'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
#ShowPlug 1: Birth Control - or asking candidates exploiting it about it - gets booed at debate. @DaveCatanese on who won debate, if anybody
#ShowPlug 2: Romney portrayed as Occupier, POTUS pushes corporate tax cut. Why do corporations need one, asks our guest @RBReich
#ShowPlug 3: How to defeat Citizens United without utilizing the $ it enables & why did my guest @RussFeingold join Obama campaign using it?
#ShowPlug 4: Chris Christie trying to hide behind POTUS on Marriage Equality? #MultiLevelFail w/ @WayneBesen of @TruthWinsOut
#ShowPlug 5: Palin's People blast "Game Change" Movie. 0 have seen it. Also, there are only 7 "Palin's People" remaining. Secret pub push?
#ShowPlug 6: Rep. Bob "Girl Scouts Scare Me" Morris apologizes to Scouts, then bashes them again, says story is over #ItsNotOverBobby
#ShowPlug Last: @AndrewBreitbart Mashup hint: It tied the room together. + Greatest political video of year: Vote Early, Vote Often
#5 'Losers All', David Catanese
#5 'Dueling Tax Plans', Robert Reich
#4 'Wake-Up Call', Russ Feingold
# Time Marches On!
#3 '"Cowardice"', Wayne Besen
#2 Worst Persons: Andrew Breitbart, Bob Morris (R-IN), Joel Kleefisch (R-WI)
#1 'Pregame', JC Coccolo
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Russ Feingold, Robert Reich, David Catanese, Wayne Besen, JC Coccoli
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Either this time they booed birth control or they believe their would-be presidents can exploit that issue but cannot be asked about it.
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN KING: Which candidate believes in birth control and if not, why?
OLBERMANN: Consensus? All of them lost.
Gingrich went too far, even for Gingrich:
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: Not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide.
OLBERMANN: Santorum got pounded.
(Excerpt from video clip) KING: You have a new television ad that labels him a fake. Why?
(Excerpt from video clip) RON PAUL: Because he's a fake.
OLBERMANN: Romney got called an Occupier.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SANTORUM: Governor Romney, even today, suggested raising taxes on the top one percent, adopting the Occupy Wall Street rhetoric.
OLBERMANN: If Romney went all Occupy, why did the president go all one percent? Why do corporations need a tax cut? With Robert Reich.
And is there any other way to beat Citizens United, besides utilizing the super money it permits to be raised to elect people who will overturn it?
(Excerpt from video clip) RUSS FEINGOLD: Democrats should just never be in the business of taking unlimited corporate contributions. It's dancing with the devil, and it's a game that we will never win.
OLBERMANN: I will pose that perfect conundrum to our guest, former Senator Russ Feingold.
Ever thought you'd hear this?
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRIS CHRISTIE: I have the exact same position as the president.
OLBERMANN: Governor Christie's disingenuousness about his demand for a plebiscite on marriage equality.
(Excerpt from video clip) JULIANNE MOORE (as Sarah Palin): I have to win this thing. I so don't want to go back to Alaska.
OLBERMANN: Palin's people hate the new movie, even though they haven't seen it and even though there are only seven "Palin people" left.
Indiana's Republicans continue to fricassee the Indiana Republican who bashed the Girl Scouts.
The newest edition of "Breitbart Theater" really ties the room together, and why this is the greatest short political video ever recorded.
What is that legislator doing?
All that and more, now on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Good evening. This is Thursday, February 23rd, 258 days until the 2012 presidential election.
GOP presidential contenders, preparing for next Tuesday's primaries with a pin-the-tail-on-the-Santorum debate in Arizona, while a nonpartisan group finds that three of those four candidates' tax proposals would add hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars of debt to the deficit.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - Santorum suffers, as Romney and Paul combine to take him down.
Romney clearly enjoying the aftermath this morning:
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: It was kind of an interesting night. I didn't - I didn't expect what happened. We saw, in this case, Senator Santorum explain most of the night why he did or voted for things he disagreed with.
OLBERMANN: That, and a few more things of note, starting with the Republican audience. Like those which had booed the soldier - the gay soldier - those who cheered for Texas executions in past debates, last night's crowd not letting its fans down, as CNN moderator John King asked a question about a recent controversy.
(Excerpt from video clip) KING: Birth control is the latest hot topic. Which candidate believes in birth control and if not, why?
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: As you can see it's a - it's a very popular question, isn't it?
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: It's a very popular question to the audience, as we can see.
OLBERMANN: Yes, even the mention of birth control deserving a boo. Impossible to know if they were booing it per se, or merely booing the audacity of the media to ask about a question which the contenders have been exploiting.
Polls show, where two birth control controversies are concerned, clear majorities of registered voters approve the Obama administration's birth control insurance compromise with religious institutions and their affiliates and support Planned Parenthood in that dispute.
The topic, though, giving Newt Gingrich a chance to attack both the CNN moderator and the president of the United States:
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: You did not once, in the 2008 campaign, not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide.
OLBERMANN: Probably because the president never did any such thing. Though he did, as an Illinois legislator, oppose bills that would have labeled an aborted fetus as a born-alive infant, even if doctors believed it had no chance to survive.
Ironically, the attack on women's rights took down a man last night. Santorum was forced to defend votes for appropriations bills, including Title X funding for Planned Parenthood and President Bush's pet education bill, No Child Left Behind.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I have to admit I voted for that. It was against the principles I believed in, but - you know, when you're part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team, for the leader, and I made a mistake. You know - politics is a team sport, folks.
OLBERMANN: Ron Paul, showing an affinity for Team Romney by piling on Santorum:
(Excerpt from video clip) KING: You have a new television ad that labels him a fake. Why?
(Excerpt from video clip) PAUL: Because he's a fake.
OLBERMANN: So consummate a fake, in fact, that even a connoisseur of personal fakery, Mitt Romney, can hardly believe his good fortune himself.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: He talked about this as being "taking one for the team." I wonder which team he was taking it for? All right, my team is the American people, not the insiders in Washington.
OLBERMANN: How about the insiders with Bain Capital? Those venture capital credentials not keeping Santorum from trying to present Romney as a secret supporter of the 99 percent.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I never voted to raise taxes. Governor Romney, even today, suggested raising taxes on the top one percent, adopting the Occupy Wall Street rhetoric. I'm not going to adopt that rhetoric.
OLBERMANN: A relief to all of us here at "Countdown," and obviously, those in Occupy Wall Street.
The Democratic National Committee responding to last night's debate by putting out a Web ad nailing Romney's position on immigration.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I think you see a model here in Arizona.
OLBERMANN: The Republican National Committee lobbing its own Web ad at the president over the rising price of gasoline.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: Baby, don't you wanna go?
(Excerpt from video clip) B.B. KING: Come on.
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: Baby, don't you wanna go?
OLBERMANN: While likely Michigan Republican primary voters don't seem to know which of the leading candidates' theme songs to sing. Santorum and Romney effectively tied, their numbers within the margin of error in the latest WXYZ/Detroit Free Press poll and the new American Research Group poll.
As for the president, registered voters in 12 swing states that favored Mr. Obama in 2008 giving him slight majorities over Mitt Romney - registered voters, not likely voters - and the much-bruised Rick Santorum. Registered voters, not likely voters.
President Obama sounding remarkably confident, though, in an interview with Univision Radio:
(Excerpt from audio clip) OBAMA: I've got another five years coming up. We're going to get this done.
OLBERMANN: For more on the debate, and the GOP field as it moves towards Tuesday's primaries in Michigan and Arizona, I'm joined again by David Catanese, the national political reporter with Politico. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
DAVID CATANESE: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The boos for birth control - does it really matter if they were booing birth control itself or just the moderator's audacity in asking about it?
CATANESE: I think it does matter, but I think it's very instructive of the - I mean, the worry that is overcoming even some of the base parts of the Republican party on how these social issues are getting the Republicans off track.
Anytime Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum is diving into birth control and whether women should be, you know, allowed that coverage under their insurance, that's getting off message. That's not talking about the economy and jobs, which is more of a winning message for them against President Obama.
Remember, there's videotape out there of Rick Santorum last fall, questioning, you know, birth control at all. Not only being covered under insurance, but questioning, you know, using it at all, in any circumstances. That videotape is so damaging in a potential general election, especially with female voters and independent voters overall.
OLBERMANN: The Gingrich accusation about the president, on the topic of birth control, supporting legalized infanticide - is this the Newt Gingrich they mean when the more-responsible GOP leaders hint that they're afraid of what he might say under, you know, any day that ends in the letter Y?
CATANESE: Well, this was vintage Gingrich, going back to - you know, debates past where he, you know, would roll out this bombastic rhetoric regularly, took - sort of took a side step from that in the two prior debates, where he wasn't as aggressive. I sort of thought this was an outlier moment for Gingrich. He wasn't really a huge factor in this debate. He got some lobs in against President Obama and of course, the elite media, but really didn't throw any hard rights against Romney or Santorum, who - you know, he needs to take shots at right now.
I mean, this is a guy who said he was going to be the Republican nominee just a few months ago, and now he is, you know, flailing in third place and, you know, he also described himself as cheerful, and I don't know if that is the best tack for Newt Gingrich right now, to be cheerful and sort of sidelined on the side of this debate.
OLBERMANN: The general analysis after last night was Santorum backed himself into a number of corners out of which he could not get: "I voted for it, even though I didn't support it, just taking it for the team."
Is this the - another example proving that old political adage that if you're a senator, you should not run for president? Because the legislative process looks awfully ugly in the light of day, especially to true believers who don't want to hear any of the details. They don't want to hear the labor pains. They just want to see the baby that they want to see.
CATANESE: It's - you know, it's the legislative garbled gobbledygook that Santorum got mired into last night. I will give Santorum some credit, though, on a point. I mean, he did apologize and say he was wrong on a vote. How often do you hear a politician say, "Hey, I took this vote, and I was wrong?" Romney certainly hasn't done that with health care, but on No Child Left Behind -
OLBERMANN: But, David, they boo - they booed him. What is the motive for doing that if you're going to get booed anyway? Just lie your way through.
CATANESE: You know, I think he was trying to show that, "I can admit when I'm wrong." Mitt Romney hasn't ever. Did it sell with this audience? No, I think this audience was with Romney.
But you know, just as a journalist, you like to hear, once in a while, when a politician said, "Hey, I got a vote wrong." That doesn't mean he's going to score well with the Republican primary voters, but you know, it does make Rick Santorum a little more authentic. I mean, doesn't every politician have a vote they wish they could have back?
The problem is Santorum never pivoted to Romney, never made the second part of that attack to say - "You know, Mitt, you never have apologized for the - you know, for setting the template for Obamacare or - you know, being pro-choice." I mean, those are messages that could have sold to this audience. He never pivoted and got stuck explaining his old votes and, as you said, you know, senatorial procedure - trying to be on the team for a legislative accomplishment? That doesn't sell with primary voters.
OLBERMANN: David Catanese, national political reporter of Politico. Dave, thanks for your time tonight.
CATANESE: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The four Republican candidates' tax plans coming under scrutiny from the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget a day after the president had put out his own plan, and the president looking to lower most corporate tax rates to 28 percent while dropping manufacturer's tax rates to 25 percent.
As for the fiscally responsible Republicans, U.S. Budget Watch - a project of the Committee for a Responsible Budget - taking a middle path in evaluating its proposals, saying that Newt Gingrich's plan would add seven trillion to the national debt by the year 2021. Santorum's plan would tack on four trillion plus. Business wizard Mitt Romney's plan would only cost another $250 billion in extra debt, while Ron Paul's plan would actually cut 2.2 trillion in debt, mostly by slashing entitlements and the State Department and eliminating no fewer than five other federal departments.
For more on the president's plan and the would-be Republican budgeteers, I'm joined by the former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, now professor at Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy and the author of "After Shock: the Next Economy and America's Future." Thank you for your time again tonight, sir.
ROBERT REICH: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: You blogged today that, "Corporations don't need a tax cut, so why is Obama proposing one?" I believe, to sum it up, the president's argument was something to do with international competitiveness, but since, as you described, the corporations are almost literally rolling in cash, why is the president proposing to cut their taxes when the public gradient on this is certainly tilting against anything favoring any corporation under any circumstances?
REICH: Well, it's hard to figure out, Keith. Again, we have this big budget deficit, and we've got to deal with it, somehow, in the out years. Corporations are rolling in money. Corporation - corporate tax revenues, as a percentage of total tax revenues, are down to about 10 percent. They were - they were 33 percent under Dwight Eisenhower. So it's hard to understand why the president feels compelled to reduce corporate tax rates.
Nobody's out there - and, certainly in the Democratic base or among independents - saying, "you have got to reduce corporate tax rates."
Now, the cynic would say he's doing it because, after all, there are a lot of campaign contributions coming in from big corporations and CEOs. I don't - I'm not that - quite that cynical, Keith.
I think there are people in the Treasury Department that say, essentially, we ought to rationalize the tax system, get rid of some of the loopholes, make it revenue neutral, some of the "good government" types, and I think there are also some political advisers to the president saying, "Let's take away an issue that the Republicans are going to try to nail you with in the general election," which is corporate taxes being too high relative to our international competitors. Well, to me, those are not very good reasons, but nevertheless, that's what we have.
OLBERMANN: Could the argument be made that it looks pretty bad that, perhaps, there is some sort of quid pro quo because we've had, in the last week, these quotes from Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, to New York Magazine, about, "Sure, let's have threshold increases for tax rates - personal tax rates - of more than a million, of more than 10 million. Let's make sure no one can inherit the full riches of the father." The Wall Street Journal saying Congress should pass laws that would break up the big banks. It certainly does seem suspicious that that would be followed up by a presidential plan to reduce corporate taxes.
REICH: Well, it's a little odd, particularly - not only given everything you've just said, but remember that wonderful speech the president made on December 6th in Kansas, in which he set out the big challenge in the future being overcoming widening inequality, a plutocracy at the top that's taking more and more of the national gains, and making democracy stronger by building the middle class and, obviously, dealing with other problems that the nation has.
So I would hope - I mean, maybe - I hope this is an aberration, Keith. I really - I hope the president goes on to really - to come up with a set of proposals that make his words in Kansas, in December, the kind of words that really have content in this election season.
OLBERMANN: On the other side of this - the Santorum and Romney and Gingrich plans that would actually add billions, in some case trillions, to the deficit. Obviously, they don't expect people who can do the math to be reading their proposals. They just want to hear the words. They don't want to check it out. They don't want to hit the link. They do not want read the details. They don't want to do the math. But, having left this material on the battlefield, isn't each one of those plans exactly what the president would need in that future debate against whoever it is against on the budget?
REICH: Oh, absolutely. I mean, these - you know, because they are cutting taxes on the wealthy, they are cutting corporate taxes much more than the president is proposing, they are going to be creating - according to nonpartisan groups - I mean, this report that you referred to is a nonpartisan group. They are known for just, you know, playing it absolutely straight, and they are showing gigantic - I mean, six, seven trillion dollar deficits as a result - or four or five, six trillion dollar deficits - as a result of these gigantic tax cuts, you know, again, at a time when you've got a budget deficit hanging over everybody's head.
It is the utter irresponsibility of these Republicans.
I think Ron Paul is the only - the only Republican that comes out with a plan that has any relevance in terms of the budget deficit of the future, but Ron Paul is getting rid of most of government. I mean, you can deal with the budget deficit if you get rid of most of government and if you don't want to raise taxes, but that's not exactly what most people want.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, if you sign up for that insurance plan that does not pay you anything in the event of a claim, you have the perfect insurance plan, from the insurance point of view.
REICH: Well, I mean, get rid of Medicare.
REICH: Social security and get rid of education and roads. Yeah, you can really reduce the budget deficit and not raise anybody's taxes.
OLBERMANN: Very simple, very simple thing. Only money coming in, no money going out, it's perfect. I can even understand it.
Robert Reich, the former U.S. Labor Secretary from Berkeley and the author of "After Shock: the Next Economy and America's Future." Many thanks again for some of your time tonight.
REICH: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The real money, of course, is not in corporations but in super PACs. Of course, so are the dilemmas of real, mutual exclusivity. How do you defeat Citizens United without the kind of money it permits you to raise via super PACs and - if you're an opponent of that kind of money - how do you support a president, in fact, join his campaign, when the president has just switched gears to acquiesce to super PACs?
A man facing both dilemmas - super PAC critic and new Obama re-election co-chair, former Senator Russ Feingold. He's my guest, next.
OLBERMANN: Posing the Citizens United conundrum to our guest Russ Feingold. Can you repudiate the big money it enables and still raise enough money to win office in order to then overturn Citizens United?
Sarah Palin's people don't like the new movie "Game Change." Of course, they haven't seen the new movie "Game Change." Plus, how many of "Sarah Palin's people" are left?
The Indiana State rep who is afraid of Girl Scouts apologizes, then bashes the Girl Scouts all over again. Then says the story is now over. Uh-huh.
And one fish, two fish, Kleefisch - the Wisconsin state representative and voter ID supporter, caught on tape in hypocrisy of biblical proportions. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: The Republican presidential primary has shown how detrimental super PACs have become to the electoral system in two years. Not only are they accepting unlimited contributions, but they then use that money to create vicious ads against opponents without even the minimal accountability required of campaign attack ads.
In our fourth story - yesterday, one the most vocal critics of Citizens United - former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold - was named as a national co-chair for President Obama's re-election campaign, which just last month had reversed its course and went along, obviously a little sheepishly, with the idea of super PACs. He joins me presently.
This morning, the anger over Citizens United was again visible as citizens marched to, then protested outside of, the Supreme Court. The renewed anger directed at the high court's decision to stay a ruling by Montana's Supreme Court, which had upheld Montana's ban on corporate spending in elections.
But while some see this as simply the court enforcing its pro-corporate stance of 2009, Justice Ginsberg saw this as an opportunity for the high court to review its original ruling, writing in response to the stay: "Montana's experience and experience elsewhere, since this court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, make it exceedingly difficult to maintain that independent expenditures by corporations do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption."
And, as promised, joining me now - former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, an Obama campaign national co-chair and author of "While America Sleeps: A Wake-Up Call for the Post 9/11 Era." Senator, good to see you, sir.
FEINGOLD: Keith, good to see you.
OLBERMANN: And I'm glad that it's in person for a change.
OLBERMANN: Is there any other way to beat Citizens United, besides utilizing the super-money that you can raise because of Citizens United, in order to elect people who will overturn Citizens United?
FEINGOLD: Of course. You don't need to raise super fund money - super PAC money. The president doesn't need to do that. I made it very clear that I think he is in a great position and one of the reasons he's in a great position is because it looks like he's a little more on the side of the average person. This only undercuts that. So I made it clear to the Obama people, who had asked me to co-chair the campaign, that I would publicly criticize this decision.
But, when it comes down to it, Keith, I've got two choices: I can sit in the backyard and have a nice cigar and have somebody tell me at the end of - who won the election, because it doesn't matter. But it - the other choice is to actually fight for the guy who will appoint Supreme Court justices, who will, at least possibly, overturn this thing. I have a sneaking suspicion that the people that the Republicans would appoint wouldn't even consider overturning it. You know what? That's the whole ballgame, Keith.
FEINGOLD: That's it. We've got to get this thing overturned. It requires one justice to have a different attitude.
OLBERMANN: But, if that's the whole ballgame, aren't all the resources that would be available to you necessary to win that ballgame? If, suddenly, one team in baseball were permitted four strikes -
FEINGOLD: You bet.
OLBERMANN: Would you say you're only going to take three strikes?
FEINGOLD: If you believe that the only resources that a politician has is money, then you're right, but I don't. I think the resources you have are people, a message, an understanding that one side's on the side of most of the people in this country and the other side isn't.
The sad thing is that somehow the word "resources" has become equal with money. I won my elections, in almost every case, against people that had more money. I unilaterally disarmed in 1998, against the guy that spent three times more than I did using soft money. It was the message - that we weren't part of that system - that allowed us to prevail, even though it was close.
So no, I really don't think it's a good idea to say, "Well, we're going to become part of this system and then we'll change it later," because it's kind of hard to believe.
OLBERMANN: But - and this is not intended, although it will sound like a compliment to you and to the president - both of you would be, I think, described as exceptional candidates, especially under those circumstances.
Every other method, other than replacing current members of the Supreme Court - and for all we know they are going to live to be 120, particularly the conservative ones, who knows - all other methods to overtaking and overturning Citizens United involve Democratic legislators on the local and the national level, perhaps through a constitutional amendment. Or a Democratic Senate or a Democratic House, and in all of those races, the amount of resources brought to bear - financial resources, exclusively - against Democrats and against liberals are overwhelming.
How do you not allow that part of the team to take the resources that are made available to them by this heinous Citizens United decision and the super PACs they engender?
FEINGOLD: Because it's wrong. Secondly, because it often doesn't work, because people catch on to the corruption of it. And third, it's the result you get. If Democratic candidates at all levels across the country get elected by this system, you know what you're going to get? The same kind of corrupt policy we got from both Democrats and Republicans in the '90s, before John McCain and I shut down the soft-money system.
Corporate Democrats brought us the repeal of the legislation that kept a distinction - Glass-Steagall, with regard to Wall Street. They brought us the consolidation of the media, which has been devastating. They brought us trade agreements that shipped our jobs overseas. Yeah, sure, Democrats might win, but you'll get corporate Democrats. You won't get people who will fight for the average citizen, and that is a horrible consequence. It is not acceptable.
OLBERMANN: What do you do about this reality? In the GOP primary, 19 donors have accounted for nearly $47 million in contributions, nearly all of it to super PACs. There is a body of belief that this election is not going to become an auction, it is an auction right now.
It certainly is an auction on the Republican side, but there is a practical possibility that, with enough money, the Republicans could run a dead Kodiak bear against President Obama and conceivably win because purely that - how much - they can spend that much money attacking Obama and convincing everybody that the bear was descended from on high.
FEINGOLD: If you believe that money has that much ability to completely destroy people's common sense, then that's - then you're right. I don't believe that. I believe it's a situation where we have to put the genie back in the bottle because of the policy results we get, not so much about the electoral outcomes.
President Obama, as you say, is a great candidate. He has a great record. He doesn't need to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from this kind of money and kind of system. And that, I think, is a much better approach, both from a policy point of view and politically.
OLBERMANN: Well, how does it work, though, practically? If you're the great opponent of this and you are a co-chair of his campaign and his campaign has, in fact, changed positions. And, in January, that super PAC raised $59,000, and they're - apart from everything else - their pride is hurt by the fact that they raised $59,000. How do these two things coexist? It would seem to me, this is the definition of an artist.
FEINGOLD: Well, the - what are you going to do? Are you going to sit there and say, "You know, I'm not going to help the president? I'm not going to try to persuade them to stay away from this. I'm not going to try to persuade them that this is the worst thing that's happening."
I think the president is actually doing well on every other front. This is the one real taint on what he's doing right now. I want to be involved in a campaign where I say, "We don't need to do this." I'm going to campaign for the president staying away from this stuff and I'm also going to make it clear that I believe that the president will do the right thing about this, with regard to the Supreme Court.
OLBERMANN: Obama campaign national co-chair, author now of "While America Sleeps," former Senator Russ Feingold. As I said, it's a great pleasure to see you in person for a change.
FEINGOLD: And next time we'll talk about international policy and "While America Sleeps," the book.
OLBERMANN: Absolutely. And a good book it is. Thank you, again, for your time.
FEINGOLD: All right, thank you.
OLBERMANN: There's something you'll enjoy coming up. The greatest short piece of political videotape of the year, the man who voted for Wisconsin's voter ID law is on tape voting for something else. Three different times. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: The governor of New Jersey tries to hide behind the president of the United States.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date in 1975 was born Robert Lopez, the Broadway genius who co-created "Avenue Q" and a more recent musical called "Book of More-moan." Oh, Mormon.
I've only gone to see it nine times. As I told one of Lopez's co-creators Trey Parker, "I'm going to come back until I find something I like about it."
Happy Birthday, Robert Lopez.
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Presidential candidate Prokhorov raps on Russian TV show.
And we begin, as we always do, with a Russian presidential candidate rapping.
This is New Jersey Nets owner and presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov on the Russian television show "Projector Paris Hilton." If you haven't seen this week's episode yet, spoiler alert.
(Excerpt from video clip) MIKHAIL PROKHOROV: Mikhail Prokhorov on the microphone.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: His name is Mikhail. He's Russian businessman.
(Excerpt from video clip) PROKHOROV: I am a real Russian Eminem.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Yo! Listen, Jay-Z. This is my friends. They got many dollars and most of them spent. We are superstar on TV in Russia.
OLBERMANN: Clearly, his fellow New Jersey Nets owner, Jay-Z, did not help Prokhorov with his rap. Although, possibly, the other Nets owner Bruce Ratner did.
Jeremy Lin of the Knicks can probably rap, and poo gold.
VIDEO: Rat and cat drink milk from a bowl together.
And lastly, it's the TMO Adorable Clip of the Day. Or is it?
It would appear it's a cat and a rat sharing a nice bowl of milk, not in a hat.
But you'll notice every time the rat takes a turn, he pulls the bowl towards him. Clearly, the whole thing is designed to lead the cat into some sort of trap.
The video cuts out here, but we can only assume it ends with the cat in a sewer surrounded by four ninja turtles that were trained by the rat.
"Time Marches On!"
All of which brings us to New Jersey politics and a desperate throw by the governor of that state, claiming his bid to put civil rights up for a vote is exactly what President Obama would do. Next.
OLBERMANN: Even in his unlikely and unpopular governorship, this could not have been foreseen.
In our third story on the "Countdown" - as the Obama administration moves to finalize legislation that would advance benefits for domestic partners of federal workers, New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie took to a morning show today defending his veto of same-sex equality legislation while also insisting that's the president's viewpoint.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTIE: My feet are firmly planted right next to President Obama's, and they don't criticize him.
OLBERMANN: That's when Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart jumped from off set to confront Christie.
(Excerpt from video clip) JONATHAN CAPEHART: The key difference between you and the president is, while you support putting the civil rights of a minority up for a public referendum, the president is not in favor - is certainly not in favor of that.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTIE: Has he said that, Jonathan?
(Excerpt from video clip) CAPEHART: If you were president -
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTIE: Jonathan, has he said that? I haven't heard him say that.
(Excerpt from video clip) CAPEHART: That he would - look -
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTIE: I heard him say he was opposed to it.
(Excerpt from video clip) CAPEHART: Governor Christie. Governor Christie.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTIE: Have you heard him say it? Because I haven't heard him say it.
(Excerpt from video clip) CAPEHART: The president and the Justice Department have made clear that they believe that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTIE: Hey, Jonathan, first of all, I used to be a prosecutor. I don't know if you did, too, but I'm not going to be cross-examined by you this morning. Secondly -
(Excerpt from video clip) CAPEHART: I'm having fun trying.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTIE: I know, and you're going to lose.
OLBERMANN: Oh. While the president has vocally supported state-by-state efforts to legalize equal rights, he has remained silent on the broader issue of same-sex marriage, saying that his stance is evolving.
But the actions of the administration speak louder than his words. A year ago, under the president's direction, the Department of Justice halted defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in court, saying it is unconstitutional to revoke federal benefits for same-sex spouses. Just yesterday, a federal judge in San Francisco became the first to agree with that position.
I'm joined now by Wayne Besen, the founder and director of Truth Wins Out. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
WAYNE BESEN: Sure.
OLBERMANN: So, in how many ways is Governor Christie wrong on what he calls these parallel views between himself and the president on marriage equality?
BESEN: Well, Governor Christie really doesn't like teachers very much, and it shows, because he didn't do his homework. For example, Barack Obama spoke out against Proposition 8 when he was running for president and expended political capital in doing so. So, he was absolutely wrong on that.
And then, Jonathan Capehart brought up the fact that Barack Obama, one year ago today, told his Justice Department not to defend the Defense of Marriage act. And when Capehart - and when Capehart questioned Christie, he dodged the question. He bullied Capehart and refused to answer the question. He was trying to pretend, on one hand, that he was brave and bold, on the other hand, he was running away from the question. It was disgraceful.
They have very little in common, and while Barack Obama is far from perfect on our issues, he has done quite a bit.
For example, I already mentioned DOMA and he also - of course, we all know about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and how he abolished that. So, I think there are many good things that he has done. There's one place I will agree on and that is - Barack Obama should evolve already, and the reason is because it allows people like Christie to hide behind the president, and we saw that again today.
The - in the court case in California overturning Proposition 8, those that wanted to move it to the full Ninth Circuit, they cited Barack Obama, just like Christie did, as a reason why - that it was not discriminatory to ban marriage equality in California.
OLBERMANN: But, there's something about evolution and people's opinions. The governor claimed that the president's trying to have it both ways on this subject when he shouted on that set this morning, "This is the sort of political cowardice that we don't want."
The irony to this, I would say, it that for whatever ambivalence the president may have exhibited, he has not let a personal opinion interfere with a policy position for his government, which is kind of the reverse of what Christie's doing.
BESEN: Yeah, and Christie is being hyporitical here. I mean, talking about trying to have it both ways. He looks at the polls and the polls show that 70 percent of people 18 to 30, right now, support marriage equality. He sees the writing on the wall. Just today, Maryland became the eighth state to approve same-sex marriage, and it's very exciting. And, of course, with the District of Columbia, as well.
So, he understands two things.
Number one, the current Republican party - you can't get elected unless you're an extremist like Rick Santorum or you're a phony pretending you're an extremist like Mitt Romney. But he also believes that if one of these guys gets the nomination, which they will, and there's a landslide, and the Republican party has to change, that he's going to have to become more mainstream when he actually runs for president of the United States.
So he's, on one hand, trying to appeal to the far right and then he's also trying to not look extreme by saying, "We can send this to the voters." But, I think many people are seeing through it and not - and he certainly doesn't deserve any credit. If anything, his position that we should actually vote on civil rights is a disgrace.
OLBERMANN: Ultimately, do you find something revelatory about the fact that Christie was trying to hide, indeed, behind the president on this and, in fact - as you pointed out - the case in San Francisco, to send it to the whole Ninth, hides behind the president?
Is there not a revelation in this, that those who are arguing against marriage equality have a sense that their position is en route to becoming the horse and buggy of the 21st century and the only thing they have left is these specious arguments that - the president that we all hates - who all of us hate, individually, we're in - we're in accord with him?
BESEN: Oh, yeah. I mean, it's really an act of cowardice, and they do see the writing on the wall right here, and they understand that - as they said in the court in San Francisco - that it's irrational, unconstitutional. For example, the Defense of Marriage Act, and we see what's going to happen.
Marriage equality is coming. It's coming state by state right now and hopefully, at one point, it will come at the federal level through the court. But, in the meantime, you have people like Christie who are at odds with the people out there, and he's really, I think, dodging the question as he did today on the air. I think he's dancing around the issue, and at the same time he's doing that, he's trying to portray himself at resolute, when he's anything but resolute.
OLBERMANN: Wayne Besen, founder and director of Truth Wins Out. We thank you kindly for your time tonight, sir.
BESEN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The state representative who fears the Girl Scouts apologizes for that, then beats them up again.
Another edition of "Breitbart Mash-Up Theater" and the greatest political hypocrisy caught on tape this year - maybe this decade - from inside the Wisconsin assembly chamber. What a "Worst Persons."
OLBERMANN: To use her terms, her peeps get all wee-wee'd up over the movie about her, condemning it even though they admit the only thing they've seen about it is the trailer.
First the "Worsts" - "Breitbart Mash-Up Theater." Your hint, this gag really tied the room together. More importantly, it is the greatest short political video ever recorded and this Wisconsin State assemblyman is its undisputed star. Next.
OLBERMANN: So what if they haven't seen it? Sarah Palin's seven remaining political friends know damn well that the movie about her is nothing but lies, damn lies, and clothes she covets. Next.
Because Ms. Palin is only the tip of that iceberg to nowhere that is stupidity in this country, though, here are "Countdown's" top three nominees for the "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze? To right-wing blogger Andy Breitbart. It was announced today he will be appearing at the GOP event at the San Marino Club in Troy, Michigan on Saturday. In case any local Occupy groups would like to see what kind of self-immolation they can inspire this time. Bring your videotape recorders.
Which brings us to the seventh installment of "Andy Breitbart Video Rage Mash-up Theater." And something a little different tonight. Yes, we'll include some of Breitbart's classic wine-fueled meltdown before the onslaught of Occupy protesters at CPAC. But also tonight, previously unseen footage of Andy after his panic, all in an effort to drop in to see what condition his condition was in.
(Excerpt from video clip) ANDREW BREITBART: You filthy, filthy, filthy, raping, murdering freaks!
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN GOODMAN: Here you go, Larry. You see what happens?
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: They can't even see as they're trying to create a Utopia.
(Excerpt from video clip) GOODMAN: You see what happens, Larry?
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: It's all there for everybody to see in emails, in videos.
(Excerpt from video clip) GOODMAN: You see what happens, Larry?
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #2: So, it's similar to what happened with the Gaza flotilla.
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: That's exactly right.
(Excerpt from video clip) GOODMAN: You see what happens, Larry?
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: This is the shock troops. This is the shock troops.
(Excerpt from video clip) GOODMAN: Do you see what happens, Larry?
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #2: They're over there. John and Larry are looking for you.
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: John and Larry are over here?
OLBERMANN: See, there is as Hollywood conspiracy, Andy. Do you see what happens, Andy? Do you see what happens when you - I'd like to apologize to John Goodman and the Coen Brothers and all drinkers of White Russians.
The runner-up? Indiana State Representative Bob Morris, Republican of Fort Wayne, who is terrified of the Girl Scouts.
Mr. Morris has, this afternoon, written a long, self-serving statement in which he first apologizes to the Girl Scouts of Indiana and their families, and then apologizes for not doing enough research about them, and then bashes them again: "My conscience would not allow me to publicly endorse an organization that partners with Planned Parenthood, our state's leading abortion provider. My family and I view abortion as the biggest evil of our time."
Morris goes on to cite a 2004 interview, in which the CEO of the Scouts said that the group partners with Planned Parenthood with regard to sex education for Girl Scouts: "To my knowledge, the Girl Scouts USA have not rescinded, corrected or denied that statement. If the Girl Scouts USA now denies the statement of its CEO, I challenge the organization to do so publicly, so that individuals are not confused as to the organization's ties to Planned Parenthood."
He also refers to a sister organization called the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, which "openly promotes sex education and access to contraception and other sexual and reproductive health services for young people. I cannot, in good conscience, honor an organization that supports such policies."
Because, of course, preventing unwanted pregnancies and helping unwed or unprepared mothers would reduce the number of Republican candidates for the statehouse in Indiana.
"It is my sincere hope that this statement will end the publicity with regard to my letter. I look forward to moving on to more important issues of state policy." Amazingly, that is the dumbest thing Representative Morris wrote in his whole fake apology: Bumpkin Update.
A political roast last night in Indianapolis saw a box of Girl Scout cookies at every table, wearing a label reading "Warning: Contents Radicalized." The speaker of the Indiana House attended, wearing a Girl Scout sash and merit badges. The speaker also mentioned, several times, that he'd researched all this on the Internet. The speaker, like poor Representative Morris, is a Republican.
But our winner? Wisconsin State Republican Representative Joel Kleefisch. He is the unintended star of one of the greatest short political videos of all time.
Tuesday, as a vote is called in the assembly, you see Kleefisch - in the white shirt - rise to cast one electronic vote on behalf of an absent colleague, and then cast another one. And then, Kleefisch sits down, and then he spots the cameraman in the public gallery, and he goes cold. Right there! He gets cold in places you didn't know you could get cold.
Assembly Rule 76 reads, "Only the members present in the Assembly chamber may vote."
Kleefisch was asked if he broke that rule and he answered, "It depends on how you interpret that rule."
True. He was in the chamber, and he voted. Three times. Kleefisch says it's character assassination against him and his wife, who is Scott Walker's lieutenant governor, who is also being recalled.
And the rest of his argument was: "Everybody does it, and why didn't that guy in the gallery take pictures of them?"
The punchline, of course, is that Representative Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc, who voted three separate times in the Wisconsin state assembly, voted for - and was an ardent supporter of - the bill that demands that all Wisconsin voters present photo IDs. Even though they only want to vote once each.
Wisconsin State Representative Joel "Vote Once, Vote Twice, Vote Three Times" Kleefisch - today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: HBO will be televising a movie next month about Sarah Palin who, if you will remember, was a vice presidential candidate in the 2008 presidential campaign. Believe it or not, Sarah Palin's camp isn't very happy about it.
In our number-one story - if you hated the book, you're going to hate the movie. In advance of next month's release of the HBO film "Game Change," based on the 2010 Mark Halperin and John Heilemann book of the same name, seven current and former advisers to Ms. Palin have launched a pre-emptive attack against the film, which they haven't seen.
Although Palin herself, who's played by Julianne Moore in the film, continues to feign a lack of interest:
(Excerpt from video clip) SARAH PALIN: I'm really not too concerned, though, about an HBO movie based on a false narrative when there are so many other things that we need to be concerned about. I honestly will not waste my time watching it, and I encourage others to find something else more productive to do.
OLBERMANN: Her defenders, however, are happy to discuss the film which they have not seen.
In a conference call with reporters yesterday, former Palin aide Jason Recher dismissed it as a "false narrative cobbled together by a group of people who simply weren't there." Even though he hasn't seen it.
Randy Scheunemann, who during the campaign was tasked with tutoring Palin on foreign policy matters - and what a job he did - added, "To call this movie fiction gives fiction a bad name." Even though he hasn't seen it.
And according to Palin's former spokeswoman Meg Stapleton, "Looking at the trailers alone gets my blood boiling." The trailers for a film that she hasn't seen.
In fact, the one minute, 47-second trailer is all they have seen. Their anger based solely on a few rather unflattering clips.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOODY HARRELSON: Oh my God, what have we done?
(Excerpt from video clip) MOORE: It wasn't my fault. I wasn't properly prepped. I miss my baby. I miss sleeping with my baby.
(Excerpt from video clip) HARRELSON: She's on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown.
(Excerpt from video clip) MOORE: They're telling me what to say, what to wear, how to talk. I am not your puppet.
OLBERMANN: Joined now by comedienne JC Coccoli. Good to talk to you. Thanks for your time tonight.
JC COCCOLI: Hey, thank you so much for having me on.
OLBERMANN: Why is the Palin camp making such a big deal out of this? Why would you go to the trouble of having a scheduled group conference call?
COCCOLI: You know, I honestly feel like they scheduled that conference call so they can all just high-five each other, because they're just so excited that she's back in the media. Why not?
OLBERMANN: I was just going to say - she's almost evaporated, publicity-wise, outside the Fox News bubble. Are they protesting too much here? Are they, in fact, trying to use this thing as a means of reinvigorating her base and tapping into that one American - true American spirit that she relies on, anger?
COCCOLI: Yeah. I mean, I feel like, with her, they're going to protest all they want, but really, in the end, they're just happy that she's back. And all these people that are employed by her, and right now that Bristol's not on "Dancing with the Stars" and the reality show is done, they're just going to look for something else to really push her through the media. And if it's not a sex tape - my God, just let it be this.
OLBERMANN: Well, of all those choices, thank you for picking this one correctly.
I mentioned - this was earlier - that it's Robert Lopez's birthday, the co-creator of "The Book of Mormon." There's a lesson here that nobody seems to learn from generation to generation. "Book of Mormon" - no Mormon protests, it's a hit. There's a waiting list, but it's not a frenzy. There's not stampedes. They haven't made a movie out of it yet.
"Monty Python's Life of Brian" - fringy film, Catholics protested, and it grossed $19 million in this country, in 1979 dollars, largely because of the protests.
Why doesn't anybody learn this? If you leave it alone, it might go away.
COCCOLI: I feel like, especially if you protest more, that film is going to be a hit now. People are going to protest and they're going to end up watching HBO more than they should. And really, like, in the end, if you would just let it silence, it would go away.
But now I say, "Keep it coming," and make, like, a thousand more films because her - her as a person - for me, in the media, is the best thing I've ever seen. I would watch a thousand shows just with her. An interview with her and Katie Couric, just on a loop, would be, like, the best film I've ever seen.
OLBERMANN: Could there have been a better strategy to approach on this thing, though? I mean, the co-authors are John Heilemann. I don't know who John Heilemann is. But Mark Halperin is a co-author. I know who that is, and I know he's the laughingstock of the profession. If they had just left this alone, wouldn't it have died of its own weight?
COCCOLI: Yeah, I mean, the book - I didn't read the book. I'm so busy just reading the Kardashian book, can't wait for another one. But I just really - I honestly do believe these are two journalists that took their story and just made a film out of it, and they had the opportunity to correct facts. I mean, I'm sure of it, but it is just one of those films. I'm pretty sure Jack didn't really fall in love with Rose on the Titanic, but we're going to certainly see that in 3-D. Why not?
OLBERMANN: On the other hand, there's not actually a way to check as to what happened on the Titanic, and this, we do have some reference.
COCCOLI: Very valid point.
OLBERMANN: Comedienne JC Coccoli, thanks for your time tonight.
COCCOLI: Thank you so much.
OLBERMANN: That's "Countdown" for this, the 414th day since John Boehner and the Republicans took the House. Thus, 414 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.