updated 10/11/2007 11:09:07 AM ET 2007-10-11T15:09:07

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

Mr. Bush‘s war on the Constitution.  Troubling himself even to meet the media, to insists he will veto the latest tightening of the FISA noose on our necks if they include merely judicial review of the warrantless eavesdropping. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  To protect America, it is a vital tool in stopping the terrorists and it would be a grave mistake for Congress to weaken this tool. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Speaking of tools, the vice president depicted at the apex of a 30-year quest to build the tools of imperial presidency in which the Congress, the Constitution and you don‘t count. 

John Dean begins his TV adaptation of his book, “Broken Government” with the guy who decided to break the government. 

More on Rudy Giuliani‘s 23 interrupted terror plots

And in the Iran derby McCain says, something is up. 

Thompson actually said he talked to Congress.

And Romney gives an answer that pleases nobody. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You sit down with the attorneys and say what have you to do. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  So we‘ve got another guy running for king, and not president. 

If you think you are not impressed with them, Bush confidant Dan Bartlett bashes Romney, bashes McCain, Bashes Huckabee and especially bashes...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN BARTLETT, FORMER BUSH AIDE:  ...the biggest dud, Fred Thompson.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

OLBERMANN:   Could you actually pick just one biggest duds as the lunatic right wing fringe attacks a 12-year-old boy, claiming he was undeserving recipient of federal health care, that his family must be lying about middle class income, sending Michelle Malcolm to stakeout their home and posting the family‘s address on the Internet.  All of it reportedly spread by someone in the office of Senator Minority Leader McConnell.  These people on the extreme right, are they still people? 

Plus, Lindsay Lohan tells all to “OK” magazine. 

Danny Bonaduce gets, first, a big charge from this.  Now he is getting a big lawsuit from this. 

And our number stumper, 80 proof, times DUI number two, equals 48 days for the guy from “24.” 

All of that and more, now on “Countdown.” 

(on camera):  Good evening from New York.  It was five years ago tonight, one of the low points in our democracy, like the Gulf of Tonkin resolution vote in 1964 or the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 or the declaration of war against Spain in Cuba in 1898.  October 10, 2002, Congress voting to give President Bush the authority to use military force against Iraq.  On this October 10, this same president is trying claim authority that would allow him to spy on Americans without fear of retribution or oversight. 

Our fifth story on the “Countdown,” Mr. Bush angrily threatened today that he will not sign the new eavesdropping bill for which he drools, if it does not grant retroactive immunity to the telecommunication companies conducting his surveillance for him. 

What would those companies need protection from?  The petulance of the president‘s words more evident than usual this morning on the South Lawn of the White House all because Congress has not given him everything he asked for in legislation that would extend the government‘s ability to monitor the phone calls or emails of suspected terrorists, even when they involve an American citizen. 

Mr. Bush apparently angry because lawmakers are requiring some judicial oversight as well as some legal recourse for those who might find themselves abused by this program. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  My administration will work with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to reach an agreement on a bill that will allow us to protect our country.  The final bill must meet certain criteria.  It must give our intelligence professionals the tools and flexibility they need to protect our country.  It must keep the intelligence gap firmly closed and ensure that protections intended for the American people are not extended to terrorists overseas who are plotting to harm us.  It must grant liability protection to companies who are facing multi-billion-dollar lawsuits only because they are believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend our nation following the 9/11 attacks. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  If the companies are only believed to have assisted, why would they need any immunity?  As for the restrictions that would be imposed upon the Bush administration by the proposed legislation in amended form, they would not be all that restrictive.  For example, in order to monitor phone calls or emails when U.S. citizens are involved, the administration would only be required to obtain so-called blanket warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.  However, the warrant would only be good for a year and the administration would be allowed to wait 45 days before seeking the warrant.  The current grace period is just 72 hours. 

The measure would also place limits on collecting certain kinds of overseas communications by making a distinction between, for example, counter terror collection and intelligence that is strictly, quote, “in the furtherance of the foreign affairs of the U.S.”  In other words, they would need to have an actual definable reason. 

John Conyers, whose Judiciary Committee passed the bill out of committee without the immunity provision, saying quote:  “The legislation before us today seeks to, once again, strike the appropriate balance between needed government authority and our precious rights and liberties.”

Time now to turn to our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine. 

Howard, good evening. 

HOWARD FINEMAN, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, “NEWSWEEK”:  Good evening, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  This phrase from the president this morning, “My administration will work from members of Congress with both sides of the aisle to reach an agreement,” is a variation of this again and again in all of his recent remarks about FISA, SCHIP health care legislation for children—and here again, does he mean work together to reach an agreement that pleases some people in some way or does he mean you haven‘t given me everything I have asked for yet? 

FINEMAN:  I think it‘s more the latter, Keith.  I have talked to Democrats today who are describing to me these monthly bipartisan, bicameral meetings at the White House with the president.  The way they go is everybody troops into the cabinet room.  The president says what he wants to say.  And then all of the members of Congress get to talk. 

And according to the members of Congress, his attention kind of wanders.  I mean, is he not making paper airplanes but he is not paying close attention.  I think that‘s symbolic of the situation here.  He doesn‘t really want to deal with them.  He doesn‘t talk to them.  He hasn‘t picked up the phone and called Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi in a long time, as far as I know, which would be the most direct route. 

He wants the confrontations and victories because that‘s the way he shores up what‘s left of political support left in his own base. 

OLBERMANN:  What is this demand for immunity for companies that are even, in his own words, only believed to have participated in these activities that the administration claims are perfectly legal to begin with?  This seems like a man saying, look over here, this is my Achilles heel.  What is this all about? 

FINEMAN:  In talking to Democrats about that, I said if all of this was kosher and legal, as the president argues it was, what do these companies need protection for and immunity from?  They can‘t answer that question because the administration won‘t give them the documents that the congressmen want to be able to investigate this.  That‘s the situation that the Democrats find themselves in.  And they are afraid to veto—they are afraid to have a confrontation with the president on this because they are afraid that, once again, he will maw-maw them on the terrorism issue. 

OLBERMANN:  Is there point at which—is there a tipping point relative to that point where it no longer matters and the number of vetoes outweighs the spinelessness of Democrats on this point? 

FINEMAN:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know, Keith.  They Democrats in Congress still seem spooked by the notion that they can confront the president on something like this.  They put all kinds of protection, at least in the House version, for what the president wants.  You talk about the blanket warrants and so forth.  They are still afraid to confront him over what seemingly would be a winning issue of letting the phone companies off the hook.  But they seem to be afraid to do it.  And I don‘t know when all of that will accumulate either to their benefit or to the president‘s harm.  At this point, the president‘s numbers are so low with the general public he doesn‘t really seem to care. 

OLBERMANN:  To that point, let‘s assume that they grow backbone and the president vetoes the legislation, the administration does not get the right to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants anymore, and they don‘t get the immunity on the telecommunications companies, who would that really hurt, other than the president?  How did the Democrats come to believe they would lose in that scenario? 

FINEMAN:  Well, for one reason.  There is a legitimate concern about calls routed through the United States that we need to monitor and that do catch Americans in the net, so to speak.  The Democrats are addressing that concern but they are afraid that they lose any argument in the general public on this topic.  But, if they don‘t make the attempt, then they are going to lose both ways. 

OLBERMANN:  Howard Fineman of MSNBC and “Newsweek.”  As always, thanks and particularly for that explanation right there.  Thanks, Howard.

FINEMAN:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Bush‘s right to secure permanently the right of the American government to eavesdrop upon its citizens without warrants, all part and parcel of a power grab that has defined this presidency or rather this co-presidency with Dick Cheney, as it was once described by one biography, and who, it seems, as described by another biographer, has been envisioning an imperial presidency for quite some time. 

“Boston Globe” reporter Charlie Savage, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the president‘s use of signing statements, writes in his new book, “Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy.”  That when it was revealed in 2005 that the administration had been spying on Americans without warrants Mr. Cheney responded, “If you want to understand why this program is legal, go back and read my Iran Contra report.”

The Iran Contra minority opinion that Cheney had written back in 1987, with David Addington, no less, in which he argued it was, quote, “Unconstitutional for Congress to pass laws intruding on the commander and chief.” 

Nixon White House counsel John Dean, writing extensively about Mr.  Cheney‘s view on the Iran Contra and everything else that has shaped the vice president‘s pursuit of unparalleled executive power in his new book, “Broken Government:  How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches.” 

John joins us now in a first of series of television adaptations of the themes of his book, which we are always calling conveniently enough “Broken Government.” 

John, good evening. 

JOHN DEAN, Good evening, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Members of the Reagan administration arranged the sales of arms to Iran.  The proceeds went to fund Nicaragua guerillas, breaking a law that signed into law by Ronald Reagan.  And Dick Cheney argues this was all actually legal.  How? 

DEAN:  He and his Republican colleagues showed a remarkable facility very early, decades ago, to really ignore facts and then to reinterpret the law.  He claimed that the president could have vetoed this law.  He had the inherent power.  He was the sole voice in—particularly for foreign affairs.  And, therefore, the Congress had no business other than sending checks down to the White House to carry out its actions intruding in this.  That was his theory and that was the approach they took in this remarkable and dubious document. 

OLBERMANN:  Any student in Dick Cheney 101 knows that the roots of his desire to be king maker, if not king, were planted during—how he perceived Watergate.  How did he come away from that era believing that the country damaged the presidency and not the other way around? 

DEAN:  Well, I think Cheney 101 also shows very clearly how a man, the higher he rises in office, doesn‘t change, but he reveals himself even further.  And when he, for example, took the position after Watergate that that has somehow weakened the presidency, he claimed that Nixon just didn‘t stay and fight long enough.  He just ignores, again, the fact that the evidence was overwhelming.  The man was looking for an impeachment conviction.  It was not just Democrats.  It was Republicans.  But he thought they should have waged the battle and they gave in too soon.  Maybe defy the courts or come get us because we are the commander and chief, we got the troops.  He never has explained this but it is a fallacious argument.

OLBERMANN:  Isn‘t the essence that‘s sometimes overlooked in giving credence to parts of this argument and saying there needed to be a different shift of balance of power between the executive and the legislative?  Isn‘t it overlooked here that the idea of an imperial presidency essentially contradicts 100 percent of the idea of representative democracy? 

DEAN:  It does.  It is certainly exactly what the founders of our country rejected from the outset.  They did not want to have an elected monarch.  They wanted to have—indeed, the legislative branch was deemed to be the most powerful and have particularly in foreign affairs, a very large role that has slowly been eroded by presidents pushing the envelope.  This has been Cheney‘s theme all along. 

When post Watergate—the Congress short of balanced the playing field if you will, Cheney thought that weakened the presidency.  When he came into office in 2001, I want to assure you that the evidence shows that he inherited a presidency far stronger than anything Nixon had, at the height of his power, and, indeed, because Reagan had done a lot of work in the intervening years to strengthen it. 

OLBERMANN:  Speaking of 2001, I don‘t want to get into the nefariously coincidental, but how was Dick Cheney, in particular, so well positioned to take advantage of things that followed the attacks?  So much was rolled out so quickly that funneled power from Congress, from the Constitution, from the people to the offices of the president and vice president?  Why was he so ready? 

DEAN:  Well, we know a number of the think tanks were hoping or saying

I‘m not saying they are hoping that the travesty and tragedy that did occur would occur—but they certainly thought they need a triggering event to get a lot of their policies that they had been developing for years, the neo-conservatives saw this as an opportunity.  It was already in the drawers.  They just opened them and used 9/11 to push everything through.  And it became a very willing public, a very willing Congress.  And they were ready.  They were not ready, however, to really deal with the problem they should have been and that was to recognize terrorism. 

OLBERMANN:  John Dean, as part of the first of his series for us, “Broken Government,” from his book of the same name. 

As always, John, great thanks. 

DEAN:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Mitt Romney says he would talk to his lawyers not to say, oh, Congress, before he bombs Iran.  Rudy Giuliani thinks we thwarted 23 terrorist attacks.  Where are they getting this stuff? 

And disturbing answers about where many on the far right might be getting their cues in the vicious attacks on a 12-year-old boy who dared to speak up for the majority in the SCHIP health insurance debate and whose home address is now online. 

Is a Republican Senator‘s office responsible in part for all of this? 

You are watching “Countdown” on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Rudy Giuliani claimed 23 terror plots were thwarted against the U.S. and Mitt Romney said he would talk to his lawyers and not Congress about military strikes against Iranian targets.  Our fourth story on the “Countdown,” debate debacle.  And this isn‘t even factoring in the scathing insults by four presidential candidates by one of President Bush‘s closest confidants. 

First, the Iran part of the saga.  In Dearborn, all eight contenders weighing in executive authority verses congressional authorities when it would come to military strikes against that country. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, DEBATE MODERATOR:  If you were president of the United States, would you need to go to Congress to get authorization to take military action against Iran‘s nuclear facilities? 

MITT ROMNEY, ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You sit down with your attorneys and tell you what have you to do. 

RUDY GIULIANI, ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It‘s desirable.  It‘s safe to go to Congress, get approval from Congress. 

JOHN MCCAIN, ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I would, at minimum—I would at minimum consult with the leaders of Congress because there may become a time where you need the approval of Congress.  And, I believe that this is a possibility that is maybe closer to reality than we are discussing tonight. 

FRED THOMPSON, ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  In any close call, you should go to Congress, whether it‘s legally required or not, because you are going to need the American people.  And Congress will help you if they are voting for it or they support it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Joined now by Chris Cillizza who writes The Fix on the “washington post.com.” 

Good evening, Chris. 

CHRIS CILLIZZA, THE FIX COLUMNIST, “WASHINGTONPOST.COM”:  Good evening, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  So Mitt Romney picked up support, no doubt, among lawyers who believe in expanding the White House counsel and making 24-hour a day service out of this.  Did he lose everybody else with that answer? 

CILLIZZA:  This is a problem I had.  I joked to a colleague today he should have said we should goes to used car salesman and reporters, two people who are, in the admirable profession scale, are below lawyers.  There aren‘t many. 

I think what he does is he is such a businessman, and his mind works like that, and I think what he was thinking is, well, what‘s the quote, unquote, “right answer?”  Now, remember the right answer, as he defines it, isn‘t necessarily the politically the good answer.  And to float that the way that you would make this decision about whether to go to Congress or not is consult with your lawyers which, by the way, he went back to and again referenced it.  I thought he would try to sweep that under the rug.  Not a great moment for him. 

You know, he is usually someone we expect a lot out of in these debates.  Is he pretty charismatic and versed on the issues?  That was a bad moment for him, no question. 

OLBERMANN:  And a curious moment last night, and Chris Matthews picked up on this and mentioned it last night, although it was not really hit on in the debate, was there anything ominous in the way that Senator McCain answered the question about Iran, that it‘s currently hypothetical, but it‘s closer to reality than anybody thought last night?  Does he know more than the rest of us do? 

CILLIZZA:  I picked up on that, too.  It came at the end of what was a pretty, you know, average answer for McCain, not anything sort of outstanding there.  And it was sort of a throw away line that made my ears perk up.  I don‘t know the answer to that.  I mean, I don‘t think he knows anything more than we knew.  But it was certainly something that I think Chris Matthews was right to pick up on.  It sounded a little bit odd in the context of what was generally a very conventional wisdom-like answer for a Republican presidential candidate. 

OLBERMANN:  As to sort of marquee comments, we touched on this last night as well, Rudy Giuliani said we have had 23 plots since September 11 where Islamic terrorists are planning to kill Americans that we have had to stop.  That‘s much higher than even the White House numbers when they actually let one out.  Do we have any more insight tonight as to where that comes from? 

CILLIZZA:  Keith, I made a few calls on this.  I actually talked to the Giuliani campaign about it because I, too, was interested in it.  They did send me a document that has 24 total, both 14 domestic and 10 international events of terrorist plots foiled since September 11th.  Can you take that at face value?  I think the broader point here about Rudy Giuliani he—remember his language is important—the terrorist war on us.  He wants to remind the American people that this is not a passive thing.  This is not something we have chosen.  In his mind, this is something that has been foisted upon us and it is our responsibility to select leaders who recognize that.  Remember, he‘s positioning for the general election. 

He mentioned Hillary Clinton a lot more times than he mentioned Mitt Romney or Fred Thompson last night.  He wants people to see him as the nominee.  He wants people, when they see him think, leader, keep us safe.  Whether you agree with that or not is a whole different thing.  That‘s what he is going for in a political context. 

OLBERMANN:  Lastly, the Dan Bartlett comments to the Chamber of Commerce.  There is now a tape of this.  Is he not in the administration anymore, but Thompson is the biggest dud and Romney is vulnerable on religion and Huckabee has a hick name and McCain would win the primary but lose a race.  What‘s the impact of this?  And was it because of his tightness with the president?  Was it kind of a defacto White House endorsement of Giuliani? 

CILLIZZA:  This was first reported by my colleague Peter Baker.  It‘s fascinating you know all of these White House officials have opinions about all of the candidates.  They just don‘t usually voice them publicly.  I don‘t think it was any kind of endorsement of Giuliani.  Frankly, I would guess that if Dan Bartlett gave that speech tomorrow, and it had never been reported on he might have a few choice words for Rudy Giuliani as well. 

But, look, the reality is every candidate is flawed in some way.  You and I have talked about this on this show before.  This Republican field is uniquely flawed in some ways in that none of them can make the case that George Bush could make in 1999 and 2000, that he was the unifying force that the party needed.  There is no one on that stage yesterday that can do that. 

OLBERMANN:  Not if the radical religious rite is talking about walking out on Rudy Giuliani and he‘s the favorite. 

Chris from the “the Washington Post”.com, as always a pleasure sir. 

Thanks for your time tonight. 

CILLIZZA:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Her name, as Chris pointed, out was invoked—counterparts.  Now, Senator Hillary Clinton will be my guest tomorrow on “Countdown,” 8:00 eastern, 5:00 pacific. 

Also, she actually called rehab a, quote, “sobering experience” and she did it in an interview with “OK” magazine.

A would-be Norwegian version of Borat gets her head handed to her by a New York City politician.  One time you can root for a councilman as he goes bonkers next on “Countdown.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  On this date in 1985, we lost the famous actor Yul Brenner to lung cancer.  The Russian born, French raised, shaven-headed star of “The King and I” certainly had the most unlikely pre- and post-acting careers.  In his 20s, he worked as a French speaking announcer for the U.S.  Office of War Information broadcasts into occupied France and was later a nude model.  And after his death, he appeared in public service announcements for the American Cancer Society insisting cigarettes had killed him and making the chilling announcement, quote, “Now that I‘m gone, I tell you don‘t smoke.”  As the late great economic Bill Hicks noted at the time, thousands of TV viewers, hearing the introduction to that spot, now, the late Brenner, says to themselves, what the hell is this guy selling?

Let‘s play “Oddball.”         

We begin right here in New York City, where Republican Councilman James Otto of Staten Island became of victim of a Norwegian comedy show.  But fake reporter Pia Haroldson asked such utterly offensive racist questions that the representative angrily and almost immediately realized it was a setup.  His response, if not his choice of language, completely understandable. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PIA HAROLDSON, INTERVIEWER:  Isn‘t this against the Constitution that Barack Obama runs for presidency considering the fact that is he not an American citizen? 

JAMES OTTO, NEW YORK COUNCILMAN:  He is an American citizen.  He is a United States Senator. 

HAROLDSON:  I read somewhere that he is African-American.

OTTO:  African-Americans are citizens of this country.

HAROLDSON:  All right. That‘s good to know. [laughter]

Can you say a little bit more about the Democrats? Do you really think that Hillary stands a chance after that embarrassing incident with the cigar?

OTTO:   Hey, Chris?

What the [bleep] do you have me in with these people? [bleep] these people out of my office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I will explain [bleep]

HAROLDSON:  Get the [bleep] out of my office get out of my office. Get out of my office. What is this nonsense? Get out of here. Get out of my office. Get, get, get out of my office. Hillary Clinton, cigar, Barack Obama get the [bleep] out of my office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:   Take the mike off next time. That‘s the only criticism, sipper. The far right‘s attacks on 12-year-old SCHIP advocate Graham Frost.  The disturbing version that connects the dots ties them to office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

And might “48 Hours” will do a feature on the 48 days in jail for the guy from “24?” These stories and the first time for our “Goof balls and good guys.” Here are COUNTDOWN‘s top 3 best persons in the world. Number three, best chutzpah Sgt. Andrea Eichhorn, a decorated veteran of the Castlebury, Florida police department. She helped rescue 1-year-old Joey Cosmillo (ph) when he fell into the family pool in January, suffered brain damage, lives in a nursing home, he cannot walk, talk, or swallow. Sergeant Eichhorn slipped on a puddle on the floor of the Cosmillo (ph) home and broke her knee that day. Naturally she is now suing the grief and debt ridden family. Nice touch.

Number two best ad campaign, Applebee‘s that got into the head of one consumer in Broomfield, Michigan. He had to have breakfast there yesterday morning. In backing the car out of the driveway he hit a utility pole and knocked out power and phone service to his neighborhood. The would-be Applebee‘s consumer was an unnamed 6-year-old boy.

Our winner, best improvisation.  Todd Fraser of the hospital in McKay, Queensland, Australia. An Italian tourist that swallowed poison in an apparent suicide attempt.  The antidote: a medically induced coma and a diet of medicine alcohol fed by intravenous tube. Then the hospital ran out of medicine alcohol, so Dr. Fraser got creative and for three days fed the patient vodka.  A vodka IV.  About three standard drinks an hour for three days in the intensive care unit, says Dr. Fraser. And no, they did not even offer him a grapefruit juice chaser.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBEMANN:  The instinct to care is hard wired into us. Especially the instinct to care about children. It is why biologists believe the young of all species share physical qualities we describe as cute. They are not usually triggered by dry statistics. Statistics are never described as cute. So when politicians want to reduce how much government does for children they show us statistics and not children. Now the question what do the same politicians do when one of those children actually puts his own face to those statistics?

As you are about to see in our third story tonight, they attack him with a venom unfathomable to nearly all mentally balanced humans. The boy is 12 year old Graham Frost with a chronically historian in the worst persons segments for awhile now. Last month he delivered the Democratic, Republican rebuttal to the president‘s weekly radio address asking Mr. Bush to sign the new bipartisan extension and expansion of children‘s health care called S-Chip. Graham knew about S-Chip because he and his sister had benefited from it after a 2004 car crash. His sin, according to the right wing, was not dying in that crash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM FROST:  I was in the hospital for five and a half months. And I needed a big surgery. For a long time after that I had to go to physical therapy after school to get stronger.  Even though I was hurt badly I was really lucky. My sister and I both were. My parents work really hard and always make sure my sister and I have everything we need. But the hospital bills were huge. WE got the help we needed because we had health insurance for us through the Chip program.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Since then, water carriers for Mr. Bush, particularly Rush Limbaugh have repeatedly and anonymously repeated and posted falsehoods about the boy and his family portraying them as rich parasites, revealing personal private details including Frost‘s home address, where his father works. Not knowing nor caring for instance that Graham and his brain injured sister attend private schools only because of scholarships and government assistance that is related to their injuries.

This man, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell helped to disseminate those lies and personal details to the media a Democratic spokesman telling ABC News that a journalist discussed getting those details in an email from McConnell‘s office. Why he has done that? Next week the Democrats and the many Republicans who support expanding S-Chip will try to overturn Mr. Bush‘s veto and the right wing is willing to attack one 12-year-old boy to prevent Americans from caring enough about him that they demand that more 12-year-old boys and girls have health insurance as well.

Let‘s turn to now to Rachel Maddow whose program airs week nights on Air America Radio. Rachel thanks for your time tonight.

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  When the far right warns us we have to sacrifice the lives of freedom and soldiers because there are actually people somewhere who are willing to send kids out as suicide bombers? They don‘t see that they are cousins to those people, do they? That they are willing to attack a 12-year-old boy, post his address on line, almost encouraging some psychopath to threaten him or worse. 

MADDOW:  Yes, 12 year old Graham Frost meet Cindy Sheehan meet 9/11 widows, meet Michael J. Fox and the kids who are targeted by Mark Folly and John Murtha. I mean Graham Frost, is a 12-year-old now joins an esteemed list of Americans who have been personally attacked, personally slimed and called liars and cowards and frauds and threatened for daring to publicly espouse a view that the right disagrees with. Just when you think you have found the person who they can‘t possibly slime, I don‘t know, says a 12-year-old kid just out of a coma, turns out, yeah, the bar does actually go that low. It‘s just astonishing.

OLBERMANN:  Powerful Republicans, politicians, in particular, bolster and benefit from the water carriers like Limbaugh. Why they are not held responsible? Why is the washing of this information prospect and project permitted especially when McConnell‘s office is apparently part of this campaign? Why is he not responsible in some sense for these attacks on a kid and his family which now have included actual death threats against the?

MADDOW:  Refusing to comment, refusing to either confirm or deny involvement in this campaign at this point is now not enough, particularly when we have evidence that senate staffers were circulating some of this trash. Particularly now that the Senate and the House are on record condemning criticism of a general who testified before Congress. I mean, what kind of a freak show ethical universe does this have to be where the capital political offense to criticize a general who testifies to Congress but wounded war veterans and literally disabled kids who need health insurance are fair game? It just beggars belief.

OLBERMANN:  Before Graham ever spoke, the house Republican leader John Boehner attacked the Democrats for using kids for political purposes.  Obviously politicians do. This Republicans do this as we see from this picture of; I think the tall guy in the middle is John Boehner, surprisingly enough. What is the premise here that if you use kids to generate a vague mood of wholesomeness that‘s OK but if you say no this is where kids are being hurt by policies in effect from government that‘s not OK? It‘s all right if I do it but don‘t do anything like it.

MADDOW:  Silent kids in groups they are good, but single kids who are allowed to speak they are very bad. It may be that they expect—remember, when Bush vetoed the stem cell research for the first time and he surrounded himself with snowflake babies? It may be that they fear one of the snowflake babies is going to write a scathing tell-all and they are trying to prime the pump to get us to slime that kid too when something happens.

OLBERMANN:  I asked this question rhetorically in the beginning of the show, but there is something almost inhuman about this where you do not draw a line where a Michelle Malkin can happily report that she has gone to this kid‘s house and gone to check out why they are lying? You know, it‘s the Democrats‘ fault for putting them out here. What happened to the humanity in these people, these creatures who look like human beings like the rest of us but certainly don‘t act that way?

MADDOW:  We have ended up in a political universe? We have ended up being pushed so far within our politics that it‘s—it‘s pathetic, it is expected that the person, that the target on any political opinion that you disagree with will be targeted at the person who is delivering it. When they started wearing Band-Aids to mock John Kerry‘s purple hearts is maybe when we should have known this had gone off the rails.

OLBERMANN:  Rachel Maddow of Air America as always thanks for your time.

MADDOW:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  So, drug and alcohol rehab is, in Lindsay Lohan‘s extraordinarily insightful phrase a sobering experience. Here we go. That and worst persons Bill O‘Reilly offers up one of the greatest softballs of all time. For the first time ever a political party may have a network organization in its pocket. Can I wait on this pitch and hit it over the fence or will excitement get the better of me and force me to foul it behind the back stop? That‘s next. This is COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:   Lindsay Lohan explains that rehab is a sobering experience and explains it to “OK” Magazine. Mr. 24 gets 48 for blowing .09. And Chris Wallace for doubting if Nancy Pelosi prays for American troops to win in Iraq; Lou Dobbs for not understanding those are American flag lapel pins and not actual American flags.

Bill O on the subject of networks in a political party‘s pocket. Your entrance into our nightly worst person demolition derby. That‘s next. This is COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Once again it is time for keeping tabs. Our nightly peek into the world of celebrity high jinx, entertainment and repeated strangulated quotations from “OK” Magazine.

Beginning with Lindsay‘s Lohan‘s third try at rehab for drug and alcohol problems after two earlier arrests involving drugs, alcohol being and new bends in her Mercedes. She checked out of the rehab center last Friday in Utah, telling the folks at “OK” Magazine and apparently without any irony whatsoever: “It was a sobering experience. It was humbling. It made me look at myself and all the people, place and things in my life in a different way.

Lohan also telling “OK” Magazine her main priority is staying sober while she is working on her new movie. Another big name is fighting the battle of the bottle, according to the “National Enquirer,” David Hasselhoff checking himself into a clinic. Said to be suffering a relapse during his treatment for alcoholism. His representatives telling tmz.com that Hasselhoff immediately recognized the importance of getting medical help and should be out soon. The Hoff trying to clean up his act after one of America‘s saddest home videos tackling a burger at a Las Vegas hotel with little success while his teenage daughter begged him to stop drinking.  He did clean up his act enough to win full custody of both teenage daughters after a nasty divorce. Then the Hassellhoff costar inspired us to rewrite the old children‘s rhyme first comes love and then marriage and then comes the reason for the quickie marriage.

Former “Bay Watch” star Pam Anderson is expecting and two months pregnant according to the folks at “Intouch” weeklies investigative obstetrics unit. The magazine says she is keeping quiet about it because her last husband Kidd Rock accused her of faking a pregnancy and a miscarriage. But a friend says Pam is excited about it, that she and third hubby Rick Salmon decided to get hitched in Vegas soon after a home pregnancy test came up positive. The groom appeared in a Paris Hilton sex video. This would not be the first time he has been put on fast forward.

Mr. 24 gets 48 for a .09. Will he escape? That‘s ahead but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s worst person in the world. CNN‘s Lou Dobbs with a passive aggressive shot at politicians who don‘t wear American flag lapel pins like Senator Obama or last night Mitt Romney.

Speaking of Obama right as an American but any politician of any political party who believes their words can be adequate substitute for the symbolic power of the American flag is sadly arrogant and mistaken. Lou, who said that? Nobody is talking about the symbolic power of the American flag we are talking about a one inch lapel pin unless you are looking at it can be confused for something stuck on your jacket.

Runner up fixed news and latest scare tactic there trying to position liberals as attacking religion. Overdosing yesterday on reports that there is going to be an extra radio program for atheists using graphics and feeding lines to it‘s meat puppets which included the phrases is this the new war on religion, war on god, god was programming and do you think religion is a sickness and showing pictures of Al Franken and Jeanine Garofalo.  Who don‘t even work at Air American Radio anymore?

Apparently they had Chris Wallace actually ask Nancy Pelosi, quote, do you pray for our soldiers to win in Iraq to which the speaker replied of course I do to which Wally stuttered to win? To which the speaker slam dunked him of course I do. What a question. Seriously Chris, leave some of the Kool-aid for the others. Greta has been making way too much sense lately.

Fortunately our winner has not. Will O commenting on my fried Chris Matthews, for the first time ever a political party may have a network organization in its pockets. I know what you are saying to yourself. What about Bill O‘s own Fox News, he is the proud state-run television, 21st century home of Tokyo rose.

Well being in cable operation it does not technically qualify as a network, besides which Bill and Fox are not in the Republican Party‘s pocket. They are up its nose first. Bill O‘Reilly. Today‘s worst first person in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Kiefer Sutherland has found a way to keep a real life problem from interfering with his altered egos vital work of saving the fictional nation and reinforcing the paranoia of the real one. Number one story in the COUNTDOWN wouldn‘t all celebrities could deal with their own errors with such grace instead of barrel scraping beyond list the kind who go on award shows and then sue. More on that presently, but first it‘s Kiefer Sutherland.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Previously on 24, Mr. Sutherland pleaded no contest today to a misdemeanor charge of driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. Sutherland, through his attorney, agrees to serve 18 days in jail from late December through early January when production of 24 is on hiatus and another 30 days in jail once the season wraps a total of 48.

Sutherland was willing to serve a longer sentence in exchange for that scheduling so that he and its show and his crew would not be affected.  Thus, a dose of actual reality has been shoe horned in the 24 production schedule. Meantime reality TV players and I don‘t call them stars here have made arses of themselves at some reality TV award show. [laughter]

He fell down. In case you are wondering, the redhead is Danny Bonaduce and the guy who land on his own face and broke some teeth was Johnny Fairplay from season 837 of survivor. Today we learned Johnny is suing Bonaduce for battery and infliction of emotional distress. Let‘s turn now to comedian Paul F. Tompkins who also of course is a regular contributor on VH1 best week over.

Paul good evening.

PAUL F. TOMPKINS:  Good evening to you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Kiefer Sutherland first, apparently his lawyers worked this jail time around the shooting schedule of “24”. They ruled out a Jack Bauer style jail houses escape? Was there a choice there?

TOMPKINS:  Well, they could be saving that for a fantastic cross-promotion with Fox‘s prison break which I understand may be suffering from sagging ratings. In real life Kiefer cannot escape from jail because they confiscated his Jack Bauer bag.

OLBERMANN:  He was already on probation for this DUI offense in 2004 and part of the latest sentence is actually for not the drunk driving this time but for violating the previous probation. Does he somehow get treated less harshly by the media than the Lindsay Lohan types? Is that evident at this point?

TOMPKINS:  Yes. And I think it‘s because he is so functional. You never hear about Kiefer Sutherland missing work or not turning up on time or anything. All these other people seem to be blowing it left and right.  Is he able to get his job done? You don‘t remember that Clark Gable killed a man drunk driving. You just remember he made a thousand movies.

OLBERMANN:  I once told this story on the air though, seeing Kiefer Sutherland getting completely loaded up because he hated to fly and he had to go to Australia. And he had a 16 hour flight ahead of him. People I knew at the restaurant where he was getting drunk called all their friends because he was the most polite albeit inflammable drunk anybody had ever seen. Politeness when you are drunk is the lesson here. If you can‘t stay sober which we would rather do you when you drive at least be nice to people, right?

TOMPKINS:  Yes, please bring back the gentleman tippler of the days of yore.

OLBERMANN:  Now this could essentially this paranoia inducing show in which he stars the story is located in Washington, D.C. For the new season, the seventh season, how do the writers top themselves here convenience store clerks, space aliens, judges? What do they got going?

TOMPKINS:  I think they have to go super meta with it and have Jack Bauer break Kiefer Sutherland out of jail. He has got his hands on a top secret mojito recipe.

OLBERMANN:  I have got to ask you about this Bonaduce thing, the police declined to press charges because they said it was self-defense. How does he make a case in his civil suit that he didn‘t deserve that?

TOMPKINS:  Well, first, I‘m shocked to discover that Johnny Fairplay is numb to TV. But now that I‘m told that is dazzlingly clever. I think the only defense he could probably make is I thought Mr. Bonaduce‘s faux vintage cowboy shirt was on fire.

OLBERMANN:  And also, if you are on a third rate award show and you are a jerk on “Survivor,” what is nervous pain at that point? Do you have anything left to be nervous about?

TOMPKINS:  Nervous pain sounds to me like a real frontier ailment, like the grip or piles. I can only hope that he is taking plenty of tincture powders (ph) and laudanum.

CARLSON:   And the Mrs. Is suffering from hysteria too. Paul F.  Tompkins, comedian and contributor to VH-1 “Best Week Ever.” As always Paul great, thanks for your time tonight.

TOMPKINS:  I‘m sorry our color schemes were too similar.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s all right.  It looks like a uniform.

That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1624th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I‘m Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck. Our coverage continues with MSNBC live with Dan Abrams. Dan good evening. 

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

END   

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