'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, December 5th, 2011
#ShowPlug 1: Pelosi hints to our guest TPM's @BrianBeutler that she has 1000 pages of "stuff" on Newt Gingrich. He calls it "Xmas present"
#ShowPlug 2: GOP clock suggests Newt's front-running days are near end. Is it possible #RonPaul is next? Politico's @KenVogel joins me
#ShowPlug 3: Oh, irony. Zuccotti Park owners owe NYC $138k in back taxes! #OccupyRochester tries to save couple's house - they join us
#ShowPlug 4: Pres. Obama not only hits GOP hard on supporting Payroll Tax increase but uses ProLeft talking points. W/ Robert @RBReich
#ShowPlug Last: And @MaysoonZayid on the Meeting Of The Mindless as Trump + Gingrich confer on putting 13 year olds to work
watch whole playlist
#5 'Nancy Knows Newt', Brian Beutler
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#5 'Ron Paul Time?', Ken Vogel
#4 'Home Occupation',
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Hypocrisy & Taxes', Robert Reich
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#2 Worst Persons: Eric Bolling, Gov. Rick Perry, Janice Daniels
#1 'Trumping The Party', Maysoon Zayid
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Brian Beutler, Robert Reich, Maysoon Zayid, Harold Steidel, Marie Steidel, Ken Vogel
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The Nancy "Knew" Mysteries.
"One of these days, we'll have a conversation about Newt Gingrich," says former Speaker Pelosi, "I know a lot about him. I served on the investigative committee that investigated him, four of us locked in a room in an undisclosed location for a year. A thousand pages of his stuff."
Is it the beginning of the end of his brief stint as the Republican front-runner? And who is next when Gingrich falls? Ron Paul is second in the Iowa polls. Our guest, the reporter to whom Pelosi gave her tantalizing hint - Brian Beutler.
Occupy the Tax Cheats. The owners of Zuccotti Park are $139,000 behind in their New York City taxes.
Arrests continue. Nineteen in Portland. Thirty-one in D.C., for putting up a structure.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Let the world know that America arrests people who put up structures, not people who - not the ones who are kicking families out of their structure.
OLBERMANN: Payroll-tax cut expiration. Not just the president versus the Republicans but the president versus the Republicans using the talking points of the professional left.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: I know many Republicans have sworn an oath never to raise taxes as long as they live. How could it be that the only time there's a catch is when it comes to raising taxes on middle-class families?
OLBERMANN: And comedy heaven. La Donald thinks he's back in the presidential spotlight.
(Excerpt from video clip) DONALD TRUMP: I wish you would just sort of say it like it is and just - I think you'd really do better. Honestly, I actually think you'd get better ratings."
OLBERMANN: And Newt goes to New York to kiss his - ring.
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: I was delighted this morning. I suggested to Donald Trump that he adopt a program of apprentices and take on of the poorer schools in New York City and create 10 apprenticeships that would be paid for part-time work.
OLBERMANN: Great, now you got two tone-deaf, middle-aged, fat, white guys who want to be able to hire 13-year-olds as slave labor. All that and more - now on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Monday, December 5th. 337 days until the 2012 presidential election. With the shelf life of the average Republican presidential front-runner down to about three weeks and change now, Newt Gingrich may have already peaked.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - another former speaker - now Minority Leader - Nancy Pelosi, is implying to TPM's Brian Beutler that she has a thousand pages of "stuff" on Gingrich. Besides the House Ethics reprimand and the House $300,000 fine and his adultery while he was persecuting Bill Clinton for adultery and serving the divorce papers on the missus while she was undergoing chemo and his lobbying for Freddie Mac and everything else? Besides that?
Former Speaker Pelosi telling Beutler, who joins us in a moment, "One of these days we'll have a conversation about Newt Gingrich. I know a lot about him. I served on the investigative committee that investigated him - four of us locked in a room, in an undisclosed location, for a year. A thousand pages of his stuff."
After meeting with Donald Trump today, Gingrich called Pelosi's comments an early Christmas present. He added this:
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: If she's suggesting she is going to use material that she developed while she was on the Ethics Committee, that is a fundamental violation of the rules of House and I would hope that members would immediately file charges against her the second she does it.
OLBERMANN: Do you want to slip him the note that he's not in the House anymore? That probably won't be necessary. A Pelosi spokesman has told The Hill tonight, the former speaker was, "clearly referring to the extensive amount of information that is in the public record," which does not mean many Democrats would not be delighted to see Gingrich win the nomination anyway.Such as the Massachusetts congressman, Barney Frank.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARNEY FRANK: He would be a very weak candidate. He would lose heavily and a lot of Democrats would win races in which there would be a great fall-off.
OLBERMANN: He, of course, may not get that close, once more Republicans go back and see his 2007 ad about climate change, featuring Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi.
(Excerpt from video clip) NANCY PELOSI: We don't always see eye to eye, do we, Newt?
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: No, but we do agree - our country must take action to address climate change.
OLBERMANN: They don't agree on that anymore or anything else. Gingrich told the Huckabee Presidential Forum on Saturday.
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: Publicly, sitting on the couch with Nancy Pelosi is the dumbest single thing I've done in the last few years.
OLBERMANN: Maybe not. And that was before Gingrich said what he said to a CBS reporter before the Kennedy Center Honors last night.
Despite all of the disappointments - and I know how he feels - GOP voters telling the latest Gallup poll that Gingrich is an acceptable presidential nominee. At 62%, he's eight points more acceptable than Mitt Romney and 21 points better than Texas Governor Rick Perry. And, of course, we have to asterisk those - which is that those numbers looked just as good for Herman Cain at one point and Rick Perry at another. All of the candidates, of course, now hoping to get a boost from Cain's voters. Mr. Cain announcing an end to his campaign Saturday:
(Excerpt from video clip) HERMAN CAIN: I am suspending my presidential campaign because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt, caused on me and my family. Not because we are not fighters. Not because I'm not a fighter.
OLBERMANN: As the old cliché goes - he's not a fighter, he's a lover. Meantime, Congressman Ron Paul - who's not facing any ethics claims we know of, past or present - continues to move up in the Republican polls.
The latest Des Moines Register Poll putting Newt Gingrich in the lead there, with 25%. But Congressman Paul is now in second, in that state's Caucus voters, at 18% and Mitt Romney is still in third place, at 16%. Will Cain's voters help Paul close that gap? Paul thinks perhaps:
(Excerpt from video clip) RON PAUL: Obviously, they're going to go somewhere in the next week or so, that's going to happen. So, I'm optimistic that we'll pick up some votes from there.
OLBERMANN: Newt and La Donald - later. First, back to Newt and Nancy. And I'm joined, as promised, by Talking Points Memo senior congressional correspondent, Brian Beutler. Brian, thanks for your time tonight.
BRIAN BEUTLER: Thanks for having me back, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Well, there's has been a lot of coverage of that story that you did today. Nancy saying that she knows a lot about Newt Gingrich. Are we assuming she knows stuff that the rest of us don't, and they had to put that little caveat on there to tamp it down? Or what do you - what do we think has happened since you put your story out today?
BEUTLER: I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. I don't think that she was alluding - in her interview with me - that she was going to, you know, leak confidential information.
BEUTLER: To reporters but that - but that she's a student, in essence, of Newt Gingrich. She served with him for years as a senior Democrat, when he was Speaker and on the Ethics committee that investigated him in the '90s, so - so she's - she's more familiar with him than- than just about any senior Democrat in Washington, let alone, you know, a twentysomething or thirtysomething opposition researcher for a campaign, so, she - she's been through the thousands of pages of publicly-available Ethics committee documents and she remembers the goodies. So, they're there. She just happens to know them better than most people.
OLBERMANN: So, your impression, in talking - talking to her about this was that it was more along the lines of the way Barney Frank's - Barney Frank has repeatedly and enthusiastically discussed the possibility of a Gingrich nomination, as in saying he didn't think he'd led a good enough life to have lived to see a Newt Gingrich nomination?
BEUTLER: I think that's and right and, you know, one of the things Pelosi said in our interview was - I mean, one of the things she did in our interview - was to quote Barney Frank, who said, you know, "I never thought I'd be - live so lucky a life as to see Newt Gingrich be nominated to run for - for the president as a Republican."
And I think that that's - I think that's what she meant - just, like, I - I will - "in case any of you guys have forgotten about all of the stuff that went on, because there was so much of it, there - there are a lot of good pearls still - still buried in there."
OLBERMANN: But - but, I thought Gingrich's response to this was fascinating in it - in almost - it was almost more serious than what - what the minority leader said, in the tone she used, because he - I mean, he - whatever the bait was or - even if it wasn't bait but it - something that appeared in the water - he rose to it and - and used - he took out that holier-than-thou attitude that he used to use when he was Speaker and the - we heard the clip, there, telling Pelosi that if she used the material from the 1999 ethics investigation, she would be in "fundamental violation of the rules of the House." Are we to also infer from this that he suspects that there might be more in that House record than in the public record?
BEUTLER: Yeah. I think that that was the - unintentionally revealing part of what he said. You know, I think the flip side of that is that his, sort of, combative attitude towards Pelosi and Democrats, who - who, you know, are hinting that he'd be a terrible - terrible nominee and that there's just too much dirt on him for him to be viable - the fact that he's willing to, sort of, take them on in the press appeals to a lot of GOP base voters, so they may miss that, sort of, - you know, what you - what you just alluded to - that hint, that she might actually have some goodies that she can - that nobody else has ever seen, that she could in, you know, in theory draw upon. They may have missed that and - and just, you know, respect the fact that he's - he's out there, you know, fighting back and taking Pelosi head on.
OLBERMANN: But just - just limiting it to what we know on - on the record, Gingrich still was insisting that the House Ethics committee acted - the word he used was "capriciously" - against him and the process was tainted. I mean, we're talking about - as The Washington Post had reported - the GOP House voted 395-28 to reprimand him and to fine him this unprecedented amount of $300,000 and - and he admitted at the time that he broke House rules and violated federal tax laws on two different projects and he gave false information to the Ethics committee. So exactly - exactly what was the capriciousness and - how was the process tainted and - that line that was once used about the Murdoch people - does Newt know that we can see him?
BEUTLER: I think - a colleague of mine on Twitter made a joke the other day, or made an observation the other day, that Newt Gingrich is running the sort of candidacy that you might - you might've been able to get away with running before reporters had, you know, handheld devices that gave them instant access to Google.
He - you know, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, you might be able to say that and it would be three days and much confusion later before there was any fact checking of it and it'd be water under the bridge. Now, he says that and the - you know, that Washington Post article is right there. And - and, you know, so are - so are dozens of Republican members of the House, still around or former members of the House who can say why they voted to - to reprimand him. So, you know, it's punchy of him to say that but he's - he's not going to be able to get away with that for very long.
OLBERMANN: And, of course, you're leaving out what you've already encountered today - which is the considerable and underrated memory and political acumen of Nancy Pelosi.
Brian Beutler, senior congressional correspondent for Talking Points Memo. Good work on that story and again, great thanks for sharing some of it with us tonight.
BEUTLER: Thanks so much, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The history of 2011, of course, seems to divide equally into two parts: those times when the Republican front leader has just fallen and those times when he's about to fall. Romney, vaguely, over the summer, then it was Bachmann, then it was Perry, then it was Cain. It's Gingrich now. So, that begs the question - who's next? Ron Paul?
We'll ask Ken Vogel, chief investigative reporter with Politico. Good evening, Ken.
KEN VOGEL: Hey, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right, I posited Congressman Paul obviously, 'cause of the Des Moines Register Poll, which has Gingrich 25, Paul 18, Romney 16. Is it, in fact, Paul now in the - you know, always-filled, GOP on-deck circle?
VOGEL: Well, as Paul would say, it's not just his moment, it's been his decade. That's sort of the self-braggadocious thing that he said on Sunday when asked about his surge in the polls in Iowa.
And while I don't think I would go quite that far, you could definitely make the case that Ron Paul - perhaps more than any other - any of the other candidates in this race - has influenced this race and the positions taken in this race and the focus of this race through his - his, just, unswerving focus on fiscal issues and his hardcore libertarianism over the course of his career in Congress.
In many ways, you could argue that he not only fathered the tea party but he has at least influenced the initial stages of this race, to the point where you have other candidates talking about abolishing departments of the agencies - cabinet-level agencies of the United States government - even if they can't remember quite as many as Ron Paul can remember. And there's definitely the possibility that he could finish in the top three in Iowa, and that would really shake up the race.
OLBERMANN: Does he, however, fit the profile of - in terms of the culture wars and the - and the so-called societal issues that really have fueled so many - so many - such a large percentage of previous Republican front-runners?
VOGEL: No, not at all. And for that reason, he probably has a hard cap on how far he can go. He's not going to win the nomination but he could really - he could really stir things up. And more than that, he could potentially cause some trouble as a third-party candidate.
We saw, in 2008, when he ran and really generated this enthusiasm on the - the fiscal right of the - of the Republican Party and got a lot of young people involved for the first time - when the possibility was raised of him running as a Libertarian, he kind of begged off. This time, I don't think he has as much to lose. He's getting up there in age. He's probably not gonna run for President again in four years and so, I think that the possibility of running as a third-party candidate - perhaps as Libertarian - could be tempting for him. And if he does, it will be a serious problem for Republicans.
OLBERMANN: All right. But let's say he doesn't have to go that route and, the - and, you know, Gingrich falls, as we suspect he might, and Ron Paul is the guy who moves in there - and for some reason, the - the majority of those voters in the caucuses and in the - and in the early primaries likes him and he's in contention - is there the proverbial path to the nomination for him if he wins Iowa? Does he then have a shot in New Hampshire? Or where does he stand - South Carolina, Florida and the other places, moving forward?
VOGEL: New Hampshire possibly. If he pulled off a shocker in Iowa - and make no mistake about it, it would be a shocker even though he is - he is really made headway there and has more of an organization than he did in 2008, when he finished in fifth place, with 10% of the vote there - it would be a shocker if he won Iowa. If that happened - conceivably, yeah, he might have a chance in New Hampshire.
It gets a lot harder for him after that. Once you get into the states where, as you mentioned, there's a greater focus on - on social issues, as opposed to fiscal, more-Libertarian portfolio issues. I - I just don't see him having a path to the nomination.
OLBERMANN: All right, we should probably work off the assumption that Gingrich is not going to last but he, - you know, for all we know, he's pre-scandaled, he's pre-disastered, like the - the infamous house in the - "The World According to Garp" movie that they buy after the plane flies into it. But - but if Gingrich falls and there it isn't Ron Paul - or it's only Ron Paul temporarily - Rick Santorum seems to think it's going to be Rick Santorum. He seems to think he's going to win Iowa. Is that crazy or is it plausible in a very crazy, heavy Republican nominating process so far?
VOGEL: He could definitely get a bump and we could see a peak for him. I don't think he'll win Iowa. I think, possibly, Rick Perry might even have more of a chance of it. He's still languishing in the single digits in the polls, there. But if he were to somehow be able to get a bump at the right time and win Iowa, then I think he could have more of a chance of fighting it out with Mitt Romney in a prolonged Republican primary - along the lines of what we saw on the Democratic side in 2008 between then Senators Obama and Clinton.
I don't necessarily think that Newt Gingrich would be well-suited for such a long primary, because he simply doesn't have the infrastructure. Ron Paul, ditto. Rick Santorum, same thing. I really think that if Romney is able pull away in Iowa and New Hampshire, then it's - it's his for the taking. If not, then perhaps Newt Gingrich - if the stars align for him - has a chance. Perry, maybe less so. But I think the stars are starting to align for Mitt Romney, here.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, but if you've - if there've been four lead changes and you're still third place, you can - you might have 44 lead changes and still be stuck in third place. Well, we'll see if - if Mr. Romney has more to him in the future.
Ken Vogel of Politico, as ever, kind enough to give some of us - his time this evening. Thank you, as always, Ken.
VOGEL: My pleasure, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We did not gloss over Gingrich's meeting of the egos with Donald Trump today, I New York. Maysoon Zayid joins me later in the news hour to rubberneck at that car wreck.
But first, it's Occupy and the irony of the unpaid taxes by the owners of Zuccotti Park. Plus, Occupy trying to save the home of a victimized family in upstate New York.
Those stories next. This is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Oh, irony. That job-creating, responsible corporate citizen, for which the city of New York trampled the protest rights of its citizens - the owners of Zuccotti Park. They're $138,000 behind in their city taxes.
The president turns to an unlikely source for ammunition, as he takes on the Republicans' willingness to raise taxes on the middle class - left-wing bloggers and activists.
He didn't know when the election was, when the inauguration was or how old you had to be to vote. Now, it turns out, he also doesn't know what an executive order does.
And how much tone deaf can you get in one room? Gingrich and Trump meet and Gingrich comes away talking about - again - repealing the laws so poor, 13-year-old kids can be out to work.
OLBERMANN: The Occupy movement, now not only protesting Wall Street fraud but also fighting for people harmed by that fraud - going head to head with banks to keep people on the brink of foreclosure in their homes. One family, now taking on Wells Fargo with the help of Occupy protesters, will join me in a moment.
In our fourth story tonight - while that is going on, the remarkable news that the owners of Zuccotti Park, those job creators, suffering under the protesters' yoke, are about $139,000 behind in their New York City taxes.
First, Occupy politics. House Minority Leader Pelosi also saying today - in addition to her comments to Beutler - that her party is benefiting from the movement, telling Talking Points Memo, "We have work to do. We think that important - we think that important to that is enhanced by the - what's happening in the Occupy movement, which is the 99 and 1 percent. They really emblazoned that in the minds of American people. That's what we dedicated our live to, but they gave it that clarity."
On the other end of the political spectrum, the libertarian Ron Paul, also with kind words:
(Excerpt from video clip) RON PAUL: In many ways, it's a very healthy movement. So I'm not likely to be the one to say 'Well, why don't you get a bath and go get a job and quit crybaby-ing. I don't like that at all.
OLBERMANN: It's "play" - Occupy - (LIGHTS IN THE STUDIO DIM UNEXPECTEDLY) Well, all right, we knew that was gonna happen too. Should we just wait to a light to come on from any direction? Thank you.
Occupy D.C. protesters demonstrating that they plan to keep the pressure on, building a large wooden structure there this weekend, to protect protesters from the cold. Police breaking up the protest and the structure last night. They arrested 31.
Meantime, protesters in Colorado also coming up with new strategies for battling the elements. As temperatures dip into the single digits, Occupiers vowing to stay put:
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: You know, we have a lot of our 24/7 Occupiers getting creative and they've actually created what's called the - the "Colorado Hot Pocket." And it's a way to stay insulated with - with tarps and sleeping bags and doing whatever we can to - to stay warm out here.
OLBERMANN: In New York City, where much has been made of the tax dollars spent on police overtime, it turns out the owner of Zuccotti Park, Brookfield Properties, is about $139,000 in arrears in the taxes it owes this city. Thank goodness they're not free loaders like those Occupy beatniks.
From the birthplace of the movement to its next phase. Tomorrow, across the country, plans for a day of action called "Occupy Our Homes." The protests aiming to help victims of the foreclosure crisis, like Rochester residents Harold and Maria Steidel, who will join me in a moment.
The Steidels, along with 100 other people, protested outside Wells Fargo, asking that bank to allow the family to stay in their home. Wells Fargo and mortgage giant Freddie Mac did give them a 30-day extension but they're fighting to keep their home.
OLBERMANN: Here we are, now, with Harold and Maria Steidel, who have been fighting that foreclosure, and we thank you kindly for your time tonight.
HAROLD STEIDEL: Thank you for having us.
OLBERMANN: Where do you stand - things stand right now, Mr. Steidel?
HAROLD STEIDEL: A 30-day stay, what they're telling us right now - they came back with numbers but the numbers are in six figures now.
OLBERMANN: Oh, Lord.
HAROLD STEIDEL: Exactly.
OLBERMANN: You have worked all your life. You've provided for your family. How did it get to this place where - where you were drawn into foreclosure?
HAROLD: In 2008, when I lost my job, I tried to keep up with the payments. Eventually, I was unable to keep up with the payments. We made a phone call to the bank. They told us, "Okay, we'll work on a modification." Still waiting for a modification. They tell us that we didn't qualify. They're gonna try something else. They asked for monies. We sent them they monies that they asked us for. We believed in them and you can see that we're here - they got bailed out and we got kicked out.
OLBERMANN: Exactly. Mrs. Steidel, why did you get involved with the Occupy Rochester people about this and - and what did they do?
MARIA STEIDEL: I got involved because I saw another case in TV which - they was helping another family to keep their home. We contact the news and they give us the number of Mr. Ryan -
HAROLD: Take Back the Land, Occupy Rochester.
MARIA: From Take - Take Back the Land and Occupy Rochester. And we got in touch with him and that's how we get involved with these people, which we really appreciate everything that they have done for us. They've been very supportive. They've been helping us to fight back with the bank, against the bank and Well Fargo, Freddie Mac and also, Steven J. Baum firm in Buffalo, New York.
OLBERMANN: And, obviously, you knew about Occupy from what you saw on TV. Apart from the help that they've been and tried to - tried to provide to you, Mrs. Seidel, what do you think of them?
MARIA: What compartment?
OLBERMANN: What do you think - I mean, the - what - the - the - thing that they represent, what they're trying to achieve, what the protesters are trying to achieve?
MARIA: What they trying to do is to prevent the bank to get - to evict us from the house. Actually, they was getting ready to evict us from the house and Occupy Rochester was ready to protest in front of my house and do a chain - human chain in front of the house, to prevent that the bank comes over and police and whatever to take us out of the house. Hopefully, they stop the eviction because they knew about this plan that we have. So, they better prefer to just go back to the table and try to negotiate with us. But we're still waiting for negotiations.
OLBERMANN: Extraordinary. Mr. Seidel, I understand you also got involved with Representative Slaughter - Congresswoman Slaughter, who's one of our frequent guests here and one of my favorite people in - in government. Has she been of help to you?
HAROLD: At this time, it's with the O.C.C. that we made a complaint. I have contacted her office in Niagara Falls and we've just gotten a letter affirming that she knows about it but we have not talked directly with her yet.
OLBERMANN: Okay. Do you - do you think that while we've talked about - I mean, you said at the beginning that the banks got bailed out and you are getting kicked out. Do you think that there is any part of government that has done its job to try to protect people who are in situations like yours?
HAROLD: In all fairness, I don't know, Keith. I - I just believe that there are so many people out there in the same situation as we are. Some of us are unable to pay and I understand that. But those, as ourselves - we have the income now and we have - that we have to pay it. We're just asking that - we want to negotiate, we've been willing and able to pay and we want to negotiate in good faith with them. I don't believe that going from five figures to six figures now, and having this attorney who represents or who has represented Freddie Mac and the bank -
MARIA: Wells Fargo.
HAROLD: I find that a conflict of interest. And in regards, at the last minute, when the house was taken over in June of 2010, we had a person representing Freddie Mac said "You got 72 hours to turn in some paperwork." We turned in the paperwork to Titanium and we never got a response. Our attorney talked with them, said the same thing. "Okay, well wait. It's in the process."
As of last week, I talked with somebody in - in Freddie Mac. "Oh, sorry, they no longer represent us and their paperwork is now in our office." Well, and then they tell me that I got denied. And I said, "Well," I say, "How did I get denied?" "We can't tell you." And then, there's no paperwork that I have documentation to, showing that I got denied. It's like one hand doesn't know what the other hand is doing. But foreclosure continues.
OLBERMANN: Right. The only thing they're good at is - is trying to kick you out because somebody's making - making an extra $30 because they managed to kick you out.
HAROLD: I agree with you, one hundred percent, yes.
OLBERMANN: Well, Harold and Maria Steidel of Rochester. I know it doesn't help that - that you're far from the only family going through this, but I hope it helps a little bit that there are people out there you don't know who are pulling for you. So, we wish you the best and we thank you for some of your time tonight. And good luck.
HAROLD: Thank you, sir. And we hope that everybody in America, also, that is going through this, that they stand up like we've standing up now.
HAROLD: Thank you for your time, sir.
MARIA: We're gonna fight to the end.
OLBERMANN: All the best.
HAROLD: Thank you, sir.
MARIA: Thank you.
HAROLD: You have a nice evening.
OLBERMANN: All right, can't remember the last time this happened. The president not only goes after the Republicans on taxes but uses the very same arguments made on the left-wing websites. Coincidence, no doubt. Ahead.
OLBERMANN: It's like television was before we had electricity. Thank about it. The President hits the Republicans for breaking their pledge to not raise taxes. Next.
First, the "Sanity Break," much needed tonight. And on this date in 1974, days after their first episode was shown in this country on PBS, "Monty Python's Flying Circus" telecast its last original episode in Great Britain. The five remaining Pythons - John Cleese did not appear in the last of the six - series of six shows - finished up with a sketch of reporters throwing to each other in rapid fashion until they got back to Eric Idle in the studio. And thus, the last new words of the landmark series still shown around the world, 38 years later were "Welcome Back."
"Time Marches On!"
You all can still see me, right?
VIDEO: Puppy plays dead.
We begin with a dog who takes playing dead to a whole new level. Not this - the one standing there, he's just the extra. Here's the real thespian, running through. Some roughhousing with the other dog and then the tragic bite. Scene!
Move over Rin Tin Tin, this is an Oscar-worthy performance. Very convincing. He looks so - so dead, that passersby mistook him for the Michele Bachmann campaign.
VIDEO: Airline workers line dance at O'Hare Airport.
To the world of aviation. And if you've ever wondered why your flight is delayed - that's right, it's exactly what you thought. All of the airline workers were down on the tarmac, line dancing.
A traveler at O'Hare in Chicago captured this footage last week of airline employees apparently shooting a commercial. For God sakes, tell me they're shooting a commercial. He had plenty of time to film it since it caused his flight to be delayed, he said, by two hours.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we're being held here momentarily while the baggage handlers complete a quick two-step routine. Standby."
VIDEO: Upper Canada Village Christmas-light spectacular.
Finally, let's check in with our neighbors to the North. And with Christmas only a few weeks away, Ontario's Upper Canada Village has their epic Christmas lights display up and ready to go. That's what we need in here!
With thousands of bulbs perfectly choreographed to Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Carol of the Bells," the display thrilled and entertained everyone who lived through it.
Your move, Clark Griswald.
"Time Marches On!"
Can a Mayor be thrown out of office for a homophobic Facebook post six months after she posted it? And a month after she was elected? They're gonna find out in Michigan - and in "Worst Persons."
OLBERMANN: Dumont's new kids program "Small Fry Club" will not be seen tonight, 'cause it's too dark. No, so we can instead bring you "Countdown," the longest continuously-running 8:00 PM news hour on cable, if we make it to 9:00, unless you consider Fox - "news." We're live each night at 8:00 Eastern. We call it "our little leadership team."
Eleven months 'til the election and the president is suddenly using the talking points of the professional left. In our third story on the "Countdown" - Republicans take a hypocritical stance on extending the payroll-tax cut and President Obama calls them out the way liberals did last week.
Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid outlined the latest proposal to extend the payroll-tax cut before it expires at the end of the year, part of the ongoing struggle between congressional Republicans and Democrats to agree on an economic-growth plan. The White House says taxes on the average American family would increase by a thousand dollars if Congress does not extend that cut.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: Now, I know many Republicans have sworn an oath never to raise taxes as long as they live. How could it be that the only time there's a catch is when it comes to raising taxes on middle-class families? How can you fight tooth and nail to protect high-end tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, and yet barely lift a finger to prevent taxes going up for 160 million Americans who really need the help? It doesn't make sense.
OLBERMANN: The problem for some Republicans, something else new to their playbook - paying for the tax cut. Republican Senator Tom Coburn spoke yesterday:
(Excerpt from video clip) TOM COBURN: Where is the backbone in Washington to actually pay for these extensions in the year in which the money's spent?
OLBERMANN: As liberal publications and blogs screamed last week, this tax cut is the first one the Republicans have ever believed needed to be paid for.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: They haven't always felt that way. Over the last decade, they didn't feel the need to pay for massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans - which is one of the reasons that we face such large deficits. So, forgive me a little bit of confusion when I hear folks insisting on tax cuts being paid for.
OLBERMANN: Case in point - top GOPers over the past year and a half, speaking about tax cuts. Here goes -
(Excerpt from video clip) MITCH McCONNELL: Why did it all of a sudden become something that we, "paid for."
(Excerpt from video clip) JON KYL: You should never have to offset cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans.
OLBERMANN: Sometimes never doesn't mean "ever."
Joining me now - Robert Reich, Labor Secretary in the Clinton Administration, Professor at UC Berkeley and author of "Aftershock:The Next Economy and America's Future." Thank you for your time again tonight, sir.
ROBERT REICH: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: What's the most interesting part of this - that the - that the president pointed out the Republican hypocrisy in - in, kind of, bold terms or that he said today what many of those on the left - that he once derided - said a week ago?
REICH: Well, I - they're both sort of interesting, Keith but I think that the most important point is that the president is pointing out very, very, very clearly - for the entire country to understand - the two pieces of hypocrisy here.
Number one, that the Republicans don't want to raise taxes on the rich, but that may require and mean that taxes are going to be raised on almost everybody else.
But number two, that - suddenly - they are, sort of, born again, "Oh, you've got to pay for tax cuts. Tax cuts don't pay for themselves." When, for years, they have been saying just the reverse, that tax cuts will pay for themselves. And they - they can't have it both ways. And I think the president, finally, is stepping up to the plate. Well, he's done it before but I think he's doing a little more boldly this time and saying "This is hypocrisy, folks."
OLBERMANN: But, as you say, you can't have it both ways. But, of course, being - the essence of being a Republican, especially when it comes to the economy, is having it both ways. Do you - to your knowledge, has anybody pinned one of them down on this sudden need to pay for a tax cut? Do they even have - whether or not it has any plausibility - to have any excuse, whatsoever for this disconnect?
REICH: I don't - I have not - I have not seen a single interview - maybe that's because they've been avoiding this kind of interview - in which somebody asks them very directly, very specifically, "Why do you have to pay for this tax cut when, in fact, the Bush tax cuts - the huge tax cuts, most of which - the benefits of which went to the very wealthy - nobody talked about having to pay for?" In fact, the Republicans said, "You don't have to pay for them." Maybe that's because Fox News is where most of them appear and Fox News is not gonna ask them that particular question. Could that be, Keith?
OLBERMANN: I would vote yes. Same sort of question. Has anybody - to your knowledge -- pinned a Republican down on the hypocrisy of - of so adhering to that Norquist-ian anti-tax-increase pledge that many of them went right off the political cliff in their own - in their own areas, but being adamant about this tax increase that is letting the payroll-tax cut expire? I mean, I know Norquist absolved them last week. Is that the excuse, that - "Oh, Norquist said this is not a tax increase, therefore, we don't have to call it one"?
REICH: Well, I think it's becoming increasingly difficult for a lot of Republicans to essentially say, "Look at, I'm not really - my hands are not really tied. I'm not really pledged to Grover Norquist, but - sotto voce, to the Republican right - "Oh, yes, I am pledged to Grover Norquist and I won't really do anything that makes Grover Norquist think that I have avoided the pledge."
You know, Americans don't want to vote for people - Republicans in Congress or the Senate or any kind of Republican for president, for that matter - who is pledged to somebody else. I mean, Americans want people who are pledged to them, as Americans. And so it's becoming - this whole Norquist pledge is becoming - increasingly difficult, and you do hear Republicans get more and more defensive about this.
OLBERMANN: Understandably. Practically speaking, this - this cut affects middle class and people below the middle class. What happens to the economy - and these little tendrils of recovery that we've seen - in the last few months - if this thing expires?
REICH: Well, you've got two things going on right now. They're built-in and we all have, at least over the past year, enjoyed them and expected them. One is this - payroll-tax cut and, Keith, you know - 80 percent of Americans pay more in payroll taxes than they do in income taxes. So this is a big deal and a thousand dollars on average, per family or - for worker, for that matter - is a big deal for most families.
The second is the extended unemployment benefits and - given how many people are actually still unemployed in this economy - that's important, puts money in their pockets. They can turn around and buy things and that creates jobs, or at least keeps - keeps people in jobs. If the Republicans have their way and neither of these is extended - neither the payroll tax nor the extended unemployment benefits - then it will be a tremendous fiscal drag on the economy and that means increasing the chances of recession, particularly with these headwinds, as they like to say, coming from Europe, with - the European debt crisis. You don't want to do this. I mean, this is - this is insane.
OLBERMANN: Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, author of "Aftershock." As always, we thank you kindly for some of your time tonight.
REICH: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich disprove the theory that you can't grow - go through life fat, drunk and stupid. Ahead.
OLBERMANN: The pastiest Republican meets the only one of them more orange than John Boehner. Trump, Gingrich - 500 pounds of ego in a couple of 200-pound suits.
And why did Troy, Michigan elect a woman who had posted a blatantly homophobic remark on her Facebook page before the election? Because, evidently, nobody noticed! "Worst Persons," ahead.
OLBERMANN: Trump and Gingrich partner to find a way to let Trump hire kids as "Apprenti." Next.
First, because - despite appearances - not all the stupid people were in one cheesy, gold-covered, tasteless office building today in New York - here are "Countdown"'s top-three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze? To Eric Bolling, who is evidently a host on the Fox Business Channel, an offshoot of the political whorehouse that is Fox News. And I say "evidently" because Fox averages 10,000 demo viewers, so it's difficult to tell who is a host and who is a viewer. But Mr. Bolling, who has a long-standing reputation as a racist and a nut job, has unveiled a new target - the Muppets.
In a new film, an executive has discovered oil under the Muppets' theater, he wants to tear it down to tap the source, so Bolling says, "Liberal Hollywood depicting a successful businessman as evil? That's not new. Is liberal Hollywood using class warfare to brainwash our kids? Is there any Occupy Wall Street Muppets?" - he said that, "is there." - "When I was a little kid, we were poor - we were dead broke, in fact - and my parents would see someone wealthy driving by, would be like, 'See that guy? He started a business, he worked hard, you can be like that some day.'"
So, Mr. Bolling - what happened? You're not a success. You work for Fox.
The runner-up? Governor Rick Perry. His presidential candidacy is dead but he hasn't figured out how to have it go lie down yet. He may not have even noticed that he got his clock cleaned at a Republican candidates' forum over the weekend by none other than Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, widely considered the state attorney general with the absolute least grasp of the law and the rabid leader of those attorneys general who are trying to override health-care reform.
(Excerpt from video clip) KEN CUCCINELLI: You've said, if elected, you'd issue an executive order to block the implementation of the federal health-care law. What is your authority to unilaterally invalidate a law passed by Congress and signed by the president?
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK PERRY: Well, obvious -
(Excerpt from video clip) CUCCINELLI: As a president, it sounds like you're ready to simply use an executive order to effectively void this law or - or large parts of it that you don't agree with.
(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: Absolutely. And I think that -
(Excerpt from video clip) CUCCINELLI: What is your authority for that?
(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: Well, the executive order obviously gives you that authority but also - as I said earlier - having men and women in those agencies that are going to share your philosophy -
(Excerpt from video clip) CUCCINELLI: You are taking the position that you can stop the implementation of a law passed by Congress, signed by the president, with an executive order?
OLBERMANN: But the week before Perry said that, the GAO confirmed that an executive order can alter regulations - certain regulations, anyway - but a president cannot simply overrule a law passed by Congress and signed by another President. In other words, Ken Cuccinelli - wide-eyed, anti-Obama zealot - knows more about how you can't repeal health-care reform than does Rick Perry.
But for our winner? We go local. Janice Daniels, the mayor of Troy, Michigan. How does this work, so often in our country? You find a town with 20,000 people in it or 40,000 people, or - in Troy's case - 80,000 and they've managed to elect the biggest moron in the town? The answer is - nobody pays attention.
Last June, after the same-sex marriage law passed the New York legislature, a woman named Janice Daniels posted the following onto her Facebook page: "I think - I think I am going to throw away my 'Love New York' carrying bag now that queers can get married there." Last month, Daniels was elected mayor. Last week, somebody found the quote on the Facebook page.
When asked if she had really posted that and left it there through the campaign, Mayor Daniels said "I may have said something like that." The closest she's gotten to an apology is to add, she "probably shouldn't have used that language." Her odds of completing two months in office are declining. Tonight, citizens are gathering outside City Hall to protest the mayor's remarks and the idea that the mayor can, you know, continue in office.
Mayor Janice Daniels of Troy - by the way, the feeling in New York is mutual - today's "Worst Person in the World."
I don't wanna take any chances of breaking anything, so I'm just gonna put this down here, like that.
MAYSOON ZAYID: See, now this is fun.
OLBERMANN: In a meeting of leaders, Donald Trump and Newt - no, that doesn't work. In a meeting of minds, Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich - no, that doesn't really work either. That - okay, wait, I got it. In a meeting of arrogant, out-of-touch, egomaniacs, Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich today - somehow fit into the same room. This morning, La Donald appeared on three - roll the tape any time - three separate networks about the debate that he's going to moderate and, by the way, he just happens to have a book coming out, as well - or at the same time as the debate. But one appearance trumped all the others. That's a pun. After berating the host, he went into full slander mode - mocking the religion of one GOP candidate, while subtly slipping in more birther attacks against the president.
(Excerpt from audio clip) DONALD TRUMP: Let me just first start by saying that - I was watching the show for about two minutes and you said "Donald Trump wanted to respond to a poll." Well, I didn't even know what poll you're talking about, number one, Chuck. Number two, I didn't call you, you called me about 40 times -
CHUCK TODD: Yes, I did. After -
(Excerpt from audio clip) TRUMP: Trying to get me on the show.
(Excerpt from video clip) TODD: Yeah.
(Excerpt from audio clip) TRUMP: I didn't call you. So you're statement is false. You said "Donald Trump wanted to respond." I didn't want to respond. I'm doing NBC a favor by going onto your show. ... I know about polls. I know a lot about polls. I studied polls at the Wharton School of Finance... I wish you would just be straight, Chuck, because honestly, I think you'd do a lot better if you were straight.
(Excerpt from video clip) TODD: Well, I - I'm not interested in debating you. I want to ask you about your debate.
(Excerpt from audio clip) TRUMP: Well, that's fine but you gotta tell the truth, Chuck.
(Excerpt from video clip) TODD: Let me ask you about your debate.
(Excerpt from audio clip) TRUMP: Hey Chuck, you have to tell the truth. By the way, Mr. Huntsman called my office a number of times, trying to set up a meeting. I didn't have a meeting with him. And then he went on the debate and he said, "I didn't meet with Mr. Trump like everybody else in the room." So, you know, I'm sure he'll tell the truth about that because he's a Mormon ...
Whether or not he was born here, you know, to me it means something but I guess it doesn't mean a lot to a lot of people - but to me, it happens to mean something. The fact that they can't find any records in the hospital that his mother was ever in the hospital. You know, that, to me, means something but a lot of people don't care.
OLBERMANN: Oh, that was the beginning of a busy morning for Trump, as he also met with Newt Gingrich today. The big topic was Newt's plan for putting children to work - polishing Trump's head. Apparently this struck a personal chord with Trump.
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: I was delighted this morning. I suggested to Donald Trump that he adopt a program of apprentices and take one of the poorer schools in New York City and create ten apprenticeships that would be paid for part-time work. And he liked the idea a lot. He understood exactly the idea I was getting at. Fit his own past, his own childhood and his own experiences.
OLBERMANN: Yes, forcing children as young as 13 from poor neighborhoods to work is exactly like working part time for your father's multi-million dollar real estate company. The means, by which you became a very rich man. By, you know, having a father who was very, very, very rich man. At this point, let's turn to comedian and "Countdown" contributor, Maysoon Zayid. Thanks for your time tonight and welcome to the cave.
MAYSOON ZAYID: It's great to be here.
OLBERMANN: Thank you. I'm glad you're enjoying it. The - the headline here clearly is - the stuff that they spray paint onto Trump to make him look that color. Every day - he's supposed to come out looking like the poor girl - the victim in the Bond movie, "Goldfinger," where he's just ... They mixed it improperly today. What - was he actually this sort of sparkly lemon shade today, or was that just standing next to the pastiness of Newt Gingrich made him look that way?
ZAYID: I believe the color that you're looking for there - chartreuse.
ZAYID: He was chartreuse. And I think that Newt Gingrich stole his hair from the Lego man.
ZAYID: 'Cause he's had the same - my question's less about the hair a lot more about, like, when did it become mandatory that Trump pop your cherry in order for you to be a GOP candidate? When was this written in the bylaws? Is this - like Skull-and-Bones type of thing? They're going to pizza, they're going to Tiffany's, they're - what is this? When did he become kingmaker? When?
OLBERMANN: Maybe he's the one giving them all the money this year. That's the only thing I can think of.
ZAYID: He doesn't have any money. He filed for bankruptcy, like, 13 different times.
OLBERMANN: Well - yeah, that means - that means the people who work for you don't get their money.
ZAYID: Oh, I see - the Apprenti.
OLBERMANN: Also, the Apprenti. You save a lot of money if you're Donald Trump and all of your employees become 13-year-old children. This has not been a popular idea - child labor - since Dickens. Gingrich has now hit this thing three times in two weeks. I'm thinking that he's slightly disconnected from American society or I - tell me I'm wrong.
ZAYID: No, I - I feel like you're right. And I feel like the solution here is - we have Gingrich and Trump go clean the bathrooms that he wants poor children to clean in their own schools. Have those two guys clean bathrooms because I do not understand how he is getting paid $60,000 to talk about anything. This man should be totally irrelevant. The only use that society has for him is to clean bathrooms.
OLBERMANN: And possibly - if you just use either one of them, their hair would make a very effective brush, if you held them by their legs. What - do we have any idea what else they talked about, besides putting young people who should be in school to work?
ZAYID: I have a couple of ideas. I mean, obviously they talked about Tiffany's, because Trump has a daughter named Tiffany. Gingrich is addicted to Tiffany's. They like child labor, so they like the whole blood-diamond thing Maybe spotlight on that. They could have possibly discussed his 84 ethics charges.
ZAYID: Because that's a lot to talk about - or maybe they talked about that fun little story where he bounced a check to the IRS.
OLBERMANN: Oh, yes. Aw, memories.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, I think Barney Frank's right. I think he'd make a hell of a nominee if you're a Democrat.
"Countdown" contributor, Maysoon Zayid. As ever, great thanks for - for some of your time tonight and, if you have any candles, just - leave them on the way out. We have to back things up -
ZAYID: I'm not allowed to touch candles, Keith. Very dangerous.
OLBERMANN: So, so - like, what - what is that gonna do here? All right.
ZAYID: That's true.
OLBERMANN: Good to see you, dear.
ZAYID: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: All right, that's "Countdown" for this, the 331st day since John Boehner and the Republicans took the House. Thus, 331 days in which the Republicans still haven't passed a jobs bill of any kind.
I'm Keith Olbermann. Congrats on getting through another day of this crap. Good night, and good luck.