Friday, June 22, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for June 22

Guests: Rachel Maddow, Michael Musto

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

The Gitmo meeting is canceled. Gitmo is not yet canceled.



firm decision. The president gave a firm decision two years ago, in which he said, I want this place closed.


OLBERMANN: Funny how he hasn't been able to get that done in two years.

There is something going on here below the surface. We'll ask Saleem (ph) Hamdan's attorney, Professor Neal Katyal, if he knows what it is.

Don't ask the vice president. He won't tell you. Apparently, he won't even tell the president. Day two of the controversy over the autonomous nation of Cheneyland.


PERINO: The president's intention was never to separate the vice president out from himself.


OLBERMANN: When presidential candidates show up at a memorial for nine firefighters who perished nowhere near the candidates' states or cities, is it paying respects, or playing politics? And why the firefighters in South Carolina had to ask Rudy Giuliani not to speak. And is it politics when the secretary of Homeland Security does speak at the memorial?



Monday reminds us that we live in a world in which danger is all around us, from accidents, to natural disasters, to deliberate acts of terror.


OLBERMANN: Deliberate acts of the CIA, attempted assassinations abroad, infiltration of leftist organizations at home, domestic spying and kidnapping, all of it to be revealed, detailed, and released. Of course, none of the secret domestic black-bag work is more recent than the 1970s, and the agency couldn't be doing any of that now.

And the secret of Paris Hilton's shrink, the one who talked them into letting her out of jail, the guy who's the associate professor of neuropsychiatry at UCLA. Well, he isn't. He's an unpaid volunteer at UCLA. Oops.

All that and more, now on Countdown.

Good evening from New York.

Even when the Bush administration wants to shut down its operations in an occupied foreign territory, it still cannot figure out a way to do so.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, if, after two years of planning and intent, the White House does not have an exit strategy for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, what are the chances it's going to pull one out of somewhere for Iraq?

Twenty-four hours later, still more questions than answers about the Associated Press report that the Bush administration was nearing a decision to close the detention facility at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, tonight, the wire service reporting that, in an affidavit released today, an Army officer with a key role in the U.S. military hearings at Gitmo has revealed that they relied on, quote, "vague and incomplete intelligence and were pressured to declare detainees enemy combatants, often without specific evidence."

That is the first criticism to surface by a member of the military panels that will determine whether detainees will continue to be held, the White House deputy press secretary, Dana Perino, saying this afternoon she believes the decision to cancel today's high-level meeting to discuss the closing of Gitmo happened late yesterday only after that wire account of it broke.

But she would not draw the link that the cancellation was the result of the story.

Other gleanings from today's media briefing, the U.S. is renovating a prison in Afghanistan, but the facility should not be viewed as even a partial replacement for the detention center in Cuba, that finding a way to leave Gitmo is proving to be difficult, and that the White House wants out of the business of being the world's jailers, but is dismayed that the home countries of the detainees do not wish to assume the job for them.


PERINO: What I can tell you is that these things - these matters are very complex, and how you get individuals who are picked up on the battlefield to be taken back by their home countries.

I mean, a lot of people have complained about Guantanamo Bay around the world, but many of these countries don't want to take them back, don't want to take their individuals back, or we can't get the assurances that they're going to be treated humanely.

And so that while the president has said we want to make sure that we close this facility as quickly as possible, he's not put a deadline on it, because there are complex issues. We have to be sure that we handle it appropriately.


OLBERMANN: We're now once again privileged to be joined by the lead attorney in the case of Hamdan versus Rumsfeld, Georgetown University law professor Neal Katyal.

Thank you again for your time tonight, sir.


OLBERMANN: So to recap this, the White House wants to close Guantanamo Bay, can't bring the detainees into the U.S., but insists that the home countries of the detainees it seeks to release them to do nothing less than continue to hold them indefinitely in the exact same conditions. Is this an attempt to palm off any legal responsibility for these people on those other countries, or what is it?

KATYAL: Well, it really is, is, one suspects that the vice president and attorney general canceled this meeting that was supposed to take place today, (INAUDIBLE) that they canceled it for a simple reason, it's the same reason that they've been insisting on for six years, which, boiled down, simply is this. They're afraid of the Constitution of the United States. They're afraid of this great document the founders left us.

So the first thing that the Vice President Cheney and Alberto Gonzales did was put these people at Guantanamo on a dubious legal theory. They said, Let's put them there where the Constitution doesn't apply. Then the Supreme Court said, Uh, well, guys, it actually does. So then their next step was to try and get Congress to pass a law, which they did, to strip the federal courts of the ability to even hear Guantanamo challenges, and strip the right of habeas corpus, something that's been around since 1215.

And (INAUDIBLE) the courts, I think, were probably on the verge of saying, No, you can't do that either. So now you have this pushback in the administration to these kind of reckless moves. But, you know, bottom line, Keith, is that Alberto Gonzales, as attorney general, is scared of the greatest document that the world has ever known, the Constitution of the United States. And that's why he canceled these meetings, that's why he puts people at Guantanamo in the first place. He's afraid of the federal court system. And everything can be explained by that fundamental, simple idea.

OLBERMANN: In the context of what might happen next, Neal, as defense counsel, is there a benefit to having your client at Guantanamo Bay, in that at least you know where he's being held and under what kind of conditions? I mean, on this newscast last night, Professor Jonathan Turley from George Wd suggested his fear is that if you close Guantanamo Bay, that leads to 100 new Gitmos, and each one of them far less visible.

KATYAL: Right. You know, you can never trust this administration when it comes to doing the right thing. And so I certainly think that fear is a possibly - is warranted. On the other hand, let's be serious. I mean, the administration's argument is that Guantanamo is an legal black hole where they can do whatever they want to those people.

That's a fundamentally reprehensible idea. That's why you know, those noted liberals, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of defense, Roberto - you know, Robert Gates, are saying, Close Guantanamo now, because that is really fundamentally un-American to say, These people have no rights whatsoever, being held at Guantanamo.

I mean, I'm here in Bar Harbor, Maine, talking to the Maine Bar Association, whole bunch of conservative and liberal lawyers at the Bar Harbor Hotel today. And, you know, it was amazing how many conservative lawyers come up and say, Boy, what these people are doing is unpatriotic. It's against what this country's all about.

And so, you know, my hope is the Gateses and the Rices of the world ultimately do prevail in this meeting, if it's ever allowed to happen.

OLBERMANN: And, and that the Lieutenant Colonel Stephan Abrahams (ph) prevail, I assume, as well. Let me read his comment again to you and get your reaction to it, that the hearings have relied at Gitmo on "vague and incomplete intelligence," and the members of the panel he was on were "pressured to declare detainees enemy combatants, often without specific evidence." Does that ring entirely true to your experience?

KATYAL: Well, certainly in my case with Mr. Hamdan. I'm not (INAUDIBLE) familiar enough with the other cases of these tribunals at Guantanamo. But in Mr. Hamdan's tribunal, I mean, it left a lot to be desired.

And so it's not surprising, (INAUDIBLE), you know, your opening segment said, you know, two years ago, the president wanted to close Guantanamo, he hasn't been able to get it done. Well, six years ago, nearly six years ago, he promised justice to (INAUDIBLE) to the victims of 9/11. He had said that there were going to be these trials. No trials have taken place at Guantanamo, not one in nearly six years.

This is a failed policy, and it should be abandoned. And that's what I think you hear these cabinet officials trying to say.

OLBERMANN: Have you got any idea, on reflecting on this, if there've been no trials, if the intent was to have this facility there, what do you think this was all for?

KATYAL: Well, I think what it was really for was this reckless idea by the vice president and Alberto Gonzales to say, We are the president, and we can do whatever we want. We're above the law, we're above the Constitution of the United States. We're above the sacred treaties, like the Geneva Conventions.

And you know, fortunately, our American court system is strong enough to say, No, Mr. President, No, Mr. Vice President, that's no what we're about. In this country, we are a government of laws, and not of men.

OLBERMANN: Georgetown University law professor Neal Katyal, from the Hamdan case. Once again, Professor, great thanks for taking some time tonight.

KATYAL: Thank you very much, Keith.

OLBERMANN: On the day's other big topic at today's White House briefing, a severe case of whiplash regarding who exactly this Dick Cheney guy is anyway. As we told you yesterday, the vice president's office previously claimed he's exempt from an executive order requiring all of the executive branch to report its handling of classified information to a federal office known as ISOO. His rationale was that he is not part of the executive branch.

Today, that rationale flipped 180 degrees, when spokesperson Perino revealed that Mr. Cheney has now evolved to a point where he is not just in the executive branch, but is indistinguishable from the president himself.


PERINO: The president did not intend for the vice president to be treated separately from how he would treat himself.

The president's intention was never to separate the vice president out from himself.

If you look on page 18 of the EO, when you have a chance, there's a distinction regarding the vice president versus what is an agency.


OLBERMANN: Well, our staff had a chance. No exemption at all for the vice president on page 18, so we e-mailed the White House, which referred us to Sections 1.3, which is about something else altogether, and 5l2, which makes no mention of the vice president. In fact, there is no exemption for the vice president, or even the president, when it comes to reporting on classified material.

The president himself, most significantly his National Security Council, has mostly been in compliance with ISOO. Why? His executive order specifically says it applies to, quote, "any executive agency, any military department, and any other entity within the executive branch." Coupled with Perino's claim that Cheney is a part of the executive branch, his noncompliance with the order leaves Cheney only one argument for noncompliance, that he is no longer an entity of any kind, having evolved at last into a literal shadow government unto himself.

Let's turn now to our political analyst, Dana Milbank, also national political reporter of "The Washington Post."

Dana, good evening.


Hello, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Until today, the vice president was arguing he was outside the executive branch. Then today, the White House argued he's equal to the executive branch, based on these nonexistent clauses in one of its own executive orders. Has Cheney just evolved into a higher being beyond our understanding?

MILBANK: It's like understanding the Holy Trinity, isn't it? It's interesting. I think the vice president regards the law much the way he regards arterial plaque, and that is, if you are going along and some law gets in your way, you just push it aside and put in a stent and go on about your business. And that's what he's done in this case.

But, of course, that's what he's been doing all the way back to the energy task force. That's what he was doing making the rationales for the - al Qaeda's links to 9/11. That's what he, as you were discussing in the Gitmo case. Whenever you get in his way, you're going to start looking like Harry Whittington.

OLBERMANN: It's a different level of consciousness. All kidding aside, there's a serious question remaining about Ms. Perino and her citations today. She was either - there are no choices here - flagrantly dishonest, or grossly misread an executive order that is by no means written in tough, unfathomable legalese. We should worry about either of them, obviously, but which seems to be more likely?

MILBANK: Well, in her defense, I'm going to posit a third option, and that was that she was merely parroting out what she was told to say. And she was almost certainly told to say that by one David Addington, who is the chief of staff to the vice president. He believes in this extraordinary theory called the unitary executive theory, which basically, taken to its logical conclusion, means that the president is a dictator, and the executive branch is unassailable, it cannot be touched by Congress or by the courts.

His theories on everything from torture and the Geneva Conventions to this have managed to permeate the administration. This is a classic example of that. This is picking a fight over an issue that isn't terribly important.

OLBERMANN: And this all exploded after Congressman Waxman revealed that those ISOO inspectors were unable to gain access to Cheney's files and his office. Now the attorney general has been asked to weigh in on this. What does he have to do with it? And what should we expect from him? I, I - forgetting, what's his name again?

MILBANK: Yes, that fellow. Well, maybe he can appoint Kyle Sampson or Monica Goodling as an independent counsel to get to the bottom of this.

But, yes, he was asked to do this in January. And once again, I feel like we - this comes up on almost every issue. The attorney general has a whole lot of political baggage, and is going to have a difficult time weighing in on this issue. Obviously, everybody will expect him to side with Cheney, and thereby label it political. So it is very difficult for him to get around that. But if the past is prologue, he sides with administrative power.

OLBERMANN: But at the heart of this, Dana, this is about documents, documents that are vital to national security. And now, it appears that there's nobody checking whether Mr. Cheney's office is in compliance. What are the implications of that? And who then steps in to rectify it?

MILBANK: Well, on this particular issue, the implications aren't extraordinary, because it really is just reporting the number of documents, the number of times that things were held as classified.

But the larger issue is a very significant one, because it is constantly testing the bounds of executive power and the relations between the branches. Ultimately, it could go to the courts, but the courts want both the Congress and the White House to be - to show some measure of self-restraint. That's how our government works.

What you have in Cheney's case is a man showing no self-restraint. So there's really no way in our system to deal with that, other than elections.

OLBERMANN: Our own Dana Milbank, national political reporter for "The Washington Post." As always, Dana, great thanks. Have a great weekend.

MILBANK: Good evening.

OLBERMANN: The family jewels, the CIA about to reveal its own records of its own dirty deeds, foreign and domestic. Your Central Intelligence Agency about the Central Intelligence Agency will be the Central Intelligence Agency.

And what kind of intelligence, or lack thereof, was involved in inviting Rudy Giuliani to speak at today's South Carolina firefighters' memorial, and then uninviting him?

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: If you have a nagging sense that overall, life is getting worse and not better, there's a happy surprise in our fourth story on the Countdown tonight.

In the old days, you had to wait for rogue agents, like Philip Agee, to reveal the secrets of the CIA, and you had to buy his book to get them. Even just recently, for the inner machinations of the agency, you had to depend on Richard Armitage and Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby to blow somebody's cover.

But now, in this modern and glittering new age, the CIA is about to catalog its own clandestine and illegal in multiple nations activities.

As our correspondent Pete Williams reports, Central Intelligence is cutting out the middleman and passing the savings and the secrets on to you.



them the family jewels. But they're really the spy agency's dirty laundry, a set of embarrassing and closely held documents, among them, details of a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:... pushes past police and security guards, despite rumors of assassination plots against him.


WILLIAMS: The broad outlines of the abuses are known, infiltrating groups like the Black Panthers, looking for overseas connections, and tailing columnist Jack Anderson and other reporters. But now the details.


because it puts us, the American people, right there in the room where the top of the government is looking at the darkest corners of what we've been up to over decades.

WILLIAMS: CIA director Michael Hayden ordered the documents released, saying they provide a glimpse of a very different agency. Among expected revelations, how the CIA opened mail to and from the Soviet Union that passed through Kennedy Airport, finding four letters to actress Jane Fonda, an antiwar activist.

And the CIA placed officers inside antiwar groups, generating thousands of pages about domestic activities, strictly against the CIA's charter.

Stunned to discover CIA involvement in the Watergate scandal, agency leaders ordered an internal investigation in 1973. Former director William Colby told President Ford, quote, "We have a 25-year-old institution which has done some things it shouldn't have."

A former CIA lawyer says it deserves credit for releasing the family jewels.

JEFF SMITH, FORMER CIA GENERAL COUNSEL: It shows the willingness of

the CIA to say to the American people what was done in their name, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

WILLIAMS (on camera): The full set of documents, about 700 pages, comes out next week, all of them on the CIA's Web site.

Pete Williams, NBC News, Washington.


OLBERMANN: Now, some of the CIA's less clandestine operations. No, sorry, it's just the annual pre-July Fourth warning avoiding, about avoiding fireworks, to say nothing about avoiding exploding watermelons.

There's no segue here, just news that Britney Spears has identified the real cause of all her problems. Her explanation.

Ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: His name was Jack O'Brien, and he covered television for the Hearst newspapers, which at that time, before they mended their ways, was the Murdoch operation of the day. And he didn't like anybody who was politically to the left of Atilla the Hun.

When CBS, which he already didn't like, started a media criticism program hosted by a newsman named Don Hollenbeck called "CBS Views the Press," O'Brien began to like CBS even less, and began to relentlessly attack Hollenbeck as a, quote, "pinko" and "fellow traveler." Hollenbeck, still fragile after malaria and jaundice contracted while covering the Italian front in World War II, could not take O'Brien's remorseless slanders. Fifty-three years ago this morning, he killed himself.

Jack O'Brien lived until the year 2000 and spent those last 46 years being known as a man who prompted another man's suicide.

On that somber reminder, let's play Oddball.

We begin in Albany, New York, with a big water melon in the park. Boring. Wow, much better. It's that annual rite of summer, the big state police fireworks safety demo. The show was a tad short this year. Other than the watermelon, there was just the one mannequin blown up, as police used sized illegal fireworks to show the kiddies the dangers of an unsafe July Fourth. The lesson here was obvious. What you never want to do is duct-tape yourself to a plastic lawn chair and allow a heavy explosive to go off in your lap. I mean, it's just common sense, really.

To Tokyo. We've heard about some of the weird Japanese stuff you can find on the Internets, but videotaping a robot in the shower is just sick. Actually, it's the new cyborg MK2 unveiled this week, the world's first really waterproof robot. Its inventors say, rain or shine, MK2 will be ready to do the jobs too dangerous for human beings, such as working the carwash and putting the tarp over the pitcher's mound during a baseball rain delay. Now, if they can just try to stop it from trying to kill every human it sees, MK2 will be ready for mass production.

Finally, to the skies high above Quito (ph), Ecuador, where the friendly skies just got a little more friendly than perhaps you're comfortable with. This is not Virgin Airlines. One carrier's idea of how to spice up the 40-minute flight from Quito to the coast, women in lingerie roaming the aisles to the entertainment of the menfolk. Clearly, this is not for everyone, but whatever you think of it, you have to admit, this is a hell of a lot better than what was in the aisles of that Continental flight we've been hearing about all week. Look it up.

John Edwards had a regional reason, but what were Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Chris Dodd, and Joe Biden doing at the South Carolina firefighters memorial today, other than campaigning?

And the campaign to get Paris Hilton out of jail for psychological reason had one hidden flaw. Just revealed, the psychologist was not quite who he said he was.

Details upcoming.

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

Number three, Russian arm wrestling star Arsen Liliev. He was four pounds too heavy for his weight class at the European Arm Wrestling Championships. So, to sneak this fact past the official weigh-in, he sent a guy who kind of looked like him. It worked. They weighed the other guy in. Then somebody ratted the fake Liliev out, and they were disqualified.

Number two, Tony Blair, retiring next week after 10 years as prime minister of Great Britain. And he has revealed now that every occasion in the decade since he got to office, every time he attended the famous weekly grilling by parliamentary opponents and supporters called Prime Minister's Question Time, he wore the same pair of shoes. They're a pair of handmade leather brogues that he bought for about $350 in 1989. No word about his socks or underwear.

Number one, Paul Ralph Vandiver of Chattanooga, Tennessee, arrested when he appeared at a miniature golf course in Chattanooga carrying a two-foot-long machete. He gave one of the greatest excuses of all time, and then one of the worst. The machete was for cutting through the brush as he attempted to locate his missing pet raccoons, he said. But then the prosecutor noted that when he was arrested, Mr. Vandiver's hands and his mouth had been coated with silver paint, and that he liked to huff spray paint, get high off the aerosol fumes. Don't you like silver paint? asked the prosecutor. No, answered the defendant. I like gold paint.


OLBERMANN: Often in the wake of municipal tragedy, a public figure cannot do anything right. If a mayor goes to a hospital where a policemen was shot, he can be accused of exploiting the nightmare for political gain. If he stays away, he can be accused of ignoring the city's debt to the fallen officer. But in our third story in the Countdown, if the tragedy is in South Carolina and the politicians who go to the scene include an ex-mayor form New York, senators from Connecticut and Delaware and a homeland security secretary from Washington, who inexplicably brings up terrorism, the stench of pure politics is a lot more pure and a lot more putrid.

Thousands of firefighters came from all over the country to Charleston, South Carolina today, mourning nine of their brothers who died in the collapse of the burning furniture store on Monday. The salute to their comrades and the comforting of their families done as much with pride as with sorrow. The nine deaths, the worst one day loss of life for firefighters since the deaths of 343 New York firefighters on 9/11.

And it is the very thread that had the potential to turn the ceremony from honor to exploitation. One of the speakers, Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff.



reminds us that we live in a world in which danger is all around us, from accidents to natural disasters, to deliberate acts of terror.


OLBERMANN: Adding to the political presence, a handful of presidential candidates, Democrat John Edwards from the neighboring state of North Carolina, but also Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd. Among the Republicans, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani, whose campaign, of course, runs to the drum beat of repeating 9/11. MSNBC confirming that Giuliani had originally been scheduled to speak at the event, invited by Jim Bowie, who directed the memorial, and also heads the South Carolina Firefighters Association, which has endorsed Giuliani.

The Giuliani speech apparently scrubbed when the International Association of Firefighters objected to making the event a stage for the man who they do not consider to be a hero of 9/11, nor a friend to firefighters. Joining us now to talk about the line between pathos and politics, Air America host Rachel Maddow. Rachel, thanks for your time.


OLBERMANN: The fact that the homeland security secretary would have a connection with first responders I guess is fair enough. But Secretary Chertoff couldn't resist mentioning terrorism. And what was Rudy Giuliani going to speak about?

MADDOW: Well, it seems like Giuliani was going to speak because somebody involved with his campaign was involved in setting up the event. It's sad. And everybody knows it. But it bears repeating that Rudy Giuliani's whole post-mayoral life has been about wrapping himself up in 9/11, and wrapping himself up specifically in the heroism of the people who died on 9/11 trying to rescue others.

It's been the basis of his consulting gig. It's been the basis of all his paid speeches. And it's now the basis of his presidential campaign. And so they saw this as an opportunity, once again, for him to campaign almost as if he is a firefighter, which, as you noted, is awkward, given that New York firefighters are among his most vociferous critics.

OLBERMANN: The wife of Democratic candidate Bill Richardson was also there. We mentioned that that makes five presidential candidates or their representatives. Was there a desire to show sympathy? Or was this somehow a campaign necessity? Or was there a pack mentality among their handlers?

MADDOW: It's interesting. I don't think there's anything wrong with showing respect and with sitting in the back of the room and not sending out a press release about the fact that you're there, and being there as a way to pay respects. I mean, it is true that firefighters, when they lose their brothers and their sisters in accidents like this, fires like this, they do come from all over the place to attend these funerals. It's the same thing with police officers.

And so for elected officials to say, I would also like to show my respects, that's all right, as long as they're not there to make it about themselves, as long as they're not there to speak at the event, as long as they're not there to make it part of their campaign. Being a politically potent symbol isn't always a practically great deal. It kind of reminds me of when developing countries discover oil. And they realize, well, we might benefit from this in some way, but we might also get invaded.

It's the same thing with our troops and our veterans, realizing that support the troops has become a mantra. OK, well that makes it something that people repeat a lot and use as a political epithet, but it doesn't make sure that veterans or our troops are treated any better. It's the same thing with first responders post-9/11. They have become very politically potent, but it hasn't turned into more support or funding for first responders.

Firefighters and police officers in New York City still aren't talking to each other on radios that are compatible this long after 9/11, no matter how many politicians have wrapped themselves up in that legacy.

OLBERMANN: And sort of tangential to that, Mr. Giuliani, by himself, made this a political event. Did we learn something significant politically then? I mean, the International Association of Firefighters insisting on him not speaking at this. Its website has nothing good to stay about him. They specifically blame him for disrespecting 9/11 firefighters by ending the search for remains too early.

Would that be a surprise to most people? And is this the point at which some of the realities of that 9/11 cloak that he cloaks himself in may come to the fore?

MADDOW: I think the Giuliani campaign, if they want to really go for it, if they really want this campaign to be more than just something that ups his speaking fee even further, they're going to have to broaden his appeal beyond him still talking about 9/11, because it is very uncomfortable that every time he shows up, for example, in New York, he's dogged by New York firefighters, who are complaining and campaigning against him.

There's a lot of things that are wrong with Rudy Giuliani's candidacy. You could start with the annulment of the marriage to his cousin and go right three Bernie Kerik and on to profiteering off 9/11, instead of going to the Iraq Study Group Repot - study group meetings. The are a lot of things wrong with Giuliani's candidacy. But the real heroes of 9/11 campaigning against him, as he continues to run on the basis of 9/11, is ultimately going to be a real bad ending for him.

OLBERMANN: Yes, and there were those two headlines in the last two days that just don't seem to fit either. He didn't want to politicize the Iraq Study Group, but he showed up at the firefighters memorial today in South Carolina. Rachel Maddow, the host of the Rachel Maddow Show on Air America. As always, great thanks. Have a good weekend, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks Keith. You too.

OLBERMANN: Here's your classic TV scare headline, the toy that could hurt your kids. Cliche it may be; unfortunately, it's also true. As is the reunion of these women. I'm guessing you didn't know there was any great public ground swell for a reunion of these women. Did you? But first, here are Countdown's top three sound bites of this day.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When Pat and Gina Wheaton (ph) found out they were expecting the perfect baby name seemed obvious.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So the Wheatons decided to name their son For Real. They say of course For Real will be teased about his name. But what's different about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get teased at school anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No matter what your name is.


Damion Escobar discovered their love for the violin in the third grade and son found themselves studying classical music at New York's finest conservatories. They formed a group called Nuttin But Springs, performing a new music fusion that bridges classical, R&B and rap. I'm looking forward to it.

JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": His campaign bus bounced into Washington this week, where he and his fellow Democrats made a pilgrimage to one of their party's holiest shrines, a union convention, specifically, the annual meeting of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Union or NA - I'm sorry I'm on break.



OLBERMANN: It is not just that a hugely popular toy made in China is covered in dangerous lead paint. In our number two story on the Countdown, that toy may now become an unintended mascot for a larger problem, possibly unmasking our government's incapacity or disinterest in safety testing all imports meant for kids. Our correspondent Tom Costello on Thomas the Train.



TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over:): For little boys,

Thomas the Train is as big a deal as Barbie is to girls. Now, 1.5 million wooden trains are being recalled because they were coated with brain damaging lead paint in China. The company that makes the trains, RC2 Corporation, tells NBC News, at this time, there have been no reports of illness or injury.

But the case follows other recalls of Chinese-made toys, the Easy Bake Ovens made by Hasbro, the Chicken Limbo electronic party game, the Nerf Big Play Footballs and the Super Soaker Monster Rocket. Just back from China, the acting consumer product safety commissioner.

NANCY NORD, CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMM: It's a growing problem. Indeed, if you look at the number of recalls of products from China, frankly, it's doubled since 2000.

COSTELLO (on camera): Safety advocates say there simply aren't enough government inspectors on the job to test imported toys for lead paint or choking hazards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no testing, often times, of these toys before they reach the shelves. There's no oversight of the factories that are making these toys. And that's really a gap that needs to be closed quickly, because there are serious hazards involved.

COSTELLO: Of the 22 billion dollars worth of toys sold every year, 80 percent are made in China. But the toy industry insists only a small percentage of those are ever recalled.

CARTER KEITHLEY, TOY INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION: It's just not true that toys aren't safety tested before coming into the United States. They're all safety tested. And, in fact, they're all reliable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the Thomas trains.

COSTELLO: In Boston, toy store developer Steve Kessel say Thomas the Train is a huge hit. And he's watching sales closely.


in showing concern about the wooden trains and other Thomas products.

However, I wouldn't consider it panic yet.

COSTELLO: No panic, but a growing concern about how quality control in the world's biggest country affects children here.

Tom Costello, NBC News, Washington.


OLBERMANN: On to our nightly round-up of celebrity and entertainment news, Keeping Tabs, and Britney Spears's solution to a really nagging mother, restrain her. La Spears mulling the possibility of filing a restraining order against her mother, Lynn Spears, with a huge caveat, of course, that the source on this story is another one of those celebrity websites, X-17Online.

Anyway, it's claiming that Spears paid a visit to her attorney this week, the main purpose of the order, reportedly, would be to keep the elder Spears away from her grandchildren. There have been reports circulating for more than a week now that Lynn Spears has actually been siding with Kevin Federline because he let's her see her grandchildren more often. And that the pop singer blamed both mom and Mr. Federline for forcing her into rehab.

You know, the prospect of becoming a parent can be scary. Then there's the prospect of becoming a parent with somebody named Scary. Eddie Murphy getting the news that he has fathered child numbered seven. According to "Access Hollywood," DNA test revealing that Murphy is the daddy of the little girl born in April to the Spice Girl known as Scary, AKA Melanie Brown.

Brown was pretty sure about it, since she gave her child Murphy's name on the birth certificate, Angel Iris Murphy Brown - wait a minute Murphy Brown - which means the child is no longer Baby Spice, which of course is already taken, as was Murphy Brown. And Scary, Baby, Sneazy and the other Spice Girls will announce their reunion next week in response to popular demand of the Spice Girls.

Best known for their hits "Wanna Be" and the house remix of "Wanna Be," the Spice Girls became a global phenomenon in the 1990s, consisting of Posh, Sporty Ginger, Baby, and Scary. The band broke up after weak album sales and Spice Girls went on to pursue solo careers, and achieve weak sales on their own terms.

Until recently, not all of them were able to agree on a reunion, but apparently one of them has cashed her final residual check, so look for a big official announcement next week.

I don't even want to think about Paris Hilton reuniting with anybody. In the interim, the new reason the judicial system is angry with her brief escape from the Hooscow (ph). That's ahead, but first here are Countdown's nominees for today's Worst Person in the World.

The bronze to the British Ministry of Defense. It announced earlier this year its intent to release its UFO files to the public. Well, it better include something about this. This is described as one of two mile-wide oval orange lights spotted recently by at least three pilots and seven passengers hovering, stationary 2,000 feet above the Channel Islands. Britain's Civil Aviation Authority has a report on a near miss with whatever the heck that is. But it's not releasing it yet.

The runner up tonight, John Travolta, speaking of outer space. America's other Scientologist telling an interviewer that he agreed fully with Tom Cruise during Cruise's psycho babble dust up with our own Matt Lauer, but that Cruise could have phrased things better. Could have said, quote, as Travolta did, if you analyze most of the school shootings, it's not gun control. It's psycho-tropic drugs at the bottom of it.

Bad timing there Doctor Vinnie Barbarino (ph), considering the toxicology report just came back on the student who shot 32 classmates and teachers to death at Virginia Tech. No toxic substances in his system. No prescription drugs in his system. What did he shoot them with, John? Pharmaceutical salesman samples?

But our winner, CNN's Glen Beck. Boy, is he getting desperate. Talking about the video of the reported suicide bomber graduation ceremony that just happened to wind up on American TV, beck actually said this, maybe Jimmy Carter was booked and that's why he didn't speak at the commencement ceremony.

Mr. Beck, you do realize that only in his wildest dreams could an actual suicide bomber hope to do as much damage to this country as you do everyday. Glen Beck, today's Worst Person in the World!


OLBERMANN: In our number one story on the Countdown, a mystery solved. You may recall that when Judge Michael Saur (ph) held a hearing on whether to send Paris Hilton back to jail, after she was prematurely released to home confinement, he kept noting the time and saying that he had yet to receive any medical records on Hilton's condition. Well, just maybe that is because the doctor, who had been so adept at getting Miss Hilton out of tight spots, is not an MD, and may have lied a little about his credentials.

"Radar Magazine" reporting that Dr. Charles Sofie (ph) is not a medical doctor, but rather an Osteopath, a doctor of Osteopathy, focusing on alternative treatments. He is, apparently, a valid member of the American Psychiatric Association, but Dr. Sofie had also claimed on his website that held an associate clinical professorship at UCLA. However, sources there say he's an unpaid volunteer clinical instructor. Dr. Sofie changed the website after Radar called seeking comment.

Miss Hilton was, meanwhile, busy calling Ryan Seacrest yesterday during her one hour flex time and shared her thoughts on a variety of topics. On her past, quote, "my life was going really fast. The craziness of it all, sort of living in a superficial world."

On her feelings: "At first I went through so many emotions, you know, anger, upset that all of this happened, on the jail cell. I'm claustrophobic, but I'm getting used to it now."

The meals, "the food in here is absolutely inedible and horrible.

And the noise, "they shut the doors really loudly, and the guard's keys are jingling."

By the way, those are not his keys.

Also, her fellow inmates, "the walls are pretty thin and there are vents, so the girls next door to me talk to me through the vents."

So it's pretty much the way they make it seem in movies like "Caged Heat," and "Saturday Night Live" sketches like Debs Behind Bars.

Let's turn to a man who would never put Paris and pokey in the same sentence unless it was absolutely necessary, the "Village Voice" columnist Michael Musto.

MICHAEL MUSTO, "THE VILLAGE VOICE": I represent that. Hi Keith.

OLBERMANN: Miss Hilton also said that through those vents the other female inmates were offering her well wishes. They're all friendly. They're all supportive. Do you think they have also been giving her advice, by any chance?

MUSTO: I actually think they've been giving her sex, because those vents are very close together. It's lonely in there. It's amazing what you can do through what Jim McGreevy would actually call a glory hole. Should we just stop right now?

OLBERMANN: Check please, check. OK, we've got three minutes and a half to go. I think I'll just go home now. You can finish. No, -

MUSTO: Gladly.

OLBERMANN: What is going to emerge from jail next week, like a girl power Paris Hilton or what?

MUSTO: Oh yes, she'll be a regular Slutty Spice. I once asked Anna Nicole, do you consider yourself a feminist, and she said I never understood the need for that. I think Paris is going to be the same way. She can't even spell it. But once she realizes that a feminist can still wear lipstick, I think she'll be OK with it. She'll a regular glory hole stynum (ph).


MUSTO: Now do you want to go home.

OLBERMANN: Three minutes to the weekend. Three minutes to the weekend. Just this afternoon, speaking of timing, we learned that there are record specialists at the jail, and they have calculated Miss Hilton's release will be on Tuesday, not Monday as had been reported way into the afternoon. Record specialists, would they have to employ any other specialists to help them figure out how to handle Miss Hilton?

MUSTO: I think a specialist to fire the record specialist, because they would rather get her out on Monday. Also a colorist to make sure the pubes still match the hair on her head. That's what everyone's going to be looking for Keith.

OLBERMANN: A colorist, would you stop at colorist. Hilton's manager reportedly asked to pick up 20 crates of fan mail at the jail. Miss Hilton says the guards there are only letting her have ten letters at a time. Should that kind of limitation qualify as psychological torture?

MUSTO: It is torture for Paris, because she can only read like one sentence every ten hours, so ten letters at a time is overwhelming. This is turning into a bimbo version of "Miracle on 34th Street," with millions of people writing in, I do believe in heiresses. I do believe in heiresses.

OLBERMANN: And they had to deliver them somewhere. A little more torture here, Dr. Sophie may have - first of Dr. Sophie - Dr. Sophie Tucker may have helped get Hilton out of jail a couple of weeks ago.


OLBERMANN: But this back fired, obviously. Does this indicate there is one very important lesson for Paris Hilton hear, real judges will defeat so-called doctors every time?

MUSTO: Yes, and real actresses will defeat people in house of wax.

Real singers will defeat people who record their albums one note at a time. But look, Dr. Sophie's sofa turned out to be bogus, but I'm sure that Paris found some other thing things to do on it.

OLBERMANN: She may have discovered God there. We heard about her spiritual awakening. She says God makes everything happen for a reason. This is her time to figure out her purpose in life. Do we need to begin making the adjustment to taking Paris Hilton seriously.

MUSTO: Well, first of all, I don't trust people who talk about God while not wearing underwear. But, in any case, I think she will find her purpose, which is to keep doing dumb ass things so the tabloids can write about it. If she comes out of jail all spiritual and meaningful, she will cease to exist. Talk much about Angelina lately, Keith? Angelina who?

OLBERMANN: Yes, too serious for her own good. There is one last thing here Michael. She commented on the judge, saying, everyone knows that he abused his power, completely took advantage of the situation. Isn't that a little mouthy for someone who's still in inside. I mean, could we still see Attica before Tuesday?

MUSTO: Which she's never heard of. But, yes, I hope the judge now gets extra vengeful and says, once again, I'm going to double your sentence. We have to keep her in there, Keith, especially because this is my bread and butter, bread and margarine, whatever. This is what I need. I am busier now than a whore on New Year's Eve. And I need her to stay doing bad things so I can talk about it.

OLBERMANN: Yes, got to have something to fill up that hole, as it were. Michael Musto of the "Village Voice." I got the last word. I win. Great thanks for joining us Mike.

OLBERMANN: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: That is Countdown for this the 1,514th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.