updated 3/8/2006 11:40:37 AM ET 2006-03-08T16:40:37

Guests: Lance Williams, Jose Canseco, Ron Gardenhire, Howard Fineman

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

The end for baseball‘s greatest slugger.

Dates, games, places of the steroids Barry Bonds took, plus the death threats he made.  One of the authors of a bombshell book and article joins us.  We‘ll get exclusive reaction as well from Jose Canseco, the man who blew the lid off baseball‘s steroid disaster.

From bogus belts to the Beltway, Jack Abramoff‘s lawyer issues an ultimatum to the judge, Delay the case again, or his the client will start spilling his guts about D.C.‘s politicians.  A cold shiver runs through Washington.

Tragedy and shock.  The prognosis was good.  She sang in public just a month ago.  Tonight, the widow of Christopher Reeve is dead from lung cancer.

And the awful moment Sunday in Arizona.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (on phone):  What‘s going on there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don‘t know.  It‘s Kirby Puckett, and he‘s—something‘s going on.  He can‘t talk, and he‘s falling down.  Please hurry.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Less than 48 hours after that 9/11 call, Kirby Puckett, baseball Hall of Famer, would be dead.  His former teammate, his friend, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, will join us.

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

Good evening from Tampa, Florida.

The death of one of baseball‘s most-beloved superstars yesterday utterly overshadowed today by what could be the death of the career of one of baseball‘s least-beloved superstars.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, while players and fans alike mourned the late Kirby Puckett, with moments of silence in the stadium in this city and a dozen others today, a bolt of figurative lightning ripped the sports atmosphere like a sheet, a magazine article, to be followed by a book, that appears to present a dugout full of smoking guns that indicate Barry Bonds, the great slugger, used steroids and other disreputable performance-enhancing drugs over the course of at least five seasons.

There is no equivocating.  Bonds, who, if he plays this year, would begin the regular season this time next month just six home runs behind the career total of the legendary Babe Ruth, just 47 behind the all-time record of Hank Aaron, is reported to have begun using steroids in 1998.

Mark Fena Ruada (ph) and Lance Williams, the investigate reporters of the “San Francisco Chronicle,” who had broken most of the steroid scandal news over the last two years, reporting that Bonds‘ personal trainer, Greg Anderson, introduced Bonds to Sonozol (ph) eight seasons ago, and, quoting, “provided the steroids and syringes and injected Bonds‘s backside, although Bonds eventually learned how to inject himself.”

Two years later, Anderson, quote, “put Bonds on Deca, the gym rats‘ name for Deca-Durabolin.  Eventually Anderson started Bonds on human growth hormone, HGH.”

The reporters chronicle no fewer than 10 different steroids and steroidlike drugs.  Their book, “Game of Shadows,” will be published later this month.  An extensive excerpt will appear in the issue of “Sports Illustrated” reaching subscribers and newsstands tomorrow.

But it details more than just what Bonds used and when.  It explains an unexpected and base motive, jealousy over the attention paid to Mark McGwire, the then-St. Louis Cardinals first baseman who broke the single-season home run record to acclaim and glory in 1998.

It also tells the involvement of—in the sad saga of steroid abuse by Bonds‘s girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, whose safety and even whose life Bonds threatened in messages left on her phone answering machine.

The tip of this artificially enlarged iceberg became exposed a little over a year ago as McGwire‘s former teammate Jose Canseco explained the pervasive and pernicious role of steroids in baseball, first in his book, “Juiced,” then before a congressional subcommittee hearing last St.  Patrick‘s Day, during and after which, many of the game‘s greatest stars and their reputations toppled over like so many dominoes.

Jose Canseco joins us exclusively in a moment.

First, one of the reporters who broke this story, Lance Williams, is kind enough to join us now.

Thank you for your time tonight, sir.

LANCE WILLIAMS:  It‘s my pleasure.

OLBERMANN:  The last time you were with us on this news hour, you told us that there were—there was other evidence besides what was in the grand jury transcripts about Bonds and steroid use.  You certainly weren‘t kidding about that.  Among all that you found, what do you feel, having looked at all this, in the most damning?

WILLIAMS:  To me, the most persuasive single piece of evidence has always been the recording of Greg Anderson, who‘s now a confessed steroid dealer, made in 2003, in which he unsuspectingly discussed for about nine minutes Bonds‘ use of banned drugs.  It is damning evidence that Bonds was using drugs at the time, and it‘s also a confession on Anderson‘s part of his 17 years of experience, I think, as he styled it, with steroids.

OLBERMANN:  On the eve of this publication of the excerpt in “Sports Illustrated” that will be out tomorrow, they already have it online, I read it this afternoon at a ballpark, others were there with jaws dropping.  Has there been reaction from Bonds in training camp with the Giants in Arizona?

WILLIAMS:  The “Chronicle” reporters there say that Bonds briefly discussed it, saying he wasn‘t going to read the article, didn‘t see any point in it, and deflected other questions.  So not much reaction at all.

OLBERMANN:  His defense, obviously, has long been that he did not suspect that he was putting anything wrong in his body.  He claimed he was using arthritis cream, taking flaxseed oil.  But what you‘ve learned pretty much establishes culpability, doesn‘t it?

WILLIAMS:  Sure.  Those were cover stories, in case anyone ever asked.  Actually, people who know Bonds say that it was absurd to think that this controlling, dominating personality would ever put anything in his body given to him by a—one of his employees without knowing exactly what it was.  And in fact, we are able to report that he even sought medical advice about the use of steroids at the time when he was considering taking them.  So, sure, he knew what he was doing.

OLBERMANN:  What he told the grand jury when he testified in the Balco case in the winter of ‘03-‘04, it does not seem to jibe in any respect with what you have reported here in this—in the magazine excerpt, and what you will be reporting in the book.  Does that, by itself, put Barry Bonds in further legal jeopardy?  My understanding was that the immunity deal he got did not extend to perjury.

WILLIAMS:  That‘s true.  All the immunity grants in the Balco case were except for perjured testimony.  I know that he wasn‘t truthful in those respects to the grand jury.  I don‘t know what the government wants to do about it.  There‘s been no sign they want to do anything about it.

OLBERMANN:  And then comes the question, does baseball want to do anything about it?  I mean, there‘s some people in the hierarchy of the sport, despite its unceasing historical ability to bury its collective head in the sand, some people must have seen this day coming, must have sensed there would be a tipping point sometime about whether or not Barry Bonds should still be permitted to play, about whether or not his records or other records should stand.  Have you gotten any reaction to these things from baseball yet, any sense of what‘s next?

WILLIAMS:  I don‘t know what baseball will do.  Only I know the experience in the past is, baseball‘s very slow to react to crisis.  They move if public opinion or the government makes them.  And I reckon it‘ll be the same this time too.

OLBERMANN:  Someone analogized this, before I did, then it occurred to me, then Tom Verducci (ph), who worked with you on the “Sports Illustrated” end of this, said the same thing, that this was much like the situation in 1989, at the same time of year, when the first news came out in a “Sports Illustrated” excerpt, about Pete Rose gambling, gambling on baseball games, and how that boil stood unlanced for six or seven months, until he was finally banned from baseball in August of that year.

Do you think this is going to resonate in the same way, even though we knew as much as we thought we knew about Barry Bonds before today?

WILLIAMS:  I think the Rose analogy is good, and I think the baseball response to Rose, appointing its own investigator to look at the situation, would be a perfectly appropriate thing to do for the credibility of the game.

OLBERMANN:  Those things, of course, don‘t always happen, when it comes to baseball.

Lance Williams of the “San Francisco Chronicle,” the co-author of the upcoming book, “The Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, Balco, and the Steroid Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports,” the excerpt in the new “Sports Illustrated.”

Great thanks for your reporting, great thanks for your time tonight, sir.

WILLIAMS:  My pleasure.

OLBERMANN:  That there now seems proof beyond the grand jury transcripts in the Bonds case, bringing an extraordinary close to the last 12 or 13 months for a former baseball star who was crucified last year, I might note, just about everywhere except on this newscast, when he accused Bonds and many other players of being on the juice, while admitting he was using it while hitting most of the 462 home runs of his 17-year career.

His name, of course, is Jose Canseco.  He‘s been kind enough to step away from a dinner tonight here in Tampa and step before one of our cameras.

Jose, good evening.

JOSE CANSECO, FORMER MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER:  Good evening.

I must start out by saying, I have to say hi to a gentleman that‘s a huge fan of mine, Mr. Bruce Rinker (ph), (INAUDIBLE) we‘re having dinner with his son here, Don Rinker.  And he was gracious enough to let me step away from the table and do this interview.

OLBERMANN:  And we appreciate it too.

All right, the reporting you know about, Bonds gradually escalated from one steroid to another, finally to these customized drugs.  He used them so constantly, even his suppliers thought he was overdoing it.  Even knowing what you know about this subject, does it surprise you how much Barry Bonds apparently used, and how recklessly he was in using it?

CANSECO:  Well, I don‘t think there‘s any information on how much he actually used or how recklessly he actually used them.  But I do know for a fact the time when he did break Mark McGwire‘s home run record directly coincided with the home run challenge we had in Vegas.

And I remember, and I think I state this in my book, where I was actually changing, I took my shirt off, and he said to me (INAUDIBLE), Damn, what the hell have you been doing?  And three months later, when he showed up to spring training, I think it was, he had gained about 30 pounds of pure muscle and broke Mark McGwire‘s home run record.

So I knew exactly, at least that year, I don‘t know if it was ‘99, that he was using steroids, for sure.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  One of the key points you made in that book, “Juiced,” last year was that a player would see what another guy was doing, obviously doing steroids, just as you just told the story, of Bonds seeing you, and get envious or jealous or curious, and start doing them himself.

And here, apparently, it is, in black and white, Bonds was angry that McGwire had broken the home run record.  Is this the dirty little secret inside this big story of steroids?  Is envy as much a part of it as anything else?

CANSECO:  Well, I don‘t know if envy and jealousy plays as much as—part of just being a competitor.  I‘ve talked to Bonds in the actual past, and he‘s an extreme competitor.  And he seemed like the type of individual that would basically grab any edge possible to make himself a better player.  And obviously he did that by using steroids.

OLBERMANN:  From the baseball point of view, what should be done about him?  What should be done about his records?  Do you suspend him?  Do you erase his records?  Do you—what would you do if it was your decision?

CANSECO:  If it were my decision, I‘d investigate major league owners, I‘d investigate their managers, I‘d investigate everyone involved except the players.

People have to understand that.  These players were just pawns.  These players were allowed to use these substances without any reprimands whatsoever, without even mentioning of the rules or laws or of certain issues that possibly happened to them.

The two culprit here—and I think eventually, when this is all said and done, there should be a huge investigation done on the owners and general managers.

OLBERMANN:  You wrote last year that you thought steroids should be legal in baseball, but regulated.  Do you think that‘s—do you still have that opinion?

CANSECO:  I‘ve actually never stated that.

OLBERMANN:  You—did you not write that it—that they could be handled safely and used safely?

CANSECO:  Not in major league baseball.  What I wrote was that if you were going to use steroids, which I really don‘t recommend it, that you would have to have a prescription, you would have to have a doctor‘s supervision, basically—obviously the prescription, because they are illegal, and you would have to monitor your system constantly, because really, we don‘t really know enough about steroids, especially in the long-term effect, to use them recklessly.

OLBERMANN:  Personal point, Jose, as I said last year, it was largely your word against Barry Bonds, your word against McGwire, against Sammy Sosa, against Rafael Palmeiro, many others.  And all this has happened to all them in the last 12 months.  Do you feel personally vindicated by these circumstances?

CANSECO:  I don‘t feel vindicated, because these players are basically taking the brunt of this responsibility.  Basically, it‘s not the players you have to look to, it‘s the owners and the organizations and the general managers, trainers, even baseball agents, who acquire these steroids for these players.

You‘ve got to understand, these players are competitors, they want to become better athletes, better players.  They‘ve basically strived for this their whole career and their whole life, even as they were children.  And all of a sudden, you get to the major league level, where the money is just phenomenal and incredible, and then you want to tell them, Listen, every edge you can possibly get, don‘t use?

What basically happened was, everyone turned their head.  It was accepted in the game of baseball.  And at times—and many times, really—owners and managers and trainers were just emphasizing, You know what?  You need to get stronger, you need to get faster, you need to gain weight, you could hit more home runs, you could get better stats.  You need to get off the DL (ph).

So these things were constantly emphasized upon us.

OLBERMANN:  Bottom line on this case, Jose, do you have any doubt that what‘s being reported is true?  Do you think Barry Bonds was a prolific user of steroids in at least five of the last seven seasons?

CANSECO:  I know he‘s definitely used steroids.  I wouldn‘t believe everything the media has to say.  I‘d hopefully give him a chance to explain himself, and really tell his side of the story.  Myself, being a victim of media for the last 20 years, I would definitely hear him out.

OLBERMANN:  Jose Canseco.  His book was called “Juiced.”  In a remarkable transformation, it has become one of baseball‘s most important historical documents, and he has became one of the game‘s truth-tellers.

Thanks again, Jose.

CANSECO:  Thank you, guys.

OLBERMANN:  There are two stories in what we call a game which tonight are transcending sport.  “Baseball,” its former commissioner, Bart Giamatti (ph), once wrote, “is designed to break your heart.”  It may have done just that to Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett.  Certainly it does to those who remembered him in the emotional farewell to the flawed hero today.

And blackmail is an ugly word, but sometimes it is the only one.  Jack Abramoff threatening to name names if a judge does not grant his attorneys another delay.  Ironic, perhaps, that word, delay.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The concept of the moment of silence has seemingly been lost.  Crowds, especially sports crowds, cheer, applaud, and even chant when asked to pay respects by simply being quiet.  Not today, not for Kirby Puckett.

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, with the only team for which he ever played, the Minnesota Twins, fighting back tears in the third base dugout, a crowd of 10,000 here in Tampa this afternoon remained utterly silent out of respect in grief for a man on whose Hall of Fame plaque is written, “A proven team leader with an ever-present smile and infectious exuberance.”

My interview with Ron Gardenhire, Puckett‘s former teammate, a coach for the Twins during Puckett‘s career, the manager who was trying to bring the 45-year-old former star back to the Twins as a coach or special instructor, in a moment.

Reaction around baseball was filled with shock, sadness, respect.  Former New York Yankees star Don Mattingly told me it was Puckett who gave him the nickname Donny Baseball, that Puckett seemed to personify the phrase “full of life.”  Former Twins pitcher and executive Bob Gebhardt (ph) observing, “There was a time when Kirby could have run for governor of the state and won, hands down.”

Kirby Puckett was taken off life support and given last rites yesterday.  He then succumbed to the effects of a massive stroke he had suffered on Sunday.

Today, the 911 calls that followed that stroke were released by authorities.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What‘s going on there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don‘t know.  It‘s Kirby Puckett, and he‘s—something‘s going on.  He can‘t talk, and he‘s falling down.  Please hurry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Ma‘am, help is on the way.  You need to stop saying that.  Is he conscious or unconscious?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He‘s conscious, but he‘s falling down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  OK.  Help is on the way.  You need to calm down-

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh, please, Daddy (ph)--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... you need to calm down so you can help him until we get there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  OK.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The spokeswoman for the Phoenix hospital where Kirby Puckett died telling the Associated Press it was his intent to have his donated.

Puckett seemed to be a man who lived to spread happiness, but had to fight all his life to attain it, especially in the aftermath of his forced premature retirement and personal problems from which friends say he never fully recovered, as those in baseball who loved him, from the dugout to the stands, will never fully recover.

Again, that eloquent true moment of silence in Tampa this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE).

TORN HUNTER, MINNESOTA TWINS CENTER FIELDER:  He was like a father, big father figure to me, a big brother.  And he kept me intact, you know, kept me straight.  So I‘m going to miss him.

Yes, always, never I was—something that was going bad or something that was going great, he was there to congratulate me or give me hell.  So I‘m going to miss that, not --  You know, he was one of the guys that inspired me and motivated me, you know.  And that‘s what I remember about Kirby Puckett, the motivation.

RON GARDENHIRE, MINNESOTA TWINS MANAGER:  We talked about over and over again how much he meant, you know, to this ball club, how good of a player he was.  But we‘ve always said, you know, if you—you just got to set around and talk to him, like you did, you realize that this was a very special person, who always lifted everybody around him.

And the charisma that he had carried over.  And him, by saying things like, you know, Jump on, I‘m carrying the team today, he did those things.  And when he said it, you knew it was going to happen.  Not too many people can do those things.

OLBERMANN:  Is it—do you think it was because he had been through so much in his own life, that he‘d come from such—you know, to use the cliche, to use the humble beginnings cliche, do you think that‘s where that part of his personality came from?

GARDENHIRE:  No doubt.  You know, whether he dodged a lot of stuff when he was growing up, and he talked about that and was open about it.  And he‘s always been very open with his, you know, life and the things he had to go through to get there.  And that‘s why he cherished them so much, being a part of a baseball team and getting to the big leagues.

And you know what?  He gave that message to people all around, about what it takes, and how hard you have to work.  And, you know, and that was what was special about him.  He touched so many lives, and people understand, and they‘re better people for him.

OLBERMANN:  You were there for the time when his career came to that sudden end.  I‘ve heard Kent Herbeck (ph) say, who is the former first baseman of the championship teams, that in some senses, he never got over that, but he had to give up the game young, and at the height of his career.

You know, you were there.  He hit the two home runs in the last exhibition game against the college team.  He could still hit, but he just couldn‘t see.  Do you think there‘s truth in that, that he never adjusted to not being able to play?

GARDENHIRE:  Well, I think he loved the game.  I know that for a fact.  And taking baseball away from him wasn‘t the best thing in the world for him, you know.  He lived his life after that.  Whether he was the same or not, I‘m not sure.  We didn‘t get to spend as much time with him.

I know when he came to the clubhouses after he had retired, it was the same.  When he came in, everybody got excited, and he always did that, so he didn‘t change in that respect.  But I‘m sure that a part of him, the baseball part of him, the life that he loved, I‘m sure that that took something out of him.

OLBERMANN:  And the clubhouse lit up, as you said, every time he came in?

GARDENHIRE:  Oh, he had stories.  And there was a constant laughter and a constant—as soon as he walked in, we all sat down, and he just took over.  And we call it hostile takeovers of the clubhouse, because it was Kirby Puckett Day, and that‘s—those are the things that you‘ll never forget.

OLBERMANN:  And Ronnie, you were hoping to bring him back?

GARDENHIRE:  We wanted to.  We were trying to get him in uniform.  And I talked to him, and he was ready, he was ready to come to spring training.  Having him stand behind the cage and laugh at guys swinging was as good as it got.  And we wanted to get him back doing that again.  And we were close.

OLBERMANN:  What a sadness.

GARDENHIRE:  That‘s the sad thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Manager Ron Gardenhire of the Minnesota Twins, remembering Kirby Puckett, who, when he died from a stroke yesterday, became the next-youngest member of baseball‘s Hall of Fame to pass away, second only to Lou Gehrig.

Also tonight, remembering another life, extraordinarily well lived, Dana Reeve.  Her fight with lung cancer is over.  Why she turned adversity into a daily lesson of love and inspiration.

And back into the shabby arenas of politics.  A new fight in the Scooter Libby trial tonight.  His lawyers and the CIA at odds.

That and more, ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  COUNTDOWN continuing tonight from Tampa, Florida, on a day of anger and tears, that in the microcosm of life that is baseball.  We need this break even more than usual.

Let‘s play Oddball.

We take great pride in being the first program to bring you strange clips and so-called viral videos in our award-winning segment, weird stuff we found on the Internets.  We found the awards on the Internets too.

There‘s really something organic about these little slices of reality out there in cyberspace, free from the bonds of commercial TV.  So it really grinds our gears when some huge corporation makes a video to promote their TV show overseas, then releases it on the ‘net to make it look all undergroundy.

We have a message for that fat cat corporate bigwig on Madison Avenue.  We‘ll play your little video, and we‘re not going to mention the name of the show, no matter how cool it might be.  That‘s how we roll.

Oh, we showed the name.  I guess it was obvious. 

The political gods trying to figure out if Tom DeLay will even be back on Capitol Hill after November.  A big indicator today of how big an uphill climb he‘ll face in the general election. 

And the shooting of a war veteran from Iraq.  Today, the sheriff‘s officer who fired on an unarmed airmen learned he will face charges.  Details of those stories ahead, but first here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers.

Number three, former Fed Chief Alan Greenspan, who has reportedly come to an agreement with Penguin to publish his memoirs for between $8.5 and $9 million.  I‘m hoping the exact figure depends on where somebody else fixes the prime rate.  In the interim, the drinks are on Andrea Mitchell. 

Number two, Theodora “Teddy” Picard of Sarasota here in Florida.  She has filed a suit against a restaurant after she fell and hurt her neck there.  She says the restaurant director pressured her to do it in the first place.  The restaurant says she was drunk.  What did she do?  She was dancing on the piano. 

And, number one, David Strong, a candidate for mayor of Winter Park, Florida.  Someone is distributing paper fliers around town claiming that, six years ago, Strong rubbed dog-doo on another man during an argument.  Strong admits he did it; he was defending his wife from being sworn at.  OK, a politician who admits he smears his opponents with crap; he‘s got my vote!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  From arguments of executive privilege in the leak investigation, to increasingly close congressional battles and corruption allegations, to threats of naming names on ethics violations.  We analogized it last night to President Bush for ever stepping on unattended rakes, like Sideshow Bob in “The Simpsons.” 

Our third story in the COUNTDOWN, how about Jack Abramoff‘s lawyer threatening to name names or Mr. Bush forgetting to register for an absentee ballot for the Texas primaries?

The former House majority leader himself out schmoozing voters and pressing the flesh, hoping to retain his Republican candidacy through the primary in Texas, despite his recent indictment on corruption charges.  While he‘s expected to win that one handily, a close race could indicate which way the wind is blowing for the fall elections.

Today‘s election forcing the president to make an impromptu visit to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, to cast his vote in person.  According to the “Dallas Morning News,” the sudden visit came about only because the president‘s aides forgot to request a write-in or absentee ballot in time for the primaries. 

And speaking of forgetting, Lewis “Scooter” Libby‘s requests for copies of the highly classified presidential daily briefs from 2003 to help jog his memory in the Valerie Plame leak investigation got a smack down from the CIA.  The agency saying it will take nine months to pull those documents and could raise serious questions about executive privilege. 

Mr. Libby‘s lawyers responded with their own filing today, stating that PDBs are crucial to proving Libby‘s memory lapses, accusing the CIA of exaggerating the time frame of gathering those documents, and bridling at the suggestion that the possibility of executive privilege could deny their client material for his defense. 

Certain members of the legislative branch also sweating it out tonight, after the attorney for lobbyist Jack Abramoff threatened to name names during the sentencing phase of his client‘s fraud case, saying that doing so will indicate his client‘s cooperation with the ongoing corruption investigation. 

Speaking of corruption and investigation, Congresswoman Katherine Harris, currently in the running for Senate in Florida, is ducking the media after revelations that she unwittingly took $32,000 in illegal donations from one of the firms that also bribed the former Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham.  Oops.

Now her local Florida newspapers say she is canceling events, keeping a low profile, not the usual strategy in an election year. 

Let‘s call on “Newsweek” magazine‘s chief political correspondent, Howard Fineman. 

Howard, good to talk to you.  Thanks for your time tonight.

HOWARD FINEMAN, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, “NEWSWEEK”:  Hi, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s backtrack here, start with Jack Abramoff and this sentencing now being delayed until the 29th of this month.  His lawyer, would he really make good on the threat to name names?  Would he be stopped in some way before doing so? 

FINEMAN:  Well, that was his lawyer there on the right in the film clip, Abbe Lowell.  And I‘ve known Abbe Lowell for a long time, one of the best criminal defense attorneys here in Washington. 

He‘s not going to make a threat like that idly, because he knows that the other side, he knows people in town know what he knows.  And were he to just be blowing smoke there, they‘d know it. 

So I think he does have some credible threats there.  And my guess would be that it isn‘t just necessarily members of Congress.  I think what Abbe Lowell is hinting there is that Abramoff may have some things to say about some people in the White House. 

OLBERMANN:  Do we know particularly what he knows?  I mean, obviously, if you‘re putting the address on it as 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, that‘s significant and newsworthy by itself. 

FINEMAN:  Well, let‘s just say not the president and not the vice president, but some people who work there.  That would be my guess. 

OLBERMANN:  Let me move to Tom DeLay, see what you have on this one.  He showed the usual cool, out campaigning today, but certainly he has to be worried, not about maintaining the nomination—that‘s not a doubt—but keeping the seat in the fall.  Is there any indication, from what happened in the primary today, about how close that congressional race could be in November? 

FINEMAN:  Well, we don‘t have any results yet, Keith, though they‘ll be coming in soon.  I think the mere fact that Tom DeLay has to be out there campaigning the way you see him doing there on TV is an indication of how much trouble he‘s in. 

He‘s got a couple of not totally incredible or uncredible opponents in this primary.  He‘ll probably win more than 50 percent, which means he wouldn‘t have to have a run-off.  Were he to get less than 50 percent, then that would be an indication that he‘s toast in this election. 

Let‘s assume he does win the primary, and I think he probably will.  Then he‘s going to have a pretty tough House race in the fall against a guy that, you know, he didn‘t beat overwhelmingly last time around, in a district that‘s changed, because DeLay, in his hubris, perhaps, when they were redrawing the district lines in Texas a couple of years ago, said, “Eh, take some Republican voters away from me.  Let‘s spread them out in other districts.  I can win this no matter what.”  Well, I think now he probably wishes he‘d drawn the lines a little differently for his own district.

OLBERMANN:  That‘ll teach a politician to be generous. 

FINEMAN:  I know.  No good deed goes unpunished.

OLBERMANN:  Scooter Libby, his desire to get his hands on what we have enjoyed reminding everybody is called the family jewels, the president‘s daily briefs.  It now looks like this desire for them could put him in direct opposition to the White House over the subject of executive privilege.  With that in mind, is there a chance that the judge would rule in his favor? 

FINEMAN:  I think it‘s probably unlikely, because it seems pretty clear to me that it‘s something of a fishing expedition, where he‘s saying, you know, “I need to get all these things, and if I can‘t get them then my case is ruined.” 

The notion that he needs a whole year‘s worth of these family jewels to be able to conclude that he had a loss of memory on certain things doesn‘t sound all that credible.  I think the White House would love for this thing to get locked up in a whole dispute over executive privilege and whether the CIA would have to give up these documents and so forth.

The White House really—this Bush White House doesn‘t have any interest in this thing proceeding quickly.  As far as they‘re concerned, they‘d love it to take another two or three years. 

OLBERMANN:  At the current rate, that would be the minimum. 

FINEMAN:  The minimum, right. 

OLBERMANN:  Howard Fineman of “Newsweek,” as always, sir, great thanks.

FINEMAN:  You‘re welcome, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  A precedent-setting day in the California county where this shooting was caught on tape.  The officer who did it finds out that he will face charges.  That‘s never happened before on duty.

And the bright light that was the life of Dana Reeve, first her brave crusade supporting her husband, then her own personal battle with lung cancer, both have now ended.  Her story, next on COUNTDOWN.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  In a region in which police have on occasion infamously shot first and asked questions later, even this was stupefying.  A serving member of the U.S. Air Force, the unarmed passenger in a car in a high-speed chase in Chino, California, shot three times, after the car had come to a halt, after he had apparently surrendered. 

Now on our number two story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, charges will be filed against that deputy, an all-time first in San Bernardino County.  Our correspondent there is Mark Mullen—Mark?

MARK MULLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Keith, the number one job of this deputy, of course, is catching bad guys.  And now the district attorney of San Bernardino County, California, considers him one. 

His name is Ivory Webb, a sheriff‘s deputy here, now being charged with voluntary manslaughter, which has a maximum sentence of up to 18 ½ years in prison. 

Here‘s what happened.  It all stems from a shooting incident which was caught on videotape on January 29th.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK?  Get up.  Get up. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Shots fired!  Shots fired!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MULLEN:  Police were involved in a short high-speed chase with the driver of this Corvette, a driver and a passenger inside.  After the Corvette crashed, police were able to detain both the driver and the passenger.  The passenger, who also happened to be an Air Force senior airman, by the name of Elio Carrion, who also was unarmed, appears to be following police instructions to get up from a prone position, when Deputy Webb shot him three times, once in the chest.  The D.A. says he has no other choice but to charge the deputy. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL RAMOS, SAN BERNARDINO DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  This was a difficult decision, though—I‘m not going to kid you about that—because we work closely with law enforcement.  We‘re family; we‘re friends.  We have the same job:  to protect our citizens and to seek justice for victims.  And we know the challenges and dangers of their jobs on a daily basis. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MULLEN:  The passenger who was shot survived and is now recuperating at home.  As for the sheriff‘s deputy, he remains on paid administrative leave and his job is in jeopardy, perhaps the least of his worries, considering the criminal charges he now faces—Keith?

OLBERMANN:  Mark Mullen, great thanks.

On to our nightly roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, “Keeping Tabs.” 

And substantial progress reported for ABC News co-anchor Bob Woodruff.  He‘s starting to speak and to walk again.  Woodruff‘s brother, David, told “Good Morning America,” quote, “In the last couple of days, he‘s taken a lot of great leaps forward.” 

Woodruff has been talking with his wife, Lee, his children, his doctors and nurses.  He‘s also walking for the first time since he and cameraman Doug Vogt were seriously injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq a little more than five weeks ago.  Woodruff is still on heavy pain medication, but, according to a statement from ABC News, he may soon be moved from Bethesda Medical Center into a rehabilitation facility. 

Doug Vogt, the cameraman, meanwhile, is back with his family in France and recovering well. 

And the musician Yanni made a special appearance last week in jail.  It came after his arrest in a domestic dispute.  The Greek-born keyboardist and composer, whose legal name is John Yanni Christopher, was arrested at his beachfront home in Manalapan, Florida, early Friday. 

His girlfriend, Silvia Barthes, told police that Yanni had asked her to leave following an argument.  He then grabbed her, and shook her, and slapped her in the face.  Yanni told police that she kicked him and injured his finger, but police confirmed Ms. Barthes had a swollen and bloody lip.  Yanni was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery and spent 11 hours in jail, which was as much as authorities could stand of him playing that keyboard.

Of course, tonight, the entertainment world mourning Dana Reeve.  Our solemn remembrance of her, next.

But first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s list of today‘s three nominees for “Worst Person in the World.” 

The bronze to the wrecking crew in New York City that started demolishing a building in Queens.  Residents woke up around 8:00 to a wrecking ball coming through their wall.  The workers were destroying the wrong building. 

The runner-up, speaking of wrecking balls, Rush Limbaugh, on radio discussing the, quote, “Hillary fear” that America should have a Clinton run or of a Clinton run in ‘08.  Quote, “When she‘s genuine, she sounds like a screeching ex-wife.  And, my friends—and I don‘t say that—there‘s nothing against ex-wives or women.  I‘m just trying to be descriptive here for you.  Men will know what I mean by this.” 

Well, Rush would, “men who have ex-wives.”  Rush has three of them. 

But the winner, officials at our Department of Homeland Security at the actual building in Washington.  You ever get the feeling that there‘s no real threat to homeland security, these guys know that, they just sit around all day dreaming up stuff to scare us with? 

Guards there reporting that last fall an envelope with suspicious white powder in it was opened at the headquarters and, rather than evacuate the building, an official carried the envelope to the office next door to Secretary Chertoff and shook the contents out the window.  “Biological weapon, hell‘s bells.  It doesn‘t even slow the pedestrians down.”

The Department of Homeland Security, today‘s “Worst Persons in the World”!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Her life could have been marred, overwhelmed by tragedy, from her husband, Christopher Reeve‘s, debilitating spinal injury to his eventual death, through her own diagnosis of lung cancer, lung cancer for a nonsmoker.  Yet, through it all, Dana Reeve embodied such a spirit of hope, compassion and strength that those attributes almost became synonymous with her own name. 

Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, 18 months after her husband passed away, eight months after she herself revealed the devastating diagnosis, Dana Reeve has lost her battle for life. 

With word of her passing in New York late last night came dozens of tributes, from actors like Meryl Streep, who said her, quote, “radiance as a woman was fueled by her love,” from Robin Williams, quote, “the brightest light has gone out; we will forever celebrate her loving spirit,” even to lawmakers on the floor of the Senate, who celebrated her fight alongside Christopher Reeve to seek cures for spinal cord injuries and to promote stem-cell research, and to the public, who left flowers on her husband‘s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Katie Couric now with a look back at the life and the legacy of Dana Reeve. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA REEVE, SINGER, WIFE OF CHRISTOPHER REEVE:  I‘ve got a heart that can hold love.  I‘ve got a mind that can think.  

KATIE COURIC, “TODAY SHOW” HOST (voice-over):  Dana Reeve was a luminous woman who devoted her life completely to the people she loved.  Christopher Reeve came to see a “Cabaret” performer named Dana Morosini in the summer of ‘87.  He was mesmerized, and their love story began.  They were married five years later. 

D. REEVE:  The really big moment was when we said, “I do,” and we both meant it. 

COURIC:  Chris, 10 years older, was already a father and an accomplished actor.  Dana, a graduate of Middlebury College, had begun singing professionally and was an aspiring actress.  Their lives were full and active, and even fuller when their son, Will, was born.  But just three years after they were married, in an instant their lives changed forever. 

TOM BROKAW, FORMER HOST, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”:  Tragic news tonight about the actor Christopher Reeve.  He is paralyzed from the neck down after being injured over the weekend. 

D. REEVE:  Chris‘ spirits are, for the most part, quite good.  Chris is a man blessed with an extraordinary inner strength. 

COURIC:  As was Dana. 

D. REEVE:  I said, “You‘re still you, and I love you.” 

CHRISTOPHER REEVE, LATE ACTOR:  She didn‘t hesitate.  She didn‘t blink or look away or—I could see that she wasn‘t being noble or just fulfilling some obligation.  And that really enabled me to go on. 

D. REEVE (singing):  ... because as long as I‘ve got you to stand beside me, then I know I‘ve got the world right here inside me.  

COURIC:  For the next 9 ½ years, they faced the many challenges with exceptional love, humor and determination. 

C.            REEVE:  I was always glad to see her walk in the door.  But now, now I‘m deeply grateful every time. 

(LAUGHTER)

D.            REEVE:  You can either wallow in that and say, “Oh, you know, our life has changed and it‘s awful,” or you can create a new life, and grow from it, and learn from it. 

COURIC:  So they grew and learned together, every step of the way. 

C. REEVE:  It‘s not the doing of things; it‘s the being that counts. 

COURIC:  Ever optimistic, they became tireless advocates for those with spinal cord injuries, raising millions of dollars to help scientists come up with answers and, hopefully, someday a cure. 

C. REEVE:  Thanks to the new spirit of cooperation that has started all around the world, we‘re going to get out of these chairs. 

COURIC:  If Chris became the personification of courage, Dana was the personification of selflessness.  His guts, her grace, a powerful symbol of love and hope. 

When Chris Reeve died in October of 2004, Dana continued to work as fervently as ever, determined to further the work of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.  His credo, “Go forward,” became hers. 

But less than a year after Chris died, Dana, who had never smoked, was diagnosed with lung cancer.  The same strength she had shown in the face of her husband‘s struggle would now be crucial in her own. 

D.            REEVE (singing):  Grateful, grateful, truly grateful I am.  

COURIC:  Dana Reeve once said she learned long ago that life isn‘t fair, and you better stop expecting it to be, something that we‘re all reminded of today.  But she will forever be a symbol of how to love, how to live, and how to do both with incomparable grace. 

D.            REEVE (singing):  ... truly blessed and truly grateful.  

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Dana Reeve was 44 years old.  When sorrows come, they come not as single spies, but in battalions. 

That‘s COUNTDOWN for this, the 1,041st day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann.  Good night, and good luck.

Our MSNBC coverage continues now with Rita Cosby LIVE & DIRECT. 

Good evening, Rita.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2006 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.

transcript

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

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,