updated 10/2/2007 2:08:39 PM ET 2007-10-02T18:08:39

Guests: Jim Moret

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  We‘re not talking about the guy who lived at the Bates Motel either.  Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00, 7:00 eastern for more “Hardball.”  See you then. 

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? 

War on Iran.  The White House reportedly shifts the goalpost.  Now the warmongers don‘t want to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities.  Now the targets are the Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities.  The same guard corps the Senate just branded a terrorist organization in a nonbinding resolution last week. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  The president has said that he believes that there is a diplomatic solution that we can use to solve the Iranian problem.  And that‘s why we‘re working with our allies to get there. 

SEYMOUR HIRSCH, REPORTER, “NEW YORKER”:  That‘s what he said before we went to Iraq, too. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The reporter of the latest ominous news, Seymour Hirsch of the “New Yorker”.  He joins us.                

Waiting for the other ultraconservative shoe to drop and for it to drop on Rudy Giuliani?  How about James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Richard Vigory meeting at a conference at which Dick Cheney spoke, talking about a third party candidate to run against Giuliani if Giuliani is nominated. 

Acting on behalf of the third party and the fourth, the ruling is in on the custody of Britney Spears‘ kids.      

Speaking of unfit, Bill-O keeps the race prejudice story alive.  Today blaming a left wing conspiracy and repeating his threats to get all who dare criticize him, presumably by stalking them with a camera like his other victims. 

So the “Countdown” Department of Homeland Security is here to show you how and how not to defend yourself when the inevitable O‘Reillyist attack finally comes. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAKE FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  How are you doing?  I‘m with FOX News. 

Can I talk to you about some of the comments you made? 

OLBERMANN:  Well, as the great roman philosopher Marcus Aurelius said, if Bill O‘Reilly wants to strangle somebody, I‘ll show you strangle somebody.

FAKE FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hey, hey. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  All that and more, on “Countdown.”                 

(on camera):  Good evening.  Disproving the theory that President Bush never learns.  A report tonight that after the enduring debacle of war against Iraq, because of weapons of mass destruction, which did not exist, somebody has convinced him that war against Iran, because of an imminent nuclear threat it presents, will not fly.  So instead, it would be war against, Iran because of terrorist activities by part of that country‘s military. 

Our fifth story on the “Countdown,” more saber rattling with different sabers tonight.  Thus, with the publication of a new article by Seymour Hirsch called “Shifting Targets,” Mr. Hirsch, who joins us presently, having long warned that the Bush administration is plotting war with Iran, now reporting that the White House is changing the why. 

Instead of a broad bombing attack against the nuclear facilities of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the White House now planning for surgical strikes against that country‘s Revolutionary Guard Corps.  The same Revolutionary Guard Corps that last week 76 U.S. Senators voted overwhelmingly to urge the State Department to declare a terrorist organization. 

As part of its sales pitch, Hirsch reporting that the Bush administration is planning to say Bill Clinton did the same thing by conducting limited strikes in ‘90s in Afghanistan, the Sudan and Baghdad. 

Scared yet?  If only that were the extent of what appears to be a coordinated effort by the Bush administration to instigate a military action, it seems to be viewed as an end, not a means. 

John Bolton, the administration‘s former never-confirmed ambassador to the U.N., telling conservative British lawmakers over the weekend that he sees no alternative to a preemptive strike against Iran.  Diplomacy was never his strong point.  Mr. Bolton even going so far as to utter the words “regime change.” 

Meanwhile, Debra Cagan, the deputy assistant secretary of Coalition Affairs to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, having told another group of British lawmakers last month on September 11th, no less, that she hates all Iranians.  That‘s not an exaggeration, not even a characterization.  The exact quote was “I hate all Iranians.”  The Pentagon now denying she had uttered those words but three members of the British parliament, who were there that day, all confirming they heard her say it. 

Lastly, but certainly not least, there is the so-called godfather of the neo-cons, Norman Podhoretz, who in an interview with C-Span over the weekend said, “I believe Bush is going to order air strikes on Iran before he leaves office.” 

Why does he believe that?  Because he met privately with the president and spent the better part of the hour trying to talk him into it.  Apparently coming away thinking he‘d done a good job doing so.  It is almost enough to make the assurances given by Dana Perino at the White House this afternoon seem hollow. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERINO:  The president had said that he believed that there is a diplomatic solution that we can use to solve the Iranian problem.  That‘s why we‘re working with our allies to get there. 

BILL PLANTE, CBS NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  That‘s what he said before we went into Iraq too.

PERINO:  I‘m not going to comment on any possible—any possible scenario that anonymous continues to feed into Sy Hirsch.  I‘m not going to do it.

PLANTE:  Why do you think we‘re gong to believe that the president wants a diplomatic solution?  He said that before we went into Iraq?

PERINO:  Because there was not a diplomatic solution in Iraq.  And Saddam Hussein defied the U.N. Security Council 17 times? 

PLANTE:  What we‘ve learned since suggests otherwise. 

PERINO:  That the president didn‘t—that Saddam Hussein defied 17 U.N. Security Council resolutions? 

PLANTE:  That the president was intent on going to war in Iraq in any case. 

PERINO:  The president pursued a diplomatic option.  We went to the Security Council and then we proceeded. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  A bouquet of roses to Bill Plante. 

Seymour Hirsch, of the “New Yorker”, kind enough to join us now. 

Mr. Hirsch, good evening.  Thanks for your time. 

SEYMOUR HIRSCH, “NEW YORKER”:  Glad to be here.

OLBERMANN:  Of the many parallels between the war run-up to Iraq circa 2002, 2003, in what appears to be this march towards war with Iran, does the White House seem to have given—is there any estimating in your reporting here that it‘s given thought to the aftermath of an attack?  Has the administration thought this through beyond the bombing runs? 

HIRSCH:  That‘s the great question.  I can‘t give you an answer to that question.  I know that they‘ve been told, the consequences would be.  I know the intelligence committee is very worried about what they call asymmetrical warfare.  In other words, Iran can respond not necessarily against us or Israel, but maybe hitting oil targets in the Gulf to drive the price up, triggering terrorism somewhere around the world.  It‘s very hard to know if they‘re fully aware of the consequences because there‘s a lot of braggadocio that I hear about inside.  With this new change it becomes easier in a sense.  You‘re not talking about a thousand points of light, a thousand bombing missions.  You‘re talking about much more narrowly gauged missions that will get the international community, perhaps even Britain, to go along.  It‘s not so bad.  We‘re only going to be hitting the boys that have been allegedly killing our boys in Iraq. 

OLBERMANN:  You wrote in the piece now that as part of the significant increase in the tempo of attack planning in mid-August senior officials told reporters that the administration intended to declare Iran‘s Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization. 

Coincidentally, last week by this 76-22 vote, the Senate passed the Kyle-Lieberman Amendment.  Lo and behold, it urged the State Department to designate the Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.  Because of Democratic pressure, there were changes made to everything else in that resolution.  Is it a coincidence that the part about the Revolutionary Guard seemed to be the one section that made it through intact? 

HIRSCH:  I don‘t think so.  There‘s been a real campaign.  The White House has sort of shifted.  Even in public, you can sort of sense it.  You can actually track it.  They can‘t sell that Iran is a nuclear threat.  That just didn‘t work.  The American public did not buy it.  They just—having gone through the WMD issue with Bush on Iraq, they weren‘t getting traction, but this new gambit, this new idea that started coming up earlier this summer that the reason we‘re having trouble, the debacle in Iraq, is not because the debacle we started but because of evil Iran.  That‘s why we‘re losing the war and in such trouble in Iraq.  The Iranians are the key. 

That all started this summer.  It has been a drumbeat.  You would really think that every problem we have, every IED, explosive device that comes off is given to the Iraqis by the Iranians when, in fact, Iraq is a cesspool of weaponry, has been forever. 

So it‘s—I think these guys are pretty serious about what they‘re doing.  I can‘t tell you that there‘s been an order given by the president to do bombing.  It may not happen.  He may end up doing the big bombing he wants.  But he certainly, the White House and Cheney, in particular, are looking very hard at limited options which they think they can sell to the American people much more readily. 

OLBERMANN:  That would be where—they just changed the part of the where as well and the wherever, but it is clear to you at any point why the administration feels it‘s necessary to attack Iran, I mean, absence any compelling evidence that there is this nuclear threat or part of their military is a terrorist organization, which seems to make no sense by definition. 

What is the impetus for Dick Cheney and his cabal?  What are they going to get out of this?  Because they always get something out of everything. 

HIRSCH:  You‘re asking me an opinion question.  I‘ll give you an opinion answer—I don‘t know.  But I‘ve got a lot of people I trust that, more or less, are inside.  I don‘t like talking about it.  But the bottom line is it‘s real easy.  You hear the White House spokeswoman today say we‘re interested in a diplomatic track.  All you have to do is start talking to them.  Then you get diplomacy.  And he‘s not talking to them.  He has no interest in talking to people he doesn‘t like.  He doesn‘t want to talk to the Syrians, the Iranians Hamas, the Lebanese one-time terrorist group.  He doesn‘t want to talk to people.

If he would talk to them, I could say to you there is some reason we might not go to war.  But the only thing you hear from inside is that these guys really want to do—and I have this wonderful quote in the magazine this week, somebody saying to me basically that Cheney and Bush really don‘t—you know, in terms of the Republican future and the election in 2008, presidential election, the quote is they don‘t give—“Cheney and Bush don‘t give a rat‘s ass about the future of the Republican Party when it comes to this.” 

OLBERMANN:  You know what the White House response to your article has been?  You‘re always writing articles about the increased preparations for a war with Iran.  I think I know your response to it and I think agree with is.  But what is your response to that response? 

HIRSCH:  This was light.  Usually, they go after me personally.  When I did stuff on the Abu Ghraib, they had a deputy assistant secretary of defense accuse me literally, he said, of throwing crap against the wall to see what sticks.  This is when I had photographs in print.  This is a light response, simply to say, how dare you commit journalism? 

OLBERMANN:  And repeatedly.  Sy Hirsch of the “New Yorker”.  Great thanks for your time tonight and for the diligence of your reporting, sir.

HIRSCH:  Thank you, sir. 

OLBERMANN:  For more on the politics at work here, let‘s turn to our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.

Richard, good evening.

RICHARD WOLFFE, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, “NEWSWEEK”:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Are we being paranoid here?  Does it seem like 2002 all over again with just the difference of the “q” being changed to an “n”? 

WOLFFE:  Well, there‘s a great book about Silicone Valley, “Only the Paranoid Survive.”  And given the last five years, a little paranoia is quite justified, but there are really important differences when you look back at 2002.  In 2002, we had the president take the active decision to go to war, to change the regime in Iraq.  Then as the Downing Street memo showed, the intelligence, the case for war was fit around that decision.  This time around, there is no presidential determination.  There is no decision.  What you have is a diplomatic track.  You have obviously a lot of drum beats, a lot of saber rattling.  But I think we‘re still off that decision.  It‘s possible.  It could happen, but we haven‘t yet crossed that threshold. 

OLBERMANN:  Is there no diplomatic track because there‘s no intention of having one, as Sy Hirsch just implied.  Is there any fail-safe on this?  Will Bush skip the, oh, I‘m going to mention it to Congress, and the first we hear about it is if there were bombs are dropped? 

WOLFFE:  The diplomatic track is quite serious now.  They have been at it for some time.  They started out with the diplomacy, and they‘re looking for this extra layer of sanctions now.  But sanctions take an awfully long time to kick in and to have a real effect, far longer than the intelligence analysts suggest that it would take for Iran to make a bomb. 

Look, they have problems even getting serious sanctions against Burma. 

The idea they can bring Iran to its knees any time soon is ludicrous. 

People are saying if sanctions and diplomacy are going to fail, where does that leave President Bush, given his mind-set, that he thinks he has to do the tough stuff because nobody else can. 

OLBERMANN:  Sy Hirsch reported that Secretary of State Rice is advising the president of the need to proceed carefully because of the ongoing diplomatic track involving Iran.  Do we have any sense of how committed she might be to solving this problem?  And does she have any chops left in this administration? 

WOLFFE:  Well, she‘s certainly running the game right now.  I spoke to senior White House folks the other day about this.  She‘s calling the shots for now.  She has Secretary Gates, DOD, behind her, which is very different from Colin Powell‘s position in 2002. 

But this is just for now.  And the president had said repeatedly that he won‘t let Iran develop a nuclear weapon.  So how you square those two things up isn‘t clear because you won‘t find anyone in the international community who thinks that diplomacy will stop Iran. 

And by the way, regime change wouldn‘t stop Iran from its nuclear ambitions anyway.  Because everyone thinks that secular or theocratic, Iran still wants a bomb. 

OLBERMANN:  Explain, in a minute, what the Senate has and has not learned since 2002 because of that Kyle-Lieberman Amendment, the 76-22 vote, which paves the way for this track that Mr. Hirsch is reporting on about the Revolutionary Guard is terrorists.  Is the Senate just coming out of a coma or not coming out of a coma after five years? 

WOLFFE:  I thought it was very interesting.  It came up in the Democratic debate with Tim Russert last week.  I don‘t think they have learned a whole lot.  The administration doesn‘t need much justification.  Defining the Revolutionary Guard is incredibly difficult.  Its activities are sprawling.  Senior White House officials tell me they don‘t understand how this regime operates, where the leavers of power are.  So how would you even identify the targets for the Revolutionary Guard?  Yeah, there are some street addresses, but the regime is far more complex than that.  The Revolutionary Guard‘s position is hard to identify. 

OLBERMANN:  They‘re doing a Google map search.  Richard Wolffe, of “Newsweek” and MSNBC.  As always, sir, our great thanks.    

WOLFFE:  Any time.

OLBERMANN:  For month, many of us have been wondering the backlash from the religious extremists had been against Rudy Giuliani.  You can stop wondering.  Some are threatening to put the Republican Party “out of its misery.”  That‘s a quote. 

Speaking of misery, Bill-O and race continued—continued by Bill-O.  And those threats to come after anybody who criticizes him with a camera crew, we will offer you a hands-on self-defense course against an O‘Reillyist attack.

You‘re watching “Countdown” on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Ever since Ronald Reagan, the Christian right and the Republican Party have been joined at the hip.  So-called family values and overturning abortion rights the dominant themes of any Republican who hopes to win.  But this year a pro-choice Republican leads the pack and that has evangelicals threatening to lead their own pack. 

Our fourth story tonight in the “Countdown” to 2008, what those who have doubted Rudy Giuliani‘s long-term chances have long been predicting.  The pro-choice former mayor of New York City once defended gay rights, took gun makers to court, called tough immigration laws harsh and unfair.

He has since hardened his stance on guns and immigration, but remains pro-choice and says abortion should be a matter for the states to decide. 

That has triggered a threat from Christian conservatives, among them James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council at a meeting in Salt Lake City last weekend. 

According to the “New York Times,” they‘re pledging to consider a third party if Republicans nominate a pro-choice candidate.  That pretty much means Giuliani.  The latest polls show Giuliani with a significant lead, but one out of three Republicans identifying with the religious right. 

Let‘s turn now to “Congressional Quarterly” columnist and MSNBC political analyst Craig Crawford. 

Craig, good evening.

CRAIG CRAWFORD, COLUMNIST, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY”:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Tonight Perkins told Chris Matthews that Giuliani is simply unacceptable to this group.  Richard Vigory, who was at that meeting, told ABC News that if it‘s necessary, they‘ll put the Republican Party “out of its misery next year.”  Is this the Giuliani backlash that we‘ve been expecting for a long time? 

CRAWFORD:  It sure looks like it.  Given how intense they were, I almost have to think they must have bloody tongues from having held their words for so long. 

Tony Perkins‘ interview on “Hardball” is interesting to me.  He used a code phrase which is fighting words among pro-life voters, calling Giuliani pro-abortion.  That doesn‘t leave a lot of running room for common ground when you start hurling words like that at someone, even indirectly. 

It indicates, Keith, they are not—this group is not buying Giuliani‘s basic argument to them all along, which has been a bit weird, saying that, yeah, I‘m pro-choice, but it‘s OK because I‘m going to appoint justices who vote against my own beliefs.  And so they‘re not buying it. 

OLBERMANN:  Gary Bauer warned this group not to leave the Republican Party saying that the biggest disaster for social conservatives isn‘t Giuliani but electing Hillary Clinton.  This group blasted Romney, blasted McCain.  Does it not suggest that there‘s a split within the Christian right as well.  Who do they have in mind as a third party candidate, Gingrich? 

CRAWFORD:  That‘s their problem.  Ultimately, even powerful issue groups have to have a candidate.  So that is their problem, there aren‘t any that emerge.  I think Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas, would be the most likely, but they‘re not viewing him as feasible at this point. 

Essentially, I think this interest group, like so many, at this stage are bluffing to get a seat at the table and to have influence over the party.  I don‘t think they‘re going to split into a third party.  There are lots of religious leaders, not just Bauer, who think that would be silly. 

OLBERMANN:  Fred Thompson was supposedly an alternative for conservatives but his entry has not seemed to make that big of a difference in that regard, but he did however—and we‘re mighty grateful—settle the question of WMDs this weekend, speaking in Newton, Iowa, and saying of Saddam Hussein, “We can‘t forget the fact that although at a particular point in time we never found any WMD down there”—we assume he‘s meaning Iraq and not Kentucky—“he clearly had had WMD.  He clearly had had the beginnings of a nuclear program.” 

So they were never found, there was no evidence of them, no evidence of a nuclear program, but he had had them.  What do we think here?  Did Lieutenant van Buren from “Law & Order” find something we missed and tell Fred about it personally? 

CRAWFORD:  We can tell he just place a prosecutor on TV because in real life, with evidence like that, you won‘t get anybody convicted.  Maybe the next step of this argument is, well, WMDs weren‘t in Iraq because they‘re in Iran. That might be the next step. 

OLBERMANN:  Lastly here, among the Democrats, all but Clinton‘s campaign released fund-raising figures.  Barack Obama was the high point, $20 million over the summer, $80 million over the year.  He‘s got a lot of money, but it does not, yet, seem to be making a difference in the national polls.  Over the weekend, he seemed to be showing some frustration in New Hampshire.  Where does Obama go from here? 

CRAWFORD:  I think he‘ll get another little boomlet in coverage because there‘s resistance now. There‘s buyer‘s remorse setting in the Democratic Party and among a lot of the media about Hillary Clinton‘s supposed inevitability.  So he‘ll get a ride there. 

Also, we‘re at the juncture, Keith, where raising the money isn‘t as important as what they‘re going to do with it, because now they start spending the money.  They‘ve been keeping their powder dry. 

And there is a good time for Obama.  He ran television ads in Iowa for a period of time here recently.  His polling numbers are up.  He‘s edged ahead of Hillary there.  She hasn‘t unleashed her barrage, so we‘ll see—now we‘ll see the battle of the TV wars that all this money raising has been all about. 

OLBERMANN:  How do you have TV wars between two head-to-head candidates without bloodying each other, the thing the Democrats have avoided up till now? 

CRAWFORD:  They try to avoid that in the television ads, too, directly, particularly in Iowa.  Iowans do not like a lot of yelling back and forth, but there will be positive, negatives, emphasizing positive things about your candidate that tend to emphasize negative things about the other candidate.  They‘ll play a lot of games with that, but it is now going to get bloody on the campaign trail. 

OLBERMANN:  A lot of Fred Thompsonesque quotes in there.  Craig Crawford, of MSNBC and “Congressional Quarterly.”  Great thanks, Craig. 

CRAWFORD:  You bet.     

OLBERMANN:  The O‘Reilly race rat.  Bill continues to pound his own story and threatened to send a camera crew to anybody who reports it.  We‘ll offer you a defense course if he tries to ambush you. 

The plan was brilliant.  Place nails out front when a cop car drove up.  Problem, that takes longer than your average perpetrator would guess.  The results next on “Countdown”.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  On this date, October 1, 1997, the “Big Show with Keith Olbermann” debuted here on MSNBC—holy crap.  It‘s ten years since I first started here at this desk.  Of course, there was a little gap in that 1999-2002 era, but ten years, for crying out loud. 

On that note, let‘s play “Oddball.” 

We begin in Owenton, Kentucky, and “Oddball‘s” dumb criminals of the week.  Before breaking into the local pharmacy, two thieves decided to lay a trap for responding police cars, 60 pounds of roofing nails spread across the parking lot to blow out patrol car tires.  These guys spent so long doing this they only had about a minute for the actual robbery.  And they then managed to rush through the thing and drop the drugs they were stealing on their way out the door.              

To Higashi, Hiroshima, Japan, and an invention that could rescue a generation of squeamish junior high students from the hell of biology class.  Introducing the see-through frog, genetically engineered by a team of scientists.  All the amphibian‘s innards, its organs, its blood vessels can be seen through its translucent skin, without killing it first.  Nice work, gentlemen.  Next for you, the see-through science teacher.                 

And finally to the Internet where we find what looks like a night vision thermal video shot of a military helicopter in the desert.  I‘m guaranteeing nothing here.  Nothing too unusual until the chopper begins to peak over the hill and the pilot manning the heat-sensitive camera shoots his buddy doing something.  Wouldn‘t try running while you do that, sir.  Maybe he was drawing the proverbial line in the sand.  No harm here.  The guy on the ground gives a friendly hello, buddy, to the chopper and goes about his business.  That‘s for real. 

Speaking of are you for real, tonight, vital how-to instructions that could save your life in the event of a Bill O‘Reilly attack on your person. 

And Britney Spears versus Kevin Federline for custody of the kids.  We‘ll stow the jokes for a night.  The court has actually ruled.  Details on why, just breaking, coming ahead. 

But time for our goof balls and good guys.  Here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world.  Number three, best career ending moment, Rhode Island radio guy John Depetro out O‘Reillying O‘Reilly; if, quote, some white guys are sitting around a table and Dan Abrams said, yes, I was up in Harlem last night.  We would think you were either a, looking for drugs or b, looking for a prostitute. 

Yes, sir, you would, if you and the other white guys you mentioned were a, morons or b, in the KKK.  Have a nice time selling tires, sir. 

Number two, best slap dash research, Kapil Kumar Todi‘s home furnishing store in Mombay, in India.  It has a new collection of bedspreads called the New Arrival Zone for India Collection, or as Mr. Todi abbreviates it, the N-A-Z-I collection.  He says he won‘t change the name.  The Indian Jewish Association says it‘s suing him. 

Number one, best attempt to get foot swiftly out of mouth.  Senator McCain asked by BeliefNet.org if there could ever be a Muslim president.  No, he said.  I have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles, personally I prefer someone who I know has a solid grounding in his faith. 

Somewhere deep in his mind an alarm bell went off.  The senator promptly added, quote, but that doesn‘t mean that I‘m sure that someone who is Muslim would not make a good president.  I don‘t say that we would rule out anyone of a different faith. 

Later he called the guy back to add, I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the best candidate able to lead the country and defend our political values.  Another ten minutes of this and he would have been claiming he was a Muslim. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The Bill O‘Reilly saga continues.  A week after the revelation of his on-air prejudiced shock that conduct a black owned New York City restaurant would be the same as at any non-black owned New York City restaurant, that no one was shouting, I want more iced tea, MF-er.  In our third story on the COUNTDOWN, with the perspective provided by that week, it is evident that the principle issue now is how to defend yourself from O‘Reilly unplugged, who responded to this story by threatening to come after, hunt down all those who criticized him, and added he fantasized about strangling all of us. 

Tonight, using state of the art video techniques, we show you what to expect when an O‘Reilly attacks and how to defend yourself.  O‘Reilly himself prolonged the story today after most of the media had moved on, writing that this is not about what he said, that it‘s about some evil conspiracies, quote, advancing their insane far-left view of the world to try to destroy anyone who disagrees with it. 

Of course, destroying people is the point of the threats O‘Reilly made last week, the ones against which we must all by vigilant. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  These people aren‘t going to get away with this.  I‘m going to go right where they live.  Every corrupt media person in this country is on notice right now, I‘m coming after you.  I‘m going to hunt you down.  And I mean it.  The smear stops here.  You‘re all on notice out there.  I‘m coming for you. 

You know, look, if I could strangle these people and not go to hell and get executed—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re not going to do that. 

O‘REILLY:  I would, but I can‘t. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Mr. O‘Reilly‘s reference to hunting you down and coming after you is a dead giveaway that he plans another onslaught of attacks by his stalker producers, the ones who followed “Denver Post” TV writer Joane Ostrow (ph) from her home to a supermarket, who dogged “WashingtonPost.com” blogger Bill Arkin (ph), who tried to do a same thing to Florida Judge Manuel Lopez until Judge Lopez called the cops and they nearly arrested O‘Reilly‘s guy.  An example of the process. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Arkin, how are you doing?  Fox News.  How‘s it going?  Mr. Arkin, can we talk to you about some of the comments you made. 

BILL ARKIN, WASHINGTONPOST.COM:  Can you leave me alone for a second. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Actually, no, we would like to talk to you for a second.  How can you say what you said?  Don‘t you think that was really hurtful and harmful to the military families, to the soldiers serving in Iraq?  Let‘s address this. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Now, the safest thing to do is to assume that Bill is sending one of these junior jag-offs with a camera to stalk us.  I do mean us.  I‘m the smear monger.  You‘re the smear mongeree (ph).  Whatever.  So, if we know they‘re coming, how do we protect ourselves?  How do we keep Bill-O from getting anything he would want or legally could put on the air?  So tonight, a special segment we call how to talk to Bill O‘Reilly‘s stalker-producer in a way that guarantees the interview does not get on the air. 

Unlike Judge Lopez in Florida, we can‘t immediately get the cops to come by at the drop of a falafel.  So here‘s what we laymen have to do.  We have to carefully prepare our answers.  You might think putting up an argument is the right way to go, the intellectual approach.  But watch and learn from our simulated interaction with a Bill-O stalker-producer just how wrong that really is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How you doing?  Fox News.  Can we talk to you about some of the comments that you made. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes, as the great philosopher Marcus Aurelius said in Germany in 49 A.D.

(END VIDEO CLIP

OLBERMANN:  Wrong.  Next thing Bill-O has launched into some old Europe diatribe and he gets to explain how his boycott of France led to that country going bankrupt or something.  Here is another response that instinctively sounds right but isn‘t. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED:  How are you doing?  Fox News.  Can we talk to you about some of the comments that you made? 

OLBERMANN:  Well, as the great Roman philosopher Marcus Aurelius once said, if Bill O‘Reilly wants to strangle somebody, I‘ll show you strangle somebody. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Again, satisfying, but Bill now has exactly what he wants and even Fox security might get involved.  So no.  Nor in our third example is this final simulated interaction the right path. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How are you doing, Fox News.  Can we talk to you about some of the comments that you made? 

OLBERMANN:  (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Bill O‘Reilly.  And (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Roger Ales.  And (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Rupert Murdoch. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Very nice.  Now you‘re also the lead story on Shepherd Smith and probably HARDBALL.  No, intellectual, physical or scatological arguments are just not going to work.  You‘re being ambushed by Bill O‘Reilly‘s minion from hell.  You have to fight fire with fire.  You, as in example number four, ambush back. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Olbermann, do you have a comment? 

OLBERMANN:  Yes, you know, I do, Scoobie Doo.  It‘s like when I was at the World War II memorial at Malmady and I was saying—

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  See, that tape will never run.  Bill-O cannot afford to have his disastrous insistence that the Americans were the war criminals at Malmady mentioned on his comedy show.  You just rendered the interview unusable, congratulations.  But he still might edit you down and run something.  So there is a stronger weapon yet to employ, as shown in our interaction example five. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Olbermann, do you have a comment? 

OLBERMANN:  Yes, I do.  Funny, I was just saying to Andrea Macris (ph) the other day. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Again an interview killing moment.  But just to be sure, the COUNTDOWN board has recommended that we all learn and employ yet a third self-defense mechanism when we‘re inevitably ambushed by little Jesse or little Porter from Fox Noise and “The O‘Reilly Fact or Fiction.” 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Olbermann, do you have is a comment? 

OLBERMANN:  Huh?  Hey, are you the kid who picks up Bill O‘Reilly‘s loofahs?  Or does he get his loofah himself?  Or does he belong to a loofah of the month clubs, where you get a subscription and the loofahs are sent directly to your house, so you have a constant supply of loofahs? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  There you have it.  When the O‘Reilly minion comes to your door to wreak revenge by proxy because Bill is too scared to try to do it himself, just keep your wits about you and keep those three words in your head.  Repeat them words in any combination, intelligible or not, and you will be safe when the Reilly attack inevitably come, Malmady, Macris, loofahs. 

A court ruling and a measure of confusion in the custody case for the spawn of Britney Spears, and there is breaking news on this in this hour. 

And worst person tonight will make your head spin.  Michael Medved defending slavery in the United States, including in his rationalization that there‘s no guarantee that the slaves or their decedents would have been wouldn‘t have been better off if they had not been kidnapped from Africa.  Seriously!  Ahead on COUNTDOWN. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Our No. 2 story keeps changing, as does the police explanation for what happened to a woman who died in their custody in Phoenix keeps changing.  Could anybody actually strangle themselves by accident with police handcuffs without actually putting their head within the chains connecting those handcuffs.  The death of a mother of three upset after having missed her flight back to a rehab clinic, herself a member of a prominent New York political family.  Our correspondent is Peter Alexander.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Airport officials say 45-year-old Carol Ann Godbob (ph) became irate when gate crews refused to let her board a U.S. Airways express flight from Phoenix to Tucson after she arrived late. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yelling and screaming, being disorderly, running around the concourse. 

ALEXANDER:  Police handcuffed Godbob when they she say her tirade continued. 

SGT ANDY HILL, PHOENIX POLICE DEPT:  She was taken into custody for disorderly conduct, arrested, taken to a holding room in terminal four.  Some time during the time she was in custody, she went into medical distress and expired at the scene. 

ALEXANDER:  Godbob‘s family wants answers. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  At this moment, we are awaiting the results of the investigation. 

ALEXANDER:  She was a mother of three, and the daughter-in-law of prominent New York City public advocate Betsy Godbob, who spoke on Sunday outside her New York apartment.   

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Carol was a wonderful, wonderful person.  She was a wonderful mother.  She was sweet and kind and loving. 

ALEXANDER:  Phoenix investigators believe Carol Ann may have tried to get out of the handcuffs, accidentally choking herself to death. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When the officers found her, the handcuffs were up against her neck area. 

ALEXANDER:  A final cause of death will come from the medical examiner.  Until then, police will continue their investigation. 

Peter Alexander, NBC News, Los Angeles. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  We‘ll move on to our nightly roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, Keeping Tabs.  Country singer Keith Urban got into a slight motorcycle accident today in Sydney, Australia.  He was not injured.  In a statement, he said he was driving to an Alcoholic‘s Anonymous meeting and sped up because he felt he was being pursued by a photographer and crashed because a drive in front of him made an illegal u-turn.  Apparently the step where you take responsibility for your actions still in progress. 

Mr Urban did say that the paparazzo came to his assistance after the crash without taking any pictures.  Urban first checked himself into rehab a year ago less than four months after his marriage to the actress Nicole Kidman. 

As happens once a generation, America is going nuts for the musical styling of someone with Billy Ray Cyrus‘ genes.  This time, luckily, it is his daughter Mylie, so we don‘t have to hear “Ackey Breaky Heart” again.  Mylie, as your kid knows, stars as Hannah Montana on the Disney show of the same name.  If your kid wants to see her live on tour, now is the time to have that we have to make decisions about how we spend our money talk.  The 54 city tour has sold out in minutes, especially in cities where there is nothing else for kids to do. 

One ticket, one ticket sold for 2,565 dollars in Charlotte, North Carolina, because when it comes to spending and our kids, who needs the money more than Disney and the Cyrus family. 

An actual ruling from a court, a great deal of confusion and late answers as to why about who gets custody of the children of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline.  That‘s ahead.  First time for COUNTDOWN‘s worst persons in the world.

Our second runner up, White House press secretary Dana Perino, answering a question today about the killing or jailing of protesters and even monks in Myanmar, the former Burma.  Quoting her, reports about very innocent people being thrown into detention where they could be held for years without any representation or charges is distressing. 

You got a map?  You know where Florida is?  Go to the right, lower, lower, bottom of that long thin island there.  Read what it says, right, Guantanamo Bay.  Now go look up reports about very innocent people being thrown into detention where they could be held for years without any representation or charges by your bosses at Guantanamo Bay. 

Our silver tonight to David Hunt, former Army colonel, now Fixed News analyst.  Apparently out of the country the last month or so, criticizing the active military hierarchy for its treatment of American service personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, and opening his column with this sentence, quote, our generals are betraying our soldiers again.

If you say that about one general, Congress passes a resolution calling you a stinker.  If you say that about all of them, you‘re a Fox News analyst. 

But the winner, Michael Medved, writing and posting at TownHall.com a defense of slavery in the United States.  He calls it “Six Inconvenient Truths About the U.S. and Slavery.”  I don‘t have time for the whole thing.  But some of the highlights.  Number two, slavery existed only briefly and in limited locales in the history of the republic, involving only a tiny percentage of the ancestors of today‘s Americans. 

Number six, quote, there is no reason to believe that today‘s African-Americans would be better off if their ancestors had remained behind in Africa. 

Mike, you heard about Appommatox Courthouse, Jefferson Davis getting arrested and stuff?  Michael, good god, go back to reviewing movies, Medved, today‘s Worst Person in the World. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Britney Spears has lost physical custody of her two children.  Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, that new status might not last.  But for now her ex-husband Kevin Federline has retained physical custody of Sean Preston and Jayden James, quote, until further order of the court.  And until further notice, Ms. Spears‘ lip synching, comeback thrashing and parked car hitting behavior has been eclipsed by this, her most sobering brush with reality to date. 

A court order issued today by Commissioner Scott Warden of the Los Angeles superior court that the respondent Kevin Federline, quote, is to retain physical conduct of the minor children on Wednesday, October 3rd 2007 until further order of the court. 

Wait, Commissioner Gordon?  Anyway, the word retains implies that Mr.  Federline already has physical custody of the children and at noon Wednesday will retain that custody.  There appears to be a further hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.  In a court order two weeks ago, Ms.  Spears was given a long list of requirements to retain 50/50 custody.  The website TMZ.com now reporting at this hour that Ms. Spears ignored most, if not all of it, that she did not submit herself to drug and alcohol tests or meet with a drug counselor or enroll in a parenting class. 

TMZ also reporting Commissioner Gordon was livid.  Commissioner Gordon was livid over the fact that she had driven her car without a valid license over this past weekend.  Let‘s call in the lawyer who is also chief correspondent for “Inside Edition,” my old colleague, Jim Moret.  Jim, good evening.

JIM MORET, “INSIDE EDITION”:  Good evening.  Good to see you back and healthy. 

OLBERMANN:  Thank you, sir.  Before we get into what might have prompted this and many things come to mind, there seems to be some vagueness here.  What is your reading of this court order itself? 

MORET:  It‘s vague for one major reason.  The court has ordered all of the transcripts and the hearings closed and sealed.  They‘re doing this because this is a family court.  It doesn‘t matter to them if there‘s a celebrity before them.  The fact is the safety and well-being of these kids is first and foremost in the court‘s mind.  So we are kept out. 

That‘s why we don‘t really know why the custody was taken away from Britney Spears.  But you went over a laundry list of things.  You talked about driving without a license.  She was basically charged about a week ago with hit and run and for driving without a California driver‘s license.  On Friday, “Inside Edition” uncovered the fact that she‘s never had a valid driver‘s license in California, has always been driving with her kids and, as you mentioned, did so over the weekend. 

So Kevin Federline‘s attorney went into court on Friday and then again today, presumably to bring up that very point. 

OLBERMANN:  Until today, Jim, this custody was a 50/50 split.  Do we know what the order does to that?  Is that much clarity available? 

MORET:  We do know there is sole physical custody for Kevin Federline.  There‘s a split between physical and legal custody.  Legal custody simply means that with respect to decisions that you make about the children, where they go to school and so forth, there may be 50/50 legal custody.  But right now the court has basically said those kids are going to live with and stay with their father.  And that‘s very unusual in California.  It‘s clearly a blow to Britney Spears. 

OLBERMANN:  The findings and the instructions from two weeks ago were apparently quite explicit.  This Commissioner Gordon—that just rolls off the tongue in a weird way—reported habitual, frequent and continuous use of controlled substances and alcohol by the petitioner, referring to Ms.  Spears.  And she was ordered to meet with a counselor once a week to work with a parenting coach, at least eight hours a week in at least two sessions and submit to drug and alcohol testing, as we mentioned previously. 

Given all that, you described it as a laundry list.  There were a lot of ways Britney Spears might have gotten the court‘s attention here, correct? 

MORET:  Yes, and I‘ll tell you one problem for her is that she‘s followed around the clock by paparazzi.  At that court hearing that you‘re mentioning where the judge said, you have to have random drug tests twice a week, what does she do that night?  She goes to a club.  Exactly what the judge said she shouldn‘t do.  You know what, even though the paparazzi footage is not a matter of court record, judges read TMZ.  They watch “Inside Edition.”  They watch your program.  They read the newspaper.  They see that she‘s not abiding by the spirit, if not the letter of the court order. 

It is almost like throwing in it their face.  They care about one thing—they don‘t care if she is Britney Spears, pop star or train wreck, they care about the safety and well-being of those kids.  In this case, this judge is obviously concerned enough that he said, Britney Spears, you shouldn‘t have these kids.  They belong with their father or somewhere where they‘re safe. 

OLBERMANN:  Jim, is there a chance that Mr. Federline and his attorneys have made sure that these things that the paparazzi caught got to the attention of the commissioner and the judge and everyone else? 

MORET:  I read one report today, I believe in the “Chicago Sun Times,” that indicated that Britney Spears herself is calling paparazzi to tell them where she‘s going to be, because according to one of the people around her, she feels that if she‘s not written about on a daily basis, people will forget about her.  And it‘s my experience that the paparazzi have to be tipped off by someone.  And often it‘s the celebrity themselves.  And that really makes this sadder still in my opinion. 

OLBERMANN:  Is there a legal strategy at this point on her—from her point of view, what to do next?  Does it involve throwing yourself on the mercy of the court and throwing yourself in rehab immediately. 

MORET:  I think it‘s a longer process than that.  If I were her attorney, I‘d say you got to shape up.  It will take time.  She‘s going to have to be evaluated.  This isn‘t something where she can say, judge, I got my driver‘s license, I‘m fine now, because there are more problems here.  She‘s got to show that she‘s living a life where those kids are not going to be put in jeopardy, that she‘s not going to clubs, that she wears underwear, that she listens to the court and takes a parenting course and follows and lives just like you and I would live, responsibly. 

I think that that may very well take a few months for this court to say, OK, you know what you?  Should have your kids back or at least 50/50. 

OLBERMANN:  Jim Moret, senior correspondent for “Inside Edition” and attorney as well.  Jim, as always, great to talk to you, sir.

MORET:  Thanks, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this 1,615th day since the declaration 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.

END   

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