Tuesday, July 31, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for July 31

Guests: Dana Milbank, Michael Musto, Rachel Maddow, John Dean

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

Gonzogate spreads. Now the Justice Department reported to be at war with the FBI because Director Robert Mueller contradicted Alberto Gonzales' testimony. It's so cold, says a Mueller aide, "you could open an ice rink between the buildings."

Back at the ranch, the White House not budging an inch on who is right.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In this particular case the attorney general has testified truthfully.


OLBERMANN: John Dean on a White House and not just in crisis, but evidently, in denial. And a fresh hell for the president. His nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs has evidently not gotten the surge forever memo.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No amount of troops in no amount of time will make much of a difference.


OLBERMANN: Does it make a difference how many separate FBI investigations are under way of Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska? Oh, plus the one by the Department of the Interior.

Rupert Murdoch will control the interior of the "Wall Street Journal" but could his plans to position it as a right wing foil to the "New York Times" kill its business reader base?

Business readers, you know, golfers, outdoorsmen and hey now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After a little bit of talking, the golf carts started rocking.


OLBERMANN: More on this golf story as it develops. Plus, the University of Texas, scholarly research study, why people have sex, with Michael Musto. I'm sorry, "Why people have sex," with Michael Musto as the guest analyst.

All that and more now on Countdown.

Good evening, what has looked like a flatfooted lie by the attorney general to the Senate was explained by the administration until dinnertime tonight by its catchall phrase, "Sorry, that is classified."

Our fifth story on THE Countdown, suddenly tonight it is not classified. In a ritual as old as the Bush presidency itself, it has been declassified. This after former judges and prosecutors including former Justice Department staff all of whom are now serving in Congress unveiled a resolution calling for the House to begin investigating the impeachment of Alberto Gonzales for abuses of the FISA surveillance laws, for the Thursday night massacre of U.S. attorneys and for lying to Congress.

But fortunately we have the explanation for that apparent lie now. Fortunately and suddenly and conveniently. The dispute concerns whether Mr. Gonzales lied when he repeatedly denied any internal disagreements over the government's warrantless, that is illegal, surveillance program. This morning, Tony Snow backed Mr. Gonzales with perhaps a subconscious caveat.


SNOW: In this particular case, the attorney general has testified truthfully and this is the kind of thing that is designed to turn up the temperature, rather than to turn on the light.


OLBERMANN: In this particular case. Then tonight, after days of, it's classified, the promised defense for the disparity between Mr. Gonzales' testimony and that of his subordinates a letter explaining he was not lying when he denied disputes over the so-called terrorist programs because when those disputes occurred, it was not yet officially called the terrorist surveillance program. No, I'm serious, that's the best they could come up with in a week.

The letter, signed by national intelligence director Mike McConnell coming in response to questions by Republican Senator Arlen Specter, who was not satisfied by a classified briefing on this issue yesterday. McConnell not even mentioning, let alone defending the attorney general, nor does he address let alone refute, testimony by FBI Director Robert Mueller flatly contradicting Gonzales.

The "New York Daily News" meanwhile quoting an unnamed Mueller aide calling the subsequent rift between the FBI and its superiors at the DOJ now big and cold enough that quote, "you could open an ice rink between the buildings."

Let's turn to now John Dean, the White House counsel during the Nixon administration, more recently, of course, author of "Worse than Watergate." John, thanks for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN: You have worked inside a White House in crisis.

Characterize this White House's defensive efforts today on behalf of Mr.

Gonzales, if you would be so kind.

DEAN: I think I would have to characterize it really as a lack of defense. In fact I saw a certain ability or push to distance themselves from Gonzales while they did support and say he is being truthful. They did not wrap themselves in this problem and they certainly have not given any key indication that the president is pushing Gonzales to resolve it. So it is kind of - he is not really left twisting in the wind yet but there is a distance there.

OLBERMANN: I joked about the idea that the attorney general testified a week ago and yet, the best they could come up in that time was that the discrepancy was a result of them not having yet officially named the TSP the TSP at the time of the internal disagreements. But all kidding aside, is that the sort of stuff you look for, are those the tea leaves before a White House actually crumbles, explanations that are greeted not so much with anger, but with laughter?

DEAN: Well, the weakness of the defense is certainly telling. We do know that Gonzales has several days left, Keith, yet to fix his testimony or correct his testimony if he thinks there are any errors. And the Senate has given him that opportunity. But of course, his problems are broader than that with the Congress in general. Yet that might avoid a perjury prosecution if he can clean that up.

OLBERMANN: Let's back up to this question of impeachment. Do these House members, five of them introducing it today have grounds for it, and if so, does that create a moral imperative for the House leadership to pursue?

DEAN: Well, I do not think there are any - there is any question there are grounds to investigate. And that's all they're asking for in their resolution. I think the larger question is whether the leadership is going to grab hold of this and run with it. Of course, impeachment, a high crime and misdemeanor does not embrace maladministration which was excluded by the founders from the Constitution, but it certainly does include lots of misdemeanors that Mr. Gonzales certainly appears to have committed.

I'm talking about constitutional misdemeanors, not your typical criminal misdemeanors. So there is a lot here and I would be surprised if the leadership does not let this go forward.

OLBERMANN: Have we been in this position before? Obviously, we have had controversial attorneys general. We later found out one that you dealt with in John Mitchell, where illegal activities were planned within his very offices and offices of those who succeeded him. But have we ever had a scenario in which there has been an attempt to remove an attorney general from office by impeachment?

DEAN: I think the closest we have gotten that I can tell you off the top would be during the post Harding administration when Harry Daugherty was Coolidge had become president. There was an effort to ease him out and he finally did resign and left willingly. There was certainly a lot of indication that it might happen, but that is about as close as we come to the current situation that I can think of certainly in modern presidencies.

We have had nothing like this. We have never had an attorney general who has displayed quite the incompetence that Mr. Gonzales has consistently displayed. So it's sort of a new issue for the Congress.

OLBERMANN: Teapot Dome continuing to pay dividends 85 years later. Lastly, John, what can we expect to emerge from this reported rift between Mr. Gonzales and his chief of the FBI, if not the entirety of the FBI?

DEAN: Well, I am told that director Mueller is not somebody who suffers fools easily and gladly. So this is not a healthy thing to have the FBI and the Department of Justice at odds. Theoretically, the attorney general is the director's boss. And when the director has more moxie, if you will, on how to deal with problems and the attorney general, it really does create problems as to where the department should be going, where the FBI should be directing its energies. So I think this is going to have some negative repercussions for the department until they sort them out.

OLBERMANN: John Dean, most recently author of "Conservatives Without Conscience" and before that "Worse than Watergate."

John, great thanks as always for your time tonight.

DEAN: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: In an interview with CNN the vice president eagerly lent his name to the attorney general today. Of course he stood by a convicted perjurer even more staunchly and he defended an undersecretary of defense whose truly un-American attempt to squelch debate and inquiry has already been in a rebuke by the secretary of defense.


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: A member of the Department of Defense sent Hillary Clinton a letter saying she should not criticize because it helps the enemy. Do you agree with that letter?

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT: It did not say that she should not criticize. She was demanding plans for withdrawal from Iraq.

KING: Do you agree with that letter?

CHENEY: I agreed with the letter Eric Edelman wrote. I thought it was a good letter.


OLBERMANN: Perhaps not surprisingly, Mr. Cheney was less than honest about Senator Clinton's letter which requested, quote, "briefings on what current contingency plans exist for the future withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq."

She did not demand operational or classified details of any such plans. She did not demand any military plans. Her letter specifically asked merely for a briefing to let her and Congress know whether such plans existed."

Perhaps to Mr. Cheney's chagrin, members of Congress have routinely been briefed on classifi4ed matters for 200 years.

The man President Bush wants to serve as the top uniformed military officer in the country told Congress today that American military might cannot guarantee the political progress that is needed to salvage Iraq. And he said he does not see much of that progress.

Navy Admiral Michael Mullen spoke before the Armed Services Committee which is expected to devote this week on his nomination as the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


ADM. MICHAEL MULLEN, CHAIRMAN OF JOINT CHIEFS NOMINEE: I believe security is critical to providing the government of Iraq the breathing space it needs to work towards political and national reconciliation and economic growth which are themselves critical to a stable Iraq.

Barring that, no amount of troops in no amount of time will make much of a difference. I look forward, as I know you do, to hearing from Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus in September. I believe prudence dictates that we plan for an eventual drawdown and a transition of responsibilities to Iraqi security forces. And we need to do that wisely.

SEN. CARL LEVIN, (D) MI: Admiral, do you agree that given the purpose of this surge, which is to give the Iraqi government what you and the president call "breathing space" to make the political compromises needed for reconciliation and a political settlement, that there has been very little or no progress in terms of political settlements?

MULLEN: Yes, sir, I agree there does not appear to be much political progress.


OLBERMANN: Prior Joint Chiefs Chairman General Peter Pace lost that job, largely because the administration wanted to avoid the grilling he would get in his renomination hearing. We learned today that Mr. Bush's appoint of General Petraeus to fight the war in Iraq might have brought the president some time with some Democrats.

The "Washington Post" reporting that House Democratic whip James Clyburn who counts vote, keeps party discipline, says that a strongly positive report from Petraeus in September would like lead some moderate and conservative Democrats to drop their support of a timetable for withdrawal.

Let's turn now to MSNBC political analyst Dana Milbank, also of course national political report with the "Washington Post." Dana, thanks for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN: Admiral Mullen seemed to echo many war critics there, but why do I get the feeling that that does not necessarily translate to him going in and advising withdrawal of troops?

MILBANK: Well, I think if he testifies like that one more time he is going to win himself a hunting trip with the vice-president.

But I think there is reason to give some credibility to what Mullen is saying. He seems to be a much more traditional Joint Chiefs chairman, giving frank advice, as opposed to the yes men that Pace and Myers had been before him.

And I think one of the more important things he said today is the military facts are going to require a reduction in forces. He is saying the surge cannot possibly go on beyond next April simply because he is going to enforce a 15 month cap on tours of duty there. So one way or the other, it seems he is heading towards this albeit gradual withdrawal.

OLBERMANN: But Dana, if he is not a yes man, how did he get a job in the administration?

MILBANK: He, as you had just noted, the Democrats may not have been successful in bringing about a withdrawal date, but they were successful in raising objections to Pace and I think it was not just the grilling, it was the possibility of him being rejected that led to that being pulled out.

And also the president's Gates at the Department of Defense is a very real change from Rumsfeld.

Now you don't want to get carried away here. Mullen was still saying it is going to take a three-four years just to cut the number of American troops in Iraq in half. So taking three to four years to get to 80,000 troops is not exactly a rapid withdrawal.

OLBERMANN: President Bush says Iraq's main problem is al Qaeda in Iraq. And if that happens to be the case, why would he bring, quite seriously, a Joint Chiefs chairman such as Admiral Mullen who obviously states that Iraq's problems are primarily political and not military?

MILBANK: I think, again, because he did not really have a choice in the matter. The president has been very good at saying, I listened to my generals, and then finding generals who have agreed with his point of view in the first place. It is possible that he has now reached the end of that list and they are bringing in those who are, as one general noted, not willing to be a parrot on the defense secretary's shoulder.

OLBERMANN: To the undersecretary of defense, Mr. Edelman and Vice President Cheney's remarks to CNN defending that letter which the secretary of defense basically washed his hands of, is - what are the political implications of this that there is some undersecretary in the Pentagon who is towing the Cheney line as opposed to what even the secretary of defense is saying? Where is that going to go from here? Why did Cheney let that thing get reignited today?

MILBANK: Well, that is the vice-president for you, but let's remember that Eric Edelman, the official in question who is actually a civil servant, by the way, had worked in the White House for the vice president before. But I think there again you see a bit of the rift there that Gates is heading in a more moderate direction and the vice- president is certainly pulling back. There'll be another confrontation when Edelman is before the Senate Armed Services Committee with Hillary Clinton herself later this week, but they have wisely decided to close that to the public.

OLBERMANN: And then Secretary Gates can join Admiral Mullen on their hunting trip.

Our own Dana Milbank, national political reporter of the "Washington Post," as always, Dana, great thanks.

MILBANK: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Breaking news tonight, the House hearings in the cover-up of the friendly fire death of former football star Pat Tillman in Afghanistan tomorrow will include an unexpected witness, former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld had originally told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that he would not be appearing. Tonight, he revealed his change of heart, but offered no explanation.

The Army today formally slapped a four star general on the wrist and sent letters of concern to other officers even as evidence mounts that Tillman's death was almost immediately identified on the scene as a result of friendly fire.

Generals John Abizaid and Richard Myers will also testify to the House tomorrow.

Americans first went to Alaska for the promise of gold with no questions asked. A promise the FBI seems to think has been kept for Alaska's senior senator. And finally, somebody is doing something to make watching golf more interesting. It used to be bears and deer spotted on courses, now it is strippers.

You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Get a pencil and a piece of paper and write this down. An overwhelmingly solid bipartisan vote in the House today - Democrats and Republicans voting 411-8 in favor of a new ethics rules including an attempt to crack down on billions of dollars in pet projects slipped into nearly unreadable spending bills sometimes in the middle of the night.

If it is called the Honest Leadership and an Open Government Act of 2007. It might as well have been called the Neuter Ted Stevens Act.

Our fourth story in the Countdown, the 83 year old senator, the poster boy for pork who has delivered billions of dollars to only 670,000 fellow Alaskans for decades. That is, until his infamous attempt at a $300 million bridge to nowhere, which outraged taxpayers and colleagues alike, and kind of started the ethics ball rolling.

But now Stevens has other more direct problems. No bridge going anywhere here. The FBI and IRS rating his half million dollar vacation home near Anchorage, part of a federal corruption probe. The feds taking videos, removing a truckload of documents, computer drives, other material, even photographing bottles of wine.

Remodeling contractors are reported to have told a grand jury that a Stevens supporter, the CEO of an oil services company that did business with Uncle Sam paid to remodel that home, a charge that Stevens denies.

The same CEO and Stevens ally has already pleaded guilty to bribing state lawmakers with wads of hundred dollars bills and phony consulting fees. Let's than a year ago the feds raided the office of Ben Stevens, the senator's son and a top state lawmaker until he resigned.

Let's bring in our home improvement correspondent in Washington, David Shuster. David, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Stevens, the longest serving Republican ever in the Senate

39 years worth of seniority, chairman of the Appropriations Committee at one point, top Republican on Commerce. Today, it was reported that his Senate clerk had testified to a grand jury about remodeling. Where is this all going?

SHUSTER: Well, Keith, the testimony by Barbara Flanders recently, who is an aide to Senator Stevens and also handled some of his personal bills certainly suggests that this investigation has a bull's eye on Senator Stevens and that he is at least the subject, if not a target of a grand jury investigation.

When prosecutors subpoena somebody's financial records, and are not satisfied by what is in those records and demand testimony from a person who pays the bills, that is often the sign of a grand jury investigation that is headed in a very serious direction.

Also, regarding the raid yesterday of Senator Stevens' home, officials are not allowed to conduct such searches until they have convinced a judge that there is a good chance that the home contains evidence related to a crime. So the key issue in all of this of course is the connection between Senator Stevens and a former energy company executive who has admitted to bribing Alaska politicians. That same executive, of course, is the one who oversaw the lavish remodeling of Stevens' home a few years ago and the executive's company during the same period received millions of dollars in federal contracts.

The question for investigators, Keith, is whether Stevens paid the bills as he maintained or received something he should not have from a company that got lucrative government contracts in part because Stevens was on the Appropriations Committee.

OLBERMANN: David, this former CEO of Veco, Bill Allen, who had pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska officials, his connection to Senator Stevens is what, and what about the gas pipeline project that is supposed to be at the center of this probe?

SHUSTER: Keith, Bill Allen is the executive who is the one who was eagerly, essentially, overseeing the refurbishing of Senator Stevens' home and was apparently quite eager to do so. Also, it was Allen who was trying to win favorable tax legislation for a gas pipeline project which is in the middle of all of this. Allen allegedly bribed some lawmakers by handing out wads of hundred dollar bills. That kind of lobbying effort, though, for the gas pipeline project or any other is not legal.

OLBERMANN: What is the reaction inside the Senate to Mr. Stevens and this raid and his troubles and speaking not just about Democrats but Republicans as well?

SHUSTER: Keith, it's been very quiet. The Senate is very much of an exclusive club. Both Senate Democrats and Republicans have been very muted in all of this. Even Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said he did not know enough about this and wanted to wait until the investigation was complete.

Some lawmakers, though, Keith, away from the cameras are pointing out that it would be foolish to say anything negative about Senator Stevens right now just in case Senator Stevens survives this and does not get charged. Because after all, even though he is no longer running the Appropriations Committee, Senator Stevens still wields a lot of power on the Senate Commerce Committee.

OLBERMANN: Last question, David, this new ethics bill passed by the House, will it need any resistance in the Senate? How is it supposed to clean up Washington? How does Senator Stevens stand on it?

SHUSTER: Ironically, Keith, Senator Stevens is one of the senators who is pledging to block the ethics bill. He complains that it would severely punish lawmakers who rely on private aircraft to get to places that commercial aircraft do not serve. The other problem with the bill, Keith, may be that it really sort of a sunshine bill. It essentially casts more light on what the senators are doing as far as their lobbying efforts, who is lobbying them and what pet projects they are doing. All of this of course has to be put on the Internet very quickly. Some lawmakers argue that it simply is not strong enough. That it doesn't really do anything as far as the ethics related to whether something is legal or not.

And then again, you have some senators like Senator Stevens to do not like certain provisions of the bill and are vowing to try and kill it. Keith?

OLBERMANN: Our own David Shuster working the scandal beat. As always, thanks for joining us, as always.

SHUSTER: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: How will the "Wall Street Journal" defend Senator Stevens? Tomorrow perhaps only in its editorial pages, if even that, but in the future under new owner Rupert Murdoch perhaps with big banner headlines and photoshopped pictures of Democrats.

Maybe even with a quick flash from this guy, the newest Boston Celtic. We will explain and show you more of him then you want to see when Countdown continues.


OLBERMANN: On this date in 1900, with the hot breath of the summer on the prairie all about him, at Elmo Roper was born at Hebron, Nebraska. He along with George Gallup and Archibald Crossly developed scientific sampling techniques that conclude if you can ask enough cross-eyed blue haired men who they were going to vote for you could predict how all the cross-eyed blue haired men were going to vote.

Roper and the others using slightly different methodologies correctly forecast the 1936 presidential election and politics has never been the same since.

And on that chilling note, let's play "Oddball."

We began in Webster, Massachusetts, where Hollywood's out of control panty-less starlets habits are having a terrible impact on the elderly. This 82 year old man is facing obscenity charges for lifting his killed and flashing his rear to 3,000 people gathered at a Celtic festival. Ooh, the Celts have got Kevin Garnet. Wicked trade, eh?

We have removed the offending video for your protection. The man now says he regrets flashing his can, and in the man's defense, people really should not pretend they did not see this coming. After all, the man's name is David McCracken (ph). Tell everyone how you did it, Dave.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I run with my back towards the spectators' gallery, bowed down, lifted my kilt at the back and waggled my buttocks.


OLBERMANN: To Orlando, Florida, where this kid ate some bling, bling. Bobby Tedesco's (ph) mother brought her son a set of fake diamond encrusted grills at a local flea market. Not long after, Bobby put them into his mouth. He swallowed them. It's a simple story, really. Boy meets grill, boy eats grill, boy gets x-rays of grill in stomach, boy waits for grill to exit stage right.

Doctors said the tooth would take one to three days to leave Bobby's belly. He also suggested that when they do come out, Bobby should not put them back in his mouth.


OLBERMANN: In a similarly vain story, the evil empire gets another Xerox machine. Rupert buys the "Wall Street Journal." But might his plans for it backfire? Speaking of backfire, whole new meaning to that golf phrase hole in one.

These stories ahead, but first here are Countdown's top three news makers of this day. Number three, Mister Christopholus' (ph) second grade class at William V. Wright Elementary School in Las Vegas. Its members did what you and I have dreamt of a since we were in the second grade. They started a letter-writing campaign to the lunch lady, Conny Dweeks (ph), to plead with her to get rid of those horrible green beans. Anything, anything, wrote one boy; I will even eat broccoli. Dear Mrs. Dweeks, wrote one boy, the food is so yummy and yummy, but there are one problem. It is the green beans.

One kid got a little carried away and asked for lobster. Mrs. Dweeks has replaced the green beans though with alternating corn and carrots.

Number two, Nelson Piquet of Brazil, Formula One's world champ driver in 81, 83 and 87. He has now had one too many run ins with the law and has suffered the revocation of his license. He can get it back if he completes a 30 hour driver ed course and does not average 187.34 miles an hour while doing it.

Number one, Canada's Deputy Foreign Minister Leonard Edwards, invited to the presidential state dinner at the palace in Manila in the Philippines. Upon arrival, all of those attendees were given barongs (ph), nearly see through Philippine shirts to wear to all the meetings. But Mr. Edwards did not get the memo. He wore his barong to the state dinner. So what if everybody else was there in suit and tie and generally a white shirt, and they took the official group picture, and put you in your barong in the front row.

Just remember, minister, when it comes to shirt wearing at a state dinner, even two barong's don't make a white.


OLBERMANN: At some point, fear of Rupert Murdoch's reputation may overcome the lure of his money. It did not in my case. In our third story in the Countdown, not yet. Murdoch will now add to his media empire a newspaper with the second highest circulation in the United States. The deal as of this hour is officially done. It has just been approved by the boards of both Dow Jones, publishers of the "Wall Street Journal," and News Corp, which is Murdoch's corporate name.

The takeover bid has won the support of at least 32 percent of Dow Jones voting shares held by the Bancroft family. In other words, about half that family, which controls 64 percent of all voting shares, favored the deal. A spokesman for Dow Jones said, quote, the Bancroft family has accepted, but only after months of doubt and turmoil.

The Bancroft family has controlled Dow Jones for more than a century, and many argue that its gem, the "Wall Street Journal," will be damaged with Murdoch as its new boss. But the prospect of making 60 dollars a share for stock that was trading at about 36 dollars a share proved too strong. Family members will also reportedly earn about 30 million dollars in advisory fees.

Let's turn now to the host of the "Rachel Maddow Show" on Air America, surprisingly enough, Rachel Maddow. Thanks for your time tonight, Rachel.


OLBERMANN: This is far more than a business acquisition for Rupert Murdoch. I think that's fair to say. But what are the actual dimensions in his mind, do you think?

MADDOW: It's interesting. I mean, anybody who is trying to make money right now; anybody who's looking for a pure business proposition is not in the market for a newspaper. If you just look at Rupert Murdoch's own media empire, newspapers make up less than 15 percent of his operating income. The "New York Post" alone loses tens of millions of dollars a year.

He holds on to them because they offer him a pulpit, a great megaphone

for his political views. And it is pretty clear - it is no secret in this

case that this makes him, along with the plans for a Fox Business Channel -

it makes him the single, unchallenged dominate voice in the American media on news about business.

OLBERMANN: Mr. Murdoch claims that nobody at the "Wall Street Journal" should worry about him meddling, since News Corp has this agreement to create a committee that would have to sign off on any decision to hire or fire top editors at the paper. Nothing to see here, right?

MADDOW: A committee! Wow, a committee. Therefore, our sacred honor and our values will obviously be totally intact. He made similar promises when he took over the "Times of London." And the experience of the "Times of London" should offer no one comfort. The "Times of London" used to be a respectable, if conservative, publication before Murdoch got his hands on it. The same thing cannot be said of it today. He's made these promises before.

OLBERMANN: Any chances though, under these circumstances, of a reader backlash if Murdoch tries to position, as he has said, the "Wall Street Journal" as a conservative counter to the "New York Times" as a national newspaper? By this, I mean, the Journal's editorial page is just to the right of Attila the Hun, but people who buy the paper for the paper itself generally have wanted insightful business news and perspective they can carry to and from the office and ways to make money and more ways to make money.

Can he conceivably blow that by getting all political on them?

MADDOW: One thing that will be interesting to watch is the way that Murdoch has showed his editorial influence in the past. Because yes, it is right wing politics and a willingness to stretch the truth in order to further his right wing political aims, on the one hand. But the other thing that he is really known for is just sheer tastelessness. I mean, this is the guy who puts the naked ladies in the paper every day, he promises. And he runs these wingo (ph) games and stuff to try to entice people to buy the paper when naked ladies aren't enough.

The experience of him with the "Chicago Sun-Times," for example, is remembered almost as much for that sheer cheesy tastelessness as it is for his political eccentricities. So, we may see a number of different kinds of reader backlash with this "Wall Street Journal" takeover.

OLBERMANN: And the "Daily Kos" reminded its readers of a lawsuit that had been filed by two employees against the Fox News Station in the Tampa area in 2003. They had been fired by the station - this is opposed to the national network - for refusing to distort a story, they said. Fox News actually argued in the appeal that broadcasters have the first amendment right to lie, or deliberately distort news reports on the public airwaves. And Fox News - Fox Corporation anyway - won, although on slightly narrower grounds than that.

First amendment protections are strong, but Fox is brash enough to claim we can lie and the constitution says we can lie?

MADDOW: This is getting to the really issue here, the really big story. This is not just about media consolidation. It is not just about supporting Republican candidates or conservative policies. The big issue here is - and the big agenda here is, I think, to simply make news worse, to undermine the idea of a discoverable truth about information that can be researched and conveyed and believed in.

When you bill the work of Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly as news, when you call that the Fox News Channel, you are degrading the very idea of news. You're making news something that should be questioned alongside propaganda or opinion. You're putting the very idea of news in the gutter, where it lives with equal stature to propaganda. It simply undermines the very idea of journalism as something that deserves respect.

It gets us back to the Bush administration's assertions about the reality based community being something that should be questioned by people who live outside that reality based community. That's the big agenda here, undermining the whole idea of journalism. And that's the thing to worry about.

OLBERMANN: The good old ministry of truth has another outlet. Rachel Maddow, host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on Air America, as always, great thanks for your time, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: And so it was time for News Corp to celebrate. This video? This video has nothing to do with News Corp. It does however pertain to an epidemic of strippers on golf courses. No segue intended here either. These young ladies have lost not their honor, but their TV show. That's next. This is Countdown.


OLBERMANN: If it is an epidemic of lawlessness and lewdness, at least it is going to be an entertaining one. Our number two story in the Countdown, first the Poconos, now metropolitan Philadelphia rocked by a story of strippers on a golf course. I know. I know. Why would you need anything besides gold to make a golf course interesting? And how many gad jokes could you make about a sport that includes the familiar terms hole in one, you're hooking to the left, and, of course, I had trouble with my puts all day. From our NBC station in Philadelphia, WCAU, our correspondent is Harry Hairston.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is assault! That is assault.

HARRY HAIRSTON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This man did not want the NBC 10 investigators to see what any one could have seen from a public street, strippers from Club Risque engaging in very risky activity at the Island Green Golf Course in northeast Philadelphia.

(on camera): Something going on that should not be?

(voice-over): This man would not talk and left after we called police about him shoving my photographer around. But someone who wants to remain anonymous did talk earlier, alerting the NBC 10 investigators about strippers bearing more than bikinis in plain view, right in the middle of the residential area.

Within minutes of driving through this northeast neighborhood, I looked out the passenger window and spotted a topless woman fondling her breasts. And when we stopped for a closer look, we saw more than just fondling. One by one, golf carts pulled up. After a little bit of talking, the golf carts started rocking with lap dances.

And when the hot session cooled, cold cash came out. We showed the video to several area residents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty amazing. Unbelievable. I am shocked.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is disgusting. It is out in the open. It is day time. What if someone and their family walked by?

HAIRSTON: I contacted the golf course, but management refused to talk and hung up on me. I also contacted the gentleman's club. A spokesman for Club Risque told me they sponsored the outing and the strippers worked for them. The spokesman also told me the strippers were supposed to only pose in bikinis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it is terrible, disgusting, and they should be arrested, especially whoever is that on the top.


OLBERMANN: Four! Time to take the wraps off our nightly look at celebrity and entertainment news, Keeping Tabs. If you are desperately trying to lose a few pounds this summer, maybe you'll want to know how Star Jones did. You know, outspoken Star Jones Reynolds, formerly of "The View," formerly topping 300. She raised all kinds of curiosity, even concern, over her dramatic weight loss over the last three years from more than 300 pounds to about 147.

Now, in an essay in "Clamor Magazine," she writes that a combination of psychological therapy and stomach bypass surgery helped her lose 160 pounds. She also said she intentionally evaded questions about the surgery because she was ashamed. The old Star turning to double bacon cheeseburgers for comfort. The new Star says it's not that women need to be thin, but that they should strive to be healthy.

Then there is the Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie career weight loss program, a simple way to remove 500 pounds of ugly television. "The Simple Life" canceled by the E Network. According to a source from E, the DUI duo was too difficult to work with and over exposed, if you can imagine that. Plus, they needed the time for two more shows for Joel McCale (ph), the Soup's best of the Emergency Broadcast System clips 2007, and the Soup's Ann Curry Good Morning marathon 2007.

Of course, there was also the little matter of the gals' conduct, you know, unexpectedly winding up behind bars, now and then. First Paris, now Nicole getting ready to spend four days in the big house for driving the wrong way down a freeway while drunk. You know what they say, for every prison door that is slammed shut, another door opens, at least for Paris Hilton.

She has landed a role in a new movie musical called "Repo, The Genetic Opera." It takes place in the year 2056, by which time, presumably, cars will drive themselves.

Here's a segment even they will watch, the academic study indicating there are at least 237 different reasons to have sex. Reason number 147, quote, I wanted to keep warm. You bet. That's ahead, but first time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for Worst Person in the World.

Number three, Rudy Giuliani, repeating his claim in New Hampshire this week that as mayor of New York he cut or eliminated taxes 23 times. Problem is, some of his fellow law makers, Republicans included, in New York City, say that is not true. Four of those 23 times the tax cut was initiated by others. One more he's counting twice. And another one of those 23 times the tax cut was one Mayor Giuliani opposed and tried to prevent. It is not 23. Generously, it is 19. Realistically, it is 17. The value of those cuts is not the nine billion Giuliani claims, but less than five.

Number two, your Department of Homeland Security, somewhat after the fact. It is revealed that those possible terrorist dry runs that everybody got so freaked out about, the gel bags and the cheese with the wires and the cell phones and stuff - all four of the incidents have valid innocent explanations. No charges and no dry runs. And, by the way, no headlines mentioning no charges or no dry runs.

But our winner, Juliane Cho (ph), associate commissioner of the mayor's office of film, theater and broadcasting for New York City. She has written the email indicating the city is pushing for new rules that would require any group of two more people who want to film, videotape, or take still pictures in a public place in New York for 30 minutes or more would have to get a city permit and have to get a million dollars in liability insurance.

If it is a group of five people and a tripod, the time frame drops to 10 minutes. And even though the new regulations don't mention any exemptions, the city claims this would not affect amateurs or tourists.

Of course it won't. There is still a constitution of the United States, Miss Cho. And these rules are so obviously in violation of so much of it Alberto Gonzales would not try to sneak this past anybody. Juliane Cho, and the mayor's office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting for the city of New York, today's Worst Persons in the World.


OLBERMANN: To the top of the Countdown and our number one story tonight, sex. Not how people get it or how people have it, but why people do it. Apparently it is not just biology or chemistry. There are 237 other reasons involved. Psychologists at the University of Texas asked 400 people to list the various reasons they have ever had sex. Then using that list, they asked 2,000 more people which reasons applied to them. The top reason for both sexes, I was attracted to the person.

For women, being in love ranked high, reason number nine. For men it was number 17. For men, a desirable body was reason number 16. For women, it was number 34. Some reasons are pretty disturbing. I wanted to punish myself. That must have been fun. Option 30 on the survey, I was married and you're supposed to. Some were pretty practical, number 131, it seemed like good exercise. Number 147, I wanted to keep warm.

Some were pretty basic; I wanted to have a child and I had not had sex for a long time. For more sex, we turn to Michael Musto, columnist for the "Village Voice," and author of "La Dolce Musto." Michael, thanks for joining us.


OLBERMANN: Some of these reasons on this list; I wanted to feel closer to god, or because of a bet. Number 176 is I wanted to burn calories. And number 160 was I wanted to change the topic of conversation. Are these for real?

MUSTO: I thought you said because I am a vet. These sound OK, except for the changing topic one. Women generally change topics with these lips. Also, the god one - the god one - news flash people, god is in children and flowers and the morning dew. He is not way up a vagina. OK? Look elsewhere.

OLBERMANN: It does not seem too surprising that women would cite emotional reasons more than men. That's the cliche about humans. Or that men would cite attraction more. That's the other cliche about humans. But are you surprised that sleeping with someone for money, for a job, for increased social status wasn't more prevalent than the study suggests?

MUSTO: Yes, because the most popular reason I know is I wanted a gift. OK? They obviously did not poll any whores in this poll. I don't just mean people that work the highway like Lindsay Lohan. I mean, people I know. I mean, generally, for any sensible person, sex equals opportunity. Even a guy will fake an orgasm to get chocolate on the pillow.

OLBERMANN: Both sexes repeatedly in this study cited, quote, it just happened. So it is like a car accident or a toilet backing up? What does that tell us about our society?

MUSTO: I'm going to have a seizure from rolling my eyes. It just happens if you go to a bar, dart your tongue, spread your legs and get somebody blotto enough to trail you home. Sex is not an accident or a tsunami Keith. It is more like an over priced Carnival cruises that you book for two years and you get stuck on and you leave holding your stomach.

OLBERMANN: All right, we don't have this part of it. I thought maybe we could improvise some in this study here from UT. People that we assume have had sex, thanks to either offspring or video evidence, can you figure out what their reasoning might have been? A, Britney Spears and Kevin Federline?

MUSTO: That was like an intellectual exercise; can you feel when something small goes into something big?

OLBERMANN: B, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee?

MUSTO: He was thinking I need to get an STD so I will have ammo in the custody battle. She wanted the chocolate on the pillow.

OLBERMANN: C, Paris Hilton and Rick Solomon?

MUSTO: They were both thinking, our only chance to ever be in a movie. She could not foresee "Repo, the Genetic Opera" in her future.

OLBERMANN: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

MUSTO: He was thinking, all right, she is not Jennifer. And she was thinking, he's not Jennifer, but I will do him anyway.

OLBERMANN: Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise?

MUSTO: That hasn't happened yet. I have no idea. No, kidding. It was pure, primal animal lust. Not since Ethel Merman and Ernest Borgnine has reason flown to the window with such force.

OLBERMANN: I think actually number 30 was the correct answer there; I was married and you are supposed to. That might have been it. Or it seemed like good exercises. Lastly in this, back to this really extraordinary study. Are there reasons that you did not see on this list that you would expect to have scored fairly high on the list?

MUST: There were three that were very popular that were not included. Phil Specter made me go down on his loaded weapon. Kobe Bryant strongly advised me do it. And Michael Jackson served me Jesus Juice and a blank check.

OLBERMANN: Well, there it is. We have a complete set. Everybody that could possibly be offended has been offended. And the lawsuits will be coming in. That is reason number 182, I was threatened with legal action. The inestimable Michael Musto of the "Village Voice" -

MUSTO: Cigarette?

OLBERMANN: As always, Michael, thanks for your time. OK, that is Countdown for this the 1,553rd day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. That was some segue tonight at the end. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.


Monday, July 30, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for July 30

Guests: James Moore, Cenk Uygur, Yeardley Smith


KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Gonzo-gate, the walls close in on the attorney general. By Friday, correct his testimony to the Senate or face a perjury inquiry. By midweek, figure out how to forestall the congressman who just moved his impeachment. And by yesterday, find a Republican, any Republican, who will go on FOX "Noise" just to defend him.


CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": We invited White House officials and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to defend Attorney General Gonzales. We had no takers.


OLBERMANN: There are takers in Iraq. The parliament takes the month vacation. The new British prime minister tries to tell the president how he will be taking his troops home. And seemingly everybody takes a percentage off the top. Fraud called the "second insurgency" there.

Speaking of frauds, at the witching hour for the Murdoch bid to engulf and devour The Wall Street Journal, what to do about a channel whose news seems to be 50 percent opinion and 50 percent sleaze?


BILL O'REILLY, HOST, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": Do you have clothes on? I mean, is it two women together? It's not a negligee situation or anything like that?


OLBERMANN: From one of our guests, a modest proposal on how to handle the most immodest of channels.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, Ingmar Bergman is dead, and Tom Snyder, and football's Bill Walsh, and another man just as good as any of them who you probably don't know.

And the little yellow people meet the big screen. "The Simpsons Movie." Yeardley Smith, who plays Lisa, joins us.


YEARDLEY SMITH, "LISA SIMPSON": Dad, do something!

DAN CASTELLANETA, "HOMER SIMPSON": This book doesn't have any answers!


OLBERMANN: Except to this question, which a film made $72 million this weekend? All that and more now on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Good evening. "I am a big fan of Al's," those are the words of Dick Cheney to CBS Radio this afternoon. Our fifth story on the Countdown. He was not talking about Gore or Franken. The vice president and the president, at this hour, anyway, the only people left in the White House, perhaps even in Washington who are willing to defend Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in public.

And the president isn't even talking about it in public. Steadfastly ignoring the clamor for an investigation or even impeachment of the AG. In the House, Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee is sponsoring a resolution to the Judiciary Committee to commence impeachment proceedings posthaste.

Republican Congressman Chris Shays of Connecticut saying the attorney general would "do us all a favor if he stepped down."

And in the Senate, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee there, Arlen Specter, says he was waiting at least until he heard from the White House today to see if Mr. Gonzales lied to Congress. He says the White House will issue a letter by noon tomorrow addressing the discrepancies.

The chairman of that committee, Senator Leahy, giving Gonzales until Friday to clear up discrepancies, inconsistencies in his report, but stopping short of supporting a perjury investigation if he does not correct his testimony.

Four other Democrats on that committee, though, have already asked the solicitor general for such an inquiry into that testimony. A called echoed in and amplified by a New York Times editorial this weekend. Quoting:

"Solicitor General Paul Clement has a last chance to show that the Justice Department is still minimally functional by fulfilling that request. If that does happen," The Times writes, "Congress should impeach Mr. Gonzales."

Any supporters of the attorney general, excluding his boss and his boss' boss, are apparently invisible. Even FOX "Noise" could not find anyone to say anything good about him this weekend.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER: Both the president and the

country are better served if the attorney general is seen as a figure of

probity and a figure of integrity and a figure of competence. And sadly,

the current attorney general is not seen as any of those things. And I

think that it is a liability for the president, but more importantly, it is

a liability for the United States of America

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: The attorney general, in my view, has at least lied to Congress and may have committed perjury.

WALLACE: We invited White House officials and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to defend Attorney General Gonzales. We had no takers.


OLBERMANN: Did you call Brit Hume? Cue the crickets. I'm joined now by our own Jonathan Alter, senior editor for Newsweek magazine.

Great thanks for your time tonight, Jon.


OLBERMANN: When even "FOX News Sunday" can't get someone to defend this man, even from the White House, is it not official that he is so many more times a liability than he is worth to this administration no matter how good a friend he has been to the president in their many incarnations together?

ALTER: Yes, Gonzo is gone-zo. It is just a matter of time. It could be this week. If it takes longer, it could go to impeachment. Because unlike impeaching the president or vice president, which is kind of a nonstarter on Capitol Hill, there is considerable support for impeaching Gonzales if there isn't a formal investigation by the Justice Department.

They only need a majority vote to impeach him on the House side. I do not think it will come to that. I think he will be forced to resign before that. You may recall that Dick Cheney's endorsement of Don Rumsfeld.


ALTER: . did not do Rumsfeld any good. And he was gone when it became enough of a liability. Although it took an awful long time. And the same will happen eventually for Gonzales.

OLBERMANN: Would this explain Senator Leahy's treading carefully around the question of the perjury investigation given that four of his fellow Democrats have already asked the solicitor general for that kind of investigation, given this introduction of a House resolution for impeachment if there is no revision or response by Gonzales by Friday?

Do You think Leahy has some sense that the goose is cooked here and why go after it with more weaponry than is needed?

ALTER: That may well be, and they are also waiting for this kind of last chance explanation. Gonzales's people leaked to The New York Times that he was talking about a different kind of surveillance program, a data mining program, and therefore, had not technically lied to the Congress, even though the head of the FBI, Bob Mueller, made it pretty clear that he had.

So he has got sort of one more chance to prove that he did not lie. The problem is they have got another star witness, a former Justice Department official now at Harvard named Jack Goldsmith who has been invited to testify. And he clearly believes that there was serious disagreement about the Terrorist Surveillance Program.

That is the perjury question, Keith. Attorney General Gonzales said there was no disagreement within the Justice Department and there are a lot of people who will tell you that there was much disagreement and that the attorney general was not being truthful before Congress. And I think eventually he will pay the consequences for that.

OLBERMANN: Do you think we are this point? I just implied this with my last question specifically regarding Leahy, but could there be one of the proverbial backroom deal going on here to make sure that there is no actual perjury investigation, that's there is none of this bizarre, almost dirty feel to an investigation by the Department of Justice of the guy running the Department of Justice just to get him out of the way?

And if there is anything like that going on, is the last line of defense here the president?

ALTER: Well, it is a pretty good bet if the White House did not send anybody out to defend him to FOX News over the weekend that, you know, he is down to his last few bullets. And I think the next 48 hours will tell.

But it may well be, as you say, that there has been some kind of deal cooked up. Although there are not a lot of relationships between the Democrats on the Hill and the White House now. They don't trust each other. So it may be that this plays out in public. And if his explanation is not good enough by the end of the week, then he will be gone.

OLBERMANN: But if you wait any longer than that, you have the recess coming up and the replacement, a new AG could come in at during the time that Congress is not in Washington, correct?

ALTER: That might be something that the White House favors. So you could see that play out that way. But if the recess comes and goes and there has not been a change and they play for more time with the recess, when they do come back, then you'll see a lot more talk about impeachment.

OLBERMANN: Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, as always, great thanks for your time.

ALTER: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: The problem Gonzales faces is not isolated to any one statement. It is a growing pattern, a pattern that may have its roots in his resume in Texas. He served as a state supreme court judge, secretary of state, general counsel to the governor. Since then he has served as White House Counsel, now of course, U.S. attorney general.

In his five appointments to public positions, spanning over a decade, he has never been chosen by anyone other than George W. Bush. Pulling himself up by Mr. Bush's bootstraps, he has helped conceal Mr. Bush's illegal wiretapping, torture, abuses of the Patriot Act, U.S. attorney firings, and even his drunk driving conviction, which would have come out in 1996 had Mr. Gonzales not gotten Mr. Bush out of jury duty.

Let's turn now to Jim Moore, co-author of "Bush's Brain," contributor huffingtonpost.com, who has covered the Bush-Gonzales tandem acts since before they took it on the road.

Jim, great thanks for your time tonight.

JAMES MOORE, CO-AUTHOR, "BUSH'S BRAIN": Hi, Keith. Good to be with you.

OLBERMANN: If we stipulate that Karl Rove is Mr. Bush's brain, can we assign a physical organ or mental faculty to Mr. Gonzales?

MOORE: I don't know. Maybe he is his bipolar buddy or his pathological pal, I'm not sure. He certainly exhibits a certain amount of pathology when interacting with reality. But you know, Keith, the perfect example of this relationship I think is the attorney purge scandal.

That was hatched by Rove, taken to the president, the president said, yes, let's do it. And Rove took it to the attorney general and the attorney general executed it. He did not ask questions. He would not have thought about the implications. He would have only thought about what the president wanted. And that is how he got into this mess.

OLBERMANN: The defense best offered of Mr. Gonzales seems to be that he simply lacks imagination. That is the polite way of putting it, or brain power, that's the impolite way of putting it. Is he capable about outwitting Congress, or has he met his match here?

MOORE: No. He can't outwit anybody. I think - it is amazing to me that people actually think that this man is smart. If the administration of George W. Bush has proved anything, it is that you can go to a top flight East Coast school and get an advanced degree and not be a very bright person.

And this is his case. He dissembles in a way that he hopes will cover up something that he said before. But he can't really remember what he said before. This is not the brightest guy.

OLBERMANN: What limits, if any, have we seen Mr. Gonzales put on his protection of Mr. Bush on this bipolar reference that you have made here? This - have we seen him say, this far and no further?

MOORE: No. I have never encountered that. I've never seen it here in Texas, the kinds of things that he was willing to do in the very notorious incident of going before a judge which he then claimed he didn't have the meeting, even though the judge and the lawyer present in the meeting here in Texas said that he came in and asked the governor be recused from jury duty because he might be asked to pardon that person.

And then Gonzales said it didn't happen. This is the kind of thing that happened here and is happening in Washington. It has been happening throughout the course of tenure with this administration.

OLBERMANN: All right. Let's spin it to today. Does their past shed any light on how this plays out from here? Would the president actually can him? Would he fall on his sword? How do they play this out? Is it one of those things where if Mr. Bush said to Mr. Gonzales, time for you to go, he would go - he would just snap a salute and get out?

MOORE: I'll tell you, Keith, it was interesting. I think it's a precarious business. I heard Jonathan Alter predicting the demise of Mr. Gonzales here in the next week or so. I don't really see that happening unless there is a calculus where Rove says to the president, we've got to cut him loose.

Remember that Donald Rumsfeld a lot longer than anybody thought he would be. And he did not have the history that Mr. Gonzales has with the president. And remember also there might not even be a Bush administration if Al Gonzales hadn't made that deal here to keep him off jury duty. It would have exposed a part of his past that would've been dissected by the media to damage the president before he got to be president.

OLBERMANN: Wow. How would you like to wake up every morning thinking of that? If it weren't for me, there would never have been a Bush administration. Jim Moore, the co-author of "Bush's Brain".

MOORE: I don't have that guilt.

OLBERMANN: Yes. And contributor to the Huffington Post. Great thanks, as always, Jim.

MOORE: You bet.

OLBERMANN: And more trouble for the Republican Party tonight. Veteran Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska is being raided by the IRS and the FBI. Both organizations currently searching his home in Girdwood, Alaska. The Justice Department has already been investigating a construction project that more than doubled the size of that house seven years ago.

The investigation centers around Veco, an oil equipment and services outfit, and whether it may have improperly paid for those renovations. Two top executives at Veco just pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska state legislators.

Senator Stevens this evening resorting to the same tactic the administration used for Scooter Libby, saying in statement: "I will continue my policy of not commenting on this investigation until it has concluded."

Another story still developing tonight, the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, spending the night in a hospital after suffering what a Supreme Court spokesman says was a benign seizure at his summer home in Maine.

Roberts, taken to the hospital conscious and alert and even talkative. He suffered minor scrapes falling as a result of what is called an idiopathic seizure, one with no known origin. A spokeswoman says a neurological scan turned up nothing of concern. The chief justice, now 52 years old, suffered a similar episode in 1993.

How could anything get worse in the continuing episode that is Iraq? How about if the last thing the politicians there did before taking a vacation was to criticize General Petraeus?

And Rupert Murdoch's bid to take over The Wall Street Journal, it may be on the skids, as might the name FOX News after an idea that is simple and simply genius.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: It might be a good time to update the president's now famous remark that he won't withdraw from Iraq even if the first lady and his dog Barney are the only ones left supporting him. It may be getting closer.

The fourth story on the Countdown, the dog days of summer and no sign of relief for the president or his policies. A get-acquainted meeting at Camp with Britain's new prime minister, Gordon Brown, failing to produce any commitment on the future of the remaining 5,500 British troops in Iraq, the last vestige of the president's coalition of the willing.

In Baghdad, the Iraqi parliament taking off for the summer recess after feuding among Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish factions failed to produce new laws that might have helped stabilize the country. A hasty retreat on a day when the U.S. military reported three more troop deaths.

The man now running the surge, General David Petraeus, denying reports of angry exchanges between himself and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki over the U.S. military having paid Sunni insurgents to attack al Qaeda militants.

And six weeks before General Petraeus is scheduled to brief Congress on the effectiveness of the surge, he said it again today, it could take two more years before the Iraqis can provide their own security.

We are joined now by Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for Newsweek magazine.

Richard, good evening.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC ANALYST: Good to be with you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: The meeting with the new British prime minister, Mr. Brown, how did that go? And will Gordon Brown be, let's put it kindly, less predictable on Iraq and his predecessor, Mr. Blair?

WOLFFE: Well, it has been a strange couple of months for Gordon Brown. Everyone had predicted that he would actually be trying to break with President Bush, not least because of his own political problems back home.

In fact, what we have seen in the last couple of months is him performing very well with terrorist problems in Britain and also the flooding over there. And conservatives - the opposition conservatives are collapsing.

So I think the pressure was off Gordon Brown today and he delivered actually some pretty strong remarks aligning himself with President Bush. But I have to tell you, having talked recently to British officials, what they're really hoping for, the people around Gordon Brown - what they are dreaming of is Prime Minister Brown working closely with President Hillary Clinton. That is what they are really thinking about.

OLBERMANN: Turning to other political intrigues, there are reports that the Iraqi prime minister, Mr. Maliki, who is a Shiite, is demanding that President Bush replaced General Petraeus because he has been using Sunnis as mercenaries. The general's spokesman says Maliki has not complained directly to the president.

What are we hearing about Petraeus' policy and this reported feud?

WOLFFE: Well, it is very open. I mean, Maliki's aides are actually telling the Associated Press how much they hate Petraeus and his policy. And it does stem from these ethnic sectarian fault lines in Iraq. You know, Petraeus' strategy of arming the Sunni militia has worked against al Qaeda, but it is clearly alienating a prime minister who was put in place by Shia militia.

And this is the problem, no matter how much progress Petraeus makes, and there are signs of some progress out in western Iraq, the political will to overcome these divides is further away than ever. That is what this dispute really underscores.

OLBERMANN: There are too disturbing reports about the state of Iraq that do not really pertain directly to the violence. There is this from Oxfam that says that one-third of Iraqis, more than 8 million people are in urgent need of water, sanitation, food, shelter.

This other thing is from the Congressional study that says theft and fraud in Iraq is out of control and it has cost the U.S. billions of dollars. It describes corruption as a "second insurgency" in the war. As if we needed more problems to contemplate there.

WOLFFE: Right. Remember, that is a third, 8 million Iraqis lacking basic services after the United States has spent $20 billion on reconstruction there. And why hasn't it worked? Well, yes, there has been violence, but a lot of it has been because of corruption.

So these two things are linked here. And, to me, the - both reports really underscore that devastating report from Johns Hopkins just a year or two ago. More than 600,000 Iraqis have died since this conflict began. And these numbers, you are really looking at the destruction of a sort of nation state in Iraq.

OLBERMANN: I'll touch on this briefly later in the show, but in the context of what we are hearing from these two reports and everything that we are hearing about the military problems and everything we are hearing about the political problems, what happened at the Brookings Institution? Two analysts came back after a week there with glowing reviews of the impact of the surge?

WOLFFE: Well, it's curious. Michael O'Hanlon is a serious guy, a defense analyst. Ken Pollack has had a strange trajectory on this war. He authored a book, "The Gathering Storm" which the administration flacked around as a - in the run-up to the war, as their best case for war, and has since been something of a critic.

Look, these guys are focusing on the defense situation and a lot of the advances that we were talking about just a moment ago with Petraeus have really come from the ground up. They pre-date the surge, they're to do with different politics in the Sunni tribes that have nothing to do with American politics.

What matters here is whether the Iraqis will get their act together, and at the political level, it does not look like it.

OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of Newsweek and MSNBC. As always, great thanks.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: And a day of sad losses in four aspects of American culture, we will remember them all, especially the late Tom Snyder.

And our mad rush towards the cliff continues on unabated, led by tonight's "Worst Person" finalists, including comedian Rush Limbaugh, when Countdown continues.


OLBERMANN: If you think of terrorism or attacks here as recent inventions, 91 years ago tonight German saboteurs got to a storage facility in Black Tom Island, New Jersey, near the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. They lit it ablaze. As much as 2 million pounds of ammunition awaiting shipment to the Allies in Europe for the First World War detonated.

The explosion blew out doorways in Times Square and broke windows within a 25-mile radius. It sent shrapnel flying for a mile and was felt as far away as Philadelphia. Immigrants being processed at Ellis Island had to be evacuated and as many as seven people were killed.

On that cautionary note let's play "Oddball." We begin in Hamburg, in Germany it is the Splash Diving World Cup, which is fancy talk for world cannonball championships. The idea is to place the largest amount of water with an intentionally bad dive. Most competitors chose the traditional 10-meter board, but the real ballers jumped from the 30-meter crane.

Je ne regrette rien!

This Australian guy survived the 90-foot plunge unharmed and afterward displayed true class by paying a compliment to his German hosts.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pain tolerance of the Germans, they don't feel nothing in their asses, you know what I'm saying?


OLBERMANN: The prime minister, everybody. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.

Staying in Europe, to the Netherlands where they're really excited about balloons, really excited about balloons. This is the Hot Air Condom Balloon in this oversized - well, some say it's oversized, 127-foot tall model is the work of public health officials who are hoping to call attention to the country can's STD problem.

Organizers want to submit the big jimmy to the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest condom in the world after which it will donate it to Britain's pagan god of fertility, the Cerne Abbas Giant.

If it isn't news and it isn't going away, what to do with FOX "Noise," and the non-evil part of FOX, it makes money, too. Lisa, actress Yeardley Smith joins us after the big boffo opening of the weekend of "The Simpsons Movie."

Details ahead, but first, Countdown's top three newsmakers of this day. Number three, Mitt Romney. The Republican presidential hopeful has already tied the current commander-in-chief as an Internet Luddite, explaining: "YouTube is a Web site that allows kids to network with one another and make friends and exact each other. YouTube looked to see if they had any convicted sex offenders on their Web site. They had 29,000."

No, that would be MySpace. YouTube is where they have the collection of 29,000 gaffes by Mitt Romney.

Number two, Don Frick who has experienced anecdotally impossible number two. Mr. Frick of Hamlin, Pennsylvania, was hit by lightning on July 27th, 1980, and he was hit by lightning a second time, last Friday, July 27th, 2007. Not a problem this time. A burned zipper and hole in the back of his jeans.

And number one, Olive Beal in the town of Deal in Kent in England, she has been told she will have to wait 18 months to get a new improved digital hearing aid. The delay would be annoying for anybody, but for her it's a particular issue since Ms. Beal is 108 years old.

It's the thought that counts!


OLBERMANN: It was like most great revelations unintentional when Ann Coulter suggested that the Democrats' most recent debate should be bought and played relentlessly during the general election, since it was filled with quote, "liberal conspiracy theories that would frighten normal Americans," unquote. But Coultergeist said that "Fox News" should buy it, perhaps inadvertently underscoring the obvious that fixed noise is more akin to an arm of the Republican Party, turning out Republican talking points. Our third story in the Countdown, how to call an opinion network an opinion network. This as word comes that is the Monday 5:00 p.m. deadline for Dow Jones shareholders to indicate whether they wanted to sell to "Fox's" mandarin Rupert Murdoch, that would be "The Wall Street Journal." He is apparently not going to get it. Murdoch still getting only about 28 percent support from the current shareholders among the Bancroft family, that would not be enough support for him to take over the venerable business paper. So one nightmare averted but how to roll back the other. Joining me now the man who has the answer, Cenk Uygur, whose program on "Air America" is called "The Young Turks." Thanks for your time tonight sir?


OLBERMANN: How do we recognize that it isn't "Fox News," it's "Fox Opinion." Go to it.

UYGUR: Well I think it's really simple. The whole country realizes it. If you ask anybody in the street is "Fox News Channel" conservative, they say, of course! Of course it's conservative. The only people who don't recognize it unfortunately is the mainstream media and they're making a big mistake by letting that Trojan horse roll in and pretend that they're a journalistic organization and that they do real reporting. Because then "Fox" turns around and says, hey, listen, see, you can't trust the news because there is a lot of fake stuff in the news, they stuff that they planted when they rolled the Trojan horse in.

OLBERMANN: What has it practically done, then? How do we label them "Fox Opinion?"

UYGUR: Well I think that one of the ways that we do it is by doing it at the convention level, whether it's the Democratic convention, even the Republican convention, but since they work together, that's not likely to happen. But actually more important, at media conventions and television conventions, etc. It's important for the industry, for journalism itself and for television news itself to say hey, whose opinion and who is doing actual objective news.

OLBERMANN: So what happened? Do you think "Fox" is going to endorse this idea or doesn't it matter? If it doesn't object it's essentially agreeing it's an opinion outfit and not a news outfit but if it resists, is that useful from your point of view as well?

UYGUR: Absolutely because you know what, Keith, what we need is a debate in this country and an understanding of what "Fox" is. Because here they are, they come in, in the 2000 election and they hired Bush's cousin to call the election for Bush, and the thing is they drive the rest of the media, unfortunately, "CNN" and sometimes even MSNBC and certainly all the networks treat them as if they're a real news organization. We should finally have a debate as to whether that's true or not true so that we at least know what we're getting here. I mean, we need a truth in advertising. If you're selling tuna and I want tuna, great. But if you say you're selling tuna and you sell me baloney, I might like baloney but that's not what I bought.

OLBERMANN: Yeah, even orange juice in this country has to have a certain percentage both of juice and orange in it. But what about blowback here? Does somebody then say, well, ok, let's make NBC opinion media, let's make "The New York Times" opinion media, let's make the "Associated Press" opinion media. Don't we have an opinion media war break out if we go ahead this way?

UYGUR: Well I think it's positive for journalism and for reporting in general to figure out where the lines are, ok. Because right now in essence that's what FOX does to the rest of the media anyway. They say, hey, listen, you know what, oh see, we're opinionated, we're conservative and they're liberal, let's call it even. But they're not liberal. We're -

I'm at "Air America," we're liberal, ok. And we're opinion media and we're at least telling it like it is. We're not trying to deceive our audience like "Fox News Channel" is. And the rest of the objective journalism has to make that delineation and if they don't the Trojan horse campaign works, basically, "Fox" says, hey, you know, who brings you the facts, the news does, the media does, professors do, scientists do, don't believe any of the facts, instead believe our propaganda. And real journalists, it is their lifeline for that campaign to not work.

OLBERMANN: That's right, there's always two points of view. This guy over here believes in gravity and this other guy doesn't. We'll let you decide at home. Cenk Uygur of "Air America's The Young Turks," thanks for your time tonight Cenk.

UYGUR: Thank you Keith.

OLBERMANN: Much to reflect upon tonight. Passings in sports and in movies. Very simply, probably the greatest filmmaker of all time has died. And maybe the most versatile newsman of all time as well. One final colortini raised to the memory of the chief when Countdown continues.


OLBERMANN: If you love movies, watch television news, like football or baseball, this has been a day of loss. We'll look back on the lives of four exceptional people. And Phil O. does not make the list, so it's up to Brit Hume to defend "Fox's" dishonor in the worst person finals against comedian Rush Limbaugh. That's next, this is Countdown.


OLBERMANN: It's hard to recall a day when so many different and disparate aspects of American culture were simultaneously touched by sadness, from sports to television news to film. Our number two story on the Countdown, ask not for whom the bell tolls, the loss tonight of Tom Snyder, Bill Walsh, Bill Robinson and Ingmar Bergman. The image that first comes to us from his work is of a knight playing chess versus death. It was in the "Seventh Seal" in 1957, the film that launched Bergman to international fame and indelible places, a director who could somehow take subjects as serious as madness. The black plague, death, infidelity, and bring to them not just insight and original perspective, but even humor and entertainment and life. There were at least 62 Bergman films, tapestries of light and shadow, inexplicably only 1982's "Fanny and Alexander" was even nominated as best foreign film for the Oscars. Ingmar Bergman inspired filmmakers as diverse as Richard Attenborough and Woody Allen. He died at his home on an island off the Swedish coast at the age of 89. He had never fully recovered from hip surgery last fall.

Meanwhile, probably nobody ever enjoyed being on television more than did Tom Snyder. This was a newsman with more skills and more interests than his era probably permitted. By turns credible and serious and silly and self-deprecating, Snyder won journalistic acclimation, TV awards and ratings races as a local newscaster in Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York in the 60's and 70's. He was never offered a national newscast except on the weekends. Largely because of his success with an experimental late night program on NBC called "Tomorrow." Tom Snyder was willing to interview not just politicians and stodgy public figures but conspiracy theorists and crackpots and Charles Manson and Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols and the singer Meatloaf to whom to his eternal embarrassment and not so secret guilty pleasure, he once referred for 10 minutes as meatball. His trademarks, the smoking black eyebrows, the confidential lean-in towards the guest, the cigarette, the defying laugh were parodied by Dan Aykroyd on "Saturday Night Live" and that brought him more viewers still and fewer network news assignments.

"Tomorrow" was canceled in 1982 to make room for "David Letterman." Snyder continued to do local news in New York and L.A. and had a successful talk show on CNBC. And in an ironic twist returned to network TV in 1995 when "Letterman" selected him to host the show following his own on CBS. It was there that we found out we were fans of one another and then did a few of the goofiest interviews ever, some on his show, some on mine.


OLBERMANN: Think of all the kids who watched the "Tomorrow" show when they were 14 like Brian Williams and myself and said maybe I can do this.

TOM SNYDER: Exactly right. And you know what's flattering to me is there are a lot of kids who watch now and like the other night we were talking - what the hell were we talking about the other night?

OLBERMANN: Skip it because I'm out of time.

SNYDER: I understand but as I said, half the crowd watching doesn't even know what that is but can I give you a fast story before I go?

OLBERMANN: Yeah, go ahead.

SNYDER: You're out of time.

OLBERMANN: Thanks for coming on the show, Tom.

SNYDER: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Thank you, Tom, and thank you not only for having me here but also for the inspiration you provided in my career.

SNYDER: Oh stop it.

OLBERMANN: I'm absolutely seriously. Because, bottom line, when I was growing up with these eyebrows I knew that there was a future for me in broadcasting. But seriously, thank you, Tom. It's been a pleasure watching you all these years.

SNYDER: All right, thanks Keith. Have a great weekend and thanks again for joining us.


OLBERMANN: Tom Snyder retired from television when the CBS program was canceled in 1998 and he stayed that way, maybe the only broadcaster of his stature to stick to such an exit. Two years ago he revealed he had what was believed to be a treatable form of leukemia. He succumbed to it yesterday at the age of 71. Nobody enjoyed television more than Tom Snyder except perhaps those of us who were fortunate enough to get to watch him do it.

One of the great innovators of football has also succumbed after a long struggle with leukemia. Bill Walsh, winner of three super bowls in just 10 years as coach of the San Francisco 49ers. His was the west coast offense, a short intricately timed passing game which he perfected at Stanford and which he used to transform a 49ers team that had lost 14-16 games the year before he joined them. A rookie coach at the age of 47. He turned them into the champions just three years later behind the quarterbacking of Joe Montana. His insight into offense was such that he could literally script the first four or 15 or 25 plays of a game, write them out beforehand. Eight of his former assistant coaches became NFL head coaches, already eight of their assistants have also become NFL head coaches. And Bill Walsh went to the pro football hall of fame. He was 75 years old.

And as Shakespeare wrote, when sorrows come, they come not as single spies but in battalions. Baseball is mourning one of its beloved individuals aptly described today as a friend to everyone he met. Bill Robinson who was the minor league hitting coordinator of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been found dead in his hotel room in Las Vegas where he was to coach Dodger prospects. No cause of death has yet been revealed. 40 years ago Bill Robinson himself had been one of the minor league's top hitting prospects. Dealt to the Yankees he was merely asked to replace Roger Maris who had only broken Babe Ruth's home run record. Robinson hit 196 and went back to the minor leagues. There he taught himself how to hit again and resurfaced for 13 more seasons during which he twice hit better than .300 and helped the Pittsburgh Pirates to the 1979 world championship. He got two more rings as a batting coach with the 1986 New York Mets and the 2003 Florida Marlins. In between he was an analyst at ESPN and a minor league manager who once invited a friend, me, to sit alongside him as a coach during a minor league game. He then got his entire team and the home plate umpire to pull a classic practical joke by getting me ejected by that ump from my only game in uniform. Bill Robinson saw me off that night with a big hug goodbye just as he did every time he saw me again later. He was just 64 years old.

And we move on with some much-needed comic relief and our congratulations to our guest upcoming, Yardley Smith, the voice of Lisa as "The Simpson's" masters of TV now conquer the big screen. That's ahead but first time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for worst person in the world. The bronze tonight, to analyst Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, he's back from his tour of Iraq, telling anyone who will listen that the war "is going brilliantly at this point." Fair enough his viewpoint, his analysis. But he's being billed as he does this as a constant and consistent critic of the Bush administration's handling of Iraq, which is odd considering that on October 5, 2003 O'Hanlon wrote a piece for "The San Diego Union Tribune" in which he claimed the U.S. led mission in Iraq is still quite likely to succeed over a time period of roughly three to five years. The lack of any unifying ideology for the resistance there makes it unlikely we will face a snowballing mass insurgency.

Who do you like for the super bowl this year, the Boston yanks or the Cleveland rams? Runner-up, comedian Rush Limbaugh. The guy spends a large percentage of his humorous monologue radio show every day dismissing the concept of global warming and mocking Al Gore and pounding anybody who says we need to take steps to reduce carbon emissions. So what commercial does he not only run but read himself on the radio? The personalized Limbaugh testimonial in which General Motors tries to convince us that their SUVs are not killing us all. The comedian actually says, gee, I'm as committed to helping the environment and they're committed to advancing alternative fuels including one whose, quote, only emission is water vapor. So you don't believe in global warming and anybody who does is a fool but you'll read a commercial using global warming as a marketing tool? That would make you a - what's the word? Prostitute.

But our winner, Brit Hume, of fixed noise, drinking the Bush-Giuliani Kool-aid again, claiming yesterday that Democrats quote, think the war on terror is some kind of political scam which the administration is using to underline civil liberties and expand the power of the executive branch of the government. They do not treat it particularly seriously. No, Democrats take the terror threat particularly seriously, far more seriously in fact than the Republicans do which is why Democrats are furious that the White House has turned its war on terror into some kind of a political scam which the administration is using to undermine civil liberties and expand the power of the executive branch and to rationalize this self-defeating war in Iraq and to make themselves money and to get themselves and other Republicans elected by unnecessarily terrifying the public through the amoral and corrupt water carrying of acts like Brit Hume. Today's "worst person in the world."


OLBERMANN: The studio expected it to make $45 million over opening weekend, instead it made nearly $72 million in North America alone, $168 million worldwide. Our number one story on the Countdown, "The Simpson's The Movie." A warning if you have not yet seen the movie, there are a few light spoilers ahead. It is in essence a story of Homer Simpson's redemption after he nearly destroys his friends and family and his hometown of Springfield. Eventually he finds himself and his family in Alaska, where he alienates them by refusing to help save the town. Homer eventually saves the day and fortunately for fans, there are plenty of quality Simpson gags along the way.


OLBERMANN: It's a pleasure now to be joined by the woman behind Lisa Simpson or at least behind her voice, Yeardley Smith. Great, thanks for your time tonight.

YEARDLEY SMITH, VOICE OF LISA SIMPSON: Thanks Keith, thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN: As somebody with a vested interest in this, what do you think of the film, what do you think of that measure of popularity, the worldwide earnings figure of $168 million?

SMITH: You know, it has so exceeded all of our expectations. I think when you have been on the air for 20 years, at least I can speak for myself, I wondered a little bit if perhaps we had stayed a little too long at the party and maybe people would be just going oh god, you know the movie should have come out 10 years ago. But it's enormously gratifying that people are enjoying it as much as we hoped they would.

OLBERMANN: You guys have a high standard on this. I have this tremendous honor and thrill and just joy of getting to attend week before last, one of your table reads where all the actors read the script aloud together for the first time. First of all, thanks for your hospitality. Thanks for not shooting me when my cell phone went off and I couldn't figure out how to make it stop. But secondly, I saw something I think a fan would be delighted to know. An average fan would just love to know this, that you and Dan Castalaneda and Julie Kavner and our friend Harry Shear and everybody else, were all laughing at each other's lines and jokes. Isn't it amazing that as an example Dan could be on what, his 20 thousandth duh and it still breaks up the room when he does it?

SMITH: Yes, yes, you know that stuff, it never gets old. We did a record today of the episode that you came to a reading of and there is a lot of stuff between Krusty and Lisa and there were a lot of retakes because there was so much laughter in the room. And it's interesting and we don't socialize together as a cast outside of work but there is so much respect for what each person brings their characters, that it's a great joy. What a fantastic job.

OLBERMANN: I also saw in there this enormous amount of pride by everybody involved, not just the performers, regarding the continuing quality of what you're all doing. You talk about the length of the film, the timing of the film. Were you concerned that the film would live up to your expectations for what you were doing in the series?

SMITH: Yes of course. I think that there was so much expectation put on this film that in a way I wondered if we could live up to even half of it. And I - I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised. I mean it's very hard to tell when you're on the inside of something whether or not it's what people who watch it at like the - like the average fan if it fulfills their expectations as well because we come to it from such a different angle. I really loved it and I didn't know whether or not that was just because I love my character, I love Springfield, the job has given me so much opportunity or whether or not that would actually translate in the wide world. And it seems to have.

OLBERMANN: Where does the film translate do you think? I mean in this film, The Simpson's are basically asked to breathe new life into Springfield. Is it possible that the movie could have the same affect on the series, could you guys get more popular some how?

SMITH: You know I think it means that the series will continue at least one more year. It's always a toss up. Like if the actor's contract is up in November and we haven't been picked up for a season 20, but now I think that's probably pretty likely. In a way I feel as though this is perhaps the second volume of The Simpson's, if the first 18 years were everything that's come before, now it's a movie, yes, I do think it's injected the series with new life and perhaps will go on a bit longer than any one thought we might. Although people keep asking me how long do you think it will go and I've answered that question wrong so many times and I'm done answering.

OLBERMANN: By the way, has somebody over there ever said no we're not picking it up and you guys want to continue it. I can give you like a whole list of people to call at NBC who'll get right back to you on that point.

SMITH: Thank you Keith.

OLBERMANN: I'm happy to do it, no charge as a fan. Last question, one movie after 18 years. Is there going to be another one?

SMITH: Yes there will and hopefully it won't take 18 years. In fact I can pretty much guarantee it won't take 18 years.

OLBERMANN: Do you know more than you're letting on here?

SMITH: No I don't. No, really, I know nothing. I know absolutely nothing. Common sense dictates that it won't take 18 years.

OLBERMANN: Anything that made $168 million in the first weekend, it doesn't take 18 years. Yeardley Smith.

SMITH: Yes, hello.

OLBERMANN: The voice of Lisa Simpson. Congrats on the movie, thanks for joining us tonight.

SMITH: Thank you so much for having me.

OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this the 1552 day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.


Friday, July 27, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for July 27

Guests: J.K. Rowling, Michael Musto

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

I've got a secret. That secret, the reason the attorney general was not contradicted by Negroponte memo? That's secret. The reason the attorney wasn't contradicted by FBI Director Mueller's testimony? That's secret. The reason the attorney was not fired by president for corruption and incompetence long ago? That's secret.


DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The president believes that Alberto Gonzales' credibility is intact?



OLBERMANN: The president also believes in Brownies and Elves.

What does a White House do when all its answers have become lies and all its lies have suddenly become punch lines? John Dean joins us.

The lies about the death of Pat Tillman. Congressional hearings next week. But what is really needed as evidence found that his death was not only covered up but that Army medical personnel thought the bullets came from 10 yards away and could easily have constituted murder.

Liftoff before liftoff. NASA confirms there is an independent report suggesting at least two astronauts were dangerously drunk just before fights or even before space missions. So Lindsay Lohan could star in a remake of "The Right Stuff"? Her passengers on drunk driving chase the assistant's mama night repeat what they claim she told them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't get in trouble, I'm a celebrity, I can do whatever the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I want.


OLBERMANN: And indeed, you can, and then the police take this nice souvenir photo of you that you can take home as a parting gift.

The parting gift from J.K. Rowling as she offers some inside baseball on an urgent question from the actor that gave life to her most famous creation.


J.K. ROWLING, CHILDREN'S AUTHOR: At one point he says, I've just got to ask you, do I die?


OLBERMANN: All that more and now on Countdown.

Good evening from New York. Tomorrow morning Vice President Cheney will undergo surgery to have the battery replaced on his heart defibrillator, which means that in an exact reversal of last week's colonscopy and invocation of the 25th Amendment, for a few hours at least, George W. Bush will actually get to be president.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, let's hope he uses his alone time wisely because today his administration was again reduced to try to transform clear reality into foggy myth with a dedication of language parsing that makes Bill Clinton look like a chronic generalizer. Not that you would have known anything wrong from Mr. Bush's schedule today devoted to an economic speech and handing out science medals. Perhaps he could have given Alberto Gonzales a blue ribbon for science fiction.

The fallout continues over the attorney general's sworn testimony to the Senate on Tuesday in which he evidently lied about a massive 2004 dispute between the White House and the Justice Department, a dispute of the legality of the domestic spying program brought to light by former deputy Attorney General James Comey.

Yesterday, FBI Director Robert Mueller only making things worse for Mr. Gonzales by contradicting the testimony of his boss in sworn testimony of his own. The White House, however, now trying to claim Mr. Muller did no such thing, hiding behind a veil of secrecy while arguing that there's a distinction between the "terrorist surveillance program" and the over intelligence activities that Mr. Gonzales claims Mr. Comey was objecting to.

Do the math their way and the testimony of the attorney general and the FBI did not contradict each other at all. Not only that, but Alberto Gonzales is a talented and an honest man.


GREGORY: Why does the president believe that the attorney general does not reflect badly on the Justice Department and on this White House with the way he has handled questions related to this and other matters?

SNOW: Well, again, because he has testified truthfully and tried to be very accurate. And what also happens is you've got an interesting situation when members of Congress know that somebody is constrained by matters of classification, they can ask very broad questions and those are questions that they know the person sitting on the other side cannot thoroughly in an open session.


OLBERMANN: Although, in this case, Mr. Gonzales volunteered his testimony about a White House meeting with congressional leaders regarding other intelligence activities that he says were the basis of the NSA dispute, a claim that many of those congressional leaders have since publicly disputed. Perhaps Mr. Snow would be better off sticking to one word answers.


GREGORY: So the president believes that Alberto Gonzales' credibility is intact?

SNOW: Yes.


OLBERMANN: On that note, let's turn to Richard Nixon's one time counsel, John Dean, more recently author of "Worse than Watergate" and "Conservatives with Conscience." John, good evening.


OLBERMANN: This White House has made a habit of leaking or of

declassifying secret intelligence findings, sometimes almost on the spot

when that has served its political agenda which raises the question in the

context of the Gonzales thing. If the administration really had

information that would clear the attorney general on this specific point,

do you think they would have declassified now? Would we have not heard it

by now?

DEAN: Well, that's a good point, Keith. Because what traditionally happens in situations like this would be an attorney general would invite the chairman and ranking member of the committee down to the Department of Justice. He would explain exactly what was going on in this situation. You would Mueller there. You would have Comey there and they would lay it out on an off-the-record private session to defuse this thing.

And it strikes me as either he is just going to tough it out and lie, or the truth - it may be so much worse than the reality that they don't even want the truth out.

OLBERMANN: Does even the generous interpretation of what Mr. Gonzales and the White House are trying to do here in the wake of his disastrous testimony insist on this dishonestly narrow definition of the terrorist surveillance program. From a legal standpoint, if we give them the benefit of all the doubts here, would that be enough to overcome a perjury rap?

DEAN: It wouldn't. Literal truth is actually a full defense even in a situation, the Supreme Court has ruled back in 1972 in a very celebrated case, that even with an intent to mislead by giving an evasive and hair splitting kind of answer, that wasn't, because it was a literally true could not be reached by the federal perjury statute. So if indeed that's what Gonzales is doing, if he is parsing it so finely, he may well get away with it.

OLBERMANN: Regarding the Tony Snow parsing of the Robert Mueller, Alberto Gonzales discrepancy which you'd think one could drive a truck through, on Hardball last night on MSNBC, the former Reagan justice official Bruce Fein said of Mr. Snow, let me quote it exactly, "He is Ron Ziegler during Watergate. And you all remember the equivocations that were made by Mr. Nixon that these are just concocted allegations and John Dean is lying, well, John Dean wasn't lying."

As John Dean, what do we do now? Should we wait this out? Will we require the services of a special prosecutor which it doesn't look like we are likely to get? In other words, how do we get from now to where Tony Snow might actually be recognized as this administration's Ron Ziegler.

DEAN: Well, let me preface first my answer by saying that Ziegler at one point did go very publicly and say that I indeed, I had not lied but rather it was the other way around, the president indeed was lying.

Tony Snow is doing a pretty good Ron Ziegler imitation. But I keep looking at it this way, Keith. Modern press secretaries really don't have a lot of inside information. In fact, the higher people and the staff often keep a press secretary out of the loop so that they can go out and do the sort thing that Ziegler did and Snow is doing now and I am always surprised knowing the press corps, for example with the clip you had earlier pressed Snow, and said do you really know what the testimony is and do you really know what happened?

And they don't do that, and I wish they would. That would probably be revelatory in itself.

OLBERMANN: As we proved in the example you cited of Mr. Ziegler, Mike McCurry with Mr. Clinton, both very honorable men who were deliberately kept out of the loop and perhaps Mr. Snow is in the same situation.

But one more nostalgia trip here that may be relevant. I went back recently and watched again that tremendous documentary series on Watergate that the BBC and The Discovery Channel did in the early '90s and I was thinking today after what Bruce Fein said about Ziegler and Snow, that a point that the series made was that the impact of public ridicule on hastening the disintegration of the Nixon administration. Do you think that we're at a point where public ridicule now has any role to play in the future of the Bush administration?

DEAN: I think it does. I think it always does with any presidency. It clearly did with the Nixon presidency. Nixon was very sensitive to it. Nixon really sort of became the national joke when he went out and said I'm not a crook. I'm not sure that Bush didn't do it when he put on a costume of a flight pilot and declared "Mission Accomplished."

But there's a difference in the men and that Nixon's sensitivity really drove him from office. I'm not sure Bush gets it, even yet.

OLBERMANN: Great point. John Dean, as always, great thanks for your time and have a good weekend, sir.

DEAN: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Another scandal was already due to ripen with congressional hearings next week. The friendly fire death of football star turned Army Ranger Corporal Pat Tillman. Then came the military records obtained by the Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act that military officials initially blocked investigators from probing whether Tillman's death was not friendly fire at all but perhaps murder.

The request or a murder investigation came from Army medical examiners suspicious about the tight grouping of three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead. All were within a two inch diameter suggesting that the M-16 that killed him was fired from perhaps just 30 feet away.

CID, the Army's Criminal Investigation Division refused to look into it. Only later did a criminal probe rule Tillman's death friendly fire. No evidence was found that anybody but Americans fired shots on that day, April 22nd, 2004, in Afghanistan. The Army new almost immediately that he had been killed by one of his own but it did not drop its story of enemy fire until five weeks later. A week after Tillman's death a top general had urged the head of Central Command to tell President Bush that Tillman might have been killed by friendly fire and two days later Mr. Bush referred to Tillman's death in a speech but avoided any mention of how he died. The White House is refusing to turn some of its internal records about Mr. Tillman, including Mr. Bush's draft versions of his speech.

Let's turn now to Jon Soltz, veteran of the Iraq War and chairman of votevets.org. Jon, thanks for your time tonight.

JON SOLTZ, VOTEVETS.ORG: Thanks for having me, sir.

OLBERMANN: First, as a combat Army veteran, what does it tell you when you hear, no enemy shots fire, three bullet holes, extraordinarily tight grouping to the forehead?

SOLTZ: It tells me the first investigation was a lie. It tells me the second investigation was a lie. He wasn't killed marching up a hill earning a Silver Star against the Afghan fighters. He wasn't killed by a Humvee and a squad automatic weapon from 150 meters away, waving his hands, that he was either killed through homicide or negligent homicide. And obviously the difference there, was it an accidental discharge of someone next to him. But this administration has their hands on a line and they need to come forward and tell the truth for our soldiers and for the family.

OLBERMANN: Corporal Tillman held a number of personal views that were unpopular within the context of the Bush administration, perhaps also within the Army. He reportedly favored John Kerry in that election that year. We know he opposed the invasion of Iraq. He thought it illegal. He had plans to meet with Noam Chomsky. The Associate Press told us in a report last night that during the firefight a fellow soldier was hugging the ground, crying out to God and Tillman said, let me quote this directly, "Would you shut your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) mouth, God is not going to help you. You need to do something for yourself. You sniveling -". And that's all the quote was.

Apparently at the last moment of his life. Explain how all of those details intensify the need for openness here that we are not getting now?

SOLTZ: Obviously, White House has its executive privilege. For some reason, they don't want to be honest to a family or to our country of a soldier that died at war. And we know he was against the war in Iraq. He signed up for Afghanistan. We know he was a freethinker.

But it leads you to think was this guy killed possibly by people who didn't like his political views or was he killed accidentally and we had a time in the war when we had the Abu Ghraib scandal that broke in April, 2004 in Iraq. We had basically the Iraqi Tet Offensive, as referred to it, when the Shia militias rose up and the contractors were burned at the stake and the president was facing reelection, he decided not to go into Fallujah for six months and did they use him to justify politically bad policy in Iraq and until they tell us the truth, they are not only hurting themselves and they are hurting the family and they are hurting the military.

This is the time for openness. If they use them for a political ploy, the president of the Untied States is disgraceful.

OLBERMANN: Jon, we know, speaking of the Tillman family, we now the results of their investigation conflicts to some degree with some of the findings that were cited in this Associated Press report last night but whatever the precise facts turn out to be, on the broader scale, what is the message sent to current troops and prospective recruits from the way this has been handled so far in the three years and few months since it happened?

SOLTZ: I think for the Army this is so important. I'll never forget where I was. I was in Germany, I open up the "Stars and Stripes" and I saw that an NFL football player, Pat Tillman was going to leave the NFL, leave the pop glory of our country and be one of us. It was just a tremendous honor.

I'll never forget where I was when I read - I was in a computer lab in graduate school and I read that Pat Tillman was killed. And he made people want to be a soldier. He made us feel great about ourselves and we rely on families and people who have family members to help enlist our troops into the military and when a recruiter walks into a home and they ask the mother and father to give their 18-year old to fight for our country, that mother and father is going to sit there and they are going to say, hey, can I trust that you guys are going to tell me how my son or daughter dies? It decimates our recruiting abilities and it's the fault of our president.

OLBERMANN: Jon Soltz veteran of the Iraq War, now chairman of votevets.org, as always, Jon, great thanks for your service and great thanks for your service here.

SOLTZ: Thanks so much.

OLBERMANN: Good night.

Astro drunks. Is this possible? NASA's response to the story of liquid launch.

And if you kill Hagrid, I will never forgive you. Who said that to J.K.

Rowling? You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: The stories are legend. Some of the original Mercury astronauts, men profiled by the writer Tom Wolfe, were notorious party animals. As concerned with the hard stuff as "The Right Stuff."

So far as we know, none of them ever blasted into orbit while they were actually blasted. In our fourth story on the Countdown, that's not the case recently, evidently, according to a startling a startling NASA look at the habits of some of today's space voyagers. Houston, we have a drinking problem.

Our correspondent at the Johnson Space Center is Don Teague.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . one. Booster ignition.

DON TEAGUE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The commission report cites to incidents where NASA astronauts were intoxicated at or near launch time. One involved a scrubbed space shuttle mission and a T-38 training jet. The other a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

COL. RICHARD BACHMAN, NASA HEALTH CARE COMMITTEE CHAIR: We have no way of knowing if these are the only two incidents that have occurred in the history of the astronaut corps or if they are the tip of a very large iceberg.

TEAGUE: NASA administrators said they also don't know when the incidents happened or who was involved because questioners didn't ask.

SHANA DALE, NASA DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR: Much of the information contained in this report is or comes from anecdotal material.

TEAGUE: Another surprise from NASA, until today, there was no policy forbidding alcohol before space flight. It's even allowed in crew quarters during quarantine but administrators assumed astronauts would follow the same 12-hour rule that applies to jets.

ELLEN OCHIDA, DIR., FLIGHT CREW OPERATIONS: Everybody in the office realized it applied to space flight as well and that that's the way that we've always treated it. But there was no actually documentation that said "space flight" on it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . dream about outer space.

TEAGUE: Even from the early years, NASA's astronauts have been portrayed as hard partying space cowboys but NBC's veteran space correspondent Jay Barbree says it's unthinkable that an astronaut today could fly drunk.

JAY BARBREE, NBC SPACE CORRESPONDENT: To be launched into, to be drunk into orbit, that's hard to buy.

TEAGUE: Still, the commission found that some astronauts did cross the line. Despite warnings from flight surgeon who say their concerns were ignored. For former flight surgeon John Clark whose astronaut wife died in the Columbia disaster, the news is troubling.

JOHN CLARK, FORMER NASA FLIGHT SURGEON: Am I surprised about alcohol use in astronauts? Not at all. Am I surprised that there were some very serious potential events, yes, I am.


TEAGUE (on camera): And aside from alcohol, there's another big problem NASA is trying to figure out today, it's sabotage. Federal agents spent much of today searching a Texas company that built a computer that's to be carried aboard the shuttle to the International Space Station next month. They are trying to figure out who deliberately disabled that computer.


OLBERMANN: Thank you, Don Teague at the Johnson Space Center.

How do you market a movie when people have already known the characters for 18 years? The selling of "The Simpsons."

And thank you, come again, ample parking day and night next on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: On this date in 1916 was born future top character Keenan Wynn, unique among famous film fathers and sons he started first in the movies and then convinced his dad, comedian Ed Wynn to take up serious character roles when Ed was70. Keenan Wynn also played a character with one of the most memorable names in movie history, from "Dr. Strangelove," Colonel Bat Guano. But that was nothing compared to his full real life name. Frances Xavier Aloysius James Jeremiah Keenan Wynn.

Let's bay "Oddball."

We began in Frankfort, Kentucky and stories of drunk people plowing cars through store fronts are about a time a dozen these days. This crime scene tape is from an accident back in June. But what is unique about this one is newly released security footage. There's lots of it. Four different camera angles. Multiples. Every second of the car plowing through the store is on the tape. It's like the freaking Super Bowl here. Thankfully, besides bumps and bruises, nobody was actually hurt. The woman driving the war pleaded guilty to DUI charges and the store's surveillance video team has just been nominated for a Cable Ace Award. I know, they went out of business.

To Annapolis, Maryland where we have secretly placed this parrot on the soldier of deputy defense secretary, Gordon England. Oh boy is he going to be steamed when he sees this tape. Actually, he planted the bird there during a speech honoring the retirement of his friend Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Ed Giambastiani. Now, England had some place the parrot on the soldier and then briefly referenced the bird saying it was an inside joke between he and the admiral. Then just continued the speech wearing the bird. Arrgh, matey.

England didn't say what the joke was but we are sure it has something to do with the time they he and the admiral went to see that Johnny Depp movie together. "Donnie Brasco." Actually, England's office did explain the parrot joke but the details are much more lame than our joke about the joke so we won't bore you.

J.K. Rowling bids farewell to her characters and recalls the night he had to tell one of the actors whether or not she was really saying farewell to him.

Now the eyewitness account that places in Lindsay Lohan's drunken mouth one of the greatest quotes of a generation. "I'm a celebrity and I can do whatever the F I want." Details ahead, but first time for Countdown's top three "Newsmakers" of this day.

Number three, an unnamed burglar in Victor Harbor, Australia, near Adelaide. Tried to held up a fish and chips shop with a sawed off shotgun. He was not prepared for the defensive weapons the owner possessed, a c container of cooking oil and another of the batter in which they cooked the fish. They were both very hot. The owner threw them at the offender, who then dropped the gun and quickly alighted from the scene empty handed stuff-wise.

Number two, Daisy Valdivia of Paterson, New Jersey, upset and rightfully so and significantly startled by the daring overnight theft at her home. Somebody came over and while the family slept stole its inflatable swimming tool, including, apparently, the 1,000 gallons of water contained therein.

What mystifies everyone is not only is there no sign any of the water was drained from the pool first or spilled, the area is not even damp.

But number one, Kevin Bae, vice president of K.M. Communications and somebody who fell asleep at the switch at the FCC. When the company applied for call letters for new low-power digital TV stations in Waikiki and Phoenix. And they were approved.

Mr. Bae has apologized because the new channel in Hawaii is for the moment, station K-U-N-T. Which leads to the question that is represented by the calls of the new one in Phoenix. KWTF?


OLBERMANN: To our third story in the Countdown, and new revelations about Harry Potter. Once again, a warning; if you are slowly savoring the final book, there are some spoilers are ahead. As author J.K. Rowling tells Meredith Viera just what the very end of the book was meant to be and why she changed it. And she gives us some insight into why the actor who plays the boy wizard in the movies, Daniel Radcliffe, would have said three weeks ago today on "The Today Show" that he thought his character might die, but he wasn't certain, even though he had not yet read "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."


MEREDITH VIERA, "THE TODAY SHOW": Joe, when you look out over Edinborough, you wrote so much of the beginning of the book at a cafe, and the last chapter of your book in the Balmoral, a beautiful hotel. Talk about where your life as come over all these years. What goes through your mind?

J.K. ROWLING, HARRY POTTER AUTHOR: Finishing has certainly made me look back a lot. And it's almost incredible to me at times what has happened. There are certainly moments when I imagine that I have dreamt it all.

VIERA: You know, this is an interesting experience for you, because you have never had the chance after a book to talk.

ROWLING: It's just really liberating.

VIERA: And now you look at - I'm reading the book sales for this book, in America 5,000 a minute.

ROWLING: That right? Really? My god, that's - My god. See, I really can't comprehend that.

VIERA: But could you ever have imagined back then what this would turn into?

ROWLING: No, Harry saved us security wise. He turned my life around completely. It has been phenomenal and so unexpected.

VIERA: What's next for you?

ROWLING: I am going to take a break definitely. And I'm just going to savor for a while the feeling that I don't have a deadline. It's just really liberating to think I can almost return to the beginning and write any old thing and see where it goes. And I don't have pressure on me. And there's no particular expectation that anything will get finished.

VIERA: Seventeen years, seven books, what do you want people to take away from all this?

ROWLING: If it's true that Harry got people reading, anyone who wouldn't otherwise have enjoyed or started to enjoy books, then that's the best thing anyone could say to me.

VIERA: Did you feel, in writing the seventh book, a sense of responsibility to those fans?

ROWLING: Yes, I definitely felt a sense of responsibility in that I wanted to make it the very, very best book I could. I'm often asked, don't you feel guilty killing people, characters that kids love. It sounds horrible and heartless to say no. But the truth is that when you're writing, you have to think only of what you're writing. Even my nearest and dearest - my sister, as she opened the book just looked at me and said, if you kill Hagrid, I will never forgive you.

VIERA: You're lucky you didn't kill Hagrid.

ROWLING: Yes, but I never planned to kill Hagrid.

VIERA: The end of the book; I had read that the last word was supposed to be scar.

ROWLING: And it was for a long, long time. For a long time the last line was something like: only those whom he loved could see the lightning scar. And that was a reference to the fact that Harry was flanked by his loved one.

VIERA: So, all was well.

ROWLING: All was well, yes.

VIERA: And you know when you came up with that line, that was it?

ROWLING: I felt a kind of - and that felt right.

VIERA: I want to talk a little bit about the movies, because I know when that first was presented to you, you said no. You weren't interested. What changed your mind?

ROWLING: Well, the biggest thing by far was that I was looking for an agreement that said they would follow my story, even though the rest of the books weren't written.

VIERA: Have you been happy?

ROWLING: I've been really happy with them. Visually, it's so close to being indistinguishable, particularly Hogwarts.

VIERA: And Daniel and Emma and Rupert, who play the three leads, have nothing but wonderful things to say about you. How do you feel about them? I mean, they're inhabiting your characters.

ROWLING: They're all amazing, and I told all three of them, the three main ones. Emma, Daniel and Rupert new more than they ever let on.

VIERA: Did any of them ask, are you going to off me?

ROWLING: Yes, Dan did.

VIERA: Daniel did? Did you tell him?

ROWLING: At one point, he said, I've got to ask you, do I die? And I thought quick, and I whispered so no one else could hear, you get a death scene. But Dan is very smart and I am pretty sure he would have walked away from that dinner, thinking yes, I get scene, but what does that mean. She didn't say yes, you die. So, I hope he is happy.

VIERA: I know that NBC News universal, our parent company, has started - there's going to be a theme park. Universal Studios; are you looking forward to that?

ROWLING: I'm look forward to that 100 percent. I want to be first on the rides.

VIERA: One of my favorite scenes is in the first book. It's the mirror.

ROWLING: That's my favorite chapter of the first book.

VIERA: Oh, it is as well? I just - there's something about that when he looks in that mirror and sees his family that is so moving to me. If I had that mirror here and you looked into that mirror, what do you think you would see?

ROWLING: I would definitely see what Harry sees. I would have seen my mother. I would be able to have a conversation with my mother.

VIERA: She battled M.S. for ten years. How did that shape you as a young woman? And how did her departure, her death affect this book?

ROWLING: Definitely, mom dying had a profound influence on the books, because I had been writing about Harry for six months when she died. And in the first draft, his parents were disposed of really quite - in an almost cavalier fashion. Six months and my mother dies, and I really think from that moment on death became a central, if not the central theme of the seven books. And in many ways, all of my characters are defined by their attitude to death and the possibility of death.

VIERA: Did your mother ever know that you were writing these books?

ROWLING: No. It's one of my biggest regrets. She never knew. She would have loved this. Any mother wants to know that their child is successful. She would have been at every event I did. She would have had so much vicarious pleasure at knowing who I had met and would have been fascinated and interested. That's a massive regret that I didn't at least tell her.

VIERA: Had you been one of these students that ended up at Hogwarts, and they put the sorting hat on you, which one of the houses do you think you would have ended up at?

ROWLING: The virtue that I pride among all the others - and I think it's patently obvious from the books - is courage. So I would hope to be in Gryffindor. Whether I would be judged worthy or not, I don't know.

VIERA: Do you think most people in this world are more like Harry or more people are more like Draco?

ROWLING: I am reasonably optimistic about human nature. Most people are decent. What's interesting to examine is what happens to decent people when they're frightened.

VIERA: Steven king said this character is right up there with some of the greats.

ROWLING: That's very kind of him.

VIERA: Frodo and Dorothy, Huckleberry Finn. I suppose it's mind boggling to think that your book is up on that same shelf.

ROWLING: It is. Ultimately, if the books deserve to survive, they will survive. And if they don't deserve to survive, they won't. That's it. History will judge. That ultimately is what matters. And it really helps you put everything in perspective.


OLBERMANN: Dateline NBC is devoting a full hour to "Harry Potter this Sunday, featuring more of Meredith Viera's interview with J.K. Rowling. And Chris Hansen does not bust into the room either. Check your local listings for details.

So, with all that hype out of the way, on to the Simpsons hype. More people you don't mind seeing making a ton of dough. And then there is the other kind, the claim that she damaged or walked off with 21,000 dollars worth of stuff that belonged not to her, but to "OK! Magazine," ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Number two story tonight, our nightly roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, Keeping Tabs. Twenty years after it debuted as a skit on the "Tracy Allman Show," 17 years after it became a full length series, finally "The Simpsons" have or has made it on to the big screen. Opening across the country tonight after what seems like decades of wily promotion.

Of course, marketing a movie using corporate tie ins is nothing. When "Spider Man III" came out, Sony Erikson produced Spider Man phones. "Shrek III" teamed up with McDonald's. "Shrek" one and two had previously tied up with Burger King. James Bond even cross marketed with BMW. And using gorilla marketing is old hat, although in the case of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force's" bright light-esque ads, which led the city of Boston to shut itself down that one memorable day, it can backfire.

So when it came to advertising "The Simpson Movie," a movie so anticipated that it already has millions of fans, and thus millions of ready critics, the challenge was to find promotional tools that were innovative and clever as the series itself. So did Fox succeed? Countdown's Monica Novotny reports and you decide.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did I save the day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, you doomed us all.

MONICA NOVOTNY, Countdown CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Except for Fox, of course. For them, he saved the day. The cartoon, one of the studio's biggest money makers. And the movie, well, Fox is hoping to outdo itself.

LISA LICHT, 20TH CENTURY FOX: We are dealing with a brand that's been around for 18 years. There have been a plethora of promotions over the years. And we didn't want it to feel like another Simpson's promotion.

NOVOTNY: So cue the marketing machine. Homer stepping in for Jay Leno.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here I am at NBC, which, by the way, stands for never been crappier. Ha, if you see the crap they put on this network.

NOVOTNY: 7-11's across the country transforming themselves into Kwik-E-Marts, complete with Crusty O's cereal, Sprinkilish donuts, and, of course, slushies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is kind of surreal. It's overwhelming.

NOVOTNY: Burger King running ads for SimpsonizeMe.com, where you can turn yourself into a Simpson like character.

Microsoft making a limited yellow Simpson edition XBox. Jetblue even renaming one of their aircraft.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This aircraft, Woo Hoo Jet Blue, is going to be a permanent part of our fleet and will always say, the official airline of Springfield.

NOVOTNY: And for the cool kids, Van Sneakers hiring 12 underground artists to make Simpsons inspired sneakers.

MATT GROENING, SIMPSONS CREATOR: It's the best of all words. It's Simpsons, crazy pop culture stuff. It's weird graffiti art. And it's an actual commercial product.

NOVOTNY: but while Fox decided to only team up with four companies for cross promotion, there is still all that guerrilla marketing. Remember the "U.S.A. Today" sponsored search for the real Springfield? Whichever town posted the most popular video advertising their eligibility would win. Vermont won and hosted the movie premier last weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll teach you to laugh at something that funny!

NOVOTNY: In Canada, one of the world's tallest buildings, the C.N.

Tower, now has a sprinkilicious view. While over in Britain, an artist painted a 55 foot chalk image of Homer Simpson next to an ancient chalk giant symbolizing fertility, well received by pretty much everyone but the logal pagans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The word apology is tossed around a lot of these days. Doh.

NOVOTNY: For Countdown, Monica Novotny.


OLBERMANN: And, of course, Monica meant squishies, not slushies. The woman behind Bart Simpson will be joining us live here on Monday. Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart, dude, on Countdown at 8:00 Eastern, 5:00 Pacific. Be there, aloha.

Which can mean hello or goodbye. So it's also aloha to Nicole Richie, out of court, but heading for prison, following the footsteps of her "Simple Life" co-star Paris Hilton. Miss Richie sentenced to four days in jail after pleading guilty to drunk driving, fined 2,000 dollars, ordered into yet another drug and alcohol rehab program. It is her second DUI conviction in four years.

TMZ.com says Richie gets her choice, serving time at L.A. city jail or L.A. county jail. She and her unborn child will have to check in by September. The judge sternly reminding Miss Richie that she could have been charged with murder if she had killed someone driving the wrong away down a freeway last December. And just to cover all the bases, he also told her that if the DMV takes her license away, that means she's not allowed to drive.

And Lindsay Lohan may have been drunk driving, but Britney Spears was open doored bathrooming. The grim details ahead. But first time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for Worst Person in the World.

The bronze to Barry Bonds, responding to a segment on "Costas Now," on HBO, in which our colleague, Mr. Costas, said Bonds' records are inauthentic and that Bond had started juicing. Bonds has called Bob that little midget man who absolutely know jack expletive about baseball, who never played the game before.

Firstly, Bob is bigger than you were, Barry, before you go started using steroids and human growth hormones. Secondly, before you go call anybody a midget, take a look at yourself in an ethics mirror. You're about four inches tall.

The runner up, Bill-O, as he continues to provide the best advertising the website the Daily Kos has ever gotten. When Fox News watch contributor Jane Hall pointed out that there are comments just as objectionable, if not more so, posted on his website as there are on its, Bill-O screamed. Even as the Secret Service reportedly investigates death threats against Senator Clinton posted on BillO'Reilly.com, "that's a lie and I can't let you say a lie. We take them off."

He then ordered Miss Hall's microphone cut off. Bill, if you can't face Jane Hall, how can you face al Qaeda? And oh yes, Daily Kos, baiting Bill-O, quit working my side of the street, huh?

But our winner is Glenn Beck, talking about this phony issue of immigration reform, which is code for hatred of Mexicans. He welcomed a guest from the John Birch Society. Beck said, when I was growing up, the John Birch Society, I thought they were a bunch of nuts. However, you guys are starting to make more and more sense to me.

The group that said FDR knew about Pearl Harbor in advance; the group that opposed the civil rights act and OSHA; giving back the Panama Canal; the group that called President Eisenhower a communist is starting to make more and more sense to you? Your first conclusion was right. If you're agreeing with them, Glenn, then you're now one of the bunch of nuts. Glenn Beck, today's Worst Person in the World!


OLBERMANN: Lindsey Lohan's new movie, "I Know Who Killed Me," has not been widely reviewed, because no advanced screenings were held for critics. Which means, of course, that however bad or good it might be, the film can't possibly be as watchable as her life. But our number one story in the Countdown, we already know who is killing Lohan's career, that would be her.

As eye witnesses from the night of her arrest tell TMZ.com that Lohan commandeered the vehicle she used to chase her assistant, and that she said she couldn't get into trouble because she's a celebrity. Well, that worked out well. TMZ interviewed the three men who are friends of the boyfriend of Lohan's ex-assistant, Tarin Graham. The three amigos account, in a nutshell - listen carefully: on Monday night Lohan invited all of them to a party in Malibu. At some point, the assistant and her boyfriend got into a fight. Ms. Lohan tried to intervene and the assistant quit, fought some more with the boyfriend and then tore off in her own vehicle.

The boyfriend had walked away from his friend's car, the white Denali. The three friends were waiting in that vehicle and they say Ms. Lohan jumped into the driver's seat, quote, messed up and raging, unquote. She then chased the assistant along PCH, Pacific Coast Highway, which equals one big mess. And that's only part of it.

As Ms. Lohan pulled away, one of the witnesses actually jumped out of the vehicle. The other two were trapped, pleading with Ms. Lohan to stop.


RONNIE BLAKE, WITNESS: I jumped out of the car as she's just about to start accelerating. She accelerates. She runs over my foot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was probably going 100 miles an hour the whole time on PCH. And this is when I'm like, dude - I'm like, you're going to kill us. And that's when she's like, you know, I don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about it. I don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about. I can't get in trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because she knows people who can do things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She says no, I can't get in trouble. I'm a celebrity. I can do whatever the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I want.


OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, dude, someone should have taken the reins when Britney Spears attempted to complete her photo shoot with "OK! Magazine," because that publication is sparing no details, including this: when La Spears went into the bathroom, which was frequently, she didn't bother to close the door.

Let's bring in "Village Voice" columnist Michael Musto. Michael, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Let's start with Ms. Lohan. If it weren't for the fact that she had evidently been drinking, this sounds like the kind of wacky plot from a movie that she might appear in. But these poor guys holding on for dear life, I have a vision of this wild-eyed Lohan at the wheel. It's just remarkable, isn't it?

MUSTO: Nobody really knows the plot of a Lindsey Lohan movie anymore, because nobody sees them. As you mentioned, her new movie is called I Know Who Killed My Career. Look, the only plot in Lindsay's life these days is the cemetery plot for her filmography.

OLBERMANN: There was more, of course, to this. The two witness who remained in the vehicle said that the assistant finally managed to allude Ms. Lohan so that she went to the assistant's mother's house. At that moment the mother is pulling up in her own car. She gets scared because here comes this woman at 100 miles an hour.

She drives off. Lohan follows her and it was then that Lohan blows through several red lights. According to the guys, you know - would this not have been easier just to have Lindsey Lohan go in and get those words arrest me tattooed on her forehead?

MUST: Yes, but she doesn't know how to spell that any more than (INAUDIBLE). Look, I think Lindsay actually thought, I can't get arrested in Hollywood these days. That's why she started running red lights. She thought she was above the law. The result now is tragic. It's going to be six hours of home imprisonment in Beverly Hills. It's just awful.

OLBERMANN: That's the tragedy of misunderstanding a cliche. The really ugly part, once the police show up at the parking lot at the end of all this, she reportedly tries to say, quote, the black kid was driving. That would Ronnie Blake, who we just saw, the African-American eye witness, who had jumped -

MUSTO: He's charming, by the way.

OLBERMANN: In his own way.

MUSTO: He hangs out with terrific people.

OLBERMANN: He jumped out of the SUV at the start of this whole thing. So, of all the people she could have chosen from, Lindsay Lohan chooses Michael Richards as her damage control role model?

MUSTO: I think she's actually choosing Susan Smith. Remember the woman who drowned her kids and blamed the black guy? I think it's the same black guy, Ronnie Blake. She's also channeling Boy George here, because Lindsay said, I don't know where the cocaine came from. It wasn't mine. How did it get into your pocket, honey? Poltergeist? Was Mark Furman there?

OLBERMANN: Somebody threw it and was just a really, really good shot.

MUSTO: Nobody on the New York Mets.

OLBERMANN: There was there proclamation that will unfortunately confirm, in many people's minds, why they hate celebrities where she said she couldn't get in to trouble because she is a celebrity. That just blows the thing for everybody, doesn't it?

MUSTO: The second she said that, she ceased to become a celebrity, as if by magic. Celebrity is one of those words like fabulous, where if you say it out loud, you stop being it. Maybe she should have said, I am a skank and that would have undone itself.

OLBERMANN: Go to a cloister. There's good old Britney Spears. According to "OK! Magazine," she couldn't manage to shut the door when she went to the bathroom. You talk about your career going into the toilet. What have you got on this?

MUSTO: Well, you've heard of TMZ, this is TMI. But to followers of Britney, this is no surprise. She has always put the pig in (INAUDIBLE). The really gross thing, Keith, is that "OK! Magazine" went into the bowl afterwards, took out the stuff and put it on eBay while promoting it as really heart breaking.

OLBERMANN: There was a - I'm glad to see, by the way, that you have adopted the pronunciation of the magazine.

MUSTO: Everybody has.

OLBERMANN: There was some uncanny timing in this though. Apparently after she wiped her greasy chicken hands on the silk dress, her puppy did it's business on a 6,000 dollar gown. The dog has been trained, Michael. And, of course, I'm not referring to Miss Spears.

MUSTO: No, that's the bitch. No, the dog at least had the decency to close the door when he did it. And also he was nice enough to use an expensive Zach Posen (ph), not a cheep Alicia Lavine (ph). Even in crapping, the dog has more class than his mommy.

OLBERMANN: And the last part here, after she came back ready to shoot, she seemed disoriented after going to the bathroom, according to "OK!?"

MUSTO: Don't know where you're going with that one, Keith. I have no idea what they're implying. Let's move on. I don't know. Where is this heading?

OLBERMANN: We'll let them think about it over the weekend. The one and only Michael Musto. Great thanks for coming in, Michael.

MUSTO: Take care. OK!

OLBERMANN: OK! That's Countdown for this the 1,549th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. From New York, I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.