'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, January 6th, 2012
#ShowPlug 1: Strongest 6-months job growth since 2006, economy suddenly shaping up as Obama strongpoint for reelection.
#ShowPlug 2: Bill @BPShow Press, @Craig_Crawford, @RyanGrim on POTUS; GOP freakout, Santorum calling himself "Jesus Candidate"
#ShowPlug 3: Possible Santorum meant it as in "Jesus? I'M a candidate?" McCain also accidently endorses President Obama's reelection
#ShowPlug 4: GOP never learns. Now Indiana is union battleground, as Super Bowl there approaches. NFL Players BLAST the effort
#ShowPlug 5: Penn St scandal worsens as memos show new President's November concern was "controlling narrative," not refunding donations
#ShowPlug Last: And Thurber at his best: attacking pigeons AND Gertrude Stein in "There's An Owl In My Room." See you at 8 ET.
watch whole playlist
#5 'Obama Jobs Boost', Bill Press
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#5 'Obama Jobs Boost', Craig Crawford
#4 'Fools On Parade', Ryan Grim
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Rights Fight', Nancy Guyott
#2 Worst Persons: Bill O'Reilly & Laura Ingraham, Rep. Allen West, Rodney Erickson
#1 Fridays with Thurber: There's An Owl In My Room
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Ryan Grim, Bill Press, Nancy Guyott, Craig Crawford
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Two hundred and twelve thousand new jobs in December, the strongest sustained job growth since 2006.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: The economy's moving in the right direction. We're creating jobs on a consistent basis.
OLBERMANN: Very, very, very very bad news for the Republicans. Of course, not if you're delusional.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SANTORUM: I'm very gratified to see that - in spite of President Obama's policies - that the job market is beginning to pick up a little bit.
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: This President doesn't understand how this economy works. It's time to get a president who does.
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: President Obama is the most effective food-stamp president in American history.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I think there might just be some optimism that maybe Republicans are going to take the White House.
OLBERMANN: Or maybe it's just the fault of all the "blah" people.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I'm pretty confident I didn't say black. What I think I started to say a word and sort of - blah.
OLBERMANN: And just in case you thought he isn't nuts.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: We always need a "Jesus candidate."
OLBERMANN: What the blank is wrong with this guy?
Another South Carolina poll. It's all Romney, 37 to 19 over Santorum, Gingrich 18.
Indiana Republicans try to rush through a bill crippling private-sector unions. Why it might affect - the Super Bowl.
"Worst Persons." Penn State's new president's real concern in the wake of the pedophilia scandal - making sure no donors to the school got their money back, and "taking control of the narrative of our story."
Fridays with Thurber, he takes on pigeons and Gertrude Stein in "There's an Owl In My Room."
And John McCain, stumping for Mitt Romney:
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN McCAIN: I am confident, with the leadership and backing of the American people, President Obama will turn this country around.
OLBERMANN: Dr. Freud, clean up on Aisle Two, Dr. Freud, Aisle Two, please. All that and more now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) McCAIN: President Romney -
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Friday, January 6th, 305 days until the 2012 presidential election, an election that has presumed to be all about jobs and the economy, which suddenly seemed like selling points for the incumbent.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - the Labor Department releasing the December jobs report today. It's the strongest six-month job growth in five years, showing an overall gain of more than 200,000 new jobs last month. Private sector jobs growing by over 212,000, public sector declining by 12,000, and the unemployment rate dropping by two-tenths of a point to 8 1/2 percent, its lowest level since early 2009.
With the economy adding more than 100,000 jobs a month now for six consecutive months, the president sounding both buoyant and cautious in an appearance at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau"
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: All together, more private sector jobs were created in 2011 than any year since 2005. The economy is moving in the right direction. We're creating jobs on a consistent basis. We're not going to let up, not until everybody who wants to find a good job can find one.
OLBERMANN: Democratic leaders rallying around the president. The House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi crediting the improvement in jobs, in part, to - over the presidential-sponsored legislation that Congress refused to pass.
(Excerpt from video clip) NANCY PELOSI: The president's American Jobs Act has given confidence to people. Already, the economy is responding to his leadership in that regard.
OLBERMANN: And the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urging the GOP to respond, writing, "I hope my Republican colleagues have learned from their recent mistakes" - Harry - "and will begin the new year focused on working with Democrats to create jobs instead of scoring political points against President Obama." Sure.
House speaker Boehner releasing a statement that was nothing but political points, writing in part, "The House has passed nearly 30 job bills that remain stuck in the Democratic-controlled Senate." Did he really say Democratic? "President Obama owes it to the millions of Americans still looking for work to urge Senate Democrats to take action."
Majority Leader Eric Cantor shedding crocodile tears, sobbing that "millions of Americas still can't find work and small businesses are struggling to grow and hire."
As for the Republican presidential candidates, their collective grip on reality severely tested - again, this time by this jobs report. Former jobs-killing venture capitalist Mitt Romney insisting that he could do better:
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: This President doesn't understand how this economy works. It's time to get a president who does.
OLBERMANN: Rick Santorum, meantime, suggesting that just the idea that the GOP might take over just a year and two weeks from today is the actual explanation.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I think there might be just some optimism that maybe Republicans are going to take the White House and maybe that's spurring people to start taking some risks, and I'll take that as a reason.
OLBERMANN: Rick also has more than 5,000 invisible friends, all named "Queeg."
Newt Gingrich's explanation? His alleged collaboration with President Reagan in the '80s. Run for your lives! Apparently, Reagan is creating jobs from beyond the grave!
GINGRICH: We had a very simple formula - sound money, lower taxes, less red tape, more American energy, and actually praise people who create jobs.
OLBERMANN: And Jon Huntsman, showing a rare grip of reality for a GOP presidential candidate in 2012:
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN HUNTSMAN: Good employment news is good employment news. We are all in favor of that.
OLBERMANN: An aside to Mr. Huntsman - switch parties now, seek Democratic nomination in 2016. Come out, you are a Democrat.
For more on the jobs report and its impact on the race for the presidency - from the president's point of view, in particular - I'm joined by Bill Press, host of "The Bill Press Show" and author of "Toxic Talk." Bill, good evening.
BILL PRESS: Hey, Keith, how are you? Happy New Year.
OLBERMANN: And to you too, sir. Manufacturing picking up, health care, business investment, and dining picking up, and the December numbers doubled November's report and exceeded the expectations on all analytical sources. Are there negatives for the president's re-election campaign in the numbers, besides that decline in government jobs - which, by the way, the Republicans always push for more decline in government jobs?
PRESS: That's a big one. The other down side is - there are still 13 million Americans who are out of work, and the unemployment rate is still - even though it is the lowest since 2009, it is still 8.5 percent. Which, as we all know, is higher than President Obama said it was going to be with the stimulus.
But, Keith, as you pointed out, the good, far, far outweighs the bad here. I mean, his is 20 straight months where we have had a positive job growth. Six straight months where it has been over 100,000 new jobs created. And I think the best news of all, as you just showed, is it's driving the Republicans crazy.
I mean, because they don't - the one thing they can't stand is good news, right? I mean, they are the bad news party. And suddenly they have got some good news, and so they are absolutely delusional. I think Newt's the most delusional of all, but what's new?
OLBERMANN: We can go through them one at a time, at some point. But, looking at it from the president's point of view, obviously cautious for the reasons - the very valid ones that you point out, it's not an economy that anybody would be - would be necessarily be proud of, but - in terms of the economy being understood by people, in terms not of hard numbers but in terms of which way the arrow is going, and particularly, which way the possession arrow is going - is there a point, is there a bar at which he could start taking, sort of, quiet but proactive credit for actually improving the economy? Or at least pulling it out of the depths into which it was clearly heading and clearly got to?
PRESS: Well, I would say maybe that point would be - if it gets back to where it was when he took office, which was 7.8 percent, right? But in the meantime, I think he is playing it just right.
The last thing you can do in a situation like this is gloat. Because - for a couple of reasons. Number one, there are too many people who still don't have a job, and too many of those are long-time unemployed. But the other thing is, you know, these numbers can flip. They can change.
So, I think the president is saying, "This is really good news, but we've got a long way to go. We're moving in the right direction. We just got to keep it going, and, by the way - with a little more cooperation from the other side, like, even a teeny, teeny bit of cooperation - think how many more jobs we could create."
So, this sets him up to continue to run against this do-nothing Congress, that has blocked almost everything he has tried to do.
OLBERMANN: And - and if, even if he does nothing and chooses to sit out - not sit out, necessarily, but take that very, very cautious stance - as in the comments today at the Consumer Protection Agency - when those comments happen on the same day as the statements from Boehner and Cantor, both still blaming the Democrats for the economy after another bit of sizably, tangibly, measurably good news, at what point do they start looking petty and the moaning - simply besides the point, even to their own constituents?
PRESS: Well, I think they started looking petty, frankly, in January 2010, when they took over. Or January 2011, I guess.
But look, where they really lost it, I believe, Keith, was on the payroll-tax-cut fight. They publicly had to surrender, had to admit that they were wrong, and that Obama - Obama was right. And since then, I think what Obama has done is - he has been able to paint them into a corner, right? Which is, he is fighting for the middle class, he's fighting for the 99 percent, they are fighting for the one percent, and they can't get out of that trap. They walked right into it, and I think Obama's got the upper hand.
The other thing I have to say is - Obama is now using the presidency, the powers of the presidency, like we have never seen him do it before. Richard Cordray's appointment, the payroll-tax-cut fight, these job numbers - this is a new Obama, which I think the American people are happy to see.
OLBERMANN: Bill Press, the host of "The Bill Press Show," author of "Toxic Talk." Happy New Year, have a great weekend and thanks for coming on tonight.
PRESS: All right. Great to be with you, Keith, thanks.
OLBERMANN: For how today's job report impacts the Republicans, let's turn now to Craig Crawford - the blogger, of course, at craigcrawford.com and the author of "The Politics of Life." Good evening, Craig.
CRAIG CRAWFORD: Yeah, I think they are breaking out the black arm bands over this news.
OLBERMANN: And there is a reason for that, obviously. Because they're - I'm not exactly sure what it is, but there is something different about the feel of this particular jobs report. What did it do, collectively, to the Republican field?
CRAWFORD: Well, I think it - it undercuts their argument for tax cuts, for one thing, because it's the only reason anybody buys that bogus claim that they want to cut taxes for the rich because they are the job creators. If they don't have this rising unemployment to talk about, they're - they're not going to get those tax cuts for their buddies.
OLBERMANN: The individual ones, one by one. Mitt Romney on the stump today, patting himself on the back, insisting that the president's policies have slowed this recovery. Can't the White House argue back - not by going after what Romney said - but, essentially, pointing to what Boehner and Cantor and the Republicans have not done in the House and what McConnell has not done in the Senate?
CRAWFORD: You know, you really got to wonder, Keith, what could have happened if Congress and the White House and the politicians here in Washington spent more time actually trying to fix the economy, instead of trying to run election campaigns, and - and that's what we saw. And if the plans of the president - if he hadn't had to give up so much, you know, get less than half a load from what he wanted - you know, what kind of job growth might we be seeing? I mean, he announced at the State of the Union address his Jobs Act, which is just like roadkill scattered all over Capitol Hill because of Republicans and Democrats - we got to remember a lot of Democrats got in his way on some of his plans, as well.
OLBERMANN: To Mr. Santorum, the - his argument was - let me sort of recap it - that this is all because the Republican race has heated up, and people are now confident that they only have another year of a Democratic president. I mean, I can't even say it aloud twice after having already read it once and now saying it to you without it sounding foolish. Is this a stretch, even for Rick Santorum? Everything is going to be good because in a year from now there will be a Republican president?
CRAWFORD: Right. He couldn't say it without a smile on his face, I noticed. A little bit of an impish grin there. But you know what, Keith? They believe this stuff. I have heard this before. Gingrich has talked - Gingrich says on the day Republicans elect a president, the next day jobs will start growing. I mean, they believe this.
Now, if their reasoning is true, then we'll all will be Occupiers, because what they are saying is that corporations who are sitting on tons of tons of cash are not hiring people because they are waiting for a friend in the White House. If that's true, then let's all get our pitchforks.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, yeah, right. Mr. Gingrich inadvertently called for a revolution against the government of the United States, he didn't really know he was doing it.
But of course, we know about Mr. Santorum's beliefs, beliefs that include - you know, he believes in pixies and brownies and elves. About Gingrich, thought - Gingrich waxed nostalgic for the Reagan '80s when he claimed to be an influential backbencher, not yet a leader. Is this another history lesson from Newt Gingrich of a world that only he remembers and the rest of us all had wiped out or we couldn't remember because we weren't as smart as Newt Gingrich was?
CRAWFORD: Yeah, I wish I had his coloring books. When he wasn't - in the Regan days, Newt Gingrich was talking to himself on C-SPAN. I mean, he eventually put a revolution together for a Republican-controlled House, but six years after Reagan left office. And one thing I've noticed - he is not claiming credit for the 12 times Ron Regan raised taxes in those years, including the biggest one in American history, as a percentage of the economy, in 1982.
OLBERMANN: The Romney argument - that the president doesn't understand how the economy works and that - that biblical tone that he gets in his voice- "It's time he gets a president who does." A little Elmer Gantry in there. It was a nice little touch, but does anybody ever sit down and say, "All right, if you say this on a day that a good economic report comes out, you are going to look at a jackass."
CRAWFORD: And let's look at what Romney's understanding of the economy is, and how he would fix it. I mean, I have gone through his 160 pages, and it's pretty clear to me - and plenty of studies show us - that it's all about boosting his rich friends.
You know, $150,000 in tax cuts for millionaires, and, you know, I have asked the Romney economic advisery - what's in it for - because they keep saying, "Oh, it's for the middle class" - well, what is in it for the middle class? You know what reason, what example they cite? Is that he would cut the capital-gains tax for people who earn under $200 thousand dollars of investment income. All of those middle-class people with investment income that are making all of those profits on stock sales. That's his - that's what he thinks is the middle class.
OLBERMANN: 'Cause those people who have 100 shares of Amazon, you know, and have to make $300,000 a year to get 100 shares of Amazon, they need that break.
Craig Crawford, the political blogger of craigcrawford.com, the author of "The Politics of Life." As always great thanks, have a good weekend.
CRAWFORD: You, too.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Santorum has also now called himself "the Jesus candidate," as in the Jesus from the movie? It is possible - though not likely - he actually means that as in "Jesus, I'm a candidate?" Next.
OLBERMANN: What could be better for Democrats than Rick Santorum claiming he didn't say something that you can hear him say on tape? How about him comparing himself to Jesus Christ?
Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady - or whoever the quarterbacks in the Super Bowl will be - don't know it yet, but they might be in the middle of a controversy over more Republicans rushing to try to cripple private-sector unions in Indiana.
New memos show what really worried Penn State's new president in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky nightmare - donation refunds and taking control of the media message.
And the great pigeon controversy of 1935, Gertrude Stein versus James Thurber in "There's An Owl In My Room." Ahead.
OLBERMANN: Tonight, the Republican presidential field is richer than ever. It now has a "Jesus candidate," a "not-rich candidate" who made $2.5 million in one year and a candidate whose win in the Iowa caucuses may have been fixed.
In our fourth story - the latter is Mitt Romney, of course, whose victory may have come when somebody marked down two Romney votes as 22 Romney votes. Next Tuesday's New Hampshire primaries already a piece of trivia already conceded to Romney. South Carolina may have to be as well.
While most candidates headed to New Hampshire, Romney appeared in South Carolina alongside John McCain and Governor Nikki Haley. The most recent poll there giving him an 18 point lead over Rick Santorum. As recently as a month ago, he had trailed Newt Gingrich by 23 points. But Romney is apparently not the front-runner the mind of his own endorser Senator McCain:
(Excerpt from video clip) McCAIN: I am confident, with the leadership and the backing of the American people, President Obama will turn this country around. We believe in America, we believe our best days are ahead of us - excuse me, President Romney. President Romney.
OLBERMANN: Forty years in public life and McCain finally speaks his mind and then disavows it. And he was still topped by comments from Santorum and Gingrich. When asked about possibly buying a house in New Hampshire Gingrich responded he wasn't able to because, "I'm not rich." Mr. Gingrich's 2010 income was $2,600,000. But at least he is only guilty of false modesty, somebody out there has megalomania.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: The guy out there asked the question . . he said, "Don't we need - we don't need a 'Jesus candidate' we need an economic candidate." And my answer to that was, "We always need a 'Jesus candidate.'"
OLBERMANN: To prove that he is, in fact, the "Jesus candidate" - don't mess with the Jesus - Santorum showed his love and compassion for all of God's people, saying at a campaign stop today, "I would say that serving in the military is not a right, it's a privilege. Not everyone is selected. People are chosen based on who will make us the best fighting force in the world, and I don't think that includes those who are openly homosexual."
Oh, I get it. It's kind of like what we look like to the rest of the world when one of the leading Republican presidential possibilities is Rick Santorum.
Let's bring in Huffington Post Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim. Ryan, thanks for your time tonight.
RYAN GRIM: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Big poll numbers in New Hampshire and South Carolina and thus, I read everywhere, that means Romney sewed up the nomination in advance of these two primaries. Is that plausible or is it a tad premature?
GRIM: Well, Romney has been operating his entire campaign by process of elimination. And, as you saw Herman Cain sink, as you saw Newt Gingrich sink, then you see - here he is with Santorum and Ron Paul as basically the only obstacles to getting the nomination.
And Santorum just had, you know, some of - 24 of the worst hours that a Republican candidate has had this entire time. It is his fixation on sexual orientation that is coming back to haunt him. Why he thought we need a national conversation, at this moment, about polygamy is beyond me. And in New Hampshire of all places. It doesn't seem the place to go to call yourself "the Jesus candidate."
At the same time, Ron - Ron Paul has himself tangled up with in controversy, with one of his supporters producing an offensive ad about Huntsman that he's had to deal with. He is staying steady in the polls because he is spending more than anybody else on ads in New Hampshire, but with those two guys as Romney's only obstacle, you know, it looks like he is rolling right through at this point.
OLBERMANN: You mentioned Ron Paul. There's two bits of Ron Paul news. First, to his credit, he disavowed - albeit, about 24 hours late - that sort of sad, "Manchurian Candidate" anti-Huntsman ad in New Hampshire that you mentioned.
But more importantly, maybe, he moved closer today to ruling in a third-party run, which is something he's really tried to shy away from. What does that prospect of Ron Paul in the Republican primary system, still, with the prospect of a third-party run - what does that do to, not to the general election, but what does it do to the primary field?
GRIM: He has been asked about that before, and today my colleague Howard Fineman asked him about it, and he went further than he ever has before in saying that he might make a third-party bid.
And what that does is - it helps Obama, because a voter who wanted to go in and cast a protest vote against Obama would now have two choices: he could vote for Romney or he could vote for Ron Paul, and there are a lot of people who simply don't like Mitt Romney.
And if they go in there and want to cast a referendum vote on the economy or on Obama's leadership, they can do that - if he runs - by voting for Ron Paul. And, of course, he has, you know, a sizable number of passion followers who are going to vote for him no matter what. Some of those, no doubt, would vote for Mitt Romney, believe it or not.
OLBERMANN: Does it suggest that people who might make an effort for Paul in the Republican primaries and various places, in hopes of getting him on that ticket, would not now do so because he has opened the door to a third-party run?
GRIM: I don't think so, because the purpose of Ron Paul's bids really isn't to always necessarily win the election. What he is doing is building a movement. You know, he wants - he wants to change the country. And so, every day that his ideas are in the press, his supporters see that, in itself, as a victory, because - as Ron Paul often says - he has to change the entire country if he is going to implement some of these more-radical ideas that he has. So, any - any chance that they have to raise his profile, they will take.
OLBERMANN: Last point - Gingrich, not rich? Two point six million income in 2010, and a net worth of about - I think it was six and a half, $6.6 million. The not-rich live very different lives than you and me, to twist up the Scott Fitzgerald line a little bit.
GRIM: Yeah, it tells us a lot about where we are in income inequality and wealth inequality in this country. Because, I think - I think that actually, probably did come from Newt's heart. He does, I think, not feel rich. There are people in this country who makes millions of dollars a year - like him - who look at hedge-fund managers who are making tens of millions or hundreds of millions and look at them with envy.
And so, you have this bizarre situation where somebody like Newt Gingrich might not even consider himself part of the 99 percent. Statistically he is, but - but in his sense of envy, and his sense of - of resentment towards those above him, he isn't.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, he just stopped that sentence a little short. It wasn't, "I'm not rich." It's, "I'm not rich enough."
GRIM: Exactly. Yeah.
OLBERMANN: Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief of the Huffington Post. We would all say it, "I'm not rich enough." We're not gonna say, "I'm not rich." Thank you, Ryan. Have a good weekend.
GRIM: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Having learned nothing from Wisconsin or Ohio, Indiana's Republicans are now preparing to slit their own throats with another attack on unions, and - incredibly - it may affect the Super Bowl. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: Congressman Allen West adds a new group to the list of those groups he hates - Republicans. "Worst Persons" ahead.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date 18 years ago the word "Gillooly" would enter the language, along with the phrase "Why? Why?"
That's when Shawn Eckhardt, friend of figure skater Tonya Harding's husband Jeff Gillooly, hit Harding rival Nancy Kerrigan in the back of the knee with a retractable police baton, during practice for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Kerrigan, of course, went on to the Skating Hall of Fame. Harding later went on to at least eight run-ins with the law, one sex tape and then wound up on Celebrity Boxing. Why?
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: British lads score vending-machine soda jackpot.
We begin, as we always do, with vending-machine tricks.
While waiting to catch a ferry, these three British chaps come upon this vending machine. They look like hooligans to me. And they reckon that if they can play it just right, they can get all three bottles of pop for the price of one.
The money's in, the correct button is hit, and - jackpot!
And the most amazing part, of course, is that there's an orange soda in Britain called Drench. It was named for Dame Judy Drench. Orange drink.
VIDEO: Man stops runaway car from careening into traffic.
We stay on the Internets. Don't you hate it when your car's in a hurry and leaves without you?
Fortunately, this guy noticed his car rolling away, and chases it down.
"Wait, KITT, come back!" "I'm free of you!"
He gets in just before the highway and the Mack truck. Yep, I haven't seen a car take off on its own like that since Lightning McQueen.
VIDEO: Anchorman falls for an "Anchorman" trick.
Finally, let's check the forecast with NBC 26 weatherman Brian Niznansky. And as every anchor is trained to do, Brian just reads what's on the teleprompter.
(Excerpt from video clip) BRIAN NIZNANSKY: In other news, I love lamp, uh - what is? There you go.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Oh my God, he totally fell for it.
(Excerpt from video clip) NIZNANSKY: You got me.
OLBERMANN: Yes, that was "I love lamp." Got him with the old "Anchorman" trick. How dumb do you have to be to fall for that?
I'm Keith Olbermann? Wait, what? I mean - "Time Marches On!"
After the governors of Ohio and Wisconsin committed political suicide by trying to kneecap the unions, Indiana's Mitch Daniels is trying the same thing, only with the Super Bowl factoring into the spectacle. Next on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: In Ohio and Wisconsin, they ultimately wind up hurting not the unions, but themselves. But repeated failure has never stopped Republicans from aiming at their own feet and assuming they are going to hit something else.
In our third story on the "Countdown" - now Indiana's Republican governor and his lawmakers there are scrambling to push through a state right-to-work bill banning private-sector labor contracts that stipulate that employees must pay union dues. Incredibly, the only thing they may wind up shooting is the Super Bowl.
An ongoing boycott by House Democrats there has temporarily stalled the bill's progression in that chamber, with House Democratic leader Patrick Bauer vowing that his caucus will not be back until Republicans hold public hearings across the state on the so-called "right-to-work issue." Their absence did not stop the Senate's Republican-controlled Labor Committee from voting to push the legislation to a full Senate vote as early as next week.
Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma is threatening to invoke fines against Democrats for boycotting the chamber. Studies in - throughout the U.S. show that right-to-work laws reduce wages by $1,500 a year for both union and non-union workers, lower the likelihood that employees get health care or pensions through their jobs, and have no impact whatsoever on job growth.
But those small details have not stopped Governor Mitch Daniels from appearing in an ad land basting the unions:
(Excerpt from video clip) MITCH DANIELS: I have looked into the arguments against the idea, and they just don't hold up. "Right-to-work" has no effect on safety or the worker's right to organize. We can't afford to keep missing out on good jobs just for lack of this simple freedom.
OLBERMANN: But Daniels has screwed up the timing on this one. The National Football League is hosting the Super Bowl in Indianapolis a month from yesterday, and the players' union is stepping up.
"It should be a time to shine in the national spotlight and highlight the hardworking families that make Indiana run instead of launching political attacks on their basic rights. 'Right-to-work' is a political ploy designed to destroy basic workers' rights. It's not about jobs or rights and it's the wrong priority for Indiana," the union says.
Joining us now with more from Indiana - the president of the Indiana AFL-CIO, Nancy Guyott. Thanks for your time tonight.
NANCY GUYOTT: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I mentioned the template in Ohio - with Governor Kasich getting his bill repudiated by the voters and in Wisconsin, Governor Walker getting himself recalled for doing that. Do you have a read on the mood in Indiana? Is that one of those fates - the kind of fate that Governor Daniels faces? Or might he get away with this?
GUYOTT: You know, absolutely. Hoosiers are opposed to this, this is not what they voted for. Hoosiers overwhelmingly think this is the wrong priority for Indiana's legislature. What we're hearing from Hoosiers is what they want is for government and labor and business to work together to bring good jobs, the kind of jobs that support a family. This is the wrong priority and it really drives in the opposite direction.
OLBERMANN: The Republicans, as I understand it, in Indiana tried to pass this bill - same bill last year without success. What do they think is different about this year's attempt? And what do you think is different about this year's attempt?
GUYOTT: Well, I think the most striking difference is that last year, the governor kind of put some brakes on the situation, and last year they didn't have these very expensive fines in place. Those are the two main differences I think they see. And I also think the governor's eyes aren't on Indiana anymore, they are on a national stage.
OLBERMANN: But - did the Republicans nationally, including Governor Daniels, lose touch with the simple fact that it might be more important than Governor Daniel's national designs on 2016 or wherever? Or anybody else's. That there are, you know, people in unions who happen to be Republicans and that the number of them in Ohio and Wisconsin manage to be the statistical difference in the swing against the measures in those states, and against the Republican legislators and against the Republican governors?
GUYOTT: Absolutely. And that's the case in Indiana. We have a large number of union members who are proud to call themselves Republicans, or at least have been proud to call themselves Republicans. And this attempt to pass "right-to-work for less" is really driving them away from their party.
OLBERMANN: Last point &38212; the rush to pass this bill for the Super Bowl - before the Super Bowl, rather, in Indianapolis. Is that going to work? And what is the impact of what the NFL player's union said?
GUYOTT: Look, the NFL player's statement was a wonderful show of solidarity with their brothers and sisters across the union movement and, really, with every single working Hoosier. It's a tremendously welcome statement by the NFL PA, and we certainly hope that - although we can't have the Colts in the Super Bowl this year, we hope that the Bears make it.
OLBERMANN: Nancy Guyott, president of the Indiana AFL-CIO, just reminding the Indianapolis viewers in the audience of the unpleasantness - the unpleasantries of the 2011 season. Thanks for your time. Have a good weekend.
GUYOTT: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Guess what was Job One for the new president at Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky scandal? According to his newly-revealed memos, it was "gaining control of the narrative." "Worsts Persons," coming up.
OLBERMANN: Do you like pigeons? Do you like Gertrude Stein? Then you will not like tonight's Thurber story, "There's An Owl In My Room."
First the "Worst," and when Billo says Planned Parenthood's "core business" is abortions, he really means three percent of Planned Parenthood's "core business" is abortions. Next.
OLBERMANN: "Countdown," the longest continuously-running 8PM news hour on cable. Unless you consider Fox - "news." I mean, I'm just looking over there. It's Dobbs and O'Reilly right now. They've got, like, four turkey necks. We're live each night at 8 Eastern. One hundred and seventy-five years of TV experience is a lot. Every night is a "Best of 'Countdown'" night.
One of the most searing pieces James Thurber ever wrote - denying that pigeons can induce or have emotions. Next.
First, because there's one emotion missing from all of the following - empathy - here are "Countdown's" nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze? To - ah, quelle coincidence - good old Billo the clown and his straight woman, Laura Ingraham.
In the continuing effort to portray Democrats as "hatchet murderers," using federal funds to conduct widespread abortions that - who knows, might soon become mandatory - they have revived the annual ritual of the horrified reading of the yearly organizational report from Planned Parenthood.
O'Reilly, whose repeated invocations of the phrase "Tiller The Baby Killer" contributed to a terrorist's assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas three years ago, now seems to be trying to set the atmosphere for similar violence against Planned Parenthood or the politicians who support it.
(Excerpt from video clip) LAURA INGRAHAM: But the key fact is, Bill, that Planned Parenthood really exists - yeah, it does all these other things for sure, but abortion is the core business of Planned Parenthood.
(Excerpt from video clip) BILL O'REILLY: That is their core business, there's no doubt about it.
(Excerpt from video clip) INGRAHAM: No doubt about it. No doubt about it.
OLBERMANN: No doubt about it, except the fact that of the medical services Planned Parenthood provided in 2010, abortions totaled three percent. Three percent. In other words, for every one abortion Planned Parenthood is involved with, Planned Parenthood provides five cancer screenings, 11 contraceptives, and 13 tests for sexually-transmitted diseases. You would think all the above would interest O'Reilly.
So, why is he so wrong? I mean, apart from his uncontrollable lying and religious fanaticism? Well, he seems to be - look a little impaired again.
(Excerpt from video clip) O'REILLY: They get 500 million dollar taxpayer dollars, every, the last quarter that there was - not quarter - but the last year that they - have reported. That's what they got."
OLBERMANN: O'Reilly added, "I like scotch. Scotchy-scotch-scotch."
Our runner-up is Congressman Allen West, R-Mars. He has added two new names to the list of groups he hates, believes is destroying his America, and is promising revenge against. There are Muslims, Iraqis, Democrats, liberals, the guy who dared to run against him in the last election, that guy's supporters, the women, the gays. And, now, Republicans. Seriously.
"I was very upset about what happened with this payroll-tax-cut extension," West said. "When we get back to D.C., the first House GOP conference, we're going to have some serious discussions about "How do we get ourselves on the same sheet of music?" because we really felt that our leadership did not stand up against the Senate Republican leadership, who kind of sold us down the road."
As with all puritans, West will eventually denounce everybody but himself. So, stand by to be accused, Visiting Nurse Association.
But our winner? The new president of Penn State University, Rodney Erickson.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse there, The Associated Press got hold of four memos sent in November by the new leaders of the school who replaced everybody who was fired for ignoring or covering up the horrific pedophilia scandal.
In one memo, President Erickson told the 47 members of Penn State's Board of Trustees that if they got any backlash from the school's donors, they should remind them that Penn State had a "non-refundable gift policy." In other words, "No, you can't get your donation back."
But the highlight was on November 14th, in the memo Erickson wrote, in which he told the board that in one day there had been a 50 percent drop in "blogs, tweets, news stories, Facebook postings, YouTube videos, etc." about Penn State. "Review of Top 20 search items on Google today shows no Penn State terms on that list for the first time in nine days."
And then, almost proudly, he added that he'd gotten positive feedback after doing two TV interviews. "This is another indication that we are taking control of the narrative of our story."
In short, while the nation was still horrified at what Jerry Sandusky had done - literally at Penn State - and worried for his victims and enraged at a university bureaucracy seemingly devoted to enabling all of this to happen, the new President and the board of trustees were worried about themselves, and whether or not they had taken control of the narrative of the story.
And after thinking about this all day, I don't know what's more infuriating. The fact that they felt this way or the fact that they were stupid and arrogant enough to write it down.
Penn State University President Rodney Erickson - today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: I don't know if he would have liked the term or not, but - frankly - James Thurber was as gifted at getting pissed off and drawing hilarity from his anger as any other writer. Nor could anyone get more mileage from a small acorn of complaint.
Consider what he penned for the November 17th, 1934 edition of "The New Yorker," which was then republished in his 1935 collection "The Middle-Aged Man On The Flying Trapeze." I'll be reading, as usual, from "The American Library: Thurber: Writings and Drawings," edited by Garrison Keillor.
The entire story is based on one quote from one scene from one 1927 play written by the free-association-style writer Gertrude Stein: "Pigeons on the grass, alas. Pigeons on the grass, alas. Short longer grass short longer, longer shorter yellow grass. Pigeons, large pigeons on the shorter longer yellow grass, alas, pigeons on the grass."
See if you can tell how he feels about that in tonight's story, "There's An Owl In My Room" by James Thurber.
"I saw Gertrude Stein on the screen of a newsreel theater one afternoon and I heard her read that famous passage of hers about 'pigeons on the grass, alas.' The sorrow is, as you know, Miss Stein's. After reading about the pigeons on the grass alas, Miss Stein said, 'This is a simple description of a landscape I have seen many times.' I don't really believe that that is true. 'Pigeons on the grass, alas' may be a simple description of Miss Stein's own consciousness, but it is not a simple description of a plot of grass on which pigeons have alighted, are alighting, or are going to alight.
A truly simple description of the pigeons alighting on the grass of the Luxembourg Gardens, which, I believe, is where the pigeons alighted, would say of the pigeons alighting there only that they were pigeons alighting. Pigeons that alight anywhere are neither sad pigeons nor gay pigeons, they are simply pigeons.
It is neither just nor accurate to connect the word 'alas' with pigeons. Pigeons are definitely not 'alas.' They have nothing to do with 'alas' and they have nothing to do with 'hooray,' not even when you tie red, white, and blue ribbons on them and let them loose at band concerts. They have nothing to do with 'Mercy me' or 'Isn't that fine?' either.
White rabbits, yes, and Scotch terriers, and blue jays, and even hippopotamuses, but not pigeons. I happen to have studied pigeons very closely and carefully, and I have studied the effect or, rather - the lack of effect - of pigeons very carefully.
A number of pigeons alight from time to time on the sill of my hotel window when I am eating breakfast and staring out the window. They never 'alas' me, they never make me feel 'alas,' they never make me feel anything.
Nobody and no animal and no other bird can play a scene so far down as a pigeon can. For instance, when a pigeon on my window ledge becomes aware of me sitting there in a chair in my blue, polka-dot dressing gown, worrying, he pokes his head far out from his shoulders and peers sideways at me, for all the world - Miss Stein might surmise - like a timid man peering around the corner of a building trying to ascertain whether he is being followed by some hoofed fiend or only by the echo of his own footsteps.
And yet, it is not - for all the world - like a timid man peering around the corner of a building trying to ascertain whether he is being followed by a hoofed fiend or only by the echo of his own footsteps.
And that is because there is no emotion in the pigeon and no power to cause emotion. A pigeon looking is just a pigeon looking. When it comes to emotion, a fish, compared to a pigeon, is practically beside himself. A pigeon peering at me doesn't make me sad or glad or apprehensive or hopeful. With a horse or a cow or a dog, it might be different. It would be especially different with a dog.
Some dogs peer at me as if I had just gone completely crazy or as if they had just gone completely crazy. I can go so far as to say that most dogs peer at me that way. This creates in the consciousness of both me and the dog a feeling of alarm or downright terror and legitimately permits me to work into a description of the landscape, in which the dog and myself are figures, a note of emotion.
Thus, I should not have minded if Miss Stein had written: 'Dogs on the grass, look out, dogs on the grass, look out, look out, dogs on the grass, look out, Alice.' That would be a simple description of dogs on the grass.
But when any writer pretends that a pigeon makes him sad, or makes him anything else, I must instantly protest that this is a highly-specialized, fantastic impression created in an individual consciousness and that therefore it cannot fairly be presented as a simple description of what actually was to be seen.
People who do not understand pigeons - and pigeons can be understood only when you understand that there is nothing to understand about them - should not go around describing pigeons or the effect of pigeons.
Pigeons come closer to a zero of impingement than any other birds. Hens embarrass me the way my old Aunt Hattie used to when I was twelve and she still insisted I wasn't big enough to bathe myself. Owls disturb me. If I am with an eagle, I always pretend that I am not with an eagle, and so on down to swallows at twilight - who scare the hell out of me.
But pigeons have absolutely no effect on me. They have absolutely no effect on anybody. They couldn't even startle a child. That is why they are selected, from among all birds, to be let loose, with colored ribbons attached to them, at band concerts, library dedications, and christenings of new dirigibles. If anybody let loose a lot of owls on such an occasion there would be rioting and catcalls and whistling and fainting spells and throwing of chairs and the Lord only knows what else.
From where I am sitting now, I can look out the window and see a pigeon being a pigeon on the roof of the Harvard Club. No other thing can be less what it is not than a pigeon can, and Miss Stein, of all people, should understand that simple fact. Behind the pigeon I am looking at, a blank wall of tired gray bricks is stolidly trying to sleep off oblivion; underneath the pigeon, the cloistered windows of the Harvard Club are staring in horrified bewilderment at something they have seen across the street.
The pigeon is just there on the roof being a pigeon, having been, and being, a pigeon and, what is more, always going to be, too. Nothing could be simpler than that. If you read that sentence aloud you will instantly see what I mean. It is a simple description of a pigeon on a roof. It is only with an effort that I am conscious of the pigeon, but I am acutely aware of a great, sulky, red iron pipe that is creeping up the side of the building intent on sneaking up on a slightly tipsy chimney which is shouting its head off.
There is nothing a pigeon can do or be that would make me feel sorry for it or for myself or for the people in the world, just as there is nothing I could do or be that would make a pigeon feel sorry for itself. Even if I plucked his feathers out, it would not make him feel sorry for himself and it would not make me feel sorry for myself or for him. But try plucking the quills out of a porcupine or even plucking the fur out of a jackrabbit.
There is nothing a pigeon could be - or can be, rather - which could get into my consciousness like a fumbling hand in a bureau drawer and disarrange my mind or pull anything out of it.
I bar nothing at all.
You could dress up a pigeon in a tiny suit of evening clothes and put a tiny silk hat on his head and a tiny gold-headed cane under his wing and send him walking into my room at night. It would make no impression on me. I would not shout, 'Good God almighty, the birds are in charge!'
But you could send an owl into my room, dressed only in the feathers it was born with, and no monkey business, and I would pull the covers over my head and scream.
No other thing in the world falls so far short of being able to do what it cannot do as a pigeon does. Of being unable to do what it can do, too, as far as that goes."
"There's An Owl In My Room," by James Thurber.
That's "Countdown." I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.