updated 11/8/2007 11:16:20 AM ET 2007-11-08T16:16:20

Guests: Mark Klein, Joel McHale, Dana Milbank

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Good evening.  This is Wednesday, November 7th, 363 days until the 2008 presidential election, 57 days until the first primary votes are cast at the Iowa caucuses.  Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian coalition, a man who blamed the 9/11 attacks on America and it‘s tolerance of abortion apparently now places more trust in preventing future terrorist attacks in Rudolf Giuliani than he does in the faith he has spent half a century selling as if it were toothpaste.  Mr. Robertson endorsing Giuliani in Washington this morning, despite the former New York City mayor‘s support of abortion rights, gay rights and his two divorces, the first from his second cousin.  The televangelist denying there might have been anything calculated in endorsing the mayor this way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT ROBERTSON, CHRISTIAN COALITION FOUNDER:  That I ran for president I came in third in the Republican primary a few years ago.  So I know how the game is played and I—this isn‘t some calculated decision to see who is the most electable.  But without question, I think that we do want a frontrunner from the Republican Party who can win the general election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  That clears that up.  So why would a televangelist who has said he believes the next big terrorist attack will still be coming in 2007, even before the Iowa caucuses convene less than two months from now, throw his support behind the twice divorced, pro-abortion former mayor of New York City anyway?  Because apparently, he believes the hype—the inexplicable the logic that just because Rudolf Giuliani was mayor of New York on 9/11 he might be able to prevent the next, next terrorist attack, rather than say have to assume some responsibility for putting his city‘s emergency headquarters inside the building that had been attacked previously and was again on that cataclysmic day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON:  I think the overriding issue that we face in this nation is the Islamic terrorism and I think if we don‘t realize that America must be kept safe and I think we want a leader who is strong against this threat of terror.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Shortly after 9/11, Robertson released a statement in which he said the attacks had occurred because Americans had insulted God and lost the protection of heaven by allowing abortion and, quote, “Rampant Internet pornography.”  Now that Mr. Giuliani has embraced Robertson‘s endorsement, the equally conservative and apparently moreover shocked religious group, Tony Perkins Family Council, Charmaine Yoest Family Research Council wants to know if the former mayor has embraced Robertson‘s views about the attack as well.  Top official of that council saying this afternoon:

“9/11 is what Rudy‘s campaign is fundamentally based on.  This does beg the question - does Rudy agree with Robertson‘s comments about 9/11.”

In fact, in accepting the endorsement Mr. Giuliani could be opening himself up whether he agrees with a whole range of previous statements made by the televangelist.  The 9/11 attacks segwaying (ph) nicely into Robertson‘s views on the Islamic religion.  And yes it is, a religion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON:  Ladies and gentlemen, we have to recognize that Islam is not a religion.  It is a worldwide political movement meant on domination of the world.  And it is meant to subjugate all people under Islamic law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  You mean political movement in the same way that an evangelical leader who himself run for president might endorse another presidential candidate in a party seems hell bent on enforcing non-democratic democracy around the globe?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON:  You know, I don‘t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we‘re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it.  It‘s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war.  We have the ability to take him out and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability.  We don‘t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-armed dictator.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Well, at least he didn‘t say Hugo Chavez was president of Peru.  Time now to give our endorsement to our own Dana Milbank, national political reporter of the “Washington Post.” Dana, good evening.

DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  How much of a surprise was the Robertson endorsement of Giuliani today?

MILBANK:  Well, I think we must say that nothing Robertson could ever say would really surprise you.  This is a man who claims that he actually speaks to God and receives actual political advice from God regarding elections and the Supreme Court advocated the assassinations you just pointed out.  Said Ariel Sharon was given his stroke by God for giving up the Gaza Strip.  So, we certainly can‘t be surprised by this at all.  And I think what the Family Research Council is getting at there is, there are a lot of folks out there just think Pat Robertson is a bit cuckoo.

OLBERMANN:  If you said God told you what to write in your political columns, they would test you for schizophrenia.  He says it he gets a hug from Rudy Giuliani.  Is it going to be buyer‘s remorse tomorrow in either end of this tomorrow?  Or this forgive the term—deal with the devil on both I mean—you could almost hear some of Giuliani‘s genuine supporters saying that guy?  And you could certainly hear some of the people who believe in Pat Robertson saying that guy?

MILBANK:  We can‘t rule out that Pat Robertson is in fact tell the truth and does speak to God in which case Rudy Giuliani is in great shape.  However, we should point out that God had previously told Robertson that Bush‘s second term would be a triumph.  So, he‘s fallen short on there.  I don‘t think Giuliani will ever come to regret this.  This helps him splinter the religious right, it does nothing but help him.  Robertson may come to regret this in the end if it winds up splintering and essentially destroying what‘s left of the movement that he basically started with the Christian coalition.

OLBERMANN:  Maybe somebody prank calling Robertson.  Never mind.  We got that.  9/11 which is almost all of Giuliani‘s campaign now looks almost like an emcee drawing of this.  He‘s St. Rudy of 9/11 and the Islamic extremists threatens us and Rudy can save us and Rudy was just endorsed by the guy saying really it was America being punished by the God.  And best man to prevent another one of these is turn to a guy who‘s OK with abortions which led to 9/11.  I‘m missing something in here.  What way can you fill in? A logic or what got suspended for this endorsement to really get swallowed by both ends of the deal?

MILBANK:  I will try to help you with this.

OLBERMANN:  Please.

MILBANK:  I think what‘s going on the surface is anything but Hillary and that is they will take whatever they can do and it really is just a pragmatic thing.  There may be, who knows what‘s going on in Pat Robertson‘s mind, there may be deep below somewhere, some of that sort of Armageddon thinking.  As you noted the 9/11 was caused by abortion.  He has said various natural disasters like earthquakes are caused by other social ills such as gay rights.  So, you can see the combination sort of bringing on the end of days.  And I only say that partially facetiously.

OLBERMANN:  In less apocalyptic endorsements, Sam Brownback threw his support to John McCain today.  Mike Huckabee who himself a Baptist minister responded to the Robertson‘s endorsement of Giuliani by saying that he plans to surprise some people on January 3rd in Iowa.  The family Research Council shock and awe we‘ve discussed.  Might evangelicals be more fractured in this primary season than they‘ve ever been since they have became a political force in the country or do they take the Giuliani idea on faith.

MILBANK:  No, clearly very fragmented and Paul Wayrick as well this week has gone with Mitt Romney.  So, it‘s even more fractured.  Now, what Robertson says he‘s doing is heading of a third party movement in the event that Giuliani becomes the nominee.  He may do that, there just may not be enough ump (ph) for that third-party movement.  But he also may wind up demoralizing what‘s left to the movement so much that it‘s just an impotent force in next year‘s election.

OLBERMANN:  Dana Milbank of MSNBC and the “Washington Post.”  As always, Dana, great thanks.

MILBANK:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  There is also the question of whether Pat Robertson has now by endorsing Rudy Giuliani endorsed torture?  Asked his views of waterboarding over the weekend, Mayor Giuliani telling Al Hunt of Bloomberg News that not only does he support the technique but also that he used, quote, “Intensive questioning” as a federal prosecutor in New York to elicit information from the mob.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  If I didn‘t use intensive questioning, there would be a lot of mafia guys running around New York right now and crime would be a lot higher in New York than it is.  Intensive questioning has to be used.  Torture should not be used.  The line between the two is a difficult one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Intensive investigating—enhanced interrogation—any way, right about now, David Chase has got to be thinking he took the sopranos off the air once he‘s do soon.  Let‘s turn to Giuliani biographer, Wayne Barrett, author of “Grand Illusion: The untold story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11.”  He‘s also senior editor of the “Village Voice” in New York.  Thanks again for your time tonight, sir.

WAYNE BARRETT, GIULIANI BIOGRAPHER:  Great to be here, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Though, there would seem to be only two options here.  Either in his days as federal prosecutor in the southern district of New York, Rudy Giuliani waterboarded suspects in prosecutions of Ricco (ph) cases or he‘s making all this up.  Which one - as a guy who studied this man, which seems more realistic to you?

BARRETT:  I think he might have been referring to the questioning he got when he got home from Donna (ph).  He certainly, as a federal prosecutor, let‘s look at his big mob cases.  His biggest mob case was the commission case.  It was a tape case, Keith.  He got some of the tapes.  Mostly the FBI and even the state prosecutors in New York got tapes.  They didn‘t flip a member of the commission.  They had a bug in the home of Paul Castellano, the head of the Gambino crime family and the head of the commission.  That‘s how they made those cases.  There wasn‘t any serious interrogation.  Not only that, assistant U.S. attorneys and FBI agents questioned witnesses.  Not the United States attorney for the southern district of New York.  Now, when he was a young prosecutor in the early 1970s, at the start really of his career, then he did make cases from the ground up.  And he made himself famous, really in New York, by cross-examining a congressman who he indicted in 1974 named Burt Podell and he has claimed ever since that that cross-examination resulted in the middle of the cross-examination of Podell suddenly deciding to plead guilty.  Well, in our books, both books, really, we examine his interrogation history and, clearly what happened, is that they had already reached an agreement—Rudy and the defense attorneys on the terms of a plea for Burt Podell.  But they had to wait for the plea agreement to be approved in Washington.  So the cross-examination proceeded and at the lunch break, Rudy walks up to the attorneys - and this is all supported in the transcript of the case, by the way.  Rudy walks up to the attorneys and says “I‘ve got approval.  Let‘s sign the agreement.  Let‘s settle the agreement.”  They get together in a conference room.  They come back and the guy pleads guilty.  Rudy attributed that to his cross-examination which was described in the news accounts as very—not very spectacular at all.  Pretty mundane.

OLBERMANN:  So, it‘s less waterboarding and more watercress sandwich that do that one.  But to begin with, no New Yorkers ever going to believe there is a room in bowels (ph) of the Federal Court house in Brooklyn where made men was strapped down with the towel stuff in their mouths and noses and they were drenched with water and Giuliani supervised or had reports sent back to him.  But, you know, he is not trying to convince New Yorkers who got on to his act a long time ago but does this not just play into this Giuliani fiction, this white knight idea on the national level, this idea that he single-handedly tamed godless, lawless, mafia-run New York and turned it into the shining Disney attraction it is today and he has merely updated the metaphor now for fans of the sopranos?

BARRETT:  Certainly he has a decent record as a mob prosecutor.  He happened to prosecute the wrong head of the Genovese crime family which was then the largest crime family in the city.  He indicted fat Tony Salerno, the head of that crime family and it was subsequently established that John Gotti was the head of that crime family.  So, he got the wrong head of one of the five crime families.  But no one can take away from him he is a federal prosecutor successfully prosecuted important mob cases.  You can‘t take that away from him.  But it doesn‘t say anything about his ability to interrogate individuals in any kind of a setting.

OLBERMANN:  Put the waterboarding stuff together with the Pat Robertson endorsement today, is this support lies nationally, is this a net gain for Giuliani or a net loss?

BARRETT:  Well, the Robertson thing is certainly going to help him in Republican primaries.  I don‘t think it helps him at all in November.  But I think it helps him in Republican primaries.  You know, he certainly has somebody with Christian credentials in some corner of the world to support him.  I think the Brownback endorsement is an important feather in the cap of John McCain.  And John McCain is, I believe, probably, the only Republican who may be able to stop Rudy Giuliani in the long term.  I think he is the most significant candidate who may be able to stop him from getting the nomination.  So, I think this is a good day for McCain and, yet, the Robertson thing seems to be dominating the press coverage.

OLBERMANN:  And if it doesn‘t, Rudy can always waterboard us.  Wayne Barrett, author of “Grand Illusion, the untold story of Rudy Giuliani in 9/11.”  As always sir, great thanks for stripping some of this away and being with us tonight.

BARRETT:  Glad to be here.

OLBERMANN:  Congratulations to the current president of United States, his America, exactly 21 percent of it believes we‘re headed in the right direction.  And if you just listen to every American, or read everything he writes, maybe you would know the heart of the nation.  Or, maybe you would be at AT&T helping the NSA spy on us without warrants.  The whistleblower who saw them physically saw them doing it joins us.  You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  For purposes of historical placement, the record low was 14 percent of the respondents to the NBC/Wall street journal poll in July of 1992 thought the country was going in the right direction.  The record high 72 percent in September of 2001.  Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN—that being said, the latest taking of the nation‘s temperature on this does not suggest everybody is happy or nearly anybody.  Sixty-seven percent of registered voters believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.  Just a year ago that was only 54 percent.  As late as February of 2005 it was still below 50 percent.  The new polling also showing most voters believe that the country is in a state of decline—that by 57 percent to 38 percent margin.  There is a lot of candidate sensitive polling, surprise, surprise.  Hillary Clinton still leading among Democrats 47 to 25 over Barack Obama.  Giuliani still leading over John McCain and Fred Thompson, 33 to 16 to 15.  The generic Democrat beats the generic Republican handedly.  But a Giuliani/Clinton showdown would be well within the margin of error now.  Clinton by a point.  Two months ago she led him by seven.  There is an interesting polling specifically about Mr. Giuliani.  The things that concern voters most about him being, he has little experience on foreign policy or national defense issues -- 30 percent said that, you could say more than one thing.  He is only running based on 9/11 -- 26 percent.  He doesn‘t have enough experience, period -- 21 percent.  And that last one there he isn‘t conservative enough on social issues -- 12 percent.  Begging the question, what was that Robertson endorsement today really about?  Back to the generals, although voter approval of Congress itself is low.  The electorate clearly prefers a Democratic-led one over a Republican-led one 46 to 37.  Signs of the Democratic preference in yesterdays states‘ election two, the other kind of polls is Ernie Fletcher, Kentucky‘s first Republican governor in decades tossed out after a single term.  Even prayer did not help the governor.  His last-minute decision to order the display of the 10 commandments at the capital trump by something a little more secular—his ethics scandals.

Speaking of, which Bill O‘Reilly resorting to faith based television ratings, the reality of the math so infuriates him and we know he can‘t attack me by name, so, he swings at NBC and misses.  We‘ll review.  And If you have been reluctant how to use chop sticks perhaps, we have additional incentive tonight the chop stick bra  next on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  On this date, exactly 170 years ago, a mob attacked a printing press newly delivered to a St. Louis based newspaper.  When the editor of the “St. Louis Observer,” Elijah Paris Lovejoy tried to fend them off, somebody shot and killed him.  Lovejoy had the audacity to print editorials demanding an immediate end to slavery.  And there wasn‘t even FOX News talk radio then.  Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin in Tokyo with the new cutting edge in undergarment technology.  It‘s the over-the-shoulder chopsticks holder for the environmentally conscious bra-wearing lady on the go.  Say goodbye of today‘s cramming chopsticks into your fanny pack by tossing the disposable utensils in the trash, no it install them directly under your armpit, slide them out and chow down.  The problem is, of course, an hour later you want to go searching inside another bra.  I know what you‘re thinking, Keith, how much do I pay for this amazing product?  Actually the bra‘s maker Triumph made only one bra prototype to promote conservation.  Well, Triumph it sure is a shining example for me to poop on.

Wilmington, North Carolina, another issue of animal crime caught on tape.  This is surveillance video shot at the boutique of a fox doing laps around assorted merchandise.  Sick freak.  The crazy animal came in the front door, browsed around for a while, not really bothering anybody, clearly was offended by the outrageous prices and left.  Thankfully nobody was injured in the melee and the fox later found what it was looking in the area Wal-Mart.

Finally, to Shilling (ph) in the Netherlands, where a bunch of bananas has mysteriously washed up on the beach.  Actually hundreds of bunches of bananas, 2,000 bananas at least have washed up on the beach.  Locals suspect there from a cargo container that might have falling off a passing ship.  I mean, no ship has claimed to have lost a cargo container full of bananas.  Plus, there was that life size statue of liberty that they found sticking up out of the sand, you damn dirty apes, blew up.

So, did AT&T help the Bush administration spying on us without warrants but it built the spies their own room.  And our special guests, Mark Klein saw them do it.  And we saw Bill O do it as well, lie through his teeth about things he doesn‘t understand like television because the “New York times” reported the fact that he has coughed up two thirds of rating lead in four years.  We‘ll translate his babble for you ahead.

But first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world.  The three best pragmatism John Waters hair spray fame in an interview with the Indianapolis newspaper asked about the Larry Craig event quoting Waters, “Oh, at the airport?  I hear that airport is becoming a big tourist attraction?  I want to make a movie about it last stall on the left.”  Sex in a public bathroom?  How could you?

Number two, Peter and Allis Cirioli of Kerry (ph), North Carolina, new born twins, Peter is older than Allison but Allison is also older than Peter.  Peter was born first at 1:32 a.m. eastern daylight time on Sunday, November 4th but by the time Allison emerged 34 minutes later the clocks had all been turned back, the end of daylight savings so she was born at 1:06 a.m. eastern standard time on Sunday, November 4th.  Dad says he will let the twins work it out for themselves later.

Number one best escape artist Benjamin Franklin Hanson, Derek Humes and Greg Marston, three convicts at the Rolalo (ph) Prison Farm in North of Quebec in Australia.  What cunning, what daring, the warden had them cleaning the prison‘s Toyota Landcruiser.  In the breathtaking escape, they hot wired the car and drove away.  Who could have predicted that?

Then, by the way, is part of MSNBC‘s “Green Week.”  Instead of throwing them up in the air as I normally do I‘m recycling them.  Should make you feel just as good and entertain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  In room 226 of the Dirkson (ph) Building in Washington tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider whether to protect some of America‘s most powerful corporate executives from the legal consequences of having spied on the rest of us in this country.  In our third story tonight, an AT&T whistle-blower today told members of Congress much more than that is at stake with the secret crimes that took place at Room 641A of AT&T‘s Fulsome Street facility in San Francisco, and potentially at others throughout country.  Specifically, retired 22 year AT&T technician Mark Klein says that despite Mr. Bush‘s claims, the U.S.  government used AT&T‘s cooperation to spy not only on overseas communications, but to vacuum up virtually all of America‘s use of the Internet for years, email, Googling, web surfing, you name it, thanks to AT&T‘s secure rooms, like 641A in San Francisco, accessible only to those cleared by the NSA. 

Klein obtaining AT&T schematics showing how the company used splitters to send secure room 641A a duplicate of every fiber-optic signal routed through its facilities. It involved not just AT&T customers, but virtually every Internet and telecommunications company, and virtually all email and web traffic in the country, without a warrant, without any mechanism for separating domestic from overseas, without separating suspect from citizen. 

We welcome now former AT&T technician Mark Klein, whose documentation and claims are now part of a class action lawsuit against AT&T, one of 38 telecom spy lawsuits.  AT&T so far declining to comment on the specifics of the allegations.  Mr. Klein, great thanks for speaking out tonight. 

MARK KLEIN, GOVERNMENT SPYING WHISTLE BLOWER:  Thanks for inviting me. 

OLBERMANN:  The Senate is considering granting the telecom executives immunity.  You lobbied Congress today not to do so.  How come? 

KLEIN:  Well, if they give them immunity, it would probably shut down the lawsuit that I‘m a witness for, and then the American people won‘t find out what‘s really going on.  And so that‘s why I‘m here to stop immunity.  Congress should let the judicial process go forward. 

OLBERMANN:  Two parts here; first, can you explain to those of us that could use the Internet, but would not be able to tell the difference between its physical form and a box full of guitar strings, exactly what happened in that secure room or secret room 641A? 

KLEIN:  I don‘t know what goes on in the secret room, because I didn‘t have security clearance.  But I know what went on outside, because my job - - I worked in the Internet room.  My job was to connect circuits into the splitter device which was hard wired to the secret room.  And effectively the splitter copied the entire data stream of those Internet cables into the secret room. 

We are talking about phone conversations, email, web browsing, everything that goes across the Internet.  And that device, the splitters, is a dumb device.  It doesn‘t do any selection at all. 

OLBERMANN:  And the follow-up to that, as you mentioned, you didn‘t have the security, the NSA clearance.  So give us an idea how you know all of this, in addition to your expertise as a technician. 

KLEIN:  As a technician, I had the engineering wiring documents, which told me how the splitter was wired to the secret room.  So I had to know that in order to do my job.  So I know that whatever went across those cables was copied.  The entire data stream was copied into the secret room.  The splitter device has no selective capability, just copies everything. 

We are talking about domestic traffic, as well as international traffic.  And that‘s what got me upset to begin with. 

OLBERMANN:  I was just going to say, Mr. Klein, this huge distinction the White House made when all of this was first revealed, what its defenders still say; we were just intercepting international communications; no domestic communications were affected.  I take it you don‘t buy that it in the slightest? 

KLEIN:  No.  I know that wasn‘t not true.  That‘s what got me going in December of 2005, when the “New York Times” revealed this, and then the administration came back, the president himself, and various cabinet people, trying to argue—and they still do—that it‘s just international communications.  It just effects a handful of people who were making phone calls to the Middle East. 

I know the physical equipment and I know that statement is not true.  It involves millions of communications, a lot of it domestic communications that they‘re copying wholesale, sweeping up into that secret room. 

OLBERMANN:  When you saw this and realized what was going on, what was this like?  Was this like sitting there and finding yourself in a scene from the sci-fi flick “Invasion of The Body Snatchers?”  Did it have that sort of horror quality to it? 

KLEIN:  I‘m a little older, so my thought was George Orwell‘s 1984, and here I am being forced to connect the big brother machine. 

OLBERMANN:  Oh, boy. 

KLEIN:  I felt I was in a funny position, but I needed my job so I didn‘t want to make a fuss.  After I retired, I thought about it some more. 

OLBERMANN:  In talking to Congress today, what did you hear?  Did you get a sense that anybody is prepared to go after not just the telecom execs but the government officials who ordered this. 

KLEIN:  I couldn‘t tell.  I‘m not a politician.  They play their cards close to the vest.  All I can do is emphasize, again, that they are copying everything.  This is a violation of the Constitution.  It‘s domestic traffic.  It‘s phone calls as well as email.  And something should be done to stop it.  And Congress should not kill the—kill the judicial process. 

OLBERMANN:  The nice thing is that if there is anything that‘s going to stop it, it‘s going to be because people like you have the courage to do something about it. 

KLEIN:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  Mark Klein, formerly of AT&T, great thanks for joining us and great thanks for what you are doing. 

KLEIN:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  Talk about dubious intelligence.  Bill-O can‘t go after me directly, so he attacks all of NBC again, and misses as usual.  We will explain.  And the report of restaurant customers having to stop a George Clooney/Fabio fight.  No hair pulling and don‘t touch the faces, ahead on COUNTDOWN. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Here we go.  “Congressional Quarterly” reporting the FBI counter-terror unit sifted through customer data records from grocery stores in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2005 and 2006 looking for spikes in the sales of Middle Eastern food delicacies that might indicate the presence, or perhaps even lead the bureau to Iranian terrorists in the region.  No, seriously. 

C.Q. reporting the FBI was literally looking for increased demand for Falafels.  Our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, perhaps the threat from Bill O‘Reilly is greater than we imagined.  Joe McCarthy Jr. at it again, leading the Fox Noise folks in absolute lemming-like panic over the rumored conversations between this network and Rosie O‘Donnell about Rosie contributing to MSNBC. 

Once again, Bill-O., who promotes MSNBC and NBC more than we do, started his rant-cast last night with us.  And thus, once again, it‘s necessary to translate for you what he said back into human; “As talking points has been telling you for more than a year, the president of NBC, Jeff Zucker, is desperate.”

That‘s the Jeff Zucker that your Fox Business Channel reported was going to be fired by noon last Friday.  Your new outfit is averaging a reported 5,000 viewers nationwide, and making up business stories.  But Zucker is desperate? 

“NBC is collapsing in the ratings on almost all fronts.” 

Sunday Night Football on MSNBC, number one show on television this season, male viewers age 18 to 49.  “The Office,” number one comedy this season, all viewers 18 to 49.  Three of the top eight shows this season, viewers 18 to 49, on NBC.  If you want, I should mention Fox Business Channel again? 

You know what‘s collapsing, Billy?  Your research department.  That‘s what‘s collapsing. 

“And now Mr. Zucker has turned to Rosie O‘Donnell to prop up MSNBC.”

And you saw that where?  The “New York Times?”  NBC was saying there had only been talks.  She was saying there had only been talks.  Hell, Fox News once talked to me about working there.  But Billy, if you are going to swallow whole everything you read in the “New York Times,” what can I say?  Except, of course, when you claim they are lying about the ratings; “Its TV reporter, Jacques Steinberg, actually wrote an article that says MSNBC is competitive with ‘The Factor‘ at 8:00 p.m.  Here‘s the truth, in October, MSNBC had no overall ratings growth at 8:00 p.m., none.  In the past five weeks, ‘The Factor‘ has beaten them by 225 percent in total audience and 100 percent in the key demo.  Margins of victory rarely come bigger than that.” 

OK, two things here.  Your margin of victory over COUNTDOWN for the month of November 2003 was 613 percent.  So even if those numbers you spat out last night were correct—and they weren‘t—margins of victory used to come bigger than that for you every night, back when you were still hot.  And here is the Kneilson (ph) company‘s actual data about ratings growth at 8:00 p.m. Eastern this calendar year; from January 1st, 2007 to last Friday, November 2nd, 2007, Bill-O is up five percent in total viewers, four percent in what he aptly calls the key demo. 

Now we will compare that to COUNTDOWN‘s growth.  This show is up 63 percent in total viewers since January 1st, 48 percent in that key demo. 

“Again, Steinberg knows the score, but chose to deceive the public.  Disgraceful.”  Because I, Bill-O, am the sole east coast distributor for deceiving the public, and nobody else is allowed to work my side of the street. 

“In the interest of truth, I am now going to dispel some rumors.  It‘s not true that Sean Penn will be co-anchoring the NBC Nightly News.  That is false.”

Correct.  Although now that you mention him, he would still do it better than you would. 

“Coming up, Talking Points is spot on when we told you that NBC News has embraced the radical left agenda in pursuit of ratings.  There is no doubt any longer.” 

Because I, Bill-O, say so.  Bow down before me, puny viewer. 

Incidentally, put that last graphic back up there. 

“Coming up, talking points is spot on when we told you that NBC”—it‘s not even a sentence.  Anyway a little bonus tonight, the Fox Noise morning show, for people who reflexively hate the “New York Times,” they also sure seem to believe what they read in there as even more true than the Times suggested it was.  Rosie O‘Donnell, quote, “on a news channel?  That‘s unbelievable.  She would be going to a news channel,” said host Brian Kilmeade (ph). 

“They are hiring a comedian to do a show on a cable news outfit, added host Steve Ducey.  Complaints about the news credentials of a possible MSNBC contributor from Steve Ducey and Brian Kilmeade; Steve Ducey, who used to host “House Party;” Brian Kilmeade, the former anchor of “Ultimate Fighting Championship.”  Even guys like ex-sports caster me and the former fill-in weather man at channel 16 in Scranton B. O‘Reilly know better than to rattle those skeletons, boys. 

And finally on this point, one bit of breaking news that sort of summarizes it, Rosie O‘Donnell has announced on her blog tonight that she will not be doing a show on MSNBC.  What she wrote this evening, MSNBC one hour live, following, well, me.  We were close to a deal, she writes, almost done.  I let it slip in Miami, causing panic on the studio end.  I don‘t think panic is the right word for it.  But that‘s neither here nor there.  Well, what you can do, today there is no deal.  Poof, my career as a pundit is over before it began.  Just as well.  I figure everything happens for a reason.  I don‘t know what that other word is.  As we say, on we go. 

Rosie O‘Donnell announcing it tonight, she is not going to be joining MSNBC.  There were limited negotiations.  George Clooney and Fabio come to blows, and it wasn‘t over Britney Spears.  She will have to fight Kevin Federline herself and evidently she did.  That‘s ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s Worst Persons in the World. 

The bronze to musician Prince.  His three biggest Internet fan sites say they have been sued by his lawyers, demanding they remove all photos, images, lyrics, album covers and any other likenesses of him from their sights, including pictures of fans with Prince, license plates or Prince tattoos.  Plus, the lawyers want details on how they plan to pay Prince for the use of his likeness.  He is suing his customers?  You will recall him as the artist formerly known as Prince.  Soon his supporters may be identifying themselves as the people formerly known as fans. 

The runner-up, comedian Rush Limbaugh, admitting today his own producer told him not to make fun of the weeping 18-year-old Charlie Lockwood (ph) as she testified about the impact of global warming on her Eskimo village in Alaska.  His latest attack on a child.  “Let me get you some facts her,” he says—“let me explain something to all you liberals and Democrats, the days where you get to bring aboard to your committee hearings or your television commercial so called innocent little victims, either of diseases or of age or of gender, and expect them not to be criticized when they enter the political arena are over, Democrats.” 

Wait, it gets more psychotic.  “I‘m not going to sit here and let a bunch of liberals mislead and lie to the American people about a hoax issue that they are advancing for political purposes.”  The hoax issue would be global warming, specifically in Alaska, such a hoax that even the Bush administration admits on the EPA website that Alaska is being damaged by a, quote, climate-driven transformation.  And about what you laughably consider criticism, comedian?  It‘s OK, but when you were criticized for recreational use of prescription drugs while you were insisting on the most draconian punishments for every drug addict except yourself, you were targeted, attacked, mistreated, singled out, avenged upon.  Let‘s all have a big laugh then at Rush Limbaugh, who presumably is suffering from self-inflicted brain damage from all those pain killers he popped. 

But our winner, Brit Hume of Fox Noise‘s newscast of record, leading wedge in the newest spin about how great it is in Iraq.  “A worker at the Iraqi airways office in Damascus,” he reported,” says the flow of refugees from Iraq to Syria has almost reversed.  Once full flights from Baghdad are now virtually empty.  Flights headed the other way have considerably more passengers.” 

Gee, that‘s great.  From your reporting, I‘m guessing the only possible explanation is that Iraq is now all safe and its citizens can return to their homes?  It‘s got nothing to do with the Saudis switching a month ago from offering universal sanctuary to Iraqis to a strict visa system that admits almost none of them.  And I‘m also wondering where your little anecdote fits in with the Iraqi Red Crescent report that the number of displaced persons in that country has jumped 16 percent in the last month, and is now 2,300,000? 

Nice propaganda effort, Brit, don‘t forget the mouth wash.  Brit Hume of Fixed Noise, today‘s Worst Person in the World. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  It‘s not something we relish.  It‘s not news we enjoy covering, but when the King Kong and Godzilla of famous guys who make women swoon throw down in a public restaurant, when K-Fed reclaims the most pathetic parent title for Britney Spears, when the daughter of a Beatle takes a swipe at her one legged ex-mother-in-law by making prosthetic jewelry, we are there. 

In a minute, we‘ll crunch the colossal celebrities in conflict headlines with Joel McHale of “The Soup.”  First, when George Clooney and Fabio attack.  “In Touch Weekly” reporting that last week Clooney and a girlfriend were eating at a west Hollywood eatery, and the former I Can‘t Believe It‘s Not Butter pitch man and some lady friends happened to be at a nearby table. 

Clooney allegedly spied one of Fabio‘s lady friends snapping pictures of him during the meal, asked her to stop.  And in this picture, obtained by TMZ.com from the night in question, Mr. Clooney was asking with a one fingered salute.  That‘s when Fabio approached the table and told Clooney to, quote, stop being a diva.  According to witnesses, Clooney stood up and cursed at Fabio, as he lunged toward him.  Restaurant staff had to get between the two men before it got physical. 

Clooney paid his bill and left.  Fabio covered his tab by shaking his hair and picking up the coins invariably thrown at him by women, and paying with them. 

We‘ll get to the Spears/Federline, Mills/McCartney headlines in a second.  We want to get to the host of E‘s “The Soup” right now, Joel McHale.  Joel, thanks for your time. 

JOEL MCHALE, “THE SOUP”:  Thanks for having me, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Has there ever been a hunkier show down in the history of the known world? 

MCHALE:  This is a pretty hunky show down, but as far as pure testosterone goes, I still got to go with Trump and Rosie on this. 

OLBERMANN:  Thank goodness you said that after she announced she wasn‘t coming here.  

MCHALE:  Oh, right.  Oh, right. 

OLBERMANN:  Good timing.  The Clooney camp was mum on the alleged scuffle, but the Fabio people, like he has people, have crafted this diabolical statement about the incident.  Let me read this to you; “George is lucky he didn‘t end up in the ER.”  Clever.  They could have gone with he is lucky he didn‘t end up at the bottom of the “Oceans 11” or all Fabio has to say is “Good Night and Good Luck,” healing the lacerations on your face.  Do you want to take a shot crafting a statement for the Clooney side? 

MCHALE:  I will take your statement crafting challenge.  How about Fabio is lucky he didn‘t get hit in the face like that bird did that one time on the roller coaster.  Remember that?  It really happened.  There it is. 

OLBERMANN:  It‘s a beautiful moment in world history. 

MCHALE:  All my jokes are backed up by footage, even at home. 

OLBERMANN:  All right, the Stella McCartney thing; according to the “London Mirror”—another fine news organization—Paul McCartney‘s daughter, the fashion designer, is producing a line of jewelry that may have something to do with her ex-mother-in-law, Heather Mills.  There‘s a mockup of it, a single silver leg, a reference to the fact that Mills had one of her legs amputated.  Is this funny?  Is it smart?  Is it—what is it? 

MCHALE:  Well, it‘s useless.  It doesn‘t even bend at the knee.  Who would it be for?  A grass hopper?  It‘s tiny.  I think it would have been more offensive had she, perhaps, put some of his solo albums from the 1980s in gold. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, there were so few of them because they were burned.  Should she branch out on this?  Should she also make a fugitive guy artificial arm jewelry piece? 

MCHALE:  Oh, yes.  I recently just saw that there is a 14 karat Keith Olbermann appendix. 

OLBERMANN:  No, that‘s the actual one.  The never ending story, Kevin Federline has asked for and gotten Britney Spears to pay for his legal expenses in the custody battle for the kids.  Federline says he has no income.  Spears‘ trouble were the reason they were in court in the first place.  She pays the 120,000 in legal fees.  I thought, Joel, he made so much money rapping, didn‘t he? 

MCHALE:  No, Keith.  His rapping sucks.  He was able to buy a pair of shoes and a pack of smokes and then he was out of rapping money. 

OLBERMANN:  Is there still a chance here, even at this late hour, that Britney Spears can still lose what seems like the unbeatable lead in the most pathetic parent competition? 

MCHALE:  She is still in first place.  He is a close second.  But my parents are in third for raising a boy who has to follow all of this crap. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, mine are, too.  We are going to have to close it there, Joel.  Thanks for the mention of Rosie in there.  Joel McHale, the host of “The Soup” on E, appointment television, fresh every Friday night on the E Network. 

MCHALE:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Great thanks for joining us.  Give Man-Keeny (ph) our best. 

MCHALE:  Oh, I will. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,652nd day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  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.

END   

Copy: 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.

transcript

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

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,