updated 5/30/2007 12:29:42 PM ET 2007-05-30T16:29:42

Guests: Jonathan Alter, Craig Crawford, P.J. Crowley

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

The president endorses the newest blank check.  Two-thirds of the nation says Iraq is going badly.  Six in 10 of us believe we should never have gone there.  But he‘s happy.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I applaud the bipartisan effort to get a emergency supplemental bill to my desk.  Speaker and the leader said they would get it done by Memorial Day recess, and they have.


OLBERMANN:  And the Democratic presidential hopefuls who said they would get getting-out done.  Biden votes yes, Dodd no, Clinton no, Obama no, Kucinich no.  But enough Democrats follow the leader.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER:  Senate Democrats will never give in.  Never give in, never, never, never.


OLBERMANN:  Well, never again.

Never again would we ignore intelligence about aggression, said the president after 9/11.  So why did he ignore the CIA report just revealed today?  It‘s predictions from January 2003 about a post-Saddam Iraq, internal sectarian violence.  That right.  Extraordinary difficulty establishing a democracy.  Yep.  And the terrorists would rush in and use Iraq as a base.  Uh-huh.

But Mr. Bush knew better.

Angelina Jolie interview on playing the widow of the reporter murdered in Pakistan, Daniel Pearl.

Ratings up by 17 percent brought relevancy to a ditsy daytime chat show.  Even Donald Trump tepidly sided with her in the war debate with Elisabeth Humperdinck whatever.  So naturally, this was Rosie O‘Donnell‘s last day on “THE VIEW.”

And the last day of “American Idol” was Wednesday.  But thank goodness we have the memories.


OLBERMANN:  Do you get a charge out of this?  What‘s wrong with you?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why did she get a chill down in the pools?

OLBERMANN:  She‘s an effing plant.


OLBERMANN:  All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing):  Don‘t you want a boyfriend that‘s freak like me?


OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

This weekend, President Bush will mark his sixth Memorial Day as a wartime president, this nation to mark the more than 3,400 Americans who have been killed for his war in Iraq.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, any talk of supporting the 162,000 troops still serving in Iraq by bringing them home is on indefinite hold with tonight‘s signing of the war funding bill by the president, Mr. Bush putting his John Hancock on the measure in private, in the confines of Camp David, Congress having rushed to get the measure to his desk before the holiday weekend, and Mr.  Bush not waiting around to actually receive it.


BUSH:  Of course, I applaud the bipartisan effort to get a emergency supplemental bill to my desk.  The speaker at the leader said they would get it done by Memorial Day recess, and they have, and I appreciate that very much.

You know, this effort shows what can happen when people work together.  We said a good bill that didn‘t have timetables or tell the military how to do its job, but also sent a clear signal to the Iraqis that there‘s expectations here in America, expectations that we expect—about how to move forward.  I look forward to continuing to work with the prime minister and his government in meeting those expectations.


OLBERMANN:  Of course, if the Iraqi government happens to fail to meet those expectations, as it has in the past and continues to, Mr. Bush gets to ignore any expectations.  The vote that gave Mr. Bush his latest blank check the result of what “The Washington Post” notes is a historical rarity, the passage of a bill opposed by the speaker of the House and a majority of the speaker‘s party, Speaker Pelosi herself comparing the legislation to a Rorschach test, her fellow lawmakers seeing what they want to see.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER:  So when I look at this inkblot, I see something that does not have adequate guidelines and timetables, something that does not have adequate consequences, and something that does not have my support.


OLBERMANN:  In the Senate, support of the Democratic leadership not a problem.  Amazingly, the 16 senators who voted against going to war to begin with in 2002, 11 of them voting last night to keep the war going.

Dick Durbin of Illinois, the number two Democrat in the Senate, was among them.


REP. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS:  Though I loathe this decision to go to war, I will not take my feelings out on the troops that are in the field.  I will continue to provide the resources they need to be trained and equipped and rested and ready to go into battle and to come home safely.  The debate will continue over this policy, but our soldiers should never be bargaining chips in this political debate.


OLBERMANN:  That ship sure sailed.

The top Democrat in the Senate, as we noted last night, paraphrasing Winston Churchill in his remarks, many wondering if perhaps Neville Chamberlain might have been more appropriate.


REID:  Senate Democrats will never give in.  Never give in, never, never, never.


OLBERMANN:  Except this time.

And because one time simply isn‘t enough, a second viewing on a second straight night of minority leader John Boehner‘s inexplicable crying jag.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, MINORITY LEADER:  And I think the top of our list is providing for the safety and security of the American people.  That‘s at the top of our list.  After 3,000 of our fellow citizens died at the hands of these terrorists, when are we going to stand up and take them on?


OLBERMANN:  Those 3,000-plus of our fellow citizens who died in Iraq evidently not factoring into Mr. Boehner‘s equations.  And that gets scarier with each successive viewing.

Perhaps the politicians themselves should be scared, a new poll from “The New York Times” showing that on Iraq, Democrats, Republicans, and the White House could be seriously misreading the mood of the American public, now viewing the war in Iraq more negatively than at any time since the invasion, 61 percent saying the U.S. should have stayed out, 76 percent believing things are going badly there now, the one caveat, 69 percent saying Congress should allow funding on the condition the Iraqi government meets benchmarks for progress, something the president might keep in mind should he decide to exercise his option to waive those benchmarks.

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

Jon, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  Why such secrecy, or at least out of the public eye, for the signing of this war funding bill?  One would think maybe Mr. Bush would have held a parade for it.

ALTER:  Well, at some level, I think he knows that he‘s signing the death warrants of young men and women.  This war is going to continue.  The policy has failed.  He knows it‘s failing.  And he‘s taking one last stab at it with the surge.  And he‘s doubling down.  And I think he recognizes that it‘s deeply unpopular with the American people.

OLBERMANN:  On the other side of the equation, the mixed-message front, the Democrats in Congress now trying to spin this bill.  The war funding is merely their first step in a strategy that will have them voting repeatedly on whether U.S. troops should stay in Iraq, whether Bush has the authority to continue the war.  But have they explained how they plan to prevent future vetoes and future friction and future caving about future legislation?

ALTER:  Well, you know, this capitulation by the Democrats was something that in some ways was unavoidable.  A lot of liberal Democrats are going to, Why didn‘t they stand up?  They didn‘t have the votes.  They needed 67 votes to override the veto in the Senate, and they didn‘t have it.  And they didn‘t even have the votes in the Senate to resubmit the bill that was vetoed on May 1.

So they‘re—they don‘t—not holding the high cards in our system, Keith.  The president‘s veto pen is what‘s decisive here.  They do have other opportunities, however, that are coming up quite soon to show that they are against the war.

For instance, there‘s a Defense Department funding bill that‘s going to come up in July, and some Democrats in the leadership have told me that they are going to move to cut funding for Guantanamo Bay, and that they anticipate that they‘ll be successful in doing that and will have enough Republicans supporting them—John McCain, for instance, supports closing Guantanamo—that they can accomplish that.

So they see this as a series of ratcheting up the pressure on the administration‘s policy, and that what happened this week was a disagreement among the Democrats over tactics, over how to respond, but not on principle.

OLBERMANN:  And the September song element to this, the gamble that September, when this current funding runs out and General Petraeus is supposed to give this progress report, will be another, perhaps the most significant of the moments of truth.  But the administration has consistently run right through these deadlines and these reckoning times.  Why is there any expectation that the administration won‘t just do the same thing in September?

ALTER:  I think that‘s an excellent point, and I‘m sure that General Petraeus will say in September, Look, we were making progress, we just got here over the summer, things are going better.  To quote what they said during the Vietnam War, there‘s light at the end of the tunnel.  And we‘re going to be back in this position in September.

But maybe, over the course of the summer, the politics of this will change, and the Democrats might be holding more cards come September.  But I think it‘s kind of silly for the Democrats to be at each other on this particular issue right now, when this is Bush‘s war, and he is going to be held accountable for it eventually, if not this year, then by history.

OLBERMANN:  Lastly, those poll numbers, and nine more U.S. troops dead confirmed by the military in Iraq today, and the president warning it could be a bloody summer.  Is there a, is there another tipping point ahead in terms of American public backlash, purely in terms of casualties and fatalities?  Is that something that we may be seeing in the next few months influencing what happens towards the end of the summer?

ALTER:  I think it very well could be.  Remember, the brigades that were part of this surge, it takes them awhile to deploy in country.  So after they all arrive at the beginning of the summer, there will no longer be the excuse that, Hey, the surge hasn‘t been implemented yet.  If the surge is implemented, and it‘s still not working by this fall, then I think you could see the politics on this start to change.

OLBERMANN:  Jonathan Alter of “Newsweek” and MSNBC.  Great thanks, Jon.  Have a great weekend.

ALTER:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The war funding vote is also sharpening the differences between the parties and the candidates in the presidential campaign, the no votes by Senators Obama and Clinton bringing praise from the Democrats, stark attacks from their potential right-wing opponents, Senator McCain characterizing their votes as, quote, “the equivalent of waving a white flag to al Qaeda,” Governor Romney calling them unrealistic and inexperienced, “voting against our troops in a time of war,” Obama responding, accusing his fellow senators of, quote, “still supporting a war that resulted in a resurgence of al Qaeda.  It is time to end this war.”

MSNBC political analyst Craig Crawford seems today, as always, to be the go-to guy, since his latest book is “The Politics of Life: 25 Rules for Survival in a Brutal and Manipulative World.”

Good evening, Craig.

CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY”:  Only, only 48 cents per rule, at Amazon prices.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, there you go.

First of all, you wrote today that the president and his party, faced with nothing but bad news from Iraq, bad polls, still managing to roll the Democrats.  He keeps insisting on what he wants and eventually gets, gets what he wants.  What is, what are the conclusions to be drawn about the Democrats right now?

CRAWFORD:  Yes, I mean, how does an unpopular president maintain and unpopular war with unlimited resources and no end in sight?  The Democrats still backed out.  I mean, what happened to Democrats is the donkey.  They weren‘t just (INAUDIBLE) the president‘s the stubborn one here.  I, essentially it‘s what you heard in some of those clips you just played, Democrats worried they lost to the spin on the whole argument about supporting the troops.  The Republicans are maintaining that it, without this funding, that you‘re not supporting the troops.

Somehow, this has gotten spun, if you want to bring the troops home or get them out of a civil war, somebody else‘s civil war, you‘re the one not supporting the troops.  (INAUDIBLE) essentially, I would say, Keith, the Democrats just could not spin the truth.  Sometimes you can‘t even spin the truth.

OLBERMANN:  Or they thought, yes, they thought they couldn‘t do it.  The head of the group MoveOn.org, which would be the extreme left here, said the stand taken by Clinton by Obama, Chris Dodd, can‘t leave Kucinich out of this in the House, won‘t be forgotten.  Certainly it‘s not going to be forgotten by the people who make the campaign ads for Republicans.  But in terms of right-wing backlash, did any of these people really risk anything in voting no?  I mean, would they not have been bashed in some similar manner for something else, even if they had voted yes yesterday?

CRAWFORD:  Oh, absolutely.  What this does open up, though, I would say, for Senator Clinton is, and this, we won‘t hear these things until the general election, is none of the other Democrats running are going to make these cases, that‘s why these things are always kind of a surprise when the other party starts bashing the other, the opposing party‘s nominee, well, so many times you haven‘t heard these things, (INAUDIBLE) come up in the primaries.

And in Senator Clinton‘s case, she is going to be open to the charge of what John Kerry faced of, first I voted for it, then I voted against it, and the flip-flop, but maybe that‘s a tired old clich’ by then.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, I think a lot of Americans who supported this war initially did pretty much exactly the same thing.

CRAWFORD:  That‘s true.

OLBERMANN:  That might be pointed out in her defense.  But then there is, obviously, the problem of the comparison of her timeline to Senator Obama, who‘s now demanding a new strategy.  Senator Clinton says she wants to compel the president to offer a new strategy.  Did she have any choice but to vote no, knowing that he was going to vote no yesterday?

CRAWFORD:  No, they‘re both playing, all Democrats are playing for that antiwar vote in the Democratic primaries.  That is probably going to be the central question for a lot of voters.  And those are the activist voters who will get out and vote in these, in these primaries.  And we shouldn‘t forget John Edwards, who‘s going to use this weekend with a lot of events, John Edwards trying to become the Robert F. Kennedy of, who was the great icon against the Vietnam War, in this campaign.  And I‘ll be interested to see if he can pull that off, but he‘s making a hard play for it this weekend.

OLBERMANN:  Lastly, speaking of weekends, there‘s a poll that asks which candidate you‘d most like to have at your Memorial Day picnic.  The winners were Giuliani and Obama ahead of McCain and Clinton.  Is that a partying thing?  Is it a reputation who‘s good at a grill?  What, what is that?

CRAWFORD:  Well, you know, I think Senator Clinton tends to win differently worded questions.  It would be the most interesting person to meet.  But generally, when these questions are asked about who you want to hang out with over a hot dog, it‘s not the ones she wins.  And it‘s a popularity test, and popularity matters in these campaign.

It just goes to show, she‘s got a ways to go to be—to warm up to voters.

OLBERMANN:  Maybe a chef‘s hat.

Craig Crawford of MSNBC and “Congressional Quarterly,” a bargain at twice the price.

CRAWFORD:  You got it.

OLBERMANN:  Thanks, Craig.

CRAWFORD:  Thanks.

OLBERMANN:  The president claims he‘s credible on Iraq because he reads the intelligence.  Funny doggone thing that he missed the CIA predictions about Iraq from January 2003 about how the war would strengthen al Qaeda.

And daytime drama.  For the second time in less than a year, a “VIEW” co-host exits before her scheduled time.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN:  President Bush yesterday insisted he is a credible messenger on the war because he reads the intelligence.

That answer rendered obscenely ironic today in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, the Senate Intelligence Committee releasing two reports from the National Intelligence Council, both given to the White House in January 2003, both having predicted virtually everything that did go wrong would go wrong, meaning President Bush knew two months before he invaded that he might very well create what he says now is America‘s greatest threat, Al Qaeda in Iraq, and that he would spur, rather than discourage, WMD programs in other countries, the reports represented as assessments of the entire intelligence community, both warning of (INAUDIBLE), both warning of drawn-out factional violence in Iraq, but both also including multiple warnings that Mr. Bush failed to share with the American public as we contemplated war, many of which refute his arguments then and since about the value of his war, specifically, that it would increase global support for Islamic terrorists and militant Islamic groups seeking political power.

It would lead al Qaeda to accelerate anti-U.S. operations.  It would help al Qaeda recover in Afghanistan.  It would give al Qaeda new allies around the world, including Iraq.  It would enable Iran to expand its influence in the region and improve relations with Syria, and, rather than discourage hostile regimes from seeking WMD, quote, “States with developmental WMD programs would try to increase the secrecy and pace of those programs with the hope of developing deterrent capabilities before they could be preempted.”

And despite Mr. Bush‘s promise that a free Iraq will spur regional democracy, the report also told the White House specifically that Iraq probably would not by itself be a catalyst for regional change.  Its value as an example, quote, “would depend heavily on U.S. success in ensuring that a new Iraqi government was not seen in the region as primarily a U.S.  creation.”

Let‘s turn now to P.J. Crowley, who served as special assistant to President Clinton on national security affairs, and is now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

P.J., Thanks for some of your time tonight.


OLBERMANN:  It‘s not merely that this report warned about exactly the things that have come to pass, sectarian violence, terrorist co-opting of the political schisms in Iraq, but it also suggests—suggested ways to mitigate these things, utilize the lower ranks in Iraq‘s army and engage with Iran.  This is intelligence.  Could this just have been overlooked, or did it have to have been deliberately ignored?

CROWLEY:  Well, remember that these guys expected a cakewalk, so they discounted both the available intelligence and also they discounted the need for planning of the postinvasion phase of the operation.  And as you say, the two big winners, as we sit here right now, because of the decision to go to Iraq, one is al Qaeda, and the other is Iran.

OLBERMANN:  And looking forward to what the president is saying now, what he said yesterday at the news conference about the future, these 2003 forecasts were right, are right.  What does that mean for Mr. Bush‘s claims about what the war‘s benefits will still ultimately be?

CROWLEY:  Well, the president may well be talking about victory, but I

think they are dramatically scaling back what that means.  Rather than a

transformed Middle East, I think they‘ll be very happy if, when we depart

Iraq sooner or later, it‘s a live, breathing, and barely functional.  So I

while they will be talking the good game, we all obviously have the benchmarks, we have the surge results that will come in in September.

But I think largely we have lost the ability to influence events in Iraq.  Heck, we‘ll be hard-pressed to actually get the parliament just to remain in session during the summer, much less pass the legislation necessary to begin a meaningful reconciliation process.

OLBERMANN:  As these advertised advantages continue to fall away, the president is left with, and continues to use, the terrorism scale—scare, used references to al Qaeda 19 times yesterday.  And he uses the example of Iraq democracy.  But he, but was he not warned in this, these documents four years ago that a lengthy war and a lengthy presence in Iraq would make those very promised outcomes that much less likely?

CROWLEY:  Well, he was warned that.  But you got to remember, the infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech on May 1 was the trigger for a very significant and expected reduction of forces, because they thought once they knocked off Saddam, the rest of Iraq would be self-ordering.  And obviously we know, tragically, that‘s not true.

There were a number of outcomes that they stated were the objectives for the mission, but they said WMD, but we didn‘t secure the weapons sites.  They said democracy, but we excluded the experts from the State Department who actually do nation building.  They said terrorism, but they didn‘t seal the border so that we would prevent the infiltration of al Qaeda into Iraq, as has happened.

We‘re left with Saddam Hussein, that‘s the one thing they got right, but it was obvious—it‘s obviously, as the president said, a catastrophic success.

OLBERMANN:  The occasion of the Memorial Day weekend is especially a somber one even to ask this question, but is there a way to estimate how many lives were lost, how many just American families suffered, because these CIA forecasts were ignored by the president and the warmongers who were around him?

CROWLEY:  I mean, tragically, we—these are quantifiable things.  We‘re coming up on 3,500 service members killed, more than 25,000 service members seriously wounded.  You know, the Iraqis themselves lose that amount in a month.  They‘ve suffered more than 100,000 casualties since we invaded four years ago.

As the Iraq Study Group said, this will cost $1 to $2 trillion before all is said and done.  Remember, Larry Lindsey was fired for saying it would cost $200 billion.  So at the end of this, not only have we not succeeded, nor have we not achieved our objectives, but as the president acknowledged this week in a speech at the Coast Guard Academy, we have actually now face a much more foreboding threat largely of our own making.

OLBERMANN:  P.J. Crowley of the Center for American Progress.  As always, great thanks for joining us.

CROWLEY:  A pleasure, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The presidential stumbles continue as he insists that al Qaeda is a threat to a reporter‘s children, only it turns out that reporter doesn‘t have any children.

And it‘s the size of a credit card and as thin as paper.  It‘s a television and a Kleenex.



OLBERMANN:  On this date in 1919 was born the legendary voice of Notre Dame football and the New York Mets and a lot else, Lindsey Nelson.  The lot else included a collection of extraordinarily garish sports coats.  When the Mets were touring Japan after the 1974 season, Nelson took a detour to Hong Kong and, seeing a dazzling multicolored checked pattern hanging in a tailor‘s shop window, he was surprised to have to convince the man to make him a suit out of the material.  Only when it arrived at his home weeks later did Nelson understand the tailor‘s reluctance.  What he saw hanging in the shop window was the guy‘s drapes.  He‘d bought a suit made out of curtains.

On that note, let‘s play Oddball.

We begin in Hearst (ph), Texas, with a brazen criminal act caught on tape.  It all went down at the grocery store over on Grapevine Highway.  An elderly woman makes a purchase at the deli, then walks away, accidentally leaving her coin purse with almost $800 in it sitting on the counter.  And that‘s when the criminal struck.  Moments after the woman walked away, a hoodlum on a motorized scooter rolls onto the scene, snatches the coin purse, then tears ass out the front door.

Police have no leads.  And I ask again, how long must we good and decent citizens live in fear of these common street thugs before we stand up and do something about it?  Is this a town of cowards?

To the Internets where we find this gem from Oslo.  It‘s Norwegian singer—and we use that term loosely—Mira Craig (ph) learning that the key element in a successful stage dive is that somebody is there to catch you.  OK, we added those cricket sound affects, obviously, but how long were they supposed to just stand there.  If you‘re a backup dancer, I think you have to have a plan B for these situations.  Help a sister out. 

The singer reportedly broke her leg in the fall, but this was some time ago, so she‘s back up and around, barking at cars again, as you heard. 

Finally in Oddball techno news, we have the coolest new gadget of the week from Sony.  It‘s a two and a half inch bendable TV.  The panel is made of plastic film and an organic plasma screen.  It is perfect for strapping to your arm to watch TV when you go jogging, provided you don‘t mind jogging face first into a tree. 

Of course, if you want to watch anything decent, you will need to carry around a full-size cable box on your back.  But those things are only like 15, 20 pounds tops. 

It‘s being hailed as one of the strongest performances of her career, but there‘s at least one big problem with Angelina Jolie‘s new movie about Marianne Pearl. 

And the new season of “American Idol” gets under way tonight.  No, actually, we‘re rehashing the old season.  I just wanted to test to see if you were still listening.  All that ahead.  But first here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three news makers of this day. 

Number three, President Bush; you recall at the second of the two times at his news conference yesterday when he specifically referred to terrorist threats against the families of reporters, David Gregory‘s as the first.  Then he said to Jim Rutenberg of the “New York Times,” quote, it‘s a danger to your children, Jim.  Our pal, Dana Milbank offers this tid bit today, Jim Rutenberg doesn‘t have any children.  He does have a dog named Little Bear.  It‘s a threat to your dog, Jim.

Number two, Philip Stewart Martin, self-arresting bank robber.  Allegedly held up First Financial in Stevenville, Texas then told the teller to forget it, and she should call the cops.  He said she could tell them he‘d be outside waiting on the curb so they could arrest him. 

Number one, James Randy Moss, fired as a Tennessee State trooper after he allegedly accepted sex from a pornographic actress in exchange for not filing charging drug possession charges against her.  She blogged about it, including the part where she recounts, quote, I tell him I make dirty movies.  He says he wished he had gotten into that industry. 

Well, officer Moss, here‘s your chance.


OLBERMANN:  Hollywood has been in the illusion business since the first roll of film in the first movie was still in the development lab.  Its excellence at that is shown again in the new Angelina Jolie movie, “A Mighty Heart,” the story of Marianne Pearl, the widow of the “Wall Street Journal” reporter kidnapped and killed by terrorists in Pakistan.  Our third story tonight, Looming behind what is apparently an otherwise sensitive and compelling film is a fact deemed rather uncomfortable in many communities, that the real life Marieanne Pearl is a woman of color and Angelina Jolie is not. 

Angelina Jolie with “The Today Show‘s” Anne Curry. 


ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS:  First, I want to say Marianne is probably one of the most courageous people I have ever met.  And she is—at a time when so much ugliness and hate came into her life and attacked her family, while she‘s pregnant with her baby, and killed the father of her child and her husband, she managed somehow to be able to do an interview days after say I love Pakistan.  I love these people.  They are great people.  I have friends here.

ANNE CURRY, “THE TODAY SHOW”:  To play her was not easy.  To play her at this time in her life is not easy.

JOLIE:  It was—I‘ve played real people before, but I never knew them.  I had gotten to know her and gotten to know their son.  And the thought that he would see this one day and that I—it was my responsibility to not just show the world, but also show him how much his mother loved his father and how much they loved each other, and how they handled this time was something that haunted me. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m sorry.  I don‘t understand your point. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why did your husband have to meet with these people? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He‘s a journalist. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t think this is the business of a journalist? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Forgive me for correcting you, but it is absolutely the business of a journalist. 

CURRY:  Interesting to have you be in a movie that honors journalists for bravery, makes them heroic in some ways, given the other side of the kind of paparazzi world that surround you. 

JOLIE:  I think you see both sides in the film.  And I do think there is a line.  I think I‘ve gotten upset with certain journalism or focused on silliness in tabloids more for just the focus on something as silly.  I love great journalism.  I appreciate it.  I love good news stories.  I love great books.  I love great articles.  I appreciate them so much.  They‘re my education. 

CURRY:  In the Marianne is surrounded by paparazzi.  It‘s hard not to notice that this was something that you, yourself, have experienced and must know how to play. 

JOLIE:  I think it was very different.  I had never gone through what she had gone through.  As much as I know what a flash bulb is in a car, I don‘t know what it‘s like to have—you know, have lost my husband and somebody do that to me.  So it‘s very different.  It‘s very different.  And I just felt that much more sad for somebody who is not used to it and would have to go through something so painful and then have to deal with that.  So, I can only imagine, but I really wouldn‘t compare us, because that is such a difficult situation.

CURRY:  Well here‘s the thing, I think most people have a hard time understanding how you can possibly deal with this spotlight you‘re under.  I mean, just to do this interview, I‘m told somebody was trying to climb the fence just to be involved in doing this interview.  People want to interview me.  I don‘t understand this crazy world you‘re in. 

I only dip into it for a few minute and dip out and think how do you even handle this?  It‘s crazy, Angelina. 

JOLIE:  You‘re making me feel very uncomfortable.

CURRY:  I‘m sorry. 


CURRY:  There‘s so much intensity involving you, and I—

JOLIE:  I take my kids to school.  And if I go for work, I go to work.  They visit with me on set.  I come home.  I have dinner with my family.  I have breakfast with my family.  I have a very solid, very warm home.  I‘m very fortunate. 

CURRY:  You know, my impression is that you don‘t think about that and you‘re so not in that area, because you‘re so focused on living an authentic life, living a youthful life.  And so this effort, which has been constant in your—ever since I‘ve met you, constant in you, where has it led you Angelina? 

JOLIE:  Where am I at in my life?  I don‘t—I mean, I‘ve—I‘ve had a—this has been a heavy year in losing my mom and having a fourth child and you know.  I‘m very aware of time and of memories and of enjoying life.  Not just doing the right thing and being a youthful person, which I certainly want to be and to believe that I am.  I want to be a great mom like my mom was.  And I want to also do the things I love. 

I am at a strange place in my life.  I think that happens when you lose a parent, where you drop into a different kind of serious.  And yet, at the same time, you want to enjoy and laugh as much as possible every day.  But I‘m holding on to my family really tight at this moment because of that.  And trying to be as good a woman as I can be in my life.  That‘s where—yes. 

CURRY:  It‘s hard to feel when they leave us.  It‘s hard to remember that they don‘t really—

JOLIE:  Damn it, you‘ve got me crying. 

CURRY:  I don‘t mean to make you cry.  I‘m sorry. 

JOLIE:  No, no, it‘s all right.  It‘s a part of life, and it‘s a really—but then we talk about a film like this, and, you know, I lost my mom.  It‘s a natural thing for a child to lose a parent.  I lost my mom too young, but it happened and I‘m she‘s out of pain, because I love her and she‘s my friend. 

Marianne lost her husband in a way that is not natural and it is unfair.  And that is—that, in comparison, the thought of that, I think, you know—there‘s really nothing to say about it, it‘s just something to remember. 


OLBERMANN:  The rumors on “The View” finally confirmed tonight, Ro Ro is done-so (sic), effective immediately.  And followers of the force rejoice, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Star Wars with a—a convention.  Wow, you never see one of those.  That‘s ahead.  This is COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Perhaps it was inevitable, when even Donald Trump seemed to back Rosie O‘Donnell in her on air war debate over the war with Elizabeth Hasselbeck.  You might have sensed she would not even finish out her lame duck status on “The View.”  In our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, that shoe dropped today.  Only three weeks remain before the scheduled end of Ms. O‘Donnell‘s tumultuous but stunningly successful tenure on the program, during which ratings went up about 17 percent and the relevancy of the matters discussed went up about 450 percent.

O‘Donnell‘s early departure announced today.  The president of Disney, ABC Daytime saying in a statement that, quote, Rosie has informed us that she would like an early leave.  And cue the warm and fuzzy fair wells.  The show‘s creator, Barbara Walters, said that, quote, “Rosie contributed to one of the most exciting and successful years.  Our close and affectionate relationship will not change.”

Sorry, it was unavoidable.  Miss O‘Donnell said in a statement, quote, I‘m extremely grateful.  It‘s been an amazing year and I love all three women.  But O‘Donnell‘s frustration over how she was being portrayed, and not just by conservatives on other shows, was clear. 


ELIZABETH HASSELBACK, “THE VIEW”:  They‘re your thoughts.  Defend your own insinuations. 

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, “THE VIEW”:  I defend my thoughts. 

HASSELBACK:  Defend your own thoughts. 

O‘DONNELL:  Right, but every time I defend them, it‘s poor little Elizabeth that I‘m picking on. 

HASSELBACK:  You know what, poor little Elizabeth is not poor little Elizabeth. 

ROSIE:  That‘s why I‘m not going to fight with you anymore because it‘s absurd.  So for three weeks you can say all the Republican crap you want.  I‘m not going to do it.

HASSELBACK:  It‘s much easier to fight someone like Donald Trump, isn‘t it.  Because he‘s obnoxious. 

O‘DONNELL:  I‘ve never fought him.  I asked you if believed what the Republican pundits were saying.  You said nothing and that is cowardly.  

HASSELBACK:  No, no no. 


OLBERMANN:  From View wars to “Star Wars” and to our nightly round up of celebrity and entertainment news, keeping tabs.  And the baffo celebration for that film‘s 30th anniversary.  More than 20,000 fans are expected at the “Star War”s convention this weekend in Los Angeles.  The first film in the series premiered 30 years ago today.  The multi-media event will feature some of the actors from all six of the films, including Princess Leah, also known as Carrie Fisher. 

More importantly, for fans who want to dress up, here‘s a rare chance to do so.  Luke, I am your father.  You know, you hear that a lot.  of course, at a retrospective like this, even the background players are honored. 

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Sandman, send me a dream.  As for the real actors, one of them is calling it quits.  Paul Newman, at the age of 82 no less.  Mr Newman saying in an interview that, quote, I am not able to work anymore as an actor at the level I would want to.  You start to lose your memory, your confidence, your invention.  So that‘s pretty much a closed book for me. 

Newman has raised 200 million dollars for charity with his Newman‘s Own brand and is busy with other projects, so after 50 years of acting, he says that‘s enough. 

Was this enough?  Is our long national nightmare over?  Not yet.  Time for the season recap of “American Idol.”  That‘s ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for Worst Persons in the World.  The bronze to Senator John McCain.  The streak is at an end.  He had missed 46 consecutive Senate votes up until yesterday because he was out campaigning and fund raising for his presidential bid. 

He‘s missed half the votes this year.  For perspective, that‘s the second worst record in the Senate.  Only Tim Johnson has missed more and he‘s been out with a brain hemorrhage.  Oh, candidates Obama and Clinton, they‘ve missed only a handful of vote. 

The runner up, former senator, probably candidate Fred Thompson, addressing the annual Prescott Bush dinner in Stanford, Connecticut, he said al Qaeda has a 100-year plan.  We have a plan until the next election.  And added, we‘re living in a nation beset by suicidal maniacs.

Do you have evidence senator, any evidence that there are even as many suicidal terrorist maniacs living with us here in the nation as there are, say, non-terrorist suicidal maniacs who want to go in and shoot up a school or their workplace?  Have you just watched too many episodes of 24? 

Or do you have research from tonight‘s winner, Douglass Feith.  There is a Pentagon intelligence report from September 2002, just declassified, in which then Undersecretary of Defense Feith gave a briefing to Vice President Cheney‘s chief of staff entitled “Assessing The Relationship Between Iraq and al Qaeda.” 

Feith explained that Osama bin Laden‘s company, al Hijra, had business contacts with a Dutch company that was funneling arms to Iraq.  The company, Feith said, was called Vlemo NB (ph).  Dutch Foreign Minister Maxine Berhagen (ph) has now announced that there is no such company, no records in the Dutch Chamber of Commerce or in the Dutch tax office, and they have been taxing businesses there for 1,000 years.  No Vlemo NB as the link between al Qaeda and Iraq. 

How did Feith come to include it then in his crucial memo?  The Dutch foreign secretary says Feith apparently made it up.  Douglas Feith of the imaginary firm of Vlemo NB, today‘s Worst Person in the World. 


OLBERMANN:  In our number one story, “American Idol” as scene through the COUNTDOWN way back machine.  But first the rumors about Paul McCartney being a no show on the Idol season finale.  Right, like that would have saved it.  Sir Paul has a standing invitation to appear on Idol according to the “New York Daily News,” but he‘s not interested. 

A sources saying, quote, it‘s beneath him.  You bet it is.  TMZ.com, meanwhile, claims, in an exclusive statement from his publicist, that McCartney was never scheduled nor even approached to appear on the Idol finale.  Who needs a Beetle when you had a Sanjaya? 



OLBERMANN:  COUNTDOWN‘s own “American Idol” princess, the princess of “American Idol.”  The princes of “American Idol.”  The princess of “American Idol,” the princess of “American Idol,” the princess of “American Idol”.  Our princess of “American Idol,” the princess of “American Idol.” 

Our princess of “American Idol,” princess, princess, princess. Maria Milito.

SIMON COWELL, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  Other door darling.  Other door. 

Other door.

RANDY JACKSON, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  It‘s the other door. 

COWELL:  Other door . 


COWELL:  Other door. 

JACKSON:  Other door.

OLBERMANN:  Just a sticker on the other door that said “Other Door” probably would have been a solution here.   

Has the betting line shifted who the first judge will be into rehab, Paula Abdul or Simon Simon? 

MARIA MILITO, Q104.3:  I still think it‘s Paula. 

ABDUL:  I‘m a dancer.  I‘m dancer.  I‘m doing little dances.

OLBERMANN:  Another scandal, racy photos of a semifinalist on the Internets.  Will this flap here possibly scare away a whole generation of picture happy adolescents from ever auditioning for the show?  Or worse still, would it scare them away from whoever that is doing that in that photo? 

COWELL:  Do it outside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you even have a working visa to be here?

OLBERMANN:  Does Simon Cowell have a work visa? 

MILITO:  I‘ll get back to you on that one.

OLBERMANN:  Thanks princess.  Little 13 year old Ashley Ferl (ph) displayed some kind of emotion when she was watching that Sanjaya kid bray a tune on Idol this week.

MILITO:  That little girl was annoying last night. 

OLBERMANN:  And an F-n plant. 

RYAN SEACREST, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  Sanjaya you are safe. 

OLBERMANN:  Absolutely shocking.  Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce. 

Special orders don‘t upset us.  

SEACREST:  Jordin Sparks. 

OLBERMANN:  Even you must feel a sense of relief that this thing finally wrapped up this year? 

MILITO:  Yes, I do.  I feel like a 16-year-old whose pregnancy test came back negative.  It‘s over.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I want to be the next “American Idol.” 

COWELL:  Other door darling. 


OLBERMANN:  I don‘t remember any of that.  That is COUNTDOWN for this the 1,486th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, have a good weekend, good night and good luck.



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