Friday, June 29, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for June 29

Guests: Mo Rocca

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

With 329 Americans now dead in Iraq in just the last three months, the Democrats tonight say, Enough. Probably.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER: We have many arrows in our quiver, and we are sharpening them.


OLBERMANN: But are the arrows just for display, or is anybody goes to use them? The Democratic leadership promises votes to stop the war in the upcoming month.

The detainees at Gitmo, the Supreme Court votes to overrule itself from just two months ago. Now, it will listen to arguments about making sure the prisoners have the right of appeal. The military lawyer for Salim Hamdan, Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift, joins us.

The London bomb scare. A car discovered overnight in Piccadilly Circus, filled with canisters of propane and gasoline and nails, possibly to be detonated by a remote device, possibly a second vehicle connected to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the device had detonated, there could have been significant injury or loss of life.


OLBERMANN: And how did they find it? Did a detainee crack? Did an illegal wiretap hit paydirt? No, an ambulance crew helping a guy who fell down in a nightclub saw smoke coming out of the car.

The threat from Rupert Murdoch to buy "The Wall Street Journal" and make it a right-wing national daily propaganda outlet, to try to shout down "The New York Times." This from a man who actually said...


RUPERT MURDOCH, NEWS CORP.: There's progress in Iraq. All the kids are back in school.


OLBERMANN: Tonight, part two of our profile of key (ph) Rupert Murdoch.

And Bill Frist pretended to adopt cats as pets, then used them for medical research. Rudy Giuliani's wife worked for a company that killed puppies. Mitt Romney caged his dog on his car roof for a 12-hour trip. And this speaks for itself. Mo Rocca joins us to answer, Why do Republicans hate America's pets?

All that and more, tonight on Countdown.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Barney's got him a headache.


OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.

When it comes to putting pressure on the White House to end the war in Iraq, Democrats in Congress would seem to have no problem with the first step, introducing measures that would bring the troops home. The hard part comes in actually having the spine to pass the legislation once President Bush starts threatening to veto it, and to generally badmouth the opposition when he does so.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, stopping the war, take two. When the president warned of a bloody, very difficult summer last month, he probably did not anticipate that the phrase might also describe his relationship with Capitol Hill, the Democratic leadership looking to redeem itself, announcing it would make a different legislative attempt to force a troop withdrawal from Iraq, and possibly to regain the favor of its disaffected antiwar base, House Speaker Pelosi saying she would seek a vote on a measure that would start bringing the troops home within 180 days, with a goal of complete transition into a noncombat role by April 1, 2008.

But this time, the move would not be attached to a funding bill, the Senate considering legislation of its own, the big hurdle there getting any measures to survive the 60-vote threshold needed to survive a filibuster, Speaker Pelosi confident that any hurdles could be overcome.


PELOSI: The Republicans have the 60-vote barrier. The president has the pen. But we have the support of the American people, who want this war to come to an end.


OLBERMANN: As for what Iraq might look like in the weeks ahead, "The Los Angeles Times" reporting that U.S. commanders there are planning a summer of stepped-up offensives against al Qaeda-linked insurgents in Iraq, in anticipation that Congress could soon seek to impose a timeline for withdrawal, 100 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq so far in the month of June, 329, 330 by some accounts, in the last three months, the deadliest quarter since the war began.

Time now to call in our own Jonathan Alter, also senior editor at "Newsweek" magazine.

Jon, good evening.


OLBERMANN: By not attaching their measures to funding bills this time, would that immunize the Democrats when the president tries to demonize them, when he inevitably vetoes this thing?

ALTER: Yes, I don't think the demonizing works. You know, the last time he vetoed this withdrawal bill, they didn't have the right - the votes to override the veto, but they had the upper hand politically. The politics on this, Keith, are changing really fast. You had Senator Lugar, who has now come out, Republican, former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, come out for changing the policy and getting out from within this civil war.

So President Bush is not a lame duck, he's a cooked goose politically. He has no legs to stand on. And it may be that July is a pivotal month in starting to wind down this war.

OLBERMANN: And yet, for the skeptics, who certainly have reason to be skeptical after what happened in the spring, what conditions might lend themselves to a Democratic capitulation down the line on any new measure to start bringing the troops home from Iraq? Because, to some degree, it did happen before.

ALTER: It really wasn't a capitulation. This is where, you know, I've had some disagreements with some Democrats on this. Some people in the blogosphere claimed, you know, that the Democrats cried uncle. They didn't have the votes. They may not have the votes now. We'll see. But this is a moving story, and it may be that they can get enough Republican support.

And that's where the real struggle is here, is to get Republicans to go along in order to break a filibuster and override a veto.

OLBERMANN: This is a grim calculus, but is the hastening - is the quickening of the pace that you refer to a direct result of the body count, of this horrific number of 329 dead in the last three months?

ALTER: You know, I think it's less that than just people in Washington now know the surge isn't working. The policy is folly. It simply doesn't work to get in the middle of somebody else's civil war.

And so, I, you know, it's taken long enough, but even on the Republican side now, there's a sense that we do need to move in a different direction in Iraq. They're not going to do it right away. Even the Democrats are talking about a timetable of withdrawal in April of next year. But you're going to see, in the summer and into next fall, the beginning of some fundamental reassessment about whether we should be doing this.

But the Democrats need Republican votes. So that's where we want to really watch carefully, is to see who joins Senator Lugar and Senator Warner and some of the other Republicans.

OLBERMANN: We'll see if Lugar is the first through the gates there in bringing how many with him.

Jonathan Alter of "Newsweek." As always, great thanks. Have a great weekend.

ALTER: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: And the president has suffered a setback in the defining legal battle of his presidency today, the Supreme Court, over his objection, announcing that in its next term, which starts in October, the justices will indeed hear a case brought by Guantanamo Bay detainees, a case poised to decide once and for all whether America's constitutional guarantee of habeas corpus, the right to challenge your detention in court, applies to those detainees.

Mr. Bush says detainees do not need habeas corpus because the military tribunals guarantee their rights. The decision to hear the case a reversal from April, the first such 180 in decades by this court. What changed? The court would not say, but a defense filing last Friday included a sworn declaration from a former member of those tribunals, the first insider to come forward with details of the secretive process.

Lieutenant Colonel Steven Abraham writes that several agencies stonewalled attempts to find exculpatory information. And when he sat as a tribunal judge, quote, "It was well known that anytime a panel determined that a detainee was not properly classified as an enemy combatant, the panel members would have to explain their finding to the deputy director. The focus of inquiry on the part of the leadership was, What went wrong?"

Let's turn now to one of the pivotal players in this battle, Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift, military attorney in the landmark case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which led Congress to create the tribunals, attempting to bring the administration into some kin of compliance with our Constitution.

Commander, a pleasure to speak with you again tonight, sir.

CMDR. CHARLES SWIFT: Good evening. Pleasure to be here, Keith.

OLBERMANN: What happens now?

SWIFT: Well, now, the detainees are going to go ahead and brief for the Supreme Court, as will the government, and we'll hear arguments, presumably in October, maybe in November, when the court comes back into session to determine whether habeas corpus continues to exist in Guantanamo Bay after Congress's acts last fall.

OLBERMANN: How does the affidavit from Colonel Abraham change this battle and change the - perhaps the Supreme Court's perspective on what we're dealing with here?

SWIFT: Well, in one sense, it revealed nothing new. From the commission's perspective on the case that I've worked on, prosecutors had said the exact same thing, that they were stonewalled out of information, and agencies said they weren't going to give them exculpatory evidence. That was two years ago.

Abrahams, what his declaration does, is show what we already knew, from being down in the tribunals being held down there, that the exact same thing was happening in the so-called combat status review tribunals. And the irregularities with those tribunals, along with other problems, are one of the reasons the military judges presumably dismissed the cases in the military commissions.

The combat status tribunals just haven't lived up to their billing. And when Justices Kennedy and Stevenson said they waited and needed to see more, one only can presume that they've seen enough, and it's now time to act.

OLBERMANN: Colonel Abraham wrote that the tribunal panelists had to explain every ruling in favor of the defendants, which he did his first time out, and then he never sat on a panel again. Is that consistent with your own experience in dealing in this process?

SWIFT: It is, sadly. Though in my - in Hamdan's case, the - I was actually called as a witness, because I'd investigated his case. The panel had agreed that I should be a witness. And then the admiral who was in charge of the process said, Well, we're going to hold the tribunal today, on a day that I couldn't be there, and overruled the president's - of the panel's decision to give a continuance so that I could attend it.

We were going to wait five days, the admiral changed that around, and then argued that five days would have been too much a delay, after two years with no tribunal at all.

So, you know, the process wherein the commission - the - those combat tribunals were simply done again until you got the right result, so to speak, was one of the most glaring weaknesses in their process.

OLBERMANN: I have to ask you a hypothetical question that I'm sure you've heard phrased to you in some way and under other circumstances. We're going to talk about whatever this was that happened in London today. And I get hit with this question a lot, I'm sure you do too. When there is a terror scare somewhere in the world, as there was today, no matter whether it was legitimate or serious or this side of being a disaster or not, when people say to you, But these are the people you're defending, give me the answer that explains why that's such an erroneous conclusion.

SWIFT: It's an erroneous conclusion for exactly the reasons that Colin Powell set out on why to close Guantanamo Bay. Our strength is the rule of law. More and more, these scares are coming from homegrown organizations. And Guantanamo Bay, and our failure to follow (INAUDIBLE) processes and set ourselves out as the good guys, the guys who are on the side of the rule of law, continue instead of suppressing al Qaeda to actually grow it, or grow the movement, as it angers more and more people around the world.

This is a hearts and minds battle. And part of winning the hearts and minds is to use the process of law. It's our greatest strength, their greatest weakness, and we keep not playing up to our strengths.

OLBERMANN: Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift, the U.S. Navy defense attorney representing the Gitmo detainee Salim Hamdan. A pleasure to have spoken with you again tonight, sir. And as I said when we shared the same stage in Boston, pleasure to be in the same country with you, sir.

SWIFT: Thanks very much, Keith. Have a good evening.


It was not a tortured detainee who led London police to two parked cars filled with combustible components today. It was an emergency medical technician who noticed the smoke coming out of one of them. Was it even a car bomb?

We are advised that this newscast makes the smoke come out of Rupert Murdoch's ears. Fire up the grill, Rupe. Part two of our profile of the man who wants to turn "The Wall Street Journal" into a print version of Fox Noise.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: The Bush administration's twin mantras for war in Iraq, that we need to go outside the Constitution to interrupt terrorism, and that we need to fight terrorists there so they do not follow us here, turned on their twin heads early this morning by a chance discovery in London, not by an interrogation unit, but by an ambulance crew attending to an injured man near Piccadilly Circus, noticing what appeared to be smoke come from a Mercedes parked outside a nightclub, what we now know to have been an explosive or combustible device that had failed to detonate.

Our fourth story on the Countdown, the details of the plot, whatever they were, still emerging at this hour, a second car inspected by authorities because it had been illegally parked, so they towed it, both vehicles said to have contained inflammable materials, what we know in just the first car to have been several propane gas canisters described as patio gas canisters, nails, and around 50 gallons of gasoline, officials saying that the cell phone that was part of the first car bomb, if it was a bomb, had received two incoming phone calls.

It failed to initiate any explosions before police managed to disable it. The cars, parked within blocks of each other in the heart of London's theater district, at the height of the summer tourist season, the timing, 36 hours after a new prime minister had taken office, a week before the anniversary of the July 7 subway bombings there.

Let's turn now to Larry Johnson, former CIA officer, was a deputy director of the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism under the first President Bush.

Larry, thanks again for some of your time tonight.


OLBERMANN: The mechanics of this, you got dozens of surveillance cameras blanketing this area, might be the most-photographed area in the world, as the cars are parked. There's 50 gallons of gas in the first car, camper-sized canisters of propane, meaning they're used by campers, and some nails. What happens if you actually manage to spark this device?

JOHNSON: It's going to do a lot of damage to the interior of the Mercedes, but it's not - this is not one of the car bombs or truck bombs we see going off in Iraq.

I mean, what's really striking about this, Keith, is, today you had two nonbombs in London, and we had at least five bombs in Baghdad, in which U.S. soldiers were killed in one of those. So it's just - I think it's sort of out of proportion. This was an incendiary, this was not a high explosive.

OLBERMANN: I've read and heard nothing in any of the coverage here, nothing in these news conferences, about a detonating device apart from a cell phone. What was supposed to cause this thing to blow up? Because if we can put together car bombs with half a tank of gas and some propane and an old cell phone, then every drunken Hollywood starlet is a potential car bomber, isn't she?

JOHNSON: Right. Well, I think the fuel, the petrol, the 50 gallons, if you set that on fire, that fire can spark an explosion in a propane tank. But I've seen those go off, and when they go off, it's an enormous boom. It splits the tank. But you're not going to get fragments and projectiles like a hand grenade going off. So you wouldn't want to be in the car when it happened, but, you know, if somebody was within, you know, 20, 30 feet of it, they would have ear damage, but not much more.

OLBERMANN: So we're not talking about shrapnel, then?

JOHNSON: Correct. This is not a shrapnel-causing device. And clearly, the folks who put this together, you know, we're looking at yuppie terrorists, at a minimum. They can afford a Mercedes, but they couldn't afford enough money to get a decent class in how to make a bomb that would actually go off. Thank God.

OLBERMANN: Or steal one.

JOHNSON: Thank God.

OLBERMANN: Yes, or steal one, as has been (INAUDIBLE) implied here by the police. But what does alarm you about this, other than the media's kind of nodding-head doll coverage of this?

JOHNSON: Well, I think the other thing that alarms me about it is that we're so ho-hum when we have this body count piling up every day in Baghdad, where daily there are bombs, car bombs, truck bombs going off, and everyone is like, Well, OK, you just get used to it. And you have a nonevent in London, and we're going to battle quarters and beginning to give the old hairy eyeball to every Muslim, when it's not even clear yet that - You know, all we know is that these were people who could afford a Mercedes. That's the extent of what we know about this so far.

OLBERMANN: The practical stuff that maybe should be worrisome, obviously, there are terrorists, there are people who want to do horrific things. No question about any of that. But the idea that we need to fight the terrorists in Iraq, got to fight them there so they don't follow us here, whatever this was in London today, they were already presumably there, unless this was the graduating al Qaeda bomb squad class, which they need remedial work. I mean, does that logic about fighting them there instead of here even hold together slightly tonight?

JOHNSON: No, not at all. In fact, what we know is that the U.S. conflict over there, U.S. involvement over there, is aggravating the problem, not calming it. So I think what we need to do is continue to rely upon good intelligence, good police work, but ultimately, you know, neighbors watching out for each other.

OLBERMANN: Where, besides you, are the skeptics who know what they're talking about in this? Is there a problem with expertise on television about terrorism that nine out of 10 guys who come on TV have a vested interest in there being terrorism, otherwise their counterterrorism companies wouldn't exist any more?

JOHNSON: Keith, we saw about three years ago General Richard Myers, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, say that the threat of terrorism was the greatest threat we've faced in this country in the United States since the Civil War. And what we know factually is that fewer than 50,000 people, not just Americans, but all people worldwide, have died from international terrorism since 1968. We lose 50 million people plus in World War II, and we have someone like General Myers saying that this is the greatest threat?

It's a threat, but we need to put it in its proper perspective and go back and remember the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It's the fear. If we allow the fear to conquer us, and allow the fear to drive us to do things like allow Guantanamos, like allow torture, then we ourselves become victims to that very thing which we say we're trying to fight.

And that's - you know, I think big deep breaths, remain calm, and let's stop with some of the alarmist behavior.

OLBERMANN: Larry Johnson, former CIA officer, former counterterrorism officer. Great thanks, Larry. We appreciate it.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: But remember, no matter how much the government might scare you, keep buying products. The iPhone is here. Turns out to have been a bad day to introduce the ultimate mobile device, correct?

And your tax dollars in action, the elephant street cleaning team. I'm thinking there's also something counterproductive about having elephants walking through the street cleaning up garbage. Maybe exactly what that is will come to me.

Next on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: On New Year's Eve, he once said, resonating around this network particularly, people in New Jersey stay up till midnight and watch their hopes drop. Sixty years ago today in Brooklyn, actor and comedian Richard Lewis was born, and consequently, the world would improve ever so slightly. Happy birthday, and much love, Prince.

On that note, let's play Oddball.

We begin in Ayutaya (ph), Thailand, where local officials have come up with a solution to both the lack of ready labor and the litter problem, elephant street cleaners. There are now six pachydermers - pachyderms patrolling the area, meandering around the popular tourist destination. This might be a counterproductive situation, please, given the amount of stuff each elephant puts out every day. It's still unclear if the town is net cleaner or net dirtier.

To the Internets, where, much like the Star Wars kid behind - before him, the Dramatic Chipmunk, or prairie dog, or shaved guinea pig, well, whatever the hell that rodent actually is, it's also become everyone's favorite clip to edit. Roll em.

"Ironside." That's enough.

A man who used his own editors and reporters to dig up dirt on his business rivals, a man who thinks Brit Hume does a straight newscast, a man who threatens government officials, the man who was this close to taking over "The Wall Street Journal," part two of the Rupert Murdoch story tonight.

And Republicans and kittens and puppies, using adopted kittens for medical experiments, caging a pet dog on the roof of a car for a 12-hour trip. These stories ahead.

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

Number three, dumb criminal of the day, Branden M. Tingey of Wilmington, Delaware. Years ago, he'd been fired as a manager at a restaurant there, so he decided to break into the place, break into the safe, and take some of the night's revenue with him. That's where they found him, using the restaurant's computer, going online, looking for instructions on how to break into a safe.

Number two, Denise Aughney of Ogden, Utah. She was a secretary for a school foundation, and she figured out how to take home a little money of its - a little of its money for herself. She embezzled $1,120,000. Now, she has written to the Webber (ph) school district, saying she hopes it's changed its policies and its auditors too, so, quote, "This is not so easily done again." Yes, that's exactly what they want from you right now, lady, a scolding.

And the same for number one, Jane Balogh of Seattle. She was about to plead no contest to a charge of making false statements on a voter registration form. She claimed voter registration was too easy, too easily corrupted, so she registered her dog, Duncan. She was about to take the punishment when the election officials in Washington state announced with great satisfaction that her decision proved the system works. No, it doesn't, points out the scolded Miss Balogh, who has now pleaded not guilty, because Duncan the dog is still registered to vote.


OLBERMANN: In 1976, Rupert Murdoch bought from its family ownership what had been for 30 years the country's strongest, self-proclaimed liberal newspaper and promised not to change it. It was the "New York Post." It can now no longer be described either as liberal, nor even as a newspaper. Our third story on the Countdown, 31 years later, Murdoch wants the "Wall Street Journal" and is negotiating with its family owners on editorial control.

According to "Time Magazine," if Murdoch succeeds in his bid, quote, "he would like the newspaper to be a national counterpoint to the "New York Times" in setting the country's agenda." Quoting Murdoch, "my worry about the "New York Times" is that it's got the only position as a national elitist general interest paper. So the network news picks up its cues from the Times and local tapes do too. It has a huge influence. And we would love to challenge it."

Huge influence, exactly what everything Rupert Murdoch touches is geared to do, from his political connections to his newspapers and TV stations and so-called fair and balanced noise channel. Even though, as we've seen in part two of our study tonight of Rupert Murdoch, he constantly denies any bias.


BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Fair, balanced and unafraid.

OLBERMANN (voice-over): When asked by "Time Magazine" whether the Fox News Channel expresses his political views, Murdoch replied, quote, yes, no, yes, and no. The commentators are not. Bill O'Reilly is certainly not. Geraldo Rivera certainly not. But Brit Hume and his team on the nightly news, yes. They play it absolutely straight.

Absolutely straight? Here is Brit Hume on the prisoner abuse in Gitmo.

HUME: I think that these kinds of problems and accusations and so forth grow out of a community that stretches from the American left through much of Europe to enemies across the world, from which terrorism springs, who want the world to believe that America is what's wrong with the world.

OLBERMANN: And while we are at this, here is Rupert Murdoch himself after the invasion of Iraq.

RUPERT MURDOCH, NEWSCORP OWNER: Tremendous purpose in Iraq. All the kids are back in school, 10 percent more than when Saddam Hussein lived there. There's 100 percent more fresh water.

OLBERMANN: And Murdoch does not just use his media empire to influence the populace, but also to help him acquire even more media. Back in 1984, when Murdoch was trying to buy "Time Warner," the "New York Times" reported that he, quote, "assigned a Post editor and two reporters to help his lawyers unearth information about Steven J. Ross, the chairman and chief executive officer of Warner."

Murdoch says he does not remember doing that. But if he did, then it was wrong. But as the "New York Times" points out in its latest investigation into Murdoch, he used the "New York Post" once again to do his dirty work when he went after the Nielson Company 20 years later, in 2004. When Nielson's new ratings technique showed some of Murdoch's ventures, particularly minority programing, doing badly, he pulled out all the stops, using lobbyists and Republican allies to introduce a bill to stop the change, sending the bill's proponents at least 144,650 dollars in donations, while simultaneously running anti-Nielson headlines in his "New York Post" tabloid and manufacturing a grassroots opposition that included people such as the Reverend Al Sharpton.

Things got so bad, the head of Nielson, Susan Whiting (ph), hired a bodyguard. She later accused Murdoch of using even nastier tactics, charging that two of his flacks, including his own son, said they would do, quote, everything possible to discredit you and the company in Washington. Murdoch also did something similar to the then FCC chair Reid E. Hunt (ph) during the Clinton administration after he started investigating whether Newscorp Broke the law in starting up the Fox Broadcast Network.

The "New York Times" citing two former FCC officials saying that Murdoch, through his lobbyists, told Mr. Hunt's chief of staff that the FCC chairman couldn't, quote, get a job as dog catcher if he touched News Corp TV stations.

But most of Murdoch's methods of political persuasion appear to be more subtle. For example, through his publishing company, he has sold books written by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Senator Arlen Specter and Senator Trent Lott. Each sits on the Commerce or Judiciary Committees that monitor the media. And senator Lott's book deal happened just months before he backed down on a Congressional effort to limit media ownership to 35 percent of American homes, allowing that level to be set instead at 39 percent; 39 percent, the exact number of houses Mr. Murdoch's interests reach.

Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court, Senator Chuck Hagel also have book deals with Murdoch, as once did Newt Gingrich, now a Fox News contributor, a 4.5 million dollar book deal, to be precise, inked just as Congress was looking to redraw media ownership laws. Murdoch later fired the book's editor for the Gingrich deal, saying it was uneconomical.

Finally, there are the direct financial incentives to all politicians. The "New York Times" again reporting that "an analysis of campaign finance records show that since 1997, Republicans have received only a slight majority, 56 percent, of the 4.76 million in campaign donations from the Murdoch family and the News Corporation's political action committees and employees.

And while he donates millions to the lawmakers of America, Mr. Murdoch has given little back to the actual people who made him those millions here, the viewers and readers who buy his products. According again to the "New York Times," "by taking advantage of a provision in the law that allows expanding companies like Mr. Murdoch's to defer taxes to future years, the News Corporation paid no federal taxes in two of the last four years. And in the other two, it paid only a fraction of what it otherwise would have owed."

"During that time, Securities and Exchange Commission records show the News Corporation's domestic pretax profits topped 9.4 billion dollars.


OLBERMANN: Almost the price of an iPhone. Well, it's here, cell phone, MP3 player, blender, washer, dryer. And wait until you see what it costs.

Britney Spears shows some restraint, unfortunately it's not in personal conduct, It's a restraining order against her own mom. That's next. This is Countdown.


OLBERMANN: It's come to this: the guy at the head of the line in New York City waiting to buy his iPhone at exactly 6:00 p.m. prevailing local time tonight was an inveterate compulsive publicity hound, Greg Packer, known as New York's official man on the street interviewee.

But in Philadelphia, the third guy on the line there had a little better resume, Mayor John Street. He's a gadget junkie and he got in line yesterday to great criticism, because not only was he on the taxpayer's dime at the moment, but the guy standing in for him when he actually had to duck out to do city business somewhere was from his city security detail. He claims the city has benefited mightily from my interest in technology. Presumably this means all other Philadelphians will get a chance to borrow Mayor Street's new iPhone.

Because in our number two story on the Countdown, it's here. People who stood in line for days finally burst through the doors of the Apple Store in the Big Apple at 6:00 this evening. The phones selling at 6:00 p.m. in every time zone, sweeping the country like some digital New Year's Eve minus the Dick Clark.

No injuries reported unless you count this Fox noise reporter, who was interviewing one of the iPhone guinea pigs, when a passerby mysteriously lunged for the equipment she was holding, and not the equipment the expert was holding.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to create a mob scene, but he's got one. Now, we're going to need some security around here, probably.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only four people got to test this out.


OLBERMANN: And where is Fox security when you actually need it? Anyway, back to the iPhone, I point. Our correspondent, George Lewis, is at the Grove Mall in Los Angeles as the minutes click down until the West Coast witching hour. George, good evening.

GEORGE LEWIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Keith, I feel kind of like Gollum. I have the precious in my hand here. An iPhone which was loaned to me by one of the Apple guys, who is standing right off camera, ready to take it back the minute I finish talking here. People have been waiting out in the hot California sun all day to get their hands on one.

The scene is similar across the country, long lines at Apple and AT&T stores. Tonight, we're told that the computer glitch at AT&T caused a lot of people at their stores not to get instant credit approval when they handed over their plastic. But AT&T tells us that has been cleared up.

Apple is billing the iPhone as an all-purpose device that will let you surf the web, let you send and receive email, let you play your tunes, let you play your videos, and oh yes, it takes and receives phone calls too. So it's a phone, it's an iPod. It's a number of devices all wrapped up in one.

And the promotional hype has just been over the top. I was asking the Apple people, was there this sort of buzz around the iPod when they introduced that and sort of revolutionized the music industry. And they pointed out, the iPod was introduced just a few weeks after 9/11, so there was not this kind promotional hype and promotional buzz.

So people are obviously reacting. Apple is hoping to sell 10 million units in the first year. Some forecasters think they'll sell a million of them in the first weekend, the way things are going.

The downside of the device is that it operates often a fairly slow data network, not the highest-speed data network. So surfing the web takes a little bit of patience. The other drawback is the battery is built into the unit. It's sort of like an iPod in that regard. But it's your phone, so there's no spare battery to go to. Keith?

OLBERMANN: George Lewis at the Grove in Los Angeles. I'm afraid you have to give it back now. Many thanks, George.

LEWIS: Yes, I do.

OLBERMANN: Moving on now from technology that's a marvel to marbles, or the loss there of, Keeping Tabs, our nightly look at celebrity and entertainment news. And Britney Spears said to feel betrayed like totally by her mother for presuming or pressuring her, rather, to enter Promise, the celebrity rehab center last February. According to, she also blames her former manager and her soon to be former husband Kevin Federline, but believes post partum depression, Prozac and too much paparazzi were her real problems, not drugs or booze.

Britney Spears firing her manager and recently seen handing her mother some kind of papers, leading to speculation of a legal order to grandma to stay away from the grand kids.

And the passing of ABC News movie critic Joel Siegel reported tonight after a long battle with colon cancer. Joel Siegel part of the "Good Morning America" teem for a quarter century. A local TV movie critic for at decade before that, a critic who knew the business he was criticizing and had written jokes for the 1968 campaign of Robert Kennedy, writing for advertising and radio, even writing a play.

The only Broadway critic ever nominated for a Tony. He also founded Guilda's (ph) Club to help families stricken with cancer, named after the comedian Guilda Radner, who also died of cancer. The ABC News website headlining Joel Siegel's obituary, a good life lived with humor and insight. He was 63 years old.

And why is it Mitt Romney and not Mutt Romney? Perhaps because he once took his dog with him on a 12-hour car trip. The dog was caged on the roof of the car. Republicans versus their own pets.

That's ahead but first time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for Worst Person in the World. The bronze to Amtrak. It's employees, on one of the Arizona runs, decided that 65-year-old retiree Roosevelt Simms was drunk and disorderly. So they ordered the train to stop in a national forest and kicked Mr. Simms off. He has now been found at Williams, Arizona after three days in the wild. He wasn't drunk and disorderly on board the train, he had gone into diabetic shock.

The silver to CNN, which has made a programming switch in the 8:00 p.m. eastern time slot for this next week. Summarized in his blog by Joe Klein of "Time Magazine", employee of the company that owns CNN, Chairman Richard Parsons, and of the same high school I went to. Writes Joe, quote, the world is a bit after mess right now and CNN gives us Glen Beck. Please, Mr. Parsons, sir, is this any way to show respect for your, our viewers? Can't we, like, try a week of smart, see how that works? Just asking, your devoted employee, Joe Klein.

Now that's how a Hackly (ph) man writes. Yale alma mater, sing we now thy praise and glory.

And the winner Coulter-geist. Yes, we have laid off her on this latest unforgivable stuff about John Edwards, because kind of Bill Maher had escalated it about Dick Cheney. And they're both wrong when they talk about violence. But now she says about her hate-filled appearance on "Hardball", I doubled the ratings of the lowest-rated cable news show on Tuesday by agreeing to go on for a full hour, a mistake I won't make again.

Trust me, it was our mistake. Ann's mistakes were, "Hardball" is not even close to being the lowest rated anything. And she didn't double anybody's ratings. The combined demo rating for the day before on Hardball was 257,000 viewers. The combined demo rating for the day she was on was 270,000 viewers.

Ann Coulter is worth exactly 13,000 viewers, or maybe not. Maybe the extra 13,000 were watching because there wasn't a good rerun of "The Gilmore Girls" playing on Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. Coulter-geist, today's Worst Person in the World!


OLBERMANN: No matter how grand it's ambitions, politics often has the feel of a dog and pony show, so it's a good idea to be kind to the animals. In our number one story on the Countdown, a disturbing trend though, good old pets and other animals mistreated by the grand old party, most prominently the case of presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and the Irish Setter.

This week's "Boston Glob," an otherwise heartwarming account of a family vacation for the Romneys back in 1983. When Romney loaded up the white Chevy station wagon with his wife, his many kids, all the luggage. But what to do with Shamus, the family's Irish Setter. Well, evidently, there was not much room left inside, so Mr. Romney put Shamus in a dog carrier and secured it to the station wagon's roof rack.

We have no actual photograph, but you get the idea. Romney even fashioned a wind shield for the carrier, considerate of him, but also crucial, since he was driving from Boston to Ontario, a 12 hour trip. Now, more than two decades later, comes the blow back. The president for People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals saying, quote, "If you wouldn't strap your child to the roof of your car, you have no business doing that to the family dog."

Let's call in television personality Mo Rocca, also author, of course, of "All the President's Pets." Mo, good evening.


OLBERMANN: That part of the story we haven't shared yet, poor Shamus made a mess on top of that car during the trip. Mr. Romney had to pull over, had to hose off the wagon and the dog. It's been noted, by the way, that Massachusetts law prohibits transporting a pet in an unnecessarily cruel or inhuman manner. PETA president called it torture. Does this tail pose a little problem for the former governor's presidential chances?

ROCCA: You know, in Massachusetts, if you harm an Irish dog, you get the chair. You should also point that out. Of course it poses a problem. We are a nation of dog lovers. The only person that can be happy to hear this is LBJ, smiling from the grave. He's finally off the hook for holding his beagles up by the ears. In Romney's defense, he said that Shamus the dog enjoyed the fresh air. And Romney did make sure to shellac the dog with the same stuff he uses on his hair. So it's not like the dog's hair got messed up.

OLBERMANN: Couldn't even move if used enough of it. On the other hand, does unintentional harm to pets sit a little bit better with the populous? Because we the president, the famous video of him dropping Barney on his head. The president isn't too popular to begin with, but was the Barney incident a factor in his ratings slide?

ROCCA: Well, the Bushes have historically treated their pets very well. I think everybody in both parties would agree with that. But remember Bob Woodward recorded Bush saying this about Iraq, quote, I will not withdrawal, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me, end quote. Which can only mean one thing, Barney stopped supporting the Iraq policy, so Bush dropped him on the tarmac.

OLBERMANN: And that was followed by Senator Lugar, who followed Barney's lead.

ROCCA: Right, ouch.

OLBERMANN: To the darker side, Bill Frist admitting in an autobiography that while he was in medical training in the 1970's, he use to adopt cats on the premise of making them pets and then use them in medical experiments. Even he described that as heinous. Do you think that had something to do with his decision not to run for president?

ROCCA: It sounds like an evil scheme hatched by dogs. The worst parts is that nobody cared about the fate of these cats. They were like hookers. It was horrible. This, by the way, is why we need a foster cat system for cats, to vet, if you will, perspective adoptive parents before they are permanent parents.

Quick factoid, by the way, Ida Mckinley, wife of William Mckinley, had four Angora kittens, two named after Spanish diplomats. And when the USS Maine went down, she drowned two of the cats, the two with the Spanish names and that is true.

OLBERMANN: This is an unfortunate segue then, because there was the report from a couple months ago about Judith Nathan, who is married to Rudy Giuliani, who had demonstrated surgical products during the 1970's for a company that used puppies in demonstrations for surgical staplers. She didn't do those demonstrations herself. Her husband says she's a wonderful woman, of course. But Republicans, the 1970's, practicing on animals, was this some kind of evil e that we are just now learning about?

ROCCA: Remember, Cruella de Nathan only loaded the stapler. She would tell you, first ladies don't kill dog with staplers, something like that. I think there was a lot of frustration about Watergate. This was a way to take it out. They took it out on the dogs.

OLBERMANN: The current president, again, back to him and his chief guru. Karl Rove joking at the correspondents dinner that he likes to, quote, tear the tops off of small animals. You know, you think of this as a joke now, but there seems to be an unfortunate theme here. Are they trying to show off they can't be pushed around by animals?

ROCCA: Absolutely, yes, that fearsome gang known as al Qaeda and the Chipmunks are on the run. By the way, I'm pitching that to al Jazeera, the animated show. It's got hit written all over it.

OLBERMANN: Out of left field - this doesn't have anything to do with presidents. But given your expertise on pets, the Paris Hilton question, from her relationship with her Chihuahuas, can you determine what her politics would be if she understood the difference between Democrats and Republicans?

ROCCA: Right, if she did understand. We don't know if she's a Democrat or a Republican. All we know is that she's upset about the immigration bill collapsing, because she's convinced that Tinkerbell will now be deported. And I think her chihuahua - that's really where she's at right now. She's just woe begotten over it.

OLBERMANN: Do we have any other presidential possibilities using dogs the way, say, Richard Nixon used Checkers, some sort of positive way, where nobody gets hurt, except maybe the public?

ROCCA: Oh gosh. Well things are a lot more now, of course, because you have these dogs being sacrificed for supposedly surgical advancements. And, by the way, it should be noted, Richard Nixon had the only Irish Setter, I believe, in the White House. So that is not a good portent for Mitt Romney.

OLBERMANN: Yes, especially if the dog's still on the roof somewhere.

ROCCA: He crossed state lines, by the way. It makes it a federal crime.

OLBERMANN: Might have to get the Mann Act involved in this too. Mo is the author, of course, of "All the President's Pets," and so much more. Great thanks Mo.

ROCCA: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this the 1,521st day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. From New York, I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for June 28

Guests: John Dean, Richard Wolffe, Michael Musto

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

The Bush administration refuses to comply with the congressional subpoenas over the documents on the firings of the U.S. attorneys, claiming executive privilege. The speaker of the House contemplates a contempt resolution. Two branches of government could wind up in court in a constitutional clash. And the only correct description would be White House in Crisis. Oh, here we go.

White House in remorse. Senior adviser Dan Bartlett shares the greatest regret of his tenure, the one that set the wrong tone, the one that was supposed to be a benign message, the on he wishes he had a do-over on, Ission-may Complished-Ay.

Perverting journalism not just for politics but for profit. Part one of our study of Rupert Murdoch: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying to Stay Ethical. Print line items about people who work for another company to punish the company for trying to buy "The Wall Street Journal" before you could. Part one, Murdoch's London Years, a tale so sordid, it moved a dying TV playwright to actually say that if he didn't have better things to do with his last three months on earth...




OLBERMANN: Breaking Paris Hilton news, she is really boring.


PARIS HILTON: There was only, like, a little...


HILTON: Yes, kind of a hole they would put through.


OLBERMANN: If only what she was talking about there were really as interesting as that sound.

And we'll critique another snoozo guest, me.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: What it is about you, you seem to burn bridges wherever you leave.

OLBERMANN: I don't burn bridges, I burn rivers.



OLBERMANN: All that and more, now on Countdown.


KING: Were you strip-searched?


OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.

Hope floats, but anybody who still thought the White House might comply with subpoenas from the House - and evidently the Senate too - can apparently go jump in the lake.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, the deadline for turning over to Congress documents about the U.S. attorney scandal from former White House counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor coming and going today, next up, as the White House ignores itself towards a constitutional crisis, forgetting about Senate subpoenas issued yesterday for documents related to the warrantless domestic spying program, on the House front, about the attorneys, scandal - President Bush and his legal team milking the executive privilege argument for all it's worth, at least in this instance, White House counsel Fred Fielding also making clear that Ms. Miers and Ms. Taylor would not be testifying to Congress next month, in response Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill wasting no time in asserting that contempt citations for the White House could be in order, not to mention a battle in federal court over separation of powers, Senator Chuck Schumer saying he has seen this kind of behavior before.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I think that the - this goes to the level of what happened with Richard Nixon in his last years in the White House. There is just stonewall, stonewall, stonewall. The administration is trying to hide the facts. When the administration is unwilling to put forward its facts, you wonder what they have to hide.


OLBERMANN: For more on the subpoena showdown, let's turn now to our correspondent in Washington, David Shuster.

David, good evening.


OLBERMANN: In asserting executive privilege today, did the White House reveal kind of inadvertently that it was more intimately involved in the firings of those U.S. attorneys than had been previously acknowledged? Specifically, the solicitor general, who is in the Justice Department, the third man there, how did he become involved in this dispute, and on the White House side?

SHUSTER: Well, Keith, technically, it's the solicitor general who argues on behalf of the federal government at the Supreme Court, and it will be the solicitor general's responsibility to essentially argue the executive privilege claim when this goes to court. So in that letter that White House Counsel Fred Fielding said to Congress today, explaining the - notifying Congress about the executive privilege claim, there was a legal memo that the solicitor general himself attached, explaining the legal reasons for it.

And the (INAUDIBLE), and the solicitor general's name is Paul Clement. He does indicate that the White House was far more involved than previously acknowledged, especially when you consider that President Bush previously stated that the Justice Department made the prosecution firings and the White House then accepted those recommendations.

But Clement, while explaining the executive privilege argument today, he talks about the White House communications about the firings that Congress wants to see, and Clement says, quote, "Among other things, these communications discuss the wisdom of such a proposal, specific U.S. attorneys that could be removed, potential replacement candidates, and possible responses to congressional and media inquiries about the dismissal."

So again, the level of involvement is far deeper than the White House has previously acknowledged.

The other intriguing issue about Paul Clement is that technically, because of what he does at the Justice Department, he's supposed to be overseeing the internal Justice Department investigation into the firings. So some analysts are already saying that his involvement in the claim of executive privilege is a clear conflict of interest.

Finally, Keith, it is a bit unusual to claim a privilege over a conversation when you are willing to allow officials like Harriet Miers or Sara Taylor or even Karl Rove to talk to Congress about their conversations, just not under oath or transcribed. In other words, the White House doesn't mind officials sharing the information, it just wants to limit the potential for one of these officials to be charged with perjury if Congress feels that these officials were lying.

And that is what is underscoring the anger by Congress. They feel that there's not a rational basis for executive privilege, that instead the White House is simply using this to try and hide the truth.

OLBERMANN: We should all have such privilege. On a different executive privilege front, David, the Democratic Congressman Rahm Emanuel's promise to try to defund the vice president's office if it doesn't comply with the executive order regarding safeguarding of classified documents, where does that stand?

SHUSTER: Well, the vice president's office is still not complying. So today, the House of Representatives had a vote on Emanuel's proposal to take away about $5 million from the Treasury Department budget that would allow for funding the vice president's office, of his residence, his office transportation and entertainment.

The measure failed, but it was a lot closer than many lawmakers had thought it would be, 217 to 209 against the Emanuel amendment. Republicans warned Democrats that the effort to cut funding could come back to haunt them the next time a Democrat occupies the vice president's office. And that was apparently enough to sway a few Democrats and keep the vice president's funding intact.

However, even some Republicans who helped beat back Emanuel's proposal today said they were dumbfounded by the vice president's handling of this controversy. The vice president has asserted he doesn't need to comply with the agency that oversees classified document handling because the vice president is technically not part of the executive branch. Several Republicans said today the argument was ridiculous, and even more so because the vice president is holding himself above the president in this matter, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Two hundred and nine votes to cut off funding the vice president.

MSNBC's David Shuster in Washington for us again tonight. Great thanks, David.

SHUSTER: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Ignoring subpoenas from the House, getting subpoenas from the Senate, the former chief of staff to the vice president getting his federal inmate number today, the House considering defunding the vice president's office and nearly doing so, a vice president who insists he is neither animal, mineral, nor vegetable, the attorney general under almost perpetual fire, the administration still pushing the wrong war in the wrong place and not even doing it very well, while it continues to position itself as the greatest threat to the Constitution since maybe the Civil War or the British in 1812.

There is only one phrase to describe this. It will scrape some old wounds on this side of your TV, and if you were on that side of it, watching this channel in 1998, it may scrape some old wounds for you too. But we got to call them as we see them, so let's get it over with and christen this era for what it truly is.


ANNOUNCER: This is an MSNBC special, White House in Crisis. Here is Keith Olbermann.


OLBERMANN: For more now on the legal scandals that have the Bush White House in crisis, we're fortunate enough to be joined again by Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, now, of course, an author of "Worse Than Watergate" and "Conservatives Without Conscience," as well as a columnist for

John, as always, great thanks for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN: Does the solicitor general, from the Justice Department, have any business advising the White House on the legal basis for an executive privilege claim in the first place? That would seem to be, I don't know, the White House counsel's job?

DEAN: Well, it's not unusual for a White House counsel to seek the advice of the Department of Justice. In this instance, the solicitor general is really the only man standing, with the attorney general recusing himself, the deputy attorney general, who's involved in this whole matter as well, has both recused himself and resigned.

So there's only one person to offer the opinion, and that's the person who did in the next line of succession, and the solicitor general.

OLBERMANN: But the Justice Department, which is supposed to enforce that subpoena, a solicitor general, even under those circumstances, who is supposed to lead an investigation, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, who, were he independent, one can infer, would have been the 10th federal prosecutor to be fired, does it not seem that the entire deck of government has been successfully stacked, in this case, at least, in favor of the White House?

DEAN: Well, I think that's a fairly accurate description of it. We've been here before. We have a basically flawed law when you have this situation, because the Congress cannot necessarily insist that the Department of Justice go forward and prosecute a contempt citation that they send down to the Department of Justice or to the U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia. It's a flawed law, and it needs correction. And the only way it can be solved is really through political pressure.

OLBERMANN: If it's up to Justice to enforce those subpoenas, is there recourse for Congress if the Justice Department fails to act, short of changing the laws? What could lawmakers do next, if anything?

DEAN: I think the only thing - option really available for Congress is to insist upon calling for a special counsel. Now, only the attorney general or the next in succession, in this instance the solicitor general, could appoint that special counsel, and he's not very likely to do that either.

So as I say, it really comes down to pretty much a fight, political fight, where the Congress has got to educate the American public about what this White House is doing, why they're doing it, and how they're doing it, because I think the public would find it intolerable.

OLBERMANN: Solicitor generals and special prosecutors. They don't - in our history, they don't tend to appoint them, they tend to dismiss them, as I recall from a Mr. Bork and a Mr. Cox.

But give me the larger picture here, John. If this does not now qualify as a White House not necessarily in , you know, broad, easily discerned scandal, but a White House in crisis, what would? I mean, if in the last administration the term came to be used in reference to an extramarital affair, surely some sort of watershed has been reached tonight with this White House, has it not?

DEAN: Well, I think both Senators Leahy and Schumer have accurately called it a sort of a Nixonian stonewalling. I can tell you from personal experience, Keith, that you only go into this stance and this crouch, if you will, and into the bunker when you got something worth hiding.

So they clearly have some problems down there, and the Congress is after it. They're on it. They're in deep trouble over what they've done to the Department of Justice, making it a political extension of the White House. They've tainted some prosecutions. And I don't think we've heard the end of this, and it's going to be an ongoing story.

OLBERMANN: And, and the, the, the polls have shifted to some degree. In, in light of everything we learned about, about Dick Cheney this week, the conservative constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, who was on this named program nine years ago, former associate deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration, is now arguing that Vice President Cheney ought to be impeached. Does he have a compelling case, if things progress that far?

DEAN: I think he does. I think he has a very strong case. Whether the Congress is likely to do it or not is another question. But when you compare the trumped-up charges that were designed to attack Bill Clinton, as opposed to the legitimate complaints that now exist against this administration, and particularly the vice president, and who is acting way beyond the bounds of accountability, there is good reason to start an investigation, at least to examine it.

I would hope that the speaker would reconsider her position on impeachment and might look first at Dick Cheney.

OLBERMANN: John Dean, former legal counsel to President Nixon, now veteran of MSNBC's White House in Crisis and the new Son of White House in Crisis. This is where we came in. Great thanks for your time, as always, John.

DEAN: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: We gave its count an amount each night. Tonight, for the first time, somebody at the White House acknowledges just how bad an idea that banner really was.

And can we actually measure just how bad Rupert Murdoch really is? When a dying man publicly contemplated his assassination, and not for political effect, the answer has to be extraordinarily bad.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: In Baghdad, exactly four years ago today, under strict security, and with the number of roadside bombs taking an ominous spike, the U.S. officially handed Iraq back to the Iraqis, wishing them well.

In our fourth story on the Countdown, just weeks before that, an even greater irony, a milestone we note every night here, prompting today an unexpected, even remarkable, mea culpa. The president's most trusted aide, his former communications adviser, Dan Bartlett, now telling "GQ" magazine that the biggest White House failure in years of polishing the president's image was his infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech aboard the U.S.S. "Abraham Lincoln" just off San Diego, May 1, 2003, the words on the banner behind him never uttered, but the hubris of victory unmistakable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, May 1, 2003)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.


OLBERMANN: Mr. Bartlett calling the PR blunder a benign incident that set the wrong tone, the word "benign" taking on the force of a profanity when you consider that fewer than 150 American troops had been killed when those words were uttered, today's toll standing at 3,568. And a bipartisan House Armed Services report says more than $19 billion spent on training Iraqis to replace the Americans has had mixed results, with some of the newly trained Iraqis adding instead to the sectarian violence, and late today, erstwhile critic of the surge, General Douglas Lute, confirmed by the Senate as the president's new war czar, his job now to give the president an honest assessment of how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are going.

MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe joins us now to consider image versus reality in the Bush White House.

Richard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Even in the middle of this mea culpa, somebody's caught passing the buck, Mr. Bartlett says they did want that banner up behind the president, the former defense secretary, Mr. Rumsfeld's explanation that we heard awhile back that they removed "mission accomplished" from the speech but couldn't get the banner down is bunk. Is anybody who's been in this administration ever been on the same page with anybody else?

WOLFFE: Well, it's a whole lot better than the era when they blamed a bunch of frisky sailors, which is what Scott McClellan initially did.

Look, it's always entertaining seeing people turn on each other, and Dan Bartlett saying that Don Rumsfeld was making stuff up. But the problem here was not about messaging, it wasn't about the banner, it was the whole mindset, call it the pre-2004 mindset, that they could have a decapitation strike, take out Saddam Hussein, and everything was going to be great.

Effectively, the banner they were really hanging out was, "Under New Management." And Iraq isn't a PR problem, it's a policy problem. They didn't plan for the aftermath. They didn't understand Iraq. And no amount of good messaging can change that.

OLBERMANN: It wasn't just "Mission Accomplished" in Mr. Bartlett's comments to "GQ," about the idea of the president in a bubble. He denies that the president is insulated from reality, says the president's closest advisers are paid to make sure he does not walk blindly into a decision. Does that itself seem at odds with the record of this administration?

WOLFFE: Well, yes, there's only decision that really matters, and they certainly walked blindly in it. And, look, I remember interviewing senior administration officials, senior White House officials, who said, you know, We planned extensively for the aftermath of war. We planned for things like famine and mass population movements. We just didn't plan for what really happened.

There was a huge amount of blame that's going on now. Are they still blind? Is the president out of touch with reality? No, I don't think that's the case. He knows that he's in a deep hole in Iraq. He knows how bad it is. The problem is, he doesn't know how to get out.

OLBERMANN: Bartlett also said he has an informal group of advisers in the communications field who are called in to give advice. We don't know if Roger Ailes is one of them. We know he's given advice. One important piece of advice from them, according to Dan Bartlett, was, Give the people the bad news, not just the good news about the war. Now, my reaction to that is, do you mean this war? Do you mean the Crimean War? Do you mean the Carthaginian War? Your reaction to this is what?

WOLFFE: I wish I could get one of those high-paying jobs where you give people some great advice. Look, I think that public opinion actually is pretty well up to speed on the bad news out of Iraq. And the president has always been caught in being this sort of rah-rah guy about Iraq. The problem here, again, is policy. What's the exit strategy? Not what's the communication advice.

OLBERMANN: Bartlett was asked about giving advice to people like the vice president, when he said the insurgency was in its last throes, and he said, this is a quote, "It's a big challenge handling presidential personnel, let's put it that way." How do you think the White House is handling the latest troubles with the presidential personnel named Cheney, comma, Richard?

WOLFFE: With these asbestos gloves that they carry. I've never understood the fear in the White House about dealing with the vice president. It's not like he screams at people. He just goes into this deep silent mode and seems to scare them by brooding. And look, he goes right the way off at the top. When the president had to tell him, Listen, you've got to go out and tell people you've shot your friend, go out and talk to the press, he bottled (ph) out, he didn't do it.

And again, there's a fear there that I don't see what it's grounded in. I mean, really, the chief of staff should be delivering these kinds of tough messages. Maybe he is, and we don't know about it. But I haven't found any evidence of it so far.

OLBERMANN: Well, it could be fear of a vice president with a gun and bad aim. But let's close out here with this study from the House Armed Services Subcommittee, four years, $19 billion just spent training Iraqi police, military, with at best mixed results, no sign that 356,000 Iraqis are nearly ready to take over for American forces. How does that reverberate now? What does that mean, and what, what can be done about it?

WOLFFE: Well, it's a great question for Bernie Kerik, who actually started out training that police force, or his mentor, Rudy Giuliani. And failing that, you could maybe ask the president, Whatever happened to standing up and standing down? I mean, everybody knows the Iraqi police are basically sitting down. And it's time for a change.

OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of "Newsweek" and, we're fortunate enough to say, also of MSNBC. Great thanks, Richard.

WOLFFE: Any time.

OLBERMANN: If the mission was to put about 3 million to sleep, Paris Hilton can put up her own big "Mission Accomplished" banner.

And the latest in the desperate effort to make watching golf interesting.

Next on Countdown, your golf-stripper newscast of record.


OLBERMANN: If you've ever wondered why golf tournaments are often suddenly suspended the moment clouds gather and rain falls, your answer was provided 32 years ago today at the Butler National Golf Club in Oak Brook, Illinois. They did not stop the Western Open fast enough, and golfer Lee Trevino was struck by lightning on the 13th hole. It fused some of the vertebrae in his spine. And nobody had even shouted "Fore!"

Let's play Oddball.

Speaking of golf, we begin in Stroudsburg, P.A., and the lush greens and friendly fairways of the Cherry Valley Golf Club. We'll take particular note of the hole on 18, where there's a dogleg right, and a stripper hazard on the left. Fore! This is home video shot by annoyed neighbors, what appears to be exotic dancers performing lap dances on area golfers. They've turned the 18th hole into the Champagne Room.

The women are reported to be from an area gentlemen's club. They were hired for a private party on the golf course. Police shut the party down and are attempting to figure out if any laws were broken. And remember course etiquette, golfers. Replace your divots.

Finally, to Denver, Colorado, and the Countdown Chase of the Week, and nobody was seriously hurt here. It started with just a single officer running down a suspected bank robber and car thief, ducking and weaving through traffic. He manages to knock the guy down. But when he turns around, there's an oopsie. Yes, it's actually worse than it looks. The guy in the car was an undercover cop. He missed the whole point of a foot chase, mowing down not just the perp but his fellow officer as well. Don't worry, as we said, both of them were fine. And now this fleet-footed felon gets to cool his heels in the Big House.

There is no one person more responsible, said the dying British playwright of Rupert Murdoch, for the pollution of what was already a fairly polluted press. Part one tonight of our investigation of the man who would pollute and break any code to make an extra $1.49.

And Dan Olbermann was on David Letterman's show last night.


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

Number three, Jusuf Kalla, the vice president of Indonesia, reiterating his opposition to the legalization of marijuana, but adding, It's OK in cooking. All right to use it as a food seasoning, he said, but it should not be fully legalized. Dude was so high when he said that.

Number two, the first of a group of really dumb criminals tonight, Michael Demoss, super genius. Allegedly, he stole a 1979 El Camino from a Mr. Jim Black who had parked it outside church on Mother's Day. Nasty enough as it is, but Mr. Demoss elevated the crime to the upper echelons of moronity because a month later Demoss called car owner Black and offered to sell the car back to him for $500.

Number one, a pair of 17-year-old girls in Germany who mugged a 15-year-old, stole her shoes, money and her cell phone. But they decided to give her their older cell phone as a kind of compensation. Their older cell phone, the one with their pictures still stored in it, which the police promptly released to websites and the German television networks.


OLBERMANN: It is perhaps the biggest media monopoly on the planet, News Corp. And at its helm, the man who uses his power of the press to influence elections, to sway politicians, to persuade the populace to his conservative causes and, probably most of all, to further his own business interests within the rules or without any rules. Our third story on the Countdown, Rupert Murdoch. In protest of his five billion dollar bid for their mother company, Dow Jones, and in protest of a lack of a contract, as well, many "Wall Street Journal" reporters blew off work this morning.

The Union president, Steve Yount, saying the boycott is, quote, about preserving what is special about Dow Jones and that does not include an unnecessary sale to News Corp. The paper's owners, the Bancroft family, do not appear to agree. They are reportedly close to sealing a deal with Rupert Murdoch that would include measures to allow the paper to maintain a measure of editorial independence.

One must assume the Bancrofts either do not know about his M.O., or they are somehow hoping it has changed overnight. If the former, perhaps this might help, part one of our study of Rupert Murdoch.


OLBERMANN (voice-over): In 1994, in what was to be his final interview, playwright and former British newspaper journalist Dennis Potter revealed that he had named the cancer that he already knew would kill him within months Rupert.

DENNIS POTTER, FORMER BRITISH JOURNALIST: That man, Murdoch, is the one, who if I had the time - I've got too much writing to do and I haven't got the energy. But I would shoot the bugger if I could. There is no one person more responsible for the pollution of what was already a fairly polluted press.

OLBERMANN: Rupert Murdoch's latest plan to add the "Wall Street Journal" to the hundreds of newspapers and TV stations he already owns in this country, reminding those who had forgotten just why the late Mr. Potter was not alone in so loathing Murdoch's impact.

There had been word that the parent company of this network, G.E., might also be interested in acquiring the "Wall Street Journal," but Rupert Murdoch had already made his five billion dollar bid. Then, at the same time as that business battle was going on, Bill-O and his friends at Fox Noise stepped up their libeling of NBC News as left wing and liberally biased.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: As part of their business plan to woe left wing viewers, NBC News consistently attacks Fox News, as you know.

OLBERMANN: And the "New York Post," also owned by Murdoch, jumped in too, using the business section of the paper this morning to attack Mark Whittaker, the new senior vice president of NBC News, quoting so called sources, without ever actually any of them. Of course, it could just be coincidence that the network we work for is slandered just as the company that owns us went up against Rupert Murdoch.

But then, using his media to achieve his agenda is such classic Murdoch behavior, not just across this nation, but the world, that the suspicion might be forgiven. One had only to read the extensive investigation by the "New York Times" newspaper this week to remember just how he operates.

Take his dealings in Great Britain. Upon acquiring the venerable "Times of London," much as he is currently promising the Bancroft family regarding the "Wall Street Journal," Murdoch had promised not to meddle with the editorial tone of the paper.

RUPERT MURDOCH, CEO NEWSCORP: There will be no fundamental change in the characteristics.

OLBERMANN: But in no time at all, according to former editors, Murdoch started meddling. According to the "New York Times," quote, "Harry Evans, who was editor at the time of Mr. Murdoch's acquisition, and was forced out soon after, describes Mr. Murdoch's ordering the publication of a cartoon that Times editors had deemed tasteless. And his complaining that too many stories had a left wing bent.

"Another former editor said Mr. Murdoch once pointed to the byline of a correspondent and asserted, that man is a commie."

He then fired 5,000 employees, shifted his newspaper operations to East London in secret, and refused to recognize the unions. That was in the 1980's. By the 1990's, as it became obvious that a Labor Government was coming to power, Murdoch starting wooing that party to protect his newspapers and cable TV station in Britain. He endorsed Tony Blair, meeting with him so often that one of Blair's spokesmen described Murdoch to the "New York Times" as effectively a member of Blair's cabinet.

And the courtship was so successful that, against the wishes of many in the Labor Party, Mr. Blair dropped any talk of limits on media ownership. The Times reporting that, "Blair's attitude was quite clear. Andrew Neil, the editor of the "Sunday Times" under Mr. Murdoch in London from 1983 to 1994 said, in an interview, if the Murdoch press gave the Blair government a fair hearing, it would left intact."

He has tried the same technique in China. In his bid to crack the tightly controlled communicated market there, the "New York Times" also reports, "Murdoch has dined with former President Jiang Zemin in the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing and repeatedly met other members of the ruling Politburo in Beijing, New York and London."

He and his minions also reportedly toe the Chinese government line, insulting the Dalai Lama and the persecuted Falun Gong sect. And so much for freedom of the press. According the "New York Times," "Mr. Murdoch cooperates closely with China's censors and state broadcasters, several people who work for him in China say.

And as we reported here last night, that extends to the Internet as well. News Corp agreeing to open a for China that censors users, as per Chinese law. Ironic considering that over her it is both the power and the freedom of the media that has allowed Mr. Murdoch to systematically both intimidate and influence American politics to suit his own business interests.


OLBERMANN: We will take a look at just how he has done that over here and who he has intimidated and influenced to get his way in part two of our study of Keith Rupert Murdoch. That is right here tomorrow night on Countdown.

Talk about intimidating, Dan Patrick and I had to go on David Letterman's show after the actress Claire Danes in a low cut dress. Not Dan and me, her.

It could have been worse, it could have been some kind of Spice Girls reunion. Wait, there's going to be a Spice Girls reunion? Why? Did we lose a war or something? Next on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Our number two story on the Countdown has absolutely no redeeming news content value whatsoever. It's my radio partner Dan Patrick, of the "Dan Patrick Show" on ESPN Radio, and me appearing on the "Late Show With David Letterman" last night, ruminating about our days at Sportcenter. None were injured.


DAVID LETTERMAN, "THE LATE SHOW": Give us some examples of the kind of thing that would happen on the show.

OLBERMANN: We had one night where we had a rookie production assistant watching a ball game and giving us the highlights of it. And they brought in a rookie pitcher from the Detroit Tigers. It was his highlight. I was something of the baseball expert at the time. And this girl comes out and hands the shot sheet to him, says, this is very important Dan. This is a rookie pitcher with Tigers, just called up. And his name is Ben Blowdoll.

He goes, are you sure?

DAN PATRICK, ESPN ANCHOR: Now, we're in commercial break. I'm thinking Blowdoll? It can't be Blowdoll.

OLBERMANN: And I said to her, don't you think that if his name was Blowdoll, he would have changed it by now, and I would have heard about it certainly. So he starts to sweat, because he's about to say Blowdoll on national television.

PATRICK: And so he's worried about his own stuff. They're talking in my ear, saying we're back in 15 seconds. I'm thinking, here's my career. I'm going to be the guy known as the Blowdoll guy. And I said, Keith, it can't be this.

OLBERMANN: I'm pulling down record books and waiving at guys and praying. I've seen the man's name before. I've never heard it pronounced. But it can't be pronounced Blowdoll. So at the last minute, while I'm doing my highlights and he's spitting sweat everywhere, I just sort of stop my highlight and wrote it out, Bloomdahl. She left out the M and that was it.

LETTERMAN: And how he doing today? How did his career -

PATRICK: It didn't last. He should have stayed with Blowdoll.

OLBERMANN: Oh yes, we wanted to do this. He insisted on that.

LETTERMAN: That is nice. I wish I had somewhere to go.

Just take a second her and tell me what it is about you. You seem to burn bridges wherever you leave. Do I have that right or not?

PATRICK: This is when I leave, Dave.

OLBERMANN: I don't burn bridges. I burn rivers.

PATRICK: The big show with Dan and Keith on ESPN Radio, good to see you boys again. Thank you very much. Dan Olbermann - Keith Olbermann, Dan Patrick.


OLBERMANN: Thanks Dave. And easy segue then into our nightly roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, Keeping Tabs. If Dan and I could reunite after eight years apart - tomorrow night is 10 years to the day since I left Sportscenter - Why not a reunion of the Spice Girls? Don't answer that.

Ginger, Sport, Posh, Scary and Baby Spice held a big old girl power news conference today, announcing that they are reuniting for a world wide 11 city new tour and a greatest hits album. one cut 12 times? Girl Power is back said Emma, Baby Spice, Bunton, now a grand mother. No. We're going on the road. Much has happened to the Spice Girls since their initial 1990s fame. Three are now mothers. Another is expecting. Victoria Posh Spice married a soccer star and became a Beckham, and Melanie Scary Spice Brown announced that the father of her new born baby girl is Eddy Murphy, confirmed with a bit of Spice DNA.

But the Spice Girls' music has not gotten any better.

Lindsay Lohan must be hoping for straight A's on her rehab report card, since the result of her blood test from her DUI test reportedly show both alcohol and cocaine. citing multiple unnamed law enforcement sources, saying that the toxicology reports from May 26th put Lohan's blood alcohol at nearly twice the nearly limit, with traces of cocaine in her blood stream.

Miss Lohan had crashed her Mercedes into the curb in the wee hours of the morning, and was later arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Her lawyer told TMZ that it was extremely unprofessional for law enforcement to discuss her case.

And Paris is out of prison to tell us what it was like in prison. I'll tell you what it was like. It was like watching her being interviewed. That is ahead, but first time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for Worst Person in the World.

The bronze to the I-Robot corporation. It makes those little automatic vacuum cleaners that scoot around your floor, not really cleaning your floor, but giving you the sense that you're not utterly lazy about vacuuming. I-Robot has now teamed with a stun-gun manufacturer to make a weapon for the Pentagon and the police. They stuck a Taser on their robotic automaton. That's right, your Roomba can now shock you into submission.

The runner up, Republican Congresswoman Illeana Ros Lehtinen of the Florida 18th, interrogating Retired General John Batiste, who explained that even though he joined the group, he is a diehard Republican. He voted for President Bush twice. If he ever ran for office, he would do so as a Republican and he would take his seat alongside her and the other Republicans.

Congresswoman is not buying it. She accused the general of targeting Republicans, quoting, I believe that the people you are targeting are the ones who will want to help you in this world wide fight against Islamic extremists. And the folks that you're working to defeat will be substituted by people who use brave generals like you as a shield and a sort of a front to make them look like they're pro military. When, in fact, they will be always against any war at any time in any place, my humble opinion. Humble? One of the definitions of humble is relatively low in rank, you bet.

But our winner, Bill-O, commenting on the murder of the Ohio pregnant woman Jesse Davis and the murder of the wife of the professional wrestler Chris Benoit, "In both of these terrible situations, the men involved were troubled and chaotic. And the women involved had to know that. Now, I'm not blaming the victims here. But I am saying that everyone of us has to make smart decisions, especially when children are involved. Jesse Davis had to know this Cutts guy was a chaotic, irresponsible person with two families in Ohio and another out of wedlock child in California. Then Miss Davis gets pregnant by Cutts again. Come on. If you are involved with someone who does chaotic things, you will get hurt. It's just a matter of when."

Yes, everybody who knows you will take your word on that. So, while insisting he was not blaming two dead women for getting themselves murdered, he proceeded to blame two dead women for getting themselves murdered. Bill O'Reilly, today's Worst Person in the World.


OLBERMANN: Breaking news, Paris Hilton is a bore. During a full hour with Larry King, Hello, Miss Hilton sent the nation into a premature slumber and turned out the light. The good news, Mr. King did not confuse Miss Hilton with any of the other Beatles and did not refer to her as George Hamilton. Oh right, that's because she is none of the Beatles.

But if Miss Hilton was looking to be revelatory, she struck out. As for her new founds spirituality, it is like that Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich, a gimmick with cheese to it. Anyway, to our number one story on the Countdown, Paris Hilton speaks.

After sashaying into the CNN studios on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California, Miss Hilton sat down for an in depth interview, in which she talked about the trauma of going to jail, overcoming claustrophobia, wearing an orange jump suit, eating a bologna sandwich, and writing down her own personal thoughts and meditations.

Bricking news, Paris Hilton is a bore. But happily, Larry King did not confuse Paris with London, Madrid or Rome. Begin communication.


PARIS HILTON, "THE SIMPLE LIFE": There was a little -


HILTON: Yes, a hole to put it through.

KING: What is a personality trait Paris Hilton would change?

HILTON: When I get nervous or shy, my voice gets really high.

KING: Have you ever been addicted to drugs?


KING: Taken drugs?


KING: Never taken drugs?


KING: Are you jealous?


KING: Quick to anger?

HILTON: No, I don't really get angry. I consider myself normal.

KING: You consider yourself normal?


KING: Were you strip searched? Do they do that in jail. I know they do that in prison.

HILTON: Yes. They do.

KING: Is it as gross as we might think it is?

HILTON: Well it is pretty gross.

KING: What is your favorite bible passage?

HILTON: I don't have a favorite.

KING: Do you think you would be a loathe for someone now? I mean, a guy's going to have to - come on.

HILTON: It is hard.


OLBERMANN: Sandy Koufax, your memories. And with that let's go once more onto the breach with "Village Voice" columnist Michael Must. Michael, good evening?


OLBERMANN: Do you recall your first thoughts after watching that interview? Or, in fact, do you recall anything about that interview?

MUSTO: At first I thought Eva Longoria looks great. Then I realized I was on the wrong channel. Then I thought, you know what, this is better than Larry's interview with Al Pacino last week, where Larry's big question was where did you get Hoo-Ha? And after that they just kind of stared at each other's hair plugs. That was death. This was medium death.

OLBERMANN: She made a few assertions that we think deserve some fact checking, if you would kindly set your mind to it. For instance, she said several times that she had never taken drugs.

MUSTO: Yes and Kirstie Alley has never had a fudge burger and Kathy Griffin has never masturbated to a video of Joan Rivers, and I won the Peabody Award for my segment on this show called Suri Cruise is a pillow. Actually, that part is true.

OLBERMANN: Assertion number two, she reads the Bible and she goes to mass?

MUSTO: Let's start with just she reads. But, in any case, you saw the part where Larry said what is your favorite part and she blanked. It's like he was asking her to do logarithms or something. Even I know about the Garden of Eden. I could have come up with that. And plus she billed herself not only as a reader, but as a writer. Come on. I read her book. It was ghost written. My book sucked too, but at least I wrote it myself.

OLBERMANN: My favorite part is where Michael J. Fox meets his mother.

MUSTO: That is Deuteronomy.

OLBERMANN: Assertion number three, that she is easy to get along with and she is very loyal friend?

MUSTO: I met her. She was nice - two hours late but nice. I don't think she is the type of friend who would say, hey, what is on your mind? What are you thinking about. Because the follow up would be you stole my boyfriend, you bitch. I think Tinkerbell is even more loyal than she is. And Tinkerbell doesn't pee on the street.

OLBERMANN: Assertion number four, she is normal.

MUSTO: Oh, please. Normal people don't have a problem with lunch meat. Normal people don't get to record an album because they feel like it. Normal people don't have mothers that bring in expensive tan leather bags to visit them in jail and then they have to borrow a quarter from the guard because they didn't bring pocket change - don't get me started.

OLBERMANN: Assertion number five, she overcame her severe claustrophobia when she was sent back to jail by essentially talking to herself? Does this one sound about right?

MUSTO: Yes, she is so dumb that she actually texted herself. She had to pay extra. The conversation was something like, hey self. How you doing self. Oh, fine self, except I'm claustrophobic. Me too, self. It's ridiculous. It doesn't even constitute schizophrenia because there is so little brain matter there, it is more like molecular splitting.

OLBERMANN: She also tried to say, in this interview, nice things about Britney Spears and about Lindsay Lohan. But a minute later, she said, quote, I don't have any friends in rehab. Did she pull a fast one there? Was she insulting them? What was that about?

MUSTO: Probably Lindsay got early and they went and had a drink last night. But look, she said a lot of things. She said that thing about I found it embarrassing to be strip searched. As Kathy Griffin - not to bring her up again - said, please, we've seen things go in there.

OLBERMANN: Paris Hilton did not leave anybody who was looking for some great moral to this whole sordid story with anything to take with them. Would you like to take a shot at that?

MUSTO: Actually, she did. She said, don't serve the time. Let the time serve you. And that is currently embroidered on my pillow at home. It's sort of like when Phil Specter said to Lana Clarkson, don't let the gun shoot your mouth. Let your mouth shoot the gun. And she was like, huh? Macabre, I know.

OLBERMANN: The one and only Michael Musto, as always, great thanks. That is Countdown for this the 1,520th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq, and the first since the declaration by Dan Bartlett that he would like a do over on that declaration. From New York, I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for June 27
Special bonus podcast or YouTube (Late Show with David Letterman, with Dan Patrick)

Guests: Jonathan Turley, Eugene Robinson, Wayne Barrett, Chuck Nice

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

Wiretaps without a warrant turn magically into subpoenas with a punch. The Senate Judiciary Committee hits the White House, and the vice president's office, demanding documents from the internal debate over the legality of the administration's warrant-free domestic eavesdropping. The White House just would not turn them over, neither would the vice president. Thanks a lot, Dick.

The latest tarnish on the halo of St. Rudy of 9/11. After the first attack on the World Trade Center in New York in 1993, the authorities, he says, should have done more to prepare for future attacks.


RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was a big mistake to not recognize that it was a terrorist act and an act of war.


OLBERMANN: Who does he blame? Then-President Bill Clinton. Mr. Giuliani does not even mention that never recognizing it was a terrorist act or an act of war might also have been a big mistake on the part of the mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001, a Mr. Rudy Giuliani.

Will Ferrell courts comedy and controversy again. Little Pearl is back for her farewell foul-mouthed performance.

Apple hypes and laughs. iPhone comes out Friday, new product addicts in line Wednesday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here early because I want to be amongst the first people to get my iPhone.


OLBERMANN: Talk about call waiting.

And Paris Hilton keeps the L.A. City Council waiting. It debates her release rather than debating a troubled city hospital.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only in America would Paris Hilton trump health care.


OLBERMANN: Oh, did he say Trump is going to be here too?

All that and more, now on Countdown.

Good evening from New York.

If you're scoring at home, or even if you're alone, sharpen your pencil, the White House now claiming it will not release documents related to the warrantless eavesdropping program on the grounds that the executive branch has a right to receive confidential advice, while at the same time still refusing to comply with its own executive order regarding the safeguarding of classified documents, order meant to apply to all entities within the executive branch.

In our fifth story on the Countdown, something the White House might find more difficult to argue against, congressional subpoenas, Senator Leahy telling President Bush, Enough already, the Senate Judiciary Committee issuing subpoenas firs to the vice president's office, now to the White House, for documents related to Mr. Bush's NSA spy program. Also named in the subpoenas signed by committee chairman Leahy were the Justice Department and the National Security Council, meantime, Mr. Cheney morphing his legal argument to keep his secret papers out of the hands of the National Archives, the vice president's chief of staff, lawyer, and general consigliere, David Addington, sending a letter Senator John Kerry yesterday, in which he now says Mr. Cheney's office will not comply because it is not an agency.

"Dear Senator Kerry," Addington writes, "The executive order on classified national security information, Executive Order 12958, as amended in 2003, makes clear that the vice president is treated like the president and distinguishes the two of them from agencies. The executive order gives the ISOO under the supervision of the archivist of the United States responsibility to oversee certain activities of agencies, but not of the vice president or president."

Let's turn now to try to understand how this meshes with the Constitution to George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, a scholar of constitutional law.

Jon, good evening.



OLBERMANN: The White House responded to the subpoenas by saying, It's unfortunate that congressional Democrats continuing to chose - choose the route way of confrontation. But without a confrontation, was the White House simply going to comply with this? And if the White House now does not honor the subpoena, is it not being confrontational constitutionally?

TURLEY: Well, there's a lot of people chuckling when the White House said that, because it has literally been years. The members of Congress have demanded information about the domestic surveillance program. There have been hearings. I testified at some of those hearings, others have. And no information has been forthcoming.

Even allies of the administration, such as I - Senator Specter, and Senator Feinstein, who's been very cooperative with the administration in the past, they were stonewalled on many of these points.

And so there was a great deal of laughter when they said that, because there has been literally no avenue that has been found to get this information out of the administration.

OLBERMANN: What sort of time frame? Do we have any idea that - what we're looking at for a court fight between the White House and the Senate? Is it possible the White House could just run out the clock until its administration is over here?

TURLEY: They could. I mean, they could do a sort of Tai Chi of litigation and just move incredibly slowly. This president doesn't have long to go.

But there is one thing that might concern them about the court, and that is, you know, for many years, since we first found out about this program, some of us have said that this was clearly criminal act that the president called for, that under federal law, it's a federal crime to do what the president ordered hundreds of people to do.

Now, if we're right, not only did he order that crime, but it would be, in fact, an impeachable offense. Now, both sides, both Democrats, Republicans, have avoided this sort of pig in the parlor. They don't want to recognize that this president may have ordered criminal offenses. But they may now be on the road to do that, because the way Congress can get around the executive privilege in court is to say, We're investigating a potential crime. And if they do it here, that crime was ordered by no one other than George Bush.

OLBERMANN: About the Addington letter regarding the vice president, it's beginning to sound like a game of 20 questions, like the old "What's My Line?" Is he, is he an agency? No. Miss Kilgallen. Is he part of the executive branch? Does Addington's argument now have any merit, or is it mere legalese, and are they trying to hide the definition of what he actually is, what the vice president actually is?

TURLEY: Well, I think we have a pretty darn good idea what the vice president is constitutionally. He happens to be found in Article II of the Constitution, where other executives, including the president, are found. And his duties are laid out. There's never been a question about that.

The position adopted by Mr. Addington and Mr. Cheney, to put it bluntly, was absurd. I mean, it was - I had - it was completely frivolous.

And what really is striking about this is the lack of coherence and control within the administration. The vice president's office is a true center of gravity unto itself. I mean, in past administrations, if someone like Mr. Addington made such a moronic argument as this one, they would be out of a job the next week. I mean, he started this huge controversy. Everyone that of any credibility said that it was a ridiculous argument.

And now they're trying to backpedal and say, Well, we're going to go with a different argument.

I think that what it really shows is the lack of sort of adult supervision within the administration of somebody to come up with a coherent and single position for the president.

OLBERMANN: So that would be a no, that's $25, turn the cards over, and we'll turn to Bennett Cerf.

Last question, Jon. Some senior officials in the administration were trying to claim today that all this, this letter, everything else, amounts to the vice president's office throwing in the towel on the argument that he - that it's not part of the executive branch. But it's still not going to comply with the order. Is it really just a - what is - I mean, is this an attempt to stop what Congressman Emanuel talked about yesterday, cutting off the funding? Is it just more smokescreen? Is it just more delay? What is it?

TURLEY: Well, frankly, I think that it's opportunism. This administration, I have to say, has a certain contempt for the law. They treat it like some of my criminal defendants used to treated it, you know, that they come up with any argument that might work, and they want you to try it out with a court of law.

And it's a sort of shocking development, you know, it shows not just a contempt for the law, but a contempt as well for a co-branch of the legislative branch.

But at the end of the day, they will lose, and they're making the situation worse. They're giving Congress all the power it needs to push executive privilege right out of a courtroom.

OLBERMANN: Wow. The constitutional law professor, Jonathan Turley, who should know. As always, sir, great thanks for joining us.

TURLEY: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: The fourth and final installment of "The Washington Post" investigative series on Mr. Cheney detailing the alarming level of secrecy that has enveloped the veep's death-grip on the nation's environmental and energy laws, the only kindness, it seems, Mr. Cheney has shown to the environment over the past six years being that secrecy. It's a variation of the backpacker's rule, take on nature, but leave nothing, just your footsteps, and even any trees.

For more on all things Cheney, let's turn to "Washington Post" columnist Eugene Robinson.

Thanks for your time tonight, Gene.


OLBERMANN: One of the best anecdotes in today's installment in your paper focused on this hands-on effort by Cheney to side with the farmers in Oregon over endangered salmon, basically because farmers can vote, and very few fish have the right to vote. This led to one of the biggest fish kills the West has ever seen. Course, the fish didn't see it coming.

But in a larger sense, given this level of secrecy that Cheney's managed to operate, haven't we all been kind of the fish in this barrel?

ROBINSON: I think we have been. I mean, you know, we kind of thought that, behind the scenes, Dick Cheney was doing all kinds of nefarious things. But really, we had no idea how well he was doing them, how talented he was at making the bureaucracy, making the machinery of government bend to his will.

So we kind of had the image of this guy, you know, he shot poor Harry Whittington when he was supposed to shoot at a grouse or a quail or something, and he almost this kind of crazy old coot, the image of Cheney. But really, he was a very purposeful, determined, skilled bureaucratic infighter who has managed to get his way on very, very important matters without our being able to see what he's doing.

And even now, I have - you know, I have a feeling we only know the half of it now.

OLBERMANN: But did that - has this changed this week between the reports in the week-long series of reports in your paper, and this fallout from this claim about being in the executive branch, not being an agency, getting hit by the subpoenas from Leahy's committee, is there a tipping point here? Is this the tipping point? Or does he just not tip?

ROBINSON: I think this is really an important week in terms of our knowledge of what Dick Cheney has been doing all this time. I think there are areas that certainly that I'd like to know more about. I'd like to know, for example, what is he talking about when he goes over and talks to the Saudis about foreign policy, for example? He seemed to be in charge of the Saudi account. And is he talking to them about some possible action against Iran? Is he talking - is he divvying up kind of oil revenues or oil quotas somehow? What's he doing over there?

And various other things I'd like to know. But certainly, we know more than we did. But it, you know, if you want to call it a tipping point, my question is, what's going to tip? Who's going to tip? Dick Cheney has a constituency of one, really, and that's George W. Bush. He seems quite happy with Dick Cheney, and his performance as vice president. And just as he's happy with Alberto Gonzales.

You couldn't find 10 people in Washington, outside of the White House, who believe Alberto Gonzales should remain as attorney general, yet George Bush keeps him there. And so I think he'll keep Dick Cheney where he is.

OLBERMANN: Is there any impact on that in the 2008 election? Is, you know, if the people don't know who Machiavelli is, does it matter to them who Machiavelli is and what he's done?

ROBINSON: I think it - if this affects the race one way or the other, it certainly has to be good for the Democrats, people, you know, who are paying attention. I suppose there might be people who are on the fence, who look at some of what Cheney has been doing, clearly skirting, you know, just kind of pushing the envelope, playing the fringe on every issue, claiming a vast executive power, except, of course, when he's claiming that he's not part of the executive branch at all. But vastly more executive power than previous administrations.

Certainly some people must look at this and say, Enough is enough. We got to vote for the other guys. I don't think it helps any particular candidate on the Democratic side, but I think Republicans in general can't be happy about all these revelations.

OLBERMANN: Eugene Robinson, columnist, associate editor at "The Washington Post." Great thanks for your time tonight, Gene.

ROBINSON: Great to be here, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Rudy Giuliani criticizes President Clinton for having not done enough in the wake of the first World Trade Center attack. Kind of an odd gambit, given that in that same wake, Mr. Giuliani promptly put the city's emergency command center in the World Trade Center.

And Will Farrell's first short movie with a swearing toddler raised eyebrows. So of course, now he has made a sequel. Pearl the Police Officer ahead.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: For years, it has been the all-purpose answer to explain many of the current president's problems, his foreign policy blunders, even why he ignored warnings about an impending terror attack just before 9/11. When all else fails, blame Bill Clinton.

Our fourth story on the Countdown, the favored Bush method of CYA has been picked up by a man who hopes to succeed him, and he's used it even though, in throwing the ex-president under this bus, he may in fact be throwing himself under the next one.

Rudy Giuliani's overriding theme is terror, pure and simple, the continuing threat, the constant warfare he says we must wage against it, the constant state of fear he is encouraging in this country, Giuliani's popularity built almost exclusively on his media presence immediately after 9/11, but now he's making an extraordinary claim about the first attack on the World Trade Center, and the Clinton administration response to it, Giuliani telling a conservative audience in Virginia Beach, Virginia, that the 1993 bombing which killed six and injured more than 1,000, for which 10 terrorists were pursued, arrested, tried, and ultimately convicted, was virtually ignored as a terrorist act by President Clinton.


GIULIANI: It was a big mistake to not recognize that it was a terrorist act and an act of war. And then we were attacked at Khobar Towers, Kenya, Tanzania, 17 of our sailors were killed on the U.S.S. "Cole," and the United States government under then-President Clinton did not respond. Bin Laden declared war on us. We didn't hear it. I thought it was pretty clear at the time, but a lot of people didn't see it, couldn't see it.


OLBERMANN: Mr. Giuliani's self-congratulation aside, it's a claim made all the more puzzling since he specifically defended Bill Clinton's counterterrorism efforts only last September. And, yes, by the way, he became the mayor of the city in which the World Trade Center stood 10 months after it was first attacked, and he didn't do a damn thing to heighten counterterrorism in the aftermath of the first attack. Matter of fact, he decided to - the perfect place to put the city's emergency control center would be inside the World Trade Center.

Wayne Barrett has covered Rudy Giuliani's career for "The Village Voice" and as co-author of "Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11."

Thanks for joining us again tonight, sir.


OLBERMANN: This was Giuliani speaking at Regent University, the Pat Robertson place. No better place or way to appeal to the real conservative, the religious right, than to blame Bill Clinton for the ills of the world there. Later in the day, in front of a Jewish group, he said he was not really blaming anybody going back that far. Has he ever mentioned the '93 bombing before? Did he often mention terrorism before 9/11?

BARRETT: He mentioned the '93 bombing once in the eight years that he was mayor, and that was in his inaugural address in 1994. And he used it as a metaphor for self-help, for personal responsibility as part of his welfare program. He certainly never talked about the World Trade Center bombing. Not only publicly, but in the course of the book, we interviewed everybody who was considered to be his first police commissioner, and this is within months of the attack in '93. The question never came up in the interviews that he conducted or that were conducted by the transition committee that he established.

Look, what does it say that he never even had a multiagency drill in the World Trade Center in the eight years in between the incident? Not only did he put the command center there, the firefighters were carrying the same radios that malfunctioned on the day of the '93 bombing.

It was something he had no consciousness about. He was the United States attorney in the Southern District before he became mayor, and every assistant United States attorney who prosecuted any one of the terrorist attacks that he described in his speech yesterday, every single one of those assistants was hired by him in that office. We interviewed all of them, and he never discussed the '93 bombing or terrorism with any of them.

The United States attorney for the Southern District had many meetings with him, but this question of terrorism never came up.

OLBERMANN: Yes, they (INAUDIBLE), I would think you could use the phrase, he may have viewed terrorism as a police and prosecution issue, but they've already tried to apply that to other people.

We just heard this. I want to read it again. "Bin Laden declared war on us. We didn't hear it. I thought it was pretty clear at the time, but a lot of people didn't see it."

I lived not far outside New York City for five years of his mayorship. I lived inside it for two years. This is the first time I'm hearing any of this. Did St. Rudy of 9/11 figure out the threat from bin Laden before 9/11 and decide to keep it a secret from the American people, say nothing of the people in New York?

BARRETT: Keith, he wrote in his own book, "Leadership," that after 9/11, he calls up Henry Kissinger and says, What should I read about this guy Osama bin Laden? And Henry Kissinger recommends a book written by a guy named Bodansky in 1998 and 1999. In Bodansky's book, Osama bin Laden predicts a spectacular attack on the United States.

It was a little late reading. He told us how well prepared he was, because he underlined this book many times after 9/11. He - why is it, I mean, couldn't - could there be anything more partisan than saying, Osama bin Laden declared war on us and nobody heard it in '93, and not say anything about George W. Bush, who, after 9/11, hasn't done a thing to capture him? Have you ever heard Rudy Giuliani saying one word of criticism?

He said right after 9/11 that he wanted to do the execution himself of Osama bin Laden. Has he ever said one critical word about the failure of this administration to go after the guy who attacked this city and killed his good friends? Not one word.

OLBERMANN: Well, maybe he knows where he is, and he's just not telling anybody now.

One other Giuliani matter, your latest story in "The Village Voice," Wayne, on the Web site, is about Giuliani campaigning as a Catholic but being, as you describe him, on the outs with God. Other than his tolerance for the abortion issue, his multiple marriages, what else, what else in the background could be the turnoff for that conclusion?

BARRETT: Well, I think what my story tries to do is a bit of a corrective, because the national media is focusing entirely on the abortion question. The fact is that if you get divorced, and you don't get the divorce - the first marriage, the prior marriage, annulled, and you remarry outside the Catholic Church, you cannot be a practicing Catholic. You are not, by definition, eligible for any of the sacraments.

I quote all kinds of people in this story that emphasized that. He wants the issue to be played as, he has an estranged relationship with the church over the abortion issue. He really has a fundamentally broken relationship with the church that he walks around the country telling us he's a member of.

OLBERMANN: So he basically is taking a free pass on his relationship with the church and covering it up as this great liberal multicultural point of view.

Wayne Barrett of "The Village Voice," also author of "Grand Illusion:

The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11." Not the first of our conversations about this man, and not the last. Great thanks.

BARRETT: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: iPhone mania. You're going to pay $600 for a phone and stand in line for three days? Has it got an audio version of the new Harry Potter book inside?

And your annual reminder, on the Fourth of July, please do not put firecrackers in your pants.

Next on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: On this date in 1693, the first magazine devoted to women was published in London. The first cover of the "Ladies Mercury" was adorned with a picture of a model with her Jacobean waistcoast - coat opened saucily to reveal the top quarter-inch of her neck, and had the headline article, "One Tip to Improve Your Sex Life."

On that note, let's play Oddball.

We begin in Westmoreland, California, and it's the latest heavenly apparition to appear on a fleshy summer fruit. It's the Virgin Mary on a watermelon. I for one don't see it, but Mary Lou Robles (ph) says she does. She discovered the vision as she was cubing the fruit to serve at the snack bar at the local prison. Rather than serve the Mary melon to convicted criminals, Robles took it home and called the news, God bless her. The melon has now been home for 10 days, and even though it would probably taste great with that Virgin Mary grilled cheese, Ms. Robles says she has no plans to sell it.

To Washington, D.C., and more fireworks safety demos. Yes, we brought you some of this last week, but that was the New York state safety demo for New York state. These are from the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, and they got bigger 'splosions. And they have that lady's watermelon. No! Let this be a warning to all you kids, you shoot bottle rockets off while it's still in the front pocket from your shorts. Don't. Boom.

And to those who like to watch an M-80 go off while standing on top of an M-80, remember what we always said: Fireworks are a dangerous business, so give a hoot and read a book.

"Law and Order," Hollywood-style. Little Pearl, the cutest little actor in an ugly role interrogating Will Ferrell. She's back.

And lock up Paris Hilton. Well, "Lock Up: Paris Hilton." The hotel heiress's first words on life in the pokey, details ahead.

But first, Countdown's top three news makers of this day. Number three, Lindsay Lohan's father, Michael, out of prison. He's issued a press release asserting his love for his kids, "Michael, Ali, Cody and Lyndsay," Lindsay, whose name he has misspelled in the press release "Lyndsay."

Number two, Victoria McArthur of Michigan. She's suing the makers of Starburst candy, asking for $25,000. Her claim? While eating the very sticky stuff, her teeth became stuck together. When she got them unstuck, she found her jaw had become misaligned. She now claims to have temporomandibular joint dysfunction and wants the dough to recover her rehab, plus her pain and suffering. Will you take it in candy?

But, number one, April Moylan of Port St. Lucie, Florida. She was with her husband, Michael Moylan, when they went to the emergency room for his splitting headache, one so bad he thought it might have been an aneurysm. No, actually, it was a bullet. Mr. Moylan had been shot in the head while he slept by, yep, Mrs. Moylan. "Honey, when I said I would take a bullet for you, I meant it as a metaphor!"


OLBERMANN: It was one of the funniest videos on the many Internets this year, Will Ferrell getting hassled for rent money by a foul-mouthed, boozing landlady, Pearl. Pearl, the 2-year-old daughter of Ferrell's comedy Web site collaborator, Adam McKay. Now, in our third story in the Countdown, two months after Pearl debuted to the paranoid, almost hallucinogenic cries of child exploitation by the likes of Bill O'Reilly, she is back, and back for what is described as her farewell performance, and back as the ultimate bad cop, the ultimate 2-year-old bad cop.


ADAM MCKAY, "GOOD COP": I've tried to do this the nice way, right?

Now we do it the hard way. Get the lieutenant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just lost the only thread you had.

MCKAY: You know what they call her? "The Confession Machine." This stuff's about to get real ugly. All I can tell you is, in three hours, you will sign that confession. Good luck.

PEARL MCKAY, "THE CONFESSION MACHINE": Hi, punk. Welcome to my nightmare.

WILL FERRELL, "MURDERER": Hey, look, I don't know what those two bozos said to you, but I'm not signing the confession.

PEARL MCKAY: This is gonna be fun.

FERRELL: I'm not afraid of nobody.

PEARL MCKAY: I'm gonna mess you up, punk.

FERRELL: Look, I'm not signing the confession, OK?

PEARL MCKAY: I break bones and laugh.

FERRELL: You're a cop. You can't do anything to me.

PEARL MCKAY: Sign the confession!

FERRELL: I'm not signing anything.

PEARL MCKAY: I'm losing my patience.

FERRELL: I didn't do it, OK?

PEARL MCKAY: I want my confession!

FERRELL: Jesus! Hey, put that badge back on.

PEARL MCKAY: Now it's just you and me.

FERRELL: Hey, I want a lawyer!

PEARL MCKAY: I am the law!

ADAM MCKAY: Sorry, man, there's nothing I can do for you. You brought this on yourself.

PEARL MCKAY: I'm gonna bite your nose off.

ADAM MCKAY: She's what we call a loose cannon. We don't control her.

FERRELL: Don't look at me like that.

PEARL MCKAY: I get off on this.

FERRELL: Come on, lady. I didn't do nothing.

PEARL MCKAY: You're going down, ese.

FERRELL: God, you're frightening.

PEARL MCKAY: Gotta call someone.

FERRELL: What are you doing? Who you got to call?

PEARL MCKAY: I'm calling 911. Oh, wait, I'm a cop. Hi, Hell. I've got someone coming to you...

FERRELL: No, I don't want to go to Hell.

PEARL MCKAY: Sign that confession!

FERRELL: I still didn't do anything.

PEARL MCKAY: Game on, homes.


PEARL MCKAY: It's going to get ugly.

FERRELL: You are loco.

PEARL MCKAY: Look what I found.

FERRELL: What are you doing?

PEARL MCKAY: I'm gonna knock your teeth out.

FERRELL: Stay over there! You broke my goddamned nose.

ADAM MCKAY: Oh, what do you know? My glasses fell off. I'm blind.

FERRELL: You're breaking me down! Fine, I did it! I did it, I killed all three of them!

ADAM MCKAY: Well, well, well, what do you know? Now he can talk.

FERRELL: Are you happy?

PEARL MCKAY: You're gonna sign it.

FERRELL: I'll sign anything you want me to. Just get her away from me. I don't know who blackened your soul a long time ago, but may God have mercy on it.

PEARL MCKAY: There you go. That wasn't so hard. My work is done.


OLBERMANN: Will you be watching the next Will Ferrell video on your portable handheld computer? The lines already forming for the release of the new iPhone. It's not on sale for two more days, and wait until you see what it costs.

And the great card caper. Has one of the most famous baseball cards of all time been tampered with?

First, here are Countdown's top three sound bites of this day.


JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": So basically the government has three branches, and he's saying he's the fourth. Now, clearly, he's not the judiciary. He's clearly not the legislative branch. So Dick Cheney's role in our government, which branch is it?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have done a really good job. Thank you for your time. And thanks for your understanding of the complex, carefully crafted piece of legislation that is moving through the Senate, and you've done exactly what I asked you to do. That's why you're in the cabinet.


KING: George, where were you?


KING: Ringo.

MCCARTNEY: No, this is Ringo here.

KING: Ringo, where were you?

RINGO STARR, MUSICIAN: I was in the Bahamas.

KING: I was getting to (INAUDIBLE) George.

STARR: I was...

MCCARTNEY: No, you weren't, Larry. You said his name wrong.

STARR: Shut up, it's my turn.

MCCARTNEY: I know, but he got your name wrong, Ringo, on national television.

STARR: I know. Give him a break.

MCCARTNEY: We can't cut it. It's live.

STARR: Anyway, I was in the Bahamas...



OLBERMANN: Much like Tony Blair hinting at retirement in 2005, making an official announcement in 2006, then finally actually stepping down today, the release of the iPhone has been impending for so long that it feels like it's already last year's technology. But on our number-two story in the Countdown, the wait is finally - well, nearly over. Apple's first cell phone goes on sale this Friday. People are already lining up for it, or at least paying others to line up for them.

We have late-breaking news about one of those people in line, but first the report from correspondent Jane Wells.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is how you turn it on.

JANE WELLS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: Apple's iPhone is the most highly anticipated product of the year, so hot because it's so cool.

STEVE JOBS, CEO, APPLE: Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone.

WELLS: CEO Steve Jobs announced plans for Apple's first-ever cell phone five months ago. It was the first note in a building chorus of commercials, articles, even lawsuits over its very name. IPhone details have trickled out, as Apple's stock price soared 30 percent, and finally, this Friday at 6:00 p.m., you can buy one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'll be first in line.

WELLS: Actually, that spot is already taken.

GREG PACKER, PERPETUAL MAN ON THE STREET: I'm here early because I want to be amongst the first people to get my iPhone.

WELLS: The iPhone aims to do it all: phone, e-mail, Web browsing, music, camera, even play YouTube videos, layered into a sleek fashion statement with a price tag of $500 to $600. It will be for sale only at Apple's stores and Web sites and some AT&T stores. AT&T is the iPhone's sole service provider.

(on screen): But some consumers who want to buy an iPhone are sitting out round one, hoping that maybe the price will come down, or any potential glitches will get worked out, possible buyers like P.R. executive Scott Pirro (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My strategy is to wait, if I can hold off, 18 months. I figure, by then, they'll be into the second generation, perhaps the third generation.

WELLS (voice-over): Pirro (ph) isn't the only one waiting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm drooling all over the iPhone ads.

WELLS: Publicist Gail Siderman (ph) desperately wants an iPhone, but she doesn't want to switch to AT&T, highlighting the high stakes for wireless service providers wondering how many defections there will be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got to tell you, it's a real tough decision not to buy it right out of the box. I almost want to be in line to touch and feel and just see what the iPhone's all about.

WELLS: By Friday, she may have to take a number. Jane Wells, NBC News, Los Angeles.


OLBERMANN: Oh, there's a ringer here, and it's not just the one on the phone. That first guy in the line, the one who said he was there early to get an iPhone, then you saw him again at the end of Jane's report? He's trying to get publicity.

His name is Greg Packer. We first interviewed back in June 2003, four years ago, when the Associated Press actually put out a bulletin to its reporters warning them that he likes to be quoted and that A.P. reporters should not indulge him. He is the perpetual man on the street. He'd already by that stage been quoted by the A.P. in a St. Patrick's Day parade, by the "Newark Star-Ledger" about the winner of the "Joe Millionaire" reality show, by the "Star-Ledger" again about the pick of Dewayne Robinson (ph) in the NFL draft, and even by MSNBC's own Ashleigh Banfield as he stood in line for Hillary Clinton's book. Now he's talking up the iPhone. Welcome back, Greg Packer.

For our update on celebrity and entertainment news, "Keeping Tabs," the most famous example of the most famous baseball card has been tampered with, that the conclusion based on research by the "New York Daily News." The 1909 Honus Wagner, the so-called holy grail of baseball cards, originally included in packs of cigarettes, withdrawn from circulation either because Wagner did not want to be associated with smokes, or more likely because they didn't pay him enough, the one pristine copy of it in question was sold to hockey great Wayne Gretzky and former L.A. Kings owner Bruce McNall, his boss, for $451,000 in 1991. It has since been resold, given away as a prize, and just this February, purchased by a California businessman for $2,350,000.

The problem is, the "Daily News" has obtained photos of the card that appears to show trimming, particularly on the right side of the card. It may have been hand cut from a production sheet of cards or, more nefarious still, the card's borders might have been in rougher shape once upon a time and then somebody, somebody with the guts of a burglar, trimmed them down, perhaps using an X-Acto knife to make the card look mint.

Sixteen years ago, one of my sources said he'd been contacted by its former owner, Bruce McNall, and asked to examine the card to see if it might have been altered. The expert told McNall he was sure it had been. McNall and Gretzky went ahead and bought the card anyway.

And tonight, my ESPN radio partner, Dan Patrick, star of the "Dan Patrick Show" on ESPN Radio, will be on the David Letterman show with me. And now I don't have to apologize to him ever again for going on a talk show and forgetting to mention the radio show. We were pretty good, actually. Check your local listings.

Maybe Paris Hilton will watch! One of the benefits of being an ex-con, they give you back your remote. Paris post-big house, L.A. politics swamped by Paris post-big house, that's ahead.

But, first, time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for "Worst Person in the World."

The bronze, to Darth Vader, News Corp. head Keith Rupert Murdoch. The "New York Times" reports that, in an effort to spread his tentacles into China, Murdoch has allowed the Chinese government access to Murdoch's new Web space, MySpace China, allowing the Chinese government to censor comments, thereby controlling much of the site's content. That was in the "L.A. Times," not the "New York Times." I'm sure the latest of Murdoch's prey, the folks at the "Wall Street Journal," love that precedent.

The runner up tonight? Keith Rupert Murdoch. The "New York Times" reporting Congress almost forced him to rein in his U.S. media empire in 2003. It was going to pass a bill that no media entity was to control more than 35 percent of the nation's TV stations. News Corp. owned 39 percent, so Murdoch lobbyists went to work. Republicans, led by Trent Lott, promptly did Murdoch's bidding and raised the number to 39 percent. And guess whose memoir Murdoch's HarperCollins published? Trent Lott.

But our winner? Bill O. "So what if I have some conservative positions?" he asks. "So what if FOX News takes a more traditional stance than NBC News? News people are supposed to respect opposing points of view. In America today, that's obviously not the case, as many in the media see their role not to inform or enlighten you, but to promote various ideological causes of their own." "In the upcoming presidential race, I believe most of the media will help the Democratic Party big time. Bank on it."

Traditional stances, like calling 16-year-old guests "pinheads"; like developing a paranoid obsession with NBC News because you hate me, but you cannot bear to actually say my name; by doing what you and Fixed News -

I'm sorry, Fox Noise - did during the last presidential election, interviewing fake groups, putting fake words in John Kerry's mouth, authenticating fake reports from people like the Swift Boat frauds, all of which probably did more to help the Republican Party than even the RNC did.

Traditional stances, Bill. The only traditional stance you've ever taken is while you were talking to your producer on the phone. Bill O'Reilly, today's "Worst Person in the World"!


OLBERMANN: The wheels of government turn slowly, particularly when the wrench thrown into them is shaped like Paris Hilton. Our number one story on the Countdown, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors was trying yesterday to address an inner-city hospital so beleaguered that a patient died in its emergency room lobby last month. The board eventually got around to its health care crisis, but not before facing Sheriff Lee Baca, to find out why he initially released Ms. Hilton after just a few days in jail. Meantime, Ms. Hilton has now described that jail cell meltdown, telling "People" magazine, quote, "I was basically in the fetal position, basically in hysterics."

With more on the L.A. crisis part of our story that is Paris, here's our correspondent, John Larson.


JOHN LARSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After staring at the outside of L.A.'s jail for about three weeks, what did the Hollywood press say when Paris strolled out? That her hair was braided, her clothes "hot," gray jacket, sage top, white pumps.

The Paris show continued Tuesday at the L.A. City Council...

ZEV YAROSLAVSKY, L.A. SUPERVISOR: Only in America would Paris Hilton trump health care.

LARSON:... where a critical discussion about the fate of L.A.'s failing inner-city hospital was completely ignored by the press.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can I start speaking when everybody has almost walked out?

LARSON: While they waited for the sheriff to talk about, who else...


LARSON:... the sheriff wore county-issue brown shirt, brown tie, hair not braided.

BACA: The issue of Paris Hilton's release was based purely on a medical explanation.

LARSON: The sheriff was there to, once again, explain why, several weeks ago, he let Hilton out of jail for a day, only to have the angry judge throw her back in.

BACA: She had two medical doctors unbeknownst to us. Each were prescribing medication for her. She herself was unable to tell us the type of medication or dosage that was necessary.

LARSON: He said jail medical staff told him Paris was in real medical trouble, but when his undersheriff - wearing brown shirt, brown tie - called the judge...

LARRY WALDIE, L.A. UNDERSHERIFF: He told me, quite frankly, he didn't care. He said he believed she was conning her doctor and our doctors.

LARSON: The judge - black robe - has not commented. In the end, the council - business suits - was satisfied that the sheriff did his job, and they thankfully got back to doing theirs.

BACA: You know, Martin Luther King hospital is a far more important issue than this issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amen. I couldn't agree with you more.


LARSON: And that's when the press - wearing mostly jeans - left. John Larson - not seen here, but wearing blue shirt, red tie - NBC News, Los Angeles.


OLBERMANN: We're joined now by comedian Chuck Nice, also a contributor to VH1's "Best Week Ever." Chuck, good evening.

CHUCK NICE, VH1'S "BEST WEEK EVER": Keith, how are you, man?

OLBERMANN: Is it actually possibly the city of Los Angeles might function better now that Paris Hilton is free?

NICE: All I know is this: The Crips and Blood better be on notice, because, quite frankly, they've been resting easy for the last couple of weeks, since Paris Hilton has been under all of our scrutiny. And now, perhaps, since she's "rehabilitated," the focus might go back to them.

OLBERMANN: She just could not wait to do this first interview. She told "People" magazine that she was so bad off that she first went in to jail, that she was in this fetal position, is that really the image she should want us to conjure up?

NICE: Well, you know, to be honest, that's an image that we've already seen. I mean, quite frankly, we've seen Paris in the fetal position. It just wasn't on her side at the time, if you know what I'm saying.

OLBERMANN: Yes, I think I do. She really must have liked these other inmates. She said more than once that they were all nice, supportive, they talked to her through the vents. Do you think she made any lasting friends there, vent friends, people you could vent to?

NICE: I think that's a wonderful thing that she has people that she talked to through the vents. I can just imagine the conversations. "Yo, girl, when I get out of here, you think you can get me in a club?" Like, you know, I think that's kind of cool that she was able to connect with the inmates that way. And, quite frankly, her neighbors are afraid that the media is going to be a problem; they might have to worry about Paris' little halfway house now.

OLBERMANN: This is one of the areas, perhaps, in which she has changed. We've been told about how much she's changed. We were told by her that while she was in jail. One of her first acts out of jail was to get new hair extensions. She really has changed, hasn't she?

NICE: Oh, yes. Well, listen, Keith, you and I both know that, quite frankly, people can't see a change on the inside. So I think right now what Paris is doing is she is metaphorically expressing to the whole her inside change through her new hair extensions.

OLBERMANN: Wow, you could work for the Bush administration with that one. Wow.

Another quote from the "People" magazine interview, she was asked about those who doubt that she will change because of her jail experience, and she said, "They're wrong, and they don't know me. I'm sincere, and they'll see." So what can she do to cut against the low and perhaps diminished expectations the public would have of her?

NICE: You know, honestly, she's saying all the right things. The thing I love is that she says she wants to help people now, she wants to help inmates. She actually said she wants to have a halfway house. My question was: Halfway to what? Like, halfway to the club? "Hey, I'm going to the club. I'll meet you halfway."

OLBERMANN: And the first parolee into the halfway house, Britney Spears.

NICE: Oh, yes, without a doubt. I feel very bad for Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan right now, because the spotlight has been stolen from them, and probably not rightfully so. At this point, Britney is going to have to like eat a live puppy on national television to get back in the news.

OLBERMANN: Don't give her any ideas. Comedian Chuck Nice, also of VH1's "Best Week Ever," great thanks for your time, Chuck.

NICE: Hey, Keith, a pleasure. Thank you.

OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this, the 1,519th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. From New York, I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night, and good luck.