Wednesday, October 31, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Oct. 31
video 'podcast'

KEITH OLBERMANN: Good evening. Democracy wrote the French-born, New Zealand raised, historian and surgeon Robert Briffault is the worst form of government. It is the most inefficient, the most clumsy, the most unpractical, it reduces wisdom to impotence and secures the triumph of folly, ignorance, claptrap, demagogy, he continued. Yet, democracy is the only form of social order admissible because it's the only one consistent with justice. Our fifth story on the Countdown: Mr. Bush evidently stopped listening at that word - ignorance. He is evidently taking us from democracy to government by administrative order. The president's public assault on Congress continuing unabated today, even as he is planning to bypass the legislative branch as much as possible during this final year of his administration. The "Washington Post" reporting that Mr. Bush has concluded he can't do much business with Democrats in Congress because they have failed to meet him halfway. As for the public assault part in a speech about health care this morning, Mr. Bush using the convenience of the calendar to bash the Democrats for wanting to expand a popular children's health insurance program.


GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: Halloween is an appropriate day to talk about it because there is a bill moving through the Congress that's disguised as a bill to help children. But I think it's really a trick on the American people.


OLBERMANN: Yet, it seems Mr. Bush has taken a play out of the

Democrats' play book. In yesterday's tirade from the White House north

protocol (ph) , the president criticizing Congress for failing to give him

separate pieces of legislation, each covering only one topic. So why then

has the president included more than $2.5 billion in the 2008 emergency war

funding supplemental, for spending that is not directly related to the wars

in Iraq or Afghanistan - spending request asking for, among other things,

724 million for peace-keeping aid in Darfur, 350 million in food aid to

Africa, half a billion in assistance to Mexico to fight organized crime and

narcotics trafficking. Not exactly what one would describe as supporting

the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Bush apparently not just learning

from the Democrats, it seems he might not also have been paying attention

to, is it possible? Me? Based on his speech this morning, it seems our

little lessons about S-chip versus Medicaid can now stop


BUSH: S-chip was created to provide coverage for poor and uninsured children whose parents make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. Let me make sure you understand the facts.


OLBERMANN: Somebody got him the facts. Here to help us understand other facts tonight, our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine. Howard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Would governing via administrative orders be a variation of government via signing statements of damn congress and damn the Constitution. Is it legal? Is it constitutional? Is it democracy?

FINEMAN: Within certain limits, yes. But the whole narrative of this administration, especially since 9/11, but really even before, has been to give the broadest possible interpretation of presidential powers after 9/11, after declaration of the "War on Terror," after Afghanistan and Iraq. The president and his advisors have used every tool and then some, to get around Congress and if it's all war all the time, if their only emergencies and only supplementals, we used the word supplemental, that's a special method of funding in Congress that by pass as lot of Congress's own procedures to begin with, the president is laying claim to every tool - that's executive orders, administrative orders, signing statements, you know, going it his own way to the extent possible. That's the theme of this presidency.

OLBERMANN: He left one out though - revelations within dreams. We are waiting on that one. But in the last couple weeks he issued administrative orders on veterans health care, on air traffic congestion, and immigration. At the same time, he has been speaking out for the need for fiscal responsibility and for Congress to meet him half way. If you are going to run the country by executive fiat, do you really have the right to complain about people meeting you half way? Didn't he just erase the half way?

FINEMAN: Yes, I think the Democrats are a little bit complicit here, too. I mean, they're playing politics with the whole budget process as well. And there is a little bit of a limit on the president with some of these administrative and executive orders. Eventually, he runs up against spending limits. He can change policy almost by fiat. He can override the administrative procedures act. Mocking (ph) around with what the executive departments are doing, but he is going to need money at some point for a lot of these things. And that's where Congress, still, has a role.

OLBERMANN: Is there anything? Again, we are going to ask Congress to do a lot by asking them to do anything. But is there anything Congress can do specifically on this point besides letting the financial clock run out? I mean, pass a law? Stop appropriating funds for the executive branch? Write a letter to their congressman? Is there anything to do to stop these administrative orders?

FINEMAN: Yes, it's all about the money. And if you read the Constitution, that's the power that Congress has and that's the first thing discussed in the Constitution. Yes, they could deny funds to the executive branch to operate because the executive branch operates on money appropriated by the Congress. The president doesn't go out and get it himself, at least, you know, he doesn't do it outside of the campaign. So, yes and they can stand in the way of funding for the war in Iraq, for any department they want to, they can shut down - the Congress can shut down most of the executive branches of government, departments of government because they're not in the Constitution, most of them. But, of course, they're not thinking in any such radical ways. It's an amazing thing to watch an administration that thinks so radically in constitutional terms in a Congress that is just the opposite.

OLBERMANN: Now, there's one team out there playing national football league rules and other one is playing arena rules.

FINEMAN: Yes, one is bill belly-check (ph) and one isn't.

OLBERMANN: Yes, yesterday though, as a final point, Mr. Bush mock what he called these three bill pileups, is not an emergency war funding measure that includes anti-drug trafficking, aid for Darfur, lots of other non-war spending is, that not a three-bill pileup or 33-bill pileup?

FINEMAN: Sure it is. He's taking advantage of the thing that he knows politically Congress has to pass to load it up with every foreign policy thing he can get his hands on, as you mentioned, Darfur, Mexico drug trafficking, yes, I look at that list, ironically, what's so brazen about it - the entire list is on the White House's own Web site. It's not like they were hiding it. They're saying you know, too bad, we are going to do it our way and claim it's right and not let you do it when you want to do it.

OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of MSNBC and "Newsweek." Next week, we'll discuss punting in the relative to sports. As always, sir, great thanks.

FINEMAN: OK, take care.

OLBERMANN: The president losing another one of his closest and longest serving advisors today, which is either good news or bad news based on what she actually accomplished. Karen Hughes resigning today as undersecretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. What that title means is she was in charge of improving America's image abroad. Secretary of State Rice praising Mrs. Hughes today for the remarkable job she has done. Note the first definition of remarkable is notably or conspicuously unusual, extraordinary, says nothing here about good. When asked how recent events like last month's shootings of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater security guards hired by the State Department would affect the way the world sees the U.S., Mrs. Hughes admitted to the Associated Press that negative events never help. The department also creating uproar by releasing promotional tourism video which the footage of Niagara Falls was actually of a Canadian side of Niagara Falls and shoot from the Canadian side of the border near Niagara Falls. And those are only the recent controversies. Time to call in "Washington Post" contributor, James Moore who worked around Hughes since her days as a TV reporter of Dallas Wentworth (ph) who's covered her devotion to Mr. Bush since their days in the Texas state house. Thank you for your time tonight, Jim.

JAMES MOORE, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Always good to be with you.

OLBERMANN: I want to get your read on those administrative orders, too. But first, Karen Hughes, you described her connection to the president as obsessive. Let me read it exactly. She seems to have lost her ability to distinguish between the real world and red, white and blue movie playing on a loop in her head. It's a drama. Where W is the hero and crowds are cheering him as a savior while the national anthem plays as the sound track. Pretty potent words there, do they explain why polls show no improvement in the world's view of the U.S. since she became our pitch man?

MOORE: Well, I'm reminded of that famous (INAUDIBLE) article where he said, in quotes an unnamed senior White House official, whom everyone knew as Rove (ph) when he said, "We are about creating alternative realities." And so they've turned the White House, all of these folks, into a sort of "Palace of Pathology." - where they have created a reality in which the United States is the good guy and we're going to take democracy around the world, whether you want democracy or not and Karen lives in that world. Karen has believed everything the president has told her and they have essentially tried to continue to push his belief system into the wider world and of course, it's their belief system. But it constantly clashes with reality and leads to this kind of nonsense where the polls, all of the international polls have shown in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the united states has gone from a 60 to 70 percent favorability down to about 15 percent.

OLBERMANN: Position her correctly for us in the big picture of the White House. Was she part of the once vast group of people whom the president could trust and never seriously disabuse them of the notion of his wonderfulness and, if so, who's left in that group?

MOORE: I don't think there is anybody left in Washington anymore who is from that internal group. That, of course, was Karen's ultimate role and to the point where the president was so close to her that he had a sort of mommy kind of approval thing with her. Even after she left the White House, she's become obviously with this latest departure a kind of a serial quitter. You remember she famously did this before and even as she left the first time, to bring her family back to Austin, he was on the phone with her two, three, and four times a day constantly seeking her approval, constantly having her tell him that, yes, this was the right move; yes he's doing the right thing; yes, you're great, Mr. President. So, yes, that's been the nature of the relationship from the beginning. Now, whether that changes and she actually spends time here in Austin this go around is something that we'll have to see.

OLBERMANN: As promised, the reports of the president turning to government by administrative order, in a sense, Jim is, this now his dream job?


OLBERMANN: If almost full insulation from oversight.

MOORE: Yes, in fact, he's famously joked a couple times here in Texas, Keith, and in Washington as well, that this would be whole lot easier if he were just a dictator. And this isn't just a joke, I mean this is a case where humor comes very close to revealing the truth and I challenge anybody to see where this guy has ever compromised. Every single time that something has happened, it's happened because he has been defeated. Otherwise, the way they want it, the way they perceive it, the way they see it is the way that it is. And the president has decided that these Democrats aren't going to meet me and do what I want done. And I'm certainly not going to compromise with them. So, I'm going to find the legal ways or the not-so-legal ways, the marginally legal ways to do what I want.

OLBERMANN: When it comes to that subject of dictatorship, a song lyric suddenly pops into mind, here hold on tight to your dreams. Jim Moore, co-author of "Bush's Brain." Great thanks as always, sir.

MOORE: My pleasure, Keith.

OLBERMANN: The president might have to appoint a new attorney general by administrative order because the vote on the nominee has been scheduled and the opposition is mounting. And Joe Biden rips Rudy Giuliani. Rudy Giuliani fires back about Biden's involuntary plagiarism from 1987. But did you know about the allegations of plagiarism against Mr. Giuliani? The dirty little secret ahead, you are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: After the debacle that was Alberto Gonzales, Judge Michael Mukasey was thought to be the safe choice for attorney general. He was even suggested to the White House by Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer. But on our fourth story on the Countdown: His refusal to call water boarding torture could end up costing him a nomination. The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Leahy, he has now scheduled that vote for next Tuesday, this after Judge Mukasey responded Democratic demands for the clarification about water boarding by writing it while it seems over the line and it's personally repugnant to him he cannot clearly say whether it is illegal without being briefed on the technique. A classified briefing and while Republican Senators Arlen Specter and Lindsey Graham who have expressed concerns about Judge Mukasey's views on torture profess themselves somewhat satisfied by his written response. Their Democratic counterparts find his unwillingness to clearly define his legal stance - disturbing.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, (D) CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Obviously many of us felt that the United States, which would roundly and universally condemn the water boarding of an American held by any other country, many of us have felt that the attorney general nominee should do the same thing.


OLBERMANN: I'm joined now by constitutional lawyer -


SEN. DICK DURBIN, (D) ILLINOIS: If we are going to restore the image of the United States of America then the highest law enforcement official in the land should be clear, firm, and unequivocal that water boarding, torture are unacceptable, un-American, illegal and unconstitutional.


OLBERMANN: We're joined by constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein, chairman of the American Freedom Agenda, former Reagan associate deputy attorney general. As always, great thanks for your time, sir.


OLBERMANN: Let's start with this White House response to this today that the water boarding issue is an unfair and unexpected litmus test for any attorney general nominee but given that the last attorney general actually helped write the White House position that torturing al Qaeda suspects might be legally defensible, did not the White House make this subject both fair game and expected?

FEIN: Of course they did and they certainly knew that this kind of question would be raised. And to be equivocal about water boarding is like being equivocal about the rack and the screw or vivisection. It doesn't depend on any special circumstances. There's a generic way in which it's done. And I think this is an effort to try to save the Bush administration embarrassment if they have an attorney general pronouncing the practice illegal that we know has been perpetrated by high level officials in the Bush administration, including in the CIA.

OLBERMANN: I know that this may sound like an old-fashioned, quaint solution to this. But is there any preventing Judge Mukasey from being briefed on this? Perhaps getting a presentation from those who think waterboarding is torture and then get a presentation from those who think it isn't and perhaps maybe there is something in his background that would allow him to judge the presentations?

FEIN: Well, you get individuals who are not government officials cleared all the time for access to information. That's routinely done, for example, with regard to government contractors. So if he asked, I'd like to be cleared so I can get a first-hand briefing from those, in fact, who are undertaking the waterboarding that certainly would be done. It's very clear, it seems to me that it wasn't done simply to provide some opportunity for evasion because he knew a candid answer would either infuriate the Senate or suggest that Bush administration was in for serious trouble when it comes to criminal prosecution for torture.

OLBERMANN: Senator McCain, Senator Graham, and Senator Warner all wrote to the judge today. They praised him for his personal stance on waterboarding and they added collectively: "Once you are fully confirmed and fully briefed on the relevant programs and legal analyses, we urge you to publicly make clear that waterboarding can never be employed."

I realize it was a different political world in 1973. But the Senate that time got a previous attorney general, Elliott Richardson to agree to a special Watergate prosecutor, essentially against his own boss as a condition of his approval. The best a Senate now can get is after we hand you this blank check you send us a note promising us not to overspend?

FEIN: It shows the growing effectiveness of Congress and how far we have come from the Nixon administration. Because the Judiciary Committee not only demanded the appointment of Archibald Cox by name but the negotiation of his charter by which outline what crimes he would pursue. This was all before a vote. Obviously after the vote you lose leverage and the attorney general can say circumstances have changed. I'm too busy, I've changed my mind or he won't answer. At that point there really is no leverage that Congress has. And moreover, you want to have this information in the public limelight, which is at the time of confirmation. That's where the concentration of the public is at its peak. And that's where you want the greatest amount of reassurance that an attorney general is not going to sponsor torture.

OLBERMANN: The vote is Tuesday. The leverage presumably dissipates on Tuesday. Do you have any hope that what is asked for here, what is sought, some sort of definition of his legal opinion on waterboarding will be achieved before Tuesday?

FEIN: No. I don't think that Mukasey has the space to separate himself out from President Bush. The only question is will the Senate Judiciary Committee give a pass and basically endorsed everything the president has done for the last seven years and reduce itself largely to irrelevancy.

OLBERMANN: Bruce Fein, former deputy associate to attorney general in the administration of Ronald Reagan. As always, great thanks for your insight and your time, sir.

FEIN: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: And the other great legal issue of the moment, Britney Spears' custody battle and she really helps herself by giving a live radio interview today and then taking a shower.

And maybe set the table just as fast as you are able - details on this breaking story when Countdown continues.


OLBERMANN: This was John Candice birthday. If he had lived, he would have been 57 years old today. Not just a comedian particularly on SCTV but an actor gifted enough to shine on everything from blues brother to uncle buck to JFK. So raise your can a badge rolls and coffee on memory of Yush Mingling (ph).

And let's play Oddball. We begin on the Internet with reason number 687 why Japanese TV is superior to ours besides the fact that we no longer have the happy wanders. Look its dogs jumping rope. No idea why they were trained to do this but they're good at it. They can even jump into the moving rope and back out again. Thanks to the fine production team. Where you learn to think about how to react to such astounding feats. Instead they gave us the visual clues, tell us how well footie performed. But may be how they train them. That and cattle prods.

To our nation's capital where there is drag racing afoot. Not drag cars but drag queens. Dozens of them putting on the stilettos, they are on the annual high-heel race to the streets of Washington, wait a minute. We just saw this yesterday from Mexico with real women and one of the women fell down and go boom. So, what is this? None of the men fell down. One of them won the race in 90 seconds? What a gyp.

Senator Clinton targeted and Mayor Giuliani targeted. Any idea who are the other candidates think the candidate would probably be. So, late news about Giuliani and plagiarism and one of the candidates admits he has seen one of these. And has the courage to also question the President's mental well-being. All meat for the plate of the satirist ahead - Jim Morris ahead.

First up: The Best Person's of the World, number three - best rehabilitation (ph) Graeme Alford. In several years in cell number 43 at Pentrod (ph) Prison in Melbourne, Australia for embezzling and robbery in the '70s and '80s, the jail is being redeveloped into apartments. Mr.

Alford got redeveloped too into a motivational speaker. So now he is

buying a unit in the prison turned apartment complex, cell number 43. he -

Number two best eyes. An unidentified teller at Suntrust Bank in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Mr. Scott Reilly allegedly handed the manager a stickup note, he changed his mind and walked out two. Two hours later, one of the bank tellers was driving home and she saw standing on the gas station the same guy, Scott Reilly.

The number one best dumb criminal: an unidentified 54-year-old man in Queensland, Australia charged with stealing a laptop and various other computer equipment worth about 13,000 bucks all tolled. Among the equipment a global positioning navigation device which the guy promptly turned on, immediately alerting the police to his exact global position.


OLBERMANN: The line of the night at the latest Democratic presidential debate has turned into a fight of words between Senator Joe Biden and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a fight that evidently went one round too many for Mr. Giuliani. Our third story on the Countdown, Giuliani's replies today invoked a series of 1987 speeches in which Biden credited much of his remarks to British Politician Neil Kinnick (ph), all for one speech in which he infamously left Kinnick out of it and thus wound up inadvertently plagiarizing the material.

Mr. Giuliani rehashed all of this today, evidently forgetting that 26 days ago he was accused by Mitt Romney's campaign of plagiarizing material from Romney's speeches and ads. We start at the beginning at Drexel University last night.


SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not running against Hillary Clinton. I'm running to lead the free world. I'm running to lead this country. And the irony is Rudy Giuliani, probably the most underqualified man since George Bush to seek the presidency, is here talking about any of the people here. Rudy Giuliani? I mean, think about it. Rudy Giuliani, there is only three things he mentions in a sentence, a noun, a verb, and 9/11. I mean, there is nothing else. There is nothing else. I mean it sincerely.


OLBERMANN: Mr. Giuliani's spokeswoman, Katie Levinson, responded first on paper, answering nothing of the senator's point, noting merely, quote, Rudy rarely reads prepared speeches. And when he does, he isn't prone to ripping off the text to others. If anybody missed the allusion to plagiarism 20 years ago, after which, incidentally, Biden ended that presidential campaign, Giuliani himself dived into the deep end of the pool with no water in it.


RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My response is who wrote it? I mean, I know Joe read it. I saw him read it. I'm just wondering who wrote it? When I know who wrote it, then I can respond to it.


OLBERMANN: Giuliani was accused of plagiarism, not in 1987, but on the fifth of this month; "if the mayor's words about wasteful spending sounded familiar today," said Governor Romney's spokesman, Kevin Madden (ph), "I would have to agree."

In Democrat-on-Democrat violence, the obvious target was the obvious target. Senator Clinton tried to split the middle of the bid by the governor of her home state to get illegal immigrants to get legal driver's licenses.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So what Governor Spitzer is trying to do is to fill the vacuum. I believe we need to get back to comprehensive immigration reform, because no state, no matter how well intentioned, can fill this gap.

SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The idea that we are going to extend this privilege here of a driver's license is troublesome. I think the American people are reacting to it?

CLINTON: I want to add, I didn't say that it should be done. But I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it.

DODD: Wait a minute, wait a minute.

CLINTON: We have failed.

DODD: No, no, no. You said, yes, you thought it made sense to do.

TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Senator Clinton, I want to make sure what I heard. Do you, the New York senator, support the New York governor's plan to give illegal immigrants a driver's license?

CLINTON: This is where everybody plays gotcha. It makes a lot of sense. What is the governor supposed to do?

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to add something that Chris Dodd just said a minute ago, because I don't want it to go unnoticed. Unless I missed something, Senator Clinton said two different things in the course of about two of minutes just a few minutes ago.


OLBERMANN: And today, AFSME, the power house political union of state, county municipal workers, ended an earlier period of collective indecision to endorse Senator Clinton. That's a 60 million dollar campaign fund and 40,000 campaign workers across the country. AFSME's president calling her the overwhelming choice of its 1.4 million members; 30,000 of them are in the most important caucus state, Iowa.

Let's turn now to Craig Crawford of "Congressional Quarterly" and, of course, MSNBC. Good evening.

CRAIG CRAWFORD, "CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY": That was quite a rumble last night.

OLBERMANN: Let me start about today, relative to last night. How smart was it politically to, as Mr. Giuliani did, answer a fairly serious point about what we could generously call the focused nature of his campaign by invoking the 20-year-old plagiarism charge when he, himself, was accused of plagiarism four weeks ago?

CRAWFORD: Well, you know, Giuliani has a tendency to shoot from the hip, Keith. In this case, he might have maybe gotten it out of joint. This is something Giuliani may have a problem with in the future. As his own aides noticed he doesn't always read scripts. He talks off the cuff. This is where sometimes he might have some problems.

OLBERMANN: She brought it up first, of course, this Ms. Levinson, and in a really - even for politics, a fairly mean-spirited statement. Is there - are they still making rookie mistakes? We have talked about this previous with the Obama campaign and several of the lesser Republicans, several of the lesser Democrats. Are there still rookie mistakes being made in the Giuliani camp?

CRAWFORD: Sure. All campaigns, you know, have this - that's one good thing about the early presidential campaign, they are able to work out a lot of these kinks very early on. But it's getting close to the wire now and, you know, that's one thing about the Clinton campaign - I think it's one reason everybody focused so much on her driver's license answer last night. It wasn't quite as savvy as she has always been. But still, that campaign is showing a lot more veteran skill than most of the others.

OLBERMANN: I want to get to that, but - that particular answer. But let me ask you one more question about Biden and Giuliani. Did Biden open the door for other Democrats last night? Obviously, it's unlikely another Republican could go after Giuliani for being one-note Rudy. But could you see the eventual Democratic nominee running with this, if not running on it.

CRAWFORD: I think what we may see in a general election campaign is an effort to undercut some of his boasting about what he did after 9/11. The trouble with being almost a one-issue candidate is that one issue better be air-tight. I think there are a lot of questions about his decisions, both before and after 9/11, that Democrats will get into, that Republicans in the primary race are not. And that's always a problem because you don't get that issue tested. You don't work out your responses to it until everybody is watching in the general election.

OLBERMANN: To the Democrats; we had virtually this promise from Barack Obama that he was going to get tough on Senator Clinton. Did he do it last night.

CRAWFORD: Eventually. He was a little slow to trot, Keith. One thing I noticed here watching it last night was that it wasn't until after John Edwards was landing hit after hit on Senator Clinton that it almost seemed like Obama was playing catch up. Overall, I would say though, I think Edwards ended up being more effective and has gotten more credit for that today than Obama did. So Edwards was the principle challenger last night to Senator Clinton, although Obama chimed in quite a bit.

OLBERMANN: All right, the driver's licenses in New York, it sounded to me - and maybe I'm being naive - that she was saying she was not a very big fan of this idea, but until we have some comprehensive immigration solution, there are going to have to be almost ad hoc interim solutions around this country like that one. Was that her answer? Why wasn't it acceptable? Was she right in complaining that she was unfairly hounded over it.

CRAWFORD: It was her answer. I think what we find often with Senator Clinton, like her husband, is she is a policy wonk, Keith. Unlike the media, policy wonks don't think about these kinds of issues in black or white and yes or no and up and down. It's more complicated than that. Many times that's where the real answers are, just complicated and longer. That's what she was doing here. We do have this problem with not being able - you can't manage what you can't measure. The country doesn't know who these people are, these illegal immigrants or undocumented workers. She is seeing the need to actually try to find ways to document them, but actually measure them, know where they are. That's all she was saying.

The media jumped on her and I think everybody was just looking for that because she has been doing so well so long.

OLBERMANN: We will see if it has any traction through Friday.


OLBERMANN: Craig Crawford of MSNBC and "Congressional Quarterly." As always, Craig, great thanks.

CRAWFORD: Good to be here.

OLBERMANN: Another round in the Britney Spears debate, a live radio interview during which she winds up slamming herself. And well, says Morton Kondracke of Fixed News, it may feel like torture, but water boarding isn't really torture because it doesn't do long term damage. The fatal flaw - and I do mean fatal - as he goes up against Major League Baseball and John Gibson for Worst Person honors. That's next. This is Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Britney Spears took to the airwaves to discuss the judge's ruling against her in the custody battle over her kids, something else somebody else should have told her not to do. That leading off our number two story tonight, Keeping Tabs. Ryan Seacrest called Ms. Spears this morning during his radio show. She defended her parenting skills and says she does everything she can for her kids. But she could not tell Seacrest how much she got to see her kids in the new court order issued yesterday. She didn't remember.

The correct answer was 36 hours a week, and only while being supervised. She defended her lack of knowledge of the court ruling by saying, quote, that's like all in the court, stuff like that all my lawyers know all that stuff. The interview ended abruptly when Ms. Spears decided it was time for a shower, which is how I'm sure you feel right now just listening to this.

And in which Lindsay Lohan do you believe? The good one or the bad one? Lohan has canceled as the host of a New Year's Eve bash in Las Vegas, according to "US Weekly," her publicist saying the actress wants to focus on her work and sobriety. However, "Life and Style Weekly" says Ms. Lohan tried to order a drink at a bar in L.A. a couple weeks ago when she was out with friends. Lohan's publicist denies that story. But servers have reportedly been told to refuse such a request and Lohan walked out embarrassed.

He has told a Democratic debate audience that he has seen a UFO, but he has also now questioned President Bush's mental health. So a day of improved esteem for Dennis Kucinich. Political satirist Jim Morris joins me next. First time for Countdown's Worst Persons in the World.

The bronze to Major League Baseball, which, as the "New York Times" and Mike Schmidt revealed today, is probably tipping off its players about supposedly surprise testing for steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. The drug testing units are told to contact the home team a day or more before going to the ballpark to get passes to park at and enter the stadium. This would tend to eliminate the surprise part of the surprise test. And, yes, there are drugs that can mask the presence of steroids and they can be effective in 24 hours or less.

The runner-up, John Gibson of Fox Noise. Honestly, is anybody down the block here paying attention? Yesterday on his show he hosts - sorry, show he now co-hosts, he rips Chris Matthews for saying on "Hardball" what he would tell Senator Obama to say at the debate to try to overtake Senator Clinton. Gibbie says "it is illegitimate for one news to publicly advise one candidate on how to defeat another and still try to pretend he's objective and neutral in his news presentations. My friends, fair and balanced that is not."

That was yesterday. On Monday, Gibson publicly advised one candidate on how to defeat another; "you would think Obama could be tougher than that," he advised. "That's attacking Hillary? Obama better wake up. That isn't even throwing an elbow." Monday he does it. Tuesday he criticizes somebody else for doing it. Somebody better inform.

But our winner Morton Kondracke, also of Fixed News, explaining that water boarding not only isn't illegal, it doesn't really even effect the water boardee; "I'm sure it feels like torture, you know. It doesn't result in any lasting damage, but it feels like torture." OK, two things, Dr. Kondracke, a month ago one of the top shrinks at the famous Belleview Hospital testified to the Senate that when it's done right, water boarding can produce panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other kinds of lasting damage.

But here is the thing, Mort - here is the thing you need to be thinking about late at night when it's real quiet, what happens if one of our guys doing the water boarding does it wrong? What if he produces not a panic attack but a heart attack? What if he pours too much water over the detainee and actually suffocates him? This is what you knit wits keep thinking about torture, and forgetting about enhanced interrogation or I can't believe it's not torture or whatever phrase you are using to fool yourselves this week.

What if we kill a guy? Would you view that as lasting damage? Plus, you don't even get the secrets he is making up to get you to stop making him feel just like he is being tortured because he is dead. Morton Kondracke of Fox Noise, today's Worst Person in the World.


OLBERMANN: Democratic presidential debate October 30th. Halloween,

October 31st. Not surprising then Halloween costumes came up at the

debate. But there was also talk of UFOs and extra terrestrial life. All

of it fodder in our number one story on the Countdown for political

impressionist and satirist Jim Morris. The debate at Drexel University in

Phillie offered plenty of friction, as discussed previously in this news

hour, and it dipped its toe into science fiction, as when Tim Russert asked

Congressman Dennis Kucinich if it were true that actress Shirley MacLaine -

what she had written - she is the god mother of Kucinich's daughter - what she had written in her new book.



REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did. It was unidentified flying object, OK? It's not unidentified. I saw something. Now, to answer your question, I am moving my - and I'm also going to move my campaign office to Roswell, New Mexico and another one in Exeter, New Hampshire, OK? Also, you have to keep in mind that Jimmy Carter saw a UFO and also that more people in this country have seen UFOs than I think approve of George Bush's presidency.


OLBERMANN: In the same vein, as Mr. Russert noted, Senator Barack Obama was asked if he agreed with three Apollo 11 astronauts that there is life beyond Earth. The senator said he didn't know, deftly focusing, instead, on people already here and in need; "so as president," he concluded, "those are the people I will be attending to first. There may be some other folks on their way."

And when asked, "Senator Obama said he was considering a Mitt Romney mask for Halloween, one with two sides going in both directions. Meantime, President Bush has now addressed Vice President Cheney's costume.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This morning I was with the vice president. I was asking him what costume he was planning? He said, well, I'm already wearing it. Then he mumbled something about the dark side of the Force.


OLBERMANN: Turns out Mr. Cheney dressed his dog as Darth Vader, unless the dog is just his, as they used to say, familiar. But regarding President Bush, Congressman Kucinich puts all kidding aside, still calling for his impeachment and telling the editorial board of the "Philadelphia Inquirer," quote, "I seriously believe we have to start asking questions about his mental health," regarding the president's comment that World War III could be brought on by Iran knowing how to build a nuclear weapon.

At this point, let's welcome political humorist and impressionist Jim Morris back to the program. Good evening, sir.


OLBERMANN: I'm good. The UFO thing first, Kucinich rightly pointed out that UFO doesn't necessarily mean alien spaceship. It means unidentified flying object. They asked Obama about extra terrestrials, but it sort of petered out. I'm sorry I didn't hear everybody's answer to this. I'm kind of sorry I didn't hear John Edwards' answer to this.

MORRIS: He was too busy attacking Hillary. If you believe it's OK to leave our troops in Iraq indefinitely than Hillary is your choice. If you bring we should bring them all home within a year, then you should vote for me. And if you believe that a UFO is going to land on your driveway, then vote for Dennis Kucinich.

OLBERMANN: Speaking of Congressman Kucinich, as for President Bush and this World War III thing, is not the Congressman just flat out asking what a lot of people have wondered about the president and his emotional well-being in there?

MORRIS: Well, look who is asking the question. I just have to say, good to be here with you. Your name, Keith, has been coming up an awful lot at the White House.

OLBERMANN: How so, sir?

MORRIS: Well, our good friend Bill-O suggests water boarding with a harsh loofa scrub. But look who we are dealing with here. We have got the president of Iran, Akmadinadudade (sic) and all those other clerics and mullahs calling for Jihad and Fatwas. I want to assure the American people that we're not going to be intimidated by all these Mullah Fatwas. You know, a real American doesn't question his commander and chief, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Well then I won't ask any more questions. By the way, will the Republican presidential contenders ever agree on whether water boarding constitutes torture, do you think?

MORRIS: I'm sure if you were to ask John McCain, he would say, he wouldn't permit it. But I support this - we have to support this president on Iraq. When I get a question like that, my friend, I am reminded of the incredible valor of the crew of the SS Minnow when they ran aground on the shores of an uncharted desert aisle. I mean, did the skipper fire Gilligan just because the professor and other egg heads and intellectual types said they were off course? No, Thurston Howell III and Lovie knew better. The ship of state is not sinking, my friends. It just needs a little patching up.

OLBERMANN: I just want to put in on the record, by the way, that I do the world's only impression of the new White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, but I will leave it to the professionals here. Last night Governor Richardson defended Senator Clinton in the middle of this dust up over the license plates. Is he running for vice president? What do you think?

MORRIS: Well, you know, here is what I would do. I hear all these holier than thou personal attacks and, you know, if Barack and Chris and John disagree with Hillary and want her to see things their way, a little bit of diplomacy is in order. Heck, the carrot and stick approach, it's Halloween, why not - they probably want to give her a - strap a carrot to her nose and give her a broom stick.

OLBERMANN: It's like I'm back at that debate in Chicago that I moderated. I'm hearing all the voices in my head again. Last point -

MORRIS: You did a great job in debate by the way.

OLBERMANN: Thank you. Fortunately it's 30 debates ago. Are we past the point where Al Gore might enter this race or is there still a chance?

MORRIS: Well, I have talked to Tipper and the problem is that if I did win - if I did win, I would be a bit concerned with the current makeup of the Supreme Court. They would probably overturn themselves, and say that I did win in 2000. Now, I can't succeed myself. I wouldn't put it past them.

You are a good American, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir. And as your new White House press secretary, I would just like to advise you that there are exits, here, here, here, and here. Jim Morris, comedian and impressionist, it's been too long. Thanks for coming on tonight, Jim.

MORRIS: Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN: We'll have you on again, I hope. That's Countdown for this the 1,645th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. From New York, I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Oct. 30
video 'podcast'

Guests: Jeremy Scahill

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Good evening. Who knew when he pushed the no-child-left behind act that President George W. Bush was really looking out for himself? Our fifth story on the Countdown, the president's petulance against Congress, against Democrats, against anybody else he sees thwarting his own id devolving last week's buffoonish door slamming to a level meriting the use of the word tantrum. He has today accused his critics of wasting his time. The president this morning after meeting exclusively with Republican Congressional leaders, one might say in a partisan manner to discuss the S-chip bill, the president slamming the Democratic leadership for its clearly warped priorities, trying to end the war in Iraq and investigating corruption in his administration.


GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: The House of Representatives has wasted valuable time on a constant stream of investigations and the Senate has wasted valuable time on a endless series of failed votes to pull our troops out of Iraq.


OLBERMANN: Maybe that's because Democrats regained control of Congress on an antiwar mandate last year. Many within the party believe the leadership is not doing enough to end that war. Of course, logic is not something to expect from a chief executive who makes a habit in one sentence of blaming Democrats in Congress for how much they are doing and then in t next for how little he claims they are doing.


BUSH: They have not been able to send a single annual appropriations bill to my desk. And that's the worst record for a Congress in 20 years.


OLBERMANN: Something the president had no problem with when the Republicans were in charge of the last session of Congress. Mr. Bush also criticizing the Democrats for perceived injustices that haven't happened yet.


BUSH: Spending is skyrocketing under their leadership, at least proposed spending is skyrocketing under their leadership.


OLBERMANN: As opposed to the actual skyrocketing of spending that has happened under Mr. Bush's leadership. Just 40 days in Iraq would be enough to fund S-chip, health care legislation for 10 million American children for an entire year. S-chip, as it was intended, not a priority for this president.


BUSH: After going alone and going nowhere, Congress should, instead, work with the administration on a bill that puts poor children first. We want a bill that enrolls the more than 500,000 poor children currently eligible for the program who are not a part of the program.


OLBERMANN: OK. We are going to keep going over this, Mr. President not until you or someone in your administration understands and that presumes the absence of an intent to mislead but for as long as you make it necessary to explain this again. The health care costs of poor children in this country are already covered under Medicaid. S-chip meets the needs of working middle class families with too much income to be eligible for Medicaid but too little to afford to buy their own health insurance. There is a difference. In addition to S-chip, Mr. Bush having problems with the potential Democratic bill that would bundle together three massive spending allocations for defense, veterans' affairs, and labor, education and health.


BUSH: It's hard to imagine a more cynical political strategy than trying to hold hostage funding for our troops in combat and our wounded warriors in order to extract $11 billion in additional social spending. I hope media reports about such a strategy are wrong, I really do.


OLBERMANN: That's the president who implied that if Congress cut back at all from the three billion a week it costs to fund Iraq the money would come out of body armor and other safeguards for the troops. And that's the president who will, as you heard, always revert to blaming the media if that still does not work, threaten a veto.


BUSH: If they're not, if the reports of this strategy are true, I will veto such a three-bill-pileup.


OLBERMANN: Mr. Bush hoping to avoid a so-called three-bill-pileup so that he can divide and conquer.


BUSH: Congress should pass each bill one at a time in a fiscally responsible manner that reflects agreement between the legislative branch and the executive branch.


OLBERMANN: By the way, you guys in the back, chime in any time you want to. And by agreement, Mr. Bush means do it his way. By fiscally responsible he means, spend $200 billion and no questions asked on just the coming year in Iraq.


BUSH: I know some on the Democratic side didn't agree with my decision to send troops in, but it seems like we ought to be able to agree that we are going to support our troops who are in harms way.


OLBERMANN: Of course there's always that option of supporting the troops by removing them from harms way by bringing them home and stop getting them killed on your watch, Mr. Bush. This is normally the portion of the newscast where we call the Democrats response rather the lack of a proportional response into question. Not so tonight. Speaker of the House Pelosi at the end of a news conference this afternoon on toy safety, the pity include irony given the level of maturity the president exhibited this morning, giving as good as she got.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The poor president. Poor president. You would think the president of the United States would take some level of pride in the bipartisan accomplishments of this new direction Congress. We - he signed the bills. I don't know if he has forgotten. He signed the bills to make America safer when we at long last under Democratic Congress passed a 9/11 Commission recommendations to make our country safer. He signed the bill that included the first-time in 10 year increase in the minimum wage. He signed the bill that made college more affordable to hundreds of thousands, millions more young people in our country.


OLBERMANN: And let's talk investigations. Shall we, madam speaker?


PELOSI: The president says that the Congressional Oversight is a waste of time. No, Mr. President, your Iraq conduct of the war has been a waste of money - a waste of money. I know why you don't want Congressional Oversight, it's new to you. You had a rubber-stamp Congress for so long and now, and now, with the Oversight, hundreds of billions of dollars waste, fraud, and abuse, no bid contracts, in fact, no performance contracts, they can't even tell you what happened to some of the money, it's not a waste of time. We're tracking down, Mr. President, your waste of money.


OLBERMANN: And Speaker Pelosi wrapping up her remarks with a big "wow" finish.


PELOSI: As the president criticizes Congress, instead, he should take the time to work together in a bipartisan way, as we are doing in the Congress, to end the disastrous war in Iraq, to keep our promises to our veterans, and he should work with us to promote and to pass S-chip to provide health insurance to ten million American children. So, I think the president's statement in many respects was a waste of time.


OLBERMANN: Our time never wasted when we call upon the analysis of Dana Milbank, national political reporter of the "Washington Post." Dana, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Does the president really feel at this point that if he stomps his feet hard enough, maybe throws himself on the floor next time, he's going to get his way with Congress? Or is there some sort of strategy at work here, maybe in another dimension of which the rest of us are unaware?

MILBANK: Well, my sources are telling me that the first lady has told the president that one more outburst like that and he is being sent to bed without dinner. But, there is actually a reason for what he is doing. And it's not just screaming and yelling. It's use of the bully pulpit here. Certainly on the merits, it sounds a bit absurd, yes, that the spending bills haven't been passed and largely because the Republicans have block them from being passed. Yes, investigations in Iraq were occurring but that's not what's slowing things down. But the fact of the matter is the president is very much spoiling for a fight here, trying to pick a fight on these spending matters because he knows the truth of the matter and that is that the president invariably wins spending fights when they are - occur with Congress. All we need to do is go look pack to the Newt Gingrich-Bill Clinton battles.

OLBERMANN: The word bully though in that, as I remember it, Theodore Roosevelt used it in terms of bully as in hooray, positive, wonderful. This is it seems to me from what you're interpreting it as to be the other meaning of bully, as bullying people around. Is that what it has become here?

MILBANK: That is another meaning of bullying. Certainly this president has never been shy about bullying the Congress, and particularly the Democrats one way or the other. But, again, I think we have to say that it is working to some extent. My colleagues at the Post are reporting that the Democrats, far from the tough talk of Pelosi, are now actually talking about some sort of compromise on S-chip. Some sort of compromise on wiretapping, possibly even some sort of a compromise on Iraq. And that is, they realize the same thing that even if they have the upper hand in terms of the merits of the argument, the numbers for the Congress are going down and even if we have a 24 percent president, that still looks slightly better than the Congress does right now.

OLBERMANN: And of course that Congress number is a collective and we've always talked about this, that if you add up the individual support for individual members of Congress, it's phenomenally ahead of Congress as a group. It's not a personal rejection. Why are they not standing up in some sense with some confidence that individually they will retain the sort of support that the organization does not but that ultimately in terms of getting something done, approval numbers of an organization are irrelevant in this equation.

MILBANK: That's true and it's also true that Democratic numbers are better than Republican numbers. I think what the Democrats are realizing is they can take matters like the children's health care bill to the voters. But what they don't want to do is get into some sort of a government shutdown case here. It's basically creating a diversion for the president that will keep them off issues such as Iraq where Democrats are indisputably stronger. So, I think it's more of a tactical decision that the Democrats are making to have some sort of compromise.

OLBERMANN: And also concerning the administration and Congress and the endless battle today, this written response to questions from Senate Democrats that attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey refusing to say whether he believes wate rboarding is torture, dodging the question on the premise that water boarding is a hypothetical even though it was a crime during the second world war. Even it was used in say as Senator Edwards pointed out the Spanish inquisition. This one issue to judge Mukasey and the administration throw the sure thing, rubber stamp confirmation into actual jeopardy?

MILBANK: It certainly seems that they have over the past week. And the Mukasey's letter of anything may have helped a little bit shore up some of the support on the Republican side. You can really see the tide has turned against him on the Democratic side, all the candidates, Clinton, Obama, Dodd are speaking very pessimistically about him right now. Still hard to see why the Democrats would block him completely, simply because they just get another nominee and apparently the president has said he is going to make a stand on water boarding, is not going to let his nominees go the other way.

OLBERMANN: Dana Milbank of MSNBC and the "Washington Post." We are out of time, saving me from making a very unfortunate water boarding joke about the president's nominees. Great thanks, Dana.

MILBANK: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: A year before the election and Rudy Giuliani is already publicly contending the Democrats are willing to invite Osama bin Laden to the White House to negotiate. Sure they are, buster. And what a coincidence, Blackwater U.S.A. in the tightest of spots. After mercenary killings in Baghdad, many of the men involved have received at least partial immunity from the State Department, throwing investigations and prosecutions into chaos. You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: When John Edwards identified Rudy Giuliani as Bush on steroids in August he was referring to the Republican pen ship for quote "Crony capitalism." But tonight, in our fourth story on the Countdown, madding evidence that the phrase might be far more appropriate for Mr. Giuliani's foreign policy. Giuliani telling a town hall crowd in London there, in New Hampshire, that the war in Iraq helps the U.S. in dealing with Iran and that Hillary Clinton and John Edwards will soon realize that President Bush's misadventures in Iraq have actually been a good thing.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think they are going to change their minds. I think the verdict of history is going to be it was the right decision. Suppose, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards' new position were their position back then, that it was a mistake to take them out. Wouldn't we be dealing with Saddam Hussein becoming nuclear right now? If Iran was becoming nuclear, what would he be doing?


OLBERMANN: And having lambasted his Democratic counterparts on Iraq, Giuliani proceeded to attack them for proposing diplomacy with Iran.


GIULIANI: It's not like this happy, romantic world in which, you know, we'll negotiate with this one and we'll negotiate with that one and there will be no pre-conditions and we'll invite Ahmadinejad to the White House and we'll invite Assad to the White House. I mean, Hillary and Obama are kind of debating you know whether to invite them to the inauguration or the inaugural ball.

ArIanna Huffington, founder of, author of "On Becoming Fearless," Arianna, thanks for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN: Let me first talk to you about technique there. He misrepresents the positions of Clinton and Edwards about Iran and he takes one leap away from engagement, suddenly - it's negotiation. And all of a sudden it's no longer negotiation, now he's leap over to inviting terrorists to the White House. The kind word for this rhetorical advice is hyperbole. The least kind one is Giuliani is lying. How does this continue to happen?

HUFFINGTON: Well, he's lying and also every day he reveals more and more of himself. And you can see that he really has the soul of a thug and the disposition of a tyrant. It really proves the famous saying by Jimmy Brazlen (ph) when he said that Giuliani is a small man with the search for a balcony. You can see that every day with what he says, there is no technique that implies some type of rationality. This is pure savageness (ph), pure testosterone again and again. And what is amazing to me, Keith, that there hasn't been any uproar. If that was a Democrat saying that they - there would have been demand every for an apology that there would have been an emergency session of Congress and resolution condemning such remarks. Remember, after all John McCain said that Moveon should leave the country, should be thrown out of the country because they called General Petraeus - "General betray us." And here is Giuliani daring to insult his Democratic opponents by saying that they would invite Osama bin Laden to the White House? That is really something which should not be accepted.

OLBERMANN: The Petraeus thing looks like a high T compared to what Giuliani said. But you can see through the haze on this and understand why Giuliani would think aligning himself with Bush about Iran or the so-called "War on Terror would help him in the campaign. But I'm missing something here when we are at a stage in polling where more Americans say they believe in ghost than believe President Bush is doing a good job about Iraq. What is the upside of trying to marry himself to Bush about Iraq specifically?

HUFFINGTON: You know, Keith, I think that Giuliani has believed his own myth that somehow being tough means being tough with the Iraqis - means being tough everywhere. If as though he's writing that S on his chest and has the dust from the twin towers on his head and that's the myth is he portraying. And with the small minority of Americans, the Republican base, it's working. He's kind of channeling Rush Limbaugh, he's making the lunatic fringe mainstream. And I am, again, I'm going to blame the media for not challenging that kind of approach.

OLBERMANN: I'm doing what I can but apparently I'm alone out here.

Listen, the "Washington Post" reported something that is of value in this sense that Mr. Giuliani is still working part time at a security consulting firm even though he had promised to leave it in April and that it continued to pay for his security until June. Is he in trouble with Federal Election laws?

HUFFINGTON: Well, he is in trouble with Federal Election laws but probably by the time they work their way through this sort of procedures of the Federal Election laws, who knows when it is going to catch up with him. The question is he should be in trouble with the voters. He should be in trouble, again, with the media because he lied. He said he was going to leave the company. He didn't leave the company. And, in fact, he is now trying to say that he forgot or to defend himself in some way when there is really no defense. He thinks he is above the law, above relations, really a law unto himself.

OLBERMANN: Just a quick thought on this. Has it reached a level yet where we should be considering examining whether or not this is compulsive lying that there is something endemic to him? Or this specific purpose driven lies?

HUFFINGTON: But that was driven I don't know, it's like if you look at what he said about his company. What he said in his latest ad about socialized medicine. And what he's saying about Iraq having the potential to have nuclear weapons, all these things, I mean, there is a pattern here which is really disturbing.

OLBERMANN: Arianna Huffington, the founder and editor of Huffington As always, great thanks you for coming in.

HUFFINGTON: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: When the number of debates and forums and con favs (ph) dwarfs the number of candidates still in the race. The audio blur affect is now palpable. What's different tonight in Philadelphia. And, in sports, the New York Yankees have their new manager. This isn't him of course. I was juxtaposing a relevant headline with outlandish video to get your attention. We'll explain what this is next on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Exactly 69 years ago this evening, in a studio about four and a half blocks from here - Orson Wells broadcast his mock news bullet field adaptation of the H.Q. Wells novel - "War of the Worlds." One of the enduring mistisfications retrospect provides about the widespread panic about the fictional coverage about the invasion by Mars is simply didn't those silly people realize it was Halloween? But look at the calendar, it wasn't Halloween. It was tonight, the night before Halloween. No wonder they were scared. Let's play "Oddball."

We begin in London, England, site of this weekend's latest attempt to try to squeeze money for the NFL out of an international community that doesn't really want to be squeezed. The New York giants beat the Miami Dolphins 13-10 in a sloppy and boring game. But the Brits were gracious hosts nonetheless. Just before the second half kickoff this is believes to be Mark Roberts a serial streaker who normally crashes rugby and soccer matches, brought his game to a whole new level. Both teams watched as Roberts shook his money maker until the police finally even took notice and here come the bobbies. Mr. Roberts was escorted off the field but he escaped prosecution after the winless Dolphins team signed him to play tight end.

In Cincinnati, thank you. Another scofflaws (ph) spitting in the eye of the pooh-pooh. This year, deer wandering into the downtown are of the Queen City wasn't going anywhere without a fight. And there he goes. The deer leaps past the fuzz. See you. Cops and the SPCA continued the chase, eventually tackling the four hoofed feign right here. We're eating venison (ph)tonight. No, no Bambi ending here, authorities hugged tight the little fellow, threw him into the patty wagon and released him into the wild.

Finally in Mexico City, where hundreds of women have gathered for the city's first ever high heel races. Ladies wearing the not made for running footwear squaring off in several hundred meter dashes. The champ receiving a shopping spree worth a hundred thousand pesos, this is a story that might have remained on the oddball cutting room floor had it not been for the high likelihood that someone would fall flat on her face. Down goes Frazier. Down goes Frazier. She was fine.

The Blackwater mercenaries who killed 17 Iraqis have been granted some form of immunity by the State Department. Boy, that's convenient.

And after these new pictures in her new CD, whoever is doing damage control for Britney Spears probably needs immunity from the State Department. These stories ahead, but first time for Countdown's top three best persons in the world.

Number three, best bet to have a ruling reversed, Governor John Corzine of New Jersey announcing today that the day after Thanksgiving, which is 25 days from now, will no longer be a state holiday, thus depriving state employees who don't take a personal day of their only built-in four day holiday of their lives.

Number two, best dumb criminal, this guy. He walks into the Circuit City in Milford, Connecticut, takes a picture of himself with a digital camera on display at the place, then steals a digital camera, a different digital camera, apparently having forgotten that he had taken a picture of himself with the camera he didn't steal, that one.

Number one, best revenge of the animal, James Harris' hunting dog. Mr. Harris of Tama (ph), Iowa had just got one on opening day of pheasant season in Iowa, put a shotgun on the ground and had just started to climb over the fence to get the bird when shots rang out. The next Mr. Harris knew, they were pulling 120 pellets out of his calf. Investigators believe his dog accidentally stepped on the trigger of Mr. Harris' gun. At least that's the dog's story.


OLBERMANN: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's spokesman today denied that her department gave Blackwater mercenaries immunity from prosecution for their deadly shootings of 17 Iraqis last month. Our number three story tonight, the spokesman did not deny yesterday's report from the Associated Press that after those killings State Department officials told the Blackwater gunmen their statements about the shootings would not be used as evidence against them, which would constitute a form of and an important form of immunity.

Furthermore, the spokesman suggested that Secretary Rice's request for an FBI investigation shows that she believes the gunmen can be prosecuted for the killings which occurred in Baghdad on September 16th.


SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We would not have asked the FBI and the Department of Justice to get involved in a case that we did not think that they could potentially prosecute. We can't immunize people here at the Department of State from federal prosecution. And even with limited protections that we have talked about, that I have read about in the press, those limited protections do not preclude federal prosecution.


OLBERMANN: Thus rendering some of Secretary Rice's statements of a week ago inoperative. She suggested at that point prosecution might not be an option, echoing previous testimony by Blackwater's CEO Erik Prince. He had told Congress that the laws governing U.S. contractors over seas apply only to those employed by or accompanying U.S. military. In the Baghdad shooting, Blackwater gunmen were escorting diplomats.

On top of that, a review panel Secretary Rice assembled after the shooting specifically told her earlier this month, quote, "the panel is unaware of any basis for holding non-Department of Defense contractors accountable under U.S. law."

As for Iraqi law, Iraq's parliament is right now considering legislation that would let it prosecute mercenaries in the future. It was a right denied to them by the original U.S.-led coalition, run by Paul Bremer, whose security was provided by Blackwater.

Let's turn now to Jeremy Scahill, author of "Blackwater, the Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army," and contributor at "The Nation Magazine." Great thanks for coming in.


OLBERMANN: So Blackwater is officially untouchable in Iraq and the


SCAHILL: Well, it's sort of like a reverse Miranda right at play here. If you or I killed 17 civilians, what would happen to us is we would be questioned. But first, we would be told that we have the right to remain silent, we have the right to an attorney, and anything we say can and will be held against us in a court of law. Blackwater is being told, here you are, you can sit down and talk with us, and nothing that you say can or will be used against you in a court of law.

What this really does is it taints any ability on the part of the Justice Department or the FBI to conduct any kind of an integrity filled investigation in Baghdad.

OLBERMANN: Is it utterly a coincidence that the immunity to the degree that it - this is virtual immunity. At least it's statement immunity. Is it a coincidence that it happened.

SCAHILL: Keith, for four and a half years in Iraq, these private contractors, as they're called, like Blackwater USA, have operated in a lawless environment. They've not been held accountable at all. None a single one of them has ave been prosecuted under any legal system whatsoever. It's very unclear whether they can be prosecuted under U.S. law.

At every turn, the Bush administration and the State Department have done everything they could to immunize these guys from prosecution.

OLBERMANN: And this just came up, this whole idea, the concept, even the theoretical, just came to Secretary Rice's attention in the last couple of weeks?

SCAHILL: Let's remember here that for four and a half years these guys have engaged in this kind of conduct. The Iraqi puppet regime has constantly complained to the U.S. government about the conduct of Blackwater and other contractors. The reality is that Blackwater is doing exactly what the State Department wants it to do. The reason why not a single U.S. official has been killed under Blackwater's protection is because they have this policy of spray and prey, as it's called.

OLBERMANN: What is this track record - we've talked about him before, about Erik Prince, the CEO of Blackwater. But specifically, what's his track record, in terms of accountability and openness.

SCAHILL: Well, when Erik Prince testified in front of the Congress, it was the first time he effectively appeared in public. He has only, prior to that, done one interview, and that was with Bill O'Reilly on Fox News right after 9/11. He's consistently - His company has consistently refused to hand over documents to the Congress when Waxman, for instance, has requested them. His idea of accountability is giving his men an option when they engage in misconduct, aisle seat or window seat.

OLBERMANN: What is his mind set regarding Iraq, in terms of politics or anything else that's relevant.

SCAHILL: Erik Prince has made about a billion dollars for his company off Iraq war. He could have made a lot more. This is a guy who is not just a businessman. He's an ideological foot soldier for the administration. He wants his forces to be in Iraq. He supports the aggressive, offensive policies of the Bush administration. He also has very close links to a number of radical right wing Christian organizations that could be defined as having a crusader agenda.

It's very frightening that this is the force that the administration has chosen to deploy armed and dangerous in a Muslim country.

OLBERMANN: So, when you or I might have read Joseph Heller's "Catch 22," and came across the character of Milo Minder Bender (ph), who eventually privatizes the entire Army, the entire Second World War, from the position of supply sergeant, takes over the world, and makes a profit off of everything. We read it with horror, sarcasm and surprise. This an read it as a how to manual.

SCAHILL: Well, he envisions Blackwater as the Federal Express of the national security apparatus. He says he wants to do for the military what Fed Ex did for the Post Office.

OLBERMANN: Wow, Jeremy Scahill, the author of "Blackwater, the Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army," once again, thank you for your insight. I wish we had tapped into it a lot sooner than we have. Thank you.

SCAHILL: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: The ruling is on from a court on the custody of Britney Spears' kids. But who gets custody of her after bizarre new photos of her and a priest in her new C.D.? And the worst persons derby. He is back, explaining why he can bring pain to families of 9/11 victims, even threaten them. But if he thinks somebody has else has brought them pain, he has a right to stalk that other person. That's next. This is Countdown.


OLBERMANN: And breaking news of sorts to begin our nightly roundup of celebrity and entertainment stuff; the judge's decision about Britney Spears' kids, presumably made without consideration of the newest publicity photos of her appearing to seduce a priest. reporting she did not today regain custody of her two young sons from their father, Kevin Federline, but the relevant authority, Los Angeles County Commissioner Scott Gordon, Commissioner Gordon, did grant her three monitored visits per week, one of them an overnight visit, as long as a parenting coach is present.

The commissioner noting the report from the coach, who says Spears loves her children. They are bonding to her, but she rarely talks or plays with them, putting what she wants to do ahead of what's fun for the kids, according to TMZ.

Meanwhile, mixed reviews for her album, but not from these pictures from the CD liner notes. She has a crucifix. The guy appears to be a priest, albeit a priest with a 450 dollar hair cut. The claim is this is homage to Madonna. Well, at least everybody is wearing pants.

The path to Joe Torre's next job just became clear with the resignation tonight of the manger of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Grady Little stepped down this evening with one year remaining on his contract. The Dodgers owner, Frank McCourt (ph), had said on the final day of the season that Little would be back. Enter Torre.

There have been reports that he began talking with the Dodgers in the wake of his having turned down a one-year insecurity guaranteed offer to stay with the New York Yankees. The Dodgers' general manager, Ned Coletti (ph), would not confirm those discussion. And Little says he is leaving the Dodgers for, quote, my own personal reasons. Little's last job managing the Boston Red Sox ended in 2003 when he lost the American League Championship Series to the Yankees, managed by Joe Torre.

Late news tonight from Los Angeles on the silencing of a distinctive voice in show business. Robert Goulet's baritone become synonymous with Broadway after he made his debut as Sir Lancelot in the 1960 production of "Camelot." Robert Goulet has died in Los Angeles. He was awaiting a lung transplant. During his career, he won a Tony and several Grammy Awards, and appeared in numerous movies and television specials. Robert Goulet, who took ill very suddenly, was 73 years old.

By the most generous of definitions, tonight the 14th Democratic presidential debate, forum, confab or mash-up. Lincoln and Douglas would have fled the country by now. That's ahead, but first time for Countdown's Worst Persons in the World.

The bronze to Nancy Nord, acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, urging Congress to vote against legislation that would alter her department, because in the wake of the poisonous Chinese toy scandal and other product safety disasters, this bill would do terrible things to the CPSC, like doubling its budget, increasing its staff, facilitating public reporting of faulty products, protecting industry whistle blowers and prosecuting corporate executives when justified.

The chair woman opposes all this. For, why, you ask? This biographical note. Miss Nord comes to the Bush administration from Eastman Kodak, where she was a corporate lawyer in charge of corporate CYA.

The silver to the elder statesman of the far right lunatic fringe, Giuliani advisor Norman Padhoretz, explaining that anybody who expresses the opinion that we should not bomb Iran is, quote, guilty of an irresponsible complacency that I think is comparable to the denial in the early 1930s of intentions of Hitler.

First, enough with the Hitler. Second, Rumsfeld already used this one last year about Iraq. If you can't come up with something convincing or true, at least come up with something new. Third, it was Mr. Padhoretz who blasted Ronald Reagan for talking to Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980's, because, of course, that was irresponsible complacency and appeasement.

But our winner, Bill-O, who has gradually moved from ambushing people who won't appear on his heavily edited show to stalking them and now to terrorizing them. He sent one of his minions to interview Rosie O'Donnell as she autographed books at a book store. For the most part, she slam dunked the poor kid. He says this is for Bill O'Reilly. And she looks up into the camera and says oh my god. Is that what you do? You go around to book signings?

But inside Bill-O's unintentional hilarity, there's always a little fascism, a little "1984." He actually said, on the air, he wanted Ms. O'Donnell to appear with him, because, quote, he wanted to tell the woman that this kind of propaganda is hurtful to those who have lost loved ones on 9/11.

This from the man - and I use that term loosely - who interviewed Jeremy Glick (ph), who lost his father on 9/11, and who told Mr. Glick to shut up, who ordered Mr. Glick's microphone cut, who later said of Mr. Glick, if I could have whacked him, I would have, and who lost such control of himself that his own producers were terrified the police might have to be called to arrest Mr. O'Reilly. Oh, by the way, instead of thinking I don't want to promote Jeremy Glick's viewpoint and I don't want to do anything hurtful to those who have lost love ones on 9/11, he put that interview on television anyway.

Bill O'Reilly, the nation's leading distributor of hypocrisy, today's Worst Person in the World.


OLBERMANN: To our number one story on the Countdown, just minutes from now until the Democratic presidential debate from Drexel University in Philadelphia here on MSNBC, which will be moderated by our own Brian Williams, who will be joined by Tim Russert of NBC News. This will be the seventh Democratic gathering of this season, to use the term debate. There have been six others. it Comes in the wake of a day of rare unison among the top tier Democrats in opposing the confirmation of the attorney general nominee Judge Michael Mukasey, two days after a second tier candidate had done the same.

Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, former Senator Edwards issuing substantively identical statements today that Judge Mukasey's nomination should be rejected because he has refused to say that water-boarding constitutes torture, and because, in his expansive view of executive power, the president could disregard a federal law in the name of national security.

Two days ago, Senator Dodd of Connecticut became the first senator among the Democratic presidential candidates to oppose Judge Mukasey's nomination.

Let's turn to the host of "Hardball," my colleague Chris Matthews in old stomping grounds in Philadelphia. Chris, good evening.


OLBERMANN: The further we get into this process, are we more likely to get real, definable, tangible answers, or less likely to, because I'm thinking of the blow back from the Democratic base about Iraq. There seems to be pretty widespread dissatisfaction this week among Democrats that many of the candidates are not being specific enough, committed enough, quick enough about getting us out of there.

MATTHEWS: Well, the base, if you want to call it that, are right.

The Democrats won control of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate last November, a year ago, by putting out the promise that they would change our policy, that they would do everything they could to change our policy. I have heard very little from them. They have tried a couple of times and have fallen back into their usual establishment position.

I sometimes think that the Democratic party is like the Democratic party was back during the Vietnam era. They don't want to risk it.

OLBERMANN: Regarding the strategy tonight and this week almost, or half week, about Senator Obama - the good news and the bad news for the senator from Illinois, there has now been at least three days, maybe four days of talk about his promise to take on Senator Clinton more aggressively, politically, strategically in the debate format. The question I guess tonight is, when does he actually do it?

MATTHEWS: Well, it seems like tonight is the night for him, only because of the calendar, and also because of that other number, the poll data. He has fallen down to where Jesse Jackson was this time in the race for president in 1988. He is now an also ran. He is a minority candidate in a number of ways. He is not really a contender anymore. He has to get in the ring tonight. If he doesn't, he will stay where he is right now, dropping in the teens.

And that's not serious business. It is a waste of the millions and millions of dollars he has been given by people who hoped that he would bring an alternative to the current policy in the Middle East.

OLBERMANN: And, Chris, he has said now that he is reluctant to - this is the quote, kneecap the front runner. He is more interested in what he says is pointing out that Senator Clinton has concealed her views. But if he is looking to create sharp distinctions of policy, where does he go besides Iraq and Iran? Is that enough and are - is it possible for anyone to jump out of the pack in any political climate we can imagine without at least tapping the knee of the front runner?

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, I think he is setting up a straw man about knee capping. That's what Howard Wolfson does to him every day. They knee cap him. He wants to know what knee capping is. They say things that you say. For example, you think we have to ultimately negotiate with the president of Iran. He will say - Howard Wolfson will come out from the Hillary camp and says, oh he wants to a Holocaust denier; I get it. That's what they are accusing this guy of, basically being anti-semitic. I know that game.

He has got to be ready for tough times in this campaign. The Hillary campaign is not going to salute him if he comes out and gets tough with her. They are going to try to do everything they can to use the media, to use his own standards, anything to shut him up. What he has to do is say, look, I know where Hillary Clinton stands on the war in Iraq. She voted to authorize it. I know where she stands on Iran. She has voted along with Lieberman and Kyl, two of the big hawks in the Senate, to authorize the targeting of Iran. I know what she is up to. She is leaning to the right. She is leaning toward war again.

It's not like trying to smoke her out. She is where she is. I think he ought to take on her votes. But, for some reason, he is hesitant to challenge her on the central issue that we have discovered in our polling tonight, Iraq and Iran. He doesn't want to take her on the issues that the public themselves, the Democrats want him to attack her on. He doesn't seem to want to do it. We can't make him do it.

OLBERMANN: One other style question. Our friend Howard Fineman writing today that Obama's media advisor had been watching old debate footage from another candidate who happened to be 46 campaigning for the presidency, as Obama is 46 now, the former President Bill Clinton. If he were to pull a Bill Clinton in tonight's debate, what might that look like? What might that mean?

MATTHEWS: Oh, god. Well, he would pander, of course, the way Clinton did. I'm not sure that's going to help him. He would pander. Maybe it's a time to pander to the Democratic base and say, I know that Hillary Clinton says that she is on a listening tour. Why doesn't she listen to the Democratic party, because four fifths of the Democratic party are doves. They think the war in Iraq is a mistake. They want us to get out of there. They are fearful that the U.S. Senate is going along with another war in Iran. They are against it.

So Hillary, you are on a listening tour, listen. That's what I would do. Now, maybe that's a little tough, but it would be very hard for Hillary to deny the fact that she is adverse in her position to most Democratic voters who think this war is a catastrophe. And we are getting - the more we struggle, the deeper we get in the sand of Iraq. The longer we stay, the worse off that policy is getting.

She is not willing to - I'm sorry - he is not willing to take her on and challenge her to that direction. What can I say? He doesn't want to do it.

OLBERMANN: Would you analogize - if you were in his position, would you analogize her to Richard Nixon's secret plan in 1968?

MATTHEWS: The trouble with 1968 was - we have had great elections in our lifetime, Keith, elections that have changed history. You may not have been around and I wasn't, but 1932 was a great election, 52; 80 was a great election. It changed America. This election has to change America. If she doesn't want to change, she shouldn't get elected. That's what he should say.

OLBERMANN: Chris, thanks. Chris will be back at 11:00 Eastern for the post-game analysis. That's Countdown for this 1,644th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.


Monday, October 29, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Oct. 29
video 'podcast'

Guests: Richard Wolffe, Eugene Robinson, Richard Justice, Bob Kiviat

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Good evening. In just 77 days the first votes will be cast in the 2008 democratic presidential primaries. Oops. Make that 66. Iowa just moved up its caucus to January 3. In our fifth story on the Countdown, that means Senator Barack Obama will have to cram 11 days worth of getting top run Hillary Clinton into a few short hours, in case you have not noticed, Senator Clinton, now widely seen as the candidate to beat among the Dems. Senator Obama taking another stab at trying to change that perception, the junior senator from Illinois telling the "New York Times" that he would start confronting the junior senator from New York more forcefully and more directly. Many of his supporters, his aides and his donors long struggling with the notion that he's not exhibited the kind of aggressiveness required of a presidential candidate, the politics of hope being just a little too audacious. Mr. Obama not so much attacking the front-runner in this afternoon's MTV Myspace forum in Iowa as saying it would be premature to discuss each other as prospective running mates.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In terms of Senator Clinton and myself - it's way too early because we don't know yet who's going to be the nominee. And it would be, I think, a mistake for me to say, you know, this is the person that I would like to be my Vice president. I will say I'm not running for vice president and so I don't have intentions of being on the ticket as a vice presidential candidate.


OLBERMANN: Senator Obama finding himself with a running mate of a different kind. At a gospel concert sponsored by his campaign in Columbia, South Carolina last night, Reverend Donnie McClurkin, instead of stumping for Obama, ended up by defending himself against past statements he himself had made claiming to have been cured of homosexuality. Reverend McClurkin star turn having drawn public criticism from gay activists who have wanted Mr. Obama to cancel his appearance. South Carolina native John Edwards, with a campaign problem of a different kind - how to resonate as the third place candidate now trying to find a new way to attack Hillary Clinton, in New Hampshire this afternoon, Senator Edwards going after Mrs. Clinton for her ties to lobbyists, painting her an insider that voters should reject.



the middle class takes a major detour, right through the deep canyon of

corporate lobbyists and the hidden bidding of K Street in Washington. And

history tells us that when that bus stops there is the middle class, it

loses. And today, Senator Clinton has taken more money from Washington

lobbyists than any candidate from either party, more money than any

Republican candidate


OLBERMANN: Of course, when it comes to the presumed front-runner of the 2008 run to the White House, there is the one thing we've not heard from yet, actual voters. They, it seems, are still undecided according to University of Iowa Hawkeye poll released in the morning. It showed Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama in a statistical dead heat among that state's likely caucus-goers at 28.9 and 26.6 percent respectively, with a 5 ½ percent margin of error, Edwards trailing with 20 percent. Among Republicans, Governor Mitt Romney with commanding lead 36.2 percent in Iowa, the surprise Governor Mike Huckabee up from just 2 percent in the August Iowa poll to nearly 13 percent now, putting him in a statistical tie for second with Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson. And now to call our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine. Richard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Haven't we heard from Senator Obama - and we'll start with him - prior to this that we would begin seeing him draw sharper contrast between his views and those of Senator Clinton's? Does this not become a double-edged sword? I'm going to be tougher than I've been, even though I told you that was tough? I mean, is there a candidate who cried tough quality to this?

WOLFFE: Well, you know, Keith, he's been so tough he accuses Hillary Clinton of obfuscating. A candidate who uses the word obfuscate in a "New York Times" interview isn't really being that tough. And actually, he didn't say - Clinton was obfuscating. He just said that voters would prefer someone who behaved a bit better. Although, he obviously finds attack politics difficult, and maybe that's a good thing for the voters of Iowa or for politics, in general and to be fair to him, he has been drawing sharp distinctions in some of his speeches. What's different now is that he's signaling it, and that itself can pose certain dangers because if you are going to say you are going to draw distinctions, you better deliver.

OLBERMANN: How important in terms of drawing distinctions is the debate on MSNBC tomorrow for Senator Obama? Does he need to hit a solid a blow as he did on the speed bag on the "Ellen DeGeneres Show" this morning?

WOLFFE: He needs to be as good as that, he needs to be as good as he was on "Leno" when he said when you know when he was asked if was he discouraged by being behind. He said that Hillary Clinton was not the first politician in Washington to declare mission accomplished a little too early. That's the kind of zinger he has to land. He can do it if he thinks of himself as being not too far above the sound bite. And I think that's been his problem. He sees himself as an intellectual. He doesn't like these debates, but it's TV, and TV talks when it comes to campaigns.

OLBERMANN: And what about when events necessitate some sort of comment? This gospel event and the preacher and singer, Reverend Donnie McClurkin who headlined this gospel concert for the Obama campaign declaring that God had delivered him from homosexuality. Will that have an impact on the Democratic Party's strong gay and lesbian support and vote and almost base, if you will? And does Obama have to have a stronger response to it than to say, well, I disagree strongly with what Reverend McClurkin said, but you know I didn't dismiss my association with him as part of my campaign?

WOLFFE: Well, he's tied himself in knots here with this. And I was talking to some of his campaign folks over the weekend and none of them are happy about this. However, he has waded into the subject before, he's gone to African-American churches and told them to stop preaching against homosexuality. He even led a Tavis Smiley debate used the word homophobia. No other candidate would be crazy enough to bring up those subjects. He does it and he should get some credit for that. The question is why doesn't he speak up now, more aggressively, more vigorously than he has? And the truth is - that two parts of the Democratic Party - these two important bases of African-American churches and gay rights groups are miles and miles apart. And look, if he thinks he can unite those two parts of the party, then maybe he can unite a country. But it doesn't look like he's done that so far.

OLBERMANN: Senator Edwards with a 20-point registration there on that latest Iowa poll and he has not been at all shy in criticizing, attacking Senator Clinton directly. He did it again today with the charges of being part of a corrupt Washington system. But if it has not seemed to truly resonate for him, why would it be of any value to Obama?

WOLFFE: You know, it's a tough one for John Edwards. He made his name in Iowa, three-four years ago by campaigning with a very positive message. Squaring that with a sharper, more aggressive tone now is very hard for him. It hasn't been great for him, but it's still a three-way race in Iowa and he's still very much alive.

OLBERMANN: Our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine, as always Richard, great thanks, have a good night.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: On the other side of the fence, while most Republican candidates are trying to delicately or not so delicately distance themselves from the current occupants of the White House, one in particular is beginning to show a remarkable affinity with them. The front-runner Rudy Giuliani not only does he oppose pulling out of Iraq and favor the possibility of military force against Iran but he also advocates government eavesdropping and the things like water boarding is not necessarily torture because quote, "It depends on who does it." The former director of the FBI, current Giuliani adviser Louis Freeh saying when it comes to foreign issues Giuliani and Bush are "very much joined at the hip on these policies and particularly the mind-set and commitment of both the President and Mayor Giuliani to stay on offense."

So-called Homeland Security isn't the only thing Rudy Giuliani has in common with the current administration. As the historian, David Greenberg pointed out in the "Washington Post," much like the White House, Giuliani, too, favors secrecy, he put he put control of his mayoral record into his own company. He also shares Dick Cheney's proclivity for executive power directing the NYPD to hold the cars of suspected drunk drivers in perpetuity even if the suspect was later acquitted and famously try to extend his tenure as the mayor of New York after 9/11 not merely in violation of term limits but in violation of legal expiration date of his term.

Joining us now, columnist and associate editor of the "Washington Post" - Eugene Robinson. Gene, good evening.


OLBERMANN: The piece in your paper yesterday, did that kind of reset the lighting on Rudy Giuliani? Have critics and maybe even the media missed the point about what's working for him with the Republicans, that it's not in spite of his social stances, but because of this authoritarianism streak that's strong enough that Bush would eavesdrop, he would eavesdrop more, Bush would torture, he would torture more?

ROBINSON: Right. It's amazing. I mean, he has done remarkably well to this point in terms of his front-runner status by presenting himself as the candidate who will keep you safe. You know, vote for me or the terrorists will come and kill all your children. That's the, you know, and just let me take care of it and, you know, I'll do whatever I have to do to them, basically, or to the Constitution. It's - when he starts associating himself, however, by name with George W. Bush, I think politically, he runs into a problem. I mean, we all know what the president's approval ratings are like these days and I think, you know, just in strict kind of Machiavellian political terms he does better on message but without the association with the current administration, which can't help but lose him votes. This kind of authoritarian streak in the way - in his nature, because I think that's where it is, I think that's the kind of guy he is - is really only beginning to emerge or beginning to be focused on. People in New York knew about it all along. Maybe the rest of the country will see more of this as the campaign goes on and he seems to have very slight regard for niceties of Constitutional law or checks and balances or any of that nonsense and just do what you need to do.

OLBERMANN: And to what degree have we estimated - underestimated, that's what I mean to say the percentage of people in this country to whom that's an appealing thing? Who may not have grown up thinking the way you and I did, that freedom was for, you know, everybody here, that the marketplace of ideas would settle nearly everything? Are we missing with Giuliani that there are millions of Americans who may just think component parts here but ultimately, if they say it or not, are thinking a president needs to limit freedoms to just some of us and we really need somebody who can tamp down on the out of control parts of society and all these other euphemisms and you know even to the degree it's better to put a lot of innocent men in jail than let one guilty one escape, to turn what is supposedly the maximum of our judicial system on its head.

ROBINSON: You know, I think it depends on how you ask the question and when you ask the question. If you poll Americans and say, do you like freedom? Of course, everybody is going to say, of course, I like freedom and individual rights and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights although I don't think I'd like to put the Bill of Rights you know, up for popular referendum these days. I'm not sure it would all get through but basically, of course, Americans like freedom and freedom you know from oppressive government but there's a lot of fear up there. There are a lot of people who are still nervous - you know, 9/11 was traumatic and Giuliani has a way of, you know, getting 9/11 into every other sentence. Remember when he took the cell phone call from his wife in the middle of the speech, he managed to work 9/11 into that and, you know, it creates a response and people are you know, are nervous and thus, more likely, I think, to accept trading a bit of liberty for a bit of security. Of course, Benjamin Franklin said he would do that ends up with neither but these are times when people are kind of scared.

OBERMANN: But would they - if you polled them and asked them, would you vote for a candidate for any office who thought it would be a good idea to extend his term by a couple of months even after an election had already elected his successor, what would the answer - would we still get something like 75/25 against on that?

ROBINSON: I think we still get 75/25 against on that. That's outrageous and I think we can safely say the American people still believe that when a public official's term is up - he or she really should leave office and not kind of barricade himself or herself inside.

OLBERMANN: I was down the block here six years ago and that in fact, was not Mayor Giuliani's position at the time. And it got surprisingly strong support under the circumstances in any of that. Eugene Robinson of the "Washington Post," as always, great thanks for your time.

ROBINSON: Good to be here.

OLBERMANN: I wonder what Mr. Giuliani thinks of this - a guy really screws up in the Bush administration tries to deceive the media and the public and instead of the deserved promotion and that national medal of honor, he gets fired?

And you can't fire me, I quit for more money. Alex Rodriguez out in New York amid rumors he already has a new nine-figure contract in place elsewhere. You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Traditionally the lame duck period of a presidency is marked by slackening standards, no longer vigorously upholding the values of the president, cronyism and nepotism rise. Scholars have wondered how this phenomenon might manifest itself in the current administration which is noted for having started off with low standards anyway. Our fourth story tonight, mystery solved as Mr. Bush focuses on post-presidential matters such as replenishing his coffers, a previously an unwelcome guest has snuck into the halls of his administration - quality control. This is what happened last Tuesday, FEMA as you know, faked a news conference about the California wildfires. No reporters, just FEMA staff posing FEMA questions to their FEMA boss. On Saturday, Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff, who oversees FEMA said these impressions will not stand, man.


MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I can't explain the fact that it was one of the dumbest and most (AUDIO BREAK) things I've seen since I've been in government. I have made unambiguously clear that nothing like this - first of all, I obviously didn't know it was going to happen. Second I made it unambiguously clear in Anglo-Saxon prose that it's not to ever happen again.


OLBERMANN: Today, Pat Philbin, one of the FEMA PR people who posed as reporter showed up for his new job - head of PR for director of national intelligence - Mike McConnell. That's when things went into bizarro world. McConnell reviewed Philbin's record and instead of swearing him in, showed him out. I just repeat that - we're told that a high ranking member of the Bush administration reviewed someone's record, found him lacking and then severed ties with him. In an event that some long prophesied as the first horseman of the apocalypse. Bringing the scholar of end of times, MSNBC political analyst, Lawrence O'Donnell, also a contributor to the Thanks for your time tonight, sir.


OLBERMANN: Even the White House, which in its heyday secretly bribed journalists for their praise, publicly criticized this bogus news conference from FEMA. Where has it gone all so horribly wrong for the Bush doctrine of preemptive stupidity?

O'DONNELL: This is a day like no other in my life, Keith. As a Bostonian, you know I'm already reeling from the Boston Red Sox winning another World Series and then I get hit with they won it in four games? That's - those are two things that are already too difficult to process. Now, this on top of the Red Sox? Now, I know I get paid for this but my analytical ability here is officially completely flummoxed. I have never seen anything like this in the Bush administration. I find myself in hearty agreement with Michael Chertoff - this is the dumbest thing I've seen in government, one of the dumbest, certainly. And hidden in this story, Keith is your candidate for Countdown's annual one honest man award, the one that I suggest this show give to that Bush administration official who says something obviously true no matter under how much pressure and that is Russ Knock (ph) who was Homeland Security overseeing this, he said that this was totally unacceptable when he discovered it. He says, "While it is an isolated incident, that does not make it any more tolerable." Where did he get ideas like that to throw around publicly? You know what his job is now? He has now replaced Pat Philbin at FEMA, someone who found that press conference totally unacceptable now has the job of making sure that never happens again. That's kind of the way you do this in a sane society.

OLBERMANN: I think I figured it out just as you were saying what happened with the housing market suddenly, abruptly coming to a halt, a lot of these guys bought in Washington and are terrified that they're going to be stuck with homes after January 2009 and thinking maybe I can get some sort of Civil Service carry-over if there's a Democratic administration or even an honest Republican one. But there is one light at the end of the tunnel or tunnel at the end of the light in this case - This slip on quality control in hiring, Mr. Chertoff does still seem committed to the Bush love of secrecy. He invited one TV outlet - one TV outlet the one from the Associated Press to his news conference while he's promised these repercussions for the lack of transparency, he's refused to say what they will be. So there's still a little life in the old boy, huh?

O'DONNELL: They actually did apparently send out letters of reprimand for the people who were involved. Those letters go in your file as a federal employee and you know, they're not good things to have in your file. It's a real reaction. It seems like a proportionate reaction to the problem, it doesn't seem like some kind of overkill and it doesn't seem like an under-reaction and it does seem like - just like baseball does in Boston, a whole new ball game. It's a - these people are - seem to be interested in trying to play politics in governing at the Major League level, at least, at least as it comes to the protocols for FEMA press conferences.

OLBERMANN: Is it possible that the Bush habit of promoting failures upward because of loyalty, is that a moot point now because most of the long-timers have moved either up or out? This is no longer relevant?

O'DONNELL: Yes. Most of the big people who get blamed for a lot of failure, George tenet, for going for the slam dunk analysis of WMD in Iraq, who, of course, got a medal on his way out the door, having been completely wrong about that. Don Rumsfeld who actually offered to resign a couple of times before Bush finally took his resignation after the 2006 election but those big ones are gone and it doesn't seem like there's a lot of other obvious ones to go to.

OLBERMANN: Well, Lawrence O'Donnell, political analyst, contributor to the Huffington Post - break up the Red Sox.

O'DONNELL: Officially flummoxed.

OLBERMANN: Break up those Red Sox. They're making the balance in baseball untenable these days. Great thanks for your time. Congratulations on your big win in the series. You did a great job.

O'DONNELL: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: What does a viewer have to do to get through a full week of television without seeing a talk show host weeping? No dog this time. Serious stuff for Oprah Winfrey.

No, this is not a preview of a new episode of "Heroes" with that cheerleader gal. This really happened. Fortunately, she, too is indestructible. Next on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Winona Ryder turned 36 today. You know what her real name is, Winona Horowitz. The Winona part; her parents got that from a town near where she was born in Minnesota. The Ryder part, she chose that out herself while talking to the director of her first movie. There was a record playing in the background by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. Mitch Ryder's real name is William S. Levise Jr. So there it is. Nobody is who they are telling you they are.

Let's play Oddball.

We begin in Auburn, Washington with a warning for cheerleaders, avoid the banner. That's what happened at the Auburn High School versus Auburn Riverside High School football game earlier this month. A thoughtful cheerleader going to pick some lint off the banner just as the team came rushing through. She's OK, just minor bruises. She even stayed and cheered throughout the game. She is, after all, NBC's own indestructible cheerleader.

To Alexeevka - let me try that in Russian - Alexeevka air field in Georgia, where Lasha Pataria just set a new record for the strongest ear. Watched by cheering family and friends, he pulled a 7,700 kilogram military chopper for 26 meters using only his left ear. He nearly collapsed afterwards. Mr. Pataria says it's just the beginning of his exploits.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was very difficult. I was very nervous. But I hope in the future, with my both ears, to move a subject twice as heavy as this one.


OLBERMANN: And he added, huh? What did you say? What? You sure Van Gogh started this way? Huh? Huh?

Finally to Shreveport, in Louisiana, for the 4-H dress up your goat day. Elmo goat, spider - that's Elmo goat. Here's spidey goat. There's reindeer goat, goats dressed as babies, hippie vans, and dogs, though they're not all happy about it, especially this little guy whose unwittingly advocating his own demise.

Two World Series wins in four years. Of course, it's also two World

Series wins in 89 years, but it would be mean to mention that. More fun

for the Red Sox tonight Alex Rodriguez is leaving the Yankees, who may have

also just hired the wrong manager. Yankee management in fact convening to

I'm sorry. This is not the right picture. Well, maybe it is.

An explanation of this ahead. First, here are Countdown's top three best persons in world. Number three, best exaggeration. Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson running a video at his campaign event extolling his record as a federal prosecutor in Tennessee, quote, attacking crime and public corruption. It turns out of the 88 criminal cases he prosecuted in three years on that job, the plurality, 27 of them, involved hill-billy moon-shiners.

Number two, best recall. Mark Taxel of Positive Promotions of Hopog (ph), New York made a bunch of red ribbon week bracelets to be given out at an Iowa School District. They're supposed to read, I've got better things to do than drugs. Except three words were printed in all upper case letter, better do drugs. Production has been halted. They have to clear out the place from the smell, the odd smell in the factory.

Number one, best nickname, Andrew Quah, a music teacher from Sydney, Australia, who has been dropped as the local candidate of the Christian Values Family First Party. There are three pornographic pictures on the Internet, supposedly all of Mr. Quah. He admits two of them are him, though he insists he must have been drunk or drugged by his political enemies while they were taken. As for the third one, Mr. Quah insists, quote, that's not my penis.

The real problem here, the nickname with which he's been stuck once these pictures came to light, parroting the same weight loss reality show we have here, Australia's smallest loser.


OLBERMANN: October 2004 may have seen the Boston Red Sox rally from the impossible, down three games to none to their hated rivals the Yankees in a best of seven playoff series, then sweeping that World Series. But this October saw the old town team rally from down three to one and then sweep the World Series, and in the middle of the final game hear the announcement that Alex Rodriguez would almost certainly be leaving the New York Yankees, followed by another report that the Yankees had hired a new manager who was fired two years ago for arguing with the team owner during a game.

Our third story on the Countdown, no wonder Rudy Giuliani was rooting for the Red Sox. In one of the most thorough spankings in series history, the Red Sox finishing off with Jonathan Papplebom (ph) striking out Seth Smith in the bottom of the ninth in Denver, outscored the Rockies 29-10 in four games. Colorado's batters struck out more than they got base hits. Their pitchers gave up an average of just under five walks and 12 hits per game.

Back in Boston, fans, their normal reserved selves, realizing somewhere in the back of their heads that as the only American league team besides the Yankees to win two titles in the last 15 years, they no longer have anything to bitch about.

And in mid-game, the agent for the likely repeat choice as Most Valuable Player of the American league, Alex Rodriguez, revealed to the media that his client would exercise a clause to opt out of the richest contract in baseball history to seek a new ad more lucrative one still. Having already offered to sweeten the deal if stayed, the Yankees had already said that if Rodriguez did that, they would not negotiate with him further. Unless things change, he's gone.

Just to round it off, the Yankees today offered their former catcher Joe Girardi their vacant managerial job. It did not go to former Yankee superstar Don Mattingly, who then quit the team. The tempestuous Yankee front office deciding it could get along with a manager who has exactly one year of experience, a year that ended with him in a public argument with the team owner on the field during a game, which led to his dismissal, even though he was voted manager of the year that year.

It's almost time for 2008. Let's turn to the sports columnist and baseball authority of the "Houston Chronicle," Richard Justice. Good evening.


OLBERMANN: First to the World Series. When did they change the rule so that it's American League versus Pacific Coast League? I mean, I know the Cardinals beat the Tigers last year, but in the other three World Series in the last four years, it hasn't just been three American league wins, it has been three American league sweeps?

JUSTICE: You mean -

OLBERMANN: Yes, three American League teams sweeping the National League teams in the last four World Series.


OLBERMANN: And only four of the 12 games were one-run games. Everybody I saw in Boston last week said any of the American League playoff teams could have man-handled the Rockies, maybe two of the non-playoff teams might have. Whatever happened to the National League?

JUSTICE: Didn't you like the Red Sox fans better when there was a lot of angst and a lot of tragedy. They got so cocky they were counting their rings before the World Series was even over. Yes, the American League has won 13 out of the last 17 games. But what you're talking about, mainly, when you talk about this imbalance is that the Red Sox and Yankees have money. They have resources. And they're smarter than everybody else too. That's a big part of it.

Look, the Cubs spend money, the Angels, the Dodgers; the Orioles spend money. But what you have in those two teams is a lot of ability to see money and put money into player development, to make moves. Look, when they need a guy, it's different. When the Red Sox needed a left-handed bat, they go and spend 40 million on J.D. Drew. They don't have to wait and get a guy out of the minor leagues and hopes he makes it. They don't have to get an aging guy.

So their margin of error is lower. But these are smart teams. You have to give them a lot of credit for understanding that building a roster is more an art than a science.

OLBERMANN: There are National League teams in major cities that get large revenues, like say the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers.


OLBERMANN: But let's talk about Alex Rodriguez for a moment, because in the city behind me here there's shock. Why is there shock? In the middle of summer after they beat the Angels in a back and forth 12-9 game, a war, he went on the Yankee TV network and the first thing he did after this game was gush about the Angels and the Angels team and the Angels ownership and the Angels manager. He's going to the Angels, right?

JUSTICE: He's probably going to the Angels or to the Dodgers. No one should be surprised about his values. The contract that he's opting out of was for 252 million dollars, not 251, not 253. The reason it's 252 is he wanted his agent - Scott Boras, who is great at what he does, wanted a contract double what any other athlete was getting at the time. At the time, Kevin Garnett was making 126 million dollars on his contract from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

At this point in his career, Alex Rodriguez, as you know, is a great player. But he will be defined by the money. I think what people - the two things that got people upset are that Yankee fans are accustomed to getting what they want. I think they thought ultimately their guys would get a deal done with Alex before he opted out of the contract.

The other part is, you know, baseball's business season begins today. There's going to be the Mitchell report on steroids. There's arbitration, all of that stuff. For him to inject himself in game four of the World Series, to bring the business side, to know that while game four of the World Series was being played, while the spotlight was on this great Red Sox team that has all these admirable qualities, he was making it about him. You know, and this is October. This is a month that he hasn't excelled in and he was injecting himself.

I'm sure he and his agent loved the idea that all these sports writers, while watching game four of the World Series, were trying to track down him and were making him the story. It sort of reflects - maybe more than sort of - reflects on his values and what certain people in the game think of him.

OLBERMANN: I think maybe it's simply this, he didn't know the season continued this late. He's never played this late night in October. So how would he know anything about it? Yes, it's mean.

Last thing, about George Steinbrenner not really being coherent all the time. And he has the history of firing managers, and his two sons have clearly inherited the bluster, but maybe not the smarts. And they just brought in Joe Girardi, who appears to be a superb manager, but doesn't take garbage from ownership. Is this - are the Yankees going to wind up hiring another new manager next July?

JUSTICE: No, the Yankees are going - well, they may end up hiring another new manager in July. But they're going to be a lot of fun. Hank Steinbrenner has shown that he has all his dad's bluster and ability to say exactly the wrong thing, to be impetuous, to be temperamental. I think it's - we're in for - if you don't like the Yankees, I think you're in for a great time.

Here's the bottom line; Hank Steinbrenner looked at Joe Torre and said this guy is the face of the franchise. He's more famous than us. He put a human face on this corporate team, and we don't like it. We want people to know we're in charge. So this is their guy, Joe Girardi. You're right, he has never been through the - We're going to understand how great Joe Torre was, that all the bluster, the tabloids, everything; he kept all that out in the hallway. He was so good.

OLBERMANN: Yes, it's going to be back to my early days of reporting.

I get to cover three managerial changes in a season. We'll find out. Richard Justice, sports columnist for the "Houston Chronicle," as always, sir, great thanks, great pleasure to talk to you.

JUSTICE: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Another day, another O.J. Simpson co-defendant takes a deal. The shadows are gathering in Las Vegas. Take a deal.

And in worsts, Bill-O goes after Tyra Banks. Watch as Tyra Banks hits him over the head with her ratings, next on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Not to get too cynical, but maybe we could just get a moratorium on daytime talk show hosts weeping. Our number two story on the Countdown, Oprah Winfrey's 40 million dollar attempt at a good deed all going wrong, turning into a sex and child abuse scandal. One of the most successful and identifiable women in the world tearfully apologizing to parents this weekend at her South African school for under-privileged girls. Winfrey suspending two matrons and the principal after allegations of fondling and physical abuse.

She told the parents, "I've disappointed you. I'm so sorry." Of the principal, she said, "I trusted her. When I appointed her, I thought she was passionate about the children of Africa. But I've been disappointed."

Under investigation, whether some of the students who Winfrey calls her daughters were sexually abused, a painful echo of her own childhood, one of the reasons she established the school in the first place. The Leadership Academy opened last January, promising under-privileged girls a safe, structured environment, maybe too structured.

Parents complained about having to apply weeks in advance to visit their kids, and rules that sometimes forbid the girls to contact their parents by phone or e-mail.

The new week of celebrity in entertainment news, but the same old story, a third O.J. Simpson co-defendant drops a dime on him. You will recall, five were arrested, along with Simpson, in Las Vegas last month. Simpson insisting none of them were armed. Trouble is, the other guys keep shooting off their mouths. Today, is was ex-security guard Michael McClinton (ph), whose attorney told reporters that Simpson asked McClinton to bring along two guns. He'll plead guilty to lesser charges, but could still get 11 years himself.

It's a big foot. It's a honey bear. It's a big-footed honey bear.

That's next. But first time for Countdown's Worst Persons in the World.

The bronze to Bill-O, goes on "Good Morning America" to blast Barack Obama for appearing on "The Tyra Banks Show" and not the O'Reilly Comedy Hour or "Good Morning America." "Look, Obama - and I told him this face to face - Tyra Banks isn't going to get you elected, OK. You got to go on The Factor. You got to go on GMA and answer the questions."

Bill, he was on GMA on August 27th. By the way, Tyra Banks' daily demo ratings are 44 percent bigger than yours.

The silver to right wing lunatic fringer David Horowitz, wrapping up his hate-fest, Islamo Fascism Awareness Week at Columbia University, said he too objected to the noose on an African American professor's door there. Quote, but I detect a somewhat of double standard at this university, in that nooses have been put figuratively on the doors of the college Republicans here who have invited me. Of course, there's always a noose over my head.

You're saying there's no difference between the real noose hanging at the black professor's office, an act of racism, and the imaginary one you see over your own head because you've been accused of being a racist? Well, there's your problem right there.

But the winner, your Department of Homeland Security. For the second time in a year, it has detained at a U.S. airport a Mr. Shaheed Malik (ph) of Great Britain. This time searched Washington Dulles for explosives. Last year he said it happened at JFK. This time he said the other two men detained with him in the interrogation room were black men with Muslim names.

Couple problems here, Mr. Malik was in our country to meet with the Department of Homeland Security. He's not just some British guy with a Muslim name. He's with the British government. You know, Mr. Bush's partners in the war on terrorists. In fact, he's the British minister for international development. He's in the cabinet. And we patted him down for explosives at Dulles, again!

Your Department of Homeland Security inspiring new anti-American terrorists since 2001, today's Worst Persons in the World!


OLBERMANN: Whether Big Foot is the living ancestor of the missing link or a perpetually recycled fraud, one thing is certain, it is even more fascinating because it is elusive. When I say fascinating, I mean moderately interesting. Nothing captures the public's imagination quite like a pseudo human with attitude, especially one that lives within two hours of Pittsburgh.

Number one story on the Countdown, Big foot, also known as Sasquatch, was in Western Pennsylvania on the 16th of September, or it might have been a baby Sasquatch, or not. Here it is, that thing in front of the tree. The infra-red photos taken by a stationary camera planted by Rick Jacobs, a hunter from Elk County, Pennsylvania, who says he was hoping to locate deer. What, and photograph them?

The exact location has not been disclosed. But it was somewhere in the Allegheny National Forest, about 155 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Actually, I thought this was a picture of the fans at a Pirates game. I'm sorry.

"I've been hunting for year," Mr. Jacobs says, "and I've never seen anything like this." The Internet is buzzing about Jacobs' creature. A representative of the Big Foot Research Organization says, quote, "my impression is that it is not a bear. It appears to be a primate-like animal. It appears to be a juvenile Sasquatch."

In fact it's a juvenile delinquent Sasquatch. But a spokesman from the Pennsylvania game commission disagrees, quitting, there's no question that it is a bear with a severe case of mange."

Meantime, nearby woodland creatures are now responding to the siting.

On that note, let's bring in the producer of "World's Greatest Hoaxes Exposed," Bob Kiviat. Good evening, Bob.


OLBERMANN: Well, here we go again. I suppose the idea that this is kind of hunched over. One picture is a little easier to make out than the other. The thing's head possibly obscured by its torso. It is hard to tell. What do you make of this?

KIVIAT: Well, you know, it's interesting, they have shot this with surveillance cameras or a surveillance camera, which is apparently what's going on a lot with phenomena these days. Surveillance cameras are captures things that are truly inexplicable. This appears to be a mystery. Right before this was shot, apparently, you see bears or a bear, at least one. So you do see something that's not a Big Foot, or something. Then you see this.

So it is truly a mystery, I think. rMD+IT_ rMDNM_I really do.

OLBERMANN: As you suggest, the camera that was planted there by the hunter also had previous taken this picture of the two baby bears. When you compare the two to the so-called Big Foot picture, your point is well taken that there is some sort of difference. We're looking at the bears. The bears have apparently glow in the dark eyes from outer space or something. Then there's this other thing.

So the basic premise of this is, if this is a stunt, the two photographs are there to create the contrast, to create the doubt in your mind. Is that the idea, if it isn't legit?

KIVIAT: Absolutely. The idea that maybe someone knew that he had set up the camera and that this was sort of a trick played on him is quite possible. But again, you're looking at a photographic anomaly. I mean, let's face it, this looks like a biped of some type. The legs look very long. It doesn't look like any bear that I've ever seen. So to call it a hoax simply because we can't explain it, I think that's not fair.

But I think time will tell. They'll analyze the photographs and time will tell what kind of image it really is.

OLBERMANN: You were with us a few years ago when Bob Heronimus (ph) admitted that he was the fellow who put on the gorilla costume to help make the Big Foot film clip from the late '60s. Do you think all Big Foot sightings are hoaxes, or are many of them mistakes, and maybe honest mistakes better than being taken advantage of by others?

KIVIAT: I think it's a combination. But everyone has to remember that in China, in the Himalayas, in other parts of the world, scientists have recovered discovered DNA, blood, hair. So sometimes there's been truly anomalous evidence associated with sightings. But a lot of the photographs, Keith, and a lot of the videos seem to be some sort of staged event.

But that doesn't mean that these particular photographs are that. I

think people have to remain a little bit open-minded so far and give this

particular camera and also the photographer who set it up a little bit of a

you know, a little room here to see what this really is.

OLBERMANN: We'll continue the investigation as time goes by because, of course, there was another sighting in New Mexico in September of another possible Big Foot. And we know only one thing that I think we can say with some certainty, that those are probably not the same Big Feet or Big Foot. He didn't travel from New Mexico to western Pennsylvania. Bob Kiviat, the producer of "World's Greatest Hoaxes Exposed," great thanks for coming in for us tonight.

KIVIAT: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this the 1,653rd day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. From New York, I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.