'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
#ShowPlug 1: "Occupy Our Homes" same day as Pres. Obama's Occupy-Style speech in Kansas, and an MLK veteran at #OccupyAtlanta
#ShowPlug 2: I'm joined by Rev. Joseph Lowery of @OWSAtlanta and NYC Councilman @Ydanis Rodriguez on NY reversal on millionaires tax
#ShowPlug 3: @RBReich on POTUS speech; Newt Gingrich at 37% support in Gallup, now kissing Trump's ass, was dissing it in 1989;
#ShowPlug Last: And Michele Bachmann gets Pwned by an 8-year old kid. @PattonOswalt on another wacky GOP day
watch whole playlist
#5 'Occupy Our Home', Rev. Joseph Lowery
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#5 'Tax The Rich', Ydanis Rodriguez
#4 'Echoing Occupy', Robert Reich
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Newt And Improved', Nia-Malika Henderson
#2 Worst Persons: David Crocker, Newt Gingrich, Gov. Scott Walker
#1 'The Kids Are All Right', Patton Oswalt
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Joseph Lowery, Patton Oswalt, Ydanis Rodriguez, Nia-Malika Henderson, Robert Reich
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Occupy Our Homes.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: We are the 99 percent! We are the 99 percent!
OLBERMANN: The protest against predatory lending and indifferent government and - what the hell - also against deadbeat-dad congressmen, like Joe Walsh.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Not a great time for the Congressman, he's tied up for a little bit. Would be better probably in the afternoon or you could talk to me. What would work better for you guys?
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Well, we'd like to speak with him so we could wait.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: All right, do you wanna try to swing by in the afternoon?
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: I think we'll stay.
OLBERMANN: An Occupy victory? New York's governor reverses on taxing the rich, to give a tax break to the middle class.
Occupy Atlanta hears a hero. The Reverend Joseph Lowery addresses them - joins us.
Occupy - the president's Kansas speech.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules. These aren't Democratic values or Republican values. These aren't one percent values or 99 percent values. They're American values, and we have to reclaim them.
OLBERMANN: Obama at Osawatomie. Osawatomie? Wassamatta U? New polls.
Gingrich up by 15 on Romney, at 37 percent, highest in the GOP this year. Thus a hint at a dark-horse candidate. Seriously.
Any idea what Rick Santorum meant when he said, "Let's look at what's going to be taught in our schools because now we have same-sex couples being the same and their sexual activity being seen as equal and being affirmed by society as heterosexual couples and their activity." We'll ask Patton Oswalt.
And Michele Bachmann? Meet Elijah.
(Excerpt from video clip) ELIJAH: My mommy - Miss Bachmann, my mommy's gay but she doesn't need fixing,
OLBERMANN: That's Michele Bachmann, owned by an eight-year-old kid and then staring daggers at him. All that and more, now on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Tuesday, December 6th, 336 days until the 2012 presidential election.
Occupy Wall Street becoming Occupy Our Homes for a day, spearheading a national movement to protest predatory lending, to stop bank auctions and evictions and reclaim foreclosed homes.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - Occupy occupying Congressional offices on Capitol Hill as well, taking to the streets of more then two dozen cities for a national day of action and taking up nearly all of a presidential speech in Kansas. The president, coming up.
First, Occupy protesters joining forces with Back to the Land and other groups fighting foreclosures in Oakland, Chicago, Bloomington, Indiana, Minneapolis, Denver and more - staging a foreclosure tour of Brooklyn's battered East New York neighborhood; claiming an abandoned building there for a homeless family to use; rallying on courthouse steps in Atlanta, trying to disrupt an auction of foreclosed homes inside and hearing this call for fairness from veteran civil rights leader the Reverend Joseph Lowery, our guest on this news hour, in a moment.
(Excerpt from video clip) JOSEPH LOWERY: We are calling upon the banking community to take their turn at bat now and help people who need help.
OLBERMANN: In case the nation's banks still haven't gotten the message, they might keep in mind that today's protests are just the start. Max Rameau, an organizer with the group Take Back the Land saying, "This is an important practice round for our spring 2012 spring offensive."
The early winter offensive launched on Capitol Hill today. Groups of Occupy protesters pushing President Obama's jobs plan, making themselves comfortable Republican in deadbeat-dad Congressman Joe Walsh's office. Others targeting more prominent Republicans, including House Majority Leader Cantor and House Budget Chairman Ryan, who was not on hand to hear a mother of two - one a special-needs child - explain why they were there.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: We have no medical insurance. We need family-sustaining jobs, not minimum wage with no benefits.
OLBERMANN: And there will be no surprise raids on the Occupy D.C. camp at McPherson Square. A federal judge ruling the National Park Service must give protesters 24 hours' notice before trying to evict them for camping and sleeping on the square.
In New York, Congressman Jerrold Nadler asking U.S. Attorney General Holder to investigate allegations of excessive force by New York City police against Occupy protesters. Nadler citing the September 24th pepper-spray attack on four women that helped put Occupy on the map. Plus, the mass arrests of protesters October 1st, on Brooklyn Bridge, including many who believed they were obeying police orders that led to their arrests. And the mass eviction of protesters from the original Occupy camp at Zuccotti Park and the "targeting of journalists for mistreatment during Occupy protests, during and after the eviction."
One more Occupy note - a federal judge allowing Occupy New Orleans protesters to reoccupy their camp for at least a week after police closed it before dawn. There was just one arrest made during that raid in New Orleans, a protester who reportedly wanted to be arrested.
Occupy Atlanta protesters tried to disrupt foreclosure auctions in three county courthouses today. Among those taking part? Reverend Joseph Lowery, civil rights leader who helped lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott and marched many times with Dr. Martin Luther King. It's an honor to have you on the program, sir. Thanks for your time tonight.
JOSEPH LOWERY: Well, thank you. It's good to be with you.
OLBERMANN: How did you come to be involved in the Occupy protests?
LOWERY: Well, like the rest of the country, I was caught up in the spirit of this spontaneous, people's grassroot movement. Several weeks ago, when they called, talked about the 99 percent and the one percent, when they talked about the disparities in this country and they talk about the unfair tax system in this country, when they talked about the foreclosures against people's homes - the evictions that's taking place - the one-sided marketplace, where - where the few -
There's something wrong with a system where a handful of people have more than they'd ever need, while a mass of the people have less than they always need. And this Occupy group has caught the conscience. They - they've stung the conscience of the nation and they've got my attention. And so, we wanted to give our support - a group of ministers - we're giving our support to them, particularly in the area of mortgage foreclosures.
OLBERMANN: The Occupy Our Homes event today in Atlanta, particularly - what - what's the foreclosure crisis like in the Atlanta area? What's been done so far to try to stop it so people can stay in their homes?
LOWERY: It's one of the highest in the country, in Georgia. Georgia is one of the highest number of evictions and foreclosures in the country. And we - we wanna put a stop to it. We remember when the critical nature of our economy was exposed to the world - the banks were in trouble and the nation came to the rescue of the banks. All of our money - our tax monies were used to help these banks save face and save their - their existence.
And now, we are asking the banks to help those who are facing foreclosure of their homes. This turnabout is fair play. It's the banks' turn to be at the bat and we are asking them to in - to launch a six-month to - to nine-month moratorium on - on evictions and foreclosures, so there'll be no evictions and foreclosures for nine months and that will give us an opportunity to make the modifications and adjustments that need to be made to the loans to put them where people can afford them.
OLBERMANN: They have not necessarily shown - the banking industry - much in the way of conscience. Do you - do you expect to hear something positive from them, based upon your call?
LOWERY: Well, we hope that we will. We are prepared to respond if they don't. We are not going to support banks that don't support the moratorium. If we have to take our money out of those banks that don't show sensitivity to the least of these, then we are prepared to do that. We believe the banks ought to do, at least, what was done for them in the bailouts.
OLBERMANN: Everybody in - in protest of all kinds in the last 50 years have thrown Dr. King's name out with alarming ease. But you - you're a man who knows this. Are these protests - the Occupy movements' goals - are they in line with what Martin Luther King was trying to achieve?
LOWERY: Well, many of their goals are. Some of their goals have not been made clear yet. Remember, this is a grassroots, spontaneous movement - not by any organized group but by the people themselves, who feel frustrated, who feel neglected, who feel hurt, who feel isolated from the mainstream of our economic existence and they haven't developed yet, as I - far as I know, a - a long-range and a short-range and a mid-range program that's - that's well defined, but they do know that there's something wrong in the country when 99 percent of the people own less than one percent of the people that the tax code and everything else - all directed to favor the that one percent. And that has to come to an end in this country.
OLBERMANN: And, as we know, nothing has ever changed for the good without somebody first standing up and saying, "This is wrong and it needs to change."
LOWERY: Exactly. And I think this group - Occupy group - has struck the conscience of the nation. And while they may not be as polished and refined as we want them to be, let's not overlook the fact that they - that they've embraced truth and there is something wrong with a system where 99 percent of the people own only one percent - own less than the one percent of the people own in this country.
OLBERMANN: One of our great civil rights leaders, Reverend Joseph Lowery, protesting today with Occupy Atlanta on behalf of families facing foreclosure or already pushed out of the foreclosed homes. Great thanks for all of your work, sir, today and in all the years past.
LOWERY: Well, thank you sir.
OLBERMANN: And for your time tonight. Thank you, sir.
Back in New York, Occupy Wall Street's message of fairness for the 99 percent seems to have actually had an impact. New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing today that he and legislative leaders had agreed on a new state income-tax plan, raising taxes on top earners. But for the 99 percent -
(Excerpt from video clip) ANDREW CUOMO: I propose a tax cut aimed at the middle class that I believe will help stimulate the economy by putting much-needed money back in the hands of millions of people across this state. It will be the lowest tax rate in 58 years.
OLBERMANN: Governor Cuomo had previously insisted on letting a tax surcharge on millionaires expire at year's end. If the new plan passes, top earners will pay over eight percent, compared to just under seven percent now.
For more on the governor's tax reversal and today's Occupy march in Brooklyn, I'm joined by Ydanis Rodriguez, the New York City councilman and Occupy Wall Street supporter. Councilman, good to talk to you again.
YDANIS RODRIGUEZ: Thank you, sir.
OLBERMANN: The Cuomo plan - is it good news for the 99 percent? Is it an indication that while, maybe Mayor Bloomberg doesn't get Occupy, Governor Cuomo does?
RODRIGUEZ: Well, first of all, I would like to thank the Occupy movement for playing an important role in persuading Mario Cuomo on the importance of getting a fair share, especially to the millionaires. We believe that by his initiative, we are making - important progress. This will not bring the whole solution to getting the revenue that we need to balance the budget for the next year, but this is a good beginning on getting the revenue that we need so that we don't need to cut on the working class and the middle class.
OLBERMANN: You took part in the Occupy Our Homes March in Brooklyn today. Obviously, you must've heard our interview with Reverend Lowery about what's going on in Atlanta. How bad is the foreclose crisis in New York and are there prospects that the banks and the NYPD would actually allow families who need homes to move into these abandoned, wasted, empty properties?
RODRIGUEZ: Well, first of all - I had a great opportunity to walk with more than 500 New Yorkers from the Occupy movement around different blocks in East New York, Brooklyn, and we went through four different houses - house owners that they had lost their houses -and we ended in one of the houses that had - that the home - homeowner decided to stay in their house and the Occupy movement will stay there supporting the homeowner so that he will be able to keep the house.
We believe that addressing the issue of supporting homeowners - that they had lost their - their - their houses it's important - for the Occupy movement, city, state, nationwide - because this is a issue that has been affecting people throughout the nation.
There's a real - there's a clear reality. The governor has bailed out the bank and we have been sell out. And that has been said throughout the protest and we believe that by - continuing the Occupy movement around the issue that - people that - they had lost their houses, their home, I believe is a good initiative and I will - I think that it will help us to continue the movement in this city and this state in the nation.
OLBERMANN: In terms of the movement continuing - after Zuccotti Park was closed, there was much speculation that Occupy would not either continue to grow or it would decline. Obviously, it's - it's been forced to branch out. Was this closing of the park, in some way, a gift to Occupy? To sort of direct it out into the community and refocus where it was going to be, in terms of its presence?
RODRIGUEZ: I believe it will and someone that represent in northern Manhattan - one of the area there, the average income is $25,000 a year and I believe that it is important to bring the Occupy movement to our own communities and that's what happened today, in East New York, Brooklyn. It is walking through the working-class neighborhood that we gather a lot of support from residents in the area.
And now our challenge is to continue organizing, to bring the Occupy movement to the South Bronx, to Brooklyn, to el barrio, to Harlem, to area that has been affected, basically, because we are the 99 percent - we are the working class, we are the middle class and - and I think that Mayor Bloomberg - he should know. He can evict the people from the park, but he cannot evict the movement.
This mayor - he doesn't get it. He's not connected to New Yorkers and he thought that by evicting people from the park, the movement would be silenced. No one will silence this movement unless we take a specific initiative on closing the gap between the one percent and the 99 percent.
OLBERMANN: New York City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez. Once again, great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
RODRIGUEZ: Thanks to you, sir.
OLBERMANN: For the first time today, the president of the United States sounded like he could have been reading a speech designed to go over well at an Occupy protest, but he framed it as something evocative of what Teddy Roosevelt had said in the same Kansas town in 1910. Politics and Occupy, next on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: The speech references the 99 percent, class warfare, income inequality and selling out our democracy to the highest bidder. Made by Michael Moore? By Me? A speaker at Occupy Wall Street? President of the United States, today, in Kansas.
New polling giving him the highest score of any Republican in this presidential cycle - 37 percent approval, 15 points higher than Romney. But the day after we all saw him smooch Donald Trump's heiney, an old quote about Trump comes back to bite his heiney. Newt "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Gingrich in "Worst Persons."
And how could you screw up the "kissing the baby" part of being a politician? Wait'll you see what the eight-year-old kid did to Michele Bachmann.
OLBERMANN: Proof today that the message of Occupy has finally been heard loud and clear, not just around the country but inside the White House. In our fourth story on the "Countdown" - the president gives a glimpse into his 2012 campaign strategy in a speech full of Occupy themes, pledging to fight against inequality at what he called "a make-or-break moment for the middle class."
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules. These aren't Democratic or Republican values. These aren't one percent values or 99 percent values. They're American values and we have to reclaim them.
OLBERMANN: President Obama spoke in the same small Kansas town in which Teddy Roosevelt delivered his pivotal "New Nationalism" speech more than 100 years ago. It was there that Roosevelt, a year and a half after he left the presidency, detailed the need for economic fairness and equal opportunity for all. Today, President Obama put forth similar populist themes, drawing on language you might recognize from the Occupy movement.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: In the last few decades, the average income of the top one percent has gone up by more than 250 percent to $1.2 million per year. I am not talking about millionaires, people who have a million dollars. I'm saying people who make a million dollars every single year. For the top one hundredth of one percent, the average income is now $27 million per year. The typical CEO - who used to earn about 30 times more than his or her worker - now earns 110 times more. And yet, over the last decade, the incomes of most Americans have actually fallen by about six percent. Now, this kind of inequality - a level that we haven't seen since the Great Depression - hurts us all.
OLBERMANN: The impact and necessity of Occupy was also evident during the entirety of the president's 56-minute speech.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: Inequality also distorts our democracy. It gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions. And it runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder. It leaves everyone else rightly suspicious that the system in Washington is rigged against them, that our elected representatives aren't looking out for the interests of most Americans.
OLBERMANN: Joining me now - Robert Reich, the Labor Secretary during the Clinton Administration, professor at Berkeley and author of "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future." Thanks, once again, for your time tonight, sir.
REICH: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Given how reluctant all politicians have been to embrace the language and the spirit of Occupy - never mind the name or any of the titles of the cities around the country in which there is an Occupy - how far did - did the president really go today and how surprising a speech was that?
REICH: I think this is an extraordinary speech, Keith. I think this, in a sense, is the most significant and important economic speech the president has given, because he's laid it all out. He's connected the dots. He showed how inequality has affected our economy because the middle class no longer has the purchasing power to keep the economy going and, also, how inequality has undermined our democracy because so much wealth and influence and privilege are at the top that they basically can flood our legislators and our Senate and Congress with money. The president really did provide Americans, I hope, with a peek at what the 2012 election will be all about.
OLBERMANN: So, what does it mean before the 2012 election? Was there anything in there that hinted that there'd be action behind some of these words?
REICH: Well, the president did say that he was going to go after a lot of people on Wall Street who have been getting away with not being accountable. The president did say to Wall Street, it has to modify mortgages and do things for average, middle-class people, with regard to home and mortgage mitigation.
The president also suggested that he was going to really demand, or - in some way - encourage corporate executives to be more socially responsible and stop creating jobs abroad instead of jobs in the United States. Now, again, there wasn't legislation attached to that last piece but the president was fired up and said things that I have not heard him say in a way I have not heard him say so far in this presidency.
I kept on - you know, as he was talking, I kept on saying, "Finally. Where has this president been? This is the Barack Obama we elected."
OLBERMANN: Is - is there any indication in that that he's - or even - based on the early reaction to it - that there's gonna be more of this from the president and - and if - if from him, or even if not from him, could we see other elected officials now given entree into the area and, essentially, permission to echo some of these points made by Occupy, whether Occupy gets credit or not?
REICH: I think so, Keith. You know, the president has a bully pulpit and that is - that bully pulpit - that term was invented during Teddy Roosevelt's reign, here in the United States - and that means the president has, like Teddy Roosevelt, an extraordinary power to convey a message when he wants to convey it.
And he gives cover for every other politician who wants to use the same message, but may have been a little bit nervous about doing it, for fear of appearing to - be a little bit radical or to make one group a little upset with him or her but no, the president, by using Teddy Roosevelt's bully pulpit - and it was not insignificant that this was done at the site of Teddy Roosevelt's "New Nationalism" speech, where Roosevelt said, "Look, American corporations, you've got to start working for America. Americans, you have got to start demanding that our economy work for all of you and I'm gonna make sure it does."
It wasn't an accident that - that Obama chose this spot and also chose Teddy Roosevelt as a mentor. I think we're gonna see a lot more of this.
OLBERMANN: Yeah. And it was Teddy Roosevelt, in fact, who popularized that phrase, "bully pulpit." The first President to - to view it in those terms. So, that's what it does for the president, conceivably what it does for policy. What does this speech do for the Occupy movement?
REICH: Well, it certainly bolsters the credibility of what a lot of people in the Occupy movement, who have been supporting the Occupy movement, have been saying. Inequality - wildly grotesque inequality - is one of the largest economic problems we face, if not the key economic problem because it lays - it lies behind our economic - the rest of our economic problems.
It means we don't have enough aggregate demand because consumers are not getting enough money in their - in their pockets and that means a loss of jobs and it's also undermining democracy. He also said that it was undermining opportunity, that it was slowing down social mobility, that a child born today has much less opportunity to get ahead than a child born 20 or 30 or 40 years ago. He emphasized CEO pay and the grotesque dimensions of - of the pay on Wall Street.
This is a president that is echoing Occupy - not only Occupy movement but also a lot of what Americans have been saying. When he - when the president talks about the game being rigged, a lot of people, I'm sure - whether they're Occupiers or not - see that speech, hear that speech or read that speech and say, "Yes, that's exactly what I feel and Mr. President, tell me exactly or at least over the 2012 election season - tell me exactly what you're gonna do about it. Are we gonna see a second Obama term that really is different than the first Obama term? Is it gonna be an Obama second term that doesn't play into the hands of Wall Street, that makes demands on corporate America and demands on Wall Street that the economy work for average working people?" Maybe.
OLBERMANN: I like that word, "rigged," too, for what it is or is not worth. The former Labor Secretary, "Aftershock" author, Robert Reich. Thanks, yet again, for some of your time tonight.
REICH: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Okay, take care.
Speaking of history and Osawatomie and all of that, there is another element of history. Sometimes it comes back and bites you, as Newt Gingrich found out today, when his insulting comments about Donald Trump were unearthed, a day after he said all those nice things about Donald Trump. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: No Republican presidential wannabe has scored as high as the 37 percent support Newt Gingrich has just gotten in a new poll. On the other hand - with every new poll, there does seem to be one less Republican for him to compete with. Ahead.
First, the "Sanity Break" and "Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Puppy learns to lie down.
We begin with the TMO Adorable Clip of the Day. Nothing on a cold winter night like lying down by the fire. But first, you have to learn how to lie down. Pepper, here, does not seem to be picking it up too quickly. "I'm not tired, I just want that doggie treat."
Eventually, he sort of accidentally lies down, which is good enough for today's lesson.
Tomorrow, he learns how to sit on the couch with the remote in one paw and the other paw in a big bag of Cheetos. I didn't say "Sit indefinitely."
VIDEO: Wedding-bouquet toss wipe out.
To the world of romance. Everybody's favorite part of the wedding - the tossing of the bouquet. There's always somebody who takes it a bit too seriously. Here's the pitch and - oh, wipeout.
Traditionally, catching the bouquet means you're going to get married. Maybe she'll meet a handsome doctor in the ER.
VIDEO: (NO CLIP AVAILABLE)
Finally, we end - as we always do - with a plank-walking competition. It's Key West's National Walk the Plank Championship, where pirate re-enactors demonstrate their plank-walking skills. "Argh, Jimboy Argh."
Competitors are judged on silly costumes, humor of plea, and how big a splash they make when they fall. Same rules as judging the GOP debates.
The winner? A man from Baltimore who walked the plank dressed as Santa Claus.
"Release, rotation, splash."
The real Santa Claus couldn't be reached for comment. A spokesman explained it's a very busy time of year.
"Time Marches On!"
2012 roundup and the Gingrich surge, along with the planted hint that he may now be challenged by the dark horse we've all been waiting for - Senator Jim DeMint.
OLBERMANN: Dumont's "Dark Of Night Theater" 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." We're live each night at 8:00 Eastern, more or less. We call it "our little miracle."
Newt "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Gingrich now leading the Republican field by a huge margin. New poll numbers showing him with more support than any other candidate has had at any point this year. The again, he is matching up against four former front-runners, now consigned to the dustbin of history.
In the third story tonight - one of them, Mitt Romney, responds by turning his attacks from the president to the Newt. But even as they battle for the top spot, the Republican establishment still fantasizing about all the other candidates they'd rather see there.
According to a Gallup poll out today, Newt Gingrich now leading the pack with 37 percent and everybody else just about watching. Romney staying at his permanent 22 percent. Not only is 37 the highest number any candidate has seen this year but, perhaps even more shockingly, it comes in the same lifetime in which Gingrich was polling among the lowest - four percent in August.
Gingrich also leading in key individual states, exactly four weeks to the Iowa caucuses. Gingrich leading the field there with 33 percent. Romney and Ron Paul tied for second at 18. In South Carolina - which will hold its primary on the 21st of next month - Gingrich is 38. This, even though the Gingrich campaign has still has limited presence in those states; in part because of its massive debt from spending on luxury jets - among other items - early in his campaign.
The Washington Post reporting today that Gingrich has just begun paying off nearly $1.2 million in bills, after having spent nearly three dollars for every two dollars he raised. Gingrich aides saying they're now seeing a rush of fundraising dollars, however, as he surges in these polls.
Romney, meantime, not expected to get much of a boost from this endorsement today, by the noted GOP veteran Dan Quayle:
(Excerpt from video clip) DAN QUAYLE: My friends, Washington is a mess and we need to send Mitt Romney to Washington to fix the mess out there.
OLBERMANN: Romney now going on the attack. The former governor calling Newt Gingrich "the consummate government insider."
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: If the American people believe that what we need is someone who's spent the last 40 years or so in Washington D.C., working as an insider, he's the right guy.
OLBERMANN: Romney also announcing he's still not quite desperate enough to participate in that Donald Trump debate.
(Excerpt from video clip) NEIL CAVUTO: As to this Donald Trump-hosted debate - yes or no on that?
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: No, I'm not participating in that. We have two debates in December that I've agreed to participate in. The rest of the month is gonna be spent campaigning.
OLBERMANN: While he might be spurning that particular member of the one percent, Romney does have the support of more billionaires than any other candidate, 42 of them having now donated to his campaign. Still, the Republican establishment is not yet sold on him.
The conservative blogger Erick Erickson revealing - or perhaps planting - that even with the primaries just around the corner, the GOP is still thinking about other possible presidential candidates, tweeting, "Some GOPers are starting to float Jim DeMint's name as a wildcard dark horse candidate. I'd take him." And even this one. "Other name being tried out? Jeb Bush."
Joining me now - "Countdown" contributor Nia-Malika Henderson, national political reporter of The Washington Post. Nia, good evening.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Hey, good to see ya.
OLBERMANN: No matter who the front-runner has been, the Republicans have always been looking for another one. Is the DeMint thing serious? Is Jeb Bush serious? Didn't Jeb Bush promise his mother he wasn't going to run?
HENDERSON: You know, I gotta say - I ran into Jim DeMint about a month ago, in one of the green rooms in Washington. Didn't seem like a man who was thinking about running for president. Didn't even seem like a man who was thinking of endorsing one of these candidates. Much more concerned with getting the Senate back into the Republican column.
But again, I think this is what we've seen for a long time - this desire for some sort of fantasy candidate to come in here, riding in on a - on a white horse and rescue the Republican Party from itself and from these candidates that just have not caught on, with - with tea party voters, with the far right wing - of the party.
You see Mitt Romney there, stuck at 20 percent. Newt Gingrich on fire with this 37 - 39 percent approval rating in percentage, you know. But I think people are just waiting to see him, quite frankly, implode. I'll be down in South Carolina with him on Thursday. That's a state that'll probably be in his column, come the primary and, of course, we know that that state, for the last 20 years - 30 years, in fact - has always picked the winner of the - of the GOP nominating contest. And he looks really strong down there.
OLBERMANN: One note about dark horses, and I'm not saying it's the same era as the 1940 campaign but, at this point, if I remember correctly &$8212; at this point in 1939, the 1940 Republican nominee, Wendell Willkie, wasn't even Republican yet and it's almost the same way for Eisenhower in 1952. They will pull people out of a hat, if necessary, and that kind of dovetails with my next question, which is - to what degree is that 37 percent number in the Gallup for Gingrich a function of the discarded bodies of Herman Cain and Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann and - to some degree - this, you know, "I'm stuck at 20 percent" Romney?
HENDERSON: Yeah, it's a complete function of that. Of course we saw the boom and bust cycle of all of these guys - Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain - drop out. So, a lot of that is finally shifting over to Newt Gingrich. They think this is the guy to be the anti-Romney, the non-Romney candidate who can coalesce - that people will coalesce around. And I've gotta say, I'm sure that at this point - Mitt Romney is worried. He's unveiling a - something of an attack strategy, in terms of Newt Gingrich, calling him a career politician.
Don't know how effective that will be, given the fact that Mitt Romney - I mean, I think he's been running for President for the last five or six years. I don't think he has a job at this point, unless you count running for president as a full-time job. So, I don't - I don't know how effective that will be. We'll see tomorrow.
Chris Christie, out in Iowa - I think, in some ways, Chris Christie is sort of the alter ego of Mitt Romney - he's gonna be able to channel some of that regular-guy populism that Mitt Romney, in some ways, seems just unable to do. So, I think that's gonna be an - an important thing to watch tomorrow to see if Chris Christie goes at Newt Gingrich in the way that he's been able to go at the president.
OLBERMANN: Two things - "boom or bust on the presidential cycle." That's perfect. If you haven't used that a lot in print, you should use it every time. Second, as to Romney and sort of perpetually being in the race - if you inherited your presidential campaign posters, you have been running for a longtime, as Mr. Romney has.
But now - last question about Gingrich. So far, his past, which is as checkered as anybody else's in the Republican field, including everybody - before we knew about the Herman Cain stories and all the other ones and the Rick Perry somnambulance - it has not seemed to have been as problematic for him as Romney's past was for him or, again, Cain or - or Perry. Is that, again, just a function of the fact that he has not been first in line and - and it's been such easy, low-hanging fruit that nobody's bothered to reach in the back, to some of the lesser candidates?
HENDERSON: Yeah, I mean, it's very surprising to me that it hasn't really doomed him yet. It's almost like Newt Gingrich is this figure that everybody knows. Everybody know that he's had this messy past, in terms of his ethics violations when he was at the House. Everybody pretty much knows that he was kicked out of - of the House - and everybody knows that he's been married for three times - but they do recognize him as a figure who they think is very smart. Who they want to see on the stage next to Barack Obama.
This is a guy who's challenging Barack Obama to, I think, seven Lincoln-Douglas style debates - three hours. Who's gonna watch that? But this is - you know, they like - they like that. They like his bombast and so I think, in some ways, they're - they're willing to forgive some of what have, frankly, been his flip-flops. He was interviewed by Glenn Beck today - were talking about - they were talking about his - past position on health care. He essentially said that he backs the health-care mandate - a variation of it.
But I think, in some ways, they're just used to it. They think he's a better messenger than Mitt Romney is. And I think, in some ways, even though you haven't seen a lot of the Republicans - the rank-and-file Republicans back him, that, in some ways, works to his favor because it allows him to make the argument that, in some ways, he is an anti-establishment figure. Go figure. Here's a guy who spent 20 years in the House but so far, it's working for him.
OLBERMANN: The Washington Post's Nia-Malika Henderson, "Countdown" contributor. Always a pleasure, Nia, Thank you.
HENDERSON: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The fire starts. The fire department races to the scene. The fire department watches attentively as the home burns to the ground. The fire department then goes home. "Worst Persons," next.
OLBERMANN: Michele Bachmann gets fricasseed over gay equality by Elijah. Elijah is eight years old. It's on tape. First, the "Worsts."
And let's meet the latest victim of the Governor of Wisconsin. She's voted in every election since 1948 but, fortunately, Scott Walker and the Koch Brothers are gonna make damn sure she doesn't commit voter fraud next year.
OLBERMANN: Michele Bachmann is defeated in a debate by an eight-year-old boy. Coming up.
First - because these next folks can only dream of lasting long enough to even compete with the eight-years-old - eight-year-olds of this world - here are "Countdown"'s top-three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze? To Mayor David Crocker of South Fulton, Tennessee. He's the man in charge in Obion County, where they have "pay for spray," which is - if you do not subscribe to the services of the fire department, the fire department will not put out the fire at your house.
It has happened for at least the second time in a year. This time, to a woman named Vicky Bell. It is, of course, beyond all human comprehension that you could run a community-safety element this way. Not even a pay-afterwards or an a la carte exception for a house while it's actually on fire.
But the most maddening thing is - the fire department, as it always does, went to the Bell home and, as it burned down, they stayed there and watched. The logic behind that being that they have to do that to make sure the fire doesn't spread to the property of any of the subscribers. The state of Tennessee permits this, makes its statewide government and everybody in the state look like cretins. And pyromaniacs.
The runner-up? Republican front-runner Newt Gingrich. As our friend Dave Weigel reported - while we were all watching Newt the chameleon kissing Donald Trump's shiny, metal ass yesterday, an operative at a rival campaign sent out an old interview with Gingrich, conducted in 1989 with the Ripon Society.
Quoting Gingrich, 1989: "Quotas send exactly the wrong signal to poor people. It says that they're going to get justice through political action and that justice is going to redress the past. That is simply, historically, not true. It's not the way the world works. The more power there is in a political system, the more the powerful exploit it. New York hasn't ended up a dream world for the poor. It has become a place where Donald Trump manipulates the game."
Gingrich now calls Trump an American original, and lets Trump manipulate him.
But our winner? Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
We have yet another human face representing all the victims of this bubblehead marionette of the Koch Brothers. Please meet Ruthelle Frank of Brokaw, Wisconsin. Ruthelle is 84 years old and she's voted in every election since 1948, despite the fact that she has been paralyzed on her left side since birth.
Ms. Frank went even further than that. She didn't just vote for all these years, she was eventually elected to the Brokaw, Wisconsin Village Board.
But right now it looks like she's cast her final vote, 'cause she was born at home in 1927, so there's not birth certificate and so - even though Ms. Frank has a certificate of baptism and her Social Security card - she cannot get one of those new state-issued IDs that was foisted upon Wisconsin by that fascist bastard Scott Walker and the criminal gang put in control of the state by the blood money of the Kochs.
The State Register of Deeds in Wisconsin does have a record of her birth, but her maiden name was misspelled by the doctor in 1927. So - to get an actual birth certificate, so she can get her Walker-approved "identity papers" - she has to petition the court to get the mistake made in 1927 corrected in 2011. Total cost could easily exceed $200.
To prevent the almost non-existent crime of voting when you're not supposed to, $200 - to get an ID for a woman who has voted in every election since 1948. And before you say, "Well, that's asinine but it's just the one woman," one study estimates that there are 177,399 residents - 65 and older - who do not have state photo ID in Wisconsin alone.
Governor Scott Walker, fascist bastard - today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: Contrary to all major indicators - polls, fundraising, endorsements, publicity - Rick Santorum is still running for president. If you thought he would drop out before again embarrassing himself in some major way, you don't know Rick.
In our number-one story - Mr. "Man on Child, Man on Dog" is at it again. This time, coming out against gay marriage because "We would have to teach children, he says, "that homosexuals are equal to heterosexuals."
In an appearance at Iowa's Dordt College, the Republican would-be was asked to explain his anti-gay marriage stance. And after initially being shocked that the questioner did not agree gay marriage held dire consequences for families, Mr. Santorum focused on the children. "Let's look at what's going to be taught in our schools because now we have same-sex couples being the same and their sexual activity being seen as equal and being affirmed by society as heterosexual couples and their activity. So, what is going to be taught to our people in health class in our schools? What is going to be taught to our children about who in our stories - even to little children - what are married couples? What families look like in America?"
Won't someone please think of the syntax?
Coming from a man who supports abstinence-only education, wouldn't Rick be in favor of no sexual activity being taught?
But Santorum isn't the only one having a problem defending an anti-gay rights position. This other case was even more open and shut. At a book signing, Michele Bachmann thought she was just doing a variation on the "kissing the baby" thing - Look out congresswoman! That eight-year-old! It's loaded!
(Excerpt from video clip) ELIJAH: My mommy, Miss Bachmann, my mommy's gay but she doesn't need any fixing.
OLBERMANN: Oh, look at that look. Let's bring in comedian and the star of the upcoming film, "Young Adult," Patton Oswalt. Good to talk to you, sir.
PATTON OSWALT: Oh, hey. Thanks, Keith. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Got to start with - the other young adult, little Elijah, there. I know it's not fair to send Michele Bachmann up against an eight-year-old boy because the eight-year-old boy is gonna win, nine times out of ten but if you're Michele Bachmann, you got smoked by an eight-year-old who just whispers, it's time to drop out isn't it?
OSWALT: Well, I mean, I'm already seeing on - on Twitter, how some people are - are - are already saying, "Oh, well, he was programmed by the mom to say what he said and so -" Let me - let me just put this out there. What if he was coached by the mom to say that thing to Michele Bachmann? It's still a completely valid point and why didn't she answer it instead of rolling her eyes at a little kid, who, even if he was fed that line, emotionally, is trying to defend his mom?
OSWALT: I mean, even if he didn't say that. Even if he just said, "Hey, I think you're being mean to my mom and I wish you would stop," why would you - why would anyone roll their eyes at a little kid? I mean, if - if a little kid came up to me and said, "I don't like that you support gay marriage and I think that - 'cause it hurts my mom's feelings," even though I don't agree with that kid, I would at least respond to him.
OSWALT: Instead of rolling my eye, like - that's the - that's the creepiest, mean-girl, bully behavior you could possibly do.
OLBERMANN: Plus, doesn't it imply, like - like Michele Bachmann memorizes things all the time and just repeats them without thinking about it. What's - what's wrong with that?
OSWALT: Well, it also implies - if she rolled her eyes at this little kid and disregarded him, it also implies that little kids call her on her stuff all the time and she's sick of it. Like, she's so used to five- and six-year-olds coming up and saying, "You know, you totally misquoted that Bible verse." She's like, "Oh great, this again!"
OLBERMANN: That's right.
OSWALT: You know, some - some - "a human being who's barely potty-trained, handing me my ass, awesome."
OLBERMANN: Yeah, or - or she's thinking, "Boy, I'm just getting killed by these midgets out here."
OSWALT: Yeah, exactly.
OLBERMANN: That's the other possibility.
OLBERMANN: Rick Santorum. Do you think he listens to himself as he talks? My favorite question of the year - a variation of it - "Does he know we can see and hear him?"
OSWALT: I think a deeper question for Rick Santorum is, you know, whenever he - whenever he brings up stuff about, "Oh, we're teaching these kids about gay sex and gay marriage and it says in the Bible -"
He always says - he always brings up the Bible, as if - he's bringing up the Bible as if it's not his fault that he feels the way he feels. It's almost like he's saying, "I would love to be tolerant of gays. It's this darn book. I - every morning, I get, I'm like, 'Let me get out there and get at those gays and be tolerant - Oh, Jesus! Romans 1:27, you got me again!'"
Like - like, it - you can't say - Look, I don't mind you saying evil stuff like that if you then immediately own it. If you immediately say, "I said it and that's how I feel" but he says and then goes, "And by the way, it's this - it's this book of adventures and fables - it's not me! I'm just doing what this book says."
OLBERMANN: Yeah, it's like the Bible beats him up like Elijah, the eight-year-old boy, is what it -
OSWALT: Yeah, exactly. Hey, look, I'm sorry that this - this - this very finely-written book is bullying you. Maybe you need to - you know what, Rick? It gets better.
OSWALT: It actually gets better. You can move on and think.
OLBERMANN: And where was it - Santorum - has Santorum gotten off of the subject of bestiality, finally? Is he done with that, do you suppose?
OSWALT: Yeah, now he's just focusing on the gay sex and it - and it seems to be, again - it's this classic - it's all he talks about. I - you know, it used to be that the big signifiers for if you were gay is - like, back in the '70s and '80s, it would be - it would be people saying, "Well, you know - you know, Bruce - he's really into musical theater and he's good with colors." But now, the new signifier, to me, with especially, someone like Rick is like, "Well, you know, I'd love to set Rick up with up with Donna but - he's really against gay marriage, if you know what I mean. Do you know where I am going with this?"
OLBERMANN: Yep, yep.
OSWALT: "He's super pro-family - right? So - probably, they wouldn't be a good match."
OLBERMANN: Patton Oswalt. The new film is "Young Adult." Great thanks for bearing with us, with our studio stuff tonight and, always a pleasure to talk with you, sir.
OSWALT: Thanks. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: That's "Countdown" for this, the 332nd day since John Boehner and the Republicans took the House, 332 days in which the Republicans haven't passed a jobs bill of any kind. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.