updated 10/24/2007 2:39:36 PM ET 2007-10-24T18:39:36

Guest: Reese Halter, George Carlin, Valerie Plame Wilson

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Good evening, residents of burnt-out neighborhoods of Southern California where the ravages of the fires are exhausted, are still only permitted to return for five minutes at a stretch and only if they can prove they left pets or vital medication behind as they fled.  Yet, at the White House, President Bush is already passing the buck of responsibility if not yet the blame on to state officials.  Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, the emerging politics of the ultra-disastrous Santa Ana wildfires of 2007 in a moment.  First, the continuing crisis at the fire lines—new fires springing up in San Diego and Los Angeles counties this afternoon.  As firefighters battle to contain the dozen or so burning already as the hot and gusty winds destroy fire breaks and ruin the best-laid plans of firefighters.  This is where it stands tonight.  As according to the Associated Press, an astonishing 950,000 people in and around Los Angeles, in and around San Diego have been evacuated from their homes.  More than 373,000 acres scorched already—an area nearly twice the size of New York City.  Some 8,000 firefighters doing all they can at this hour to contain the fire storms.  The Santa Ana winds fueling the frames so strong, the scale of the fires so massive, the enormity only truly revealing itself in this remarkable image taken by NASA’s Aqua satellite.  The human scope of the tragedy revealed in by reporter Larry Himmel of station KFMB in San Diego who could only watch as his own home burned down behind him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY HIMMEL, STATION KMFB: This is what is left of my home, just outside the forest ranch area.  Fires crews are trying to safe the house on this hill, at least took a shot at it and were nice enough to let us up here.  That was our garage and living room over there.  That was the porch, right there in the bedrooms.  No pets left behind, family out, car’s out—safe, but - you can see my hose right here, I was trying to do something. 

But -

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The firestorm, the first real test of this magnitude, of the federal disaster response since hurricane Katrina.  President Bush dispatching to the region, FEMA administrator, David Paulson as well as Paulson’s boss, Homeland Security chief, Michael Chertoff.  The Homeland Security boss claiming before their departure that the lessons learned from hurricane Katrina are in fact already being applied.  White House Press secretary Perino saying that at one 1:00 p.m. Eastern, that any discussion of President Bush going to California would be premature, so premature she even said it twice.  By 4:30 Eastern, she was announcing that Mr. Bush would be traveling to California on Thursday, so much of prematurity.  As for the lessons that this president has learned from hurricane Katrina, those would be that the federal government’s only responsibility in this disaster is to observe and to assist - the fires themselves?  Actually, Governor Schwarzenegger’s problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT:  Last night I declare an emergency which opened up the opportunity for to us send Federal assets to help the governor and those who are fighting these fires.  Today, I have sent Secretary Chertoff and Director Paulson of FEMA to go out to California to listen, develop an inventory of supplies, and help that we can provide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Tonight on Hardball, California’s Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi calling Bush’s trip public relations.  Quoting him again, “I’ve got some doubt about the value of President Bush coming here.  How many times did he go to New York or to New Orleans and still made promises but has not delivered.  The anchor of NBC NIGHTLY NEWS, Brian Williams arriving on the scene this morning and joining us now from San Diego.  Brian, thanks, good evening.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS - SAN DIEGO:  Keith, good evening.  I just realized that if I look all the way around where we are on this hillside, cul-de-sac just outside the city of San Diego, within the city limits, a residential neighborhood, we can see no fewer than four fires burning right now.  This is quite something to behold in person.

OLBERMANN:  You obviously rode out hurricane Katrina inside the Super Dome, there’s as many as 10,000 already on cots in and around Qualcomm Stadium, the home of San Diego Chargers tonight.  Are the comparisons in scale and in scope between this and Katrina valid?  Or are they exaggerations?

WILLIAMS:  You know, the figure I’m using on NIGHTLY NEWS tonight, the

Associated Press, just before our first feed of the broadcast got out of

air, issued that new figure of 950 - 960,000 evacuees.  That puts this in a

super category, well be on Katrina and also makes this the largest single

peace-time movement of Americans since the civil war.  So, that should tell

you the scale.  You’ve got just shy of a million Californians on the move -

people taking them in.  The need for say nothing of temporary housing, what’s going to replace what is behind us here?  These houses aren’t coming back.  And I talked tonight to our anchors, Keith at our NBC station here in San Diego.  They asked me to come to Qualcomm tomorrow, I assured them we had a correspondent there all day.  They’re so proud of how they’re taking care of their own and the lessons learned from Katrina.  The fact that they have roving clowns at the complex for the kids, that the marines are there with cots and water and piles of food, that people are bringing food by, the way Americans used to and they have volunteers catering to every need.  The football practice stadium is now where you go if you brought your pets when you evacuated and proudly, I heard someone on local radio say today, even the pets are getting along.  So, while this is a huge crisis for this metropolitan area, for that matter, all of southern California, they’re enormously, some would say justifiably proud of how they’ve handling it so far.

OLBERMANN:  And Brian, talk about reasons for pride.  Obviously, there’s unfortunately, almost annual practice at this.  But you know, as you say the largest movement of Americans since the civil war.  We have two confirmed fatalities.  Is that the greatest testament to the firefighting effort that could ever be voiced?

WILLIAMS:  It’s unbelievable.  I spoke to people at the bottom of this hill today, a segment we ran on NIGHTLY NEWS tonight.  People who’ve been in a line, in the hot sun for the right to come see what is left of their homes for five minutes, to get, as you mentioned, pets or medicines, they were no complaints - zero complaints.  All of them have been awakened by the new reverse 911 system.  A lot of governments talked about it.  They actually instituted it here.  All of them were thrilled that the restrictions on them were so tight because it means this stuff isn’t getting looted.  We’ve seen valuables in the wreckage behind us here today, obviously we don’t disturb anything when we visit a site like this.  But they don’t have any fears because law enforcement is up here and they can only come up here under escort.

OLBERMANN:  Lastly, any of us who have ever lived there or spent significant time in Southern California during fire season know without the cooperation of the weather, all the work, all the pride, all the planning, all the organization, all the responses mean anything.  Do we any indication that we are going to get the break in the weather any time soon?

WILLIAMS:  Yes.  As you know, Fritz Coleman, the weatherman at KNBC is about the best in the business on the subject of Santa Ana winds.  This is the most bizarre thing, if you go up in the east you have a nor’easter and that’s the only time your weather, the rain hits your house on the side that never gets hit, you know the rain comes at you from the east.  There is lake-effect snow in Chicago which gets strange.  But these Santa Ana’s really reverse mother nature.  The weather goes the wrong way.  And they think, tomorrow we will get some moderation in the wind.  But, remember, today’s humidity was between 10 and 16 percent, it’s so arid, you can feel the air falling the moisture out of your skin, you can feel the air pulling the moisture out of your skin.  A few things have to happen for nature to really help these firefighters.  And they, you know, you see them sleeping all over the place, grabbing two, three hours of sleep, going back on the fire line.  They need help.

OLBERMANN:  Well, that’s the first bit they’re going to get.  Brian William, anchor of NBC NIGHTLY NEWS, as always my friend, great thanks and stay safe.

WILLIAMS:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  For more on why this fire season has been particularly bad and why it might be that that White House is already seemingly actively distancing itself from responsibility from what’s unfolding in Southern California, let’s turn it back to Reese Halter, a professor of Humboldt State University as well as the president an founder of Global Forest Science, an international conservation institute.  Dr. Halter, thanks for your time, tonight.

DR. REESE HALTER, HUMBOLDT STATE UNIV.:  Thanks for having me back, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  What conditions allowed for this level of catastrophe this year and was the Federal government warned about it?  And could it have done anything that it did not do?

HALTER:  Welcome to a warming world.  A warming world is a dry world where water is the most precious resource and we’re into it.  Since 1877, we haven’t seen a drought like this.  We’ve got overstocked forest.  We’ve got a Smokey the Bear policy, and Mother Nature has gone a wild, wild weather is in my book, my latest book.  This is as bad as it gets, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  State officials seem to be getting the high marks tonight.  The scene at Qualcomm as was described, unlike anything that we saw at the Super dome thus far.  But are there things that Federal officials could have done besides long range planning?  Is there anything anybody could have done Band-aid-wise in the last year, two years, three years?

HALTER:  Yes, it is something called leadership, Keith.  We have it at Governor Schwarzenegger has set the bar on these greenhouse gases.  Greg Nichols at Seattle started the U.S. mayor climate protection agreement and now there are 600 mayors representing 70 million Americans who have bought into greenhouse gas reductions.  Now we need it in D.C.  This is the greatest country on planet earth.  We need the leadership to say - “Hey, we are entering a warm world, and you know what?  We can do something about this.  We can fix it.”  But by sitting back and doing nothing, look what mother nature is showing us.  And if we walk away from this, the second round of a Katrina, only these are fires storms, you think it is going to go away?  Just you wait.

OLBERMANN:  Dr. Reese Halter of Humboldt State University, president of the conservation institute—Global Forest Science.  Once again, Doctor, great thanks for your time.

HALTER:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  A congressman who on month ago, said 3,700 American lives a small price to pay in Iraq tries to get another congressman censure for independently criticizing the war..

And it all looks too familiar to Valerie Plame Wilson.  A living symbol of the lies about Iraq, considering the same lies now about Iran, our special guest tonight.  You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Each and every one of them has taken an oath to protect the Constitution.  Even at passkey of that annoying clause about freedom of speech, yet when Representative Pete Stark of California stood on the floor of House of Representatives to accuse President Bush of willfully sending Americans to die in Iraq, not only did Republicans line up to slap him down, but some fellow Democrats did as well.  And now on our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, right after an official resolution to censure his comments fail, Congressman Stark was forced to apologize for having said this last Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETE STARK, (D) CALIFORNIA:  You don’t have money to fund the war or children.  But you’re going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Not only did Minority Leader, John Boehner immediately ask for apology but even Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi delivered a stinging rebuke saying that Stark’s remarks, quote, “Were inappropriate and disruptive from the seriousness of the subject at hand.”  Then this morning, Respective Boehner went further calling on the House to censure Mr. Stark for his - quote, “Despicable conduct.”  The measure failed, 196 members voting to kill the proposal, 173 voting for it, among the 173, five of Mr. Spark’s fellow Democrats, another eight answered merely present.  The whole debacle enough to make Mr. Stark finally concede to the right-wing and apologize.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STARK:  I want to apologize to my, first of all, my colleagues, many of whom I have offended, to the president, to his family, to the troops that may have found in my remarks as were suggested in the motion that we just voted on and I do apologize and I, for this reason, I think that we have a serious issue before us.  The issue of providing medical care to children, the issue of what we are going to do about a war that we are divided about how to end.  I hope that with this apology I will become as insignificant as I should be, and that we can return to the issues that do divide us, but that we can resolve in a better fashion.  I give but balance of my time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  All of this precipitated by Mr. Boehner of Ohio who asked just over a month ago about the investment this country had made in Iraq of 3700 lives, $3 billion a week, replied, quote, “Long-term the investment that we’re making today will be a small price if we are able to stop al Qaeda here, if we are able to stabilize the Middle East.”  Was he threatened censure for that?  If he apologized.

When are we going to stop this “Dancing with the Stars” torture before somebody gets hurt out there?  Well, too late.  The latest on Marie Osmond.

And the accusations that professional football players are dependent on steroids and human growth hormone are totally without foundation and merit.  Take it from me as a co-host of football—we will explain this next on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  On this date in 1918, one of the unsung stalwarts of American television was born.  The actor James Daly best known perhaps as the father of actors, Tyne Daly and Tim Daly.  From the 50’s through the 70’s was on seemingly every TV drama from the Philco playhouse drama to Star Trek : the Next Generation.  And his most chilling role and what was one of Rod Sterling’s favorite episode of his “Twilight zone” series.  Daly perfectly displayed the despair of a miscast in Harry, a Madison Avenue advertising executive who repeatedly dreams on his train commute home of a stop on a town called Willoughby, where it is still 1888.  One day he finally gets off the train at Willoughby and is welcomed by the town’s folk.  The scene cuts to a lifeless body of Daly’s character being loaded into an ambulance, an ambulance from the Willoughby funeral home.  Let’s play “Oddball.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN (voice over):  Well, this will be more comforting.  It’s a story about the promotion for the upcoming—the NFL match up there between the Miami Dolphins and the New York giants.  The giants who are giant—an enormous robotic version of Dolphin’s defense man (ph) Jason Taylor, complete with extremely creepy animatronic facial movements and while impressive in size and scariness, exactly why somebody thought unleashing a giant android to wreak havoc in London was a best way to get Englishmen to embrace American football, remains to be totally unclear, I’m down here fellow.  Then again, Jason’s Dolphins are 0-7 so who is going to say he’s going to hurt anybody.

In Sydney, Australia, former New Zealand beauty queen, Rachel Holgetz (ph) have some explaining to do when his brother gets back to town.  That’s his Messarati which she parks illegally in a construction zone.  The cops and enterprising crane driver thought he would move the $100,000 car herself and all went well until he tried to lower it into had a new parking spot.  Easy.  Easy.  Good.  Easy.  Oh! Perfect.  Finally, to Rome.

We finally found the source of comedian Rush Limbaugh’s Kool-aid supply.  It’s Rome’s famous fountain gone red with paint deliberately poured in by a dirty vandal.  Not the kind of vandals who went to Rome 2,000 years ago—these are modern—never mind.  Authorities chased the culprit on this rouge gathered around the landmark but were not able to apprehend him.  Leaflets left at the scene, it has something to do with an anarchist group’s protest—a message lost on tourists who just like the funny red water.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  As we are told again, evil doers in the Middle East threatening us with mushroom clouds, what better time for Valerie Plame Wilson book to finally come out.  The personification of the perpetuity of the Bush administration is our special guest next.

And the comedian run for president, the senators doing stand up, we let our other special guest, George Carlin try to make sense of it.  This story has the first year COUNTDOWN certainly the best persons in the world, number three best preparedness, Boy Scout troop 226 of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.  It came across a 41-year-old woman who fallen on blue mountain in Redding.  She was cut, bleeding, and eye injury concussions pretty loosely.  Scout master Chris Jake Gallagher (ph) and his eight charges promptly busted off some branches from some trees, tied together the sweatshirt the kids were wearing and built a stretcher.  They’ve then carried the woman three miles.  Everybody is fine.

Number two, best exaggeration.  Governor Mike Huckabee at Republican debate Sunday, when our founding fathers put their signatures on the Declaration of Independence, he said goes 56 brave people most of whom by the way were clergy men they said they said that we have certain alienable rights given to us by our Creator.  Nice try.  Most of whom that would mean that at least 29 signers of the Declaration of Independence were clergymen actually only one was an active clergyman, three others were former clergyman.  Nice try, gov.

Number one best invention, the Kaneko Sangyo car accessory concern of Japan that is built complete with large curtain and super sealant plastic bags—the first ever portable toilet for automobiles.  As a company spokesman—it will come in handy during major disasters such as earthquakes or when you are caught in a traffic jam.  Or on the event of another calamity, might make a portable car toilet in urgent necessity if there is Godzilla.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  On July 13th, 2003, Valerie Plame Wilson was the chief of operations for the Joint Iraq Task Force of the CIA’s counter-proliferation division.  Only a handful of people outside the CIA even knew this.  For 15 plus years she had used various cover stories to conceal her identity as a CIA operative and to cultivate a network of contacts and sources as part of America’s effort to prevent the spread of nuclear and other nonconventional weapons.  She was, in short, a rare and valuable commodity in the battle against weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. 

On July 14th, 2003, an American blew her cover to the media, trying to tarnish the credibility of her husband, who had just called out President Bush’s 16 words about Iraq’s pursuit of Yellow Cake Uranium as the lie it was.  The White House lied again, denying itself involvement.  A lengthy criminal trial later, and we learn that one State Department official and no less than three top White House aides had peddled Plame’s identity to the media. 

Despite his pledge to fire any leaker or leakers, Mr. Bush fired neither Ari Fleischer, Karl Rove, nor Lewis Scooter Libby.  And when Libby compounded his sin by lying to investigators, President Bush commuted his sentence, removing the one incentive Mr. Libby might have ever had to tell the truth. 

No one ever apologized to Valerie Plame Wilson or her husband or her family.  Today, in our third story on the COUNTDOWN, after some battling with her former CIA employers, her new book is finally out.  “Fair Game, My life as a spy, my betrayal by the White House.”  I spoke with her earlier this evening. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Welcome. 

VALERIE PLAME WILSON, AUTHOR, “FAIR GAME”:  Thank you for having me. 

OLBERMANN:  The news of the month, let’s start there, Iran.  David Shuster had reported that when you were outed, it damaged our ability to track nuclear ambitions by Iran.  Give me your professional opinion.  Is this entire experience, Iraq, repeated right down to the cherry picking of intelligence and eventually the picking of a fight with a foreign government? 

WILSON:  Yes, it certainly appears to be that way.  I resigned from the CIA in 2006, so I, of course, do not have access to any current intelligence.  But it does seem eerily reminiscent of the run up to the war with Iraq.  And I hope that we have learned some lessons. 

OLBERMANN:  Any indications that we have learned some lessons?  Another professional opinion; we watch the vice president threaten.  We listen to the president make references to World War III.  We see the press secretary very politely drumming the beat for a war or conflict of some sort with Iran.  Those are the sort of a laymen’s point of view. 

You have dealt with intelligence.  You’ve dealt with Iran.  What should we be looking at professionally?  What are the questions that we be asking that we haven’t been asked yet about this topic? 

WILSON:  There is no doubt that there is malevolent intent on behalf

of Iran, that they are seeking nuclear weapons.  There’s no question about

that.  But we are a great country and I believe that as a great country, we

can afford to speak to everyone, even our enemies.  And the idea of not

using every single tool that we have available to us, primarily diplomacy,

and it is unfortunate. 

And obviously our international credibility, moral authority has been severely eroded in the debacle in Iraq. 

OLBERMANN:  Let me turn to the book, and your story of this last four years.  One particular thing jumped out; how much do you believe, with all the information that you have had about this, that your boss at CIA, George Tenet, knew about the province of the leak when he asked for the investigation of it? 

WILSON:  I don’t know about that.  As I write in the book, the only senior agency official that I spoke to after the leak was the head of the DDO, Mr. Jim Pavet (ph).  So no one ever reached out to me.  I have no idea.  All I know is that the CIA referred this to the Justice Department at the end of September of 2003 because they thought that a crime should be investigated. 

OLBERMANN:  The promotional material about this book says some accounts have come close to the truth.  Others have veered from it.  Anybody get it right?  And in the whole process, has this given you insight that maybe we don’t have about the nature of the news media and whether or not we can rely on us? 

WILSON:  Well, the different accounts that I have read—and there is so much in the public domain.  I—sure, I was surprised.  Some of it gets it really right.  Some of it is way off base.  It has been interesting to see as it all sort of washes over.  As far as the media in the Libby trial, I think there was—that was sort of laid bear, the sort of symbiotic relationship between the media and the White House and their need for access.  I was—what I was taken with was how easily the mainstream media took what was spoon fed from the administration without digging deeper, without using shoe leather to investigate, talk to maybe mid-level managers about the preparation for the war in Iraq, post-war planning, that sort of thing. 

OLBERMANN:  Is there anything from the entire experience that stands out at you at this point and makes you say, I can’t believe they got away with this?  Or I can’t believe the media or the politicians ignored this?  Any of the things that happened to you that still are somewhat under valued in this story? 

WILSON:  Well, I’m just coming off a really—what felt to me like a very ferocious battle with the agency over the censorship.  As you know, there are lots of black lines in the book, and I would maintain that most of those redactions deal with the agency’s position that I’m not permitted to acknowledge my agency affiliation prior to January 2002.  And I would say that they have very little to do with national security, and everything to do with further punitive action by this administration toward me and Joe. 

And furthermore, I think it also was an attempt to diminish me and my responsibilities at the CIA, because if you diminish me, then the crime is diminished. 

OLBERMANN:  How antithetical to everything you were trained to do, everything you’ve done for 20 plus years before this happened, is the process of a book?  I mean, you were on the side of the people putting the black lines over the books, not the people writing the books. 

WILSON:  Indeed.  If none of this had happened, probably right now I and my family would be serving over seas.  And I would be working on something I—from which I derive a great sense of satisfaction, counter-proliferation issues.  So all of this is really strange.  But I am—finally, after four and a half years of everyone else talking about me, I get to tell my story and it is an important one, because it is a story of the consequences of speaking truth to power and the importance of holding your government to account for its words and deeds. 

OLBERMANN:  Was it worth it? 

WILSON:  Which part? 

OLBERMANN:  Knowing that you had an impact on holding the government to its words and deeds when there were probably about 10 people in the country even trying? 

WILSON:  Absolutely.  If we, you know, know what we know now then, would we still do it?  Absolutely.  Joe wrote his op-ed piece as a matter of principle and conscious.  We have small children that we have to answer to that one day when they grow up and read about this, and ask us, well, you mean, you knew this and you didn’t say anything?  So there is no question. 

And Joe and I have always been very clear that although everything that has happened to us, and it has been very painful—it’s been a long, strange journey—that is it is mere inconvenience compared to the news of American families who have their sons and daughters fighting in Iraq and they get the worst possible news, because of the policies pursued by this administration. 

OLBERMANN:  Valerie Plame Wilson; the new book is “Fair Game.”  It will certainly be one of the great original sources of American history as we live it.  Great thanks for coming in and all the best. 

WILSON:  Thank you for having me. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  The cartoons turn, turn, kick turn.  Turn, turn, kick turn.  Turn, turn, pass out.  Good enough for “Dancing With The Stars.”  And I’ve got a really icky feeling about Erin Burnett.  Comedian Rush Limbaugh will flesh it out presently in worst person.  COUNTDOWN continues. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  This is not like President Bush fainting over his Sushi in Japan in the 1990s, although it bears some disturbing similarities to Fidel Castro losing it and going head first into some chairs in 2004.  Leading our number two story tonight, Keeping Tabs, Marie Osmond—and even in an environment as amateurish as “Dancing With The Stars” you could tell this was not something the choreographer taught her. 

Live, during last night’s episode of Dancing, Miss Osmond and partner Jonathan Roberts, performing a steamy Samba—The dance left the audience cheering, the dancers winded and an almost delirious Osmond waiting for the verdict, with no sign that she was about to be literally swept off her feet. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK, before we get to the judges, let’s get some recognition—

(INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let’s go to our head judge first.  Len Goodman (ph), what do you think?  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, for the amateur dancer, for me, this dance, the Samba, is the hardest one to master.  You have to show the gaiety and the fun of the Samba.  Oh!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right, we are going to take a commercial break.  We will be right back.  And we will be right back after this. 

All right.  OK, welcome back to the show.  Just so you know, Marie is fine.  You are about to see her backstage as she awaits her scores.  And I want to just quote her exactly.  She passed out, she fainted, as you saw.  And the first words out of her mouth when she saw us all leaning over her were, oh crap.  So she is a trooper indeed. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The gaiety and the fun of the Samba.  Osmond came to after less than half a minute, saying she tried to hold her breath and, quote, once in a while it happens to me when I’m winded.  And then the judges promptly voted her and Mr. Roberts off. 

In the O.J. Simpson-Las Vegas hotel story it’s getting a little lonely at the top.  The number of defendants in the case dwindled by two today.  Charles Cashmore (ph), as planned, pleading guilty to felony accessory to robbery when he, Simpson and four others invaded a Vegas hotel room last September.  Walter Alexander pleading guilty to felony conspiracy to commit robbery.  The two plea bargaining to avoid more serious charges.  They’ve also agreed to testify against Simpson and three others in the alleged kidnap and theft of memorabilia and memorabilia people at gun point.  Simpson’s lawyer says there are no discussions thus far on any deal for him.  He still faces the prospect of a life sentence. 

So a gay Dumbledore, says a upstate New York Republican politician, means Jerry Falwell was right about the Teletubbies?  Here is the pitch to George Carlin.  It’s a soft ball.  Let’s see him turn on this baby.  He joins us next.  That’s ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN’s worst persons in the world.

The bronze to Roger Ailes, head of the new FBN, the Fascist Business Network.  Now, it debuted last week, but nobody has heard anything about it this week.  So we are assuming it is still on.  But in his usual whine mode about CNBC, where he and most of his anchors worked before we fired them, Mr. Ailes tells the “New York Times,” quote we don’t view capitalism, corporations or profits as the enemy.  If the guys at Enron did bad.  They paid for it. 

If the guys at Enron did bad?  A 23 billion theft from tax payers, investors and employees and you are still framing it as a hypothetical?  And people are supposed to think you guys know anything about business? 

The silver to comedian Rush Limbaugh.  This morning, Joe Scarborough dumped out of an interview with Erin Burnett of CNBC to talk to him for whatever bizarre reason.  She made a joke about being big footed by comedian, whereupon comedian said Erin, you said you were going to be listening.  I love listening to myself, but it’s great to know you are listening to me too.  The truth is that anybody that follows you, Erin, can’t match what you have done. 

He added later, she is fabulous on economics.  She understands it and she is not afraid to go against the conventional wisdom.  Fresh voice; I’m not sucking up here.  I’m giving you an honest, professional assessment. 

He is going to ask her out, isn’t he? 

But the winner, the Central Intelligence Agency.  This is not new. 

Apparently this was designed several years ago, noted today by the More, Better Lies Blog.  The CIA and the DCI counter-terrorist center have a logo, the Terrorist Buster, seriously.  Who you going to call?  We are trying to stop terrorists and these guys are role modeling Spangler (ph), Stance and Vinkman (ph).  Quick, get me Ray Parker.  I don’t care about radio, just get me Ray Parker.  His country needs him.  We are going to beat bin Laden with R&B, yes. 

The CIA and Terrorist Busters, today’s Worst Person in the World!

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OLBERMANN:  A TV comedian is running for president.  A Republican senator is doing stand up, and the far right is screaming about the outing of a prominent educator, a fictional prominent educator.  Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, for 40 years in such times of need I have frequently relied on one many to make some sense of this crap.  In a moment, that man, George Carlin, will join us.

First this story, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling said last Friday her books included as a subtext a plea for an end to hatred, to bigotry, and that the most stalwart of the adults in the series, the headmaster, Dumbledore, was gay.  That it was never explicit in the book, nor did many readers even wonder or care not softening the backlash.  A posting on Blogs for Brownback described it as, quote, revolting.  Dumbledore is a gay homosexual who doesn’t deserve to live on god’s green earth.” 

Reminder, he’s fictional.  Another right wing blogger said Miss Rowling was, quote, knocking the Christians.  But the choicest commentary by the conservative blog News Busters, with an entry by regular columnist Mark Finklestein (ph), the sometime Republican chairman of Tompkins County, New York.  That’s where Cornell is, so trust me, he does have a lot of spare time as you guessed; “what’s that,” he writes, “It now turns out that Dumbledore is gay?  And while Jerry Falwell was thoroughly lambasted by the MSN”—that’s mainstream media—“for his suggestion, the Times tells us that Rowlings’ revelations inspired applause.  Somewhere Jerry Falwell is smiling.”

You may vaguely recall that among Reverend Falwell’s more serious disturbances of the piece, he insisted that the Teletubby Tinky Winky was gay. 

Joining me out, as promised, a man who is no stranger to the absurdity in our society, and whose biting commentary is not just the stuff of comedy but of revelation.  His recently released career retrospective, “George Carlin, All My Stuff,” includes 12 HBO specials spanning three decades.

George Carlin, pleasure to have you here.

GEORGE CARLIN, COMEDIAN:  Thank you.  This is the best news show ever.  I told that to one of your producers and I want you to know that.  I’ve seem them all and it’s just—especially the first 35 minutes.  It’s just unparalleled.

OLBERMANN:  I’ve got bad news; between you and I, we’ve got six minutes to completely screw that into the ground.  Dumbledore, Jerry Falwell, Tinky Winky; I’m missing something on why gay non-existent characters are so important.

CARLIN:  Don’t these professional Christians have something to do during the day?  I mean, didn’t Jesus leave instructions on how to plan your day?  Something constructive?  Didn’t he kind of help people?  Didn’t he look out for the afflicted, to use half of A.J. Liebling’s quote?  Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable to complete it.  It just seems that they get off on these tangents here. 

And, of course, the homosexuality and the reading of science fiction, such as the Bible, and giving it the standard of truth—I mean, they—it would be cartoonish if it weren’t dangerous to some people. 

OLBERMANN:  And we need people to establish theocracies and go to war and all the rest of that. 

CARLIN:  And instilling guilt and shame and fear in people. 

OLBERMANN:  There is a Republican poll out that says that Stephen Colbert is fifth among Democrats.  They surveyed 1,000 people who, I don’t know, like Republicans.  Is there a period of time—have we gotten there?  Because Mencken predicted that eventually we would elect the dumbest guy in America.  Are we going to someday elect a satirical president, a guy who really has no intention—he’s doing it as a sales tool for something else? 

CARLIN:  Well, we are working on that.  We did elect something of that nature in 2000 and 2004, if you want to look at it from a long distance.  Up close, it may not be that.  I was around in 1960 when Professor Erwin Corey (ph) ran for president.  I was around in 1968 when Pat Paulson ran for president.  And I think Larry Flynt had a go at it there for a while. 

You know, it—why is he fifth among Democrats?  Doesn’t he play a Republican on television? 

OLBERMANN:  Apparently he comes in tenth or 11th down there with Tom Tancredo.  He only has one percent of Republicans.  He is, as Bob and Ray once posited, the best way to try to get elected, run for both the Democratic and Republican nominations.  You have two chances. 

CARLIN:  He is just a wonderful comic relief and I hope he goes far, and I hope he can get a couple primary states under his belt. 

OLBERMANN:  He would really upset this thing.  The reverse of Colbert

I want to play you this clip.  It is Senator Arlen Specter and a story that he says his colleague’s father used to tell. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER ®, PENNSYLVANIA:  Mother and I have sex almost every night.  We almost have sex on Monday.  We almost have sex on Tuesday. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  As odd as it is to see a Republican senator, even a fairly liberal one, from Pennsylvania standing there at the Improv, is there something positive about this?  Because if Nelson Rockefeller had made that joke 40 years ago, not only would he have been out of the presidential race, he would have had to resign as governor of New York.  Anything that touchy; is it better that we are letting these guys get up and have fun? 

CARLIN:  I liked Rockefeller because he gave the finger to the Republican convention, the conservatives in 1964.  And then he died in the saddle, which I thought was a nice thing for the Republic.  Of course he had his screw you money put away a long time before.  I think that is a great joke that Specter told.  I was waiting for Phil Specter.  I wasn’t sure—either Specter might have been OK with me.

OLBERMANN:  Well, Phil is no longer involved with the government, not directly anyway.  He is being pursued by the government.  I mentioned Bob and Ray, those were my heroes when I was a kid.  At the height of Watergate I got to interview them and I said, why don’t you do—because they had gone after McCarthy in a limited way, but a very effective way.  I said, why didn’t you do more political humor.  And Ray said, how could we make that funnier. 

Do you feel that way about President Bush? 

CARLIN:  Well, I use the sledge hammer.  I don’t do bother with the rapier on Bush.  I don’t really do a lot of political humor, but I have some glancing blows in the current show that I’m developing.  And one of them is a reference to him as Governor Bush, and the fact that I will always think of him, no matter where they hang his portrait, nor matter where they put his statue—that is what he is.  He is Governor Bush, because that’s the last elected office he held legally in this country. 

So I like moving in and really hurting them. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes. 

CARLIN:  I don’t like this, let’s be cute and let’s be clever.  I like smashing them.  That’s the only way to take care of them. 

OLBERMANN:  The other day—speaking of smashing things, I quoted in this newscast, first time in the newscast, the seven words you can’t say on television, the story of them and the fact that everybody forgets the first part of that story is the guy who had his phone tapped and would answer the phone, bleep Hoover.  We are back there.  How did we get back to the same position that we were when you made that joke originally in the 1970s? 

CARLIN:  You are talking about wire tapping? 

OLBERMANN:  Yes. 

CARLIN:  I don’t know that we ever really left.  I don’t really—I don’t think that Frank Church committee really did any good.  I don’t think all of these reforms—I think power does what it wants.  Power does what it wants.  And now they are just more naked about it.  Now they just put it right out front and say this is what we are doing to you, folks.  This country is finished.  It has been sliding down hill a long time.  And everybody has got a cell phone that makes pancakes so they don’t want to rock the boat.  They don’t want to make any trouble. 

People have been bought off by gizmos and toys in this country.  No one questions things more.  Seriously, that’s what I love about your show.  You bring the thing right to them.  And that is the only way to do it. 

OLBERMANN:  As you know, if you got the platform and you’re not doing something with it, you might as well have a trained monkey out here.  The one and only George Carlin, the retrospective is called “George Carlin, All My Stuff” on DVD.  Go buy it.  A pleasure having you here, sir.

CARLIN:  Thank you, sir.  I appreciate it. 

OLBERMANN:  That is COUNTDOWN for this the 1,637th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.

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.

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