Friday, March 31, 2006

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for March 31

Guest: John Dean, Stanley Brand, Daniel Edwards

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

The censuring of the president, 2006. Mr. Bush listens to phone conversations without warrants. The Senate Judiciary Committee listens to arguments for why that merits a censure, arguments from an expert.


JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: And I must say, I think I have probably more experience firsthand than anybody might want in what can go wrong and how a president can get on the other side of the law.


OLBERMANN: After his testimony on the Feingold measure, John Dean joins us.

The 2003 State of the Union message, more than just 16 words proving, in retrospect, troublesome.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.


OLBERMANN: No, Saddam Hussein hadn't, and, yes, Mr. Bush knew he hadn't, reportedly three months before he made that claim.

Claims against the new baseball steroids investigation. It's racist, its chief has two gigantic conflicts of interest, and it's not even going to clean up anything. The lawyer who counseled baseball at last year congressional hearing joins us.

And happy birthday to us. Three years of Countdown. So we're going to give you, and ourselves, a little present.


BILL O'REILLY, HOST: I'm a stupid guy...


OLBERMANN: And not necessarily the worst, not necessarily the best, just the odd. Keep your eye on the ball, and cover your butt. For with unerring satirical aim, laserlike focus and execution, and the skills of a tightrope acrobat, we'll bring you Oddball's Plays of the Month for March.

All that and more, now on Countdown.


O'REILLY: Shut up. You had your 35 minutes. Shut up.


OLBERMANN: Good evening from Tampa, Florida.

Practically, it may have absolutely no effect whatsoever, but symbolically, the discussion in Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building this morning cut to the very heart of the current divide, and commemorated year 217 of the eternal struggle between the executive and the legislative.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, to paraphrase a familiar question, what did the president know he shouldn't have done, and when does Congress have to remind him he'd better know it?

The Senate Judiciary Committee holding its first hearing on Senator Russ Feingold's motion to censure President Bush for his secret NSA spying program. There was no vote. Indeed, it is unlikely there ever will be a vote. But the topic sparked strong words from both committee members and the panel of expert witnesses.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: We know the president broke the law.

Now we need to know why.

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: We can fight terrorism without breaking the law. The rule of law is central to who we are as a people. And the president must return to the law.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: This constitutionally suspect expert to punish the president by censure rests on premises which are, at best, highly debatable, and, at worst, misleading, or even false.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: The president is leading in a time of war, so are the congressional leaders. And this motion for censure is clearly inappropriate.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Let's find out a solution to this real problem that will make us stronger as a nation. And I don't believe censure takes us in that direction. I believe collaboration will.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: I feel that this motion for censure is completely without merit.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: This hearing, I think, is important for the reasons that it is a further exploration of the president's inherent powers that we have to come to grips with.

As for the president's conduct, you have this long resolution, but not a word about bad faith. And if you don't assert bad faith, there's just no basis, it seems to me, for a censure resolution.

DEAN: Had a censure resolution been issued about some of Nixon's conduct long before it erupted to the degree and the problem that came, it would have been a godsend.


OLBERMANN: John Dean will join us in a moment.

First, a new problem tonight for President Bush, reports that he was aware that still more of his evidence supporting war in Iraq was shaky at best, and perhaps potentially untrue. But he used it to persuade the public anyway. In his 2003 State of the Union, Mr. Bush cited Iraq's then-recent procurement of aluminum tubing as evidence that Saddam Hussein was trying to rekindle his nuclear program.

But as Murray Waas now reports in "The National Journal," the intelligence community had specifically and personally warned the president in October 2002 that there was dissent among several agencies about whether those tubes were for uranium enrichment or for conventional weapons.

And once the administration realized the mistake, the chief political presidential adviser, Karl Rove, warned that revealing it would seriously hurt Mr. Bush's reelection prospects in 2004, so the full story of what the president knew and when he knew it never came out publicly until this month, which may prove not a smoking gun in Plamegate, but rather the reason was loaded in the first place.

As promised, Nixon White House counsel John Dean, who testified today at the censure hearing, joins us now.

John, good evening to you.


OLBERMANN: Let's start with your testimony on the Hill. When you were with us on Wednesday, you said you wanted to explain to the Senate that the censure hearing was about this bigger issue of Congress asserting itself, standing up to the presidency. Do you feel like you managed to get that point across?

DEAN: Well, I certainly said it in my testimony, and based on the news reports that were sent to me today, certainly the media got the point. Now, whether the Congress or not got the point - Because I really don't think this is a partisan issue, I think it's more of an institutional issue. And that was what I tried to drive home today.

OLBERMANN: Even if, which is looking very, very unlikely, the censure motion or something similar to it were to pass, would it have any real practical value? Could it really curtail presidential power if you have a president who's making little notes in the margins of every bill indicating which parts of a law he will agree with and which parts he won't, as he signs the document?

DEAN: Well, I think he would be very risky - at great risk, and very foolish, if indeed a censure resolution did pass, to proceed along that course of action, because that would be a very clear warning from the Congress. And the next step, obviously, would be impeachment.

Contrary to what Senator Hatch said at the opening statements, I don't think the censure nor is indeed impeachment a punishment. While it might seem that way, those aren't the designs of the founders. And I think that they're really a balancing of the two divisions of (INAUDIBLE) co-equal divisions in the government to make policy.

OLBERMANN: This, as we noted two nights ago, would be, and now has been, your first appearance before the Senate since you testified at the Watergate committee more than 30 years ago. Given that you were there for that watershed moment in our history, can you put into context with the unique historical perspective that that all has given you, what happened on the Hill today, what is happening with the presidency today?

DEAN: Well, I guess what was historic about this hearing, not necessarily my participation, is, I think it's probably the seventh time there has been any serious consideration whatsoever of a president being censured. If you go back and look at John Adams, you've got Andrew Jackson, you have John Tyler, you have James Buchanan, you have Harry Truman, no less at the urging of Richard Nixon when he fired MacArthur, and you have Bill Clinton.

So this isn't an issue that comes up very often in the Senate. And I think it's important, indeed, that it try to get out of the partisan vein and get it into the institutional vein, and then the Congress could say, Hey, Mr. President, you've got to comply with the law.

OLBERMANN: Let's move on to this latest report on another hole in the 2003 State of the Union script. The president is warned that the aluminum tube story is, at best, doubtful, uses it anyway. Karl Rove, his adviser, realizes the danger in that, if it becomes public knowledge, launches a kind of preventive cover-up. The details of that are new, but the template does not seem to be new. What, in your assessment, is the actual importance of this story, then?

DEAN: Well, what is new, I actually wrote a column on this back in July of 2003, where I merely went to public documents that were not fully classified documents that Murray Waas has now surfaced, and showed indeed, there was great doubt at that time that the president could make the statement that he made at the time he made it in his January 28, 2003, State of the Union message, about aluminum tubes being used to make nuclear weapons.

What Waas has done is moved the story forward and say, Hey, he had hard evidence. That isn't a surprise, as you say, and it's part of the template. And it's just further evidence, unfortunately, the president has been untruthful in how he took the nation to war.

OLBERMANN: But there is one secondary level of insight here into another story, is there is not, John? The report that Mr. Rove thought that the tube story, if revealed, would be easy to understand by the public and could easily keep the president from being reelected, do we finally, in this, have a clear motive for the attempt to discredit the former ambassador, Joe Wilson? Was the reason for Plamegate included in that story today?

DEAN: Well, that certainly fits into that pattern. But Keith,

indeed, if Rove did withhold evidence, or was urging that (INAUDIBLE) that

evidence be withheld for political purposes, I think that's inexcusable. I

· Richard Nixon, I think, himself would fire somebody for that. I know a lot of other presidents that would.

So this is pretty startling, if it's true.

OLBERMANN: And when does startling translate into public reaction, or into congressional reaction? I guess we've come full circle in the questioning here. This goes back to your appearance today. When does somebody sit up and take notice and say, It's not about Republicans and Democrats, it's about what the Constitution says the president's supposed to do, not do, and what the Constitution says the Senate and the House are supposed to do and not do?

DEAN: Well, members of the staff can be censured too. And maybe that's where they ought to start in thinking about this problem. If they don't want to go to the presidential level, at least look at the evidence they have. If a staffer is withholding something of this import for political purposes, it's unconscionable.

OLBERMANN: Unconscionable, but not unheard-of.


OLBERMANN: John Dean, Nixon White House counsel, author of "Worse Than Watergate." As always, sir, great thanks for your time.

DEAN: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: After three months of captivity in Iraq, she is safe and heading home. Yet tonight, some conspiracy theorists are criticizing Jill Carroll, suggesting, in a political context, that she's suffering from Stockholm syndrome or is a Jane Fonda-like figure, or even that she was not kidnapped at all.

But as our correspondent Mike Taibbi reports, new revelations today cast her surprisingly cheerful assessment of her captors in a entirely different light.


MIKE TAIBBI, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jill Carroll gave few details about her ordeal when she was freed yesterday.

JILL CARROLL, "CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR": You know, I can't really talk about very much.

TAIBBI: But before her release, her captors posed questions to her on one final tape. In that interview, posted on the Internet, Carroll said the kidnappers who in January had shown her surrounded by gunmen, or screaming in terror, were "merciful and kind," "good people fighting an honorable fight," that the American occupiers were "treating people in a very, very bad way."

And of President Bush...

CARROLL: He knows this war is wrong. He knows it was illegal from the very beginning. He knows it was built on a mountain of lies.

TAIBBI: Those statements have raised questions. What does she really think? And skeptical bloggers are now questioning everything about the kidnapping that left her translator shot dead, even, without any facts to support the notion, whether it was a kidnapping.

(on camera): But "The Washington Post" reporter who spoke with Carroll just after she was released said Carroll told her she said what she said, did what she did, even dressed the way she dressed, for one reason, to live.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is the Holy Koran.

TAIBBI: And to those suggesting she had any other motive...

ELLEN KNICKMEYER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Anyone who makes that accusation should think about what they would do for three months with machine guns held to their heads.

TAIBBI: Her editor at "The Christian Science Monitor" said Carroll knew the right answers were her only chance at freedom.

RICHARD BERGENHEIM, EDITOR, "THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR": You can imagine her great desire to get it right, (INAUDIBLE) really learning a part.

TAIBBI: Manhattan psychiatrist Dr. Allen Madelich (ph) has treated a number of cases of Stockholm syndrome.

DR. ALLEN MADELICH, PSYCHIATRIST: The victims emotionally bond with their captors to increase their survivability.

TAIBBI: But he says it may be months before it's known whether Carroll's comments on that tape come from Stockholm syndrome, from pure calculation, or genuine beliefs, or some combination of the three.

MADELICH: It's way too soon to decide, you know, which one of these are going on with her. She may not know herself.

CARROLL: I'm just happy to be free...

TAIBBI: What she does know, what her family and supporters know, is that her three-month nightmare is over.

Mike Taibbi, NBC News, New York.


OLBERMANN: Another investigation, another set of criticisms. If baseball's rank and file had reacted as angrily to steroid use as they seem to be to the steroid probe, maybe there never would have been a steroid scandal. Charges of conflict of interest, of witch hunting, of racism.

And it is our newscast's third birthday today. Our present to you, that's right, a big yummy falafel.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: A couple of baseball players actually like it. One even thinks he'll cooperate with it.

But otherwise, the first day of baseball's new steroids investigation under chairman George Mitchell was a cacophony of criticism.

Our fourth story on the Countdown, it goes too far, it doesn't go far enough. It goes too far back in time, it doesn't go back far enough. It's being run by somebody too close to the business, it's being run by an outsider. And perhaps most ominously, it's racist.

That the essence of the reactions from Minnesota Twins center field Tori Hunter and former Oakland A's pitching ace Dave Stewart (ph). Hunter said, quoting, "If you're going to dig, dig real deep. Dig into guys like Nolan Ryan. What was he taking?" the Twins player adding, "There's no way they would launch an investigation if Barry Bonds was not about to break Babe Ruth's record." Bonds is just six homers behind Ruth's total of 714 career home runs, but the record of 755 he's seeking to break belongs, of course, to another African-American star, Henry Aaron.

More practically, there are questions about the investigation's scope, its powers, and its chairman, George Mitchell.

To help us analyze some of those criticisms, let me call in Stanley Brand, the noted defense attorney who represented baseball at last year's landmark congressional steroid hearings.

Thank you for your time yet again, sir.

STANLEY BRAND: Happy birthday, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Thank you kindly.

With a little chance to reflect on this thing and what we know of what George Mitchell can and cannot do, do the critics have a point? Is this some kind of toothless wild goose chase?

BRAND: I don't think so. I mean, here you have a man who has been called on by presidents of the United States to settle international crises, things of a greater magnitude even than baseball, Northern Ireland, the Middle East, a man who's been a federal judge, a U.S. senator, and a man who's been above reproach his entire career.

So I think this is what you suggested at the opening. Baseball in this situation is like the weather. It's too hot. It's too cold. It's too wet. It's too dry. It's never just right.

OLBERMANN: One criticism that sprung up today is based on the reactions of some people who like the investigation. Congressman Henry Waxman, other politicians, saying it's about time, it's a good step. And that, of course, could lead you to wonder, was the investigation launched, especially considering there is a former senator at its helm, to keep Congress from starting it's own investigation?

BRAND: I don't think so. I think that what pushed the commissioner over the edge were the revelations in this book, revelations of heretofore, you know, greater specificity than we've ever seen. And I think it's been cumulative. People asking the commissioner and pressing the commissioner to do this, and he finally reached the point where I think it was inevitable.

OLBERMANN: When the first reports came out that the commissioner was going to form an investigation committee that would consist entirely of four executive vice presidents of baseball, his predecessor as commissioner, Faye Vincent, said, No, you need outside people. Did they get somebody far enough outside in George Mitchell? He is, after all, on the board of directors of the Boston Red Sox.

BRAND: He is, but, I mean, his reputation is as an absolute straight-shooter. He's going to assemble a team of professionals, including people who have been involved in numerous internal investigations. He has said, and I take him at his word, knowing him as I do from my days on Capitol Hill when I worked for Tip O'Neill, that he will go wherever it leads, that the scope is up to him, and that he will have absolutely unfettered access to any area of the game controlled by the commissioner, subject to the commissioner's jurisdiction.

I have every confidence he'll do that.

OLBERMANN: The last thing here, this issue that has been raised of the prospect that there is racism involved in this. The indisputable fact is that when Mark McGwire was chasing the single-season record for home runs in 1998, and another subject, a precursor to steroids, androstendion (ph), was found in his locker in the middle of that, No one did anything. There was no investigation. McGwire retired without incident. And now Bonds is essentially the focus of a huge, very publicized investigation.

People see that in racial terms. Are they wrong to do so?

BRAND: I think so, because in 1998, remember, there was no collective bargaining agreement that covered these banned substances. In fact, I think the substance that Mark McGwire took at that time was not even on the controlled substance list promulgated by the government. That happened later.

The - what will comfort people, or what should comfort people, is that the scope of this investigation is not Barry Bonds. The scope is Balco Labs and the leads that come from Balco Labs, wherever they go, whether that's African-American players or white players or Hispanic players or anyone else. And that's where I think people, when they see the results, whatever they are, will be assured that it's not dedicated solely to Barry Bonds.

OLBERMANN: Let's hope so, and let's hope that's the perception.

Defense attorney Stan Brand, formerly the counsel for major league baseball at the steroid hearings last year. Great thanks for your time again, sir.

BRAND: Good to see you.

OLBERMANN: Have a good weekend.

From pointed criticism to pointed hobbies? Mr. Knife-Thrower Man going for the gold in the record books. His lovely assistant has, perhaps, other goals in mind. Get me out of here.

And the goal of one sculptor, to capture the essence of American motherhood. Yes, that's who you think it is.

Countdown continues to illuminate our times, next.


OLBERMANN: March 31, 2006. Dave Caplan (ph) turned 61 years old today. Ooh, ooh, Mr. Cutter! Did I ever tell you about my Uncle Throwdini (ph)?

Let's play Oddball.

We begin in Moscow for an exciting attempt to break the world record for knife-throwing. David Adamovich (ph) of Austin, Texas, known as the Great Throwdini. When he broke the record, he was hoping somebody would give him a better nickname. Seventy-six knives in one minute, though, proved to be too much for the Great Throwdini, and he gave up after three attempts.

He says he regularly throws 80 knives a minute at home. Yes, but not when it counts, huh, pal? His assistant, the lovely Katarina (ph), says she's been on the job two years and has never been hit by a knife. A meat cleaver? No comment.

To Shagen (ph), in the Netherlands, where one man says he's nearly ready for the great flood. Johann Pevers (ph) is almost finished with his replica of the biblical ship Noah's Ark. He is ready to pack in the animals two by two, ox and camel and kangaroo. Actually, he's got a couple of sheep and a rabbit and stuff. That's about it for now.

Right now, it will be a place to educate children about the Bible. But if the flood comes, this is the guy who's ready for it. Pevers says his boat is just one-fifth the size of Noah's, but then again, Noah did not have to deal with union labor, did he? And don't you forget my unicorn.

Speaking of animals, the entire month's worth of headlines and high-wire acts from Oddball, including the saga of the incredible falling cat and the incredible decision we made to make her watch herself on tape.

Speaking of losing your grip, on the third anniversary of the first Countdown, our present to you, the latest on Bill O'Reilly's dream of getting us canceled.

Those stories ahead, but first, here are Countdown's top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, Konoshin Kawabata of Osaka, Japan, arrested for burglary after he really, truly picked the wrong building to break into. Police say he was rummaging around in the dark in a training center on the grounds of the Shun-Ji (ph) Temple, when he woke up the 17 sumo wrestlers who were sleeping in bunks in there. Somehow, they managed to hold him until police arrived.

Number two, astronomers at Britain's (INAUDIBLE) Observatory. They say they've discovered a giant, 300 billion-mile-wide alcohol cloud at the far reaches of our galaxy. Hey, could we still fire up that Russian space station, the "Mir"? They'll drive.

Number one, Joseph Ingrisani of Margate, Florida, other side of the state. He was playing the slot machine at the Hard Rock Casino in the neighborhood. Apparently he did not notice all the bells and the whistles, the flashing lights, and the sirens after he pulled the lever for the last time. He walked out of the casino not realizing he had just hit the jackpot for nearly $230,000.

Officials tracked down the 79-year-old Mr. Ingrisani through the club card he was using to play. They sent a limo to his house to pick him up to give him his winnings, part of which, I assume, he will be spending on a new hearing aid.


OLBERMANN: Third birthday of the show, third story in the show. That was a no-brainer. So was deciding how to celebrate it: by updating you on the guy who's least happy about the anniversary. Talk about no-brainers.

Despite Bill O'Reilly's best efforts to the contrary, in the words of Gloria Gaynor, more or less, we have survived. And look, statistics. Countdown up 46 percent in what the big giant head likes to call the key demographic. O'Reilly down 24 percent.

All this despite his online petition a month ago, raising concern, quote, "about the well-being of MSNBC," asking for my firing and the return of Phil Donahue. So we all signed the petition. Apparently, we were just about the only ones who signed it.

At the heart of this, of course, is the idea that he does not have tender feelings about me or about this newscast. I never said anything factually incorrect about the man. Never taken his many stupid comments out of context or anything. Never mixed up his various personal attacks with his various personal scandals. So I can't imagine what it could possibly be.


OLBERMANN: And Bill O'Reilly is at it again.

None other than the big giant head himself.

In "Oddball," the definition thereof, Bill O'Reilly.

Now I can remove this stupid mask. Tito, hand me a loofah.

BILL O'REILLY, HOST, FOX NEWS' "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": I am a stupid guy. And every guy listening knows how that is.

OLBERMANN: The big giant head again, explaining to his radio audience that we won the Second World War because of spanking.

Bill O'Reilly about women just talking dirty with some guy and it would be no - oh, yes. Loofah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Save the tapes! Save the tapes!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Save the tapes! Save the tapes!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Save the tapes! Save the tapes!

OLBERMANN: You're damn right, I'm curious. Would I have gotten this giant prop check made if I was not serious?

Apparently, you have him to thank for the recent minor drop in gas prices. He has told an interviewer, "I have five guys inside the five major oil companies. They got scared because of my reporting and reporting of some others. They said, 'Uh-oh'." Thanks, Bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait. We need a distraction, something divisive and wily, a fabrication straight from the mouth of O'Reilly.

OLBERMANN: You hear his whole attack on Christmas nonsense that he made up? The fantasy that you can't say "merry Christmas," but you can only say "happy holidays," the thing designed to stir up religious hatred and paranoia in this country?

Guess what they're selling over at the FOX News online store: the FOX News holiday ornament and "The O'Reilly Factor" holiday ornament.

O'REILLY: The world could blow the hell up. They'd be dead and saying, "How many people are dead from Katrina? How can we make fun of it?" That's what you do.

JON STEWART, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL'S "THE DAILY SHOW": I will say this; we do add insult to injury.

O'REILLY: You do.


O'REILLY: He's an honest man.


O'REILLY: He's an honest man.

STEWART: You add injury.

O'REILLY: I add injury?

You want to be your own country, go right ahead. And if al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, "Look, every other place in America is off limits to you except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead."

OLBERMANN: Quoting, "You can have a militia that's a rainbow coalition armed with spatulas, and the basic training will be in hate. OK, we'll have it right on the Castro Street. March up and down. Since they are so good at parades," unquote.

So Bill, you've now insulted all the gay people, too. Terrific.

As a public service I'm going to read portions of his remarks and then translate them into what he's actually saying.

"'Talking Points' is troubled by the behavior of NBC, which cheap shots FOX News on a regular basis and has been doing so for some time."

When we quote your own words back to you about how the Catholic Church was out to get Christmas or how we should let al Qaeda attack San Francisco, they must seem like cheap shots.

"We hope Robert Wright will right the situation, and believe he has the power to do it. But perhaps we're wrong about Wright."

Bill made a funny.

Bill O'Reilly, today's worst person in the world.

Today's worst person in the world!

Today's worst person in the world.

Today's worst person in the - you know the rest.

O'REILLY: This brutal ordeal is now officially over, and I will never speak of it again.

OLBERMANN: Don't you tell me it's over. I'll tell you if it's over.


OLBERMANN: Well, so I keep calling him on stuff. Then again, speaking of calling, you may remember when a caller to the O'Reilly radio show mentioned my name on his air, and he threatened to send the FOX security and/or the police and/or the Mutant Ninja Turtles over to the guy's house.


O'REILLY: Orlando, Florida, Mike, go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Bill, I appreciate you taking my call.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like to listen to you during the day. I think Keith Olbermann's show...

O'REILLY: There you go. Mike is - he's a gone guy. You know, we have this - we have your phone numbers, by the way. So if you're listening, Mike, we have your phone number, and we're going to turn it over to FOX security, and you'll be getting a little visit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe Mike is from the mother ship.

O'REILLY: No, maybe Mike is going to get in big trouble. Because we're not going to play around. When you call us, ladies or gentlemen, just so you know, we do have your phone number. And if you say anything untoward, obscene or anything like that, FOX security then will contact your local authorities, and you will be held accountable. Fair?


O'REILLY: So just, all you guys who do this kind of a thing, you know, I know some shock jocks, whatever - you will be held accountable. Believe it. We'll be right back.


OLBERMANN: That call was first available on the O'Reilly show web site, archived. Then it was erased. Then we located the caller himself and asked him what else he had said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I said was, "Hey, Bill, thanks for taking my call. I like to listen to you in the afternoons, because Keith Olbermann has the best show at 8. Why ARE you always smearing him?"

OLBERMANN: That was it? There was no swearing? There was no...



OLBERMANN: Three years, we can't get any lights.

And that's where it stands to the minute. It's been quiet over there at the Ministry of Truth. Too quiet. Or as we know, all of human existence divides evenly into two categories, those times when Bill O'Reilly has just said something stupid or destructive and those times when Bill O'Reilly is about to say something stupid or destructive.

Seriously, our thanks to you for making this birthday possible.

Speaking of birthdays, is that Britney Spears in mid delivery? The artist joins us. And the Naomi Campbell perp walk. The latest: how her arrest for phone flinging might have something to do with Oprah Winfrey. That and more ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Britney Spears in stone, a tribute to motherhood. A sculpture showing her mid-birth, on all fours, on a bearskin rug. The artist joins us. And later, the "Oddball" plays of the month. That's next. This is Countdown.


OLBERMANN: We have followed the trials and tribulations of Britney Spears on this news hour, usually against my will. Her sudden marriage to Jason Alexander in Los Vegas, its annulment, her marriage to Kevin Federline - tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. To say nothing of their apparently insistence on breeding. And as for Ms. Spears' bold grab at the title of mother of the year, it was the time she was caught driving her SUV with baby Sean on her lap.

So on our No. 2 story on THE Countdown tonight, we all want to know how Britney Spears becomes the inspiration for a tribute to motherhood. In fact, a life size sculpture of "La Spears" on a bear skin rug on the verge of giving birth, will be displayed at the Capla Kesting Fine Art Gallery in Brooklyn, New York, for two weeks next month. The work is titled "Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston".

Joining me now, the sculptor, Daniel Edwards.

Thank you for your time tonight, sir.

DANIEL EDWARDS, SCULPTOR: Thank you for having me.

OLBERMANN: Why Britney Spears, why now and why this?

EDWARDS: Last summer there was a lot of interest in Britney Spears' pregnancy, and I caught the tail end of it right around the time she was about to give birth.

And it dawned on me that, in my lifetime, was the most hyped pregnancy I can ever recall. And it caused me to kind of sit and wonder what that was all about. And so I kind of became a little bit inspired by it. I saw her on the cover of "Elle" magazine and saw that she was quite a beautiful pregnant woman. So I'm a father of three myself, so I pursued it.

OLBERMANN: How long did it take you to create?

EDWARDS: I started at the end of September. And finished it quite recently. So what is it, six months, six and a half months?

OLBERMANN: How is this that - how did you connect it, though, specifically with this idea of the pro-life statement?

EDWARDS: Well, as I was thinking about it and wondering why everybody might be so interested in it, I thought there was a move or maybe an undercurrent towards pro-life. So you know, if you can illustrate a pregnant woman, it says more before pro-life. I mean, in this country the issue is kind of separated into two points of view: pro-choice and pro-life, and a pregnant woman doesn't represent pro-choice.

OLBERMANN: The reaction that you've gotten to this, I understand, has been - there has been, basically, the two extremes, positive or negative. What's the most interesting to you of the reactions?

EDWARDS: They're all interesting to me. The bear skin rug is the one that baffles me the most. There's four or five issues that people kind of bring up.

But the bear skin rug, when I was a little kid, I remember the popularity of seeing old baby photos of babies on a bear skin rug. Nobody else seems to recall that.

OLBERMANN: No. I'm with you on that. I remember it very well. If it was not something that was common in recent history, it certainly was still etched in as a reference to earlier times.

One other thing about one of your other works I wanted to ask about, you did a piece last year called the Ted Williams Memorial Display with Death Mask for the Ben Affleck 2004 World Series Collection. What was that about?

EDWARDS: That's correct. Well, when I heard about Ted Williams' decapitation for cryogenics, I was quite shocked. I mean, it really, really hit me and it never left me. And I was always a Ted Williams fan. And you know, I was in a position where I could kind of make - express that and make a statement about it. And so I did. And I don't know - I don't know that I think it was the wrong thing but...

OLBERMANN: It was an influential one, certainly.

Daniel Edwards, artist and sculptor and depicter of the pregnant Britney Spears. Great thanks for your time.

EDWARDS: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Next, perhaps, a statue of Naomi Campbell, her arm fully extended just before she wings a telephone at one of her employees. That would be an easy segue, then, into our nightly roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, "Keeping Tabs."

Yesterday we told you about the model's arrest for assault after she allegedly threw a phone at her housekeeper's head. Now we learn her anger may have been fueled by a missing pair of jeans and Oprah.

According to prosecutors, Ms. Campbell could not find the pair of jeans she wanted to wear on Oprah Winfrey's show. She became angry. She accused her housekeeper of stealing clothes. Housekeeper Ana Scolavino needed four staples for a head laceration.

The judge released Ms. Campbell on her own recognizance at yesterday's arraignment. They also issued an order of protection against her, barring contact with in Ms. Scolavino. The judge also said Ms. Scolavino would have to give up her key to Campbell's Park Avenue apartment.

Campbell's next court appearance is June 27. Or the national shot-put championships, whichever comes first.

Meantime, a storybook marriage is at an end, apparently. He fell in love we are her despite her past life as an exotic dancer. She warned him if he ever cheated on her she'd sleep with all of his co-workers.

Anna Benson has filed for divorce from her baseball pitcher husband Chris. She says the marriage is irretrievably broken. "The New York Daily News" says the Baltimore Orioles pitcher cheated on her with one of her friends.

Now serving uniform No. 38. Uniform No. 38, please.

Actually, a spokesman for Mrs. Benson says that stuff about sleeping with the teammates was just a joke. There's also no truth to rumors that Mrs. Benson's chest will be investigated for using steroids.

No supermodels but definitely super controversy ahead. The "Oddball Month in Rewind." This is not the prime minister of Italy. But why not?

First, time for Countdown's three nominees for today's worst person in the world.

The bronze tonight to Fanny Amun, acting secretary-general of Nigeria's soccer league. Its referees apparently take a lot of bribes to fix league games. Amun's solution: take the bribes, then screw over the bribers. Quote, "Referees should only pretend to fall for the bait but make sure the result doesn't favor offering the bribe."

And your advice to your refs when the fixers feel double crossed?

Perhaps the one word, "Run"?

Tonight's runner-up, David M. Boudreaux, youth minister of Liberty, Missouri. He's been arrested on assault charges after a dodge ball game with the kids from his church. One of the 16-year-olds managed to hit Boudreaux square in the face with the ball. He did not react well. He knocked the kid to the ground and kicked him in the groin.

Hold on. What kind of church lets nearly fully grown kids play dodge ball?

But our winner, radio's Neal Boortz. We told you that Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney was arrested after allegedly striking a police office at a Capitol Hill security checkpoint. Boortz declared that Representative McKinney, who is an African-American, has new hairstyle that makes her look, quote, "like a ghetto slut"; quote, "like an explosion at a Brillo Pad factory"; quote, "like Tina Turner peeing on an electric fence"; and quote, "like a Shitzu."

He claims he's permitted to say these things because he's endured years of bald remarks. OK, endure this one: you're a bald racist. Radio's Neal Boortz - that's "boor" plus a "t" and a "z" - today's worst person in the world!


OLBERMANN: Finally tonight, we get a lot of viewer mail and e-mail on this. It's also basically the same thing. Paragraphs of "Keith, we love your great show" at the top, and of course, Bill O'Reilly's signature at the bottom.

But many of them in the middle ask, "How do you create your 'Oddball Plays of the Month'?" Well, of course, that's like asking how did Mozart write the national anthem? Or how did Columbus discover the moon? In reality, the answer is, I just turn it over to the vast production team.

That's the No. 1 story on the Countdown, our highlights of the four past weeks, the "Oddball Plays of the Month." Two notes: the cat lived and that's not who you nor the vast production team think it is. Let's play "Oddball."


OLBERMANN (voice-over): We begin in Detroit.

We begin in Rio de Janeiro.

We begin outside of Wichita, Kansas.

We begin in Kadena (ph), Lithuania.

We begin in New York's Central Park with the Countdown coyote chase of the week. He was spotted two days ago on the Upper East Side. Apparently, the Road Runner's got a little place on 83rd and Flax (ph).


OLBERMANN: To Nagoya, now, for another episode of "Those Amazing Japanese Robots". This is Sri Man (ph), designed to work in hospitals and nursing homes, picking up the patients and moving them around. It's the latest technological marvel from the worldwide leader in automatons and yet another slap in the face to the American robot industry, which has thus far brought us Roomba.

To Tokyo, where Major League Baseball icon Tommy Lasorda honors "Oddball" tonight by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Tommy Lasorda, everybody.


And Newcastle's Oliver Bernard (ph) is going down.

Here, thousands have gathered to watch gigantic hunks of the thing break off and fall in the river. Dude, global warming rocks, dude!

Now a story from the files of weird stuff we found on the Internets (sic). You may have heard about Piper the cat, stuck 80 feet up in a South Carolina tree for almost eight days. Well, today he came down.

He's all right, folks. He's a cat.

And as long as we're finding weird video clips on the Internets (sic), we have an instant classic. What we're told is the controversial Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, greeting an alert, uniformed female traffic officer before getting into his limo. At least our leaders keep that behind closed Oval Office doors.

Yes, the folks who brought you "young girls in a lizard tank with pork chops strapped to their heads," tonight bringing us a new instant classic: young girl in a polar bear tank with a baby seal on her head. Sort of.

We're back at the panda kindergarten again in Chengdu City. Aw! Aw!

Aw! OK. That's enough of that crap.

Look, poisonous snakes.

Acrobatic cats, everybody.

Domo Arigato, Mr. Robot Cart.

More than 16 people showed up to watch the acrobat brothers of the Maharashtra jump through rings of fire, break rocks and spin around really fast with bicycles tied to their heads. I have very strong hair. Live with it.

Finally, a shocking update of the video of the man we believe to be Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. All right. We don't have an update. We just wanted to play the tape again.

It's another Countdown car chase of the week, but we're mixing it up a bit. "COPS Chasing COPS, Without Tires."

Miamisburg, Ohio, hello.

The Upshur County courthouse in West Virginia. Twenty-eight-year-old Sara Zabolotny had just paid a speeding ticket. On her way out of the courthouse, she stole the rug from the courthouse lobby. Mercy. Didn't even wait for the other guy to get out of the room. Police say she had the thing in her home. They add, it really tied the room together.

This is 46-year-old Marty Simpson there, trying to hold up the Quickie Mart. A little tough to make out his face in the video on account of the milk crate he has got on his head. Mr. Simpson was arrested shortly after leaving the store, despite the ingenious disguise. Somehow, people still recognized him. Of course. "Marty, is that you? Get that milk crate off your head."

(on camera) Earlier this week on two separate occasions, we brought you a video we found on the Internets (sic). A man we thought at the time was Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi acting - well, acting inappropriately.

We were not able to confirm with 100 percent certainty that it actually was Silvio Berlusconi, but it sure looked like him, and he played the tape anyway, twice.

Tonight I'm sorry to say we've decided to play it again.

(voice-over) The balding man with the dark hair making a beeline for the traffic officer is the man we think is Berlusconi. And we have to admit, if he's not the leader of Italy, he certainly is the prime minister of getting it on.

(on camera) It's not Berlusconi.


OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this, the 1,056th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.

A reminder to join us again at midnight Eastern, 11 p.m. Central, 9 Pacific for the late edition of Countdown, when my hair will look like that. Until then, a special presentation of "LOCK UP: INSIDE UTAH STATE PENITENTIARY".

Keith Olbermann. Keep your knees loose. Good night and good luck.