Wednesday, May 24, 2006

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for May 24

Guests: Dan Milbank; Vicki Harrison

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

Democratic Congressman William Jefferson. The House Democratic leader attacks him. The Republicans say he's the victim of an overzealous FBI. We're through the looking-glass here, people.

And there's Richard Viguerie, the inventor of political direct mail, salesman of the conservative rebirth of the 20th century, now ripping George Bush.


RICHARD VIGUERIE: After he was sworn in, he began to govern as a big government Republican.


OLBERMANN: You want maybe this president? The Al Gore interview at length on global warming and on Al Gore.


AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I am Al Gore. I used to be the next president of the United States of America.


OLBERMANN: Is this fan the next commissioner of the National Football League?

This is the next way the sneaker companies will get you to buy new sneakers, and the iPod companies will get you to buy new iPods. The sneakers that analyze your workout and then talk to you through your iPod.


IPOD: Your average pace is 8:30 per mile, 4.9 miles to go.


OLBERMANN: I swear, doctor, I think my sneakers are talking to me.

And the unforgettable images from Michigan. You can never say it enough. Keep your seat belts fastened. This driver survived. Her remarkable story.

All that and more, now on Countdown.

Good evening.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi slamming Democratic Congressman William Jefferson, Republican legend Richard Viguerie slamming Republican president George Bush. How could it get any stranger?

Our fifth story on the Countdown, tonight it has. An ABC News report that speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is quote, "under investigation by the FBI," as part of the same big dragnet that began with lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

But an FBI official telling NBC News tonight that anybody who got money from Abramoff has been looked at, but to conclude that the bureau is thus investigating Speaker Hastert, quote, "would be a leap," and a Justice Department spokesperson saying, on the record, quote, "Dennis Hastert is not under investigation."

More on the speaker with Dana Milbank in a moment. We'll also hear from Mr. Viguerie later about Mr. Bush.

But first, Nancy Pelosi and William Jefferson, the minority leader conceding to NBC News today that the Jefferson affair is hindering her ability to beat up the Republicans with the so-called culture of corruption on Capitol Hill, that concern no doubt influencing her decision to ask the congressman, who allegedly kept $90,000 in kickbacks in his freezer, like some leftover lasagna, to give up his coveted seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

Quoting the congresswoman's letter to him, "In the interest of upholding the high ethical standard of the House Democratic caucus, I am writing to request your immediate resignation from the Ways and Means Committee," Representative Jefferson wasting little time in telling the minority leader, paraphrasing here, to stuff it, or stuff it in a freezer somewhere.

His first reason, to deny the Louisiana congressman a seat on the committee responsible for allocating tax relief and federal funds would unfairly punish his district in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. His second reason, that he is innocent till proven guilty.

Quoting his letter to Congresswoman Pelosi, "Such a request would be discriminatory, inasmuch as no other member currently under federal investigation has been asked to step down from a substantive legislative committee assignment. It would also be unprecedented," he continued, "inasmuch as I have served with members who have been indicted, tried and won their cases, and who were never asked to step aside from their committee assignments during those processes."

What's that saying about two wrongs not making a right?

Meantime, it is the Republicans who are still outraged that the FBI saw fit to raid Jefferson's Capitol Hill office in the first place, late Wednesday, Speaker Hastert, in a joint statement with leader Pelosi, that's right, a joint statement with leader Pelosi, asking the FBI to immediately return all of Congressman Jefferson's papers, that they say were unconstitutionally seized.

Funny doggone timing there about Hastert, huh?

We now seek the analytical assistance of "Washington Post" national political reporter Dana Milbank.

Thank you again for your time, sir.


Evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: First, the ABC report, the one that the FBI source calls a leap, the one to which the Justice Department spokesperson says he's not under investigation.

The story traces back to this letter the speaker wrote to the secretary of the interior in an effort to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with the casinos of the tribes who were clients of Jack Abramoff's. What else do we know about it? And is the FBI's source and the spokesperson for DOJ right? Is this a leap? Is it incorrect?

MILBANK: You don't suppose this is why the speaker doesn't want anybody investigating his offices?

You know, this is - it is, perhaps, a bit unfair to the speaker, in the sense that something like half the Republican caucus and a large number of Democrats have some ties to Abramoff and his clients through the money chain. Hastert is no exception. Had the benefit of some fundraising from him, some money now.

The people - the main person in Congress who's in some difficulty is Bob Ney, the Ohio congressman, who's known as Representative Number One. Hastert's name has not come up at all until now, and we're pretty far down the road here. So it seems pretty plausible, what the Justice Department and the FBI are saying tonight, that this is more of a routine matter.

OLBERMANN: Or it could be an investigation with a small I, as opposed to with a capital I. But, yes, the timing was extraordinary, wasn't it?

The Jefferson-Pelosi collision, and the Republican outrage on the Democrats' behalf, by the end of the day, the majority and minority leaders joined forces to jointly condemn the tactics of the FBI in this case. Dana, if this is that bipartisanship I've heard so much about in history, I don't think I like it.

MILBANK: Well, what's all the fuss here? This - somebody tried to bribe Representative Jefferson, and he immediately froze the assets. I don't see what they're all exercised about. But it is, it is, I think, a rare, if not unprecedented, thing for them to issue a joint statement. And it's quite unusual. It's very clear that Pelosi is trying to have it both ways here, because it is stepping all over their message. They're trying to say Abramoff, Duke Cunningham, Tom DeLay, and so on and so on, and suddenly the Republicans can shout back, Representative Jefferson.

They're in a real delicate dance here, and it is surprising that the Republicans are going to give them a little bit of cover on this.

OLBERMANN: Yes, and - but does what Pelosi did help? Does she still hold the high moral ground, or the less low moral ground, since we're talking politics here? Or was it so blatantly political, the letter to Jefferson, as to be meaningless?

MILBANK: Well, it's meaningful in the sense that she's trying to take a hard line with him. But once one of your members is filmed taking a suitcase carrying $100,000 out of somebody's car trunk by the FBI, and then that very same money somehow winds up in his freezer, you've got a problem, no matter what the minority leader does.

OLBERMANN: And the Republican argument here, and the argument of the joint statement, was that if you can raid the offices of a congressman in this really G-man style kind of approach, you might be in a situation where there's some congressman who is investigating the FBI, or involved in a congressional oversight of the FBI, and the FBI might do that to him with more than just their own investigation in mind, that they're - that what they're trying to protect against is some sort of retaliatory gesture, is that the idea behind it?

MILBANK: It's a little bit fuzzy now. I mean, it's - it is quite amazing that the executive branch, the Bush administration, has been taking away congressional powers, tramping all over the legislative branch for the past five years, and they've said nothing. Suddenly, when you get to a matter of - like this, they're up in arms, they want to go to the Supreme Court with it.

Now, obviously, at some point, you can't be running, you know, a drug ring or hiding Jimmy Hoffa in your congressional office, so there has to be some way that law enforcement can get in there. So it's questionable that why, on this particular matter, all the - both parties decide they would finally take a stand against executive intrusion.

OLBERMANN: Hoffa would be in a congressional district office, probably not in Washington, right, (INAUDIBLE)...

MILBANK: Well, unless he was put into small packages of frozen food.

OLBERMANN: And, yes, put in along with the cash.

Dana Milbank of "The Washington Post." As always, friend, great thanks for your time.

MILBANK: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: D.C. political theater opening a new show across town, opening statements in the trial of David Safavian, the first criminal trial to emerge from that Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, Mr. Safavian, once the top procurement official at the Bush White House, charged with five counts of making false statements and obstructing investigations into the Scotland golfing trip that he took with Mr. Abramoff and Republican Congressman Ney of Ohio in August 2002. Stakes for Mr. Safavian are high. He could face up to 25 years in jail and over $1 million in fines.

More now on the what's at stake for everybody else in Washington department, with our correspondent David Shuster, who we again find on the scandal beat.

David, thanks for your time.


OLBERMANN: How worried should Congressman Ney be about this Safavian trial, and the likelihood that he might be next?

SHUSTER: Well, the lawyers who are following this say it's not so much that he needs to be worried about this particular trial, but that he does need to be worried about the trial's star witness. He's a man by the name of Neil Voles (ph). He will be testifying against Mr. Safavian about this golf trip, which is at the heart of this trial, but Neil Voles, of course, is also the former chief of staff to Bob Ney, and Voles has been cooperating now for a couple of weeks with the Justice Department task force and is expected, at least according to lawyers, to provide information that will damage Bob Ney.

And so, in yet another indication of the trouble that Ney may be facing after this trial is over, is that Safavian's old lawyer said last week, during a defense motion, said that she is having some difficulty getting witnesses to the witness stand to respond to subpoenas, because some of these witnesses consider themselves targets of the overall investigation, and therefore don't want to testify. And that seemed to be a reference to Bob Ney, who seems to understand the trouble that he may be in.

OLBERMANN: One thing here, it's glad - I'm glad to see we're finally prosecuting people for golf. But the second part of this, this is still supposed to be the Jack Abramoff show, or trial, where he's the star witness. Might he wind up not testifying here at all?

SHUSTER: Right. Federal prosecutors say that in this case, you don't want to put Jack Abramoff on the witness stand, where he might be subject to cross-examination, or he might be subject to tipping the hand of what the Justice Department task force is going after in other cases. And in this particular trial, the Justice Department has an easier task with that strategy, because of some 250 e-mails between Jack Abramoff and Safavian.

And again, the e-mails suggest that Safavian was tipping off Abramoff about particular government contracts and properties at a time when Safavian, in a separate e-mail he was writing to his bosses at the General Services Administration, was saying, No, Jack Abramoff is just a friend, he has no business in front of the government.

OLBERMANN: And the connection has been made now again between Abramoff and Speaker Hastert. That's an ABC News story, not one from NBC News, so we're not privy to the sourcing on it. But is that argument our FBI source makes and the DOJ spokespersons makes, is that valid, in your - to your knowledge, that they're checking anyone and have been checking anyone who ever got a nickel from Jack Abramoff, and this is merely part of that?

SHUSTER: Yes, absolutely. Defense lawyers who are trying to track the Justice Department task force, they indicate that everybody who has gotten a dime from Jack Abramoff has been looked at at one time or another. And again, you're talking perhaps as many as 90 members of Congress. So Dennis Hastert would certainly fit into that context.

That's not to say this hasn't been embarrassing for Dennis Hastert, and his own supporters say as much. They talk about, for example, the fact that Denny Hastert had a fundraiser at Jack Abramoff's restaurant, and then wrote a letter on behalf of some of Jack Abramoff's clients, and then when all this came out, there was Denny Hastert giving the money to charity.

So this hasn't been a walk in the park for Denny Hastert. But again, everybody suggests that the Department of Justice and the FBI, when they say that Denny Hastert is not under investigation, that he was simply part of the mix of all these other members of Congress, everybody seems to believe that that is right on the mark today.

OLBERMANN: And those letters are fairly common practice too? Have they been suddenly criminalized? Did the rules change on these guys in the middle of the game?

SHUSTER: Well, that'll be one of the questions that I imagine we'll all have to wait and ask the Justice Department task force when they get through all of this.

OLBERMANN: MSNBC's David Shuster. Great thanks. Should be an interesting couple of weeks again.

SHUSTER: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Thanks, David.

The scope of scandal leading to a new appointment at the Bush White House, a replacement for Claude Allen as the president's domestic policy adviser, the post he resigned only weeks before he was charged with shoplifting. Who got the job? No, not Winona Rider. In fact, Karl Zinsmeister (ph), editor in chief of the conservative publication "American Enterprise" magazine. They gave it to the Zinsmeister-meister.

A new job also possible in Jeb Bush's future, the Florida governor floating his own name for NFL commissioner. Has anyone told Condi Rice? The governor Telling the newspaper "The Orlando Sentinel" that he has been approached about whether he'd even want the job, which is to be vacated sometime later this year by Paul Tagliabue, the governor indicating he's definitely interested, but he's unwilling to consider any job offers until he leaves office, that would be next January, adding that he doubts the NFL would hold the job open until he's ready.

As relevant, perhaps, in its 87 years in business, the National Football League has never hired a commissioner, or before that, a president, from outside its own circle.

The possible commissioner's brother having not the best of times within his own circle, or what he thought was his own circle. One of the founders of the conservative base, Richard Viguerie, is writing and speaking to us about how Mr. Bush betrayed the far right.

And at another spot along the political spectrum, Al Gore is talking about global warming still. But are his political prospects heating up too? What about '08, or thereafter? Answers ahead.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Will the last conservative political philosopher to abandon President Bush please remember to turn the lights off when he leaves? Obviously, the liberals went first, then the moderates, who had lined up out of patriotism after 9/11, and found themselves sucked into a phony war that has cost the lives of nearly 3,000 American service personnel.

But politics, even when thousands deaths are involved, are still just politics. This all became news only when key conservatives began backing slowly away from the president.

Our fourth story on the Countdown, William F. Buckley, Francis Fukuyama, James Dobson, and now, remarkably, in the editorial pages of "The Washington Post," Richard Viguerie. The noted conservative's public rebuke so stung that the White House actually issued a response trashing Viguerie for having similarly criticized Ronald Reagan six times in office, including as late as 1988.

The fight on the right, the blow-by-blow from MSNBC's chief Washington correspondent, Norah O'Donnell.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R), TEXAS: I'm a compassionate conservative.


President Bush campaigned and won elections touting his conservative values. But now conservatives complain Mr. Bush has forsaken his base.

Long-time conservative Richard Viguerie.

VIGUERIE: Well, conservatives feel betrayed. And he just, across the board, said that he would govern as a conservative. And, of course, after he was sworn in, he began to govern as a big-government Republican.

O'DONNELL: The rebellion on the right stems from anger over increased government spending, the immigration debate, Iraq, and what conservatives view is a lack of attention on social issues like opposing same-sex marriage, obscenity, and abortion.

Influential activist James Dobson recently accused Republicans of ignoring those that put them in office. The dissatisfaction is growing, with nearly half of conservatives saying they think the country is off on the wrong track.

VIGUERIE: So historically, when the Republicans have abandoned their supporters, their supporters lose interest in them and stay home. And I'm afraid that could happen again this year.

O'DONNELL: How grave is the situation? Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman recently warned Republicans they could face losses in November. President Bush has brushed off the fact that his ratings are similar to Richard Nixon's when he resigned the presidency.


BUSH: I'm not laughing, I just...

GREGORY: Why do you think that is?

BUSH: Because we're at war, and war unsettles people.

O'DONNELL (on camera): The president's advisers acknowledge conservative unhappiness and disenchantment, what one called a season of discontent. But the distancing may also be that conservatives don't want their movement to be hurt by a president with such low approval ratings.

KARL ROVE, DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: And ultimately, the American people are a center-right country presented with center-right party with center-right candidates will vote center-right.

O'DONNELL: Already Karl Rove's been up on Capitol Hill twice in recent weeks, and when Richard Viguerie wrote an article criticizing the president, the White House sent out this e-mail noting his repeated criticism of Ronald Reagan, a conservative icon.

VIGUERIE: The White House has responded the way they almost always respond to criticism, is to attack the person who's critical of the president.

O'DONNELL: A sign of division in what was once a powerful alliance Republican Party leaders warn could result in Democrats taking control of Congress later this year.

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


OLBERMANN: Norah, thanks.

And on the continuing effort to make soccer interesting, yesterday it was fish playing soccer. Now it's robots playing soccer. And it's really dull.

And more science. Your feet can run, your feet can smell, why shouldn't your feet be able to talk and wear their own iPod? Buy them one today.

That's ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: On May 24, 1743, Dr. Jean-Paul Marat was born. He would become the journalistic firebrand of the French Revolution, one of the first to suggest that political opponents, and even middle-of-the-road revolutionaries, should be guillotined. Later he wrote up many of the actual death lists, and he tried to get their phone records from Qwest.

In his dubious honor, let's play Oddball.

Forgot what day it was for a moment.

We begin in Buenos Aires with a rare successful attempt to make the game of soccer more boring. How could that be possible? you ask. Using robots and laptops. Robots. Is there anything they can't do? Well, they clearly can't play soccer. And these look less like robots than actual laptop computers playing soccer. Pretty lame, guys. It's pretty lame.

Still, it was an exciting nothing-nothing match, and 1,100 spectators were injured in the riot that ensued. It's the world's game, you know.

Now, this is what I'm talking about, a real sport. People in crazy costumes going Whee!, diving wacky bikes off the end of a pier. It's Lithuania's annual flying bikes competition, from the country that brought us the drunk truck driver whose blood alcohol was 18 times the legal limit. Fact, that was hi right there. Thirty-six vehicles, 140 competitors, enough booze to kill 100 horses.

Who won? Who cares? Actually, that's not really the point of this event on this beautiful Lithuanian day. Anybody who didn't drown was a winner. And to those eight people, we say, Congratulations, you're all winners.

Al Gore played president on "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" two weekends ago, but would he actually run in '08? The former vice president answers that question, and touts his mission to avert more global warming.

And after this, the driver walks away with only minor injuries. Now the investigation is on to find the driver who triggered that accident.

Details ahead.

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

Number three, Stephen Colbert. When I was on his show, I told him, You're too good. Some conservatives will not realize you're destroying them. Like Tom DeLay, it turns out. The DeLay Defense Fund has e-mailed a critique of a new anti-DeLay documentary. It credits Colbert's interview with the filmmaker as "cracking the story," with such questions as, Who hates America more, you or Michael Moore?

Number two, bar owners along Wright (ph) Avenue, the party district of Edmondton, Alberta, Canada. They are reporting that during the Stanley Cup playoffs this year, Edmonton Oilers hockey fans have consumed so much beer that the bar owners have had to send out emergency keg requests to other cities. Send the dogsled teams, load them up with serum and Molson's, eh?

And number one, an unnamed science teacher at Eagleview (ph) Middle School in Colorado Springs. I make this joke about once a month, and now it's actually happened. A science experiment at Yute (ph) Valley Park, next to the middle school, shooting rockets into the sky for Aerospace Week. No one was injured. The evacuation of the school was orderly, and firefighters say it only took about 45 minutes to control the blaze that consumed 10 acres of the park.

And everybody gets an F.


OLBERMANN: He served as vice president for two terms under a popular president. He lost his own bid for the office in a close, some said fraudulent, election. After that defeat he said he had no intention of ever running for the office again. Our third story on the Countdown, well I actually mean Richard Nixon in this case but as of this moment those descriptions also fit Al Gore.

Four years ago the former V.P. was literally pulled out of line twice on the same roundtrip from Washington to Wisconsin for a random secondary search, possibly by TSA employees who didn't know if they were looking for Al Qaeda or Al Gore, but new they were looking for Al somebody. Today he is a documentary movie star, a newborn pariah to the right and insisting to Katie Couric he has no plans for the presidency in 2008.


KATIE COURIC, "DATELINE" NBC (voice-over): The last memory many Americans may have of Al Gore is the night of December 13, 2000, when he withdrew his challenge to the election that put George W. Bush in the White House.

AL GORE (D), FMR. U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I offer my concession.

COURIC: But times have changed. Mr. Gore now finds himself the summer's most unlikely movie star, promoting his new film, "An Inconvenient Truth" which he's described as a nature hike through the book "Revelation."

GORE: If you look at the 10 hottest years ever measured, they've all occurred in the last 14 years, and the hottest of all was 2005.

COURIC: In the movie, Mr. Gore presents a high-tech slide show he's been giving for years which contains an avalanche of evidence he says points to one thing, the climate is changing and a crisis on the horizon. But before delivering the bad news, he breaks the ice with a little comedy.

GORE: I am Al Gore, I used to be the next president of the United States of America.

COURIC: We met in central park to talk about the future, the past, and his new found stardom.

(on camera): I think in this movie, at different turns, you're funny, vulnerable, disarming, self-effacing and someone said after watching it, quote, "if only he was like this before maybe things would have turned out differently in 2000."

GORE: Well, I benefit from low expectations. I've been through a lot since then and the old cliche is what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and you know, I often joke when I start speeches now by saying put yourselves in my position. I flew on Air Force Two for eight years and now I have to take off my shoes to get on an airplane, but I sometimes do say to the people patting me down I say, hey look, I was mad after the election, but I wasn't that mad.

COURIC (voice-over): But he's plenty mad about global warming and he painstakingly lays out the evidence in the movie and a book, saying that the phenomenon has already had a major impact.

(on camera): Why is it that this is what you wanted to really focus on?

GORE: I think what we're facing is a planetary emergency. It's by far the most dangerous crisis our civilization has ever confronted, and it's a challenge to our moral imagination, how could we be having this kind of catastrophic effect on the earth's environment. It's hard to imagine that we could be, but we are.

COURIC: As succinctly as possible, can you explain the crisis?

GORE: We've quadrupled our population on the earth in the last 100 years and our technologies are thousands more times powerful and one consequence of that is we're now filling up the thin layer of atmosphere that surrounds the earth with so much pollution that it's trapping much more of the sun's heat inside the atmosphere and heating up the planet. And that messes up the weather, it causes more droughts, ironically more flooding at the same time, and more powerful hurricanes. We have to rein in this very dangerous wave of pollution that we're putting up there every single day.

COURIC: People on the other side of the debate say, yes, it's getting warmer but the earth's average temperature has done this before, we may have something to do with it but it hasn't warmed that much and it's not going to have catastrophic consequences any time soon.

GORE: There's really not a debate. The debate's over. The scientific community has reached as strong a consensus as you will ever find in science. There are a few oil companies and coal companies that spend millions of dollars a year to put these pseudo scientists out there pretending there is a debate. It's exactly the same thing that the tobacco companies did after the surgeon general warned us about the linkage between smoking and lung disease.

COURIC (voice-over): Where there is disagreement among scientists is not if, but when we may see drastic environmental changes across the globe. Al Gore says the clock is ticking.

GORE: This is Patagonia 75 years ago and the same glacier today. This is Mount Kilimanjaro 30 years ago and last year.

COURIC (on camera): What do you see happening in, say, 15 or 20 years or even 50 years if nothing changes?

GORE: Well, what I think is going to happen is we're going to respond to it. But if we didn't respond, then what you would find is desertification of the mid-continental areas in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa, the melting of the polar ice cap and the beginnings of the same thing in Antarctica. Sea level increases of 20 feet or more worldwide. Of course, Florida and Louisiana and Texas are particularly vulnerable. The San Francisco Bay area, Manila - and we have seen the impact of a couple hundred thousand refugees from an environmental crisis. Imagine a hundred million or 200 million.

COURIC: Even Manhattan would be in deep water, right?

GORE: Yes and in fact the World Trade Center memorial site would be under water.

COURIC: Some people would say, "Oh boy, there's that tree-hugging Al Gore, he's at it again." Some people might dismiss you out of hand.

GORE: Look, I've been trying to tell this story for 30 years. And I have a new ally in telling the story. Unfortunately, Mother Nature is weighing in very powerfully and very loudly and people are listening. It's not a political issue. It's a moral issue.

COURIC (voice-over): A once-defeated Al Gore is now basquing in the limelight soaking up standing ovations and stellar reviews. He even showed up recently on "Saturday Night Live" where he played, of all things, President Al Gore.

GORE: In the last six years we've been able to stop global warming.


No one could have predicted the negative results of this. Glaciers that once were melting are now on the attack.

COURIC: All this, of course, has led to the inevitable question.\

(on camera): Needless to say, all this positive response has led to a lot of speculation that you're going to run for president. Let's just put it out there.

GORE: I don't intend to be a candidate ever again.

COURIC: Never, never, never?

GORE: Well, look, I have no plans of being candidate and no intention of being a candidate. I've said that I'm not at this stage of my life where I'm going to say never in the rest of my life will I ever think about such a thing.

COURIC: What does that mean?

GORE: It means I was in politics for a long time and ran for national office four times. And I'm 58 years old and that used to sound like the oldest age in the world to me, now I'm trying to convince myself that 58 is.

COURIC: That it's something near 38?

GORE: Yeah, I love that line. I don't quite buy it, but... Look, I'm enjoying serving in other ways. I really enjoy my life now. I am involved in a kind of a campaign, but it's not for a candidacy. It's a campaign to change the minds of the American people about this climate crisis.


OLBERMANN: Al Gore, speaking with Katie Couric. And what about the man who got the top job in 2000 instead of Mr. Gore? Will he watch that movie "An Inconvenient Truth?"




OLBERMANN: Frankly Mr. Bush would seem be a candidate to consume this, the combination sneaker, workout monitor, and iPod. It can tell him when he's about to fall off his mountain bike, again.

Brad Pitt joining the ranks of Britney Spears, the celebrity parenting police are at it again. That and more, but first on Countdown, "Top 3 Sound Bites" of this day.


JAMIE MILLER, PET OWNER: This is how it started, him licking beer from the deck. A couple sniffs, the obligatory sniffs, that's just what dogs do, with a couple sniffs and the dogs are all over it. And anything you can do to share, you know, some quality time with your dog is really important. So I think it's really fun, you know, on the weekend we'll have people over and have beers and we open a beer for Cody.

JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": A true study uncovered a number of intriguing and troubling facts, 65 percent of all Americans are overweight, including 31 percent who are obese; 90 percent think the nation in general has a weight problem. An incredible 28 percent of us have appeared as headless fat people in TV stories about obesity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's interesting looking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He needs dentures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's an ugly looking dog.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You going to win the contest, big guy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His face is crooked, his tongue hangs out, he has no teeth on that side. He's actually a sweetheart.



OLBERMANN: If your running shoes suddenly start telling you to pick up the pace, you're not going nuts. Not necessarily. New technology there and older technology, the simple seatbelt, saving a life after an indescribable car crash caught on tape, these stories ahead, here on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: In 1974, faced with a long flight and already being the owner of a small cassette tape player, I jerry rigged a set of stereo headphones on the deck, took it on the plane to listen to stuff. I later used it on bus trips to college. Even while walking the streets the cassette machine stood on my shoulder like a Geiger counter. Not once, not once did it occur to me that anyone else might want the same portable music. Not once!

Our No. 2 story on the Countdown. And This for 32 years have I had watched with increasing bitterness as the people were smart enough to think anybody else might want portable music had made it increasingly sophisticated and increasingly profitable. The newest music in your shoes. Our correspondent Kevin Corke now with the latest million dollars I didn't make.


KEVIN CORKE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Talk about a perfect fit. Makes you wonder why didn't we think about it before?

IPOD: The average pace is 8:30 per mile, 4.9 miles to go.

CORKE: Running is no longer just for loners; with the ideal exercise pound the iPod, now comes something new, the Nike plus iPod sports kit, the marriage of mega-companies, Nike and Apple, mixing fitness and music where shoes and music players talk to each other and to you.

IPOD: You completed 30 minutes, 27 seconds.

CORKE (on camera): And the way this technology works is really incredible. Essentially the wireless signal is sent from the sneaker up to the iPod telling you not only how long you've been running and how far you've gone, it'll even tell you how many calories you've burned during your workout.

(voice-over): You can run or walk to country or rap or walk with country or classical, even program a power song just when you need a boost.

MARK PARKER, CEO, NIKE: It's a great product. It really enhances that experience of being active. Serious runners to fitness runners to people who just like to walk and get more out of that experience.

CORKE: Wall Street thinks the kit is a hit. Shares of Nike rose nearly four percent and Apple closed up about one percent on the heels of the announcement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been really fun so far and I think we've just scratched the surface.


CORKE: Market analysts say this team worked because both brands are so strong.

MARSHAL COHEN, CHIEF ANALYST, NPO GROUP: The sky's the limit now. We're going to be finding all kinds of combinations. This is really showing that Apple is going to be in the forefront with many of the other major brands in trying to find ways to merge technology.

CORKE: So you, too, can be a computer wearing tennis shoes, marking miles, minutes, and calories with every beat.

Kevin Corke, NBC News, Washington.


OLBERMANN: From talking running shoes to a guy talking who has often one platform shoes. That's our segue into our roundup of celebrity and entertainment news "Keeping Tabs." Elton John getting some cash because he is not as mean as some would have you believe. Sir Elton accepting $188,000 as a settlement for liable damages. At issue an allegation about his annual tie and tiara charity ball. An article in the "London Daily Mail," last year, reprinted then in the "Sunday Times of London" claimed John had asked his guests not to approach him. The paper describing it as a bizarre edict. But the investigation must have been false or impossible to prove because Sir Elton's attorneys said the publishers settled. If we have to assume from all this that the singer is not rude to his guests we do know his feelings about photographers are another matter.


SIR ELTON JOHN, ENTERTAINER: (BLEEP) I'm talking (BLEEP) (BLEEP) photographers. You should all be shot. Thank you.



OLBERMANN: And the tantrums normally associated with childhood, to the perils of raising children, this time it's Brad Pitt under scrutiny. Awaiting the birth of his child with Angelina Jolie in Namibia he went bike riding with his adopted children, 4-year-old son Maddox and 16-month-old daughter Zahara. Maddox was on a tricycle, she wore a helmet, but little Zahara was strapped to Pitt's back in a papoose. And I said "she" when I referred to Maddox, that's he. In a papoose. U.S. weekly - or "Us Weekly," rather - that's two for me. Let's try this again in English. "Us Weekly" published the photo along with a critique from a child safety expert, Deborah Smiley Holtzman who said, quote, "Zahara needs a helmet and closed-toed shoes. I highly recommend toddlers ride in a child trailer pulled by a bike." Furthermore, no playdates with the spawn of Britney Spears.

A much more serious reminder about road safety, the inside story on how a driver in Michigan survived this and what the police do now. That's ahead, but first time for the latest list of nominees for "Worst Person in the World."

The bronze shared Larry and Ashley Gargas (ph) of Hillsborough, Alabama.

Police said they shoplifted a king-size marital aid from a local boutique. Apparently they liked it because they - three weeks later they went back to the same store where the clerk recognized them. The king-sized marital aid was recovered, but according to police spokesman Chris Matthews, seriously, Chris Matthews, quote, "Basically the store manager declined taking it back." Hah!

Runner-up, David McCann who had spent the last two years as a phys-ed teacher in the Orlando school system, evidentially he was very qualified. Police say two officers found him shouting at passersby that he was Luke Skywalker. When he wouldn't leave the area, they unsuccessfully tried to handcuff him. A baton, then a stun gun didn't stop him either. The police report reads, "Mr. McCann continued to attack with superhuman strength. It took four officers finally to bring him down with kryptonite.

But our winner - his investigation of an 18-year-old Kentucky girl getting $4,000 in tuition assistance for having won an ACLU essay contest, that Shannon Baldin was quote, "Getting a scholarship for refusing to stand for the pledge of allegiance. Very nice." In fact, as Shannon's father, the Air Force veteran, tells the "Louisville Currier Journal" she stands for the pledge." Bill, a swing and a miss. Oh, Stewie.

STEWIE GRIFFIN, "FAMILY GUY" BABY: Bill O'Reilly, today's "Worst Person in the World." Oh, wait, Bill hold still. Allow to soil myself on you. Victory is mine!


OLBERMANN: Seeing is believing, goes the old cliche ringing true in our No. 1 story on the Countdown. We just told you about an extraordinary SUV crash in which the driver, seemingly against the odds, survived. It couldn't register nearly as much as showing it to you. Video from the dashboard camera of a sheriff's deputy in Oakland County, Michigan who just happened to be cruising down Interstate 96 Monday afternoon when this happened. A car swerving right into the SUV. The Ford Explorer forced off the road, rolling over seven or eight times across the highway before it ended in a ditch. Amazingly, the driver, 29-year-old Emily Bonus (ph), not only survived the crash, she only suffered broken ribs, an injured hand, and cut on her head. Now police are looking for the driver who forced her off the road.

Heading up that investigation, the Ingham County Sheriff's Office whose chief deputy, Vicki Harrison, joins us now.

Thank you for your time.


OLBERMANN: Let me get to the safety questions first. When you see that tape and SUV Rolling over and over, does it not seem extraordinary that anyone inside survived, let alone came away with just minor injuries? How rare is that kind of outcome in something like this, to your experience?

HARRISON: It's very rare. In my years of experience at the sheriff's office, that type of accident, usually a person would sustain critical injuries, if not a fatal accident.

OLBERMANN: What - do you know - was it that helped save her life - the driver's life? Was it the design of the car? The seatbelt she was wearing? A combination of them?

HARRISON: Well, I can't speak to the design of the vehicle, but I do believe the seatbelt was a contributing factor. Many times in those types of accidents if the person is not wearing a seatbelt they're oftentimes ejected from the vehicle and sustain injuries upon landing after the ejection or from the vehicle rolling on top of them.

OLBERMANN: Yeah, there wouldn't have been anyway out if that person had been ejected from that car. It was a deputy from another sheriff's department, the Oakland County Sheriff's Department who captured this videotape on the dashboard camera. And you can see the deputy drives over to the vehicle rather than chasing after the person who caused this accident. Is that standard practice, to your knowledge in a situation like this, or do deputies make a decision on whether to go after the instigator or help the victim on a case-by-case basis?

HARRISON: In that situation, because she was the only officer on scene, it's very - quite standard for law enforcement to respond to give aid, safety, and life come first. Catching a perpetrator would be secondary. First you want to be able to see if anybody's injured, call for help, and render first aid.

OLBERMANN: That tape, obviously, it's a little distant, it's a little grainy and the accident happened so quickly, even in slow motion, that it's hard to believe. Do you think it's going to yield any information about who that other driver was?

HARRISON: Actually, it's already is beginning to, because the media has done really a wonderful job in putting this out there. We've received a couple different calls, one from the vehicle that was coming down onto the entrance ramp. She called and has provided us with information. Initial information was that the driver of the green vehicle was possibly a white male. Now with the media broadcasting and decisional tips it's possible that the driver of the green vehicle is a white female with very short blond hair.

OLBERMANN: The evidence there, the visual evidence suggests that the offending driver swerved to get out of the way of the car that was merging onto the highway, does the merging car - driver of that car have any responsibility in what happened?

HARRISON: Are you talking about the vehicle that's coming down the ramp?


HARRISON: No. That driver is not at fault. It did not appear that they were merging inappropriately. I'm not sure what went through the driver of the green vehicle's head, why they felt they needed to get over to quickly.

OLBERMANN: Any further idea about why the driver who caused all this?

Didn't stop, didn't go back? Didn't do anything?

HARRISON: Well, Obviously, until we locate that drive and obtain their version of what happened we won't know for sure, but there could be numerous reasons. Possibly the driver may have been suspended, didn't want to get caught. Possibly had a warrant could have been driving intoxicated. I mean, there are a lot of reasons why somebody would do that. Maybe get scared because of the accident and not what's going to happen and then leave. Not want to deal with law enforcement. So there's multiple of reasons why somebody could do something like that an then drive away.

OLBERMANN: Guess there are. I wonder how they slept that night.

Vicki Harrison of the Ingham County Sheriff's Department in Michigan.

Great thanks for your time. Best of luck for your investigation.

HARRISON: And thank you for all your help.

OLBERMANN: Of course. That's Countdown for this, the 1,119th day since the declaration of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann. Goodnight and good luck.

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