updated 10/18/2006 11:07:11 AM ET 2006-10-18T15:07:11

Guests: Michael Musto; Jonathan Turley; Howard Fineman

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

As John Adams had his Alien and Sedition Acts against newspapers critics, as Woodrow Wilson had his Espionage Act against hyphenated Americans, as Franklin Roosevelt had his Executive Order 9066 against Japanese-Americans, George W. Bush now has his Military Commissions Act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  These military commissions are lawful.  They are fair.  And they are necessary.

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OLBERMANN:  And they also permit the detention of any American in jail without trial if the president does not like him.

Jonathan Turley judges the constitutionality.  Howard Fineman judges the politics.  We‘ll let history judge if the president who will have to apologize to the country for this one has even been born yet.

The born-again and the born talkers.  The president takes 90 minutes‘ worth of your taxpayer dollars to entertain right-wing radio yakkers in the Oval Office and will set up a radio row for them on the White House grounds next week.

The Republican page sex scandal.  Is there a page two?  The only Democrat on the House page board says his group is investigating allegations of improper conduct towards teenage pages, and not by Mark Foley.

Where in the world is Wesley Snipes?  Indicted for tax fraud, $12 million in tax fraud.

Why you should never make a video resume.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Always push your limits.  Always push your comfort zone.

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OLBERMANN:  Ask Madonna, now forced to deny she bought a baby from the nation of Malawi, says the adoption process began months ago.

And adopt a Tiger fan?  The woman who has put herself up for bids on eBay, provided you will take her to a World Series game in Detroit.  “I‘m five-foot-four and a size 5,” she says.  “I look great in all kinds of Tiger apparel.”

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

Good evening.  This is Tuesday, October 17, 21 days until the 2006 midterm elections.

History does not play well at this White House.  Expressionless faces would probably greet references to how John Adams ended his political career by insisting he needed the Alien and Sedition Acts to silence his critics in the newspapers, or how Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s executive order to seize Japanese-Americans during World War II necessitated a formal presidential apology eight presidents later.

But even so, somebody probably should have told President Bush that today was the exact 135th anniversary, to the day, that President Grant suspend habeas corpus in much of South Carolina for the noble and urgent purpose of dispersing the Ku Klux Klan and making sure the freed slaves had all their voting rights, neither of which has yet truly occurred, your principal defense against imprisonment without charge and trial without defense thrown away for no good reason, then and now.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, President Bush, happy Habeas Corpus Day.  First thing this morning, the president signed into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which does away with habeas corpus, the right of suspected terrorists or anybody else to know why they have been imprisoned, provided the president does not think it should apply to you and declares you an enemy combatant.

Further, the bill allows the CIA to continue using interrogation techniques so long as they do not cause what is deemed, quote, “serious physical or mental pain.”  And it lets the president to ostensibly pick and choose which parts of the Geneva Convention to obey, though to hear him describe this, this repudiation of the freedoms for which all our soldiers have died is a good thing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  This bill spells out specific, recognizable offenses that would be considered crimes in the handling of detainees, so that our men and women who question captured terrorists can perform their duties to the fullest extent of the law.  And this bill complies with both the spirit and the letter of our international obligations.

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OLBERMANN:  Leading Democrats view it differently, Senator Ted Kennedy calling this “seriously flawed,”  Senator Patrick Leahey saying it‘s, quote, “a sad day when the rubber-stamp Congress undercuts our freedoms,” and Senator Russ Feingold adding that “We will look back on this day as a stain on our nation‘s history.”

Outside the White House, a handful of individuals protested the law by dressing up as Abu Ghraib abuse victims and terror detainees.  Several of them got themselves arrested, but they were apparently quickly released, despite being already dressed for Gitmo.

To assess what this law will truly mean for us all, I‘m joined by Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University.

As always, sir, great thanks for your time.

JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR:  Thanks, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  I want to start by asking you about a specific part of this act that lists one of the definitions of an unlawful enemy combatant as, quote, “a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a combatant status review tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the president or the secretary of defense.”

Does that not basically mean that if Mr. Bush or Mr. Rumsfeld say so, anybody in this country, citizen or not, innocent or not, can end up being an unlawful enemy combatant?

TURLEY:  It certainly does.  In fact, later on, it says that if you even give material support to an organization that the president deems connected to one of these groups, you too can be an enemy combatant.

And the fact that he appoints this tribunal is meaningless.  You know, standing behind him at the signing ceremony was his attorney general, who signed a memo that said that you could torture people, that you could do harm to them to the point of organ failure or death.

So if he appoints someone like that to be attorney general, you can imagine who he‘s going be putting on this board.

OLBERMANN:  Does this mean that under this law, ultimately the only thing keeping you, I, or the viewer out of Gitmo is the sanity and honesty of the president of the United States?

TURLEY:  It does.  And it‘s a huge sea change for our democracy.  The framers created a system where we did not have to rely on the good graces or good mood of the president.  In fact, Madison said that he created a system essentially to be run by devils, where they could not do harm, because we didn‘t rely on their good motivations.

Now we must.  And people have no idea how significant this is.  What, really, a time of shame this is for the American system.  What the Congress did and what the president signed today essentially revokes over 200 years of American principles and values.

It couldn‘t be more significant.  And the strange thing is, we‘ve become sort of constitutional couch potatoes.  I mean, the Congress just gave the president despotic powers, and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to, you know, “Dancing with the Stars.”  I mean, it‘s otherworldly.

OLBERMANN:  Is there one defense against this, the legal challenges against particularly the suspension or elimination of habeas corpus from the equation?  And where do they stand, and how likely are they to overturn this action today?

TURLEY:  Well, you know what?  I think people are fooling themselves if they believe that the courts will once again stop this president from taking over—taking almost absolute power.  It basically comes down to a single vote on the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy.  And he indicated that if Congress gave the president these types of powers, that he might go along.

And so we may have, in this country, some type of ueber-president, some absolute ruler, and it‘ll be up to him who gets put away as an enemy combatant, held without trial.

It‘s something that no one thought—certainly I didn‘t think—was possible in the United States.  And I am not too sure how we got to this point.  But people clearly don‘t realize what a fundamental change it is about who we are as a country.  What happened today changed us.  And I‘m not too sure we‘re going to change back anytime soon.

OLBERMANN:  And if Justice Kennedy tries to change us back, we can always call him an enemy combatant.

The president reiterated today the United States does not torture.  Does this law actually guarantee anything like that?

TURLEY:  That‘s actually when I turned off my TV set, because I couldn‘t believe it.  You know, the United States has engaged in torture.  And the whole world community has denounced the views of this administration, its early views that the president could order torture, could cause injury up to organ failure or death.

The administration has already established that it has engaged in things like waterboarding, which is not just torture.  We prosecuted people after World War II for waterboarding prisoners.  We treated it as a war crime.  And my God, what a change of fate, where we are now embracing the very thing that we once prosecuted people for.

Who are we now?  I know who we were then.  But when the president said that we don‘t torture, that was, frankly, when I had to turn off my TV set.

OLBERMANN:  That same individual fell back on the same argument that he‘d used about the war in Iraq to sanction this law.  Let me play what he said and then ask you a question about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Yet with the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few.  Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously?  And did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Does he understand the irony of those words when taken out of the context of this particular passage or of what he perceives as the war against terror, and that, in fact, the threat we may be facing is the threat of President George W. Bush?

TURLEY:  Well, this is going to go down in history as one of our greatest self-inflicted wounds.  And I think you can feel the judgment of history.  It won‘t be kind to President Bush.

But frankly, I don‘t think that it will be kind to the rest of us.  I think that history will ask, Where were you?  What did you do when this thing was signed into law?  There were people that protested the Japanese concentration camps, there were people that protested these other acts.  But we are strangely silent in this national yawn as our rights evaporate.

OLBERMANN:  Well, not to pat ourselves on the back too much, but I think we‘ve done a little bit of what we could have done, and...

TURLEY:  That‘s true.

OLBERMANN:  ... I‘ll see you at Gitmo.  Jonathan Turley, constitutional law professor at George Washington University.  As always, greatest thanks for your time, Jon.

TURLEY:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Back when the president was actually trying to sell that bill to the American people, he publicly answered questions for an hour on the morning of September 15 in the Rose Garden.  It‘s what he did that afternoon for an hour and a half that perhaps speaks volumes about this administration‘s priorities.

He met, off the record and in the Oval Office, with only five people, conservative talk show radio hosts, Mike Gallagher, Neal Boortz, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Michael Medved, who, according to “The New York Times” summary, reached mainly Republican audiences of 30 million people per week.

Joining me now, “Newsweek” magazine political columnist, MSNBC analyst Howard Fineman.

Howard, good evening.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC ANALYST:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  I‘ve got a question for you about the Military Commissions Act too, but let‘s finish this off this episode first.

In January, the president consulted with 13 former secretaries of state and defense about Iraq, spoke for 40 minutes, allowed discussion for five to 10 minutes.  The figures for the five conservative radio show people is double that.  Is there an explanation of that that does not include the president using the Oval Office for purely political purposes and even indirectly for political fundraising?

FINEMAN:  No.  I think the president was being all too symbolically plain there in apportioning his time.  A few minutes for the secretaries of state and defense.  He really didn‘t need to give them any time, because it was primarily a photo-op, and he‘d already decided what the policy was.  It was an unnecessary meeting.  If they agreed with him, well, fine, he‘d already set the policy.  If they disagreed with him, he wasn‘t going to listen.

This was the policy arc that he‘s been on since 9/11 happened, as has been described now in many books having to do with the war in Iraq and so forth.  And why—the reason he was meeting with the talk show hosts is that it‘s all too symbolic of where the party is right now, where he is politically.

He‘s literally speaking to the choir there, Keith.  These are the people who are singing his tune on the radio every day.  And he needs them, because he needs their listeners if they‘re—if the Republican Party‘s going to avoid a debacle next month in the elections.

OLBERMANN:  So a week from now they‘re going to set up booths on the White House grounds so they can interview top cabinet officials.  It‘s going to look like either the NBC press tour or the thing that they set up in front of the Super Bowl, only it‘s with their own side.

But to put this in context, I‘m of the understanding you just spoke to Ken Mehlman, who‘s the chairman of the RNC.  And he has been a one-man interview segment, 20 of them in three days last week.  And what‘s the current spin coming from Mr. Mehlman?

FINEMAN:  Well, the current spin that relates to the first story that you did tonight, Keith, is that Ken Mehlman is pleased as punch and thinks that there‘s great political profit in the signing ceremony this morning and in the statute that the president just signed.  The one that Jonathan Turley described in such bleak terms, Ken Mehlman views as a plus, because he thinks it shows to the Republican base and to anybody else who‘s listening that this president is, quote, “tough on,” quote, on the war on terror.

And if you look at the votes on the Hill, yes, there were some Democrats who voted against this, quite a number, in some cases.  But I think the silence of the Democratic Party generally is stunning and speaks volumes about that party.  You heard from Ted Kennedy, you heard from Russ Feingold, you heard a smattering of voices elsewhere.

But Ken Mehlman, I thought last night when I had dinner with him, was fairly secure in the knowledge that this was one that was a winner for the Republican Party in the midterm elections, because it‘ll excite or at least confirm his base to his voters.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, John Adams‘ Ken Mehlman told him that too, and that didn‘t work out necessarily in the long term for President Adams.

But last question on this.  Is there a chance that we often see this in every aspect of life?  You know, you don‘t really realize that your car is in trouble until it breaks down on the freeway and you have to walk 26 miles.  Is there a chance that this would energize this actual signing of the law and the implications that Jon Turley just went through would energize the Democrats or other critics of the president and this particular commissions act?

FINEMAN:  I think it may.  When they realize that it applies to American citizens also, Keith, that‘s the key to it, the notion that the president or some group that he sets up can declare any American citizen to be a, quote, “unlawful enemy combatant,” that‘s outside the bounds of American history, and I think it will eventually be very controversial.

OLBERMANN:  MSNBC‘s Howard Fineman, also of “Newsweek” magazine, of course.  Many thanks for your time tonight.  And if I get declared one, it‘s been nice talking to you.

FINEMAN:  I‘ll visit you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Thank you.

Other problems for the Republican Christian base tonight, the Foley page sex scandal, with an unexpected revelation today.  The ex-congressman puts his own story back in the headlines.  And then there are hints there may be a second figure in the scandal.

And David Kuo‘s “Tempting Faith” begins to reverberate, the far right far from taken with the White House choice for global AIDS coordinator because he‘s gay and because of what Secretary of State Rice called his partner‘s mother.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The theory goes that just one day can be an eternity in Washington, and the whole Foley page Republican sex scandal thing could be something other than topic number one by the time the midterm elections roll around.

Or, in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, it could get worse in the interim.  The sole Democrat on the House page board, Congressman Dale Kildee (ph) of Michigan, now says his group recently discussed different allegations of improper conduct involving pages, but not involving Mark Foley.

Congressman Kildee would not say who or which party.  However, federal prosecutors in Arizona have opened a preliminary investigation there involving Congressman Jim Kolbe of that state.  The unspecified allegation relates to a camping trip that the lawmaker took with two former pages as well as staff members and his own sister 10 years ago.

Joining me now, the national political reporter of “The Washington Post,” MSNBC analyst Dana Milbank.

Good evening, Dana.

DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  We know very little about these allegations, at least from Congressman Kildee‘s remarks, and if it is Congressman Kolbe of Arizona, it‘s important to stress we know nothing about the actual allegation yet, nor the investigation.  But did the scandal, by dint of this one mention from Mr. Kildee, just get another set of legs?

MILBANK:  Legs would be the least offensive body part.  But, yes, we—Jim Kolbe is retiring, so it‘s not necessarily a big deal about him.  Already, there are rumors now about a third, this one involving a 16-year-old girl.  That‘s been swirling around Washington today.

The real effect here is not necessarily with Kolbe, but that it just compounds that we have another one.  And political news is starting to sound more and more like you‘re reading the police blotter, with Ney last week, the eighth guilty plea or conviction in the Abramoff case, piled on top of Scooter Libby and Tom DeLay and Curt Weldon.  It goes on and on.

And, of course, the punchline is that President Bush has declared this to be National Character Counts Week.

OLBERMANN:  Well, we‘re going to count the number of people who have character.

Congressman Kildee had complained that he had been shut out by the Republican chairman of the page board when he had learned about Mark Foley‘s conduct in the fall of 2005.  Presumably, he testified to that before the House Ethics Committee.  We—do we know more than the presumption?  And do we know if they‘re taking it as evidence of a coverup, or how they‘re treating that testimony?

MILBANK:  Well, it‘s hard to know exactly what the Ethics Committee is doing.  But clearly, the public has made its decision.  There‘s a poll out today saying 57 percent of the people believe that there was, in fact, a coverup, 77 percent saying it was handled badly.

Now, clearly, there was a coverup at some level, by definition, because it—people knew about this, certainly Shimkus and the page board knew about it, and it didn‘t get out.  The question really is, how far up it goes, and does it—how far into Denny Hastert‘s office?

OLBERMANN:  And one of Mr. Foley‘s lawyers had a news conference in the afternoon to announce that Foley had revealed the identity of the clergyman that he says abused him when he was a teenager, informing the archdiocese of Miami.  The lawyer said that‘s part of the healing process for the former congressman.  And with all due respect to Mr. Foley‘s wounds and the wounds of his victims, don‘t the Republicans wish that Mr. Foley and his surrogates would say quiet for three weeks and a couple of hours?

MILBANK:  I suppose this is the one point when they‘re all wishing he would limit himself to instant messages.

But look, there‘s really no way out of this save for yet another October surprise, because this Ethics Committee investigation is going to take us through the election.  We won‘t get the report, there will be this drip-drip of news.

OLBERMANN:  And the majority leader, John Boehner, is going to testify to the—do we know that he‘s certainly going to testify to the Ethics Committee?  And if so, when?

MILBANK:  That‘s the plan coming up shortly.  And his chief of staff has, I believe, been before them already.  A lot of people are believing that he is being made out to be the fall guy here.  He‘s made clear that he‘s going to accept that either.  So you can expect a lot more finger pointing back and forth.

OLBERMANN:  Dana Milbank of “The Washington Post” and, of course, of MSNBC.  As always, sir, great thanks for your time.

MILBANK:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  From Congress to catapults.  Surely that‘s the habeas corpus right going off in the distance.  Time of the year to invoke Billy Corrigan (ph) and the old band Smashing Pumpkins.

Talk about getting people to see your resume.  This was supposed to be a video that would impress Wall Street.  Instead, it is impressing people who go to YouTube.

Details ahead, here on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN:  On this date in 1848, William Candy (ph) Cummings was born.  He was the inventor of the curve ball, unless he wasn‘t, and it was actually another pitcher named Fred Goldsmith.  Anyway, Cummings is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Goldsmith is not, largely because Cummings had this great story of how he was walking along the beach throwing clamshells when he noticed that they moved oddly to the side, leading to the idea that ordinary objects flying through the air might get you into Baseball‘s Hall of Fame.

Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin in Fort Collins, Colorado, where farmer John Dorry (ph) might be the next to be immortalized in Cooperstown.  Time for his annual busting out of the 20-foot-tall medieval pumpkin catapult and resultant gourd hurling.  Smashy-smashy.  He‘s a Harvard mechanical engineer who was living his lifelong dream of using math equations and ancient siege weapons to smash stuff and waste food.

Someday he hopes to build a trebuchet small enough for every teenager in America to have one to launch pumpkins directly from their neighbors‘ porches onto the nearest interstate.

Also in Oddball sports tonight, a quick recap of last night‘s Monday night football game.  The game was unimportant, the Arizona Cardinals lost, actually, it might have been even described by the word, “Guh (ph),” to the much better Chicago Bears.

But after the game, a reporter asked Cards coach Denny Green basically if he knew that the undefeated Bears were any good.  And the key part, as my radio colleague Dan Patrick pointed out today, is, after the coach is finished detonating, listen carefully for how the Cardinals‘ public relations guy follows all this up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Would you see about the Bears would shut them down that way?

DENNY GREEN, CARDINALS COACH:  Yes, we, you know, I mean, we just, we, the Bears are what we thought they were, what we thought they were.  We played them in preseason.  Who the hell takes a third game in a preseason like a (expletive deleted)?  We played them the third game.  Everybody played three quarters.  The Bears are who we thought they were.  That‘s why we took the damn field.

Now, if you want to crown them, then crown their ass.  But they are who we thought they were, and we let them off the hook.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Just another day at the office for Arizona Cardinals public relations.  Thanks, coach.

And just another day of controversy for the Christian right.  Not only is the new global AIDS coordinator gay, but Condoleezza Rice referred to his partner‘s mom as a mother-in-law.  And here comes the Rapture.

And Madonna‘s African adoption, she claims she did not get any special treatment nor break any laws.  Analysis ahead from Michael Musto.

But first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, whoever it was who assaulted Brian O‘Steen (ph) of Mims (ph), Florida, Mr. O‘Steen says he‘s a very heavy sleeper, and while he was out, somebody came into his house and stole the gold out of his teeth.

Number two, Jamie Hanson of (INAUDIBLE), Wisconsin. She‘s OK, third-degree burns on her arm.  She has only one leg, and can‘t get around easily.  Sunday, her cat knocked a lit candle onto a chair, engulfing the house in flames.  Fortunately, she was able to call 911 because she was brought the phone by her dog. 

And number one, Christina of Trenton, Michigan, whose unique auction item appeared on and then disappeared from eBay.  The heading:  “Detroit Tigers World Series Game Ticket Companion Date.  Got a ticket, need a buddy, I want to go.”

She was taking bids on who would get to take her to a World Series game in Detroit.  Her item description, though, kind of wandered into new found territory.  “I hope to find someone or a group to go with anyone with tickets that would like me as a companion please write me now.  I am pretty funny and can keep up with the crowd.  Let‘s to Tigers! I‘m available as a designated driver under the proper circumstance as well.  If you want a lady on your arm who will appreciate your generosity, I‘m your girl.  I am a single who is self-employed and highly respectable, but no way uptight. 

This is not an add for anything other than companionship.  I want to party at the best event in my town and I want in the game, so I‘m up for bid.  I am 5 foot 4 and a size five; I look great in all kinds of tiger apparel.  I smile a lot and I‘m very friendly.”  When bidding was stopped, it was apparently up to $10.50.  Punch line, Christina planned to charge 99 cents extra for shipping and handling. 

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OLBERMANN:  “Tempting Fate” is tempting Evangelicals to stay home.  Our third story in the COUNTDOWN tonight, David Kuo‘s portrait of a White House using Evangelical Christians for political gain has summoned the GOP, increasingly worried about election day.

In a series of interviews, most recently on MSNBC‘s HARDBALL this afternoon, Mr. Kuo has repeated the claims we first reported on COUNTDOWN last week, nevertheless he told “Newsweek‘s” Richard Wolf, “I don‘t think the book has been well captured by Mr. Olbermann and all the subsequent media...It‘s not a scathing critique by a disgruntled former federal employee.” 

Grateful as we might be for Mr. Kuo‘s candor, we should point out that we did report Mr. Kuo‘s continuing goodwill, personally, toward Mr. Bush, at worst we portrayed Mr. Kuo as merely semigruntled.  As to capturing the book, this is a newscast and not “Reader‘s Digest.”

Subsequent events seem to bare out the assessment that Kuo‘s revelations are part of a growing schism between the GOP and its Evangelical so-called “base.”  This time it‘s the Christian right itself pointing out what it believes are unacceptable words and behavior on the part of the administration. 

The controversy?  Last week ambassador Mike Dybul was sworn as n as the new global aids.  Conservative Evangelicals problem with him?  He is gay.  His partner attended the ceremony, referred to as family, and his mother as Dybul‘s mother-in-law by both the State department deputy chief of protocol and the secretary, herself. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE:  I‘m pleased to do that in the presence of Mark‘s parents Claire and Richard, his partner, Jason, and his mother-in-law Marilyn.  You have wonderful family to support you, Mark. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And here comes the storm from the Family Research Council, “...the deferential treatment that was given not only to him, but his partner and his partner‘s family by the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, is very distressing.”

Southern Baptist Convention Vice President Wiley Drake, “I...believe most Baptists would be like me; they would be appalled at what Condoleezza Rice has done, and in general what the Republican Party is doing with things like Log Cabin Republicans and other sodomites...”

MSNBC analyst Richard Wolffe has been tracking the political rift in his role as “Newsweek‘s” senior White House correspondent.  In fact he was the one who conducted the interview in which Mr. Kuo gave us poor reviews on the book report we did not intend to make. 

Richard, thanks as always for your time tonight. 

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC ANALYST:  My pleasure, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Conservative Christian‘s suspicion of national Republicans can be traced back at least to the nomination of Harriet Miers and even the so-called “Schiavo Memo” referring to Terri Schiavo‘s plight as a great political issue for the Republicans.  But it seems to have reached critical mass recently, and do we know in why that is? 

WOLFFE:  Well, partly it‘s the different between politics and policy, between campaigning and governing.  You can talk to the Christian movement, as President Bush has done since ‘99 and 2000 and suggest things, but eventually there comes a point where they have a record to contrast the promises.  And their—the sense of disillusion, which is pretty extreme among the—many of the Christian leaders, it comes from the sense of not having promises delivered on.

Harriet Miers as you say, was important.  HIV/AIDS is another where the people who drew up that international HIV/AIDS policy, people like Josh Bolton, the chief of staff in the White House now, are not from the movement and their policy reflected a much more mainstream approach.  However, domestically, HIV/AIDS follows classic social conservative principals and focuses on things like abstinence.  So, there is this realization, I think at this point, of the cycle, but they‘re not getting all they were promised, because, frankly, they weren‘t really promised it in the first place.  It was a suggestion more than a promise. 

OLBERMANN:  Is the problem here, for the Republicans not to go too far into the Bible for this, but the party get so large and needs to have so many different bases, it can no longer serve the proverbial two masters, those who worship god and those who worship man and/or politics? 

WOLFFE:  Partly that‘s the case, that‘s true.  But remember that on the fiscal conservative side, there‘s deep disillusion as well, people are unhappy with government growing in size with deficit spending and of course both wings of the party especially—have a problem with Iraq.  You‘re seeing numbers—approval numbers for President Bush, especially on Iraq, decline on both sides.  And there has been a precipitous decline among Evangelicals supported in how they view Bush since the 2004 election.  Yes, it‘s a problem keeping the big tent all together, but you know, there are also distinct problems with both sides being disappointed with the performance of the administration. 

OLBERMANN:  We think we can understand how the conservative Christians might react and be concerned and might stay home, but is there worry that the socially moderate, fiscally conservative Republicans you mentioned who are embarrassed, perhaps, by the association with fringe social issues, might sit this one out to any great degree as well? 

WOLFFE:  Not because of the relationship with social conservatives.  I mean, generally the kinds of comments that Kuo mentioned, the sort of disparaging things, you hear very frequently from the fiscal conservative side of the party.  That‘s not to say they don‘t like the Evangelicals turning out to vote, they‘re very happy when they do that.  But they are very disparaging, they think they‘re unrealistic and unreasonable and they do think a lot of them are kind of nutty.  And that‘s their comments, so it‘s their language.  So, you know, there is this desperate relationship with—inside the party, but I don‘t think they‘ll stay at home because of that.  If those fiscal conservatives stay at home it‘s because they‘re disillusioned with things like the Medicare Prescription Drug Program. 

OLBERMANN:  To that point of terminology, in the Jim Moore/Wayne Slater book, “The Architect,” then candidate Bush is quoted as referring to conservative Christians who live north of Austin as “all those wackos.”  If he doesn‘t really embrace that agenda, do we know what—what does his embrace of Jesus actually mean, at least politically?

WOLFFE:  You know, I asked Kuo that question and he basically said that President Bush had a split personality.  That on a personal level, yes he was a Born Again Christian, believed in salvation for everybody, but first and foremost he was a politician and as a politician he viewed these Evangelical voters in pragmatic terms, which is—excuse me—how many votes they could deliver.  So, you know, that‘s the inner conflict, if you like, in President Bush, and politics, according to Kuo, wins. 

Richard Wolffe, of MSNBC and “Newsweek,” many thanks for your time and for your interview with Mr. Kuo. 

WOLFFE:  Any time. 

OLBERMANN:  Also tonight one college senior‘s dream to make it big on Wall Street is instead putting him on a wall of shame.  The one known to all of us as Youtube, the story of the video resume:  Why you should never make one. 

And actor Wesley Snipes is being chased tonight, not by Deacon Frost, by the Internal Revenue Service.  That and more ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  A college student hoping to get hired on Wall Street instead gets satired all over the web. 

And another edition of “L.A.  Law,” Wesley Snipes wanted to tax evasion.  Madonna denying she went to Africa to buy a baby.  That‘s next, this is COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Maybe once in a century, humanity is blessed with the emergence of a singular man, a Thomas Jefferson, a Leonardo Di Vinci.  Our second story in the COUNTDOWN tonight, the 21st Century has found such a man.  His name, as if a mere name could convey his full transcendence—is Aleksey Vayner, still in college, he had revealed his true nature in a short but powerful film sent to some of America‘s most powerful financial institutions and, evidentially to his surprise, shared by them with us mere mortals courtesy of YouTube. 

They quickly recognized Mr. Vayner for what he is:  Author, athlete, investment genius, philanthropist, international spy, martial artists, master of fate.  And thanks to correspondent Carl Quintanilla, we are proud to say:  Behold the superman!

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It‘s not your average job application, but Aleksey Vayner isn‘t average, at lease he doesn‘t think so. 

ALEKSEY VAYNER, WALL STREET HOPEFUL:  To be successful, you must first know exactly what you want to achieve. 

QUINTANILLA:  This is a mini-documentary the Yale senior recently made about himself and then sent to Wall Street banks along with a resume.  In it he brags about his workout regimen...

VAYNER:  Always push your limits.  Always push your comfort zone.

QUINTANILLA:  His tennis game.  He claims to be a martial arts master, even once protecting the Dalai Lama.  And while showing off his questionable dancing skills, he also preaches about the nature of success. 

VAYNER:  If you‘re going to work, work.  If you‘re going to train, train.  If you‘re going to dance the dance then do it with passion.

QUINTANILLA:  He made an impression all right, someone at one of the Wall Street firms is believed to have send the video toe YouTube where it‘s become a cult classic.

The “New York Post” has mockingly called it an “EGO-mercial” and at Yale, they don‘t know quite what to think.

ALEX CADICAMO, YALE UNIVERSITY STUDENT:  It was, um, interesting.  I don‘t really—I was kind of surprised.

VINCE GRANATA, YALE UNIVERSITY STUDENT:  He‘s a pretty impressive guy, but I just don‘t know what‘s true and what‘s not.

QUINTANILLA (on camera):  Vayner has reportedly threatened to sue YouTube.  The video was taken down from the website then put back up.  But why would anyone think doing something like this would help you get a job on Wall Street?

CHARLES GASPARINO, CNBC:  To become an investment banker and make a lot of money, the competition is fierce, so any way you can get to the top of the list, these guys try to do it.

QUINTANILLA:  Even if it involves chopping a stack of bricks in half.

VAYER:  Remember, impossible is nothing.

QUINTANILLA:  So, is finding a job when employers can‘t read or watch your resume with a straight face.

Carl Quintanilla, NBC NEWS, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Resume rule:  One page, no video.

Usually the name of our nightly celebrity news roundup refers to the tabloids, but tonight Wesley Snipes gives back the old meaning to the phrase “keeping tabs.”  Whoever is keeping tabs in Mr. Snipes today, the law would like you to know there‘s a warrant out for his arrest. 

That‘s right, the man who fled from Tommy Lee Jones in “U.S. Marshals” is kind of technically on the run.  The 44-year-old star of the “Blade” trilogy, indicted today on eight counts of tax fraud.  He allegedly tried to get out of nearly $12 million in taxes.  Apparently failed to file any returns at all for six years. 

Officials said Snipes has not been arrested yet because they don‘t know where he is.  They called his lawyers only to be advised by them that, no, they were now his ex-lawyers.  No surprise, Mr. Snipes was unavailable for comment. 

The daughter of the late Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, is getting into the family business, because, you know, how could that be a bad idea?

Bindi Irwin‘s new show, “Bindi the Jungle Girl” will launch on the Discovery Kids Network in 2006.  In an interview, Bindi said she‘s never afraid of animals, explaining, “ I just get excited (INAUDIBLE) are dangerous I just think ‘ooh, what‘s going to happen?‘”

What happened in the case of her dad last month, was that a string ray jabbed its poisonous barb into his heart.  Child endangerment laws.  Anybody?  Anybody?  Bueller?  Bueller? 

Speaking of kids in the white-hot glair of celebrity spotlight, Madonna‘s Malawi addition to the family, Little David, arrives in London with paparazzi in tow.  Now comes a flood of questions about special treatment.  That‘s ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for the “Worst Person in the World.” 

The Bronze to Michael Weiner-Savage explaing to his audience that if the Democrats win the mid-terms, “It could lead to the breakup of the United States of America the way the Soviet Union broke up.”  And that California is already “In the hands of the far left homosexual mafia.”

Mike, we‘ll let Governor Schwarzenegger in on that last part.  By the way, are these drug flashback or schizophrenia or are you just a moron? 

Our runner up the DeKalb County police officer who ticked driver Denise Greer of Athens, Georgia because of a bumper sticker on her car, it read, “I‘m tired of the Bush-i-t-t.”  He gave her a $100 ticket on the contention that it violated a state law prohibiting lewd or profane stickers or decals on a vehicle.  But even that law had been ruled unconstitutional 16 years ago, so the ticked was thrown out.  Now Ms. Greer is suing the country, it‘s officials, and now the ticketing officer. 

But the winner, Steve Wynn.  On Sunday, the gambling magnate completed a deal to sell the Picasso masterpiece he owns, “Le Reve,” a 1932 painting depicting Picasso‘s mistress.  Wynn was selling it for a record price of  $139 million dollars, emphasis on the word “was.” 

Yesterday Mr. Wynn was showing it off one last time to Barbara Walters and Nora Ephron and others.  Mr. Wynn has an eye disease that affects his peripheral vision, so when he made a sweeping gesture toward the painting, he put a hole in it with his right elbow. 

Um perhaps you‘d be interested in buying my Rembrandt? 

Steve Wynn today‘s “Worst Person in the World.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  At the risk of looking like a humanitarian, Madonna has pledged $3 million for a new orphanage in the African nation of Malawi.  At the risk of looking like human being, she is adopting on of Malawi‘s estimated million orphans.  And in our No. 1 story, at the risk of looking like a diva, she reportedly got special treatment from a Malawi court so that the 13-month-old boy could be taken out of his home county and sent to London, England.

The boy, David Banda, arrived at London‘s Heathrow Airport at dawn today, with Madonna‘s entourage.  And as you see there, undercover of a grey hoody, about 10 sizes too big.  The size of the security detail was exceeded only by the size of the press gaggle.  They boy‘s father, now reportedly saying he has changed his mind and wants his son back, though he has made other recent comments in support of the permanent adoption, child advocacy groups say that Malawi‘s high court made exceptions for Madonna giving her permission to adopt even though she has never lived in Malawi, which the law there required. 

Meanwhile little David Banda has been taken to the London townhouse of Madonna and husband Guy Ritchie.

Joining me now, the expert on all celebrity excess, “Village Voice” columnist Michael Musto.

Michael good evening.

MICHAEL MUSTO, “VILLAGE VOICE”:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  That report claims that the child‘s father might have changed his mind.  He did find out, apparently after the fact, that Madonna was apparently a big celebrity as some point, but I‘m straining to think, what would have given him pause about this.

MUSTO:  Well, maybe he thought the kid should stay in the village where he‘s comfortable, but then he found out this kid is going to be living—leading a life of luxury and red ribbons and he relented and then he realized even more excitingly, this kid‘s going to be the first black Jews since Sammy Davis, Jr. 

OLBERMANN:  In the statement that they have now issued, Madonna says she and her husband started the adoption process months before they made their trip to Malawi and that “We have gone about the adoption procedure according to law like anyone else who adopts a child.”

Then what is the fuss about?  Do you know?

MUSTO:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know why people won‘t accept Madonna as the new Mother Theresa.  I mean, she went through all the procedures that any multi-billion dollar superstar with a staff of 500 would go though.  She‘s real people.  David‘s going to learn humility from her, not to mention “voguing.” 

OLBERMANN:  The court in Malawi has evidently waved the law that requires parents—new parents, to live in the country, but he spokeswoman for Madonna has said, “This is an interim adoption, it‘s an interim that grant‘s David‘s new parent‘s temporary custody for 18 months, during which time they will be evaluated by the courts of Malawi per the tribal customs of the country.”

Do we have any idea how those tribal customs will be adopted and employed in Madonna‘s house in London?

MUSTO:  Oh, there will be tribal customs.  Madonna‘s a cultural sponge.  I hear already she‘s running around in a vashiki (ph) with a bone through her nose and doing that clicking talk, like a virgin and David is running around dancing the horra (ph) and eating the (INAUDIBLE).  Mel Gibson‘s going come over for all kinds of sensitivity training.

OLBERMANN:  I heard that version of “Live a Virgin” on the radio today I thought it was just bad reception in my house.

MUSTO:  No, it‘s the clicking remix.

OLBERMANN:  If the representatives of Malawi asked to see Madonna‘s body of work as part of the evaluation, what‘s the first thing she has to hide in a closet or under a floorboard somewhere?

MUSTO:  Obviously the entire box set of all of her movies including “Body of Evidence,” all the dirty videos.  In fact the only works of hers, as it were, that whereat applicable are the children‘s books.  I mean, she could say, “I wrote the ‘English Roses‘ and ‘Mr. Peabody‘s Apples‘” and they‘ll be like, “yeah, yeah, yeah, but show us that sex book, bitch.”

OLBERMANN:  In convincing the court to give her the temporary custody in the first place, which do you think was her strongest argument:  A.  I‘m not Britney Spears or B.  I‘m not Tom Cruise?

MUSTO:  It think “I‘m not John Mark Karr or Mark Foley” that‘s what worked.  Or really, she should have said, “I‘m not really Madonna, I‘m not a soul sucking succubus, I only play her at night.  I‘m an impersonator.  I‘m full of love and life and I‘ll strap the kid in the right car seat.”

OLBERMANN:  Are we seeing here, with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who were in Namibia by having their baby there and two adopted children, one of whom was from Africa, another one from Cambodia—is there some sort of—is there some sort of wagering going on here?  Is it a race?  Is there a prize at the end of this for who adopts the most kids from Africa?

MUSTO:  It seems to be some kind of a competition.  Madonna wants everything Angelina‘s has, especially an Oscar and a husband that works and an affair with the brother.  Angelina‘s bother, not Madonna‘s.  It‘s almost like she‘s saying “I‘ll raise your Cambodia and Namibia with a Malawi and two Prada bags and a frapuccino.”  It‘s getting really dirty. 

OLBERMANN:  And yet the all-time record is still Mia Farrow with 10 adopted children from foreign countries? 

MUSTO:  Oh, she‘s Mama Mia.  I mean she sees something squirming in a plastic bag in a garbage pail, she‘s like, “Oh, I‘ll adopt that.”  I mean, 10, I wouldn‘t say though, because there‘s someone named Soon-Yi Previn that doesn‘t really count. 

OLBERMANN:  Nine. 

MUSTO:  You don‘t say that name anymore.  Nine.

OLBERMANN:  Nine.  OK, we‘ll just back that off to nine.  Woody‘s out with the family.  Lastly, have you—while you‘re going into the studio there in New York today, have you—did you see Wesley Snipes anywhere?  Or was he in the city today or...

MUSTO:  I did.  I did.  He was on the phone, trying to buy a Malawian child, but he didn‘t want to pay the taxes on it. 

OLBERMANN:  I think he‘s on the phone trying to become a Malawian child.  It may be a better...

MUSTO:  He should have been arrested for (INAUDIBLE).

OLBERMANN:  The one and only Michael Musto.

MUSTO:  Bye Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Great thanks for your time, Michael.

MUSTO:  Sure.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,263rd day since the declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. 

This content advisory about COUNTDOWN. Tomorrow night, we will bring you a special comment on the end of habeas corpus as we have known it 8:00 p.m. and Midnight Eastern, 5:00 and 9:00 p.m. Pacific on COUNTDOWN tomorrow night. 

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.

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