Friday, March 30, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for March 30

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

Did President Bush know Pat Tillman had been killed by friendly fire a week after Tillman's death, a month before anyone told Tillman's family? A startling memo from April 2004 surfacing tonight from a major general to General John Abizaid, warning him to warn the president, Do not refer to how Tillman died. It was highly possible he died at the hands of American soldiers.

Two days later, in his speech about Tillman, the president made no

reference to how the Army Ranger was killed.

The president also tries to deflect the U.S. attorney scandal by engaging the Walter Reed scandal, at Walter Reed, just six weeks after it all broke into the open.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're fixing that which needs to be fixed.


OLBERMANN: While Congress tries to fix the guilt in Gonzalez-gate, closed-door testimony today from a Justice Department official.

And the frontrunner among Republicans to succeed Mr. Bush is knee-deep in it again. Rudy Giuliani knew of Bernie Kerik's alleged mob ties before he pushed for him Kerik to become director of Homeland Security.

Why is a TV network commissioning a poll that asks people if a political party should let itself be taken over by a grassroots organization? Because the TV network is Fox Noise, and the results will make the Democrats look bad.

Talk about looking bad, if your name was spelled B-O-E-H-N-E-R, don't you think you'd learn how to pronounce Tuskegee when you're speaking at an event honoring the Tuskegee Airmen, witnessed by the surviving Tuskegee Airmen?


The Tuskajee Airmen showed America and the world the stuff that they were made of.


OLBERMANN: As you just did.

And it's the big night. We've bent over backwards to bring you the winners of the first-ever Internet awards, the Keithies.

All that and more, now on Countdown.


BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Well, right you are, Mr. Meyerhoff (ph).


OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.

No scandal has better illustrated the gap between the rhetoric offered by the Bush administration about its post-9/11 fight against terrorism, versus the reality of what it has actually done, than the death of NFL star turned Army Ranger Pat Tillman.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, breaking news this hour that just seven days after Corporal Tillman's death, a top Pentagon official told the head of Central Command that President Bush should be warned to avoid saying that the Army Ranger had died in an ambush, because there were strong indications he had, in fact, been killed by friendly fire, something his family would not learn for another month.

Did the president know and not let the Tillmans know, the revelation from the Associated Press all but confirming the military has been more concerned with sparing its own officials from embarrassment than in sharing the truth about Corporal Tillman's death with his own family, in a memo dated April 29, 2004, then-Major General Stanley McChrystal warning Centcom chief General John Abizaid that it was, quote, "highly possible the Army Ranger was killed by friendly fire, and that this warning should be shared with the president."

Quoting him, "I felt that it was essential that you receive this information as soon as we detected it in order to preclude any unknowing statements by our country's leaders, which might cause public embarrassment if the circumstances of Corporal Tillman's death became public," at the White House Correspondents Dinner of 2004, just two days after that memo was dated, President Bush making no mention of how Corporal Tillman died, speaking only generally of his loss.

Earlier this week on the "Dan Patrick Show" on ESPN Radio, Corporal Tillman's mother, Mary, talked to Dan and me about why she thought the military felt it necessary to withhold the truth about her son's death.


MARY TILLMAN, PAT TILLMAN'S MOTHER: I mean, it's very important to keep in mind that this was not simply to dupe our family and to assuage our family. This was an attempt to dupe the public, and to promote this war, and to get recruitment up. And that is immoral, and it's a travesty that this young man, who did not, by the way, believe in the war in Iraq was the right thing to do - I mean, that was just a horrible thing to do to his legacy.


OLBERMANN: Let's bring in Todd Bowers, legislative director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Thank you for your time tonight, sir.


OLBERMANN: The White House says the president often praises fallen soldiers without getting into any details of their death. But this obviously was not just a - an ordinary soldier. How suspicious should we be of the fact that the president's comments were utterly consistent with both the public the story at the time, as well as what we would all later on learn were the real facts of Tillman's death, but his family didn't even know at that time?

BOWERS: I think we should be very questionable about what the timing is of all this. I mean, given two days afterwards that he finds this out and then speaks about Pat Tillman in these regards, is just a little too close, if you ask me. The generals in the Pentagon were probably pretty aware. I mean, we know this by the e-mails. And whether that was forwarded on to the White House and the president knew about it is very questionable to me.

OLBERMANN: How likely is it that the head of Central Command, General Abizaid, would get a warning like this about saving the president public embarrassment and not pass it on either to the White House or to the secretary of the defense at the time, Mr. Rumsfeld?

BOWERS: Well, I personally think it's very unlikely. If he knew that he had a high-profile soldier, such as Pat Tillman, and died under these circumstances, I would hope that he would inquire as to what happened. Receiving an e-mail such as this, I don't see why he would not send it to the White House. His loyalties are with the White House. They are essentially his employer.

OLBERMANN: The DOD inspector general cited nine people for failing to act properly once they knew friendly fire was suspected, especially in regard to letting the family know. Four generals were among those nine. General Abizaid was not one of those nine. Do we have any idea why not, and should he have been?

BOWERS: I'm not sure why he was not included, but I do know this. When situations like this occur, they write sitreps, and anyone that saw this sitrep, the report of what happened to Pat Tillman that day, and allowed this month timeframe to pass, should be held accountable in any way, shape, or form, anyone that's knew the truth and did not give that to the American public, most specifically to Pat Tillman's family, should be held accountable.

OLBERMANN: How bad, from the point of view of those who have survived Iraq and Afghanistan, is a story like this? How harrowing, how shaking to the core is something like this?

BOWERS: We all go over there and we serve with great pride and distinction. Whether we're killed in friendly fire, combat, or an accidental death, we all serve proudly. That should not become a piece in a political chess game. I can tell you this much, and she's watching right now, so I'm sure she'd agree with me. If my mother had been treated the way Ms. Tillman was treated, there would only be five walls on the Pentagon right now, because she would have knocked down one of those to get the answers.

OLBERMANN: As well we can all say that, I think, in our own families, and perhaps on behalf of others like the Tillman family as well.

Todd Bowers, the legislative director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Todd, great thanks for your time tonight.

BOWERS: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: The president today dealing with his house of scandal by trying to spin the one that involves our friends and family who did make it back from Afghanistan and Iraq, his administration crumbling around him, quite literally in Iraq, at the Justice Department, and in Republican caucus rooms on Capitol Hill, and Mr. Bush today making his first visit to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center since the shoddy conditions and shocking conditions were exposed, some six weeks ago, the commander in chief evidently less interested in swift change than in the new StairMaster.

Perhaps in another month and a half, Mr. Bush will see fit to turn his attention to the other scandals in his administration unfolding at the moment, like his former lawyer turned attorney general, who still believed, it seems, that he was just Mr. Bush's lawyer, former chief of staff to Alberto Gonzales Kyle Sampson telling the Senate just yesterday, you will recall, that the attorney general made, at best, inaccurate statements about his role in the firing of eight federal prosecutors for political reasons, as a result, Mr. Gonzalez today changing his story again, from a variation of, I was not involved, to, I do not recall being involved.


ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't recall being involved in deliberations involving the question of whether or not a U.S. attorney should or should not be asked to resign. My primary focus was ensuring that the White House was kept advised of what we were doing...


OLBERMANN: The attorney general apparently now looking to testify to the Senate sooner rather than later, intending to ask the Judiciary Committee if he can move up his testimony. It probably would not be by more than a week. The Senate is now in recess until April 10. He's due to speak at April 17's sessions, meanwhile, a deputy at the Justice Department, Michael Elston, offering his testimony today behind closed doors on Capitol Hill.

For word on whether his account conflicts with that of Mr. Gonzalez, as they say, watch this space, Democrats on the Hill also seeking information from the president's alleged brain, Karl Rove, information about a presentation by a White House aide given to government employees about how they could help Republican candidates in the 2008 elections, what would be a big no-no, to say the least, under the federal Hatch Act, insisting on nonpolitical conduct in those agencies.

Mr. Rove and company also under investigation for having used nongovernment e-mail accounts to conduct government business, because they wanted to keep that business secret, and that, too, it would seem, in strict violation of federal law, meanwhile back at Walter Reed, the veterans advocacy group Veterans for America criticizing the president's visit today as nothing more than a photo-op, seeing how he did not visit any of the areas, like Building 18, most in need of change, and no cameras were permitted there.

The president's prescription for change equally perplexing, to somehow fix the bureaucracy by creating even more bureaucracy to investigate, weeks stretching into months, quite possibly into years, before anything might be done.


BUSH: I met some of the soldiers who had been housed in Building 18. I was disturbed by their accounts of what went wrong. It is, it is not right to have someone volunteer to wear our uniform and not get the best possible care. I apologize for what they went through. And we're going to fix the problem.


OLBERMANN: Let's turn now to our own Jonathan Alter, senior editor for "Newsweek" magazine.

Jon, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Does it seem as if most of these scandals surrounding this administration right now, one might say engulfing it, have this underlying theme of Karl Rove attempting to use the resources of the federal government to ensure his dream of a permanent Republican majority?

ALTER: Well, there's no question that's that what he was planning to do, and had at least one meeting a week for the last seven years to do that. And that's the thread that ties this, you know, scandal together, this Justice Department scandal together.

It was a concerted effort to put their people in and screw the Democrats. And so what they did is, they broke all precedent, for instance, and started bringing voter fraud indictments just before an election, to make it seem like the Democrats were the corrupt party, almost always in swing states. The prosecutors who were fired, with only one exception, all came from swing states.

So they were trying to poison the well there before the election, in violation of tradition. And you see a lot of professional prosecutors who are just outraged about this, Keith, whether they're Democrats or Republicans.

OLBERMANN: All right. So we've got the Pentagon with Tillman, we got the Department of Justice. We've got the General Services Administration, where these meetings took place with the PowerPoint demonstrations. There was even something with Fish and Wildlife. They've got everybody here except the Visiting Nurse Association has been politically corrupted at this point.

Is it possible in this, as we're beginning to get the full panorama here, is it possible to overstate the importance of the Democratic Congress in bringing these scandals to light? I mean, all of them seem to be under the radar for the first years of this administration. The last two months, we've seemed to see all of them right come to the surface. Is that Congress's doing?

ALTER: Absolutely. This is what we, you and I talked about a lot last fall. This was what was at stake in this election is, you've got to have subpoena power. The press can't do it itself, when it comes to rooting out wrongdoing. So now the Democratic committee chairmen can haul these people up on Capitol Hill, and some of Karl Rove's former aides are not going to have any executive privilege protection.

So you're going to see a lot more testimony in the weeks to come. And I think Rove, over the course of this year, is going to be in deep doo-doo on a variety of issues. We don't know which one will do him in, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's not working in the White House by the end of the year.

OLBERMANN: Is there a point, though, at which, is there a tipping in reverse point, where the scandals might begin to work in the administration's favor, not just in terms of scandal fatigue, not just in terms of keeping attention focused off Iraq, but also in terms of trying to keep all the scandals straight at this point? I mean, you really need to write this stuff down now.

ALTER: Well, you can't keep it straight without a scorecard. But that's true of a lot of complicated Washington scandals. And remember, this doesn't have to be Watergate, it doesn't have to, you know, blow the president out of the water. But what it does do is, it opens a window on the way they work and the way they think.

Just to give you one quick example with probably the most famous prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, when it came time to appoint him, Karl Rove told the Republican senator from Illinois, No, don't put him in, he might be too independent and go after the governor of Illinois, the Republican governor at the time, who was a crook, later, you know, convicted.

So clearly, what Rove was trying to do is in jurisdiction by jurisdiction, protect Republicans, go after Democrats, and essentially turn our criminal justice system into what they have in a banana republic.

OLBERMANN: Lastly, Jon, am I right about the impact of this latest part of the Pat Tillman story, that unlike fired U.S. attorneys or anything else that's on the table right at the moment, this is the kind of visceral thing that anybody can understand, that anybody can get mad at, that there's evidence the president could have easily, if it's not certain, it's could have easily been true that he played politics like an insider trader on Wall Street, with a famous dead soldier?

ALTER: Well, if that comes out, I agree with you, I think it's an easier-to-understand story. But this is a pattern, Keith. You know, I did a story for NBC News a couple of months ago about a soldier from California who was killed in Iraq. His mother was told for two years that it was an ambush. And finally, the Pentagon admitted that he was killed by the very Iraqi troops that he was training, shot in the back by the troops that he was training.

And they had kept this from her for two years.

So this covering up of the truth in the interests of public relations is a pattern. And I hope it's something that we hear more about in the days ahead.

OLBERMANN: Unfortunately, it certainly will be.

"Newsweek" magazine senior editor, our own Jonathan Alter. Great thanks for joining us tonight, Jon.

ALTER: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Speaking of scandal, presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani facing at least one new one. He endorsed Bernard Kerik for director of Homeland Security, even though he already knew of the allegations that the man had mob ties.

And your votes are in. We've counted them. Time to reveal just who won the first annual Best of the Stuff We Found on the Internets Awards.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Just about two years after just after what would be his presidential inaugural, Rudolph Giuliani already has a jump on past presidents.

In our fourth story on the Countdown, Mr. Giuliani today backpedaling on his first cabinet nominee, and on how big a role his third wife first lady would play in his administration.

We get the details from our chief White House correspondent, David Gregory.


DAVID GREGORY, NBC CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Republican circles, it's long been feared that Bernard Kerik is the largest skeleton in Rudy Giuliani's closet.

Today "The New York Times" reported that back in 2000, then-Mayor Giuliani was briefed about Kerik's possible ties to a company accused of having links to organized crime, before Giuliani named Kerik police commissioner. Kerik, only last summer, admitted he allowed the company to provide free renovations to his apartment.

Reporter Jonathan Dienst of WNBC in New York.

JONATHAN DIENST, REPORTER, WNBC, NEW YORK: What did the mayor know, and when did he know it? The issue is, what was discussed at these meetings? There are records that appear to show that the mayor attended several meetings where Bernie Kerik's background was discussed.

GREGORY: Giuliani has said he doesn't remember any 2000 briefing regarding Kerik's business ties.

In 2004, with the strong backing of Giuliani, President Bush nominated Kerik to run the Homeland Security Department. Within a week, however, Kerik's nomination was derailed over his nanny's immigration status.

CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Bernie Kerik goes to the core of the nervousness of Republicans, and that is, who does Rudy surround himself with?

GREGORY: Giuliani has expressed regret for recommending his friend to the president.

RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Had a long career, long life, and I've made mistakes, and I'm sorry for them, and I try to learn from them.

GREGORY: These new questions come as conservatives are already criticizing Giuliani's three marriages, and positions on social issues like abortion.

Another potential pitfall, the role of his wife, Judith Nathan. Giuliani said this week she would be welcome at cabinet meetings were he the president.

(on camera): Sitting on top of the polls, none of this has yet knocked Giuliani off his stride. But it's a sign the frontrunner scrutiny has begun.

David Gregory, NBC News, New York.


OLBERMANN: He's often the victim of mispronunciation himself - Bean, Bone, Bine. That did not stop House minority leader John Boehner from inflicting the same mistake on the Tuskegee Airmen.

And police chasing a stolen car that's towing a stolen boat get extra help from the guy from whom they were stolen. Oh, yeah, the guy was in the boat. An Oddball instant classic.

Ahead here on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: On this date in 1946, one of the greatest bowlers in Australian cricket history played his last match, but he remained a cricket writer and commentator until he was 87 years old. They called him The Tiger, but his real name was Bill O'Reilly. Now you know why Murdoch gave the other one a job.

Let's play Oddball.

We begin in Florida, with scary video just released by the Seminole County Fire Department. Its Allegiant Air (INAUDIBLE) - Airline flight 758 landing in Sanford, Florida, yesterday. The nose gear failed to deploy on the ND-80 (ph) jet, with 147 passengers aboard, forcing pilots to set down on the nose. Fortunately, pilots train for this kind of stuff. Pulled off a perfect landing, with emergency vehicles waiting at the end of the runway. Although I'm suspecting that made a pretty nasty noise inside the plane. No one injured in the landing, all passengers got out safely through the exits by the wing. Thank you for flying Allegiant. Buh-bye. Thank buh-bye. Take care. Buh-bye, now.

To Marion County, Tennessee, for the Countdown boat chase of the day. Dashcam video from the Trenton police as they catch up with a stolen car pulling a fishing boat on a trailer. Cops were alerted to the situation by the owner, Darvin (ph) York, who watched as a man stole the car from a highway rest stop. He ran after it, he jumped into his boat, his cell phone in tow.


DARVIN YORK: I'm 59 northbound.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're 59 northbound?

YORK: I'm sitting in (INAUDIBLE), I jumped in my boat, and I'm going down I-59 toward Chattanooga.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, where is your car?

YORK: Some dude is driving it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what are you driving?

YORK: I'm in the boat. He's pulling my boat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you're in the boat?

YORK: Yes.


OLBERMANN: Some dude is driving it. Thanks to his call, police caught up with the car and pulled it over safely. No one was injured. The thief was arrested. And Mr. York even managed to catch three trout during the chase.

If you feel underserved still in terms of weird video, strange creatures, and Internet superstars, nonporn, the voting results are in. The Keithie Award winners are here tonight. We're not sure kind of award category would suit Roger Ailes and his Fox Noise Channel. Maybe we could use his latest tack and ask a poll question, say, Are they subversives, or are they un-American?

Those stories ahead.

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

Number three, the unnamed regular at O'Charley's Restaurant in Bloomington, Indiana. Four weeks ago Wednesday, this guy comes in, orders the rib eye and two drinks, got the bill for $25.96, and ran out the door without paying. Three weeks ago Wednesday, rib eye, two drinks, dine and dash. Two weeks ago, same thing. Week ago, one more time. Day before yesterday, finally they figured out there might be a pattern here. When the same guy showed up, ordered the same food, and then ran out on the check, four employees and a cop were waiting for him.

Number two John Spernak of Stratford, Connecticut, undergoing psychiatric evaluation right now after leading police on a high-speed chase. They caught him and asked him for his name, whereupon he revealed he was Vice President Dick Cheney. Later, he admitted that was just an alias. He wasn't really Cheney. He said he was former Charlie's Angel Jaclyn Smith.

And number one, and this is a doozie, the National Invitation Basketball Tournament, saluting its new champions, West Virginia, with a commemorative T-shirt. Except the manufacturer's Six Man Sportswear (ph) made a typo. It does not say West Virginia. They left out the second I. That's right, it reads "West Virgina." West Virgina now moves on to face the University of South Carolina Gamecocks in the finals.


OLBERMANN: Questions often betray intentions as much as do answers. If our third story on the countdown, what the FOX noise channel has now embraced is the tactic known as push polling, in which a political party tries to influence opinion with the question.

FOX noise also wants to know in its latest poll whether its ploy to bring hard-charging, unrelenting bias to the Democratic primary debate has been uncovered. This after the Democratic Party had recently canceled a Nevada debate that FOX was to host and cosponsor this August.

The notion had brought criticism from some Democrats, as well as organizations like Now the Congressional Black Caucus Institute has agreed to co-sponsor with FOX both Democratic and Republican primary debates, dismissing disputes over ideology and incurring the disagreement of Jesse Jackson.

Thus to this most recent FOX noise/Opinion Dynamics poll, which asks the usual questions about the usual suspects, President Bush and Congress, for instance. But then this almost buried, way down in question No.34. Do you think a television network that is hosting a presidential debate can influence the outcome of that debate? 65 percent of respondents answered yes, 28 percent said no. We can only guess if FOX noise executives are secretly pleased with that number.

Next poll question, if a political party agrees to participate in debates by one network but refuses another, is it fair to say that the party is believing the next it believes is more aligned with its views and so it asks easier questions during the debate? 66 percent said yes.

But the response that is most predictable comes after the long, rabid setup in a long question No. 36 which ends with, do you think the Democratic Party should allow a grassroots organizations like to take it over or it should resist this type of takeover? Not surprisingly, a takeover sounded like a bad idea to most of the respondents.

Joining me now the host of the Rachel Maddow show on Air America, Rachel Maddow. Thanks for your time tonight, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA: Hi Keith, thanks for having me.

OLBERMAN: With this polling ostensibly from a news organization, even though its FOX, has even FOX entered into new territory here?

MADDOW: Well, FOX for all of its faults does reach millions of people on television and it seems a little desperate and weird that they would resort to using their poll to try to advance their message as well, but it seems like that's what they've done. This is a push poll, they're trying to get this message that they're trying to spread, this anti-Democratic message, anti-left message, across to their poll participants.

I think they are also doing a little bit of message testing here saying, if we go after this way or Bill Clinton this way or some other typical left target for us this way, how will people respond to it? I think it's just another way that they are testing their very specific, very narrowly ideological message.

OLBERMANN: So the complaints about FOX hosting this Democratic primary, the debates anyway, had been along these lines. Why allow a virtual propaganda arm of the Republican Party to get yet another solid crack at Democrat under the guys, not only of news, but of a news event - granted, there are daily on-air examples of the agenda at FOX, but don't these poll questions somewhat ironically against that backdrop, sort of nail down the idea that there is bias in this coverage?

MADDOW: Right. If there is ever any doubt that FOX should not be legitimized as if it is a news organization, then let it be that they are using their polling arm even as a way of advancing a very narrowly ideological, anti-Democratic message. I think that the Democratic Party is stupid to allow FOX to host its debates. I really do. I feel the like the Democratic Party, if it wants its candidates to get their message across, they'd be better off having the candidates debates in mime or something. Trying to do it on FOX - it's as if they're having the Republican Party host their debates. It's just not a smart move.

OLBERMANN: Do the poll questions show something about the network in question that the powers that be over there are taking this fight against some aspects of the Democratic Party seriously, that they no longer dismiss it as just the far left accusing them of being a propaganda machine? That the anti-FOX righteous indignation has actually gotten some traction?

MADDOW: I think that's actually the most interesting element of all of this. I feel like for the past six months or so, we've started to see a little bit of a tension arise at FOX and I almost feel like they might be ready. They might be moving towards dropping the ruse, dropping the fa‡ade and admitting that they're not a normal news organization, admitting that they are in fact a mouthpiece for a specific ideological way of looking at the world - that they there and the reason for their being is to denounce non-Republicans as the cowards we are all.

And you start to see some of this tension for example in Rupert Murdoch's public statements recently when he's admitted for example that FOX News did try to gin up support for the Iraq war. I think that they might be moving toward putting quotation marks around the word "news" for example, in their name. But they are not quite there yet and they do still have to do news-ish stuff, like trying to get to host debates. I think it's an internal tension at FOX.

OLBERMANN: And if that happens, 27 viewers around the country will just be shocked by that whole idea, but there are like 350 employees over there at FOX noise who would be shocked, and that's one of the curious things about it.

But what I want to know is this - if you question looking at the motives of the party in the poll, is this trying to turn the thing on its head? In other words, if the party doesn't choose us, it's because of its own bias or the bias of those other networks. It's nor because of a bias at FOX News. That's a fascinating bit of rationalization, isn't it?

MADDOW: Right and they are trying to say there's something wrong with the Democratic Party that they wouldn't want to appear on FOX. That was really the right wing talking point when the Democrats initially called off that first Nevada debate that was supposed to be hosted by FOX. Oh, there's something wrong with the Democratic Party that they won't do this. Well you know, when the FOX noise channel has in the pat hosted Democratic debates, they've done things like banners above the Democratic candidate that say Democrat candidate debates. All but put up a giant inflatable rat next to them. It's FOX that is the problem here, not the Democratic Party. But this is a push poll and they are trying to create that impression with the polling.

OLBERMANN: Yes, Question No. 49 which they did not run was are the Democrats showing bias by not nominating Hugo Chavez? Rachel Maddow, the host of the Rachel Maddow Show on Air America. As always, great, thanks for joining us.

MADDOW: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: The honor was long overdue, yet even as the Tuskegee airmen finally receive their congressional medals of honor, they were dissed again by the House minority leader who never bought "Hooked on Phonics."

Also, you the voters, have spoken. Polls are now closed and soon we will finally be able to reveal the winners of the first annual Keithie Awards. What do you mean Sanjaya won? It's all ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: To my experience, if you grow up with an easily misspelled name, like say Olbermann, you tend to compensate by becoming an annoyingly good speller. If you grow up with an easily mispronounced name, like say Olbermann, you tend to compensate by becoming an enormously good pronouncer.

However in our No. 2 story in the countdown, this apparently does not extend to the Republican congressman from Ohio, John Boehner. Mr. B-O-E-H-N-E-R participated in yesterday's celebration of the famed Tuskegee airmen, the graduates of the only flight school which admitted African Americans during World War II.

T-U-S-K-E-G-E-E, Tuskegee.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: The Tuskegee airmen are a living example of the most basic American values. In December of 1941, just four months after the first cadets arrived at Tuskegee Army airfield, the world was at war. The Tuskegee airmen showed America and the world the stuff that they were made of. And by the end of the war, the PF-51s of the Tuskegee airmen ruled the skies of Europe. The Tuskegee airmen were the leading edge of the social revolution.


OLBERMANN: Gee-whiz, thank you Congressman Boey, Boey, Bone. Next to the podium, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky who wins the pronunciation bee and earns the resultant applause.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: The president, members of congress, Tuskegee airmen - (APPLAUSE).


OLBERMANN: Tonight we begin our nightly round up of celebrity and tabloid news, keeping tabs with word of peace talks that could give hopes to diplomats around the globe.

Britney Spears and soon to be ex-husband Kevin Federline have finally reached an agreement on the terms of their divorce. The Web site reporting that Federline will walk away with $1 million. Legal observers note that's actually less than many others would pay him to walk away.

The ex-couple will also split custody of their kids 50-50, even though both of them objected that they only have two kids. A judge is expected to sign off on the divorce any minute now, clearing the landing strip for Britney's next ex-future husband. No word on who gets custody of the Cheetos and the Slim Jims.

The winners are in though in our first annual best of the stuff we found on the Internet awards. The Keithie Show ahead.

First, time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for worst person in the world. Nabronz Denora Vazquez (ph) of Antioch, California. Many mothers teach responsibility to their kids by making them to do errands. Not exactly what Ms. Vazquez did. Her errand for her seven and nine-year-old daughter - see that dog over there on the lawn? The Chihuahua/Pekinese mix? Steal it. She's under arrest, the kids are with relatives.

Our runner up, Michael Weiner Savage (ph), now explaining that everything wrong at the moment owes to a ratful deity. Quoting God, Savage says, "I'm going to show you I exist in a way that you can't believe. Down came the World Trade Center towers, that was God speaking." See, first you said that was the Democrats fault, then you blamed the entire Muslim religion, and now you're God's voicemail. Do you want to pick just one psychotic delusion and stick to it, Mike?

Speaking of, our winner tonight, Glenn Beck of CNN and ABC still obsessed with the voice of Senator Clinton. Two weeks ago, he said it made her the, quote, "stereotypical bitch." Now it's quoting, again, "Hillary's voice makes angels cry, they do. I agreed with everything she said, but I just want to kill myself."

Glenn Beck, today's worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN: Thank you. I'm truly humbled. When I was but a boy, I dreamed of one day hosting an award show such as this one. Uma, Oprah, Oprah, Uma. It's the moment we've been waiting for. Me, because it means it's going to be over soon. The uber, if not Uma moment, the No.1 story on the countdown, the Keithies.

First annual best of stuff we found on the Internets awards. We have previously confessed inspiration from the YouTube awards. God knows if that tube can hand out awards already, then we can do it here and now. Besides after all of the resources, Countdown has committed to serving in search of viral video diamonds, it seems only fair.

And for our winners, at last an accolade second to none. So without further fanfare, let's get to the awards. And there's the fanfare. The first category, great animal of all the Internets, and the nominees are.


OLBERMANN: Noble beasts all. And now to the winner of the first annual award for greatest animal in all the Internets, there it is, the Keithie goes to, oh, I can't believe it. The winner is Pinky. Pinky the cat, come on down, Pinky.


OLBERMANN: Ahh, Pinky, we're sure you were finally adopted by a loving family. Unfortunately, the officer now can't have a family. Turning to our next Keithie category, it's everyday idiots. And the nominees are.


OLBERMANN: It's funny because it's not my car. And the Keithie in this category goes to - I bet they are the ones laughing now, yes, it's dude, where's my bumper?


OLBERMANN: Now turning to everyone's favorite category until they hear the caveat, Internet superstars, non-porn. And the nominees are.


OLBERMANN: That was not, we repeat not, Silvio Berluscone, please do not sue.

And the Keithie goes to Carson City Council best actress.


OLBERMANN: Well, Reagan and Schwarzenegger made it from acting to politics. Why not?

Turning to our final Keithie category, stuff you missed on the TVs that the Internets made famous and these nominees are.


OLBERMANN: Don't worry, ye who are faint of heart. I'm sure that guy's sword is just fine now. And our last Keithie goes to. Give me a second. Ahh, it's Bill O and Jack Mehoffer.


OLBERMANN: And the beef with Jack. There you have it. The culmination of our first annual, the best of the stuff we found on the Internets awards. Thanks to the thousands of you who voted and all our nominees for bringing such video goodness into our lives. And of course to YouTube, for having the idea that we totally stole for these awards.

That is Countdown for this, the 1,447th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for March 29

Guests: Jonathan Turley, Richard Wolffe, Andrew Sullivan, Maria Milito

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

He did too, to the Senate, the former chief of staff to Alberto Gonzales, directly contradicts the attorney general about the firings of the U.S. attorneys.


KYLE SAMPSON, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL CHIEF OF STAFF: The decision makers in this case were the attorney general and the counsel to the president.


OLBERMANN: But Kyle Sampson says that was OK. Gonzales and Harriet Miers made their decisions politics-free. But he does implicate Mr. Gonzales as mistaken, or a liar.

The implications of the president vetoing funding for the troops in Iraq are obvious, to everyone but him.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, we stand united, and saying loud and clear that when we've got a troop in harm way, we expect that troop to be fully funded.


OLBERMANN: That troop, like Boy Scout Troop number 586 of Tipp City, Ohio? Like composer-actor Bobby Troop (ph)?

The Senate passes the full funding-and-leaving bill. The president again insists he's killing it, but he's not responsible for it.

Richard Wolffe on the political brinkmanship, Andrew Sullivan on Mr.

Bush's growing isolation.

Karl Rove raps while his administration burns. The latest revelation, weekly meetings to strategize stamping the courts and prosecutors with the Bush brand. Rove is often there when he's not dancing.

Could be worse, could be Sanjaya there. He lives to see another day.

Why, I do not know. Perhaps Maria Milito does.

And the greatest animal in all the Internets. This reminder from the nominating panel for the Keithy Awards. Let sleeping dogs lie, and let growling cats go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As part of their sentence, the couple is going to have to come right -



OLBERMANN: Not afraid of that? How about of a 50-foot-tall Michael Jackson robot roaming the desert around Las Vegas with frickin' laser beams attached to his head? Whoo-hoo-hoo.

All that and more, now on Countdown.


KARL ROVE, PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Tear the tops off of small animals.


OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.

First Kyle Sampson this morning threw Attorney General Alberto Gonzales under the bus, then this afternoon the White House implied he was going to have to crawl his own way back to the sidewalk.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, Democrats in the Senate had tried to downplay expectations ahead of today's testimony by the attorney general's former chief of staff.

Even they, it seems, could not have foreseen just how thoroughly the former aide would erase any doubt that Mr. Gonzales approved the firings of eight federal prosecutors, thereby disputing the attorney general's own past public statements, as a result, the White House now actively trying to distance itself, albeit slightly, from Mr. Gonzales, spokeswoman Dana Perino saying this afternoon that, quote, "It is time to let the attorney general speak for himself," all of today's speaking done by Mr. Sampson, who quit earlier this month as the attorney general's top aide, his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee coinciding with new revelations about the involvement of White House political guru Karl Rove, "The New York Times" describing weekly meetings at which Mr. Rove, Mr. Gonzales, the White House counsel, and other top advisers to the president strategize about putting Mr. Bush's stamp on the federal courts and - wait for it - the U.S. attorneys' offices, the timing of last night's document dump starting to make sense today, day after day of embarrassing revelations leaving the Justice Department in turmoil, what even Republican Arlen Specter today described as dysfunctional and a state of disrepair, "The Times" also reporting that on Tuesday, the attorney general faced harsh criticism from half a dozen U.S. attorneys still employed at a meeting in Chicago, the prosecutors telling Mr. Gonzales that the scandal had decreased morale, distracted employees, and left the prosecutors themselves unsure of how much longer they would have jobs, back on Capitol Hill, former aide Sampson rejecting the notion that the dismissals were in any way ordered by young or inexperienced Justice Department officials like, oh, himself, instead pointing the finger at both Mr. Gonzales and the former White House counsel, Harriet Miers.


SAMPSON: The decision makers in this case were the attorney general and the counsel to the president. I and others made staff recommendations, but they were approved and signed off on by the principals.


SAMPSON: They were - they were -

WHITEHOUSE: Because they were your recommendations, or did the principals look through those recommendations and make an independent judgment themselves as to whether the U.S. attorney should remain?

SAMPSON: I think you'd have to ask the principals.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The attorney general also said, "The charge for chief of staff here was to drive this process, and the mistake that occurred here was that information that he had was not shared with individuals within the department, who were then going to be providing testimony and information to Congress."

The attorney general was referring to you as his chief of staff, correct?


SCHUMER: Is that an accurate statement that he made?

SAMPSON: Senator, I believe that at no time did I ever intend to mislead the Congress or mislead witnesses that were coming before the Congress.

I shared information with anyone who wanted it. I was very open and collaborative in the process, in the preparation for Mr. McNulty and Mr. Moschella's testimony -

SCHUMER: (INAUDIBLE), is it - did you share information with Mr.

McNulty and Mr. Moschella?


SCHUMER: So the attorney general's statement is wrong, it's false.

Statement is false. There's no way to believe it's not.

SAMPSON: I don't think it's accurate -

SCHUMER: DOJ spokesman on March 24, Miss Scalino (ph) said, "The attorney general did not participate in the selection of U.S. attorneys to be fired." Was that that an accurate statement?

SAMPSON: I don't think that's an accurate statement.

SEN. HERBERT KOHL (D), WISCONSIN: What is the public's perception to be, when somebody who is, like Karl Rove, who's the ultimate political operative, ultimate political insider, whose function is political almost by definition, is so involved in the process? Can you disagree with people who might have the impression, however inaccurate, that the process is highly politicalized, when the ultimate political insider is so involved in it?

SAMPSON: Senator, if that is the impression that people have, then I regret it, because that does -

KOHL: But isn't it, (INAUDIBLE) -

SAMPSON:... harm...

KOHL: But isn't it the job of, one of the jobs of people like yourself to do everything that they can to see that that impression is not given, however accidentally?

SAMPSON: Senator, the answer is yes. And I failed in that, and that's why I resigned.

At the time, in my mind, I did not associate at all the idea of asking a U.S. attorney to resign, and the idea that it would be done to improperly influence a case (INAUDIBLE)...

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Do you see a perception problem here, of the timing relative to the investigations, and the U.S. attorneys that were selected?

SAMPSON: Senator, in retrospect I do, and that - it was - I believed that it was a failure on my part, and I want to take accountability and responsibility...

CARDIN: But you're saying the failure was the manner in which you handled it, not the decisions that were made on the dismissal of the U.S. attorneys.

SAMPSON: I'm acknowledging, senator, that it was a failure on my part, and others, but I will hold myself responsible for not - for the lack of foresight that people would perceive it as being done to influence a case for improper political reasons.

CARDIN: And the impact...

SAMPSON: I didn't associate (INAUDIBLE)...

CARDIN:... it was having on U.S. attorneys' offices throughout this country.

SAMPSON: And I regret that.

CARDIN: I'm not sure I understand what you're acknowledging to this committee, whether it's just a public relations problem in presenting it, or whether it's a real problem in the method that was used to ask for the U.S. attorneys to resign.

SAMPSON: I was acknowledging that at the time, I personally did not take adequate account of the perception problem that would result.


OLBERMANN: Let's turn to constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley of George Washington University.

Jon, good evening.



OLBERMANN: Alberto Gonzales is going to appear, supposed to appear, before the Senate Judiciary Committee himself on the 17th of next month. Based on what we heard today from his former chief of staff, Mr. Sampson there, is it possible Mr. Gonzales will no longer be the attorney general by the time he testifies? Because it seems clear, based on Senator Schumer's questioning of Mr. Sampson, that the attorney general either lied, or he has a professionally fatal bad memory.

TURLEY: Well, you know, that's true, that Gonzales doesn't have a good argument here. He either has to argue that he lied, or that he's an empty suit, that he has no control over his department and misses most details in his mind.

Remember, he made that argument before, with the torture memo, when he said, I basically just sign memos, I don't read them. So he's going to have a hard time explaining these contradictions.

But the other thing is that, you know, he has said, I take full accountability, or responsibility, for this action. And yet, no one has seen any evidence of that. Instead, he threw Sampson to the wolves, and it does not appear that he is the most blameworthy. It appears the attorney general is. But he's still gainfully employed.

OLBERMANN: With that admission from Mr. Sampson today about what the attorney general knew and when he knew it, would that have been likely had he not been testifying, say, under oath? I mean, he seemed to freeze up before he answered Senator Schumer there, and in almost every other respect during a very long day of testimony, he appeared to deflect criticism from administration officials, refused to disclose whether he spoke to Karl Rove about firing the - trying to fire the special prosecutor, Mr. Fitzgerald, as the U.S. attorney for Chicago. Did we just see, in that moment with Schumer, why we have guys testify under oath?

TURLEY: That's exactly right. This is a textbook example of why live testimony under oath is so important. Remember, before we had this hearing set up, what we were witnessing was a series of conflicting and contradictory and untrue statements coming out. One of the most interesting exchanges was with Hatch, when Hatch was (INAUDIBLE) - Senator Hatch was trying to get him to say Gonzales is really blameless, and he would not do it.

OLBERMANN: Senator Whitehouse, meantime, raised this question of qualifications. He pointed out that not only Mr. Sampson had ever tried one criminal case, but also that this liaison between the Justice Department and the White House, Monica Goodling, graduated from law school nine years ago, and - or eight years ago, and it was a - really a purported law school at that.

I mean, might those revelations be as embarrassing for this administration as anything else, that these were people from, you know, self-addressed, stamped envelope university, who were charged with evaluating the performance of veteran, seasoned professional prosecutors like Patrick Fitzgerald, like Carol Lam?

TURLEY: Well, I tell you, I think the most embarrassing thing, putting aside those credential issues, which were (INAUDIBLE) themselves embarrassing, but the most embarrassing thing is that Sampson really could not articulate, even now, a reason why these people were fired. Democrats scored a lot of points in showing that they never called these people to say, you know, We'd like your immigration numbers to be higher.

We've got a problem with Carol Lam, for example, in California. No one told her. And she actually brought those numbers up. But he also stumbled when they pointed out that people like Carol Lam were the - part of all-star team. She had brought massive, and really groundbreaking cases against politicians and drug lords. And all they have is to say, Well, she had a problem we never told her about, but we decided to fire her for it.

OLBERMANN: What, finally, Jon, what did you not learn today that you would like to learn from future hearings and future witnesses?

TURLEY: Well, today makes a great case for calling in the White House witnesses. You know, the fact is that Sampson kept on saying, I just don't know what occurred in the White House, you're going to have to ask them. It's clear that there were a lot of meetings involving this at the White House.

And also, the president is on really tough ground to say that executive privilege is designed, is meant to prevent officials from being subject to perjury if they lie under oath. I doubt the Framers would find that a very convincing rationale of presidential power.

OLBERMANN: Or from talking to each other and having those conversations heard by anybody else (INAUDIBLE) under legal proceedings.

Jonathan Turley, the law professor at George Washington University.

As always, sir, great thanks for your time.

TURLEY: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: And just when you think this administration can't get any more embarrassing, Karl Rove starts shaking his groove thang. Must be celebrating his escape so far from a subpoena.

And his protector, Mr. President, surrounded himself with Republicans today, as if that could ameliorate the fact that nearly all of them decided not to fight the war funding bills, and leave that to him to do by himself instead. Where is the president's support?

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Since the president's bookmarked blog tells him things are really going great in Baghdad, I suppose we can just gloss over the last 24 hours around there, multiple suicide bombers exploding cars, roadside bombs, shootings and assassination attempts, which have left literally hundreds dead and wounded.

Instead, let's concentrate on our fourth story on the Countdown, Congress's first real challenge to the president's adventure in Iraq, the Democratic Senate, with the help of two Republicans, passing a bill that gives the president more dollars for the war, but tells him to begin the process of getting out by next fall. It also suggests, only suggests, that U.S. troops turn their combat roles over to the Iraqis by this time next year.

But even while the Senate is offering more money to spend on the troops than even the president himself wanted, the president appeared, after a meeting with House Republicans, demanding a new bill with a blank check, insisting he'll veto this bill because it shortchanges the troops.


BUSH: I made that clear to the members, that we stand united, and saying loud and clear that when we've got a troop in harm way, we expect that troop to be fully funded, and we got commanders making tough decisions on the ground, we expect there to be no strings on our commanders, and that we expect the Congress to be wise about how they spend the people's money.


OLBERMANN: Just not how he'll figure out - just not now, he'll figure out how to spend it now, thank you.

Let's analyze the political brinkmanship about the troop with Richard Wolffe, "Newsweek"'s chief White House correspondent and MSNBC political analyst.

Richard, good evening.


Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: This kind of showdown hasn't happened since the Newt Gingrich days, when he shut down the government in his brawl with Bill Clinton. Who is winning this brawl? Did the vista change in any way today?

WOLFFE: Well, remember when the president called his vice president a glass-half-full kind of guy. You know, this is a kind of glass-half-full kind of moment for the White House. They think that in spite of this determined opposition for the Democrats, who've held their ranks together and actually voted now in the House and the Senate against the war, they think that this is a sort of moment for political jujitsu, that they've got the Democrats exactly where they want them.

In the words of one senior White House official I spoke to today, the Democrats now have to choose between a veto from the president and vetoing their own antiwar base. And in some cases, that's true, because the glass-half-empty view is that they're facing unprecedented opposition, and this is a huge political problem for both sides, actually, but especially the president.

OLBERMANN: So obviously he will veto, if he's not making that up.

The Democrats do what, then?

WOLFFE: Well, if the Democrats stay true to their word, in terms of what the leadership has said, they've got to, in fact, cave in here, they've got to provide funding for the troops, unless they are willing to go through the whole Vietnam experience all over again.

They can do certain things, they can mitigate it, add certain provisions, put in a timeline that is nonbinding. But essentially, they've got to really fund the troops here, otherwise the political firestorm turns on them and moves away from the president.

OLBERMANN: And how long would this drag on? I mean, if the Pentagon said that it's going to shift money from other programs to the Army and to the Marines, some say the money's going to run out in mid-April, maybe it goes to June. How long does the chicken game go?

WOLFFE: Well, it's funny money. I mean, they're always diverting money from one account to another, and eventually the funding comes through. But the opportunity for PR games here is significant. They're already talking about Humvees that might not get equipped properly.

And that's the danger to Democrats here. If they're going to provide the funding, they should do so quickly, rather than dragging it out and letting the administration offer up all these examples where troops or equipment are going unfunded.

OLBERMANN: Do they give the Democrats the opportunity to be the white knights in this, though, if they - if they're the ones who compromise on it, does it look like they're the ones who are looking out for the troops, when the president was playing politics with them?

WOLFFE: They could do, but again, if the Democrats are going to fund this war, then they've got to do so quickly. There's nothing to be gained by dragging it out.

OLBERMANN: Before you go, there's one more White House issue we need to bring up. Last night's performance from Karl Rove at the annual Correspondents Dinner started with Mr. Rove saying what he likes to do when he's not at the White House, and it kind of went downhill from there. Let's listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any hobbies?

ROVE: Like to go home, get a drink, generally of a nonalcoholic nature, since I don't drink, and then tear the tops off of small animals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tear the tops off small animals.

And do you fish or anything other things, snowmobiling, downhill skiing?

ROVE: No, just ripping the tops off small animals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (rapping): (INAUDIBLE) and a-chillin' and a-showin' his job. He will do it without fail, get out his gun, 'cause he's shootin' quail.


OLBERMANN: Was that funny? Was it uncomfortable? Was it terrifying?

What was it, Richard?

WOLFFE: I hope my children are not watching right now. Boogie nights with Karl Rove? Look, this is a man who has a reputation for being the court jester inside the White House. I guess there are not a lot of laughs right now.

OLBERMANN: Yes, it's different. I'm not giving any particular props here to David Gregory, who's not moving that well in the background either. But...

WOLFFE: He could clearly give Tucker Carlson a run for his money.

OLBERMANN: That's the best laugh of the week.

"Newsweek" magazine chief White House correspondent, our own Richard Wolffe. Great thanks for joining us, and I'll see you on the dance floor later on.

WOLFFE: Any time.

OLBERMANN: Speaking of horror shows, and we refer not to Mr. Wolffe in this, it's ghoul school, Malaysia-style.

And scarier than ghosts, scarier than rappin' Karl Rove, scarier than anything else on the planet, Michael Jackson reportedly building a 50-foot robot version of himself with laser beams for eyes. Run for your lives!

And Countdown continues, too.


OLBERMANN: About 37 years ago, a Russian emigre stopped by our church in the suburbs of New York City and told the congregation that we were fighting the cold war all wrong. Don't build weapons, fly over Russia and Eastern Europe and drop portable TVs, drop little record players, drop Beatles albums. His argument was that once ordinary people behind the Iron Curtain realized what they were missing in terms of material things, they would force the Soviet empire to crumble. Twenty years, tops, he said. On this date in 1986, Beatles albums became officially available for purchase for the first time in Russia.

On that note, let's play Oddball.

We begin in Koala Lumpur, where you know Halloween is just around the corner, just seven short months away, but it's never too early to start training the haunted house workers, and that's where this guy comes in. His name is Linton Harris (ph), but his friends call him, well, Lynn, mostly, but these people, they call him the Scaremaster. And apparently they pay him huge sums to fly to Malaysia and conduct haunted house training seminars. Are we outsourcing our spooky houses now? What are you trying to do, give Lou Dobbs a heart attack?

To the Internets for another exciting episode of What Happened to This Guy's Car? I think the answer should be obvious to anybody, the boys went bowling at high speeds with a ramp thingie.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a bad idea.


OLBERMANN: Dude, we've captured our own stupidity on videotape. Hey, we're not judging you. In fact, if we found this a week earlier, you guys might have earned yourself a Keithy.

Speaking of, tonight, the final grouping of nominees for the 2007 annual awards honoring the best of Web, category, Greatest Animal in All the Internets.

And he once made the joke himself. But are Laura and Barney now truly the president's only supporters?

Those stories ahead.

Now, though, here are Countdown's top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, Roxana Arias Becerra, Miss Bolivia of 1993, arrested on charges of trying to take nearly two pounds of cocaine over the Brazilian border. A sad story, no doubt, but mentioned here only because a week ago, Sonya Falcone (ph), Miss Bolivia 1988, was ordered out of this country after she pleaded guilty to employing four illegal immigrants as household servants. You guys need to meet Tara Conner.

Number two, Sean Diddy Combs tells "The London Daily Mirror" that he had a nice, romantic trip to Paris with girlfriend Kim Porter. We went up to my suite and had tantric sex for at least 30 hours. You know, Mr. Diddy, they do say, if it lasts more than four hours, consult your doctor.

Number one, Rachel Marsden of Fox Noise Channel not going to be happy with her profile on, not after she explained to Fox viewers how the Duke lacrosse players won't suffer any long-term aftereffects from the false rape accusations made against them. Salon reports Ms. Marsden had filed quote, "questionable rape charges" of her own in her native Canada a decade ago, and later pleaded guilty to stalking, criminally stalking, a male Canadian radio host. Ms. Marsden, meet Mr. O'Reilly.


OLBERMANN: It is not only the war funding bill and not only the tempest around Alberto Gonzales on which Mr. Bush's former allies have declined to help him out this time around. In fact, in our third story on the Countdown, it now seems reasonable to ask whether the president has now lost virtually every significant ally who does not have an office actually inside the White House.

According to Jim Hoagland of the "Washington Post," even old Bush friends in the Middle East are cooling on this president. Jordan's King Abdullah canceled his upcoming visit to the White House. Saudi King Abdullah just yesterday called the U.S. presence in Iraq illegitimate, after already having canceled a formal state dinner set for April 17th at the White House.

That is a day Mr. Bush might be preoccupied in any case, as Mr. Gonzales is due to testify on Capitol Hill that day, in what is being seen as his last chance to win support from congressional Republicans, if he lasts that long. Who knows how they will feel by then if they get a look at this week's stories on World Net Daily, a Christian conservative news sight, introducing Gonzales to the center of a teen sex scandal involving his department's decision not to prosecute Texas officials accused of having sexually abused juvenile inmates.

Let's turn to Andrew Sullivan, who chronicles the president's growing isolation on his blog at Most recently author of "The Conservative Soul, How We Lost It; How to Get it Back." Andrew, thanks again for your time tonight, sir.


OLBERMANN: Who still has Mr. Bush's back, and will whoever that is be snuff?

SULLIVAN: Well, I think there is Laura, Joe Lieberman and Barney. I think that's it.

OLBERMANN: Wow. Could that possibly be enough?

SULLIVAN: I talked to British conservatives through a friend of mine and they have given up. When you have lost the British and Tony Blair is clearly going out, and the new prime minister of Britain will be not friendly to Bush; the Australian prime minister is now struggling to survive in Australia, because of the Guantanamo nightmare with the Australian detainee, David Hicks. So really - and even the right wing blogosphere, I have noticed, just isn't going to bat for this guy on the Gonzales affair, and are really just hoping against all hope that the surge will some how pull off a miracle in Iraq.

But the president seems utterly immune to any sense that he might be wrong, that there might be something that he needs to do to change policy.

OLBERMANN: Boy, oh boy, those Oliver Cromwell words come back; "I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken." But you would think, and I don't think the president wants my advise, or perhaps nobody else's, but you would think somebody in that White House, with its reputation for sharp political operators, would say, look, we may have an opportunity here to turn the war standoff into a way to build up an a consensus on the way forward.

We might get Democrats to be in a kind of forced shared ownership of this war. Why won't this president attempt to get something like that done?

SULLIVAN: Well, of course, they could have done that after 9/11. Someone like Churchill brought opposition members into his cabinet. Other war leaders have brought everybody in, in order to have a secure base, but from the beginning Karl Rove made a decision to use the war as a partisan weapon. And now they are left. I mean, they are left alone, because the war has failed.

If it had succeeded, we might have been on the verge of having a one-party state in this country. They were clearly aiming to purge the entire government of opposition to them. But it hasn't worked and the war is clearly in a terrible mess. And they don't really have anywhere else to go. And Bush, I think psychologically, he just believes he is right. He thinks that, in his fundamentalist psyche, that his motives are pure, that the war is the right thing.

I don't think he is a cynic. I think he is a true believer. The trouble with true believers is that how can you tell them when they have made an error, and when true believers created a culture within the White House in which everybody must agree with the leader, who goes in there to talk to him and say this? I mean, Bob Novak said he didn't even think that Nixon, in the days before he resigned, was as isolated as George W. Bush is today.

OLBERMANN: What was it, and I'm using another British analogy here, Jon Le Carre, the spy novelist, who said when all the major figures in British intelligence in the 50's, so many of them turned out to have actually been Russian spies in disguise that it was disbelieved because fellows from our background could not have made mistakes like this. Those people could not have been that kind of person, because they were our kind of person. Is that the mentality that you see that here, that there is, still at heart, some sort of infallibility complex?

SULLIVAN: Yes, well, I think it's more that my motives are so pure that I cannot do wrong. I think that's the mindset there. It's like when you are born-again, you give everything up to god, who controls everything, and I think the president had a born-again moment on 9/11, politically. And he thinks, as long as he is fighting evil, anybody who criticizes him is on the side of evil.

And that is a terribly dangerous mindset. And he doesn't have - I think this is the critical thing, unlike other presidents - a vice president seeking reelection. There is nobody in the White House itself that has an interest in winning in 2008. So, they could carry on forever.

Meanwhile, the Congress is beginning to panic. People around the country in the Republican party are in close to near panic about what this is going to do in 2008.

OLBERMANN: Have they just discovered that Mr. Bush was happy for their help when they were on his side? It's not that there is any kind of shared side here?

SULLIVAN: Well, I think for the president it is not about shared side. There's never been a shared side. It's loyalty upwards, and then it's success. When it's failure, it's very hard to figure out how to share that blame.

OLBERMANN: What do we do about this? I mean, is any of this still being seen by anyone as strength on his part? Or is it seen merely as abstinence.

SULLIVAN: I think it's not strength, it's brittleness. The thing with things that are brittle is that they suddenly snap. And my concern is that this will suddenly snap at some point. My own view is that the Democrats should not claim ownership of this. They should fund the troops. They have made their statement. People know where they stand. Then they should let the president and the Republican party own this war from now on, and just say to the electorate, look, you have a chance in 2008 to end this.

And I think many Republicans realize that if the Democrats take that tactic and that strategy, which of course is morally difficult, with the expense of these young men and women in Iraq, but politically, then the Republicans could be headed for a wipe out of historic proportions in 2008.

OLBERMANN: The senior editor with "The Atlantic" and author of "The Conservative Soul," Andrew Sullivan. Once again, great thanks for joining us. It's been fascinating.

SULLIVAN: You bet. Thank you so much, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Also tonight, not only did the pony hawk one survive elimination on "American Idol," but he is infecting others on show too. We mean that about the hair.

If you think nothing is more terrifying that Michael Jackson in the flesh, how about a 50-foot tall robot version of him? Must rock with you all night. And don't say you already thought that was a robot. Ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: There are great expectations, slowly diminishing expectations and then there is Sanjaya Malakar. In our number two story on the Countdown, yes, he made it through again, as the ghost in the machine of "American Idol" just gets ominously bigger and bigger. Last night's results show revisited the pony hawk. Some call it a faux hawk. Here it is a faux faux hawk. But you know there's trouble when Idol pays homage to a 17-year-old kid who cannot sing.

As for elimination.


RYAN SEACREST, "AMERICAN IDOL": American voted and you are not going to be out in the center of the stage. You are safe. Take a seat.


OLBERMANN: Mr. Malakar was not even part of the weekly purgatory of Idol, the bottom three. By subtraction, that puts him in the top seven, which for people who actually take the show seriously causes shivers. Curly was eliminated by the way, proving that naturally ugly hair loses to deliberately ugly hair every time.

When asked about Mr. Malakar's execution as a singer, I replied, I'm in flavor of it. Let's call in Countdown's very own "American Idol" princess, also mid-day host at New York's classic rock station Q-104.3, Maria Milito. Good evening my friend.

MARIA MILITO, Q-104.3: Hi Keith. A public execution on Idol, what a concept.

OLBERMANN: Hey, it's a great way to go out.

MILITO: Yes, it is.

OLBERMANN: This kid, I have him in the office pool. You, you are smiling; you are scared; what are you?

MILITO: You know what, I'm going over to the dark side now. I hope he wins. I'm over it. I know so many people who also have him in their office pool. They are voting for him. I Have a friend who voted for him four times the other night, just because he wants to mess up the whole voting system. The producers got exactly what they deserved with him.

You know, they put in a bad singer to spice up the show and make the ratings go higher and have people watch. Good luck now. I hope he becomes the American Idol.

OLBERMANN: Well, you know, we have probably elected senators and presidents like that. They put people in the baseball hall of fame that way. Why not?

MILITO: That's right, look how America votes anyway outside of Idol, so what a big surprise.

OLBERMANN: An idea was floated here last night by Tom O'Neill from the "L.A. Times" blog that he is fully in on the joke, Sanjaya. He is not a naive youngster to be pitied. He is a Machiavellian celebrity seeker, who knows how to get give people what they want, and make them forget about the fact that he can't sing. How do you feel about that?

MILITO: Absolutely, I totally agree 100 percent. Because the kid, at the beginning, he was naive. He was kind of shy. He looked embarrassed. Now he comes out, he is - not mean spirited, but he kind of quips back at Simon. He's a little nasty, a little cocky. All of that naivete is gone. He's very cocky now.

So I think it's a whole big plan, because you are right, he also forgot the words the other night, and nobody mentioned that at all, because of the wig.

OLBERMANN: What did he forget the words to?

MILITO: The "No Doubt" song he was singing. He did. He forgot the words. And that's like a big crime in "American Idol." But not for him.

OLBERMANN: All right, so, if he wins, what happens then. I mean, we assume that will be the end of it. The producers got what they deserved. I got a feeling you couldn't stop this show with a blackout. What would actually happen to "American Idol" if this guy wins?

MILITO: Well, I would think if he wins, the procedures really need to go back and reassess the show, in the sense of make the judging a little bit differently. Like maybe make it into a conspiracy, because they need more control. If he wins, you know, by fault, not good, not good. I think they need to just do the rules differently, maybe have the judges be part of it more so. I don't know.

OLBERMANN: Fifty percent judges, 50 percent viewers?

MILITO: Kind of like some of the other shows. I think there's a dancing show, whatever, that does that.

OLBERMANN: Or just fix it.

MILITO: Or fix it, exactly.

OLBERMANN: Like they haven't done that already. Countdown's own "American Idol" princess, Maria Milito, great thanks. We will see what happens next week.

MILITO: Absolutely. Thanks Keith.

OLBERMANN: Be well. Now breaching the thin, thin line that separates the amateur freaks from the professional freaks, we turn to Keeping Tabs, our nightly roundup of celebrity and tabloid news. Michael Jackson, you've got to love the classics. That's right, he is back in the headlines, in talks to create a new show in Vegas. The show's designers told the "New York Daily News" that they have already drawn up blue prints for this extravaganza, and as with any show inspired by the works of a musical genius, the show's expected centerpiece will be a 50-foot robot that shoots laser beams out of its frickin' eyes.

The designers say the intention is for a Michael Jackson robot to be the first thing seen by anyone flying into Vegas, at least until the robot is then killed by Mothra. When are they building the 20-foot tall robot kids?

Changing topics quickly, upcoming, the Keithie awards. Tonight's category, greatest animal in all the Internets. They are animals. They won't know the difference between a Keithie and Michael Jackson statues.

That's ahead, but first time for Countdown's nightly nominees for Worst Person in the World. The bronze to former NBA all star, now coach of the minor league Albany Patroons, Michael Ray Richardson. Talking with reports before a playoff game last night, or night before last rather, about his negotiations for new contract. Richardson said, quote, I've got big-time lawyers. I've got big-time Jew lawyers.

When the reporters offered him a way out, suggesting his comment might be misunderstood as the stereotype that Jewish people are crafty or shrewd, Richardson went on, are you kidding me? They are. Listen, they are hated all over the world, so they have got to be crafty. It you look at most professional sports, they're run by Jewish people. If you look at a lot of most successful corporations and stuff, more businesses, they are run by Jewish. That was before the game.

During the game, Coach Richardson shouted at a heckler to shut up and called the man a common derogatory term for gay people, the one preferred by Ann Coulter. Coach Richardson has been suspended. Sounds like he could use the time off. He must be exhausted.

Runner up, New York Giants football coach Tom Coughlin. He's compared public and media criticism he received last season to what Adolf Hitler went through. "I hear some of it, and I see it," he told a pro football breakfast, quoting again, "Hitler and then me, in that order. Unfortunate, but it is." Oh boy.

Two crazy coaches who still do not compare to our winner, comedian Rush Limbaugh, claiming criticism of Attorney General Gonzales is racism. "So you have the first Hispanic American attorney general, a minority, under fire by white liberal racists in the Senate." Like Senator Salazar, Senator Salazar is a racist against Hispanics? And this is from a guy who insisted liberals were exaggerating Donovan McNabb's skills because they wanted to see a black quarterback succeed. This is from a guy who has happily called Barack Obama a, quote, half-rican American.

Comedian Rush Limbaugh, today's Worst Person in the World!


OLBERMANN: If you want cuddly, go to a pet store. If you want beastly, check out Congress. But if you seek animals who destiny is award winning, stay right where you are. Our number one 1 story in the Countdown, the last round of nominations for the Keithies, the first annual best of the stuff we found on the Internets awards.

We have already presented our nods for stuff that you missed on the TVs that the Internets made famous, as well as every day idiots. Last night, Internet super stars, non-porn. Tonight's category, greatest animal in all the Internets. The nominees in a moment, first the whole zoo.


OLBERMANN: On the Internets, wacky animal clips are a dime a dozen. If you have seen one dog freaking out a Roomba (ph), you have seen them all. Seen them all I say. All of them, every last one of them. Enough already. Oh, a kitty. Is that a ferret? Bunny rabbit.

As you can see, there is no shortage of material, so we had some tough decisions to make during the nominating process.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The couple is going to have to come -

OLBERMANN: This was pretty good, and the reporter's keen instincts were correct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Since I'm in the media, I instantly knew what was going to happen. I knew that it would be on YouTube.

OLBERMANN: It is, but it's still not good enough. Dear attacks hunter is a classic, but still falls short. If this was a real bear, we might consider nomination. Can't say for sure, so we just left it out. We refused to condone smoking by monkeys, never mind crabs. And if we nominated the feinting goats, who knows how they might have take the news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the goat is startled or excited, it causes a very temporary stiffening of the muscles. When the muscles relax, after a few seconds, the goat jumps up and runs on its way.

OLBERMANN: If there's no telling which genus your animal belongs to -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're remarking on how much Percy looks like a chicken when he sleeps like this .

OLBERMANN: We suggest you wait until next year. And for those high flying animals who sold out in the name of viral video goodness, we salute you.

For the animals who trained hard, to those who gave it their best, even though their best was not good enough, we pay tribute to your efforts. And we remind them of the ancient Japanese proverb, sometimes you are the Komodo Dragon and sometimes you are the pork chop.

Most times you're just not going to be good enough to get the Keithie.


OLBERMANN: And the nominees for greatest animal in all of the Internets are - oh, it's a kitty, brilliantly given a name that could never induce fear, Pinky the cat.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Pinky. He's a male cat, domestic short hair. He's available for adoption. He's pet of the week. He's a very loving cat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pinky, Pinky, wow. Pinky. Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a wild cat on our hands.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He got you in the back?


OLBERMANN: Thank you Pinky. We're confident you found a loving home.

Next it's a snake. No, it's a show stealer, leaping lizard.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's see how long it is. Let's hold it out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy is probably close to five feet. Texas rat snakes are going to be one of the largest snakes that you would find in the metroplex area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get this thing off of me man. Get this thing off me man. God damn. What is this thing jumping at me for man?




OLBERMANN: Up next, hamster after his morning cup of Jo, fastest hamster ever.

Our next nomination have a cape and an English translator, that we might discover his secret power. It's super dog.




OLBERMANN: And the final nominee tonight, sleepy dog, Rusty the narcoleptic dog.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This dachshund, Rusty, suffers from narcolepsy, a condition that causes him to suddenly fall asleep when he's trying to do other things. Little is known about the cause of narcolepsy, except that it can be inherited.


OLBERMANN: Our nominees for greatest animal on all the Internets. And our great thanks to all the nominees in each and every one of the categories. Now, you are vested with the solemn responsibility. No silly text messaging, speed dialing. No, go to our website, Vote early, vote often and in every category. You may watch all the nominees again if you like. Give that to a friend while your at it. All your Keithies winners to be revealed on the show tomorrow night in a star studded award show extravaganza.

No, it's just a newscast but it has cartoons. That is Countdown for this the 1,446th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for March 28

Guests: Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Dana Milbank, John Dean, Tom O'Neil

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

With one war-funding bill passed by Congress and another funding bill under consideration in Congress, the president tries to persuade the American people that Congress is refusing to fund the troops.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund our troops on the front lines, the American people will know who to hold responsible.


OLBERMANN: You just shouldn't give me straight lines like that, sir, you just shouldn't.

And another one, the troops don't even need anything more. Things are going just splendidly in Iraq, so splendidly, the president resorts to citing anonymous Iraqi bloggers about just how good it is.


BUSH: "Stores that were long shut are now reopening. We feel safer about moving in the city now."


OLBERMANN: Senator John McCain echoes the spin, and also don't cite anyone.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The surge is working far better than even the most optimistic supporter had predicted.


OLBERMANN: Working so well, there are certain areas of Baghdad where, quote, "you and I could walk through today." We'll truth-squad that.

Freezing out Fredo. His chief of staff testifies tomorrow. His counsel has promised to plead the Fifth. And nobody in the White House or the administration seems ready to vouch for him. Is Alberto Gonzales about to go out on his last fishing trip on the lake?

John Dean will join us.

Just when will this guy go away? Unfortunately, the answer may be, never.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you are in your own universe, and it's people like you, good luck.


OLBERMANN: And good grief.

Time for some real superstars. Just who will get the not-so-coveted Keithy Awards? Internet superstars, nonporn division. Sorry about the "non" part.

All that and more, now on Countdown.

Good evening.

The Internet mavens at Google recently reported that the average blog is read by an average of exactly one person. Tonight, somewhere in Baghdad, two bloggers are boasting, We found our reader, President Bush descending today into a defense of the entire war by quoting two dentists who are blogging about how much better things have been lately.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, it's not quite Nixon talking to the paintings of Lincoln and Kennedy in the Watergate summer of 1974, but it will do. And if that's not surreal enough for you, wait, there's more.

After the historic vote last night, in which the Senate, like the House, decided to lay down a timeline for withdrawing combat troops from Iraq as part of a massive $122 billion funding bill, members of that (INAUDIBLE) debated other elements of the bill. The one thing not being debated, the one element both parties agree on, is giving that money to the president to ensure that U.S. troops have the supplies and equipment and resources they need.

And yet, on this same day, the president has warned Congress that it must give him the money as soon as possible, and in the same breath, promised to veto the very bill now in the works to give him that money as soon as possible.

It is quite possibly the first budget debate to be scripted by George Orwell, with illustrations by M.C. Escher.

The salient points are these. The Senate, like the House before it, now on track, expected this week to approve an emergency supplemental appropriations bill that includes funding for many domestic expenses, including controversial measures such as peanut storage, but also disaster relief for farmers as well as health care for poor children, the lion's share, however, $100 billion, slated for the Pentagon.

The Defense Department says it needs the money by April 15, but Democrats say they were told May 1, and Democrat Jack Murtha reportedly says military brass told him the real date is June 1.

The central sticking point is a series of dates mandatory in the House bill, guidelines in the Senate, for gradual departure of U.S. forces starting in four months, culminating in the complete departure of combat soldiers by fall 2008 at the latest, while still retaining troops in Iraq for security and counterterrorism training.

The president today objected bitterly to any restrictions on the money. In a speech at the Holiday Inn on the Hill in Washington, before the National Cattleman's Beef Association, a speech which, in terms of factuality, seemed to be more hat than cattle. His claims about the state of Baghdad by the blogger will get more scrutiny a little later on in this newshour.

But first, let's start with what he said today about the Democrats.


BUSH: Members of Congress need to stop making political statements and start providing battle funds for our troops. Need to get that bill to my desk so I can sign it into law. Now, some of them believe that by delaying funding for our troops, they can force me to accept restrictions on our commanders.


OLBERMANN: Going point by point, many if not most of the political statements being made recently are the results of Republicans who are trying, as is their right, to shape the bill to the president's liking. That having been said, no one in either party is trying to delay the funds. And, in fact, both Democrats and Republicans have worked together to get the bill, as the president said, to his desk quickly, so he can sign it into law.

And yet the president, in the same speech, made clear that when it does reach his desk, he has no intention of signing it into law, even if that means he will delay the funds.


BUSH: I have made it clear for weeks, if either version comes to my desk, I'm going to veto it.


OLBERMANN: Despite acknowledging that the funding bill is coming his way, despite his promise to veto it, the president said he will not be to blame.


BUSH: If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund our troops on the front lines, the American people will know who to hold responsible.


OLBERMANN: On that, at least, Mr. Bush may prove to be more prophetic than he can understand.

Democrats, however, did not miss the obvious threat, the leadership in Congress today suggesting, however, that this standoff need not turn into an impasse, and in the space of 51 seconds, House Speaker Pelosi managed to assert the right of Congress to oversee funding, managed to open the door for compromise, managed to sneak in a jab on her way out, and, in an act of political judo, use the urgency of the funding to underscore mounting concerns about the president's leadership.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER: Why would he be saying to us, We're running out of money, and we need - it's only a few weeks? Leadership would have required for him to have anticipated his needs.

But this is a war without end, where the president is used to a blank check. This president is not getting any more blank checks from the Congress. This Congress will hold him accountable for the conduct of this war, and we will have legislation that will give him every dollar he asks for for our troops, and more, but with accountability in there.

What the president is saying, Give me the money, but don't expect me to be accountable. That's what the president is saying.

So I say to the president, You're the president, we're the Congress.

Let's work together for the American people. Take a deep breath, Mr.



OLBERMANN: Breathing along with us, Dana Milbank, our political analyst, also, of course, national political reporter for "The Washington Post."

Dana, as always, great thanks.


Good evening.

OLBERMANN: Let me start the big picture here, what Speaker Pelosi said there, what Harry Reid said today about the president, which was, "His arrogance is getting real out of touch with what's going on with reality," and the president quoting these two blogger dentists. Is there an implication in what's being said here, not just that people might think he's out of touch or in denial, but it's something clinical, something that might be like Nixon talking to the paintings?

MILBANK: Well, you don't want to write off the notion of talking to paintings. I think they're the only ones that are not giving the president bad news at this particular moment in time. And they're certainly not giving him news like General Barry McCaffrey is, who's made his presentation today, saying to the White House, saying the population in Iraq is in despair, the mission is in strategic peril. And this is a guy who'd been fairly enthusiastic about things before.

So the president's having a particularly difficult time, not just with Democrats, you have Chuck Hagel now saying, you know, Look, Mr. President, this isn't a monarchy, we tried that once.

OLBERMANN: The president's prediction regarding who the country will blame if the funding bill is vetoed or does not go through the way he wants it, is even he not capable of the sleight-of-hand convincing enough to veto a funding bill and then say, The devil Congress made me do it?

MILBANK: Well, you don't want to dismiss the possibility that he can win that battle somehow. It's very hard to tell how that plays out. But if you listened to his speech today, he sort of has a fallback plan, and that is, he's talking, and making a very legitimate point, about all the pork that's in this legislation. The Senate has literally has money in here to promote Christmas trees.

So, you know, if the - the very fact that the president is going before the Cattleman's Beef Association and talking about pork would indicate he's got sort of a plan B here.

OLBERMANN: Something on the menu here. We might be trying the other, you know, chicken dinner or something.

What, what - but what - Now, on the other hand, on the possibility of an imp - of a - of this impasse, not becoming an impasse, but there being some sort of agreement here, what would the nature of that be, and which is more important to the Democratic leadership, legislating this timeline, mandatory or otherwise, or leveraging a congressional role for the conflict?

MILBANK: Well, the goal, obviously, is the timeline. But it seems pretty clear that they would settle for some sort of a role in the discussion here. It's - we can sort of see where this plays out and to the point at which it reaches the president's desk, and there is a veto. At some point, somebody is going - you know, it's a game of chicken, and somebody is going to have to give in. It's very hard to game that out right now and see how it works out. It's going to be very fascinating to watch.

OLBERMANN: The White House, the Republican Party, has been painting the Democrats as defeatists, especially in the last couple of days, as this has neared that veto point. What is to stop the Democrats at this point from flipping the equation and saying, No, no, we want to leave because we think our troops already did what they want there for, we won, taking out the threat that Mr. Bush sent them to go and take out.

Would the - would that force the president in this battle, this really nip and tuck battle over who gets the upper hand here, to say, No, I'm sorry, the troops have failed, we have to keep them there, and then he defines whatever mission it is he thinks they have failed at?

MILBANK: Well, we have to be careful about the whole Mission Accomplished thing (INAUDIBLE), the question of how many flight suits you can get for the Democrats, and how many planes would be required to take them to the battleship. But it certainly is something very much like Jack Murtha has been saying, the troops accomplished what we sent them there to do, they've done all that they can.

But, you know, given that the large majority of the American public views the whole situation in Iraq as a disaster, you don't want to sort of be dueling with the administration in terms of who is more out of touch with reality at this point.

OLBERMANN: Yes, it's going to be a big, big fight, if you try to take the White House on on the unreality meter.

Our own Dana Milbank, national political reporter of "The Washington Post." As always, Dana, our greatest thanks.

MILBANK: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: It is one of the most dangerous cities on earth. Yet according to Senator McCain, parts of Baghdad are safe enough to take a stroll through. Maybe he's actually the blogger in Baghdad.

He's fighting the right to keep his aides out of the U.S. attorney investigation. But how hard is the president willing to fight for his attorney general?

John Dean with the latest on Gonzales-gate. He'll join us.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Progress in Iraq has often been marked by President Bush, especially when he needed most to prop up public support. Further strain is showing, now that the president is citing reports from Iraqi bloggers.

In our fourth story on the Countdown, Senator John McCain is not only mirroring the president's statements about the early success of the surge, he is often going well beyond them, even if he has to then back away from some of the claims almost immediately.

The senator made his pitch on the Senate floor yesterday, completely with a color-coded map.


MCCAIN: The Baghdad security plan, the surge is working far better than even the most optimistic supporter had predicted. The progress is tangible in many key areas, despite the fact that only 40 percent of the planned forces are in Iraq.


OLBERMANN: McCain's aides say it is the first time he has systematically addressed recent events in Iraq, and off the Senate floor, Mr. McCain went even further, saying in an interview, quote, "General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in an unarmed Humvee." When challenged on that statement today, the senator notably omitted any claims about unarmed Humvees, saying that he meant that there are neighborhoods that are safe, and that General Petraeus does go out into Baghdad.

Senator McCain also said that, quote, "There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today."

More on the reality of that in a moment.

Meantime, President Bush today eager to cite an unimpeachable source.


BUSH: I want to share with you how two Iraqi bloggers - they have bloggers are in Baghdad, just like we got here. (INAUDIBLE). "Displaced families are returning home. Marketplaces are seeing more activity. Stores that were long shuttered are now reopening. We feel safer about moving in the city now. Our people want to see this effort succeed. We hope the governments in Baghdad and America do not lose their resolve."


OLBERMANN: Joining us now, the associate editor of "The Washington Post," former Baghdad bureau chief for the publication, also author of "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone," Rajiv Chandrasekaran.

Thank you for your time again tonight, sir.


OLBERMANN: Senator McCain also said on the Senate floor yesterday that, quote, "Markets subject to horrific car bombings have been turned into pedestrian malls." Obviously, you can't gauge progress by only one measure, but there could be pockets of safety without overall security, as you well know. But can we just start with this? Conditions in (INAUDIBLE) Baghdad today are what?

CHANDRASEKARAN: Conditions are Baghdad today are still pretty grim. There are certain places where things have improved. I will hand McCain and the administration that point. But by and large, the city is still incredibly dangerous, incredibly dangerous to foreigners and dangerous to Iraqis.

I'm in touch with Iraqis all the time. They're still living under an incredible climate of fear. They're still afraid to go out and about. They don't know whether the trip they're making to the market or the mosque or to work is going to be the last trip they ever make. So there's still a climate of fear. I don't think that the Iraqis would take the same sanguine view that Senator McCain has.

OLBERMANN: He also, Senator McCain, that is, made this comment that we cited earlier about the neighborhoods where you or I could walk today. He's backed away from that one too. He also said, if we fail in Iraq, bin Laden and Zarqawi are going to follow us, which was a neat trick, because Zarqawi is dead.

But I want to ask you about this assessment, Dana Milbank referenced it, from retired general Barry McCaffrey, who was recently in there with General Petraeus and 16 other senior U.S. commanders, and the general wrote- - let me read this in full - "No Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat, reporter, foreign NGO," nongovernmental organization individual, "nor contractor can walk the streets of Baghdad, nor Mosul, nor Kirkuk, nor Basra, nor Tikrit, nor Najaf, nor Ramadi without (INAUDIBLE) heavily armed protection."

Is the distance between the kind of thing Senator McCain is saying and the reality on the ground, as General McCaffrey sees it, as great as it sounds, or are these just two people looking at two different parts of the same picture?

CHANDRASEKARAN: No, I think that there is a vast gulf there. And I -

you know, I think it's worth noting that General McCaffrey, a respected military leader, was just in Iraq. He's been there much more recently than Senator McCain has.

It's also worth noting, Keith, that just today, the U.S. embassy put out an all-hands bulletin to its personnel inside the green zone. The green zone's that fortified part of central Baghdad, guarded by hundreds of U.S. troops, surrounded by 17-foot-high concrete blast walls. The new directive, all embassy personnel must wear flak jackets and helmets any time they're leaving any building inside the green zone.

They're also not allowed to congregate by that palace pool, the site of some fairly raucous parties in recent years. And nonessential personnel are not even allowed inside the embassy compound. Why? Because insurgents have been pelting the green zone with literally dozens of rockets and mortars in recent days, and two Americans have been killed in the past week in these attacks.

So people inside the green zone, inside supposedly the most secure part of Baghdad, don't feel much safer this week than they did last week.

OLBERMANN: Anybody who's dealt with anything ranging from recipes to wars knows the danger of outdated information. Senator McCain has said repeatedly over the last couple of days, people are stuck in a time warp about Iraq, with information from three months ago. He suggests that critics are not looking at what's happening now. Is there validity to that point? And on the other side of the same point, can the trees and forests cliche apply to looking at a specific lull in a civil war like this one?

CHANDRASEKARAN: Yes, well, look, you know, you want to compare headlines today to headlines three months ago, I mean, today up in Tal Afar, a place in northern Iraq that President Bush a few months ago hailed as a great success story, well, what did you have? You know, yesterday you had twin car bombings, killing a lot of Shiites, and then apparently early today, you had Iraqi security forces marauding through the town, killing a lot of innocent Sunni civilians, this sort of sectarian tit for tat that has defined much of the conflict there.

Yes, I think it's dangerous to sort of say, Well, look, you know, today is much better than it was three months ago. Yes, they have improved here and there. I mean, we have to admit that in Baghdad, there have been some parts of the city that have improved. I think part of it is also not because the U.S. forces are there, it's because Shiite militia leaders have decided to rein in their forces.

It's a very complicated situation, but I think it's still too early to say that this surge is a unqualified success. Even administration officials say, More time is needed before we can judge the efficacy of it.

OLBERMANN: Lastly, I must ask you about the blog that the president cited today. It's now been identified. It's There's a pair of dentists who've generally been sympathetic to the American mission. They met with the president in the Oval Office three years ago. But as late as last Friday, on the same blog, they said (INAUDIBLE) the administration, quote, "needs to revise the way it's been handling and planning for this critical war." We're down to the president quoting a couple of dentists to prove that the surge is working?

CHANDRASEKARAN: Well, you know, there are dozens of Iraqi bloggers. And I dare say IraqTheModel is one of very, very few to be as rosy as it is, just notwithstanding some of their own skepticism about things and some of their own critical comments. I mean, those guys aren't idiots.

But, you know, if we do a more representative sample of what Iraqis are writing in their blogs, and I read a lot of them, you won't find as optimistic of a portrait as IraqTheModel portrays.

OLBERMANN: Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the former Baghdad bureau chief for "The Washington Post." Great thanks, again, for your time, sir.

CHANDRASEKARAN: Good to be on with you.

OLBERMANN: Also tonight, his former chief of staff testifies under oath tomorrow about why Alberto Gonzales fired eight U.S. attorneys. We have breaking news about what will be in his initial statement. Will his testimony topple the attorney general?

And no, this is not a visual metaphor for Mr. Gonzales's support in Congress. It's a guy on skis, on an escalator, in a subway station.

And it's next on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Fifty-seven years ago tonight, City College of New York did the impossible. Its basketball team won the NCAA championship tournament by beating Bradley. Ten days earlier, CCNY had already won the more prominent basketball tournament of the time, the NIT, same season, also by beating Bradley. People marveled at how CCNY had beaten the odds. Little did they know. It later turned out that a couple of CCNY players had taken money to deliberately lose three games during the regular season. Please remember, no wagering on this next segment. It is fixed.

Let's play Oddball.

We begin in the Angel subway station in London, home of the longest escalator in Europe. And this is where we find Norwegian freestyle skier Arild (ph), who put a camera on his head and hit the slopes. Do not try this at home, nor in a subway station. You know, come to think of it, try it at home all you want. You can't possibly have an escalator that long in your house. Just don't do this in a London subway station. Police there are furious. They say they will arrest Arild for his reckless stunt, if they can catch him.

To the Internets, for another installment of our award-winning series, 575 Reasons Why Japanese Television Is Better Than Ours Is. Number 180, we never make game show contestants navigate a giant clock surrounded by whipped cream. Hey, boys and girls, what time is it? Time to take a shower, Skinny.

(INAUDIBLE) Germany, for a real-life King Kong story playing out at a local pond. Only it's a swan, who's fallen in love with a big paddleboat. Otherwise, it's just like King Kong. We're not sure what the real swan is hoping to get out of this relationship, but they make no more of an odd couple than do the world's tallest man and his new bride. That will make sense to you in a moment.

The fun is not over. The latest nominees for the first annual Keithy Awards are ahead, tonight's category, Internet Superstars, meaning nonporn, only slightly less nudity.

And will the attorney general or Harriet Miers or Karl Rove be exposed when Kyle Sampson testifies tomorrow? John Dean.

Those stories ahead.

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

Number three, Sylvester Stallone. At age 60, he is coming pack to do another Rambo movie for next year. Don't worry, because between the growth hormone they found him with in Australia and the 30-year-old body double, he's going to look fantastic.

Number two, Bao Xishun, of inner Mongolia, the world's tallest man, finally found love. He was married this week to saleswoman Xia Shu Jun (ph). He's 7'9. She's 5'6. This is the wedding photo. You can let your sick mind do the rest.

But number one, Toby, the two year old golden retriever. His owner Debby Parker of Calvert, Maryland, choked on an apple. Miss Calvert began to attempt the Heimlich maneuver on herself, unsuccessfully, whereupon Toby got up on his hind legs, knocked Miss Calvert down, and began jumping up and down on her chest, which helped dislodge the food. Toby can also purify poisoned springs, and writes his own blog about life in Baghdad.


OLBERMANN: Tonight, the Justice Department releasing more documents which threaten to further inflame the Justice Department scandal involving the firing eight U.S. attorneys for what, at best, leaves the sticky residue of apparent pure politics.

Our third story on the Countdown, an e-mail, just released to congressional investigators, in which Attorney General Gonzales' former Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson wanted the White House counsel to approve a Justice Department statement that, to its knowledge, Karl Rove played no role in the replacement of the U.S. attorney in Little Rock. He happened to be replaced by one of Rove's close aides.

Senator Chuck Schumer already reacting, saying, quote, in effect, the White House was involved in denying its own involvement. A growing number of Republicans see this story as a paralyzing distraction. Senator John Thune telling reporters today it steps on our message for sure. That could make tomorrow's testimony to the Senate by Mr. Sampson seem like River Dance.

The other imminent tangle for Gonzales involves Monica Goodling, the former Department of Justice White House liaison. White House e-mails indicating Miss Goodling took part in meetings about replacing attorneys, but she's telling senators she won't tell them anything. She'll plead the Fifth Amendment rather than answer their questions, a stance that FBI Director Robert Mueller thinks may be unprecedented for any employee at the Justice Department, ever.

Joining us now to preview tomorrow's testimony, White House counsel to Richard Nixon, John Dean, author, of course, of "Worse Than Watergate," and "Conservatives Without Conscience." John, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Late today the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Leahy and Mr. Schumer suggested there would not be a bombshell for Kyle Sampson. In fact, we have this statement, part of his opening statement, that indicates that he believes that everybody knew at Justice what was happening with the U.S. attorney firings, but none of it was political, and none of it was an effort to intervene or interfere with any ongoing investigation.

But this was before the latest e-mail. How does that e-mail change the playing field do you think?

DEAN: Well, I think it is going to be rather interesting for him up there. There's no question - let me back up. He was reported today as a good point guard, and very quick on his feet. So, I think we'll see some of that tomorrow when he testifies.

OLBERMANN: The latest USA poll, speaking on the subject of testimony, shows that Americans, by a margin of nearly three to one, want Congress to issue subpoenas, force the White House officials to testify in this case. Your latest column, you present a theory about why the president will never allow that to happen in a million years. Explain that theory. Expand on that theory for me. And if we won't allow to that to happen, gravity and logic and the laws of physics suggest he has to let something else happen instead. What would be that be?

DEAN: Well, it's a little bit more than a theory, Keith. I've watched the conservatives over the last three decades, in particular, adopt the stance of really insisting, as part of their cannon, at least the hard right, that you have a strong president. One of the prerogatives of a president is to protect his staff from giving any information about the operations of the presidency. Bush has come down very hard on that. I think that's one of the reasons, since he does adopt and embrace that philosophy, he's not going to let anybody testify over his dead body, if you will.

I think he is really going push it. He also probably likes the distraction politically from other things that are going on.

OLBERMANN: Obviously something else has to go on to get him out of this, because there's a push to do this. The idea of whether or not anyone can invoke the Fifth or use Executive Privilege to cover conversations among White House staffers is completely untried. What does he do to let the wind out of this particular saga?

DEAN: Well, if it comes down to - you know, if he refuses to give and the Congress refuses to change its position, the next step is that the Congress has to declare somebody in contempt of Congress. At that stage, what happens is the U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia then goes to court and takes it in front of a Grand Jury and decides whether or not you will prosecute the person who is in contempt of Congress.

It typically is resolved before it gets to that stage, but it can get fairly thrilling for the person who's being instructed by the president not to testify, if, indeed, it does go that far. So that's what often lets the wind out of it, to see who will blink first. And usually the White House is the one that blinks.

OLBERMANN: And thrilling, by the way, is a brilliant euphemism for, I'm sure, what that feeling actually is. But turning to Monica Goodling and this story. This Department of Justice official taking the Fifth before the Senate, never mind if it's unprecedented, never mind if it's unseemly. Is it legal? Can you actually do that, in theory, to someone who has oversight over your job, while you're still in that department?

DEAN: You just can't willy-nilly take the Fifth as an excuse not to testify. You really have to have some kind of jeopardy, or some kind of legitimate reason. That's typically discussed between counsel, or if you're really not testifying and using it improperly, the Senate will blow right through that and force her to testify. The other thing they could do is say, all right, we're going to immunize you, which they have power to do.

It takes a couple steps to do it, but that doesn't mean they can't do it pretty quickly. It is highly unprecedented for anybody from the Justice Department to invoke the Fifth Amendment. I think that was a good observation from the director of the FBI. I've been scratching my head ever since I heard about this. I think she's also probably alerted her BAR Association to look at her law license as a result of what she's doing.

OLBERMANN: John Dean, author of "Worse than Watergate," "Conservatives Without Conscience," for whom all of this has a very loud echo, certainly. As always, John, our great thanks for joining us.

DEAN: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Also tonight, the cartoons. He can't sing. He can barely dance. He does things with his hair. We have a prediction tonight that he is not only going to survive, he's going to win.

Much better to watch real talent on the Internet, and to create an entire award category for such heroes. Tonight, Keithie nominees, ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: When something is so bad, it's good, it's hard to quantify, but you know it when you see it. How convenient, since our number two story in the Countdown, how do you quantify, qualify or otherwise attach adjectives to this, Sanjaya Malakar, a contestant of the wacky singing game show "American Idol." What he stands for now hotly debated among those with nothing better to do. What sat atop his head last night, more easily detailed as something between a Mohawk and pony tail, and a debilitating head wound, a pony hawk.

Any likeness to dead animals notwithstanding. And four Idol now know that. Despite another sub-basement effort from his pipes, Mr. Malakar will probably sail through his next round based on his yikes?


SIMON COWELL, "AMERICAN IDOL": Look, Sanjaya, I don't think it matters anymore what we say, actually. I genuinely don't. I think you are in a your own universe and if people like you, good luck.


OLBERMANN: Joining us now columnist for from the "L.A. Times," Tom O'Neil Tom, good evening.

TOM O'NEIL, "L.A. TIMES": Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: All right, the opening proposition first, does this kid deserves the appellation he's so bad, he's good?

O'NEIL: Oh, this guy's so bad, he's too good to be true. Really, forget the singing for a minute. Think of the great camp tradition of American show business. Think of Liberace and Tiny Tim. There is something to be said for showmanship and this kid has it. Inside this little boy is a big Dame Edna screaming to come out.

OLBERMANN: I was just going to say Dame Edna. Barry Humphreys lives with a microphone. You actually see this. He's in on the joke? He's more than ready to push the button? He knows that - this is planned to be this way?

O'NEIL: I think that's what we learned last night. Before that we weren't sure. He was always kind of playing and toying with us, but last night, when he came out with that hair, it was so over the top, it was genius. I found out, by the way, that his mother went back stage right before the show, and saw that hair and said, Sanjaya, you can't go out. You can't go out. And he said mom, butt out. I know what I'm doing.

OLBERMANN: Thank god somebody over there does. Listen, I don't personally care who wins, but I will admit this now, I picked him in the office pool two weeks ago. I have money on this.

O'NEIL: All right!

OLBERMANN: If he does wins, does it destroy the slim veneer of credibility that the show clings to? Would that finally be the end of this whole mess?

O'NEIL: In a way, it could, because he's thumbing his nose and giving the finger to this show every moment that he is off key up there. So people who vote him are doing the same thing. But, you know what, Keith, this is exactly what the show deserves, if he wins. Because they set this up as a gong show at first. They show the worst acts at the beginning of the season. Well, now one survives and goes all the way.

By the way, as a side note, I hear from my sources at Fox News Channel, Bill O'Reilly is terrified of this guy. I think there's a puppet theater in this for you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Why is he terrified of him?

O'NEIL: I don't know. This is not part of the Eisenhower America, old conservative world that Mr. O'Reilly is used to. This is from the other planet, the scary planet.

OLBERMANN: I was going to say, this is not part of any world that we're used to in the slightest, but it does reflect well under the lights. Tom O'Neil, columnist for from the "L.A. Times," thank you, I think, for joining us.

O'NEIL: Thanks Keith.

OLBERMANN: And Maria Milito, the princess of "American Idol" will be back tomorrow to review what we saw. Turning from Sanjaya to people with actual talent, nominees in for the first annual Keithie Awards in the Internet superstars category. Your voting in a moment. First my voting, time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for Worst Person in the World.

The bronze, Sam Fox, the man nominated by the president as America's ambassador to Belgium, found to have donated $50,000 to the slanderous, anti-John Kerry Swift Boat Vets For Truth group. He's no longer the president's nomination for ambassador to Belgium. The president said today withdrew the nomination. Still to come, the Swift Boat Vets ad blaming the Democrats for the nomination.

Runner up, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, arguing against a withdrawal timetable on the floor of the Senate, saying, quote, it is clear that for the first time in a long time there is reason for cautious optimism about Iraq. For the first time? What about all the other times you've been optimistic, telling us about all the great progress, like during the 2006 campaign?

But our winners, the Sports Information Department at the College of Southern Idaho. Its media guide for its women's softball team presents answers to either/or questions from each of the players, you know, hamburger or hot dog, mountains or beaches, vanilla or chocolate, shaven or unshaven. Women's softball team shaven or unshaven? Must be referring to the bat barrels, shaven or unshaven bat barrels. Shaven or unshaven, the College of Southern Idaho Sports Information Department, today's Worst Persons in the World.


OLBERMANN: On this news hour, credit is always given where credit is due. Thus, we must thank the current president, George W. Bush, for it is he who unintentionally gave us the best definition for the world wide web and all its wonderful list, quote, the Internets. It is because of them, it, those that years later we are able to bring you this: The first annual best of the stuff we found on the Internets awards.

We've already announced the nominees for stuff that you missed on the TVs that the Internets made famous and the everyday idiots. Tonight's category, Internets superstars, non-porn. Again, our apologies for the non part. The nominees in a moment. First the super star spectrum.


OLBERMANN (voice-over): Talent is not an absolute necessity to become the Internets superstar, non porn, award winner. But give us something. Write a little song and sing it.


OLBERMANN: Maybe get your pals involved. Make a day out of it.


OLBERMANN: You have to have a plan and execute it, like Chad Vader did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have failed me for the last time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is what you said the last time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do not fail me again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because that will be the last time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, maybe, I don't know. Continue stocking.

OLBERMANN: Or the evolution of the dance guy. A few people thought he was funny. Or the OK Go Boys, who unlike some our Internet idiots, figure out how to use a treadmill.

Some have fun with science, like the Diet Coke and Mentos guys.

Others try to make finance fun.


OLBERMANN: Yes, that's never going to work. How about fitness? OK, that is just - what the hell's going on here? As in every Keithie category, there are reluctant superstars, folks who never sought the spotlight. The spotlight found them. Like, maybe you just had a bad day and you hate balloons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a joke. It's not a joke, Alex. Look at me being serious.

OLBERMANN: Or maybe you hate something else.

GEORGE ALLEN, FORMER SENATOR FROM VIRGINIA: Let's give a warm welcome to Macaca here.

OLBERMANN: Or perhaps you just love wrestling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to thank each and every one of you for all you have done to your bodies. It's still real to me, damn it.

OLBERMANN: Here, you are among the Internet giants. The Chinese Back Street Boys, The Numa Numa kid, Denny Blaze, the average homeboy, and Montgomery Flea Market guy.


OLBERMANN: You want to make it onto the Internets, you better bring your A game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Winnebago concepts and engineering departments have developed a multi-functional bathroom, privacy - I don't even know what the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I'm reading. Why don't I say it (EXPLETIVE DELETED) right? Why does the god (EXPLETIVE DELETED) line say, Tony? Son of a bitch. Get out of here you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) flies.

OLBERMANN: If you can dance, come on down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, I'm Dianne Warner and welcome to country hip-hop, the newest trend in country line dancing.

OLBERMANN: Can you fit into a Tron costume? Let's get it on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Becoming the Tron guy really changed my life.

OLBERMANN: Internet super stardom is not for the faint of heart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And tell mommy again what you said you were going to do to him if he came here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said, I'm going to kick his ass.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, that's not nice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he's going to come in here, he's going to kick my ass.

OLBERMANN: It's a moment in time, your one shot at glory. And good or bad, it is going to live forever, whether you like it or not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Passes it to the man, and boom goes the dynamite.


OLBERMANN: And the nominees for Internets superstar, non-porn category, are the worst dive in city council history. It's the one we call best actress.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She had it in the eye. Stop that man from leaving the room. She struck the woman. She should be arrested.


OLBERMANN: Down goes Frazier, a rolled up wad of paper can be fatal.

Nest, the original reluctant superstar, the Star Wars kid.

Our third nominee, that creepiest thing from India, the littlest superstar.

He is dating the "kick his ass" three-year-old, charming guy.

Our next nominee is not, we repeat, is not former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

And our final nominee for Internets superstar, non-porn category, oh baby, that is funny.

There you have them, the nominees for the first ever Keithie award for Internets superstar, non-porn category. Now we turn it over to you, the real deciders, to figure out who is the most deserving of the top honor. Vote on our website, I've suddenly become Lawrence Welk. And vote as many times as you like. You have until noon Friday to pick your favorite superstar. You can even watch all our nominees in all our categories and vote for them too.

Your Keithies winners will be revealed on this show Friday night. Tomorrow night's slate of nominees, the animals of the Internets, again, non-porn. That is it for Countdown for this 1,445th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.