'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
#ShowPlug 1: "Boring" & "Inevitable" not mutually exclusive. @Markos, Nate Silver of @fivethirtyeight on Romney after 24% Illinois turnout
#ShowPlug 2: @NAACP President @BenJealous on Trayvon Martin. New domestic violence charges vs shooter; Beck's claim Martin was "aggressor"
#ShowPlug 3: AZ rep writes women should be forced to watch abortion before having one; NFL suspends a coach for a year; is Tebow traded?
#ShowPlug Last: And it takes a lot to make the Romney Gaffe Hall of Fame. The Etch-A-Sketch comment makes it; we'll play all the hits
#5 'Romney Rides Again', Markos Moulitsas
#5 'Romney Rides Again', Nate Silver
#4 Breaking news on Trayvon Martin, Ben Jealous
# Time Marches On!
#3 'War On Women', Chad Campbell
#2 'Roughing The Passer', Tim Burke
#1 'Etch A Mitt', Michael Musto
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Markos Moulitsas, Chad Campbell, Tim Burke, Ben Jealous, Nate Silver, Michael Musto
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Jeb Bush: "Primary elections have been held in thirty-four states, and now is the time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney and take our message of fiscal conservatism and job creation to all voters this fall."
Wow, with endorsers like these, who needs white knights at brokered conventions? Mitt Romney's message of bold boredom resonates with Jeb Bush. And 76 percent of eligible Illinois primary voters stayed home.
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: What a night, wow.
OLBERMANN: You said it, Mr. Excitement.
(Excerpt from video clip) DICK DURBIN: You could draw a bigger crowd at a Green Bay Packers rally in downtown Chicago.
OLBERMANN: The Trayvon Martin case. Revealed today, the shooter's past history of domestic violence. And what word is he mumbling as his call to 911 breaks up? "Punks" or "coons?"
(Excerpt from audio clip) GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: The back entrance.
(Excerpt from audio clip) DISPATCHER: Are you following him?
(Excerpt from audio clip) ZIMMERMAN: Yeah.
OLBERMANN: The victim's parents speak.
(Excerpt from video clip) SABRINA FULTON: I just hurt and my heart hurts because this guy has not been arrested.
OLBERMANN: And Glenn Beck's website insists the dead teenager was "the aggressor," and might have been suspended from school for armed robbery, arson, kidnapping, or sexual battery - even though it was really for being late to class.
The war on women. The Arizona legislator who thinks women should witness an abortion before being permitted to have one.
The coach who won a Super Bowl 13 months ago - suspended for a year, for offering his players bounties if they injured opponents.
And Tim Tebow is dealt to the New York Jets? Tim Tebow is not dealt to the New York Jets. Oh, man, he can't even complete a trade? And the hits just keep on coming.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: Corporations are people, my friends. The trees are the right height. I have some great friends that are NASCAR team owners. I tell you what. Ten thousand bucks. Ten thousand dollar bet. I like being able to fire people. I'm also unemployed.
(Excerpt from video clip) ANN ROMNEY: I don't even consider myself wealthy.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually.
OLBERMANN: To say nothing of Seamus. And now, meet Mitt Romney's Senior Adviser in Charge of Etch A Sketch:
(Excerpt from video clip) ERIC FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch A Sketch.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Etch A Sketch draws and writes like magic! Turn the knobs and the lines go up and down and all around.
(Excerpt from video clip) FEHRNSTROM: You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Turn Etch A Sketch upside down and shake, and everything disappears!
OLBERMANN: And hey, kids, now it's got 99 percent more - "Countdown!"
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: I know!
OLBERMANN: Good evening. This is Wednesday, March 21st, 231 days until the 2012 presidential election.
Mitt Romney wins the Illinois GOP primary, a major endorsement, and some grudging, tepid tea party support.
Fifth story on the "Countdown" - all but one of the numbers, namely turnout, in Romney's favor in Illinois. So long as he keeps flattening Rick Santorum and keeps his delegate count ahead of his campaign gaffe count, he can keep his scorecard on an Etch A Sketch.
Romney basking in his supporters' applause in Illinois last night:
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: Tonight, we thank the people of Illinois for their vote and for this extraordinary victory. Thank you so much.
OLBERMANN: Rick Santorum seeming just as pleased with his tallies:
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SANTORUM: We won the areas that conservatives and Republicans populate. We're very happy about that. We're happy about the delegates we're going to get, too.
OLBERMANN: Based on the results, it doesn't take much to make Rick Santorum happy. Romney beating Santorum by 12 points - 47 percent of the vote. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich failing to crack double digits.
The Associated Press estimating Romney's take for the night at another 43 delegates, 10 for Santorum, putting Romney's total at 563, more than double Santorum's. And, of course - 1,144 needed to win, 1,273 delegates remaining.
But - with 76 percent of eligible Illinois primary voters not casting ballots last night, and thus, about 89 percent of them not voting for Romney - Democratic senator from Illinois Dick Durbin was teed up for the comedy.
(Excerpt from video clip) DICK DURBIN: You could draw a bigger crowd at a Green Bay Packers rally in downtown Chicago.
OLBERMANN: Romney's senior campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom also adding some comedy, putting a damper on Romney's day, telling CNN it would be no problem for his boss to completely readjust his current positions to appeal to moderates in November.
(Excerpt from video clip) FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.
OLBERMANN: This just in: Romney saying, his senior adviser's comment aside, he'll be running - not as the Etch A Sketch man, nor the Magna-Sticks candidate - but as a conservative Republican in the general election if nominated.
Much more on his Etch A Sketch candidacy later in this news hour.
Also, with some potential to shake up the race, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush endorsing Romney, though not in person, and not much of an endorsement, instead writing to The Tampa Bay Times, "Now is the time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney and take our message of fiscal conservatism and job creation to all voters this fall."
Whoa, calm down there, Governor.
Speaking for the GOP's counterculture, Rick Santorum:
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: That's what this race is coming down to, is the establishment - the money - versus the people.
OLBERMANN: Santorum also wishing he could get a nod like that, too.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: They should all start supporting me, because I am the strong conservative candidate.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Gingrich's spokesman R.C. Hammond piling on, saying of the endorsement, "It's the completion of the establishment trifecta."
That would be former President George H.W. Bush, former senate majority leader and 1996 distant presidential runner-up Bob Dole, having previously endorsed Romney before Governor Bush did.
Romney also getting tepid support from a group chaired by another former Republican leader - House Majority Leader Dick Army's tea party "Freedom Works" telling The Washington Times, "that while it is not endorsing the former Massachusetts governor, it is a statistical fact that the numbers favor Mitt Romney. We are dedicated to defeating Obama and electing a conservative Senate."
And with the next Republican primary scheduled for Louisiana on Saturday, Santorum campaigning there as the anti-Romney:
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: You have someone that is not going to change when the climate changes, not going to change when the election - the electorate in front of you changes.
OLBERMANN: While Gingrich, also campaigning in Louisiana, seeming to warn supporters a GOP loss this fall could doom them to an apocalypse.
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: You are going to inherit a country in which your elites believe in things that aren't true. You're going to inherit a country in which the policies are actually anti-American.
OLBERMANN: Who are those elites, Kimosabe?
For more on last night's Romney win and the road ahead, I'm joined by Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos founder and publisher and "Countdown" contributor. Good evening, my friend.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: As an aside, about Gingrich's last comment that we heard there - what's the name of that anti-American country in which the elites believe things that aren't true? Is that George Bush's America, 2003? Is that the name of it?
MOULITSAS: You mean that the America that was into endless war and torture and - okay, yeah. I think we have different definitions of what anti-Americanism is all about.
Personally, I happen to think that having billionaires buy candidates and being killed for going out and buying Skittles while being black - I think those things are un-American. So, we clearly have different definitions. And that's why we have elections. That's why these elections are so important.
OLBERMANN: Last - yesterday in Illinois - the 24 percent turnout, the all-time-low for a presidential primary in Illinois. There's always ways to spin that. One of the popular ones today was Romney got more actual votes than anybody did in the 2008 primaries - or the Republican one, anyway. But, is that the most significant number of the campaign so far? Twenty-four percent turnout?
MOULITSAS: Yeah, we're seeing this in contest after contest, where the vast majority of states' turnout is actually down. And it's doubly bad because there actually wasn't a contest in 2008. It was McCain who had locked up the nomination very early in January.
So, the fact that they actually have a competitive primary and they can't get anybody to turn out, at a time when they tell us that they're so angry at that Kenyan Muslim socialist in the White House, that they just can't wait for November, but they can't even be bothered to show up to pick a nominee tells us that they really either are disgusted by their field or completely bored and uninspired by that field. And either way, that's good for Democrats in November.
OLBERMANN: To that point - the Jeb Bush endorsement from the Tampa Bay paper, it's a lot longer than what I read. I read the exciting sentence. Is that just the way he feels? Is that sort of representative of the campaign, or is there deliberate wiggle room, in case he needs to back out, in case we have the proverbial - although it seems unlikelier and unlikelier each time we talk about it - the backroom, cloak room, brokered convention deal in the summer?
MOULITSAS: Yeah, I don't see any chance of that happening. I think what we're seeing is that the establishment, they tried so hard to bring in a white knight. They failed miserably, and are sort of resigned to the fact that Romney is going to be their person and they have got to be the good soldiers. But I suspect that the backroom deals right now, they're looking ahead to 2016. I don't think there's going to be a whole lot of energy into 2012.
OLBERMANN: We're going to go and do an entire segment at the end of the show with Michael Musto, about Romney's adviser and the Etch A Sketch moment and go through his - just his recent history of goof-ups. Why does this one, though, resonate - in your opinion - and should we not be grateful for these gaffes? Because otherwise, wouldn't this campaign feel like going to 150 consecutive Lana Del Rey concerts?
MOULITSAS: You know, I'm really angry at myself for not coming up with that Etch A Sketch metaphor, because it's the perfect encapsulation.
I mean, the reason it's resonated so well is because we have a narrative this year, of this cycle, that Mitt Romney has been literally on the other side of every issue he talks about. He has no core, no conviction, nothing he won't sell out for political expediency. And then, here comes one of his advisers and confirms it, using this fantastic metaphor that we can have a lot of fun with. So, that's the reason I think that this is going to be sort of the "flip-flopper" of 2004.
I mean, this is going to have a lasting impact. It's going to be the metaphor to describe Mitt Romney all the way through November.
And I have got to say the fact that it's self-inflicted, that it came from his own campaign, is just mind-boggling and a gift from heaven to Democrats.
OLBERMANN: Etch A Sketch of Seamus the dog. Campaign? Over.
Daily Kos founder and publisher, "Countdown" contributor Markos Moulitsas. As always, great thanks for your time tonight.
MOULITSAS: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: Let's break down some of the numbers coming out of last night's primary. And who better to do that than Nate Silver, the FiveThirtyEight blogger with The New York Times, and the inventor of the application of statistics to elections? And, congratulations on the fourth anniversary of that, by the way.
NATE SILVER: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: What's the most significant number, in your opinion, that came out of Illinois yesterday?
SILVER: Well, I've become a delegate guy at this point. Romney is now exactly 300 delegates ahead - and The Associated Press count has about two and a half times as many - as Santorum does.
I mean, just the past few days - where he gained another 40 in Illinois, and a net of 20 in Puerto Rico where Santorum went down there and got, I think literally, eight percent of the vote. My friend got a score of eight on a math test once. I got a 20 or something, but he got eight. And that is kind of what it reminded me of.
But, you know, he's pulled far enough head now where it's very difficult to envision anyone else getting a majority. It doesn't mean there is no chance of chaos down the line, but, you know, Santorum doesn't really have a path very much any more.
OLBERMANN: In 2008, with the Democrats, there was a particular focus on turnout in the primaries, and how - no matter what the damage would seemingly have been inflicted by that race on the eventual nominee - that the turnout was indicative of great excitement and excellent chances in the general election, whether or not one caused the other is not true, not proven, certainly on one election. But there does seem to, at least, have been a sequential series of events there.
Is there any evidence of primary excitement leading to improvement or dis-improvement of chances and, in that context - what does, you know, 24 percent turnout in Illinois mean?
SILVER: I mean, it's hard to say for sure. One thing that we do know - that's pretty clear in the historical record - is that turnout at the midterm doesn't predict turnout at the next election. So, the fact that you had very excited Republicans in 2010 doesn't prove anything about how they'll behave in 2012.
And so far, you have seen somewhat tepid enthusiasm - although keep in mind that, when Romney probably is their nominee - there are going to be a lot of Republicans who will want to get an incumbent named Barack Obama out of office. And that's usually a pretty powerful motivating force.
I would think if you had - if the campaign is going really badly for Romney, say the economy is zooming along - then you might see people hold out as kind of a protest, and that could allow Obama to run up the score. But in a close election, competent campaigns can get their partisan voters to turn out, the majority of the time.
OLBERMANN: The exits yesterday - one number in particular. Romney took 60 percent of the primary voters last night who thought he had the best chance - or, of people who went to the polls and decided to vote - for the person who had the best chance of beating the president. Is that the bottom line - from what you can ascertain, statistically - in the Republican race?
SILVER: Yeah. I mean, I think that electability edge is enough to overcome - for a plurality of Republican voters, maybe - doubts about his conservatism - conservatism, right? Without that, then Santorum probably is closer to the average Republican voter on most issues, certainly on social policy, I would think.
I mean, the irony is that Romney's electability case isn't all that terrific, really. Where you look at his favorability ratings or his head-to-head numbers against Obama, they're pretty mediocre. And he's run a campaign that's been competent, but has had some flaws - like we saw today, for instance.
But the problem is, if you're Rick Santorum, instead of staying on that message, you go and talk about contraception or something else. You don't have a lot of advisers. You don't have a lot surrogates backing you up. And so, it's hard for him to drive a message on that.
And, at some point - as you get closer to the convention and it becomes harder and harder for anyone else to win - then it becomes, "Well, either I pick Romney or we have chaos." And they might not like Romney, but that's a good reason not to vote for Santorum or Gingrich.
OLBERMANN: Last question - does not pertain to Illinois in particular, but it was the most interesting number I've heard in the last week and I wanted to get your opinion about it - the polling in Virginia that suggested that Obama was beating each of the Republican contenders by sizable numbers - was this a surprise to you? Is it an outlier? Interpret it for me.
SILVER: Yeah, I think you should be careful about looking at polls in individual states this early out. You want to look the president's approval rating, which - right now, for Obama - suggests that it's kind of the 50/50 proposition, maybe a little bit better, if you want to look at the economy and maybe look toward candidate favorability ratings on issues like that.
But, you know, I think to go into the state-by-state math is a little too soon for that - with some exceptions. Michigan, for instance will be a difficult state for Romney, I think, because of his stance on the auto bailout. You take one state off the map in a close election, that could make a fair amount of difference. But exactly which states will lead to the best paths, we don't know - and won't know, probably - for another several months.
OLBERMANN: We'll check with you before the election to find out how it turns out.
Nate Silver, of FiveThirtyEight and The New York Times. As always, a pleasure to see you, sir.
SILVER: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We did not shortchange the Mitt Romney senior adviser claiming the general election is like an Etch A Sketch, wherein you can shake it and all the policies that have gone before are erased. To say nothing of the mistakes, like the one he made when he said that. In depth on that, later in the hour, and we're glad he didn't make reference instead to Winky Dink.
First, the city council of Sanford, Florida has voted "no confidence" in its own police chief after the Trayvon Martin killing. The president of the NAACP joins me next.
OLBERMANN: It's a gaffe a minute at Team Romney. Add the Etch A Sketch comment to one of the greatest collections of mistakes in campaign history.
First, the "no confidence" vote tonight from the city council for its own police chief in Sanford, Florida. The big picture of the Trayvon Martin case as well. The president of the NAACP, Benjamin Jealous, who called for that police chief's resignation, joins me next.
OLBERMANN: As rallies protesting the death of Trayvon Martin reached as far afield as New York City, the late Florida teenager's family spoke out. The city commission in the town of Sanford where the shooting took place passed a "no confidence" vote on its own Police Chief Bill Lee.
And there was more disturbing news about the man who killed Trayvon Martin. In our fourth story - The Orlando Sentinel obtained court records indicating that George Zimmerman's former fiancée had filed a petition against him in 2005 for having allegedly pushed her and taken her cellphone after she insisted he leave her home. She also claimed that, two years earlier, he had "open-hand smacked her in the mouth." And a year before that, groped her over her objections.
Demands for the arrest of Zimmerman - who, while on neighborhood watch in a gated community in Sanford, Florida - shot Martin last month grew not only there, but also this evening at the Million Hoodie March in New York. Martin's parents were in attendance there.
His mother had spoken publicly this morning:
(Excerpt from video clip) FULTON: I just hurt and my heart hurts because this guy has not been arrested.
OLBERMANN: The entirety of that guy - George Zimmerman's - call to 911 before he killed Martin has now been made public. Just before the dispatcher warned Zimmerman not to follow the young man, something - either the word "punks," or the racial epithet "coons" - is mumbled by Zimmerman, just as his phone seemingly breaks up.
(Excerpt from audio clip) DISPATCHER: Which entrance is that that he's heading towards?
(Excerpt from audio clip) ZIMMERMAN: The back entrance -
OLBERMANN: And Sanford city commission passing that "no confidence" vote. City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr., after the 3-2 vote, expected to decide whether police Chief Lee will be fired or asked to resign - unclear when either of those options might happen.
But - just to add absurdity to the pain of this case - in an article from which some of the most inflammatory language has since been scrubbed, Glenn Beck's website identified Trayvon Martin as "the aggressor," and assumes that reports that the young man had been suspended from school ten days for tardiness are lies, because ten days is also the punishment in the school systems of Miami - which is nowhere near Sanford - for armed robbery, arson, hate crimes, kidnapping, possession of explosives, and sexual battery.
It's back to reality. And I'm honored to be joined now by the president and CEO of the NAACP, Ben Jealous. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
BEN JEALOUS: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: You've been calling for the resignation of this police chief in Sanford - Bill Lee - based on his handling of this case and other cases that preceded it. What does this vote tonight by the city council there mean, in terms that?
JEALOUS: What this means is that the council is listening to the people of this community. That the city commission has heard the citizens saying, loud and clear - you know, too many of us have lost faith in this chief, and he has just got to go.
With that said, because of a pattern here that long predates this chief, we're saying that there's got to also be a top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top investigation of the actions of this department, in this case and in many other cases.
OLBERMANN: You mentioned this, relative to preceding cases. What are the preceding cases and what is the theme that you've seen in them?
JEALOUS: 2005, two men - security guards with connections to this police department, one a weekend volunteer police officer, the other one, family members on the force - kill an unarmed black man and ultimately get away with murder.
Then, in 2010, caught on videotape - made national news - the son of a lieutenant on this force jumps a black homeless man, beats him up, and serves no jail time.
And now this neighborhood watch captain, who had spoken to the police - called the police - 46 times in 56 days, has walked the streets for weeks, and has been allowed to free for weeks, even though he stalked, assaulted and murdered a young black man in cold blood.
And so, the theme that emerges here, Keith is that a black man's life in this town has less value than it should, and that people who have a connection to this police department, be it social or formal, are given wide latitude.
Even so wide, that they're willing to, you know, absurdly reinterpret a law like the "Stand your Ground" law - which, when you read the "Stand your Ground" law, what it says is "Look, if somebody stalks you, of if somebody attacks you, if somebody pulls out a gun on you, you have a right to use equal and opposite force." Well, the only person in this case who, you know, had that experience was Trayvon Martin.
OLBERMANN: Is there a legitimate reason, to your knowledge, that George Zimmerman has yet to be arrested, or - even dialing it back a notch - at least to have had his concealed gun permit taken away, which also hasn't happened.
JEALOUS: No. I mean, and there's no reason why the evidence at the scene wasn't gathered, why they didn't, you know, check his hands for powder residue, why they didn't confiscate the clothes he was wearing for DNA evidence, why they didn't check him as they checked Trayvon's corpse for drug and alcohol content. In any other city in this country - and I would say, I would dare say, in this state - a man who shoots a boy in cold blood is put in jail.
As somebody said in church last night - in the middle of this packed-to-the-rafters town hall meeting, a thousand people outside - a man stood up and said, "Look, in Sanford, if you kill a dog, you end up in jail the next day." Trayvon Martin was killed, this beautiful boy was killed, and his killer has been allowed to walk the streets for weeks.
OLBERMANN: We know the FBI and the Department of Justice are coordinating an investigation. A local grand jury is going to convene in about 20 days. In your assessment - combined with this vote tonight in Sanford, about the "no confidence" vote on the police chief - is all this enough, and is it fast enough?
JEALOUS: You know, right now, action has to be taken to get rid of this chief. And the reality is that we're looking at weeks, maybe months, for both of these investigations to come to a close. You know, this grand jury is saying it could sit for 20 days. We've seen similar investigations by the DOJ like this take months. And the people of Sanford deserve to know that their leaders are actually taking action to be ensure that they can go to sleep every night and wake up every day knowing that all of their children, regardless of their color, will be respected and protected by the cops in this town.
And, you know, that's the issue. No one here is saying that it was Zimmerman - or that Mr. Zimmerman is a racist or not a racist. What we are saying is that, too many times, black men - especially in this town - black people in general, or people of color, maybe even beyond that, have just been treated unfairly. And when they've been killed, it just hasn't been taken as seriously as it should.
OLBERMANN: Well, you can even reduce it from that. If you have got a guy running around with a gun claiming to be on the neighborhood watch, shooting citizens in his town who were later proved to be almost completely innocent, or completely innocent - there is an elemental level here in which it doesn't matter - color, race, it doesn't matter. Gender -
JEALOUS: That's exactly right.
OLBERMANN: It's a fundamental issue. You don't want people just pretending to be cops and shooting unarmed citizens.
JEALOUS: That's right. I mean - look, this case exists in a very specific racial context here. But the case really sort of, if you will, rises far above specific racial concerns.
I mean, it's hard to look at a boy as beautiful, as poised, as athletic, as, sort of - you know, just as kind of shining and clearly well-loved as Trayvon Martin.
And I don't care what color you are. Not having to remind you about some boy who you care about in your life. And it's hard, as a parent or just as a human being, to imagine sitting still while somebody was allowed to hunt your child and kill them simply because they adopted the title of neighborhood watch captain.
OLBERMANN: The president and CEO of the NAACP, Ben Jealous. Again, great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
JEALOUS: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Add Etch A Sketch to the canon of gaffes from the Mitt Romney campaign.
And no matter what happens next fall, this was the most dramatic day of the football year. A coach suspended for a season, a quarterback's trade to New York put on hold. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: The latest crazy idea from the craziest state in the union? Make women watch an abortion before they can legally have one.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date in 1952 was born rock and roll.
The first concert? The Moondog Coronation Ball at the Cleveland Arena in Ohio, emceed by the legendary, and ultimately tragic, disc jockey Alan Freed. It was shut down by fire marshals after the first song by Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams, because there were twenty thousand people inside a building designed to hold 9,500.
You never hear why that happened. Turned out they had planned a second concert but, on the tickets, they printed the same date as the first concert.
"Time Marches On!"
We begin in Grand Rapids, Michigan and check in with today's youth of America.
VIDEO: Seth Mansfield sets record for full chair reclines.
Seth Mansfield here, attempting to break the record for most full chair reclines in thirty seconds. Got the timer right there on screen, 'cause you want to keep this thing sort of professional.
Generally, people sit in an easy chair so they don't have to do sit-ups.
Ultimately, Seth sets the record with 16 full chair reclines. But I think the real champion here is the chair.
I wonder how he learned how to do that?
VIDEO: President Obama look-alike contest in Cartegena, Colombia.
We travel to Colombia for the President Obama look-alike competition. Five presidential doppelgangers emerged from SUVs, escorted by what, I presume, is the winner of a Secret Service look-alike competition.
As the contestants do their best impersonations for the crowd, the judges decide who's the most convincing commander-in-chief. This year's prize goes to 32-year-old mechanic Carlos Alberto Perez.
In a related story, Donald Trump has just demanded that President Obama prove he was not born in Colombia.
VIDEO: Mechanical sculptor Rob Higgs invents complicated corkscrew.
Finally, we end with a glass of wine.
Nothing at the end of the day like a nice glass of Bordeaux. But who wants to go through the hassle of getting out the corkscrew and pouring you own glass?
Now, with this handy invention by mechanical sculptor Rob Higgs, you don't have to. You simply place the bottle into the contraption, turn the crank for several minutes or so, and before you know it, you're enjoying a glass of wine.
And it comes with the added bonus of making your home look like a medieval torture chamber.
Speaking of medieval torture chambers - there's the state of Arizona, making women watch abortions before they can legally have one. One legislator's dream, next.
OLBERMANN: The statement is direct and curt: "I'd like to make a law that mandates a woman watch an abortion being performed," before she is permitted to have one.
In our third story - that was written by an Arizona state representative and it is the latest shot in the latest escalation of the right-wing war on women.
The most disturbing twist, perhaps - it was written by a woman. An anonymous constituent wrote to Republican state Representative Terri Proud to express her opposition to the so-called "Fetal Pain" bill pending in Arizona's legislature. The law would ban abortions after 20 weeks because the fetus can supposedly feel the pain.
Proud allegedly sent back this response - the email was later posted online: "Personally I'd like to make a law that mandates a woman watch an abortion being performed prior to having a surgical procedure. If it's not a life, it shouldn't matter. If it doesn't harm a woman then she shouldn't care, and don't we want more transparency and education in the medical profession anyway? We demand it everywhere else. Until the dead child can tell me that she/he does not feel any pain, I have no intentions of clearing the conscience of the living. I will be voting yes."
This, on the heels of a measure proposed by Proud's colleague in the state house - Republican Nancy Barto - that would shield doctors from being sued from withholding information from pregnant women about potential birth defects to prevent abortions.
And also, state Senator Debbie Lesko's bill that would allow employers to insist that any woman employees getting birth control via company insurance prove that they're not using the contraception merely to prevent pregnancy.
Legislation is also pending in Arizona to cut public funds for health-care services at Planned Parenthood, or any other group that performs abortion services.
Let's bring in Arizona state Representative and House Minority Leader Chad Campbell. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
CHAD CAMPBELL: Thanks for having me on.
OLBERMANN: What is your reaction to this purported email from Representative Proud and can you give me an idea of your reaction in the legislature and among your constituents and colleagues?
CAMPBELL: Yeah. When I first saw the email, I was absolutely shocked. To take such a private matter, and really such a, you know, tough personal choice for many people - and to suggest that you should turn that into almost a spectator sport for a political agenda - was absolutely disgusting to me. And I think that's been the reaction from, at least, all my Democratic colleagues in the legislature, as well as the vast majority of constituents I've talked to - both Democrats and Republicans, as well as independents.
OLBERMANN: Are there implications to the email itself and the fact that it was sent from a state account? Is there anything about this sort of back and forth that is amplified by where she wrote it from?
CAMPBELL: Well, I mean - just the lack of taste is just one implication, and the lack of public decorum, I think, is very problematic. But really, to be honest with you, it's an extreme email written about an extreme agenda, and so there's not much we can do, in terms of the use of a legislative email to write that type of message to a constituent.
But the constituent herself - any constituent out there - can make the choices that need to be made come this November, and that's really what we need to do to turn this state around, and take back Arizona to where it was just a few years ago.
OLBERMANN: The idea of this suggestion being made by this representative - it seems as if, and forgive me for tarring the state with one brush - but it seems to be okay in Arizona for conservatives to suggest that a woman should have to witness an abortion before having one. But if you said, or if I said, "Hey, you know, those who supported the "Papers, please" law should first have to produce their own documents to, you know, an unsympathetic policeman of a different color," we'd be looked at in horror by the conservatives. Just on some sort of balance question, it seems extraordinary to propose this kind of thing.
CAMPBELL: Yeah, I agree with you completely. You know, let there be no doubt that the tea party agenda - here in Arizona, in particular - is full of hypocrisy.
This issue is one point that kind of underscores that, but we could talk about a whole litany of bills that are just hypocritical and almost ironic and would be actually humorous if it wasn't such a serious matter, and that they weren't impacting people's lives on a daily basis, in really just - you know, immensely negative ways.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, I guess I started asking this question two years ago - and I always preface it by saying it's been half in jest and half in sympathy - but I mean, is - what's going on in state government in Arizona? It's as if you were all meeting outside in the sun every day and some people were just going crazier faster than others were.
CAMPBELL: Yeah. Not all of us were meeting outside in the sun every day. Let me make sure that that's clear.
You know, not to make light of it, but I was watching your segment just a minute ago about the guy in the recliner chair that was trying to break the 30-second record - and he's actually more productive than the GOP legislature right now here in Arizona.
You know, the problem with this state is we've been taken over by extremists, and the party that supposedly is the one promoting small government has taken government overreach to a whole new level here in Arizona. They're invading people's bedrooms. They're invading the relationship between a doctor and a patient, and they really don't see any limit in terms of how big they can make government, and how intrusive they can make government, for the people of the state. And it's unfortunate.
But I really, truly believe that people are going to start pushing back. And just the conversations I've had over the past 24 hours - since this email was made public - I think people are really starting to wake up to what's going on here in the state. And they're going to look for a new direction later this year.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, it occurs to me, finally - I don't why this hadn't dawned on me before - but if you could force people to watch an abortion, necessarily, you would be forcing some woman to have an abortion while people watched as well. Perhaps that's even more nefarious.
Good luck in -
CAMPBELL: Yeah, that's a great point.
OLBERMANN: - in trying to stem this tide.
The Arizona state representative and House minority leader Chad Campbell. Once again, thanks for your time.
CAMPBELL: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Add the Etch A Sketch to the litany of the hero of the gaffe factory, Mitt Romney.
And late-breaking news that Tim Tebow now reportedly has his choice of new teams in the National Football League - the New York Jets or the Jacksonville Jaguars. Pray for or against, coming up.
OLBERMANN: So - according to Mitt Romney, his family, and his campaign staff - he'll bet ten thousand dollars that three hundred seventy thousand dollars isn't a lot of money, and that the trees are just the right height for his friends, the NASCAR owners, since corporations are people. And he likes to fire people and his wife drives a couple of Cadillacs, but she doesn't consider herself wealthy. And he's unemployed. And a presidential campaign is like an Etch A Sketch.
And Tim Tebow - traded, or not traded?
OLBERMANN: Thirteen months after he led the New Orleans Saints to their first Super Bowl win, the team's head coach has been suspended for twelve months, without pay, for being involved in a bounty-hunting program.
But in our number two story - the most severe punishment in NFL coaching history comes the same day over-the-top quarterback Tim Tebow is traded to the New York Jets or the Jacksonville Jaguars, or he isn't.
Commissioner Roger Goodell punished more than just coach Sean Payton in the Saints' bounty case. From 2009 to this past season, it was found that the New Orleans defense employed a program in which players were given cash incentives to injure members of the opposing team. General Manager Mickey Loomis is suspended for the first eight regular season games. Saints' Assistant Coach Joe Vitt suspended six games, fined $100,000. The organization fined half a million dollars and will lose two second-round draft picks.
But the harshest punishment was saved for former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, now of the St. Louis Rams, who was deemed to be the mastermind of the program. He is suspended indefinitely without pay, with his case to be reviewed after the 2012 season to see if maybe he'll be reinstated then.
And then there was the trade, maybe, of the very well-known, sometimes controversial NFL quarterback, who was put out of work yesterday when Peyton Manning signed with the Denver Broncos - a trade that may or may not have happened.
2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, the only player ever to appear in an anti-abortion commercial during the Super Bowl, brought Denver into the playoffs last year. But after Manning signed with his team, he was traded to the New York Jets with a seventh-round pick in the upcoming college draft, for a fourth-round pick and a sixth-round pick. Only then, apparently, did the Jets realize the Broncos had paid Tebow a salary advance of five million dollars, and the Broncos wanted the Jets to pay them that amount.
The thing is thus in limbo, with Tebow supposedly having the right to approve a trade to the Jets or Jacksonville unless Denver makes the choice.
And with that confusing information behind us, let's bring in Deadspin assignment editor Tim Burke. Thanks for your time tonight, Tim.
TIM BURKE: Hi, Keith. It's good to be again with you.
OLBERMANN: What the hell is going on with Tim Tebow? Is this the shortest tenure as a New York Jet since Bill Belichick's five minutes as head coach during the news conference 10, 15 years ago?
BURKE: This is unbelievable, Keith. And like our colleague from The Nation, Dave Zirin, put it earlier today, "The New York Jets are not a football franchise. They're a reality show."
And now, it seems that this reality show aspect has somehow funneled its way through to Denver in messing up the details of this trade and now opening it back up for him to come to his hometown of Jacksonville.
OLBERMANN: So, Adam Schefter - who's done good work on this story for ESPN - tweeted in the last half an hour two seemingly contradictory things - "Tebow being allowed to pick the team he wants to go to. He picks the trade - Jets or Jacksonville." And then he sent, "Denver says it will do the trade that is best for its franchise - Jets or Jags." Do we have any idea? These would seem to be mutually exclusive.
BURKE: Well, it's a little weird being here in Jacksonville because there's - you know, Tim Tebow is already the most polarizing player in the NFL and, you know, that filters down to the team support that he has, in which you have this wide gap of supporters in Jacksonville who really want Tebow to come.
And then a lot of people who think they have the best interest of the team. That is to say, they want to see the Jags win. You know, who were, you know, so unbelievably excited and are now, you know, tragically befallen hearing that the trade deal with the Jets has gone through.
And the real question is, you know, if Tim Tebow chooses - if he's allowed to choose, if we really know that that's the case - if he chooses Jacksonville, that'll really bolster the case of the people who want him to be here.
If, for some reason, he chooses the Jets - he suddenly turned his back on his hometown and we have all this drama that's built in, which is a, you know, a completely sort of contrary to the standard NFL narrative.
OLBERMANN: Well, I'll interrupt you by saying that, apparently, he's going to turn his back on his hometown, because Schefter has now tweeted "Denver has agreed to trade Tim Tebow to and a seventh-round pick to the Jets for New York's fourth-round pick and a sixth-round pick" - and he doesn't say anything else about whether or not there's the cash payment to make up for the five million dollars they gave him in advance.
Having thoroughly confused everybody about this - thanks, Mr. Tebow -let me ask you about the bounty suspension, which still strikes me as the more imperative of these stories.
I'm confused by this. It seems to me - and it's been two years since I did the pre-game show for NBC, so maybe the NFL has changed in the last two seasons - but, back in my day, was not the purpose of every play to have two guys at least hit each other?
Were the Saints ever accused of being especially dirty players? What are they being punished, technically, for?
BURKE: Well, in what seems like a really simple-but-harsh punishment for this, you know, offensive bounty system - I think it's a lot more complicated and a little more nuanced, especially because, you know, the NFL is in a really bad place with its veterans and with - despite all the hugs and happiness that came when the lockout ended, the NFL is still not on the best of terms with the players' union.
And the NFL is doing its best to reform its image and show, "Hey, we really care about player safety." And what's the best way that they can do that? It is to drop the biggest punishment down for an instance of the bounty system that became public and to really lay it out on the coach, the public face of the franchise, and that's Sean Payton.
OLBERMANN: But, what's the difference between bounties? Even if you - if you, you know, get past the idea that they're not allowable, what's the difference between bounties for injuring players and giving the NFL sack leader a raise for putting his quarterback - or the other quarterbacks - on their backs as much as possible?
BURKE: I think a lot of this is, again, dealing with some of the lawsuits that have come from the former players and the NFL doing its best to come out there and say, "We're not going to stand for any of this," even though Joe Horn just said earlier today that the bounty system exists in every single NFL locker room.
It's just that - the specific case that Greg Williams, as member of the management, was helping to fund and organize the bounty system. Then I think that Roger Goodell - in his, you know, efforts to be the sergeant-at-arms of everyone's lives in the NFL - has really taken this upon himself to let everybody know that any of this sort of activity is not going to be tolerated, even if it, in reality, is in every single - at every single other NFL club.
OLBERMANN: Unless you're going to change the rules so that you get fined if you cause somebody else to get injured, I don't know where they're going with this.
But lastly - basically a yes or no on this - the hot story about this was that the player who let the NFL know about this - who snitched - was probably the least justice-oriented player in the NFL in the last 10 years. Is it true? Was Jeremy Shockey Fredo in this equation?
BURKE: I'm not - whether or not I knew that, Keith, I'm not necessarily sure I'd be happy to share it, simply because I don't necessarily know if a culture that's specifically dealing with intent to injure people should be - you know, should be targeted that way, as a snitch.
OLBERMANN: Tim Burke of the seminal sports website Deadspin - thanks, Tim.
BURKE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: If that mid-moment prayer thing is called "Tebowing" - do we call the midweek political gaffe "Romney-ing?" The latest in the seemingly endless supply, next.
OLBERMANN: Some political misstatements are offensive, some mistaken, some dumb, some part of a pattern, or - as in our number one story - some are just all of the above.
Tonight, we add the Etch A Sketch to the awe-inspiring number of gaffes by Mitt Romney, his family and his campaign staff.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I'll tell you what - ten thousand bucks. Ten thousand dollar bet. I'm also unemployed. Corporations are people, my friend. I like being able to fire people. I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck. Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually.
(Excerpt from video clip) ANN ROMNEY: I don't even consider myself wealthy.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: But I have some great friends that are NASCAR team owners.
OLBERMANN: And we can add the woof of Seamus, after David Letterman devoted a segment to "The Piddler on the Roof" with Gail Collins of The New York Times last night.
Tonight, we welcome to the Hall of Fame Eric Fehrnstrom, the senior campaign adviser for Romney - who decided to compare the campaign's hard-line message in the primaries, then becoming more moderate for the general election - to a children's toy.
(Excerpt from video clip) FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.
OLBERMANN: Of course, with a softball like that - or an Etch A Sketch like that - Romney's opponents immediately pounced.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: Imagine, had Mitt Romney been around at the time we were drafting our Constitution - he'd have just shaken it, and shook it up after it was approved, to rewrite it.
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: This is a spare Etch A Sketch. So, I'm going to give it to you guys to play with, all right? Do you want it?
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Sure.
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: Yeah, she's ready. She could now be a presidential candidate.
OLBERMANN: Note to Mr. Santorum - they didn't have Etch A Sketches in 1787.
Let's bring in the one and only Michael Musto, Village Voice columnist, author of "Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back." Thanks for your time tonight, Michael.
MICHAEL MUSTO: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Is the Etch A Sketch the best children's toy analogy for the Romney campaign?
MUSTO: No, I think a yo-yo. He's a complete yo-yo. He's a total putz. But at least a yo-yo comes back up once in a while. A yo-yo is actually fun. And a yo-yo is for gay marriage, so maybe not.
OLBERMANN: Is this a gaffe, actually? Or do we actually - did we get insight that even Romney's advisers think of his campaign in terms of toys?
MUSTO: Well, if Romney is a conservative like everyone else, they probably think of it in terms of sex toys. But I think it would have been awkward for the campaign adviser to say, "We think of this campaign as a giant dildo with Ben Wa balls and a fleshlight - look it up - and lube and a cat o' nine tails. So, he went for the Etch-A-Sketch motif, which was way more family-friendly. I thought it was delightful.
OLBERMANN: I think you missed two or three references to adult toys there, and I'm grateful. No, no, no, no. What children's toy - and let me emphasize children's toy - would best describe the campaign of Rick Santorum?
MUSTO: I would say a Chatty Cathy doll, mixed with a Bratz, mixed with a soupçon of a really annoying spinning top. All the toys that you hated. Maybe a my Very Little Pony. All the toys you would give to a children - to children less fortunate to yourselves - in a very patronizing way.
OLBERMANN: And the same question again - emphasizing children's toy - for ten points, what's the symbol of the Newt Gingrich campaign?
MUSTO: Mr. Potato Head. I mean, he looks like a Mr. Potato Head. And a Mr. Potato Head is basically a veggie version of an Etch A Sketch. I mean, you shake it up, the parts come off, you start again. Or, you just eat it or turn it into vodka.
OLBERMANN: Do we think this last comment about the Etch A Sketch is going to have more life to it even than the Seamus-the-dog story?
As I mentioned, Letterman did a whole segment on it last night. He's been doing a joke a night. Thirty-five percent of the people polled said it would make them less likely to vote for Romney. Where do - I mean, we like our - we love our dogs in this country. Do we immortalize our Etch A Sketches, or is it the other way around?
MUSTO: Well, I tried to draw an Etch A Sketch picture of a really expensive car with a dog and I couldn't do it. So I think - and by the way, that was a homage to the "National Lampoon's Vacation," when Romney did that - where they strapped granny's corpse on the hood of the car, remember? So, it was a very sweet cinematic reference, maybe.
But no, I think Mitt is definitely going to be more known as the Etch-A-Sketch-y candidate and his slogans are going to be stuff like, "Want to come up and see my Etch A Sketches?" "Want to play with my two knobs?" or, "Let's shake it up, baby, and start all over again."
OLBERMANN: And how soon before we get the commemorative Romney Etch A Sketch?
MUSTO: That's what Romney wants to know. He keeps calling Toys R' Us, but they're too busy working on the W. Bush pet-goat edition of the book.
OLBERMANN: Oh, Lord.
MUSTO: So, Romney's going to have to go back to working on getting into the White House. And once you're there, at least you get to play Twister with the interns.
OLBERMANN: Michael Musto, "Fork on the Left, Knife on the Right" - or "Knife in the Back" - I'll get it right. Thanks, Michael. Take care.
MUSTO: Etch A Sketch on my left.
OLBERMANN: There you go.
That's "Countdown." Congratulations on getting through another day of this crap. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.