updated 11/2/2007 3:50:59 PM ET 2007-11-02T19:50:59

Guests: Jonathan Alter

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Good evening.  A year ago, during the last election, Mr.  Bush‘s administration brought you the stark, terrorizing threat, vote Republican or you will die.  Now, he has personally rolled out his fall 2007 sequel.  Confirm Judge Michael Mukasey as attorney general, or al Qaeda will attack America again.  Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN:

The president back to the politics of give me my way or perish.  The president‘s attempt to strong-arm Congress, turning more heavy-handed than usual today.  During the speech to the Heritage Foundation on the audience consisting of a surprisingly large number of those 24 percent of the American public still approving of his job performance.  His remarks this afternoon a mix of all of his greatest hits and greatest misses beginning with the variation in our aforementioned favorite because the Democrats are exercising constitutional oversight in Congress, you are all going to die.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT:  I know that when I discuss the war on terror, someone here in Washington, D.C. dismisses it as political rhetoric and an attempt to scare people into votes.  Given the nature of the enemy and the words of its leaders, politicians who deny that we are at war, are either being disingenuous or naive.  Either way, it is dangerous for our country.  We are at war and we cannot win this war by wishing it away or pretending it does not exist.  Unfortunately, on too many issues, some in Congress are behaving as if America is not at war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  What the president apparently can wish away or pretend does not exist, his administration‘s use of torture, specifically the technique known as waterboarding.  Judge Mukasey‘s refusal to say whether waterboarding is illegal putting his nomination as attorney general in jeopardy.  Guess what?  Mr. Bush thinks that‘s wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  It‘s wrong for congressional leaders to make Judge Mukasey‘s confirmation dependent on his willingness to go on the record of that details of a classified program he has not been briefed on.  If the Senate Judiciary Committee were to block Judge Mukasey on these grounds, they would set a new standard for confirmation that could not be met by any responsible nominee for attorney general and that would guarantee that America would have no attorney general during this time of war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  It‘s not as if America had an attorney general during this time of war when Alberto Gonzales held the post.  As Republican Senator Arlen Specter admitted the nomination was in danger, another Democratic senator announced today, he will oppose Judge Mukasey‘s nomination, Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts voicing his opposition on the floor of the Senate this afternoon at exactly the same time Mr. Bush was addressing his adoring public, at least a small portion of it at the Heritage Foundation.  His biggest applause line, the president that is, by far coming when he managed to attack Congress, liberal bloggers and protesters in one simple sentence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  When it comes to funding our troops, some in Washington should spend more time responding to the warnings of terrorists like Osama bin Laden and the requests of our commanders on the ground and less time responding to the demands of Moveon.org bloggers and code pink protesters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  There you go.  Moveon.org is running the nation.  And I for one welcome our new blogger overloads.  I‘d like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality, I could be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground smiley face caves.  If you think it‘s just holding up Judge Mukasey‘s nomination that Congress is apparently threatening the safety of the nation, Mr. Bush claiming that nearly every item on the democratic agenda is a danger to you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  This is no time for Congress to weaken the Department of Justice by denying it a strong and effective leader.  It‘s no time for Congress to weaken our ability to gather vital intelligence from captured terrorists.  It‘s no time for Congress to weaken our ability to intercept information from terrorists about potential attacks on the United States of America.  And this is no time for Congress to hold back vital funding for our troops, as they fight al Qaeda terrorists and radicals in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Today‘s assault by the White House, a carefully-coordinated one, the dark lord himself in charge of defending the less than specific specifics of the administration‘s torture program, not that Vice president Cheney would admit to waterboarding or torture in his remarks before the American Legion in Indianapolis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT:  There‘s been a good deal of misinformation about the CIA detainee program and unfair comments have been made about America‘s intentions and the conduct of American intelligence officers.  Many of the details are understandably classified.  Yet, the basic facts are these—the CIA program is different, it involves tougher customers—men like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11; and it involves tougher interrogation.  The procedures are designed to be safe, to be legal, and they are in full compliance with the nation‘s laws and treaty obligations.  They‘ve been carefully reviewed by the Department of Justice and are very carefully monitored.  The United States is a country that takes human rights seriously, we do not torture.  We‘re proud of our country and what it stands for.  We expect all who serve America to conduct themselves with honor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The vice president was not asked about waterboarding in his spare time.  Let‘s call on our own Jonathan Alter, senior editor at “Newsweek” magazine.  John, good evening.

JONATHAN ALTER, NEWSWEEK:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  OK, vote Democrat and you will die.  It didn‘t work in the 2006 midterm elections.  Why does the White House suddenly think—follow the Constitution and you will die - will work now about an attorney general confirmation?

ALTER:  Well, there‘s a couple things going on here.  First of all,

that speech wasn‘t just red meat.  It was raw meat.  I don‘t think I‘ve

ever seen a president go that far in trying to scare people and rally his

base.  When he talks about Osama bin Laden, it reminds me, that this the

same president who said he didn‘t much care—didn‘t spend a lot of time

thinking about whether Osama bin Laden was just a few years ago?  So, what

he‘s playing for here are two things.  One is to get the Mukasey nomination

moving.  And the second is legacy—the only thing that he has for history

and all presidents, with a year to go on their terms; they‘re thinking about history—is that he kept America safe.  That‘s the entire SMU library.  There are no other real accomplishments.  Maybe he could put something for no child left behind.  One or two other little outcalls (ph).  But this is it for him.  This is the core of his presidency.  So, he has to keep doubling down on the fear card.

OLBERMANN:  And, that of course, will be—just to clarify that, kept America safe after 9/11 and the anthrax attacks.

ALTER:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  Would it not be easier for this administration at this point though to say, to just for once not to try to play one of these things and say, look, there times when tactics perhaps like waterboarding might have to be used and not admit they‘ve used them.  Would it not make more sense when it comes to this torture debate just strategically and maybe to clear the air a little bit that the White House could use that hypothetical ticking time bomb as a rhetorical device?  Wouldn‘t that be a little more sound than this apocalyptic version of this particular guy is not attorney general?

ALTER:  Well, you know, I think they could do that.  They could say, sure, there might be some cases where people are willing to suffer the consequences to save the world, to save New York City from a ticking time bomb, then find this thing might happen.  But what‘s really disturbing here Keith, is that they keep saying, you heard the vice president say it again, we do not torture.  But they won‘t say what they‘re view is of waterboarding.  That‘s like saying we do not torture but we believe in, you know, thumb screws.  We do not torture, but we think it‘s fine to pull your tongue out.  You know?  This is a kind of—there‘s a kind of cognitive dissonance here, which is breathtaking and I think where they need to be nailed down and Mukasey needs to be pushed, is not saying whether torture is legal or not.  He has some reason to believe that he will expose a lot of people to prosecution if he says it‘s illegal.  But what does he think of it?  Does he approve of waterboarding or not?  Do they approve or waterboarding or not?  They need to narrow the focus of that question.  Plenty of people have been wrong about the utility of torture in the past.  I include myself.  I used to think it did more good before John McCain and others convinced me that the people being tortured just lie.  It doesn‘t work.

OLBERMANN:  Right.

ALTER:  But whatever was done in the past, looking forward, everybody I think has to get on the same page and agree that this is just un-American to engage in waterboarding or other forms of torture.

OLBERMANN:  And also, we mentioned this briefly last night—enhanced interrogation, when it‘s done right, it might be legal under President Bush‘s definition.  It might be legal according to the Department of Justice.  If it‘s done wrong, and somebody dies, it‘s still murder and that‘s the part of it, presuming that the interrogators are going to get it 100 percent right.  Let‘s talk about that at a different time, Jon, when we have more time.  Jonathan Alter of “Newsweek” and MSNBC, as always, great thanks, sir.

ALTER:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Many have speculated how quickly the war in Iraq might end, were there a military draft in this country.  Tonight, there is something close.  Drafting diplomats from Condoleezza Rice‘s State Department to go to Iraq against their will and they are enraged which you could easily be into the rare insight into the memos of Donald Rumsfeld, who urged his staffers at the Pentagon, to elevate the threat, link Iraq to Iran, years before he left the Pentagon.  You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  For the first time since Vietnam, American citizens will be drafted for service in a war zone.  That‘s the bad news.  The good news?  The only people eligible for that draft, a relative handful of those who work for the Bush administration‘s State Department.  That‘s not good news.  Their response, though, may be—hell, no, they won‘t go.  Our fourth story tonight, the same diplomats whose mission entails depending the war in Iraq often, and claiming progress in Iraq wherein reply, less than diplomatic.  Secretary Condoleezza Rice last week decided to make up a short fall of 48 volunteers in Iraq by notifying more than 200 employees, some of them will have to go there, next year.  Some of them say they will quit first.  At the State Department meeting yesterday, the head of Foreign Service, Harry Thomas took questions about the measure, the first of its kind since Vietnam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK CROTTY, FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICER:  It‘s one thing if someone believes in what‘s going on over there and volunteers.  But it‘s another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment.  And I‘m sorry, but basically, that‘s a potential death sentence.  And you know it.  And then, another thought—who will take care of our children?  Who will raise our children if we‘re dead or seriously wounded?  And you know that at any other embassy in the world, the embassy would be closed at this point with all these incoming rockets and everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Thomas did not answer and when other staffers pressed him, Thomas pulled a page from the Bush playbook, ignoring the substantive questions and treating them as an attack on his own cuddliness.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRY THOMAS, FOREIGN SERVICE DIRECTOR GENERAL:  Don‘t you or anybody else stand there and tell me I don‘t care about my colleagues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And if you thought that might be inappropriate, check the expert level diplomacy on display in this exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN NALANO, AMERICAN FOREIGN SERVICE:  Twelve percent of your Foreign Service believes that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is fighting for them.  Twelve percent.

HARRIS:  That‘s their right.  They‘re wrong.

NALANO:  Well, sometimes, if it‘s 88-12, maybe the 88 percent are correct.

HARRIS:  Eighty-eight percent of this country believed in slavery at one time, were they correct?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  We turn, now, to a veteran of the Foreign Service, Hillary Mann Leverett.  Also former National Security Council director for Iran and the Persian Gulf who left the Bush administration last year, great thanks for some of your time tonight.

HILLARY MANN LEVERETT, FMR. FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS:  You‘re welcome.

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s start with the diplomatic draft, to use that term itself.  How big a deal is this, historically within the State Department?

LEVERETT:  It is significant historically.  It is the first time that Foreign Service officers will be directed, ordered, to go some place, go into a war zone, since Vietnam.  And it is correct, that normally when there is violence, when there are threats of violence or threats of attacks, embassies are closed.  Where I‘ve served all over the Middle East and embassies there will close for days at a time, if there‘s even a threat of an attack.  So, to send diplomats into a war zone, as unarmed civilians, this is unprecedented, since Vietnam.

OLBERMANN:  I have friends who have worked in the State Department.  We‘ve talked off the record about this.  Everybody keeps things close to the vest.  It‘s a job.  It doesn‘t make really an ultimate difference to most in there, who the president is, what the policy is.  They have a job to do.  Is that a suspended at all when it comes to question this sort of level of personal safety?  Is there in this some kind of referendum by insider experts on the policy about being in Iraq in the first place?

LEVERETT:  Well, look, I think most of the people that would be identified to go are people who have real expertise—real regional expertise, real language expertise.  That‘s what the ambassador of Iraq is saying is needed and what he is not getting, but people are not signing up for.  So, you‘re not talking about 20-somethings or kids just coming into the Foreign Service.  You‘re talking about real professionals with a long history of experience in the region, in the Middle East, probably with Arabic language skills.  Those people by and large were very skeptical of the decision to invade Iraq, to begin with if not outright opposed.  So, to now send them, I think it shouldn‘t surprise anyone that there‘s a lot of opposition to going, as unarmed civilians, into a conflict that many of them fiercely opposed at the onset.

OLBERMANN:  What happens either to those who voiced dissent at that meeting yesterday, or who would say if their number came up, I‘m not going?

LEVERETT:  My experience at the State Department and at the Bush White House is that if you dissent, if you disagree, there will be—there will be some sort of retribution.  You will not—you will not get the next assignment that you want and you will pay for it.

OLBERMANN:  What happens—is it conceivable that they won‘t get 48 people?  That there would actually be of this select group, estimated around 200 that were notified, that all 200 of them or a large number of them would say no, we‘re not going just an en masse protest against this risk?

LEVERETT:  Well, what‘s happened so far is there has already been a protest.  The reason why there‘s a short fall is because right now none of the—there are no Foreign Service officers—there aren‘t enough Foreign Service officers who want to go.  The reason there‘s a short fall is because people have refused to go already.  Now, what the State Department is doing is threatening to fire them, if they don‘t go.  So, I would assume that they‘re—there would be some continued protest.  But probably a mixture of a package of incentives plus, people, who will probably be identified to go, may have been in the State Department for 20, 25 years.  They don‘t have that many options outside of this career that they‘ve dedicated their entire life to.

OLBERMANN:  Extraordinary.  Hillary Mann Leverett, formerly the diplomatic corps and the Security Council.  Thanks for your insight this evening.

LEVERETT:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Rare insights tonight into Barry Bonds from Barry Bonds.  The home run king that‘s not posted an entry on his own blog since the middle of September, speaks exclusively to Jim Gray here on COUNTDOWN threatens to boycott the Hall of Fame and may have announced his retirement.

Mr. Electricity is not going to retire.  That‘s not a nickname regarding his personality, the voltage literally can pass through him.  Next on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OBERMANN:  On this date in 1880, the man who was born, who would later write a 28-cuplet poem about a fictional college football player named Bill Jones who faced down trouble in his post-sports life, the next to last couplet poem is pretty much forgotten by history keep coming back and though the world may romp across your spine, let every game‘s end find you still upon the baffling line.  The final couplet is remembered, however for when the great one, great scorer comes to mark against your name, he writes, not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.  The writer was Grant Winrice (ph) and on his birthday, his words to seemed to anticipate our interview with the berry Bonds.  On the interim, let‘s play Oddball.

How will the one great scorer deal with this?  In loc canal (ph) India, Mr. Sash Kumar is wowing neighbors and local electricians with his new talent.  He‘s immune to electricity.  Mr. Kumar discovered his amazing insulation not next to it number 46 but six years ago when his village finally got wired up to the mainframe.  As a matter of his touching wires, (INAUDIBLE) or scaling up the nearby power pole, nothing seems to shock him.  We call him, sparks.  Nobody knows where he‘s unaffected, or indeed why he chooses to spend his days climbing pole and poking heaters in the first place.  Just be careful if you shake his hand.

Back home for Halloween celebrations, while most people were merely willing to dress up kids and dogs and enough to scared local populous, one morning news production team took it a step further.

Under the desk—they showed them the ratings but more terrifying than what happened at unsuspecting news anchor at channel 10 in Sacramento is what Washington, D.C. dwellers were treated to last night.  COUNTDOWN‘s own Dana Milbank—in drag?  In drag?  Oh, yeah, that‘s right in drag.  Run for your lives!

Keep elevating the threat.  The snowflake memos of former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld revealed in the cynical, manipulative glory.

And Jim Gray‘s exclusive interview for us with home run king Barry Bonds who may have just retired.  These stories ahead.

But first the countdown top best person in the world and the three best Halloween costume.  Jon Kitna and his wife Jennifer, they dressed as a naked man and a fastfood drive thru lane employee which would have been hilarious had not Lions‘ assistant coach Joe Collin been arrested last summer for driving naked into a two, best today and unnamed defendant in Memphis, first he crashed his car into a pole and then he banged on the door in a nearby house.  And nobody answered.  He kicked in the window whereupon the homeowner shot him.  The guy took off his clothes and then he fled.  And he stopped at McDonald‘s to throw a rock to its window.  The police suspecting he may have been on something.

Number one, best waste of money.  Mr. Aw Cheng Fatt of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Pulled over for drunk driving and he offered the cop 15 bucks to not give him breathalyzer test, the cop arrested him for bribery and give him the breathalyzer anyway.  Mr. Fatt‘s blood-alcohol level was below the legal limit.  Oops!

high:  In an exclusive interview, Barry Bonds defends his home run records from allegations of steroid use. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  When he was still secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld used to write 20 to 60 brief memos each day his staff.  In our third story of the COUNTDOWN these memos were known as snowflakes.  This reminder, enough snowflakes and suddenly you‘re buried alive under an avalanche.  Like all of Mr. Rumsfeld‘s work at the Pentagon, the memos reflect the prescription for fear, for unnecessary war, for divisiveness and for the arrogant manipulation of the media so near and dear to Rumsfeld‘s heart. 

They stress the importance of elevating the threat of playing offense with the media, and one portrayed Muslims as lazy.  They‘re not classified, though they were marked for official use only.  Many were obtained yesterday by the “Washington Post”.  In May 2004, when the situation in Iraq was hitting one of its low points, after the previous month‘s revelations about prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, Mr. Rumsfeld issued a classic whopper; he wondered if terrorism should be redefined as, quote, a world wide insurgency.

He asked aides, quote, to test what the results could be if the war on terrorism were renamed.  Another memo in 2004 used snowflake as pep talk.  The challenges there were, quote, not unusual, he wrote.  And pessimistic news reports were the result of applying the standards; quote, “our publics risk falling prey to the argument that all is lost.” 

It was never about reality, but how to manipulate the press and poison

the public, especially when he was cornered.  In April 2006, when calls for

his resignation became coming from a string of retired generals, Rumsfeld

issued this memo, “talk about Somalia, the Philippines, et cetera.  Make

the American people realize they‘re surrounded in the world by violent

extremists.”  As

for other gems, his staff should go on offense with press, quote, “go out and push people back.  The war on terror is not a, quote, terminal event.”  Keep elevating the threat.  And “link Iraq to Iran.” 

and Mr. Rumsfeld even wrote that, quote, “too often Muslims are against physical labor, and an unemployed population is easier to recruit to radicalism.”

So it seems is a population subject to the manipulation of the Donald Rumsfelds of this world. 

Fortunately nobody‘s dumbing down Britney spears.  Count the you knows with us as she goes for the world record. 

And in worsts, it‘s not going well for there Aile‘s and his new business channel.  How do we know this?  He‘s doctoring bad reviews from newspaper and putting them out in promos edited to make them look like they were good reviews from newspaper.  That and Barry Bonds ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The Britney Spears radio interview is out.  And several top athletes of the 1980s are now terrified.  Back then, when I had dark hair, I used to keep track of how often ball players used the verbal crutch, you know.  The record grew and grew until we came upon Michael Ray Richardson of the New York Knicks, who had overcame a stutter by relying on phrase repetition.  He once rattled off 24 you knows in 23 seconds.  In our number two story in the COUNTDOWN, Keeping Tabs, if for a moment you wondered why Kevin Federline wanted all of Britney Spears‘ depositions not just transcribed but videotaped listen to her visit with Ryan Seacrest. 

RYAN SEACREST, RADIO HOST:  Good morning, Britney!

(LAUGHTER)

SEACREST:  Sorry to wake you up. 

BRITNEY SPEARS, SINGER:  It‘s OK. 

SEACREST:  How much does that overwhelming coverage actually get to you and bother you? 

SPEARS:  The coverage of the—I try not to let it get to me.  You know, people talk.  And they say what they way at the end of the day, you know, the tabloids, you know the magazine.  You just have—you know, you just try to keep doing what you do.  And like, you know, as long as you know what‘s up and you know what‘s true, that‘s all that really matters.  You know?  It‘s sad, you know, how people—how cruel our world can be.  But at the end of the day, like I said, you know, you‘ve just got to know in your heart that, you know, you‘re just doing the best that you can.   

And, you know that‘s basically it.

SEACREST:  And do you feel like you‘re doing everything you can for your kids.

SPEARS:  Oh god yes, yes.

SEACREST:  How often will you see them?

SPEARS:  It‘s like all in the court and stuff like that.  My lawyers know all that stuff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Ten in 32 second, a celebrity record of you knows, perhaps.  But not even wind-aided athletes regularly produce them at a clip of every two seconds or worse.  Plus, one of those you knows was grammatically correct.  What the heck, man!

Another example of verbal self-destruction, the separation of Heather Mills from Sir Paul McCartney, which turned ugly a long time ago.  Now it‘s turning into Mills versus the tabloids.  A series of interviews so emotionally overwrought that her public relation‘s firm dropped her as a client.  Mills castigates her husband for not defending her, says she knew she would be crucified if she tried to divorce him, said somebody‘s trying to kill her and blamed the tabloids pushing her to the brink. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEATHER MILLS, EX-WIFE OF PAUL MCCARTNEY:  They‘ve called me a whore, a gold digger, a fantasist, a liar, the most unbelievably hurtful things.  And I have stayed quiet for my daughter.  But my daughter—we‘ve had death threats.  I‘ve been so close to suicide.  So upset about this. 

I‘ve had worse press than a pedophile or a murderer and I have done nothing but charity for 20 years. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  If elected, he will not attend; the Barry Bonds bombshell about refusing to go to his own induction to baseball‘s Hall of Fame in what sure sounds like a retirement announcement.  Jim Gray‘s exclusive interview with baseball‘s home run king.  That‘s next, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s worst persons in the world. 

The bronze to the lunatic fringe website RedState.com, reporting to review this network‘s coverage of Tuesday‘s Democratic debate in Philadelphia, quote, MSNBC should register‘s as a lobbying organization based on the performance of Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann after debate.  I believe I heard Matthews using the personal pronounce we and they when referring to Democrats and Republicans.  Olbermann is just way out of his league, to be kind.”

Yes, one problem Red, I wasn‘t on the air after the debate.  Maybe you dreamt it, to be kind. 

Our runner-up tonight, CNN‘s Glen Beck.  It‘s official, the trolley is off of the track right there, complaining that in a he new movie GI Joe is identified as an acronym for Global Integrated Joint Operated Entity.  Because of this, he says, quote, our nation is under attack.  It‘s being taken from us in the cover darkness.  I believe some are trying to indoctrinate our own kids into hating their own country, turning us into some one-world government nightmare.  We must preserve our symbols of national pride and power, be they a flag, a cross, characters like Superman or GI Joe.

So how much would it cost?  I mean if we wanted to raise the funds and send somebody to your center?  Does that include the complete psychological work up?  What I want to know is do people really care about him?  I mean, really care?

But our winner, Roger Ailes of Fox Business Network, which fell off the radar so quickly that its promotion department immediately cut to outright dishonesty, running one of those ads with quotes from newspaper reviews, editing them to reverse the meaning.  cNBC has nothing to compare,” “The Economist.”  That full quote, “cNBC has nothing to compare with the 5:00 p.m. show ‘Happy Hour.‘  It remains to be seen if main street will be grabbed by a group of good looking young New Yorkers chatting amiably, say, about how metrosexuals are out and menergy is in after work in a bar.  But hey, ‘Friends‘ did OK.”

And, “they set out to change the face of financial news and they darn well did,” “the Toronto Globe and Mail.”  That full quote, “they set out ot change the face of financial news and they darn well did.  Now please change it back.”  Roger Aile‘s twisting quotes about his business network to change criticism into compliment, already.  You know what that means, right?  I mean apart from the moral bankruptcy.  It means nobody thinks the network‘s any good.  Roger Ailes of FBN, today‘s Worst Person in the World. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  With flawless timing, the DEA, the Drug Enforcement Administration, tonight revealed a nationwide series of drug raids.  Target, steroids; 56 labs shut down, according to ABC news, 11 million doses confiscated, 30,000 to 40,000 users identified, athletes at every level, said a spokesman.  This happens just shy of the three-month anniversary of the day Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants hit his record-breaking 756th career home run. 

If Bonds thought that was the end of an ordeal of doubt, derision, investigation and possible prosecution that begun the day it was first whispered, he might have used illegal performance-enhancing drugs, he was sorely mistaken.  Our number one story tonight on the COUNTDOWN, has evidenced tonight in Jim Gray‘s exclusive interview for COUNTDOWN and for NBC, it might have only went beginning.  And the only thing that may be over is Bonds‘ playing career.

Just over a month after the climatic moment, the Giants team unceremoniously announced Bonds would not be invited to rejoin his hometown squad in 2008.  Then clothing entrepreneur Mark Echo (ph) bought the baseball that Bonds had sent sailing into that August night for three quarter of a million dollars.  Echo conducted an online poll, giving fans three options as to what to do with the ball. 

They chose branding it with a symbolic asterisk and offering it to baseball‘s Hall of Fame.  The Hall has accepted it and said it will display it.  And that‘s the tipping point for Bonds.  Jim Gray joins us in a moment.  First what Bonds told him about the choice he‘s given to the Hall of Fame, the ball or me. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARRY BONDS, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER:  I don‘t think you can put an asterisk in the game of baseball and I don‘t think that the Hall of Fame can accept an asterisk in their Hall of Fame.  You can‘t.  You cannot give people the freedom and right to alter history.  You can‘t do it.  There‘s no such thing as an asterisk in baseball. 

JIM GRAY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  And if the Hall of Fame does accept that ball and display it? 

BONDS:  I‘ll never be in the Hall of Fame, never.  I will never be in the Hall of Fame. 

GRAY:  You mean, you personally? 

BONDS:  Me personally. 

GRAY:  As a visitor or you mean your artifacts or you mean your enshrinement? 

BONDS:  I won‘t go.  What part of I won‘t be there and you can call me.  I won‘t be there.

GRAY:  So your only thought process on this would be is if that occurs, then, even if you are inducted into the Hall of Fame—

BONDS:  Barry Bonds will not be there. 

GRAY:  Is that subject to being reconsidered or is it definite that if you are elected to the Hall of Fame there is no way that you‘ll be there? 

BONDS:  Like I said, at this time, I will not be there.  That‘s my emotions now.  That‘s how I feel now.  When I decide to retire five years from now, we‘ll see where they are at that moment.  We‘ll see where they are at that time.  Maybe I‘ll reconsider.  But it‘s their positioning.  And where their position will be, will be determination of what my decision will be made at that time. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  As promised, noted sports reporter and my friend, Jim Gray, joining us from L.A.  Jim, good evening. 

GRAY:  Keith, good evening to you. 

OLBERMANN:  No—a lot of stuff to get through here.  No living inductee‘s ever refused to show up for his own induction into the Hall of Fame.  Might he have given voters just now a reason not to elect him in the first place? 

GRAY:  Well, no, that shouldn‘t be the case.  There shouldn‘t be politics involved.  He‘s hit all of these home runs.  He‘s been an MVP numerous times.  His statistics are out the door.  He was a great, great player for a long time.  He still is an excellent player.  Marlon Brando didn‘t show up to accept the Academy Award, so if Barry Bond doesn‘t want to—

I think his reasoning here, however, is right.  If they‘re going to alter history and defame and damage him in his mind, then why should he go and why should he be there for his acceptance? 

OLBERMANN:  It was a big deal to him.  Did you get that sense?  We certainly got that sense listening to the interview. 

GRAY:  Absolutely.  I think that he‘s dead set against it.  He feels that the ball does belong to whoever caught it, and if they want to sell it and so forth—he never coveted the ball.  And I believes he probably believes the ball should be in the Hall of Fame, but not with an asterisk.  That would be altering history, as he suggested.  And I personally don‘t think that‘s right either.  I think the Hall of Fame really should examine that, because any other artifact could come in damaged or displayed and altered as well, and then you‘re going to have a commentary all the time on what, you know, somebody else thinks other than what may be. 

OLBERMANN:  The other big news in that part of your interview, he said kind of matter-of-factly in there, when I decide to retire five years from now, we will see where they are at that moment.  The five years reference is to that mandatory waiting period between a player‘s last game and the earliest time he can be elected to the Hall of Fame.  He‘s sounding there like he has retired already, right now. 

You pressed him on whether or not that‘s the case.  Let‘s listen to that part of that interview. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAY:  What are you going to do next year? 

BONDS:  I don‘t know, go to work, I guess.  I started training already.  So I‘m running the stares a little.  I‘m starting to work out again.  But Jim, it‘s going to have to be a right situation for me.   I‘m going to work out as though I‘m going to go back to work.

GRAY:  Will you retire as a Giant?

BONDS:  Hell yes.  It‘s my house, no matter what.  That‘s my house.  No one‘s going to take that away, no one ever.  No one is going to take the love of that city of me away ever. 

GRAY:  And if you had a crystal ball, is 762 going to be the final number? 

BONDS:  You know what Jim, I wanted to try to it at 764, to be honest with you, but I hurt my toe and I was kind of upset because I was born July ‘64.  So I wanted to stop at 764.  So—

GRAY:  You‘ll come back? 

BONDS:  I may come back and then I can go home.  I just—I just think that I have a lot of game left.  I think that I can help a team win a championship.  And I also thought I was—I‘m a hell of a part-time player too as well. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Jim, he seems of more than two minds here, talking about maybe, that‘s it, 762 homers or 764 homers, retiring as a Giant.  And yet he sounds like he wants to play.  Did he retire during your interview or not? 

GRAY:  No, he did not.  I think he would like to play.  He said he‘s going to train and get ready to play.  He doesn‘t know that he‘ll have a team to play for.  He thinks that that he could help a team.  Also said at the end of that that he would be willing to be a part-time player, a la Roger Clemons.  That might not be a bad idea.  He‘d like to stay on the West Coast.  But I think he‘s also resigned in his mind that if it is over, if is over. 

You know what, he had a great career.  He‘s at peace with it.  He had a tremendous statistical career.  He had a great career, the likes of which we really haven‘t really seen.  He‘s going to be going down as one of the top baseball players in the history of the game, if not the best.  So I think he‘s at peace even though he knows he can contribute.  He had 28 home runs this year, Keith, and his on base percentage and slugging percentage and base on balls were very, very high. 

OLBERMANN:  Coming back after having played just 15 games the year before due to injuries; there is that ailment too.  There‘s another extraordinary segment in your interview with him.  It‘s now three years since the Grand Jury in the Bay Area first started to investigate the steroid lab Balco.  Bonds testified.  Some of his testimony leaked.  The Grand Jury closed.  A new Grand Jury opened.  There‘s been a constant buzz about the prospect he might be indicted for lying to the first one.  Nothing‘s happened. 

He gave you a pretty definitive answer about this though. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAY:  Senator Mitchell‘s conducting his investigation.  Will you participate and answer his questions? 

BONDS:  Not as long as an ongoing Balco case is still going, no.  No. 

And I leave everything up to my lawyer. 

GRAY:  It‘s been 15 months that the perjury charges are being looked into now by the Grand Jury.  How much longer do you think this will go on? 

BONDS:  I don‘t know.  I know it ends in January.  So a couple more months, but I haven‘t been keeping up with it, not at all.  I have nothing to hide.  I‘ve said that before and I will say it now and I will look you in the face.  I ain‘t got nothing to hide, nothing.  Look all you want to. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  I think this is the right time to ask, why did he talk to you, Jim?  I mean this is a man who very adeptly cut out the media when he feel like.  He opened up his own website, posts his own blogs.  He hadn‘t even put a new diary entry on that website since the 21st of September.  Why talk now and not say, why you.  But why you? 

GRAY:  Well, I‘ve covered his career for quite a while, all the way back to Pittsburgh, through the San Francisco years, and then a year ago at this time in the summer, I did an interview after he broke Babe Ruth‘s record, when he passed 714 and hit 715, and we did an interview.  And after the interview, he felt it was conducted very, very fairly.  So I said at the end of that interview, after he stated that—I said Barry, I would like do this interview with you when you break the big record, if you do, in fact, break Hank Aaron‘s record. 

He said, at that time, you‘ve got a deal.  That‘s fine.  We can do it then.  So after he broke the record, he said it wasn‘t the right time, that he wanted to wait until the team was eliminated or after the season.  After the season, he got in contact with me and he honored his commitment.  He lived up to what he said he would do.  He sat down and did the interview and he answered all of the questions. 

OLBERMANN:  One more headline out this tonight, Jim.  Maybe one of those eternal questions, certainly the central question when it comes to Barry Bonds and 762 home runs and 73 of them in one season, and whether or not he‘s a Hall of Famer and everything else. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAY:  Those who believe that you have unfairly obtained this record through the use of performance-enhancing drugs, what would your response to them be? 

BONDS:  That‘s not true.  That is not right and it and it‘s not fair to me.  It‘s not fair to me.  It‘s not true.  It‘s just not fair. 

GRAY:  Do you think in some ways that you‘re taking the brunt and you‘re being unfairly singled out for the entire industry and the problems that they have had? 

BONDS:  I truly believe I‘ve been singled out, definitely, 100 percent. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And ultimately, Jim, about whether or not his career continues; if it‘s over, he doesn‘t think it‘s over because of the questions that you discussed in that segment there?  He doesn‘t think he has baggage that some team would shy away from? 

GRAY:  Absolutely not.  He knows he has an image problem, and we have an interview coming on your program tomorrow night where he will talk about it at length.  He doesn‘t feel he‘s baggage.  He feels he‘s a good player.  He says everywhere that he would go or he has been, they have played up to a higher level because of him and that he has helped contribute.  And when you recite and you look over, he‘s basically very, very correct.  He didn‘t have a lot of help in San Francisco the last couple years.  But he feels as though he can help a team and that he can step in. 

If a team doesn‘t take him, it‘s not because of the baggage that he brings.  He also points out that he fills up the stadiums everywhere that he goes and everywhere that he has been they come to see him.  His reaction is that the people coming to the stadium don‘t necessarily have the same opinion of those who are voting online, that it‘s a small minority, other than those who have come to the stadium, and that the people coming out enjoy seeing him play.  So he thinks he would be a benefit and an asset elsewhere.

OLBERMANN:  Jim, we are out of time tonight.  We just scratched the surface here.  As you mentioned, we will have the second part of your interview with Barry Bonds, without my interruptions, tomorrow night on COUNTDOWN.  Sports reporter Jim Gray and his exclusive conversation with Barry Bonds for COUNTDOWN and NBC.  Congratulations, Jim.  Great thanks. 

GRAY:  Thank you, Keith.  See you tomorrow night. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,646th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  From New York, I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

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

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