updated 11/9/2006 1:02:24 PM ET 2006-11-09T18:02:24

Guests: E.J. Dionne; Michael Musto

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

Secretary Rumsfeld, wheels of the bus.  Wheels of the bus, Secretary Rumsfeld.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  I have benefited greatly from criticism.  And at no time have I suffered a lack thereof.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Rumsfeld quotes Churchill, while Mr. Bush quotes Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE APPRENTICE”)

DONALD TRUMP:  You‘re fired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  You can‘t replace somebody until you know you got somebody to replace him with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The November surprise turns out to be at the secretary‘s expense.  The new questions politically, why didn‘t they do this last week?

And, will the Democrats throw their newfound weight around about his successor?

And how big are they?  Montana is finally decided.  Jim Webb claims Virginia.  Will there be a recount?  And what‘s the count and the amount in the House?

Ad what about Karl Rove‘s math?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  I obviously was working harder in the campaign than he was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And amid the rush on all sides to appear bipartisan, a little angry reality sneaks through.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  I read those same polls.  And I believe that I thought when it was all said and done, the American people would understand the importance of taxes and the importance of security.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Guess we‘re all still morally or intellectually confused.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  They think I‘m nuts?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  OK, that was kind of gratuitous on our part.

But if there‘s no snark about anybody divorced from reality, plenty about the while-you-were-out story of the week, divorced from Britney Spears.  That‘s right, K-Fed will become FedEx.

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

Good evening from New York.  This is Wednesday, November 8, one day after the 2006 midterm elections.

And today, the upsets and the realignments of election night were followed by the upset and the realignment at the Pentagon.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, Donald Rumsfeld steps down, right under the oncoming bus.

And the Democrats take over the House and almost certainly the Senate, the most tangible evidence of a resounding White House defeat revealing itself today not in any of the election returns, but in the actions of the man who‘s still there.  The president having twice before been offered the resignation of the defense secretary, Mr. Bush finally accepted it only this morning, only, he says, reluctantly, only after American voters made it impossible to ignore their anger about the war in Iraq.

The nominee to replace Rumsfeld, Robert Gates, who served as director of the CIA under the father of the current president, and only after the most bitter of confirmation battles, Mr. Rumsfeld making it clear this afternoon in the Oval Office that he does not believe his six years of service in the current administration were in any way lacking.  The only deficiency, he seems to feel, coming in the ability of the American people to recognize how exemplary the administration‘s handling of this war has been.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUMSFELD:  It‘s been quite a time.  It recalls to mind the statement by Winston Churchill, something to the effect that I have benefited greatly from criticism.  And at no time have I suffered a lack thereof.

The great respect that I have for your leadership, Mr. President, in this little-understood, unfamiliar war, the first war of the 21st century.  It is not well known.  It was not well understood.  It is complex for people to comprehend.  And I know with certainty that over time, the contributions you‘ve made will be recorded by history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The news of Mr. Rumsfeld‘s imminent departure breaking just minutes before a grim-faced commander in chief met with reporters in the White House East Room, facing up to what can only be called an overwhelming election night defeat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  This was a close election.  The—if you look at race by race, it was close.  The cumulative effect, however, was not too close.  It was a thumping.  But nevertheless, the people expect us to work together.  That‘s what they expect.

JIM RUTTENBERG, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”:  You just described the election results as a thumping, (INAUDIBLE)--

BUSH:  I said the cumulative--  Make sure.  Who do you write for?

RUTTENBERG:  “The New York Times”—

BUSH:  Ah, yes, that‘s right.

RUTTENBERG:  ... Mr. President.

BUSH:  (INAUDIBLE).  Let‘s make sure we get it—the facts.  I said that the elections were close, the cumulative effect.

RUTTENBERG:  Is a—yes, is a thumping.

BUSH:  Thumping.

RUTTENBERG:  But, but, the results (INAUDIBLE)...

BUSH:  It‘s a polite way of saying --  You know, anyway, go ahead.

RUTTENBERG:  But the results are being interpreted as a repudiation of your leadership style in some quarters.  I wonder what your reaction is to that.  And do you—should we expect a very different White House, should we expect a very different leadership style from you in these last two years?

BUSH:  In terms of the election, no question, Iraq had something to do with it.  And it‘s—you know, it‘s tough in a time of war when people see carnage on their (INAUDIBLE) television screens.  The amazing thing about this election, and what surprised me somewhat, which goes to show I should not try pundentry, in that this is economy‘s strong.  And a lot of times, off-years are decided by the economy.

And yet, you know, obviously, there was a different feel out there for the electorate.  The economy, the good news in the economy was overwhelmed by the toughness of this fight and toughness of the war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I wanted to ask you about the thumping you took at yesterday‘s rodeo.  You said you were disappointed, you were surprised...

BUSH:  See, there you go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You said you were...

BUSH:  (INAUDIBLE), you notice that, taking one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And that was thumpin‘, without a G, correct?  I just want to make sure we have it right in the transcript.

You said you were surprised.  You didn‘t see it coming.  You were disappointed in the outcome.  Does that indicate that after six years in the Oval Office, you‘re out of touch with America for something like this kind of wave to come, and you not expect it?

BUSH:  I‘m an optimistic person, is what I am.  And I knew we were going to lose seats.  I just didn‘t know how many.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How could you not know that, and not be out of touch?

BUSH:  You didn‘t know it either.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A lot of polls showed it.

BUSH:  Yes.  There was—I read those same polls.  And I believe that I thought, when it was all said and done, the American people would understand the importance of taxes and the importance of security.  But people have spoken.  And now it‘s time for us to move on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The size of the thumping still taking shape, as some votes remain to be counted and others likely to remain in dispute.  Here‘s what we know so far.

In the House, the Democrats picking up 32 seats, according to our NBC News projections, 17 more than the 15 they needed and hoped for.  The new breakdown in that chamber likely to be 234 Democrats, 20 -- or rather 201 Republicans, no independents.  The plus or minus is still four.

The balance of power in the Senate still to be decided officially, the Democrats picking up five seats so far, they need six, NBC News this afternoon reporting that the Democrat (INAUDIBLE) Jon Tester the apparent winner in Montana, he says so, knocking off Republican incumbent Conrad Burns, leaving all eyes on the one race still too close to call tonight officially, Virginia, Democrat Jim Webb holding a 7,200-vote edge over the Republican incumbent George Allen, the ballots still being counted, the possibility of a recount looming, and looming large.

Democrats are confident Webb will prevail.  He claimed victory early this morning.  That would give them full and official control of the Senate, tonight the Republicans with 49 seats, Democrats 48, plus the two independents, who have indicated they will caucus, Mr. Sanders and Mr.  Lieberman, with the Democrats.

Let‘s call in Mike Allen, White House correspondent for “TIME” magazine, who was at Mr. Bush‘s news conference in the East Room today.

Mike, good evening.

ALLEN:  Well, good evening, Keith.  And how long do you think it‘ll be till Secretary Rumsfeld gets his Medal of Freedom?

OLBERMANN:  Yes, or a talk show somewhere.  This is the first question I was asked today by people who are not political insiders.  If the president had pulled the trigger on the Rumsfeld resignation on Monday, if not much, much earlier, could it not have made a difference in the outcome of yesterday‘s election?

ALLEN:  That person must have been a Republican, because I can tell you that they feel very strongly that they might well have kept the Senate if the president had done this.  And the reason I know that is how apoplectic the campaigns were after the headline that came out of that interview the president did with the wire services last week was Rumsfeld stay.  They said that was absolutely fatal for them.  That is stay the course in human form.

And as you know, as you‘ve reported on your air many times, there has been an effort by other people in the West Wing and even in the residence to usher Secretary Rumsfeld out.  The president has resisted it.  I think that the—in the past, the president has viewed it as it would be a concession of failure or would be viewed as the president acknowledging failure.

But it‘s clear now, anybody who looks at that exit polls can see how big a factor Secretary Rumsfeld was.  And Keith, I‘ll tell you something that surprised me when I started digging into this last week, is the enmity toward Secretary Rumsfeld among people very close to the president.  There is obviously an element here of people who are close to the president blaming Secretary Rumsfeld so they don‘t have to blame the president, just as the president always puts everything off on the commanders.

But I will say there‘s people that are very relieved to have Secretary Rumsfeld go, and they think this is part of turning the page that the president is trying to do, and knows he needs to do if these next two years are going to be productive at all.

What you saw at that press conference there was the president refusing to cry for his whipping, coming out and trying to be strong, and trying to once again sort of take the offensive at a time when he‘s out obviously back on his heels.  When one of the reporters read to him various nasty things that soon-to-be Speaker Pelosi had said about him, including calling him the emperor with no clothes, the president almost imperceptibly tugged on his suit, just to say that he got the joke.

And as you know, soon-to-e Speaker Pelosi is coming for lunch this week.  And at least for a little while, they‘re both talking about being bipartisan.  But Keith, as you know, they‘re talking about being bipartisan on their own issues, so there‘s a conflagration coming.

OLBERMANN:  As long you agree with me, we‘ll be bipartisan.

About Rumsfeld being the first to go, goes quickly, and goes literally days after the president said, He‘s staying as long as I am.  Today the president was just as emphatic about Vice President Cheney.  Is there a proverbial vote of confidence, so pack your bags here, you‘re dead to me, Fredo, element in play for Mr. Cheney or for anybody else, Karl didn‘t work as hard as I did Rove, perhaps?  Who is still in trouble, if anybody?

ALLEN:  Well, you do have a way with words, and I‘m—Mr. Rove, we‘re told that that was a joke.  And in the senior staff meeting that they have in the Roosevelt Room every morning at 7:30, there was a round of applause for Karl Rove when the chief of staff, Josh Bolten, said what a great job Karl had done.

The president made that comment in response to a (INAUDIBLE) a question I had asked about his reading contest with Karl Rove.  And as you know, they always say, they always talk about in their 72-hour program, their turnout efforts are political things.  They always talk about metrics.  So I asked the president for metrics about his reading contest with Karl Rove.  And that‘s when he made that comment.  They say it was a joke.  It maybe had a little bit of a bite, certainly when it‘s played by itself.

And then he let him off the, he let him off the hook after that by saying that he reads more books or whatever.

OLBERMANN:  Back to the pure politics.  Virginia is where, recount, concession by the Republican?  Is it over?  What‘s going to happen?

ALLEN:  Well, Keith, Democrats have learned from the Bush team you saw, both of those Democratic senators, when they were up, they went out and claimed victory.  And we saw in 2000 what a huge difference that makes, because then you have a storyline going with, You‘re the winner, there‘s these technical delay, someone else is trying to push you out.  So it was very smart.

I can tell you the Republicans are not—national Republicans, at least, are not optimistic about keeping, about Senator Allen prevailing.  I don‘t know all the technicalities of the Virginia law.  But I can say that it would be a very difficult hill to climb.  Doesn‘t mean that it won‘t occur.  But I can tell you the Republicans in Washington are not expecting it.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, that might be the key answer right there.  Mike Allen, the White House correspondent of “TIME” magazine.  Great thanks, Mike.

ALLEN:  Have a beautiful week.  And Keith, they‘ll always give you a Medal of Freedom.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, I‘m sure I‘ll be the first on the list there at the White House.

It would not have been a presidential news conference if the president had not made some gaffes this afternoon.  But forget that for the moment.  How much of the rest was, Let‘s phrase this in the spirit of bipartisanship?  How much of the rest was historic revisionism?

As for Mr. Rumsfeld‘s replacement, looks like he‘ll be facing confirmation hearings with the Democrats.  It‘s d’j… vu for him.

And the next contender is?

Also, is the Baker-Hamilton study group on Iraq the way everybody‘s going to get out of there?

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Along with the astonishing change of direction in Congress, today saw some astonishing reversals in the White House, and not merely the heave-ho given to Mr. Rumsfeld.

In our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, a postelection President Bush goes before the nation to reveal the truth behind what was said by the preelection President Bush.

Just last week, the president asked whether he wanted Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney to stay on through the scheduled end of his term in 2009.  He said yes, he said so emphatically.

Today, Mr. Bush was asked why he would have said that, and he patiently replied that there was a very simple explanation why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  And my answer was, you know, they‘re going to stay on.  And the reason why is, I didn‘t want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign.  And so the only way to answer that question and to get you onto another question was to give you that answer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Bush‘s innocent motive, that he was merely trying to make sure he did not tell Americans something true, which they might have reactions that he didn‘t want to hear.  Also came into play today after his new praise for Democrats‘ commitment to America‘s security.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just a few days before this election in Texas, you said that Democrats, no matter how they put it, their approach to Iraq comes down to terrorists win, America loses.  What has changed today?

BUSH:  What‘s change today is, the election‘s over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Bush was not the only prominent Republican for whom yesterday‘s poll closings granted license to speak truth.  Rush Limbaugh admitted he has been lying to his faithful listeners.  And so moved was he by the Democratic victory, he even explained why he lied.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I feel liberated, and I‘m going to, I‘m just going to tell you as plainly as I can why.  I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don‘t think deserve having their water carried.  Now, you might say, Well, why have you been doing it?  Because the stakes are high.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Despite the Republican relief today, Mr. Bush was still confused about some matters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  While we have been adjusting, we will continue to adjust to achieve the objective.  And I believe that‘s what the American people want.  Somehow, it seeped in their conscious that, you know, my attitude was just simply, Stay the course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Somehow?  Can we see—I don‘t care, 25 through 29?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

BUSH:  We will stay the course...

And yet we must stay the course.

And we will stay the course in Iraq.

And we‘ll stay the course.

Matter of fact, we will win in Iraq, so long as we stay the course.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

OLBERMANN:  To the president‘s credit, even when reminded of things they said about him, he struck a primarily gracious tone about the Democrats who will soon control the legislative branch of the government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Congresswoman Pelosi and Harry Reid care just about as much—you know, they care about the security of this country like I do.  Democrats are going to support our troops just like Republicans will.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN:  Nancy Pelosi has called you incompetent, a liar, the emperor with no clothes.  And as recently as yesterday, dangerous.  How will you work with someone who has such little respect for your leadership and who is third in line for the presidency?

BUSH:  Suzanne, I‘ve been around politics a long time.  I understand when campaigns end.  And I know when governing begins.  And I‘m going to work with the people of both parties.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Or as he more simply phrased it, This wasn‘t my first rodeo.

Whether it was that President Bush who will greet the Democratic leaders in January even the president said the only way he can assure Americans of that is to make it happen.

If the Dems are to rule the House, likely the Senate too, what does that mean besides Mr. Bush reading more statements through gritted teeth for this president and his war?

And a look at the really important nail-biting race of the night, Kathy Finley versus Kathy Finley.

That‘s ahead.  This is COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  November 8, on this date in 1994, the major American political party that had been swept out at the polls two years earlier pulled a stunner, regaining control of the House and the Senate in the midterm election --  Hey, we‘ve done this story already.

Let‘s play Oddball.

And we begin with Oddball election results from the all-important Ramona (ph), California, city planner‘s race.  You may recall, this is where the stalwart Kathy Finley was running against the young upstart, Kathy Finley.  And with 100 percent of the precinct reporting, Oddball projecting Kathy Finley as the winner by a margin of about 400 votes.  Of course, the Kathy Finleys came in sixth and seventh, respectively, in this race.  There were seven open spots on the city planning board.  So everyone is a winner.

But to put it more accurately, Kathy Finley is the winner.  Clearly, the Oddball endorsement of Kathy Finley and the late negative advertising campaign against Kathy Finley pushed Kathy Finley over the top, leaving Kathy Finley wondering just what went wrong.  Kathy Finley, Kathy Finley, Kathy Finley.

Here‘s something far less confusing, it‘s a Japanese underwear model showing off Triumph Lingerie‘s new ecofriendly brassiere, a bra that can be transformed into a shopping bag.  Why?  So we don‘t have to use so many plastic ones.  Yes, it‘s the Worst Idea in Modern History.  Apparently, environmentally friendly shoppers are encouraged to take the bra off at the supermarket, unfold it, and begin stuffing it full of food items.

Well, you know what?  If it helps save the planet, maybe it isn‘t such a bad idea after all.

Finally, to the Internets, where 600,000 people have watched this video of a guy who apparently just got himself a sweet new Mustang Shelby Cobra, then lets his kid fire it up in the driveway.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Like, this is all style right here, and then this is just a bad accident right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How much was (INAUDIBLE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Whoa!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE)!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Holy (expletive deleted).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Like Ferris Buehler‘s friend.  It‘s funny because it‘s not my car.

Overtures of reconciliation and working today with the new Congress.  But is President Bush anything but a lame-duck president after this election?

And the major breaking news lost amid the excitement of a national campaign coming to its climax.  Britney Spears and Kevin Federline (ph) have come to their climax.  They‘ve officially broken up.

Those stories ahead.

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

Number three, Megan Zacher of Delancoe (ph), New Jersey.  She participated in a Shake It Like Shakira contest at a New York City bar, actually atop the bar at the bar.  She fell down.  She needed surgery on her left knee, so she‘s suing the bar.  She was only on her second drink at the time.  She‘s suing the bar.

On the other hand, there‘s Anna Urban of Reading, Pennsylvania.  She needed a ride to go vote yesterday, so she called 911.  Ordinarily, they‘d look askance at somebody who did this.  But instead, the emergency operator transferred her to the county election services office.   They got her a ride, largely because Ms. Urban is 95 years old, and she has not missed an election since FDR was president.

And number one, the 25-year-old man from Buffalo (ph) City, Wisconsin, and his 21-year-old female companion from Winona (ph), Wisconsin.  They tried the old rip off the change machine at the carwash trick.  You know, attached a string to a $10 bill and then stuck it in the change machine.

Mistake number one, they did not attach it very well, and the string broke after the bill was in the machine.  Mistake number two, they did not see the security camera right above the change machine.  And best of all, mistake number three, they came back the next day and demanded that the manager refund them their $10.  They will be charged just as soon as police stop laughing.

OLBERMANN:  Breaking news on the Senate race from Virginia.  The “Associated Press” has called a victor in the battle between the incumbent Republican Senator George Allen and the Democratic challenger Jim Webb.  The “Associated Press,” not NBC NEWS or MSNBC, but the “Associated Press” is saying tonight the race has gone to Jim Webb giving the Democrats, officially control of the Senate, at least as far as the “A.P.”  has tallied.  How they‘re differences or how their measurements differ from ours at NBC NEWS is a very long and complicated story, suffice it to say that from the “A.P.‘s” point of view that race is over. 

A recount did you say?  That has nothing to do with how the “A.P.”  might call it or if and when NBC NEWS calls it officially in our books it‘s still too close to call.  It will obviously decide the Senate when it was finally decided. 

If you saw any of President Bush‘s late campaign speeches, you may have heard him encourage the audience to chant rhetorically at the Democrats, “What‘s your plan?”  Turned out Americans either already knew the answer and liked it or they were just curious enough to vote the Democrats in and give them a chance to answer in person.

In tonight‘s No. 3 story on the COUNTDOWN, the plan.  Nancy Pelosi, expected to be the next speaker of the House, has said she has several goals for the first hundred hours after the Democrats take power in January.  They include such radical San Francisco values as raising the minimum wage.  Mr. Bush today hinted he may be doable on that.  Also, despite being accused of being weak on security, Pelosi wants to beef up government compliance with the 9/11 Commission recommendations.  Then there‘s college tuition.  Pelosi says you should be able to deduct it from your taxes.  And it turns out Pelosi wants ethics reform for Congress itself so that the lobbyists are not writing America‘s laws, so Americans have a chance to read the laws before they‘re passed.

Plus unlike the president, Pelosi wants the government to push the drug companies for lower prices on prescription drugs.  Sounds like a plan.  The Democrats also want to fund research on new lines of stem cells, which most Americans support, according to the polling, and there was something about providing additional funding for military veterans.  Of course it all starts to blur together in one new rainbow colored hippy blur. 

Before the new Congress makes kumbaya the national anthem, let‘s bring in E.J. Dionne, the columnist of the “Washington Post,” senior fellow at the Brooking Institution. 

Great thanks as always for your time tonight, sir.

E.J. DIONNE JR, “WASHINGTON POST”:  Great to be with you again. 

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s start, E.J., with the very first signs of common ground.  Both parties claiming that they expect to find common ground.  Obviously the ground the country is worried about is Iraq.  We heard the president, today, reference Secretary Baker‘s study group on Iraq.  Last night Howard Dean referenced it on our air.  And Rahm Emanuel and other Democrats.  Is the Baker report going to be the mechanism by which they all reconfigure our presence in Iraq while letting the president, and to some degree the country, save face while getting out? 

DIONNE:  Well, personally I hope so.  And I do think that‘s what‘s happening.  I was very struck by the president‘s comments.  And I think it‘s very interesting that he seems to be bringing in people from his father‘s administration.  And it seems that many of the people around his father where much more skeptical of this Iraq policy going in than the advisors around this President Bush.  And so I think it‘s logical to conclude that the Baker Commission is going to come up with ways the Democrats might use as a way of encouraging the president down a path of getting us out of there in a reasonable time. 

And I don‘t know what that is.  I still think it‘s going to be a pretty long time.  But getting us out of there in a reasonable time and causing as little damage as possible.  It may involve, I think, negotiations or roundtables with the countries in the region which ought to want to help us on this, because they‘re as scared of a civil war in Iraq, you know, a full scale, even bigger, civil war in Iraq than we have now.  They‘re as scared as we are. 

OLBERMANN:  Let me update a little bit on this “Associated Press” report on George Allen and Jim Webb in Virginia, E.J. An advisor to Allen is telling that wire service, the “Associated Press” that Senator Allen wants to wait until most of canvassing in that vote count has been completed before announcing his decision, which would be a concession, according to this report.  That might come as early as tomorrow evening, so we‘ve got another 24 hours, but the “A.P.”  has already moved Virginia into the Democratic column. 

And under those circumstances, especially, it‘s hard to imagine that Americans voted a Republican Congress out purely out of a hunger to have a different party that will still agree with the president.  Do the Democrats ignore at their peril the wing of their party that donated and campaigned on the promise of intensive oversight of hearings, subpoenas, at least some oversight idea? 

DIONNE:  You can do a lot of things at the same time.  I mean, I think on the one hand to say that if the president‘s willing to move toward a better policy in Iraq, there‘s no reason not to encourage him.  At the same time, I‘m sure there are going to be lots of hearings on all sorts of things from the Halliburton to the drug companies to how we got into the war.  And I think the Democrats are going to try to figure out a way to have serious oversight which really didn‘t happen much under the Republican Congress with Bush, without looking like they‘re Inspector Clouseau or something, investigating a paperclip stolen from the White House, which is what the Republicans use to do with Bill Clinton. 

OLBERMANN:  Of particular concern here in terms of what the Democrats will do and to the senators who recoiled in horror at its passage and anybody who remembers good old habeas corpus, the Military Commissions Act, do the Democrats have a plan to dismantle that or is their presence in power enough by itself to keep that monster under the bed? 

DIONNE:  You know, I don‘t think they have a plan to dismantle it.  I think that one of the most underused mechanisms Congress has in the recent—and one most underused in years, is the hearing.  And discussions that say, wait a minute, we think there‘s a problem, let us demonstrate to you that this is a problem and that we got to move in another direction.  And I think this is an issue where with some serious work, over time, they could pursued a lot of Americans that this is not a good idea and that we should move in a different direction.  And I think, on some issues you can act quickly, like the minimum wage, on other issues you can use the power you now have to move the country in your direction and I think this is one of those where they could do that. 

OLBERMANN:  Maybe keeping the subpoenas under the bed might be the easiest way to get a little juice going on those things. 

DIONNE:  Yeah, well you need some—yeah.  Well, subpoenas, I think we‘re going to see a lot more of those issued under the Democrats than we did in the last few years.  It‘ll make a nice chart on your show. 

OLBERMANN:  Yeah, can‘t wait.  E.J. Dionne, the “Washington Post” columnist, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.  Great thanks as always for your time tonight. 

DIONNE:  Great to see you. 

OLBERMANN:  In all the excitement about the winners of election night, you might have missed the losers.  We‘ll roundup the best of those who did worse in “Decision 2006.” 

And speaking of losers, not only have music fans rejected him, but his own wife just kicked K-Fed to the curb, apparently chose Election Day to do it to minimize the publicity he could get from it.  Those stories ahead, but now here are COUNTDOWN‘s “Top 3 Sound Bites” of this day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JON STEWART, “DAILY SHOW”:  Hillary Clinton, we knew she was going to win a landslide, but I mean, how would you, Dan Rather, describe the largeness of her victory. 

DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS:  How about she ran away with it like a hobo with a sweet potato pie? 

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART:  The Allen Webb race in Virginia, it‘s still too close to call.  It‘s a ugly, ugly race. 

RATHER:  I‘d say as ugly as the Hog Lagoon after a bachelor party. 

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Dybevik is not sure who the firth president was that she voted for. 

HELEN DYBEVIK, 102-YEAR-OLD VOTER:  If you‘re able to get around and I am, it‘s a natural thing to do. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Animals are everywhere.  And we do mean everywhere. 

BILL HIGBEE, EXTREME ANIMAL LOVER:  This is where my critters go when they die.  This is the big lizard I was telling you about.  That‘s Big Male. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You might think this would keep the others on edge, but if newest acquisition, Scooter, is any indication of how much Bill loves animals. 

HIGBEE:  Oh yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They‘ve got nothing to worry about. 

Scooter was paralyzed and abandoned.  Bill heard about the ferret from the town vet and knew he had to adopted him and built a wheelchair.  With his one big multispeciesed family looking on, Scooter rides again.

HIGBEE:  Where you going there, Scoots?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  More on our breaking story.  NBC NEWS has now declared the Democratic challenger Jim Webb the victor in the Senate race in Virginia over the incumbent Republican George Allen.  That would officially give the Senate and the House to the Democrats.  The “Associated Press” says, the margin of victory is now at 7,236 votes.  It says a concession speech from Allen could come as early as tomorrow evening and it quotes an Allen advisor who says the senator would be disinclined to request a recount unless that margin between he and Mr. Webb shrinks in the next 24 hours.  Though, we‘ll have further details on this tomorrow, meanwhile, here tonight on COUNTDOWN, politicians can learn how not to lose a contest, especially when cameras are on you, courtesy of the country singer, Faith Hill.  That‘s next, this is COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Repeating the hour‘s breaking news:  NBC NEWS and the “Associated Press” have both declared Jim Webb of the Democrat the apparent winner of the Senatetorial seat from Virginia.  We‘ll give you full details on the latest on all of this and the possibility of concession speech from Senator George Allen in a moment. 

As always, of course, the odds are 5-2 that anything funny one of us might have just thought of was expressed and expressed better by the comedians Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding, no later than 1972. 

Our No. 2 story in the COUNTDOWN, it was they who once had an apocryphal losing candidate stand before an imaginary room of supporters to give the traditional concession speech.  Only instead the guy said, “I‘m sure after my opponent has been in office a few months, you‘ll all come to me and say, ‘We all made a mistake.  We should have voted for you.  Won‘t you please run again?‘ You know what I‘ll say then, I‘ll say ‘Nuts, you had your chance to vote for me and you didn‘t.  Nuts, I‘m not ever going to run again.‘” You didn‘t get that last night, but we came close.  Here are COUNTDOWN‘s hidden highlights of “Decision 2006.” 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST:  Let‘s look at the first results of the night.  Virginia which is going to be one of the big ones tonight, too early to call. 

OLBERMANN:  I‘m thinking we‘re going to be repeating that phrase for a little while yet. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you, New Jersey. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Please give him a round of .  Please.  Come on. 

Give it up.  Give him a round of applause. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You may have noticed this chain made out of construction paper.  As of tonight, we have thousands of links to this chain. 

OLBERMANN:  Whether or not voters intended it to be a referenda, if it does come back overwhelmingly Democratic in the various votes tonight, you might see some sort of shift towards getting out of that war faster than Britney Spears just got out of her marriage. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go back to a more traditional reference, Keith ol‘ buddy. 

KINKY FRIEDMAN (I), TEXAS:  In Perry wins, I pledge to retire in a petulant snit onto a goat farm and not speak to anybody.  Is this live or not? 

(LAUGHTER)

GOV.  ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA:  You know, I love doing sequels.  I love.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My sister Eunice is not here, she‘s out in California.  I don‘t know why she‘d want to be in California.  Cally-fornia.

MATTHEWS:  NBC now projects that the Democratic Party has taken over the House of Representatives. 

You‘re laughing.  You are amazing. 

OLBERMANN:  For some reason Karl Rove‘s words come to mind here about “you‘re entitled to your math and I am entitled to the math.” 

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know what that means.

OLBERMANN:  It‘s the new math, tonight. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘d call it a Texas whoopin‘. 

MATTHEWS:  You know when the race is over, when one guy stands up, his family‘s crying and he says “I lost.” 

OLBERMANN:  Or as we saw with Mr. Negron‘s candidacy in Florida, if they‘re dismantling the equipment while the TV live shots continue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Don‘t give up on your ideals or your dreams, certainly don‘t succumb to bithserness at some of the Liberals in the media. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The clock of this election ran out on us. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And the rage towards our president proved insurmountable. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I cannot help but regard the decision of New York voters as odd. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It just was not to be. 

TOM KEAN JR., ®, NEW JERSEY:  I am not going away. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Don‘t lose faith in this great thing called America. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you, and have a good night.  We‘ll see you tomorrow counting the votes. 

JON TESTER (D), MONTANA:  So how many, with the new numbers, how many precincts are left.  Do you know? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Butte‘s still out? 

TESTER:  Butte‘s still out?  That‘s good. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  People of Tennessee have spoken. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The great state of Missouri has spoken. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  As Ohio goes in ‘06 so goes the nation in ‘08. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I would like to say that the votes are in and we won. 

OLBERMANN:  I leave you with something here.  I‘m leaving you a couple of doughnuts to get through the next couple of hours.  My final gift to you.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  Thank you and goodbye. 

OLBERMANN:  And goodbye.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  And let‘s recap the breaking news.  NBC NEWS tonight declaring Democratic challenger Jim Webb the apparent winner in the Virginia Senate race.  That would formally give the Senate to the Democrats, both Houses of Congress to them for the first time since 1994.  The “Associated Press” says the difference between Webb and incumbent Republican George Allen is 7,236 votes.  That news organization also quotes an advisor who says Allen may make a concession as early as tomorrow evening.  That he would be disinclined to request a recount in a vote of about 1.5 million voters unless the vote spread is a lot less once the canvassing of the various precincts has been completed. 

Again, Jim Webb declared by NBC NEWS, the apparent winner in Virginia and the Senate thus goes to the Democrats. 

Republicans were not the only big losers this week as you‘ll see in tonight‘s edition of our roundup of tabloid and celebrity news, “Keeping Tabs.” 

Country singer Faith Hill went up against Carrie Underwood in Monday‘s battle for the Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year.  And from the look on her face, in the middle there, when the results came in, it appeared she wanted a recount her own self.  But today, a spokesman on the Hill said, “She was just messing around.  She didn‘t realize that the camera was rolling the whole time.”  In a statement Hill said, “The idea that I would act disrespectful towards a fellow musician is unimaginable to me.”  Which doesn‘t exactly explain how she was able to imagine it as a joke.  “Who do you think I am,” she added, “Kanye West?”

Made up the Kanye West quote, sorry.

Well who didn‘t see this coming?  Spederline, spitsville?  Michael Musto joins us for an autopsy of this dead horse in a moment, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for “Worst Person in the World.”

The Bronze to Charles William Nelson, his father, Senator Bill Nelson, lit up his challenger, Catherine Harris, and then he apparently got lit up too last night.  Arrested and pepper sprayed about quarter to three this morning when police said they found him drunk and disorderly on the street and they claim he shoved the officer.  Somewhere Miss Harris is saying, “Couldn‘t have done that Monday?”

Our Silver to Laura Ingraham went on a radio show during voting yesterday, seen in an earlier picture.  She gave out the toll-free number for the Democratic Party‘s National Voter Assistance Hot Line and told the listeners to jam the phone lines. 

Laura, it‘s one thing for you to use the political tactics of say, the Soviet Union, but it‘s quit another when you can‘t even make them work.  “At the end of the day.”

How embarrassing.

But our winner, good old Rupert Murdoch.  According to the international news service, (INAUDIBLE), in Tokyo at a conference Monday, the News Corp boss said it was right to go into Iraq and that U.S.  casualties there, quoting, “By the terms of any previous war are quite minute.”  Two thousand, eight hundred and thirty nine dead, “quite minute.” 

Hey, Mr. President while you‘re clearing out the deadwood from the people who work for you, can you a fire this Murdoch guy too? 

Rupert Murdoch, the crypt keeper over at News Corp, today‘s “Worst Person in the World.” 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  There were many bruising losses in yesterday‘s elections, incumbent Pennsylvania Rick Santorum, “man on dog” Santorum got newtered.  The New York congresswoman who lost to the singer from the ‘71 hit wonder band, “Orleans,” and in our No. 1 story in the COUNTDOWN, incumbent house hanger-on Kevin Federline. 

Throw the bums out, you betcha.  With 100 percent of the precincts reporting NBC NEWS can now project that when all the votes are counted; K-Fed will become Fed-Ex. 

Mired in scandal, singing a tune that voters no longer had the stomach for, and steadfastly refusing to change his course despite widespread public disapproval, Mr. Federline has gone down to defeat.

That‘s right, looking now at the two-way horse race, it‘s Britney Spears, one, Kevin Federline, zero.  Mr. Federline‘s incumbency established by an unbending capacity to sire children has finally been broken. 

And from Mr. Federline, the closest he will ever come to a concession speech, appearing before 300 people at a New York concert hall that holds five times that many.  Promoters begged him to cancel.  In fact he waited three hours for even that many to show up. 

What time‘s the concert? 

What time can you get here? 

It was a performance described as both mercifully short and really confused.  That‘s right, finish up your act before they start dismantling the stage. 

Or, as I‘m sure our panel of experts will agree, the seeds for Mr.  Federline‘s demise had been planted long ago.  Only four days before the election reporters in New York couldn‘t get his name right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Spears, what‘s up?  Mr. Spears, please, Mr.

Spears! Mr. Spears, please.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Conversely, Mrs.  Spears‘ cameo appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman” on election eve, deemed by pundits who have sealed the deal and on Election Day the divorce papers filed in L.A., Ms.  Spears citing irreconcilable differences, asking for custody of the couple‘s two children.  Federline has now sued for sole custody and spousal support. 

For the postmortem on this part of “Decision 2006,” let me call in “Village Voice” columnist, Michael Musto. 

Michael, good evening.

MICHAEL MUSTO, “VILLAGE VOICE”:  Hi, Keith, I‘m a whole panel of experts now.  I love it.  Am I gaining weight?

OLBERMANN:  No, we‘re just complementing you. 

MUSTO:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  All right, so that‘s it, K-Fed out?  Britney in?  It‘s all over? 

MUSTO:  Yeah, I mean, Reece was getting too big—oh, who, oh, K-Fed?  Yeah, yeah, yeah, well at least this time Britney went for two whole years, not just two days.  But while it‘s over, I do feel it‘s as refillable as the Slurpee cup they once got at a 7-Eleven, which they called their third child.  I think K-Fed could romance her back if he refills her Slurpee. 

OLBERMANN:  TMZ.com has this exclusive video of Spears ice skating at Rockefeller Center Plaza yesterday after the divorce was announced.  Apparently with her manager, there.  Before that she had gone to the local Gap store.  So evidently she‘s really broken up about this, huh?

MUSTO:  Well, who wouldn‘t be carrying on like that if you dumped K-Fed even temporarily?  I mean, you‘d be dancing a jig on the Empire State Building.  And she‘s all over town, Election Day, what‘s that?  And she‘s showing off her fabulous new body, she loft 40 pounds, 220, if you count K-Fed, and she‘s not skating on thin ice any more.  I‘m happy for her. 

OLBERMANN:  We did ask Ms. Spears for a comment.  Let me play this and then get your reaction. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRITNEY SPEARS, SINGER:  Uh?  Hm?  (BELCH)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Does this really represent a change in direction, or is it simply more of the same for American?

MUSTO:  It‘s a change, usually belch is to the left in this place she‘s going right.  And her belch has more spirit, more moxie, she‘s not a belching like a trapped woman anymore and just the fact that she is belching, though, is reassurance that this is the same old, you know, acid-filled, flatulent Britney that we love.  So, I‘m relieved.

OLBERMANN:  Do you think that she picked Election Day in particular so that he couldn‘t even get any publicity out of this?  Was there something to that idea? 

MUSTO:  You think Britney Spears knows what Election Day is?  OK, she doesn‘t even know Ground Hog Day. 

OLBERMANN:  I‘m sorry.  You‘re right.

MUSTO:  OK.

OLBERMANN:  The TV show “Extra” says Federline did not even hear about the filing from his wife that a friend says, “Kevin‘s very focused on his album and singing career.”  So, some—is this going to turn out to be some sort of positive for Federline‘s “singing” career? 

MUSTO:  Singing career?  What is that?  It‘s like Britney with Election Day.  What is that? 

No, no, he has no musical direction.  There is no craft there.  He can‘t really funnel this experience into his music.  And what we‘ve learned from this whole thing is that you can‘t create a musical star out of nothing, except for Britney Spears.  There‘s only one of those allowed per household.

OLBERMANN:  And they‘re suing each other for sole custody of the kids.  Are the kids going to sue so they don‘t have to stick with either of them? 

MUSTO:  They‘re going to go with Reece and Ryan, I think.  But, look, K-Fed‘s getting 10 million from the prenup.  That‘s no so bad.  And he gets full custody of the beef jerky and the popcorn popper and he doesn‘t want the kids, they don‘t even want tickets to his concert. 

OLBERMANN:  Look, you can always make new kids, as he‘s proved. 

The incomparable Michael Musto of the “Village Voice.”  Thanks for joining us.  By Michael.

MUSTO:  Bye.

OLBERMANN:  If you‘ve missed the breaking news, NBC NEWS has now declared Jim Webb the apparent winner in Virginia, giving the Senate to the Democrats.  “Associated Press” says Senator Allen may concede as early as tomorrow evening, that unless the vote margin changes significantly, Senator Allen would be “disinclined to request a recount.” 

And that is COUNTDOWN for this, the 1,285th day since the declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, goodnight and good luck.

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

END   

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