'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, March 16th, 2012
#ShowPlug 1: Romney's weird message: The economy is getting fixed; only I can fix the economy. @NiaWaPo Nia-Malika Henderson joins me
#ShowPlug 2: Plus the premise of the primary - that Gingrich is holding Santorum back - denied by a startling new poll.
#ShowPlug 3: Wisconsin State GOP Senator quits before recall; Golly, government may be abusing Patriot Act, + 2 segments w/ @TheLewisBlack
#ShowPlug PS: Rick Santorum ups anti-porn ante; is photographed shirtless in Puerto Rico by passing all-gay cruise guest #YouCouldntMakeItUp
#5 'Message Mess', Nia-Malika Henderson
#5 'Message Mess', Andy Kroll
#4 'Private Eyes', John Dean
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Total Recall', Graeme Zielinski
#2 'In God We Rust', Lewis Black
#1 'In God We Rust', Lewis Black
printable PDF transcript
On the show: John Dean, Nia-Malika Henderson, Lewis Black, Andy Kroll, Graeme Zielinski
KEITH OLBERMANN: Now on "Countdown" - polls, one. Conventional wisdom, nothing.
The second choice of Gingrich's supporters? Gallup survey says - 39 percent would pick Santorum, 40 percent would pick Romney. So would Gingrich disappearing help Santorum, or help neither of them?
Romney pulls ahead in Illinois -
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: I believe we're in a recovery mode, finally.
OLBERMANN: But that pertained not to him, but to the economy, which he has now - grudgingly - recognized has been improving.
Gingrich - I got ideas, big ideas, ideas that pay off.
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: Everywhere we went in Illinois yesterday, people said to Callista and me, "You have to stay in the race. You have to talk about big solutions like $2.50 a gallon gasoline."
OLBERMANN: Just charge it to your million dollar line of credit at Tiffany's.
Promising $2.50 gasoline. Oh, Bill -
(Excerpt from video clip) BILL O'REILLY: So, the next time you hear a politician say he or she will bring down oil prices, understand it's complete b.s.
OLBERMANN: Anatomy of a stupid campaign line. Last night on Fox -
(Excerpt from video clip) (Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I know he likes alternative energy, but I'd rather see an alternative president.
(Excerpt from video clip) SEAN HANNITY: So would I. I would like to see that as well, all right, good line.
OLBERMANN: So, Hannitized for your protection.
This morning on Fox -
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: He keeps on talking about alternative energy. The real thing we need is an alternative president.
OLBERMANN: They say you would be stunned if you knew what the government thinks the Patriot Act lets it do.
Senators Wyden and Udall warn the Justice Department - simmer down on unauthorized surveillance under Section 215.
Total recall. The GOP loses its majority in the Wisconsin state Senate, as one of its recall targets resigns.
And the Republican war on women escalates into the absurdity of this shrinking broadcaster's denial that there is one:
(Excerpt from video clip) RUSH LIMBAUGH: Republicans date women. They marry women. They have children with women. They take women to dinner. They buy women diamonds. They open car doors for women. Yet, there's this Republican war on women.
OLBERMANN: From Limbaugh's attack on sanity to Romney's silence about Limbaugh to Rahm Emanuel's line to Romney about Limbaugh - "If you can't stand up to Rush, how are you going to stand up to Russia?" - to Santorum's attack on the "pandemic harm from pornography," who better to respond than my special guest? The one and only Lewis Black.
(Excerpt from video clip) LEWIS BLACK: If a group of people, leaders, can convince a group of folks who barely have a pot to piss in that the rich shouldn't be taxed - that is leadership.
OLBERMANN: Plus, there's late-breaking shirtless Santorum news.
Good evening. This is Friday, March 16, 236 days until the 2012 presidential election.
Dramatic polling - I know that sounds like an oxymoron - nevertheless, dramatic polling suggesting tonight that the premise of the Republican presidential race is faulty, that Newt Gingrich dropping out might not only not help Rick Santorum, it might actually hurt him.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - all three candidates continue, seemingly, to hurt themselves.
Mitt Romney, tonight, in the weird position of simultaneously acknowledging the economy is getting fixed, but only he can fix the economy.
Former Massachusetts governor and family-dog abuser campaigning in Illinois today before flying to Puerto Rico to campaign for Sunday's primary, undermining his own message that only he can fix the economy with Fox News's Sean Hannity last night:
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I believe we're in a recovery mode, finally. No one can predict precisely what's going to happen in the economy, but I think it's likely things will get better.
OLBERMANN: Romney also trying out a knee-slapper of an attack on President Obama.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I know he likes alternative energy, but I'd rather see an alternative president.
OLBERMANN: Ha ha ha ha. He used the same line again on Fox this morning.
Meanwhile, Romney's garbled message about Planned Parenthood - the "We're going to get rid of that" - at the center of a Democratic National Committee ad aimed at Illinois' women voters.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Here's what women need to know about Mitt Romney: Romney says he wants to get rid of Planned Parenthood, ending federal support for critical health-care services like cancer screenings for thousands of women here in Illinois.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that.
OLBERMANN: Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, the former Obama chief of staff, with his own message for Governor Romney: "Take a look at the fortitude, the strength and determination and the vision the president made on the auto industry and juxtapose it to Mitt Romney, who doesn't have the fortitude, the strength or the character - in my view - to stand up to Rush Limbaugh."
Heading into Tuesday's GOP Illinois primary, with 69 delegates at stake, a Fox News "We Ask America" poll showing likely Republican voters favoring Romney over Santorum by six, Gingrich lagging 14, Ron Paul trailing undecided by eight. More worrisome, perhaps, for the GOP - 43 percent of likely Illinois Republican voters admitting they wished another candidate was running - which might be news to Gingrich.
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: Everywhere we went in Illinois yesterday, people said to Callista and me, "You have to stay in the race. You have to talk about big solutions." Our challenge is to translate that into more delegates.
OLBERMANN: Good luck with that.
Many of the most conservative Republicans seeming more concerned with who would get Gingrich's voters if and when he gave up and dropped out, but a new Gallup poll showing Republican voters and GOP-leaning independents supporting Gingrich would give Romney 40 percent of their votes. He's their second choice. Santorum would get 39 percent. He's their third choice if Gingrich dropped out, contradicting the essential assumption of this primary - that Santorum would be the almost sole beneficiary if Gingrich withdrew.
Santorum, meanwhile, assuring supporters who visit his website that he's really against pornography. Really, really. Writing, "Every family must now be concerned about the harm from pornography. While the Obama Department of Justice seems to favor pornographers over children and families, that will change under a Santorum administration."
A little thing called the Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, might keep that from happening.
It would be too late for this, regardless. Nothing in the Constitution prevents this. It's a photo of Santorum, courtesy of BuzzFeed, on the beach in Puerto Rico. The photo caption claiming it was shot by a passenger on an all-gay cruise. Santorum confirms it's him. Obviously, it was shot from a boat at this resort. He also says, with some self-deprecating humor, that he "apologizes to everybody for needing to lose 15-20 pounds."
Meanwhile, Senator Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley also tried to sort out Santorum's earlier problems this week with the Constitution, when he claimed it required that Puerto Rico had to adopt English as its official language before it could possibly become a state.
(Excerpt from video clip) HOGAN GIDLEY: It wasn't a prerequisite to statehood. That's not what he was saying.
OLBERMANN: It seems spokesman Gidley got Santorum's message wrong on that.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SANTORUM: As a condition for admission that people would - would and could speak both languages, but would have to speak English. That would be a requirement - it's a requirement that we put on other states as a condition for entering the union, for them to participate, as a state, in the United States - then, you need to participate in the language that the people speak in the States.
OLBERMANN: Uh-huh. Then, Gidley's messaging a little confused, after he was shown that tape.
(Excerpt from video clip) GIDLEY: The point I think he still was trying to make was is it's important for members of the union in America to be able to speak English.
OLBERMANN: Funny, Mitt Romney's attacks notwithstanding, I never thought of Rick Santorum as pro-union.
Finally, a message from Osama bin Laden from beyond the grave, courtesy of The Washington Post. The al-Qaida leader, in the months before the Navy SEALs put bullets in his chest and head, calling on his network to assassinate General David Petraeus and President Obama.
Bin Laden had written, "Obama is the head of infidelity. And killing him automatically will make Biden take over the presidency. Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis."
His American-born media adviser also writing bin Laden a memo suggesting that he release a video directly to all American TV news operations - which he saw as the same - except for Fox, because the adviser said, "It had sunk into an abyss."
Al-Qaida thought itself morally superior to Fox News.
A look at the Gingrich getting out poll in a moment.
First, the GOP overview - and Nia-Malika Henderson, national political reporter with The Washington Post and "Countdown" contributor. Good evening, Nia.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Hey there, Keith. It's good to be here.
OLBERMANN: It's good to have you. Mitt Romney has been something of a machine, churning out these remarkable quotes, but the big message - the one that's supposed to put him in the White House - only candidate can fix economy. What happens to that when even he admits we're in recovery mode?
HENDERSON: Well, that's a good question. On the side of his bus, he has "conservative business leader." And, of course, he's been having trouble convincing people that he's conservative, trouble convincing people that he's much of a leader. And the business part was, you know, basically the bread and butter of his campaign, this idea that he was a turnaround artist with different business and, of course, with the Olympics.
But with the economy getting better now, you can almost imagine that the Obama campaign will cut an ad with Mitt Romney saying that the economy is in a recovery.
Now, his argument had been it's in a recovery, but he can make the recovery go faster. So, you imagine that maybe he'll turn back to that, as well. But you also have Rick Santorum admitting the same thing - that the economy is getting better, and that is a campaign that should not be just fought on the economy but on other issues, social issues, which, of course, Santorum has brought up time and time again on this campaign.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of cutting ads - we've been talking about Romney and the comments on Planned Parenthood since he made them on Tuesday. And it's pretty clear what he tried to say, and then tried walking it back on Wednesday, and tried walking it back on Thursday. But that sound bite - and what is conveyed by it, even if it wasn't what he meant - that's not going away.
How - using that as an example, how does a campaigner, supposedly an experienced candidate like Romney, avoid unforced errors like that and is there some way - is there somebody responsible for keeping his focused? Is there the prospect that they just shut him down from interviews, or keep - minimize the number of times he could make these mistakes?
HENDERSON: And you see that they have, in some ways, tried to do that. But the problem, I think, they had with shutting him down from interviews was that you had Gingrich and you had Santorum out there giving interview after interview on Fox.
HENDERSON: And so, that's been a problem. But it is surprising that - here you have a candidate who has been running for some form of public office for the better part for two decades, and this is a good as he can - can deliver in terms of avoiding gaffes. He's been very much gaffe-prone over these last many months, whether it's about talking about his wealth, or talking awkwardly about the trees in Michigan.
And you feel like he has a campaign team that doesn't really serve him well.
Here is a candidate that very much looked inevitable going into this thing, but you see some, I think, weakness in terms of his staff not being able to sit him down and give him a real message on not only - for his wealth to and explain that - but also, what is the reason for running for president? What is his rationale for wanting to replace Barack Obama?
OLBERMANN: If messaging is our theme, here for the first part of our conversation tonight - Santorum's message regarding Puerto Rico and the Constitution on the eve of the Puerto Rico primary, and, if every delegate counts, then that primary counts a lot on Sunday.
And his spokesman's inability to come up with some sort of convincing explanation, even when that sound bite was played in which it sounded as if Mr. Santorum was saying that every time we've admitted a state to the union, we've made sure everybody there spoke English, as if that happened to, you know, Ohio in the 1820s or something.
How do you - how do you succeed around somebody misinformed, and then a spokesman who can't just correct it by saying, "Yeah, he screwed that one up," or whatever he needed to say to get out of it and kill that thing off?
HENDERSON: Yeah, I think they're just hoping this campaign in Puerto Rico comes and goes. It looks like Romney is pretty strong there. He's got the endorsement of the governor.
But this - when looking at that clip of Rick Santorum talking there, he looked very much like a guy who hadn't read his briefing book on Puerto Rico and hadn't really studied the issues. There's a referendum for statehood in November in Puerto Rico. And, and you've seen some of this. You've seen, for instance, interviewers ask the governor of Puerto Rico about immigration, of course. That - those sorts of issues don't really apply to Puerto Rico since it is a commonwealth, and since Puerto Ricans are American citizens. So, that's what it seemed like to me.
But again, I think you do have a campaign - Santorum's campaign - that is still a rag-tag campaign. They don't have a lot of publicists. They don't have a lot of strategists there, and so, sometimes, I think you can see the sort of ragged edges of that campaign seeping through, and I think this was a prime example of that.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, I don't want a show for the media, but don't you sometimes get the feeling that if you were running for office you could - we probably would have a better grasp of, at least, how to answer people's questions than almost everybody who's run for office nationally in the last, say, 35 years?
HENDERSON: In some ways, yes. I mean, because I think - you know, I think again, in that clip, you saw Santorum sort of relying on these red-meat sort of talking points around English and English proficiency, and it just didn't work for him.
But again, I think they're just wanting this thing to get over with, and to really turn it to Illinois on Tuesday and then Louisiana on Thursday.
OLBERMANN: Sometimes when you're running, you just want to lie out by the pool, and what happens happens.
Nia-Malika Henderson of The Washington Post, "Countdown" contributor, great thanks. Have a good weekend.
HENDERSON: Thank you, take care.
OLBERMANN: For more on the Gingrich supporters' supposed even split between Romney and Santorum and the rest of the upcoming GOP primary slate, I'm joined by Andy Kroll, staff reporter with Mother Jones. Andy, good evening.
ANDY KROLL: Great to be here.
OLBERMANN: Would you contest the results of that poll - that Gingrich's supporters' second choice is Romney 40 percent, Santorum 39 percent?
KROLL: I'll admit to being a bit surprised by the poll, but the thing that you've got to keep in mind is - for as much as conservative voters, even very conservative voters, as described in that poll - as much as they love Rick Santorum because he's really - you know, he gnaws on the red-meat issues that social conservatives like - they want Barack Obama out of the White House. They don't want someone who is not, you know, an electable candidate, who is not going to appeal to a broader Republican base.
And so, I think this split - these Gingrich voters, you know, as conservative as they may be, you know, they see - one, Mitt Romney as someone who talks somewhat better about the economy than Rick Santorum does. You know, he's not mentioning Satan or, you know, spouting falsehoods about English language in Puerto Rico.
And they also see Mitt Romney as someone who's just, frankly, more electable. He's not as divisive as Santorum. And I think that this poll, showing where Gingrich voters would go afterward, you know, is indicative of the slight advantage that Mitt Romney does has over Rick Santorum.
OLBERMANN: Do you think the numbers are a little bit skewed, that maybe the question - they phrased the question incorrectly? In other words - not, "Who's your second choice?" but, "If Gingrich dropped out, would you support Santorum or Romney?" Is that not a cleaner way to get the correct number?
KROLL: Yeah, I mean that would have - that makes more sense. And I wouldn't be surprised if it tilted it slightly more toward Rick Santorum, instead of this 40 percent for Romney and 39.
But I still think that the core message of this poll is accurate and it reflects something that has been a bit overlooked. Namely, that voters, in the end - as conservative as they may be - they want someone who's going to get Obama out of the White House, who talks about repealing the Affordable Care Act, who talks about all the kinds of the things that Obama has done, and is going to roll those back in. Whether they're all the way to the right or they're slightly more moderate, you know, that's the core thing and I think this poll really hammers that point home.
OLBERMANN: Doesn't this - I mean, this number coming out on a Friday and sort of getting buried in the weekend - in beginning of the weekend - help Santorum? Because if this thing hit in the middle of the week, wouldn't it do a - take a huge hunk out of the premise of his campaign and, particularly, against those sort of low-level murmurs that his people have put out that, "It's really time for Gingrich to get out, so all of his support would come to us." Wouldn't that just pretty much put a, perhaps, fatal dent in the middle of that argument?
KROLL: It completely kneecaps the Santorum campaign.
I mean, here's the key - the Santorum campaign has openly admitted they're not going to win the delegate fight, but they want to drag this thing out and make it as bloody as possible, as drawn out as possible, and take it all the way to the convention in Tampa.
To do that, Mitt Romney has to stay in the 25 to 30 percent range, just like he did in Alabama and Mississippi. You know, he's not winning all the delegates. He's winning some, but the Santorum campaign needs to keep him there.
The moment Newt Gingrich drops out, we're going to see Mitt Romney jump up to the 30s and the 40s. He's going to bag ten or 12 more delegates in these states, even if he doesn't win. He's still going to get delegates like did he in Alabama and Mississippi. And that's the Santorum campaign strategy out the window.
I mean, they have no chance, really, when Newt gets out. I mean, maybe this is the reason Newt is appealing to Santorum's people, and Newt is lingering as long as he has, because the writing is on the wall.
OLBERMANN: Give me a quick preview of Puerto Rico on Sunday, especially in the wake of what Santorum said about statehood and English speaking and the fact that the governor is a friend of his, but the governor still endorsed Romney. That's a mess, trying to predict that, isn't it?
KROLL: Yeah, and I've been reading the English-language newspapers down there and, frankly, this English-language gaffe of Rick Santorum's is really the only thing that people are talking about.
I mean, when we have a packed primary and caucus calendar like this one - rapid-fire states - really only one big hit in the news is the kind of thing that sinks in. This is the thing sinking in, this gaffe from Rick Santorum. Couple that with the endorsement from Puerto Rico's governor for Mitt Romney, and really - the state and its 23 delegates are looking like they're going to go to Mitt Romney.
OLBERMANN: Well, maybe Santorum can change the dialogue by publicizing that photograph - the resort-side photograph from today.
KROLL: I can't imagine that will help.
OLBERMANN: Who knows? Andy Kroll - it's hard to figure out with primaries and Republicans - Andy Kroll of Mother Jones. Have a great weekend, thanks for your time tonight.
KROLL: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The Republican campaign and the conservative campaign against women and, of course, the picture of Rick Santorum. We will let the great Lewis Black loose on all that. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: You keep using that part of the Patriot Act. I do not think it means what you think it means. The message from two Democratic senators about Section 215 and the right the government thinks it has to spy on you right now.
And, from the attack on women to the absurdities of the Republican race - two segments with Lewis Black.
OLBERMANN: This will certainly shock you - the government may be abusing the Patriot Act.
In our fourth story on the "Countdown" - Democratic Senators Mark Udall and Ron Wyden have urged the Obama administration to release secret court rulings that grant the government wide-ranging domestic surveillance powers under the Patriot Act.
In a letter to Attorney General Holder, the senators note Freedom of Information Act requests by the ACLU and The New York Times, writing, "We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted Section 215 of the Patriot Act. As we see it there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows."
Section 215 allows the FISA court - the Covert Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court tribunal - to authorize warrants to secretly monitor the electronic records of any person in the U.S.
And while the Justice Department continues to argue that disclosing sensitive information compromises national security, Udall and Wyden argue that, in this case, "In recent months, we have grown increasingly skeptical about the actual value of the intelligence-collection operation. This has come as a surprise to us, as we were initially inclined to take the executive branch's assertions about the importance of this operation at face value."
Let's turn to John Dean, White House Counsel during the Nixon administration, author of "Broken Government," and "Countdown" contributor. John, good evening.
JOHN DEAN: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The ACLU suggested, today, it received a first batch of documents confirming that these Justice Department opinions about this Section 215 exist, but the ACLU said they're not holding their breath for any meaningful explanation from the government. Do we expect to learn anything substantial from these documents about what 215 is being used for?
DEAN: Well, given the time it has taken to produce these documents, I don't think anything. They've probably been busy redacting most of the information in them, and hoping if there's anything there, the ACLU or anyone else will not be able to glean much from it. They're truly, clearly - this is a way to keep a law that they believe means one thing very secret, and they're doing a good job of it.
OLBERMANN: But, clearly, Senators Wyden and Udall think they - they think they know what they think they know here anyway, and they must be disturbed by what they think they know to want to go public in this way.
A) Will we ever find out what has alarmed them? And B) What do you think has alarmed them?
DEAN: Well, you know, I think they do get briefings as part of the Oversight Committee, so they have a pretty good sense of, probably, what is going on. And while they don't want to disclose sources and methods, they're seeing a product that is chilling them. And we have, really, some canaries right there in the shaft that are singing still, and we don't often have that in these situations.
So, the fact that they're being largely ignored by people who should be listening to them is a little startling.
Whether we'll ever know - I think history teaches, Keith, we will know. Every president who has tried to do this by his own interpretation of the law since the intelligence community was first formed has always been pulled up short and had a very unpleasant surprise when the American public learned what they were really up to.
OLBERMANN: So, the gist of what we do know about this is that Section 215 - the Section 215 of the Patriot Act - reads one way, but the government reads it differently, and it uses its reading to surveil, to spy on citizens that would make us mere citizens think, "That's - that's got to be illegal," but the government doesn't think so.
DEAN: Yeah, 215 - if you recall the debate on it, it was very alarming the time it was in the law. It's a provision in which nobody is told if they are the subject of this kind of inquiry, this kind of warrant that gathers information from their library records to their bank books to their Internet service provider.
Whoever it is - and these senators have seen something that is even more striking than some of the issues that came up during the debate - that's troubled them. So, I'm - we're all curious to know what it is, but I don't think we'll know by the release that is coming out right now.
OLBERMANN: Civil liberties were not exactly marginal issues in the 2008 presidential campaign, and the Democratic party was explicit about closing Guantanamo Bay, revisiting the Patriot Act, at least promising greater transparency about all of these things. Do you have a sense that, in this campaign, this issue has flat-lined?
DEAN: Well, Keith, I'm very stunned at the Obama administration. I keep scratching my head trying to figure out what is going on, and I'm trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, given the campaign positions they took. I keep I'm wondering if George Bush - when he packed that Justice Department with John Ashcroft and then, later, Alberto Gonzales, loading it up with career people - that that's what they're dealing with, and that's influencing their decision-making, and they can't get these people out of the system, and they're afraid to take them on in an election year.
So, who knows what is actually going on? But I don't know what is going to happen on this one.
OLBERMANN: Well, surely, I mean, we know that - every president has found out that the intelligent agencies - intelligence agencies - I called them intelligent, for some inexplicable reason - so, the intelligence agencies have a life of their own and have a will of their own, but surely a president and an attorney general could fight back against the careerists inside them, couldn't they?
DEAN: To some degree. In a real sense, Keith, a president - any sitting president - is something of a captured person by the intelligence community and the national security community he inherits. Those don't turn over very quickly. They're mostly career positions. While the top - the policymakers, theoretically, are setting the policy, but that day-to-day grind of activity is often career people. So, there is not a huge influence.
And, I don't know why Obama hasn't been stronger in this area and more sensitive to civil liberties, but his record isn't very good so far.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, but unfortunately, in respect to this, he'll always be the candidate who has the best record on it.
John Dean, former White House Counsel, author of "Broken Government," and a "Countdown" contributor. Great thanks, as always, sir.
DEAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Why wait to be recalled when you just can outright quit? The unexpected news that - a year after Scott Walker's overreach - the Republicans have just lost their majority in the Wisconsin state Senate.
OLBERMANN: At least one recalled Republican in Wisconsin just gives up and goes home, and Lewis Black is here.
First the "Sanity Break," and on this date in 1884 was born the actor Harrison Ford. That is not a typo.
The first Harrison Ford, leading man - who made his Broadway debut in "Ranson's Folly" in 1904, and his silent film debut in 1915's "Excuse Me" - apparently no relation to the current Harrison Ford, and the first, who died in 1957, doesn't need the connection.
The star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of the famous Musso and Frank's Restaurant that reads "Harrison Ford," that's for the first one.
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Bubbles delight a young toddler.
We begin with the TMO Adorable Clip of the Day.
Look, bubbles! And if this doesn't make you smile - nothing, frankly, ever will.
It went on that way for 12 days. That's the exact same way Wall Street acted during the real estate bubble.
VIDEO:Canadian singer-songwriter nails "The Star-Spangled Banner," forgets word to "O, Canada."
In sports - Ottawa-based singer-songwriter Tara Holloway is performing the "Star-Spangled Banner" - that's ours - and "O, Canada" - that's theirs - before a Senators-Buffalo Sabres game.
"The Star-Spangled Banner" goes off without a hitch. "O, Canada" is off to a good start - until she gets to the part in French.
(Excerpt from video clip) TARA HOLLOWAY: Oh, keep our land glorious and free.
OLBERMANN: Thanks to the help from the crowd, she steered away from that verse about "Do you have any Grey Poupon?"
VIDEO: Students explode steaming barrel in a pool of ice water.
Finally, we end - as we always do - with an imploding barrel.
This group of students is attempting what I hope is some sort of school experiment, using something called science.
This heated-up barrel filled with a little bit of water should implode when placed into a tub of ice.
Everybody out of the pool!
The barrel is moved to the tub, and - nothing whatsoever happens. But, add a little water, and then - boom! goes the barrel filled with steam.
I think it goes without saying, but don't try this at home, maybe.
"Time Marches On!"
The right's war on women is just a new front on its war on - the equilibrium of Lewis Black. My special guest joins us presently.
OLBERMANN: You can't recall me, I quit.
In our third story on the "Countdown" - Republicans lose the majority in the Wisconsin state Senate as one of the recall targets there, state Senator Pam Galloway, resigns.
Earlier this week, Wisconsin's government accountability board it said it had enough petitions to hold the special elections, potentially forcing Galloway and three other Republican state senators from their seats. Galloway then cited multiple sudden and serious health issues in her family as reasons for stepping down, although three days ago she had given no hint of her resignation.
(Excerpt from audio clip) PAM GALLOWAY: We're definitely prepared for this election. The reason I'm being recalled is because the Democrat party is trying to change of the composition of the legislature.
OLBERMANN: The senator's withdrawal shakes up the state's Republican stronghold, and it splits the normally 33-seat state Senate down the middle - 16/16 between Republicans and Democrats. It also puts a temporary power-share arrangement in place. The top Democrat and the top Republican will co-lead the chamber until the June 5th elections.
A year ago the Republicans had the majority, and Galloway supported Governor Walker's GOP laws putting strict curbs on collective bargaining by public employees. That sparked huge union protests and the first round of the recall elections in the Senate. Galloway also drafted a law that allowed gun owners to carry concealed weapons.
The recall elections will go forward, as scheduled, without Galloway on their ballot, including those against Governor Walker, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and three other Republican state Senators, including Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.
Joining me now - Graeme Zielinski, communications director of the Democratic party of Wisconsin. Graeme, good evening.
GRAEME ZIELINSKI: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Majority Leader Fitzgerald was quoted as saying that the recall effort had nothing to do with Galloway's decision to resign. Was it something else, and was the timing really that extraordinarily awkward for them?
ZIELINSKI: Well, you'd have to ask Senator Galloway. And certainly, our thoughts and prayers are with her, but the fact is, she was going to lose her election - 29,000 people had called for her recall. There was very little chance that she was going to be able to defend this seat. She sided with the Scott Walker extremist agenda. But her resignation leads to a total break on Scott Walker's agenda here in Wisconsin.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, what, exactly, happens now? Is it - does he really have to shut that whole thing down until at least the recall vote, if not longer?
ZIELINSKI: Well look, he's already - his big pieces of legislation, his terrible budget, all the rollbacks of Wisconsin freedoms like voter I.D. - that's already passed. And they just had a legislative session where they focused on floating Porta Potties and changing the licensing for barbers and cosmetologists. They didn't focus on jobs.
But what has already happened - in the last several hours, we've learned that they've canceled the hearing on some mining legislation that Scott Walker failed to get through this past session, and there is no chance now of a special session for Scott Walker to ram through any more nutty stuff. So, this has already had consequences in the last couple hours, and we expect there to be more. It's going to change the composition of the powerful Joint Finance Committee, it's going to change the composition of the Senate Organization Committee. This is unchartered waters. Wisconsin has never been here.
But the fact of the matter is - Democrats were going to win that seat in June when we have the election, and we have every anticipation that we will be in control of the Senate entirely at the end of the June 5th general election.
OLBERMANN: What happens to that - the recall vote - now? Do your resources reallocate it? I mean, it obviously goes on as planned, but what happens in her district and what happens relative to what you can do with resources throughout the state?
ZIELINSKI: Well - resources? Go to www.wisdems.org to talk about resources. We're getting outspent twelve-to-one here. So, resources is a good question.
But what happens is, there still will be a recall election. We expect that the Republicans will put another tea party extremist up there, against our excellent candidate.
We have a very excellent candidate up there, a former-law enforcement woman who's one of our leaders and a strong advocate for women in the Assembly named Donna Seidel. So, she's going to be still running that race, and we expect her to win that seat. But we're still going to have to run a tough race up there.
Look, they have ten times more money than we do. Scott Walker is out there with his damn palms out in places like Palm Beach and New York and everywhere. They're going to have money, and we're going to have to fight for every single thing that we win. But we fully intend to win that seat and we fully intend to be in charge of, not just the governorship, but the Senate by the end of the June 5th general election.
OLBERMANN: Of course, everything - ultimately - that he and the Koch brothers and the other people funding him and the Republican party in Wisconsin have tried to do to the state of Wisconsin has really - it's been like a playground thing. It bounces off of them - off of you and sticks to them. They really have been the engine of positive change in Wisconsin, ultimately.
Certainly, it's - those have been the early indicators dating back to the dates of the extraordinary protests of last winter, have they not?
ZIELINSKI: Well, it's been a lollapalooza for the right wing here. In fact, some of the - they just had a 30-hour marathon session in the Assembly where they were focused on making it harder for 12-year-old girls who are raped by their father to seek medical attention - some of this really nutty stuff that you've seen.
They didn't do anything on jobs. Wisconsin lead the nation in job loss in 2011, by the way, even with all their supposed pro-business legislation.
So, the Koch brothers still have their dirty little fingers in our state. They're still pouring money here on behalf of Scott Walker. Scott Walker had still got his hands out to hedge-fund managers and oil billionaires. And, oh - by the way - he just set up a criminal defense fund, the first governor in Wisconsin history to have a criminal defense fund so he can pay for his silk-stocking mob lawyers who are trying to keep him out of jail. So, it's going to be an interesting period here.
OLBERMANN: Well, remember they may have been pro-business, but it does not mean that they were pro-"people who work for businesses." That, as you know, are two entirely different things.
ZIELINSKI: I'd like to say that the businesses that they favor are bumper-sticker manufacturers and criminal defense lawyers. They've been very good for criminal defense lawyers and bumper-sticker manufacturers.
OLBERMANN: High-end defense lawyers.
OLBERMANN: Graeme Zielinski, communications director of the Democratic party of Wisconsin. Thanks for your time, have a good weekend.
ZIELINSKI: Happy St. Pat's.
OLBERMANN: "How could there be a Republican war on women," Rush Limbaugh asks, "When Republicans take women to dinner?"
There is a deep disconnect going on inside that mind. I'll ask Lewis Black what it might be.
OLBERMANN: I've got a lot to ask of the insightful and hilarious Lewis Black. But usually, I just ask one question and then we go in whatever direction the conversation carries us. So promoting the contents of this segment is kind of pointless. We're going to just do it. Next.
OLBERMANN: Anyone who follows politics closely - in particular, conservatives closely - will tell you that every day a politician says something that makes you want to scream and pull out your hair.
In our number two story - no one epitomizes this feeling better then comedian Lewis Black, whose new special "In God We Rust" premiers tomorrow night on Epix.
(Excerpt from video clip) BLACK: If a group of people, leaders, can convince a group of folks, who barely have a pot to piss, in that the rich shouldn't be taxed, that is leadership. These are leaders who live in the past, and yet want to decide what we do in the future. That doesn't even make for a good movie.
OLBERMANN: Joining me now - somehow, with still some voice left -comedian and author Lewis Black, whose "In God we Rust" comedy special premieres tomorrow night on Epix. Good to see you, sir.
BLACK: Good to see you.
OLBERMANN: You - the war on women that the Republicans are waging, of course, it always seems like today's headlines have been designed just to promote your latest special or book, right? That's the first thing we know.
But they're digging themselves in a hole deeper in than the Second Avenue subway construction. Rush Limbaugh has now denied that there is a Republican or conservative war on women because - let me play this just to get your reaction. Just play - listen to this.
(Excerpt from video clip) LIMBAUGH: Republicans date women. They marry women. They have children with women. They take women to dinner. They buy women diamonds. They open car doors for women. Yet, there's this Republican war on women.
OLBERMANN: So, because they open the doors still for women, there's no war on women. There's a disconnect in this man. What is - what is this?
BLACK: The possibility is that aliens are trying to communicate with us through him, and it's screwed his wiring. So, as a result, he's kind of living in this place. There's, like, no - I don't know what the - part of the memory - you know, he's got his memory, but then there is no sense of today. There's no sense of - there can't be any sense of now.
BLACK: Maybe - so, he's like in a permanent "Groundhog Day." He wakes up, and it's always, like, 1959.
OLBERMANN: August 3, 1959.
BLACK: I mean, because it's really - I mean, to live through this - to listen to this stuff again, this is stuff that, when I was young - this is - this is what we were supposed to have worked through, and then we kind of go back through it every so often. But, I really did think once - does he look at a calendar? Does he say, "Oh, it is the 21st century." We're supposed to be - we're in the 21st century. This is Buck Rogers's time, for God's sake.
OLBERMANN: This is what we were looking forward to it, when it would all be better.
BLACK: It was.
OLBERMANN: I was talking to somebody who - who says - who follows the Republicans very closely and has contacts and, you know, sends notes over the transom and gets them back - that the leadership of the Republican party does not want this war on women, that they think it's a disaster for them at all levels of the election in November - Senate and the House and, obviously, for the presidency. And they're trying to tamp it down.
I don't think they're doing a good job of this. This is - trans-vaginal ultrasounds for God's sakes? What are we talking about?
BLACK: What are we talking about? I didn't even know what it was, until they brought it up.
OLBERMANN: Amy Poehler said it was her favorite airline, Trans-Vaginal.
BLACK: Yeah, and the other one - I heard the thing that it was somebody's favorite rock group. You know, it's, like, unbelievable. They consider - they just - how did this - how does it work that they end up - Or, send women out.
I'll listen to this - if you can send a group of women out who will talk like that and say, "You know, I love that men" - you know, those - then I'll listen. I will sit there, and I will listen. But to have men babbling this nonsense - no, send out the women who still believe that - the women who like to be at home, the women who are really happy that the man is the provider - all that.
OLBERMANN: The August, 1959 Club.
BLACK: But what - this governor of Pennsylvania, the other day, who said, "Oh, they don't have to watch the ultrasounds, they can just keep their eyes closed."
OLBERMANN: And I'm thinking, "Hey, buddy," - those of you who have religious objections to women's health, or helping rape victims or abortion, why don't you keep your eyes closed?
OLBERMANN: This works both ways. But they can't. They must interfere, right?
BLACK: They have a - they have a - I don't understand why - why they feel the need to be involved. If it's on religious grounds.
If I was a - let's say I was a Catholic, and really liked Santorum, a real Catholic, and I believed in the Almighty, and the pope, and all of it, then nothing would thrill me more than to sit back and watch all of these people who I know are going to hell. I would have a lot more free time, you know.
I - what does he need to worry about it for? If you believe in this God that is going to send these people and going to punish them, why do you need to be involved?
OLBERMANN: Right, just cross them off the list. And go, "Okay, next," - I tried to talk to somebody who's more reasonable, who's not going to hell.
BLACK: Look - we work over and over to get to this point where women have this right of choice, you know, and you're going to try - why are you - you know it's over. The ballgame is over. You don't get to try to put a little tripwire in-between, so we have to go back and go, "Okay, can you remove the tripwire?"
OLBERMANN: All right, I want to talk to you about the presidential campaign per se, but I'm going to let them sell some stuff, okay?
BLACK: Let's sell some things.
OLBERMANN: Sell some stuff, and then -
BLACK: Let's sell some trans-vaginal ultrasounds.
OLBERMANN: They could be a sponsor. I'm not sure - we'll be back with Lewis Black in a moment. Let's see what the sponsors are.
OLBERMANN: We rejoin you, as promised, with Lewis Black, whose special "In God we Rust" premieres Saturday on Epix.
I mean, we talked on the war on women. Let me ask you about the GOP race.
Rick Santorum versus porn today, the same day a photograph of him shirtless appears. Here's that photograph - taken, taken by a guy on an all-gay cruise who happened to be going past the resort. Like, if I sat and dreamed this stuff up, I would never come up with that last - that last punch there.
But he wants - he said, "Pornography causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences." So, he wants to stop women, he wants to stop them having babies and sex, and then he doesn't want men to have porn. What kind of world is he planning on?
BLACK: Well, thatt's going to be a long day for most of us. It's really going to be - it's going to be a 72-hour day. You're going to be able to get a lot more done. I mean -
OLBERMANN: Until the back of your head just spontaneously booms out.
BLACK: I mean, why he - porn, of all things - at this point in time. Seriously, on an Internet that is just, you know, making a gazillion - people, just regular couples, the couple next door doing their own footage and sending it out for whatever. And if, you know - and really, okay, if you want to do that - I read the article, and I said, "You know, if you really want to do that, just - you know, if you want to go after them, tax them."
Don't go, "Oh, we're going to get rid of it." Go, "What we're going to do is, we're going to tax them a lot. You want to see this? We're going to tax you a lot." Then, at least, I get it. Then, at least, you're raising funds. 'Cause I don't know - I don't know what else he's doing except wandering around, like in the desert. It's like having this weird prophet who's kind of, like, in the wrong decade.
OLBERMANN: We are going to put all the toothpaste back in all the tubes - we're going to go back in time. 'Cause if they taxed it, then the budget deficit would be closed in an hour and a half, right after the first day of the revenues. All right, so that's Mr. Santorum.
Mr. Romney, who - by the way - could close the budget deficit by himself. Do you think he'd be doing better if he didn't remind people once a week how much money he had?
BLACK: It's really - how does he not learn that after a while? I mean, how do you - you have gone through this. You've gone through one campaign, now you're going through the other - you're going through this again. But, at some point, it doesn't stick. You know, it's just - he's been a part of that club for so long.
OLBERMANN: And they all think it's a great thing, and that's the only thing that matters.
BLACK: You know, my feeling is - that I've been saying and not many people agree - but that I really liked his dad. And I think his dad, even though he's dead, may be a better candidate and more compassionate than the guys left running.
OLBERMANN: Compassionate after this - I keep saying that the Seamus the dog story - we haven't seen the beginning of this yet, that most people don't have any idea that he tied this animal in the little kennel on top of the roof and drove all the way to Toronto with the poor guy on top. After he got all scared and crapped himself, and they had to hose him down and everything - that whole story hasn't come out yet.
People don't understand what Americans think about dogs, right?
BLACK: Yeah, that's going to be a big one. And Gail Collins in The Times, to her credit - in everything she's written, pretty much in the last eight months, she always puts it in.
OLBERMANN: And "Letterman."
BLACK: And "Letterman."
OLBERMANN: Dave does the same thing every night.
BLACK: Well, you've got to tell - I mean, it is, like - you put him on top of the car!
OLBERMANN: Okay, and something bad happens - so, clearly, that's how dogs react to terror. So then, what do you do? You put him back on, after you hose down the car and the dog. And I'm just, you know, I'm thinking if a president of the United States did this, he'd be impeached.
BLACK: Oh, yeah.
OLBERMANN: And there'd be this grounds - politicians would never know what hit them. - "Why did we have to impeach him?" "He did that to a dog, right?"
Two words - it's not the same thing - but the two words to remember: Michael Vick, and people's reaction to Michael Vick.
BLACK: Yeah, that's true.
OLBERMANN: So, you're the guest and I spent the last 40 seconds just talking.
BLACK: No, but I really liked hearing it.
OLBERMANN: Well, good.
BLACK: I'm glad somebody is pointing it out, because it is unbelievable. If it was a cat, then I don't -
OLBERMANN: Well, the cat probably would get down and drive the car. So, you wouldn't have to worry about it.
"In God We Rust" premieres tomorrow on Epix. Lewis Black, always a pleasure, and I really appreciate your coming in.
BLACK: Oh, I enjoyed it.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir.
All right, that's "Countdown." Congratulations of getting through another week of this crap. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.