs bandwagon. Eric Cantor trying to glom onto the president's plan to extend unemployment benefits.
The acceptable face of fascism. The secret keynote speaker at the secret Koch brothers confab, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey as introduced that day by David Koch.
(Excerpt from audio clip) DAVID KOCH: I'm really impressed and inspired by this man. He is my kind of guy.
OLBERMANN: Chris Christie, moderate, becomes Chris Christie, Koch brothers' extremist.
(Excerpt from audio clip) CHRIS CHRISTIE: The good news for all of you and for me is that the governorship in New Jersey is the most powerful constitutional governorship in America.
OLBERMANN: Defense Secretary Panetta reportedly wants to keep troops in Iraq after the deadline for withdrawal, 3,000 or 4,000. First, he blamed 9/11 on Iraq, then he claimed we were within reach of strategically defeating al-Qaida, now this. Why is this man still Secretary of Defense?
"Worsts," the take-them-out controversy. Not his. Hers.
(Excerpt from video clip) MICHELE BACHMANN: We need to have your help for candidates like me who stand up for you, and we need you to take out some of these bad guys.
OLBERMANN: And the highlights from tonight's Republican debates. Well, low lights. Okay, excerpts. Fine, fine. Recorded moments of disaster. No, you're right. The sound bites that make you think they are all tripping. All that and more now on "Countdown"!
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Wednesday, September 7th, 426 days until the 2012 presidential election. And on the eve of President Obama's jobs address to a joint session of Congress, something unexpected, something off script has actually happened.
The fifth story on the "Countdown," amid the Republicans' prepackaged talking point critiques -- A, Mr. Obama's address to a joint session of Congress will be all about politics, not about substance, and, B, just another call to borrow money we don't have to spend on things we might like but can't afford, there was an unlikely C, a political calculation by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor today that his party has indeed gone overboard on the cuts and underserved the growth that whatever the president says tomorrow night, he will own the conversation about jobs and the Republicans had better figure out a way to grab some of the credit, in other words. President Obama, saving the specifics for Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, we will carry the address live, followed by an extended edition of "Countdown." White House press secretary Jay Carney gave us some boiler plate on what to expect.
(Excerpt from video clip) CARNEY: He will put forward, both in his speech and in supporting material, a very detailed series of proposals to grow the economy and create jobs. They will be specific. They will be measurable. They will be paid for, and they will be by any objective standard the kinds of measures that have enjoyed bipartisan support in the past.
OLBERMANN: Beyond those generalities, notice especially Mr. Carney's comment that they will be paid for, a few details have leaked out. The president's proposal said to include $200 billion to $300 billion in tax cuts and spending, though there are late reports tonight that the White House seems to be trying to leak that the number is closer to $400 billion. Nevertheless, that compares poorly to the about $800 billion in the stimulus money two years ago. The new figure, whatever it is, would include renewal of the 2 percent payroll tax cut, which could be extended to businesses as well as individuals. Tax credits including incentives for firms that hire the unemployed, along with money for school renovation projects, job training, preventing teacher lay-offs and extending jobless benefits for the employed. And following last Friday's surrender on tough air pollution standards, the White House, now denying a report in The New York Times that it will consider a moratorium on federal regulations that could impact the economy. Spokesman Clark Stevens saying, "The president will not accept the false choice of either having prosperity or clean air, clean water and safe food." Could have used that certitude last week.
Progressives in Congress would like to speak to the president before he speaks tomorrow. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, Representative Judy Chu, the chairwoman of the Asian-Pacific American Caucus, Representative Charles Gonzalez from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressman Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva, co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, all asking for a meeting with the president, as did Republican House Leaders Boehner and Cantor. The White House response -- no meetings, no phone calls to announce. And, specifically, regarding that GOP request.
(Excerpt from video clip) CARNEY: What is not required is for the president to negotiate in advance the elements of a jobs package with members of Congress.
OLBERMANN: Though some members of Congress have apparently made up their minds already, or memorized their talking points already, like the intolerable Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
(Excerpt from video clip) MITCH McCONNELL: I think what we will hear tomorrow night is some additional spending items recommended by the president.
OLBERMANN: At least he's going to give the president the courtesy of actually showing up. Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter has other plans. He is too busy watching football.
(Excerpt from video clip) VITTER: I'm going to be watching from my family room in Metairie, Louisiana. I don't know what the overall message is. I think it's widely understood that this is more a political speech than a substantive speech.
And South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson, you may recall his infamous shout of "you lie" at the president's 2009 health care speech, tweeted, "Sitting on airplane during delay. Is President Obama creating bad weather to keep us conservatives out of Washington?" If only he could. As our friends at Daily Kos pointed out, the impossibly thick Mr. Wilson just inadvertently confirmed he believes that science is right, that man does indeed cause climate change. Way to go, Sparky.
And last, we hear that unexpected development from one Republican at least, a more significant conservative who's apparently staying in Washington. House Majority Leader Cantor who has made positive comments today about the emerging details of the president's speech. But they're a little bit more than that, Cantor acknowledging the Republicans have been all about cuts and not about jobs this year. He told the politics website The Hill, it's imperative that all of us work together to grow the economy. Suggesting he could support an extension of the payroll tax cuts, admitting it was something he supported in the past. And he added, "We believe in infrastructure spending. There are potential areas of agreement that we could have on unemployment benefits." And to put all of this in perspective, this fight over boosting jobs and the economy is coming as the Pew Charitable Trusts release a report that nearly one-third of all Americans who grew up middle class are not middle class any longer. Middle class, defined as earning between around $33,000 and $64,000 a year for a family of four. And that study was compiled before the country went into the great recession. In short, help is desperately needed. I'm joined now by Brian Beutler, reporter with Talking Points Memo, who wrote about the challenge the president will face tomorrow when he tries to focus the government on creating jobs. Brian, good evening.
BRIAN BEUTLER: Good to be back, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I want to get to what you wrote in a minute, but frankly, the news of the day, I think, is this very underreported Cantor stuff from The Hill. Two questions on quotes. Here's the first one, "We've been about cut and grow," obviously, he's referring to his own party, "the fact is, for the last eight months-plus, we've been about cuts, that's why it is imperative that all of us join together, work with the president, to see how we can grow this economy."
Am I wrong, or does it sound like he put the brakes on the basic GOP approach here? Is he acknowledging that the Republicans are terrified no that matter what the president proposes tomorrow, no matter how meager that might be, the president eludes any ray of hope that ensues and they have to try to get into that shaft of light with him?
BEUTLER: I think that's about right. If you go back to what Eric Cantor and most Republicans were saying back in February and March at the beginning of their -- of their -- of their tenure in the House is that cut and grow, cut was part of grow. That if you cut federal spending, you would clear out overcrowding that was crowding out private sector spending and that it would, on its own, create jobs. It would create economic growth. That has failed abysmally. And everybody knows it's failed abysmally. And, you know, Republicans and Democrats alike have seen their popularity tank as a result of this misplaced focus. And so, if the president comes out now and says Congress has been completely misguided on this stuff and here are a bunch of things that I think will create jobs and here's exactly how they'll create jobs, and Republicans say, "No, no, no, we want to stick with this cuts thing that is actually harming growth," then -- then, he'll be strengthening the president's position. By saying, what we need to do is work together on this growth package is -- is -- is basically trying to hug the president in a moment where he thinks he might have a moment of strength.
OLBERMANN: The other quote was about, obviously, about town halls and what constituents told Republican, I presume, members of the House last month. "Frankly what I heard is," Cantor said, "They've lost a lot of confidence in Washington and while they're going through such times, they're frankly sick of the rancor in this town." Well again, that's -- that wipes out the entire Republican operating procedure handbook since 2009. If Cantor is saying that in those terms, what must he have heard last month about these town halls? Nuclear explosions that the rest of us didn't know about?
BEUTLER: I have a sort of different take on --
BEUTLER: -- on -- on this rhetoric which, you know, Mitch McConnell sort of repeated, as like, you know, Americans must be sad to see us back in Washington because they're so disappointed with how Congress and the government has not responded to their needs. There was a -- there was an essay that ran over the weekend that maybe some of your viewers saw.
It ran on the website, truth-out.org. It was by a former Republican staffer, 30-year Republican congressional staffer named Mike Lofgren, who said that -- that basically a big part of -- of the long-term Republican strategy is to sort of create these governing crises or these problems in governance and then come back to Washington after it's had a chance to settle in with the public and say, you know, the country is extremely upset with the state of their government and that feeds into, their -- their broader rhetoric about how government isn't the solution to anybody's problems and if you want, you know, if you want the solution to appear on its own, you should elect Republicans. I think that that is sort of what's happening, is that -- is that -- is that Republicans are trying to say sort of subtlety in a coded way, if you vote Democrats out, you won't have this, you know, messy government situation gumming up the works for you any more.
OLBERMANN: All right. About your piece today, you wrote that Mr. Obama had locked a piece of his legacy in place when he made reducing the deficit a prior to at the start of the administration and you're suggesting that was a significant error. Expound on that for a minute or so.
BEUTLER: Okay. So, this actually dates back to his campaign. He knew that he was inheriting a large debt, big structural deficits. He said on the campaign trail that -- that attacking budget issues was going to be a big part of his presidency. He then passed the stimulus, which he also said he was going to pass and he -- he-- he took a lot of knocks for it because it added to the deficit and added to the debt, and so, quickly pivoted from that to the position that basically, everything should be paid for better. And then beyond that, over time, to -- to embracing sort of Republican rhetoric on the idea that -- that not just that -- that government should be like a family and balance its books, but that balancing its books is actually good for the economy, it's good economics, it's good for growth. And he did that all before there was any proof or any real demonstration that the recovery was fully taking hold and it turned out, of course, the recovery was not taking hold. And so his -- his challenge now is to sort of undo a year, a year and a half worth of rhetoric that he sold to the public that by -- that by, you know, focusing on deficits, by agreeing to Republican cuts, by seeking a balanced approach to sort of this big $4 trillion austerity package, that would be good for the economy and help job growth and it hasn't, and now he's got to sell them something that's sort of the opposite. More spending, more direct job creation, even though -- even though that will lead, in the short term anyway, to higher deficits.
OLBERMANN: And do so in 50 minutes tomorrow night. Brian Beutler of Talking Points Memo. As always, thank you Brian.
BEUTLER: Thank you Keith.
OLBERMANN: For another perspective on the buildup to tomorrow's jobs speech, I am joined by Daily Kos founder and publisher, and "Countdown" contributor, Markos Moulitsas. Good evening, Markos.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right, now this latest report out of CNN is that perhaps the number in terms of impact is $400 billion instead of $300 billion or $200 billion. It's still half of what the stimulus was and the stimulus barely made an impact. Although, it clearly made an impact. This is the way you get an economy restarted when people are not spending money. If -- if the president can't get it past a House, that is owned by the Republicans and timid Democrats, why isn't he shooting the works? Why isn't he saying a million-job march, or do you think he might?
MOULITSAS: I would hope so. I hope these are trial balloons and that real details are still being worked out, or finagled or whatnot. There are two reasons that Obama should shoot for a bigger number. One is the one that you just stated. It's a good place to sort of set a marker for the 2012 election saying, "This is what we are going to go for, we're going to go to get people employed. And this is how we are going to do it. Sure, it may cost a little bit of money, but what's more important? The way to reduce deficits is to get people working." And people want to work. That's their number one issue. But, the second reason is, as you talked about earlier, is that Cantor is kind of hinting that he may be willing to deal. So, why go in as your opening gambit, a $300 billion, $400 billion jobs program.
MOULITSAS: Go in with $1 billion, and then negotiate it down. This is one of the problems we've had with the Obama administration from day one. They do not know how to negotiate.
OLBERMANN: The -- those quotes that I read from Cantor, as you picked up, solicitous, cooperative, "our party overdid it on cuts, underdid it on jobs." And never mind how much obvious B.S. there is built into anything that Eric Cantor says, shouldn't that be easy-to-read code for the White House? I mean, shouldn't the president and everybody there be -- be -- be pouncing on that if at least in terms of confidence and tone and how to set up the next, you know, 14 months before the election?
MOULITSAS: Yeah, absolutely. You have the House majority leader basically conceding that what the economy needs is more spending. Now, of course he'll come back with details saying, well, the price is you've got to slash Medicare or you got to get rid of Obamacare or whatever crap he is going to demand in return, but his basic premise is that the economy, they need to pay attention to the economy and the way to try to get people working is to do things like infrastructure spending and extending unemployment benefits.
OLBERMANN: What happens to his re-election chances if he comes out tomorrow and says something along the lines of what Cantor said, that people are sick of the rancor in Washington, and I can't deal with this divided Congress, and we have to work together rather than saying the Republicans have put us into this mess deliberately. Screw them and here is how I plan to screw them. What if he goes for the former and not something more like the latter?
MOULITSAS: The problem with the former, the recon -- the conciliation one, that we need to negotiate, is that it is simply not working. I mean, if Obama was winning Independents in the polling, if he was winning swing groups, then I could say, well, it bothers me personally that he wants to negotiate with Demo -- with Republicans, but you know what, it's working because the polling is clear. The problem is that the president's approach is not working. He -- he's at about 25 percent among Independents in the latest Gallup polling, he's under 50 percent with Latinos, under 50 percent with young voters, under 50 percent with post-grad -- with college educated people. These are strong Democratic constituencies and he's under 50 percent with them and he's under 30 percent with Independents. It's not working. So, what he needs to do is obviously change his approach. People want some fight, I think. People want to get the sense that Obama cares more about getting them jobs than making nice with Cantor.
OLBERMANN: Harry Truman tomorrow? Any hope? Any hope it's Harry Truman? A sudden burst of Harry Truman. A squall of Harry Truman.
MOULITSAS: Well, like I say, I mean, I hope those people in the White House know how to read polling, because --
MOULITSAS: -- it hasn't worked, so it has to. But, if it's $200 billion, $300 billion, $400 billion, we're not going to be seeing Harry Truman.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, flood the White House with links to The Hill article from Cantor. Maybe that will do it. Markos Moulitsas, founder and publisher of Daily Kos, "Countdown" contributor and tonight's runaway winner in tie of the night. Congratulations.
MOULITSAS: Thanks so much.
OLBERMANN: We will talk to you tomorrow. That's when we will carry the president's address live, as part of a special two-hour edition of "Countdown." We'll begin at 7 and go to 9 Eastern, obviously. Among our scheduled guests, Markos, Senator Bernie Sanders, Congressman Keith Ellison, Raul Grijalva along with Eliot Spitzer, the economist Jeff Madrick, and Ryan Grim of The Huffington Post.
Hard to believe Republicans could still shock anybody. However, the secret unannounced keynote speaker at the Koch brothers evil conclave in June, alleged moderate Republican Governor Chris Christie, another sheep in wolf's clothing. That's next, this is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: They are positioning the governor of New Jersey as a moderate face of conservatism. Well, they were. Until this keynote address to a Koch brother summit leaked out. It turned out he tried to keep it a secret.
First he claimed the country had something to do, Iraq, that is, with 9/11. Now another inexplicable Bushian message about Iraq. Why is this man the Secretary of Defense?
She is fund-raising off the take-them-out-by voting comments by James Hoffa. Guess what we found in the video archives, what she said.
And if you're thinking of watching the GOP debate, no, your brain cells are precious. We're watching for you. We'll have low lights and an instant analysis of the GOP edition of "America's Got No Republican Presidential Talent." Ahead on "Countdown".
OLBERMANN: Newly revealed audiotapes reveal New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was the secret keynote speaker at a secret Koch brothers' conference. Yes, those Koch brothers, the billionaire right-wing nut jobs who have fueled the tea party's rise, and who are hoping for their next act to dismantle this country's environmental regulations and its social programs. In our fourth story tonight, Governor Christie embraced by an audience of wealthy donors all hoping to help win what Charles Koch calls the "mother of all wars" to unseat the president. That war being fought covertly with the event closed to the public and Christie's office keeping it off of his calendar and making almost no comment today. Meaning none of his 8 million constituents, nor the Republicans, trying to pitch him as the reasonable one in the sea of zealots knew their governor was there. The only event listed on his schedule that day was this appearance on "Meet the Press," where he claimed that despite his reputation for being a bully, he's really just misunderstood.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRIS CHRISTIE: I'm huggable and lovable, David. I am not abrasive at all.
OLBERMANN: Huggable, loveable and in bed with billionaire right-wing extremists trying to hug him. After that appearance he jetted off to Vail, Colorado, where he was warmly received by David and Charles Koch, whose combined net worth $44 billion makes them richer than every American except Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. And they are using that fortune to blast away at environmental regulations and social services and corporate tax rates 'cause $44 billion ain't enough these days. Most recently by funding Americans for prosperity, their prosperity. the largest backers of the tea party movement. Now, it seems they've found their front man in audiotapes obtained by Mother Jones magazine, David Koch introduces him Christie by saying he was very impressed by the governor after meeting him in a two-hour long private confab, he said.
(Excerpt from audio clip) KOCH: At the end of our conversation I said to myself, "I'm really impressed and inspired by this man. He is my kind of guy."
OLBERMANN: What kind of guy is that? The one who in his speech at that conference mocks the president's environmental policies including investments in electric cars and public transportation and who calls teachers the enemy.
(Excerpt from audio clip) CHRISTIE: We need to take on the teachers' union once and for all and we need to decide, who is determining our children's future? Who is running this place? Them or us?
OLBERMANN: Governor Christie finished by saying he was at the secret meeting of hundreds of wealthy donors not for self-enrichment, but simply to enjoy the gift of being a true American, albeit one whose interests are more aligned with corporations than his own constituents.
(Excerpt from audio clip) CHRISTIE: No one is here today for self-promotion or for self-aggrandizement, but for self-enrichment. Everybody is here for this weekend is here because they know that the opportunity that was presented to us as Americans is one of the most special gifts that we'll ever, ever be given.
OLBERMANN: Who's that us, Kimosabe. Let's bring in Ken Vogel, the chief investigative reporter from Politico. Ken, good evening.
KEN VOGEL: Hey, great to be with you Keith.
OLBERMANN: Has Christie said anything about this? We tried all day, we got no comment out of the governor's office. And the only response online was from a GOP spokesman who said the trip was paid for by the Republican Party of New Jersey.
VOGEL: That's in what we saw out of his office as well. We haven't heard a lot from him. And frankly, it really underscores the way this has been for years, the Kochs have been holding these summits since 2003. Two a year. We didn't hear really diddlysquat about them until very recently owing largely to the fact there was this very in-depth investigative profile of the Koch brothers and their political activism by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker, and then perhaps serendipitously from the perspective of Liberals who wanted to really shine the light on their activity, there was a leaked invitation to their 2010 confab in Aspen and it had a lot of names of folks who attended and it had some of the breakdown of their agenda and, also, had the subsequent conference in January of this year in Rancho Mirage, California, and that allowed a number of these liberal groups including common cause to organize protests outside and since then, of course, the spotlight has been squarely on the Kochs. I, in fact, attended that meeting and tried to get into some of the sessions and was escorted out, none too ceremoniously, by the Kochs' private security who threatened me with citizen's arrest. So, in spite of the fact that the spotlight is on them, they continue to try to keep this as low-key and secretive as possible.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, remember the opportunity that was presented to us as Americans is one of the most special gifts that will ever, ever be given as I'm sure you thought when they were trying to arrest you. We know a lot of people on the right like Ailes and Rove and such think that one of the extremists will get nominated this year and -- or next year and lose next year and that Christie will be the guy in 2016, but if he's got a future nationally, obviously it's as -- if maybe not a moderate, at least he's not a foaming mad dog Koch brothers funded radical. I mean, he was heaping praise on President Obama after Hurricane Irene hit Jersey. Doesn't this just blow that out the window?
VOGEL: Well, certainly, Democrats will try to use this to present him as something other than the moderate that he has sought to position himself as. However, I think, first of all, other than folks who are perhaps watching your program and really reading up on this stuff, it's not really an issue. The Kochs -- we've seen liberals trying to shine the spotlight on him in the run up to the 2010 election. And subsequently, it's not really an issue that resonates with most voters. However, it could be used to call into question his stances and perhaps his motivation for pushing policy positions that seem to be consistent with those that the Kochs and the groups they have fund which have -- have and could help Governor Christie out in his political career, then, certainly can call into question his motivation to some extent. But let's not forget, the Koch brothers are not necessarily the way that they have been portrayed. They support gay marriage. They have long supported the decriminalization of marijuana. They support lower defense spending. They're more classical Libertarians than they are sort of the caricature that we've seen emerge of them. However, that is the caricature. That's the perception. That perception could be used to taint those who affiliate with them including Governor Christie.
OLBERMANN: To your point, he signed an executive order that said New Jersey can't have rules that are stricter than federal standards. He attacked rebates for weatherizing and social -- solar panels and called them socialism, solar panel rebates or socialism. And recently took Jersey out from the ten-state pact to reduce greenhouse emissions, which are all, you know, really high on the Koch brothers' list of priorities. So, there is -- if there's not a cause and effect, there's a connection and that can't -- that can't really help -- I am thinking in these terms -- He's in a non-radical red state in New Jersey. He has to maintain his power base there. He can't go anywhere else for it, as a governor unless he's going to become elected Senator in the interim. It's a lot of business before he gets to try to run for the White House. Is he not conceivably hurt by any sort of positioning of him as a radical Republican inside New Jersey?
VOGEL: Certainly, and it does get to this issue, if you can question the motivations here, and it becomes sort of a chicken or the egg argument. In fact, we did hear his spokesman, in addition to acknowledging the trip and saying that it was paid for by the State Republican Party, said that his positioning on this regional climate change compact, this regie that he pulled New Jersey out of had nothing to do with his affiliation with the Koch brothers. In fact, it was a position that he had long held, and the Koch brothers also have long held it. So, it's a situation where, in fact, many of the positions that he has taken over the years, and that he has become most known for, including his fight with the unions, happened to be those that are similar to those that the Koch brothers and the organizations that they have funded have advocated for. You can see why they would want to have him speak to their semi-annual conclave of wealthy donors. You can also see why he might want to attend. This is fertile ground for him to raise money. So, is he raising money from folks who support his positions, or is he taking money from folks -- or rather is he taking positions because the folks who gave him money support those positions? This is sort of an eternal question in politics. And I don't think it's fair to question his motivations. I do think it's fair to look at his affiliations and where he gets his money from. And this is an affiliation with the Koch brothers that is worth watching going forward for Governor Christie.
OLBERMANN: Indeed, Ken Vogel of Politico. As always Ken, great, thanks.
VOGEL: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: First, he claims we have essentially beaten al-Qaida, then he links 9/11 to Iraq, and now he's calling for U.S. troops to stay in Iraq after the withdrawal date. Simple question, why is Leon Panetta still the Secretary of Defense? Coming up next.
OLBERMANN: After this latest gaffe, is Leon Panetta fit to be our Secretary of Defense? That's next.
First, the "Sanity Break," and the book report. Nielsen Books Scan figures showing the tome of former senate candidate, and in retrospect that's increasingly hard to believe, Christine O'Donnell continues to tank. Last week, it sold nationwide, 262 copies. Meantime, Dick Cheney's book, backed by an unprecedented publicity tour, mass buys by conservative groups, and an amazingly low price for an autographed copy. It's less than a book autographed by Hugh Downs goes for on eBay, it sold 62,000 copies. That will place it for number one for the week, but well below predictions and well below last month's first week's sales total of more than 100,000 by abductee, Jaycee Dugard.
"Time Marches On!"
It started at Stockholm central station ironically located in Stockholm. We focus on add rule number one, attracting an audience. The look of your store should draw people in, even if there isn't really a store there. In an attempt to show passengers and passers-by what the station will look like in the future, station officials created a -- there's a fake wall there. Stations officials created a series of 3-D fake store fronts, and at least one person is really excited by them. Why it doesn't just work. The air has condensed. You ever wonder why there are warning signs for things that seem stupidly obvious. He's why.
On to the soccer pitch now, and it's Amir Sayoud with the whiff. He does eventually get a slow dribbler towards the goal which, shockingly, the keeper was able to handle. To make things worse, the referee gave Amir a yellow card, probably for proving everyone who mocks soccer correct. The failed kick, occurred in a match between Al Ahly and Kima Aswan, and I think we all know when they meet, you throw out the record book. Amir's Al Ahly squad was still able to pull off the W, but despite the victory I highly doubt that Amir feels like a winner today. I fell on my keys.
And to Flushing Meadows for some coverage of the U.S. Open. We shun the action on the court and go right to the stands. John McEnroe was at the Open! During one of the many breaks, he put on a show. Some fans get up to dance, some tap dancing and galloping, he goes for the big finish with a spin-o-rama and, wait for it. You know it's next. There it goes. You know it's next. Too close to the railing. Too close. Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Not clear if he was inebriated, dizzy or just trying a new move called the tumbler, either way he definitely knows how to get down. Unfortunately tomorrow he'll have some trouble getting up.
"Time Marches On!"
Eight different narcissistic Republicans with the presidential delusion, highlights as they offer evidence suggesting that at least three of them are clinically insane. See if you can guess which ones, Christian Finnegan joins me for instant analysis that is just as serious as the policies they offer. Ahead.
OLBERMANN: A reminder, special two-hour edition of "Countdown" tomorrow covering President Obama's Jobs Address to joint session Congress, live at 7 p.m. p.m., Eastern. And then analysis of the speech, and the rest of the day's news continuing through 9 p.m.. Re-airing in its entirety at 10 p.m., 1 p.m., 6 p.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
President Obama campaigned on, among other things, ending the war in Iraq. His first Defense secretary, Robert Gates, a Bush legacy, wanted an extended U.S. military presence there, but tonight, it appears a Democratic stalwart, who has shocked some of his longest standing supporters with right-wing opinions bordering on the Dick Cheney like, has insisted we keep troops there after the negotiated deadline for withdrawal. In our third story on the "Countdown," we start with this reports this week that Leon Panetta signed off on a plan to reduce our forces in Iraq from around 50,000 to 3,000 or 4,000 by year's end. Unfortunately, when the White House was asked if this was true, 4,000 or so past the deadline, the question was phrased that way, as in, "is it true right now?"
(Excerpt from video clip) ROBERT GATES: No. And the process has, as you know, we are operating under a status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government that was signed by the previous administration to draw down our forces. If the Iraqi government makes a request of us, we will certainly consider it. That request has not been made.
OLBERMANN: It gets more complicated than that. The top American commander in Iraq, General Lloyd J. Austin III reportedly wants to keep 14,000 or 18,000 U.S. troops there after the withdrawal deadline. The divided Iraqi government has to request the U.S. to stay in that way. It has not so far, but it might. So, is the U.S. staying or going? Secretary Panetta could only echo the press secretary.
(Excerpt from video clip) LEON PANETTA: No decision has been made with regards to the number of troops that will remain in Iraq.
OLBERMANN: Not what the president's supporters were hoping to hear, neither was this, Panetta's first big gaffe in July, that came on a visit to Iraq when he repeated one of the Bush administration's lying justifications for the 2003 invasion of that country.
(Excerpt from video clip) PANETTA: The reason you guys are here is because on 9/11, United States got attacked. And 3,000 Americans, and 3,000 -- not just Americans, but 3,000 human beings got killed -- innocent human beings got killed because of al-Qaida. And we've been fighting them, you know, as a result of that.
OLBERMANN: No wonder Don Rumsfeld, who used to hold Panetta's job under President Bush, sounded vindicated when he said of the Obama administration, "They ended up keeping Guantanamo open not because the like it -- we didn't like it either." Ha-ha. "But they couldn't think of a better solution. The same is true with the Patriot Act, and military commissions and indefinite detention. They campaigned against the Bush approach." In light of all this, I'm joined now by the Democratic strategist, and columnist Karl Fritsch. Good evening, Karl.
KARL FRISCH: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: This is the same Leon Panetta, right? There aren't two of them with the same name?
FRISCH: Well, I know that Dick Cheney's slimmed down a bit, but I don't think there are any Halloween costumes with Panetta's face on it this season.
OLBERMANN: Seriously. So, it's the same guy. What are we still doing in Iraq? And why is anybody, Panetta presumably, pushing to stay past the negotiated closing bell?
FRISCH: It's a good question. I mean, ostensibly we're there to help train Iraqi defense forces. At least that's what we've been told. I've followed the president in his reductions in troops over the last two years. We made tremendous progress. I hope that we're not even second-guessing for a minute our decision to be completely out of there by the end of the year. But the statements make me worry. And not because I'm a progressive, but because I take the defense of this country seriously. Our presence in Iraq, our presence in the Middle East, helps produce terrorists. It helps produce terrorism. I don't want to give them any more reason to have recruiting tools, or recruiting power than they already have.
OLBERMANN: If you're the president, if you're a Democratic president, and your Secretary of Defense claims as we heard in the clip, that 9/11 and Iraq are at all linked, don't you have to fire him? I mean, there's -- you know, Dick Cheney and nine other people in this country who still believe that crap.
FRISCH: Well, you certainly have to use the Patriot Act to see what books Secretary Panetta's reading, whether it's the Bush memoir, the Rumsfeld memoir, or the Cheney memoir. It's extremely disconcerting. I don't know if he deserves to be fired just yet. I think we should see how the policy unfolds, but he certainly needs to be brought in and told this is not the way we talk about this. We've settled the reason that we went to Iraq. We went to Iraq because the previous administration ran to war, probably over oil, but certainly not for any reason of national security. You know, the next thing you know, we're gonna be hearing that we're on the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. These are things that we know not to be true. That is the consensus, not of just the left, but of the right, much of the right, and the middle, and the foreign policy establishment. This is not something we should be debating today.
OLBERMANN: But there was a third one, he also said we were within reach of operationally, essentially defeating al-Qaida, and from an entirely different point of view, that doesn't seem to be based in reality. How can you have -- I mean, I know we went through many years of this with Rumsfeld, but how can you have a Democratic Secretary of Defense or Secretary of Defense of the Democratic administration who is not connected to reality.
FRISCH: Well, Keith, there are known knowns, and there are known unknowns, and there are unknown unknowns.
OLBERMANN: Don't bring that in here.
FRISCH: Well, honestly, I feel like there has to be something very basic that's wrong here.
FRISCH: As a political professional that teaches people how to talk to the media, I can tell you that the CIA director is a lot less public than the Secretary of Defense. So, as a good progressive that supports this president, I certainly hope that the reason that these mistakes, these gaffes have happened, is because Secretary Panetta is not -- you know, he's a little rusty when it comes to talking with the press. If that's the case it's time for some media training. It's time for him to get on message, and it's time for him to get on point because all he's doing is playing into the hands of those who are currently, right now, trying to redefine the Bush legacy as something that it is not.
OLBERMANN: Democratic strategist, Karl Frisch, good insight, and great, thanks for your time tonight.
FRISCH: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Which of these Republican nut jobs will you be talking about tomorrow -- or would you be talking about tomorrow if the GOP debate had not seen its news cycle cut in half by the president's jobs speech? The early highlights with Christian Finnegan, who's in the back there, slowly going crazy watching that crap ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Did you have Herman Cain in the GOP presidential debate crackpot crack-up pool? Then you're a winner! Actually if you had any of the eight of them in the pool, you're a winner. Highlights ahead. First, the "Worsts." Trying to raise funds because James Hoffa told voters to take out Republicans in office. Guess what she told voters to do to Democrats in office last year? Mm-hmm. That's next. This is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Highlights of the Republican presidential debate with comedian Christian Finnegan because they won't let us show demolition derby video any more. First, because these guys are a kind of societal demolition derby, here are "Countdown's" top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze to Starving Eyes Advergaming which is distributing an online video game called "Tea Party Zombies Must Die." It's exactly what it sounds like. Players enter a post-apocalyptic FOX News studios, a different post-apocalyptic FOX News studio. FOX is in the post-apocalyptic studio they're in now. Anyway. They go there and they hunt a Michele Bachmann lookalike zombie and a Gingrich and Palin and O'Reilly, et cetera. Doesn't matter how you feel about those people or about video games. There is no place for this. There is no excuse for possibly being the thing that tips a mental case out there towards actual violence towards them or, in fact, tips another mental case towards actual violence against their political opponents as some sort of twisted revenge. In short, boycott Starving Eyes Advergaming until they pull the plug on this.
The runner-up this evening, Governor Rick Perry of Texas. 2.5 million acres of his state have succumbed to a record wildfire this season, so naturally the state is cutting $34 million out of the budget of the Texas forest service. $34 million over the next two years, a third of the budget. What gets cut? Probably the grants that give the volunteers who do 90% of the wildfire fighting their protective gear. That Perry, he's a job creator. To expand on something someone observed on Twitter, Eric Cantor demands budget cuts for disaster relief and then there's an earthquake, the epicenter of which is in his district, and now Rick Perry leads a prayer service at a Houston football stadium and Texas suddenly bursts into flames. What does that tell you?
But our winner, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, fading presidential candidate, has begun to fundraise on the selectively edited comments of Teamsters President James Hoffa. Bachmann is, of course, concentrating on one phrase in here. We're showing it in full. She and the rest of the lunatic fringe right-wing is taking that one phrase out of context.
(Excerpt from video clip) JAMES HOFFA: Everybody here has got a vote. If we go back and we keep the eye on the prize, let's take the son of a bitches out and give America back to America where we belong. Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: All right. You got that? Bachmann's really upset about the impropriety of the "let's take these son of a bitches out" quote. Michele Bachmann, April 15th, 2010. Roll it.
(Excerpt from video clip) MICHELE BACHMANN: I just found out this morning that I am the number one target for yet one more extremist group to defeat this November. And so, we need to have your help for candidates like me who stand up for you, and we need you to take out some of these bad guys.
OLBERMANN: Seriously? Tip of the old cynical chapeau to Alan Colmes for posting that at Alan.com last night. Did you ever get the feeling if you did one of those field sobriety tests on her, if you made her follow your finger with her eyes, her head would fall off ? Michele, we need you to take out those bad guys. Bachmann, today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: Before the pundits ask the time-honored question, "Who won?" tonight's Republican presidential debate, remember: that was decided before it even started. Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Huntsman, Paul, Perry, Romney, Santorum in the Ronald Reagan Museum and Library in Simi Valley, California. So, in our number one story in the "Countdown," obviously the debate was won -- as the debate in 2007 was won -- by that old Air Force One jet so uncomfortably squeezed into the odd, little building's lobby that you're invariably reminded of the landing scene in the movie, "Airplane." With that out of the way, time to welcome my special guest, comedian Christian Finnegan, who will bring to our instant analysis of the debate exactly the correct level of seriousness that the debates deserves. Good to see you, sir.
CHRISTIAN FINNEGAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. You be Huntley and I'll be Brinkley.
OLBERMANN: All right. Okay. Let's start, shall we?
OLBERMANN: Okay. This is Governor Perry and Governor Romney dueling over their job creation legacies and another governor who ran for president and lost, Mike Dukakis gets involved in this.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK PERRY: Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, as a matter of fact, George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, governor.
PERRY: That's not correct.
OLBERMANN: A lot of hair dye in that debate.
FINNEGAN: Yes. Oh, man. A lot of good hair on that stage right now. It sort of looked like the photos you'd see on a wall in a 1970s barber shop. That was as close as the GOP gets to a zinger, I believe. Michael Dukakis, still a go-to line apparently. Romney threw in an Al Gore invented the internet joke, which is almost retro at this point. It's almost so hack, it's almost sort of original again.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, the proprietor has embraced that, it's so funny. I heard Michael Dukakis and I seriously was expecting Jon Lovitz to come up on the little elevator like they did on "Saturday Night Live."
FINNEGAN: With the big brows, yeah.
OLBERMANN: Number two. The easy -- the one we might as well -- it might as well be revealed that between us, pundits and comedians have bankrolled the entirety of her campaign. And we're very sad to see that her campaign manager says she has no chance. Maybe she'll stay in till the bitter end just for our sake.
FINNEGAN: So sad.
OLBERMANN: Michele Bachmann, and this is -- we didn't make this one up. It sounds like she's arguing that it's important to have kids working in sweat shops under the age of 13.
(Excerpt from video clip) BACHMANN: I'm a mom. I've raised five biological kids and 23 foster kids in my home. One thing I know is that kids need jobs.
FINNEGAN: Like Indonesia.
OLBERMANN: Sneakers, Michael Jordan air -- or Jordan shoes.
FINNEGAN: You know who hired a lot of kids? The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.
OLBERMANN: Oh, man. Kids -- don't you have to define kids like kids of, say, 16 and older or something?
FINNEGAN: I guess we could sort of give her a pass on that.
OLBERMANN: No, but everybody -- all of those sort of scurrilous online stuff is, Michele Bachmann, why did she have those foster kids? To do the chores. And suddenly, she ties the two of them together. It's very dangerous.
FINNEGAN: It's almost like Oompa Loompas.
OLBERMANN: "One thing I know is that Oompa Loompas need jobs." The other thing I know is having done a debate many years ago, and, in fact, covered the last one at the Airplane Museum, where they -- it's not true. There is not -- Ronald Reagan is not stuffed and standing in the museum. There's just a statue of him. The stagecraft of a debate is essential to making everybody look good. Let's -- a little example of this.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Governor Romney, four years ago on this same stage, you had this to say about your record in Massachusetts.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: A great opportunity for the entire country.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Well, he had a lot more to say than that, didn't he?
OLBERMANN: Most cogent bit of analysis I have heard at one of those debates.
FINNEGAN: It's probably the smartest thing anyone from Politico has brought in a while. I mean, it's a live show. I mean, these things happen, but you'd think maybe they would have gone over these cues. It must have been one of those sort of Hollywood elites running the audio cues.
OLBERMANN: To that point, and this is probably the last thing we'll have time for. This would be sound bite number four, and it's Newt Gingrich trying to have the "Kumbaya" moment against the media.
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: Since I still have a little time left, let me just say, I, for one, and I hope all of my friends up here are going to repudiate every effort of the news media to get Republicans to fight each other to protect Barack Obama who deserves to be defeated and all of us are committed as a team. Whoever the nominee is, we are all for defeating Barack Obama.
FINNEGAN: Not big fans of Obama, I guess.
OLBERMANN: Well, that's your take away from that?
FINNEGAN: I guess.
OLBERMANN: Well, thank you for your brilliant insight on that.
FINNEGAN: I was -- I was actually very heartened to the fact that they let Gingrich in the building, and nobody told him he's not actually running for president anymore. They allowed him to be up there, like, sort of -- they didn't take away his keys or resign him.
OLBERMANN: This is because he brought thoughtful gifts from Tiffany's for everybody. You didn't see that one coming? What about starting any statement when you're an on the ropes candidate? "Since I still have a little time left." Bad choice of phrase.
FINNEGAN: I -- yeah, I mean, poor man. There is just sort of a weird, creepy grandpa Thanksgiving feeling whenever he starts to speak, and everybody just kind of nods. You always know that you're done in a race when people actually applaud when you speak.
OLBERMANN: Especially if you're speaking of unity on the part of the Republicans at a debate where nobody knows to stop. Comedian Christian Finnegan. Thanks for some of your time tonight, sir.
FINNEGAN: I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Just a little taste of what you could have watched.
FINNEGAN: I got to get back there now. It's nap time.
OLBERMANN: Good thinking. That's "Countdown" for this, the 38th day since the Republicans debt ceiling blackmail worked. Speaker Boehner, where are jobs? Where's our credit rating? Don't forget our special two-hour edition tomorrow night covering the President's address on jobs live from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern.
I'm Keith Olbermann.
Good night, and good luck.