Friday, November 30, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Nov. 30

Video via YouTube: Tom Tomorrow comic

Guests: Jonathan Alter, Eugene Robinson, Jon Soltz, Laurence O'Donnell

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Sex on the city, "Rudygate" day three, riding to the rescue, Bernard Kerik who says this is all ridiculous. I'm sure Giuliani welcomes the support of a guy just indicted on 16 counts of governmental fraud and from his ex-deputy mayor who first insists Mayors Koch and Dinkins handled their security bills exactly this way and then says, "I'm going to reverse myself on that. I don't know when it started. I don't know why it started." The candidate, himself, now refusing to say anything. The latest on Giuliani's tryst fund.

And Mitt Romney is in favor of open-ended immigration but only from one group from one foreign nation. Cubans. Quote, "In my opinion the more the merrier." Everybody else has to get an immigration identity card.

Out of context Congressman Murtha says the surge is working. Republicans stopped listening right there and declared victory. The rest of his sentence was, "But that's only one element. The Iraqis have to do this themselves." If they only hear what they want, obviously they'll only say what they want. Now the Secretary of State accused of planting a question in one of her own news conferences and even Andrew Card can't believe what Karl Rove said about how Iraq started when did because Congress pushed for a vote sooner.


ANDREW CARD: Sometimes, his brain gets ahead of his mouth. And sometimes, his mouth gets ahead of his brain.


OLBERMANN: And I'll read you the Friday Night comic strips. Bill O'Reilly's very useful advice for young people as channeled by vile Left-wing smear merchant, Tom Tomorrow of the "Village Voice." Topic number nine - sex. Sex is a very special thing that happens between a man and a woman who are married and is also something that an employer may occasionally discuss on the phone with subordinates of the opposite gender in a perfectly innocuous and non-creepy way. All that and more, now on Countdown.

OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Friday, November 30th, 340 days until the 2008 presidential election. Our fifth story on the Countdown: Sex on the city. The good news, a long-time friend a man once seen as joined to Rudy Giuliani's hip has rushed to Giuliani's aid. The bad news, the long-time friend is disgraced and 16 times indicted, ex-New York City police commissioner, Bernard Kerik. And then again, if the subject is using public facilities to enable illicit liaisons with mistresses while on the taxpayer's dime, Mr. Kerik knows his subject better. Day three of the scandal and only Mr. Giuliani seems to think his version will be the last word on the matter. The candidate refusing to take questions about the allegations, while in South Carolina today saying, quote, "We've already explained it," and walking past reporters after a town hall meeting. The problem - the story and the accounting does add up. The New York City Comptroller's Office, the one during Mr. Giuliani's term were first to raise questions. Their requests to the Giuliani administration completely ignored. The current city comptroller, William C. Thompson Jr., telling the "New York Times" that travel expenses should have been charged to a single budget account. Quoting him, "It's definitely not the preferred way that one would like to see business conducted." You will recall that Mr. Giuliani said yesterday that this was just the standard way to see that the bills got paid quickly and that the police department reimbursed city hall eventually. Today, the once and current police commissioner, Ray Kelly saying, he has never known the NYPD to have a problem paying its bills on time before Mr. Giuliani was mayor nor since. Commissioner Kelly adding, there is no review of spending practices underway by the department at this time. But not to worry -

Giuliani's own top cop coming to his rescue. Bernard Kerik, putting aside his own share of scandal to give his former boss a character reference. Quote, "There would be no need for anyone to conceal his details, travel expenses and I think it's ridiculous for anyone to suggest that the mayor or his staff attempted to do so." But today's award for best performance by a former Giuliani employee, sorry Mr. Kerik, goes to Joe Lhota, who served as deputy mayor. Mr. Lhota is telling the "New York Daily News" on Wednesday night, that the Giuliani administration billing practice has, quote, "Gone on for years and predates Giuliani." When told yesterday that officials from the Dinkins and Koch administrations had refuted that, Mr. Lhota and the entire story crumbled. New quote, "I'm going to reverse myself on that. I'm just going to talk about the Giuliani era. I should only talk about what I know about." On that encouraging and hopeful note for mankind time to turn to our own Jonathan Alter, senior editor of "Newsweek" magazine. John, good evening.


OLBERMANN: We've heard representations (ph) that this is business as usual in the city of New York from Police Commissioner Kelly, who's had two separate terms around the Giuliani administrations; the current comptroller of the city of New York, Mayor Koch denied this. Officials in Mayor Bloomberg's office, officials in the Mayor Dinkins administration. Why is Rudolph Giuliani with the weight of all that, think his will be the last word on this?

ALTER: Well, he has Bernie Kerik's endorsement. I mean, it's like getting an endorsement on bathroom etiquette from Larry Craig or safety tips from dick Cheney. I mean, you know, this is the guy who really has great credibility when it comes to playing it straight in the New York City Police Department. And the scandals just keep popping up to this day about Kerik. So, the idea of this not being squarely in some regard is ridiculous. Whether it's patently illegal is a different question. I don't think everybody should get hung up on it necessarily being illegal. There can be big problems including ethical problems that are not necessarily illegal. So, for instance, just for comparative purposes, the former comptroller of New York state, (INAUDIBLE) you know, his wife, who had cancer, was getting rides, you know, from state paid automobiles and he had to resign over that and here you have Giuliani's case, his mistress is getting, you know, round-the-clock police protection. It wasn't quite clear when the handoff went from his wife to his mistress in terms of the city of New York protecting her, so there are a lot of questions out here that we still need to have - .

OLBERMANN: Yes, there was certainly, there was an overlap. I think what Kerik is saying is, your wife is not threatening to write a book about all this, so it's a little less of a scandal than my scandal as a scandal. But, is the problem about the last six years and Giuliani and facing inquiries about this official and now merely from the media, is it really twofold, that one, nobody is explaining why these obscure agencies would have gotten these bills, whether it was practice or not practice? Oh, it's practiced. Why are you doing it that way? There is some element that doesn't seem to make sense to it. And, two, why they didn't clear this up when they were originally asked to clear it up by the comptroller's office after Giuliani left office?

ALTER: Well, I mean, on the first one, yes, this is what's propelling the stories. People are wondering why the Loft Commission, the commission on special disabilities, I mean, the Loft Commission have to do anything with the fact that there were, we now know there were, you know, trysts involved, love nests involved, maybe in lofts for all we know and quite a few of them. And that's not just piling on Giuliani. I think people say oh, come on. Trysts? Those of us who live in New York, you know, this was a daily part of our lives in 2000, this seeing all of the, apparently not all of but revelations about these kinds of trysts and I do think they haven't handled it in a very smart way in the last couple days. Today, apparently they were actually man handling some reporters who were trying to ask him questions about it, which could be a sign of things to come.

OLBERMANN: And a starter if you want to get people interested in a story from a media point of view start shoving reporters around. The other side effect of this, you just mentioned it, what people in New York took for granted, which was this storm and drum (ph) about Rudy and his women and basically firing his wife on TV, which he did. Is there a side effect coming on this nationally, "The oh, yeah effect," oh, yeah he has kind of an infidelity issue, kind of a morality issue?

ALTER: Well, I think a lot of people in the rest of the country don't know a lot of the details. They say oh, come on. He didn't really fire his wife on TV. That didn't really happen, did it? And that's just a bunch of liberals were saying this. But as they sort of pay closer attention, they find out, yeah, actually that did happen. There is video of him telling a television audience before he tells his own wife that he's dumping her and so some of the details of all of this are starting to seep out and when I was in Iowa a few days ago, I did hear some Republicans start to raise some questions about whether his personal life was going to get in the way.

OLBERMANN: It's there. We'll see if it's in the way. Jonathan Alter of MSNBC and "Newsweek." Great thanks for coming in. Have a great weekend.

ALTER: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: We'll see you next week no doubt. There is no similar meltdown yet for Mitt Romney, the GOP candidate leading in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, at least not yet but a Republican pro choice group is hoping to change that by labeling him a flip flopper on that issue. The group, Republican Majority for Choice, targeting the former Massachusetts governor with a $100,000 ad buy set to begin airing in Iowa and new Hampshire on Sunday.


ANNOUNCER: In 1994 Mitt Romney was pro choice.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.

ANNOUNCER: In 2001 he flipped, saying, "I do not wish to be labeled pro choice." In 2002, he flopped.

ROMNEY (voice over): I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose.

ANNOUNCER: This year, he flipped again.

ROMNEY: I'd like to see Roe V. Wade overturned.

ANNOUNCER: Take a stand Mr. Romney. On behalf of the Republican Majority for Choice, ask Mr. Romney to flip flop just one more time and stay there.


OLBERMANN: More possible ammunition for Governor Romney's critics to use against him, the issue of immigration and something very specific to it as well. The governor having argued against all illegal immigration at Wednesday's Youtube debate, all the bickering with Mayor Giuliani to the exclusion of the other candidates. But one day earlier, before the editorial board of the "Tampa Tribune" newspaper, Mr. Romney have said tougher immigration enforcement should not apply to Cubans, no matter how many, no matter they might get here. The more is the merrier he said. Let's bring in "Washington Post" associate editor and columnist, Eugene Robinson. Gene, great thanks for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN: Well, let's start at the back with that abortion ad, the flip flop label, whether justified or unjustified is just one that resonates with people for some reason. It devastated John Kerry in the 2004 election. Is this the sort of thing that could cut a hole through Romney, too?

ROBINSON: Well, you know, I think it has been - it's a negative forum and it's been a negative forum all along, this idea that he has flip flopped on a number of issues, especially abortion. And in abortion, it's not an issue on which it's that easy to change your mind. If you think it's murder then, you know, yesterday, you think, you're likely to think it's murder tomorrow and if you don't yesterday you're likely not to tomorrow, so it's - I think it's always been difficult for him to explain how he kind of came to this road to Damascus moment and changed on the issue and this ad that kind of has him going back and forth on what is, to many people, were defining, bed rock issue. Can't do him any good.

OLBERMANN: Yes, and the side effect or the sound effect rather is very impressive, too, the creaking door. They outdid themselves this time. The candidate who's now surged in the polls behind Romney, Mike Huckabee, Romney targeted Huckabee directly in remarks on the campaign trail today. The pro choice group that produced the Romney flip-flopping ad, could the tactic back fire? Could they hope to end up, you know, a southern Baptist minister like Mike Huckabee by default?

ROBINSON: Well, you know, I think Huckabee was already starting to draw the most committed social conservatives out in Iowa and that's what's responsible for his rise in the polls out there. And I suspect his rise soon in national polls. You know, he is, this is his defining issue, and so I don't think a lot of people were going to be driven to him. I think he'd be in people who were kind of looking up and saying, well, gee this guy is awfully committed and maybe he has a chance to win, so we'll go with him. I think they were going to go for him anyhow.

OLBERMANN: Given how aggressive Romney was on the topic of illegal immigration and has been throughout the whole campaign particularly in that debate on Wednesday night. Is there any straight line between the guy who was in the debate and the guy who went before the "Tampa Tribune" editorial board talking about how any Cuban wants to come here should be admitted no matter how they got here?

ROBINSON: Well, I think, Keith, and I think you're actually suggesting that there is some pandering going on to the Florida electorate. I'm shocked you would think that such a thing was happening. It's kind of difficult when you phrase your opposition to illegal immigration the way Romney has. He's trying to be seen as kind of an absolutist on the issue and saying, oh, yeah but for Cubans, you know, that's different. You know, keep in mind, though, that has been the hypocritical position of the entire country for decades now, that Cubans, you know, boy, you got your foot on U.S. soil and you can stay and the more the merrier and in that sense he's just kind of enunciating what's been the policy of successive administrations.

OLBERMANN: Yes. I'm kind, we sort of want Venezuela and Cuba together in terms of dictatorships but I guess Venezuelans who would thought, I don't know, either I'm too complicated for or it's too complicated for both of us.

ROBINSON: It's too complicated for both of us.

OLBERMANN: Gene Robinson, columnist and associate editor of the "Washington Post," great thanks, Gene. Have a great weekend.

ROBINSON: Good to see you.

OLBERMANN: And a day-long disruption for the Clinton campaign today with a hostage situation that ended just hours ago. At one of her campaign headquarters in New Hampshire, SWAT teams swarming in shortly afternoon eastern, when a man walked in through the Rochester, New Hampshire store front for Clinton claiming to have a bomb strapped to his chest. That sent local schools into lockdown. The man holding then, eventually releasing several young campaign workers while negotiating with the police. The Edwards and Obama store fronts in the same city were shut down as precautions. About six hours later the suspect came out, untaped the device and surrendered. The Associated Press identified him as Leland Isenberg (ph). Local reports call him a troubled individual who had been arrested there three times this year and who had warned his son to watch the news today. His only reported demand, to speak to Senator Clinton. She was in Washington and said all this when it was over.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was in touch during the day with the families of those who were held hostage and I really commend their extraordinary courage under, again, very difficult circumstances. This has been a very hard day for all of us in our campaign.


OLBERMANN: But it all ended peacefully. The war over in Iraq, how will that end? Republicans on the Capitol Hill and the Right wing lunatic, Blogosphere anything but reasonable when it comes to how they're spinning Jack Murtha's latest comments about the surge. The comments and the context next. And having helped push America into the war in Iraq, new revelations about how the Secretary of State helped push herself into that job. You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Did Jack Murtha say the surge is working? Finish, end of communication or did he say the surge is working militarily but not politically and the Iraqis have to do it for themselves? The lunatic fringe gets into another lather hearing what it wants to hear.

Plus: A report tonight that the Bush administration habit of trying to fix the news goes as high as Secretary of State, Rice. She planted a question at a news conference where she was answering the questions. Ahead, here on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: For the congressman who's been a forthright opponent of the war in Iraq, it was another honest assessment from his point of view on conditions in Iraq. But for the Right wing it was a chance to paint him as a hypocrite and to renew fallacious charges that the Democrats are threatening to cut off funds to the troops in Iraq. Our fourth story on the Countdown: Congressman Jack Murtha says in essence the surge is working militarily but not working politically. The troops are doing their job but the Iraqi government is not its. Congressman Murtha's comments came after he returned from a trip last week to Iraq and other countries in the region. "I think the surge is working but that is only one element," he said in a teleconference to reporters in four cities. "It's working because of the increase in troops but the thing that has to happen is that the Iraqis have to do this themselves."

And Murtha said in the same teleconference that the Iraqi central government was, quote, "Pretty close to dysfunctional" and that quote, "We can no longer afford to spend $14 billion a month on the war." But Right wing blogs called Murtha a hypocrite who now supports the surge and the House Republican whip, Roy Blunt did his part, presaging no doubt the disingenuously weighed argument to come, "With one of the Democrats' leading war critics now saying the surge in Iraq is working, it is difficult to understand why the majority continues to push an irresponsible withdrawal plan that jeopardizes critical support funding for our troops." This afternoon, Mr. Murtha said in a statement that quote, "The military surge has created a window of opportunity for the Iraqi government. Unfortunately the sacrifice of our troops has not been met by the Iraqi government." Let's bring in Jon Soltz, who served as an army captain in Iraq in 2003 and is currently the chair of Jon, good evening.

JON SOLTZ, VOTEVETS.ORG: Thank you. How are you, Keith?

OLBERMANN: Congressman Murtha's office issued that statement part of which I just read as if to clarify something that had only been distorted by people who wanted to distort it. I mean, it hasn't it been clear even to supporters of the surge, supporters of the war, that there were two aspects to the surge, what would happen militarily and the opportunity and the mandate that it created for the Iraqis politically?

SOLTZ: Yes. I mean, obviously here, they're spinning Jack Murtha's thought. I mean, we learned very young as army officers when we study military strategy that according to Klasovich (ph) that war is politics by other means. And what we really need from the surge is a political success of Iraqi reconciliation and reconciliation across the Middle East. And look, this is no surprise when you put five combat brigades in Baghdad, 15,000 to 16,000 of the best fighting men and women in the world inside the, you know, the city streets of Baghdad, you're going to control terrain. I mean, they're the best in the world. That's what we expect. But we've seen no political progress. And you know, this is their ability to try to spin what Jack Murtha said, you know, the same what they use to Ken Pollack and Michael Hannalen (ph) statement when they came home, to try to support a surge that were basically declining anyway. I mean, First Calvary Division is pulling a brigade out of northern Iraq as we speak and did not replacing it. So, the surge is basically, is on the downside now and we see no political progress. And it is what it is.

OLBERMANN: First and last time that the credentials of Jack Murtha and Michael Hannalen, let alone has been considered close. If the surge, is as you pointed due in any way, the argument of the military success of it, it becomes less relevant, does it not? I mean, the focus should be how best do you deal with a government that hasn't come close to the kind of political reconciliation that's necessary?

SOLTZ: Well, in Kosonov and Bosnia and Haiti and many wars of this country, we use military force to create political leverage - the threat of going in to get political reconciliation or the threat of going out to get political reconciliation. This administration has done neither, so it's a really you know, big problem and the point with the surge ending is twofold. One, the American army has been decimated by this administration. You know, when George Bush ran for president in 2004, he argued that we didn't need to increase the size of the army. When he became president in 2000, he wanted to go from ten combat divisions to eight. So, we have to pull these brigades out anyway, so, you know, there's nowhere else to go. And the second part of it is that this is a political strategy on behalf of the White House not to lose the war in Iraq but it's not a strategy to win the war in Iraq and that just not good enough when you have the best army in the world over there fighting. Because the president, he just doesn't want to loss but he has no strategy to win.

OLBERMANN: Yes, the point of expectations, Jon, I mean, the reaction to Murtha seems to be as if this was a final score, as if there were a surrender onboard the Missouri after World War II. Oh, boy. Murtha said the surge is working. Erase the rest of the sentence and that's it. That's all those who want this war want, is for somebody to say, yeah, we had a military success there or relative military success over the last three months by having a number of troops there.

SOLTZ: It's not the end all for the soldiers that are in Iraq or the American public that knows Osama Bin Laden the man who attacked this country on 9/11 is sitting in a country that's you know, about to fall apart and has a nuclear weapon in Pakistan. And that's a humungous, obvious concern here. For the Republicans and the president, this is the final straw for them. They're concerned about getting you know, clocked in the election next year, the Senate and the House Republicans with the loose seats in both sides and possibly the White House. So, for the president it is an end all. His only strategy here is to not lose which is to pump the football on the war in Iraq for the next president.

OLBERMANN: Jon Soltz, co-founder and chairman of As always, Jon, great thanks, have a good weekend.

SOLTZ: Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN: Well, they put me in a cartoon on the Simpson's last week. Why shouldn't the Frank Burns of news get his own? Bill O in the funny pages. We'll read it to you live. Bringing your bike to life in ways never before imagined. Whatever happened to the good ole days? You just have a little bike with the (INAUDIBLE) on it, a little bell that just go and down, and the baseball cards and spokes. Let's go to a commercial. We'll be back.


OLBERMANN: On this date in 1874, Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born at the family home Glenham (ph) if you want to call a palace that covers seven acres a home. Of the million interesting things he did and said in 90 years of life, we mention on this birthday the shortest of his brilliant comments. If you're going through hell, keep going. Let's play Oddball.

We begin in Queens. The "New York Times" has found a new breed of biker. See those boxes on Mohan Samaros (ph) bike? They're speakers, including four twelve inch speakers pumping out 150 decibels. But wait. There's more. A whole group of Caribbean kids are tricking out their bicycles with top quality audio systems. The guy on the right, well the one on the right there, that plays his Ipod. The one on the left went old school, he's got a 50 CD changer. But it's not just audio. This man has got a DVD player upfront. Me, I had one of the metal bell things in mind of it and I was partial hearing and seeing oncoming traffic before it was too late.

But Badarada (ph) , Australia, home of the next Steve Irwin - 19-year-old Stewart Parker who's about running 50/50 odds of ever becoming 20-year-old Stewart Parker, says Nelson, all seven feet of Nelson, have been best buddies since he was a kid. Nelson's diet includes live mice, chickens, rabbits. Does Nelson ever get a hankering to throw Stewart on the Barbie?

STEWART PARKER, GATOR MAN: He's not trying to get. It's an alligator's way of asking for food.

OLBERMANN: I cannot stress this enough. Mr. Chambers, Mr. Chambers, to serve man, it's a cook book! Remember, sir, Nelson may think of you not as Stewart Parker but merely as Stew.

To Hong Kong, where a bevy of Spanish hair stylists have landed to display their talents just in time for the festive holiday season. Thus, customers at a local shopping center became guinea pigs or rather the lucky recipients of the latest craze. What's that? Holy yule tide, there's a Christmas tree in that woman's hair. Holidays are grand.

That's right, nothing says Merry Christmas quite like a hair-do that will keep you from sleeping at night. There is an old "Saturday Night Live" sketch like this with Maureen Stapleton (ph). But I don't have time to explain it right now.

The administration's latest fake news scandal. Condi Rice planted a question with a friendly reporter. And the epic that is the life of Bill-O told in a sweeping new comic strip. The dramatic reading ahead. These stories coming up, but first time for Countdown's top three best persons in the world.

Number three, best free election excuse, the bronze here goes to Rodrigo Cabrezas, the finance minister in Venezuela, accusing business leaders and citizens in that country in advance of the vote Sunday that would expand the powers of President Hugo Chavez of trying to create a sensation of product shortage during the elections by hiding vast quantities of toilet paper. We know there are sectors that are hiding toilet paper, he adds, accusing the sectors of, quote, playing dirty.

Number two, best compartmentalization, Terry Dison of Liverpool, England. At a court hearing, he was barred from driving for a month after a drunk driving incident. so six minutes later Mr. Dixon was arrested driving home.

And in number one, best strong police response, Detective Lieutenant Leo Borowsky of the police department of East Point, Michigan. Happy's Pizza delivered a pie, some chicken, some ribs and shrimp, a combo priced at $17.18 to 19-year-old Jessica Gray. She took the food and stiffed the guy. She wouldn't play - wouldn't pay rather, or play.

Police came back and then she and the friends would not open the door to the cops, so the cops opened the door with a battering ram. Get the door. It's Happy's Pizza and they've got a battering ram.


OLBERMANN: From the president who promised to restore honor and dignity to the White House today we get not one, not two, but three examples of current and former top officials trafficking in dishonesty, in some cases rewarding it and treating it literally as if it were a joke. In our third story tonight, lies and consequences; desperate to shake responsibility for Iraq in 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came up with a PR strategy to distract attention from her role in the war, according to a new book by "Washington Post" reporter Glen Kessler (ph).

Kessler today telling C-SPAN that a Rice aide planted a question with a, quote, friendly journalist about a potential presidential run, thus inflating her image and also succeeding in moving the conversation off of Iraq. Of course, at this FEMA news briefing in October we already knew that all the questions were fake. The fake reporters posing those fake questions to that real FEMA official were, in fact, his subordinates, tossing, as you might suppose, the softest of softballs.

Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff, who oversees FEMA, reacted with outrage, calling it one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I've seen since I've been in government. And that's saying something.

Today we learned how he responds to dumb and inappropriate behavior, with promotions. Take FEMA reporter Cindy Taylor (ph), now heading FEMA's Private Sector Office, fake FEMA reporter Mike Windomsky (ph), promoted to deputy director of public affairs. And, in our third example, you may remember the lie that Karl Rove told to Charlie Rose, like Rice, shifting blame for Iraq elsewhere, astonishingly to the Democratic Senate from 2002.


KARL ROVE, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: One of the untold stories about the war is why did the United States Congress, the United States Senate, vote on the war resolution in the fall of 2002?


ROVE: This administration was opposed to it. I'm going to talk about that in my book.

ROSE: Tell me. Give me something.

ROVE: No, no.

ROSE: Give me something.

ROVE: I just did. I told you the administration was opposed to voting on it in the fall of 2002.

ROSE: Because?

ROVE: We didn't think it belonged within the confines of the election. There was an election coming up in a matter of weeks. We thought it made it too political. We wanted it outside the confines of it. It seemed to make things move too fast. There were things that needed to be done to bring along potential allies abroad.


OLBERMANN: We showed you here proof of Rove's dishonesty from the White House website, but the White House itself never weighed in. Only today, when asked point blank about it, did Mr. Bush's former chief of staff confirm Rove's dishonesty, in a manner suggesting the administration lies about a war that has killed and maimed thousands of Americans, constituted a joke.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, "MORNING JOE": Karl Rove went on Charlie Rose and he blamed the Democrats for pushing him and the president into war. Is that how it worked?

ANDREW CARD, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No, that is not the way it worked.

SCARBOROUGH: What the heck? Seriously, what the hell was that about?

CARD: The Democrats have pushed us into a lot of stupid things, but they didn't push us into war.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes, yes. You worked with Karl. Is that Karl spinning beyond the White House?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Spinning out of control?

CARD: Karl is very smart and he's - sometimes his brain gets ahead of his mouth. And sometimes his mouth gets ahead of his brain.


OLBERMANN: And sometimes neither of them works. Let's turn now to MSNBC's political analyst Laurence O'Donnell, also a contributor to Good evening to you, sir.


OLBERMANN: If the White House and Card knew that Rove had lied on national TV in such an audacious way about the White House, about the war, why wouldn't they correct the record at the time or maybe the next day?

O'DONNELL: I think from the White House perspective, Rove no longer works there. He is not our responsibility. But really, Keith, it's hard to think of a president like this. It's hard to think of someone of a high position in the White House being out of the White House for a few months and then saying things that everyone knows are completely false. I mean, no one from the Nixon administration came out and said, oh, gee, the Democrats forced us to break into their campaign headquarters.

It's just the strangest thing. I think the White House was probably as shocked by Rove's audacity as all the rest of us were. You know, the only defense you could come up with for Rove, other than lying, is that he simply doesn't know what he's talking about. I mean, that's the most honorable defense. He was not in any of the National Security Council meetings leading up to the war. He wasn't really a player at all in the decision making leading up to the war.

It's very clear from the accounts of those meetings in Bob Woodward's books and other accounts of how this proceeded that the White House was, in fact, very eager to get this done at a certain point in the calendar, and the Democrats in no way, no conceivable way, added any urgency to what became George W. Bush's mission in Iraq, and when to start that mission.

OLBERMANN: The second part of this, though, is not just What rove said, but what Card said today, this explanation that he was merely blabbing something faster than he could think about it. I mean, that's nonsense on the face of it, because Rove specifically said it is something he had already decided to write about in his book. And it's conceivable it just came to his head at some point, and now he is trying to rationalize it and put together something that explains what he said on the show or what happened five years ago. But, clearly, either way, Card's answer does not explain Rove's answer. And you've got - the question is why would Card replace one lie with another one?

O'DONNELL: You know, Andy Card worked with him. They're sort of friends. But not really. Card did flatly contradict him. He's not going to find the most negative language he can come up with to contradict him. But Rove - people who worked with Rove in the White House, there is a lot of negative opinion about Rove from people who worked with him in the White House. And that opinion now is much more available off the record now that Rove is out of there.

I've heard a lot of stuff from people over the last couple months and more this week about how this is typical Karl stuff. This is - he did a lot of this in the White House, hip shooting. And not just in this, but in predicting election outcomes that were wrong in 2006. He really did tell those people in the White House in 2006 that we really are going to win this Congressional election. And so they're not - the White House, I don't think, thinks of Karl as being one of their big sources of truth.

They think of him as a spinner. They think of him the way Democrats think about James Carville. I don't mean to suggest that Carville was ever dragged in front of Grand Juries the way Rove has been because of his problems with the truth, but that these guys are spinners. They're not the people you turn to for honest opinions or honest frames on anything.

OLBERMANN: He already had his math. Apparently he has his history now. But Secretary of State Rice is often treated as though she is somehow different from the general run of Machiavellis you find in the Bush administration, as if her problem is incompetence rather than dishonesty. But does this story about the calculated PR campaign and the questions slipped into the friendly reporter - does that suggest we ought to start viewing her as just another one of the Bush boys?

O'DONNELL: Well, she has a real PR problem. I mean, what she - what they did at the State Department was very different from what FEMA did, which was completely outrageous. What they did is very standard in politics. Mike Bloomberg's people have been urging reporters to ask him if he is running for president for years, and reporters do ask it because it's a fun story. And so getting a reporter to ask Condoleezza Rice if she was running for president was not such a big deal.

What's so desperate about it is that it includes the attempt to reframe her image coming out of the Iraq war. David Kay, who was the weapons inspector chosen by the administration to go into Iraq after the invasion, looking for weapons of mass destruction and finding none, said at the end of his experience in the Bush administration that Condoleezza Rice was the worst national security adviser who ever held the job.

So that is the image she is trying to work against as secretary of state. And it is a big hill to climb.

OLBERMANN: Laurence O'Donnell, political analyst, contributor to the "Huffington Post." As always, great thanks and have a good weekend.

O'DONNELL: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: I love trouble or conspiracy theory? Julia Roberts in a new straight to video release today, paparazis 11. And the surgeon general of the United States bashes Santa Claus. Worst persons ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Little in the vast diorama covered in our number two story, Keeping Tabs, maybe more vexing. When it's rich celebrity versus obnoxious paparazzi who make nice incomes off annoying celebrity film stars, for whom do you root? The latest, Julia Roberts complaining earlier this month to "Vanity Fair" that the obsession to get pictures of her children and celebrity kids makes her stomach churn.

Now this tape surfaces. Just as in the movies, Roberts using her best Broderick Crawford (ph) stunt driving skills to chase down a snoop who was staking out her kids at school.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Julia. How are you?

ROBERTS: No, listen. You can turn your video camera off. I'm going to talk to you about the fact that you're at a school where children go. Turn it off.


OLBERMANN: Tonight, meantime, the death of a celebrity whose odds of living as long as he did must have seemed astronomical. Dare devil Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel had been in failing health because of diabetes and lung disease, not because of the broken bones he had suffered over the years. The closest he had come to death was a month-long coma after he crashed trying to jump a Las Vegas fountain in 1968.

Knieval was colorful at minimum. They started out watching me bust my ass, he said, and I became a part of their lives. His biggest success might have been a failed attempt to jump an Idaho canyon on a rocket powered cycle. It made him internationally famous. His grand daughter says he died today in Clearwater, Florida. Evel Knieval had just last month turned 69 years old.

The "Village Voice" savages Bill O'Reilly by means of comic strip. We'll read you the highlights ahead. That's ahead, but first time for Countdown's Worst Persons in the World.

The bronze either to Santa Claus or the nation's acting surgeon general, Rear Admiral Steven Gelson (ph) who told the "Boston Herald" that we should stop portraying St. Nick as a jolly fat man; "it is really important that the people who kids look up to as role models are in good shape, eating well, and getting exercise. It is absolutely critical. Santa is no different."

There's your freaking war on Christmas.

Speaking of which, our runner - up, Bill-O. The Fixed News promotional sheet for his program reads, furry, funny, and full of attitude. Alf is in the Factor out of the world event. Plus, Laura Ingram rails against the fornication of TV, that Bill-O has helped to create. Could it be a negligee situation? Also, furry, funny, and full of attitude? If I'm Laura, I'm not taking that laying down.

And our winner, the perpetually anonymous spokesman for Fixed News or Fixed Business News, who is usually Roger Ailes or a proxy. "Variety" reported Fox had a, quote, strong interest in hiring Jim Kramer away from our sister network cNBC, so the proud spokesman, who will never identity himself or herself by name, sent a series of e-mails to TV blogs that all sounded pretty close to this, quote, strong interest? Try no interest. Jim approached us about coming to FBN, and we turned him down because he has no ratings at cNBC and was fired from FNC years ago.

They'd kill for Kramer's ratings. By the way, Alexis Glick, Liz Klayman, Neil Cavuto, the heart of a Fox Business machine being watched by literally dozens of investors, each of them dropped by NBC and CNBC. Fox's perpetually anonymous spokesman, but it's usually Roger Ailes, today's Worst Person in the World.


OLBERMANN: Mayor Laguardia did a lot for New York in 12 years on the job, but he was remembered most fondly for generations by New Yorkers who had been kids during the city newspaper strike in July, 1945. Laguardia took to the city-owned radio station and read the funny papers, the Sunday comic strips that were not running in the New York newspapers that were not being printed.

Our number one story on the Countdown, now I am no Laguardia, but I know a good schtik when I see one. So when the "Village Voice" printed two pages worth of Bill O'Reilly's very useful advice for young people, as channeled by vile left wing smear merchant Tom Tamarrow (ph), I thought you kids at home might enjoy it if Bill-O himself read you about half of it. So, you all ready? OK, let's go.

Hello. I'm Bill O'Reilly. You kids may think of me as a creepy old guy from the TV. But if you buy my new book "Kids Are Americans Too," you'll learn that I'm actually a hip and with it guy, who can really relate to the young generation. And I'm here today to prove it. So let's get started.

Topic number one, dating. As you young people mature, you'll start noticing the opposite sex. You'll find yourselves wanting to spend more time together. You boys may even be tormented by the urge to call young ladies on the phone to discuss hypothetical sexual activities in a manner that some people might consider inappropriate. I advise against this.

Topic number two, friendship. Everyone likes to have friends, but sometimes friends disagree. If you have an argument with your friends, here's what you should do; call them cowards until they agree to appear on your show. And then, if you don't like what they say, cut their microphones. What are they going to do, whine about it on some blog?

Which brings us to our next topic. Topic number three, the Internet. I know that you young people enjoy using the computers, but always remember the Internet is a very dangerous place. It's filled with vile hate mongers who spread lies and distortions about me, Bill O'Reilly.

Topic number four, my ratings. One thing that's very important for you young people to understand as you set out on your journey through life is that my ratings are much higher than Keith Olbermann's. And that's not the only thing about me that's bigger, but that is a topic for a few years from now when you're old enough to enjoy a harmless non-creepy double entendre.

Topic number five, Britney Spears' panties. She keeps losing them. What's up with that? I make a similarly hilarious joke within the first few pages of "Kids Are Americans Too." Anyone who tells you this is creepy should be ignored because they are lying.

Topic number six, falafels. They're a delicious Middle Eastern food staple, not to be confused with fibrous bath sponges. Little advice for you fellows, definitely don't take any falafels into the shower or suggest to any young ladies that you would like to do so. That's a mistake you'll regret for the rest of your life. Trust me on this one.

Topic number 11, "the Daily Kos." You young people can decide for yourselves what you think of Democrat (sic) candidates who boycott a fair and balanced Fox News debate but attend a vile, hate-filled "Daily Kos" convention. So go ahead, decide.

I think they're not fit to be president.

Well, what an astute young person you are, dog.

Topic number 12, the ACLU. This is the most dangerous organization in America today. They're worse than al Qaeda and the "Daily Kos" combined. ACLU stands for atheists, communists and liberals united to destroy everything good and decent about this country. You can look it up, though I would prefer that you did not.

Topic number 15, Christmas. I'm sure you may have many happy memories of Christmas time, since you are young people who enjoy that sort of thing. Well, if George Soros and the ACLU have their way, there won't be any more Christmas time. You see, the secularists have declared a secret war on Christmas and it is so secret, I'm practically the only person who knows about it. But if they have their way, you'll be standing around the holiday tree next Christmas singing songs about pagan gods and exchanging gift donations to UNICEF.

And I won't let that happen. You hear me? I won't, because I'm the only person looking out for you. Me, Bill O'Reilly.

Topic number 16, cartoons about me, Bill O'Reilly. Ignore them. They're not funny. If you want a good laugh, read some cartoons that make fun of George Soros and the ACLU, or that one with the conservative duck. That's what I call humor.

One more thing. Keith Olbermann's penis is really, really tiny. Just saying.

That's Countdown for this the 1,675th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. From New York, I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

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

Guests: John Harris, Jonathan Alter, John Edwards, Naomi Klein, Michael Musto

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Rudy Giuliani's love shack in the Hampton's, security expenses charged to New York City taxpayers. Was his office in the city's doomed emergency command post at the World Trade Center used the same extra marital affair? The Giuliani staff including the billing of his tryst related expenses to outfits like the New York City Office for people with disabilities hit the fan.


RUDY GIULIANI, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, it's not true. I had nothing to do with the handling of their record. And they were handled, as far as I know, perfectly appropriately.


OLBERMANN: As far as he knows. And still the question of how well he knows - the man who let Khalid Shaikh Mohammed escaped capture by the FBI five years before 9/11. Will Giuliani and Romney wound one another at the debate. The lunatic right wing fringe goes nuts over questioners who may have had peripheral connections to Democratic candidates. If you can't handle the Democrats, how are you guys going to handle al Qaeda? John Edwards join us on how the Democrats are handling the opportunities presented them by the Republican self destruction. And the new catch phrase for open-campaign fundraising that it's an election, not an auction.

Disaster capitalism. Is that what the administration has done in Iraq, with Katrina, at every turn? Seen not suffering, but opportunity to get reconstruction profits for their best friends. Naomi Klein, author of "The Shock Doctrine," joins us. I'll plug my book and to say thanks again for it on the Amazon's Movers and Shakers list.

And breaking Paris Hilton news: She's even dumber than you thought.


PARIS HILTON, CELEBRITY: How would an elephant get off (ph) in the first place? Why would I talk about that? Why would I care? Elephant got drunk - can an elephant get drunk?

OLBERMANN: Oh, boy. All that and more, now on Countdown.

OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Thursday, November 29th, 331 days until the 2008 presidential election. In a radio ad, the Rudolf Giuliani campaign started running last month in Iowa. The former mayor of New York says, quote, "I have no question I can do the same thing for Washington that I did for New York City."

Now, our fifth story of the Countdown: If he's talking about what he did for the residents of New York City, that would mean President Giuliani could be expected to bill obscure Federal agencies for security expenses incurred on weekend getaways with the mistress, maybe even provide a Secret Service driver and car for this future hypothetical paramour. If he means that he could do the same for Washington that he did for Judith Nathan specifically - well, you know I'm going with that. Your top sellers in action - new day, new revelations for America's so-called mayor to deny. This afternoon's bombshell coming from the blogger at Well before it was publicly known, he was seeing her, the then married Mr. Giuliani provided a police driver city car for his mistress, Judith Nathan, the woman who would become his third wife.

One former city official who worked for Giuliani telling ABC quote, "she used the PD" the police department, "as her personal taxi service." This coming on the heels of yesterday's bombshell from that many of the security expenses for trips Giuliani to made, to rendezvous with Miss Nathan in the Hampton's, were initially billed to obscure city agencies. Mr. Giuliani dismissing that story today to ABC as a pre-debate hit job. Further in an interview with CBS News, Mr. Giuliani claiming that the police department really paid for those expenses anyway, explaining because the NYPD could be slow at first to cover its bills, city hall would find a way to cover the invoices in any way it could, calling it standard operating procedure that started from his first term.

If only that were the case, why did, as ABC reports, New York City own comptroller begin to question the accounting? Why did then Mayor Giuliani office decline to provide any details? Ed Koch, who served as mayor of New York from 1978 to 1989 saying today, it looks to him as if Mr. Giuliani acted improperly and appears to be covering something up. On CBS earlier tonight, Mr. Giuliani with a different take on how this will appear.


GIULIANI: It will show that we do things honestly, honorably, above board. All of this is easily explained and all of it is very discoverable.


OLBERMANN: Giuliani's accounting regularities were uncovered by We're joined now by its editor-in-chief, John Harris. John, thanks for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN: Let's start with news stuff, the meat of the ABC report is basically your report amped up by one degree, specifically saying that those hidden expenses involved over time and per diem costs for officers traveling with Giuliani to secret weekend rendezvous with Judith Nathan in the fashionable Hampton's. That is tax supposed (ph) money for spending taxpayer money, does his answer today wash that it was long standing policy, that is a way to pay the bills quickly, that the police department reimbursed city hall for it?

HARRIS: Well, a couple of things. We did give him a chance to make that answer when Ben Smith, who first broke the story on Politico took what he's reporting to Giuliani campaign and to Giuliani in all ways a couple of days in advance. They had no response. So, it's certainly taken him a while to come up with this response. And the thing that is still not answered is why obscure agencies like the New York City Loft Agency. This is not how most trips were charged. The most trips you can look at in the books and they're billed more conventionally. You can see it charged to the mayor's office and, yes, indeed, it does get reimbursed to - the police department does get reimbursement, but it's all very easy to see. The records that we saw were not easy to see. No one had seen them except the city comptroller for several years. And we still don't have an explanation of why.

OLBERMANN: And the other part of this, the other ABC story today - he's mayor, he's providing a police driver and a city car for his mistress. Unfortunately, he also has a wife at the time. She also gets a police driver and city car. A year ago, the comptroller of the New York state had to make a deal with prosecutors after he'd been found using state employees as chauffeurs for his wife and she had physical problems, emotional, health problems. She was also his wife. That comptroller had to resign, pleaded guilty to a felony charge to avoid going to prison. Could the Judith Nathan police taxi story be bigger than just political scandal for Rudy Giuliani? I mean the fact, comptroller scandal was criminal, might this be criminal?

HARRIS: I don't have any evidence this is criminal. And I will say in fairness to him, it wasn't very long before his relationship with Judith Nathan became public. So, presumably, she may have been at some security risk. I don't know. That's not our story suggested. I don't think the ABC report suggested criminality. What it does suggest, it always looked definite efforts being made to build these obscure agency, apparently to conceal the financial record. It's unwelcome because it does kind of open a door to a part of his mayoral term that he's not particular eager to have subjected to public scrutiny here a month out from the Iowa caucus.

OLBERMANN: And after his juncture, is that campaign approaching critical mass? You have a car and driver for his then mistress; you have transferring security costs to these weekend trysts to the obscure city agencies, the report that came out in August from Wayne Barrett that he and the mistress would also rendezvous at seven World Trade Center which was that disastrous choice he made for where to put the city's emergency response bunker. Bernard Kerik, you don't have to say much more that, except that he was using an apartment that was donated for the use of 9/11 emergency workers to rendezvous with his mistress, Judith Regan, who's still threatening all sort of dire consequences, the perjury may have be suborn. At what point does a Republican candidate who was already viewed with suspicion by a large part of his party, to what - does he have to necessarily collapse under the weight of drip, drip, drip or can somebody like this survive something like this?

HARRIS: You know, beats me. I've been surprised to the degree with to which Rudy Giuliani has had Teflon-coating, not just on personal matters, but also on ideology. You know, he's got a lot of positions that don't traditionally fit well with the conservative base. He's done well so far. So, I don't know. What I will say about this episode is that it shows that he has - I mean he did not handle this well. If he had answered these questions initially, it's possible this wouldn't have blown up in such a big way. We had a stone wall. And then, you know, series of answers that still don't really fundamentally address the question. And it seemed with that tactic's done, it's prompted a whole lot more additional stories.

OLBERMANN: Right. And there's one coming tomorrow in the "New York Times" on his use of statistics in the campaign, whether he's been the one who's reduced crime, reduced taxes or if, in fact, they increased. So, you're right. It is tended to make people much more suspicious than they were at the beginning of the week. John Harris of, who got this ball rolling. Great thanks for your reporting and for some of your time tonight, sir.

HARRIS: Thanks a lot.

OLBERMANN: Mr. Giuliani finding no sanctuary during the rest of last night's Youtube Republican Debate, the entire first half hour devoted to illegal immigration and the man who were leading in the early primary states, Iowa and New Hampshire, former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, accusing the national front runner, Mr. Giuliani of having retained New York status as a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants when he was mayor.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to have to recognize in this country that we welcome people here legally. But the mayor said, and I quote almost verbatim, which is if you happen to be in this country in an undocumented status - and that means you're here illegally - then, we welcome you here. We want you here. We'll protect you here. That's the wrong attitude.

GIULIANI: Mitt generally criticizes people in a situation on which he's had farther worse record. There was even a sanctuary mansion at his own home, illegal immigrants were being employed, not - not - not being turned in to anybody or by anyone, so I would say, he had sanctuary mansion, not just sanctuary city.


OLBERMANN: Well, Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Romney would not stop their hits and let others talk; the crowd eventually booed Mr. Giuliani. But the man who possibly won it on illegal immigration or at least appeared of won the moral high ground if not the debate itself was the former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee after Mr. Romney criticized him for a proposal he made as governor to give college scholarships to the children of illegal immigrants.


ROMNEY: Mike, that's not your money. That's the taxpayers' money and

MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In all due respect, we're a better country than to punish children for what their parents did. We're a better country than that.


OLBERMANN: But for the far Right, the debate was all about the heretics, particularly retired army Brigadier General Keith Kerr, an openly gay man who came out after retirement who asked the candidates about the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. Because General Kerr had lent his name to a Hillary Clinton steering committee, a fact revealed by CNN in its post debate coverage, where lunatic fringe contending today that the general must have been planted by the Clinton campaign. Michelle Malkin and Bill O'Reilly for one and two, dividing that every questioner who is merely expressed support for a Democratic candidate at some point must also have been a plant. Hey, Michelle, if you can't stand up to the Democrats, how are you going to stand up to al Qaeda? Let's turn now to our own Jonathan Alter, senior editor of "Newsweek" magazine who's with us here in the studio. John, good evening.


OLBERMANN: So, the Right noise afterwards here is organic as it is in you know, from the Left after any debate. The part that isn't is usually designed to paint something over, to hide something. What was it in that debate that Republicans don't want people to remember the day after? Was it the booing of Republican candidates, was it Huckabee's humane answer? What was wrong with that debate?

ALTER: The whole thing was wrong. I mean, it - this did not present a very positive face for the Republican Party. They were squabbling. Republicans themselves don't like any of their candidates all that much. Remember, the Democrats generally are happy with their candidates, the polls show. Republicans are unhappy. They thought that maybe Fred Thompson was going to solve their problems, he turned out to be a dud. So, this is a very cranky party right now. I think you see that on the blogs.

OLBERMANN: Yes, moodiness, I think, was the kind way of phrasing what that looked like last night. As contrasted to the last few Democratic debates, which have been not necessarily moody, but certainly, everybody versus Hillary. There is no everybody versus fill in the blank yet, even with Giuliani's lead nationally or Romney's in the opening states. Does that suggest that the poll thing is completely wide open, no matter who has a big lead and where and under what circumstances?

ALTER: It's pretty wide open; it's bumper cars out there for them right now. And actually, you know, Huckabee's emergence, I thought he clearly won last night, it's good news for Giuliani because if he beats Mitt Romney in Iowa and I was just there in the last few days and it looks like Huckabee is really surging. That could help Giuliani down the road by taking out or at least hampering his primary opposition. And then you have somebody's winner take all primaries under Republican side that could help Giuliani. So, despite these scandals, what, one of the great liberal blogs out there calls the shag fund the story. Despite Giuliani's problems right now, he's in a fairly strong position, but hardly the preeminent favorite.

OLBERMANN: Is that - to some degree, that story, the shag fund story, was that the surprise of the debate last night? Because it is - Giuliani's assertion today that that was a plant from one of his rivals. If that was a plant from one of his rivals, why did he only get one question from the audience and nobody touched it from - among his opponents?

ALTER: Well, you know, when a story is breaking, rivals tend to want to steer clear of it until the dust settles a little bit. So, that wasn't surprising. I was actually surprised that CNN didn't press the issue a little more. And I think they fell down a little bit there you know. It was a breaking story. They had a peg, a news peg as we call it, to pursue it. And they just asked one question.

OLBERMANN: Yes, there were a few problems. But we'll just leave that alone. You mentioned Huckabee. Let's finish of there, being declared the winner by many especially again, for that humane kind of answer. Is it possible that - he - describe this campaign as having like a shelf life the way milk does. He spent all his money upfront. There's no chance to get more. He's got to expire at some point. Is that now proving possibly not true? Could he, in fact, be a top three tier candidate for this nomination? Could he still get it?

ALTER: Yes, absolutely, he could. You know, I've argued that he would actually be their strongest candidate in a general election. His problem is that he doesn't have anything on foreign policy or national security and that's so important in that party right now. And the other thing is his lack of money. The Republican Party lack of money is a character flaw. In the Democratic Party, you get away with it. But so, he's certainly not the likely nominee. But he's very much in the hunt.

OLBERMANN: A moral failing lack of money. The other thing, I mean, you know, we're talking about the sanctuary mansions. I don't know why Romney didn't come back and say, well let's not talk about your mansion in the Hampton's, mayor. Jonathan Alter, senior editor at "Newsweek," great thanks as always.

ALTER: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: One additional note on Rudy Giuliani, more accurately on the coverage of Rudy Giuliani - Wayne Barrett of the "Village Voice" was on this newscast to discuss his reporting on Giuliani's connections to the royal family of Qatar last night, specifically to its one member who is himself accused of spiriting the 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed way from capture by the FBI in 1996. It should have been noted that much of Mr. Barrett's reporting was connecting the dots originally contained in reporting by the "Wall Street Journal" and the "Chicago Tribune."

Mitt Romney took time off last night from slapping Giuliani to go after John Edwards as well. Senator Edwards will join us from Iowa. And "The Shock Doctrine." How to remake a people's economy? For those people still stunned from a disaster, like hurricane Katrina or the Iraq war. The author, Naomi Kline, joins us. You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Attacked by name in the Republican debate by Willard Mitt Romney, Senator John Edwards stuck among Democrats and certainly his sense of pride must have moved ever so slightly upwards. He will join us from a presidential campaign trail in Iowa.

And the epic battle of the titans in Worst Persons. Pat Robertson versus John McCain versus Bill O. All ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: At the next scheduled Democratic debate, non-of the Democratic candidates will be answering questions from Republicans or from anyone else for that matter. On our fourth story on the Countdown: CBS has canceled the December 10th debate after our next guest, John Edwards and others said they would not cross the picket line, the striking CBS writers. Of course, that does not prevent any particular Democrat from weighing in on last night's Republican debate in which at least one Democrat was allowed to ask a question or from weighing on any of the embarrassments plaguing Mr. Giuliani like a plague of locust sore, about say, Mr. Romney's flip-flops about Muslims or abortion or anything else. As promised, joining us now from Iowa City in the campaign trail, the former senator and current Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards. Senator, great thanks for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN: The American people today are rising up, demanding to know how at least one Democrat slipped through the system last night, resist the temptation to ask you that question about how the Republicans answer al Qaeda, if they can, answer a Democrat. Instead, can you tell us for the record if you have contingency plans in place if, heaven forbid, some time in the future someone who's not a Democrat, even an actual registered Republican were somehow able to ask you a question?

EDWARDS: Heaven forbid. I mean, how could we possibly survive if someone who is antagonistic or has a different point of view than you do ask you a question? And no, we can't possibly expect somebody who answers questions from either independents or the other party to get elected president of the United States. How could anybody be ready to do that? I think this whole discussion's ridiculous.

OLBERMANN: Speaking of ridiculous, what do you see as the biggest gift the Republicans have handed all the Democratic candidates, including yourself, up to and including last night? What can the party do as it starts to focus on the actual general election of 2008?

EDWARDS: I think two things. One is they really, when it comes to the war, they sound like - to me, they sound like Bush on steroids. I mean, they've not given us such a clear choice. I've said clearly that I'll get combat troops out and end combat missions in my first year. If they're going to continue the war, indefinitely, the best I can tell. If Americans actually want this war in Iraq to continue for another decade or so, they should vote for the Republicans. If they want the war ended, they should vote for me. And I think that clear choice is something the American people are going to have next Fall. And, then second, I didn't get to see the debate. But I heard that Mitt Romney said something about the two Americas that I've talked about in the past and how he doesn't think they exist. You know, what planet does this guy live on? I mean, all you've got to do is pay any attention to what's going on. The middle class is having trouble paying their bills. Their wages are stagnant. We got 37 million people who live in poverty. We've got 35 million people who went hungry last year. And he thinks that everybody is doing great? That's not the real world. And they're completely out of touch with what's actually happening, and the fact that we have very well financed, very powerful interest in Washington that, in many ways, have taken over the government and the Democracy against the interest of most people in this country.

OLBERMANN: You would think that even the two Americas that are constituted solely by those who are having their homes foreclosed on and those who are not would have registered in that debate last night. But there's a breaking news story. You mentioned Iraq. There's a breaking story about what Australia is going to do. The prime minister-elect, Kevin Rudd, who just succeeded or will succeed John Howard, who won the weekend before last in the election, has just said it is his intent to, by the middle of next year - it's not a huge contingent, but 550 troops. He intends to get the Australian troops out of Iraq by the middle of next year. Do you have a reaction to that? Is that the kind of thing that builds momentum towards ending this thing?

EDWARDS: It's not surprising at all. I mean, he's seen what's happening in Iraq. He sees there's no - what all of us see, that there's no serious progress toward a political reconciliation between Sunni and Shia. Everyone, including the bipartisan Iraq study group have recognized that unless there's a political compromise, there can't be stability, there can't be an end to the violence. And America needs to be leaving. These people are going to eventually have to take responsibility for their own country. And I think we've reached that stage. And so that's - I'm not at all surprised. I hadn't heard the news, but it doesn't surprise me.

OLBERMANN: Yes, it just happened a couple of minutes ago. Apparently he made a speech in Sydney. Something that happened in a speech in Iowa during the week resulted in a lot of debate on the Democratic primary trail, whether President Clinton supported the invasion of Iraq or not. And he claimed not. I've been trying to figure out, does it matter? And if so, to whom and why?

EDWARDS: Well, it may matter to President Clinton. I mean, he's a very well-known national figure. I don't think it matters to the presidential race. I mean, he's not on the ballot. Senator Clinton's on the ballot. We've talked about the differences, the policy differences we have on this issue. I do believe we've got - my first year in office, I have to get the combat troops out. And we've got to end combat missions. She has a different view, about keeping combat troops there and continuing combat missions and she's entitled to that view. But I think those differences give voters choices in the primary election. But I don't think most people - most people understand that President Clinton is not on the ballot and Senator Clinton is on the ballot.

OLBERMANN: Last point. This has been raised in Iowa by you, summarized by something phrased on the Internet as this is an election, not an auction. You're addressing the subject of raising funds and pledging. Explain that, if you would.

EDWARDS: Well, I don't think that the Iowa caucus voters, New Hampshire primary voters, South Carolina primary voters, Nevada caucus goers, I don't think they'll vote for somebody because they raised the most money. In fact, in some ways, that runs against what the Democratic Party supposed to represent. We don't win elections - I heard your earlier discussion. We don't win elections about raising the most money. We win elections on principle, by doing what's right. By actually being the party of the people, not by being the candidate who's actually raised the most money. So, actually, I'm proud of the fact that I agreed to take public financing for this presidential primary election. I did it for a reason. And I think that, actually, caucus goers and primary voters are going to decide who is telling the truth about Washington and who will fight it for them.

OLBERMANN: John Edwards taking time out from the campaign trail in Iowa to talk with us this evening. Always a pleasure, Senator. Great thanks for your time.

EDWARDS: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Ahead on Worst Persons: Even the Republicans at that debate last night showed they have enough of people comparing honest dissent with appeasing the Nazis, John McCain finds out and finds out if he can beat Bill O and Pat Robertson for tonight's crowd.

And, robot dentistry. Doctor, my mouth tastes like metal. When Countdown continues.


OLBERMANN: Eighty years ago today in the Bronx, New York, was born the sports broadcaster of sports broadcasters. At age 25, the youngest man to call a World Series game, an announcer for 28 different series, a role model and a hero to virtually everyone in his professing and the only one in it about whom you never hear catty stories, nor from whom you get the slightest sense of superiority, and a man who next summer will begin his 59th year in the same job. Happy birthday to the voice of the Los Angeles and the Brooklyn Dodgers, Vincent Edwards "Vin" Scully.

Let's play Oddball.


OLBERMANN (voice-over): We begin in Tokyo with world's largest robotic convention displaying a wide array of man-made genius. Some robots played drums while dressed as geishas. We don't really know why. Some mini robots danced. Maybe it was tai chi. Not sure about that either. We don't know why.

But there was at least one exhibition that really made sense. Robots as dental patients so that dental students can practice without hurting real people. The lady robot even has teeth. As you heard, she cries out when the student drills too close to the nerve. That's right, save the anesthesia for the humans.


OLBERMANN: The Iraq war as economic reset, as described by our guest, the author of "The Shock Doctrine," Naomi Klein.

And Paris Hilton finally responds to the misquoted story that suggested she was taking up the cause of drunken elephants in Africa. Just when you thought she couldn't make a bigger fool out of herself, she does. These stories ahead, but first time for Countdown's top there best persons in the world.

Number three, best reality TV show reference, an unnamed 19-year-old man from Chihalis (ph), Washington, arrested at a mall after he allegedly punched a policeman in the face several times. The suspect had gotten uncontrollably angry, he said, because, quote, Tila (ph) Tequila would not respond to his e-mail. Police took away his nun chucks. If you have ever seen "A Shot at Love" with Tila Tequila, you already know what they should have taken away was his TV.

Number two, best hockey fan, artist Kurt Kauper, who has now painted at least three oils of 1960s and 1970s Boston Bruins stars Bobby Orr and Derick Sanderson (ph). One of the Orr paintings is seven and a half feet tall. In each of them Orr and Sanderson are shown on the ice, on skates and otherwise naked. Hey, Bobby is using a curved stick.

Number one, best invention, Gail Knight, 26 year old student in London, in England, seeing a need and coming up with an idea. Just going into service there; if you text the word toilet from your cell phone to the SatLab service, it will send you back a text message telling you where the nearest public toilet is. Anybody tell Senator Larry Craig?


OLBERMANN: The U.S. and Iraq this week announced a broad framework for long-term relations between the two nations. The Associate Press reporting this involves a sustained U.S. presence in Iraq and preferential treatment to American investments. You know, a treaty. Only don't call it that and nobody in the Senate gets the chance to not ratify it, or to ask why would Iraq give up a prize like that preference to American investments in return for a military presence the U.S. supposedly needs for its own security anyway?

In our third story tonight, a new book says the answer may lay in Chile. In the early '60s the economist Milton Friedman pushed an extreme version of the free market, minuscule taxes, wide scale privatization of everything from utilities to schools, and virtually no government involvement in the private sector on everything from tariffs to regulation.

The hitch? Democracies did not want to trust their fate to the free market. Enter Friedman's friend, Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet, who imposed much of Friedman's agenda anyway, introducing school vouchers, privatizing Social Security. Chile's economy then crashed. Some of Friedman's disciples kept faith that tyranny, war or natural disaster would give them opportunities to try the shock therapy of remaking entire economies overnight in Friedman's image.

Those deciples included Donald Rumsfeld, who saw a chance for Friedman's shock therapy in Iraq, as did Vice President Cheney and coalition administrator Paul Bremer, who cut Iraq's corporate taxes to 15 percent and planned to sell off Iraq's biggest businesses, almost all of them owned by the country itself, to foreign investors. As in Chile, Iraq's people opposed these plans, so Bremer delayed elections, installed the provisional government instead, when it looked like the popular candidates would block the Iraqi sell-off.

Little reported at the time, violence surged well after the U.S. took control, just as word spread of Bremer's plans, and fears rose of downsizing, devastated Iraqi business, fearing the competition of rich unfettered foreigners. One GOP lobbyist said, "one well-stocked 7/11 could knock out 30 Iraqi stores. A Wal-Mart could take over the country." Kidnappers targeting foreign businessmen demanded that foreign businesses leave.

And Iraq is not alone. After the Pacific tsunami, author Naomi Klein found pristine beaches turned over to the big resorts, while the people were too shocked to stop it. In Mississippi, most federal Katrina recovery funds have helped big business and the affluent after the Republican governor got the Bush administration to waive a Congressional requirement that half help the poor, who wound up getting only 10 percent of the funds.

We turn now to Naomi Klein, best selling author of "No Logo," whose book new book is called "the Shock Doctrine, the Rise of Disaster Capitalism." Thanks for coming in tonight.


OLBERMANN: Explain this basic premise if you can.

KLEIN: The basic premise is that these are very unpopular policies, that people tend to protect their labor protections, their social programs. They don't actually want to hand their democracies over to multinational corporations. So, you need some kind of a shock. And that shock could be a war. It could be an economic meltdown. It could be a terrorist attack, but something that creates a period of confusion, of dislocation, of regression.

And then politicians come forward, playing a father figure. If this remind you of anything? Let me know.


KLEIN: And use that period of dislocation to push through policies in a state of emergency that they wouldn't be able to do otherwise. In this country, obviously, the shock of September 11th was used to privatize the U.S. military, to privatize the government, to create this hollow infrastructure of a government that is the Bush specialty.

OLBERMANN: In Iraq, the mess that we saw there, was that the result of no planning, or was it the desired result of a bad plan?

KLEIN: Well, Iraq is the classic example of the shock doctrine. You had a military strategy that was called Shock and Awe. It was a military strategy designed to maximize disorientation. The theory was - This is a quote from Richard Armitage, the former deputy undersecretary of state, who said that the theory was that Iraqis would be so shocked, they would be easily martialed from point A to point B.

In that moment when they were supposed to be easy to control, easy to martial, you had Paul Bremer waltz in his Brooks Brothers suits and Army beauties, the uniform of the disaster capitalists, and say Iraq is open for business, and create this sort of - an attempt to create a corporate Utopia for American multinationals.

It didn't work out. Then you saw the emergence of a third shock, not an economic shock, but shocks to body, the shock of torture, as they attempted to control this rebellious country. There's three kinds of shocks in "The Shock Doctrine," the shock of the crisis, then an economic shock therapy program, and then, if people don't behave, a third shock, which is the shock of torture.

OLBERMANN: Did the Iraqis speak up about this attempt to privatize their country when Bremer started this?

KLEIN: They absolutely spoke up about it. I was in Iraq in that first year reporting for "Harper's Magazine." I met a worker at a vegetable oil company, one of the largest state-owned factories. He said that they were so opposed to privatizing that company that there were two choices. They would either burn it to the ground or they would blow themselves up inside it. That was the level of determination against these policies.

What Iraqis saw was that, you know, this was a continuation of the war. That's the way it was perceived. There is a word for what happens when you invade a country, especially on a false pretense, and then you grab its assets. It's called looting, right? And it's illegal. And Iraqis responded as if their country was being looted. Not as if it was being restructured or developed or reconstructed or any of the cleansed words that were used to describe it.

OLBERMANN: It was a corporate takeover with guns.

KLEIN: Yes, armed robbery, yes.

OLBERMANN: And if it's a corporate takeover with guns, your argument is that awareness of the pattern, seeing where it's played out around the world and what this country has had to do with it, that's the key to stopping it?

KLEIN: Exactly. Think about September 11th, that state of disorientation. Now we look back on it, and we realize how much we lost in that moment. We're only piecing - we're only piecing it together in this forensic accounting, which happens through scandal. There's a Blackwater scandal. Then we find out how much this one company has expanded its reach. Or the Abu Ghraib scandal breaks and we find out, OK, there's private companies doing prison interrogation.

It's all retroactive. It's all back accounting. If we understand how our states of shock are exploited, if we can recognize the signs, then the next time there is a crisis - and it can be an economic crisis. And it's really relevant. One of the things I do in the book is I show this 35-year history. In much of that history, it was economic crises that played that role. It's just as anti-Democratic.

But when the next shock hits, we can prepare. I have a quote in the book, as you know, from Milton Friedman, who says that only a crisis, actual or perceived, produces real change. He says when the crisis hits, the change depends on the ideas that are lying around. So it's not just about recognizing the pattern, it's also about having your ideas lying around when the next shock hits.

OLBERMANN: We'll see, if we do slide into recession, maybe that's the one that they're looking for next. Naomi Klein, the book is "Shock Doctrine." Congratulations on it and great thanks for coming in.

KLEIN: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: It's been too long since there's been a controversy involving basketball coach Bob Knight. The wait is over. There are guns. There is videotape. Let the party begin.

And a huge night in Worsts, Pat Robertson versus John McCain versus Bill-O, kind of night when you wish there didn't have to be a loser.


OLBERMANN: Our number two story tonight, Keeping Tabs, beginning with celebrities armed with buck shot in Texas, besides Dick Cheney. What you're about to see is a standoff near Lubbock between Texas Tech basketball coach Bob, don't call me Bobby, Knight, for nearly five decades the leading American distributor of temper tantrums, and a neighbor named James Simpson, who confronted Knight and a hunting companion about shooting doves too close to his, Simpson's, home.

The video, courtesy of the "Dallas Morning News" is fuzzy, but then again, so is Bob Knight's sophistry.




SIMPSON: Move down. You're too close to my house. Pellets fell on my house.

KNIGHT: I didn't shoot once in that direction.

SIMPSON: Pellets fell on my house. I'm filming you.

KNIGHT: Do whatever you want. You swore. You cussed.

SIMPSON: That's exactly what I said. I'm asking you now to move down so the pellets don't land on my house again.

KNIGHT: You ask us politely, I'll be glad to do it.

SIMPSON: Don't move the gun towards me again.

KNIGHT: I did not shoot once!

SIMPSON: Do not move the gun towards me again.

KNIGHT: Nobody moved a gun towards you.

SIMPSON: It's on film. Don't do it again. I'm asking you now to move. How would you like for pellets to land on your house?

KNIGHT: Fifteen times - why don't you go? We heard you. We're here legally.

SIMPSON: Move down away from my house.


SIMPSON: Move down away from my house.


OLBERMANN: The actual standoff, more than five minutes of it, ended peacefully. But the Associated Press reports two people have complained in the last month about being hit by Knight's buckshot. Knight, who has never once been wrong about anything, calls it ridiculous.

The miracle of marketing - honestly, I'm put off any time I see someone on TV selling their own book. But what you've done about the Special Comments book "Truth and Consequences" continues to astound me. In two days it's gone from about number 12,000 on the Amazon sales list to number 198. It's number two on its movers and shakers list, number two in sales among all journalism books, number two among all American political books, number one among all books among American presidents. Stop it, you're embarrassing me. No, don't.

You thought the idea that Paris Hilton had adopted rampaging drunken elephants as a cause was too stupid even for her? Evidently not. That's ahead, but first time for Countdown's worst persons in the world.

The bronze to Pat Robertson, the televangelist Rudy Giuliani supporter, asked by a viewer yesterday about the Christian view of Yoga. Does it really have its origins in evil? Yes, it does, he answered. Stretching is fine, but by repeating common yoga mantras, you're actually praying to the Hindu gods Vishnu and Krishna. You're not even aware of it.

Firstly, that's not evil. That's just a different model of the same product you're selling. Secondly, if you think the mantras violate your brand of religion, then don't say the mantras, moron, just stretch!

Runner up, Senator John McCain of Arizona, trotted out his Don Rumsfeld mouse club ears during the debate last night, saying he has heard Congressman Ron Paul, quote, talk about bringing our troops home, about the war in Iraq and how it's failed and wanted to tell you that that kind of isolationism, sir, is what called World War II. We allowed Hitler to come to power with that kind of attitude, isolationism and appeasement.

Here is a hint to Senator McCain and Tom Tancredo and Bush and Cheney, and all the others attempted to invoke Hitler again, the crowd booed McCain when he did it. The crowd at a Republican debate booed not Ron Paul, not Adolf Hitler, but John McCain.

Our winner? Bill-O, reveling in a decision by the city council of Ft.

Collins, Colorado to continue funding public Christmas decorations. O'Reilly again having his annual delusion known as defending Kris Kringle in the War on Christmas has now cited this as a great victory! Defending Christmas, brought to you by the guy who said on the air he thought Christ lived 5,000 years ago.

Bill, wait, that's why they call it Christmas O'Reilly, today's Worst Person in the World.


OLBERMANN: As we indicated to you earlier in this newscast, the next Democratic debate had been canceled. That would have been the next Democratic scheduled televised debate had been canceled, because many of the participants did not want to cross picket lines at CBS. The next scheduled Democratic debate is next Tuesday from Iowa, a radio debate on National Public Radio in the afternoon. So, our apologies for that and the correction now stands.

To our number one story on the Countdown. There are those who must face the elephant in the room and then there are those who must confront the story that they are helping the drunken elephants in the room. That's what Paris Hilton recently did, after having read the news that concerned her most, the news about Paris Hilton. But, in our number one story, even that far exceeds the reading list of Britney Spears, evidently, who raced wildly through a Barnes and Noble, like a rampaging elephant, so she could get a cup of coffee.

First, on the Ellen Degeneres show, Miss Hilton personally addressed the story that she had taken up the cause of drunken elephants in India, a report that was retracted the same day it came out. The underlying story was true. A bunch of elephants had consumed rice beer on a farm in India and gone on a rampage. But Miss Hilton was giddily immune to knowledge outside her own orbit.


PARIS HILTON, "THE SIMPLE LIFE": I heard that's true. I'm like, how would an elephant get alcohol in the first place? Why would I talk about that? Why would I care if an elephant got drunk? Can an elephant get drunk? I've never talked about that in my life.

ELLEN DEGENERES, "ELLEN": You've never heard about it, you never nothing?

HILTON: No, I never even knew an elephant can get drunk. I don't think they can still.


OLBERMANN: As for Miss Spears, one would have thought she was mad to research some topic of global importance whipping through those book shelves. Look at her go. Was she there, at least, to pick up a good novel or even a children's book? No, screw the literature. There's coffee and coffee specials. Spears ducked into Starbucks kitchen while her order was prepared. Looks like an iced Mocha Choco Latte, possibly a venti skim chai. We're sending correspondent Trisha Tockanowa (ph) and live truck to the scene to follow up.

Both Spears and her beverage well protected by eight L.A. police officers according to At this point, let's turn to "Village Voice" columnist Michael Musto. Michael, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Coffee in a moment, first elephants. Paris Hilton dismissed the plight of those drunken elephants and, in fact, she's even denied the existence of that problem. Is her lack of elephant knowledge an aberration or is it emblematic of a larger societal problem?

MUSTO: It's emblematic. I think the whole world needs to know the plight of alcoholic elephants, drug addicted giraffes, wildebeests with ADD. Here's a side bar, Keith. This whole thing started with Ellen. The elephants belonged to Ellen, but they didn't get along with her cat, so she gave it to her hairdresser friend. The agency moved in. Please bring the elephants back.

OLBERMANN: One of her friends in India who owns a rice farm. Ellen Degeneres read the quotes that had been reportedly uttered by Hilton. They were false ones. And Paris Hilton laughed, saying, they always put words in my mouth all over the press all the time. She is right about this. The words - press should not put words in - I know where you're going to go with this. The press should not put words in her mouth.

MUSTO: I'm going right there, Keith. We only put things in her mouth to dislodge other things that shouldn't be there. We don't need to make up quotes. She's right. The real quotes from Paris are good enough, like Wal-Mart sells walls, and I didn't like jail. It wasn't too cool. The best one was the Bible is my new favorite book. It's even better than Cosmopolitan.

OLBERMANN: On this whole issue of focusing on drunk elephants, how is she supposed to do that when she's still trying to get down to Rwanda to help the kids?

MUSTO: Rwanda is where a lot of elephants happen to be. If Paris ever does get there, which I doubt, she's going to have a lot of open bar parties in her honor. It's only going to escalate the problem. I suggest she stay in Beverly Hills, where the biggest problem is Kelly Clarkson had one too many Fudgesicles.

OLBERMANN: Or Britney Spears was rampaging through a book store. Turning to her, are we being too hard on her as well? She was running through the book store because the paparazzi was chasing her. If they weren't there, she would be thumbing through at least Tolkien, right?

MUSTO: She was on rice beer. No this is a pattern, Keith. She recently went into a library for a place to sit down, stopped by the university for the soda machine. I hear she actually recently visited Anne Frank's house because she heard there was a really cool bathroom in the attic. Don't blame the paparazzi.

OLBERMANN: OK, I'm not even going to go with the joke that pops into my head.

MUSTO: Something about the blog of Anne Frank?

OLBERMANN: No, no, no. There was something yesterday about her being pregnant again and the producer was the father and all the rest of this. And the blackberry message from him, they're saying Britney's pregnant and you're the father. His replies were it's true. Is that, it's true, another hanger on wants to make some money off Britney Spears or that it's actually true.

MUSTO: I think it's true that she's pregnant again. She needs a new kid to make up for the ones she's losing. And now she has had a dry run at being a mother. She knows better what to do, which basically involves, when you go to Chuck E. Cheese, you ask for the sauce on the side.

OLBERMANN: Lastly, this poll of children, ages two through 17 - we don't know how they polled the two-year-olds - the yearly question, who topped the naughty list, Spears and Hilton, number one and two, ahead of the Grinch and Darth Vader. What do the Grinch and Darth Vader need to get back on top?

MUSTO: The Grinch is doing great with that rotten Broadway Show. He and Darth need to do a comatose performance on the VMAs or drive drunk without a license. Even bin Laden can get on the top ten if he comes out of the cave and stars in Repo the Genetic Opera.

OLBERMANN: The one and only Michael Musto of the "Village Voice," great thanks. That's Countdown for this, the 1,674th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. From New York, I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Nov. 28
video 'podcast'

Guests: Wayne Barrett, Dana Milbank, Michael Ratner, Mike German, Joel McHale

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? St. Rudy of 9/11 has been linked to the family which harbored the mastermind of 9/11. His firm, Giuliani Security and Safety has contracts with the Interior Ministry of Qatar run by Abdullah Bin Khalid Al-Thani accused of helping Khalid Sheik Mohammed escaped the FBI. And Giuliani welcomed to New York three weeks after 9/11 the head of Al-Thani's family, Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar. Himself, the principal founder of the al-Jazeera TV Network, himself host to the Iranian President Ahmadinejad a year ago at an event the security of which was provided by Giuliani's company. Rudy's ties to a terrorist shake with the reporter who broke the extraordinary story, Wayne Barrett of the "Village Voice." The former president stokes the campaign fires in Iowa. He was against the war Iraq from the start and thought it madness that rich people like him did not have to pay taxes for it?


BILL CLINTON, FMR UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Even though I approved of Afghanistan and opposed Iraq from the beginning, I still resent that I was not asked or given the opportunity to support those soldiers.


OLBERMANN: The Blackwater mercenaries now accused of taking steroids and other, quote, "Judgment-altering substances" by families of their victims in Iraq as they sue in Washington. A nation of spies. Homeland Security training New York City firefighters to look during inspections not for fire code infractions but for terrorists. Be alert for a person who is hostile, uncooperative or expressing hate or discontent with the United States. Maybe they could find out if Britney Spears is really pregnant. Four weeks along and she already had an ultrasound? Truth squadding the latest rumors and the other one that she's been trying on lingerie in public. Oh and Kevin Federline has chosen one of the top young fathers in the country. Possibly, because he has yet to run screaming into the streets saying this crazy woman is trying on lingerie in public. All that and more, now on Countdown.

OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Wednesday, November 28th, 342 days until the 2008 presidential election. It is a startling and potentially ruiniest revelation for Rudy Giuliani. Our fifth story on the Countdown: There are countless what ifs about 9/11, hundreds of events, maybe thousands of lives, any one of which if just altered slightly might have preempted the attacks. But this one involves a man identified tonight as a close business associate of Mr. Giuliani's. A man accused of having harbored in, then helped 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed escape from the Gulf nation of Qatar hours before the arrest that would have been affected by an FBI team.

The war on terror candidate looking tonight, a lot more like the ties to terror candidate. Wayne Barrett of the "Village Voice" reporting that Mr. Giuliani's extensive business contracts with the nation of Qatar tie him directly to the man who kept Khalid Sheik Mohammed out of American hands. He is Abdullah Bin Khalid Al-Thani, he was Qatar's Islamic Affairs Minister at the time and its Interior Minister since 2001 when the FBI was hours away from closing in on Khalid Sheik Mohammed in 1996, Al-Thani who was harboring the suspect is widely accused of tipping him off to the FBI agent's imminent arrival as well as giving him 20 blank passports. Former CIA case officer, Robert Bayer says he did so with the blessing and probably the direct orders of this man, the Emir of Qatar.

You may remember, Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani from his trip to New York City during the 9/11 aftermath, offering to make a $3 million donation, most of it to go to the families of the victims. Mayor Giuliani more than glad to take that check and to serve as Emir's personal tour guide during his visit and to be his fellow guest on the Larry King Show on CNN. That, it seems, was only the beginning of their alliance. Years after his mayoralty had ended, Mr. Giuliani was to begin a far more lucrative partisanship with the government of Qatar, specifically with the Interior Ministry run by, you guessed it, the fellow member of Qatar's royal family, Abdullah Al-Thani.

If letting the 9/11 mastermind go were not bad enough for that man, Al-Thani is also said to have hosted Osama Bin Laden on two separate visits to his farm. It is with this terrorist aider and abettor that Mr. Giuliani's security firm, a subsidiary of Giuliani Partners has worked on undisclosed number of contracts, reports the "Village Voice," some of which Giuliani himself and his employees openly have acknowledged. Mr. Giuliani telling a South African newspaper in June 2006, that he, quote, "Recently helped Qatar to transform Doha in advanced of the Asian Games, an Olympic style competition that his firm oversaw for last December. The Emir's special guest at that, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "Village Voice" senior editor, Wayne Barrett who reported this joins us now. He is also of course the author of "Grand Illusion: The untold story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11." Wayne, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Even if Rudy Giuliani did not know about the central role that Qatar has played as a facilitator of terrorism, if he didn't know that in October of 2001 when he hosted the Emir and was his, you know, tour guide, television pal, was there enough evidence making the case against Qatar by the time the Giuliani Partners started doing business with that country in 2005?

BARRETT: Keith, he would have had to have been deaf, dumb, and blind not to know it because he then in 2005 had running his security unit, two of the FBI agents who had been pursuing the Qatar relationship. In fact, Ali Sulfan (ph) who was the lead FBI investigator in both the Khobar towers case and the Afghan - no excuse me, in the Cole case, he was the lead investigator and the investigation of the embassy bombings in Africa, he was the lead investigator and Qatar. I have a hard time with the pronunciation of it but a Qatar charitable society that the Emir directed the funding of this - they participated directly in the funding of the bombing in - of the African Embassy. So, if he just looked around and listened to his own staff he would have known. But of course, if he read the newspapers, the "New York Times," the "LA Times," Brian Ross on ABC made major rest revelations about the connections between the Qatar government and the spiriting off Khalid Sheik Mohammed in 1996. The 9/11 Commission made references to it. The State reports, the Department of State reports on the country of Qatar eluded right up to 2004 to its protection of transnational terrorists. So there was just an overwhelming amount of evidence available to Rudy when he made the decision in 2005 to make Qatar one of his company's principal clients.

OLBERMANN: So, what? I'll give you the multiple choice here, you raised A, that he's an idiot for not knowing this, B, the other option that he knew full well about it - the terrorism ties, didn't care because it was millions of dollars or C, whichever it is, doesn't make a difference because this idea of him as a terrorism candidate as St. Rudy of 9/11 is meaningless?

BARRETT: Well, you know, by 2005, the United States had a very complicated relationship with Qatar. It was fully aware of its ties to international terrorism but Qatar was also supplying military bases to the United States. It was then viewed as an important ally. I think the conundrum really for Rudy as a candidate is he parades around America as the black and white candidate, who only - can't see any gray. And so, here you have a relationship where he could see the gray because there was so much gold involved. But otherwise, he's a guy who only sees good guys and bad guys and, clearly, on that scale, the government of Qatar is a bad guy based on its history and its relationships. But he was willing to go past that and, even as you indicated, go to the games in Doha with not only the Iranian president present and honored by the Emir but the Syrian president and the new Hamas president of Palestine who then cut a deal while Rudy was in Doha, the Emir meets with the head of the Hamas government and cuts a deal where he's going to pay for all the teachers, pay the health costs of the Hamas government which the United States was trying to boycott at that very moment. That's in December of 2006. They're there together on the same day in Doha at the Asian Games. Rudy is kind of hiding out. Nobody knows he's there. But he's there.

OLBERMANN: So you've got this. You've got Ahmadinejad, you've got Hamas. His firm has also represented a casino that was looking or partisanship was looking to build this resort in Singapore. It included the family of the controversial Hong Kong billionaire who was connected to Kim Jong-il in North Korea. You've got, Kim Jong-il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hamas, Roger aisles, is there any dictator here that he won't associate himself with?

BARRETT: Well, wherever there is a dollar to be made, Rudy clearly didn't draw any lines. Now look, many private corporations don't draw these lines. I could not find and I spent a good deal of time looking for it, any other American security company that was providing security advice to the government of Qatar. But, certainly, major other corporations there, usually the oil corporations are there. A lot of American companies do business in Qatar but not any other company that is being headed by a man still paid by this company, headed by a guy who's running for president and running on the strength of this platform of I am the counter terrorism expert, make me president for that.

OLBERMANN: Well, you know, he may be an expert in ways that he really doesn't want the rest of us to know. The term must read is overused but this is one of those stories. Wayne Barrett of the "Village Voice," great work on it and great thanks for your time tonight.

BARRETT: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: All right. More on how this revelation might impact the Giuliani candidacy. Let's turn now to our own Dana Milbank, national political reporter of the "Washington Post." Dana, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Well, is this an awful lot in that story and some of it requires sorting through with tough names, but can that be boiled down into something that really impacts Rudy Giuliani either in terms of the Iowa caucuses 36 days from now or later?

MILBANK: Well, it absolutely can. It's not just this story and it's been building for some time now. But here, it can be summarized in a bumper sticker. Rudy where's your client list? He's not releasing it from his business affairs. We don't know whether he's had more wives or sheiks for whom he's been on the payroll. You can be sure that's going to dog him in a large way. Now, we should point out, I don't believe there's any allegation that anything is improper or illegal here. But the fact is this is the central message of his campaign that he's the guy to stand against the terrorists but now you have to add this caveat unless he's got a business relationship.

OLBERMANN: Yes, I mean, if this were a Democrat with these connections, and, again, without the allegation of illegality, but just the connections, is there any doubt that there would be a Republican ad being created right now, right in this minute in some studio somewhere that would show a photo of him and a photo of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and photo of Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-il?

MILBANK: And you mix them together and they become Bernie Kerik.

OLBERMANN: That's right.

MILBANK: Well, certainly that would be the case. But I would not be surprised if Democrats or other Republicans are working on this very thing right now. It's irresistible. You're with us or with the terrorists or now you are with Giuliani is the third possibility.

OLBERMANN: As if these were not enough, there is the other story that, much more simple to understand that as mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure agencies within the city government tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses which turned out to be expenses for trips he took to the Hampton's when he was beginning his extramarital affair with the woman who is now his third wife. Is there a sense of Mr. Giuliani going from crisis to crisis here? How much more can a campaign take?

MILBANK: Well, give him a little credit for sense of humor. He was shacking up with his then girlfriend in the Hampton's and he billed the security to the New York City loft board. Some of the other security expenses were billed to the agency that helps indigent defendants and the disabled. So, the story actually has potential legs there as well. Again, this goes to a central message of Rudy's campaign. He likes to talk about his competence in governing and Ben Smith with the "Politico," formerly of "The Daily News," dug this up with the freedom of information request. You just wonder how many other things are out there.

OLBERMANN: No, if he started taking people from Qatar out to the Hampton's on the city's dime I think that's about a wrap there. But we can't let you go without asking about this other '08 campaign news. Fact-checking by the (inaudible) today on President Clinton's assertion yesterday in Iowa that he was against the Iraq war since the very beginning. The advisors saying it would have been inappropriate for him to have said that until now. But he had said several times since the war began he would not have attacked Iraq in the manner that his successor did, June of 2004 quote was, "I would not have done it until after Hans Blix finished the job." Referring to weapons inspections before the war began. He seemed to be trying to roll the thing back in Iowa today. Is it a one day headline? Did he create a mess for his wife the senator and candidate? Where did we stand on this?

MILBANK: He did because it sounds very Clintonian, in terms of reinventing the past and depending on what the definition of against it was. Certainly, had he spoken out at the time he could have had an extraordinary amount of influence. And this is the problem, there's a lot of Democrats who could have changed things, didn't at the time.

OLBERMANN: Rudy, where's your client list? I hope you trademark that.

MILBANK: It's all yours, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Get out of it. No, go now. I mean don't even wait for the car to take you home. Dana Milbank of MSNBC and the "Washington Post." Great thanks, Dana.

MILBANK: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: And this programming note tomorrow night here on Countdown, former Senator John Edwards will be my guest. He will join us live from the campaign trail in Iowa. John Edwards, tomorrow night live on Countdown.

Tonight, two extraordinary charges by the survivors of the Blackwater massacre, killing people as part of the company's business model and a quarter of its people in Baghdad are on steroids or similar substances. And a page out of Fahrenheit 451 - firefighters sent into American homes with instructions from the government to look for people expressing discontent with the country. You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: The claim that killing people is part of the Blackwater marketing strategy and that at least a quarter of the company's mercenaries in Baghdad are taking steroids or other judgment-altering drugs. The president of the group representing survivors of the Blackwater massacre in a lawsuit joins me next. And ahead in Worst Persons, sure, the former Bush cabinet member says, you can test waterboarding on me. Just guarantee me I'll survive it. Ahead, here on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: It's as if the Blackwater story had collided with Barry Bonds, a new filing in the civil lawsuit over this summer's Blackwater massacre in Baghdad contained startling new claims about the shooting and the controversial company itself. Our fourth story tonight: Blackwater being sued by two surviving victims and families of five of the 17 fatalities, including a doctor shot dead as she cradled her dying son. Both the U.S. military and FBI reportedly having no reason for Blackwater shooters to have opened fire. The new filing makes the astonishing claim that at least one out of four Blackwater gunmen deployed in Baghdad were taking steroids or other drugs that could alter judgments that Blackwater knew this and failed to stop it. The filing also claims that the Blackwater massacre occurred after the Blackwater guards had already dropped off a State Department official they were protecting, that they disobeyed orders to remain with that official in a secure area and even that one Blackwater employee tried to stop the shooting, he was ignored. Blackwater declining to address most of the suits specifics except to say that drug use violates company policy. Most horrifically the suit promises to prove quote, "That Blackwater views its willingness to kill innocent people as a strategic advantage setting Blackwater apart and above security companies."

Let's bring in Michael Ratner, president of the group representing Iraqis in this lawsuit, the Center for Constitutional Rights. Thank you for your time tonight, Mr. Ratner.


OLBERMANN: Let's start with some clarity about that claim in the lawsuit. Are you alleging that Blackwater willingly, knowingly has its employees kill innocent people as a cost benefit way to preserve its reputation for keeping its clients safe?

RATNER: What we say in the lawsuit is there is a culture essentially of impunity of allowing excessive use of force, allowing reckless use of force that encourages Blackwater employees to kill innocent people. They do that by not investigating instances where there're people killed, by covering up killings, and by allowing shooters, that's what they call their security people, an interesting term, they call them shooters, so think about that allowing those people to go into the field drugged up. That's what we say here, that there is a - this company basically encourages the reckless use of force.

OLBERMANN: All right. Let's turn right to that other headline then, that 25 percent drugged up figure seems very specific. Does that estimate originate with Blackwater itself and what's the significance of the drug charges in relation to this suit?

RATNER: Well, the information we got was that Blackwater knowingly sends shooters into the field either on steroids or other mind-altering drugs. As you know, steroids caused severe, severe aggression in people and that certainly may be one explanation for the number of killings that goes on with Blackwater. The 25 percent figure, we believe that in discovery, which we will ultimately get, that we will be able to show that 25 percent of the Blackwater shooters that go into the field are drugged up in some way or another.

OLBERMANN: This suit specifically names the founder of this company, Eric Prince, as a defendant. Why going after him personally and not merely in his function as the operative guy of this company?

RATNER: Well, Eric Prince owned the entire company personally. He owns this whole business. He owns all 20 or 30 fronts for the company. He owns the whole thing. So, he's the guy who essentially can change things. Is the one who has condoned it, essentially. He's the one that should be liable for what Blackwater has done.

OLBERMANN: Your suit alleges that the co-founder of the company left because he had these problems with Mr. Prince and how he, Mr. Prince, was running Blackwater. What exactly is he telling you?

RATNER: Well, I really am not at liberty than to say more than what is in the lawsuit but that he did have problems with Eric Prince and he left for that reason, which is what the lawsuit says.

OLBERMANN: All right. Under the Secretary of State, Dr. Rice, the State Department took statements from the Blackwater shooters at the scene and promised them that the statements would not be used against them. They are trying to figure out how that happened and what can be done to undo it. Can you use those statements and what has your experience been regarding the parallel inquiries going on from the State Department, from the FBI and anything else we might not know about?

RATNER: Well, first of all we can use those statements in civil cases if we can get them and I think we'll be able to. It's not a criminal case, the civil case for damages. What's shocking to me is that the State Department which hired Blackwater to do this security then gives them immunity and essentially it looks like a massive cover up between the State Department and Blackwater, it makes no sense. In fact, the State Department apparently didn't even have the authority to give immunity to people. So, it's a real shocker. The other investigations, of course, the FBI has done an investigation here, in which it basically said that there was an unprovoked incident in which innocent civilians were killed. They didn't have any weapons and they were essentially murdered by Blackwater. There is an FBI investigation. The Iraqi government has done an investigation similarly which finds the same thing. Of course, the problem here in the end is that these private contractors like Blackwater cannot be held accountable in Iraq by the Iraqis. They were given immunity by the United States. There's difficulties with prosecutions otherwise. And so, they're basically feel that they have these weapons, whether assault weapons, glocks, whatever they have and they can use them with impunity. Until you have a system established that they can actually be held accountable, you have a problem. And of course, the whole problem with private contractors, it's mid evil to me, Keith, running around the countryside. It just mid evil.

OLBERMANN: Right. And the is mercenaries. Michael Ratner, who's the president for the Center for Constitutional Rights which is representing the Iraqis in these lawsuits after these terrible events in Baghdad. Great thanks for your time tonight, sir.

RATNER: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: And Blackwater may in fact be just the tip of a global iceberg. An new expos' revealing how Bush and other world leaders are using war and natural disaster to impose sweeping economic policies that help the rich get richer while the people of Iraq or New Orleans or elsewhere remain in shock. Naomi Klein, the author of the "Shock Doctrine," tomorrow night here on Countdown.

Trying to shock people and to getting him back his stuff or going to the big house. The judge sets the date for O.J. Simpson. And, is that a pigeon on a rope or did your kite just come to life? Next on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: On this date in 1967, Vickie Lynn Hogan was born in Houston, Texas. Only the most devoted of her fans will recognize her by that name. Vickie Smith perhaps, Vickie Lynn Marshal, few more Anna Nicole Smith most likely. She would have just today turned 40. On that note, let's play Oddball.

We begin in Salinas, California in a new way to get rid of unwanted guest when a falcon took residents in the rafters of a local gym last week. The owners were at a loss how to get it out until a bird expert showed them the way. He tied a pigeon to the piece of string and shove the unsuspecting prey into the gym and when the falcon tried to catch the pigeon he yanked the spring and voila, exit one falcon stage right. Pigeon closely followed by falcon flew out the front door. Happy ending. Both birds escaped unscathed. Local Salinas muscle men are once again to pump iron poop free. They hope to sell the story to Hollywood, the falcon and the pigeon.

To the Internet and this video of unknown origin, I'm not sure whether it's real, fake or freak, in English, we do know that if you were and any of your friends think it would be neat to recreate this trick. Make sure to tie the truck down before attaching the helium of balloons. While, this is the rift on the end of the Hall movie, "Brain Candy."

Finally to Cambodia and an update on a story we first brought you years ago. This is Caun Saman (ph) and his 20-foot python. Saman spends all day with his reptilian friend, teaching him tricks and riding his back. Amazingly enough, Saman has now reached the tender, you might eve say juicy age, if you were a python, of seven without being devoured by the python. he may just be waiting until the kid fattens up sufficiently.

Ray Bradbury ought to be suing homeland security for copyright infringement. Training American fire fighters to look for people expressing hate or discontent with the United States. Fire fighters.

And we're looking for the truth about Britney Spears. Is she, A, pregnant, and B, trying on lingerie in the main show room at the Hustler store? These stories ahead, but first time for Countdown's top three best persons in the world.

Number three, best moose, one of the ones ambling through Anchorage, Alaska last night, having apparently eaten fermented crab apples off a tree and not surprisingly gotten drunk in the process, and then while nibbling on another tree festooned for the holidays, getting the Christmas lights snagged in his antlers and walking off with them. Picture it, a drunken moose with flashing lights on his head. They are calling him Buzz-winkle.

Number two, best rage against the machine, Clifford E. Clark of Knoxville, accused of pulling over at the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Interstate 640 there, taking out his hunting rifle and firing at least three rounds into the camera on top of the traffic light. Police are utterly befuddled. That camera has led to nearly 7,000 traffic tickets in two years, but not one of them was issued to Mr. Clark.

Number one, best marketing plan, the Tourist Bureau of Scotland. It has replaced the old slogan placed on signs at its airports. They used to read "Scotland, the best small country in the world." After six months of brain storming and a quarter million dollars of test marketing, they found a new catch phrase to put on the signs. The new one is, quote, "Welcome to Scotland." Going out on a limb there, huh?


OLBERMANN: In Ray Bradbury's perpetually disturbing vision of a future America, firemen are sent into people's home to hunt down illegal materials, namely books, to destroy them, to set them on fire. Hence his choice of the name of his novel, "Fahrenheit 451," the temperature at which paper will burn. Our third story on the Countdown, 54 years after that book about anti-intellectualism was published, a disturbing parallel initiated by the Bush administration, not in some future America, but right now here today.

Actual firemen being trained to seek out illegal materials to be on the lookout for people who express either hate or even just discontent with the United States, and to report back to the government about them as possible terrorists suspects. And because firemen and other emergency workers usually do not need a warrant to enter someone's home, they can go places that law enforcement can't, and not just during a fire; but, say, during fire code inspections.

Nearly a year ago, Homeland Security gave secret clearance to nine New York City fire chiefs, sharing intelligence with them in return for information on suspicious materials and behavior. If the information-sharing program works in New York, the department says it will extend it to other major metropolitan areas, unless we stop them.

I'm joined by Mike German, former FBI agent who is now National Security Policy counsel to the ACLU. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.

MIKE GERMAN, ACLU: Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN: Obviously, everybody should be alerting law enforcement if they see something suspicious, or possibly related to terrorism. Fire fighters are not excluded from that. But especially given their right to go into a building not just for fires, but to evaluate fire safety, this program seems to be turning them essentially into legally protected domestic spies, does it not.

GERMAN: That's exactly what it is doing. And that's the entire intent of this program, is to turn fire fighters and emergency medical personnel into intelligence gatherers.

OLBERMANN: Even before this particular program from Homeland Security started, the fire fighters were being asked to be alert for materials that look suspicious or people who expressed, as we said, hatred of or discontent with the United States. But now that they are being told specific intelligence and then being asked to report back to the government on what they see, does that put them in an untenably political position? Have we just politicized fire fighting in this country.

GERMAN: Not just a political position, a legal position. There is actually still a Fourth Amendment. I know it's bruised now, post 9/11. There is still a Fourth Amendment. What makes a fire fighter search reasonable is that it's done to prevent a fire. If now fire fighters are going in with this secondary purpose, that end run around the Fourth Amendment won't work. It's likely that they will find themselves in legal trouble, particularly the emergency medical personnel, because there are some very severe medical privacy laws in the country, and they could find themselves in legal jeopardy.

OLBERMANN: You could see where that could fall into all sorts of things that are in both categories. If they trip over a meth lab somewhere, suddenly they're agents of the government. It may not be an innocent find anymore. You have just ruined the prosecution of something that me be destroying an entire city. Apart from those things, is what disturbs you and the ACLU the same thing that just jumped off the page for me on this, that one phrase, look for people who are expressing hatred of or discontent with the United States? Discontent?

GERMAN: Absolutely. And any time you look at these stories, they always focus on certain reading materials, terrorist propaganda they might call it, or flight manuals or things like that. They're focused on literature. Again, there is a First Amendment in operation, too. So, we are concerned that that is where the fire fighters are turning their attention.

Fire fighting is a tough job. We want them putting all their attention on doing their job. They shouldn't be burdened with doing the dirty work for the Department of Homeland Security.

OLBERMANN: We have already got "1984" in play in in so much of the government. We don't need pages taken from "Fahrenheit 451" either. Last point here, is there one further element to this that maybe hasn't been explored? You have very few government employees going into homes or businesses without warrants or at least without records. Is there not a risk that if the government wanted to, for some reason, plant evidence of terrorism or of anything else on anybody, fire fighters who are doubling as junior spies would be perfect for the job?

GERMAN: Well, certainly anybody who is not a professional law enforcement officer being engaged in what is law enforcement activity raises the risk of improper activity. And this idea of reporting suspicious activity, which is so ill-defined, it could encompass anything, really plays to peoples' prejudices and gives them the opportunity to do damage to someone based on some prejudice, rather than based on real evidence.

OLBERMANN: We saw them with ACLU materials while watching Countdown .

GERMAN: Exactly.

OLBERMANN: Mike German, formerly of the FBI, now national security policy counsel to the ACLU. Great thanks for your time.

GERMAN: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Speaking of entering our homes without warning, here is "Dancing With the Stars." And speaking of entering our homes without warning, there is former Attorney General John Ashcroft volunteering to be water boarded as long as he has one special assurance, in the Worst Person segment around the corner here on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Keeping Tabs on the world of celebrity and entertainment, number two tonight, beginning with a brief bit of book keeping. We are not, despite appearances, in our usual studio tonight. That is not a window on to Rockefeller Plaza. It's just a camera feed. It's just too noisy down there. Try Washington now if you want to, Brian. This way we can see the tree lighting, without having to listen to Celine Dion.

Meanwhile in our nation's capital, "Dancing With the Stars" is over and a grateful nation rejoices, a disappointment for fans of Marie Osmond, a big night tonight for Washington fans of auto racing. Beginning with Monday's off beat dance routine, perhaps in the spirit of the holidays, Osmond playing the limp limbed, wind up living doll routine with partner Jonathan Roberts (ph), who also says he underwent a root canal on the same day.

First a root canal, then he has to go through this. Judges overwhelmed, not. Then, last night, Ms. Osmond was eliminated from the finale, the show giving her an emotional send off, recalling her performance the night her father died. Osmond will be going on the national tour of "Dancing With the Stars." Please hide in your garages. Other celebrities will include Wayne Newton on that.

As for the season's big winners, Spice Girl Melanie Brown and partner Maxine Schmirkofsky (ph) were the runners up. The coveted disco ball winner going to two time winner Julianne Hough (ph) and race car driver Julio Castroneves (ph), who thanked his team, thanked his family and thanked his fans. The rest of us are just thankful the damn thing is over.

Fortunately, we just got the start date for the next big TV reality series, dancing with the truth, starring O.J. Simpson, April 7th. The date set today by a Las Vegas judge for the next Simpson trial, a trial his attorneys are saying could last two months. Maybe that's why Simpson seemed to be making himself at home in the courtroom today, after hearing charges of kidnapping and robbing two memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in their hotel room in September.

A confident-looking Simpson pleading not guilty to all charges, adding to the maid-for-TV element of the trial, the judge Jacque Glass (ph) was a former Las Vegas radio and TV reporter who specialized in crime stories.

All of us here hope you got to see our interview last night with Norman Lloyd, the actor, director, producer celebrating his 75th year in entertainment, and being celebrated in the new documentary "Who is Norman Lloyd." Here is a postscript you might enjoy. After we finished the news cast last night, he and I started talking about baseball. Norman mentioned the first game he ever saw in person, how it was a World Series game, game one of the 1926 World Series. He was 12 at the time.

After he rattled off the starting lineups for both teams, featuring eight future hall of famers, including Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Roger Hornsby, he told me a baseball story I had never heard before. A marvelous thing happened, Norman began, Babe Ruth slid into second base and ripped the seat of his pants. Norman observed that nearly any player in that predicament would skulk off the field for the necessary repairs or a new pair of pants. Not Ruth. He waited for the Yankee trainer to come out to second base, and, in front of 62,000 fans, sew up the rip.

In the interim, Norman said, Babe Ruth tipped his cap and waved to the crowd. I never heard that story in my life. Sure enough, a little research, it happened in the bottom of the third inning of game one of the 1926 World Series. Just 81 World Series ago. Nice memory, Norman.

A brief shameless plug, the Special Comments book is now in presale online. reporting tonight that on its sales list it is the number 10 most frequently purchased book on U.S. politics, fourth most popular book in the journalism category, third best selling book on the US executive branch. We are dumb founded and grateful here. It doesn't come out for a month yet. Thank you.

Britney Spears, bare foot and pregnant. Not bare foot. How about lacking underwear and pregnant. That's next. But time for Countdown's Worst Persons in the World.

The bronze to E.D. Hill of Fox Noise, waving that flag a little too automatically, telling viewers that they could spread holiday cheer to a wounded vet by simply addressing a letter to, quote, a recovering American soldier, unquote, care of Walter Reed Hospital in D.C. No, that was an email hoax. Walter Reed cannot accept mail without a patient's name. Fox Noise didn't even call Walter Reed to check. It had to apologize for the gaff.

Our runners up, the Republican party of Virginia. The state has open primaries; any registered voter can vote in either presidential primary. The Democrats look ahead to the twin primaries on February 12th and say, that's the law; we will live with it. The Republicans have another idea, loyalty oaths. You want to vote in the Republican primary, you have to sign a written oath that you are going to vote for the Republican candidate in the election next November. Not that that can be legally enforced and not that that makes the GOP look desperate or anything.

But our winner, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, who after the Gonzales beside the bed shakedown story had begun to look a lot less crazy than he had while he was in office. That all changed back last night. He gave an address on freedom and security at the University of Colorado, defending Gitmo, the Patriot Act, water boarding. He took questions, including the obvious one. Are you willing to test whether water boarding is torture by being water boarded yourself?

"The things that I can survive, if it were necessary to do them to me, I would do." See, Mr. Ashcroft, that's the problem; as Daniel Levine of that very same Justice Department concluded when he let himself be water boarded, you don't feel like you are going to survive. And if the guy doing it to you does it wrong, you can very easily not survive. This, sir, has all the validity of saying that you would be willing to do cocaine on the assurance that it would not cause a spontaneous heart attack.

Also, anybody else besides me worried about that first part of his answer? He is asked about torture done in our name and Ashcroft says the things that I can survive. What? You knew about things your people did that you couldn't survive? Former Attorney General John Ashcroft, today's Worst Person in the World.


OLBERMANN: The logical fallacy insists that just because event A preceded event B, it does not mean event A caused event B. Nevertheless, two Britney Spears stories tonight. At least one of them is half baked. She was caught trying on lingerie in public and she is pregnant. Again, not necessarily a sequence of events. But what the heck. Our number one story on the Countdown, you did it again.

But, first, to the "In Touch Weekly" report that Ms. Spears emailed friends on the 14th of this month that she was four weeks pregnant and that she was sure the father was J.R. Rodeham (ph), the music producer she has been seeing on an irregular basis since she separated from Kevin Federline. What's more, "In Touch" claims that Mr. Rodeham says it's true. Quoting him, it's true, unquote. "In Touch" also reports that Ms. Spears emailed a copy of the ultrasound image to her inner circle two days later.

Problem with that, of course, is the great unlikelihood that she would have an ultrasound at just four weeks. So enter the denials. A friend of Ms. Spears told "People Magazine," quote it's just B.S., big lie. And Miss Lufdie (ph) sent a text message to Ryan Seacrest, which he read on his radio show. saying that the story is, quote, completely fake.

Well, how about this one? "US Weekly" reporting that Ms. Spears recently showed up at the X rated Hustler Store in West Hollywood, California and tried on a pair of skivvies right in front of the other customers, this after she was told she could not take the underwear into a changing or dressing room, which really sounds like a story that should have come from "OK! Magazine."

At this point, let's turn to the host of the pop cultural show of record, E Network's "The Soup," Joel McHale. Joel, good evening.

JOEL MCHALE, "THE SOUP": Great to be here for this important news, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Yes, so this has all been cleared up by a text message to your buddy Seacrest? Did you get a text message?

MCHALE: Keith, I just want some eye contact from Ryan, anything.

Touch the hem of his garment. He is the lord. He rules E.

OLBERMANN: It was a short text message. Is she or is she not pregnant?

MCHALE: Well, we're not sure yet. What they're going to do is give her some Gas X, and if that doesn't work, then she is in a family way.

OLBERMANN: This small detail about the ultrasound; doctors normally perform ultrasound at the first time about eight weeks into a pregnancy, not four weeks. Of course, Tom Cruise had once reportedly bought an ultrasound machine. He could have helped her out. But somehow I'm thinking that's unlikely. Do you have any further explanation on the ultrasound part of this story, Joel?

MCHALE: Yes, there is no way she had ultrasound, because as soon as they put that jelly on her stomach, she would have scooped that up with two slices of wonder bread and some Skippy peanut butter.

OLBERMANN: We are going out to dinner. "In Touch Weekly" went so far as to say she seemed convinced in her email that having another baby would turn her life around. OK, that would do it for her, or would it just turn her car around?

MCHALE: Keith, her car has not been turned by her in a long time. She is too busy text messaging. But, as you said, she said her life would be turned around by having a baby. You are right. It would be an entire 360.

OLBERMANN: And the skid marks would be seen up and down the boulevard.

MCHALE: Yes, right back where she started.

OLBERMANN: The Spears friend who did the text - I won't mention the name. I am going to interrupt you. I have to light the Christmas Tree. Stand by, Joel. OK, three, two, one. Got it. OK. All right, back to Joel McHale and the Britney Spears story.


OLBERMANN: I signed a big contract. I have to do extra stuff around here now. Back to the text message. We won't say again who got it. But in it, it says J.R. doesn't even know what's up. Is that the typical explanation for men who may or may not have impregnated Ms. Spears, not to know what's up?

MCHALE: Yes, most men who impregnate her do not know what's up. They get picked up outside of a Home Depot, get told they are going to be doing some light window caulking, and then they get knocked unconscious for a short time.

OLBERMANN: Window caulking.

MCHALE: Poor guys.

OLBERMANN: This less shocking or unfamiliar part of the Spears story, with "US Weekly" reporting that she was informed by these employees at the Hustler Store that the store policy was you couldn't try on underwear in a fitting room. So she said, well, to hell with it. I'm going to do it here right in front of everybody?


OLBERMANN: Just say something so I don't have to keep talking about it.

MCHALE: Look, you need to change your life or end it if you are being reprimanded by employees of the Hustler Store.

OLBERMANN: Part two of that one, she also has reportedly stolen a wig off a mannequin on the way out. Should not the employees have done a better job of explaining the store rules to her?

MCHALE: Oh, yes. But, once again, it's the Hustler Store, so usually there are no rules. She found a way to break them and call attention to herself.

OLBERMANN: Could it be, Joel, that this has just been garbled. Might that not have been a wig that she stole but a mercan (ph).

OLBERMANN: First of all, congrats on saying mercan on your show.

Second, most wigs can also be mercans. It depends on the cut.

OLBERMANN: Lastly, Kevin Federline; "Detail Magazine" named him in the 50 most powerful men under the age of 45, designated at number seven for being a food father. Tee off on that one.

MCHALE: Yes, it is so powerful when a father takes responsibility for his children with only the help of the untold millions of dollars from the crazy and dead women who birth them. Wait, Britney is still alive, sorry.

OLBERMANN: You would have to go back to one show a week if that was the case. Joel McHale host of "The Soup" on E, brand new and appointment viewing on Friday. Great thanks, Joel. Good to talk to you.

MCHALE: Thanks man.

OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this the 1,673rd day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. From New York, I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.