'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for June 1
Guests: Jonathan Alter
ALISON STEWART, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Dan Bartlett out. The resignation of one of the president's closest advisers. What does the Texas exodus mean for the Bush administration? Richard Wolffe and James Moore help us analyze the latest exit from the White House.
The TB scare. We get a first listen and look at the carrier, attorney Andrew Speaker, from inside isolation. He says he has an explanation for why he got on all those planes, and he has the audiotapes to prove it.
Hillary Clinton might not be so ready for her close-up.
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SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I may be the most famous person you really don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: A new book paints an unflattering portrait of the presidential hopeful. But is it revelation, or rehash?
Plus, Keith has another round with Al.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER VICE PRES. AL GORE: I don't expect to run. Yes, I haven't ruled out the possibility at some point in the future, but I'm not keeping that exception alive to be coy...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Breaking news in the mystery of monster pig. New details from Alabama. Will the revelation finally lay this controversy to rest?
The Countdown investigative unit never rests, not even on Pizza Friday.
And from big pigs to wrestlers, it's gravity at work. Wee wobblers, a cop crackup, brownie baking kind of day. It's an Oddball extravaganza. Our plays of the month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We made brownies, and I think we're dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: All that and more, now on Countdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Overdose of what?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Good evening. I'm still not Keith Olbermann, but I am Alison Stewart, holding down the fort form Washington, D.C., where President Bush's innermost circle of advisers is 33 percent smaller tonight.
But the confidante he is losing is probably not the one you would expect, given recent hirings and firings of late.
Our fifth story on the Countdown, Karl Rove staying, Alberto Gonzales staying, Dan Bartlett, not staying. The counselor to the president has spent his entire adult life working for either Mr. Bush or Mr. Rove. On this, his 36th birthday, the Gemini announced his decision to start doing something else, in large part because of his family, including three children.
He has been a key player in the Bush inner sanctum dating back to the 2000 recount, the September 11 attacks and the war in Iraq. That one's still going on, actually. The president said of Bartlett today, quote, "I value his judgment, and I treasure his friendship."
Of the Texas team, that leaves only Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general vowing today that he won't be leaving the administration until the next presidential inauguration, some 20 months from now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I intend to spend the next year and a half in a sprint to the finish line. The American people deserve nothing less.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Time now to call in our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek."
Nice to see you, Richard.
RICHARD WOLFFE, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "NEWSWEEK" MAGAZINE:
Good evening, Alison.
STEWART: The president's limited inner circle is about to get even more limited. How does that affect the quality of the advice he'll be getting?
WOLFFE: Well, there's no question this is a blow to the president. Dan Bartlett wasn't just another adviser in the mix here. And even just recounting how long he's worked for Bush doesn't quite get at the relationship.
You know, one of the president's friends once told me that he was the son he never had. And as a member of a sort of adopted family, he could say things to the president other advisers couldn't. He burned a DVD of the nightly news when the president wasn't seeing what was really happening in Hurricane Katrina. He edged him, nudged him towards talking in a more frank and direct way about the sectarian violence in Iraq.
Now, these aren't dramatic changes, but inside the Bush orbit, they are pretty big.
STEWART: Now, how would you describe the timing of Mr. Bartlett's exit?
WOLFFE: Unfortunate. This is not a great time to leave. Not that there has been any good time, really, in the second term, after the first six months of it, anyway. You know, the inevitable questions the press asked were about the rats leaving the sinking ship. But honestly, this is sort of lull right now, certainly before we get to September, and everything that's going to happen with Iraq.
STEWART: Any word on who might replace Bartlett?
WOLFFE: Not yet. I suspect that they could find quite a few people inside who would fit the bill. But, look, you can follow him in the job, but filling his shoes is going to be incredibly difficult. Trusted, valued, appreciated, there's no question the president wanted Dan Bartlett to stay.
STEWART: And we all know that loyalty is especially important to this president. I can imagine it would be difficult to find someone that he might believe is as loyal as Dan Bartlett has been proven to be.
WOLFFE: Right. Loyalty has been very important. Look, he was trusted with keeping the records. The National Guard story, going way back. He worked with him, really, it was his first job out of college. Worked a little bit for Karl Rove, and then looked after issues and policy when Governor Bush then was running the show down in Austin.
So he's been there a long time. It's more about knowing the entire history and the character of the president. Now, of course, he's going to take blame for a lot of the things that went on. There were certainly many Republicans who said this communication shop was broken, especially as things were getting bad towards the midterms.
But I'd say Dan Bartlett at least had that special ability to say to the president, We've got to change.
STEWART: Before I let you go, what explains the attorney general's long-term job announcement today? Does he know something that we don't, or is he kind of counting on the fact that Mr. Bush doesn't like change, and Bartlett is already has a foot out the door?
WOLFFE: You know, I think they are - they have dug in with Alberto Gonzales. They're trying to ride this one out and hope that, given a couple of months, we're not going to pay any more attention. We're thinking about Iraq, and will have forgotten all about this. I think that's wishful thinking, frankly. But as a public statement, I would expect nothing less from a loyal Bushie.
STEWART: Richard Wolffe of MSNBC and, of course, "Newsweek." Have a great weekend, and thanks to you.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Alison.
STEWART: Dan Bartlett joins a long line of Texas advisers who came with the Bush administration to Washington, who have since left the White House. There's also former counselor Karen Hughes, Joe Albaugh, the former head of FEMA, Don Evans, former Commerce secretary, press secretary Scott McClellan, and, of course, Harriet Miers, who was both White House counsel and, for a short time, the president's pick to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.
For more on the Texas exodus, let's call in James Moore, co-author of the book "Bush's Brain."
Thanks for being with us, James.
JAMES MOORE, CO-AUTHOR, "BUSH'S BRAIN": You're welcome, Alison.
STEWART: Even though Mr. Bush is presumably going to replace Dan Bartlett, is there really any replacing a member of that original Texas team?
MOORE: No, I don't think you can replace Bartlett, but remember, this is a president who has sort of surrounded himself with a coterie, I think, of sycophants, people who sing songs that he likes to hear, which is, You're great, Mr. President, you're right, Mr. President, and the rest of the world is wrong.
I take exception to the notion that Dan was honest and confronted the president when the president was going in the wrong direction. I don't believe that was the relationship. He came of age under this president when he was a governor, and he - from the time he got out of college, he basically hitched his wagon to George W. Bush's mule and went all the way to Washington.
He's essentially never worked for anyone else. And without the president, he wouldn't be what he has become. And it's unlikely that he ever went to him and said, You're making a mistake.
STEWART: You just described an interesting relationship. Let me break it down just a little bit. Behind the scenes, what kind of jobs did Dan Bartlett do for Mr. Bush, especially in the early days, when the goal was to actually get to the White House?
MOORE: Well, I think one of the things people are not aware of about Dan, Alison, is that very early in the administration, when George W. Bush became governor, Dan was a liaison to the Texas National Guard at Camp Mayberry (ph) here in Austin. And it's clear to me that they wanted him over there to see what was going on. What's in the records? Is there anything we need to be worried about?
He established a relationship with the commandant, Danny James, and they figured out, I think, essentially, Dan did, and went back to the governor and said, Look, we've got things in the records over there we need to deal with. Karen Hughes got involved, Joe Albaugh got involved, and the records essentially were scrubbed. And we never, ever got to the truth of the National Guard issue.
And once you take a bullet like that for someone, like Dan Bartlett did, his future was secured with this president in whatever happens. And I can assure you that on his job hunt, he's going to have people coming after him for essentially the same reason.
STEWART: You also talked about the length of time that he worked for Mr. Bush in one form or another. We're talking about 14 years. The fellow's only 36 years old, which means for most of his adult life he's only worked for Mr. Bush or Mr. Rove.
So I wonder, could this obscure this thinking that, you know, Dan Bartlett thinks something is normal in politics that might not be, seeing that his experience is limited to this environment? What do you think?
MOORE: Well, it will be interesting to see him in the private sector. And I take exception also to the notion that he's leaving because now is the time. I don't believe history has recorded any incidence of rats swimming towards sinking ships.
He said, of course, when he was asked if he were leaving the "Titanic," he said, Oh, come on. I agree, it's a bad analogy. This has been much worse than the "Titanic."
And Dan has had - played fundamental role in putting a humanizing face on George W. Bush. And the president today said he's glad that Dan can go back and be with his young family. Well, Dan has been part of facilitating a horrible war and making the president look human in the process. And there are close to 3,500 young Americans who've died in that war who won't be able to go back to their families.
And I think it's unfair to characterize Dan as Mr. Hail Fellow Well Met. There's been a lot more going on that he's has not been fairly scrutinized for.
STEWART: James Moore, co-author of the books "Bush's Brain" and "The Architect." Thanks for being with us tonight.
MOORE: My pleasure.
STEWART: Another book takes a look, or maybe a whack, at Hillary Clinton, the wife. Carl Bernstein delves into the marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Will candidate Clinton have anything to fear?
And another scary subject, drug-resistant TB. The infected man who sparked an international manhunt offers his apologies and a few explanations.
You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.
STEWART: There's good news and bad news in the case of America's failure to stop Andrew Speaker from entering the U.S. and bringing his highly drug-resistant tuberculosis with him.
In our fourth story on the Countdown, the good news is that Homeland Security officials say the system worked. The bad news is that Homeland Security officials say the system worked. And yet, the U.S. did not warn Canada about Mr. Speaker in time to stop him, and a U.S. border guard let him cross into New York despite seeing a warning about him.
The border agents' union say they do not receive adequate training on health issues. In their defense, Homeland Security called Speaker deceitful, although it's not clear what he supposedly lied about.
NBC's Robert Bazell has new details about Mr. Speaker himself.
ROBERT BAZELL, NBC CHIEF SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At National Jewish Medical Center in Denver. Andrew Speaker today began his treatment for extremely drug-resistant TB.
DR. CHARLES DALEY, JEWISH NATIONAL HOSPITAL: He's just ready to go.
He is anxious to get started on therapy.
BAZELL: In this television interview from his hospital room, Speaker said he thought it was safe to take all those flights.
JAMES SPEAKER: No one ever said anyone was in danger. No one ever said that I was putting anybody at risk.
BAZELL: But today, the Fulton County Health Department, which was in touch with Speaker, released this letter, dated the day before he left. "It is imperative that you are aware you are traveling against medical advice," it concluded.
CDC officials today refused to give any more details of their conversations with Speaker. But they did say they have contacted 74 U.S. residents who traveled on the transatlantic flights with him, including all 26 who sat in the rows closest to him. So far they have found no infections.
The CDC is only testing U.S. residents and urging others to get tested in their home countries.
Also today, NBC News learned that Dr. Robert Cooksey, Speaker's father-in-law and CDC TB expert, attended his wedding in Greece. Cooksey also sat in on the meetings with health officials before Speaker left on his journey. In a teleconference today, the head of the CDC said Cooksey did nothing wrong.
DR. JULIE GERBERDING, DIRECTOR, CDC: It's our certain understanding that the father-in-law's role was limited to what one would normally expect from a father-in-law who cared very much about his daughter and her fiance...
BAZELL: And Speaker offered an apology to his fellow passengers.
SPEAKER: I'm very sorry for your fear and putting you at risk.
BAZELL (on camera): At the end of this extraordinary week, officials stress that this one case presents little danger to the public's health. But they say it does illustrate the international system for protecting against disease needs a major overhaul.
STEWART: Robert Bazell reporting there.
"Assault on Reason" by one Mr. Al Gore. Just good summer reading, a precursor to another presidential run? More of Keith's interview with the former vice president.
And the most expensive piece of contemporary art ever. A skull, some diamonds, some glue, wham! Too bad we can't do that with the monster pig's skull. More on that story coming up too.
STEWART: It's Keith's day off, and as a tribute to one of his passions, it was on this date in 1925 a reserve first baseman for the New York Yankees was inserted into the team's lineup when the starting first baseman was injured before the game that. That fellow, Lou Gehrig, went on to play 2,137 consecutive games spanning 15 years of the Yankees. And Wally Pitt (ph) became the answer to a trivia question.
Now, my consecutive show streak stops at three. Got to get back to NPR. Keith will be back on Monday.
But for now, let's play Oddball.
We begin in London, England. And it's the latest creation from creepy artist Damien Hurst (ph). It's a diamond skull. It's a platinum cast of a real human skull containing more than 8,000 diamonds, all of them carefully glued on with a bedazzler. Her sparkly melon is called "For the Love of God," which is also our reaction when you heard about the $100 million pricetag. Just in time for Father's Day.
And it's time for another episode of Oddball's amazing kids. First of Veek Budense (ph), the world's bangingest 3-year-old B-boy. You may have caught his first YouTube effort about a year ago when he was a 2-year-old B-boy. Well, he's grown up now, and so are his moves.
And if you think that's impressive, here's another amazing kiddy from the Interweb. It's a 3-year-old Chinese girl solving a Rubik's Cube in just under two minutes. Yes, while your toddler is busy flushing your keys down the toilet, this kid is solving 3-D puzzles. We don't have time to for the entire clip, but trust us, she didn't pull off all the little stickers and flap (ph) them back on. And she's done.
Don't worry, there's still plenty more Oddball ahead. Keith brings us the Plays of the Month May Edition.
And a potential headache for Hillary Clinton. A new and unflattering book about the former first lady by Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein.
Those stories ahead.
Now here are Countdown's top three newsmakers of this day.
At number three, Bush-Cheney 2007. No, it's not a typo, it's the double team of Charlotte Bush and Alexis Cheney, juniors at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C. They teamed up to run for president and vice president of the student council, playing off the other team with a slogan that said, "Don't Misunderestimate." The election was yesterday, and no chads or recounts necessary. The result came in today. Bush is out, but Cheney is now vice president of the student council.
At number 2, Pope Benedict XVI, who, on his recent trip to Brazil, forgot his passport. Considering that the president of the country and a substantial crowd was waiting to greet the Holy Father at the airport, Brazilian authorities figured they'd better let him into the country. Then, presumably to really avoid another diplomatic incident, they let him off the hook entirely, deciding not to fine him for improper documentation. Instead, the airline that flew him to Brazil was sent the fine instead of the Vatican.
And number one, the pope's home base, Rome, Italy, and a possible explanation as to why he forgot his passport. Scientists analyzing the air there found more than just Vespa exhaust and pizza pie particles. They also found cannabis and cocaine. Perhaps this is why they call the pope his High Holiness.
STEWART: So let's just say you're the wife of a politician who becomes president. You live in the White House for eight years, some turbulent, you put away your law degree in favor of picking china, but then you strike out on your own, win two terms as a senator, and then run for president yourself.
And then people start writing books about you, calling you the A-word, ambitious.
Number three in our Countdown, maybe there are some surprises in two new books with the potential to stir up the 2008 campaign. "Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton" is written by two "New York Times" investigative reporters. And the whopping 640-page "A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton," written by Watergate legend Carl Bernstein, who says he's managed to expose the hidden Hillary.
Here's NBC's Andrea Mitchell.
CLINTON: And I will try to answer as many as I can...
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the campaign trail, she tries to reintroduce herself as something new.
CLINTON: I grew up in a middle-class family in the middle of America in the middle of the last century.
I may be the most famous person you really don't know.
MITCHELL: But in Iowa last winter, even she seemed to hint slyly at her past.
CLINTON: And what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men?
MITCHELL: Now, the Clinton marriage, already written about in scores of books, is put under a microscope again by Carl Bernstein in "a Woman in Charge." It is not flattering.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.
These allegations are false.
Indeed, I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinski that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MITCHELL: Bernstein portrays a cold, calculating Hillary, her own ambitions stymied by marrying Bill, deeply hurt by her husband's infidelities in Arkansas, but still, with her law partners, Webb Hubbell and Vince Foster, helping cover up the illicit affairs.
He writes that Bill Clinton fell in love with one woman, an Arkansas utility company executive, but Hillary wouldn't give him a divorce. Bernstein's sources quote Hillary as saying, "There are worse things than infidelity."
(on camera): The campaign dismisses the book as, quote, "rehash for cash," and calls it sexist for disparaging Hillary Clinton's appearance and glossing over her work in the Senate.
(voice-over): But will the book hurt her politically?
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: New information about old problems isn't going to be an issue for Senator Clinton. It's when it's new information about new problems since she became an elected official herself that could create pause for her campaign.
MITCHELL: Leading most analysts to say whatever happened before, for now Bill Clinton is still his wife's best fund raiser and political advisor.
Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington.
STEWART: "Newsweek's" senior editor and MSNBC contributor Jonathan Alter joins to us figure out what to make of all of this. Hi Jonathan.
JONATHAN ALTER, "NEWSWEEK": Hi Allison.
STEWART: Let's talk first about Carl Bernstein's book. The headline in Rupert Murdoch's "London Times" reads Watergate reporter demolishes Hillary's career story. Apparently the book spends quite a bit of time on her personal, life more so than her career, her marital troubles she has had with her husband. Will all the personal and salacious stuff have any impact on the campaign?
ALTER: I don't think so. You know, this is old news. Americans have been there and done that with all of this on the Clintons. There's very little that's new. I was struck by the fact that she flunked the D.C. Bar exam when she first took that test. That was one of the only things that I really learned from the revelations of this book.
But just because the book doesn't hurt her doesn't mean that she's on track to the Democratic nomination. One of the things that - to look for is how this book does. Because there is a question of whether people might be just sick and tired of the Clintons. And in the same way that it doesn't get a rise out of folks, what happened in the past, it also doesn't intrigue them very much about her in the present.
And so I think the thing we have to worry about more than the scandal factor is the boredom factor, the fatigue factor.
STEWART: So maybe she should hope for good sales of these books is what you're saying?
ALTER: We'll see. I could be wrong. Maybe the book will - these two books will do very well. But my instinct is that people are ready to move on and that her chances depend on what she says about the future more than what others say about her past.
STEWART: You know, Andrea Mitchell touched on this in her piece a little bit. Some of the blogs are out there calling Bernstein sexist because he takes on topics like her weight, or that she is rarely if ever deferential to her colleagues. The question is, would that ever be considered controversial or a big scoop in a book about a male candidate? Is she being held to a different standard?
ALTER: I don't think it's being seen as a big scoop. But you've got to remember that when Bill Clinton used to run around to Mcdonald's, there was talk about his weight. There's certainly currently a lot of talk about Al Gore's weight. There was talk about Al Gore's hair and his bald spot. So this is part of politics.
Having said that, you know, there are double standards and we're just getting accustomed to dealing with a woman candidate who has a serious chance of being elected. So I think we'll see a little bit more of this discomfort and possibly double standards as we move forward.
STEWART: Now, the other book, "Her Way," seems less personal, more political. The author is the "New York Times" reporters. Writes Senator Clinton did not read that key National Intelligence Estimate before voting to authorize use of force in Iraq. How troubling could that be if that's the big headline from this book?
ALTER: It turns out that this was true of all the Democratic candidates who were in the Senate at the time. Apparently none of them, except Joe Biden read the full - what's called NIE report. Right now it's hurting John Edwards a little bit more because he misspoke the other day and said that he had read the full report.
I think voters look at this and they go, you know, hey, if they're voting on something as important as the war in Iraq, can't they just read the damn report? So I guess you would have to give Obama a slight advantage on this, because he wasn't in the Senate at the time, and was opposed to the war. So he won't get hung up on this particular issue.
STEWART: Jonathan, will you let me dive into my inner conspiracy theorist? OK, the "Washington Post" article said the folks in Ms. Clinton's camp were worried about these books because they might put forth the some new revelation. We're all kind of hearing it's a rehash.
But that made me think that they know there's some revelation out there which could be discovered.
ALTER: Well, the thing about the Clintons, and this was very true when I was covering the 1992 campaign and then later in the White House, is that the aides never really knew what was out there. There were always terrified of Bill Clinton's past kind of catching up with him. So I think what that reflects is, you know, they don't know. They were not there in Arkansas in the 1980's.
And so they don't really know whether there's something new that could come out. And I think they're probably relieved that at least for now there wasn't.
STEWART: "Newsweek" senior editor Jonathan Alter, thanks Jonathan.
ALTER: Thanks a lot Allison.
STEWART: As far as Senator Clinton's worst potential political problem, it is the as yet undeclared candidate that's getting all the attention, former Vice President Al Gore. He claims that he is currently focused on his new book, "The Assault on Reason." But, as he told Keith Olbermann earlier this week, he's not ruling anything out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: Listen, by the way, one other topic while you're here. I know nobody ever asks you about this, it's the prospect of you seeking the presidential nomination next year. There's an item in the "Newsweek" June 4th issue that reads "he," and that would be you, "is 50-50 according to one of his closest friends and financial backers." What's your reaction to that item?
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, whoever that was doesn't reflect my thinking and I can't even answer the question, Keith, without sounding repetitious. You know my answer. I'm not thinking about running. I don't expect to run.
Yes, I haven't ruled out the possibility at some point in the future, but I'm not keeping that have exception alive to be coy. I really don't expect to be a candidate again. But here we are, 500 days or so before the next election. I don't see why, you know, everybody has to close the doors and say, OK, let's narrow the field and make your bets.
I'm an American citizen. I'm going to continue speaking out on my views forcefully and as best I can. And this book, "The Assault on Reason" is really about not politics or candidates, but about the way the whole system operates, and how it's gone off course, in my opinion, and how we can set it right again.
OLBERMANN: And it is a call to action to the American electorate to get more involved in the things that really matter to our survival, not just as a democracy but, as you pointed out in "An Inconvenient Truth," the human race. But to that point, sort of threading these two things together, could it not be argued that the best thing you could do personally to get the changes you say that we need is to actually become president of the United States?
GORE: Well, I respect that argument and I'm under no illusions that there's any position as influential as that of president of the United States. I don't think I'm necessarily very good at politics or at a lot of the things that our modern political system rewards. And as a result, I'm serving in other ways. I'm involved in a different kind of campaign, to persuade people to solve the climate crisis.
And it's really as part of that have effort that I've addressed the problems with our democracy. I'm convinced that we have to fix the foundations in our democracy in order to make better choices and solve the climate crisis.
OLBERMANN: All right, the one last topical or non-topical question, depending - I guess we would view it as topical and you would view it as non-topical. You mentioned the door closing. When does the door close?
GORE: I have no idea.
OLBERMANN: You don't know that? That's still up in the air?
GORE: Oh, I thought you were talking about deadlines and dates and so forth. I really don't know those dates.
OLBERMANN: That's where we'll leave it. The 45th vice president of the United States, Al Gore, whose new book is "The Assault on Reason." I hope you are as successful with it as you were with "An Inconvenient Truth" and that the results are as positive for all of us.
GORE: Thank you very much, Keith, and thanks for your passionate involvement in your own way, trying to address a lot of these same issues.
OLBERMANN: You're very kind sir. As always, great thanks for being so generous with your time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: To see all of Keith's conversation with Al Gore, visit our web site at Countdown.MSNBC.com.
The kid says he chased the monstrous wild beast all through the woods before finally killing him. Tonight, shocking news that may she had new light on the mystery.
And does sitting through a summer blockbuster end up serving nothing but headaches? How technology could help you stick it to the annoying people at the theater.
But first, here our Countdown's top three sound bites of this day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meet Murphy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a pretty significant amount of weight on that little frame there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chelsey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chelsea is getting a little chubby.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Daisy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If she were a person, she probably would fall into the morbidly obese category, probably like a 500 pound person. She'd be on "Jerry Springer."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just about everyone in Hampton Township was caught off guard Thursday when news spread an alligator was missing. It all started Wednesday night when Mark Schmidt went to check on his pet gator Wallace, and found nothing but an empty cage.
Mark immediately called authorities. You see, Wallace is a biter. And just when everyone thought the little guy was never to be seen again, mark spotted the gator sunning himself on a bank about a quarter mile from the house.
Mark and a firefighter sprung into the action. And within seconds it was over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have too many gators around Michigan. We hope this is the last time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More than likely it will be the last time. Mark says as soon as Wallace hits six feet, he'll become a wallet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You may not get a ticket for driving drunk here, but you're really taking chances out here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was surprised that he's still alive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brunswick Hills Police Sergeant Christopher Cobach (ph) stopped golf outing duffer Jeremy Cleary (ph) last Sunday evening. Cleary was charged with driving under the influence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been drinking since I woke up today at noon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, that's a driving mistake that will cost him a lot more than a stroke.
STEWART: That's right, we do have breaking news to report tonight, an update on our special Countdown investigation of last night into the case of the mysterious monster pig, known as, well, monster pig. In our number two story on the Countdown, we are getting independent confirmation of the pig's enormous side. He clocked in at 1,051 pounds.
And we have learned monster pig's secret identity. He's Fred. Fred was a mild mannered porker from a minor Alabama farm. And as we told you last night, monster pig became an Internet sensation after 11-year-old Jameson Stone (ph), accompanied by his dad and two hunting guides shot Fred dead early last month in Alabama.
After they posted some pictures online, some bloggers claimed the perspective of this photo had been staged to exaggerate Fred's size compared to Jameson. But now Fred's original owners have come forward to confirm that, yes, in fact Fred was a very, very, very large pig, and not a wild thing as first thought.
He was domesticated by his original owners and obviously, because his name was Fred. An Alabama official has verified these claims to a local newspaper. Last night, special Countdown investigative consultant Jack Hanna raised several questions, suggesting Fred did not act like a wild pig.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK HANNA, EXPERT: A hog like this, when you're hunting him also, they don't see very well. So their smell and their hearing is what they rely on. Now, if that's going toward the hunter, that's great. But if it's going toward the pig and the hunter's standing there, that animal is going to take off quicker than a deer.
So these are just questions. I'm not going to say if a picture involved or has been doctored, or whatever else. I'm just telling you about the animal itself. These are wild animals. Some people hunt them with rifles. Some people hunt them with dogs that locate the animal. How did the young boy get that close?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: See? Jack knew. So how did a domesticated pig end up being shot to death by an 11-year-old boy? Fill Blissett (ph) bought Fred as a six week old monster piglet in 2004, giving Fred to his wife, of course, as a Christmas gift, because, you know, jewelry's so passe. Then this April for some reason they decided to sell Fred off to a hunting preserve.
They came forward because they didn't want people thinking the pig was feral when it wasn't. All of which bringing this special investigation to close with this one final link in the story, and a delicious link it is.
When you have to segue from the monster pig to our nightly round up of celebrity news, Keeping Tabs, you're really talking about an embarrassment of riches and an embarrassing rich person. Paris Hilton is going to prison next week, and like anyone going to prison, she wants to look at fetching as possible.
That's according to the "New York Daily News," which says the Foxy felon has hired a hair and make up team for Monday morning, not to slip her a nail file, but to do her nails, to literally make sure she looks fab for her cat walk - I mean perp walk to the big house. The paper also reports Hilton will write a diary of her 23 days inside, because she told the judge she has people to read things for her. Not sure how that writing thing is going to actually work out.
A big surprise at yesterday's Michael Jackson auction, people bought stuff. I mean, it's all used and who knows how it was used. The company auctioning it off said it sold about a third of what it was offering. They paid five million for it all and spent another two million shipping it. So far, they've made a grand total of half a million dollars last night. Now, that's bad.
Now, with movies going I-Max and high tech 3-D, TV has at least one advantage. With TV you still know you're never going to have to put up with strangers who are blabbing away or some thoughtless person who decides to block the screen. Hello, lady, thank you so much. Dropped a Milk Dud.
Any way, the point is the movies are ratcheting up the armchair race with a new gizmo intended to do away with all the things that can make movie going so maddening. NBC's Lisa Daniels has the details.
LISA DANIELS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Movies can transport you to a different time and place. But if you're with the wrong crowd, going to the movies can be a painful experience. We all have our movie theater pet peeves.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When children are crying and parents don't do anything about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's not polite when people have conversations when you're trying to watch the movie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People talking back to the screen like they're in the movie.
JOHN FITHIAN, PRESIDENT, NATL ASSOC OF THEATERS: A few rude movie goers can spoil the experience for everyone else. We want to make movie going more magical. We want to improve patron behavior so that everyone can enjoy the show.
DANIELS: Which is why the Regal movie chain is asking theater goers to take matters into their own hands. They're rolling out this device in 114 theaters across the country. Movie goers will take the devices into theaters and act as high tech tattle tales, pressing one of four buttons if there's an issue.
One for picture problems, two for audio glitches and three for piracy.
(on camera): And then there's a situation we can all relate to. Let's say you're in a movie theater and the people next to you are talking loudly. Instead of saying, "can you keep it down, I'm trying to watch a movie," all you have to do is press number four.
(voice-over): Outside the theater, a manager will be alerted.
HEATHER DEMATTEIS, REGAN CINEMA MANAGER: The manager with the pager will get the signal and it will state what auditorium and what the situation is. And the manager will take care of it from there.
DANIELS: And if the system works, a peaceful movie experience could be just a click away.
Lisa Daniels, NBC News, New York.
STEWART: As we say hello to June, we also say a fond farewell to May by once again reviewing the last 30 days of weird and cool stuff. Keith will take us through the Oddball plays of the month. And it's next on Countdown.
STEWART: To our number one story. It was 40 years ago today Sergeant Pepper told the band to play. On June 1st, 1967, the Beatles released one of the greatest records of all time, "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." That means, "When I'm 64," just Turned 40. "Lovely Rita Meter Maid" is now collecting a pension check. And "Lucy in the Sky" has probably been in and out of rehab more times than Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears combined.
With that, we salute Sargent Pepper and this momentous anniversary by presenting you with the Oddball Plays of the month for May. Let's play Oddball.
OLBERMANN (voice-over): We begin in Madaba (ph), Jordan. We begin in High Wackem (ph), England. We begin on the Internets with video that comes from some far away land where the kids are mean and the sheep are scared.
We begin in Mexico City, sight of last night's annual crowning of a sexy lady to rule the universe, the Miss Universe Pageant. It's a known fact that most of the universe lacks any gravitational pull, Miss U.S.A., Rachel Smith, proved last night the stage in Mexico City does not.
We begin on the Internets with perhaps the dumbest and most dangerous thing we have ever seen. Move over Britney. Now there's someone stupider.
A rare one topic, brownie related Oddball tonight form Dearborne, Michigan, as we are handed the best 911 recording since that lady called the emergency response number last week and asked for nanny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I'm having an overdose, and so is my wife.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, you and your wife?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Overdose of what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marijuana, I don't know if it had something in it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you please send rescue?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you guys have fever or anything?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm just - I think we're dying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, how much did you guys have?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. We made brownies and I think we're dead. I really do.
OLBERMANN: We begin in Kai Siung (ph), Taiwan with the Countdown orangutan rampage of the week. And this has got a real problem with mopeds. Kong hate stupid -
To India, where these are real police, not men in costumes. In fact, it is the entire 1,200 man police force of the city of Jaipur. And they have just been shown my guest appearance of last night's "Family Guy." Yes, it was hilarious. Thank you.
To Flushing Meadows, oh, a kitty. Bradbury, California, hello. Holy cow, look at those bears.
To India, where local hoodlums are proving it's not always embarrassing to be seen on a Vesba (ph). It's a local motor bike stunt club putting on a show for the cameras. They call themselves RPM, which stands for Ruling Powerful Machines. Some days you rule the machine. And some days the machine rules you.
We begin in Hearst (ph), Texas, with a brazen criminal act caught on tape. An elderly woman makes a purchase at a deli, then walks away, accidentally leaving her coin purse with almost 800 dollars in it sitting on the counter. And that's when the criminal struck. Moments after the woman walked a way, a hoodlum on a motorized scooter rolls onto the scene, snatches the purse, then tears ass out the front door.
In an unrelated story, say hello to Breej Manga Sinj (ph), an 85-year-old wrestler in Jam Ship Pur (ph), India. He is the heavy set guy in the diaper surrounded by half naked teenage - are you sure we are playing the right tape?
It's the world high wire championships, featuring competitors from nine countries trying to become the fastest man to make it across without dying.
For you disturbed individuals out there, the answer is, no, nobody fell except this guy.
To the Internets where we find this gem from Oslo. It is a Norwegian singer, and we use that term loosely, Mira Craig (ph), learning that the key element in a successful stage dive is that somebody is there to catch you.
We begin in Telford, England, where you are looking live at the field in the 18th running of the British Grand National Sheeple Chase.
To the Internets, where we get all our dog racing action. This one from Shelborne Park in Ireland. My money is on the number three dog. Run boy. And we've had a wipe out on the first turn. Number three dog is down. Down goes number three. Oh, I can't believe it. I bet half the staff's salary on that little waste of Alpo. Now they're all going to starve.
Wait a minute. What is that at the bottom of the screen? He is 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.
And they are off with the incredibly classy Hollywood Park Bikini Race. I don't know if they do this all the time or if this is the first time, but boy, what a finish.
STEWART: That had to hurt. That is it for this Friday edition of Countdown. I'm Allison Stewart. Until we immediate again, check out my blog at NPR.org/BryantParkProject. Keith will be back on Monday. Thanks so much for watching.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END