updated 6/13/2007 1:34:11 PM ET 2007-06-13T17:34:11

Guests: Richard Wolffe, Rachel Maddow, Chuck Nice

AMY ROBACH, HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

Lame duck walking.  President Bush swings by Capitol Hill to push his immigration bill. But has the president lost his clout?

And it looks like he almost lost his watch in Albania.  Was this crowd of admirers trying to steal his Timex?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  Get a little noogie action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBACH:  It‘s a COUNTDOWN On Your Side investigation.

The 12 commitments.  No, it‘s not a crack about Rudy Giuliani‘s marriages.  It‘s his proposal for America.  We‘ll go inside the ‘08 race and look at the tough challenge he faces from a guy not even in the race yet.

And is the Pentagon creating weapons of mass distraction?  Reports reveal a military proposal to create a hormone bomb that would turn enemy soldiers in gay.  Is this what they‘re aiming for?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VILLAGE PEOPLE (singing):  In the Navy, (INAUDIBLE), in the Navy...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBACH:  Forget the clubs and pass the chlorine.  Vegas-style pool parties, there‘s even one called rehab.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I was thinking about going to rehab, and I decided I just had to do a party out of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBACH:  Hmm, maybe this is where Britney and Lindsey went?

And it‘s bring-your-parents-to-jail day.  Ma and Pa Hilton swing by the prison for a visit.  And while Paris has found God, Rick and Kathy (ph) are planning a party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mrs. Hilton, how are you doing?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBACH:  All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

Good evening.  I‘m Amy Robach, still sitting in for Keith Olbermann.

No official word on what was served for lunch today when President Bush made a rare visit to the Capitol to beg fellow Republicans to keep his immigration reform bill alive.  But the menu probably featured crow or possibly even lame duck.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, high noon on Capitol Hill, Mr. Bush facing backlash on yet another domestic agenda item, only this time, it was coming from his own party.  At the end of his visit today, President Bush declared that the status quo is unacceptable.

It is not clear whether any Republicans in the Senate accepted his assessment of unacceptability.

We begin tonight with our chief White House correspondent, David Gregory, from the North Lawn of the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GREGORY:  Amy, aides said the president made a point of saying, during this meeting on the Hill, that he didn‘t come to twist arms.  Well, it‘s also clear tonight that he hasn‘t changed any minds, either.

(voice-over):  Things have gotten so bad in the immigration fight, the president‘s plea to fellow Republicans was in person.  After a closed-door lunch, he tried to address critics who say the bill gives illegal immigrants in the U.S. a free pass.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:   I believe without the bill, it‘s going to be harder to enforce the border.  The status quo is unacceptable.

GREGORY:  But on the Hill, the status quo is stacked against the White House, and it‘s Republicans in the way.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER:  Eighty-six percent of them did not support his bill.  Eighty percent of the Democrats did.

GREGORY:  Republican leaders said the opposition is firm.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, MINORITY LEADER:  It was a good give and take.  We didn‘t expect anybody to stand up and holler that they had an epiphany.

GREGORY:  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today he will reintroduce the immigration measure only if Republicans produce the votes to assure its passage.  But can this president still deliver?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER:  George W. Bush has reached the point where he‘s neither loved nor feared by people in his own party.  And that leaves him in a very weakened state.

GREGORY:  Weakened by Iraq, and by the feeling that the party is adrift.  A hard line on immigration is now the new litmus test for grassroots conservatives.

VIN WEBER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, I think a lot of Republicans took the message from the 2006 election to mean that grassroots voters were angry with the Republican Party for not being true to conservative principles.

GREGORY (on camera):  Tonight, a participant in the meeting up on the Hill gave the president credit for listening to the complaints from senators who were assembled, including their concerns about polling that they‘re seeing on this issue back home.

This bill is far from being salvaged, and time is running out before Congress‘s July 4 recess, Amy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBACH:  All right, David Gregory at the White House.  Thank you.

Let‘s bring in our own Richard Wolffe, also the senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.

Good evening, Richard.

RICHARD WOLFFE, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, “NEWSWEEK” MAGAZINE: 

Good evening, Amy.

ROBACH:  So if so many Democrats are for this denigration reform bill, and so many Republicans are against it, what then explains President Bush‘s unwavering support for it?

WOLFFE:  Well, I think there are two sides of this.  First of all, the people around President Bush drew a different conclusion from 2006 to some of the folks in the party.

While there are many things that went wrong in 2006, they thought that the result of the anti-immigration rhetoric coming from many parts of the conservative movement was to harm the long-term goal to build the party, to attract Latino voters, that people like Karl Rove think are a natural fit for the party, in that they are more religious and maybe more entrepreneurial than many other Americans.  So it really hurt them in that election.  And the president is trying to overcome that.

There‘s also a personal aspect to it, in that there are people around the president that he admires who are either Latino themselves or recent immigrants.  One of them is, of course, Alberto Gonzales.  There‘s also a woman called Maria Galvin (ph), who‘s a housekeeper that they brought from Austin, Texas, to the White House, who‘s a recent immigrant herself.  And that has a big impact on his thinking.

ROBACH:  In fact, let‘s talk a little bit about Alberto Gonzales.  Yesterday President Bush dodged a bullet, so to speak, with the Senate when Republicans successfully filibustered the vote of no confidence against Alberto Gonzales.  Why does President Bush seem to have such loyalty toward this man?

WOLFFE:  Well, it‘s not just loyalty because of politics, or his famed values about friendship.  There‘s a personal aspect to this for White House staff.  There‘s a fear, White House aides have told me, there‘s a fear that if a new attorney general comes in, they will be under intense pressure to appoint an independent counsel.  And those legal bills and those inquiries for those White House aides would be astronomical.  The personal liability, when it comes to this investigation about the U.S. attorneys, has been understated and underemphasized.

There is that jeopardy that they face, and it‘s financial and legal.

ROBACH:  And Richard, last week, the administration reluctantly decided not to reappoint the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, Peter Pace, because of this showdown over Iraq.  His reconfirmation fight apparently would have started in the Senate, something Republicans obviously wanted to avoid.  And then, of course, we‘ve been talking about the immigration bill.  Are congressional Republicans calling the shots for the White House, instead of the other way around?  What‘s going on?

WOLFFE:  Well, in some ways, it‘s the natural order of events for the party to try and flex its muscles at this stage.  But I actually think the bigger problem for the White House is that the Democrats are calling the shots.  They were the ones who killed Peter Pace, although I—it‘s conspicuous that John McCain really wasn‘t a supporter.

And when it comes to the other parts of their agenda, whether it‘s Iraq or immigration, look at who the president calls from Air Force One to get the immigration bill going.  It was Ted Kennedy.  So I think Democrats are really driving the train right now.

ROBACH:  And a lot has been said this week about those words that President Bush uttered at the very beginning, after winning the 2004 presidential campaign, saying he had political capital, and he intended on spending it.  Is that political capital officially gone?

WOLFFE:  You know, it was a strange theory that you could earn something by spending it.  I‘m not sure what economic model that is.  But the president overstated what he had gained, though many people in his party who thought they‘re the ones who really won it for him in 2004.  So, yes, he overstated it.  Those words have come back to haunt him.  And if he has capital, it‘s because, you know, it‘s because his party is still willing to do something for him.  Right now, he looks pretty bankrupt.

ROBACH:  All right.  Richard Wolffe of MSNBC and “Newsweek.”  Thanks so much for your time and your insight tonight.

WOLFFE:  Any time, Amy.

ROBACH:  Well, President Bush could be in for more trouble when he tries to submit his next war budget to Congress.  His last war spending bill this spring had $3.6 million in it, but the FBI said it needed for the upkeep of its $40 million Gulf Stream 5 jet, like these seen here, supposed to be used for counterterrorism investigations, instead, “The Washington Post” reporting that FBI director Robert Mueller has been using the jet to travel to speeches and routine meetings.

Mr. Mueller‘s predecessor, Louis Freeh, traveled on commercial flights or used one of the FBI‘s smaller planes.  The FBI says Mueller has no say in the matter, that he has to travel in style due to increased security.  Remember when Speaker of the House Pelosi was given a bigger plane for security reasons, and the brouhaha that erupted on right-wing talk radio?  Well, where is that outrage now?

Travel may be a sore subject at the White House tonight in the wake of the president‘s trip to Albania over the weekend.  It may have looked like people of that fine country on the Adriatic coast loved him, but they may have loved his Timex more.

It turns out, President Bush could have been treated the same way any other American tourist might have been treated, and, as any savvy traveler can tell you, always keep a close eye on your wallet and other valuables.

In a piece of video now burning up the Internets, Mr. Bush can be seen mobbed by Albanians, who are reaching out to grab his arm.  That might not be all they grabbed.  One moment, the president‘s watch can clearly be seen on his left wrist.  Check out that black armband.  But seconds later, it‘s no longer there, leading to speculation that President Bush‘s trusty Timex had been stolen in the melee, press secretary Tony Snow denying the rumors this morning at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Was the president‘s watch lifted in Albania off his wrist?

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  No, it was not.  It was placed in his pocket.  The president put it in his pocket, and it returned safely home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBACH:  And yet another installment of COUNTDOWN on Your Side.  We‘re here to help the White House yet again.  Our crack team at the White House did their own investigation, and from another angle, you can see the president move the watch hand in front of his body, where he removed it himself, and then stuffed it in his pocket, just like Tony Snow said.

COUNTDOWN is always here to help the White House in any way that it can.

And President Bush‘s would-be successor Rudy Giuliani better watch out too.  He is being challenged in the polls by a man who isn‘t even an official candidate yet.

And ever wonder what the government spends your tax dollars on when it comes to the defense of this country?  How about a bomb to turns the enemy gay?  No joke.

You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBACH:  When it comes to mixing politics with religion, Republicans have always managed to play all the right cards, so why not see the 10 Commandments and raise you two?

Number four in our COUNTDOWN, the pot gets bigger in the 2008 campaign with the 12 Commitments, Rudy Giuliani promoting a new list of a dozen campaign promises at an event in Bedford, New Hampshire, today.  Many of his 12 commitments have a familiar ring, cutting taxes and spending, reducing waste, and leading the country toward energy independence.  But at the top of Giuliani‘s list, his tried and true campaign theme, 9/11.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  But this is the thing that I guarantee you will be number one throughout.  I will keep America on offense in the terrorist war on us.  No way do we want to return to the 1990s like the Democrats do.  We need a stronger military, not a weaker military.  We need stronger intelligence services, not weaker intelligence services like we had in the 1990s.  And we will bring that about.  That‘s a commitment that we make to the American people.

The second commitment to the American people is one that right now is the one that‘s on the top of their mind.  I will end illegal immigration, secure our borders...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBACH:  That immigration pledge aimed at potential followers of Fred, actor and former senator Fred Thompson, a growing favorite of conservatives and a potentially bigger threat to Giuliani than any of his officially declared opponents, a recent “L.A. Times” poll showing Thompson in solid second place, and only 6 points behind Giuliani, another poll actually showing Thompson in a dead heat with the former New York mayor.

And speaking of New York, a new poll showing Senator Hillary Clinton‘s consistent 15 point national lead over Barack Obama is almost entirely due to her popularity among women, the latest “Washington Post” poll showing 51 percent of women likely to vote in the primaries preferred Clinton over just 24 percent for Senator Obama.  That‘s a two-to-one margin of women who see her as the most inspirational candidate.

Joining us to talk about polls and promises, Chris Cillizza, who writes the political blog The Fix for WashingtonPost.com.

Chris, thanks for being with us.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTONPOST.COM:  Thanks for having me, Amy.

ROBACH:  All right.  So we heard Rudy turning the war on terror into the terrorist war on us.  A new twist on an old theme.  Effective?

CILLIZZA:  Well, you know, words are very important, and I think you rightly get at what‘s important there.  By saying that the terrorists have basically started this war with us, and we can‘t do anything but respond, I think what Giuliani‘s trying to get out is this idea that the United States under President Bush is out there picking fights with people.

I think the idea here is, these people started this with us.  We‘re just retaliating in the only way we know how.  It‘s an interesting way to frame this debate, not something he hasn‘t used before, but an interesting way to frame it nonetheless.

ROBACH:  Also interesting by Giuliani, I mean, anyone who‘s ever been to New York or other restaurants in big cities knows that if illegal immigration were to end completely, a lot of these restaurants would be put out of business.  And yet, here we hear Giuliani say he‘s going to end all illegal immigration.  Is that a credible promise coming from Rudy Giuliani?

CILLIZZA:  Well, I think he‘s going to have to withstand some criticism from his rivals.  In fact, someone sent me today sort of a 12-page—a 12-step rebuttal of these 12 commitments Giuliani put out, with immigration as the first one.  In it, they have a quote from the mid-1990s, in which Giuliani essentially welcomes undocumented workers in New York, says, We want you, we want you as part of this city.

It‘s the problem of being the mayor of the biggest city in the United States, and, I might add, a pretty liberal city of that.  A lot of immigrants, both legal and illegal.  He‘s going to have to answer for some of those comments that he made in the past.  You don‘t just get to declare that you want to send all illegal immigrants back.  You‘re going to have to answer for all those times you said something that wasn‘t exactly that clear and that concise.

And that‘s one big challenge for Mayor Giuliani moving forward.

ROBACH:  The other big one being Fred Thompson.  He is on Jay Leno‘s “TONIGHT” show tonight.  Governor Schwarzenegger declared his candidacy there.  A lot of people tuning in to see what Mr. Thomson may say.  What is Fred Thompson‘s biggest draw?  And obviously, he is the biggest threat to Giuliani, no?

CILLIZZA:  Well, he‘s the biggest threat right now.  I think his biggest draw, frankly, is that he‘s not any of the guys currently in the race.  You know, one of the big things that we have, and you see this with Al Gore on the Democratic side, is, people tend to be attracted to that person who isn‘t in the race.  When they get into the race, some of that newness wears off.

I think Al Gore recognizes this better than almost anyone.  He‘s been through this before.  He knows that the second he gets in, he goes from being that guy everyone wanted to run to, Hey, Al Gore again.  Fred Thompson has to be careful that he doesn‘t lose the momentum he‘s clearly building right now.  The fact he hasn‘t declared he‘s running second or third in these national polls is astounding.

But he has to find a way, a second act, to use the theatrical metaphor, a way to get beyond simply that he‘s an actor, he‘s good looking, he‘s tall, he‘s got a deep voice, he‘s from the South, and he‘s a conservative.  There‘s got to be more there.  And once he announces, he‘s going to have to show that.

ROBACH:  All right, let‘s talk a little bit more about this “Washington Post” poll that put Clinton ahead of Obama basically because of women.  There was a very unique exception.  She had the women vote, except for college-educated women.  They did not find her more popular than Barack Obama.  What‘s with that?  Is there an explanation?

CILLIZZA:  Well, you know, I spent a lot of time looking at Senator Clinton‘s numbers as it relates to women, because it‘s a fascinating study.

There are two things to look for.  One is the point you made, her weakness or lack of strength among women with college degrees more.  The second is her weakness with women who are her age contemporaries, those 55 to 65.  Those are the two weakest groups for Senator Clinton.  The strongest groups, on the other hand, people with a high school, women with a high school education or less, and younger women, 18 to 24, 18 to 35.

I think what it gets at is, there are two different Hillary Clintons out there for women in this country.  One is the iconic Clinton, the trailblazer, the one who‘s overcome a lot of challenges in her life and is the first credible woman to run for president.  The other is someone who has made too many sacrifices, too many compromises, who handled the infidelity in her marriage in the wrong way.

And so I think when you look at her relationship with women and the women, the women‘s vote in general, remember, there are two distinct Hillary Clintons out there.  Obviously Senator Clinton‘s campaign wants that one, that trailblazer to emerge.  But it‘s two separate identities that exist right there for her now.

ROBACH:  All right, very interesting indeed.  Chris Cillizza, who tends the blog The Fix on WashingtonPost.com.  Thanks so much for joining us.

CILLIZZA:  Thanks for having me, Amy.

ROBACH:  Well, turning from political parties to pool parties, Las Vegas looking to steal the title of the city that never sleeps.

And one of the Strip‘s more famous visitors looking to regain at least part of her past.  Unfortunately, not the good part.  Britney and K-Fed forever.

Those stories ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBACH:  I‘m Amy Robach, in for Keith Olbermann tonight.

And at the risk of offending O.J. Simpson, we take a break now from the important news of the day to waste a little bit of time with the kind of gratuitous video and dumb criminal stories that Mr. Simpson says is ruining this country.  We‘ll try to do better, O.J., we promise.

Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin in Frederick, Maryland, where business is booming at this local art gallery.  In fact, the guy barely had the door open on Saturday morning when the first customer of the day came barreling through.  Yes, that‘s a wild deer, obviously in a big hurry to get his art on.  Employees chased the thing around the gallery for a bit before the deer finally walked out the way he came in, sadly, without making a purchase.

To Japan, where they are so far ahead of our country in the robot-building game.  Now they seem to be just rubbing it in.  It‘s a robot baby, and this one‘s designed to help researchers better understand child development.  And so it‘s just like a real human baby in every way possible, except that he is five-foot-two and 300 pounds.  Plus, trust me, you do not want to be around when this baby makes (INAUDIBLE).

Finally to India, where someone ought to make a robot of this guy who we can better understand why he‘s actually eating a broken light bulb.  That is Saresh Chowhan (ph) there, a 23-year-old from central India.  He‘s become quite famous, not only for eating glass, but for eating sand and hot coals too.  Reports say he can devour over six pounds of sand and broken glass in one sitting.  And that well, you don‘t want to be around when he makes (INAUDIBLE) either.

Don‘t ask, don‘t tell, don‘t work.  The Pentagon‘s plan to overwhelm the enemy by dropping a gay bomb fizzled.

Maybe they should try dropping Paris Hilton instead, after she celebrates getting out of jail with a massive party, of course.  So much for sainthood.

Those stories ahead.

Now here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, 30-year-old Sylvia Bernal of Annapolis, Maryland.  She tells reporters she was busy in the kitchen making dinner, when 15 men came bursting through the front door of her home, set off a flash grenade, then kicked her husband in the groin.  Well, it was a police SWAT team accidentally raiding the wrong address.  An Annapolis police spokesman said he‘d like to apologize, but that would put the department in a defensive position legally.  He does admit that the whole incident was regrettable.  Yes, I bet that husband regrets getting kicked in the groin.

Number two, an unnamed German high school graduate who was arrested trying to spend a counterfeit 100-euro note.  Turns out the phony bill came in a graduation card as a gift from his grandmother, but, see, the kid had missed the accompanying note, which read, “I will transfer the real 100 euros to your account, here is a copy.”  And this kid graduated from high school?

And number one, Whitley Drake, a spokesperson for Ford Motors.  He‘s putting an end to speculation that the SUV featured rolling over Phil Leotardo‘s head in the final episode of “The Sopranos” was a paid product placement.  Drake says the folks at Ford were surprised as anyone to see their logo displayed so prominently seconds before the truck brought Phil to his sickening end.  Quote, “We don‘t like to see our vehicles cause the demise of anyone,” he said, “but, as a fan, I hated the guy.  And as far as brand recognition goes, I think it was great,” unquote.

That‘s Ford, built for the road ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBACH:  Sixty two years ago, when America dropped the ultimate weapon, the atomic bomb, on Japan, the U.S. Army Air Force chose for the mission the B-29 bomber the Enola Gay.  In our third story tonight, it turns out that the Air Force has been considering a new ultimate weapon that won‘t drop on our enemies from the Enola Gay.  It will just make them gay. 

The story of the so-called gay bomb, actually a chemical spray, has floated around the Internets ever since the Sunshine Project, which studies weapons research, released this Air Force weapons proposal dating from 1994.  Specifically, it suggests using, quote, “strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior.” 

While noting that no such chemical exists, the story picked up news steam when a reporter got yet another Pentagon confirmation of the proposal‘s authenticity.  But there remains some controversy over a key point.  The Pentagon says the proposal was immediately rejected, but the Sunshine Project claims that as recently as 2001, the joint non-lethal weapons directorate commissioned a study of weapons proposals, including the so-called gay bomb. 

Fortunately, we have our own gay bomb to drop on this story, Rachel Maddow, who show airs every week night on Air America.  Rachel, if you‘re not completely offended, I guess you will keep talking with us.  Right?

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO:  Absolutely.  That was absolutely the best introduction I have ever had on television.  Thank you, Amy.   

ROBACH:  Happy to serve you that.  That‘s nice.  I‘m glad your reaction was like that.  But I want to get your reaction to this notion of a gay bomb. 

MADDOW:  I heard about this.  I heard about it from the Sunshine Project.  My first reaction to it was that somebody took the anti-gay rhetoric that was happening around the time of the don‘t ask, don‘t tell debate, and just took it a little too far.  If this first happened in 1994, that was right in the throes of the debate about don‘t ask, don‘t tell.  

And if you remember, the anti-gay forces in that debate had all sorts of very serious concerns that they expounded at length about what would be so wrong with having openly gay people in the military.  About how if you were in a foxhole in combat, you need to be absolutely assured that the guy next to you was more interested in Lindsay Lohan than Lindsay Graham.  Right?  All of these ridiculous arguments.

I just feel like at this Air Force lab in Dayton, somebody applied their big scientific mind to that idea, and decided just to let this idea and this argument spin out to its logical extreme, which is an uncontrollably super gay military, and how bad that would be and what a wonderful Army that would be to fight against.  I think it‘s a fascination.

ROBACH:  I think it is funny that there is somehow this notion out there that if you are gay, you just aren‘t inclined to fight? 

MADDOW:  Right, and also that you will not only be disinclined to fight, but you will be compelled to be having sex with the people around you, with whom you should be fighting.  This idea—it‘s interesting.  This idea did, I think—could have come from, because it was 1994 -- could have come from those debates around don‘t ask, don‘t tell, but this is also a recurring idea in the culture. 

For example the movie “300,” very similar idea.  One of the most homo-erotic non-pornographic movies of recent generations.  And it‘s somewhat based on the same idea.

ROBACH:  Rachel, could have there been an upside to all of this if the Air Force had gone ahead and developed some massive aphrodisiac spray that somehow forced people into, I guess, the throes of sex?  And let‘s say they made, you know, so that you were gay and not gay.  If that spray actually existed, that could be some powerful stuff. 

MADDOW:  Yes, if you think that tang and velcro are great byproducts of the space programs, imagine if they came up with a turn you on bomb or a turn you off spray as a byproduct of the defense department research here.  We would no longer need advertising in this country.  They would just say the name of whatever product they were trying to sell and spritz you with the turn you on stuff and it would be over. 

ROBACH:  Why do you it is?  I mean, do you think this boils down to a bunch of straight guys sitting in a room panicking, just simply afraid of gay guys?  Where do you think that comes from?  What is the fear from?  And it develops into this? 

MADDOW:  Well, it‘s interesting, in all sorts of environments—and it‘s different in every culture.  But in American culture, and all sorts of environment where the iconography is about men in physical environments, in close proximity, straining together, willing to die for one another, whether it‘s football or an Army of one, you end up being very, very close to homo-eroticism and the iconography that comes with those sorts of endeavors. 

In order to balance that out and make those things seem manly and not just homo-erotic, they often have to be paired with a real overt anti-gay stance within those institutions, within say sports, or within the military.  But it is only so we do not think that they are just the gayest thing on two legs. 

ROBACH:  Right, because when you think about military phrases—and let‘s just think about a few of them, the coalition of the willing, be all you can be, leave no man behind, corporal punishment; is someone trying to tell us something? 

MADDOW  Rum, sodomy and the lash; I‘m every woman.  All of these things; it is not an accident. 

ROBACH:  And now we get to hear it.  Rachel Maddow of Air America, we appreciate you being a good sport and thanks so much for joining us. 

MADDOW:  Amy, thanks a lot.

ROBACH:  Well, Vegas is putting the sizzle into the summer pool party. 

Virtual night clubs gone wild, except during the day and in swimsuits. 

And a dressing down of a much different variety.  Will Ferrell gets chewed out by a toddler in a web movie.  Some cry foul instead of funny though.  Details ahead.  But first, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of this day. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  They have to learn more about their culture.  They have to learn more about ours.  There are plenty that want to engage us.  But this is a very, very important part of what we are going to do. 

Apparently, I skipped over one of my 12 commitments.  The one that I skipped over is—how could I skip that one?  Oh my goodness.   

JAY LENO, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”:  People were really furious about the ending.  They were even debating it in the Alabama Senate.  Did you see what happened when lawmaker Charles Bishop and Senator Lawell Baron (ph) started arguing?  Show that scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Wow, did you see “The Sopranos” last night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That was no way to end a show.  Why wasn‘t somebody whacked? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I liked the way they ended it. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The FBI dubbed him the Leprechaun Bandit, a lanky read headed bank robber, who sometimes wore a green and white Shamrock cap. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They‘re saying you‘re the Leprechaun Bandit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They‘ve got me confused with somebody else. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Police say they have evidence linking him to a string of eight bank robberies. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you know what they say they found in your car? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A bank robbery note.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Really.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Really.  You did not rob any banks, but you had a bank robbery note that just happened to be in your car? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I guess so.  I didn‘t know there was one in there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Police say they arrested him on a Saturday, drunk and passed out on this bus bench along Camp Bowie. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I wasn‘t drunk.  I was on drugs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, you weren‘t drunk, you were on drugs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBACH:  What happens there is meant to stay there, except presumably when we what happens is you win a whole lot of cash.  Our second story on the COUNTDOWN, the latest excess from the city of excess, Las Vegas.  And Candy Spelling, who, thanks to late husband Erin Spelling‘s prolific career in TV production, already has a fortune of approximately 600 million dollars, just got even richer. 

According to TMZ.com, she was playing slot machines at the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas last Friday and kept winning, finally finishing up 200,000 dollars richer.  And her luck didn‘t end there.  On Sunday, Mrs. Spelling held a raffle for an after school charity.  Top prize, a brand new Prius.  She bought everyone on her staff tickets for the big draw, but ended up winning the car herself. 

And if that kind of luck does not make you want to jump on the next flight out to Sin City, maybe this story will, a different kind of strip is now attracting visitors to Vegas, because, as Michael Okwu reports, all the fun of the city‘s night life is available all day too. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL OKWU, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Picture this town and you think of the night, of wagers and jackpot and secrets, of poolside mornings, perhaps, to sleep it off.  But then this is Vegas, and more than ever, sleepers need not apply. 

STEVEN STRIKER, VIP:  There is no such thing as sleep anymore.  Now all it is cat naps. 

OKWU:  Cat naps because at almost every major resort night life has merged into day.  Swimming people now are the new night clubs, cat naps for the sun up sex, the hard body, the unabashed. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It is crazy and outrageous, and I am having the time of my life. 

OKWU (on camera):  Night light blurring into day life, maybe I can understand that.  What ever happened to a lazy Sunday?   

STRIKER:  Night clubs are a revenue stream.  It‘s real estate.  Now imagine the same revenue stream applies during the day? 

OKWU (voice-over):  Cashing in, operators at the hottest pool party, Sunday Mornings.  Sunday at the Hard Rock Hotel‘s Rehab.  You heard that right.   

CHAD PALLAS, OWNER:  I was thinking about going to rehab and I decided instead to do a party out of it. 

OKWU (on camera):  So who me what you can get in these cabanas. 

PALLAS:  Every cabana comes with a flat screen.  It comes with the refrigerator full of refreshments.

OKWU (voice-over):  Chad Pallas and Hard Rock staffers provide cabanas for a cool 1,500 to 15,000 dollars a pop with VIP bottle service.  Or you can scrimp with the standard 30 buck entrance fee. 

Regardless, business is booming, attracting 3,000 revelers on average every Sunday.  Maybe because those party themes are so thinly veiled. 

PALLS:  We‘re coming up on Prehistoric Rehab, which will feature a lot of sexy cavemen and cavewomen. 

OKWU (on camera):  It‘s a high culture here at the Hard Rock. 

PALLAS:  Very high.  We take the high road whenever we can.

OKWU (voice-over):  The look of caution being thrown into the wind.

(on camera):  Do you know this man?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Wouldn‘t you accept a massage from a woman? 

OKWU (voice-over):  What doesn‘t happen in Vegas? 

Michael Okwu, NBC News, Las Vegas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBACH:  Diving into our nightly round of a celebrity and entertainment news, Keeping Tabs.  And a shocker from two of the most regular denizens of this segment; Britney Spears and K-Fed are apparently getting back together.  “NW Magazine” reporting that the pair are moving towards reconciliation and Britney is thrilled about it.  K-Fed has been spotted hanging around for hours at her house, after dropping off the kids.  Sometimes, he even stays overnight.  The pair only just got divorced in March. 

As for Britney‘s flagging career, another one of her execs claims it has nothing to do with her personal troubles, like the head shaving, the hoo-ha flashing, the rehab flunking, and everything to do with how terrible her music is.  Justin Timberlake telling London‘s “Daily Mail” newspaper that, quote, the truth of it is she had catchy songs.  If she had catchy songs again, I don‘t think anyone would be chastising her as much as they are.

Turning to day one of possibly the silliest civil trial ever; Roy Pearson, a Washington, D.C. judge, is suing a local dry cleaners for 54 million dollars because they misplaced a pair of his pants for a week.  The plaintiff, who is representing himself, has so far called eight witnesses to testify against Custom Cleaners and its owners, the Chungs, including his own son, then a fellow judge, and a pants salesman, as well three other dissatisfied customers, one of whom put on what a court observer described as a, quote, vivid Asian accent to describe her experience. 

Another witness, a World War II veteran, said she was chased from the store by the owner, an experience which she said reminded her of the Holocaust.  Finally, the plaintiff himself took the stand, describing in detail his financial difficulties, his divorce, his weight gain in middle age.  The sadness of that circumstance even caused him to tear up and call for a five minute break.  Court resumes tomorrow if the presiding judge does not chuck this case out first. 

As angry as the series ending of “The Sopranos” apparently made viewers, it paid off for HBO in ratings.  The hour long finale drew in 11.9 million viewers Sunday night, but did not crack the show record.  That was set back in September of 2002, when 13.4 million people tuned in to watch the premier of season four.  Another 12.1 million tuning to start of season five in March, 2004.

And turning from gangsters to a gangster-esque parody, millions of web users found a video short featuring Will Ferrell and a foul mouth child laugh out loud funny.  But as our correspondent Maria Menounos reports, others find it irresponsible, possibly even offensive. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARIA MENOUNOS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It is a big hit on the web.  The video short called “The Landlord” has been viewed more than 32 million times and stars comedian Will Ferrell as a tenant late with the rent. 

WILL FERRELL, COMEDIAN:  Look, I thought I was clear in my e-mail that I need a couple of weeks. 

MENOUNOS:  The joke, this adorable two-year-old toddler named Pearl plays the baby landlord determined to collect. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I put you on the street.

FERRELL:  Can I get two more weeks? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I want my money.

FERRELL:  You need to relax.

MENOUNOS:  The video has some critics saying what she really needs is to have her mouth washed out with soap. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I want my money, (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

FERRELL:  Don‘t call me (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  I‘m a grown man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

(EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

FERRELL:  God, you‘re mean.

DR. ROBERT BUTTERWORTH, PSYCHOLOGIST:  I hope a lot of parents out there are not going to experiment with their kids to teach them how to make a funny video, not realizing that a lot of these habits are going to show up later on. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I want my money.

MENOUNOS:  Not just angry and foul mouth, the child also plays a drunk. 

FERRELL:  Why do you need your money so fast?  Come on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I need to get my drink on. 

FERRELL:  You scare me.  You‘re an alcoholic. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Can I have four beers?

MENOUNOS:  Pearl‘s mother coached her during the taping of the video, and her father, Ferrell‘s business partner Adam McKay, was there too.   

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  One more time.  Make daddy laugh.

MENOUNOS (on camera):  McKay dismisses the controversy, saying that his two-year-old daughter Pearl is, quote, in this great stage now where she repeats anything you say to her and forgets it right away.  Dr.  Butterworth disagrees. 

BUTTERWORTH:  We don‘t know if these behaviors are going to stick. 

But why take a chance on the psyche of a two year-old? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You‘re an (EXPLETIVE DELETED) hole.

MENOUNOS:  Nice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hi mommy.

MENOUNOS:  Maria Menounos, NBC News, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBACH:  One day after we learn Paris found god, now we hear her dad wants to throw an after prison party for her in Vegas.  That‘s still called Sin City last time I checked.  More Paris punch lines ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBACH:  There are quite a few things one might do when first getting out of jail, have a good meal, start looking for a job, or, if just released from one of those really unclean slammers, simply get a grip on that head lice problem.  And in our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, there is Paris Hilton, who will apparently go from the poky to a party, because having found God in jail and all, she‘ll really want to get loud.

If the “New York Post” Page Six is to be believed, the get out of jail bash was being planned by Hilton‘s father Rick Hilton.  Ever the canny businessman, he is asking Las Vegas hot spots to sponsor it by paying 50,000 dollars in cash, providing free accommodations, as well as complementary flights.  So far both the Hard Rock Cafe and the Pure Nightclub have reportedly passed. 

Both of Miss Hilton‘s parents visited her in jail today.  No word on whether party favors were discussed.  And O.J. Simpson, meanwhile, is complaining about Paris news coverage, telling “Editor and Publisher” that when she returned to jail last week, more people knew about that than the fact that we were sending people into space that day.  COUNTDOWN offers this solution, Mr. Simpson, and it‘s an obvious one; we can send Paris into space.

And not to be outdone in the bright idea department, the animal rights group PETA is asking Ms. Hilton to take up the cause of chicken rights when she‘s getting out of the pen. 

I‘m joined now by comedian Chuck Nice of VH-1‘s “Best Week Ever.” 

Thanks so much for your time tonight, Chuck.  Always good to see you. 

CHUCK NICE, VH-1‘s “BEST WEEK EVER”:  Always a pleasure.

ROBACH:  Are in fairness, we should mention—to Rick Hilton—apparently they were planning this party before Paris got sent back into jail and found God.  Do you think that might, I don‘t know, put a dent in the party plans. 

NICE:  No, that makes it totally justifiable now that we know it was planned before this whole fiasco.  I‘ve got a feeling that Paris‘ parents are enablers.  Maybe we know where the problem lies here.  Let‘s see, you went to prison because you‘re an alcoholic and you party too much.  Hey we‘ve got the perfect thing, how about a party? 

ROBACH:  And let‘s make money on it. 

NICE:  And let‘s make money.  Well that I can‘t blame them for.  That I can not blame them for.  But honestly, I mean, these people are shameless at this point.  This is ridiculous. 

ROBACH:  And, by the way, the creators of Girls Gone Wild, Joe Francis, who is in Reno, Nevada, in jail himself, by the way, has sent his condolences.  According to TMZ.com, he said, quote, my heart goes out to Paris.  If her name was Jane Doe, she would never have served a day in jail.  What other great things could happen to Paris if her name were Jane Doe? 

NICE:  You know, if her name were Jane Doe, maybe she could actually appear in one of his Girls Gone Wild videos.  Oh, wait a minute, this is Paris Hilton we‘re talking about.  She makes her own Girls Gone Wild videos. 

ROBACH:  And, of course, O.J. Simpson had to jump into it, as we mentioned.  So let‘s see, there‘s Simpson, the Girls Gone Wild guy.  Who else might need to add their two sense about Paris Hilton?

NICE:  I love the fact that O.J. Simpson actually chimed in.  First of all, he said that we‘re sending people into space, like that‘s big news.  Is he still in the Johnson administration.  It‘s like we‘re sending people into space and you‘re talking about Paris Hilton.  Come on dude.  It‘s the year 2007.  It‘s not 1967.

ROBACH:  Rich, and I‘d like to say that for O.J. Simpson with the media coverage; he started this coverage with that white Bronco chase.  He made us realize just how profitable is could be to talk about people like him. 

NICE:  I‘ve got to tell you you‘re right.  It‘s that Bronco chase.  Here‘s the deal, O.J., stop killing people and all this will stop.  Stop killing people, O.J.? 

ROBACH:  And PETA‘s trying to get in now as well, hoping that Paris, feeling caged in, as we heard her describe jail—pretty unique a description—that maybe she could feel some sympathy towards those chickens who are caged in.  Any other ideas on how PETA could sway Ms.  Hilton to their cause. 

NICE:  No, it makes perfect sense for PETA to want Paris to get on board with chickens, because she‘s a chicken head.  So, hey.  Yes, I said it. 

ROBACH:  Free Paris, that big movement to try and get her pardoned by Governor Schwarzenegger; apparently they have just thrown in the towel.  They have decided it is not going to happen.  The founders said it was obviously unsuccessful.  And he claims he has more important things to do like focus on global warming. 

NICE:  Which, by the way, is caused by Paris Hilton, people.  I don‘t know if you‘re aware of that.  But Paris Hilton‘s ego is actually causing green house gases not to be able to escape our atmosphere.  Quite frankly, it‘s the covering that causes global warming. 

ROBACH:  And we‘re also hearing a little bit about Paris Hilton‘s mental state.  We‘ve learned that she has a severe case of ADD.  But there are some unanswered questions as to what exactly her mental illness may be.  Your thoughts? 

NICE:  It‘s a very simple thing.  She‘s got egoitis, quote frankly.  You know how they got her to go back into prison, they promised to put a full length mirror in her cell. 

ROBACH:  She hasn‘t looked at the mirror. 

NICE:  She hasn‘t looked at the mirror?  Wow, God, now that is what‘s driving her crazy.  Now we know what her mental state is all about.  I‘m just glad she found God.  This may be the first time that Jesus‘ approval numbers might drop. 

ROBACH:  All Right, Chuck Nice, we appreciate it.  Comedian and contributor to VH-1, thank you.

NICE:  Thank you.

ROBACH:  And that‘s it for this Tuesday‘s edition of COUNTDOWN.  I‘m Amy Robach.  Let‘s turn it over now to Dan Abrams.

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

END   

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