Friday, April 28, 2006

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for April 28

Guests: Tom Breuer, Joseph Amann, Dana Milbank

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

Mug shot, we have mug shot. Comedian Rush Limbaugh arrested on charges of prescription drug fraud. One-half his brain, as he likes to say, tied behind his back, symbolically at least, both his hands cuffed behind his back.

The gas crisis. Too bad hybrid engines can't run on the hot air produced by our politicians. Senate Republicans propose a $100 tax rebate per driver. Speaker Hastert pumps hydrogen-fueled vehicles. Unfortunately, the speaker is then caught on film getting out of the hydrogen-fueled vehicle and getting back into his gas-guzzling SUV.

No song, no dance, no seltzer down your pants, says big league baseball, if and when Barry Bonds passes Babe Ruth on the home-run list. Maybe they could just toss him a souvenir commemorative bat. What happens to the number-one prospect in the game after he hits an ump with a bat?

Shock jock indeed. Listeners tuning in expecting NPR or Christian radio, they're looking for Jesus Christ, and instead they get, Jesus Christ!


HOWARD STERN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Honey, I heard you like to get spanked. Is that true?



OLBERMANN: How Howard Stern showed up on religious radio.

And dead man getting smeared. Bill-O hits a new high in low. To O'Reilly, this man is a villain, unprofessional, incompetent. Turns out he's also dead. Bill O'Reilly beats up a dead guy.

All that and more, now on Countdown.


BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Because we're looking out for you.


OLBERMANN: Good evening.

What a Rush. His attorney says he and his client are pleased that this validates their claim that Rush Limbaugh never doctor-shopped. But if there is a compromise between the commentator and prosecutors in Florida, it is one that includes a virtual sword of Damocles hanging over Limbaugh's head for the next 18 months.

Our fifth story on the Countdown tonight, there's a plea deal, there's a rehab program, and there will be one charge of doctor-shopping that will remain pending against Limbaugh until about November 1 of 2007. And whatever else happens or does not, there will ever forever be Rush Limbaugh, the mug shot. Rush behind bars.

After three years of jousting with prosecutors in the Palm Beach area over accusations of doctor-shopping and pill-popping, of getting new prescriptions for painkillers like oxycontin from physician after physician, of possessing literally thousands of pills, and using his own household staff to collect them in some cases, Limbaugh turned himself in at about 4:00 p.m. Eastern time today.

The process, the mug shot, the bail of $3,000 over in about an hour, with the formal filing of the negotiated resolution to come sometime during the day Monday. Limbaugh entered a not-guilty plea to the remaining charge of fraud to conceal information to obtain prescriptions. It will remain open for 18 months. If he continues with the rehab program for drug users and avoids any other legal problems, that charge will be dropped. He's also agreed to pay $30,000 to help - to the state to help defray the costs of its investigation.

While we try to sort out here if this gets filed, in the terminology of this program, in the Countdown Apology Hall of Fame, the Mug Shot Hall of Fame, Oddball, or Worst Person in the World, let's stick to the facts with our correspondent Mark Potter, in Washington at the moment, and having covered this thing firsthand for nearly three now - years now from Florida.

Mark, thanks for joining us.


This is the culmination of a nearly three-year investigation and court battle, court after court after court, over those allegations that Limbaugh shopped for prescriptions illegally, obtaining overlapping prescriptions from numerous doctors.

And really, this is the best possible deal he could have gotten, aside from the charges actually being dropped and the investigation rolled up, before we got to this point.

Under the settlement, as you said, a single fraud charge has been laid out by the prosecutors, it has been filed, the doctor-shopping charge, but it will be dropped in 18 months if just he meets a few conditions. He has to continue his drug treatment, he has to stay clean, as he - his lawyer says that he has done ever since he went into treatment, and he has to pay that $30,000 fee that you were talking about.

Probably the worst part of this is what you were also talking about, he had to go to the jail to be photographed and booked. But that was done very quietly today and very quickly. He has to be monitored for 18 months. But if he does all that properly, this will all be dismissed, and be behind him, at least from a legal standpoint, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Mark, is there anything in this that establishes the facts here, number of pills, number of doctors, or will the truth, or the guilt, or the innocence all remain hazy here?

POTTER: Yes, I think it's going to be the latter, hazy. There's not much here. This simply says that a single charge has been filed. He has to do these things, and out with it 18 months later. There's really not much here. And after all the court battle and after all the investigation, it's come to this.

And for those who were looking for much more, this is a disappointment. For those who support them, this is quite a relief. There's not much here except that photograph.

OLBERMANN: But that remaining open count, does it indeed, the analogy I used there earlier, the sword of Damocles, does that work here? I mean, why is it there, so they can drop it on him on a moment's notice if he violates the terms of the rehab or gets into some other kind of trouble?

POTTER: Absolutely. That's exactly it. I spoke to a spokesman for the state attorney's office today, and he said that if Rush does not complete the treatment, or, you know, if he errs off the path that he's supposed to be on, they can then file the charges and go forward with this.

So this is hanging over his head. In order to have the charges dismissed, his record absolutely clean, and he has to follow the rules. And so it is hanging over him. Your analogy is correct.

OLBERMANN: And you mentioned it earlier, this was a drive-through event this afternoon. Was it a surprise in totality? Did anyone know this was going to be in court on this afternoon, or was it the proverbial take-out-the-bad-news-on-a-Friday kind of saga?

POTTER: Well, exactly that, on a late Friday afternoon, at that. We knew that it would probably come to this.

There had - you know, this was tried once before earlier in the process, and it fell apart. It was a much tougher deal to Limbaugh at that time than this one, by the way. This is a softer deal than one - than the one first offered by the original prosecutor, who, by the way, has gone away to become a judge. A new team is here. They had to deal with evidence that's old now. You know, this thing went on for a couple of years in court, and the investigators couldn't even look at the case.

So you know what happens to evidence as time passes. Perhaps this was the best that they thought that they could do as well.

But this is not a surprise that it happened, it's a surprise that it happened this afternoon, so late and so quickly and without anybody being known. Our affiliated station in West Palm learned about it because a viewer happened to be going through the Web site for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department and saw that and went, Holy cow, I need to call somebody. And that's how we found out about it.

I'd like to claim that it happened another way, but that's how it started.

OLBERMANN: Publicity is a great thing, especially if you know when to have it and when to prevent it.

Correspondent Mark Potter, who's been covering what now looks like the end of the Rush Limbaugh pill-popping saga. Many thanks, Mark.

POTTER: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Scandal something of a cottage industry among Republicans these days, from a radio host who's made a living off taking phone calls, to a dirty tricks scheme to jam the phone lines of a Democratic get-out-the-vote campaign in New Hampshire on election day 2002, a big name in the Republican Party now having been tied to that scheme, corporate records obtained by NBC News showing there was a financial connection between Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, former chairman of the Republican party, and the company that arranged the phone-jamming operation in New Hampshire, Mr. Barbour, one of the original big-money investors in that Virginia firm, GOP Marketplace.

The records do not show that he played any role in the phone-jamming operation itself, but his ties to the firm are causing critics to wonder if other Republican leaders might be involved. Republican John Sununu defeated Democratic Governor Jeanne Shaheen in that 2002 election for Senate in what was supposed to be a close race.

For more on the phone-jamming revelations and the rest of the day's jamming scandal news in Washington, let's call in our correspondent David Shuster.

Thanks for joining us, David.


OLBERMANN: I'm missing something here on this New Hampshire jamming story. Corporate records do not specifically show a role for Mr. Barbour in the jamming operation, just in that - in the company. The Republican National Committee says the people who did this were rogue operatives. So why did the Republican National Committee pay millions in legal expenses for one of those rogue operatives, this man James Tobin?

SHUSTER: Well, the Republican National Committee has had excuses all over the map. The latest explanation is that they wanted to honor a previous commitment to James Tobin.

But the key to all of this might be the 25 phone calls that Mr. Tobin made to the White House Office of Political Affairs on that election day and right afterwards. Ken Mehlman, who's now the chairman of the Republican Party, he was in charge of that White House policy shop at the time. He's not been able to explain half the phone calls. Nobody else at the White House has been able to explain the phone calls. Mr. Tobin might be able to explain the phone calls, but he's not saying anything, perhaps because he doesn't want to anger the people at the Republican Party who are paying $2.5 million worth of his legal fees.

OLBERMANN: I suddenly feel, in looking at this story, like I'm at the International House of Pancakes as a 10-year-old, and I've got one of those placemats that have all the little numbers that you connect, literally 30 or 40 dots that you are connecting here, and finally they make somebody's face. Is it possible they're going to make Jack Abramoff's face out of all of this? There's some connection between the American (INAUDIBLE), American tribes that he represented to this case?

SHUSTER: Well, and that what makes this so curious. There were Indian tribes, two Indian tribes that cut a couple of checks to the state Republican Party, New Hampshire's Republican Party, that was equal to the cost of the phone-jamming operation.

And what's so intriguing about all of this is that New Hampshire does not have any Indian gambling. There are no interests whatsoever for the Indian casinos in New Hampshire. The only thing that might have caught their interest was the fact that a number of top Republicans here in Washington knew that New Hampshire was going to have a close election, and those Republicans who knew that included Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff, and presumably all the other money operatives who were trying to figure out how to possibly influence that election.

OLBERMANN: Let's check in on some of the other scandals here, CIA leaks, are we getting some better idea when there's going to be a decision on the possible indictment or clearing of Karl Rove?

SHUSTER: Well, Karl Rove's legal team says that they were told by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that it would take at least 10 days for the grand jury and for Fitzgerald to make a decision. The bad news in all this for Karl Rove is that it means that after three and a half hours of testimony, where he's answering a wide variety of questions on Wednesday, his fifth grand jury appearance, the prosecutors were not willing to clear Karl Rove, nor were they willing to give any sort of signal that Rove's answers satisfied the grand jury.

So at the very least, we have to say that the purgatory in Plamegate for Karl Rove continues.

OLBERMANN: All right, so we've had phones and leaks, and finally, to that standard of politics, sex, that there is something in the Duke Cunningham corruption case, the defense contractors allegedly bribed the former congressman and other lawmakers with toll-free prostitutes. And even a rumor that there are photographs of this. What do we know of it?

SHUSTER: Well, we know that part of the allegations here involve that the defense contractors were setting up these sort of interesting poker parties, unlike the kind of poker parties I've been to, but in any case, poker parties at the Watergate, where the prostitutes would come in, and I presume that they wouldn't be playing cards.

And so the allegation is that, and the suggestion has been, that there are pictures of these poker parties, and who was sitting where, and what they were doing, and who might have left the room for a little while. And those are the photographs that a lot of people seem to be so intrigued about. Again, it's still a little ways away before they can convince the one defense contractor to cooperate with the government, the one defense contractor who has the black book and the memories of the prostitutes and where they went. He's not cooperating with the government, but there's every expectation in Washington that eventually he will, and that's when everything gets really interesting.

OLBERMANN: You said Watergate, didn't you?

SHUSTER: That's right, the poker parties were in the Watergate complex, in the hotel, in the Watergate.

OLBERMANN: Poker? I don't know even know her. MSNBC's David Shuster, great thanks.

SHUSTER: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Tony Snow are already having any regrets about accepting the job of White House press secretary. Buyer's remorse, no doubt, made that much worse by the Q&A session in the Rose Garden on Friday. The strange relationship between the White House and the fourth estate on full display, the president answering a question about staff turnover by turning over the subject to something else, and the reporter who asked the question, our own David Gregory, then calling him on it. Mr. Bush was not amused.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So there's a lot to do, David, and we'll be continue to be results oriented.

Martha Raddatz...

DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I asked you about your internal changes, and what that says about what how you think things need to be changed. They've been very public, your internal changes.

BUSH: Well, David, I, I, I, I'm, I'm a results-oriented person, and my job is to achieve things for the American people, positive results that make us more secure and more prosperous. And of course I will have people by my side that work toward that objective.

Thank you for your penetrating question.

GREGORY: Thank you.

Plus, I'm not going to hire you, if that's what you were suggesting.

GREGORY: I was not suggesting that.

BUSH: I'm sure. I would, except you can't pass the background check.

OK, an unnecessary cheap shot. I take it back.


OLBERMANN: As opposed to all those necessary cheap shots.

Not taking it back but giving it back, a $100 tax rebate to gas buyers would be nice. Speaker of the House jumping out of his hybrid fuel vehicle, back into his SUV, probably isn't nice.

And controversy fuel, the man considered the best bet for future stardom in baseball - well, we already know he's a big leaguer when it comes to helicoptering a bat at an umpire. The latest on this.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: It's hard not to remember the "Hindenburg." Certainly hydrogen fuel technology has improved in the seven decades since the massive Nazi airship went up in flames in New Jersey.

But for present-day speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, the alternative energy source has proven no less disastrous nor combustible, at least politically.

Our fourth story on the Countdown, hot air and high gas prices, politicians of all parties talking the talk on what to do about soaring prices at the pump, but by no means walking the walk, or walking at all. It seemed too good to be true when the Republican representative from Illinois drove off inside this snappy little GM hydrogen fuel cell van after a news conference at a Washington, D.C., gas station.

That's because it was too good to be true. Suspicious photographers followed the speaker, caught him in a bait-and-switch, Mr. Hastert seen here transferring himself into a gas-guzzling SUV. That would be the vehicle on the right, as opposed to he's in the center. It was prepositioned and waiting for him just a few blocks away. At least he was trying to appear enviro-friendly.

No such guise nor gall from Democrats on the Hill, Senator Barbara Boxer of California among those traveling directly to and from this Capitol Hill gas station in an SUV for a dueling news conference.

Here's the best part. Her office was only one block away from the gas station.

The president making an unscheduled stop at a gas station in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Thursday. They must have been giving something away free, like dishes. The motorcade indisputably necessary there, the president's plan for high gas prices, no tax on oil company windfall profits, because the industry should be trusted to reinvest its gains into finding and producing more energy. He also wants the authority, he says, to raise fuel economy standards. The power to do that currently belongs to Congress.

Well, what's one more power ceded by the legislative branch to the executive branch?

Time now to call in "Washington Post" national political reporter Dana Milbank, who has been following D.C.'s addiction to gas-policy posturing all week long.

Dana, thanks for your time.

DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I'd appreciate it if you could make this snappy, Keith. My Hummer's downstairs with the air conditioning on.

OLBERMANN: Is - And the heat. Is the - is this the perfect D.C. hypocrisy story, if only because everybody here, Republicans, Democrats, presidents, would-be presidents, does not and should not escape unscathed?

MILBANK: Well, it's a fabulous cheap shot, which is why I particularly enjoy it, and in that in the speaker's case, of course he has to have not only a Suburban but an up-armored Suburban. So you can only imagine how many gallons of gas that thing's taking.

I just waited outside of the Senate chamber while the senators were voting yesterday and watched them hop into their SUVs one after the other, whether it was a Lexus or a Dodge Durango. I - there was one senator from Indiana, Richard Lugar, bless him, got into a Prius, but that was about it.

OLBERMANN: How do they do this when they know they're such fair game and such easy game under these circumstances?

MILBANK: Well, people generally aren't all that alarmed about hypocrisy up here, and nobody pays much attention to it. So, look, we're having a debate about high gas prices, and there's not much Congress can do about it to lower the gas prices. They can raise taxes on oil companies, they can have some sort of a rebate here or there, but they can't lower the prices. All they can do is point fingers and blame at each other, which, of course, opens them up to those sorts of wise guys who will go outside and take pictures of them in whatever vehicle they get into.

OLBERMANN: Yes, they may (INAUDIBLE) no longer notice it, but the rest of us sure do. You mentioned this rebate, this $100 tax rebate from this, from the Republicans in the Senate to offset the gas prices. Is there a chance that something like that can happen?

MILBANK: Well, it's actually interesting, because you can get the $100 rebate, but only if they agree to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which sounds to me like it's some sort of a legal bribe.

Very unlikely that'll happen. The Democrats will block it. Very unlikely one of these windfall profits on the oil companies will happen, because the Republicans will block that.

But the point is that Congress this week and next week is going to do what it does best, and that is just talk a great deal.

OLBERMANN: I thought you were going to say, take a break and go on vacation.

The second question, though, related to that rebate. I don't own a car. Would I qualify for the rebate anyway?

MILBANK: Keith, we're going to get you special taxi fare. Rahm Emanuel in charge of the House Republicans' reelection campaign was asked what he drives today, and he pulled out his Metro cards from D.C. and his Chicago Transit cards.

OLBERMANN: That's good for him.

The - one thing contained in this that was fascinating, the president saying that he wants the power in his hands to raise fuel economy standards for cars. Is that the key part of that sentence, raising of standards, or is the key part of it that he wants to take authority to change the standards away from Congress?

MILBANK: Presidential authority. Certainly, if we can do warrantless wiretapping, then what's wrong with giving the president some corporate average fuel economy? Next week, the Senate's going to take up whether to assign the president the line-item veto again. So there's been a one-way shift of power headed down Pennsylvania Avenue, so any excuse will do at this point.

OLBERMANN: Dana Milbank, national political reporter of "The Washington Post," as always, sir, great thanks for your time.

MILBANK: Good evening.

OLBERMANN: Oh, well, if gas prices get really high, at least you can always ride a trusty old bike to - How about a skateboard? Skateboard (INAUDIBLE)?

Just when you think he can't possibly get any worse, the Big Giant Head proves you and me wrong. The latest smear campaign is against a dead man.

Countdown continues.


OLBERMANN: It is, perhaps, man's fate to forever kill his own kind in conflict. One can still hanker, though, for a time when fear of something larger could stop that, such as the event of April 28, 585 B.C. In the middle of the war between the city-states of Lydia and Media, the sun went into eclipse, and the warriors fled in panic, calling off the conflict, ending the first-known government war against Media.

On that note, let's play Oddball.

We begin in Bijnor (ph), India, with a very special low-key edition of Oddball. Meet Nayim Ahmad (ph), the village best young craftsman, master of the art in the bottle genre. Here we see Nayim building a small bed in the bottle. Either that, or he's poking at a bug. Takes a very steady hand and tremendous amounts of patience, so you can imagine that Nayim is wound a little tight.

Every now and then, Nayim screws up, and - well, you don't want to see that. You wouldn't like Nayim when he's angry.

More low-key activity. Here's a man riding a bicycle across Beachy Head (ph) in England. There's a cliff up ahead. There's a cliff up ahead. There's a...

Don't worry, folks, he's a trained professional base jumper. Had a parachute tied to his back and a camera on his head. Roger Holmes has done this all over the world and safely floated to the bottom of the 500-foot gorge. Sadly, the bike didn't survive, and we don't have any tape of all the times he didn't mean to do this.

Speaking of proverbially on the edge of a cliff, it's Barry Bonds. Baseball tries to figure out if and how to commemorate it when he passes Babe Ruth's historic but not record total of 714 career home runs.

And what to do about this? Take my bat, please. Please.

Those stories ahead.

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

Number three, Teresa L. Kaiser, arrested in Portland on suspicions of DUI and reckless driving after a crash. Sad to say, an all-too-common event, but noteworthy if you are, as Ms. Kaiser was, the executive director of the Oregon State Liquor Control Commission.

Number two, Nick Giannakouras, owner of West Side Moroni's Restaurant in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. His place has lost his license to serve alcohol now after he was found guilty of throwing a patron out of the bar because she would not buy a drink, because she was the designated driver.

Number one, Richard and Stephanie North of Cincinnati, arrested for swiping a big-screen TV but trying to carry it off in a small-screen car. Police nailed them when they saw a Mercury Sable going down the street with one of its doors opened, and most of a 55-inch flat screen hanging out. Your mug shots will look great on that, kids.


OLBERMANN: How to behave on a baseball field has been a conundrum since the first organized ball club, the Knickerbockers of New York established a rule in 1846 that any player caught swearing was subject to an immediate fine of six cents.

Regrettably the Knickerbockers did not give any guidance about what to do about a player who throws a bat at an umpire or another who has allegedly been cheating for eight years and is about to pass a career milestone established by the most famous athlete in the history of sports.

Our third story, the young and the restless in baseball. Young. Bat-thrower Delmon Young, in a moment. First, the restless.

Barry Bonds, who through play Thursday had hit three home runs in a span of 10 at bats to creep within three of Babe Ruth's legendary total, 714.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bonds goes the other way, hits it hard, hits it deep, out of here! He's on the board.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's deep left field. Floyd (ph) going back, and that ball is gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two-one from Wagner. Left it in the air. Deep left center field. It's out of here! Barry Bonds ties the game!


OLBERMANN: So Bonds had 711 and Ruth 714. But Ruth's 714 stopped being the record 32 seasons ago, when Hank Aaron hit his 715th. And Bond isn't just under a cloud of suspicion over steroid choice. He's virtually encased in concrete by now. Plus, how does baseball commemorate if and when Bonds hits number 715?

The answer has now come from baseball commissioner, Bud Selig. It won't.

"Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's record," Selig says. "We don't celebrate anybody the second or third time in."

Selig has a very good point. Then commissioner Bowie Kuhn wasn't even there when Hank Aaron broke Ruth's record. And it's not like baseball stopped the game and started playing kazoos when Nolan Ryan moved into second place in the all-time list of strikeouts by a pitcher.

Speaking of strike-outs, baseball hitters have never taken kindly to them, especially when the umpire has called them out on a third strike in which they did not swing.

But short is the list of players who have ever responded by attacking the ump with a bat. Delmon Young, ranked the No. 1 probable superstar in all of minor league baseball, has already added his name to that dubious scroll.

The 20-year-old outfielder of the Durham Bulls International League rung up by an anonymous fill-in umpire in a game in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. There was an argument, he then walked away. And as soon as he got out of frame, he was thrown out of the game. And then there was some sort of baton twirling display.

The minor league has suspended Young indefinitely. It's believe he'll be out for 20 to 30 games, also that the big-league club which owns his contract, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, will add to that punishment in some way, especially since just a week ago he also had thrown a bat in anger in the direction of opposing pitcher.

Whether the immensely talented Young begins to act the right way will await the test of time, but he has talked the right way. Quote, "I owe an apology to my team, the fans and most importantly to the umpire for the incident. I am sorry."

But one thing more about the incident, not about Delmon Young, not about that anonymous umpire, and they really are keeping the names of the fill-ins secret, while the regular minor league umpires are on strike.

It's not even about the skill required to make a bat do that. It's about the catcher, Corky Miller of the Pawtucket Red Sox. The bat has gone past him flying almost like a flying star propelled by a ninja death master, and he nonchalantly just puts his mask back on, like this happens every day.

Corky is a 30-year-old journeyman, a veteran of just 88 games, stretched out over five big league seasons, but he is a pro. Remember that name. That amount of sang froid, he's going to be a big-league coach or even a manager some day.

Speaking of being in charge of something, if you're the judge ruling on the "The Da Vinci Code" case, why not sprinkle your decision with a secret coded message of your own?

Speaking of surprises, listeners to religious radio expecting to hear about the Holy Spirit instead got a lot of - holy bleep - Howard Stern appearing where Billy Hargis ought to be. Details when Countdown continues.


OLBERMANN: Cracking a code. A judge takes a liberty with the law to play a little game with "Da Vinci Code" fanatics.

And just cracked. Bill O'Reilly encourages his rabble to call up and harass a dead man. Ahead as Countdown continues.


OLBERMANN: In the throes of the awful baseball players strike of 1981, the owners and the players wound up in a courtroom. To their horror and the horror of their attorneys and the horror of the legal pros who were present, the judge had festooned his bench with pennants depicting logos of various ball clubs.

On the walls behind him were posters of some of the star players of the day. He eventually asked all the player witnesses for their autographs.

Our No. 2 story in the Countdown, we don't know what causes members of the judiciary to just break like that. Perhaps it's having to wear those awful robes, or the result of the constraints of writing those invariably boring opinions.

Any way, it's happened again. Not players and autographs but the judge's opinion in the suit about the book "The Da Vinci Code." It contains a secret message.

Countdown's senior cryptanalysis correspondent, Monica Novotny, joins us. Cryptanalysis. Secret codes in writing, the study thereof. Hi.


OLBERMANN: Your turn.

NOVOTNY: Got it. Good evening, sir.

It took more than two weeks for someone to notice. The judge's written ruling in the "The Da Vinci Code" copyright case includes his own secret code. That news finally bringing London's legal community to a halt this week, setting off a frenzied 48-hour intellectual treasure hunt, where the only reward was satisfaction.


ELONKA DUNIN, CODE BREAKER: The news just kind of spread like wildfire. The race was on to see who could crack it first.

NOVOTNY (voice-over): Cracking the code, a cryptic puzzle inspired by the controversial best-seller, "The Da Vinci Code". The film won't be released until May 19, but it's real-life offshoot played out this week, thanks to one attentive lawyer.

DAN TENCH, LAWYER: And when I first saw it, I thought it just must be a mistake.

NOVOTNY: But it wasn't. Judge Peter Smith's April 7, 71-page judgment cleared Dan Brown, author of "The Da Vinci Code" in his copyright infringement case and contains the judge's own secret code, inspired by those he'd seen in this courtroom.

JUSTICE PETER SMITH, "DA VINCI CODE" JUDGE: A lot of people there were addressing codes, so I thought, at the end, after the case, I'd give them something to think about.

NOVOTNY: But no one noticed, until weeks later, when attorney Dan Tench took another look.

TENCH: I thought in the context it was rather funny, because the idea of some sort of a code in a judgment of this was in itself quite a humorous idea.

NOVOTNY: Throughout the document Smith sprinkled random letters in bold-faced italics, the first 10 spelling out his code's name, Smithy Code. From there, a jumble of letters leaving readers stumped.

DUNIN: Well, the first two words, "Smithy Code" were very easy. And then after that, it got very difficult.

NOVOTNY: Then a clue in paragraph 52. "The key to solving the conundrum posed by this judgment is in reading HBHG and DVC," referring to the titles of the two books involved in the copyright case.

The media broke the story two days ago, and the race was on among code breakers around the world. The judge reportedly offering clues by e-mail, referring to his bio, indicating a love of naval history. Even suggesting where to find the method to decipher his cipher.

DUNIN: And in "The Da Vinci Code", several different code systems are described, but one of them is something called Fibonacci, which is a number system. Fibonacci is a numeric sequence where you set up a series of numbers, and each number is the sum of the preceding two numbers.

NOVOTNY: Within 48 hours, the lawyer who first found it cracked it.

The answer, "Jackie Fisher, who are you? Dreadnought."

Still puzzled? Smith's tribute to Admiral John "Jackie" Fisher, who in the early 20th Century developed a battleship called the HMS Dreadnought. Thus, the Smithy Code, not as sexy as the Da Vinci, but solved.


NOVOTNY: Now code breakers around the world can return to the code they've been trying to crack for nearly 16 years, Kryptos. That is the 865-charcter coded message on the sculpture at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

OLBERMANN: Three things. Kryptos, cryptanalysis. See, that's how - the way it works.

Jackie Fisher was the - was the head admiral when Winston Churchill was the lord of the admiralty, if I remember, the First World War. But the third thing here, what does Kryptos have to do with "The Da Vinci Code"?

NOVOTNY: Well, "The Da Vinci Code", in the artwork on the original hard cover version of the book, apparently, Dan Brown hid five different messages, five different puzzles. Two of them refer back to Kryptos.

OLBERMANN: Anything that would explain Bill O'Reilly?

NOVOTNY: I don't think anything can explain that man.

OLBERMANN: Thank you for joining on that. Countdown's Monica Novotny, whose name includes the secret message, "tiny moon." Thanks.

It does.


OLBERMANN: Easy segue to our roundup of entertainment stories, "Keeping Tabs." No decoding necessary.

For the listeners of some Christian and public radio stations on the East Coast, they could hear this loud and clear, Howard Stern's R-rated satellite show bleeding into their car radios, and it's a hard "R" rating.

This was not the voice of God talking to you. Station officials blaming poorly installed, poorly built Sirius Satellite radio units which transmit a low power FM signal so that users can listen in on their car radios.

Apparently the devices transmit to the same spots in the dial as some of those radio stations. Those listeners of the Christian radio stations and NPR and others instead got the cavalcade of stripper stunts and rough language that is the Howard Stern radio show.

Bababoey, Lord. Bababoey.

Somebody else who won't be mistaken for a religious figure, Britney Spears. In case you missed the rumor the other night, here it is again. She's pregnant again. So reports "Access Hollywood", and they at least have a date working here. Five months in, they say.

A source close to the family identified as the confirmation. Just last year Ms. Spears and husband Kevin Federline welcomed a bouncing baby boy. And when he literally bounced around, first on Ms. Spears' lap while she was driving, and then out of a high chair at home, even California child welfare authorities sat up and took notice.

And what a two-fer in this news hour. Rush Limbaugh arrested and Bill O'Reilly urges his listeners to telephone a dead guy.

But first, time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for worst person in the world, those two bottomless cups of coffee of worseness notwithstanding. You'll recognize the theme quickly.

The bronze goes to the fire department of Lamont, Illinois. High school student Rebecca George volunteered for one of the department's safety demonstrations. She played injured student No. 1. She sued because she says while she was lying there pretending to be injured, firefighters tried to really injure her by kicking her and stepping on her.

The bronze goes to the St. Petersburg Police Department in Florida. They, too, were staging a drill, a training exercise in which an officer pretending to a golf club wielding passerby was to be arrested.

The two officers who did not know it was a drill, reportedly happened on the scene and promptly tasered the officer who was pretending to be the wielder.

But the winner, counter terror officials at the airport in Belgrade in Serbia-Montenegro. They put actual bombs in about five pieces of luggage being passed through the airport screening system there, and their crack bomb sniffing dogs found four of them. Four out of five.

The other bomb, fortunately without any kind of detonation device, was apparently shipped in the cargo hold of a plane bound for London. Thanks.

Counter terror officials at the Belgrade airport, today's worst persons in the world.


OLBERMANN: Fair and balanced and dead. Our No. 1 story in THE Countdown, Bill O'Reilly has topped or maybe more appropriately, has bottomed even himself. He's attacked a dead guy and encouraged his viewers to call the dead guy. That story ahead with the authors of the book and web masters of the site, Sweet Jesus I Hate Bill O'Reilly.

First a quote from Mr. Murrow. "He did not create the situation of fear. He merely exploited it, and rather successfully."

After threatening to send FOX security and the local authorities to the home of a listener who called into his radio show and said the secret word, my last name, others at FOX News on TV and radio apparently quake in fear of retribution if they say the secret word.


BRIAN KILMEADE, CO-HOST, FOX'S "BRIAN AND THE JUDGE": We're back live in New York City. This is "Brian and the Judge" show, taking over for the great Tony Snow, who's moved on. According to reports - I'm looking for a second source in this - he's working with the president. I didn't really see much about this.


think it's a pretty sound assessment.

KILMEADE: I can't believe he chose to go on Brit Hume and talk about

he did one interview yesterday, as far as I know.

NAPOLITANO: Well, where do you think he's going to go? Keith Olbermann? I shouldn't have said that.

KILMEADE: No, you can say it, but I would say that he couldn't get further enough away from Keith Olbermann.


KILMEADE: He's a train wreck, but no one is watching so why give him publicity? Or listening.


OLBERMANN: Brian Kilmeade knows train wrecks. Don't worry, Brian. I won't tell anybody how you used to tell me you modeled your career on mine.

But seriously, an ex-sportscaster turned to national news commentator And - never mind.

Still, the transgression of the lesser lights at the place whose catch phrase should be "FOX, Not Facts" continued to pale in comparison to the continuing priceless work of Ted Baxter's evil twin.

Unhappy that the newspaper "The Syracuse Post-Standard" smeared him by merely referring to the 2004 Andrea Mackris sexual harassment lawsuit, which he had to settle for a reported $10 million, Mr. O'Reilly declared that "the smear stops here" and then proceeded not just to smear that paper, but smear a dead guy.


BILL O'REILLY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL'S "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": The villains of that paper are publisher Stephen Rogers and editorial writer Mark Libbon. These men are not only unprofessional; they are incompetent.

Over the past few years, "The Post-Standard" circulation has declined nearly 30 percent. It is a disgraceful newspaper, nicknamed "Substandard" by some in upstate New York.

Now, we posted contact numbers for Rogers and Libbon on, should you want to speak with them.


OLBERMANN: Hey, good luck with that. If Bill has actually found a working phone number for Stephen Rogers, then he's buried the lead. He's broken the biggest news story of the century. Because Mr. Rogers is dead.

The gentlemen on the left, as shown on O'Reilly's program, passed away at the age of 90 in 2002. Stephen Rogers was the publisher of the Syracuse paper from 1955 through 1981. So if you want to try to call him, make sure you don't get stuck with some heavy duty roaming charges.

The men who spotted that egregious error, among numerous other O'Reilly mishaps, are Joseph Amann and Tom Breuer, co-founders of the web site Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly dog com, and authors of a book by the same name.

Gentlemen, thanks for your time.



OLBERMANN: Tom, I'll start with you. Assuming here, you know, we've all done stuff like this. We were once talking about Neal Boortz, and we showed a picture of Max Cleland. So the next night, we came on, apologized, and we made Countdown one of the worst persons in the world.

But I'm gathering there's been no apology from Ted Baxter over this mistake?

BREUER: Not as far as we know. He could be, you know, doing that soon, but he's not really the apologizing kind. And we're figuring that there's a better chance that the dead guy is going to apologize to Bill than the other way around. So as far as we can tell, he's hiding under his desk. So...

OLBERMANN: Joseph, stuff like this, do you go searching for it? Do you do the fact checking that Bill obviously never does? Or are you guys like us? You just wait for this manna to fall from heaven, as it invariably does about 3.7 times a week?

AMANN: We have a pretty great group of readers on our web site and they've send us a lot of tips and things. But you can really start to kind of feed through O'Reilly's patterns as you watch his broadcast.

So I think that whenever he quotes a statistic or tries to interpret a charter or a graph, you can pretty much be assured that there's some flaw in his logic or reasoning. So that's usually where we start, is whenever he tries to use anything that he considers fact.

OLBERMANN: And the title, Joseph, of your book, it seems reasonably self explanatory. How did you and Tom find each other? What made you decide on exposing the big giant head?

AMANN: We have had an alternative newspaper in Wisconsin that we ran together, and O'Reilly, you know, it's just one of those things you're flipping through channels and you come across him. And either you love him or want to you want to throw things at your television.

And after breaking, I think, three televisions, I decided that it would be more productive to actually launch some kind of web site and point out to the humorous aspects of his insanity. And obviously, then a book deal followed.

OLBERMANN: So something good came out of that. Tom, there's so much to choose among, Tom, but it's like - I don't know - which package do you open on Christmas morning first? But what do you think is Bill O'Reilly's biggest mistake, biggest gaffe? What is the thing that you've gotten the most - has resonated the most with your readers?

BREUER: Well, of pure visceral laughs, this one is pretty good. But I mean, he's done a lot of other things that are, you know, I think more, I guess, disingenuous and just sort of slimy.

You know, I think "Paris Business Review" is one of my favorites. Because he cited an economic journal to defend the success of his French boycott that didn't exist. And I don't think he's ever mentioned it since, but I'm sure he's aware by now that it doesn't exist.

AMANN: And enough to fill a book. You fill a book with it. It's - and we could probably fill four or five books, to be honest.

OLBERMANN: I hope you do. But in the interim, the fact that this one notes that you guys, quote, "realized that upon publication of this book, they could well die at the hands of Bill O'Reilly or one of his henchmen. They are at peace with this," end quote.

I'm sure when you wrote this, Joseph, that this sounded like some sort of far-fetched idea. But then we heard about FOX security and the local authorities. Have you had a visit from the O'Reilly-nistas yet?

BREUER: Well, people have asked if they've called yet, and I think that rather than a ring, we're going to hear a kind of a dull thud to the back of our heads one day.

Tom, I joked, is going to be coming home with some groceries and get clonked and, you know, Boca burgers and soy cheese will be flying everywhere, because he's a vegetarian.

And I'll be swimming somewhere off the coast of Martha's Vineyard when some speed boat will come along and dump chum all over me, and I will be, you know, wading in blood and fish guts as the sharks circle. And I'll know that O'Reilly was to blame.

OLBERMANN: And the last thing they saw were loofahs.

The book, to say nothing of the web site, "Sweet Jesus, I hate Bill O'Reilly". The authors and webmasters are Tom Breuer and Joseph Amann. And boys, the falafels are on me, as we say around the building. Great thanks for joining us.

BREUER: Thanks for having us.

OLBERMANN: Keep up the good work.

AMANN: We will.

OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this, the 1,093rd day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.

A reminder to join us again at midnight Eastern, 11 p.m. Central, 9 Pacific - you can do the rest of the counting yourself, if you'd like to. That would be for the late edition of Countdown.

Until then, it's a special presentation of "LOCK UP: INSIDE NORTH CAROLINA WOMEN'S PRISON". Get out the popcorn.

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


Thursday, April 27, 2006

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for April 27

Guests: David Was

BRIAN UNGER, GUEST HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

The Watergate investigation. Not plumbers, this time it's hookers, prostitutes. Duke Cunningham and the FBI investigation into whether the Dukester and others in Congress exchanged sexual favors were exchanged for political ones.

Libby and the Brain. Scooter's motion to dismiss shot down by the judge in his perjury trial.

And why Karl Rove is reportedly more worried after his latest trip to the grand jury.

FEMA, the disaster cleanup agency, is itself a disaster. The Senate calling for an complete overhaul about a month before hurricane season begins. It's going to be a heck of a job.

Road test rock. Music industry icons and Pink taking on the Bush administration through the gift of song, clearly in response to this pro-Bush shot across the bow.

And an NBC exclusive, Ann Curry's journey in Africa for an exclusive interview with the actress, the activist, the children's advocate, Ms. Angelina Jolie.


ANN CURRIE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Giggling is something I understand you're doing a lot more lately.

ANGELINA JOLIE: I actually am. I've gotten (INAUDIBLE), it's really horrible.



All that and more, now on Countdown.

And good evening. I'm Brian Unger, in for Keith Olbermann.

The three key ingredients of any D.C. key political scandal are as follows, sex, money, and the Watergate apartment complex. With President Nixon, it was a combination of money and Watergate. With President Clinton, sex and Watergate. It's where Monica Lewinsky lived, as if you'd forgotten. And now, finally a scandal with all three.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, the Duke Cunningham corruption probe, now with hookers. The only thing more compelling than that, a Karl Rove indictment. And it looks like we might be getting one of those too.

Federal prosecutors now said to be investigating whether the former congressman was bribed with a steady supply of prostitutes that he may have been meeting up with at the Watergate Hotel.

"The Wall Street Journal" also reporting that investigators are looking into whether other congressmen may have been bribed with the very same, how you say, services.

I guess the lesson no one seems to be learning, if you're going to do something illicit in Washington, do it at, say, the Comfort Inn in Tyson's Corner.

As for Karl Rove, Wednesday's grand jury appearance apparently no trip to the Watergate, if you know what I'm saying. The presidential adviser now more worried, not less, that he could get indicted.

Time now to call in correspondent David Shuster in Washington, who's had a very busy day keeping track of both stories.

Hello, David.


UNGER: Let me begin by asking about the Cunningham investigation. This sounds like something straight out of the Hoover years. But if the FBI is now knocking on the doors of escort services, talking to prostitutes, how nervous is the mood in Washington?

SHUSTER: Well, the mood right now is certainly on e of intrigue. I think this article from "The Wall Street Journal" got a ton of play all over Capitol Hill.

But between the lines, what a lot of people are talking about is the fact that right now, this all seems to be aimed at flipping one of two key defense contractors in this case. One of the defense contractors is already cooperating. Of course, he got Duke Cunningham, who's already cooperating. But this seems to be a lot of pressure on a man by the name of Brent Wilkes. And according to the other contractor, it was Brent Wilkes who did some work with Duke Cunningham. He's the one who's got the little black book, and perhaps the memory of which congressmen were getting these prostitutes.

But until that particular defense contractor flips and actually substantiates the allegation of the other defense contractor, right now, people think there's still a little bit of breathing room. But if that other defense contractor soon becomes a government witness, then everything changes, and that's where it really gets interesting.

UNGER: David, let me ask you, how widespread might this be? I mean, what are - are there other names involved here?

SHUSTER: Well, you always hear, you always hear rumors about this congressman or that congressman who sort of gets drunk with power in Washington and engages in these sort of activities. But until, I think, we get some substantial allegations, I'm not going to drop any names.

But any members of Congress who did business or had interactions with these two defense contractors, those officers are nervous tonight, not so much for the prostitution allegation, but simply because of fears that they're going to get caught up in this sort of prosecution of bribery or corruption.

UNGER: Here we go again. Very unseemly.

Turning to your reporting on the Karl Rove story, was he pleased with how his latest testimony went?

SHUSTER: Well, that depends on who you ask. A spokesperson for Karl Rove said that his testimony was just fine. But a supporter of Karl Rove, at a party last night where they were both in attendance, the supporter of Karl Rove said that Rove described his grand jury experience as "hell," and that Rove was surprised both by the tone of the grand jury questions and also the length, three and a half hours.

And that taken together, Rove thought that the experience, his experience at the grand jury made it more likely, not less likely, he feels, that he's going to get indicted. Rove's lawyers say that he's got no reason to worry, that anything he said at the grand jury yesterday might have implicated him, but the very fact that he spent three and a half hours there has at least signaled to Karl Rove, and Rove is at least telling a few friends, that certainly he's very worried about what's going on.

UNGER: Hell, never good.

Let's go back a little bit, though. Does this look like his dubious status in the CIA case may have played a role in narrowing his responsibilities to focus on the November elections, then?

SHUSTER: Well, Rove's legal team has admitted that they were in contact with prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald for several weeks. They were talking with him frequently. And that Karl Rove was keeping his new boss at the White House, the new White House chief of staff, Josh Bolten, informed.

So while the White House suggests that Rove had his duties shifted for other reasons, it's easy to imagine that if you're the new White House chief of staff, and your top policy guy is telling you, Hey, I'm not clear of the CIA leak investigation, and I'm having talks with the prosecutor, and, by the way, the poll numbers are so bad, that maybe if you're the new White House chief of staff, you say, Look, let's give this guy some (INAUDIBLE) breathing room, let's give him less responsibility right now, just in case he's going to be distracted with this other matter.

UNGER: Possibly a little preemptive mood. Is there a chance he might resign?

SHUSTER: Well, we'll have to see. I don't think there's any chance that Karl Rove is going to (INAUDIBLE) resign barring an indictment. And perhaps that's why the stakes are so high. You remember that Scooter Libby, he only got notification that he was a target of the - of his indictment that very morning when the grand jury actually returned the indictment. So he simply didn't have time.

It doesn't look like Karl Rove is going to get any sort of advance notification either, if he gets indicted. So we'll just have to wait and see.

UNGER: David Shuster, thank you very much.

SHUSTER: You're welcome.

UNGER: With just about a month left until the start of the next hurricane season, a Senate committee has figured out what went wrong with the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. Their conclusion, FEMA is in shambles, and is beyond repair, say, like Michael Jackson's nose. As for FEMA, the Senate investigation came up with a bold recommendation, scrap that agency, put together a brand-new one, and give it a different name.

Our correspondent is Chip Reid.


CHIP REID, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The report says it took Hurricane Katrina to reveal that FEMA is so dysfunctional it should be scrapped.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: FEMA has become a symbol of a bumbling bureaucracy in which the American people have completely lost faith.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: It is beyond repair. And you need to dissolve it and begin again.

REID: Begin again, the report says, with an entirely new disaster-relief agency, the National Preparedness and Response Authority. In 86 recommendations, the report describes the proposed agency as far more powerful than FEMA, with a much larger budget, a director who would report directly to the president during a crisis, so powerful, the report compares the position to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

And there would be 10 regional strike teams, where federal, state, and local emergency responders would work and train together.

The report has the committee's bipartisan support, except on one key issue. Democrats heap blame for FEMA's failures on President Bush.

LIEBERMAN: The president and the White House were not sufficiently engaged...

REID: Republicans blame the president's advisers, especially former FEMA director Michael Brown.

COLLINS: I don't think that that is the president's fault.

REID: With the president today in New Orleans, a top White House adviser flatly rejected any proposal to abolish FEMA.

FRAN TOWNSEND, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: I don't think it's productive to talk about dismantling the agency. I mean, I really think what the point of this is, is to strengthen the inherent (INAUDIBLE) response and preparation capability.

REID (on camera): Even supporters of abolishing FEMA and replacing it with a bigger, stronger agency say there's no way that's going to happen before this year's hurricane season, which begins in about a month. And whether it ever becomes law will depend on how well FEMA responds in the future.

Chip Reid, NBC News, the Capitol.


UNGER: NBC's Brian Williams spoke with President Bush after his visit with volunteers in New Orleans. He asked the president about the proposal to kill FEMA. Mr. Bush did not sound like he was ready to seriously considering scrapping anything.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My thoughts are is that we've got to make sure it functions well. We're coming into a hurricane season.

I ordered an executive branch review of what went wrong in Katrina. The Congress is doing its part as well. Some of the things that we found, I think the Congress might have found as well, is we need to preposition assets better. We need to make sure there's clear coordination between the federal, state, and local governments.

Obviously there's a communications problem, as you well know, and we have prepositioned communications equipment, or have communications equipment ready that is available that'll help us in case of a big storm.


UNGER: Well, if that answer felt a little tortured, try this. S&M at the gas pumps. Yes, your pain is the oil company's pleasure. The huge profit numbers are out for big oil, and it's leading to big political drama on Capitol Hill.

And dissing The Decider in satire, in song, in satirical song. The pop-culture backlash against W.

You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.


UNGER: Well, before you finish the paperwork on that second mortgage, or loot your kid's college fund just so you can fill up on your next tank of gas, two things you should know about in our fourth story on the Countdown.

Congress is hard at work on a solution, and oil companies are making more money than ever. Don't you feel better now?

Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon staging a five-hour filibuster in the Senate in an effort to get energy companies to pay royalties on domestic oil exceeding $65 a barrel. There goes their lunch money.

Other Democrats voicing their outrage at a gas station near Capitol Hill, before getting back into their SUVs to drive away.

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, unveiling an eight-point plan that would give a $100 rebate to every car-driving taxpayer, but only if we open up the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve for drilling first.

All of this to break our addiction to oil?


SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: Republicans come forward with a bold agenda that looks at supply, demand, alternative sources, to make sure that the markets are working boldly, are working fairly, are working transparently. There is no silver bullet. There's nothing, nothing we can do that can compensate for the fact that today we're 60 percent dependent on foreign sources of oil. But we can put forth a bold agenda. It will be introduced today, and it's an eight-point plan, you've heard it.


UNGER: Those darn car alarms. I think somebody just stole the senator's Prius.

Of course, on no one has the situation been hardest than on the oil industry itself. I think we should hear sad music here, maybe. The corporations, they're struggling to get by. ExxonMobil, for example, reporting earnings of a puny $8.4 billion for just the first quarter.

Senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers with all the sad details on why it's hard out there for a pump.



For outraged consumers, the staggering profit numbers boil down to this. Exxon earned 9.5 cents on every dollar of gasoline and oil sold, cashing in at every stage of the process.

JOHN KILDUFF, OIL TRADER: The big money for ExxonMobil is being made by taking crude oil out of the ground, and refining it into gasoline, and selling it at the street corner.

MYERS: So consumers clearly feel gouged. Are oil industry profits out of line with other industries?

An oil industry ad dubbed "Straight Talk" claims they are not, and highlights a multiyear average that is lower than current profits. In fact, the oil industry's profit margin last year was 8.5 percent, higher than the average for all industries, but less than half the profit of banks.

KILDUFF: Their profits rank well behind the profits generated by the financial services industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and several other industries...

MYERS: But consumer groups argue that oil companies are profiting unfairly from their own failure to invest in refineries, which is now driving up gas prices.

MARK COOPER, CONSUMER FEDERATION OF AMERICA: People's budgets are being clobbered by companies who have failed to expand capacity, failed to compete, and then stockholders get rewarded, executives get rewarded, and the people suffer.

MYERS: What about CEO pay? Chevron's CEO received $$37 million in total compensation last year. ConocoPhillips' CEO, $17 million. Big numbers, but experts say in line with Wall Street's inflated standards.

Then there's Exxon's CEO and his stunning $400 million pay and retirement package, which an industry spokesman still defends.

JOHN FELMY, AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE: One has to compare any executive's compensation with the performance of the companies that they manage.

MYERS (on camera): Oil industry officials also argue that some profits are passed on to average Americans who invest in the companies. But critics say, in most cases, those dividends won't begin to offset the high cost of gas, and the outrage.

Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington.


UNGER: Oh, yes, big oil companies, you and the horse you road in on, buddy. Wait, horse?

Countdown on your side, how to ease your pain at the gas pump, next in Oddball.

And there is no easing the jitters in Tinseltown. It's called Hollywood's Watergate. And when it's all said and done, there's no telling how many celebrities could be implicated. Inside the Pellicano case, later on Countdown.


UNGER: I'm Brian Unger, in for Keith Olbermann.

As we take a step back from the so-called hard news of the day, to find out how these hot-button issues, such as rising gas prices, are affecting the lives of everyday people, like Texan cowboy hairdressers and Russian guys with really strong ears.

Let's play Oddball.

We begin in Arlington, Texas, where hairstylist Egon Settle (ph) says the price of gas is so high, he's got to ride a horse to the salon every day. Settle says he rides his trusty steed Freefall around town on his lunch break. But when he's cutting hair, he just leaves the big guy in the parking lot next to the Corvette.


EGON SETTLE, HAIRSTYLIST: I have people ask me, Are you scared somebody'll steal him? Well, I tell you what, if you can get on this horse right here and ride away, you take him.

But if you do get on him, I hope you got a pillow on your butt, because he's sure going to (INAUDIBLE) you for a ride.


UNGER: And on to Tblisi, Georgia, where a man with a broken hand has tied a rope around his ear and is pulling two trucks with it. We cannot confirm this has anything to do with the high price of gasoline, we just know Lasha Petaraya (ph) has got some crazy strong ears. This was a new world record for the Georgian engineer, who pulled the four-and-a-half-ton rig more than 40 yards. Petaraya told reporters the honor of being listed in the "Guinness Book of Records" would be worth the lifetime of hideous disfigurement and chronic ear pain.

And finally, here's a Dalmatian riding a bicycle. Oh, yes, look at him go. Put your foot up (ph) there. It's another award-winning piece of video from the magic makers of Japanese television. (INAUDIBLE) this dog was interested in bike riding ever since he was a puppy, yet here he is, full grown, and still using training wheels. So I think that Dalmatian's kind of a loser.

Three very different rockers, all singing the same message to President Bush. Here's a hint, it's not "Happy Birthday."

And she's asked the press to respect her privacy while she rounds out her pregnancy in Africa. But that didn't stop Angelina Jolie from granting an exclusive interview to NBC.

Those stories ahead.

Now here are Countdown's top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, "The City Pages" newspaper of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The editors are receiving a bit of criticism over its Best of the Twin Cities issue, which named as this year's best cheap thrill in town crystal meth. The paper says it was a bad joke.

Number two, Mark King of Lake Okanor (ph), California. He's under arrest for bank robbery after his brilliant criminal scheme went awry. Police say he accosted an employee outside the bank as she was the doors for the morning, went into the vault, and told the woman to go back out and pretend everything was normal, or else.

She went outside and locked him in. Oh, we can never plan for that kind of thing, can we?

And number one, William Bethel (INAUDIBLE) Pennsylvania. Apparently the 24-year-old has been working two jobs to make ends meet. By day, he's a delivery guy for Domino's Pizza. By night, he transports corpses from the Philadelphia Morgue to area funeral homes in the same car.

Police say they pulled him over for an outdated registration and found two pies waiting to be delivered sitting on a makeshift stretcher in the back next to a sack of wet clothes. Yeesh. That will do a number on the old crazy bread.


UNGER: And welcome back to Countdown. I'm Brian Unger, keeping the seat warm for Keith Olbermann.

Since the war began three years ago, pundits and critics have been making numerous comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq, that we're fighting a homegrown insurgency, that it will last for years, that it's ultimately an unwinnable war.

Now, in our third story on the Countdown, another trait the two conflicts have in common, a plethora of protest songs. Of course, this being 2006, not 1966, protesters have updated the folk singing and flag burning with a lot more electricity, like in that most accessible of technologies, the Internet, where an artist can combine the parody style of Jib-Jab, rip off - sorry, emulate the Beach Boys and add a little Hogan's Heroes to produce this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Move our pieces to Afghanistan. Move into Iraq and control the waterways. Sign that new treaty with India. We can party right there. Have a business relations with the Saudi. We got it covered.

Hey, George.

Dick, you scared me.

I think you forgot Halliburton?

Halliburton right there. I found a new place to put Halliburton. Away go the colored people. Now what do we do next. I just can't seem to figure it out?

Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran. Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran. Bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran.

We'll do nothing to it. Bomb Iran.


UNGER: OK. And then there are the mainstream protesters, Neil Young is about to release an entire album of anti-war and anti-Bush songs with titles like "Let's Impeach the President," "Living with War" and "Shock and Awe."


UNGER: And elsewhere Bruce Springsteen, a local supporter of John Kerry in 2004 releasing a new album covering music by folk singer and protestor Keith Seger. When asked if the songs make a political statement about the president, Springsteen told the "Associated Press" quote, "I'll let somebody else sort that part of it, but a lot of them seem pretty applicable, you know. Mrs. McGrath is basically an Irish anti-war song, but it's ripped right out of the headlines every day today."

And there's a more obvious indictment of the president coming from a relatively new artist, Pink, in her acoustic song "Dear Mr. President."


UNGER: And to discuss this sudden influx of protest rock, I'm joined by David Was, a contributor to "National Public Radio's Day to Day" and half of the musical group "Was Not Was." Thanks for your time David.


UNGER: Rock n Roll by its nature is rebellious. And it's a long tradition of music encompassing political protest when Peter, Paul, and Mary sang "If I Had a Hammer" it was figurative. This Neil Young song is quite literal it is a litany of Bush offenses that might appear on an op-ed page. Is that unusual?

WAS: Well the hook being impeach the president is sort of, with a republican congress in control, it seems like if you were an Iranian folk singer you would say embrace the Jews and love them. It's sort of an impossibility politically. The classic empty gesture I'm glad there is discourse, but I don't think it's heading towards anywhere practical.

UNGER: During this administration country music has been very vocal. We heard the Dixie Chicks criticize the president in 2003 and Faith Hill and Tim McGraw criticized the president recently over the Katrina recovery. We've heard rappers be critical. Has mainstream rock been kind of slow to add their voices?

WAS: I think so. I think it's far more risky in country music in that political world to stick your neck out. I think the Dixie Chicks are to be congratulated. Neil Young has an old tradition though of speaking his mind since Ohio dealing with the Kent State killings. So it may be late but I think everybody put an exorbitant amount of faith in this war and its prosecution and it's been given a lie recently, I think.

UNGER: Will any of these songs actually change the political landscape? Could these artists actually have an impact on 2006 or 2008?

WAS: Well I tend to think, I hope so, I would hope that people would take the word of the airwaves and that people would respond. But I tend to think of music and pop culture just like the instantaneity of the news world where everything is cycled through in about 48 hours and forgotten. I wish there was something other than the short attention span theater of politics in America these days.

UNGER: Does though, and aside from partisanship, does rock 'n' roll have the same influence today as it did in 1966, in actually changing people's minds?

WAS: Well, you know, I think hip-hop carried the cajole for a long time and I give credit to those writers for dealing with things more directly. Although the old tradition and it dates back to the 1600's, the broadside is to carry the word of political events or floods or earthquakes in a song so it's memorable, has a chorus. But for my money "Masters of War" by Dylan which is a timeless song and could deal with any era is going to be more enduring than a temporal call for the president's impeachment whether I'm for it or not.

UNGER: So you're not into the date stamping or time stamping the lyric as Neil Young may have done here?

WAS: It's like cottage cheese, you know, you put a name in a song and you know that in 30 years people, you might as well have mentioned Gabby Hayes or Roy Rogers in a song, people are going to say who is that? You're going to look for the footnotes.

UNGER: That's Neil Young you're talking about there, sir.

WAS: I love Neil Young, don't get me wrong.

UNGER: No, no, no, I'm just teasing you. Let me ask you this, is there a distinction between what music resonates in red states versus blue states? Because, you would think Neil Young's music seems to span the country roots and the blues tradition of red states and the folk rock of blue states. Is there a distinction between the red and blue and what music they sort of sink their teeth into?

WAS: Well, do you know, I think it's a question of these days how narrow cast radio is and that there's not a great difference in character with these great conglomerates like Clear Channel broadcasting the same 18 songs 24 hours a day. I think just as the political map goes red and blue, tastes aren't going to be that much different. But I would say that you are preaching to the converted already when you write a song with political leanings. You are sort of resonating with the audience that's already there. I'm not sure you're changing hearts and minds on the other side of the color spectrum.

UNGER: Interesting perspective. Thank you David Was of "National Public Radio's Day to Day." Thank you for sharing all of that with us tonight.

WAS: Thank you.

UNGER: Some of the biggest celebrities are finding no excitement in the latest Hollywood thriller. It's no script. It's all too real and there's no telling how many stars will get fingered in the west coast version of the Abramoff scandal.

And an NBC world exclusive, where in the world is Ann Curry? Namibia in a super secret location talking to one very pregnant Angelina Jolie. Those stories ahead, but first here are Countdown's top three sound bytes of this day.


The victim says it all began with a minor complaint.

I said how can you be out of iced tea?

When the victim who asked us not to identify him left the window, he says the employee handed him not iced tea, but a soda instead. The soda came without ice just like he asked. But something was floating on top.

It had a strong mucus of somebody who had a cold.

It's alarming to think you could, you know, just go through a drive through and end up getting spit in, you know. It's not your fault. You just want to get some fast food.

CONAN O'BRIEN: The other day Snoop Dog announced that he is writing a novel. Yeah, Snoop Dogg's writing a novel, yeah. Snoop says he can't wait to buy a copy of the book, hollow it out and use it to store weed.

Oh. [laughter] .

BUSH: Maybe we can find somebody here who will voluntarily take a puppy?

Are you volunteering your staff -

Or you take it.

Are you giving that dog away?

No, not now. I'm retracting.




UNGER: Thirteen years ago this summer, Heidi Fleiss, the 27-year-old Hollywood madam was arrested for operating a prostitution ring catering to L.A.'s rich and famous. Not since the rumored existence of her little black book supposedly containing names of her celebrity Johns and how much money they paid for sexual services rendered have we seen Tinseltown go into a silent panic. The book was never made public of course and Hollywood breathed a sigh of relief.

Our number two story on the Countdown, panic has struck again in what is the second biggest wiretapping story in the nation, involving everything you'd want in a feature film, spies, sex, violence, power and money. Our Jennifer London with more on the scandal dubbed, the Hollywood Watergate.


JENNIFER LONDON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: He was Hollywood's go-to guy for celebrities in trouble, Anthony Pellicano. A powerful private eye whose client list included Tom Cruise, Chris Rock, even the king of pop. Pellicano was Michael Jackson's private investigator during the 1993 sexual abuse case.

LAURIE LEVENSON, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: He's the P.I. who's sent out there to get the dirt on people.

LONDON: But Hollywood loves a good twist and the hunter is now the hunted. In February Pellicano was indicted on a slew of felony counts including illegal wiretapping, conspiracy and destruction of evidence.

JOHN CONNOLLY, VANITY FAIR: He wiretapped people, he used police officers, paid them off to gather people's information illegally and on occasion was not afraid to resort to violence or thuggery to scare people or terrorize people.

LONDON: John Connolly knows all about Pellicano and his unusual tactics. He's written an expose for "Vanity Fair" on newsstands in June.

CONNOLLY: I think it sends a chilling affect throughout Hollywood, who is going to get called, whose name is going to be dragged in front of maybe a trial or maybe another trial, maybe a civil case. I think this opens up Pandora's box for all kinds of legal problems.

LONDON: If Pellicano's going down, he may not be alone. The largest scandal to hit Hollywood now threatens A-listers. "Die Hard" director John McTiernan has been charged with lying to the Feds about his involvement with Pellicano.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The big question is, is when he was hired by some of the big name lawyers and law firms in town and big clients. Did they really know what Anthony Pellicano was up to?

LONDON: It's not clear if the stars themselves knew about Pellicano's dirty practices, but he's reportedly been connected to some of the biggies, like John Travolta, Sylvester Stallone, Barry Bonds and the head of Paramount Pictures.

NEVILLE JOHNSON, PRIVACY ATTORNEY: The legal equivalent of Watergate in my opinion. The reason being, that its tentacles reach out so far across this community, into police departments, major institutions such as the phone company, major players in business and in Hollywood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anthony Pellicano is Hollywood's Jack Abramoff. A lot of people have known Pellicano. A lot of people have worked with him, used him. It doesn't mean that they're all dirty but I can guarantee you right now, everyone hopes there's no picture of them with Anthony Pellicano.

LONDON: Like many great Hollywood dramas, this one will play out for some time. Pellicano's trial isn't scheduled until October and you can bet this will be one blockbuster that keeps Tinseltown on the edge of its seats. For Countdown, Jennifer London, NBC News, Los Angeles.


UNGER: And an easy turn to our round up of celebrity and entertainment news, "Keeping Tabs." And Rosie O'Donnell's return to the daytime talk show, this time with company. She'll be the newest co-host of "The View." ABC's expected to make it official on Friday, according to the celebrity news magazine "Extra." O'Donnell will be named as co-host of "The View." Her first day on the job not yet known, but it will mark her first regular gig on television since she hosted her own daytime chat show, "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" which ended in 2002.

"Extra" is also reporting that the short list for the job included Connie Chung, Patricia Keaton and Soledad O'Brien. O'Donnell will be replacing Meredith Vieira, who will be replacing Katie Couric on the "Today Show" who will be replacing Bob Schieffer on the "CBS Evening News." You got all that?

Snoop Dog in the pound. This time in London. The rapper and five other men in his posse were arrested late Wednesday after a disturbance that allegedly injured seven police officers. The entourage was on its way to Johannesburg, South Africa for a concert and tried to enter a British Airways first class lounge. But some of them were denied entry because, well, they were flying coach. A spokesman for British Airways said Snoop Dogg's group, "Became very rude and abusive to our staff and we took the decision to offload the party and refuse them travel." At that point some men in the group became abusive and pushed police officers according to a police spokesman. Snoop Dogg has now been released on bail. His lawyer said he was not charged but will return at a later date.

And another Tom Cruise, shocker. He prefers to call Katie Holmes Kate. So she is going to make it official. Ms. Holmes will reportedly change her first name to Kate to reflect her newfound maturity according to "The Sun." Mr. Cruise explained it himself, "Katie is a young girl's name. Her name is Kate now. She's a child-bearing woman." Look for a run to the social security administration by child bearing women whose names end in "E" wanting to change their names. As for Cruise's use of his girlfriend's new name, we have a sample from earlier this week.


TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: Yeah, I don't want to leave her, you know Kate. I wasn't going to come and then Kate said, you know, go, go.


UNGER: Tom go, please, go.

On to that other (INAUDIBLE) celebrity mom, Angelina Jolie, talking exclusively to NBC about her pregnancy, her kids and her latest cause, that's next. This is Countdown.


UNGER: Well she has retreated into the African nation of Namibia for privacy as she awaits the birth of her third child. The Hollywood sex symbol Angelina Jolie is not just hiding from the swarms of paparazzi, she's submerging herself into another important topic dear to her heart. It's not the script to "Laura Croft Tombraider 3". It's helping kids get an education. It's not a movie, it's a humanitarian act. Our number one story on the Countdown, girl interrupted by our own Ann Curry. The nearly eight months pregnant pillow lipped star sat down with Ms. Curry in this exclusive interview to talk about her new mission for children and the upcoming delivery of her baby with Brad Pitt.


ANN CURRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: In what seems to be the middle of nowhere on the edge of Namibia in Southern Africa, a very pregnant Angelina Jolie emerged from her private family vacation to speak on behalf of children in poor countries who don't get to go to school.

What is the worst in your mind of that?

ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS: God, I mean there is just so many things. It's really that thought of those, of the potential of a human being. The lack of education causes death. More children die under the age of five when the parents are not educated. More people get AIDS when they haven't had an education. Statistics prove that if every child was in school, every year 700,000 less people would get AIDS.

CURRY: It seems also for you kind of a personal thing. You have two children you've adopted, both of whom might have been in this same circumstance if not being able to get educated. And when you look at them and you realize that -

JOLIE: I look at them and I just think, you know, I look at especially my daughter and how many million kids are out of school in her country and especially girls. And I know how families with AIDS when parents die of AIDS, how there is no possible way the children can make a school fee. There is no possible way she would have gone to school. And she is so smart and so strong and her potential as a woman one day is great.

You multiply her by thousands and that is the thing I can so clearly see when I look at her. The amount of street children in his country, in all probability what would have happened to Maddox, he would have probably been one of the kids doing the garbage picking in the streets and he would have been on his own.

CURRY: It must mean so much to you as a human being to be able to give them an opportunity that they would never have gotten.

JOLIE: You know I'm happy for them that they're going to have all this education and I hope with it they do some good things and they're good people. Yeah, when I visit Cambodia and I see all those other moms, it's the worst thing in the world not to be able to give your kids everything you know they deserve.

CURRY: Like when you announced it, how many kids showed up for school?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last year we had a total of 23 or 24.

CURRY: Why should the American people push this when there are so many issues at home, including educational problems, why should they call their congressman on this one?

JOLIE: Because if we just fix home and the neighborhoods around us fall apart, what kind of a place are we going to live in? It doesn't make any sense to just fix your own house and your neighbors are falling into chaos.

CURRY: There is another very famous person who talks a lot about education and you sound a lot like her. Laura Bush.

JOLIE: Really?

CURRY: She talks a lot about this issue, specifically educating girls.

JOLIE: Well she should nudge her husband.

CURRY: Well I think she does. And I think that it also could be said that the U.S. does spend a considerable amount of money helping poor people get educated. So what's your message?

JOLIE: They do? But no child left behind means no child left behind. That isn't with what we feel we can give right now, but with whatever it takes. Britain gives three times more than us right now. They're not richer than us. So I don't know what the great excuse is.

CURRY: Children are a priority for Angelina Jolie, especially now as she awaits the birth of her third child, her baby with Brad Pitt.

How do you feel about the birthing part are you good are you ready?

JOLIE: Yeah. I'm quite, you know, we're just hoping it doesn't happen when we are - we don't know where it's going to happen or where we are going to be. We'll see.

CURRY: Yeah, well you have a doctor nearby? I don't want to be too

prying, but you know -

JOLIE: We have been smart about that. We're as prepared as, things will be as they will be. So, I'm ready for anything.

CURRY: Do you know if it's a boy or a girl?


CURRY: Would you like to keep that a secret or you want to share that with the American public?

JOLIE: No I'd like to keep it to myself.

CURRY: Giggling I understand is something you're doing a lot more lately. I hear that from a very good source. Your right hand woman, Holly. She said you are giggling a lot lately. Is it pregnancy?

JOLIE: I am. That's what I've gotten from pregnancy. It's my, I actually have gotten - see? Brad said that to me too. I get hysterical now. Like it will go on for hours. It's horrible.

CURRY: And look at you, you're a mess. You're laughing, you're hormonal. Keep it up. Be pregnant more often because this is working.


UNGER: You're right, it's really hard on Brad Pitt suffering through all that giggling, I'm sure. You can see the rest of Ann Curry's exclusive interview with Angelina Jolie on "Dateline". That's Sunday night at 7:00, 6 o'clock central time on NBC. Well that'll do it for this edition of Countdown. I'm Brian Unger in for Keith Olbermann, he'll be back here Friday night, I promise you. Thanks for watching.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for April 26

Guests: Devin Gordon, Michael Musto, Jennifer London

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

Grand jury grand entrance. Karl Rove goes before the Plamegate panel for a fifth time, reportedly at his own suggestion. You can't spell "volunteer" without R-O-V-E.

Snow job. And the Tony goes to the new White House press secretary.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tony already knows most of you. And he's agreed to take the job anyway.


OLBERMANN: Heh heh heh.

A Fox News anchor and commentator, now on the White House payroll. Well, officially on the White House payroll.

Dr. Laura, the cure for what ails Republican candidates. Don't send the president to campaign for me, they say, send the first lady.

I know where can I get her a nice ring, cheap. The $100,000 jewelry job caught on tape. Will the electronic age soon make burglary a job for which you have to wear makeup and hair spray?

Speaking of too much makeup, more stories my producers are forcing me to cover. Unsafe at any speed, Britney Spears, visited by child welfare just this month, is going to be a mom again, reportedly. Buckle up.

And with just a hint of hickory and the subtle bouquet of French Lick, Indiana, it's Larry Bird, the wine, from way downtown. Bang.

All that and more, now on Countdown.

Good evening.

New press secretary, new chief of staff, same old problem, same no comments.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, like a coat of paint that is still tacky to the touch, President Bush touting a fresh start in the form of a new spokesman at the White House, who promptly refuses to speak, while his top political adviser was speaking, testifying before a federal grand jury across town about the investigation that refuses to end.

We begin with Karl Rove's day in court, his appearances at the D.C. Federal Courthouse now up to a full handful, Mr. Rove testifying before a grand jury today for a fifth time, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald on hand to honcho the Q&A, Mr. Rove spending four hours on the stand, legal sources confirming the presidential adviser volunteered to testify, following a recent conversation with Mr. Fitzgerald about his status in the CIA leak case, the latest court filings in the case against Scooter Libby referring to Mr. Rove as a, quote, "subject" of the investigation.

Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, with this statement today about his client's testimony. "He tested (INAUDIBLE) - testified," rather, "voluntarily and unconditionally at the request of special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, to explore a matter raised since Mr. Rove's last appearance in October 2005. In connection with this appearance, the special counsel has advised Mr. Rove that he is not a target of the investigation. Mr. Fitzgerald has affirmed that he has made no decision concerning charges. At the request of the special counsel, Mr. Rove will not discuss the substance of his testimony."

More now on Rove's day in court from our correspondent David Shuster in Washington.

Thanks for your time, David.


OLBERMANN: That statement there released by Mr. Luskin, it says Mr. Rove is not a target of the investigation, and Mr. Fitzgerald has not decided whether to charge him yet. Are those two things not mutually exclusive? Can both of them be true statements?

SHUSTER: Well, they are mutually exclusive, and, in fact, even a lawyer who supports Karl Rove says tonight that the term that somebody is a target of the investigation is essentially a term of art.

This lawyer suggests that, in this case, it doesn't even matter at all, because even if Karl Rove is told today, Hey, you're not officially a target (INAUDIBLE) under accordance with Justice Department guidelines, that doesn't mean anything, according to this lawyer.

And that just as easily, the prosecutor in this case, Patrick Fitzgerald, could go to Rove tomorrow and say, OK, now we're following Justice Department guidelines. You are a target. And oh, by the way, we're going to get our grand jury to indict you next week. It's that simple, and it could happen that quickly.

OLBERMANN: So that Mr. Rove appeared voluntarily today, given the enormous possibility that he could have contradicted previous testimony, and thus digging a deeper hole for himself, might someone conclude that he had nothing to lose, that talking his way out of being charged is a risk he needed to take?

SHUSTER: Absolutely. And we've been given every indication that Karl Rove felt he had no other opportunity, that he felt that the evidence that his own lawyer had provided to prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that was supposed to clear Karl Rove out of all of this, that didn't work. And so Rove volunteered to testify. But, again, legal experts say, you don't voluntarily go to a grand jury unless you have no other cards to play, and if that's the only one that you think is going to keep you from getting indicted.

Furthermore, Keith, supporters of Karl Rove say that they are exasperated at the fact that even though his lawyer said that he was exploring one matter, Karl Rove spent three and a half hours in front of this grand jury. And, again, that usually means that the grand jury's either not satisfied with the answers you are giving, or they keep going back to one issue over and over.

And, again, keep in mind that even Karl Rove's own lawyer says that there was one matter to be explored, and even Rove's lawyers are very distressed that it took three and a half hours to resolve this at the grand jury.

OLBERMANN: Do we know what that one matter was? I mean, what did he voluntarily talk about when he volunteered to voluntarily go over there and volunteer?

SHUSTER: Well, Karl Rove's lawyers confirm that, in fact, Rove was asked about a key meeting over drinks between Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, and "TIME" magazine reporter Viveca Novak. This was the conversation in which Rove's lawyer says that he was tipped off that Viveca Novak colleague at "TIME" magazine, Matt Cooper, was prepared to identify Karl Rove as the source of information about CIA operative Valerie Plame.

And so what Luskin said last fall was, Look, this is evidence that Karl Rove refreshed his memory as soon as I heard about this information and told Karl Rove and found an e-mail, and he changed his testimony.

The problem that Karl Rove and his lawyer are having now is that the timeline doesn't work out. The Viveca Novak conversation with Bob Luskin happened in March of 2004, Viveca Novak has testified. But Karl Rove didn't go to the grand jury and change his testimony until seven months later, October 2004. And that's one of the reasons, that delay, that's one of the reasons why prosecutors were not satisfied just with the testimony of Viveca Novak, and just with the testimony of Bob Luskin, who gave a deposition last fall.

OLBERMANN: Well, it's the weather change. You get refreshed at autumn time.

MSNBC's David Shuster, our man on the scandal beat. As always, sir, great thanks.

SHUSTER: You're welcome.

OLBERMANN: There are always ups and downs for those involved in cases like these. And Mr. Rove apparently experienced his in the courthouse elevator. With his attorney and several reporters in the cab with him, Rove called out the floors as the numbers went by. You know, lingerie, housewares. It would be too much to wish that he concluded with, Basement, new press secretaries.

As widely expected, Fox News commentator Tony Snow going directly on the White House payroll. A new press secretary and the old one joining the president in announcing the appointment, Mr. Snow apparently taking his cue about how to treat the White House press corps from his new boss, and he's already completely up to speed.


BUSH: Tony already knows most of you. And he's agreed to take the job anyway. And I'm really glad he did.

I am confident he will help you do your job. My job is to make decisions, and his job to help explain those decisions to the press corps and the American people.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: One of the reasons I took the job is not only because I believe in the president, because, believe it or not, I want to work with you. And I want to thank you, Mr. President, for the honor, and thank all you guys for your forbearance, and I look forward to working with you. Thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what does this choice say about what you think you need in a second term?


OLBERMANN: See ya. Can you feel the love?

In a moment, Dana Milbank joins to us address, among other things, why in the world Tony Snow would want that White House press job.

First, two other notes. To correct much of the reporting, Snow is not the first TV guy nor reporter to take this post. Pierre Salinger was an investigative reporter for "The San Francisco Chronicle" years before becoming President Kennedy's voice. Bill Moyers had been an assistant TV news director in Austin, Texas, before becoming press secretary to President Johnson. And Ron Nessen, an on-air NBC News correspondent before and after working for President Ford.

But this latest press secretary does have an item on the hobbies section of his resume that cannot pass without comment. Not only is he in a rock band called Beats Working - get it? - in which in which he plays the guitar, the flute, and saxophone, he also once attended rock-and-roll fantasy camp, apparently fully aware that VH1 Classic and its cameras were there.

Thank you, Ron Burgundy.

Time now to call in Countdown political analyst and music critic Dana Milbank, also the national political reporter for "The Washington Post."

Welcome back, Dana.


OLBERMANN: In taking a job where the main description is answering questions, Mr. Snow took no questions at his news conference. Do we take that as a bad start?

MILBANK: It looked like he kind of wanted to tug the president back there and say, This is not a good way to start.

You know, it's not that he didn't take questions. He did take questions later on Fox News from Brit Hume. So this could be the beginning of a pattern, in which Brit Hume sits in the front row of the White House briefing room and asks all the questions.

But that said, when he did actually take the questions from Brit, he said all the right things. He said that Marlin Fitzwater is going to be his model, and Marlin Fitzwater was a beloved press secretary, because of the way he treated the press corps, and was well respected by the press corps. So if he means what he says, that could be good news.

OLBERMANN: But, as - I mean, it's not breaking any news here to say that the White House spin machine has often called upon conservative pundits to do its bidding, you hire one of them. Have you simply streamlined the process, eliminated the middleman? Is there any pretext left here that there'll be autonomy in this process?

MILBANK: Well, it started with Armstrong Williams. He was just part-time. And now Tony shows that you can do this full-time. So perhaps if we could get one of these emergency supplementals, we could all get on the payroll at one point, and that would immediately improve, no doubt, improve the president's press that he's getting.

Sure. It will help him a great deal to have, to help the president a great deal to have a guy that everybody likes in the press corps, at least as of this moment.

OLBERMANN: For now, right.

MILBANK: And, of course, we did like Scott before.

But, you know, Tony has - is very visible, and he's going to have a very difficult time sitting there saying, No comment, no comment, no comment. So that gives a lot of us in the press corps hope that he's going to push to have some information out there.

OLBERMANN: And also, as we pointed out here 24 hours ago, and everybody has pointed out since, Mr. Snow's columns were filled with criticisms of the president, mostly for not being conservative enough or confrontational enough. How soon could we see his recent yesterday collide with his today and his tomorrow? What happens when he has to sell a policy or a fib with which he disagrees?

MILBANK: I think he'll be just fine. You know, the fact of the matter is, I think the White House is delighted to have these few examples of Tony Snow's criticism of the administration out there. It builds up some credibility. I mean, far more of the time, he's been right on board.

So maybe it'll be a little nod and a wink when it's something, you know, that it wasn't his position to start with. I have a feeling he'll be fine with that.

OLBERMANN: As we said, it's not the first time somebody's made this leap, supposedly over to the dark side. And there was a great quote from the man who tried this 30 years ago, the former NBC correspondent, former Ford press secretary Ron Nessen, who once hosted "Saturday Night Live" while he was press secretary.

We wanted to show some of it, but it was so long ago that when we sent over to the archives for tapes of the show, this is what we got back. It's a one-inch tape for which we no longer have a machine to play it on.

Anyway, Dana, Nessen, on the lure of doing this, he said, I had a strong urge to see what was going on behind the scenes. Does the sausage rule apply here?

MILBANK: You know, it might. I mean, it's - he's certainly not doing it for the pay. He's getting a pay cut, unless he's getting some Halliburton stock options that we don't know about. He - I think he is lured by wanting to be behind the scenes there. Wants to see the sausage being made, but he also promises not to drink the Kool-Aid.

OLBERMANN: Excellent. It's a food theme. We - of course, we still have to make sure that he's off the Fox News payroll. But I guess that will take care of itself.

Dana Milbank of "The Washington Post," with a report on Snow conditions. Many thanks.

MILBANK: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Now, what if the president had selected this individual as his press secretary? Actually it proves she's too busy for that job. She is busy as what may be fairly described as the campaigner-in-chief.

And why the "Flight 93" movie has premiered, but the Flight 93 memorial has been stalled. One wrenching story on the silver screen, another on the political stage.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: It's an old "Saturday Night Live" gag, vintage 1977. The deep-space probe "Voyager: had been launched to carry a device which would be automatically activated if it encountered any life form, a disk that would play various sounds from earth, a tribal song from Zaire, recordings of Mozart and Bach, the sounds of surf and thunder, greetings in 55 different languages, and the song "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry.

And the joke went, the first message had just been received from outer space, four simple words that had changed the universe. "Send more Chuck Berry!"

Our fourth story on the Countdown, we update it to today. We make it not intergalactic communications, but American politics. And the four simple words are, Send more Laura Bush! Her husband's approval down to 36 percent in the latest NBC News -"Wall Street Journal" survey. It was 39 in January. And only 24 percent think the nation is headed in the right direction.

Another number, the midterm elections are just 196 days away. The GOP majority in the House and Senate, the ones up for reelection, anyway, need a national star to help offset the bad poll numbers.

Guess who?

As our correspondent Kevin Tibbles reports, Send more Laura Bush!


KEVIN TIBBLES, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It used to be an offer no candidate for office would refuse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please join me in welcoming the president of the United States, George W. Bush.

TIBBLES: But with his job approval rating at 36 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bush lied, soldiers died.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bush lied, soldiers died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bush lied, soldiers died.

TIBBLES: And the constant threat of controversy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Impeach Bush! Impeach Bush!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Impeach Bush! Impeach Bush!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Impeach Bush! Impeach Bush!

TIBBLES: Some Republicans are distancing themselves from the president.

THOM SERAFIN, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: People who would like to raise money with him, but would not like him publicly on the campaign trail with them.

TIBBLES: More and more, candidates are asking, Can Laura come?

SERAFIN: She's sensitive and warm, and she touches you in an emotional way. And when she speaks, you listen, and you say, Well, she gets it.

LAURA BUSH: He's an effective member for people, working men and women, here in this district.

TIBBLES: Political consultant Tom Serafin says, as a campaigner, Laura has a big advantage over her husband.

SERAFIN: The war is not going well. He's going to be judged solely on that battleground. George is the one who's pulled the trigger on everyone. You know, Laura's always been in the background.

LAURA BUSH: Thanks to the men and women of the United States military, America is winning the war on terror.

TIBBLES: But Jack Oliver, a Bush for President campaign officer, says candidates who shun the president are making a big mistake.

JACK OLIVER, BUSH FOR PRESIDENT CAMPAIGN OFFICER: It would be absolutely foolish not to have the president come to your district. And in most districts across the country, one of the most important things you can do is get your voters out to vote in an off-year cycle. And so I think the president's a great asset.

TIBBLES: Still, the president himself jokes that, come fall, he may not be campaigner in chief.

BUSH: And Laura sends her love. Nusselets (ph) came out to the airport, and he said, Fine, I'm glad to have you here, and this time of the year. But when we're coming down the stretch, make sure you send the A-team. I said, Which one, mother or Laura? He said, Both.

TIBBLES: Whether they consider the president a campaign liability or not, with her sky-high job approval rating near 80 percent, it seems the first lady is nearly everyone's first choice on the campaign trail.

SERAFIN: I think she's doing what she believes is necessary, and I would get out of the way if I was in the White House, and let her go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My Republican friends all across the country are lining up trying to get her to come into their district.

LAURA BUSH: Thanks everybody. Thank you all very much.

Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Chicago.


OLBERMANN: No word on whether Laura Bush has been asked to referee the annual medieval battle in the Czech Republic. But we'll have highlights regardless.

And from Czech Republic to, Check, please, Tom Cruise on another red carpet on another ramp about how great life at home is, as opposed to actually going home himself.

More stories my producers are forcing me to cover, ahead here on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: The oldest dumb anniversary I've ever mentioned on this show dated to about 2,200 years ago. The newest one comes now. It's last year, 365 days since bride-to-be Jennifer Willbanks went out for a short run and instead did a Forrest Gump. While every newscast except this one immediately concluded she'd been kidnapped, we suggested, delicately, the eyes, the eyes are screaming, Got to get out of here, got to get out of here, got to get out of here.

We dedicate this, then, to Jennifer Willbanks, wherever she is, and presumably she's always near an exit somewhere.

Let's play Oddball.

Perhaps she is here, in the Czech Republic, where thousands have gathered once again for the 14th Annual festival of medieval costumery and skipping work that is the Battle of Legousset (ph). Each year, the residents of this tiny Bohemian hamlet reenact the plucky villagers' defeat of the evil knights who tried to overrun the town.

Mmm, Bohemian omelet. Of course, it's a fictional battle. These people aren't really reenacting, they're acting. Then again, who am I to get into a semantics argument with a guy carrying an iron war hammer and a tunic made out of animals he killed with his own teeth?

You're with me, leather.

To Japan, the worldwide leader in wicked cool robots for the Countdown Wicked Cool Robot of the Week. It's Boto, and it's wicked cool, kind of. Boto, or Mr. Boto to his friends, is another helper robot designed to carry around the elderly or others who can't walk themselves or just are too lazy to. Just hop aboard, and Boto will get you there. Might take a little while. Boto, of course, still in the prototype stage, and it doesn't move quickly yet. Plus, it can only carry about 110 pounds.

When you think about it, why bother with Boto when you could have Tank Chair? Yes, baby. Nananananananana Tank Chair. For the first time ever, it appears an American company has a cooler robot than the Japanese do. Now, if we could just get Tank Chair and Boto to fight each other, we can settle this once and for all.

Speaking of helpful, aside from its obvious contributions to Oddball, our reliance on modern technology's having another unexpected benefit, convicting the guilty and exonerating the innocent.

And the movie is out, but where is the memorial for the heroes of Flight 93?

Those stories ahead.

Now, though, here are Countdown's top three newsmakers of this day.

Number one, magician David Copperfield, robbed at gunpoint after a show in West Palm Beach. Couldn't make those suspects disappear, eh, Dave? On the other hand, police did catch them 10 minutes later.

Number two, Steve Mulvenon, spokesman for the Washoe County School District in Nevada, who summed it up darn well. Quote, "It was pretty much a disaster. He was characterizing the middle school field trip, the four-hour bus ride to Six Flags Marine World in Vallejo, California, on Monday. Monday, the day on which Six Flags Marine World is closed. There will be refunds.

And number one, basketball immortal Larry Bird (INAUDIBLE) Cossantino (ph) Signature Wineries to produce a series of wines. They've opted for the brand name Legends rather than the far more memorable and low-cost Larry Thunderbird.


KEITH OLBERMANN: If there is any sad proof need that many of the misplaced priorities of the days before 9/11, the misplaced priorities we all vowed we would change, are still largely misplaced and it's contained herein. A full length theatrical film about flight 93 has had its premier. A memorial to the victims of flight 93 is still being blocked by one congressman. Our third story on the Countdown, "Remembering United 93 and Forgetting about It."

The Bush administration asked congress for an initial installment of $5 million to help establish a memorial in the field at Shanksville, Pennsylvania. But that request is currently being blocked by the chairman of the house appropriations subcommittee representative Charles Taylor. He is concerned that private funding will fall through on the memorial and then the federal government will be asked to finish the project. According to Representative Taylor that's exactly what's happening in the Oklahoma City memorial and he doesn't want the same thing to happen in Pennsylvania. Saying in a statement, quote, "What we do not want to do is embarrass the country or the families of those aboard flight 93 with a memorial that is only partially funded in either construction or long-term maintenance costs."

You know, like the memorial at ground zero that still doesn't exist. Family members are petitioning Chairman Taylor to change his mind. Several of them along with Senator Arlen Specter, Senator Rick Santorium and Congressman Bill Schuster of Pennsylvania gathered on Capitol Hill to explain why they consider that memorial so important.


CALVIN WILSON, BROTHER-IN-LAW OF VICTIM: The family members are not the ones that need a memorial. I have a picture of the 40 heroes and my brother-in-law on my desk in my office and in my house. I don't need a memorial. But we felt in our hearts from the very first day that this thing happened, that you folks need a memorial that you need to remember the 40 heroes. That you need to understand that within each and every one of us, that there's a hero.


OLBERMANN: A Capitol Hill source tells NBC News that Representative Taylor will ultimately be prevailed upon to approve the funding but nothing will happen before autumn at the earliest. Meantime in the silver ling, family members pushing for that memorial will get some help from that movie. The makers of "United 93" agreeing to give 10 percent of the opening weekend profits to the project. It premiered Tuesday night at the Tribeca Film Festival, fittingly that was an event originally set up in the aftermath of 9/11 to help that disseminated New York City neighborhood regain economic footing. Over a thousand people including many family members gathered to watch the premier. Critics have said it is too soon, not even five years after the tragedy for a feature film on it. But the families of all 40 victims on board have endorsed this film and urged the rest of us to see it. Many of them even traveled to New York for opening night.


GORDON FELT, BROTHER OF FLIGHT 93 VICTIM: It's a very powerful film. But it's a film that tells a story that needs to be told.

JACK GRANOCOLA, HUSBAND OF FLIGHT 93 VICTIM: I was relieved because we felt it was inevitable the story would be told. And it could end up bad, but I think we mostly feel it was a fair and honorable tribute to our loved ones.

JANICE SNYDER, MOTHER OF FLIGHT 93 VICTIM: The public needs to know, they need to remember, they need to exactly know what families have gone through.


OLBERMANN: And the caveat here, it is a Universal Film that is part of the same company that owns this network NBC Universal. Devin Gordon a senior writer at "Newsweek" magazine also attended that premier, he's joining us now. Thank you for your time sir.


OLBERMANN: The reaction outside seemed to be overwhelmingly positive. What was the reaction inside the theater during the film?

GORDON: It was very emotional, to the point where it was almost uncomfortable. It is a riveting film. I'm of two minds critically speaking as to what the film says and what it's all about. It is a minute-to-minute recap of what happened and it is very stirring and it's very emotional. But when the movie ended, a few minutes after the movie ended, you could hear a pin drop, no one left their seats for the entire rolling of the credits.

OLBERMANN: The reaction from the families was what?

GORDON: Well, the movie ends quite abruptly it goes to black very abruptly and you could hear the family members who were all seated in the back of the theatre sobbing aloud. Several of them sobbing aloud and it was very quiet until you could hear them and I think their sobs sort of prompted other people in the audience, people who were obviously not family members to get teared up as well. It was a powerful moment and an uncomfortable moment.

OLBERMANN: What was your reaction to it? What did you take out of the theater from this?

GORDON: Well, I have got to be honest it was not a movie I wanted to see. You know, I was at ground zero during 9/11 reporting it for "Newsweek". Almost all of us at "Newsweek" were because it was an all hands on deck kind of situation. And this was a movie that, were it not for journalistic reasons covering this industry I would have avoided completely. It's not a movie I looked forward to. But, you know, as I had heard, it is extremely well done. It is extremely powerful. It is - it does not have any commentary. It doesn't have any commentary about what happened. It's sort of a very visceral thing. I don't know if I would necessarily even call it art. It's more documentary style.

OLBERMANN: It might be documentary instead of true movie art making but is it that big $64,000 question, is it too soon?

GORDON: I don't know. I go back and forth on this. I don't necessarily believe it's ever too soon for artists to start doing their work and I think that Paul Greengrass did, under the circumstances, about as great a job as he probably could have done. But it was interesting to me watching the film and thinking that he is so hamstrung by the need to be delicate and be careful and not offend anyone, that it's almost impossible for him to have made this movie in any other way and have provided any context or any commentary. The only thing he could do was do a straight documentary-style narrative telling of exactly what happened because I think on a grand scale that's really all American audiences are ready for.

OLBERMANN: I had acquaintances on the other three planes and I keep sitting here thinking about what if they did a movie about one of those films, I don't know what I would do in watching it.

GORDON: Yeah. It's almost impossible to know what your reaction is going to be. And I've had friends and family members ask me if they should see the movie, I don't know what to tell them. It is certainly not a movie that I wanted to see. I don't necessarily feel better having seen it because it is exactly what I thought it was going to be. On the other hand it's exceptionally well done and my hats are off to Paul Greengrass for doing what I don't think anyone can argue with is a responsible job of doing almost an impossible task.

OLBERMANN: And the tithing part, the 10 percent of the first weekend box going to the memorial fund? Will people go you think just for that reason?

GORDON: I'm not sure people will go for that reason. I think some people know about that and may be moved to. I don't know how many. I don't know how widely known that declaration of charitable giving is out there. I know they have mentioned it many times but I don't know how clearly that message has gotten through. I think you are either going to go see the movie because for whatever reason you're curious or interested or driven to that kind of thing, or it's just not your kind of thing.

OLBERMANN: Art does not necessarily have to make you feel good. That's not in the description anywhere.

GORDON: That's true.

OLBERMANN: Devin Gordon, arts and entertainment senior writer at "Newsweek" and first nighter at the "Flight 93" movie. Great thanks, very good perspective on this.

GORDON: Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN: Also, moving pictures of a far different kind. I would like to take a look at this $100,000 ring. Actually I need to see how it looks outside. Is this guy a dying breed because of the very technology that let us watch his crime? Speaking of crime, she has been on "Lost", how bad could jail actually be afterwards? Why choose it instead of community service? These stories ahead but first your Countdown's top three sound bites of the day.


MUSIQ SOULCHILD: Through bright stripes and bright stars. Through the perilous fights ore the ram parts we watched as the - [crowd booing]

And the rockets red glare.

Do you anticipate and hope to be liked by the press corps?

TONY SNOW: I think the most important thing is to be respected by the press corps. Giving information to the press corps so they respect you, you never lie, you never turn -

CONAN O'BRIEN: Everyone's talking about this painting. Take a look. There he is right there. [laughter]

A lot of people are criticizing the portrait saying it's too casual and not befitting a U.S. president. Well, to be fair, I looked at it as the portrait is much more dignified than some of the choices they almost went with like this one, people not happy with it. [laughter] There is this one as well people not. [laughter]

And, of course, this one it's my favorite, this next one. [laughter]



OLBERMANN: Crime in the 21st Century. How your cell phone, your easy pass, a trip to the ATM could be all that's needed to tip the scales of justice. And Tom Cruise is still getting an easy pass, talking about how wonderful the kid at home is. Not being at home with the kid mind you. That's next, this is Countdown.


OLBERMANN: When we used to say tape solved this crime we were saying something special. 34 years ago this summer a night watchman in Washington named Frank Wills noticed that the automatic lock on a stairwell door had been taped over. He removed the masking tape, he went on his rounds and when he returned to the same door, the lock had been re-taped. That's when Mr. Wills called the cops, that's when they came by the building and discovered the Watergate break in.

The number two story on the Countdown, today tape solved this crime is an entirely different and entirely simpler meaning. King of (INAUDIBLE) Pennsylvania, hello. The customer at the jewelry store in the mall asked to see a three karat diamond in a platinum setting. Yes, $100,000 out the door. But he left his image on the surveillance video. Police have not caught him yet. But between that and the car he stole to get to the mall, and all the fingerprints, they're about eight weeks closer to catching them than they would have been 30 years ago. (INAUDIBLE) I think my father designed one of the stores.

But back to the surveillance video and the cameras at the ATM and the easy pass at the toll booth and the 27 recording devices you have on your cell phone. All of a sudden new technology has made the world very unfriendly to he who would be anonymous. That has all kinds of implications for privacy but there do not seem to be many down sides for justice. Jennifer London reporting for us tonight from Los Angeles.


JENNIFER LONDON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Raul Ramirez never imagined that an ATM receipt would one day save his life.

RAUL RAMIREZ: I am grateful that I went to the ATM that morning and that these ATM records helped.

LONDON: That ATM transaction along with his cell phone records helped convince a jury what Raul and his attorney Michael O'Lucky already knew. Raul was falsely accused of assaulting a teenage girl.

MICHAEL O'LUCKY: The use of technology in court cases is important and definitely a good thing, particularly where technology will help acquit an innocent man as it did here.

LONDON: In many ways the devices we think of as making our life easier, cell phones, cash machines, even a toll pass for the bridge have become law enforcement tools of the trade.

JEAN ROSENBLOOTH, FORMER PROSECUTOR: It has changed the landscape of prosecutions and the ability of the defendant who is wrongly accused to defend himself.

LONDON: Jean Rosenblooth is a former prosecutor and now teaches law at the University of Southern California.

ROSENBLOOTH: I think there is a comfort level with this sort of technology that doesn't have an agenda. Technology doesn't want the defendant to be convicted or the prosecutor to win. It simply exists.

LONDON: For convicted killer Scott Peterson a cell phone call placed on the day his wife Lacy disappeared helped the prosecution build a time line against Peterson. During the Joseph Smith trial, the surveillance tapes were hard to watch. But the jury couldn't ignore what they saw. 11-year-old Carlie Brucia being abducted by Smith who now sits on death row. And Darryl Littlejohn says he's innocent, but investigators in New York claim his cell phone was used to make a call near where Imette St. Guillen's body was found.

ROSENBLOOTH: Technology is something that has the potential to make all of us feel more secure because it furthers justice.

LONDON: Justice for those who commit the unthinkable and for those, like Raul Ramirez who had the unthinkable happen to them.

RAMIREZ: It was living a nightmare.

LONDON: Jennifer London, NBC News, Los Angeles.


OLBERMANN: Not that technology especially video technology has been perfected and that is the segue into our round up of celebrity and entertainment news "Keeping Tabs," ask Terri Hatcher. She has reportedly suffered an eye injury on the set of "Desperate Housewives" after a light bulb exploded. She told "People" magazine that glass lodged in her right eye and scratched her cornea quote, "I was taken to a wonderful eye doctor and I'm now wearing a most glamorous eye patch over the right half of my face." She said she was trying to see the humor in it, would be back to work in two days and said she saw that scheming Eva Longoria slipping the lighting director a 10 just before it all happened. I made up the last part.

And it is not often that someone chooses jail time over community service, but if you're somebody who has survived the over the top scripts of the TV series "Lost," maybe this would seem to make sense. Actress Michelle Rodriguez surrendered to authorities Tuesday, after pleading guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol. She began a five-day jail term in addition to a $500 fine. Rodriguez and another "Lost" actor, Cynthia Watros, were arrested on December 1st last year in separate cars, both for drunk driving. Her attorney said it was a personal choice here quoting, "I would suspect that because she has had a hard time even going out for a meal without being intruded upon for an autograph or photograph, it's really difficult for her to do community service work." Remember Ms. Rodriguez, your cell mate might not be asking you for just an autograph.

Speaking of lost, Tom Cruise has apparently spent more time talking about his new child than being with his new child. And the first baby has gone so well it appears La Spears is going back for seconds. More stories my producers are forcing me to cover next.

But first, time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for worst person in the world. The bronze to Dustin Williams of Beaverton, Oregon. Let's have a good look at Dustin's mug shot. I'm ready for my close up Mr. Daneal. He was apparently dressed up like that, some sort of salute to "Revenge of the Sith," while police say he was threatening kids outside a school with a fake handgun. Thank you, goodbye, thank you.

Our runners up, Minneapolis police officers Steven Herron and Lindsey Anderson. No not the British filmmaker Lindsey Anderson. They are under arrest in Columbia Heights, Minnesota. First Ms. Anderson allegedly drunk drove her car into a parked truck and then when the Columbia Heights cops would not let her walk away because she was another cop, she swore at them, flipped them the bird. Where upon Mr. Herron, her fianc'e and also a Minneapolis policeman, was difficult enough that the Columbia Heights cops had to taser him.

But our winner, Bill O's coming to a boil again. His latest mortal enemy, the newspaper "The Syracuse Post Standard" which wrote about him blah blah blah we get it, you didn't like what they wrote. He's inducted them into the new Bill O'Reilly hall of shame. Now The Countdown hall of fame would sue but, heck, if anybody is an expert on shame it's Bill O'Reilly, so we'll let this one pass. But he also says, quote, "Beginning today, the smear stops here." You are going to stop smearing people? How are you going to fill an hour every night, Bill? Reruns of the Jetson's? Bill O'Reilly, today's worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN: See how quickly the logical chain gets broken in this one of the latest round of stories my producers are forcing me to cover. Tom Cruise is just wild about his wife and his new baby, Suri. So wild that he stopped on the red carpet in London to talk about them to fans, stopped and talked about them, for hours and hours instead of going home to be with them. Ding! Our number one story on the Countdown, could we not at least require celebrities to pass a quick written test before we let them breed? The world of Cruise wobbling still more on its axis in a moment. First the latest item under production, "Us Weekly" reporting that Britney Spears is quote "100 percent pregnant with her second child." According to one of their sources she is four months along. What's less than 100 percent pregnant by the way?

This after Spears was seen pool side at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with a rounder more swollen belly. The magazine said Spears cried her eyes out when she first received the news because she had been thinking about ditching husband Kevin Federline. Hey missy, hold on to that thought. Spears was also said to be worried about the public's reaction to another pregnancy, so she reportedly ordered fake cocktails to fool the media into thinking she was still partying.

And then there's the happy home life of Tom Cruise, in which he never stops talking, to which he never seems to be going. Having moved from the red carpet in Rome for the premiere of "Mission Impossible 3" there. Cruise told reporters and fans that he had spoken with Katie Holmes quote, "About a billion times." This while he spent a marathon four hours with those fans, his personal best. He also bemused the crowd with this gem quote, "I'm excellent at changing nappies. I love it."

To awake us from our nappies, who else but "Village Voice" columnist Michael Musto. Thanks for your time Michael.


OLBERMANN: Let's start with Cruise. I don't mean to throw stones here, but if that quote's accurate, is that the smoking gun moment that this is all carefully rehearsed? I mean no American speaking spontaneously about removing his kid's poop, says nappies, that's the English term. He pre-translated it. We've got him don't we?

MUSTO: No, actually, what Tom doesn't realize is nappies is Hebrew for fake love interest. What he's really saying is I'm good at changing my fake love interest. It's like when JFK kept saying I'm a Berliner and he was really saying I'm a jelly donut, okay. But if Tom is delirious about the baby and so am I. I don't know if he or Katie screamed when Suri was born, but I know I did. In fact I was such a mess I had to change my nappy.

OLBERMANN: All right, so he gets to the London movie premiere after the one in Rome and he's now going on to the one in Paris, though he was supposedly set to go home after the Paris event, the beloved happy home he's never at, which if he went to he wouldn't have to call home like a billion times. Who's falling for this?

MUSTO: Nobody, but look, everybody knows if you have a piece of art to promote, you leave the wife and kid behind and you go do it. If you don't have a piece of art to promote, you go promote "Mission Impossible." You know the kid will still be there, the career won't, so I'm all with Tom. I just pray that he doesn't meet someone else on the Eiffel Tower. You remember how (INAUDIBLE) romantic that was last time. Tom, please don't. We don't need another fake baby in nine months.

OLBERMANN: More revelations about that meaning of the name Suri. It is Rose in Persian, it's Princess in Hebrew and it's a homonym for Suri in England, which is one of the world headquarters of scientology. But there are various reports also saying that the more common understanding in Hebrew is evacuate or clear off or scram. Did sort of a subtle message slip out here via the scientology thing here, the mother ship's finally on the way or get out of my or get this baby out of my way or what?

MUSTO: Well Tom is going with that latter definition which is evacuate or get out of here. Because when he told everyone, I really fathered a baby this time, they're like, get out of here. There's also a musical background to the name Suri, Rogers and Hamerstein, Suri with a friend, Elton John's surrey seems to be the hardest word. Fifth Dimension, can you surrey, can you picnic.

But I could go on and on. But whether it means rose or princess or PR tool, this baby will definitely be Suri, very Suri.

OLBERMANN: Suri seems to be the hardest word.

MUSTO: Or who's Suri now, Connie Francis. Like I said, I could go on.

OLBERMANN: Speaking of Connie Francis, this woman who appears to be in summer repeats now, Britney Spears worried about the press reaction to possibly having another child so she decided to throw reporters off the scent of this new pregnancy by instead pretending she was just drinking or drunk or something? Where are her priorities here? We'd rather see her drunk than pregnant?

MUSTO: It didn't work, did it? It didn't throw anybody off. This is the woman who had the baby on her lap in the car. Not Kevin, the other baby. So, when people saw her supposedly pregnant and drinking, nobody said oh she'd never do anything that irresponsible, they just thought oh she must be pregnant. She should have thrown us off by doing healthy things, like eating (INAUDIBLE) and drinking soy milk. But no, Britney never thinks that way, she never takes that leap.

OLBERMANN: More news about the mom of the year. She fired her nanny after her son fell from a high chair and then she got this doctor's advice on parenting and he told her, his exact quote, "Not to leave Sean on any high surfaces where he could roll off," according to a source in "In Touch Weekly." Spears was so grateful she wanted to hire this doctor full time. Now, had you previously heard of this breakthrough in child care? Did this guy get a Nobel Prize for discovering that you shouldn't leave babies on high surfaces? I mean who was Britney Spears raised by? Wolves?

MUSTO: Yes, and not just any ordinary wolves, wolves from the slow school. In fact when baby Sean fell off that high surface, he and Britney suddenly had something in common, they're both brain dead. Already I hate jokes like that. I really do. But look this doctor I think did have a point. He may not be a Nobel winner, but he had a point, keep the kid away from high things. Like K. Fed, he's high so much of the time. And I hear what Britney's done - what Keith, you want to say something?


MUSTO: I hear what Britney has - good, because I want to keep going. What Britney has gotten out of this whole thing is keep the baby in low places, keep it in a ditch or in the basement, in a dungeon or something and just go down once a month, change its nappies. Or it can just cling on to its bosom. Once again, I have more to say.

OLBERMANN: No, you don't, because we're out of time. Keeping with Kevin Federline's talent.

MUSTO: Oh the baby by the way's going to be called Asparagus Spears.

OLBERMANN: Michael Musto of "The Village Voice." That's Countdown for this the 1091st day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, goodnight and good luck.