Thursday, March 2, 2006

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for March 2

Guests: Dana Milbank, Michael Musto, Howard Fineman


KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are fully prepared to help you during the storm.

OLBERMANN: Day two of the Bush-Katrina tape release. Politicians divide along party lines. Senator Reid saying the administration systematically misled the American people, Republicans insisting there is nothing new to see here. Yet they released tapes of the next day's meetings, tapes that show the president in a better light.

This won't: your Dubai Ports World, your deal to take over the company to run six sea ports is drowning. Who do you call? Bill Clinton. How leaders in Dubai called him to say, hello and help.

Here's a switch, there are Nixon tapes. Are there now Woodward tapes? Bob Woodward reportedly recorded it as a government official told him in 2003 just who Valerie Plame was.

The Buck O'Neil controversy, not elected because of politics among baseball historians, because one Baseball Hall of Fame does not like a rival baseball Hall of Fame?

And a small forest full of stories my producers are forcing to cover, is Whitney Houston pregnant, is Britney Spears pregnant, is Lindsay Lohan dressing like she is pregnant, or is she just doing her Janet Jackson Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction impression? All that and more now on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Good evening. To our knowledge, there is nobody actually named Katrina Bush, nobody at least famous enough to pop through a cursory search. But if she's out there, what marketing possibilities there are for her tonight. Our fifth story on the Countdown, Katrina Bush: more shocking video.

Tonight, reaction from the two men other than the president who can be heard speaking on the tapes, outrage on Capitol Hill and a new video.

But for those who have missed it, we begin with another look at the original tape from August 28th of last year, uncovered again yesterday, the one that kicked off the controversy, what did President Bush know of the storm? And when did he know it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone, let's go ahead and get started. It's noon. We have a lot of business to cover today.

BUSH: I do want to thank the good folks in the offices of Louisiana and Alabama and Mississippi for listening to the warnings and preparing your citizens for this - this huge storm. I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever assets we have at our disposal after the storm to help you deal with the loss of property and we pray for no loss of life, of course.

MAX MAYFIELD, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER DIRECTOR: If the strong winds clip Lake Pontchartrain, that's going to pile some of the water from Lake Pontchartrain over on the south side of the lake. I don't think anyone can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not. But that's obviously of very, very grave concern.

MICHAEL BROWN, THEN-FEMA DIRECTOR: My gut tells - I told you guys my gut was this is a bad one and a big one and you heard Max's comments. I still feel that way today. I also heard there is no mandatory evacuations are taking place inside of hospitals, from prisoners in prisons and they're leaving hotels open in downtown New Orleans. So I'm very concerned about that.

As you may or may not know the Superdome is about 12 feet below sea level. So, I don't know what the heck (AUDIO GAP). And I also heard about that roof. I don't know if that roof is designed to withstand a cat five hurricane.

Kind of gross here, but I'm concerned about (INAUDIBLE) mess and medical and DMORT assets and their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe. So, if I could get some sort of insight into what's going on in that Superdome, I think it would be very, very helpful.


OLBERMANN: The president has yet to comment on the tapes, though they have been out there now for more than 24 hours. He is safely removed from this controversy by a distance of 7,500 miles. He's in India tonight.

Not so the Democrats on Capitol Hill. The minority leaders of both chambers expressing their outrage.


SEN. HARRY REID, (D-NV) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: They have systematically misled the American people to hide the basic incompetence of the recovery and the response. And as a result of this, it's made America less safe, not more safe.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: That video further points the need for an independent commission. The video is an eloquent statement, speaks very clearly to the fact that there was a predictable tragedy that was about to befall the people of that region and the administration's response was inadequate.


OLBERMANN: And there is the man with the most to benefit apparently

from these tapes, former FEMA director Michael Brown, who seems, at least

on videotape, to have done if not a heck of a job, at least a pretty good

one after all. Tonight, Mr. Brown telling NBC News that the tapes speak

for themselves


MICHAEL BROWN, FORMER FEMA DIRECTOR: My criticism has always been to what was occurring prior to Katrina making landfall. I couldn't get anyone's attention about how serious this disaster was going to be. And I think the tapes are clear that I was expressing that warning from at least 72 hours before it made landfall.


OLBERMANN: Oddly enough, after months of video silence, tapes are coming out of the wood work like a previously owned sale at a Blockbuster. Within hours of the news of the Associated Press collection from the day before Katrina hit, there are transcripts. "Newsweek" says they came from Bush administration officials of the meeting the day that it did hit, ones that made the president look much better.

And this morning, the videotapes of those August 29 meetings mysteriously appeared after months of being unavailable or not known to exists, or sorry somebody else has rented them.

In a moment, Dana Milbank of the "Washington Post" reviews the first season video release and today's conveniently timed follow up second season release. First, the special making of the video from our chief investigative correspondent Lisa Myers.


LISA MYERS, MSNBC CORREPSONDENT (voice-over): NBC News has obtained the videotape of a key private meeting between federal and state officials on Monday, August 29, the day Katrina hit. Though Michael Brown has been critical of the president, the tape shows Brown praising the president that day saying they had already talked twice.

BROWN: He's asking about hospitals, he asking about hospitals. He's really engaged, asking a lot of really good questions.

MYERS: Yet Brown told Brian Williams last week that he repeatedly and emphatically warned how bad Katrina would be, but no one listened.

BROWN: I want to jam up supply lines. I want to cut the bureaucratic tape. I wanted balls to the wall is the phrase I used in doing everything we could.

MYERS: Tapes and transcripts don't reflect that colorful expression.

But Brown does repeatedly sound the alarm and push for action.


BROWN: My gut tells - I told you guys - my gut was that this is a bad one and a big one.

MYERS: Monday.

BROWN: I want everyone to recognize - I know I'm preaching to the choir to everybody here how serious the situation remains.

MYERS: As for the president, on Thursday, September 1, four days after Katrina hit, the president said this.

BUSH: I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.

MYERS: On a conference call, which President Bush participated in as Katrina approached, hurricane expert Max Mayfield said this.

MAYFIELD: I don't think anyone can tell with you any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not, but that's obviously a very, very grave concern.

MYERS: Today Mayfield told NBC News that he that he warned only that the levees might be topped, not breached. And that on the many conference calls he monitored, nobody talked about the possibility of a levee breach or failure until after it happened.

In the new tape obtained by NBC from Bush supporters, a senior White House official asked Louisiana Governor Blanco how the levees are holding up.

GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO, LOUISIANA: We keep getting reports in - from places that maybe water is coming over the levees. We have had heard a report, unconfirmed - I think we've heard that we have not breached the levee - we have not breached the levee at this point in time.

MYERS (on camera): We now know an hour before Blanco's assessment, a FEMA official alerted superiors to report that at least one levee had failed, information which didn't reach the White House until almost midnight.

Lisa Myers, NBC News, New Orleans.


OLBERMANN: There is a Kate Bush: singer. For more now on the political impact on this time, time now to call on the "Washington Post's" Dana Milbank. Good evening, Dana.


OLBERMANN: It is a cliche of American politics that if things go toughly for presidents at home, they take a road trip, they travel as far abroad as they can go. This trip to India really seems, obviously coincidental, but it seems like it could not have come at a better time. If you are in this White House, is there any hope that this will have all died down by the time the president gets back?

MILBANK: Well, not really. I mean, people might stop chattering about this video. The problem is, each one of these things really does its damage. It undermines the president's credibility. And now people are getting at this question of his honesty and his secrecy if it appears that two things, as Lisa pointed out, that he said very publicly turned out not to be true. And he apparently - he should have clearly from the meeting known that they were not true.

This is some of the things that has been depressing the president's numbers in the polls. You add to that the ports controversy, the trouble in Iraq. Each one of these things knocks him down a bit. And each time he gets up and another wave seems to knock him over.

OLBERMANN: These are not the Nixon White House tapes, though. These are things that he should have known were there and had the prospect of coming out. Why try to get away with something that as you point out clearly was not true when sophisticated tapes existed and were just sort of waiting to come out like the new release of "Network" on DVD?

MILBANK: Keith, nobody could have anticipated the tapes would be released. They - certainly, we didn't anticipate the tapes would be released. Certainly Tom Davis who just did this exhaustive investigation now looks embarrassed by this whole thing in the House of Representatives.

OLBERMANN: You know, I never interrupt, but Dana, that first tape from August 28th was sitting in the archives of most of the major news organizations. It had been sent out by FEMA to the Associated Press television service and were sitting in storage rooms at every network in this country.

MILBANK: That is embarrassing, isn't it? It sort of is the way the ports controversy exploded after people found out about it 90 days ago. And then it just blows up. Everybody is just waiting for the right moment.

OLBERMANN: All right. The new tape, the one from August 29th, the day the storm hit, this is provided to NBC News today as you heard Lisa Myers say, by supporters by Mr. Bush. It's remarkable how it turned up under the circumstances. What happened to the executive privilege that White House told the Senate kept it from seeing those tapes or those transcripts from those tapes, or did these just sort get out sideways in the administration knows nothing about it?

MILBANK: Well, executive privilege, as the administration has defined it, is the privilege to do what the president wishes to do, of course. And that is that he can define whatever point he wants, whatever legal point he wants, but he can violate that if he chooses to, same thing with the releasing of classified information. It's really up to the president here, and it was in his interest.

Now, I don't know your source on this, but certainly when people say Republican sources, it tends to indicate they might be Republicans who actually might even work in the White House.

OLBERMANN: Let's say that the White House is 100 percent correct on the breadth of the blame here, and that nobody could have anticipated the blah, blah, blah, blah. Six months out, things are so bad on the Gulf Coast, is the administration really trying to make some sort of claim of competency at this point? Or is it an attempt to shift the focus back onto Michael Brown in hopes that it all sticks to him again, when in fact, it looks like his reputation has been rehabilitated to some degree?

MILBANK: Yeah, the competence question is going to be very difficult in this case, because it's ongoing. I mean, we learned today that in New Orleans they are starting again today to search for more dead bodies. Three hundred to 400 are still missing, they haven't even reclaimed the bodies down there.

I don't think any of us thought that we would now be crediting Michael Brown of the Arabian Horse Federation with actually knowing that there were problems with the Superdome's roof, knowing that it was under sea level, warning about the evacuation possibilities and warning about the levees. It - he has in a sense rehabilitated himself, and that's something that I think none of us expected.

OLBERMANN: As Rodney Dangerfield said in that movie, you want to look thin, hang out with a bunch of fat people. If you want to look better - more competent, hang out with a bunch of people who aren't.

Dana Milbank of "The Washington Post," no one could have foreseen the release of these tapes? I hope that appears in an article soon.

MILBANK: It's not going to appear in one of mine. I'm keeping my eye out from the (INAUDIBLE).

OLBERMANN: Thank you kindly, sir. And best of luck with that.

There are also new wrinkles tonight in the ports scandal. The current president seems mesmerized by events. His predecessor on the other hand is the man the folks in Dubai called to try to help clear things up and smooth things over.

And big headlines as well in the Scooter Libby pretrial phase. Audiotapes of the outing of Valerie Plame - audiotapes recorded by, not reported by Bob Woodward? And will Karl Rove be forced to testify against his former chief of staff? You are watching COUNDTOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: From Thomas Jefferson's time to the present day nothing has honked off America's commanders in chief than the other party predecessors stepping in and resolving messes that they could not.

Our fourth story on the Countdown. Oh, here we go. When the Dubai Ports World crisis erupted to whom did the folks in the United Arab Emirates turn? Who suggested the 45-day delay? Bill Clinton advised top officials from Dubai, one of the seven member states in the U.A.E, how to handle the burgeoning controversy. The idea for Dubai Ports World to voluntarily propose a 45-day cooling off period, a delay, the former president's spokesman telling the "Financial Times," quote, "about two weeks ago, the Dubai leaders called him and he suggested that they submit to the full and regular scrutiny process and that they should put maximum safeguards and security into any port proposal."

The former president has been making public comments about the deal far more favorable than those of his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton.

In 2002, he was paid $300,000 in address a summit in Dubai. And he's a close relationship with the United Arab Emirates since leaving office. But Mr. Clinton's spokesman says that as a former president, Mr. Clinton receives calls from world leaders every week.

That the furor over the U.S. ports deal underscores the difference in styles between the current and former president, like Taft and Roosevelt maybe, not lost on our next guest, "Newsweek" magazine's chief political correspondent Howard Fineman. Good evening, Howard.


OLBERMANN: Let's back up a minute before get to this part of it, what about the once and perhaps future president: Bill Clinton versus Senator Hillary Clinton. Are they actually at odds here? And if so, is that a bad thing? I mean, it seemed to work surprisingly well for them last time as we both well remember.

FINEMAN: No, I think they're working on opposite sides of the street in tandem. It's not like they arrive home at Chappaqua and Hillary says, Bill how can you say those nice things about the UAE?

I think they have different world views. Hillary Clinton is running for reelection to the Senate from New York State and building her presidential campaign. She's responding to the Democratic base on this issue and she's responding to citizens in New York who are concerned about it.

The Democrats think they have the Republicans on the run on national security over this issue. And the polls support them.

Another one of the Democrats running for the Senate, Harold Ford of Tennessee rushed up to Baltimore I'm told and cut a new ad - TV ad that's going to start airing in his Senate race in Tennessee criticizing Bush over the ports. So Hillary is just responding to that.

Bill Clinton has an entirely different view. He's a man of the world, a man of the planet. I don't think it's about the money so much, but I did see him at the National Governors Association meeting, talked to him for a while and he was standing there with a few of us reporters and just pretty much on his own said, you know those emirs are good guys, you know. There are guys over there. So pretty much unprompted he was saying nice things about the UAE.

OLBERMANN: Thinking of Harold Ford - quick, which port is closest to us? Is this cooling off period that's being essentially credited now Mr. Clinton, is that fair? Or is it an oversimplification?

FINEMAN: I think it's a little bit of an oversimplification. I think some of their - some of their lobbyists, the Dubai lobbyists here in Washington that were hired to work on this, everybody from Madeleine Albright's firm to former Senator Bob Dole. To me, this had the feel of a Bob Dole move as much as Bill Clinton move.

But it's pretty interesting and illustrative of how Washington works now. You had the two guys who ran against each other in the presidential campaign of 1996 trying to save Dubai on this ports deal. Even though legally, we should point, Keith, that the sale from the British company to the UAE has happened. How they are going to unwind this thing, I don't know.

OLBERMANN: You have written about this vast difference between the former president, Mr. Clinton, who seemed willing to talk you to death as the incident you just described, and this president who is often reluctant to explain anything. Up to now, Mr. Bush has offered - I think terse is a good word - terse defenses of the ports deal. Will he be forced to do more under these circumstances?

FINEMAN: Well, you would think he'd be forced to do it, but he's in such a bad situation in terms of his popularity, or lack thereof, that he's not a very good spokesman. So, it's kind of a vicious cycle. And I don't know who they can call on.

One of the problems that's happening now for the president is that his own Republican base is crumbling under him on this issue. And every time Bill Clinton steps forward to say, oh those Dubai guys are good guys, or Jimmy Carter comes out and supports the Dubai port deal, it hurts George Bush further with his own base.

It seems to me the only Republicans who can help the president would be John McCain or Rudy Giuliani, two certifiable guys on national security, but they are being fairly quiet on this. The fact is there is hardly anybody who can help the president.

And the president's own rhetorical problem is that he lives in a world of black and white and speaks in terms of black and white. It's the Bill Clintons of the world and George Bush's father who lived in the gray diplomatic world that this Dubai deal is all about.

OLBERMANN: Rudy Giuliani is not going to rush to try to explain this to New Yorkers.

FINEMAN: No way. Not if he's running for president. And I think he is.

OLBERMANN: Exactly. "Newsweek's" Howard Fineman. As always, sir, thanks for your insight and your (INAUDIBLE).

FINEMAN: Your welcome, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Also tonight, the special prosecutor in the Scooter Libby case dropping two tantalizing tidbits. Karl Rove may become a key witness in proving perjury charges and Bob Woodward may have key audio tapes. Irony alert. Warning.

And a murder, unspeakably brutal, even in the long, horrible annals of that crime in New York City. A student of criminology, her death now being investigated by the people she might have joined. Ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Twenty-nine years ago right about now the host of NBC's "The Tonight Show" did what he and his successor have so often done, introduced an unknown comic to the biggest national stage imaginable, a guy whose entire TV resume to that point had been an appearance on the "Freddie Prinze" special on cable the previous fall. The hosts was Johnny Carson. The unknown comics name was Jay Leno. In tribute to that anniversary for Jay, we'll start in LA with cars. Let's play "Oddball."

Oh, it's another Countdown car chase of the week. Oh, but we're mixing it up a bit, cops chasing cops without tires. Actually, cops chasing a stolen cop car. Checking the "Oddball" scoreboard for the year, we see it's cops 17, criminals in any kind of vehicle trying to get away, not a ding dong.

Behind the wheel of this sheriff's department S.U.V., a woman who had been being questioned in a case about a stolen car. Apparently the interview went something like this. No, officer, I don't know anything about a stolen car. Hey, look over there. Yoink.

Although she would briefly slow down as she went through a school zone, it one hour 50 or 60 miles and one set of spike strips later that she was finally pulled over to face the music. And no, the officer didn't just jump in and say slide over. I'll drive. She will get one more joyride in an LA County cop car in the back seat on the way to the big house.

To Olney in England for another episode of only in England. It's the big annual Shrove Tuesday pancake race. I know it's two days later. It's Thursday, but gives us a break. The women had to run these tapes over from England. Dozens of ladies in traditional housewife costumes running the 415 yard race with their frying pans and pancakes. And there they go.

Just as it was in the first ever such event, 100 or such years ago when villagers had to run to the next town for maple syrup before their waffles got cold. Something like that.

The winner will be flown to the U.S. to manage an IHOP outside of Toledo.

Finally to Mohawks (ph), Hungary where dozens gathered to celebrate the coming spring by getting drunk and dressing up as that thing that ate Luke Skywalkers Tonton (ph) in "The Empire Strikes Back."

Thousands more came to watch the parade down the main street for the ice planet Hoth (ph) as traditional masked characters known as the Buso Men (ph) attempt to scare away the winter spirits in Hungary's version of Groundhog Day. And do a little dance, too.

The different, of course, over here, the groundhog rarely emerges, sees his shadow and then tries to take a bite out of the neighborhood kids. Golly.

Dave Chappelle says he knows exactly how that feels. That his own network, Comedy Central, is doing something quite like that. It may preclude him from returning to his ground-breaking show, and then he threw in some words we can't mention.

And a return to motherhood. Is Britney Spears expecting again? Is Whitney Houston expecting again? How about Matt Houston? It's time once again to call upon Michael Must.

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

Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union quoted on this, his 75th birthday by the English edition of the Russian news organization Pravda as saying something that may have gotten lost in translation. Quote, "my biggest dream at the moment is to get drunk no matter what it may lead to." Then again, maybe he did say that.

Number two, Maryland state senator John Giannetti went out to dinner Monday night only to find another diner choking on a chunk of seafood pasta. Without hesitation, Senator Giannetti gave the man the Heimlich maneuver likely saving his life. That man was Jim Rosaphe (ph), considered to be Senator Giannetti's most likely opponent in the state elections this November.

And number one, Masha Lopatova Kirilenko. She's the wife of Utah Jazz basketball forward Andre Kirilenko. She says that being aware of the temptations pro athletes face on the road, she has given her hubby, a quote, allowance. He can have a fling with another woman once a year. He says he appreciates that, but he's not going to take her up on the offer. You know why he says that? Because he's not an idiot, that's why he says that.

The story does provide a great sports joke that this brings a new definition of the sports contract term, restricted free agency.


OLBERMANN: Thirty-three years and a couple of hours ago Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were finishing up their latest report on Watergate for "The Washington Post." Senators, preparing confirmation hearings for acting FBI director Patrick Gray wanted President Nixon's lawyer, John Dean, to testify about Gray to which Nixon replied that no president could ever allow a counsel to the president to go down and testify before a committee. Mr. Dean would, of course, testify, eventually, but none of what he said and almost none of what Bob Woodward reported would be verified until the discovery that President Nixon has secretly recorded every conversation that went on in his Oval Office.

Our third story on the Countdown, the wheel turns slowly. It point in different directions, but it seems that the components are always the same. The name is Bob Woodward, the subject is audiotapes, only he's not the reporter trying to ferret them out. He is the guy who recorded them.

In a 19 page affidavit filed today in the Scooter Libby case, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald outlines all that he will not give to Mr. Libby's lawyers. We learn that those lawyers wanted the name of the official who they describe as someone outside the White House who first told Mr. Woodward about Valerie Plame. The judge refused that request, the prosecutor Fitzgerald suggests that Woodward's source was also one of columnists Bob Novak's sources and that Woodward might have taped his conversation.

Quote, "Libby has been given a redacted transcript of the conversation between Woodward and redacted. And Novak has published an account briefly describing the conversation with his first confidential source redacted."

So now we know who told Woodward, it was this guy, redacted. The document also gives us an inkling of what Karl Rove known and who he shared it with.

Quoting again, "Mr. Libby testified in the grand jury that Rove told Libby that Novak was publishing a column about Wilson's wife before it was ever published."

MSNBC's David Shuster has been keeping his keen eye on this case from the get go. And joins us again tonight. David, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Let's start with Bob Woodward's source. Does knowing the same official spoke with Bob Novak give us any new insight into who that official is?

SHUSTER: A little bit. I mean, we know that Bob Woodward had one source and that Bob Novak had two. Karl Rove, and this redacted. The clues from Novak are that the second source, the one that we don't know, was no partisan gunslinger, according to a column that Novak published.

The clue from Woodward is that at the time, June of 2003, he was working on his book "Plan of Attack." He was recording interviews with officials that week at both the State Department and the CIA.

The other way to look at this is if you look at the information, who got information requests from the office of the vice-president or officials at the State Department and the CIA who provided information to Vice-President Cheney's office and Scooter Libby about Joe Wilson and his wife. So presumably, there was an undersecretary there, maybe even the secretary of state who also had access to that information.

OLBERMANN: Bob Woodward tapes, David, White House scandals. This is where I came in, in terms of being aware of American politics. Does anybody else in this case appreciate the irony?

SHUSTER: Well, it is ironic as far as Bob Woodward's life is concerned. But as far as the Scooter Libby trial is concerned, the prosecution and the judge have both said that it is irrelevant. It doesn't matter, says - the judge has said, which official was talking with Bob Woodward. But matters was that Scooter Libby was an official talking with NBC's Tim Russert and "Time" magazine's Matt Cooper. And that Libby is charged with then lying about those conversations to the grand jury and also the FBI.

OLBERMANN: Mr. Rove's name came up here, as it has been cropping up again and again throughout the proceedings. Is it a fairly safe bet that he will have to take the stand ultimately?

SHUSTER: Yeah, absolutely. Because when you look at the key week in question when Scooter Libby was so busy both reacting to Joe Wilson's column, then he had lunch with Ari Fleischer, then he talked to Judy Miller about Joe Wilson, then he talked to Tim Russert. Right in that same week, that's where this conversation with Karl Rove comes into play where they talked about what is expect that Bob Novak is going to publish.

So at the very least, even Rove's lawyers acknowledge, they expect that Karl Rove will be called as a prosecution witness to establish that Libby all sorts of information from a variety of officials about Joe and Valerie Wilson, including Karl Rove and that this information came to Scooter Libby before he had these crucial conversations with Tim Russert and Matt Cooper.

OLBEMRANN: All right. Look, you read these submissions as some people sit there and wait for that next issue of "People" or "In Touch Weekly" to come out. Nineteen pages of information detailing what Mr. Fitzgerald will not give out. What did you see in there that might lead us in terms of the defense, the strategy that he is going to use? Anything in there you read between the lines?

SHUSTER: No. The only thing that I read out of it was that Fitzgerald is trying to be very careful to satisfy the judge in the sense that the judge wants to make sure that Scooter Libby gets the prosecution documents he's entitled to.

Clearly Fitzgerald is running an ongoing investigation, so he doesn't want to give away to Scooter Libby or anybody else who may still be under investigation or what Fitzgerald's next move may be after the Libby trial. But at the same point, he's trying to satisfy the judge and say, look to the judge, look, I'm trying to cooperate with Scooter Libby, give them as much information as he's entitled to and at the same time protect the investigation.

OLBERMANN: Last thing, and just briefly, ABC got its hands on a credit card bill from Jack Abramoff that supposedly proves that he paid for Tom DeLay's trip with his wife to Scotland?

SHUSTER: Yeah, that's right. And that would seem to be a clear violation of House ethics rules which say that the source of travel expenses may not be a registered lobbyist. I mean, I suppose Tom DeLay was getting so much from so many different people, he couldn't keep track of who was registered and who was not. But this doesn't help Tom DeLay in the least.

OLBERMANN: Oops. MSNBC's David Shuster. As always, sir, many thanks.

SHUSTER: You're welcome, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Also tonight, New York City fairly rings with the screams of victims murdered too horribly to describe: from Kitty Genovese to the victims of Son of Sam, so why is the death of a 24-year-old criminal justice student being called on of the worst the city has even seen?

And Buck O'Neil was on this newscast last night appealing for good will after his exclusion from Baseball's Hall of Fame. But today, protests are surfaces from Capitol Hill to the heartland. Details ahead. This is Countdown.


OLBERMANN: This would have been the 25th birthday of Imette St. Guillen. She should have been in class at John Jay College, one of the nation's leading centers of learning in criminal justice. Instead in New York City, the professionals in the field she had hoped to enter are trying to cope with what even there is a startlingly grisly crime.

Our Number two story on the Countdown, reported from New York by our correspondent Rehema Ellis.


REHEMA ELLIS, MSNBC CORREPSONDENT (voice-over): Even for detectives in New York City who have seen their share of crimes, this murder ranks among the worst ever. The victim, 24-year-old Imette St. Guillen, a graduate student, came here from Boston to follow her dream to study of all things, criminology. That dream ended Saturday night when her body was found.

NBC analyst and former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt says it appears St. Guillen was tortured in a vicious sexual attack.

CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST: This wasn't your typical drag somebody back in the alley and hit them in a head with a brick and assault and leave them there. This is worse than murder. This is punishing and torturing. This is subhuman to treat another person like this.

ELLIS: The details of her death, horrifying. St. Guillen found nude had been raped, strangled, suffocated and sexually mutilated. Her face her forehead to her chin was wrapped in clear packing tape. Her hands and feet bound. A sock jammed into her throat. Her hair chopped.

MAUREEN ST. GUILLEN, IMETTE'S MOTHER: Imette was a wonderful child. She was a beautiful girl, but she was a bright girl. And she was a good person, such a good person. And I really don't understand.

ELLIS: St. Guillen was last seen early Saturday morning at this downtown Manhattan bar after a night out drinking with friends. The bartender says she left by herself.

Police were led to her body in this remote area by an anonymous 911 call made from this phone about a mile away. For now, investigators have ruled out her boyfriends and close friends as suspects, making this crime seem random and even more frightening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's scary. I don't know what else to say about it.

ELLIS: Authorities have ample forensic evidence, D.N.A., fibers, hair samples. And the floral blanket her body was wrapped in may also hold clues to solve this mystery. Who killed this honor student who had hoped to make criminal justice her life's work?

Rehema Ellis, NBC News, New York.


OLBERMANN: Of course, no segue at all possible into our nightly round up of celebrity and entertainment news, "Keeping Tabs."

First, a couple of updates on the continuing controversy over a special committee's decision not to elect the baseball legend Buck O'Neil to the game's hall of fame.


OLBERMANN: By the way, I'm still going to push to get you in the Hall of Fame anyway.

BUCK O'NEIL, FORMER BASEBALL STAR: Hey. Don't stop. Keep it up.


OLBERMANN: The 94-year-old former first baseman and manager of the Kansas City Monarchs on this program last night. And nobody is stopping. Cleveland Indians legend, Bob Felter (ph), who pitched against O'Neil 60 years ago tells the "Kansas City Star," I were him, I would be mad as hell. I'm going to have some words.

A Missouri congressman said on the floor of the House that the committee vote had, quote, left a community in tears. The governor of Kansas brought up the subject to reporters without being asked. "I'm just sort of stunned," she said. And from inside the world of baseball historians, increasing indications that Buck O'Neil may have been the victim as much of politics as of voters who doubted his credentials. That powers at the Baseball Hall of Fame may have resented his involved in the Negro League's Museum. We will be exploring these indications in depth, politics among the baseball historians tomorrow night here on Countdown:

8:00 and midnight Eastern, 5:00 and 9:00 Pacific.

The issue of fairness cropping up in the entertainment world as well tonight. Dave Chapelle now saying he may be unable to return to his successful Comedy Central series because of the network's, quote, bully move. The comedian very publicly and dramatically exited "Chappelle's Show" midway through the production in its third season. Now his network says it will air shows that will include some of the never before seen footage.

Chappelle telling the "Dayton Daily News," quote, "if they air that stuff, I can't see how I'm going to return to the show."

The network releasing a written statement saying they're patiently waiting - or it is patiently waiting for the comedian to get back to work but that fans are getting anxious. No statement as to whether Chappelle is worried that news about his career is now breaking now in "People" nor "Access Hollywood," but in the "Dayton Daily News."

From the boob tube to the boob tube. Lindsay Lohan says hello. And all the days other celebrity headlines my producers are forcing me to cover. I'll be joined by Michael Musto, my co-conspirator in this. That's ahead, but first, time for Countdown's list for today's three nominees for worst person in the world.

There's Jacqueline Forbes of Brisbane, Australia under arrest for leaving something at the salad bar at two of the Sizzler Restaurants in that city, poison in the pasta sauce. Four diners got sick, but Sizzlers still waited five weeks to report it to the police. Its restaurants in Brisbane, Australian have been virtually empty since Monday. Ownership closed all of them yesterday. I wonder why they were empty?

Tonight's silver, to the Rug Doctor company of Wimber (ph), Pennsylvania. Last month salesman Bernard Chippy (ph) called in from his route to say he would have to go home. Doctors had told his terminally ill wife that she was down to between two days and a week to live. So Rug Doctor fired him. They said he had used up all his sick days. His unpaid leave. When the story got out, the company offered him his job back. Surprisingly enough, he's skeptical about the offer.

But the winner, this evening, Melissa Cheaney (ph) of Paosh (ph), Nevada. Police said she didn't like the refereeing in the basketball game for fifth and sixth graders in which her son was playing, so afterwards, she waited around for the ref, promptly grabbed the official by the hair, knocked the ref to the ground, started kicking the ref. The ref in this case was not only a woman, she was a woman 5 months pregnant. She and the baby are OK. The crazy mother is under arrest. And she's Melissa Cheaney (ph), today's worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN: Etymology: the study of words and their origins and evolutions is a fascinating field. How is it that just a few decades ago, you could insult somebody by saying they had committed a boner, and by calling them a boob, and the worst reaction you would get would be some people tittering.

Our number one story on the Countdown, oddly enough, those last two words, though they had change meanings, still seem indelibly connected to morons. All of which is a convoluted way of saying we have a bunch more of these stories my producers are forcing me to cover to run through with Michael Musto.

Beginning with Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. The couple that brought us the unwatchable reality that was their life together in "Being Bobby Brown," now allegedly bringing new life into this world. Human life, I'm guessing.

Brown talking to "Sister, Sister" magazine about his wife of 13 years saying, quote, "I'm hoping that she is pregnant right now." Ms. Houston's spokesperson denies this.

Also denying, but unable to suppress pregnancy rumors, Mrs. Federline. A trip to a Malibu hospital late last week triggering speculation further fanned by her lack of public participation in Mardi Gras and then not pregnancy, but the equipment for pregnancy, what the matchless Seth MacFarland (ph) as Peter Griffin on "Family Guy" has called side boobs.

Lindsay Lohan, bit of a wardrobe malfunction going on right there, arriving at a General Motors sponsored fashion show in L.A. in an event pairing cars and stars. Always the method actress, there she is flashing her high beams.

To add comment to what would otherwise speak for itself, Michael Musto

we hope with his own double sided tape, joining us now. Good evening, Michael.


OLBERMANN: Lindsay Lohan. Any truth to the rumors that the right breast was trying to escape and had in fact issued a brief but impassioned plea that it be rescued for the rest of her?

MUSTO: Yeah, she us fully loaded all right. Actually, you are right, the breast is trying to escape and join Janet Jackson's breast on a multiracial duet of "Ebony and Ivory." It's going to be gorgeous. And we have got to help it, Keith, you have to help this breast escape this scrawny, self-destructive body. It's a healthy breast who is trying to secede from the union. And I hear there are helicopters are circling Lindsey as we speak, trying to somehow separate this breast from this scrawny frame and the head that's too shiny with too much hair on it and too much air in it.

OLBERMANN: She was apparently totally unfazed by this wardrobe malfunction, not in the same way as often described about Tara Reid. But the point here is Hollywood glamour hasn't really been about modesty for a good deal of time. Most of these actresses, if not in the ones in particular with these events, than others often appear in films topless or nearly such. Why is this a big deal?

MUSTO: No big deal to me, I see breasts all the time, Keith. No. Actually, it's a big deal, because news flash, we live in a hypocritical society that lives to see half naked starlets. And then when they finally get to see one, they freak out and say, ooh, that's so vulgar.

It's also a big deal because it literally is a big deal. I've seen things like that on dim sum menus. And also I think, Keith, people are shocked that she hasn't shown more. And that this took so long. And why is she only showing something crescent shaped not croissant shaped, OK? Lady Lindsay all of a sudden? I think not.

OLBERMANN: There is a slightly similar story, only anatomically I guess, about the rapper, Kim Jones, Lil Kim. But I'm - you're going to have to tell it, because all I'm willing to say is if Lindsey Lohan was about peaks, Lindsay Lohan Lil Kim is about leaks.

MUSTO: No, it's more about freaks. The story, according to columnist Russo Milloy (ph) is that Lil Kim's breast implants have been leaking in prison. And I think the story itself was leaked by Kim's mustachioed cellmate Big Bertha. And I actually think her boobies started leaking way back when Diana Ross grabbed them awful tight on that award ceremony. You'll remember that.

And look, Kim is in jail for perjury concerning a drive-by shooting. Perjury, smergery, I think she is terrific. I think she's a classy-looking upstanding lady. Leak or no lead, I love you, Kim. You are adorable. Do not kill me.

OLBERMANN: But her career has been very fluid today.

Britney Spears, meanwhile, not deflating, but expanding. These reports that she has taken up yoga to lose weight, others of course, saying, no, this is just part of the dodge her. She is pregnant with baby No. 2. That would make four for the current husband. Do you know, does he know about prophylactics? Can we force them on him, or something?

MUSTO: Prophylactic is a big word for that guy. Condom is a big word. Maybe rubber like the alimony checks he's been writing? Kidding. No, I hope this one isn't true, Keith, because I don't want to hear Britney singing having a baby one more time. In fact, I don't want to hear her singing anything. And I certainly don't want her sitting in the car with two babies on her lap, three if you count Kevin, like you say. But at least he'll have someone his own age to play with.

I'm afraid it is true, however, because the yoga story actually started when someone who overheard Britney saying I'm doing my yoga. She meant I'm slurping down crates of Dannon and some ring dings. Because she is pregnant.

OLBERMANN: And on that same topic, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. He says he hopes she is pregnant. She says - and does this not tell us all we need to know about this couple - she says talk to my publicist?

MUSTO: It's weird, isn't it? It's a very weird relationship. He says we are not on crack. And she says, what, talk to my publicist. It's bizarre. But I guess Whitney is the one who would know if she is pregnant by him. Or at least her publicist would know.

I actually hope this one is true, because Britney can then baby-sit have four babies on her lap in the car. Or Lil Kim can nurse it. Oh no, she's leaking, not lactating. Look, Lindsay can nurse it. Those aren't implants, are they?

And, of course, little Bobby Whitney can have someone new to vent her rage on and hold captive in between writing her romantic "Crack Family" aka "Houston We Have a Problem."

OLBERMANN: And, of course, we have that combination of the baby-sitting of Britney for Whitney. That would be perfect.

MUSTO: It all comes together here on Countdown.

OLBERMANN: The one and only Michael Musto, always more entertaining then the stories which he covers. Many thanks.

And that is Countdown FOR this is the 1,036th day since declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann. Keep your knees loose. Good night, and good luck.