updated 10/5/2007 11:16:38 AM ET 2007-10-05T15:16:38

Guests: John Dean , Chris Cillizza, Neal Katyal, Rachel Maddow, Alex Borstein

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  After the party, we‘ll have party pictures tomorrow night.  Please, join us.        

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

Our government‘s violation of international covenance is a doubleheader.  The Bush administration tortured.  And in December 2004 it renounced tortured.  And then Alberto Gonzales found a new way to resume torturing.  And last July Mr. Bush reauthorized holding prisoners in so-called black sites. 

The documents have now leaked and today through his press blast, the president is still lying about it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I will reiterate to you, once again, that we do not torture.  We want to make sure that we keep this country safe. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Neal Katyal, one of the lawyers who reigned in Gitmo on the second wave of Bush administration torture.

John Dean on what this administration has turned this nation into. 

The phony soldiers cover up continues.  Now, Rush Limbaugh said he never compared anti-war Sergeant Brian McGuff to a suicide bomber.  No, all he did was claim that critics were:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  ... lying to him about what I said and strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  That doesn‘t mean suicide bomber.  If this lasts much longer, Rush Limbaugh will deny he has a radio show. 

The ruling from a Minnesota judge.  Senator Larry Craig may not withdraw his guilty plea, so he will serve out his term and he wants it clear his name in hearings. 

And a mighty roar goes up from the Democrats. 

And a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little mind, wrote Emerson. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It‘s interesting that Hillary is taking something from a George McGovern playbook. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Who did Giuliani support in the 1972 election?  George McGovern.

Fred Thompson warns that we can‘t look for help on Iran from the Soviet Union.  Yesterday he says this.  You know since you did that red October movie that kind of went out of business and changed the—never mind. 

All that and more, now, on Countdown.         

OLBERMANN (on camera):  Good evening.  The one thing the White House learned from its 2004 showdown at the bedside of Attorney General John Ashcroft, the one that resulted in the near rebellion of all top Justice officials after they refused to authorize the eavesdropping of Americans without warrants, the one thing the White House learned was to make sure it never happened again not by complying with the legal concerns of the Justice Department but, instead, installing a new attorney general, who guaranteed to break whatever laws the White House might wish or want. 

Our fifth story on the Countdown, not content to sign off on the infamous 2002 torture memo, Alberto Gonzales, in one of his first acts as attorney general, approved a second document in February 2005, endorsing the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the CIA.

Gonzo, but not forgotten, the legacy of Mr. Gonzales continuing to stink up the joint that our nation has become. 

In February 2005, that Justice Department issuing a secret opinion on torture that provided, according to the “New York Times” today, explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with painful, physical and psychological tactics, including head slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures. 

Two months before, when the Justice Department was still under the leadership of John Ashcroft, the White House issued a statement saying that, quote, “torture is abhorrent.”  Abhorrent?  Approved, but abhorrent.

The 2005 memo was written by the Justice Department‘s Office of Legal Council with the blessing and oversight of one man, David Addington, Vice President Cheney‘s then-chief counsel, not his chief of staff. 

As a sign of just how distasteful the Ashcroft Justice Department found the legal stylings, Attorney General Ashcroft, having referred privately to the author of the 2002 torture memo, John Yoo, as Dr. Yes, for his seeming eagerness to give the White House what legal justifications it wanted. 

Once the 2005 torture memo had been drafted, Mr. Ashcroft‘s deputy, James Comey, who had stayed on after Ashcroft‘s resignation, telling colleagues they would all be, quote, “ashamed” when the world eventually learned of the document. 

At the White House today, Dana Perino not so much ashamed as in complete denial. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERINO:  Under the United States interpretation and we, and that December 2004 opinion that is publicly available at the Justice Department for everyone to see, we believe that we are following our laws and that we are meeting our international obligations in order to prevent attacks on Americans and our allies.  And we‘re meeting that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  As for those international obligations, Ms. Perino believing that Geneva Conventions would be unconventional and entirely open to interpretation. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERINO:  As I understand it, under the Geneva Convention, every country interprets it for themselves and now we have. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Time to turn to Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean, the author of new book of “Broken Government.” 

John, thanks for your time tonight. 

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL AND AUTHOR:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  James Comey warning colleagues at Justice that they would be ashamed when word broke.  Does shame cover how they feel?  How egregious is it for the Bush administration to publicly declare itself out of the torture business and endorsing and expanding an interrogation techniques to make them harsher than the torture from before? 

DEAN:  Well, I think, first of all, that the former attorney deputy general, these people do not feel shame.  It is not a reaction they know or have or they would have had it long ago.  The fact that they‘re now proceeding as they have is, indeed, outrageous.  And I think that this is one of these issues that we will most all hope that Congress looks a little closer at because of the double speak that we‘re now being confronted with. 

OLBERMANN:  The White House Press Secretary, Ms. Perino, still smilingly asserting today that the administration does not engage in, nor authorize torture.  Is a circular argument, we‘re not doing it because we say we‘re not doing or just trust us, is that still cutting it at this point? 

DEAN:  I don‘t believe it is.  It‘s Orwellian in its logic.  They‘re doing this with other areas and they‘re just thinking because they say it, a lot of people will, in fact, believe it.  I think the overwhelming majorities now have lost all faith and trust in this administration and its ability to tell the truth.  It‘s a sad commentary and it may get worse before it even gets better before they‘re gone. 

OLBERMANN:  John, two months before the secret memo had been drawn up, the administration had publicly declared torture—there‘s that word again—abhorrent.  It didn‘t repudiate that stance when it redefined the interrogation techniques.  Is it possible we‘re not dealing with duplicity, but some sort of dementia, that they think this is not torture because they know they‘re not the kind of people when torture? 

DEAN:  Well, Keith, that would be a possible way to think, except for the fact that they‘re trying to change the federal law that makes it a crime in the United States to engage in torture or to violate the Geneva Convention provisions.  They specifically sought exceptions in these laws.  And not only should the Congress not exceed to their request, but extend the statute of limitations for another five years and make it a ten-year statute of limitations so people would have vulnerability if these things can be surfaced and dugout because it‘s the only way to make the point, indeed, these are real laws.  Otherwise, it‘s a joke it have them. 

OLBERMANN:  Every time, John, you and I sit here and we think we have gotten to the bottom of how quickly to the bottom this administration is taking, not just their government, but the nature, the meaning of our government, we turn out to have underestimated them or maybe overestimated them.  Do you have a clear picture tonight in light of what we saw in the “New York Times” today of just how bad this is, just how far from the United States of America, you know 1990, 1980, 1970, this government really is? 

DEAN:  Well, let me tell you one of the thoughts and conservative thinking encircles today.  They felt very bad when Ronald Reagan left office with a 60 percent approval rating.  They thought, that‘s just a waste.  They want their president to not be loved, to not be particularly respected.  They want him to drive their agenda and, so Bush as he heads on down with these kinds of policies being revealed, is doing exactly what the core of his party wants him to do.  So, I don‘t—it may get down to single digits and then he won‘t, he won‘t die rich, so to speak. 

OLBERMANN:  Nixon‘s White House Counsel John Dean author of “Broken Government.”  Thank you for perspective and your time tonight. 

DEAN:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  For more on what might be done to stop the Bush administration, we want to turn to someone who had great success doing just that, the man who argued to the Supreme Court, leading the justices there to rule that the Geneva Conventions applied to prisoners, even ones that might belong to al Qaeda. 

Joining us is Neal Katyal, Georgetown University professor. 

Thank you for your time tonight, sir. 

NEAL KATYAL, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  The president supposedly stopped water boarding after Hamadan (ph), at the insistence of the court, supposedly they all closed the black sites.  And now today we‘re learning of renewed, enhanced interrogation and Bush authorizing new black sites.  If even the U.S. Supreme court can‘t convince the Bush administration that these actions are illegal, justices can‘t bring a halt to this, who can and how? 

KATYAL:  Well, you know, it‘s interesting, not only the Supreme Court can‘t bring a halt to this, the Constitution of the United States itself, Keith, evidently can‘t halt what they‘re doing. 

I mean, it‘s really remarkable for people who claim to bash the notion of a living Constitution.  These people manage to take the administration to take their Constitutional advice from cast of the hit show “24” rather than from the founders of our Constitution itself. 

I mean, it is really remarkable.  The only way I think that we will be able to return to some sense of normalcy is if we have principled officials like the man you were talking about a moment ago, Jim Comey or Jack Goldsmith, responsible people.  They can be conservative as those individuals were, but they just have to fundamental belief in the concept of law and these, this administration doesn‘t.  They think they‘re above the greatest document we ever had, the Constitution of the United States. 

OLBERMANN:  That you were being metaphorical about “24,” but you‘re not.  We have instances of that, too.  Let me ask you about one thing here from the “Times” report in the case of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad the “New York Times” reported—and I‘ll read it exactly, “The variety of tough tactics were used about 100 times over two weeks on Mr. Muhammad, but many of his statements proved exaggerated or false because the CIA‘s initial interrogators were not experts on his background or al Qaeda.”

So, we‘re doing it immorally and asking the wrong questions and getting answers made up under torture that mean nothing and lead us in the wrong directions.  Setting aside the legalities and the ethics have you been clear why we‘re doing this, what the purpose is? 

KATYAL:  Well, the administration has been so busy loop-holing the Constitution and our treaties that they haven‘t realized a lot of techniques that work.  Torture has been shown not to work because people give misleading information.  So lots of stuff they can do. 

So, what is really about, it‘s not about security and national security, what all this torture stuff is about and all these secret opinions about something much more basic, that‘s what you‘re pointing to, Keith, is about incompetence.  The fact that we had more than six years since those horrible attacks after 9/11 and the administration hasn‘t managed to prosecute anyone.  Instead, what they‘ve done is gamble on reckless theories that get struck down in the courts and that have managed to blot the reputation of the United States around the world. 

OLBERMANN:  Neal, does not this raise the question about how much more this administration might be doing, might have been doing, that we do not know about, that there‘s a public administration as well as a shallow government using the dark side, literally, figuratively, morally? 

KATYAL:  Absolutely.  So hard to have a discussion about this because we don‘t know where the bottom of this is, or if we‘re at only the tip of the iceberg.  The thing that worries me the most is the chief enabler of incompetence is government secrecy.  And this administration has been a master at government secrecy.  They classify everything.  They classify their views on the Constitution of the United States itself. 

What this is about, again, it‘s not national security.  It‘s about covering up for their incompetence. 

I mean, Keith, I spent two years as national security adviser that Justice Department.  I believe in classification for appropriate reasons.  What these people have done have mocked the classification rules.  What they‘re doing is really covering up for their legal incompetence. 

We had an amazing story this week in which the number two official at the Justice Department, Jim Comey, it was found out, couldn‘t even learn about the NSA program because the administration feared, once he learned about it, he would strike it down.  That‘s the number two person in our Justice Department they cut out of the loop. 

OLBERMANN:  Are we now at the stage that we all read or saw in a movie somewhere, political science fiction where the government has been, for one of a better word, usurped, taken over, that the freedoms are already gone?  Are we at that point now? 

KATYAL:  Well, would we be even able to know that question?  The problem is they classified even that, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Neal Katyal, the law professor at Georgetown University, the key lawyer in Hamadan case.  As always, sir, thank you for your work and thank you for your time. 

KATYAL:  Thank you, Keith.           

Senator Larry Craig has changed his mind for resigning for a third time and then, again, it‘s only third.  The applause you heard today was from the Democrats. 

And no applause here. Rush Limbaugh denying when he said lies, were strapped to an anti-war Iraq vet who was then sent to walk into as many people as he could walk into.  He denies he was making any kind of analogy to a suicide bomber.  He is offering it sell that vet commercial time on his show, while his bosses refused to sell that vet commercial time on his show. 

You‘re watching “Countdown” on MSNBC.                 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Halloween is several weeks away, but for the Republican Party, it‘s already pretty spooky.  For the Democratic Party, it‘s already Christmas.  Senator Larry Craig cannot withdraw his plea and will not withdraw from the Senate.  The defiant, to say the least, Idaho Senator losing another round in his summer-long fight to hang on to his Senate seat after a problem with a toilet seat. 

Today, a Minnesota judge rejecting a legal move to throw out his plea of guilty after he was caught in a sex sting operation last June.  The judge ruling the plea to misdemeanor disorderly conduct was accurate, voluntary and intelligent.  And Craig‘s conviction supported by evidence. 

Craig said he might resign if that ruling occurred, but he has changed his mind, again, as he did after this mug shot and a taped conversation with an undercover cop made headlines.  Craig hinted at resignation and then felt pressure to plead guilty and vowed to fight. 

Craig saying the Minneapolis airport men‘s room encounter was not an attempt it solicit sex but an understanding based on wide stance and wiggling fingers. 

Republican colleagues hoped he would wiggle his fingers in a wave good-bye, but it never seems to come.   Now he is pushing for hearings. 

It‘s not surprising that the Senator issued this statement after today‘s ruling, quote, “I am extremely disappointed with the ruling today.  I am innocent of the charges against me.  I continue to work with my legal team to explore my additional legal options.  I will continue my effort to clear my name in the Senate Ethics, something that is not possible if I‘m not serving in my Senate.  When my term is expired, I will retire.” 

Chris Cillizza, of Reports Politics for washingtonpost.com, joins us right now.

Chris, good evening. 

CHRIS CILLIZZA, POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTONPOST.COM:  Good evening, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  All right, so, can you quantify or qualify the reaction so far?  Might Republican leadership be considering exorcism at this point? 

CILLIZZA:  I‘ve been on the show and said he will never last until September 30th and, so, look, the Republican leadership isn‘t happy.  John Enzi, who chairs the Senate Republican campaign arm, issued a release saying Larry Craig needs to go.  This is not acceptable any more.  He needs to—we don‘t want the prospect of public hearings. 

You know, I think you‘ll see more and more people follow that.  But ultimately they don‘t have that much recourse.  Shame usually pushes these people out and it hasn‘t yet. 

OLBERMANN:  So, his attorney also says he may yet appeal this ruling in Minneapolis today, but two issues here:  Larry Craig‘s behavior and the response of his party.  Are they worried about particularly the far right, which is already kind of soft on Giuliani, threatening this weak to abandon the party over the possibility of a pro-choice candidate going with the third party?  Are these two things conflating in some way? 

CILLIZZA:  I think they‘re more worried—look the base of the party is not energized in any way, shape or form from immigration or not happy with President Bush.  The money numbers you‘re seeing people like Giuliani, Thompson raise, which are half, sometimes one-third of what the Democrats are raising.  The base is not excited, period.

I think what they‘re worried about is this keeps Larry Craig in the public eye, which is the exact opposite of what they want.  They want Larry Craig to go away.  Go back to Idaho and deal with whatever you want to deal with, but don‘t stay in the Senate.  He‘s not up there voting every single day. 

Every candidate for president, Giuliani, Thompson, Romney, McCain, are going to have to answer questions.  Do you think Larry Craig should be expelled?  Do you think Larry Craig should resign?  They don‘t want to answer a question that has Larry Craig in the sentence at all.  It‘s a problem they don‘t want to have. 

The recourse is hard, it‘s a process.  You have to go through hearing and the Senate Ethics Committee has to rule.  They just can‘t say, Larry Craig, you need it go, this is bad for us politically.  If they could, he would have been gone a long time ago. 

OLBERMANN:  Joe McCarthy got censured.  They didn‘t even throw Joe McCarthy out.

CILLIZZA:  It‘s a fascinating thing because this now forces the Senate, which, if you ever watched the Senate floor, the most collegial of bodies you could imagine.  People who are archenemies rhetorically in public are hugging and back slapping.  This requires them to really turn on one of their own in a real and substantial way and it‘s not what they like to do. 

OLBERMANN:  Craig also said in this the statement here that one reason he‘s staying is that he‘s achieved and accumulated this seniority and important committee assignments, which benefit Idaho in thousands of different ways.  But he stepped down temporarily from those committee positions.  What are the odds he‘ll get them back? 

CILLIZZA:  Is there a number less than zero I can say?  There isn‘t a lot of a chance.  As I said, the leadership is totally against this move.  I think Senator Craig is trying to justify why he would continue to stay on and citing things like being on committees as part of that. 

The simple reality here is this is someone who was a total lone wolf now, separated from his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.  I think you and I have talked about this before, I think this may be about rehabbing his image as it relates to his family more than politically. 

His political career is over, whether it‘s over today or over when he steps down in 2008.  But I think it may be about trying to prove to his family that he really is innocent.  If he stepped away before the Senate Ethics Committee ruled, if he didn‘t fight all his legal options out, he would feel as though he was admitting guilt of some sort, which, of course, frankly, he has already done to that officer in Minnesota. 

OLBERMANN:  Now, it‘s trying to revoke his emotion of guilt.  We‘re past the original stage but you can understand the mentality there. 

Chris Cillizza, proprietor of “The Fix”, the political blog at the Washington Post, as all of us now trot out those thousands of jokes we did not use out of respect to Senator Craig.  Thanks, Chris. 

CILLIZZA:  Thank you, Keith.         

OLBERMANN:  Either Fred Thompson knows something the rest of us do not know about geopolitics or we know something he doesn‘t know.  Is latest gaff?  Don‘t look for help for Iran from the Soviet Union.  The hunt for Fred‘s acumen.

How many things are wrong with this picture?  If that‘s the new 2008 Republican National Conventional logo, why is the elephant blue?

Ahead, on “Countdown.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Exactly half a century ago CBS premiers the ‘50s and ‘60s family sitcom “Leave it to Beaver.”  Contrary to every joke told in the ensuing 50 years, at no point in the six seasons of the program, did Barbara Billingsly, as the impossible prim June Cleaver, turn to her husband and say, “Don‘t you think you were hard on the Beaver last night?”  However, it is a well-documented fact that she did once have to intone this line, quote, “Ward, I‘m very worried about the Beaver.”

Let‘s play “Oddball.”

It was the kid‘s name.  We begin in Glasglow, Scotland, with reason 3872, why soccer has not succeeded in our land.  Celtics scored against A.C. Milan, one of their fans charged the pitch, tapping Milan‘s goalkeeper as he ran by and that‘s the most ridiculous times recorded by mankind.  The goalie chases after the fan, then he falls to the ground, rising in facial agony.  He got carried off the field.  The pitch with an ice pack strapped to his face.  By our reckoning his reaction did pale in comparison to that of Carson City commissioner, Jane Schaefer, who sustained a similar injury last year.  Down goes Schaefer.

Go to south, we go south from Glasgow to London for a lesson in bike safety.  This is what happens when you stand way too close to the platform edge at train time.  The cyclist survived the initial crash but he was forced to scamper out of the way of an incoming train.  We‘re guessing that bike is now a big paper weight. 

Rush Limbaugh now denying he was comparing the VoteVets.org spokesman soldier to a, quote, “suicide bomber,” even though he described him as if he were wearing the apparatus of a suicide bomber. 

And Alex Borstein, Lois from “Family Guy,” joins us on Fred Thompson not having heard about the fall of the Soviet Union and not knowing the Republicans were in charge of the Senate in 2005. 

These stories ahead, but first time for our goof balls and good guys.  Here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world.

Number three, best argument against recycling, Tsuyoshi Kurosawa, crewman on the Japanese tanker Sakuru Maro (ph).  He fell overboard at sea without a life jacket.  He floated for ten hours clinging to an empty three liter plastic soda bottle. 

Number two, best side income, Reverend Sheyrima Silveira of Oregon, who newly weds Sean and Caty Sonenchine (ph) found on Craig‘s List and hired to conduct their wedding ceremony.  The couple‘s kitchen needed significant remodeling.  They asked their 100 or so guests for contributions in lieu of standard wedding gifts.  But after the ceremony they were surprised to find that only three or four gift cards were left. 

About a week later surveillance video at a local Home Depot showed a bunch of those gift cards being redeemed there by Reverend Silveira.  She thought they were her tip. 

Number one, best conscience, Senator John McCain.  Asked again about Rush Limbaugh and the phony soldiers and he nailed it, even for those who might actually believe Limbaugh‘s far fetched claim that while real soldiers to him are ones that want to be in Iraq, phony soldiers, that was just a reference to one guy who pretended to be a vet.  Says the senator, I did issue a statement saying that I thought it was inappropriate, and perhaps Mr. Limbaugh didn‘t mean it.  But he should not have said it.  The one and only correct answer, Senator McCain.  Our grateful congratulations. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Rush Limbaugh is a coward, not because he got a deferment to avoid the draft, not even because he described a purple heart recipient from Iraq as one who would be described as a suicide bomber, and then wined because critics noted that he had compared Sergeant McGough to a suicide bomber, but because, in our third story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, Rush Limbaugh is hiding behind his bosses, asking them to protect him from having an ad made by Sergeant McGough and those Iraq war vets air during his program on his home station in Palm Beach, Florida. 

The group Vote Vets aired this TV ad yesterday, the same day we spoke with the man you see there, Sergeant McGough, in response to Limbaugh‘s claim that anti-war soldiers are phony soldiers.  They produced a radio version of the ad designed to air during Limbaugh‘s program.  Yesterday, WJNO in Palm Beach banned the ad from Limbaugh‘s show, a spokesman saying, quote, “airing anti-Rush Limbaugh commercials during the Rush Limbaugh show would only conflict with the listeners who have chosen to listen to Rush Limbaugh.” 

Making it official now, Limbaugh‘s fans must be actively protected from any opposing views.  This despite Clear Channel‘s written defense of Limbaugh to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday, which read, quote, “The first amendment gives every American the right to voice his or her opinion, no matter how unpopular.  That right is one that I am sure you agree must be cherished and protected.” 

Even more astonishingly, Limbaugh today responded to Sergeant McGough‘s remarks on hour program yesterday, still too afraid to have the sergeant on, but saying to him, quote, “there‘s something I can do and I‘m in the process of doing it.  If you buy time on my affiliates, we use your money to make money for my stations, so it‘s win-win.”

This public lie after Limbaugh‘s own radio affiliate secretly denied the sergeant his right to buy airtime because Limbaugh and his listeners are too scared to hear opposing views, even from a man gravely wounded fighting their war. 

We turn, once again, in this matter to Rachel Maddow, whose programs airs weeknights on Air America radio.  Rachel, thanks for your time. 

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO:  Hi, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  And we will note, as you have, that you too air on some Clear Channel stations.  We got that out of the way.  Conservatives used to accuse the left of saying there is no such thing as absolute truth.  Everything is relative, open to interpretation.  Is that not the definition of what Limbaugh is doing here when his comparison between real and phony soldiers was undeniable and his reference of strapping on lies and sending someone out among people was just as clear? 

MADDOW:  Yes, conservatives have made this case that there is an observable truth out there that conservatives can see and liberals think it‘s open to interpretation.  And it‘s much the same line that Rush came up with when I was still in preschool and he started this whole right wing talk radio thing.  He realized that telling people that the world is lying to you and every other form of media is lying to you, but I will tell you the truth—he realized that that is a great way to run a cult.  It‘s also a great way to run a talk radio empire. 

The question is whether or not that schtick, which he has had going my entire adult life now, whether that schtick survives when there is an observable truth.  There is a tape.  There is a transcript.  That transcript does not comport with his denials. 

OLBERMANN:  And why, on the other end of this—we talk about his responsibility.  Where is the media‘s responsibility, the non-Limbaugh media, when it continues to use phrases like apparently or implied or seems to suggest when describing these remarks, when the transcript of both these incidents we‘re now talking about and the audio and the context are clear.  There‘s no misinterpretation. 

He referred to what real soldiers were to him and what phony soldiers were to him.  And he referred to the apparatus that is involved in strapping on lies, in this case, rather than a bomb.  But he described this man as the equivalent of a suicide bomber. 

MADDOW:  Right, but when people are reporting on it, they have to put in these allegedly, open to interpretation, some see it as him—I mean, this is another one of those stories of fake balance striking again, where there is this idea that there has to be two sides to each story.  In this case, the two sides are the observable truth that is on tape, of which there is a transcript, and then a guy lying about it.  That isn‘t two sides to the story, but it has to be represented that way, as if his perspective on it is somehow equally true or equally valid. 

OLBERMANN:  I‘m having a problem following one line of thought in this, though.  On Tuesday, Clear Channel defended Limbaugh based on the premise of free speech.  On Wednesday, the place Clear Channel place in Palm Beach defended Limbaugh by denying others their free speech, even if they were willing to pay for their free speech on their stations.  Now today Limbaugh encourages Sergeant McGough to buy advertising time on his show. 

Even if I‘m dealing with a reformed drug addict, this sounds still a little too strung out for me to follow.  What is going on here?  Do you know? 

MADDOW:  I don‘t know for sure.  But what it seems like to me is that he‘s—it‘s an embarrassing situation he‘s been caught in, because part of his image is that he is this chest thumping, say it to my face kind of guy.  And now it has turned out that he has to be protected from people who would actually say it to his face, who would actually go on his program to disagree with him.  You know, in the talk radio world, as much as I disagree with Rush Limbaugh, he‘s on a ton of stations, and he has a solid gold microphone, and he‘s supposed to be the grand pappy of the genre.

And this just makes him seem like this sniveling, sad coward who has to be protected, even on his own show.  It‘s very sad. 

OLBERMANN:  Lastly, I need to tap into your radio skills to interpret for me a clip from Limbaugh‘s program.  Let‘s play this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  We have a montage of this morning and last night.  We have Joe Scarborough of MSNBC, John Roberts of CNN, Willie Geist of MSNBC, somebody else on MSNBC and Norah O‘Donnell. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re going to hear for the next five days how Rush Limbaugh called this guy a suicide bomber. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Limbaugh called this guy a suicide bomber. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Metaphor to say he‘s like a suicide bomber. 

OLBERMANN:  Comparing that soldier to a suicide bomber. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Especially comparing him to a suicide bomber. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Now, the somebody else on MSNBC would be me, and personally, I have to thank Limbaugh for not mentioning my name, because to me anything that he says sounds profane.  So I‘m delighted if this is a new policy.  But not to get too self-referential on this, Rachel; first, it was O‘Reilly, now it‘s Limbaugh.  Is there some magical power released by mentioning my name that they‘re afraid of?  If so, could someone let me in on the secret, because I have not been using it effectively for 47 years? 

MADDOW:  I can‘t let you in on the secret, Keith, because the talk radio gods will revoke my fart sound effect.  They will take away all my power in talk radio. 

OLBERMANN:  It‘s like a Voldemort thing.  Rachel Maddow of Air America, great thanks, as always. 

MADDOW:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Rudy Giuliani invokes George McGovern‘s 1972 presidential campaign as an insult against Hillary Clinton, which wouldn‘t be funny except that in 1972 Rudy Giuliani voted for George McGovern. 

And Britney Spears custody—I‘m sorry, I stopped trying on this story.  Ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Our number two story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, Keeping Tabs, and the reigning queen of celebrity gossip appears to be more concerned about keeping herself in the public eye than keeping her kids.  While her ex-husband was in court yesterday for the custody hearing, Britney Spears was out on the town driving to gas stations with paparazzi in tow. 

Then, after losing physical custody, at least for now, Ms. Spears did not go home for peace and quiet reflection.  Instead, she battled through photographers yet again and spent the night at yet a different L.A. hotel.  As far as what she has to do to get her two boys back, the court commissioner, Scott Gordon—Commissioner Gordon—detailed in his court order that she must take previously mandated drug and alcohol testing, that she has to go to counseling, and attend parenting classes, and that every visit with her kids must be monitored, but maybe she might get some help from Dr. Phil.  The TV shrink is glomming onto this, offering to sit down with her one to one, to, quote, to look her in the eye and tell her the truth. 

Turning from an ugly custody battle to an ugly divorce, Kid Rock, husband to Pamela Anderson for less than four months, said he thinks she lied about miscarrying their baby.  Telling “Rolling Stone” Magazine that, quote, she‘s in Vancouver shooting a movie and I have Lakers seats on the floor, and I‘m going to go to the Lakers‘ game with my friend Jesse James.  I‘m like, baby, I got these tickets.  I‘ll see you on the weekend there.  And that lead to her saying, you don‘t care about me, blah, blah, blah.  She finally comes up with this, I just had a miscarriage, and hangs the phone up. 

Pamela Anderson did not deny the allegation, but she told the magazine she wishes Kid Rock would stop talking about her unless he has something good it say.  Ms. Anderson, you‘ve been in show business for what, five minute? 

Rudy Giuliani uses George McGovern as an insult after having vote for George McGovern when he ran for president.  Fred Thompson evidently does not know the Soviet Union disbanded 16 years ago.  We‘ll go through this with Alex Borstein from “Family Guy.”

First time for COUNTDOWN‘s worst persons in the world.  The bronze to Lieutenant James Tatro (ph) of the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department.  He helped organize teams of deputies patrolling Lakewood, Bellflower, Paramont, Artesia and Hawaiian gardens, all cities in southeast L.A.  What did the teams compete in?  Events called Operation Any Booking, Operation Vehicle Impound, Operation Question Gang Members, contests to see how many people each team could arrest or how many cars they could get towed or whatever in a 24-hour period. 

It‘s just a friendly competition to have a little fun out there, Lieutenant Tatro told “The L.A. Times,” and I‘m sure that‘s how any innocent people arrested or folks who had their cars towed improperly feel about it too, officer. 

The runner up tonight, Emmett Terrell Jr. (ph), the tedder in chief of lunatic fringe publication “American Spectator,” who visited the Fox News whore house to defend comedian Rush Limbaugh in the phony soldier cover up, insisting that Limbaugh‘s, quote, already apologized in the event he offended anyone. 

No, what Limbaugh said was, since you won‘t get an apology from Media Matters for America, I want to apologize to you for them.  I apologize to you on their behalf since they won‘t.  To be fair, if Limbaugh had to apologize every time he made a mistake or uttered a horrific insult, he would have it be on the air 24 hours a day.  He‘d probably have to take stimulants—sorry. 

But our winners, the Republican National Committee, out today with the logo for its convention next summer in Minneapolis.  OK, the elephant, one, appears to have racing stripes.  Two, in this day of red states, Republican, blue states, Democrat, the elephant is blue.  Number three, it is up on its hind legs.  Trainers point out elephants are usually only up on their hind legs while having sex. 

A fact that might be noted in the next year, since the arena in which the Republican convention is going to be convened is roughly seven miles west of the airport bathroom in which Senator Larry Craig was arrested.  The RNC‘s design crew and the blue elephant with racing stripes reproducing, today‘s Worst Persons in the World.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  In 1999 Texas Governor George W. Bush was asked whether he knew the name of the man who had just taken power in Pakistan.  His answer was general.  The campaign defended it, saying most Americans did not know Pervez Musharraf‘s name and that this was not jeopardy.  As president, Mr. Bush showed little more interest in the region, and then got a lesson in real jeopardy on September 11, 2001. 

Tonight, our number one story, presidential candidate Fred Thompson versus the Soviet Union, and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani versus Rudy Giuliani.  After blowing questions about Terri Schiavo, Everglades drilling, and death penalty laws in his own state, Mr. Thompson was discussing Iran with an Iowa radio reporter yesterday when he said, quote, I‘m afraid the Soviet Union and China are not ever going to do anything that‘s going to hurt Iran that badly.

Opposing the Soviet Union, not what voters in 2007 mean by Reagan-esque.  But even on his own history, Mr. Thompson is fuzzy, claiming Tuesday that as his hearing manager, he got the nomination of now Chief Justice John Roberts past the other party‘s Judiciary Committee, meaning he either he forgot that Republicans controlled that committee at that time, Thompson is secretly a Democrat. 

Speaking of secret Republican Democrats, Rudy Giuliani has hit Hillary Clinton for proposing that American newborns get 5,000 savings bonds, comparing it to something, quote, from the George McGovern playbook.  Referring McGovern‘s 1972 plan to give each U.S. resident 1,000 dollars, but never mentioning the fact that among those who voted for Mr. McGovern in 1972 was Rudy Giuliani. 

Let‘s bring in Alex Borstein, political satirist, often doing that in her capacity as a producer, writer, and, of course, as the voice of Lois on “Family Guy,” as well as co-author of “Family Guy, it takes a village idiot and I married one,” Alex, good evening. 

ALEX BORSTEIN, LOIS ON “FAMILY GUY”:  Hello. 

OLBERMANN:  We‘ll dive into the politics in a moment, but you guys just premiered your season, which was even better than that time that Kim Jong-il got into an arm wrestling match with Rush Limbaugh at the—I‘m sorry, I thought that was a flash back.  We can‘t afford that.  How is the season going, looking ahead into the full new season? 

BORSTEIN:  It went great.  We were --  All the writers on “Family Guy” were all nerds.  We all grew up with “Star Wars” and loving it, and we were so scared to try to take on doing that as our premier.  But we scored.  It was the coolest thing and the animators came through, the explosions and things, if you saw it, were incredible.  So we‘re very, very pleased and it did well. 

Now, I think this week we have a very cool episode coming up, where Joe, who is in a wheel chair, has leg surgery and might begin to walk again.  Isn‘t that amazing?  Anything is possible on “Family Guy.”

OLBERMANN:  It‘s nice to be able to draw things and have them come out nicely. 

BORSTEIN:  It is nice.  And I bet a lot of these politicians wish they had the same capability right now. 

OLBERMANN:  But some of them seem to act like that and to this point, Fred Thompson, who, like yourself, is a performer, who occasionally dabbles in politics, is his ignorance about pressing national issues just a case of plagiarizing the Bush strategy of 2000?  Or does he—this stuff about the Soviet Union, does he go to sleep every night watching his own performance in “The Hunt For Red October” and he just forgets that there is no Soviet Union any more? 

BORSTEIN:  It is his entire cue on NetFlix.  It‘s all the “Hunt For Red October.”  He picked it 100 times.  I think the problem is, and you‘ll see with actors who become politicians, if their lines aren‘t written for them, they tend to have trouble.  So, they‘ll reach back to their little bag of tricks and USSR was probably in that one. 

OLBERMANN:  Soviet union.  Well, of course, it‘s literally true, you‘re not going to get any help from the Soviet Union about Iran.  There is no question about that.  But this “New York Times” report here that Thompson also actually asked an audience for applause.  Do you know of any—have you heard of an actor or a comedian or anybody actually doing something like that?  It‘s pretty—that‘s pretty bad, isn‘t it? 

BORSTEIN:  No, no aside from Michael Richards and his catastrophe?  No, I haven‘t.  That‘s pretty sad.  But he‘s used to working on one-hour dramas.  You don‘t have a live audience there.  I would just prefer—I think actors should stay out of politics.  That‘s my opinion. 

OLBERMANN:  Do we need to go to Mr. Thompson and say, by the way, you also were not the District Attorney in Manhattan, just to clarify for him. 

BORSTEIN:  I think he‘s confused, actually.  Someone should send him a memo.  I don‘t think he‘s aware. 

OLBERMANN:  Over to Rudy Giuliani.  If his opponent, Senator Clinton, is George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic candidate, does that not make Mr. Giuliani the Richard Nixon of this millennium?  Did he not unfortunately paint himself into that corner?

BORSTEIN:  You know what they have in common?  They‘re both like mulligan candidates.  I take it back, guys.  Giuliani, well, wasn‘t he like married for 14 years to somebody and then was like, never mind.  It‘s do over, annul. 

OLBERMANN:  Actually, several of those, but you‘re talking about the cousin or the -- 

BORSTEIN:  The cousin.  Married to the cousin and then was like no, no, that never happened. 

OLBERMANN:  Then married to the news caster and notifies her on the news that they are not married any more. 

BORSTEIN:  Isn‘t that fantastic?  He‘s a do over.  He‘s the mulligan candidate for 2007/2008. 

OLBERMANN:  But actually, maybe the definition of a mulligan in politics would have to be Larry Craig.  This decision now that he‘s going to stay in the Senate --  do all the comic writers and do all the comedians and do all the humorists in the country get together and send him one gift basket of thanks or how do you work all that out? 

BORSTEIN:  It‘s pretty great.  Larry Craig, he‘s just not coming out anywhere.  He‘s not coming out of the Senate or the closet.  You know, what a brutal life.  Mostly, really, the person we all look and feel sorry for here is the wife.  How‘s that got to feel?  But, he did his best, right?  He thought, again, mulligan, do over, I change my mind.  I don‘t plead guilty.  Never mind. 

OLBERMANN:  Apparently he went in and got six of them.  He bought a six pack of mulligans to propel this.  Alex Borstein, the talented voice of Lois on “Family Guy,” and author of “Family Guy, It Takes A Village Idiot and I Married One,” always a pleasure speaking with you.  Good to have you on the program. 

BORSTEIN:  Thank you for having “Family Guy” representing. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s a new twist, thanks, Alex. 

That is COUNTDOWN for this the 1,618th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  From New York, I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

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

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