Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday, December 21st, 2012

'MLB Network Clubhouse Confidential'
video podcast
alternative link

@KeithOlbermann: Preview: @JoePosnanski + me talking HOF vote, 5:30 ET @CHConfidential on @MLBNetwork. Joe wonders if his car is on fire

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

'MLB Network Hot Stove'
video via
video podcast

@Ken_Rosenthal: Coming up on @MLBNetwork's "Hot Stove" at 9 am ET: @pgammo, Dickie V on #Rays, George Brett on #Royals, @keitholbermann, more.

@KeithOlbermann: In route to @MLBNetwork to discuss The Merkle Ball and Johnny Evers (see SI) on #HotStove

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

'MLB Network Hot Stove'
video podcast (part 1, part 2)
Bonus: The Hostess twinkie story

@KeithOlbermann: Slightly blurry view of sunrise just getting cooking over NYC. Looks like butter on a... Hot Stove on @MLBNetwork 9 ET

@KeithOlbermann: Coming up on the hour, Brian Kenny and I bring you Hot Stove on @MLBNetwork - with OUTSTANDING lighting

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

'MLB Network Hot Stove'
video podcast (part 1, part 2)

@KeithOlbermann: Sunrise over Secaucus (ok, near Secaucus). See you on @MLBNetwork Hot Stove all morning starting at 9 ET. Looks like Jays have a manager

@KeithOlbermann: THIS is sunrise over Secaucus. For the uninitiated MLB Network was once HQ of...msnbc. Eternal LOLs

@KeithOlbermann: And away we go - Mr @CHConfidential Brian Kenny ready to go from Studio K with Hot Stove on @MLBNetwork

@KeithOlbermann: And we're having a blast with you! RT @SamRyanMLB Hour 2 now on Hot Stove. Having a blast with Brian Kenny, @KeithOlbermann @Ken_Rosenthal on @MLBNetwork

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday, November 16th, 2012

'MLB Network Hot Stove'
video podcast

@Ken_Rosenthal: Coming up on @MLBNetwork's Hot Stove: @pgammo, MVP talk with Costas, @KeithOlbermann; Country Fried Friday w Mitch Williams. 9-11 a.m. ET

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

'MLB Network Hot Stove'
video podcast
YouTube clip provided by MLB Network

'MLB Network Clubhouse Confidential'
video podcast

@KeithOlbermann: Advisory/Warning @JPosnanski, Mad Dog Russo & I join Harold Reynolds, Matt Vasgersian for AL MVP roundtable Thu. AM on @MLBNetwork Hot Stove

@KeithOlbermann: Thanks to @MLBNetwork for having me on MVP roundtable on Hot Stove. Reairs 11 AM + 4 PM ET. & thanks to Matt Vasgersian for saying I won

@CHConfidential: Brian Kenny is joined by @JPosnanski, @KeithOlbermann, Tom Verducci & @jay_jaffe to break down the #MVP races on @CHConfidential at 5:30pE.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

'MLB Network Clubhouse Confidential'
video podcast

@CHConfidential: Brian Kenny is joined by @JPosnanski and @KeithOlbermann on @CHConfidential tonight to talk #CY and the blockbuster trade, 5:30pE

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday, October 29th, 2012

'Larry King Now'
via Ora.TV (part 1, part 2)
video podcast (part 1, part 2)

Larry sits down with outspoken journalist and political commentator Keith Olbermann to talk about the upcoming elections, and his future in broadcasting...

Keith Olbermann speaks to Larry King about his reputation as a "troublemaker," criticizes Mitt Romney's campaign and breaks his silence revealing that he was fired.

In part two of Larry's interview with outspoken journalist and political commentator Keith Olbermann, the two talk sports, controversy, and whether Olbermann will return to television.

@OraTV: SNEAK PEEK: Larry King interviews @KeithOlbermann - watch the full episode today at 5PM ET: #LarryKingNow

@OraTV: SNEAK PEEK of part 2 of @KingsThings interview w/ @KeithOlbermann - tune in tonight at 5PM ET to @OraTV & Hulu:

@kingsthings: Don't forget to watch pt.1 of my interview w/ @KeithOlbermann on #LarryKingNow-revealing, honest & funny-don't miss it

Monday, September 17, 2012

September 17th, 2012

KeithOlbermann: Special Twitter Comment coming on Romney "47 percent" tape and Romney Fundraiser's Sex Scandal

YouTube version

Photo version:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

'Baseball Central at Noon'
Via audio and video
audio podcast

Keith Olbermann, former SportsCenter anchor/US Political Commentator, joins Baseball Central at Noon with Sam Cosentino and Dirk Hayhurst to talk about last night's Jose Bautista injury, stem cell transplants, fantasy baseball, Anthony Gose and more.

@vocalmedia: You can hear @KeithOlbermann with Sam Cosentino & @TheGarfoose on Baseball Central at noon today ~ listen online at:

@KeithOlbermann: Listen as Hayhurst tears me to shreds :) RT @vocalmedia You can hear @KeithOlbermann with Sam Cosentino & @TheGarfoose on Baseball Central at noon today ~ listen online at:

@TheGarfoose: questions, comments, concerns? we're live on the Fan590 @sportsnet, about to talk with Keith Olbermann live.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

'This Week With George Stephanopoulos'
Video via ABC: Roundtable
video 'podcast': whole show or Roundtable



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: But it may be fair, it may be good public policy.

OBAMA: No, but, George, you can't just make up that language and decide that that's called a tax increase.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't think I'm making it up. "Merriam-Webster's Dictionary", "tax: a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes."

OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam's dictionary, that the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you're stretching it a little bit right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to check for myself, and your critics say it is a tax increase.

OBAMA: My critics say everything's a tax increase.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it's a tax increase.

OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Apparently Chief Justice John Roberts does not. And you saw that debate continues this morning. We're going to keep going on our roundtable, joined as always by George Will; Donna Brazile; our Supreme Court reporter Terry Moran; Artur Davis, former Democratic congressman, now a Republican, supporting Mitt Romney; and, of course, Keith Olbermann.

George, let me begin with you. There are so many ironies in this case. You know, you saw President Obama's signature legislation upheld by a chief justice he opposed with an argument (inaudible). You had one more. You say that this is a major victory for conservatives.

GEORGE WILL, AUTHOR: Yes, and I'll tell you why. The conservative legal insurgency made two arguments, both of which were dismissed as frivolous by the liberal law school professoriate, both of which won.

Both were the broccoli argument, the Tea Party argument, if you will, argument against the Commerce Clause, said if you affirm this under the commerce clause, you will have given the federal government a general police power to prescribe mandate or regulate behavior of every individual at every instance of their existence.

The court did not do that. In fact, it built a fence around the Commerce Clause. Then, on Medicaid expansion, for the first time in history, a majority of states banded together to challenge the constitutionality of legislation and they won.

For the first time since the New Deal, 75 years, the Supreme Court has overturned a federal spending statute (inaudible) by coercing the states, it undermines the dual sovereignty that is the heart of our federal position.

So for two reasons -- and these reasons are going to be there if, come November, there's a Romney presidency, and a Republican Senate, ObamaCare will gone. The Roberts precedents will remain.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Price worth paying, Keith Olbermann?

KEITH OLBERMANN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND WRITER: I think so, because we may be overthinking this from a larger standpoint in this country. The premise of the mandate as tax or tax as mandate, the various subdivisions of what the meaning is, aren't -- they're important to us; they're important to people analyzing this.

To the public, the outcome was something the president proposed was upheld. Also in a larger sense, if you think about what is a mandate, do we have them? Are they -- is this taxation possibility for non-users legitimate?

Every day in our lives we are subjected to the largest mandate any of us could ever have. We have to buy a product each day called the United States government. That mandate supplies everything from wars that we don't go along with, to solicitor generals we disagree with, to the salaries of the Supreme Court justices.

So I think if you look at this from a layman's point of view, I think it's a pretty clear-cut victory for the president.


ARTUR DAVIS, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: No, I don't think it's a victory for the president. Though I do agree with Keith's point that the average person is not going to get caught up on the legal nuances.

The bottom line is that a law that is the single least popular piece of domestic legislation and, arguably -- you know, George is the history maven here, but arguably since 1938, this is the least popular domestic legislation that's passed.

I remember when the debate was going on in 2009 and 2010, the Democratic mantra was, well, as soon as this has the legitimacy of being signed into law, people will decide they like it. They'll give Democrats credit for a win.

Now, I hear my Democratic friends saying, well, now that it's been given the imprimatur by the Supreme Court, that will somehow give it legitimacy. The people who don't like this law, the independents, conservative Democrats and swing voters who don't like it, they don't dislike it because of their constitutional jurisprudence. They're not carrying one around.

They dislike it because they think it costs too much money, they think it's unpredictable, they think it goes further than it needs to, and I don't see any of those doubts going away, especially when a significant part of this law still doesn't go into effect for another four years.


DONNA BRAZILE, VICE CHAIRWOMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, I don't believe that people dislike it because it's an overreach of government or for many Democrats who dislike it, it didn't go far enough. We didn't achieve a single-payer option.

We will see just how bold the Republicans will be if they manage to try to repeal and then replace it. We know that they've already -- in the House they voted already last year to try to repeal -- repealing it as a job-killing act, and then there's another vote scheduled as Mr. Ryan said in a few weeks.

But look, George, the big issue is that this was a moral victory for the country in large part because we have millions of Americans today who are already enjoying the benefits of this act, whether it's senior citizens who are paying less for their prescription medicine, young people, 3 million or more who are still on their parents' insurance up until the age of 26.

And, of course, I'm no longer a pre-existing condition as a woman, the majority of the population. So the Republicans will continue to make their arguments. And many of them are misleading. But Democrats will have to continue defending.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I want to get to more of the politics in just a minute. Before we get to this, let me turn to Terry Moran, who covers the Supreme Court for us and talk a little bit more about the role about Chief Justice Roberts. The vote did surprise a lot of people, even some suggestions that he switched his vote some time in the last couple of weeks.

TERRY MORAN, ABC CORRESPONDENT: It's fascinating, George. This opinion is a detective story. If you read it, you see the clues that something happened. It looks like Chief Justice Roberts switched his opinion.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And he voted the first 12 or so pages of the dissent.

MORAN: Right, and then couldn't go along with the conservatives who wanted to strike down the whole law, because if you think that some of Chief Justice Roberts' opinion is logically torturous, read the dissent on striking down the whole law. They plow through lots of precedent in order to do that. But not for the first time here.

The big-picture question -- not for the first time; George Will is right and Glenn Beck is wrong. This is a major --


MORAN: -- this is a very significant victory for conservatives. From now on, liberals who want to use the federal government in innovative and creative ways, unprecedented ways to solve problems are going to be playing defense at the Supreme Court.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, George, you and I were both struck by this article by Charles Lane in "The Washington Post," saying that this compromise that Justice Roberts fashioned is actually true to his deepest principles.

WILL: Exactly. Three things about Justice Roberts: he's not a fool, he's not a liberal and he's 57. He's going to be here for 20 more years, at least, through three or more presidencies. And he's going to be building upon new ways of circumscribing the latitude of Congress in particular, but the federal government in general.

DAVIS: Let me take issue with this idea that this is some kind of a closet victory for conservatives. The reality is that, yes, the Commerce Clause I suppose was strengthened. I guess theoretically, it's harder to pass mandates now. Politically, it's always going to be hard for Congress to pass mandates. If Republicans frankly --


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- a tax, isn't it?

DAVIS: Actually, it's not. Because what will happen in the future, especially if you're on the liberal Democratic side of the equation, it is always easy to say -- it's hard to tax people. It's not hard to tax companies. After Justice Roberts has pumped up the taxing clause, I can imagine a future Democratic administration saying let's scrap the corporate tax code, announce we'll have a corporate tax code that says we're going to have a 10 percent rate for companies who don't outsource and a 35 percent rate for companies that do. And you think of all kinds of examples.


DAVIS: That's the point. It would pass, and it would be an incredible intervention in the free market economy of this economy. So I think this idea that somehow Chief Justice Roberts has said we're going to cut down the Commerce Clause, the reality is -- there's a reason these mandates don't tend to happen (ph).

WILL: Most conservatives are much more frightened of an unlimited Commerce Clause than they are of a somewhat theoretically expanded taxing power. Just to give you one example, if this had been called a tax during the congressional debate on Obamacare, it would have fallen five or more Senate votes short of passage. Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu and a whole bunch of others would not have passed it.

DAVIS: Well, maybe, George. But I think the problem is, again, let's go back to the outsource example. I'm with George Stephanopoulos here. It will always be easy for Congress to go after certain industries and to distort the market by saying something that previously the court has not said.

You know, we have tax credits, but we have always had a principle of equal taxation. We have had a principle that companies pay a certain rate, individuals pay a certain rate. Well, now we're told that if the government dresses it up A principle that individuals pay if government dresses it up in terms of encouraging or dis-incenting certain conduct--

MORAN: They do that all the time. They tax gas guzzlers, they tax liquor, they tax alcohol, they tax tobacco. The tax code is used to shape behavior.

DAVIS: Stronger power now than it was before.

MORAN: Yes, it is, but this court will limit that.

DAVIS: Well, we don't necessarily know that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Keith, are you worried about the tax argument in the election? Now that Chief Justice Roberts has said firmly this is a tax. You already see the Republicans advertising on it.

OLBERMANN: Again, I think it's got to be a concern for the president that wasn't there before this terminology was used. But this was already such a huge issue in terms of this divide between people who are opposed to the Obamacare concept and yet support each aspect of it. It was already such a hot-button issue that had very little to do with the facts that I don't think this is going to be muddied further.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Is there anything, though, that the president needed -- to Artur's point about independent voters who have been skeptical of the law? Can he now use this?

OLBERMANN: Well, he can now point out that it did get the imprimatur of the Supreme Court, that's the easiest thing for people who are not in this the way we are, to understand. In addition, Governor Romney is now not only running against a program very similar -- everybody would have to admit it -- at least very similar to the one he engineered in Massachusetts. He's not only doing that, but he also has to say that he is opposed to the decision of somebody who was, until this week, perceived as a supremely -- no pun intended -- conservative chief justice. That can't be a win for him. He has two now insurmountable or nearly insurmountable problems when he only had one when the week began.

WILL: I think this probably helps Mitt Romney for three reasons. You have already seen him argue that to remove Obamacare, you have to remove Obama. That's key. Second, he said this is now -- we have a president who has imposed a substantial tax on the middle class in violation of his promises. But most important, the Romney campaign has been so far pretty much a one-trick pony -- the economy, the economy, the economy. This gives him an added repertoire to talk about.


BRAZILE: I don't think it helps Mitt Romney at all. Because, Keith is right, this was one of his signature issues as a governor in 2006 when he signed this into law in Massachusetts. Obamacare is Romneycare at a federal level. If it's a tax or a penalty in Massachusetts, well, it's a tax or a penalty, because the IRS, if you fail to obtain -- opt out of health insurance, then you'll be penalized. Look, tax is one of those -- the word tax is something politicians from both sides try to avoid. So maybe we should call it a penalty, call it something else.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You can't anymore, though.



BRAZILE: Don't tax me, don't tax you, tax that man behind the tree.


DAVIS: Before we get to the politics of it, here's the policy irony of all this. Defenders of this law are celebrating a victory on the mandate, which by their own estimate might affect 1 percent of the population. They're glossing over the ruling a few days ago which wipes out the Medicaid provisions. Here's where that's important -- 50 percent of the number of the reduction of the uninsured, the number that the administration says will be the new rate of the uninsured after this, 50 percent of that reduction would come from expanding Medicaid, making the states have to cover the newly expanded class, while the Supreme Court stripped that power away.

So, I have to say, there's a certain part of hypocrisy -

MORAN: But this is a crucial point. A law that is this big and this complex is going to require the confidence and the cooperation of the American people and the states. If you have a political agenda of massive resistance to it, which is what we're about to get, it will not work.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me say it works both ways.

DAVIS: A lot of people know, a lot of low-income people who believe, because of all the political arguments being spend them the last week, well, they think they've got coverage now. They're going to find that if they live in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, where their governors turn it down, they're not insured. Three years from now, they'll have less confidence in government.

WILL: And many will turn it down. Mr. Lew, a few months, said few will do this, turn it down. You're a governor and you're facing your state universities being pruned all across the board, you got a choice, do I expand Medicare, Medicaid rather, or do I protect my public universities? I think more governors are going to resist this.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You guys point out the resistance, Keith. I want to bring to you, the flip side, all of those popular provisions. Jack Lew and Vicki Kennedy talked about it. I think make it very difficult to see an actual repeal take hold even if Mitt Romney wins.

KEITH OLBERMANN: That's a very optimistic point of view. I think there's a lot to it. I think also --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't agree?

OLBERMANN: Well, I'm not sure because it's politics, I tend to be a little cynical about it. People will -- against their own interests, against the interests of the people in their states, as we've been discussing here, these governors will turn this money down even though it is 100 percent federal expenditure to begin with, and then a 90 percent federal expenditure. They'll still turn it down for the political victory.

WILL: I'm going to give you another focus of resistance. The chief justice said this is a tax not a penalty, because it's not sufficiently punitive. It's not sufficiently punitive because it's still a smart move to pay the tax, penalty, rather than the much more expensive decision of buying health care.

Therefore, Congress may soon find that it has to increase the -- that word again -- tax, to change this behavior and I don't see them doing that.

DAVIS: Isn't this more sticker shock? Again, four years ago, we heard that if you pass this legislation, premiums would go down. They've gone up and they're projected to go up 5 percent each year for the next seven years.

We heard two years ago, if you pass this legislation. the ranks of insured will disappear. Because these governors and many of these are going to turn down the Medicaid money, that's not going to happen. And we heard that long term this was going to end up reducing the deficit, no one believes that anymore.

BRAZILE: It will increase the deficit by $230 billion and full implementation will reduce the deficit over a ten-year period, because look, we only implemented just a few portions of the law. Many small business owners, like myself -- I mean, when we're able to go into the exchange, the marketplace, to find more affordable insurance for our employees, that's also going to bend down the cost of health care.

So, we're just looking at a few, what I call very important and very popular pieces that have been implemented. But let's look at it when the implementation happens in 2014.

MORAN: And there's something that better than nothing. The Democrats can stand up now and say never again, under this law, will an insurance company be able to deny you or your loved one coverage for pre-existing conditions, or cut you off because you're too sick. They were against it and they don't have a plan to fix it.

OLBERMANN: And it speaks to something fundamental about the nature of any government. We all agree, conservative, liberal, everybody in between, that the primary function of any government is to protect its citizens. We usually think about this in terms of the Department of Defense.

It now becomes, as the world situation becomes more secure, in many respects more secure the primary part of that is what happens in hospitals? If you've ever spent a lot of time in hospitals, with people and talk to people in waiting times as I did when my dad was sick for seven months in the surgical ICU, I saw everybody in that hospital. I saw patients, I saw families trying to decide whether or not they could afford he same care that my dad as a vet got for $800.

And anything that moves the ball towards this primary role of our government protecting its citizens will be viewed in a generic sense and in a general sense, as a positive thing. And those who stand against it will probably suffer if not in the short term but the long term.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to move on to another point right here, before we go on to some other issues. In the interest of fairness, we were pretty tough, not everyone here on our roundtable, on Donald Verrilli, the solicitor general, after the oral arguments.

He clearly took it heart. Watch this at the Columbia Law School commencement.


DONALD VERRILLI, U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: Let me just say on that point, that if people say that there's no such thing as bad publicity, have no idea what they're talking about. There is definitely bad publicity -- being on the wrong end of a Jon Stewart monologue is bad publicity, especially when you're the solicitor general.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or Keith monologue.

STEPHANOPOULOS: George Will, in the end, Chief Justice Roberts took the lifeline that Donald Verrilli gave him.

WILL: Yes, he did. It's a lifetime that was extended a long time ago Harlan Stone, to Frances Perkins. They were trying to figure out, in late December 1934, how to fund Social Security and to make it constitutional. At that tea held Wednesday afternoon in Stone's house, he leaned over to Frances Perkins and whispered in her ear, "It's the federal taxing power."


WILL: Before leaving this subject, though, while we're in the midst of this liberal celebration of John Roberts, let me say the following then: prophecy is optional folly but I'm going to commit it.

One year from right now, after the next term of the Supreme Court, we are going to be talking about the Roberts' court having overturned a racial preferential system in Texas -- admission at a University of Texas, across their entire system, overturning Section V of the Voting Rights Act of 1964 as anachronistic infringement of American federalism, and overturning and further deregulating American politics in the spirit of that wonderful decision Citizens United.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You agree with that?

MORAN: I do. He's playing the long game here. Those are the issues that he personally as a justice cares about. When issues of affirmative action and racial preferences come up, you hear John Roberts get an edge in his voice.


WILL: The sort of business of divvying us up by race.

BRAZILE: Before this week, his legacy was Citizens United.


BRAZILE: And I will always take a dim view of Justice Roberts. But this is one progressive that's not there.

DAVIS: Let me slip in here for a moment, I'm not as confident, Terry, as you and George are on what John Roberts is going to do with any of these cases for a very simple reason. John Roberts exposed this week that he's very attentive to elite public opinion in Washington, D.C. and the attentiveness to elite public opinion is going to pull him up on affirmative action the way it did Sandra Day O'Connor. It's going to constrain him on the Voting Rights Act.

The reality is, we don't know, and I guess but we should know because these guys and ladies are supposed to be reading opinions and listening to the arguments and being independents.

But the reality is for conservatives this week, underscores a point, conservatives are not going to prosper putting their confidence in courts. Conservatives have to put their confidence in grassroots and the public and in winning --

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to weigh in here. Because I think the answer to you comes from John Roberts himself in his senior thesis about Daniel Webster quoted by Charles Lane where he said that the man of character did not fight in the thick of political battles but rather raised himself above the conflicts and still through dispassionate compromise. That's the value that he showed. He was acting on this week.

George, I want to add one more piece to your litany, what about gay marriage? I wonder if Justice Kennedy sticking with the conservatives this time around on health care means he will free himself up to approve gay marriage?

WILL: It could be. Justice Kennedy, I think, is much more understood. Because he's sometimes there and sometimes there, people say he's somehow squishy or unprincipled. I think he's driven in both directions by a constant compass and that is he's a libertarian. And the libertarian dimension of him may cause him to be the fifth vote, it won't be sixth, the fifth vote for gay marriage.

DAVIS: Underscoring the point, conservatives are wrong to depend on courts. You've got to go to public opinion when the argument is on public opinion, which is happening by the way in 36 states on gay marriage and it's happening by the way in the context of health care. The argument of public discourse is being won by conservatives.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I want to get one other issue before we go, and that was this outsourcing debate that we referenced already. Both sides advertising on it right now in the battleground states.


NARRATOR: Romney's companies were pioneers in shipping U.S. jobs overseas, investing in firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries, like China and India.

Does Iowa really want an outsourcer-in-chief in the White House?

NARRATOR: Barack Obama's attacks against Mitt Romney, they're just not true. But that's Barack Obama. He also attacked Hillary Clinton with vicious lies.



STEPHANOPOULOS: Not the last time we're going to see that.

And Keith, Democrats have been definitely making headway in this argument. You see that in the polling, but Romney is fighting back hard. And I want to quote -- has weighed in and said they found no evidence that Bain shipped jobs overseas while Romney was in charge.

OLBERMANN: Well, we would of course have a much cleaner and more enjoyable political system if were in charge of everybody's campaign, but it's not likely to happen.

I'm going to read a tweet from an unusual source this morning that may say something about all of this. Mitt Romney last week, "tough o for Obama, Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros. Doubtful." I'm quoting Rupert Murdoch. Which is by the way, it's rather unusual for me.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What was that about? What precipitated that?

OLBERMANN: If you read his tweets, you'd know there's no telling what precipitates his tweets. But it speaks to a perception. And I don't know how far it is, I'm not a business analyst. I don't know if Mr. Romney did good things at Bain Capital. But I do know that this is the wrong time to be running as a businessman. It's become something of a dirty word.

MORAN: This kind of businessman in particular. It speaks to a deeper anxiety out there. One of the things the Obama campaign is trying to do is put the entire era of hyperfinance that we have lived through on trial. And a question that Samuel Huntington, the late Samuel Huntington asked, where are the loyalties of the people at the top of American capitalism today? Are their commitments to the local communities or to their counterparts in Germany and Hong Kong and elsewhere? And that is a real question.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Thirty seconds left.

WILL: Peter Hart, a very wise and seasoned Democratic poll taker says if you go back to every election since the Second World War, starting with Truman, with the exception of Nixon, the winner in every election is the most likable. So the question is not whether the outsourcing is valid, is good economics, the question is, does it make Mr. Romney less than approachable and friendly?

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's a big challenge coming up. We're going to talk about it more in coming weeks. Thank you all, that was a fantastic roundtable.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

'This Week With George Stephanopoulos'
Video via ABC: part 1, part 2
video 'podcast'
Bonus post-show blog from Keith


KIMMEL: Eleven Secret Service men are being investigated. So far, one has been fired, one resigned, one retired, and the rest are thinking about leaving just because the party is over.


It used to be a fun job.

O'BRIEN: President Obama has created a new series of ads aimed at Latinos. Yes, the first ad boasts that, just last week, my Secret Service created jobs for 11 Colombian women.


COLBERT: This is clearly the president's fault. We all know it's the job of the president to protect the Secret Service. I mean, where the hell was he when those prostitutes came at them?



STEPHANOPOULOS: Late-night comics had their fun. Now it's time now for the roundtable to weigh in. We're joined by George Will, as always, Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, Matthew Dowd, Donna Brazile, and for the first time, Keith Olbermann joins the "This Week" roundtable.


OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, George, let's start out with the Secret Service. I think this shocked an awful lot of people when this first came out. How surprised were you? And how serious is it?

WILL: Well, it's quite serious, because it's apt to be the tip of an iceberg. The chances that this is the first time something like this has happened is small. It's part, I think, George, of the security mania we have that surrounds the president, that the Secret Service is largely undisciplined, because no one wants to say, "There's not quite enough security," at any given time.

I'll tell you a small story. When the president came to my house, president-elect, for dinner a week before his inauguration, some neighbors across the street, father, mother, 12-year-old son, came out on their yard. The Secret Service ordered them off their yard and into their house. Now, how they get away with this, I do not know, but the fact is, they're used to getting away with things.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's interesting. And there are so many people on the president's detail that actually this detail had a lot of time on their hands, it turned out, as well. Now, Peggy, you've written this week in the Wall Street Journal that this is a sign of a more general American character crisis.

NOONAN: Yeah, you look at the stories of the past week, GSA and that scandal which we'll get to, the Secret Service, various other ones, you have to wonder what is going on with those adults in serious, responsible, publicly-paid-for positions, who have, it seems to me, less and less of a sense of probity, responsibility, the sort of basic adultness and maintaining of standards that we ought to be used to. It seems to me we've got a big slip going on there and these two stories are part of it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Donna, talk about over-sharing. That agent on Facebook, checking out Sarah Palin? That was a couple years ago now.

BRAZILE: It's appalling, George, and I think it speaks to the character of these individuals. And I don't think -- as someone who's been around Secret Service agents for 30 years -- and I can tell you this -- I've never seen this kind of conduct. These are the best of the best. They are trained to watch everything, to know everything, to protect the president and other officials.

And so I think, you know, in this investigation hopefully we'll get to the bottom of it. We might find that this is just a few individuals, a few rotten apples, but I think it is a good agency, and we should try to uphold the values that they all, you know, share.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Keith, we all learned the phrase "wheels up, rings off" this week, but like Donna, I'm surprised, as well. All my experience with the Secret Service, never got a hint of anything like this.

OLBERMANN: Do you think there's -- perhaps there's a pressure building on them? Obviously, as Peggy suggested, they were almost viewed as priests, at least in a philosophical sense. And yet we have in this country, particularly the idea of the conference and the road trip, and ballplayers going on the road, and the rings come off, and this idea of being away from home. The advertising campaign for Vegas, which touches on the GSA, which is what happens there stays there. There seems to be this dynamic, this conflict between these two things. Are they priests? Or are they supposed to represent this macho side and take advantage of what the opportunities presented to them?

NOONAN: I have wondered if there's not in our society now a general reluctance to be mature, to be the one who's uncool, to be the one who -- in an almost throwback way, holds up standards, sort of reluctance to leave youth behind and immaturity. And it's sort of cool to act wacky and to act out in ways that aren't so good, and that's not good. Someone's got to be the grown-up.

DOWD: Well, to me, there's a couple of things about this. First, the hair-trigger reaction to all of a sudden any scandal, any hint of anything, anything -- because all of a sudden Sarah Palin blames it on Barack Obama, he's not a competent leader, I think is just totally ridiculous. The idea that some lower-level Secret Service guys performed very badly and did something very bad doesn't really say anything to me about the president. You can blame a president for a lot of things. I think you can't blame it for.

But for me, looking at this situation, is we've lost faith in every single -- the American public has lost faith in every single institution in this country. They have lost faith in sporting institutions in this country because of many different scandals. They've lost faith in the government. They've lost faith in both political parties.

STEPHANOPOULOS: All of us, the media.

DOWD: They've lost faith in corporate institutions. They've lost faith in the media. And so they see a scandal like this, they watch this scandal, they roll their eyes, and they say, you know, this is just an ongoing thing. Nobody's willing to fix Washington. Nobody's willing to fix the crisis of the institutional faith that we've lost in here. And this to me is just another example of the American public saying, listen, I don't trust any of you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And the phrase in National Journal this week, "In nothing we trust."

WILL: Exactly. Now, it is unfair to blame Barack Obama for the GSA or any of these things, because although people think he controls the executive branch, no one controls the executive branch. That's part of the problem with big government is that there's no leash strong enough to hold it.

But beyond that, this is going to have a political ramification, because the party in power believes that the federal government needs more money, should control our lives more, should be trusted with more and more of the gross national product of the country, whereas what you see with the GSA is there are few pleasures as intense as spending other people's money. That's why people run for Congress.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Another potential political fallout -- Donna, let me bring this to you -- is that, you know, back in 2008, President Obama was the candidate of changing business as usual in Washington. That is one of the places right now where Mitt Romney has an advantage on the president.

BRAZILE: It is. But, first of all, Mitt Romney has some disadvantages. And the advantage is, of course, he's not a Washington insider. The disadvantage, of course, is that people, majority of people are still trying to figure out who he is and if they like him.

You know, as a former government employee, I'm always -- George, I started at the bottom, so don't -- don't -- don't start, you know, typecasting me right now. It's too early. But, you know, as a former government employee, many of us who worked in the government, it was for the common good, to serve the public. We knew we were public servants.

Once again, I don't think we should judge everybody, throw out the baby with the bathwater and to treat these government employees -- they protect our lives. They protect our food. They protect us in the air. And we have a few rotten apples, just like we have a few rotten apples in sports, in the church, and everywhere else. It's an opportunity for the president to show that he's cleaning house. Back in September '11, he ordered the GSA and other agencies to look for waste and fraud. Maybe we'll learn a lot in the coming days.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Keith, again, to pick up, though, on that point, does it blow back on those who are argue that government is a force for good, complicate the argument?

OLBERMANN: Well, if you're going to -- if you're going to extrapolate from these two scandals to the entirety of government I think is a mistake. First off, GSA has been a problem for a long time, not just under this presidential administration. As many people have pointed out, with the Secret Service scandal in Colombia, is it possible that this was suddenly the idea of six, 10, a dozen agents for the first time, they said, "On this trip, let's go and do this"?

If we have that -- the one value of what Governor Palin pointed out was that the -- sort of degrading of the code of the Secret Service began late in 2008, early in 2009...

STEPHANOPOULOS: At the earliest.

OLBERMANN: So it doesn't -- it has some indicative value. But I don't know that it indicates necessarily a growth or a decrease in the quality of the government.

NOONAN: I would say one of the things that -- that is not good for the president about the GSA scandal is that the U.S. government has been spending a lot since 2009, since before that, of course, but we've been spending a lot the past few years. You would think the word would go out from the White House, guys, we got lot of money sloshing through the system. Be serious about this. Don't go crazy. You have to go by the rules.

Do you know what I mean? You have to communicate a certain maturity, I guess, about how the money is spent and what you're doing. That was never -- it seems to me -- communicated. Watch out what you're doing with the taxpayer money.

DOWD: Well, to me -- to me, both political parties -- for the last 20 years, both political parties -- the only difference between both political parties today is one says cut taxes and grow government, the other one says increase taxes and grow government. Both of them are saying -- both of them are growing government.

Whatever the pace happens to be during -- I worked for President Bush -- during President Bush's presidency, the level of government grew, though we didn't fund as well as it should have been, because taxes were cut, and that I think is one of the problems that we have is nobody -- or very few people are willing to tell the American public that we have to do two things here.

And if we're going to restore faith and trust in government -- and it's -- one of the faults I have with President Obama, who I greatly respect, is that he came into office, and one of the major things we had is people did not have faith and trust that the government could effectively, efficiently do their job. And what he did immediately was grow the size of government without ensuring that it was going to do its job effectively.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I take that point. Isn't there a little bit of a danger that people begin to believe that if you just did away with these conferences, it might solve the problem of government spending?

DOWD: The GSA conferences?


DOWD: Well, I think part of what you have to do as a leader is symbolic. Well, one thing you have to do is real actions and the other thing you have to do is symbolic actions. Leaders have to do both of those actions. I think getting away with those conferences would be a good idea. But the fundamental problem is that we do not have a government that's operating effectively or efficiently, no matter how great the people in the organization are.

WILL: The money spent on that Las Vegas conference was a rounding error on the Solyndra investment, as we now call them these days, and other green job investments. Peggy, you say, why aren't we communicating the message, be careful with money? Because government doesn't exist to be careful with money that it takes from other people.

BRAZILE: And let us not get into military contracts. Let us not get into the abuses that we've seen with federal spending on our, you know, so-called, you know, war on terrorism. I mean, there's so much that we can put on the table if we want to talk about, you know, the billions of dollars spent over there or the billions of dollars being spent on conferences here in this country.

Look, this president put out an executive order. And as a result of it, he's been able to eliminate many of these conferences and to try to rein in much of the federal waste and abuse. But you cannot -- as you know, George, and everyone around his here -- we can't change Washington overnight. That culture is embedded.

NOONAN: But there is something new in this. Scandals of this sort of -- spending sort of scandals used to be sort of quiet, hush-hush. You needed investigators to find it. And then you -- this was out in public with everybody bragging about wasting taxpayer money. That's what was different.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to have to take a quick break. Lots more to come from our roundtable. The dog wars, will the silliness have serious consequences?


LETTERMAN: You know, Mitt Romney, whenever he travels, he puts the dog on the roof of the car. Do we have -- do we have footage of that? Here, right there. This is the last act. Now there's Mitt. Hey, hey, hey.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Political junkies, perennial parlor game, who will win Romney's veepstakes?


(UNKNOWN): If asked, will you say no?

(UNKNOWN): Yeah, I don't want to be the vice president right now.

(UNKNOWN): So maybe ever?

(UNKNOWN): If Mitt Romney asks, you would say no?

(UNKNOWN): Yes. But you know (inaudible) he's watching this interview, so he'll know.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And Fenway celebrates a big birthday, a perfect game for the White Sox, and we celebrate the new season with two of America's best baseball minds.



KIMMEL: I still don't think they meant any harm. The dog is probably saying, "Roof," and they thought he said -- you know, there was a misunderstanding.

SAWYER: Would you do it again?

ROMNEY: Certainly not with the attention this received.

O'BRIEN: Conservatives are now criticizing President Obama because as a child in Indonesia, Obama sometimes ate dog meat. But on the plus side, Obama is now polling very well among cats.

CARNEY: I think we're talking about a reference in his book to a period when he was 6 or 7 years old. Making a big deal out of it sounds like somebody who's trying to get out of the dog house on something.

ROMNEY: You know, I think this campaign is going to ultimately become about jobs, not dogs.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Pretty safe prediction from Mitt Romney. Back with our roundtable right now.

And, George Will, I want to come to you, but, first, a little piece of history. Let's put up that picture we have of Lyndon Johnson. There he is holding up his beagle, him by the ears. He got a whole bunch of outcry from dog lovers at that time. It seemed to go away. So this is not the first time something like this has come up, but there does seem to be a skirmish like this on something pretty silly every single week of this young campaign.

WILL: The campaign's not young. That's the problem. The horse race is over, and the sugar rush that the media got from that is gone, and therefore they're looking for something to keep their mind off, I guess, big questions.

But there are big things out there. I mean, the New York Times-CBS poll this week asked the question, will the future be better for the next generation or worse? Twenty-four percent said better, forty-seven -- almost double -- said worse. That's dynamite. And we ought to be talking about that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's what -- why the president is in such a close race right now. So much of this, Keith -- I know you're big on Twitter -- so much of this is happening (inaudible) this is the first campaign where you've got both campaigns completely engaged on this instant messaging.

OLBERMANN: Well, first off, it is the proverbial man bites dog story coming to pass, finally. But when you think about this, every time a Republican is accused of something, the strategy has been for the last 5, 10 years, to try to find something that is similar to it or contains the same keyword, such as "dog," something that will instantaneously neuter and counter...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Isn't that just politics generally?

OLBERMANN: ... effect what happened -- but your point is where I'm going, that it is now one week, and it is whatever you find. And almost every point that is made on one side must be countered by something similar on the other. This admission by the president that he ate dog meat as a child is in a book that he published in 1995. There has been no umbrage about this for 16 or 17 years. And the question then becomes, you know, if you want to go back to the next round of this, were Republicans pro-dog meat eating until they discussed this clip in the book? It raises the level of absurdity to something exponential.

And George's point is exactly right. With so many valuable questions going on, we're wasting most of the time dealing with the dogs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What does this tell you?

NOONAN: Oh, I think, part -- a small part of this, the small issues we all get carried away with is that there are literally thousands of people in the United States now who are employed to cover these campaigns minute by minute and they need something to say. And they say it on Twitter and in other places. And so it's dogs today. It'll be cats tomorrow.

DOWD: To me, it's -- I know we like to say the media does this, but part of the problem is, is that we have an infrastructure in the campaigns -- many of us have been involved in campaigns -- what we have now today is very different than it was 12 or 15 years ago. I know the creation of the war room, and we're going to have rapid response and all that, but because of the onset of the Internet and the media and all that, you now have an infrastructure in campaigns, a lot of young people, a lot of people who make their stake in it by saying, "I'm going to one-up this. Oh, I found this thing. Oh, I'm going to do this. Oh, I'm going to tweet this. Oh, I'm going to get Sarah Palin to say this. Oh, I'm going to do this."

And so instead of a group of people saying, how are we going to conduct a campaign that in the aftermath we can govern properly, it's all about, what can I show my bosses and the people that day?

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, that is an excellent point. Donna, it makes me feel old, but you and I worked together in 1988, and the -- the Dukakis rapid-response room had one of those old A.P. tickers.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That was how we got the news.

BRAZILE: Absolutely.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I mean, we'd have no idea of an Internet, MSNBC, Fox, nothing. This is all brand new.

BRAZILE: I agree. And, George, I remember, you would hand me my talking points, and I was supposed to read off them, and some days I did not read the script.

But, you know, perhaps this is about setting the narrative for the fall. And we all know that, during the summer months, the campaigns must pivot. They have to, you know, rebuild their infrastructure, in terms of their ground game, and begin to think about how they reintroduce themselves to the independents and all of the non-aligned voters.

And for Mitt Romney, I'm sure the reason why they reacted so quickly to bring up the dog meat episode, which, by the way, I grew up in Louisiana. My mother used to tell us, don't focus on the species, think about the recipe, and that was one bit of advice I didn't follow from my mother.


In full disclosure, I did not listen to her. Well, it's true. I have been known to know people can cook that stuff, too.

OLBERMANN: If you've ever bought anything on the streets of New York, the odds are pretty good, too.

BRAZILE: But this is a narrative. And for Mitt Romney, he has to be concerned about the Seamus scandal because it might fit into this narrative that perhaps he's not like us. I mean, look at the other day, he went to the cookie shop and said to the hostess, "Did you bake those cookies?" You know, most politicians just start eating and not talk about, well, what's in them?

But, you know, so and I think for President Obama, he has to be careful, too, when he -- when the campaign or whoever raises these things in a social network might come back to bite him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And part of the reason they both have to be careful, George, going to your first point, all of the polling right now, let's put up some of the -- what we've seen so far. Some outliers showing the president way ahead; some showing Mitt Romney ahead. But basically you've got all these polls showing a race inside the margin of error. The president may be a three-point advantage.

WILL: In 2008, Barack Obama had all the winds at his back, African-American, we were eager to put that behind us, the Republicans had pretty much disgraced themselves at home and abroad for eight years, in the view of some of us. Economic meltdown, implausible 72-year-old warrior nominated by the Republicans, really implausible running mate, everything going for Barack Obama, he gets slightly under 53 percent of the vote.

Question. Democratic Party's the oldest political party in the world. Only three Democrats have ever gotten more than 53 percent of the vote, Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson. There's something about the Democratic coalition that limits that. Because Barack Obama could be all things to all people in 2008 and can't anymore, the reasonable assumption is he's going to get less than 52.8, which is exactly what he got last time.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So that's guaranteed, isn't it?

WILL: Of course. So it's going to be a very tight race.

DOWD: Well, you know, this so much reminds me -- and having been very involved in it in 2004 -- and the numbers are almost exactly the way they were in 2004 as they are today. President Obama's approval rating is right close to 50, 49, 48 percent. He's got roughly maybe a 4-, 5-, 6-point advantage. It's exactly where George Bush was in 2004, exactly where he was.

And one of the things that we constantly had to worry about -- and I remember eight years ago this month was Abu Ghraib. The scandal broke in the midst of all this, felt very similar, not like the Secret Service, but you understand -- like you can't be responsible for, but stuff happens on your watch.

But -- and now we have, interestingly enough, an incumbent president in the same position running against somebody from Massachusetts who has a problem with authenticity, just like that. And to me, my guess is President Obama's campaign team, David Axelrod, all the very smart people, have watched that, looked at that, and it's a very similar pattern to 2004.

And I remember, I was in a meeting in 2004, in April or May, and I basically -- people were saying, oh, we're going to win by a huge amount, we're going to do this and this, and I basically said, listen, if we win this race, it's going be a two- or three-point race. The same is true today. This is going to be a two- or three-point race. It's going to be back and forth. But it's a lot like 2004.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And when you're the president, Keith, a lot more can go wrong than can go right.

OLBERMANN: But this is a question I wanted to ask to Matt about that. What was -- what was President Bush's likability at this point in '04? Because the -- hidden in all of these -- these a new day, a new poll was this Quinnipiac number that indicated that Romney's likability was 63 percent and Obama's was 81 percent. That's a pretty strong number and a pretty big difference, isn't it?

DOWD: President Bush's numbers was very much the same. And one of the things that we thought that I think is important to know is, people will fire somebody that they like. If they believe they're incompetent, they will fire somebody. So I think Mitt Romney's strategy is not to make people dislike Barack Obama. It's to make people believe you can like him, but you can fire him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me flip that around to Peggy Noonan. But will they hire someone they don't like, and that is Mitt Romney's problem right now?

NOONAN: I see it a little more the way Matt does with regard to Romney. I think this election is about President Obama and whether or not you want to rehire him, renew his contract for the next four years. That means you're saying, did I like the previous four years? I'm going to go yea or nay on that.

From that, you go to, is this man running against him a plausible figure who looks like he'll be better? That's I think all that it comes down to, not the little stuff like cookies and what you say in the bakery shop. And it reminded me a little bit of George H.W. Bush. People were spoofing him for saying -- they asked him if he wanted more coffee in a diner, and he said, "Just a splash." And everyone cracked up, because he was so out of touch, and it was so elitist, but at the end of the day, I think it is about renewing a contract yea or nay.

WILL: And that brings up 2004. If Barack Obama holds the states that John Kerry won in 2004, but loses New Hampshire, because he's a little underwater there, but adds to the Kerry coalition New Mexico, Colorado, and Virginia, the result is Barack Obama 269 electoral votes, Romney 269 electoral votes, and the House of Representatives picks the president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Donna, that brings you back to 2000, right?

BRAZILE: It's too early for heart burn. Look, likability is a major factor, and I think that will in large part help President Obama turn out the people who came out in record numbers in 2008. Look, for Mitt Romney to win, he has to break into President Obama's numbers with independents and might have a case of doing that with the economy. If the economy stalls, nobody wants that to happen, but Hispanics -- and he has to find a way to pivot with Hispanic voters to attract some of them. And then the last is women. He still has a women's problem.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let me bring that into what I wanted to get to next, and that is the veepstakes. Mitt Romney did open up his formal process this week, named a woman, his long-time aide, loyal aide Beth Myers to run it. And our early reporting from Jon Karl, our congressional reporter, showed that Jeb Bush could have been at the top of Mitt Romney's list. That was a surprise to me. And Bush at first seemed to open the door to it.


J. BUSH: Well, I would -- I'd consider it, but I doubt I'll get a call, and I don't know if it's the right thing for me to do. I didn't run for president for similar kind of reasons.


STEPHANOPOULOS: He shut down that quickly yesterday, saying it's not going to happen. He knew that got out of control. He wants Marco Rubio. And here's another surprise. Marco Rubio has consistency said didn't want, would not be vice president, but listen to this.

RUBIO: Three, four, five, six, seven years from now, if I do a good job as vice president -- I'm sorry.


(UNKNOWN): You guys all got that, right?

RUBIO: ... as a senator...

(UNKNOWN): You all got that, right?

RUBIO: If I do a good job as a senator instead of vice president, I'll have a chance to do -- I'll have a chance to do all sort of things.


STEPHANOPOULOS: How was that for a Freudian slip, George Will? This morning, Rubio says he's not going to talk about it anymore, but he thinks Jeb Bush is the right choice.

WILL: If Jeb Bush is to be Romney's running mate, it would mean that in seven of nine presidential elections there would be a Bush on the Republican ticket. And it gets hard to argue that we're not a tribal society at that point.

The fact, George, it's very hard to find any election other than 1960 where Lyndon Johnson made Kennedy president where this mattered. And even carrying a state -- in the 16 elections since the Second World War, in 10 of them, a vice presidential running mate has failed to carry his or her state. Take -- again, 2004. Kerry says I'll take a run at North Carolina, he picks John Edwards, he loses North Carolina by 13 points.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what a fall. John Edwards goes on trial tomorrow in North Carolina.

DOWD: And to me, the way to look at this is everybody says we're going to solve a geographic problem with a VP pick or a demographic problem to me. I think those are folly. It's folly to think that you're going to solve either one of those with the VP pick.

I think the important thing, if I were Mitt Romney -- and Beth Myers, who I know is very competent -- if I were them, I'd be looking at somebody to pick to reinforce a value that you want to convey in this election. It's some level of competence, I'm the adult in the room, you may not like us, but we're going to manage the government, we're going to do things right. They need to find somebody in my view that reinforces that, no matter where they're from.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Peggy, that's leading a lot of people to think that could be Rob Portman, senator from Ohio, former trade representative. He's got a little bit of a business background.

NOONAN: Yeah, former trade rep, former OMB, I think six or seven terms in the Congress, U.S. senator. Yeah, this would be a wonderful time to pick someone fully adult and accomplished. There are luckily a number of them on the Republican side who would be possible. Mitch Daniels is one, Rob Portman. I think Mr. Romney should not try to be -- should not try to electrify and go outside the system.

DOWD: No game-change. No game-change.

NOONAN: No game-change. Pick somebody new, someone you've never heard of. We've done that one twice in my lifetime, Mr. Quayle, Ms. Palin. Don't do that again. Underscore who you want to be, serious.

OLBERMANN: Do -- do you really want a second businessman on that ticket, though, in light of the -- if it's not a majority view, it's a very large view right now that business has never been viewed less favorably in this country since they ran Jay Gould out of town.

NOONAN: Oh, my goodness.

OLBERMANN: Portman and Romney together?

NOONAN: Yeah, that would be just fine, I think. There is a lot of people who think businessmen create businesses which create jobs.

OLBERMANN: But what about -- but what about running a government?

NOONAN: Well -- well, I think people are awfully mad at Wall Street, and they're awful mad at certain types of finaglers in business, but they're not mad at businessmen who...

DOWD: Keith is right about one thing, though. I think if you have some -- reinforce with some corporate tycoons or some Wall Street thing that are so disconnected from the society, if you're going to have a businessman, I would just as soon pick somebody that owned a hardware store...


DOWD: ... or a dry cleaner or something like that, not another corporate tycoon.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Paul Ryan's business has a construction business.

BRAZILE: You know, George, I would pick George Will, because he's a reliable, consistent conservative. I've known George for many, many years. He could stand up to the scrutiny, and he's solid on all of those things that matters to conservatives. Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What are you going to do with that endorsement, George?

WILL: I would pick someone 30 years younger than I am, which is Paul Ryan or Bobby Jindal, who's been a governor. I think Mr. Romney needs some kind of excitement, that is, go young, go conservative, and go someone who's so deeply in the weeds on the entitlement crisis that the country's having, and, finally, look forward to, say, Paul Ryan debating Joe Biden.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk a little bit more about the economy. Gas prices are starting to come down this week, but the president wanted to show he's on top of it, saying he's prepared to crack down on speculators.


OBAMA: My administration will take new executive actions to better analyze and investigate trading activities in energy markets and more quickly implement the tough consumer protections under Wall Street reform. None of these steps by themselves will bring gas prices down overnight, but it will prevent market manipulation and make sure we're looking out for American consumers.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Keith, the president did made a concession there. The problem is they actually hadn't been able to come up with any evidence that speculation was driving up the price. There's a lot of hunches, no hard evidence.

OLBERMANN: Yeah. One of the -- one of the things I turned to, to try to establish that was to look at the average gas price at various key moments, and the lowest price in the last six years, the nadir of gas prices at the pump, was the day of this president's inauguration in 2009. There has to be some connection between that being the least busy political moment of a president's career, where you're not going to -- you're not going to hurt them, you're not going to harm him that way, and the price of gas. There has to be an almost deliberate or at least a side effect quality to that. There must be.

WILL: We have a president who believes, because he says so, that ATMs and airport ticket kiosks cause unemployment. So that gives you some sense of his grasp of how the economy works.

George, in Washington a few days ago, a local radio station sent a man out to interview irate people at gas pumps. She's talking to a woman who says, "I'm furious." She says, "Who are you furious at?" She says, "Speculators." She said, "My car still had half-a-tank of gas in it, but I'm topping it off because I think the price of gas is going up," said the woman who is a speculator. That's what we do.


DOWD: To me, the gas prices thing and the whole thing over that is -- is a reinforcement to the American public, unfortunately, our politicians constantly say, here's what I'm going to do for you. I'm going to lower gas prices, whether it's a Republican who says I'm going to do it this way or a Democrat says it, and then all of a sudden the gas prices don't go down.

Then all of a sudden, they're not having it -- they don't get a job. I can get you a job, you don't have a job. And I don't think that where we are with gas prices -- there is very few things you can do around the edges, but the gas situation is a global -- a global problem. It has to do with India. It has to do with China. It has to do with a lot of things.

But part of the thing is, we keep promising the American public, "I'm going to fix your problem, I'm going to do this for you," and then when we don't, because we can't, they lose faith and trust in the American government again.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, it's an excellent point, but, Donna, then how does the president walk the line? How do you empathize with people without over-promising?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, you put forward a proposal and you say, look, I'm trying to lower gas prices. I've come up with a proposal that will end all of this speculation, that will put more feds to ensure that people are not driving up the gas prices because of capital investments.

The truth is, is that the president can't control gas prices. I come from a petroleum-producing state, and we can drill all day, we can pump all day, and, by the way, it's two-year anniversary of the BP oil spill, and I'm still worried about marine life in the gulf.

But the fact is, is that this is out of his control, but he has to show the American people that he's doing everything possible to manage gas prices.

WILL: But there's something about our obsession with the imperial presidency -- it's true in both parties -- that says nothing's out of our control. After all, Mr. Obama, the night he clinched the nomination, said this will be the moment when the rise of the seas stop. Well, if he can stop the seas from rising, why can't he bring down the gas prices?

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president can admit that everything's out of control.

NOONAN: Can he admit it? No. But...

WILL: Why not?

NOONAN: But I think...

WILL: It's true.

NOONAN: Well...


BRAZILE: Production is up, and still gas prices continue to fluctuate.

WILL: Presidents would be...

NOONAN: Yeah, but something like the -- the pipeline comes through, the Keystone pipeline, he can make a decision that can be helpful or not helpful. I don't think it -- it helps if he just says, oh, my gosh, everything is beyond my abilities. He could seriously back some proposals that might be helpful.

WILL: But that's what we need, surely, is a president who will look the American people in the eye and say, you know, there's an awful lot in this complicated world government can't do a darn thing about. And they...


NOONAN: ... government itself can't do everything, but he can do a few things.

DOWD: The best thing a president can day which many of the last presidents have not done is that they can change and they can affect the psyche and the confidence of the American public. And part of the problem that Mitt Romney has -- I don't really think it matters a VP pick. He ought to spend a lot of time figuring out, what's his vision? And does he want to present to the American public?

And Barack Obama ought to quit going all these little small-ball things and blaming the Republicans and figure out a way to re-instill the confidence of the American people so they can change it, so they can affect it, so they can deal with it, so they feel better about their life. That's the biggest thing he can do, is change the psyche of the American public.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And it's an uphill fight, because you got two-thirds of the country saying we're going on the wrong track. We only got a couple minutes left before you guys go. I want to get to baseball. Three weeks into the season, big day at Fenway on Friday, 100th birthday at Fenway, and yesterday a perfect game, only the 21st in baseball's history, from Phil Humber of the Chicago White Sox.

George, I guess I'll come to you first. Wrigley is right behind Fenway. Is that -- there it is. Your Cubs aren't doing any better than the Red Sox.

WILL: The good news is, the Cubs are in midseason form. The bad news is the same thing. Wrigley Field is two years younger. After that, the oldest ballpark in baseball is Dodger Stadium, 1962. But one of baseball's great strengths is, it's only the sport that can say, "We were here 100 years ago." There were Civil War veterans watching games in Fenway Park. Baseball has a sweep of American history that no sport can rival.

OLBERMANN: This tension over the decades between tearing down our past in baseball or continuing it -- Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, legendary memory, evocative of Jackie Robinson and all that's great with the game, was built a year after Fenway Park and has been gone for 52 years. Fenway Park, you'll remember this very well, we both fought against it, the ownership of the Boston Red Sox in the late 1990s was trying to tear it down. There is always this tension. Fortunately, I think the thing has swung the other way, because this week we also had a 50-year-old pitcher win a game, only the second time in baseball history. Fortunately, that pendulum has swung back towards recognizing that the history is a vital part of this game.

WILL: We conservatives are always told, "You can't turn the clock back." You can turn it back. We've done it with -- beginning with Camden Yards and all the other retro ballparks. They said the past was better. Words to live by.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Before we go, quickly, who's got the best chance this year?

OLBERMANN: I like the Tampa Bay Rays. I know that's not a trendy pick, but I think it's a balanced organization.

STEPHANOPOULOS: George, your Nationals are doing pretty well.

WILL: Nationals are doing well, but it's April. Texas Rangers are the team to fear right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you all very much. Terrific roundtable today. I really appreciate it.

Post-show blog:

Keith Olbermann: Notes On An Envelope

Somebody told me once that it was always fine to take a few notes with you anywhere you went (anywhere, that is, except a school exam) provided they fit on either side of a regular legal-sized envelope. It was accordingly reassuring to see the regular panelists – who so graciously literally gave me a seat at the table this morning – polishing and then consulting their own notes. Moreover, it was a tribute to This Week's willingness to let us drill deeply into each issue that each of us must have left at least half of our prep work unused.

So, reading the unused side of my envelope, I would add here that as shocking and disturbing as the Secret Service and GSA scandals were, neither is necessarily surprising nor profound – and certainly not useful political fodder for anybody. The GSA, for one, has been corrupt for years. Washington forgets nothing faster than the last administration's scandals, so if and when you think of Jack Abramoff, you probably don't think of the GSA. But that's where he did much of his damage, particularly with his old buddy, the former GSA Chief of Staff David Safavian. Two years later, GSA chief Lurita Doan had to quit to avoid getting run out of town for violating the Hatch Act by manipulating the agency towards helping political candidates.

If you want things that specifically look more like this "What Happens In Vegas Stays In The News" nonsense, the GSA money-and-tawdriness mess looks a lot like similar ones in the Social Security Administration in early '09, and a year earlier in – remarkably – the Minerals Management Agency, which one would ordinarily consider to be as unlikely to corrupt as the Visiting Nurse Association.

George Stephanopoulos's interview of Senator Susan Collins and Congresswoman Corolyn Maloney underscored one unproven but logical conclusion upon which we expanded during the panel discussion. The Senator suggested she found it hard to believe that this was the first time something like this had happened on a Secret Service road trip, and I went a little further. To suggest that it was the first time is to believe that half a dozen, or ten, or twelve agents suddenly decided, all at once, that this trip to Colombia was the right time to abandon years of priest-like probity and boldly leap into a potential scandal so brazen and so unlike all the meticulously planned moves of their organization that it would come to light largely because an agent was fulfilling that old cliché about how you knew what someone was, you were now just arguing over the price.

I'm glad we addressed the new volley in the attempt to defend Governor Romney over the lingering and visceral story of Seamus, the dog on the hot car roof. But we didn't really get to my point about the tertiary level of the back-and-forth. The primary conservative defense of almost any charge against one of their key figures is to find something about a liberal that would fit the same Twitter hashtag. The problem comes when the rebuttal (President Obama's admission that as a boy of six or seven, he was fed dog meat in Indonesia) allows liberals to spiral the whole thing up to another level or – in this case – two levels.

Firstly, to agree that the kid version of Barack Obama ate dog once (or a dozen times, whatever it was) is to destroy the ever-popular contention that this man was, or is, a Muslim. That faith is stringent and proactive about its dietary laws. There's lots you can't eat, and dog is near the top of the list. When destructive memes – pushed by left or right – contradict each other, they reduce themselves to whiny silliness. This one gives the left easy access to another polo mallet with which to conk the right.

Secondly, there is this question of the provenance of the story. The pre-presidential Obama wrote of his dining history in 1995. The far right took umbrage in April 2012. And again, the next level in the back-and-forth is immediately created: You're objecting to this now? Not during the 2008 campaign? Not when he ran for Senate? Not when he ran for the Illinois state legislature? When exactly did you stop supporting dog-eating?

From the viewpoint of a desk with five reasonable and respectful commentators on one side and George gently prodding us from the other, the absurdity of all this is obvious. But it's important to note this sign that in the trenches the one-upmanship is now so automatic that one side on defense over Event "A" (Romney Strapped Dog To Car Roof) must retaliate with Parallel Event "B" (Obama Admits He Ate Dog Meat As Child) without stopping to think that it will suffer Blowback "C" (Right Admits Obama Can't Be A Muslim) and even Secondary Hashtag "D" (When Did You Stop Supporting Dog Eating).

Suddenly the political game of find-something-they-did-just-like-this begins to take on the shape of the apocryphal Doomsday Machine secretly installed by the Russian leader prior to the nuclear exchange in the dark humor classic "Dr. Strangelove." Retaliation is automatic and unthinking – and eventually becomes impossible to stop, even when it destroys both sides.

Lastly, it was a pleasure to talk baseball and our mutual reverence for the past with George Will, as we celebrated 100 years of Fenway Park in Boston and looked forward to the centennial of Wrigley Field (2014) and of its occupation by the Chicago Cubs (2016 – it was originally built for a team called the Chicago Whales in the long-defunct Federal League). But even here some of the notes on my envelope didn't make the show.

We were also intending to discuss the perfect game (27 batters faced, 27 retired) pitched Saturday by Phil Humber of the Chicago White Sox. The accomplishment was not only spectacular on its own merits, but indicative. Between July 29, 1991 and July 22, 2009 there were four of these historic games pitched in baseball. Since July 22, 2009, there have been four more – and there should've been a fifth, but for an umpire's mistake.

This acceleration – and I'm sure George would've agreed with this – seems to be hard evidence of the end of the era of baseball batters inflated by PED's: performance enhancing drugs. Hard swingers whose hand-to-eye coordination and strength are suddenly reduced to normal levels are going to miss a lot of pitches and pop up others they would've pounded for base hits just a few seasons ago.

And Mr. Humber's performance adds to one of those bizarre incongruities that make baseball so endlessly fascinating. He was originally a member of the New York Mets, who in their 50-year history, have never had one of their pitchers throw a no-hitter or perfect game. However, Humber's gem Saturday was the thirteenth thrown by pitchers whom the Mets got rid of, and the foremost of those was obviously Nolan Ryan, who fired seven no-hitters.

And with that, the notes on the envelope have served their secondary purpose. Thanks for watching – and for reading.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012
Special bonus YouTube (Dan Patrick Show)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

'Twentieth Anniversary of The Big Show: Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick Together Again'
Video excerpt from the Paley Center
Official photos from the Paley Center

A discussion at the Paley Center for Media on the anniversary of SportsCenter's launch on ESPN. Keith and Dan moderated by Jim Miller, author of 'Those Guys Have All The Fun'.

From the official website:

Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick were one of the legendary sports duos in television history. Their hosting of ESPN's SportsCenter, which they dubbed "The Big Show," helped to define the future of sports broadcasting with their witty mixture of pop culture and highlights. On the actual day of their first telecast twenty years ago, Olbermann and Patrick will reminisce with author Jim Miller about those pioneering days in sports coverage. Highlights of their work will also be screened, along with questions from the audience. Everyone that evening will discover that you can't stop Keith and Dan - you can only hope to contain them.

Pictures: (sourced from Twitter)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
Special bonus YouTube (Late Show with David Letterman, on leaving Current)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday, April 1st, 2012
Special bonus YouTube: reaction to Keith leaving Current from Dorli Rainey

Thursday, March 29, 2012

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, March 29th, 2012
video 'podcast'

Guest host: Eliot Spitzer


#5 'Tale Of The Tape', Andy Kroll

#5 'Tale Of The Tape', Paul Butler (excerpt)

#4 'The End Is Near', Ryan Grim

# Time Marches On!

#3 'Crude Fight', Joe Williams

#2 'Wall Street Occupied', Robert Reich (excerpt)

#1 'Space Jammin'', Derrick Pitts (excerpt)

printable PDF transcript

On the show: , , , , , ,

ELIOT SPITZER: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

(Excerpt from video clip) BENJAMIN CRUMP: Thank God for surveillance video.

(Excerpt from video clip) SYBRINA FULTON: This video is the icing on the cake.

SPITZER: As the Sanford police video of George Zimmerman is released in full, his father comes to his defense.

(Excerpt from video clip) ROBERT ZIMMERMAN: Trayvon Martin said something to the effect of, "You're going to die now," or "You're going to die tonight," something to that effect. He continued to beat George and, at some point, George pulled his pistol and did what he did.

SPITZER: And then goes on the attack:

(Excerpt from video clip) ZIMMERMAN: I never foresaw so much hate coming from the president, the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, every organization imaginable is trying to get notoriety or profit from this in some way.

SPITZER: The latest developments in the Trayvon Martin case.

An assist from Rubio:

(Excerpt from video clip) MARCO RUBIO: I am going to endorse Mitt Romney. There is no way that anyone can convince me that having a floor fight at the convention in Tampa in August is a recipe for victory in November.

SPITZER: With Republicans continuing to fall into line behind Romney, Santorum tries his hand at a new game.(Video clip of SANTORUM bowling.)

Pick a side.

(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: Today, members of Congress have a simple choice to make. They can stand with big oil companies, or they can stand with the American people.

SPITZER: I wonder which one they chose. The answer will not surprise you.

And the galaxy just got a whole lot more crowded. A billion "super Earths" may be capable of sustaining human life.

(Excerpt from video clip) DAVID LETTERMAN: And the number one way that Super Earth is different from Earth - if you think Oprah is great, wait until you meet Super Oprah.

SPITZER: Now, on "Countdown."

(Excerpt from video clip) LETTERMAN: On super Earth, every night is ladies' night.


SPITZER: Good evening. This is Thursday, March 29th, 223 days until the 2012 presidential election. I'm Eliot Spitzer, sitting in for Keith Olbermann.

Continuing fallout from the release of police surveillance video showing Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman the night he shot Trayvon.

Fifth story in the "Countdown" - the initial report from Sanford, Florida police claims Zimmerman suffered scalp lacerations, allegedly from a life-and-death struggle with Martin. Zimmerman's attorney also insisted his client also suffered a broken nose.

Yet, the video shows Zimmerman handcuffed but walking freely inside the police station without bloodstains on his face or clothes, bandages or other indications he'd even been in a fight.

Zimmerman's father Robert, a retired magistrate judge repeated those claims in an interview, concealing his face for fear of being assaulted:

(Excerpt from video clip) ZIMMERMAN: His nose was broken. His scalp was cut in two different places. I don't know - he wasn't given any medical attention but they may have cleaned him up there at the scene.

SPITZER: But Trayvon Martin's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, said the video directly contradicted those claims, and vindicated their son.

(Excerpt from video clip) TRACY MARTIN: Once you've had a broken nose, your nose will continue to bleed and bleed and bleed until it gets fixed.

(Excerpt from video clip) FULTON: There were no visible injuries. There were no blood on his shirt. So we have concluded, just by watching this video, that there may not have been any injuries at all.

SPITZER: Meanwhile, George Zimmerman's attorney Craig Sonner wouldn't commit himself either way.

(Excerpt from video clip) CRAIG SONNER: The video is very grainy, and I'm not sure it has - as far as being able to see the injuries that were recently sustained and then later cleaned up.

SPITZER: Robert Zimmerman also laid a new charge against Trayvon Martin, while again defending his son.

(Excerpt from video clip) ZIMMERMAN: Trayvon Martin said something to the effect of, "You're going to die now, or "You're going to die tonight." He continued to beat George and, at some point, George pulled his pistol and did what he did.

SPITZER: But, Martin's girlfriend, who claimed she was on the phone with him before the shooting, insists that never happened.

(Excerpt from audio clip) DEE DEE: The only thing that Trayvon told that man is was, "Why are you following me?"

SPITZER: And funeral director Richard Kurtz cast more doubt on Zimmerman's assault claim after examining Martin.

(Excerpt from video clip) RICHARD KURTZ: As for his hands and knuckles, I didn't see any evidence as he had been fighting anybody.

SPITZER: And while protesters and Trayvon Martin's parents continue to call for George Zimmerman's arrest, Cheryl Brown, whose 13-year-old son was an eyewitness to the shooting, says Sanford homicide detective Chris Serino may also believe that Zimmerman was the real culprit that night.

(Excerpt from video clip) CHERYL BROWN: He told me that he - that he and the other officer with him felt that it was not self-defense, and that they needed to prove it wasn't self-defense. And he said that I needed to read between the lines, because there was some stereotyping going on.

SPITZER: For the latest on the Trayvon Martin story, I'm joined by Andy Kroll, staff reporter with Mother Jones.

Andy, let me ask you this - the video that is now the hottest topic out there in conversation seems to contradict everything about the Zimmerman story. So, what possibly remains to substantiate the claim of a fight and an encounter that would, in any way, have justified a shooting?

ANDY KROLL: Yeah, the video certainly doesn't, you know, give any kind of evidence of a life-or-death fight. There are no bloodstains - he doesn't look like he sustained a broken nose. Really, what George Zimmerman's attorney is going to have to hope for is some sort of evidence unearthed - or more leaks from the Sanford Police Department or from some other authorities - suggesting that this was a more vicious fight. Because, as we see in this video, George Zimmerman looks like any other person pulled off of the street and brought in to the authorities.

It certainly does not give any kind of credence to this story that George Zimmerman's father and his attorney seems to be telling.

SPITZER: Listening to the father, you actually would believe there would have to be some physical evidence of an encounter. I mean, they talk about his head being bashed against the ground, lacerations - is there any physical substantiation yet that anybody has been able to report or seen - that corroborates that story?

KROLL: There are just little bits of evidence here and there that people are pointing to to substantiate this.

The first one is the police report on the night of Trayvon Martin's killing, says that George Zimmerman was treated between the time - you know, before he arrived at the Sanford Police Department, and so he - his face wouldn't be covered in blood and his lacerations wouldn't be open and gaping. He had been treated.

However, it's important to remember that this - these surveillance videos we saw are 30 minutes after he committed this act and was brought in. And so even if he had been treated on the scene of the crime, you would think a broken nose would be plainly evident in those videos, but there's no - it doesn't appear to be like that at all.

And so, George Zimmerman's attorneys are pointing to the police report and saying he was treated. They're also saying the video was grainy, even though Sanford Police Department admits that it recently installed state-of-the-art surveillance cameras - that's why the picture is as clear as it is.

So, there's very little there to back this up. But, the investigation is ongoing, obviously.

SPITZER: Look, obviously this it's ongoing, and nobody should really - as much as you may want to jump to conclusions, we all know you shouldn't do that. But is there any other medical evidence, any other reports of treatment, x-rays, anything tangible to support the sort of vicious fight that the Zimmerman family would have people believe occurred before the shooting?

KROLL: No, there's not. And, if anything, the anecdotal evidence that's coming out - for instance, this funeral director suggests that this wasn't a violent life-or-death sort of battle that George Zimmerman's father and his attorney have suggested. Eyewitnesses have said there was an altercation. However, the funeral director - as you showed - said that Trayvon Martin's body was in pristine shape apart from, obviously, a gun wound to the chest.


KROLL: There were no lacerations on his hands or knuckles from, say, beating someone's head into the ground or breaking their nose - punching them with enough force to break their nose.

It's also worth noting that if George Zimmerman's head had been bashed into the ground enough, it's common practice for EMTs to usually secure the neck, and to put something around that, in case you've sustained some kind of injury to your neck, and that's not the case in the video either, which, again, kind of undermines this argument that George Zimmerman was fighting for his life and acted in self defense.

SPITZER: Now, the autopsy report has not yet been released. Am I correct about that?

KROLL: Right. It's still sealed, and it will not be unsealed until the investigations into Trayvon's death are over or are inactive. And, obviously, that's not happening anytime soon.

SPITZER: But, it has been examined, one presumes, by the police department and prosecutors and those who are trying to determine what happened. Is there any word that is sort of crept out about whether that that autopsy report, and what it reveals about Trayvon, what that says terms of - and you alluded to the fact - no evidence of lacerations on his part. Anything on the autopsy report we should look for or expect to hear?

KROLL: The autopsy report is the one bit of key information that has not been leaked the media yet. It has been kept very close, very guarded. We don't have any information on it at this point. Obviously, the direction of the gun wound, any kind of evidence that was gathered at the scene of the crime, we don't have that from the autopsy.

It's also worth noting that there have been a lot of - there's been a lot of criticism about how the investigation and how the evidence collecting at the scene of the killing was handled. This is both from eyewitnesses and from other authorities who have publicly criticized the detectives and the cops for, really, just a shoddy investigation, and you know, that could come into play here as well.

SPITZER: Andy, real quick, 'cause time is running short - the phone call with the girlfriend, do we yet have the phone records, because you can get down-to-the-second reports that will prove whether they were or were not on the phone during what was supposedly an altercation. That alone will be significant corroboration. Do we yet have those phone records?

KROLL: Authorities say they have the phone records. They are not available to the public yet, because they are a part of the investigation. This is a key discrepancy with George Zimmerman's father's account. He says this phone call did not happen. However, this girlfriend has given a sworn statement to authorities that this phone call happened, and describing what Trayvon's reactions and thoughts were as he was being pursued. So, it is in the legal record, to a degree, and it's part of an investigation that's ongoing.

SPITZER: Well, look. We won't, one presumes, get a tape of that conversation - but if there are records that establish it took place, that alone will be certainly significant, if not - all right.

Andy Kroll, staff writer with Mother Jones, thank you for sharing some of your time with us tonight.

KROLL: Thank you.

SPITZER: The Trayvon Martin case resonates deeply for many, many people around the country.

Among them, our next guest, Paul Butler - he's a law professor at George Washington University, and a former federal prosecutor. He wrote movingly of what Trayvon Martin means to him today in a posting on The Daily Beast. And I want to quote a piece of it. You say, "I became a prosecutor because of Trayvon Martin. I used to be him." And then you continue. What do you mean by that, and what - what does, as a consequence, this case, in particular, mean to you?

PAUL BUTLER: You know, Eliot, I was a baby-faced, skinny, 17-year-old boy, and - like a lot of black boys - I got harassed by the police, security guards, by neighborhood watch types, followed around, stopped, searched, but I also got harassed by other young black men. I got my lunch money stolen, I got followed around and bothered by them.

So, I became a prosecutor because I wanted to deal with both of those problems. I wanted to help victims. I didn't want to be a victim - I didn't want to be a victim of the police, and I didn't want to be a victim of other black men.

SPITZER: Now this is, of course, a fascinating case that brings to bear all the issues about vigilantism - not police behavior, not prosecutors. So far, even though there's always going to be some criticism of the prosecutors or the cops, your critique of the way prosecutors and cops are handling it is - what? You think they're so far, so good? They understand the sensitivities in doing what they should be doing?

BUTLER: Well, you know, we have police reporting to a crime scene. We have a dead boy, a scrawny little kid, we got this big, buff guy standing over him with a gun. The police take him into custody, they ask him questions, he says it was self defense. And apparently, they say, "Oh, okay. Self defense. We're going to let you go." And the prosecutor doesn't prosecute.

So, I have a problem with that, as a former prosecutor. You know, Eliot, the standard for bringing charges is fairly permissive. It's probable cause. Is there probable cause to charge Mr. Zimmerman with some kind of homicide crime? Absolutely yes.

SPITZER: Well, let's move forward, piece by piece, here. Now that you have seen the video - the video that has come out, that was the subject of our conversation for a couple minutes just moments ago - having seen that, seems to be pretty clear, direct refutation of Zimmerman's claims. What do you think, as a prosecutor, you would like to have, in addition, before you felt that it was appropriate to bring a charge against Zimmerman?

BUTLER: Well, you want to talk to any witnesses that there were. At this point, it is a he said/he said case, and one of the "he"s is dead. So, if there's any kind of circumstantial evidence, or anybody who actually didn't see the fight or the shooting, but heard something - you want to talk to most people.

What you want to try do is to establish whether Mr. Zimmerman, again, shot in self defense, or whether he was what lawyers call "the initial aggressor" - whether he started the fight. Because, if he started the fight, he can't claim self defense.

SPITZER: Okay, now you and I both know, and the public knows that the threshold for bringing charges is somewhat low. But, the threshold for getting a conviction - proof beyond a reasonable doubt - is, of course, appropriately higher. Seeing what you've seen, do you believe, given the video, given the - presume for the moment, the phone records come out, that there was a phone call with the girlfriend - do you believe, as a prosecutor, and giving you every benefit of the doubt, you are awfully good at it - could you get a conviction based upon what you've seen for some form of homicide charge?

BUTLER: You know, Eliot, I have to say - I don't want to brag here, but I think absolutely yes. I think any prosecutor worth his or her salt could get a voluntary manslaughter conviction based on what we know.

Again, we haven't heard from Mr. Zimmerman himself, and that's important to keep in mind. You know, in the eyes of the law, he is innocent until proven guilty.

But man, when you look at this evidence, when you look at what the girlfriend is saying, when you look at Mr. Zimmerman's father, who is apparently speaking for him, claiming there was this fight until the end, but Mr. Zimmerman now shows up on this video looking fit and fine. You know, I think the evidence is kind of stacking up against Mr. Zimmerman and in favor of a serious prosecution. We're talking murder here, maybe manslaughter. But, you know, I think there's evidence for murder.

SPITZER: Paul, I want to shift gears. We only have about a minute left. Racial profiling - you've written passionately that it is corrosive in the effort to prosecute, corrosive in the effort to protect communities. Do you believe racial profiling is still pervasive in law enforcement and in the way police and kids on the street interact?

BUTLER: Oh, you know, Eliot, I know it is. The police - when they see a young black man, a lot of them - they think, automatically, that he is involved in some kind of crime, do it's just a question of investigating to what see what it is - not just African-Americans. Arabs, South Asians get it at the airport, Hispanics get it at the border.

The problem is - it doesn't work. It doesn't make us safer, and it really breaks down trust. There are a lot of people who don't trust the police. They don't like the police, because they don't feel that they've got their best interests at heart. They are not there to serve and protect. It's almost like they are there to harass you.

And in a case like this, when they can prove it by giving - equal protection under the law to African Americans saying, "We care about this black victim," again, they don't seem to. They don't make the arrest. They don't make the prosecution. It's like over-enforcement of the law is fine for African-Americans, but under-enforcement, we get that too. And we get it coming, we get it going.

SPITZER: All right. Paul Butler, former federal prosecutor, now a George Washington University law professor.

I want to continue that conversation some night down the road, or you'll continue it with Keith. Fascinating issue, racial profiling - what it does, what it doesn't do, and how you stop it.

Thank you for some of your time tonight.

BUTLER: Great to be here.

SPITZER: Thank you.

When a man who has donated over $16 million to your campaign says you don't have a chance of winning, you probably don't have a chance of winning. Next, on "Countdown."


SPITZER: Today, Mitt Romney appeared in Houston with former President George H.W. Bush to formally accept his endorsement.

But in our fourth story - the endorsement by the former president was all but overshadowed by the man many people see as Mitt Romney's future running mate, Marco Rubio. Appearing on Fox News last night, Senator Rubio announced his endorsement of Romney. But he, once again, affirmed his lack of interest in joining the ticket.

(Excerpt from video clip) RUBIO: I don't believe I'm going to be asked to be the vice presidential nominee. That's not what I intend to be, that's not what I want to be and that's not what is going to happen.

SPITZER: As Mitt Romney continues to cement his status as the nominee, Newt Gingrich continues to cement his status as the next Republican to drop out. Gingrich's sole reason for still being in the race, Sheldon Adelson, declaring it the end for Newt Gingrich.

(Excerpt from video clip) SHELDON ADELSON: It appears as though he's at the end of his line. Because I mean, mathematically, he can't get anywhere near the numbers, and there's not - unlikely to be a brokered convention.

SPITZER: A fact Gingrich seems to be aware of. The Washington Times reports that Gingrich and Romney secretly met Saturday before the Louisiana primary, but Gingrich tried to assure his supporters that he will not drop out. And I quote, "There is no agreement of any kind, and I plan to go all the way to Tampa."

Joining me now is Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post. Thank you for your time this evening.

RYAN GRIM: Thanks for having me.

SPITZER: So, let me ask you this question: the two endorsements - Marco Rubio, former President Bush - come from completely different pieces of the Republican party. You've got one who is young, tea party, ethnic, Latino, critical vote. The other who is patrician, the old guard. Which of these two matters more to Mitt Romney?

GRIM: Well, I mean - George H.W. Bush barely mattered at all. I think when most people saw that, they thought, "Huh. I figured that he had actually already endorsed Romney." You know, this is like the, you know, Yale class of '42 endorsing the, you know Harvard class of '65 or whatever.

SPITZER: Yeah, but folks from the Ivy League, that's pretty significant, though - Yale endorsing Harvard. Come on, this is important.

GRIM: That is true. So, you know, in Yale-Harvard circles, it probably raised a few eyebrows, but outside of there, people were - you know, people were less moved.

It's the Marco Rubio - it's that endorsement that kind of signaled to the Republican party that, "Look, this is over." You know, this is representative of the far-right wing of the party saying, "I'm backing this guy. Let's wrap this thing up and let's move forward."

SPITZER: Now, Rubio is significant - not only because, as you say, the far-right wing. He is a pure tea party voice. But also, being Latino - this is critically important. But is the Latino vote in Florida going to be helpful either in Arizona, New Mexico - some of the other swing states where the Latino vote may look a little different? Is there more texture to the Latino vote than most people appreciate?

GRIM: Well, there is, and you wonder how much some of the - some of the leading Republican strategists even are aware of that. But the difference is that the Cuban immigrant experience is a unique one in the Latin community. You know, if you've come up through Mexico or South America, you have a much more similar story than somebody that came from Cuba, because, first of all, there's direct public policy - and that's the dry-foot policy - where if you get here, any way possible, in the last 40 years, you can stay.


GRIM: Secondly, the types of people that came from Cuba in the late '50s, '60's - even '70s - were people who were kind of - who were in the ruling class, and they were fleeing Fidel Castro, so that's the exact opposite of the situation that the rest of the immigrant population faces, where it's the lower class coming, and - rather than being welcomed - they get the reverse attitude.

SPITZER: So, you're making a hugely important point here, which is that the Rubio voice for Latino voters may or may not translate quite as well to other aspects, or other pieces, of the Latino community.

I want to sort of play with the idea of the likelihood of his being asked to be in the ticket. How would a Marco Rubio play in the traditional swing, Midwest states of, let's say, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, some of which - probably two out of three of which - Mitt Romney would have to win for him to get to the magic 270. Does Rubio help Mitt Romney in those states?

GRIM: Well, you know, he's - I don't think he helps him, but I don't think he necessarily hurts him either. You know, people will see him as a kind of an up-from-bootstraps kind of guy, you know, whether or not he actually is, they'll - you know, he'll write his story that way, and enough of the Republican voters will believe that. So, you know, I don't think it will play that much there.

You know, they are going to go for Colorado and New Mexico and Florida. You know, don't forget that Florida is an important state, too. So places like that, he might be able to help them slightly, because - notwithstanding what I said earlier - he is going to get more of the Latino vote than somebody like, say, Vice President Joe Arpaio would. You know, it is at least saying to Latino voters, "We at least care. At least we're trying here. Yes, we might have all of this nativist rhetoric and we might have said all of these horrible things -"

SPITZER: No question about it. You put a Joe Arpaio on, you might as well kiss good-bye to the entire immigrant community.

But my view on Florida is - if Mitt Romney is worried about Florida, he's not going to win. He's got to be in a position to take Florida for granted - in which case, Marco Rubio may or may not be that important - and then fight for Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, for this thing to be competitive from their perspective.

So, if he's still worried about Florida, come the moment where they're making this decision, he is probably out of luck. Anyway, we'll continue this conversation down the road.

Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post, Ryan Grim. Thank you for your time tonight.

GRIM: Thank you.

SPITZER: The White House wades into the big oil fight as gas prices continue to spike. Joe Williams of Politico joins me, just ahead.


SPITZER: Coming up, President Obama calls on Congress to eliminate tax breaks for the "big five" oil companies.

But first, the "Sanity Break." It was on this day in 1929 President Herbert Hoover had a telephone installed in the Oval Office. Phones had been used at the White House since 1878, but Hoover was the first president to use one at his desk.

Every president since Hoover has had a phone at the desk, although it is believed that President George W. Bush is the only one to use it to make crank calls with his friends.

"Time Marches On!"

VIDEO: Boston Dynamics' Sand Flea robot can jump 20 feet into the air.

We begin, as we always do, with jumping robots.

Incorporating the same technology to create - they used to create Blake Griffin, Boston Dynamics has designed the Sand Flea, a robot that can jump up to 30 feet in the air. And just like a cat, it always lands on its feet. Or wheels, that is.

Experts say a robot that can jump up to 30 feet in the air, which is perfect for situations when you need a robot that can jump 30 feet in the air.

VIDEO: Grandma at Spring Training Orioles/Phillies game catches stray bat.

We check in with sports. Preseason game between the Orioles and the Phillies - and looks like there's a hot young prospect who has some good hands. Unfortunately, it's one of the fans.

When the Phillies' Carlos Ruiz loses his grip on the bat, it's this spry young lady who makes the grab.

She receives a standing ovation from the crowd, and is being considered for a roster spot by the New York Mets.

VIDEO: Some winning political Peeps dioramas from the annual Washington Post Peeps contest.

Finally, we end - as we always do - with Peep Dioramas, and the sixth annual Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest. This year's entrants included the "GOPeep Peepidential Debate," created by Jermaine Johnson, Serena Johnson, and John Wallace of Williamsburg, Virginia.

And my personal favorite, the "Romney Family Road Trip", created by Colleen Canning of Jacksonville, Florida, complete with poor Seamus Romney on top of the car.

But this year's winner? "Occu-Peep D.C.," created by Cori Wright of Falls Church, Virginia. Wright established that a Peep is 3.5 percent the size of a person and made her entire Occupy diorama to scale.

Sadly, Mayor Bloomberg is currently assembling a Peep police force to evict them.

"Time Marches On!"

The president rebukes the GOP and takes on big oil, coming up next.


SPITZER: Democrats and Republicans alike think they're in the driver's seat as Congress considers legislation repealing oil subsidies.

In our third story on the "Countdown" - President Obama urged the Senate this morning to pass legislation that would strip billions in tax breaks for the "big five" American oil companies, only to have Republicans - with the help of four Democrats - kill the bill.

Just an hour before the vote, the president had framed the lawmaker's decision as a simple choice between promoting oil giants or investing in the future:

(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: They can stand with the big oil companies, or they can stand with the American people. Instead of taxpayer giveaways to an industry that's never been more profitable, we should be using that money to double down on investments in clean-energy technologies that have never been more promising.

SPITZER: But Republicans insist the measure would drive up prices at the pump.

(Excerpt from video clip) MITCH McCONNELL: That was their brilliant plan on how to deal with gas prices - raise taxes on energy companies just to make sure gas prices don't go anywhere but up.

SPITZER: And GOP Senator Rand Paul didn't mince his words on the floor earlier this week.

(Excerpt from video clip) RAND PAUL: I would think you would want to say to the oil companies, "What obstacles are there to you making more money?"

SPITZER: I always continue to marvel at what Rand Paul says.

Joining me now is Joe Williams, the White House reporter for Politico. Joe, thanks for joining us tonight.

JOE WILLIAMS: Hi, good to be here.

SPITZER: Look, it struck me that there are three numbers that are going to determine the outcome of the race in November: the unemployment rate, the price of housing - whether it's going up or down - and three, the price of gas.

So, are we just now entering the blame game, where both parties are pointing the finger back and forth and saying, "You're responsible for the price of gas going up?"

WILLIAMS: Well, I think there's some of that. What the president is attempting to do is rebut against some of the Republican allegations on the campaign trail from Mitt Romney and others that he's solely responsible for these high gas prices, when statistically - imperially, studies, anything you want to point to - shows that this is part of what usually happens during the summer driving season, number one.

And number two, the oil companies are taking very real advantage of the fact that the market is tilted in their favor.

So, what he's trying to do is call attention to that fact, and also link it to the need for alternative energy - that if we get a sound alternative-energy strategy, things will really ease, and our demand for oil will decrease, along with the price.

The Republicans, on the other hand, they've got an easy talking point. Everybody feels pain at the wallet. So, their strategy is to pretty much say that the president is in for it: "He's trying to do things that will wreck the economy, even though he thinks that it will benefit the public. We, the Republican party know better, and that answer is more drilling."

SPITZER: Now, the interesting thing is - if I've seen the polling data properly - about somewhere in the low twenties of the public blames the president, somewhere in the low twenty blames the Republicans, and about over 50 percent blame, you guessed it, the oil companies. And so, that kind of makes sense, given you know, who it's easy to throw mud at.

The interesting thing is that we, in fact, are moving towards energy independence, bit by bit, and have begun moving that way over the past four or five years. Has that fact crept into the public psyche, do you think?

WILLIAMS: It really hasn't, and that is another goal of this meeting that the president had - or this press conference that the president had - with all these people standing behind him, so he can once again make the point that we're drilling now more than we ever have.

Technology has increased, we've got oil leases that oil companies haven't even started using yet, to drill on lands that they're just kind of laying fallow. So, an attempt to draw the line - draw a clear distinction between his energy strategy, the fact that it includes clean energy and a move towards independence - with the Republican strategy, which basically is to put more holes in the ground, pump more oil out, that, in turn, contributes to pollution. That's where he wants to go with this.

The question will be whether or not the Republicans will come around, or if gas prices will reduce enough as the year goes on that this won't be an election-year factor.

SPITZER: Look, the interesting thing is that - even with the disaster in the Gulf, and all the concerns that were raised by that in terms of the environmental impact of drilling - there has been this enormous push towards drilling more, and an enormous amount, in particular, in terms of natural gas. And this White House has been pretty open to expanding, significantly, natural-gas supplies, and that's where most of the progress is being made.

Has that - again, has that issue sort of become part of the public debate, or are we just still talking here about fringe issues that everybody loves to pull out during campaign season?

WILLIAMS: The answer is yes. Both of the above, and I say that because - environmentalists really don't like this current energy policy that allows for fracking, which has been linked to water contamination, also earthquakes in certain parts of the country. They also don't like the strategy of deep-water drilling, where around the world there are more oil derricks that can drill deeper - we're talking two miles down in the bottom of the ocean, which is well past where the Deepwater Horizon was able to drill. That's all an anathema because one accident can cause the whole thing to fall apart, like we saw two years ago when the Deepwater Horizon blew up.

The big issue here, though is to try to keep moving the country towards an energy strategy, and if President Obama doesn't do more drilling, doesn't include fossil fuels as part of the conversation, prices spike, the economy tanks, he is in very real trouble.

SPITZER: And of course, Joe, I think most people who really study this understand the decisions that are made at a policy level will have an impact six months, or else ten years down the road. Probably not in the time frame that is politically significant, given the incipient election. I guess maybe by November, some small impact.

But anyway, we'll continue to see this story playing out.

Joe Williams, White House reporter for Politico. Great thanks for your being here this evening.

WILLIAMS: Thanks to you.

SPITZER: Actual research suggesting how Wall Street has been changed, get this, by Occupy Wall Street. Coming up next.


SPITZER: Coming up, there could be billions of "super Earths" circling stars in our own galaxy. Derrick Pitts is here to explain to me what that means.


SPITZER: There is no doubt Occupy Wall Street has influenced the national dialogue about economic inequality and corporate excess. But statistical evidence the financial services industry really heard its message was not known, until now.

In our number two story on the "Countdown" - more than half of the marketing executives for Wall Street firms surveyed, in the first independent study on Occupy's effects on Wall Street, say the demonstrations have had a real impact on their business.

The study was released a week following the movement's six-month anniversary and coincides with a new wave of demonstrations, and arrests. The new round of activity shows Occupy has not lost its steam, and suggests the movement is leaving its stamp where it matters most.

Seventy-one percent of the corporate executives surveyed think Occupy Wall Street will continue beyond the presidential election in November. The data shows executives may even be taking responsibility for the sector's bad reputation. Ninety-six percent, virtually every marketing executive surveyed, admitted their firms invited negative public perception by their actions, or inactions. Seventy-four percent believe that increased regulation of the financial-services industry will help their firms improve reputations and trust with customers faster.

The study was conducted by Echo Research and Makovsky, a research company that specializes in the financial-services sector. It interviewed 150 marketing and communications executives working at large and mid-sized publicly-traded and private financial institutions, including big banks, brokerage firms, asset-management firms, and insurance companies.

Joining me now - Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary, professor at UC Berkeley and author of the brilliant book "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future." I include it on the syllabus in my class. Professor, thank you. It is a spectacular book.

ROBERT REICH: Thank you.

SPITZER: First question for you - does this survey suggest there's been some sort of epiphany on Wall Street?

REICH: Certainly, among marketing and communications people on Wall Street. They're the ones who understand how angry the public continues to be at Wall Street. But, whether the understanding has permeated beyond the marketing and communications people to the real power on Wall Street - the CEOs and the major traders and the hedge fund managers - is a different story altogether.

SPITZER: Well, that's the question I want to drill down on. You know, is this merely an understanding that, "Gee, we did something that's going to hurt our reputations," or is this an understanding that, "We did something that was fundamentally anathema to the proper functioning of the economy, and therefore we've got to change the way we do business?"

What is your take, having spent a lot of time both studying it and dealing with Wall Street executives?

REICH: I don't mean to be cynical about this, Eliot. I would love it if, in fact, Wall Street showed signs of mending their ways and finding out that they've got to do it. But no, these are the PR and marketing people on Wall Street. They know that there is a huge problem, but you know, the kingpins on Wall Street see this as a public-relations problem. They don't see this as a fundamental problem in terms of changing their ways. They are, at this very moment in federal courts all over this country trying to get the rules and regulations pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Regulatory Reform Bill, and trying to get them stayed and thrown out of court.

SPITZER: Look, we'll get to that in a moment, but you are exactly right. They are trying to eviscerate those few, mild reforms that were put in place.

But you have seen some public statements - and trust me, you know me, I'm not justifying these executives - you have seen some public statements, even from Jamie Dimon, or from Vikram Pandit at CitiBank, where they acknowledged that they understand that the inequality baked into our economy and the excesses at the top are - create a necessary and understandable pushback. So, is that the first step, perhaps, to their changing the sorts of policies that got us here in the first place?

REICH: Eliot, they understand what they need to say. They understand, perhaps, that the country is angry, but they don't get it in terms of fundamental change and fundamental reform.

I mean, the Dallas Federal Reserve board just came out with a report - its annual report - saying Wall Street, the biggest banks on Wall Street, have to be broken up. I mean, can you imagine the Dallas Fed actually saying that? Wall Street doesn't want to be broken up.

Those same executives that maybe understand how angry the public is - you say to them, "Should you be broken up? Should you actually support a strong VOCA rule? Should you resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act?" Are you kidding me? They're going to say no.

SPITZER: Look, you're exactly right, and Jesse Eisinger of ProPublica wrote a spectacular story about that Dallas Fed report, which makes the point "too big to fail" has only gotten worse, not better, since the cataclysm of '08.

And just last week, you alluded to this - a bit earlier last week - something that was called a JOBS bill, but I feel it should have been called the "Bring Back Fraud to Wall Street" bill, was passed by both houses. That permits them to go back to some of the very practices that created this in the first place. So, what's your takeaway from all this?

REICH: My takeaway is that they see this as a public-relations problem. They are, at the same time, lobbying like mad and in court trying to eviscerate Dodd-Frank. They have not got it, they will not get it, and there's no hope of trying to make them get it.

I mean, there's huge amounts of money in it for them - keeping things the way they were, fighting every step of the way, trying to make this into a public-relations problem - when, in fact, it's much more fundamental.

And I don't think we're going to see real change on Wall Street until Wall Street is forced to change its ways.

SPITZER: Look, I could not agree more with you. One last question - time runs real short - why did so many Democrats, and why did the White House, support this so-called JOBS bill last week? Why didn't anybody on that side of the aisle have the gumption to stand up and say, "Enough. This is simply bad policy."

REICH: For two reasons, Eliot - first, they want to show some bipartisanship. I mean, everybody in Washington is looking at the November elections and they're saying, "We don't want to appear as partisan as we really are, and therefore, anything that gets any bipartisan support is probably a good thing if we can hold our nose and sign onto it."

Secondly - let's face it - there is a lot of competition between Democrats and Republicans for money from Wall Street for this election. Wall Street has decided to back Republicans more than Democrats, but still, a lot of Wall Street money is going into Democratic coffers.


All right, Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary, professor at UC Berkeley and author of "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future." Thank you for being here.

Next time, try to be a bit more optimistic. There's got to be a ray of hope out there somewhere.

REICH: There is, but it's in the Occupiers and grassroots movement, it's not on Wall Street.

SPITZER: All right, ditto. Could not agree more.

Coming up, there are potentially billions of "super Earths" orbiting stars in our galaxy. But can these planets sustain life as we know it? Derrick Pitts joins me next.


SPITZER: Astronomers now estimate there could potentially be billions of habitable planets right here in our galaxy, meaning planets that could sustain life.

In our number one story - according to a team of international astronomers, it's now being predicted that there could be billions of what are called "super Earths" circling stars within our galaxy. "Super Earth" is a term used to describe planets outside of our solar system with one to ten times the mass of Earth. But, of course, now I'm just telling you things we all already knew.

The team of astronomers collecting data from La Silla Observatory in Chile have been able to determine that about 40 percent of all red dwarf stars - the most common star in our galaxy - have a super Earth orbiting their habitable zone, where it may be possible for liquid water to exist - liquid water being the essential prerequisite to life.

According to the team's lead astronomer Xavier Bonfils, and I quote, "Because red dwarfs are so common - there are about 160 billion of them in the Milky Way - this leads us to the astonishing result that there are tens of billions of these planets in our galaxy alone."

And about one hundred of these planets could be less than thirty light years away, or about 180 trillion miles, which - in terms of the galaxy - is apparently not terribly far.

As for whether life as we know it can be sustained on these planets, astronomers say they will need to do more research, but it is possible.

Joining me now, chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute science museum and "Countdown" contributor, Derrick Pitts. He's going to explain all of this. Okay, for those of us who couldn't even make it through 9th grade Biology, Derrick, what does all this mean?

DERRICK PITTS: What it really means, Eliot, is the chances that we're going to find Earth-like planets and possibly Earth-like planets - maybe with life - has gone up tremendously. The thing we have to remember about this is that about - maybe ten years ago, we were just speculating on the possibility that there planets were orbiting other stars.

Now, not only do we have a large number, several thousand good candidates, for stars that have planets orbiting them, but we have actually been able to confirm quite a number of planets that are orbiting other stars.

Now the question comes in - are we talking about planets that are about the size of Earth or maybe a little bit larger - these so-called "super Earths"? And, by the way, I had thought it was a stable economy that made it possible for life to exist on these other planets. But in any case -

SPITZER: We'll give up on the stable economy if they have got water. Explain to me -

PITTS: Right, we'll take the water.

SPITZER: We'll take the water. Why is water so essential? Is this sort of the biological necessity from which all other things spring?

PITTS: For what we know of as life, Eliot, yes. Water is the key to all of this. And the thing about it is, is that it could be possible that there are other forms of life based on other elements, if you will. But, for our studies, we have to start someplace where we really know what things are. And that's life like what we find here on this planet, and that's all based on water.

So, we're really looking for the water. That's like the holy grail of looking for life elsewhere. You know, it's a key for what we're doing on Mars. It's a key for what we're doing looking at these planets, also.

SPITZER: Now, give me a sense of dimension here. I mean, it sounds like this is still kind of far away. Even Richard Branson isn't yet going up there saying, "I'll sell you a ticket to take you to one of these stars. Thirty light years is kind of far off - are we - we're not going to visit anytime soon to get more data on this. So, what's the next step here?

PITTS: Yeah, that's true. We're not going to go this far to get the data. We're going observe to see what we can find out using various instruments here through telescopes.

But, it is relatively close. Thirty light years is nothing when you look at the size of the galaxy and then the size of the universe. And the other interesting thing about it, Eliot, is that earlier on - 20 years ago - we were looking all over the universe for life. It turns out that we can look for it right here in our own backyard.

Next steps - the next steps are to try to better identify what the chemical constituency is, if you will, of the atmospheres of these planets. It'll require a different kind of study, but we do have the tools in place to be able to do that. So, we'll refine what we know about these planets so far, identify the ones that are really closer to being like Earth and then start to look at their atmospheres, if they have them, to see if we can see a signature of water.

SPITZER: So, what you're telling me, if I hear you right, is we can take the next steps from a scientific perspective without actually having to visit these planets. We don't need to get there. We can do this through the telescopes and all of the other, you know, cool stuff - the toys you have.

PITTS: Absolutely. The engineers who work with the telescopes and build the tools that we use on the telescope are really geniuses at crafting instruments that can actually pick out this very, very subtle information over extremely long distances and can get it very, very close to accurate. So, we can do a lot of this work remotely.

And besides, the gas prices are too high to fuel a craft to get us all the way out that far right now anyway.

SPITZER: Don't be so cynical, fuel mileage is getting better. Pretty soon you'll get there on one gallon.

All right, chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute science museum and "Countdown" contributor Derrick Pitts. Thanks so much for your time tonight, making sense out of something that is simply beyond even those of us who read science fiction.

PITTS: Thank you.

SPITZER: That's "Countdown." I'm Eliot Spitzer, in for Keith Olbermann. Have a good night. Thanks for joining us.