'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, January 5th, 2012
#ShowPlug 1: "I didn't say BLACK," Santorum claims about who shouldn't get welfare. He said "sort of bluh." W/ @HilaryOShelton of @NAACP
#ShowPlug 2: Gingrich follows with own racist remark. The GOP follies - including Paul bid to paint Huntsman as Chinese spy w/ @KenVogel
#ShowPlug 3: In the year of the 99% why is neither party touching, let alone embracing, the concept? Matt @MTaibbi on the shadow election
#ShowPlug 4: Recall petition nears finish line; Gov. Walker's new problem: two longtime aides arrested, accused of stealing money from vets
#ShowPlug 5: Cornell brings you a real Invisibility Cloak. Of course right now it's a Size 18,000 Miles Long. @MaysoonZayid joins me
#ShowPlug Last: And citing Constitution is not enough. Three lawmakers want all state bills to keep in line with...the Magna Carta?
watch whole playlist
#5 'Santorum Says', Hilary Shelton
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#5 'Santorum Says', Ken Vogel
#4 'Pay To Win', Matt Taibbi
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Walker And Friends', Graeme Zielinski
#2 Worst Persons: NHLiberty4Paul, Joe Arpaio, New Hampshire freshman GOP
#1 'Disappear Here', Maysoon Zayid
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Matt Taibbi, Hilary Shelton, Graeme Zielinski, Ken Vogel
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SANTORUM: I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money.
OLBERMANN: Thank goodness he didn't say anything racist like "black people's lives."
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I've looked at that quote. In fact, I looked at the video. And I don't - in fact, I'm pretty confident I didn't say "black." What I think - I started to say a word and sort of - blaaa - and sort of mumbled it and changed my thought.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, sure. The GOP front-runners - now zero days without a bald-faced lie.
Is the whole presidential race overshadowing what should be the real battle?
Matt Taibbi writes, "Because it's really a contest between one-percent-approved candidates, it's worse than empty - it's obnoxious." My guest, Matt Taibbi.
Another day, another Scott Walker controversy. As the recall petition drive nears completion, one of his old county aides, Tim Russell, arrested, charged with stealing money out of the mouths of veterans!
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN CHISHOLM: Russell and Kavanaugh are charged with misappropriating funds collected for the annual county-sponsored veterans' event known as Operation Freedom.
OLBERMANN: And I got bad news and worse news. The bad news? Harry Potter invisibility cloaks.
(Excerpt from video clip) RON WEASLEY: I know what that is, that's an invisibility cloak!
(Excerpt from video clip) HARRY POTTER: I'm invisible!
OLBERMANN: They are close to becoming real. The worse news? They are close to becoming real, thanks to the engineering school at my alma mater!
And - when demanding every piece of legislation be justified by the Constitution just is not backwards enough. Three state politicians demand that everything they vote on contain a precedent from the Magna Carta of 1215.
Says one of the guys, "This is a little bit older than the Constitution, but the same thought is there."
No, it was about protecting the king of England. Sheesh, these Republicans are stupid.
All that and more now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you?
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Thursday, January 5th, 306 days until the 2012 presidential election.
Of course he didn't say he wanted to take welfare payments away from black people, nor did he imply that they go only to black people. He said, sort of, "blah people."
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - well, Rick Santorum, that's all right then. You are not racist against black people. You are racist against "blah people."
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn their money.
OLBERMANN: Santorum making that comment in Iowa on Sunday.
NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous responding today, "Senator Santorum's targeting of African Americans is inaccurate and outrageous, and lifts up old race-based stereotypes about public assistance."
More from NAACP Vice President for Advocacy Hilary Shelton a little later in our news hour.
Despite the tape, Santorum is actually denying he said what he said.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I looked at the video. And I don't - in fact, I'm pretty confident I didn't say black. What I think - I started to say a word and sort of - blaaa - and sort of mumbled it and changed my thought.
OLBERMANN: You don't have to recall it, Senator. It's on video.
In that same interview, Santorum also defending this notorious comment he made about gay marriage in 2003: "In every society the definition of marriage has not ever, to my knowledge, included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality, it's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It's one thing."
Comedians have been living off of that equation of homosexuality with bestiality since he made those remarks. Rational Republicans have used it to measure their distance from Santorum's bizarre world view and other delusions. Santorum now insisting he didn't really say that either.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I said it's not those things. I didn't connect them. I specifically excluded them.
OLBERMANN: Santorum also on the attack, in a manner of speaking, today - prior to the inevitable self-destruction - on President Obama's recess appointment of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: This is pretty scary stuff. And you say - and I hope that the United States Senate does what they are supposed to do and they should so go and take the president to court.
OLBERMANN: The Senate Santorum got voted out of by 18 points. And the president's biggest foreign policy triumph - the death of Osama Bin Laden:
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: Of course he immediately - we got bin Laden. Getting bin Laden was a continuation of policy that was set by the Bush administration. All he did - and I give him credit - after being pressured for a long time, which he held off, from all of the reports, he finally conceded to go after him.
OLBERMANN: George W. Bush killed Osama bin Laden, right?
Santorum also tying the president to a group that rejects political parties - Occupy Wall Street:
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: When he goes around and tries to divide America and aligns himself with Occupy Wall Street, saying, you know, this dividing of America, 99-1. You know it's not 99-1. It's anybody that makes money and pays taxes and everybody who doesn't. That's the 99-1.
OLBERMANN: That, coming from a proud member of the one. The Washington Post reporting Mr. Santorum's income in 2010 and the first half of 2011 includes $395,414 in director's fees and stock options, $332,000 for services as a consultant adviser to industry lobbies, $239,000 as a Fox News contributor, $217,000 as a conservative think tank senior fellow and $83,999 for a stint as a Salem radio talk-show host.
A few more numbers. Santorum's campaign says it brought in two million dollars in contributions in the past 48 hours, but he still trails Mitt Romney in the polls. And badly.
According to the Washington Times, likely GOP primary voters give Romney 38 percent now, Ron Paul 24, Santorum 11 - Google it - and an eight-point pick-up for Santorum since the Iowa caucus. But, Newt Gingrich is still right on his tail at nine percent.
Gingrich, making his own racist comment on welfare and African Americans today. The more, the merrier. It's two-for-one day in the GOP hate primary. He was speaking to an audience in Plymouth, New Hampshire:
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: I will go to their convention and talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.
OLBERMANN: Another pitch for 13-year-old bathroom janitors? If Gingrich runs into Rick Santorum there, he says Santorum will have to stand behind him.
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: If you think us as partners, he would clearly, in historical experience, have been the junior partner.
OLBERMANN: I don't like to think of Rick Santorum as anybody's partner. Gingrich continues to roll on as if he had not crested, peaked, ripened, gone rotten and fallen off of the vine in Iowa.
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: Governor Romney, in the end, has a very limited appeal in a conservative party.
OLBERMANN: Now I have to think about Governor Romney in the end. Gingrich releasing an attack ad aimed at the former Massachusetts governor:
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Romney's economic plan? Timid, parts of it virtually identical to Obama's failed policy. Timid won't create jobs. And timid certainly won't defeat Barack Obama.
OLBERMANN: Who is this timid guy? I want to vote for him.
Gingrich's Iowa defeat at the hand of Romney's super PAC apparently weighing on the former speaker. Though Gingrich wrote an editorial praising the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision that made PACS possible. Then he wrote, "The Supreme Court has begun made it easier for middle-class candidates to take on the rich and powerful."
Turned out to be more like the opposite, Mr. Speaker, and more on that with Politico's Ken Vogel a little bit later in the news hour.
As for the front-runner, Governor Romney campaigning today with his new bestest friend, Senator McCain, who expressed a desire this morning that all of this primary stuff be over soon. Real soon.
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN McCAIN: It's very much time to select our nominee and to move forward into the general election mode, get this thing done with as quickly as possible and get into the main event.
OLBERMANN: Because that worked so well for the early-decided candidate McCain in 2008.
Back to Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich and their comments linking welfare and African Americans.
I am joined now by Hilary Shelton, the senior vice president for advocacy and the Washington bureau director for the NAACP. Mr. Shelton, welcome back to the program.
HILARY SHELTON: Keith it's great to be with you.
OLBERMANN: Thank you kindly for joining us.
Rick Santorum's comments - he said, "I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money." No matter what he thinks he may have said, the tape is pretty clear about that. What does it say to you, about his understanding of African Americans and the role that public assistance plays - not just in black America but in America?
SHELTON: Well, it clearly shows there is a misunderstanding. There is scapegoating going on and stereotyping. Listen, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest grassroots-based civil rights organization. We are 103 years old this year in February. We have always stood on the issues of addressing racist statements being made, actually clouding the political atmosphere.
What we have, in this particular case, is former Senator Santorum utilizing old stereotypes about African Americans that are not only offensive but factually inaccurate.
We look at the state of Iowa. What we found is that about nine percent of the welfare recipients - that is, those who receive food stamps - are African American, nine percent. Over 80 percent are white. Indeed, what he is doing is utilizing the same old stereotypes that go back to the old "welfare queens" that were being discussed in the 1980s.
OLBERMANN: What do you think would happen if he or anybody else ever said, "I don't want to make white people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money" in a place like Iowa?
SHELTON: It would be outrageous. Because what they say is, "Look, we are struggling like everybody else."
SHELTON: What we are seeing is that the unemployment rate is extremely high. Fifty percent of all those that are at or below the poverty line are Americans, period. And indeed, the vast majority of those are white Americans. Taking away that safety net is not only irresponsible, but it's downright dangerous and it's unfair to the American people.
OLBERMANN: The comments from former Speaker Gingrich - that he would "go to the NAACP convention and tell the African American community why they should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps" - give me your best guess. What sort of response would he get from your convention?
SHELTON: Listen, the NAACP is one of the most respectful organizations I've ever known. They would listen to him and they would realize just, again, how factually inaccurate he is.
But in some ways, let me say this - first, we have invited the then-Speaker Gingrich to the NAACP on several occasions and, for one reason or another, he was unable to attend. If he came to the convention, quite frankly, it would probably be helpful to him.
Now, the only way he would be allowed to speak, of course, is if he came to the convention as a Republican nominee for president of the United States. Because every four years, the NAACP invites - and usually has - the presidential candidates from both parties actually participating and speaking at our conventions.
In essence, he would be welcome and it would probably be helpful to him in understanding what's really going on in the African American community.
OLBERMANN: Do you think there are - what's at the heart of people who would make these comments? Are these attempts to pitch themselves - Mr. Santorum and Mr. Gingrich - to a sort of latent racism that exists, clearly, still in the country and certainly, in larger degrees, in certain parts of the country? Or is this just, sort of, mental sloppiness on their own personal parts? Is there any way to tell, based on the language or what clichés they find themselves falling into, saying these things?
SHELTON: Well, listen, not being a mind reader, it's hard to understand or know what their intent is, but - quite frankly - it's very dangerous. It's very dangerous in that - first, we are talking about inaccurate facts, but inaccurate facts that actually depict a group of people in our country - by virtue of the color of their skin - as being somehow or another lazier, less willing to work hard, less willing to actually want to pursue the American dream.
One of the things he misses when he says that, somehow or another, "African Americans would rather get government subsistence than get a good living wage job" is that he doesn't recognize that the average welfare check - that is, the average food stamp - buys you about $4.50 worth of food per day. You can't even get great meals on the dollar menu for $4.50 a day. It is unnecessary. It is ignorant. It doesn't recognize the facts. And, quite frankly, if people see this being truthful, it is downright dangerous.
OLBERMANN: It is. It reminds me of the campaign in 1966. You'd think we would have moved forward.
Hilary Shelton, senior vice president for advocacy, the Washington bureau director of the NAACP. Again, great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
SHELTON: It was great being with you.
OLBERMANN: For more on the New Hampshire primary - and the ad wars there that we mentioned - I am joined by Ken Vogel, chief investigative officer of Politico. Ken, good to talk to you again, sir.
KEN VOGEL: Hey, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I believe I've inducted you into some sort of service.
VOGEL: I will take it.
OLBERMANN: You're the reporter, correspondent, chief investigative guy of Politico. All right, this - what - is there a political motive behind what Santorum and Gingrich said, and is there a political motive on Santorum's part to try to deny something that he said that is on tape?
VOGEL: Well certainly - though there is this long history, that your prior guest from the NAACP talked about, within the GOP, of these coded racial appeals, going back to Ronald Reagan in the 1980s with the "welfare queens" framing of this issue - it's become increasingly unacceptable, even in GOP primary politics, but certainly in a general election, running against the first black President of the United States.
So, he realizes that this was a gaffe - whether he actually said it or whether he was trying to say "blah," as he sort of incredulously suggested that he was trying to say - and he tried to correct it, because it just doesn't fly.
And Gingrich - it's telling that Gingrich continues to hit on some of these things because, in many ways, he, of course, is a politician of the 1990s, and a lot of his rhetoric and a lot of his framing harkens back to the 1990s and the Republican revolution.
But nonetheless, this is what conservatives - sort of the big-thinking conservatives - are concerned about, that one of these guys can either get the nomination or drag Mitt Romney to the right on some of these issues and make it harder for Republicans to run against Barack Obama in the general election.
OLBERMANN: Of course, the major problem - whoever the Republican front-runner is at the moment - seems to be what he said previously.
Relative to the ad wars, Mr. Gingrich claimed he had been - the phrase he used was "Romney-boated," throwing in "Romney" instead of "swift" - by these ads that were paid for by Restore our Future. That's the super PAC that backs Romney and has some of his former staffers at its head.
Does this not slightly contradict the Gingrich praise for Citizens United, when the Supreme Court issued that ruling?
VOGEL: It would seem to completely contradict it, Keith. Here is a guy who not only praised the ruling, but was actually in the movie that was the basis for the case, Citizen United versus Federal Election Commission and he has a long history with Citizen United and its President Davis Bossie. And he has a long history of supporting the deregulation of campaign finance.
Now, what we are seeing is - it's a lot easier to be in favor of the stripping-away regulations that prohibit or restrict money from flowing, unchecked, into politics than it is to actually run a campaign when those regulations have been lifted.
His prediction that this would, somehow, help populist candidates run against establishment candidates, I mean - that just defies all credulity at this point, like, to think that anyone could have possibly predicted that this would help anti-establishment candidates, when the establishment is where the money is and the money is going to be able to flow more directly into politics to help establishment candidates.
If nothing else, it sort of calls into question his political instincts - that he would make such a prediction.
OLBERMANN: Or if he gives you any tips at the track, just ignore what he has to say.
Last point, it's kind of off topic but - I wouldn't call it breaking news, but it happened today - in Durham, New Hampshire, Santorum gets into an argument with his entire group there - or the group, some of the group attending his event at Durham on the subject of gay marriage. What do you know about that?
VOGEL: Well, it's - you know, again, per your comment, the statements that were made in the past that continue to plague these candidates. Santorum has a long history on this issue. So, he was called out on it in New Hampshire by a college-age audience, where some of the framing and the rhetoric on same-sex marriage and gay rights that he, perhaps, is saddled with, from his time in the Senate, from 2006. His campaign - his losing re-election campaign was brought up again.
There were same-sex marriage supporters who were asking him to defend his position on this, and he seemed to dig the hole a little bit deeper by comparing it to polygamy, saying that, "If it's okay for two men to marry, should it be okay for three men to marry?"
Now, predictably, that didn't go over well with this young audience and he was booed. Now, this is going be a problem for him. And he has got to find a better way to answer for some of his previous comments on this issue and others.
OLBERMANN: Ken Vogel, the chief investigative reporter with Politico. Always a pleasure to have you on the program, sir.
VOGEL: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: In Montana, they have been trying to throw corporate money out of politics for a little while, like, since 1912. They are doing it again. Matt Taibbi joins me next.
OLBERMANN: If the protester was the person of the year, how come none of the potential presidential candidates are representing him? Matt Taibbi, next.
Scott Walker keeps one eye fixed on the recall, the other on his close aide, arrested today for allegedly stealing money from a veterans' project.
Bad news - invisibility cloaks are coming. And Cornell will have them first.
And three local politicians want all new laws in their state to derive from a document written just 797 years ago to protect the British king, who was 39 kings ago. Genius, I tells ya, genius!
OLBERMANN: Citizens United may have met its match in the citizens of Montana.
In our fourth story on the "Countdown" - the Montana Supreme Court is working to end the money-based insanity evidenced in Iowa this past week. And is upholding its century-old ban on direct spending by corporations on political candidates or committees.
The court refusing to recognize the Supreme Court Citizens United decision, by a 5-to-2 vote, ruling that state history showed that "even indirect corporate funding of political campaigns can lead to corruption."
The decision applies only to the state elections there, but an expected appeal could force the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit Citizens United.
And just yesterday, the New York City Council also passed a resolution opposing the Citizens United decision and calling for an amendment to the Constitution so that "the expenditure of corporate money to influence the electoral process is no longer a form of constitutionally-protected speech." Los Angeles, Albany, New York, Boulder, Oakland have all passed similar resolutions.
The power of money over mere votes was on full display during the Iowa caucuses. Rick Santorum, the so-called "come-from-behind," second-place finisher there spent virtually nothing on advertising in that state.
Conveniently for him, something called the Red, White and Blue Fund spent more than half a million dollars on his behalf. That figure, of course, pales in comparison with the four million spent by pro-Romney super PAC Restore our Future.
According to NPR, the average Iowa TV viewer would have seen Restore our Future's ads three dozen times a week during the lead-up to the caucuses.
Now joining me - Rolling Stone contributing editor, "Countdown" contributor Matt Taibbi. Thanks for your time tonight, Matt.
MATT TAIBBI: Good to see you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: In your newest piece, you basically seem to suggest there was no role for Occupy or the 99 percent in this election or, perhaps, not even a real role for the folks - the valiant folks in Montana or the members of the New York City Council and all of the others who have argued against huge money - unfettered money in campaigning. Is it no role in the campaign or just no candidate in the campaign?
TAIBBI: I think it's both. I think there is an ongoing movement across the country in all of those cities you talked about - Boulder, Los Angeles, Montana, here in New York City - there is a movement against all of these issues: income disparity, the influence of money on politics, corruption. It's going on in court houses. It's going on in legislatures.
And people all across the country are interested in these issues, but there is no outlet for any of that political energy in this election. Because this election isn't about any of those things. In fact, it's about just the opposite. It's a celebration of the influence of money on politics.
And there is really no way for the ordinary person to express any of that animosity or that anger about these problems through any of these candidates - except for possibly Ron Paul - but really, aside from that, there really isn't an outlet for that energy.
OLBERMANN: Or if you are in Montana, I mean -
TAIBBI: Right. Exactly.
OLBERMANN: It's a funny thing about Montana. It was in 1912 that the voters in Montana passed this initiative that barred direct contributions to political candidates, to parties - and now the Supreme Court is trying to do this again, it's the 100th anniversary of this. Is there a chance - obviously, 1912 did not lead to a series of similar moves around the country, state by state. Should we get that money out of the state campaigns and the local campaigns? Is there a chance that there is, now, any kind of wave that starts in Montana?
TAIBBI: I absolutely think so. I think this is a start of something, because the more I talk to people who are in the Occupy movement, not only here in New York but around the country, I think the one issue that everybody can agree upon - not only in Occupy Wall Street, but also on the other side of the aisle, among the Ron Paul people, among some of the tea party people - is this problem of money in politics.
I think everybody agrees that it's gotten completely out of hand, and people no longer want to live in a country where whoever raises the most money wins every single election, and that's the situation we are in right now.
I think there is a movement that's starting. I think this thing that happened in Montana is just the beginning of something that may go on.
OLBERMANN: Another question about 1912. That, of course - as anybody who is even an amateur historian of the political process knows - the last time that a third-party candidate finished ahead of either a Democrat or Republican when Teddy Roosevelt -
TAIBBI: The Bull Moose Party right?
OLBERMANN: The progressives - the Bull Mooses - and he pushed the incumbent president, Taft, to third place.
I mean, I am not asking you to look 200 years into the future, but is there any reason to hope that something like that could happen again? Because wouldn't - let's say Citizens United is overturned, state by state, and then nationally by an amendment - wouldn't it just force big money to find another hole or create another hole in the damn?
TAIBBI: Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean everybody - everybody that I talked to in Washington always says the same thing. No matter what they do with campaign-finance reform, the money is going to find its way to candidates. It always will. You know, last election, the two candidates raised over a billion dollars between them. Obama, by himself, over $730 million. That money is going to get to these candidates somehow.
The problem is - let's not make it easier for them to do that. And let's - let's force these - the corporate money at least to be out in the open, where we can identify it. But I think it would be very difficult for a third party - a genuine, grassroots, independent candidate - to overcome that money because the problem is, they donate to both parties. They don't just focus on one person or another. So, it's going to be hard for them to come in at least second place, like a Bull Moose Party, because they will have to overcome money on both sides.
OLBERMANN: Is 2012 a lost cause, the upcoming election?
TAIBBI: I think so. I mean, I think it's going to end up being somebody like Romney versus Obama and those two candidates are going to raise probably $500 million apiece, at least, and, you know - who is going to compete with that?
You know, the money that comes from the investment banks, the Citigroups, Goldman Sachs of the world and, you know, the major university endowments and all of that. No independent candidate is going to compete with that, not even a Ron Paul, who has significant grassroots support around the country. I think it would be very difficult for them to compete with that.
OLBERMANN: The Rolling stone contributing editor, "Countdown" contributor Matt Taibbi. As always, Matt, thank you kindly.
TAIBBI: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Ron Paul supporters - well, it's not all good news there. They tried to eliminate Jon Huntsman by claiming he is actually a Chinese spy. Stand by.
OLBERMANN: Scott Walker looks askance at the recall, has little to say about the arrest of one of his closest former aides. Next.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date in 1978 was born the future actress January Jones. And before you say, "Duh, January was born in January," she was actually named for a character in a Jacqueline Susann novel. And not, oddly enough, for the '60s and '70s actress and singer named - January Jones.
"Time Marches On," Don.
VIDEO: Australian girl makes her eyebrows dance.
We begin, as we always do, with dancing eyebrows. And Groucho Marx has nothing on this 14-year-old Australian.
They're almost hypnotic. Do not look directly into the eyebrows. Oh, that's gotta be Photoshopped. You're getting sleepy.
Easily the most impressive eyebrows since the late Tom Snyder. Good night, everybody.
VIDEO: Cat throws friend down an attic ladder.
To the world of cats. These two pals are playing in the attic, one of them decides he'll head downstairs. "Here, buddy, let me give you a hand with that."
Down goes Felix!
With any luck, in his next eight lives he'll get some better friends.
VIDEO: Dog grooves to guitar music.
Finally, we end - as we always do - with a dog what loves music. Bailey is very happy listening to the guitar, but he's not so thrilled when it stops.
Right now, Bailey's very into Justin Bieber, but his owners are hoping that's just a phrase - phase.
"Time Marches On!"
The Koch Brothers' puppet governor of Wisconsin has a new problem tonight. A long-time aide is under arrest. Next.
OLBERMANN: "Countdown," the longest continuously-running 8PM news hour on cable. Unless you consider Fox - "news." We're live each night at 8 Eastern. Every night is a "Best of 'Countdown'" night.
With less than two weeks to go before the signature deadline in the recall of Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin's top fascist finds his gaze split between two crises.
In our third story - two men with close ties to Walker during his time as a Milwaukee county executive have been charged with using their positions to steal money intended for military families.
This afternoon, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced felony charges for three men, stemming from the investigation into missing funds from the Milwaukee veterans' event known as Operation Freedom.
Kevin Kavanaugh was appointed to the Milwaukee Service Commission by then-County Executive Walker, a position Kavanaugh allegedly exploited in order to embezzle over forty thousand dollars from several sources, including this Operation Freedom.
Tim Russell worked as a top aide for Governor Walker during his time as Milwaukee county executive. He is accused of using more than twenty thousand from the veterans' activities boards for his own personal use, as well as embezzling funds from the campaigns of two county board candidates.
The third man charged - Tim Russell's domestic partner, Brian Pierick. He is charged with two counts of child enticement, evidence of which was discovered on computers confiscated in 2010 from the home that he and Mr. Russell share.
Probably not the headlines Governor Walker wanted with less than two weeks to go until recall signatures are due. The last reported numbers put the signature total at five hundred and seven thousand. That was on December 15, not even halfway into the process.
Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute today, Walker conceded, "There will probably be enough signatures to force the recall." But insisted that his recall is not the will of the people, but of "union thugs."
(Excerpt from video clip) SCOTT WALKER: People ask me who my opponent is going to be. I said, "The person doesn't matter, it will be the big-government union bosses here in Washington, who will pour probably limitless amounts of money into our state, and will try and influence our vote and we're going to have to be ready to get the truth out to counter that."
OLBERMANN: Wow, what a whore the governor is. Honestly.
Joining me now - Graeme Zielinski, communications director for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
GRAEME ZIELINSKI: Thanks for the Christmas card, Keith.
OLBERMANN: People that Scott Walker appointed - arrested, accused of stealing from veterans. This reflects well on the governor's judgment, doesn't it?
ZIELINSKI: It's not just - they weren't just accused of stealing from veterans, they were accused of enticing young boys for stuff. But these are folks that he put into high office, these are folks who had previously been accused of bad acts, these are folks he surrounds himself with.
We don't know what Scott Walker did or didn't do that's criminal, but we know he is walking a pretty crooked path where he runs into a lot of folks who have committed crimes.
OLBERMANN: Relate these two stories - or tell us that there is none to be, no relation to be made - would these, this story, impact the recall effort in any way?
ZIELINSKI: Hey, there is a long list of reasons to recall Scott Walker. Corruption by his aides, maybe corruption by him, may be one of them.
But the recall that you mentioned - in which he attributes to some out-of-state forces, while he is out of state - is pretty - which is - did he do it with a monocle and with a caviar spoon or something?
But the recall is strong. It's people-based. Every corner of this state, people are standing out in the cold. People are taking times, in between commercial breaks of Packers' games to collect these recalls, Christmas suppers - all that. It's being done and it's on a very wide level. And on January 17th, when we turn in our signatures, it's going to probably shut up some of the remaining Scott Walker supporters claiming this out-of-state influence.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of the out-of-state influence and the union thugs and all of that, how much contact have you had with your big-government union bosses in Washington lately?
ZIELINSKI: Well, I can't speak about that. If you looked at my car payments, you'd see that we are not really run by money here. Scott Walker is. If I may quote the philosopher Michael Jackson, he needs to look at the man in the mirror when he talks about getting orders from out of state.
He is in D.C. right now, shaking down the likes of the Koch brothers. I don't know who is there at these things. He is at Grover Norquist's tax-pledge place, even though he raised taxes on working families here. He raised taxes on seniors in Wisconsin to pay for a two billion dollar tax giveaway to corporations that don't create jobs here. They just, I guess, create nice bar tabs at Le Cirque.
ZIELINSKI: Yes, the psychologist's term for what we heard in that sound bite is "projection."
To the other end of the stick, I mean - I know you guys are holding back the signature numbers until the deadline, but can we play "hot and cold" in terms of how close you are to reaching the number?
ZIELINSKI: Getting closer. Getting closer.
OLBERMANN: Are you 10,000 away or 50,000 away or what?
ZIELINSKI: I think this number is going to be beyond any challenge.
ZIELINSKI: That Scott Walker is going to mount, and - look, we got ridiculed when - it wasn't just us. It was this grassroots effort, you know - grandmas in Elkhorn, folks with disabilities, seniors and people from all spectrums. We got laughed at by his little right-wing cadres for starting this thing.
And I think for a moment - Scott Walker is a pretty cool cucumber. I heard him on a press call about these corruption allegations. He's a cool cucumber - but I think, for a second, we could knock the smug look off his face. Just for a second.
OLBERMANN: Graeme Zielinski, communications director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. As always, great thanks for some your time tonight.
ZIELINSKI: Thank you. Go Pack.
OLBERMANN: And anything on Ryan Braun before we go? Okay, forget it.
You want invisibility cloak? You can have one. Of course it only works for 40 trillionths of a second and comes in just one size - really, really extra large. The damn thing is 18,000 miles long.
OLBERMANN: Your chance to be Harry Potter is dependent upon the folks at the physics quad at my alma mater. Good luck to you. Maysoon Zayid joins me on a real, live invisibility cloak.
First, the "Worst" - why three New Hampshire Republicans want all legislation to meet with the approval of this king of the Britons, who died 797 years ago. King of the who? The Britons. Who are the Britons?
OLBERMANN: The invisibility cloak from Harry Potter comes closer to being a reality, and - more alarming for you? The people bringing it closer work at my old college.
First, because these people can't become invisible fast enough for my taste, here are "Countdown's" top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze? To Congressman Ron Paul and a group supporting him called "NHLiberty4Paul."
They decided to attack the real threat to Congressman Paul's chances in the New Hampshire primary - former governor, former ambassador to China John Huntsman by implying he is an agent of the Chinese government. Seriously.
Like the movie, they call their video, "Manchurian Candidate." Here is a version edited down so it's not quite so boring. (EDITED NHLIBERTY4PAUL VIDEO PLAYS.)
He has a daughter adopted from China and another adopted from India. Ron Paul has Rand. And Ron Paul supporters are making fun of Huntsman's kids?
The runner-up? Self-destructing Maricopa, Arizona County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
With the Department of Justice investigating 400 allegations of racial discrimination and other civil rights violations against Arpaio and his little crowd of skull thumpers, Arpaio has demanded that Justice supply him with the name of every Arizona resident that Justice interviewed. If the Justice Department won't do it, Arpaio is threatening to sue to get the names.
Funny that a county sheriff wouldn't understand, you know, the law thing. But if you misunderstood your title and - instead of sheriff - you think you are Lord High Executioner, that will happen.
But our winners? Bob Kingsbury, Tim Twombly and Lucien Vita. They are the three freshmen Republican members of the New Hampshire state House and - in this time of tea party activism and the eminently stupid assumption that the Constitution is perfect because Americans were automatically smarter in the 1700s, when we still believed in blood letting and slavery - Messers. Kingsbury, Twombly and Vita have found that there is even one more extreme past extreme.
They have introduced legislation - it's New Hampshire House Bill 1580 - demanding that most new bills passed by the legislature must now be justified with a direct quotation from - the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta! The agreement the lords of England forced upon the king in 1215.
Apart from the fact that the Magna Carta deals mostly with Welsh hostages and serfs and how "all evil customs connected with forests are to be abolished" and "if anyone has borrowed a sum of money from Jews, dies before the debt is repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains underage" - the Magna Carta failed. It helped precipitate a British civil war. And it has never had any standing in an American government. So, why on earth would three New Hampshire state reps want to attach it to every piece of legislation?
Because these three guys don't really know what the Magna Carta is. Representative Vita says he needs to "bone up on its content, but it's a document that still functions. It's a little bit older than the Constitution, but the same thought is there."
No. No, it isn't. It was a document for monarchy, designed to protect the rights of the king. And we declared our independence from the country that adopted it.
New Hampshire State Reps. Bob Kingsbury, Tim Twombly and Lucien Vita - who need to get out more - today's "Worst Persons in the World."
OLBERMANN: Einstein's theory of relativity dictates that gravity can slow down time. Now, for the first time in history, a team of physicists at Cornell University have found a way to stop time entirely - I knew they were going to do this to me - or at least appear to stop time by shaping light, by creating an instant of invisibility.
In our first story on the "Countdown" - think of it as scientists erasing a split second of history, rendering an event undetected for a fraction of a fraction of second - in this case, 40 trillionths of a second. Want to see it again?
In other words it's an invisibility cloak. It's not a long lasting invisibility cloak, but it's a start.
Hardly enough time to wander the halls of Hogwarts - and it does seem straight out of science fiction - but the phenomenon known as "temporal cloaking" alters how fast light flows, changing the dimension of time, thereby rendering objects and events "invisabule."
We see events happening as light from them reaches our eyes. Cornell scientists utilized beams of light that move too fast for the human eye to even register - much like my college experience there.
In this experiment - as one beam of light moves through a time lens that's thinner than a human hair, scientists shoot out two more beams of light, that are shown in red, which travel at different speeds, interrupt the beam, creating an invisible gap in time that our eyes cannot detect but we can make fake animation for.
Alexander Gaeta, the director of Cornell's School of Applied and Engineering Physics department, said of the study, "You kind of create a hole in time where an event takes place. You just don't know that anything ever happened."
The study was partly funded by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency - DARPA. Wasn't there a sitcom? DARPA and Greg? DARPA, a unit of the Pentagon that develops futuristic technology for military purposes.
But researchers say a more practical use could include more efficiently streaming data to processors. After all, according to scientists at my alma mater, it would take something that was 18,600 miles long to render that single second invisible. And that's a hell of a long cloak. I'll have that in a extra, extra, extra, extra, extra large.
At this point, let's turn to comedienne and the always-astonishing "Countdown" contributor Maysoon Zayid. It's good to see you.
MAYSOON ZAYID: Good to see you too.
OLBERMANN: Happy New Year.
ZAYID: Happy New Year.
OLBERMANN: This co-author of the study, the mad scientist at Cornell - the latest in a series of them - he says that, "There may be good uses of this technology, but for some reason, people are more interested in the more-illicit applications." Do you have any hunch on what kind of illicit applications he's referring to?
ZAYID: I do. I have a hunch on what he is referring to with these illicit applications, but I am afraid to even guess what people would do, or vocalize that in any way, because the only thing I can think of is something illegal. And if I talked about it, I could get indefinitely detained under NDAA. And unless I was in, you know, access of a cloak to throw it over myself and get out there in one trillionth of a second. It's going down quick.
OLBERMANN: Now, you're cutting yourself more time than you need. It's 40 trillionths of a second.
ZAYID: Oh, my gosh, I don't think I can even get it around me in that time.
OLBERMANN: Right. What - if you had one, what would you do with it? Say, if it worked, if it actually worked for, say, 40 minutes at a time rather than 40 trillionths of a second?
ZAYID: Forty minutes gives me a lot of stuff to do, but I was thinking about the 40 trillionth of a second. If I had that 40 trillionth of a second, the only thing I could think of - random act of violence. Right? So I am saying, I am going to take that 40 trillionths of a second and I'm going smack Chris Brown across the head. That's what I'm going to do with it.
OLBERMANN: Okay. Why? Anything about him? Just on behalf of women? Or -
ZAYID: Because, yeah - I mean, I am doing it on behalf of humanity, and I am doing it on behalf of women. But also, because I would get such a distinct pleasure of the fact that - I could do it without a cloak, but it's so much more fun when you are invisible.
OLBERMANN: All right, we will switch this up.
OLBERMANN: Apply it to politics. You have that cloak - what would you - which GOP candidate would you throw it over and why?
ZAYID: Okay, this was a difficult choice for me because my first instinct, immediately? Newt, because the doughboy complexion freaks me out. But I have decided to, you know, do a service to society - we're throwing the invisibility cloak over Santorum. It's disgusting. It makes me vomit. I can't watch TV with my mother any more. Put the cloak on Santorum.
OLBERMANN: I think he is in the process of slowly pulling up the cloak over himself, for a lot longer than 40 trillionths of a second. Because you know he said - he said "blah people," not black people.
ZAYID: He said blah people.
OLBERMANN: He stopped himself.
ZAYID: Oh, I see. They're a whole different - they are a whole different breed.
OLBERMANN: Apparently. There are enough of them, whoever they are, they are enough of him for him to make somebody scared of him.
ZAYID: Exactly. And then Michele Bachmann has gone. We can't even do the invisibility thing with her, because she stepped away. And I say we pour one out for Michelle Bachmann tonight and, by that, I mean a bottle of pills.
OLBERMANN: But she's - she was the only one of them who turned out to be rational. She got her fanny kicked in the Iowa caucus. And she went, "I hear you. I'm leaving. Peace out."
ZAYID: It was an amazing moment of clarity that Rick Perry completely lacked. I felt like he was the girl on "The Bachelor" who didn't get the rose but refused to get in the limousine. I was like, "Rick, it's time to go home."
OLBERMANN: Yeah, but she - but she - she pulled the cloak up over herself.
ZAYID: She did.
OLBERMANN: She did.
ZAYID: She's gone.
OLBERMANN: So, in other words - unless Palin re-enters - the first two people who were smart enough to actually see that people didn't like them were Palin and Bachmann. And if you had said that a year ago, and made that bet, you would own enough to buy - full circle - an invisibility cloak from Cornell University.
ZAYID: Yes. And Pat Robertson knew that, because God told him but he didn't tell me and now I have no cloak.
OLBERMANN: I can't tell you who it is.
"Countdown" contributor Maysoon Zayid. As always, a pleasure to have you here and we'll see you again soon, I hope.
ZAYID: Thank you so much.
OLBERMANN: That's "Countdown" for this, the 362nd day since John Boehner and the Republicans took the House. Thus, 362 days in which the Republicans have failed to pass a jobs bill of any kind.
Congratulations on getting through another day of this crap. This, they sold me as an invisibility cloak. It doesn't work. I am Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.