'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
#ShowPlug 1: Florida State Senator calls for Special Prosecutor in Trayvon Martin case; City police chief takes leave of absence
#ShowPlug 2: Contributor @JonathanTurley analyzes the case, and the fatally flawed Florida "Stand Your Ground" law
#ShowPlug 3: Cake-And-Eat-It-Too: POTUS stops XL Pipeline; approves part of it. Romney '06 quotes surface: was OPPOSED to more, cheaper gas
#ShowPlug Last: Even Sen. Hutchinson recognizes GOP War on Women; Your right to keep your Facebook private from possible employers
#5 Breaking news on Trayvon Martin, Gary Siplin (D-FL)
#5 Breaking news on Trayvon Martin, Jonathan Turley
#4 'Political Pipeline', Sam Stein
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Mitty Endorsement', Andy Kroll
#2 'War On Women', Irin Carmon
#1 'Dislike', Ben Wizner
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Jonathan Turley, Gary Siplin, Sam Stein, Andy Kroll, Irin Carmon, Ben Wizner
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
(Excerpt from video clip) BILL LEE: I have come to the decision that I must temporarily remove myself from the position as police chief for the city of Sanford.
OLBERMANN: The police chief in the middle of the Trayvon Martin killing scandal takes a leave of absence. The outrage does not.
The mother of Trayvon Martin:
(Excerpt from video clip) SABRINA FULTON: Our son was not committing any crime. Our son is your son.
OLBERMANN: Congressman John Lewis:
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN LEWIS: There should be a sense of righteous indignation in America, the same way that we had during the days of lynching.
OLBERMANN: The nation:
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: I am Trayvon Martin!
OLBERMANN: Even the co-sponsor of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law:
(Excerpt from video clip) DENNIS BAXLEY: Nothing is ever finished in the legislature. I learned that. You know, everything can always be readdressed.
OLBERMANN: Except the other Florida case in which a man chased an alleged burglar, stabbed him to death, and was just acquitted on self-defense.
As Trayvon Martin's parents meet with the Justice Department, a Florida state senator wants a special prosecutor - Gary Siplin joins us.
The president and the pipeline. How to say, "No, you're wrong - I approved the Keystone XL project," without really approving it.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: Today, I am directing my administration to cut through red tape, break through bureaucratic hurdles and make this project a priority.
OLBERMANN: So how come Jeb Bush didn't run for president? Because he not only thinks Marco Rubio should be Vice President but that "he is the best orator of American politics today." At least he didn't mention Etch A Sketch.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SANTORUM: They're looking for someone who is not an Etch A Sketch candidate but an etched-in-stone candidate.
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: I'm running as a conservative Republican.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: He said, "I'm going to run as a conservative." He didn't say, "I am a conservative." Said, "I'm going to run as a conservative."
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I'll be running as a conservative Republican nominee.
OLBERMANN: The war on women. The victims rally - even the Republican victims.
(Excerpt from video clip) KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON: I think Planned Parenthood does mammograms, they do so much of the health care - the preventive health care - and if they're doing that, then we need to provide those services, absolutely.
OLBERMANN: And you want the job? The employer wants your Facebook password. Senator Blumenthal wants a law to forbid that demand.
Now, on "Countdown" -
OLBERMANN: Good evening. This is Thursday, March 22, 230 days until the 2012 presidential election. Movement tonight in the case of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old gunned down by a neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Florida last month, though certainly not enough for his grieving parents nor the nation.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - the police chief who decided Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law meant that Trayvon Martin's shooter would not be charged, stepping down from his post today, but he insists it's only temporary.
And - with calls for that law to be amended coming from legislators and police following this tragedy and a fatal stabbing in Miami. And a call from a Florida state senator for a special prosecutor in the Martin case. Apparently, heard by the state's governor, who appointed one tonight.
That senator joins us.
Martin, of course, was heading from a relative's home - or to a relative's home from a convenience store when he was shot dead on February 26 by George Zimmerman.
The shooter, a frequent caller to police, insisting Trayvon Martin first acted suspiciously, then attacked him, that he fired only in self defense. That, after a police dispatcher had told him not to follow the young man. A bag of Skittles and some iced tea - all that was found on Martin's body.
Protests in memory of Trayvon Martin again today, including this one in Sanford and one tonight as well - many more are planned.
Also making plans, Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee.
(Excerpt from video clip) LEE: It is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process. Therefore, I have come to the decision that I must temporarily remove myself from the position as police chief for the city of Sanford.
OLBERMANN: With Sanford police refusing to arrest George Zimmerman for what many are calling Trayvon Martin's murder, Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte saying other law enforcement agencies, federal and state, are now taking the lead.
(Excerpt from video clip) NORTON BONAPARTE: It's been turned over to the state's attorney's office. The governor has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to assist - Mayor Triplett, Congresswoman Brown, having enjoined and gotten the United States Department of Justice to be part of this process.
OLBERMANN: And, as we told you before, now we have a Florida state special prosecutor - appointed within the hour by Governor Scott.
NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous, our guest last night on this news hour, approving that progress.
(Excerpt from video clip) BEN JEALOUS: While the wheels of justice are turning more slowly than the nation wants, than this city wants - the reality is that we can see them beginning to turn.
OLBERMANN: Though not fast enough for Martin's parents Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin -
(Excerpt from video clip) FULTON: Since the chief has stepped down - it is a temporary relief, but we need a permanent relief. I still say we need an arrest.
(Excerpt from video clip) TRACY MARTIN: We want an arrest, we wanted a conviction.
OLBERMANN: The same demand is being heard on the campus of Virginia State University in Richmond, and at Miami Gardens in Florida - hundreds of students marching from Carol City High School, where Trayvon Martin went for his freshman and sophomore years.
The dean of America's civil rights movement, Georgia representative John Lewis, also weighing in today saying, "Trayvon Martin's shooting showed how much farther this country has yet to come."
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN LEWIS: It's a very sad and dark hour, not just for race relations in the state of Florida, but race relations in America. There should be a sense of righteous indignation in America, the same way that we had during the days of lynching.
OLBERMANN: Meantime, Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, that police cited after passing on the arrest on the arrest of Zimmerman, coming under withering criticism now.
Police in Miami saying they were stunned after a judge decided not to charge another man who claimed self-defense after he chased down and stabbed an alleged burglar - the law's co-author, Florida Republican Representative Dennis Baxley, apparently ready to reassess his own work.
(Excerpt from video clip) BAXLEY: Nothing is ever finished in the legislature. I learned that. You know, everything can always be readdressed.
OLBERMANN: And state Senator Oscar Braynon calling for legislative hearings into that law. Braynon telling The Miami Herald, "When the legislature passed this in 2005, I don't think they planned for people who would go out and become vigilantes, or be like some weird Batman who would go out and kill little kids like Trayvon."
And that "Weird Batman" George Zimmerman now with more time on his hands to think about his future. Seminole State College "withdrawing Mr. Zimmerman from enrollment there" today, citing safety for their students, including him.
For more on the Trayvon Martin story and the investigations, I'm joined by Florida Senator Gary Siplin, the Democrat of Orlando. Thank you for your time tonight, Senator.
GARY SIPLIN: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
OLBERMANN: All right, the FBI, federal Department of Justice, state's attorney's office were all already involved in this case. You called for an independent prosecutor. Governor Rick Scott has appointed a special prosecutor tonight. Is that sufficient?
SIPLIN: Well, it's the first step in preventing a powder keg from exploding, not only in the state of Florida but the country. I think it's an initial victory for the Trayvon Martin family, that we will get someone who will take a close, independent look at the circumstances and, hopefully, eventually get to an arrest and a conviction.
OLBERMANN: The state's attorney, Angela Corey - as I noted at the start of the show - is - has considerable experience in prosecuting homicides, but in a controversial case that's still unfolding in Jacksonville, she decided to pursue, and got the court to treat, a 12-year-old kid as an adult, to actually try him for the murder of his two-year-old brother.
Is there enough independence from somebody who comes out of the state's attorney's office to satisfy those who that think there has been a wall of silence built around this case and around that town and around George Zimmerman?
SIPLIN: Well, I think there is. I know a little bit of history about Angela Corey. She has a fine staff, by way of attorney Wesley White. He's had some experience in trying these type of cases, and I would hope that she would rely a great deal upon Wesley White in prosecuting this case in Sanford, Florida.
OLBERMANN: That's good to hear. About Chief Lee stepping down temporarily today - what's your reaction to that, and do you know what - why this is just temporary?
SIPLIN: Well, I think that's just a bandage. I think, based upon his previous action, that he ought to just step down completely. I think it's a lack of political courage on behalf of the city manager and the elected officials, and hopefully they will become more stronger and ask for his resignation, as well as some other resignations, throughout that whole process in the city of Sanford.
OLBERMANN: My understanding is that you're going to have a town hall meeting in Sanford with the approval of the Florida Senate president - a town hall about the shooting of Trayvon Martin. What do you hope to accomplish there, what do you expect to have happen?
SIPLIN: Well, you know, once the new prosecutor gets involved in this case and prosecutes it and gets a conviction, the city of Sanford and the blacks in Sanford will still be on that plantation cultural mentality.
My goal is to have a holistic fix, in terms of coming in there, taking testimony about what the conditions are in Sanford so that we can bring them into the 2,000 - the 20th century. They need health care, they need education, they need jobs, they need homes, and I'm going to go there with other colleagues in the Florida Senate on several opportunities to take testimony, so we can go back to Tallahassee and file new legislation to improve the conditions and to bring them out of the plantation mentality that they've had for over a hundred years in Sanford, Florida.
OLBERMANN: It is absolutely understandable why this case has been painted in racial terms. It's obvious to anybody who knows any of the details of it. Is it becoming evident to you - with the nation's reaction, not just the reaction of the black community in Florida, and not just the reaction in Florida, but the nation's reaction - that people see this in a secondary and even larger context, that this is semi-vigilantism, or vigilantism itself, run amok?
And the identities and the colors of the faces of the victim and the perpetrator - whereas they're important, they have become, in some cases, secondary, because there's an idea here just beyond just the individual case - that citizens of any color are not safe if there are laws that permit things like this to happen.
SIPLIN: Well, that's absolutely true. I remember in 2005, when I voted on the bill, I asked Senator Doc Peden, "What did this bill apply to?"
And he said, "Senator Siplin, it applies to your home and your car. It does not apply to the common areas, or the swell areas."
And obviously, you have vigilantes as Mr. Zimmerman - who is out and about, who cannot be a police officer - taking the law in their own hands and shooting and killing, wrongfully, a minor. And that's a shame.
OLBERMANN: I hate to use the word vigilante, because it almost implies there was a reason for him to have done what he did. An illegal one, but a reason - but he had neither law nor reason on his side.
State Senator Gary Siplin, Democrat of Orlando from Florida, great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
SIPLIN: Thank you, sir, I appreciate it.
OLBERMANN: For more on this case and that "Stand Your Ground" law, which is the reason that George Zimmerman has avoided being charged so far, I'm joined by George Washington University law professor, constitutional law expert, "Countdown" contributor Jonathan Turley. Jon, thanks for your time tonight.
JONATHAN TURLEY: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let me ask you, first, about a special prosecutor. The state senator seemed to have some hope that this was, in fact, a really good move, with - if not the attorney herself, Angela Corey, but members of her staff - being quite familiar with circumstances similar to the Trayvon Martin case, that it might be of value to advancing this and getting the state of Florida, and indeed the nation, through this.
TURLEY: I think it's a critical move. This is the type of thing that special prosecutors are good at, in the sense that they reset the scene from the prosecution and police side. You have someone coming in who is not tainted by the earlier decisions in the case. We have a lot of mistakes that were made by the police. And so, just bringing in somebody who's independent can offer some assurance to folks that there's not this path dependency that you see in some cases, where one decision necessarily leads to another.
OLBERMANN: All right - to the statute, and according to it, "A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat, and has the right to stand his or her ground" - hence, the term of the name of the law - and "Meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."
Does what we know about the facts of this case justify Sanford's police department and prosecutor there and their decision to not charge George Zimmerman? Is it reasonable to use deadly force to prevent death or great bodily harm, when the other person is unarmed?
TURLEY: Well, first of all - I should say I've been a leading critic of both the so-called "Make My Day" laws, or Castle Doctrine laws, and the "Stand Your Ground" laws. I've said for years that these laws are not necessary, and that they produce these types of tragedies. But politicians love them.
They - you know, I find it somewhat annoying to see politicians falling over themselves today to say that they never imagined these problems, when critics like myself have been saying for years that these laws invite these types of problems.
But, in terms of this case, no - I think that the police had grounds to arrest Zimmerman that night, just on the fact that they had an unarmed minor who was also physically smaller than Zimmerman. You had a call in which he was asked not to pursue the individual. There is certainly enough basis there for an arrest. I've seen cases go to indictment on less evidence. But having said that, you know, the police could say that Zimmerman was bleeding at the scene. All right, we don't know the extent of those injuries, and they wanted to wait - he was not viewed as a flight risk.
But, that doesn't explain the mistakes the police then proceeded to make. There's very disturbing accounts of witnesses who say that they were basically corrected by police.
TURLEY: In saying things against Zimmerman, statements by the chief that seem to be untrue once we heard the 911 tape. That's why I think a special prosecutor is warranted.
OLBERMANN: I mentioned this other "Stand Your Ground" case in Miami - Greyston Garcia, who was charged with second-degree murder after he had chased an alleged a burglar for more than a block and then stabbed the man to death. This was tossed out by a judge in Miami-Dade on the basis of the "Stand Your Ground" law. The police there, the Miami police, called it a travesty.
Are we seeing so much evidence come to pass about this law that this thing is going to get repealed in Florida and elsewhere, promptly, because, whether politicians are simply turning with the wind - at least the wind is blowing in the correct direction?
TURLEY: Well, the reason some of us have criticized these laws is that they are extremely ambiguous and they solve a problem that didn't exist. The common law and existing law in most of these states gives ample protection for people in self-defense, even mistaken self-defense.
And I would encourage people not just to look at the "Stand Your Ground" laws, but the Castle Doctrine or "Make My Day" laws - which were the first round here, and we see the same type of cases coming out of those - where people are shooting folks that come and knock on their doors and, you know, and using a very high level of violence when it used to be that they would call the police and just avoid the incident.
What the Garcia case shows - exactly how dangerous that ambiguity is. In this case, he took meeting force with force literally, didn't just stand his ground, ran and caught up with the guy and proceeded to stab him to death. It's the type of interpretation, unfortunately, that the judge could excuse, according to the ambiguity of the law.
And so - yes, I hope people will re-examine this law and will re-examine the Castle Doctrine law. You know, politicians, unfortunately, were very quick to embrace this, because it was so popular when they did it.
TURLEY: And this is what happens when you do impulse-buy legislation.
OLBERMANN: All right, one last question pertaining to the appointment of the state special prosecutor - is that going to conflict with whatever the Department of Justice and FBI is doing? Or can they work cooperatively and to the benefit of the truth?
TURLEY: Well, the Justice Department can continue in this case on one of two grounds.
First, if they can establish that there was a racial motive. They still haven't clearly established that. The Zimmerman family insists that he's not racist, that he's a Hispanic who has many African-American friends and they contest it. I don't know where the truth will come out on this, but the Justice Department needs to establish that they have grounds to believe this was a racially-motivated crime. If they can't do that - and there's some debate about what the audiotapes actually show -
TURLEY: They can still continue in the case if there is a request from the local police to assist them, and then they can offer some forensic help.
This case is going to turn on forensics. I mean, I'm waiting for trajectory analysis and proximity analysis of the gunshot - the condition of the two men other than the gunshot. What were the abrasions and bruises? All of that stuff - the FBI, of course, is legendary in how well it can do that - so they could continue to be involved.
What we're all looking very closely at is whether they will continue this as a civil rights division case. They came in this much earlier than they usually do. Usually they let the locals run a bit and even indict - even try - 'cause they can always come in with a civil rights charge. Here they moved very, very quickly, and so we're all watching to see if they're going to complete their preliminary analysis to determine whether there's a basis for racially-motivated crime allegations.
OLBERMANN: Jonathan Turley, constitutional law expert, George Washington University law professor and, we're very proud to say, "Countdown" contributor. Great thanks, as always, for elucidating all of this for us.
TURLEY: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Thanks, Jon.
The presidential race and the president and the president's partial support of the XL pipeline.
And just when he didn't need it, evidence pops up that Mitt Romney has indeed gone all Etch A Sketch on the subject of high gas prices.
"They are the natural result of global market pressures," he said, six years ago, "They should be responded to with greater fuel efficiency." And, "I don't think now is the time, and I'm not sure there will be the right time for us to encourage the use of more gasoline."
In other words, he supported what is now President Obama's position. Oops.
OLBERMANN: How do you get to stop the Keystone XL pipeline while also starting the Keystone XL pipeline? The president threads that needle, even as a report indicates that TransCanada's most recent sludge pipeline spills at a rate 100 times the company's pre-construction projection. Gas, and the presidential election, and also some gas from at least one of the candidates - upcoming.
OLBERMANN: First, it was claimed that building the Keystone XL pipeline would create twenty thousand new jobs, until it turned out to be more like six thousand, and then it was how much the pipeline would lower the price of gas, until it was discovered it would actually raise the price of gas in the Midwest.
But in our fourth story - with the Republicans still using the pipeline as a campaign wedge issue - President Obama today fast-tracked building it - not the Canada-to-Oklahoma part, just the Oklahoma-to-the-Gulf part. Speaking at a TransCanada facility in Oklahoma, the president asked for the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline to be built quickly while study continues on the northern route.
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: Now - right now - a company called TransCanada has applied to build a new pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down on the Gulf Coast. And today, I'm directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority.
OLBERMANN: But if the president was hoping that would be seen as some sort of bipartisan move, he was mistaken.
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN BOEHNER: The only recent action the president has taken on energy involved lobbying senators, personally and successfully, to prevent construction of the Keystone pipeline.
OLBERMANN: While the president sold the southern route of the pipeline as the environmentally-friendly portion of it, a new study from Cornell University claims there may be no such thing.
The oil the pipeline would transport is not traditional crude, but rather oil collected from a mixture of clay, sand, and water - it's heated sludge. Because of the extreme methods needed for extraction, the study found this type of oil was more likely to cause leaks. There is strong evidence that tar-sands pipeline spills occur more frequently than spills from pipelines carrying conventional crude oil because of the diluted bitumen's toxin, corrosive, and heavy composition.
In fact, since TransCanada's initial Keystone One sludge pipeline began operation in June 2010, it has suffered 35 spills in the United States and Canada - 11 in the first year alone - and that would be 100 times as many as TransCanada had projected.
For more, let's turn to Sam Stein, White House correspondent and political editor of The Huffington Post. Sam, thanks you for your time tonight.
SAM STEIN: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I'm assuming here the president just got to say, "Why no, I didn't stop the Keystone XL pipeline, they're building it now."
STEIN: Yes, I think that's exactly what he wanted to say. And I think that's why he did the event today.
And you have to acknowledge, to some respects, that John Boehner's right. The president's been schizophrenic somewhat on this issue. He did lobby senators to kill the Canada-to-Oklahoma portion, and now after his poll numbers have dipped a little bit, he wants to seem like he's doing something on the issue of gas prices, so what does he do? He goes and he does the exact opposite with respect to the domestic portion of the pipeline. So yes, he's all over the map.
OLBERMANN: And in fact, Speaker Boehner was all over the president today. I mean, he said this part of the pipeline construction did not need the president's okay. Is he actually correct on that point, too?
STEIN: Well, that's a little bit trickier to get. Obviously, there is bureaucratic red tape there, but this isn't a controversial portion of the pipe. I mean, the real controversial portion of the pipeline has always been rerouting it from Canada through Nebraska. And, that is what the speaker has been hammering the president on and that was the sort what was the big disagreement heading through that payroll-tax-cut fight towards the end of December.
Now, what the president did then was - he punted on that issue and he has yet to pick it up, and good reason. The environmental lobby is deeply skeptical that this will do anything, for all the reasons that you listed above, and the president would take a real hit if he did it.
OLBERMANN: Sam, the president's speech today seemed to be a continuation of a mixed message. He says a president can't control the price of gas, and yet - here again - he seems to be taking steps as if a president can control the price of gas.
STEIN: Yeah, and it's like I said, there's a convoluted message there. Obviously, you know, you can't, on one hand, argue that you're basically helpless and then, on the other hand, stage something to make it seem like you're doing some proactive.
At the same time, I think we should acknowledge that this administration has never been anti-drilling or anti-domestic-oil production. In fact, domestic-oil production is at its highest level ever under this president. He's done offshore drilling - he instituted reforms in the Gulf, but he got Gulf drilling, relatively fast, back on its feet, post the Gulf spill.
So, he's someone who's been willing to piss off the environmental lobby so to speak.
But yes, you're right. He's also argued, on the flip side, that he has no control over the gas price in this country, and he's largely right. So this is obviously stage craft today.
OLBERMANN: And is there some political calculation in the re-election campaign, that people are in the mood to punish the president for high gas prices anyway and he needs to be seen doing something about it even if there is, you know, no cause-and-effect line that can actually be drawn?
STEIN: Sure. Well, you know, two weeks ago, I was talking to a couple of people in the White House as well as a few folks on the campaign. And they said they fully expected the president to take a hit over the issue of gas prices, and it happened.
The president was up in the polls and then, suddenly - all of a sudden - we saw that he had taken a little bit of a dive, and they attributed it to the gas-price issue, but they think that it's a momentary glitch. They think, a momentary dip - that people will understand, eventually, that there's little he can do and, because of events like this, they'll maybe start to consider that he's trying to do more. And so, yes, this is a political move.
OLBERMANN: The White House correspondent, the political editor for The Huffington Post, Sam Stein. As always, great thanks for your time, Sam.
STEIN: Thanks, Keith. Appreciate it.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of politics and gas - just when Mitt Romney tries to erase his own campaign's introduction of his new image as the Etch A Sketch candidate, a Boston-area newspaper finds a quote from six years ago in which Romney is clearly anti-gas. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: Mitt Romney tries to fend off the title of Etch A Sketch candidate - then they find him saying, six years ago, that this is not the time to encourage the use of more gasoline in this country.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this day in 1923 was born the future famous French mime Marcel Marceau. When the doctors spanked him on the derriere, he said, " ." (MIMES NEWBORN CRY)
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Golden retriever can't quite fetch ball from pool.
We begin with the TMO Adorable Clip of the Day. All this golden retriever wants is to retrieve the tennis ball from the pool and, like life, it's just out of freaking reach.
Tried from the other side, almost gets it in his mouth, ends up pushing it further away.
"Hey, you - with the camera - little help here! I really - I'm a dog. I don't really have an opposable thumb. Help?"
Finally, the strategy pays off and he's able to get the ball into his mouth.
Next time, he should Google "doggy paddle."
VIDEO: World-record longest basketball game attempted to raise funds for devastated Joplin, Missouri.
In sports - forget overtime, or double overtime, triple overtime. These 24 Missouri men have been taking turns playing in a five-on-five basketball game since Wednesday morning.
In an attempt to break the world record for longest game ever, they plan to keep the game going until Sunday evening. Playing 12 hours a day, and sleeping at the gym during their time off, they hope to raise $250,000 for the city of Joplin, Missouri as the anniversary of sad events there occurs.
And one of them will probably be signed for the Knicks and then be released by them.
VIDEO: Family of ducks separated by White House fence are reunited by helpful Secret Service.
Finally, we check in with the White House, where this mother duck decides to take a stroll on the White House lawn - could have been calamity right there.
But her little ducklings are not able to make the jump to get to the fence.
Fortunately, the Secret Service is there to help. A makeshift ramp, which is a complicated concept for a 12-day-old duck.
Plan B, pick the ducklings up and throw them through the gate. This works.
Make way for ducklings!
Of course, now Peter King is going to hold hearings to look into the threat of ducklings to the national security.
Before they'll give you your job, they want to see your Facebook password. A Senate proposal to make that illegal. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: Before the Etch A Sketch comment, yesterday had been shaping up to have been a pretty good day for Mitt Romney. His victory in the sparsely-attended Illinois primary had garnered the coveted endorsement of a man who many people thought could take the nomination in the event of a brokered convention - Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.
In our third story - in case you're wondering why Jeb Bush endorsed Romney instead of throwing own his hat into the ring - it became kind of clearer today. Jeb Bush loves him some Marco Rubio.
Although, after another Romney Etch A Sketch moment, perhaps Governor Bush is rethinking the endorsement.
On Wednesday, Governor Bush led the wave of establishment begrudgingly endorsing Romney. The endorsement was almost undercut by the soft wording and the tepid way it was simply sent in to The Tampa Bay Times - like a classified ad.
But today, it became clear that it may not have been Mitt Romney that Jeb Bush was endorsing. It may have been a way to push Florida Senator Rubio into the race as tvice presidential nominee.
Talking with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the right-wing newspaper of sorts, Governor Bush made quite a claim: "He is the best orator of American politics today. A good family man. He is not only a consistent conservative, but he's managed to find a way to communicate a conservative message of hope and optimism" - possibly by padding the story of how his parents left Cuba.
But, Jeb Bush may want to turn this tepid endorsement of Romney upside down and shake it up, after yet another example of Romney's own moderate history has surfaced. Like every Republican on the Fox News talking points email list, Mr. Romney has been criticizing the president on the price of gas. But, like most of Romney's current positions, this seems to contradict a previously-held belief.
In response to calls - in 2006 - for then-Governor Romney to suspend the Massachusetts 23-and-a half-cent gas tax, Romney said high prices were the result of market forces and he told the local newspaper The Patriot Ledger, of Quincy, "This high cost is not a temporary phenomenon, but has the potential of being a permanent phenomenon. I don't think that now is the time, and I'm not sure that there will be the right time, for us to encourage the use of more gasoline. I'm very much in favor of people recognizing that these high gasoline prices are probably here to stay."
For more, let's bring in the staff writer for Mother Jones, Andy Kroll. Andy, thanks for your time tonight.
ANDY KROLL: Great to be here.
OLBERMANN: First off - Marco Rubio, best orator in American politics today? Was there a vote and they changed the meaning of the word orator while I was out?
KROLL: No. You know, the Republican party likes to rule by royal decree, and so, you know, when Jeb Bush wants to name someone the greatest orator in the Republican party, he can just go ahead and do it. You've got to also remember that this was a party whose establishment and leading candidate is Mitt "The Trees Are the Right Height" Romney and whose last President was George "Is Our Children Learning" Bush. So, the bar is not all that high to get the Best Orator of the GOP mantle.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, but he said, "best orator of American politics today." Is it just a sort of default position by a Republican that that necessarily means all Republicans fill up the first half of the list and then the best Democratic is, you know, number 501 or whatever?
KROLL: Well, I don't even think they're considering the Democratic party here.
OLBERMANN: All right. I don't know who the runner-up is, then. Maybe he has a point.
Marco Rubio has said he's not interested in running as Vice President. Are people trying to push him into it? Is Jeb Bush trying to push him into it?
KROLL: Oh, Jeb Bush is trying to push him in, without a doubt. Jeb Bush is watching his party alienate one of the biggest growing demographics in American politics, which is Hispanic voters. Jeb Bush has been writing about this, talking about this, for years.
I mean, he's watching Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum alienate these voters, and he knows that getting Marco Rubio into the race would go a long way towards mending fences with the Hispanic community.
But Marco Rubio is not going to do it.
You know, I'm in touch with people on his staff here. I think they see him as a bigger superstar than a vice presidential candidate, possibly with, you know, an eye toward running for the presidency in 2016.
OLBERMANN: Looking not forward but backwards to this quote of Romney's from 2006 in the Quincy Patriot Ledger, another one from the past contradicting his current position. This is poorly timed vis-a-vis the Etch A Sketch comment, is it not?
KROLL: Yeah, it couldn't be worse, not only the Etch A Sketch comment, but also, you know, the debate about, you know, President Obama, whether he can impact gas prices, the fact that the Republican party is hitting him up and down, Newt Gingrich especially - if anyone is still paying attention to him - about how he's a president who, you know, wants people to pay $4 or $5 at the pump for gas. So, the timing is catastrophic, if anything.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, and oddly, what he outlined in that interview from six years ago - gas prices are the result of market forces; we should use alternative forms of energy; never assume gas will be cheap again - this is basically the Obama point of view on it, isn't it? I mean, isn't that - those quotes are an Obama re-election campaign ad versus Romney, just waiting for the editor to show up?
KROLL: Yeah, and not only is it straight from the Obama campaign playbook, it's also a reflection of reality. We live in an era - even the oil industry itself has admitted - where, you know, this the tough oil era. We can't get oil out of the ground cheap anymore.
It's going to cost more, it's tougher to get. It's tar sands, it's deep water drilling out in the Gulf of Mexico. Gas is not going to be cheap. It's going to be more expensive because it's harder to get this oil - Romney recognized that in 2006, just as President Obama does today.
OLBERMANN: You know what else is going up? The value of Etch A Sketch stock - it closed up 140 percent today. Is this a secret plan? Is Bain Capital invested in Etch A Sketches?
KROLL: Well, I think what you've got to look at, actually, is the Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom - who had the Etch A Sketch gaffe - now says that he's going to now start plugging Mr. Potato Head. So, you might want to look at Hasbro stock. Because, you know, the Romney campaign has actually given us a tip here.
No, I don't think Bain has an investment in Etch A Sketch but, you know, they're kind of a shadowy outfit, so -
OLBERMANN: Plus, so now you've got to invest in Midwest potato futures.
Staff writer for Mother Jones, Andy Kroll. Andy, great thanks for your time tonight.
KROLL: Thanks so much.
OLBERMANN: One of the Republican generals in the party's war on women claims there isn't such a thing, it's all just political theater. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: The figurative father of the pre-abortion, trans-vaginal ultrasound says there is no "conservative war on women." It's just political theater, says the governor of Virginia. Coming up next.
OLBERMANN: One of the protagonists in the conservative war on women insists, today, there is no such thing, that it's all "political theater."
In our number two story - the disagreement with that position, belonging to the governor of Virginia, is so profound that, today, even a Republican senator stood up and took notice.
Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has backed Republican assaults on women's rights in the past, attempts to defund Planned Parenthood by supporting bills like the Protect Life Act and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which - there ain't already. But, Senator Hutchinson suddenly seems to have something of a change of heart.
(Excerpt from video clip) KAY BAILEY HUTCHINSON: I think Planned Parenthood does mammograms, they do so much of the health care - the preventive health care - and if they're doing that, then we need to provide those services, absolutely.
OLBERMANN: By the way, she's retiring.
Earlier this month, the Obama administration pulled federal funds from Texas because of Governor Rick Perry's decision to block abortion providers like Planned Parenthood from getting state funding.
Meantime, the Susan G. Komen Foundation still reeling from its decision to de-fund and then re-fund Planned Parenthood - the chairman of the board for the Cure and the CEO of its New York City affiliate are among the latest of a flock of top executives to resign. That board chairman has reportedly been looking to distance himself from Komen since the Planned Parenthood controversy erupted.
The Washington Post reports there are now internal calls for Komen's founder Nancy Brinker to step aside as well. She started the charity in memory of her own sister who had died of breast cancer.
In Virginia, meantime, Governor Bob McDonald's approval rating dropping - voters pulling support from the founder, almost the creator, of the pre-abortion, trans-vaginal ultrasound. Yet, he claims the conservative war on women is a fabrication.
(Excerpt from video clip) BOB McDONALD: It's false, and it's been political theater from the Democrats for a couple of months.
OLBERMANN: I'm joined here by Salon staff writer Irin Carmon who's been covering this story and has been with us a couple times previously. It's good to see you again.
IRIN CARMON: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let me start with Governor McDonald. Political theater, he says. This would be political theater that features an opening act of trans-vaginal ultrasounds, apparently. Where - how does he say, with a straight face, that there's nothing to attacks from women on the right.
CARMON: Honestly, is it political theater for - did Democrats put Republicans up to an unprecedented number of anti-choice laws since they took over state houses in 2010? Did Democrats make Republicans - the moment that they took over the House of Representatives - start passing laws to limit women's rights to abortion, start passing laws to de-fund Planned Parenthood? They brought this on themselves, because it's something that they have been doing for the past two years in a very concerted way, and - finally - people are paying attention and they don't like it.
OLBERMANN: When you hear Senator Hutchinson of Texas even sort of traipse around the borders of saying that, "Yeah, there's a lot of crap going on and we have to do something about it" - A) Obviously, you know she's retiring, if you hadn't been able to figure that out to begin with. But, B) what are the implications when somebody stands up - does it encourage other people to pay attention, does it encourage Republican women who are associated with the Republican party or the conservative movement to actually stand up in defense of the gender rather than their political platform?
CARMON: Well, historically, Hutchinson has tried to have it both ways. She's always gotten a zero or very, very poor rating from pro-choice organizations. However, she clearly thinks - just a few weeks after she voted for the Blunt Amendment, she clearly thinks that - if she wants to burnish her legacy, she wants go out the door not as the anti-woman candidate, but as the "Sorry, Texas women, your health care is being taken away" candidate - right now, this has real implications. The denial of federal funding to Planned Parenthood is directly hurting Texas women. So, if she wants to go home and have people celebrate her legacy as a senator - well, she's going to have very angry women to deal with.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of angry women, we thought that the Susan G Komen controversy had ended after their unbelievably botched effort to de-fund their limited funding of Planned Parenthood. And now comes word that, for at least the last month, their 81, 82-year-old chairman of the board has been considering a leave of absence cause he doesn't want a thing to do with anything like this. And finally, apparently after negotiations, he simply bolted - he simply walked out. Could that thing - the Susan G. Komen thing by itself just be a continuing waving flag to women everywhere that there is an assault at every level on women's rights and that this is - this is sort of like an ongoing thing, rather than just a milestone of the past?
CARMON: Well, at Komen, you have a situation where a lot of the national affiliates who probably got into this, the affiliate heads got into this because they were interested in fighting breast cancer are now leaving, because they realize that the organization has been hijacked by tea party candidates. I mean, whatever it started out being, right now, it's irredeemably politicized and it's directly harming the access of low-income women to health care.
So, I wouldn't be surprised if people who were interested either in raising money, raising awareness of conducting research on breast cancer thought, "It's too late, our brand is tarnished, we have no goodwill. And rightly so, because we politicized this decision by punishing Planned Parenthood for providing a full array of services to women."
OLBERMANN: Lastly, one of the biggest stories of the last week or two about this had been that state senator in Idaho, Chuck Winder, who insinuated that women used incest or rape at excuses to get abortions. The legislation that he sponsored that mandated ultrasounds there - and a series of ultrasounds, in fact - has apparently been stalled - is there some sense of the tide turning in the conservative attack on women, that perhaps the majority of the population woke up?
CARMON: Idaho is not known, as a redoubt for pro-choice activism. However, you had, in the state house, hundreds of women show up, you had thousands of women sign petitions. They made their voices heard. And what happens when women make their voices heard about these things is that, now, the legislators are running scared. Again, very similar laws have passed quietly in other states for the past ten years -
CARMON: - really in the past two years, have intensified. So, the fact that in Pennsylvania a similar law was shelved, the fact that - in Idaho, a very conservative state - this proved to be political poison, it's very heartening because it shows that women are paying attention and they are making their voices heard.
Irin Carmon of Salon. Again, once again, thanks for coming in.
CARMON: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The ACLU compares it to a demand that, to get your job, you'd have to let your prospective employer open your private mail. A U.S. senator wants to make it illegal for a possible employer to demand a password to your Facebook account. Next.
OLBERMANN: Recapping the headlines from the Trayvon Martin story - the protest that you see there in Sanford, Florida, the estimate of the crowd 30,000.
Earlier tonight - just before show time, in fact - the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, appointed a special prosecutor who a state senator - who was a guest on our show earlier this hour - said her office was probably going to be productive and had some experience in dealing with cases like this - so positive developments in the Trayvon Martin case today.
And also, the police chief of Sanford, Florida has taken a leave of absence.
To resume -
Request denied - or it should be, at least.
In our number one story - an unsettling trend growing among employers: asking job-seekers for their Facebook log-in information in order to scrutinize their private online behavior. In response to recent reports about this invasive practice, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is proposing a bill that would make that illegal.
While applicants have the opportunity to deny the request for their log-in info, in a tough job market such as the current one, there are those who simply can't afford to say no. As Senator Blumenthal told Politico, "The coercive element of the request really makes it less than voluntary."
Potential employers have always been able to view the public accounts of prospective employees - on Facebook, on Twitter, any other social networking site - the privacy issue stems from an attempt to pressure an applicant into providing access to their private information.
The ACLU also weighing in on the issue. Attorney Catherine Crump saying, "People are entitled to their private lives. You'd be appalled if your employer insisted on opening up your postal mail to see if there was anything of interest inside. It's equally out-of-bounds for an employer to go on a fishing expedition through a person's private social media account."
For more on that, joining me now - the director of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, Ben Wizner. Thanks for your time tonight.
BEN WIZNER: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Where'd the idea come from that your Facebook isn't private in this equation?
WIZNER: Well, I guess some people think that the idea of Facebook privacy is already an oxymoron.
I think that people are exhibitionists and they equate privacy with secrecy. But, when we talk about privacy, we talk about not keeping things secret from everyone but having control over our information. And people, I think, use Facebook the way they interact with other human beings in their lives. I share some information with my closest friends, different information with my mother, and a third set of information with my employer.
So, it's understandable why employers might be tempted to get access to this, just as it's understandable that your employer might want to see what DVDs are in your closet and rummage through your old picture albums, but this is no different.
OLBERMANN: And there are also - there are variations to this? Like having to friend the H.R. manager in order to get the interview?
WIZNER: Yeah, well - again, there at least, the Facebook user has the option of controlling that person's access.
But, when we talk about demanding a password, not only does that violate the privacy of the job applicant, but also of hundreds of that person's friends. Because once the interviewer can log in as me, that person can see things that my friends have chosen, perhaps, only to share with me and not with others.
OLBERMANN: The Blumenthal legislation to make this illegal, to request this as part of a job-interview process - this is new territory, is it not?
WIZNER: Well, yeah, and I think Senator Blumenthal deserves praise. He is making a very good-faith effort for the law to catch up with technology, something that the Senate has not been particularly good at in the past.
We support this legislation, and I would urge Senator Blumenthal and others to keep in mind that today's social media landscape is shifting, and so whatever legislation they do enact should take into account that Facebook isn't the only platform that people will be using in two years, or four. They should make sure - they should understand that there will be more and more opportunities for employers to violate privacy as the technology develops.
OLBERMANN: Now, apparently, there is a sort of a halfway point between the two desires here for privacy and for some inside information or wondering if there's going to be a scandal that's going to appear online for somebody in their Facebook page? Sears and other companies use some sort of intermediary process to get some of the Facebook private information?
WIZNER: Well, I don't know. You know, I read this on the AP - perhaps, you know, as you did - and I didn't find Sears's explanation all that plausible. You know, they say they want to have access to people's Facebook pages so that they can see if their circumstances have changed and in case a job shows up that's just the right job for them, they'll know because they've been monitoring their Facebook updates.
I wonder whether Sears is actually requiring applicants to provide this information, and would hire people if they didn't provide it. It seems coercive to me.
OLBERMANN: Lastly, does this now touch in this other vague area that people don't really understand, like when your emails and other online communications belong to your company and when they do have access to them?
WIZNER: Well, I think there is a lot of ignorance about that. I wonder, for example, do you know what your employer's policy is for this? I think to be very safe -
OLBERMANN: Yes, I do.
WIZNER: Employees should be careful about their use of their employer's property. Now it gets a little bit more complicated when your email is stored, not on an employer's server, but off in a cloud. And I think there are good arguments to be made that employers should not be able to get your passwords and to go after that kind of information.
But I think people want to look at the computer-use policies of their own companies and where they work, and be careful. If you have a choice between using a device that your employer owns, and one that you own, use the one that you own.
Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU Speech Technology and Privacy Project. Again, thanks for coming in.
WIZNER: Glad to be here.
OLBERMANN: That's "Countdown." Congratulations again on getting through another day of this crap. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.