'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for March 11
Guests: Ben Venzke; Professor Arthur Caplan, Henry Boucha
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Madrid on 3/11, roughly 200 dead, more than 1,200 injured, the morning commute, and terror, conflicting conclusions about responsibility. al Qaeda? Basque separatist? But after the attacks on the rail lines of Moscow and Chechnya and Tokyo, and now this. Is the real question: can it happen here?
Bad sports: A violent hockey player apologizes, and is suspended. A hall of famer, his own career ended by on-ice violence at age 24, joins us.
And performance enhancing drugs: The FDA finally cracking down on Andro. Why has it taken six years?
Still more tales from the crypt: UCLA selling donated bodies was bad enough, now Tulane University discovers some of its cadavers were used to test landmines by the Army.
It's not exactly being in the movies, it's not exactly Karaoke, it's Movieoke. Okey-dokey.
And cheating? No, the misses says it's OK, well 45 percent of the misseses do, as long as it's with Nicole Kidman, 27 percent as long as it's with Barbara Walters. Take time out to enjoy "The View."
All that and more now, on COUNTDOWN
OLBERMANN: Good evening. The question is not whether it was al-Qaeda or Spain's long-standing Basque separatist movement or some other purveyor of more horror. On this day exactly two-and-a-half years since 9/11 the real question is, could it happen here?
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Imagine for a moment that it is three days before our presidential elections and imagine that on that October 30, 2004, at the height of the morning rush hour, 13 bombs detonate along the commuter rail lines serving Washington. There is no imagining required tonight in Madrid, Spain, because today was three days before their election. The 13 bombs were along their commuter rail lines. The 192 dead and 1,200 injured are their husbands and wives and children. Can it happen here? Answers in a moment. First, the nightmare from Madrid as reported by our correspondent, Dawna Friesen.
DAWNA FRIESEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today in Spain life changed in an instant. At 7:39 a.m., 13 bombs one after another, exploded in less than 20 minutes, ripping through packed commuter trains during the height of rush hour. Police say some bombs were placed in back packs on board the trains, others, hidden on the train tracks. Another two were defused by police, they were set to go off as rescue workers arrived.
"I saw bodies all over the place," this man says, "an entire carriage of people screaming and crying."
Rescue workers, who arrived within minutes, found victims covered in blood, their bodies pierced from flying shrapnel and glass.
"Everyone started running," this woman says. "They were covered in blood.
It was horrendous."
Those who could scrambled to safety. The most badly wounded were treated on the track. Doctors set up makeshift field clinics in nearby buildings. For some, though, it was too late. All that could be done was a prayer.
The city ran out of ambulances. At Madrid's main hospital, frantic families searched for news of their relatives. Volunteers lined streets to donate blood, while Hearses left to collect the dead.
Who was behind today's violence? The Spanish government initially pointed the finger at ETA, a Basque separatist group, which in a 30 year campaign for independence has killed in the past over 800 people.
Investigators in today's bombing found a tytadine, a type of dynamite ETA normally using. Spain's prime minister called today's attack "mass murder."
"The criminals who have today caused so many deaths will be arrested, judged, found guilty and sentenced by the courts," he said.
But terrorist experts question whether ETA is sophisticated enough to carry out such an ambitious attack. Throughout Spain flags are at half staff and there are prayer vigils is in many town squares. As a country used to living with the threat of terror, confronts, what many here, are calling it a massacre.
OLBERMANN: Dawna Friesen in Madrid. The date, 3/11, use of mass transit and a claim, however unverified at this point, that al-Qaeda was responsible and that another attack on the United States is 90 percent ready, and this nation's heavy use of commuter rail and subways all add urgency to the question with which we began. Can it happen here?
I'm joined now by Ben Venzke, founder and CEO of the private intelligence company, IntelCenter.
Ben, good evening.
BEN VENZKE, CEO, INTELCENTER: Good to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let's start with the at home question. Is there any reason to suppose that our commuter rail networks, our subways are safer than Spain's or less likely to be attacked?
VENZKE: No. I mean, it is a very real possibility that they will be attacked at some point in the future and it's an extremely difficult target to protect against just due to the sheer volume and the numbers of people that are moving through those stations, as opposed to, say for instance, an airport.
OLBERMANN: Will the forensics in Madrid answer enough questions about points of vulnerability. There were two bombs that did not go explode, will they tell us, perhaps not only who did this, but could they also serve as a kind of unintentional plan for what we can do to protect rail transit in this country?
VENZKE: Well, they'll certainly provide clues and information as to who was behind the attack. Every attack provides information in terms of how to prevent it from happening again, and clearly, there will be a lot of lessons learned on this. But at the end of the day, one of the great difficulties is: How do you check every single backpack or bag that someone's bringing into a subway station or a commuter station and prevent them from bringing explosives on? That's a very difficult challenge.
OLBERMANN: Al-Qaeda threatened Spain before, recently. The Spanish government did not hesitate to immediately blame the Basque separatist group, ETA. ETA then insisted they had nothing do would with it and their history has been to notify in advance, there was this vague claim purporting to be from al-Qaeda. On the other hand, you have to ask yourself: Why would al-Qaeda operate in an area where their actions might be falsely attributed to other terrorists? There's a lot of conflicting information on blame, here. Do you have a sense of who did this?
VENZKE: Well, I think right out of the gate we can pretty much dismiss the claim that came into the newspaper in London saying that it was the work of al-Qaeda. Now, just because we dismiss that one claim doesn't mean it was, in fact - or wasn't al-Qaeda. It could have very well been them. And ETA is still a very viable suspect. There are some differences in how this attack was done; compared to how ETA has operated in the past. As you mentioned, they typically give warnings of about 10 to 30 minutes, but that doesn't mean they didn't make the decision to escalate things and change the nature of how they operate. But ETA and al-Qaeda are the two most serious suspects, and as the days go by, we'll see more information develop that will point to one or the other.
OLBERMANN: Suggestion early on, was it was their hardware, it was - had the same kinds of munition that ETA uses?
VENZKE: Well, just because one group uses something or has a signature, doesn't mean it has exclusivity over that. It could very well simply be that that's where al-Qaeda knew how to get the explosives and it was the same kind of materials that ETA uses, for the same reasons, it was what's available in their region.
But, you know, we'll see. And also, most likely, if it was al-Qaeda, traditionally now they are claiming their operations, and we'll likely see some form of that in the coming weeks, if it was, in fact, them.
OLBERMANN: Ben Venzke, as always, many thanks for your insight and for your time.
VENZKE: Thank, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The fifth story, terror and politics, bringing us now from Madrid, very close to the White House, in fact, just a second cousin away. A distant relative of White House chief of staff, Andrew Card has been arrested as an unregistered agent for Iraq. Susan Lindauer of Tacoma Park, Maryland, a former employee of several news organizations and at least three democratic members of Congress, is accused of traveling to Iraq in 2002 on their dime and meeting with members of the IIS, the Iraqi Intelligence Service, also accused of meeting with them in New York. Investigators claim she went to her second cousin, Card, over a year ago, and offered to act as a conduit to the Saddam Hussein regime, whereupon police set up a sting and arrested her. Ms. Lindauer claims, and investigators concur with her, that she was a peace activist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN LINDAUER, ACCUSED OF CONSPIRACY: I'm an anti-war activist and I'm innocent. I did more to try to stop terrorism in this country than - than anybody else. I have done good things for this country. I worked to get the weapons inspectors back into Iraq, when everybody said it was impossible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Ms. Lindauer has since been released on bond of half a million dollars.
Her cousin's boss had his own problems today, as the president faced the prospect of being picketed at the groundbreaking for a 9/11 memorial. He already had to face a blistering newspaper column by veteran reporter, Jimmy Breslin.
In New York's "Newsday," Breslin revealed that for several days, park workers from around Nassau County in New York had been called to the future site of the memorial to build an asphalt sidewalk, a second concrete sidewalk and a fenced alley floored with wood chips, all after instructions from the Secret Service that, quote, "The president's feet are not to touch the dirt." That does not mean his shovel could not touch dirt. Bush helped break ground on the memorial, which will honor 281 victims connected to that suburb of New York City. And while bag pipes blared throughout the ceremony, just a stones throw away there was plenty of other noise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(CHANTING): Shame on you for having them die!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Just outside the site, dozens of Mr. Bush's opponents squared off with an equal number of Mr. Bush's supporters. While the pro-Bush faction waved flags, anti-Bush activists carried signs protesting everything from the war in Iraq to the president's handling of the 9/11 investigation.
The fifth story, back at the ranch. The president may have stepped in something and it is not dirt. His first choice for a new assistant secretary of commerce to thwart the outsourcing of jobs had, while still running his own private company, outsourced jobs.
Anthony Raimondo, the head of Balon Manufacturing of Nebraska, had laid off 75 U.S. workers in 2002, four months after announcing plans to open a $3 million factory in Beijing in China. The official announcement of Raimondo's appointment as the anti-outsourcing watchdog was officially, quote: "postponed due to scheduling conflicts."
Yeah, scheduling conflict - he was having trouble putting together those 18-hour schedules for those guys in the Beijing operation.
Tonight White House sources say Raimondo has withdrawn from consideration from the post.
And there was a political gaff made, not by a politician, but rather by a witness at the hearings in the hiking fines for indecency on radio and TV. The house votes 391-22 today, in favor increasing the maximum FCC fine for broadcast indecency, from $27,500 per station to half a million. A performer, currently facing a maximum fine of 11 grand, could also be exposed to $500,000 punishment. Fortunately the fines will not be retroactive.
Fortunately for the president and general manager of WDBJ television in Roanoke, Virginia, at yesterday's telecommunications subcommittee hearing, he had a vocabulary malfunction. Discussing how far his station's digital signal travels, Bob Lee said that at a certain point of calculation the "Oh spit factor" sets in. Except Mr. Lee did not say spit, he then apologized to the subcommittee.
Our No. 5 story behind us now, terrorism and politics. Coming up, No. 4: Cadavers in the news again. Yes, cadavers. First it was the body parts black market and mortified families. Now, news that some cadavers, in the name of science, are instead going into the Army. We'll explain that coming up.
Later, steroids and sports: The government cracking down, finally.
But is it too little, too late?
First, though, COUNTDOWN's opening numbers, the top five numbers that shaped this day, grim ones all.
Thirteen, the largest amount of bombs used in one terrorist attack.
Before today it occurred in Bombay in 1993.
Two hours, 28 minutes, the elapsed time of those Bombay explosions.
Fifteen, the number of bombs used in today's attack in Madrid, 13 of them exploded.
Twenty minutes, the time that it took for today's 13 explosions in Spain.
One thousand, five hundred, and ninety-five, if today's attack is indeed attributed to it, this is now the number of deaths from al-Qaeda, and al-Qaeda-sponsored terrorist attacks since 9/11.
We'll be back.
OLBERMANN: Tonight's No. 4 story up next. Your preview: A person's dying wish to have his or her body used in the name of science changed slightly to having the body used by the Army. Stand by.
OLBERMANN: It started out like a bad episode of "Six Feet Under," it has now devolved into one from the old series, "Tales from the Crypt."
Our fourth story in the COUNTDOWN, tonight: When UCLA discovered that the administrator of its willed body program was willingly selling body parts on a black market; we wondered here if it was even remotely possible that that was an isolated incident. It wasn't. Officials at Tulane University in New Orleans now admitting that seven bodies donated to the university's medical school were sold to the U.S. Army and blown up with landmines during tests on protective footwear. Tulane sold the corpses not needed for its classes to a national distributor of donated bodies for less than $1,000 a piece. Although, the university found out about the landmine use a year ago it only suspended its dealings with the middleman, this month.
What's next, or do we even dare not ask? Here, once again, to help us draw a line in the sand, Arthur Caplan, the director of the Center of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, author of "Ethics and Organ Transplants" and a contributor to MSNBC.com.
Professor Caplan, thanks for joining us again.
ARTHUR CAPLAN, MEDICAL ETHICIST: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: All right, when we spoke about UCLA I asked you if there was a chance that it was the only instance and you said it certainly seemed unlikely. Can we now begin to guess, from two instances, about how widespread this really might be?
CAPLAN: Well, what I'm nervous about, Keith, is that you've got medical schools, some of which have a surplus of bodies, and so, Tulane clearly was getting more gifts than it could use, sold about half of these things out to the Army over a span of years. That really does start to make you nervous that instead of saying to people, you know - we can't accept your gift, we don't need it, whatever, they're selling it off to third parties.
OLBERMANN: Is there any sort of protocol covering that situation? I mean, any kind of argument that says, all right, we did not need these bodies, there was legitimate scientific need that we filled with them?
CAPLAN: I'll tell you, it's very clear. If you donate your body to Tulane, UCLA, University of Pennsylvania, whatever, you intend that it be used there. You don't intend that a third party come along and take it and sell it to another agency for weapons research or, for that matter, automobile accident research, which I know some bodies have been used in. You intend that it be used at the school.
Now, the research is legitimate, this kind of weapons research, I'm not knocking it. But, you have to get the explicit consent of the person making the gift if you want to transfer it on somewhere else, and they didn't do that.
OLBERMANN: Do we dare ask what's next? I mean, you mentioned the accident tests. Are there other ways and purposes for the use of cadavers? And we're going to find out that - you know, somebody bought some on eBay?
CAPLAN: When you've got some - when you've got the kind of world we're living in now with bio-terror and worries about that, I think may find bodies are used in all kinds of ways trying to figure out whether you could hide or store biological weapons, chemical weapons, what they're early impact might be, it's possible they could be used for that. You know, there are always collectors running around out there looking for things or art displace and so forth. I'd say this, the way to clean this all up is make user responsible for making sure the tissue was ethically acquired. The buck stops with the person who's got the body at the end of the line. If we really held to that, we wouldn't see this kind of sleazy dealings and off the books kind of thing going on.
OLBERMANN: Professor Arthur Caplan, bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania. Once again, our thanks.
CAPLAN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: We'll talk to you with the next one, I guess.
And if you thought the first story of ghouls gone wild was over, think again. UCLA might have missed a hint that it was coming. Henry G. Reid, the director of the university's body donor program, who was caught running a virtual chop shop in body parts, lied in a deposition in 2002 about his professional and academic qualifications. So, reports the "Los Angeles Times."
The paper says that a deposition in a lawsuit filed by dissatisfied donor families; Reid said he had earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy and music from St. John's Seminary, then a master's in music from Cal State Fullerton. Officials at both schools told the "Times" that records show Reid earned neither degree. He also had filed for bankruptcy protection three times; he was strapped for cash before his hiring by UCLA in 1997.
Curtains for tonight's No. 4, the continuing cadaver capers. Coming up next on COUNTDOWN: Those stories that do not make banner headlines, but we are compelled to tell you about them anyway. "Oddball, and she defines it, straight ahead.
And later, new developments in the culture wars. Movement on the gay marriage debate on both coasts, today.
But, before we leave our No. 4 story tonight, there are four things you need to know. COUNTDOWN's top four ways human cadavers are recycled.
No. 4: Of course, teaching and education.
And No. 3: when the future plastic surgeons get out of school and into practice, they are occasionally plumping up your lips with human cadaver tissue.
No. 2: safety testing, as professor Caplan mentioned, for body armor and, yes, crash testing.
And No. 1: The bizarre artistic experiments that he mentioned, brought to you by German artist, Gunther von Hagens, using real human cadavers in an exhibition called "Body Works." (sic)
OLBERMANN: As bona fide news, these stories are useless, as comic relief, especially on a bitter day, like today, they may be priceless. We bring you now the bottom of the journalistic barrel invoked by the incantation, "Let's play Oddball."
She tried to spend $1 million bill at Wal-Mart, but today she explained it was just a misunderstanding, Alice Pike said she thought it was real. You can't keep up with the U.S. Treasury, says the Georgia woman, nor, apparently, can you keep up with those pesky, ever-changing hairstyling trends.
Not to try to work the side of our friends from the Discovery channel, the "MythBusters," but have you ever heard the one about how duct tape can cure warts? Apparently it's true. A San Diego family doctor tested out the theory on 60 kids with classic warts, things that clearly are not skin cancer, nor anything else serious. They had duct tape applied, the left it on for a week to two months. Fifty-one of the warts vanished and did not return. That's an 85 percent cure figure. The dermatologists weigh liquid nitrogen works only 60 percent of the time. Cost of the duct tape treatment? About 10 cents, plus you can use it later to please the office of Homeland Security.
And with any luck, he's lying. If he isn't, beware, someday soon we may see ad in space. Spacecraft engineer Alexander Lavrynov tells the news agency "Interfax" that he has patented a device for putting ads outside earth's orbit. They would be displayed on multiple satellites, liked together using sunlight refractors and be visible in the night sky across the entire continents. And the first one would probably be for eLoan.
COUNTDOWN about to mark the halfway point. When we come back, tonight's No. 3 story. The punishment is in for hockey's Todd Bertuzzi. We'll talk to a former hockey star who had his career ended in a similar incidents.
Later, a place where they encourage you to talk while the movie is on.
Karaoke meets cinema.
Those stories ahead. First here are COUNTDOWN's "Top 3 Newsmakers" of this day:
No. 3: Julia Roberts, no the other one. The 96-year-old woman from North Carolina in the wheelchair arrested for trying to sell crack.
No. 2: Reverend Christopher Coyne, spokesman for the Catholic archdiocese of Boston. The church was approached by Catholic fans of the Red Sox baseball team. The Red Sox home opening game, next month, falls on Good Friday. Catholics are not supposed to eat meat on Good Friday, Sox fans want to eat hot dogs in the ballpark on Good Friday. The archdiocese said "no."
Um, excuse me. What makes you think that those hot dogs are meat?
And No. 1: Davaughn Goethe of Stanford, Connecticut, arrested for trying to sell narcotics to undercover cops. He had flagged down and gotten into their undercover vehicles, an he said, "you guys look like cops." He tried to sell them narcotics, anyway. Mr. Goethe, apparently didn't realize that the reason they looked like cops was that they were wearing their raid jacks, the ones with - on the back, on the sleeves, and on the front - big letters that spell out "police."
OLBERMANN: The last time the National Hockey League made news
headlines, on February 22, 2000, the player from the Vancouver Canucks was
assaulted with a stick by a rival from the Boston Bruins. A teammate said
· quote - "It's disgusting what happened. The league has to do something about it. I've never seen anything like that before. I'm speechless."
That speechless, disgusted angry Vancouver player was named Todd Bertuzzi, the same Todd Bertuzzi who on Monday night did this to Steve Moore of the Colorado Avalanche. Moore, still hospitalized with a broken neck, has said nothing. The National Hockey League today said that Bertuzzi was suspended for the balance of this season without pay and might be suspended anew at the start of next season. His team will be fined a quarter of a million dollars. And Bertuzzi has tearfully apologized.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TODD BERTUZZI, NHL PLAYER: Steve, I just want to apologize for what happened out there. But I had no intention on hurting you. And I feel awful for what transpired. To the fans of hockey and the fans of Vancouver, for the kids that watch this game, I'm truly sorry. I don't play the game that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Violence, not incidental contact, but assault is not new to hockey; 70 National Hockey League seasons ago, the career of Toronto Maple Leafs legend Irvine "Ace" Bailey was ended when he was blindsided by Eddie Shore of the Boston Bruins.
Only the coincidence that two of this country's top brain surgeons were in Boston that night saved Bailey's life, and only after two operations and two weeks at death's door. And 29 seasons ago, another Boston Bruin, Dave Forbes, effectively ended the career of the man described as the most electrifying in Minnesota hockey history, Henry Boucha of the Minnesota North Stars. Forbes broke Boucha's eye socket with the shaft of his stick.
Forbes was arrested, tried. The trial ended in a hung jury. Forced to retire at age 24, Boucha sued Forbes and the Boston Bruins and the National Hockey League. He settled for $1.5 million and is still receiving payments monthly.
United States Hockey Hall of Famer Henry Boucha joins us now from Minnesota.
And good evening to you, sir.
HENRY BOUCHA, FORMER NHL PLAYER: Thank you, Keith. Thanks for having me on tonight.
OLBERMANN: I'd like your reaction first not to Todd Bertuzzi's actions on the ice, but to his actions off the ice, the suspension and the apology. As a victim of something like this, does the suspension make a difference? Does the apology make a difference?
BOUCHA: Well, you have to start somewhere.
And I believe that the National Hockey League finally recognized the seriousness of this situation and went ahead and suspended him without pay, fined the team, and kept the options open for future suspensions, fines, what have you, probably depending on the outcome of how Steve Moore is going to recover.
OLBERMANN: It's been pointed out by a lot of people that when Marty McSorley attacked Donald Brashear four years ago, when Dave Forbes attacked you 29 years ago, that those incidents differed from the Bertuzzi-Moore incident, because those men used their hockey sticks and Bertuzzi did not. Do you see a distinction or is this issue of stick-no stick not relevant?
BOUCHA: Well, when you have a man 6'4, 240 pounds following you around the rink in an unprovoked attack like that, and taking a wild shot at you, hitting you in the jaw, and then landing on top of you, breaking a bone on his neck, what's the difference? Is it aggravated assault or is it assault? It's still kind of the same mold.
And it's still stepping over that line. The National Hockey League condones fighting, if you're toe to toe or whatever in the heat of the battle, whether he hits you, you hit him back. In that type of situation, it's the heat of the game. When you step over that line with an intent to injure a player in an unprovoked attack, it's way over the line. And it doesn't need to be part of the National Hockey League.
OLBERMANN: You talk about the line and what the league condones. As suggest by your story and that of the first Ace Bailey, the over-the-line violence is at least seven decades old. Do you think the NHL has really ever done enough to stop true violence, over-the-line stuff, or is there part of the league that hesitates to curb it, because there's still a mind-set that says violence is part of the appeal of the sport?
BOUCHA: Well, obviously, you know, the appeal of - I was just listening to Mike Max on the Minneapolis WCCO radio station on the way over here, and he's doing kind of an interview regarding fan support of such action.
And there's a lot of call-ins that people want to see the fights. It's part of the game. But I guess the bottom line here is, do you step over the line? When you step over that line and - in an unprovoked attack and intend to injure another player, you know, we as fans - now, I'm a fan now and I've got kids growing up. The kids watch this. They feel that they can go ahead and actually do this, too, in their games in minor hockey.
And I think that, you know, it's a big ticket for the National Hockey League to let fighting continue, because they say it's part of the game and it sells tickets. But, you know, it's got to stop somewhere. What's going to happen next? Where is this going to go? Are we going to have more players going into the court system on aggravated assault and assault? If somebody does this on the street, you're going to go to jail. You're going to end up in court with a fine and probably 30 to 60 days in jail.
Why do we let this happen on an ice rink? That, I can't understand.
OLBERMANN: And I'm with you on that, sir. Henry Boucha, one of the greatest hockey players ever produced by this country, a privilege to talk to you, sir. Thank you.
BOUCHA: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Continuing our third story with the other headline of sports gone wild.
Literally, one day after the head of the Baseball Players Union defended his membership's use of the steroid-like substance androstenedione in front of Congress because it's legal, the federal government finally inched towards making it illegal. Andro, which is chemically not a steroid when you take it, but becomes one once it's in your body, was the supplement used by Mark McGwire when he broke baseball's single-season home run record in 1998.
A federal drug monitoring survey showed that, in 2001, one out of every 40 high school seniors in this country was using the stuff, the side effects of which include increased risk for heart disease and also acne and baldness. Today, the Food and Drug Administration told 23 manufacturers of the product that, if they cannot prove it is not dangerous, they had better stop selling it.
But just this week, one of those manufacturers, NVE Pharmaceuticals, filed a federal lawsuit seeking to thwart any FDA attempts to ban the sale of andro. In Canada and Great Britain, among other countries, androstenedione is considered so dangerous that it cannot be obtained, even with a doctor's prescription.
Here, as the baseball union chief so matter-of-factly noted yesterday, it is still legal, and unless the FDA defends itself against that suit from the manufacturer, it could remain so.
General Barry McCaffrey not only commanded the 24th I.D. in the 1991 Gulf War, but during the Clinton administration, he headed this nation's anti-drug effort.
General McCaffrey, good to talk to you again, sir.
RET. GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, NBC MILITARY ANALYST: Good to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Why has this country moved so slowly on androstenedione?
MCCAFFREY: Well, it's disgraceful.
You know, part of the damage was this Food Supplement Act that took many of these compounds out of the control of the FDA. So having spent 50 years trying to create safe pharmaceutical products in public, a lot of them are being bypassed. We were selling tons of ephedra products, which essentially is an illegal stimulant. So we've certainly got to focus on a drug-free workplace.
As you mentioned, Keith, it's enormously harmful to these athletes, liver damage, developing acne and male breast enlargement. Now, these are powerful drugs, and we ought to walk away from them.
OLBERMANN: Especially if the kids are using it and 10th grader and 12th graders.
MCCAFFREY: That's exactly right.
The elite athlete are an example to America's youth. We're seeing it in little league baseball, for gosh's sake, high school football, wrestling, etcetera. It's permeating our culture. And we got to tell the elite athletes, we're not going to allow you to do that.
OLBERMANN: Obviously, the FDA is using the same fashion against andro with which it finally got ephedra off the store shelves. But it only moved on ephedra after ephedra had been linked to 155 deaths, including that of the baseball pitcher Steve Bechler.
Are FDA threats enough against andro or any of the steroid or steroid-like substances?
MCCAFFREY: Probably not. I was really proud to see Senator McCain stepping forward. Senator Stevens played a very prominent role in trying to bring U.S. Olympic Committee athletes and International Olympic Committee athletes under control.
We probably need federal legislation. We need to say not just to the athletes, we're going to hold you accountable, but also their coaches, their trainers, the team physicians. This has to be a collective sense of responsibility that these are harmful to the athletes and we're not going to tolerate it.
OLBERMANN: Thirty-five years ago, nearly, long before steroids and andro and most of the other supplements that we know now, the baseball pitcher and author Jim Bouton wrote that, if a picture could take a pill that would guarantee him 20 wins a year, but take five years off his life, he with not think twice. He would take the pill. So we know where at least some of the athletes are coming from and have been coming from on this, even before the possibility existed.
But the one group you left out in discussing culpability here were the sports pro leagues and the owners on this. Where are they and what should the government be doing to encourage them to come down on the right side of this issue?
Well, of course, some of them have started to cooperate. Professional football had done a pretty good response. NBA, they responded. We made a big attempt to say, look, you can't use drugs that aren't performance-enhancing either. Marijuana ought to be banned from professional athlete use. So I think, again, legislation, not just the marketplace, not just economics. We need to say, this is a public law. We're not going tolerate the behavior.
And that includes significant adverse action against owners and sports officials. Mr. Fehr's reaction as a union representative I think is outrageous.
OLBERMANN: General Barry McCaffrey, the former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, as always, sir, great thanks for joining us here.
MCCAFFREY: Good to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That rounds out the No. 3 story tonight, bad sports.
Up next, No. 2 on the COUNTDOWN, major developments on same-sex marriage, one from each coast.
And think you can act better than this? Well, who are we kidding? Almost anybody could act better than that. Now there's a special place for those who wish to try. Stand by for that.
First, here are COUNTDOWN's top three sound bites of this day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAYSON BLAIR, FORMER "NEW YORK TIMES" REPORTER: Also make you a quality journalist.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, "HARDBALL": What are you going to do next?
BLAIR: I think I'm going to write a novel. If I'm as good a writer
as you say I am
MATTHEWS: You know why?
MATTHEWS: We know you have the two qualities necessary. You're a great writer and you know how to lie.
KEVIN TIBBLES: Well, listen, Todd Bertuzzi's hit clearly was from behind. He is now going to be suspended for the rest of the year. His team did have a chance in the playoffs. I'd say so. I don't know about you, but it now looks like...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I love you, too. Thank you very much. I'm sure the young men here are going to be cross with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Our No. 2 story on COUNTDOWN next, the marriage bans, not the engagements announcements of yore, but the current questions surrounding gay marriage in Massachusetts and California. Also ahead, why Ben Affleck is being inducted into the COUNTDOWN Hall of Fame.
OLBERMANN: The California Supreme Court in San Francisco ordered officials there to immediately halt same-sex marriages. Massachusetts lawmakers today gave preliminary approval to a constitutional amendment to ban them and to allow civil unions.
Our No. 2 story on the COUNTDOWN, key developments from both edges of the country, Massachusetts expected, but, as our correspondent Karen Brown (ph) reports, far less expected in California.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do.
KAREN BROWN (ph), NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 3,700 gay and lesbian couples have said "I do" in San Francisco over the past four weeks. But now the California Supreme Court said, they won't, at least for now. The seven justices ruled unanimously to halt the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses until the matter can be settled by the state's highest courts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I now pronounce you spouses for life.
BROWN: The controversy began in February when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom decided to issue same-sex marriage licenses based on his interpretation of the state constitution's guarantee of equal protection for everyone.
GAVIN NEWSOM (D), MAYOR OF SAN FRANCISCO: I just see the Constitution a little bit more broadly, and I don't limit it to discrimination. And I don't think we have the right to discriminate.
BROWN: As gay and lesbian couples flocked to San Francisco to tie the knot, conservative groups filed suit to block the same-sex wedding march. The state attorney general's office then filed with the state Supreme Court asking it to sort out the matter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We missed it by a minute. We were the last ones. We were the first ones turned away.
BROWN: The city of San Francisco has complied with the court's order and has stopped issuing the same-sex marriage licenses.
Karen Brown, NBC News.
OLBERMANN: So our No. 2 story tonight on COUNTDOWN, a halt on gay marriage in California and a move towards a ban in Boston.
OLBERMANN: The COUNTDOWN Hall of Fame, Jackie Stallone.
JACKIE STALLONE: Now, what kind of questions are you going to ask?
OLBERMANN: The Steve Bartman baseball, Cheyenne Kowtzer (ph), the bear who fell to earth. And tonight, we honor a new inductee enshrined among our immortals, Mr. Ben Affleck, TV news critic, in the COUNTDOWN Hall of Fame.
OLBERMANN: The ceremony to be conducted here in our celebrity segment, "Keeping Tabs."
One of my happiest, goofiest memories of reporting is the year I covered the Oscars, and Tom Hanks, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck pulled me across the protective shrubbery and on to the red carpet. But even that would not get Mr. Affleck in the COUNTDOWN Hall of Fame. Only this would.
Affleck, quizzed by "The New York Daily News" about the continuing bad press over his failed engagement to Jennifer Lopez. Specifically, he was asked, if he felt he had gotten so abused by the media, why did he go on the Howard Stern show, of all vehicles, last December? Affleck's answer:
"With Howard, you know what you're getting. It's not CNN, where there's some snide (EXPLETIVE DELETED) named Anderson Cooper pretending to do real news."
Ben, finally, somebody had to say it. And next time, mention that they tried to steal our format, unsuccessfully, obviously.
Speaking of cheating, it's possible they just made this up. It's possible they selected the participants based on how they promised to answer the question. But "Esquire" magazine claims it has a survey indicating with which celebrity women wives would permit their husbands to cheat. It's OK with 45 percent of them if it's Nicole Kidman, 18 percent if it's Britney Spears, 27 percent if it's Barbara Walters.
Maybe this explains why she's freeing up so much spare time by retiring from "20/20."
Still ahead of us here, your No. 1 story tonight. Here's your preview, homemade Hollywood, the chance to star in your favorite movie or humiliate yourself, or both.
But first, back to that "Esquire" survey. If women are OK with Kidman and Walters and Spears as lovers for their husbands, who would they pick as lovers for themselves? According to a magazine, it's a tie. It's a tie. The top two women - or the top two men that women would choose are Heath Ledger and Orlando Bloom. Thank you.
COUNTDOWN's top two men that the husbands would pick for their wives to be unfaithful with? No. 2, no one, and, No. 1, no one. Did I do that right, mixture of assertiveness and vulnerability, without jealousy?
OLBERMANN: It is unlikely that you could find 10 people who had never wanted to be in a movie. I was in one once. It was hard work. And I wasn't just bad. I got an award from the National Association of Cabinet Makers for the most wooden performance of 1987.
But now, as we discover in tonight's No. 1 story, you can be in a movie without running the risk of embarrassing yourself in front of thousands of people. However, as COUNTDOWN's Monica Novotny is here to tell us, you do have to risk embarrassing yourself in front of your friends.
Monica, good evening.
MONICA NOVOTNY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: As I'm about to do. Good evening.
We have all heard of karaoke. Now, for those of us who can't sing, there's movieoke, which means it's finally OK to talk during your favorite film. In fact, that's the whole point.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to movieoke. Thank you for coming.
We need a Tim Robbins. You got one line. You just act like an idiot.
NOVOTNY (voice-over): Welcome to New York City's Dean of Cin. If your fetish if film, the home of movieoke is your Holy Grail.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a king. I didn't know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective.
ANASTASIA FITE, CREATOR OF MOVIEOKE: You pick any scene from any movie that you have ever wanted to act out. And I get the DVD, put on subtitles. And you get up on stage. And it's your moment to do whatever you want.
NOVOTNY: Twenty-four-year-old screenwriter Anastasia Fite created this movie lovers' fantasy last October.
FITE: And I realized I think there are a lot of other people like me that have very intimate relationships with their VCRs.
NOVOTNY: So, every Wednesday night, it's lights, camera, action. Unlike that other oke, there is no singing, but there is emoting, as closet thespians connect to their inner Jack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You heard me, Harding.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You go on hassling Nurse Ratchet, knowing how much I had to lose and you never told me nothing.
(on camera): And what did you think?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know if I have the courage for it yet, but a couple of these.
NOVOTNY: Well, I think you are drinking some liquid courage right there, aren't you?
(voice-over): If you can conquer your fear, the only limit is your movie memory.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never really became an actor, but maybe one of these days, I will be.
NOVOTNY: Tonight is your night, superstar. How about "Young Frankenstein"?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN")
GENE WILDER, ACTOR: That's Frankenstein.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would collapse like a bunch of broccoli.
NOVOTNY: A serial killer or the dancer/welder. Performances range from the classic...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to go to the bathroom. Is that all right?
NOVOTNY: To the not so much. We give you "Gigli."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about I keep calling you Ricki just to piss you off.
NOVOTNY (on camera): If it will make you happy. This is the perfect piece for us.
FITE: Movieoke is a fabulous opportunity to make a fool of yourself in a supporting environment, basically. You will be laughing the entire time that you are here.
NOVOTNY (voice-over): Laughing with us or at us?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're still trying to figure it out.
NOVOTNY: Me, too.
NOVOTNY: Ms. Fite is currently working to license a set of film clips and put together a movieoke kit that could be used in bars around the country and, she hopes, around the world. I just have to give credit to Mr. Rich Stockwell (ph), my co-star in our "Gigli" piece.
OLBERMANN: Who, along with you and the proprietor, prove that most of the casting decisions in Hollywood were correct.
OLBERMANN: Quickly, is there one requested scene more than any other?
NOVOTNY: I was hoping that there would be. There is not. But she says that all those 80's "Brat Pack" films tend to be the favorite. I think that's because everyone there is in their mid-20s and those are the films that they have grown up with.
OLBERMANN: Don't try it with my film. I'm warning you.
NOVOTNY: What's the name of your film?
OLBERMANN: COUNTDOWN's Monica Novotny, many thanks.
OLBERMANN: One more thing you need to know about our No. 1 story, the No. 1 rented home video of 2003, "The Bourne Identity," starring Matt Damon.
And if you're movieoke-ing it, learn the unforgettable dialogue. "You sent me to kill Wombosi." "Kill Wombosi? We can do that any time we want."
That's COUNTDOWN. Thanks for being part of it. I'm Keith Olbermann.
Good night and good luck.