Friday, June 10, 2005

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for June 10

Guest: Mike German

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

The best opportunity to stop 9/11, missed. An FBI agent wanted to tell his superiors about the two San Diego men who would later become hijackers. He was blocked by a CIA supervisor. Only one reports a grim postmortem of five chances lost.

Forty-five months to the day after 9/11, a funeral tomorrow in New York City, perhaps the last funeral for a fallen firefighter.

The Red Sox sold Babe Ruth for $100,000. An auction house just sold the bill of sale for that deal for a million.

And if he's the fastest-throwing baseball pitcher of all time, how come he wound up homeless, and how come you've heard of Steve Dalkowsky (ph)?

And the state of California versus Michael Joe Jackson. Also, the fans of Michael Joe Jackson versus the media.

All that and more, now on Countdown.

Good evening.

The line between analysis and scapegoating is a very fine one, and in our history, we have stepped over it and back again repeatedly. When the Russians came to dominate Eastern Europe, we were told that we needed the House Un-American Activities Committee. When the communists took over China, Joe McCarthy seemed necessary.

And in our fifth story on the Countdown tonight, in the 1,368 days since 9/11, we have struggled to keep the analysis from degenerating into the scapegoating.

And tonight, we have more with which to struggle, the report of the inspector general of the Justice Department finding that the FBI missed multiple chances to catch two of the 9/11 hijackers before the attack, at least once with the negative help of the CIA, the bureau letting Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaq al-Hazmi slip through its dragnet on at least five separate occasions, largely because of bureaucratic obstacles, communications failures, and a lack of urgency, the al Qaeda operatives settling in San Diego to plan for their role in the attacks in January 2000, when an FBI man assigned to the CIA Wanted to tell his superiors about those two, a CIA supervisor stopped them.

The report, made public after being held for more than a year, fortuitous timing for the Bush administration, which was able to today add this report to the list of reasons why the PATRIOT Act should be renewed, the claim, that the PATRIOT Act all but single-handededly solved the intelligence-sharing problems at the FBI, the president driving that point home this morning at the National Coounterterrorism Center outside Washington.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And then Congress pass the PATRIOT Act, and the two sides started sharing information. See, prior to the PATRIOT Act, parts of the same FBI office couldn't discuss a case with each other. Now, the PATRIOT Act worked. We got hardworking people in the field, and so we gave the people tools, just simple tools. They said, Here, this will enable to you better do your job. You can't ask people on the front line of the war on terror to protect the American people and then not give them the tools necessary to do so.


OLBERMANN: But no president need ever act alone. Hours earlier, Mr. Bush's new attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, could be seen making the rounds on morning television, saying pretty much the same thing.


ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: There were walls that existed before 9/11 that discouraged the sharing of information between the law enforcement and the intelligence community. Those walls have now been dismantled. A large reason for that has been because of the PATRIOT Act, which has made it clear that there can be sharing of information. And when you have sharing of information, you have - you're have the ability to connect the dots.


OLBERMANN: For a reality check on how much intelligence-gathering has really improved since the 9/11 attacks, a guest with first-hand experience preventing acts of terrorism on American soil, having successfully infiltrated white supremacist groups in L.A. that were engaging in a bombing campaign against racial minorities in the early '90s, and also gone undercover against right-wing militia groups after the Oklahoma City bombing, former FBI special agent Mike German, now a senior fellow with

Mr. German, good evening. Thanks for your time.


OLBERMANN: Is everything in the intelligence community as rosy as those comments from the president and the attorney general may have made it sound?

GERMAN: Well, I think they should read some of their own commission reports that are coming out. The Silverman-Roth (ph) Commission report came out last month, investigating intelligence failures prior to the Iraq war. And I have written what they found. And what they found is that the FBI has not constructed its intelligence program in a way that will promote integrated intelligence efforts, and that its ambitions have led it into unnecessary new turf battles with the CIA.

OLBERMANN: So today, we got the virtual tour of this new National Counterterrorism Center that one of the key recommendations of the 9/11 commission to emphasize that. But the commissioners are saying that lots of their recommendations still have not been addressed relative to information sharing, relative to the entire picture. Which of those 9/11 commission suggestions needs the most urgent attention?

GERMAN: Well, intelligence sharing is obviously one of the most important points, and the 9/11 Commission Discourse Project that's going on right now had a hearing on Monday in which they said there's still a failure to share intelligence within the intelligence agencies. And if you look at a lot of the PATRIOT Act and a lot of the legislation that's coming out, it enforces more secrecy in the government, rather than opening up avenues for people to discuss what's happening within the intelligence community.

OLBERMANN: Is the opaqueness of - or the cloudiness of all of these channels and all of these rules and in the PATRIOT Act itself, is that part of the problem now?

GERMAN: I think it's a great part of the problem, and I think it's preventing Congress from performing its constitutional function of having oversight of the intelligence community.

OLBERMANN: About the inspector general's report, presumably that was not released now because the president needed a sales tool for the PATRIOT Act's renewal. But it had been held up because of Zacarias Moussaoui's attorneys. They'd argued that releasing it would compromise his sentencing, so they simply pulled out 115 pages that were about Moussaoui.

So this was not intended as a sales tool. But does it turn out to have been one for the president regarding the PATRIOT Act?

GERMAN: Well, I hope not, because if you look at the real problems that were found, the problems don't really have a lot to do with the PATRIOT Act. If you look at the 9/11 commission report, when they talk about the intelligence wall, what they talk about is how it was misapplied, and that if the midlevel managers that were involved in those investigations had applied the rules correctly, even as they existed at the time, the agents on the street, who were doing a great job and had actually found the intelligence that might have prevented 9/11, could have done their job.

OLBERMANN: My original point regarding this one and the other postmortems, are we still in the useful-analysis stage regarding 9/11, or are we in danger of slipping, as we often have in our history, toward scapegoating?

GERMAN: Well, certainly, I think, it's more important to look at what's happening now. And that's why it's important to look at the Silverman-Roth Commission report, and also the 9/11 Discourse Project. And, you know, the 9/11 commission put a lot on Congress's plate and said, you know, We're going to make some small changes in what the intelligence community is made up of. But we're going to want you to oversee it and make sure it happens.

And unfortunately, Congress has not stepped up to the plate and really started doing oversight of the intelligence community.

OLBERMANN: The former FBI agent Mike German, now of Many thanks for your time.

GERMAN: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Tomorrow marks three years and exactly nine months since 9/11. Three years and nine months, and there is still another New York City firefighter to bury.

Though the official effort to identify remains was suspended by the city on February 23 with the last 9,720 bone and tissue fragments having exceeded the capability of current DNA technology, there is one last match. Keith Roy Maynard, a 30-year-old immigrant from Montserrat, who, the morning of the attacks, got up early so he could go vote in New York City's mayoralty primary, and who then reported to his Fire Engine Company number 33.

Having finally identified enough of him to bury, his family will do so tomorrow in the Morningside Heights section of northern Manhattan.

Is that the end? Ask the families of the more than 1,100 victims at the World Trade Center for whom no remains were found or identified, and ask the medical examiner's office of the City of New York, for whom every victim, identified or still waiting that future day when they will be, has been personal since the carnage and decimation of that awful September Tuesday.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, September 14, 2001)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Keith Olbermann has a live update from New York City.

OLBERMANN: Body parts found on the 14th floor of the World Financial Center. With the efficiency and dispatch of a bank teller, a (INAUDIBLE) dispatcher repeats the grim news, body parts found on the 14th floor of the World Financial Center.


OLBERMANN (voice-over): That was the Friday, September 14. And by then, the grisliness of those discoveries had been superseded by the hope of closure, of identification by DNA.

DR. ROBERT SHALER, NEW YORK CITY MEDICAL EXAMINER: I spent my entire career looking at dead bodies and looking at the destruction that one human can do to another. But there's - I've never seen anything like this.

OLBERMANN: For more than three years, Dr. Robert Shaler (ph) has led the New York Medical Examiner's Office in its forensic examination of 9/11. From a small, cramped lab, Dr. Shaler and his colleagues respectfully but meticulously studied nearly 20,000 human remains. They have sometimes had no more to work with than a single tooth. Yet they identified well over half of all victims.

SHALER: I would love to be able to identify everybody. But I don't think that's possible.

OLBERMANN: As of September 11, 2003, only 40 percent had been identified. Today, the number is 58 percent. But for the still-unidentified, the science is not there. Not yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael Paul Ragusa (ph)...

OLBERMANN: The family of New York City firefighter Michael Ragusa was lucky. His remains were not identified, but in November 2002, his parents were reminded that he had given blood. There would be something of Michael Ragusa to bury.

And what of the others who have nothing or little to inter?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kenneth Albert Zellman (ph)...

OLBERMANN: Barry Zellman's brother, Ken, was on the 99th floor of the North Tower that morning.

Part of Ken Zellman's right leg was identified. That was all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We made the decision that, enough, it's been two years, and now it's time to bury what we have.

OLBERMANN: His family had held out, hoping for more, just as the medical examiner's office had held out, hoping for more.

The families and the scientists have become interconnected in a way no one could have imagined. By some perverse fate, this building, better known as the city morgue, has become a sacred place for many of the loved ones.

SHALER: About every three weeks, we still have a meeting at the medical examiner's office with families.

There are great people down in the medical examiner's office, and they want to do right for the families.

They're as concerned about our emotions and our well-being as we are for theirs. And so it's become a very close working relationship, almost a family type of relationship.

OLBERMANN: Thus the close working relationship evolved into something new. For years, the examiner's office had predicted 1,100 or more would not be identified. The final number is 1161.

But preparations have been made for them. The unidentified remains will be interred, carefully preserved and housed, in hopes someday they will be identified.

SHALER: I'm hopeful that sometime in the future, there will be technology that can address those samples so that these remains can be returned to the families, or maybe even make new identifications from them.

OLBERMANN: In the interim, they will be kept here, below the memorial that will rise soon enough to all of the dead of the World Trade Center. Their resting places will have no names or gravestones. But we will remember nonetheless that they are here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my father, William Ralph Rob (ph). I love you, Daddy.


OLBERMANN: Also tonight, any of this look familiar? An ominous start to the 2005 hurricane season, the very first tropical storm of the year heading straight for Florida and Alabama.

And speaking of trouble brewing, tempers starting to fray in the Santa Maria circus. Still no verdict, but Michael Jackson's fans have reached one about the media, and it's not a positive one.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.

OLBERMANN: This time tomorrow, tropical storm Arlene could be a hurricane, and it could gain that infamous status somewhere over Alabama.

Our fourth story on the Countdown, this is where we all came in. After the hurricane swarm last summer, the first storm out of the box this spring, and it looks all too familiar to the folks in the Gulf.

Among them, at Gulf Shores, Alabama, our correspondent Janet Shamlian.

Janet, good evening.

JANET SHAMLIAN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And good evening to you, Keith.

That storm is bearing down on the Gulf Coast at this hour. It is expected to make landfall sometime tomorrow afternoon. And as you said, it could reach hurricane strength by then.


SHAMLIAN (voice-over): Here we go again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They really don't need this.

SHAMLIAN: A Gulf Coast tired and torn by last year's hurricane season. Four big storms, Ivan slamming the shore here last September, claiming 52 lives, doing $12 million damage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not another one. Ivan was enough.

SHAMLIAN: The new threat, Arlene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to be leaving tomorrow morning.

SHAMLIAN: The storm's outer bands have already claimed a life in south Florida. A woman drowned in the rip tide off Miami Beach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) cloud that is (INAUDIBLE) up periodically on the ground. It's very persistent.

SHAMLIAN: That weather of a different type in Texas. A series of tornadoes near Lubbock takes out several homes and buildings and knocks out power to the area, leaving thousands in the dark. No injuries reported.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got a large (INAUDIBLE) cloud.


SHAMLIAN: In Kansas, a tornado rips the roof off a high school and tosses this big rig on its side. And in Oklahoma, huge hail and flash flooding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our whole yard was covered with these. They were coming down pretty hard.


SHAMLIAN: Back here tonight, storm watches and warnings from Florida all the way west to New Orleans. But, Keith, no orders to evacuate.

OLBERMANN: A small blessing, but a big one for the people in the community.

Janet Shamlian reporting from Gulf Shores, Alabama, awaiting the start and the approach of tropical storm Arlene. Thanks, and hold onto your hat.

Not far from there, not tropical storm damage, he just had a lousy boat. The captain of "Titanic" survived, and so did this guy.

And in retrospect, perhaps he should have simply called a cab. Turns out the genius behind this thing will get to stay in this country, and he'll get to make Countdown's top five this week.

Stand by.


OLBERMANN: We're back. And for the final time this week, we pause our Countdown of the silliness we're calling real news to bring you the silliness we call weird news.

Let's play ball Oddball.

We begin in Volusia County, where, you know what they say, the only thing better than having a boat is having a friend with a boat. Especially if your boat is sinking.

Nobody was injured when this pontoon boat started to sink in the Atlantic. Three of the four people on board hurriedly jumped off and swam to shore. But the captain, he stayed with his ship, valiantly riding the doomed craft as a tugboat tried to pull to it port before it was too late.

Well, sorry, pal, it already is too late. Unlike the situation with the "Titanic," the captain survived, but he was said to have remarked later, Glug-glug-glug.

To Aichi (ph), Japan. First they had dancing robots there. Now it's chickenwear. Austrian designer Edgar Honnetslager (ph) showed off his latest outfits at this fashion show. His company has a Web site, but I can't seem to remember its name for some reason.

He has a lot of time on his hands, doesn't he? There's knitted suits and faux fur for your fowl. They each sell for about $65 apiece at a store near here. Just go into the store and ask for the henswear department.

And finally, to Canada, where the CBC brings us the touching story of a baby caribou who has befriended a baby musk ox. Yeesh. The two have been living together in - Wait a minute. What the hell is a musk ox? Those things from the Himalayas? His name is Chance, Boo is the caribou. And researchers say they are too young to realize that at least one of them should be trying to kill the other.

Later, when they're older, zookeepers will make them fight each other for gambling purposes. But in the meantime, we could all learn a thing or two from Chance and Boo.

What should we learn from them? I have no idea.

You will have no firm idea about fate after we tell you the story of Steve Dalkowsky, the fastest-throwing baseball pitcher of all time. And instead of ending up in the Hall of Fame, he ended up living on the streets.

And the White House sharing some of its own secrets. We already know, thanks to Dr. Phil, that the president and Mrs. Bush rarely spanked their kids. But do they rarely kiss their dogs?

These stories ahead.

First, here are Countdown's top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, Gary Hodgson, retired forest ranger. He was teaching fifth-graders in Lake Placid, New York, how the pioneers built fires without matches. That's when his supply of gunpowder went off. The school was evacuated. Only Mr. Hodgson was injured. And as they fled, one of the schoolchildren allegedly asked him, Gee, Mr. Ranger, why did you blow up the school?

Number two, two kittens in Kobe, Japan. Investigators have concluded that the fire that extensively damaged a house in that city in January was caused when the two cats urinated on their owner's fax machine, soaking the electrical printer therein and causing to it catch fire. According to the report, the kittens quickly ran to safety. There will not be an arson investigation.

And number one, speaking of this topic, an unnamed cow in Lagos, Nigeria. It killed a man there, knocked him over, then, as he fell, it gored him with its hooves and horns. This was along a major street in Lagos. And when attacked by the cow, the dead man was urinating on the side of the road. The cow evidently just likes a really clean city.


OLBERMANN: When the fastest-throwing pitcher in baseball history celebrated his 66th birthday a week ago today, why did he celebrate it in a nursing home in New Britain, Connecticut? And why have you never heard of him until tonight?

Our number three story on the Countdown, baseball, not runs, hits, and errors, necessarily, but curses, contracts, and pitching terrors.


OLBERMANN: When the fastest-throwing pitcher in history celebrated his 66th birthday a week ago today, why did he celebrate it in a nursing home in New Britain, Connecticut? And why have you never heard of him until tonight? Our number three story on the Countdown: baseball - not runs, hits and errors necessarily, but curses, contracts and pitching terrors.

The curse first. Today, for first time since 1918, the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs played a ballgame that counted. They used to be baseball's twin versions of the Flying Dutchman, two teams that between them had not won a World Series in 180 years. Then the Red Sox had to go and win last year. Needless to say, as Kevin Tibbles reports from Chicago, Cubs fans thus are not happy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Cubs lost yet another series.

KEVIN TIBBLES, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 97 years, it hasn't quite worked out for the Chicago Cubs: grounders through the legs, remember the fan and the foul ball? They blew that ball up. Even black cats in 1969 and another this week. It was all just a little more bearable knowing the Boston Red Sox had an even darker past - until last year. The Cubs were left all alone as lovable losers. Today was the first time the two teams have met since Boston, with Babe Ruth, beat the Cubs in the 1918 World Series. Lore has it the Bambino eventually cursed the Red Sox.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely is a curse on the Red Sox. There was and is definitely a curse on the Cubs.

TIBBLES: In Chicago, well, the hex was supplied by a goat. In the 1945 World Series, tavern owner William "Billy Goat" Cyanis (ph) was ejected from Wrigley Field with his pet goat because it smelled. Cyanis he cursed the club.

JOHN MCDONOUGH, MARKETING V.P., CHICAGO CUBS: Well, the billy goat's been out here. We walked him around the park. We brought him back in. We put a uniform on him. We've done everything we could, other than having him play during a game.

TIBBLES: Today, at the Billy Goat Tavern, nephew Sam Cyanis hopes his late uncle will soon contact him with the cure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe my uncle comes to dream last night - I mean, tonight - and said, Hey, you do this and this for the Cubs to win. Who knows?

TIBBLES: Supernatural assistance? Not a bad idea, says fortune teller Mrs. Lind (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep confessing (ph) positive, they will win.

They will win. They're not cursed. They will win.

TIBBLES: Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Chicago.


OLBERMANN: Trust me, the goat has played during the Cubs games many times. Cubs beat the Red Sox today, 14 to 6, Pitcher Greg Maddox (ph) hitting a home run, a reminder that the great slugger Babe Ruth pitched and won two of those Red Sox 1918 World Series games against the Cubs. And 15 months later, he was sold to the New York Yankees. That sale, according to revisionist history, unleashed "the Curse of the Bambino" on the Red Sox.

It's gibberish, and of course, now it's irrelevant since they won the World Series. But the actual contract drawn up between the Yankees and the Red Six, the bill of sale, was auctioned off this afternoon. Twelve years ago, a die-hard Red Sox fan bought it for $99,000. Today, your cost, $996,000. It was bought by dealer Pete Siegel (ph), a die-hard Yankees fan.

Ruth was a great pitcher, though he did not throw the ball especially fast. And in the mythology of baseball, fast is what counts. I didn't see the pitch, a batter was supposed to have said after facing fastball pitcher Walter Johnson, but it sounded high. Johnson, who broke in 1907, could supposedly throw nearly 100 miles per hour. Thirty years ago, Nolan Ryan was measured during a game throwing 1001. In 1946, Bob Feller (ph) was timed at 99, but he claimed that in other tests, he'd thrown as fast as 108. And today, pitchers like Armando Benitez (ph) and Randy Johnson have been clocked by radar guns throwing 102.

And compared to a man named Steve Dalkowski, all of them threw like girls. Virtually everyone who saw Steve Dalkowski pitch in high school or in baseball's minor leagues agree, he was the fastest they'd ever seen, by a long shot. They estimate that Dalkowski regularly threw 110 miles an hour, sometimes more. But he rarely could make it go where he wanted it to. One season, he struck out 262 batters and walked 262 batters. Yet, finally, after years of struggle, he had figured out not how to just throw but how to pitch. And at virtually that exact moment, he suffered a career-ending injury and wound up homeless.

The story of Steve Dalkowski is almost truly unbelievable. It's reported for us now by Kevin Nathan of our NBC station in Hartford, WVIT.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The original wild thing, they called him, Steve Dalkowski, probably the hardest thrower ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He pitched a no-hitter and lost. And that's how wild he was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve was like a jet. And you'd hear it after it went by you.

STEVE DALKOWSKI, NEW BRITAIN H.S. CLASS OF '57: It just - before it hit the mitt, it'd just sort of go zzzz.

BART FISHER, FORMER "NEW BRITAIN HERALD" EDITOR: With Dalkowski, you heard a sound before, and it's been described as a sound like - like a shirt ripping. It moved the air.

LEN PARE, DALKOWSKI'S H.S. CATCHER: It would crack, like that. And then you could hear on the - those kids on the other side go, Oh, my God!

KEVIN NATHAN, WVIT (voice-over): Steve Dalkowski first started making noise in the mid-1950s at New Britain High School. Nicknamed "White Lightning," Dalkowski struck out a state record 24 batters in a nine-inning game. And his wildness struck fear into all.

FISHER: You know, we thought he throws pretty fast. And I walked around to see what the pitch looked like behind the backstop, and he threw it through the backstop. And I said, Maybe it would be in my best interests to go with the bleachers.

(on camera): So kids didn't even swing?

PARE: Very rarely. Very rarely. They were happy to get in and out of there.


NATHAN (voice-over): Dalkowski threw even harder as a pro. They were no radar guns back then, but some think he pitched around 110 miles an hour. Cal Ripken, Sr., who caught Dalkowski in the minors, thought he was even faster.

TOM MONAHAN, PLAYED AGAINST DALKOWSKI: And he said there's absolutely no question Steve could throw 120 miles an hour. Totally unheard of today.

NATHAN (on camera): How fast?

DALKOWSKI: 110. One guy said 112.

NATHAN (voice-over): The problem for the Orioles organization, controlling all that speed.

FISHER: They tried everything. They tried every gimmick in the world. They tried putting a batter on each side of the batter's box. They tried having him pitch to a target, a wooden target. Well, the only thing that happened was he splintered it.

NATHAN: If it sounds like a movie script, you're right. Dalkowski's erratic pitching inspired Tim Robbins's character, Nuke LaLouche (ph), in "Bull Durham."


KEVIN COSTNER, "BULL DURHAM": I wouldn't dig in there, if I was you. Next one might be at your head. I don't know where it's going to go, swear to God.


NATHAN: Not even Hollywood could make up these stories. Dalkowski once hit a person standing on line buying a hot dog.

DALKOWSKI: It happened. That's all I can tell you.

NATHAN: Dalkowski was so fast and so wild that even Red Sox Hall of Famer Ted Williams wanted no part of him.

MONAHAN: Ted said, Uh-uh. He got in there and maybe got in there and took one or two pitches and spun out of there because he said, I can't - you know, this guy is just bringing it so hard.

DALKOWSKI: He didn't want to bat, no, he didn't. He said (INAUDIBLE)

I hope he doesn't (INAUDIBLE)

NATHAN: Williams would get his wish. It was spring training, 1963. After six years in the minors, Dalkowski had finally harnessed his talent and control. He made the Orioles roster. But on the day he was fitted with a Baltimore jersey, he hurt his elbow and never made it to the majors.

FISHER: Went to throw to first base, felt a pop. It was over.

DALKOWSKI: (INAUDIBLE) Why me? That's all. And I broke down in the dugout.

NATHAN: Dalkowski made a comeback, but two years later, his career was over.

DALKOWSKI: I'm pleased with what I did in the minors. Not off the field but on the field.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The end of the night was when he said the end of the night was.

NATHAN (on camera): No longer able to throw it as hard as he once did on this field growing up, Dalkowski still lived hard. The pitcher who struggled with his control had lost control of his life. For the next 30 years, he made his living picking fruit in California, spending what little money he earned supporting his addiction to alcohol.

PAT CAIN, DALKOWSKI SISTER: Those years for Steve, they were lost years.

NATHAN: Eventually, Dalkowski became lost - literally. He lost contact with his family, even his second wife, and ended up homeless. For six months, he lived on the streets of LA. Finally, on Christmas Eve, 1992, a family rescued him, people that his sister, Pat, calls the angels that saved her brother's life.

CAIN: They didn't even know Steve. They just saw this poor soul sitting there on Christmas Eve and brought him home.

NATHAN (voice-over): Soon after, his second wife passed away. Almost dead himself from internal bleeding, his sister, Pat, brought him back to Connecticut.

CAIN: He was back in New Britain, but he wasn't back. His mind wasn't here. Nothing was here.

NATHAN: Dalkowski suffers from alcohol dementia, a condition brought on by years of excessive drinking. It's caused gaps in his memory. But with the treatment and therapy he's received over the last 11 years at the Walnut Hill Care Center in New Britain, he slowly improved his memory, his speech and his health.

CAIN: I just keep saying I'm very lucky because I have him back.

NATHAN: Still, as Dalkowski recently threw out the first pitch at a New Britain Rockets (ph) game, it's hard not to imagine what might have been if only his grip on life has been as strong as has grip on a baseball.

DALKOWSKI: I wish it was different. But still, life goes on, you know?

CAIN: It's a good ending. And hopefully, we've got many more years to go, more happy times.

NATHAN (on camera): Who is the fastest pitcher of all time?

DALKOWSKI: Me. By no doubt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that says it all. He was the fastest pitcher who ever lived, period.

NATHAN (voice-over): For Countdown, I'm Kevin Nathan.


OLBERMANN: By the way, the connection between life of Steve Dalkowski and that fictional character, Nuke LaLouche, from the movie "Bull Durham," is not a coincidence. That movie was written and directed by Ron Shelton, who was a minor league baseball player in the Baltimore farm system who never made the big leagues. Just like Dalkowski.

From the unbelievable to the unbelievable. The Jackson jury is still going, and so are his fans. And increasingly, they're going after the media. And after seven weeks of embarrassing DPAs - displays of public affection - her fans are finally taking action: "Free Katie" T-shirts.

Those stories ahead, but now first here are Countdown's top three sound bites of the day.


QUESTION: Rick Meacham (ph), ESPN - AP...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want to us come back to you, man?

QUESTION: Yes, let's come back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Minnesota quarter has an outline of the state, a lake, a boat, a sky, a loon and a slogan. Or, in the words of Colorado's governor:

GOV. BILL OWENS (R), COLORADO: What the hell is going on with this quarter? You know, that is one ugly quarter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pawlenty says he's had enough razzing of the Minnesota quarter and thinks he's spotted something in Colorado's design.

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY (R), MINNESOTA: But we are undertaking an investigation because I think there's some subliminal messaging in these mountain peaks depicting Governor Owens of Colorado in the buff.

DAVE LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH DAVE LETTERMAN": They put together this special announcement from the Supreme Court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because six narcs voted against smoking dooby, that doesn't mean all the Justices are trying to Bogart your weed. Remember, three Justices are in favor of letting you suck those big old bowls. So if you're jonesing for a jive stick, swing by Sandy O'Connor's chamber tomorrow at 9:00 AM for a little (INAUDIBLE)


OLBERMANN: A full day's deliberations in the Jackson trial, which still means jurors have only thought about it for a net total of 28 hours and 30 minutes. No verdict, as you obviously guessed. Our number two story on the Countdown, your tax and entertainment dollars in action, day 571 of the Michael Jackson investigations. Jury went home for the weekend at 2:23 Santa Maria time. Here's hoping none of them fell for an e-mail claiming to have details about a Jackson suicide attempt. It was, in fact, a cover for a computer virus. No suicide attempt reported.

And this might be a cover for something. The prosecution supposedly so confident of the outcome that several reporters say the state's attorneys went out for a celebratory dinner and drinks Wednesday night, DA Tom Sneddon so jubilant, it is reported, that he embraced crime reporter Aphrodite Jones. And we'd heard Tom Sneddon was a cold man.

Jesse Jackson argued earlier this week that a particular report on this network was, quote, "psychological warfare" against Michael Jackson, this even though the jury is sworn to avoid news coverage of the trial, and logic would suggest it would be the last thing on earth they'd want to watch.

But logic or no logic, there are some people who believe that the verdict will be influenced, maybe even decided, by the media. And as our correspondent, Jennifer London, reports from Santa Maria, a lot of them seem to be standing outside that courthouse.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love to be a Michael Jackson fan! We love to be a Michael Jackson fan!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love to be a Michael Jackson fan! We love to be a Michael Jackson fan!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love to be a Michael Jackson fan! We love to be a Michael Jackson fan!

JENNIFER LONDON, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A chorus of collective voices cheering for Michael Jackson and railing against the press.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the press is trying to make this a freak show.

LONDON: As deliberations continue behind closed doors, the scene outside the courthouse is increasingly tense. Without the daily arrival of their pop idol, the Jackson fans have turned their eye on the media.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're giving all these opinions. They're crucifying the man!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is more of a circus atmosphere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go to hell! Go to hell!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go to hell! Go to hell!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go to hell! Go to hell!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have some problems with the Michael Jackson fans. They certainly want to get in, if they can, and sometimes they tend to harass the media. Our job is to keep them from harassing them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Court TV sucks! Court TV sucks!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Court TV sucks! Court TV sucks!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Court TV sucks! Court TV sucks!

LONDON: This was the scene just outside our live shot location earlier this week. A group of fans led by a courthouse regular name B.J. crowded around the security gates, screaming protests at Court TV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop the injustice! Stop the injustice!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop the injustice! Stop the injustice!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop the injustice! Stop the injustice!

LONDON: On Thursday, B.J. stormed away from the courthouse after being slapped with a restraining order to stay away from Court TV reporter Diane Dimond. B.J. didn't stay away too long. Today, he was back, holding court with the press.

B.J., MICHAEL JACKSON FAN: Yesterday, Ms. Dimond launch a complaint against me, stating that I have threatened her and intimidated her. These allegations are not true.

LONDON: And these fans were not at all pleased to see our cameras.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's that on there? You can't put that on TV.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) all the anger. There's an innocent man being tried up here.

LONDON: As the crowd swells, more and more police are arriving, and the sheriff's department is keeping a close eye on who's allowed to enter what's affectionately known as "the plaza."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May I see your credentials, please? OK, that looks good. Have a good day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael's innocent! Michael's innocent~!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael's innocent! Michael's innocent~!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael's innocent! Michael's innocent~!

LONDON: But the real challenge lies ahead, controlling the crowd and the media when the verdict is reached.

For Countdown, Jennifer London, NBC News, Santa Maria.


OLBERMANN: An easy segue tonight into our nightly round-up of

celebrity and entertainment news, "Keeping Tabs." Another set of fans

taking umbrage not at us but rather at Tom Cruise. A Web site is selling

T-shirt, caps, buttons and coffee mugs all with the message, "Free Katie" -

· Katie Holmes, the actress, Katie Holmes, who launched a thousand couch leaps. "Join in the movement to liberate Katie," the site says, "a young, gifted actress held captive by forces we may never understand. Even one summer of captivity is too long for one so bright."

Well, she might be bright, but then again, whatever this thing is with Cruise, she is going along with it.

And reporters are sometimes way too interested in themselves, but every once in a while, that interest is justified. Like yesterday, when a photo op involving Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid devolved into a shouting match, reporters shouting questions at Dean and Reid and then at each other.

As reported by "The Washington Post," "The Columbia Journalism Review" the Wonkette, Huffington and America blogs, one reporter out-yelled the others to repeatedly ask Dean, Do, quote, "you also hate white Christians?" "Washington Post" reporter Mark Leibovich said it was so pointed that he wondered if the screamer was a rogue Republican staffer. He asked him, "Who are you?" The answer was Brian Wilson of Fox News Channel, although that's not how Wilson answered. He said, "Who the blank are you?" And was later seen storming, quote, "down Senate halls, screaming obscenities."

We blanking report, you blanking decide, blanker-blankers!.

And from that topic, we switch to puppy dogs. The president and the first lady and baby talk and kisses for Barney the dog. That's next. This is Countdown.


OLBERMANN: One of our principles here, and there aren't that many, is that it doesn't have to be earth-shattering to be news. Our number one story in the Countdown, we're stretching that one to the limit tonight. As the former first lady Bess Truman once said, if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. Al Roker of the "Today" show has an exclusive interview tonight about their pets, the two people that took that advice, the current president and first lady.


AL ROKER, "TODAY" SHOW (voice-over): We know it is the White House, but it could very well be called the dog house. Some 200 pooches have lived at 1600 Pennsylvania avenue.


ROKER: It's advice President Bush takes to heart.

GEORGE BUSH: It's one of the few beings that you can talk to without somebody debating you on it.


ROKER: The president has two canine confidants in his administration, the first lady's 7-month-old puppy, Miss Beasley (ph), and his steadfast companion, 4-year-old Barney. I met the first dogs, who are both Scottish terriers, and the first cat, India, in the Oval Office.

(on camera): How is it having the cat with all these dogs?

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: The cat immediately put Beasley into her place...

ROKER: Really?

LAURA BUSH:... when she came, with a few slaps.

GEORGE BUSH: Hey, Barney, you know Al? This is Al.

ROKER: He's not very impressed.

(voice-over): Barney has reason to play it cool. After all, how many dogs can say they've rubbed paws with world leaders or been saluted by Marines?

(on camera): He's got the top security clearance, doesn't he.

GEORGE BUSH: He does. Barney's - plus, he knows a lot about policy.

ROKER: Really?


ROKER: He's a wonk.

GEORGE BUSH: He's a wonk!


GEORGE BUSH: Hey, Barney, you want to play golf?

ROKER (voice-over): Every day, the president tries to steal 15 minutes outside. And he loves to get in a little putting (INAUDIBLE) with Barney.

(on camera): Now, what's his handicap?

GEORGE BUSH: Four paws.


ROKER (voice-over): But being a world leader is no guarantee your dog will be in the mood to hit the links.

GEORGE BUSH: Come on, Barn. Barney! This dog spent a lot of time in obedience school, as you can tell.


GEORGE BUSH: And we're asking for a refund. Forget golf. Barney!

ROKER: Soccer didn't go over so well, either.

GEORGE BUSH: Notice how he immediately charges the ball.


ROKER: Yes, even at the White House, where the first dogs have free run of the most important red carpet in the nation, things aren't so different from other pet homes. In fact, if you're among the 78 percent of pet owners who confess to talking to your pet in a different voice, well, you've got company at this address.

(on camera): So do you guys ever talk baby talk to the pets?

LAURA BUSH: I do, to Beasley...

ROKER: Do you?

LAURA BUSH:... a lot.

GEORGE BUSH: I will never admit it.


ROKER: Does he talk baby talk?

LAURA BUSH: No, not really.



ROKER: Uh-oh!


GEORGE BUSH: Of course. Everybody talks baby talk to their pets.

ROKER: Sixty-three percent of people admit to kissing - kissing their dogs.

LAURA BUSH: We kiss ours.

ROKER: Yes? You're part of that group?

GEORGE BUSH: I wouldn't say on a regular basis, but (INAUDIBLE)



OLBERMANN: That's how far we've sunk in politics, a president hesitates to admit he's kissed the family dog because he knows somebody somewhere is going to rip him for it! It's a dog kiss! It isn't WMD or an intern! OK, I'll stop now.

As you may have gathered, this week has worn roughly on me. Yet it has been full of those bizarre moments that help savage the worst of them. Here are the best in our regular Friday night finale, Countdown's top five of the week.


(voice-over): Number five: Taxi! You ever get the chance to drive from Cuba to Miami, remember, there's no bridge. Thirteen migrants made the 90-mile trip this week in a modified 1948 Mercury cab. Hope the meter wasn't running. The guy behind the wheel tried this once before in a Buick truck. We blew that one up and sent him home. We blew this one up, too, but this time, he and three others who actually had visas got to stay.

Number four: Mind if we dance with your date? It's the big hit at the Aichi (ph) robot expo in Nagano, Japan, the robotic dance partner. He's 5-6, 220 pounds, moves like Ginger Rogers on a snow blower. Isn't that romantic? Later, these two won the twist contest at down at Jackrabbit Slim's (ph)

Number three: It's robo-roach! A University of California grad student studying robotics outfits a cockroach with a tiny camera to get a bug's-eye view of the world. Just look at that tiny little camera, smaller than the average air-conditioner. If only there was a machine to tell us what that cockroach is thinking. Oh, my back! Please! Somebody get this thing off me!

Number two: Bend it like bacon. The Russians have finally discovered a way to make soccer interesting, to make pigs play it! There's no scoring in the game, the pigs just kind of push the ball around for a while, just like in real soccer.

And number one: The latest craze in China for young folks trying to gain an edge in the dating scene, get taller through height enhancement surgery. It's a quick operation. You're only off your feet for six months. Of course, your feet are off you for awhile. Doctors break your legs, then keep them separated with metal clamps and hope the bone grows back to fill in the gap. It's just that easy! But is it all really worth it? Well, ask Yao Ming.


OLBERMANN: Brings a new meaning to the old sign-off of the great Jean Shepherd that I've been quoting lately: Keep your knees loose. That's Countdown, I'm Keith Olbermann. Having left you with those images there, for which we apologize, I can only say good night and good luck.