'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Sept. 13
Guests: Dana Milbank, Jonathan Alter
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The gloves are off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I'm introducing a resolution today asking for the resignation of Secretary Don Rumsfeld.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Congressman Murtha's colleagues, led by Congressman Obey, also rage at majority leader Boehner's claim that they care more about protecting terrorists than they do about protecting Americans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DAVID OBEY (D), WISCONSIN: I come from the state of Joe McCarthy, and I also know a third-rate McCarthy when I see one. And we saw one yesterday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And while the White House backs away from the third-rate McCarthy, now the speaker of the House says Capitol Hill Democrats are confused about who the enemy really is.
Clearly, the administration is confused. What part of the Senate finding that there were no ties between Iraq and al Qaeda didn't you understand?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: There were ties between Iraq and al Qaeda.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS Secretary: There was no direct operational relationship, but there was a relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Nightmare in Montreal. At least 20 wounded as a gunman dressed in black shoots up a downtown college.
This is not essential reporting, but it is Debra Lafave's first TV interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBRA LEFAVE: Yes, he wanted it, and, yes, I gave it to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And the death of the son of Anna Nicole Smith now considered suspicious.
Whitney Houston files for divorce.
And LonelyGirl15 is not 15, and not particularly lonely.
All that and more, now on Countdown.
Good evening. This is Wednesday, September 13, 55 days until the 2006 midterm elections.
Exactly what both sides will be spending the next eight weeks fighting about is still entirely up for grabs.
Our fifth story on the Countdown, the rules of engagement for the '06 elections, Republicans, now led by the speaker of the House, still equating any criticism of the war in Iraq with being soft on terrorism, Democrats steering the debate away from why we are in Iraq to how badly the administration has, well, administered the conflict itself.
For that, we begin tonight, as we must, with the defense secretary, Mr. Rumsfeld. Yet another call today on Capitol Hill for the secretary's resignation, this time in the House. Last week's push by Barbara Boxer for a vote of no confidence in the Senate was dead in the water, Congressman John Murtha, realistically expecting a similar outcome for the resolution he introduced today calling on Mr. Rumsfeld to resign. But low expectations were not enough to keep the Pennsylvania Democrat from his task.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MURTHA: I'm introducing a resolution today asking for resignation of the secretary Don Rumsfeld, to emphatically state that the global war on terror will last for years, yet fail to even acknowledge, let alone take steps to address, the Army's readiness, equipment, and personnel shortfalls, is shortsighted at best. At worst, it's unconscionable, because the future security and deterrent power of the United States is dangerously at risk.
Let me tell you, it's completely insensitive for the secretary of defense to talk to the people that he represents, the young troops who are out in the field day after day in 120 degrees, carrying 70 pounds on their back, and tell them we don't have a crystal ball. They want answers, they want to know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Democrats also eager to know why Republicans continue to escalate the hype by claiming Democrats are more caring for - more about protecting terrorists than protecting Americans, House speaker Hastert responding to the Murtha resolution by saying today, quoting, "While America is fighting the global war on terror, Capitol Hill Democrats are confused about who the enemy actually is."
Yesterday, that level of discourse the exclusive province of majority leader John Boehner, this afternoon his remarks drawing comparisons to Senator Joe McCarthy, and a cut-rate McCarthy at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBEY: I come from the state of Joe McCarthy. I know a first-rate McCarthy when I see one. And I also know a third-rate McCarthy when I see one. And we saw one yesterday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Lawmakers are also fighting today about how best to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. That's right, your tax dollars being spent arguing over how to observe an anniversary that has already come and gone, bickering at length on the House floor today over the language in a commemorative resolution, specifically, Democrats asking Republican leaders to delete a portion praising the passage of controversial laws like the PATRIOT Act, the ones Congress approved in the wake of the attacks.
Mentions of those controversial laws were not included in similar resolutions passed in '02, '03, '04, and '05.
It should therefore be no surprise that Congressman Murtha is not alone in wanting to shift the national debate away from how we should classify the war in Iraq to how the administration has executed it, a group of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans working to place some of their own ranks into government, launching a new series of campaign ads.
The first target, Senator George Allen of Virginia, Mr. Macaca himself, VoteVets.org less concerned with the Virginia Republican's name calling than with his voting record about armoring the troops.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an AK-47, the rifle of choice for terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is a vest left over from the Vietnam War. It's the protection we were given when we were deployed to Iraq.
This is modern body armor, made for today's weapons.
The difference is life, or death.
Senator George Allen voted against giving our troops this. Now it's time for us to vote against him.
ANNOUNCER: VoteVets is responsible for the content of this advertisement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Another Republican incumbent, meantime, lucky still to be in his own race for reelection, Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island surviving yesterday's primary against a far more conservative challenger, Mr. Chaffee, in so many ways a Republican in name only, having voted against the Bush administration more than any other Republican in the Senate, including against its war in Iraq, including against the president himself in the 2004 election. The senator cast a write-in ballot for Mr. Bush's father instead, yet despite all of that, the White House nonetheless backing the moderate Senator Chaffee over his challenger, Mayor Steven Laffey of Cranston, Rhode Island, the White House calculating, correctly, as it proves, that an arch-conservative like Mr. Laffey would not be able to win the general election in an overwhelmingly Democratic state, a sign of how tight the fight to control Congress has already gotten, the GOP, as always, enjoying a huge financial advantage in the race, the Republican National Committee planning to spend its entire $60 million war chest to try to help its candidates retain control of both house.
That is five times the $12 million that Democratic Chairman Howard Dean has allocated, Democrats saying they are counting on their union allies to make up the difference, the AFL-CIO alone planning to spend $40 million to get out the vote.
Time now to call in our own Dana Milbank, national political reporter for "The Washington Post."
Dana, good evening.
DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST":
OLBERMANN: One in five Americans now approving of the job that Congress is doing, that based on the latest NBC News -"Wall Street Journal" poll, which is out this evening, approve 20 percent, disapprove 65 percent, not sure pretty much not relevant.
Is that as bad for the Republicans as it might appear? I mean, some of the political cognoscenti seem to have detected a generalized lean toward the Democrat in a lot of the tight House races. Are we seeing something of a crack in the all-incumbent-stink-except-my-incumbent construction?
MILBANK: Well, it is pretty grim, to put it in perspective, that Congress is scoring about a dozen points lower than your friend Don Rumsfeld, and that's not a position you want to be in right before the election.
But, to put it in perspective, yes, it's true, the poll shows something like a 9-point advantage for Democrats, which is quite high, and that 20 percent is even worse than the 23 percent at this point in 1994.
But other trends are going in the Republicans' direction. More of the conversation, as you alluded to, is turning to terrorism, which is their strong point. Gas prices are fading as an issue as they go down. So there's a bit of good news and bad news here.
OLBERMANN: Among the Democrats, do you think Congressman Murtha might have the right idea, get everybody off national security, terrorism, and back to the specifics about Iraq, not why we are there, but how the Bush administration has handled Iraq itself? I mean, that ad from that veterans' group is just as powerful as one of those AK-47 shots.
MILBANK: Yes, it sure is. I don't understand it. I call this treason season. It's the time it happened in 2002, happened 2004, it's happening again now, when Republicans go around and say, Vote Democrat and die, essentially, that the Democrats are with the terrorists, they're not with the American people, almost the same words.
Democrats predictably respond to this by whining and saying, That's unfair, and of course we're patriotic, when in reality, that's just playing into the hands of the Republicans making the charge. They need to go there and say, and fight on the ground where they're strong, and that is Iraq, that is gas prices, Social Security, all the other domestic issues.
OLBERMANN: But when the speaker from the other point of view, the same issue from the other side of the coin, when the speaker of the House says that the Democrats don't know who the enemy are, is there not some chance that a statement that outrageous might actually hit home with people, who would say, What in the hell are you talking about?
MILBANK: Well, you'd think so, but it happened - think about all the way back to Max Cleland in 2002, when people were comparing this decorated, wounded Vietnam vet into Osama bin Laden. Now, I don't think people actually come out there and believe that the Democrats are in fact guilty of treason, but it does leave the image in the public's mind that they are weaker on terrorism.
This NBC poll is showing, like an ABC poll before, that the president's numbers improving on terrorism. I think that's no coincidence.
OLBERMANN: Give me a read on what, if we can draw anything out of the Rhode Island primary, what we can do. If you've got an overwhelmingly moderate rebel Republican incumbent in an overwhelmingly Democratic state defeating a more conservative Republican in a primary, is there any read on that in terms of the, at least the Senate elections in the fall?
MILBANK: Well, it certainly makes it much more difficult for the Democrats to pick up that seat. They've still got an even chance at it. But it was all but a Democrat seat if Laffey had won.
The other results sort of are a mixed bag. The Democrats were pretty lucky in the Maryland Senate primary and in one of the Arizona House races. They didn't do as well as they wanted in Rhode Island. They didn't get their candidate in a New Hampshire House rate.
So what we're seeing, if anything, is something of a mixed bag, and not necessarily that kind of an avalanche of the 1994 variety just yet.
OLBERMANN: Is tomorrow's political headline, as a final note, going to be the Senator Warner and colleagues alternate plan for handling terrorism that is going against the White House, which is, is that going be the big explosion tomorrow out of Capitol Hill?
MILBANK: Yes. It's behind closed doors, so you won't have a lot of footage of it. That'll keep it down a bit. But it's a tremendous dynamic there, when you think the Republicans are saying the Democrats are guilty of treason, but the folks sort of orchestrating this are Warner, McCain, and Graham, all those treasonous Republicans.
OLBERMANN: Dana Milbank of the MSNBC and "The Washington Post," a treason collective here. Remember you said that, not me. Many thanks for your time, Dana.
OLBERMANN: The Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by a Republican, tells us there is no connection between Iraq and al Qaeda and has not been one. So why have we (INAUDIBLE) heard the vice president, secretary of state, the press secretary at the White House, repeat the lie, and all doing it this week alone, playing politics with the credibility of the Oval Office even when the Oval Office gets its next resident? Is that what they're doing now?
All news is not important, but is there some meaning to the story of the notorious Florida teacher, Debra Lafave? She suggests there might be, in an exclusive interview with Matt Lauer. That is later in this news hour.
You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: If the Iraq debate seems especially exhausting, it may be due to the steady erosion of the foundation for any productive debate, facts.
Our fourth story on the Countdown tonight, the persistent lie a link, a preexisting link, between Iraq and al Qaeda. President Bush last week told CBS News, quote, "One of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." Of course, any good boss knows how to delegate the hard stuff. And so the past several days have seen a veritable assault by his staff on what, in any other plane of existence, would constitute consensus reality, the knowledge, known to the intelligence agencies of the U.S., Britain, and Israel, to the 9/11 Commission, to, most recently, the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee, and to many of your sharper domesticated farm animals, that al Qaeda and Iraq were not partners, allies, or even friends.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
RICE: There were ties going on between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime going back for a decade.
There were ties between Iraq and al Qaeda.
TIM RUSSERT, HOST: And the meeting with Atta did not occur.
CHENEY: We don't know. You've got Iraq and al Qaeda testimony from the director of CIA that there was indeed a relationship, Zarqawi in Baghdad, et cetera.
SNOW: There was no direct operational relationship, but there was a relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
OLBERMANN: What happens when reality, in the form of that Senate report, dares to intrude? Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
RUSSERT: Committee said that there was no relationship. In fact, Saddam...
CHENEY: I haven't seen the report. I haven't had a chance to read it yet.
SNOW: But the Senate report - rather than get, you know - and I don't want to get into the vagaries of the Senate report.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Let's call on Jonathan Alter, a senior editor at "Newsweek" and an MSNBC contributor, and a presidential historian, author of "The Defining Moment: FDR's 100 Days, the Triumph of Hope."
Jonathan, good evening.
JONATHAN ALTER, AUTHOR, "THE DEFINING MOMENT": Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let's start with the basics. Americans, even media types, especially in crises, historically give top government officials a presumption of credibility until proven dastardly. I mean, we remembered the "Maine" for 75 years, till it was pretty much proven the Spanish did not blow it up, it was an accident. How much of that presumption of governmental credibility remains?
ALTER: I'd say between zero and none, at least as far as the media goes, and I think any sentient American at this point, they've lost their credibility many, many times over.
Does that mean they've lost the argument? No, because, as you've been indicating, facts often don't determine the resolution of the arguments. So they could end up winning in November by distorting the argument. But on credibility and the facts, they've lost.
They remind me of, you know, a politician who's caught in bed with a prostitute, and his wife comes in and sees him, and he looks up and says to her, Who do you believe, me or your cheating eyes? You know, they don't have any credibility anymore, so they just assert something that ain't so and hope that it plays.
OLBERMANN: In particular, regarding Iraq and al Qaeda, and the link that does not exist, except in the minds, or at least the speechifying, of the administration, is the essential problem here, is the turning point, the hinge, what the noted political historian Daffy Duck called pronoun trouble? I mean, does the current administration see all terrorists as equal and one, and therefore, to them, there really is a link between all bad guys? Is it that simple?
ALTER: Yes, I think we'll see this as the period of the great conflation, that conflate, you know, people who've been fighting each other for 700 years, Sunnis and Shi'ites, and they throw them all, they lump them all together.
It's a little bit like what happened during the cold war, when all commies were the same. You know, it was about 15 years after the split between the Soviets and the Chinese communists that Washington finally acknowledged that they didn't actually like each other. Before that, it was all commies are all the same.
It helps to unify the country to fight by lumping everybody in together. So that's part of what's happening.
Look, (INAUDIBLE), Keith, most people aren't paying a lot of attention to all this head-slamming at the line of scrimmage in Washington. The Republicans just want to get through one message, We want to kill the terrorists more than the other guys. The Democrats, in turn, want the message to be, The war in Iraq is a disaster.
So everything that you're hearing from the Republicans is just to drive home that first message.
OLBERMANN: Let's look long term. How much do you think the undermining of consensus reality threatens this country's ability to engage in meaningful debate about threats we face, whether they're terrorists, otherwise, whatever next comes down the pike?
ALTER: It's a tremendous problem, because if you move from an evidence-based foreign policy, or domestic policy, to a - what you could call a faith-based policy, which takes you out of the realm of facts, out of the realm of rational policy-making that gone on in both Democratic and Republican administrations for many, many years, you're into a whole different place.
You know, the author Ron Susskind heard about three years ago from an official in the Bush White House, Hey, you guys aren't relevant anymore. You're in what he called the reality-based community.
We've moved to a different place. So they're recognizing that facts are for wimps, and that, you know, strength belongs to people who can craft the truth for their own purposes.
The problem is, that way eventually lies tyranny, not here in the United States, but in a larger cosmic sense. If you lose a common ground of facts on which to move forward as a society, nobody can agree on anything, and you can't pull together to solve problems.
OLBERMANN: But everybody who's tried that here, dating back to the Alien and Sedition Acts, and at 1801, eventually there's been a tipping point in which that faith-based reality has evaporated. Is there a tipping point coming? Is there something to wake people up about this?
ALTER: Oh, I think we've woken up. And that's the good news, Keith. You know, you have a president who is at historically low levels of popularity. When we see that he went up a little bit in a last couple days, it takes our eye off the ball. The American people figured this out after Katrina. That was the tipping point.
So he is - he will be seen as incompetent no matter what he says, no matter what kind of arguments he makes, and even if the Democrats hold onto Congress.
OLBERMANN: I agree with you on the timing of that. It's just like all tipping points, it may not be measured immediately.
Jonathan Alter of "Newsweek" and MSNBC, as always, sir, great thanks for your time.
ALTER: Thanks a lot, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Also tonight, a gunman shooting at random on a college campus, sending fear rippling through the city of Montreal. At least one woman is dead. We will have the latest on the rampage at Dawson College.
And bizarre turns by the hour in the investigation of the death of the son of Anna Nicole Smith. Suddenly, it may be a criminal probe, and word, late word, that she had to be sedated in the aftermath of his death, and has now had memory loss.
Details ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: The actress Jacqueline Bissett was born on September 13, 1944. She underscores how important a name can be. She was born Winifred Jacqueline Bissett. I mean, would her impact have been the same as Winny Bissett? I mean, mean, if - Well, of course it would have. What the hell am I talking about?
Let's play Oddball.
We begin 11 kilometers off the Norwegian coast, where the country is about to take a bold new step in energy, the floating windmill. Wheee. Why do we care about this? Because they made this cool-assed computer animation for us, that's why. Clearly, this is what it will look like when a perfect storm hits Norway, floating windmills taking advantage of devastating winds, sending gigawatts of power to shoreline communities, where homeowners will be able to have the lights on just as the storm rips their roofs away.
To Santa Cruz, Brazil, for highlights from the big soccer match. Why do we care about this? Because it was the first time a female referee had officiated at a Brazilian national championship game, and because the ball boy there just put the biscuit in the basket by accident. No big deal, except that referee, Sylvia Rajina de Olivera (ph), came downfield to say it counts. Goal!
Seems she had her back turned when the youngster put the ball in the goal. She only saw it in there, and put one on the board for the home team, and the game ended 1-1. And there you have it, the last Brazilian championship game ever officiated by Sylvia Rajina de Olivera. Hope you Tivoed it.
Finally, to Rajkak (ph), India, for another guy swallowing swords.
What makes this any more impressive than the guy we showed you last night? This is magician Hasmouk Bahai Deliwalla, and he is completely blind. How does he do it? Deliwalla has been entertaining crowds for more than six years, performing all sorts of tricks, including his most dangerous stunt, swallowing razor blades. Look at him - OK, not, not to cut your livelihood, sport, but you're clearly spitting the razor blades into the cup. What a ripoff. Then again, he's still more talented than David Copperfield.
This is not a segue, the - Oh, hell, we'll stop pretending. It's a segue. Ex-teacher Debra Lafave's first TV interview ahead.
And only in Hollywood. A ritzy boutique suing a magazine because the boutique is not getting enough attention when the celebs stop there.
Details coming up.
But now, time for Countdown's top three newsmakers of this day.
Number three, Tom DeLay. The ousted House majority leader had taken solace when a Texas judge threw out one of the two conspiracy charges in his fundraising scandal. Today, the state's highest criminal appeal court says it is considering reinstating that conspiracy charge.
Number two, Troy Stewart of Lantana, Florida. He decided that the way to help his 10-year-old daughter, Megan, cure her fear of heights was for the two of them to jump hand in hand 20 feet a bridge into the Intracoastal Highway - Waterway, rather. Megan's fine, Dad broke his leg.
Number one, Thomas Vogel of Germany. On national television there, he has broken the world record. It was 42 in 60 seconds. Mr. Vogel managed 56 in 60 seconds. Managed 56 what? Managed to unhook 56 bras using only one hand in 60 seconds. And no, you don't want to know what he's doing with the other hand.
OLBERMANN: We are not going to pretend that what follows is essential journalism, but there is something of value in our third story on the Countdown.
The notorious Florida school teacher Debra LaFave interviewed by Matt Lauer, perhaps that something is, as you hear a reminder that an unreported sexual assault on a 13-year-old girl can provoke a decade later a sexual assault on a 14-year-old boy.
MAT LAUER, "TODAY": So why do you think you got all the attention?
DEBRA LAFAVE, HAS SEX WITH STUDENT: I don't know.
LAUER: I'll say it, do you think it's because you're pretty?
LAFAVE: I think so. And sex sells.
LAUER (voice-over): She wasn't the first teacher or the last to be arrested for seducing a student, but Debra LaFave's looks and the sexy photos of her that exploded onto the web made her case an international sensation.
(on camera): There are some people out there who say this is every 14-year-old boy's fantasy. Did you hear that?
LAFAVE: Yeah, I think it's stupid. I can't think of any other word to describe it. I think it's ridiculous.
LAUER (voice-over): In this, her first-ever television interview, Debra LaFave paints a very different picture. She says she was a troubled young woman plagued by mental illness and by memories of being raped at age 13.
LAFAVE: The first time that it happened was in school. He forced me into a bathroom and began to rape me and a teacher walked in and she let us off the hook.
LAUER (on camera): When you say she let "us" of the hook. And what did you do wrong, why did she have to let you off the hook?
LAFAVE: Well, she had no clue that I was being raped. You know, she, I'm assuming thought he were just messing around.
LAUER: Why didn't you say this boy is raping me?
LAFAVE: It just doesn't happen like that. I had a lot of fear. You know when somebody has that kind of control over you, especially at 13, I didn't tell anybody.
LAUER: Who was this young man in your life, was he someone you were close with?
LAFAVE: Yeah, he was one of my boyfriends.
LAUER (voice-over): Debra says she struggled against depression, phobias and wild mood swings but still managed to start a career and marry the man of her dreams, then in the spring of 2004, her second year of teaching, she seemed to spiral out of control.
(on camera): You started smoking, listened to rap music, teachers and other people had said you started to dress extremely provocatively at school, perhaps inappropriately, did anyone talk to you?
LAFAVE: I just shrugged it off. You know, I felt for the first time I was confident and, you know, I was beautiful and I was going to wear nice clothes and do my make-up and do my hair.
LAUER: That's interesting because at the very moment you were standing on the edge of a cliff, basically.
(voice-over): Debra, age 23 was spending more and more time with a student age 14. She claims he became flirtatious, as a teacher she should have known just what to do, but she did the opposite.
(on camera): As the flirtation continued and I would imagine at some point here, Debbie, you had to return the flirtation?
LAFAVE: Of course.
LAUER (voice-over): Looking back, Debra now says her mental state was deteriorating as her attraction to the boy was growing.
(on camera): Did you and this student have open conversations about the fact that you two might be getting into very dangerous territory?
LAFAVE: You know, there was very little conversation to be honest with you. You know, looking back he was 14, you know, what is there really to say to a 23-year-old.
LAUER: What did you have in common?
LAUER (voice-over): And yet she was about to take another, much more dangerous step.
(on camera): At one point you invited him to your classroom.
LAUER: And you kissed him?
LAUER: What did you guys say after you kissed?
LAFAVE: There wasn't anything to say. It was, at that point, it just turned into a little school girl crush.
LAUER (voice-over): A week or so after the classroom kiss, as summer vacation started, the boy was staying at the home of his cousin in Ocala, 100 miles for the of Tampa. On June 3, while her husband was at work, Debra drove up there. She picked up the boy and her cousin and took them back to her apartment. They ordered pizza and a movie on Pay-Per-View, the title, "Stuck on You." Then while the cousin watched TV, Debra took the boy upstairs to the bedroom.
LAUER (on camera): What happened there?
LAFAVE: Pretty much it was oral sex. Yeah, he wanted it. And yeah I gave it to him.
LAUER (voice-over): Ten days later, June 14, she invited him to help her clean her classroom and crossed yet another line.
LAFAVE: And that was the first time.
LAUER (on camera): You had intercourse with him at school?
LAUER: Fourteen-year-old boy, very attractive 23-year-old teacher, he's had sex with you, weren't you scared to death he would tell someone?
LAFAVE: Obviously not because we did it again.
LAUER: And again.
LAFAVE: And again.
OLBERMANN: A completely different crisis at another school today, shots ringing out of a junior college campus in Montreal sending hundreds of students and teachers running from their lives. The latest from Dawson College, in a moment.
And the investigation in the Bahamas into the death of Anna Nicole Smith's son getting more and more curious. The prospect of criminal charges and late news of memory loss by Miss Smith. We'll sort that out. Details ahead, but first here are Countdown's "Top 3 Sound Bites."
ROSIE O'DONNELL, THE "VIEW": Here's what you do for diaper rash. You get a friend who's just had a baby, the dog that's had babies, you bring your baby over with the puppies, you let the baby naked, and the dog will lick the baby's hiney. This is what a doctor told me because there's anti-acceptic on the dog's tongue, and the diaper rash will go away. You don't believe me but I tried it.
JON STEWART, "DAILY SHOW": The president did shrewdly hire an actual celebrity translator, thought, to help him get his message across.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good evening. Five years ago this day, September the 11th was seered into America's memory.
LITTLE RICHARD, MUSICIAN: Look out! Look out!
BUSH: Today we are safer, but we are not yet safe.
RICHARD: Help me! Somebody help me!
BUSH: For America 9/11 was more than a tragedy, it changed the way we look at the world.
RICHARD: Mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce. Woo!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first words out of my mouth I don't dare repeat on camera, but you can probably figure out what they were.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dave was looking at this little guy, a white buffalo calf, it's not the first time he's seen one here. "Miracle," the white buffalo was born 12 years ago and drew international attention, the calf is unrelated to "Miracle," who died two years ago and is now stuffed and standing in their gift shop.
OLBERMANN: Gunfire on a college campus. Several unexpected, perhaps, criminal twists in the death of the son of Anna Nicole Smith. New ones coming in as we speak.
And you knew here as Brie, turns out "Lonelygirl15"'s real name is Jessica and her real story is remarkably mercenary. That's next, this is Countdown.
OLBERMANN: It has been an easy criticism to make. In the last year, there had been at least four major incidents involving shootings at high school and middle schools in this country with its comparatively lax gun restrictions, but none since 1999 in Canada with its comparatively strict gun restrictions.
Our No. 2 story in the Countdown, sadly that equation changed today at a junior college in the heart of the city of Montreal. Our correspondent is Ron Allen.
RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was about 1:00 in the afternoon when gunfire erupted at the school at the heart of downtown Montreal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That college is a scene of chaos and fear and bloodshed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a machine-gun and he shot the people right next to us. We were all running, we were hiding in the bushes and there was debris flying from the bullet shots right next to us.
ALLEN: The rampage apparently came to a head in the cafeteria. The gunman firing randomly or targeting students lying on the floor witnesses said, killing one woman, at least 20 injured, some critically. He was addressed in a long dark coat, knee-high boots, a Mohawk haircut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was random, no, he wasn't seeking anybody at all. The school has more than 10,000 students, hundreds flooded into the streets, immediately evoking memories of the Columbine massacre.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw one dead person lying on the street besides the police car in front of the entrance of Dawson.
ALLEN: Chaos and fear shocking a country where guns usually are not an issue. Police responded unsure of the number of gunmen, students described what seemed like a second or even a third shooter.
VVAN DELORITIE, MONTREAL POLICE CHIEF: The crime scene is very big. We have to check a lot of things inside and we are inside to look if there is someone else in the buildings.
ALLEN: Montreal residents ever mindful of a mass murder nearly 20 years ago, 14 female students died as a killer roamed a building some 45 minutes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel disgusted, I feel sad. I feel worried. I just - I'm wondering if it's ever going to be the same.
ALLEN: For now no one seems to have any idea why.
Ron Allen, NBC NEWS, New York.
OLBERMANN: Unfortunately, there is a segue into our roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, tonight. The depth of the son of Anna Nicole Smith has moved from mysterious to suspicious and mysterious. Authorities now saying criminal charges may be filed. One of her lawyers saying Miss Smith has suffered memory loss in the wake of her son's death.
Twenty-year-old Daniel Smith died Sunday in his mother's hospital room in the Bahamas having visited her following the birth of her daughter. Now the Bahamian coroner, Linda Virgil says, "We know the cause of death, but we need to confirm it with a toxicology report."
Authorities have confirmed that a third person was in the hospital room at the time, not on the hospital staff. The Royal Bahamian Police say they know who that person is, will not reveal the information. Smith's attorney Michael Scott says that other person was another of her attorneys, Howard K. Stern.
Authorities maintain no evidence of any physical injury to Smith nor signs of illegal drug use, however the celebrity website, TMZ.com claims that personnel onboard Mr. Smith's flight to the Bahamas have been questioned, alcohol may be a factor.
Miss Smith had noticed her son slumped in a hospital chair when she called for help. Hospital staff unable to revive him. Miss Smith's lawyer, that would be Mr. Scott, tonight saying, she had to be sedated to cope with the aftermath of her son's death and later suffered memory loss, cannot recall details of the death.
If at a formal inquest, scheduled for October 23, jurors determined a crime was committed the case will be forwarded Bahamian attorney general.
Lighter news, not for her obviously, but Whitney Houston has filed for divorce after several domestic incidents, claims of crack addiction, stints in rehab, one trial separation, she is getting off the Bobby Brown rollercoaster. There's no word yet on what eventually made her file separation papers after 14 year of marriage, nor how she told Mr. Brown it was all over, but we're guess went something like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITNEY HOUSTON, SINGER: Kiss my ass!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: So, breaking up is hard to do, but getting together is a synch, at least if you're Meredith Vieira finally joining the team of the "Today" show. Didn't know if you heard about this, that it was going to happen. She began dawn patrol, this morning, easing into the spot vacated by Katie Couric completing the game of high-stakes musical chairs that began when Dan Rather left the anchor chair at CBS.
The "Today" show stayed on top even after Ms. Couric's departure last May ,it was eager, though, to bring on its co-host and it's now electronic, super international, galactic set. For the all-important on-camera chemistry, you can judge for yourself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAUER: And I couldn't be happier than to welcome the woman who is sitting next to me to our family and to our team. Meredith Vieira is here, and it's great to have you here.
MEREDITH VIEIRA, "TODAY": I feel it's like the first day of school and I'm sitting next to the cutest guy, you know, in class. That's you.
LAUER: And you can stay.
VIEIRA: I'm so happy. I can't tell you. I'm so excited.
LAUER: I have not been more excited to come tore work since the day after Bryant announced he was leaving.
VIEIRA: I'm going to be the "broad" in broadcasting.
LAUER: No, don't do that.
All of these people will be in your dressing room for a little gathering after the show.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Oh, here we go and then there is of course our own tabloid Ian nominee, MSNBC's Tucker Carlson, dancing with the star. Hey, you know, if you want people to think you're Fred Astaire, you got to look like Fred Astaire. Put on a jacket.
Also, any dance the man spends part of which in a chair is by definition a lap dance, lap dancing with the stars!
Nonetheless the once sports gambling website has increased the odds against him winning to 6,000 to one. Tucker is expected to advance because nobody likes Joey Laurence anymore.
Meanwhile, if you were astonished by the performance of former NFL star, Emit Smith, ask yourself this question. What do you suppose a football running back did for a living? Dancing and in a crowd with as many as 21 other men, most of whom are trying to knock him down. Fancy footwork with just one other pair of feet to worry about, would be by comparison, a cakewalk.
Are vote them off reality shows legit? If not, they've go nothing on the Internet. "Lonelygirl15," you knew there was something wrong with this. We'll tell you what it was, but first time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for "Worst Person in the World."
Average customer review at Amazon, 4.5 stars out of five! How many reviews?
Ok, two, you happy?
The Bronze tonight to the Animal Agricultural Alliance, trade association for cattle and dairy companies. It was this group that circulated the quote from the president of the Humane Society, Wayne Pacelle, suggesting we stop calling dogs "dogs" and start calling them "Canine-Americans." He was joking. The Animal Agricultural Alliance made it like he was serious. We made him Mr. Pacelle one of the yesterday's worst and we shouldn't have, that's our bad but, Animal Agricultural Alliance: No! No! Bad trade association.
A runner-up tonight, an unnoted Australian man under investigation in Sidney accused of sending some e-mails spam last year, offering Viagra - two 2 billion e-mails - billion. OK, that would account for the ones I got, now how about everyone else?
But our winner, Mitch Cozad, the backup punter for the football team at the University of Northern Colorado, well, he was until he was expelled from school yesterday. He was not happy being the black-up, the starting punter, Raphael Mendoza, so police alleged, Cozad, wearing a hood over his head, waited for Mendoza in a parking lot and stabbed Mendoza in his punting leg. So, apart from going all Tonya Harding on him, Mitch, did it ever occur to you that they might have thought you had a motive?
Mitch Cozad, today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: So fellow geeks, you thought Brie the lonely girl looked way too old to be 16, you were right. If you're presumption of what the scam was is probably wrong. And if you're wondering how so many celebrity photos, Internet and otherwise, just the happen to show the celebrities shopping, turns out you were right about that as well.
Our No. 1 story in the Countdown, a tale that reminds us that suspiciousness and even paranoia, especially about the Internet and the media, is often entirely appropriate whether they're out to get you or not. "Lonelygirl15" turns out to be Jessica 19 or maybe older, her story in the moment. First Peter Alexander from Los Angeles on the paparazzi boutique complex and the scandal that has busted a scam wide open.
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Hollywood, where the stars shop is just as important as what the stars wear. Celebrity magazines are peppered of photos of the rich and famous with shopping bags in hand. Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Simpson.
(on camera): Every time a celebrity walks out of a store, it seems like there's a camera waiting. Mine should be here any moment. Each shot can be worth tens of thousand dollars to the paparazzi, to the magazine, and yes, to the store.
(voice-over): But, did you ever wonder how the paparazzi know where the stars are shopping to get that money shot? It's no coincidence. For the stores, it is big business.
TUAN PHAM, PAPARAZZI: There's a store honor that wants to give us a heads up because they want some publicity in their store or a restaurant. One hand greases the other and you know, we're all part of a big entertainment wheel that help each other out.
ALEXANDER: But, one of L.A.'s hippest hot spot is complaining that wheel just stop. Kitson, a boutique favored by the stars, is now suing "Us Weekly" a magazine all about stars. The store isn't upset by what the magazine is writing about them, but that "Us Weekly" isn't writing about them at all. Barely a single mention in months, they claim, not even in captions as the magazines normally would. Kitson's owner says its costing him $10,000 dollars a week. "Us Weekly" calls the lawsuit frivolous and completely without merit. It's the ultimate in product placement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just seeing a picture of a celebrity leaving a shop brings in hundreds of Web sales for us, people in from the Midwest, people from other countries, all around the world, just want a little bit of what every celebrity has.
ALEXANDER: Here in Hollywood, everyone wants the credit. But for now, one store claims it is being left on the cutting room floor. Peter Alexander, NBC News, Hollywood.
OLBERMANN: It turns out all Jessica Rose really wanted was to be famous enough to have somebody waiting outside a famous store to snap her picture. She was "Lonelygirl15" of Internet fame. And then there were her three producers. The rest of the story from the one and only George Lewis, who really is George Lewis.
JESSICA ROSE, BLOGGER: I'm recording live from my bedroom.
GEORGE LEWIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: She said her name was Brie (ph), a lonely teenager with problems relating to people her own age.
ROSE: I was born in America and then I moved to New Zealand when I was eight.
LEWIS: Hundreds of thousands of fans have looked at her Internet videos. But some of the fans started getting suspicious. Was Brie, "Lonelygirl15" real or a hoax?
ROSE: I guess this whole putting personal that is up on the internet thing was not such a good idea.
LEWIS: They traced Brie's e-mail address not to some only a teenager, but to the Creative Artists Agency in Beverly Hills. It turns out the agency represents Brie's creators, three aspiring screenwriters in their 20s.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the end, we're doing the right thing.
LEWIS: Miles Beckett (ph) is a medical doctor who turned to show biz.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our intent from the very beginning of this was to tell a very realistic fictional story.
LEWIS: And they did it on a shoe string. Greg Goodfried (ph) is a lawyer in his other life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This project was done in a bedroom with $130 Web cam and two desk lamps.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We basically went out and got things to make it look like a 16 year-old girl's apartment.
LEWIS: The girl is an actress named Jessica Rose. Fans discovered some of her old head shots and even did a video expose.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am going to expose "Lonelygirl15" for the liar she actually is.
LEWIS: The guys who created Brie are not intimidated. They are now launching a Lonely Girl Web site. In the Internet age, everyone gets more than their fifteen megabytes of fame. George Lewis, NBC News, Los Angeles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breaking news. Oh, this should be rich. Obviously something of monumental, earth shattering importance or they wouldn't have that earth there, shattering. It's earth shattering breaking news. Oh do tell me.
OLBERMANN: Tucker Carlson got voted off "Dancing with the Stars." The good news is he has an offer to become a professional lap dance recipient. That's Countdown for this, the 1,229th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night, and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END