'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
#ShowPlug 1: @AndrewBreitbart 17 Rapes list debunked: 2 stories duplicated; 10: cops say Occupiers not suspects; other 5 misrepresented
#ShowPlug 2: Worst. Campaign. Ad. Ever. Santorum shows Romney trying to splatter him with unidentified frothy brown substance.
#ShowPlug 3: @SteveKornacki on campaign; @BrianBeutler on GOP blowback over Boehner's payroll tax cave-in
#ShowPlug 4: GOP attack on birth control escalates as Blunt pushes Senate bill amendment; Mormons posthumously baptize Simon Wiesenthal
#ShowPlug Last: New vid of @AndrewBreitbart drinking before Anti-Occupy tirade plus latest Breitbart Video Mashup (guess the guest star!)
#5 'GOP Class War', Steve Kornacki
#5 'GOP Class War', Craig Gilbert
#4 'Ignoring A Consensus', Igor Volsky
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Fight Club', Brian Beutler
#2 Worst Persons: Bryan Fischer, Thomas S. Monson, Andrew Breitbart
#1 'Not So Breitbart'
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Steve Kornacki, Igor Volsky, Craig Gilbert
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Worst. Campaign Ad. Ever.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Mitt Romney's negative attack machine is back. On full throttle.
OLBERMANN: Is there a reason you want to make people think of a frothy mix of brown stuff?
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SANTORUM: I'm Rick Santorum and I approve this message.
OLBERMANN: The froth also rises, not just in Michigan, but also now in Ohio. And Santorum sets his sights on the president.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: We don't know what his grades were, but we do know he says he's a constitutional-law professor.
OLBERMANN: Of course, the president's men are setting their sights back on Santorum.
(Excerpt from video clip) DAVID AXELROD: People don't really know Senator Santorum particularly well, and when they do, we'll get a better sense of where he stands.
OLBERMANN: Also, apparently, Gingrich is still running.
The GOP jams down the accelerator on a push to limit birth control.
(Excerpt from video clip) JAY CARNEY: The bill put forward here, the one by Senator Rubio, the one by Senator Blunt - I guess it's an amendment - we believe are both dangerous and wrong.
OLBERMANN: The GOP spends the day after the payroll-tax-cut cave insisting it wasn't a payroll-tax-cut cave.
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN BOEHNER: We were not going to allow the Democrats to continue to play political games and raise taxes on working Americans.
OLBERMANN: The Breitbart List. The 17 "Occupy rapes." Turns out two of the stories are duplicates. And in nearly every one of them, police are quoted as saying Occupy protestors had nothing to do with any assaults.
"Worsts" - more Breitbart video. Apparently, he'd had a little wine before he wigged out.
(Excerpt from video clip) ANDREW BREITBART: So what? We're allowed to drink wine in America. I'm not living by their one percent/99 percent bulls--- -
OLBERMANN: You dropped something.
And Day Two of our new series, "The Andrew Breitbart Rage Mash-Up Video!"
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: Behave yourself, behave yourself!
OLBERMANN: Who will be the mash-up special guest villain? Who?
All that and more, now on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Good evening, this is Wednesday, February, 15th, 266 days until the 2012 presidential election.
The president, rising in the polls and accepting the bowing and scraping of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker today, while Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum squared off for an old-fashioned class war in the GOP. One that - unbelievably, as you saw - features a new Santorum ad in which he is nearly spattered by some mixture of brown stuff.
Fifth story on the "Countdown" - while Santorum and Romney unleash their latest round of negative ads, we start with President Obama.
Arriving at Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport, the president shaking hands with Wisconsin's union-busting Republican governor before accepting a Milwaukee Brewers uniform from him. You know, they might need him to bat clean up with all the changes there.
Scott Walker later tweeting, "Greeted the president and gave him a Milwaukee Brewers jersey with 'Obama 1' on it." Thanks.
Walker also claiming a bout of stomach flu kept him from accompanying the president to a Master Lock factory. The president insisting there he would work toward - to reward firms, like Master Lock, which bring jobs back to the U.S. from China.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: When we've got an even playing field, I promise you, nobody is going to out-compete America. We've got the most productive workers on Earth. We've got the most creative entrepreneurs on Earth. Give a level playing field, we will not lose.
OLBERMANN: The presidential playing field that once seemed so tilted towards the GOP, apparently leveling out now in the president's favor. Half of American adults approving Mr. Obama's job performance in the latest CBS News/New York Times, and CNN/ORC International polls. Mr. Obama's best showing since Osama Bin Laden was killed last May.
The president's senior campaign strategist David Axelrod seeming pleased, though not overwhelmed, by those numbers.
(Excerpt from video clip) AXELROD: We don't get exhilarated by good numbers and we're not devastated by bad poll numbers, we just keep our - we stick to our knitting and keep going forward.
OLBERMANN: Also going forward, the latest round in the GOP ad wars. Mitt Romney's super PAC "Restore Our Future" hoping to restore the governor's now-vanished lead with a fresh attack on Santorum.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Santorum voted to raise the debt limit five times and for billions in wasteful projects including the "Bridge to Nowhere." In a single session, Santorum co-sponsored 51 bills to increase spending and zero to cut spending. Santorum even voted to raise his own pay and joined Hillary Clinton to let convicted felons vote.
OLBERMANN: The Santorum campaign fighting back with an preemptive strike against Romney's penchant for a negative campaign, one that seems to have ignored the new meaning of the word "Santorum." Google it.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: This time Romney is firing his mud at Rick Santorum. Romney and his super PAC have spent a staggering $20 million brutally attacking fellow Republicans. Why? Because Romney is trying to hide from his big-government Romneycare and his support for job-killing cap and trade.
OLBERMANN: Trying to hide from that frothy mixture. Fox News channel showed Governor Romney that ad this morning and gave him a chance to claim that he'd wiped his hands of any mudslinging, or of any "santorum."
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: My campaign hasn't run any negative ads against Rick Santorum. His campaign ran attack ads against me in South Carolina, and his PAC did so in Missouri. So, I'm not saying we won't finally go after the guy.
OLBERMANN: You already have, with evident need to do much more. The latest Quinnipiac poll showing likely primary voters in Super Tuesday state Ohio now favoring Santorum by seven percent over Romney. The governor also having trouble rallying lower-earning Republicans to his cause, although he's doing fine with the one percent.
The Wall Street Journal reporting that in eight past GOP primary or caucus states, Romney did better than Santorum in counties where the overall incomes were higher than the state average, while Santorum overwhelmed Romney in counties with incomes below the state average. And, that's right - after accusing the Obama administration of trying to wage class war - the GOP seems caught in a kind of class war of its own.
As for Santorum's chances going forward, his poll leads notwithstanding, David Axelrod seeming less than impressed.
(Excerpt from video clip) AXELROD: I don't think the average working person in this country is going to look at his policies and say, "Yeah, that's the ticket for me. That offers great hope for me." Secondly, I think that many of the positions he has taken on social issues are quite divisive, not widely shared.
OLBERMANN: Perhaps not, although they have secured Santorum a very unusual endorsement from David Mustaine, singer and guitarist with the heavy-metal band Megadeth. Telling the website MusicRadar, "When the dude went home to be with his daughter when she was sick, that was very commendable, and just watching how he hasn't gotten into doing these horrible, horrible attack ads like Mitt Romney."
Meanwhile, not to say Newt Gingrich has become utterly irrelevant, but he campaigned at the San Diego Zoo. Would you elephants and pandas like to live on the moon?
For more on the GOP's internal class warfare and Romney's struggle with Santorum, I am joined now by the news editor from Salon, Steve Kornacki. Good to see you, Steve.
STEVE KORNACKI: You, too.
OLBERMANN: I'm sorry, I have to start with the Santorum ad - is it possible that was not ignorance on their part, that they're going all sort of meta on us?
KORNACKI: I've been wondering today if there's a way - if there's a family-friendly way to poll the question of how many people in this country actually are aware of the other meaning of this word.
And one thing that I remember, actually, was - if you can think back to December when Santorum was campaigning out in Iowa - they did the Pizza Ranch, this Christian-conservative-owned pizza chain out in the Midwest. And, I think it was the owner who said he wanted to name a salad after Rick Santorum, in his honor. The Santorum salad.
And a reporter talked about going up to the owner afterwards and asking, "Are you aware of the other possible meaning?" And the owner - absolutely no idea. The reporter said, "it was one of the most awkward conversations I ever had." But I actually wonder if this is one of this almost, like, red state/blue state things, where the red states just don't know about it.
OLBERMANN: But, I'm not asking whether or not the people who will be enticed to choose one of these two candidates for president know about it. I'm wondering about whether or not Santorum's people - if Dan Savage had directed a Rick Santorum ad, this is what it would have looked like.
KORNACKI: Right. You've got to imagine whoever actually, physically put the ad together for Santorum got it.
OLBERMANN: On the advertising front - where is the Romney cash advantage being used? Is he just sitting on all of it, because it doesn't seem like there's much going up against this?
KORNACKI: Well, right now, we're seeing it in Michigan. I think you know he's committed about $700,000 through next week. There's still a week to go after that. They're playing hard in Arizona. Santorum doesn't look like he's going to contest Arizona. Now, they're also looking to Ohio and some of these southern states.
I think - what I look for are two things. One, the negativity, I think, is going to intensify. You have your sort of first salvo here from the Romney campaign. I think you're going to see a lot harsher stuff coming out. And I think just the number of spots that are in circulation is going to go up too, in the days - in the weeks ahead.
OLBERMANN: Steve, The Wall Street Journal thing is fascinating, the idea that Santorum is doing better much better than Romney with voters who are not doing well, and Romney is doing well with voters who are doing well. Does that, indeed, suggest a kind of internal GOP class warfare, for all the times the various candidates have used that term about Obama?
KORNACKI: Yeah, it's a strange type of class warfare though, because the message that I'm sort of discerning here is that Republican voters basically are okay with a top one-percent message, but they want a bottom 99-percent messenger.
Because if you look, on paper, at what Romney is proposing and you look what Santorum is saying, I would argue that Romney's platform is actually slightly less hostile to the middle class than Santorum's. And, if you can remember back when Gingrich was going after Romney on the whole - calling him "vulture capitalist" and that sort of thing, Santorum actually rallied to Romney's defense there.
So, if you're behind Rick Santorum and you're a Republican, you're signing off on a very sort of one-percent-friendly economic agenda, but there's something about being able to relate to Santorum, I think, versus not being able to relate to Romney that's really driving this. And I wonder if that bleeds over to the general election.
OLBERMANN: How does that tie in with what you wrote earlier this week, that Santorum had one decided advantage over his rivals in that he was a competent candidate?
KORNACKI: Well, I just think - I say that in comparison. Think about the conservatives who have sort of stepped forward so far and been the consensus alternative to Mitt Romney. You had Herman Cain, who could only say "9-9-9." Rick Perry couldn't string together a sentence to save his life. Newt Gingrich who, as Joan Walsh at Salon said, "His baggage has baggage."
And now you have got Rick Santorum. There's nothing dazzling about the guy, but he can complete a sentence, he knows Romney's vulnerabilities, he can parry with him in debates. Maybe that's all it takes, if the party's in the mood not to go with Romney.
OLBERMANN: And he doesn't step on a rake ever six seconds, only every 60 seconds. So I guess that, by comparison, makes him good. Briefly, on the president's new polls, they suggest what?
KORNACKI: Well, I mean, this proves the old saw about just what a good economy does to a president's approval ratings. I mean, you've seen the unemployment rate drop for five straight months, get five straight - if we get five more months of news like we just had, really this Republican nomination becomes worthless at that point.
OLBERMANN: Steve Kornacki of Salon. Always a pleasure sir, thank you for coming in.
OLBERMANN: For more on the president's chances in the battleground he visited today - Wisconsin - I'm joined by Craig Gilbert, the Washington bureau chief of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
CRAIG GILBERT: Nice to be with you.
OLBERMANN: The president shaking hands with Scott Walker on the tarmac today. Whose ads does that shot go into?
GILBERT: I don't think it goes into the president's ads.
Governor Walker, as strange as the whole thing looks, is trying to cut a less uncompromising and divisive figure as he goes into this recall battle. I mean, his political base is in the bag. He needs to perform at a certain level among independents. A lot of his advertising is about moving on, about letting the dust settle. He cut a very gauzy Christmas holiday ad that was almost jarring against a backdrop of how bitter this whole battle has been for a year now. So, he is trying to look like a - like less of a divider and more of a uniter. But, again, it's very difficult to do that in this state, at this moment.
OLBERMANN: There's a Marquette poll that suggests that Wisconsin voters are now favoring the president by eight points. There it is, 48/40 over Romney. Give the GOP's success in 2010, particularly in Wisconsin, is that a surprise now? Is that a result of the travails of Scott Walker? Where does that come from?
GILBERT: Well, you know, if you looked at Obama's numbers in that poll, they were kind of where you would expect them to be, he was about 50/50. Romney's numbers were really bad. I mean, not as bad as Newt Gingrich's, but they were pretty bad. Now, I imagine, he might have a chance to repair that a little bit if he goes on to win the nomination. We'll see. We'll have a presidential primary coming up in Wisconsin, but I think that was in many ways more of a reflection on the Republican candidates than on President Obama, who - you know, whatever he's running at nationally in terms of approval - is probably doing marginally better in a state like Wisconsin.
OLBERMANN: He won Wisconsin by 14, is there any chance of a path that would repeat that kind of magnitude?
GILBERT: It's hard to imagine. That was such a blowout victory. It was even shocking at the time. Even though we knew he was going to win the state, nobody expected him to win by that much. So many things fell in place for him. You look at what happened in 2010, when it was a Republican sweep and the whole state went the other way. So, it is structurally kind of a 50/50 state with maybe a marginal Democratic advantage. There's no way he's going to win by 14 points. He might have an advantage going into this race right now, but I think both sides expect it to be very competitive.
I think - Wisconsin is a state that's been voting blue, but it's at the top of the Republican target list because they - if they're looking to flip any blue states, I mean, it's really Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that they're going to go after, partly because of economic trends and partly because of what happened in the 2010 elections.
OLBERMANN: The governor said the recall that's underway against him is going to mobilize the Republican base. What has it done to the Democratic base?
GILBERT: Well, it's already more than mobilized the Democratic base. I mean, the Democrats went out and collected more than a million signatures for the governor's recall. I mean, that is a - just mind-boggling number when you think about the fact that that's about as many people as voted for either Governor Walker or his opponent in the 2010 elections. It's, like, a quarter of the eligible voters in Wisconsin. I don't know if there's ever been a petition drive that's collected, you know, proportionally more signatures than that anywhere.
So, they have that list, all those people are mobilized, the state has been on kind of a war footing now for a year and this is a high turnout state to begin with. So, I would expect both sides to be maximally mobilized going into the recall election and the presidential election.
OLBERMANN: We're waiting for "Fighting" Bob Lafollette to come out on which side he's going to appear in this - the ghost of him in this.
Craig Gilbert, the Washington bureau chief of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who was good enough to laugh at a very lame Governor Lafollette joke, great thanks for some of your time tonight.
GILBERT: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Barry Goldwater claimed that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. What happens when it's not in the defense of liberty, when it's just extremism? John Boehner is learning that tonight as he has to walk back a publically indefensibly stance on the payroll-tax cut.
Senate GOP leadership may learn that next as it tries to limit access to birth control.
The Mormon church is learning that after it got out that it has posthumously baptized Simon Wiesenthal.
And Andrew Breitbart will learn that in this news hour as we dismantle his list of 17 Occupy rapes, because virtually all the stories on that list include quotes from the authorities denying that Occupy participants are suspects, only victims. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: The man behind the Republicans gamble to try to turn the clock back to 1900, the bill that would let any employer deny his employee birth control because he doesn't happen to support birth control.
One Republican today knows better than any other man alive what it means to have to walk his party back from a lunatic-fringe position. The Speaker tries to survive the GOP cave in on my payroll-tax-cut extension.
The great Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, re-baptized in the Mormon faith after his death. The Church of Latter Day Saints has some explaining to do, and you won't see that in the musical.
And another Breitbart rage video mash-up with a very special guest star, and the very serious evidence that Breitbart's websites list of 17 rapes to be blamed on Occupy. Not only does it not hold up to scrutiny, it doesn't even hold up to just reading the stories on the list. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: Having already waded into the shallow steps of the pool that is the Puritan dream of limiting birth control, the Republican party is now measuring the deep end - eliminating it.
In our fourth story on the "Countdown" - the Senate will vote this month on an amendment, sponsored by Republican Senator Roy Blunt, allowing any employer or insurer to deny birth control, and any other health care service, simply because of the boss's moral objections.
The measure would roll back the president's compromise with religiously-affiliated institutions, the one that shifts the cost of contraception coverage from the employees to the insurers, which may be a bit problematic for the GOP, considering a recent New York Times/CBS News poll finds that a majority of the voters - in fact, 66 percent - support the president's plan. Those asked if religiously-affiliated employers should cover the cost, 61 percent said yes.
There is no sign the White House is retreating. Far from it, in fact.
(Excerpt from video clip) JAY CARNEY: The bill put forward here, the one by Senator Rubio, the one by Senator Blunt - I guess it's an amendment - we believe are both dangerous and wrong.
OLBERMANN: Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren told The Washington Post's Greg Sargent today, "This is an extreme attack on every one of us. It opens the door to outright discrimination. It would let insurance companies and corporations cut off pregnant women, overweight guys, older Americans or anyone because some executive claims it's part of his moral code."
Then Senator Barbara Boxer joined her Democratic colleagues yesterday to highlight the stakes here:
(Excerpt from video clip) BARBARA BOXER: No matter how important or life-saving the health care service is, if it is against your moral conviction you don't have to offer that service, period.
OLBERMANN: Let's bring in Igor Volsky, the health care and LGBT editor for ThinkProgress. Thank you for some of your time tonight, sir.
IGOR VOLSKY: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Does anybody expect this thing to pass or is the point of it that it should fail and the Republicans then get to campaign on the Democrats having defeated it?
VOLSKY: Yeah, I don't think the Republicans are expecting much. I mean, they're really clinging on this notion of war on religion and running with it. They, you know, I think they, for a while, have just gotten used to just opposing anything the president supports. So, when he made this modification, not only did they move to the right, they fell off the page with this thing.
OLBERMANN: And what do - what does the GOP see in the playing field right now that even provides some sort of rationalization with proceeding with this now?
VOLSKY: Well, the rationale for them is war on religion. That's the narrative they've been using from the very beginning. And, you know, it seems like - it's unclear if Republicans read it. It's hard to believe that they would support such an expansive - such an expansive piece of legislation after they've been running around the country telling, "The government's going to get in between you and your doctor." Here, they're literally putting the boss in the doctor's office, yet they seem okay with it.
OLBERMANN: The availability of contraception, is it such - in a matter of speaking, obviously, it's not necessarily, in some cases, the law, but I'm talking about the overall cultural acceptance of this - is it such settled law, or theoretical law, that there's a greater risk of alienating moderates, simply by bringing this topic up?
VOLSKY: Well, I think so. You know, Republicans - since health care reform became law - really got into this habit of taking every single regulation and opposing it and twisting it and whipping up opposition to the law. But, this isn't some bureaucratic change, some kind of medical-loss ratio about what insurers have to do or don't have to do. In this provision, I think they really kind of met their match.
And, the more Americans learn that this is about contraception - contraceptive coverage - I think the more they not only like this provision, as you quoted in the poll, but they kind of begin to rethink the health care law as a whole. And say, "Wait a sec, when we learn about this thing, that you can get contraception without additional co-payments, the more we like it." So, this might be, actually, a very interesting and telling time in the overall heath care debate.
OLBERMANN: So, what do the Democrats do about this? Have they framed their opposition to this legislation correctly? Or do they just stand back and wait for the Republicans to blow themselves up again?
VOLSKY: Well, you know, it's really great to see Democrats on the offensive with this. They - once the president announced this accommodation, and I think a lot of the Catholic groups accepted the provision - it really kind of created a great opening for Democrats, for Democratic women, to paint the Republicans as opposing - not only women's health care, as this law clearly does - but really just moving the goal posts altogether and saying that an employer can deny converge based on whether or not he likes gay people for HIV coverage, whether or not he believes in interracial relationships. Just on anything.
And that's not only going to scare a lot of moderates away, but also conservatives who are - pretend to be, I think, as many say - are small-government people and - once they learn what this says, I don't think they're even going to stand by it.
OLBERMANN: The extraordinary number in that New York Times poll that said that 61 percent of the religious - say that religiously-affiliated employers should cover the cost, as opposed to 66 percent supporting the president' plan on this - does that suggest that the number of people who think that something like this is an appropriate step, to give the employer complete control over what they pay for and what they don't, is five percent? Subtracting the one from the other.
VOLSKY: Yeah, It's very small. The fact of the matter is, you know, Republicans, in the beginning, made this about Catholic colleges and universities, even though a lot of Catholic colleges and universities already offer contraception. Some even offered it before there was any kind of federal mandate or state mandate. I mean, this is so accepted in American culture that you have some 98 percent of Catholics taking contraception. You don't see Catholic families of seven, eight or more any more and there's a reason for that.
OLBERMANN: Igor Volsky, heath care and LGBT editor for ThinkProgress, thanks again for some of your time tonight.
VOLSKY: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The problem with the political party proposing something is - something regressive, backwards-looking, favored by an ever-diminishing minority - excuse me, is that eventually, that party either has to walk it all back or be crushed under its weight. Now, Speaker John Boehner is trying to avoid being crushed by the weight of the publicly-unsupported Republican stance on the payroll-tax-cut extension. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: The Speaker and the unspeakable. The Republicans walk away from the payroll-tax position the public would not support while Mr. Boehner tries to convince his own party that's not what they're doing.
First, the "Sanity Break."
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Dog DJ scratches and spins the hits.
We begin with the TMO Adorable Clip of the Day.
That's right, when he's not scratching up the couch, this little guy is scratching up records. Sure, there's clearly somebody off-camera doing the actual DJing, but still, it's like a seven on the cute scale.
His owner says after he spins some records, he's rewarded with a dog treat. We understand that Grandmaster Flash is paid the same way.
VIDEO: Dog and baby cuddle up on the floor.
Or was that the TMO Adorable Clip of the Day? Aw, this one gives it a run for the money.
Some people had big plans for Valentine's Day and some couples just stayed in and took it easy. Maybe threw an arm around a loved one and cuddled.
And sure, maybe eventually it leads to some light kissing, but it's still pretty G-rated stuff.
VIDEO: Annual Valentine's Day pillow fight in San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza.
Finally, there are others who celebrate Valentine's Day in more creative ways.
This annual pillow fight takes place every February 14th at 6 p.m. prevailing local time in San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza. And as always, it's B-Y-O-P.
The pillow warriors are of all ages and came from all over and usually they rely on microfibers and other allergen-free pillow stuffers.
But for Valentine's Day, they're going down.
"Time Marches On!"
Breitbart and the facts and Breitbart in the second edition of the video mash up with the very special guest villain.
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."
The key to Republican obstructionism over the last three years has been their ability to agree on one idea and back it by just enough public support to make their obstinacy work. No dealing or compromising on anything ever.
But in our third story - as Speaker John Boehner moves closer to a deal on the payroll-tax cut, the Republican party appears to be moving closer to implosion. This morning John Boehner announced that a deal in principle had been reached to extend the payroll-tax cut.
(Excerpt from video clip) BOEHNER: I think there's an agreement in principle, but there are a lot of details that are yet to be worked out. I'm hopeful that that will be wrapped up today.
OLBERMANN: The key component to the deal came when Boehner accept the payroll-tax cut without offsetting it with any other cuts. But while Boehner celebrates the compromise, tea party members of the House are apparently not pleased. Not because a deal was reached, but because there was even talk of a compromise.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: I have grave concerns about this. I don't think it is good policy to start with. I think we missed the mark entirely.
OLBERMANN: Tea party darling Allen West also balked at the idea saying, "I just can't, I just can't. I have got to stand on principle."
Phil Gingrey of Georgia added, "What I heard I don't like," calling it a welfare payment.
Boehner's inability to control his own members is nothing new. Several reports indicating now that Senate Republicans have long grumbled about Boehner's inability to control his own conference in his own House. But now it appears he also may have lost his main supporter in the Senate. Last week, as the payroll talks began, Senate Minority Leader McConnell did his best to toe the party line, quoting, "We need to pay for it. At what point do we anticipate something - getting serious here about something - doing something about deficit and debt?"
Yesterday, as word of Boehner's deal began to leak out, McConnell seemed surprised that a deal had been reached without offsetting the cost. "I can understand why the House leadership is exasperated with the lack of progress in the conference and looking around at other alternatives." And he added, "I don't have a view on it right now."
Joining me now, amid those ominous words, is Brian Beutler, senior congressional reporter for Talking Points Memo. Brian, good evening.
BRIAN BEUTLER: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Cut through this for me. Boehner didn't do this because it's right, though it is right. What was he facing if he insisted on offsets?
BEUTLER: Well, so he said all this, basically - Democrats finally, you know, found a spine and called Republicans' bluff and said, "If we're going offset this, we're going to offset it in a way that's amenable both to Democrats and Republicans." That meant high revenue.
So, John Boehner faced a choice between holding the line and saying, "No tax increases," in which case, Democrats would say, "Fine, this thing's going lapse and it's your fault, Republicans."
He could have caved on tax increases and allowed - or okayed a deal that included higher taxes on wealthy people, in which case he would have obliterated his conservative coalition, he would have lost the speakership. Republicans who voted for it would have been entirely wiped out. That was - that was probably the worst option for him.
So, his third choice was to say, "Okay, we'll do the tax cut of this without paying for it, like we did in 2001 and 2003 with the Bush tax cuts, and then we'll offset the much-less-costly other provisions of the bill."
So, the payroll-tax cut - this isn't saying Republicans, by and large, like it the first place, and their preference would have been to pay for it, but this was Boehner's least-bad option and that's sort of why he went with it.
OLBERMANN: Could it not, though, follow that he might lose the speakership? When Mitch McConnell says, "I can understand why the House leadership is exasperated with the lack of progress in the conference, and looking around at other alternatives," that can't be auspicious for the speaker.
BEUTLER: No, Boehner's had a really rough go of it since he took over last January. I think a lot of - many of the decisions he has made over the last year plus have been sort of geared towards doing his best not to let his whole conference just kind of come apart. You know, it's sort of like, "How can I survive the longest? How can I drive this out without completely running myself and the party off a cliff?"
But, that's sort of because he has this conservative rump that is really difficult deal with, who don't really feel like they owe him anything. And so, he's often faced with, sort of, "What is my least-bad choice?" And that's sort of why we've seen this constant brinksmanship, because that's the one thing he can give those guys. He can put up a fight until the bitter end, but eventually he can't give them what they want.
OLBERMANN: Apparently we're past the bitter end, but what happens in the House when enough Republicans follow Boehner that this goes through?
BEUTLER: Yeah, you know, I think Boehner is going to see a lot of defections. I think Democrats will see some defections. But, the fact of the matter is - putting together 218 votes when both parties' leaderships are working towards that goal isn't very difficult. So, Boehner could lose over 100 votes, Democrats could lose scores of votes and they could still put this thing together.
OLBERMANN: About Mr. McConnell again, is there any indication that he was really caught off guard by the deal in the House or did he just want - did he want that distance so he wouldn't have to endorse it or stick in some way with the tea party crowd?
BEUTLER: I think it's more the latter. You know, the news on this broke on Monday - on budget day, when that was the big story - they obviously didn't want it to be the top-placed story of the day.
McConnell had definitely heard about it by the time he was asked Tuesday and, I think - more than anything - he just didn't have a very good read, and maybe he still doesn't, about where his own members in the Senate are and didn't want to get out in front of them.
But the thing about Mitch McConnell, which we saw during the debt-limit fight and the last payroll-tax-cut fight, is that he's often the one who comes out to pull John Boehner back and House Republicans back and offer the compromise that those guys don't like, in order to prevent the party from completely going off the cliff. So, I don't think that - in principle or just in keeping with past practice - this is something that McConnell personally would oppose.
I think the last thing he wanted was to see Republicans allow this thing to expire and get blamed for it. But it just happened, in this case, that Boehner put the offer out before McConnell did, before McConnell had time to consider it.
OLBERMANN: And just quickly, lastly, unemployment benefits and the Medicare doctors' payments stayed in as part of this or fell out?
BEUTLER: They're still in. They're working out a single bill that will include all three with only those latter two - the Medicare physician-reimbursement rates and unemployment - being paid for, and a deal - the deal is basically done they just need to work - they're quibbling over details and the structures of the pay - but there are reporters staked outside of the Ways and Means Committee's room tonight, just waiting for them to come out and say, "We have a majority for this."
OLBERMANN: We've got the ways, we've got the means. Brian Beutler of TPM, good to talk with you again. Thank you kindly.
BEUTLER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The Andrew Breitbart meltdown and his allegations of rape by the Occupy movement. We will cover the laughable outbursts with more new laughs and another mystery guest in the video matchup, and we'll cover the anything-but-laughable allegations with some cold, hard facts. Breitbart and his people are lying. Stand by.
OLBERMANN: The list of 17 "rapes" by Occupy put together by Breitbart's people to rationalize his explosion against Occupy over the weekend. To say the list does not hold up to scrutiny is to severely understate it. It appears nobody actually read any of the links.
I did, thus I get to refute the list, coming up.
The Breitbart Video Mash-up Number Two in "Worsts." Plus, another claim that the president is like Hitler. And they elected Hitler, too. This just in, Hitler was not elected. Details next.
OLBERMANN: Debunking the entire Breitbart list, next.
First, because we don't want to play favorites, these people need debunking too. Here are "Countdown's" top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze? To Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. This is part of this rage against the compromise by which the Catholic organizations don't have to offer birth control in their employees' insurance, but their insurers do.
Fortunately, nobody on the far right has ever compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: What this really is - this is no different, it's really very little different than the form government - than the form of government you had in Nazi Germany. Remember, Adolf Hitler got elected, people elected him in 1933 in overwhelming majorities, they elected their own tyrant.
We've essentially done the same thing here in the United States, we elected somebody at the ballot box who is behaving like a dictatorial tyrant, completely ignoring the constraints and the limits of the law and the Constitution and imposing his view of society on us.
OLBERMANN: A) Yeah, that's why the Catholic organizations said the compromise was fine by them. B) If you're going to go psycho on everybody, Mr. Fischer, can you at least get your Hitler facts correct? Can we stop this "Hitler got elected" nonsense?
In 1932, Hitler lost both the first and second rounds of the German presidential election, and his party lost 15 percent of its seats in the German parliament, the Reichstag. Hitler was appointed Chancellor because the incumbent Chancellor, a right-wing former saboteur in this country named Franz Von Papen, cut a deal with other politicians to keep part of his power base by becoming Vice Chancellor. Hitler was appointed. Hitler was appointed by conservative politicians.
The runner-up? Thomas S. Monson, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Mormons, that is.
The church has had to issue an apology because it continues its policy of posthumous baptism, with or without the pre-death consent of the individuals, or the consent of their closest relatives.
In this case, churches in Utah, Arizona, and Idaho posthumously baptized - and thus converted, in their own eyes - to the Mormon faith the legendary Nazi hunter and Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal. Seriously, they baptized Simon Wiesenthal.
They have apologized.
You know what else works? My dad did this once, when the Mormons tried to posthumously baptize and re-marry our ancestors. He got a lawyer. End of baptisms.
But our winner? Once again, right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart.
In a moment we will seriously, and I mean very seriously, address the list of 17 "Occupy rapes" that Breitbart's people have thrown together - hastily thrown together, as you'll see. But for now, more on his self-immolation in front of Occupy protesters at CPAC over the weekend.
An update from Emily Crockett of CampusProgress.org, who shot the now infamous video. She writes, "A lot of commenters wondered if Breitbart was drunk, and this video from WND" - that's World Net Daily, the ring-wing fascist site - "strongly suggests that he was. In the video, as Breitbart is preparing to go confront the crowd, somebody off-camera says that it would look bad to do so with a glass of wine in his hand. 'So what? We're allowed to drink wine in America!' Breitbart says."
Huh? Haven't seen that video?
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: You guys have got a glass of wine in your hand.
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: So what? We're allowed to drink wine in America. I'm not living by the one percent/99 percent -
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Hey dude, I wrote on your website.
OLBERMANN: You dropped your vino there, Andy.
Last night we premiered our new series, "Andrew Breitbart Occupy Rage Mash-Up Videos," with his lunacy intercut with the film meltdowns of actor Andrew Kier in "Quatermass and the Pit," and Charlton Heston in "Planet Of The Apes." Tonight, another very special guest star.
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: Learn to behave yourself, stop raping people!
(Excerpt from video clip) SAM KINISON: 'Cause I know that's the popular version of what went on there, and a lot of people like to believe that. I wish I could but I was there!"
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: Stop raping people!
(Excerpt from video clip) KINISON: I was up to my knees in rice paddies! With guns that didn't work, going up against Charlie, sluggin' it out with him!
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: Behave yourself! You are freaks and animals!
(Excerpt from video clip) KINISON: While - like, you were back here partying, putting headbands on, doing drugs, listening to the goddamn Beatle albums!
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: You're freaks and animals!
(Excerpt from video clip) KINISON: Take it apart brick by brick and nuke them back into the [bleep] stone age forever!
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: You are freaks and animals. You're freaks and animals!
(Excerpt from video clip) KINISON: Say it! Say it!
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: Filthy, filthy, filthy, raping, murdering freaks!
(Excerpt from video clip) KINISON: Ahh! Ahh!
OLBERMANN: And again, my apologies to the late, great Sam Kinison, in the Rodney Dangerfield film "Back To School."
To paraphrase Dangerfield, "Breitbart, call me sometime when you got no class."
By the way, we only have 30 more good suggestions for these. Feel free to tweet them at me, the hash tag is #BreitbartMeltdown.
Next, we rebut each of the stories he falsely claims as evidence of rapes by Occupy. But, for now, he's simply Andy Breitbart, today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: As I noted, we have had - and we will continue to have - as much fun at possible with the on-camera meltdown of Andrew Breitbart in front of a group of Occupy protesters at CPAC last weekend.
But, in our number one-story on the "Countdown" - the subject of rape is no laughing matter. The allegation that a political or cultural group condones or encourages rape and sexual assault, against anyone, is virtually as serious a charge as can be leveled. Yet nearly just as bad is to fabricate, twist, and alter facts, to make it seem like such a charge against such a group has any credence at all.
Mr. Breitbart and his websites have now promulgated a list of what his people boast are 17 rapes at Occupy protests between October 16th and November 19th of last year. Seventeen stories and links, listed "Rapes and Various Sexual Crimes," and all of them attributed to Occupy.
It turns out Breitbart and his people have padded this list. They have listed some stories twice. In nearly every case, Breitbart's crew has twisted nearly every one of the allegations in the stories. The idea seems to have been to make as long a list as possible, and assume that your supporters will never bother to link through to the actual stories, let alone follow up to find their true outcomes. Those who do will find Mr. Breitbart and his colleagues are lying.
Story number one - Madison, Wisconsin. Turns out this is the story of Occupy Madison losing its permit for a couple of days, in part because of a charge that somebody was masturbating in public. No charges, no names, no evidence, and even the head of the local business association which brought the complaint, one Mary Carbine, was emphatic that the behavior was, "not necessarily by the protesters themselves."
Number two - Cleveland. Refers to an alleged assault of a member of Occupy Cleveland. No arrests and the police offer no indication the alleged assailant was a member of Occupy.
Number three - Seattle. Turns out to be the arrest of a man for indecent exposure in schoolyards and other parks, not at Occupy Seattle. Detectives say they were told the suspect had been seen at Occupy and, again, they make no claim he was associated with Occupy.
Number four - Cleveland. This is the same story as number two. Listed twice. This time, a Fox News video is linked as well.
Number five - Dallas. An alleged assault victim told police the sex in question was consensual. She would not press charges nor cooperate with authorities. The claim that there was an assault in the first place originated with one local TV station's anonymous source in the Dallas police department.
Number six - Portland, Oregon. The registered address a sex offender gave authorities turned out to be the same address as the Occupy Portland camp. The police have no evidence he was ever there, nor do any witnesses place him there.
Number seven - Lawrence, Kansas. A local police captain named Jim Martin is quoted, in the Breitbart-linked story, as saying "someone who had been at the Occupy Lawrence camp reported on Monday morning a possible sexual assault. Martin said he did not believe the victim or any possible suspects were members of the group."
Number eight - Glasgow. Breitbart assigns responsibility for an assault on an Occupy protester in Scotland to the American Occupy movement. He also does not note that the morning after the incident, Occupy organizers voluntarily began to disbanded the camp after police refused to provide security.
Number nine - Manchester, New Hampshire. A woman operating out of her own home is arrested in her own home there after she tries to turn an Occupy protester into a prostitute.
Number 10 - New York City. An Occupy protester is assaulted in her tent.
Number 11 - New York City. It's the same story as number ten. They again listed it twice.
Number 12 - Chula Vista, California. On November 6th, a woman posts on the Occupy Los Angeles Facebook page, asking Occupy to help locate her daughter, a 16-year-old named Ashley Springer. The last the woman knew, Ashley Springer was at OccupyLA and then she disappeared. Breitbart does not note that by December 9th, Ashley Springer was home - safe, sound, and unharmed.
Number 13 - Philadelphia. The Breitbart list blares "Occupier Arrest for Rape." The actual newspaper headline at the other end of the link says "Man arrested in Occupy Philly Sexual Assault." The alleged victim was a member of Occupy, not the assailant, even though Breitbart implies it was the other way around.
Number 14 - Austin, Texas. A man in a sleeping bag near the Occupy encampment in a public square is arrested for allegedly masturbating in front of a 16-year-old. Again, despite the Breitbart headline, "Occupier Accused of Masturbating In Front of 16-Year-Old Girl," in the actual story that Breitbart links to, police do not conclude that either the victim or perpetrator was involved with Occupy.
Number 15 - Chicago. A 21-year-old man named Robert Reitz, whom Occupy Chicago confirmed had attended some of its events, is arrested at his home, on child-porn charges. Breitbart does not bother to note that, in the second half of the very story he linked to, Occupy Chicago responded to the arrest by immediately banning this Reitz from its encampment.
Number 16 - St. Louis. Again, the victim in an assault is identified as a member of Occupy, not the alleged perpetrator.
Number 17 - New York City. Again, the victim in a fondling case is a member of Occupy, police identify the assailant as a neighborhood homeless person.
So, seventeen stories Breitbart claims are cases of rape by Occupy. Just reading the stories, just Googling the names of those identified, following up on these stories, that took me only about 70 minutes. The final result? Two cases of the stories on the list were duplicates, one story turns out to have been about consensual sex. One case, in Scotland, led the Occupy group to disband for the sake of safety. One case of an arrest for child porn, with Occupy immediately banning the alleged perpetrator. One case of a girl disappearing, ignoring the fact that she was home and unharmed a month later. Four cases in which police said neither the victim nor the assailant were apparently even associated with Occupy.
That leaves seven stories, all of which show police identifying Occupy participants as the victims, six of which show police identifying the alleged assailants as not being Occupy participants. That is the evidence that Andrew Breitbart has submitted to rationalize his irrational attempt to smear the Occupy movement, and Occupy members, as rapists, and to brand anybody who points out his dishonesty, his twisting of the facts - and who bothers to actually read the stories that disprove his own contention - to paint then as a rape denier or rape apologist.
What Mr. Breitbart and his fellow propagandists have done, in fact, is to take at least eight women, eight members of Occupy, who were raped or otherwise assaulted and blamed them for being raped. He is not just perpetrating the classic fabrication con of the dishonest man, for whom facts are malleable and can be ignored when they are inconvenient.
More importantly, Breitbart is exploiting rape victims, blaming rape victims. And no woman, no man - conservative, liberal, or indifferent - can abide this despicable attempt to take individual human suffering and, by lying at the top of his voice, try to score cheap political points with it.
Good night, and good luck.