Olbermann Compares ‘Grotesque’ Chambliss Rally to ‘Turkey-Killing Machine,’ Carlson: ‘Both Are Killers’

On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann compared Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss’s 2002 campaign against then-Democratic Senator Max Cleland of Georgia to a "turkey-killing machine," as part of a segment with Bloomberg News’s Margaret Carlson, formerly of Time magazine, in which the duo mocked Sarah Palin’s part in a campaign rally for Chambliss. Olbermann: "What is the more grotesque event to be standing in front of and not paying attention to? What we`re seeing now, she`s standing in front of Saxby Chambliss who ran that campaign against Max Cleland six years ago, or standing in front of a turkey-killing machine?" As she laughed, Carlson responded: "Both are killers." Referring to the presence of the rapper Ludacris in Georgia as he campaigned for Democratic candidate Jim Martin, the pair also made cracks about Palin being "ludicrous" as Olbermann tagged her as "Governor Ludicrous of Alaska," and Carlson called her "Miss Slight Ludicrous."

Olbermann’s "turkey-killing" crack was a reference to a recent interview Palin did at a turkey farm in which she talked about her traditional pardoning of a turkey while a man was using a machine to kill turkeys in the background, a scene which was hyped by David Shuster, who substitute hosted for Olbermann the week before Thanksgiving. Video of Shuster’s segment deriding Palin on the Thursday, November 20, Countdown can be found here.

Olbermann introduced Monday’s segment accusing Palin of talking "gibberish" and then deriding her with a fake middle name pertaining to her turkey farm interview: "On the eve of the runoff election between Senator Saxby Chambliss and his Democratic challenger Jim Martin, their surrogates – Governor Sarah Palin and rapper Ludacris – campaigned in Georgia today, clearly a vainglorious attempt to try to sway voters with gibberish from a so-called younger generation. And I`m not referring to the guy who does the hip hop. In our number one story on the Countdown, it`s Governor ‘Give-Me-A-Turkey-Killing-Backdrop-And-I`ll-Talk-All-Day’ Palin stumping for Chambliss with a vigilant eye on her prospects for 2012." After playing a soundbite of Palin from the rally, the Countdown host mocked her speech: "That could easily be contracted to, ‘I`m kind of selfishly looking at the future.’"

After quoting the Anchorage Daily News as its editorial page attacked Chambliss for the campaign he ran against Cleland in 2002, Olbermann returned to more name-calling directed at Palin: "As for the election, hard to say whether Ludacris making an appearance for the Democrat, Jim Martin, or Governor Ludicrous of Alaska or anybody else would actually boost the traditionally low turnout for such run-off contests."

Olbermann then brought aboard Carlson, who started off relaying complaints that Palin has not spent enough time in Alaska since the campaign, and then the Countdown host made his over the top attack on Chambliss for his 2002 campaign against Cleland. Olbermann: "This just occurred to me: What is the more grotesque event to be standing in front of and not paying attention to? What we`re seeing now, she`s standing in front of Saxby Chambliss, who ran that campaign against Max Cleland six years ago, or standing in front of a turkey-killing machine?"

Carlson responded that "Both are killers," and went on to suggest that Chambliss should apologize for the ads he ran against Cleland:

CARLSON, LAUGHING: Both are killers.

OLBERMANN: Yes.

CARLSON: Talking about her son in her appearance and ignoring what happened to Max Cleland is a terrible disconnect. I don`t think enough attention can ever be paid to the ads that were run against Max Cleland. And I`m waiting to hear if Chambliss apologizes for that some day.

OLBERMANN: Well, I hope you have some time because you’re going to have to keep waiting for a while.

CARLSON: Yeah, an eternity, apparently.

As previously documented by NewsBusters, Olbermann has expressed his outrage over one famous attack ad against Cleland by mentioning the ad several times in the last few years. The ad, which can be seen here, shows a photograph of Osama bin Laden while attacking Cleland for his numerous votes to apply labor union rules to the Homeland Security Department. But Olbermann himself in June hypocritically used a photograph of Osama bin Laden to link the al-Qaeda leader to John McCain as he claimed that McCain advisor Phil Gramm "made it easier for bin Laden." Olbermann, from June 2: "How [McCain's] chief economic advisor not only precipitated the mortgage meltdown and lobbied for the banks, against the victims, but how in the Senate he blocked legislation that would have enabled the Bush administration to force foreign banks into cooperating on anti-terror measures before and after 9/11. How John McCain's top guy on the economy made it easier for bin Laden."

Notably, former Senator Zell Miller, a conservative Democrat from Georgia who endorsed Cleland in 2002, recounted Cleland's misguided voting record as Miller appeared on the September 1, 2004, MSNBC coverage of the Republican National Convention, as he discussed why his view of the Democratic party had grown more negative: "I think the straw that broke the camel's back was the homeland security measure when, time after time, John Kerry and the Democrats put collective bargaining above homeland security. That did it for me. ... And nobody is to blame, except, well, they are to blame because they voted that way. But who is really to blame is Tom Daschle for insisting that they do it 11 times over a four-month period. It was dumb."

Chris Matthews responded: "And, well, you could argue that it was politically dumb of Max Cleland to support the labor unions in Georgia against what looked like the national interests. My question is, is it good for America to impugn that vote as a vote against the security of this country?"

Miller: "That vote was not impugned. He did not get defeated because of that ad that you like to talk about. You can't vote with Tom Daschle 85 percent of the time and be expected to be able to be reelected in Georgia."

Returning to Monday’s Countdown, the name-calling against Palin continued as Carlson called Palin "Miss Slight Ludicrous," and, after Carlson argued that Barack Obama had not campaigned in Georgia because it would appear unpresidential to do so while he is selecting his Cabinet, the duo continued to lambast Palin as Olbermann quipped that Palin was "unpresidential," and not "up to those standards" of being Vice President:

CARLSON: I think now it would be, on the eve of the election or in the last couple of days, I think it would have been unpresidential.

OLBERMANN, LAUGHING: Well, for that we have, we have Sarah Palin, for the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) unpresidential.

CARLSON: For that we have a vice presidential nominee.

OLBERMANN: Yeah, who`s not quite even up to those standards.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, December 1, 2008 Countdown on MSNBC:

KEITH OLBERMANN: On the eve of the runoff election between Senator Saxby Chambliss and his Democratic challenger Jim Martin, their surrogates – Governor Sarah Palin and rapper Ludacris – campaigned in Georgia today, clearly a vainglorious attempt to try to sway voters with gibberish from a so-called younger generation. And I`m not referring to the guy who does the hip hop.

In our number one story on the Countdown, it`s Governor "Give-Me-A-Turkey-Killing-Backdrop-And-I`ll-Talk-All-Day" Palin stumping for Chambliss with a vigilant eye on her prospects for 2012. Four rallies today, Governor Palin today saying that Senator Chambliss doesn`t just run with the Washington herd and touting his reelection as vital to maintaining checks and balances in Congress.

SARAH PALIN: I`m kind of selfishly looking at this, to tell you the truth. It`s not just for Georgia. This is for folks in Alaska and in Hawaii and in Maine and in Washington State and Washington, D.C. I`m looking at this, you know, I`m a mom with five kids. This is for my kids and their future.

OLBERMANN: That could easily be contracted to, "I`m kind of selfishly looking at the future." And the governor has some ideas on that score.

PALIN CLIP #1: Let us reclaim our good name as those with spending restraint and believing in limited government and providing economic opportunity and by protecting liberty.

PALIN CLIP #2: Let us all be true to our beliefs. We must be strong in defense of the weak, and unafraid to speak up for American ideals and firm in support for America’s finest, those who are defending those ideals for us in a very dangerous world.

OLBERMANN: But, closer to her so-called home, the editorial page editor of the Anchorage Daily News asks, "I wonder if she knows the true measure of the man she is eagerly helping. In the best Karl Rove fashion, Chambliss the draft-evader attacked Max Cleland the war hero for being soft on terrorism," referring to the Chambliss 2002 infamous Senate run. And the Alaska Dispatch recently assessed the governor`s attendance record: "It`s now been three weeks since the election. And Sarah has yet to set foot in the capital Juneau."

As for the election, hard to say whether Ludacris making an appearance for the Democrat, Jim Martin, or Governor Ludicrous of Alaska or anybody else would actually boost the traditionally low turnout for such run-off contests. We will found out tomorrow. In the interim, let`s bring in Bloomberg News political columnist and Washington editor of "The Week" magazine, Margaret Carlson. Good evening, Margaret.

MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney also campaigned for Chambliss so Palin would hardly be committing a political sin if her motives for doing the same thing includes her own political future. But, to be clear, that is what`s going on here?

CARLSON: Well, she did say she was doing it for the people of Alaska, which I think the people of Alaska would take issue with, in particular with the newspapers taking issue with it. But her popularity rating in Alaska has gone down since her national debut. And she hasn`t been back in the capital of Alaska since August. So they have reason to complain. But I now think of Sarah Palin like Bill Clinton and like Elvis, never going away. She`s with us for a good long time. I think she`ll be opening supermarkets soon.

OLBERMANN: This just occurred to me: What is the more grotesque event to be standing in front of and not paying attention to? What we`re seeing now, she`s standing in front of Saxby Chambliss, who ran that campaign against Max Cleland six years ago, or standing in front of a turkey-killing machine?

CARLSON, LAUGHING: Both are killers.

OLBERMANN: Yes.

CARLSON: Talking about her son in her appearance and ignoring what happened to Max Cleland is a terrible disconnect. I don`t think enough attention can ever be paid to the ads that were run against Max Cleland. And I`m waiting to hear if Chambliss apologizes for that some day.

OLBERMANN: Well, I hope you have some time because you’re going to have to keep waiting for a while.

CARLSON: Yeah, an eternity, apparently.

OLBERMANN: Whether or not she actually helps Chambliss get votes is not really of importance as long as she can still draw the crowds and keep herself in the public eye. And it`s particularly in the lower 48. That`s the key to this from her viewpoint, correct?

CARLSON: Right. Now, you know, you cannot keep her on the tundra now that she`s seen the lower 48. She likes it here. And she gets, you know, she gets air time. And, by the way, she did pull off crowds for him. We should see who did better, Ludacris, the actual Ludacris or Miss Slight Ludicrous.

OLBERMANN: Obviously, the President-elect is kind of busy and there are major issues going on here, but is there an explanation, is there an excuse out of the White House in waiting for why he did not make a single appearance on behalf of a Democratic challenger who at least had a chance of unseating another Republican in Georgia?

CARLSON: Well, you gave the excuse, which is he`s naming his national security and other teams. And, you know, if he’s, hold true to, at least temporarily or at least during the honeymoon to trying to be bipartisan, to go and appear in a partisan election goes against the image he`s trying to create right now.

OLBERMANN: Well, all right, I suppose. We thought, at some point maybe earlier in the process, it might have been acceptable. Do you think he`ll regret this at some later date, especially if Chambliss wins?

CARLSON: Well, you have a point. If he’d done it right away, before he started giving the press conferences and choosing, you know, I think he could have done it. I think now it would be, on the eve of the election or in the last couple of days, I think it would have been unpresidential.

OLBERMANN, LAUGHING: Well, for that we have, we have Sarah Palin, for the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) unpresidential.

CARLSON: For that we have a vice presidential nominee.

OLBERMANN: Yeah, who`s not quite even up to those standards. Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg News, as always, have a good night, and thank you kindly.

CARLSON: You too, thanks, Keith.

2008 Congressional 2008 Presidential 2012 Presidential MSNBC Georgia Countdown Max Cleland Sarah Palin Saxby Chambliss


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