'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
#ShowPlug 1: 1st March On Washington by #Occupy planned for tomorrow. #OWS gets heaters back, and winter-strength tents
#ShowPlug 2: Today: they get visit, performance by, @TheDavidCrosby and Graham Nash. They join me; in a Countdown first, they'll SING
#ShowPlug 3: 2nd Herman Cain accuser goes on record, calls for joint news conf. w/other alleged victims; Cain-Bialek meeting witness speaks
#ShowPlug 4: Herman Cain holds joint news conference with himself. They contradict one another. @Markos Moulitsas joins me
#ShowPlug 5: Mississippi votes on "personhood" as GOP introduces two NATIONAL bills in house, one in Senate; w/HuffPo's @LEBassett
#ShowPlug 6: Ohio votes on Issue 2, busting unionbusters and Gov. Kasich. @AndrewKroll of Mother Joins live from Columbus
watch whole playlist
#5 'Occupy Wall Street'
#5 'Occupy Wall Street', Graham Nash & David Crosby
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#4 'Cain Wreck', Markos Moulitsas
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Right To Lose', Laura Bassett
#2 Worst Persons: Rep. Michele Bachmann, Bill O’Reilly, Joe Paterno
#1 Breaking news on election results, Andy Kroll
printable PDF transcript
Categories: Show Transcripts
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Herman Cain's answer? Two simple words - "I forgot!"
(Excerpt from video clip) HERMAN CAIN: As they got to the microphone, my first response in my mind and reaction was, "I don't even know who this woman is."
OLBERMANN: How many times do we let ourselves get into terrible situations, because we don't say "I forgot"?
(Excerpt from video clip) CAIN: How can I defend charges when I don't remember this person by name? I don't remember that she did work at the education foundation. And when I first saw her, I didn't recollect, even - I didn't even recognize her.
OLBERMANN: Now, there's a Cain news conference. And one of the original accusers has been named - by Rupert Murdoch.
Occupy on the march to protest the Bush tax cuts - marching from New York to Washington. Today, soundtrack. David Crosby and Graham Nash speak and perform.
(Excerpt from video clip) GRAHAM NASH: I want you to sing this with me. No more war. Come on, put your hands up. No more war.
OLBERMANN: Our special guests - David Crosby and Graham Nash.
Zygote-hood? Sperm-hood? Personhood? It's not just for Mississippi any more. As that state votes, the move to define life as the moment the sperm hits the egg goes national.
(Excerpt from video clip) LES RILEY: You're exactly the same person that you were then. The only thing that's been added to you is time and food.
OLBERMANN: Speak for yourself, Goober. Issue 2 - Ohio voting today to back collective bargaining and beat the Koch brothers. "Worsts" - she wants to expand Mount Rushmore. Three new presidents, including Garfield. And an exit strategy for this man, in weeks or days? Why? Fire him. Fire him now. All that and more, now on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Tuesday, November 8th, 364 days until the 2012 presidential election. It may not be very big at all, but Occupy will have its first march on Washington tomorrow to protest extending the Bush tax cuts.
And in our fifth story on the "Countdown" - Occupy Wall Street using the spring-like day to get its winter generators back and adding winter tents and world-class protest music from two long-term campaigners for human rights. David Crosby and Graham Nash will join us here on "Countdown" in a moment.
(Excerpt from video clip) GRAHAM NASH/DAVID CROSBY: Speak out! You got to speak your mind/If you still dare... I want you to sing this with me - No more war/No more war ... Sing louder! No more war.
OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, Occupy the Highway scheduled to leave Zuccotti Park for the nation's capital at noon tomorrow. Organizers say a dozen Zuccotti activists will head south and plans to make 20 miles per day on a 240 mile route, with two days off for rest. That core group also is hoping to pick up local marchers as it travels through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. And scheduling themselves to arrive in Washington on November 23rd, when a Congressional committee is supposed to decide whether to sustain President Obama's extension of the Bush tax cuts. So, the Occupy obviously opposes.
This, as a business-friendly official who's urged the president to move towards the center and negotiate with Congressional Republicans finds his job has been shrunk. Obama Chief of Staff Bill Daley has lost some responsibility for day-to-day management of the White House staff. The president cited Daley, a former J.P. Morgan vice chairman, for his business experience when he appointed him to the job in January. The White House insists the changes were made at Mr. Daley's request. They come as President Obama has been making more-populist speeches, bashing some of the very Congressional Republicans Mr. Daley tried to work with.
Back to Zuccotti Park, where as many as 20 military-style tents have been purchased for a thousand dollars each, to help shelter protesters as winter sets in for good. The tents are waterproof, double-layered, should provide more shelter than most of the camping tents already set up in the park. Occupy Wall Street also has its generators back. The protesters' legal team says the generators were returned today, with no stipulation on how and where they can be used as long as the law is obligated and the law is fulfilled here. Occupy protesters will meet later to decide how to use the gas powered generators safely.
And elsewhere around the country in the Occupy movement, Occupy Mobile might wish it had just those problems. Demonstrators there have been ordered to pack up and leave Spanish Plaza. The group says it is leaving, but not because it was ordered to go.
And in Atlanta - where Occupy protesters have moved their tents to suburban Snellville to try to stop a foreclosure in a home owned by a family of five. The group says they look to make a stand and highlight abuses by the mortgage industry. The local sheriff's department says that that foreclosure is still going forward.
Best known as two thirds of the group Crosby, Stills and Nash - or, if you prefer, half of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young - their careers also encompass their work as a duo, thriving solo careers and classic, early performances with The Birds and The Hollies. Along with songs of love lost and found, they are known for such powerful political messages as Crosby's "Long Time Comin'" and Nash's "Military Madness," which they performed at Zuccotti Park today, and which we referenced at the top of the program. Their latest release is a DVD of Crosby-Nash in concert on their 2011 tour. And it is my great pleasure to welcome musicians and activists David Crosby and Graham Nash to "Countdown." Gentlemen, a pleasure to have you here.
GRAHAM NASH: How are you?
OLBERMANN: Very well, and I'm honored that you're here.
NASH: I can't tell you how honored we are. We follow you completely and completely agree with most of the things that you say.
OLBERMANN: I thank you kindly for that. Tell me about Occupy Wall Street - what did you see down there and what did you take away from it, Graham?
NASH: We saw the voice of the people. We saw them. We saw the same energy that was in Selma, in Alabama. We saw the same energy in the Vietnam War and the lady struggles and the African-American struggles for the vote. We saw that same energy. It's still there.
OLBERMANN: Did you draw inspiration from it? Was it that sort of energizing thing that we all look for in events of this nature?
DAVID CROSBY: Truthfully, it made me feel fantastic, man. I mean, it's part of our job. Part of our job's just to make you feel good and make you boogie. But part of our job is to be the town crier, the troubadour. And it always has been. We learned it from people like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie and it's been something serious for us the whole time.
And to go down there and start singing - without any amps, without any band, with nothing - a little nervous-making. And they started singing with us. And they knew the songs. And they knew why we were singing them. And you know - I've been down there before just to kind of cruise it and talk to people, ask them what they wanted, what they needed. And they said, "It would lift our spirits a lot if you did come down." And truthfully, I think that's what we did. I felt fantastic, man.
NASH: We just finished -
CROSBY: I felt like I was doing my job.
NASH: We just finished a seven-week tour of Europe. And we talked about Occupy Wall Street every, single night. And we thought, "Are these people going to understand?" First of all, there's a language barrier, perhaps. But every time that we mentioned them, they cheered. I swear to God, they cheered.
CROSBY: They're having demonstrations all over Europe.
OLBERMANN: Of course.
CROSBY: Big ones - bigger than the park - about the park. They - to them, it's as if they were watching America wake up. To us, it's - you know how a crystal starts to form in a solution, when saturation point happens? I think we're reaching the saturation point.
OLBERMANN: Edges, then a different pattern each time, but creating something out of, seemingly, nothing there.
CROSBY: I think we're reaching the saturation point. And there's a magical thing, also, in that they don't have a single figure that can be pointed at and -
CROSBY: "This guy - this guy is the troublemaker." It's - that baffles them, the people we're up against - the one percent of the people who have control of most of money on the planet.
OLBERMANN: Because they can't figure out who to buy.
NASH: That's right.
CROSBY: The people who bought the government. This is - this is like an itch they can't scratch. They can't bomb it. They can't buy it. They can't bull -
OLBERMANN: I know what you are saying, yes.
CROSBY: Bulldoze it. It's - it's really pretty exciting.
OLBERMANN: Do you have a sense, also - there has been some criticism that there's no set demands and it's still vague - is that a part and parcel of the idea there is not one leader of the group, or even a couple of leaders, that also this is at the "Hey, it's wrong," stage. "We'll figure out how to fix it. First we have to get people to acknowledge it's wrong."
CROSBY: That's exactly what they are doing.
NASH: They know it's unequal. They know that it's wrong. They know the system is set against them. They know that it's a system that just favors the rich people. They know this, and they are standing up and laying their bodies on the line, literally, to do it. You have been down there. You know what's going on.
CROSBY: They have felt for a long time that their votes didn't count, that the elections get rigged or get bought.
CROSBY: Are bought. That the guy with the biggest, you know, TV budget gets the keys to the kingdom. And they know that's not what the Constitution meant, and it's crystallizing down there. It's -
NASH: It was a fabulous time.
CROSBY: It was really exciting.
NASH: It really was.
OLBERMANN: All right, so you have been there before. That was your first time?
NASH: It was my first time, yes.
OLBERMANN: There are other ones, obviously, throughout the country. If you have the opportunity to go somewhere else, would you go?
NASH: Absolutely, in a second.
CROSBY: Yeah, yeah.
NASH: We even took food. We took hand warmers. We took lots of stuff down there, too. We just didn't take ourselves. And one of the things that was great, is that you sensed a unity against the powers that be.
NASH: Finally, the people are trying to speak out and they have, obviously, the Constitutional right to do so.
OLBERMANN: If the major problem of the last 20, 30 years - 35 years - might have just been, sort of, generalized apathy, especially among the people who have the energy to protest - as the rest of us get increasingly out of that demographic group to be energized - do you have a sense that it's larger than the people that you saw today?
NASH: Yes. You see, this movement does not need that park. It's way bigger than the park.
CROSBY: The park is just a spark. That's just the beginning.
NASH: Did you know you were a poet? Did you know that?
CROSBY: It's going to go on and keep getting bigger, because we've reached a point where a whole lot of the country doesn't feel represented. Now, I have very liberal friends and very conservative friends. None of them feel like somebody in Washington is there for them.
CROSBY: Everybody I know, on both sides of the fence, feels like the government's been bought and they don't have a say. You know, and that's a really critical point.
OLBERMANN: All right. You have seen so many other protests movements - and contributed to them over the years - and the idea that we are about 50 days into this, does that give you enough of an idea to assess where this stands and where this might go? How this - ranks is a terrible term to use, in terms of other protest movements - but where it stands as a development - I can't even say "developmentally" correctly! You know what I am saying.
CROSBY: I asked them today. And they said, "Oh, we've got years ahead of us." They said, "We're in this for the long haul." I said, "How long do you think it will be until they try to shove you out of the park?" They said, "Soon." And they said, "It doesn't matter," you know? It's not about the park. That's just where the focal point was. When we left, we were saying, "Stay here. Stay here. Stay here." But the truth is - this is way bigger than that. This is a whole country waking up and saying, "We were supposed to have a vote. We were supposed to have a say."
NASH: "We were supposed to have a country."
CROSBY: "We were supposed to have a deal where, if you worked hard, you could, you know, like - make anything you wanted out of yourself. We were supposed to be able to believe any way we wanted. Now we have bread and circuses. And we've got, you know - "
NASH: And we've got a system that, you know, just wants you to lie down and be sheep. "Shut up. Let us rob you. Buy another pair of sneakers and a soft drink. And shut up." Uh-uh, no one is going to shut up any more. I think this movement is going to get larger and larger and larger.
CROSBY: Yeah, they really are not gonna go for that anymore.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, all right. So, what do you think happens next? What's the next evolutionary point?
NASH: What I think is that you are going to see people starting to change things - like the banks that didn't want to charge them more. You know, they have awakened a monster here. And quite frankly, Keith, I am totally amazed at the powers that be that they let it get this far.
OLBERMANN: And made every bad decision they could in terms of the cops and providing all those moments of conflict and anguish and everything else.
CROSBY: They completely underestimated it. But, like I said, it's not something that they have ever dealt with before. They don't have a focal point that they can vilify or try to get something on. They don't have - they don't understand.
NASH: I think it's incredibly ironic that Bouazizi, right, from Tunisia - who immolated himself - was so outraged at the system, he set fire and immolated himself, and sparked a fire that is worldwide. It's very ironic.
OLBERMANN: Absolutely, "the park is the spark." I think somebody better write that down if you don't. On the subject of that, can you indulge us and give us something quickly - a quick song that relates to this?
NASH: Yeah. We can. And this is what we did every single concert and was responding to with unbelievable fervor. And it's a song that David wrote called "What are Their Names." Do you want to sing it?
CROSBY: Right about there?
CROSBY: No, that's probably too high.
BOTH: Who are the men/Who really run this land?/And why do they run it/With such a thoughtless hand?/What are their names/And on what street do they live?/I'd like to ride, ride right over/This afternoon and give/Them a piece of my mind/About peace for mankind/Peace is not/An awful lot to ask.
OLBERMANN: David Crosby and Graham Nash, as I said - an honor to have you here.
NASH: It's our pleasure, Keith.
CROSBY: Really, we are fans.
OLBERMANN: Well, same here. So, we will take a big group-hug picture right after we sign this one out.
NASH: We'll send one to Rumsfeld.
OLBERMANN: He'll know who you guys are. He won't know who I am. All right, thank you, gentlemen.
NASH: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: And if you think that was a great performance, wait until you see Herman Cain from this afternoon, next.
OLBERMANN: Herman Cain calls his fourth accuser a "troubled woman" guilty of "slander" who he has never met. A conservative radio host says she saw them together a month ago. One of the anonymous accusers goes on the record and Cain is still denying everything - the Cain-wreck.
Does this look like a person to you? Mississippi voting today to define this as a life. What you may not know is that there are two bills in the House and one in the Senate to make that definition national.
Curtains for Kasich: the latest from Ohio on the busting of the union busters contentious enough that a voter was bitten in the nose by an election official.
And how one sexual harasser defends another, O'Reilly rips the media, never mentions the newest allegations, "Worst Persons" ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Herman Cain went on the attack today. He held a joint news conference with himself, calling alleged victim Sharon Bialek a liar. Claiming she's guilty of "slander" against him. And saying, in the third person again, "Herman Cain has never acted inappropriately, ever." This, as a second of a women goes public with her harassment claims.
In our fourth story tonight - Cain still denying all accusations, but claiming he is the innocent victim of what he called the "Democratic machine." With a slander-and-libel attorney at his side, Cain - speaking almost exclusively in the third person - claiming he had been spending the last few days wracking his brain, trying to remember if he had ever met his accuser Sharon Bialek.
(Excerpt from video clip) CAIN: Then I sat there and went over and over and over in my mind, "Do I know this lady?" And the answer kept coming up, "No." I watched her again today when she appeared on Fox News with her attorney doing this interview, sitting there, trying to remember - "Do I know her?" I didn't recognize the face. I didn't recognize the name, nor the voice.
OLBERMANN: A conservative Chicago radio host saying she saw Cain and Bialek hugging at a tea party event in that city just a month ago. And that Bialek "grabbed his arm and whispered in his left ear." Cain, now not only denying knowing Bialek, but calling her "troubled" and backed by a Democratic smear machine.
(Excerpt from video clip) CAIN: The fact is, these anonymous allegations are false and now the Democratic machine in America has brought forth a troubled woman to make false accusations.
OLBERMANN: When asked if he'd take a lie detector test about that, he said yes he would. Then immediately contradicted himself.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: As distasteful as it might be, would you be willing to do a lie detector test to prove your honesty in something like that? Even though I'm sure -
(Excerpt from video clip) CAIN: Yes. Yes, I absolutely would. But I am not going to do that unless I have a good reason to do that.
OLBERMANN: Cain saying he also does not have a good reason to withdraw from the campaign - what with the American people and their grandchildren counting on him to stay in the race.
(Excerpt from video clip) CAIN: As far as these accusations causing me to back off and maybe withdraw from this presidential primary race - it ain't going to happen, because I am doing this for the American people and for their children and their grandchildren.
OLBERMANN: Meantime - the conservative media attacking the alleged victims. Fox's Martha McCallum attempting to link tea party Republican Bialek to Democratic leaders because - she lived in the same apartment building as President Obama's adviser David Axelrod.
(Excerpt from video clip) MARTHA McCALLUM: Do you know David Axelrod or ever had any interaction with him at all?
(Excerpt from video clip) SHARON BIALEK: I saw him in the gym. Everybody nods to each other. It's a friendly building, but I never had any interaction with him.
OLBERMANN: Murdoch's New York Post publishing this gem of a headline today - "Jobless & shameless gal going for gold" - it may have been about the author.
The Rupert Murdoch media empire also took aim at another one of the accusers - Karen Kraushaar, a 55-year-old communications official at the Treasury Department, registered Republican - one of the two women who settled claims in the late '90s against the NRA. She had remained anonymous until Murdoch's Daily - the iPad program Daily - revealed her identity today. Kraushaar, telling Politico that - now that her identity is public - she would hold a joint news conference with the other alleged victims.
Meantime, Cain's biggest rival, Mitt Romney, sounding almost gleeful today about the accusations:
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: I just think it's important to recognize that a number of women have come forward with concerns. This woman's charges are particularly disturbing. And they are serious.
OLBERMANN: There is evidence that Cain is losing support among Republicans now. A Reuters/Ipsos poll out today finding that 40 percent of Republicans say they now have a less-favorable view of Cain and 39 percent of the Republicans say they believe Ms. Bialek's claims.
Joining me now, "Countdown" contributor Markos Moulitsas, the publisher and editor of "Daily Kos." Markos, good evening.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I would like to formally say here I am endorsing Herman Cain for the Republican presidential nomination. There were so many extraordinary moments in the news conference there. Do you have a favorite?
MOULITSAS: Do I have a favorite?
MOULITSAS: Well, I love the part where he very earnestly said that he's seen as much sexual harassment against men by women as the other way around. Which immediately tells you that he doesn't really understand what sexual harassment actually is. But I think my favorite moment was opening with his lawyer - because nothing says "presidential material" than defending yourself against these kind of charges by hiding behind your lawyer.
OLBERMANN: And not just a lawyer. That was Lin Wood, who successfully - he's a slander and libel guy - and he successfully sued on behalf of the wrongly-accused Olympic park bomber, Richard Jewell. And then worked with the Ramsey family and Anna Nicole Smith's lawyer. And it's sort of like a descent from the Richard Jewell case, where he was really on the side of the angels.
But here's a - the word - he used - Cain used the word "slander" about what Bialek said. And he used the word "troubled." Why hasn't he - he's got Lin Wood standing there, why didn't he come out today and say, "I'm suing."
Because if you are going to have a lawyer there, just as a threat - I think it gives the same sort of optics you just suggested, which is, "Oh, boy, now we are going to have - every presidential event this guy would have, would have three attorneys with him to fend off whoever was claiming what about him." At one point - if you go all the way, and say, "All right, here's my response to this. I am suing her." That would have been an entirely different thing, wouldn't it?
MOULITSAS: Right, Cain has threatened Politico with a lawsuit. But I think this is his problem. The truth is actually a defense in a slander case. And you have a situation where - sure, it's a "he said versus she said," but she has sworn testimony - or sworn statements - from two people she told about the incident right after that. Not to mention that - if you are a jury and you are looking at a pattern of cases where Cain has been accused and settled on matters of sexual harassment - then it doesn't make Cain look really good. I mean, remember - you don't have people coming out and accusing Mitt Romney of sexual harassment, or even Rick Perry. Right? So, this is not exactly a tactic that the so-called "Democratic machine" will throw at whoever they want to. I mean, of course we want - we want Herman Cain to win the nomination. I can't imagine.
MOULITSAS: And the more they think it's a liberal media out to get him, the happier I get - because I don't think Jesus loves us enough to give us Herman Cain to run against. That said, there's a pattern here. And I don't think any jury in their right mind would look at the situation and think that Herman Cain is on the right side of the issue.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, I know this is - this might sound like a silly question coming from me - what's my maximum donation I can make to the Cain campaign? Is it $2,400, $2,300? You would think I would remember something like this.
MOULITSAS: Let's call Citizens United, so you can create a corporation and give him everything.
OLBERMANN: That's true. That's true. I already have a corporation. I suppose I could give him a whole lot of money. Well, I don't know. He would probably squander it on lawyers. Where do - seriously, where do you think this puts him? I mean, is that over? Was that the end of it? 'Cause it seemed to me that he was a couple of stages - a couple of statements - away from such mind-bending statements that he might have spontaneously combusted before the end of the news conference.
MOULITSAS: Yeah, I was troubled, given that I do want him to survive and get the nomination. Obviously, it doesn't put an end to any of these questions. You have more people coming forward now. I mean, it's - it's - the media loves the story, so clearly, they are not going to let it go.
And I'm - what really worries me is that you are starting to see signs from social conservatives, who are starting to say, "Maybe this guy is not the kind of guy we want to nominate." And if I am a conservative, that's not the part that's going to bother me. If I'm a conservative, I think sexual harassment is no big deal. That's why I am not a conservative.
But if I am a conservative, I am more worried about his reaction to scandal. I mean - compare this to what happened with Barack Obama back in 2007, when he was being attacked mercilessly in the press and by his critics and by candidates - because of the Wright - Reverend Wright situation. Right? And the way he responded to that with his race speech was presidential material. You looked at that and you thought, "Okay. He can handle a crisis." Now, you look at Herman Cain - you're a Republican, you say, "Can he handle a crisis?" He is hiding behind his lawyer. I don't think that really bodes very well for him.
OLBERMANN: And with great presidential-like statements like "Ain't gonna happen." Which is what I want in a president. The founder and publisher of Daily Kos, "Countdown" contributor, Markos Moulitsas. As ever, great thanks.
MOULITSAS: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: If Mississippi's vote today on "personhood" were not crazy enough, there is a push to make it national. The bill's supported by the acceptable face of right-wing nuttery - Paul Ryan. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: Ohio may be a close vote. Personhood - not just for Mississippi any more. The alarming push to make that national, ahead.
First, on this date in 1914 was born the actor and producer Norman Lloyd, title character of Alfred Hitchcock's 1942 thriller "Saboteur," Dr. Auschlander in the '80s hit series "St. Elsewhere" and - I'm honored to say - my friend. He worked with his friend Charlie Chaplin, worked with Hitchcock for 30 years, attended the first game of the 1928 World Series and - the day I had lunch with him in L.A. in September - he was a little late because he played tennis a little longer than he had planned that morning. Happy 97th birthday to Norman Lloyd. I hope I am as sharp as you are now when I am - 53.
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Dan Meyer sets sword-swallowing record
We begin with some record breaking. This is Dan Meyer. Hello, Dan. Dan is attempting to break the record for the most swords swallowed in 30 seconds. He's in position. He's removed all of his internal organs. And - he's off. Don't tell Dan, but the number of swords you actually need to swallow to impress people is just the one. One sword, people are sufficiently impressed. Dan ultimately swallows six swords in 30 seconds, setting a new world sword record. The previous record holder could not be reached at his new job, human sieve!
VIDEO: Russian hockey coach high-sticks belligerent fans
In sports - at this hockey game in Belarus, fans of the home team Dinamo Minsk began throwing cigarette lighters and other objet d'arte at the bench of the visiting team Vityaz. Vityaz's coach Andrei Nazarov, former NHL left wing - known for his hard-hitting style of play and the ability to point to his own head - is not having it. And there they go! Grabbing a stick, begins swinging at the fans. That's 2 minutes for high sticking - 4, 6, 8, 12, 14, 28 minutes for high sticking. Coach Nazarov says he hopes to buy his own team one day and beat up people from the owners' box.
VIDEO: Wedding singer hits sour note
Finally, nothing makes your wedding day more special than one of your guests serenading you at the ceremony. Our apologies, in advance, to Leann Rimes.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: How do I breathe without you/If you ever go/How do I ever, ever say no... Sorry.
OLBERMANN: We had David Crosby and Graham Nash on the show, sir. And that's what you followed up with? If you have to apologize in the middle of the song, you're doing it wrong. But it raises a good question - how do you live after a performance like that?
"Time Marches On!"
How many presidents on Mount Rushmore? Michele Bachmann wants seven and, no, she doesn't think the four up there are natural phenomena, coming up.
OLBERMANN: DuMont brings you "Drew Pearson's Washington Merry-Go-Round" will not be seen tonight, so we can instead bring you "Countdown," the longest continuously-running 8:00 pm news hour on cable, unless you consider Fox - news. Our primary replays at 11:00 pm Eastern Standard Time and 11:00 pm Pacific Standard Time. We call it "our little guest lecture."
In 1973, "Roe v. Wade" provided judicial protection for a woman's right to choose. Since then, the right wing has subverted the ruling and imposes its beliefs on every woman's pregnancy.
In our third story - the "personhood" amendment in Mississippi is the latest attack on women's rights, but with six more states considering similar bills for a vote next year - as well as three national bills - it may just be the beginning.
Proposition 26 in Mississippi today asking "Should the term 'person' be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the equivalent thereof?"
This change in definition would make abortion completely illegal, outlaw several forms of birth control and make in vitro fertilization infeasible. It's not the first time conservatives have attempted to pass a "personhood" bill. Similar bills failed in Colorado in 2008 and 2010. But, with the expected success in Mississippi today, the right wing has been emboldened in its quest to limit women's rights. Groups in California, Florida, Ohio, Oregon, Montana and Nevada have all begun gathering signatures to get similar propositions on the ballet in 2012.
But the overall goal is to have a national amendment passed, or a bill of some sort. Right now, three separate bills have been written and endorsed by House and Senate GOP members. HR 212, also called "The Sanctity of Human Life Act" boasts 63 House Republican co-sponsors, including economic wonder boy Paul Ryan. HR 374, "The Life at Conception Act," has 91 co-sponsors, including presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. The Senate version of "The Life at Conception Act," which is S 91, has 12 so-called "family conscience" co-sponsors including David Vitter.
On that note, let's bring in Huffington Post reporter Laura Bassett, who has been focusing on this story for quite awhile. Thanks for your time tonight.
LAURA BASSETT: Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: Mississippi first, do we know what's expected from the vote?
BASSETT: It's been extremely close. The latest polling that I saw - it was 45 to 44. Forty-five percent of the voters saying they were going to vote for it. It's still too close to call at this point.
OLBERMANN: All right, the national bills - is there any realistic chance of any of them getting anywhere? And if not, what are they out there for?
BASSETT: The Senate has a pro-choice majority. I don't think there is any chance right now of a "personhood" bill passing in the House or the Senate. But I think that the movement has gained a little bit of momentum, now that people see that something like this could actually pass in a state like Mississippi. And, you know - pro-lifers are sort are getting on the train and trying to tout their pro-life credentials.
OLBERMANN: In Mississippi, to begin with, was there a significant pushback against that bill? And is there national structure in place? Or, was this just not taken seriously until the momentum started building in Mississippi?
BASSETT: I think you are right. I think it wasn't taken very seriously until recently, and - and the pushback has been surprisingly weak in Mississippi, even among Democrats and pro-choice lawmakers. I think they are afraid of coming out and saying they oppose this amendment - because it's being painted as a simple pro-choice versus pro-life issue. And the constituents in Mississippi are majority pro-life. Lawmakers know that it would be political suicide to come out and say that they oppose it.
But I think many of them do, and many are expressing concerns - including the extremely pro-life and conservative Governor Hailey Barber, who came out last week and said, "You know, this goes a little bit too far" - and then turned around the next day and voted for it after some pushback from - from his pro-life constituents. So, I think that people are kind of staying mum in Mississippi. And it's surprising.
OLBERMANN: Is there an expectation that if it passes in Mississippi and it is enacted and the governor, for some reason, doesn't veto it - as we would assume he would not - that there would be test case in fairly short order? Is that ultimately the goal - to get "Roe v. Wade" addressed without re-addressing that actual case, by going by the side door of the Supreme Court?
BASSETT: I think that is the goal. And I spoke with Les Riley, who is the founder of the personhood movement, and he came out and said, "'Roe v. Wade' is what we are aiming for. We want to reverse it." They see it as a blemish in the nation's history. They want to get that reversed and they want to use that as a means to ban abortion across the nation.
OLBERMANN: Is there a point approaching, in the Republican Party - in the House in particular - where they might merge those bills and, if not get them - get it - passed, actually make this something on which they would fight part of the national election next year?
BASSETT: I think there is a very strong chance of these bills passing in the House. They have many, many supporters. One of them has 64 co-sponsors, I believe, in the House. And I think - while there is a strong chance of it passing the House, a ton of anti-abortion legislation has passed the House this year and last year - there's going to - it's going to be blocked in the Senate. So, I don't think there is a strong chance of it being enacted, but there is definitely a pro-life majority in the House and they have power and they are gaining power.
OLBERMANN: And would they be able to dictate terms to the Republican presidential nominee, whoever that - whoever the survivor of that contest might be?
BASSETT: I think that it's - I think, you know, most of the - most of Republican candidates right now are very strongly pro-life and all of them, except Jon Huntsman, have come out in support of personhood or something like it. I think so. It's likely that personhood could actually - could actually make leeway if a Republican actually wins the seat.
OLBERMANN: Just remarkable. Laura Bassett of Huffington Post, who has been following personhood for quite some time, thank you for your insight and your time tonight.
BASSETT: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Another state voting today, Ohio on the union-busting law. Good news - whereas, the vote might be closer than anticipated - only one voter thus far has been bitten by an Ohio state election official. Stand by!
OLBERMANN: Not nail-biting time, but nose-biting time in Ohio as the state votes on the governor's union busting bill. Literally, nose-biting reported at the polls. First, the "Worsts." Why this man has to be fired immediately, next on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Ohio and Issue 2, live to Columbus in a moment.
First, because - while these people may be zombies and not actually alive - we must nevertheless truck with them here. Here are "Countdown's" top three nominees for "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann/ She has some suggestions about Mount Rushmore. She thinks there should be seven presidents carved up there, not just the current four.
One you can guess - Reagan. They all think Reagan is Obi Wan Kenobi. In fact, he's dead and he was a lousy president. The other two, you would never guess in a million years. Not George Bush, neither of them. Not Eisenhower, not even Nixon. Calvin Coolidge and James Garfield!
Calvin Coolidge, because, Bachmann claims, "he got the country's budget back on track." She is neglecting, of course, the fact that seven months after he did that - Coolidge left office in 1929 - the American economy crashed!
But James Garfield? Because, Bachmann claims, Garfield was the only congressman ever elected president. She intends to be the second Congressperson. He was assassinated seven months into his term and didn't really do anything. I think I know what the problem is here - Bachmann thinks President Garfield and Garfield the cat are the same thing.
The runner up? Bill-O the clown of the political whorehouse that is Fox News. Some conservative water carriers attacked Herman Cain's latest accuser Sharon Bialek. She is still the latest? She is? What time - 47 minutes? Okay, I will check.
They attacked here by sliming her. Murdoch's New York Post character assassin Andrea Peyser made up an anonymous source - who then supposedly said Bialek is a complete gold digger - and she criticized Bialek's make-up, which is really dangerous territory for Miss Peyser to enter.
But O'Reilly took another tactic. He ignored her. A five-minute segment last night on Cain, never mentioned the Bialek accusations. On the record, in public, specific details - never even alluded to it. What did he allude to? His own ratings! And a survey by the comic relief of media analysis groups - News Busters. "In six days, CNN ran more stories about Herman Cain than they did in the entire presidential campaign with Wright, Rezko and Ayers."
Possibly because Barack Obama was never accused of sexually assaulting any of them. "I look at CNN and MSNBC's ratings every night. I compete against them. All right? For 10 years - 10 years, a decade - they haven't moved an inch. In fact, they're worse now than they were 10 years ago. All right? Both of them.
So, I'm saying to myself, you know what? We, Goldberg and O'Reilly, we cover this media stuff every week. We point it out every week, that it's not fair. The reportage is not honest, okay? The folks get it. There's no other reason on earth for low ratings that the - our competing cable news networks - get other than a lack of credibility."
Thirty-six years in television and still, you don't get it. You are not selling credibility. You are selling incredibility. You are telling things that aren't true to an audience that desperately needs to believe things that aren't true. Hello?
Got to admit, you are talking about sexual harassment of employees, Bill. I'm giving you credit. That is a subject on which you are an expert. Andrea Mackris.
But our winner? Penn State's venerable football coach, Joe Paterno. There has been extraordinary hand wringing over his fate in the wake of the appalling child-rape scandal inside the football he has run since 1966.
The New York Times reported today that the university is working on an exit strategy for Paterno that could play out over the next few days or weeks. It's not good enough.
One of Paterno's graduate assistants witnessed one of Paterno's most-trusted colleagues raping a 10-year-old boy in the shower of the Penn State football team headquarters. The assistant went to Paterno and Paterno went to the university athletic director. That was nine years ago. No follow-up.
Paterno may have misunderstood the severity of the crime, may have thought it was "only" molestation. But if somebody who worked for you told you that he witnessed somebody else who worked for you molesting a boy in your building, would you go to somebody else who was nominally your boss, but who, in fact, also worked for you? Or would you drag the witness to the police? Or - at least - would you check back in the next few days or months or years to find out what the hell had happened?
Joe Paterno needs to be fired as the football coach at Penn State. The athletic director, the university officials - including the president - same for them! But he made himself the only face of that program. And he failed all of the kids - the kid kids and the player kids he purported to be protecting.
No exit strategy. No weeks, no months. Don't treat Paterno the way Paterno treated the witness account of child rape. Fire him tomorrow morning! Joe Paterno - today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: First, results from Ohio and the voting there on Issue 2 - which would be the elimination of the Senate Bill 5, which essentially busts the unions in the public theater in Ohio. "No" would result in the bill - the original bill - being removed from the books and "Yes" would allow Governor Kasich and the Koch brothers to get their way. Only 2 1/2 percent - or 7 percent - now reporting - 63-37, "No" in favor. That's from the Secretary of State's website. Again, "No" is the guys you are probably rooting for. The sure sign that Ohio may be an important barometer in the nation's electoral process, $37.5 million raised inside and outside the state for that battle over that Issue 2 on today's ballot.
In our number-one story - to overwhelm you with numbers on the "Countdown" - Ohioans headed to the polls today to reject what was the centerpiece of Governor John Kasich's legislative agenda. But whatever happens, it's not a sure sign of a Democratic victory next year.
In March, Kasich signed that law curtailing union rights to collective bargaining, impacting the more than 350,000 teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public employees in Ohio. Labor groups collected more than a million signatures to force the issue onto the ballot today. They had 17,000 volunteers working on the get-out-the-vote effort.
Turns out, most of the states' voters don't just dislike Kasich's law. They dislike Kasich as well. Only 36 percent of Ohioans polled by Quinnipiac University approve of the way the governor is doing his job. The Democratic Public Policy Polling firm ranks the former investment banker and Fox fill-in host as the nation's second-least-popular sitting governor.
But when it comes to the presidential election, Ohio voters are not giving a clear thumbs-up either. Mr. Obama narrowly won that state's 20 electoral votes in 2008. Now, more voters there say the president does not deserve a second term - 49-44 percent, according to the same poll - Quinnipiac. Still, the same poll also finds the president does have the lead against each of his likely Republican rivals in 2012. He beats Romney by 4, Cain by 8, Perry by 11.
Back to today's vote. So far, it is shaping up to be a hard-bitten Election Day for at least the one Ohioan voter near Cleveland, telling an ABC News station he was bitten in the nose by a county election-day "rover" - a traveling election troubleshooter - when he stepped in to help a woman engaged in an argument over the placement of signs outside of a polling location. The rover supposedly ran away from the poll and an investigation is underway. Just another day in the colorful history of voting in Ohio.
Joining me now - Mother Jones reporter Andy Kroll, who's been watching it all from the ground in Ohio since Thursday. Thanks for being with us, Andy.
ANDY KROLL: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: All right - any indication of where this is going from the early, whopping lead by "No" over "Yes"?
KROLL: Polls going into Tuesday's election suggested a 20-point victory for unions, for those trying to repeal SB5 - Governor Kasich's bill. And you know, the votes we have seen tallied so far suggest that it's gonna be a pretty decisive victory for unions. Whether that 20-digit, 25-point lead holds or not - it looks like unions are going to get that hard-earned victory tonight.
OLBERMANN: The broader implications for the country would be - what? Is there any way of saying that, other than the fact that Wisconsin - it seemed like the left and the Democrats were caught napping, as they say, and then in Ohio, quite the contrary? The left seemed to be fully prepared for this and got the results they would - they would have hoped for?
KROLL: Yeah, Ohio is organized labor, and Democrats' last big chance in 2011 to clinch a victory. They didn't overturn Governor Walker's anti-union bill in Wisconsin. They didn't get all the wins they wanted in the Senate recall elections there - really, the first blowback to Walker's bill. But here we are in Ohio, they are on the cusp of a really big victory. And it's their last big fight of the year. So, not only does it end the year on a good note, but it also sets the stage and gives some momentum to folks back in Wisconsin, who are trying to now repeal Governor Walker, himself. So, there is a lot of momentum leaving 2011 here.
OLBERMANN: Implications for organized labor nationally? Are there any that you can discern?
KROLL: Well, their backs are against the wall. They've had, you know, some bad losses this year. Their numbers are dwindling. But I think Ohio is a really good testament to - when their rights on the line, when the matter gets really, really grave - you know, they can mobilize their folks. They can get out 17,000 volunteers. They can really, sort of, flex that grassroots muscle when their livelihood is at stake. And so, it will be an uplifting night for them if this win comes out, as it looks it's going to be.
OLBERMANN: What does it say in terms - not, necessarily, of outcome for the 2012 presidential election - but in terms of the get-out-the-vote and the grassroots movement and the organization of the left in Ohio for next year, because, as everybody knows, perhaps - they can repeat this in their sleep - Ohio has voted the winner of the last 12 presidential elections.
KROLL: Yeah, the big takeaway is enthusiasm. Enthusiasm has been, you know, off the charts - across the board, all 88 counties here in Iowa - excuse me - in Ohio. And, you know, enthusiasm is something you can't measure in polls as well - it's not data, it's not something you can calculate - but it matters. It is absolutely crucial. Enthusiasm is what won President Obama the White House in 2008. And so, you're gonna have both the organizational structures built up for this fight - Issue 2 - and you're gonna have the enthusiasm - folks just, sort of, you know, on a high after this win and, sort of rebuking a Republican governor - and that's going to carry into 2012.
Obviously, issues like the economy - unemployment's 9.1 percent here - it's still quite bad. That's gonna hang over the president, but - you know, they are going to love having people excited after a win here and they are going to, hopefully, carry that excitement into next fall.
OLBERMANN: And as you see now, with the official count at 10 percent - 63-37 "No" on the vote on Issue 2 to repeal SB5. Andy Kroll, of Mother Jones, at Columbus, Ohio for us. Great thanks for your time tonight, Andy.
KROLL: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: All right. That's "Countdown" for this 308th day since the Republicans took control of the House. Three hundred and eight days without them having passed one jobs bill of any kind. The first-ever edition of "Countdown" with a live musical performance in it.
I am Keith Olbermann. Congratulations of surviving another day of this crap. Good night and good luck.