Wednesday, July 6, 2005

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for July 6

Guest: Carol Marin, John Dean, Peter BAker, Jamie Gangel

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

One reporter off to jail, one reporter off the hook. The CIA leak story reaches its culmination. But why isn't Robert Novak either of those reporters?

The ultimate reporter and the ultimate source. Bob Woodward's new book is out about Deep Throat, Mark Felt. He gives Tom Brokaw a tour of the garage.

And in an incredible irony of timing, today Deep Throat's boss, the man who became head of the FBI instead of Felt, L. Patrick Gray, has died. John Dean joins us.

Two pleadings from the president. To the Senate, Act dignified towards my Supreme Court choice. To a policeman at the G8 summit in Scotland, Get out of my way. Not the kind of meeting Mr. Bush expected. He's OK, the policeman is in a hospital, and the presidential bike is in grave condition.

All that and more, now on Countdown.

Good evening.

One prominent reporter is going to jail for refusing to reveal her anonymous source. Another one isn't, because at the last minute he was released by his source from his promise of secrecy. This happens on the same day that the reporter with the most famous anonymous source ever, Deep Throat, publishes his book about that source, on the same day of the death of the man who got the job that Deep Throat did not get, a snub that contributed to the source becoming the source in the first place.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, sources and the reporters who love them, and the events that motivate them. John Dean joins us on Bob Woodward's book and on the death of L. Patrick Gray presently.

First, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Judith Miller of "The New York Times" is in a D.C.-area jail tonight. But Matt Cooper of "TIME" magazine is not. Federal District Judge Thomas Hogan confining Miller, effective immediately, until she either agrees to testify before a grand jury, or that grand jury expires. That would be in October.

For now, Miller is being held in contempt. But the judge also raised the possibility that she may, in fact, be charged with obstruction of justice. Quote, "I have a person in front of me who is defying the law and may be obstructing justice. The court has to take efforts for her to comply. She has never been confined. We don't know if that would work."

"TIME" magazine's Cooper escaping Miller's fate at the 11th hour, Cooper telling the court he went to bed last night ready to go to jail today, in order to protect his source, hugging his son, telling him he might not see him for a long time. But not long before he was due in court, in what Cooper described as "somewhat dramatic fashion," the reporter receiving a direct personal communication from his source, giving him the go-ahead to testify.

Yet Cooper is not satisfied.


MATT COOPER, REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It is a sad time when two journalists who are simply doing their jobs and trying to keep confidences and report important stories face the prospect of going to prison for keeping those confidences. It's a very sad day. My heart goes out to Judy. I told her as she left the court to stay strong.


OLBERMANN: Timing is everything. All that Cooper and Miller faced began the day Ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote an opinion piece for "The New York Times" debunking the president's State of the Union claim that Iraq tried to buy nuclear weapons materiel in Africa.

Wilson's article was published on July 6, 2003, exactly two years ago. It was followed by Robert Novak's column outing Wilson's wife as a CIA covert operative. Later there was a story by Matthew Cooper. But in the most bitter of ironies, none by Judy Miller.

Miller, no story, gets jail time. Cooper, story, almost gets jail time. Novak, original story, no jail time.

It might sound odd to you. It certainly did to Carol Marin, political columnist at "The Chicago Sun Times" and an investigative reporter at our NBC station there, WMAQ.

Carol, good evening.


OLBERMANN: First of all, your overall reaction to today's events, the jailing of Judith Miller.

MARIN: In a perverse way, I think it's a good day for journalism, because I think it will finally wake us out of our slumber and timidity that I think has been inflicting us for a long time in this profession.

OLBERMANN: To Mr. Novak, whose primary newspaper employer is the same of yours, "The Sun Times" of Chicago, in one of your columns recently, you asked the question, Why did this storm fall on Miller and Cooper but not on Novak? So you called him. What did he have to say for himself?

MARIN: I called him, and to his credit, Bob took the call, and said that he would like to help me understand it, but there were things he couldn't say at this point, under the advice of his lawyer, and because there is a criminal investigation. He says in due time he will tell all, but the other thing he said, and couldn't fully explain, was that there is no connection between what has happened to him, what he has or hasn't said, and what's happening to these reporters. But he couldn't go into it further, he said.

OLBERMANN: One possible explanation that our next guest, John Dean, has brought to our attention previously would be that Novak might be a principal in this, been a target of this special prosecutor, something that Miller and Cooper were not, so he runs the risk of self-incrimination. But he could thus do what Miller and Cooper could not do, which would be to answer questions by saying, I'm invoking my right not to incriminate myself, I'm pleading the Fifth. Did you get any sense of that?

MARIN: He told me he is not a target of this. But again, he couldn't explain further. Look, Bob Novak, or anyone in this situation, has to make very personal decisions about what they're going to do and why they're going to do it. There are things he obviously knows that we don't know. So I don't fault him for what he's doing.

But the problem is that he's a journalist who asks people very tough questions, and these are tough questions, I think, that are crying out for answers.

OLBERMANN: Ultimately, few opinion polls these days rate reporters very highly anymore. You notably once gave up the anchor chair because you found your station's choice of a commentator inappropriate. Others of us have made lesser stands. Do you think the public will understand or respect why Judith Miller is doing this tonight?

MARIN: I think some in the public will, but I don't think that whether the public fully understands or even agrees with us is what should be influencing us. As somebody said to me, we're sort of the skunks at the lawn party right now. We've adopted almost our own self-loathing. We've made some big mistakes, but we've also had great achievements. Bob Woodward being on your show is one of them.

I think that we have to do what's right for us to do, and what Judy Miller is doing right now, I think, speaks well for our profession. And it's a very important day for her and for us because of what she's doing.

OLBERMANN: Carol Marin of "The Chicago Sun Times," and our NBC station in that city, WMAQ, great thanks for your time tonight.

MARIN: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Today's great story of government versus journalism colliding frontally with history's great story of government versus journalism. Not only was Bob Woodward's book about his source, Deep Throat, officially published today, but the Watergate figure who may have pushed the snowball down Mark Felt's hill, turning him into Deep Throat, died today.

The book first, 249 short pages, about 220 words per, called "The Secret Man," not bursting bombshells of information. The most noteworthy, perhaps, Carl Bernstein's revelation in the accompanying "Reporter's Assessment" that even when Mark Felt identified himself as Deep Threat in "Vanity Fair" magazine, he and Woodward were not sure they should confirm it. They were dragged into it by the management of "The Washington Post," particularly managing editor Len Downie.

Woodward was no longer certain he had the right to identify Felt even after Felt's death. "I recognize," Bernstein writes, "that this was an example of the boss, having already made a decision, taking the time to bring along the subordinate. He didn't want our acquiescence, he wanted our full agreement."

Woodward cited four separate reasons Felt was motivated to serve as his primary source. One of them was resentment that upon the death of his boss, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, not only didn't the job go to Felt, it went to an outsider, a Justice Department bureaucrat named L. Patrick Gray.

In this extraordinary coincidence of timing, today in Florida, L. Patrick Gray died. Hoover's first successor had resigned in the middle of his confirmation hearings when it became evident that he had cooperated with the White House coverup of Watergate, left, as memorably phrased by John Ehrlichman, "to twist slowly, slowly in the wind."

Pat Gray was 88-years-old and had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Not Watergate's first irony of timing, the former special prosecutor in the case, Archibald Cox, and Senate Watergate Committee counsel Sam Dash, both died on May 29, 2004.

The fourth person to be mentioned in Bob Woodward's new book, on page 2, is a man named Richard Milhouse Nixon. Right ahead of him, the third person to be mentioned in Woodward's book, is John W. Dean III, Nixon's White House counsel, since then, author and journalist, and shortly, I believe, to qualify as co-host of Countdown.

Good evening, John.


OLBERMANN: Before the book, the passing of L. Patrick Gray, was his role in Watergate just redefined when Mark Felt outed himself, that because Gray got J. Edgar Hoover's job and Felt didn't, that that contributed to Felt becoming Deep Throat and the dominoes go down from there?

DEAN: I don't think it necessarily totally redefined his role. It certainly was a terrible time for the Grim Reaper to come knocking. There's never a good time. But particularly since he'd remained silent for 30 years, and now has finally, because of Felt's betrayal, speaking out and addressing something only he can really address, that was the relationship really between he and Felt that might have provoked this breach.

I happen to think, Keith, that a lot of Felt's paranoia about Gray is really an overreaction, as I read the book.

OLBERMANN: You and I have both, in fact, speed-read Woodward's book. Did you find anything in it that adds truly to the Watergate database, or the Deep Throat database, or even the Why did Mark Felt do it database?

DEAN: There are countless nuggets. It's clearly a fascinating read. I must say that, you know, I think, present company excluded, Bob Woodward is a really great journalist. But he also notes that I've been unable to give up Watergate. What he doesn't know is another great journalist told me not to give it up, and that's Dan Schorr. He said, John, every generation really needs to have this story repeated.

So I'm glad Bob has, and I'm glad I have an opportunity to go out and tell you one of the things that I did find in this book, is, for example, the different view that say a lawyer versus a journalist has of what was going on. What Bob calls, and really supports as a coverup, in one context, he doesn't have any trouble with it, when, say, for example, he reports Mark Felt is in front of the grand jury, and a grand juror asked him, is he Deep Throat?

Well, the prosecutor stands up and says - stops the stenographer from recording it, and whispers to Felt, Do you really want that question asked? and Felt says no, so it's withdrawn.

Woodward applauds that. That's - the reason the prosecutor withdrew it is, it wasn't within his jurisdiction. Much of the Watergate investigation was outside the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice and the FBI, but Mark Felt was pushing it through "The Post."

OLBERMANN: Speaking of...

DEAN: That's what comes through the book.

OLBERMANN: But speaking of doing this sort of original work that does not seem to be too much in evidence in Woodward's book - it's basically a recount of what he knew and when he knew it - you have done some investigative reporting on your own here on the relationship, or at least the opinion that Richard Nixon had about Mark Felt, and what - how he planned to deal with Mark Felt when they suspected that Felt was, in fact, leaking to "The Washington Post."

And it's completely different than for Woodward's perception, is it not?

DEAN: Well, yes. For example, Bob Woodward cites a conversation on October 19 in the book, almost the full transcript. The transcript he's relying on is Stanley Cutler's. Cutler's work is excellent. I just happened to listen to that tape very closely, because one of the archivists tipped me, that he said, This different than Stanley has got it.

And I did, it took me actually five hours to decipher six minutes, by (INAUDIBLE) the speed, upping the volume, what have you. And I heard him very clearly not call Felt a bastard, which is what the transcript says, but rather to suggest that they offer him an ambassadorship, which is what they did with Helms. And that's a huge difference.

OLBERMANN: That's getting rid of a guy, sending him out of the country, rather than calling him a bastard. (INAUDIBLE)...

DEAN: Well, Nixon calls it a finesse, if you will.

OLBERMANN: A finesse.

DEAN: Let's finesse him, so he doesn't cause a problem. That's a real finesse.

OLBERMANN: Lastly, this will be a huge shock to you, I know, but apparently there was a lot of lying going on during Watergate. Woodward admits that in the '80s, when he was an editor with "The Post," he flat-out lied to one of his columnists to keep him writing a piece that suggested that Mark Felt was Deep Throat, or had to be Deep Throat. Woodward also suggests that Felt's own denial, "I never leaked to Woodward and Bernstein," might have been like Bill Clinton parsing. "I wondered if he was trying to be literally true, he had never leaked to Woodward and Bernstein. He had never met Carl. His dealings were only with me."

I don't mean to seem naive here, but we are seeing the seamy underbelly of the story, aren't we? I mean, that the...

DEAN: We are.

OLBERMANN:... the good guys also lied and also cut corners?

DEAN: We're in the sausage machine, you might look at it that way, and it's not as pretty as we'd like it to be. Woodward, for example, just flat-out has to spell to his friend and co-colleague at "The Post," Richard Cohen, when he's writing a piece that will identify Felt, that he's wrong, W-R-O-N-G. And he knows it's a lie. So it didn't work out as pretty as we might like it.

OLBERMANN: It never ends. John Dean, Nixon White House counsel, and, as we said, a virtual co-host here. Thanks again, sir, for another fine job tonight, and thanks for writing some of the show as well. We appreciate it.

DEAN: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: We read "The Secret Man" so you don't have to, necessarily. The review on my blog, Bloggerman, isn't quite that useful, but you might enjoy it. It's at

Also tonight, for the first time ever, Bob Woodward meets somebody besides Deep Throat in that garage. Call them Woodward and Brokaw. The historical marker will be put up later, no doubt.

And a disturbing new terrorist trend in Iraq, targeting foreign dignitaries for abduction and assassination.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: In London, if you want to see where Jack the Ripper brutally murdered his victims, there is not just one walking tour, there are about a dozen different walking ones.

Not so for Watergate. Then again, till six weeks ago, Bob Woodward would not reveal exactly where the iconic image of the Deep Throat saga, the underground parking garage, even was.

Our fourth story of the Countdown tonight, that's all changed now. Woodward has not only ID'd 1401 Wilson Boulevard in Roslyn, Virginia, he's even conducted the first Watergate walking tour. And his first customer was NBC's Tom Brokaw.


TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS (voice-over): In his new book "The Secret Man," Bob Woodward writes about the lengths that he and Deep Throat went to to keep their meetings secret, flower pot signals, clandestine trips across the Potomac River, hushed conversations at 2:00 in the morning in a Virginia parking garage.

(on camera): You would come from the Marriott, where...

(voice-over): When I went with Woodward, it was the first time he had taken someone else to visit the most famous garage in history.

_Could you see him when you came in?_

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, "THE SECRET MAN": Most of the time, you know, I think it's that pillar or this one, he would just be standing behind there. And so you come around, and all of a sudden he appears.

BROKAW (voice-over): Those covert meetings helped Woodward and Carl Bernstein prevent the Nixon White House from successfully covering up the Watergate scandal.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: His worldview was, I, the president, I'm surrounded by enemies, and I've got to keep them at bay and ultimately destroy them.

BROKAW: But what about the personal relationship between Bob Woodward and Deep Throat, Mark Felt? It began as a friendship, but when the book came out, "All the President's Men," it was the first time Felt learned of his colorful nickname. Woodward thought Felt was personally insulted.

WOODWARD: Soon thereafter, I called Mark Felt at home. The worst thing happened. He hung up. And it was just like a stab.

BROKAW: Twenty-six months after five burglars with White House ties were caught trying to bug the Democratic national headquarters in the Watergate building, the president, who had tried to cover it up, resigned.


RICHARD MILHOUS NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.


BROKAW: But Deep Throat, who had played such a critical role in exposing the White House cover-up, was never identified for more than 30 years.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, how are you?


BROKAW: For reporter Bob Woodward, who learned so much from this important source, and from his on again, off again friendship, the emergence of Mark Felt was a relief.

WOODWARD: When I saw that picture of him in the doorstep, waving with that smile, it was almost as if three decades of problems, and, you know, undertow had just been washed away. And I felt you know, Wow.


OLBERMANN: The greatest garage generation, just part of tonight's special "Tom Brokaw Reports: 'The Secret Man,'" Tom with Bob Woodward, John Dean, and others, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 10:00 Pacific, 9:00 Central tonight on your local NBC stations.

From Watergate to water disaster, fishermen snagged the biggest catfish in the world. It dies on the way to the aquarium. First Bubba the lobster, and now this.

And what a better country to host the Olympics than the one that brought us classic competitions like soccer and shin kicking?

Be careful when you say that.

That's ahead. This is Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Each evening at this time, we exit the Countdown information superhighway to pause ever so briefly at the Vince Lombardi rest stop of journalism.

Let's play Oddball.

We begin in Thailand, where we now have video of what is believed to be the world's biggest catfish. Yes, that's pretty big. Six hundred and forty-six pounds, a Mekong catfish, caught in the remote village of Chang Kong (ph) by fishermen who are not at all as grossed out by the thing the way I am just about now.

The fishermen had hoped to sell the beast to environmental groups to spawn little monsters just like it. But in the great tradition of Bubba the giant lobster, this fish died shortly after he was caught. You know, they sort of need to be in the water to survive.

In the end, the unnamed fish was chopped up and eaten by the villagers, and so were the fishermen.

To Darmsala, India, where thousands of exiled Tibetans today celebrated the birthday of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. The lama turned 70 years old today and looks fit as a fiddle, flowing robes, the grace, bald, striking. He's been living in India since he fled Tibet in 1959. There were no presents today. But when he dies, on his deathbed he will receive total consciousness. He's got that going for him, which is nice.

To southern China, where we may have finally figured out why it is so difficult to get pandas to reproduce, because their kids are creepy-looking. Two little panda cubs born this week at the Wolong (ph) Research Center in Sichuan Province after 13 hours of (INAUDIBLE), 13 hours for that? The mother's name is Ying-Ying. She'll get the twins back when they're a little older. The father, well, he's not really in the picture any more.

That means they share President Bush's birthday. He celebrates by unintentionally knocking down a Scottish bobby. Also there's that G8 summit and the Supreme Court stuff.

Could have been worse. He could have been Rush Limbaugh. His year-long fight to keep his medical records away from prosecutors has come to an abrupt end.

These stories ahead.

But first, now here are Countdown's top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, the late James Henry Smith of Garfield, Pennsylvania. When he died, his family fulfilled his last wishes, that at his wake, he be dressed in his black-and-gold Pittsburgh Steelers pajamas, leaning back in the recliner, the TV remove still in his cold, dead hand, and a tape of Steelers' highlights playing on a screen right in front of him.

Unfortunately, in the adjoining viewing room at the funeral home, they were holding viewing hours for a Cleveland Browns fan, and he and the late Mr. Smith got into a fistfight.

Number two, Jack McCall, winner of an American Airlines travel contest. He got $50,000 worth of free air fare. Of course, that's $50,000 before any discounts. Mr. McCall discovered that the taxes he'd have to pay on the full fares was actually higher than what buying the tickets would have cost him at a discount. He has declined the prize.

And number one, British member of parliament Anthony Steen, who told the House, "Health and safety have run riot. It's lunacy." This, after parliament banned its members from sharing hairbrushes in the House of Commons bathrooms, fearing there will be an epidemic of head lice.

Mr. Speaker, the honorable member's scalp is moving.

And you thought our politicians were nit-pickers.


OLBERMANN: We do not know his name, but tonight, a Scottish policeman can say, I ran into President Bush - on his birthday, no less. In the second episode of his presidency that seemingly brought the pilot of the TV series "The West Wing" to life, the president has had another cycling accident, this time colliding with that policeman. Mr. Bush went sliding across the road in Scotland, but got nothing worse than scrapes and cuts. The policeman, on foot, hurt his ankle. He was on his way home from the hospital when his cell phone rang. It was the president checking up on him.

As to the presidential bike, not good.

Our third story on the Countdown: If today's episode at the G8 summit was some kind of omen for Mr. Bush's upcoming Supreme Court nomination, also not good. Today, he gave his unnamed nominee a baby-sitter. Former Tennessee senator, current "Law and Order" district attorney Fred Thompson will shepherd the choice through what is already a noisy and crowded confirmation landscape in the Senate. Thompson's supposed to recreate the role John Ashcroft had for Court nominee Clarence Thomas, only without all the - you know.

Other kinds of "you know" started the moment this Court vacancy opened. Monday, the president defended possible nominee, his current attorney general Gonzales, by phone to a newspaper. Today, he defended him again to TV cameras.


GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't like it when a friend gets criticized. There'll be no litmus test. I'll pick people who, one, can do the job, are people who are honest, people who are bright and people who will strictly interpret the Constitution and not use the bench to legislate from.

The other thing about this debate is I hope the United States Senate conducts themselves in a way that brings dignity to the process and that the senators don't listen to the special interest groups.


OLBERMANN: The architect of the president's other campaigns is trying to set the parameters of this one. You will recall the Democratic caveat to the "no judicial filibuster" deal, that filibusters would be OK under extraordinary circumstances. Karl Rove met yesterday with reporters and editors of "The Washington Post." It was a preemptive strike of sorts against that notion of extraordinary circumstances.

Peter Baker, the White House reporter for "The Post" reported on that visit from Mr. Rove in today's paper. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.

PETER BAKER, "WASHINGTON POST": Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN: Was that, indeed, the message, no extraordinary circumstances will apply? And if it was, why not?

BAKER: Well, I think rl Rove's definition of extraordinary circumstances is a little different than what the senators on the Hill or the Democratic Party think. Karl Rove wants to narrow the definition as narrowly as possible, basically to things like, you know, some great personal scandal or impropriety, that sort of thing, and not ideology. He doesn't want the debate to be about a judicial nominee's view of Roe v. Wade, same-sex marriage or these other hot-button issues.

OLBERMANN: Have we gotten now to the point in politics where the dirty fighting is not just likely, it's inevitable, and that the only thing one party can try to do is claim the moral high ground first, before the mud starts flying? In essence, was that part of the reason that Karl Rove was there at lunch with you yesterday?

BAKER: Well, he came to lunch because we invited him. But certainly, there's going to be a lot of mud-slinging in this nomination battle, for good or for bad. Ad the president himself said today, you know, he'd like to see a dignified process. But there's a lot of factors at work here that argue against that. There's interest groups on every side. There's a lot of people with very strong feelings. It's the first nomination battle in 11 years. And so telling people who've been waiting for so long just to stay calm, not express themselves, don't fight hard, is going to be a very, very hard thing on both the right and the left.

OLBERMANN: Speaking of that, as much as the message might have been, as you wrote, that opposition party senators have a responsibility to back the president's choice if they believe a nominee is qualified, even if they disagree with the person's view, do you suspect that there was something in Mr. Rove's comments and appearance that were as much directed towards his conservative potential critics?

BAKER: Well, I think he wanted to get across the message to the conservative to - you know, to back off. He specifically told us in this luncheon yesterday that the president ignores such criticism from his own allies in the conservative wing of the party. Remember, of course, Karl Rove is, in fact, sort of the unofficial ambassador to that part of the party. So it was an important message and important messenger delivering it.

OLBERMANN: You mentioned it just now. You quoted him today, Mr. Rove saying the president would not be asking potential nominees their positions on specific issues like abortion. We heard him just say that from Scotland. That may be true. Maybe it is. But is there any expectation that there are senators who would not ask those questions?

BAKER: Very little expectation of that, of course. And Fred Thompson, as you mentioned, the new sherpa who will be escorting the nominee around the Hill, said today that he thinks questions about specific cases, specific issues shouldn't be answered by a nominee, but he agrees that a senator is entitled to ask anything a senator wants. And you're certainly going to see a lot of that.

The real question is, what will the nominee do when the questions come his or her way?

OLBERMANN: Fred Thompson as a sherpa. That is an image...


OLBERMANN: That's an image to run with. If you don't, I will. Peter Baker, the White House reporter for "The Washington Post," great. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.

BAKER: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: The president, of course, got to Gleneagles, Scotland, today just in time to accidentally run down that local constable, as we mentioned earlier. Even before the G8 summit there got formally under way with a banquet tonight, the president had already agreed to double U.S. aid to Africa to $8.6 billion by 2010. But as to the other main objective of the host, the British prime minister, Mr. Blair, the U.S. wants no mention of specific emission reduction targets like those in the Kyoto climate treaty. Mr. Bush is urging nations to develop alternative energy sources and to use less oil.

Where there's a G8 summit, there are protests. In Gleneagles, riot police clashing with protesters representing a potpourri of causes. It was the culmination of an otherwise peaceful march. Police made a handful of arrests, bringing to 100 the number detained in the past 24 hours.

That word, "detained," means one thing in the wilds of a Scotland summer. It means something else entirely in Iraq. Egypt's top diplomat there kidnapped Saturday night, now threatened with death by his captors, al Qaeda in Iraq claiming that it has abducted Ihab al Sherif. Now a Web site posting says that the terrorist group has ordered what it calls its religious court to carry out a punishment that could mean death, this part of the apparent latest tactic of insurgents to intimidate countries with any ties to the new Iraqi government. An ambush yesterday left the envoy from Bahrain with a gunshot wound to his hand, and though his guards saved him from any injury, it sent the Pakistani ambassador packing.

Also tonight, for a century, chewing gum has been assumed to make you look dumb. Now evidence that chewing gum may actually make you smarter. And Lil' Kim gets a lil' time. A rap artist, a year in jail just because of some gunfight? That's next. This is Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Everybody from Emily Post to your 3rd grade teacher has told you not to chew gum in public, principally because it gives the chewer a foolish, droopy expression. In other words, you can look stupid. But in our number two story on the Countdown: two recent studies suggesting that no matter how you look while smacking your gum, chewing it may actually make you smarter. As you watch the report from our correspondent, Jamie Gangel - come here for a second. As you watch this, try not to let the cynic in you note that nowhere do they even offer a theory as to just why gum chewing might make you smarter. So typical!


JAMIE GANGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Let's fact it, it's never been considered classy. In Hollywood, the kid is a brat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What kind of gum you got here?

GANGEL: The blonde is clueless. And it is the bane of every teacher's existence. But the gum industry can now proudly report people spent more than $3 billion on chewing gum last year, and most of them were adults. Apparently, gum has new cachet.

LARRY GRAHAM, NATIONAL CONFECTIONERS ASSOC.: I think you can chew gum discreetly, and I think you can chew gum politely. You know, just generally, I think it's a little more accepted than it used to be.

GANGEL (on camera): As long as you don't crack or pop it.

GRAHAM: Right. Or blow bubbles.

GANGEL (voice-over): Top reasons for chewing? Promises of fresh breath, white teeth, weight loss and stress relief. And everyone has a favorite.




GANGEL: All perhaps reasonable, except to your mother, who always scolded, You look like a cow. But tell that to these people. More and more celebrities are openly chewing gum in public, on the red carpet, on TV.

_UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is with the gum?_

GANGEL: Even on the campaign trail. You have to wonder, What were they thinking? But according to this expert, they are...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very smart people.

GANGEL: That's right, two recent studies show chewing gum may make you smarter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We found that the students who chewed gum did better on a written exam than the students who did not chew gum.

_GANGEL (on camera): About how much better?_

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The difference between a C-plus and a B, which is a significant difference.

GANGEL (voice-over): Larger studies still need to be done, but more schools are allowing students to chew gum, especially during tests.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I teach 8th grade, and my kids love to chew gum. And it used to be a big hassle and we'd tell them to spit out their gum, but now we love it, as long as they don't stick it under the desk. So I think it really does help them learn.

GANGEL: Of course, no one could be more thrilled about this than gum makers, who are fiercely competing for all these chewers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We strongly encourage chewing gum in public.

GANGEL (on camera): Oh, no!


GANGEL (voice-over): Eighty-six new flavors are being introduced this year, including chocolate. And the companies are researching ways to use gum as drug-delivery systems for things like caffeine, vitamins and medicine. Wrigley's even has a patent for Viagra gum.

(on camera): This is true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's true. We give our scientists a lot of leeway, from a creativity perspective. Innovation drives the market.

GANGEL: But Viagra gum?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Long-term opportunity.

GANGEL (voice-over): Despite this chewing boom, there is one caveat. Even if it does make you smarter, many argue it will never look smart. But the gum makers are prepared to try.

(on camera): Show me how you politely chew gum on TV.


GANGEL: I think you do it as politely as anyone could!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the training.

GANGEL: You don't ever look at someone sort of walking down the

street or something, and they're just smacking away and popping and

clicking, and you go-

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the industry, we find that attractive.


OLBERMANN: An easy transition, then, tonight to those stories that snap and crackle with celebrity goodness, "Keeping Tabs." This just in. A hip-hop artist is going to jail. Lil' Kim, real name Kimberly Jones, sentenced this afternoon to a year and a day in prison, also fined $50,000 for having lied to a grand jury, the Brooklyn-born rap star convicted on three counts of perjury, one count of conspiracy after testifying that she was unaware that two friends had been involved in a shoot-out in front of a New York City radio station. Security video from the radio station showed one of the people she was unaware of was holding the door open for Ms. Jones. Par for the course for celebrities. Ms. Jones obviously does not chew gum.

First Lil' Kim, now big Rush. A Palm Beach County judge today releasing to prosecutors a portion of Rush Limbaugh's medical records while giving the majority of them back to Limbaugh's attorney, Roy Black. They had been seized as part of the inquiry into the conservative radio host's alleged doctor shopping, getting lots of prescriptions for lots of the same drug from lots of different doctors. His lawyers successfully fought to keep investigators from getting to look at those results until today. Prosecutors have charged him with no crime. Then again, they've only just now gotten half of those records.

And Hollywood has lost one of its all-time greats, perhaps its most versatile writer ever. The same man wrote the ultimate Hitchcock thriller, "North by Northwest," the searing story of celebrity journalism, "The Sweet Smell of Success," also "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?" and "The King and I" and "West Side Story" and "The Sound of Music." His name was Ernest Lehman. He got six Academy Award nominations. He was the first screenwriter ever to be awarded an honorary Oscar for his lifetime of work. It has been announced that Mr. Lehman died Saturday at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles after a long illness. Ernest Lehman was 89 years old.

Also tonight, New York City does not get the Olympics, for which many New Yorkers are secretly grateful. But the really good news? Forget Paris. They lost, too.

That's ahead, but first, time for Countdown's list of today's three nominees for the coveted title of "Worst Person in the World." Members of the band Razor Light - they appeared in the Live 8 worldwide charity concerts over the weekend. Pink Floyd donated its profits from additional album sales to the charity. Annie Lennox did, The Who. Razor Light says it's keeping all the money it will make off the gig. Ladies and gentlemen, this was Razor Light's farewell appearance. Good-bye, everybody.

Also nominated tonight, O.J. Simpson. Police summoned to his home in Kendall, Florida, when his girlfriend attacked Simpson and Simpson's friend, who then said she went after O.J. like a vampire and he just stood there and took it. Simpson did nothing wrong, so why has he been nominated? Because our panel holds a grudge.

But your winner tonight, Judge Thomas Hogan of the U.S. district court in Washington. He sent a reporter to jail. The reporter might be wrong. She might be right. The law might be wrong. It might be right. But any way you cut it, you, sir, sent an American reporter to an American jail two days after the 229th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Judge Thomas Hogan, today's "Worst Person in the World"!


OLBERMANN: It was two years ago last Saturday that Vancouver, Canada, was awarded the 2010 winter Olympics. On that day, everybody who knows how the International Olympic Committee works knew that New York's bid to host the 2012 games was over. No matter which time in our history nor which groups of IOC honchos were processing the graft, they almost never give consecutive Olympics to the same continent. The more naive New Yorkers and the ones who live outside the city and wouldn't have to have fought the 2021 touristas for cabs or food pretended this was not true.

But in our number one story on the Countdown: It sure was. In a moment, 15 reasons that it's really better this way. First, our correspondent Ron Allen with this morning's big decision.


RON ALLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the end, it was a contest between bitter rivals, London and Paris, head to head for Olympic gold.


ALLEN: (INAUDIBLE) one of their greatest victories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't matter what it is, as long as we beat the French.

ALLEN: Even London's betting parlors had Paris as the 2-to-1 favorite. The French could barely tell their kids.


ALLEN: Say good-bye to 2012, she says. Two nations just 23 miles apart, who have fought at least 30 wars over the past 1,000 years. One lasted more than a century. A rivalry still so fierce, just last month the British reenacted a famous battle from 200 years ago.

SIMON HOGGART, "THE GUARDIAN" NEWSPAPER: They think that we are rough, that we don't eat, that we're violent, we're dirty. We think they're smelly. They don't wash enough. Yet we love them, really.

ALLEN: But not really. The French think the British don't know how to dress, especially the queen, nor how to cook. Just yesterday, French president Jacques Chirac said, "You can't trust people who cook as badly as the British." Today, he was eating his words. "I want to congratulate, of course, with all my heart, London," he said.

(on camera): So why did London win? The city's passion for the games, its ethnic diversity and love of sports apparently wowed the judges. Ironic, since Paris is the city that thinks it has all the charm.

(voice-over): And the general who led the charge was jubilant.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Well, it's not often in this job you sort of punch the air and do a little jig and embrace the next - the person standing next to you.

ALLEN: Today London triumphs. Long live the queen. Another skirmish in a centuries-old tale of two proud cities. Ron Allen, NBC News, London.


OLBERMANN: Actually, the choice was something of a no-brainer. Of the five finalists, New York was eliminated by that same continent jazz. Moscow hosted the games in 1980. Madrid was handicapped in that Spain hosted them '92 in Barcelona. And as to Paris, when President Chirac insulted the food of the British, he also insulted the food of the Finns. Finland had two key votes on the choice committee, so either they were newly offended or Chirac already knew they were going to vote against Paris and he was intentionally offending them.

Regardless, the U.S. does not get the games, but as that Londoner just said, it doesn't matter what it is, as long as we beat the French.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The city of New York will not participate in...

OLBERMANN (voice-over): It is a bittersweet day for those who worked so hard and so long to bring the summer games 2012 to America. New York's bid was a valiant effort, and everyone was behind it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that it was right that we lost. We don't have the facilities.

OLBERMANN: Well, except that gal. But in this morning's dark cloud, we have been able to find an Olympic silver lining. At least they didn't get it, either. So today, in true American style, invoking the German concept of Schadenfreude, we revel in the misfortune of the French while congratulating our staunch ally.

BUSH:... our strongest friend and closest ally...

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS:... the president's staunchest ally...

BUSH:... staunch allies like Great Britain...

BLAIR:... an ally of the United States...

OLBERMANN: The British.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The games of the 30th Olympiad in 2012 are awarded to the city of London!

OLBERMANN: Britain has become the modern hole (ph) for spectacle sports and stupid stunts. Think of David Blaine.

DAVID BLAINE: This has been the most horrid experience of my life!

OLBERMANN: British hospitality is, of course, simply legendary.

Consider the celebrity chairman of the welcoming committee, Sir Elton John.

ELTON JOHN, SINGER/SONGWRITER: Pig! Pig! Rude, vile pig!

OLBERMANN: This is a country steeped in Olympic tradition, not only hosting in 1948 and 1908, but having invented the marathon. Yes, you've heard that nonsense about a guy in Greece and he drops dead after he runs. It actually began on a hill in Gloucestershire when a bunch of drunks dropped the cheese they intended to have with their vat of wine. The first winner of that race broke 26.2 bones in the effort, thus the marathon distance is a mile for every cast (ph).

Olympic wrestling? Well, they call it Greco-Roman, but we know it's really just a descendant of the British sport shin kicking. I got the shin kicked out of me! The U.K. is truly a kingdom united by the purity of sport. The Olympic majesty of 15 caravans in a demolition derby, the quiet dignity of the competitive nettle eater, the loneliness of the long-distance bog snorkler, scenes that resonate across a country, from the weirdoes dressed in superhero costumes at Buckingham Palace to England's most intellectual elite.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are the weakest link!

OLBERMANN: If not our own, then what better country to represent the spirit, the sportsmanship, the thrill, the color, the pageantry that will be the games of the 30th Olympiad? Today we say hurray for Britain. And France, I blow my nose in your general direction. And we'll see you all in 2012. Remember, mind the gap. Do not make eye contact with the soccer hooligans. And by all means, have the fish.


And don't forget, they'll also have in London in 2012 head lice racing direct from parliament.

That's Countdown. Tucker Carlson is next with "THE SITUATION." I'm Keith Olbermann. Keep your knees loose. Good night, and good luck.