Monday, October 29, 2007

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

Guests: Richard Wolffe, Eugene Robinson, Richard Justice, Bob Kiviat

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Good evening. In just 77 days the first votes will be cast in the 2008 democratic presidential primaries. Oops. Make that 66. Iowa just moved up its caucus to January 3. In our fifth story on the Countdown, that means Senator Barack Obama will have to cram 11 days worth of getting top run Hillary Clinton into a few short hours, in case you have not noticed, Senator Clinton, now widely seen as the candidate to beat among the Dems. Senator Obama taking another stab at trying to change that perception, the junior senator from Illinois telling the "New York Times" that he would start confronting the junior senator from New York more forcefully and more directly. Many of his supporters, his aides and his donors long struggling with the notion that he's not exhibited the kind of aggressiveness required of a presidential candidate, the politics of hope being just a little too audacious. Mr. Obama not so much attacking the front-runner in this afternoon's MTV Myspace forum in Iowa as saying it would be premature to discuss each other as prospective running mates.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In terms of Senator Clinton and myself - it's way too early because we don't know yet who's going to be the nominee. And it would be, I think, a mistake for me to say, you know, this is the person that I would like to be my Vice president. I will say I'm not running for vice president and so I don't have intentions of being on the ticket as a vice presidential candidate.


OLBERMANN: Senator Obama finding himself with a running mate of a different kind. At a gospel concert sponsored by his campaign in Columbia, South Carolina last night, Reverend Donnie McClurkin, instead of stumping for Obama, ended up by defending himself against past statements he himself had made claiming to have been cured of homosexuality. Reverend McClurkin star turn having drawn public criticism from gay activists who have wanted Mr. Obama to cancel his appearance. South Carolina native John Edwards, with a campaign problem of a different kind - how to resonate as the third place candidate now trying to find a new way to attack Hillary Clinton, in New Hampshire this afternoon, Senator Edwards going after Mrs. Clinton for her ties to lobbyists, painting her an insider that voters should reject.



the middle class takes a major detour, right through the deep canyon of

corporate lobbyists and the hidden bidding of K Street in Washington. And

history tells us that when that bus stops there is the middle class, it

loses. And today, Senator Clinton has taken more money from Washington

lobbyists than any candidate from either party, more money than any

Republican candidate


OLBERMANN: Of course, when it comes to the presumed front-runner of the 2008 run to the White House, there is the one thing we've not heard from yet, actual voters. They, it seems, are still undecided according to University of Iowa Hawkeye poll released in the morning. It showed Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama in a statistical dead heat among that state's likely caucus-goers at 28.9 and 26.6 percent respectively, with a 5 ½ percent margin of error, Edwards trailing with 20 percent. Among Republicans, Governor Mitt Romney with commanding lead 36.2 percent in Iowa, the surprise Governor Mike Huckabee up from just 2 percent in the August Iowa poll to nearly 13 percent now, putting him in a statistical tie for second with Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson. And now to call our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine. Richard, good evening.


OLBERMANN: Haven't we heard from Senator Obama - and we'll start with him - prior to this that we would begin seeing him draw sharper contrast between his views and those of Senator Clinton's? Does this not become a double-edged sword? I'm going to be tougher than I've been, even though I told you that was tough? I mean, is there a candidate who cried tough quality to this?

WOLFFE: Well, you know, Keith, he's been so tough he accuses Hillary Clinton of obfuscating. A candidate who uses the word obfuscate in a "New York Times" interview isn't really being that tough. And actually, he didn't say - Clinton was obfuscating. He just said that voters would prefer someone who behaved a bit better. Although, he obviously finds attack politics difficult, and maybe that's a good thing for the voters of Iowa or for politics, in general and to be fair to him, he has been drawing sharp distinctions in some of his speeches. What's different now is that he's signaling it, and that itself can pose certain dangers because if you are going to say you are going to draw distinctions, you better deliver.

OLBERMANN: How important in terms of drawing distinctions is the debate on MSNBC tomorrow for Senator Obama? Does he need to hit a solid a blow as he did on the speed bag on the "Ellen DeGeneres Show" this morning?

WOLFFE: He needs to be as good as that, he needs to be as good as he was on "Leno" when he said when you know when he was asked if was he discouraged by being behind. He said that Hillary Clinton was not the first politician in Washington to declare mission accomplished a little too early. That's the kind of zinger he has to land. He can do it if he thinks of himself as being not too far above the sound bite. And I think that's been his problem. He sees himself as an intellectual. He doesn't like these debates, but it's TV, and TV talks when it comes to campaigns.

OLBERMANN: And what about when events necessitate some sort of comment? This gospel event and the preacher and singer, Reverend Donnie McClurkin who headlined this gospel concert for the Obama campaign declaring that God had delivered him from homosexuality. Will that have an impact on the Democratic Party's strong gay and lesbian support and vote and almost base, if you will? And does Obama have to have a stronger response to it than to say, well, I disagree strongly with what Reverend McClurkin said, but you know I didn't dismiss my association with him as part of my campaign?

WOLFFE: Well, he's tied himself in knots here with this. And I was talking to some of his campaign folks over the weekend and none of them are happy about this. However, he has waded into the subject before, he's gone to African-American churches and told them to stop preaching against homosexuality. He even led a Tavis Smiley debate used the word homophobia. No other candidate would be crazy enough to bring up those subjects. He does it and he should get some credit for that. The question is why doesn't he speak up now, more aggressively, more vigorously than he has? And the truth is - that two parts of the Democratic Party - these two important bases of African-American churches and gay rights groups are miles and miles apart. And look, if he thinks he can unite those two parts of the party, then maybe he can unite a country. But it doesn't look like he's done that so far.

OLBERMANN: Senator Edwards with a 20-point registration there on that latest Iowa poll and he has not been at all shy in criticizing, attacking Senator Clinton directly. He did it again today with the charges of being part of a corrupt Washington system. But if it has not seemed to truly resonate for him, why would it be of any value to Obama?

WOLFFE: You know, it's a tough one for John Edwards. He made his name in Iowa, three-four years ago by campaigning with a very positive message. Squaring that with a sharper, more aggressive tone now is very hard for him. It hasn't been great for him, but it's still a three-way race in Iowa and he's still very much alive.

OLBERMANN: Our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine, as always Richard, great thanks, have a good night.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: On the other side of the fence, while most Republican candidates are trying to delicately or not so delicately distance themselves from the current occupants of the White House, one in particular is beginning to show a remarkable affinity with them. The front-runner Rudy Giuliani not only does he oppose pulling out of Iraq and favor the possibility of military force against Iran but he also advocates government eavesdropping and the things like water boarding is not necessarily torture because quote, "It depends on who does it." The former director of the FBI, current Giuliani adviser Louis Freeh saying when it comes to foreign issues Giuliani and Bush are "very much joined at the hip on these policies and particularly the mind-set and commitment of both the President and Mayor Giuliani to stay on offense."

So-called Homeland Security isn't the only thing Rudy Giuliani has in common with the current administration. As the historian, David Greenberg pointed out in the "Washington Post," much like the White House, Giuliani, too, favors secrecy, he put he put control of his mayoral record into his own company. He also shares Dick Cheney's proclivity for executive power directing the NYPD to hold the cars of suspected drunk drivers in perpetuity even if the suspect was later acquitted and famously try to extend his tenure as the mayor of New York after 9/11 not merely in violation of term limits but in violation of legal expiration date of his term.

Joining us now, columnist and associate editor of the "Washington Post" - Eugene Robinson. Gene, good evening.


OLBERMANN: The piece in your paper yesterday, did that kind of reset the lighting on Rudy Giuliani? Have critics and maybe even the media missed the point about what's working for him with the Republicans, that it's not in spite of his social stances, but because of this authoritarianism streak that's strong enough that Bush would eavesdrop, he would eavesdrop more, Bush would torture, he would torture more?

ROBINSON: Right. It's amazing. I mean, he has done remarkably well to this point in terms of his front-runner status by presenting himself as the candidate who will keep you safe. You know, vote for me or the terrorists will come and kill all your children. That's the, you know, and just let me take care of it and, you know, I'll do whatever I have to do to them, basically, or to the Constitution. It's - when he starts associating himself, however, by name with George W. Bush, I think politically, he runs into a problem. I mean, we all know what the president's approval ratings are like these days and I think, you know, just in strict kind of Machiavellian political terms he does better on message but without the association with the current administration, which can't help but lose him votes. This kind of authoritarian streak in the way - in his nature, because I think that's where it is, I think that's the kind of guy he is - is really only beginning to emerge or beginning to be focused on. People in New York knew about it all along. Maybe the rest of the country will see more of this as the campaign goes on and he seems to have very slight regard for niceties of Constitutional law or checks and balances or any of that nonsense and just do what you need to do.

OLBERMANN: And to what degree have we estimated - underestimated, that's what I mean to say the percentage of people in this country to whom that's an appealing thing? Who may not have grown up thinking the way you and I did, that freedom was for, you know, everybody here, that the marketplace of ideas would settle nearly everything? Are we missing with Giuliani that there are millions of Americans who may just think component parts here but ultimately, if they say it or not, are thinking a president needs to limit freedoms to just some of us and we really need somebody who can tamp down on the out of control parts of society and all these other euphemisms and you know even to the degree it's better to put a lot of innocent men in jail than let one guilty one escape, to turn what is supposedly the maximum of our judicial system on its head.

ROBINSON: You know, I think it depends on how you ask the question and when you ask the question. If you poll Americans and say, do you like freedom? Of course, everybody is going to say, of course, I like freedom and individual rights and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights although I don't think I'd like to put the Bill of Rights you know, up for popular referendum these days. I'm not sure it would all get through but basically, of course, Americans like freedom and freedom you know from oppressive government but there's a lot of fear up there. There are a lot of people who are still nervous - you know, 9/11 was traumatic and Giuliani has a way of, you know, getting 9/11 into every other sentence. Remember when he took the cell phone call from his wife in the middle of the speech, he managed to work 9/11 into that and, you know, it creates a response and people are you know, are nervous and thus, more likely, I think, to accept trading a bit of liberty for a bit of security. Of course, Benjamin Franklin said he would do that ends up with neither but these are times when people are kind of scared.

OBERMANN: But would they - if you polled them and asked them, would you vote for a candidate for any office who thought it would be a good idea to extend his term by a couple of months even after an election had already elected his successor, what would the answer - would we still get something like 75/25 against on that?

ROBINSON: I think we still get 75/25 against on that. That's outrageous and I think we can safely say the American people still believe that when a public official's term is up - he or she really should leave office and not kind of barricade himself or herself inside.

OLBERMANN: I was down the block here six years ago and that in fact, was not Mayor Giuliani's position at the time. And it got surprisingly strong support under the circumstances in any of that. Eugene Robinson of the "Washington Post," as always, great thanks for your time.

ROBINSON: Good to be here.

OLBERMANN: I wonder what Mr. Giuliani thinks of this - a guy really screws up in the Bush administration tries to deceive the media and the public and instead of the deserved promotion and that national medal of honor, he gets fired?

And you can't fire me, I quit for more money. Alex Rodriguez out in New York amid rumors he already has a new nine-figure contract in place elsewhere. You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Traditionally the lame duck period of a presidency is marked by slackening standards, no longer vigorously upholding the values of the president, cronyism and nepotism rise. Scholars have wondered how this phenomenon might manifest itself in the current administration which is noted for having started off with low standards anyway. Our fourth story tonight, mystery solved as Mr. Bush focuses on post-presidential matters such as replenishing his coffers, a previously an unwelcome guest has snuck into the halls of his administration - quality control. This is what happened last Tuesday, FEMA as you know, faked a news conference about the California wildfires. No reporters, just FEMA staff posing FEMA questions to their FEMA boss. On Saturday, Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff, who oversees FEMA said these impressions will not stand, man.


MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I can't explain the fact that it was one of the dumbest and most (AUDIO BREAK) things I've seen since I've been in government. I have made unambiguously clear that nothing like this - first of all, I obviously didn't know it was going to happen. Second I made it unambiguously clear in Anglo-Saxon prose that it's not to ever happen again.


OLBERMANN: Today, Pat Philbin, one of the FEMA PR people who posed as reporter showed up for his new job - head of PR for director of national intelligence - Mike McConnell. That's when things went into bizarro world. McConnell reviewed Philbin's record and instead of swearing him in, showed him out. I just repeat that - we're told that a high ranking member of the Bush administration reviewed someone's record, found him lacking and then severed ties with him. In an event that some long prophesied as the first horseman of the apocalypse. Bringing the scholar of end of times, MSNBC political analyst, Lawrence O'Donnell, also a contributor to the Thanks for your time tonight, sir.


OLBERMANN: Even the White House, which in its heyday secretly bribed journalists for their praise, publicly criticized this bogus news conference from FEMA. Where has it gone all so horribly wrong for the Bush doctrine of preemptive stupidity?

O'DONNELL: This is a day like no other in my life, Keith. As a Bostonian, you know I'm already reeling from the Boston Red Sox winning another World Series and then I get hit with they won it in four games? That's - those are two things that are already too difficult to process. Now, this on top of the Red Sox? Now, I know I get paid for this but my analytical ability here is officially completely flummoxed. I have never seen anything like this in the Bush administration. I find myself in hearty agreement with Michael Chertoff - this is the dumbest thing I've seen in government, one of the dumbest, certainly. And hidden in this story, Keith is your candidate for Countdown's annual one honest man award, the one that I suggest this show give to that Bush administration official who says something obviously true no matter under how much pressure and that is Russ Knock (ph) who was Homeland Security overseeing this, he said that this was totally unacceptable when he discovered it. He says, "While it is an isolated incident, that does not make it any more tolerable." Where did he get ideas like that to throw around publicly? You know what his job is now? He has now replaced Pat Philbin at FEMA, someone who found that press conference totally unacceptable now has the job of making sure that never happens again. That's kind of the way you do this in a sane society.

OLBERMANN: I think I figured it out just as you were saying what happened with the housing market suddenly, abruptly coming to a halt, a lot of these guys bought in Washington and are terrified that they're going to be stuck with homes after January 2009 and thinking maybe I can get some sort of Civil Service carry-over if there's a Democratic administration or even an honest Republican one. But there is one light at the end of the tunnel or tunnel at the end of the light in this case - This slip on quality control in hiring, Mr. Chertoff does still seem committed to the Bush love of secrecy. He invited one TV outlet - one TV outlet the one from the Associated Press to his news conference while he's promised these repercussions for the lack of transparency, he's refused to say what they will be. So there's still a little life in the old boy, huh?

O'DONNELL: They actually did apparently send out letters of reprimand for the people who were involved. Those letters go in your file as a federal employee and you know, they're not good things to have in your file. It's a real reaction. It seems like a proportionate reaction to the problem, it doesn't seem like some kind of overkill and it doesn't seem like an under-reaction and it does seem like - just like baseball does in Boston, a whole new ball game. It's a - these people are - seem to be interested in trying to play politics in governing at the Major League level, at least, at least as it comes to the protocols for FEMA press conferences.

OLBERMANN: Is it possible that the Bush habit of promoting failures upward because of loyalty, is that a moot point now because most of the long-timers have moved either up or out? This is no longer relevant?

O'DONNELL: Yes. Most of the big people who get blamed for a lot of failure, George tenet, for going for the slam dunk analysis of WMD in Iraq, who, of course, got a medal on his way out the door, having been completely wrong about that. Don Rumsfeld who actually offered to resign a couple of times before Bush finally took his resignation after the 2006 election but those big ones are gone and it doesn't seem like there's a lot of other obvious ones to go to.

OLBERMANN: Well, Lawrence O'Donnell, political analyst, contributor to the Huffington Post - break up the Red Sox.

O'DONNELL: Officially flummoxed.

OLBERMANN: Break up those Red Sox. They're making the balance in baseball untenable these days. Great thanks for your time. Congratulations on your big win in the series. You did a great job.

O'DONNELL: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: What does a viewer have to do to get through a full week of television without seeing a talk show host weeping? No dog this time. Serious stuff for Oprah Winfrey.

No, this is not a preview of a new episode of "Heroes" with that cheerleader gal. This really happened. Fortunately, she, too is indestructible. Next on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Winona Ryder turned 36 today. You know what her real name is, Winona Horowitz. The Winona part; her parents got that from a town near where she was born in Minnesota. The Ryder part, she chose that out herself while talking to the director of her first movie. There was a record playing in the background by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. Mitch Ryder's real name is William S. Levise Jr. So there it is. Nobody is who they are telling you they are.

Let's play Oddball.

We begin in Auburn, Washington with a warning for cheerleaders, avoid the banner. That's what happened at the Auburn High School versus Auburn Riverside High School football game earlier this month. A thoughtful cheerleader going to pick some lint off the banner just as the team came rushing through. She's OK, just minor bruises. She even stayed and cheered throughout the game. She is, after all, NBC's own indestructible cheerleader.

To Alexeevka - let me try that in Russian - Alexeevka air field in Georgia, where Lasha Pataria just set a new record for the strongest ear. Watched by cheering family and friends, he pulled a 7,700 kilogram military chopper for 26 meters using only his left ear. He nearly collapsed afterwards. Mr. Pataria says it's just the beginning of his exploits.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was very difficult. I was very nervous. But I hope in the future, with my both ears, to move a subject twice as heavy as this one.


OLBERMANN: And he added, huh? What did you say? What? You sure Van Gogh started this way? Huh? Huh?

Finally to Shreveport, in Louisiana, for the 4-H dress up your goat day. Elmo goat, spider - that's Elmo goat. Here's spidey goat. There's reindeer goat, goats dressed as babies, hippie vans, and dogs, though they're not all happy about it, especially this little guy whose unwittingly advocating his own demise.

Two World Series wins in four years. Of course, it's also two World

Series wins in 89 years, but it would be mean to mention that. More fun

for the Red Sox tonight Alex Rodriguez is leaving the Yankees, who may have

also just hired the wrong manager. Yankee management in fact convening to

I'm sorry. This is not the right picture. Well, maybe it is.

An explanation of this ahead. First, here are Countdown's top three best persons in world. Number three, best exaggeration. Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson running a video at his campaign event extolling his record as a federal prosecutor in Tennessee, quote, attacking crime and public corruption. It turns out of the 88 criminal cases he prosecuted in three years on that job, the plurality, 27 of them, involved hill-billy moon-shiners.

Number two, best recall. Mark Taxel of Positive Promotions of Hopog (ph), New York made a bunch of red ribbon week bracelets to be given out at an Iowa School District. They're supposed to read, I've got better things to do than drugs. Except three words were printed in all upper case letter, better do drugs. Production has been halted. They have to clear out the place from the smell, the odd smell in the factory.

Number one, best nickname, Andrew Quah, a music teacher from Sydney, Australia, who has been dropped as the local candidate of the Christian Values Family First Party. There are three pornographic pictures on the Internet, supposedly all of Mr. Quah. He admits two of them are him, though he insists he must have been drunk or drugged by his political enemies while they were taken. As for the third one, Mr. Quah insists, quote, that's not my penis.

The real problem here, the nickname with which he's been stuck once these pictures came to light, parroting the same weight loss reality show we have here, Australia's smallest loser.


OLBERMANN: October 2004 may have seen the Boston Red Sox rally from the impossible, down three games to none to their hated rivals the Yankees in a best of seven playoff series, then sweeping that World Series. But this October saw the old town team rally from down three to one and then sweep the World Series, and in the middle of the final game hear the announcement that Alex Rodriguez would almost certainly be leaving the New York Yankees, followed by another report that the Yankees had hired a new manager who was fired two years ago for arguing with the team owner during a game.

Our third story on the Countdown, no wonder Rudy Giuliani was rooting for the Red Sox. In one of the most thorough spankings in series history, the Red Sox finishing off with Jonathan Papplebom (ph) striking out Seth Smith in the bottom of the ninth in Denver, outscored the Rockies 29-10 in four games. Colorado's batters struck out more than they got base hits. Their pitchers gave up an average of just under five walks and 12 hits per game.

Back in Boston, fans, their normal reserved selves, realizing somewhere in the back of their heads that as the only American league team besides the Yankees to win two titles in the last 15 years, they no longer have anything to bitch about.

And in mid-game, the agent for the likely repeat choice as Most Valuable Player of the American league, Alex Rodriguez, revealed to the media that his client would exercise a clause to opt out of the richest contract in baseball history to seek a new ad more lucrative one still. Having already offered to sweeten the deal if stayed, the Yankees had already said that if Rodriguez did that, they would not negotiate with him further. Unless things change, he's gone.

Just to round it off, the Yankees today offered their former catcher Joe Girardi their vacant managerial job. It did not go to former Yankee superstar Don Mattingly, who then quit the team. The tempestuous Yankee front office deciding it could get along with a manager who has exactly one year of experience, a year that ended with him in a public argument with the team owner on the field during a game, which led to his dismissal, even though he was voted manager of the year that year.

It's almost time for 2008. Let's turn to the sports columnist and baseball authority of the "Houston Chronicle," Richard Justice. Good evening.


OLBERMANN: First to the World Series. When did they change the rule so that it's American League versus Pacific Coast League? I mean, I know the Cardinals beat the Tigers last year, but in the other three World Series in the last four years, it hasn't just been three American league wins, it has been three American league sweeps?

JUSTICE: You mean -

OLBERMANN: Yes, three American League teams sweeping the National League teams in the last four World Series.


OLBERMANN: And only four of the 12 games were one-run games. Everybody I saw in Boston last week said any of the American League playoff teams could have man-handled the Rockies, maybe two of the non-playoff teams might have. Whatever happened to the National League?

JUSTICE: Didn't you like the Red Sox fans better when there was a lot of angst and a lot of tragedy. They got so cocky they were counting their rings before the World Series was even over. Yes, the American League has won 13 out of the last 17 games. But what you're talking about, mainly, when you talk about this imbalance is that the Red Sox and Yankees have money. They have resources. And they're smarter than everybody else too. That's a big part of it.

Look, the Cubs spend money, the Angels, the Dodgers; the Orioles spend money. But what you have in those two teams is a lot of ability to see money and put money into player development, to make moves. Look, when they need a guy, it's different. When the Red Sox needed a left-handed bat, they go and spend 40 million on J.D. Drew. They don't have to wait and get a guy out of the minor leagues and hopes he makes it. They don't have to get an aging guy.

So their margin of error is lower. But these are smart teams. You have to give them a lot of credit for understanding that building a roster is more an art than a science.

OLBERMANN: There are National League teams in major cities that get large revenues, like say the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers.


OLBERMANN: But let's talk about Alex Rodriguez for a moment, because in the city behind me here there's shock. Why is there shock? In the middle of summer after they beat the Angels in a back and forth 12-9 game, a war, he went on the Yankee TV network and the first thing he did after this game was gush about the Angels and the Angels team and the Angels ownership and the Angels manager. He's going to the Angels, right?

JUSTICE: He's probably going to the Angels or to the Dodgers. No one should be surprised about his values. The contract that he's opting out of was for 252 million dollars, not 251, not 253. The reason it's 252 is he wanted his agent - Scott Boras, who is great at what he does, wanted a contract double what any other athlete was getting at the time. At the time, Kevin Garnett was making 126 million dollars on his contract from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

At this point in his career, Alex Rodriguez, as you know, is a great player. But he will be defined by the money. I think what people - the two things that got people upset are that Yankee fans are accustomed to getting what they want. I think they thought ultimately their guys would get a deal done with Alex before he opted out of the contract.

The other part is, you know, baseball's business season begins today. There's going to be the Mitchell report on steroids. There's arbitration, all of that stuff. For him to inject himself in game four of the World Series, to bring the business side, to know that while game four of the World Series was being played, while the spotlight was on this great Red Sox team that has all these admirable qualities, he was making it about him. You know, and this is October. This is a month that he hasn't excelled in and he was injecting himself.

I'm sure he and his agent loved the idea that all these sports writers, while watching game four of the World Series, were trying to track down him and were making him the story. It sort of reflects - maybe more than sort of - reflects on his values and what certain people in the game think of him.

OLBERMANN: I think maybe it's simply this, he didn't know the season continued this late. He's never played this late night in October. So how would he know anything about it? Yes, it's mean.

Last thing, about George Steinbrenner not really being coherent all the time. And he has the history of firing managers, and his two sons have clearly inherited the bluster, but maybe not the smarts. And they just brought in Joe Girardi, who appears to be a superb manager, but doesn't take garbage from ownership. Is this - are the Yankees going to wind up hiring another new manager next July?

JUSTICE: No, the Yankees are going - well, they may end up hiring another new manager in July. But they're going to be a lot of fun. Hank Steinbrenner has shown that he has all his dad's bluster and ability to say exactly the wrong thing, to be impetuous, to be temperamental. I think it's - we're in for - if you don't like the Yankees, I think you're in for a great time.

Here's the bottom line; Hank Steinbrenner looked at Joe Torre and said this guy is the face of the franchise. He's more famous than us. He put a human face on this corporate team, and we don't like it. We want people to know we're in charge. So this is their guy, Joe Girardi. You're right, he has never been through the - We're going to understand how great Joe Torre was, that all the bluster, the tabloids, everything; he kept all that out in the hallway. He was so good.

OLBERMANN: Yes, it's going to be back to my early days of reporting.

I get to cover three managerial changes in a season. We'll find out. Richard Justice, sports columnist for the "Houston Chronicle," as always, sir, great thanks, great pleasure to talk to you.

JUSTICE: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Another day, another O.J. Simpson co-defendant takes a deal. The shadows are gathering in Las Vegas. Take a deal.

And in worsts, Bill-O goes after Tyra Banks. Watch as Tyra Banks hits him over the head with her ratings, next on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Not to get too cynical, but maybe we could just get a moratorium on daytime talk show hosts weeping. Our number two story on the Countdown, Oprah Winfrey's 40 million dollar attempt at a good deed all going wrong, turning into a sex and child abuse scandal. One of the most successful and identifiable women in the world tearfully apologizing to parents this weekend at her South African school for under-privileged girls. Winfrey suspending two matrons and the principal after allegations of fondling and physical abuse.

She told the parents, "I've disappointed you. I'm so sorry." Of the principal, she said, "I trusted her. When I appointed her, I thought she was passionate about the children of Africa. But I've been disappointed."

Under investigation, whether some of the students who Winfrey calls her daughters were sexually abused, a painful echo of her own childhood, one of the reasons she established the school in the first place. The Leadership Academy opened last January, promising under-privileged girls a safe, structured environment, maybe too structured.

Parents complained about having to apply weeks in advance to visit their kids, and rules that sometimes forbid the girls to contact their parents by phone or e-mail.

The new week of celebrity in entertainment news, but the same old story, a third O.J. Simpson co-defendant drops a dime on him. You will recall, five were arrested, along with Simpson, in Las Vegas last month. Simpson insisting none of them were armed. Trouble is, the other guys keep shooting off their mouths. Today, is was ex-security guard Michael McClinton (ph), whose attorney told reporters that Simpson asked McClinton to bring along two guns. He'll plead guilty to lesser charges, but could still get 11 years himself.

It's a big foot. It's a honey bear. It's a big-footed honey bear.

That's next. But first time for Countdown's Worst Persons in the World.

The bronze to Bill-O, goes on "Good Morning America" to blast Barack Obama for appearing on "The Tyra Banks Show" and not the O'Reilly Comedy Hour or "Good Morning America." "Look, Obama - and I told him this face to face - Tyra Banks isn't going to get you elected, OK. You got to go on The Factor. You got to go on GMA and answer the questions."

Bill, he was on GMA on August 27th. By the way, Tyra Banks' daily demo ratings are 44 percent bigger than yours.

The silver to right wing lunatic fringer David Horowitz, wrapping up his hate-fest, Islamo Fascism Awareness Week at Columbia University, said he too objected to the noose on an African American professor's door there. Quote, but I detect a somewhat of double standard at this university, in that nooses have been put figuratively on the doors of the college Republicans here who have invited me. Of course, there's always a noose over my head.

You're saying there's no difference between the real noose hanging at the black professor's office, an act of racism, and the imaginary one you see over your own head because you've been accused of being a racist? Well, there's your problem right there.

But the winner, your Department of Homeland Security. For the second time in a year, it has detained at a U.S. airport a Mr. Shaheed Malik (ph) of Great Britain. This time searched Washington Dulles for explosives. Last year he said it happened at JFK. This time he said the other two men detained with him in the interrogation room were black men with Muslim names.

Couple problems here, Mr. Malik was in our country to meet with the Department of Homeland Security. He's not just some British guy with a Muslim name. He's with the British government. You know, Mr. Bush's partners in the war on terrorists. In fact, he's the British minister for international development. He's in the cabinet. And we patted him down for explosives at Dulles, again!

Your Department of Homeland Security inspiring new anti-American terrorists since 2001, today's Worst Persons in the World!


OLBERMANN: Whether Big Foot is the living ancestor of the missing link or a perpetually recycled fraud, one thing is certain, it is even more fascinating because it is elusive. When I say fascinating, I mean moderately interesting. Nothing captures the public's imagination quite like a pseudo human with attitude, especially one that lives within two hours of Pittsburgh.

Number one story on the Countdown, Big foot, also known as Sasquatch, was in Western Pennsylvania on the 16th of September, or it might have been a baby Sasquatch, or not. Here it is, that thing in front of the tree. The infra-red photos taken by a stationary camera planted by Rick Jacobs, a hunter from Elk County, Pennsylvania, who says he was hoping to locate deer. What, and photograph them?

The exact location has not been disclosed. But it was somewhere in the Allegheny National Forest, about 155 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Actually, I thought this was a picture of the fans at a Pirates game. I'm sorry.

"I've been hunting for year," Mr. Jacobs says, "and I've never seen anything like this." The Internet is buzzing about Jacobs' creature. A representative of the Big Foot Research Organization says, quote, "my impression is that it is not a bear. It appears to be a primate-like animal. It appears to be a juvenile Sasquatch."

In fact it's a juvenile delinquent Sasquatch. But a spokesman from the Pennsylvania game commission disagrees, quitting, there's no question that it is a bear with a severe case of mange."

Meantime, nearby woodland creatures are now responding to the siting.

On that note, let's bring in the producer of "World's Greatest Hoaxes Exposed," Bob Kiviat. Good evening, Bob.


OLBERMANN: Well, here we go again. I suppose the idea that this is kind of hunched over. One picture is a little easier to make out than the other. The thing's head possibly obscured by its torso. It is hard to tell. What do you make of this?

KIVIAT: Well, you know, it's interesting, they have shot this with surveillance cameras or a surveillance camera, which is apparently what's going on a lot with phenomena these days. Surveillance cameras are captures things that are truly inexplicable. This appears to be a mystery. Right before this was shot, apparently, you see bears or a bear, at least one. So you do see something that's not a Big Foot, or something. Then you see this.

So it is truly a mystery, I think. rMD+IT_ rMDNM_I really do.

OLBERMANN: As you suggest, the camera that was planted there by the hunter also had previous taken this picture of the two baby bears. When you compare the two to the so-called Big Foot picture, your point is well taken that there is some sort of difference. We're looking at the bears. The bears have apparently glow in the dark eyes from outer space or something. Then there's this other thing.

So the basic premise of this is, if this is a stunt, the two photographs are there to create the contrast, to create the doubt in your mind. Is that the idea, if it isn't legit?

KIVIAT: Absolutely. The idea that maybe someone knew that he had set up the camera and that this was sort of a trick played on him is quite possible. But again, you're looking at a photographic anomaly. I mean, let's face it, this looks like a biped of some type. The legs look very long. It doesn't look like any bear that I've ever seen. So to call it a hoax simply because we can't explain it, I think that's not fair.

But I think time will tell. They'll analyze the photographs and time will tell what kind of image it really is.

OLBERMANN: You were with us a few years ago when Bob Heronimus (ph) admitted that he was the fellow who put on the gorilla costume to help make the Big Foot film clip from the late '60s. Do you think all Big Foot sightings are hoaxes, or are many of them mistakes, and maybe honest mistakes better than being taken advantage of by others?

KIVIAT: I think it's a combination. But everyone has to remember that in China, in the Himalayas, in other parts of the world, scientists have recovered discovered DNA, blood, hair. So sometimes there's been truly anomalous evidence associated with sightings. But a lot of the photographs, Keith, and a lot of the videos seem to be some sort of staged event.

But that doesn't mean that these particular photographs are that. I

think people have to remain a little bit open-minded so far and give this

particular camera and also the photographer who set it up a little bit of a

you know, a little room here to see what this really is.

OLBERMANN: We'll continue the investigation as time goes by because, of course, there was another sighting in New Mexico in September of another possible Big Foot. And we know only one thing that I think we can say with some certainty, that those are probably not the same Big Feet or Big Foot. He didn't travel from New Mexico to western Pennsylvania. Bob Kiviat, the producer of "World's Greatest Hoaxes Exposed," great thanks for coming in for us tonight.

KIVIAT: Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this the 1,653rd day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. From New York, I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.