'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for August 7
Guests: Michael Musto
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Vay-cay. In light of increasing hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, British Prime Minister Blair cancels his vacation, the president starts his.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The humanitarian crisis in Lebanon is of deep concern to all Americans, and (INAUDIBLE) - (INAUDIBLE) - alleviating it will remain a priority of my government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: He's on vacation.
The war itself, is he dealing with foreign heads of state in hopes of bringing an end to the now 27-day conflict?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Condi's handling those conversations, and she's doing a fine job of doing so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: He's on vacation.
The debate about Iraq, playing out in Connecticut. On the eve of the primary, Senator Lieberman says his challenger has spread lies about his record.
Playing out in Washington, where "Newsweek" reports the administration has contingency plans to get U.S. troops out of there if it becomes civil war, if it hasn't already.
Conjoined twins, not visitors to our shores, two cute 4-year-olds from Salt Lake City, and the effort to separate the girls, even though they share one pair of legs, one liver, one kidney.
And tapes, tapes, tapes. Tapes of Simpson, tapes of Spears.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dude, we're going to do clips of you burping.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Uh, Kevin, that's not a dude, I think.
And best of all, Countdown's national world intergalactic exclusive, the first tapes of Suri Cruise.
All that and more, now on Countdown.
On August 4, 1939, the prime minister of Great Britain, Neville Chamberlain, adjourned the British parliament and ordered it reconvened on October 1. He went on vacation. Eighteen days later, the Russians and Germans signed a nonaggression pact, removing the last obstacle to the Nazis rolling through Europe.
When Chamberlain was located by his secretary, he was knee-deep in a river, fishing. When the secretary told him that Hitler and Stalin had just cut a deal, Chamberlain told him, You must have gotten that wrong somehow.
Chamberlain was on vacation. World War II started nine days later.
Our fifth story on the Countdown, depending on how you parse it, there barely is or barely isn't a civil war in Iraq, and the intensity of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah continues to spiral upwards. But President Bush, right on time, started his vacation today.
His close ally, Tony Blair, avoided the direct Chamberlain comparison and canceled his own time off because of the events in the Middle East. But the president went to Crawford, Texas, today anyway. There, he announced two new resolutions United Nations resolutions to end the conflict, perhaps, while making it clear he isn't not actually involved with a lot of the diplomatic legwork needed to make either resolution stick, like actually talking to the leaders of Lebanon and Israel about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, you've spoken with Prime Minister Blair and Chancellor Merkel about this. Have you spoken directly with Prime Ministers Olmert and Siniora? And if not, why not?
BUSH: Because Condi's handling those conversations, and she's doing a fine job of doing so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Condi Rice, Secretary of State Rice, not the only one picking up the pieces of the president's foreign policy, Democratic Senator Lieberman now facing the prospect of losing tomorrow's primary vote in Connecticut, thanks, in part, at least, to his staunch support for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq.
Lieberman spent the weekend trying to rally voters against antiwar contender Ned Lamont, asking them to look at his whole record, not just the one issue of Iraq, accusing his challenger of spreading lies, and comparing Lamont's tactics to what Republicans did to Senator Max Cleland in Georgia in 2002, Cleland, the decorated Vietnam vet, accused of being soft on terror, his picture displayed next to Osama bin Laden, Lieberman, of course, accused of being too hawkish on the war, his image displayed next to President Bush.
It's unclear if Lieberman's effort to distance himself from the
president will have any effect on Democratic voters. The latest poll,
taken before last weekend, still showed Senator Lieberman trailing Lamont
by 6 percentage points, 51-43.
I'm joined now by the chief political correspondent of "Newsweek" magazine, MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman.
Thanks for your time, Howard.
HOWARD FINEMAN, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "NEWSWEEK" MAGAZINE:
OLBERMANN: We'll get to Lamont and Lieberman in a moment.
But first, is it more than a cheap shot to say the president's on vacation? Is it even possible to stop Israel and Hezbollah without the president at least giving the appearance of being involved in the process?
FINEMAN: Well, I don't think it's a cheap shot, although the White House is trying to tell everybody that this is a much shorter vacation than ones he's taken in the past, more like a campaign year. It's that much of an emergency.
But the key thing is not how many days he spends in Crawford, it's what he does or doesn't do when he's there. Unfortunately for him, his Crawford record of vigilance is not that terrific, politically or substantively. Don't forget, in 2001, he got that famous warning about the possible attack of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden's interest in attacking the United States just a month before 9/11. And then last year during Katrina, there was evidence that he wasn't really on his game, and really vigilant the way he should have been as early as he should have been, and he played a lot politically for it.
Now you've got the combination of him being down in Crawford while, at the same time, saying that he's not talking to the two most important leaders in the Middle East conflict right now, the leaders of Israel and Lebanon.
OLBERMANN: In the context of the PDB from 2001 and Katrina in 2005, we know that every few weeks, the White House tries to change the delivery of the message, or how the message is received, or to blame reporters about the message.
Does anybody there believe in history? Would somebody say to Mr. Bush, Hey, it would mean something, at least symbolically, if you delayed this trip, even by a couple of days, if there was some sense that it was not business as usual?
FINEMAN: There may be some people who might say that to him. They're not in his inner circle. Some measure of August vacation in Crawford is sacrosanct with George W. Bush. They think they've made a big sacrifice, he thinks he's made a big sacrifice, by having it only be about 10 or 11 days, and not the nearly month that he sometimes takes and would prefer to take.
They're not going to say it to him. This is a guy who operates sometimes stubbornly, by delegation, who operates on a rhythm, who cares very much about routine, and he's not going to change.
And I dare say most of the American people have already come to a conclusion about the character and public persona of George W. Bush. They either like him or loathe him, and that's not really going to be changed by the number of days he spends in Crawford.
OLBERMANN: Let's turn to Connecticut. Fairly or unfairly, the primary tomorrow has come to be seen as a referendum about support for the war in Iraq, if not on Iraq itself. What happens nationally if Senator Lieberman loses to Ned Lamont, or if he merely beats Lamont narrowly?
FINEMAN: Well, I think we talked about civil war earlier. Keith, I think there's a civil war brewing, it's almost broken out in the Democratic Party, over the war in Iraq and the war on terror in general. I think it's going to continue and deepen and become more heated, whatever the results are in Connecticut tomorrow.
I think that the blogosphere, the antiwar elements of the party, are geared up. If Joe Lieberman ekes out a victory, which is possible, if he ekes out a victory there, that's not going to stop the civil war from growing.
I think there's a serious dispute within the party. I think a lot of party leaders are worried that that's paying into the hands of Karl Rove and the Republicans by raising doubts about where the Democrats stand on war and terror.
But that's what an opposition party has to do. It has to hash out a new direction for the country. If the Democrats hope to lead, they've got to go through this trial by civil war. And they're going to.
OLBERMANN: Could it be a big Lieberman victory? Is there still the chance of that? And if that happens, what happens to this internal Democratic civil war that you see?
FINEMAN: Well, you know, anything's possible. Can the organization of labor, can the black community, traditionally structured, come in and bring in a big vote for Lieberman? Possibly. I'm just saying that regardless, this argument is going to go on. You saw the outlines of it in the 2004 presidential primaries between John Kerry and others, and Howard Dean, and you're going to see it continuing as other Democratic candidates take more of an antiwar position.
OLBERMANN: "Newsweek"'s chief political correspondent, Howard Fineman. As always, Howard, thanks for some of your time tonight.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The big issue in the Lamont-Lieberman race, whether to stay in Iraq or pull out soon, may be moot if sectarian violence in that country worsens, Richard Wolffe reporting in "Newsweek" that the White House and the Pentagon are already formulating contingency plans in the event of formal civil war, plans that would include moving U.S. troops out.
Both General John Abizaid and General Peter Pace warned last week that there is at least the possibility of Iraq devolving into civil war, but Secretary Rice is refusing to confirm exactly what the U.S. would do if and when that happens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS, "THIS WEEK," ABC)
GEORGE STEPHANOPULOUS, HOST: If civil war does break out, will President Bush pull troops out of Iraq?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: George, I'm not going to deal with a hypothetical. And that's what this is. This is a hypothetical.
STEPHANOPULOUS: You say it's a hypothetical, but it's an important hypothetical. If civil war breaks out, will the United States troops remain?
RICE: Well, first of all, again, it is a hypothetical, and I'm not going to comment on a hypothetical.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
OLBERMANN: Tomorrow is a hypothetical.
The president even more dismissive of the possibility of civil war, suggesting that it won't happen because no one voted for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: You know, I hear people say, well, civil war this, civil war that. The Iraqi people decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Laying aside the fact that civil war was not an option on the ballot box, let's bring in retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona.
Rick, thanks for your time tonight.
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), U.S. AIR FORCE: Sure.
OLBERMANN: A mixed message is coming from the administration about the possibility of this definition of civil war. Are those discrepancies explainable through that issue, definition? Is there some sort of formal stage at which sectarian violence becomes civil war?
FRANCONA: Well, I think most of us are looking at this, it becomes a civil war when you've got a breakdown of the standing Iraqi government. Now, people will argue that that may have already happened. But as long as there's a functioning Iraqi government there, and the institutions of the government are still intact, then we don't really have a civil war. But that doesn't lessen the amount of violence we have. There's a terrible security situation there.
OLBERMANN: Yes, the United Nations report that came out in July said
that nearly 15,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed this year, another
150,000 forced out of their homes. If that does not define civil war, what
where are we in Iraq? Is it ethnic cleansing, as in Kosovo? Is it some other term with which we're not familiar?
FRANCONA: Well, I think everybody's using the term sectarian violence. But I tend to go with the ethnic cleansing. I think you're seeing that all over the country. You're seeing it in Kirkuk between the Kurds and the Sunnis. You're seeing it in Baghdad, different neighborhoods. People are being forced out of neighborhoods because of their ethnic affiliation.
So I think we're seeing a lot of ethnic cleansing there. You're seeing these death squads operate.
But that's all still happening under the aegis of a functioning government. So, yes, we're in a terrible security situation, but I don't think we're calling it a civil war yet.
OLBERMANN: Despite the secretary's repeated reluctance to talk about hypotheticals, it appears, at least according to what Richard Wolffe has reported in "Newsweek," that the U.S. military would pull troops out of Iraq - didn't say how many or how often, how quickly - if there is some sort of determination by this government that it's a civil war there.
What would be the criteria for making that decision? Would it would have to be that there is no president of Iraq, there is no meeting government of Iraq? There are places without any kind of semblance of order?
FRANCONA: That's exactly right, when there's no order there, when the troops are being put in the middle of warring factions over which there's no control, I think that's a point you're going to see troops pulled out. And it's very important that they do that. We saw this happen to us in 1983, after we introduced the Marines into Lebanon as part of the peacekeeping force. Eventually that civil war caused us to take sides.
And if we are staying in Iraq, and there is a civil war, we will forced (INAUDIBLE) - be forced eventually to take a side, and that will lead to a real security problem for our forces, not just for the people.
OLBERMANN: This is hypothetical, this is, in fact, speculative, but based on your experience, your vast experience in that region and with the military, when they talk about, if they are making plans for the eventuality, even if they think it's a 1 percent chance, of actually having a civil war, what percentage of U.S. troops would be rescued, in effect, would be pulled out of there? Are we talking a large number, a small number? What would happen?
FRANCONA: I think you'd see virtually all of them pulled out, Keith. You don't want to have U.S. forces caught in the middle of what's going to be all this, you know, it would be a sectarian violence, it would be a bloodbath. You're going to have different factions.
And we're not going to be able to tell who's who in all of this, because it will all meld together.
So I think you'll see a real pullback, probably down into Kuwait, out of the country somehow. But that creates this big power vacuum, and then the real problems begin.
OLBERMANN: Indeed. MSNBC military analyst, retired lieutenant colonel Rick Francona. As always, Rick, great thanks for your time.
OLBERMANN: Day 27 of the war in the Middle East. The rockets keep falling, the ground war continues, the humanitarian crisis, as the president noted, deepens. Yet still, it seems no closer to anything resembling a cease-fire. We will get the very latest from the region.
And the term "Countdown exclusive" does not say enough. Countdown world exclusive? A galactic exclusive, except maybe on the planet Xenu? The first Suri Cruise tape.
First, Suri Cruise tape.
You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: On this date in 1912, the last major third political party in this country, the Progressives, better known as the Bull Moose Party, nominated former president Theodore Roosevelt for the White House. Notice the date, August 7 they nominated him. The election was just 120 days later, yet the Bull Moose Party finished second, with 27 percent of the vote, 11 times the electoral college vote of the third-place Republicans.
And Roosevelt got shot during that campaign. That's back when politics really moved.
On that note, let's play Oddball.
Thus, a special edition of Oddball politics from the oddball capital of the U.S., Florida. And here we have a debate show carried on the local cable access channel on a show called "The Bleeping Truth." Hillsboro (ph) County Commissioner candidate Joe Redner (ph) is on the left, he is debating local radio show host Tony Katz (ph). The issue of today's debate is, well, it really is irrelevant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go again. You called me a liar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:... you can't quote Ronald Reagan with me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's two things that you said about me here...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You vote, you vote (INAUDIBLE)...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:... and then you accuse me of being personal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm talking about your politics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:... you started (INAUDIBLE)...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're talking about my weight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So obviously, you have a problem...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You called me a liar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:... about the fat...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You called me a liar. I'm not a liar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:... and you get very aggressive...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I call you fat...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:... you are very aggressive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:... you are fat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are very aggressive, and it's obvious that you want to hit me, but you haven't done it yet, so we're all waiting. My advice to you is that you need to work on that control issue, and let's keep talking about the issues.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but am I a liar?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you have lied on this program about the issues.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you fat?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, hi, America (INAUDIBLE)...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me about what I lied about. And, well, you can get up and show them you're fat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you won't talk about the issues...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell them what I lied about, (INAUDIBLE)...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:... (INAUDIBLE)...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys, guys, guys, guys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), is not lying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you are, Joe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe, do it, (INAUDIBLE)...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) lied about, fat boy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, come on, Joe, please, I'm sorry, but let's not do this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's see how big you are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep your hands off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, guys, please. Folks, I'm sorry you had to see that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Tough to say who's in the wrong there. But if you really think about it, it all goes back to Geraldo Rivera. Incoming.
Also tonight, Tour de France winner Floyd Landis goes from hero to zero to conspiracy victim, says he.
Speaking of having the wrong end of the stick, there's O.J. Simpson, and someone wants us to believe he's mad enough to sue about this video. Apparently not.
But first, time for Countdown's top three newsmakers of this day.
Number three, the Hudson River manatee, you heard me, one of those thousand-pound mammals native to Florida, spotted swimming around New York City, up the Hudson River from Chelsea Pier to Tarrytown. There is no global warming. None.
Number two, Hans Hilger Ropers, director at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin in Germany. Wow. He says his latest test on mice and fruit flies suggests he may be on the verge of being able to bring a new drug to the market for human consumption. It would stabilize short-term memory and improve attentiveness. In other words, an anti-stupid pill. Added Dr. Ropers, Uh, duh, gee, Tennessee.
Number one, Steve Swoboda, a 19-year-old man who got fed up, apparently, trying to hitchhike from Kennewick (ph), Washington, to nearby Richland. When the driver of a delivery van parked the vehicle and left the keys in the ignition, Swoboda allegedly hopped in and drove off. It was a doughnut truck. It was soon followed by policemen from Richland, policemen from Kennewick, who were waiting for it. That says nothing about the Benton County sheriff's officer who joined in the chase of the doughnut truck.
Fortunately, none of the glazed doughnuts, sugar doughnuts, cream doughnuts, apple fritters, or bear claws were injured in this pursuit. Mr. Swoboda faces auto theft and felony escape charges. And that's the yeast of his problems.
OLBERMANN: As preface to another sorted scamp through a sports world sill smelling of steroids and O.J. Simpson, this cuddly note from Shea Stadium in New York. Hours after signing a six year, $55 million contract, New York Mets third baseman David Wright approached Mets media relations man, Ethan Wilson, and asked him for a copy of the press release as a souvenir. David's new around here. Unfortunately such giggling enthusiasm is not the focus of our No. 3 story, tonight. It is about the No. 2 test results from cyclist Floyd Landis while making No. 1.
After winning the Tour de France, Landis tested positive for unusually high levels of testosterone. A second test has some back suggesting the presence of synthetic testosterone. Landis had previously suggested he was just a high testosterone kind of guy or that drinking whiskey might have caused a false positive. Now he saying the French may have conspired to get him because they could not get Lance Armstrong. George Lewis reports for us tonight from Los Angeles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And is the champ a cheat?
GEORGE LEWIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Landis, accompanied by his wife, was on the morning talk shows today denying use of performance-enhancing drugs.
MATT LAUER, TODAY SHOW: Floyd, did you cheat to win the Tour de France?
FLOYD LANDIS, TOUR DE FRANCE CHAMPION: No Matt, I did not.
ALAN ABRAHAMSON, "L.A. TIMES" SPORTSWRITER: Floyd Landis unquestionably, unquestionably has a long uphill climb to restore his name and reputation.
LEWIS: As do many athletes, whether it's Barry Bonds who claims he never used steroids or runner Justin Gatlin, shown here competing in the Athens Olympics. He also denies doping.
(on camera): The World Anti-Doping Agency has a list of over 100 banned substances. Athletes know they'll be tested for these substances over and over, so why risk getting caught?
(voice-over): The author of this book says for many it's a basic business decision.
PROF. JOHN HOBERMAN, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: There are major financial incentives in some of our high-profile sports. And doping is part of the price of doing business.
LEWIS: But former marathoner, Frank Shorter, later head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, says he believes public disgust will compel a crackdown by sports that have tolerated the problem until now.
FRANK SHORTER, U.S. ANTI-DOPING AGENCY: People are fed up with doping, and to use the old analogy, the emperor has no clothes.
LEWIS: Floyd Landis says he will fight the doping charges until his appeals are exhausted. If the appeals fail he'll lose his Tour de France title and will face a four-year ban from cycling, in his case, a potential career ender.
George Lewis, NBC NEWS, Los Angeles.
OLBERMANN: Meantime, it's almost hard to remember when O.J. Simpson was a famous, even controversial, sports star. Another controversy swirls about him tonight, though it appears to have been engineered by disturbers of videotapes of him who claim he has threatened to sue. Clear is the images that - clearly is true that the images indicate Simpson has not spent his recent years hunting for the real killer, unless there are clues scattered around the country on the rear ends of various women.
Our correspondent in Miami is Michelle Kosinski.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here's O.J. Simpson at a club, O.J. in the back seat of a limo. O.J. Waiting and waiting at a bus stop in Atlanta.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: O.J.'s new lowest low.
KOSINSKI: Parts of 80 hours of O.J. video shot over four years will soon be available free for all to see on a new website. It bills itself as showing "a side of O.J. Simpson he has carefully tried to conceal for years." According to the site, "the most startling and shocking footage of O.J."
ROGER HODGES, DOCUMENTARY PRODUCER: This is the most bizarre thing I ever witnessed in my life.
KOSINSKI: Producer Roger Hodges says back in 2001, his collaborator took O.J. on a national tour with O.J.'s consent, videotaping him, and people's strong reactions.
HODGES: It's shocking, at the crowd response. For example, in Philadelphia, the crowd mobbed him like a rock star.
KOSINSKI: They say despite a threatened lawsuit from O.J., they now plan on showing it anyway on their website and in an upcoming documentary.
HODGES: I think a lot of people are going to be infuriated at that footage.
KOSINSKI: Why? Well, it's a it's for the documentary. Creators won't say why it's so shocking, only that it's very revealing. So far though, the videos show O.J. doing not much, not saying a whole lot either.
Neither Simpson nor his attorney could be reached for their reaction to all this. The website asks you to judge for yourself what you think of O.J.
HODGES: I thought, well, a lot of people, basically, have formed their opinions and 11 years later, nobody cares. Wow, was I ever wrong.
KOSINSKI: Whatever you make of it, it is a picture of the "Juice" that hasn't been squeezed out before.
Michelle Kosinski, NBC NEWS, Miami.
OLBERMANN: But, tonight Countdown with O.J. Simpson's lawyer, Yale Galanter, he said that Simpson has not and is not threatening to sue, in fact, he said the tapes were shot as part of an effort by Simpson, back in 2001 and 2002, to prove that he still is in some quarters a popular figure. Mr. Galanter also suggested given the amount of media interest he's received in these four-year-old tapes, that today might be a slow news day. Yes!
They don't see it that way in Utah. There, surgery has now begun to separate four-year-old conjoined twins, two little girls from Salt Lake City who have just one set of legs and one kidney between them. And a Countdown exclusive, a world exclusive, the first Suri Cruise tape. The long wait is nearly over. Details ahead, but first here are Countdown's "Top 3 Sound Bites" of this day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For a quarter century, Greenwell has been the campground host for what he calls the hottest campground on earth.
LEE GREENWELL, CAMPGROUND OWNER: There are some people who run around nude here, but you don't have to, it's clothing optional.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At 1:00 p.m. the temperature showed 118.
Greenwell was content in a hot tub.
GREENWELL: Just too hot them.
JON STEWART, DAILY SHOW: Demonstrations of the reality of the phenomenon known as "heat," really best left to morning shows.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know that you're from Africa. You're telling me that it's actually worst here in New York City?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, that's correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Than in Africa?
I wouldn't have believed it myself, unless I had heard it from an immigrant right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After meeting a woman at a Barbeque, Joe Dobbe typed, "I will hold you in my heart when I need inspiration." What happened is the woman who received the e-mail love letter found it so amusing, she sent it on to her sister, who sent it on to her friends and on and on, from Detroit to Dubai.
JOE DOBBE, LOVE LETTER WRITER: I've e-mails from New Zealand and Sweden and America, Canada and a lovely one from a guy in France.
OLBERMANN: Stories that could not be more dissimilar, the latest on surgery to separate conjoined twins from Utah and our world exclusive tape of the offspring of Tom-Kat. That's next, this is Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Conjoined twins are about once in every 50,000 to 100,000 births. Only 20 percent of them become viable candidates for separation and most of those undergo surgery before they are 12-months-old. But Kendra and Maliyah Herrin are four-years-old. In our No. 2 story, age just one of the things that make the ongoing attempt to liberate these girls from their four-year-long embrace a risky and heart rending medical story, among them, the fact that there are to girls and only one kidney. Our reporter is Stephanie Stanton.
STEPHANIE STANTON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a tearful parting as the four-year-old twins Kendra and Maliyah were wheeled into surgery at Primary Children's' Medical Center in Salt Lake City. A team of 30 will perform the grueling operation that could take 24 hours.
BONNIE MIDGET, PRIMARY CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: We have general surgeons, urologists, orthopedic surgeons, and plastic surgeons.
JAKE HERRIN, FATHER: Last night, they knew it was tomorrow and we asked them how they felt and they said they felt excited.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Real calm, huh? They were extremely calm.
STANTON: Fused at the torso, the girls share a kidney, liver, pelvis, part of the large intestine and a pair of legs. Surgeons plan to separate the liver and intestines and reconstruct their pelvis. Each girl will only be left with one leg. Kendra will get the kidney, while Maliyah will be put on dialysis until she can receive a transplant from her mother.
DR. REBECKA MEYERS, PRIMARY CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: We have elected not to do the transplant at the time of separation for fear that the small size of the abdominal cavity would put a lot of pressure on the new kidney.
STANTON: Doctors advised the family to wait for surgery because the girls shared a kidney. Now despite those medical concerns, the family decided the time was right to go forward with the surgery. Stephanie Stanton, NBC NEWS.
OLBERMANN: So, no easy segue to our nightly roundup of celebrity and entertainment stories, "Keeping Tabs," but the melodrama has cooled down, on day 12, though, it has hardly gone away. Another celebrity friend endorsement for Mel Gibson and some graffiti-like snarkiness (ph) from the natives.
Replace an "a" with an "e" and the site of all this, Malibu, becomes Melibu. Vowel swappers doctoring up various signs in the Malibu are demonstrating that Mr. Gibson, while breaking the law is bad, it's less bad if you're funny while you do it.
And if area commentators will not come to Gibson's defense, (INAUDIBLE) when is that video from, 1920? "People say stupid things when they happen to have a few and especially if you don't drink anymore." Does that make sense?
As to whether Gibson will again work in Hollywood, Swayze adds, "When you are a pit bull and you love what you do and continue to grow the talent will find its way out." That's right, Patrick, nobody puts Gibby in a comer.
Nobody puts Katherine Harris in a corner; she manages to do it by herself. You may recall when the Republican candidate for the Senate from Florida answered the burning question with a major announcement last March, on FOX cartoon news channel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KATHERINE HARRIS (R), FLORIDA: Let me just answer the burning question, I'm in this race and I'm going to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: She's still in the race, but now there's another question, how you pay for that possum? Ms. Harris spent Saturday afternoon at Florida's Wausau Fest were candidates for office come to see and (INAUDIBLE) varmints off for charity before releasing them into the wild. Congresswoman Harris outbid the pact for this little critter, and then hoisted him up for a glamour shot. That's Ms. Harris on the right. How much you pay for that possum? Possum: $400. Picture of yourself with a possum: Priceless.
And lastly here to Cleveland, were on Saturday, the Kiss army stormed the banks of Lake Erie. Upset that its favorite band, the spokesman for their way of heavily made-up life had not yet been inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, hundreds of face-painted soldiers congregated to Cleveland (INAUDIBLE), hoping to induct Kiss, Gene Simons' tongue, the whole band. Unfortunately the people who run the hall and make the decisions on who gets in each year are headquartered in New York. Upon realizing the error, it was back to mom's basement to unmask in time for the late night shift at the Waffle Hut.
Kiss fans will have to wait another year, but you will have to wait just one more break for the super-secret exclusive Countdown scoop, the Suri Cruse tape.
Plus a special added bonus, Britney Spears tape, completely burping (ph), no extra charge. That's ahead, but first, time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for "Worst Person in the World."
The Bronze to the "Herald-Tribune" newspaper, of Sarasota, Florida. On its website it has an interactive slideshow, 20 tips if you are angry over gas prices and want to stretch each tank of gas and avoid the poorhouse. No. 7 has a big red stop sign with the tip, "Don't stop when approaching a red light. Slow down enough to avoid having to stop. Accelerating from five to 10 miles-per-hour wastes less gas than starting from a full stop," unless the police catch you and hit you with the $200 ticket because what the "Herald-Tribune" calls "fuel saving tip No. 7" Florida law calls a "rolling stop."
Our runner-up, John Gibson, FOX News playing at facts optional, again, said on his radio show about me, not allowed to say his name, went on "He," that is me, "said the other day that he had done 218 consecutive shows at MSNBC. He didn't do 218 consecutive shows because there were plenty of days when they couldn't get him out of the bathtub and I had to do his show." John, No. 1, I didn't say I did 218 consecutive shows, as in 218 consecutive show without a day off. I said we did 218 executive shows about Clinton-Lewinsky. Of course I took days off, they're called days off.
Other point about this, you had to do the show because you were my backup here, at MSNBC - fill-in, sub, last resort.
But our winner, another notch in his infamous belt tonight, sadly this is not funny in the slightest. Talking about the 18-year-old girl abducted from New York's West side highway, later brutally raped and murdered, O'Reilly's version, "These two girls come in from the suburbs and they get bombed and their car is towed because they're moronic girls. Now Moore -
Jennifer Moore, 18, on her way to college, she was 5'2" 105 pounds wearing a mini skirt and halter top with a bare midriff. Now again, there you go, so every predator in the world is going to pick that up at 2:00 in the morning." You sick sorry excuse for a human being.
Bill O'Reilly, today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: (INAUDIBLE) celebrity culture of ours, that means that our national nightmare is now 112 days long, or as our No. 1 story in the Countdown tonight suggests, it was 112 days long. In a moment, the universal premiere of the first tape of Suri Cruise.
A rumored wedding of parents, Tom and Cruise and Katie Holmes over the weekend, did not come to pass. Suspicious? The birth certificate, of course, was not filed until May 8. More suspicious? A family source told "People" magazine the day of the birth the baby has Katie's long hair and Tom's blue eyes and there have been no photographs? Really suspicious? Three people, and three people only have publicly claimed to have seen the baby. Leah Remini: "She's just beautiful?" Penelope Cruz: "I met Suri, she's really beautiful." Jada Pinkett Smith, "She's one of the sweetest babies I've ever met?" When was the last time you claimed to have met a 3-month-old?
Most suspicious? Well, put your suspicions aside. After intense negotiations with a source by our Countdown L.A. deputy bureau chief, Katherine Turr (ph) just about 10 days ago, Countdown has been exclusively given the first exclusive tape every of the exclusive baby of Tom Cruise and Katie "exclusive" Holmes. It's brief, it's just an audiotape, the quality is not good, kind of like "War of the Worlds," but it's a tape and we'll play it for you right now. Here it is.
SURI CRUISE, BABY: (CRYING)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trust Scientology.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: We believe that was "trust scientology" and there will be analysis of that overnight. The state department has yet to authenticate that tape, a team of translators is working around the clock to confirm that last message and also decipher the first part. And our source suggests we will be given further messages from Suri Cruise throughout this week, unless those smartasses from TMZ.com beat us to it.
If we're lucky, we're thinking maybe Thursday, a burp. Fortunately we already have one of those from Britney Spears. (INAUDIBLE) of Mr. and Mrs. Federline, just sitting around the dining room table, otherwise of unknown origin and date has shown up on the internet. Michael Musto will join me in a moment, to figure this thing out, if that's even possible.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRITNEY SPEARS, SINGER: I'm ugly.
KEVIN FEDERLINE, HUSBAND: No.
SPEARS: My jaw hurts.
FEDERLINE: That doesn't mean you're ugly.
Dude, we're going to do clips of you burpin'.
SPEARS: I feel like I've been missing out on life.
FEDERLINE: Like what part of life?
SPEARS: Life. Like things and things going on. Like I feel like I'm behind or something.
FEDERLINE: Would you rather go out or would you rather go watch the movie?
FEDERLINE: Would you rater go out - if you had to go out or watch a movie, what would you want to do.
SPEARS: I'd go watch that movie and just drink at home.
Have you ever seen "Back to the Future?"
SPEARS: Is that possible? To time travel speed?
SPEARS: Yes it is, Kevin.
FEDERLINE: OK, but not that we know of.
SPEARS: Maybe - I think people can do that. I think some people are ahead of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Here's one of them, as promised, "Village Voice" columnist, Michael Musto.
Good evening, Michael.
MICHAEL MUSTO, "VILLAGE VOICE": Hi Keith.
OLBERMANN: The Britney Spears video, a few mysteries here. She says she feels ugly and says her jaw hurts. The connection there is never explained, never resolved. Do you have a suggestion?
MUSTO: Well, ugly girls have to do things with there mouths to stay popular that pretty girls don't have to do and that's really all I'm going to say about that. I want to stay tasteful (INAUDIBLE).
OLBERMANN: The belief from Miss Spears at that end there that time travel is actually being practiced by people who are, quote, as she said, "ahead of us." Did it not occur to here that one of the first 10 things any time travellers would go back and do would be to prevent her from meeting Kevin Federline?
MUSTO: Well, I actually think she'd like to travel back to three years ago when she had a career. Or maybe a year ago when she and Kevin got paid to do these silly videos, because they had a reality show that was actually televised. But as you're watching this, Kevin, what's his name, he's a little slow, but I actually think he seems sweet and maybe he's thinking "I'm the one who should be on a rocket ship to yesterday." Maybe he doesn't want to be saddled with the contentious, yet kind of likable cow. He could have just had the boozey milk.
OLBERMANN: This is also, obviously, at least prefirst pregnancy, probably, but in it (INAUDIBLE) philosophical on life and on those "things and things going on." Is this a side of her we have never seen? If we see the sweet Kevin Federline, are we seeing the thinking Britney Spears?
MUSTO: Well, if you know her body of work like I do, you know that she's capable of such thought. I mean, there was her lingerie valedictorian in the movie "Crossroads" - I can't even say it and her brilliant lyric, "I'm a slave for you," that's the No. 4, letter "u." She's basically, leachy (ph) in espadrilles, she's (INAUDIBLE) with a Maytag. She's (INAUDIBLE) with a mobile home. I could go on.
OLBERMANN: Do you have any idea as to which era, directly, this home video came from and why and how it got out and why now?
MUSTO: Well, actually, I think I actually watched this whole thing and he says at one point, "you were touring recently," so this is actually way back when she was working. And she says, "Oh, I want to see 'Back to the Future,'" Keith, that came out in '85. OK, this is 21 years old, this video, and she looks about 40, she's 61 now. No wonder she wants to time travel.
OLBERMANN: Doing the math now, it's kind of frightening. We got - tried to get a comment from Miss Spears and we have this response. We'd like your reaction to it after we play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPEARS: Huh? Huh? Huh? (BURPING)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Is that her final answer?
MUSTO: That's my Britney, the thinker. No, I think it's cute of here to quote Star Jones' wedding vows, but I don't find that definitive, I mean, three burps and four huhs would be definitive, she wavering here. She's belching up the wrong tree. I'm not buying it.
OLBERMANN: To switch gears in the final minute here, any thoughts on how soon we'll get more of this Suri Cruise audio and the content of what you heard just tonight in our world exclusive?
MUSTO: Well, as you mentioned, it's only Scientology who've forward and say, "Oh, I have seen her and she's nice." What does that mean? She doesn't have cloven hooves or something? I'd like a second opinion from a normal person. You had Armistead Maupin on this show last week and he talked about a book he wrote about a woman who would call him and then pretended to be her kid on the phone.
OLBERMANN: Called, me too, yeah.
MUSTO: Yeah. And me too, I think. I don't know. But this is the same thing exempt Katie Holmes is no Meryl Streep or Tony Tullett (ph). I mean, she can't pull it off. In between the crying you hear here chewing gum and yelling things like, "Tom, get out of my high heels," it's really armature. He's short.
OLBERMANN: I can't get over the idea that (INAUDIBLE) Michael Musto, great thanks for your time again, sir.
MUSTO: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: That is Countdown for this, the 1,194th day since the declaration of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. Keep your knees loose. I'm Keith Olbermann, goodnight and good luck.
Our MSNBC coverage continues now with "Scarborough Country."
Joe, good evening.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END