'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Nov. 22
Guests: Richard Wolffe, Lawrence O'Donnell, Harvey Levin
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Is the president really negotiating through intermediaries with the insurgents in Iraq? And planning on using Saddam's former right-hand man, Tariq Aziz, to negotiate with the Ba'ath Party? And how on earth would Mr. Bush sell this to his critics, never mind his base?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am granting a full (INAUDIBLE) presidential pardon so they can live out their lives as safe as can be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That might work.
Inside the Charles Rangel call for a draft. Political provocation, or is he serious? And how fast would the rioting in the streets start?
There's no putting this guy in a Ziploc bag. The Simpson "If I Did It" saga continues, with Simpson speaking the day after he said he legally couldn't speak. It wasn't a confession, he says. He did get paid, he says. Sorry, he says. He's already spent the money.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O.J. SIMPSON: I made it clear that I thought it was blood money. I (INAUDIBLE), I participated. I participated for a financial (INAUDIBLE) for a financial decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And the other story that won't go away, the hecklers in the Michael Richards disaster speak. They've hired Gloria Allred as their attorney. She wants a cash settlement from Richards for their pain, though she has not mentioned a lawsuit. Kyle Das (ph) did mention what Richards said before the tape begin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KYLE DAS: He flipped me off, and he said, F-you N-word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Not weird enough for you? How about our holiday gift to you, some bonus Oddball turkeys. Blowed 'em up real good.
All that and more, now on Countdown.
One hundred and forty thousand U.S. troops in Iraq who will not be home for the holidays this year, nearly 2,900 soldiers killed in the conflict who will never be coming home again.
One American president for whom this Thanksgiving is the same as any other.
Our fifth story on the Countdown, despite increasing pressure to do something, anything, about Iraq, and dicey Internet reporting that the something may ultimately involve negotiating with insurgents and Ba'athists, the only lifesaving action undertaken by President Bush today taken on behalf of poultry.
Cue the annual pardoning of the turkeys in the White House Rose Garden, the legal pardoning of the turkeys anticipated more towards the middle of January 2009, Mr. Bush granting clemency to both the lead bird at the ceremony, Flyer, as well as a backup bird named Fryer.
With that urgent business dispatched, it was time to dispatch himself and the first lady to Camp David for the holiday, Iraq on hold for another four days at least, and counting, the U.N. counting more than 3,700 civilian deaths there in October, the highest monthly number since the war began, sectarian violence showing no signs of letting up with the killing of a popular Iraqi comedian on Monday and the attempted assassination of the Iraqi speaker of parliament yesterday, a car bomb detonating in his motorcade inside the supposedly secure Green Zone, the administration officials here possibly finally catching on to the need for drastic diplomatic changes in Iraq, on the Huffington Post Web site, antiwar advocate and former California state legislator Tom Hayden reporting that the Bush administration is secretly negotiating with Sunni Arab guerilla groups with an eye towards a possible eventual U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, and that it may also yet turn to Saddam Hussein's former deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, to negotiate with former Ba'ath Party officials, a growing chorus of voices, led by Congressman Charles Rangel, convinced now that were the burdens of this conflict being shouldered equally, we would not even be at war in the first place, quoting the veteran New York Democrat, "There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would have never invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to Congress, if indeed we had a draft."
Two weeks after the midterms, this president named Bush, now less poplar than the last president named Bush, his father, of course, a new poll by Opinion Research for CNN showing that only one in four Americans believe Bush 43 is a better president than Bush 41, 59 percent now disapproving of the current president's job performance.
Let's call in our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek," and back in Washington now after having traveled with the president on his tour of Vietnam.
Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "NEWSWEEK" MAGAZINE:
Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: When the president goes to Jordan next week to meet with the Iraqi prime minister, can he really come away from those talks without announcing anything substantive? Is not the pressure too great right now to do something?
WOLFFE: You're right, yes, he has to announce something. Now, the White House is trying to tamp down expectations and say, There's not going to be some big news out of it.
Actually, I think there probably is going to be some news, and the news is going to revolve around what security functions Iraq and the Iraqi government can take over from American troops, not a plan for withdrawal, nothing like it, but a sign of some kind of progress, and more importantly, a sign that the president is trying to take control of at least the politics of this, if not the action on the ground.
The important thing here is, we're entering the sort of season for Iraq reports from Jim Baker, from the Pentagon, from the national security team, of course from Democrats in Congress. And the president wants to get out there in front of them and show some independence, show he's still the president and the decider on this.
OLBERMANN: (INAUDIBLE), about the supposed negotiations with possibly the Ba'athists, the insurgents, the items floated in Tom Hayden's blog, A, are they happening, and B, are they ever going to pass muster, or is the idea even going to pass muster with the base, with the neocons, with the vice president?
WOLFFE: Well, most of those groups you just mentioned, not including the insurgents, of course, have suffered a steep decline in their influence inside the White House. And remember, one of the open debates coming off this election was whether Karl Rove's Iraq strategy helped or hurt the party.
And, of course, the one point of agreement for most congressional Republicans is, they think it hurt the party, especially, you know, the sight of seeing Rumsfeld fired after the election, not before it.
So the politics it of is less relevant than it's ever been, and I'm not sure it was terribly relevant to begin with for this president.
But the question about negotiating with insurgents has been an open one for a long time. These negotiations have been happening. Well before President Bush said - made the distinction between terrorists and insurgents, military officials on the ground were reaching out to the former Ba'athists, because they knew that the decision to disband the Iraqi army, to de-Ba'athify the Iraqi government, was a big strategic mistake, and they've been trying to make up for that for the best part of three years.
OLBERMANN: Let's negotiate with them there so we don't have to negotiate with them here. The Republican congressman Chris Shays said on this network last night that the Democrats now own this war as much as the administration does. Richard, is that going to be the Republican line on this for the foreseeable future, the Democrats are now in charge of Congress, so its their responsibility to get us out of Iraq?
WOLFFE: Well, if I were Chris Shays and I'd just sort of survived by a hair's breadth, then I'd be saying the same thing. Yes, they want to co-opt everyone. They want to get the Democrats into this, the Egyptians, the Saudis, anyone they can find. And honestly, that's a sensible strategy.
But politically, this is always going to be President Bush's war, and the Republicans' war, by extension. So, you know, nice try, Chris, but I don't think it's going to work, for some time anyway.
OLBERMANN: Is it a coincidence that the president seems to have been taking more foreign trips than he previously had, and are we going to see that continue, just to keep him out of way, keep his face off the domestic map?
WOLFFE: Well, these kind of trips that we're just seeing now were
long - scheduled long ago. These are international conferences. Amman is
was a late addition. But, look, the traditional pattern here is that second-term presidents like to travel. For those of us who got home at 4:00 this morning, we have a different feeling.
OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of MSNBC and "Newsweek." As always, great thanks. Get some rest, and have a great Thanksgiving.
WOLFFE: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Turning now to another major variable that could dramatically alter the course of the war in Iraq, not to mention potential conflicts, the possibility of reinstating the military draft.
To discuss that, we're joined now political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell, frequent contributor, of course, to the HuffingtonPost.com.
Good evening to you, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Should Congressman Rangel's draft proposal actually be taken seriously when the new session of Congress begins? And how would serious discussion of a draft change the debate about an exit strategy for Iraq? How would it affect any future military action that the administration might be contemplating against, say, Iran or North Korea?
O'DONNELL: I think it should be taken seriously this time. And Charlie Rangel seems to be taking it seriously this time. He proposed it a few years ago, Keith, and let on right away that he wasn't serious. He was just trying to make the point that the burden of this war is not fairly shared in this country.
This time he's very serious. He's already introduced a bill. It's specific. It says absolutely no deferments except for health and conscience. He would allow conscientious objectors.
And I actually think it would be a good thing, a smart thing, for the Democrats, for Nancy Pelosi, to allow this bill to be debated on the House floor. It has no chance of passing. But the debate would focus the issue of what is going on in Iraq now, and who are we asking to do the job there?
We are at the can't leave, can't win stage. That's what Henry Kissinger has described it as, that we can't win this war, but we can't leave. And we can't leave for face-saving reasons, we can't leave because Iraq will become destabilized, never mind that it's not stabilized now.
And never mind that that's exactly what Henry Kissinger said about Vietnam. a country that two American presidents now have just successfully visited two terms in a row without any incident, because it is one of the most stable countries in the region, after Henry Kissinger said that was impossible.
So we now know where we are in this war. We know exactly where we are. It is the echo of John Kerry's line about Vietnam, we're at the stage where we can fairly ask ourselves, Who is going to be the last soldier who dies for a mistake? And we should ask ourselves how that soldier got there, and why it's not a member of our family.
OLBERMANN: In that context, is it necessary to look at Rangel's proposal to some degree as being akin to Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal," was, is the analogy has been made many places, from the 18th century, that the problem to the famine problem, you know, the solution to the famine problem (INAUDIBLE) in Ireland at that time was for the Irish to eat their own children?
O'DONNELL: Exactly. We're at that point, Keith, where there are no good ideas. And the draft may not be a good idea, and it may not be something I would actually support or vote for if I was in the Congress, but I would want to hear the debate, the debate that centers on the question of who are we putting out there, who is now in the line of fire in a war that America has turned against, and does not believe it can win?
And morally, how do we leave those people in that line of fire? And is it something we're able to do because we don't know them, because 99 percent of this country has no relationship to anyone serving in Iraq, don't - they don't have friend - a friend there, they don't have a family member there?
This is something we have to confront. This is a moral question now, because it's very clear, we're not going to have anything that we can call a win there. And once you know that about a military exercise, you have a very difficult case in justifying why military lives should continue to be risked.
We have - because we have an all-volunteer Army, we have separated - we have segregated the military culture in this society from the rest of the society. And they know it. A military relative of mine put it this way to me recently when I was visiting an Army base, said that the American military is at war, but America is not at war.
They feel this segregation. They know they're being sent to do a job that none of us would consider doing. All of us political pundits in makeup on chat shows are unanimous in one characteristic, Keith, and that is that we are combat cowards. Not one of us has ever been in combat, every one of us has avoided service in the war of our generation, every one of us who comes on these shows to talk about this.
And to those who come on these shows now and want to say, We can't leave, but, you know, we might not win, I have to say to them, Why aren't you in Iraq now? And if you're too old, why weren't you in Vietnam? Why weren't you in the war that came your way? Why is this something we can delegate to other people, to be in wars that we know we're going to lose, and we know we're going to lose lives while we're watching ourselves lose?
OLBERMANN: There are political questions to follow up on that, but I think it would be impolite and disrespectful to the great point that you just made to ask them here. So we'll (INAUDIBLE)...
O'DONNELL: Keith, on the eve of a family holiday, this country has to think about this.
OLBERMANN: Lawrence O'Donnell, political analyst, contributor to The Huffington Post. Great thanks for that point. And have a happy Thanksgiving.
It will not be one for antiwar protesters. Lisa Myers next with an exclusive report on how the government has been tracking nonviolent antiwar groups in a secret database, as if they were criminals.
Besides the hints from the guys who heckled Michael Richards that they may sue him, a report tonight that one of his standup acts early this year included anti-Semitic rages.
And another holiday from reality for O.J. Simpson. Tuesday, he was saying he was legally muzzled from talking about this book fiasco. Today, he talks about it anyway, and blames the Goldmans.
You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: It is, perhaps, the most absurd of the many parallels between the current conflict in Iraq and the war in Vietnam, the U.S. military spying on American citizens who are doing nothing more than peacefully lodging protests.
In our fourth story on the Countdown, a year after we first learned of the existence of a secret Pentagon database logging the efforts of such threats to democracy is a Quaker educational meeting in Florida, we're learning more tonight about who specifically was targeted, and what other government agencies may have helped with the surveillance.
Senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers has our report.
LISA MYERS, NBC SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At universities across the country, an antiwar group called Veterans for Peace has staged protests by setting up crosses for soldiers killed in Iraq. In New Mexico last year, the local paper described the event as a "display of honor."
But this previously secret Pentagon intelligence report labeled that same event a "threat to military facilities." The report lists the group's upcoming events and warns that while it's a peaceful organization, "there is potential future protests could become violent."
MICHAEL MCPHEARSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VETERANS FOR PEACE: No, we're not a threat to military installations. We're not trying to blow anything up or anything of that nature.
MYERS: The leader of Veterans for Peace is a former Army captain whose son recently returned from Iraq.
MCPHEARSON: It angers me that the rights that I'm supposed to be protecting, I can't exercise without the government looking at me and calling me an enemy.
MYERS: Pentagon documents obtained by the ACLU provide new details on how even Quakers and churches came to be labeled threats worthy of the attention of the military.
ANTHONY ROMERO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION:
And what's clear is that there's a proliferation of surveillance and targeting of Americans who have done nothing wrong, other than disagree with the government.
MYERS (on camera): The documents also suggest, for the first time, that agents of the Department of Homeland Security played a role in monitoring antiwar activities. A DHS spokesman says agents merely disseminated public information about public events that could impact federal buildings.
(voice-over): The Pentagon admits it made a mistake in collecting information on 186 antiwar protests, but claims the problem has been fixed.
That isn't good enough for Senate Democrats.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: I fully intend to ask what's in those databanks, because many of them go way beyond any legitimate needs for our security.
MYERS: Congress wants to know not just what data was collected, but why, and how it was to be used.
Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington.
OLBERMANN: Well, you know, if your government is not allowed to spy on you, things like this will happen, a Pomeranian and a monkey getting perhaps a little too close.
And the Michael Richards controversy not waning. The hecklers want a cash settlement, and there are allegations now he was anti-Semitic in a previous standup appearance.
All that and more, ahead on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: One hundred years ago today, the second Triangle meeting of the International Radio Telegraphic Conference decided that for emergencies, a special universally accepted (INAUDIBLE) instantly recognizable telegraphic code needed to be adopted, the equivalent of the modern 911. So it's now been exactly a century since they chose SOS. It does not mean "save our ship." It does not mean "save our souls." It means simply, SOS. First used in Germany, it was adopted internationally because it was thought to be the easiest telegraph signal to remember, three dots, then three dashes, then three dots. In fact, it replaced the cumbersome CQD.
So on that note, LPO, let's play Oddball.
And we begin in Veranasi, India, where everything with this little Pomeranian, Goody (ph), appears normal till you take a gander at the undercarriage. Hello. That ain't Max Katie (ph) from Cape Fear under there, it's a little monkey. Seems Goody has adopted the orphan simian, not only lets him do the Cape Fear thing down there. He's actually nursing the monkey.
May seem strange, but interspecies nursing is not unheard of, and who doesn't like a little dog milk around the holidays? Goody and the monkey have been inseparable for weeks, and keepers expect them to stay that way until the monkey is old enough and strong enough to kill and eat the dog.
Denver, Colorado, where one woman has come up with a novel method of dealing with the loads of junk mail coming to her home. She makes the art with it. All over her Veronica Frank's house are works of art she's made out of junk mail, floral arrangements, collages, a lamp, and even a purse, all made from car-wash mailings, You Might Be a Winner envelopes, and final notices from the power company. It's all junk, and now it's all art. Come to think of it, she hasn't responded to any of my letters, and no one has seen the kitty in weeks.
And that part of life's rich pageant known as Oddball is not over yet. A special holiday gift from us to you, from jet cars, to 'splodin' soda bottles, the good old family fun with automatic weapons.
And speaking of weapons, O.J. Simpson. He's just given the "If I Did It" debacle another four days' worth of news legs. Late details also from Rupert Murdoch's minions as to what they paid for the project.
But first (INAUDIBLE), Countdown's top three newsmakers of this day.
Number three, Philip Dale Williams, well known in the Lynchburg, Virginia, area as the guy who tried to convince kids not to smoke by dressing up as a giant cigarette and singing hip-hop antismoking songs to the kiddies. He's even better known than Mrs. Williams thought. She opened the mail at home the other day and found notices for unpaid child support. Turns out he has three other wives. Instead of a cigarette, kids, get high on bigamy.
Number two, the unidentified suspect in a gas station holdup in Greenwood, Indiana. He may be a criminal, but he's a gentleman. After robbing all the cash in the place, he gave the clerk a $20 tip.
Number one, my cousin, Mike Tyson. Turns out he is not going to be one of the service providers at the new legal brothel for women, which will open in Nevada under the guidance of former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss. Her publicist tells "The Las Vegas Review Journal" newspaper that the Tyson story is, quote, "a ridiculous hoax." OK, fine. Now, who's going to tell Mike?
OLBERMANN: Well, he won't confess, but you should. When you heard O.J. Simpson say he was legally muzzled from talking about the If I Did It book and TV fiasco, confess, there was a spring in your step and a smile on your face, thank you lord.
Our third story on the Countdown, no dice. It turns not only was he making up that legal muzzle part, but had forgotten it within 24 hours and when he phoned into a Miami radio station, he portrayed himself as the true victim, calling into radio station WTPS AM this morning for an hour long chat about the If I Did It project with his golfing buddy James T. of the Wake Up South Florida With James T. Morning Show.
In between jabs at the real victims' families for bad mouthing him in the press, Simpson portrays himself as a wronged party, saying he had nothing to do with the books concept, that the hypothetical confession was largely made up by the writer, that he thought the payment he got for the project was blood money, but he took it anyway.
Meanwhile, News Corp, Rupert Murdoch's crowd, revealing tonight that set blood money was far less than the 3.5 million reported. A spokesman saying the company only paid 880,000 dollars to a third party for the project, 100,000 dollars to pay the ghost writer, and 780,000 for Simpson's kids. More about the money in a moment.
First the low lights from the radio interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O.J. SIMPSON, FORMER PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL STAR: I get offered a deal, which I thought - it was originally presented to me like the Barbara Boxer/Nicole Richie deal. Here is a deal that would be fiction, but, you know, is one of those fiction books where everybody knows what is going on.
JAMES T., JAMES T. IN THE MORNING: You would think everybody knows what is going on, but many people -
SIMPSON: So, when I got with the people, all of a sudden it wasn't going to be a fiction book. I mean that was the first day I met with the writer and they said oh, no they want it first person. I said well, if it is first person, I would love to talk about what transpired in my life in the years leading up to June 12 with Nicole, because the media has it all screwed up, you know, O.J. was being divorced.
I was divorced two and a half years later and I think it was apparent to everybody around that she was pursuing me at this time, in the last year of her life. So I said I don't mind doing that. It was almost cathartic doing that portion. Then we get to chapter six and I tell the guys, I don't know what happened. I can't tell you. I understood that this lady Judith Regan obviously thought, oh, he did it, so he knows how to confess. He'll just confess. The writer, when I first met him, she said it would be a confession book. I said, well, I have nothing to confess.
I didn't realize they were doing a special until I showed up there. And in the interview, long before this outrage, I made it clear that I thought it was blood money. I said hey, I participated. I participated for a financial - I made a financial decision. It would ensure my house.
SIMPSON: And, I hope nobody buys it. So when this whole thing about people - this house celebrated when we found out that the book was canceled.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you're saying that you're verifying that there was a 3.5 million dollar -
SIMPSON: No, I'm not verifying that.
JAMES T.: O.J. Simpson, did you kill Nicole and Ron Goldman?
SIMPSON: Absolutely not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Well, that settles it. They were obviously hit by blades that dropped from the sky. For more on this latest outrage, I'm joined by attorney Harvey Levin, also the managing editor of the website TMZ.com. Harvey, thanks for your time again tonight.
HARVEY LEVIN, TMZ.COM: Hi Keith.
OLBERMANN: The outrage in a moment. First, he also said that he got and kept that money, that it was a windfall, in his words. Did he just step waist high into something legally? Did the Browns and the Goldmans get an opportunity now to pursue that money, or at least get him found in contempt of court?
LEVIN: Well, they will try to get the money, but my guess is they won't. I mean, I think Fox - I don't know what Fox did with this so-called phantom third person, but if it was going to the kids, they should have just given the money to the kids. So I don't know who this third person is, but this is a shell game to avoid having to pay the money to anybody. You know, I've got to tell you, you know, he said it was blood money. That scumbag knows more about blood than anybody I know.
OLBERMANN: It may be the first honest thing we have heard from O.J.
Simpson, that one particular line. That is blood money.
LEVIN: No kidding. Well, you know, he is a murderer, so, you know, why not - it is hardly the most heinous thing he has ever admitted to.
OLBERMANN: How - is there a way that you can think of that they could have done this shell game and worked it out where this figure quoted now by Murdoch's people of $780,000 for Simpson's kids. Is there a way - since he said it has already been spent, I assume the kids didn't spend it. Is there some way he could have gotten hands on that legally or is there something in there that is going to trip him up?
LEVIN: Well why didn't they give the money to the kids? I mean, I think Sidney is of age, she is. So they could give it to her outright. If the son is under 18 - I'm not sure. I think he's right around there, they could have created a trust. So, it didn't have to go to some third person. That's why this whole thing sounds fishy to me.
OLBERMANN: Simpson told the radio station, WTPS, today that he felt free to reveal these details about the book because he doesn't consider himself under the don't speak about it clause through News Corp, through Murdoch, now that they've canceled the book and the TV special. Is he right? Or is there some way now that the Murdoch people, who are just as steeped in blood here as anybody else is, could now get their money back on the project by suing him for breaking the contract in some way?
LEVIN: I don't know that he is necessarily right, Keith. But he is safe, because there is no way Fox is going to open that Pandora's Box and sue him and then have this whole ugly thing displayed in court on who was getting what kind of money, which would happen. So, there is no way Fox would go after him, absolutely none.
OLBERMANN: Do you think, though, that between the interview today and this statement from News Corp. tonight, that this story has been just given additional legs of - at least through the weekend, where it had been seemingly about to go away?
LEVIN: Well, yes. I mean, to some extent, yes, but I think the best thing that happened to O.J. Simpson and the worst is Michael Richards, because Michael Richards knocked him off the front page for this. In some ways, O.J. Simpson is upset about that, because what he wants more than anything is attention. I mean, this guy lives for attention. And that is what this is about. And I think it probably drove him crazy that this got knocked back. So I think he is hoping he can resurrect it. You know, hopefully he'll just go away for good.
OLBERMANN: Yes, there are a couple of public venues that he might want to try that would get him plenty of public attention. I don't know if he is prepared for it. It might be the kind that Michael Richards got. But last thing about these contracts, the Goldmans asked News Corp to give up its rights to the project and the book and the special are already complete. Is there any chance that the material is not going to see the light of day, that a copy of this book isn't going to wind up on eBay somewhere?
LEVIN: Well, there is no way Fox - Murdoch is going to give this to the Goldmans, because again, I don't think they want this out. I mean, it was an embarrassment for them and I think they want it contained. Will it get out? Sure. I mean, there is enough out there now, probably enough people have copies, that it will make its way out and we'll figure out what it is that he said. But, you know what, whatever he said, you can't believe.
I mean, this guy is a psychopath. He's a murderer and it is very - and I'm sorry for sounding so incredibly biased, but, you know, I covered this trial and I've never seen a guiltier man. So, whatever he said, you know, whether it is fiction or nonfiction, I think you could probably say it is a combination.
OLBERMANN: Yes, the one thing we don't have to figure out now is what section of the book store to put this in. TMZ.com's managing editor Harvey Levin, as always, great thanks for joining us Harvey, have a good weekend.
LEVIN: Have a good Thanksgiving, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And to you. And it appears that Simpson's latest stunt was the last straw even for the residents of Buffalo, New York, where in some quarters he was still revered. Fifteen hundred of them have signed a petition asking the Buffalo Bills football team to remove Simpson's name from the hall of fame wall at Ralph Wilson stadium.
The petition says, "People may have argued before, he was acquitted, but now he's come out with a book basically admitting to the murders. Even it the book isn't admitting to them, it's still sick. The name needs to go." It adds that having Simpson's name on the wall of fame is an embarrassment to the team, the town, and all the hall of famers who's names are on there.
Another controversy given new life, as Harvey suggested. Mix in accusation of anti-Semitism to the problems already facing actor Michael Richards. Plus he might pay for his racial tirade with his career. But should he be forced to pay cash to the people he yelled at?
And Britney Spears turning heads at an awards show. Apparently she wanted to knock a few heads together after the joke the broadcast played at the expense of Kevin Federline. Details ahead, here on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Michael Richards apology not claiming - calming, rather, his hecklers from the Laugh Factory, although a cash settlement, they say, might do the trick. Britney Spears upset with a joke about Kevin Federline and some pre-Thanksgiving turkeys, besides the aforementioned. That's next. This is Countdown.
OLBERMANN: If Michael Richards, best known as Kramer from Seinfeld, was hoping that an apology would suffice to diffuse the fallout from his racial rant at the Laugh Factory, he today got two rude surprises.
Our number two story in the Countdown, not only are the hecklers from his Friday appearance at the L.A. comedy club hitting now with a lawsuit, but other allegations came to light today that Richards allegedly made anti-semitic comments at another comedy club this earlier year.
Two patrons of the club the Improv telling TMZ.com that in April, Richards told an audience member, quote, you f-ing Jew. You people are the cause Jesus dying. Richards people say that was part of his act. And what do you call the act? The Aristocrats. Possible Heckler damage suit in a second, first a reminder of the original offense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL RICHARDS, COMEDIAN: Shut up, 50 years ago you had a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) fork up your ass. You can talk, you can talk, you can talk, you can talk your brains out (EXPLETIVE DELETED). (EXPLETIVE DELETED) He's a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). He's a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). He's a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). He's (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Richards offered his public apology only after the tape of the rant hit the Internet on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARDS: I'm really busted up over this and I'm very, very sorry to those people in the audience, the blacks, the Hispanic, whites, everyone that was there that took the brunt of that anger and hate and rage and how it came through. And I'm concerned about more hate and more rage and more anger coming through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But the original heckler, Kyle Doss, says Richards has not apologized to him, nor to the friend who was sitting beside him, Frank McBride. On the Today Show this morning, they explained how a night out with a group of friends turned into that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, THE TODAY SHOW: How did he first start to target you guys verbally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first thing he said was, oh, all the blacks and Mexicans are here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said we have a stupid bunch of Mexicans and blacks that just entered the room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, something of that nature.
LAUER: So you've been there now 30 seconds or a minute and you look down and you say - did you respond to that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we didn't respond to that at first, because the lady was trying to get our drinks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was kind of shocked at that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, so the lady's got our drinks and the, like, time went on. And then I said, hey, you're not funny. And he looked at me and flipped me out. This is what the tape didn't show. He flipped me off and said f-you N-word.
LAUER: Did it cross your mind that this was just that, that there was a punch line coming or did you think this guy was off on some kind of wild rant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I first was in total shock. There was no punch line. And then, not only that, then he kept on going.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Waiting for a punch line.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, than he kept on just going on. He was just like going into detail. That was the worst thing about it. There was stuff in the film that you guys didn't catch. He even said stuff like he has enough money, he could put us in jail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He can buy us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He can buy us and he even said - he even told me he was like, when I wake up, I'm still going to be rich, but when you wake up you are still going to be a N-word.
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OLBERMANN: Understandably, the group left shortly after that. Mr. Doss and Mr. McBride retained the services of the lawyer Gloria Allred (ph) and have a request that almost sounds like a plot line from Seinfeld. They want Michael Richards to meet with them and a retired judge and let the judge decide if he owes them compensation for their suffering at the Laugh Factory. If he does not respond, they will likely take him to court. Welcome to Hollywood.
The fleeting thought that perhaps mankind deserves some cash settlement for permitting Kevin Federline, providing the segue into our nightly round up of celebrity news and entertainment news, Keeping Tabs. Apparently the future ex-Ms. Federline thinks it is not fair game to poke fun at her soon to be on welfare ex-husband. Britney Spears reportedly extremely distraught over a comedy stretch that preceded her surprise appearance at the American Music Awards last night.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There he was, Kevin Federline, everyone. He is now being sealed tightly in this crate. Don't worry, the crate - the crate is soundproof. We will not be able to hear him sing.
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OLBERMANN: The Federline look alike is later shown being dumped into the water. At least, the box is. It seems to have floated. Reps for Spears told the celebrity news website TMZ.com, it's third plug of the show, that the singer had no idea the comedy bit would air right before her appearance and that she was, quote, incredibly upset and inconsolable. Ms. Spears, do you have any idea how much worse that sketch could have been. It could have, for instance, have had something to do with David Blaine, the magician, illusionist, whatever you want to call him, is taking his death and intelligence defying stunts to an entirely new level, being suspended five stories above New York's Times Square, shackled to a giant gyroscope.
This time, however, Blaine is not doing it entirely out of narcissistic self-promotional reasons. He has actually got a cause. If he unsuccessfully unshackles himself, or successfully unshackles himself by 5:00 a.m. Friday, 100 under privileged children, chosen by the Salvation Army, will each receive a 500 dollar shopping spree courtesy of the Target Company. If he fails, what, they get lumps of coal in their stockings? They get temp jobs cleaning it up if the gyroscope makes Blaine or passers bye nauseous? Thanks for using our generosity against us Dave.
From publicity stunts to just plain old stunts that are fun for the whole family. What says family togetherness at the holidays more than the fully automatic shoot out weekend in Oklahoma. That's ahead, but time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for worst person in the world.
The bronze to an unnamed passenger stopped by authorities in Manila. She was boarding a flight to Bangkok when security screeners noticed that something inside her luggage was moving. Closer inspection proved she was smuggling more than 130 lizards wearing diapers and Cobras and other snakes on a plane.
The runner up, Joanne Iverson (ph) of Brooklyn, New York. She and her husband had been estranged from the their son for several years, but the kid took the big step of going to their apartment to try to patch everything up. That's when mom told him dad had died three years ago, but he was still in the bedroom. Mr. Iverson had thinned out a tad. He was just a skeleton of his former self. And you think Thanksgiving with your family stinks.
But our winner, the ridiculous radio yacker Melanie Morgan (ph), having now twice suggested about Speaker elect Nancy Pelosi, quote, we've got a bull's-eye painted on her big, wide, laughing eyes. Given how we've all recently seen that some of the less rational members of the right wing echo chamber take things like that literally, perhaps Ms. Morgan should consider her culpability if Pelosi is attacked or again threatened by the right.
She also made another reference to Pelosi and plastic surgery. And trust me Ms. Morgan, the issue of personal appearance is not a battle you should want to join. Melanie Morgan, today's worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: To our number one story tonight. It is an appetizer of sorts, something to get you in the mood for Friday's oddball extravaganza. That's when we will be recapping a years worth of the incredible, the insipid, and the incontinent.
Tonight though, it is the oddball plays of the month from this past June. That was a simpler time, a time when money fell from the sky, when you could open up a howitzer on an 1982 Nissan in an Oklahoma hillside. Let's all transport back to June. Let's play retroactive oddball.
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OLBERMANN: We begin in South Korea. We begin in Cologne, Germany. We begin in Miami, Florida. We begin Aberswith, Wales, where it's partly cloudy with a chance of cha ching. We begin at Paul's Liquor Store in Fort Worth, Texas, with a rare glimpse of a master cat burglar in action.
We begin in Bogata, Columbia for rare footage of the most sacred of events, the passing of the wand Valdez. It was an emotional ceremony, but a necessary one in the endless cycle of the coffee mascot life. The famous hat handed over to the next generation, and for a moment the future and the past joined together in an uncomfortable and slightly too long embrace. For the old Juan Valdez hands over the keys to his ass and then wanders off into the bean fields.
But it's not all frog weddings and drought in India. There's a booming entertainment industry as well and this week the entire country celebrating India's first ever super hero movie, Krrish. No doubt about it, Krrish is the new, biggest, baddest, super cool super hero around. And you were worried about the new Superman, huh?
To West Palm Beach, Florida, where police have a new weapon in the war against red light runners. Meet officer delicious. It is jet car and this thing is going to take off like a - just give it a second, jet car needs to warm up. Here we go jet car. You've got it, come one, come on baby. Here it goes. Does jet car actually ever move? Then why the hell are we showing it? Stupid jet car.
To Kan Kring Don (ph), Indonesia, and the lush greens and friendly fairways of the Maropee (ph) Golf Course. You will love just spending time in the peaceful atmosphere, the beautiful landscape, including that smoldering volcano. Run for your lives.
To Washington, DC, where two young girls in a park seem to be setting fire to one another. How very disturbing. No wait, it's the big annual fireworks safety demonstration, yay, safety. And I don't care how good looking you are sir, you can't just hold the thing in your hand.
And we're not just about promoting dangerous behavior here on Oddball. In fact, here's a touching feature story about a small child riding around on his pet 30 foot deadly python. Hambot (ph) says quote, I love the python. I love the python like my sister, unquote. So cute, especially considering the python ate his sister. Oh, no, no. I made that up. She was a half sister. No, no, no, no, well she's now a half sister.
Tiomorri (ph), the Samurai robot, look at them Samurais, look at them row and look at them run.
Cat climbing in and out of a bottle, look at him go. It's a cat in a bottle everybody.
It's Jeffry Tan (ph), the singing cab driver of Singapore. Driver, driver, driver, you just missed the turn for the airport, driver.
Are you ready for some soccer? Parrots with World Cup fever, but look at the penguins. They can play soccer too, yes indeed. Look at them soccer.
And we begin with a baseball highlight from Lexington, Kentucky that rapidly turns into an exhibit at a sanity hearing. McCuluck (ph) had already been ejected and minor league umpires aren't allowed to carry tasers, so he stormed around for a while, stopping to pour water on home plate and hurl a few bats onto the field.
A new segment that we hope becomes a regular feature here on Countdown, Keith Olbermann's America. We begin in America's heartland, Wyandotte, in the upper north east corner of Oklahoma. It is gun country, sure and there is something romantic about heading out with grampa's 22 and picking tin cans off a dusty fence rail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, I'm having a blast.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Surprise, surprise?
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OLBERMANN: A reminder, our holiday gift to you, an entire show, an Oddball Extravaganza this Friday. Grab the kids, set your tivo, park your drunk relatives in front of the TV. It will be a Thanksgiving holiday event you will remember for years, providing you're not too gassed up to not remember anything at all. Countdown this Friday at 8:00 and midnight Eastern, 5:00 and 9:00 Pacific. Be there, aloha.
That is Countdown for this, the 1,299th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, happy Thanksgiving. Good night and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END