updated 4/2/2007 11:47:49 AM ET 2007-04-02T15:47:49

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

Did President Bush know Pat Tillman had been killed by friendly fire a week after Tillman‘s death, a month before anyone told Tillman‘s family?  A startling memo from April 2004 surfacing tonight from a major general to General John Abizaid, warning him to warn the president, Do not refer to how Tillman died.  It was highly possible he died at the hands of American soldiers.

Two days later, in his speech about Tillman, the president made no

reference to how the Army Ranger was killed.

The president also tries to deflect the U.S. attorney scandal by engaging the Walter Reed scandal, at Walter Reed, just six weeks after it all broke into the open.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We‘re fixing that which needs to be fixed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  While Congress tries to fix the guilt in Gonzalez-gate, closed-door testimony today from a Justice Department official.

And the frontrunner among Republicans to succeed Mr. Bush is knee-deep in it again.  Rudy Giuliani knew of Bernie Kerik‘s alleged mob ties before he pushed for him Kerik to become director of Homeland Security.

Why is a TV network commissioning a poll that asks people if a political party should let itself be taken over by a grassroots organization?  Because the TV network is Fox Noise, and the results will make the Democrats look bad.

Talk about looking bad, if your name was spelled B-O-E-H-N-E-R, don‘t you think you‘d learn how to pronounce Tuskegee when you‘re speaking at an event honoring the Tuskegee Airmen, witnessed by the surviving Tuskegee Airmen?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

The Tuskajee Airmen showed America and the world the stuff that they were made of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  As you just did.

And it‘s the big night.  We‘ve bent over backwards to bring you the winners of the first-ever Internet awards, the Keithies.

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR,” FOX NEWS)

BILL O‘REILLY, HOST:  Well, right you are, Mr. Meyerhoff (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

No scandal has better illustrated the gap between the rhetoric offered by the Bush administration about its post-9/11 fight against terrorism, versus the reality of what it has actually done, than the death of NFL star turned Army Ranger Pat Tillman.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, breaking news this hour that just seven days after Corporal Tillman‘s death, a top Pentagon official told the head of Central Command that President Bush should be warned to avoid saying that the Army Ranger had died in an ambush, because there were strong indications he had, in fact, been killed by friendly fire, something his family would not learn for another month.

Did the president know and not let the Tillmans know, the revelation from the Associated Press all but confirming the military has been more concerned with sparing its own officials from embarrassment than in sharing the truth about Corporal Tillman‘s death with his own family, in a memo dated April 29, 2004, then-Major General Stanley McChrystal warning Centcom chief General John Abizaid that it was, quote, “highly possible the Army Ranger was killed by friendly fire, and that this warning should be shared with the president.”

Quoting him, “I felt that it was essential that you receive this information as soon as we detected it in order to preclude any unknowing statements by our country‘s leaders, which might cause public embarrassment if the circumstances of Corporal Tillman‘s death became public,” at the White House Correspondents Dinner of 2004, just two days after that memo was dated, President Bush making no mention of how Corporal Tillman died, speaking only generally of his loss.

Earlier this week on the “Dan Patrick Show” on ESPN Radio, Corporal Tillman‘s mother, Mary, talked to Dan and me about why she thought the military felt it necessary to withhold the truth about her son‘s death.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MARY TILLMAN, PAT TILLMAN‘S MOTHER:  I mean, it‘s very important to keep in mind that this was not simply to dupe our family and to assuage our family.  This was an attempt to dupe the public, and to promote this war, and to get recruitment up.  And that is immoral, and it‘s a travesty that this young man, who did not, by the way, believe in the war in Iraq was the right thing to do—I mean, that was just a horrible thing to do to his legacy.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s bring in Todd Bowers, legislative director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Thank you for your time tonight, sir.

TODD BOWERS, LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR, IRAQ And AFGHANISTAN VETERANS Of AMERICA:  Hey, thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN:  The White House says the president often praises fallen soldiers without getting into any details of their death.  But this obviously was not just a—an ordinary soldier.  How suspicious should we be of the fact that the president‘s comments were utterly consistent with both the public the story at the time, as well as what we would all later on learn were the real facts of Tillman‘s death, but his family didn‘t even know at that time?

BOWERS:  I think we should be very questionable about what the timing is of all this.  I mean, given two days afterwards that he finds this out and then speaks about Pat Tillman in these regards, is just a little too close, if you ask me.  The generals in the Pentagon were probably pretty aware.  I mean, we know this by the e-mails.  And whether that was forwarded on to the White House and the president knew about it is very questionable to me.

OLBERMANN:  How likely is it that the head of Central Command, General Abizaid, would get a warning like this about saving the president public embarrassment and not pass it on either to the White House or to the secretary of the defense at the time, Mr. Rumsfeld?

BOWERS:  Well, I personally think it‘s very unlikely.  If he knew that he had a high-profile soldier, such as Pat Tillman, and died under these circumstances, I would hope that he would inquire as to what happened.  Receiving an e-mail such as this, I don‘t see why he would not send it to the White House.  His loyalties are with the White House.  They are essentially his employer.

OLBERMANN:  The DOD inspector general cited nine people for failing to act properly once they knew friendly fire was suspected, especially in regard to letting the family know.  Four generals were among those nine.  General Abizaid was not one of those nine.  Do we have any idea why not, and should he have been?

BOWERS:  I‘m not sure why he was not included, but I do know this.  When situations like this occur, they write sitreps, and anyone that saw this sitrep, the report of what happened to Pat Tillman that day, and allowed this month timeframe to pass, should be held accountable in any way, shape, or form, anyone that‘s knew the truth and did not give that to the American public, most specifically to Pat Tillman‘s family, should be held accountable.

OLBERMANN:  How bad, from the point of view of those who have survived Iraq and Afghanistan, is a story like this?  How harrowing, how shaking to the core is something like this?

BOWERS:  We all go over there and we serve with great pride and distinction.  Whether we‘re killed in friendly fire, combat, or an accidental death, we all serve proudly.  That should not become a piece in a political chess game.  I can tell you this much, and she‘s watching right now, so I‘m sure she‘d agree with me.  If my mother had been treated the way Ms. Tillman was treated, there would only be five walls on the Pentagon right now, because she would have knocked down one of those to get the answers.

OLBERMANN:  As well we can all say that, I think, in our own families, and perhaps on behalf of others like the Tillman family as well.

Todd Bowers, the legislative director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  Todd, great thanks for your time tonight.

BOWERS:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  The president today dealing with his house of scandal by trying to spin the one that involves our friends and family who did make it back from Afghanistan and Iraq, his administration crumbling around him, quite literally in Iraq, at the Justice Department, and in Republican caucus rooms on Capitol Hill, and Mr. Bush today making his first visit to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center since the shoddy conditions and shocking conditions were exposed, some six weeks ago, the commander in chief evidently less interested in swift change than in the new StairMaster.

Perhaps in another month and a half, Mr. Bush will see fit to turn his attention to the other scandals in his administration unfolding at the moment, like his former lawyer turned attorney general, who still believed, it seems, that he was just Mr. Bush‘s lawyer, former chief of staff to Alberto Gonzales Kyle Sampson telling the Senate just yesterday, you will recall, that the attorney general made, at best, inaccurate statements about his role in the firing of eight federal prosecutors for political reasons, as a result, Mr. Gonzalez today changing his story again, from a variation of, I was not involved, to, I do not recall being involved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL:  I don‘t recall being involved in deliberations involving the question of whether or not a U.S. attorney should or should not be asked to resign.  My primary focus was ensuring that the White House was kept advised of what we were doing...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The attorney general apparently now looking to testify to the Senate sooner rather than later, intending to ask the Judiciary Committee if he can move up his testimony.  It probably would not be by more than a week.  The Senate is now in recess until April 10.  He‘s due to speak at April 17‘s sessions, meanwhile, a deputy at the Justice Department, Michael Elston, offering his testimony today behind closed doors on Capitol Hill.

For word on whether his account conflicts with that of Mr. Gonzalez, as they say, watch this space, Democrats on the Hill also seeking information from the president‘s alleged brain, Karl Rove, information about a presentation by a White House aide given to government employees about how they could help Republican candidates in the 2008 elections, what would be a big no-no, to say the least, under the federal Hatch Act, insisting on nonpolitical conduct in those agencies.

Mr. Rove and company also under investigation for having used nongovernment e-mail accounts to conduct government business, because they wanted to keep that business secret, and that, too, it would seem, in strict violation of federal law, meanwhile back at Walter Reed, the veterans advocacy group Veterans for America criticizing the president‘s visit today as nothing more than a photo-op, seeing how he did not visit any of the areas, like Building 18, most in need of change, and no cameras were permitted there.

The president‘s prescription for change equally perplexing, to somehow fix the bureaucracy by creating even more bureaucracy to investigate, weeks stretching into months, quite possibly into years, before anything might be done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  I met some of the soldiers who had been housed in Building 18.  I was disturbed by their accounts of what went wrong.  It is, it is not right to have someone volunteer to wear our uniform and not get the best possible care.  I apologize for what they went through.  And we‘re going to fix the problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s turn now to our own Jonathan Alter, senior editor for “Newsweek” magazine.

Jon, good evening.

JONATHAN ALTER, SENIOR EDITOR, “NEWSWEEK” MAGAZINE:  Hey, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Does it seem as if most of these scandals surrounding this administration right now, one might say engulfing it, have this underlying theme of Karl Rove attempting to use the resources of the federal government to ensure his dream of a permanent Republican majority?

ALTER:  Well, there‘s no question that‘s that what he was planning to do, and had at least one meeting a week for the last seven years to do that.  And that‘s the thread that ties this, you know, scandal together, this Justice Department scandal together.

It was a concerted effort to put their people in and screw the Democrats.  And so what they did is, they broke all precedent, for instance, and started bringing voter fraud indictments just before an election, to make it seem like the Democrats were the corrupt party, almost always in swing states.  The prosecutors who were fired, with only one exception, all came from swing states.

So they were trying to poison the well there before the election, in violation of tradition.  And you see a lot of professional prosecutors who are just outraged about this, Keith, whether they‘re Democrats or Republicans.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  So we‘ve got the Pentagon with Tillman, we got the Department of Justice.  We‘ve got the General Services Administration, where these meetings took place with the PowerPoint demonstrations.  There was even something with Fish and Wildlife.  They‘ve got everybody here except the Visiting Nurse Association has been politically corrupted at this point.

Is it possible in this, as we‘re beginning to get the full panorama here, is it possible to overstate the importance of the Democratic Congress in bringing these scandals to light?  I mean, all of them seem to be under the radar for the first years of this administration.  The last two months, we‘ve seemed to see all of them right come to the surface.  Is that Congress‘s doing?

ALTER:  Absolutely.  This is what we, you and I talked about a lot last fall.  This was what was at stake in this election is, you‘ve got to have subpoena power.  The press can‘t do it itself, when it comes to rooting out wrongdoing.  So now the Democratic committee chairmen can haul these people up on Capitol Hill, and some of Karl Rove‘s former aides are not going to have any executive privilege protection.

So you‘re going to see a lot more testimony in the weeks to come.  And I think Rove, over the course of this year, is going to be in deep doo-doo on a variety of issues.  We don‘t know which one will do him in, but I wouldn‘t be surprised if he‘s not working in the White House by the end of the year.

OLBERMANN:  Is there a point, though, at which, is there a tipping in reverse point, where the scandals might begin to work in the administration‘s favor, not just in terms of scandal fatigue, not just in terms of keeping attention focused off Iraq, but also in terms of trying to keep all the scandals straight at this point?  I mean, you really need to write this stuff down now.

ALTER:  Well, you can‘t keep it straight without a scorecard.  But that‘s true of a lot of complicated Washington scandals.  And remember, this doesn‘t have to be Watergate, it doesn‘t have to, you know, blow the president out of the water.  But what it does do is, it opens a window on the way they work and the way they think.

Just to give you one quick example with probably the most famous prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, when it came time to appoint him, Karl Rove told the Republican senator from Illinois, No, don‘t put him in, he might be too independent and go after the governor of Illinois, the Republican governor at the time, who was a crook, later, you know, convicted.

So clearly, what Rove was trying to do is in jurisdiction by jurisdiction, protect Republicans, go after Democrats, and essentially turn our criminal justice system into what they have in a banana republic.

OLBERMANN:  Lastly, Jon, am I right about the impact of this latest part of the Pat Tillman story, that unlike fired U.S. attorneys or anything else that‘s on the table right at the moment, this is the kind of visceral thing that anybody can understand, that anybody can get mad at, that there‘s evidence the president could have easily, if it‘s not certain, it‘s could have easily been true that he played politics like an insider trader on Wall Street, with a famous dead soldier?

ALTER:  Well, if that comes out, I agree with you, I think it‘s an easier-to-understand story.  But this is a pattern, Keith.  You know, I did a story for NBC News a couple of months ago about a soldier from California who was killed in Iraq.  His mother was told for two years that it was an ambush.  And finally, the Pentagon admitted that he was killed by the very Iraqi troops that he was training, shot in the back by the troops that he was training.

And they had kept this from her for two years.

So this covering up of the truth in the interests of public relations is a pattern.  And I hope it‘s something that we hear more about in the days ahead.

OLBERMANN:  Unfortunately, it certainly will be.

“Newsweek” magazine senior editor, our own Jonathan Alter.  Great thanks for joining us tonight, Jon.

ALTER:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Speaking of scandal, presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani facing at least one new one.  He endorsed Bernard Kerik for director of Homeland Security, even though he already knew of the allegations that the man had mob ties.

And your votes are in.  We‘ve counted them.  Time to reveal just who won the first annual Best of the Stuff We Found on the Internets Awards.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Just about two years after just after what would be his presidential inaugural, Rudolph Giuliani already has a jump on past presidents.

In our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, Mr. Giuliani today backpedaling on his first cabinet nominee, and on how big a role his third wife first lady would play in his administration.

We get the details from our chief White House correspondent, David Gregory.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID GREGORY, NBC CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  In Republican circles, it‘s long been feared that Bernard Kerik is the largest skeleton in Rudy Giuliani‘s closet.

Today “The New York Times” reported that back in 2000, then-Mayor Giuliani was briefed about Kerik‘s possible ties to a company accused of having links to organized crime, before Giuliani named Kerik police commissioner.  Kerik, only last summer, admitted he allowed the company to provide free renovations to his apartment.

Reporter Jonathan Dienst of WNBC in New York.

JONATHAN DIENST, REPORTER, WNBC, NEW YORK:  What did the mayor know, and when did he know it?  The issue is, what was discussed at these meetings?  There are records that appear to show that the mayor attended several meetings where Bernie Kerik‘s background was discussed.

GREGORY:  Giuliani has said he doesn‘t remember any 2000 briefing regarding Kerik‘s business ties.

In 2004, with the strong backing of Giuliani, President Bush nominated Kerik to run the Homeland Security Department.  Within a week, however, Kerik‘s nomination was derailed over his nanny‘s immigration status.

CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Bernie Kerik goes to the core of the nervousness of Republicans, and that is, who does Rudy surround himself with?

GREGORY:  Giuliani has expressed regret for recommending his friend to the president.

RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR:  Had a long career, long life, and I‘ve made mistakes, and I‘m sorry for them, and I try to learn from them.

GREGORY:  These new questions come as conservatives are already criticizing Giuliani‘s three marriages, and positions on social issues like abortion.

Another potential pitfall, the role of his wife, Judith Nathan.  Giuliani said this week she would be welcome at cabinet meetings were he the president.

(on camera):  Sitting on top of the polls, none of this has yet knocked Giuliani off his stride.  But it‘s a sign the frontrunner scrutiny has begun.

David Gregory, NBC News, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  He‘s often the victim of mispronunciation himself—Bean, Bone, Bine.  That did not stop House minority leader John Boehner from inflicting the same mistake on the Tuskegee Airmen.

And police chasing a stolen car that‘s towing a stolen boat get extra help from the guy from whom they were stolen.  Oh, yeah, the guy was in the boat.  An Oddball instant classic.

Ahead here on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  On this date in 1946, one of the greatest bowlers in Australian cricket history played his last match, but he remained a cricket writer and commentator until he was 87 years old.  They called him The Tiger, but his real name was Bill O‘Reilly.  Now you know why Murdoch gave the other one a job.

Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin in Florida, with scary video just released by the Seminole County Fire Department.  Its Allegiant Air (INAUDIBLE) -- Airline flight 758 landing in Sanford, Florida, yesterday.  The nose gear failed to deploy on the ND-80 (ph) jet, with 147 passengers aboard, forcing pilots to set down on the nose.  Fortunately, pilots train for this kind of stuff.  Pulled off a perfect landing, with emergency vehicles waiting at the end of the runway.  Although I‘m suspecting that made a pretty nasty noise inside the plane.  No one injured in the landing, all passengers got out safely through the exits by the wing.  Thank you for flying Allegiant.  Buh-bye.  Thank buh-bye.  Take care.  Buh-bye, now.

To Marion County, Tennessee, for the COUNTDOWN boat chase of the day.  Dashcam video from the Trenton police as they catch up with a stolen car pulling a fishing boat on a trailer.  Cops were alerted to the situation by the owner, Darvin (ph) York, who watched as a man stole the car from a highway rest stop.  He ran after it, he jumped into his boat, his cell phone in tow.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DARVIN YORK:  I‘m 59 northbound.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You‘re 59 northbound?

YORK:  I‘m sitting in (INAUDIBLE), I jumped in my boat, and I‘m going down I-59 toward Chattanooga.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  OK, where is your car?

YORK:  Some dude is driving it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And what are you driving?

YORK:  I‘m in the boat.  He‘s pulling my boat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh, you‘re in the boat?

YORK:  Yes.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Some dude is driving it.  Thanks to his call, police caught up with the car and pulled it over safely.  No one was injured.  The thief was arrested.  And Mr. York even managed to catch three trout during the chase.

If you feel underserved still in terms of weird video, strange creatures, and Internet superstars, nonporn, the voting results are in.  The Keithie Award winners are here tonight.  We‘re not sure kind of award category would suit Roger Ailes and his Fox Noise Channel.  Maybe we could use his latest tack and ask a poll question, say, Are they subversives, or are they un-American?

Those stories ahead.

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

Number three, the unnamed regular at O‘Charley‘s Restaurant in Bloomington, Indiana.  Four weeks ago Wednesday, this guy comes in, orders the rib eye and two drinks, got the bill for $25.96, and ran out the door without paying.  Three weeks ago Wednesday, rib eye, two drinks, dine and dash.  Two weeks ago, same thing.  Week ago, one more time.  Day before yesterday, finally they figured out there might be a pattern here.  When the same guy showed up, ordered the same food, and then ran out on the check, four employees and a cop were waiting for him.

Number two John Spernak of Stratford, Connecticut, undergoing psychiatric evaluation right now after leading police on a high-speed chase.  They caught him and asked him for his name, whereupon he revealed he was Vice President Dick Cheney.  Later, he admitted that was just an alias.  He wasn‘t really Cheney.  He said he was former Charlie‘s Angel Jaclyn Smith.

And number one, and this is a doozie, the National Invitation Basketball Tournament, saluting its new champions, West Virginia, with a commemorative T-shirt.  Except the manufacturer‘s Six Man Sportswear (ph) made a typo.  It does not say West Virginia.  They left out the second I.  That‘s right, it reads “West Virgina.”  West Virgina now moves on to face the University of South Carolina Gamecocks in the finals.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Questions often betray intentions as much as do answers.  If our third story on the countdown, what the FOX noise channel has now embraced is the tactic known as push polling, in which a political party tries to influence opinion with the question. 

FOX noise also wants to know in its latest poll whether its ploy to bring hard-charging, unrelenting bias to the Democratic primary debate has been uncovered.  This after the Democratic Party had recently canceled a Nevada debate that FOX was to host and cosponsor this August.

The notion had brought criticism from some Democrats, as well as organizations like MoveOn.org.  Now the Congressional Black Caucus Institute has agreed to co-sponsor with FOX both Democratic and Republican primary debates, dismissing disputes over ideology and incurring the disagreement of Jesse Jackson.

Thus to this most recent FOX noise/Opinion Dynamics poll, which asks the usual questions about the usual suspects, President Bush and Congress, for instance.  But then this almost buried, way down in question No.34.  Do you think a television network that is hosting a presidential debate can influence the outcome of that debate? 65 percent of respondents answered yes, 28 percent said no.  We can only guess if FOX noise executives are secretly pleased with that number.

Next poll question, if a political party agrees to participate in debates by one network but refuses another, is it fair to say that the party is believing the next it believes is more aligned with its views and so it asks easier questions during the debate? 66 percent said yes. 

But the response that is most predictable comes after the long, rabid setup in a long question No. 36 which ends with, do you think the Democratic Party should allow a grassroots organizations like MoveOn.org to take it over or it should resist this type of takeover?  Not surprisingly, a takeover sounded like a bad idea to most of the respondents.

Joining me now the host of the Rachel Maddow show on Air America, Rachel Maddow.  Thanks for your time tonight, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA:  Hi Keith, thanks for having me.

OLBERMAN:  With this polling ostensibly from a news organization, even though its FOX, has even FOX entered into new territory here?

MADDOW:  Well, FOX for all of its faults does reach millions of people on television and it seems a little desperate and weird that they would resort to using their poll to try to advance their message as well, but it seems like that‘s what they‘ve done.  This is a push poll, they‘re trying to get this message that they‘re trying to spread, this anti-Democratic message, anti-left message, across to their poll participants.

I think they are also doing a little bit of message testing here saying, if we go after MoveOn.org this way or Bill Clinton this way or some other typical left target for us this way, how will people respond to it?  I think it‘s just another way that they are testing their very specific, very narrowly ideological message. 

OLBERMANN:  So the complaints about FOX hosting this Democratic primary, the debates anyway, had been along these lines.  Why allow a virtual propaganda arm of the Republican Party to get yet another solid crack at Democrat under the guys, not only of news, but of a news event - granted, there are daily on-air examples of the agenda at FOX, but don‘t these poll questions somewhat ironically against that backdrop, sort of nail down the idea that there is bias in this coverage?

MADDOW:  Right.  If there is ever any doubt that FOX should not be legitimized as if it is a news organization, then let it be that they are using their polling arm even as a way of advancing a very narrowly ideological, anti-Democratic message.  I think that the Democratic Party is stupid to allow FOX to host its debates.  I really do.  I feel the like the Democratic Party, if it wants its candidates to get their message across, they‘d be better off having the candidates debates in mime or something.  Trying to do it on FOX - it‘s as if they‘re having the Republican Party host their debates.  It‘s just not a smart move.

OLBERMANN:  Do the poll questions show something about the network in question that the powers that be over there are taking this fight against some aspects of the Democratic Party seriously, that they no longer dismiss it as just the far left accusing them of being a propaganda machine?  That the anti-FOX righteous indignation has actually gotten some traction?

MADDOW:  I think that‘s actually the most interesting element of all of this.  I feel like for the past six months or so, we‘ve started to see a little bit of a tension arise at FOX and I almost feel like they might be ready.  They might be moving towards dropping the ruse, dropping the fa‡ade and admitting that they‘re not a normal news organization, admitting that they are in fact a mouthpiece for a specific ideological way of looking at the world - that they there and the reason for their being is to denounce non-Republicans as the cowards we are all. 

And you start to see some of this tension for example in Rupert Murdoch‘s public statements recently when he‘s admitted for example that FOX News did try to gin up support for the Iraq war.  I think that they might be moving toward putting quotation marks around the word “news” for example, in their name.  But they are not quite there yet and they do still have to do news-ish stuff, like trying to get to host debates.  I think it‘s an internal tension at FOX.

OLBERMANN:  And if that happens, 27 viewers around the country will just be shocked by that whole idea, but there are like 350 employees over there at FOX noise who would be shocked, and that‘s one of the curious things about it. 

But what I want to know is this—if you question looking at the motives of the party in the poll, is this trying to turn the thing on its head? In other words, if the party doesn‘t choose us, it‘s because of its own bias or the bias of those other networks.  It‘s nor because of a bias at FOX News.  That‘s a fascinating bit of rationalization, isn‘t it?

MADDOW:  Right and they are trying to say there‘s something wrong with the Democratic Party that they wouldn‘t want to appear on FOX.  That was really the right wing talking point when the Democrats initially called off that first Nevada debate that was supposed to be hosted by FOX.  Oh, there‘s something wrong with the Democratic Party that they won‘t do this.  Well you know, when the FOX noise channel has in the pat hosted Democratic debates, they‘ve done things like banners above the Democratic candidate that say Democrat candidate debates.  All but put up a giant inflatable rat next to them.  It‘s FOX that is the problem here, not the Democratic Party.  But this is a push poll and they are trying to create that impression with the polling.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, Question No. 49 which they did not run was are the Democrats showing bias by not nominating Hugo Chavez?  Rachel Maddow, the host of the Rachel Maddow Show on Air America.  As always, great, thanks for joining us.

MADDOW:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The honor was long overdue, yet even as the Tuskegee airmen finally receive their congressional medals of honor, they were dissed again by the House minority leader who never bought “Hooked on Phonics.”

Also, you the voters, have spoken.  Polls are now closed and soon we will finally be able to reveal the winners of the first annual Keithie Awards.  What do you mean Sanjaya won?  It‘s all ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  To my experience, if you grow up with an easily misspelled name, like say Olbermann, you tend to compensate by becoming an annoyingly good speller.  If you grow up with an easily mispronounced name, like say Olbermann, you tend to compensate by becoming an enormously good pronouncer.

However in our No. 2 story in the countdown, this apparently does not extend to the Republican congressman from Ohio, John Boehner.  Mr. B-O-E-H-N-E-R participated in yesterday‘s celebration of the famed Tuskegee airmen, the graduates of the only flight school which admitted African Americans during World War II.

T-U-S-K-E-G-E-E, Tuskegee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, OHIO:  The Tuskegee airmen are a living example of the most basic American values. In December of 1941, just four months after the first cadets arrived at Tuskegee Army airfield, the world was at war.  The Tuskegee airmen showed America and the world the stuff that they were made of.  And by the end of the war, the PF-51s of the Tuskegee airmen ruled the skies of Europe.  The Tuskegee airmen were the leading edge of the social revolution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Gee-whiz, thank you Congressman Boey, Boey, Bone.  Next to the podium, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky who wins the pronunciation bee and earns the resultant applause. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, KENTUCKY:  The president, members of congress, Tuskegee airmen - (APPLAUSE). 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Tonight we begin our nightly round up of celebrity and tabloid news, keeping tabs with word of peace talks that could give hopes to diplomats around the globe. 

Britney Spears and soon to be ex-husband Kevin Federline have finally reached an agreement on the terms of their divorce.  The Web site TMZ.com reporting that Federline will walk away with $1 million.  Legal observers note that‘s actually less than many others would pay him to walk away. 

The ex-couple will also split custody of their kids 50-50, even though both of them objected that they only have two kids.  A judge is expected to sign off on the divorce any minute now, clearing the landing strip for Britney‘s next ex-future husband.  No word on who gets custody of the Cheetos and the Slim Jims. 

The winners are in though in our first annual best of the stuff we found on the Internet awards.  The Keithie Show ahead.

First, time for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for worst person in the world.  Nabronz Denora Vazquez (ph) of Antioch, California.  Many mothers teach responsibility to their kids by making them to do errands.  Not exactly what Ms. Vazquez did.  Her errand for her seven and nine-year-old daughter - see that dog over there on the lawn?  The Chihuahua/Pekinese mix? Steal it.  She‘s under arrest, the kids are with relatives. 

Our runner up, Michael Weiner Savage (ph), now explaining that everything wrong at the moment owes to a ratful deity.  Quoting God, Savage says, “I‘m going to show you I exist in a way that you can‘t believe.  Down came the World Trade Center towers, that was God speaking.”  See, first you said that was the Democrats fault, then you blamed the entire Muslim religion, and now you‘re God‘s voicemail.  Do you want to pick just one psychotic delusion and stick to it, Mike?

Speaking of, our winner tonight, Glenn Beck of CNN and ABC still obsessed with the voice of Senator Clinton.  Two weeks ago, he said it made her the, quote, “stereotypical bitch.”  Now it‘s quoting, again, “Hillary‘s voice makes angels cry, they do.  I agreed with everything she said, but I just want to kill myself.”

Glenn Beck, today‘s worst person in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Thank you.  I‘m truly humbled.  When I was but a boy, I dreamed of one day hosting an award show such as this one.  Uma, Oprah, Oprah, Uma.  It‘s the moment we‘ve been waiting for.  Me, because it means it‘s going to be over soon.  The uber, if not Uma moment, the No.1 story on the countdown, the Keithies.

First annual best of stuff we found on the Internets awards.  We have previously confessed inspiration from the YouTube awards.  God knows if that tube can hand out awards already, then we can do it here and now.  Besides after all of the resources, COUNTDOWN has committed to serving in search of viral video diamonds, it seems only fair.

And for our winners, at last an accolade second to none.  So without further fanfare, let‘s get to the awards.  And there‘s the fanfare.  The first category, great animal of all the Internets, and the nominees are.

(VIDEO CLIP OF ANIMALS ON INTERNET)

OLBERMANN:  Noble beasts all.  And now to the winner of the first annual award for greatest animal in all the Internets, there it is, the Keithie goes to, oh, I can‘t believe it.  The winner is Pinky.  Pinky the cat, come on down, Pinky. 

(VIDEO CLIP OF PINKY THE CAT)

OLBERMANN:  Ahh, Pinky, we‘re sure you were finally adopted by a loving family.  Unfortunately, the officer now can‘t have a family.  Turning to our next Keithie category, it‘s everyday idiots.  And the nominees are.

(VIDEO CLIP OF HUMAN STUNTS)

OLBERMANN:  It‘s funny because it‘s not my car.  And the Keithie in this category goes to—I bet they are the ones laughing now, yes, it‘s dude, where‘s my bumper?

(VIDEO CLIP OF WINNER)

OLBERMANN:  Now turning to everyone‘s favorite category until they hear the caveat, Internet superstars, non-porn.  And the nominees are.

(VIDEO CLIP OF INTERNET SUPERSTARS)

OLBERMANN:  That was not, we repeat not, Silvio Berluscone, please do not sue.

And the Keithie goes to Carson City Council best actress. 

(VIDEO CLIP OF INTERNET SUPERSTAR)

OLBERMANN:  Well, Reagan and Schwarzenegger made it from acting to politics.  Why not?

Turning to our final Keithie category, stuff you missed on the TVs that the Internets made famous and these nominees are.

(VIDEO CLIP OF TV STUFF)

OLBERMANN:  Don‘t worry, ye who are faint of heart.  I‘m sure that guy‘s sword is just fine now.  And our last Keithie goes to.  Give me a second.  Ahh, it‘s Bill O and Jack Mehoffer.

(VIDEO CLIP OF FOX NEWS)

OLBERMANN:  And the beef with Jack.  There you have it.  The culmination of our first annual, the best of the stuff we found on the Internets awards.  Thanks to the thousands of you who voted and all our nominees for bringing such video goodness into our lives.  And of course to YouTube, for having the idea that we totally stole for these awards. 

That is COUNTDOWN for this, the1,447th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

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

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Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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