'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
#ShowPlug 1: SOPA, PIPA protests so powerful so fast, two GOP Senators turn from "pro" to "anti" during day. W/ Sen @RonWyden, @Markos
#ShowPlug 2: GOP gets its POTUS decision on Keystone XL: No! Also @SpeakerBoehner has up to $350k invested in firms that would've profted
#ShowPlug 3: Countdown Contributor @MRuff221 Mark Ruffalo on being careful what you ask for, and Boehner's remarkable conflict of interest
#ShowPlug 4: 2012: Gingrich suggests two Ricks fold their campaigns into him as Romney blasts him for job creation claims w/o noting irony
#ShowPlug 5: New studies on NASA fears of Flatulence In Space. Seriously. Bet poor @CoolAstronomer Derrick Pitts did not expect THIS
#ShowPlug Last: Worsts: Billo announces he's a brother, Gingrich attacks the newest elitists - Apartment Dwellers. Seriously.
watch whole playlist
#5 Breaking news on SOPA protests, Sen. Ron Wyden
#5 Breaking news on SOPA protests, Markos Moulitsas
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#4 'Pipeline Dream', Mark Ruffalo
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Party Of Newt', Sam Stein
#2 Worst Persons: Bill O'Reilly & Bernard Goldberg, Dr. Ruth Jacobs, Newt Gingrich
#1 'Blast Off!', Derrick Pitts
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Mark Ruffalo, Derrick Pitts, Markos Moulitsas, Sam Stein
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
SOPA - the laws that could censor a website because somebody else posted copyright material on it. Wikipedia, others protest the laws by going offline for the day. The co-founder of Reddit:
(Excerpt from video clip) ALEXIS OHANIAN: We're here because we're fighting against the wholesale - wholesale destruction of one of the healthiest parts of America's economy.
OLBERMANN: They go dark. Some mainstream politicians go stupid.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRIS DODD: They would be doing so much a greater service to people by being a good source of information in this debate then acting like children.
OLBERMANN: The dangers of SOPA, with Senator Ron Wyden and Markos Moulitsas.
Republicans demanded a rushed answer on the Keystone XL Pipeline. Today, they got one.
"The Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied," says the president. "And after reviewing the State Department's report, I agree."
(Excerpt from video clip) JIM CARNEY: The State Department made clear that the 60 days is simply not enough time.
OLBERMANN: The reaction from the reactionaries?
(Excerpt from video clip) BOEHNER: The president's got an opportunity to create 100,000 new jobs almost immediately. The president should say yes.
OLBERMANN: Well, that's a lie. Plus, it turns out John Boehner has invested money in many of the companies that would profit if the thing had been built. Our guest, Mark Ruffalo.
Meet the new consensus GOP hopeful, "Newt Ging-Ricks."
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: Consolidating into a Gingrich candidacy would, in fact, virtually guarantee victory on Saturday. And I'd be - I'd be delighted if either Perry or Santorum want to do that.
OLBERMANN: This, while Gingrich attacks elitist apartment dwellers. Seriously.
Uh-oh, guess who thinks he's African-American?
(Excerpt from video clip) BILL O'REILLY: No, it's Ice Cube, Bernie. That's how white you are. You don't know Ice-T from Ice Cube. That's Ice Cube.
(Excerpt from video clip) BERNARD GOLDBERG: Oh, Ice Cube. Ice Cube. Ice Cube. You're right. That's - I'm sorry.
(Excerpt from video clip) O'REILLY: I'm a brother, man. You can't be doing that to me.
OLBERMANN: The brother from another planet. Literally.
And speaking of space cadets, the new report on the newest threat to manned space flight - Farts in space!
All that and more, now on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Good evening. This is Wednesday January 18th, 293 days until the 2012 presidential election.
We knew the protests would be massive. Nobody dreamed it would be effective enough to make five senators, including two co-sponsors, turn on a dime by mid-afternoon to oppose one of the Congressional threats to censor and potentially damage the Internet.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - breaking news tonight, SOPA and PIPA, the House and Senate bills which supporters say will help media firms fight online privacy and save millions of America's jobs, are in trouble tonight.
Opponents, who insist they are merely heavy-handed attempts to shut down sites accused of using other people's material that will undermine the Internet, struck back today with online protests that are, indeed, turning Congress around. Among the protests - Wikipedia, the user-edited free encyclopedia that millions rely on for information; Wired, the online version of the leading technology magazine; Google, the most popular American search engine, and Greenpeace, the environmental organization, warning the proposed laws could kill it by allowing corporate targets to claim their intellectual-property rights had been violated.
Chris Dodd, former U.S. senator, now-CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America - and a SOPA/PIPA backer - seemed incensed at Wikipedia, in particular.
(Excerpt from video clip) DODD: This is irresponsible for them. Offshore criminals are stealing American jobs and content. Everyone says we ought to stop that. Everyone says that.
OLBERMANN: Well no, sir, not everyone. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is saying that. The AFL-CIO, the Recording Industry of America and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., but not the Obama administration which announced Saturday - appropriately enough, in a blog - "We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cyber-security risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative, global Internet."
Hit hard by today's online protests, Congressional supports of SOPA and PIPA last seen falling over themselves as they tried to back off the damn thing.
So, while the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid insists he will bring PIPA up for a vote next week, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, one of the co-sponsors, announced on his Facebook page today, "I have decided to withdraw my support for the Protect IP Act. Furthermore, I encourage Senator Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor."
The Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn adding, "Concerns about unintended damage to the internet and innovation to the tech sector require a more-thoughtful balance, which will take more time."
The Beltway journal The Hill now reporting there are three more senators who withdrew their support earlier tonight. Key among them John Boozman of Arkansas, and Republican colleague Orin Hatch of Utah, who had been among PIPA's co-sponsors. The fifth new retreat from Senator Blunt of Missouri, one of the Republican leaders.
Other senators are have already rejected the bill included Republicans Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins of Maine and the Democrats Mark Udall and Jeff Merkley. And, of course, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, Merkley's colleague in Oregon, a leader in the fight against these bills and my guest on this news hour in a few moments.
The House, also apparently backing away from its bill. Speaker Boehner, showing little appetite for SOPA:
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN BOEHNER: It's pretty clear to many of us that there's a lack of consensus at this point. And I would expect that the committee would continue to work to try to build a consensus before this bill moves.
OLBERMANN: And there were street protests, too, outside of the offices of two PIPA supporters - New York Democratic senators Schumer and Gillibrand.
Tim Karr, of media reform group Free Press, telling the assembled crowd thusly:
(Excerpt from video clip) TIM KARR: If you try to pass a bill that takes away the open architecture of the Internet, you are going to have a problem. If you try to pass a bill that threatens free speech and innovation online, you are going to have a problem.
OLBERMANN: They already have a problem. But Motion Picture Association CEO Dodd insisting the only real problem is his problem:
(Excerpt from video clip) DODD: The two basic arguments - it denies freedom of speech and it breaks the Internet - are totally without merit. And forcing me to have to adjust my model to your model of giving something away is not exactly what we ought to be encouraging.
OLBERMANN: As I mentioned, Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden has been a leader in this fight against the Senate version of the bill that could both censor and damage the Internet. There's many people in line behind him in the Senate tonight. Senator, good evening.
RON WYDEN: Thanks for having me back, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Our pleasure. Obviously, there seems to be a rush for the door on this. What do we think has happened today, when two co-sponsors and five Republicans in total - actually three co-sponsors - rush to say they are no longer in support of it. And Majority Leader Reid is still pushing to bring this thing to the floor. What's happening now?
WYDEN: This has been a day for the history books, Keith, with scores of websites talking about the dangers of web censorship. We already know that millions of Americans value a free and open Internet. They are making sure their voices are heard. Now, the deciding vote is going to be next Tuesday in the Senate at 2:15, because that will really determine whether or not PIPA and the House bill, SOPA go forward, or whether or not we can have a more thoughtful and sober discussion.
So, we want to make sure that folks who are speaking out today continue to do it.
OLBERMANN: Do you think that vote going to happen or is this retreat suggesting that perhaps discretion will be the better part of the valor on this piece of legislation?
WYDEN: What I've been trying to communicate to the leadership on both sides of the aisle is that vote on Tuesday is simply premature.
If we're going to find a way to strike a balance, where you can combat copyright infringement without doing enormous damage to the Internet, we are going to simply have to take a bit more time to reflect on this. You can't go to the floor with a complicated piece of legislation and just do this from the seat of your pants. What we have got to do is make sure that we're not getting into the censorship area - the PIPA bill does that, in its present form. The definitions are way too broad, they could apply to almost anything.
I'm particularly concerned that it authorizes private rights of action, which essentially lets the big, incumbent firms and companies muscle around the small folks who are the innovators, who are going to get us the new jobs.
OLBERMANN: The rest of the content of this - we heard what Greenpeace said, which is really disturbing. It is one thing if somebody is going to defend copyright rights that exist and should exist - I mean, content - without the content, the Internet is, essentially, is just dirty pictures, and even those are copyrighted - but what about Greenpeace, which could actually be politically persecuted, by its own estimation of this. Do you think that - that the loophole that Greenpeace sees in these acts are, in fact, open and subject Greenpeace to the peril that Greenpeace thinks it does?
WYDEN: They are certainly raising troubling issues. But here is what has happened in the last few weeks all across the political spectrum - if you listen to some of the tea party folks who have said government is too big, they realize that the Internet is a way to get their message out without government.
If you are talking about income inequality - something I feel strongly about, that was what Occupy Wall Street has been all about - when you look at the Internet, this is a way to take on the powerful, moneyed interests. So, all across the political spectrum now, folks are realizing that this threat to a free and open Internet is going to do great damage to American values.
OLBERMANN: I'm sure you were as shocked as I was to hear - and I understand he has a job, needed a job after you leave the Senate - but to hear Chuck Dodd saying what he has said about - from his position with the Motion Picture Association. Is his - where does his certainty come from, that this is not going to be an infringement on free speech?
WYDEN: First of all, it is a censorship bill. It's the definition of censorship. You can get a court order that directs a site to not-publish certain types of information. That is, literally, the definition of censorship.
And my concern is - is the Motion Picture Association has long been against technological innovation. It wasn't very many years ago when they were saying that the VCR was a great threat to the movie industry. They compared it to the Boston Strangler with women home alone. And it was absurd because, of course, the VCR made the movie industry a tremendous amount of money, through a modern approach to distribution.
What we have got to do is look at ways to ensure that we combat copyright infringement - I'm concerned about people making fake Nikes and those sorts of things, I say handcuff them - but we can do it without undermining this technological juggernaut, the Internet, which has been such a force for job growth and innovation and free speech.
OLBERMANN: Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon. As we suggested, well ahead in the growing line in the Senate against all of this. Thank you kindly, sir.
WYDEN: Thanks for having me again.
OLBERMANN: And my apologies for calling former Senator Chris Dodd, Chuck Dodd. The only excuse is - I have a cold.
If you went to Daily Kos today you saw a graphic protest. I'm joined now by its founder and publisher and, of course, "Countdown" contributor - Markos Moulitsas. Markos, good evening.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Before we get to today's developments - and they are actually fairly dramatic - explain what you did at Kos today.
MOULITSAS: What we did was we redacted parts of the site, so that people would get a look at what the Internet would look like if somebody outside of ourselves had a right to come in and tell us what kind of content we can and cannot actually publish.
It's not always as simple as "Your site's going to be taken down." It could be - it could be sort of a surgical strike on what kind of content you can have, what you can show your audience. And clearly, we find that unacceptable, and we wanted to really demonstrate that to our audience as clearly and as cleanly as possible.
OLBERMANN: And it's dramatic, because - it may not really been reflected on what we're showing there - but as you scroll along, more and more of those little "redaction" black boxes appear as you go along.
Give me your assessment of this. Senator Wyden seemed to suggest that the problems - the problems in both of these bills - the Senate and the House &38212; may not be unfixable. That it's really is a question of time and vetting and research. Do you see that? Are there viable versions of these bills that work for you, from your perspective, or is the whole thing poisoned fruit from that start?
MOULITSAS: I think it could be done. Our position from the start has been that this bill was conceived in the back rooms without input from technology companies and the tech industry and Internet users. What they need to do is to go back to the drawing board. There is a clear goal here that nobody disputed. Nobody is trying to defend copyright infringers in Russia or whatnot.
So, let's go back, let's start from the beginning and let's get everybody in the room - including the technology companies - and then they can come up with a solution that does not infringe on First Amendment rights. I think it can be done. The current bill has not been done that way, and no amount of tinkering at the very end if going to fix what is a deeply flawed bill.
OLBERMANN: Okay, let me go over the politics with you. During this day three of the cosponsors, all Republicans - Rubio, Hatch, and Boozman - have withdrawn their support on this. Blunt and Cornyn as well, and yet Harry Reid wants to bring this to a vote next week. What's going on relative to the Democrats - were they all out today? Did they miss? Did they not turn on their iPhones or what - where have the Democrats been on this today, when the Republicans actually seem to at least have had the political intelligence to run away?
MOULITSAS: It has been a shameful day. Now let me add that Ron Wyden, who was just on &38212; if it wasn't for him, this thing may have passed already. He was the first person in Congress to stand up against this and fight the way he has. He is the reason this is still being debated. That said, you have a bipartisan group of people who supported it. Today, Republican after Republican has backed out and abandoned support for SOPA and PIPA.
Democrats haven't. They cling to this fiction that this thing can be fixed, and not only is it incredibly stupid, it's incredibly tone-deaf. You are basically ceding a generation of Web-savvy, Web-immersed people who are obsessed with protecting what they see as their very birthright. And they are watching Republicans come out and see the light on this issue, while Democrats continue to cling to the Hollywood studios. It is unfathomable.
I'm embarrassed to be a Democrat, I'm ashamed and I'm angry. You couldn't even begin to believe - because I believe that this legislation is an existential threat to the social Web - that's Daily Kos, that's Reddit, that's Facebook - that's anybody, any time you can interact online, this legislation threatens that ability to do so.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, that's Red State, that's all the other right-wing sites, as well. This is not a liberal thing.
MOULITSAS: It's not. It's liberal, conservative, greens, libertarians, people who don't even pay attention to politics. I don't think I have ever seen this much consensus around an issue.
And if you really look at it, the technology world has a huge amount of people backing it, supporting it, fighting for its right to be free. How many people are standing with the Hollywood studios? How many? Aside from Chris Dodd and people that are paid by them? Nobody, because they have sued their audience out of existence.
OLBERMANN: But to that point, there is a report on a Hollywood Website, Deadline.com, that a group of Hollywood moguls essentially is going to tell the White House, "We're going to cut you off in terms of donation, for not at least staying neutral on this and making that statement over the weekend."
MOULITSAS: Oh, let them. Nobody likes Hollywood anyway. It is a joke. Do they want to really reinforce every negative stereotype about Hollywood and about the political process, that it is all about money? Because they threw enough money?
You know what? People are speaking, and that's what democracy is. It isn't who has the biggest checkbook. Now, it has been in this country. But it shouldn't be that way. And on this issue, this is really about what democracy has been in this country and what it should be. It should be people-powered, with the popular will dictating what legislation looks like.
Right now, the Hollywood studios are isolated. The best they can do is - what? Threaten to not write checks to the White House? Let them threaten that, because there are a lot more people who want to see Congress and the White House do the right thing on this issue.
OLBERMANN: Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos founder and publisher, "Countdown" contributor. As always, sir, thanks for your time.
MOULITSAS: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: The Republicans, meanwhile, may continue to build phony expectations over how many jobs the Keystone XL pipeline would have created. But they won't get to build the pipeline. The president says it is dead. The speaker says it isn't. The only problem, turns out the speaker owns stock in companies that would directly profit from building it. Mark Ruffalo joins me next.
OLBERMANN: They held up the payroll-tax cut extension to force him to decide on the Keystone XL Pipeline scam now. So today, he decided. Now it turns out the harshest critic of that decision is heavily invested in many of the oil companies who would've profited if it had been built. Mark Ruffalo joins me.
The South Carolina primary looms, the man of the people speaks - bashing those elitist apartment dwellers. Hoo boy.
And that's one small toot for a man. One giant rip for mankind. The latest study on the dangers of astronaut flatulence. Ahead.
OLBERMANN: Republicans were ready to shut down the government or kill the incredibly popular and useful payroll-tax cut extension to force the president to decide now and not later on the Keystone XL Pipeline scam.
In our fourth story in the "Countdown" - he decided, all right. It's dead. At least in its present form and its present route. And as the far right reacted with the job-creation claims the pipeline company already said were exaggerations, it turns out the Speaker of the House would have personally profited if the thing had been built.
In our fourth story, a provision demanded by Republicans during payroll-tax-cut negotiations last month gave President Obama a 60-day deadline to decide on the project, rather than stick to his original schedule of deciding it next fall. The pipeline was supposed to pump crude oil 1,700 miles from Alberta, Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The TransCanada company reportedly plans to reapply for permits once it comes up with an alternate route.
In a statement, the president criticized Congressional Republicans for their routes: "This announcement is not a judgment for the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people. I'm disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision."
Republicans in Congress wasted no time, accusing the White House of playing political games.
(Excerpt from video clip) BOEHNER: The president says he'll do anything he can to create jobs. Today, that promise was broken. Now Canada is going to have to look to other nations - like China - to sell its oil reserves to. The president's policies are making the American economy worse, rather than better.
OLBERMANN: House Majority Leader Cantor today claimed that would be 20,000 new jobs, despite independent estimates finding the project would yield 5,000 to 6,000 temporary construction jobs, only about 10 percent of those local.
Apparently, the Republicans' real interest is in dividends, the Washington Post reporting that Speaker Boehner's financial-disclosure forms show that he has personally invested in it at least a total of $70,000, as much as $350,000 in seven firms that had a stake in Canada's oil sands, the region from which the oil products would be extracted and moved.
Boehner owns stock in BP, in Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Devon Energy, Exxon and Canadian Natural Resources. His seventh conflict of interest? Stock in Emerson Electric, which has a contract for digital automation for the project. Is he crying yet?
Meanwhile, from South Carolina, the GOP presidential hopefuls chimed in with a lot of words.
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: The president has apparently vetoed the Keystone pipeline. This is a stunningly stupid thing to do.
OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, Mitt Romney - who yesterday revealed he thinks the $374,000 he made in speaking fees was, moneywise, "not much" - piled on: "By declaring that the Keystone pipeline is not in the 'national interest,' the President demonstrates a lack of seriousness about bringing down unemployment, restoring economic growth, and achieving energy independence."
Joining me now to discuss the win for environmentalists - actor, activist, "Countdown" contributor Mark Ruffalo. Mark, good to talk to you.
MARK RUFFALO: Thank you, Keith. It's good to be back with you.
OLBERMANN: Everybody very careful to say, "This killed off Keystone in its present form." Is that your read on it, or is the thing dead?
RUFFALO: I think it's killed it off in the present form. There is a saying in the environmentalist movement that all of our wins are temporary, and all of our losses last forever.
RUFFALO: And this is just one more step towards what we're after, but, you know, time will tell. There still has to be this review from the State Department. Although, you know - Obama saying, "Hey, you forced me to make a decision to push this thing further, just like I asked to do," that doesn't mean that it is over.
OLBERMANN: Governor Perry of Texas had an extraordinary reaction to this. Let me read it to you: "Getting this country independent of foreign sources of crude from countries that are not our friends is really problematic, so this Canadian oil - there's a possibility we could lose it to China with this next decision, so I hope Americans will really become unhinged with this decision."
How many things wrong with that picture, Mark?
RUFFALO: Well, you know, first of all, this oil - they are sending it down south to the Gulf of Mexico precisely to export the oil. It's going to be processed and exported. That's why they want to send it down there.
The other thing is - is we need to start having a serious discussion about climate change, you know? Our leading NASA scientists have said if we start exploding these tar sands, that's game over for climate change. And there has to be some adults in the room that stand up and say, "Hey, if this is serious, then we have to stop this."
And - and if we want to get off of being on - being dependent on foreign oil, what greater thing but to make us more dependent on more foreign oil? The real thing to be doing is not to be bringing this junk into our - into our - into our nation, but to be - to start coming up with some solutions that are going to last longer, that are going create more jobs.
The $6,000 job - the 6,000 jobs number - you know, these guys are saying hundreds of thousands of jobs. It's actually 6,000 jobs, from Russ Girling, from TransCanada. That's the number he came up with, temporary jobs.
Just to put it in perspective, the solar-jobs bill for New York State alone would create 22,000 jobs. You put a solar-jobs bill in each of the six states that this pipeline is going to, that's 132,000 jobs - real jobs that are clean jobs, that will really get us off of foreign oil and - and will actually do it in a way that isn't going to pour more pollution and junk into our water and into our air.
OLBERMANN: I assume that you think that this news from the Washington Post - that Speaker Boehner's investment in seven firms connected to the tar sands, at least $70,000, maybe $350,000 - that's just a coincidence relative to his position on this, correct?
RUFFALO: You know what they need to do with people like this back in the day? They would dip them in the tar sands and they would feather them and they would run them out of town, okay?
These guys have taken - 234 representatives have taken $42 million from the fossil industry. This is exactly what we are talking about. This is the conversation we want to have in this country right now. Why are these politicians pipelining this money directly from these industries into their own pockets? And if they are doing it, they should be run out of town.
Shame on you, Speaker Boehner. It's a gamble against our own people, the own well-being of our people to take that money from them and pocket it, the way this guy is doing. It's insider trading. It's everything that OWS is against. It's everything that Americans are against today. And these guys should be run out of town. There's just - there's no doubt about it at this point.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of OWS - and I should mention that Boehner's people say an investment firm picks his stocks, which sounds nice, except it doesn't matter, he still makes the money off of it - last point, you mentioned OWS.
Let me play this clip from Zuccotti park when you talked using the human mic in October:
(Excerpt from video clip) MARK RUFFALO: We are going to Washington, D.C.!
(Excerpt from video clip) GROUP: We are going to Washington, D.C.!
(Excerpt from video clip) RUFFALO: We are going to make!
(Excerpt from video clip) GROUP: We are going to make!
(Excerpt from video clip) RUFFALO: A chain!
(Excerpt from video clip) GROUP: A chain!
(Excerpt from video clip) RUFFALO: A human chain!
(Excerpt from video clip) GROUP: A human chain!
(Excerpt from video clip) RUFFALO: Around the White House!
(Excerpt from video clip) GROUP: Around the White House!
(Excerpt from video clip) RUFFALO: To remind Obama!
(Excerpt from video clip) GROUP: To remind Obama!
(Excerpt from video clip) RUFFALO: To unlink his arms with the corporations!
(Excerpt from video clip) GROUP: To unlink his arms with the corporations!
(Excerpt from video clip) RUFFALO: The gas and oil industry!
(Excerpt from video clip) GROUP: The gas and oil industry!
(Excerpt from video clip) RUFFALO: We are turning our grief into winnable action!
(Excerpt from video clip) GROUP: We are turning our grief into winnable action!
OLBERMANN: So Mark, that was somewhat prophetic. Do you think, in fact, a lot of this stuff that has been addressed by OWS, particularly on environmental issues, are indeed now winnable actions?
RUFFALO: We're just seeing the tip of the iceberg of this populous movement. The 1850s populous movement took 30 years to really have the United State embrace those ideas. We're just seeing the beginning of it.
When I started water defense, it was to address the idea that all of these - all of these grievances are linked. We are in a time of deep environmental upheaval that is being caused by the fossil-fuel industry and these new forms of extreme and radical energy extraction. And it's resonating in people. They see that it has a direct link to the oil-industrial-Congressional complex.
This is - there was a coup that happened in this nation around energy with Dick Cheney and Bush. And - and we're paying the price for it. They're dumping - they are treating our air and our water like it's their own personal garbage dump.
And people don't want to live like that anymore. They don't want their children to live like that anymore. They are experiencing extreme weather, they are experiencing droughts unlike any they have ever seen, and that's only the tip of the iceberg.
Climate change is real. They know it is real. They feel it. It is happening to them. And there's a revolution going on. And there's no stopping it. And the more these guys try to tell us that the world is flat, the more - the more credibility they are going to lose, and that - and that's where we're at right now.
And they see that there are special interests that are basically creating policies that are - that are - that are harming them. And so, they are going to change it.
OLBERMANN: At least victory - at least a temporary one, but a victory of some significance today.
RUFFALO: Time is on our side.
OLBERMANN: Our congratulations on your part in it. Mark Ruffalo, the "Countdown" contributor, actor and activist, in New Orleans tonight. Thanks, Mark. Always a pleasure.
RUFFALO: Thanks, Keith. Thank you.
Romney calls out Gingrich for making phony job-creation claims. Yeah, I know, the governor doesn't see the irony in this. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: What has three heads, answers to "Rick-Rick," and could be running for president? Coming up.
First, the "Sanity Break."
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Teleprompter wanders into shot at Florida news station.
We begin at WCJB TV 20, North Central Florida's news leader.
Usually, the camera guy stays behind the camera. Not this time. He has had enough of being second fiddle and he is going to go for his 15 minutes of fame. Hello.
Sadly, the station manager did not like his grandstanding and fired the camera. But you don't have to be too upset here. The camera was then given a blonde wig and now co-hosts Fox and Friends. It's alive! It's alive!
VIDEO: Man takes down a banana tree, mixed martial arts style.
And we conclude, as we always do, by checking in on the logging industry. This guy figures, "If Jean-Claude Van Damme can do it, why can't I?"
Um, Ow? Whatever happened to "wax on, wax off?"
He does succeed in taking down the banana tree. Now all he needs to do is just do it two hundred more times a day to meet his day quotas.
Let's hope he has better sense then Van Damme and quits at one. Quits at one and avoids doing a movie with Dennis Rodman.
"Time Marches On!"
Would you believe "Rick-Rick Newt Ging-torum-Perry?" A candidacy merger proposed by - who else. Next.
OLBERMANN: Please join us here Saturday night for a special edition - "Countdown: South Carolina," our expanded coverage of the South Carolina Republican primary. Among others who'll join me, David Shuster and Nia-Malika Henderson in South Carolina. We'll join you live at 6:30 Eastern, 3:30 Pacific. "Countdown: South Carolina" this Saturday.
With only three days left until that primary, every candidate is looking for a way to pull out victory.
In our third story - Newt Gingrich appears to have a new strategy in his quest to defeat Mitt Romney - entice the other guys to drop out and throw their support to him.
Romney, in turn, again trying to beat himself with his own money. After a strong debate performance Monday, Gingrich has been surging in popularity, at least in his own mind. Dubbing himself as "the only conservative who realistically has a chance to be the nominee," he took it a step further, calling on Rick Santorum and Rick Perry to drop out of the race and endorse him to prevent Mitt Romney from winning,
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: Consolidating into a Gingrich candidacy would, in fact, virtually guarantee victory on Saturday. And I'd be - I'd be delighted if either Perry or Santorum want to do that.
OLBERMANN: But Newt's surge may not just be in his head, it also appears to be in Mitt Romney's head. Romney began his most direct attacks on the former speaker in weeks with help with some friends.
First, in TV ads released yesterday, former members of Congress Jim Talent and Susan Molinari describe Gingrich as "erratic" and "chaotic" during his time as Speaker. Then today, in a conference call, the two former House members described Gingrich's actions that lead him to him being removed from leadership.
It wasn't just surrogates attacking Gingrich. Romney took time during his stump speech today to mock the former speaker's job creation. Apparently not noticing the irony in that:
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: The speaker, the other day at the debate, was saying how he created millions of jobs when he was working with the Reagan administration. He'd been in congress two years when Ronald Reagan got into office. That's like saying 435 congressmen were all responsible for those jobs. Government doesn't create jobs. It's the private sector that creates jobs.
OLBERMANN: Wait, he just insulted Ronald Reagan.
Let's bring in Sam Stein, political editor, White House correspondent for Huffington Post. Sam, good evening.
SAM STEIN: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The Gingrich plan - absorb the two Ricks, squeeze them together, make one good candidate out of the three of them - is it just a pipe dream?
STEIN: I think Michele Bachmann calls that "chutzpah" on Gingrich's part.
You know, why Gingrich - who had a 5th place and a 4th place finish - feels he is entitled to be the "not-Romney" candidate is beyond me. I have not idea. But there is - there is, obviously, logic to the idea that if you could consolidate that percentage support - sure, you could do better than Mitt Romney, but what happens after they run out of money or if they don't have the campaign infrastructure, or - in Gingrich's case - if they are not on the Virginia ballot, which actually matters in this thing. Those things are left unanswered by the former speaker.
OLBERMANN: Why is - what do we read from Romney's sort of focusing on Gingrich and trying to take him out? Is that the killer instinct or is it to some degree validating Gingrich's self-perception that he is having this surge?
STEIN: You know, it is probably a bit of both. Obviously, Romney does not play well in the South, as he does in New Hampshire. At the same time, I think his advisers sense that this nomination is his for the taking.
If he wins in New Hampshire - I mean, Newt Gingrich told our - my colleague John Ward the other day that if Romney wins in South Carolina - sorry - that this thing is basically over. So, I think Romney's people sense that. I think they would like to put this thing away for the time being. And a victory in South Carolina could do that.
I don't really see how Gingrich could theoretically go on after this. After he said, "Well, this is my turf, these are my people, this is my territory and it's time to give Romney a run for his money."
OLBERMANN: Speaking of Romney and his money, his first attempt to deal with his own riches, they don't seem to have gone well.
First, that estimate that he pays about 15 percent in taxes. Then, the statement that he made "some money in speaking fees, but not much," which turned out to be $374,000.
And now, we have this ABC report that Romney's camp essentially confirmed that he has millions of personal wealth in investment funds that have been set up in the Cayman islands, and - as they note, helpfully - a notorious Caribbean tax haven.
Are - is - does Romney have a plan B relative to the money? Or are Democrats just going to hope to look at this and envision him as this piñata that just - this bottomless piñata?
STEIN: Weel, you know, there's a lot to unpack here. On the one hand, his 15 percent earning on capital gains was sort of expected because he doesn't work - he just makes money on investments.
Secondly, the Cayman Islands money is stuff that he has invested in Bain which, in turn, has Cayman Island contracts. So, he is actually paying 15 percent on that money, but the money he is making from Bain is in the Cayman Islands. Tough to understand.
The book stuff, the speaking-fee stuff is problematic. And all of it gets to this caricature of someone who is so decidedly in the one percent of the country, who, basically, is pursuing political office as a hobby and doesn't have to worry about the money because he is getting millions of it at a very low tax rate from investments that are in the millions themselves.
This is something that I think, in many respects, would be almost a dream candidate for the Obama team to run against - especially in this climate where there is concerns about income inequality.
OLBERMANN: Last thing, speaking of clichés - widespread reports that there is an ABC interview of a Gingrich ex and there is, supposedly, an internal debate over whether or not to run - do we know anything about this supposed interview and what it might contain and why it's such hot stuff?
STEIN: I don't know, I'm trying to figure that out myself. It could be a lot of nothing, but - apparently, the second wife of Gingrich spoke to ABC News, talked about something to do with his - incapacity as a husband, I guess you would call it.
The Gingrich campaign is already pushing back on it. They have his two daughters releasing a statement to ABC, calling this "a very personal family matter, something that has been dealt with in the past" and not worthy of the current campaign.
Obviously, everyone knows this man has a ton of personal baggage. It is not a secret. This is the stuff the Romney campaign has alluded to before. And it remains to be seen whether ABC News has the goods, but I will be tuning in and watching.
OLBERMANN: The latest - the Associated Press is quoting - Dave Bauder is quoting - somebody who is saying ABC is going to run whatever they have before the primary, rather than afterwards. So, okay, so let's get those Romney whoever ads made, 'cause it looks like the GOP will be settled by Saturday afternoon.
Sam Stein, of the Huffington Post in Washington tonight. Thank you, Sam.
STEIN: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Intense studies of flatulence in space. Bringing a new meaning to the old astronaut demand, "Let's light this candle." Coming up.
OLBERMANN: Not merely a report on flatulence among astronauts, but only the latest in a series of such reports. Derrick Pitts joins me.
And - he narrows the "Let's make the poor kids be school janitors" scam. Saying New York City is where the janitors are overpaid. And should be replaced by kids paid 60 cents an hour. "Worst Persons," next on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Gas in space. A new report on the danger of astronaut flatulence. A few short bursts on the subject. Derrick Pitts will join me, next.
First, because the segue from flatulence to these people writes itself, here are "Countdown's" top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze? To Billo the Clown and Bernard Goldberg of the political whorehouse that is Fox News. You're going to enjoy this.
(Excerpt from video clip) BERNARD GOLDBERG: Here's a picture, Bill, of Ice-T, one of the iconic figures in black culture and music -
(Excerpt from video clip) O'REILLY: That's Ice Cube, that's not Ice-T, it's Ice Cube.
(Excerpt from video clip) GOLDBERG: No, no, no, no. That's Ice-T.
(Excerpt from video clip) O'REILLY: No, it's Ice Cube, Bernie. That's how white you are. You don't know Ice-T from Ice Cube. That's Ice Cube.
(Excerpt from video clip) BERNARD GOLDBERG: Oh, Ice Cube. Ice Cube. Ice Cube. You're right. That's - I'm sorry.
(Excerpt from video clip) O'REILLY: I'm a brother, man. You can't be doing that to me. I know the Cubes from the T's.
OLBERMANN: "I'm a brother, man."
Well, if you think you're a brother, let me quote you and your expectations of African-Americans from your trip to Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem in 2008 and ask you, "O'Reilly, emm-eff-er. I want more iced tea."
The runner-up? Dr. Ruth Jacobs of "Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government." For our purposes, since there is some resemblance, let's just call her "The Church Lady."
Baltimore County may pass a bill protecting transgender people from discrimination in public accommodations, specifically in bathrooms. This is Dr. Jacobs' particular area of insanity, and she has now managed to present the dumbest of the many dumb arguments for why we should not admit transgendered people into women's bathrooms: "It opens up the bathrooms to men who may be a pedophile who uses the law to nefarious advantage."
Because of course, no non-transgender pedophile, man or woman, has ever used a public bathroom in this country. Idiot.
But our winner? Newt Gingrich. Well, this had to happen. Monday, I actually said he was right about something. And whenever you think that might be the case, he comes right back to prove that - while he might be right about something - he is wrong about everything else.
Gingrich, addressing a National Association of Home Builders photo-op at the state capitol in South Carolina with a series of priceless disconnects from reality.
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: Those who, you know, live in high-rise apartment buildings, writing for fancy newspapers in the middle of town after they ride the Metro, who don't understand that - for most Americans - the ability to buy a home, to have their own property, to have a sense of belonging is one of the greatest achievements of their life, and it makes them feel like they are good, solid citizens.
OLBERMANN: Okay, part by part.
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: Writing for fancy newspapers -
OLBERMANN: All right, what fancy newspapers are those? I mean, is there still a fancy newspaper somewhere? Ask a newspaperman if his newspaper is "fancy."
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: Writing for fancy newspapers in the middle of the town after they ride the Metro -
OLBERMANN: The subway. It's the subway, the Metro - and in New York and LA and Boston it costs two bucks, and is the way people who are not rich get to freaking work. In Washington, where it goes into the suburbs, the average trip still costs three bucks. In most of this country, it's for people who can't afford their own car. Grow up, goober.
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: For most Americans - the ability to buy a home, to have their own property, to have a sense of belonging is one of the greatest achievements of their life -
OLBERMANN: You ever heard of condos? People buying those apartments? Those are their own homes, their own property. Often, because they can't afford an actual house - because to huge percentages of this country's residents, a house is still as off-limit as, say, a revolving line of credit at Tiffany's.
And a sense of belonging? Whether you buy or rent - you want a sense of belonging? Live in an apartment building! You'll belong, whether you want to, or not!
Mr. Gingrich has no connection to the world around him. Besides this "elitist apartment dwellers" nonsense, he's back on the "make poor kids become school janitors" kick.
"New York City," he now says, "pays their janitors an absurd amount of money because of the union. You could take one janitor and hire thirtysome kids to work in the school for the price of one janitor, and those 30 kids would be a lot less likely to drop out."
You know what somebody just found out? That the absurd amount of money that New York City pays its janitors is about $38,000, after two years on the job. The median income in New York is $76,000. They must all be living in those high-rise apartment buildings, riding the Metro.
Newt "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Gingrich - today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: In space, no one can hear you scream. Unfortunately, that does not hold true for all bodily noises.
In our number-one story - although humorous to us stuck-forever-in-the-6th-Grade people on earth, flatulence in space could pose a risk. Silent, but perhaps deadly.
In a newly unearthed study from the dawn of the space era, NASA scientists tried to make sure that our astronauts could release it without worry. Anyone who has witnessed someone igniting their flatulence knows, it is flammable.
Thankfully, this fact did not slip by the geniuses at NASA who - in an attempt to keep as many noxious gasses out of the shuttle as possible - recruited nutritionists to create the least gas-inducing diets. Thus the study, "Intestinal Hydrogen and Methane of Men Fed Space Diet."
One group of 6 men ate Gemini-type diet (S) and another received a bland formula (F), for 42 days. Breath and rectal gases were analyzed during the first and final weeks. Flatus gases varied widely within dietary groups but much more gas was generated with diet S than with F." Thanks.
Or, to put it simply, the diet fed to the astronauts during the Gemini program produced way too many flammable gases. So, in future missions, diets were adjusted to those that would produce the least amount. No word on if they first ran their tests on apes, or who the lucky guy was who got to collect the, um sample results.
You're in luck. Let's bring in Derrick Pitts, the "Countdown" contributor, the chief astronomer of the Franklin Institute Science museum in Philadelphia. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
DERRICK PITTS: You save all of the best stories for me, don't you?
OLBERMANN: I know. I was just thinking - I'm sure this is exactly what you envisioned, as you worked so hard on your education and career.
PITTS: Who cares about my integrity? Let's just throw it out the window right now.
OLBERMANN: My view every night. Did this occur to NASA, sort of pre-manned flight in the 50s, or did they figure it out way too late?
PITTS: You know, I think what happened was that - at the time that NASA was doing all of its first sort of assessments of what kind of conditions astronauts might expect to deal with, they thought of everything possible, because they had no idea what would happen to the human body. So anything - any human bodily process that was available for them to test, I'm sure they did it.
OLBERMANN: As I mentioned, this particular bodily process produces a gas that can, in fact, be ignited, it can be lit. If it can be lit, did anybody think that maybe it could be used as fuel? As, in fact, as rocket fuel?
PITTS: I'm really supposed to do this with a straight face? Is that right?
OLBERMANN: Yes, go ahead.
PITTS: In the case of - when you look at rocket fuels, the thing about rocket fuels is that they contain a tremendous amount of energy in the smallest package possible. When you look at methane, for example - yes, it does have energy, but it doesn't have the same kind of punch that the kind of rocket fuels that are currently being used. Hydrogen, however, is the major component there. And that's the one place where you can find plenty, plenty plenty of energy packed into a small area.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, so maybe they're not - maybe their diet should be the opposite...All right, I'm going to ask you two real space questions. This Russian satellite that came crashing down over the weekend, that they never actually got into orbit. They are now claiming that America shot it down. Did we?
PITTS: And the answer is no. We don't really have the power to do that in the way they suggested we'd done. And what you really have to look at is Russia's history of sending spacecraft to Mars. I think this is their sixth attempt, and not one of their spacecraft has ever been able to make it to Mars. It gets lost along the way, it crashes on the surface, anything but get there.
OLBERMANN: The answer, clearly, to that was cosmonaut gas.
Lastly, it was reported last week that there are billions of planets - billions of planets - in our solar system, which is more than initially thought. And I suppose more than recently initially thought, as opposed to, say, when men was in the caves. Is there a surprise to this and who got to count?
PITTS: Well, it's billions of planets in the galaxy, and what is going on actually, Keith, is the supposition that - based on the rate in which we're finding planets orbiting other stars right now, just looking at the smallest sections of sky - we can anticipate that stars all across the galaxy are probably going to have planets. And the likelihood is much greater that stars will have planets than not have planets, and it's beginning to look like there are stars that have multiple planets in multiple kinds of configurations, thus upping the number. So, within our own galaxy, I think the safe estimate is probably some 400 billion planets in our own galaxy.
OLBERMANN: "Countdown" contributor, chief astronomer of the Franklin Institute Science museum, Derrick Pitts. Always a pleasure, sir.
PITTS: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Boy, oh, boy. If we had billions of planets in the solar system it would be really crowded.
That's "Countdown." I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.