Guests: Jon Meacham, Jack Rice, Bert Lozano
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Porter, get his bags. CIA chief Porter Goss abruptly resigns so fast they didn‘t even name a temp to fill his job, and a week after “Harper‘s” magazine said the Duke Cunningham-Watergate Jr. scandal was about to touch “current and former lawmakers on Defense and Intelligence Committees, including one person who now holds a powerful intelligence post.”
Goss was the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
Setbacks for Scooter at the latest Plamegate hearing, where it‘s also revealed Libby was told about the potential damage of outing Valerie Plame Wilson in July 2003.
The Kennedy crash. It‘s prescription painkillers, Congressman Patrick Kennedy says. Ted Kennedy‘s son will go back to rehab.
There has been an O.J. Simpson sighting. More disturbing still, there has been a Katie Holmes sighting.
No, this is not her new child. This is not her parents‘ reaction when Tom Cruise stayed over. This is not Britney Spears driving her kid to preschool. This is the Plays of the Month in Oddball.
But what‘s this? An opera about a soap opera, “Tonya and Nancy,” the Harding-Kerrigan figure skating scandal of 1994 becomes the worst opera ever of 2006.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “TONYA AND NANCY”)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Why her?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Why me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Why her?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Why me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Why you? Why us?
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
Just another quiet Friday at the White House. That is what we expected. Apparently that is what the Bush administration was expecting as well.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, Porter Goss out as CIA director in the middle of a war on terror, in the middle of a day when a Kennedy was dominating headlines. Start doing the math. It does not add up for us either.
Director Goss giving no explanation for his departure, which comes after less than two years on the job, the timing raising more than a few eyebrows, amid some reporting that the former congressman or the number three man he brought to Langley, or both, could be the latest casualty in the ever-expanding Duke Cunningham corruption investigation, specifically, that part in which Cunningham‘s alleged co-conspirators, two defense contractors, entertained lawmakers from Defense and Intelligence Committees with prostitutes and poker at the Watergate Hotel.
Scott McClellan‘s last briefing as press secretary, the intended highlight of the work week‘s end, Mr. McClellan delivering big in his final outing, but for all the wrong reasons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: One thing I forgot to mention at the top, and I know this will stir some interest, but the president -- I do need to back up, it just popped back into my head, and I apologize for not mentioning it at the top. At 1:45, the president does have a pool coverage announcement. That‘ll be in the Oval Office. The pool will need to assemble after this briefing. So—and I‘m not able to go further than that at this point. That‘s an announcement that will be made with the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: He forgot. Just popped back into his head. Keep that in mind should his resume cross your desk.
That hastily scheduled announcement coming only 57 minutes after the press secretary remembered, absent any of the usual niceties about Mr. Goss wanting to spend more time with his family, or about President Bush accepting the resignation with regret.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, Porter‘s tenure at the CIA was one of transition, where he‘s helped this agency become integrated into a—into the intelligence community. And that was a tough job, and he‘s led ably.
He has got a five-year plan to increase the number of analysts and operatives, which is going to help make this country a safer place and help us win the war on terror. He‘s instilled a sense of professionalism.
And so I want to thank you for your service.
PORTER GOSS, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Mr. President, thank you very much. It has been a very distinct honor and privilege to serve you, of course, the people of the country, and the employees of the Central Intelligence Agency. I can tell you the trust and confidence you‘ve placed in me and given me the latitude to work is something I could never have imagined, and I am most grateful for it.
BUSH: God bless. Thank you (INAUDIBLE).
GOSS: God bless, sir. Appreciate it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And don‘t let the screen door at Langley hit you in the way out.
The spin behind the resignation goes something like this. National intelligence czar John Negroponte all but firing Mr. Goss, initiating conversations about his departure several weeks ago, director Goss merely the interim guy at Langley, this being the perfect time to hand control to a new and more permanent director on a Friday when Mr. Bush was out of the White House at an economics photo-op and news for Democrats had been, for a change, worse than news for Republicans.
Well, you know, those rebound relationships never last.
For more on the departure and its impact on the Bush administration, time now to call in “Newsweek” magazine‘s managing editor, Jon Meacham.
Thanks for your time, sir.
JON MEACHAM, MANAGING EDITOR, “NEWSWEEK” MAGAZINE: Thank you, sir.
OLBERMANN: Getting right to the heart of this matter, why on earth would the White House willingly announce a Goss resignation when, A, it didn‘t even have an acting replacement ready, and B, this news cycle appeared to have been devoted in rock-solid quality to talking about a Kennedy with a drug problem? Does it sound like a voluntary move to you by Mr. Goss?
MEACHAM: I doubt it was a voluntary move on director Goss‘s part to go back to Florida, if that‘s what he‘s planning on doing. My sense is that to say that the morale is low at the CIA is kind of like saying the Middle East peace process is at a critical turning point. It‘s one of these things that we‘ve been—we‘ve been to this movie many, many times before. It‘s just that this time, it really, really matters.
As you know, I—there‘ve been CIA directors coming in and out and in and out and in and out, really since George Herbert Walker Bush had the job back at the end of the Ford administration. And we now know that it matters very, very much what we get from the CIA. I think, I believe, because this was being said in real time, that the tension between Goss‘s political appointees and the professionals of the agency created a fairly untenable situation.
And also, I suspect, Negroponte, who is trying to put everything together, wants his own person there. Often politics is a fairly direct and human story, as you know. And I wouldn‘t be surprised to see someone who had some prior connection to Negroponte in that job.
OLBERMANN: Even if that backstory about Negroponte‘s assessment of Goss is correct in its entirety, and we‘re reading more into it than it deserves, the administration is nonetheless admitting, then, that CIA leadership is not what they want. This is in the wake of the redesign to accommodate the new director of national intelligence, the Valerie Plame saga, this farce about the leaks they pinned on Mary McCarthy a month before she was to retire, which she then denied, all of this is in the law and order and antiterror presidency. How bad are these developments about the CIA cumulatively for the president?
MEACHAM: Well, when you‘re 33 percent, or 36 percent, it‘s not good at all. And I think that people have begun to judge this administration on what we might call the Dukakis standard. Remember Dukakis‘s line in 1988, This election isn‘t about confidence, isn‘t about ideology, it‘s about competence. Well, he was wrong, and he lost.
But at this point, governing does seem to be about competence. And whether you‘re talking about Iraq or Katrina or the basic runup to 9/11, those reports, I think that people are getting fed up, frankly, with the idea that their government, who had—which had the largest wakeup call one could possibly imagine, the most tragic wakeup call on September 11, had not yet gotten their act together. And so I think politically, it‘s very bad news for the president, among many other pieces of bad news at this point.
OLBERMANN: And one of those, of course, is the continuing saga of the polls as bad news. Let me ask you about these latest. There are two polls to ask you about. The job approval, his lowest yet at 33 percent in the AP-Ipsos poll. Yet the president in the midst of a spectacular rebound in the latest Opinion Dynamic poll for our friends at Fox News, 33 percent there last month, 38 percent in the latest polling for that.
What‘s the conclusion here, John? Either somebody‘s getting a discount at the gas pumps, or the president is rebounding among Fox News viewers?
MEACHAM: Maybe they only called Greenwich, I‘m not sure, or Houston.
I think the polls—my view of polls often is what Bob Dole used to say, which is, I don‘t believe in them unless I‘m ahead in them. But I think the president‘s having very—having a very rough time, obviously, to state the obvious.
And the problem is, he doesn‘t have anything he can do proactively, it seems, to change the conversation. Whether it‘s gas prices, whether it‘s New Orleans being rebuilt, whether, you know, we‘re heading into the one-year anniversary, there‘s going to be a slew of stories of what has really changed from August of 2005.
And you have, I think, large—I think the—I think good predictions that we may be looking at Speaker Pelosi come November.
OLBERMANN: “Newsweek”‘s magazine—“Newsweek” magazine‘s managing editor, John Meacham. Great thanks, sir. A pleasure to have you here.
MEACHAM: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: More on that whiff of scandal in this presently with David Shuster.
First, though, for more on the fallout being felt at the CIA, and whether Mr. Goss is leaving the intelligence agency in better shape than he found it, let‘s bring in Jack Rice, former special agent and field operations officer at the agency.
Jack, thanks again for your time.
JACK RICE, FORMER CIA AGENT: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: Putting aside the stated reasons, or the reasons being speculated about, for the departure, how bad is it to have the old guy gone before the new chief has been chosen, or even broadly hinted at?
RICE: It‘s a good question. I think in the end, it may not mean that much in the short term. I mean, we look at the field guy, the guy that‘s actually out there. How much connection does he have? Most of the time, he‘s fighting to keep the bureaucracy, the people up at the top, away from him.
On the other hand, let‘s look big picture here for a second. If you think about this case, you realize that in the last 18 months, the agency has lost more than 300 years of experience. They lost McLaughlin, who was his deputy. We lost the guy working for McLaughlin. We lost the head of the clandestine service. We lost the head of the analysis service, plus a bunch of the people below them.
I mean, if you think of it that way, you realize what we may have here is guys who can find Afghanistan on a map, but I don‘t know if we can find much more than that. And there is a guy out there, his name is Osama bin Laden, just for fun.
OLBERMANN: Did they change the CIA into a new version of FEMA?
RICE: That is my biggest fear of all. My biggest fear of all here is that what we have done is just like with the Department of Homeland Security. We spent $177 billion on those guys, and in the end, what we end up with is a bunch of new flow charts that look great, but don‘t work particularly well. It‘s the equivalent of putting a $10,000 paint job on an ‘72 Pinto.
Either way, I‘m not real happy unless I‘m happier today than I was yesterday, if I‘m safer tomorrow than I am today. And I‘m not so sure about that.
OLBERMANN: Turning to the leak investigations that Mr. Goss was pursuing, and his position was selective, I think it is a fair term here, pressed for the aggressive probe into the leak of the CIA black prison sites in Eastern Europe. We know all about that, and Mary McCarthy.
On the other hand, just dismissing the outing of Valerie Plame, calling those things wild and unsubstantiated charges, and said, If somebody sends me a blue dress and some DNA, I‘ll have an investigation, what happens to leak investigations or the absence of leak investigations, the one that Mr.—ones that Mr. Goss was pursuing, now that he‘s gone? Do they just vanish into the limbo, or does somebody pick them up?
RICE: Boy, that‘s the biggest question of all, from my perspective. Big picture again. My problem here is that a leak is a leak is a leak. We have to take each one seriously. The fact that the administration‘s decided that some that they didn‘t control are a problem, but the ones that they do control are OK, I‘m repulsed by that, because we have to look back now and realize that every piece of intelligence comes from somewhere. Someone has risked their life, someone has given their life.
As a result, when we use it for political gain, which it appears to be in the Valerie Plame case, I think all of us should be repulsed. This is not a right question or a left question. And my fear is, we‘ve seen those on the right try to use this in a way that they shouldn‘t. They know better than that.
Nevertheless, we seem to be sitting like we were before, left and right, instead of right versus wrong.
OLBERMANN: Briefly, the one name that has popped up in the imminence
or the, the, right (INAUDIBLE) hours after Mr. Goss‘s resignation, departure, firing, Michael Hayden. What do we know about him?
RICE: He works for Negroponte. I mean, this is another situation where we‘re looking at a power struggle.
You know, in the end, the biggest problem I have here is that the agency, CIA, was actually put under national intelligence. Remember we talked about connecting the dots? The real result, the net result, is that we have more dots in place than we did before 9/11. So as a result, I think we‘re going to see is hopefully a closer connection. But in the end, we may have one that‘s further away than before.
OLBERMANN: Jack Rice, former CIA field agent. As always, sir, thanks for your time. Thanks for joining us.
RICE: Thank you. Keith.
OLBERMANN: And then there is that Goss connection to Watergate Jr., prospective connection. Amid a day of subtle hip movements in the rumba that is the Valerie Plame investigation, there‘s also a shocker about Scooter Libby being warned about the results were Ms. Plame to be outed. Details ahead on those stories.
And the other one rocking Washington, Representative Patrick Kennedy says his addiction to prescription drugs caused his car crash. He‘s heading back to rehab. And he‘s not driving himself.
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: As we alluded to earlier, one of the more glaring omissions in the resignation of Porter Goss, the reason behind his decision. None of the more common platitudes were mentioned, wanting to spend more time with the family, wanting to return to his home state, wanting to take a break from the stress of Washington.
And it may be mere coincidence that he made this sudden and unexpected announcement just a week after news came out linking the number three man at the CIA, Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, a Goss appointee, to the Duke Cunningham scandal, and a week after rampant gossip started circulating that another high-ranking CIA official might be involved.
Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, separating the scandal from the spin. Foggo, of course, admitted to attending poker parties at the Watergate Hotel, hosted by defense contractor Brent Wilkes, who bribed Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham. The FBI is investigating whether prostitutes were present at the parties, whether they anted up. Now, Foggo has denied any knowledge of that.
Last week in “Harper‘s” magazine, investigative journalist Ken Silverstein revealed that the FBI was closely scrutinizing, quote, “current and former lawmakers on Defense and Intelligence Committees, including one person who now holds a powerful intelligence post,” unquote.
Goss headed up the House Intelligence Committee before he took the top job at CIA.
And movement in one of the other major scandals investigations underway in the capital, Scooter Libby denied access to records documenting Ambassador Joseph Wilson‘s trip to Niger, and a revelation that in July 2003, Libby was warned about the potential damage of outing Valerie Plame‘s name and identity.
The judge also signaling that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald‘s investigation into Karl Rove might be nearing a close, noting that he expects resolution in the foreseeable future of the problem of documents in the case that have been withheld because they touch on Rove and because he is part of an ongoing investigation.
MSNBC‘s David Shuster has been over this case like a rash and joins us now from Washington.
Thanks for your time, David.
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good to be with you.
OLBERMANN: We‘ll get to the Libby stuff in a moment. But first, Porter Goss. Is there anything more than this loose and nebulous and hinted-at, rumored connection between his resignation and the implication of the CIA and intelligence officials in the FBI corruption investigation?
SHUSTER: Well, it‘s certainly not nebulous to a number of officials at the Central Intelligence Agency who have long been angry at Porter Goss, but also puzzled by his management style. Remember, a lot of people at the Central Intelligence Agency were totally puzzled as to how it was that this midlevel CIA bureaucratic, Dusty Foggo, suddenly vaulted to the number three position when Porter Goss came in. A lot of people wondered about the circumstance under which Porter Goss and Foggo met one another.
And then the other thing about it, Keith, is that the news that Foggo is now under investigation in this bribery scandal, and the idea that he was at these parties where there were allegedly prostitutes, even though he says he didn‘t see them, that news spread like wildfire at the Central Intelligence Agency.
So while it may have not have been the factor involved in Porter Goss‘s decision or the decision about Porter Goss, it was certainly a huge deal to a number of people who worked for Porter Goss at the CIA.
OLBERMANN: Maybe the prostitutes were invisible.
From Watergate to Plamegate, this intriguing mention in court today, not, obviously, at this point, anyway, relevant to the case, but of great relevance to the nation, that Scooter Libby‘s attorney says he was warned about the implication of outing Valerie Plame‘s name. Any idea who warned him, or how did this come out in court?
SHUSTER: It came out from defense attorneys when they‘re talking about possible evidence that might get introduced that would show that Scooter Libby did not intend to leak Valerie Plame‘s identity.
There was no information that was provided by the defense or by the judge or by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, but it does explain one thing, and that is, if this information, if this warning to Scooter Libby came from the Central Intelligence Agency, or an official representing the CIA, it does explain why the CIA was so infuriated right from the beginning when it was disclosed that this information got leaked to reporters, and why the criminal referral from the Central Intelligence Agency to the Justice Department happened so quickly.
OLBERMANN: But this would have been after Libby spoke to Judith Miller of “The New York Times” in June. Does it have any bearing, in that sense, on why Libby was not charged, or has not been charged with leaking, because he might not have known he was leaking?
SHUSTER: Well, it cuts both ways, because while it came after the June conversation with Judy Miller, it came before the July conversation between Libby and Judy Miller, and before the Matt Cooper conversation with Scooter Libby. So it cuts both ways. It could suggest that, yes, Scooter Libby at least didn‘t know originally that Valerie Plame‘s identity was classified, but it could also signal how close prosecutors may have been to charging Scooter Libby with the actual leak, if, in fact, they had this evidence that Libby knew she was classified, and then went ahead and told reporters about it anyway, that brings the case much closer to a decision from prosecutors about, Well, maybe we should indict Scooter Libby for the actual leak, as opposed to the perjury and obstruction of justice, and I think that‘s one of the things a number of lawyers are talking about.
There‘s long been speculation about how close prosecutor Fitzgerald came to actually bringing one of those sort of charges about the leak, and this was another piece of that puzzle.
OLBERMANN: And lastly, speaking of close to charging, explain what the signals were on the Karl Rove matter today.
SHUSTER: Well, the tea leaves seem to suggest that Karl Rove is going to get indicted. And again, these are just tea leaves. But first of all, the judge talked about a resolution of Karl Rove coming soon, and again, remember, Karl Rove testified for the fifth time, and he still has not been cleared.
Secondly, the language, the body language from prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was astounding. He went to such great lengths today to try to avoid mentioning Karl Rove or talking about his status. Now, that, in and of itself, seemed to signal something unique.
And the other thing about it was that in the overall sort of case, again, all the attorneys are talking about evidence, and there was evidence mentioned today involving documents and memos of—from Karl Rove to another administration official about Valerie Wilson.
If they‘re talking about documents and memos as opposed from the Stephen Hadley e-mail that Karl Rove wrote, in other words, if there are other e-mails or documents, that would suggest that perhaps prosecutors have an even stronger case to suggest that, look, Karl Rove didn‘t have memory problems, he was willfully trying to avoid remembering certain things at the grand jury. But we‘ll see pretty soon, I think.
OLBERMANN: More rocks being overturned, and more worms beneath.
MSNBC‘s David Shuster. As always, great thanks for your reporting, and for your time.
SHUSTER: You‘re welcome.
OLBERMANN: Also, where will the next head of the CIA come from? Well, it isn‘t going to be this guy, is it? Is it? You may have some problems with your suspension there, slappy.
And just when you thought Tom Cruise couldn‘t get any worse, here comes the mommy. Katie Holmes on the red carpet exactly two weeks postpartum.
That and more, ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: The anniversary of the day Michael Palen (ph) was born, one of the members of Monty Python‘s Flying Circus. You know how old he is? He‘s 206. No, he just turned 63.
In gratitude to his influence on several generations of the now-irretrievably warped, let‘s play Oddball.
We begin outside Caesar‘s Palace, where you know what they say, Come to Las Vegas, we won‘t hassle for wearing a cape. This is Mike Metzger (ph). He‘s attempting to break the world record for the longest backflip over a fountain. He‘ll need to fly about 125 feet, make a full rotation in the air. Let‘s watch.
From way downtown, bang. Metzger landed the jump perfectly, but it was not a complete triumph. During the tumble, he lost about $1.50 in loose change into that fountain. Have to wait and see if his dreams come true now. In the meantime, he‘ll just have to keep pimping himself out. (INAUDIBLE) Disneyland. Are we going to Disneyland? Yeah! Whoo!
Do that again to that kid, and you get this. It‘s a bear, a bear with a big jug on its head. To Slovakia‘s Lower Tatra (ph) Mountains, it‘s been 10 days since this poor fellow got his punkin stuck in the jug. Since then, he‘s been helplessly roaming the mountain, hungry, thirsty, confused. Locals knew there was only one thing they could do. It was time to call in the bear whisperer.
Ah, that‘s better. Mr. Subtlety himself. Once freed, the bear jumped in a nearby water hole to hide in shame from his brethren. As for the bear whisperer, he‘s off to the next town to save the next bear, a mission to free all bears who get stuck in plastic jugs, until the plastic jug industry fat cats realize that bear whisperer ain‘t going nowhere.
Liked that, didn‘t you? Well, there‘s more. That once-a-full-moon moment when we collect all the highlights, Oddball‘s Plays of the Month.
And several traditions as old as time itself in the same story. A politician crashes near the U.S. Capital there are prescription drugs involved, plus they return to rehab and he‘s a Kennedy. 9.0, 9.0, 9.0. That‘s ahead. First your COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of the day. Number three, the Birmingham Steeldogs arena football wearing as part of faith night, special biblical uniforms. Instead of Steeldogs they say Sampson on the front. Instead of the player‘s names, they each listed a different book of the bible. So some guy will be wearing the James one two on his shirt. I want to know which player gets to wear sack cloth and ashes.
Number two, part of the mini theme here. John J. Donovan, Sr. Boston businessman, consultant, worth an estimated $100 million claimed he‘d been shot on the orders of his son James. Police now say he arranged it himself to make his son look bad. And if that doesn‘t prove that money does not buy you happiness.
Number one is Bill Gates. Who‘s explained to an online ad conference, “I wish I wasn‘t the richest man in the world. There‘s nothing good that comes out of that.” Mr. Gates is worth $50 billion. Some of which he spent right here at MSNBC. So Bill, if you‘d just tell us how much of that money you would like to burn off, myself and my colleagues will be happy to help again!
OLBERMANN: The revelations cascaded quickly. Congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of the senator, the nephew of the former president had crashed his car into a barricade. He was on his way to the capitol complex thinking he was late for a vote, it was 3:00 a.m. Though he appeared disoriented no field sobriety test had been performed. The congressman first released a statement saying he had consumed no alcohol, his next statement said he was taking two medications at the time, one for his stomach which causes drowsiness and another one Ambien that is a sleep aid. Now in our number three story in the COUNTDOWN, Representative Kennedy says he does not remember any of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PATRICK KENNEDY, (D) RHODE ISLAND: I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police or being cited for three driving infractions. That‘s not how I want to live my life and it‘s not how I want to represent the people of Rhode Island. I am deeply concerned about my reaction to the medication and my lack of knowledge of the accident that evening. But I do know enough that I know that I need help. This afternoon I‘m traveling to Minnesota to seek treatment at the Mayo Clinic to ensure that I can continue on my road to recovery.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: As refreshing as the congressman‘s frank account might be, it does not settle questions about whether or not he was given preferential treatment by capitol police. Our correspondent at the capital is Chip Reid. Chip?
CHIP REID, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening Keith. Congressman Kennedy‘s stunning announcement today tells us a lot about his personal struggle with addiction. But it does not answer all the questions about what happened in the wee hours of Thursday morning at an intersection here on Capitol Hill.
REID: The incident that Congressman Kennedy says he does not remember occurred here, a little more than a block from the U.S. Capitol at about 2:45 Thursday morning. The car Kennedy was driving swerved repeatedly before crashing into a security barrier, according to this report filed by capital police officers. The report also notes Kennedy‘s eyes were red and watery, speech was slightly slurred and his balance was unsure.
LOU CANNON, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE UNION: All these things are factored in and it would lead a reasonable and prudent police officer to believe that the individual is in all probability under the influence of alcohol.
REID: Yesterday afternoon Kennedy issued a statement simply denying that alcohol was involved. But hours later he released a second statement, blaming the incident on the sleeping pill Ambien in combination with a drug he was taking for stomach problems. Today he said he was concerned about a recurrent addiction to prescription pain medication.
SEN. TED KENNEDY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: My son, I‘m proud of Patrick Kennedy.
REID: At 38 Patrick Kennedy is the youngest of Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy‘s three children. Years ago his father admitted a need to temper his own drinking, his mother Joan Kennedy struggled with alcohol abuse for years. Congressman Kennedy himself has a history of drug use both legal and illegal. Six years ago in what was characterized as a courageous disclosure, he announced that he suffered from manic depression and was taking medication. And in 1986 at age 19, he underwent treatment for cocaine abuse.
But this is not just a story about Congressman Kennedy and how he wound up here in the middle of the night. There‘s another issue, whether the capitol police have a double standard when members of congressman are suspected of violating the law. This letter from a police union official who spoke to the officers who observed the incident says that when senior officers arrived, patrol officers were ordered to leave the scene, that they were not allowed to perform even basic field sobriety tests and that those senior officers later gave Congressman Kennedy a ride home. He was charged only with traffic infractions.
CANNON: If you or I or somebody else was stopped I think that we cannot expect probably the same treatment.
REID: And the latest news is that the supervisor who was on duty the night this incident happened has been reassigned. The Capitol Hill police department continues its investigation. Back to you Keith.
OLBERMANN: Chip Reid in Washington. Great thanks Chip.
Another scandal seen through the prism of time and a bad opera.
Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan singing, not swinging at each other.
COUNTDOWN cultural moment, actually about four minutes away. And O.J. Simpson at the Kentucky Derby. No, he didn‘t bet on a bronco. Next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Our ODDBALL plays of the month and a sneak peek at the stage production of Tonya and Nancy the Opera. Why? Because it‘s so bad it‘s good. Master Keith theatre ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: You and I remember it as a soap opera. Who could have expected it would wind up as an opera. A little song well chosen keys a lead pipe struck behind your knees. Our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, the saga of former Olympic figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, brought to the stage as the graduating thesis of a music grad student at Tucks University in Boston. Tonya and Nancy the Opera. Ooh, Harding finally beats Kerrigan. Figuratively I mean, she already beat her literally. It‘s a one-act performance that recreates the saga of 12 years ago when Tonya of the trailer park arranged for her skating rival clean cut Kerrigan to get bashed in the back of the leg at the national championships just weeks before the Olympics.
Kerrigan whose lyrical albeit off key cry of why may have inspired all this, did not attend Tuesday‘s preview saying, “I lived it, what do I need to watch it for.” Well maybe for the giggles if like me you couldn‘t help laughing at the real life Harding and Kerrigan, wait until you see the dancing Harding and Kerrigan. The Harding and Kerrigan with a song in their hearts. We want to show you three episodes of the opera, if you will. We start with January 6, 1994 and the whacking. In the immortal words of Dan Akroyd‘s “Saturday Night Live” character Leonard Pinth-Garnell, it really bites the big one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said to you, why don‘t we just smack her in the leg. I said to you come on it‘s better than playing the lottery. Hit Nancy above the knee. Hit Nancy on her leg. Why me why he gave me a good whack. He gave her a good whack, good whack, good whack, a good whack. He gave her a good whack, good whack, good whack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Monumentally ill-advised. We move forward to February 1994 Lillehammer, Norway, the skate lace or Tonya meets karma, episode two of Tonya and Nancy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They won‘t hold me, they won‘t hold me, they won‘t hold me, they won‘t hold me, they won‘t hold me, they won‘t hold me, they won‘t hold me, they won‘t hold me, they won‘t hold me, they won‘t, the lace is broke, the lace is broke. Five, four, three, five, four, three, five, four, three, five, five. First, second, third, first, second, third, you cut it deep and got [bleep] you [bleep] your triple lusts you hear me. You stop your lies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Exquisitely awful. And finally after the drama played out on the national and world stages, the third and final episode of Tonya and Nancy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why her, why me, why her, why me, why her, why me, why her, why me. Why her, why me. In the ring I‘ll get out everything that‘s been bottled up - I think of my ex Jeff Gillooly, I want to pound him, I want to pound him, I want to pound him. The difference is you have to have the balls to punch the other girl in the face. The difference is don‘t get in trouble for hitting her, hitting her, hitting her, hitting her, hitting her. They made a choice, you live with it, you find something else. I wanted to beat you the most. It was me, me, me, me, it was me, it was me, it was me, it was me, it was me.
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OLBERMANN: Roof. Stunningly bad. Tonya and Nancy. Oh, that the ice and the stage did not crack open and swallow them all up. This is Leonard Pinth-Garnell thanking you for watching another episode of bad opera.
And now for the first time that Katie Holmes has ever been better than the acts she followed, that‘s our segue into our roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, “Keeping Tabs.” Homes was out on the town Thursday night for the first time since having given birth to little Suri more than two weeks ago. The event, the L.A. premiere of Cruise‘s “Mission Impossible Me”—“Mission Impossible 3.” Cruise dragged her around the red carpet for at least an hour. She said that Suri was being cared for by, “Some very good friends.” Brooke Shields and Matt Lauer.
And there‘s O.J. Simpson news. He was in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. Apparently the real killer‘s might be on the back stretch or sipping mint juleps with younger women at one of the bars at Churchill Downs. He‘s become almost a regular at the annual kickoff to horse racing‘s Triple Crown. “You get better parties here than you do in Miami at the MTV Awards,” said the infamous former football player. It‘s the number one event of the year. The hip-hop movie horse culture is all here. Simpson even had a pick in the race, Lawyer Ron, I love lawyers, he said. I know all about lawyers. If there was a Lawyer Johnny, Lord knows I‘d put my house on it. Simpson evidently did not recognize the brutal irony that one of his victims, I‘m sorry one of the real killer‘s victims was named Ronald Goldman nor did anyone apparently suggest that he might really enjoy the race if he went and stood on the track as the horses ran right at him.
In a subject related to O.J., bull fights instead of bull crap. Oddball‘s plays of the month next. It‘s important that we still (INAUDIBLE) early with the kids. But first time for COUNTDOWN‘S latest list of nominees for the worst person in the world. The bronze, David Morris, one of the directors of the British soccer team Queens Park Rangers, QPR. He‘s been accused of forcing one of his fellow directors to quit. No, I mean forcing. Hiring a bunch of thugs to take him into a room and threaten him with a gun until he wrote out a letter of resignation.
Today‘s runner-up, Prince Heinrich, the father-in-law of Princess Mary of Denmark. Prince Heinrich, the runner up. Prince Heinrich is honorary president of the Danish Datsun Club, noted dog lover and now we know why. He told a Danish magazine that he loves eating dogs that they taste like rabbit or veal. Now Prince Heinrich is a Great Dane after all.
But today‘s winner, Bill O. His latest sign of the apocalypse, the one going on in his own head. How New York City school teachers have been, “Instructed not to do anything even if a 6-year-old says “F you, you mother f‘er” in school.” Quoting Bill there. Actually New York City school‘s discipline codes call language like that a level two infraction which requires at least a conference, maybe a suspension. Maybe the teachers have just been told to look the other way if a 6-year-old says f you, you mother f‘er to Bill. Bill O‘Reilly today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: In the number one slot, we‘ve decided to add a new feature to the newscast, viewer e-mail. The crack staff has combed through thousands of e-mails in the COUNTDOWN.msnbc.com mailbox, skipping of course the pornography and the appeals from Mrs. Humbuto who just came into $400 million and needs to transfer it into my bank account immediately. I‘ll answer some of the rest of them here live.
What? Not one that isn‘t the appeal for the money or pornography? Yikes. Well luckily we have this tape ready to go, the weirdest wackiest video and the other crap from the month of April, the Oddball Plays of the Month.
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OLBERMANN: We begin in beautiful downtown Traverse City, Michigan with the COUTNDOWN cow chase of the week. Not to worry folks. These guys are trained professional cattle wranglers. The cow which seems on closer inspection to be related to E from our gang, is finally corralled and stuffed back into a trailer, and oh she‘s going to pay for this.
In Texas where wildfires of course have been the big story of the week, the month and we have to say some of the best coverage has come from Dallas and WFAA television, particularly from unflappable reporter Bert Lozano.
BERT LOZANO: And here‘s the situation the firefighters are facing. You see all this is just green grass that has recently grown. And you can see here that this is dry brush and it‘s ammunition to help those wildfires.
OLBERMANN: Maybe the guy‘s pants burned down.
We begin with our annual trip to the island (INAUDIBLE) where it must be Greek Orthodox Easter because these guys are rocket crazy. Every year the population of this village locks up its homes, runs for cover, and the two main churches on the island celebrate the resurrection of their lord by blasting the crap out of each other with pyrotechnics.
In Palm Springs, the 74th birthday celebration of Hollywood‘s most famous monkey. Cheetah starred as himself in more than a dozen Tarzan movies in the 30‘s and 40‘s before drug addiction and the series of high profile food flinging incidents brought his (INAUDIBLE). At 74, Cheetah is the world‘s oldest living chimp. He looks like a monkey and he smells like one too.
This appears to be the bullfighting pee wee league. And we‘re not in Spain rather in Mexico City. That‘s 9-year-old Rafita Mirabal, Mexico‘s youngest matador. Isn‘t he just the cutest thing you ever—look out!
We begin once again with weird stuff we found on the internet and it‘s a hamster doing back flips. A flipping back flipping hamster. There you go. Roller skating monkey on the internet, worth the best seat in the house is behind the really strong tree. Here‘s a man riding a bicycle across Beachy Head in England. There‘s a cliff up ahead, there‘s a—
Tonight a guy in Asia eating a cactus. Ow! Ow! Ow! Mmm! Ow! Ow! Ow! Mmm! Okay that‘s enough. Cat‘s on the toilet everybody, look at him go.
You come home and there is a little bit of this in the toilet. You never think you‘re going to be so excited about that, but there it is and you‘re just jumping for joy. Calling everybody you know. She did it! She did it!
OLBERMANN: To (INAUDIBLE) for another exciting episode of “Extreme Makeover Lithuanian Prison Edition.” First let‘s welcome Naringa (ph) and the new look is big house chic for today‘s modern prisoner. Stylish enough to turn heads in the mess hall, while practical enough to wear while fighting off a shanking in the yard.
Next we have Onete (ph). She‘s back with a more conservative black dress and heels. It‘s a look that just screams out I was framed. And finally Gratzina (ph), isn‘t she something. How could someone so fabulous have killed all those people? Next up, pig ball, it‘s like soccer and there appears to be a foreign object on the pitch there. Can we get a shovel in here please?
In Japan worldwide leader in wicked cool robots for the COUNTDOWN, wicked cool robot of the week, it‘s Boto and it‘s wicked cool. When you think about it, why bother with Boto when you can have tank chair. Yeah, baby. Tank chair! In the small town of Texas, (INAUDIBLE) men dressed as demons roam the streets with whips swinging away at anyone in their paths. Each lash from a demon said to take away one sin committed during the previous year. Lord only knows whether that one guy in the sweater kept doing. The catholic tradition moved through the city and eventually ends in the Towne Center where the demons battle and lose to a guy in a beard dressed in sandals and a long flowing robe. And that man is Chuck Norris, everybody.
Officials rather in (INAUDIBLE) have carved a 22 mile hiking path into the 60 foot deep snow, creating a vast canyon trail that is expected to attract more than a million visitors. We bring you this story tonight in ODDBALL because when this thing collapses, we won‘t be able to play this funny music anymore. Will we?
You can see here that this is a dry brush.
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OLBERMANN: That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1100th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. A reminder to join us again at midnight eastern, 11:00 p.m. central, 9:00 pacific for the late edition of COUNTDOWN. Until then, the special edition of “Lockup Return to Rikers Island.” I‘m Keith Olbermann, keep your knees loose, good night and good luck.
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