'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
Replacement video via MSNBC:
Details emerge on would-be terrorist
Specter of terror inspires bilious Cheney
Cashing in on terrorism
Guests: Even Kohlmann, Richard Wolffe, Eugene Robinson
DAVID SHUSTER, GUEST HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Dick Cheney emerges from his undisclosed location to accuse President Obama of trying to pretend we are not at war with terrorists.
Dick also accuses the president of making the country less safe in response to the recent attempted attack on a civilian jetliner.
But how has this administration's actions been any different than what the Bush administration did after "shoe bomber" Richard Reid tried to blow up an airliner in 2001? Hypocritical much?
Speaking of which, there are Republicans now trying to cash in, literally, on terrorism.
All that plus Keith Olbermann brings you our "Favorite People of 2009"
Carrie Prejean, that means you - now on Countdown.
SHUSTER: Good evening from Washington, everybody. I'm David Shuster in tonight for Keith Olbermann.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney today criticized President Obama to his response to the Christmas Day bombing attempt, an act allegedly carried out by a radical Muslim who was twice allowed to fly into the United States by the Bush/Cheney administration, was flying into Detroit on a visa granted by the Bush/Cheney administration, was carrying a bomb obtained from al Qaeda in a country neglected by the Bush/Cheney administration, was under orders from al Qaeda leaders who were set free by the Bush/Cheney administration so they could become better people through art therapy and the dialogue.
Our number five story on the Countdown: Why President Obama's record on terrorism is 9/11 times better than Bush/Cheney's.
But first, the investigation. "Politico" today reports President Obama has asked to have the results of a preliminarily review by tomorrow, and that early findings confirm that if U.S. intelligence had connected the dots about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, he would have been screened more thoroughly before being allowed to board his flight to Detroit without checking any bags.
His father informed the CIA in Nigeria, on November the 17th, that his son had disappeared and he feared he had been radicalized. The CIA passed information to other agencies, but did not raise appropriate flags with the FBI, "Politico" reports.
The fact that two leaders of the al Qaeda offshoot taking credit for the bombing attempt were U.S. detainees at Guantanamo Bay has figured into the fuselage from the right, arguing that Abdulmutallab should go to Gitmo, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM RIDGE, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I take a look at this individual who's been charged, criminally, does that mean he's going to get his Miranda warnings? Does that mean the only kind of information we're going to get from him is if he volunteers it? He's not a citizen of this country. He is a terrorist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: We should note that the Bush/Cheney administration sent shoe bomber Richard Reid to prison in Colorado.
But in a statement last night, Cheney jumped on the bandwagon. "President Obama seems to think if he has a low-key response in an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won't be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won't be at war. He seems to think if we closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core al Qaeda-trained terrorists still there, we won't be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren't, it makes us less safe."
Let's bring in NBC terrorism analyst, Evan Kohlmann.
Good evening, Evan.
EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Good evening.
SHUSTER: What do we know and still need to know about how this guy could get on a plane for Detroit?
KOHLMANN: Well, I think the answer is, is that we've had the wrong mentality. We have this fortress mentality where we're trying to stop terrorists at airports and in airplanes when they're already at the target, long before we should have stopped them initially. The way to stop these folks is through intelligence.
And, you know, the fact that we haven't processed intelligence in this case, that's not an isolated example. This is a phenomenon that's been happening for the last nine years, ongoing.
Richard Reid, you just mentioned Richard Reid, we had Guantanamo Bay detainees in our custody at the time of Richard Reid's attempted bombing of an American Airlines plane who knew him, who knew that he was an al Qaeda operative, who knew that he was close friends with Zacarias Moussaoui, and yet, that information was never fed to anyone. Nobody realized it until after Richard Reid had already tried to detonate his shoes on board that airliner.
So, the logic that we send people to Guantanamo Bay and that somehow solves the problem, look, that's entirely bankrupt. Not to mention the fact that the people that sent out Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the leaders of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, these were Guantanamo Bay detainees. They were released by the Bush administration, against the advice of the U.S. military, who repeatedly said that these individuals posed an active threat to U.S. national security.
For political reasons, within months of these people being judged unfit for release, they were sent back to Saudi Arabia. How can that happen? There was a serious breakdown here. It's not just a breakdown that's happened in the last year, it's a breakdown that's happened over the last nine years.
SHUSTER: Can you fact-check the criticism a little bit? Were the critics equally hard on Mr. Bush? And secondly, are they saying anything substantive that the White House has yet to acknowledge?
KOHLMANN: No. Look, I - you know, I look at what Peter King is saying and I wonder, how come he wasn't saying this five years ago, when the Bush administration failed to take under its wing the intelligence reform that was promised to the American people. It was promised on the 9/11 Commission report. This reform never happened.
If you talk to foreign intelligence agencies right now, if you talk to foreign law enforcement agencies, there are consistent complaints that the United States and its various different agencies are not sharing information in a timely manner. They are not sharing information with other, even Scotland Yard in the United Kingdom is finding out about critical pieces of evidence in their terrorism cases, based upon the fact that they come out in public indictments, or they're leaked to news agencies.
This is a problem that has been ongoing for nine years. And it was a problem that was started under the Bush and Cheney administration. Even neocons acknowledge the fact that the release of the 11 individuals from Guantanamo Bay, who have rejoined al Qaeda, was a horrifically naive decision.
SHUSTER: If Abdulmutallab's father had not come to the CIA, we'd focus a lot more on the bomb and the underpants - didn't the Bush administration tell us they were effectively moving the border outward to airport checkpoints in foreign countries? I mean, is that not maybe more disturbing here, since that should have picked up the actual bomb rather than just raising flags?
KOHLMANN: We shouldn't be grabbing at people's crotches, looking for bombs. That's not a way to stop terrorism, OK?
We need to focus on intelligence. We need to identify these people long before they get to an airport. Because as you saw just a few years ago in the United Kingdom, it's not just a matter of people bombing airlines, they can crash a vehicle through the front of Glasgow Airport, set themselves on fire, and start dancing around.
We knew about these people ahead of time. We knew about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. What's even more disturbing is the suggestion, and it hasn't been proven yet, that Abdulmutallab may have been in contact with the same radical cleric that was in touch with Major Malik Hasan, the individual before the Fort Hood massacre.
These are communications that have gone on for at least a year and a half. They're not something that took place just during the Obama administration. The fact that nobody put these pieces together is criminal.
Somebody's head needs to roll. Somebody needs to pay a price for this, and it's not just the Obama administration, it's not just President Obama. There are people within the Bush administration who failed to do their job. And somebody needs to be held to account.
SHUSTER: NBC terrorism analyst, Evan Kohlmann - Evan, thanks for your time tonight. We appreciate it.
KOHLMANN: Thank you.
SHUSTER: Mr. Cheney's implications raise other questions, of course.
If Mr. Obama's response was low-key, speaking out three days later, what to make of Mr. Bush's five days of silence after the shoe-bombing attempt? Never demanding accountability for those failures, let alone his own. On August the 6th, 2001, to act on a CIA briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" - Mr. Bush just told his briefer, "All right, you've covered your ass now."
Mr. Cheney also did not explain why this suspect should be interrogated at Gitmo, when he has already given up his liaison and the bombing expert that equipped him while being held by the FBI in Michigan. Mr. Cheney did not mention his administration's thinking in giving Abdulmutallab a visa last year or letting him fly into Houston in August of '08, after associating with radical militants as president of his school's Islamic society.
And if they, the Bush/Cheney administration, were more serious about terrorism, why did they implement a policy last year that Senator Dianne Feinstein now says prevented the suspect from getting on the no-fly list?
And why did it take Mr. Obama to get serious about al Qaeda's presence in Yemen, backing air strikes that took out dozen of al Qaeda there this month?
One raid killed an al Qaeda operative who was planning an attack on the British embassy after being set free from Gitmo by the Bush/Cheney administration - much like two leaders of a new al Qaeda offshoot in Yemen and Saudi Arabia were also set loose by Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. Why? Quoting "The Washington Post," "They were sent to a Saudi rehabilitation program that uses dialogue and art therapy to reform militants."
Joining us now is MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe, also a senior strategist at Public Strategies and author of "Renegade: The Making of a President."
Richard, good to see you, as always.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be with you, David.
SHUSTER: White House communications director, Dan Pfeiffer, posted an online statement that Mr. Obama does, in fact, know we are at war, writing, quote, "The difference is President Obama doesn't need to beat his chest to prove it. And unlike the last administration, we are not at war with a tactic, i.e., terrorism."
Read between the lines.
WOLFFE: OK. So they're being very restrained here. Maybe they don't want to beat their chests about their actual record on what the last gang called the war on terror. But we - we can maybe explain a little bit.
If this president, as Dick Cheney suggests, is pretending that he's not at war, then he's not pretending very well. He's trebled, more than trebled the number of troops in Afghanistan, which just so happens to be what they call, they used to call, the central front on tin the war on terrorism, that's where the core leadership of al Qaeda is. And for Dick Cheney, those are the people who actually attacked America on 9/11.
So, you know, the idea that he's pretending not to be at war doesn't stack up with his record and the focus on al Qaeda as opposed to Saddam Hussein and his so-called weapons of mass destruction is actually on point. It's a relevant thing and the only pretense here is Dick Cheney's forgetful pretense about his own record.
SHUSTER: On some level, does Dick Cheney realize that Abdulmutallab, his very existence as a radicalized Muslim, as a bomb-carrying passenger on a plane, are all literally traced back to the Bush/Cheney administration? And could that explain why Dick Cheney is coming out so hard now?
WOLFFE: I'm not sure that in Dick Cheney's world, there's enough room for self-doubt. You know, he's the defender of a weakened and fearful country. He's the sole defender. And so, the idea that he may be linked to anything that's happened, I don't think he even approaches his consciousness.
What is going on here is that he's trying to put together - he and a number of Republicans, we've seen in the last couple of days, trying to put together, Humpty Dumpty-like, this old narrative, the Democrats are weak on terrorism, on national security. And of course, it doesn't stack up.
It doesn't stack up, not at least because of Richard Reid, a guy who used the same explosive to try to do the same thing, bring down an American jetliner, and where did he get tried? Where is he now residing? Without parole and a life sentence on American soil in a civilian prison, not tried as an enemy combatant, tried in a civilian federal court in Boston, Massachusetts.
So, the narrative really doesn't stack up to what we saw during the Bush years.
SHUSTER: We dinged the former Bush homeland secretary, Tom Ridge, but he's been mostly nonpartisan on this, as have many Republicans. But Cheney didn't even manage to say anything about condemning the attack, reassuring America. Not even lip service to traditional American values.
Are we starting to see Cheney go off the rails more publicly this time?
WOLFFE: Well, when you speak to former Bush administration officials, they say - not just with Cheney, but also with Karl Rove - they suffer from this problem of not having people to sort of put a lid on their opinions. This is all the unfiltered stuff that they used to have to sort of keep a lid on.
But I actually think - look, Cheney doesn't feel the need to reassure the nation. This is political opportunity - opportunism. Maybe he sees this as a - he sees President Obama as a repudiation, he ought to, a repudiation of the Bush record, of his own record, of that kind of politics. This is an attempt to re-inject fear and patriotism as they worked for - in 2002 and 2004, back into the national dialogue.
SHUSTER: To that end, we see al Qaeda, essentially, popping up in Yemen, Somalia, even Saudi Arabia, becoming al Qaeda strongholds. If only because Mr. Obama strikes out at them, what does it all do to Mr. Cheney's record of focusing on Afghanistan and then Iraq?
WOLFFE: Well, I don't think he really did focus on Afghanistan. When Richard Reid was trying to light his shoes, so incompetently, Dick Cheney was thinking, already, we know from multiple records, about Iraq. And this is the fundamental flaw here, the fundamental strategic, systemic, if you will, mistake and blunder of the Bush years.
To ignore what were once considered - I had a conversation with senior military folks in the White House after 9/11, they said they were going to go for the low-hanging fruit. That was Yemen, the Horn of Africa. They missed it. They took their eye of the ball.
SHUSTER: Richard Wolffe - Richard, interesting stuff. Thanks so much for coming in tonight. We appreciate it, as always. And Happy New Year.
WOLFFE: Thank you, David.
SHUSTER: Still ahead: Playing politics with terror. We don't recall Republicans doing much criticizing or complaining when similar incidents took place under President Bush's watch. Republicans are trying to cash in, literally.
And later, Keith returns with Countdown's list of our favorite people of 2009, including the former future favorite son-in-law that one Republican named Sarah Palin has come to hate.
SHUSTER: Republicans didn't say much when George W. Bush ignored the now infamous August 6th presidential daily brief while vacationing at his Crawford ranch. They didn't seem to mind when it took Mr. Bush six days to comment on Richard Reid's failed shoe bomb.
But in our fourth story on the Countdown: The GOP sure has a lot to say about President Obama's response to the Christmas Day terror attempt. And now, they're trying to cash in.
Congressman Pete Hoekstra, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, says the Obama administration failed to connect the dots on national security issues, making that comment before he was even briefed on the incident. Hoekstra, also running for governor of Michigan, is connecting the monetary dots in a fundraising letter.
"They just don't get it. The system didn't work here, far from it. It is insulting that the Obama administration would make such a claim, but then again, these are the same weak-kneed liberals who have recently tried to bring Guantanamo Bay terrorists right here to Michigan.
If you agree that we need a governor who will stand up to the Obama/Pelosi efforts to weaken our security, please make a most generous contribution of $25, $50, $100, or even $250 to my campaign."
Also jumping on the bandwagon, the National Republican Congressional Committee picking up the Hoekstra-Gitmo detainee meme and calling for an immediate contribution via e-mail.
As "Roll Call" reports, Minority Leader Boehner then issued a follow-up statement linking the decision to close Gitmo to the failed terrorist attempt.
But former Romney spokesman, Kevin Madden, offers an explanation to the GOP hypocrisy, he says the real reason why Republicans are attacking Obama national security is because he doesn't have political capital and he's on vacation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN MADDEN, FMR. ROMNEY SPOKESMAN: You also have to remember, the fact is, the president being on vacation in Hawaii, it's much different than being in Texas. Hawaii, to many Americans, seems like a foreign place. And I think those images, the optics, hurt President Obama very badly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: Time now to call in MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson. He's also the associate editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post."
Good evening, Eugene.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, David.
SHUSTER: Did Kevin Madden get his marching orders from Orly Taitz, and did he just reveal the Republican talking points for tomorrow, Obama is weak on national security because he was on vacation? Do they need a reminder that President Bush was on vacations during major crises?
ROBINSON: President Bush was on vacation, essentially all the time.
So that's not exactly the branch I'd want to walk out on.
And Hawaii is a foreign place? It has been a state for quite some time. It is - it's interesting. It's as if, perhaps Kevin and perhaps Dick Cheney and others have been getting their marching orders from homeless people sitting in bus shelters, just talking to no one in particular. That's kind of the way it sounds.
SHUSTER: Fund-raising off of terrorism. Why is it that when Democrats do it, it's playing politics? When Republicans do it, it's patriotic to give money to them.
ROBINSON: When Republicans do it, it's scaring the voters. And Republicans are very good at that. I mean, they've been practicing it for a while.
And, I - you know, I - look, Democrats, Republicans, we have partisan differences. I, personally, think it's reprehensible to raise money on the back of a near-miss terrorist incident that could have cost 300 lives. That is a time, one would think, where you could be nonpartisan, but maybe there is no time in America these days when you can be nonpartisan.
SHUSTER: Regarding Congressman Hoekstra, the ranking member of that intelligence committee, he tweeted this afternoon that Obama, quote, "Concedes I'm right on the failed airplane bombing." If this kind of rhetoric was coming from Democrats after 9/11, wouldn't there be calls for resignations? And why aren't the Democrats - how can they're not fighting back harder on this?
ROBINSON: You know, I don't know. They may be assuming that the Republicans are going too far and that people will realize this. I think it is always dangerous to leave kind of untruths and mendacity and shamelessness unchallenged in this way.
And so, if someone were to ask my advice, I'd say, no, you've got to -
you've got to counter this stuff, you've got to point out that this is not the way we expect an opposition party to behave at a time when national security is in question. It is outrageous to me, it really is.
SHUSTER: Speaking of the opposition party, Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker, he's also out there speaking out against the Obama administration and their national security efforts.
Is he competing with Dick Cheney as the de facto leader of the Republican Party these days?
ROBINSON: You know, I think - I think maybe he is. It's interesting, of course. We keep saying, well, maybe Newt's going to run for this, maybe he's going to run for that. And neither Newt Gingrich nor Dick Cheney has - is in office now and they seem to be liberated to kind of say whatever is on their mind.
You know, now, why is - why did Dick Cheney unleash that screed today? That would be an interesting kind of psychological question to ask.
SHUSTER: Well, and the other great psychological analysis is of Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. He says that the president has downplayed terrorism and accused Mr. Obama of dragging his heels before nominating a TSA chief. And yet, Mr. DeMint is now blocking the nominee because he's afraid that the TSA will somehow unionize as a result. Did he just reveal what's really on his mind?
ROBINSON: Yes. I think the political - the term of art there is nuts, because he's blocking the nomination that he's accusing the president of not moving with enough alacrity on. That is really delusional, crazy, nuts, insane.
SHUSTER: Or maybe selective amnesia on DeMint's part.
ROBINSON: It could be. It could be. You know, we can put him all on the couch and we can be busy for quite some time, David.
SHUSTER: Well, I think we're going to be - we are going to be busy for quite some time along this Christmas and keeps up (ph).
In any case, Eugene Robinson of MSNBC and "The Washington Post," at least the criticism that's totally off the mark and crazy. Many thanks. Happy New Year. We appreciate it.
ROBINSON: Happy New Year.
SHUSTER: When Keith joins you after the break - she used to be your average beauty queen, but how 2009 transformed Carrie Prejean into the opposite of average entertainment and one of Countdown's Favorite People of the Year. Also making the cut, Tiger Woods, if only figuratively these days, since he's taking a break from golf.
Countdown continues after this.
KEITH OLBERMANN, Countdown HOST: COUNDOWN Favorites 2009. I found myself inexplicably right smack dab in the middle of some other people's drama. Carrie Prejean's, for example. Her support of opposite marriage put her in the middle of a political firestorm. She got so distracted by her new cause that pageant officials not only took her crown away, but they asked her to reimburse them for her breast implants. Somehow, all that was my fault!
And then there's my responsibility in triggering this - Taiwanese journalists say, "I'll see your puppet theater and raise you a Tiger Woods shady husband animation extravaganza."
And Levi Johnston's New Year's resolution for 2009: start telling the truth about Sister Sarah.
OLBERMANN: It's the time of the year to appreciate those near and dear, find comfort and joy in family and friends, to make nice with the almost in-laws. But if you're Levi Keith Johnston, that last part, that might be a little tricky. Freed from the constraints of campaign life, to say nothing of the constraints of underwear, this year, Levi embarked on his own kind of campaign, one of salacious, monosyllabic interviews, shocking, ghost written tell alls, and the peddling of an assortment of nuts - pistachios. What?
Taking the high road, his ex-future mother-in-law called him Ricky Hollywood on "Oprah" and accused him of selling his body and doing porn. That alone was enough for Mr. Johnston to earn a spot among Countdown's favorites, but the lesson of Levi shouldn't be taken lightly. Sometimes it takes a 19-year-old hockey player turned nude model from Alaska to remind us revenge is a dish best served cold. And don't forget the nuts.
LEVI JOHNSTON, FATHER OF SARAH PALIN'S GRANDCHILD: No, she means a lot to me. I'd do just about anything for her. But I really don't think she's - I would vote for her if she ran for president.
OLBERMANN: Whether the engagement was real or just a stunt to spare her having to run for vice president as the mother of an unwed mother, Sarah Palin continues to discover what can happen when somebody you used as a prop starts to talk.
JOHNSTON: I mean, she is very smart. But I just don't think she can handle the stress level as governor. I don't think she can handle it as president or vice president.
OLBERMANN: Our third story on the Countdown, the governor's office went into action to respond to Palin's would-be former son-in-law, Levi Johnston, after he talked to investigative political journalist Tyra Banks.
One issue, whether the governor thought her daughter was practicing abstinence.
TYRA BANKS, "THE TYRA BANKS SHOW": She knew you guys were active.
BANKS: You think she knew?
JOHNSTON: I'm pretty sure she probably knew.
BANKS: How are you pretty sure she knew?
JOHNSTON: She's pretty smart.
BANKS: So there were just wardrobe malfunctions?
JOHNSTON: I guess.
BANKS: Yeah? Really.
JOHNSTON: I guess so.
BANKS: Every time you practiced safe sex?
BANKS: Every time?
JOHNSTON: Every time.
JOHNSTON: Most of the time.
BANKS: Most of the time. There you go.
JOHNSTON: They said I didn't live there. I stayed there. I was like, OK, whatever you want to call it. I had my stuff there, so if you want to call it staying there, that's fine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You had all your things there?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tooth brush, pajamas, stayed there every night.
JOHNSTON: For a while, yeah. So -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So they're lying.
Then after the running, she had talked about how nice it would be to take some of this money people had been offering us and just run with it.
She pretty much tried to blame everything she could on other people.
You know, if I wanted to hurt them, if I wanted to crush them, I could. That's not what I'm trying to do.
CRAIG CRAWFORD, CQPOLITICS.COM: In tonight's episode of the Wasilla Hillbillies -
OLBERMANN: How did it happen that Levi Johnston turns into a Sarah Palin whistle blower?
SARAH PALIN, FMR. GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: He goes by the name Ricky Hollywood now. So if that's the case -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did Sarah ever make any sexual advances toward you?
JOHNSTON: No, she didn't.
OLBERMANN: He and Mrs. Palin; the almost son-in-law reveals all in "Vanity Fair."
Our number one story on the Countdown, honestly, if it claimed there had been hankie pankie, it probably would have been better for the ex-governor than what Johnston actually wrote. One survivor's story of late summer and early autumn spent with Sarah Palin's flying circus. She thought her job as governor was too hard. She thought she was running for president. She wanted to keep her daughter's pregnancy a secret. And perhaps worst of all, she doesn't hunt for her own food, so she makes her kids go fetch Crunch Wrap Supremes from Taco Bell.
And the politics of pistachios.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now Levi Johnston does it with protection.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let's just get this one out of the way. Turns out pistachios aren't the only nuts Levi Johnston is selling. Ha, ha, ha. Number one story, Sarah Palin's ex-future son-in-law will pose for "Playgirl." In an effort to become the most famous model since Zoolander, Levi Johnston has already booked his next gig, centerfold in "Playgirl," an idea that Johnston has been toying with for sometime. In his last photo shoot for "Vanity Fair," Johnston said of "Playgirl," I assume it's where a dude poses for women.
What do we think they're going to - is there a motif they're going with after that Burt Reynolds, Cosmo, bear skin rug stuff that started all this as sort of a cliche' of cliches from 1972?
MICHAEL MUSTO, "THE VILLAGE VOICE": I think there will be some moose-like body parts, as well as a hint of musk ox and a soup son of cockatoo, but no beaver. I got an advance peek at it. So did Bristol.
OLBERMANN: Oh, god.
OLBERMANN: The Levi Johnston/Sister Sarah debacle was not the only high profile family drama of the year. There was, of course, the Thanksgiving golf club attack at chateaux Tiger Woods. The brilliant minds at Apple Daily took us behind closed doors to bring all the Tiger headlines to life, or something that looked vaguely like it. For us, the animation hocus pocus quickly became a Countdown favorite.
Then there was the fall of Carrie Prejean. From beauty queen to defender of opposites to ex-beauty queen, with an extensive video library that sort of spoke for itself.
OLBERMANN: On April 19, 2009, an otherwise nondescript beauty pageant contestant was asked her views on gay marriage. She said, quote, "I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other." Then she said, quote, "we live in a land where you can choose same sex marriage or opposite marriage."
Then she said, having just said it's great that Americans can choose, that Americans should not be able to choose. Which would presumably be un-great.
In the uproar that followed, Carrie Prejean soared to even higher levels of rhetorical ding-battery. The upshot, based on what her recent book has to say about the segments you're about to see, is that her right to free speech about her opinions has been violated by other people exercising free speech about their opinions. For her ability to believe and say self-contradictory things in one breath without her head exploding, Carrie Prejean is one of Countdown's favorites of 2009.
OLBERMANN: When she told Perez Hilton she believed in opposite marriage, Carrie Prejean was prayed by the right for telling truth over the tiara. But when Miss California became opposite employed, the tiara suddenly stopped looking so bad after all.
Number one story. Carrie Prejean claims religious discrimination and sues, mentioning this program and MSNBC in the lawsuit. The man at the center of the controversy is Michael Musto. To analyze his precarious position, I'll be joined in a moment by Michael Musto.
But first, Carrie Prejean has filed lawsuit against Miss California Pageant Officials, citing slander, libel, public disclosure of private facts, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and religious discrimination, all of this stretching way back to Miss Prejean's original statement on gay marriage at the Miss USA Pageant in April.
CARRIE PREJEAN, FMR. MISS CALIFORNIA: We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And, you know what, in my country, and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman.
No offense to anybody out there. But that's how I was raised, and that's how I think it should be, between a man and a woman.
OLBERMANN: Following that response, Miss Prejean was outed for using performance enhancers that the Miss California association had paid for. Topless photos of her surfaced as she discusses Satan and temptation with James Dobson. And less than a month after Donald Trump told her she could keep the crown, Miss Prejean was fired for contract violations.
Now comes a 23-page lawsuit. On top of page eight, 41, on April 30, 2009, "Prejean became the victim of a vicious attack by Michael Musto and Keith Olbermann on Olbermann's MSNBC program, during which they mocked Prejean, asserting among other vile things that she had had a sex change operation and needed a brain transplant."
If only we had some way of replaying all those vile things that were asserted in the vicious attack.
MICHAEL MUSTO, "THE VILLAGE VOICE": She sort of is like a human Klaus Barbie Doll. You tell Perez Hilton you're against gay marriage, it's like telling Simon Cowell you're against screeching a show tune. This is the kind of girl who sits on the TV and watches the sofa. She thinks the innuendo is an Italian suppository.
On the pageants now, they really should have easier questions, like what is your middle name or what show was Seinfeld on? This girl is a ding-dong. I didn't even like her earrings.
OLBERMANN: The moral in this is, what, never cross a beauty pageant official who knows you've had implants?
MUSTO: Yes, exactly, that's it. This has escalated to a public shaving. What Moakler has left out, Keith, is that they also paid for Carrie to cut off her penis, and sand her Adam's Apple, and a get head to toe waxing.
I know for a fact that Carrie Prejean was Harry Prejean, a homophobic man who liked marriage so much he did it three times. Now he's a babe who needs a brain implant. Maybe they could inject some fat from her butt? Oh, they have?
OLBERMANN: I didn't like her earrings. Joining me now, tonight's legal analyst, Michael Musto. How does it feel to be mentioned in a Carrie Prejean lawsuit? Is there pride, mixed with a kind of apprehension, mixed with a kind of what took her so long?
MUSTO: I'm thrilled, Keith. Not since last year, when Jackie Harry (ph) covered her face when she saw me have I gotten this kind of attention. I'm thrilled that she watches this show, not "Dora the Explorer" or "Real Housewives."
OLBERMANN: She has a book coming out in November. Presumably the lawsuit keeps her in the spotlight until then. Are you expecting that you will be - if you're in the lawsuit, will you be in the book?
MUSTO: I better be in the book. I actually got a sneak peek at the manuscript and she only refers to some guy who should not get married to opposite people, and also shouldn't wear polyester blend, because that's against the Bible, too. I consider that a mention.
OLBERMANN: And the end of Carrie Prejean. A sex tape from little miss preservation of marriage? Not same-sex, not opposite sex, just kind of mono-sex.
Carrie Prejean and the Miss California Pageant have these dueling lawsuits. She wanted a million dollars for wrongful dethroning. The pageant sought reimbursement for Prejean's breast implants. The sides appeared headed for court until, according to TMZ.com, pageant attorneys played, with Prejean and her lawyers present, an X-rated video of a woman engaged in some kind of sex.
The former beauty queen, confused, reportedly said, that's disgusting. Then the camera panned to reveal the face of the woman, and it was Carrie Prejean. Guess she forgot.
Red faced and caught red handed, so to speak, Prejean's demands changed from a million dollars to covering her legal fees. If she covered her legal fees, none of this would have happened.
Carrie Prejean goes on NBC and calls out me?
PREJEAN: If Sean Hannity went out there and said some of the things that Keith Olbermann has said about me - you know, if he said anything about Sonia Sotomayor or Michelle Obama, he would be off the air.
OLBERMANN: Hey, lady, first, you're not Sotomayor or Michelle Obama. Second, he's said worse about them than I've said about you. And, third, you made a sex tape that wound up being shown to your mother.
The free speech and first amendment rights of the dethroned Miss California Carrie Prejean have been so silenced, her freedom so denied that she's only done three national TV interviews in the last 24 hours, including one in the downstairs part of this studio.
Our number one story, did she leave any more of those personal videos hanging around?
PREJEAN: You can call it whatever you want to call it. If you want to call it a sex tape, that's fine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What would you call it?
OLBERMANN: It was me by myself. There was no one else with me. I was not having sex.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are people who say they want to call you on the carpet when they feel you're being a hypocrite. In your book you write, our bodies are temples of the lord. We should earn admiration and respect for our hearts, not for showing skin to look sexy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now people have seen this tape, whatever you want to call it, and they're saying, she's a hypocrite. She writes a book that says one thing.
PREJEAN: I'm a model. I was in a beauty pageant. I mean, if people want to call me a hypocrite, then that's their prerogative.
OLBERMANN: OK. If the tea is steady, Ms. Prejean, you're a hypocrite.
And the self destruction of Carrie Prejean, part 11 billion, the solo sex tape; she was 20 when she made it, says the guy she made it for. And it was one of many tapes.
And look what happened when Larry King tried to exercise his first amendment right to ask her about the settlement of her lawsuit.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: You took the mike off. If you put the mike on, we can hear.
PREJEAN: Yeah. I think you're being extremely inappropriate right now and I'm about to leave your show.
OLBERMANN: Look, Carrie Prejean is being silenced. Carrie Prejean's freedom of speech is being violated by that evil Carrie Prejean.
When you complain about the media trying to silence you and then you cut off your own microphone after a softball question from Larry King, you have just silenced yourself.
KING: So the agreement discusses the motive behind why each party agreed?
PREJEAN: Larry, you're being inappropriate. You really are?
PREJEAN: Larry, it was completely confidential and you're being inappropriate? OK.
KING: Inappropriate King Live continues.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of madness, do you find it ironic at all that the title of the book is "Still Standing." That, of course, is an Elton John song?
MUSTO: I heard she tried to get the rights to "Big Bottom Girls" by Queen and also "Sweet Transvestite" from Rocky Horror Show. She couldn't get the rights, so she went with a more mainstream gay artist. I'm leaving. This is inappropriate.
OLBERMANN: No, no. I'm leaving, it's inappropriate.
MUSTO: Let's both go. Let's go read her book.
OLBERMANN: That would be great television. Guest and host both walk off.
OLBERMANN: From the many cell phone videos of Carrie Prejean to the many alleged indiscretions of Tiger Woods. We're pretty sure when Woods was meeting up with all those ladies, he never dreamed that the text messages would become public. We're absolutely positive he never dreamed that his trysts would become a kind of celebrity meltdown version of "Toy Story." Countdown favorites 2009 pays tribute to the high tech art of Apple Daily.
OLBERMANN: Thanksgiving weekend is supposed to be known as the official start of the holiday shopping season. This year, however, it actually triggered something new: the 12 days of mistress. The squeaky clean image of Tiger Woods came crashing down when he crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant outside his own home.
What started as a disagreement of some sort with his wife, allegedly over another woman, has turned, instead, into a parade of other, other, other women coming forward. To illustrate the headlines, Countdown could have called upon our trusty journalistic tool that we call puppet theater. But the news gods of Taiwan trumped us. They turned to computer generated animation. Not just any animation. They used news motion.
Our hats off to the folks at Apple Daily for turning the tabloid Tiger headlines into works of art.
OLBERMANN: Depending on whose reporting you trust, the marriage of Tiger Woods is between six and ten women over par. But his wife has reportedly taken a powder, if not a mulligan, and moved out of their home in Florida. Our number one story, "Radar Online" reporting Elin Woods is living in another house nearby, but his people are trying to keep it quiet, because, quote, "they don't want any publicity about what is going on in the marriage. Yes, that's working well."
No publicity, just a team of Taiwanese animators, working around the clock in shifts, having pumped out three more of their mini-masterpieces. Using Sims like style of animation and a liberal interpretation of facts and gossip, Apple Daily last week produced its first video, title translating as "Woods, Broken Windows at Night to Save His Wife Crash, Shady Husband."
The three new creations include the newspapers own translations from Mandarin to English, kind of English. Here now, a selection from the third animation: "Tiger Woods' Lover Number Three Exposed." We're not saying any of this is exactly true. We think of it more as art.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tiger Woods is facing the biggest challenge of his love. Tabloids have exposed a third lover, Vegas club executive Kalika Muqueen (ph). She was a very influential person of the city. The relationship happened when Elin was pregnant.
They met regularly and were seen publicly. Woods was also seen at the VIP part of a bar, with girls on either side, and hand sup their skirts. Reports said lover number two, Jaimee Grubbs, not only bragged to friends about the relationship, but also played the voicemail.
TIGER WOODS, PGA GOLFER: Can you please take your name of your phone? my wife went through my phone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see it as anonymous phone call.
OLBERMANN: Unanimous phone call. Well, if it's ten women, maybe it was a unanimous phone call. We continue with the animated tale of the prenup.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to "US Weekly," the settlement is over 30 million. Sources say Elin asked for revision short of the ten year limitation, and Woods has agreed, but has already transferred million of dollars into her account.
The couple has also begun intense marriage counseling at home.
OLBERMANN: That was intense. As you saw, Woods got a free Michael Jordan shoe phone with his subscription to "Sports Illustrated."
I know what you're saying. What about alleged lover number one?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alleged lover number one, Rachel Uchitel, canceled a scheduled press conference on Thursday. Sources say Uchitel lawyer was bargaining on the phone with Woods, and finally agreed to a million dollars to keep quite.
OLBERMANN: As you saw just there, apparently that was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brokering the deal. It was apparently supposed to be attorney Gloria Allred.
Luckily, thanks to Apple Daily, we now know exactly what happened before the crash. Allegedly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uchitel saved hundreds of Woods' messages with highly sexual nature. The two were texting before the accident. Elin questioned Woods and tried to grab the phone. During the struggle, the phone was broken, and so was the vestibule of the house. That's why Woods refused to let the police.
OLBERMANN: I broke my vestibule. Refused to let him in, like a hockey goalie. No soup for you, officer. As for the post-accident blow by blow, Apple Daily has portrayed this before, but not with as much detail, and not with the neighbors who sleep in their day clothes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: US tabloids also report that, according to Woods' neighbor, Adams, about 2:30 am, right after the car crash, his sister heard a commotion and saw the car light shining in. Adams was awake and went outside, and saw Woods lying next to the car, and Elin was talking to him. Woods was unconscious and snoring.
OLBERMANN: Unconscious and snoring. I would have paid to see that. Back to that prenup. In the fourth video from Apple Daily, "Woods Break the Bank to Keep Lovers Quiet," we learn more about the alleged prenup settlement and about the mother of Tiger Woods and what she was doing during all of the sexy time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Woods agreed to pay Elin five million dollars. If she stayed for two more years, she will be paid 55 million more, and must pretend to be still in love and not disclose anything to the public. If she stays for seven years, she will be paid 75 million.
Rumors said the rift between Elin and mom is the reason breaking the marriage, because Woods' mother demanded to build her a mansion next door, so Elin insisted to separate the house by water.
Last month, when Woods met Uchitel secretly in Australian hotel room, Woods mom was standing right downstairs.
OLBERMANN: Enjoying dinner, mother? Apparently, Mrs. Woods is a witch. The latest bombshell comes to us via a UK tabloid called "The News of the World." A waitress from a Perkins Restaurant in Orlando revealed steamy details of her alleged affair with the world's number one golfer. Unfortunately, Apple Daily hasn't translated this video yet, but I did my best.
Long cool woman in a red dress. Tiger meets Mindy at Perkins, high class style restaurant. He phones in order, has visions of red mushrooms. He asks her back to his place or another restaurant maybe.
MINDY LAWTON, ALLEGED TIGER WOODS MISTRESS: He texted me constantly and he would call me regular will. Every time he would contact me, it was for sex.
OLBERMANN: Some people look better as animated figures. I don't know what she's doing here, but it looks like she needs a shower. This they now do. They have relations all over the place, in his house, but never Tiger's bed, which is queen sized and located in a large closet.
First of all, clearly, the animation team has never been to a Perkins restaurant. Second, Mindy Lawton claims she and Woods were romantic all over the house, yes, in the shower, just not in his bed, which is queen sized and located in a large closet. Ms. Lawton's story continues.
Mindy says something about Tiger's wife, who suddenly getting an X over her face, possibly H1N1. Tiger makes public appearances, adoring crowds, then the spanky spanky. Tiger has thought bubble about underwear he wants her to wear, or maybe it's about Annika Sorenstam. Text messages in, order to restaurant. Van starts a rocking.
So, she helped him change a tire? Oh, you mean - oh.
Night of crash, Tiger didn't feel so hot. This is pill of Vicodin.
Ouch, ouch, I fell on my keys. Tiger Woods and wife check into hospital. Woods using clever name to hide celebrity, William Smith. Police wonder, now there are two pills of Vicodin.
Seriously, you want to remain anonymous, so you check into the hospital as Will Smith. Another tip if you want to remain anonymous, do not take pictures of yourself that might end up in "Playgirl."
Anonymous woman has naughty photo. Look at naughty photo go into lady's ponytail. Tiger Woods takes picture. That looks good. We can sell this. There is much rejoicing.
Dude, Levi Johnston is going to be so upstaged.
OLBERMANN: Here is hoping in 2010 that you and your loved ones don't find yourself the subject of an Apple Daily extravaganza.
A big thank you to our other favorites. You, our viewer, we appreciate your support in watching. We also appreciated your amazing financial support of the free health care clinics this year. We wish you a happy and healthy new year.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END