'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, January 19th, 2012
#ShowPlug 1: Open Marriage, Close Campaign. Is Gingrich the next to fold after Perry quits? Plus Romney on rope line puts himself on ropes
#ShowPlug 2: Romney to 99%: "America is right, you're wrong." @KenVogel on The Many Gingriches; @AndrewKroll on the rest
#ShowPlug 3: @NancyPelosi joins me in studio to react to Romney's amazing class warfare statement +her plans to beat GOP & Citizens United
#ShowPlug 4: Meet @TheGarfoose Dirk Hayhurst joins me on his second terrific Not-Really-A-Baseball-Book, "Out Of My League."
#ShowPlug 5: Oh, the irony, it burns! SOPA Author Rep. Lamar Smith? Pirated a copyrighted image for his website!
ShowPlug Last: our special guest tonight @NancyPelosi moby.to/e8infr
watch whole playlist
#5 'Team Turmoil', Ken Vogel
#5 'Team Turmoil', Andy Kroll
#4 'Leader In The House', Rep. Nancy Pelosi
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#3 'The World According To...', Rep. Nancy Pelosi
#2 Worst Persons: Brian Fisher, Rush Limbaugh, Rep. Lamar Smith
#1 'Out Of My League', Dirk Hayhurst
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Nancy Pelosi, Dirk Hayhurst, Ken Vogel, Andy Kroll
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
One candidacy ends today. Another may end tonight. A third stumbles towards ending later. Perry is gone.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK PERRY: Today, I am suspending my campaign and endorsing Newt Gingrich for President of the United States.
OLBERMANN: But Gingrich may be gone after ABC runs all of this interview with his second ex-wife:
(Excerpt from video clip) MARIANNE GINGRICH: He was asking to have an open marriage and I refused.
OLBERMANN: And, just in case you think that means Romney gets all the remaining ice cream and cake, he tells the 99 percenters - "You're wrong."
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTER: What will you do to support the 99 percent, considering you're part of the one percent?
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: Let me tell you something, America is a great nation because we are a united nation, and those who are trying to divide the nation - as you're trying to do here, and as our president is doing - are hurting this country, seriously. America is right and you're wrong.
OLBERMANN: How to defend the 99 percent. And as the second anniversary of Citizens United looms, what to do about it? And - uh, about her old co-star Newt Gingrich:
(Excerpt from video clip) PELOSI: We don't always see eye to eye, do we, Newt?
OLBERMANN: My special guest, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
"Brutally honest," writes one reviewer, "I laughed, I cried, I even learned how to doctor a baseball." The second book about baseball and life, "Out Of My League," from my guest Dirk Hayhurst.
And we'll offer a special goodbye to what will we miss about Rick Perry.
(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: It's three agencies of government - when I get there - that are gone, Commerce, Education, and the, um, um, what's the third one there?...Live free or die, victory or death, bring it...We fought the revolution in the 16th century...Matta-matta-mayor...the Education, the Commerce, the one I can't - I can't, sorry, oops.
OLBERMANN: All that and more, now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: And I think things went well.
OLBERMANN: Good evening. Just say "Oops" and get out. This is Thursday, January 19th, 292 days until the 2012 presidential election.
As one campaign ends, another seems on the verge of self destruction. And a third one revealed the kind of statements by which its candidate will sink or swim, and probably the former.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - we won't have Rick Perry to kick around anymore. While Newt Gingrich responds to accusations from his second ex-wife that could make him anathema to social conservatives. And Mitt Romney has a message to the 99 percent: America is right and you're wrong.
Starting with Perry. The Texas governor conceding his laughable run for the Presidency was at an end:
(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: Today, I am suspending my campaign and endorsing Newt Gingrich for president of the United States.
OLBERMANN: Perry, passing that good news to Gingrich on the eve of this bad news from Newt's second wife, Marianne, accusations that the former Speaker of the House had not only conducted an affair with a staffer - now his third wife, Callista - but had then asked Marianne to agree to a remarkably liberal take on their relationship.
This exclusive TV interview conducted by ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross:
(Excerpt from video clip) MARIANNE GINGRICH: I said to him, "We've been married a long time." And he said, "Yes. But you want me all to yourself. Callista doesn't care what I do."
(Excerpt from video clip) BRIAN ROSS: What was he saying, do you think?
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: Oh, he was asking to have an open marriage. And I refused.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROSS: He wanted an open marriage?
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: Yeah, that I accept the fact that he - he has somebody else in his life.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROSS: And you said?
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: No. No. That is not a marriage.
OLBERMANN: But it proved a marriage for Rick Perry:
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK PERRY: Newt is not perfect, but who among us is? The fact is, there is forgiveness for those who seek God. And I believe in the power of redemption.
OLBERMANN: Give me three good reasons for that. Though, apparently, Rick Santorum does not believe in that power. At least not where his rival for the Republican nomination is concerned.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SANTORUM: Anything that interacts and interferes with your role as a public official and what you did in behaving in that office with - with people who you worked with, that's - that's an issue that's certainly one the public should consider.
OLBERMANN: Though Mr. Gingrich would prefer the public consider the issue with somebody else.
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: Look, I'm not going to say anything about Marianne. My two daughters have already written to ABC complaining about this, that it's tawdry and inappropriate.
OLBERMANN: Yes, Gingrich won't talk about his ex-wife's accusations, but his daughters by his first wife - on whom their father cheated on his second wife, Marianne - they have and will. Writing to ABC News that a failed marriage like their father's is "a personal tragedy filled with regrets, and sometimes differing memories of events. We will not say anything negative about our father's ex-wife."
Ex-wives. They won't say anything negative. Just imply that she may not know what she's talking about.
While Gingrich told South Carolina voters they'll have to decide for themselves about his lapses:
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: I have been very open about my life. I have been very open about mistakes I have made.
OLBERMANN: Like last March, when he amazingly attributed his infidelity, in part, to patriotism.
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: At times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, I worked far too hard and the things happened in my life that were not appropriate.
OLBERMANN: Saluting the flag, were you?
All this coming at the worst possible time for Gingrich, with another GOP debate on tap tonight and polls that had shown him surging before Saturday's primary. In a good way - politically.
Likely primary voters - or likely primary voters - in the NBC News/Marist poll favored Romney over Gingrich by ten, other candidates and one ex-candidate trailing. While a Public Policy Poll shows Gingrich leading Romney by six percent, with the other candidates trailing. No truth to rumors Gingrich has asked South Carolina for an open primary so he can poll it and North Carolina at the same time.
As for Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator is now the proud winner of the January 3rd Iowa caucus. Sort of. Iowa Republicans reporting their final tally shows that Sanatorium seems to have won by 34 votes, though with eight precincts failing to report all together, the real number will never be known.
And Romney, the previous Iowa winner by eight votes, having a big day of his own, calling voters from his South Carolina headquarters and telling off an Occupy supporter who had the nerve to ask him a question.
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTER: What will you do to support the 99 percent, considering you're part of the one percent?
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: Let me tell you something, America is a great nation because we are a united nation - and those who are trying to divide the nation - as you're trying to do here, and as our president is doing - are hurting this country, seriously.
The right course for America is not to divide America and try to divide us between one and another, it's to come together as a nation. And if you've got a better model - if you think China is better or Russia is better, or Cuba is better or North Korea is better - I'm glad to hear all about it. You know what? America is right and you're wrong.
OLBERMANN: Short version? Shut up or I'll hit you with my wallet.
For more on an extraordinary day in any presidential race, I'm joined by Ken Vogel, chief investigative correspondent for Politico. Good evening, Ken.
KEN VOGEL: Hey, nice to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The Gingrich circus in a minute, but I have got to start with that Romney soundbite we just played. The presumptive nominee has no hesitation at all when it's sort of framed this way - embrace rich versus poor?
VOGEL: Well, I think this is the problem with Mitt Romney speaking off the cuff. People say, "Mitt Romney needs to be a little more animated. He needs to be a little more spontaneous and in the moment." No, this is what happens.
And we have seen other statements like this. Particularly on this issue of wealth and the disparity and the distribution of income, which has really become a problem area for him in this campaign. A question like this was what prompted him to say, "Corporations are people, my friend." A line that has really haunted him throughout the campaign. Rather, he does better when he is reading from a script, like he did after his big win in New Hampshire, where he addressed this issue by saying he wanted to see a country where people were driven by their desire to succeed, were brought together by their desire to succeed and did not resent success. That is sort of a better way for him to address this. What we heard today is the worst of Mitt Romney.
OLBERMANN: To Gingrich, logic would suggest that having one of your ex-wives quote you as asking for a open marriage six years after cheating on her, and 19 after you started cheating with her on your other ex-wife, that this might hurt you with values voters. But I've been wondering about this all day - is there any real indication that it will take any support away from Gingrich? Because what Gingrich supporter has decided - or has been undecided - about his values, in the sense of not already having ruled this out of the equation of why they support Gingrich.
VOGEL: Yeah, that's exactly right, Keith. Maybe it could hurt him at the margins, particularly with female voters, to see this video of the former wife airing these grievances publicly in such an emotional way that resonates with people. But you are right, people already know this about Newt Gingrich.
They know he had two divorces. They know he left his first wife after she was treated for cancer. This is not the candidate for folks who are looking for a pure and unblemished record on the issue of morality. Yeah, this could hurt him, it's bad timing. But most of the folks who are supporting him, or - more to the point - most of the folks for whom this would be an issue, are already not supporting him.
OLBERMANN: Exactly. Your poll, in your site, has it nationally - Romney 37, Gingrich 30. And now, here is Perry endorsing Gingrich when it seems like Perry's voters might more be expected to go to Santorum. Is there any indication - did Perry even screw up his endorsement on the way out?
VOGEL: It's possible. He certainly drew attention to this breaking story about Marianne Gingrich and her allegations. And, let's not forget that Rick Perry - although he did court evangelical voters and social conservatives - he also called out Newt Gingrich on these issues, saying "fidelity is important" and "If you'll cheat on your wife, you'll cheat on your business partner."
So, for him to say that people can redeem themselves, and he believes in Newt Gingrich from that perspective, I don't know that's particularly helpful. And also the larger question - the voters who supported Rick Perry, rather, at various points throughout his campaign either did so early on because they thought he was a potentially viable candidate against Barack Obama and had the trappings of a real professional campaign, or because they were sort of social conservatives.
Well, the first part of that equation - the folks who thought he was viable - they have long since gone somewhere else. They have been disabused of that notion. The folks who thought that he was sort of the strongest choice for evangelical voters, for social conservatives? You are right, they are probably going to go to Rick Santorum.
OLBERMANN: And lastly, about Santorum - this just in, he won Iowa, at least theoretically. What kind of fuel can you get off of winning a vote like that, or a caucus like that, three weeks after the fact? Is the momentum idea sort of tied to the same day, or the next day at the latest?
VOGEL: Yeah, I think any benefit that he would have derived from winning it, getting those eight or nine votes or whatever it would have been to bump him ahead of Mitt Romney, would have already - any momentum would have already sort of lapsed. And he would now being relying on where he is right now. Which is a rather bare-bones campaign organization that's being floated by a super PAC supported by a single billionaire supporter, and with that behind him there's no reason why he can't go on and really drag this out, and that is good for Mitt Romney. If he and Newt Gingrich - Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich - continue to fight this out, with Ron Paul coalescing the tea party or libertarian support, all works better for Mitt Romney.
OLBERMANN: Ken Vogel, chief investigative correspondent for Politico. Thank you, Ken.
OLBERMANN: Let's focus this in on South Carolina on Saturday. And for that I'm joined by Andy Kroll, a reporter from Mother Jones. Andy, good evening.
ANDY KROLL: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: All right, there have been signs in the last 48 hours that Gingrich was, to some degree, closing the gap on Romney. Do we have any idea, with all that went on, if it is a net plus or net negative for Gingrich?
KROLL: You know, I don't think Gingrich has made as much as a stride as the Public Policy polling survey you mentioned has. Mitt Romney is on top. He has taken a lot of cuts this week. You know, this - this - this comment that he made that $374,000 in speaking fees "isn't that much money." This "99 percent, one percent" exchange. But he is still on top, he's still the "inevitable candidate." And I don't think Gingrich has closed the gap, really, all that much with this South Carolina primary right ahead of us.
OLBERMANN: Let me ask you about that Romney clip again. "America is right and you are wrong." I mean, never mind what the independents or the 99 percent may think. Could there be Republicans saying somewhere, "My God, this is the wrong year to run a candidate whose main asset seems to be that he can, you know, say, 'Look at how big my wallet is'?"
KROLL: Yeah, I mean, he loses the kind of voters in the middle of the country, you know - in Kansas, in Indiana and Ohio and Nebraska, places like that. I mean, these are folks who are conservative on the social issues, who traditionally vote Republican on abortion, on gun rights, but they don't want to hear this kind of a dismissal of income equality.
You know, and these are kind of the folks who - when Occupy Wall Street was in the headlines, when income inequality sort of took over the debate from the, you know, how much the to cut the - you know, to fix our debt here in D.C. - these are folks who actually supported this shift in the discussion and now they are seeing Mitt Romney say, you know, more than $370,000 isn't very much money, that there is no income inequality, that folks raising this issue are dividing us. You know, that is a poison pill not just for your dyed-in-the-wool liberals but also for more conservatives, especially any fly-over country in the middle of the country.
OLBERMANN: All right. Any chance it shows up on Saturday in this primary? And what is a loss for Romney? What is a momentum slower for Romney? Is there any way to measure that?
KROLL: I don't think it will show up - this issue of income inequality and the 99 percent - as much in South Carolina, only because South Carolina is such - one, it is a really dirty primary, lots of mud slinging, and two, it's really dominated by social conservatives on the Republican side. Now, if Mitt Romney loses this primary to Newt Gingrich, you will see a shift in the narrative.
He technically lost Iowa today, though really, he took the spoils of momentum from it, you know, earlier this month. But then we'll see him just, having won New Hampshire, he'll have finished not in first - as he should have - in Iowa and in South Carolina, and you will see some momentum. Maybe money will flow into Newt Gingrich's campaign war chest.
I think that South Carolina has taken on a much more significance for Mitt Romney, just in the last few days, and I'm sure his aides and the candidate himself are really shoring up their support in making sure that they lock down this primary come this weekend.
OLBERMANN: Mother Jones reporter Andy Kroll, great thanks.
And - just for your information - in the debate tonight, Newt Gingrich was asked and asked early about his ex-wife Marianne's interview, and he responded that it was as "close to despicable as anything I can imagine." The question, not his behavior, nor his wife's interview.
All right, now that he's out of the race, and the fearful vision of an America under the guidance of President Rick Perry is erased, I can confess to you - I'm going to miss him.
Think of the orators of American political history - Charles Sumner, Fredrick Douglass, William Jennings Bryan, the founding fathers, John F. Kennedy. Rick Perry? No, he wasn't one of them. Which is why I'm going to miss him.
(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: I'm not ashamed to admitted that I'm a Christian, but you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know something is wrong with this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school...For any more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost precious - or treasonous in my opinion...Those of you that are - who will be 21 by November 12th, I ask for your support and your vote...It's three agencies of government - when I get there - that are gone - Commerce, Education and the - what is the third one?...Live free or die. Victory or death. Bring it! Or that!...To expand your tax footprint, you know what I mean?...Like nine percent expansion. Commerce, Education and the -
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: EPA.
(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: EPA, there you go...We fought the revolution and the - in the 16th century...If you go back to the - a decade ago with Woodrow Wilson.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN 2: You can't name the third one?
(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: The third agency of government I would do away with Education, the - Is it the Mitt Romney that was on the side of - against the Second Amendment before he was for the Second Amendment? Was it - before, he was before the social programs? Not - Matta-matta-mayor.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Sonia Sotomayor?
(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: Sotomayor.
OLBERMANN: Our coverage of the South Carolina primary, minus Rick Perry. "Countdown: South Carolina." Salon's Steve Kornacki joins me here in New York, David Shuster and Nia-Malika Henderson for us in South Carolina. Craig Crawford, Tim Dickinson, Bill Press among our analysts. We'll join you live at 6:30 Eastern, 3:30 Pacific. "Countdown: South Carolina" this Saturday.
Sooner than that - you heard Romney to the 99 percent, "America's right, you're wrong." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi reacts to that and reveals her plan to defeat the Republicans and Citizens United in November.
Next, on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: You heard what Romney said to the 99 percent, "America's right and you're wrong." House Minority Leader Pelosi doesn't like that at all. She's our special guest tonight. Her reaction to Romney and her early look towards her party's chances in the Presidential election in November. And the House races, with an improving economy and growing understanding of the disaster that is the upcoming second anniversary of Citizens United.
When a baseball player writes a book that a top baseball analyst describes as "a stirring tale of humanity" - it's a good read for you whether you like sports or not. Author and pitcher Dirk Hayhurst joins us.
And, as support for the SOPA Internet piracy bill he wrote collapses on top of him, the irony of Texas Congressman Lamar Smith, his campaign website, and the picture on it which he seems to have pirated from somewhere else on the Internet. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: For all of your alleged tea party revolution and "take our country back"s and the like, if the Democrats get a net swing of 25 seats in November, they again assume control of the House of Representatives.
In our fourth story - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is here to talk about what this year holds the Democrats and the country at large.
A poll released Tuesday showed a record 84 percent of Americans disapproved the job Congress is doing, the highest ever reported. The House returned Tuesday from its holiday break, welcomed back by Occupy, which reminded members of Congress they were elected by the people, not the corporations. Which - along with Mitt Romney's message to the 99 percent of "America's right, you're wrong" - is where Nancy Pelosi and I began when she visited here this afternoon.
Madam Minority Leader, it's good to see you.
NANCY PELOSI: Good to see you.
OLBERMANN: Are you well?
PELOSI: I am well, happy.
OLBERMANN: I would not ordinarily start here, but this happened this afternoon on the rope line at his headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina. Someone asked Mitt Romney, "What would you do to support the 99 percent, seeing as you are part of the one percent?"
And he started - I already played the tape - but here is what he said: "Let me tell you something, America is a great nation because we are a united nation, and those who are trying to divide the nation - as you're trying to do here, and as our president is doing - are hurting this country, seriously. The right course for America is not to divide America and try to divide us between one and another, it's to come together as a nation. And if you've got a better model - if you think China is better or Russia is better, or Cuba is better or North Korea is better - I'm glad to hear all about it. But you know what? You know what? America is right and you're wrong."
That's Mitt Romney's message to the 99 percent today. Does that strike you as startling as it does me?
PELOSI: Yes, it is startling. It just shows you how really out of touch he is, and those who support him. He doesn't even know how out of touch he is, to make a statement like that.
But I was interested in the press reaction to it. They were saying it was Reagan-esque. How could they say such a thing? Am I missing something here?
But remember President Obama's speech in 2004, when he talked about us being one nation, but united with fairness and justice, not this dividing - divisive statement, accusing somebody else - it's projection. They know that they are the divider, and so they want to project it on somebody else.
OLBERMANN: You were working practically on some of this stuff. As recently as 24 hours ago you were on the Hill, counting noses on the idea of restarting the millionaire surcharge as we go do another dance of the payroll-tax-cut-holiday extension. It was the first thing that was essentially sacrificed to get the two-month deal. Why is it not going to be sacrificed this time?
PELOSI: I think public sentiment is everything, and the more the public knows - that here we have an opportunity to do a payroll-tax cut for 160 million Americans. We didn't have to pay for tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country, but the Republicans are demanding that we pay for the tax cut, and we're saying, "Okay, there is the simple way to do this."
The simplest, fairest, most easily understood - a tax surcharge on those making over one million dollars a year. Not who have a million dollars but who make over one million dollars a year. And we're just going to keep on this, because even if we don't prevail now - which I hope we will, because I hope public sentiment will weigh in - it is going to be there, because fairness is what is fundamental to the system, and this is totally unfair.
And we're not going to give with one hand to the middle class and take with the other hand, and say, "Okay, you are going to get a tax cut but, by the way, you're going to pay more for Medicare, you're going to pay more for this that or the other thing."
OLBERMANN: But the system nearly came - or, actually, pretty much did come - to a grinding halt just to get a two-month extension, because of the way, now, the majority operates in the House and what their stated publicity goals really are. Are we going to go through that sort of hostage drama - not to make an unfortunate analogy - but semi-hostage drama again for another two-month extension, or is this thing - the payroll-tax cut - going to be pushed through for an entire year this time, along with all the other measures we're talking about?
PELOSI: I certainly - we could do this in one meeting. Everybody knows what the choices are, in terms of what we want to do. Payroll-tax cut for 160 million Americans. Unemployment insurance for millions of Americans who are out of work through not fault of their own, and tens of millions of seniors who want to see their doctor under Medicare.
So, we have those three initiatives that must be covered. We can cover the seniors with war savings, the overseas contingency fund. We can cover the other two - some of it could come from that, but the surcharge is the simplest way to do it. If they have another idea that is not harmful to the middle class, let's hear what that is.
The fact is, is that if they want to have - you know, it's a funny thing because they never have been for the middle-income tax cut. You know, understand that. And then they said - when we were doing it for two months, just to get us through - they said, "Well, it isn't long enough." I said, "Well, this is like Yogi Berra - 'I don't like that the food in that restaurant. Besides, the portions are too small.'"
OLBERMANN: Exactly. You mentioned public sentiment. You were interviewed by The Hill and they published Tuesday and you made a comment about Occupy Wall Street that I'd like to follow up with, that you suggested that they should have stood behind a common theme.
And the quote that they attributed to you was, "If I were they, I would have wedded this directly to the role of money and politics." Do you feel they didn't? Because the sense was, from here, that they had changed the dialogue about program cuts and what are we going to eliminate and which part of the safety net is going to get cut to, instead, job creation, income inequality, and money in politics. Did they not, to some degree, already do this?
PELOSI: Well, I think this. I think their statement - People said, "Oh, they didn't have a message" - their statement was a clear one. The status quo is unacceptable. The disparity - of not only income in our country, but of ownership, of equity - is just totally unfair.
And again, never again should the recklessness of some - not all, but some - on Wall Street cause massive joblessness on Main Street. I think that was a very, very clear sentiment that, really, 100 percent of the Americans - except for a very few - would agree with.
What I was saying is - right from the start, it should have been about money in politics. Maybe you got that message, but I think that that's the place that this has to go. If you are going to change the policy that is unfair to masses - most of the American people - overwhelming.
If we're going to talk about 100 percent of the American people - let's just talk about 100 percent - you cannot support the policies that are - that the Bush administration put forth.
And what I was saying there is - the tea party was almost a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republican Party. They said I was distancing myself. I said, "No, that's not the point." The point is - they are who they are. They don't want to be associated with any party or any establishment and the rest, and good for them. But I think we have to take this to mind. And one of the reasons we want to win the election is so we can reform the system.
First, we have to - right now - disclose. Disclose where this big money is coming from. This big special-interest money.
Secondly, win the election and reform. Reform the system. We have our legacy be a new politics, free of special interest-money. So, disclose, reform and then - starting now - amend, but that's a longer-term thing. Disclose, reform, amend. You've got to - its got to - something different has to happen, especially in light of the Supreme Court decision.
OLBERMANN: I want to talk to you about the Supreme Court decision, about the 2012 race, particularly in the House, and - it's not often you get to talk about another former speaker of the House about another former speaker of the House making news today. I can't resist. Let me take a quick commercial break and I'll bring that up in a moment.
OLBERMANN: Back, as promised, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. And thank you, again, for staying with us.
As I said before the break, I can't resist. Newt Gingrich - also a former speaker of the House, your former co-star in a public-service announcement, that he seems now to have completely forgotten the justification for - is in the deep end of the pool after one of his ex-wives has granted a series of interviews that do not portray him very kindly in a public light. You've hinted, previously, in the Republican primary season about having spent a lot of time with Gingrich and aware of the Gingrich investigations and all the rest of that. What is your reaction to this interview today?
PELOSI: Well, you know, what is personal is personal, and has an impact on how consistent people are about what they say and what they do, but I'm more concerned about their policies and how it effects people. And the integrity issue is an important one.
Nothing that I would never say about Newt Gingrich is anything that isn't in the public record. He made it sound like I was telling - breaking the secrecy and the confidentiality. It's all in the public record where he says, "I am the definer of civilization, I am the teacher of civilization, I am the defender of civilization, globally, with force if necessary." I mean, I think people should know those kinds of things. That's kind of strange, don't you think?
But the record speaks for itself. His family will speak for themselves. The public will make a judgment. The Republican choice for their candidate for president is really up to them, but you see resistance - the more - the more he advances, the more people will come out and speak to the inappropriateness of him to even be running for president.
OLBERMANN: As David Axelrod suggested, when you're the front-runner or near that, you become the monkey's butt that is visible from all corners of the stage. It's not exactly -
PELOSI: That's an interesting analogy.
OLBERMANN: And is. And it's a really - it is a crass one, but a really good one - because everyone who's stepped into that role has gotten that kind of examination.
But, to the larger issue of whoever it is that runs against President Obama - I think everybody expected the economy was the issue as the Obama administration began, that, obviously, it would be the key issue of the election. But is it going to be the economy? Because there are upturns and there are good indicators towards the rest of this year. Could it be about - not so much about the economy, per se - but money and who has it and who doesn't - who does not have it? Is it that kind of shape-up in your mind, at this point?
PELOSI: I don't think they are completely two separate issues. I think it's all - is it a fair economy? Is it an economy that works for the American people? And the - we'll see a path.
I don't know if we can still come out of the deep ditch that President Bush took us into the meltdown of the financial system, with deep deficits that sprang from his unfair tax-cut policies, giving tax cuts to the wealthy that did not produce jobs and, of course, that lack of revenue deepened the deficit as well as near-depression in terms of what was there.
So, this is a long road back, and they want to see the path - a path that we're going on, and that path - we have a moment now when the decision can be made that this path as we go forward is one that is not about trickle-down but bubble-up, about how we had small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit of America creating jobs, where we have the understanding that education and innovation are central to our competitiveness as well as good for the people who are being educated.
So, this has to be about springing from the people - that's our strength - rather than trickling down. And if it helps, so be it. If it doesn't, so be it.
OLBERMANN: Well, if we're looking at it from that point of view, that's a good way to ask about if you have a read on the House races, or if anybody has a read on the House races this early?
PELOSI: Well, we have a great chairman, Steve Israel, who's from New York. And we - he is a very clear-eyed, no sugar coating as to what our prospects are. He says right now, it's razor thin. But we see a path to victory. I think if the elections were held today, we would be in very good shape. They aren't, but we're more than halfway to the next election.
We've out-raised the Republicans and, under the system where you report, we have outraised them. We've out-recruited. Our candidates are fabulous - many women, minorities, small businesses, people who have run for office before. And we are doing very well on redistricting. So, we think that we're on a really good path and the president being on the ticket, at the top of the ticket, of course, will increase the turnout, which we think will help in our race as well.
But many places we'll be running where he won't be campaigning because - like Texas, California, New York, Illinois - because he is either going to win those states or not win those states.
OLBERMANN: And you mentioned - and that's a good final point to close with - you mentioned the money that you have to report, and how well you are doing about that.
And there is, on Saturday, the two-year anniversary of the thing that created this monster, Citizens United. Which I think people are beginning to see in its full dimensions in Wisconsin and other places - Ohio - where elections have essentially been bought against the interest of working-class people, while it's so heavily advertised that they think they are voting in their own interests. Is there -
PELOSI: But, accompany that -
OLBERMANN: Yes, yes.
PELOSI: With the voter suppression -
OLBERMANN: Yes, yes, of course.
PELOSI: The voter suppression that is going on as well.
OLBERMANN: What do we do about it? Is it a Constitutional amendment or no way out? How do we get out of it?
PELOSI: I think we have - I think what, as the public views the impact of big money, unidentified special interests coming in, they see some of it in the presidential - it does create an atmosphere where we can try to amend - it requires amending the Constitution. But we can disclose. We can reform, and our legacy is - there is a new politics free of those special-interest money.
We have to do that, or else we're taking our country backward to a hundred years ago where corporate and special interests controlled our country, and that doesn't take us on a path of fairness.
So, it's a very important moment for our country. Something that we owe our founders, for the vision they had about this democracy. We owe our men and women in uniform, for the sacrifices they make for a true democracy. And for our children, so they can reach their aspirations. So, it's an exciting time.
OLBERMANN: And a necessary one, 'cause we already had Jay Gould once. We don't need him a second time.
The minority leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, always a pleasure, and thanks greatly for your time.
PELOSI: My pleasure. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Great to see you.
We'll have "Worst Persons" and Dirk Hayhurst, the author of "Out of My League" coming up.
OLBERMANN: You know who the real victim in the Newt Gingrich "open marriage" mess is, right? Of course, explains Dr. Feelgood, it's Gingrich. Because we're not giving him credit for asking his wife for permission to cheat on her.
And what happens when the career you've always dreamed of turns into a job in which you cannot perform miracles? Pitcher and author Dirk Hayhurst's second book is out - "Out Of My League." He joins us.
OLBERMANN: What happens when you start to achieve success in your dream career, only to discover it is not a dream, and there are no guarantees you're going to be able to stay in it as a career? Dirk Hayhurst and his great new book "Out Of My League," next.
First, because I'm doing everything I can to get these people out of our league, here are Countdown's top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze? To Bryan Fischer, idiot. You know him as the crazy-eyed man from the American Family Association - which, two years ago, was designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Previously known mostly as a paranoid and an Islamophobic, Fischer has now moved into the new field of AIDS denial. The claim that the disease is not caused by a virus, but rather by recreational drug use? Part of a video he's just posted to YouTube.
(Excerpt from video clip) BRYAN FISCHER: The body may be able to restructure and restore its - its capacity, its immunological capacity, if we keep - if we stop subjecting it to all of these harmful behaviors. In other words - if you stop shooting up or you stop inhaling these nitrites, you stop having random sex, promiscuously, with total strangers - your body may begin to heal. God has worked some amazingly powerful recuperative powers into the human body.
OLBERMANN: Ah, but apparently even God can't cure the stupid.
Speaking of which, the runner-up? Comedian Rush Limbaugh. Using his cat-like reflexes to respond to the breaking Newt Gingrich news, he has today identified the real victim in Gingrich's second marriage, the one his second wife is detailing to ABC News and The Washington Post. The real victim? Newt Gingrich.
(Excerpt from video clip) RUSH LIMBAUGH: I got a great note from a friend of mine. "So, Newt wanted an open marriage. BFD. At least he asked his wife for permission instead of just cheating on her. That's a mark of character, in my book. Newt's a victim. We all are. Ours is the horniest generation." That's from a good friend of mine. "Newt's slogan ought to be, 'Hell, yes, I wanted it.'
I'm sharing just with you how some people are reacting to this.
OLBERMANN: Oxycodone is a hell of a drug. By the way, for the record, "at least he asked his wife for permission instead of cheating on her?" Uh, no. According to Number Two wife, Gingrich asked in 1999. According to Number Three wife, Gingrich had begun cheating with her in 1993.
But our winner? Congressman Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas. He is the author of the Stop Online Piracy Act - SOPA. And - even though its Senate twin, PIPA, went down in flames during the protests yesterday, so fast that five Republican Senators switched from "for" to "against" before nightfall - Smith has doubled down, insisting SOPA's opponents are lying, and that the bill would not hurt the Internet, it would merely punish copyright violators. Like him.
Turns out, his website could be shut down for online piracy and copyright violation. Vice Magazine noted that Congressman Smith's site was dominated by that background photo that at least evokes the west. Reporter Jamie Taete tracked the photo down - there it is.
The photographer is named D.J. Schulte, and he wrote back to Taete that Congressman Smith not only did not post his copyright of the photo, nor credit him, but, "I do not see anywhere on the screen capture that you have provided that the image was attributed to the source. So, my conclusion would be that Lamar Smith's organization did improperly use my image. So, according to the SOPA bill - should it pass - maybe I could petition the court to take action against www.texansforlamarsmith.com."
Would you? Please?
Of course, after the report, Smith's website went dark and then reappeared with a different background - just gray coloring. No photo.
The magazine found four other cases of SOPA or PIPA co-sponsors or supporters who have used copyrighted material on their own websites without giving the credit. But the championship hypocrisy still belongs to Congressman Lamar Smith - he didn't just write the SOPA law, he also broke it - today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: "I was naked and scared, stranded atop that patch of red dirt like an orphaned child." That is not a sentence from a baseball book, that is a sentence from a book about life. It happens to take place in baseball. You'll meet the man who wrote it, next.
OLBERMANN: It would be stretching credulity to compliment a baseball pitcher who had authored his second book by reminding him that his efforts have produced "books about baseball" the way - in Moby-Dick - Herman Melville had produced a "book about whaling," but you get the point.
In our number-one story on the "Countdown" - Dirk Hayhurst, of the 2008 San Diego Padres and 2009 Toronto Blue Jays, hit the New York Times bestsellers' list two years ago with a remarkable document of his life as a minor league player titled "The Bullpen Gospels" - and now he gives the big leagues the same treatment with a new sequel called "Out Of My League."
In the first book, which began with Hayhurst pitching in the Class-A California League, he suddenly realizes that all but about six of the league's 250 players are not going to make it to the major leagues. The other 244 are basically there as extras, against whom the future stars can practice. And he's the only one of those 244 who's figured it out.
In the new book "Out Of My League," he makes it to the big leagues - almost miraculously - and discovers just as many truths that, apparently, only he will own up to.
Joining me now from Columbus, Ohio, here is my friend, the author of "Out Of My League: A Rookie's Survival In The Bigs," Dirk Hayhurst. How are you, Digs?
DIRK HAYHURST: I'm great, Keith. Good to see you.
OLBERMANN: Good to see you, too. Was the first book, and is the second book - it is about baseball or is it about, as I've been suggesting, what happens when you find out that what has been sold to you as a dream career, what you've sold yourself on being a dream career, can wind up being just a job and sometimes not a very good job?
HAYHURST: Oh, you are absolutely right. The funny thing about pro baseball is, is it's a dream you have when you are a kid, but you don't realize that dream until you are an adult. And so much changes between childhood and adulthood. When you arrive in adulthood, you have responsibilities, obligations, bills. When you look at baseball as a way to pay for, provide for, the responsibilities of adulthood, it is no longer a dream. It is, in a sense, a job, right?
OLBERMANN: Yeah. Much of what you write in describing that, which I think elevates this beyond what - whoever else has noticed some of the things you have, is that extreme sense of almost astonishment that being a ballplayer, especially a big leaguer, does not endow you with superhuman powers.
To use one of the examples you use in your first book - you can't heal sick kids. And that's a huge part of this realization. Are - do players generally believe that they are endowed with superhuman qualities the moment they make the big leagues?
HAYHURST: Well, I think everybody kind of looks at the job as this incredible, powerful station in life that give you superhuman powers, but "superhuman" implies that you are no longer subject to the challenges and struggles of real life, which could be anything as horrific as cancer, or alcohol addiction, drug abuse. In fact, I know many guys who are big leaguers now and they are facing those things, or being in the big leagues has exacerbated those issues.
So, to say that any occupation - be it big leagues or something else - somehow gives you powers to escape the hardships of reality is absolutely false.
OLBERMANN: The viewer who does not have your major league and minor league statistics painted on one wall of their home, let me just review, briefly. You spent six years in the San Diego minor league system, then you came up with them. Then a year in the bullpen in Toronto. Then you hurt your arm. Then last year you were in spring training with Tampa Bay and spent nearly the entire year with their team in AAA. What happens this year? Are you a pitcher or are you a writer who might pitch, where are you?
HAYHURST: Well, I wish I could always choose what I got to be.
HAYHURST: I think if you look at my career up to this point, you might be entitled to say, because of the success I have had in writing as compared to the baseball side, that I'm more of a writer, but going forward - I would like to be called a pitcher as long as people are willing to call me that. But I think, in my heart, I know the truth. And that is that I'm a writer.
I have this eye to observe, and I think you can make a bigger impact in the world around you through writing than by throwing a little, white ball. Although I would like to throw a little, white ball as long as I can.
OLBERMANN: There is an irony to your success as a writer, whether it's writer,/pitcher, pitcher/writer. The first book, "The Bullpen Gospels" - which I will maintain is the second-best book I ever read involving baseball, and this one is not far behind it, incidentally - but the first book was basically intended as a "Goodbye, cruel career" note, was it not?
HAYHURST: It was. It was. And I could see why you would say there's irony there. I mean, I wrote this book that was about how terrible I was, and then I end up making it to the big leagues as soon as the book comes out. But honestly, writing kind of took this pressure off of me as a pitcher.
I think as a ballplayer, especially a pitcher, you have a tendency to kind of get your identity wrapped up in the sport. And when you go out there as a pitcher and you fail, if your identity is wrapped in that, then you look at yourself as a failure. And it's hard to keep coming back from that.
And what writing did is - it allowed me to pull those things apart and realize pitching is just something I do. It's not who I am, it's not the end of the world. So, I think by taking the pressure off, I was able to succeed.
OLBERMANN: And now you can apply that same knowledge to writing. Dirk Hayhurst, who - as his former spring-training teammate Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays wrote in the blurb for the book - "As a genuine gift, I find his writing both entertaining and thought-provoking, unlike his fast ball." Good friend of yours.
The new one is "Out Of My League." You can read a chapter on our website: Current.com/Countdown. Do not miss it.
Give Bonnie my best, Dirk. Thank you for coming on.
HAYHURST: Will do. Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That's "Countdown" for this, the 379th day since John Boehner and the Republicans took the house. Thus, 379 days in which the Republicans have failed to pass a jobs bill of any kind.
I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.