updated 7/11/2006 1:38:55 PM ET 2006-07-11T17:38:55

Guests: John Dean, Paul F. Tompkins

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

Lack of intelligence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER HOEKSTRA (R-MI), CHAIR, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  It is not optional for this president not to keep the intelligence committees fully formed of what they are doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The president ripped by the conservative running the House Select Committee on Intelligence for holding back details of NSA spying.

Holding back nothing, John Dean joins us for a reaction and for a preview of his startling new book, “Conservatives Without Conscience.”

The end of cowboy diplomacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:   There‘s an old poster out West, as I recall, that said, “Wanted, dead or alive.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  From that, to North Korean six-party talks and negotiations with Iran.  Why the president was forced to turn in his tin star.

This guy has to turn in his tin brain, the most valuable player of the World Cup soccer tournament, after he cost his team the World Cup soccer championship.

The Suri Cruise paper trail.  We have a birth certificate.  I‘m sorry, we need three forms of ID, please.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “TODAY”)

TOM CRUISE:  You‘re glib.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Can you ID the new guy on HDNET?  Dan‘s got a new job.

So too she.  We‘ll recap the stranger-than-fiction chain of events that linked the ousters of star newsman and Star Jones.

Speaking of ousters, it‘s a final.  Adam Carolla one, Ann Coulter nothing.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ANN COULTER:  But I am really tight on time right now, because I already had a—

ADAM CAROLLA, TALK SHOW HOST:  All right, well, get lost.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE) hang up on Ann Coulter.

CAROLLA:  Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And, um, I had an appointment at Dr. Bartha‘s office. 

Well, isn‘t this where it used to be?

The worst doctor in the world allegedly blows up his landmark townhouse in the heart of New York City to keep it out of his hands of his wife in a divorce settlement.

Well, he‘s not much of a doctor, but he‘s not bad at demolition.

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

Good evening from New York.

The same Republican congressman who last month claimed that the weapons of mass destruction that supposedly led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq had been found has now told President Bush that he may have broken the law by keeping parts of the NSA domestic spying program secret even from the lawmakers responsible for overseeing them.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, will those who found the Michigan Republican credible last month find him just as credible now?  The White House‘s anger over the exposure of its clandestine intelligence programs now matched only by the anger of one of its staunchest allies, who is now saying that he has not heard enough, Peter Hoekstra, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, making his wrath known as far back as May 18 in a letter to the president that surfaced in “The New York Times” over the weekend, the Republican congressman questioning both the legality and the civility of the administration‘s conduct.

Quoting, “I have learned of some alleged intelligence community activities about which our committee has not been briefed.  If these allegations are true, they may represent a breach of responsibility by the administration, a violation of the law, and, just as importantly, a direct affront to me and the members of this committee who have so ardently supported efforts to collect information on our enemies.  The U.S. Congress simply should not have to play Twenty Questions to get the information that it deserves under our Constitution,” Representative Hoekstra expanding on his concerns over the weekend.

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HOEKSTRA:  We can‘t be briefed on every little thing that they are doing.  But in this case, there were at least—there was at least one major, what I consider significant activity that we had not been briefed on, that we have now been briefed on.  And I want to set the standard there, that it is not optional for this president, or any president or people in the executive community, not to keep the intelligence committees fully informed of what they are doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  I‘m joined now by Nixon White House counsel John Dean, author of a new book “Conservatives Without Conscience,” which hits bookstores officially on Tuesday.

John, as always, great thanks for your time.  Good to see you in person.

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL:  Nice to see you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  We must and we will talk about this remarkable book.

But given how much the modern conservative movement has meant, or come to mean, either correctly or incorrectly, George W. Bush, I want to ask you first about this lead story.  Are you at all heartened by the idea that these men, who are the president‘s allies in Congress, especially the more rabid ones like Mr. Hoekstra, the man who claimed that there were WMD found in Iraq, that, as we know, date from 1991, that even they have begun some sort of pushback against the White House?

DEAN:  Well, it‘s a glimmer, it‘s a glimmer of some institutional pride.  And how deep it runs, I‘m not sure yet.  We‘ve seen the same in the Senate, where there‘s been an occasional push, but there doesn‘t seem to be any follow-up.  So that‘s the real question, what happens next, if there will be any follow-up?  I suspect not, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Is it a—in terms of push, is it a push back that owes to the imminence of the midterm elections, or is it one that has to do with a genuine imbalance of power?  Is it political or constitutional?

DEAN:  I think it depends upon the individual.  With Hoekstra, I suspect there really is some committee pride, that he‘s probably being pressured by others on his committee, on both sides, the Democrats and the Republicans, that, Hey, what‘s going on here?  I‘m sure he must have shared this internally with his committee, and there was probably a lot of distress.

It‘s a committee that has the unique role to oversee the oversight—oversight of the intelligence community, and (INAUDIBLE) denied that.  When you get over in the Senate, somebody like Arlen Specter on signing statements, he‘ll hold one day of hearings, but then the issue goes away.

So that‘s why I say I don‘t know how deep it runs, and I don‘t know how far these people are trying to actually distance themselves from the president, given his bad ratings.

OLBERMANN:  It‘s interesting, there was so much personal in that letter to—from Mr. Hoekstra to Mr. Bush, that it seemed that there was as much offense taken that he personally, Mr. Hoekstra, did not know what Mr.  Bush‘s people were doing, as any violation of law there.  Is this—does this sort of segue us into the topic of the book, that there‘s, there‘s, there‘s, there‘s way too much personal going on here, rather than politically professional?

DEAN:  Well, I think, you know, the question is really whether it happened at the presidential level or the vice presidential level.  A lot of these efforts to withhold information from the Congress are really coming out of Cheney‘s office.  It may well be his office giving instructions, and the president might have given Hoekstra an assurance, Hey, I‘m going to give you everything I‘ve got when I got it, and he might have been offended by that.

So it‘s hard to tell.  We don‘t have enough facts yet.  But to segue into the book, there certainly are a number of conservatives up there who will march in lockstep when they get the word from the authority they are expected to follow.

OLBERMANN:  That would be the thesis of the book, and we‘ll go into that at length.  But I wanted to start at the very beginning.  You dedicated this book to Barry Goldwater.  What would he, in your opinion, having known him and having dealt with him on these political issues, have thought of the current conservative movement as it has become, and what would the conservative movement have thought of him at this point?  What do they think of him now?

DEAN:  Well, that‘s a—I think right now, we can say, in fact, I discuss this in the book, that Goldwater Republicanism is really RIP.  It‘s been put to rest by most of the people who are now active in moving the movement further to the right than it‘s ever been.

I think the senator, before he departed, was very distressed with conservatism.  In fact, it was our conversations back in 1994 that started this book.  It‘s really where I began.  We wanted to find answers to the questions as to why Republicans were acting as they were, why conservatives had taken over the party, and were being followed, you know, as easily as they were in taking the party where he didn‘t think it should go.

OLBERMANN:  What did you find?  In less than the 200 pages that the book—

DEAN:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  ... that the book goes into.

DEAN:  I ran into a massive study that had really been going on for 50 years now, by academics.  They‘ve never really shared this with the general public.  It‘s a remarkable analysis of the authoritarian personality, both those who are inclined to follow leaders, and those who jump in front and want to be the leaders.

It was not the opinion of social scientists, it was information they drew by questioning large numbers of people, hundreds of thousands of people, in anonymous testing, where they conceded, you know, their innermost feelings and reactions to things.  And it turned out that these people were—most of these that came out of the testing were people who had been prequalified to be conservatives, and then they found that this, indeed, fit with the authoritarian personality.

OLBERMANN:  Does it really—do the studies indicate that it really has anything to do with the political point of view?  Is it—would it be easier to essentially superimpose authoritarianism over the right than it would the left?  Or is it theoretically possible that they could they have gone in either direction, and it‘s just a question of people who like to follow other people?

DEAN:  They found—they have found really—maybe a small, 1 percent of the left, who follow authoritarianism, probably the far left.  But as far as widespread testing, it is just overwhelmingly our conservative orientation.

OLBERMANN:  There is an extraordinary amount of academic work that you quote in the book.  A lot of it is very unsettling.  It deals with psychological principles that are frightening and that may have faced other nations at other times, in Germany and Italy in the ‘30s coming to mind in particular.

But what—how does it apply now?  And to what degree should it scare us?  And to what degree is it something that, that, that, that, that might still be forestalled?

DEAN:  Well, to me, it was something of an epiphany to run into this information.  First, I‘d never read about it before.  I sort of worked my way into it until I found it.  It‘s not generally known out there what‘s going on.  And I think, from best we can tell, these people, the followers, a few of them, will change their ways when they realize what they‘re doing,  not even aware of their behavior.

The leaders, those who were inclined to dominate, are not going to change a second.  They‘re going to be what they are.

So by and large, the reason I write about this is, I think we need to understand it, we realize, when you take a certain step and vote a certain way and head in a certain direction, where this can end up.  So it‘s sort of a cautionary note.  It‘s a warning as to where this can go, because other countries have gone there.

OLBERMANN:  And the idea of leaders and followers going down this path, and perhaps taking a country with them, requires—this whole edifice requires an enemy, communism, al Qaeda, Democrats, me, whoever, for the two minutes hate.  I mean, there is—we overuse—I overuse the Orwellian analogies to nauseating proportions.  But it really was, in reading what, what, what, what you wrote about, and especially what the academics talked about, there was that, that two minutes hate thing.  There has to be an opponent, an enemy, to coalesce around, or the whole thing falls apart.  Is that the gist of it?

DEAN:  It is one of the things that, believe it or not, still holds conservatism together, because there are many factions and conservatisms, and their dislike or hatred of those they portray as liberal, who will be anybody who basically disagrees with them, is one of the cohesive factors.  There are a few others, but that‘s certainly one of the basics.

There‘s no question that the—particularly the followers,. they‘re terribly, they‘re very aggressive in their effort to pursue and help their authority figure out, or their authority beliefs out.  They will do whatever needs to be done, in many regards.  They will blindly follow.  They stay loyal too long.  And this is the frightening part of it.

OLBERMANN:  Let me read something from the book.  Let me read this one quote, then I have a question about it.

“Many people believe that neoconservatives and many Republicans appreciate that they are more likely to maintain influence and control of the presidency if the nation remains under ever-increasing threats of terrorism.  So they have no hesitation in pursuing policies that can provoke potential terrorists throughout the world.”

That‘s ominous, not just in the sense that authoritarians involved in conservatism, and now Republicanism, would politicize counterterror here, which we‘ve already argued that point on many occasions.  But the—are you actually saying here that they would set up—encourage terrorism from other countries to set them up as a bogeyman to have again that‘s, that‘s, that group to hate here, or group to be, more importantly, afraid of here?

DEAN:  What I‘m saying is that there has been fear-mongering, the likes of which we have not seen in a long time in this country.  It happened early in the cold war.  We got accustomed to it, we learned to live with it, we learned to understand what it was about and get in proportion.  We haven‘t done that yet with terrorism.

And this administration is really capitalizing on it and using it for its political advantage.  No question, the academic testing shows, the empirical evidence shows, that when people are frightened, they tend to go to these authority figures, they tend to become more conservative.  So it‘s paid off for them politically to do this.

OLBERMANN:  This all seems to require not merely venality or immorality, but a kind of amorality, where morals don‘t enter into it at all.  We‘re right.  So anything we do to preserve our process, our power, even if it by itself is wrong, it‘s right, in the greater sense.  It‘s that wonderful rationalization that everybody uses in small doses throughout their lives.  But is this, is this idea, this sort of psychological review of the whole thing, does it apply to Dick Cheney?  Does it apply to George Bush?  Does it apply to Bill Frist?  Who are the names on these authoritarian figures?

DEAN:  Well, you just named three that I discuss in some length in the book.  I focused in the book not on the Bush administration, and Cheney and the president, but I—because they really—I‘ve been there, done that.  But I wanted to understand is the—what they have done is, they have made it legitimate to have authoritarianism.  It was already operating on Capitol Hill.  After the ‘94 control by the Republicans of the Congress, it recreated the mood, it restructured the Congress itself in a very authoritarian style, in the House in particular.

Now, the Senate hasn‘t gone there yet, but it‘s going there, because more House members are moving over.

This atmosphere is what Bush and Cheney walked into.  They are authoritarian personalities, Cheney much more so than Bush, and they have made it legitimate, and they have taken it way past where anybody‘s ever taken it in the United States.

OLBERMANN:  Our society‘s best defense against that is what?  Do we have to hope that, as you suggested, the people who follow wise up and break away from this, the lock—sort of lockstep salute, (INAUDIBLE) of course, they‘re right, of course, there‘s WMD, of course, they‘re terrorists, of course, there‘s al Qaeda, of course, everything is the way the president says it?  Or do we rely on the hope that these are fanatics, and fanatics always screw up, because they would rather believe in their own cause than double-check their own math?

DEAN:  The lead researcher in this field told me, he said, I look at the numbers in the United States, and I see about 23 percent of the population who are pure right-wing authoritarian followers.  They‘re not going to change.  They‘re going to march over the cliff.  The best thing to deal with them—and they‘re growing.  And they have tremendous influence on Republican politics.  The best thing, the best defense is understanding them, to realize what they‘re doing, how they‘re doing it, and how they operate.  Then it can be kept in perspective, then they can be seen for what they are.

OLBERMANN:  Did any of this ring familiar to you from the Nixon administration?  Or is this a different world?

DEAN:  No, I must say that about everything that went wrong with Watergate, you could really count to authoritarianism as well.

OLBERMANN:  Give me an example.  (INAUDIBLE) in other words, not getting away with it was the—was a result of it too?

DEAN:  Take Gordon Liddy and his following whatever Nixon want, even (INAUDIBLE) anything he wants.  Salute, yes, sir, let‘s do it.

OLBERMANN:  And the story that he has told about you, (INAUDIBLE) and you‘ve told about him, about his saying, I have all this knowledge in my brain that could bring the president of the United States down, tell me to go and stand on a corner, and—what was the rest of it?

DEAN:  Tell me where you want me shot.  He said, I don‘t want you shooting me in my house, because I‘ve got children.  But shoot me on the street corner.  That‘s a loyal right-wing authoritarian follower in action, at the extreme.

OLBERMANN:  You‘ve been a historian, you‘ve been a part of history, you‘ve been to the (INAUDIBLE) -- one of the central moments of history in the 20th century.  What kind of danger—are we facing a legitimate threat to the concept of democracy in this country?

DEAN:  I don‘t think we are in a fascist road right now.  We are so close to it, though, Keith, that‘s why I wrote the book, because I want people to understand exactly what is going on, and why it‘s going on.

OLBERMANN:  It is an extraordinary document.  All the best with it.  John Dean, former counsel, White House counsel to Richard Nixon, author of the new book “Conservatives Without Conscience.”

As always, sir, great thanks for coming in.

DEAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Good to see you.

Also here, the changing rhetoric of White House foreign policy.  Bring it on replaced with, Let‘s talk.

And the first bit of proof that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes may actually have spawned.  There is a birth certificate for Suri.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  That‘s going to do it for me right now.  I‘ll be back in a little while to share the number one story on the COUNTDOWN with you.

In the interim, my colleague Alison Stewart takes the helm from beautiful downtown MSNBC headquarters.

Hi, Alison.

ALISON STEWART, GUEST HOST:  Got to wipe the sarcasm off the lens, Keith.  Thanks a lot.

Well, it seems President Bush is hanging up his spurs and tearing down all those Wanted, dead alive posters with Osama bin Laden‘s picture on them.  Sure, we‘re talking metaphorically here.

But in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, U.S. foreign policy these days really does seem to be bringing out the gray of a formerly black-and-white, good-versus-evildoer kind of presidential posture, what his pop, the other President Bush, would have called a kinder, gentler commander in chief, what “TIME” magazine is calling “The End of Cowboy Diplomacy.”

It‘s a good thing we have White House correspondent Kelly O‘Donnell to tackle the question for us.  Where have all the cowboys gone?

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KELLY O‘DONNELL, NBC WHITE HOUSE Correspondent (voice-over):  Nearly five years ago, when the destruction of 9/11 was still smoldering, President Bush‘s tough talk may have provided comfort.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  He drew upon his Texas roots to assure the nation Osama bin Laden would be captured.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  There‘s an old poster out West, as I recall, that said, Wanted, dead or alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  That cowboy bravado made its mark on U.S. foreign policy, as the president sternly and repeatedly warned other nations to choose sides in late 2001.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  You either with us or you‘re against us in the fight against terror.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  With the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan underway, the president prepared the country for a bold step in U.S. foreign policy, preemption.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  The only path to safety is the path of action, and this nation will act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  President Bush chose to act to remove Saddam Hussein, a decision he says today he does not regret, though the war has been costlier than imagined, his policies and leadership style battle-tested.

One concession...

BUSH:  Wanted, dead or alive, that kind of talk, it, I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted.

O‘DONNELL:  The much bigger change, with other serious threats, no talk of preemption today, as the president pursues a decidedly different course.

BUSH:  So we‘re, (INAUDIBLE) working at diplomacy, and you‘re watching the diplomacy work, not only in North Korea but in Iran.

O‘DONNELL (on camera):  And while the president talks about the necessity of diplomacy, he also calls it painful to watch, saying the process can be slow and cumbersome.

I‘m Kelly O‘Donnell at the White House.  Now back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEWART:  Kelly O‘Donnell, thanks a bunch.

From cowboy diplomacy to a load of bull.  Day four, el dio quatro in Pamplona, where we root for the bovine to take out a few of los loco hombres who chased them down the street.

And speaking of head-butts, the leader of the French soccer team goes head to head, or rather head to sternum, on his way out of the World Cup championship.  But that doesn‘t stop him from being named player of the tournament.

That is all ahead (INAUDIBLE) COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEWART:  I‘m Alison Stewart.  Keith Olbermann will be back later with our number-one story.  But he left the important stuff to me.  So let‘s get to the wacky video, crazy animals, and just some dumb criminals.

Let‘s play Oddball.

And we begin in Spain with day four of the running of the bulls in Pamplona.  I think you remember the rules.  Six bulls, 100 winos, 875 yards, run like hell.  It was a fairly uneventful Monday morning run.  One Spanish guy was gored, another guy broke his face.  There were various minor trampling injuries, and, of course, all the bulls are dead, so really, a great time had by all.

Four more grens (ph) are made in the annual festival, one each day for the rest of the week.  Here‘s hoping the bulls can get their act together.  Just visualize, boys, visualize.

To Poland, where President Lech Kaczynski today swore in the country‘s new prime minister, his identical twin brother, Jaroslaw.  Oh, so what could possibly go wrong there?  Here, the two most powerful men in Poland shook hands at a ceremony, while a group of dignitaries looked on, thinking, Didn‘t anyone in Poland see “The Parent Trap”?

And finally, to Jefferson County, Colorado, for a roll number one (ph) on why you should never park your car in a falling-rock zone.  A rock might fall on it.  The owner of this car had gone hiking, so he wasn‘t actually in the vehicle when it was crushed by a giant boulder.  He‘s perfectly safe.  The car?  Oh, not so much.  Hoping that guy had insurance, or long pants (ph).

Finally, a little bit of proof that Tom Kat indeed had a Tom kitten.  But producing a birth certificate for little Suri Cruise is not swaying the skeptics, who need visual proof that she exists.

And losing her religion.  Is Madonna putting the kibosh on Kabbalah?

Those stories ahead.

But now, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, British college students, all of them.  An insurance company has conducted a new survey of students at 89 universities across the U.K.  Survey says 59 percent own an MP3 player, 40 percent take their laundry home to wash, and a full one-third admit they have had at least one stolen, once stolen a traffic cone after a night out.  I mean, who hasn‘t?

Number two, organizers of the Bestival, a huge three day party on the Isle of White, at the last minute they had to change everything and cancel this year‘s circus theme after, quote, “A number of ticket holders said they had suffered from coulrophobia,” that is an irrational fear of clown.  Again, who hasn‘t. 

And number one, Cory Neddermeyer of Dennison, Iowa.  A judge has just now denied him unemployment benefits after he was fired from his job at an ethanol factory.  There was an incident.  It seems Neddermeyer was a recovering alcoholic and one day in spring, the 30-foot wide of alcohol used to make the fuel, 190 proof, just became too much to resist.  He says he only drank a couple of ounces but co-workers found him in an incoherent state, unable to say his own name, with a blood alcohol level of .72.  Again, who hasn‘t.

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STEWART:  It has been 83 days, 20 hours and 34 minutes and counting since the birth of a very famous little girl.  Oh, I know there are rumors about Tom-Kat‘s little kitten, Suri, because there has not been any public photo documentation of the Cruise-Holmes love child.  Some have actually challenged her existence.  Others speculate she‘s the reincarnation of L.  Ron Hubbard or even the divine daughter of the alien ruler of the galactic confederacy, Zanu, or maybe her dad‘s couch jumping antics were embarrassing enough to have an 11 week old thinking “I cannot be seen in with this dude.”  Our No. 3 story in the COUNTDOWN, we have breaking news.  Suri Cruise exists.  Well, at least on paper she does.  On-line magazine, Tmz.com had obtained a copy of Tom-Kitten‘s official her birth certificate.  This proof of birth, however, is raising more questions about the whereabouts and existence of the little one.  More on the certificate conundrum with comedian Paul F.  Tompkins, but first, our correspondent Peter Alexander on why after 83 days we have yet to see baby Suri.

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PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Not that it‘s any of our business, but where is baby Suri?  One Web site has even posted a count up clock, keeping track of every second since Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes baby was born, April 18.

KEN BAKER, “US WEEKLY”:  We haven‘t even seen a picture of Katie Holmes carrying Suri wrapped in a blanket or them trying to hid from photographers with the baby.  We‘ve seen nothing.

ALEXANDER:  After her father‘s famous feet on the furniture stunts and her mom‘s belly brandished across countless glossy magazines, it‘s fair that fans have expected a baby presentation be fit for a king.  But according to insiders, the bidding war for Suri‘s first photos ended abruptly without any shoot ever taking place.  Even in the land of paparazzi, it‘s become an unusual game of Hollywood hide and seek, fueling a flood of speculation. 

BAKER:  Is there something wrong with the baby‘s health or is Tom just being very private?  Or is it Tom is going to plan some big media blow-out where he‘s going to unveil the baby?  We just don‘t know. 

ALEXANDER:  By now, once mumbled rumors have exploded into a roar of doubt.  Conspiracy theorists don‘t believe was even born.

(on camera):  Have you ever known a parent not willing to whip out a photo of their newborn?  Stars rarely shy away from sharing.

(voice-over):  We‘ve met Britney‘s bouncing baby boy and well as Moses and Apple, Brad and Angelina showcased Shiloh less than two weeks after she arrived.  As for Suri‘s parents, a source told “Us Weekly,” “She‘s happy, he‘s happy.  The baby is doing great and they‘re just busy living their lives.  Still, nearly three months later this baby mystery has taken on a life larger than its own.

Peter Alexander, NBC News, Hollywood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEWART:  As promised, Paul F.  Tompkins, comedian and contributor to VH1‘s “Best Week Ever,” joins me to talk about the Hollywood baby shrouded in mystery. 

Paul, simple question:  Do you know if anyone has seen this child of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes?

PAUL F. TOMPKINS, COMEDIAN:  Well, Alison, there‘s no actual confirmation of anyone seeing the baby.  I mean, a lot of people talk a big game and those people have been debunked as the spinners of urban legends.  A lot of people say they sort of see Suri  out of the corner of their eye, but when they turn to look she‘s gone.  And of course.

STEWART:  The tooth fairy was like that when I was a kid.

TOMPKINS:  Absolutely.  But you did get that money didn‘t you?

STEWART:  Yeah, I did.  I got my quarter.

TOMPKINS:  And a lot of people are saying now that if you say “Suri Cruise” in the mirror three times in a darkened room she will appear to you in your dreams.

STEWART:  All right, I‘m going to try that after the show.  I want to get people caught up.

TOMPKINS:  Give it a shot.

STEWART:  ...on this thing—the viewers caught up on it.  So, OK, the hospital Suri was born in has a policy of filing birth certificates within 10 days of birth, yet according to the paperwork, it wasn‘t filed until May 8, 20 days after the birth, and according to Tmz.com, a nurse who was not present during the birth, has never seen the child, but signed the certificate, and that‘s OK with hospital policy.  Does that sound kosher to you?

TOMPKINS:  Well, I think it‘s easy to say that that sounds sort of fishy but, you know, whether you wait 10 days or 20 days to file the birth certificate the baby‘s not going to get any less born, you know what I mean?  So what‘s the rush?  Also, that doctor that didn‘t sign the birth certificate, that was present at the birth, didn‘t sign didn‘t sign because birth as Tom and Katie told us, is very traumatic and that doctor has been not able to speak, sign his name, or even read since that birth.  It all goes back to keeping the child safe from trauma.

STEWART:  I understand this, and I know there are bigger issues in the world, North Korea playing with missiles and a kidnapped Israeli.

TOMPKINS:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know if that‘s true.

STEWART:  Escalating violence.  (INAUDIBLE) take a little mental break and talk about what would be an enormous story with the conspiracy theorists are actually right and this baby doesn‘t exist, what would this accomplish for this Hollywood couple?

TOMPKINS:  Well, you know, a lot of people, they want to know what it‘s like to have a baby before they get one.  So, it‘s sort of a large celebrity wealthy equivalent of getting a puppy first.  You know, see how you deal with that.  So they—now they know this is the amount of attention they‘re going to get, the amount of gifts, that sort of thing, so when they get really serious about it they go into it a little bit better informed.  Plus they already got all those clothes.

STEWART:  Before I let you go.  What role is scientology playing in the fact we‘re not seeing Suri?  What do you think?

TOMPKINS:  Well, you know, a lot of people have been very, if I may say, glib about Tom and Katie shielding the baby from humans covered with aliens.  Which is ridiculous and insulting because as everyone know, we‘re born covered with aliens, that‘s the way it works.  So we need Lord Zenu to come down and take care of everything.

STEWART:  Paul F.  Tompkins, I appreciate you straightening me out on that.

TOMPKINS:  My pleasure, Alison.

STEWART:  Paul F.  Tompkins, comedian and contributor of VH1‘s “Best Week Ever.”  Thanks a lot.

TOMPKINS:  Thank you.

STEWART:  Also star Jones has a new gig, one that doesn‘t involve getting hit in the face by a football.  Keith will be back to share that with you.  And the head butt heard around the world.  The French captain gets sent to the timeout chair during the World Cup finals, bending his team‘s chances and his, well, his career.  Those stories ahead, now are COUNTDOWN‘s “Top 3 Sound Bites” of the day.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LARRY KING, “LARRY KING LIVE”:  They really got lucky.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, it must have been the news person in you, Lar.  We hear the explosion, you think terrorism, and you head out of your hotel onto the street.

KING:  (INAUDIBLE) I got on my cell phone.  I‘ve only had a cell phone for a little over a year.  I don‘t like cell phones.  They go dead a lot. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yeah.

KING:  But CNN made me have one.

LESTER HOLT, MSNBC NEWS ANCHOR:  Oh, Tennessee, good morning to all of you.  Thanks for being here.

JOHN:  Good morning.

MELISSA:  Good morning, Les.

(GRUNTING)

(SQUEALING)

HOLT:  And we invited Wilbur on for that exact reason.  We understand, John, he‘s a big talker.

The word was that poor Wilber would eventually go to market and so Melissa you step in.  How did you convince your husband that wasn‘t probably a good idea?

(CROSSTALK)

(SQUEALING)

MELISSA:  (INAUDIBLE)

CAROLLA:  Ann Coulter, who was supposed about an hour and a half ago is now on the phone, as well—Ann.

COULTER:  Hello.

CAROLLA:  Hi Ann, you‘re late, babe doll.

COULTER:  Somebody gave me the wrong number.

CAROLLA:  How did you get the right number?  Just dialed randomly, eventually got through to our show?

COULTER:  No. My publicist e-mailed it to me after checking with you. 

CAROLLA:  Ah, I see.

COULTER:  But I am really tight on time right now, because I already have...

CAROLLA:  All right, well get lost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh my god, did you just hang up on Ann Coulter?

CAROLLA:  Yes.

Listen you (INAUDIBLE), don‘t call in an hour and a half late and tell me you‘re tight on time.  Of course you‘re tight on time, you‘re an hour and a half (INAUDIBLE) late.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEWART:  OK, this may be why soccer isn‘t popular in the States.  The man who head-butted his way out of the World Cup and the champion still gets to win the title of top player in the tournament, that‘s so French.  When Keith returns for the No. 1 story of the day, the coincidence linking Star Jones and Dan Rather.  You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEWART:  It has been a lifetime or two since the French were known for their bad assery on the world stage, especially when Germany‘s been part of the story.  Our No. 2 story on the COUNTDOWN, we may have discovered the why the French prefer not to fight.  Sunday in Berlin, French soccer star, Zinedine Zidane, chose the waning moments of the World Cup final display some international aggression.  The results?  Not good.  But that didn‘t stop the International Football Association from naming him the top player of the entire tournament.  Correspondent Kier Simmons of our British affiliate, ITN, has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEIR SIMMONS, ITN REPORTER (voice-over):  In the 109th minute of the World Cup finals the French star player did something you might se on a Rugby pitch.  A red card for the captain of Le Blue, a glorious career ended in defeat and controversy.  Zinedine Zidane is said to be deeply unhappy.  In Paris today, fellow players had to urge him to come forward and greet French fans.  He spent just over 10 seconds on the balcony.

(on camera):  Despite the fact that Zinedine Zidane may have (INAUDIBLE) there is no sense (INAUDIBLE) amongst these fans.  They are singing “merci Zazou.”

(voice-over):  Because now in France, the controversy is over what might have been said by the Italian defender, Materazzi, something perhaps about Zidane‘s Algerian parents.  And controversy over whether the fourth official might have looked at television pictures of the incident before advising the referee on a red card.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think Materazzi say something really, really bad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What he say to Zidane, I guess it disgusting.

SIMMONS:  It‘s not surprising so many French fans feel so bruised.  Zinedine Zidane has been a legend in France since his footballing career took off in the early ‘90s.  His idol status came in 1998 when he scored two goals, that ensured France won the World Cup.  Then in 2000, he helped France clench the championship, he was named “Player of the Tournament in 200.  He‘s helped his fellow players win many times and last night is (INAUDIBLE).

THIERRY HENRY, FRENCH STRIKER:  Oh, they want to say thank you, you know, because, not only was a great player, but he was a great man and I think not only France (INAUDIBLE), but the world of football will miss him.

SIMMONS:  Yesterday evening Zidane‘s face was protected on the Arch de Triumph, the end of a triumphant career.  What a shame it had to end like this.

Kier Simmons, ITVNews, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEWART:  With one career kaput, we move to those on life support with our celebrity roundup of entertainment news, “Keeping Tabs” beginning with the burning question on everybody‘s mind today.  Is Madonna about to quit Kabbalah?  Well, apparently not, a spokesperson denies it, but that hasn‘t stopped the rampant rumors on European tabloids that Madge is fed up with the financial burden and strict teachings of the religion.  One tab reporting Madonna would like her children to be able to celebrate Christmas but can‘t as long as they‘re involved with the obscure Jewish sect.  Two words for you, Madge, Kabbalah bush. 

Meanwhile, there seems to be no limit to the level of weirdness possible in the world of Michael Jackson.  The latest comes from a suit against him by a former business partner who says Michael stiffed him for millions of dollars.  But in a deposition obtained by Tmz.com, Mr. Jackson says he was shocked, shocked to find out that “gay porn” was this partner‘s business.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL JACKSON, PERFORMER:  He was directing two guys.  They were completely naked from head to toe and he was directing—telling one what to do with the other (INAUDIBLE) with their penises.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And this shocked you?

JACKSON:  Well, because I surprised that he was in that business, which he never told me and it was something that is not appropriate, you know, for what I was projecting. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  For what he as projecting?  Did he really say that?

Marc Schaffel who is suing Jackson contends the pop star knew his business all along. 

And (INAUDIBLE) stories, it‘s best to give the segue gods a little time off, such as when it appears Ann Coulter has been all-cleared on those plagiarism charges she‘s been facing.  Her syndicater issuing a statement late Tuesday saying its internal investigation into allegations that the conservative columnist lifted material from other sources has turned up no evidence.  Quoting from the statement, “Universal Press Syndicate is confident in the (INAUDIBLE) of Miss Coulter, an attorney and frequent media target, to know when to make attribution and when not to.” 

Well, that does it for me tonight.  I‘ll see me on my day job at 3:00 p.m. Tuesday with “The Most” where you decide.  We report on the most viewed and emailed stories from the Web and print, that‘s right here on MSNBC, 3:00.  I‘ll see you.  Keith Olbermann is up next with the No. 1 story in the COUNTDOWN:  How Dan Rather‘s gaffe on CBS News led not only to his own ousting, but caused a domino effect through the industry even affecting Star Jones.  Keith Olbermann shares that story from New York when COUNTDOWN continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Finally from back here in New York, it is a quote whose attribution ranges from Dale Carnegie to Ingrid Bergman.  Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.  Our No. 1 story on the COUNTDOWN, the collective heart of our staff and management hopes that deposed “View” co-host, Star Jones Reynolds feels happy, successful or both as she begins her week long stint as host of House and Garden television‘s “House Hunters, New York City.”  But if Mrs. Jones Reynolds feels despair about going from channel seven on your cable system to somewhere considerably north on the dial, she has company in her misery.  Deposed CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather has agreed to host “Dan Rather Reports” on HDNet, which is not only in the 700s in the Manhattan cable system, but is owned by billionaire loose cannon Mark Cuban.  HDNet currently only reached about three million homes, so even if everybody tunes in, all of them, all three million for Dan Rather‘s new show, it would barely be half of the average six to seven million people who watched the CBS Evening News every night when he anchored it.  HGTV has about 7.9 million subscribers, so Star Jones could hypothetically reach far more viewers than Mr. Rather, if anyone cares what she has to say about finding a home in New York City. 

Plus, once again, the dissimilar careers of Star Jones and Dan Rather are unexpectedly, inexplicably intertwined.  The evil liberal media has failed to cover the true story of the plot to destroy our god-given rights to watch the same stuff on TV year after mind numbing year.  But we will not be cowered.  The truth, the hiding meaning, the conspiracies revealed here for the first time.  Well, second time really, we already ran the story once before.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over):  It all began on September 8, 2004.

DAN RATHER, “60 MINUTES” HOST:  We have new documents and new information.

OLBERMANN:  On “60 Minutes,” Dan Rather reported that the organization had in its possession copies of previously undiscovered documents questioning President Bush‘s service, or perhaps lack thereof, in the Texas Air National Guard, the “Killian memos.”   But within hours bloggers had discovered the memos had issues, serious issues.  Dan Rather and CBS News got into the war and of the historically dubious typewriter and an amazing sequence of events was set in motion.  The subsequent political frenzy may have hastened Mr. Rather‘s retirement, may have delayed it, but either way, it certainly started this remarkable sequence of events that might contain the true explanation of the “Killian memo‘s” saga.

RATHER:  And to each of you, courage.

OLBERMANN:  And thus, had the first domino, fallen.  Mr. Rather was all faster that a calico dress in a West Texas prom night and so was a chain reaction that would change the face of TV as we know it, from black rock to 30 rock.  Katie Couric was the next domino. 

KATIE COURIC, NEWS ANCHOR:  I‘ve decided I‘ll be leaving “Today” at the end of May.

OLBERMANN:  After Bob Schieffer‘s interregnum.  Couric would become Rather‘s successor as the next anchor of the CBS evening news.  And that opened up her job on “Today.”  

MEREDITH VIEIRA, “FMR.  “VIEW” CO-HOST:  NBC has asked me to co-host the “Today” show.  And I.

OLBERMANN:  So, Vieira bolted ABC to take the chair next for Matt Lauer because Couric had grabbed Rather‘s chair and that meant there would be an open chair on everyone‘s favorite female gab-fest, to fill the air as penny loafers, they would need a class act on “The View.”  someone distinguished. 

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, COMEDIAN:  What did I do?   I‘m fat, I yell, and I sometimes say the “F” word. 

OLBERMANN:  In other jobs these would be considerable drawbacks, on “The View” they‘re a positive boon.  And thus would fall the next domino.  O‘Donnell, even after the debacle of her Broadway musical about Boy George called “Taboo,” will replace the departing Vieira, who‘s replacing the departing Couric, who‘s replacing the departed Rather.  But there‘s one condition, if O‘Donnell is in, Star Jones has to be out.  The couch just is not big enough for the both of them, possibly literally.  And as you can imagine for Star, rumors that she‘d be kicked off the show hit her like a football in the face. 

As for Ms. Jones, there is no telling where she‘ll end up, perhaps drama (INAUDIBLE), perhaps CNN at 8:00 Eastern, perhaps the offensive of the Philadelphia Eagles.  And all of this, the straight line from Star Jones‘ job search to O‘Donnell to Vieira, to Couric, to Rather-all of it started with those “Killian memos” and the source Bill Burkett.  No Bill Burkett, maybe he‘s still on the CBS evening news. 

RATHER:  Good evening.

OLBERMANN:  Katie Couric might still be on NBC...

COURIC:  And welcome...

OLBERMANN:  Meredith Vieira might still be on “The View.”  Rosie O‘Donnell might still be out of work. 

O‘DONNELL:  I‘m sorry to say this on camera, but I did throw up in the morning.

OLBERMANN:  And Star Jones might still have a job.

STAR JONES, FMR.  “VIEW” CO-HOST:  Yeah I‘m Hercules, Hercules, Hercules.

OLBERMANN:  So, who generated those documents the “Killian memos?”   Who tipped off the rightwing bloggers about the issues?   What could their motive possibly have been?  It remains a mystery, one no man may ever solve, unless...

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  We‘re on to you, Boy George, if that is your real name.  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,166 since the declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, goodnight and good luck.                            

Our MSNBC coverage continues now with “Scarborough Country.”

Joe, good evening.

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.

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