Aug. 30, 2006 | 9:00 p.m. ET

Feeling morally, intellectually confused?

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis—and the sober contemplation—of every American.

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence -- indeed, the loyalty -- of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land. Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants -- our employees -- with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; and not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as “his” troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.

More from Bloggerman

Video: Video: Feeling morally, intellectually confused?

Aug. 30, 2006 |   8:40 p.m. ET

Leaks and Liars

Our No. 3 story in the COUNTDOWN tonight is a threesome, actually.  Lies, damned lies, and one truth.  But we‘ll start with the truth.  The truth revealed, possibly lost somewhat in the frenzy over a guy who did not kill JonBenet Ramsey. 

It is the revelation by “Newsweek” magazine that Richard Armitage, then the No. 2 man at the State Department was indeed the first source behind Robert Novak‘s column, outing the CIA operative, Valerie Plame, the wife of Joseph Wilson.  You will recall Wilson, of course, revealed that President Bush was quoting bogus information, the infamous 16-words about an Iraqi bid to obtain yellow cake uranium from Niger.  “Newsweek‘s” accounts suggests, quoting a lawyer familiar with the whole thing, that Armitage was not part of an orchestrated plan to discredit Wilson, however the “New York Times” today reporting that Armitage only knew about Plame from a department memo about here that had been compiled at the request of the office of Vice President Cheney.  Specifically Mr. Cheney‘s then chief of staff, now indicted perjury defendant, I.  Lewis Libby. 

And if you will recall, Novak‘s original column, he says, “Two senior administration officials told me Wilson‘s wife suggested sending him Niger.” Richard Wolf sorts this out for us presently. 

But speaking of Mr. Cheney‘s efforts to sell the war, we come now to the damned lies category.  “U.S. News and World Report” say the famously secretive vice president has decided to cooperate with a biography.  What experienced scholar will gain this coveted access?  Which probing historian will drill into Mr. Cheney‘s many controversies?  Meet first-time biographer Stephen Hayes.  What experience does he have?  Well, for the conservative “Weekly Standard” he wrote hard-hitting pieces like this one, courageously titled “Dick Cheney Was Right,” he also wrote “The Connection: 

How al Qaeda‘s Collaboration with Saddam Hussein has Endangered America.”  Based on extensive reporting done in the remote mountains of Washington, D.C . 

More famously, when Cheney has been asked to back up his claims of ties between Iraq and al Qaeda, he‘s pointed people to articles by Hayes, articles that back up their claims by pointing to documents provided by the minions of Mr. Cheney, and articles, we should note, that Mr. Cheney has continued to cite even after their omissions and outright refutations have been revealed.  Heck, first-ever vanity biography of an American vice president. 

Lastly under this heading called it a lie, call it a slip-up, but in either case, Senator Bill Frist misdiagnosed his career on the latest application to renew his license.  The senator‘s office has acknowledged that he has not met the official requirements to keep his medical license active in Tennessee, even thought his filing with the state Health Department said he had.  Turns out that in January of 2005, Tennessee started to require 40 hours of continuing education like seminars or conferences in the preceding two years, Dr.  Frist‘s application said he had.  He hadn‘t.  Although maybe he counts his pioneering video conference diagnosis of Terri Schiavo as continuing education.  Even thought it turned out to be wrong, it was definitely an education.  If that does not meet the requirement the senator still has 180 days to make it up. 

As promised let‘s call in “Newsweek‘s” senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe, also a political analyst for MSNBC. 

Video: Leaks and liars

Aug. 30, 2006 | 8:15 p.m. ET

Dean responds to Rumsfeld

The president getting his own chance to address the American Legion convention tomorrow, Mr. Bush scheduled to arrive in Utah later this evening, protesters in Salt Lake City today getting a jump on his arrival, that city‘s mayor even joining in, calling Mr. Bush a, quote, “dishonest, warmongering, human-rights-violating president,” Vice President Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld both having kicked off the PR offensive Monday with remarks before the annual gathering of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Nevada, any notion today that Mr. Rumsfeld might have been acting as a loan wolf at Tuesday‘s speech obliterated by the lack of a resignation announcement from the White House, along with this comment from the Pentagon spokesman.

Quote, “Facts are facts.  As the (INAUDIBLE) secretary said in his speech, America and the free world face a gathering threat of challenges from a vicious enemy that is serious, lethal, and relentless.  There are important lessons from history that we ought to be mindful of as we talk about how we are going to meet the challenges extremist terror organizes present.”

Both sides can say whatever they want, but the latest facts in Iraq are these, a series of bombings, killing at least 66 people today, more than 200 killed since Sunday.

Time now to call in the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean.

Video: Dean responds to Rumsfeld remarks

Aug. 30, 2006 | 2:03 p.m. ET

Must-see 'Countdown'

Things have changed since we sent out today's newsletter... worth noting.

Keith will have a commentary on Donald Rumsfeld's "fascism" remarks.

It's a must-see edition of Countdown.

Aug. 30, 2006 | 1:13 p.m. ET

Tonight on Countdown

Tonight, Howard Dean joins Keith to respond to this:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday the world faces "a new type of fascism" and warned against repeating the pre-World War II mistake of appeasement. Rumsfeld alluded to critics of the Bush administration's war policies in terms associated with the failure to stop Nazism in the 1930s, "a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among the Western democracies." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/30/AR2006083000704.html

Countdown w/ Keith Olbermann broadcasts LIVE at 8 pm et, and the count is never complete without you. Join us.

The leak of information about an undercover CIA employee that provoked a special prosecutor's investigation of senior White House officials came from then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, according to a former Armitage colleague at the department. Armitage told newspaper columnist Robert D. Novak in the summer of 2003 that Valerie Plame, the wife of a prominent critic of the Iraq war, worked for the CIA, the colleague said. In October of that year, Armitage admitted to senior State Department officials that he had made the remark, which was based on a classified report he had read. Novak collected what he considered to be a confirming comment from White House political strategist Karl Rove, then wrote a column in July 2003 that cited Plame's CIA employment as a reason to question the credentials of the critic, former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/28/AR2006082801278.html

Maine National Guard members in Iraq and Afghanistan are never far from the thoughts of their loved ones. But now, thanks to a popular family-support program, they're even closer.

Welcome to the ``Flat Daddy" and ``Flat Mommy" phenomenon, in which life-size cutouts of deployed service members are given by the Maine National Guard to spouses, children, and relatives back home. The Flat Daddies ride in cars, sit at the dinner table, visit the dentist, and even are brought to confession, according to their significant others on the home front. ``I prop him up in a chair, or sometimes put him on the couch and cover him up with a blanket," said Kay Judkins of Caribou, whose husband, Jim, is a minesweeper mechanic in Afghanistan. ``The cat will curl up on the blanket, and it looks kind of weird. I've tricked several people by that. They think he's home again." http://www.boston.com/news/local/maine/articles/2006/08/30/guard_families_cope_in_two_dimensions/

We may not know what Tom Cruise' daughter looks like on the outside, but her insides are about to become a little less mysterious. Turning "fine art" into what may be the most subjective term in the world, a bronze sculpture entitled Suri's Bronzed Baby Poop, inspired by TomKitten's first solid meal and the fecal matter that presumably followed, will go on display Wednesday. http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,19888,00.html

That's some of what we're planning for tonight's show.

-- Carey Fox

Countdown Home: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/

Other News:

Hurricane John has become a dangerous Category 4 storm and is likely to strengthen further while traveling closer to Mexico's Pacific coast than previously thought, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Wednesday. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14583931/

Three men accused of plotting to blow up U.S.-bound airliners made their first court appearance Wednesday and were ordered held until next week. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14580829/

A study by two liberal groups says the chief executives of corporations making big profits from the war on terror are enjoying far bigger pay increases than CEOs of non-defense companies. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14584694/

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist did not meet all the requirements needed to keep his medical license active — even though he gave paperwork to Tennessee officials indicating that he had, his office acknowledged Tuesday. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14578640/from/RS.4/

No, Katie Couric didn’t suddenly lose 20 pounds. The incoming "CBS Evening News" anchor appears significantly thinner in a network promotional magazine photo thanks to digital airbrushing. Couric, 49, said she hadn’t known about the digitally reworked version until she saw the issue. The former NBC "Today" show host told the Daily News, "I liked the first picture better because there’s more of me to love." http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14584870/

Office communication just isn't what it used to be. For folks over 40, the following instant message may look like nothing more than gobbledygook: "#s look gd… lnch @ 1/ back l8r." But for younger employees, it's just simple shorthand for: "The numbers look good. I'm leaving for lunch at 1 p.m., and I'll be back later." http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14576541/

Final false alarm for Karr

Aug. 29, 2006 | 8:45 p.m. ET

When John Mark Karr became a suspect in the killing of JonBenet Ramsey when he claimed he was with the little girl when she died, the ten-year old case suddenly moved to hyper-active center-stage for almost two weeks.

But late yesterday, the revelation that his DNA did not match that at the crime scene, led the Boulder District Attorney not to file charges against him and, as they say, let recriminations begin.

In our number one story on the Countdown...

Yes, our long national cable news nightmare is over,  just not for the Boulder D.A., Mary Lacy.

Ms. Lacy stepped up, took full responsibility today for every inch of the investigation -- including the expense of getting Mr. Karr back to the United States -- and she was well aware of some public anger.

Video: Final false alarm for Karr

Aug. 29, 2006 | 8:45 p.m. ET

Separation Anxiety

In so many important respects, they were two people living as one for four years.

Kendra and Maliyah Herrin were born eight weeks early and joined at the abdomen and plevis until 22 days ago.

In our number two story on the Countdown...

Video: Twins learn to live apart

Aug. 29, 2006 | 8:25 p.m. ET

Let's Play Oddball!

Tonight: A special "Weird Drunken Sports from Other Countries" edition

And we begin along the Vuoska River in Saint Petersburg, Russia -- for the annual festival of white water rafting and inflatable women that is: The fourth annual "Bubble Babba Challenge 2006."

150 swimmers and their blow-up companions braved the icy water and rapids for the one kilometer race.

Contestants have to complete their dolls...a free hotel room and a bicycle pump.

Video: 'Oddball': International drunken sports

Aug. 29, 2006 | 12:15 P.M. ET

Tonight on "Countdown"

Bells tolled in this shattered city Tuesday morning, marking the moment one year earlier when New Orleans’ levees buckled, unleashing a torrent of water that ripped homes from their foundations and sent half the city into an uncertain exile. As the bells rang, survivors of the storm gathered outside City Hall. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14567350/

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday accused critics of the Bush administration's Iraq and counterterrorism policies of trying to appease "a new type of fascism." In unusually explicit terms, Rumsfeld portrayed the administration's critics as suffering from "moral and intellectual confusion" about what threatens the nation's security and accused them of lacking the courage to fight back. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14570794/

Vice President Dick Cheney, seizing on Democratic calls to pull troops out of Iraq, on Monday linked early withdrawal to the possibility of terrorist attacks in the United States. "Some in our own country claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone," Cheney told a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno. "A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would be ... a ruinous blow to the future security of the United States." http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2006-08-29T045051Z_01_N28360985_RTRUKOC_0_US-IRAQ-CHENEY.xml&archived=False

Karl Rove was not "frog-marched" out of the White House in handcuffs as his detractors had hoped, but the past year was certainly a low point for President Bush's close friend and chief political strategist. A criminal investigation put Rove under scrutiny for months, then he was forced to surrender a key policy role in a move that raised questions about his authority in the White House. While Rove fought the allegations and kept a low public profile, he never lost his unparalleled influence on the president, say those close to him. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14568739/

Countdown w/ Keith Olbermann broadcasts LIVE at 8 pm et, and the count is never complete without you. Join us.

Alison Stewart in for Keith one more night, but he will be back tomorrow.

Rain began falling Tuesday morning as residents hurried to make last-minute preparations for Tropical Storm Ernesto, which is expected to strengthen before striking the vulnerable Florida Keys and populous South Florida. The storm has a chance of regaining hurricane strength before it makes landfall as early as Tuesday night, the National Hurricane Center said. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14565749/

Boulder D.A. explains handling of John Mark Karr.

Herrin twins may leave ICU Monday. The formerly conjoined girls continue to rest from surgery; Maliyah responds to her family. Four-year-old North Salt Lake twins Maliyah and Kendra Herrin continue to improve daily since the 26-hour surgery to separate them. http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_4242219

That's some of what we're planning for tonight's show.

Finally,

BEIJING -- A woman in Hohhot, the capital of north China's Inner Mongolia region, crashed her car while giving her dog a driving lesson, the official Xinhua News Agency said Monday. No injuries were reported although both vehicles were slightly damaged. The woman, identified only by her surname, Li, said her dog "was fond of crouching on the steering wheel and often watched her drive." "She thought she would let the dog 'have a try' while she operated the accelerator and brake," the report said. "They did not make it far before crashing into an oncoming car." http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/B/BAD_DOG_DRIVER?SITE=NWCN&TEMPLATE=STRANGEHEADS.html&SECTION=HOME

Crouching Doggie, Crazy Lady.

-- Carey Fox

Countdown Home: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/

Other News:

Iran’s call for a presidential debate with the United States on global concerns is a "diversion" from international concerns over its nuclear program, the White House said Tuesday. As Iran faces an Aug. 31 U.N. deadline to suspend uranium enrichment, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad challenged U.S. President Bush to a televised debate. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14568773/

Calm returned to the southern city of Diwaniyah on Tuesday after a deal between Shiite militiamen loyal to a powerful cleric and Iraqi government forces ended a fierce 12-hour street battle that killed 40 people. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14564865/

The fugitive leader of a polygamist Mormon sect has been arrested in southern Nevada, the FBI said Tuesday. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14569632/

Hot and dry weather preceding a cold front advancing across the West has wildland fire managers bracing for dozens of the largest wildfires to be on the move early this week. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14570913/from/RS.1/

The military evacuated 200 people from Wake Island on Monday before the arrival of Typhoon Ioke, the strongest Central Pacific hurricane in more than decade. Classified as a Category 5 "super typhoon," Ioke is expected to extensively damage the U.S. territory when it hits Wednesday with 155-mph winds. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14569321/from/RS.5/

The high school class of 2006 recorded the sharpest drop in SAT scores in 31 years, a decline that the exam’s owner, the College Board, said was partly due to some students taking the newly lengthened test only once instead of twice. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14569572/

The nation’s poverty rate was essentially unchanged last year, the first year it hasn’t increased since before President Bush took office. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14570125/

Worries about the job market caused consumers’ confidence in the U.S. economy to tumble more than expected in August to its lowest level in nine months. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14569797/

Aug. 28, 2006 | 7:49 p.m. ET

Keeping Tabs: Kevin Federline--MASTER THESPIAN!

The Hip Hop wannabe hasn't even released his debut album yet, but he's already spreading his "talents" to acting.

K-Fed has reportedly been cast in an episode of "C-S-I: Crime Scene Investigation".

It will be the acting debut for the 28-year old hubby of Britney Spears.

Federline told People Magazine: "It's the first time I've actually had a speaking role."

I JUST WONDER MAYBE THERE'S A REASON FOR THAT

ANYHOW, Federline will play a menacing teenager who harasses the CSI investigators.

Yeah, sure, listening to K-Fed sing can feel like harassment.

Video: K-Fed CSI

Aug. 28, 2006 | 8:27 p.m.  ET

Let's play Oddball!

And we begin in London, where there is nothing sexier than a beautiful British Model locked in a glass case with a pile of garbage and a bunch of sewer rats.

The BRITS say they're Super-Rats, a new breed of London vermin growing at an alarming rate.

Created - indirectly, by the terrorists. No, not little rodent training camps in the mountains of Afghanistan - home-grown super rats.

The city has removed most of the garbage cans from city streets for security reasons, and as a result, littering is way up, which has led to more and bigger rats.

Environmental officials thought long and hard about how to solve this complex problem...

They came up with... "Hot Blonde in a Box of Rats".

Video: Super-rats terrorize London

Aug. 28, 2006| 1:31 p.m. ET

Tonight on "Countdown"

On the eve of Hurricane Katrina’s first anniversary Tuesday, this city has become a giant political talking point. Finger-wagging Democratic congressmen are pouring down here, hoping to score points a year into the stuttering recovery, and President Bush’s cabinet secretaries have been staking out hopeful counter positions among the ruins. The president himself will spend two days in the region this week. Weary citizens, meanwhile, await with apprehension the day and its revival of painful memories. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/28/us/nationalspecial/28anniversary.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Newsweek Poll: Bush's job performance: now 36 percent approve and 56 percent disapprove. That approval figure nearly matches the president’s all-time low of 35 percent in May. http://msnbc.msn.com/id/14527419/site/newsweek/page/3/

Democratic insiders, who months ago thought their chances of winning a majority in the House were no better than even, and that the Senate was a lost cause, have become far more optimistic. Now, they say, winning the House is a lock, and the Senate is within reach. ``We have to go back to 1974 (during Watergate) to find such a favorable environment,'' says James Carville, who ran Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. ``If we can't win in this environment, we have to question the whole premise of the party.'' http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aHczjrHrbtxo&refer=us

Countdown w/ Keith Olbermann broadcasts LIVE at 8 pm et, and the count is never complete without you. Join us.

Alison Stewart in for Keith (who returns Tuesday for the rest of the week).

On "Meet The Press"... Bob Novak says his source on the Plame leak should come forward.

Senator Charles Schumer released the following statement: "For once, I agree with Robert Novak; whoever did this should come forward. If it is Richard Armitage, he should come clean, and give of us all of the background, including who asked him to do it, and whether it was part of a directive from the highest levels of the Administration."

The taxi route for commercial jets using Blue Grass Airport’s main runway was altered a week before Comair Flight 5191 took the wrong runway and crashed, killing all but one of the 50 people aboard, the airport’s director said Monday. Both the old and new taxiways cross over the shorter general aviation runway where the commuter jet tried to take off early Sunday, Blue Grass Airport Executive Director Michael Gobb told The Associated Press. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14552288/

A hurricane watch extended to most of Florida’s densely populated Atlantic coast on Monday as Tropical Storm Ernesto, already blamed for one death, plowed across Cuba and threatened to strengthen. A state of emergency was in effect for the entire state as residents stocked up on fuel, water and other storm supplies. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14543124/from/RS.1/

Herrin twins may leave ICU Monday. The formerly conjoined girls continue to rest from surgery; Maliyah responds to her family. Four-year-old North Salt Lake twins Maliyah and Kendra Herrin continue to improve daily since the 26-hour surgery to separate them. http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_4242219

The groundbreaking action series "24," which turns one dangerous day into a season, ended Sunday with a bang as it won Emmys for best drama series and best actor for Kiefer Sutherland. "The Office" was honored as best comedy although its star, Steve Carell, lost the award for best actor in a comedy series to Tony Shalhoub of "Monk." One Emmy front-runner, sexy medical drama "Grey’s Anatomy," was shut out in the awards. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14543074/

That's some of what we're planning for tonight's show.

Finally,

HAMMOND, Ind. -- Classrooms were a little less crowded at Morton High School on the first day of classes: 128 students were sent home for wearing the wrong clothes. Fed up with inappropriate outfits, the principal suspended the students for one day Wednesday, minutes after doors opened at the school. Those suspended represent more than 10 percent of the 1,200 total students. The offending attire - including baggy pants, low-cut shirts, tank tops and graphic T-shirts - are banned from classrooms. Students were also cited for cell phone use. "This was the worst year I've seen in a long time," said Principal Theresa Mayerik. "It's gotten out of control, and we needed to send a message that we're not messing around." http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/D/DRESS_CODE?SITE=NWCN&TEMPLATE=STRANGEHEADS.html&SECTION=HOME

Don't mess with Principal Mayerik.

-- Carey Fox

Countdown Home: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/

Other News:

Three people died and dozens more were injured in a blast in Turkey’s Mediterranean city Antalya on Monday, the fifth bomb to hit the country in less than 24 hours. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14546503/

John Mark Karr, the schoolteacher suspected in the 1996 slaying of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, met with two attorneys ahead of his first appearance in a Boulder courtroom. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14553130/

Fifty gunmen and 20 Iraqi soldiers have been killed in clashes in the town of Diwaniyah south of Baghdad, the Ministry of Defense spokesman said on Monday. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14537878/

U.S. retail gasoline prices last week fell to their lowest level since early April, a survey said Sunday. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14545630/

An Austrian girl traumatized by an eight-year kidnap ordeal said in her first public statement on Monday that she had refused her captor’s demand to call him "master," yet mourned his suicide after her escape. "We were equally strong — he was not my master," she said in the statement read out by her psychiatrist Max Friedrich at a news conference in Vienna, describing the circumstances of a crime that has shocked Austrians. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14555654/

For three straight holes in a playoff, Tiger Woods could only stand to the side of the green and watch someone else control his fate Sunday at the Bridgestone Invitational. Given a chance to win, he wasn’t about to waste it. Woods hit an 8-iron through a driving rain into 8 feet on the fourth extra hole, then made the birdie putt to outlast Stewart Cink at Firestone South for his fourth consecutive victory. It came on the 10th anniversary of his turning pro, and it gave Woods his 52nd career victory to match Byron Nelson for fifth all time. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14543322/?from=ET

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