'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Feb. 4
Guest: Tim Carvell
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? The Super Bowl a super bore? The song lyrics have been scrutinized, the wardrobes have been bound with hoops of steel and transgressors can be fined and banished.
On the other hand, an ex-con gets a prime time network TV show, auditions today. Shooting to begin as soon as she's only under house arrest.
Deep Throat. We may be about to find out who he is. Today, an author fingered an ex-president while the Woodward and Bernstein papers got a permanent collegiate home. And this image got a huge laugh.
And speaking of huge laughs, the passing of one of the immortals from "Animal House."
JOHN VERNON: Then as of this moment, they're on double secret probation.
OLBERMANN: All that and more, now on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Good evening. Proving once again that crime does pay and that you never stop offending those in the company, once called the blue noses. In our fifth story tonight, even though she is not yet an ex-con, the auditions for Martha Stewart's new primetime TV show began today while at the same time we learned that Sunday's Super Bowl telecast is being so tightly controlled, that halftime star Paul McCartney and all the other performers had to sign contracts that will subject them to fines or to being banished, along with the record label if they contribute to any obscene, profane or otherwise offensive acts during broadcast. Thus fans and other viewers may have to rely on the game to avoid a super bore Sunday and that is rarely a good bet. Especially not this year when the New England Patriots are seeking their third title in four and are favored by seven points over the Philadelphia Eagles.
No fear, though, of Janet Jackson's right breast being exposed this year with three commercials already rejected, due to supposed tastelessness and the McCartney lyric inspections, America may or may not be safe from salaciousness, but game broadcasters, the Fox network, will be safe from thousands of identical spam emails of complaint.
The commercials, already deemed too something, include an herbal cold remedy ad which would have briefly exposed Mickey Rooney's 84 year-old back side, a brewery's satire of last year's Jacksonian wardrobe malfunction, and an automaker's spot that would have shown a clergyman caressing the exterior of a truck. You would think showing religious figures getting excited over anything or anyone not working in a church would be a good idea.
As for McCartney, we told you two weeks ago that National Football League officials flew to London to vet, line by line, the words of the four or five songs he offered to perform. McCartney joked that there would be no wardrobe malfunction because he was going to appear naked. And the "New York Times" said the league didn't change a single lyric, which presumably means he will not be singing the early Beatles hit, "I Saw Her Standing There," which includes a reference to a 17-year-old girl. Or of course his solo effort, high, high, high, which tells the listeners, quote, "I want to lie on the bed, Get you ready for my poly-gon, I'm going to do it to you, going to do it, Sweet banana, you've never been done, Yes, I go like a rabbit, gonna grab it, Gonna do it 'til the night is done."
Paul McCartney, everybody. Paul McCartney. One hundred forty five million expected to watch in this country alone on this Sunday. It is beginning to sound like at least a few hundred will die of boredom. It may prove that the man at the center of last year's Super Bowl panties bunching may be succeeded as FCC chairman by an even more strident moralist. Michael Powell resigned not long after his father, the secretary of state did so. And today the "New York Daily News" reported that his likely successor is a current member, Kevin Martin.
His nomination is thought probable because since he is already on the FCC, making him the chairman would not subject him to confirmation hearings. As to Martin's stance on stuff like this, it is probably instructive to know the Parents' Television Council, one of the lobbying groups run by Brent Bozell, the guy who looks like that actor whose beard gets blown around in the cabin in the movie "Airplane," thinks Michael Powell showed a, quote, "reluctance to enforce broadcast decency laws" but thinks Martin, quoting again, "is a stalwart leader on the issue of indecency and would make a superb chairman." Another reason that the broadcast networks are likely to sue to try to end the FCC's jurisdiction over TV and radio.
Back to the scandals, Martha Stewart's wardrobe never malfunctions, nor her cooking or cleaning. Although her legal defense team may have. Regardless, Wednesday her deal to host a show for our parent network NBC was announced. Today began the auditions for contestants. No idea if she gets to use the Donald Trump catch phrase, "you're fired," or if she has to come up with one of her own like, say, "you're indicted." The old shows of the high doyen were successful, but definitely they were niche program, not a lot of viewing by, say, 18 to 25-year-old males. That figure to change. These, the images today from casting around the country for "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart" which will begin production in March as soon as she is released in prison but while she is still under house arrest.
That odd juxtaposition of primetime jailhouse and Super Bowl rock apparently failed to register with the would be contestants.
It's not like having gone to jail makes you a permanently irredeemably bad person. Gandhi went to jail. Pope Urban VI went to jail in 1383. Nelson Mandela went to jail as we were reminded by none other than Martha Stewart. She told the TV interviewer late last year, there are many, many good people who have gone to prison. Look at Nelson Mandela. Not if he's exposing any skin, I can't. The real question here is not why is television rewarding a person convicted in a federal court of lying about stock deals, while it is shackling entertainers who have no intention of crossing the tightest boundary of good taste. The question whether or not we have all been sent to a virtual prison in which moral values have nothing to do with honesty. Only with what you are wearing or saying.
Before I turn completely preachy and the top have my head blows off, let's bring in our guest. Tim Carvell, writer with Comedy Central's "The Daily Show." He penned an op ed on the McCartney stuff yesterday for the "New York Times." Mr. Carvell, good evening.
TIM CARVELL, WRITER "THE DAILY SHOW": Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Martha Stewart gets a primetime show. Paul McCartney gets frisked by Super Bowl police. What's wrong with this picture?
CARVELL: I don't find anything all that wrong with the picture there, Keith. As I understand it, what Martha Stewart did was sell her stock when it was artificially inflated on the basis of illegally obtained insider information. I mean, people are treating her like she's some sort of a criminal for that, I don't get it.
Morality is one thing. I don't think there's any sort of morality clause that would prevent somebody from getting a job on television. If anything, I think that a certain laxity in morals may be part of it, present company, of course, excluded.
OLBERMANN: Thank you.
CARVELL: But I think it is brilliant on their part to give "The Apprentice" to Martha Stewart. Assuming they capitalize on the crime. I think it is not something that you run away from. I think it is something they should embrace. I think that having somebody who is convicted felon, was that a felony that she was convicted of?
OLBERMANN: I believe so.
CARVELL: I believe that having her sort of like heading up a reality show is a great idea because like, make the crime the centerpiece of the show. Every week she has to do something criminal with the help of the 12 people and start with something small with the 12. They all to have shoplift candy bars or something. And as it goes on, as the people get fewer, the stakes get higher. Until by the end, it is like her and two people killing a hobo. Whoever does it best, they win.
OLBERMANN: Or the other way you could do it - eliminated them - is by pinning the crime on one apprentice and they go to jail.
CARVELL: I like that.
OLBERMANN: About the Super Bowl, if the FCC had held back last year and said that was a bad idea. Don't do that again. Wouldn't we have the same kind of taste backlash anyway this year? Wouldn't it have felt more like a correction and less like the Taliban taking over television?
CARVELL: I guess I would argue they didn't go quite far enough, there, Keith. It seems to me that a fine is one thing. But like listen, if you're going to be showing your nipples on national television, maybe you shouldn't be allowed to have them. Nipples to me would be a privilege and not a right. And I'll say this for the FCC's action. We have not seen a single nipple on television since then. Except on Cinemax, of course, where it is pretty much wall to wall nipples. Your viewers can check, there's nipples there right now. Go check, actually. We'll wait.
OLBERMANN: Thanks for doing that. There's always something good in everything. Even if people are going over to check out Cinemax.
CARVELL: Keith. Keith?
CARVELL: Give them a minute to come back.
OLBERMANN: That's true.
Well, listen, we've already established that there are not that many left because there weren't that many to begin with. So I'm not worried about it. Do you see a silver ling in this? Not - what the FCC did means to me that on Monday, I don't have to deal with a demoralized nation that had to see Mickey Rooney's butt. Do you have a silver ling from all this, too?
CARVELL: A silver lining? I guess as far as a silver lining for the FCC crackdown? It seems to me that what it is really going to do, in tandem with the Stewart decision to put her in charge of this show, it is really going to get children interested in math. Because a young child who might have thought of a career in exotic dance or some sort of other public nudity might be dissuaded and might be interested in learning, say, accounting or something like that. That's the kind of crime that would pay well.
OLBERMANN: And then lead to a professional career in broadcasting as well.
OLBERMANN: Tim Carvell from the great writing staff of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," thanks for your perspective and thanks for your time tonight, Sir.
CARVELL: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Of course the Janet Jackson incident at last year's super bowl has already receded into the communal history as a one-line thing. It was hardly just one line. From the moment Justin Timberlake exposed Jackson's breast at 8:23:27 Eastern Standard Time through Timberlake's memorable explanation that it was a "wardrobe malfunction" through endless comedy bits, the intentional ones by humorists, the unintentional ones by the FCC chairman and other authorities. It was a full week. A week that not only transformed Super Bowl XXXVIII into Super Bowl 38-D, but one that shook and changed the world. Well, maybe jiggled and changed the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
OLBERMANN (voice-over): No one would have believed in the first years of the 21st century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligence's greater than man's and yet as his own. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds, as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the 21st century, came the great disillusionment.
The awful night had begun with the omen the whole world missed. The ceremonial coin toss. Conduct by football legend Y.A. Tittle. Soon to be the question on everyone's lips. "Why a tittle?" Unaware of the cataclysm that awaited him, Timberlake was initially proud.
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, ENTERTAINER: I love giving you all something to talk about.
OLBERMANN: And then the others got loud.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not like it was a real one. This apparently was made up of Michael Jackson's old noses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guarantee that's the oldest booby that Justin has ever seen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not exactly a usual phenomenon for me.
OLBERMANN: And soon the breasts seem to have taken on the life and the publicity agent of its own.
JANET JACKSON'S RIGHT BREAST: Hey, hey, hey! That halftime show was
CONAN O'BRIEN, TALK SHOW HOST: Yes, it was. Yeah.
BREAST: 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: Received thousands of complaints.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it was an accident what happened at the Super Bowl.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was very calculated. Somebody had knowledge.
OLBERMANN: Think of the children. Won't 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.
_MICHAEL JACKSON, ENTERTAINER: You are not alone!_
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's Janet. That's my little baby sister.
OLBERMANN: And what of those intellects, vast and cool and unsympathetic, who withdraw from this lonely planet, what think they of us now?
(MUSIC - "THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES")
(END VIDEO TAPE)
OLBERMANN: From outrageous halftime shows to outrageous comments about killing. Was is the general's fault or is that how we train our fighting men to feel? And for more than three decades, it has remained the great secret of American politics. Who was Deep Throat? Why did he fink on Richard Nixon? Might we finally be getting an answer soon?
This is Countdown on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: U.S. Marines, probably the best trained on the planet. So what is the nature of our surprise? That a Marine Corps general is recorded on camera saying it is fun to kill. Stand by.
OLBERMANN: "In our country," Mark Twain said, "we have those three unspeakably precious things. Freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either." Our fourth story on the Countdown, two men learning that less tonight hard way. In a moment, the college professor whose essay comparing victim of 9/11 to Nazi war criminals has provoked anger, intellectual, emotional and physical. First an Iraqi war hero for commenting on the nature of his job. Hear again what Marine Corps Lieutenant General James Mattis said in San Diego earlier this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIEUTENANT GENERAL JAMES MATTIS, USMC: Actually it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up front with you. I like brawling.
You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slapped women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway so it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Now a Muslim civil liberties group is calling on the Pentagon to discipline Mattis, saying, quote, "We do not need generals who treat the grim business of war as a sporting event. These disturbing remarks are indicative of an apparent indifference to the value of human life."
After a long interval, it is a pleasure to once again speak with military analyst and retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General Bernard Trainor. General, welcome back to the show.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL BERNARD TRAINOR (RET), MILITARY ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: You're a friend of General Mattis. You know him. They're going to have Harrison Ford play him in a movie about Fallujah. Were those comments out of character for him or in character?
TRAINOR: Oh, no. That's out of character for Jim Mattis. He's a very thoughtful and capable guy. This was a little like locker room talk, Keith. But it is not the measure of the man by any means.
_OLBERMANN: When you say locker room talk, what do you mean?_
TRAINOR: Well, he's talking as though he's talking to these 18 or 19-year-old marines before they crossing the line of departure, who are a little excited and nervous and so forth. Kind of pump them up. This is the sort of thing you find in professional football or any sport. But certainly it is not the sort of thing that Jim Mattis is made up of by any mean.
OLBERMANN: But when this Muslim civil liberties group then says, "we do not need general who's treating the grim business of war as a sporting event," are they mistaken? Do they misunderstand the nature of war? It is an odd thing to talk about the soldiers and talk about the indifference to the value of human life. It is part of the premise of a war, is it not?
TRAINOR: Yeah, what Mattis said was very dumb and I don't think there's anyone that regrets it more than Mattis himself. But as they say, it is not the nature of the individual. Is there an overreaction to this sort of thing? Well, not an overreaction to what he said. But I think an overreaction in general to think this is a projection of the way Mattis or the marines think.
Let me give you something, Keith. This is the remark that Mattis made in his speech before the marines attacked into Iraq in 2003. And he said, "Our fight is not that the Iraqi people, nor is it with the members of the Iraqi army who choose to surrender. While we will move swiftly and aggressively against those who resist, we will treat all others with decency, demonstrating chivalry and soldierly compassion for people who have endured a lifetime under Saddam's oppression. Carry out your mission and keep your honor clean. Demonstrate to the world that there is no better friend and no worse enemy than the U.S. Marine." That is the Jim Mattis that I know.
OLBERMANN: Balance those two comments then, the one that you just read and the one we heard from San Diego. Is this the fundamental balance problem between the soldier who is in fact in a position to kill and the American who was raised to respect all human life?
TRAINOR: Well, clearly, the U.S. military tradition and culture is one of respect for life. Fierce in combat but magnanimous in victory. Which is the term that Churchill used in World War II. And I think that's the essence of not only the marine culture but the American culture in war. If you're an enemy, we're going to kill you. If you don't resist, then we will be compassionate and help you.
OLBERMANN: Retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General Bernard Trainor. Once again, great thanks for your time and as always, for your perspective, sir.
TRAINOR: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Good to talk to you, sir.
Another instance of controversial speech tonight. The regent of University of Colorado apologizing quote, "to all American" for statements by one of the professor. But state law there looking more and more like they can take no punitive action against him. Professor and Native-American activist Ward Churchill was to speak about prison reform. Then professors there discovered an essay he had written about 9/11. In it he described victims in the World Trade Center as, quote, "civilians of a sort but innocent? Give me a break." Later in the essay he referred to them as, quote, "Little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the Twin Towers." Eichmann, Adolf Eichmann was the Gestapo officer in charge of organizing the extermination of Jews in Nazi, Germany. That reference and the reference to fire Churchill has divided the Colorado campus.
A meeting of the board of regents yesterday turned into a student brawl between Churchill's supporters and his detractors.
Also tonight, what crimes men will perpetrate for small pieces of shining metal. Police catch the man they think has been killing jewelry store owners. And in the "Oddball" crime category, forgot your ATM card? Perhaps this blow torch can help you. Stand by.
OLBERMANN: We're back and for the final time this week we pause the Countdown to look at the shiny disco ball of weird news and cool video. Let's play "Oddball."
It was in the 1930s that the infamous stick-up man Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks. His answer, "because that's where the money is." Perhaps that is what has inspired this gentleman to hit the same ATM machine in Kansas City twice one evening. The first with a tire iron, the second time with a blow torch. He of course got no money because all he managed to do was set fire to the roll of receipt paper inside the machine and trigger the burglar alarm. Police released this video hoping someone might recognize this moron and turn him in. In the meantime, we would like to award them "Oddball" master criminal of the week. Yes, you, blow torch the ATM guy. You're this week's real man of genius. Mr. Blowtorch ATM guy.
More genius in the Oklahoma state legislature. We have told you before about state senator Frank Shurden's proposal to bring back cock fighting to the great Sooner State. Today we got our first look at what he says will turn it from deadly blood sport to fun for the whole family poultry pugilism. Boxing gloves for chickens. Cockfighting was banned in Oklahoma in 2002 but he says game cock boxing would not be animal cruelty and could generate million of dollars in gambling revenue. Only if you charge $1 million a piece, senator! Plus he says the roosters live to fight. That's what they love to do. No, really. He said that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. FRANK SHURDEN, (D) HENRIETTA ,OK: It's not cruelty to animals. Roosters live to fight again. And that's what they're bred to do. That's what they live to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The chicken is one of the fiercest predators in the animal kingdom. Known sometime to attack animals as large as a gray squirrel or even the mouse.
Thirty two years ago, the fighting was between the White House and the "Washington Post" and the key man was a source was known only as Deep Throat. Tonight news that we may soon know his real name.
And was I paying attention this week? Do I know any of these guys' name? Could the show have been read by a trained monkey with bifocal glasses? The news quiz approaches. Those stories ahead but now here are Countdown's top three newsmakers of this day. Number three, Dr. Doughnut and Dr. White Cabbage. Two people going to the hospital to cheer up the patients. Today the patient they tried to cheer up - Pope John Paul II. Boys, he's doing OK. Boy's he's doing OK. Let's not risk anything.
And Gertrude Walton. She has been sued by the music industry for having allegedly illegally downloaded music from the Internet. Three problems. She's 83. She doesn't own a computer. And she's been dead since December. I would say she has already downloaded her final file.
And number one, Brad Devlin. The 17-year-old sportscaster on his local high school's TV station in Estero (ph), Florida. Where the school's girls' soccer team won. The script he was supposed to read said they "had kicked some booty." He then adlibbed, "I love booty." He's been suspended for five days and hired by ESPN to host "Sportscenter."
OLBERMANN: The greatest mystery of 20th century American politics may soon be solved. We may shortly find out who Deep Throat was. Our third story on the Countdown, if somehow you do not know who I'm talking about, that was the pivotal source, still anonymous nearly 33 years later. In the coverage of the Watergate scandal by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the "Washington Post."
There has been a sea change in the status of Throat whom Woodward and Bernstein and their former editor Ben Bradlee have vowed not to identify so long as he lives. In keeping with the secrecy of the whole drama, I'm afraid I have to tell you, I can't tell you what I know. But you will find it out in Sunday's editions of the "Los Angeles Times" and you'll recognize it when you see the byline.
It is not the same thing as that which appeared today in a letter to Jim Romanesco's media news blog on the Pointer Organization Web site, in which one of the hundred of authors who stream of unmasking history's anonymous source wrote that Deep Throat was in fact President Nixon's ambassador to the United Nations at the time. A man named George Herbert Walker bush. Yeah, that George Herbert Walker Bush. The purported motive, according author Adrian Havill that the future 41st president was ticked off that Nixon had induced him to resign from Congress on a hint that he might make him his vice-presidential candidate in 1972 and then didn't.
This is not to be taken particularly seriously by the many Throat obsessives and the former president's office told us today, it would not even comment on the posting. But it is all unfolding by extraordinary coincidence, just as the reportorial records of Carl Bernstein Bob Woodward are being formerly unveiled in the permanent home at University of Texas. As our correspondent Pete Williams reports, the papers do not identify that source. But they reveal just about everything else.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
PETE WILLIAMS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Once reporters' notes, now historical documents. The scraps of paper that fueled one of the biggest fire storms in history.
RICHARD M. NIXON: I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.
WILLIAMS: "Washington Post" reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein pieced the Watergate story bit by bit. Now that raw material has been carefully cat logged and made part of the archives at the University of Texas at Austin.
BOB WOODWARD, REPORTER: It's a pretty complete portrait to what happened to us during that two years.
WILLIAMS: This actual page from Woodward's notebook shows the beginning. Quote, "Five men arrested at Democratic national headquarters." As later dramatized in a movie, he scribbled those notes when the Watergate burglars were brought into court.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They knew it, too.
WILLIAMS: The archives reveal how much Woodward and Bernstein came to rely on sources in Mr. Nixon's own party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Republican Party came together, recognized what this president had done, and was really responsible for him leaving office.
WILLIAMS: After Nixon resigned, one of his lawyers, Fred Bizzard (ph) helped them reconstruct what ultimately led the president to step down and former Senator Barry Goldwater told them he began to think Nixon was, quote, "off his head." But nothing made public so far reveals the identity of their mystery source, nicknamed Deep Throat, also portrayed in the movie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just follow the money.
WILLIAMS: Even so these journalism students drove from Illinois to be first in line to look for clues.
WILLIAM GAINES, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS JOURNALISM DEPT.: We would like to explain, I think, not only who Deep Throat is but what Deep Throat's role was in Watergate.
WILLIAMS: The Watergate archives will continue to grow as the sources, including Deep Throat, die, freeing Woodward and Bernstein to reveal yet more secrets. Pete Williams, NBC News, Washington.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
OLBERMANN: Dozens of individuals have been outed as Deep Throat.
Former Nixon lawyer Leonard Garment fingered Nixon attorney John Sears. Several others fingered Garment. That University of Illinois study? It fingered another Nixon attorney, Fred Fielding. Carl Bernstein's ex-wife said it was former FBI bigwig Mark Felt. Former White House counsel John Dean narrowed it to appointment secretary Dwight Chapin, deputy press secretary Jerry Warren and the speechwriters Ray Price and Pat Buchanan. Our colleague Mr. Buchanan has denied that.
Regardless, it made for interesting TV the other night. Carl Bernstein also wrote a great biography of the pope. And when John Paul took ill, we interviewed Carl on Countdown. He was also interviewed on an MSNBC special that followed this program. Carl Bernstein was interviewed by Pat Buchanan. Perfect.
As we said, there will be a Deep Throat news development over the weekend. Please tune in Monday night when John Dean joins us live here on Countdown for reaction to it. Whatever it is, I'm not telling. I'm not telling. I'm not telling.
Suspicion that the current administration is not telling all about its designs on military action in Iran remain strong in Europe tonight after two days spent parsing every word spoken by the president on the topic in his state of the union address, European media now parsing every word by the secretary of state. Even before Condoleezza Rice made it across the ocean, she was telling reporters that the Iranian government's record was something to be loathed. "I don't think anybody thinks that the unelected mullahs who run that regime are a good thing for the Iranian people or for the region."
Dr. Rice also saying the U.S. had no intention of talking Iran out of building nuclear weapons by offering incentives. The European carrot and stick approach, as it's been called. But when she got to London, the secretary of state toning down the rhetoric when asking if the U.S. was considering military action against that country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The question is simply not on the agenda at this point in time. But we believe particularly in regard to the nuclear issue, that while no one ever asked the American president to take all of his options, take any option off the table, that there are plenty of diplomatic means at our disposal to get Iranians to finally live up to their international operations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: As a practical matter, U.S. military action in Iran would be all but impossible with American troops spread thin over in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly 160,000 Americans in uniform now deployed across those two theaters. But that number now expected to drop slightly.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has now told Capitol Hill, he thinks 15,000 troops could be rotated back home in the next few months. Many of those soldiers were send to Iraq or forced to stay there with tours extended to serve as additional security in advance of last week's elections. That part of the mission now over, Wolfowitz says he sees no reason why they can't now come home.
On the domestic political front, the man once considered the brightest chance to save the Democrats may soon get a second chance. Howard Dean edging closer in his drive to become the next chairman of the Democratic Party. Another competitor having dropped out of the race today and endorsing the former governor of Vermont. Working for his candidacy, Dr. Dean's success in rallying Democratic support, his ability to unify the party. Working against it, the large faction of the party that believes it is time to shift center right. And the fact that Dr. Dean has been the man to beat before and got beat. The national committee, not scheduled to vote for another week.
And another tidbit that may be your post script to the 2004 campaign. Or a warning shot for 2008. She's just Teresa Heinz again. The "Washington Times" quoting an invitation to an event staged by the National Council for Research on Women as quote "A conversation with Teresa Heinz." Not Teresa Heinz Kerry, the name she used throughout the presidency. It's not a typo. The paper says there are several such references to her throughout the invitation and it quotes a spokeswoman for that council as saying, "I just checked. She no longer uses her entire last name."
Also tonight, killings at small jewelry stores. Police have a suspect in custody finally. And first it was his ex-girlfriend. Now a member of Scott Peterson's family that he did not even know existed until 1997 has also written her own tell-all book about him. Those stories ahead. Now here are Countdown's top three sound bites of the day.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
UNIDENTIFED MALE: It all started here at the corner of Eighth and Spiller with a bored second grader waiting for his bus in a very frigid cold - what did you decide to do?
AUSTIN TOLBERT, FROZE TONGE TO POLE: To see if it would stick to the pole.
_UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would stick?_
TOLBERT: My tongue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did it feel like when your tongue came off the pole?
TOLBERT: It felt like a lion bit it.
JAY LENO, TALK SHOW HOST: Isn't Vice President Cheney supposed to be watching his cholesterol? Did you see what he was munching on last night? Well show the footage.
BUSH: Independent democratic state - to promote democracy, I will ask Congress for $250 million to support the Palestinian political, economic and .
With the lower rate of return, the lower you get. And people are expert at managing this in the private sector. Listen, I could stand here all day long answering questions but I'm not. I have to go back and have dinner with first lady Laura bush and I can't wait. Thank you all for coming.
OLBERMANN: After a series of owners of small jewelry stores are murdered, police finally think they have the suspect tonight. And a serial killer from years' gone by now sending bizarre messages to a local television station and now asking about the newscasters' health. Stand by.
OLBERMANN: Crime has forever been a staple of news. Here we try to raise the bar slightly higher than the tabloid tradition. So in the number two story on the Countdown tonight, crimes within crimes. Profiteering in the Scott Peterson case, bizarre postcards from the edge of madness, and first, the apprehension of the suspect in the case of the serial jewel thief who became a serial murderer. Our correspondent on that story is Carl Quintanilla.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Arrested on the balcony of an Atlantic City motel, Christopher DiMayo (ph), his allege killing spree now at an end. Police believe it was he who walked into several Long Island jewelry stores, claiming to be shopping for an engagement ring, only to pull a gun and steal hundreds of thousands in jewels.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I absolutely think he is a dangerous guy. The way he pulled out the gun. The way he start threatening.
QUINTANILLA: The known parole violator is suspected of robbing four jewelry stores and killing three owners. Including Timothy Donnelly and his wife.
TOMO MORTELLI, VICTIM'S FRIEND: There couldn't be a better guy and his wife was sweet. He had a little mom and pop shop.
QUINTANILLA: The case brought a chill to those small stores which often can't afford their own armed security. Victims say they still remember his piercing blue eyes and the stolen SUC in which he speeds away.
DET LT. DENNIS FARRELL, NASSAU COUNTY POLICE: The physical description, the way he goes about things, the things he says. In almost every case, it is identical.
QUINTANILLA: At least one store manager may have tried to resist him.
Thomas Renisson (ph), a father of two, shot repeatedly, and killed.
CHRIS POLKER, CHILDHOOD FRIEND: He was trying to be helpful even to the gentleman who took his life.
QUINTANILLA: DiMayo (ph) was apprehended after an hour of negotiations with authorities. Officials expected to be arraigned this weekend. For Countdown, Carl Quintanilla, NBC News, New York.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
OLBERMANN: And in Kansas, a grim real life echo from that cynical
criticism often heard of police in cases like this. They couldn't catch a
cold. The so-called BTK killer, or someone claiming to be him, sending
another post card to a newscast operation in Wichita with an unusual
reference to the health of the newscasters. KAKE TV, a local affiliate
there, "Sorry about Susan and Jeff's colds." The man writes. Referring to anchors Susan Peters and Jeff Herndon who had mentioned their colds on a recent newscast. He also thanks them for their quick response on numbers seven and eight. His count of the number of messages he has sent them. Eight unsolved murders linked to BTK, that was the acronym for bind, torture, kill, spanned a 12-year period ending in 1986. But the new correspondence began just last March.
And the Scott Peterson murder trial may be over but its tawdriness lingers on. Peterson's half sister, Anne Byrd, the latest author to cash in on the story. The title leaving little doubt about her take on the case. "Blood Brother. 33 Reasons 90 Brother Scott Peterson Is Guilty." Set for release on March 1, 10 days before his sentencing. From the same publisher who brought you the Amber Frye memoirs.
And more than the obvious family strife may have been at its genesis, Miss Byrd was given up for adoption at birth and reunited with her biological mother, Jackie Peterson in 1997. Scott Peterson was convicted in November for the murder of his wife and unborn child, with the jury's recommendation of the death penalty.
We segue to our nightly round up of entertainment and celebrity news, keeping tabs with two sad good-byes. Ossie Davis has died. Actor, activist, producer for nearly 66 years much he was found dead in his hotel room in Miami Beach. Evidently of natural causes. He was shooting another film there. Davis made three films with Spike Lee. He was in "Grumpy Old Men,: in television he was in "Roots, the next generation." He also read the eulogies for Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. He often appeared in character in public policy venues alongside list wife Ruby D. They were married 56 years. Ossie Davis was 87.
And his name will hardly be as immediately recognizable. But his most popular character will be. John Vernon has also died. He was Dean Warmer in the classic "Animal House." "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son." Vernon said he had lost count how many times people had asked him to read that famous line into their telephone answering machines. John Vernon had a 50-year career in film and TV. He was also a heavy in movies like "Dirty Harry" and the "Outlaw Josie Wales" and extraordinarily he began as the voice of big brother in the original movie version of George Orwell's "1984." John Vernon died Tuesday of complications from heart surgery in Los Angeles. He was 72.
And with all that sadness, forgive us if we indulge in a little local joy and welcome a new member to the MSNBC family. Hunter James Cale (ph) joined us at 2:38 p.m Eastern. His father, Jim, has been a technical director on Countdown, his mother Rainy (ph) is listed as an executive assistant to one of our vice presidents, but between you and me, she actually runs the place. As Jim Warren, deputy managing editor of the "Chicago Tribune" and frequent guest on this show and this network put it, "after all those years of holding the hands of ego crazy males here, Rainy deserved a girl. On the other hand, she is now totally prepared to handle an infant boy." I resemble that remark! All our love to Rainy, Jim and Hunter. And Hunter, you're due in for your shift tomorrow at 3:00.
Nobody here to hold my hand now. Our news quiz, what have we learned? For me, it is like a trip to the dentist who believes not in Novocain. Or like two seconds with Ann Coulter. Pretty much the same thing, huh? It's next.
OLBERMANN: We end our week as we always do with the public pig sticking in which I rake my short-term memory to see if there's anything in there besides dirt. Your questions, my brain freeze. Every one I get wrong, there's another 50 fish for charity. We should call it "let's hunt and wound Keith." Instead, we gave it the title of .
_ANNOUNCER: "What Have We Learned?"_
OLBERMANN: Before I turn it over to the emcee, a little housekeeping. The last time I played, said emcee told me twice my answers were wrong. I protested. Afterwards the judges reviewed the tape and sided with me. I didn't lose the last game four wrong to two rights, I won five right to two wrong. Nevertheless, I will still pony up $200 even though the rules say I only have to make it $100. That's just the kind of guy I am. My point made, I turn it over now to the emcee, Monica Novotny who is on probation. Hiya.
MONICA NOVOTNY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I don't think the judges ruled that official probation, I think it's just detention. We'll begin by reminding our viewers, if you'd like to take the official MSNBC news quiz, you'll find it on our Web site at email@example.com [link].
Our rules are as follows. I'll ask a series of your viewer questions. If Mr. "I know who Deep Throat is" answers at least half correctly, he wins a prize. For every wrong answer incorrectly, he doles out $50 to charity as you just heard. So, I think you're ready?
OLBERMANN: In honor of Mr. Vernon, we'll call it double secret detention. OK. Go ahead.
NOVOTNY: Number one, two minutes on the clock please from Jan in California, who is God's athlete?
OLBERMANN: God's athlete is Pope John Paul II.
NOVOTNY: Indeed. Number two from Marsha in Maryland. When pope was taken to the hospital, with what was he initially diagnosed?
OLBERMANN: Um, laryngeal tracheal - it was a spasm of the larynx,.
NOVOTNY: Indeed, I'll give that you. Number three .
OLBERMANN: You'll give it to me because once again, it was correct.
NOVOTNY: The judges would have accepted breathing crisis. Name President Bush's recent prediction as to the date of the collapse of Social Security.
OLBERMANN: It's going to go bust in 2042.
NOVOTNY: From Angela in North Dakota, what city hosted the first stop in president Bush's Social Security tour?
OLBERMANN: Great Falls, Nebraska.
NOVOTNY: Fargo, North Dakota.
OLBERMANN: All right There's .
NOVOTNY: She was from North Dakota.
OLBERMANN: That's it.
NOVOTNY: Cheryl. Why was Tammy Jean Warner of Lake Jackson, Texas charged with criminally negligent homicide?
OLBERMANN: She gave her - she helped her husband drink via an enema.
Gave him two bottles of sherry. She gave him a sherry enemy and he died.
NOVOTNY: Yes, a sherry hari kiri.
OLBERMANN: I'll have that to go please.
NOVOTNY: What television program was Ann Coulter latest venue for, I believe you called it public self humiliation.
OLBERMANN: It was a Canadian public broadcasting company. Bob McKeown the host. The name of the program was "Let's Hunt and Wound Ann Coulter."
NOVOTNY: That is not the name. "The Fifth Estate."
OLBERMANN: ""The Fifth Estate".
NOVOTNY: Kelly Anne from Brooklyn wants to know, what was name of the "Postcards from Buster" episode featuring the same-sex couple.
_OLBERMANN: "Sugar Time!"_
NOVOTNY: "Sugar Time!" What is the new world record for most consecutive hours playing the piano?
OLBERMANN: Three? I don't know.
NOVOTNY: 54 hours,. That was from Donna from Phoenix.
What was the product discussed with Dave Attell, the beverage?
OLBERMANN: That was the wonderful B to the E, the beer with caffeine in it.
NOVOTY: Yes, that's the one.
NOVOTNY: Name the town in Louisiana that finally got telephone service this week?
NOVOTNY: Yes. We are out of time. Oh you win!
OLBERMANN: I think I did well tonight. Didn't I?
NOVOTNY: Oh yeah, we'll be hearing about it all week. Can't wait for that.
_OLBERMANN: Seven out of ten?_
NOVOTNY: Seven out of ten.
OLBERMANN: There's three wrong. We were at $400 in charity. All that really matters is there's three wrong answers, $50 apiece. So it's $550 that now I owe to charity.
NOVOTNY: You're getting good at that whole math thing.
We've got a prize for you.
OLBERMANN: For that, you're fired.
NOVOTNY: You're indicted. All right, look. Spongebob. He wants to thank you for your support.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Spongebob. I appreciate it there. OK.
NOVOTNY: Thank goodness it's Friday.
OLBERMANN: And you know what Friday is here in the office. It's Spongebob Friday.
We unfortunately do not have to go to the judges again this week, lucking for the emcee. Tune in next time if there is a next time and she's still the emcee, when again we play.
_ANNOUNCER: "What have we learned?"_
OLBERMANN: That's Countdown, thank you for being part of it. I'm Keith Olbermann. Ordinarily I destroy the prize on Friday not but I'm not going to do it. So I'll just say goodnight and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END