updated 1/2/2006 10:04:02 AM ET 2006-01-02T15:04:02

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  The year 2005, 365 more days that didn‘t seem real then, and don‘t seem real now.

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OLBERMANN:  I want all of you to get up out of your chairs...

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OLBERMANN:  The Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar, and the news gods bring us what?  A hermaphrodite rooster that lays yolk-free eggs.  That‘s the kind of year it‘s been, 2005, the year of the exit from escaping the press...

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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I was trying to escape.

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OLBERMANN:  ... to escaping a wedding.

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OLBERMANN:  You look at that and say, is she going to run or do something?

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OLBERMANN:  From no escape from questions...

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SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  Again, David, this is a question relating to an ongoing investigation...

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OLBERMANN:  ... to a thriller of an escape from the child molestation charges.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Find the defendant not guilty...

not guilty...

not guilty...

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OLBERMANN:  Two thousand and five, the year of the other woman, from superstar switches...

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OLBERMANN:  Kid, pail, shovel, an actor, and an actress.  Case closed. 

She‘s a hussy.

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OLBERMANN:  ... to the justice juggle.

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OLBERMANN:  White House counsel Harriet Miers, nominated by President Bush...

Harriet Miers has withdrawn her name from consideration...

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OLBERMANN:  And from detested...

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DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES:  There were three of us in this marriage.

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OLBERMANN:  ... to becoming the duchess.

Also, the year Tom Cruise put couches in the headlines from Oprah‘s to the psychiatrist‘s.

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TOM CRUISE:  You don‘t even—you‘re glib.  You don‘t even know what Ritalin is.

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OLBERMANN:  The year investigations led to opportunities, Tom DeLay‘s tutorial on how to take a mug shot, Scooter Libby‘s success turning an indictment into increased sales for his novel with bestiality in it.

Two thousand and five, the year COUNTDOWN took a Popsicle stick and changed the face of journalism—the cardboard face of journalism.

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OLBERMANN:  Ooh, I have a flulike symptom.

BUSH:  Need some wood?

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OLBERMANN:  A year where we offered no apologies for how we cover the news.  Well, except for that one time.

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OLBERMANN:  I have sinned against you.

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OLBERMANN:  And if you thought that was a sin, this is COUNTDOWN‘s Favorite Things of 2005.

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HOWARD DEAN, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE:  You can‘t play hide-the-salami.

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OLBERMANN:  Welcome.  This is our second annual tribute to the simple fact that, amid all the real news each night, in the past year, we sure needed the laughs.  When we‘re really lucky every night here on COUNTDOWN, the two collide.

And we begin at the nexus of world-shaking import and side-splitting comedy, Washington, D.C., hello.

Where else could a Supreme Court nomination include discussions about public scatology?  Where else could the indictment of a White House official turn into a frenzy to buy the crazy-ass book he wrote, full of pedophilia, grave-robbering, and bears, oh, my?

And where else could a White House press secretary survive an entire year without saying almost anything?

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MCCLELLAN:  Our policy continues to be that we‘re not going to get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation from this podium.

JOHN ROBERTS, NBC NEWS:  What did you change your mind to say that it was OK to comment during the course of an investigation before, but now it‘s not?

MCCLELLAN:  This is all relating to questions about an investigation. 

And I‘ve been through this.

DAVID GREGORY, ABC NEWS:  Did Karl Rove commit a crime?

MCCLELLAN:  Again, David, this is a question relating to an ongoing investigation.

GREGORY:  I mean, this, I mean, this is ridiculous.  You‘ve got a public record out there.  Do you stand by your remarks from that podium, or not?

MCCLELLAN:  And again, David, I‘m well aware, like you, of what was previously said.

OLBERMANN:  It‘s described as the story of a young Japanese man who runs a remote mountain inn and gets caught up in a world of intrigue.  Well, there‘s intrigue, and then there‘s, well, bestiality.  There‘s a lot of bestiality in Mr. Libby‘s novel.  Sure, we all know already about the passage about the bear and the girl.

Quote, “The young samurai‘s mother had the child sold to a brothel, where she swept the floors and oiled the women.  At age 10, the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons.  They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest.  Groups of men paid to watch.

“Like other girls who had been trained this way, she learned to handle many men in a single night, and her skin turned a milky white.”

OK.  But what happened to the bear?

MCCLELLAN:  Again, this is getting into where someone is engaged in a blame game.  We‘ve got to...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE)?

MCCLELLAN:  No, I‘m just not going to engage in the blame game or fingerpointing that you‘re trying to get me to engage in.

GREGORY:  Not at all what I was asking.

MCCLELLAN:  Sure it is.

GREGORY:  Well...

MCCLELLAN:  It‘s exactly (INAUDIBLE).

GREGORY:  ... think about the blame game, you‘ve said enough now.

MCCLELLAN:  And what you‘re doing is trying to engage in this game of fingerpointing.  If you want to continue to engage in fingerpointing and the blame game, and that‘s fine.

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GREGORY:  ... that‘s ridiculous.  I‘m not engaging (INAUDIBLE)...

MCLELLAN:  We‘re not...

GREGORY:  ... (INAUDIBLE).  I‘m not engaging (INAUDIBLE)...

MCCLELLAN:  It‘s not ridiculous.

GREGORY:  ... don‘t...

MCCLELLAN:  No, no.  Everybody that watches this knows, David, that you‘re trying to engage in the blame game.

GREGORY:  (INAUDIBLE)...

MCCLELLAN:  And look, you can keep showboating for the cameras...

(INAUDIBLE) her qualifications...

OLBERMANN:  Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, Harriet Miers is a man-killer.  Yes, behind that seemingly bland exterior beats a rather potent heart, apparently, one capable of besting the competition, not only professionally, but also personally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE) that my day job as an anagrammatist,

and so I took Harriet Miers‘ name, and I broke it down, and found that it‘s

there are different clues to her personality.  Harriet Miers is an anagram for “a hermit riser,” which could be many things.  But it means that she can really bring anyone to life.  She‘s a hermit riser.

It‘s also anagram for “trashier mier,” which means that she could make the Supreme Court an even saucier place than it‘s already been, even trashier.

OLBERMANN:  And then there‘s the Harriet Miers route, which we learned today included a birthday card to the future president who would nominate her that read, “Dear Governor G.W.B., you are the best governor ever.”  The admiration apparently mutual, Governor Bush writing back to with Ms. Miers a happy 52nd birthday, telling her to “Never hold back your sage advice,” ending with the postscript—and this is where it gets weird—“No more public scatology.”

You heard me, “scatology.”  You don‘t think it‘s some sort of jazz or blues reference, as in the study of the scat singing style of Louis Armstrong?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Scott, he defended Al Gonzales without even being...

MCCLELLAN:  I‘ll come to you in a second.  I‘ll come to you in a second.  Go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE)...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, he defended Al Gonzalez without ever being asked.

HELEN THOMAS:  Can we get a straight answer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can we ask the questions and you provide the answers?

MCCLELLAN:  Yes, and I was providing the answer.  Can I not say what I want to say?

OLBERMANN:  You may love him or you may hate him, but you‘re going to go crazy over his mug shot.  Former House majority leader Tom DeLay, already indicted, already deploying counter-prosecutor chafflike measures, and today turning himself in and making art.

Oh, Mr. DeLay seeming to forego all mug-shot conventional wisdom by embracing the portraiture opportunity.  Check out the wide smile, the rosy glow, the button on the lapel.  Not a hair out of place.

Should the congressman still be searching for a 2005 Christmas card photo, this could easily make the short list, which would tie in nicely if the DeLay family holiday newsletter is to include a criminal prosecution paragraph.

We never thought we‘d say this, but right here, right now, at the historic moment of his induction, Tom DeLay is, without a doubt, the snazziest-looking member of the COUNTDOWN Mug Shot Hall of Fame.

Say, six-figure exterminating contract.  Mr. Delay joining a suspicious-looking cast of characters, no matter what the eventual verdict may have been.  Take former colleague James Traficant, his hairpiece asked for and received a separate trial.

Hair, no doubt a sore subject with this suspect.  Apparently he was caught halfway through getting his do done.

This gentleman, charged with abusing harmful intoxicants, we‘re guessing—just guessing—that the can of gold Rustoleum spray paint they found with him had something to do with it.

The eyes always telling us everything needed to know about the runaway bride, Jennifer Wilbanks.  Cable news celebrity has been built on much less, my friend.

And from our celebrity-celebrity file, two standouts, the DeLay mug shot, failing to achieve the Puppet Theater potential of one Michael Joe Jackson.

And last but never, ever least, Nick Nolte, still the yardstick against which all mug shots will be measured forevermore.

Many thanks to our friends at the SmokingGun.com.

OLBERMANN:  In Beijing over the weekend, as President Bush added another exhibit to what has to be his wing of what could be a Hall of Fame of Political Bloopers --  Not that door, sir.  That door‘s locked.  Don‘t pull on that door.  Fire alarm will go off.  Chinese police will be alerted, sir.

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OLBERMANN:  Wait a minute.  The Hall of Fame of Political Bloopers? 

That gives me an idea.  The COUNTDOWN Hall of Fame of Political Bloopers. 

Roll ‘em.

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RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  My fellow Americans, I‘m pleased to tell you today that I‘ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever.  We begin bombing in five minutes.

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL (singing):  Let the eagle soar, like she‘s never soared before.  From rocky coast to golden shore, let the mighty eagle soar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Those close to Reagan say he genuinely likes Bush and appreciates his loyalty.  Bush sometimes gets carried away, expounding on his relationship with the president.

GEORGE G.W. BUSH, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We‘ve had triumphs.  We made some mistakes.  We‘ve had some sex—setbacks.  Sometimes I feel like the—sometimes I felt like a javelin competitor who won the coin toss and elected to receive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What did Senator Obama do that Senator Kerry and other Democrats not do?

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Why don‘t we just ask Osama bin Laden—I say Osama, Obama—Obama what (INAUDIBLE) since he won by such a big amount?

Seriously, Senator Obama is really unique and special.  I don‘t know him terribly well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Kennedy, at the height of his popularity, praised the Berliners gathered at city hall for standing up to the communists, in words which still ring today.

JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  As a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

DEAN:  Not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin, we‘re going to South Carolina, and Oklahoma, and Arizona, and North Dakota, and New Mexico.  We‘re going to California and Texas and New York.  And we‘re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan.  And then we‘re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House.  Yeah!

TERESA HEINZ KERRY:  You said something I didn‘t say.  Now, shove it.

BUSH:  We‘ve had some discussion with key members of the defense team about a variety of subjects.  We talked about Iraq.  We‘re making progress on the ground.  We were...

LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Now, another thing, the crotch, down where your (BLEEP) hang, is always a little too tight, because they cut me.  See if you can‘t leave me about an inch from where the zipper (BELCH) ends, around under my—back to my (BLEEP).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Bush returns to the issues debate after an embarrassing moment on the stump Monday in front of an open microphone.

BUSH:  There‘s Adam Clymer, major league (BLEEP) from “The New York Times.”

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Oh, yes, he is, big-time.

BRYANT GUMBEL, NBC NEWS:  We are continuing to monitor developments in Tokyo, where this morning the president was taken ill.  And there, as you can see, he collapsed while seated at the banquet table.

DAN QUAYLE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Spell that, spell again.  Add one little bit on the end.  Potato, how does that (INAUDIBLE)?  There you go.

BUSH:  We got issue in America.  Too many good docs are getting out of business.  Too many OB-GYNs aren‘t able to practice their love with women all across this country.

There‘s an old saying in Tennessee, I know it‘s in Texas, probably in Tennessee, that says, Fool me once—shame on—shame on you.  Fool me—can‘t get fooled again.

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OLBERMANN:  From political exit strategies to wedding exits.  The runaway bride, helping Martha Stewart put the afghan back in vogue, and headlining a year of bizarre relationship news.

And release the doves.  The big legal story of this year, the acquittal of Michael Jackson on child molestation charges.

You are watching COUNTDOWN‘s Favorite Things of 2005 on MSNBC.

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OLBERMANN:  Sometimes the stories on COUNTDOWN are not of my own choosing, not more than eight or nine a night, though, on a show that ostensibly only has five stories.

I call them the ones my producers force me to do.  And they tend to be about celebrities and what they see as love, and the rest of us see as a reminder that even off-screen actors are acting.

From royal wedding gaffes to couch-jumping superstars, to a missing bride who seemingly everybody but me thought had been kidnapped, 2005, from the file labeled What‘s Love Got to Do with It?

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TOM CRUISE:  The premier, we wanted here in France, because it‘s beautiful and it‘s romantic, and, yes, I proposed to Kate last night.

OLBERMANN:  It‘s the story that just keeps on giving.  It gives my producers fits of glee, it gives me agida.

OPRAH WINFREY:  We‘ve never seen you behave this way before.

CRUISE:  I know.

WINFREY:  Have you ever felt this way before?

OLBERMANN:  Tom Cruise went off on Matt Lauer this morning.

(CROSSTALK)

MATT LAUER, HOST, “TODAY”:  (INAUDIBLE)...

CRUISE:  (INAUDIBLE), Matt, (INAUDIBLE), Matt, I,  Matt...

LAUER:  (INAUDIBLE)...

CRUISE:  ... Matt, (INAUDIBLE), Matt, I (INAUDIBLE)--Matt, I‘m asking you a question.  You don‘t know the history of psychiatry, I do.

Matt, Matt, you don‘t even—you‘re glib.  You don‘t even know what Ritalin is.

WINFREY:  I‘ve never seen you like this.

OLBERMANN:  If Tom Cruise doesn‘t calm down soon, somebody‘s going to go after him, probably with an elephant tranquilizer gun.

Tom Cruise and his fiancee, Katie Holmes, are expecting a baby.  No, their own.  They‘re not sitting there waiting for cousins to stop by with a newborn.

KATIE HOLMES:  We‘re so excited.  It‘s amazing.  It‘s (INAUDIBLE). 

And there‘s so much excitement going on, it‘s (INAUDIBLE) exciting.

OLBERMANN:  Hold on a second.

Blaaaaahh.

I‘m going to traipse around this next question delicately.  Is Tom Cruise a father?  Artificial insemination, immaculate conception, neighborhood volunteer, pizza delivery boy...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Tom is totally the father.  He is not MIA, he is the top gun.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, in the immortal words of Howard Dean tonight on “HARDBALL,” we‘re not playing hide-the-salami here.

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston have just separated.  But Linda Tripp has just gotten married.

Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, to quote the comedian Louis Anderson, What the hell kind of world are we living in?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It‘s romantic in a very weird way.

OLBERMANN:  Here it is, the smoking gun.  A kid, a pail, a shovel, and actor, and an actress.  Case closed.  She‘s a hussy.  He‘s a guy.  And more truly than would film of them romping naked down Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, shots of Pitt and Jolie, with Jolie Jr., indicate she‘s his girlfriend.

And Mrs. Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, who filed for divorce a month ago yesterday, did not jump, she was pushed.  Hey, any man will tell you, if the son is there too, this is—the woman is going for the ring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, the kid is safer there than at Neverland,

OK?

OLBERMANN:  Oh, that‘s a great finish.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It‘s the discovery of two strangers.

OLBERMANN:  We‘re finishing tonight with another edition of Stories the Producers Made Me Cover.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It‘s all the heat and passion of a stranger...

OLBERMANN:  Have you sensed yet that I‘m doing tonight‘s number-one story under protest?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... that hot, drunken, wild sexy night with a stranger.

OLBERMANN:  Keep your knees loose.  Thank you, producers, for making me do that story.

Good night and good luck.

OLBERMANN:  Previously on “Desperate Royal Housewives:...

DIANA:  Well, there were three of us in this marriage.  So it was a bit crowded.

PRINCE CHARLES:  (INAUDIBLE) in love (INAUDIBLE).

QUEEN ELIZABETH:  It has turned out to be an annus horribilis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE).

OLBERMANN:  Their love burned for 30 years.  Now, on the eve of their wedding, dark forces are gathering.  Will his mother (INAUDIBLE)?  What about his ex-wife‘s brother, Earl?  And who‘s minding the castle?  On “Desperate Royal Housewives.”

So, everything should be fine now.  They‘re getting married on April 9, the anniversary of the day the Beatles split up, and the day the “Titanic”‘s officers came aboard ship.

Previously on “Desperate Royal Housewives,” the royal marriage, take two.  On the surface, it looked picture-perfect.  But underneath her designer gown, did Camilla have cold feet?  Did the queen forget the cardinal rule of Great Britain, the stiff upper lip?  And did the guests realize that short skirts plus shuttle buses equals diapers?  Next, on “Desperate Royal Housewives.”

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s great.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

OLBERMANN:  I don‘t mean to judge a book by its cover, but those photos of this woman, I don‘t know how recent they are.  There‘s just a feeling about those shots with her eyes sort of bugging out, that you look at that and say, Is she going to run, or do something?

Sentenced to 120 hours of community service for having lied to the police, the infamous runaway bride served a portion of that sentence in public today.  Wilbanks, wearing an orange vest and a hat that reads “Life Is Good,” but what skill she lacked in lawn mowing acumen, she more than made up with her unique weed-killing ability.

Oh, that‘s a lawsuit.  I knew she could do that.

There‘s the—apparently still a fiance, John Mason.  Here, we were advised, was once a rowdy, hard-living, dating kind of guy.  But while rededicating himself to his faith, he declared himself a born-again virgin.

As I asked on Friday night, when did they change that rule?

Do I have to file paperwork on this, or do I have to get a note signed by a clergyman, or do I just have to put my hand on the rock and say, I am a born-again virgin?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Keith, I know you‘re very interested in this kind of thing, and we can arrange it for you.  But as far as I know, there‘s no formal paperwork available yet, so --  None that I‘m aware of, anyway.  But I can arrange something for you, I‘m sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Will she show up this time?  Will he show up this time?  Will the blushing bride wear white, or just throw on the old blanket?  Find out in nine days with Wandering Eyes 2: The Return of the Runaway Bride.

MSNBC‘s special 24/7 blowout wall-to-wall unrelenting coverage begins tomorrow morning in Georgia with an unrivaled panel of experts to cover every aspect of the story.  Plus, our correspondents will be covering all the local train stations and bus depots, just in case there‘s a return to flight.

It‘s the COUNTDOWN to the return to the wedding that never happened but it gripped the nation because she ran away on a bus to Vegas, but now she‘s back, and they‘re getting married on August 12, only on MSNBC.

And most everywhere else.

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OLBERMANN:  That wedding alert was a red herring, as was the Wilbanks no-show (INAUDIBLE).  We had hopes of inducting her into our Apology Hall of Fame.  You‘ll see why she did not make the grade.

And later, how a Popsicle stick revolutionized the world of television journalism.  Well, the COUNTDOWN world of television journalism, anyway.

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OLBERMANN:  COUNTDOWN‘S Favorite Things, 2005.  The 500 days of the Michael Jackson legal saga coming to an end in June, from the ER trips to Jesusjuice, all the way to the verdict day, we‘ll reopen the COUNTDOWN Jackson Time Capsule.

And where cameras could not take you in the Jackson trial, COUNTDOWN‘S puppets did.  We‘ll take you behind the scenes in a state-of-the-art look at the making of Puppet Theater.

And the spinoff, the Red Carpet Slap (ph) Puppets, Porn Stars at D.C.

Fundraiser Puppets, and the Secrecy of Picking Up Hope (ph) Puppets.

Now, we shudder to think of covering 2005 without Popsicle sticks.

All that and more, as COUNTDOWN continues.

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OLBERMANN:  And we continue with “Countdown‘s” favorite things of 2005.  It could be said that in the two and a half years of the Michael Jackson case, the story improved with age.  Just like fine wine.  Well, Jesus juice, anyway.  Headlines so bizarre, some days we couldn‘t decide where to put our puppets.

Here now, the long national nightmare that was the Jackson trial and the journalistic genre it inspired.  Inspired as in, how the hell are we going to cover a trial without no camera?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL JACKSON, SINGER:  I‘d like to say hello to the people of Santa Maria, my friends and neighbors.

(SINGING)

JACKSON:  Do you remember the time we fell in love?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We were here today around 8:30 a.m.  Santa Barbara County sheriff‘s investigators, accompanied by investigators from the Santa Barbara County District Attorney‘s office served a search warrant as a part of an ongoing criminal investigation.  This address is commonly referred to as the Neverland Ranch.

OLBERMANN:  The network Court TV is reporting the actions were taken after unspecified charges from a 12-year-old boy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  An arrest warrant for Mr. Jackson that has been issued on multiple counts of child molestation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jackson himself, I believe, has said that this was all done to try to ruin his new CD that was coming out or whatever it is he‘s doing.  Like the sheriff and I really are into that kind of music.  But.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I have to tell you, Keith, it‘s essentially boiled down to almost like Elvis sightings at the airport.

OLBERMANN:  We are awaiting the first ever perp moon walk.

The media circus has begun.

(SINGING)

JACKSON:  Wanna be starting something.  You got to be starting something.  I said you wanna be starting something, you got to be starting something.

OLBERMANN:  Michael Jackson‘s flying circus.  The judge wraps his knuckles for showing up late to his own arraignment, but for the  defendant, this was one giant love in, preserved for posterity by his own camera man.

(SINGING)

JACKSON:  The way you make me feel, you really turn me  good.

OLBERMANN:  Jackson arrived 40 minutes early this morning for his arraignment in a Santa Maria courtroom adorned in a suit and tie and wearing what looked like prescription glasses.

(SINGING)

JACKSON:  I‘m starting with the man in mirror.  I‘m asking him to change his ways.  And no message could have been any clearer.  If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself then make a change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Michael, you do understand that if you‘re not here by 9:35, the judge will put you in jail.  And he will forfeit your bond of $3 million.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s a miracle.  I‘ll be right over, Mr.

Mezmo.  Tito, get me some jammies.

OLBERMANN:  So now it‘s time for everybody else‘s nausea, the trial.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Jackson gave him and his brother  alcohol. 

And the Jackson called the wine “Jesus juice”.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The Jesus juice, the alcohol in the soda bottles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The Jesus juice in the Coke cans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Interpretive readings from porn magazines, toast the audience with Jesus juice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  A lot of porn apparently taken out of Neverland.  Can‘t even mention most of the titles.  I think “Barely  Legal” is about the only magazine that we can actually mention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hustler and Playboy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you attempt to watch pornography?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  There was pornography.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He had pornography all over his house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Pornography.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I look at girlie magazines.  Woo, hoo, hoo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She is Michael Jackson‘s ex-wife, mother of his two eldest children.  And now Debbie Rowe has taken the stand as a key witness in the case against him.

OLBERMANN:  Only at the Michael Jackson trial, the word ‘whacko‘ finally comes up on the record.

It‘s used by Larry King, who winds up not testifying after all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m a comedian in my mid 50s.  I‘m not Batman, one of several Jay Leno lines in court today, which didn‘t get a laugh from audience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They‘ll be no more witnesses or testimony in the Michael Jackson case.  It‘s over.

OLBERMANN:  A juror of Jackson‘s peers, well, four guys and eight girls will decide whether the superstar walks free or goes to the clink.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Now more than ever, there is a chance, a good chance that Michael may be convicted.

OLBERMANN:  It has claimed Jackie Stallone, Sylvester‘s mother, owner of noted psychic dogs.  “He is totally innocent.  I got a flash.  He‘s going to come out of this stronger than ever.  This all came to me like a lightning bolt.”

Lightning bolt, huh?  Now I understand everything.

The promise notice to the world of an hour before the verdicts were read came at about 3:34 p.m. Eastern time, 12:34 in Santa Maria.  Jackson then left Neverland Ranch, passing briefly passed supporters who have locked arms in a kind of cross between we are the world and hands across America.

One fan outside actually released a dove each time the court recorder spoke the words not guilty.  14 doves would be released.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We, the jury in the above entitled case, find the defendant not guilty of lewd act upon a minor child as charged in count 4 of the indictment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I disliked it intensely when she snapped her fingers at us.  That‘s when I thought don‘t snap your fingers at me, lady.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  He was acquitted of everything, except the Enron stock case.

And so at 5:14 p.m. Eastern, 2:14 Pacific, it all ended.  Or did it?  On the theory that the Michael Jackson trial is not really over until the last fat puppet sings, we‘ll decide when it‘s over.

One dramatic last blast from the cheapest puppet show this side of the North Korean government.  But first, the best of Michael Jackson puppet theater.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ooh, I have a flu-like symptom.  What happened?  Oh, I remember.  It was yesterday.  Grrrr.  Don‘t take me to the courtroom.  I need a doctor and Ernie Geller.

Yes, I remember now.  I got sick.  I better go to the window and wave to NBC.  Woo, hoo, hoo.

I know.  I know.  I‘m late again, but I do not feel well.  Then we had to meet here because my lawyer, Mr. Mesereau and I needed privacy.  What?  You thought I liked meeting men in bathrooms?

It‘s amazing how people misinterpret things.  I mean, that testimony about the head licking.  I only lick children‘s heads to help them stay clean.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hello?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hello?  Jesse Jackson.  It‘s me.  Michael Jackson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Michael?  Let us pray that on this day, at this hour, before I rise to take a shower, I will remember to call the phone company so I can get me some caller ID.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Today‘s jury appreciation week treat is carrot cake.

CROWD:  Yea!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, no.  My chimpanzee housekeeping staff has escaped.  And they love carrot cake.  They‘re very smart. Their DNA is identical to humans when you look under a microscope. And I‘ve been doing that a lot lately.

Woo, hoo, hoo.

Did you hear my interview yesterday?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You said, feed me.  Hand feed me at times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  Now you‘ll be haunted by that image for weeks.  Woo, hoo, hoo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Judge, hello.  What‘s your question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. King, tell me exactly what you could tell the jury about the defendant, Michael Jackson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Michael Jackson?  A star among stars.  For my money, one of the world‘s great stamp collectors.  And he uses Garlique, proven to reduce cholesterol levels by 25 points.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Culkin, you say that Mr. Jackson never touched you, that the accusation is completely ridiculous, that you never saw him bother any other child?  What would your reaction be then to all these witnesses here who say they saw him touching you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ah!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Man, that was predictable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jury is dismissed with the court‘s thanks. 

Mr. Jackson, you are free to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Congratulations, Michael.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank goodness.  What a relief.  Now I can remove this stupid mask.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Tito.  Hand me a loofah.  Whoa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Woo, hoo, hoo.  Woo, hoo, hoo.  Woo, ho, hoo. 

Woo, hoo, hoo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Woo, hoo, hoo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Woo, hoo, hoo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There‘s something wrong with my woo, hoo, hoo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  We are not alone in the fascination with puppets.  They struck a chord with America.  The evidence?  Well, our originals did go for top dollar on the Internet.  And there was a documentary about  the puppets, hosted by the narrator of “Behind the Music”.  Of course we asked him to be the narrator of the documentary.  Stop nitpicking.

And it‘s hard to say I‘m sorry, but how about doing it in the glare the media‘s spotlight?  The best apologies of all time coming up, as  “Countdown‘s” favorite of 2005 continues.

But first, here‘s a look at “Countdown‘s” top three sound bites from a day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Okay.  That‘s it.  That‘s it.  All right.

MICHAEL TYSON, BOXER:  I was at my worse self.  I‘m just so happy that—I‘m happy again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  How‘s everybody feeling?  Better be careful.  The people behind you are really hungry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What‘s happening here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let‘s serve some chow here.  The President‘s wasting away to nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let‘s go Mesereau, let‘s go.

CROWD:  Fight, Michael, fight!  Fight, Michael, fight!

CROWD:  Let‘s go bodyguards, let‘s go!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Guilty as charged!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, America, you love the Jackson trial, but boring sketches and scary talking heads don‘t come close to getting you into the courtroom until now.

Finally, “Countdown” with Keith Olbermann has brought America‘s love affair with celebrity trials and puppetry together in this very special TV offer.  It‘s the Michael Jackson puppet theater home starter‘s kit hand chiseled from real popsicle sticks by unskilled laborers at MSNBC.

“Countdown‘s” puppets are only the highest quality.  Just watch it slice through this ripe tomato.  You‘ll get the Jackson puppet, the Sneddon puppet, Mesereau, and the judge.  But that‘s not all.  Act now, and we‘ll throw in Bubbles, the chimp and fancy pajama Michael.  That‘s six puppets all autographed by Keith Olbermann.

Log on to ebay.com.  Search Michael Jackson puppet theater and make your bid today.

OLBERMANN:  By the way, bidding recently closed.  And when I say recently, of course I mean last May.  Apparently one of “Countdown‘s” favorite things was also one of your favorite things.

Americans got a chance to own a piece of Michael Jackson puppet theater history.  When the hammer went down, the bidding was over at $15,099.99, a profit for charity of roughly $15,099.99.

So what do you do when popsicle sticks make you that much money?  Well, first, you try to understand the mystique that is Michael Jackson puppet theater.  And then you try to make more popsicle sticks.  and then you try to duplicate it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Another inside glimpse, courtesy Michael Jackson puppet theater.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Television, the word itself implies the very elements necessary for this ubiquitous information of media.  So in the most important story of the modern age comes along.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Shocker, more drama at the Michael Jackson case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How does an award winning news team cover it when there are no pictures?  They call it puppet theater. The idea, give America what they crave, a peek inside the California courtroom where Michael Jackson is standing trial and recreate it with popsicle stick puppetry.

Mmm, popsicles.  But how does something as simple as this, become this?  The process begins, of course, with a script.

OLBERMANN:  I have really bad nightmares.  And I just wake up in the middle of the night screaming and write them down.  And then we act them out as puppet theater.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s tracked in a state of the art sound booth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I love this part.  Billy Jean.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Puppets are crafted by hand and then they‘re brought to life by a crew of 45 and the magic of television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘ll toss one in there.  Then I want you to come up and follow him in.  And then she‘s going to flush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What?  You thought I liked meeting men in bathrooms?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are there any creative differences ever?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You guys suck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, never.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Later, the project heads to post-production for sweetening and finishing touches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How important is the accuracy? How real is puppet theater?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, we‘re a news network. Facts are very important to us.  The rocks the other day that they were throwing at the lions?  Real, totally real.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But the real news didn‘t stop with Michael Jackson.  When cardinals locked themselves into the Sistine Chapel to pick a pope, there were puppets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, you got enough votes for anybody?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How many votes do you got? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK, no pope today.  Make with the white smoke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, black smoke, black smoke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That was a close one.  Woo, hoo, hoo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When stars slapped producers on red carpets and other networks won‘t sell “Countdown,” the video, there were puppets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Tell us a little bit about the movie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You don‘t know anything about the  movie?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well then, what the hell are you asking me for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I want to get your point of view.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you see the original?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I haven‘t.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What the hell kind of guy are you?  This guy‘s never seen a (bleep) original.  He‘s asking me to tell him about the picture.  He‘s standing there in his shirt and he‘s ironing. The man works for CBS.  I‘m just - I‘m embarrassed.  I like the guy. He‘s a nice guy.  A tough guy.  He wants to come on out.  He can‘t because he‘s under contract with CBS, but we‘ll meet later if you want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When a porn star goes to a Republican fundraiser in D.C., queue the puppets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK, Mary, here come the politicians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hi, Mr. Delay.  I‘m - bye.  Mr. Speaker. My name is—nice to meet you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, Mary, it‘s the big guy, the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Need some work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mary, Mary, I need your hugging.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And when we learned Anna Nicole appeared before the Supreme Court, puppets looked into the future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re hearing argument now, number 041544 making Marshall against E. Pierce Marshall.  Mr. Richland?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Chief justice, may it please the court, petitioners are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey.

(COUGHING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can I have my tip from the lap dance now?  These guy‘s a freaking genius.  And—wait.  You are the Supremes?

(COUGHING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Woo, hoo, hoo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Behind the headlines, beyond the reach of cameras, 2005 forever remembered as the year “Countdown” brought us puppets.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Special thanks to the great Jim Forbes for the use of his voice.

Hall of fame time.  Next up on “Countdown”, the art of the public apology.  Just the right mix of sincerity, tears, and working it for the camera.  Favorite things 2005 returns in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  There‘s a hall of fame for football, baseball, fresh water fishing, for rock and roll, the polka, even the ukulele, where inventors, accountants, clowns, and left-handed people.  Everybody‘s got a hall of fame.  America is obsessed with the best of the best.  And you know you‘ve arrived once somebody‘s put up a few plaques and calls it a hall.

We here on “Countdown” like to celebrate the best of the worst, those people who have done wrong, broken the law, behaved badly, or simply acted in poor taste.  And most critically, they didn‘t  get away with it.

“Countdown‘s” apology hall of fame, one of our most favorite things of 2005.

(BEGIN VIDOETAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m sorry I did it.  I‘m sorry it offended people.  And I apologize to the people that this has offended.

DAN RATHER, FORMER CBS ANCHOR:  It was a mistake. CBS News deeply regrets it.  Also, I want to say personally and  directly, I‘m sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Personally, I didn‘t think it would have offended anyone.  And you know, if it did, you know, we apologize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I am sorry.  So, so sorry.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY:  For those Iraqis who were mistreated by members of the U.S. Armed Forces, I offer my deepest apology.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I apologize to anybody that‘s been brought into this unnecessarily.

ASHLEY SIMPSON:  On a Monday, I am waiting.  Tuesday, I am fading.

I feel so bad, my band started playing the wrong song.  I had no excuse, so I thought I‘d do a hoedown.  I‘m sorry.

JANET JACKSON, SINGER:  And unfortunately, the whole thing went wrong in the end.  I am really sorry.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I know that my public comments and my silence about this matter gave a false impression.  I misled people, including even my wife.

KOBE BRYANT, BASKETBALL PLAYER:  I‘m so sorry.  I love my wife so much. 

SEN. TRENT LOTT ®, MISSISSIPPI:  In order to be a racist, you have to feel superior.  I don‘t  feel superior to you at all.  I don‘t believe any man or any woman is superior to any. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But did you always hold that view?

LOTT:  I think I did.

TONYA HARDING, FORMER SKATER:  I feel really bad for Nancy.  And I feel really lucky that it wasn‘t me. 

JAY LENO, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”:  What the hell were you thinking?

HUGH GRANT, ACTOR:  I think you know in life pretty much what‘s a good thing to do and what‘s a bad thing.  And I did a bad thing.  And there you have it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sweetheart, what do you want to be when you grow up?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Just like my daddy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Steve, let me jump in here.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER:  Yes, I have behaved badly  sometimes.  Those people that I have offended, I want to say to them I‘m deeply sorry about that.  And I apologize.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  But as some of my judgments were wrong, and some were wrong, they were made in what I believed at the time to be the best  interests of the nation.

(SINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What will I do to make you want me.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Please forgive me.  I have sinned against you, my Lord.  And I would ask that your precious blood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  And here‘s hoping that in 2006, you don‘t find yourself in the “Countdown” apology hall of fame.  Me either.

That‘s “Countdown‘s” favorite things of 2005.  I‘m Keith Olbermann.  Keep your knees loose.  Good night and good luck.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Watch Countdown with Keith Olbermann each weeknight at 8 p.m. ET

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