'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Nov. 15
Guests: Lance Williams, Gail Greenburg, Jill Levin
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Regan and Kerik and Giuliani and FOX, day three. Giuliani's rivals lash out, an aide to the McCain campaign: It's disturbing that Rudy would think it's not something he would have to address. A Romney spokesman: If you have a nominee who is distracted by this type narrative, it cancels any advantage you would have.
New found Giuliani links to News Corp, his lobbying firm carrying water for a FOX subsidiary as late as 2005.
And the nugget inside the Regan lawsuit after 2006 "New York Post" story that she was an investor in a pot ring. A News Corp lawyer not only admitted the story was fake and defamatory, but she says, added, quote, "No one believes what they read in 'New York Post'." You should put that on the masthead.
David Shuster on the Breaking News in the verging scandal, Dana Milbank on how Giuliani's rivals are beginning to smell blood in the water.
And bring the stuffing and candied yams, the Senate majority leader kind of place session over Thanksgiving out of fear the president will ram through recess appointments. Once again, more fodder for John Dean's "Broken Government."
Broken hero: Barry Bonds indicted. The home run king charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.
Supporting the troops, the real way, by bringing them home and letting them give their kids the joyous surprise of their young lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: Dad!
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I never thought he would come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And their careers, incomes, their ability to play their fair game at their highest international level, threatened because they held up this sign at a tournament. The captain of the Contract Bridge team, the most unlikely of American political martyrs joins us, an apology they are told, is not enough. quote - "They want blood."
All that and more now on Countdown.
OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening, this is Thursday, November 15th, 355 days until the 2008 presidential election. As the full extent of the relationship between Rudolph Giuliani and the firm that owns FOX News is slowly being revealed layer by layer like a rotten onion, a long-suspected belief about a different holding in the Murdock media empire has finally been confirmed. Our fifth story on the Countdown: Day three of Judith Regan lawsuit, bringing us the best nugget yet from her filing with the court, on page 21 for those of you scoring at home, or even those of you are alone, in discussions of a brutal article about her in the "New York Post," - lawyers for News Corp admitted to Regan that the article was per se defamatory, but tried to dissuades Regan's frustration by telling her that the admitted defamatory statements did not matter, because, to quote, the attorneys, "No one believes what they read in 'New York Post'." David Shuster on the latest, Dana Milbank on the politics in just a moment.
First, Mr. Giuliani's rivals sensing blood in the water. At a very least their campaigns wanting to hear the perceived national frontrunner in the Republican race say more than to dismiss as gossip. The allegations that a senior executive at News Corp believed to be Roger Ailes, told Ms. Regan to lie to Federal investigators about her affair with Bernard Kerik in order to protect Kerik's nomination as Homeland Security secretary and far more important to protect Giuliani's dreams of becoming president.
An aide to Senator McCain telling the "New York Observer" quote, "For Rudy to go out and say this is not worthy of discussion when it directly involves him and his decision making and in the case of the Department of Homeland Security , the security of our country - it's disturbing that Rudy would think it's not something he is going to have to address."
A spokesman for Governor Mitt Romney meanwhile, already looking on how the scandal could affect the general election, quote - "Voters grow very weary of story after story after story having to do with public officials who have not adhered to higher ethical standards. If you have a nominee who is distracted by this type of narrative, you lose the ability to contrast yourself with Hillary Clinton and past Clinton administrations. It cancels out any advantage you would have."
Let's turn to our Washington correspondent David Shuster, who we again mention before in the interest of full disclosure, used to work for FOX News. David, good evening.
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC - WASHINGTON, DC: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: Yesterday we were reminded about everything that Mr. Giuliani tried to do as the mayor of New York, to get this city's principal cable company to carry FOX News Channel when it was created. A judge, an appeals panel both rebuked him after he in fact tried to put it on a city-owned station, but did Mr. Giuliani have a far more lucrative financial relationship with the News Corp long after his mayoralty was over?
SHUSTER: Yes, he did, Keith. In 2005, which should be 3 ½ years after the end of his mayoralty administration, Giuliani joined a law and lobbying firm that was called Bracewell and Patterson and was renamed Bracewell and Giuliani to reflect the new business partnership. And according to congressional lobbying disclosure records first reported today by Salon.com, Bracewell and Giuliani received $120,000 from subsidiaries of News Corp for work that very first year. Giuliani's firm apparently lobbied Congress during the rewrite of the Telecom Act and on issues including Federal regulations on violence in programming. And what's so interesting, Keith, is in the pre-Giuliani years when the firm was Bracewell and Patterson, congressional records show it did no lobbying for News Corp and apparently didn't receive any money from News Corps or its subsidiaries. Keith?
OLBERMANN: There's another link, a different kind tonight, in this chain - evidence that FOX News might be fairly assessed as playing favorites even among the candidates when it comes to video footage that allows the campaigns to use in their advertising and on their Web sites, correct?
SHUSTER: Yes, that's right. I mean, on October 21st last month FOX News carried a rather feisty Republican debate and some of the exchanges included a memorable moment for John McCain, the Arizona senator criticized pork barrel spending, he referred to a million dollars allocated to New York for a Woodstock Museum and then McCain noted that he was a P.O.W. in Vietnam during Woodstock and was, quote, "Tied up at the time." That clip brought down the house and just a couple days later McCain was featuring that debate clip in a television ad. And then FOX News lawyers sent McCain a cease and desist letter demanding he stop using video from the FOX Debate. Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani were also using the footage from the FOX News Debate and did not receive letters from FOX. And then "New York Times" was preparing a story and suddenly FOX News lawyers sent letters to everybody in the Republican field. However, as of today, guess what you can find on Rudy Giuliani's campaign Web site? Yes, there is video on Giuliani's Web site from that FOX News debate. One clip in fact, Keith, was added a week after Giuliani received the letter from FOX. And so, in other words, FOX sends Giuliani a letter, asking to take action against his political interests, Giuliani ignores FOX, and then FOX lets it go. Certainly, not fair and balanced, Keith, according to Giuliani's campaign rivals.
OLBERMANN: And the big picture, speaking of those campaign rivals, back where we started tonight, do those closest rivals - I mean, we saw the these two quotes inside the "New York Observer," is that a tip of an iceberg or is that it? Did they see an opening here?
SHUSTER: Well, Keith, it gets beyond the quotes, I can report tonight that one of the rival campaigns is actively considering how and when to put the spot light on this race on what they are referring to as Rudy Giuliani's burning Kerik problem. And a Republican strategist who is not associated with any of the campaigns said to me tonight - imagine the television ads that the Democrats will run against Rudy Giuliani in a general election, ads that may feature that apartment in New York that was supposed to be reserved for 9/11 rescue workers, instead used as a love next by Bernie Kerik and his mistresses, including Judith Regan. At some point, said the strategist - Giuliani's going to have to explain what he did know about Bernie Kerik's affairs, Bernie Kerik's finances and the alleged criminality and the strategist said the question is, will Giuliani address this on his terms or on somebody else's terms? Keith?
OLBERMANN: And thus far David, his terms are to say it's just gossip and not worthy of discussion. We'll see. MSNBC's David Shuster, as always, great thanks, David.
SHUSTER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: For more on the political repercussions of this scandal, let's turn to our own Dana Milbank, national political reporter of the "Washington Post." Dana, good evening.
DANA MILBANK, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: It seems that this is the sort of story that should be sending shockwaves to a race for president where everything has been knit picked and when Mr. Giuliani held a news conference in Tampa this afternoon, nobody asked him about the lawsuit or about the Kerik indictment, about his attempt to dismiss all of it as gossip in Iowa yesterday, but somebody did ask him about his reaction about how the Senator McCain had handled the quote, "How do we beat the bitch?" question about Hillary Clinton. What happen to accountability in the race for politics or if not that, what happen to the ability of people to chase a good story?
MILBANK: You just wanted to be able to say "bitch" on the air.
OLBERMANN: Yes, of course.
MILBANK: But, no, I mean, maybe the press is afraid that Bernie Kerik's going to have them knee-capped if they ask the question. I think in defense of the media and I don't like to be in that position necessarily, but Giuliani was in Florida, a lot of horse race type of questions today. He's not getting away without answering more of this, and yes, it may be a tabloid material, may be gossip page material, but unfortunately that's become a narrative of his campaign, so it will be taken seriously. I suspect this is less of a bombshell and more of a drip, drip, drip that will just sort of come out as these cases develop off the Kerik and Regan case.
OLBERMANN: Well, to that point and David Shuster had made that, at what point does Giuliani lose the ability to address it on his terms? I mean, it's part and parcel of the whip of the frenzy on the Right that there are news organizations in the pocket of Democratic candidates and you know the details on who the candidate is, what the organization is changed based on whichever radio screamer you're listening to at a time, but here is a triangulation that has at least gotten to the lawsuit stage that involves a Conservative television network, a Conservative presidential and a remarkably corrupt presidential nominee to run Homeland Security, and it doesn't seem to be that people is jumping on this even the campaigns are hesitant it seems, the other ones just to be able to say, well, you know, this is nonsense or this is something we can kneecap Giuliani on.
MILBANK: It's always been a - out there to some extent. It will be coming out to some extent more in the future. There's the hesitation because it seems to tawdry. I think a lot of news organizations, as the campaigns themselves, are filtering through now just exactly what they should be going with now. Maybe the candidates are waiting for the news media to do something; news media are waiting for the campaigns. As you can see, David was referring to unnamed aides who are now coming out and making these statements, but if the - if the other candidates see blood in the water, as I suspect they will in the coming days, they'll come out and hammer him themselves.
OLBERMANN: And there's this point about mining the material, that's the 75-page lawsuit and most people are not trained lawyers or trained lawsuit readers. And even the indictment there's still stuff coming out of the indictment of Bernie Kerik that people have found today and the gold miners, if you will, found in it today the suggestion that the White House had discussed Bernie Kerik's sort of one step removed from direct mob ties before he withdrew his nomination as Homeland Security Secretary, the administration knowing that he had much more than a nanny problem, which was the story that was put out at the "Time." Could the Kerik/Regan scandal actually get larger than what we're seeing it now? Could it wind up being more than just Giuliani's problem? Could it hurt this White House as well?
MILBANK: Well, it's hard to imagine what more could happen to this White House.
MILBANK: But the truth is, this is a story of inept vetting at the White House, yes, they found out about it before he pulled his nomination, and nobody believed the nanny story at the time. They were hemorrhaging all kinds of embarrassing materials. The embarrassing thing for the White House is they didn't know about interstate and all these other things before they actually stood out there and they said that he's our choice. So, it just sort of reinforces that embarrassment for the White House. But I think this is really a Giuliani story, not a Bush story.
OLBERMANN: We'll see as it develops. Dana Milbank of the "Washington Post" and MSNBC, as always, great thanks, Dana.
MILBANK: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The terror of the recess appointment. Harry Reid has a plan. It involves turkey sandwiches and pro forma Senate sessions. "Broken Government" ahead, with John Dean.
And this year, he got the record, next year he might have a record. Baseball's Barry Bonds indicted on charges he lied to a grand jury about using steroids, and awaits a multimillion dollar contract signing in baseball. You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: "Broken Government" - if the majority leader has to call the Senate to meet over Thanksgiving to prevent White House recess appointments, it is broken, indeed. John Dean is next.
Barry Bonds is indicted, and it looks like his childhood friend, trainer and alleged steroid supplier turned to state's evidence on him.
While, Alex Rodriguez leaves the Yankees to join the Yankees?
That comedian, Rush Limbaugh turning a suicide victim into a punch line. And Worst Persons all ahead tonight, on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Tomorrow the Senate goes on holiday recess to celebrate Thanksgiving. The holiday officially established by Abraham Lincoln to give thanks for finding a land of bounty in which they found freedom from King George. Now, you see where I'm going in this kind of a mixed metaphor.
In our fourth story tonight, this thanksgiving might be a little different. Rollcall.com reporting that Senate leader, Harry Reid is considering may some senators stay behind in D.C. in the Thanksgiving time, to prevent President Bush from ramming through what are called recess appointments, bypassing the Senate because they're out of town and installing his own choices for key positions without a single vote in the Senate. Congress is already busy digging up and dealing with the deeds of previous Bush appointees like State Department Inspector General, Howard Krongard, whose stunning Blackwater testimony we told you about yesterday and about whom more in a moment. Now, Senator Reid has his eyes on potential appointees such as James Holsinger, Mr. Bush's choice for surgeon general, under fire for anti-gay positions in his church work and still yet to answer written questions from the Senate. We heard now from the "Arkansas Democrat Gazette," Mr. Holsinger resigned from a seminary board on Monday, anticipated Mr. Bush will circumvent the confirmation process with the recess appointment to the surgeon general position over thanksgiving.
Let's turn to John Dean, author of "Broken Government: How Republican will destroy the legislative, executive and judicial branches," for the latest in our series of segments exploring the themes of his book. John, once again, great thanks for your time, tonight.
JOHN DEAN, AUTHOR, "BROKEN GOVERNMENT": Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Senator Reid deploying a token force of senators in the Capitol, sort of as a watch guard to block recess appointments from the president? How rare is this? And what does it say about the status of our government?
DEAN: Well, it's very rare. It's clearly an exercise in process where the Democrats are at last trying to counter what the Republicans have been doing for years, is to use and abuse and manipulate the process. What he's doing is preventing the Senate from actually going out of session so there could be no recess appointment when there was no session, and so he really has just enough to keep it legally within the bounds of the session. I hope he does it for Thanksgiving and I hope he does it for Christmas because not only the names you mentioned, but there are a slew of radical judges that would also be affected that he couldn't slide onto the court.
OLBERMANN: Yes, if we used to have to keep the college radio station on the air over Thanksgiving and holiday break, Christmas break, I don't see why somebody can't stick around the Senate to prevent bad things from happening, like the transmitter blowing up, but in this Dr. Holsinger, what are the problems he might have had in past positions on gay rights? Mr. Bush already put in place one acting surgeon general, Steven Galson who was widely criticized for putting politics and putting theology ahead of science when he blocked the Plan B contraceptive. What is the Senate supposed to do about choices like that one?
DEAN: Well, acting of course may or different than recess - they're actually put in the job and they're on the job, and issuing orders and they're taking charge of a department or agency or whatever. And what Congress must do, and they have it in a few instances, is write laws that do not let them do this, that give them a very limited period in which they can stay in the acting post, then they're out. They need to do this government-wide because the Bush administration has broken all records of prior predecessors in doing this and using this ploy.
OLBERMANN: Yes, it's take a title, find the worst possible position or least possibly qualified person to fill that position, and we watch this almost Kafkaesque spectacle unfolding yesterday, this Howard Krongard, the State Department's ethics watch dog specifically charged with investigating the Blackwater mercenaries, and of course he testified my brother is not on Blackwater's advisory board, and then he came after the break and he said, well, my brother just told me he is on Blackwater's advisory board. Then, the brother went public saying, no, no, I told Howard that I was on the advisory board weeks ago. This is the ethics watch dog. What do you do about the ethics watch dog when has clearly no ethics or no memory?
DEAN: Well, obviously the ethics speak for themselves. I had nothing that. And what's remarkable is indeed that the Krongard brothers can't get their own stories together. The least you'd think they would have tidied up when they did touch base, but this seems indeed the charge that basically watchman has made against this inspector general, is that he's incompetent.
OLBERMANN: And he said upon in his opening testimony - and this wasn't the headline, obviously - when he took the job, he knew very little about it. Why did a Republican Congress consider somebody like that appropriate to protect the ethics at the State Department during wartime?
DEAN: Well, actually he has a very impressive resume, but the problem with the resume is - it is zero government experience. Since Bush won, Keith, they've been trying to use - to appoint the least qualified person to these inspector general posts that they can, and they have succeeded. And I think this is a classic case of that very kind of action, and it's become part of the theory of how to downgrade this post.
OLBERMANN: All you need is a resume. John Dean on "Broken Government," the author of the book by the same name. Great thanks for your time, John.
DEAN: Always, thank you.
OLBERMANN: Something broken beyond belief in the United States Bridge Association, trying to punish three of its best players, denying them their livelihoods for a year or more because of a minor political statement that happened also to be true for 54 million other American voters in 2004. We will interview the team captain.
And where's that (INAUDIBLE) wine we just got in from France? Where is it? You're sitting in it. That's next. This is Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Eighty-one years, 25 minutes and 42 seconds ago, if you're watching us live, the National Broadcasting Company, NBC signed on the air. Our first broadcast to 22 radio stations in the East and Midwest featuring the New York symphony, Will Rogers, and Vincent Lopez and his orchestra. I've got to admit I'm surprised by this, Jim Cramer from "Mad Money." Let's play Oddball.
We begin in Hakoni, Japan, the first place to get a batch of the France's Bocelli Noveau (ph) wine and they're swimming in it, literally. The red wine is produced briefly in the fall each year. A spa in Japan loads hundreds of gallons of it into a pool, charging 30 bucks a pop to take a dip. It's fun for the whole family. And I'm not sure - don't drink that, son. But it was a wise older gentleman who summed up the swim best.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translator): I've lived for 68 years, but I've never had a fun bath like this.
OLBERAMANN: He then added, has anybody seen my trunks? You, you're cut off, buddy.
To the nation's capital, where due to global warming, the plow drivers are forced to plow fake snow in a video game. Actually, the city is getting geared up for the white staff training 200 plow drivers on simulated D.C. streets. The software is customized with the actual routes drivers will be plowing. And as an added safety measure, drivers are also shown this instructional video, which warns them to avoid the media, and speak to no one as they clear the roads.
Happy holidays, Barry Bonds - probably the most controversial figure in sports indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice, just three months after he broke baseball's all-time home run record.
And "People" magazine's sexiest man alive? Matt Damon. These stories ahead, but first on Countdown Top Three Best Persons in the World. Number three, best naming advice. Researchers at Yale and UC San Diego, they've determined there is a name/letter effect. Students whose names begin with A or B gets more As and Bs than students whose names begin with C or D. Major League baseball players who's first or last names start with K are the most likely to strike out, K being the scoring symbol for strikeout, laugh if you will but on baseball's list of the top 25 guys in hits, batting average, doubles, triples, homeruns, RBI, and watch - there's only one player whose first name or last name starts with a "K." Ken griffin.
Number two, best effort at cleanliness. Unnamed homeowner in Albuquerque tried to suck gasoline out of a vehicle in his garage using a vacuum cleaner; see a vacuum cleaner has an engine. It blew the roof off his house.
And Number one best farewell, an unidentified woman riding Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland. The ride had to be shut down after she dumped an unidentified substance into the water. Online Web sites which track news from Disneyland immediately begin to receive e-mails from employees claiming this was in fact a scattering of human ashes. Man, those lines are endless. Disney is reportedly searching for the woman so it can charge her for the price of an eternity ticket.
OLBERMANN: The United States of America versus Barry Lamar Bonds, Major League Baseball's career home run leader indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges, just hours before the prime candidate to some day take that record away from him did a 180 and signed a 275. Alex Rodriguez rejoining the New York Yankees tonight on a ten-year dealing averaging at least 27.5 million dollars a year.
Our third story on the Countdown, Bonds first. The indictment unsealed this afternoon by a federal court for northern California. Prosecutors say Bonds lied about doing steroids and they have his positive tests to prove that. That indictment seems to imply that Bonds' steroid supplier may have finally snitched on him. The five-count indictment, reading in part, "during the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained, including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing substances for Bonds and other athletes."
The indictment also says Bonds lied about that under oath during his December 4th, 2003 testimony before a federal Grand Jury. We now have that testimony, reading Bonds' Grand Jury testimony from the new indictment. Prosecutor, "let me be real clear about this, did he," Greg Anderson, Bonds' former trainer, "ever give you anything that you knew to be a steroid? Did he ever give you a steroid?
Bonds: I don't think Greg would do anything like that to me and jeopardize our friendship. I just don't think he would do that.
Prosecutor: Well, when you say you don't think he would do that, to your knowledge, I mean, did you ever take any steroids that he gave you?
Bonds: Not that I know of."
Later news now, a California judge has ordered that Greg Anderson, who was in jail for not cooperating in the Grand Jury investigations of Bonds, should be released, which may tell us why all this happened today. John Burris (ph), a Bonds' attorney reacting, "I'm surprised, but there's been an effort to get Barry for a long time. I'm curious what evidence they have now that they didn't have before." See if you can guess. Bonds faces up to 30 years in jail, if convicted.
He's scheduled to appear in district court in San Francisco on the 7th of next month. The last interview with the non-indicted Barry Bonds was conducted for Countdown by Jim Gray, who asked Bonds about the Mitchell Investigation and the looming charges, the ones that ultimately came down today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM GRAY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Senator Mitchell is conducting his investigation. Will you participate and answer his questions?
BARRY BONDS, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER: Not as long as an ongoing BALCO case is still going, no. And I leave everything up to my lawyer.
GRAY: It's been 15 months that the perjury charges are being looked into now by the Grand Jury. How much longer do you think this will go on in.
BONDS: I don't know. I know it ends in January, so they - a couple more months. But I haven't been keeping up with it. Not at all. I have nothing to hide. I've said that before, and I will say it now. And I will look you in the face, I ain't got nothing to hide, nothing. So look all you want to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: It all started with investigative journalism done by our next guest and his partner. Let's bring in Lance Williams of the "San Francisco Chronicle." Lance, thanks for your time tonight.
LANCE WILLIAMS, "SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE": It's my pleasure.
OLBERMANN: First off, Greg Anderson, the trainer, is getting out of jail. Is that the most remarkable coincidence of all time, or did he finally talk? Is that why this all happened now?
WILLIAMS: You know, Keith, I don't believe he did talk. He was getting out of jail, because with the indictment today, there's no longer a reason you can hold him as a - in contempt of court for refusing to testify. The Grand Jury is now out of business. I think the evidence against Bonds is stuff that they've had in hand for some time, including drug tests that we believe Victor Conte (ph) performed on Bonds back in the day at BALCO.
OLBERMANN: So that's where this came from? So there is nothing new on this? Why would the timing of it occur now, when this has been sat on for as long as it's been sat on?
WILLIAMS: Well, they were spending a year trying to sweat Anderson into becoming a witness. The Grand Jury that was hold - that was holding Anderson was going out of business in any case in January. But I don't understand their timing. But here it is. They were perhaps deciding it had gone on long enough.
OLBERMANN: There's also what looks like an additional bit of news. You've already explained where that item nine came from about the positive test, that that might be Victor Conte from BALCO. But item eight says Bonds had received an order of immunity for his Grand Jury testimony, that he could have admitted steroid use in 2003 to the first Grand Jury, or HGH use, or anything else, and not have been punished in any way, that the only thing that the immunity deal did not cover was perjury.
We knew that was Jason Giambi's deal when he testified to the same Grand Jury. Did we know this about Bonds before today?
WILLIAMS: I think about 30 athletes went into the BALCO Grand Jury, and all of them were given that deal. Barry is now the fourth athlete to get indicted for lying about his role in BALCO. That's a violation of the immunity arrangement you just mentioned. Marion Jones pleaded guilty recently in New York. But there was a BALCO count there. She was accused and admitted lying about her drug use to BALCO investigators in California.
OLBERMANN: Lance, the 762 home run question; he's been a free agent. There were stories that his last contract with the Giants included a clause that would let the team void the contract if he was to be indicted. Now he's been indicted, essentially he's unemployed. Now, tonight, Commissioner Bud Selig has issued a statement that reads, in part, I have yet to see the details of this indictment, and while everyone in America is considered innocent until proven guilty, I take this indictment very seriously and will follow its progress closely.
Is Barry Bonds going to play baseball again.
WILLIAMS: I can't imagine he gets a job now, can you, Keith? This will go on - if they have a trial, it will be next summer at the earliest. In the meantime, it would be an immense distraction, not just for him as a player, but any club that would sign him. I've got to figure it's the end of the road. He's a tough guy, tough-minded and good at compartmentalizing, but I can't see it.
OLBERMANN: And, of course, it's no longer in his control whatsoever. It's not as if he had another year or two to go on a deal with the San Francisco Giants, his hometown team, whose popularity was largely based on his home run chase. Could this have worked out, in a weird way, about as well as Commissioner Bud Selig could have wanted? He doesn't have to bury Barry Bonds? He doesn't have to put a ban on him. He doesn't have to suspend him. He doesn't have to do anything if baseball simply doesn't offer him another job, does he?
WILLIAMS: No, he doesn't. It's interesting too, the indictment came out before the Mitchell Report. We were wondering whether the indictment decision was awaiting the Mitchell Report. That's what happened with Pete Rose back in the day in Cincinnati.
OLBERMANN: This could be, right now, unless these charges are dismissed immediately, this could be the end of the road for Barry Bonds?
WILLIAMS: Well, you know, he's a resilient character, but he's up against a big, big bad odds on this one, it seems to me, to continue playing.
OLBERMANN: I think you're right. Lance Williams, whose investigative work for the "San Francisco Chronicle" broke this extraordinary Bonds story. Great thanks for that, Lance, and great thanks for your time tonight.
WILLIAMS: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: The Alex Rodriguez story in brief tonight. Baseball's highest-paid player will be returning to the New York Yankees, probably the last outcome anybody could have foreseen when his agent revealed during the last game of the World Series that the American league's incumbent Most Valuable Player had opted out of his contract with New York. Less than two weeks ago, Rodriguez had concluded he made a huge mistake. And working independently of his agent, he used back channels to resume negotiations with the Yankees personally.
Yankee senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner telling the Associated Press that a meeting involving him and his brother Hal and Rodriguez yesterday in Tampa sealed the deal. The Associated Press saying the guaranteed part of the new contract is 275 million over a decade, but Rodriguez could earn more still, especially if he breaks the home run record.
Supporting the troops, a wonderful surprise reunion in Virginia for a soldier and his family, as a camera is there. But what is next? And what is next at Christmas? Australian Santas prohibited from shouting "ho ho ho." Collectively, they take on comedian Rush Limbaugh in tonight's worst persons derby. That's next. This is Countdown.
OLBERMANN: The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research confirming what psychiatrists could have told you, not only does the stress and depression of war not magically go away the day a soldier gets home, but it often gets worse weeks and months after the return. At the six-month mark, the research they published in the American Medical Association Journal suggests, the numbers of soldiers referred for mental health care is nearly three times as high as the day they got home.
But in our number two story, that they can still get home is almost always a miracle for those soldiers and their families, like Army Reserve Lieutenant Thomas Born (ph) of Louisa, Virginia. He was back from Iraq, not that his two sons knew that. What happened next is an experience to cherish, even as merely a vicarious witness.
OLBERMANN (voice-over): The video is of Lieutenant Thomas Born. His-eight-year-old son Preston watching in school, presuming his father is still in Iraq.
LT. THOMAS BORN, U.S. ARMY: There's another Blackhawk helicopter flying besides us.
OLBERMANN: The heartbreak of a boy with a father at war was at an end.
PRESTON BORN, SON OF THOMAS BORN: Dad!
T. BORN: Hey, buddy.
Tell everybody who this is.
P. BORN: Everybody, this is my daddy. I'm really surprised he came. I never thought he would come. But he's in the Army, and I think he was a second lieutenant.
T. BORN: First lieutenant now.
P. BORN: Oh, first lieutenant. But I just missed him very much. I can't believe he's here.
OLBERMANN: So, too, for Preston's younger brother Walker. His father and his mother, Amy, had just completed the same surprise on him, and it froze Walker in his tracks.
T. BORN: Hey, buddy.
WALKER BORN, SON OF THOMAS BORN: Why is mama crying?
T. BORN: Because she's happy.
OLBERMANN: To speak of supporting the troops and not understand that the only true way to enact that support is to make sure that kind of homecoming is what each of them and their families have earned, is to reduce that support to a saying on a bumper sticker, to making it a meaningless brand name. Supporting the troops is supporting Lieutenant Thomas Born and supporting Amy Born and supporting Walker Born and supporting Preston Born. Supporting them is not making those two little boys have to cry again. It's not thumping a chest and waving a flag and threatening a dissenter. It is not what the Army Reserve is doing to Thomas Born and thousands more like him, sending him after his two weeks leave is up, back to Iraq.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keeping Tabs, wonderful. Look, dog, look, more stories about Don Johnson and the new Christy Minstrels (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You never hear them talk about "Family Guy."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're right. And why the deuce doesn't he just do more stories about that bastard Bill O'Reilly?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's "Family Guy?"
OLBERMANN: Let's put away the anger and sadness for a moment and turn to Keeping Tabs and a different kind of family. Britney Spears and the endless cycle of court appearances and car seats. She now faces a court date tomorrow in her continuing fight against Kevin Federline to re-claim the custody of her children. The latest sticking point, a positive in a court ordered drug test. TMZ.com reporting that Spears' lawyers have finally settled on a defense, attention deficit disorder, and an amphetamine-like medication called aderol, prescribed for ADD.
Earlier reports said Spears would blame an inhaler used for asthma or narcolepsy. It's multiple choice here. TMZ also reporting K-Fed's lawyers will ask the judge again to bar her from ever driving with the kids. Miss Spears recently photographed texting while driving, running a red light and, of course, flattening the foot of a photographer. At least the kids were strapped into the car seats at the time.
To quote the pun authored by Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding, ladies, grab your seats. Here's "People Magazine's" sexiest man alive, Matt Damon. "People" says two of Damon's friends shamelessly campaigned for years to make him number one, George Clooney, "People's" two-time sexiest man in 1997 and 2006, and Brad Pitt, named sexiest man on the planet by a British magazine. The 37 year old star of the "Bourne Ultimatum" accepted the title reluctantly, calling himself an aging suburban dad, and suggesting that New England Patriot's quarterback Tom Brady deserved the award more. But "People" said those piercing blue - I've had enough of this.
It may be the best thing that's ever happened to the game of Bridge, at least since Omar Sharif (ph) started playing it. however, three of America's top players are now facing year long suspensions, and worse for having an opinion. Two of the players, including the team captain join us next. First time for Countdown's worst person in the world.
The bronze to West Staff Employment Firm, recruiting Santas for the holiday season in Australia, telling its hundreds of Chris Kringles that to avoid offending women and scaring children, they cannot say "ho ho ho." They are limited to "ha ha ha." Come on. Listen to this observation, give me a break; we're talking about little kids who do not understand that "ho ho ho" has any other connotation and nor should they.
That was from Julie Gale (ph), who runs Kids Free to be Kids, a campaign to counter sexualizing children. She doesn't even think this is a problem.
Runner-up, Michael Ogeary (ph), city attorney for San Diego, California. He is investigating the public television station there, KPBS. He wants its e-mails, its financial statements, its donor records, its records of contact with the mayor's office. City Attorney Ogeary has issued a report accusing KPBS of, quote, abrogating its duty to maintain objectivity and balance in its local public affairs television programming, of possibly violating antitrust laws, because it canceled a local interview show called "Full Focus," a show on which, between July 2003 and its last broadcast on August 1st of this year, a guest on 15 separate occasions was City Attorney Michael Ogeary. They canceled the show you were a guest on, so you're threatening them with prosecution. Nice.
But the winner, comedian Rush Limbaugh. When exactly he left this earth and went back to the one that exists only in his own mind no man can say. But he's add it again. The rainman of the Internet, Matt Drudge, made up a story about Hillary Clinton's campaign threatening Wolf Blitzer of CNN. The Clinton campaign denied it. Blitzer denied it. Limbaugh reports it, of course, as fact, and predicted the Clintons would try to kill Blitzer.
Quote, we know Wolf's already got a reservation he's not aware of to Fort Mercy Park. If you don't recognize that reference, that's the whole Vince Foster's suicide sadness. Limbaugh and the lunatic fringe have now been using poor Vince Foster's dead body as a political lie for 14 years. But more relevantly, one month ago today, Rush Limbaugh proudly confessed that he had once threatened a magazine reporter; "we're going to find out where your kids go to school. We're going to find out who you knocked up in high school. We're going to find out what drugs you use."
A little projection there, incidentally. Point being, if a politician really did threaten a reporter, they would simply be as big a schmuck as you, comedian Rush Limbauh, today's Worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: A spontaneous act taking the form of a small sign which conveyed something shared by more than 53 million voting Americans in 2000, and more than 59 million voting Americans in 2004; we did not vote for Bush. The sign was held up by an American Bridge team, the Venice Cup team, after winning an international tournament at Shanghai, China, as we told yesterday in this news hour. Two members of that team, including the captain, will join us presently.
The United States Bridge Federation was so offended by this act of free speech, it demanded a formal apology, and wanted the Venice Cup Team prohibited from participating in the World Bridge Olympiad, and wanted other sanctions, including what amounted to a confession. Now, in our number one story on the Countdown tonight, the team has offered to make an apology, but has been told that is not enough, that USBF members want blood.
Joining me now the captain of the Vice Cup championship team and her daughter, also a member of the team. Great thanks for joining us. We'll get to the team's attempt at an apology for a moment, but what were your reasons for the sign in the first place?
GAIL GREENBERG, VENICE CUP BRIDGE TEAM: Well, my reasons were a little bit different from the other members of the team, because I was not actively at the table. I was the captain of the team and more involved in meetings with other captains and other officials. In the course of those meetings, it became apparent that the captains, the officials from the other teams were not nearly as favorably disposed towards Americans as I remember they always had been in the other years that I've been privileged to be a part of world championships.
There was definitely a somewhat skeptical feeling about America. So at the ceremony, at the end, when our team did so well, and we were awarded the gold medal, which I wear with great pride, I felt that I personally wanted to do something to express to the other teams that I understood where they were coming from, and where - why they didn't feel quite the same towards America and Americans as they had in other years.
So we chose that way of expressing it. We stood up on the platform, and we sang the national anthem, and we waved the American flags. But one of us held the sign, which we all were a part of. And it was our way of saying, despite the fact that we don't agree with some of the policies that this administration has stood for, we still love America because in America we're entitled to express that and try to effectuate a change, or if we're not able to effectuate a change in policy, at least by the power of our vote, try to bring in a new administration.
So we are still proud to be Americans, despite the fact that we understand the feelings that you have expressed to us. That was my personal feeling.
OLBERMANN: Jill, I understand your reasons were a little different. You want to go into that?
JILL LEVIN, VENICE CUP BRIDGE TEAM: The origins of my reasons were different. I would say over the course of three weeks I was in China, I was exposed to a lot more of the international press than I had been previously, and was seeing how the rest of the world views the actions of the Bush administration. Having previously been fortunate enough to be victorious and stand up there with pride in my country, in this particular instance, in light of what I had been reading, it didn't feel as prideful.
This was my way of saying that while I am very proud of my country, I am not proud of the things my country are presently doing. It did not come from negative reactions from my actual opponents, however.
OLBERMANN: Jill, were you shocked - when the offer was made to make an apology here, were you shocked that people didn't say, OK, good enough?
LEVIN: I was shocked altogether at the backlash against what we had done, which we considered to be a diplomatic effort, part of the same feeling of being ambassadors for our country and for our game that we've always taken. Our team has vast experience in world championships. But I was surprised with the degree to which the USBF wanted to exert control over the actual wording of our apology.
That's what made the apology itself unacceptable. It wasn't from our hearts. It was from what was being forced on us.
OLBERMANN: Gail Greenburg and Jill Levin, my apologies, but we're out of time. Congratulations on what you did at the tournament. I think you need to start a new league, the free speech contract bridge league. Thanks.
GREENBURG: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this the 1,660th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. From New York, I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END