updated 1/17/2008 11:02:22 AM ET 2008-01-17T16:02:22

Guests: Joel McHale, Paul Rieckhoff, Rachel Maddow, Jonathan Alter

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

The dignified debate: Sadly, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

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SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I was taken back when Senator Obama said yesterday that he didn‘t try to manage or run the government, that he was going to have advisors to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Here we go.  Also the Clinton campaign trying to position Obama as the favorite in Nevada and the candidate of the establishment.  The Republican establishment returns to one of its oldest traditions.  Swiftboating John McCain in South Carolina.  This time, the dirty politics of liars suggesting he betrayed his fellow Vietnam POWs.

Dirty politics of the entirely different sort and Senator Larry Craig has a new defender, the ACLU.  The (INAUDIBLE) stall where the civil liberty union suggest, you should have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

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SEN. LARRY CRAIG, ® IDAHO:  I am not gay.

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OLBERMANN:  Thanks for mentioning that.

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CRAIG:  Thank you all very much for coming out today.

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OLBERMANN:  Moving on.

Two hundred thousand veterans living on our street that irredeemable idiot, Bill O‘Reilly living in denial.

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BILL O‘REILLY, TV HOST:  If you know where there‘s a veteran sleeping under a bridge, you call me and we‘ll make sure that man doesn‘t do it.

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OLBERMANN:  Enraged veterans‘ groups ask in unison: Why does Bill O‘Reilly hate the troops?

Matthew McConaughey and girlfriend parents to be, the baby three months growing in her womb.

David Spade also reportedly unlikely father in waiting thereby (ph).

And the authoritative word on the Britney Spears custody battle from Prince Frederick Von Anna Nicole.

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PRINCE FREDERICK VON ANHALT:  Then she has  -

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OLBERMANN:  Well, he makes more sense than Nancy Grace.  All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.

VON ANHALT:  He needs a kick in the ass.

OLBERMANN (on camera):  Good evening, this is Wednesday, January 16th, 293 days until the 2008 presidential election.  The looming recession may even get the attention as his Middle East photo op tour ends of President Hoover, sorry, President Bush.  The Democrats vying to succeed to him sprung from the dial-back solicitous team player debate in Las Vegas to a campaign trail where they stopped hitting each other over the head mallets marked race and gender.  And started hitting each other over heads with mallet‘s marked, you sound like Bush. Our fifth story in the COUNTDOWN: There goes the treaty of Las Vegas.  The buzz word of change having been introduced on the campaign trail by Senator Obama once he won in Iowa, every candidate, Democrat and Republican co-opted including a 25 year veteran of the House and Senate and the former governor who‘s father ran for president and who‘s mother ran for Senate.  You might recall that in an interview published yesterday, Senator Obama told the editorial board of a Reno newspaper that he is, quote, “Not an operating officer” and that the job of a president is quote, “Not to run some bureaucracy.”  Senator Obama once again, today, disputing the notion that he does not have enough experience for the White House.

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SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  People said, well, Obama‘s been trying to candidate but you know what, the problem is he hasn‘t been in Washington long.  And so we need to season and stew him a little bit more, we got to boil and make a soup out of him (ph).  And then, he‘ll be ready.  But you know what?  The American people have projected that argument because they understand the biggest gamble that we could take right now is to have the same old folks doing the same old things, playing the same old Washington games.

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OLBERMANN:  Senator Clinton, meanwhile finding those themes (ph) that she can return to over and over again having challenged Senators Obama and Edwards in last night‘s debates on the specifics of whether Nevada‘s Yucca Mountain should have a nuclear waste facility.  All three against it.  Senator Clinton this morning fielding questions from Nevada voters at Yucca Mountain and during an interview with our own Brian Williams, the senator criticizing Senator Obama for his claim that he is more of a big picture kind of guy.

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CLINTON:  And I was taken aback when Senator Obama said yesterday that he didn‘t intend to try to manage or run the government.  That he was going to have advisors do that.  That is very reminiscent of what we‘ve had for the last seven years.  I intend to run the government, I intend to manage the economy, I intend to take personal responsibility and I intend to hold the government of the United States accountable to the taxpayers and the citizens of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Senator John Edwards also focusing his campaign and his on Nevada today, in a race that still appears to be, as his campaign put it wide open, a statistical dead heat.  The latest tracking survey from the American Research Group giving Senator Clinton only a three-point lead, 35 percent to Obama‘s 32 and Edwards 25.  The Keith number is 12, that is the margin of error, in this case plus or minus  four percentage points and undecided voters at eight percent added together.  Our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine joins us now from Las Vegas.  Howard, good evening.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  So, is this the new revised instability (ph)?  It‘s OK to be taken aback among other candidate‘s credentials as long as you avoid the third real (ph) issues?

FINEMAN:  Well, I was taken aback at how taken aback Hillary was.  I think the Clinton campaigns saw an opening there with Obama‘s very honest confession of his messy desk.  But in typical fashion, I think the Clinton knights are probably over interpreting it a little bit.  I talked to the Obama people today.  They didn‘t sound all that scared.  They said look, Obama‘s not running for paper shuffler in chief, he‘s not running for chief of staff, he‘s running for president.  And if you look at something like Katrina and what hat went wrong in Louisiana, it wasn‘t just bad management, it was the fact that you had an administration that in Obama‘s, you hadn‘t united the country, hadn‘t inspired the country to care about the people in the Ninth Ward.  So, that‘s Obama‘s response.  But you know, Hillary is going to play her strong card which is that she does know the details.  There‘s no topic that Hillary doesn‘t have a three point plan for.

OLBERMANN:  There is - one thing in Senator Clinton‘s defense on this of course.  She wasn‘t even the first person or the only person to say that answer by Senator Obama sounded vaguely, admittedly vaguely like George W. Bush.  Do you think there‘s - is there any long term shelf life to that one particular comment or the echo that it raises?

FINEMAN:  Well, it could be.  The Clinton campaign thinks so.  And they‘re may be because it kind of crystallizes the difference between the two.  Obama is portraying himself as the man of poetry; Hillary is the person of pros.  And depending on where the economy goes especially, in terms of recession, which we‘re headed into, vision is maybe not what‘s required.  Strong hands on management is.  And that‘s going to be Hillary‘s argument going forward on these very uncertain economic times.

OLBERMANN:  The former president, Mr. Clinton is trying to paint Mr. Obama as the candidate of the establishment and putting the senator, his wife in as the Nevada underdog.  I‘m missing something here.  How does that work?

FINEMAN:  Yes, we are missing something, Keith.  I‘d spent the day talking to political around here.  You know, yes, Obama has culinary workers.  And I was talking to the head of he culinary workers detailer.  They‘ve got 60,000 members in the Las Vegas area.  No telling how many will show up.  But Hillary‘s got the establishment.  She‘s got Rory Reid who is the son of the senator, Harry Reid as her campaign chairman here.  She has local congresswoman; she has most of the elected officials in Clark County and elsewhere around Nevada who are Democrats.  So, Hillary is the establishment candidate.  Obama‘s got the big union.  That doesn‘t make him the establishment guy here.

OLBERMANN:  And the Republican National Committee, when they‘re meeting today, Karl Rove devoted the bulk of his speech to attacking Senator Clinton and Senator Obama.  Now, we know what he thinks about Obama on that column that he wrote was one racist clich’ after another.  But what we are reading on the fact that at least for today, he‘s no longer appearing to be on the Clinton ‘08 bandwagon.

FINEMAN:  Well, he‘s looking at the polls and nationally, Obama‘s running neck and neck with Hillary nationally.  But I think the significance of Rove‘s address had more to do with the war and terrorism.  It‘s clear that the Republicans, once again, what a surprise, were going to run on terrorism and the war on terrorism.  That‘s going to be their main theme regardless of who the nominee is.  That will work better for some potential nominees, to John McCain, less well for somebody like Mitt Romney if he should get it.  But that‘s clearly where they‘re headed.  That‘s the default setting of the Republican Party.  It‘s been true in 2004, 2006, 2002.  It will be true again in 2008.  That‘s really what Rove was saying.

OLBERMANN:  Yes and by the way, later on, we‘ll be talking about the Homeland Security secretary, Mr. Chertoff just did in terms of appointments there in turning them from political to permanent.  Howard Fineman of MSNBC and “Newsweek” in Las Vegas.  As always Howard, great thanks.

FINEMAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  At last nights debate in Nevada, the candidates offering different visions of the presidency and perhaps more importantly, of themselves.  For more on that, Rachel Maddow, host of the Rachel Maddow Show on Air America Radio who defined them pretty well and pretty fast during our post-debate coverage last night.  Good to see you again.

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO:  Nice to see you too, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  So, in different parts of the country, different parts of the political spectrum, the economy can mean investments, oil futures, price of gasoline, price of milk.  Different things.  Values means different things obviously from voter to voter.  Change means three different things to three different Democratic candidates?

MADDOW:  Well, you know, every candidate from the beginning of time has run on the grounds that they‘re going to change something.  That‘s what they do, left, right and center.  Bush admitted that if he were running for a term, he‘d be running as the change candidate.  So, the way you make it a compelling story is that you tell voters not just that you want to bring about change but why you think change needs to happen and what needs to be changed in order for these problems that vex (ph) our nation to be brought around so that we‘re in a better place.  And I think that Obama and Clinton and Edwards are actually identifying what needs to be changed in three really different ways.  I think Hillary Clinton is saying the Republicans and Bush need to be out and the Democrats need to be in.  I think that John Edwards is saying the special interest and lobbyists need to be out and people need to be in, in a populist way.  And I think that Barack Obama is saying that he needs to be in because he can transcend the differences across the political divide right now.  There‘s too many different visions of what you would do to the country if you have the reign (ph).  And I think I spend a lot of time talking about how different the candidates seem.  We ought to maybe spend more time talking about what they say they‘ll do differently about (ph) each other.

OLBERMANN:  With this energy of change, this new sort of larger than usual of this energy of change among the electorate at all ends of the spectrum seemingly, whichever of those means of change is considered the minimum, whether it‘s Clinton, Edwards, Obama, is there any construction in which it would not be enough to energize the voters this fall and there could be Republican actually presenting change as if they‘re had been significant change from the Republicans more recently than 1980?

MADDOW:  Well, I think it‘s going to be hard for a Republican to run on a change platform in the general.  I think they can run on the change platform among themselves, that‘s amusing to see Mitt Romney run as the change candidate for example.

OLBERMANN:  I‘m different than my father and mother.

MADDOW:  Yes, exactly or John McCain running as the change candidate after having been in Washington since the Capitol was built.  I mean, it‘s funny on the Republican side, and I don‘t think of a carry over to the general.  But among those Democrats, I think it‘s less that they are defining different quantities of change that they want to bring about.  I think less (ph) that one of them wants to bring dramatic change and one them wants to bring about not dramatic change.  I think what they‘re really saying is, decide based on what you think the challenges are that really face the country.  And it may come down to what the crucial issues are for the electorate heading to that election, what they think the topics are that are going driving on it (ph).

OLBERMANN:  Right.  Senator Obama did not go to the degree of calling himself the decider yet.  There‘s no link between him and George Bush, but the stuff about paper work, about not being CEO President, does he risk becoming another one and actually (ph) at the other end of the spectrum of the, I‘d like to have a beer with this candidate?  What does he do to prevent that if there‘s this idea of well, he‘s going to be in-charge philosophically?

MADDOW:  Right.  He‘s not going to be a hands on guy.  Well, I think it‘s two different problems with Bush that he‘s done a bad job running the government and that he seems likable.  I don‘t necessarily think those things are connected.  I don‘t think he can‘t manage the government because he would be nice to have a beer with.  And so, they may be two different problems that‘s Obama is skating between.  I actually think it‘s a little bit of a gaffe on his part to admit that he‘s not that much of a hands-on guy.  Because we want to think of him as a scrappy guy who hasn‘t that much experience in Washington but as a can do spirit and a really get stuff done.  Finding out he needs to be handed papers on two seconds before he uses and it was follow up with a bad admission but not a fatal one.

OLBERMANN:  John Edwards, there was a focus group last night of be it done by FOX News by Frank Luntz.  That‘s two out of a possible three strikes right there.  But they had him winning the debate handily.  Clearly, there‘s a window, may not be wide, but there is a window for him to erase this perception of being a two candidate race for the Democrats.  Can he fit himself to that Monday and how?

MADDOW:  Well, there‘s a lot of movement I think going on around perceptions of John Edwards right now.  First of all, I think that not having Dennis Kucinich in the debate last, well, that was a drag, sort of like Kucinich to be in that debate and a lot of people feel that way.  It was to John Edwards‘ advantage, that it was just a three of them sitting there.  It made him look like he was of equal stature as a potential candidate to Obama and Clinton.  So, I think that put him in good stead  I also interviewed a columnist from the “Las Vegas Sun” today though, who said, you know, people are writing off John Edwards and here in Vegas, it doesn‘t seem feel like he should be writing off.  He‘s surging in the recent polls and he seems to really resonating here even though he‘s not going all out in terms of how much he‘s campaigning in Nevada.  So, it seems like the feeling in Nevada at least anecdotally is that he might do very well.  We‘ll see.

OLBERMANN:  Well, if anybody would know about ads, it‘s a Nevada news paper man.  Rachel Maddow of Air America Radio.  Good to see you.  Thanks for coming in, as always.

Another big day in the road to the presidential nomination this Saturday.  We‘ll bring you the results in the Nevada caucuses and the GOP primary in South Carolina.  Our prime time coverage, Saturday night starts at 6:00 pm eastern, 3:00 pacific.

An oldie, but baddy in South Carolina.  Not him, what some Republicans are saying anonymously about him.  The word collaborator has been used.  Somebody else mocking military veterans.  The Bush administration admits nearly 200,000 vets will be homeless.  Tonight, this spinning idiot says, he knows it is not true, psychically (INAUDIBLE).  The vets groups are enraged.  You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

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OLBERMANN:  The problem with the congenital Republicans willingness to slim (ph) Democrats, they also can‘t help sliming other Republicans.  John McCain gets swiftboated in South Carolina again.  And the actual swiftboat boys condemn that swiftboating.  Meantime: Larry Craig‘s right to have sex in the bathroom, whether he did or didn‘t is being defended by the American Civil Liberties Union.  And later in Worst: FOX and Friends versus another one of the Bushites who‘s trying to sell you political disaster in Iraq as political success in Iraq.  Ahead on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN:  Following Willard Mitt Romney‘s Michigan victory last night, the Republican battle to be the front-runner in the battle to be the nominee for the battle to be the president moves downward today both geographically and ethically.  On our fourth story tonight, South Carolina, the state that buried Senator John McCain‘s 2000 campaign under dirt.  Three days before this year‘s South Carolina primary, there is fresh dirt.  Eighty state news paper editors have received this flyer calling McCain Vietcong collaborator and a traitor to his fellow POWs.  The author, a Vietnam vet who has targeted both McCain and Senator John Kerry before. 

Some pundit predicted Romney would go dirty on McCain because one of Romney‘s top people in the state was identified in a recent PBS documentary has engineering the notorious McCain‘s smears in 2000 as the top advisor at that point to the Bush campaign but Romney has also been targeted in South Carolina.  State Republicans receiving a fake Romney Christmas card pushing Mormonism buttons likely to alienate the state‘s Christian evangelicals.  An evangelical group supporting Mike Huckabee mounted negative post polls before Iowa and New Hampshire and we learn tonight from TPM mock wrecker (ph) began last night in South Carolina.  Scouring some of the South Carolina dirt force tonight, MSNBC political analyst, Jonathan Alter, of course, also senior editor at “Newsweek.”  Jon, great thanks for your time.

JONATHAN ALTER, NEWSWEEK:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Eight years later and it‘s the same South Carolina?

ALTER:  Not quite.  I was down there in 2000 covering that, that was really disgusting politics.  And John McCain came up against the Bush machine at its absolute worst.  I talked this evening to Mark Salter who‘s John McCain‘s top aide, long time aide.  He says it‘s not nearly as bad as 2000.  So, despite some of these nonsense that‘s going on around, they feel like they have a good shot there.

OLBERMANN:  The Romney situation and whether or not there was any likelihood of him going negative or dirty or however you want it call in South Carolina, did he not at least clinch his victory in Michigan.  Not simply for being there or not simply because the economy was bad, but because he‘s pretty dropped the negative campaign ads in Michigan?

ALTER:  I actually think it was more because he was stressing the economic issues.  McCain in an effort for some straight talk, said that these jobs in Michigan lost weren‘t coming back.  That was a big gaffe and Romney was able to exploit that.  Look, he‘s probably doing a little bit less of the negative stuff in South Carolina than Huckabee.  At least, that‘s according to the McCain people.  Or it might just be that they‘re more worried about Huckabee than they are about Romney right now.

OLBERMANN:  Yes and your colleagues at “Newsweek” in fact to that point have portrayed some of the values crowd as wallowing in the dirt.  Is this that moral relativism or?

ALTER:  Yes, well, it is kind of amusing when Mike Huckabee‘s people engage in push pulling.  You know what those are, were you to say are you for you know, candidate Romney who wants to raise your taxes as if it‘s a poll, but it‘s really a way of doing negative outreach.

OLBERMANN:  The swiftboat vets condemned a new attack on McCain.  My head hurts.  Explain, please.

ALTER:  Well, the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth actually like McCain.  It was John Kerry that headed it but there‘s another group that has hated McCain for many years that‘s spreading this.  And so they try to pretend as if they are swiftboat veterans but if you look really closely on their logo, it says swiftboot veterans.  They don‘t want to copyright problem and the original swiftboat veterans are angry about this and these guys, these characters were involve in this.  they actually got into a fistfight, one of them with Mark Salter, McCain‘s aide about 15 years ago when they tried to tell McCain to his face that he was a traitor which he and his people didn‘t much appreciate this.

OLBERMANN:  The original swiftboat veterans versus the swift (INAUDIBLE).  Last point.  This sort of underreported Huckabee speech the other night about Constitutional changes to make it line up with the Bible.  Presumably, that would work very nicely in South Carolina, but in terms of easy pickings around the country, could that come really back and just be used as a again, a mallet over the guy‘s head elsewhere?

ALTER:  You know, he has survived a serious of gaffes amazingly well.  I mean, he‘s almost bullet proof on those things, but this thing will dog him should he go on to win the nomination because you know, moderate -

OLBERMANN:  Theocracy is what it was, at least in theory.

ALTER:  Yes, this will sink; he‘s basically saying that the Constitution needs to be amended to be more religious.  It doesn‘t get more troublesome than that.

OLBERMANN:  Now, if you see him being condemned by a lot of religious quarters, you now he‘s in trouble with that.  Jonathan Alter of MSNBC and “Newsweek” on the Republican.  Thanks for coming in, Jon.

ALTER:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  I hesitate to use the terms strange (ph) and bed pillows (ph) given the nature of this report.  But the American Civil Liberties Union just filed a legal brief strongly supporting Senator Larry Craig and what they call his and everybody else‘s Constitutional right to have sex in a public bathroom.  According to the ACLU, because Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that a bathroom is a private place, the police have no right to spy on people there.  And because private sex is a protective civil liberty, whether you hook up with somebody in a bar or bathroom is nobody‘s business.  Senator Craig is yet to comment on a new found support.  He recently gave up on his original wide stance explanation and is now arguing that swiping his hand under a bathroom stall is protected by free speech.  Still no admission that he was looking for sex while exercising free speech or his hand.

St. Louis of (INAUDIBLE), California, hello.  Lucky, the elephant seal who prefers lawns and puddles to the beach and the ocean.  Breaking high and dry news.

And O.J. Simpson violated the terms of his bail.  So, naturally you give him a new and greater amount of bail.

But first: The breaking headlines to the administration‘s 50 scandals—Bushed.  Number three: Legacy-gate.  Homeland Security secretary, Chertoff has made a series of career appointments in his department saying, quote, “We should not let ourselves drop the ball on the hand off.”  In other words, there would be an unusually large number of a Bush appointees at Homeland Security even after the administration left.

Number two: Waterboarding-gate.  Now, this is coming into focus.  The CIA also made tapes that its agents torturing terror detainees at a secret CIA prison in Thailand.  We know this because cables have surfaced in which the station chief in Bangkok asked his superiors of Langley with permission to destroy those tapes.  Sooner or later undestroyed tapes are going to turn up probably on net flicks.

And number one: Plame-gate.  It‘s hard to believe anything new could come up here, but here it is, the White House confessing it really used its email backed up computer tapes prior to October 2003, erased them and used them again apparently including memo (ph) pertaining to the outing of Valerie Plame.  The White House says this was consistent with indiscreet best practices.  True, if the industry in question is lying the country into war.

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OLBERMANN:  On this date in 1547, Ivan The Terrible was crowned king.  He was the first used the term Czar of Russia.  He wasn‘t so terrible at first but he became more terrible towards the end when a 20th century autopsy has suggested he was either being poisoned with mercury or being treated for syphilis with mercury.  Also terrible is a terrible translation from Russian.  The word was grossly (ph), dangerous, terrifying, awesome.  That would be cool.  Let‘s call him Ivan The Awesome. 

Let‘s play Oddball.  We begin once again in San Luis Obispo, California:  Day 10 of the elephant seal standoff.  Today‘s shocking development: Fatso is now patrolling the fence, keeping the do-gooder wildlife animal-hugging crazy people on the beach side.  And our blubbery scofflaw, stays on the field side.  Also turns out he has a name, Lucky.  Yes and you‘re lucky this elephant seal doesn‘t rip your stupid face off.  Still no plan for anybody to force Lucky to head back to the beach.  Looks like somebody could end all this, of course, by opening the gate over there.  Stay tuned for more shocking updates.

Now to Kokomo, Indiana, utmost dumb criminal of the week.  This is the worst quality surveillance footage ever.  If you look closely, in the middle you can see 25-year-old Derrick Kosh, holding up the store with a gun and placing the gun in his waistband.  And then something goes horribly wrong: he accidentally shot himself in the testicle.  I hate it when that happens, fellows, at home.  Kosh was later arrested at his home.  The shot he fired into his own junk forced doctors to remove his right testicle.  He told them it also glanced his cap.  Kosh now faces armed robbery charges plus many years of explaining in the communal shower of the Indiana State Prison.

For the second time in a week, Bill O‘Reilly has laughed at government statistics, showing nearly 200,000 homeless American military veterans.  The outraged military veterans are ready to render him homeless.

And the man Jamie Lynn Spears claims impregnated her asks for a paternity test—quickly.  These stories‘ ahead but, first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s “Best Persons in the World”.  Number three, best drunk-driving excuse: British soccer player Rod Malcolm of Darby County.  Found asleep at the wheel of the car parked in the fast lane of a highway, his blood alcohol count double the legal limit.  He told police he had had too much because he was very upset and frustrated at the refereeing in his team‘s last game.  He blamed the ref!

Number two, best repeat over-reaction: police in Goatpark, Sweden, called in the bomb squad to the garage of an apartment building where a janitor had found a package humming and vibrating suspiciously.  After several tense minutes, the humming and vibrating device turned out to be, surprisingly enough, a vibrator. 

And, number one, best dumb criminals: Adam Bret Hancock and Vincent John Whitley, accused of stealing $900 worth of baked goods in Oregon.  Police say Mr. Whitley inadvertently tipped off the police when he approached two officers to ask them a question and, in the spirit of something, offered them some doughnuts—some stolen doughnuts.

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OLBERMANN:  On the website of the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs, in black and white, it states the sad truth about many of the men and women who serve this country in uniform.  Current population estimates suggest that about 195,000 veterans, male and female, are homeless on any given night and, perhaps, twice as many experience homelessness at some point during the course of a year.  A grotesque statistic that Sen. John Edwards has repeatedly cited during his bid for the presidency—most recently, last night. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN EDWARDS, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANT:  Tonight, across this country, 200,000 men and women who wore uniforms and served this country patriotically as veterans will go to sleep under bridges and on grates...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  A grotesque statistic fully vetted by the U. S. government, even under the presidency of George W. Bush.  A shaming statistic that, in our third story in the COUNTDOWN, Bill O‘Reilly is still denying and, in fact, laughing at, most recently, last night.  His latest, the second in a week, as he made political hay off the backs of homeless vets—a segment with radio show host Ed Schultz. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED SCHULTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  As far as John Edwards is concerned, I think, his message is strong and he has got tremendous conviction but, I think, he needs a little bit more material than just the too-American talk. He‘s got to ...

BILL O‘REILLY:  Or is he still looking for all the veterans sleeping under the bridges, Ed?  So, if you find anybody, let us know because that‘s all the guy is saying for the last three months...

SCHULTZ:  They are out there, Bill.  Don‘t kid yourself. 

O‘REILLY:  They may be out there, but there‘s not many of them out there.  OK?  So, if you know where one is, Ed...

SCHULTZ:  Wait a minute—

O‘REILLY:  So, if you know where there‘s a veteran sleeping under a bridge, you call me immediately and we will make sure that man does not do it...

SCHULTZ:  I will do that.

O‘REILLY:  OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  We‘re joined now by Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of IAVA, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  Thanks for coming in, Paul. 

PAUL RIECKHOFF, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, IAVA:  My pleasure.

OLBERMANN:  Well, we know what we want to say here and it involves  suggesting Mr. O‘Reilly should go and do something anatomically impossible to himself, with that attitude.  But do you know of any homeless vets, by any chance? 

RIECKHOFF:  Absolutely.  I mean, the VA says that there are approximately 200,000 of all generations.  We know that there are at least 1,500 that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our organization and others are in touch with them everyday.  I made a few phone calls today to my friends who work in Los Angeles.  They go out to skid row everyday and they are tracking six Iraq veterans alone.  They are living out in Los Angeles.  We know there are about  five or ten here in New York.  So, they are there.  This is a very real problem.  All we have to do, to be honest with you, if you go with O‘Reilly, is go downstairs and look out in the streets of New York and you can find homeless veterans living on the streets almost every night.

OLBERMANN:  Right.  He‘s two blocks this way from where we are.  He‘s two blocks downtown.  Two blocks, three blocks uptown, on Fifth Avenue, there‘s one church by which you see 40 or 50 guys in the neighborhood, if not all at the same time.  They are there.  You have to deliberately try to avoid seeing this problem.  Is that what he‘s doing?  Do you have any idea what the mentally is?  Have you encountered any of this where people don‘t want to deny it because it can‘t be that anybody is making this statistic up.  The VA is even admitting this.  It‘s not a publicity stunt of some sort.

RIECKHOFF:  I mean, I don‘t know.  This is the guy that went after the USO just a few weeks before.  So, I don‘t know what his agenda is here.  But, we hope that he uses this as an opportunity to focus on a very critical issue.  The homeless veterans are real.  We provided your producers with a video that was shot in Los Angeles just two weeks ago.  They‘re out on the streets.  We have produced a documentary about it, called “When I Came Home”.  They tracked the life of an Iraq veteran who‘s homeless, living in Brooklyn.  This is a very real problem.  We need everybody‘s help.  We need folks to support our veterans.  This is not a partisan issue.  It‘s not about John Edwards.  It‘s about taking care of the people when they come home. 

OLBERMANN:  Is there a way we can explain that 200,000 figure and, the other one, the 340,000 or so who are intermittently                homeless over the year?  Which left wing, anti-American secular progressive, NBC-dominated organization  provided that number?

RIECKHOFF:  The VA.  The VA which provides healthcare to millions of veterans all over the country.  And this is an organization that‘s had a hard time keeping up with them.  But this is, unfortunately, what happens when you don‘t take care of veterans who come home with severe mental health issue, who face financial problems, and, to be honest with you, a real lack of low-cost housing.  That‘s a recipe for homelessness.  And we‘re seeing this number rise.  And this is an after-effect of war.  That‘s predictable and we need the entire country to rally behind.  And, I hope to O‘ Reilly will join our rich folks in a van that goes out to skid row just about everyday.  We‘d be happy to take him out there and we‘ll show him that there‘s homeless vets living on the streets now. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, he said—I think, I heard him say that he would arrange some sort of coverage for—I mean, not in the literal sense, but of the television sense, of any homeless vet to make sure that they are not homeless tonight.  How much does that cost?  What would this big mouth, Bill O‘Reilly, owe these homeless vets -- 195,000 or so—you know, just to put them inside some place warm say, for a year?  What would the price of that be?

RIECKHOFF:  About $15,000. 

OLBERMANN:  For one...

RIECKHOFF:  For one guy.  About $15,000 for room, board, supportive servicing, and a staff that can take care of them.  It‘s about $15,000.  As a country, if we want to multiply that times 200,000, you‘d have about $2.6 billion which is a drop in the bucket compared to what we‘re spending in Iraq everyday.  So, it‘s really about priorities and we hope that we can use this as an opportunity to focus on veterans‘ issues.  Last night was a great step.  The presidential candidates finally started talking about traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the other issues we‘ve been focused on for years now. 

OLBERMANN:  We‘ll also probably have to explain to Bill O‘Reilly that not everyone of these guys -- 200,000 guys—live under a bridge.  He may be fixated on that term.  The guys with bridges to sleep under may be the lucky ones.  Those are the guys who have cover.  Those are the guys who have protection against the elements.  There are people who are literally on the streets.  Nothing above them.  Maybe, a piece of cardboard.  It‘s not some joke that he should be making. 

RIECKHOFF:  And, also, families.  There are children.  We‘ve met some single moms that are veterans living on the streets with their kids.  And there are actually people living under bridges.  In the film “When I Came Home” opens to a very powerful scene of a Vietnam veteran who literally lives under a bridge in California.  He‘s created a makeshift living situation for himself.  So, it‘s very real and it‘s not something we should mock and something we need to address urgently.

OLBERMANN:  Just doesn‘t think it‘s true, therefore, it‘s not true.

RIECKHOFF:  Step outside on the streets of New York.  We can probably see some over our shoulders right now. 

OLBERMANN:  If he could wish it away, I‘ll go over and shake his hand.  If he‘s correct and it‘s not true, I‘ll go over and shake his hand—I‘ll kiss his hand.  If it‘s not true because he takes home as veterans off the street(ph).

RIECKHOFF:  We can sell tickets and raise money for veterans. 

OLBERMANN:  Right, give it to me.  Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  Thanks, Paul.

RIECKHOFF:  Thank you, sir.

OLBERMANN:  OK, Billy, put your money where your mouth is.  How is every homeless vet tonight?  Just tonight, that‘ll be about $6,435,000.

They‘ve decided to walk O. J. Simpson through this slowly one more time—live up to the terms of your bail or you get to stay in prison.  And, Senator Barack Obama thrashed in a nationally published financial news editorial filled with racism and with as many droppings of the word “Muslim” as they could smoothly manage.  Details ahead in “Worst Persons”.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The idea of bail didn‘t work the first time with O. J.  Simpson, so give him higher bail.  And, in “Worst Persons‘, the idea of intelligence didn‘t work well the first time with Fox and friends, so have them use less of it.  They complain about a partisan running a television network—Mr. Ales.  That‘s next.  This is COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  There are two Simpsons making tonight‘s brief look at celebrity and entertainment, “Keeping Tabs”.  Homer is not one of them, unfortunately.  Looking very much the worse for wear after five days in a clink in Vegas, O. J. Simpson was hauled into court.  Judge Jackie Glass telling him she doesn‘t know if it‘s arrogance or ignorance that led him to violate his bail by trying to contact a fellow defendant in his armed robbery trial.  Like, it can‘t be both?  In a classic, Las Vegas desperation move, the judge played double or nothing—doubling Simpson‘s bail to $250,000 and betting he will not come back again until his April trial.  Friends of Simpson, apparently oblivious to the odds, were said to be wiring more dough to the bail bonds people.

The other Simpson, pop star Jessica, now the latest scapegoat of Dallas Cowboys fans, bearing the brunt of the blame for the team‘s loss to the New York Giants in last Sunday‘s playoff because of her romantic Mexico getaway with quarterback Tony Romo in the off-week before Romo‘s very off game.  She distracted him, like when she rooted for Romo in the stands.  Wait a minute, that might be one of the many Jessica Simpson-lookalikes popping up. 

The two do have defenders, most prominent of them, Romo‘s teammate, Terrell Owens and his “leave Tony and Jessica alone” moment. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TERRELL OWENS, TONY ROMO‘S TEAMMATE:  You can talk about the vacation.  And, if you do that, it‘s really unfair.  It‘s really unfair.  It‘s my quarterback.  If you guys do that, man, it‘s unfair. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And, 25 seconds, please, for the latest book update and pimping:  on the “New York Times” best-seller list is now in print.  “Truth and Consequences” is the 12th best-selling book in the nation.  A special comments book, selling at a pace five times that of the “Worst Persons in the World”, another fine book, by the way.  It remains at number one on the Amazon list for American government and books on the presidency.  Also, it is now available without a prescription.  End promotional transmission.

I don‘t know exactly why we listen to this guy explaining about Kevin Federline and Britney Spears, but we do.  And we make Joel McHale translate it for us.  That‘s ahead but, first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s “Worst Persons in the World”.  The bronze, with Fox and friends to show him at Fixed news channel, doing what was—even for them—a very sloppy segment this morning on how I supposedly run MSNBC in which a former beauty pageant winner complained that I had no real political background.  An ex-sports caster agreed when it was implied that my sports background disqualifies me.  And the next, the weatherman said, “It‘s just extraordinary that MSNBC has got a partisan sitting in the chair.  And not only that, he‘s running the network!” 

I know you guys are sleep-deprived but partisans running a network.  You work for Roger Ales, what are you—hypnotized?  And if I‘m unqualified to talk politics, why did Ales repeatedly try to hire me for your jobs nine years ago?   Most importantly, they droned on for five minutes, stammering, repeating themselves and confusing NBC and with MSNBC—all of it based on an anonymous inaccurate quote by somebody at MSNBC who claimed I run this network—a guy who was fired not long after he said that.  Coincidence!  Coincidence! 

Runners up, the editorial writers at “Investors Business Daily”.  Apparently intent on making “The Wall Street Journal” look like the weather underground review, publishing a blatantly untrue, wildly racist editorial today about Barack Obama that looks like a hurriedly re-written version of this hate e-mail making the rounds.  Claims when he joined the Trinity United Church of Christ, he pledged to uphold the black value system which, it says, is a system that demands blacks, quote, “group together and separate from the larger American society.”  Actually, the black values system asks church members to allocate regularly a portion of personal resources for strengthening and supporting black institutions.  It also attacked Obama‘s concern about strife in Kenya, never noting his grandmother still lives there.  By the way, uses the word “Muslim” nine times. 

But, our winner, Fred Kegan of the American Enterprise Institute telling lunatic-fringe right-winger Hugh Hewitt that the new laws in Iraq about ex-Baathists in government constitute the beginning of their civil rights legislation.  Well, if you mean by beginning equivalent to 100 years ago, when our government would not pass a federal anti-lynching law.  Shiite and Sunni alike are saying the new Baathist law may, in fact, exclude more ex-Baathists  from government than the old one did.  So, why is Mr. Kegan spouting his naive nonsense?  He was one of the architects of Mr. Bush‘s surge.  Case closed.  Fred “Just Keep Lying” Kegan, today‘s “Worst Person in the World”.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, the pregnant Jamie Lynn Spears dissed by her teenage boyfriend.  Her sister, Britney Spears, has her motherhood defended by the 65-year-old Prince Von Anheisler Bush.  And, Matthew McConaughey articulates the joy of  impregnation of his girlfriend in a spiel that would make any trailer park habitue(ph) proud.  Spears—Jamie Lynn—who is pregnant has reportedly been cast under doubt by the alleged baby daddy, Casey Aldridge.  He wants Spears to undergo a paternity test—well, you know what we mean—according to “In Touch Weekly”.  But a Spears rep says the story is completely false—she couldn‘t be the father. 

Better treatment of Spears, Britney, at least by the crackpot self-anointed royalty who once claimed to be the father of Anna Nicole Smith‘s child, Prince Von Android?   This time participated in a drive-by interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FREDERIC VON ANHALT:  She‘s a sweetheart, I love her.  She‘s a very good girl.  You know, it‘s a shame that that woman has to go to court all the time.  She has -- [bleep] It drives every mother out of her mind.  Don‘t you think so.  Give that ex-husband of hers a kick in the [ bleep ].  He needs a kick in the ass, you know.  Fighting, fighting for the children.  He has no right. He should leave the children with the mother.  He should listen to children  -- not the other way around.  He‘s a [ bleep ] loser. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  At least, he was wearing his clothes in the car this time.  More car horns!  But, for pure poetry we turn to Mr. McConaughey who released a statement on his website about the pregnancy of his girlfriend, Camila Alves, which reads in part: “My girlfriend Camila and I made a baby together.  It‘s three months growing in her womb and all looks healthy and lively so far.  We are stoked and wowed by this miracle creation.  Wish us the best.  Keep us in your prayers and God bless evolution.  Thanks for being fans of me and my work.”  He signs off, “Wow McConaughey”.  The dude of vibes.

By the way, Playboy playmate Juliane Gray says that she is pregnant.  She claims the father is David Spade.  OK, everybody, settle your stomachs.  Let‘s turn now to the host of the pop cultural show of record, E! Entertainment‘s “The Soup”, Joel McHale.  Joel, good evening.

JOEL MCHALE, HOST, THE SOUP TV SHOW ON E! ENTERTAINMENT:  Wow, McHale. 

OLBERMANN:  Oh, so, Wow, the Jamie Lynn Spears story in this “In Touch” thing has already been denied by a representative for the 16-year-old girl.  But “In Touch” claims its source as a Spears family friend who says Casey doesn‘t want to be with her until he‘s sure he‘s the father.  They both strayed a bit from the relationship.  They‘re both teenagers, after all.  Well, they are teenagers, Joel, but what are the adjectives that come to mind here to complete the picture?

MCHALE:  Oh, barefoot, horny, irresponsible, sticky?  I think, we need to think about the real victim here, Keith, and that‘s Britney.  How dare Jamie Lynn take the spotlight away from her for more than a second! 

OLBERMANN:  An excellent point.  I‘m sure that‘s an internecine family fight coming up after that.  We need a little bit more understanding in trying to figure out the motives or the mind, if any, of Prince Van anybody.  Why is he being asked about Britney Spears?  Is he available upon request for interviews? What‘s the deal with this idiot?

MCHALE:  This Prince Von Loser, I think, he would be available to anybody that claims himself as female and alive.  I think, Prince Von Nothing should go back to his kingdom and that kingdom is a freak clinic. 

OLBERMANN:  Van Anhopia.  The Spears decision not to use the illusionist Chris Angel in her VMA performance has now been illuminated upon by Mr. Angel.  He says he had planned on making Britney Spears split into two Britneys, then into four Britneys, and then to levitate her over the audience but she couldn‘t commit to the rehearsal time.  Was that a loss or should we, as a society, as a species, be grateful there weren‘t four Britney Spears even for a few moments? 

MCHALE:  Well, if she was divided into four, that would have increased her chances of showing up at court.  So, maybe, that would have gone smoother.

OLBERMANN:  Oh, Lord!  One to stay locked in the room with the kids, one to go to court, one...

MCHALE:  I don‘t want to see that video again. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes, me neither.  One goes to fat burger.  In the remaining moments here, the Renaissance Man, Matthew McConaughey.  His rep says, “he‘s out of his mind”—OK, I agree on that.  “He‘s euphoric, he couldn‘t be happier.”  So, that‘s the whole thing—the joy of being a dad-to-be has just made him freaking crazy?

MCHALE:  No, the weed and bongo drums have made him crazy, Keith.  I think, the fact that his sperm still works has made him euphoric.  By which they will have bored shorts but, boy, they make these little swimmers(ph) afloat.

OLBERMANN:  And David Spade, responding to this Playmate‘s paternity claim, telling TMZ, “I had a brief relationship with Juliane Gray.  If it is true that I am the father of her child, then I will accept responsibility.”  This whole idea is just grotesque, correct?

MCHALE:  Well, Keith, is it any grosser than the 82-year-old who owns “Playboy” has three 20-something girlfriends and has his own show on “E!” where you can watch the entire creepy octogenarian spectacle?

OLBERMANN:  Yes, but at least, he‘ll have an egg now and again so it looks like he‘s more interested in getting his food.  Joel McHale, the host of “The Soup” on “E!”, the same network.  How about that, I got a plug-in for their show, too.  Good for you.  New on Friday night, we‘re looking forward to that.  As always, thanks, Joel.

MCHALE:  Wow McHale.

OLBERMANN:  Wow McHale.  Thanks, Wow.  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this 1,722nd day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Wow 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   

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