updated 10/24/2007 2:29:28 PM ET 2007-10-24T18:29:28

Guest: Richard Wolffe, Arianna Huffington, Paul F. Tompkins, Bob Costas

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Good evening from New York.  Not since 1912 when Theodore Roosevelt announced his hand-picked successor, William Howard Taft, signed on as the presidential candidate of the so-called Bull Moose Party, and split the Republican votes so badly that Taft finished third and Woodrow Wilson became the first Democrat in the White House in 16 years, have we faced the serious prospect of a third party candidate utterly deranging the electoral vote.

In our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: This is the eve of a second meeting of what we can call the Theocratic wing of Republican Party to try to decide whether or not to breakaway and run its own values candidate and presumably used a path of a Woodrow Wilson in 2008.  Having noticed that the last presidential candidate it threw its support to had hood wimp them as a reward, the evangelicals now splintered in their effort to pick a new poster boy and maybe a new party at the self-named values voters summit today and tomorrow, religious and cultural Conservatives said to be finding the 2008 GOP candidates lacking for a variety of reasons.

There is, the twice-divorced former mayor of hedonistic New York city, Rudy Giuliani disagreeing their position on abortion, on gay rites, on guns, too bad for them that he is now leading among (AUDIO BREAK) might be (AUDIO BREAK) Fred Thompson with (AUDIO BREAK) Huckabee might be the best fit, might be the third party choice, but does he have any shot at winning.  Sam Brownback striking all right notes in his speech this morning in which he called for all Americans to defend life at every stage.  Unfortunately, by the time he had returned home to Kansas this afternoon, the senator has dropped out of the race.  John McCain, in comparison with the Conservative credentials to win both the race and the religious right, the only question, whether he is sincere in courting them, having dismissed the leaders of religious Conservatives as agents of intolerance in 2000.  This morning, Senator McCain is interested if not more in bashing the torture and detention policy of some unnamed governments as he was in sucking up to the religious right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I know very well the tools some governments have resorted to when threatened—indefinite detention without trial, torture of prisoners, and a belief that anything is permissible in dark places where power is the only law.  But these tools are not American tools, and the easy way is not the American way.  We must remain true to our ideals, not in spite of the threats we face, but because of them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  One would hope that somewhere in that political calculation, there is at least an echo in the Family Research Council run by Tony Perkins, convening the Values Voters Summit, that the party that would lead them to believe that represents the so-called values vote is the same party that said having children once pregnant is mandatory, but providing those children with health insurance after they have been born is optional, and not the party‘s problem.  Let‘s turn now to our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.  Richard,good evening.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s start with the “Bull Moose issue”.  Despite the all the kowtowing that other candidates are doing today, tomorrow, there seems to be distinct possibility it won‘t be enough.  Are Perkins and the Family Research Council and Dubson the focus on the family likely to caucus on their own after this summit ends to pick perhaps another candidate within or without the Republican Party?

WOLFFE:  Well, let‘s first of all be clear what kind of values they‘re talking about.  It‘s a very narrow range of values, and really when you look at what happened in 2004, which is the great claims of power here, even the president‘s own strategists said that the values that really carried them over the top were about national security.  So the values they care about in this - with Tony Perkins‘ crowd, about abortion in particular, are not the key things that drove people to the polls, Republicans to the polls in 2004.  Now when you consider that, you‘ve got to look at the range of candidates out there, and I think this talk of a third party is really to squeeze more out of the likely winners of this Republican race.  It‘s not about principle, it‘s about winning on their terms.  So, I actually don‘t take this seriously.  I think it‘s a tactic on their part, really to get more out of Rudy Giuliani.

OLBERMANN:  And what do they get?  Craig Crawford, our friend pose is, when the so-called values voters caucus at the end of the summit tomorrow because whatever support they have for individual candidates is basically one issue at a time.  That splits all of that theocratic vote and Giuliani winds being the winner anyway.  Does he actually wind up owing them anything?  Or does he have them over a barrel?

WOLFFE:  Well, it‘s a bit of both.  Look.  If they really wanted the candidate who matched them best, as you pointed out at the top, Mike Huckabee is their guy.  The whole preacher tone that he exudes, his position on the issues on abortion and on whole range of things.  Even on things like immigration, Giuliani is such a bad fit for them.  So, if the value voters as they call themselves, if they really go for Giuliani here, it‘s a total compromise of their own principles for the sake of winning.  And I think that‘s what they‘re really grappling with here.  How much do they want to win and how much they really care about their own values?

OLBERMANN:  What do they get if they go along with Giuliani?  Are they pushing for a vice presidential candidate?  Huckabee on the ticket?  Or Huckabee as secretary of I don‘t know, religion?

WOLFFE:  You know, it isn‘t really about the people.  It‘s about judges, it‘s about beyond and Giuliani has learned the phrase “Strict constructionists.”  I expect he‘ll say it several times tomorrow when gives his keynote his speech.  But‘ most of all it‘s about judges and it‘s about Robbie Wade.  Is a president Giuliani really likely to do anything about Robbie Wade?  That have to be delusional if they think that would the case.

OLBERMANN:  And about Mr. McCain‘s comment especially this context, the president may have trouble defining torture when you asked him about it at the news conference earlier on the week, sure seemed like Senator McCain had a firm grasp on what qualified and what did, but was that - the conference of the religious right the proper venue for that?  Is this another one of these unfortunately sort of senior express meets straight talk express moments?

WOLFFE:  Well, I think it‘s admirable, I really do, that John McCain would say to this audience, this is a value, an American value, a Christian value, to be against torture, and to be clear about what torture represents.  Yes, he‘s not pushing the right buttons here, but if the Bush strategists are right, if what really motivates these so-called values voters is national security, then it‘s no bad thing for him to remind people that he has a strong national security record.

OLBERMANN:  What happens long term to the Republican Party if, as time goes by and this group of religious right gets stronger and stronger, and wants its will done with the threat of leaving, is there, you know, 10, 12 years from now some actual threat of an absolute split where a third party forms that runs on purely religious principles?

WOLFFE:  I think there is a real threat there, absolutely.  The big party tent of the Republicans has really fractured on a whole range of issues—immigration, fiscal Conservatism, and obviously the social side as well.  And that‘s what we‘re seeing now.  Can they hold it together?  This is going to be a real test on this campaign.

OLBERMANN:  Richard Wolfe of “Newsweek” magazine, great thanks as always, sir.  Have a good weekend.

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Sometimes when the self-appointed, self-exempt so-called values crowd violates what the rest of the world recognizes as actual values, it is difficult to illustrate.  You have to juxtapose two tapes to reveal| the lie or hypocrisy or you have to explain contextual background.  Last night, however, the perfect swarm of HANNITY AND COLMES featuring comedian, Rush Limbaugh, made it all too easy.  Limbaugh was talking about Graeme Frost, the 12 years old whose family Limbaugh helped smear by repeating online lies about them and their finances to his national audience without ever correcting those lies later, despite the fact that even Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell‘s office proclaimed Graeme and his family legit.  Limbaugh attacked Graeme Frost for his support for SCHIP, immediately after the 12-year-old‘s appearance in the Democratic response to the president‘s national weekly radio speech last month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAEME FROST:  There are millions of kids out there who don‘t have CHIP and they wouldn‘t get the care that my sister and I did if they got hurt.  Their parents might have to sell their cars or their houses, or they might not be able to pay for hospital bills at all.  Now I‘m back to school.  One of my vocal cords is paralyzed so I don‘t talk the same way I used to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Last name Limbaugh denied his attacks, and because he cannot help himself, he had barely finished the phony denial when he attacked Graeme Frost again, mocking the speech of a 12-year-old boy have you heard him say suffered damage and still has a paralyzed vocal cord.  In the space of the following 20 seconds, unedited, Rush Limbaugh denies the attacks and lets fly with his new one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I never once attacked his family.  I attack the Democrats for exploiting them.  I attacked the Democrats for putting lies into the head of a 12-year-old, a 12-year-old they send out before microphones and cameras to sit there and say, I only want health care for the rest of America‘s children like I got, and George Bush is against it.  The 12-year-old can‘t write that garbage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  As I noted earlier, Rush Limbaugh writes his garbage.

Let‘s turn to Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffingtonpost.com. 

Great thanks for your time tonight, my friend.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  When you deny something and then you do it in consecutive breaths as, is that self-delusion or is there an oralian (ph) motive at work?  What did we just hear there?

HUFFINGTON:  I think it‘s a textbook case of projection.  It‘s when you project onto others the very pathology you‘re not willing to see in yourself.  And it‘s not just what he did last night, which is absolutely unbelievable, but also the fact that the words he used when he said that they could not defend what they were doing, so they had to lie about it is exactly what he does.  He called it brazen, which is exactly the perfect way to describe what Rush Limbaugh is doing.  He called it obscene, precisely the perfect word to describe his attack on a 12-year-old who‘s been seriously injured and has made an amazing recovery.  So, all these factors come up to this perfect case of projection.  You know, Larry Craig was doing it.  It‘s a classic case of Republicans denying what is really their own pathology.

OLBERMANN:  And if he really felt that Graeme was a victim of some sort, should he not feel sorry for him rather than mock him?  Or is this notion of pity or sympathy or empathy jus t impossible here?

HUFFINGTON:  Well, clearly the question here is trying to take an issue which is overwhelmingly against him.  You know the issue of the S-chip, the expansion of this very successful program to more American children, overwhelmingly supported by the American people, Conservatives and Liberals to take that issue and try to undermine the messenger, the 12-year-old boy, in the hope that that way he would undermine the message, it‘s a losing cause for Republicans, and they know it.

OLBERMANN:  Why do they move, Republicans, that is—why do they move so lightning fast to protect the powerful people like the generals and president when they are under criticism, or even if you want to use the phrase “attack,” use the phrase “attack,” these are grownups, these are people on the public stage for their own purposes, and get huge benefits for being on the public stage, but there‘s never a peep of defense for 12-year-old boys.  And you know, I‘m not talking about Mark Foley and Larry Craig here.

HUFFINGTON:  Well, you know what Keith?  This is a very low moment for the American right.  After all, the right used to defend the very values that this family is embodying - you know - hard work, owning your own home, staying together as a family through thick and thin, being an entrepreneur.  All those things are their values, and now they‘re attacking them in the name of attacking someone they‘re calling socialized medicine, which is so sound 20 years ago, because American people have moved on and embracing what the right is continuing to call socialized medicine.

OLBERMANN:  Lastly, how do they get away with this?  Why don‘t Republicans from Cheney on down pay some sort of price for bolstering a man like Rush Limbaugh who says U.S. soldiers are not real if they think for themselves?  Who mimics the effects of Parkinson‘s disease on a popular actor, and is now out there doing a ridiculous, insulting, horrific child abusive version of a 12-year-old accident victim‘s speech impediment for the cardinal - I mean, all these people have in common, is they disagreed with the great Rush Limbaugh, who is you know a failed baseball executive.  How is it that no one is punished, even on the right, for supporting this idiot?

HUFFINGTON:  Well, unfortunately the difference between the mainstream and the lunatic fringe is very difficult to see right now.  Where did the mainstream end and the lunatic fringe begin?  I mean, we had Mitch McConnell and his own staff putting out these talking points, we have the mainstream supporting torture, we have a mainstream about to vote for an attorney general who‘s agnostic on torture, and keep supporting a president who can‘t define it, who keeps supporting the thugs of Blackwater in Iraq, so it‘s very hard to tell the fringe apart from the mainstream.

OLBERMANN:  Arianna Huffington, the founder of Huffingtonpost.com, as always, great thanks for coming in.  Take care.

HUFFINGTON:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  On Wednesday, the attorney general designates seem like a breath of fresh air about torture and enforcing the Constitution, on Thursday, he would not even agree that water boarding was torture, on Friday he‘s in the cross hairs of John Dean for his “Broken Government” series for talking about the laws that Mr. Bush can bend at will and alter.

And speaking of alterations - did the New York Yankees know that Joe Torre would reject a demeaning new contract offer?  Did they manipulate him to resigning so they could not be accused of firing him?  I‘ll ask my friend and colleague, Bob Costas.  You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The idea that no man is above the law is given.  When a

president repeatedly flaunts the law, it‘s probably because the powers that

can check and balance him are not doing so.  On report story the man chosen

to be the next guardian of American law, is signaling that he has no more

intention of forcing the president to follow those rules than did his

predecessor.  Michael Mukasey chosen to replace disgraced attorney general,

Alberto Gonzales, impressed senators on both sides of the aisle on

Wednesday, his first day of confirmation hearings but sometime between his

first and second appearance, it was as if somebody got to him on the issue

of torture and of eavesdropping, and especially of presidential power.  The

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahey, zeroing in on a

law that strictly monitors domestic spying with this question -

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PATRICK J. LEAHY, (D-VI) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHMN:  Can the president put somebody above the law by authorized illegal conduct?

MICHAEL B. MUKASEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE:  The only way for me to respond to that in the abstract is to say that if, by illegal, you mean contrary to a Statute, but within the authority of the president to defend the country, the president is not putting somebody above the law.  The president is putting somebody within the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  In other words, anything the president does in the name of defending the country can trump or at least alter the law.  Suddenly a Bush appointee who had testified in favor of policies that protect the Constitution has seemed to reverse course.

It is all d’j… vu to our guest, one time Nixon White House counsel, John Dean joins us as part of our series of TV adaptations of the themes of his book - “Broken Government: How the Republican rule destroyed the legislative, executive and judicial branches?”  Good evening, John.

JOHN DEAN, NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  On Wednesday, judge Mukasey told the senators he would resign rather than implement policies that violate the Constitution.  He also said he would side with the president when it comes to presidential authority.  Can you do a tap dance on the Constitution like this?

DEAN:  I think a tap dance is a bit generous.  On Wednesday, clearly he was hearing the tune and dancing together with the Republicans and the Democrats.  I think it was the “Star-Spangled Banner” I heard at that point, but by Thursday, I think it was the tune that he was dancing to was “The eyes of Texas are upon you” and he could hear the drumbeat of the Conservatives who embrace torture and the concepts like the unitary executive theory and that point, he was not tap dancing, he was stumbling.

OLBERMANN:  And when you mention the unitary executive theory, how does what Mukasey say remind you of that?  And first off, in simple terms, what liberties can a president take if he considers himself a unitary executive and “liberties” is used somewhat ironically?

DEAN:  Well, it is indeed.  A unitary executive president is one who is all-powerful, preeminent, particularly in the area of national security matters.  He dominates all the branches.  It‘s a concocted theory that has no boundaries, so there are no limits to it, and that‘s part of its problem.

OLBERMANN:  And who dreamt it up, Marshall Tito of Yugoslavia?  I mean, it is just - it‘s a king with a small k, isn‘t it?

DEAN:  In a sense is. Any president who embraces with this is embracing in effect an elective monarchy.  It was something has grown.  It was concocted by some very bright lawyers in the Reagan Department of Justice who wanted to give Reagan the power over all the independent regulatory agencies of the executive branch.  But it‘s grown like  topsy, and it really has no boundaries.  We don‘t know where it begins, where it ends.  As I say, the presidents who embrace it are really embracing sort of a monarchial view of the high office.

OLBERMANN:  As you wrote in “Broken Government” that  this first appeared during the Reagan years, and yet the amateur student of history would go, “Hey, wait a minute, didn‘t that Nixon fella try something like this, too?”

DEAN:  It‘s called an imperial presidency back then and it‘s gone so far beyond where Nixon in his wildest dream would have taken it.  It‘s really the imperial presidency “on steroids and stilts” as has said by others, and I think that‘s an appropriate description.

OLBERMANN:  After reading about these hearings and watching like you could of them, did you get the idea that he‘s certain to be attorney general but would not hold him forever?  Mr. Mukasey is going to be anything other than another Alberto Gonzales maybe with a little more dignity to him?

DEAN:  Well, I actually watched a good bit of it, streaming off of c-span, and clearly he‘s not another Gonzales, he‘s not an empty suit, he‘s not a prot’g’ of Bush‘s.  You know the question is, it might be a stranger in a foreign land in Washington, and the question is, is he a fast student?  He‘s got to take over a very troubled and broken department - it‘s in dire need of leadership, and we‘ll find out very quickly if he can help heal that department.  Because it‘s essential that it be done.

OLBERMANN:  One time Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, author of “Broken Government” and our series of the same name.  As always, John, great thanks for joining us.  Have a great weekend.

DEAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Is Britney Spears reviving the Daniel Day-Lewis role in “My left foot.”  She runs over the flip flop clad left footsie of a parazzo.  No, I‘m not kidding.  And here is where she‘s storing her career and personal life.  Now, I am kidding.  We‘ll explain this nonsense extensively on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  It was 20 years ago today, when the stock market crashed, the Dow Jones spiraling more than 22 percent, was in lost of 508 points, quickly becoming known as Black Friday.  Today the Dow Jones index lost 366 points, down about 2.5 percent.  Let‘s call it really light gray Friday.  Next, the weather.  No.

Let‘s play Oddball.

And we begin with the Dow Jones in the crapper.  It‘s a house-sized toilet, a house that is a toilet to be exact, in South Korea.  It‘s a luxury hotel shaped like a toilet, clearly built by a man, because the lid is up. 

Actually, it was built by activists hoping to promote improved sanitation around the world.  It will cost you 50 grand a night to stay there.  The proceeds go to help improving sanitation in underdeveloped countries.  Ed Norton would be proud. 

To Charleston, West Virginia, where high school students are chucking boxes off the Capitol building roof.  That doesn‘t seem like it makes a lot of sense.  Actually, each contains a pumpkin.  The student team that which can create a contraption inside the box that prevents the pumpkin from getting smashed when it hits the ground wins. 

In the process, the students learn math and science skills.  While they may get high marks from their teachers for preserving the pumpkin, Oddball hands out the only A plus to the folks which dropped this pumpkin with the explicit purpose of smashing it and the van.  You move to the head of the class. 

Poison pill; did the New York Yankees try to turn the firing of a successful popular manager into the resignation of a successful manager.  Bob Costas on Joe Torre. 

And reason number one you never try to cover Britney Spears while wearing flip-flops.  A not so fleet footed photographer is painfully aware of this reason.  These stories ahead, but first here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world.

Number three, best wire service headlines, a new summary by the Associated Press at 5:09 Easter time this morning, which actually had this header on it, quote, al Qaeda suspected in blast; child rape suspect in court; Red Sox alive.  Which of these things is not like the other.  Which of these things just doesn‘t belong.

Number two, best unbelievable excuse, a woman reporting damage to her vehicle after a collision with an animal on Highway 174 near Charleston, South Carolina.  She said she had been side swiped by a giraffe.  I do know one thing, she told the dispatcher, it was bigger than a horse.  I know what a deer looks like.  I know what a horse looks like.  She said there were two giraffes.  Giraffes can be 18 feet tall and 3,000 pounds, and are not indigenous to South Carolina. 

Number one, best dame, Lindsay Millar of Bayonne, New Jersey, actually the squirrel that had gnawed through the power lines above Ms. Millar‘s, an event which caused said squirrel to burst into flames, which caused the squirrel to lose his grip, which thus caused him to fall on her car and then, while still ablaze, slide into the engine compartment, causing the engine to explode, causing her 2006 Toyota Camry to blow up real good. 

As the newspaper the “Jersey Journal” aptly put it, quote, it‘s lucky, the frying squirrel. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  In the tumultuous 34-year history of the New York Yankees under the ownership of George Steinbrenner, the manager has been changed 20 times.  Since 1996, however, it‘s happened only once, yesterday.  And it‘s not sitting very well, nor is it looking much better than a deliberate attempt to give Joe Torre a contract offer with such institutionalized insecurity that he had no choice but to refuse it, and thus to publicly assume some of the responsibility for the reality that the Steinbrenner family wanted Torre either to leave, or to stay as a perpetually terrorized employees. 

In a minute, my NBC sports colleague Bob Costas on the end of the Joe Torre era in New York.  First the review of the events that led up to Torre‘s fair well news conference this afternoon.  After taking his team to the playoffs in each of his 12 seasons on the job, winning four World Series, and losing two others, in seven and six games, respectively, Torre sat down yesterday in Tampa with George Steinbrenner and his sons, newly interested in the running of the team, after years spent missing in baseball action. 

They offered a one-year contract at a 33 percent salary cut, with million dollar incentives for each playoff round the team won, and an option for a second year if Torre took the Yankees to the 2008 World Series.  The offer was non-negotiable.  Torre, correctly reading the proposal as a slight upgrade from a temp job, immediately turned it down. 

Today, the man who has been so generous with his time with the media gave his first news conference as an ex-Yankee manager, beginning by thanking his ex-boss and explaining his feelings on the deal he did not take. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE TORRE, FORMER YANKEE MANAGER:  I would just like to start off by, you know, thanking George Steinbrenner for giving me the opportunity—actually trusting me with his club for the last 12 years.  But the fact that somebody‘s reducing your salary is just telling me they‘re not satisfied with what you‘re doing.  And I think it was just the way it was offered more so than the numbers involved.  And of course, yes, the two years certainly I think would have opened the door to have further discussion, but it never happened. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And when a reporter asked if he had any recommendations as to who would be the next Yankee manager—

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TORRE:  I‘m not sure if I‘m in a position to recommend anybody.  I just lost my job, remember? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  We turn to Bob Costas, my colleague, the host of “Football Night in America.”  Evening, Bob. 

BOB COSTAS, NBC SPORTS:  How are you doing, Keith? 

OLBERMANN:  Does your hunch match mine on this, that the Steinbrenners probably expected Joe Torre to turn this thing down and offered it in hope that they wouldn‘t have to bear the brunt of firing him? 

COSTAS:  Yes, I think so.  I think they hoped that at least a good portion of baseball fans would say, well, this was a reasonable offer, five million dollars isn‘t chump change.  It still would have left him as the highest paid manager in baseball, though it was a come down from the seven or so million he had been making.  And they hoped that fans would view it as a merit-based statement, where if they made, as you said, each succeeding round of the playoffs, he could actually have made more money by winning the World Series than he had made previously.  And if he won the World Series, they would bring him back for year number two.

But for anybody who understands the dynamics of the New York media and the dynamics of a baseball club house knows that would have put Joe in a weakened position.  It would have been an implicit rebuke.  And from day one of Spring Training, the speculation about who successor would be, or whether he would be fired after any three-game losing streak would start again.  That kind of speculation is beneath Joe Torre‘s dignity, at age 67, after all he‘s accomplished.  It just wasn‘t worth it. 

so anybody who looked at it clearly would have had to have assumed that Joe would turn it down, and he did. 

OLBERMANN:  We all hearken back to the days when George Steinbrenner would change managers every year, or twice every year, or threaten to do it every month.  And even when he hired Torre after he dumped Buck Showalter in exactly this same kind of passive/aggressive way in ‘95, the way he was just separated from Joe Torre, he went back to Showalter that winter and said, I‘ve had second thoughts.  You can have your job back.  I‘ll make Torre an advisor.  I‘ll pay him off. 

Do you think there‘s a chance we‘re going to see that kind of Steinbrennarian (sic) remorse here?  Or is the Torre era in New York absolutely closed?

COSTAS:  There‘s always a chance, but, of course, the George Steinbrenner of 2007 is not the Steinbrenner of even a few years ago.  It‘s not clear to what extent he‘s fully involved and to what extent he retains his full capacities.  So I don‘t know if we can expect him to repeat what used to be his pattern of behavior.  I guess what they would have to do, and even then I think Joe would say the door is closed—but what they should have done, let‘s put it that way—what they should have done is say look, 2008 is the last year of the old Yankee Stadium.  2009 obviously the first year at the new ballpark. 

We want the guy who not only has been so successful, but has been the universally admired and respected face of the franchise for this tremendous run, to take us out of the classic old ballpark, into the new ballpark.  We‘re giving him a two year ironclad contract, and forget about any speculation to the contrary.  And they would have some relative serenity and sanity over the next couple years. 

Plus, it‘s not like they‘re loaded with suitable options.  They don‘t have anybody remotely as well suited to manage this ball club waiting in the wings as Joe Torre would have been had they retained him. 

OLBERMANN:  Excellent point on the new ball park and the stability it would have provided.  Of course, he did a pretty good job putting a pretty bad team in the playoffs this year.  But I‘ve got to ask you, as they look ahead, are any of these far-fetched ideas going to come to pass do you think?  There‘s some speculation that Tony Larussa‘s time is done in St.  Louis.  Could he manage the Yankees?  And if the St. Louis job is open, could Joe Torre go back and manage the Cardinals where he was beloved?  Are we seeing 1964 and Yogi Bera and Johnny Keans (ph) swapping jobs all over again?

COSTAS:  Torre to St. Louis—I don‘t know that he would do it --- but that actually makes more sense than Larussa to New York.  I‘m very friendly for both men.  I have great admiration for both.  Larussa will be, as Torre will be, a hall of fame manager.  But Larussa is not a good fit, in my opinion, and in the opinion of most, for New York.  Torre could fit snugly back in St. Louis.  It‘s a very reasonable place where they love their baseball.  They‘re understanding.  And if Larussa were to leave, Torre would be by far the most prestigious alternative available to the Cardinals. 

OLBERMANN:  In New York then, Don Mattingly, Joe Girardi?  Clyde King? 

What‘s next? 

COSTAS:  The ghost of Bob Lemon? 

OLBERMANN:  Yes, maybe. 

COSTAS:  With all due respect to Joe Girardi, he was manager of the year one year with the Florida Marlins.  They didn‘t even play 500.  I‘m just saying that might not match up to the resume that Joe Torre had when he came to New York, let alone what he put together in the ensuing 12 years.  While Don Mattingly is a very well-respected baseball figure in New York and may some day be a good manager, he‘s barely served an apprenticeship. 

There‘s no reason to believe that he would be as good as Torre on his worst day. 

OLBERMANN:  He‘s never managed a game, major leagues and minor leagues.  I‘m going to go back and look at it, and see when the last Yankee manager who did that was.  It might have been Hal Chase. 

The host of “Football Night in America,” on NBC, Bob Costas, we‘ll see you bright and early on Sunday, my friend. 

COSTAS:  See you Sunday. 

OLBERMANN:  David Copperfield‘s storage unit raided by the FBI.  Money and computer and photographic records seized.  He‘s really a magician.  How come he didn‘t make the evidence disappear? 

And the worst derby.  If Bill-O can get criticized by Bernard Goldberg for an interview with Anne Coulter, that deserves some sort of truly special award.  That‘s next.  This is COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  For the illusionist David Copperfield, something all too real.  In our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, his warehouse in Las Vegas, which includes his private residence, has been raided by the FBI, possibly on suspicion of sexual misconduct.  Copperfield‘s warehouse raided on Wednesday with a local TV station reporting FBI agents seized a computer hard drive, a digital~ camera system and nearly two million dollars in cash. 

The Vegas FBI has confirmed the raid to NBC News, and the MGM Grand Hotel, where the magician performs on a regular basis, was also raided, but is not a subject of the investigation.  The “Las Vegas Review Journal” newspaper reports that the investigation, originating from the FBI office in Seattle, is for possible sexual misconduct by Mr. Copperfield, real name David Copcan (ph). 

The accuser, according to that publication, said the incident occurred outside the country.  It is entirely unclear how the raid connects to the accusation.  And Copperfield‘s lawyer tells the Review Journal that all such allegations are false.  

On to our nightly roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, Keeping Tabs.  Just like David Copperfield and Claudia Schiffer, after five years of engagement, Lindsay Lohan is not getting married, unless you ask her body guard if she is.  Lohan‘s publicist insists that the actress, recently hatched from her latest rehab, has no plans to wed, according to TMZ.com.  The celebrity website says that when a photographer recently asked Miss Lohan if she was engaged to her boyfriend, Riley Jiles, Miss Lohan said nothing, but her body guard went right ahead and said, yes.  It might be time to get a new body guard. 

TMZ also eager to supply information about the boyfriend, who spent ten days in prison for DUI, and was reportedly charged last year with forging drug prescriptions.  He and Lohan met in rehab.  Here we go. 

If you liked “Brokeback Mountain,” the sensitive, critically acclaimed, surprise hit of 2005, you probably left the theater thinking just one thing, sequel.  Well, Heath Ledger reportedly is in talks to reprise his role as Enestel Mar (ph), that according to “OK! Magazine.”  But no word whether Ledger will say OK—I mean, OK.  Co-star Jake Gyllenhaal will not be back, for fairly obvious reasons, if you saw the movie. 

One insider says the sequel, “Brokeback Mountain With a Vengeance,”—not really—the sequel would follow Ledger as he comes out of the closet.  The producer‘s motives for a sequel, they looked at the box office figure, a reported 150 million, and said, I can‘t quit you. 

Britney Spears runs over a photographer‘s foot.  Dr. Freud, Dr. Freud. 

That‘s ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s Worst Persons in the World. 

The bronze to Bill-O, who got his butt whooped on his own comedy show.  Even the endlessly belligerent Bernard Goldberg noticed that O‘Reilly continues to go nuts over perceived slights against Catholics and Christmas, even the slights which only exist within his own head.  when Coulter-Geist came on, he didn‘t even suggest from a devil‘s advocate point of view that talking about perfecting the Jews might have been a bad idea. 

I was waiting, Goldberg said, for you two to French kiss.  Contain you nausea.  Bill-O defended himself by saying he wasn‘t going to debate theology with a non-theologian, where upon Goldberg said, then don‘t have her on.  Where upon Billy‘s head exploded. 

The runner-up, your good old Department of Defense, merrily announcing yesterday it had awarded a record breaking Pentagon contract, 24 billion dollars, 24 billion dollars to Boeing, which was news to Boeing.  No one at Boeing knows of a contract of anything of this magnitude, said a Boeing spokesman. 

The actual contract with Boeing was for 24 million.  The Pentagon was off by a factor of 1,000.  Oh, what the hell, man?  You guys can‘t tell the difference between 24 million and 24 billion and I‘m supposed to believe General Petraeus? 

But our winner, lunatic fringe radioist Hugh Hewitt, who usually remembers to zip up his rhetorical fly, but he called Chris Matthews and Tim Russert clowns who have ideologically damaged NBC, because, quote, they worked for two Democratic politicians close to 20 years ago. 

Same interview, he said Diane Sawyer would be a great choice to anchor a news cast because 30 years ago she worked for a Republican politician.  You don‘t spend years with Nixon at Casa pacifica and not pick up how the world works and how great minds think. 

Apart from the transparent hypocrisy, Hewitt also notes he succeeded Sawyer working for Nixon and thus disproves his own statement, since obviously he did not pick up how the world works.  Hugh Hewitt, today Worst Person in the World. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Britney Spears has gone from stepping on judicial toes in her battle for custody of~ her kids to running over photographic toes on a Beverly Hills, California street.  Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, another car wreck for the train wreck that is Britney Spears.  The wreck would be too strong a word here, since Spears did not actually crash her car, nor did she run into another car.  But she may have broken a paparazzo‘s foot, a paparazzo who was wearing flip flops.  Well, that‘s your first mistake.

The incident occurred yesterday, most of it caught on tape by several celebrity websites.  Miss Spears driving out of the parking garage of a Beverly Hills medical building.  She honks at the paparazzi to get out of the way, and then runs over one photographer‘s foot.  Ow. 

Other paparazzi try to help him up.  Miss Spears, clearly horrified, or was she holding her hand over her mouth for some other reason?  More on that presently.  By the way, what‘s up with all them pumpkins on the dash board of the car.  Anyway, she finally leaves after photographers were heard to say, he‘s OK.  But the injured paparazzo shows off his foot.  As you can see here, he‘s wearing socks with flip-flops.  So he got a fine for that.  Now he has a lovely accessory of some tire tracks. 

Thus far no police report has been filed.  Though Hollywood TV reports the injured photographer may have broken his foot. 

And amazing as it must seem, the incident occurred soon after Miss Spears reached a settlement with the woman whose car she hit in a parking lot in August, for which she was charged with a misdemeanor count of non-injury hit and run.  She was cleared driving-wise for about 30 seconds. 

Let‘s turn now to comedian Paul F. Tompkins, also a regular contributor to VH1‘s “Best Week Ever.”  Paul, good evening.

PAUL F. TOMPKINS, VH1:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  At least it appears to have been an accident, if that‘s any consolation for Miss Spears and her faithful remaining 38 fans, right? 

TOMPKINS:  Yes, this is the first thing that‘s sort of forgivable, you know?  It‘s not a case of gross neglect or flouting the law.  It was just a plain-old accident. 

OLBERMANN:  What if there‘s some Freudian quality here?  Could she be on to something here?  Move out of the way or I‘m going to break your toe?  Is she then moving up towards an entire foot and toward a leg?  Is she going towards leg breaking?  I‘ll break your legs?

TOMPKINS:  You know, I kind of don‘t blame her if she does.  I‘m surprised this has happened way sooner.  Every time you see footage of the paparazzi surrounding her car, it‘s like the scene in the “Omen” with the safari park and the monkeys surrounding the car.  So I think that if the paparazzi are going to stand by while she goes down the Anna Nicole path, she might as well take some of them with her. 

OLBERMANN:  Or at least wear work boots.  For gods sake, are you new to this?  Are you carrying a poloroid?  One bit of speculation about this thing with the hand over the mouth, combined with her having just left this medical facility, where the accident occurred—the rumor was she had gotten Botox in her lips.  But that‘s a little unfair, isn‘t it?  She does look shocked by this.  Or could that be a side effect from—there‘s like a paralysis, like the smile on the Joker from Batman? 

TOMPKINS:  Well, she could take a page out of the joker‘s book.  He was a guy who was shocked by his own surgery.  But then he knew how to make lemons out of lemonade.  It could also be that she might be laughing behind there.  I don‘t know if she‘s entirely shocked, or if she‘s sort of thinking, in a moment of clarity, I know I‘m not supposed to be seen enjoying this. 

OLBERMANN:  Another thing here, maybe her view was blocked—

Halloween is right around the corner.  What‘s the idea with all these pumpkins on her dashboard?  Or was she out foraging for food for the kids?  What is that? 

TOMPKINS:  I think this is the key to all her driving problems.  She just loves the holidays too much.  She can‘t resist decorating.  A lot of people who decorate the inside of their cars to that extent for one of the more minor holidays, such as Halloween.  But I would say Christmas, stay off the roads, if you‘re in Los Angeles. 

OLBERMANN:  She‘ll have nine trees in the front of her car.  This other subject, this woman, Kim Rifken, whose car was hit by Miss Spears in a parking lot, confirmed she reached a settlement with her.  She‘ll pay for the car.  She‘ll pay for her rental car.  The attorney for Spears even offered to have Spears go to her home to apologize in person.  But Ms.  Rifken said that wasn‘t necessary, since Ms. Spears has way more problems right now. 

Could we also have a problem here if meeting court orders and deadlines is a problem?  Is there a real possibility that she wouldn‘t show up or couldn‘t find the place on a map? 

TOMPKINS:  That‘s entirely possible.  I think also for Kim, she‘s probably saying, well, I just got my car out of the shop.  I don‘t want Britney Spears anywhere near it.  There‘s been a precedent established. 

OLBERMANN:  And I don‘t want her running over anybody in my driveway.  We‘ve got enough pumpkins here.  Paul F. Tompkins, comedian and regular on VH-1‘s “Best Week Ever,” as always, great thanks for coming in. 

TOMPKINS:  Drive safely, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Thank you much.  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this, the 1,633rd day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  We‘ll see you in our new digs on Monday, presuming everybody plugs everything in.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

Content and programming copyright 2007 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Watch Countdown with Keith Olbermann each weeknight at 8 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,