Wednesday, May 31, 2006

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for May 31

Guest: Zack Bazzi

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

Haditha. The president speaks.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If in fact the - you know, the - laws are broken, there'll be, there'll be punishment.


OLBERMANN: And the political punishment, the administration taking a pounding. Why didn't the Johnson or Nixon administrations suffer similarly for the far more atrocious events of My Lai in Vietnam?

"The War Tapes," telling it like it really is. An Iraq documentary from National Guardsmen who served a year there. The film, praised for honesty by those who support the war and those who oppose it. One of the three soldier-producers joins us.

The battle is joined by Hillary Clinton.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Americans know we have to change direction.


OLBERMANN: The campaign is for reelection to the Senate, unless she changes direction.

A negative-positive. Lance Armstrong cleared. He did not use performance-enhancing drugs to win the 1999 Tour de France. And the other six years? Nobody checked.

And, of course, the big news from the "TODAY" show.


KATIE COURIC, HOST: I'll never have a partner like you again, because I'll never be working with a partner again.


OLBERMANN: That's right. Gene Shallit is back.

All that and more, now on Countdown.




OLBERMANN: Good evening.

An entire year has now elapsed since Dick Cheney declared that the insurgency in Iraq was in the last throes, 12 months in which another 833 Americans in uniform there have been killed, the death of one of them on November 19, a roadside bombing taking the life of Marine Lance Corporal Miguel Tarrazes sparking the incident for which the entire war may ultimately be remembered.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, Haditha. Tonight, a first look at the evidence, a first statement on the atrocities by the American president, "The New York Times" reporting that the U.S. military investigation into the incident has turned up evidence showing that all of the Iraqi civilians killed at Haditha, up to two dozen of them, had gunshot wounds.

That directly contradicts claims by U.S. Marines that the victims had been victims of a roadside bombing, American military investigators also saying that the killings appear to have been an unprovoked attack by the Marines, apparently in retaliation for the death of Corporal Terrazes, White House press secretary Tony Snow saying yesterday that President Bush learned of the killings only after a reporter from "TIME" magazine started answering questions about it, Mr. Bush making his first public comments about the allegations today, after a meeting this morning with the president of Rwanda.


BUSH: The Marine Corps is full of men and women who are honorable people, who understand rules of war. And if, in fact, these allegations are true, the Marine Corps will work hard to make sure that that culture, that proud (INAUDIBLE) culture will be reinforced, and that those who violated the law, if they did, will be punished.


OLBERMANN: Time to call in the "Washington Post" national political writer, Dana Milbank.

Thanks for your time, Dana.


Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Doubtless it is ringing implausible to many that the president could not have learned about this till the first "TIME" stories in March. But My Lai, the worst atrocity of Vietnam, occurred in March 1968. Essentially, nobody knew about it till March of 1969, the first news report wasn't until September 1969. Does the president, in this case, deserve the benefit of the doubt on this one?

MILBANK: Well, I think he's getting it so far, and it is certainly plausible that people at every level were trying to hush this up as much as possible. So I'm not hearing a lot of criticism of the president inasmuch as a coverup is concerned.

Where the president is potentially more vulnerable is in the environment that allowed this sort of thing to occur, and are people going to make a connection saying that, you know, a president saying, We're fighting terrorists who are not protected by the Geneva accords, does that create the kind of environment that a 19-year-old Marine can interpret as meaning it's OK to do this sort of thing?

OLBERMANN: Also, if the president does get the benefit of the doubt, if he did not know, or we just have to assume that, does that actually raise more disturbing issues about the chain of command, about the prospect of an actual coverup within the military, as you suggest, at various levels?

MILBANK: Well, it certainly does. It's not even the prospect of a coverup. There obviously has been a coverup, because false reports were filed indicating that these people did not die by gunshot wounds. Now, the question is, how far up the chain of command does it go? Nobody knows, or certainly nobody outside of the military right now knows exactly how far that'll go.

Now, we've been, you know, six months since this occurred, a few months into an investigation already. I think there's a bit of patience now. But some information is going to have to be coughed up soon.

OLBERMANN: The political fallout, arguably the closest that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld came to losing his job was after Abu Ghraib. Haditha will presumably eclipse Abu Ghraib. Could it eclipse Don Rumsfeld?

MILBANK: Well, it certainly could. It's almost - when you get to some - an atrocity of this sort of magnitude, it's almost larger than Donald Rumsfeld. I mean, if he were to resign, so what? The damage has been done in the Arab world.

Now, it's not an immediate political problem for the administration, because obviously nobody's directly blaming the president for this. The question is, if this causes the operation in Iraq to continue to go south, things really deteriorate there, that is where the president will take a beating in his political popularity, which is already about as low as one can go.

OLBERMANN: And back to My Lai for a moment, and the comparison is unbalanced, because there were 500 or more civilians slaughtered at My Lai. But it seems as if, if there has not been more of a political impact here now, at least there is a bigger ceiling for potential political impact with Haditha, certainly, than there was from My Lai for either President Johnson, who was on the watch when it happened, or President Nixon, who was on the watch when it broke. Is there a reason for that?

MILBANK: Well, My Lai is one comparison, but let's think of Abu Ghraib as the other comparison. One person died as a result of the torture and abuse in that prison. So we're talking at least two dozen here. It - the problem is, this is much more intricately involved with the war effort itself. The president said just last week that the problems at Abu Ghraib, we've been paying for that for a long time.

Now, by every indication, this is something that's going to play at least as badly, if not worse than that, in Iraq and in the Arab world. So that, I think, is the relevant comparison here, and that's why this is - could be absolutely devastating.

OLBERMANN: And the president does what about it just from a political point of view? How best does he protect himself and his interests and the country's interests?

MILBANK: Well, look, you're sitting at 30 percent in the polls, you can't do much about it politically. And when - an atrocity of this sort, it sort of - you know, all Americans have to be in this sort of a situation together.

They can hold out for a little while longer, allow the investigations to go. John Warner in the Senate has said before long, he's going to start his investigations. And something's going to have to pop.

OLBERMANN: Dana Milbank, national political reporter of "The Washington Post." As always, sir, great thanks for joining us.

MILBANK: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Whatever the truth about Haditha, the theory of the fog of war has been proved yet again. And while accusations continue to fly from opponents and proponents that Iraq has been exaggerated or sugarcoated, could there possibly be an objective viewpoint?

A new documentary called "The War Tapes" may be the closest thing yet. Instead of actually getting embedded with the New Hampshire National Guard, filmmaker Deborah Scranton gave cameras to the troops and asked them to film their experiences during their year-long deployment from March 2004 to 2005. The footage from three of those soldiers has been edited into a 97-minute film, which opens in New York Friday and then nationwide next month.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every soldier eventually wants to go to combat.

It's a natural instinct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you let fear get to you, then you're not going to be doing your job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every single time you go out there, it's attacks, it's unbelievable.


OLBERMANN: One of those three Guardsmen, Sergeant Zack Bazzi, joins me now.

Thanks for your time tonight, sir.


OLBERMANN: Why the documentary? What do you think people will take away from it?

BAZZI: Actually, I'm not sure. It seems to me like people, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum, seems to me that they take away what they want out of it. Sort of like the Mona Lisa smile. I've seen the Republicans (INAUDIBLE), you know, pro-troops kind of movie. And I've seen Democrats say, you know, it reaffirms their thoughts all along that this war has been a mistake. So I guess it's up to the viewer to decide.

OLBERMANN: How do you feel about that? I mean, in a sense, you're, you might be saying that what you've done plays into both hands. On the other hand, it sounds as if, and many of the reactions have been from both sides, Hey, this is fair and this is honest.

BAZZI: Yes, I think so. I think it's authentic look at our daily

lives in Iraq. And, you know, for better, for worse, the good, the bad,

the heroic and the sometimes gruesome has been captured in this film. I

think the director, to her credit, Deborah Scranton, did a good job. She -

I remember roughly a week before we deployed, she came down, stood in front of the unit, and gave her spiel, and she gave us one promise, that she will not lean in any way politically in this film. It will just be a raw, authentic look into our daily lives in Iraq.

And I think, to her credit, she's done a great job.

OLBERMANN: Let me ask you something of this story of the moment. Obviously you were not at Haditha, you're still in the service, you can't address it specifically. But from the beginning of this war and in many other wars, we have heard from other soldiers, from spokesmen from the Pentagon, that the insurgents in this case use women and children as shields, and very often you can't tell who's friendly and who is not.

What was your experience in that regard?

BAZZI: Again, this unfortunate incident reinforces the difficulties that we as soldiers face in this war. The rules of engagement are fairly clear, but the battle assignment is often not clear. You don't know friend from foe, civilian from a, you know, from enemy, and so on.

So it's difficult experience sometimes for soldiers trying to tell those two apart. But, you know, unfortunately, you got to do what you got to do. And I think, to our credit, the United States Army, we do follow the rules of engagement most of the time. And things like that are just isolated incidents.

OLBERMANN: Will you be returning to Iraq?

BAZZI: I'm a happy and proud staff sergeant in the New Hampshire National Guard, and if they call up my unit, I'll be there with them. Probably so.

OLBERMANN: What has stuck with you from your experience there? Is there one image that springs immediately to your mind every time you hear that word Iraq?

BAZZI: Maybe an RPG coming my way in my Humvee, or an ID going off. Those usually tend to stick for a while. But also (INAUDIBLE) in respect to, and there's more humane things. My squad, for example, was attached to an Iraqi police station for a couple of months, and just every day sitting there, getting to know the Iraqi policemen and sharing the difficulties of the job with them, and just exchanging mundane, you know, mundane information about our culture and their culture.

To me, it meant a lot, because I think the essence of this entire operation, at least how I choose to interpret it, is to help the Iraqi people and democratize them. And whatever little I could do in my own little way, I was very proud to do so.

OLBERMANN: All right. You were there a year, you've been back a year. Give me your media review. Is the media on the whole showing proportional amounts of good and bad coming from there?

BAZZI: Well, I'm no media critic, so I guess my opinion is not fairly qualified one. But, you know, the war is hell, and for the media to try to capture it, they can only attempt to do so. I don't think - think it's very difficult to get the real thing. And no matter how hard they try. But I think the U.S. media, you know, tries its best to capture what's it like over there.

OLBERMANN: Sergeant Zack Bazzi, great thanks for your time tonight.

Good luck with this. And great thanks for your service to our country.

BAZZI: Thank you. Appreciate it. Thanks for having me over.

OLBERMANN: Also, what could be a major shift in the U.S. policy towards Iran. It comes with major strings attached, though, the Bush administration agreeing to face-to-face talks with that nation about its nuclear program for the first time in more than a quarter century. The catch, Iran would first have to stop enriching uranium, Secretary of State Rice indicating the U.S. is prepared to go either way, join in those talks with Iran, or demand sanctions.

Tehran has already dismissed the offer as propaganda, saying it is not in its country's best interest to stop enriching the uranium.

Also here, pure politics, a new term arrives at the trial of David Safavian. What on earth were Jack Abramoff's champions?

And Hillary Clinton officially kicks off her campaign. But for which job is she running?

You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: You can talk all you want about golf junkets to Scotland, the Republican lobbyist who bankrolled them, and the resulting corruption investigation that has implicated at least two U.S. congressman. But heads only really turn, as it was so memorably phrased in the movie "The American President," when there is art.

Our fourth story on the Countdown, we now have photos, Kodak moments capturing one of Jack Abramoff's infamous golf trips to Scotland, made public in federal court on Tuesday, that at the trial of David Safavian, the former White House procurement chief, and the first person brought to trial in the Abramoff scandal.

Our correspondent David Shuster joining us now from the Potomac and its usual smelly self with a first look. David?

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Keith, the photos came out during testimony this week from the government's star witness, who described how Jack Abramoff obtained inside information from David Safavian. David Safavian, of course, stands accused of lying about Abramoff to investigators.

The witness in this case is Neil Volz (ph). And when you look at the photo, he's the one there on the left in the black crew-neck sweater and glasses. Volz is the former chief of staff of Congressman Bob Ney. That is Congressman Bob Ney they there in the gray T-shirt.

Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, he is the one who is wearing jeans and penny loafers, not exactly golfing attire. And as for Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who picked up much of the bill for almost everybody on this jaunt, he is on the end there with the jacket and white cap.

This golfing trip came just three weeks after Abramoff sought information from Safavian about government properties and contracts, and here's another photo on board the Gulfstream jet. And a final photograph introduced as evidence shows four members of Abramoff entourage at St. Andrews, presumably preparing to tee off.

The issue at trial is whether David Safavian lied to investigators at the General Services Administration when he said Abramoff had no business with the government. And a secondary issue was whether Safavian lied about the actual cost of the golf outing. Witnesses have described $500-a-night hotel rooms in London, $100 rounds of drinks, $400 rounds of golf, and, of course, the travel to and from Scotland on board the Gulfstream jet.

The prosecution does appear close to wrapping up its case. Today, for example, a government ethics official testified that she would not have authorized David Safavian to go ahead and take this trip if the ethics official knew that Safavian was providing inside information to Abramoff.

And one final note, Keith, and that is, there has been some testimony this week about what Jack Abramoff described as champions. Champions was apparently the term that he designated for members of Congress that he felt he could do business with that were going to be returning favors to Jack Abramoff based on some of the favors Abramoff was giving to them, Keith.

OLBERMANN: George Orwell would love that term. We know about the favors that Mr. Abramoff did in just getting those gentlemen to Scotland. We know there'd mentions of the drinks and the golf once they got there. And obviously he, from the picture on the Gulfstream, he bought at least one of them a newspaper.

Do we know of any, anything else? Was there anything else once they, once they got to where they were going in that, in that plane?

SHUSTER: Well, actually, once they got to Scotland, Neil Volz testified that he and his former boss, Congressman Bob Ney, were not particularly strong golfers. In fact, their handicap was apparently so insufficient that the local clubhouse rules prohibited them from playing at St. Andrews.

So enter Jack Abramoff. Volz testified that Abramoff had a fixer at the golf course, and the fixer enabled Congressman Ney and his former chief of staff to bend the rules, bend golfing etiquette, and play several rounds of golf. As one observer noted this week, one wonders what it must have been like to be in the foursome behind them.

OLBERMANN: Now you're screwing with the great game of golf. Now you're really - now they're really pissing me off here.

MSNBC's David Shuster, great thanks.

SHUSTER: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: And please let us know when the shots of Mr. Abramoff and the president come back from the Fotomat.

SHUSTER: We will. Thanks.

OLBERMANN: Speaking of pictures, this is perhaps the most famous mug in the world, but, oh, if the Mona Lisa could only talk. Wait, a Japanese scientist says she can.

And cyclist Lance Armstrong can now talk too, and say that he's been cleared of drug charges at the 1999 Tour de France. And about the rest of his career...

Details ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: It was on May 31 of 1678 that the annual fair in Coventry, England, decided to celebrate a legendary figure with the first-ever Lady Godiva procession. A little-known of her purported bareback ride through that city's streets back around the year 1045 or so is that it was part of a tax protest, the kind of event that has clearly lost its edge in the last thousand years. To her, then, we dedicate...

Let's play Oddball.

We begin in Bellingham, Washington with hope, finally, for curing America's addiction to oil. No, the government has not decided to stop subsidizing the oil companies. Ha, ha, ha, ha! Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ahh -

Don't be silly.

No, I'm talking about these guys and their car that runs on cow crap. Look at it go. It's a hybrid developed by students at Western Washington University. It will succeed for the next 10 and then will all be mysteriously destroyed. Goes zero to 60 in six seconds, gets 43 miles to the gallon using biomethane from cow dropping. You just pull up to a farm, you connect your hose to a cow, and you're - Oh, no, there - apparently there's a whole scientific process, and - Boring.

Far more significant tech news, let's go to Tokyo, where a leading Japanese audio expert says his machine can tell us what the Leonardo da Vinci's famous Mona Lisa sounded like. Dr. Matsumi Suzuki usually uses his skills to assist in criminal investigations, has spent months reconstructing the Mona Lisa's skull, measuring her head, and plugging all the data into the computer to give us this exact recreation of the Mona Lisa's voice.

MONA LISA: Oh, God, Leo, how long do I have to sit here in this dress? It's so itchy. And these shoes, oy, they're killing me.

OLBERMANN: Mona Lisa sounds exactly like Liz Winstead (ph)? Just as I imagined.

Finally, to India, for a story that'll make you feel much better about our health care system. Meet Jamuna Prasad Chaturvedi (ph), the blindfolded doctor. Now, now, before you get too upset, he doesn't wear an actual blindfold, he just uses his hands to cover up his eyes, ears, and nose. He chants for a while. Then he makes his diagnosis.

I think you have a broken arm. And you have a broken arm, and you have a broken arm, and you have a broken arm.

But doctor, I - Remember George Carlin's joke, that statistically, there has to be literally a worst doctor in the world? And his punchline? And somebody's got an appointment to see him tomorrow.

Senator Hillary Clinton officially kicks off her reelection fight, railing against the administration for dismissing inconvenient facts. Is it all a big dress rehearsal for Hillary in 2008? Not a big dress, but a big dress rehearsal.

And where will this woman be in '08? Was the big farewell really part of the most nefarious conspiracy ever conceived by guilty man? Now, that's a tease, huh?

Those stories ahead.

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

Number three, the makers of Jesus Pan. No, it's not a religious variant on marzipan, it's a cooking surface inscribed with his likeness, so that the next time you want a pancake or a grilled cheese sandwich with the savior's face on it, you don't have to wait for eBay.

Number two, Clara Jean Brown of Daffy (ph), Alabama. Fortunately, she's OK, but you have to doubt she's laughing this one off. During a bad thunderstorm, she stood in her kitchen and prayed for her family, because they were on the road coming back from the beach. She says she had just said Amen when she was hit by lightning.

And number one, Michael Jamal Bluntson of West Palm Beach, Florida, one of two men accused of trying to hold up a bank in the nearby city of Indiantown. He wrote a hold-up note threatening to blow the bank up. Unfortunately, he wrote the note on the back of his own bank statement.


OLBERMANN: Not sure about the numerology here, but it is 888 days until the 208 presidential election and Senator Hillary Clinton has already accepted her party's nomination. Of course, the nomination was for a second term to the United States Senate, but in our No. 3 on the Countdown, many at the New York state Democratic Convention were watching for eye ticks and listening for a secret code in hopes of diving whether Senator Clinton might be starting to lay the groundwork for a presidential bid.

The Senator did address issues with national scope and resonance, including the war in Iraq and improving FEMA post Katrina. But as those subjects imply, there was nothing new particularly. Most of her speech in Buffalo was naturally New York centric and actually preced her formal nomination but the state democratic party. But the senator did predict broad democratic victories in November and in that there was at least a hint of things to come.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: We need new leadership and I believe we're going to start seeing that happen this November. We're going to be electing democrats across New York and across America because Americans know we have to change direction.

With hard work, we will take our country back. I will be there fighting every step of the way.


OLBERMANN: The senator's 18 minute biographical video at the convention was full of testimonials about the work she's done for New Yorkers, it was book ended with words from her husband. The former president's presence there, potent, at least, in its imagery.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's going to be quite a moment when the sitting vice president performs his last official duty and that is to swear in the new United States senator from New York, Rick Lazzio.


BILL CLINTON (D), FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: The so-called experts counted her out a lot of times.

H. CLINTON: You can't care what people say about you. And in New York, they say it in every language.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is the most egregious, the most offensive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I think that everybody wants to see you signing something that you said you were for.

B. CLINTON: Just attack, attack, attack.

H. CLINTON: Look, I knew I was taking a big risk and I knew that it would get hard, really ugly even.

B. CLINTON: She could have had a much easier life and more like lucrative life, but it wouldn't have been her life.

H. CLINTON: The United States Senate is where decisions are made that affect people's lives. Why should I shrink away and not do that?

B. CLINTON: From the time Hillary was a child, she was embued with a notion that in order for her life to have meaning, she had to do something more than succeed in personal ways, that she had to give something back.


OLBERMANN: New York republicans have now chosen Senator Clinton's opponent, given their low expectations, he would seem less a candidate a more a sacrificial lamb. The ex-mayor of Yonkers, New York, John Spencer, who a year ago said that District Attorney Jeanine Pirro didn't have a Chinaman's chance of winning the endorsement of conservatives.

Let's call in the senior editor, columnist for "Newsweek" magazine, NBC political analyst Jonathan Alter. Also the author of "The Defining Moment: FDR's 100 Days and the Triumph of Hope."

Thanks for your time, sir.


OLBERMANN: Perhaps we would be naive to think that the senator would have used her state's party convention to do anything overt about a presidential bid, but even conceding that, did that speech underwhelm, did it deliberately underwhelm? What was it about?

ALTER: Well, it was senatorial, you know, and she's running for the Senate. She's going to win overwhelmingly. Pretty much everybody who counts in New York State thinks she's been a terrific senator and most democrats in the country do. But that's not a very good dress rehearsal for the presidency, Keith, because four of the last five presidents have been governors. Senators talk Senate speak, it doesn't play very well, it doesn't stir the soul. She doesn't have a lot of rock 'n' roll in her, and that would help if she wants to run for president.

OLBERMANN: And about the Senate campaign ahead, the republicans have now chosen this candidate, who has the Chinaman's chance remark hanging around his neck, he's also a man only joined their party in 2002. A. are they missing a chance to take a chunk out of Hillary Clinton in this campaign? B. could she be hurt by the fact she's not likely to break a sweat in the campaign?

ALTER: Well, to the question "A" you have to understand the people who want Hillary for president now are mostly republicans. You know, this is something that the secret is, democrats think she's a great Senator, they don't think she can win for president and so the pressure for her to run - all of the tub thumping for her to get out is coming from conservative republicans who are licking their chops at the possibility of Hillary running for president. So they don't want to cut her up in a Senate campaign. They just as soon that she does so well in this campaign that she goes into the presidential race with a big head of steam. So, counter-intuitively, it would actually be in the democrat's interest for her to get a little batting practice, a little spring training, before she goes out into the presidential. She's only been through one campaign, Keith, six years ago. So it's really - it would be helpful for her to go out there and have a tougher opponent than the mayor of Yonkers.

OLBERMANN: Her campaign, in any event. Only one of her own campaigns.

ALTER: Right. That's right.

OLBERMANN: And image question: Everybody analyzes her, talk about her politics, her appeal, her - the poorizing (ph) effects, they seem to ignore, I think, a much more visceral element. Can she overcome that speaking style? I don't want to pick nits here, but I get this feeling like, when I'm listening, that the teacher has caught me chewing gum.

ALTER: Yeah, and you know, especially in contrast to her husband. Remember the Coretta King funeral, it was a bad event for Hillary politically because she doesn't - nobody does, but her limitations are especially stark juxtaposed next to Bill Clinton. And there's also the question of whether the country wants to go Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton. That's not exactly the politics of the future that the Clintons are always talking about.

Hillary today used the phrase "new leadership." Hillary Clinton is not really new leadership. She brings her husband back in for another eight years to stay in the White House? It's not at all clear that this is going to be appetizing for the American people, and there's a certain school of thought in the democratic party that's getting larger by the day that she could stay in the Senate and become one of the great senators in American history and let somebody else go out there and run for president so we can move into the future.

OLBERMANN: And that addresses that campaign issue of her husband's effervescence. I it her greatest campaign asset or is it her worse liability in the campaign?

ALTER: I think it's a real liability for her.

OLBERMANN: Jonathan Alter, "Newsweek" and NBC and "The Defining Moment: FDR's 100 Days and the Triumph of Hope," as always, sir, great thanks for coming in.

ALTER: Thanks a lot, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Lance Armstrong giving thanks as far as the 1999 tour de France goes he's in the clear. Those who accused him, in fact, are now themselves accused.

Speaking of accused, Dixie Chicks. Guess where on the pop and country music charts their controversial new album has debuted? Those stories ahead, but first here are Countdown' "Top 3 Sound Bites" of this day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cars aren't meant to fly. Occasionally they do. It's amazing no one was seriously hurt. Here it went airborne and then right into the side of "Hecks." Look how high that car got off the ground. I'm 5'9", the hole, it's way up there. And look at the size of the hole. Imagine if it were a Cadillac or a Hummer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know how he got the car to fly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cars shouldn't fly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't see how it happened.


JEREMIAH WEAVER, SPELLING BEE CONTESTANT: Zephyus (ph)? Can you spell that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our next call is from Malibu, Hawaii. Good morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, this is Malibu, California.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to try to be really calm while I'm talking about this, but I've been alive for 11 presidents. I've never seen anything like this in my life. I belong to an organization called "Operation Helmet."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just found the website. It's operation hyphen




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for calling again.



OLBERMANN: Conspiracy theories ahead. Who is really behind the TV toss-up that lead to Katie Couric's big sendoff? And the drug allegations against Lance Armstrong. Were the French out to get him? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) That's next, this is Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Not to say that the subject of steroids in sports is probably far more pervasive than any of us realize, but around the ballparks these past few weeks, a lot of reporters, some executives, even some players have been helping me compile a list of suspects, baseball players whose careers spiked in odd ways or who succumbed to sudden injury or illness or other signs of steroid use. And that list compiled entirely off the top of our heads, has already crossed the plateau of 100 names. Our No. 2 story on the Countdown, in that context, it's understandable that a piece of good news about another athlete actually accused of drug use in one particular event could get exaggerated into a total exoneration. A special investigator has cleared cyclist Lance Armstrong of charges that he doped up during the 1999 Tour de France. The rest of his career, not addressed. The piece of good news now from our correspondent Mike Taibbi.

MIKE TAIBBI, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Last August, a French newspaper claimed new tests on Armstrong's 1999 urine samples were positive for the performance enhancing hormone EPO.

LANCE ARMSTRONG, CYCLIST: I have never doped.

TAIBBI: He denied it right away on CNN's "Larry King Show."

ARMSTRONG: When I peed in that bottle, there wasn't EPO in it. No way.

TAIBBI: Today, unequivocal support for Armstrong's claims of innocence. Dutch investigator Amil Freeman (ph), said his independent probe for the International Cycling Union exonerates Lance Armstrong completely with respect to alleged use of doping in the 1999 Tour de France. A relieved Armstrong said in a statement, his accusers "have been out to discredit and target me without any basis and falsely accused me."

(on camera): One cycling world expert said that every turn in this story is big news in Europe, especially in France. But that in this country Lance Armstrong is seen simply and forever as a hero.

BOB ROLL, OUTDOOR LIFE NETWORK: Lance Armstrong, cycling hero, from the United States of America. Cancer survivor and completely exonerated of any charges whatsoever.

TAIBBI (voice-over): But he's also been a hero on the defensive. Pressed to explain his breakup with music star, Sheryl Crow and to keep denying those doping rumors as he did to the "Today Show's" Ann Curry.



ARMSTRONG: Not once.

TAIBBI: The denials, a part of his story no matter who says he's clean.

Mike Taibbi, NBC News, New York.


OLBERMANN: With that, we segue to the celebrity and entertainment stories of keeping tabs and the new album from the group Dixie Chicks has been out for a week, no one really expecting too much since, as you know, they alienated their fan base with those controversial political statements. Billboard charts are in, Dixie Chicks are No. 1 with a bullet. Almost 526,000 copies of "Taking the Long Way" were sold in the first week it was available. Top of the charts, despite minimal radio airplay and the absence of a hit single. The number exceeds industry projections, particularly with the hostility towards the singers from rightwing commentators and other country music folks.

Just last week at the academy of Country Music Awards show, the singer Reba McIntyre quipped that the band was singing, quote, "With their foot in their mouths." Well, Reba, I guess the foot is on the other hand now, isn't it?

We told you last Thursday that Michelle Rodriguez of ABC's "Lost" had checked into the L.A. County jail to begin serving a 60-day sentence. She's out already. It's been 60 days since last Thursday? No wonder my vacation seemed so short. Did time mysteriously bend and she actually spent 10 years marooned on a tropical island in the fifth dimension like some ridiculous TV show. No. The jail was overcrowded; the sheriff's department has suffered budget cuts of $180 million. They have no room for nonviolent offenders with terms of less than 90 days. So Rodriguez served about four hours and a half. Oh, what a mindbender.

Speaking of lost, it's a final for Katie Couric. Her farewell, how it ties into the damndest conspiracy theory you've ever heard. This goes everywhere from President Bush to Boy George. That's next. But first, time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for "Worst Person in the World."

No. 3, Ad (ph) Vandenberg, one of the founder of Holland's Charity Freedom and Diversity political party. Nice name for a party except their only political aim is to lower the age of consent from 16 to 12. They're pedophiles. Conveniently, in a recent poll in Holland, 82% of respondents said the government should do something to outlaw the party, let alone pedophilia.

No. 2, Merman (ph) Robinson, far right republican now seeking the congressional seat from 13th district of North Carolina, and setting a lovely tone for this year's campaign by running a radio ad already in which he says of his opponent, quote, "If he had his way, America would be nothing but one big fiesta for illegal aliens and homosexuals." Gay bashing, immigrant bashing, Hispanic bashing, you left out Terri Schiavo, pal.

But our winner, John Gibson of FOX News claiming the lead in the race for the biggest rationalization of (UNINTELLIGIBLE), quoting John, "If Iraqis know their own history, they know massacres have been committed in Iraq by warring parties from millennia piled on millennia. This is the part of the world that was in on the massacre game early," unquote.

Well, that's already then. What's one more massacre, huh? John Gibson, today's "Worst Person in the World."


OLBERMANN: Look, its Not all about me, all evidence to the contrary. But nine long years ago, I left "Sports Center" and broke up my partnership with the great Dan Patrick, fortunately just temporarily. I mention this because "Entertainment Weekly" magazine later compiled its list of the 100 greatest moments in TV and that partnership was 53rd on that list. The only thing from the "Today Show" was when they put the monkey J. Fred Muggs on the program in 1954, that ranked 34th. Here's my point, my last show on "Sports Center," they gave me 35 seconds to say good-bye, and in the commercial break before it, the producer gets into my earpiece, and says "can you cut it to 15 for get the volleyball scoreboard in?" Katie Couric's been saying good-bye for 56 days!

Our No. 1 story in the Countdown, the startling truth that ties the departed "Today Show" exco-host to both the Killian memos and Boy George in a moment. First, how can we miss you if you, if you don't go away?


MATT LAUER, "TODAY SHOW" CO-HOST: And good morning and welcome to "Today," on a special Wednesday morning. I'm Matt Lauer and for one final time I'm going to turn to my right and say good morning to my friend and colleague, Katie Couric. Last day. How are you feeling?

KATIE COURIC, "TODAY SHOW" CO-HOST: Oh gosh, I'm feeling happy and sad and completely out of control, and you know how much I like that.

LAUER: Yes, exactly.

We're partners, you know, and we have been partners over these last 10 years, 13 years in total the - in every way possible. Not that way.

Yeah. Wait a second.

COURIC: And I know I'll never have a partner like you again, because I'll never be working with a partner again.

I leave this morning not with a heavy hard at all, I mean sadness because of how much I will miss you all, but with a very full heart, filled with love and memories, and yes, gratitude. So, thank you all so much.

LAUER: Cheers!

COURIC: Thank you so much. Everyone in TV land, thanks so much.

LAUER: Cheers!


OLBERMANN: So that is what you saw. That was the surface, perhaps that was the cover story. In an age of slight of hand, of deception and conspiracy, how could that possibly have been all there was to it? The faint uneasiness has been nagging at you in those rootless moments just between night and dawn, at least that was not in vain.

A Countdown exclusive, how Katie Couric fits in the middle of a journalistic political entertainment nexus of conspiracy that will leave you asking, do you really want to hurt me, do you really want to make me cry?


(voice-over): It began on September 8, 2004.

DAN RATHER, "60 MINUTES" HOST: We have new documents and new information.

OLBERMANN: On "60 Minutes," Dan Rather reported that the organization had in its possession copies of previously undiscovered documents questioning President Bush's service, or perhaps lack thereof, in the Texas Air National Guard, the "Killian memos." But within hours bloggers had discovered the memos had issues, serious issues. Dan Rather and CBS News got into the war and of the historically dubious typewriter and an amazing sequence of events was set in motion. The subsequent political frenzy may have hasened Mr. Rather's retirement, may have delayed it, but either way, it certainly started this remarkable sequence of events that might contain the true explanation of the "Killian memo's" saga.

RATHER: And to each of you, courage.

OLBERMANN: And thus, had the first domino, fallen. Mr. Rather was all faster that a calico dress in a West Texas prom night and so was a chain reaction that would change the face of TV as we know it, from black rock to 30 rock. Katie Couric was the next domino.

COURIC: I've decided I'll be leaving "Today" at the end of May.

OLBERMANN: After Bob Schieffer's interregnum. Couric would become Rather's successor as the next anchor of the CBS evening news. And that opened up her job on "Today."

COURIC: NBC has asked me to co-host the "Today" show. And I.

OLBERMANN: So, Viara bolted ABC to take the chair next for Matt Lauer because Couric had grabbed Rather's chair and that meant there would be an open chair on everyone's favorite female gab-fest, to fill the air as penny loafers, they would need a class act on "The View." someone distinguished.

ROSIE O'DONNELL, COMEDIAN: What did I do? I'm fat, I yell, and I sometimes say the "F" word.

OLBERMANN: In other jobs these would be considerable drawbacks, on "The View" they're a positive boon. And thus would fall the next domino. O'Donnell, even after the debacle of her Broadway musical about Boy George called "Taboo," will replace the departing Viara, who's replacing the departing Couric, who's replacing the departed Rather. But there's one condition, if O'Donnell, Star Jones has to be out. The couch is not big enough for the both of them, possibly literally. And as you can imagine for Star, rumors that she'd be kicked off the show hit her like a football in the face.

Now that free-loading husband of hers is going to have to K-Fed on the coattail couch and get his own jobby-job. As for Ms. Jones, there is no telling where she'll end up. Perhaps drama, perhaps CNN at 8:00 Eastern, perhaps the offensive of the Philadelphia Eagles. And all of this, the straight line from Star Jones' job search to O'Donnell to Viara Viara, to Couric, to Rather - all of it started with those "Killian memos" and the source Bill Burkett. No Bill Burkett, maybe he's still on the CBS evening news. Katie Couric might still be on NBC, Meredith Viara might still be on "The View." Rosie O'Donnell might still be out of work.

O'DONNELL: I'm sorry to say this on camera, but I did throw up in the morning.

OLBERMANN: And Star Jones might still have a job.

STAR JONES, "THE VIEW": Yeah I'm Hercules, Hercules, Hercules.

OLBERMANN: So, who generated those documents the "Killian memos?" Who tipped off the rightwing bloggers about the issues? What could their motive possibly have been? It remains a mystery, one no man may ever solve, unless.


OLBERMANN: And to clarify, Star Jones is still one of the hosts of "The View," but one last domino waivers to and fro amid the conspiratorial froth that is life. That's Countdown for this the 1,126 day since the declaration of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

Our MSNBC coverage continues now with "Scarborough Country." Joe, good evening.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for May 30

Guests: Barney Frank, Ken Bazinet, Jay Holcomb

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

The incident at Haditha. We'll show you a step-by-step account of the events leading up to and during the alleged murder of Iraqi civilians. What does this mean for those hearts and minds in Iraq and beyond? We'll talk to the brother of the murdered Marine whose death allegedly sparked the Haditha killings.

The Jefferson raid. A tidal wave of bipartisan support to prevent the FBI from searching Capitol Hill offices. Just about everyone's on board this time, except Barney Frank. And he joins us.

The war of the world. What do Nazis have to do with Al Gore or global warming? What's up with attack ads against a guy that's not running for anything?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Carbon dioxide. They call it pollution. We call it life.


UNGER: Inside the swift-boating of Al Gore.

The big dig. Stunning developments from that Michigan horse farm.

Could the search for Hoffa be offa?

And waiter, there's an E.T. in my duck. That's right, a duck ate an alien, and we've got the X-rays to prove it.

All that and more, now on Countdown.

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

Twenty-five hundred years ago, the Greek dramatist Aeschylus summed up the inherent problem with investigating anything that happens on the battlefield. In war, truth is the first casualty.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, trying to find out the truth about allegations of atrocity in Iraq. Twenty-four civilians, including women and children, reportedly shot dead by Marines after the death of one of their own.

Our correspondent Richard Engel looks at the attempt to piece together exactly what happened in Haditha on November 19, 2005. Richard?


RICHARD ENGEL, MSNBC MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT: Brian, Iraqi witnesses, doctors, and a local human rights group all tell NBC News a consistent story about what happened in Haditha. But it is not one we have been able to independently verify.

(voice-over): This crater is all that's left of a roadside bomb attack last November, but controversy remains over the chain of events it triggered.

Seven-fifteen a.m., a convoy from the 1st Marine Division is attacked by a roadside bomb, a Humvee destroyed, 20-year-old Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas is killed. Terrazas was from a family of Marines and always wanted to enlist.

JORGE TERRAZAS, GRANDFATHER: We were very proud of him, absolutely.

He was 18 when he joined the Marines.

ENGEL: Seven twenty-five, witnesses say Marines search the area for the bomber. They storm a house directly across from the attack, shooting as they approach.

This video, shot by a local journalism student, purports to show the bloody aftermath of what happened inside to 76-year-old Abdul Hamid, blind and in a wheelchair, his 66-year-old wife, and nine of their sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren.

'Local coroner's reports obtained by NBC News say Abdul Hamid was shot in the stomach and head. The reports say his wife and five other relatives were also killed, all by multiple gunshot wounds. Four inside the house survive, including 10-year-old Iman.

IMAN (through interpreter): The Americans came into the room where my father was praying and shot him. They went to my grandmother and killed her too.

ENGEL: During the raid, Abdul Hamid's house caught fire. Witnesses say Marines then move next door to the house of Younis Hamid (ph). Nine people are inside, eight are killed, five of them children. Twelve-year-old Safa (ph) says she survived hiding under the bed.

SAFA (through interpreter): They came in and shot all of us. I pretended I was dead.

ENGEL: Witnesses say Marines then move to a third location, a taxi parked by the side of the road. In it, residents say, are four university students and a driver. A witness watching from a nearby rooftop says Marines took the five men out of the car and executed them. "The driver screamed in English," he said, "'Please, please, please,' but they shot him in the body."

Other witnesses say two hours pass as more Marines and helicopters arrive to lock down the neighborhood. Around 10:30, Marines then storm the house of Eid Ahmed (ph). Here, they allegedly separate his four sons from the women and children before killing the men.

Nine-year-old Khalid (ph) is in the house. "This is my father," he screamed. "God will take my revenge."

In El Paso, the Terrazas family had made a memorial to Miguel, but they told us today their grandson cannot rest in peace with so many unanswered questions remaining about the hours after his death.

(on camera): NBC News asked the U.S. military to comment on this report, but so far, American military officials here in Baghdad would only say they do take the Haditha allegations seriously, and cannot comment on ongoing investigations, Brian.


UNGER: Richard Engel in Baghdad. Thank you very much.

For more context, we spoke to Martin Terrazas, who lives in El Paso. It was his brother, Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas, who was killed by an IED on that road in Haditha that apparently sparked the alleged killings of civilians in that town last November.

I asked Martin about what his brother had told him about the insurgency in Iraq, and how an haunting reminder of the Viet Cong in Vietnam, the enemy in Iraq is often indistinguishable from civilians.


MARTIN TERRAZAS, BROTHER KILLED IN HADITHA: They're all dressed the same, they all dress alike, they all dress the same. And you can't tell if it's woman or a man. That's what he would tell me.

He got an award from the Marines, you know, because he spotted an insurgent far away, and a little child was next to that insurgent hiding the weapon, trying to hide the weapons.


UNGER: Martin Terrazas, whose brother's death may have sparked the Haditha killings, had this to say about murder charges which may be levied against Marines in his brother's unit.


TERRAZAS: I hope all those charges drop, and these Marines, they go over there and do their job, you know, protecting our country, and they come back, and now we want to face those kind of charges? I mean, I don't get it. I believe the Marine Corps would, you know, investigate and hopefully do the right thing.


O'DONNELL: Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas is now inextricably linked with what happened in Haditha. I asked his brother Martin how he'd like to see his brother remembered.


TERRAZAS: As a hero, Marine, and he's a hero. That's how I would describe my brother or be remembered as.


UNGER: While the military conducts its own inquiry, Congress and the White House are also promising full investigations and disclosure into exactly what happened in Haditha, undoubtedly with the political fallout from the Abu Ghraib scandal, not far from their minds.

Norah O'Donnell reports.


NORAH O'DONNELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With Marines accused of going on a shooting spree, killing about two dozen Iraqi civilians, the White House today promised full disclosure.

TONY SNOW, WHITE House PRESS SECRETARY: When this comes out, all the details will be made available to the public.

O'DONNELL: With America struggling to hold on to public support for the war, the news of Marines killing civilians could be devastating.

GEN. PETER PACE, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: The initial indications are that this is not something that we're going to be proud of, and it could be damaging, for sure.

O'DONNELL: Congressman John Murtha, a former Marine, has said the scandal is worse than Abu Ghraib.

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), ILLINOIS: Who covered this up? Who is trying to cover this thing up? When something like this happens, you have to get it out in the open. You have to take action.

O'DONNELL: Republican Senator John Warner said there will be hearings on Capitol Hill.

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: There's a direct conflict between the findings of the investigation team, that is, the on-scene investigation team, and what was reported by the Iraqi citizens themselves.

O'DONNELL (on camera): Investigators are focused on about a dozen enlisted Marines, and charges could be brought soon in what may be the ugliest incident of the Iraq war.

(voice-over): In fact, some are now calling Haditha Iraq's My Lai massacre, the 1968 mass murder during the Vietnam War, when an Army platoon led by Lieutenant William Calley killed some 500 Vietnamese civilians.

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Combat is brutal. We've always known we had 1, 2, 3, 5 percent of our troops that could snap under pressure.

O'DONNELL: Raising the possibility that the stress of fighting a violent and unpopular war has hurt not only Iraqis, but the greater cause America is fighting for.

For Countdown, I'm Norah O'Donnell in Washington.


UNGER: It's not just civilians and soldiers on the front lines. This has been one of the most deadly conflicts for journalists since World War II, more than 70 killed. The latest casualties, a CBS news team, two journalist killed, a third in critical condition.

As our correspondent Jim Maceda reports from Baghdad, it's another horrifying reminder of the singular danger of covering this war in Iraq.


JIM MACEDA, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Transferred today to the U.S. military's largest hospital abroad, CBS correspondent Kimberly Dozier remained in stable but critical condition, according to U.S. doctors in Landstuhl, Germany.

COL. BRYAN GAMBLE, LANDSTUHL HOSPITAL COMMANDER: Right now, she's doing as well as can be expected.

MACEDA: But Dozier's camera crew, Britain's Paul Douglas and Jim Brolan, were killed by the same roadside bomb while embedded with the U.S. Army in Baghdad. And it underscores yet again the danger journalists face here on a daily basis, even the most seasoned and cautious, like Dozier.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And she was wearing all her gear, and she was doing what she always does.

MACEDA: According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 71 journalists have died covering the war in Iraq, surpassing the number killed in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, three quarters of them Iraqis, who often can't afford expensive, around-the-clock protection.

LINDA MASON, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CBS NEWS: Journalists are getting out and trying to report as much as they can, but it's with a lot of constraints.

MACEDA: In the early days, we moved freely and usually away from the U.S. military who were the target. Over time, reporters came under attack by suicide bombers or kidnappers, and the military embed became the safer option.

But as NBC's Richard Engel found out during an ambush in Mosul, or when a roadside bomb just missed NBC News reporter Mike Boettcher's Humvee on patrol south of Baghdad, there are no safe ways to cover Iraq.

MIKE BOETTCHER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: They were watching us the whole time. And when we were standing in the right place, they hit the button.

MACEDA: Even the standuppers, those pieces to camera where you see us talking to you, have become exercises in survival.

(on camera): Going out beyond the walls of your compound exposes you to attack, but just being outdoors is dangerous. There could be snipers, or mortar rounds, or rockets. So we wear our body armor to protect us even on our compound.

(voice-over): The danger is constant, but worse for Iraqis without armor or security consultants. That's the story Dozier, Douglas, and Brolan risked all to bring home every day.

Jim Maceda, NBC News, Baghdad.


UNGER: And Republicans embrace a Democrat on Capitol Hill. The outrage over the FBI raid. We'll talk to Congressman Barney Frank, who says, Why shouldn't members of Congress be treated like any other American citizen?

And Al Gore wants to do something admirable, like save the planet. And what do critics call him? Hitler. The swift-boating of Al Gore, already in full swing.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


UNGER: Who knew that congressional hearings could sound like a convention seminar for law-and-order junkies? At Tuesday morning's session, that we had been thinking of merely as the Jefferson raid hearings, came, in fact, with the dramatic billing, "Reckless Justice: Did the Saturday Night Raid of Congress Trample the Constitution?"

Our fourth story on the Countdown, the William Jefferson corruption investigation just keeps getting more dramatic. What began with the discovery that the Louisiana Democrat kept a wad of $90,000 stashed in his home freezer has also brought us a rare show of bipartisanship from lawmakers claiming to be outraged that the FBI deigned to search a congressman's office, for the first time in the history of the Republic.


REP. JOHN CONYERS (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Ten days after the fact, we have yet to be told why the pending subpoena against a member could not have been enforced consistent with the law.

REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER (R), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think we want to make sure that when the next congressman is investigated for illegal activity, that the procedure done by the Justice Department is right.

Help the Justice Department get it right next time, because they didn't get it right this time.


UNGER: Now, one Democratic congressman, Barney Frank of Massachusetts, breaking ranks to defend the FBI's search of Congressman Jefferson's office.

Congressman Frank, thank you so much for joining us.


UNGER: Thank you for your time.

Any irony here to the fact that many Republicans in the House seem to be just fine with the warrantless wiretapping of average citizens, and yet when it comes to the warranted search of a congressman's office, not so much?

FRANK: Oh, I would say there is more irony here than in the collected works of George Bernard Shaw.

Here you have a Republican Congress which has been enthusiastic about the disregard of any kind of reasonable strength on law enforcement for almost everybody in the country, and now they overreact when it's a member of Congress.

To put it very tersely, they have generally, the Republicans in particular, approved of warrantless intrusions into the privacy of average citizens. That is, they've said it's OK to go in and get into what people read in the libraries or what they've said on the phone without a warrant.

Here, a warrant issued. So we ought to be very clear, this is not a unilateral executive decision to do it. A judge issued a warrant. And I must say, having seen the evidence, I don't know what the ultimate answer is, guilt or innocence, and that's to be decided later, if, in fact, there's a trial. And there hasn't even been an indictment.

But it does seem to me that based on what we saw, there was sufficient basis for a warrant. This was not an imprudently granted warrant. And the notion that we would object when a search is conducted of one of our officers pursuant to a warrant, when people don't conduct when there are searches without warrants of average citizens, yes, that's pretty ironic.

UNGER: It should be noted here that for nine months, Jefferson did not respond to a subpoena for the documents. Now, if some of your colleagues clearly do not like the FBI getting a warrant to search the office of a member being investigated for illegal activity, what are they suggesting be done instead?

FRANK: Well, you'll have to ask them. I sometimes have a hard time explaining what I'm doing. I never am able to explain what other people are doing.

UNGER: Do you think that some of your colleagues might actually feel that legal protections, or their legal protections are superior to those of the average citizen or is it just that the (INAUDIBLE)...

FRANK: Apparently, and I'm disappointed by that. Look, there is a phrase in the Constitution that says for what we say in speech or debate, we shouldn't be made to answer elsewhere. That frankly comes from really Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. They interfered with parliament when it was first starting.

I understand that. What that means is, I can get up on the floor of the House, actually, under the rules of the House, I can get up on the floor of the House and say bad things about anybody in America, even if they're not true, and not be held accountable. But I can't even tell the truth about one of my colleagues.

But, yes, I do think it's right that we shouldn't be subjected to libel laws and slander laws. There ought to be free debate. But to extend that, that's what they're saying, that the phrase that says you shouldn't have to answer anywhere else, i.e., in court, for anything you say in a speech or debate, that somehow gives us special legal protections for searching our offices doesn't make any sense to me. It's the speech and debate clause. And I got to tell you, my office has never made a speech.

UNGER: The - Congressman, the drama's been ratcheted up a bit too. Why do you think the president has stepped into this mess, putting himself at direct odds with his own attorney general?

FRANK: Of course, he's in serious difficulty with his congressional party. He has had a very good five years from the Republican Congress, indeed, and this is part of the irony of what we were talking about. The Republicans in Congress during the past five years, because of their ideological affinity and their partisanship, have done virtually no oversight. And that's really unprecedented in America, even in the past.

Republicans looked at Republican presidents. Democratic Congress looked at Democratic presidents. This group has done no oversight. And that seemed to work for them politically. Recently, they've gotten into political trouble. And there are Republicans angry at the president over immigration, they're angry over some other issues.

And I think the president feared that he was about to lose control, or even a significant amount of influence with the Republican Party in Congress. So the Republican leadership basically said to him, If you want to continue to have our support on other issues, you better (INAUDIBLE), particularly the case where the House got so involved.

Remember, the president's got a serious problem trying to deal with immigration. An immigration bill went through the Senate, in which a majority of the Republican senators voted no. George Bush feels he has to do something concrete about immigration. As of now, he's got a Republican Party in the House that's overwhelmingly against what he says he wants to do.

I think, frankly, he was afraid of further exacerbating that, and looking impotent for a couple years. So he threw the FBI over the side.

UNGER: Well, shat is going to happen in 45 days' time? There is a freeze on this evidence at the moment. But what is going to happen? Will all be forgiven or forgotten? Or where does this pick up (INAUDIBLE)...

FRANK: I would hope not. Now, let me say, look, there are things in my office that constituents have written that ought to be kept private, and it is certainly true that that's the case. But, you know, that's true against of every citizen. If you are a citizen, and a warrant is issued by a judge, as I said, in this case, the warrant seemed to me to be prudently issued, and the law enforcement people search your papers, yes, there are things that they're going to see that shouldn't be revealed, and if they ever reveal any of them, they should be punished.

So the normal rules should apply. But we shouldn't have any special rules. I would hope, at the end of the 45 days, the president would decide to treat any member of Congress like any other citizen in this regard.

UNGER: Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, thank you so much for sharing your time with us.

A raid of a much different variety when the worlds of bees and humans collide. It can't be a pretty beginning to Oddball.

And the end of the search for Jimmy Hoffa. The digging may be over, but the feds tell the Mob they're not off the hook.

Details ahead on Countdown.


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

And once again, we pause our Countdown for the day's real news for a brief segment of stupid news, stupid video, and stupid criminals.

Let's play Oddball.

We begin in Oklahoma City for another episode of Help, there's a crapload of bees on my house. Homeowner Joe Bush says he knew he shouldn't have painted the house with sugar water. But who could have expected this? The swarm moved in sometime last week, and doesn't appear to be ready to leave just yet. And Joe Bush finds himself kicked out by a woman yet again.

JOE BUSH: Somewhere in my house, there's a queen bee, and there's many others trying to cluster around her. So that's kind of unsettling for me.

UNGER: And to Arlington, Texas, now, for some good old-fashioned convenience store security video. Now, the guy in the hat there is demanding money from the register, but little does he know the man behind the counter is former minor league slugging champ Merrill Hess (ph). OK, not really, but you get the picture. One swing, and that guy is out of here. Thank you. Come again.

The robber escaped and is still on the loose. Police are looking for a man average height, average build, favoring his right arm, and kind of whimpering a lot.

And finally, to Berlin, where Spaniard Momen Compallo (ph) has been named Super Memory Dude of all time, or something like that. Compallo won the big competition by memorizing a 16-digit number in less than half a second Monday. It's a new world record to add to his collection, which includes memorizing a string of more than 23,000 words, and some other things I can't quite recall.

Ah, but can this man match wits with Al Gore as the former VP relaunches his campaign to save the world from global warming? His critics decide to ignore the science and attack Al Gore.

And what's up with this picture? Now, this, there is real scientific debate over it. No manufactured controversy. This is an alien in a duck's stomach.

Those stories ahead.

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

Number three, Sergeant Howard Sawyers of the Elkhorn, Wisconsin, sheriff's department. He's been named the world champion of doughnut-eating cops after a hard-fought competition in Illinois. Sawyers ate 13 doughnuts in three minutes to win the prize, a brand-new gun and a street survival training seminars. Survival tip number one, stop eating so many doughnuts.

Number two, Oleg Blokhin, coach of the Ukrainian national soccer team, he's offered an incentive for his players to win at the upcoming World Cup tournament. Reach the semifinals, and they can have one night with their wives or girlfriends. Ah, but if they lose, probably some mild punishment, like, you'll never see your families again.

And number one, the city of Ottawa, Canada, officials are apologizing over their new don't smoke pot and drive campaign, which includes billboards reading, "Don't drive high," in five languages. The problem is, the Arabic version is written backwards and translates to something completely different. Unless you're already high, in which case it makes perfect sense, or no sense.


UNGER: Third Reich analogies are the nuclear bombs of oratory, rhetorical, or literary devices. They obliterate any logic or reason within miles and the hurler of the Hitler bomb almost always looks worse than the intended recipient of the blast. "Seinfeld's" soup Nazi gets the only waver. The latest target of the Hitler comparison, Al Gore and his global warming film. And anyone who has a beef with it should probably base their criticism on the science and not the mindset of old Adolf. In our third story on the Countdown the swift boating of Al Gore. The former vice president's wakeup call on climate change, leading to some unfortunate analogies and a debate that seems lacking in substance. The documentary itself, "An Inconvenient Truth" making an impressive debut at the box office raking in an average of just over $70,000 per screening over the holiday weekend. The No. 1 film "X-Men III" averaging less than half of that. As a result the counter attacks beginning in earnest. Meteorologist Bill Gray making little mention of the weather in his rebuttal. Quote, "Gore believed in global warming almost as much as Hitler believed there was something wrong with the Jews." Which doesn't even make sense.

Then there's the pundit who compared the Gore movie to Joseph Goebbels films about Nazi, Germany. The FOX News analyst who said that global warming was bogus and dreamed up by environmentalists to stop economic development. And in true swift boat fashion, the campaign-style attacked ads produced by a conservative think tank that is funded largely by the energy industry.


ANNOUNCER: There's something in these pictures you can't see. It's essential to life. You breathe it out, plants breathe it in. It comes from animal life, the oceans, the earth and the fuels we find in it. It's called carbon dioxide, CO2, the fuels that produce it have freed us from the world of back-breaking labor, lighting up our lives, allowing us to create and move the things we need, the people we love. Now some politicians want to label carbon dioxide a pollutant. Imagine if they succeed. What would our lives be like then? Carbon dioxide. They call it pollution. We call it life.


UNGER: Time now to suspend this lesson on photosynthesis for a closer look at the politics involved here with the White House correspondent for the "new York Daily News" Ken Bazinet.

Thank you for joining us.

KEN BAZINET, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Hi Brian. Good evening.

UNGER: For five years now, Al Gore has been, you know, little more than a political punch line at times. Why go to all this trouble of attacking him now? I mean, are conservatives legitimately scared of a Gore comeback here?

BAZINET: I don't necessarily think they are scared of a Gore comeback, but I think it's the message. It's sort of a wine whose time has come, I think. In 2000, when Al Gore was talking about climate change and global warming, I don't think people by and by could state their position, articulate about how they felt about it or what it was. I think now in 2006 we're at a place were people actually do have an opinion of this. They go on the internet and want to try and find out what does climate change have to do with hurricane season, for instance. What exactly are greenhouse gases? I think the timing of this really is what's essential. I don't think it's so much the messenger as it is the message.

UNGER: It feel, though, that this is a personal attack. The politics of global warming has, of course, you know, the science has long been in dispute. Is this more personal?

BAZINET: Well, I don't think that Al Gore has sort of manufactured himself to become a candidate overnight, but I do think he can lay claim to this issue. But again, I want to get back to my - to really my first answer, they're attacking Al Gore because he's the perfect messenger. He can articulate this. I spoke with someone who attended the screening of his film, and one point that she made was that he really does a good job of simplifying things that are very complicated to, I think, the untrained mind. I think that's very dangerous. If you can say in a simple declarative sentence what the problem is, back it up with science, I think that really you have a hot potato and I think that the right is very concerned about that, potentially those folks who are on the payroll of big oil at this point, I believe.

UNGER: The swift boating of John Kerry help secured four more years of George W. Bush. Anything that it would suggest that it won't work this time?

BAZINET: Well, first of all, what ballot is he on? And you know, second of all, I think that there is probably more science to back up Al Gore's case at this point. I'm not sure that this will work to destroy Al Gore as much as it's going to cause an awful lot of people who, you know, quite frankly he wasn't on their radar screens, but now will be. Any time you hammer someone, I mean, people want to know why. So, I think it's a risk move and I think that's why you don't necessarily see so-called mainstream republicans jumping in on this, but rather sort of the fractured right at this point.

UNGER: Big box office does not mean a film like this will have any real lasting impact at the ballot box, "Fahrenheit 9/11" being a recent example of that. Is it too soon to be hailing the success of "An Inconvenient Truth?"

BAZINET: I think - I think it's not necessarily too soon to hail it, but I think that you can measure it, both dollars and cents wise, people, obviously, showing up at the theaters. But also, let's see whether or not he's able to, you know, get people talking. If he's able to galvanize, for instance, part of the true left, I mean, that can work to the advantage, obviously, of those democrats, those progressives who are on the ballot this fall. So I think, yes, the jury's out, but we're already talking about this.

UNGER: Ken Bazinet, thank you very much for joining us.

BAZINET: My pleasure.

UNGER: There is so much to fear in the overwhelming amount of scientific evidence, if it is correct and global warming goes unchecked, fiercer hurricanes, flood and droughts, among them, but until then, a more immediate sign that global warming may be taking its toll and it may make you itch. Our correspondent is Kevin Corke.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm itchy and I want to go home!

KEVIN CORKE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Painful, itchy, impossible to scratch.

One touch of poison ivy's dreaded leaves can leave you with a bad case of the summertime blues. And a new study suggests that poison ivy is a growing problem, literally. Researchers theorize that carbon dioxide from cars, clear cutting, even cattle, is leading to a greenhouse effect with poison plants reaping bigger harvests, producing three times the chemical that makes your skin itch.

FRANCIS GOUIN, HORTICULTURIST: Due to the increase in carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, many plants are going to increase in growth, not only poison ivy.

CORKE (on camera): But more than 350 reported cases every year, poison ivy is one of the most widely reported ailments to poison control centers throughout the country. And experts say if this recent study is accurate, that number could rise significantly in the years to come.

(voice-over): Some tips for avoiding poison ivy? Learn to spot it. As the scouts say, "leaves of three let it be." Look for three pointed and glossy leaflets. Wear sleeves to cut down on possible exposure. Use a protective cream like Ivy Block or Hydropill. Wash your hands and clothes, especially if you've been walking trails. And don't forget to hose down the dog. The oil from the plant can get on your pooch's fur and then right back to you. In the meantime, getting back to nature now could come at an increasingly unpleasant price.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Put it right on the red part.

Kevin Corke, NBC News, Washington.


UNGER: The mysteries of Jimmy Hoffa still hidden at Hidden Dreams Farms. The dreams of investigators in solving the case? Shattered.

And Pitt and Jolie pay the tab for having Namibia keep a secret. It's not as expensive as you would think. Details head but first time for Countdown's "Top 3 Sound Bites" of this day.


ANDREW MORBITZER, CAUGHT BARRY'S BALL: I heard the roar and I figured it's to be the homerun, but it hadn't connected yet that it was Barry Bonds and I looked up and I saw these hands reaching in the air and I just saw the ball kind of come through the hands and I put my right hand up and I just - it just like came into my hand.

MEGAN MORBITZER, WIFE OF BARRY'S BALL CATCHER: I was like wish my husband was here. I can't believe he's down getting me peanuts and a beer.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Watch out. Class is in session at the Family Martial Art Center in Aurora. But getting a black belt requires more than just perfect punches and kicks. Students must also learn to get a kick out of kindness.

Picked up the mail, said please and thank you, forgave my dog for eating my cookies.

CRAIG CANNON, DENTAL BRIDGE BROKE ON TV: I just hope a tour will help them change the face of the fab - farmer's market. Excuse me, Donna, go ahead. Donna, this is the funniest thing, I'm going to have to duck out of here.


CANNON: I have a bridge that has fallen out, so Dr. Stringfellow, get ready.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, call the dentists.

CANNON: Goodbye folks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Goodnight Craig thanks for being here.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How's that for entertainment, folks?



UNGER: It's mystery night on Countdown. The Hoffa case remains in the unsolved file and the search for life in outer space. Did an earthling duckling find it then eat it? The x-ray raising eyebrows around the world and cash on e-Bay. That's next, this is Countdown.


UNGER: Well, the search for the missing teamster's leader is over. An enduring American mystery is preserved until someone gets an itchy digging finger again. The exhaustive and pricey two-week dig that involved 30 FBI special agents and ultimately demolition of a barn that was in the way of unearthing Jimmy Hoffa has sparked criticism of how taxpayer money is being spent in searching for a man who disappeared more than three decades ago. Our No. 2 story on the Countdown, Jimmy Hoffa is still missing and the FBI is not saying anything about the cost of the futile excavation project. But the project won't end until they pay for a new barn. When we say they, we mean you, your tax dollars. David Dietz (ph) from our Detroit affiliate WDIV has the story.


DAVID DIETZ, WDIV REPORTER: Day 13, and the search for Jimmy Hoffa is officially over.

JUDY CHILEN, FBI: After a thorough and comprehensive search, no remains of Mr. Hoffa have been located.

DIETZ: At times more than 25 agents scouring an 89-acre Milford township horse farm, locking in on a 4,700 square foot barn, tearing it down and digging beneath it for five days, finding absolutely nothing relating to the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. Still, the FBI believes Hoffa was buried here, suggesting he was moved or that they just can't find him.

QUESTION: What makes you believe that?

CHILEN: Just the information that we've corroborated and the information we have gathered that was in the search warrant affidavit.

DIETZ: The tip came from Donavan Wells, a federal prisoner looking for a get out of jail free card. He passed a lie detector test, but if he was telling the truth, it did not lead to a major discovery. Almost two weeks and hundreds of thousands of dollars later, Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance remains a mystery.

CHILEN: We do not put a price tag on kidnappings, murder investigations, as we treat human life on an equal basis. We don't not make judgments on the victims of crimes, we do our job.


UNGER: And on to our roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, "Keeping Tabs." And a gift marking the arrival of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's baby. The couple has donated $300,000 for maternity equipment in Namibia where their daughter Shiloh was born on Sunday. The money will be used to treat babies at state-run hospitals in two different towns there. The couple said in a statement, quote, "We want to contribute to Namibia and the people who have been so gracious to us at this time." Brangelina also gave $15,000 to a school and community center that they recently visited. The couple plans to remain in Namibia while Miss Jolie recovers. Meanwhile, baby Shiloh has been offered Namibian citizenship.

In the continuing Countdown OB-GUY report, it's a boy this time and finally a Hollywood baby with kind of a relatable name. Actor Mira Sorvino and 14 years her junior husband Chris Backus welcome their bundle of joy and to demonstrate that some in Hollywood resemble human parents in the rest of the county, they named their newborn Johnny - not Moses, Apple, Shiloh, or Suri, just plain old Johnny.

To more celebrity baby news and Halle Berry who is talking adoption.

First there was Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman who adopted two children. Sharon Stone adopted a boy from Texas last year whom she named Rhone, and the world knows about Angelina's Jolie's passion for adoption. In no time Halle Berry is planning on following in the footsteps of her acting colleagues. During an interview with "Extra" the Oscar-winning actress expressed her desire to become a mom, saying, quote, "I will adopt if it doesn't happen for me naturally. I will definitely adopt. And I probably will adopt even if it does happen naturally." The "X-Men" star is dating Canadian model Gabriel Aubry.

Is there intelligent life in outer space? And if so, why was it consumed by a duck who presumably came back to earth after its own space flight? The only evidence is this shaking x-ray. That's ahead on Countdown.


UNGER: It came from outer space. That of course will be the headline when an intergalactic spaceship finally plops itself down in major city in broad daylight for everyone to see and the aliens will do one of those mind melds with us and explain everything and we will know once and for all we are not alone in the universe. But until then mankind has to settle for signs are not so easily verified like decades of UFO sightings, dozens of claims about alien abduction and even those adorable crop circles in fields of unsuspecting farmers. And now in our No. 1 story on the Countdown, the head of an alien in the stomach of a duck.

It was an adult male mallard with a broken wing, the folk folks from the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Cordelia, California tried to save it. They took an x-ray and what they saw was this: In the duck's stomach the image of an alien's head. Not a very happy alien, either. The duck eventually died so an autopsy was performed. But the little ET had mysteriously disappeared. The x-ray is on eBay and bidding brisk. All proceedings will go to the International Bird Rescue Research Center and joining me now the executive director of that organization, Jay Holcomb.

Thank you for your time, sir.


UNGER: So, who was the first to spot this little alien?

HOLCOMB: Oh, one of our employees, Marie Travers, just did a routine x-ray of this bird that was injured. We see them all the time. And then she kind of kept saying there's something looking out at me and there was this little face and we all started laughing about it and everybody came to look and it was undeniable, there was an alien-looking face in it.

UNGER: So there was no - no eureka! I found a alien - or come quick?


UNGER: Can you remember the exact words?

HOLCOMB: Yeah, it was just like, there's an alien in the duck, if you'd like to see it. I think it was something like that. Marie is pretty understated. We thought it was maybe, you know, Brangelina's baby or something like that or somebody did a joke or the duck ate something, but it turns out it just was this image that was very sharp and clear, which is the reason we kind of went on with it.

UNGER: And no one is too jaded to not look and alien in a duck. They go. They go and see.

HOLCOMB: Yeah, for sure.

UNGER: Later you did an autopsy and there was no alien. Where did it go? I mean, that is kind of a mystery, right?

HOLCOMB: Yeah, well the mystery is, you know, we're really practical people so we think, our first thought is well, what's making that image, if there's really not an alien, and we thought maybe it actually swallowed a toy or something like that, so when we looked, there was some food in its stomach and really nothing else. So the veterinarians believe maybe it was food or air or intestines, you know, or you can decide for yourself what you think it was.

UNGER: Now I know you and your employees have all had a little fun with this, too. But honestly, what are the possibilities here? How do you explain the image?

HOLCOMB: Well, explain it, as we think, there was something in the bird's stomach or the way the intestines were line up as the bird was laying on the - they lay on a plate while they're being x-rayed, so we think that's probably the most practical answer.

UNGER: Now, any chance that the alien enter the bird and caused it to crash? Any evidence of, you know, dare I say, foul play?

HOLCOMB: Yeah. You said it.

UNGER: Thank you.

HOLCOMB: There - well, there's of that, but the bird did have injured wings, so you know, something made it crash.

UNGER: What about this? I mean, is it actually a duck from outer space?


UNGER: It is.

HOLCOMB: Yeah, I think it probably is, but I don't think - I don't really have any way to prove it, but you know, we kind of thought, well, the world should see this, there's a face coming out of a duck, what a perfect bird to have that happen, so.

UNGER: And, any connection, you think, to the crop circles discovered in your area over the past three years? You know, do you think this x-ray could be the signal for the rest of them to sort of come on down to earth?

HOLCOMB: Well that was, you know, one of the first things I said. Immediately I told everybody, you know, those crop circles here, and I got ride from a cab driver a few years ago that told me he just took someone into the fields to leave him to have - be picked up a spaceship. And that was right by our center too, so I figure there might be a connection with all of it.

UNGER: Why, then, did you decide to sell the x-ray on e-Bay?

HOLCOMB: Well, you know, when we saw the picture we thought it was funny and we shared it with everybody and I sent it to our public relations director, Karen Benzel (ph), who can make anything work, and she has an incredible mind so I gave it to her and she said, you know, do you remember the piece of toast with cheese on it that has the image of the Madonna that sold for a lot of money on e-Bay? And I went, oh yeah, you're right. She goes, there's people that might like this stuff, it's a pretty clear image, so put it in her hands and she really made it happen. She sent it out to the media and got everybody interested and it just took off more than we ever expected.

UNGER: What are we talking here in terms of cash being raised? How high has the bidding gone so far?

HOLCOMB: Oh, I think we're at - the last I know it was around $9,000 and, but I don't have any idea of where it might go. We were surprised at that.

UNGER: And you will be selling t-shirts, no doubt? Or coffee mugs or something like that?

HOLCOMB: Oh yeah, there's t-shirts already on the web on Cafe Press and you can go on our website and get to it.

UNGER: OK. Well, Jay Holcomb of the International Bird Rescue Research Center, many thanks for helping us out and try to make sense of all of this.

That's it for the Tuesday edition of Countdown. I'm Brian Unger for Keith Olbermann. Keith will make his triumphant return tomorrow. Until then our MSNBC coverage continues with the view from Scarborough Country. Good evening, Joe.


Monday, May 29, 2006

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for May 29

Guest: Michael Musto

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

Remembering the war dead as war still rages. Horrible reminders in Iraq. Car bombs, dozens killed, including a soldier and members of CBS News. Horrible reminders in Afghanistan. A car accident with U.S. forces sparks violent riots in the streets.

And the unselfish service of the servicemen.


PC. STEVEN CLARK, U.S. ARMY: There's nothing that's going to keep me from doing my job.


UNGER: Three Purple Hearts later, why Army Specialist Steven Clark still decides to keep going back to Iraq.

The waiting game is over. Barry Bonds finally passes Ruth. But did divine intervention knock his big moment off the radio?

And we can exhale for the Brangelina baby. Shiloh has arrived, and is no doubt already cracking under the pressure of being the spawn of the hottest humans alive.

And the festival of all festivals, the event of all events, the Great Cheese Roll. And luckily, our cameras are there.

All that and more, now on Countdown.

Good evening. I'm Brian Unger, filling in for Keith Olbermann.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, on a day of ceremony that demonstrates America's resolve for ideals like liberty, freedom, and sacrifice, conditions on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan remind us, perhaps more vividly, the stark reality of a nation at war and the lives taken by it.

As President Bush laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery and called on the nation to remember those who lost their lives defending this country, came news of another horrific attack on U.S. troops in Iraq, a suicide bomber killing one American soldier and two CBS journalists, a third journalist left fighting for her life.

And all this on a day where a dozen different attacks left nearly 50 other people dead in that country, and when the worst riots since 2001 broke out in Afghanistan.

More on that and the progress on the war on terror this Memorial Day in a moment.

First, our correspondent in Baghdad is Richard Engel. Richard?


RICHARD ENGEL, MSNBC MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT: Brian, U.S. military officials say the CBS crew was on patrol with the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division here in Baghdad. The patrol came to a stop. The crew got out to film. And that's when they were attacked by a suicide car bomb.

(voice-over): It was 11:00 a.m. this morning when the CBS crew was filming in this square in central Baghdad. A suicide bomber slammed into their patrol. Moments later, cameraman Paul Douglas, sound engineer James Brolan, and an American soldier were dead.

Douglas was a CBS veteran with experience in war zones in Afghanistan, Rwanda, and Bosnia. Friends said he was gentle and fearless, a big bear of a guy. Tonight, soundman Brolan's family described the father of two as the "best dad, husband, and mate to be with in a tight spot."

Correspondent Kimberly Dozier was critically injured by shrapnel. Dozier has been CBS's primary correspondent in Iraq for three years. Her brother had worried she was spending too much time in Iraq.

MICHAEL DOZIER, BROTHER: She's not careless about what she does. She is quite cautious. But you always run that risk. And it's just - it was just her time.

ENGEL: In a statement, CBS said Dozier was believed to have been wearing protective equipment and underwent surgery at a U.S. military hospital in Baghdad.

BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: These people went there to tell this story, so we would have this story, and we would know what was going on. And it's very dangerous business. This is one of the most dangerous wars for journalists that we've ever fought.

ENGEL: But reporters were just a few of the victims today. It was the deadliest day in Baghdad since a new government was sworn in a week ago, with more than 12 attacks. The victims, university students, Iraqi soldiers, passengers on a bus, and worshipers outside a mosque.

On U.S. military bases, American troops commemorated Memorial Day as they learned that a U.S. soldier was killed alongside the CBS crew.

ENGEL: Dozier's family said tonight, she has already undergone two operations, and that preparations are underway to evacuate her to a U.S. military hospital in Germany, Brian.


UNGER: Richard Engel in Baghdad. Thank you.

Now to Afghanistan, where a traffic accident involving American soldiers sparked a citywide riot in the capital, Kabul, in a rampage that's left at least eight people dead, dozens injured.

Our correspondent is Keith Miller.


KEITH MILLER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. soldiers fired into the air to warn off an angry, stone-throwing mob. Moments earlier, a cargo truck in a U.S. military convoy lost control, smashing into cars stuck in traffic, killing three people, according to police, and injuring 16.

TOM COLLINS, U.S. MILITARY SPOKESMAN: There are indications that at least one coalition military vehicle fired warning shots over the crowd.

MILLER: Rumors that Americans were firing on civilians inflamed the crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are killing people. Their (INAUDIBLE) break our hearts.

MILLER: And what started as a protest degenerated into a riot. Police used automatic weapons to try and disperse thousands of people ransacking downtown Kabul. The office of CARE International was set on fire.

In all, eight people were reported killed, and more than 100 injured. A breakaway group tried to march on the U.S. embassy chanting, "Death to America."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want America out of this country. We hate America.

MILLER: Inside the embassy, staff were moved to a safe zone.

President Hamid Karzai went on national television tonight, calling the rioters agitators.

AYESHA KHAN, CHATHAM HOUSE ASSOCIATE FELLOW: That it was spontaneous and it was so violent is perplexing, but it's also a wakeup call. I mean, it needs to be taken seriously.

MILLER (on camera): Tonight, Afghan troops backed up by NATO are patrolling the capital, and an overnight curfew has been declared to help to maintain calm.

Keith Miller, NBC News, London.


UNGER: And while U.S. officials try and figure out what happened in Afghanistan, Congress is launching an investigation into an alleged attack by civilians by U.S. Marines in Iraq.

After Marine Lance Corporal Miguel Tarantez (ph) was killed by a roadside bomb in the town of Haditha in November 2005, fellow Marines reportedly shot between 15 and 24 civilians, including women and children. The Pentagon is still investigating whether there was any wrongdoing, but some in Congress want to know why it took so long for the incident to come to light.

Among the most vocal, Congressman John Murtha, who told ABC News that the attack and, more importantly, the apparent coverup needs to be investigated immediately.


REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), ILLINOIS: There's no question about what

happened. And the problem is, who covered it up, and why did they cover it

up? Why did they wait so long? This has been six months since this

happened. It's very simple, they went out and the next day, they knew

there was something wrong. Two or three days later, they decided that this

that these people were murdered.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: So who do you blame for the coverup?

MURTHA: Well, that's what we're trying to figure out. We don't know how far it goes. I mean, it goes up right up the chain of command, right up to General Pace. When did he know about it? Did he order the coverup? Who ordered the coverup? I'm sure he didn't, but what - who said, We're not going to publicize this thing, we're not even going to investigate it? Until March, there was no serious investigation.


UNGER: I'm joined now by retired Army colonel Jack Jacobs.

Thank you, sir, for joining us, and thank you for your service.

COL. JACK JACOBS (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Thank you.

UNGER: (INAUDIBLE) should say that.

This is our fourth Memorial Day in this, the war on terror, since we liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban, since our invasion of Iraq. And this is also a Memorial Day that feels very different from some of the others, even from the one that we had last year.

Am I wrong in presuming that, that it feels different, or is there really something else happening here?

JACOBS: No, I think it both feels different, and there is something else happening here. You know, last year at this time, we'd been in Iraq, what, two years or so, and now we're three years. That's 50 percent longer.

There's been huge amounts of public opprobrium heaped on the administration, and specifically the secretary of defense. That hasn't happened before. The president of the United States himself has said that we're going to draw down, we're not leaving tomorrow, but we're eventually going to come home, that it's the Iraqis' war now, and they're going to have to get with the program.

And this is an election year. President's own party is now starting to distance themselves from him in an attempt to make sure that they don't get tainted with Iraq. Yes, it's very much different this year than last year.

UNGER: But do these images that we see, and we have seen a lot of unrest today, we have seen images from - or mass casualties coming out of Iraq, and we have seen a lot of instability in Afghanistan. We've seen journalists die from CBS News, a couple of journalists from the Associated Press were beaten. We have congressional investigations into what has occurred in - at Haditha.

Is it that we're drawing more vivid images, starker images, from this war, or is it merely political, that the election in November is forcing us to look at the war in a different way?

JACOBS: Well, I think it's a little of both. You know, war is really rotten, and no amount of covering it up is going to make it any better than it really is. It's a surreal exercise, to say the least.

I think we're very much focused on what's happening there now, much more than we were before. I think the realization that, in fact, the original objectives are not going to be achieved, we're going to have to be satisfied with something significantly less than ultimate victory, the victory that the president declared shortly after the statute came down.

I think all that is contributing to our focusing on different kinds of things about the war, the nuts and bolts of the war, much more than we did earlier.

UNGER: And is the nuts and the bolts of this war, are they making us feel like there is progress being made, or are we more uneasy about the hope of getting out, (INAUDIBLE)...

JACOBS: Well, I think they're not mutually exclusive. There is a lot of progress being made, and in a lot of places, particularly up in the north, and even down in the south, where there had been some problems with the Brits in Basra and so on. There's a great deal of progress being made.

The problem areas are still the Sunni triangle. That doesn't make it any better. But most of the country's in fairly good shape and getting better.

Having said all that, the way to win the war was to do it much differently than we did it. And so we're - that is, to conduct a proper counterguerrilla campaign, and we knew exactly how to do it, but we weren't willing to commit the forces to do it. And now we're going to have to be satisfied with something significantly less than victory.

It's a bitter pill, but we're going to have to swallow it. We're going to have to do the best we can and make sure that the Iraqis can do the best they can. But the end of the day, the administration itself has already said that we're going home.

UNGER: Let me ask you something, and you've listened and seen a lot of profiles of soldiers who are serving in what are some of the second and third and fourth tours here. And while we remember their (INAUDIBLE) -

(INAUDIBLE) we're - we admire their service, and we remember the fallen, are troops being overstretched here? There is an underlying story that goes with those third and fourth tours. And in association, are we seeing people - the American public getting tired of these images and growing tired?

JACOBS: Oh, I think we're tired of the images. I mean, we're tired of the unsatisfactory nature of the employment of the force. I think a lot of people, both politicians and laypeople, have come to the conclusion that we squandered the resource that is our force in an attempt to do something on the cheap. And that's exactly what's happened.

Overstretched? You bet we're overstretched. About 40 to 45 percent of the force over there in Iraq are Reserve and Guard. This is not what they were designed to do. We've got commitments in dozens and dozens of countries around the globe. It's extremely difficult to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to do the things we need to do in other places as well.

We have a very small force that's - you know, it's 1.6 million, it's not very many, supporting a country, keeping free a country of almost 300 million people. You can't do it that way. That's doing it on the cheap. And we're paying the price for that.

And those - I think it grinds the public down. I think we are tired of seeing our force used in that fashion. And that's contributed in a major way to the disaffection that you see, not only among laypeople, but also inside the service.

UNGER: It's a day of remembrance and a day of changing conditions on the ground that still appear very dangerous and lethal.

JACOBS: Yes, and it's not going to get any safer, I can tell you that.

UNGER: Colonel Jack Jacobs, as always, thank you so much for being with us. And again, thank you for your service.

JACOBS: You're welcome.

UNGER: From the broader story of the war to the individual acts of heroism. One soldier, three Purple Hearts, and an unflinching desire to finish the job in Iraq.

And then, the month of May brings top-notch undercover investigative work from television newsrooms across the country. We'll bring you the one story that begs to be seen by a national audience. Set your TiVo, gather your friends who are over 18 years of age. You won't forget this caught-on-tape extravaganza.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


UNGER: There is no question that Memorial Day has a special resonance when the country is at war. Nearly 2,500 men and women have died in Iraq. More than 18,000 Americans have been wounded there, many of them more than once.

But for one man, there is no question about continuing the fight.

In our fourth story on Countdown tonight, he is a soldier in the U.S. Army, and he has already earned three Purple Hearts. His heart and mind still in the battle.

Our correspondent is Jim Maceda.


JIM MACEDA, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Steven Clark is a 25-year-old U.S. Army specialist in counterintelligence, when he's not recovering from his latest war wound.

SPC. STEVEN CLARK, U.S. ARMY: There's nothing that's going to keep me from doing my job.

MACEDA: With three Purple Hearts - a fourth is pending - Clark has ambushed, shot by a sniper, and an insurgent gunman at point-blank range.

CLARK: The round was actually stopped by a brass badge that was in my pocket at the time.

MACEDA: He's lost a kidney and carries a grenade-full of shrapnel inside him.

CLARK: From my ankle, back of both calves, back of both thighs, my lower back, my right arm.

MACEDA: He could have taken the military option and gone home for good. But he's back for a second tour of duty, in the heart of the so-called triangle of death south of Baghdad. His commander calls him an inspiration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Courage, courage, and believing in what he does.

MACEDA: He's a hero for fellow soldiers, who still kid about keeping their distance.

SGT. NICK HAYNES, 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION: You know, it's always a joke amongst the commanders. Oh, I don't want Clark in my convoy or whatnot, but I feel pretty comfortable.

MACEDA (on camera): Clark's buddies insist he's not the cowboy type, he doesn't look for trouble or for the limelight. Things just seem to happen to Specialist Steven Clark, who is either very unlucky, or very lucky. Your call.

(voice-over): Clark says a deep faith in God and a close-knit family back in Fitzgerald, Georgia, are key to what makes him tick. Earlier this year, he was honored at his local church, and spent time with his heroes, Billy, his father, a Vietnam vet, and older brother, William, also in the service.

BILLY CLARK, STEVEN'S FATHER: It's just a miracle he's still with us.

WILLIAM CLARK, STEVEN'S BROTHER: It worries me, but - and I try and talk him out of it.

MACEDA: But they know he has a mission to complete.

STEVEN CLARK: To turn away now would be to accept failure. Me as an American, and I believe that all Americans believe you cannot accept failure.

MACEDA: No matter how many close calls it seems, or Purple Hearts.

Jim Maceda, NBC News, Mahmoudia (ph), Iraq.


UNGER: And then, of course, there are the close calls in Great Britain's Annual Freak Festival, a cheese wheel, a hill, and the burning question, who caught the cheese?

And the worldwide fascination with the baby that is Shiloh. Americans and Namibians rejoice at the coming of the child of Brad and Angelina.


UNGER: I'm Brian Unger, in for Keith Olbermann on this Memorial Day.

And while most of you are probably enjoying the last bit of a three-day weekend, we remind you that weird news never takes a day off.

And thus, neither does Oddball.

And this is what Oddball would miss if it took a day off. It's the annual festival of tumbling dairy products and compound leg fractures that is the Gloucestershire Cheese Roll. It's the English tradition, as steeped in history as it is in stupidity.

Thousands gather at Coopers Hill to watch a few dozen drunken idiots risk ever walking again to chase a big cheese wheel down a dangerous embankment for fun and prizes. And oh, what prizes. The winners get to keep the seven-pound wheel of cheese. The loser, most of them get wheelchairs.

But it's all in good fun. The important this is that fans had a chance to get drunk and see somebody really, really hurt themselves.

And now to Chicago, Hog Butcher for the World, the City with Big Shoulders and huge fat men in diapers lumbering down Michigan Avenue in broad daylight. That is sexy. It's the Big Parade of Sumos to celebrate the wrestling megatour in Chicago over the weekend. Thirteen big boys made the trip down to Water Tower Park, got weighed publicly, then all shared a good cry before heading back to the arena to pound the crap out of each other.

The tour moves on to Florida now. They'll travel by rail, each man in his very own boxcar.

And finally, to Lakinpur (ph), India, home of the Scorpion Girl. And there she is, chasing the moonlight, my Scorpion Girl. She's just 3 years old and clearly lacking any meaningful adult supervision because she's been playing with the deadly insects for months now, and everyone seems to think it's just the cutest darn thing they're ever going to see.

And you know what? They're right. Just look at her.

You get a lot of free things at the library, free books, free videos, free Internet access. But that doesn't give you free reign to pretend you're in the privacy of your own bedroom. Caught on tape, and you'll want to shower afterward.

And Barry Bonds' quest for home run history. In the stands, it was all cheers. On the radio, well, that left a whole lot to be desired.

Those stories ahead.

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

Number three, an unidentified security guard in Middletown, Pennsylvania. Officials say he was playing a Gameboy on the job and was so focused on it that he failed to notice people entering the facility. They were safety inspectors. He works at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. But, you know, I'm sure it's still very safe.

Number two, the Florida Marlins baseball team is part of a promotion for Jewish Heritage Day. They gave out T-shirts with the name and number of their player Mike Jacobs on the back. Only problem is, he's not Jewish. Jacobs says the team just assumed he was.

And number one, three unnamed burglars in Warren, Ohio. They were arrested after trying to break into a home there this weekend. At the time of their arrest, the 2-year-old son of one of the suspects was found asleep in the back seat of the car. The father told police he couldn't find a babysitter, so he brought the kid along on the caper. Well, it was a holiday weekend.


UNGER: Now, depending on how you look at it, the Cleveland Public Library system is either the best lender book library in the country or the dirtiest. A place where, in our third story on the Countdown, self-expression may have gotten a bit out of control, repeatedly. Not exactly master of his own domain at the computer, sat Mike Cooper, a library lover for sure, caught on tape enjoying the kind of activity best suited for one's own home, or locked bathroom. I'd like to warn viewers, especially my five and 6-year-old nieces to turn away from the TV. For the rest of you, I'll let correspondent Carl Monday of our Cleveland affiliate, WKYC, fill you in on all the x-rated details.


COLLEN BECKFORD, LIBRARY PATRON: And those mountains right over here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, normally you float over the water.

CARL MONDAY, WKYC REPORTER (voice-over): For 6-year-old Collen Beckford, the library is a life-long learning experience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But if you went way down, there's mountains way down under the water. Cool, huh?

MONDAY: A seemingly safe and secure environment that puts his mom at ease.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've never had any problems or any issues.

MONDAY: After all, there are security systems in place. And a security guard on duty. And a screening system to foil, what the Cleveland library says is its biggest crime, the theft of books.

MELVIN ABRAHMS, ASSISTANT SECURITY CHIEF: That's our biggest thing is people trying to take books out of here or movies.

MONDAY: But book theft may be the least of the security problems. We reviewed incident reports from libraries in Cleveland and throughout Cuyahoga County. Just the past six months, we found more than 50 cases of violence, pornography, and sex, a patron robbed at gunpoint, a man downloading and printing child porn, used condoms found on the computer room floor, teens having sex on a sink in the men's room, teens having oral sex, male fondles self while looking at a 13-year-old girl.

JOHN DUNN, LIBRARY SECURITY: We have a spectrum of problem behaves, some of which is criminal, some of it is not.

MONDAY: Former FBI agent, John Dunn, runs security at the county's library's 28 branches.

DUNN: We have, I think, all the typical ingredients that attach to having almost unlimited public access.

MONDAY: That includes public access to the computer for patrons like 23-year-old Mike Cooper.

MONDAY (on camera): You, what do you look up on the Internet?

MIKE COOPER, LIBRARY MASTURBATOR: Nothing really. Sports scores, stuff like that.

MONDAY: Sports, pornography, stuff like that?

COOPER: No. Why?

MONDAY: I don't know why. You tell me why.

COOPER: I don't look up pornography. So no.

MONDAY (voice-over): For some, pursuing the porn sites is a favorite pastime at local libraries, sometimes with young children just a few feet away, our undercover cameras and library incident reports back us up. But sometimes it's more than just looking. It's a public library all right. But it's not a place where patrons should be acting out their private fantasies. Can you think of any time when a patron sitting at a computer and watching porn and masturbating would be acceptable behavior?

DUNN: Absolutely not.

MONDAY: Criminal behavior?

DUNN: It could be, certainly, absolutely.

MONDAY (on camera): You ever perform a sexual act at the library?

COOPER: No, I have not.

MONDAY: What if I told you we have video of you performing a sexual act?

COOPER: Well, it wasn't me.

MONDAY (voice-over): We can't really show you, but that's Mike Cooper pleasuring himself watching porn at the Berea Library, just across the room from the children's section. Take our word for it, and his.

(on camera): And you just reached down and grabbed yourself and started having sex.

COOPER: I did what I - I wasn't thinking. I made a mistake.

MONDAY: So, we've seen adults having sex in the library.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god. That's horrible.

MONDAY: Based on the fact there are guys out there doing this kind of thing, you think parents ought to be a little more careful letting their kids at the library alone?

COOPER: Yeah. Yes.

MONDAY: I mean, if you were a parent, wouldn't you be afraid of a guy like you?

COOPER: I'm not a sexual predator or anything. Yeah, I would be afraid.

MONDAY (voice-over): If Mike Cooper doesn't trust himself, should we? Well, apparently the Berea Library does.

(on camera): Was he pleasuring himself when you saw him last time?


MONDAY (voice-over): Berea Library manager, Cindy Bereznay says they caught Cooper in the act a few years ago.

BEREZNAY: I told him I would have to call the police if it continued.

MONDAY: And Cooper ran out of the building.

DUNN: We want people here, we leave people alone. We do not bother people unless and until they create an issue that puts them in where they're disrupting our mission or the ability of other people to use the library or they fall afoul of our rules or policies.

MONDAY: Apparently, masturbating inside the library didn't break any rules. Cooper began returning to the library six months ago. No one stopped him.

(on camera): Why would you let a guy like that back in the library?

BEREZNAY: Well, I mean, like I said, you'd like to give people other chances.

MONDAY: But this is a guy who's performing a sexual act in a library.

I mean, why allow him back in the library?

BEREZNAY: Well, it was several years ago and I wasn't aware, I mean, that he had any criminal record or that it was continuing.

COOPER: I didn't think I was doing anything wrong at that time and now I understand that it was.

MONDAY: You didn't think having sex underneath the table at the library was wrong?

COOPER: At the time, no. Now I admit that I was wrong. There's nothing else that I can say.

MONDAY (voice-over): While Cooper's anti-social behavior should be a concern to all parents, the unemployed porn site user has his own folks to deal with now. You live with your parents?


MONDAY (on camera): What do you think they're going to think when they see this?

COOPER: They're going to kill me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't like you getting in my face either. Or my son's face.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please stop. Please.

MONDAY: But not before taking their anger out on us.

MONDAY: What is your son is doing out in a public place, exposing himself and having.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [beep], [beep], [beep]. I said get out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get the (BEEP) out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now! Do you want me to take that thing away from you?


MONDAY (voice-over): Threatening behavior, at the computer inside your neighborhood library and at the Cooper residence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if you want me to bring my god (BEEP) you son of a (BEEP), I will. And you won't (BEEP) like it.


UNGER: OK, that's Carl Monday of our Cleveland affiliate, WKYC getting the story. And Mr. Cooper hopefully getting a home computer very soon. By the way, his behavior does not reflect on all Buckeye fans, though Woody Hays did most likely roll over in his grave.

Barry Bonds got some good wood on a fastball in San Francisco. We'll bring you the complete events of Sunday's historic homer. And people of earth, rejoice, the most important celebrity baby since Suri Cruise and Moses Paltrow. So how will daddy explain the Aniston breakup to baby Shiloh? How will mommy square the Billy Bob Thornton thing? Answers ahead, but first, here are the Countdown's "Top 3 Sound Bites" of this day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it's not really on (INAUDIBLE).



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah and Jesse Murdock have a lot in common.

Not only are they both a handful for their parents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guess, it's just the lucky time of year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They also share the same birthday. Sarah turned 10-years-old today and Jesse turned six.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's sometimes annoying and sometimes mean.


(SINGING): Happy birthday to you.

RONNIE FAIRBANKS, BIRTHDAY TODAY: I'm 109 today. And the bottom line, the secret to living so long, a lot of sex and a lot of money.


UNGER: Barry Bonds' joyless quest for history, even the radio gods try to get into the act. And the joy of birth in the seclusion of Namibia. Michael Musto's celebrity analysis of the birth of the Brangelina baby.

That's next and this is Countdown


UNGER: Whether you love him or hate him, if you're a sports fan, you wanted to experience what it was like when Barry Bonds eclipsed Babe Ruth's career homerun tally. In our No. 2 story, for those of you watching the game on television Sunday, seeing homerun 715 wasn't a problem. If you were in northern California in your car at a barbecue or just lounging poolside listening to the game on the radio, well, you got a cliffhanger. With a little help from the Countdown staff, here's the way it went down on the radio as called by Dave Fleming on home of Giant's baseball KNBR 680.


DAVE FLEMING, KNBR 680 RADIO: Three and two. Finley runs, the payoff, a swing and a drive, deep to.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we have lost Dave's microphone. Barry Bonds ha just made it 715th career homerun out over the wall in right center field. A titanic blast.


UNGER: Clearly, somebody tripped on the plug. KNBR apologized to the fans, citing technical difficulties for the blown homerun call, as for the rest of Sunday's events; Lester Holt fills us in on everything including thoughts from Mr. Bonds, reaction from the fans and relief from the man who caught the momentous ball while waiting in line for delicious beer, relief because that man can, from now on afford to pay nine bucks for his Coors Lite.



LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barry Bonds finally gave giant fans what they wanted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pitch. Bonds hits one hard, hits it deep to center. Out of here!

HOLT: Historic homerun number 715. It was a 445-foot shot to centerfield by Bonds against the Colorado Rockies before a sell-out crowd in San Francisco.

BARRY BONDS, GIANTS PLAYER: This is where I was raised and this is where my history started. This is where my godfather, my father played and where I get to play. So this is the - there's nothing better than hitting it here. There's nothing better than doing it in front of these fans.

HOLT: Fans had packed the stadium for this moment in history. But the ball bouncing out of the stands and into the hands of one very lucky man waiting to line to buy beer. Thirty-eight-year-old Andrew Morbitzer of San Francisco was ushered away by security after catching the historic homerun ball. The recently married Morbitzer was joined by his wife Megan at a post-game press conference where he talked to reporters about this lucky catch.

ANDREW MORBITZER, CAUGHT HOMERUN NO. 715: I went down to - just to get a couple of beers and I was going to get her peanuts and a barbecue sandwich and the one place wouldn't sell the barbecue sandwich to me, told me to go next door. As I walked up, I heard the roar and looked up and saw everybody reaching into the air and the ball came over and I snagged it.

HOLT: Despite the controversy surrounding Bonds and his alleged steroids use, Morbitzer says he's a die-hard fan.

MORBITZER: I'm a Giants fan, I'm a San Francisco fan and a Barry Bonds fan.

HOLT: Morbitzer made another quick save when asked if anything in his life could compare to his lucky catch at the ballpark.

MORBITZER: Not yet except for maybe a recent wedding day recently in Vail.


HOLT: And of course, the question everybody is asking.

QUESTION: And now what are you going to do with the ball?

MORBITZER: Yet to be determined. Hold it tightly in my hands for a little while.


UNGER: And now to record-breaking of another kind in our roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, "Keeping Tabs." In movie theaters this weekend, the mutants ruled. "X-Men: The Last Stand" took in an estimated $120 million since premiering Friday, giving it to biggest opening ever for a Memorial Day weekend. "X-Men" also posted the biggest Friday ever, pulling in nearly $46 million. Despite a batch of mixed reviews, fans showed up to see their mutant favorites, Halle Berry as "Storm," Hugh Jackman as "Wolverine," Ian McKellen as "Magneto." Kelsey Grammar even did the turn as a blue-skinned beast. That's what 11 years of "Fraser" will get you, apparently. "X-Men: The Last Stand" is supposed to be the final installment of the trilogy, but with numbers like that, why would Hollywood chop down a tree that grows money like that?

And if Michael Jackson is interested in pursuing a rehabilitation of his own image, he may be missing the mark a bit. He latest stop in Tokyo at an orphanage. Jackson had left his home in Bahrain to accept MTV Japan's Legend Award on Saturday. He thanked fans for their loyalty and got a little teary. And on Sunday, he was off to the orphanage. The pop star was escorted into a gymnasium where more than 160 children between the ages of 3 and 18 were waiting along with a bunch of nuns. It's not the usual image of Jackson shopping. Here's he's just browsing.

We are kidding. No emails, please.

Anyway, Jackson's visit to Japan is his first round of public appearances since being acquitted of child molestation charges last year. Next up, Singapore, Shangri and Hong Kong.

Perhaps for Paris Hilton, the next adventure is one into madness. She's coming out with a album, a record album, a C.D., recorded with sounds of her singing. Hilton's upcoming album will be a mix of reggae, pop, and hip pop according to the Hong Kong magazine, "Prestige." Quote "I want to have something for everybody," Hilton said, "I have always had a voice and always known I could sing, but I was just too shy to let it come out."

But like most Americans who let their shyness confine their singing to the shower, Hilton is going to make us listen to hers. She continued, "When I finally let it go and did it, "I realized what I am. I'm most talented, I love doing this the most." Hilton says the first single from the album is called "Stars are Blind."

Still ahead, tonight's No. 1 story, Jon Voight is a grandfather once again. That's right. While you've been loading up on Miller Lite and pulled pork, we've been putting together a kick-ass report on the spawn of Brangelina. I strongly urge you to stick around.


UNGER: Not since the birth of Jesus has there been this much buzz about an infant. Since Moses, at the very least. And if by Moses you think we mean the man who parted the Red Sea, no we're talking about the son of Gwyneth Paltrow, and by extension the newborn daughter of Gwyneth's ex, Brad Pitt. Our No. 1 story on the Countdown, baby Brangelina is finally here, and may we be the last to say it is a birth of biblical proportions. Lisa Daniels has the details.


LISA DANIELS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The world's most beautiful family is just a little bigger today. Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, a baby girl with a big name, both on paper an in Hollywood. Her parent's, arguably, the most photographed couple in the world, if not the best looking.

Little Shiloh was born Saturday night in Namibia, Africa. She's healthy, but other details are not yet known. A month ago, in an interview with Ann Curry, Jolie revealed little about her plans for the birth.

ANN CURRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: How do you feel about the birthing part? Are you good? Are you ready?

ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS: Yeah. We don't know where it's going to happen or where we're going to be, so we'll see.

CURRY: Yeah, well is there a doctor nearby?

JOLIE: We've been smart about that and we're as prepared as - you know, but I'm ready for anything.

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


CURRY: Would you like to keep that to yourself?


CURRY: Or would you like to share that with the American public.

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

DANIELS: So far, no baby pictures either. Pitt's publicist released a barebones statement, that "The night of May 27, 2006 in Namibia, Africa, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt welcomed their daughter Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt." The name Shiloh has biblical origins and means abundance and peace.

Little sister, joins 4-year-old Maddox, adopted by Jolie in Cambodia, and 15-month-old Zahara, adopted from Ethiopia. Although Jolie and Pitt have taken great lengths to shield their children from the paparazzi, media analysts say they will have to fight now more than ever for their privacy. Photos of baby Shiloh are said to be worth millions and her birth will inevitably lead to at least one more question: When will the movie's, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" become real-life husband and wife?

Lisa Daniels, NBC News, New York.


UNGER: Well, it is an act of charity that "Village Voice" communist, Michael Musto have agreed to give up any hope of a Memorial Day barbecue to discuss baby Brangelina.

Thank you for your sacrifice, Michael.

MICHAEL MUSTO, "VILLAGE VOICE": I've been doing it all weekend, anyway.

UNGER: Let's begin with the name Shiloh. Certainly a beautiful name, but among its other meanings, in Hebrew are chosen one and the Messiah, and we know Angelina wants to sort of repair the world. Does she expect her child to do it for her?

MUSTO: Yeah well, we need new Messiah right now to stop "The da Vinci Code." Not because of the message, just because it's so darned boring. And why not a female Messiah for a change? That'll be refreshing. And actually Shiloh can save the world while Angelina concentrates on important things like updating her vials of blood and puffing up her lips even more.

UNGER: Or perhaps just acting.

MUSTO: That would be nice.

UNGER: Yeah. You know, are celebrities spending, you know, way too much time in the fine print of the whole baby naming book series?

MUSTO: Yeah, for some of the those are the only books they've every read, unless you count "People" magazine and I do. I think it all started when Diana Ross look at the spice rack and said, I'm going to name my daughter chutney and I'm going to misspell it. And then of course, Cher looked at the Bible, looked at a color chart, came up with Elijah Blue. And more recently, Gwyneth, before Moses, named a kid Apple Martin. That's like one vowel away from a cheap cocktail.

UNGER: Yeah, they all sound - the names all sound like they're just very edible. One report, this weekend, and help me out with this, Jennifer Aniston, apparently, called to congratulate them on the birth of Shiloh. What are the odds that really happened?

MUSTO: I'd say the same odds of David Schwimmer being the breakout star of "Friends." No, I love Jennifer, but more likely she accidentally called 1-800-whore of Babylon and Angelina picked up. Or she did call her intentionally, it was to say, you have stretch marks and I never will. Or please come see my new movie with Vince Vaughn, "The Break-Up" we need every single customer we can get.

UNGER: Do you have any sourcing on that?

MUSTO: Yes. Harvey the rabbit, my best friend.

UNGER: OK. Do you think, Michael, Shiloh and Suri Cruise will be friends, you know, eventually at whatever, you know, Los Angeles private school they invariably - I imagine they're not going to home school. And I'm picturing, you know, sort of a "Mean Girls" meets "Valley of the Dolls."

MUSTO: OK, meets "Clueless." But, yeah, I do think they're going to get along famously, as it were. I mean they have so much in common. They're both from parent's with one name, Brangelina, Tomkat. They both were born to kind of rehabilitate the image of their parents. The father in both cases is an aging matinee idol and the mothers' rather weird. I do think they'll fight, though, on parent's day when Tom comes to take Angelina's meds away while little Lourdes Ross (ph).wait how did she get into that fantasy - sorry.

UNGER: Let me ask you this. From a privacy standpoint, it seems as if Brangelina managed this perfectly by going to Namibia, where they have the government of an entire nation working security for them. Are they in for kind of a rude awakening when they go back to Malibu?

MUSTO: Oh yeah. Well, guess who else live is Malibu? Britney Spears and she'll probably be waiting with her car to pick them up, drive with the kid on here lap. That'll be terrific, won't it. And, of course, the second they get back into the heat of things, they'll be, you know, fame, paparazzi, scrutiny, excitement, all the things celebrities hate, don't you know? I mean please, one more day in Namibia and Brad and Angelina would have been ripping up restraining orders and saying, bring back the sociopaths. It's boring.

UNGER: You know. You're not a doctor, you're not a physician, you're not an exert on obstetrics and gynecology, but I want to ask you this.

MUSTO: I know nothing about gynecology.

UNGER: Well, just go with me on this if you will.


UNGER: Are the - do you think they travel - a lot of people have asked me this, Brian, do they, do you think, with their own OB-GYNs or did they use local OB-GYNs down there? Wouldn't you go with your own core of medical experts?

MUSTO: Would you go with the local OB-GYN, even in the 5-star hotel that they were staying at? I think they brought such an entourage. They even brought an acting coach this time. Didn't work.

UNGER: It was a method acting exercise as well, as.

MUSTO: Well, she didn't have the silent birth of Katie, she was actually supposedly in a pool of something and they let her scream.

UNGER: Do you get the sense that they're kind of keeping the country hostage?

MUSTO: I think they're trying to help the country because a few years ago Angelina - if you mean Namibia, not America.


MUSTO: Because I feel like I'm being held hostage by this.

UNGER: Maybe (ph) America.

MUSTO: Angelina, a few years ago, made a rotten movie in Namibia called "Beyond Borders" with Clive Owen and I thick this is her payback, let me do a little P.R. for the country to make up for that terrible movie.

UNGER: You don't buy into the whole boosting tourism thing for Namibia, do you? That this will actually, you know, create a flood of tourists going there.

MUSTO: Well, I think it will but I think people are gong to go there and find a ravaged country. The most glamorous thing they'll find is maybe the afterbirth laying in the jungle.

UNGER: Oh, we.

MUSTO: Not too exciting.

UNGER: Oh, that's when we have to say goodbye. Michael Musto of the "Village Voice." Thank you for spending part of your holiday with us on Countdown. I really appreciate it.

MUSTO: Thanks, Brian.

UNGER: That's it for the Memorial Day edition. Up next, and MSNBC special presentation, "Coming Home" hosted by Lester Holt.

I'm Brian Unger in for Keith Olbermann, thank you very much for watching.