'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Dec. 31
OLBERMANN: So explosive, so revealing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apparently, it was made up of Michael Jackson's old noses.
OLBERMANN: A year not for the faint of heart. Not for the faint of voice.
HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes!
OLBERMANN: A year of political dignity, of questions vital to our democracy.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Does anyone need a rib?
OLBERMANN: A year when animals reclaimed much that was theirs. When man interacted with beasts in ways before unseen.
REV. AL SHARPTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I intend to slap this donkey.
OLBERMANN: A year when sex became news, and news became sex.
BILL O'REILLY, HOST, FOX NEW CHANNEL'S "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": And I will never speak of it again.
OLBERMANN: A year of dignity, a year of triumph.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, no.
OLBERMANN: A year we will never forget, no matter how hard we try.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know when the countdown started, but I've been watching.
BUSH: Now will you join me in the countdown?
OLBERMANN: Countdown's favorites of 2004.
OLBERMANN: Good evening, Countdown's favorite things of 2004. Well, that sure gives us a lot of latitude. We take it anyway, of course. That's the point of the news cast.
We neither necessarily begin nor end each night's program with the, quote unquote, most important story. But when we do, we seldom do it reverently.
Thus we begin our recap of the year that was with the campaign that was, yes, pretty important. Most important election of our lifetimes, both sides said, and certainly the most mean-spirited and definitely the goofiest.
SHARPTON: I know the symbol of this party is the donkey.
DEAN: Thank you so much.
DICK GEPHARDT (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you so much.
SHARPTON: Donkeys are stubborn.
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks to the people of New Hampshire we are in a three way split decision for third place.
SHARPTON: If you want to move a donkey, you have to slap the donkey.
DEAN: I do not recommend drinking urine.
SHARPTON: I intend to slap this donkey till this donkey kicks George Bush right out of the White House.
PENNY MARSHALL & CINDY WILLIAMS, ACTORS: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, schlemiel, schlimazel, hasenpfeffer incorporated!
CINDY GRECCO, SINGER (singing): Give us any chance we'll take it.
Read us any rule we'll break it.
OLBERMANN: Is the fact that these guys and lady are on TV more often than is Lester Holt a god thing or a bad thing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just wish it was over with, ha, ha.
DEAN: You know something? You know something? We're going to South Carolina, California, Texas, New York, South Dakota, Oregon, Washington, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Arizona, North Dakota, New Mexico, Connecticut, Arkansas.
OLBERMANN: Anaheim, Asuza (ph) and Cucamonga.
SHARPTON: Don't be hard on yourself about hooting and hollering.
DEAN: Thanks, Reverend.
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": And the No.
1 way how Howard Dean can turn things around.
DEAN: Oh, I don't know, maybe fewer crazy red-faced rants.
LIEBERMAN: I have decided tonight to end my quest for the presidency of the United States of America.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've decided to suspend my campaign for the president...
GEPHARDT: Today my pursuit of the presidency has reached its end.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have decided we're going to end this phase.
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am so very grateful.
SHARPTON: I intend to slap this donkey.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The next critical step we must take is to help elect John Kerry as the next president of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): The winner takes it all. The loser's standing small.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why the hell. There's nothing falling. What the (expletive deleted) are you guys doing up there?
GRAPHIC: Yo no soy marinero Soy Capitan.
KERRY: Reporting for duty.
BUSH: I've got a hopeful vision for this country.
KERRY: This will have to be the very last question. I apologize. But it's got to be. And in deference to Lambert Field and Vince, whom I've quoted a few times, I've got to go to this Packer fan.
BUSH: If someone offers you a cheesehead don't say you want some wine. Just put it on your head and take a seat at Lambeau Field.
KERRY: There were three countries, Great Britain, Australia and the United States. We can do better.
BUSH: Well, actually, you forgot Poland.
LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: And you show the world exactly what women can achieve with faith, with hard work, and a whole lot of chutzpah.
TERESA HEINZ KERRY, JOHN KERRY'S WIFE: You said something I didn't say, now shove it.
BUSH: Today we've got a hall of famer with us. Mr. Robin Roberts. Thank you for coming, Robin. I'm honored you're here. Where are you? Oh, yes.
We're having a discussion with our key members of the defense team about a variety of subjects. We talked about Iraq. We're making progress on the ground.
KERRY: Last time I was here you had a great big giant cow made of butter.
BUSH: Nice to be here at the Boone County fairgrounds. I was hoping to get a corny dog.
KERRY: Now, what I'd really like is the Harley-Davidson made of butter.
KERRY: I had chili and a Frostie.
BUSH: Anybody need a rib?
KERRY: Chocolate Frostie.
BUSH: Do you want some ribs?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now behind us, a future president (ph) enjoying a cold drink from Wendy's.
BUSH: Do you want some ribs?
KERRY: Some chili.
BUSH: I'm ordering ribs.
KERRY: First of all, No. 1.
No. 3, we need a president who understands.
No. 4 - guess what, Tim?
Guess what, Tim, $11 million.
That said, No. 1.
But here's the bottom line. No. 1.
DR. PHIL, TALK SHOW HOST: Were y'all spankers? Did you spank them?
BUSH: Not really.
L. BUSH: Not very often.
BUSH: Not really.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you want to be vice president?
EDWARDS: To build a better country and a better world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to interview somebody else.
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a spider on my back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And if you don't mind my saying so, the vice president is no slouch either.
GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll never forget the paper he wrote in the fourth grade, where he explained that in 1519 Ferdinand Magellan set out to circumcise the world.
GRAPHIC: George W. Bush Invigorating America's Youth.
BUSH: We need to maintain spending discipline in our nation's capital. I plan to protect small business owners and employees.
House members, all the local officials, the sheriff is with us today.
If you're worried about the quality of the education. We stand for the fair treatment of faith-based groups.
Travel sovereignty means that. It's sovereignty. You're a - you're a - you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity.
And, therefore, the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities.
KERRY: I know that my plan has a better chance of working.
BUSH: We've got an issue in America. Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many ob gyn's aren't able to practice their - their love with women all across this country.
KERRY: Well, I want to make certain that our troops are protected.
BUSH: You're doing good, Sam.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I told you you'd have to cut me off.
BUSH: I haven't cut you off yet. You and my mother go to the same hair dye person.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, President Bush...
BUSH: The superintendent of schools, Big Bob Watson is here. Did they ever call you Big Bob?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir, and governor - excuse me, president.
BUSH: Yes. How quickly they forget.
One of the most meaningful things that's happened to me since I've been the governor - president - governor - president oops.
OLBERMANN: President Bush's re-election was followed by a flurry of departures by members of his cabinet, none more significant than that of Secretary of State Colin Powell.
In a life rich with accomplishment, it was one moment in July that captured our fancy. In his official capacity as secretary of state, Mr. Powell traveled to Jakarta for the 2004 ASEAN regional forum, Asia's largest security meeting.
Apparently, they like to end this important and sober annual summit with a big song and dance number.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE (singing): It's got to be RBNC. The RBNC. You can go there. They're waiting for you. Don't hold your breath for the E.U. RBNC. It's got everything for all of us to enjoy. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) never alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Wow. Karaoke at the Powell goodbye party, anybody?
Singing and dancing by one Miss Janet Jackson captured the attention in '04. All right. It was really the nipple shield.
The breast that launched a yearlong values debate and launched a Countdown mainstay, the apology hall of fame. The infraction gets the headlines, but it's the mea culpa that makes the story.
Our 2004 favorite things will be right back.
OLBERMANN: Whether or not moral values really decided the 2004 election is up for debate. The exit polls that night showed it ranked first among the issues upon which voters made up their mind.
Of course, those were the same exit polls that were otherwise supposed to be completely wrong.
Later, another set of polls that were not multiple choice found that values was only the third most important issue behind No. 2, Iraq, and No. 1, other.
But don't tell anybody that in cable news. Moral values constituted 22.6 percent of our programming this year. And when I say 22.6 percent, of course, I'm just making up a number out of thin air.
Still, gay marriage, the basket brawl, the "Monday Night Football" towel drop and especially Martha behind bars, the Lotto winner who wasn't and the wardrobe malfunction.
They may not have decided anything, but they sure let us show a lot of titillating videotape.
OLBERMANN (voice-over): Janet Jackson turned Super Bowl XXXVIII into Super Bowl 38D.
The awful night had begun with the omen the whole world missed, the ceremonial coin toss conducted by football legend Y.A. Tittle, soon to be the question on everyone's list. Why a tittle?
Unaware of the cataclysm that awaited him, Timberlake was initially proud.
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, SINGER: I love giving you all something to talk about.
OLBERMANN: And then the others got loud.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jerry, hello! Jerry, hello! (ph). It's not like this was a real one. I mean, apparently it was made up of Michael Jackson's old noses.
ROB SCHNEIDER, COMEDIAN: Well, I guarantee you, that's the oldest booby that Justin Timberlake has ever seen.
OLBERMANN: And soon the breast seemed to have taken on a life and a publicity agent of its own.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, hey, hey, that halftime show was OK.
CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": Yes, it was, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, hey, hey, my areola was on full display.
OLBERMANN: And then the good times ended, from halftime-half open to 100 percent backlash.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Offensive, embarrassing, and inappropriate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We received thousands of complaints.
CARSON DALY, TALK SHOW HOST: I don't think it was an accident what happened at the Super Bowl.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was very calculated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody had knowledge.
OLBERMANN: Think of the children. Will somebody think of the children?
Though the universe seemed aligned against her very being, Janet would ultimately realize that when you are a Jackson, you are not alone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): You are not alone. I am here with you.
JERMAINE JACKSON, JANET JACKSON'S BROTHER: That's Janet. That's my little baby sister.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Thanks for the memories
OLBERMANN: Martha Stewart is going to the big house, and they probably will not let her redecorate it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Martha Stewart's courtroom decorum do's and don'ts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do always look your best. Consider a trip to the hair salon. Choose a proper hairstyle and stick with it. One never knows when the authorities may want to take your picture. Remember, a photograph lasts forever.
And always dress appropriately. But whatever you do, keep your clothes on at all times. This is a court of law, not a Super Bowl halftime show.
Do leave every day without a fuss. Remember, the court of public opinion never takes a recess.
Don't make a spectacle of yourself outside. Leave the dancing and singing to those unconcerned with projecting a proper image.
ROBERT BLAKE, ACTOR (singing): Somewhere...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do always be gracious. Thank the judge when the trial is over.
Try to help find the real killers, if appropriate.
And remember, revenge is a dish best served cold, much like a plate of tasty cyanide-laced smoked salmon canape. Delish!
OLBERMANN: The winning ticket in the $162 million dollar lottery in Ohio. There was only one of them, but the number of women who claim they own it is one too many.
Exhibit A, the store, the epicenter. This is where she bought the ticket. This is where she lost the ticket.
Exhibit b, the winning numbers, 12, 18, 21, 32, 46 and Megaball 49. Miss Battle explains that all of those numbers are significant to her. For instance, her husband's age, 48.
But wait a minute, after careful investigation, we determined that none of those numbers are 48. Forty-six is close. Forty-nine is closer. But neither is 48. We asked math guys.
Exhibit C, Miss Battle on Countdown. She took her fight nationwide, authoritatively announcing to the world exactly what had happened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After I purchased the ticket, I guess I lost it.
OLBERMANN: Exhibit D, the revelation. We asked Miss Battle about her suspicious past.
Your client has previously been convicted on credit fraud - credit card fraud charges, and also, for assault.
Watch the eyes, back and to the left. Again, back and to the left.
And finally, exhibit Z, the photograph. A photograph of Elecia Battle, a photograph that shows a complete absence of winning ticket tude.
OLBERMANN: Nothing goes better with manufactured outrage than a good old fashion insincere apology. Two thousand and four gave us our fair share of those wonderfully awkward moments.
No media driven conniption fit can be complete without the public act of contrition from the offender, who, seeking closure, must step before the camera and at least try to look like he or she is really, really sorry.
Some, merely believable. Most, not so much. But only a select few are worthy of a place in the Countdown Apology Hall of Fame.
ASHLEE SIMPSON, SINGER: On a Monday I am waiting. On a Tuesday...
I feel so song. My band started playing the wrong song. And I didn't know what to do, so I thought I'd do a hoedown. I'm sorry.
TERRELL OWENS, NFL PLAYER: Personally, I didn't think it would have offended anyone.
You know, if it did, you know, we'll apologize.
JAMES MCGREEVEY, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: I am sorry. So, so sorry that mistakes...
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: For the Iraqis who were mistreated by members of the U.S. armed forces, I offer my deepest apology.
BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NYC POLICE COMMISSIONER: I feel sorry to anybody that's been brought into this unnecessarily.
DAN RATHER, ANCHOR, CBS NEWS: It was a mistake. CBS News deeply regrets it. Also, I want to say personally and regretfully, I'm sorry.
JANET JACKSON, ENTERTAINER: Unfortunately, the whole thing went wrong in the end. I am really sorry.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that my public comments and my silence about this matter gave a false impression. I misled people, including even my wife.
KOBE BRYANT, NBA PLAYER: I'm so sorry. I love my wife so much.
SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: In order to be a racist, you have to feel superior. I don't feel superior to you at all. I don't think any man or any woman is superior to any other.
ED GORDON, BET ANCHOR: Did you always hold that view?
LOTT: I think I did.
TONYA HARDING, OLYMPIC SKATER: I feel really bad for Nancy. And I feel really lucky that it wasn't me.
JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": What the hell were you thinking?
HUGH GRANT, ACTOR: I just never realized pretty much what's a good thing to do and what's a bad thing. And I did a bad thing. There you have it.
STEVE IRWIN, "THE CROCODILE HUNTER": Sweetie, who do you want to be when you grow up?
BINDI IRWIN, STEVE IRWIN'S DAUGHTER: Just like my daddy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve - Steve, let me jump in here.
S. IRWIN: Poor little thing. I am sorry, mate.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, CALIFORNIA: Yes, I have behaved badly sometimes. I'm sorry for those people that I've offended. I want to say to them I'm deeply sorry about that, and I apologize.
RICHARD M. NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And if some of my judgments were wrong, and some were wrong, they were made in what I believed at the time to be the best interests of the nation.
ELTON JOHN, SINGER (singing): What will I do to make you want me?
JIMMY SWAGGART, TELEVANGELIST: Please forgive me. I have sinned against you, my Lord. And I would ask that you forgive me.
OLBERMANN: It's anybody's guess who the next class of inductees will be come the new year: Bill O'Reilly? Probably not. We're still waiting for the apology for all those Americans who will now remember '04 as the year of the falafel.
And the daily dance between the guys who run and the cops who chase them. If the bad guys would only watch Countdown, they would understand how their brush with the law is destined to end.
OLBERMANN: Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes? Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes? I don't think so. These are Countdown's favorite things, not that Julie Andrews picture.
Coming up, our battle to save the O'Reilly tapes. We didn't even know if there were O'Reilly tapes with his whispering sweet falafel nothings to his producer, but we were not going to risk their destruction.
You and I both putting our money where his mouth was on that one.
And you, the viewer, giving me quite the unexpected honor this year:
sexiest news anchor alive. I only wanted to beat Andy Rooney, I swear.
And from chasing votes to just plain old chases, whether they be behind the wheel or just steps in front of some really nasty bullhorns. Countdown's 2004 favorite things continues after this message.
OLBERMANN: People of the right age can remember exactly where they were the day they heard World War II had ended or how long their hair was the day the man landed on the moon.
Or, in our own era, that glorious afternoon when they announced that Bill O'Reilly was being sued by a former producer named Andrea Mackris for sexual harassment on the phone. Mr. I'm looking out for you, accused of looking out not just for himself, but looking out on himself.
As we continue to recall Countdown's favorite things of 2004, we take you back to the time when transcripts of those naughty phone calls and the likelihood that those calls were on tape became public knowledge.
And it appeared we might get to hear O'Reilly talking endlessly about using a loofah sponge on a guest in the shower, only to suddenly start hearing him call it not only a loofah, but a falafel.
We called our campaign "Save the Tapes."
OLBERMANN (voice-over): When the first court orders began to arrive indicating he'd have to surrender the secret tapes that would ultimately doom his presidency, Richard Nixon got conflicting advice.
Attorneys like Leonard Garnet told him turn those tapes over. His former treasury secretary, John Connelly, told him invite the press to the Rose Garden, put all the tapes in one stack, douse them with gasoline and light them on fire. The tapes, not the press.
Now Andrea Mackris faces the same dilemma that. Preserve her tapes, the pop culture equivalent of the Nixon collection, or succumb to the proviso in O'Reilly's reported settlement offer of up to $4 million. The tapes must be destroyed, and if copies turn up at any point in the future, O'Reilly gets his hush money back.
The TIME Life record company has a similar money-back guarantee.
But destroy the tapes? I've testified in many sexual harassment cases in my days at ESPN, and the process is still inevitably stacked against the accuser. So I understand that she has to do what she has to do.
And when FOX took me off the air in 2001, its executive paid me the rest of my salary, $800,000, on the undertaking that I would not say anything about what idiots they were until after the contract expired eight months later.
Now, I think I've done another $800,000 worth of damage to them since, because nowhere did it say when the contract expired, I couldn't start saying what idiots they were, and that proves that they are idiots, by the way. Hey, they're another $17 in damage right there.
So truly, I empathize with Ms. Mackris' position. But I am speaking now on behalf of history. I am pleading for the C.D. listeners as yet unborn. I am thinking of the boxed DVD sets and the orders from Amazon and the dance mix versions of O'Reilly talking about loofahs and falafels, counterpointed with his radio statement from last week.
O'REILLY: And I just made a decision that I'm just going to ride it out. Ride it out.
Ride it out. And I'm going to fight them.
Going to fight them.
OLBERMANN: Fight them. For four days. Yes, like the Yankees fought the Red Sox.
But as I said, I am not asking Andrea Mackris to do this alone. The news corp's own "New York Post" reports she is exactly $99,000 in debt due to credit card bills and student loans, and the claim is she's selling the tapes and her case to Bill O'Reilly to avoid financial calamity.
Well, if she's going to get $4 million out of this, I can't match that. But if she really wants to fight this case and only needs seed money to keep the legal challenge going, I am willing to stand up and help her. And to help history, I'll pay off her $99,000 in debt.
All I ask is a copy of the tapes and her agreement not to make any deal that requires their destruction. She can settle with O'Reilly. She can sue him with the tapes remaining in the public domain from now until the year 2027. She can date the guy. Just save the tapes. That's all I ask.
There are other options, too. EBay. Take the top O'Reilly offer, $4 million whatever, make it the minimum bid. Literally. Let the market determine the price of the falafel factor.
There's the stock market, too. Mackris could create an IPO for a private company and go public when the offering exceeds $4 million. Then she takes the company public, lets the stock holders decide what to do with the tapes.
It's that entrepreneurial spirit Bill O'Reilly is always applauding.
There's also always K-Tel Records. Certainly, K-Tel Records could sell 400,000 copies of this at $19.95 apiece.
And there's still me. I got a check for $99,000 here and a plea from the future.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Save the tapes. Save the tapes. Save the tapes.
Save the tapes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Save the tapes. Save the tapes. Save the tapes.
Save the tapes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Save the tapes. Save the tapes. Save the tapes.
Save the tapes.
OLBERMANN: People have asked me, "Are you serious? Why would you spend this money?"
And I say you're damned right I'm serious. Would I have gotten this giant prop check made if I was not serious?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: This brutal ordeal is now officially over, and I will never speak of it again.
OLBERMANN: Don't you tell me it's over. I'll tell you if it's over.
Peace over war. A sad, sad moment for our nation. It's your entertainment dollars in action. Day 16 of the Bill O'Reilly investigations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Still get misty when I think about that story. Hey, I said misty.
An odd year for those of us on cable every night at 8 p.m. Eastern time. There was Paula Zahn and people demanding CNN fire her just because she happened to be married to the guy who destroyed that New York high rise nest of the couple of rare giant red hawk birds.
Then there was me, "Playgirl" magazine's sexiest news anchor. And I won that online beauty pageant fair and square. I had a little help from my staff of Karl Rove wannabes, that's true.
OLBERMANN: Hello, I'm Keith Olbermann, and I sure as hell didn't approve this message.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This year America finds itself at a cross roads.
A decision must be made, and every vote could mean the difference.
We're not talking about some meaningless presidential election. It's "Playgirl" magazine's hunkiest anchor contest and Keith Olbermann need your help.
Without you votes, "Playgirl" magazine may, by default, name this guy or even this guy the sexiest anchorman. But you know who is sexy and counts down from five every night? This guy.
"Keith Olbermann is the thinking person's thinking person."
"A Clark Kent with attitude."
"Sean Hannity has a face only Ed Gillespie could love."
America has a choice. Choose sexy, choose Olbermann. Keith Olbermann, his middle name is sexy. Won't you please vote now? Go to Countdown.MSNBC.com.
Keith's middle name is not really sexy. Hannity's middle name is Francis, and that's not sexy, either.
Paid for by the Committee to Beat Andy Rooney.
OLBERMANN: So guess what happened? I won. Woo-who. I am "Playgirl's" sexiest news caster. It's true; it's true. It's in their October issue. The staff is having a great deal of fun about this.
Somebody had said something about sexiest and intelligent. I don't know where the intelligent part was.
MICHELE ZIPP, "PLAYGIRL" MAGAZINE: First of all, I say congratulations.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, thank you.
ZIPP: Your voters were incredible. And it not only comes with not only having the prestigious title of hottest anchorman. We're also giving you a check to the charity of your choice.
OLBERMANN: How nice.
ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR, CNN's "ANDERSON COOPER 360": All right. So "Playgirl" magazine conducted a poll to determine who readers think is TV's sexiest newscaster. I came in third, and I can live with that, especially considering the fact that I didn't do any electioneering at all. None whatsoever, whereas the guy who came in first campaigned like crazy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this the face of America's sexiest news man? Of course not. But if those fat cats at FOX have their way, he might usurp the title of "Playgirl" magazine's hunkiest anchorman.
And what about this Anderson Cooper? Who says he's sexy? Just look at that face, that hair, those cool, steely eyes. You know, he really is dreamy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, stick to the script.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, sorry.
Sean Hannity, not sexy. Anderson Cooper, not sexy. Keith Olbermann, now, that's sexy. Vote for Keith Olbermann at Countdown.MSNBC.com.
COOPER: I was away at the time. See, I was working, going on patrol with soldiers and facing danger in Baghdad instead of groveling day and night for sexiest news guy votes. Nonetheless, as I say, I placed third without any campaigning at all.
OLBERMANN: Hoop, hoop, hoop. If it means that much to you, take it, baby, it's yours.
OLBERMANN: From newsroom stud to the studs of Pamplona. Sometimes you catch the bull, sometimes the bull, he catches you. I think Hemingway said that. Do you suppose the bulls will ever catch on as to how this all ends?
And chases of the four wheel variety, from crashes to spinouts to knockouts. Countdown takes the art of car chase coverage to new journalistic heights.
OLBERMANN: One of our most favorite, favorite things of the year, up next. The chase. Cops speeding after thieves or bulls chasing after humans. Didn't matter which. If there was a camera, we, too, were there.
OLBERMANN: Regular viewers of Countdown are no doubt aware that one of our favorite things is the car chase. To be more precise, it is that bizarre spectacle that the televised car chase has become on local TV stations around the country.
This June we passed a milestone in car chase history, the 10-year anniversary of the granddaddy of them all, the O.J. Simpson chase. It is the one by which all the others are judged and the moment that inspired a decade of over the top, gratuitous, sensationalized coverage, especially by us.
OLBERMANN: When O.J. Simpson was just another ex-jock athlete with an undeservedly good reputation, it was already a staple of everyday life in L.A.
A driver tries to elude the police and choppers two, four, five, seven, nine, 11, 13 and Univiion swarm overhead to carry it live, live, live.
By March of 1994, three months before Simpson, it was already such a cliche that it had inspired a Charlie Sheen movie called "The Chase."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, terror on the freeway.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you've just joined us, tonight there's terror on the freeway.
OLBERMANN: But that was car chasing when car-chasing wasn't cool.
Ten years ago came the moon landing of the genre.
TOM BROKAW, FORMER ANCHOR, NBC NEWS: The white Bronco that you see on the freeway going right on your screen contains O.J. Simpson, a fugitive at large.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is A.C. I have O.J. in the car.
OLBERMANN: O.J. and A.C., the white Ford Bronco and the black and whites behind it. And America watching it instead of the basketball playoff games, the beginning of the decline of the NBA, the beginning of the decade of the car chase.
Soon you needed not the accusation that you had beheaded your wife. A broken taillight and a left foot on the gas pedal was enough for us to interrupt this program; let's go up to the chopper.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's going up on the sidewalk. There he goes.
OLBERMANN: Local stations anywhere broke in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's just not giving up.
OLBERMANN: Cable networks everywhere broke in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take this shot up on satellite right now. A car chase in Los Angeles.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw the driver of the black car put on his blinker.
OLBERMANN: It didn't matter what else was on. We once cut away from Clinton-Lewinsky to show car chase-inski.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This man had a total disregard for the safety of anybody else on the road.
OLBERMANN: America just loved to watch them run. They ran in cars. They ran in trucks. They ran in buses. They ran on motorcycles, or on that most jaw-dropping of days, in a 50-ton Army tank on the streets of San Diego.
Real-life action movies, playing out nearly every day not just live, but so incredibly inexpensive for television stations and networks to produce.
The coverage reached a saturation point. The FOX network dedicated a weekly prime time show to nothing but car chases.
Others treated it all more like a goofy sporting event.
Checking the "Oddball Scoreboard" for the year, we see cops 44, guys who think they can escape the cops, goose egg.
Never mind that scoreboard, because this guy's in a hurry.
Charlotte, North Carolina, the man fleeing a domestic disturbance, crashes into the intersection. He just walks away from his still-rolling vehicle. Just park that anywhere, pal. The other driver was injured, but not seriously.
Then the foot chase starts and our suspect turns on the sped. But there will be no blue ribbon for this fleet-footed fellow. Maybe he can join the track and field team in the big house.
As novelty waned, variety waxed. If it moved, if it was on the ground, if we had a camera, we were looking live.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, "Hardball": Well, it sure beats the O.J. Bronco ride, I'll tell you that.
OLBERMANN: So after 10 years, the car chase may be running on fumes. We've seen so many that even the cable networks rarely break format just for a chase.
Local stations facing, pressure from police officials, have chosen to scale back coverage, notably after some stations ended violently on live TV.
But you can't blame the decline in coverage on the lack of contestants. They're still out there. Every day somewhere a guy decides to run.
Maybe it's drunken recklessness. Maybe it's desperation. Maybe it's that naive dream that I can be the one, the one who ran from the law and got away.
Doesn't work for them, just as 10 years ago this summer it didn't work for him. Hell, he's still running.
OLBERMANN: We should note that other than that man driving that tank, no one was killed in any of those chases.
And no one was killed in any of these chases coming up at the running of the bulls in Pamplona, unless of course, you count the bulls, the unwilling participants of this spectacle in eight days in July.
And of they knew they'd be slaughtered in the bull ring at the end of that run each day, they might play this game a little differently.
It is for that reason that we cover this event the way we do, with our fingers crossed, rooting for the bulls, not the bipeds.
OLBERMANN (voice-over): In England, it's the cheese chase. In Finland, you carry your wife on your head. Here in the U.S., we shove tube steaks into our pie holes. Broken bones, chapped necks and gastrointestinal meltdowns ensue. But only those who choose to participate get hurt. There are no victims, just volunteers.
In Pamplona, it is otherwise. Each year for 400 years or more, fireworks go off, gates spring open, and the bovine assault on the biped wearing the neckerchief begins.
Hunting runners with the singular imperative of making them ride the high horn highway, these bulls will not be denied. Right here.
Turn No. 3 saw more pileups than Lower Wacker Drive (ph) in Chicago.
After four centuries, you'd think somebody would have done something about those plastic cobblestones.
You can understand why they pile it on the bipeds in a manner that might even be frowned upon in the National Hockey League.
And there they go.
The odd are stacked, yet the bull fights on, taking his fleeing vengeance where he can. At the bottle neck at the very entrance of the Plaza del Toro, for instance.
At end of the line, all bulls go to heaven and all runners party their tiny little heads off. But for eight days in July, these bulls have at least a shot at skewering the citizens of Pamplona.
For some it doesn't quite work out. For others, they glory in their one moment in time.
Just cue the song.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Just give us one moment of time. I will be, I will be, I will be free, I will be - I will be free.
OLBERMANN: Countdown gives thanks to our favorite entities, the news gods. They bring us the inexplicably loveable, like William Hung.
WILLIAM HUNG, REJECTED "AMERICAN IDOL" CONTESTANT: I wouldn't say that.
OLBERMANN: And daredevils always finding new ways to dazzle us. The wackiest moments of 2004 straight ahead.
OLBERMANN: Finally tonight, all of the rest of the stuff we couldn't jam into this show elsewhere.
Where would Countdown be without the nightly parade of weird news, dumb criminals, strange animals and all order of bizarre video? I shudder to even contemplate it.
So tonight in this holiday season we give thanks to the wonderful bounty of odd news of 2004, and I'll do it in rhyme just this once, then, nevermore.
KERRY: I don't know when the countdown started, but I've been watching.
OLBERMANN: (clears throat)
WILL FERRELL, COMEDIAN: (clears throat)
OLBERMANN: (clears throat)
FERRELL: (clears throat)
DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: Hurricane Ivan, you're fired. Is that OK?
BUSH: The death tax will eventually come back to life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harry, can you tell us how old you are today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm 82 years old.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eighty-two years young might be a better way to put it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Up your (expletive deleted).
OLBERMANN (voice-over): Particularly were we blessed in this election year. The well never ran dry as the big day grew near.
On the one side the senator, flip-floppy, aloof, on the other the president, the cowboy, maybe goof.
DR. PHIL: Were you all spankers? Did you spank them?
L. BUSH: Not really.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Mr. Kerry. You took dorkitude to new heights.
Thank you, Mr. President, for those first-rate sound bites.
BUSH: Need some wood?
OLBERMANN: And let us give thanks for the primary circus and the 10 little Democrats and each of their quirkus. Yes, I said quirkus.
Thanks, John-John. Thanks, Dennis. Thanks Joe, Bob and Carol, Mr. Gephardt, the good Reverend and the Democrat general. You all gave so much to the political machine but one man gave more still.
DEAN: All right. Which has more bacteria in it? Dog pee or water from the river?
OLBERMANN: Ladies and gentlemen, Howard Dean!DEAN: Yes!
OLBERMANN: We give thanks for our lifeblood. A steady diet of absurd. The strange news, celebrities, a Barbie leg on a bird, the oddballs, the goofballs, the weirdoes, the strange, the guy with a stomach full up with loose change.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my gosh.
OLBERMANN: Break dancing with the pope, a horse drinking beer and oh, yes, Ralph Nader. Is he in it this year?
RALPH NADER, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Neither George W. Bush nor John Kerry has an exit strategy.
OLBERMANN: To the masters of science and brand new technologies, strange animals of all kinds and freaks of biology. The toilet of the future.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It provides gentle, aerated warm-water cleansing.
OLBERMANN: A machine that kicks butts, monks in the state capitol kicking heaven knows what, pinkie the cat and the poor shmoe in flannel and the guy who sells swords on the Home Shopping Channel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the nice thing about these practice kitanas -
Oh, oh, that hurt.
OLBERMANN: Thanks, Michael and Courtney and Britney and Martha and all our dumb criminals just who ain't that smartha.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm a drug dealer not a bank robber. I'm the one with the drugs. I'm the (expletive deleted) drug dealer.
OLBERMANN: Thanks for that wonderful song that Robert Blake sung and the man, the myth, the legend that is William Hung.
HUNG: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: Thanks to our good friends at Fark and the folks at Smoking Gun, without whom there'd be no photos when Macaulay Culkin got bobbed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Save the tapes! Save the tapes!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Save the tapes! Save the tapes!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Save the tapes! Save the tapes!
OLBERMANN: Worse yet, we might have missed this year's creepiest story, of that guy over on FOX in all of his glory.
O'REILLY: Obviously, they have major problems over there.
OLBERMANN: One day, we may lose the awful image and subsequent waffles of Bill O'Reilly in the shower holding his falafel.
And to my wonderful staff who share in the successes and the blames...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just love him.
OLBERMANN:... I'd thank you each personally if I could only remember your names.
But in this holiday season, in this time of plenty we are thankful most for you, our viewers, all 20.
OLBERMANN: And that's Countdown's favorite things of 2004. Thank you for being part of it. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night, good luck and happy holidays.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END