Tuesday, June 26, 2007

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for June 26

Guests: Dana Milbank, Rahm Emanuel, Barton Gellman, Michael Musto

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

If you can't defund the war, at least try to defund the vice president. Congressman Emanuel says if Dick Cheney claims not to be a part of the executive branch, there's no reason Congress should pay him or his office as they have to if he is part of the executive branch. Rahm Emanuel joins us tonight.

This, as "The Washington Post" throws more light and more Cheney cockroaches start scattering. Why did he lead the group selecting finalists for the Supreme Court? Why did he have a role in the investigation of a corrupt Democratic congressman? Thanks a lot, Dick.

The Republicans are saying that to Richard Lugar, their senator from Indiana, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee. He's not buying the surge. He is off the Bush Iraq cheerleading squad.


SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R), INDIANA: In my judgment, our course in Iraq has lost contact with our vital national security interests in the Middle East and beyond.


OLBERMANN: At the White House, no news is good news. And to them, this bad news is old news.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is Dick Lugar repeating a position.


OLBERMANN: First, he took on the New York Mets and lost. Now, he's taken on the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and lost. So Bill-O tries to take on somebody his own size, this 16-year-old kid.


BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Well, you took it totally out of context. Look, I know what you pinheads think.



OLBERMANN: So he lost all three, huh?

Plus, Orally's startling revelation about the Fox bunker and something called "the brain room." Sounds like a page out of the Tom Cruise playbook, which is not playing well in Germany, where they have banned him from making his next movie because the government believes Scientology is a, quote, "cult masquerading as a religion."

And at this Hilton, checkout time was 12:15 a.m. It's not a fashion runway. It's not a fashion runway. It's not a fashion runway!

All that and more, now on Countdown.

Good evening.

By declaring that he is not part of the executive branch, Vice President Cheney might be getting you a tax break. Admittedly, it would only be about 2 cents per United States resident, but there's nothing Mr. Cheney likes more than a tax cut.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, Congressman Rahm Emanuel tonight leading the effort to see that the vice president's $4.75 million executive branch annual budget allocation goes away, what with the vice president having now explained that he's not in that branch. The congressman joins us presently.

But we begin tonight with the latest on the shadowy underworld of the shadow president. Part three of the "Washington Post" investigative series on Mr. Cheney and his influence on the administration's domestic policy, summed up by the paper as such, that if President Bush is the Decider, Mr. Cheney is the guy who serves up his menu of options.

It does not appear to be an a la carte list of endless choices, either, Mr. Cheney having, for instance, led the group which narrowed down the list of potential Supreme Court nominees, any number of five to four decisions announced yesterday, leaving no doubt as to how that turned out, Mr. Cheney having inserted himself into the investigation of Democratic Congressman William Jefferson, apparently as alarmed as were Mr. Jefferson's colleagues about the seizure of Mr. Jefferson's papers by the FBI.

You will recall that, hard as it is to believe now, Attorney General Gonzales, his deputy, Paul McNulty, and FBI director Mueller all threatened to resign if forced to return Mr. Jefferson's files, Mr. Cheney, reports "The Post," having brokered the solution, getting the president to put the files under seal for 45 days, to this day, nearly half of those files still remaining off limits, tied up in legal disputes, Mr. Cheney also having played a huge role in forming tax policy, even against the president's wishes, on a rare occasion when Mr. Bush told him no about deep reductions on capital gains tax, Mr. Cheney did an end run aground the president, and lobbied Congress for them directly.

Speaking of taxes, for more on the nearly $5 million in taxes we could all be (INAUDIBLE) - soon saving, we're fortunate enough to be joined by Congressman Rahm Emanuel, the chairman of the House Democratic (INAUDIBLE) Caucus.

Congressman, thanks for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN: Very well, sir.

Should we - should he continue to deny that he is a member of the executive branch? Do you actually intend to try to cut off funding for the vice president's office?

EMANUEL: Well, couple things. One is, we're going to have a vote on it on Thursday. But I'm only following the logic of the vice president. His legal team argues that he's a member of the legislative branch, which is news to everybody, including members of his own party, to avoid being held accountable, and not acting like he's above the law.

And so what I said is, If you really think you're part of the legislative branch, we shouldn't fund your office in the executive branch. That would save us all about $4.5 million. It is following the logic of his extraordinary, ludicrous legal argument that no vice president in the history of the United States has ever presented.

Second, his new position that he's in the legislative branch is in direct contradiction to the position he took when he met in secret with oil executives developing an energy policy, when he then said he wasn't going to turn over those documents because he was a member of the executive branch.

So in two separate instances, both attempting to deny information to the public, he has exerted that he is both a member of the legislative branch and a member of the executive branch, only when it's convenient, and all to deny information to the public and historical record, and to deny being held accountable.

OLBERMANN: Some sort of metamorphosis occurred between those two events.

EMANUEL: As I always said, you know, (INAUDIBLE) you noted (INAUDIBLE) the three-part series in "The Washington Post," he's - his claim that he's not part of the executive branch, the way I read those series, he is the executive branch. He's everything over there. He's made every decision. So it's got - it's (INAUDIBLE) - it's really ludicrous. And the - what is really upsetting is, this is all an attempt to be unaccountable and act like he's above the law.

OLBERMANN: But talking about accountability, is it, is it conceivable here that the vice president stepped into more than he anticipated here? I mean, could the Democratic plan about Iraq and handling it, in terms of getting people on the record, be an appropriate model for use here with the vice president? Yet every member of Congress should be forced to declare publicly how he or she feels about the vice president, and the sooner the better?

EMANUEL: Well, (INAUDIBLE), look, my feelings about the vice president aside, and I think they're well known, the fact is, when it came to knowing about his secret meetings with the energy executives and designing policy that would affect the country, he said, You can't know that information, because I have the - I'm a part of the executive branch of government.

When it come to what was going on, national security and archiving those records for historical purposes, and knowing what was going on as we led into the war in Iraq, he's saying, I'm a part of the legislative branch of government, you need not know that.

This is all about his secrecy, all about being not accountable, and all acting like he's above the law. Therefore, I think it's high time the Congress stands up as a third branch of government, unless I - there's another one that I never knew about, and the vice president is claiming it, and say, OK, if you're not part of the executive branch, Mr. Vice President, which is your claim, therefore we won't fund you through the executive branch. We'll zero that out, save ourselves $4.5 million.

OLBERMANN: In a moment, we're going to talk to one of the "Post" investigative reporters on that series, Barton Gellman. But I - what do you do about what, what the inescapable conclusion of that series, and what is (INAUDIBLE) obvious to everybody in Washington, that you have a president, or a vice president who acts like a president, which would seem to be kind of a contradiction of what the Constitution says. Is there something to be done about that fact between now and the end of his term?

EMANUEL: No, what I think is interesting, and this is nothing, and I say it up front, is but armchair psychology, when the president was governor, he had a very powerful lieutenant governor who was a Democrat, Lieutenant Governor (INAUDIBLE), who really ran the place, an older gentleman, et cetera, who really ran that and was a very powerful lieutenant governor.

You have Dick Cheney playing that similar role, just taking it in a whole different direction. And it's play in a (INAUDIBLE) the president of the United States is the commander in chief, he has allowed the vice president this type of latitude with power.

But this is a bridge too far. He is all doing this to be unaccountable, act like he's above the law, and (INAUDIBLE), and pull a shenanigan that he's in the legislative branch and therefore not required to tell people for historical purposes what role, what was the information they had classified as it relates to the Iraq war and other national security.

Therefore, the Congress that controls the purse strings will follow the logic of the vice president's legal argument.

OLBERMANN: One purely political question, then I'll let you go. What do you make of the other thing in "The Washington Post" today, Sally Quinn's report that Mr. Cheney's heart surgery this summer might be used as a convenient excuse for the Republicans to actually replace him with a vice president who would be far less damaging to their chances in the 2008 presidential and other elections?

EMANUEL: This president is loyal to the vice president, the vice president's loyal to (INAUDIBLE), and you could not get to the position the country's in if the two of them didn't work together as a team.

OLBERMANN: Congressman Rahm Emanuel, with one of the great answers I've heard in a long time. Great thanks for some of your time tonight, sir.

EMANUEL: Thank you very much.

OLBERMANN: Every day this week, bringing indeed new revelations about Vice President Cheney's job description, previously could have only been speculated upon. And for more on that, we turn now to "Washington Post" investigative reporter Barton Gellman, co-author of this definitive series about the Cheney vice presidency.

Mr. Gellman, thank you for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN: Of all the unexpected places he turns up, and all the unlikely titles he seems to be filling, does your reporting suggest that the most influential one is the one that's had Andy Card's name on it, or Josh Bolten's name on it? Is Dick Cheney actually the president's chief of staff as much as anything else?

GELLMAN: He has taken on many of the functions of the chief of staff, and he's certainly done things that chief of staff Dick Cheney in the Ford White House would have tried to put a stop to. But the thing is, about a vice president, is, you can't fire him, and he has the confidence of the president, and he's the 800-pound gorilla in the room.

OLBERMANN: This would seem to be the easiest way to ask this next question. In your reporting, did you come across any significant aspect of White House policy in which Mr. Cheney has not been involved?

GELLMAN: Yes, sure, we actually did. There's a whole range of social issues, the wedge political issues, things like gay rights, things like abortion, things like some of the socially oriented spending plans, No Child Left Behind Act, he actually didn't like that. The Medicare drug benefit, he was not in favor of it. When the president makes a decision, he lines up, and you never hear about his dissent. And we found some examples of that.

However, on what his people called the iron issues, on national security, foreign policy, economy, and the legislative agenda, and appointments, personnel, he has played a dominant role wherever he wanted to.

OLBERMANN: One doesn't just not hear about dissent on his part that is not responded to, or uninvolvement, but you also don't tend to hear when what he wants doesn't come to pass. I mean, writing in today's installment that he does not always win, but it's just that the word of his losses does not get out, which only serves to strengthen his power. But (INAUDIBLE) do you have an assessment? What's his, what's his batting average, .300, .400? What is he?

GELLMAN: Oh, it's pretty high. I - we don't have a complete picture. We can't tell you we know the whole average. But it's - there's no doubt that there's been no one of nearly comparable impact on the course of events these last six years under George Bush than Cheney. I mean, the president makes the decisions whenever he wants to. He delegates a lot to Cheney.

OLBERMANN: There was a remarkable anecdote with which you led off the installment today, that when the president told the vice president no about the capital gains tax, the vice president lobbied Congress to reintroduce it for him. Based on what you've learned about Mr. Cheney in the course of the reporting, how - is that how he views his office? He's sort of like an auditor for the president? Or how does he view his office?

GELLMAN: He views his office as highly operational. He's the guy who understands where the levers of power are, he understands how to make things happen. He understands that bureaucracies are often resistant to presidential initiative. He believes he's operating on behalf of the president's agenda, and it appears that the president thinks so too.

But this tax issue is the nearest one you could find to an example in which he's actually moving against the president's agenda, or at least he's nudging the president in a direction he wants, because Bush said, I want to abolish the dividends tax, I do not wan to cut capital gains tax. Cheney then went to the Republican leaders of Congress. He suggested that they put the capital - he put the capital gains back into the bill. They did, and he persuaded the president to sign it.

OLBERMANN: What, what has your reporting led you to conclude about this latest to-do over whether or not he's actually a member of the executive branch? What, where does that kind of rationale start when it seems to be in disagreement with every other year of our history and the Constitution and several other important documents?

GELLMAN: You know, there are two issues here. One is, does the executive order cover him? It's Bush's executive order. No one else has the right to interpret it. If Bush says it doesn't cover Cheney, then it doesn't cover Cheney. The larger question is whether the vice presidency is a, quote, "entity within the executive branch." His lawyer says it's not, because it's neither executive nor legislative, but attached by the Constitution to the latter. That's the language.

It's a fascinating argument. It is not academically groundless. But there's no way it will fly politically. And I think you've seen that White House spokesmen have not been prepared to endorse it.

OLBERMANN: Barton Gellman of "The Washington Post," the final installment of the series on the vice president will be in tomorrow's edition. We look forward to it. And we thank you for some of your time tonight, sir.

GELLMAN: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Looking forward in Iraq, the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says the Republican president's surge could greatly diminish our influence in the world. Did he just diminish the president?

And diminishing influence at home. Bill Orally gets faced by a 16-year-old kid.

You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: The logic is not complicated. You want to do something in Iraq to make Americans safer there, don't wait until September. Get our soldiers the hell out of there. That'll make them safer. Get our presence the hell out of there. That'll make us safer as a nation.

Our fourth story on the Countdown, it is straightforward, to many it's not shocking, except late last night, when it was expressed by a key Republican. Not just any key Republican, but the senior minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Just weeks after he voted to support the president's troop escalation, Richard Lugar, with a cri de coeur warning that the president is focused too much on Iraq, that his policies need to be reassessed, that the number of troops in Iraq must be reduced, Lugar warning that the risks of keeping so many troops in the line of fire now outweigh the potential benefits.

His unmistakable message, start getting them out or risk a more explosive Mideast, a possible disruption of energy supplies, and an even bigger Mideastern failure.


LUGAR: In my judgment, the current surge strategy is not an effective means of protecting these interests. Our security interests call for a downsizing and redeployment of United States military forces to more sustainable positions in Iraq or the Middle East. In 2003, we witnessed the costs that come with insufficient planning for the aftermath of the Iraq invasion.

It is absolutely essential that we not repeat the same mistake.


OLBERMANN: Reaction from White House press secretary Tony Snow seeming to entirely miss the senator's point, that we should not be waiting to see if the surge works.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I said earlier that it's going to be a long, hot summer. It's going to be tough. But on the other hand, it is absolutely vital - and this is one of the things Dick Lugar agrees on - in succeeding in Iraq. (INAUDIBLE) the question is, how best to do it. We think it's important to give this plan a chance to succeed.

Obviously, Dick Lugar is giving what he thinks is his best advice, and we certainly appreciate it and take it seriously. But we also believe it is very important to go ahead and let the search, number one, finish getting put in place, and second, let's see what results it produces.


OLBERMANN: Today, Senator Lugar saying he's been summoned to the White House for a meeting later this week. They may want to set up a few more chairs, other influential Republicans now backing Lugar, among them Ohio Senator George Voinovich, who today wrote a lengthy letter to the president, detailing how to get out of Iraq, and said if the president is not listening to their views, quote, "many of us are going to look at legislation that will limit the number of troops."

Let's turn to Dana Milbank, national political reporter for "The Washington Post."

Dana, good evening.


Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: The headlines and the lead stories of two of the three network broadcast newscasts tonight about Lugar were simply "tipping point" and "turning point." Is this that?

MILBANK: Well, I mean, we've had enough tipping points here, I think, to sink an aircraft carrier already, and nothing seems to actually change. So I'm skeptical that this one would as well. But each one of these is building. When the House Republican moderates came to the White House and demanded action, Chuck Hagel, John Warner - we're seeing a lot of these gradual defections peeling off.

Now, you know, if Lugar were more influential, he could bring more senators with him. But those who remember the 1996 Lugar presidential campaign know that he doesn't necessarily carry a lot of votes with him. But it's clearly one more step towards that timeline that's looking like September for some real action.

OLBERMANN: Tony Snow's other notable response today in the press briefing room was, this was just Dick Lugar repeating a position. Well, the position he was, in large respect, repeating was the Democrats' position. They can't really be arguing at the White House that Lugar's response, that Voinovich's response today, is business as usual?

MILBANK: No, I think poor Tony's in danger of joining the vice president somewhere outside of the executive branch, perhaps outer space. At the moment, in fact, Snow said that Lugar had voted against the surge. Now, he's entitled to his opinions, but not to his facts. In fact, Lugar voted in support of the surge. And the fact that he is being invited to the White House, as you mentioned, for this meeting means the White House is taking this very seriously.

Now, that said, Lugar was very clear in his speech to say that there has to be some sort of bipartisan agreement with the president here. So he's not going to go off running away against the White House on his own. He's looking for to build some sort of a middle path.

OLBERMANN: So what do the Democrats do with this, and also with the prospect of this middle path? I mean, your paper says that next month, Harry Reid's going to force votes on several antiwar proposals, cutting off money, demanding withdrawals. Do they try to draw Lugar and Voinovich and any others into their confidence? Or do they still try to go it alone?

MILBANK: They try to pick off one or two, as they have before. I don't think the Democrats are pretending at all that they're going to get the 60 votes necessary to pass this any more than they did before. They're just trying to build pressure, this one being on a defense authorization bill next month.

So that part is really symbolic. The actual effect will be behind closed doors, where people are looking to find some sort of a middle ground here, where most likely in September, people will be able to come together and say, This is enough already.

OLBERMANN: Is it conceivable, either in front of those closed doors or behind them, that the Democrats might now have to stop playing this relatively cautiously, that if a few Republicans are saying, This isn't working, given the pack mentality of all politicians, but particularly ones who are facing elections next year, those who are, that maybe the Democrats need to act before some of the Republicans, at least, get to steal the march, in terms of leading this antiwar movement?

MILBANK: Well, I think the notion of the Republicans leading the antiwar movement would happen at about the same time you take over hosting "The O'Reilly Factor." However...

OLBERMANN: It's part of my plan. I want to be broadcast in stereo.

MILBANK: Right, we're going to see both of these in September.

But, no, the - it's just, it's just not going to happen. We're talking about six or seven Republicans right now out there in opposition, out of nearly 50 of them in the Senate. So there's certainly no danger of that, but what seems to be coalescing is perhaps less of this conflict and more of the pressure on the White House to actually concede a little bit and create this middle ground.

OLBERMANN: Dana Milbank of MSNBC and "The Washington Post." Great thanks for joining us here on the Countdown Factor.

MILBANK: Thanks.

OLBERMANN: And, of course, the other great political story of the day, the liberation of Paris, and her tearful reunion with her clothes, reenacted for us right here by a cast of talented guinea pigs in fancy hats. I'm sorry, this is the Festival of the Qui (ph) in Peru. I kind of like the other explanation better. Whatever it is, it's next on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: On this date in 1483, the British Houses of Parliament asked the duke of Gloucester to become the nation's monarch, and thus did Richard of York become the infamous King Richard III. You know, had his nephews, the rightful heirs to the crown, murdered, died on the battlefield crying, "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!" and had a hump and a limp, and he looked a lot like Vincent Price on a really bad hair day?

Only history has been very unkind to Richard. He probably didn't kill the princes. They were probably killed on the instructions of the guy who eventually killed Richard. And there's no evidence he had any physical deformity. And he looked less like Vincent Price and a little bit like Tony Snow.

Anyway, let's play Oddball.

We begin in Peru, where dozens of cute little guinea pigs have taken time out from their busy schedules running around on track wheels and eating their young to take part in the big annual Festival of the Qui. The furry little guys are usually on the menu in this country, but for one day, they were on the catwalk, the catwalk, all dolled up in traditional outfits for the big costume contest. And it looks like we've got co-winners this year, meaning there will be two places of honor at the awards banquet table tonight. I'm sorry, on the banquet table tonight.

to Indianapolis, Indiana, the rock-and-roll capital of America. Not really, but it is the place where Elvis Presley performed his last concert, unless you count the one in Syracuse I did a radio commercial for, only he died, and the bastards never paid me. Anyway, this is why we have this huge celebration in Indy today, to unveil the world's largest blue suede shoe.

There it is, behold. Almost five people showed about to the big event. The crowd, mighty roar went up from the crowd. Nearly five showed up for this big event, held in the vacant lot that used to be the Market Square Arena. No one on hand seemed to be (INAUDIBLE) asking the obvious question, Do we really think that song was about a sneaker?

The Billo slump takes on a convention full of newspaper columnists and get smoked, takes on a 16-year-old guest, who then beats him up by reading from "The O'Reilly Factor for Kids."

And there's breaking Rose O'Donnell news, apparently.

Also, no cruising for Tom in Germany. When the Germans won't let you make a movie honoring the officer who tried to assassinate Hitler, you are not popular.

These stories ahead, but first Countdown's top three news makers of this day. Number three, residents of Louisville, Kentucky, where the forecast calls for hot, humid, with a chance of falling cash registers. A local policeman patrolling Interstate 64 was shocked to see a cash register fall from the sky and land right in front of his squad car. It had been stolen from a beauty supply store earlier in the evening and thrown off an overpass. Nobody was hurt.

Number two, officer Erwin Buenceso - excuse me Erwin - of the police department of Manila in the Philippines. We're big in Manila. He reports that he and a fellow officer chased a robbery suspect on foot for about 500 yards when the man suddenly stopped and signaled to them for a time out. He will get his time out in the big house.

Number one, whoever or whatever did this in Holland at a farm. I have heard of crop circles. This looks like some sort of crop maze or the crop version of your intestines. Who caused it? Aliens? Mel Gibson? Nope, just a drug dealer all coked up and trying to escape the police in his father's car.


OLBERMANN: Some are born nuts; some achieve nuttiness; and some have nutitude thrust upon them. In our third story on the Countdown, just as it is impossible to say if the increased gurgling at your local neighborhood volcano means it's about to blow Mount Saint Helen style or if it's just going to keep on gurgling indefinitely, so is it impossible to predict whether the increased gurgling in your local neighborhood Bill O'Reilly means it is about to go fully around the bend Joe McCarthy style, or if it's just going to keep gurgling along indefinitely?

But, there has been a lot of gurgling over in Bill-O land. In the last 11 days alone, O-Reilly has attempted to attack a convention of newspaper columnists, and gotten his head handed to him for his troubles. He has attacked a 16-year-old interviewee, calling him a pinhead on the air. And, of course, he attempted to enter a Major League Baseball team clubhouse before a game, even though he did not have the correct media credentials.

By the way, baseball sources have now advanced that story, saying Bill-O apparently knew he didn't have the correct media credentials and tried to go in anyway.

Let's start with the fight though he picked with a 16-year-old boy. The segment concerned the Earth shaking fact that Colorado's Boulder high school had guest speakers who discussed sex and drugs. Sixteen year old Jesse Lang defended the event as useful and informative, but committed the cardinal sin of correcting Bill-O on air about a statement at the event that supposedly condoned student drug use.

In the Bill-O's defense, there was no way he could have known the kid would bring a transcript. But Lang was not done. After establishing that the line was not about students at all, he helpfully explained that it was a joke. Wait until you see the analogy he used to try to help Bill-O try to understand that.


JESSE LANG, ARGUED WITH BILL O'REILLY: I think it was ironic that you would point out condoning drug use, when in your own book, "The O'Reilly Factor For Kids," you liken a high school students - a model student, quote, unquote, toking on Saturday nights to a brain surgeon enjoying a Martini while not on call.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You took it totally out of context.

Look, I know what you pinheads -


LANG: It's on page 67.

O'REILLY: I never encourage anyone to take drugs in "O'Reilly Factor For Kids."

LANG: And they never encouraged us to take drugs either.

O'REILLY: And it is a very anti-drug book. And this is totally dishonest and don't get into doing this. My book is totally anti-drug. It's totally anti-drug. And this guy, Becker was basically telling you guys that pot is OK, ecstasy is OK. And you are smart enough to know that.

We disagree with Jesse, but we respect the fact that he comes on and gives us his point of view. Jesse, you ought to read the "O'Reilly Factor For Kids" though, it would be very good for you to do that.

LANG: I have read it, Bill.


OLBERMANN: Lang tells "Radar Magazine's" website that before the interview Bill-O had told him not to quote from "The O'Reilly Factor For Kids," but he did anyway. Afterwards, he said Bill-O didn't say anything to me when the segment ended. He just had his producers cut off my feed.

He also says that since he deflated the big giant head, he has gotten letters from college professors asking him to consider their schools whenever it is application time. Young Mr. Lang might also be soon reading a few newspaper columns about himself.

Mr. O'Reilly was somehow chosen as the keynote speaker of the 34th Convention of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists over the weekend in Philadelphia. There were a 135 - where he told those 135 columnists that most Americans are conservatives, so, quote, that audience is estranged from most newspapers. They hate you. They hate you.

"Pittsburgh Post Gazette" columnist Tony Norman then asked Bill-O to list any conservative type newspapers that the conservative readers who hate all those liberal newspapers do love and read and buy and support. O'Reilly could not think of a single one.

The fun continued when Mr. O'Reilly suggested that the columnists did not love their country. Judy Epstein, who writes the no doubt controversial, secularly progressive column "A Look On the Light Side," got to her feet to contest Bill-O's claim of a non-patriotism. In the true spirit of American freedom, he told her to, quote, sit down and shut up. And added, madam, I didn't come here to be insulted by you.

By now, Bill-O was probably wondering why he did go there. The official booklet of the conference featured selected submissions from the columnists in attendance. The one from Mike Leonard of "The Bloomington Herald Times" of Indiana happened to be about the Indiana University study, which found that during his yacking points memo segment, O'Reilly insults someone every seven seconds.

Bill-O asked if Mike Leonard in the audience. And writes, Leonard does, that he promptly identified himself. Sorry, Mike, Bill-O bellowed, but you are a dishonest guy in this column. Leonard replied, right back at you Bill. And then there followed the climax of these strange 11 days in the strange career and even stranger life of Bill O'Reilly. The fight with the ball club, which he lost, the fight with the 16 year-old guest, which he lost, and the fight with the colonists, which he lost.

O'Reilly insisted that he knew that the Indiana University study of his propaganda and smear tactics was flawed because, he told the columnist, Fixed News - I'm sorry, Fox Noise has a research department, which carefully analyzes all information for and about Fox noise. And when it got the university study, these Fox employed analysts rejected it for faulty methodology.

And the name of this Fox research facility, this bastion of learning and analysis? According to Bill-O, it is the brain room. Well, you've probably been wondering where people who work for Bill O'Reilly leave theirs when they come into office, and now you know. Check it in the brain room.

The German government gave it a lot of thought and then told Tom Cruise he could not make his movie there. And what he calls a religion, they call a cult.

And from Berlin to Paris. It is not a fashion runway! It's not a fashion runway. The Hilton story next on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: An extreme case of religious controversy gets Tom Cruise barred from filming in Germany. Our number two story in the Countdown, you might even call this Zenu-phobia. Germany is so anti-Scientology, it refuses to allow it to be called a religion there and monitors the movement to make sure it's not subverting the German democracy. Politicians even called on the populace to boycott the movie "Mission Impossible" simply because it starred Tom Cruise.

So now that the scientologist in chief has been hired to play one of the few Germans from World War II whom the country still celebrates, Germany is in an uproar. He is about to star in a new movie about the 1944 effort to assassinate Adolf Hitler, playing the leader of the plot, Colonel Claus Von Stauffenberg.

Even though the German government has a strong interest in making sure the movie is as accurate as possible, it cannot stomach the idea of having a scientologist in its midst. The German Defense minister announcing that film makers, quote, will not be allowed to film at German military sites if Count Stauffenberg is played by Tom Cruise, who has publicly professed to be a member of the Scientology cult.

And the German government is not the only ones steamed at the casting of Cruise. Colonel Von Stauffenberg's son wants the actor to, quote, keep his hands off my father. Telling a newspaper, I'm not saying that Cruise is a bad actor. I cannot judge that. But in any case, I fear that it would turn into horrible kotsch. Adding, it is sure to be crap. Of course, I could be wrong. I would like to be.

Ironically, the number one fan of Tom Cruise topping our nightly round of celebrity and entertainment news, Keeping Tabs. Rosie O'Donnell, what could possibly be next for her if "The Price Is Right," perhaps? She will not be packing up and moving across the country for a game show, so how about the O'Donnell Factor?

On the question and answer part of her blog today, the title Ask Ro, one fan wrote of O'Donnell hosting what the viewer called her, quote, dream show on MSNBC, unquote. Quote, the show for people who need to know the truth. Any change my dream could come true?

To which Rosie O'Donnell answered, quote, it is my dream too. A second question was asked about the prospect of a political O'Donnell show and she replied, quote, ha, that would be good.

Last Friday, O'Donnell let everyone know, through her blog once again, that even though she had a nice meeting with "The Price is Right" producers, and even though replacing Bob Barker was a dream job, she did not want to uproot her family and move west.

A Keeping Tabs programming note: my radio partner, Dan Patrick, you know, of the "Dan Patrick Show" on ESPN radio, starring Dan Patrick? He and I will be on the "Late Night With David Letterman" program tomorrow night. Don't blow Dave off just yet. Claire Daines will be on too.

From Lynwood, California, the flash apparently official, Paris Hilton was released officially at 12:15 A.M. Pacific daylight time, 3:14 O'clock Eastern daylight time, some 17 and a half hours ago. Let's next, but first time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for Worst Person in the World.

The bronze to Brian Maritz (ph) of the Maritz Embroidery Works in Coolbau (ph) Township in Pennsylvania. He got the contract to make American flag patches for U.S. troops, three million of them. He had them made in Thailand. That's more than offensive. It's illegal. The Buy American Act demands that the military buys its clothing in America. The military says that Mr. Moritz lied to them.

Our silver tonight, Pat Robertson. Remember when he said it might not be a bad idea to assassinate Venezuela's Hugo Chavez? Then he apologized and said it wasn't right to call for an assassination of a political figure? Well yes, that lasted. We have begun to see the kind of person he is, Robertson said on air yesterday. And more and more people are saying to me, I think you were right.

But our winner, Coultergeist. Did it again. Tried to link Senator Barack Obama to terrorism or Iraq or something. I do think anyone named B. Hussein Obama should avoid using hijack and religion in the same sentence. You know, she was on Hardball tonight. We put her on a seven second delay, which is a drop in the bucket, because politically she is already on a seventh century delay. Coultergeist, today's Worst Person in the World.


OLBERMANN: Independence Day will not be moved up by eight days. The French will not reschedule Bastille Day. But Paris Hilton is herself, at last, free. And not since allied tanks passed through the Arc de Triumph after the actual liberation of the other Paris in August 1944 have so many gas guzzling vehicles marked one single occasion. Our number one story on the Countdown, it was inevitable. You knew we had to get here eventually. Paris, pokey no more.

Hilton checked out of the Century Regional Detention Facility approximately 15 minutes after midnight local time, strutting out of jail as if emerging from a fabulous spa, and right on to the cat walk. Even though she had reportedly changed clothes in the public restroom of the jail before coming out to face the paparazzi. Miss Hilton joyfully joined her parents in their waiting SUVs, was then trailed by other SUVs and helicopters, until ultimately, at the home of her grand parents, where she was reunited with her Tinkerbell.

Well, it's either Tinkerbell or one of L.A.'s very large rats. I once saw one the size of a gopher going across Beverly Boulevard. she did - we believe that she did aim a little higher for her post jail meal however. To a wrap up of our breathless liberation coverage.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are getting word that Paris Hilton will be released. We were hearing just after midnight. This is an aerial view of the jail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now it's a crush of cameras. They have been here for hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is the door where we anticipate she will walk outside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is the door. It is propped open. Here comes an L.A. Country Sheriff's Deputy there. No one interesting behind him.

You are looking at the legs and feet of some L.A. County sheriffs deputy standing inside the facility.

There she is, folks. Paris Hilton no longer in her orange jump suit. Hair is up, her hands together. Looks like she's wearing - big smile on her face as well. You can see how happy she is to be released. People cheering her. Moving towards the SUV. Doesn't look like she's going to talk to anybody. Shaking a few hands. It's almost like watching a diplomat of some sort. But no, this is Paris Hilton.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looked like a runway walk, just like a model flashing new duds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost looking like she's doing a cat walk down a runway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really was almost like she was walking a runway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was strutting down this main walkway like it was like a red carpet. She was flashing everybody. She looked really thin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She looks skinnier?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, she appears to have lost a few pounds in jail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She went in at 115 pounds. We didn't know she was that thin. She came out at 105 pounds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could the Lynwood Diet Book be far behind?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now the question is where is she going to go next?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, here they come. They are all running up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her caravan was met at each intersection by fans and swarming paparazzi.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paris Hilton arriving back at her grandparent's house very early this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have some video, which shows the black SUV arriving here at the Hilton compound.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who knows why she chose to come here. We do not know how long she will stay at her parents house. But one indication is that we know that she moved her beloved Tinkerbell, the Chihuahua puppy, here to her parent's house. We did see some video, come aerial shots of her greeting her dog.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The reunion of Tinkerbell and Hilton.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a touching moment, Chris. It really is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With regard to visitors to the Hilton mansion just behind me, a couple of minutes ago we did have a black van pull up and on the outside of it, it was called the Dream Catchers World's Best Hair Extensions. And the woman behind the wheel told us that she is here to give Paris Hilton some new hair extensions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just doesn't seem to end, Monica. I am not sure if this is the end of it. There was some reporting that she wanted get some Taco Bell. We're going to hear about what her first meal was outside of jail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now she's going to face her real punishment, which is an hour with Larry King.



OLBERMANN: Joining us now, the next to last voice you heard, the columnist of "The Village Voice," Michael Musto. Michael, good evening.

MICHAEL MUSTO, "THE VILLAGE VOICE": I'm honored to be part of that montage. Hi Keith.

OLBERMANN: We are all honored to be part of this story. Are you full of gratitude or relief or both that Paris is finally free.

MUSTO: I am horrified. My career is over. I am the world's most esteemed expert on Paris in jail, as you know. Now it's kaput. But as Dr. Martin Luther King said, Free at last. Hallelujah. Thank god almighty.

Of course, he also said Bimbos belong behind bars. So, I don't know.

OLBERMANN: Do you expect her to come after you?

MUSTO: Hopefully not driving. I hope she gets Lindsey Grubbard (ph) to drive. Even that would be safer.

OLBERMANN: Lord. Granted, she was in there just a little over three weeks. But she looked pretty good when she came out. Is she on to something here? Is jail the new R and R or rehab for the discerning billionaire hotel heiress?

MUSTO: It is fabulous for everyone. It's better than Promises Rehab Center. Stars are lining up now to say that they did it just to get the R and R. O.J. is like forget if I did it. I did it. Even Phil Specter is saying he did it, not that he needs the beauty rest, mind you.

OLBERMANN: I thought that might have been Phil Specter who she picked up off the ground and hugged, but it turned out to be the dog. Probation continues through March, 2009. She can shorten that by a year doing some community service work. Do we think she could have learned her lesson. Did jail change her say the way it did in South Africa, the way it changed Gandhi?

MUSTO: Gosh, I hope not. My biggest fear is her doing good things. That would be like Heidi Fleiss opening a soup kitchen, or opening her legs for free sex. But I suspect only Paris' underwear has changed. In fact, as I mentioned, I think she did drive herself home from jail to her grandmothers house and 17 people and a squirrel were killed. That did not even get reported.

OLBERMANN: Just before the release, the lawyer for Paris Hilton gave this note to the managing editor of TMZ.com, our friend Harvey Levin, in which Miss Hilton thanked Harvey for his website's fair and unbiased reporting. She even dotted the I's with little hearts. Is she buttering him up in preparation for her next scrape with the law or what?

MUSTO: No, she totally meant it. In fact, I got a note too, which said, Dear Weasel, I let you in my house, and even got you on my show, what do you call it? "The Simple Life" and you come at me with not hot remarks. Eat cocky doody. The eyes are dotted with Swastikas. She means it.

OLBERMANN: Cocky doody. How about the artistry of the detail of the cartoon that we saw. Not the one that you have, but the one we saw at Harvey Levin. If she needs a career or a hobby, should she explore that a little further?

MUSTO: It is generous, the attention to detail, the way the pay phone says pay phone. I'm surprised the air head doesn't say air head. I like the way she gave herself kind of keen eyes, you know, those bean paintings. The whole thing should be on velvet. It's a beautiful thing.

OLBERMANN: Boy, what you could get for that on eBay. TMZ also reported she has been offered a million to teach a one hour class to budding entrepreneurs at the Learning Annex. I am almost afraid to ask this. What would the course be in, Michael?

MUSTO: First of all, I did the Learning Annex a few years ago. True story. You pay five cents and it took me three freaking hours to get the five cents. It was me, A.J. Benza and Jeanette Walls. Don't get me started. Anyway, what could she teach?

I guess those who can't teach so she could teach a course on how to radiate a halo and genital herpes at the same time. But I like her.

OLBERMANN: Oh my. We've got A.J. Benza and Jeanette Walls mentioned in the same - OK, great. Lastly, I guess I buried the lead. There were these reports that she was - and we heard them there - craving Taco Bell for a first meal. OK, I'm just throwing it at you. Just turn on it and hit it out of the ballpark.

MUSTO: Hopefully, she's not going to eat the Chihuahua, though I hear she is cruel to those kinds of creatures, Tinkerbell namely. Not Phil Specter. What she doesn't know is, the dummy, they were serving Taco Bell in prison. That's what you get there. But I guess she likes the fancy ambience of the actual restaurant.

OLBERMANN: The one and only Michael Musto, as always great thanks Michael. That is Countdown for this the 1,518th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.