Friday, October 26, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Oct. 26

Guest: Howard Fineman, Michael Musto, Rachel Maddow

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Good evening, the president of the United States was once analogized to an already stressed out first grade teacher forced one day to teach a class of kindergartners and unable to restrain his rage when the younger kids did not obey or understand him. Our fifth story on the Countdown: President Bush accusing lawmakers by wasting time by again passing hugely popular children's health care legislation that he has already vetoed once. Yet, in his very next breath complaining that Congress is not getting anything done. So, in the kindergarten first grade analogy Mr. Bush can either be the teacher or any of the students in either of the classes. So much petulance so little time. In a Roosevelt Room this morning Mr. Bush raging against House Democrats who are again passing an S-chip bill that they knew he was likely to veto.


GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: The House, once again, passed a bill that they knew would not become law. And, incredibly enough, the Senate will take up the same bill next week, which wastes valuable time.


OLBERMANN: But since consistency has never been Mr. Bush's strong point, as soon as he was done scolding lawmakers for being productive, he was also accusing them of being lazy.


BUSH: And today Congress set a record they should not be proud of. October the 26th is the latest date in 20 years that Congress has failed to get a single annual appropriations bill to the president's desk. And that's not the only thing congressional leaders have failed to get done.


OLBERMANN: Amid the laundry list of transgressions as cited by the president the failure of Democrats to rubber stamp his pick to replace attorney general Alberto Gonzales.


BUSH: They have yet to move Judge Michael Mukasey's nomination to be attorney general out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Even as members complain about the lack of leadership at the Department of Justice.


OLBERMANN: Of course, there is a reason Judge Mukasey's confirmation is in limbo, all 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee demanding a clear cut statement from the nominee on whether the interrogation technique known as water boarding and also known in many quarters as torture is illegal. In his confirmation hearings last week Mr. Mukasey declining to say one way or the other. Once the president said all he was going to say this morning, it was time to make a dramatic exit.


BUSH: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, if you -


OLBERMANN: At least the door opened. Before he had departed, the president also criticizing Congress for failing to issue a blank check on his $196 billion war budget.


BUSH: They have yet to act on our emergency war funding supplemental. Even though our troops on the front lines depend on these vital funds to fight our enemies and to keep us safe at home.


OLBERMANN: Request, one request within that budget asking for $88 million to modify B2 stealth bombers to drop bunker buster bombs because of a quote, "Urgent operational need" that does not exist in Iraq or Afghanistan that leads many to wonder how eminent an air attack in Iran might be. Yesterday the Russian president, Mr. Putin objecting to the sanctions imposed by the Bush administration saying that, quote, "Running around like a mad man with a blade in one's hand is not the best way to solve such problems." Now you tell him. By this morning though, the Russian president was invoking the Cuban missile crisis. According to the "Financial Times" newspaper President Putin saying: "Analogous actions by the Soviet Union, when it deployed missiles in Cuba, led to the Caribbean crisis. For us today, from a technological viewpoint, the situation is very similar. Such a threat is being set up on our borders."

The Russian president however, retreating from his analogy almost as soon as he made it. The "Financial Times" saying Putin added quote:

"Happily, we don't see this as a new Caribbean crisis nothing of the kind... With President Bush, this is a relationship of trust. I think I have the right to call him a personal friend as he calls me."

Like Congress being both too productive and too lazy. Well, a right to call him a personal friend probably the least you could expect when Mr. Bush has got an look into your soul. Secretary of State Rice claiming on the TODAY SHOW this morning that Russia is truly on board with the Bush administration's plan.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, clearly, President Putin and Russia have voted for Security Council resolutions that express the deep concern of the international community that if Iran gets the technologies that they're trying now to perfect they could, in fact, have the technologies that could lead to a nuclear weapon. So, that's clearly shared by the Russians. The Russians also have proposed a civil nuclear program for Iran that would not allow them to have the fuel cycle it would take back the fuel rather than letting them enrich and reprocess. So, I think we clearly have the same view of this. Now, the issue is we may have some tactical differences about timing and how severe sanctions should be. But the Russians have no desire to have a nuclear armed Iran in their neighborhood because, after all, Moscow is a lot closer to Iran than the United States.


OLBERMANN: The secretary obviously joined Matt and Meredith from her private home there. Time to call in our own, Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine. Howard, good evening.

HOWARD FINEMAN, NEWSWEEK: Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Democrats in the House not picking up any new votes on the S-chip this time around. One of the Republicans who have supported the previous bill, Congressman Ehlers of Michigan voted against the new one. Where was Mr. Bush's declaration that he won this round of S-chip today?

He sounded not victorious but probably as angry as we have ever heard him. If the Democrats were hoping to keep solely to keep S-chip in the news, keep pressure on the president, did they succeed?

FINEMAN: Yes, I think so. I think that's what they're trying to do the other day when the Dalai Lama was in town the president and the congressional leaders hosted that religious figure and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid took the opportunity to try to invite the president to some face-to-face personal negotiations over the S-chip. The whole point being here that the Democrats think and the polls show that they have the upper hand politically on this. And they're going to keep driving it as much as they can. So I have, you know, covered George Bush for a long time. I have - I don't think I've seen him quite that ticked off looking in person - in public. I think some of it is staged but a lot of it is real as well because he knows he is on the short end of this politically.

OLBERMANN: And to what degree is he on the short end of it? The Democrats also said they might extend S-chip, the current one through next summer and vote on it again in September or October of 2008. As I recall we have an election in November of 2008. In terms of political strategy did the Democrats actually just pull off some you know political strategy?

FINEMAN: Maybe. But the real thing going on here is that they don't want to touch the tax. They don't want to raise taxes. They don't want to propose raising taxes. So their whole strategy this fall and probably in the next year is to say, look, we're spending too much money on guns and not enough on butter and, as a matter of fact, I'm told that the first spending bill that they are going to send down to the president is the one with all the spending on education and health care in it. So, their theme is going to be this president is not spending the money where it should be spent on people here in America and the S-chip thing is just the sort of the point of the lance of that strategy they are going to pursue all year long.

OLBERMANN: In terms of strategy and PR problems, let me bring to your attention this new poll from the Associated Press which almost looks like an April fools joke. Just in time for Halloween though. Americans who believe in ghosts - 34 percent. Americans who believe in Mr. Bush's leadership in the war in Iraq - 31 percent. Should this be plastered on every mirror in every Congressional Democrat's office when he comes back and turns up the heat for the $196 billion war funding request?

FINEMAN: Well, it should be. But, my sense of it is that the Democratic leadership is not going to try to stand to thwart that request for money. They're afraid to do that in a real thorough going sense, to really lay down and say we're not going to let this pass. They're afraid to do that and also afraid to propose tax increases to pay for it, so their alternative strategy is the one I've been telling you about. You know, I think that fortune favors the brave in politics sometimes. And my sense of it is that the Democrats are so scared of being labeled with the tax-raiser-terrorist-lover label from a very unpopular president that they are sometimes still deer in the headlights there up on the Hill.

OLBERMANN: Last question, these reports about possible contempt citations from the House on Josh Bolton and Harriet Myers for refusing to come up with any kind of testimony that they shelved in one case before the Judiciary Committee subpoena. Is there anything to it or is it just Friday with the fewer headlines than we actually needed?

FINEMAN: Yes. I don't think it's going to be at the top of the list of the leadership because I think they have much bigger goals here in terms of trying to show that the president is wasting hundreds of billions of dollars on a war that shouldn't be fought. The U.S. attorney's thing has fallen beneath the radar for most people.

OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of MSNBC and "Newsweek." Of course, great thanks, Howard. Have a good weekend.

FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: For more on the foreign policy problems cluttering the president's desk specifically Iran, let's turn now to Flynt Leverett, the former National Security Council official under Mr. Bush who is now at the New American Foundation, thanks again for your time tonight, sir.


OLBERMANN: If 18 months praising the virtues of collective action against that nation - against Iran and this administration suddenly takes unilateral steps with sanctions hoping that the coalition will follow afterwards? Does that - is there a reason that sounds familiar and any reason it will be more successful now than it was in Iraq?

LEVERETT: I don't think there is any reason to believe that this is going to be successful. The measures announced yesterday by Secretaries Rice and Paulson will certainly not generate strategic leverage over Iran that will make them change their position on the nuclear issue or other issues of concern that we have with them. It's a feckless course that was laid out yesterday and it's basically a feckless strategy that the administration is pursuing.

OLBERMANN: It's feckless. Is it provocative as well? Should those sanctions imposed yesterday be viewed as a provocation? Does it suggest the, you know, pick up the gun thing from Shane that we are trying to make Iran make some sort of first move?

LEVERETT: Well, it will certainly be viewed as provocative in Tehran. I think it will be viewed as provocative in other important international capitals like Moscow and like Beijing, even in the capitals of some of our European partners like Germany. In terms of the intra-administration dynamic, I think it does indicate that the forces of moderation, such as they are, on this issue in the administration, Secretary Rice, perhaps, Undersecretary of State Nick Burns, that these forces are, in fact, losing control of the policy debate. They're losing standing on this issue. The course that they have laid out in the Security Council is not producing the kinds of results that they have promised. And, harder line voices in the administration and elsewhere are gaining ascendancy in the policy discussion and I think that the risk of a confrontation between now and the time President Bush leaves office in January of '09 is rising.

OLBERMANN: Can you interpret the various sounds on the subject made by Mr. Putin of Russian relative to what Secretary Rice said suggesting that everybody is in all in one corner on this regarding Iran.

LEVERETT: You know, I think it's true that the Russians don't want Iran to be a nuclear weapons state, but they are much more comfortable than we are with the idea that Iran could have a civil nuclear program that included some fuel cycle activity on their soil. I think they are much more comfortable with that than we are and they are also balancing other interest here not just their interest in and with Iran, but they have an important strategic concern from their perspective with what they see as excessive U.S. unilateralism, that their view of Iraq war it was a unilateral assertion of force by the United States. They don't want this to happen again with regard to Iran. And if it does happen, they are trying to put in place things that would increase the political cost to the United States for, yet, another unilateral act of force in the Middle East.

OLBERMANN: So, is there a way then to interpret this invocation of the Cuban missile crisis relative to the European missile system, the defense shield stuff? Was that just some sort of flare sent up from a guy in distress saying, look, I don't want this to get worse, you've got to understand what this feels like?

LEVERETT: I think it was in a way more symbolic than real. There is no way that President Putin wants or anticipates a military confrontation between Russia and the United States. He believes that there is a whole series of things going back several years where the U.S. has unilaterally acted against or disregarded Russian interests. This radar site is one more example of that and he is in various ways increasing the display of his displeasure.

OLBERMANN: And now we can rest safe in our beds not worrying about the Russians, just worrying about everything else. Flynt Leverett, the former Middle East senior director of thd National Security Counsel for the current Bush administration. Once again sir, thank you for your time.

LEVERETT: Thanks very much.

OLBERMANN: Now here's how you run a new conference about FEMA's response to the California wildfires. No reporters allowed. FEMA not only answers your questions. It writes your questions for you.

And the like Bill O - last month, he was marveling that patrons of the Black owned restaurant were not shouting - I want more ice tea and pepper (ph). Now he's claiming J.K. Rowling is trying to indoctrinate America into unwanted tolerance of gays. What was that talk about him trying to talk two women into go to bed with each other? Ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: When it came to manipulating the media the Bush administration used to try real hard, paying Armstrong Williams for favorable columns, that was a secret for a long time. When a plant was needed at White House press briefings to ask softball questions, some effort was made to make it look like he might have been a reporter, Jeff guker. But in our fourth story on th Countdown: The erstwhile (ph) reporter asking fluff questions of FEMA employees, about the agency's response to the California wildfires, we're not ringers, they were just other FEMA employees. In a news briefing Tuesday, FEMA deputy administrator vice admiral Harvey Johnson took several questions from the gathered assemblage, knocking them down one by one with stunning ease, a fact brought into perspective by today's "Washington Post" which reported that the questions were not from reporters at all but from FEMA staff. In fact, FEMA today said not a single journalist attended the news conference. The press conference, the de-press conference. It was held with all of 15 minute's notice. Real journalist could call in but they were not permitted to ask questions. No one knew that on Tuesday however, when both MSNBC and FOX NEWS carried it live. If you saw it with a massive natural disaster underway and Americans demanding answers with a Federal government with a checkered response record, you probably noticed just how hard-hitting FEMA questioned FEMA. If you missed it, we assembled a quick montage of the verbal fireworks.


QUESTIONS: Sir, we understand the secretary and the administrator of FEMA are on their way out there? What is their objective and is there anyone else traveling with them?

Are you happy with FEMA's response so far?

Can you address a little bit what it means to have the president issue an emergency declaration as opposed to a major disaster declaration? What does that bring for FEMA?


OLBERMANN: Could have been worse. Somebody could have shouted heck of a job, Harvey. Let's turn now to a real journalist, EJ Dionne, columnist for "Washington Post" and senior fellow at Brookings Institute. EJ, always a pleasure, sir.

EJ DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Always a pleasure except I have to say I'm a stunt double provided by FEMA tonight and they are doing a heck of a job in that PR department.

OLBERMANN: Yes. You're a remarkable likeness to the real one. All right. Explain why this is a no-no so fundamental that anybody in the PR business, let alone somebody in the Bush PR business should have known beforehand?

DIONNE: You have to ask what they were thinking. And all I could think is that reality didn't work for them very well in Katrina, so why not fixing, I mean the thing that so stunning about it is it so unnecessary - if you wanted to put out that information, he could just put that information, he could just go up there and answer all those question without somebody playing a kind of game of jeopardy. You know, here are the answers, let's figure out the questions to ask. It was just crazy. It was, in a sense, a visual lie. And I don't understand what they were thinking also because, as you mention, this administration has had a rather substantial credibility problem. And maybe we're not giving them enough credit because, as far as you can tell, at least the information they put out yesterday was accurate, which is not what the administration can always claim.

OLBERMANN: This is though, E.J., it's literally a comedy stretch come to life, Bob Ray (ph) did this, write down to a government spokesman, handing the reporter a script, part of it the reporter reads the statement that the spokesman has written for the reporter and then the spokesman reads the answer, which he's also written and his answer is why that is not even a question. Are we just not paying enough people or enough people enough money to get good people in government to avoid having to hire nit wits who not only realize what they're doing is wrong but what they're doing is actually laughable?

DIONNE: Well, they must to watch you a lot because you're a big fan of Bob Ray (ph). So, maybe they went back, I learned recently that they got started during boredom at rainouts from my dear Boston Red Sox. That's how they got it going. I don't think they're - you know, nit wits in the government is a standard line and there are plenty of civilians in the government and plenty in the civil service who are not nit wits in fact, one of the problems we've seen in this administration is the imposition of an awful lot of political people over an awful lot of serious professional people who are very frustrated. I mean, I don't even think pay can be the factor here because I don't know how much you could pay people very little and they would still be smart enough to know not to pull a stunt like this and not to imagine you couldn't get caught. You know, Al Cayman (ph), my colleague is a great guy at finding things out. But eventually it might occur to somebody to leak this and it happened pretty quickly. So, I don't get it at all.

OLBERMANN: Yes. Now, the response to this is Dana Perino was all high and mighty about this is not the way we do things and Department of Homeland Security which runs FEMA says someone may be reprimanded. But in the context of this administration, is that fair? I meanm this administration has been dedicated to fighting transparency and using media as propaganda tools. This is, you know in some senses, a perfection of the ideal if not an execution.

DIONNE: Well, you know, we had the whole controversy over video press releases that passed as news all the time. And it occurred to me at a time of media cutbacks; maybe this is the ultimate package. We not only give you the news but have pretend reporters that you don't even have to pay. But, again, you know, FEMA making this mistake and an administration with this track record, I guess, somebody in there is being paid by the Democratic National Committee.

OLBERMANN: One would think. E.J. Dionne of the "Washington Post" and Brookings Institution. Great thanks of your time, sir.

DIONNE: Good to be with you, thank you.

OLBERMANN: A quick update on the real news out of California tonight, for thousand of fire evacuees, this was homecoming day, except for those who found that they had no home to come back to. More than half a million fled the wildfires in Southern California, especially around San Diego. Fires in seven counties have destroyed half a million acres - almost 800 square miles in just under a week. Today some of those fires continue to rage, burning down on Silverado Canyon and 750 more homes there. The fires have thus far claimed 1800 homes.

Breaking Britney Spears news. At her custody hearing, she swears at a reporter the quote was - Eat it, lick it, snort it, blank it. Late-breaking details ahead. Also, we need to remind you that crime does not pay. And especially it does not pay here in Fun City, U.S.A. The store proprietor has an ax, sir. Flee. That's next. This is Countdown.


OLBERMANN: On this date in 1881, brothers Morgan, Virgil and Wyatt Earp and their pal Doc Holiday faced with brothers Frank and Tom McLaurie (ph), Billy Claiborne and Ike and Billy Clanton. At the time the event in Tombstone, Arizona Territory was described in a newspaper account as a quote, "desperate fight between officers of the law and cow-boys," "cow-boys" hyphenated.

History calls it the gun fight at the O.K. Corral. There were only eight guys there yet there have now been at least nine movies about what happened. Which tells you something about our culture. On that note, let's play "Oddball."

We begin right here in New York City where Wyatt Earp ain't got nothing on convenience store clerk Habiz Saheen (ph). When a masked man with a gun tried to rob the store late one night Ms. Saheen made a move worthy of the movie "Men and Black." Remember sanitation guy with the long gun? Please, she reached under the counter and drew out an ax and started swinging away, eventually the would-be robber was chased out in the street. Doc Holiday filled him full of lead.

To Qingdao, China, where a fish shortage has left the local aquarium no choice but to feed the hungry whales small children instead. Just kidding. This four-year-old tyke actually is actually buddies with the beluga whale.

Apparently likes to swing in his tank, ride his back and give him kisses. All kind of like "Free Willie" except for the fact that the whale is still in captivity.

Bill O. is at it again. J.K. Rowling is a quote "provocateur, part of the bid to indoctrinate American into being tolerant of homosexuality."

This is a guy whose producer said he pressured her and a friend to join him in a menage a trios.

And Rwanda, you're on your own. Paris Hilton says, quote, "I've heard it's really dangerous." So her visit there has been postponed.

But first time for Countdown's "Goofballs and Good Guys," our top three best persons in the world. Number three best defensive strategy, manager Terry Francona and bench coach Brad Mills and the Boston Red Sox. Colorado Rockies had sent scouts to study Boston reliever Jonathan Papplebaum (ph). They knew he rarely tried to pick runners off base. So when Matt Holiday got on in the eight inning of the second game of the World Series last night the Rockies decided to have him try to steal but the Red Sox had seen those Rockies scouts studying Papplebaum and they scouted Holiday and they noticed he liked to try to steal on the first pitch. On the first pitch they had Papplebaum try to pick him off and he picked him off and the Red Sox won.

On question, why the heck is he trying to steal second with a tying run, the cleanup hitter up and two out?

Number two best creative embezzling, David Brooks, former chief executive, DHB Industries, a body armor manufacturer, arrested after diverting $5 million company money into his family's hands including 122,000 to buy iPods and cameras to be given away at his daughter's bar mitzvah and 101,000 to buy the family an armored vehicle. Number one best chance?

Kelly, from Great Britain, a polling company there has produced a list. The names of women who men believe are most likely to sleep with them on the first date. Number five, Steph. Number four Becky, number three Debbie, number two Tanya and number one Kelly. So all you women out there named Tanya Kelly, stay home tonight.


OLBERMANN: "That's what this Rowling thing is all about." Bill O'Reilly began. But listen to the rest of it anyway. "It's another in the indoctrination thing." The Rowling thing? Author J.K. Rowling answered a reared question about whether one of her Harry Potter characters had ever found love by explaining one week ago tonight at Carnegie Hall that the character was gay. The indoctrination thing, "parity for homosexuals with heterosexuals."

Our third story on the Countdown, a month after his racist remarks about a New York restaurant, O'Reilly now coming out against tolerance a little more than four years after according to the lawsuit from his former producer Andrea Mackris, Bill O tried to talk her and a female friend of hers into performing homosexual acts while he was present. To paraphrase the hypocrite's mantra, do as I say, not as I fantasize.

O'Reilly's favorite complaint against critics of his work. They never watch it. They don't know the context. He admits he has never read any of Rowling's books. He even made a slip on air didn't know if J.K. Rowling was a man or a woman. As the other old saying goes, that never stopped us before. O'Reilly, Tuesday.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: You know, why did she do it? She did it to provoke. I think this is a provocateur. This woman is a provocateur.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is a very smart woman...

O'REILLY: Now, many parents are worried in America about the gay agenda and indoctrination of their children to see homosexuality in a certain way. That debate is raging all over the country. This now becomes part of that debate, does it not?


OLBERMANN: When his guest said no, naturally, he came back on Wednesday and said it even louder.


O'REILLY: There are millions of Americans who feel that the media and the educational system are trying to indoctrinate their children to a certain way of life and that includes parity for homosexuals are heterosexuals and that's what this Rowling thing is all about, because she sells so many books, so many kids read it, she comes out and says Dumbledore is great. That's what the belief system in among some Americans.

DENNIS MILLER, COMEDIAN: I will be honest with you I don't think can you indoctrinate them into being gay. You might indoctrinate them into...

O'REILLY: Tolerance. You are not going to be gay but tolerance of it.


OLBERMANN: That's Dennis Miller looking for the fire exit there. Just for the record item 40 from the Andrea Mackris lawsuit:

"On or about March 9-13, 2003, defendant Bill O'Reilly joined plaintiff Andrea Mackris and other staff members at the Peninsula Hotel for cocktails. Plaintiff Andrea Mackris' college friend was with her. O'Reilly approached the two and commented, 'University of Missouri, boy, I would have had fun to you," and alluded to having a menage a trios with plaintiff and her friend."

And there is item 41. "On or about May 2003, defendant Bill O'Reilly took

plaintiff Andrea Mackris and her college friend to dinner. O'Reilly

repeatedly propositioned the women, suggesting that the three of them 'go

to a hotel together and have the time of their lives.'"

Just remember when you do it, it's something being fisted among America by provocateur indoctrinators like J.K. Rowling. When Bill O'Reilly does it it's the time of his life. Here is Rachel Maddow, the host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on Air America. Hi.


OLBERMANN: Could it be that I'm just missing something here? Maybe he wants less tolerance of homosexuality in this country so there is more for him to enjoy on a private basis. Is this just supply and demand dressed up as something bigger?

MADDOW: Even if we could stay away just for a moment for me on the image of what Bill O'Reilly wants to do with any other human being in a hotel room? Even if you just take the case against tolerance. It reminds me of the right wing talking point heading into the '06 elections where they kept intoning San Francisco values to try to scare us about the prospect of Nancy Pelosi being speaker of the House. And the idea was be afraid of the tolerant people. Be afraid of the place where there is less prejudice and less discrimination. The idea that they are actively, you know, willing to make the case for being intolerant is kind of refreshing but it is little worrying.

OLBERMANN: By the way, San Francisco values turned out to be cheaper Rice-a-Roni. Transparent hypocrisy in this and several fairly complicated psychological issues on his personal level. We know he needs treatment. We have known this for a long time. Why is this bigger than one man and his falafel, as it were?

MADDOW: We can tell from his public statements and what we know in the legal record that he seems to be a little mixed up about the sex. And so a lot of people are mixed up about sex. We are a nation of people who are mixed up about sex. That's who we are. But not everybody gets to elaborate on national television. But so while mostly I think he just makes an idiot out of himself there is a line where it approaches a little bit scary where the Venn diagram of idiotic and scary overlap and there is Mr. O'Reilly in the middle. And that is when he actually decides he wants to make a concerted agitating case on television for being intolerant of the gays.

OLBERMANN: And definitionally on what J.K. Rowling was doing in the book. He doesn't have the term right. Indoctrinate means to instruct in a doctrine, principle, ideology, etc, especially in view specific partisan or biased belief and point of view synonyms are brainwash, propagandize. If she said Dumbledore liked parrots.

That's not indoctrination, is it?

MADDOW: Dumbledore wasn't teaching a class in the book to brain wash the kids. I mean, if the - if the presence of a secretly gay character was enough to brainwash people into liking the gays, think about how different the U.S. Senate would be, you know?

OLBERMANN: Senator Dumbledore of Idaho. We might have something new and germane about the endlessly asked question on this though, Rachel, how he gets away with. Fox Noise's Washington bureau chief was speaking to journalism students at Texas Tech last night and said this. Let me quote this precisely.

"Bill O'Reilly is not a journalist. It's an opinion based program. I think we get unfairly smeared because of Bill O'Reilly and it has a huge following. I don't agree with half of what he says, but that is what characterizes Fox News."

Is this - this is the classic straw man argument too because Fox News is not biased or racist or sexist or homophobic just Bill O'Reilly is. It's not like Fox News has any control over what he says or whether he ever appears on television, right?

MADDOW: The unfair smear. How on earth could you hold us accountable for hiring this man who says these things that we disagree with? Yeah, it's a little hard to take.

OLBERMANN: It's an amazing thing. If only people's lives weren't at stake it would be hilarious and entertaining and I would watch. Rachel Maddow, of Air America welcome. Thanks for coming in the place.

MADDOW: Thanks for having me, Keith. It's lovely.

OLBERMANN: It is. It's part of the (inaudible).

Have a good weekend. Here is something else you never see, a Kevin Federline, Britney Spears custody hearing and there is breaking news here, she swore at a reporter and I mean big time. That will keep her around.

And the long arm of the worst person in the world reaches into the White House. Who will it be? Who will it be? Next on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: The death of Princess Diana now more than 10 years ago was stunning enough. The longevity of the accounting of that death may be more startling, still.

Our number two story, "Keeping Tabs" begins with what appears to be the first formal testimony about her final words. The British inquest jury hearing witness accounts of her final moments that night in the backseat of her Mercedes after the crash that immediately killed her boyfriend and driver.

Witnesses who stopped after it smashed into a concrete pillar describing how photographers were jockeying for pictures of her in the smoldering wreckage, one of them shouting, she is alive or hurry up she is not yet dead. One Frenchman who stopped to help, asked if she was trying to speak, said she was saying "Oh my God, oh my God."

The inquest is looking into all aspects of the death including any evidence there might be of foul play.

Moving on to happier topic of marriage. Actually, not all that happy in the case of the actress Nicole Kidman and country music star Keith Urban. Ms. Kidman telling "Interview" magazine she will never say she is happy being married because, "In marriage you never know what tomorrow will bring."

Might have a point. Urban, for instance, entered drug and alcohol rehab last year just a few months after they got married. Kidman says they are committed, deeply in love, marriage is complicated and beautiful if not happy. By the way Urban just celebrated 40th birthday. Let's hope she sent him a card wishing him a complicated and beautiful commemoration.

Today, Britney Spears' custody hearing full of swear words. Breaking news on that with Michael Musto next.

But first, time for Countdown's "Worst Persons in the World."

The bronze to the police of Concord, New Hampshire. Stephen Rivers saw flames shooting from the home of his elderly neighbors. He ran into the inferno to save the husband. He ran back in to save the wife. Then he freaked out. Might have been the smoke. Might have been the terror. He may have hit a firefighter and he passed out.

That's when Concord Police charged him with assault and resisting arrest.

That will show you, you damned Good Samaritan.

Runner-up, Glenn Beck. He is now being used to try to deny global warming.

Telling his sheep, that the hottest year in global history was 1934. Actually, 1934 was the hottest year in American history, as for the globe, where all of us live, the hottest year was 2005. Followed by 1998, 2002, 2003, and 2006. I mean, I know facts aren't mandatory what you do but isn't it embarrassing when you get them wrong every day?

Speaking of which our winner White House press secretary Dana Perino insisting there are quote, "health benefits" to climate change. "I'm sure lots of people would love to ridicule me when I say this but it is true many people die from cold related deaths every winter and here are studies that say that climate change in certain areas of the world would help those individuals."

Keeping them alive so they can die of lung disease, drowning, exposure or later on in the global warming process, after the temperature become nothing but terrifying peaks and valleys, cold related deaths every winter, especially when temperatures drop below minus 39. At least you got the part right about ridiculing her.

Dana, "global warming will be fun at first," Perino. Today's "Worst Person in the World."


OLBERMANN: When it comes to regaining custody of her own children, Britney Spears holds the key to her own success which is why she always comes off as somebody standing next to an AMC Pacer while holding a bent coat hanger.

In our number one story in the Countdown, another court hearing has concluded in Ms. Spears custody battle with Kevin Federline. A progress report of sorts with Ms. Spears losing it during one of the courtroom breaks.

Meantime Paris Hilton's plans to save Rwanda and well, Rwanda will have to wait. The trip there has been postponed. The charity involved relying that trip would have been filmed as part of a reality show.

To Spears, Federline, the first time they are facing each other in family court, Ms. Spears lips are enormous, Botox, perhaps? Night crawlers? Access Hollywood reports that during a break Ms. Spears was sometimes sobbing and that once, Spears she told questioning reporters to eat it, lick it, snort it - blank it. The hearing didn't change much, of course. That last part could have been due to big lips, too, couldn't it? K-Fed still has custody. A new order from the court addressing a number of specific issues will not be issued until next week in a morning issue attended only by lawyers Mr. Federline's counsel requested that an upcoming deposition by Ms. Spears be videotaped. Their reasoning it would be funny - no, transcripts of Ms. Spears' testimony do not capture her dripping sarcasm.

Commissioner Scott Gordon - Commissioner Gordon denied the request though he implied that Ms. Spears hardly deserves such privacy given her courting of the paparazzi.

That the paparazzi following Ms. Hilton to Rwanda would have been part of the point. But her trip now postponed because the charity she was traveling with, the Playing for Good Foundation is being restructured. The charity says no the trip would not have been turned into the reality show called "The Philanthropist" or "The Millionaire starring Jay Barris Byrd Hilton" (ph).

Bringing in "Village Voice" columnist Michael Musto. Probably got that

reference. Michael, good evening.

MICHAEL MUSTO, "VILLAGE VOICE": Hi, Keith. Eat it, lick it, et cetera.

OLBERMANN: There it is. Access Hollywood also reporting here that after this mantra to reporters during that break her lawyer tried to calm her and kept whispering to her just smile, just smile.

MUSTO: Just say dooby dooby doo or something inoffensive.

OLBERMANN: Isn't that sort of the summation of her life right there, that she is swearing and somebody is telling her just to smile.

MUSTO: And swearing at a reporter which is really her bread and butter as it were.

OLBERMANN: So we go a progress report. Is there any progress?

MUSTO: Yeah. I heard people showed up. She has good reason not to submit to random drug tests, she is on drugs, OK? She was afraid it was a test where had you to answer questions. Give the kid a break. Leave Britney alone.

OLBERMANN: She is on random drugs in fact. It's even worse than that.


OLBERMANN: Federline's lawyers try to use her attitude as justification to videotape the deposition, the idea being that she comes off badly on tape. Boy, these lawyers, you can't get anything passed them, huh?

MUSTO: It's that very attitude on video that has made Britney's career and sold millions of records. If attitude was punishable by law, K-Fed would be on death row. Why don't we take a random drug test of him. You take a blood test you'll find like Aramis and Cheez-Wiz, that should be illegal.

OLBERMANN: The kids have gotten custody of their parents. When the Spears lawyer expressed concern that a videotape like this might wind up on YouTube or TMZ or something else, Commissioner Gordon agreed that the danger existed but he got in some digs. Supposedly saying, "Your client's concern on paper but the ongoing pattern with the media and the kids doesn't square."

Are we thinking here the commissioner is on to the fact that Ms. Spears courts the spotlight?

MUSTO: Yes. She is a press whore. She has made the world her gynecologist. And I agree with this Gordon guy. You are trying to get custody and yet all you care about is that your deposition don't end up on YouTube. And you allowed that VMA performance? Something is not square here in Squaresville.

OLBERMANN: That would be great if they videotaped it and the lip synching didn't match up on the videotaped deposition. That would be a story.

MUSTO: You're shattering all my illusions now.

OLBERMANN: Thank you. I do what I can.

She apparently used the court-ordered monitor when she showed up with her kids yesterday according to TMZ. The four of them went to a toy store, the monitor drove the car and Spears and Federline have attended their first parenting class together? Is there some light at the end of the tunnel here or what?

MUSTO: Well, it was a sex toy store. It counts. And in the class she did the same thing she always did in school. She slept with the teacher to get a better grade but it counts. My girl is giving head - making headway.

OLBERMANN: More colorful details. Federline looking at Ms. Spears, she would not return his gaze. Her lips are huge. During the break she appears agitated. What do you think of this, Michael? Are those lips taking over? Are they holding Britney Spears hostage?

MUSTO: The ones on her face?


MUSTO: Apparently the same bee that bit her breast a few years ago has now bit her mouth. Her whole being is swelling where soon you won't even be able to find a vein.

OLBERMANN: Let's close off with the inimitable Paris Hilton who had discussed going to Rwanda and talked about it with "Newsweek" magazine she said, "Yeah, I'm scared, yeah, I have heard it's really dangerous." Surprise! "I have never been on a trip like this before."

"Newsweek" also quoted the founder of the charity saying it would have been a reality show. He is no longer with the charity. Was there any real charity here or was this, in fact, a TV publicity stunt?

MUSTO: I think Donald Trump stepped in and said you are fired Mr. charity man. By the way, Keith, there were parades in the street in Rwanda today. And Paris herself was relieved. She thought she was going to meet Rolanda Watts. The good news is she can now complete filming "Repo, the Genetic Opera."

So it is good news for everybody all around.

OLBERMANN: The one and only Michael Musto. Great thanks, Michael.

MUSTO: Eat it. Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Oh. Thank you very much.

On that note that is Countdown for this, the 1640th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. From New York, I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.