Friday, September 24, 2004

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Sept. 24

Guests: Margaret Carlson, Terry Jeffrey, Joe Bastardi, Nick Warnock, Amy Henry


KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? A profound diversion. John Kerry so describes Iraq, says the president took his eye off the ball in the war against terror.

Republicans say liberals want to ban the Bible, acknowledging they made mailings to voters in two states.

More evacuations in one state. 350,000 Floridians told to get out of the way of Jeanne.

They got Stacey out of the way on "The Apprentice."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was borderline schizophrenic.

OLBERMANN: Our Friday night quarterbacks Amy Henry and Nick Warner analyze must shrink TV.

And, yes, that's the title. All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN: Good evening. This is Friday, September 24, 39 days until the 2004 presidential election. John Kerry's reputation as a closer may or may not be valid. May or may not be relevant to this campaign of campaigns. But hearing him speak in Philadelphia this morning, focused and simplified, tearing into the president for supposedly hurting the war on terror by pursuing the war against Saddam Hussein, it is not difficult to understand where that reputation comes from.

The fifth story in the COUNTDOWN, John Kerry unplugged. And putting terror and how we respond to it at the top of the campaign agenda alongside Iraq. And he had two assistants. The woman who was the first lady and the woman who wants to become the first lady. Senator Kerry's speech, first. The nuance is gone. Kerry says, quote, "George Bush made Saddam Hussein the priority. I would have made Osama bin Laden the priority."

Clefting the war on terror from the war on Iraq was central to Kerry's speech at Temple University.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The invasion of Iraq was a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy, al Qaeda which killed more than 3,000 people on 9/11 and which still plots our destruction today. And there's just no question about it. The president's misjudgment, miscalculation, and mismanagement of the war in Iraq all make the war on terror harder to win.


OLBERMANN: Senator Kerry also alleging today that President Bush outsourced the job of catching Osama bin Laden to Afghan warlords, thereby letting him slip away. Of course some of that Kerry message today was also outsourced. Teresa Heinz Kerry now saying don't be surprised, don't be October surprised if bin Laden's capture comes sooner rather than later ahead of the November 2 election. Mrs. Kerry telling the audience at an Arizona fund-raiser, quote, "I wouldn't be surprised if he appeared in the next month, according to the "Business Journal of Phoenix."

Both sides which presumably interpret her comment as a suggestion that the Bush White House would like to time bin Laden's capture to give the president the surging popularity just before election day. The other satellite messages came from former first lady, current Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. While Kerry hit Mr. Bush on the counterterror picture abroad, she went after him on the one at home.

In a conference call with reporters, Senator Clinton claiming the administration spends more in Iraq in four days than it has on port security in this country in four years. She also says you can't fix problems with the war on terror if you don't admit that any exist. Adding, quote, "George Bush can't lead to us a safer America. It is long past time for a change."

Any question about what the Democratic message is now? To analyze the politics of the day, we're joined from Washington by "TIME" magazine contributing editor Margaret Carlson.

Margaret, good evening.

Is there a difference between that John Kerry today and the one of the last three or four months or is it just Democrats and reporters hoping there's a difference because they hope there will be a tight election.

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: What a difference a couple months makes. I'm of the feeling that you could not be saying what John Kerry is saying as of the last couple of days for much longer than six weeks. It's very painful to hear that a war where 1,000 lives have been lost and 7,000 have been wounded is not going well and there doesn't appear to be a way out. At least a way that the administration is pursuing. How long do you want to pound away at that? I think people can hear it for a certain amount of time but not for an endless amount of time. And maybe now that people are paying attention is the moment.

OLBERMANN: So perhaps holding back the punch for the right moment...

CARLSON: And he really punched today. It was a great way of distilling what has gone wrong and where we might go. And I think Donald Rumsfeld helped yesterday by saying, we will hold elections but you don't need to hold them everywhere. It would be like saying, we'll have our election in November but let's not - it doesn't matter if New York votes.

OLBERMANN: Baghdad and the two Sunni provinces won't be voting in January.

CARLSON: We'll have the new state of Fallujahstan. They're not going to vote.

OLBERMANN: Read for me this other extraordinary development, at least, from my perspective. There's a sudden appearance of Hillary Clinton in the middle of this campaign today.

CARLSON: Well, you know, the former president is out of service and Hillary Clinton has let it be known that he is not getting out of his sick bed to go campaign. So maybe it is up to her. In the end, Democrats rally around. And even though political reporters like me like to say it is so much not in her interests for Kerry to win this time because she'll be too old to run eight years from now or time will have passed her by. She's going to pitch in and help, nonetheless.

OLBERMANN: A lot of things can happen in 39 days. As you suggested, perhaps this was held back to some degree the message that John Kerry has tried to get out this week. Is that 39-day span long enough for the Democrats to detach the concept of the war in Iraq from the war on terror and then pick up those two separated concepts and beat George Bush over the head with both of them?

CARLSON: Aren't you astonished that 70 percent of the people still believe that Saddam Hussein was somehow involved in 9/11? That is one of the great pieces of propaganda that has ever been thrown at the American people. We have commissions, we have committees. No one has been able to find any link. And yet so many people believe it. Can you delink it? Maybe you don't have to delink it as much as to show that it is not working anyway and we have to find another way.

OLBERMANN: Margaret Carlson, contributing editor for "TIME" magazine.

Always a great pleasure and you go with our great thanks.

CARLSON: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Another terror election salvo raising attention tonight, if not a few eyebrows. Top administration officials now saying they are increasingly concerned al Qaeda could mount another attack before the election. You may have heard this before. Chief among these officials though Attorney General John Ashcroft holding a conference call last week with nearly 100 federal prosecutors asking them to do all they can to counter that supposed threat.

Other government agencies like the FBI, D.E.A. and T.S.A., all said to be stepping up their own counterterror efforts as well. The reasoning among U.S. officials, if it happened in Madrid, it could happen here. That being said, they all say they have no new information indicating a time, a place, or a method of attack.

One thing presumably not discussed on that conference call was the president's confusion over the identities of two terrorists. Abu Abbas was the infamous gang leader of the attack on the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985. His Palestinian terrorists killed wheelchair-bound American Leon Klinghoffer and pushed his body into the sea. Abu Abbas later became a Middle East peace activist unlikely enough and still later, he was captured by U.S. and Iraqi forces and he died apparently of natural causes in custody in Iraq last March.

And then there was the far more infamous Abu Nidal, leader of terrorist groups called Black September and Arab Revolutionary Brigades, ulta-violent offshoots of the PLO. Nidal masterminded attacks in at least 20 countries, killing or injuring at least at least 900. Nidal died in Iraq in 2002. Possibly a suicide. Possibly killed by Saddam Hussein. They are not the same guy. Abu Abbas killed one man, Leon Klinghoffer, Abu Nidal killed hundreds. But in speeches over the last two weeks trying to connect the dots between Iraq and terrorist threats to America, the president has confused the two of them or merged them together.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He had terrorist ties. Remember Abu Nidal? He's the guy that killed Leon Klinghoffer.

Remember Abu Nidal? He's the guy that killed Leon Klinghoffer.

Remind them about Abu Nidal. The killer of Leon Klinghoffer.

Abu Nidal, his organization were there. He's the guy that killed Leon Klinghoffer.

Remember Nidal? He's the guy that killed Leon Klinghoffer.

Remember he housed Abu Nidal and his crowd. It's the guy that killed Leon Klinghoffer.

Remember Abu Nidal who was the guy that killed Leon Klinghoffer?

Abu Nidal was a cold-blooded terrorist killer who killed Leon Klinghoffer.

Abu Nidal killed Leon Klinghoffer. Do you remember? Remember that incident?


OLBERMANN: Abu Nidal did not kill Leon Klinghoffer. Yet at least nine times since September 10, you heard what you just heard. No explanation from the White House. It could have been worse. Besides misidentifying Klinghoffer's murderer Abu Abbas as Abu Nidal, Mr. Bush could have worked in Apu from "The Simpsons."

One man at risk can of course still be the ultimate terrorist weapon. We continue to see that in Iraq with the civil engineer Kenneth Bigley is evidently still alive. And in England where his fate has convulsed a nation. Much of that country still actively working for his release. The British embassy in Baghdad handing out 50,000 leaflets carrying an appeal from Bigley's family and Muslims in England announcing plans to send negotiators to Baghdad.

And a reminder that Westerners are not the only ones at risk. Two Egyptians working for a mobile phone company taken at gunpoint last night in Baghdad. The deteriorating security situation prompting at least one U.S. official to say the trial of Saddam Hussein will not be taking place any time soon.

Back here, the war on terror, also raining down uncertainty upon perhaps the only sure thing this election season had. Get out your crayons, get out your electoral maps, it looks like the bright blue state of New Jersey, a stronghold, needs to be redrawn in battleground purple. The Garden State whose 15 electoral votes were thought to be safely in John Kerry's column is now a toss-up, 48-48, according to pollsters at Quinnipiac University. The challenger's lead erased in the month since the Republican convention began.

Asked for why, it is thought the fact that 700 New Jersey residents died on 9/11 is a factor as is the state's proximity to the established battleground state Pennsylvania. Voters in the southern part of New Jersey being bombarded by the constant stream of attack ads airing on Philadelphia TV and radio stations. And yes, Governor McGreevey shares some of the blame apparently. His admission that he is a gay American and his subsequent slow-motion resignation spilling over into the race for the presidency.

Nationally, there are two new polls of interest tonight although one of them is from the same ground group that yesterday revealed poll results indicating that people who make $75,000 a year tend to be happier than those who make $25,000 a year. IPSOS returned to politics today and gave Mr. Bush a 51-42 lead among registered voters although by its definition of likely voters that margin is a little narrower at 52-45.

There are also some CBS polls of importance. 49-41, Bush. That is a sample of registered voters with some very interesting interior numbers about the debates which begin with number one next Thursday in Miami.

Twenty-seven percent of all voters, everybody, even the ones who say they've already decided, more than a quarter say the debates will matter in how they actually vote. And what matters to these debate deciders? Mr. Bush's job approval rating, among them, is just 37 percent compared to all those polled half of whom approve his job handling. And only 40 percent of the debate deciders think Iraq was the right thing to do compared to 52 percent of all those polled.

W.W.L.D. What would liberals do? Ban the Bible? Spread gay marriage instead? That is a message the Republican National Committee admits the Republican party sent to some voters.

And a plane crashing in the Montana mountains, days later, a couple of survivors stagger out of the woods, one of them walking 10 miles with a broken back.



OLBERMANN: What is the bottom line past which one political party can't go in the effort to defeat the other? Obviously, it is not the subject of counterterrorism, the Republicans have battered the Democrats on that. Just as obviously it's not the subject of war under false pretenses. The Democrats have battered the Republicans on that.

In our fourth story in the COUNTDOWN, is the Bible political fair game? Is claiming that one political group seeks to ban the Bible fair game? The Republican National Committee has confirmed that the party did indeed send mass mailings to residents in Arkansas and West Virginia warning that liberals seek to ban the Bible. The flyer sent to Arkansans shows an image of the Bible labeled "banned" and reads, "this will be Arkansas if you don't vote." There's another illustration in that mailing that shows a gay marriage proposal marked, "allowed."

I'm joined now by a familiar face from the old big show days, Terry Jeffrey, the editor of "Human Events" magazine. Terry, welcome back. Thanks for your time.

The "New York Times" quoted the president of the Ethics and Religious Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, which is a reasonably conservative group, he said he actually fears that someday reading from the Bible could become hate speech. At that point, even he said, accusing liberals or Democrats of wanting to ban the Bible is, quote, "probably stretching it a bit far." Do you disagree with this?

TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR, "HUMAN EVENTS" MAGAZINE: I haven't seen the exact text of this Republican mailer so I can't speak to every jot and tittle of what they say, but I think from what's been summarized, that what's wrong with it is the text. It is not that they will ban the Bible. The fact is that the Bible has been banned in public schools in the United States of America. The truth is, the United States Supreme Court refused to even hear the question of whether former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore could keep in the Alabama supreme court, building a monument that had inscribed on it the 10 Commandments and going beyond whether or not the Bible is banned in public institutions in this country.

It is a question that was raised by the ninth circuit court in San Francisco a couple of years ago that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance could not be said by children in public schools, an issue that the United States Supreme Court refused to answer on the merits this year.

So yes, I think the Bible is banned in many public institutions in the United States and we're moving towards banning God in some public institutions of the United States.

OLBERMANN: Is this, though, not something of a political curve that we see over long periods of time? Like we've talked about how the hurricane seasons have been changing in the last 30 years. Fifty years ago, the phrase "under God" was not in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Senate voted it in. And there was not an accusation at that point that because you put "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, therefore, God is going to appear in everything from - you can just be imaginative and say where else it could have been.

What I'm saying here is, isn't suggesting that there's some sort of wholesale trend by one party against this institution and the idea of faith, as much of an extrapolation as saying, OK, the Republicans proposed the Patriot Act. Therefore, ultimately, the Republicans want to appeal, or repeal the Bill of Rights. Isn't it as much of as that man said, a stretch?

JEFFREY: I'm not sure it always necessarily cuts clearly across party lines. I think there's Republicans who are on the liberal side of this. I think there's Democrats that are on the conservative side of this. There's no question there's a huge culture war raging in America over precisely this question, though Keith.

Here's a way of putting it in perspective. In 1776, Thomas Jefferson, a deist, he was not a Christian, a deist, wrote the Declaration of Independence, said all men are endowed by the creator with certainly inalienable rights. Western idea went back to Cicero. Our rights come from God, the laws (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with God's law. Good Friday, 1963, Martin Luther King, arrested in Birmingham for protesting segregation, in the jail there, he writes a letter trying to justify his movement and Jim Crow. He says "a just law," quoting Thomas Aquinas, "is a law that comports with the law of God."

That what our founder said when they framed this country. Now today, the cutting edge of liberalism said we want a right to same-sex marriage, we want a right to kill an unborn child. Now if you say, as Martin Luther King and Thomas Jefferson said, that our rights come from God, then liberals would have to say today, our claim to the right to kill an unborn child is a God-given right. Or a right to claim that two people of the same gender can marry is a God-given right. Everybody knows that's absurd, Keith, so now the next movement is let's erase God from American public law and life so we can pursue these rights that everybody knows are not God-given rights.

OLBERMANN: What is the position, do you suppose, the president of the United States on diversity, on atheism, on the right to believe or not believe. What is it? And do you agree with it?

JEFFREY: I think there's no doubt that we have religious freedom in the United States of America. Everybody has a legal right to believe whatever they want when it comes to God. However, if we were an atheist society in 1776, we wouldn't have written the Declaration of Independence. Were we an atheist society in 1787 we wouldn't have written the constitution. Were we an atheist society in 1963, Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, his appeal in the civil rights movement, that Jim Crow violated God's laws, would not have appealed to the hearts of Americans.

If we were to go back to our fundamental founding principles today, we would not approve same-sex marriage. We would not have legalized abortion. And that's what this culture war is about. It is a legitimate public policy debate. In general, the Republican party is on the wrong side of it. In general, the Democrats are on the wrong side of it. George Bush is clearly on the right side of it and John Kerry is clearly on the wrong side.

OLBERMANN: Well, apparently they're going to put to it a vote. Terry Jeffrey, the editor of "Human Events." Many thanks for your time.

Staying in the southwest, or in the south, at least, that's where flawed CBS source Bill Burkett is and where once again, this story is like the universal salvo. It's a great idea but what would you keep it in? It eats through everything. A Texas newspaper has had to retract part of its interview with Burkett after misunderstanding who he meant when he said, they tried to convince me as to why I should give them the documents.

The "Fort Worth Star Telegram" interviewed Burkett for its edition today and caused a firestorm by concluding that the "they" in Burkett's comments referred to the John Kerry campaign, specifically Joe Lockhart who Burkett got to talk to briefly thanks to the intervention of a CBS News producer. The paper now reports that when Burkett said they tried to convince me as to why I should give them the documents, he meant CBS. He didn't mean the Kerry campaigners. CBS tried to convince them to give them the documents. Successfully apparently.

Burkett says, and the paper now reports, he never discussed the so-called Killian memos with Joe Lockhart or anybody else at the campaign. Burkett did take a shot at CBS saying since all this happened, he's had four seizures and he thinks his phone is now tapped. Adding that the network's interview with him this week was edited to make him the fall guy. By his action and inaction, Burkett told the "Star Telegram" Dan Rather ruined my reputation in front of 70 million people.

Not 70 million. More like 3.8 million. The early reports are in on how the document story has affected the ratings of the "CBS Evening News." The answer is not much. The trade publication broadcasting in cable quoting the Nielsen overnight figures, Monday the day Rather backed away from the story, it got a 5.1 rating and a 10 percent share of all televisions in use. That number is always artificially high at CBS and NBC on Mondays during the fall because "ABC World News" tonight is preempted in the Pacific Time zone on Mondays because they have Monday night football instead. Thus, a drop on Tuesday. 4.7 percent rating and a 9 percent share is about average. Wednesday, a 4.6 rating and another 9 percent share. Thursday, slightly up. Back to 4.7 and 9. The exact numbers are preliminary and they often get adjusted wildly up or down in the so-called final ratings. Besides which a lot of us think they are all made up any way.

Which is what we did inadvertently here yesterday when radio station WNIS in Norfolk, Virginia announced it was dropping its affiliation with CBS. We pointed out that it was owned by Sinclair Communications, the same broadcasting group that would not air ABC's "Nightline" in which the names of dead American service personnel in Iraq were read. That is not the case. The stations in the "Nightline" story are owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group. The radio station in Norfolk is owned by a smaller company called Sinclair Communications. They are not affiliated with each other. The mistake was mine, as is the apology.

Florida residents tonight looking for an apology from somebody. Sick and tired of the hurricanes they're living through. Here comes Jeanne. And holy pot cloud, batman! Dude, "Oddball" is next. I think.


OLBERMANN: We're back and we pause the COUNTDOWN for the last time this week to step away from the news with value to these three strange stories. Let's play "Oddball."

And we begin at the grand opening of Taiwan's newest and most prestigious museum. Please, no food or drink in the main gallery. No flash photography and please don't touch any of the Barbie dolls. They don't actually make them in Taiwan anymore. They moved the factory to Japan because the labor is cheaper there now. But the small country wanted to keep the legacy alive with Barbie's dream shrine.

On display, Barbies in different outfits throughout history and many special pieces, including a very rare assembly line mistake where Barbie's head was glued on to the body of transformer optimist prime. It's value is beyond estimation. I've had dates like that, too.

You live in the general vicinity of Boise, Idaho? Have you been feeling slightly goofy, lately? Had cravings for Doritos and old reruns of "Alf?" Did your post-surgical eye pain suddenly vanish? Then you might just be downwind of this landfill in Payette, where police officials are burning $6 million worth of confiscated marijuana in a big hole in the ground. Notice please the officers and workers are standing at the very edge of the hole. For some reason, they just can't stop watching the flames. Man.

OK. Where was I? All right, I'm in the Ukraine. What you're about to see is not an assassination attempt. It is an egging. The prime minister Victor Yanukovich did not know this so we can probably excuse him for fainting. The presidential candidate was struck in the chest with an egg thrown by somebody in the crowd. He appeared to look down, see it, then he went down like a sack of kelbaskis. He was rushed to the hospital suffering acute embarrassment and later blamed his opponent in the campaign for organizing the egging. Former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh will head the investigation. And down he goes.

Four hurricanes in one summer, that has not happened in one state in 118 years. It is going to happen tomorrow. The plane had crashed. The obituaries had been written. The funerals were being planned. Then the survivors turned up.

Right now, though, here are the COUNTDOWN's top three newsmakers of this day.

No. 3, Terry Page of Troy, New York, the latest in a series, a trend of publishers of nude calendars featuring ordinary residents to raise money. The difference is, Mr. Page is the president of the financially troubled Oakwood Cemetery. And we're hoping it is not the residents who will be naked in the calender.

No. 2, the Australian Scientific Research Organization. After years of examination, exploration and experimentation, researchers say they may have finally perfected a vaccine to cure sheep of flatulence. I thought they were just going baaa a lot.

And, No. 1, our pal, Saparmurat Niyazov, the crazy president of Turkmenistan. This week, state TV broke into its regularly scheduled programming for a special announcement from the president. He had written some new poetry and he wanted the nation to hear it. I think they did that on Fox last week, too.


OLBERMANN: There are a million variations of the old bromide about how it's not how often you fall down in life, but how you get back up. And Floridians are sick to death of all of them.

In our third story on the COUNTDOWN, one remarkable saga of recovery. But, first, it will provide a little inspiration, as yet another hurricane makes or the Florida East Coast, the Sunshine State preparing for its fourth hurricane of this season. The only other state in this country to endure a similar fate was Texas in 1886.

Hurricane Jeanne threatening to come ashore sometime on Sunday, hitting many of the same areas already devastated by the earlier storms.

For the latest on the hurricane's path, we turn to AccuWeather's Joe Bastardi.

Joe, good evening. Where are things now?

JOE BASTARDI, SENIOR FORECASTER, ACCUWEATHER: Well, Jeanne is continuing to head westward. We expect a landfall probably by 6:00 a.m. in the morning, between Fort Pierce and Cape Canaveral.

And then a move up the coast, Keith. It's going to hug the Florida coast. And unlike some of Jeanne's predecessors, which have gone inland and dumped a lot of heavy rain in the western Carolinas, but the wind has fallen apart, this one may bring hurricane-force conditions all the way to the Carolinas, and, in a worst-case scenario, to New Jersey and perhaps even southeast New England, because it is a late-season storm and it's going to get some extra energy from the jet stream buckling into it.

You can see the large eye of the storm. It is intensifying slowly, but surely. We expect to it really ramp up as it gets into the Gulf Stream before landfall, which, as I said, between Fort Pierce and Cape Canaveral, probably around 6:00 a.m. in the morning on Sunday, and then a north-northwest move up the coast after that.

The difference between Jeanne and Frances, Frances had a blocking high that turned it back west across the state. Jeanne is going to be coming up and then turning northward and staying within shouting distance of the coast its entire journey. The big high to the north now weakens, moves out to the east. So the storm comes around that. And with it relatively close to the coast, and then extra energy coming from the north and west because of the jet stream buckling into it, there's a chance that even up into Jersey, Delmarva Peninsula and southeast New England later Tuesday and Wednesday, we have a near hurricane condition type situation. So stay tuned. That's the moral of this story.

OLBERMANN: Extraordinary. AccuWeather meteorologist Joe Bastardi, many thanks, Joe.

Perhaps there is something in the story from Montana tonight, some reminder to, as Churchill put it, never surrender, never, never, never. Their families were already mourning, preparing funerals and memorials and then, as our correspondent Kevin Tibbles reports, the two U.S. Forest Service employees killed in a plane crash walked out into the sunshine.


KEVIN TIBBLES, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): People who live in these rugged Montana mountains say surviving a plane crash here is next to impossible. So when a Cessna 206 like this one went down near Glacier National Park with a pilot and four U.S. Forestry Service workers on board, many feared the worst.

When rescue teams reached the wreckage, twisted and burned, the sheriff's department declared there were no survivors.

(on camera): But the back of the plane was not burned. And even though it had crashed upside down, the tail section was found inexplicably right side up.

(voice-over): Perhaps that explains the miracle. Two days later, on the side of a highway, a motorist spotted two injured people and told local innkeeper Gerald Kupka to call 911.

GERALD KUPKA, INNKEEPER: They said they would send an ambulance. And I told them I thought it was possible survivors from the plane crash.

The two, 23-year-old Jodee Hogg and 29-year-old Matthew Ramige, despite serious injury, had walked to safety.

DR. DAVID HEIMBACH, HARBORVIEW MEDICAL CENTER: It was my understanding was that they stayed there for a day and a half expecting somebody to fly in and rescue them. And that didn't happen. So they said, well, the heck with it. If they are not going to come to us, we'll go to them.

TIBBLES: They pair were rushed to a local hospital. Ramige was then flown on to Seattle with a spinal fracture and severe burns.

WENDY BECKER, MOTHER OF MATTHEW: I'm real proud of my son.

TIBBLES: Ramige's mother was with family preparing her son's obituary when the good news arrived.

BECKER: Apparently, the first thing he said when he got into the hospital was, call my mom. So that really touched me.

TIBBLES: And while crash investigators continue to pore over the wreckage, doctors say both Hogg and Ramige are in stable condition.

HEIMBACH: I think he's an incredibly lucky young man, tough as nails to have walked 10 mile with a broken back.

TIBBLES: And, on Monday, exactly one week after being given up for dead, Matthew Ramige will celebrate his birthday.

BECKER: He's going to see 30. At one point this week, I didn't think he was going to be 30.

TIBBLES: For "Today," Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Chicago.


OLBERMANN: From real-life survival to surviving reality TV. The boardroom turns ugly in a big way. If this was some sort of scam, why did Donald Trump fall for it? And making sure the holiday stockings are "Hung" with care. Yes, he's back and you will not believe the title of his Christmas C.D.

Right now, here are COUNTDOWN's top three sound bites of this day.



UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Four perfect points set at 90 degree angles forming a perfect...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: This is a special report from CBS News. This just in to CBS News. The Earth has hurtled into the sun.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's what's happening here in Blackhawk. Jessica Palmer is with us.

JESSICA PALMER: Hi. Well, I went to school at Blackhawk three nights a week.

BUSH: Three nights a week. Good. Less TV, more study. That's good.



KATIE COURIC, CO-HOST: Jon Stewart, how are you, Jon?

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": I feel great. And I'll tell you why.

COURIC: Why, John?

STEWART: Now that I know they got Cat Stevens, I can rest easier.


STEWART: For so long, he has eluded us. But I'll tell you this.


STEWART: If we can only now get Gordon Lightfoot, because he's really the problem.




OLBERMANN: The latest "Apprentice" victim not only gets "You're fired" from the Donald, but also free psychiatric advice from her fellow contestants. And William Hung's 15 minutes turns into 12 days of Christmas. And we at COUNTDOWN helped.


OLBERMANN: What's that smell? Oh, you're wearing Trump.

"The Washington Post" revealing today that Donald Trump the fragrance will be available in the men's cologne section of many department stores in time for Christmas shopping. No, they didn't make it out of him. It is said to consist of pepper and wound scents mixed with a hint of mint and a little cucumber and the occasional stray-dyed orange hair.

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, as you know devotees know already, the subject of last night edition's of Trump's "Apprentice" was not selling a cologne that smells like a 58-year-old billionaire sweating under a $1.8 billion debt, but rather vanilla toothpaste.

Something novel this time. Last night's human sacrifice was Stacie J. Yes, she was on the losing side of the tooth paste wars. But it appeared that her firing had less to do with that than it did with the fact that, in the first show, she picked up a magic eight ball and kept asking it if her team had won. This, as the sundry Sigmund Freuds on her squads could tell you, meant that Stacie J. was nuts and needed to be offed.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone saw it. We were all in the room.

TRUMP: Well, I would like to bring them back in, because this is too important a subject.

Maria, go get them. Go get everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On task one, Stacie J. did act very odd.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was borderline schizophrenic.

TRUMP: What do you say, Stacie?

STACIE JONES UPCHURCH, CONTESTANT: I feel sad for this, because I'm not sure if this is something clinical. And I am sensitive to that. But it was one of the most scary moments of my life.

TRUMP: Now, Stacie, your entire team expressed concern about your behavior. And they really seemed nervous about it. When it is unanimous like this, all I can say is, there has got to be some reason. And I just can't have a loose cannon on my hand, someone who might potentially cause this kind of distress to my team.

Stacie, you're fired.


OLBERMANN: I am now joined by our Friday night "Apprentice" quarterbacks, Amy Henry.

Hello, Amy.


OLBERMANN: And Nick Warnock.

Hi, Nick.


OLBERMANN: Amy, nothing like seeing a team work together to say, kill her, kill her. She's the crazy one.

HENRY: I know.

OLBERMANN: That looked like an evil sorority film, didn't it?

HENRY: It was. That's exactly what I think. And it was a group of sorority girls that were blackballing a member, literally, all because of an eight ball incident.

OLBERMANN: Excellent.


WARNOCK: Who hasn't shaken the eight ball in the office? I didn't think it was such a big deal.

But what I found interesting is, these business people became psychiatrists. I couldn't believe it. They're diagnosing mental illness. It was incredible.

OLBERMANN: If it was a blackball, Nick, why did Donald Trump fall for a gimmick like that?

WARNOCK: Well, obviously, she was not part of the team. She wasn't fitting in. And interpersonal skills are very, very important in the workplace. And that's probably why he fired her. That's my best guess.

OLBERMANN: Amy, the side that lost last night went for the celebrity endorsement of their product in the persona of the baseball player Mike Piazza. And I want to you listen to something here and then I have a question for you. Here's the tape first.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mike Piazza, it's the catcher for the Mets. And I thought, oh, my God, Mike Piazza. If we could get in Mike Piazza.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Piazza in New York is like a gold bar. Pardon the pun, but it is a home run getting Mike Piazza. Mike Piazza is like Mr. New York. People love him here. People celebrate. Even Yankee fans love Mike Piazza. You can't not love Mike Piazza.


OLBERMANN: OK. His name is Mike Piazza, not Piazza. And he is not loved by fans of the New York Yankess. And a lot of Mets fans have their doubts about him, too.


OLBERMANN: Amy, did this idea here underscore something about this game generally? If you don't even know the basics of what you're talking about, eventually it will bite you in the backside one way or the other.

HENRY: We saw it last season when our good friend Jesse couldn't pronounce one of the celebrities' names.

But you know what? I think it is funny for Jennifer C. It looks like she has as much crush on Mike Piazza as she did in Donald Trump in episode one.

OLBERMANN: Oh, excellent.

Nick, is Jennifer C., the interrupter and Mike Piazza mispronouncer, the next to the get the gas pipe, as they say?

WARNOCK: Jennifer C. is a piece of work, No. 1. And, No. 2, why on earth would you bring a Met fan when you know that Donald Trump is a huge Yankee fan? If I'm going into this game, I've read every piece of literature on Trump and we know that he loves the Yankees. and, No. 2, it is Piazza. You're absolutely right, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Amy, your prediction who is out next?

HENRY: I'm going to have to predict, strictly because I look at it from an editing production, Jennifer C. got way too much footage this time. It's because it is her last week. Bye-bye.

OLBERMANN: So that's it. We're two for two on that.

And I have one last general question about the show. Amy, see if you can figure this out for me. It's something I have not understood. The start of the series each year, there are 18 contestants. And instead of waiting to get picked off one by one, why don't they all gang up together, kidnap Donald Trump, hold him for ransom? That would be - would that not be enterprise business right there?


HENRY: But then who do we hire?

OLBERMANN: Well, but they get money and leave and then we just - I don't know. We could put COUNTDOWN on NBC or something.

HENRY: There you go. There you go. It's called "Ransom," season three.


OLBERMANN: That's it, "Ransom." "COUNTDOWN RANSOM" with Keith Olbermann.

You like the idea, Nick?


WARNOCK: I like it a lot, Keith. You have got a great persona. you've got great energy. And why not? Let's put you in the driver's chair right on NBC, prime time.


OLBERMANN: But I'm one of the worst businessmen and I come from a line of - I'll tell the story next week. We're just bad businessmen.


OLBERMANN: Amy Henry, Nick Warnock every Friday here on COUNTDOWN analyzing every Thursday night on "The Apprentice."

Guys, many thanks. We'll see you next week.

WARNOCK: Take care, Keith. Bye-bye.

HENRY: Have a great weekend.

OLBERMANN: So an easy transition to our news of celebrities and hangers-on, "Keeping Tabs."

And an old friend is back tonight. And his story emphasizes how difficult it is to properly name your new C.D. Uh-oh. Just for the holidays, huh? William Hung's Christmas C.D., "Hung For the Holidays" in stores October 19. And early copies of it will include a fold-out Christmas card, or ornament, which, given the title, scares the bejeezus out of me, by the way. Hung will sing "Deck the Halls," "Silver Bells" and, yes, "Oh, Come All Ye Faithful."

And good news for TV Land and Nick at Nite fanatics. There's a new - comparatively new episode of a sitcom that has been running and rerunning since the 1950s. The lost episode of "The Honeymooners" has turned up at an archive Georgia. It now takes its place in the canon of 70 other lost episodes that were recovered in the 1980s. The newly found show titled "Love Letter" originally aired October, 1954. And in it, we believe Jackie Gleason says, hum-a-nuh, hum-a-nuh, hum-a-nuh, hum-a-nuh, hum-a-nuh.

At the end of a long week, it is time to see what if anything we have learned from the news. Will the new induction into our apology Hall of Fame be part of the standard weekly grilling?

Stand by for fun for you, pain for me.


OLBERMANN: Cowards die many times before their death, Shakespeare wrote. The valiant never taste of death but once. Somehow I get it once a week here on COUNTDOWN every Friday like a magazine coming in the mailbox.

Time for your news trivia questions and my new trivia humiliation, our weekly pig-sticking called:

ANNOUNCER: "What Have We Learned?"

ANNOUNCER: And since I lost last week for the first time, the lovely and talent emcee of "What Have We Learned?," Monica Novotny, has been traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for cash and a player to be named later. Actually, she is out covering hurricanes or something.

But I'm delighted to be joined by the equally evil guest emcee, Lisa Daniels of MSNBC.

Welcome. Howdy.

LISA DANIELS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Thank you for having me. Very glad to be here.

OLBERMANN: I'm in your hands and I already know I'm in trouble.

DANIELS: Good luck.

OLBERMANN: Thank you.

DANIELS: All right.

Well, remember, you at home can take the official news quiz on our Web site at And while you are there, sign up for the fabulous COUNTDOWN newsletter or e-mail the show with questions for next week's quiz.

OK, new host, same rules. You have two minutes to answer as many questions as you can.


DANIELS: If you answer more than half correctly, of course, you get a prize. If not, you will be horribly punished.


DANIELS: Details to come. Are you ready?

OLBERMANN: No, but we are still going do it anyway.

DANIELS: Yes, we are.

OK, start the clock. Here we go.

Name the latest products being marketed by the designer of the AK-47 assault rifle.

OLBERMANN: It's a vodka. It's Kalashnikov vodka.


DANIELS: Very good.

OLBERMANN: One for one.


DANIELS: From Barbara (p) in Wyoming, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens converted to Islam in what year?

OLBERMANN: Ah, 1983.

DANIELS: No, 1977.

OLBERMANN: That was a tough one.

DANIELS: Complete this sentence.

OLBERMANN: His name is Cat, yes?

DANIELS: Complete this sentence. Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world.

OLBERMANN: I will always think of you as a child, girl.

DANIELS: No. It hard to get by just upon a smile.

OLBERMANN: That's the next line. I blew it.

DANIELS: All right. Now, how long has Britney Spears been legally married to her second husband?

OLBERMANN: She is not legally married to her second husband, wise guy.

DANIELS: Very good. That was a trick.

OLBERMANN: Yes. It wasn't a good one.

DANIELS: Oh, come on.

A light bulb on display at the Fort Worth Historically Society has been burning since what year?

OLBERMANN: It was exactly - I can give you the date. It was September of 1908.

DANIELS: Very good.


DANIELS: Plus or minus five now, how people many showed up to see Sha Na Na perform at the Anderson, Indiana, YWCA.

OLBERMANN: Plus or minus five - 293.

DANIELS: Good, 289.


DANIELS: What is stamped on the engine block of David Koresh's old Camaro, which is up for auction this weekend?

OLBERMANN: Oh, go, God. There's a number on it, 245, go, God.

Something like that.

DANIELS: Four-twenty-seven, go, God.

OLBERMANN: Four-twenty-seven. Yes, OK. I wasn't close enough.

DANIELS: Sorry about that, but no.

OLBERMANN: All right, four for seven.



DANIELS: Name four members of the official COUNTDOWN Apology Hall of Fame.

OLBERMANN: Four members of the official COUNTDOWN...

DANIELS: Four members.

OLBERMANN: Swaggart. We just inducted Dan Rather. Bill Clinton is also in the Hall of Fame. And we have...


OLBERMANN: One more. Come on. Come on. It's only a brain. Come on. Come on. Oh, the Apology Hall of Fame.

DANIELS: Time's up. There was - there's a couple in there.

What is the name of the world's smallest dog?

OLBERMANN: World's smallest dog is - Bill Clinton. No, that was the world's largest wiener. I'm sorry. I'm sorry you had to see that.

DANIELS: You won, though.


OLBERMANN: What did I get? I thought I only got


DANIELS: You won. You won.

OLBERMANN: How many did I get right, four or five?

DANIELS: Five out of nine.

OLBERMANN: I missed one somewhere. I can't count.

DANIELS: You won. Are you ready for your prize?


DANIELS: Because you are always smiling.

OLBERMANN: Yes, right.

DANIELS: A happy face MSNBC mascot.

OLBERMANN: Oh. It is upside down, though.


OLBERMANN: Thank you very much. Thank you.

DANIELS: Congratulations.


OLBERMANN: Thank you kindly.

And I won, so perhaps you will be - yes. Perhaps you'll - whoever wants to get - yes, there it is, good. Camera 12, over here. Isn't that exciting? That's what I won. And you wonder why I keep coming back for this every week.

Thank you, Lisa Daniels, for keeping the amount of torture up to its normal and traditional levels. I appreciate your time.

DANIELS: Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN: And please join us again whenever we play:

ANNOUNCER: "What Have We Learned?"

OLBERMANN: And that's COUNTDOWN. Thank you for being part of this dignified hour of news. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.