Olbermann Hypocritically Linked McCain to Bin Laden, But Decried Anti-Cleland Ad

When Georgia Republicans ran an ad against former Senator Max Cleland, which included a photograph of Osama bin Laden, attacking the Democratic Senator's numerous votes to apply labor union rules to the Homeland Security Department, liberals were outraged as they claimed the ad was an attack on the "patriotism" of war hero Cleland. MSNBC host Keith Olbermann expressed outrage by mentioning the attack on Cleland several times in the last few years as he claimed that Cleland was "cut down," "sandbagged," "blindsided," "cheap shotted," "mugged," "hamstrung," and subjected to a "hatchet job," in part because of the inclusion of the bin Laden photograph.

But Olbermann himself recently employed a photograph of Osama bin Laden as he teased a story contending that "John McCain's top guy [Phil Gramm] on the economy made it easier for bin Laden," and charging that Gramm was "on the side of the terrorists' bankers before and after 9/11." The MSNBC host has also accused McCain of "betraying" U.S. troops, and has suggested that McCain does not "understand [the] risk and sacrifice" of U.S. troops serving in Iraq, and that he has "abandoned" them. He even went so far as to suggest that McCain has ulterior motives for supporting an extended U.S. presence in Iraq because he supports "war-profiteering" by U.S. firms who would benefit. And Olbermann once mocked McCain as "awol" during as Senate vote because he was at a fund-raiser "supporting himself instead of the troops." (Transcripts follow)

On the June 2, 2008, Countdown, a photograph of Osama bin Laden displayed during the opening teaser as Olbermann referred to McCain advisor and former Texas Senator Phil Gramm: "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."

Olbermann later plugged the segment: "His chief economic advisor might as well be throwing money out of planes. Not just on the side of the mortgage banks versus their victims, but he was also on the side of the terrorists' bankers before and after 9/11."

And during the same show, Olbermann suggested that McCain's real motivation for wanting to keep U.S. troops in Iraq involves "war-profiteering," which the MSNBC host charged during a regular segment, called "Bushed!", in which Olbermann accuses the Bush administration of involvement in various scandals. Olbermann: "But first, the headlines breaking in the administration's 50 running scandals: 'Bushed!' Number three: War profiteering-gate. Wondering why Senator McCain wants to stay in Iraq? It's all part of the contracts. The State Department revealing it is working up contracts with the Iraqi government deals between U.S. firms -- even the Defense Department itself -- to provide mentors to Iraqi defense officials, to establish a marshals system for Iraqi courts, to provide translators and to build new prisons. They are multi-year contracts."

Also during the same show, Olbermann at one point demeaned McCain as he referred to McCain and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "those two rattling their sabers." After playing a clip of McCain attacking the Iranian president at a meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Olbermann continued: "Ahmadinejad playing along today -- the celebration of the 19th anniversary of his nation's revolution, predicted the day when Israel would disappear from the map. While those two rattled their sabers, the Obama camp had its own blades out. Congressman Adam Schiff cutting through McCain's arguments with two simple questions for the Republican candidate about his Middle East policy."

On the June 11, 2008, Today show, Matt Lauer asked McCain if the Senator had "a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq," prompting McCain to respond: "No, but that's not too important. What's important is the casualties in Iraq." Olbermann was so outraged by McCain's answer that he interviewed several guests on the subject, including Democratic Senator John Kerry and Brandon Friedman of VoteVets.org, which appears to be a group that works to elect veterans to political office who are Democrats.

Olbermann plugged the segment with Friedman: "You're fighting in Iraq. You hear a former POW running for President saying it's not that important when you and your buddies finally ship home. And you hear his top supporters say you can't criticize the man for it because he's a veteran. How would you feel? We'll ask Brandon Friedman of VoteVets.org next."

The MSNBC host introduced the segment by complaining that McCain and Senator Joe Lieberman, whom Olbermann mocked as a "dogsbody" for McCain, "insinuated that [McCain's] status as a Vietnam vet somehow justifies his contention that the young men and women fighting for our country should stay there indefinitely." Olbermann did not note that the organization VoteVets.org is a group that tends to support the election of veterans who are Democrats.

At one point, Olbermann suggested that McCain had "abandoned" U.S. troops in Iraq and that he does not "understand risk and sacrifice." Olbermann: "What I hear when I hear from servicemen or I talk to vets, more than anything else, is their astonishment when generals or veterans like McCain or the brass, just to use the general term there, don't get it. That of all people, these are the ones they naively thought would understand risk and sacrifice. Does it, does it matter more that they are abandoned by a John McCain who did serve as opposed to a George Bush who did not?"

On the June 12, 2008, Countdown, Olbermann delivered a "Special Comment" attack on McCain based on the Senator's comments. At one point, Olbermann accused McCain of "betraying" U.S. troops in Iraq as he plugged the segment: "And Iraq: Senator McCain, it is not about valor and flags and never surrendering. It is about getting the troops home. And you are betraying them. My 'Special Comment' ahead."

NewsBusters previously documented that on the May 22, 2008, Countdown, Olbermann seemed to mock John McCain's military service as he quipped that McCain was "awol" for not showing up for a Senate vote on providing college tuition to American troops, and further accused McCain, whom he called "Senator 'I Support the Troops,'" of "supporting himself instead of the troops." The MSNBC host also mocked McCain as being at the "front lines" of a fund-raiser in California. And on the May 2, 2008, Countdown, Olbermann thought it was amusing to scold Ann Coulter for making a crack about Barack Obama being a "Manchurian candidate" because it might remind people of McCain, even though it was Olbermann, not Coulter, who drew a connection with McCain, as he observed that the film The Manchurian Candidate was about a "presidential election and an American war hero POW who'd been brainwashed in Southeast Asia."

Olbermann's cavalier attitude toward McCain's military service and support for the American military contrasts sharply with the MSNBC host's outrage that Georgia Republicans attacked Cleland's vote in favor collective bargaining by Homeland Security Department employees as one that could weaken the effectiveness of the agency to do its job. A clip of the ad can be seen here. Former Senator Zell Miller, a conservative Democrat from Georgia, recounted Cleland's misguided vote 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."

But Olbermann has repeatedly referred to the campaign ad against Cleland as reflecting poorly on Republicans, even singling out the use of bin Laden's photograph -- something Olbermann's Countdown show would eventually do on its June 2, 2008, show while attacking McCain.

In an April 21, 2008, interview with Hillary Clinton, as the Countdown host fretted about one of her campaign ads that used a photograph of bin Laden, Olbermann described Cleland as having been "cut down": "That ad flashes a very brief image of Osama bin Laden. For nearly six years now, since Senator Max Cleland was cut down by a commercial that featured a picture of bin Laden, that has been, that tactic has been kind of a bloody shirt for many Democrats. Is it not just, in your opinion, as much of a scare tactic for a Democrat to use it against another Democrat, as it is for a Republican to use it in a race against a Democrat?"

During the September 20, 2007, Countdown, Olbermann repeatedly invoked Cleland as he plugged a "Special Comment" attacking Bush for hypocrisy -- ironically -- because President Bush attacked MoveOn.org's "General Betray Us" ad smearing General David Petraeus over the troop surge in Iraq.

In the show's opening teaser, Olbermann referred to the "swiftboating of Kerry" and the "sandbagging of Cleland."

At 8:12 PM, he plugged: "The President's answer to the question about the Petraeus ad was not only hypocritical on the obvious level -- his party funded the hatchet jobs on John Kerry and Max Cleland, vets, and used bin Laden and Zawahiri as advertising centerpieces -- but there's another level of danger to the President's remark, the blurring of this supposedly indelible American line between civilian politics and the military. Tonight my 'Special Comment' on the President of hypocrisy."

At 8:22 PM, Olbermann made another plug: "That ad, the President for whose party this would not have made the cut in its search to blindside John Kerry or Max Cleland, veterans both, actually complains about that ad."

During his "Special Comment," which can be seen here, Olbermann invoked Cleland and John Kerry as he accused Bush of hypocrisy for complaining about the anti-Petraeus ad: "You could say this seriously after the advertising mugging of Senator Max Cleland? After the swift-boating of John Kerry?"

Olbermann also charged: "Terrorizing your own people in the hopes of getting them to vote for your own party has never brought as much as a public comment from you. The Republican hamstringing of Captain Max Cleland and the lying about Lieutenant John Kerry, those met with your approval? But a shot at General Petraeus, about whom you conveniently ignore, it is you who reduced him from four-star hero to political hack, that merits this pissy juvenile blast at the Democrats on national television? Your hypocrisy is so vast, sir, that if we could somehow use it to fill the ranks in Iraq, you could realize your dream and keep us fighting there until the year 3000."

On the September 13, 2006, Countdown, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank, without any objection by Olbermann, ridiculously described the anti-Cleland ad as "comparing this decorated, wounded Vietnam veteran to Osama bin Laden."

On the August 15, 2006, Countdown, Olbermann interviewed Time's Mike Allen about an ad being run against Hillary Clinton in her bid for Senate re-election, and which used bin Laden's photograph, and the MSNBC host posed the question: "Back to this bin Laden and Hillary Clinton ad, it was obviously the bin Laden photograph has been used previously to help sandbag Max Cleland in Georgia in 2002. Why is this considered, that particular thing, images of bin Laden, considered acceptable? A Democrat who put up an ad with a picture of Dick Cheney next to a picture of Osama bin Laden and had a voice-over who would say, ‘Who's hurt this country more?' would be run out of town on a rail. Why is one okay and not the other?"

Below are transcripts from MSNBC's Countdown show in which Olbermann either mocked McCain's military service or accused the Arizona Senator of not supporting the troops:

Transcripts of relevant portions of the May 2 and May 22, 2008, Countdown can be found here.

From the June 2, 2008, Countdown:

KEITH OLBERMANN, IN OPENING TEASER: And just the start for John McCain's Phil Gramm scandal. How his 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.

...

OLBERMANN: But first, the headlines breaking in the administration's 50 running scandals: "Bushed!" Number three: War profiteering-gate. Wondering why Senator McCain wants to stay in Iraq? It's all part of the contracts. The State Department revealing it is working up contracts with the Iraqi government deals between U.S. firms -- even the Defense Department itself -- to provide mentors to Iraqi defense officials, to establish a Marshals system for Iraqi courts, to provide translators and to build new prisons. They are multi-year contracts.

...

OLBERMANN: John McCain's Phil Gramm scandal. It is far worse than we thought. His chief economic advisor might as well be throwing money out of planes. Not just on the side of the mortgage banks versus their victims, but he was also on the side of the terrorists' bankers before and after 9/11.

...

OLBERMANN: John McCain's Phil Gramm scandal broadened today. It proved his top economic advisor was not only on the wrong side of the mortgage meltdown, he was also on the wrong side of this nation's effort to choke off the funding for international terrorists. Our third story tonight, the timing could not have been worse for McCain. He was speaking today to the powerful and sometimes controversial American Israel Public Affairs Committee, not merely the largest pro-Israeli lobbying group in the country, but it is also a significant bellwether of and mover of America's Jewish voters, just as we were learning that Phil Gramm has a history of making life easier for Israel's enemies, and ours.

More on that in a moment. First the AIPAC battle. Senator McCain today described Iran as the foremost threat in his mind, bragged about his record on Iran, and ridiculed Senator Obama's call for a diplomatic approach.

JOHN MCCAIN: We hear talk of a meeting with the Iranian leadership offered up as if it were some sudden inspiration, a bold new idea that somehow nobody has ever thought of before. Yet it's hard to see what such a summit with President Ahmadinejad would actually gain, except an earful of anti-Semitic rants and a worldwide audience for a man who denies one Holocaust and talks before frenzied crowds about starting another.

OLBERMANN: Ahmadinejad playing along today -- the celebration of the 19th anniversary of his nation's revolution, predicted the day when Israel would disappear from the map. While those two rattled their sabers, the Obama camp had its own blades out. Congressman Adam Schiff cutting through McCain's arguments with two simple questions for the Republican candidate about his Middle East policy.

...

OLBERMANN LATER CONTINUED: Beyond the rhetoric, disturbing news emerging over the weekend about the substance of McCain's approach to foreign policy and whether it might actually benefit those who wish harm to us and to Israel. At the heart of it, McCain's top economic adviser, former Texas Senator Phil Gramm. As we revealed here on Countdown last week, Gramm on the payroll of the giant Swiss bank UBS, helping to defeat US legislation that would give relief to Americans facing foreclosure at the same time he was helping write McCain's economic policies. Now, Newsweek magazine reporting that Gramm's bank is under investigation for alleged use of overseas tax havens to hide assets of the wealthy from U.S. authorities. On September 20th, 2001, the New York Times reported that a single senator had blocked legislation that would have helped the U.S. investigators track Osama bin Laden's financial network before 9/11. It was Phil Gramm, who still defended these tax havens after 9/11, whose bank was still lobbying Congress on behalf of tax havens as recently as last year, including lobbying done by this man, UBS senior lobbyist John Savercool, formerly a legislative assistant to Senator Phil Gramm. Here once again to Chris Hayes, Washington editor of the Nation magazine. ...

On the June 11, 2008, Countdown, Olbermann opened the show:

OLBERMANN: Good evening. This is Wednesday, June 11th, 146 days until the 2008 presidential election. If Senator John McCain loses that election handily, he may look back to this day as the moment the remaining chance slipped from his grasp. Before the sun had risen in his home state, the Senator had spoken as if he simply did not care how long our American heroes serving in Iraq must stay there. Our fifth story on the Countdown: Senator McCain suggesting this morning that bringing American troops home from Iraq is, quote, "not too important. What's important is the casualties in Iraq." As if Iraq were the Korean demilitarized zone and not a place where 12 Americans have died in just the first 11 days of this month. The remarks coming early this morning in an interview on the Today show. Matt Lauer's question  predicated on the question of, if the surge is working.

MATT LAUER, TODAY SHOW: Do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?

MCCAIN: No, but that's not too important. What's important is the casualties in Iraq. Americans are in South Korea. Americans are in Japan. American troops are in Germany. That's all fine. American casualties and the ability to withdraw. We will be able to withdraw, General Petraeus is going to tell us in July when he thinks we are. But the key to it is we don't want any more Americans in harm's way.

After interviewing John Kerry, Olbermann plugged his interview with Friedman of VoteVets.org:

OLBERMANN: You're fighting in Iraq. You hear a former POW running for President saying it's not that important when you and your buddies finally ship home. And you hear his top supporters say you can't criticize the man for it because he's a veteran. How would you feel? We'll ask Brandon Friedman of VoteVets.org next.

Soon came the segment with Friedman:

OLBERMANN: Four thousand and ninety-five American troops are dead, nearly 30,000 more wounded, 40,000 diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder -- all since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Our fourth story on the Countdown: And John McCain says it's not too important when the others finally come home. To add insult upon their injuries, today, McCain and his dogsbody, Senator Lieberman, insinuated that his own status as a Vietnam vet somehow justifies his contention that the young men and women fighting for our country now should stay there indefinitely.

MCCAIN CLIP #1: My friends, veterans hate war more than anyone else.

MCCAIN CLIP #2: I know that it has caused great heartache and pain because I visited with families and I know them. But I also want to tell you that I believe that in the conflict in Iraq, with this new strategy, we are succeeding.

OLBERMANN: We are joined now by Brandon Friedman, vice chairman of VoteVets.org. He himself served in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Thank you again for your time tonight, sir.

BRANDON FRIEDMAN, VOTEVETS.ORG: Thanks for having me on, Keith. Glad to be here.

OLBERMANN: How do veterans, how do veterans' families feel when they hear that the man who wants to be the next commander-in-chief does not think it's too important when they come home?

FRIEDMAN: Keith, this is a morale crusher. You know, if you can imagine, say a sergeant, who's on his third tour and he's in the 14th month of that tour and he hears the potential President saying something like this, it kills morale. You know, the troops are over there and, you know, I've been there, I've had to deal with this. But the troops over there hang on every word they hear from a leader, you know, especially the commander-in-chief, but also someone who could be the commander-in-chief. And when they hear something like this, you know, it really kills them on the inside because, you know, their families want them home. They want to come home, you know, or focus on the real global war on terror elsewhere. But this is really a killer when you hear something like this.

OLBERMANN: What I hear when I hear from servicemen or I talk to vets, more than anything else, is their astonishment when generals or veterans like McCain or the brass, just to use the general term there,  don't get it. That of all people, these are the ones they naively thought would understand risk and sacrifice. Does it, does it matter more that they are abandoned by a John McCain who did serve as opposed to a George Bush who did not?

FRIEDMAN: Absolutely, Keith. You know, we've come to not expect a whole lot from George W. Bush. But when you have a veteran like John McCain who has gone through so much in Vietnam, you really expect a lot more out of him because the way you see it as a soldier or a Marine or an airman or whatever, is that John McCain should know better, you know. He's been in our shoes. He's had it worst than most of us, you know. He should know better. And, you know, for those of us who've been there and who've lived through this, we just would expect a lot more, and it really saddens us, you know, to see this happen because there are thousands and thousands of veterans who'd just disagree with him on this.

OLBERMANN: And the Lieberman reaction or the reaction to his reaction, where basically he referenced McCain's status as a veteran, as POW, as war hero, as carte blanche for the excuse for this, as if McCain is immune to military criticism simply because he was a POW, that the merits can't even be discussed. Then, that reminds me of every bit of Army red tape I`ve ever heard of or every bit of censorship that a military sometimes invokes in times of war relative to its own personnel.

FRIEDMAN: Absolutely. You know, we all respect John McCain's service. But he's not the only person who suffered in war. We have troops coming back from this war who are quadriplegics, who've been maimed, who've had to go through so much. And, you know, it doesn't give him a carte blanche reason to say something like that. He doesn't it get a free pass. You know, we've been over there, too. We've been in war too. And we know what it's like. And he doesn't get a free pass, especially from us, because we hold him to a higher standard. And, you know, all I can say is that we respect John McCain's service. All we ask in return is that he respects ours. And for many of the people I talked to, who are on active duty, or who've just come off active duty but who have served over there, we don't feel like we're getting that a lot of the time.

OLBERMANN: Brandon Friedman, veteran of the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, now at VoteVets.org. Thank you, Brandon.

FRIEDMAN: Thanks for having me.

From the June 12, 2008, Countdown:

KEITH OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:31 PM: And Iraq: Senator McCain, it is not about valor and flags and never surrendering. It is about getting the troops home. And you are betraying them. My "Special Comment" ahead.

Below is a transcript and description of Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss's ad against former Senator Max Cleland from the 2002 election:

FOR 4 SECONDS, THE FIRST SCREEN SHOT SHOWS A PHOTOGRAPH OF OSAMA BIN LADEN IN THE UPPER LEFT QUADRANT OF THE SCREEN, A VIDEO CLIP OF SADDAM HUSSEIN SHAKING HANDS WITH ONE OF HIS OFFICERS IN THE LOWER RIGHT QUADRANT, WHAT APPEARS TO BE A VIDEO CLIP OF TERRORISTS TRAINING IN THE UPPER RIGHT QUADRANT, AND A VIDEO CLIP THAT INCLUDES AN AIRPLANE IN THE LOWER LEFT QUADRANT.

MALE NARRATOR BEGINS: As America faces terrorists and extremist dictators-

THE AD CUTS TO VARIOUS PHOTOGRAPHS OF MAX CLELAND FOR THE REST OF THE 30-SECOND AD, WHILE SHOWING SOME OF THE NARRATOR'S WORDS ON SCREEN. THERE IS ALSO A SCREEN SHOT THAT SHOWS A LIST OF VOTES IDENTIFIED ONLY BY NUMBER THAT CLELAND CAST INVOLVING HOMELAND SECURITY.

NARRATOR CONTINUES: -Max Cleland runs television ads claiming he has the courage to lead. He says he supports President Bush at every opportunity. But that's not the truth. Since July, Max Cleland has voted against the President's vital Homeland Security efforts 11 times. Max Cleland says he has the courage to lead. But the record proves Max Cleland is just misleading.

Below are transcripts from MSNBC's Countdown show during which Olbermann mentioned Cleland:

From the April 21, 2008, Countdown:

KEITH OLBERMANN, TO HILLARY CLINTON: Let me ask you about the campaign and something you said in Pittsburgh today. And, again, let me read the quote about being President: "It's the toughest job in the world, and you have to be ready for anything, two wars, skyrocketing oil prices, an economy in crisis. Well, if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen." That is almost word for word the narration of this new ad that your campaign put out today. And that ad flashes a very brief image of Osama bin Laden. For nearly six years now, since Senator Max Cleland was cut down by a commercial that featured a picture of bin Laden, that has been, that tactic has been kind of a bloody shirt for many Democrats. Is it not just, in your opinion, as much of a scare tactic for a Democrat to use it against another Democrat, as it is for a Republican to use it in a race against a Democrat?

From the November 5, 2007, Countdown:

OLBERMANN: Daniel Levin took himself to a military base and let himself be waterboarded. Mr. Bush, ever done anything that personally courageous? Perhaps when you've gone to Walter Reed and teared up over the maimed servicemen, and then gone back to the White House and confirmed and determined that there would be more maimed servicemen? Has it been that kind of personal courage, Mr. Bush, when you've spoken of American triumphs and the triumph of freedom and sacrifice of your own popularity for the sake of our safety, and then permitted others to fire or discredit or destroy anybody who disagreed with you, whether they were your own generals or Max Cleland or Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame or Daniel Levin?

From the September 20, 2007, Countdown:

KEITH OLBERMANN, IN OPENING TEASER: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? The President forgets his line.

GEORGE W. BUSH: The return on success. That's what I said.

OLBERMANN: No comment -- and a mean no comment, at that -- on Syria and Israel. Plenty on politics at his news conference.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, for Republicans seeking election next year, are you an asset or a liability?

BUSH: Strong asset.

OLBERMANN: And a final punch to the gut conveniently asked about the MoveOn.org ad.

BUSH CLIP #1: I thought the ad was disgusting-

BUSH CLIP #2: -and I was disappointed that not more leaders in the Democrat Party spoke out strongly against that kind of ad.

OLBERMANN: Seriously, after the swiftboating of Kerry, the sandbagging of Cleland and this:

[SHOWS CLIP OF AD]

After all that, you thought a bad pun from MoveOn was disgusting? A "Special Comment" on the President of hypocrisy and his dangerous blurring of the military and the civilian government.

...

OLBERMANN, AT 8:12 P.M.: The President's answer to the question about the Petraeus ad was not only hypocritical on the obvious level -- his party funded the hatchet jobs on John Kerry and Max Cleland, vets, and used bin Laden and Zawahiri as advertising centerpieces -- but there's another level of danger to the President's remark, the blurring of this supposedly indelible American line between civilian politics and the military. Tonight my "Special Comment" on the President of hypocrisy.

...

OLBERMANN, AT 8:22 P.M.: That ad, the President for whose party this would not have made the cut in its search to blindside John Kerry or Max Cleland, veterans both, actually complains about that ad. A "Special Comment" ahead.

...

OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:48 P.M.: The President whines about the MoveOn.org ad, the same President who injected General Petraeus into a political realm in which he does not belong, the same President whose party cheap shotted Max Cleland and John Kerry, veterans and dozens more. My "Special Comment" next.

...

OLBERMANN: Finally tonight, as promised, a "Special Comment" on Mr. Bush's smear today of MoveOn.org and, in a larger context, his smear of criticism of his own political front men. The President behaving a little bit more than usual, like we'd all interrupted him while he was watching his favorite cartoons on the DVR, stepped before the press conference microphone and, after side-stepping most of the substantive issues, like the Israeli raid on Syria, in condescending and infuriating fashion, produced a big wow political finish that indicates certainly that, if it was not already, the annual Republican witch-hunting season is under way.

"I thought the ad was disgusting. I felt the ad was an attack not only on General Petraeus, but on the U.S. military. And I was disappointed that not more leaders in the Democrat party spoke out strongly against that kind of ad. And that leads me to come to this conclusion: that most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like MoveOn.org or more afraid of irritating them than they are of irritating the United States military. That was a sorry deal."

First off, it's "Democrat-ic" party, sir. You keep pretending you're not a politician, so stop using words your party made up. Show a little respect.

Secondly, you could say this seriously after the advertising mugging of Senator Max Cleland? After the swift-boating of John Kerry?

But most importantly, making that the last question -- a plant -- so that there was no chance at a follow-up?

And so nobody could point out, as Chris Matthews did so incisively a week ago tonight, that you were the one who inappropriately interjected General Petraeus into the political dialogue of this nation in the first place!

Deliberately, premeditatedly, and virtually without precedent, you shanghaied a military man as your personal spokesman, and now you're complaining about the outcome, and then running away from the microphone?

Eleven months ago, the President's own party, the Republican National Committee, introduced this very different kind of advertisement, just 19 days before the midterm elections.
Bin Laden and Zawahiri's rumored quote of six years ago about having bought "suitcase bombs," all set against a ticking clock, and finally a blinding explosion and the dire announcement: "These are the stakes. Vote November 7th."

That one was okay, Mr. Bush? Terrorizing your own people in the hopes of getting them to vote for your own party has never brought as much as a public comment from you. The Republican hamstringing of Captain Max Cleland and the lying about Lieutenant John Kerry, those met with your approval? But a shot at General Petraeus, about whom you conveniently ignore, it is you who reduced him from four-star hero to political hack, that merits this pissy juvenile blast at the Democrats on national television? Your hypocrisy is so vast, sir, that if we could somehow use it to fill the ranks in Iraq, you could realize your dream and keep us fighting there until the year 3000.

The rest of Olbermann's September 20, 2007, "Special Comment" can be found here.

From the September 13, 2006, Countdown:

OLBERMANN: But when the Speaker from the other point of view, the same issue from the other side of the coin, when the Speaker of the House says that the Democrats don't know who the enemy are, is there not some chance that a statement that outrageous might actually hit home with people, who'd say, "What in the hell are you talking about?"

DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: Well, you'd think so, but it happened -- think about all the way back to Max Cleland in 2002, when people were comparing this decorated, wounded Vietnam veteran to Osama bin Laden. Now, I don't think people actually would come out there and believe that the Democrats are in fact guilty of treason, but it does leave the image in the public's mind that they are weaker on terrorism. This NBC poll is showing, like an ABC poll before, the President's numbers improving on terrorism. I think that's no coincidence.

From the August 15, 2006, Countdown:

OLBERMANN: Back to this bin Laden and Hillary Clinton ad, it was obviously the bin Laden photograph has been used previously to help sandbag Max Cleland in Georgia in 2002. Why is this considered, that particular thing, images of bin Laden, considered acceptable? A Democrat who put up an ad with a picture of Dick Cheney next to a picture of Osama bin Laden and had a voice-over who would say, "Who's hurt this country more?" would be run out of town on a rail. why is one okay and not the other?

ALLEN: Well, Keith, I don't know that it is considered acceptable. And I think the fact that you're bringing it to people's attention answers that question. I think this ad is almost so ridiculous to even talk about. If you're 30 points behind, you're also last. So, you know, this put out an ad with a couple of factual inaccuracies, as you mentioned, Senator Clinton did vote for the Patriot Act in '01 and '02, and to renew it in '06, but, you know, this is a market-oriented business. And when the Bush campaign put out videos showing images of the World Trade Center, they took a lot of heat for that. And they will tell you that in the end, the benefits outweighed the drawbacks. And Keith, I think that's what you have a lot of times with these is, when you have an ad like this, people know they'll get some criticism, but they think that maybe the whatever emotional benefit they get outweighs that.

OLBERMANN: Well, let's see maybe if the Democrats will try that, an ad of Osama bin Laden and Dick Cheney. Mike Allen of Time magazine, as always, great thanks.