'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
ShowPlug1: Chris Christie madness: Kochs, Schwab, Hedgefunders want to draft him. But somebody says he's "not ready" - Christie himself
ShowPlug2: @DaveCatanese on whether Christie is pulling a Richard III; @Craig_Crawford on the empty GOP cupboard
ShowPlug3: Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon add their voices to #OccupyWallStreet; @SamSeder just back from there, joins us
ShowPlug4: Saving $1 TR worldwide by ending the nuclear threat - the new $ angle of @GlobalZero w/my guest Valerie Plame
ShowPlug5: Worsts: Media falls for "Affirmative Action" bake sale at Cal; Yosemite Sam Joe Arpaio says his racism is his business
ShowPlugLast: + Michele Bachmann sees Hezbollah Missiles in Iran in Cuba in Italian newspaper. @MaysoonZayid laughs at, not with, her
ShowPlugPS: There is new video of the use of caustic chemicals on the four protestors Saturday - and, it seems, on at least one NYPD officer
watch whole playlist
#5 'Crazy for Christie', Dave Catanese
#5 'Crazy for Christie', Craig Crawford
#4 'Up Against The Wall', Sam Seder
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Global Zero', Valerie Plame Wilson
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#2 Worst Persons: College Republicans, David Serrano, Sheriff Joe Arpaio
#1 'Party of D'Oh!', Maysoon Zayid
printable PDF transcript
Topics: Barack Obama, Chris Christie, Election 2012, Global Zero, GOP Primary, Joe Arpaio, Michele Bachmann, nuclear weapons, Occupy Wall Street
Contributors: Maysoon Zayid
Guests: Craig Crawford, David Catanese, Sam Seder, Valerie Plame Wilson
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Draft Chris Christie. There's a problem with that.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRIS CHRISTIE: I don't feel like I'm ready.
OLBERMANN: Nevertheless, Frank Luntz compares him to - the Beatles. But - there's a problem.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTIE: You have to believe in your heart and in your soul and in your mind that you are ready, and I don't believe that about myself right now.
OLBERMANN: The Koch brothers, Charles Schwab and hedge-fund managers everywhere pressure him to run. But there's a problem.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTIE: You got to want it more than anything else. More than anything else. I don't want it that badly.
OLBERMANN: The Republicans' not-so-quiet desperation. Three beautiful years of character assassination against the president and nobody to run against him. Occupy Wall Street, the protesters are joined by the names.
(Excerpt from video clip) SUSAN SARANDON: This is what democracy looks like, so I came down to educate myself.
OLBERMANN: The latest, as reported for us by Sam Seder. Global Zero, the desperate effort to save the world from nukes by reminding everybody how much money could be saved. With spokesperson, my special guest, Valerie Plame.
"Worsts" - Yosemite Sam Joe Arpaio believes his racism is his business.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Richard Hoganson on Facebook asks, and this is a tough one, "How - why are you a racist against Latinos?"
(Excerpt from video clip) JOE ARPAIO: Well, I'm not going to get into my personal life.
OLBERMANN: And - the mind of Michele Bachmann. Hezbollah missiles in Iran, in Cuba.
(Excerpt from video clip) MICHELE BACHMANN: When you're 90 miles offshore from Florida, you don't want to entertain the prospect of hosting bases or sites where Hezbollah could have training camps, or perhaps they have missile sites or weapon sites in Cuba.
OLBERMANN: Hey, you know who she reminds me of?
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK OVERTON: Hey, who else could go for some flapjacks right now?
OLBERMANN: All of that and more, now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) BILL MURRAY: Too early for flapjacks?
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Tuesday, September 27th, 406 days until the 2012 presidential election.
And if you listen closely, you can hear a chorus of distant-but-anguished moans from deep-pocketed Republican donors who see a monumental opportunity slipping away, an opportunity to recast American politics - society itself - by taking the White House, maybe the Senate in 2012, and perhaps adding to their majority in the House - an opportunity that hinges on selecting a candidate who can seize the presidency from Barack Obama.
The fifth story in the "Countdown" - anybody out there?
After three debates, some of the GOP's leading money men want someone they can back for president, anybody. I mean, we are in William Tecumseh Sherman territory for them here. Perhaps even a first-term governor from the Northeast who doesn't want the job, somebody like New Jersey governor Chris Christie - the tough-talking fiscal conservative who butchered the state's budget and then blamed public-employee unions for the politicians' pork.
According to The New York Times, Home Depot founder Kenneth Langone, hedge fund CEO Paul Singer, industrialist David Koch - one of those brothers - and Charles Schwab, founder and chairman of the investment firm that bears his name - and from whose accounts you should take all your money out - are just some of the wealthy Republican donors pushing for a Christie candidacy. While Republican pollster Frank Luntz nearly wet his pants over this prospect.
(Excerpt from video clip) FRANK LUNTZ: I don't want to say it's the Beatles landing in New York City, but Republicans are so excited about the possibility of Christie getting into the race. I've not seen anything like this in my time in politics.
OLBERMANN: And by the way, Frank, the Beatles' haircuts went out in 1965. Former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean - a Christie confidante - told "The National Review," "It's real. He's giving it a lot of thought. I think the odds are a lot better now than they were a couple of weeks ago."
However, there are a few problems with the Christie boomlet. They start with a man named Chris Christie, in particular with his brother, Todd, also a Republican fund-raiser.
Todd Christie says, "I'm sure that he's not going to run. If he's lying to me, I'll be as stunned as I've ever been in my life."
And then there are several years worth of comments from the other Christie - Chris Christie, himself - demonstrating again and again where the presidency is concerned, Chris Christie does not believe in Chris Christie.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTIE: I simply do not have the desire to do it, nor do I think I'm ready.
OLBERMANN: Apparently the Beatles are not ready to take the stage.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTIE: You got to want it more than anything else, more than anything else. I don't want it that badly. Secondly, you've got to believe in your heart that you are ready to walk into the Oval Office and to lead the nation. And I don't feel like I'm ready. So, it makes it very easy for me. I'm 0 for 2. So, you don't do it.
OLBERMANN: "I'm 0 for 2″ - the Barack Obama campaign ad if Chris Christie is the nominee. But maybe there's - in "0 for 2″ - some room for doubt in the equation.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTIE: You have to believe in your heart and in your soul and in your mind that you are ready. And I don't believe that about myself right now.
OLBERMANN: And if you still somehow think the door is still open, apparently there's a personal issue as well.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTIE: My wife will kill me. She'll just kill me.
OLBERMANN: Not if the lunatic fringe rightwing nutjobs do it for you first.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins issued this one: "He has some backing from individuals who clearly are on the other side of most social issues. So I think he would have a difficult time gaining a lot of support among social conservatives."
Lots of other single-issue conservatives as well.
On immigration, Christie wants what he called a "clear path to citizenship." Presumably, that would be for undocumented immigrants. Other immigrants already have a clear path to follow.
On gun control, Christie favors "some of the gun-control measures we have in New Jersey." The NRA won't like that. No gun-control measures on this planet, or the moon.
On climate change, Christie admits, "It's time to defer to the experts." The same experts Rick Perry likes to denounce as faking climate-change evidence in order to get funding.
On education, Christie supports the Obama administration's "Race to the Top." He had New Jersey apply for funds. Funds from Obama! Influencing education! And when it comes to a truly incendiary issue much loved by the GOP base - the creeping, but all-too-real threat of Sharia law taking over American institutions - for some reason, Christie doesn't buy it.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTIE: This Sharia law business is crap. It's just crazy. And I am tired of dealing with the crazies.
OLBERMANN: Which may explain why he's not running. The crazies who run the GOP probably feel the same way about Chris Christie, except the ones with all the money. I'm joined now by David Catanese, he's the national political reporter for Politico. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
DAVID CATANESE: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And not only - can you possibly run for President of the United States with just those clips available to your opponent in a presidential campaign? Wouldn't that be just the most self-destructive act in the world?
CATANESE: I mean, you have laid out quite the case in all of those individual video clips. But as many a times that he has said "no" over the past eight or nine months, all you need is one freelancing aide close to him; a fund-raiser who met with him personally and saw a glimmer in his eye, and all they need to do is talk to one reporter who says, you know, "Hey, he may be reconsidering it." And then you've got a brush fire. I still think today he is more likely not to run because of all of those clips. I think the most damning one of him is saying he's not ready, himself.
CATANESE: I don't know how you recant that and go back on it even when, you know, you have big-dollar fundraisers saying you've got to do this.
OLBERMANN: Yes, that was February when I was not ready. It's now September/October. I must be ready by now. There is no suspicion anywhere that he's Richard III-ing this, that he's waiting for people to come to him with the crown three different times?
CATANESE: Well, you know, I think there's always - I mean, politicians love to be courted. And it's always, you know, "They dragged me into this. There's a draft effort going on." I think there's a small percentage chance of that happening. But, I mean, you've got to take the guy at his word, right? I mean, he said no so many times, over and over. And some of the sourcing on this, you know, it's anonymous, it's donors. And sometimes aides try to keep the story alive, even without their boss' permission.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, but one of them is not anonymous. And it's not somebody we don't know. It's the former governor of New Jersey, Tom Kean, who said he's giving it a lot of thought. That's the operative part of the quote that I read earlier. What's Governor Kean's role in all of this?
CATANESE: You know, I'm not sure, because he is very close to Governor Christie. I think that was a substantial quote that he gave.
But then when you have his own blood - his brother - today saying, "I'd be shocked if he was lying to me and he told me he wasn't running." Then, you know, if Christie runs, he is lying to his family members about it. And, plus, wouldn't this ruin his branding? I mean, his branding is he's brash, he's tough, he's in your face, he's honest. And, you know, if he was secretly plotting a presidential race for eight months or even, you know, a few months and few weeks, doesn't that hurt his core and his whole identity?
OLBERMANN: This is going to sound unfair and inappropriate, but I am speaking - a) as a man of too much weight myself, and also something of a political-optics historian. This country has not elected anybody above-average size as a President of the United States since William Howard Taft. It sounds like, "Oh, well, what does that have to do with anything else?"
When Haley Barbour was contemplating running for president, he lost 30 or 40 pounds. He went on an extremely strict diet, and then said, "Now, I'm not going to run anymore." And whether that had anything to do with the diet is another question for another time. But would the first tell on Chris Christie possibly changing his mind be if we suddenly found out that he had undergone some sort of awakening and he was suddenly going to try to take off x amount of weight? Because it - it would be a serious issue psychologically, again that term "optics" suddenly applies, does it not?
CATANESE: I think it would. I mean, in a presidential race, visuals matter. You know, looking on the stage against a Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, you know. Again, on paper, it looks great, but then I think - visuals do matter. You know, whether he's going to go under some drastic exercise program and that would be the signal, I'm not so sure. I think that might take some of the, you know, the glitter and the glisten around him if he suddenly became, you know, 160 pounds standing next to Romney and Perry. It might take away some of his bluster. I'm not sure.
OLBERMANN: Well, it worked for Huckabee. Huckabee did the same thing and then got all the plaudits for leading a national campaign to lose weight, so I mean, it might even work to his advantage politically, let alone this silly question of optics. I mean, for goodness sake's, I'm trying it myself.
Last question, can these big money donors - can the Schwabs and the Kochs and all the hedge-fund managers - can they - not so much talk him into it, but is there a way to buy him into it? Is there a way to throw so much money at him - and I'm not saying that bribing him or anything - is there a way to throw so much money at him and what he might want to accomplish that, you know, he has no way to say no to them?
CATANESE: It's certainly more appealing when you go and say to a candidate, "I can raise you 10 million, 20 million within a month. That's what you'd have to start. You'd be blowing the other guys out of the water."
But again, I think you have to take the governor at his word that this is a personal decision. He's already talked about it with his family, and why would you go through this, you know - for months and months - and immediately when he gets on the stage, you know, his record in New Jersey will be attacked as you mentioned? That is more enduring and I think weighs much more heavily than the money, which is probably going to be there for any significant candidate in the end.
OLBERMANN: David Catanese, national political reporter of Politico. Great thanks for your insight, sir.
CATANESE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: For a look at the other issue - the larger one of the bare Republican cupboard - joining me now, Craig Crawford, who blogs, of course, on politics at craigcrawford.com and is the author of "The Politics of Life." Craig, good evening.
CRAIG CRAWFORD: Good to see you.
OLBERMANN: Your post today was titled, "The Anyone-But-Romney Crowd Needs Work." Why would the anyone-but-Romney crowd want Chris Christie? I mean, isn't he sort of a liability match for Romney?
CRAWFORD: Well, what I have noticed about Romney, Keith, going back to the 2008 campaign is he runs a very tight ship of inner circle - anonymous folks almost, hardly household names, many of them from his days as governor of Massachusetts - and he does not reach out to the usual Washington suspects, many of them who I think are feeling a little left out if Romney is the nominee. And - that's not the only factor, they got policy differences. I think some of these conservatives are not convinced he would end Medicare as we know it, for example.
But I think there is a factor here that Romney has very carefully - in 2008, when he ran against McCain, who had all the Washington crowd and the media and everything else - he ran outside that bubble and has continued to do so, so a lot of the folks in Washington, I think, are worried that with him as nominee they'd be left out and maybe left out of work, so they need a candidate. And any time you see a candidate with any national potential on the horizon, these folks are always willing to go to that person and make all kinds of promises that they'll do this and that for them and get work, and I just speculate - I'm a little suspicious that some of that's going on.
OLBERMANN: All right, see, with Christie you've got - as we've emphasized a couple of times - this small collection of greatest hits in which he explains he's not ready to be president, nor does he want to run for president, nor is it really in his heart to be president, which you think could make all the ads you would need for the Obama re-election campaign if it was against Christie.
Romney is too far to the left to bring in the crazies and the tea partiers. Perry basically seems to be a sleepwalker in pressure situations and maybe a touch of narcolepsy or something - and I mean that in a political sense, possibly in a physical one. Bachmann self-destructed. And Palin destroyed whatever momentum she had by staying out of it and being quiet all this time where all of the other crazies filled the crazy void. Where do they go if it's not Chris Christie? Where do they go if it's not Rick Perry?
CRAWFORD: Well, you know there's a joke running around Republican circles I've heard - that we're looking for Ronald Reagan and we can't even find Fred Thompson, the last - the last Reagan wannabe who failed in the last campaign.
And there is something to that. These folks are gripped by the memory of Ronald Reagan, and they keep looking for him. And I think they've got to get over it.
But also, it's just so late for anyone to get in, Keith. I mean, anybody getting in now with the money Romney's got and the momentum I think Perry probably still has and the money. Kind of like opening a hardware store across from a Walmart at this point. I mean, we're too close to the caucuses, unless somebody - like a Sarah Palin, who's well-known enough and could probably raise the money - she's got a few weeks left to get in, and she's been quietly collecting donations to help her decide lately in her silence.
OLBERMANN: Yeah. Donald Trump? Any chance? Donald Trump? Donald Trump?
CRAWFORD: Why not?
OLBERMANN: Somebody from Walmart, perhaps? One thing about Romney and his chances. There's a new CNN poll - 28% of voters have a favorable view of the tea party and unfavorables for the tea party 53%. Does that make a Christie or particularly Romney since he's in it, we're going to have to assume Christie is not. Does that make it somehow easier to get Romney a nomination?
CRAWFORD: I think Republicans are really torn between their hearts and their mind. We see this many times in presidential nomination races - "Do we go with the guy that I'm really passionate about, but concerned he can't get elected, or go with the guy who can get elected that I'm not so crazy about?"
And I think Republicans see the opportunity to defeat Obama so clearly that it is working to Romney's favor. I think the electability issue is working to his favor, and we'll see how that plays out. But I have a hunch, Keith, that's where they're ending up here because there's no alternative. Because Perry flattened out so far. If he comes back, maybe so. But if there's no real alternative, I think they're going to hold their noses and go with Romney in the end.
OLBERMANN: Is there a chance for Charles Evans Hughes? I mean, I think - he almost beat Wilson in 1916. I mean, he's a little old, and he's been dead for about 75 years, but, you know, that puts him only about the middle in terms of the intellectual capacities of the Republican possibilities.
Craig Crawford, the author of "The Politics of Life" and of craigcrawford.com. Thank you, sir.
CRAWFORD: Good to see you.
OLBERMANN: Occupy Wall Street gets some name cheerleaders, but - breaking at this hour - there's new video tonight of Saturday's pepper spraying. It turns out there were more than just the four women protestors victimized. The cop also sprayed another cop who's not happy about it. That's next.
This is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon among those in downtown Manhattan to participate in Days 10 and 11 of Occupy Wall Street. I will have the latest including new videotape from the tear gassing - or rather, the macing - of the protestors.
The century's most famous Ex-CIA agent tries to make the world ex-nuclear. Valerie Plame Wilson of Global Zero is here.
How much would you pay to get in and shout, "Antichrist" at the President of the United States? The sum of all paranoia is at the House of Blues fund-raiser. But even crazy has its price tag.
Ask her - the Italian newspaper says Hezbollah might put missiles in the Middle East and train in Cuba, try to attack Israeli targets in Latin America. Her conclusion - "There's a new Cuban missile crisis."
All ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: The pepper spraying, or perhaps macing, of four women protestors at Occupy Wall Street took a new turn today when more video came to light and on it - quite clearly - a New York City policeman indicates that he too was a victim of that spraying, saying that the policeman - who was identified by the protestors was officer Anthony Bologna - "He just bleeping maced us."
Our fourth story on the "Countdown," the peaceful protest - peaceful protestors and almost totally peaceful police - were amplified in the last 24 hours by the presence of big-name activists like Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon.
But it was Saturday's unprovoked attack on four women - penned in behind plastic netting, given no warning, unable to protect themselves against whichever toxic chemical that was used against them - that again dominates the headlines with the new video coming to light.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN #1: Is that where you want us to go?
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Who are you protecting? He just maced us.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN #2: Water! Is anybody have water? Water?
OLBERMANN: Again, there have been other instances of protestors sprayed - one of the, Kelly Heresy, told us here last night that it happened to him when he tried to take a picture of an officer seemingly abusing a protestor physically.
The protest are in their 11th day and they have, as I mentioned, now begun to attract public figures.
(Excerpt from video clip) MICHAEL MOORE: I want to see a perp walk.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: I want to see a perp walk.
(Excerpt from video clip) MOORE: I want to see the people responsible for destroying the lives of millions of people.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: I want to see the people responsible for destroying the lives of millions of people.
(Excerpt from video clip) MOORE: In handcuffs -
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: In handcuffs -
(Excerpt from video clip) MOORE: And run away!
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: And run away!
(Excerpt from video clip) MOORE: And brought to justice!
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: And brought to justice!
(Excerpt from video clip) MOORE: Immediately!
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Immediately!
(Excerpt from video clip) MOORE: Taxed out!
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Taxed out!
(Excerpt from video clip) MOORE: How much?
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: How much?
(Excerpt from video clip) MOORE: Not enough!
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Not enough!
(Excerpt from video clip) MOORE: How much?
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: How much?
(Excerpt from video clip) MOORE: Still not enough!
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Still not enough!
(Excerpt from video clip) MOORE: How much?
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: How much?
(Excerpt from video clip) MOORE: Still not enough!
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Still not enough!
OLBERMANN: Meantime, the actress and activist Susan Sarandon arrived this morning, not as demonstrative, but just as sincere.
(Excerpt from video clip) SARANDON: There's a huge void between the rich and the poor in this country, which - and there's the attack on unions.
OLBERMANN: And last but not least, for the last two days, Sam Seder, the host of "The Majority Report" has broadcast his radio program from the scene to the protests and joins us here at control. Sam, good evening.
SAM SEDER: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Does that new video - as we harken back to the thing that happened over the weekend - does that have a bigger - better picture of what happened on Saturday to those women and, as it turns out, to the cop who was standing nearby?
SEDER: Well, I mean, I think - clearly what it shows is that supervising cop was pretty out of control. No one was expecting it. Not even the cops - they were holding the kettling net, as they call it.
And so, you know, I think it's interesting. There's a real sense, I think, that on Saturday, because of the attention - and I don't know if that's for better or for worse, I guess - because of that attention, it has really grown.
I mean, I was down here on Friday. And there were far more people there today and tonight even. I think there's close to 600, 700 people who were there during what they call the general assembly.
OLBERMANN: So, they had dropped off from perhaps a high of 1,000 or more last week down into the medium hundreds or the low hundreds and now you are suggesting it's a larger crowd.
SEDER: I think after Saturday - you know, obviously on the weekends, the marches are going to bring out more people - but I think it is clear that during the week, I mean, if - we're only on Tuesday now, but the numbers are growing. And I don't know if there are more people necessarily sleeping over, but there are certainly more people going down to the park.
OLBERMANN: What has the police/protester dynamic been like the last couple of days after that incident? 'Cause everything we've heard so far has been there was that, there were a couple of other incidents. The rest of it, the cops have been pretty cool.
SEDER: Yeah, I mean, for the most part, it seems that the only incidences occur when some of the people leave Zuccotti Park - or as they're calling it, Liberty Plaza - and go out and protest, either march up in certain areas - today, for instance, some of the people from Zuccotti Park actually went up and met up with the postal workers who were protesting the possible cutbacks at the post office - so - but for the most part, as far as I could tell, down in the park, it has been, you know, relatively calm.
I actually saw some officers who were going around, taking pictures and wanted to see Susan Sarandon, were talking to the protestors. And, you know, 'cause the protestors, I really think, feel a kinship with the police down there. It's their pensions who are getting cut as well.
OLBERMANN: All right. So, you mentioned Sarandon - Moore there was there, too. If they're showing up, is the media finally showing up?
SEDER: You know, I think in stutters and spurts. You know, what the folks down there told me is that the trucks show up for a couple of minutes, they get their B-roll and then they leave. And - but - you know, Cornel West is down there tonight. I think the more celebrity - I mean NPR, apparently, in telling their ombudsman, they said the three reasons why they weren't covering it was because there was no major disruptions. So, short of the violence. . .
OLBERMANN: Great, crack some skulls, we'll be down in an hour.
OLBERMANN: If it bleeds, it leads on NPR.
SEDER: They didn't - they didn't think there was any specific demands and there was no one of import down there. And, well, you know, so now you're starting to get some celebrity that is showing up there. And you know, there - the protestors are getting into small committees and they're setting up and they're creating a list of demands, but, frankly, I think the demands thing is a little bit overblown.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, explain that, because as I was talking to Kelly Heresy here last night - one of the criticisms and its understandable for people who are used to sort of a set-block mentality of what protests are like - It's like, "What is this about?" And the answer is, "We're trying to decide what it's about. We know we're angry and we're getting together to be angry and figure out how to direct that anger." Is that basically it?
SEDER: Yeah, I mean it's very much about the process, but, you know, at the end of the day, it's not Occupy Central Park, you know? I mean, it's Occupy Wall Street.
They know that there is a problem in this country that I think a lot of people are talking about, that there's an incredible wealth inequality in this country, that Wall Street seems to have been completely held - completely unaccountable for trashing our economy - and they are getting together, and they're doing it on their own time and, you know, a couple of protestors said to me today "If the media doesn't know what we want, tell them to come down here and ask us."
OLBERMANN: And obviously, we need those - we need those NPR celebrities to show up and have through the live broadcast - Terry from what's - from - Terry Gross from "Fresh Air."
SEDER: "Prairie Home companion."
OLBERMANN: Right, exactly, get Garrison Keillor down there - "And then they came in from the left and Lake Wobegon is a tough - Lake Mace is a difficult place to be on Saturday."
SEDER: Maybe get Click and Clack down there, and we'll see some real reporting from NPR.
OLBERMANN: "This car will not operate because we've taken the engine out of it."
Sam Seder of "The Majority Report." Good to see you, Sam. Thanks for filling in last week. Appreciate it.
SEDER: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: But, just when you think you're the one going crazy, reminder - "It's them, it's not you." Michele Bachmann's Italian report of Hezbollah missiles in Iran and Cuba aimed at Latin America or "Stone Geography for a $1,000, Alex." Ahead.
OLBERMANN: Just really liking this Republican 2012 campaign team. Charles Evans Hughes, Rick Overton from - from the movie - from - okay. Valerie Plame Wilson and the Global Zero anti-nukes campaign next.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on his date in 1944, Aimee Semple McPherson died. That closed one of the first in the now-annual stories in which one of the country's great religious figures and moral scolds turns out to have been getting a little on the side.
One of the first of the radio televangelists - which would've been the radio evangelists, if you will - the famous Foursquare gospel preacher disappeared in 1926. She was assumed to have drowned and - at the height of the national mourning, she suddenly showed up in Mexico, claiming she'd been kidnapped and somebody named Mexicali Rose had threatened to sell her into what was pleasantly called white slavery.
Turned out she hadn't been kidnapped. She had run off with a fling with the engineer at KFSG. That's Foursquare Gospel Radio.
"Time Marches On."
Elsewhere, in the animal kingdom, a man and his best friend are playing a simple game of fetch. Any old dog can retrieve a stick and bring it back to you. Only a special one like Stubs, here, can retrieve it from the top of a tree.
Stubs assesses the situation, begins his ascent and triumphantly stands atop the tree. Hello, Stubs. Where are you, Stubs? There you are. Good boy. "They call me Dog, the Stick Hunter. I always get the stick. " Stubs figures out the exit strategy and mission accomplished. "Let me try for the redwood, boss. I'm ready for the redwood. Let me go to the redwood, huh?"
From one tree stunt to another - they find a sturdy vine hanging from a tree. These men see the opportunity to finally live out their "George of the Jungle" fantasy. "Wee!" But you know what they say, "Watch out for that tree." "Wee!"
Unfortunately, the third time is also the charm and these guys are idiots. "Down goes Tarzan!" Needless to say, Jane, would not have been impressed. Although the chimp might've liked it.
Dateline: Hunan Province, China. It's a bird, it's a plane, it's - wingsuit flyer, Jeb Corliss?
Jeb Corliss - best known for getting arrested in 2006 for attempting a jump from the Empire State Building - is making his second attempt at flying through the hole of Tianmen Mountain. Okay. You would think flailing on this first attempt meant he flew into the mountain, but apparently not.
Corliss dropped from the helicopter. "Ladies and gentlemen, should be a smooth flight today. We'll be flying at an altitude of 6,000 feet - 4,000 feet - 3,000 - we should you have you through that hole in the mountain in no time. "Put the biscuit in the basket. He thread the needle." Experts say the best Wings performance since 1973′s "Band on the Run."
"Time Marches On!"
Michele Bachmann and these Hezbollah rockets in Cuba. Iran? Cuba. Wherever. First, Valerie Plame Wilson and the desperate pushback against nuclear weapons everywhere.
OLBERMANN: "Passaic, New Jersey: Birthplace of Television" will not be seen tonight, so we can instead bring you another edition of "Countdown," live at 8:00 P.M. Eastern, 5:00 P.M. Pacific, each weeknight. The replays are at 11:00 P.M., 2:00 A.M., 7:00 A.M., noon and 3:00 P.M. We call it our little miracle.
At the United Nations last week, President Obama calling for "a world free of nuclear weapons." It is a lofty goal but one towards which he has made some - albeit some slow - progress.
Our next guest - the former CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson - shares the president's vision for a nuke-free world. She spent years as an undercover officer, specializing in nuclear proliferation before her cover was of course blown by members of the Bush administration.
In our third story on the "Countdown," Valerie Plame Wilson now working with the Global Zero campaign, which seeks to eliminate the nuclear weapons, and next month she will be launching an ad campaign with the actress Naomi Watts, who portrayed her in the movie "Fair Game."
The campaign highlights - and in this climate of economic retrenchment at any price - tries to take advantage of a sobering calculation. The world's governments spend more than $1 trillion each decade on nuclear weapons. Valerie Plame Wilson thinks that money could be better put to use in other ways and she thinks now is the time.
Next month, Global Zero will be holding a summit for world leaders at the Reagan Library. It will mark the 25th anniversary of the Reykjavik Summit - of course the 1986 meeting between President Reagan and Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev - at which the leaders came close to agreeing to eliminate all nuclear weapons.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Have you made any real progress, sir?
(Excerpt from video clip) RONALD REAGAN: We're not through.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Are you gonna meet again, sir?
(Excerpt from video clip) REAGAN: Yes.
OLBERMANN: In the end, though, those talks broke down. President Obama has pledged to pick up where they left off. In 2010, he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the new START Treaty, pledging to reduce their nuclear arms. And at the U.N. last week, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment.
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: To lift the specter of mass destruction, we must come together to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.
OLBERMANN: As promised, joining me now, Valerie Plame Wilson, former CIA officer, spokesperson now for globalzero.org. Pleasure to see you, my friend.
VALERIE PLAME WILSON: Thank you so much for having me.
OLBERMANN: Is there really a conceivable way, after 60 years of hammering at this problem from ethical, accident-based arguments - the - the horrors of the wars that could ensue, all of the big-picture things - is there actually a conceivable way to hitting this, based solely on the desire of people around the world suddenly to not spend cash out of the taxpayer-dollar vaults?
PLAME WILSON: Absolutely, and it's not just liberals holding hands and hoping for world peace.
PLAME WILSON: The good news is - at the height of the cold war, we had 60,000 nuclear weapons in the world. We're now down to 23,000. There was political will and where there was political will, there was progress made. And you're seeing that again with President Obama, President Medvedev.
It is there and what I love about Global Zero is - it spans the political spectrum, internationally, as well in this country. As you mentioned in your opening remarks, this summit that Global Zero is going to have at the Reagan Library, it features former Secretary of State James Baker, George Shultz, among others. So, that's why - it's recognition that we need to move forward.
OLBERMANN: The trillion-dollar figure - and its $600 billion dollars in this country, alone, over the period of a decade-long stretch - where does the money go? Because - are we replacing the stockpiles with new? Are these maintenance?
PLAME WILSON: All of those. All of those things. It's production, it's operation expenses, it's maintenance, and so forth. Think of what $600 billion could buy, particularly in these days. Oh, I don't know, let's just say - education, health care, job creation.
The nuclear weapons budget is really bloated, and I - when we go - and with the super committee, and Congress now is looking at cuts - I would suggest that they take a look at this part. I mean, I believe they're obligated for about $350 million in defense budget. I would take a first, hard look at our nuclear weapons.
OLBERMANN: Are you, or anybody else from Global Zero, gonna be able to testify to that committee?
PLAME WILSON: We haven't been asked yet, but we will be more than willing to do so.
OLBERMANN: But are you dealing with - and is anybody who in government would want to go along with this idea - are you not all dealing with, essentially, the final version of what Eisenhower addressed in his farewell address in 1961? It's not just a military-industrial complex, this is specifically a nuclear-industrial complex. There are vested interests. A lot of people's, you know, wall-size TVs, depend on the continuation of this, correct?
PLAME WILSON: That's right. I live in a state - New Mexico - that, in fact, depends heavily on a couple of those - the Los Alamos and Sandia labs. But you need to step back and say, "Really, is this the path we want to continue on?" We've got a lot of problems in the world, but I would argue - strenuously - that if we don't get this one right, none of the other ones matter.
PLAME WILSON: I feel really grateful to Global Zero, because I get to continue my work, - what I did at the CIA - which was at this nexus of terrorism, the nuclear issue, and I do it in a much more overt fashion.
OLBERMANN: Now - not to give anything else away from the CIA - but did you get to see this threat in a way that the rest of us, even the politicians - even maybe the George Schultz's of this world - never got to see it because of what you did, without saying what is you did?
PLAME WILSON: Right. Without giving away any secrets, I would say so. Because you really - it's hard to believe what you were seeing. And we know that we're only seeing a tip of the iceberg, particularly where you have that cross section of terrorism, nuclear - there's no doubt that terrorists are actively seeking nuclear capabilities. And when you see, particularly, how widespread it is and how easy it is.
In the film, "Countdown To Zero," which appeared last year, they talk about - potatoes in Russia are being better guarded than highly-enriched uranium.
OLBERMANN: Let's scare everybody on the way out.
PLAME WILSON: I know. Cheery.
OLBERMANN: Give me a percentage. What - of the fact that we have not had a disastrous nuclear event in this planet, essentially since the - other than the intentional ones, there's not been a disastrous nuclear event in this planet that wiped out 3 million people at once, say, let's put that as some arbitrary threshold - to what percentage is that absolute sheer luck - that there should have something - something should have fallen off of the back of a truck into somebody's hands, or something should've fallen off of a gantry somewhere and blown up?
PLAME WILSON: From what I have seen at the CIA, and my continued work with Global Zero, I think it's just a question of when, not if, if we don't do something. I know, very cheery. But it's a very real possibility, because it is not as well-guarded. But what is on the other side of that - we do have really good monitoring and verification processes that need to be implemented with political will. And I believe it's there. But we need - sort of after the Cold War, this whole issue -
OLBERMANN: Right, everything went away.
PLAME WILSON: You know, everyone, we swept it under the rug, and it's not en vogue anymore. But, of course we love the fact that President Obama and other world leaders are very much behind this and they realize we cannot continue.
OLBERMANN: For more information, to sign the Global Zero petition, go to cutnukes.org. Valerie Plame Wilson on behalf of the Global Zero campaign. Great thanks. Great to see you.
PLAME WILSON: Thank you. Thank you so much.
OLBERMANN: Asked why he is racist towards Latinos, an infamous Arizona political figure answers, "I'm not gonna get into my personal life." So that's a yes?
"Worst Persons" next on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Just in case she hadn't already destroyed her own campaign with certain geographical flexibility, she's just finished the job with a wonderful conflation of Hezbollah, Iran, Italy and Latin America - which has led her to the conclusion that they put missiles in Cuba pointed at us.
First - the outrage is still on full blast, and the network coverage is still wide, but something you may not know about that outrageous College Republicans' affirmative-action bake sale at Cal - it's the seventh one in the last nine years. It's old hat by now. Next on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Michele Bachmann warns about Hezbollah missiles in Iran and Cuba that she read about in an Italian newspaper, next.
First - because it's that kind of clear, cool, calculated thinking we're up against in the endless battle against stupidity - here are "Countdown's" nominees for today's top three "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze to the College Republicans at Cal staging a stunt bake sale in which items are priced less for minority groups, and women. And for Native Americans everything is, like, 25 cents. This is supposed to represent tuition breaks for under-represented groups - the last shred of thought before these young conservatives are officially assimilated into the Borg by being forced to listen to Rush Limbaugh for a week without getting any sleep.
But the award is shared with the pack of national news outlets that were manipulated into covering this yesterday. I mean, I saw CNN do it twice yesterday alone. I mean - as the impeccable Dave Weigel notes - this is not some new thing. By his count, this is at least the eighth time a College Republican group has done the bake sale stunt since 2002. Same premise. University of New Mexico that year, University of Michigan, 2003, Colorado Boulder, 2004, Grand Valley State, 2005, Kutztown, 2006, Michigan-Flint, 2008, now Cal.
The only variable seems to be whether you charge the black customers or the Hispanic customers less - which apparently varies from college to college based on which group the young Republicans hate more. CNN covered the one at Cal today live. You kids ever heard of the Google?
The runner-up - to whoever that was who heckled President Obama at a fundraiser in L.A. last night. Listen carefully and you will hear the man insist that the Christian God is the one and only true God, that Jesus Christ is God - and he'll claim that Obama is the Antichrist.
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: I want to thank -
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: The Christian God is the one and only true living God, the creator of Heaven and the Universe.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: The -
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: I love Jesus! Jesus Christ is God.
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: I agree, Jesus Christ is the Lord. I believe in that.
OLBERMANN: Two things - do you really think people who are dumb enough to believe in something called the Antichrist would be smart enough to recognize the Antichrist? I mean, isn't that part of the whole Antichrist thing? Don't you have to have a priest or a pope or Glenn Beck or WorldNetDaily identify him for you?
Secondly, that was a fundraiser at the House of Blues. The moron may have paid as much as ten grand to get in, to yell at the president and give him the chance to say, "Jesus Christ is the Lord. I agree with that."
But our winner - the national embarrassment that is Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. After years of abusing his office and his prisoners, Yosemite Sam here may have finally stepped waist-high in it.
While this jackass was on the local ABC station in Tucson boasting about how he's going to turn his cold-case posse onto investigating the authenticity of the president's birth certificate, the penny-ante bully with the uniform got a surprise from a viewer question.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Richard Hoganson on Facebook asks - and this is a tough one - "How - why, are you a racist against Latinos?"
(Excerpt from video clip) ARPAIO: Well, I'm not going to get into my personal life and grandkids and daughter-in-laws. I don't have to defend myself against that vicious attack.
OLBERMANN: Whether or not you're racist against Latinos is part of your personal life? No contemplation at any point of saying, "I'm not a racist." You got to drag your grandchildren into it?
Sheriff Joe "My Racism Is My Business" Arpaio, today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: The Bachmann campaign has been struggling. Over the weekend, she finished last in the Florida straw poll - the CNN poll that was mentioned before - Bachmann was in a tie with Rick Santorum with an astonishing 4 percent of support from GOP voters. Any time you're in the same sentence as Rick Santorum, things are not going well.
But our number one story - Michele Bachmann has returned to what first garnered her national attention and could get her campaign back on track - talking crazy. At a town hall in Iowa, she was asked a question about normalizing trade with Cuba. She repeated her answer from the debate last week about Cuba being a sponsor of terror, but then she went further. She found a way to work in Iran and Hezbollah, and just about every other place on Earth.
(Excerpt from video clip) BACHMANN: There are four nations in the world that are state sponsors of terror - Iran is one of them and Cuba is another one. Why would you normalize trading with a country that sponsors terror?
Cuba - there's reports that have come out that Cuba has been working with another terrorist organization called Hezbollah - and Hezbollah is potentially looking at wanting to be a part of missile sites in Iran and, of course, when you're 90 miles offshore from Florida, you don't want to entertain the prospect of hosting bases or sites where Hezbollah could have training camps, or perhaps have missile sites or weapon sites, in Cuba. This would be foolish.
Castro has been in charge in Cuba since the revolution in 1959. Why would we reward a communist, brutal dictator who continually represses his people? Why would he reward him? That's why we don't want to see Palestine become a state, until and unless they renounce terrorism against Israel. That's the problem with Cuba.
OLBERMANN: Here to translate is "Countdown" contributor Maysoon Zayid who will be appearing tonight and Thursday at the Gotham Comedy Club as part of the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival. Good to see you, my friend.
MAYSOON ZAYID: Good to see you, too.
OLBERMANN: All right. We don't - I like to have you in here on general-interest topics, don't try to make it an Arabic thing or anything like that, but, I'm - apparently, my geography has been wrong for all of my 52 years. Iran is 90 miles off the coast of Florida? Did I hear that in there somewhere?
ZAYID: You did. First of all, I'm absolutely convinced that the inside of this woman's head looks like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory with Gene Wilder, but wackier. I'm convinced. And Marcus -
OLBERMANN: It's a chocolate - chocolate river and Oompas and everything else?
ZAYID: Well, Marcus Bachmann is Augustus Gloop. I mean, I'm telling you, that's what's going on. I think that her logic goes like this - I think that first of all, she thinks like Castro and Nasrallah are the same person, because they both have crazy facial hair.
OLBERMANN: Okay, all right, all right, all right.
ZAYID: I think the other confusion - and this is the geography part - is that she believes that Florida is Israel. And that's why Hezbollah is trying to attack it. She got confused.
OLBERMANN: All right, so - and Castro runs Palestine.
ZAYID: Exactly - oh, yeah. I don't know how -
OLBERMANN: In his spare time.
ZAYID: - she made that leap. It was just like someone told her - "You must say something bad about Palestine." And at the end, she was just like - "Palestine."
OLBERMANN: And, she did everything but credit it. We've sort of tracked this thing down, and it comes - it is from a report. Part of that - there's a little germ in there that's, like, true.
Supposedly, Hezbollah is looking at possibly doing training camps in Cuba to attack Israeli-affiliated targets in Latin America. So, they're, like, going here and going south rather than north. And this was in an Italian newspaper report.
Whether or not it's true, that's not the question. It was in an Italian newspaper. Just throw this out - does she speak Italian? Is Italian her first language and she was reading this in the Vatican newspaper or something and she's trying to translate for us?
ZAYID: The fact that she can read any language is astounding to me. But it's dangerous, because she doesn't seem to understand that you can't believe everything you read, and you also can't believe every single thing you hear.
ZAYID: I mean, the GOP is really like - it's making me get stressed out because we have a woman candidate. And, as a woman, I should want to support her. But I feel like they found us, like, the most submissive, silly, incompetent woman. My cat Lucy could do a better job than this. She's being used by the Saudi king as an example as to why women shouldn't have rights.
OLBERMANN: Oh, God. So, then, the GOP - if it's not her, and that Rick Perry is self-destructing, 'cause he has the "Saturday Night Live" sketch suggestion, he's just going to fall asleep at the podium one of these days - we talked earlier in the show about Chris Christie being the last hope. Now, Chris is - Chris is one of your people. He's from Jersey. Yeah? No?
ZAYID: Chris is not one of my people, and I am from Jersey. But I will not claim him just like I won't claim Snooki. Listen, I may be honest with you, I would like to see Chris Christie run. I'd like to see him running - just not for President of the United States.
OLBERMANN: I see.
ZAYID: That's what it is. And I think - there's one upside to Michele Bachmann, if she does actually become president. Which is that Marcus Bachmann would make a fabulous first lady - I mean, it would be great.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Michael Musto. You saw the Chris Christie news today, though? That he took the - he took the tax break away from the production company that makes "Jersey Shore"? They got, like, a $420,000 tax break, and his argument was "'Jersey Shore' does nothing but humiliate New Jersey, why should we be giving them a . . ." - this might be the strongest stance taken by any GOP contender so far. It might actually get him votes.
ZAYID: But I feel like - if he feels like the "Jersey Shore" embarrasses New Jersey, and he should take away their tax credit - he should accept that he embarrasses New Jersey and he should take away his own job.
OLBERMANN: The flawless logic of comedienne and activist and "Countdown" contributor, Maysoon Zayid, who's - as we mentioned before - appearing tonight, and then again on Thursday at the Gotham Comedy Club as part of the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival. Is there nothing going on Wednesday?
ZAYID: Wednesday night I'm teaching at NYU and Sunday, I'm in Philly - in Philadelphia - at Helium.
OLBERMANN: Oh, okay.
OLBERMANN: Well, have a good time. We'll see you when you get back from your next long trip.
ZAYID: Thanks for having me here.
OLBERMANN: Of course. That's "Countdown" for this, the 58th day since the Republican's debt-ceiling blackmail worked. Speaker Boehner, where are the jobs? Where's our credit rating? Where's Snooki?
I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night, and good luck.