'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for August 4
Guest: Linda Sanchez, Savannah Guthrie, Mo Rocca
ALISON STEWART, HOST: An unwelcome video greeting. Osama's lieutenant talks terror. He pledges more attacks in London, and issues an ultimatum for the U.S., }
Get out of Iraq, or face a situation worse than Vietnam. The president of the United States says the terrorist's stark vision will not win.
Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The tale of the tape, home video from al Qaeda's number two man. Zawahiri's statements attack Blair and Bush, but what does they mean for the war on terror?
This, while London beefs up its police presence, and the insurgency (INAUDIBLE) up its attacks on Iraq.
Houston, there's no problem. NASA greenlights the return to earth and finally tells "Discovery"'s crew to stand down.
Baseball's black eye. Oh, there's the steroid use, but there may also be perjury charges. Congress looking into whether Rafael Palmeiro lied to them when he testified last March.
And good grief, Charlie Brown, move over, Snoopy, here comes Snuppy.
Cloning now hits man's best friend.
All that and more, now on Countdown.
And good evening to you. I'm Alison Stewart. Keith Olbermann is still on vacation.
Four weeks after the first London terror attack, one day after a particularly deadly attack on U.S. troops, a new message and renewed threat from al Qaeda.
Our fifth story on the Countdown, praise for the recent attacks, promises of more deaths, and a persistent demand to get out of Iraq.
In his seventh message since 9/11, Ayman al-Zawahiri directly addressed the American people, comparing the current war to Vietnam, and pledging that tens of thousands of American troops will be maimed or killed if the U.S. does not retreat.
He also suggested that London's bombings were retribution for Britain's role in the conflict. And while Zawahiri didn't take credit for the attacks, he blamed them on the British prime minister. Quote, "As for the English people, let me tell them that Blair has brought devastation upon you to the midst of London, and he will bring more of it, God willing."
And he had a message for the American people too, and an ultimatum. Quote, "What you have seen in New York and Washington, and what you are seeing from losses in Afghanistan and Iraq, in spite the concealment by the media, are just the casualties of the primary engagements. So if you continue with the same policy of aggression against the Muslims, you will see, God willing, what will make you forget the catastrophes you saw in Vietnam," end quote.
No response to his message from Tony Blair. But President Bush had this to say from his Texas ranch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The comments by the number two man of al, of al Qaeda make it clear that Iraq is a part of this war on terror, and we're at war. In other words, he's saying, you know, leave. And part of their goal is to drive us out of the broader Middle East, precisely what this Zawahiri said. In other words, he's threatening. See, they - they have come up against a nation that, one, will defend itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Britain too defending itself against further attack by countering the
biggest threat to London since World War II with the biggest police presence since World War II.
More than 6,000 officers, including 3,000 marksmen and scores of undercover policemen, are out patrolling the streets and the Tubes. It's not been exactly - it has been exactly four weeks since the first bombing attack, which killed 52 people, and two weeks since a second cell tried, and failed to copy that success.
London police are now stretched to the limit trying to prevent a third attack. Some of the officers out today were brought in from other police departments outside of the city. Others were called back from retirement, and all vacation has been canceled.
British investigators still tight-lipped about the details of the two terror attacks. Not so the New York Police Department. Mistakenly believing that British intelligence had cleared the information, the NYPD publicly itemized exactly what was in the 7/7 bombs, how they were stored, how they were detonated, and even where to find the recipe.
The explosive was not military grade, as first suspected. Instead, it was a homemade chemical compound called HMDT. It's made with hydrogen peroxide, which you can get in hair bleach, hexamine, which is found in heat tablets used for cooking, and citric acid, an easily obtainable food preservative.
The bombers stored the volatile mix in commercial refrigerators, then used cell phone alarm clocks set for 8:50 a.m. local time to detonate the three subway devices.
As for how they got the recipe for the deadly chemical compound?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAYMOND KELLY, NYPD COMMISSIONER: It appears to be low-tech. We know that you can get the formula to make HMDT on the Internet. It's probably as easy to get a formula making meatloaf.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: We're joined now by a former director of the national security staff, currently an MSNBC terrorism analyst, Roger Cressey.
Roger, nice to talk to you.
ROGER CRESSEY, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Good to se you, Alison.
STEWART: All right, all these details on how to make, store, detonate a homemade bomb, the New York police say part of the reason they shared this much information was to help educate the public. Now, isn't there a fine line between educating the public and releasing too much information?
CRESSEY: Absolutely. It's always a judgment call. How much do you release in order to give people a sense, a context, if you will, of what it is the law enforcement community's trying to deal with? And I think one message here is, if you're in a house, in an apartment building and you see someone bringing in a commercially grade refrigerator, you should call the police.
But beyond that, of course, there's not a whole lot more there beyond just conveying the seriousness of the threat, how easy it is to develop a peroxide-based explosive like HMDT. So you're right, Alison, it is a constant judgment call. It's a very fine line. And obviously, NYPD felt it was in their interests, and to the benefit of the New York metropolitan area, to release this information today.
STEWART: They realized there was some sort of error, because they apologized for releasing parts of the information, acknowledging that they thought it had been cleared by the British intelligence. Now, will the mistaken release hurt the British investigation in any way?
CRESSEY: I tend to think not. I think any investigation - or any investigators do not want any part of what they're doing released to the public until they believe the threat is completely past. That's certainly not the case right now in London. But given what was conveyed today, and what was relayed to the public, I don't think that's going to be a major problem.
What is significant, of course, is the explosives that they used. We thought these were homemade to begin with, but an HMDT composition, in fact, is even easier to do, simpler than some of the other options that are out there, such as TATP, which we thought previously was what was used.
STEWART: Let's turn to the new message from Ayman al-Zawahiri. Now, does this implicate an al Qaeda's in the London attacks?
CRESSEY: No, I don't think so. Al Zawahiri is not claiming credit directly, but what he's saying, in fact, is that these actions, not just in London but in Madrid and elsewhere, are all part and parcel of the response to what they describe as the war on Islam being conducted by the United States and its allies.
So even if this cell was not part of al Qaeda, the fact that it was inspired by al Qaeda and conducted an attack in the name of what al Qaeda's philosophy is, well, that supports the broader agenda of bin Laden and al Zawahiri. So of course they're going to associate themselves with it, they're going to link what they're saying to these type of attacks.
And frankly, that's part of their overall strategy, and it's been quite effective so far.
STEWART: Let me get your take on this. Almost every time Zawahiri releases a message, a new message, some sort of attack follows. So what are antiterror forces doing right now to combat any further attack? Or do you think perhaps it's not even an issue?
CRESSEY: Well, you'd be foolish to ignore one of these tapes as a potential go signal, given the track record we've had. In the case of London, of course, the authorities there are on the highest state of alert possible. They do believe there is another cell potentially getting ready to attack, so they're taking every step possible.
I think it's also just a very important signal for the rest of Europe and also the United States to keep in mind that when you have a type of tape like this released, there is the potential for an attack to follow, whether or not it's al Qaeda-directed or al Qaeda-inspired.
STEWART: All right, and quickly, before I let you go, there's been another terror arrest in this country, a Maryland man called Mahmoud Farooq Brent (ph). And he appears connected to other accused terrorists. Can you explain the significance of this arrest?
CRESSEY: Well, the - yes, the criminal complaint talks about one count of conspiracy. It's relatively low level. But I think it speaks to the broader issue of the federal, state, and local law enforcement, great concern about networks that are operating inside the United States. Maybe not going to actual operational plans yet, but have the training, the capability, and certainly the commitment to do so.
So rolling these people up as quickly as they can is what this is all about.
STEWART: MSNBC terrorism analyst Roger Cressey, as always, a pleasure speaking with you.
CRESSEY: OK, Alison. Take care.
STEWART: Another deadly day for U.S. troops serving in Iraq, insurgents killing four more servicemen, three soldiers in Baghdad, one Marine near the site of yesterday's deadly bombing in Haditha. That explosion, which killed 14 Marines, was strong enough to flip over their 37-ton amphibious assault vehicle. Military officers say it's another example of how insurgents are using bigger bombs to kill U.S. troops.
Twelve days ago, four soldiers died when a 500-pound bomb, the kind normally dropped from planes, exploded under their Humvee on the Baghdad airport road. At that site, insurgents also had planted smaller devices designed to kill bomb investigators when they arrived at the scene.
No word yet on the home states of the troops killed today, but all 14 Marines killed in Haditha were based in Ohio, that same state that swung the 2004 election for President Bush.
And as Carl Quintanilla reports from Ohio, the mounting body count from Iraq appears to be coinciding with a decline in the president's popularity within the Buckeye State.
CARL QUINTANILLA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Ohio, a second wave of Marines death notifications today reached the family of Lance Corporal Brett Wightman. On Monday, he left this phone message.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LANCE CPL. BRETT WIGHTMAN (on phone): Just calling to see what's going on, tell you I'm all right. Talk to you later. Bye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUINTANILLA: But 19 hours later he was killed.
PAM SAVILLE, BRETT WIGHTMAN'S MOTHER: I just met them at the door, said, I already know. And the chaplain said, It's what all the mothers say.
QUINTANILLA: Eighty-five Ohio natives have now been killed in Iraq, ranking the state fourth in the number of servicemen lost. Tim Rock's son, Nate, who was killed this week, was an ardent supporter of the war effort.
But in his Rust Belt town of Toronto, Ohio, and across the state, a majority of Ohioans, 53 percent, disapprove of the president's Iraq policy as of April.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Been watching the polls lately, and you see it slipping, and what comes to my mind is, like, wow, people are finally catching on.
QUINTANILLA (on camera): Measuring the fallout from those killed in actions delicate, some say tactless.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The world has a stake in the outcome of Iraq.
QUINTANILLA: But in a state that tipped the last presidential election, and that this week nearly awarded a congressional seat to an underdog Democrat in a safe Republican district, some analysts see early signs of a shift.
PROF. JOHN MUELLER, OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY: It's a very close state, so almost anything bad from the Republican standpoint could switch it over to the Democratic side.
BUSH: The progress in the past year has been significant.
QUINTANILLA (voice-over): Loyal Republicans in Ohio say this week's casualties, while difficult, are part of a broader mission of protecting the nation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like what we're doing is the right thing.
QUINTANILLA: That sentiment now collides with a different one.
ELEANOR MATELSKI, OHIO RESIDENT: This is getting to be ridiculous, all of our soldiers dying.
QUINTANILLA: In a political belwether state, where the fallen are no longer just names, but neighbors.
Carl Quintanilla, NBC News, Toronto, Ohio.
STEWART: Good news for the shuttle "Discovery." No more high-risk repair jobs. They have the thumb's up to return home on Monday. We'll hear from the astronauts themselves.
And just when you thought the Jackson case was over, here comes the tell-all books from the jury. OK, try out this title. "Guilty as Sin, Free as a Bird." What do you think you can read into that?
You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.
STEWART: The crew of the space shuttle "Discovery" spent the day performing scheduled experiments, and preparing for its trip back home, still basking in the kudos from yesterday's history-making spacewalk.
And in our fourth story on the Countdown, the astronauts also managed to carve out a little quality time to talk to our own Tom Costello. As to that ripped thermal blanket issue, the one near the commander's window, NASA has decided the blanket not really a problem after all.
Tom joins us again tonight from the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
TOM COSTELLO, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Alison, good evening from Houston.
We can tell you that "Discovery" has now been given a clean bill of health, "Atlantis" taken off its standby rescue status, after engineers took a very close look at all the tiles on the "Discovery," as well as the RCC panels on the leading wing edge, and also that piece of thermal protective blanket they were concerned about.
As you probably know, it's just below the flight deck window, and it ripped, it appears, on liftoff. But NASA now believes the probability of it causing any problems on reentry is rather remote.
Today I had a chance to talk to the crew of "Discovery" very early in the morning. They are waking up just before midnight East Coast time. And I started out by asking astronaut Steve Robinson about that tremendous ride he took on the arm of the space station to the belly of "Discovery."
STEVE ROBINSON, "DISCOVERY" ASTRONAUT: As I approached the belly of the orbiter, I was just all eyes. It was incredible to see this, and then kind of preflight this bird before we're going to take it home. So I was looking, I was doing my own inspection of the tiles. And it was pretty easy to pick out those gap fillers sticking out. It was a thrilling moment for me.
COSTELLO: Can you describe what it was like for you, what the physical sense is, as you step out going 17,000 miles per hour?
ROBINSON: For me, after being an astronaut for 10 years and wanting to do this, kind of one of my sensations was, Finally! Below you is nothing but 230 miles of nothingness until the surface of the earth, and the earth is moving in a different direction than you are. It takes some practice to take all that in at once. And by about the third spacewalk, I could do that.
COSTELLO: What was the reaction on the flight deck when he got so close, and then just pulled those pieces of gap filler out?
EILEEN COLLINS, "DISCOVERY" COMMANDER: We were clapping and cheering on the flight deck. We were very happy that everything did work out as well as it did.
By the way, I did want to tell you that yesterday, when Steve was doing his preflight under the orbiter, we asked him to check the oil and check the tires and everything else for us before we come home.
COSTELLO: What is it like to have the eyes of the world watching you so closely, hoping for your success, praying for your success?
COLLINS: I'm not sure if we're really aware minute by minute that so many people are watching us. We try just to focus on the mission.
COSTELLO: Charlie, you're a veteran of NASA, and yet this is your first time in space. Has it met all of your expectations? What's it been like for you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been absolutely fantastic, Tom, you know, as an astronaut and definitely as an engineer, because this flight was an engineer's dream. What we saw was just the tip of the iceberg as far as our capabilities in the future to actually repair the vehicle, so I'm in my element, I'm having a ball.
COSTELLO: Let me ask you about if this experience is exhausting, you're keeping such a schedule up there, do you - how do you sleep when you're in space?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My trick is, I've got a CD player, and I put on my headphones, and it's fantastic. You're floating there, and if you want, you can look out the window and kind of watch the world go by, and watch lightning storms at night over the equator. It's about the best sleeping environment you could imagine, actually. It's easy to rest up for the next day. And getting out of bed is great. It requires no effort at all.
COSTELLO: And what do you miss most when you're up there in space? I'm sure you miss your families most. But beyond that, do you miss a Diet Coke? Or do you miss Snickers bars? What do you find you miss most?
ROBINSON: We have a few cravings for pizza, Tom.
COSTELLO: I'm noticing you're wearing some shirts that obviously have a different
logo on them. And I wonder if you'd like to talk about the significance of the shirts you are wearing, commander, and your crew.
COLLINS: The crew all has a shirt in memory of "Columbia." We have the 107 "Columbia" crew patch on our shirts. And we'll be doing our commemorative of that. We are - we remember the "Columbia" crew, and also the other crews before them, the "Challenger," the Apollo I, and the "Soyuz" crews that have dedicated their lives to space exploration.
COSTELLO: Well, we look forward to seeing you all on the ground. And we wish you Godspeed and a safe return. Thank you all, "Discovery." Enjoy your trip home.
COSTELLO: They're missing pizza up there, it appears, 230 miles above the earth.
We can also tell you that, you heard Eileen Collins talking about the memorial, the tribute they planned to the "Columbia" astronauts and also those that were on "Challenger" and Apollo I. They did, in fact, have a tribute later in the day. They paid tribute to all those who died in the pursuit of space exploration, including the cosmonauts who have died in service of Russia and the Soviet Union over the past 30 or 40 years.
At this point, landing for "Discovery," now that it's been given a clean bill of health, landing slated for very early Monday morning, Alison.
STEWART: Tom Costello in Houston, thanks for the report.
OK, so this isn't some bizarre attempt to communicate to the shuttle from back here on earth. For an explanation, you will have to stay tuned for Oddball.
And first it was Dolly the sheep. Now it's Snuppy the dog. Man's best friend meets the clone machine. Mo Rocka (ph) weighs in on puppies from a petri dish. That's next.
STEWART: Back now. We pause the Countdown. I'm Alison Stewart, fresh out of the bullpen, subbing for the vacationing Keith Olbermann.
I'll be your pinch-hitter, no steroids, for the oversized, undercooked wacky stories other shows don't have the guts to report.
Let's play Oddball.
We start in Rio de Janeiro, where somebody who is quite boodilicious forgot to pick up his or her underpants. What monster missed the hamper with these oversized undergarments? They want to know. King Kong? Godzilla? The Jolly Green Giant?
I don't think so. I think they all wear boxers.
This is the work of the people of Brazil. Previously known for their creative waxing techniques, they made these underpants as a publicity stunt for the Brazilian Lingerie Fair, the largest lingerie fair in the Southern Hemisphere, largest underwear fair, meet the world's largest underwear.
The drawers took nine hours, three sewing machines, and 150 pounds of panty to make. The organizers hope the large undies will shed light on the great Brazilian underwear industry, although today, they blocked out the sun for all of downtown Rio.
To Forest Hill, Maryland. And this is the kitchen of Tony Quinn. Tony Quinn tried to make pancakes. Tony Quinn is a lousy cook. So when Tony Quinn made pancakes, he forgot to butter the pan. When he poured some pancake batter into the butterless frying pan, realized his error, and pulled out the doomed pancake, that's when Tony realized this was one special doomed pancake.
That's right, don't adjust your screen. It's an angel, a pancake angel. A pancake angel that Tony believes was sent from God to remind us all to pray. Tony Quinn promises not to eat the pancake, but we here at Countdown are pretty eyed good idea where this is going.
Now, Tony didn't mention the auction site eBay, but it wouldn't surprise us if he joined the high-bidding ranks of the Virgin Mary grilled cheese, the grilled ham-and-cheese Jesus, fishstick Jesus, potato chip Jesus, Madonna in a honey-mustard pretzel, and lastly, don't forget about the Father, Son, and the Holy Toast.
Finally tonight, to lower Makefield, Pennsylvania, where the police force is getting some high-tech tutelage. This is a high-speed chase simulator, where police get all the sights, sounds, and feelings of being in a real high-speed pursuit. It's practice so that when these Philadelphia-area police are in a real chase, they will know what to do.
The machine is housed in a trailer, and it replicates daytime chases, nighttime chases, and chases in any weather condition. Consider this video game the anti-Grand Theft Auto. That replaces the old car chase simulator, which police have used since 1983.
From high-speed chases to pulling a fast one, is that what Rafael Palmeiro did when he testified before Congress on his past steroid use? We'll talk to one congresswoman that will be looking into possible perjury charges.
And Chief Justice William Rehnquist is back in the hospital tonight.
More on both those stories in a moment.
But first, here are Countdown's top three newsmakers of this day.
Number three, Curtis Rarick of North Liberty, Arkansas, otherwise known as the naked swordsman. Neighbors spotted Rarick standing on his lawn in the buff. They called the cops. Rarick got upset, went into the house, got a sword, came out of the house with the sword, still no clothes, chased his neighbors all around.
The swordsman has now pleaded guilty to assault charges and faces a hefty fine of up to two years in jail. Naked swordsman, why don't you use your powers for good?
Number two, inmates at the El Paso County Jail. Having eaten turkey-based meals for five consecutive nights, the inmates staged a hunger strike when they found out they were getting turkey for a sixth night. The inmates dug in their heels and lasted an entire half hour before ending the hunger strike.
Jail officials said they gave them spaghetti for dinner on Wednesday, but with turkey-based meat sauce.
And number one, 8-year-old Enrique Sanchez of Carson City, Nevada. Eight-year-old Enrique was the winner of the Carson City Mayor for a Day contest and recently collected his prize by taking office for a whole day. He got the tour of the sheriff's office, ride around in a police cruiser.
He even tried on a bullet-proof vest.
Now, before his 24-hour term was up, 8-year-old Enrique took the liberty of issuing a decree that said girls are gross, and his brother's a doodoo head.
STEWART: For Rafael Palmeiro, the 10-day suspension for steroids may turn out to be the easy part. Our third story on the Countdown: Palmeiro, before and after. Before he failed a drug test, the Baltimore slugger was supposedly a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. After, the only way he may ever get into Cooperstown is to buy a ticket.
Before, he was a convincing witness on Capitol Hill. After, Congress has decided to investigate whether he committed perjury. A House committee has requested all of the documents that led to Palmeiro's suspension this week, and
Palmeiro says he will cooperate. The moral of the story, folks, you have to be exceedingly careful before and after you say something like this under oath.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAFAEL PALMEIRO, BALTIMORE ORIOLES: I have never used steroids, period. I do not know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Congressman Linda Sanchez of California is a member of the committee launching the Palmeiro investigation. Congresswoman, it's nice to have you back on
REP. LINDA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: It's great to be back with you.
STEWART: As we just heard, Palmeiro was adamant that he had never used steroids when he testified before your committee. What was your reaction when you learned that he had failed that drug test?
SANCHEZ: Basically, I was shocked. I mean, it was a - a huge surprise to me to hear, especially since his testimony before the committee had been so emphatic that he had never used. And you know, to get a bombshell like that obviously was a big shock.
STEWART: That day, did you believe him?
SANCHEZ: You know, it's interesting because I found that the testimony by the players at the hearing seemed to be like they were holding back. I - I found them to be very tight-lipped and not very forthcoming in really talking about the issue of steroid use in baseball and how widespread it is and how deep-rooted the problem is. So you know, I had my questions following the hearing. I didn't feel like everything got answered at the hearing.
STEWART: All right. Let's talk about the timeline a little bit because if Mr. Palmeiro testified before your committee on March 17, but he didn't take this drug test until May, isn't it going to be difficult to prove perjury?
SANCHEZ: Well, I think it's important to say that the committee isn't actively trying to prove a perjury claim. What we have done is - our chairman and our ranking member have requested documentation with respect to the test. They want to review that information, and depending on, you know, what the review of the information yields, they may look at a possible perjury charge, or they may just decide that there really isn't a basis for that. And the jury is still out on that until we have a chance to review that documentation. They've simply taken the first step and made the request for the test results and the information surrounding it.
STEWART: So what do you want to learn from all this documentation from the investigation? What are your still lingering questions?
SANCHEZ: Sure. Well, you know, I have a lot of questions lingering from the hearing. Obviously, he was very - again, very adamant about the fact he had never taken. The test results are a bombshell. He says that it's inadvertent. I want to see what he tested positive for. There has been speculation about that, but until we see the records and we know, we won't know for sure.
Supplements, which are a very common whipping boy for folks that play professional sports, tend to be, you know, the convenient excuse. And we want to see what type of steroid did he test positive for and other information in terms of how much of it was in his system, et cetera. Those are the questions I have and that, hopefully, the documents will help clarify for the committee.
STEWART: Let's take this a little bit bigger. There have been reports that major league baseball might have sat on the information of Palmeiro's failed drug test for a while. Do you feel the league is doing enough on its own to fight steroid use?
SANCHEZ: I think there are questions as to really how hard is the league cracking down on steroid use or performance-enhancing drugs among their players. I don't think they would have been called to testify before the Government Reform Committee in Congress if we felt like there was enough being done. Obviously, now they understand that we're interested in this issue, we're going to keep pursuing this issue, and that they really need to start cracking down. And hopefully, they're headed in the right direction.
But there are still things that Congress can do to try to make sure that - if they're not taking the proper steps, that the proper steps to discourage the use are taken, including potentially legislating a universal standard among all professional sports for what will happen if you test positive for steroid use and what the consequences will be.
STEWART: Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, thank you so much for your time tonight.
SANCHEZ: My pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.
STEWART: If you want to know, Keith, what our fearless leader thinks about the Palmeiro investigation, Keith has turned today into a working vacation, blogging the day away at Bloggermann at countdown.msnbc.com.
Now, the health of Chief Justice William Rehnquist back in the news tonight. The Supreme Court says the Chief Justice was briefly taken to the hospital today for evaluation after developing a fever. The 80-year-old cancer patient was never admitted. Just last month, he was hospitalized with a fever. Doctors say it would be a common precaution to hospitalize an 80-year-old cancer patient like Rehnquist who develops such a fever. The Chief Justice returned home earlier tonight.
We wouldn't be surprised to hear that Congresswoman Katherine Harris of Florida recount fame might be admitted somewhere for observation. You know what I'm saying? On a radio talk show Monday, the former Florida secretary of state was alleging her bad make-up was a conspiracy. You heard me. She accused unnamed newspapers of colorizing her photograph during the 2000 recount. Never mind most Americans actually only saw her on the TV.
Congresswoman Harris has since issued this statement. Quote, "I haven't worn blue eye shadow since the seventh grade," end quote. Well, it certainly kind of looks blue from here, but it could be just the light. This photograph is from the Associated Press, which says, quote, "Manipulating an image in any form is not allowed," end quote.
Perhaps Congresswoman Harris should feel lucky that Countdown had not yet existed back in 2000 because if it had been, we certainly would not have stopped with the eye shadow. We would have painted her whole head blue, like Blue Man Group or something. Her red lipstick would have inspired Ronald McDonald comparisons. And since you can't talk about extreme make-up without mentioning Kiss - oh! Gene Simmons, eat your heart out!
And finally, let's face it, there is no little doubt that Countdown would have also welcomed Mrs. Harris into the company of popsicle-stick players. That's right, "Florida Recount Puppet Theatre." This guy and all of his chads? He would have been a puppet, too.
Michael Jackson. He was found not guilty, but some of the jurors say he's certainly not innocent, and they're letting the world know in a tell-all book, of course. Not one but two. Should jurors be allowed to cash in on high-profile trials? And the return of the runaway bride. Jennifer Wilbanks gives her take on the wedding bell rumors. Is it on or isn't it?
STEWART: It is a long and proud tradition, a by-product, perhaps, of the 24-hour news cycle and instant celebrity status of those caught in its glare, the tell-all book/movie deal. OK, maybe proud wasn't the right word. Prurient? Perverted? Pathetic? Payday.
Our number two story on the Countdown tonight: If you didn't see this one coming, turn in your cynic card immediately. Two members of the Michael Jackson jury are cashing in. After 574 days of investigation, 3 months of trial and 32 hours of deliberation, Michael Jackson may have walked out of a Santa Maria courtroom a free man, but not necessarily an innocent one, that according to 79-year-old Eleanor Cook, AKA juror number five, and juror number one, 62-year-old Ray Hultman. They claim to have initially voted in favor of convicting Jackson of child molestation charges. You may recall what it was that changed Mrs. Cook's mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELEANOR COOK, MICHAEL JACKSON JUROR: I disliked it intensely when she snapped her fingers at us. That's when I thought, Don't snap your fingers at me, lady.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Eleanor Cook not a fan of the accuser's mother, apparently. Her book, according to "The New York Daily News," will be entitled, quote, "Guilty as Sin, Free as a Bird." "The Deliberator" will be the title of Ray Hultman's tome, both promising to give all the juicy details of the deliberation process. A film based on the jurors' experiences also said to be in the works.
Now, there is a distinct Michael Corleone vibe in the air, felt perhaps more strongly by Court TV correspondent and Jackson trial veteran Savannah Guthrie. We keep pulling you back in, Savannah, just when you thought you were out.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, COURT TV: I know, Alison. It's my pleasure to be with you.
STEWART: We appreciate it. Let's start with me asking you this. Stacy Brown, who works for this network, is named in this "Daily News" article as a co-author of one of these books, but he says he hasn't committed to that. Do you know what the deal is?
GUTHRIE: No, and I don't think Stacy Brown knows what the deal is. You know, I called him, having seen the "Daily News" piece today that said that he was going to co-author these books, and he said, I haven't agreed to that. He has spoken to both Ellie Cook and Ray Hultman, but he hasn't agreed to co-author these books. And so in some ways, I think this is an example of the broker, the literary broker who's trying to sell these books to the publishers, trying to drum up some headlines so that these books will be published.
STEWART: All right. You sat in that trial day after day, and you have these two jurors, essentially the same story. How could they possibly differ?
GUTHRIE: Well, you know, that's the question, especially since these are two jurors who are now saying, Oh, I really meant to vote guilty, I wanted to vote guilty, but I thought that I was going to get kicked off the jury.
I think this is part of the problem when jurors are writing these books because the pressure is to make a more and more sensational claim. I've actually seen the book proposal that came from Ray Hultman, juror number one, and he does make some pretty outrageous claims, including his speculation that perhaps one of the jurors was paid off, a speculation that a couple of the witnesses were paid off.
As I say, there are literary brokers who are out there trying to shop these books to publishers, and the whole public has Michael Jackson fatigue, so the pressure is really on to come up with a very sensational claim.
STEWART: Isn't there some sort of law or some sort of agreement that jurors must have in high-profile cases where they can't make money off of this in some way?
GUTHRIE: Actually, there is. And you know, the jurors got an instruction from Judge Melville that for 90 days, they could not talk to anybody about or receive any kind of benefit or payment for their jury service or any information about the case. And you know, I don't know the ins and outs of their discussions with the brokers and the literary agents and the publishers and everybody, but they would seem to be, at least, if not running afoul of this rule, walking very, very close to the line.
STEWART: Court TV's Savannah Guthrie. We thank you so much tonight, as always.
GUTHRIE: Nice to be with you, Alison.
STEWART: Coming soon to a bookstore, made-for-TV movie, and church altar, runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks, who offers an easy segue into our nightly round-up of celebrity and entertainment news. We call it "Keeping Tabs." Ms. Wilbanks denying reports made here yesterday that her wedding to fiance John Mason had been rescheduled for August 12. She claims the date, which remains posted on the Pottery Barn Web site, was an error made by the store.
Wilbanks admits to visiting the store recently to update and change items on the registry. She also confirms that she is still engaged but that no specific date for making it legal has been set. And that blanket, it should be noted and mentioned, is also flame-retardant, which is good for putting out people whose pants are on fire. OK, we made that part up.
Jennifer Wilbanks buckles under pressure and gets a TV deal. Dave Chappelle, on the other hand, not so much. Chappelle's show on Comedy Central is quote, "over, man," done. So says Charlie Murphy. That's Eddie's big brother. Murphy was a writer and actor on the hit show and says eight installments were shot for the third season, quote, "But that's it." Production had already gone into limbo-land back in April, when Chappelle high-tailed it to Africa. He said at the time he needed a spiritual retreat. Quote, "I'm not crazy," he said, "I'm not smoking crack, but I am definitely stressed out." And out of a TV job, too.
Someone who really deserves a break? Sienna Miller. Not only did her fiance, Jude Law, cheat with his kids' nanny, now comes word that Miller is pregnant with his child. Now, that's according to the fine folks at "The Star" magazine, which claims the couple gathered friends together last month to announce that Miller was nine weeks pregnant and that Miller and Law had even discussed names for the baby.
Miller's reps are refusing to comment, and of course, Law's subsequent nanny eruption put that whole happy home thing in serious jeopardy. A source tells "The Star" they will never be under the same roof. As for baby names, Jude, Jr. probably not on the list.
So it's a better name for a newborn than Snuppy. Yes, scientists actually managed to clone a dog, then ruin it by giving him a really silly name. Our expert on puppies, clonings and all things ridiculous, Mo Rocca, joins us next.
STEWART: We here at Countdown are fairly vigilant about bringing you, our loyal viewers, the best animal news in town. We don't discriminate. We take bears who fall off trampolines, skunks who get their snouts stuck in yogurt cups, horses who drink beer, and now a dog who escaped from Alcatraz.
Now, that seems like a feat that would be pretty hard to top. But in our number one story in the Countdown tonight, an Afghan hound in South Korea says smack (ph) on the clone. We'll get to the first dog to be cloned and some canine analysis from the one and only Mo Rocca in just a moment. But first, we want to give Jake, a regular old golden retriever, his due. Hundreds of swimmers leapt into the chilled waters of San Francisco Bay for the 10th annual Alcatraz Invitational. Among them, the first ever four-legged entrant, who dog-paddled the 1.2 miles to shore in just over 40 minutes. He did have a swim partner, his owner, Jeff (ph), who said Jake wasn't always such a pro.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He never could kick with his hind legs. And so whenever he went into the pool, he would just kick - he would try and swim with his front legs. So I started just throwing a tennis ball, and when he would chase a tennis ball, that's what got him to swim.
We saw people lined up chanting, Jake, Jake, and screaming and hollering. And that was absolutely amazing. I didn't know a dog could do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: But Jake proved a dog could. He is the first known pup to have made the crossing. His secret? A power breakfast. Jake always eats scrambled eggs before a big swim. And that's actually true.
But the animal news world is a fickle one, and before Jake could take a victory lap, a bigger pooch story emerged. Scientists in Seoul, South Korea, announced they have successfully cloned the first dog, a black, white and tan Afghan hound named Snuppy, short for Seoul National University Puppy. He was grown from an embryo containing DNA from the ear of a male hound, transferred into a surrogate mom. The researchers who created Snuppy say their goal was not to reproduce people's pets but to develop genetically identical dogs for medical studies.
I don't know who they think they're kidding. You know people are going to want to clone Fido.
Now, joining me to weigh in on all matters dog cloning and otherwise, television personality Mo Rocca, author of "All the President's Pets," the story of one reporter who refused to roll over. Mo, it's always good to talk to you.
MO ROCCA, TELEVISION PERSONALITY: Thank you for having me.
STEWART: So apparently, this breed, the Afghan hound, is known for being one of the least companionable (INAUDIBLE) most - one of the most indifferent dogs and not particularly intelligent, either. Very cute, though. So why go for the dog that is pretty but dumb?
ROCCA: For the dumb dog. Well, considering the health problems that afflict cloned animals like Dolly, the sheep, who was very sick towards the end of her life, it made sense that she was a dumb dog. A smarter dog might say to the scientists, Why the hell did you clone me, and if it's a pit bull, rip off the scientists' head.
And let's face it, just like beautiful ugly people have an easier time in life than, you know - excuse me, just as beautiful smart - beautiful dumb people have an easier time in life than smart and ugly people - is that right? I get it all confused - then - I was cloned, actually. This is why...
ROCCA:... I go haywire right here. It's the same with dogs. And the Afghan is very stupid. I mean, it's just been described as aristocratic but aloof, which is just another way of saying dumb. I mean, it is the Paris Hilton of dogs.
STEWART: You took the words right out of my mouth. And I think if the dog came up and said, Why'd you clone me anyway, that'd be a bigger story.
ROCCA: Right. I think so.
STEWART: The dog's name is Snuppy. There's already been a lot of confusion here in the newsroom, and they're smart people in the newsroom, that they meant to name him Snoopy. Do you think this whole Snuppy/Snoopy thing is going to be an ongoing problem?
ROCCA: Well, it could be. I mean, first of all, I would have chosen a different acronym, something like Cloned Under the Jurisdiction of University, which if you spell that out, it's Cuju - not Cujo but Cuju. Or how about just Young Yeller? I like Young Yeller because this dog is going to suffer a very bad end, again. But I think the real problem comes back to Korea, to be quite frank and politically incorrect about it...
STEWART: Are you going to start an international incident right now?
ROCCA: I'm not going to start an international incident, but we all remember in 1998, when Seoul hosted the Olympic games, and it came to light that 10 percent of Korean people - an estimated 10 percent eat dogs. Now, I just...
STEWART: I knew you were going to go there.
ROCCA: I'm going to be very blunt about this. If this cloning is just a result of some scientists having a case of the munchies, that is unacceptable. You know, I don't think that's the case. They would have cloned a Dachshund in that case, many of them.
STEWART: The name is Mo Rocca...
STEWART: Mo Rocca - two C's when you write. OK, so you wrote this book about presidential dogs. Any one of them you'd like to see cloned?
ROCCA: A few. I'd like to see - John Adams had a dog named Satan. And this is a White House that's very beholden to the religious right, and I think it would be kind of funny to watch how they'd react if there was a White House dog named Satan. James Buchanan had - our only bachelor president, spent his time with 170-pound Newfie named Laura. Would want to know from Laura what went on there, what they were doing.
And who else? Oh, Lincoln had a mutt named Fido that was killed by a
drunk man with a broken bottle, which I find very upsetting. I'd like to -
· there he is. There's Fido. I'd like to see Clinton's dog, Buddy, cloned, find out how Buddy died, what the former president was doing while he was running all over the streets of Chappaqua.
STEWART: And think of the stories that Buddy could tell.
STEWART: Television personality and author of "All the President's Pets," Mo Rocca. Thanks, as always, for your keen insights.
ROCCA: Thank you.
STEWART: That is Countdown. I'm Alison Stewart, in for Keith Olbermann. Thank you so much for watching. Now here is Tucker Carlson's "SITUATION."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END