Olbermann: 'Stupid' Bush Team Misinterpret Kerry, Laura Bush in 'Gutter' over Fox Ads

On Tuesday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann came to the defense of Senator John Kerry in the aftermath of the Democratic Senator's comment that those who don't study and get an education "get stuck in Iraq," interpreted by many as an attack on the intelligence of American soldiers. As Olbermann contended that the comment was really meant to be an attack on President Bush's intelligence, Olbermann accused the Bush team of being "stupid" for not seeing Kerry's comments as an attack on the President. Olbermann: "Kerry called them stupid, and they were too stupid to know he called them stupid." Olbermann later charged that First Lady Laura Bush had "gotten into the gutter" and suggested she may have "gone deeper into the muck than Limbaugh" because of her recent comments regarding actor Michael J. Fox's political activities, that it is "easy to manipulate people's feelings...when you're talking about diseases that are so difficult." (Transcript follows)

As Olbermann teased the October 31 show, he played a clip of Kerry's comments as the Countdown host charged that the Bush team were either "stupid" for misunderstanding or were intentionally trying to exploit the gaffe for "more false flag-waving."

John Kerry: "Education, if you make the most of it and you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Olbermann: "The White House response: It's either too stupid to realize John Kerry referred to President Bush and not the troops, or it's too sharp not to try to turn it into more false flag-waving."

Later in the teaser, Olbermann accused Laura Bush of "getting into the gutter" for her comments on Michael J. Fox. Olbermann: "Even the First Lady gets into the gutter, accusing Michael J. Fox of being part of the manipulation of people's feelings."

Olbermann introduced the show accusing President Bush's team of being "stupid" for not realizing Kerry was calling them "stupid." Olbermann: "Senator John Kerry has, in essence, called out President Bush for not being smart, not studying, and being intellectually lazy. And the President and his minions have replied by demanding that Kerry apologize -- to the troops in Iraq. Kerry called them stupid, and they were too stupid to know he called them stupid."

After playing a clip of Kerry's controversial comment followed by sound bites of condemnations from Bush and White House spokesman Tony Snow, Olbermann introduced clips of Kerry's response to the White House, referring to the Democratic Senator being "unwilling to take abuse." Olbermann: "The only evident difference between the final week of this campaign and that of the 2004 race for President, Senator Kerry's unwillingness to take the abuse. His retort almost melted the videotape."

Olbermann brought aboard Dana Milbank of the Washington Post to further discuss the day's political news, and asked Milbank if there were "any question" that the White House was manufacturing a windfall" out of Kerry's gaffe. Milbank agreed with Olbermann's theory and went on to accuse Karl Rove of biannually concocting a "made-for-Fox-News Halloween thriller."

Olbermann: "When you consider that the question about this at the briefing this morning was asked by Bret Baier of Fox News to Tony Snow, Fox News alumni, and that the President rewrote a section of his stump speech at the eleventh hour in Georgia to include those comments about Senator Kerry, is there any question that the White House is not just enjoying a windfall here, but actually manufacturing a windfall?"

Dana Milbank, Washington Post: "Well, of course it's manufactured. It's sort of this made-for-Fox-News Halloween thriller. It only runs in even years, but Karl Rove casts some spell, John Kerry turns into the Grim Reaper, and the Democrats all look as if they've seen a ghost."

Olbermann then questioned whether the Bush team really are "that stupid" in interpreting Kerry's comments as an attack on the troops, or whether they were just "pretending." Olbermann: "There seems, though, to have been a pattern in this administration. Criticism of the administration is turned by the administration into criticism of the troops. But at the White House, at least regarding this, they don't really believe that Kerry attacked the troops, do they? I mean, they're not that, to use his words, crazy, and to use mine, they're not that stupid. They're pretending. Please tell me they're pretending!"

Olbermann later proceeded to the story of Michael J. Fox's recent responses to Rush Limbaugh's criticism of his political activities. As he introduced a story by correspondent David Gregory, Olbermann charged that Laura Bush's recent comments about Fox "may have gone deeper into the muck even than Limbaugh himself."

Olbermann: "Even for Rush Limbaugh, it was embarrassing. Not merely mocking a victim of a terrifying degenerative disease, not merely accusing that victim of exaggerating it, not merely reminding any listener of his own history by referring to going off medication, but being videotaped while he said so. In our fourth story on the Countdown, the saga of Michael J. Fox's political advocacy of stem cell research, bipartisan advocacy that has included doing commercials for the likes of Republican Senator Arlen Specter. And now someone may have gone deeper into the muck even than Limbaugh himself, someone of previously nearly impeccable reputation asked about Mr. Fox and his political advertisements."

Laura Bush: "It's always easy to manipulate people's feelings when they're, especially when you're talking about diseases that are so difficult."

Olbermann: "One wonders where she might have gotten the idea that, quote, 'It's always easy to manipulate people's feelings.' With Mr. Fox, our chief White House correspondent David Gregory."

Below is a complete transcript of relevant portions of the October 31 Countdown show:

Keith Olbermann, in opening teaser: "Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Only in the American political maelstrom of 2006, the last Democratic nominee for President calls the sitting President 'stupid.' And that President's people claim the insult is directed not at the President, but at the troops."

John Kerry: "Education, if you make the most of it and you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Olbermann: "The White House response: It's either too stupid to realize John Kerry referred to President Bush and not the troops, or it's too sharp not to try to turn it into more false flag-waving."

Tony Snow: "Senator Kerry not only owes an apology to those who are serving, but also to the families of those who've given their lives in this. This is an absolute insult."

Olbermann: "And Kerry's rebuttal: I'm not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece. Bring it on: The sequel."

Olbermann: "Even the First Lady gets into the gutter, accusing Michael J. Fox of being part of the manipulation of people's feelings."

Michael J. Fox: "I guess I'm not supposed to speak with you until my symptoms go away. Or maybe I'm just supposed to go away. But I'm not going to go away."

Olbermann: "Tonight, Fox's newfound role as political fulcrum."
...

Olbermann: "Good evening. This is Tuesday, October 31st, seven days until the 2006 midterm elections. Senator John Kerry has, in essence, called out President Bush for not being smart, not studying, and being intellectually lazy. And the President and his minions have replied by demanding that Kerry apologize -- to the troops in Iraq. Kerry called them stupid, and they were too stupid to know he called them stupid. Our fifth story in the Countdown, to top his own original remarkable comments and the administration's equally remarkable missing of the point, intentional or otherwise, there is also Kerry's response, blistering with phrases like 'crazy,' 'stuffed suit,' 'lied,' 'lie,' 'lying,' 'Republican hacks,' 'right-wing nut jobs,' and 'doughy.' We begin where the story did at yesterday's rally for the Democratic candidate for governor of California. Senator Kerry charming the college-age crowd with tales of surfing before segueing into a series of one-liners about his former opponent in the 2004 race for the White House, Mr. Bush."

Kerry: "Yesterday, I was in the state of Texas. As you all know, President Bush used to live there. Now he lives in a state of denial, a state of deception. I'm glad to be here with you. I really am. Thank you for the privilege of coming here. We're here to talk about education, but I want to say something before. You know, education, if you make the most of it, study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Olbermann: "In case it was not crystal clear that Mr. Kerry was referring to the Bush administration having gotten us into war with Iraq, the Senator not only saying so himself this afternoon, but also having others close to him call reporters, like our own Kelly O'Donnell, just to make sure. The White House preferring, though, to stick with its own incorrect interpretation of the remarks. President Bush, late this afternoon, forgetting that neither he nor Senator Kerry is on the ballot next week during a rally in Georgia, and Press Secretary Tony Snow taking Senator Kerry to task at a White House briefing this morning."

After playing sound bites of President Bush and White House spokesman Tony Snow, Olbermann continued.

Olbermann: "The only evident difference between the final week of this campaign and that of the 2004 race for President, Senator Kerry's unwillingness to take the abuse. His retort almost melted the videotape."

Kerry clip #1: "If anybody thinks that a veteran would somehow criticize more than 140,000 troops serving in Iraq and not the President and his people who put them there, they're crazy. It's just wrong. This is a classic GOP textbook, Republican campaign tactic. I'm sick and tired of a bunch of despicable Republicans who will not debate real policy, who won't take responsibility for their own mistakes, standing up and trying to make other people the butt of those mistakes."

Kerry clip #2: "I'm not going to be lectured by a White House or by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, who's taking a day off from mimicking and attacking Michael J. Fox, who's now going to try to attack me and lie about me and distort me. No way. It disgusts me that a bunch of these Republican hacks who've never worn the uniform of our country are willing to lie about those who did. It's over."
...

Olbermann: "It's been two years since you and I discussed an election in terms of Bush v. Kerry, but one week before these midterms, here we go again. When you consider that the question about this at the briefing this morning was asked by Bret Baier of Fox News to Tony Snow, Fox News alumni, and that the President rewrote a section of his stump speech at the eleventh hour in Georgia to include those comments about Senator Kerry, is there any question that the White House is not just enjoying a windfall here, but actually manufacturing a windfall?"

Dana Milbank, Washington Post: "Well, of course it's manufactured. It's sort of this made-for-Fox-News Halloween thriller. It only runs in even years, but Karl Rove casts some spell, John Kerry turns into the Grim Reaper, and the Democrats all look as if they've seen a ghost. Now, the fact that it's manufactured, the fact that John Kerry isn't on the ballot, the fact that it's sort of an odd interpretation of what he said doesn't really matter because here everybody is talking about it today, so it has succeeded in reducing the Democrats' momentum, perhaps just for a day, get people talking about something else, so it is, it may be a little bit silly, it's unlikely to shift an election any way, but it is, it is a distraction."

Olbermann: "There seems, though, to have been a pattern in this administration. Criticism of the administration is turned by the administration into criticism of the troops. But at the White House, at least regarding this, they don't really believe that Kerry attacked the troops, do they? I mean, they're not that, to use his words, crazy, and to use mine, they're not that stupid. They're pretending. Please tell me they're pretending!"

Milbank: "Well, of course, but, I mean, you won't be shocked to learn that there's a lot of pretending that goes on in politics, and the truth is Democrats aren't really angry with the White House for characterizing it this way so much as they are angry with John Kerry for allowing this to happen by botching that line. Now, we can sort of have a sense of what he was trying to say, but if you look at what he actually said, this allows, my inbox was just filled today with one angry denunciation after another. They've even got the American Legion involved here, so. John Kerry has had some trouble before when he sort of goes for the one-liner. Just a few weeks ago, he made his little ha-ha about assassinating the President at the White House."

At about 8:20 p.m., Olbermann proceeded to the Michael J. Fox controversy.

Olbermann: "Even for Rush Limbaugh, it was embarrassing. Not merely mocking a victim of a terrifying degenerative disease, not merely accusing that victim of exaggerating it, not merely reminding any listener of his own history by referring to going off medication, but being videotaped while he said so. In our fourth story on the Countdown, the saga of Michael J. Fox's political advocacy of stem cell research, bipartisan advocacy that has included doing commercials for the likes of Republican Senator Arlen Specter. And now someone may have gone deeper into the muck even than Limbaugh himself, someone of previously nearly impeccable reputation asked about Mr. Fox and his political advertisements."

Laura Bush: "It's always easy to manipulate people's feelings when they're, especially when you're talking about diseases that are so difficult."

Olbermann: "One wonders where she might have gotten the idea that, quote, 'It's always easy to manipulate people's feelings.' With Mr. Fox, our chief White House correspondent David Gregory."