'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for April 5
Guest: Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, John Timoney, Park Dietz, Connie Correia Fisher
ALISON STEWART, GUEST HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? A line of epic proportions in Vatican City as the faithful descend upon St. Peter's. Crowds, crying and choreographed security. President Bush is there, Jimmy Carter is not. Was the ex-president snubbed by the White House?
The Jackson trial. Say what? Confirmed reports of jurors overheard mocking the testimony of a witness claiming he was molested by Jackson.
The warden's wife: kidnapped by an inmate at her husband's prison finally found 11 years later. And, uh, yeah, she's still living with her captor.
And the raging patent battle before a federal court today all over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDD NELSON, ACTOR: PB & J with the crusts cut off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Which side will choosy judge choose?
All that and more now on Countdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NELSON: This is a very nutritious lunch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: And good evening to you. Keith Olbermann is on vacation. I am Alison Stewart.
On Monday April 18, 16 days after the passing of the most influential pontiff of the 21st Century, today one step closer to finding his successor. Our 5th story in the Countdown tonight, the conclave, when translated literally means with key, as in under lock and key. And the sequestered cardinals will begin the serious process of choosing a new pontiff.
And the key of another sort turned today, the pope's will was read first to the cardinals. The message humble, spiritual and sentimental: just three of the traits of the man who has brought millions of mourners jamming the squares and streets of the Vatican for Friday's funeral. Former president Jimmy Carter, he won't be one of them. More on that in a moment.
First, what was remarkable, even unprecedented yesterday, has today become overwhelming. Vatican officials forced to stop additional mourners from lining up tonight - 10:00 p.m. in Rome - because there is not enough time for them to view the pontiff's body by Thursday at 10:00 p.m. when the public procession must cease. The line is so long and massive it can be seen from space. The satellite image showing mourners as the line snakes through the city. The public viewing slowed for about 15 minutes today for President Bush and his delegation who arrived directly from the airport.
And the pope's last will and testament read before the cardinal today, will be made public tomorrow. It's 15 pages, written at intervals over the entire span of John Paul II's papacy. It's described as a largely spiritual document, which leaves the pontif's few earthly possessions to his closest aides whom the pope described as his family.
Our correspondent, Chris Jansing joins us again from St. Peter's Square where she has been reporting since last week. Chris, the pictures show the story, but I am so sure that there's a whole other level being there on that line with those people. Fill us in.
CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It's unlike anything that I have ever experienced. And I have talked to, to many, many reporters, many people who, who live in Rome, no one has ever experienced anything like this.
In spite of the fact that they closed the line down just about 4 hours ago, anyone who wanted to get on line to see the pope was turned away, there still probably more than a million people, so many, it's hard for police to get estimates. The waiting, up to 24 hours, in fact. They were making announcements, they were sending text messages on cell phones in Italian cell phone companies telling people, stay away from the city center.
One of the city officials said the city center just can't hold any
more people. And yet when you talk to the people on line, they weren't
complaining, they had no regrets about it, and in fact, when they would
come out of the basilica after waiting on line, 18, 20 hours to see the
pope for maybe, maybe a few seconds, they said that they would do it again
STEWART: But I understand that there have been some serious health issues that have come up with this mass of people standing in line for so long.
JANSING: Yes, you can understand. People are there in the heat of the day, and then in the cold of night. They have no way of getting food. You can't get out of line. So, unless they either thought to bring food or, water, they don't necessarily have anything. And in some cases, when they came, they thought the line was six hours long, nd it turned out by the time they got here to be 18 hours long. So last night, I know, the Red Cross said they treated 500 people. There was a German health agency that treated 100 people many of them for heart problems.
And I'll tell you, it really was sad to see at the front of the line -
· we were there tonight at the 18-hour mark - and people were passing out and had to be removed so you can just imagine after waiting on line for 18 hours, and then not getting in to see the pope.
We were told by by some people that, that, actually, on the steps of the basilica, a young girl, 12 or 13 they had been pouring water over her head this afternoon to try to keep her going. She wasn't feeling well. And on the steps of the basilica, she fainted, and she and her mother had to leave the line.
STEWART: Finally, of course, the U.S. delegation, the official delegation arrived today. Tell us what that was like. Who else is expected. And have there been any uptakes in security with all the heads of state headed your way?
JANSING: Yes, for the first time today, I really saw this huge noticeable change in security. There have been a lot of helicopters overhead. For the first time tonight, I saw bomb-sniffing dogs.
You are seeing a security forces with uniforms that identify them for being all over Italy. And I was, actually, outside at the time, the president, Mrs. Bush, former President Bush, President Clinton, Condoleezza Rice went inside. And they stopped all the lines at that point. Nobody at all was moving.
But this is just one small portion of what they are going to have to deal with. 70 presidents and prime ministers are coming. They have, they have four kings, five queens, two princes, just about everyone in an official capacity says this will probably end up being on Friday the largest gathering of world leaders in modern history, Alison.
STEWART: And you will be there to witness it. Chris Jansing at St.
Peter's Square, as always, many, many thanks.
Notably absent from the day's the arrival of the U.S. delegation, fromer president Jimmy Carter. President Bush and the first lady and former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton comprised four the five in the official U.S. delegation. The fifth, secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. But President Carter, who is the only U.S. president to have welcomed the pontiff to the White House wanted to be there.
Quote, "after issuing a public statement of condolences last week, President Carter expressed to the White House desire to attend the pope's funeral." Carter Center spokesperson John Moore said in a statement today, but the former president quote, "was quite willing to withdraw his request when he was subsequently informed that the official delegation would be limited to just five people, and there were others who were eager to attend." end quote.
So, the Air Force One presidential club took off without the Nobel Peace Prize winner. Whitehouse spokesperson Scott McClellan said simply, "We did reach out to him. It was his decision to make. We would have been happy for him to be part of the delegation." end quote.
But is this a big presidential diss?
STEWART: Joining me now, NBC's chief of foreign affairs' correspondent, Andrea Mitchell. Good evening to you.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening.
STEWART: There seems to be a bit of conflicting accounts about exactly what transpired between the White House and former president Jimmy Carter. So, so did the White House snub Mr. Carter or did he say, I'll take a pass?
MITCHELL: I think that, that it's more the, the former. Apparently, the White House did offer him an opportunity to go, and he was told that, that the former president, the other former presidents were not going going. And that it were only a very small group, obviously, the president, first lady, Condoleezza Rice, was also going. So, so they said that, that there wasn't really enough room.
He then said that, that he would he would demur. There obviously, is not a very good relationship between, this president and former President Carter, who has been very critical of the Bush foreign policy.
After that, then Bill Clinton decided to go and also President Bush, 41, as he's referred to.
At that point, Jimmy Carter said he wanted to go too if the other former presidents were going, but it was too late. The White House said all the seats were taken.
STEWART: Let's talk protocol here. You have the current siting secretary of state, she's the fifth wheel, we'll say. Does she trump a former president in terms of an official delegation?
MITCHELL: White House says yes, because she's the nation's top diplomat. And the Vatican is actually a state. There are diplomatic relations between the United States and Vatican City. And so as a result, they say that it is appropriate, and in fact, would be inappropriate for her not to go.
STEWART: But stil a lot of people say the former president's absence is quite glaring...
MITCHELL: It is.
STEWART: Given his relationship with the Vatican and with this pope.
Explain to people why that is.
MITCHELL: Well, they did have a good relationship. And Jimmy Carter's issues have been very much the issues of the late pope, because they both worked so hard on poverty, on issues of AIDS, third world development.
STEWART: Just to be clear, this is the official delegation, so when people are watching this at home and they see Senator Frist, that's another entire delegation, right?
MITCHELL: It is. And it's not an official delegation. In fact, Senator Frist commissioned a Pentagon plane and invited Senators and members the House. And when I asked whether they were invited, they said well, of course they were invited but there is no diplomatic invitation for this Congressional group. According to one top aide on the Republican side, they were invited to go as all pilgrims are invited to go. So their presence is out, of a much more unofficial status.
But getting back to President Carter. President Carter and Pope John Paul II had a close relationship and alliance on a lot of third world issues. And so, Jimmy Carter does feel very, very badly about not being able to go.
STEWART: Andrea Mitchell, NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent, thank you so much.
MITCHELL: Thank you.
STEWART: No court tied in the Michael Jackson trial, but of course that doesn't stop a potential bombshell development that could turn the the whole case on its head, again. This time it's not about the allegations in the case, but about the jury.
OK, we couldn't resist showing you this car chase yesterday. This guy hanging out of his car having a good time, but then this silly situation it, turned pretty dangerous pretty quickly. Why didn't the police pull this guy over sooner? We're just asking. This is Countdown on MSNBC.
STEWART: OK, so your called to testify that an international superstar got a little too friendly with you. Because it's not hard enough to talk about the time Michael Jackson may have played inappropriate tickle games in front of the man, himself, and his fans, and 1,000 or so reporters waiting to broadcast all the details. Let's add another hurdle, shall we? The jury thinks it's hilarious.
Our 4th story on the Countdown tonight, you know the drill, day 506 of the Michael Jackson investigation, and reports today that as many as two jurors were heard making fun of, this 24-year-old accuser.
NBC News confirming reports that three reporters standing outside the jury room on Monday overheard comments they believe were made by a juror, quote, "oh, boo-hoo, Michael Jackson tickled me." end quote. That followed by the laughter of what was presumed to be other members of the jury.
Judge Rodney Melville has apparently been made aware of this potential jury misconduct, but at this moment, according to the court administrator, there are no plans for an investigation.
This is a really good time to turn to Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, a prominent jury consultant and the author of the book "Reading People." Jo-Ellan, any thoughts on whether this should be investigated or not?
JO-ELLAN DIMITRIUS, JURY CONSULTANT: Well, I think that, certainly either side should be looking into it right now from the possibility - if I were the prosecution, I would be looking into it because, because at the end of every day, in any court case, the judge tells the jurors he admonishes them not to talk about the case to their fellow jurors or to anyone else.
So, the fact that these jurors have been overheard talking about one of the witnesses would obviously, I think, perhaps on the prosecution's part, rise to the level of concern. Because clearly they are, basically, just ignoring what it is that the judges told them to do.
The defense on the other hand, may be very happy by what they are hearing right now, that a 24-year-old witness, that two of the jurors, at the least are thinking his testimony is not very credible at this point.
STEWART: Is it too early in the case to be making this sort of assumption that the juries are thinking one way or the other? Could it have just been an initial reaction to one day's testimony?
DIMITRIUS: Well, certainly, certainly it could, but one would hope that, that in, in a molestation case that whatever testimony that was coming from the witness prior to the discussion about the tickling, if it was something so egregious, the tickling would be just overlooked, I think, by the jurors. So the fact that these jurors have, have commented, at least to the point where publicly they have been heard about it, to me it would seem to indicate that at least with two of those jurors, the prosecution has some serious problems at this point.
STEWART: Now, does the judge have to entertain any sort of arguments about this?
DIMITRIUS: Um, you know, the judge has the discretion to either make the decision to do that on his own or tomorrow when everyone is back in court, if the prosecution should bring it to his attention, with whatever investigation they have done, and the judge feels that it's - excuse me, risen to a level that he needs to investigate, then we might see that happen. But at least at this point with whatever got back to the judge today, he feels it is not necessary to follow up on that.
So, the bottom line is, it's really the judge's discretion.
STEWART: In the big picture, as a jury consultant, we need to tap into your expertise here, what is that fine line between just human nature, of people who have sitting around in a room together for months, and crossing that line into impropriety as a juror?
DIMITRIUS: Well, my goodness, we were all young once, and we all had our parents say to us, no, you can't go into the cookie jar or no, you can't do a certain thing - it's human behavior to want to go against that. And particularly in a very long, high profile case, to expect that any juror is not going to talk to anyone with regards to what's happening in the case, I think it's a bit of a ludicrous assumption. So, I think it's safe to say that, if not this situation, there may be other situations that have already occurred or will occur during the testimony that the jurors give some sort of reaction to one another about about what they are thinking at this point.
I mean, they are, expected by the court and the media to be these kind of poker faces. And I think that it's just totally unrealistic that any juror would be put into that situation.
STEWART: Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, a jury consultant and author of "Reading People," thank you so much for weighing in.
DIMITRIUS: Thanks very much.
STEWART: With the Santa Maria courtroom dark today, the defendant was able to attend the funeral of a luminary of the legal profession: Johnnie Cochran. Thousands filled West Angeles Cathedral for the service today, among them, past celebrity clients like Michael Jackson, P. Diddy and O.J. Simpson.
Ultimately, however, the most poignant moments came when Mr. Cochran was remembered for being a champion of justice for every man.
From Los Angeles, our correspondent, Mark Mullen.
MARK MULLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Johnnie Cochran's legal accomplishments were best illustrated by the presence of his former clients who attended his funeral service: O.J. Simpson acquitted of murder.
O.J. SIMPSON, FRM. NFL RUNNING BACK: Johnnie was vital in this community long before my case.
MULLEN: And former Black Panther leader, Geronimo Pratt, whose murder conviction was overturned after spending 27 years in jail.
GERONIMO PRATT, FORMER BLACK PANTHER LEADER: I'm going to continue his life as long as I live. As long as I breathe air, Johnnie will remain alive.
JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH FOUNDATION: Before Johnnie, many able black lawyers - suffered under the imagery of the Hollywood of the caricature...
MULLEN: Not Cochran, who was remembered today for boldly taking on the system.
REV. AL SHARPTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Johnnie Cochran represented to us justice personified in the flesh and in the blood.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was an advocate that often times found himself at odds with my profession, but we stood on common ground, in that we wanted things done the right way.
MULLEN: In song and in speeches, friends and family praised Cochran for never avoiding controversial cases. He got heat for representing white truck driver Reginal Denny, severely beaten by black men. And also for representing O.J. Simpson at the trial in which Cochran coined the now famous phrase "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More people who, when stopped by police for speeding or a broken headlight, claim that Johnnie Cochran was their attorney.
MULLEN: Johnnie Cochran, who died at 67 from a brain tumor, has a rich legacy. The acclaim that goes to someone who successfully represented celebrities and the respect that is bestowed on someone who also represented ordinary people who had no voice.
Mark Mullen, NBC, Los Angeles.
STEWART: A missing Warden's wife, a missing inmate, the decade long mystery is over with the two of them found together. Actually, living together, helping raise chickens in Texas. We'll discuss.
And a break from the serious news of the day for the news that can amuse, "Oddball" is next. It's an iceberg, and that's no head of lettuce.
STEWART: I am Alison Stewart, handling the controls while Keith is on vacation. It is time once again to take a break from the serious news, if you consider the Jackson trial serious news, and go to the segment that four out of five dentists agree is mostly stupid, including my sister, Dr. Lisa Stewart-Chris (ph), DDS. Let's play "Oddball."
We begin in Antarctica where the world's biggest iceberg is on the move again. Where is it going? When will it get there? Is it having a good time? Is it sending post-cards? At this point, scientists will only say that Iceberg B-15 is headed in, "the right direction." Alrighty then. The 100 mile iceberg is the size of New York's Long Island and is moving at the speed of nearly 1 kilometer a day. It had run aground months ago in Antarctica blocking shipping lanes and penguin trails. Where it will end up next is anybody's guess. Stay tuned to "Oddball" on this slow breaking story.
To the town of Eldorado proves that everything is bigger in Texas, even the compound for polygamist religious sects are huge. These are aerial shots of the 2,000 acres recently purchased by Utah's Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints, which preaches man and wife, and wife, and wife, and wife, and wife.
The whole group is moving to Eldorado. The sect lives a secluded lifestyle. So, the enormous temple and housing units will have none of the latest state of the art amenities, like TV, radio, or that Internet.
And finally, to the valley of the King in Egypt, we are here among the shadows of the ancient pyramids. One man has come to fulfill a life-long dream to balance a pool coup on his finger and walk seven miles with it. It's Ashrita Furman, the New York health food store owner, who also owns so many Guinness World Records, that one of them is the world record for the most world records.
This time, he smashed the previous distance mark with a - pool coup by more than three kilometers, but he traveled all the way to Egypt to do it, which is probably some kind of record in itself.
Rock on. A long time Texas drama has been solved, the case of the missing warden's wife. She's now home safe and sound with her family, but there is some big questions about her life on the run with a prison inmate.
And this chase in California certainly served to entertain us yesterday. But when the shenanigans turned into high speeds on the freeway, it left us wondering, why didn't the police stop this all sooner?
Those stories ahead, but first here are Countdown's "Top 3 Newsmakers" of the day.
Number three, British book makers, William Hill. They are now taking bets on what mishap will next befall the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles. Odds are 33 to one that Camilla will stand up to Charles on the wedding day, 25 to one that Prince Williams will lose the wedding rings, and 10,000 to one that aliens will land during the ceremony. And we're not making that up.
Number two, Jason Arnold and James Benton of Churchill, Tennessee, they were arrested just minutes after breaking into a mobile home dealership to steal a refrigerator. Local police were already in position when the master criminals made the move, because they knew the duo's whole plan. They had listened to the two geniuses plan the burglary for 40 minutes after one of them accidentally dialed 911 on the cell phone in his pocket.
And number one, Los Angeles area Star Wars' geeks, they began lining up Saturday outside Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood to get a really good seat to the premiere of the next star wars as films, "Episode III, Revenge of the Sith." Two little problems, the movie doesn't open for another 43 days, and apparently, it's not be playing a Grauman's Chinese Theater.
STEWART: As authorities swept in on the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Texas mobile home, that's where they met an unexpected sight. The fugitive they sought for more than a decade quietly sitting in front of the TV watching the winning putt being sunk in the Bell South Classic.
Our third story on the Countdown tonight, Randolph Dial, a convicted murderer whose life story was unremarkable until the day he escaped and took a prison warden's wife with him. That is a lifetime movie waiting to happen.
Until then, our correspondent, Jim Cummins is in Dallas with the details.
JIM CUMMINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was a sculptor and painter, but Randolph Dial was also a convicted murder. Thirteen years into a life sentence at an Oklahoma state prison, Dial was awarded trustee status for good behavior. His new privilege, run an inmate pottery program with Bobbi Parker, the young wife of deputy warden wife Randy Parker. In August of 1994, Trustee Dial was working in Bobbi Parker's garage when the two of them disappeared without a trace. Police assume Bobbi was kidnapped. A year later, her husband was still distraught.
RANDY PARKER, DEPUTY WARDEN: When I go to bed at night, just - I never quit thinking about bobby, ever.
CUMMINS: The two of them had gone missing for almost 11 years before police caught up with Dial in east Texas following a tip from the TV show "America's Most Wanted." Bobbi Parker was also found alive and OK.
SALVADOR HERNANDEZ, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: They found him there, and they found Bobbi Parker a short time later working at a nearby chicken farm.
CUMMINS: She told police she stayed with Dial all this time out of fear for her family. The FBI believes her.
HERNANDEZ: It appears now that this was, in fact, a true kidnapping and that she was held against her will for this period. That he had done some psychological persuasion on her to insure that she stayed there.
CUMMINS: Today Bobbi Parker is back with her family, convicted murderer, Randolph Dial, is headed back to prison.
Jim Cummins, NBC News, Dallas.
STEWART: Dial, himself, compared the situation with Bobbi Parker to Stockholm syndrome saying, "She was living under the impression if she ever tried to get away I would make her regret it."
Dr. Park Dietz is a forensic psychiatrist, who's consulted on numerous high profile cases. Dr Dietz, thanks for joining us.
DR. PARK DIETZ, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: My pleasure.
STEWART: As we mentioned in that the report, the authorities seem to believe Mrs. Parker's story that she was held against her will all this time. What do you make this far case? Is it as unusual as it seems?
DIETZ: Well, I have more questions than answers. It certainly is very unusual for someone to be held captive that long. And it's possible for someone to be intimidated into not escaping when they have a chance to. But it's not a very likely story, which is why the public is so skeptical.
STEWART: So tell us about this notion of Stockholm syndrome. We hear it thrown around a lot. What exactly is it?
DIETZ: Well, really, it's the tendency of people to fend off their fear of being harmed by identifying with someone whose being hostile to them, taking the point of view of their captor, and sometimes even supporting their captors after they're freed. This has happened in a number of hostage situations, but to have it go on this long, this successfully would be most unusual.
STEWART: So, what is the psychological of the idea that Mrs. Parker, she had a job of the property, she could easily have gone into town and got groceries. Why wouldn't she pick up the phone, especially since she had children?
DIETZ: If you assume that she was, was a naive young woman when she was first taken, and if you assume that there were credible threats made against her, by Dial, then she could, indeed, be terrorized into not making an escape when it was possible. Often we see this with youngsters, it's not so common among adults that they're going to believe that sort of threat. You'd think married to a warden, she'd know that law enforcement would rush to her aid and he'd be immediately locked up.
STEWART: Well, let's look forward a little bit. Now that she's been reunited with her family, how likely is it that she'll be able to return to a normal life after an experience like this?
DIETZ: Well, the experience is going to place a great strain on her relationship with her family, of course. But perhaps, the biggest problem in returning to the normal life is going to be the intrusion of the press over the next month or so. Because that's going to prevent them from having any privacy and trying to work this out themselves. There will be a lot of pressure to go on TV, to give statements, and it's going to make it hard for them to adjust initially.
STEWART: And Dr. Dietz, I know there are people at home saying, frankly, this doesn't sound right. This doesn't make any kind of sense, that this woman would remain with her captivator this long, especially when she had kids. Is it too dramatic that think that she may have developed feelings for this man?
DIETZ: Well, that certainly a possibility. Of course, it's every inmate's fantasy to runaway with the warden's pretty young wife. And conceivably, that happened here. but only they know, and it will take some time for the investigation to be completed. It's not at all unlikely that even if she were taken against her will initially, that she came to see him as more of a human and to become more sympathetic to him over time.
STEWART: Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz, thank you for helping us see all angles on the story.
DIETZ: Thank you.
STEWART: A bizarre scene in a Chicago courtroom this afternoon. White supremacist Matthew Hale was sentenced to 40 years in prison. He was convicted a year ago for teaming to solicit the murder of U.S. District Joan Lefkow. His name came to prominence after the murders of that same judge's husband and mother five weeks ago. Although, at one point considered a suspect, Hale was not connected to the killings.
Today's proceedings marked by lengthy often rambling two-hour speech by Hale, in which he declared himself the victim and recited lines from the "National Anthem." The judge was unmoved, imposing the maximum sentence.
A moment of craziness could quickly turn into a moment of tragedy. a bizarre car chase in L.A. leads to the question, why didn't the police step in before things got dangerous, and others' lives were at risk?
And later, the great American staple, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It meets the American court system - this is no joke. We'll explain.
Those stories ahead, but here are the Countdown's "Top 3 Soundbytes" of this day.
Twelve millimeter rods, 8,000 pounds of glass, and a lot of patience.
Craig's dream is finally taking shape.
CRAIG COLOUHOUN: My dream was to recreate the Kentucky Derby.
STEWART: With 5,000 spectators in the stands, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in derby hats, with plenty of bubbly, the project earned him a nickname.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coggie Craiggy (ph)!
P. DIDDY, ENTERTAINER: And I didn't mean to get myself into this situation, you know. So, I had one call. And so, I called - I called Johnnie. And I begged him to please come get me out of jail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator McCain has been at this event many years. I apologize for the lack of live pigs. We do have Porky, however. So he'll have to grunt and do all the other things.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Thank you, Tom. It certainly isn't the same without our dear friends munching away in the corner. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) - there they are, thank God.
STEWART: Still ahead, stopping car chases and stealing vital secrets of the perfect PB&J sandwich. The courts are considering this weighty issue, and so are we.
STEWART: Work in the Countdown newsroom ground to a halt yesterday afternoon when a man clad in a purple silk boxing rope led police on a surreal hour-long car chase that ended up, I'm not making this up, at Doughnut World.
We first brought you this bit of manna from the television gods in yesterday's "Oddball," and in tonight's No. 2 story on the Countdown, we ask, why didn't the police stop this guy when he was going five miles an hour and already halfway out of the car? First, we recap. Our purple-caped crusader, who we now know to be Michael Tang (ph), took to the California streets where he started out, slowly, and it looked like the part car-chase, strip-tease, dance-party, all spectacle, with a growing number of black-and-whites trailing behind. There's a lot of them. But when he got the chance, Tang hit the freeway and the slow speed chase turned into a considerably faster one. He hung his now signature purple robe from the driver's side window, and at one point hit 90 miles per hour.
22 miles later, he either used up all his best moves or had a hankering for a glaze, because Tang pulled into the local Doughnuts World, and stepped out to face the one-two punch of pepper spray and tasers. Ee-yah! He's facing charges of vandalism and evading arrest.
Joining us now to talk about the car chase rules of engagement is Miami Police Chief John Timoney. Chief, thanks for being with us.
CHIEF JOHN TIMONEY, MIAMI POLICE DEPT: My pleasure, Alison. I think.
STEWART: You think.
I love a man with a sense of humor.
First of all, from a police standpoint, could the police have arrested him earlier when he was creeping along?
TIMONEY: Well, clearly, you know, but the problem is, this guy is clearly a whack job, and so the tendency of the police seeing whack jobs is to kind of lay off them, let them go through their little act and then hopefully they will get their satisfaction, their five minutes of fame and they will give up quietly.
There is always the possibility, if you try and rush them or try and overtake them, that he will get excited and take off. It's not an exact science - I am sure the officers discussed, when are we going to grab this guy, but as you saw on the tape, once you get to the freeway, all bets are off and the guy, in fact, does take off, and so, clearly they are second-guessing it, but I'm not second-guessing the officers. It's a difficult situation.
STEWART: I just got to know - is a "whack job" an official police term?
TIMONEY: In the East Coast, it is, regarding West Coast drivers.
STEWART: All right. In all seriousness, what is the basic protocol when it comes to a car chase? What is the priority?
TIMONEY: Well, the priority is - you usually have, have one lead car, and the secondary car, and one supervisor car calling the shots. In L.A., and out west, because there is so many helicopters, if it gets dangerous, then the helicopters take over, and if he gets into a cul-de-sac, a parking lot or a traffic jam, then they call in the ground units, and so they have it pretty much down to a science out there.
I know Bill Bratton, the L.A. chief, has got a very strict guidelines regarding pursuit policies, and most of the time, they work. In this case, here, you know, it starts off very strange, and as you said, it ends up very strange at a doughnuts store.
STEWART: Now, do most drivers give up?
TIMONEY: The vast majority do give up and what we remind - what we train our police officers is, in making the judgment, if you are going to engage in a pursuit, does the, the danger of causing an accident outweigh the danger of this guy getting away? Sometimes we'll call off the pursuit if it's just a traffic infraction and let the guy get away. As we say, you know, we will get them another day. It all depends. You have to weigh all those factors in a serious fashion, and there's always a supervisor present, either underground or in the regular dispatch room, calling the shots, and in my department, at least, after five minutes, a supervisor may, in fact, call it off.
STEWART: Of course, obviously, we are all laughing at this, but this could have easily gone wrong, very easily, right?
TIMONEY: It could. By the way, you never quite know, you know. This is like some guy acting up, you know, at a Dodger game or a Mets game. They go out and make buffoons of themselves out in the field, and then you go out and you grab them. Sometimes they wind up assaulting a security guard, and what looks like a prank or an innocent joke early on turns into something more serious.
STEWART: Miami Police Chief, John Timoney, we thank you so much for helping us out.
TIMONEY: Alison, good to see you. Thank you.
STEWART: Our nightly roundup of celebrity and entertainment news begins sadly as it sometimes does with word that Prince Rainier III died this morning at the hospital treating him for heart, kidney, and breathing problems. Prince Rainier's health had been failing for years, but during his long reign as monarch, he worked to modernize and clean up the tiny principality of Monaco, once known as the sunny place for shady people. Its famous casino closed at the news of his death today.
But Prince Rainier is, perhaps, best known for his romance with Grace Kelly, the 25-year-old American movie star he met at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955. They married a year later and had three children before she tragically died in a car accident in 1982. He never remarried. The prince's funeral will be held on April 15 at the cathedral where he and Princess Grace were married. Prince Rainier was 81 years old.
The HBO series "The Sopranos" was such a big hit for the actors on it that many of them seemed to have taken on their TV personas. Some of them even go by their character's names in real life so maybe it's not so shocking that the man who played Big you-know, has been charged with beating up his girlfriend in public. Vincent Pastore turned him into a New York cops yesterday and was charged with four - four - counts of assault and harassment for the Saturday night fight with his fiancee Lisa Regina.
According to the police, the incident took place inside the actor's car while parked in the little Italy section of New York. Pastore is accused of punching her, slamming her face into the gear shift and dragging her out of the car. If found guilty, he could face a maximum of a year in prison.
It is, perhaps, the sandwich, for the ages. Bread, peanut butter, and jelly, a simple recipe headed down through the years now in the middle of a very complicated legal battle. Our No. 1 story is next.
STEWART: Which is more American, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or a legal fight over a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Our No. 1 story tonight, an American lunch box essential has its day in federal court. The jelly company Smuckers says their Uncrustable sandwich deserves the protection of a government patent. The new-fangled sandwich concoction is made up of good old-fashioned peanut butter, Smuckers jelly, and white bread with the crusts cut off. Sound familiar? Our correspondent Pete Williams reports the U.S. Trademark Office thought so, too.
PETE WILLIAMS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: It's an American staple, and as these school children demonstrate, made about as many ways as there are lunch boxes. The classic is on white bread, but it could be on wheat, or rye, toasted, with crust or without. With bananas. You can put peanut butter on just one slice, jelly on the other, or, and most important, jelly in middle and peanut butter on both slices.
It turns out, that's the way Smuckers makes them, sold as a product called Uncrustables. The company claims it needs U.S. government protection for the way it keeps its famous jelly from leaking out.
How? Surround the jelly completely by peanut butter, then put that on two piece of bread, cut off the crusts and crimp the edges together. Smuckers actually has a patent on the peanut butter shield to stopping the jelly from soaking into the bread, unlike a sandwich with peanut butter on just one side which gets soggy when the jelly gets through. And taking the crust off turns out to be very big with a certain demographic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like it because it has no crust, and sometimes you can microwave it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It tastes just like a regular sandwich only the crust is off.
WILLIAMS: But Smuckers was in court today because the government doesn't think the company really has built a better jam trap, and doesn't think the patent should be extended. Putting the jelly inside the peanut butter, the U.S. trademark office now says, would have been obvious for one of ordinary skill. Some legal scholars say it's not exactly an atomic secret.
PROF. CHRISTINE HAIGHT FARLEY, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Is it obvious to cut the crust off a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? That's the plain way of stating the legal problem.
WILLIAMS: But Smuckers says it has invested in the idea and the technology, and marketing experts say the company has a point.
ADAM HANFT, MARKETING EXPERT: It's a big business for them. It's unique. They're entitled to own it.
WILLIAMS: So, now onto the food court, with the fate of the patented Pb & J in the hands of federal judges.
Pete Williams, NBC news, Washington.
STEWART: Peanut butter shield - just a sentence I didn't think I'd hear today. Joining me now to lend her culinary expertise in the debate is Connie Correia Fisher, author of the cookbook "PB&J USA," and self-proclaimed peanut butter and jelly enthusiast, and more importantly, the mother of a 3-year-old.
Connie, thank you for being with us here tonight.
CONNIE CORREIA FISHER, AUTHOR "PB&J USA": Thank you for having me.
STEWART: All right, as far as the PB&J issue, as a connoisseur, do you think Smuckers has come up with something completely unique and patent-worthy or is this too cheeky to be believed?
FISHER: Yes, I don't think they've built a better sandwich. I remember as a kid having the crust cut off and having it crimped, and I even think the peanut butter between the jelly is not that unique.
STEWART: So, that's not really a peanut butter shield?
FISHER: Well, I like a soggy peanut butter and jelly sandwich, so I wouldn't mind if mine got a little, little wet.
STEWART: Now, I know you've written several other cookbooks, and, as a writer, I want to get your take on the name Uncrustables. Personally - the word "crust" in a title, I don't know...
FISHER: If I was six? Probably. But my mom always said all the vitamins were in the crust, so I - as a mom, I think you should keep the crust on, and it's not the most appealing name.
STEWART: The actual patent for peanut butter goes all the way back to 1895. In terms of peanut butter and jelly, do you know how the two met?
FISHER: They were first found in the rations for soldiers in World War II. So, the government's been packaging them for quite a long time. They last a long time, they're easy to pack, and they're economical, so it's a great food.
STEWART: Well, what is it about it that makes it so universally loved? I have to fess up - I had PB & J for breakfast this morning.
FISHER: See, you make good choices. I think it's cause it sticks to the roof of your mouth. You know, it's nostalgic. You remember it as a kid. You probably made it with your mom and dad when you were little and as an adult, it still tastes great.
STEWART: Well, one thing about, as an adult, I think is really interesting - down the street from my house there's an entire restaurant devoted to PB&J. It's gotten a sort of gourmet new image. Why is that?
FISHER: Because it's a classic, and classics just beg to be redefined over and over. That's the cool thing about a PB&J - it's very open to personal interpretation. I like mine with bacon and grilled onions. That's not classic but it's good.
STEWART: I'm writing that down. Have you tried an Uncrustable?
FISHER: I've tried one. I prefer the classic.
FISHER: I do. I have to say.
STEWART: What's the issue?
FISHER: It doesn't taste to me like a peanut butter and jelly. It tastes like a baked good. I can understand the convenience factor, but it doesn't take very long to just make a real PB&J sandwich.
STEWART: Connie Correia Fisher, author of "PBJ USA" cookbook, thank you so much for joining us.
And, am I the only one who thinks this thing - can we get a shot of this - looks a little bit like a breast implant? I just had to say it.
On that note, we'll end the Countdown. Thank you for watching, I'm Alison Stewart in for Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END