Friday, September 28, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Sept. 28

Guests: General Batiste, Elizabeth Edwards, President William Jefferson Clinton, John Ridley

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

Petraeus, sycophant, savior. A magazine slams him on the cover. Broke his faith with the soldiers he commands and the Army. Fails his country. Some cousin to Nope, the "American Conservative."

Comedian Rush Limbaugh tries to back out of his quote, servicemen protesting the war are "phony soldiers."


RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK SHOW HOST: I never said what you think I said.


OLBERMANN: Not only did he, now he said something similar about the Congressman and Vietnam vet Jack Murtha. The condemnation of MoveOn over Petraeus. Has Congress condemned Limbaugh?

Countdown to 2008. Elizabeth Edwards joins us on the campaign.

And the new campaign ad that seems to reflect more than just a bid for the nomination.


ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF JOHN EDWARDS: Sometimes we put things off, don't we? We think we have all the time in the world. Well, we don't.


OLBERMANN: The frontrunner in New York to help close out the third Clinton Global Initiative, more than 100 million lives positively impacted in three days.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are the kind of ideas that are circulating and we can increase the visibility of a good idea. Then people, even with the very modest amount of money, can have a huge impact.


OLBERMANN: More of my interview with our 42nd president.

And even more from O'Reilly-gate. He secretly records his interview by a "Washington Post" reporter, then plays the tape on the air and takes it all out of context. Made threats to go to the home of every journalist who reported his racist remarks. Now it's fantasies of actual violence.


BILL O'REILLY, HOST, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": If I could strangle these people and not go to hell and get executed, I would. But I can't.


OLBERMANN: And other hints of racism from the same Bill O. broadcast, which you have not heard.

All that and more now on "Countdown."


O'REILLY: I'm coming to your house.


OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening from New York. To paraphrase the movie "Body Heat" sometimes the hypocrisy comes down so heavy you feel you should wear a hat. Calling David Petraeus a sycophant in its cover story on him.

A conservative Jack-in-the-box, comedian Rush Limbaugh compounding his phony soldiers comment, first, by denying he said what he'd said, then by adding Congressman Jack Murtha to the list of phony soldiers.

Our fifth story on the "Countdown," for some reason there does not seem to be a George Bush-led race to blast Limbaugh or the "American Conservative" the way they wrung hands and necks over the Petraeus advertisement.

The report in the magazine, the "American Conservative" easily falling under the guidelines of what Senate Resolution 315 last week so strongly condemned. "Sycophant savior," attacking the four-star general for failing to do what a great political general should, telling his masters what they need to hear instead of what they want to hear. The last paragraph particularly condemning saying Petraeus, quote, "has wrecked faith with the soldiers he commands and the Army which he has devoted his life. He has failed his country."

Despite the report the "American Conservative" unlikely to fall under what Rush Limbaugh was qualifying as the drive-by media today in a defense/distortion of his phony soldiers comment.

Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the first to wonder if Republicans, who showed such outrage to, will hold Limbaugh to the same standards. Others like Senator John Kerry calling for Limbaugh to apologize and publicly. Congressman Mark Udall saying he will introduce a Rush resolution on Monday. Its passage a possibly dicey proposition.

As for the comment that stirred up the controversy, you will recall that yesterday Limbaugh referred to phony soldiers, plural. Today that was down to just one genuine phony soldier, singular. The entire basis of his claim that he was, stay with me now, taken out of context.


LIMBAUGH: I never said what you think I said, Congressman Pallone, Congresswoman Schakowsky, Senator Kerry, or any of the rest of you in the drive-by media. I was talking about a genuine phony soldier.


OLBERMANN: Limbaugh now trying to claim his tirade referred to just one soldier, Jessie McBeth, who falsely claimed to be an Army ranger and veteran of the Iraq war. Might have a better chance of passing the smell test.

The original phony soldiers comment, still plural, at that point, not coming nearly two minutes before he ever mentioned him on yesterday's radio show.

Limbaugh making things worse for himself today by adding Congressman John Murtha, a decorated Vietnam vet, to his list of phony soldiers. Now back to being plural.


LIMBAUGH: How about Jack Murtha? Blanketly accepting the notion that Marines at Haditha engaged in wanton murder of innocent children and civilians?


OLBERMANN: Time now to turn to Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent of "Newsweek" magazine.

Howard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Let me borrow the phrasing of Resolution 315. In the wake of Rush Limbaugh's quote, it's the effort to attack the honor and integrity of members of the United States forces and in light of, quote, "the unwarranted attack of General Petraeus by" in this case "American Conservative" magazine. Do you think they will vote to condemn orders to repudiate the publication or the large gentleman?

FINEMAN: I don't know but the Democrats are trying to gen up support on this. On the House side you mentioned I was talking to some people in the Senate and they are now - the Senate leadership is circulating a letter among both Democrats and Republicans that will be sent to the company that employs Rush Limbaugh calling Limbaugh's comments unconscionable and calling him - for him to be reprimanded by his bosses. I think that's unlikely to happen. As far as the resolution is concerned, I think the Democrats perhaps wisely, as much as they might find this outrageous, realize that the real issue here is the war. And on that issue, they are very much on the right side, at least as far as the American people seem to be showing in the polls.

OLBERMANN: In a straight up comparison between the "American Conservative" cover story and the ad, is the difference between how the two are perceived is the use of the word betray us which is in the ad but not the magazine article? Is it the verb or skill and tenaciousness from the GOP machine?

FINEMAN: It's not just skill and tenaciousness from the GOP machine. It's desperation. Politically they're very much on the defensive about the war. Their president's approval ratings are at the bottom of the barrel because of that. The war is unpopular. They were looking for some way to deflect attention and they found an opening in the ad. So the energy that the Republicans put into it was a matter of desperation.

The Democrats really have the upper hand on the issue here. If they want to try to score points on Limbaugh, I think they can. If they want to try to score points on the "American Conservative" my point would be, who really cares? They can do that, too.

OLBERMANN: If they do want to score those points, is the fact that the president came out in that last sort can have fed to him question at his news conference a week and a half ago, is that now in retrospect a bad idea for the president to have said anything about this subject?

FINEMAN: Well, I think so because I think it diminished whatever standing he had with fair-minded people as commander in chief. He seemed to be one of his own spin doctoring minions getting down into it in what is really a proxy war over the real war which is the real war in Iraq.

Let me mention a couple other things here, Keith. Military families mean a lot in the upcoming elected. There are a lot of them and they're quite divided on the war in Iraq and they're strategically located in states such as Kentucky and Virginia and Ohio. And so the Democrats have to be careful but they do have to and want to reach out to those people. This may help them do it.

OLBERMANN: Have they got anything cooking if they're not going after anything symbolically with Limbaugh and this magazine or they're not prepared or do not have the votes to have a clean bill in the Senate? What are they cooking on now?

FINEMAN: Well, what they're cooking on is somehow trying to continue to underscore their opposition to the war and their desire to bring the troops home as quickly and responsibly as possible. They can play around with this. It may make them feel good but in the end that's not really where the issue is and their votes are not among the hard core Limbaugh listeners or American Conservative subscribers.

OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman, of MSNBC and "Newsweek." Thanks for your time.

FINEMAN: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: By Mr. Limbaugh's definition, even the commander of the First Infantry Division in Iraq, Major General John Batiste, might quality now as a phony soldier, given that he had the courage to speak out and end his 31-year military career in order to speak out on behalf of soldiers and those families that Howard just mentioned.

General Batiste, now an adviser to, kind enough to join us now.

Thank you for your time, sir.


OLBERMANN: How do you respond to the Limbaugh comment, and we're going with the original one from yesterday that service members who advocate are, quote, "phony soldiers"?

BATISTE: If a two-time combat veteran, first Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, one of the two U.S. brigade commanders in Bosnia, 12 months that began in December of 1995, 33-month commander of the 1st Infantry Division with duty in Kosovo, Turkey, and 13 months combat operations in Iraq, West Point graduate, son of a career infantry soldier and son-in-law of a career special forces soldier, if that's the definition of a phony, I don't get it.

You know, the fact is that more than 70 percent of this nation does not agree with the current strategy in Iraq and I'm here to tell you that our Army and Marine Corps are a reflection of the society from which they came and the same percentages exist there.

OLBERMANN: General, if Mr. Limbaugh was trying to be genuine when he claimed he had been referring to the one actual phony soldier guy, pretending to be a soldier, did he not sort of dismiss any validity to the argument when he added more actual soldiers including Congressman Murtha, the decorated Vietnam vet, to his list?

BATISTE: Absolutely. That's exactly what he did and Congressman John Murtha joins a whole range of great elected officials like Senator Chuck Hagel from Nebraska. And Congressman Walter Jones from North Carolina who understand that this nation right now does not have a focused regional or global strategy to defeat worldwide Islamic extremism and they understand that this nation is not mobilized in any dimension to accomplish what we have to do.

OLBERMANN: I'm a little confused about military protocol here and perhaps you of all people, who has been on the show, could clarify this. If serving or retired personnel question any aspect of the war, they are branded as playing politics and really probably get less or more attention than they deserve being called phony soldiers. But if the president sends a serving four-star general up to the House, up to Capitol Hill as his political spokesman, really being knee deep in the political process, that's okay? That's his duty? Am I missing something here, sir?

BATISTE: You know, Keith, I have enormous respect for Dave Petraeus and he's in a position. Listen, this administration is using David Petraeus. They well understand that David Petraeus is focused on the military component of strategy in Iraq.

What they're missing is that there is no regional or global strategy to defeat worldwide Islamic extremism. And by the way, al Qaeda exists in about 60 countries in the world, not just Iraq. It's disingenuous. It's putting David Petraeus in a horrible situation.

OLBERMANN: And the results have been what we've seen. It's solved nothing. The Petraeus part of this, not the surge - we're separating those two subjects out - but Petraeus' role as a politician all of a sudden has served no one well.

General John Batiste, a veteran of both the Iraq wars. Thanks. Have a good weekend, sir.

BATISTE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Our special guest tonight is Elizabeth Edwards, after a critical campaign decision by her husband and a request for donations to that campaign by her.

And how would you feel if in three days you had philanthropic pledges that would improve the lives of 100 million people around the world? Our other guest tonight - feel pretty good, thank you.


OLBERMANN: Campaigning for president of the United States is a crucible balance for anyone who dares to do it. And when it is endless and treated with the media as the definitive measure of appeal, it can be brutal. Questions have been raised about whether the campaign of former Senator John Edwards can adequately compete with that of Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama's because Edwards has decided to accept public campaign financing.

The decision by the Edwards' camp comes days before the end of the third quarter fund-raising period. It will force Senator Edwards to abide by a spending limit that is not required of candidates who do not opt for public financing. But Edwards' camp says the decision was consistent with Edwards' repeated calls to eliminate the influence of lobbyists and presidential candidates.

Meantime, an advertisement on the Edwards' website asks donors to contribute to the campaign because, quote, "We don't have all the time in the world." That message is from Elizabeth Edward, who will join us in a moment.


EDWARDS: Sometimes we put things off, don't we? We think we have all the time in the world. Well, we don't. You say you're going to volunteer at a food bank but maybe I'll do that next week or my elderly neighbor could use some help and I'll do that tomorrow. Sometimes we can't wait. The people who live in poverty in this country, they can't wait for us to step up. The people who are struggling and voiceless, those without health care, they can't wait. The men and women who are serving in Iraq, they can't wait. The truth is we don't have all the time in the world.


OLBERMANN: Joining me now, as promised, Elizabeth Edwards.

A great pleasure to have you on the newscast again.

EDWARDS: It's great to be with you. I look better with makeup than without, don't I?

OLBERMANN: No comment.

EDWARDS: Not taking the bite, huh?

OLBERMANN: No, no, no, no. We'll get to the public financing news in a moment.

I must first ask you about that ad. Your stated reference and the context is to the issues that your husband cares about, how those affected by them can't wait, but there have been all manner of inferences drawn that it means more than that, that it's about your health, your family's story. Is there any truth to that?

EDWARDS: Everything I say gets put in this context. When I talk

about John being a fight when the odds are against him, if I make a

reference to his successes in the courtroom somehow it's meant to be -

read to be some evolution to my illness.

When I say that we don't have all the time in the world and talk about people who are serving in Iraq or talk about people without health care, somehow it's an elusion to my illness. If I wanted to tug on people's heart strings, I have better material than that. I have used that allusion to the fact that - I made that back in 2004. It's often the way I talk about it.

It honestly didn't occur to me that it might be read that way. I guess I need to be more careful as I do things so that you all don't spend so much time, although you played the ad, maybe people will donate at the website. So maybe that's great.

OLBERMANN: There you go. There's a tradeoff in that. I guess it is like what we used to do in sports when they announce add ballplayer was day-to-day and the observation struck me that we are all day-to-day so it's the same thing.

EDWARDS: We absolutely are. But the campaign is not about me and my disease, it's about the people who I see and have seen for years who are struggling and nobody is speaking up for them.

OLBERMANN: Let me ask you about the campaign and this public campaign financing. The irony about this issue is that this used to be the norm. Everybody used to do it this way.

The public campaign financing, that's what it was created for. But now there is so much money in presidential campaigns that it is being interpreted as a sign of weakness for anyone to opt for public financing, assumption in there that the campaign cannot raise more than that amount through private donations. Is there a risk therefore in your husband's decision to go this way especially as measured against the amounts raised by Senators Obama and Clinton?

EDWARDS: Well, Senators Obama and Clinton are raising an awful lot of money. John set a campaign goal of raising $40 million. Honestly he's raised more than - if you don't count this election he's raised more than any other candidate has before.

In 2004 he agreed to abide by the campaign financing structure and that was considered a sign of strength that he did that. People don't remember that when John Kerry announced he was stepping outside the campaign finance system, that was described as a sign of weakness.

John thinks that ideologically it's consistent with where he stands, his position with respect to not taking lobbyists' money, making certain people understand you are speaking for the public, completely consistent with doing exactly this time what he did last time.

Honestly I think that this will allow John to raise - to have more money in the bank than his budget accounts for. So he's going to have plenty of money to run the campaign. We're well within our goals there. That it was consistent ideologically with where he stood and oddly enough people think this time it's a sign of weakness though they thought just the opposite decision was a sign of weakness.

OLBERMANN: Do you get the feeling in politics now that every once in a while somebody turns off the gravity switch and everything floats up in the air and comes back down in a different order than it was last week?

EDWARDS: Exactly. Exactly. But you deal with - you juggle whatever it is they've tossed you and so we're juggling this one a little bit. As I said, the extent to which it draws attention to the fact that it is the end of the quarter and that campaigns and other campaigns are trying to raise money before the quarterly report. That's maybe not a bad idea.

OLBERMANN: About juggling things in the campaign, has anything - did we see anything change with the Senator in New Hampshire? There seems to be repeated contrasts, and I saw this on the one I worked on in Chicago, he drew continual contrast between himself and Senator Clinton, maybe more so in the one in New Hampshire than in the past debates. Did you get that sense? Do you think that's - is that a campaign tactic? Was it a set of answers to a specific set of questions or what are we seeing?

EDWARDS: Well, John answers the actual question that's asked him and so he's limited in that respect. He doesn't just get to go willy-nilly attack somebody. He tries to answer the question, a longer format, the longer answers that allow people to give just some campaign snippet, actually talk about the issues, favors somebody who has substance and allows John to talk about where he is and to make the distinction about where other candidates are. John was able to make pretty important distinctions to where he stands in contrast to where Senator Clinton stands on those issues.

OLBERMANN: I take your point because in Chicago he told me, "Wait a minute, I'm going to finish this," about six times during his answer.

EDWARDS: He does that to me, too.

OLBERMANN: I know a little of the playing field then. You've been a strong presence, a vocal presence in the campaign. I want to quote something regarding Senator Clinton's health care plan you said in an interview nine days ago. "We would have expected her to be the first one out of the box not the last one out of the box with a health care plan and then for her to come up with one that looks like John's, it's almost as if she hasn't been willing to have the courage independently to be a leader on this." Are you more blunt on the campaign trail than your husband?

EDWARDS: I've always been a pretty blunt person. I'm 58 and every day - every day of those 58 years I've been pretty blunt and I was just making the point that we need a leader on this issue. I realize that she was - had the battle in 1993. But that battle was lost.

She said in this debate she wanted to be the health care president and it took her until September to come out with a plan that she already knew had been stamped as a great plan by health economists throughout this country, by commentators on health issues, so she's walking some pretty safe ground when she came out with a plan that looked in all material respects like John's. So, you know, wasn't the kind of leader that I expected her to be. If you want to lead on health care, John has given you a plan back in February.

OLBERMANN: Normally, you ask this question of someone you admire and appreciate first and not last, but a news interviews is a different animal. Belatedly and lastly, how are you?

EDWARDS: I feel great. Your first story today, I'm pretty aggravated with Rush Limbaugh. I came from a military family and frankly for someone who doesn't serve, he doesn't get the right to say those things. And so, besides being aggravated at him, I'm feeling great and ready, honestly, to fight.

OLBERMANN: Amen. Elizabeth Edwards, always a pleasure to talk with you.

EDWARDS: Great to be with you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Take care.

Now to the Bill O'Reilly mess. Now expanding to virtually begging for Jesse Jackson's approval and to secretly taping and playing on the air without consent an interview with a "Washington Post" reporter, to say nothing of dreams he has of strangling people. Making Tom Cruise look wishy-washy by contrast. All he reportedly is looking to do is fire a film worker.


OLBERMANN: On this date, the year is variously reported as 1916, 1915, and 1912, Frederick George Peter Engel Finch was born in England. He was an actor. His most enduring work became such only after his death as Peter Finch. He played the crazed anchor in "Network," giving his all. He died while promoting the movie. He was the only man nominated posthumously for an Academy Award and the only actor to win one. Dedicated to the man and the character who were mad as hell.

Let's play "Oddball."

And something that might have come out of the UBS Network news. We begin in West Palm Beach, Florida, where an injured Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett's miraculous recovery from spinal injury turned into a sportscaster's worse nightmare and a viewer's.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great news regarding Bills tight end Kevin Everett. He moved his arms and legs today. And doctors now believe - that's the wrong video, by the way.

OLBERMANN: Wrong video indeed. Faithful Oddball viewers might recall where that particular wrong video came from. It's from Columbus, Ohio, where perp Wendall Hollandsworth (ph), who was on trial for robbing a church and claiming to be injured, started kicking his lawyer in court and then was dressed up like that. Mr. Everett was originally thought to have been permanently paralyzed after a head-on injury in the NFL season's first game, but has been able to move his extremities and there's hope for significant recovery.

To the Internets, where fresh off our exclusive in-depth report on the sudden increase in mascot on mascot violence comes this shocking new evidence of the depth to which these once innocent creatures are willing to sink. Witness this incident in Arrow Head Stadium in Kansas City. A wayward fan charges the field. The Chiefs' mascot tries to head him off. Security gets there first and gets him down, when suddenly the wolf goes all pro wrestler on him, piling on top of the security guys then claiming credit for their tackling skills.

Ready for a job as an NFL player.


It is a virtual competition to see who can be the most philanthropic. The third annual Clinton Global Initiative is over. The number of the world's citizens positively impacted? Over 100 million. The Clinton behind the initiative joins me.

And now we're down to his dreams of literally strangling all those who called him on his racism, Bill-O-gate day five. These stories ahead, but first time for our goof balls and good guys. Here are Countdown's top three best persons in the world.

Number three, best answer, Graeme Frots of Baltimore. He will give the Democratic response to the presidential speech of the week tomorrow. Anticipating Mr. Bush's veto on a 35 billion dollar increase to SCHIP, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the Dems opted not to have a politician give a response, but Mr. Frost, Master Frost, actually. He's 12. Three years ago, after he suffered severe brain trauma in a car accident, his life was saved by federally subsidized health care.

Number two, best problem solvers, the city council of Ashland, Oregon. After regular bickering, fighting, name calling and even cursing at council meetings, the legislators decided to do something about it. They hired Dr. Rick Kirshner, a naturo-pathic conflict resolution expert, a counselor. Moreover, a counselor who says he has previously counselled a cable news network.

And number one, best-worst employer, Hong Kong pop singing sensation Jacky Cheung, who has now been banned from hiring any more maids from the Philippines. He and his wife are on a hiring black list kept by the Philippine consulate in Hong Kong because in the last three years they have hired and fired a few maids, 21 of them. I wonder if the consulate knows about Naomi Campbell, her housekeepers and her cell phone throwing habits.


OLBERMANN: Other than the periodic appearance of Angelina Jolie or the guys who started Youtube or the president of Malawi, or the head of CrMD+SD_rMDNM_isco Systems, they are not a standout in a crowd kind of crowd. Yet in our third story on the Countdown, the 400-plus attendees milling around a New York hotel for the three days of the annual Clinton Global Initiative made 245 new philanthropic pledges, which will positively impact the lives of just about 100 million people. Not a bad way to spend over half a week. The last part now of my interview with the man of the initiative.


OLBERMANN: This is the thing that is below the surface here I would imagine. Obviously gifts, money, those keep the wheels moving, but the idea of an idea. Last year the one the stuck in my mind were the micro-loans, the idea that you got people going - begging in many countries, give them something to sell and all of a sudden you have turned them into door-to-door salesmen.


Well, I can just - yes, give you an example of that, we can all be micro-bankers now thanks to a little Web site called, which made its introduction here last year. They came here for the first time. And one of the people who followed us on the Internet, of the 48,000 people, several hundred of them made their own commitment. One of them said, I'm going to loan 25 dollars to somebody in Africa to start a business or expand a business.

When I featured them in my book and then went on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and she brought them there, within three days, all of the people in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Afghanistan, every one of their business people was fully funded within three days by people giving between 25 and 200 dollars to them.

It was amazing. So now they all will get reports - all of these people, and when their loans are paid back, they can keep them or turn around and lend them again. These are the kind of ideas that are circulating the world. And we can increase the visibility of the good ideas. Then people, even with a very modest amount of money, can have a huge impact.

Just think about it. You and I could become bankers to people and we could monitor their progress and people in their neighborhoods will see and they will look for micro loans. They have their own ideas, so we can give them a chance to raise their kids with dignity, send their kids to school, and in troubled places like Afghanistan, we marginally increase the chance that peace can prevail because people will see there is a positive alternative to conflict.

OLBERMANN: So this is, you'd say, after three years of this that the spirit of giving and of creative thought towards how to help other people is contagious?

CLINTON: Oh, yes. And mow people spend - we have a commitments office that works all year long. So we help people develop these commitments in the run-up to the CTI. Then at the end of the conference, people who came and haven't yet made commitments, we help them make their commitments then in the two months afterwards. And then we spend six months helping everybody keep them.

It's worked out so well. Probably the most innovative big thing that's been announced is the 300 million dollars that the Canadian mining interest and Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire, have committed to go into mining communities and help them develop long term economic projects that benefit average people and are good for the environment.

As long as the world population goes up, mining will go up. We'll need more minerals, materials of all kinds. But very often miners don't do very well. Their families don't do very well. The land is (INAUDIBLE). When the mine plays out, everybody leaves and goes on and then all these people are left without a way to make a living.

So you've got this one man, Frank Giustra (ph), a Canadian friend of mine with a social conscience, who said this is wrong. This is unethical. We make a ton of money out of this. We should give a big portion back.

And there - 300 million dollars have already been committed. Twenty four other companies lined up to give more. Five countries in Latin America and Africa already selected. There is some money in the bank in Peru for this, because the government requires. And the Europeans have already paid into the bank lots of money to buy carbon offsets to meet their global warming targets, but they don't have good projects.

We're going to try to put all of this together and I wouldn't be surprised if this one guy's idea and his 100 million dollar commitment leads to billions of dollars in reinvestment in good, environmentally responsible jobs for people in some of the poorest countries in the world.

OLBERMANN: It's nice to see the dominoes falling in good order, isn't it?

CLINTON: Yes, and it's something you can do with relatively little bureaucracy. As I said, it doesn't mean that we don't need an international climate change agreement. We do. It doesn't mean that the government is not important. It is. But these are things that can be done to fill the gap that is always there and always has been between even the healthiest economies and the most vigorous government in the wholes in this society and where we ought to be.

OLBERMANN: President Clinton, as always, our great thanks for your graciousness and your time.

CLINTON: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir.


OLBERMANN: And the cartoons. Tom Cruise reportedly breaks character when a crew member breaks wind. The hoof hearted investigation. And in Worst persons, this awful image, the poster for a right winger's Islamo-Fascist week, a young girl being buried alive in Iran. Only one problem, this awful image isn't from Iran, and it isn't even real. That's next. This is Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Keeping tabs on the world of celebrity and entertainment is number two tonight. Beginning with something in the air about Tom Cruise. Reports in Britain's "Daily Star" that a furious Tom Cruise wants to fire a member of his film crew because of flatulence. Mr. Cruise has gone to great length to get German government permission to film his movie about the attempted assassination of Hitler in historic locations in German. But after asking his cast and crew for a moment of silence in Berlin's infamous Bender Block, where the anti-Nazi patriots were executed, someone broke wind, either accidentally or as a prank. At least this is what the story says, and Cruise was said to be incensed.

Not incensed. You what I mean. Accidental or not, the tabloid says the offender could get fired. Or worse, he might be given a complete set of the works of Elron Hubbard.

On to the latest on Paris Hilton's post-pledge to grow up and do something better with her life. After having served 23 days last June, she said she wanted to seek out worthy causes. She's chosen a real whopper. Not volunteering in soup kitchens, or visiting the elderly at nursing homes. Instead she's off to war ravaged central African nation Rwanda. Miss Hilton telling the E! website that she's going to go there in November to bring more attention to poverty and children's issues, saying I know there's a lot of good I can do just by getting involved, maybe with fun makeovers for the whole nation.

Bill O'Reilly strikes again. More threats against journalists, more racist implications from the very same broadcast that included, where's my iced tea MF-ers comment. That's next, but first time for an almost non-political addition of Countdown's worst person in the world.

The bronze to an unnamed 33 year old worker in Virtsbirg (ph), in Germany. He has confessed to stealing a few items from the factory, screws, one million screws. He acknowledges that on a bad night he would only walk out of the plant with 2,000 of them hidden on his person and his belongings. But on a good night he'd walk away with 7,000. They caught him when somebody drove by with a giant magnet. I made the last part up.

Our silver tonight to the traffic engineers of Seminole County, Florida, who worked today to correct a sign on the intersection of state road 26 and Reid Road in front of a local school. That sign is now supposed to read school zone. As of this morning it read, as you see, "Scohol Zone," S-C-O-H-O-L, Scohol.

But our winner, right wing lunatic fringer David Horowitz (ph), who has for his annual Islamo-Fascism awareness week chose as the poster a photo which he describes as, quote, a teenage girl being buried before being stoned to death for alleged sexual offenses. The stoning took place in Iran.

Nice try. The image is actually from a 1994 made in Holland called De Stein (ph). And the teenaged girl in the picture is an actress named Smadar Monsinos (ph). And she has made at least three appearances on Dutch TV series since. Evidently she's OK. But keep plugging away, Mr. Horowitz. Let's keep spending billions of dollars to stoke up religious hatred and send our kids to their deaths on the battlefield so we can prevent Dutch actresses from having to do scenes in which their characters are buried alive in a movie.

Right wing water carrier David, "I saw it in the movies, it must be real," Horowitz, today's Worst Person in the World!


OLBERMANN: If you think Bill O'Reilly capable of anything, you are mistaken. For days now he has argued, sometimes with black people, that his comments last week about black people were not offensive to black people. In our number one story tonight, there is one thing O'Reilly appears incapable of doing, despite his claim that he was taken out of context. He seems incapable of playing any tape that would put into context his surprise at the civil demeanor of black restaurant patrons in New York City.

Last night, he not only pretended to be confused when the Reverend Jesse Jackson challenged him - you'll see that in a moment - he also tried the rhetorical equivalent of putting words into somebody's mouth with a jack-hammer. Trying and failing to get the reverend to condemn anyone, anyone except him, or to agree that his comment was not offensive.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Unless you condemn what Media Matters and CNN did, you, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton as well - unless you came out and said - and I think you have said this in the public, I read it -

O'Reilly didn't say anything racist at all. This is diverting attention from the real issue. You've got to do that.

JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I think the issue about you and your view of civility in Harlem was not nearly as offensive as Imus statement -

O'REILLY: Not even close.

JACKSON: Or even Michael Richards.


OLBERMANN: Not as offensive differs slightly from not offensive. More offense to come. First this promise, O'Reilly's classic, I said the what about the who now?


O'REILLY: We are happy to have for the first time in 11 years on the air the Reverend Jesse Jackson, everybody. You know, I'm glad to see you.

JACKSON: Bill, what were you trying to say?

O'REILLY: In what? I'm saying the press is corrupt. And they're exploiting black Americans.

JACKSON: In Sylvia's, what were you trying to say?

O'REILLY: The press is corrupt and they're exploiting black America.

JACKSON: No, what you said about how civil the people were. What was your point?

O'REILLY: Oh, up in Sylvia's?


OLBERMANN: Yes, up in Sylvia's, where you have now also said black people were fooled - no racism in that statement - by the media into taking offense at your remarks. This despite the fact that in 2004, when a guest said the white baby boom population will fade out in 50 years, O'Reilly responded on the air, quote, yes, we'll all be dead. Thank god, right?

Despite the fact that we went back and listened to the entire hour of last week's radio program several times and found no exculpatory context, but instead several other instances of racially charged language, stereotypes like black kids living in ghettos, white kids not, as if there were no black middle class or poor white kids, that black resentment is the only impediment to black success. It goes on.

But despite his claim that no one complained the hour, also includes two callers who took issue with his portrayal of black rap culture.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill, I have to tell you I think you're wrong about Twista. You obviously haven't met the man.

O'REILLY: I don't have to meet him. I have his lyrics right in front of me, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he does a lot for the people of Chicago. He's a father to his family. He's big on his family.

O'REILLY: Ken, Ken, Ken, look, that's enough. That's enough. You're an idiot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you're spinning and bloviating does not do the black community justice. You're just giving fodder to your viewers who have a negative view of black people anyway. So you're pointing out a couple of Twistas and Ludacrises and the large general population is shameful.

O'REILLY: I think you're justifying bad behavior. I think you have your head in the sand.


OLBERMANN: As we discussed yesterday, the entire episode has observers concerned that Mr. O'Reilly is becoming separated from reality. Exhibit number 23-D, yesterday's violent impulses towards his critics.


O'REILLY: You know, look, if I could strangle these people and not go to help and get executed, I would. But I can't.


OLBERMANN: And then there was this not quite accidental slip of professional ethics on last night's TV show. First, he taped a phone call with "Washington Post" reporter Paul Farhi, who wanted to interview him, without telling Farhi. Then he played it on the air despite the fact the journalist asked for privacy. How do we know? He played that part too.


PAUL FARHI, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I listen to the radio show. Please don't repeat this because I'm supposed to be neutral. But you're getting so dragged into something you don't deserve. It's ridiculous.


OLBERMANN: Yes. Let's bring in NPR contributor John Ridley, author of the graphic novel, "The American Way." Great thanks for your time tonight, John.

JOHN RIDLEY, AUTHOR, "THE AMERICAN WAY": Thank you, Keith. Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN: Mr. O'Reilly's attempt to co-opt the Reverend Jackson as a critic of CNN was even more extraordinary than that thing we just played. At one point the reverend listed a number of stories that deserved more coverage and O'Reilly replied, in essence, you're right. CNN is trying to smear me. We also saw him in there pretend not to know what Reverend Jackson was referring to.

He's usually a better actor than that. Was that as desperate as it looked?

RIDLEY: Well, to me it was like when I come home and something's broken on the floor, and I have my four-year-old and my six-year-old. What vase, daddy? What vase? It was pretty interesting. Clearly that was going to be the topic of the evening and he seemed to have no idea that Reverend Jesse Jackson would somehow get into a race issue.

OLBERMANN: The monsters broke it, daddy. The monsters from the left-wing media. Clearly Reverend Jackson took over that show for a few moments last night, at least. But he held fire and Al Sharpton the night before had reserved judgment. Is there any idea - do you have any idea why they have held back, because this seems to be pretty open and shut, doesn't it?

RIDLEY: Well you would think. I was kind of surprised by Al Sharpton. It was like first and ten and he decided to punt. I think that these guys - and I don't want to cast too many aspersions - but look, they're about-face time. They like being on TV. Who doesn't like to put their ideas and their philosophies out there. And Bill O'Reilly has a good game going.

So once these guys start to cozy up - this is Reverend Jackson's first time on in 11 years and Bill O'Reillly made a big deal of that. Al Sharpton went out to dinner with this guy. I think they're not going to step forward and be the aggressors they usually are. They had no problem getting into the Duke case without knowing all the facts and there young people's lives were at stake.

Here somebody said something. It was pretty clear what he said. They had no problem finding somewhere on the Internet where it was posted. And they refused to comment about it.

OLBERMANN: The core of this, the impression that he leaves, O'Reilly, that is, that if you don't hate black people, you're not racist. Is the subtext of that, of what he's been saying throughout that if blacks just act, dress, sing the way he wants them to and dress up nice, then he won't hate or fear them? Isn't that the most virulent form of racism that we have going nowadays?

RIDLEY: Well, it is, and I think it demonstrates this, because this is a guy - look, he's not hanging out in the hood with a bunch of rappers. Who does he meet on a regular basis? Guys like Juan Williams or Dick Parsons, Colin Powell, Condi Rice. And yet despite the fact that he's only meeting black agenda setters, when he goes to a restaurant, he's stunned. He's stunned that we can use knifes and forks, and we don't eat off the floor.

If he goes to an Anita Baker concert, he's stunned we wear suits. I mean, who does he think is going to an Anita Baker concert to begin with?

OLBERMANN: Last question, John, is this over? Is this going to pass next week?

RIDLEY: I think it will pass with the next news cycle. But he will say something again and this will come up again. It's not going to go away because he's not going to go away. And, quite frankly, all of our ignorance is not going to go away. The difference between him and probably the rest of us is he's got a place where he can say it to several million people, and that's where it really makes a difference, when he propagates the stereotypical ideas that he has.

OLBERMANN: Is there - is there damage to him? Or is there nothing to damage?

RIDLEY: I would say there's probably very little at this point to damage with Bill O'Reilly and certainly not to his audience. Look, the people who like him, like him. The people who don't, don't. This doesn't make a difference. I think someone who is more respectable in general probably could have damaged him more.

OLBERMANN: John Ridley, commentator for NPR, author of the "American Way." Good luck with the book and great thanks for your time, sir.

RIDLEY: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: That is Countdown for this, the 1,612th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. From New York, I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Sept. 27
video 'podcast'

Guests: Jim Webb, Jonathan Turley, Bill Clinton, Marvin Kitman

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

No way out. Even most of the leading Democrats refusing to guarantee all troops will be out of Iraq by the end of their first terms.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should have all our troops out by 2013, but I don't want to make promises.

JOHN EDWARD, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I cannot make that commitment.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We do not know, walking into the White House in January 2009, what we're going to find.


OLBERMANN: Senator Jim Webb joins us on the worsening Iraq conundrum.

But did Senator Clinton find her defining moment of the campaign in one matter-of-fact distancing of her would-be presidency from her husband's?


TIM RUSSERT, MSNBC DEBATE MODERATOR: The guest who laid out this scenario for me with that proposed solution was William Jefferson Clinton last year. He disagrees with you.

CLINTON: Well, he's not standing here right now.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I thought to myself, you know, Tim Russert is a very clever interviewer. I thought he had trapped her and, instead, she made the obvious point that if she gets elected, she'll be the president. I won't. She'll make the final call.


OLBERMANN: At the Clinton Global Initiative, our 42nd president joins me on the debate to how and when we will get out of Iraq.


B. CLINTON: We have really have no choice but to begin fairly quickly to reduce our military presence there.


OLBERMANN: And the conundrum of charity at a time of political crisis and heavy political fund-raising.

Another ugly twist to this administration's domestic spying. It's not only doing it. It is reportedly trying to convince reporters one-on-one not to report on it. Another attempt to silence a critical free press.

Speaking of which...


BILL O'REILLY, HOST, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": Americans should be very skeptical of the news media. No longer can it be trusted.


OLBERMANN: Because it reported his racist comments and their racist context. Bill O'Reilly tries to scramble out of the way of the slow moving avalanche.

Tonight a sympathetic O'Reilly biographer says he seems to be losing it.


O'REILLY: I'm going to hunt you down, and I mean it. The smear stops here. You're all on notice out there. I'm coming for you.


All that and more, now on "Countdown."


O'REILLY: I'm coming for you.


OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening from New York. As if it were not bad enough that next president of the United States will inherit the disastrous aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, it is ever more likely tonight that the president after that one might also be left with a U.S. presence on the ground there, more than five years from now.

Our fifth story on the "Countdown," at last night's debate in New Hampshire, the three leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination each refusing to promise that they would withdraw all American troops from Iraq by the end of their first term.

President Bush having initiated the war in Iraq because he was determined to do so. New evidence on that in a moment. Then having escalated the conflict with no evident success.

Senators Clinton, Edwards, and Obama telling moderator Tim Russert last night it would be wrong to promise they would withdraw all American forces from Iraq by the year 2013.


OBAMA: I think it's hard to project four years from now. I think it would be irresponsible. We don't know what contingency would be out there.

CLINTON: It is my goal to have all troops out by the end of my first term. But I agree with Barack. It is very difficult to know what we're going to be inheriting. We do not know walking into the White House in January 2009 what we're going to find.

RUSSERT: Will you commit that at the end of your first term in 2013 all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq?

EDWARDS: I cannot make that commitment. I think the problem is, and it's what you've just heard discussed, is we will maintain an embassy in Baghdad. That embassy has to be protected. We will probably have humanitarian workers in Iraq. Those humanitarian workers have to be protected.


OLBERMANN: President Bush might find it hard to protect his legacy for the history books with the release of a new transcript showing that in early 2003 he was determined to invade Iraq even as he told the American people that war was not yet a certainty.

The Spanish newspaper, El Piese, publishing a transcript of a private discussion between Mr. Bush and the then-Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar on February 2, 2003, in which the American president said the U.S. would go to war to disarm Saddam Hussein on what would be the obvious question, with or without a U.N. resolution.

Quoting Mr. Bush from that conversation transcript, "We must take him right now. We have shown an incredible degree of patience until now. There are two weeks left. In two weeks we will be militarily ready."

Yet, only days after that conversation, Mr. Bush was still insisting he had not made up his mind about military action against Iraq, claiming on March 6, 2003, hopefully this can be done peacefully. And two days after that, saying we are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq.

We are fortunate to be joined by Democratic Senator Jim Webb of Virginia from the capital.

Senator, thanks for your time tonight.

JIM WEBB, (D), VIRGINIA: Nice to be with you.

OLBERMANN: The Bush-Asnar transcript is a Spanish Downing Street memo. Not only was the president fixed on war, the transcript suggests this might not have been a seemly option but better than the one we wound up, with a possibility of buying off Saddam Hussein, sending him into exile for a Billion dollars. In comparison yesterday, the Pentagon asked for $190 billion just to pay for this year in Iraq. What's your reaction to news of this Asnar transcript?

WEBB: There's no real surprise there. If you look back at what the situation was in '02, I and General Tony Zinni and other people were saying that Iraq probably would have been sixth highest in terms of the threats to the United States.

In fact, I wrote a piece in the "Washington Post" five years ago this month basically saying, do you really want to be in Iraq for the next 30 years, and that these people have no exit strategy because they don't intend to leave.

I think Bush was maneuvered into taking positions early on after 9/11 and couldn't get back out of it. And the momentum just overwhelmed. We never should have gone into Iraq.

OLBERMANN: Senator, from last night's Democratic presidential debate in new Hampshire, as depressing as it was to hear your colleagues Clinton and Obama and former Senator Edwards say it's likely the U.S. will still have a military presence on the ground in Iraq come 2013, do they get credit for at least answering that question bluntly and honestly?

WEBB: Well, I think what they're struggling with is the reality that wars like this are easy to fall into and they're very difficult to get out of. And I don't think they wanted to be put in a position where they would absolutely be guaranteeing that, but certainly if we got the diplomatic process into place - and I've been saying this for three years - you could have a fairly rapid withdrawal of our troops. But what happens is you get positioned and then you have expectations.

Actually the thing that was very interesting to me last night in debate - and I watched it - was the reaction to this vote yesterday on the situation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards being called a terrorist organization, and that's - I was saying to my colleagues yesterday, when you're voting to do that, you're actually getting yourself into this same situation that people were in when they were leading up to the war in Iraq.

OLBERMANN: Senator, why did any Democrats vote for that even though it was nonbinding and watered down from its original nonbinding form?

WEBB: Well, there's - there is no precedent for terming an entity of an actual foreign government a terrorist organization, none. This was the first time that a vote like that had ever been taken.

There are 42 terrorist organizations listed on the State Department's list and the criteria for putting them on there is to say you have conducted past terrorist acts and that you would be conducting terrorist acts in the future.

Well, you have to ask yourself, what's a terrorist act? Terrorism works along the seams of international law. It's not something that comes out directly out of a military arm of a government. That's a military act.

And what I was saying on the floor, the day before yesterday, is if the Iranian guards are conducting activities that are military in nature, then what we've just voted for is an act of war because they are a part of the Iranian government. It's a very dangerous precedent.

OLBERMANN: Indeed. And to say nothing of the redefinition of the terminology there. Let me ask you one final question about a development from the last two days that pertains to your expertise. Yesterday on his radio program, Rush Limbaugh called service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq - his term was phony soldiers. Do you want to respond to that, Senator?

WEBB: I really regret Mr. Limbaugh saying things like that. We have political diversity inside the military just like we do in the country.

If you look at the - I believe it was the six soldiers who wrote with honor this piece for the "New York Times" not long ago. I think three of them have now died. I think Mr. Limbaugh ought to take a look at that sort of reality, plus the reality of people, like General Zinni, General Scowcroft, who were criticizing and warning about this effort and take a look at that.

I really react strongly when people politicize the service of our military people. They have a wide variety of political viewpoints, from all the way for this to all the way against it, and we need to respect that.

OLBERMANN: Senator Jim Webb of Virginia. Well said, sir, and thank you for stopping by with us.

WEBB: Nice to be with you.

OLBERMANN: This country's evident entrenchment in Iraq, easily the most sobering theme from last nights debate, the surprise on the political front that Senator Obama perhaps did not take on Senator Clinton more aggressively. Former Senator Edwards took many opportunities to contrast himself with Clinton.

But the singular moment for the Senator from New York, possibly a campaign defining moment, where policy and personality converged. Coming in an answer in which she agreed with her Democratic rival but still managed to set herself slightly, but significantly apart, from a former president, her husband.

Moderator Tim Russert had pose a hypothetical in which al Qaeda's number-three man is captured and a bomb will go off in three days. Is torture, he asked, of that prisoner then somehow acceptable?


CLINTON: As a matter of policy, it cannot be American policy, period. I met with those same three and four star retired generals, and their point, in addition to the values that are so important for our country to exhibit, is that there is very little evidence that it works.

RUSSERT: The guest who laid out this scenario for me with that proposed solution was William Jefferson Clinton last year. He disagrees with you.

CLINTON: Well, he's not standing here right now.

RUSSERT: So there is a disagreement?

CLINTON: Well, I'll talk to him later.


OLBERMANN: I spoke with former President Clinton earlier today at the Clinton Global Initiative. The full interview later in this news hour. President Clinton's analysis of that debate and particularly his enthusiastic response to his wife's moment seems best to fit now.


OLBERMANN: While this has been going on, did you get a chance to watch the Democratic debate last night?

B. CLINTON: I watched. I missed the first 15 minutes because I had to go to a party for all these people, but I saw the rest of it. I thought it was interesting. I think it was - I felt bad for them because they've done a lot of these debates and everybody's being told beforehand, you know, here's what you have to accomplish, here is what you have to accomplish. This one started late, 9:00, and then went on for two hours.

So maybe because I've been there before, most viewers won't think this but a lot of them had to be tired after a long day's work, and it required a lot of concentration so you could see - I could see at least the ebb and flow of energy in all the participants.

OLBERMANN: One of the participants had a moment last night. I think it was fairly generally assessed as a single moment in this campaign, when pressed about whether or not she was in agreement with a theory, a theoretical that you had addressed on "Meet the Press" a year ago. There was an apparent disagreement between Senator Clinton and you on this point to which she said, well, he's not standing here right now. What did you think of that?

B. CLINTON: I loved it. I thought to myself, you know, Tim Russert is a very clever interviewer. He thought he had trapped her and, instead, she made the obvious point that if she gets elected, she'll be the president. I won't. She'll make the final call. And I completely agree with her about the policy.

The United States has to be against terror. As a matter of fact, what I really was talking about with Tim Russert was what happens if you have the - people watch "24" and this guy Jack Bauer, he's always - the nuclear weapon is going to explode in five minutes and here is a guy who knows, and what do you do? There's a one in a million chance that happens.

But the United States should be against torture because it's illegal, it's immoral, it doesn't work and it makes our own soldiers vulnerable to torture.

If that ever happened to you, the point I was trying to make to Russert, and you or I or anybody else thought it was a million lives or me beating up this guy you'd probably do it. But you should know it's against the law and should be prepared to take the consequences.

And we shouldn't ever ask the president or the United States of America to be on the side of torture. It's illegal, almost always ineffective, and makes our own people vulnerable to the same sort of treatment.


OLBERMANN: Former president on how to get out of Iraq and how reading glasses can be used to fight poverty.

First, good news from the current White House when it comes to truth, democracy, and the American way. Well, truth anyway. On the official transcript of yesterday's event with schoolchildren in New York this classic from the Bush 43 greatest hits will apparently live in infamy.


BUSH: As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn.


Dana Perino do learn it seems. The president's new press secretary saying she instructed White House stenographers to refix the transcript so it accurately reflected how Mr. Bush misspoke. Before 1:00 p.m. this afternoon, the transcript had read "children do learn." After 1:00 p.m. it read "childrens (sic) do learn." Mrs. Perino saying the integrity of the transcript is very important to me and I made that clear.

President Clinton on the Clinton Global Initiative, Brad Pitt,, and how to get us out of Iraq.

And a foolproof program from this White House on how to get out of bad news coverage of its unconstitutional spy program. Hold training sessions to convince reporters not to report about them.

You are watching "Countdown" on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: If you need evidence how fragile American freedoms can be, look at constitutional wounds that are still raw. The administration's use of secret surveillance programs, legalized by a compliant Congress only after they were disclosed in the media. Or the recently departed attorney general's threat to prosecute reporters for disclosing information he deemed a security breech.

Our fourth story tonight, another lesson on subverting the Constitution by killing the news media with kindness. Reports from the "New York Sun" outlining how the National Security Agency, frustrated by news leaks about it's spying operations, held seminars for reporters at its Fort Mead, Maryland, headquarters between 2002 and 2004.

The sessions taking reporters behind the scenes, dubbed signal intelligence, our Sig In 101, held off the record, of course, asking the reporters to become, in effect, junior deputies in the war on terror by censoring their own work. The NSA giving reporters examples of words and phrases they should use in their stories, according to documents released to that newspaper.

This might trouble our constitutional law expert and friend Jonathan Turley of George Washington University School of law. That's my guess.

John, good evening.


OLBERMANN: There's no word on which reporters attended these sessions or what the outcomes were. We could guess. Which is the worst worm out of the can of worms this opens up?

TURLEY: What's particularly disturbing is they could have held a course at NSA about what to do when a president asks you to commit a crime and to spy on American citizens without a warrant. That would have been a course at that many people could have taken at the NSA but to have the NSA instructing reporters on how to protect our secrets was particularly troubling because at that point the media was on stories that were indicating the government was engaging in a host of unlawful activities, activities ordered by the president of the united states.

OLBERMANN: Now the program reportedly petered out in 2004 about the same time the administration got confrontational about news leaks rather than sort of trying to put a cold arm around a reporter's shoulder. Do you think stories like Abu Ghraib would have come to light if the program had been successful?

TURLEY: Probably not. The course suffers from the instructor. Students take courses for the instructors and the NSA is not a particularly good journalism professor.

But the point is that during this period all those stories that came out, some that won the Pulitzer Prize, probably would not have been released under the guidelines of the NSA but more importantly the media has offered great history of restraint in these matters.

If anything the "New York Times" waited too long to release the story about the NSA domestic surveillance program. I considered it a failure on the part of the "New York Times" to hold on to that story as long as it did past the election, not tell the American citizens that the president had ordered something that was defined by federal law as a crime.

OLBERMANN: In May of last year, you had testified to the House Intelligence Committee on the erosion of protections in this country for the media. Refresh us. What was going on at that time and where does media freedom stand right now?

TURLEY: Well, I think this is part of what motivated both that course and the backlash that came a couple years later. The administration had succeeded in shutting down the legislative branch. The Republicans were not doing any oversight at all over intelligence matters. And that was very effective for this president. He was given a blank check.

They also really did a pretty good job on the judiciary. The judiciary fought for judicial review but the White House was able to gain the system and prevent courts from ruling on critical matters.

To their frustration that left the fourth estate, the press, and they did work exactly the way the framers intended. They came in and disclosed the things Congress refused to look at. So the reaction of the White House was to explore criminal charges against journalists and I think it's all part of the fact that they didn't want any checks and balances whether within the system or from without.

OLBERMANN: It's like a hurricane. Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University. As always, sir, thanks for your Time tonight.

TURLEY: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: President Clinton on the gifts of money and an innovation at his third Global Initiative and what, if anything, will get us out of Iraq.

And if his quotes were taken out of context, why won't Bill O'Reilly play those quotes and context on his show? We're joined by the O'Reilly biographer who thinks Bill's elevator doesn't go to the top floor anymore, ahead.


OLBERMANN: On this date in 1881, the future much major league baseball in Troy, New York, near Albany, became apparent. The Chicago White Stockings were in town to play the Trojans and there were plenty of good seats available. The announced attendance, 12 guys. The National League decided the franchise was better placed down state in New York City.

On that note, let's play "Oddball."

We begin in Winterville, Ohio. Dash cam put into a police chase last Saturday. 19-year-old suspect fleeing cops in a pickup truck at speeds of 80. After a while the perp turns his truck into a ditch and flees on foot. A massive search followed. Cops turned up nothing and sped back to headquarters. During the return trip the cruiser happened across the suspect catching a few z's in the middle of the road. Oh, look, he's so cute when he's sleeping. Police startled the guy and he fled. But he was chased down and juiced up with a taser. Now the real sand man takes over bringing our blanket hugging bandit to Never-Never Land.

This turtle has his head up his arse. Actually it's one of those situations where his head is his "arse." It's a rare turtle that you only find next to the cooling towers of nuclear power plants. At least they'll never have to worry about getting pick-pocketed. The store says it will not sell this turtle. It is hoping to cash in on two-headed turtle pandemonium at turnstiles. Get your ticket now.

Speaking of multiple faces, an O'Reilly biographer's theory, he is now one short of a special and the question of context. If the context of the infamous remarks is so important to him why is he not playing the tape on TV rather than just threatening everybody?

And the context of charitable giving at the height of the political fund-raising season. President Clinton says these are not mutually exclusive and he also tells us there is a way out of Iraq next on "Countdown."


OLBERMANN: Our third story on the Countdown, wait until you hear his story about how giving people loans to sell reading glasses could change the economy and the literacy rate of the world's poorest and most illiterate countries. First, in our third story on the Countdown, the politics of the moment, with our special guest, the 42nd president of the United States, Bill Clinton.


OLBERMANN: Do you think we're being consumed a year in front of the presidential election with phony issues? We have a spasm over an advertisement pertaining to Iraq, but we don't talk about Iraq, or the administration doesn't talk about Iraq. And we don't talk about race but we talk about whether a commentators racial remarks were taken out of context or he is being smeared?

Where's the old '80s ad for the burger company goes, "Where's the beef?"


Well, I think that in our primary I think there has been a lot of substance. We have at least three very serious plans on health care. We have at least four or five very serious, well-thought out plans for how to disengage from Iraq and what we should and shouldn't do and what our obligations are even among those of us who thought it was a mistake to go in.

We have - Hillary has given a very thoughtful education program, and so I think has Senator Edwards. So there has been a lot of beef. I think, frankly, with a campaign that goes on this long, you're bound to have some distractions and the daily news is bound to dominate from time to time. And to be fair, people in your business can only go through their health care plans or education plans so many times.

I think the important thing is to keep doing these debates. I have, I guess - I know some people may get bored with them but I think that the debates have been by and large quite positive experiences that people can try to talk about their differences. But in the end they have to answer the substantive questions.

And I think all these candidates should keep laying out their plans for the future so that the American people can make judgments about their personal strengths and about their policy positions. But you're going to have some of this stuff. I didn't like that debate about the ad because I thought - I admire General Petraeus and I disagree with it. I would never attack him personally. I hate all the personal attacks in politics. I oppose them. I haven't engaged in them.

But I thought that the absolute snit the Republicans went into was a bait and switch. It was just a way to say, oh good, I can take - I can shift the heat to the Democrats. I can shift the heat to MoveOn and I don't have to talk about what really matters, which is, do we really think it's worth hundreds of more deaths and thousands of more wounded to stay this many more months? What are the consequences if we don't? What are our options besides the stay-the-course plan outlined by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, and leaving tomorrow?

It is not like there are just two options here. There are, you know, 50 different things you could do. So I think that those people who called the bait-and-switch what it was were right. For example, I was proud of Senator Boxer, because she introduced the resolution which exposed what happened. She said, OK, let's condemn what they did to Max Cleland, who left half of his body in Vietnam, and was put in an ad with Saddam Hussein and John Walker Lindh. Let's condemn the Swiftboat action, when the guy that paid for that was appointed to an embassy by President Bush.

Let's condemn what they did to John McCain in South Carolina in 2000. He had a pretty good record of sacrifice for this country. So I think that is what we need to do. We need to - every time there is a bait-and-switch and we are taking our eye off the ball, we ought to call it for just what it is and put it behind us.

OLBERMANN: We are doing that when we can.

CLINTON: And Hillary voted against that resolution. I was really proud of her, not because she disrespects General Petraeus. She is on the Armed Services Committee. She likes and admires all of these generals, including the ones with whom she disagrees. And many of the military generals agree with what the Democrats are saying about Iraq.

But that is not the point. The point is that we need to be talking about things that will affect the American people and their lives. And do I think we should not attack people personally? Absolutely.

But do I think we should not allow the inevitable snit, you know, as people's nerves get frayed and they are frustrated and they say things like that, to divert us from what will affect the American people and our interests in the world? That is what I believe.

And the most responsible candidates will always drive it right back to what affects the American people. The elections are supposed to be about them, not the politicians.

OLBERMANN: Do you have an idea, do you have an opinion at this point, how and when we are going to get out of Iraq?

CLINTON: I do. I think - well, I don't - if you ask me, do I know what is going to happen, no, I don't know. But I can tell you what I think should happen. I believe we have really no choice but to begin fairly quickly to reduce our military presence there. And I believe that for several reasons.

First of all, I think when it is clear that we are bringing down our presence, number one, we will bring our people home and probably fewer people will die.

I think that we can do that without undermining what has been done in these two areas where the Sunnis are basically fighting to control their own country again and we are helping them. That is what we should have been doing all along, helping them instead of asking them to help us.

I think that we have to do it because we need to lower the level of violence, because we need to increase the pressure on the Iraqi government to make deals. because we need to mix things up so that the neighbors and the U.N. and all of the other people will engage in diplomatic discussions.

I mean, the Iranian president can come here and say, oh, I want America to leave and I will fill the vacuum. The truth is he is terrified that there will be millions of more refugees and they will all go into Iran and they aggravate his own instability. Iran is not a monolithic country. There are a lot of different ethnic groups there, near where almost all of the refugees would certainly pour in. They would have a lot of problems if this happened.

We could - we need to get more diplomatic movement. And finally, the American military has been badly damaged by this. If we have an emergency, we have no - we will have to fight it with the Navy and the Air Force. We have no Army. We have no Marine Corps. The Guard, the Reserves are either all there or on rotation. And even the Navy Reserves now are being called up, trained in infantry tactics, and deployed to the Iraq Theater. They were supposed to be trained in infantry tactics to be our security reserve in the event of another problem.

Now even Navy Reservists are being sent in to serve with the Army in the theater. So this is a subtext in this whole thing, but I think almost 100 percent of Americans want us to have - are proud of the military, proud that it is capable of doing what it does and would be really alarmed if they knew just how depleted it has been by our commitment of far more troops in Iraq than in Afghanistan, where I think our national security is more at stake.


OLBERMANN: The third Clinton Global Initiative concluding tomorrow here in New York, from rebuilding the ninth ward of New Orleans to building the economy of the poorest nations through reading glasses. More with Bill Clinton. And the latest on O'Reilly, now actually threatening personal revenge against all those who criticized him in the last week, the analysis from a sympathetic O'Reilly biographer ahead her on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Our number two story on the Countdown, more of my interview today with the 42nd president of the United States and his remarkable charity juggernaut. The Clinton Global Initiative, now in its third year, drawing funds to help people from all around the world, even in the smallest ways, and drawing people like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.


KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: This is the annual "can you top this" of charity, of giving, of kindness. Is it more difficult this year in the middle of political (ph) crisis and heavy political fund raising and the contributions that follow that?

CLINTON: No, not really. I mean, the interesting thing to me is how much more interest there is. And I think it is kind of - it's what I want to happen. It's operating kind of independent of the politics, because my whole theory is that in the United States and around the world, you need a strong economy, a good government, and a vibrant civil society.

OLBERMANN: Last year you had "wow" moments. The year before you had "wow" moments. Is there something that stands out that just stops everything in the room?

CLINTON: Well, I think - when we opened yesterday, I think Bishop Tutu, as always, was profoundly eloquent. And we were talking about whether religion was a good or a bad thing. Last year he brought the house down by saying religion is like a knife. If you use it to cut bread, it is good. If you use it to cut off your neighbor's arm, it is bad. So since that time there have been a whole spate of books written in America about how terrible religion is because it's polluting politics around the world.

And Tutu talked about in Burma today how all of these Buddhist monks are risking their lives to try to free Aung San Suu Kyi and restore democracy. And the way he did it just took my breath away.

Then there have been small things. For example, one of our most interesting commitments was a person who committed a relatively small amount of money, in the context of this, a couple of million dollars, to set up thousands of people in small businesses in the developing world to sell reading glasses. It turns out in poor countries only five percent of the people who can read but need reading glasses to read get them. So you can help - this project will help hundreds of thousands of people, and in the process create a whole new sector of the economy, a lot of small businesses.

A lot of people say, I never would have thought of that. And we always have that where people are coming to us with simple ideas, you know, buying bikes for people so they will have a way to make a living in poor countries.

Yesterday Brad Pitt made a big impression on people because he said he would give five million of his own money to with his friends (INAUDIBLE) who would give five million and people would match it to rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans with green houses. So that when the lower income workers move back to the Ninth Ward, they will have better houses than they had before, and it will cost them less to run because the utility bills will be so much lower.

And people thought, wow, that is a good thing, I hadn't thought of that, that we could actually give them better houses and lower costs if we do it in this way.


OLBERMANN: Still more from President Bill Clinton and his Global Initiative tomorrow night on Countdown at 8:00 Eastern, 5:00 Pacific.

From the sublime to the ridiculous. If Bill O'Reilly was taken out of context, why doesn't he play the tape of the context on his TV show? Bill-O's sympathetic biographer thinks the situation is much worse than we realize. And Bill is now threatening people. That's ahead. Time for Countdown's worst persons in the world, other worst persons.

The bronze to John Gibson of Fixed Noise, again lying about the funding for Media Matters, the watchdogs who caught O'Reilly. Says Gibby, George Soros is after Bill O'Reilly and he's enlisted the help of CNN and NBC. As for NBC and CNN, they should be embarrassed. It's the real journalists inside those two places that need to stand up and revolt.

We did, John. We fired you.

Runner up tonight, Fixed News in general, it has apparently declared war on Iran. Sean Hannity announced a mission, Iran showdown to destroy nuclear facilities there and cripple the regime. Fox Noise is presenting a special on Iran called "Ticking Bomb" this weekend hosted conveniently enough by Dan Senor, the former press flak for coalition forces in Iraq.

Rupert, you want to go bomb Iran, make it clear you're not acting on behalf of any Americans.

But our winner, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, offering National Public Radio an interview with the president providing that the White House could pick the interviewer. It's not done that way in real news organizations nor in real free countries incidentally. Plus, the White House hand which can choice was Juan Williams, now best known as Bill O'Reilly's chief apologist and a man who once compared David Letterman to murderer John Wayne Gacy because Letterman asked Bill-O tough questions.

NPR politely declined the administration's latest attempt to bully the free press. But certainly that did not wipe the frozen small off the face of White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, today's Worst Person in the World.


OLBERMANN: Tonight, as in the past few days, Bill O'Reilly has devoted large sections of his shows to defending himself against critics who pointed out the racism in his surprise that people in a black-owned restaurant know how to order iced tea without cursing about somebody's mother. Mr. O'Reilly has again questioned why no one is addressing the context of his remarks, which is confusing to some degree, given that he has refused to play the recording of those remarks with or without full context on his own show.

For people other than O'Reilly, the primary question has been whether he knew what he said was racist. But in our number one story tonight, it's time to consider another question, is Bill ill? Not to equate racism with mental defect, although the argument can be made, but last night Mr. O'Reilly demonstrated some classic signs of paranoia and an inability to distinguish between the rest of the world and the contents of his own head.

It began with his litany of wrong doers.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Besides CNN, the worst offender in the case is the "New York Daily News," the CBS Early Show, which actually described Media Matters as a watchdog group. How dishonest is that? The "Chicago Sun Times," the "Philadelphia Inquirer,", and the "Louisville Journal" also completely distorted the story.


OLBERMANN: In Mr. O'Reilly's defense, not everyone is apparently out to get him. He credited sympathetic coverage from one TV program, one newspaper, and a guy.


O'REILLY: The following outfits were fair, "The Today Show," Newsday, and Stephen Smith of ESPN.


OLBERMANN: By the way, when you're down to Stephen A. Smith, you're finished. Tonight, he pleaded with Jesse Jackson to condemn CNN and those fair journalists did not stop him from extrapolating that because how his remarks have been quoted, the news media, all of it, every single practitioner of journalism in every medium in the United States of America can no longer be trusted.


O'REILLY: The tragedy here is that there is no longer an honest press in America. Americans should be very skeptical of the news media. No longer can it be trusted.


OLBERMANN: We haven't trusted you in ten years. Then today he took it to the next logical step, and by logical I mean vague mumbled threats of retribution from the King Lear of Levittown.


O'REILLY: These people aren't going to get away with this. I'm going to go right where they live. Every corrupt media person in this country is on notice right now. I'm coming after you. I'm going to hunt you down and I mean it. The smear stops here. You're all on notice out there. I'm coming for you.


OLBERMANN: Let's turn now to an authentic O'Reilly biographer, Marvin Kitman, who interviewed the man 29 times for his book, the man who would not shut up, and we should point out, has many favorable things to say about Mr. O'Reilly. And also, as a disclaimer here, has written an embarrassingly nice cover story about me in the current issue of "The Nation." Marvin, good evening.

MARVIN KITMAN, AUTHOR: Good evening. Boy, you're really scaring me with that list of things that O'Reilly is going to do to us.

OLBERMANN: Yes, I know. I'm going to wear a helmet from now on. Listen, I want to quote from your blog on the "Huffington Post," your column, and there's a blank in here. Fill in the blank for me. When I began studying him, O'Reilly, he was a semi-demented TV newsman. But lately he seems to be blanking it. Please fill in the blank.

KITMAN: To use the technical word, losing it. He seems more unhinged than usual. You can tell in his debates, for example, he has two people that are debating an issue, when we're lucky. But even when somebody is on his side, if they're slightly off, like one degree, he comes down on them and he's just about ready to implode, I can see looking at him.

And he has a tendency, as you pointed out - he seems to have a case of paranoia. Everybody is against him, which is, you know, I guess partly true. And he has an increased tendency now to make mistakes. He always seems to be putting his foot where his mouth belongs. The most recent example is his debut as a restaurant critic at Sylvia's in Harlem. And I would like to say that I have analyzed his problem as he has a case of Achilles mouth.

OLBERMANN: Now this defense, which we hear a lot, but in this case he's used it to the extreme and repeatedly; I was taken out of context. Would it not make sense to play the whole tape of the comment which was on radio about this restaurant, Sylvia's Restaurant, and the clientele and the ownership? Wouldn't it make sense to play it in full context on the television show that you own and operate? Is he afraid to do that? What's the psychology there, do you think?

KITMAN: What you don't understand, Keith, is the context may be worse than the excerpts of it. And he would look even more unhinged if you actually heard what he was saying. What I was amazed about that - his going to Sylvia's restaurant that he actually went to a restaurant. You know, he doesn't go out very much. One, he's afraid people are going to get him. They're after him.

Secondly, he's very cheap. He's the most awesomely frugal person in the history of TV journalism. You know, I had 29 interviews with him and he never once would go out to lunch or dinner with me. And it's not only me, but he makes 50 million dollars a year, and when he takes out his friends, they all split the check. And so that was one of the great things about him.

OLBERMANN: The untold story of Sylvia's. He bought. Unlike the Imus case last spring, there seems to be less outcry at this time, at least at this time. Maybe there would be later. But is there a confirmation in that, that society at-large understands there's some sort of diminished capacity here, and has no expectation of morality from him or from the people he works for or why the different reaction?

KITMAN: Well, that's one way to look at it. If there was a basketball team involved, it might have been different. And it is food they're talking about in restaurants. And I just think that Imus is considered much more of a threat to society than Bill O'Reilly. And, you know, Keith, I don't have much time here, but I do want to say that you are responsible for contributing to O'Reilly's seeming to be unhinged.

By your mentioning him all the time, you are making a star out of him. You know, he lives for media attention. It is spinach. He's like Popeye and he has to get involved with some network or some newspaper column or some book and you're doing it. I should point that out to you. You might not be aware of it.

OLBERMANN: It's been brought up a couple of times in a couple of places. I guess we're going to have to leave the question of what we can do to help in his time of crisis.

KITMAN: I think he's on the verge of having a breakdown. I think he needs psychiatric help and, of course, he told me that he would never pay a psychiatrist money to listen to him. And I would suggest we have a telethon in his honor to raise money.

OLBERMANN: Marvin Kitman, author of "The Man Who Would Not Shut Up, The Rise of Bill O'Reilly." Great thanks for being our Sherpa guide as we go inside the big giant head of Bill O'Reilly.

Tomorrow night, the other hints of racism you have not heard from that same O'Reilly radio broadcast. For now, that's Countdown for this 1,611th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Sept. 26
video 'podcast'

Guests: Eugene Robinson

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The Democratic presidential debate is in one hour. "Countdown" starts now.

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

Another bill from the bottomless death and money pit that is Iraq and Afghanistan, $190 billion. $42 billion over even the most recent budget.


SEN. ROBERT BYRD, (D), VIRGINIA: Billion, billion, billion dollars.


OLBERMANN: And a funny thing happened as the defense secretary presented that bill. He was reportedly going to invoke, quote, "the honor, courage and great sense of duty we have witnessed in our troops since September 11th."

Instead, Mr. Gates actually cited.


ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The honor, courage and great sense of duty we have witnessed from our troops under some of the most trying conditions.


OLBERMANN: The president leaves his prepared text too, leaving a whooper, even for him.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As yesterday's positive report cards shows, childrens do learn.


OLBERMANN: Not all childrens evidently.

Larry Craig tries to withdraw his guilty plea.

The Democrats start the debate. The growing sense that Senator Clinton's deluge with Chris Matthews in New Hampshire.

The vote is already in. 10 million votes are already in on what to do with the Barry Bonds' ball.

And part one of our series, "Out to Lunch". Will FOX finally fire Bill O.? Or will his giant head just implode of its own accord.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX HOST, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": I couldn't get over the fact that there wasn't no different between Silvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. It was exactly the same even it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship.

CNN has joined NBC News in parroting far-left propaganda in an attempt to destroy me and the FOX News channel and to deceive their viewers.


OLBERMANN: As he said today in "The Boston Globe," quote, "Why would I bother with these people?"

All that and more, now, on "Countdown."


BUSH: And certain childrens cannot learn.


OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. The Bush administration's effort to scare or shame Congress into doing its bidding, in this case giving it $190 billion more dollars for the war Iraq, by inviting the 9/11 attacks took two hits, one symbolic, one judicial.

A fifth story in the "Countdown," tonight a federal judgment in Portland has ruled that two provisions of the PATRIOT Act are unconstitutional. Because they permit, quote, "The executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment."

This was in that suit by Brandon Mayfield, the Oregon attorney who was mistakenly linked by the FBI to the Madrid train bombings. More on this in a moment.

The symbolism today. Defense Secretary Robert Gates evidently departing from the prepared text of his opening statements on Capitol Hill. Dropping a planned reference to the 9/11 attacks. This is not to say Mr. Gates is not still actively working for the administration. He did he use the phrase complete global war on terror request this afternoon to describe the nearly $190 billion increase in spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nothing loaded in that phrase.

The increase itself increased approximately $42 billion more than the Defense Department had anticipated, as recently as two months ago. You know, before General Petraeus testified to Congress.

The Appropriations Committee chair, Robert Byrd, not amenable to the sudden 29 percent jump in the war budget.


BYRD: We do not create a democracy at the point of a gun. Sending more guns does not change that reality. And this committee will not, n-o-t, not rubber stamp every request that is submitted by the president.



OLBERMANN: Would, were it was so. Fear mongering, having proven to be an effective tactic for the administration at times like these, also drawing links between Iraq and 9/11, links that did not exist before the 2003 invasion.

In an advance copy of Secretary Gates opening statement giving to the Senate Appropriations Committee and forwarded to "Countdown" late today, they were supposed to praise U.S. forces for, quote, "the honor, courage, and great sense of duty since September 11th." However, in delivery, Mr. Gates ended that phrase early.


GATES: I would like to close with a word about something I believe we can all agree on, the honor, courage, and great sense of duty we have witnesses in our troops.


OLBERMANN: And now we'll call in Craig Crawford, columnist for "Congressional Quarterly" magazine


OLBERMANN: It didn't go as scripted, because what the secretary said in the afternoon did not match the advanced copy of his remarks, the one on the associated press. Is the White House used to having a major player stray from the script?

CRAWFORD: Even General Petraeus, although he trotted the party line, carried water for the White House in many ways, backed off when asked if the war in Iraq actually made Americans safer. He said he didn't know, didn't want to answer that question.

A lot of the military folks, even though secretary Gates is a civil an official, there is a lot of fallout of military people after General Petraeus really somewhat disturbed at how he was drawn into being a political player, as opposed to a military leader. And I think Secretary Gates was probably very conscious of how radioactive it is to bring up 9/11 in connection with any discussion of Iraq.

OLBERMANN: Yeah, Petraeus was turned into the equivalent of Kitchener from World War I with the British with the ads, the guy pointing the finger at the would-be volunteers.

It was in February when the Pentagon submitted KWT for $142 billion to fund Iraq and Afghanistan, by July, $147. The number is now up by another third to nearly $190. Is it coincidence that the Defense Department did not figure it was low in estimates until after General Petraeus testified?

CRAWFORD: You really get the feeling, Keith, that there is sort of like a retail seller, always trying to find that - that point of price resistance. As much as you can charge without people actually - without actually losing sales. $190 billion sounds like 1995 because people resist paying $20. And I think they will receive the politically largest number they can get that can get through Congress and this sounds like they might be close to it.

OLBERMANN: Much better than saying $200 billion.

CRAWFORD: Yeah, yeah.

OLBERMANN: As Senator Byrd suggested today in this apoplectic fit that he had. It's great - it was great theater, great verbiage, and you have to admire him saying it. But when do we expect him or any other Democrats to follow through on their threats when it comes to passing the war funding supplemental? They don't need 60 votes to set up a filibuster if they want to go to the last straw and literally the last sleeping mat.

CRAWFORD: Senator Byrd is one of the most frustrated lawmakers on Capitol Hill, going to the original debate before the invasion of Iraq. I recall being there and watching him, and he turned to an aide when only a handful of Senators showed up, and he turned to an aide and says where is everybody? He feels he has always been out front with the party and the rest of the party hadn't always listened to him.

There is going to be a change. And what we're seeing is a switch from the Iraq war debate, no longer a policy debate it is purely a political debate. The only thing that will change the direction in Iraq is the next election. And Democrats have to win the White House and have to get a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate to do that. The House looks like Democrats will hold. At, my colleagues did survey work this week, showing House Democrats will get majority if things go as they seem they are.

OLBERMANN: One other thing. Saber rattling with Iran and the whole template being played out again, at least symbolically. What are we supposed to make politically out of the passage of the Kyle-Lieberman Amendment? They took out the most egregious passages, about military action and such, but it calls for them to brand the Revolutionary Guards of Iran a terrorist revolution. And it passed 76-22. It sounds all too familiar, even if it was nonbinding.

CRAWFORD: Nonbinding, in the sense of a Senate resolution. If it were anymore than that, I could see this administration turning it into a declaration of war. That would be authorization, I mean, that was the scary thing about this kind of vote. But it was purely nonbinding. So I think that's critical and in the future, we'll see if the Democrats, you know, stay this line. But there are - there's a lot of sentiment to get tough on Iran in both parties.

OLBERMANN: Craig Crawford of MSNBC and "Congressional Quarterly". Thank you for your time.

CRAWFORD: Good to be here.

OLBERMANN: And, yes, this is our government today, dropping one exploitative reference to the greatest tragedy of modern history as part of a demand to fund a phenomenally unpopular war. That is news. Note again, just one dropped reference.

Let's turn to Rachel Maddow, whose program airs every night on Air America radio.


OLBERMANN: DNI, McConnell saying for the third time, debating changes for the FISA act saying Americans will die. Gates pulled his punch on the 9/11 remark, but still called the funding increase, the official brand name, complete global war on terror request. We can safely assume that the effort to control White House by politicizing the 9/11 was not damaged by Gates, that this campaign is alive and well?

MADDOW: I think the campaign is alive and well. I feel like the exploitation of 9/11 is worse now than it's ever been. It's almost like six years was the magic amount of time that had to elapse before people became completely naked and shameless. Now we're getting repeated, overt references from the president about fighting the perpetrators of 9/11 in Iraq. We're seeing the leading Republican candidate, Rudy Giuliani, backing very awkwardly away by a plan from his fundraiser raising money in $9.11 increments. I feel like all bets are off in anybody having any shame about exploiting 9/11. It feels worse to me than it's ever been.

OLBERMANN: I think you're right. Anything to be done to make it stop? Particularly the administration or candidate Giuliani or anybody else? Anything we can do about it?

MADDOW: The reason that 9/11 is politically effective, it's defective as a distraction. They are never talking about 9/11 when they are bringing it up in political terms. There are never talking about catching Osama bin Laden. They're never actually talk about taking care of the first responders who were injured during that time and during that recovery.

So the more specific you get about 9/11, the more it makes it awkward to use it as a distraction for other things. So I have seen - and I'm encouraged by seeing among some of the Democrats in Congress, particularly by Russ Feingold, but by others as well, a move toward actually getting back to real references to 9/11, really catching Osama bin Laden, really going after the real al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And I think those things, to say 9/11 is not a distraction, it's a real thing that requires a real response, can take the wind out of sails as a political tactic a little bit.

OLBERMANN: Democrats were among those in the house that voted for the companion move here, condemning in the strongest possible terms the personal attacks made by the advocacy group, impugning the integrity and professionalism of David H. Petraeus. Why would a Democrat vote for this?

MADDOW: I had Senator Byron Jorgen on my show tonight. He's someone I agree with on a lot of things. He voted for that in the Senate. It passed the House today. He voted for the Kyle-Lieberman amendment, which you just spoke with Craig Crawford about. It's very, very frustrating to us that hoped that a Democratic-led Congress would result in change on protecting the Constitution and ending the war, to see the only things actually passing the Senate on the house on the big issues of national security and the Constitution, the only things that are passing are Republican and Joe Lieberman-inspired amendments like they. To see the Republican filibuster stop the Jim Webb amendment and everything constructive on the war. But to see the MoveOn condemnation thing sail through both houses, it's incredibly demoralizing.

OLBERMANN: Especially considering that phrase was coined by comedian Rush Limbaugh. Are you cheered by this ruling from Portland from the federal district judge that two provisions of the PATRIOT Act are unconstitutional because they are allowing search warrants without probable cause?

MADDOW: I am. This is distraction versus the real goal and we've learned again and again, whether it's eves dropping, or the FISA law, or torture or offshore prisons, all of the things that have shredded the Constitution, it's a destruction, is a distraction. They want to shred the Constitution. It hasn't made us any safer. And this is one of those rulings, one those cracks of light, where somebody says, actually, it hadn't made us safer, let's restore the Constitution. It's nice to see the distraction wiped away and get us back to the real goal of making the country better off.

OLBERMANN: Rachel Maddow of the "Rachel Maddow Show" on Air America. Thank you for your time.

MADDOW: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Nearly seven years into the Bush administration, anyone wondering why this president had not had a grammatical club truly worthy of his father's Dan Quayle need wonder no longer. It came in a made for TV event with a group of New York City school children. Bush urging Congress to reauthorize his No Child Left Behind Act.


BUSH: As yesterday's positive report cards shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured.


OLBERMANN: Childrens do learn. That's the funny part.

But here is where it turns no so funny. The White House press office has cleaned up that portion of the official transcript. It reads "children do learn." The "S" magically disappeared. The White House, thus, putting itself in auspicious company just this week.

Guess who else cleaned up the official transcript of an event from a day ago? The website of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad removing the entire portion of his speech Monday at Columbia University and the question and answer session where he was asked about and said there were no homosexuals in Iran.

Awe, the Internet.

One Republican finally files a brief, another unexpected fires another top campaign staffer amid mysterious circumstances. Breaking news on that.

And are the storm clouds gathering around Bill O'Reilly? He screams he was taken out of context. Turns out the context of his racist remarks were as bad as the remarks themselves. The breaking news ahead.

You're watching "Countdown" on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Rudy Giuliani's chief campaign fundraiser has been fired tonight. Ann Dunsmore no longer working on the campaign, says a Giuliani spokesperson.

The fourth story on the "Countdown," this is part of a bad day for Giuliani, and for a second prominent Republican. We'll get to Larry Craig's story in a moment.

First, Giuliani who had a fundraiser tonight, said he had nothing to do with how much money his campaign had raised, even though it's just four days until the latest fundraising figures have to be publicly revealed. One source telling the "Washington Post" this was about Ms. Dunsmore's style as it related to volunteers on the state level. Another saying it's about money, quote, "If they had blown throw their target, the style wouldn't have mattered."

And another odd juxtaposition, this is the night of the 9/11 for Rudy fundraiser in Palo Alto, California, in which contributors were asked to pay $9.11 to get in. That exploitation of 9/11 had already been roundly denounced. Giuliani telling local reporters the campaign will not accept those donations, that it was a bad idea by a couple of volunteers, and they weren't going to be doing it tonight. We don't know if it's the case yet.

There has not been this much continuing discussion of restrooms, since the Nickel Lock Company moved to outlaw pay toilets. The puns just keep on coming as Senator Larry Craig refuses to leave the public stage, and as he finally adjusts his legal stance in the retracting a guilty plea and continues to serve in the Senate as a right wing water carrier.

The Senators legal team officially asking a Minneapolis judge to throughout an earlier plea of guilty, to reduce the charges of disorderly conduct after an airport sex sting last June. Led by attorney Billy Martin, the team asking for a jury trial, arguing whatever foot tapping and finger waving the Senator Craig did with an undercover cop, that did not constitute a crime, that he did consult a lawyer and panicked under pressure.

According to prosecutors, however, Craig was anything but panicked. He called them several times to talk calmly about his arrest and his legal options and had eight weeks after his arrest to finally decide whether or not he was guilty.

After the hearing, the Senator who stayed in Washington amid nervous colleagues issued this statement, quote, "Today was a major step in the legal effort to clear my name. The court has not issued a filing on my motion to withdraw my guilty pleas. For now, I will continue my work in the United States Senate for Idaho."

No more stalling, let's call upon our own Dana Milbank at the "Washington Post".

Dana, good evening.


OLBERMANN: To Giuliani in a moment. Frist, this judge says he's probably not going to decide about this guilty plea overturn until late next week and the Senator's self-imposed deadline, the 30th, Sunday. Where does this leave the resignation?

MILBANK: It leaves it hanging, so to speak. The deadlines are being extended. Timetables being fudged. Sounds a little like the Iraq war. But I suspect it won't be that way for long. The judge was very skeptical of Larry Craig's lawyer's case today. Much lighter on the prosecution so this may just be a temporary delay until his resignation.

OLBERMANN: You're a bystander to history. You witnessed Craig and some of his Senate colleagues greeting each other recently.

MILBANK: I did. It was in full public view.

OLBERMANN: Thank you. We're getting details besides that? Were they sympathetic to him?

MILBANK: They are not terribly happy to see him. McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, would barely make eye contact, certainly wouldn't shake his hand. They were not happy to see him behind closed doors either. There was Arlen Specter, who is championing the cause by saying there is favorable talk about Larry Craig in the cloak room. Not sure how that helps the case.

OLBERMANN: Has there been in this occasion we all anticipated that if he stayed around, notice how I use the word stayed around this would be a constant scandal. But has there been a silver lining here for Republicans, only that the David Vitter call girl problem didn't bubble to the surface and the Ted Stevens FBI saga didn't really hit full flush?

MILBANK: Well, maybe, but I think that nobody is tapping their toes more anxiously than the Republicans in the Senate as they worry and hope that he will, in fact, resign. It may, in the short run, push out other negative stories. That's true, but the last thing they want is to have him there during the election time. So as long as the Democrats can holler about the wide stance, I would expect the Republicans to be in a defensive crouch.

OLBERMANN: Lastly, Giuliani fires the top fundraiser four days before the fourth quarter of fund-raising and it's not about the money. Is it about that 9/11 fundraiser?

MILBANK: I'll bet you $91.10 it has something to do with fund-raising. Probably the event in California was low enough that wouldn't matter. The numbers are very pour for Giuliani and the other candidates. Giuliani is under a lot of pressure because his front-runner status has been challenged quite a bit lately.

OLBERMANN: Our own Dana Milbank, national political reporter of the "Washington Post". Thank you.

MILBANK: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: And what about the mascots? Won't somebody think about the mascots?

And he has blasphemied American victims of Nazi war crimes, he has lied about himself and others, often faster than anybody can count, but has Bill O'Reilly met his own Waterloo at a restaurant in Harlem in New York City? The latest on Bill O.'s naked lunch, ahead on "Countdown."


OLBERMANN: We forget the meaningingfulness of an anniversary like this. 47 years ago, Vice President Richard Nixon and Senator John Kennedy participated in the first of four broadcasted presidential debates. Today, they are common place. I hosted one last month. Tim Russert does his tonight. I believe the Discovery channel has an underwater debate planned for next month. But the one on September 26, 1960e, was the first two presidential debates in the country's history. Democrats Adela Stevenson and Estes Cabarber (ph) had debated in 1956, Republicans Thomas Dewey and Harold Stassen in 1948 on radio. But the famous Abraham Lincoln-Steven A. Douglas debates of 1858 - they were running for the Senate.

On that note, let's play "Oddball."

We begin on the gridiron on what is an ugly trend on modern sideline entertainment. Mascot on mascot violence. A trend first revealed during the Oregon Ducks and Houston Cougars basketball game. The cougar lay there helpless and the duck thrust his pelvis at him in a demeaning manner.

The violence is spreading. In the James Madison Coastal Carolina game. Watch as the chicken thing takes down JMU's Duke the dog, not once but twice. Down goes Duke the dog. And thanks for the help, cheerleaders. Stadium security stepped in, stopping what was clearly an act of senseless violence, or perhaps an act to get the mascots on the old YouTube.

To Maiden, North Carolina, we find Mark Whiznet (ph) and the second-hand smoker he bought at auction. It's a slow-motion barbecue. He did not look under the hood before he bought his smoker. After he got it home, he found inside a human foot and leg. Ew! We will not show you that. He said it looked like a shriveled piece of fruit. Whoever is how he broke the news to his family?


MARK WHIZNET (ph), SMOKER OWNER: I said there it is. Look at it. I layed it down, they looked at it. And they looked at me puzzled, what you going to do? And I said I'm taking it back where I bought it.


OLBERMANN: Sorry, pal, no refunds. Refunds, refunds? He did track down the leg's owner, who had his knee amputated and kept it in the smoker, perhaps waiting for the foot fairy to come and swap it out for a dollar or something.

Bill O., he might have bitten off more than he could chew at Silvia's restaurant in Harlem in New York City. The ground may be opening up beneath him on this one.

And the fate of the Barry Bond's ball just Barry Bonds ball decided. These stories ahead, but first time for our goof balls and good guys. Here are Countdown's top three best persons in the world.

Number three, best hyperbole, Secretary of State Rice; he was diabolically brilliant, she says. I think he was an outstanding organizer. When you here people say, well, if you kill one of them, they'll replace him with another leader; remember, that's just like saying, you know, if you take out Robert E. Lee or Ulysses S. Grant, they'll just replace them with another leader. To whom is she comparing Grant and Lee? Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. OK, I need to physically see these degrees you say you have, doctor.

Number two, best save, coach Doug Sauter of the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Hockey League. He saved countless injuries by personally stopping a stampede of frightened horses at the Oklahoma State Fair. How did he do it? He bit the ear of one of the frightened horses. It immediately froze in place. That, said Coach Sauter, is how you stymie a horse. You bite as hard as you can and it won't move. Good work, coach. And thanks for the tip.

Number one, best new rule. The head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association says the epidemic at Mount Everest can only be stopped by strict regulation. It is time to formally prohibit nude mountain climbing. When a Nepali climber disrobed last year while at the 29,035 foot summit in temperatures of 14 degrees Fahrenheit, that was bad enough. But now, says Ang Chering (ph), a Dutch man has become the first ever to climb Mount Everest wearing only shorts.


OLBERMANN: For some of us, it's something akin to looking out over the street where you live for years watching a pothole get bigger and bigger, seeing cars first bottoming out on it, then losing hub cabs before it, and then crashing and finally being swallowed hole inside it. And then one morning out of nowhere, 497 different repair crews show up at the same time, along with the mayor and governor and Richard Branson.

Our third story in the Countdown fact or fiction, and Bill O'Reilly is in big trouble, and seems to be desperately trying to tamp down what might be seismic gurglings beneath him, not unlike the ones that erupted into the Don Imus crisis of last Spring. Mr. O'Reilly accused of racial insensitivity, quote, quite reprehensible remarks, according to a member of the National Black Chamber of Commerce in a saga that has now transcended the normal avenues of Bill-O criticism to merit coverage by "The Associated Press, "USA Today," a food critic blog from the "New York Times," even CNN.

The money quote, of course, you know. The full context in a moment; "couldn't get over the fact," O'Reilly told his audience, "that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean it was exactly the same, even though it's run by black, primarily black patronship."

The story was the centerpiece of CNN programming the last few days and got a few mentions on this network. With the perfect convenience of timing, in today's "Boston Globe," Mr. O'Reilly explained that he has long since given up responding to criticism. Quoting him again, "I learned my lesson with Al Franken a few years ago. Gutter snipes are inconsequential. The level of dishonesty in that realm is so dramatic now. These people are doing it for money and I'm not going to play the game. Nobody is close to me at 8:00 p.m. And the rerun at 11:00 p.m. beats everybody. That's the rerun. Nobody's even in the ball game. Why would I bother with these people?"

Which would explain Bill's calm, rational, and dispassionate devoting of the first two segments of his comedy hour last night and the first two tonight to bothering with these people, in particular the ones at CNN.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Stunningly, CNN echoed the defamation on at least three of its programs. The reason CNN did this is because its rating are abysmal. It is getting hammered by Fox News. So they're desperate for attention.


OLBERMANN: Exactly, why would you bother with these people by giving them attention. The daily NBC references, of course, are complaints about Ali Larder (ph) from "Heroes" no doubt. O'Reilly also tried to construct an I was taken out of context defense today, never addressing what he said on his broadcast tonight, nor getting the defense he expected from guest Al Sharpton, who instead said what he had read disturbed him, but he had yet to hear the actual tape.

O'Reilly merely again just attacking those organizations which criticized him. Add ABC and CBS to the list tonight. And citing an unscientific online poll which his website has been directing users to all day, as if it were a jury vote, though even it shows support from only six in 10 respondents.

About context, O'Reilly insists this was about a positive change in perceptions of African Americans, compared to say, the perception of his own maternal grand mother who feared and hated them. O'Reilly did invoke his grandmother, but only after he talked about how he couldn't get over the fact that Sylvia's restaurant was like any non-black owned restaurant. The context preceding the fateful anecdote was, in fact, a story that meandered from O.J. Simpson to something nearly as disturbing as that Sylvia's story.


O'REILLY: I think black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves, and they're getting away from the Sharptons and the Jacksons and the people trying to lead them into a race-based culture.


OLBERMANN: Sharpton, who is on his show tonight, and Jackson will be on the show tomorrow. Then came the story of Reverend Al and Sylvia's and MF-ers and iced tea and Bill O'Reilly out to lunch.


O'REILLY: I was up in Harlem a few weeks ago, and I actually had dinner with Al Sharpton, who is a very, very interesting guy. You know, when Sharpton and I walked in, it was like a big commotion and everything, but everybody was very nice. And I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City.

I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship. It was the same. This is what white America doesn't know, particularly people who don't have a lot of interaction with black Americans. They think that the culture is dominated by Twista (ph), Ludacris and Snoop Dogg.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's just so awful, because it's literally the sewer come to the surface and now people take it that the sewer is the whole story.

O'REILLY: That's right. That's right. There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming MF-er, I want more iced tea.


OLBERMANN: So much for the exculpatory context. Let's turn to Eugene Robinson, associate editor, columnist at the "Washington Post," also a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. Gene, good evening.

EUGENE ROBINSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Hi, Keith. Let me warn you up front. Even though I'm black, I'm going to speak standard English tonight. So I don't want you to be surprised or shocked, and I'm going to think for myself too, which I know you'll be stunned.


ROBINSON: But this is - this is incredible, but this is O'Reilly. This is the guy.

OLBERMANN: And it's text book prejudice. He expected something because of the color of people's skin. It doesn't matter if he was pleasantly surprised or had his prejudice reinforced. Is this the most insidious part of this? He doesn't know that is racism by definition?

ROBINSON: Well, you know, I'm not going to go inside Bill O'Reilly's head. Is he racist, what does he know? All I know is that it was, at best, a casually racist remark. But you know what really ticks me off is that when you say that, when you point that out, you know, immediately you get charged by O'Reilly and cohorts with, you know, you're the thought police; you're the thought Gestapo; you're the word Nazis; you are interfering with free speech and somehow cutting off an honest debate about race.

Well, you know, tell me what in the year 2007 is debatable about whether or not black people can use a knife and fork? I don't think that's debatable at this point.

OLBERMANN: As to the attack part, he also defended NBC and the "Today Show" in the broadcast this evening and attacked CBS and ABC. This is a very fluid situation from his point of view. Let me play devil's advocate on one part of this. I keep thinking of Al Campanis, the baseball general manager who 20 years ago on Jackie Robinson Day, said black baseball figures did not have, in his terms, the necessities to be team managers or executives, and he helpfully pointed out just as they could not swim. Campanis grew up in this xenophobic immigrant community in New York, and he grew way past it.

He was Jackie Robinson's first double play partner in the minor leagues, his first friend. He went into management. He hired the first black talent scouts and minor league coaches in the '50s. He was an advocate, but he hit a wall that he didn't realize was there. Are there similarities between him and the kind of O'Reilly prejudice, where you may not mean something racist, but you're doing it anyway?

ROBINSON: I think one key thing you just said was 20 years ago. This was 1987. Look, Al Campanis you could have sympathy for. He was in many ways a very sympathetic figure. He hit a wall, but he genuinely didn't know it was there. He had grown up in a time when that sort of casual racism was accepted in polite society, and he was a baseball guy. Bill O'Reilly is a professional communicator who speaks to a couple million people every night. You would think, you know, he's aware of what's coming out of his mouth and how it sounds.

And, again, it's the year 2007. You know, we should have been - we should have gotten beyond this point. But apparently, you know, in that thicket that is Bill O'Reilly's mind, we're still there, somehow, trying to - trying to figure out, you know, black people, boy, they are starting to think for themselves now.

OLBERMANN: Would this have been tamped down with even one of those phony - if anyone took offense, I apologize. Or was this a tipping point waiting to happen, like the career of Don Imus?

ROBINSON: This isn't the first time that O'Reilly has walked this line, but he's not really an apologetic guy. That's not my impression and I think that would - that would not be true to who he is. So what would you expect him to do, other than to kind of, you know, with his characteristic bluster, tough it out and say everybody else is wrong. I'm right and I'm the victim of a vast left-wing conspiracy, which I guess you and I are participants at the moment. There you have it.

OLBERMANN: Maybe not, because I'm with NBC and we're on the good list today. I have to ask you this last thing. If you're trying to kill the messenger, is it tone deaf, is it Freudian or is it just unintentional comic relief, when O'Reilly says of the critics, particularly the one at CNN who accused him of racism, that they have now entered the dark side? What the hell is that?

ROBINSON: That's really tone deaf and that was the headline on the website item as well. You know, again, at the very least really, really clueless. And if you are going to have an honest debate about race, maybe you ought to educate yourself a little bit, and think about it before you start mouthing off.

OLBERMANN: Eugene Robinson, columnist and associate editor with "The Washington Post." Even under these circumstances, always a pressure.

ROBINSON: You too Keith.

OLBERMANN: Shoot it into space, mark it with an asterisk or leave it be? After 10 million votes, the verdict is in on the Barry Bonds home run baseball. And not a vote cast, but we seem to be on the verge of declaring one Democrat the club house leader. Our Countdown to tonight's Democratic debate. Chris Matthews will join me from Dartmouth. Stand by.


OLBERMANN: The great debate is over, not the Hillary, Barack, John, Joe and company debate. That starts at the top of this hour. We're talking about, in our number two story on the Countdown, the debate over what to do with the baseball that Barry Bonds hit for his dubious 756th career home run. Fashion designer, entrepreneur Mark Ecko (ph), who visited us on this show on Friday, democratizing the selection of the 756's ultimate resting place, after having purchased the ball for ¾ of a million dollars from the fan who caught it last month.

Eck's plan, the fans would decide whether the ball would be sent to the baseball Hall of Fame as is, or branded with an asterisk and sent to the Hall, or launched into outer space. Over ten million votes cast. Here now the results as they were announced this morning on the "Today Show."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to have to find a different artifact to send up to space. The banish it vote was at 19 percent. And 80 percent of America total want this ball on this Earth, and it will go to the Cooperstown Hall of Fame with a brand at 47 percent of the vote.


OLBERMANN: There you have it. The Hall of Fame says it will accept the ball even with the asterisk.

Hillary Clinton up by 23 points in New Hampshire in the moments before the Democrats debate in New Hampshire. Are we at the end of the beginning? Chris Matthews joins me next. But first time for Countdown's worst persons in the world.

The bronze to Alexis Glick (ph), who flamed out over here at NBC and now apparently works for Fixed Noise, and has volunteered for heavy lifting for the water carriers. On Fixed News this morning she complained and explained about Bill-O rather, Al Sharpton was supportive of him, which he wasn't. She added, this is all about context. This is a very important issue. You know, people now take clips and then put them in the context of another situation and then all of a sudden, you're guilty.

Yes, except nobody took a clip and put in a context of a situation, and you don't really know what you're saying, do you?

Our silver tonight to Rudy Giuliani, now claiming his reversal on gun control owes to - want to take a guess - yes, 9/11; "I think after September 11th - I mean, I probably would have had the same impression before, I'm not sure. But after September 11th, all that seemed much more powerful to me."

Great, the gun you can't take on a plane is going to stop a terrorist? Your gun is going to stop a bomb. Also, sir, if your views on gun control changed on 9/11, why did you speak out for gun control in 2004?

But our winner, Coulter-Geist, telling the British version of "Esquire" that she wants her own Fatwah, the Islamic death sentence; "I want a Fatwah," she says. "I used to see Salmon Rushdie in the Sky Bar in LA. He wasn't in hiding. He became world renowned for his Fatwah. So why can't I have a Fatwah? Don't they read my stuff?"

Anne, obviously do read your stuff, and they know you hate the freedoms and principles of America even more than they do. Coulter-Geist, today's worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN: We're about 5 ½ minutes away from the Democratic presidential debate in Dartmouth, New Hampshire. Our number one story on the Countdown, the sixth presidential debate, seventh if you count the AFL-CIO forum in Chicago. And all of us who sweated it out there seven weeks ago yesterday sure do. Tonight's debate here on MSNBC transpires as the newest poll in New Hampshire gives Senator Clinton a double digit lead over her closest rival, Senator Barack Obama. With Senator Clinton widening her margin in national polls as well, there has been the assumption and the prediction that in tonight's debate, Senator Obama will take on Clinton more sharply.

We'll see if that plays out. Joining me now, my colleague, the host of "Hardball" and now author of "Life's A Campaign, What Politics Has Taught Me About Friendship, Rivalry, Reputation and Success," Chris Matthews. Good evening, Chris.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Keith, you're the first person to mention the book. Thank you. What do you want me to talk about? You know, baseball standings, and you know when it's like June and one team is 20 games ahead, you wonder what the season is going to look like, you know. Here we are.

OLBERMANN: Where is it? Are we at Churchill's phrase here regarding the Democratic nomination? Are we not at the beginning of the end, but perhaps at the end of the beginning?

MATTHEWS: I think the end of the beginning might be very smart, because this Sunday when the "New York Times" crowned her the inevitable, I think that's one of the things - like remember Steve Swartzman's (ph) birthday party a couple months ago, it was like the height of the equity boom. And I think maybe that was the height of Hillaryism this Sunday. It's downhill from here.

OLBERMANN: It is also become kind of a mantra among the prognosticators that Obama has got to go after Senator Clinton more forcefully, maybe draw blood. Three and half months left until there are votes cast in the primaries. You can argue that the time - certainly this is the end of the beginning for him on that. Or maybe he has plenty of time. Does he need to do this tonight?

MATTHEWS: Well, of course, if all conditions break in his favor, if Bill gets involved in a problem with some woman or Hillary gets involved with something with campaign financing, and everything goes to hell for the Clintons, of course, somebody can creep by them or him or her. But you can't count on all of the forces of nature working against Hillary between now and Christmas. He's going to have to do some of the heavy lifting.

The American people want to see a choice here, and he's going to have to force that choice. And I said this earlier tonight, Keith, that it's like Scott Turow (ph) in that wonderful book "Presumed Innocent," as well as in the film, where he said, if you are going to prosecute a case - and that's what he has to do against Hillary - you must point the finger at the accused in front of the jury and say, and confront that person, and say you voted to authorize that war. You're part of the worst foreign policy decision in modern history. Have you no judgment, madam.

If he's capable of doing that then the jury of the country, the Democratic people, will say wow, this guy is a leader! But if he won't do that, if he won't accuse her of blowing it, of chickening out, of hedging her bets, whatever, of making the worst decision in the world, then why should the American people reject Hillary, if he won't say to do it? I think that's the choice. He has to do it.

OLBERMANN: Is there - we have seen almost no serious Democrat on Democrat violence. Is that probable in some other context between Obama and Clinton. Anyone else that we might see the peace broken tonight?

MATTHEWS: Well, I mean, Obama is very inspiring. I loved his book. He's an actual writer; 99 percent of these guys have ghost writers, as you know. He actually wrote the book, the first one. The second one I think was a collaboration. But the first one - I think he has no political experience. He lost to Bobby Rush in a primary in south Chicago, on the south side. He beat Alan Keyes, OK. That's his track record. He beat Alan Keyes, from out of state, for the Illinois Senate race.

He doesn't seem to understand that you must engage, you must take on the opponent. You must relish the fight. And you must say I'm the man to win this race. I want you to vote for me, not her. I don't know any other way to campaign. I don't know what we're talking about here. This isn't "Hollywood Squares," where you just put yourself up in a window and she puts herself in another window, and you choose which one you like. It's called a campaign.

OLBERMANN: One thing that Chuck Todd pointed out this morning, as to watch tonight, how often Senator Clinton - has developed this apparently defensive technique of laughing in response to a very critical question. There's some inside baseball to this, but is that a good strategy? Is that working for her? Do you expect that a lot tonight?

MATTHEWS: Chris Wallace asked a question and he's talking about partisanship and he's from Fox television, I think that might be laughable. When he's the one that took down her husband a few months ago and he's talking about excessive partisanship. Excuse me, am I talking to Keith Olbermann? he's there representing Fox television, putting down partisanship. What? Of course she had to laugh. What else could she say, you're an ignoramus? She had to say something politely. Right? It seemed to me.

OLBERMANN: Yes, if it works it's great.

MATTHEWS: The problem was nobody laughed, because Chris wasn't going to help her by giving her a Mondale style laugh to a Reagan joke. He wasn't going to do it. But if you need a laugh track for a comment, for a joke, you've got a problem. I thought Hillary was pretty funny there. I thought she was great. I'm warming up to Hillary these days. Aren't you warming up to Hillary? I think she's doing well.

OLBERMANN: I don't have anything to warm up from. Chris will be anchoring our debate coverage - post-debate coverage tonight. We'll talk to him then. That's Countdown for this the 1,610th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.