Thursday, February 2, 2006

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Feb. 2nd

Guest: Craig Crawford, Derrick Pitts, Michael Schiavo

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

Michael Schiavo's first television interview since the death of his wife, Terri, about his upcoming book, about his recent second marriage, about his formation of a new political action committee which targets, in part, the politicians who forced their way into the tragic last months of Terri Schiavo's life.


MICHAEL SCHIAVO, TERRI SCHIAVO'S HUSBAND: This isn't about vengeance, this is about holding people accountable for what they did. These people should not be walking into our personal lives like this. This is about the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of your personal decisions, your choice. And these few people, Tom DeLay, Santorum, Frist, who are they to decide for us?


OLBERMANN: Michael Schiavo, exclusively tonight on Countdown.

The state of the State of the Union address, part of it retracted after the president spoke it. His great goal...


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:... to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.


OLBERMANN: When he said that, says the energy secretary, he did not mean it literally. Who knows what the White House means when it defends its 1984-like tactics, playing politics with intelligence, say Senate Democrats, as they grill the director and deputy director of national intelligence.

And science's latest. What the hell is that thing? thing? A big hunk of ice and dust, it orbits the sun. It's about one-third bigger than Pluto. So is it a planet, or the biggest snowball in the universe?

All that and more, now on Countdown.

Good evening.

Even after the calamities that cascaded down upon the White House after the infamous 16 words in the State of the Union speech for 2003, it appears the president's annual address to Congress still is not being fully vetted in advance.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, less than 24 hours after the State of the Union address for 2006, the president's energy secretary telling reporters that Mr. Bush really did not mean it literally when he vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by slashing imports 75 percent by the year 2025.

How silly of us to take him at his word!

The president's comments on Middle East oil, including what he called America's addiction to it, making headline after headline after Tuesday night's address, Mr. Bush vowing to fund research into (INAUDIBLE) alternative, rather, fuels, setting the goal, as we mentioned, of cutting imports by three quarters over the next two decades, and pledging to, quote, "move beyond a petroleum-based economy and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past."

Well, not quite. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman telling reporters on a conference call, quote, "This was purely an example." In addition, "The New York Times" reported today that the funding for Mr. Bush's energy scheme might be figurative as well. The Energy Department set to laying off researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the next two weeks because of budget cuts.

And there's an entirely different statement of huge import from the State of the Union, also on the Did he mean it literally? watch list. As we reported in this news hour last night, senior intelligence officials have told NBC News they are mystified by Mr. Bush's claim that the NSA domestic spying program could have helped to prevent the 9/11 attacks.


BUSH: We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al Qaeda operatives overseas, but we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack, based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute, I have authorized a (INAUDIBLE) surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al Qaeda operatives and affiliates to and from America.


OLBERMANN: Let's litmus-test some of this now with MSNBC terrorism analyst Roger Cressey, former official, as we always mention, with the National Security Council.

Good evening, Roger.


OLBERMANN: How big a stretch of it, of this is it to say that those two hijackers, al-Hamzi and al-Midhar, would have come to the government's notice if only we had known the joys of warrant-free eavesdropping before 9/11?

CRESSEY: Well, you notice what the president didn't say, in between those two statements. He didn't say, And there was information on those phone calls that would have pointed out that these two individuals were part of an operational cell.

Now, he would - they're drawing a leap here, which is what is disingenuous.

And the big point, of course, is that we did know these individuals. Both the congressional joint inquiry committee and the 9/11 commission made very clear that the CIA knew who they were, the FBI knew who they were, because they were renting a house in San Diego from a known FBI informant, who, by the way, his purpose was to inform on radical Islamists. The problem was, they didn't take that information, share it amongst themselves, and then bring it in to the interagency in Washington.

So, you know, the president is saying one thing, he's (INAUDIBLE), he's taking two and two and coming up with 200. And I think that's the problem.

OLBERMANN: It was not an isolated statement. The vice president said pretty much the same thing, a speech he gave about a month ago. Having worked at the National Security Council in this administration and in others, Roger, do you believe it's possible that the White House did not, does not know that, while the parts of the statement are true, that, as you say, two and two does not equal 200?

CRESSEY: Oh, they know exactly what they're doing. They're trying to make a political case to justify their previous actions. And the problem is, they're using worst-case scenarios, which is their right, but instead, they're not filling it in with specifics, with details, and with examples of, Had we had the TSP system in place, we would have heard chatter that pointed to a specific attack. We could have identified individuals that are part of active al Qaeda operational cells.

And we have seen no evidence from them to support that. So until you get that type of evidence, then what they're doing is somewhat disingenuous.

OLBERMANN: How does the process work of putting a security-slash-intelligence claim like that into a speech by the president or the vice president, especially the State of the Union? Where does the information come from, and do the speeches get a glance by intelligence officials before they're delivered? Is there any vetting by the people who know the answers to those questions?

CRESSEY: There's always a vetting, except with the State of the Union, when there is a drafting flail, if you will, going up to the very last minute before the president issues the speech. The way it typically happens is that the White House asks the agencies for data, for information on specific programs, specific policies. They then take that data, pull together a speech, and obviously put a political spin on it to support the administration.

This is both true for Republicans and for Democrats.

I think in this example, what the speechwriters did was take a little creative liberty in leaping from one statement to the other, and drawing a conclusion without putting in the basis to support it, any evidence to support the conclusion.

OLBERMANN: Let me wrap this up with a morale question. Theoretically, I'll put you back in your job, applying the counterterror policy for the NSC staff. You're back on the front lines, so to speak. You hear this in the State of the Union, you hear the vice president, you hear the word wealth (ph) hair-splitting over the definition of the word "domestic" and the definition of the word "international" in terms of wiretaps.

How do you and the other guys really, trying to protect this country, react to that? Do you worry about your leadership?

CRESSEY: Well, you try and do whatever you can to support the president's policies if you're at the White House. That's your responsibility. If you have a problem with it, you quit.

So to the extent that there are people who believe that there are creative, artistic liberties being taken with the evidence out there, then they need to do something about that. If they believe this is all part of the president's policies and they support it, then they should continue to work for him.

OLBERMANN: Do you quit and go home, or do you quit and call Congress?

Or what do you do if you have to quit in those circumstances? If you - if

eventually, if all the people who disagree quit, you're just going to have a bunch of yes-men who may not know what they're doing.

CRESSEY: And that's always the problem. So you have to have a dedicated civil service, nonpartisan civil servants, that will work for both Republicans and Democrats. That is the core of our government's bureaucracy. And they need to be protected, and you need to promote them.

OLBERMANN: Roger Cressey, MSNBC terrorism analyst, telling it like it is. As always, sir, great thanks.

CRESSEY: OK, Keith, thanks.

OLBERMANN: The intersection of intelligence and politics was a full-on crossroads-of-the-world collision during the lead-up to the war in Iraq, a potential bombshell of a report in tomorrow's edition of the British newspaper "The Guardian" revealing that weeks before the war began, President Bush told our British allies he intended to invade Iraq even if U.N. inspectors did not find any evidence of WMD there.

"The Guardian" reporting that there is a British government memo documenting a conversation in which Mr. Bush said exactly that, another Downing Street memo. Ostensibly during a two-hour meetings between the American president and his British counterpart, Prime Minister Blair, on the 31st January, 2003.

As a result, Mr. Bush apparently telling Mr. Blair that day that, quote, "The diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning." The British prime minister quoted as saying in return, he was solidly with the president.

Also reported that Mr. Bush even proposed to send American planes over Iraq painted in U.N. colors to try to provoke Saddam Hussein into firing on them in a kind of updated 21st century version of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

Some three years later, in this country, it is perhaps not surprising that a U.S. senator was today accusing the administration of turning the national intelligence community into little more than a branch of its PR effort, the Senate Intelligence Committee's annual hearing on worldwide terror threats giving lawmakers their first chance to directly question administration officials about the NSA's domestic spying program, Democrats outraged that the administration is refusing to provide more details about domestic spying.


SEN. JOHN ROCKEFELLER (D-WV), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I'm deeply troubled by what I see as the administration's continued effort to selectively release intelligence information that supports its policy or political agenda, while withholding equally pertinent information that does not do that.

The question I am wrestling with is whether the very independence of the U.S. intelligence committee has been co-opted, to be quite honest about it, by the strong, controlling hand of the White House.


OLBERMANN: Let me call in "Congressional Quarterly" columnist and MSNBC analyst Craig Crawford.

Good evening, Craig.

CRAIG CRAWFORD, "CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY": Hi. A truthiness-free zone here, it's...

OLBERMANN: Thank you kindly.

The British newspaper report, and Senator Rockefeller's comments today, appearing to dovetail. If both "The Guardian"'s report and the senator's comments are correct, the administration is not merely picking and choosing intelligence to suit its needs, it may also be ignoring some intelligence outright.

CRAWFORD: You know, the politics of intelligence is a good way to put it. I mean, intelligence, you know, ought to be almost like science, you know, and, but it has become such a political football. And when bipartisanship breaks down, Keith, on something like the Intelligence Committee, we really have a problem.

I mean, the country's in danger, because that is a committee that traditionally has been very bipartisan. And it's quite remarkable. We hear it on other committees, you know, the Democrats or the partisan back and forth. But usually, the Intelligence Committee avoids that sort of thing.

OLBERMANN: The Don't-take-us-literally guidance from the administration on some of the - some portions of this State of the Union address may or may not be true, the intelligence angle I just talked to Roger Cressey about.

But now add to this year's address the 16 words about the yellowcake in Niger in 2003, the wiretapping is always done with warrants that Mr. Bush talked about in Buffalo in April 2004. Does it ever actually add up into a credibility problem that affects the president within his own sphere, or can he continue to seemingly ignore it successfully?

CRAWFORD: Well, that's a multipart way to put the question, because there is a credibility problem. (INAUDIBLE) is it effective, or is it affecting the president? And so far, it doesn't seem to be.

But I think over time, if you look at this State of the Union, for those who were playing the old word identification drinking game for that State of the Union, well, they can go on a month-long binge out of this speech, because there are plenty of things to parse, and lots of gaps of credibility and facts in this speech.

OLBERMANN: I mentioned the Buffalo speech. I want to play the operative part again. You can't hear this too often.



BUSH: Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires, a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so.


OLBERMANN: Now, Craig, I know this is being spun so that it won't be, again, taken literally. Why does that spinning seem to be working? Where are the Democrats on this? Even granting the caveats and the administration claim that it was only referring to domestic pursuit of terrorists, where have the Democrats gone on that particular sound bite?

CRAWFORD: I think they're just loath to come right out there and call the president a liar. It's a, you know, it's a daunting thing to say about the president of the United States. But, you know, this particular moment when he said this, despite the spin you referred to, really does call for the president to get on that couch on "Oprah" now and take a flogging for what really appears to be a lie.

OLBERMANN: I'm just visualizing that. I was just picturing that for a moment, and...

CRAWFORD: That is quite a thought.

OLBERMANN: It is quite an idea, and I think, I'm thinking you have your next column ready, with a (INAUDIBLE)...

CRAWFORD: Yes, you caught me, yes.

OLBERMANN: No, no, go right ahead. "Congressional Quarterly"'s Craig Crawford, also the author of "Attack the Messenger." As always, sir, great thanks for your time tonight.

CRAWFORD: All right.

OLBERMANN: There was a big upset on Capitol Hill today, we think. In the race to replace Tom DeLay as House majority leader, Republican lawmakers electing John Boehner of Ohio as their new leader, and apparently following that old adage of every dubious campaign in every election from every party, Vote early, and vote often.

Congressmen Boehner, with about as many ethical question marks after his name as his challenger, frontrunner Roy Blunt, Mr. Boehner once having had to apologize for handing out checks from tobacco companies to his colleagues on the House floor.

It was today's election itself that raised more eyebrows still. The pool of reporters waiting for word of a winner outside the Republican caucus room, when a party aide slipped out and told them they'd have to wait a little longer because upon first count, the lawmakers had discovered there were more ballots cast than actual members in the room.

Just remember the new operative phrase, Don't take anything literally.

Mr. Boehner is in because of alleged corruption in Texas. It is much more than just alleged in Iraq, the Pentagon putting a convicted felon in charge of millions of dollars of reconstruction money. Result, fraud charges and sexual favors.

And later in this news hour, Michael Schiavo, in his first interview since the death of his wife, Terri, 10 months ago. His new political action committee, and his new wife, our exclusive interview.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: If you're going to build and rebuild Iraq, you're going to need a lot of money, and you're going to need somebody who knows how to handle a lot of money. Who better than a man convicted of felony fraud a decade ago?

Our fourth story on the Countdown tonight, the Robert Stein saga. The late sportswriter Welles Twombley (ph) updated the old Greek observation and noted, "Larceny abhors a vacuum."

Our chief investigative correspondent is Lisa Myers.



Luxury cars, a $20,000 motorcycle, $10,000 watches, mountains of cash, all part of an elaborate corruption scheme in Iraq which court documents allege involves at least seven Americans, including five Army Reserve officers.

FRANK WILLIS, FORMER RECONSTRUCTION OFFICIAL: The degree and level of what happened is appalling. It's extraordinary.

MYERS: This former Iraq reconstruction official, Robert Stein, a convicted felon inexplicably put in charge of $82 million in contracts, today pleaded guilty. He now admits stealing at least $2 million and accepting at least a million more in bribes, used to buy this $160,000 car, these automatic weapons, and an airplane like this.

Stein also admits steering contracts to this American, Philip Bloom, who allegedly provided cash, fast cars, even sexual favors from women. Bloom's lawyer did not comment.

In one e-mail, Stein tells Bloom that his contract money is coming through. "I love to give you money." Signed, "Bob."

WILLIS: It shows the brazenness of the people who were around those sums of money, and what they thought they could get away with.

MYERS: E-mails indicate that some unnamed U.S. officials even demanded specific cars, a white SUV, and a sports car, electric blue.

And what about the projects that were supposed to be built or refurbished in Iraq?

STUART BROWN, FORMER RECONSTRUCTION INSPECTOR GENERAL: There were millions of dollars in grants and contacts that simply went for no work at all.

MYERS (on camera): And work that was done was often shoddy. For example, a newly installed hospital elevator collapsed, killing Iraqis. In fact, U.S. investigators now say, reconstruction in the region where this corruption occurred was a failure.

Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington.


OLBERMANN: Much-needed break from all the serious news of the day.

Didn't I see you guys in the movie, "The Time Machine"?

And how to save taxpayer money. Take hiring somebody for a high-profile job like being the voice of Washington subway, and you turn it into a contest where the winner gets fame but no fortune. Wow, very nice.

Countdown continues.


OLBERMANN: We're back. Let's take a short break from the festival of corruption and mismanagement that makes up our political news for a little coverage of the festival of stupidity and weirdness that makes up our weird news.

Let's play Oddball.

And we begin in Pernik (ph), Bulgaria, for the 16th Annual International Festival of Masquerade Games, thousands gathering in the town square to see participants dance and prance through the city streets in wild costumes and fur, feathers, powerful (ph) cloth, and even hemp.

Dude, after the parade, let's go smoke your (INAUDIBLE).

The festival dates back to ancient times, though we believe the guy spraying for bird flu is a new addition this year. Nice hat, sir.

The idea is to use the costumes to drive away the evil spirits and to scare little children into a lifetime of horrible nightmares.

Hey, check out the really big bus, one of 10 superbuses unveiled in Geneva to act as the new airport-to-downtown shuttles, 78 feet in length. The capacity is more than 200 people. It's so long, passengers sitting in the back row have to take a cab to pay the driver. Operators will have to be specially trained to maneuver the behemoth through city traffic at normal speeds, and also if they see Dennis Hopper anywhere, keeping it above 50 miles an hour without slowing down no matter what.

Finally, to good old Snahomish (ph), Washington, where, rise and shine, campers, and don't forget your booties, because it's cold out there today. It's Ground Frog Day. Now, don't worry, they don't grind up frogs. Well, they might, but that's none of our business.

This was their version of Ground Hog Day, except that budget cuts forced them to sell their groundhog, and all they have left is little Snahomish Slew there. Slew didn't bother looking for his shadow this year to predict the weather, because you'd need a sun in the state of Washington for that. So instead he went ahead and gave his five-star lock of the week prediction. Take the four and a half points, Sea Hawks going to win it outright.

Not a very football-savvy frog. He was then squashed.

Bono spent his February 2 at an unlikely place, the National Prayer Breakfast, his plea to the politicians in Washington.

Speaking of pleas, Michael Schiavo's. Why he's joining the world of politics, to keep elected officials out of your personal life-and-death decisions. My exclusive interview with him next.

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

Number three, Robert W. Huff of Chico, California, convicted of pulling a mongo. He punched a horse, a police horse. Been sentenced to community service, shoveling horse droppings at the Chico police training grounds.

(singing): My object all sublime, I shall achieve in time, to let the punishment fit the crime.

Number two, 24 freshmen from Cal Tech. They had to be recovered from a road that was blocked by a landslide by the local search-and-rescue team. Two dozen kids were OK, except for the fact that they were dressed in Superman capes, hats with antennas, and tutus. It was hazing week at the Paige House dormitory, and they left them out there in the cold.

Number one, Kimberly Sams, cheerleader for East Tennessee State University and its basketball team until she took a part-time job that degraded the honorable nonlascivious traditions of college cheerleading. She became a waitress at Hooters.


OLBERMANN: He and his late wife, Terri, were for months, intermittently for years, thrust into a public spotlight even though their crisis was the most private imaginable. How did it happen? How did the name Terri Schiavo become as significant a political issue, as much as a lightning rod for all manner of controversy? The center of so much debate and hysteria, as much as any other political issue last year.

Tonight, our third story on the Countdown, Michael Schiavo's first television interview since his wife died. If you were with us last night, in a preview you heard him announce he's launched a political action committee, Terri's PAC, named in her memory to try to keep another family from having to answer those kinds of questions. Our exclusive interview in a moment.

First, to understand the man you have to remember the context. Here's Countdown's Monica Novotny.


SEN BILL FRIST, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, I'll tell you what I learned from it, which is obvious, is that the American people don't want you involved in these decisions.

MONICA NOVOTNY, MSNBC PRODUCER (voice-over): But in March of least year Senate majority leader Bill Frist and other politicians on all sides did exactly that, involving themselves in a battle to reinsert Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. But Frist was not the first. In October of 2003, Florida's governor Jeb Bush passed Terri's law, an attempt to reinsert Schiavo's feeding tube after it was removed for the second time.

GOV. JEB BUSH, (R) FL: I'm not playing God at all. I've been troubled of this whole tragic case for the family and for Terri Schiavo, for her husband, as well.

NOVOTNY: Terri's Law failed but a year and a half later, after her feeding tube was removed a third time Congress returned from recess to pass special legislation enabling Schiavo's parents to take the case into the federal court system. And it was Senator Frist's argument before the vote invoking his expertise as a medical doctor which may have been most convincing to his colleagues.

FRIST: My standpoint as a physician, I would be careful before I would come to the floor and say this, the facts upon which this case are based are inadequate.

I looked at the video footage. Based on the footage provided me which were part of the facts of the case, she does respond.

NOVOTNY: The senator now says that statement was a question.

FRIST: I didn't make the diagnosis. I raised the question of whether or not she is in a persistent vegetative state.

NOVOTNY: The Senate did approve the Schiavo bill by voice vote with Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum acting as chaplain.

SEN. RICK SANTORUM, (R) PA: Almighty God, we praise you for your constancy.

NOVOTNY: One of just three members present for the vote. Late that night in the house, more stepped forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All those in favor, say aye.


NOVOTNY: Late that night in the House, many more stepped forward.

REP. TOM DELAY, (R) TX: However helpless, Mr. Speaker, she is alive.

She is still one of us.

NOVOTNY: And though by then it seemed the whole country knew this woman by name, some of the members apparently did not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I rise in support of S-686 for the relief of the parents of Teresa Marie Schiavo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Teresa Marie Schiavo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terri Schiavo's family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will stay out of Terri Schiavo's life today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terri Schiavo told her husband.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Schiavo and Schindler families .

NOVOTNY: Even the president took part, ending a vacation early for the first time in his term of office. Signing the b bill outside his bedroom door in the White House.

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: This is a complex case with serious issues. But in extraordinary circumstances like this, it is wise to always err on the side of life.

NOVOTNY: Still, in spite of the continuing political storm, a federal judge declined to order the reinsertion of the feeding tube. Terri Schiavo died March 31, 2005.

For Countdown, Monica Novotny.


OLBERMANN: On the day Terri Schiavo died, Mr. DeLay said the time will come when the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior. He may have been far more correct about that than he could have imagined.

In his first TV interview in more than a year, Michael Schiavo told me that he had invited all the politicians to come to the hospice to hear his story, to meet his wife, to judge her condition for themselves. But Governor Bush was once just 20 minutes away but none accepted the invitation. Now comes Terri's PAC dedicated in part to defeating the politicians who decided the Schiavo's lives were their business.


OLBERMANN: Michael, the people who opposed your position on this clearly politicized Terri's life and death, do they not now have an opportunity to come back and say, aha, now Michael Schiavo is also politicizing her life and her death?

MCHAEL SCHIAVO, CHAIRMAN, TERRIPAC.ORG: I don't think I'm really out there to politicize. I'm not out there to do that but to hold these people accountable. These people should not have done what they had done. Any American. You look at the polls. Eighty seven percent of the people disagreed with what these politicians did. They walked into somebody's personal lives and took over. And then, then you have Tom DeLay making the same decision for his father. I'm not understanding that point. Two weeks prior to Terri dying or the feeding tube even being removed, they never even knew who Terri Schiavo was.

OLBERMANN: What about the president? President George Bush?

SCHIAVO: I think I was most stunned with him. I have never in my entire life have ever seen a president slide back from his vacation to sign a bill. He gets up at 1:10 in the morning to sign a bill. OK. That's just unbelievable.

I mean, the amount, the millions and millions of dollars it took to do this. It just blew my mind. And it was basically because his brother called him up and said hey, can do you this? I'm sure that happened. But that just blew my mind.

OLBERMANN: Some of the other figures who were key to this, Rick Santorum, the Pennsylvania senator. A thought about him?

SCHIAVO: The man is clueless. He came down here on one of his campaign trips, stopped by the hospice and pulled up in his limousine and got out and walked the path like Jesse Jackson and the rest of them. Standing in front of this crowd of people talking stuff he had no clue about.

OLBERMANN: Do you think that some of the politicians were sincere but mistaken as opposed to merely trying to make an opportunity for themselves out of this or make an opportunity for a certain aspect of the political spectrum? Was anybody in this who was just sincerely mistaken?

SCHIAVO: I don't think anybody was sincerely mistaken. I think Bill Frist, if you look at him now, he is trying to backtrack and use the Terri Schiavo case to win more votes because he knows he was wrong. He should have never opened his mouth. He diagnosed - He's a doctor. He diagnosed a patient from watching an hour's worth of tape. But then he says he didn't do that. That's not true. Look at Tom DeLay. He used Terri to hide behind his own problems. He used Terri as a front.

OLBERMANN: To mention Senator Frist, he was on "Meet the Press" last Sunday. Let me read the quote. "I'll tell you what I learned from it, which is obvious," meaning the entire experience of interjecting himself and the American political system into your wife's life. "I'll tell you what I learned from it, which is obvious, is that the American people don't want you involved in these decisions," using that term you, he's referring to himself and the other politicians. When you heard that statement was that vindicating to you? Was it startling to you? Do you think that's the best you'll get from these politicians?

SCHIAVO: I think it's the best we'll get from them. They know they were wrong and wrong from the beginning. They should have stepped aside and should not have gotten involved in the first place.

OLBERMANN: Let me wrap it up with a couple personal things. You are married again.

SCHIAVO: Yes, I am.

OLBERMANN: Congratulations.

SCHIAVO: Thank you very much, Keith.

OLBERMANN: How did you preserve that event without it being a tabloid affair? Without it being helicopters overhead with cameras?

SCHIAVO: It was hard but we did it. I guess when we went down to apply for our marriage license the day before, that's when it started hitting the news wire. But we were pretty good at that. We kept it quiet. In our invitations, they all know, friends, family, loved ones, supporters, they all knew. They were there to support us. They came and we had a wonderful wedding. It was beautiful. My children were in it.

OLBERMANN: And you even got a honeymoon?

SCHIAVO: Yeah, about 10 of us, we all went to Vegas.

OLBERMANN: Did you have to use an assumed name or is life not that .

SCHIAVO: Everything we did for the wedding was under a different name.

OLBERMANN: And I guess that's a legacy that unfortunately, that is going to be with one way or another the rest of your life.

SCHIAVO: Yes, it will be. You know something? Terri was a beautiful woman. And she'll always be with me.

OLBERMANN: Michael Schiavo, our great thanks for your time today, sir.

SCHIAVO: Thank you.


OLBERMANN: Michael added that until last year he was a Republican. Apart from Terri's PAC, Michael Schiavo has another project coming to fruition, his book, "Terri, the Truth," will be released March 27.

Also tonight, Washington's metro, taking a page out of "American Idol." Who will be the next voice of the DC underworld? No political jokes, please.

What about another world? That distant chunk of ice in our solar system? Planet? Ice cube? Really big cold disco ball? That's when Countdown continues.


OLBERMANN: Paris Hilton has lost stuff in between. Stay tuned.

We're here every night.

She told me it was coming. I thought it sounded literally sounded fun. The woman I was dating had won the audition, she would be the automated voice on some of the trains of the New York City subway system. "Next stop, 51st Street," that would be her voice, which was fine until we stopped dating amicably enough. Still, it suddenly began to sound like, "Next stop 51st Street. Fix your collar."

Our number two story on THE Countdown, be prepared for all of who in metropolitan Washington DC who know a woman named Randy Miller. The next voice you hear on the DC subway, the Metro will be hers. Here's our correspondent Tom Costello.


TOM COSTELLO, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Call it a new voice for the 21st century. After 10 years of this.

WMATA VOICE: The door is now closing.

COSTELLO: The DC subway system wanted something less muffled and more hip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For your safety .

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please step back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The doors are closing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three, two and one.

COSTELLO: Out of the woodwork they came.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one.

COSTELLIO: Twelve hundred fifty nine amateurs hoping for a shot at subway immortality. The only compensation, bragging rights that 700,000 riders would hear their voice every day. So they practiced.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please step back.

COSTELLO: And practice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For your safety, please step back.

COSTELLO: The judges wanted commanding voice but not cold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one. Thank you.

COSTELLO: Powerful but not harsh.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The doors are closing in .

COSTELLO: More than a thousand auditions later the judges narrowed it down to 10.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one.

COSTELLO: Then chose the best pipes.


COSTELLO: Randy Miller who works at a Virginia car dealership and she has ridden the subway since the day it opened.

RANDY MILLER, SUBWAY VOICE: I want to thank my parents for giving me such great genes.

DORIS MCMILLON MILLER, JUDGE: She had confidence in her voice but she was smooth. I didn't hear a lot of mouth sounds, teeth clicking, sibilant Ss.

COSTELLO: She does sound good.

MILLER: The doors are opening, please stand back so customers may exit the train.

COSTELLO: The subway system says Randy's recorded voice should break through the noise, get people moving and improving traffic flow.

And if she has an off day, she has got plenty over understudies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The doors will be closing in three, two, one.

Get back.

COSTELLO: Tom Costello, NBC News, Washington.


OLBERMANN: Are those passengers on a train? Not customers? Perhaps one day Ms. Randy Miller will make it into our roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, "Keeping Tabs." Maybe she will lose her diary or lead the national prayer breakfast.

That's what the U2 front man, Bono, did today, speaking to the president, members of Congress, various diplomats and clergy about the need to increase aid to the world's poor. After some self deprecating humor about being invited, because of his, quote, "messianic complex," he proposed that the U.S. increase its charitable aid to one percent of its total budget, approximately $26 billion. He asked the audience of religious faithful to see the "flow of effective foreign assistance as tithing."

He continued, "Where you live should no longer determine whether you live."

He said where you live should not determine whether you live. President Bush called Bono, quote, "an amazing guy and a doer." He did not ask him how Cher was. Nor has either of them had to ask where is my diary. Paris Hilton apparently has been robbed of hers. The celebrity news Web site reporting that Ms. Hilton is missing a number of personal items, including her journal, computers and hundreds of photos. Photos? Uh oh.

All apparently lifted from a storage facility. Her publicist Eliot Minz (ph) telling the site that the two people offered to sell the items to the "National Enquirer." Minz continued that anyone in possession of Hilton's stuff would be prosecuted and that his client feels quote, "victimized." Is that a daily thing or does the victimization relate to this story in some way?

So Paris how many planets are there? Nine, 10, eight, 206? Actually if she can't answer she's in good company right now. There may be a new planet beyond Pluto but astronomers can't agree. Is this a conspiracy by astrologers to keep the number the same?

That's ahead but first Countdown's list of today's three nominees for "Worst Person in the World."

Number three, it's Ted Baxter again, this time because CNN's Christiane Amanpour said, "Iraq has basically turned out to be a disaster." O'Reilly says of Ms. Amanpour, "You can draw by that that she has a rooting interest in it being a disaster." No, you can't, not if you use human logic. Besides which, he wouldn't really take a swipe at saying CNN after saying, quote, "CNN, for example, usually competes with class, not bitterness."

The runner up, Jerry McKay (ph), arrested in Inverness, Florida.

Police pulled him over for speeding, doing 71 in a 40 mile an hour zone. That's when they found out, they say, that like many bad drivers he was not concentrating on the speedometer - he was doing something else as he drove, cooking up some crystal meth.

But the winner, Julie Kay Russo (ph) of Van Buren, Arkansas. She has been arrested for forgery. She's accused of trying to cash a fake payroll check at the S&S Super Stop. Hard to believe you could be worst person for simply forging a check. Then again, you have not heard what tipped the cashier off. The business name on the check included the word independent which Ms. Russo had spelled I N D A P E N D E N T. Induhpendent. Rule one of successful forgery, you cannot be a bad speller. Julie Kay Russo, today's "Worst Person in the World.


OLBERMANN: Our solar system has nine planets - or 10 or eight. The planetary pandemonium began last July when astronomers found a big icy ball orbiting the sun, one that might be bigger than Pluto. 2003UB313 kinda like the band UB40, only nine million miles away. They nicknamed it Xena, but in our number one story on the Countdown tonight, this is why you should care. New calculations about Xena seem to require a decision urgently on whether or not it's really a planet. The damned thing is bigger than Pluto. Thirty percent wider than that planet based on heat measurements according to German astronomers. The field already knew it was a bright as Pluto. Last October it was discovered that they'd had a moon called Gabrielle and that leaves the International Astronomical Union to decide if Xena should be designated a 10th planet and if not, why should a smaller thing like Pluto get to stay a planet.

Joining us once again, the chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Derrick Pitts, thanks again for your time, Derrick.


OLBERMANN: So is this like a take a penny, leave a penny dish at the convenience store? Will it come down to either Xena and Pluto are both planets or they both ain't.

PITTS: I think it's going to have to come out to them both being planets. That's just the way it will have to be because when you look at the stuff out there, Keith, what you find is not only do you have Xena and her companion Gabrielle, but there two others out there also that were discovered a couple of years ago, Sedna and Cowar (ph) just under the size of Pluto which indicates that there more out there. So what we had better do is just open the class and say these are all planets too.

OLBERMANN: If it is pretty much settled that it's bigger than Pluto and has its own moon, why is that not enough automatically. There seems to be something logically wrong there. Is it something astronomically wrong, too?

PITTS: The problem here is that we have already designated that Pluto was the last planet of the solar system. It seems that people want to leave it that way culturally, but if you look at the science of it, no reason why have to end there. We can continue going on as long as we can find object that fit the bill of being a planet. That is that they orbit around the sun and have enough gravity that they can hold themselves into a round shape and basically they are not big enough to be a star. So we can find a number of objects. So far we have found four of them out there that fit that bill.

OLBERMANN: And what it's made of, it is really what we used to call a rocky snowball with a little dirt or rock in it? Are there rules about what has to be inside the item orbiting the sun to qualify? If it had a creamy nougat center would it still be a planet?

PITTS: I think if it has a Tootsie Roll center, it has to be an asteroid or something else. But in this case, no it doesn't. Look at Uranus and Neptune, for example. Those are rocky centered big bags of frozen gas. So if those are planets and the planet that we live on being solid rock is also a planet, what's wrong with these other objects out that far being planets, too?

OLBERMANN: I know a couple of rocky centered frozen big bags of gas, but I will leave them out of this.

PITTS: We won't mention their names.

OLBERMANN: What about the terrestrial cost? If there is a 10th planet or more, how much disruption does that do to grade school models and encyclopedias and what does it do to astrology?

PITTS: It's the text book problem that's really the big issue here. All the textbooks have to be reprinted. And if we keep discovering these things without making a catch all phrase, Keith, that says objects like this, even though they are very far outer planets, we are going to have to keep printing those books over and over again.

OLBERMANN: And this year's new planet is - And the name here. UB313, we can't call it that. We can't call it Xena because Lucy Lawless would file a lawsuit and she would own the planet as part of the settlement. Is there going to be an open competition? How do they name it?

PITTS: The International Astronomical Union has very specific rules, nomenclature, as it's called, for how you name these different objects. And for every class of astronomical object in the solar system, there is a separate nomenclature system. You have to pick from a specific list of names that you can use to apply to a new object and that's how it would be called. So Xena or Gabrielle are out the window. They are just the pet names anyway.

OLBERMANN: We will call it after something else from Greek mythology?

Again, last time Planet Derrick, huh?

PITTS: I'm going for that too.

OLBERMANN: You get Planet Derrick and I will take the moon. The moon will be Moon Keith.

PITTS: We are set. That's perfect. Let's do it. I'll vote for me if you vote for you.

OLBERMANN: It's all decided. Derrick Pitts of the Franklin Institute as we come back from our brief trip to UB313. Thanks so much for your time, sir.

PITTS: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: That's Countdown, I'm Keith Olbermann. Keep your knees loose. Good night and good luck. Our MSNBC coverage continues with RITA COSBY LIVE AND DIRECT. Good evening, Rita.