Tuesday, May 15, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for May 15

Guests: Howard Fineman, Lanny Davis

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

One, find a bus. Two, throw a colleague under said bus. The attorney general after his chief deputy, Paul McNulty, quits. Gonzogate was really McNulty-gate.


ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The deputy attorney general would know best about the qualifications and experiences of the United States attorney community, and he signed off on the names.


OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, back at the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz knows

who to blame for the scandal over the big raise he got for his girlfriend -

his girlfriend.

And from under the bus to under anesthesia. It is aptly described as something out of a movie plot, former Deputy Attorney General James Comey, on the night Alberto Gonzales tried to get John Ashcroft to sign off on warrant-free wiretapping while Ashcroft was recuperating in the hospital from gall bladder pancreatitis.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: I was very upset. I was angry. I thought I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man.


OLBERMANN: The carjacking of Leonard Simms (ph). While several passers-by do nothing, the man is punched and beaten repeatedly. The man is 91 years old.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those people just stood and watched like vultures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they're very bad (INAUDIBLE). I think (INAUDIBLE), they're cowards.


OLBERMANN: Jerry Falwell is dead, the man who ascribed the 9/11 attacks on tolerance towards gays and feminists and the ACLU.

And it's American Political Idol, the D.C. battle of the bands, Bob Schieffer versus Tony Snow. Now they will get to battle with the immortals.


JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL (singing): Let the eagle soar...

FORMER PRESIDENT Bill Clinton (singing): Imagine all the people...


OLBERMANN: American Political Idol, and you get to vote. Tony Snow versus Bob Schieffer? Who would Katie Couric vote for?

All that and more, now on Countdown.

Good evening.

The etymology is unclear, but the phrase is politically apt, especially tonight. We're checking for tire treads on the just-resigned deputy attorney general Paul McNulty after he got rolled under the wheels by his erstwhile boss, Alberto Gonzales, the White House today indicating it might be willing to give Paul Wolfowitz a glimpse of the pavement and the oncoming vehicle. Mr. Wolfowitz himself has evidently given his girlfriend at the World Bank the up-close view of the underside of the old Greyhound.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, the phrase is, "Throw him under the bus," and tonight, the buses are running.

We begin with the attorney general, waiting only hours after his deputy announced he would resign to begin blaming him for the federal prosecutor scandal.


GONZALES: The one person I would care about would be the views of the deputy attorney general, because the deputy attorney general is the direct supervisor of the United States attorneys. And in this particular case, Mr. McNulty was a former colleague of all of these United States attorneys. And so he would knew - he would probably know better than anyone else about the performance and the qualifications of these - of our United States attorney community.

At the end of the day, the recommendation reflected the views of the deputy attorney general. He signed off on the names, and he would know better than anyone else, anyone in this room, anyone. And again, the deputy attorney general would know best about the qualifications and experiences of the United States attorney community, and he signed off on the names.


OLBERMANN: Yes, sign here, Mr. McNulty.

While the attorney general was saying that, he was apparently too busy to comply with the subpoena issued earlier this month by the Senate Judiciary Committee for all e-mails to or from Karl Rove connected to the U.S. attorney scandal, today's 2:00 p.m. deadline to respond to that coming and going, what was being said before the Senate Judiciary Committee today prefacing even more trouble for the attorney general and the administration, shocking details about an old scandal, the secret NSA warrantless eavesdropping program, and about the conduct of Mr. Gonzales, a former top official at the Justice Department describing what happened when those two men went to visit John Ashcroft in intensive care three years ago to, again, throw a man's health under the bus, to get Ashcroft to sign off on that eavesdropping program, even though they all knew, under the best of health, he was against it, the former number two man at Justice, James Comey, testifying today that when he was acting attorney general, then-White House counsel Gonzales and Andy Card, then the White House chief of staff, tried to get the real attorney general, John Ashcroft, to approve the domestic spy program from his position in the intensive care unit at George Washington University Hospital, even though they knew he was against it, even (INAUDIBLE) knew he had signed over the powers of his office to Mr. Comey because he was so ill with gall bladder pancreatitis.

Amazingly, Mr. Comey said the attorney general had just enough presence of mind to put his visitors in their place.


COMEY: Attorney General Ashcroft then stunned me. He lifted his head off the pillow and, in very strong terms, expressed his view of the matter, rich in both substance and fact, which stunned me, drawn from the hour-long meeting we'd had a week earlier, and in very strong terms expressed himself. And then laid his head back down on the pillow, seemed spent, and said to them, "But that doesn't matter, because I'm not the attorney general."

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: But he expressed his reluctance, or his - he would not sign the statement that they - give the authorization that they had asked, is that right?

COMEY: Yes. And as he laid back down, he said, "But that doesn't matter, because I'm not the attorney general. There is the attorney general," and he pointed to me, and I was just to his left. The two men did not acknowledge me. They turned and walked from the room.


OLBERMANN: Time now to call in our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine.

Howard, good evening.


Evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: As we sit here in the bus-dispatch office, is this bit with McNulty pretty much the last of the options for throwing people under the bus for the attorney general? Because after you've sacrificed your number two, if that doesn't work, doesn't it necessarily make number one really vulnerable?

FINEMAN: Well, Keith, we're down to the last three episodes, so who knows what's going happen to Tony - I mean, to the attorney general?

I thought his sound bite just there, the video clip you showed of the attorney general, told you everything you needed to know about his attitude and where he thinks he is in this. He could barely contain his smirk as he spoke at the National Press Club today, because he has pieces of paper that, in fact, were signed by the deputy attorney general, and that would appear, on their face, to show that Mr. McNulty did, in fact, approve of the actions that were taken.

Of course, the reality is that McNulty was more of an institutional guy, was more of a prosecutor guy, not a member of the political Family, with a capital F, of George W. Bush. All of the real work was done by Gonzales's aides, as we now know. It's clear that politics was involved. It's clear that lots of attorneys were removed for politics.

But Gonzales is saying, You can't prove it by me, and McNulty signed the papers. And that was the look of a guy saying, I dodged another one here.

But you raise a very good question. How many more can he dodge?

Don't know.

OLBERMANN: All right, to the past, when people had different roles, different jobs, especially Mr. Gonzales, the White House press secretary, Mr. Snow, tried to dismiss James Comey's testimony today by saying that the then-attorney general, Mr. Ashcroft, hadn't really been that ill. It wasn't as if, quote, "his brain didn't work." Well, of course, they had transferred his powers to his assistant because that was exactly what they were worried about, that his brain wouldn't fully work while he was sick. Isn't that a pretty transparent dodge, among dodges?

FINEMAN: Well, it's a pretty weak defense on Tony Snow's part. He didn't deny any of the rest of the scenario. The fact was that Gonzales - who, by the way, is proving, minute by minute, why George Bush loves the guy, because whatever the Texas word for chutzpah is, Gonzales has it. And he will do the president's bidding, and the president's bidding in that case was to ram through approval for the warrantless wiretap program. That was George Bush's attitude, it was John - Gonzales's job to get it done.

They went to Ashcroft in the hospital because they knew darn well, that they weren't going get Comey to sign off on it. They were racing to the hospital ahead of Comey to try to get Attorney General Ashcroft, who comes off like, ironically, like the civil rights hero in this case, the civil liberties hero, to sign off on something they knew that James Comey would not.

And don't forget, James Comey's the guy who, in his, also in his professional role, another institutionalist, a professional Justice Department guy, is the one who picked Patrick Fitzgerald from Chicago to investigate the Valerie Plame leak case.

OLBERMANN: So between the Comey testimony and what Gonzales said about McNulty, is the White House standing behind Gonzales now, if it were not a necessity, an absolute, that they have to go to the wall with him? Did it become that today?

FINEMAN: I think the president's sticking with him. Now, it's true that Gonzales is hanging by a thread. If some other story breaks from a different direction we don't know about, then it might overwhelm George Bush's sense of loyalty.

But don't forget, Gonzales has been with the president since long before he was president, back when he was running for governor, back in the early '90s. This is Family loyalty with a capital F, political Family loyalty. And Gonzales is as close as they come. And if you look at what Gonzales did in the wiretap matter, the president is probably proud of what he did in that case.

And as far as throwing McNulty under the bus, I don't think the president could care one way or the other.

OLBERMANN: Yes, he resigned, therefore there's no loyalty in play.

But one last thing here. Why not, if you're being investigated by the Senate Judiciary Committee, why not at least reply to their subpoena seeking the interaction e-mail lies (ph) with Rove? Why not - why just ignore the deadline?

FINEMAN: Well, Keith, you assume they have some respect for Congress, and they don't. And this is the beginning of a long bidding war that's probably going to end up in court. They're ignoring the subpoena. Eventually, Congress will spin its wheels and spend a lot of effort, Chuck Schumer will, to get them, and Pat Leahy will, to get them to respond to the subpoena. Then they'll respond by saying, We're not giving you anything. And then it'll be ripe to go to federal court, which is where it'll go.

OLBERMANN: Howard, stand by for a moment, if you will. We want to get your reaction also to Paul Wolfowitz and the evidence tonight that chivalry is, too, dead.

As we mentioned at he top of the newscast, the White House now says all options are on the table regarding the president of the World Bank, a significant change in its terminology. And Mr. Wolfowitz, so eager to hang onto his job, if not his girlfriend, he is now claiming he was forced to promote her because the ethics committee of the World Bank was afraid to deal with her, in effect, because of her temper, "The Washington Post" reporting that Wolfowitz is claiming the ethics committee told him in - when he arrived there in 2005 that he could not directly supervise his longtime companion, Shaha Riza, who also worked at the bank, but that the panel declined to oversee her job transfer and raise, because they did not want to deal with her, knowing she was, quote, "extremely angry and upset," leaving him to handle those tasks.

Quoting Mr. Wolfowitz further, "Its members did not want to deal with a very angry Ms. Riza, whose career was being damaged as a result of their decision. It would only be human nature for them to want to steer clear of her."

Mr. Wolfowitz might want to steer clear of Ms. Riza when he gets home tonight, as for how that conversation might sound, the British newspaper "The Guardian" reporting a new report offering a few clues that an angry Mr. Wolfowitz threatened retaliations at the World Bank if his indiscretions came to light, quoted by a key witness in the investigation, Mr. Wolfowitz was as having said, quote, "If the F - with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to F - them too."

And "F" does not stand for Fineman. Howard, was that the - you know, you (INAUDIBLE), made the "Sopranos" reference before. Was that the Christopher and Tony moment for Mr. Wolfowitz in the White House? Does that explain why the White House is suddenly saying all options are on the table with him at the World Bank?

FINEMAN: Yes, he's becoming more trouble than he's worth, and he's not worth as much to Bush as Gonzales is. Wolfowitz is over at the World Bank. George Bush has suddenly taken diplomacy to heart and knows that in the case of Iran and some other matters, he needs the support of Europe, he needs the support of major allies.

Wolfowitz has become a problem with other families, to pursue the analogy. And I think what he's done is pursue a deal in which the United States will maintain the right, long held by the U.S., really since the beginning of the World Bank, to name the president of the World Bank, as we did Wolfowitz.

Bush will get to name the next one, and Wolfowitz will go. I think it was significant that Dick Cheney is the one out there defending Wolfowitz in the last 24 hours, not the president himself. Wolfowitz is not nearly as close to the heart of the matter with George Bush as Gonzales is, so I think he's going to go. And it's embarrassing, I think even to George Bush, when Wolfowitz is blaming his own girlfriend for his problems.

OLBERMANN: Yes, I think we'll just leave for others to speculate exactly how he's going to get out of those remarks with her, never (INAUDIBLE). If he might be in trouble with the White House, he's got - the White House has got nothing on him compared to Ms. Riza after this.

But while we have you here, the White House finally has its new war czar, the lieutenant general, Douglas E. Lute, who's currently director of military operations at the Joint Chiefs. Again, I know this is - may sound like an academic question, but do we not already have a war czar under that different title? I think it's commander in chief. Isn't that it?

FINEMAN: Well, Keith, I hear another bus revving up. You know, if things don't work out, the war czar ends up under the bus, because Petraeus, over in Iraq, is somebody George Bush has praised to the skies. He can't really abandon him, suddenly blame things on him. If, as I think is the case, George Bush is slowly beginning to turn around and, even while adding troops, looking for ways to diminish the troops there ultimately, he needs somebody else to handle that that he can blame, and that's what czars are for. They end up under the bus.

OLBERMANN: Yes, the advice in the context of Mr. McNulty's experience would be, to General Lute, Don't sign anything your boss hands you, right?

FINEMAN: That would be one. And by the way, the antiwar groups are crowing tonight, because Lute is a guy who said - warned that we can't seem like occupiers there, who's actually something of a dove among the hawks. So there may be some tea leaves to be read there too.

OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of "Newsweek" and MSNBC. Howard, great thanks for doing the double duty tonight.

FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: All right.

Only this White House could have a watchdog group dedicated to making sure civil liberties are not muzzled as part of the counterterrorist effort, and then try to muzzle that watchdog group. Lanny Davis, who has just resigned from the group in protest, joins us tonight.

And Reverend Jerry Falwell is dead. Details next.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: There does not seem to be any confirmation of it anywhere in the staggeringly detailed annals of baseball research, not even a mention, but the official biography of the Reverend Jerry Falwell, who died today at his office at Liberty University, suggests that his life, and thus that of so many others, turned on a dime one day in 1952 while a sophomore at Lynchburg College. Falwell was, it says, offered a chance to play with baseball's St. Louis Cardinals, presumably in their minor league farm system, but he suddenly found a previously unknown interest in the Bible, and signed up not with the ball club, but with the Lord.

Fourth on the Countdown, that's the story, anyway. For the rest of the saga of a controversial life, here is our correspondent Bob Faw.


BOB FAW, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There never was any doubt what Jerry Falwell believed. If a man stands by the Bible, he said, vote for him. If he doesn't, don't.


REV. JERRY FALWELL: I vote Christian, and I believe that, i.e., is pro-life, pro-family, pro-Israel, strong national defense.


FAW: Born again his sophomore year in college, he spurned a career in baseball, and in 1956 started a church in his home town, Lynchburg, Virginia, with just 35 adults. Broadcasting "The Old Time Gospel Hour," first on radio, then TV, he turned Thomas Road Baptist into a powerhouse with 24,000 members.

In 1979, Falwell founded the Moral Majority, energizing evangelicals and turning the religious right into a force which helped elect both Ronald Reagan and the first President Bush.

PAT BUCHANAN, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: It had roots and it had reach out among conservative grassroots Democrats, who were Christians and had normally voted for the party of FDR and Truman. And I think Jerry Falwell helped bring a lot of them into the larger Reagan coalition.

FAW: Televangelism took a hit, though, when the Reverends Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker were brought low by scandal. In 1999, Falwell was ridiculed when he complained one of the PBS Teletubbies was gay. And he came under scathing criticism in 2001 when he said that gays, feminists, and lesbians were partly to blame for the terrorist attacks.


FALWELL: I point the finger in their face and say, You helped this happen.


FAW: Today in South Carolina, Falwell was eulogized by Republican presidential hopefuls.

RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We all have great respect for him.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We healed our past differences and we worked together for the good of the country. We'll all miss him.

FAW: In 1989, Falwell disbanded the Moral Majority, focused on his TV ministry and on Liberty University, which he founded, through it all, remaining genial and outspoken.


FALWELL: I have an ABC philosophy, Anyone But Clinton.


FAW: The Reverend Jerry Falwell, crusader and polarizer, was 73.

Bob Faw, NBC News, Washington.


OLBERMANN: The battle of the bands is over in Washington, but D.C. Idol is just beginning. We pit Tony Snow and Bob Schieffer against the most memorable political performances of all time, and you get to vote. Musical (ph) (INAUDIBLE).

Who voted on this? Lindsey Lohan earning the hottest woman title from "Maxim" magazine. No fair not wearing underwear in the contest.

That and more, ahead on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: On this date in 1950-something, we don't have to mention the exact year, Dan Patrick was born. Bon vivant, gourmet, gourmand, raconteur, fancy dancer, international Stratomatic champion, Joe Isuzu's stunt double, and, of course, but for the tragic trick knee, one of the immortals of professional basketball. In short, national treasure. Happy birthday, partner.

Let's play Oddball.

And if there was one thing Dan loved, it was bears. So, big guy, wherever you are, this one's for - He's still alive? I thought that was a computer-generated re-creation. All right, whatever.

Holy cow, look at those bears. Bradbury, California, hello. It is a huge mother bear and her cub, just walking through the neighborhood outside of Los Angeles. Obviously, she's taking him to school. This is the third time these two have been spotted in the last two weeks. Authorities are hoping for residents will help in (ph) with capturing them. We'd also like to issue a correction. If you see these bears, please do not attempt to grab the baby one and make a break for it. Not. Turns out that would be very dangerous. Who knew?

To the Internets, where we get all our dog racing action. This one from Shelburne (ph) Park in Ireland. My money's on the number three dog. Run, boy. And we've had a wipeout in the first turn. Number three dog is down, down goes number three. Oh, I can't believe it. I bet half the staff salary on this little waste of Alpo. Now they're all going to starve. And - wait a minute. What's that at the bottom of the screen? He's not done yet. Number three is still in it, baby. Run, boy! Number three, down the stretch he comes. And he wins. I am going to Hawaii.

Finally, to Wuhan (ph), China, for something a little more subdued. And it's not a clan, it's robots warming up for a game of soccer. Man, this is going to be great. The eighth annual National Robot Soccer Competition. These teams apparently the best of the 86 that entered the tournament. The winner's moving on to the Robot World Cup, which is like the real World Cup, only slightly more interesting.

The White House meddles with its own board overseeing civil liberties, so it's only Democrat says, Enough is enough, and quits. He, Lanny Davis, joins us.

And D.C. Idol, your chance to pick the most talented politician in all the land. We mean in entertainment. Intentional entertainment.

But first, time for Countdown's top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, James Taylor of Orange County, Florida, (INAUDIBLE) held up a bank there Monday night, then immediately drove across the parking lot, changed his shirt, and went and had a beer in a bar. Alert eyewitnesses still in line at the bank tipped off the police, and Mr. Taylor was arrested.

Number two, Alan Chavez of Dallas, he is accused in one of the most daring robberies of our time. He stole a quarter million dollars worth of Skittles. Apparently, he just intended to steal the rims and tires from the truck containing the 28 shipping pallets full of the candy. That's not the way it works when it comes to being arrested.

And number one, actor David Faustino, who joins the Mug Shot Hall of Fame. Want to see? For what was he arrested in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, the other night? Well, if the look on his face doesn't tell you, what was his character's name on "Married with Children"? Right, Bud Bundy. They got him on possession of marijuana.


OLBERMANN: The one word that might sum up the Bush administration is relentless. A lot of the wheels have fallen off lately with deafening retorts and booming salvos. Only these guys would have thought to take a federally mandated presidentially appointed board of watch dogs, designed to protect from the muzzling of civil liberties and try to muzzle their report hinting at the deterioration of civil liberties. In our third story on the Countdown tonight, they did. The only Democrat they appointed finally had enough and he is the latest whistle-blower to scream foul in the direction of this White House.

Lanny Davis resigned yesterday from the president's Privacy and Civil Liberties Board, claiming the White House attempted to influence the board's legally required annual report to Congress on its own efforts to make sure that counter terrorism efforts do not trample on privacy and individual rights. Lanny Davis was special council to President Clinton, a frequent visitor on the first version of this news hour, and we're more than happy to have him back tonight. Lanny, good evening.


OLBERMANN: So the 9/11 Commission suggested this oversight board. The "Washington Post" says the administration made hundreds of revisions and deletions to its very first report? What is going on here?

DAVIS: Look, I have to start by saying that this is a genuine difference of opinion. The White House council, Fred Fielding, who was on the 9/11 Commission, disagreed with the process of editing and deleting aspects of our report to Congress. But there are people in the White House and in the administration who saw this legislation putting us in the Office of the President as creating a board that was part of the White House staff no different than anybody else. And that was their opinion.

My opinion was that the Congress intended us to provide real oversight, but in-house criticism and review of some of these programs that might have infringed on civil liberties, such as the national security letters, which the inspector general of the Justice Department did say constituted serious abuses. Now that difference of opinion, where the White House council actually agreeing with my view, means that the real problem is Congress in creating what is a square peg in a round hole, putting what should be an oversight independent entity in the Office of the President.

So I don't impugn any motives or bad faith to people who edited this report. I am looking to Congress to fix this problem. I originally thought, Keith, genuinely thought we could be independent within the Office of the President. As it turns out, it just does not work that way. Congress now needs to fix that problem.

OLBERMANN: Taking that as red, one of the deletions from the report concerned a passage about federal prosecutors detaining material witnesses indefinitely in terrorism cases. According to various reports about what has happened here that triggered, in some way, objections related to the firing of the U.S. attorneys. I am not seeing the connection of those dots. Can you walk me through it?

DAVIS: Yes, that one troubled me more than any. We wanted to review in the coming year possible abuses that we had heard about from civil liberties groups of the use of a material witness, to put that person in jail without charges, as they might allegedly relate to an on-going case and have material evidence. We were concerned about that and we agreed to put that in the report.

What we got back was, well, it is OK for you to look into that. We just don't want you to put it in your report to Congress because it may be confused. It may overlap with the U.S. attorneys controversy. I regarded that as an inappropriate reason, which bordered on a political reason, and I disagreed with that. I don't think there are people comfortable with that excuse for deleting that I've talked to.

But as I said, Keith, the real issue here and what I hope to communicate through you and this program is that Congress created this out of the 9/11 Commission recommendations as independent entity. But instead of putting us outside of the White House, they put us in the White House reporting to the president. That might have been a good idea, giving us access that we might not otherwise have had.

But as it turns out, it created an attitude that we were no different. And a legitimate difference of opinion that we were no different than any other office in the White House. That led to these political judgments and substantive judgments that went into the editing or proposed editing of our report, which led me - I thought it was time for me to leave the board. It really wasn't the kind of independent oversight entity that I thought it would be. And Congress needs to fix the problem.

OLBERMANN: Last question, Lanny. Give me a bottom line here, as somebody who is among those who have contended that giving the administration the benefit of the doubt, the administration may have taken government invasion of privacy and restrictions on civil liberties to levels way beyond whatever was warranted in the wake of 9/11. Are we to any degree right in contending that?

DAVIS: Look, Keith, I am a liberal Democrat. I am not apologetic about the word liberal. And an ACLU civil libertarian. I joined this commission very concerned about exactly what you just said. And in some cases my concern was less than it should have been. These national security letters constituted, according to the inspector general of the Justice Department, rogue lawless actions by FBI agents that even the director of the FBI could not defend.

So I would say there are serious dangers. But I also was impressed by the people at the CIA and other intelligence agencies, who are very concerned about civil liberties and privacy rights. So it is a mixed bag.

OLBERMANN: Lanny, I hope the Congress acts and gives you that access without being under the same umbrella to the degree that apparently you were, to the committee's detriment. And our great thanks tonight, Lanny Davis, former special council to President Clinton and until recently on President Bush's Privacy and Civil Liberties board. Thank you, sir. Good to talk to you.

The car-jacking of a 91-year-old man caught on camera in Detroit. Not caught on camera, the five by-standers just standing by as it happened. And Lindsey Lohan topping the list of hot women. Despite the drinking partying, the string of boyfriends, the hoo ha flashing, well it's Maxim Magazine. Maybe it was because of those actions.

Those stories ahead, first here are Countdown's top three sound bites of this day.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Were you a smoker at one time?

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: That's right. I used to smoke.

GUPTA: Do you smoke anymore?

L. BUSH: No, I don't smoke any more.

GUPTA: How did you quit?

L. BUSH: It is very difficult to quit. And one of the good ways, I think, one of the easier ways to quit is the way the president did when he smoked, which is when he was back in graduate school. And that was he took up running.

REP RIC KELLER (R), FLORIDA: I've been an original co-sponsor of this bill ever since I got here to Congress. If I can quote L.L. Cool J., the rapper, don't call it a come back. I have been here for years.

STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": You see, President Bush brought in the Nascar fans, the real patriots who he knew would support the war. But folks he needed someone to hook in the late sipping, crossword puzzle crowd.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: What it is about is making sure that we remain until the Iraqi forces are capable of securing their own country. So that Iraq is then capable of becoming a proper functioning and sovereign democracy, as it should be.

BUSH: We are not leaving so long as I am the president.


OLBERMANN: It was disturbing enough seeing the security camera video of a New York woman, 101 years old, attacked by a man who took 33 dollars from here. A suspect in that case has since been arrested. But in our number two story on the Countdown, that kind of cowardice compounded. Now it is a 91-year-old man in Detroit beaten by a car-jacker, who was also eventually captured. But worse still in this case, there were five witnesses at the scene and they did nothing to help him. Our correspondent is Kevin Tibbles.


KEVIN TIBBLES, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The violent beating of 91-year-old Leonard Sims was captured on video by security cameras outside a Detroit liquor store. Simms, a World War II vet, was punched repeatedly by a car-jacker who stole his keys and drove off.

LEONARD SIMS, WORLD WAR II VETERAN: Before I could say anything, he punched me in the face.

TIBBLES: Police say several people stood near by while the beating went on and on. And to Simms disappointment, not a single one came to his aid.

SIMS: There was a group of people right next to my car. I think very, very badly of them. I think they are cowards.

NORA SIMS, VICTIM'S WIFE: Those people just stood and watched like vultures.

TIBBLES: In the 1960s, the case of Kitty Genovese stunned America and became synonymous with what is called bystander affect. Genovese, a New York bartender, was stabbed to death. Neighbors heard her screams and did nothing.

(on camera): In a busy world, where many of us don't even know our own neighbors, it is often difficult to step forward. Some sociologists suggest humans would rather follow than take the lead.

ROBERT NASH PARKER, SOCIOLOGIST: People think that somebody else will take responsibility. They don't have to. And they also think that at any moment the proper authorities will arrive on the scene.

TIBBLES: In a March dateline investigation, NBC's security consultant Bill Stanton posed as a car thief with hidden cameras rolling. At least ten people watched and failed to call police. Those who have rushed in where others are failed are often treated as hero. The man who dove on to the tracks of the New York subway to save a 20-year-old man having a seizure. And the two college students who intervened while former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun was being mugged.

RACHEL MCFADDEN, HELPED FORMER SENATOR: You hear that kind of scream, and you know what you have to do.

TIBBLES: But for Leonard Sims, there was no help, only brutality.

Although late yesterday, police did return his stolen car.

Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Chicago.


OLBERMANN: On to our nightly round up of celebrity and entertainment news, Keeping Tabs, with hotness topping, hotness as defined by Maxim Magazine anyway. Lindsey Lohan, numero uno on the Maxim eighth annual list of the hot 100. According to the managing editor - the editor in chief of the magazine, Jimmy Jellinek, quote, there is no other star in the world who causes more of a stir in the public eye than Lindsay. If you say so.

Rounding out the top five Jessica Alba, Scarlet Johansson, Christina Aguilera and Jessica Beal. The avatars of Second Life ranked number 95, meaning that five other so called hot women could not beat out a computer generated fantasy lady. And although Ivanka Trump came in at number 83, she can at least tell the Donald that she bested number 84, a contest winner known only generically as hometown hotty.

Paris Hilton not on the list, but she's got more pressing concerns and is traumatized as her jail sentence looms, that according to her psychiatrist. Hilton has been seeing Doctor Charles Sofee (ph) for eight months. In court papers, he says that Hilton has now become emotionally distraught and traumatized as a consequence of the findings of her May 4th sentencing and her fear of incarceration. Dr Sofee says that Hilton, therefore, cannot act effectively in her own defense in a civil trial that was scheduled to begin this month.

The diamond heiress, Zeta Graff, has sued Hilton for ten million dollars. She claims that Hilton was behind a report that Graff had tried to grab a four million dollar necklace from Hilton's throat. A judge has now postponed that trial until August.

Also postponed, the services of radio shock jocks Opie and Anthony. Their broadcasts on XM satellite radio has been suspended for 30 days, effective immediately. Last week, Greg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia broadcast a guest called Homeless Charlie, making jokes about a violent sexual encounter with Secretary of State Rice, among other prominent women of state.

They have apologized, but according to XM, quote, comments made by Opi and Anthony on yesterday's broadcast put into question whether they appreciate the seriousness of the matter. There are no federal restrictions on satellite radio content, but XM and Sirius, seeking FCC approval of a merger, would probably like to keep it that way.

Meanwhile it is a battle of the bands Washington style. Tony Snow on the jazz flute versus Bob Schieffer singing country. That is ahead, but first time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for worst person in the world.

The bronze to Glenn Beck, who told CNN morning viewers that the firing of Don Imus and the suspensions of Opie and Anthony were part of some sort of left wing raid on radio conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and himself. There is a real feeling, he said, on the left. What they are trying to do is shut people down. This smacks of a leftist witch hunt in many ways. Glen, come back to this planet for a minute. Imus was a conservative? And, by the way, Opie and Anthony say they watch this program.

The runner up tonight, Mr. John Johns of Little Rock Arkansas, sold a Dachshund puppy, normally priced at about 200 dollars, for just 15 at the yard sale that he had last Saturday. Great deal. Problem was it was not his Dachshund puppy. Kringle belonged to his neighbor. The dog had been barking through the fence and nipping at the Johns own dog and Mr. Johns was fed up.

When some shoppers pointed at Kringle and asked is your dog for sale, he said yes. Mr. Johns says he will make restitution to the real owner. You get the feeling he should be out searching for the people he sold the dog to.

But the winner tonight, radio advice host Laura Schlesinger, formerly Dr. Laura, speaking to Army families at Fort Douglas. She said military wives who are stressed out and unhappy about the prospects of their husbands, you know, getting killed in Iraq need to take a new approach. Quote, he could come back without arms, legs or eyeballs and you're wining? You are not dodging bullets, so I don't want to hear any whining? That is my message to them.

So first we find out you are not a relationship doctor, just a physiologist. And now we find out you are not even a human being? Laura Schlesinger, today's Worst Person in the World.


OLBERMANN: To our number one story on the Countdown, and music lovers beware, it's an all Washington musical extravaganza, the search for the first DC Idol. First on Sunday, the crowd at Jamestown, Virginia, ostensibly there to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the colony there, got unexpectedly subjected to this, the president conducting the band in "Stars and Stripes Forever."

Then on Monday, his press secretary pulled out his jazz flute for a battle of the bands at the Washington Press Club.


OLBERMANN: Those other guys with him are Tony Snow's band called "Beats Working." I guess that wasn't really a battle truly, given that the competition consisted of only one other musical group, CBS News man Bob Schieffer and his retro country band, "Honky Tonk Confidential."


OLBERMANN: More melodic than a Dan Rather on a hot Texas roadway. People paid 60 dollars a pop to watch the competition in an effort to raise money for the National Journalism Library. In case you're interested, Tony Snow and his band won. Bad year for Bob.

But for all the skill on display at the press club, we hear at Countdown have come to expect more from our politicians when they take to the stage. Hence, we have decided to hold the ever competition in DC Idol.

We picked five of the best political musical performers in modern history. All you the viewer has to do is vote for your favorite. So without further ado, here are the nominees. The first, who could forget this, former Secretary of State Colin Powell.


OLBERMANN: Never did find out why he looked less like a member of Village People and more like a member of Divo. Our second nominee, also a former member of President Bush's cabinet, the aforementioned John Ashcroft, who gets extra props for performing a song he actually performed himself.


OLBERMANN: That was during the pancreatitis? Our third nominee survived the first Bush term and is still surviving long enough to give us this little gem of a rap performance. And he only needed two words. Take it away.


OLBERMANN: Of course, such painful performances are not limited to this administration. Witness our next nominee, the 42nd president at the 80th birthday celebration for Shimon Peres.


OLBERMANN: And now you know why they originally gave him a saxophone. Finally tonight, our fifth nominee, who is currently applying for President Clinton's old job, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and his version of sixteen tons.


REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: I've seen people dreaming the dream and stuck singing 16 tons.



OLBERMANN: There you have it, big hand for all of the nominees. The five nominees for the Countdown's first ever D.C. idol competition. You have until Friday afternoon to vote for your favorite at Countdown.MSNBC.com. Unlike real elections, there's no limit on the amount of times you can go to the ballot. So vote early, vote often. We will announce the lucky winner live on Friday night, only here, only on Countdown, only on MSNBC.

And unlike that other Idol, we won't fix the outcome. And there's no Sanjaya. That is Countdown for this the 1,476th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.