updated 10/15/2007 10:57:57 AM ET 2007-10-15T14:57:57

Guests: Governor Bill Richardson, Craig Akers, Pam Akers, Mo Rocca

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  We could talk all night.  Read the book “The Reality Show.”  Howard Kurtz, thanks for joining us.  “Countdown” with Keith Olbermann starts right now. 

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

No Supreme Court to steal it from him this time. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE OFFICIAL:  Al Gore Jr. 

OLBERMANN:  Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize.  Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

And there is every indication that this isn‘t changing a thing in the presidential race. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

WINNER:  It truly is a planetary emergency and we have to respond quickly. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  A quick response in Barack Obama‘s campaign, including a swipe based on something Senator Clinton said on this newscast yesterday on the unofficial branding of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)         

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I want the United States to begin diplomatic negotiations with Iran, but I want us to go with some leverage. 

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  She said, like she did five years ago, this is the way to support diplomacy.  This is a real difference.  I disagree. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  No diplomacy from the General Petraeus of 2003 and 2004.  To journalists in Virginia today, the former commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, blasts the Bush surge, accuses the, quote, national political leadership for failure in Iraq.”  And says if they were in the military... 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICARDO SANCHEZ, RETIRED LIEUTENANT GENERAL, FORMER IRAQ COMMANDER: 

These types of leaders would immediately be relieved or court-martialed. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Reaction to that, and Vladimir Putin‘s Cold War-like rebuke of Secretary Rice from Governor Richardson, our former ambassador to the U.N.

Also joining us tonight, the parents of Shawn Hornbeck.  They want an apology for this: 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, HOST, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”:  I think when it all comes down, what‘s going to happen is there was an element here that this kid liked about his circumstance. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  O‘Reilly adds insult to injury.  He has just started the publicity tour for a new kids‘ book. 

Good poll numbers for the president when he is compared to Paris Hilton. 

And, no, Mr. Gore did not say this after he won the Nobel. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE:  It truly is a—democratic—emergency and we have to—nominate me—quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

(on camera):  Good evening from new York.  The man who jokes he used to be the next president of the United States, this morning, becoming the next recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Our fifth story on the “Countdown,” to quote Martin Luther King Jr., “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.”  Nearly seven years ago, Al Gore won the popular vote for president, but George W. Bush was awarded the job.  Now, history may confirm Mr. Bush as this nation‘s worst chief executive ever, while Mr. Gore is the recipient of one of the world‘s most revered honors. 

The 45th vice president given the Nobel for having spread awareness of man-made global warming and laying the foundations for trying to change it, if there is time. 

The former vice president sharing the honor with the United Nation‘s Climate Change Panel and apparently willing to share it with many, many others. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE:  Tipper and I will go to Oslo and I will accept this award on behalf of all of those who have been working so long and so hard to try to get the message out about this planetary emergency.  There have been so many thousands of people who have worked as long as I have and there have been so many activists who have been trying to sound the alarm. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  On Oscar night, the gold statue awarded to his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” actually went home with the film‘s director, Davis Guggenheim.  This time, Mr. Gore will take home a much more tangible prize, half of $1.6 million.  The former vice president saying he will donate all of that for the Alliance for Climate Protection, a nonprofit organization devoted to fighting global warming. 

A thawing at the White House where the president‘s spokesman, if not the president himself, was forced to say nice thing about the Nobel laureate, the man the first President bush called Mr. Ozone during the 1982 campaign. 

Tony Fratto describing this president‘s reaction, quote, “Of course, he‘s happy for Vice President Gore, happy for the International Panel of Climate Change scientists who also shared the Peace Prize.  Obviously, it‘s an important recognition.”

Important enough that president Bush will be finding time in his schedule to call Mr. Gore to congratulate him? 

Spokesman Fratto again:  “I don‘t know of any plans to make calls to any of the winners at the point.”

OK.  But the award, might it place pressure on Mr. Bush to act more quickly to combat climate change and maybe even fall in line with what other countries want, say mandatory caps on emissions?  No. 

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

John, good evening. 

JONATHAN ALTER, SENIOR EDITOR, “NEWSWEEK”:  Hi, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  As much as certain Democrats might want Mr. Gore to segue directly from the Nobel ceremony, maybe even announcing at the ceremonies that he is going to run for president, and are interpreting his silence today that there is still this hope that he might.  Is not the more likely explanation that the minute he definitely says no, no way, many of the cameras and maybe all of the attention now focused on climate change also go away? 

ALTER: I think that‘s exactly right.  I mean, why should he be, you know, Sherman-esque to quote General William Tecumseh Sherman, that he will not run if nominated, will not serve if elected.  Why would anybody in his right mind totally close the door on the possibility of being president?  There are just no indications that he is going to run and I think the game today of immediately shifting off of global warming to a lot of speculation, by me and other people, about a presidential campaign is kind of an indication of how superficial we are in the media. 

OLBERMANN:  All right.  So let‘s do it the other way.  We are going to assume then is he not going to run and never had real intention of doing so.  Is his endorsement still of value?  Is it more important now than last week or say 2004?  Joe Trippy, who was Howard Dean‘s campaign manager in that election, the first half of it anyway, says Mr. Gore‘s endorsement of the governor was the beginning of the end of the governor. 

ALTER:  Yeah.  I was actually with Gore the day that he endorsed Dean.  I don‘t think there was really a cause and effect there.  There were a lot of other problems in the Dean campaign. 

But a lot has changed in the last four years.  And, you know, I think it‘s just such a wonderful example of how history provides some surprises, that this guy who looked like he was the biggest loser in American politics not just after the 2000 campaign, but as late as 2004, he was still getting pummeled.  He doesn‘t have the level of respect he has today. 

Now his endorsement really is worth something.  Does it mean that the person he endorses goes on to win the nomination?  No.  But I think it could change the equation a bit.  He has indicated that he will not endorse Hillary Clinton.  There was no love-loss there at certain points after what started out as a good relationship.  In the later part of the administration, there was no love-loss between Gore and the Clintons. 

So the question is will it be Obama or Edwards or conceivably somebody else?  I think whoever he selects in the next few months to endorse will get a shot of adrenaline from that endorsement. 

OLBERMANN:  I heard one thing finally here that posited today that I thought made a lot of sense in terms of him not running, especially considering he would come in now about the Edwards level of support.  It‘s not like he would step in and be in first place or even a close second. 

ALTER:  Right. 

OLBERMANN:  The moment he would actually declare candidacy, suddenly environment and climate change would become a totally politically polarized issue.  It‘s not really that way now.  There is some give and take on the two sides.  If he became a Democratic candidate, even an unsuccessful one, would it be Democrats are pro-environment and Republicans would have to be anti-environment. 

ATLER:  He would have to answer about all sorts of other things.  It would politicize it.  That‘s why it‘s not going to happen.  He has an unusual opportunity here to take what he considers the most pressing issue in civilization to do something with it.  That requires staying above the fray.  He will have total control of climate change policy in a Democratic administration.  So he gets to have his cake and eat it, too.  I think we should all congratulate him today on this real deserved achievement. 

OLBERMANN:  Indeed.  And Nobelly pulpit or gets the bully pulpit without the election or having to go to the Supreme Court to confirm the election. 

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

ALTER:  Thanks, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Senator Clinton avoided a question about the draft-Gore movement by expressing hope that her form husband‘s vice president would win the Nobel Prize.  Today her challenge was to dismiss attacks from her closest rival, Senator Obama, about her latest comments about Iran. 

Senator Obama noted from Iowa when he advocated diplomacy with Iran back in July, Senator Clinton called his stance, quote, “irresponsible and frankly naive.”  Now that she is supporting Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, as a vote for diplomacy, Senator Obama saying, not so much. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Senator Clinton is the only Democratic candidate for president who supports this amendment.  She says, like she did five years ago that this is the way to support diplomacy.  This is a real difference.  I disagree. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Senator Clinton having explained her vote on that Kyl-Lieberman Amendment on this news hour last night. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think people have either misunderstood or decided to misrepresent the meaning of that vote.  I believe in using pressure and sanctions as a tool of diplomacy.  That includes against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard there is no doubt that they are a chief sponsor of terrorism and that they have been providing weapons and advice to the people who are attacking and killing and maiming Americans in Iraq. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s turn to our own Dana Milbank, national political reporter of the “Washington Post.” 

Dana, good evening. 

DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, “WASHINGTON POST”:  Good evening, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Let me start on this by reading to you how Senator Clinton has responded to Senator Obama in turn today.  Her statement was:  “He didn‘t speak out against it at a nationally televised debate that night or defend himself from an attack during the debate on his missed vote.  If Senator Obama believed the measure was as dangerous as he says, wouldn‘t he have had some obligation to stand up, speak out and fight against it?”

Now, did she diffuse this?  Did she take umpf out of the attack?  If you don‘t vote do you have the right to complain or criticize another for their vote? 

MILBANK:  That is a tricky issue for him, isn‘t it?  I would say either the toilets are overflowing again here at the “Washington Post” or I‘m detecting the first whiff of desperation from the Obama campaign, which is way further behind in the polls than they expected to be. 

Now, admittedly, the left wing is particularly upset about this Iran vote by Hillary.  But Obama comparing it to the 2003 Iraq vote is really sort of silly it was a nonbinding vote.  Nothing about authorizing war and, indeed, this administration has made quite clear that it‘s willing to do whatever it wants to do in foreign policy without Congress saying so anyway. 

OLBERMANN:  Was it a rookie mistake on the campaign‘s part to put him in a position to criticize somebody for a vote that he didn‘t stick around to vote for or was he in, you know, the choice of Iraq or, in this case, Iran and a hard place?  Did he have to say something on this as they get further along and further behind? 

MILBANK:  I think so.  He had talked a long time about the politics of hope.  I think what we are getting to now is the politics of pragmatism and Obama is realizing it‘s all well and good to be soft and fuzzy and gauzy in your campaign tragedy but what works is negative campaigning.  He has got to cut down on Hillary Clinton‘s lead.  He is not just doing it on Iran, but is he doing it on Iran and a whole range of issues.  This is absolutely what he has to do now.  Unfortunately, for Obama, the Clinton campaign has been quite effective and hasn‘t left him with much.  He has got to sort of grasp at these sorts of straws. 

OLBERMANN:  Maybe the politics of a little less hope.  I‘m not entirely sold on the idea though that Senator Clinton‘s vote was about diplomatic negotiations.  I mean, first off, she did contradict her criticism of Senator Obama in one of this summer‘s debates, their first really big head-to-head confrontation.  She said she would not promise to meet with the leader of Iran during her first year of office.  The Kyl-Lieberman Amendment has much more than diplomacy in it.  It also was the use of what‘s described in there as military instruments.  Has her position on Iran morphed to justify her yes vote on that amendment? 

MILBANK:  Well, the campaign says, look, in the debate she was talking specifically about negotiating one-on-one with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Leaving that aside, what‘s happening here is she is generating a lot of fuzz.  She is trying to look forward towards the general election, try to sound a hawkish note on Iran while at the same time trying not to offend the liberal base.  So she is sort of going back and forth here and quite deliberately leaving things blurred.  She is vulnerable to that flip-flopping charge. 

OLBERMANN:  Last thing, also diplomacy, also from the interview yesterday.  The Senator said she would not wait until taking office before trying to restore America‘s image in the international community after two terms of Mr. Bush.  Listen to this, and then I want the question for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  I‘m not going to wait until I‘m inaugurated.  As soon as I‘m elected, I‘m going to be asking distinguished Americans of both parties to travel around the world on my behalf with a very simple message, the era of cowboy diplomacy is over. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Could a president-elect have a State Department-elect that goes right into office on, you know, November 2009 or something, or was precedent for that set when Ronald Reagan‘s people negotiated with Iran for the hostages before the inaugural in 1981. 

MILBANK:  There are plenty of examples in that.  Bill Clinton was talking with the Saudis.  The current president had a one-on-one sit-down with Jacque Chirac.  I don‘t think she will get in any difficulties there. 

The really interesting thing that‘s happened here is so much of Europe, in particular, said, fine, we are not getting anywhere with negotiations with this president.  We will just sit out the next 15 months until the next one comes in. 

OLBERMANN:  That one-on-one with Chirac really helped. 

Dana Milbank of MSNBC and the “Washington Post.”  Thanks, Dana. 

MILBANK:  Thanks, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Failure in Iraq.  Political leadership so bad that if those who affected it were in the military, they would have been court-martialed by now.  Who said that today?  The man who was the General Petraeus of 2003, General Ricardo Sanchez. 

And Shawn Hornbeck, he was brutalized by his abductor and, in a sense brutalized, by an infamous TV commentator who said the boy liked parts of his slavery.  Tonight, his parents join us to insist that that commentator apologize to their son. 

You are watching “Countdown” on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Two months after the invasion of Iraq, U.S. Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez took command of coalition forces on the ground there.  When he left that post in 2004, President Bush said Sanchez had done a fabulous job.  He praised his strong leadership and exemplary service. 

The past two months, Sanchez has gone around quietly offering thoughts on President Bush and the administration officials who took us to war.  In our fourth story on the “Countdown,” that assessment is no longer quiet, to say the least. 

Speaking to military journalists today, Sanchez became the highest ranking veteran of the war to eviscerate the administration publicly, saying there is no concerted effort to devise a strategy either in Iraq or against extremism worldwide, and calling the original Iraq war plan catastrophically flawed. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ:  While the politicians espouse a rhetoric designed to preserve their reputations and their political power, our soldiers die.  Our national leadership ignored the lessons of World War II as we entered into this war and, to this day, continue to believe that victory can be achieved through the application of military power alone. 

Our commanders on the ground will continue to make progress and provide time for the development of a grand strategy.  That will be wasted effort, as we have seen repeatedly since 2003.  In the meantime, our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines will continue to die. 

It will take the Army, at least a decade to fix the damage that has been done to its full spectrum readiness.  Who will demand accountability for the failure of our national political leadership involved in the management of this war?  They have unquestionably been derelict in the performance of their duty.  In my profession, these types of leaders would immediately be relieved or court-martialed. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Amid speculation that General Sanchez is considering writing a book and despite the fact that he called for accountability, the general refused to name names today, though he did single out the National Security Council and the State Department, as well as Congress, which was Republican controlled up until his retirement, and the nation‘s civilian leadership in toto. 

Sanchez‘s remarks are hardly unalloyed.  During the war, he gave journalists a different story repeating the mantra of progress, progress.  Is he openly bitter still toward higher ups for Abu Ghraib, which happened on his watch, although he was not involved directly with them? 

Let‘s turn now to a man working to become the next commander and chief.  New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, ambassador to the U.N., who joins us tonight from new Hampshire. 

Governor, I hope you are well.  Thanks for your time tonight. 

BILL RICHARDSON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: 

Thank you, Keith.  Nice to be with you. 

OLBERMANN:  First, your reaction to General Sanchez‘s remarks today, if you would be so kind? 

RICHARDSON:  This is significant.  This is our top military guy in Iraq with no axes to grind, basically saying that—what was most poignant of what he said is that our kids are dying, that while political leadership has failed, that our kids are dying.  It‘s 3,800-plus, 27,000 wounded, trauma, mental health, a tragedy in our V.A. system. 

And what is also significant, he says that the surge is a failure.  And militarily, this is a military assessment and the conclusion is there is no military solution to this war.  There is a political solution.  And we are losing that window.  This is why I am for getting all of our troops out—every single one, no residual forces, within eight months to a year, as rapidly as possible, according to what our military believes, is most effective and safe for our troops. 

But this—we are losing time to create a political settlement.  And you can‘t have that political settlement in Iraq or a Muslim peace-keeping force headed by the U.N. or a rebuilding of Iraq until all of our troops are out.  And Senator Clinton wants to keep 75,000 there beyond 2013, so does Senator Obama.  The issue is, do we end the war now or do we just change the mission, as some in the Democratic primary want to do? 

OLBERMANN:  If we get out per your schedule, what happens then?  Because as the general also said today, this administration has damaged the Army so badly that the national security is at risk if we were to face some sort of conventional engagement somewhere.  Short of a decade that he predicts he would need to fix the damage to the military, how would you propose to fix the damage that Mr. Bush has done to the military? 

RICHARDSON:  Well, I would—very clearly, Keith, we need more men and women in the Army and the marines.  We need to improve our readiness.  We have got to replace old equipment.  We have got to do better to recruit and retain our men and women in uniform.  I don‘t believe we need a draft, but we have to upgrade the volunteer Army.  We have got to upgrade the equipment for the National Guard, define their role, our Reserves.  We need to substantially more divisions in the Army and the Marines. 

That is going to—they are overstretched today.  They are being bled dry by the invasion of Iraq, by our presence in Iraq that‘s diluted from America‘s real national security objectives, the fight against international terrorism, bin Laden, the Taliban, the entire developing and international coalition against terrorism, nuclear terrorism, nuclear proliferation, loose nuclear weapons, reducing energy and our dependents on foreign oil, reducing greenhouse gas emissions—that are the primary objectives in our foreign policy.  Not this invasion of Iraq, where we are inflaming the Muslim world.  It prevents us from trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. 

We have spent $750 Billion by the end of this year in this war where we should be spending this money on domestic needs, on health care and education. 

OLBERMANN:  Governor, the other topic here that we wanted to ask you about, particularly, that is right in your wheel house, this national security issue that suddenly cropped up in Moscow or at least became public today.  Russian President Putin apparently stunning the Secretary of State Dr. Rice by threatening to pull out of the 1987 treaty that keeps Russia from making intermediate-range nuclear missiles.  Assess this for me.  How worried should we be?  And what is your plan for dealing with Russia in this flux state that it appears to be right now? 

RICHARDSON:  Well, I‘m worried because I believe there is possibly a new Cold War starting.  We have got to avoid that Russia is a major power.  We need to work with Russia.  We need to have a strong relationship with Russia and it doesn‘t exist.  We are disagreeing over a missile system over Russia.  We are disagreeing of pulling out of a treaty.  This would doom a lot of arms control agreements we have with Russia.  We differ with them on human rights, on trade.  This is not good. 

What we need is strong relationships, person-to-person relationships.  Trusting relationships between the leaders of Russia, China.  We are all major powers and it‘s not happening.  What I would do is I would try to repair the relationship on the basis of mutual interest, and the relationship today is breaking down. 

OLBERMANN:  Do we need the missile defense system that has so deranged President Putin? 

RICHARDSON:  No, we don‘t.  The problem is that I‘m for researching it but the president wants to establish it when the science and research that will determine whether it will work is not there.  And this inflames Putin.  We need Putin to persuade Iran not to develop nuclear weapons.  That‘s what we need Russia for.  We need Russia to help us in the U.N. Security Council to deal with the tragedy of Darfur, to deal with peace-keeping around the world, to deal with Iraq so.  We alienate everybody. 

OLBERMANN:  The governor of new Mexico, Bill Richardson, Democratic candidate for president. 

As always, sir, a pleasure to speak with you.  Thanks for some of your time tonight. 

RICHARDSON:  Thank you, Keith. 

An anti-Semite is bad enough, but tonight somebody is defending her. 

He makes a big splash in worst persons. 

These other guys?  I don‘t know what kind of splash they have made, and I‘m not sure I want to know, next on “Countdown.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Twenty years ago today, Alf Landon (ph) died at his home in Topeka, Kansas at the age of 100.  The former Kansas governor lost a presidential election to Franklin D. Roosevelt, one in which he did so little campaigning that a conservative columnist actually wrote, considerable mystery surrounds the disappearance of Alfred Landon.  The final vote in the electoral college was 523 to eight.  That was in 1936.  Thus, Governor Landon got to think about it for just over half a century. 

On that note, let‘s play Oddball. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  We begin not in London, not in France—we begin with underpants.  It‘s the Hawaii underpants run, one of the events leading up to the island‘s iron man triathlon.  Runners sporting tighty whiteys, speedos, underoos race through the streets, some for charity, but most for no good reason.  All runners finished except the one kid in the underoos who suffered an atomic wedgy on mile two. 

Let‘s head to Tokyo, where this lady has been sentenced to the electric chair with cameras.  No, it‘s not the capital punishment kind.  It‘s the easy riding vehicle kind.  The I-Real is Toyota‘s new single seat vehicle that sits like a chair and rides like a car.  It reaches up to 20 miles per hour and differs from electric wheelchairs in that you don‘t have to have any infirmity to need it.  You just need to be lazy.  The car chair will go on display at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month.  So, for now, you have to keep tooling around in your jazzy or your rascal. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Bill O‘Reilly said the abducted Missouri boy, Shawn Hornbeck, did not do enough to escape his slavery and said he must have liked parts of it.  Tonight, his parents join us to answer that on their son‘s behalf. 

And good news, everyone.  The president is up in the polls.  The polls that compare him to Paris Hilton.  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 save, police Sergeant Andrea Eichhorn of Castleberry, Florida.  We told you earlier she was suing the family of a brain damaged one year old who she helped rescue from the family pool after she slipped in a puddle near that pool and broke her knee cap.  Public response to the story was so overwhelming that the Castleberry P.D. put her on paid leave.  She has now announced she is dropping the suit. 

Number two, best help to the youth of America, hanchos at Hunt Elementary School in Jackson, Michigan.  They let a reporter from a local paper sit in on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program Test, the MEAPs, and gave him a copy of the test and told him to write whatever he wanted to.  The paper printed the topics of the essays on the test to the delights of the thousands of fifth and sixth graders elsewhere in Michigan who had not yet taken the test.  Now all kids have to take that part of the test over again. 

Number one, best dumb criminal, a robbery suspect in Parchment, Michigan, ripped off a Save a Lot, a lighting from the supermarket, with several bags of stolen groceries.  He ran on to what he thought was the open lot next door, which turned out, in fact, to be the training site of the town‘s canine police unit.  The five police dogs were said to have enjoyed the groceries.  Fortunately just the groceries and not the thief. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  In what has to be a bitter irony for our special guests tonight, Bill O‘Reilly has just begun a promotional tour to hawk his latest book, “Kids Are Americans Too.”  Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, with the abductor of their son now sentenced this week, the parents of Shawn Hornbeck can finally say that they want Mr. O‘Reilly to apologize to their son.  Instead, they are getting O‘Reilly‘s self-righteous pronouncement that this kid has been through enough after four years of captivity, constant fear and abuse, and, therefore, he won‘t mention his name again. 

Mr. O‘Reilly forgetting, or perhaps more accurately wanting others to forget, that when Shawn Hornbeck and fellow captive, Ben Ownby, escaped in January, he proceeded to announce to his audience that not only had Shawn not done enough to escape his slavery at the hands of Michael Devlin, but that he liked it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  The situation for this kid looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents.  He didn‘t have to go to school.  He could run around and do whatever he wanted. 

GRETA VAN SUSTERAN, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Some kids like school. 

O‘REILLY:  What? 

VAN SUSTERAN:  Some kids like school.

O‘REILLY:  Well, I don‘t believe this kid did.  I think, when it all comes down, what is going to happen is, there was an element here that this kid liked about his circumstance. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  O‘Reilly has never acknowledged that he said that, let alone that it required an abject apology to Shawn Hornbeck, and abducted and terrified children everywhere, and the people who love them.  He would not do so even when outraged child advocates and others convinced the Florida chapter of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to cancel his scheduled appearance as keynote speaker at one of their fund raisers. 

Instead, O‘Reilly simply tried to make money off kids with another book, the advertising for which promises “the kind of blunt, cogent, common sense commentary you count on him for.”  Addressing urgent questions like does a school newspaper have the right to bad-mouth a principal and does a mother have the right to eavesdrop on her daughter‘s telephone conversations? 

O‘Reilly‘s new book apparently does not address whether some sociopath is entitled to charge 24.95 for a book about kids‘ rights after insisting that a boy who had to bargain for his life with a mad man was having a lot more fun than he did at home. 

Shawn Hornbeck‘s parents, Pam and Craig Akers, join us now.  My thanks to both of you for some of your time tonight. 

PAM AKERS, MOTHER OF SHAWN HORNBECK:  Thank you. 

CRAIG AKERS, SHAWN HORNBECK‘s STEPFATHER:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  Mrs. Akers, first of all, how is Shawn doing. 

P. AKERS:  He is doing real well with the trial being behind him and him knowing that he didn‘t have to testify and have to face that defendant again.  That‘s put a lot of weight off of his shoulder and he is doing real well. 

OLBERMANN:  Amen to that.  Mr. Akers, was he aware of these extraordinary comments from Mr. O‘Reilly?  Did he know about them? 

C. AKERS:  Initially he didn‘t know about them.  He knew something that had been said because he overheard us talking about it and knew that we were a little bit upset.  It wasn‘t until recently, within the last week or so, that he heard exactly what had been said. 

OLBERMANN:  And, sir, what was his reaction when he heard it? 

C. AKERS:  Needless to say, he wasn‘t really happy.  The comment was along the lines of until he has been there and been through what I have been through, he shouldn‘t judge other people. 

OLBERMANN:  And to that point, to both of you, Mr. And Mrs. Akers, what do you want to say to Bill O‘Reilly or who might have believed that either your son didn‘t try hard enough to get away or in some way enjoyed what he went through?  What would you want to say to him or them. 

P. AKERS:  What I would like to say is that they need to hold their opinions until all the facts are out there, or at least enough facts are out there for them to even make an opinion.  Because when they say negative things like that about a victim, it just hurts them even more.  They forget that these kids are the victim, not the adult. 

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Akers, what happened to our society that we‘re willing to blame the victim before even any evidence or enough evidence is in to suggest there‘s even the slightest chance that a victim is partially, microscopically at fault? 

C. AKERS:  That‘s a really good question.  I have been wracking my brain over that one for a long time.  We just feel it‘s just so damaging, especially when it‘s someone in the media.  And, you know, there has been numerous mentions made in the media by various people.  The thing is, when someone on the media says something like that, they have a huge following in a lot of cases.  A lot of times what they say is just taken for the truth and the gospel. 

So they could have millions of viewers around the world convinced what they are saying, even though it‘s their opinion, is the truth.  That‘s really detrimental to everyone involved.  And I think people need to stop and think before they even express an opinion like that and think about what kind of an impact it could have. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes, some sort of benefit of the doubt would be nice in circumstances like the ones we are talking about here with your son.  Let me ask you, both of you, have either of you or has Shawn received any kind of apology from Bill O‘Reilly or from anybody else who took this stance? 

C. AKERS:  No, we haven‘t heard anything.  And Pam and I really don‘t care about an apology for us.  It‘s not about us.  We couldn‘t—we could care less one way or the other.  It‘s really Shawn that was hurt.  And Shawn is the one that deserves an apology. 

OLBERMANN:  One more thing.  Monday night of this week on his broadcast, he said I‘m not going to name the boys because the boys have been through enough.  There has been a lot of this tact now that the trial is over, the sentencing is over, not just—not singling out Bill O‘Reilly here, but from people who have been much more sympathetic to your son and think that this should all be hidden away now. 

But, am I right, Mrs. Akers that Shawn doesn‘t want that.  That you have gotten the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation going and your son wants to help other kids by making sure people remember what happened to him? 

P. AKERS:  That‘s correct.  The foundation is named after him and Shawn had expressed an interest to maybe later on be able to talk to other children that might have been in this situation, or to talk to other children on how to keep them out of that situation, or even maybe to give them information on how to get out of that situation if you are in that situation.  And, you know, he just wants to reach out to all the other victims that may be out there.  When people make negative comments about that that just hurts him even more. 

OLBERMANN:  You both must be overwhelmed, beyond proud of this boy for wanting to get involved under these circumstances.  It is extraordinary, is it not? 

C. AKERS:  Absolutely. 

P. AKERS:  Yes, we are. 

C. AKERS:  We are just thrilled to death that he feels the way he does.  We are so proud of him.  He has been so strong and so courageous, so resilient.  We couldn‘t ask for a better son. 

OLBERMANN:  Pam and Craig Akers, Shawn Hornbeck‘s parents, the gentleman we have been talking about will not apologize.  Let me on behalf of the media, our apologies if anybody else made this worse for you.  All the best to you and to Shawn.  Thanks for your time. 

P. AKERS:  Thank you very much. 

C. AKERS:  Thank you for having us. 

OLBERMANN:  A quick programming note here.  On Monday, I will be joined by the parents of Graeme Frost, the 12-year-old boy, who thanks to his presentation of the Democratic response to the presidential veto of S-CHIP health care is now being targeted by the right wing.  That‘s Monday on COUNTDOWN, 8:00 Eastern, 5:00 Pacific. 

Fittingly, worst person; it‘s bad enough to be Coulter-geist, but to then go on national TV after she said what she did about perfecting Jews and actually claim she is not an anti-semite. 

And a serious and sobering development in the death of Anna Nicole Smith, search warrants in California next on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  A surprising turn in the death of Anna Nicole Smith taking the lead in tonight‘s edition of Keeping Tabs, our roundup of celebrity and entertainment news.  Ms. Smith died of a drug overdose last February in Florida.  But today the news made waves in California.  Investigators raided the homes and offices of doctors who prescribed some of the many drugs found in her hotel room when she died.  No one charged yet but California‘s attorney general, Jerry Brown, says it‘s possible a serious crime had been committed, as investigators look into the possible abuse of prescription drugs. 

Medical examiners say the former playmate had taken 14 different medications, including several muscle relaxants, anxiety drugs, pain relievers including Methadone, sometimes used and abused sometimes by heroin addicts trying to kick that habit. 

And reporters were given the old heave ho from the courtroom after Britney Spears finally showed up hours late for yesterday‘s court hearing about custody.  Today we hear what went on behind closed doors.  Ms. Spears giving the court a piece of her mind.  TMZ.com reporting that Britney spent a good part of an hour getting sarcastic and argumentative with the county commissioner, Commissioner Gordon, the very person being asked to decide whether to grant her more visitation rights with her kids. 

But Ms. Spears also got a lecture.  The commissioner reportedly telling her that her repeated defiance of court orders makes her appear to be irresponsible.  No word if Ms. Spears‘ outburst was a lip synch. 

Finally, some good polling numbers for President Bush.  Unfortunately, they are only when you compare him to Paris Hilton.  Mo Rocca joins us.  That‘s next.  But first time for COUNTDOWN‘s Worst Persons in the World. 

The bronze to Terry Jeffrey, the editor of lunatic fringe publication “Human Events,” responding to the tape of Ann Coulter‘s answer to Donnie Deutsche‘s (ph) question, it would all be better if we were all Christian; wherein she said yes, and added, we just want Jews to be perfected.  Mr.  Jeffrey told CNN that was the first time he had heard it and it was hard to discern what she really said, but, quote, she is a good person.  She‘s not anti-semitic.  I think you lost everybody with she is a good person.  The she is not anti-semitic is just there for a belly laugh at that point. 

The runner up tonight, the national security administration.  If the former CEO of Quest Communications, Joseph Nachio (ph), is to believed.  And that is quite an if, considering he‘s been sentenced to six years in jail for insider trading.  He said he sold his shares even though he thought profits would go up because Quest had a secret contract with the NSA.  Nachio says the NSA canceled the contract when the NSA demanded he hand over his customers‘ calling records.  This, he says, was in 2001, February 27th, 2001, more than six months before 9/11, which is the reason the NSA supposedly starting to get the records, which they supposedly didn‘t start trying to do until October 2001.  Whoops. 

The winner is Bill-O, describing a John Edwards presidency thusly; remember, no coerced interrogation, civilian lawyers in courts for captured over seas terrorists, no branding the Iranian Guards terrorists and no phone surveillance without a specific warrant.  Talking Points believes most Americans reject that foolishness. 

Yes, that foolishness we call the Constitution.  Bill O‘Reilly rejects the constitution and believes most Americans do, too.  OK then.  Bill, move out.  As others used to say, love it or leave it.  Bill-O., today‘s Worst Person in the World. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize.  Al Gore‘s documentary

won an Oscar.  And oh, by the way, Al Gore won the 2000 election, even if -

you know.  But will any of it, particularly today‘s accolade, persuade Mr. Gore to run for the presidency again.  Since we really don‘t know, in our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, we might divine the answer from other indicators, sartorial cues, prophetic clues.  When he responded today to his Nobel Peace Prize, he certainly offered no overt evidence that he would now join the presidential fray.  Toward the end of his comments, Mr.  Gore tucked in this very clever use of folk wisdom.  Quoting, “there‘s an old African proverb that says, if you want to go quickly, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.  We have to go far, quickly.”

He immediately made it clear he was referring to global warming and, yet—let‘s turn to television personality Mo Rocca, also online at MoRocca180.com.  Good evening, Mo. 

MO ROCCA, TELEVISION PERSONALITY:  Good evening, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  What about that African proverb?  That could easily be read two different ways, presidential run, maybe?  It does end, we have to go far quickly.  He would be a late entry into the race, needing to go far quickly?  What do you think?

ROCCA:  The former vice president is sending us mixed signals.  We are left guessing, is he or isn‘t he running for president?  It‘s really the Washington version of the Jay-Lo baby bump guessing game here.  At the end of the day, he is—A-Go, as he is known in Washington circles—is either running or he isn‘t.  There is no such thing as being a little bit declared. 

OLBERMANN:  Any other things to look for to divine from?  He was dressed in blue and red today, which is a pretty darn patriotic.  He didn‘t have the Fox News lapel pin on, but everything else was in place. 

ROCCA: Look, I think he is either gunning for the presidency or a Tony Award.  Here‘s the thing, he is the only person to win a Nobel, an Oscar and Emmy.  But the thing is, Jimmy Carter is fiercely competitive.  He could catch him very, very quickly.  If he wins a Tony, Gore will be in a singular status.  I could see him in “The King and I.”  He pulled off bearded.  He could do bald.  The musical “110 In the Shade” has a nice global warming theme.  He could do that.   

OLBERMANN:  Al Gore stars in “Cats.” 

ROCCA:  That would be great. 

OLBERMANN:  One more question about Gore here; when he was running in 2000 he caught flack because a consultant wanted him to dress more like an alpha male.  If he were actually to run again, is he going to cast aside the consultants? 

ROCCA:  I think he is through with political consultants.  I think he will be relying entirely on his own Hollywood consultants, like Leonardo Dicaprio, I think. 

OLBERMANN:  Switching gears just slightly to this poll by “On Target Research,” asking which is the most macho of the Democratic candidates.  This is maybe a little unfair in about nine different ways, but the statistic is out, so let‘s address it.  By a healthy margin it‘s Senator Clinton 37 to Obama‘s 30.  What does this mean in terms of overcoming hurdles? 

ROCCA:  Hurdles?  Try shot put and javelin.  I mean, Hillary—it‘s tough.  For months she has been running like a general election candidate, like the nominee of her party.  People like her.  They like her toughness.  There you go.  The other is bruise like grapes. 

OLBERMANN:  The same poll showed 54 percent of respondents hate President Bush.  That‘s up from 13 in 2002.  But there was a person hated more still in this poll. 

ROCCA:  He is moving up in the polls. 

OLBERMANN:  Exactly.  Look at this, he is still behind Paris Hilton;

67 percent hated her.  What do we attribute the fact that George Bush is less hated at this point than Paris Hilton. 

ROCCA:  The public has not had to endure the president‘s sex tape yet.  But the serious side of this here is that Paris Hilton drove on a suspended license without proper authority.  I think if George Bush assumed some sort of position or perpetrated some action without proper authority, people would be very angry with him. 

OLBERMANN:  Maybe we will find one if we look hard enough after seven years.  The other stat from here that seems to be a real winner, 55 percent think Dick Cheney is going to hell?  Now, the shock there is only 55 percent? 

ROCCA:  Americans are very, very charitable.  A lot of us would like to see him go to purgatory and wait it out before he is sent to hell—no, before he can get to heaven.  He‘s got to wait it out.  He‘s got to earn it.  He belongs in purgatory. 

OLBERMANN:  And this is the sort of the softball question with which to conclude the week.  The big ceremony tomorrow in Boise, I assume, Senator Larry Craig of Idaho being inducted into the Idaho Hall of Fame.  Your thoughts, Mo. 

ROCCA:  Look, he has already been through hell.  It was his own doing.  The Idaho Hall of Fame is sort of limbo if you will.  Forget that, limbo, that‘s another sting operation about to happen. 

OLBERMANN:  He also may be confusing that with Limbaugh.  But that‘s something else. 

ROCCA:  Right, right. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s another kind of hell.  Television personality Mo Rocca, always a pleasure.  Have a great weekend.

ROCCA:  Good to see you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Take care.  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,626th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  From New York, I‘m Keith Olbermann.  See you I hope on Football Night in America.  Sunday night is football night in America.  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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