'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, February 13th, 2012
#ShowPlug 1: POTUS' budget & the war starting against it w/ @SamSteinHP. @jdub321 Joe Williams on Romney's cooked CPAC win #s
#ShowPlug 2: Breitbart's Rage Stage, Propaganda Film validate Occupy. RW tries to position the "new ACORN" w/ @Markos
#ShowPlug 3: Washington State starts Marriage Equality, while Santorum is in State. Christie to veto NJ bill. @FakeDanSavage joins me
#ShowPlug 4: 8 arrests in Murdoch Bribery case, hints prosecution & civil suits coming to US soon, w/ @JohnWDean
#ShowPlugLast: And TX Congressman gets a great stock tip - at his committee hearing. Plows up to $75k in firm about to get $101M Gvnmt deal
#5 'Election Year Budget', Sam Stein
#5 'Rick's The One', Joe Williams
#4 'Occupy The Right', Markos Moulitsas
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Same Sex Marriage Momentum', Dan Savage
#2 Worst Persons: Ann Coulter, Rep. Lamar Smith, Rep. Steve King
#1 'Murdoch-Gate', John Dean
printable PDF transcript
On the show: John Dean, Markos Moulitsas, Dan Savage, Joe Williams, Sam Stein
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The budget. What the President wants to get out there before the House calls him "destroyer of worlds" and demands he sell his children to reduce the deficit.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: The main idea in the budget is this - at a time when our economy is growing and creating jobs at a faster clip, we've got to do everything in our power to keep this recovery on track.
OLBERMANN: Something is rotten in the state of CPAC. Romney accused of fixing the conservatives' straw poll. Politico confirms he was found to be working the conservatives' straw poll. What's the difference?
Look who's back. That woman is an idiot.
(Excerpt from video clip) SARAH PALIN: I know! And I'm the idiot.
OLBERMANN: Oh! Somebody missed me.
The West Coast distributor of irrational rage goes after Occupy.
(Excerpt from video clip) ANDREW BREITBART: Stop raping the people. You freaks. You filthy freaks. You filthy, filthy, filthy, raping, murdering freaks!
OLBERMANN: New Jersey's legislature approves same-sex marriage. The governor will veto it. Wants a veto.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRIS CHRISTIE: Let's let the people of New Jersey decide what is right for the state.
OLBERMANN: It's like letting the people of New Jersey vote on whether or not to let fat guys get married. Dan Savage joins me.
How many Iowa Congressmen does it take to screw in a light bulb? We're not sure, but this one compares energy-efficient bulb use to the East German secret police.
And, eight arrested in the U.K. American law enforcement reportedly looking into charging his people for bribing foreign officials. Attorneys here reportedly, finally, about to sue him.
Rupert Murdoch, last July 19th:
(Excerpt from video clip) RUPERT MURDOCH: This is the most humble day of my life.
OLBERMANN: No, evidently the most humble day of your life is yet to come.
All that and more, now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: I have made my share of mistakes.
OLBERMANN: Good evening, this is Monday, February 13th, 268 days until the 2012 presidential election.
The president unveils his budget for fiscal year 2013 to a storm of boos from the GOP, while - to uses his adviser David Axelrod's memorable phrase tonight - there is a new monkey butt beaming down at us from the Republican presidential tree.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - the president, presenting a budget that he calls a "blueprint for an economy that is built to last," overshadowed tonight by breaking news. The New York Times reporting that the House GOP has caved in on extending the payroll-tax cut and will do so through the end of the year, most likely.
The Times quoting a statement from Speaker Boehner, Majority leader Cantor and Whip McCarthy, "Today House Republicans will introduce a back-up plan that would simply extend the payroll-tax holiday for the remainder of the year while the conference negations continue regarding offsets, unemployment insurance and the 'doc fix.'"
The Times also quotes Democratic leaders as objecting to separating out the payroll-tax cut, despite the obvious victory the GOP is handing them, because of the risk that doing so poses the extension of unemployment benefits, as well as the Medicare legislation.
As to the budget, the president taking the stage at Northern Virginia Community College and laying out the essence of his proposal:
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: The main idea in the budget is this - at a time when our economy is growing and creating jobs at a faster clip, we've got to do everything in our power to keep this recovery on track.
OLBERMANN: The president planning to do this with a $3.8 trillion budget, to include $350 billion in stimulus spending along with $476 billion worth of infrastructure and transportation projects. The president still looking to reduce the deficit by four trillion over ten years, stating with $1.5 trillion in new taxes, $800 billion in war savings, $278 billion in mandatory spending cut and $360 billion cuts to Medicare and the other entitlement programs.
Those tax increases to come, in part, from households earning over a quarter of a million a year, by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire; by taxing dividends as ordinary income - Mitt Romney - and by applying the "Buffett Rule," the notion that wealthy employers should and would be charged the same tax rate as their own secretaries.
The president, emphasizing that he was seeking both balance and fairness:
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: We can restore an economy where everybody gets a fair shot, everybody does their fair share, everybody plays by the same set of rules from Washington to Wall Street to Main Street. That's the America we believe in.
OLBERMANN: Well, maybe not the congressional GOP.
Senate Leader McConnell, putting no faith in the president's claims for his numbers or his goals:
(Excerpt from video clip) MITCH McCONNELL: The president's goal isn't to solve our problems but to ignore them for another year, which will only ensure that they get even worse.
OLBERMANN: House Leader Boehner and Cantor joining that chorus.
Cantor saying the new budget "ratchets up spending while ignoring the biggest drivers of our debt and calls for massive tax increases on hard-working families and small businesses."
Remember, "small business" is defined by how many owners they have.
Boehner, with an eye toward the entitlement cuts, foreseeing, "a tidal wave of debt, cresting over important programs like Medicare, and the President continues to look the other way."
Back to the campaign trail, where Governor Romney, on Saturday, was looking forward to winning the Maine Republican caucus.
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: I want to be your nominee. I want to beat President Obama. I believe I can. I believe I'm the one person in this race who actually can beat the president.
OLBERMANN: Maine caucus goers seeming to agree, all 5,024 of them. Well, 2,190, of them, that's the hard number in Romney's 39 percent of the total. Twenty-one hundred and ninety people, followed by Ron Paul with 36 percent, Santorum at 18, Gingrich with six.
Romney also winning the Conservative Political action conference Straw poll on Saturday, pulling in 38 percent of yahoos present, followed by Santorum with 31, Gingrich 15, Paul at 12. But Romney's unlikely win there also brings him allegations that he cooked the CPAC voting by paying his activists to take part.
Rick Santorum chose to be gracious. Sort of.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SANTORUM: We didn't do that, we don't do that. I don't try to rig straw polls. You have to talk to the Romney campaign and how many tickets - we've heard all sorts of things.
OLBERMANN: Hearing this, also, from Sarah Palin's CPAC speech:
(Excerpt from video clip) PALIN: and I'm the idiot!
OLBERMANN: Wonder what that is a callback to? Hmm? That woman is irrelevant.
Santorum, meanwhile, also looking right to Michigan GOP primary voters, leading Mitt Romney there, 39-24 percent with Paul and Gingrich both trailing badly behind. Both Michigan and Arizona to hold their Republican primaries on the last day of the month - forgive me, the 28th, there is a leap year this year - with Santorum heading into those campaigns leading the field, more or less, in three national polls as well. Santorum on top of Romney, 38-23, you should excuse the expression.
In the Public Policy poll of Republican primary voters, in front of Romney by two percent, well within the margin of error in the latest Gallup poll and pulling the same lead in the most recent Pew Research poll.
The GOP in a moment.
The president's budget and developments on the Hill about the payroll-tax cut extension and Sam Stein, the White House correspondent political editor of the Huffington Post. Sam, good evening.
SAM STEIN: Hey, Keith, thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Our pleasure. What is going on with the payroll-tax extension? Is this as simple as it reads? That the GOP is giving up, but the Dems are refusing to let them?
STEIN: Yeah, it is actually. You know, obviously, we have to go back two months to when this issue was first considered and the Republican party really botched it and they don't want to go down that road again.
Now, it's interesting that any spending - sorry - they have to offset any spending increase, but if you want to pursue a continuation of a tax cut you don't have to offset this. This is actually written into the GOP rules. And, in this case, they're exercising that rule and they said, "Well, instead of having to go about trying to negotiate how to offset the cost of extending this payroll-tax cut, let's just extend it without offsetting it."
And so, what we have now are them inviting the Democrats to join them in continuing this policy.
OLBERMANN: And the Dems don't want to do it because, as I suggested before, this jeopardizes the other things they've - they've - they've sort of packaged in this trifecta?
STEIN: Well, my guess is that over time the Democrats will do it. They do think that they have a winning hand. Obviously, what happened in late December was advantageous for them. They tried to attach a millionaire surtax as a offset for the payroll-tax extension. They were trying to pursue the same thing this go-around. It sets up a nice contrast. But, you know, it's very tough to let this thing expire when it's right there for you to extend it without offsetting it.
OLBERMANN: All right, back to what we were going to originally talk about - the budget. What, practically, does this budget mean, if the Republicans come out and describe it as nothing more than an Election-Day document, and obviously, the president has postured as something that isn't going to get passed the way he want its. And, clearly, the Republican response is also an Election Day stance, if nothing else. What is this, if not just another slap fights?
STEIN: Well, I was going to say - that's an Election Day response to an Election Day document.
I think, obviously, politics is at play on both sides. But it sets up the contrast that we've been hearing for three months now, maybe four, which started with the American Jobs Act, crested with the Kansas speech, as well. Which is, that this administration has gradually moved away from the notion that they need to pursue austerity light.
Now, that's a rhetorical thing, because tucked into the document, as you noted upfront, are all these cuts and spending decreases.
However, this administration likes the idea that they're going to actually spend money to invest in jobs, infrastructure, re-hiring teachers, maybe some aid for nurses and local jobs. And, they're willing to let the Republicans accuse them of electioneering in the process, because why wouldn't you want to be for nursing this economic recovery at a time when it's just getting better?
But, yes, it's obviously politics. I'm curious to see how the Republican party responds as the president goes about and campaigns on this thing.
OLBERMANN: But, speaking of nursing, I mean, if it's $350 billion, or whatever the figure is - $350 million, or $350 in cuts to Medicare - I thought the concept of the deficit-reduction stage show had jumped the shark. Why is the administration still on it?
STEIN: It's really curious, especially because you get the sense that they're going to have to negotiate this stuff in the future, so why give away the $350 billion up front? Sorry, $350 million. And I'm not entirely sure.
Obviously, Medicare is driving intense costs in this country. It's the one thing that's driving the deficit more than anything else. This administration has tried to keep the cuts strictly to the provider side, not to the beneficiary side, and they're hoping that, you know, they get some credit for trying to at least tackle an entitlement issue.
But, of course, all it does in the interim is piss off a lot of people in your own party who think that you shouldn't give away that chip when you're going to have to negotiate it down the road.
OLBERMANN: So, ultimately, with all this, Sam - is this jujitsu?
OLBERMANN: You take the tax increase on the rich that the president wants. If the president insists on something, the GOP, presumably, overreacts and the president then, you know, commandeers their force and their energy and - what happens then?
STEIN: Well, in this case with taxes, it's - it would be shocking to me and to a lot of other people to see the GOP ever bend on it - it's been remarkable that they haven't so far. The one thing that has any promise whatsoever, in terms of tax policy or form, is to eliminate some of these subsidies that you get, for instance, the oil-and-gas company, corporate jet owners and the like.
But, with respect to raising the rate on dividends, with respect to raising the rate on - letting the Bush tax-cut rates for the wealthy go up again. I just don't see how that happens until they are actually set to expire at the end of December of 2012. Yet again, the only thing we have to go on is that the president had this opportunity at the end of 2010, and he punted on it.
OLBERMANN: Sam Stein, White House correspondent and political editor, Huffington Post. As always, Sam, thanks for some of your time tonight.
STEIN: Thanks, Keith, take care.
OLBERMANN: You too.
Now, as promised, Republican presidential race, and I'm joined by Joe Williams, White House reporter with Politico. Hello, Joe.
JOE WILLIAMS: Hi, good to see you.
OLBERMANN: Good to see you. Mr. Santorum implied, certainly hinted at, the idea that Romney had fixed the CPAC straw poll. Politico is reporting, in a much more polite term for that, that he worked it. What does "worked it" mean?
WILLIAMS: "Worked it" means massaging and trying to get your supporters into the hall so that when the straw poll is taken you're in good shape. And, specifically, what happened - and what led to Mitt Romney doing this - is CPAC.
CPAC, remember a couple of months ago, wasn't even supposed to be relevant to the Romney campaign. But, what happened was Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota. Basically that trifecta, the Santorum sweep, led Mitt Romney to be in desperate need of a win, to get off the schneid and get back some of the momentum that he had had earlier and lost during that fateful night.
OLBERMANN: The impression left by that, no matter how he achieved it, is that Romney is somehow suddenly satisfactory to the conservatives who have been tearing him down for six months. I can't imagine that's the case and, certainly, the Santorum polling in which he's ahead - obviously within the margin of error in two of the three polls, but he's ahead of Romney in all three - surely, those Santorum polls say that Romney is still not conservatively acceptable.
WILLIAMS: Well, and that's the problem. That's the rub that Mitt Romney has been working on, and working on and working on, and it still hasn't been able to come up with an answer for. Basically, CPAC - he spent the bulk of his 25-minute speech trying to convince people that, "Hey, really, I am a conservative, no kidding, no fooling, I believe in all this stuff, I believe in this, I believe in that."
But the problem is, at least compared to Santorum, is that inauthenticity that Mitt Romney can't shake off. He's still widely seen at the red governor of a blue state, changed his positions in all sorts of ways. Been running for president for eight years now - or for four years, certainly, since 2005, or 2004 - and can't get over that hump. They still see him as artificial.
CPAC was supposed to erase that. He eked out a win, it wasn't decisive, which set almost as much as the 15-point lead Santorum has nationally, and certainly in Michigan.
OLBERMANN: What is Michigan say, speaking of what things say here. The polls are showing that the voters there do not consider him anything other than the former governor of Massachusetts. Not a native son, whose dad was governor of Michigan. What does Romney have to do, either to change that perception, or simply to do better than it looks like he's going to do in that primary?
WILLIAMS: Well, basically, what he has to do - and that hum that you're hearing is the Mitt Romney Death Star kind of gearing up to focus its laser beams on Rick Santorum, much like they destroyed Newt Gingrich in Florida. Certainly that's where they're going play it. But what I find kind of interesting is, they'll try to drown out his message with their amps that go up to 11. They're going to try to drown out his sort of common touch and the appeal that he has to working-class Republicans.
But what I find interesting is, in a state like Michigan where the economy is such an issue, you've got a candidate who is leading - Rick Santorum - who is basically basing his candidacy now - pivoting on social issues. He's talking about abortion. He's talking about the fact that the family has been destroyed by what he calls "radical feminism," and it's really quite interesting because Michigan is hurting. Romney has an economic message. He's based his campaign on the fact that he's a "can-do, fix it" kind of CEO, and he's they're falling in the polls to a guy who is still talking about issues that many people say should have been decided, or were decided, in the 70s.
OLBERMANN: Plus, the Romney Death Star. There is no evidence yet that Romney Death Star actually shoots its rays outwards ran than simply blowing up part of the Death Star. When did they get the Death Star beams to leave the Death Star and hit somebody else?
WILLIAMS: Well, it's that little tiny portal that the ships - sorry with the "Star Wars" thing. But, I think it will happen soon. Certainly, we've got a lull between now and the latest - the next debate. Between now and then, Romney's going to get his campaign together, he's sort of retooling, trying to figure out his message. What he's going to bring to Michigan. But, I think, certainly in the next couple of week you're going to start seeing it.
You heard a little bit of it at CPAC when he was trying to hype up his economic message and talk about some of these issues that don't really matter. You're going to hear more of that in the weeks from Romney's surrogates and the ads will start coming fast and furious the closer the primary gets.
OLBERMANN: Point it outwards. Joe Williams, White House reporter with Politico, unmasked "Star Wars" geek. Many thanks, Joe.
WILLIAMS: May the force be with you.
OLBERMANN: Let's see. I know, it's the other one.
"At every crossroads on the path that leads to the future," wrote Maurice Maeterlinck, "tradition has placed 10,000 men to guard the past." Fortunately, in the case of the Occupy movement, one of those people is the far-right's biggest slug, Andrew Breitbart. His hilarious Occupy meltdown, next.
OLBERMANN: If the Occupy movement needed any validation, it just got it. The uncontrollably angry derelict of the far right has made a scene and made an anti-Occupy movie.
If same-sex marriage needed any validation, it is about to get it. Both parts of New Jersey's state legislature will approve it. He vows to veto it. Dan Savage joins us.
Ann Coulter back in "Worsts" for an unfortunate comparison between somebody else and the president of the United States.
And, as eight are arrested in the Rupert Murdoch bribery scandal, the first prospect of private legal action, and public investigation of Newscorp, here. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: It has been 149 days since protesters first marched on, and then occupied, Zuccotti Park in New York.
In our fourth story - as the Occupy Movement prepares for a Spring Awakening, the right wing tries to position Occupy as an ACORN-like boogeyman for the fall elections. Using Andrew Breitbart to verbally attack a group of protesters outside CPAC, as well as in a new film.
As mentioned before, the yearly Conservative Political Action Conference has adjourned. Besides the people Mitt Romney paid to attend, Occupy also made its presence felt, holding protests outside throughout the conference and occasionally making it inside to mic-check several speakers. This First Amendment expression drew the staged anger of one mountebank in particular.
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: Behave yourself, behave yourself, behave yourself, behave yourself, behave yourself! You are freaks and animals! You're freaks and animals! Stop raping people, stop raping people, stop raping, stop raping people, stop raping the people! You freaks, you filthy freaks, you filthy, filthy, filthy, raping, murdering freaks!
OLBERMANN: Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty apes! Someone needs to Auto-Tune Charlton Heston Junior, there. His attacks almost perfectly mirror the newest motion picture by Citizens United, the same group whose "Hillary: The Movie" became the court case that opened the door for unlimited corporate donations. Coincidence, no doubt.
The latest hit piece is called, "Occupy Unmasked." Using sound bites taken out of context as well as negative news reports, a director Stephen Bannon attempts to paint the Occupy Movement as a left-wing conspiracy run amuck. A place where drugs, anarchy and - as Breitbart claims - rape reign supreme.
Or, in conservative-speak:
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: We are finally telling you the true story of the radicals behind the Occupy movement.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, hold me back, hold me back.
Let's bring in the founder and publisher of Daily Kos, of course, "Countdown" contributor Markos Moulitsas. Markos, good evening.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Uh, he's nuts. I mean, isn't he? Either he's nuts or - what is the other explanation for simply repeating the same word 34 times on camera?
MOULITSAS: Drugs, alcohol.
OLBERMANN: Oh, okay. All right - leaving you to that speculation. What - what was that all about? Is that simply promotion for this film?
MOULITSAS: It could be, but I really, honestly think that Occupy has gotten under their skin in a way that we haven't seen in a long time. I mean, this is the first time that I can remember where conservatives aren't setting the terms of the debate. They're actually being forced to respond. And, when you have the presidential candidates - The Republican presidential candidates - having to debate on the terms of Occupy, talking about income inequality, and talking about Bain Capital, and Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Islands and vulture capitalism, that's not a good place for Republicans and it's clear to see.
I mean, look at it in the numbers. They're not doing very well, they're on unsure footing and this is why, I think, that they're so desperately grasping onto this birth control issue, even though that is not exactly a very good one for them either.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, that has all sorts of bad lanes to travel them.
Back to Occupy, I mentioned before that if Occupy needed any validation, that was it over the weekend at CPAC, is that correct?
MOULITSAS: Yeah, I mean, that's sort of a culmination, I think the validation came when you have people like Rick Perry talking about vulture capitalism in Mitt Romney and Mitt Romney being forced to defend his capitalistic record. I mean, Republicans don't expect to have to defend, not in their primary anyway. So, I think the validation has been there already.
This movement has gone far beyond the actual protests themselves. The message itself has taken on its own meaning. It's sort of, kind of, almost broken free from the Occupy protest. They can be as filthy and rape people - if you want to make stuff up - but the fact is, nobody really cares about it because that message isn't about the messengers, it's not about who's delivering the message, but the message itself, which really resonates at very core, emotional level with people who are suffering in this economy.
OLBERMANN: So, this then - I analogized before that right had made ACORN into, or memorably, the New Black Panthers, which consist of a guy named Stan and a guy named Dale. I mean, are they effectively trying to scare people, or are the reinforcing people who want to be scared, or have the taken the wrong vessel here? Because - unlike ACORN or unlike, particularly, the New Black Panthers - Occupy actually exists and, as you suggest, has a message that already got out.
MOULITSAS: Yeah, all of the above. I mean, really, Republicans need to scare people. They need to scare people. I mean, I don't want to go back to birth control, because we're talking about Occupy, but they're talking about "war on religion" as opposed to "We hate sex," right?
They need to scare people, but they themselves love to be scared. I mean, this is why they have to create their boogie men like Saddam Hussein and so on and so forth, right? They always need to have an enemy. And so, this is the best thing for all worlds. Here is something that they can feel scared about, something that has real-world implications that's actually hurting them, so they have even better reason to be scared of them.
And now, they hope to sort of deliver that message to the broader American public because they need to discredit the Occupy message. And the message itself cannot be discredited. Republicans are on the defensive because of that message. So maybe they think, "If we discredit some of the people delivering it, those the dirty hippies," maybe people will start ignoring the fact that they're underpaid, have to work too many hours, the economy is going in the wrong direction and that Republicans are doing nothing about it. That's the hope obviously - I think this movie is going to be as effective as the Hillary Clinton one was.
OLBERMANN: And, lastly, back to the subject of dirty hippies - is it notable that nobody's ever bothered to make a film exposing the guy who looks like an escaped roadie of some sort, Andrew Breitbart? Has ever carried his weight in this battle?
MOULITSAS: Do you need to make a film when you have video clips like the one you just ran?
OLBERMANN: You're right, that's the whole film, right there.
MOULITSAS: That says everything right there.
OLBERMANN: Everything is padding to 90 minutes. We'll get some Citizens United money behind it and we'll get it out there.
"Countdown" contributor Markos Moulitsas. As always, Markos, thank you for your time, sir.
MOULITSAS: A pleasure, any time.
OLBERMANN: And, if you think that's nuts, there's a right-wing congressman who compares the use of energy-efficient light bulbs to the actions of the East German network of secret police and civilian snitches. Seriously. Ahead.
OLBERMANN: Only one roadblock to same-sex marriage in New Jersey - it's the governor. Coming up.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date in 2000, one of the strangest coincidences of history concluded when cartoonist Charles Schulz died, literally one day after the publication of the last of the Peanuts comic strips he had drawn six weeks earlier.
Two days before that, the House of Representatives had voted to award Mr. Schulz the Congressional Medal of Honor. There was one vote against that, by Congressman Ron Paul, who had also voted against giving the same award to Rosa Parks.
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Texas Ranger Derek Holland tries his hand at weatherman.
We begin, as we always do, with Major League ballplayers doing the local weather. News-8 Dallas meteorologist Pete Delkus begins his weather report, then Texas Rangers lefthander Derek Holland makes an unexpected walk-on appearance.
(Excerpt from video clip) DEREK HOLLAND: Here we go, we got clear skies. Change that, we don't want that. Oh, it's a little bit cold over here. We got to put our hoods up. Little cold out. Hold on, it keeps going away. It's this way, in El Paso. I'm struggling here, we're going to go back. Rain. Hey, we got some rain coming in over here. Wichita Falls, how you doing? Raining up there, going to get like six feet of rain, gosh! It's going to be wet, get your rain boots on.
OLBERMANN: Ah, Tex Antoine did not do it better. That was an impression of Will Ferrell doing an impression of Harry Caray, for those of you scoring at home, or even if you're alone.
VIDEO: Junior-high ball player in Ohio makes an astounding full-court basketball shot.
In sports, we travel to Toledo, Ohio, where - holy Toledo! - Otsego Junior High is down one point with a few seconds to go. The opposing Fostoria team misses the free throw, Otsego gets the rebound, the pass to Logan Hillesheim, from way downtown. Bang!
Hillesheim later returned to the gym to try to recreate the game-winning shot, but you know what they say about a once-in-a-lifetime thing, that's why they call it a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
This just in, the New York Knicks have cut Jeremy Lin and signed Logan Hillesheim. Way downtown.
VIDEO: Grandparents sing the blues for their grandson's 18th birthday.
Finally, we end - as we always do - with grandparents singing the blues for their 18-year-old grandson's birthday. You think your parents have embarrassed you? At least they didn't post it on YouTube.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: You got the 18-year-old birthday blues/Now you're a man/You got to choose/It's your birthday, Josh/It will be in the news/What pizza toppings would you choose?
OLBERMANN: Got to admit, Grandma - Grandpa, rather - actually has a pretty decent voice, but I'm not exactly sure what Grandma is doing in the background there. They may have medicine for that now.
"Time Marches On!"
Dan Savage on one man's ability to stop marriage equality in New Jersey, even though both houses of the state legislature there are to approve it, next.
OLBERMANN: No matter what time you're watching this, "Countdown" is live each night at 8:00 Eastern with the primary replay at 8:00 Pacific. The longest continuously-running 8:00 p.m. news hour on cable, unless you consider Fox - news.
Washington states makes seven on same-sex marriage. But, in New Jersey, a stiff hurdle still lies in the way of legalization. Our third story on the "Countdown" - the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his vow to veto marriage equality - the Marriage Equality Bill - did not stop that state's Senate from passing that bill by a vote of 24-16 today, sending it to the state Assembly for a vote on Thursday. It will pass there too.
And it was a historic day in Olympia, Washington where Governor Chris Gregoire signed legislation making that state the 7th to legalize same-sex matrimony.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRIS GREGOIRE: I'm proud that our same-sex couples will no longer be treated as separate but equal, they will be equal in the great state of Washington.
OLBERMANN: After years of ambivalence, Gregoire announced her own support of gay marriage just last month. And in a recent interview, the governor was asked whether she would reach out to fellow Governor Christie to make an appeal on behalf of same-sex marriage.
(Excerpt from video clip) GREGOIRE: I would feel very comfortable sharing with him my personal journey and then sharing with him the overwhelming response that I've received and how good I feel about myself today.
OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, in Washington state today, social-conservative hero and/or civil right villain, GOP candidate Rick Santorum shared his personal journey with gay-marriage opponents and Republican lawmakers. Voters nationwide have rejected same sex marriage in all 31 referenda on the issue.
New Jersey Democrats say that same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue and as such should not be put to a popular vote. But the Garden State's head honcho is pushing for a public vote in the fall.
Christie talked civil rights and referendums at a town hall last month:
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRIS CHRISTIE: I think people would have been happy to have a referendum, you know, on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the south.
OLBERMANN: Okay, we can go into that for about six hours.
Dan Savage writes the syndicated column "Savage Love," he's the co-founder of the It Gets Better project, his book "It's Gets Better" now out in paperback and the TV special "It Gets Better" airs on MTV and Logo, next Tuesday, February 21st. Good to see you, Dan.
DAN SAVAGE: Good to see you too, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I suggested this at the start of the news hour - that if you're going to put same-sex marriage to a public referendum, you might as well also have a same-sex - a public referendum on whether or not it's okay - speaking as an overweight person, whether or not it's okay for overweight men, like me and Chris Christie, to get married - not to each other, but to women in the state of New Jersey. It's just as ludicrous, isn't it?
SAVAGE: It is just as ludicrous. We don't put civil rights up to a vote, in part, because people are often wrong.
When Christie suggested we should put - it would have been easier on the African-American community in the south during the civil rights movement to just have the rights go up to a vote, it would have lost. Desegregating the schools would have lost. Legalizing interracial marriage would have lost. Ending Jim Crow, all of that would have lost at the ballot box.
OLBERMANN: Slavery would have lost.
SAVAGE: And, you know, they always talk about how 31 times it's been up for a vote and 31 times it's lost. And they tromp that out like, "Okay, case closed, the American people have spoken." Well, the American people, sometimes, on civil rights issues are wrong.
If we put giving women the vote up to the vote at the time women were granted the vote, given the franchise, it would have lost. The American people were for interring the Japanese.
OLBERMANN: Franklin Roosevelt was for interring the Japanese.
SAVAGE: The American people are sometimes so consistently wrong when it comes to civil rights issues that, when everyone's in agreement about one thing, we should take a closer look at it. And this is that thing.
And you know, we did have a vote in Washington State on everything but marriage. We have a domestic partnership bill there, three ifferent bills that were past. It was called the "Everything but Marriage" clump of bills. And Gregoire signed them into law and the bigots did a referendum, forced it onto the ballot, and we won at the ballot box for everything but marriage. Marriage in everything but name.
We have a victory in Washington State on domestic partnership, but they called the proxy vote on marriage and now we're going - we're probably going to go back to the ballot box. We don't have marriage in Washington state as of today.
OLBERMANN: Is the presence of Rick Santorum in Tacoma and Olympia today totally a coincidence? Is it deliberate? Is it reward for your hard works on Google? How - did lightening strike? What happened?
SAVAGE: I'm trying to figure out which one of us has the restraining order that requires the other one to be at the other end of the country, because Rick Santorum came to Washington today as I was getting on an airplane going out here.
He smells blood. We have a thing coming up March 3rd, we have a Republican caucus or primary - I can't remember which one it is in Washington State.
And, you know - our Republican Party, activist base, rabidly anti-gay - and he may stump on this issue and win, as a result, in Washington State.
We're actually - my paper in encouraging Democrats in Seattle to go and vote for Santorum.
OLBERMANN: Okay, why?
SAVAGE: They think he'll - I don't know. I think it's playing with fire. In 2000 - in 2000 I thought, "I'm going to vote for George W. because he'll lose against Gore."
OLBERMANN: Right, it could never be Gore.
SAVAGE: Yeah, and Gore did beat him in 2000 but I hadn't controlled for stealing the election and now I'm a little gun shy about that. Go to a - go monkey wrench somebody else's primary, 'cause I'm staying away.
OLBERMANN: We're not going to believe that Governor Christie is going to have some sort of great personal journey to get to some point where he's on the right side of history of this. He's on the wrong side of history. As usual, he's a fat jackass. And I speak as a fat person who is often called a jackass.
But what is - tell me about the Gregoire story, as in the years you know it,and what it means in terms of the political dialogue.
SAVAGE: The New York Times said that she was very courageous and brave. And I think that's overstating it. She was cautious and slow. And ultimately she was correct to take it slow.
I interviewed Christine Gregoire numerous times, at my paper, The Stranger, in Seattle and we would press her on this issue and she's get this little twinkle in her eye and she would say, "You know, we're just not there yet. Washington State isn't ready yet." And it was almost like listening to Obama say, "I'm evolving." Like, you could see that behind the politician there was a human being that was going, "I'm with you, but politically, it's not possible right now."
And she, you know, she's a smart politician. She ran the numbers and figured out that it's possible now and now she moved. All credit to her, props to her. She and Ed Murray, our state senator who led this flight, and Jamie Peterson, the state rep who led this fight, they were right to take it in pieces, to take it slow to build to here.
But it wasn't an act of political courage or bravery, it was an act of political caution and calculation.
And what's great about the Christie situation - if you told me 10 years ago, the New Jersey state senate would be voting 24-16 for marriage, the bigots - the Christies, the holdouts, people who are resisting the tide of history, they're the ones in the awkward position now. It used to be us, gay and lesbian people, gay and lesbian couples excluded from full civil equality. We were the ones who felt marginalized and awkward. Increasingly, it's the bigots who feel marginalized and awkward and good for them. Christie's in an awkward position politically, socially, when it comes to the tide of history, and I hope he feels it every minute.
OLBERMANN: And you point at these people and go, "You're admitting to that in public?" It's a total switch now. It's wonderful.
SAVAGE: It is.
OLBERMANN: Dan Savage. "It Gets Better" airs on MTV and Logo a week from tomorrow. Are you seeing the show while you're in town?
SAVAGE: No, I'm only here tonight. So, I'm not.
OLBERMANN: We have a Book of Mormon competition. Three did you say?
SAVAGE: Three times.
OLBERMANN: Good for you. You're getting there. Nine. Thank you, Dan, good to see you.
SAVAGE: You too, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The Rupert Murdoch hacking scandal re-ignites as a bribery scandal amid the first reports of possible legal action in this country against Murdoch and his mafia, coming up.
OLBERMANN: As five more of his British newspaper employees are arrested in the U.K., the first evidence that the legal pursuit of Rupert Murdoch and his people may extend to this country.
First, the "Worst," and the Texas congressman attends a hearing at which one company's drone electronic system is praised. Then the company gets a huge government contract, then he starts buying up their stock, then the company gets another government contract for $101 million. America! What a country! Next.
OLBERMANN: Murdoch-gate roars back to life, details ahead.
First - because these people may or may not be alive, but they're just as much trouble as the un-dead - here are "Countdown's" top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze? Ann Coulter, speaking to the clown college that was the Conservative Political Action Conference, in which she compared President Obama to rapper and reality TV performer Flavor Flav.
(Excerpt from video clip) ANN COULTER: Voters with forty years of politically correct education are ecstatic to have the first black president. They just love the idea of it, even if we did get Flavor Flav instead of Thomas Sowell.
OLBERMANN: Now, the difficulty with that, beyond the insult, and the haplessly dated cultural reference - Flavor Flav? - the difficulty with comparing somebody to Flavor Flav is that it inspires others to compare you to figures associated with Flavor Flav. Like Amanda "Ice" Dohner from season three of Flavor Flav's "Flavor Of Love." Makes you yearn for the picture of Wayland Flowers and Madame, doesn't it, Annie?
The silver tonight to Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas. The man who once earmarked nearly a million dollars of road improvements around his own home, he has been caught using his position in the House to try to make a business profit. Why would one do this, when one's financial disclosures become public?
Congressman Smith's includes a very sad timeline. In July 2010, Smith and the rest of the Border, Maritime and Global Counter-Terrorism subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee, conducted a hearing on sensor equipment in Predator drones being used to try to catch drug smugglers coming over the Mexican border. They were told that the sensors were made by FLIR Systems.
Not long after the hearing, FLIR Systems got a large chunk of $600 million in new funding for border-security equipment, including Predator drone sensors. Within three months, Congressman Smith began buying stock in FLIR Systems. A purchase of between $1,000 and $15, 000 in FLIR stock on October 4th. Another purchase of between $1,000 and $15,000 in FLIR stock on October 6th, same thing on October 15th and November 10th and December 10th.
And then, in January 2011, FLIR Systems got another federal contract, for $101 million. Smith's office claims the purchases were made by a blind trust. And if that dubious claim really is true, then we need to worship that blind trust and bring it sacrifices of goats and frankincense, because all those guys can tell the future.
But our winner tonight? Congressman Steve King of Iowa.
He took to the CPAC circus to announce that he has succeeded against forces so evil that they merited comparison to the Stasi, the East German secret police of the '70s and '80s - Capitol Hill operations staffers who were in charge of upgrading the light bulbs to those energy-efficient ones.
"So I got this green bag right here. And I filled it up with the black-market light bulbs. And I brought them back to my office here in the Capitol. Whenever I need to put a bulb in the lamp, I reach in this green bag and I screw it in there and smile. A little bit of my liberty back. A little bit of our freedom back. And I want to challenge you to do the same thing. Bring back some of that liberty, some of that freedom."
King went on to attribute his loss of light-bulb freedom to quote "Nancy's Stasi troops," which sounds like a great line in Congressman King's endless war against mental health. Except Mr. King seems to have not noticed that the Republicans won the House in November 2010, so that for the last thirteen months, the people who have him by the light bulbs would be John Boehner's Stasi troops.
Representative Steve "How Many Congressmen Does It Take To Screw Up A Light-Bulb Story" King of Iowa. Today's "Worst Person In The World."
OLBERMANN: Despite his humiliating appearance in front of the British parliamentary hearing, Rupert Murdoch has, thus far, escaped unscathed from the News of the World newspaper hacking scandal.
In our number-one story - he might not do so from the News of the World and The Sun hacking and bribery scandal. Eight arrested over the weekend. Legal stirrings in this country. The arrests came after an investigation into News International's bribery of public officials. Five of the eight arrested were journalists at The Sun newspaper, which Murdoch owns, the others included a police officer, a defense ministry official and a member of the British Armed Forces.
The bribery investigation had been opened in the wake of the hacking scandal that forced the closure, or at least got Murdoch to close, the News of the World as a preventive measure last summer. The new set of arrests, possibly opening the door for charges to be brought against Rupert Murdoch in this country.
Last July, Attorney General Holder launched a preliminary investigation into News Corp. The new arrests would make it possible for charges to be brought against Murdoch under American's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal for American companies to bribe public officials overseas. If guilty, a company can be fined up to $2 million per violation, culpable individuals face personal fines of up to $250,000 per violation and imprisonment for up to five years.
One potential obstacle? The five-year statute of limitations, with some of the most recent arrests coming from events that are nearly a decade old. While charges with possible jail time might be coming soon, some are already calling for penalties which could hurt Murdoch financially. Specifically, his company's lucrative 39 percent ownership of the television broadcaster BskyB. After these recent arrests, one member of Parliament calling for Murdoch's News Corp to drop its stake in the TV giant.
(Excerpt from video clip) TOM WATSON: It's quite clear to me that over many years, wrongdoing took place on a number of newspapers at News International. He's the boss of the company, he's responsible for corporate governance, and therefore, he's not a fit and proper person to run a television company under the rules as they stand.
OLBERMANN: Joining me now, columnist, author, Nixon White House counsel and, of course, "Countdown" contributor John Dean. John, good evening.
JOHN DEAN: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Explain to me, to what degree and why Murdoch would be vulnerable here on the bribery issue.
DEAN: Well, you pretty well outlined it with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which is this operative law. But, it's never been used against something like a newspaper. It's typically been used against somebody who has profited directly from the bribe and then used that as a basis for fines and prosecution. Here, if - say, these police officers were sources, I'm not sure quite how - with a newspaper - you would show the profit of any one given story in an ongoing product.
The other thing is, Keith, you've got to be aware of in this story, it appears that Murdoch and News Corp are the people who gave the names of the operatives who got arrested. They had an internal investigation, they created a very tough Management and Standards committee, filled with lawyers who knew what to do, and they are the ones who appear to have revealed to the police the emails that resulted in these arrests. Now, this might have been to prevent them going after James, to throw a few people under the bus so they don't go too far. So, a lot of this hasn't shaken out yet. We're just seeing the surface of the arrest.
OLBERMANN: The other tract brought up over the weekend, particularly in the U.K., was the idea that one of the attorneys from the horrible Milly Dowler case, in which they hacked into the dead teenage girl's voice mail and gave the wrong impression that she might still be alive, that one of those attorneys is headed to the U.S. to discuss possible legal action with attorneys here. Any idea what on earth that could be?
DEAN: Well, it could well be that he's going to try to do here what did he in the U.K. which is to use a civil lawsuit for discovery purposes and open up the activities in the United States to see what is going on. He would be just using a federal or state statute that prohibits surveillance and hacking. We have a number of those statutes.
If one of his clients - and there have been reports that based on the material that was published in publications here, that it was hacked material or illegally-obtained material - and it looks like that's the basis they're coming here, and I think it's to do what they did in the U.K., is to start a discovery process.
OLBERMANN: The other thing they did in the U.K., clearly, the solutions, thus far in Britain, have been to get him to jettison his at sets. He closed the News of the World preventively, then he backed off buying more of BskyB and now, he's being pressured to bail out. Could we see something like that here? I mean, obviously The New York Post would be the first thing he'd throw overboard to save Fox or Fox News. But, I guess the fulcrum point here might be The Wall Street Journal.
Is there any scenario in which he could be pressured into giving one of his journalistic or nearly-journalist enterprises?
DEAN: Nearly, right. The issue is, have any of these operations engaged in illegal activities?
We have no evidence of that at this point. I think it's still confined to the U.K. and I don't think he's going give up any of his American assets based on what's happened in the U.K. They're trying desperately to contain it, not let it cross over the Atlantic and come to the United States. And so far successfully, and they've got a powerful team working on it. He has hired the best lawyers you can get in this business to help him.
OLBERMANN: Well, they'll have their own things to atone for when they meet their makers.
"Countdown" contributor, John Dean. John, as always, great thanks for your time.
DEAN: Welcome back, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Thank you kindly, sir.
That's "Countdown" for this, the 404th day since John Boehner and the Republicans took the house. Thus, 404 days in which the Republicans have failed to pass a jobs bill of any kind.
Congratulations on getting through another day of this crap. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.