updated 2/1/2008 12:02:26 PM ET 2008-02-01T17:02:26

Guests: Richard Wolffe, Jonathan Alter

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

Clinton, nationally: 43-39.  But the Keith number is 11.  Clinton and Obama in Connecticut: 40-40.  But the missing number including any support for John Edwards is 24.  Clinton, California: 43-40, but the flex number there is 12.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Over the past few weeks, we‘ve heard some cynical talk about how black folks and white folks and Latinos cannot come together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The latest subtext to the Obama-Clinton battle: Ted Kennedy, reportedly offended by the Hillary Clinton‘s remarks about Martin Luther King and President Johnson because left entirely out of the equation was President Kennedy.  President Clinton versus Senator Kennedy, Bill and Ted‘s not so excellent adventure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Can you control him?  Oh, of course.  You know, there‘s only one president at a time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Since when?  Oh, yes, before those guys.  Well, here‘s hoping. 

The Republicans rant (ph) asunder as the lunatic fringe screams that

John McCain has been forced down their throats by liberals and

independents, even though Florida was a Republicans only vote.  The senator

gets his third endorsement that will tick them off still further.  First

the “New York Times,” then Rudy Giuliani and now -

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ® CALIFORNIA:  I think that Senator McCain has proven over and over again that he is reaching across the aisle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Reaching back through the television.  Bill O, protested by the homeless veterans who said, do not exist or if they did, they were drug addicts and crazy people and nobody can help them.  And he sends his flunky to taunt the protesting homeless heroes.

And tonight: A special comment of FISA and the telecoms.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES:  It means, if you don‘t act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The deadline is extended 15 days but the president still insists on retroactive immunity for whatever crimes the telecom companies committed helping him eavesdrop on you even though he will not confirm they did anything.  Too bad the vice president just did confirm that and too bad the president would rather protect the corporations from the law than protect the people from the terrorists.

All that and more, now, on COUNTDOWN.

Good evening, this is Thursday, January 31st, 278 days until the 2008 presidential election.  The Woodward and Bernstein source may have conveyed the reporters to connect the burglary at Democratic headquarters to the campaign financing a President Nixon‘s election, but “deep throat” never actually said, “follow the money.”  That was the concise creation of the great screenwriter, Bill Goldman.  And tonight, his line also proves useful even for campaigns absent any whiff of scandal. 

Our fifth story in the COUNTDOWN: Follow the money.  Barack Obama has raised $32 million this month and they haven‘t counted today‘s receipts yet, nor the receipt of the late breaking news that 200,000-member transportation workers‘ union will switch its endorsement to Obama from John Edwards.  And Senator Obama was speaking at the town hall style forum in L.A.  No word yet on how much Senators Clinton or McCain raised this month.  Though, McCain apparently was as broke as he seemed before his winning streak—more on that in a bit. 

Obama now advertising in 20 of the 22 states in play for next week‘s Super Tuesday primaries and to start advertising in states that would vote thereafter.  No public events on Senator Clinton‘s schedule today.  She is now advertising in 12 Super Tuesday states including her own New York and California where a statewide ad buy can cost as much as $5 million a week, can‘t find me love, can‘t buy me improve poll numbers. 

Senator Obama appears to be gaining on Senator Clinton there.  Her lead down to three in the Rasmussen Reports poll for California: 43 percent to 40 percent.  The survey was taken on Tuesday when Edwards was still in the race.  His 9 percent now up for grabs.  In addition, the Keith number: not sure plus margin of error is 8 percent.  Two weeks ago, Senator Clinton was up by a point margin in the same survey, the other variables considerably greater then as well.  Meanwhile, the race is also tightening up nationally.  In the Gallup daily tracking poll, Senator Obama closing the gap by two points in just the last 24-hours.  Today, Clinton: 43, Obama: 39; Keith number: 11 percent.  Yesterday, it had been Clinton: 42;

Obama: 36, Keith number, holding.  Time now to call in our own, Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine joining us tonight from Los Angeles.  Richard, good evening.

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

OLBERMANN:  Today‘s headlines, Senator Obama $32 million raised in the month of January with the last day not counted yet.  The entire presidential field in California for the day, in terms of what it‘s going to take to win in California next Tuesday, these headlines are linked how?

WOLFFE:  Well, first up, it‘s an extraordinary amount of money for any candidate to pull in and not least the candidate who he pulled in all this money after he lost in New Hampshire.  So, big sums of money here.  California, you‘d think, well, that‘s the TV advertising.  But it is interesting that the Obama campaign has not added to it‘s TV buy here with all this cash flowing in.  And that tells you one of two things, either the numbers are closing even more than we think and they are confident how it‘s going to shape from here.  Or, what I think is more probable, there are diminishing returns of the Obama campaign.  They can add an extra $5 million to their spending and really not increase the number of delegates that much.  So, they‘re taking a strategic view here putting that money in the post February 5th states.

OLBERMANN:  So, what is in play that was not?  We cannot stir at all 22 states at once or we‘ll go nuts.  Which one or two are in fact, the least wins on Tuesday?

WOLFFE:  Well, I don‘t want to make you go nuts before February 5th, but it‘s going to be even more complex and confusing.  Because we use to in TV land anyway, calling these states and saying the winner is this.  But these are proportional states.  So, what we have to do here is look congressional district by district.  So, in California you make another winner but the delegate counts will look different and it does come back to add California, number of delegates in play, the complexity here is going to decide how long and whether this race continues beyond February 5th.  It‘s all down to those individual districts in California.

OLBERMANN:  The news that‘s coming tonight that tomorrow the transportation workers endorsement is going to move from Senator Edwards to Senator Obama.  Is this a harbinger?  Is this the gates moving apart here for him? Could it be the first of several unions to switch to Obama now that Edwards has pulled out?

WOLFFE:  Well, you would think so.  I mean, unions were Edwards‘ core strength here.  And it‘s been something lacking in terms of the Obama campaign and they do deliver the votes when it comes to the ground game in the last 48-72 hours of any of these primaries.  So, they are important.  Clinton has a lot of big union support, too.  So, I‘d say, it‘s a evening out here rather than a decisive factor for anything in Obama land.

OLBERMANN:  And as important as securing any endorsement by Senator Edwards, himself, might it be just as important to lock down his fundraisers?

WOLFFE:  Yes, there‘s a hard competition here for the fundraisers.  I mean, clearly, Obama is raising enough money from the Internet and I‘m sure Hillary Clinton is raising a lot of money, too.  Not as much but those big fundraisers are important, they‘re important signals for the people in the party, too.  In the end, what they‘re looking for of course, is where is that 12 points as soon the polls break down in terms of Edwards‘ vote going to Obama or Clinton.  And we still haven‘t got a good handle on that.

OLBERMANN:  Lastly, Richard, anything on an Edwards endorsement?

WOLFFE:  You know, not yet.  I think it‘s going to be - it‘s a tough call whether he does it before February 5th.  Look for the other key figures who are out there, notably, the wife of Charlie Rangel, look what she does.  She sponsored in an Obama fundraiser, big New York supporter as she might go for Obama.

OLBERMANN:  Wow.  Richard Wolffe of MSNBC and “Newsweek” Great thanks.  See what‘s happening in the Rangel‘s household.  We‘ll see you again later tonight.  Thanks, Richard.

Senator Ted Kennedy‘s stumping for Obama today in New Mexico.  Quoting the Latino vote on Obama‘s behalf.  Three days after he gave him his endorsement.  Not coincidentally, New Mexico is where former president Clinton spent his day as well, raising the question of whether we are going to see as many Kennedy-Clinton match-ups on the campaign trail as we do match-ups between the actual candidates who are running.  Bill Clinton‘s making other headlines today.  According to the “New York Times” report, Bill Clinton helped a Canadian mining magnate secure a contract in Kazakhstan after deal, the magnate donated $31 million to the Clinton foundation.  Senator Clinton seem to admit in a Nightline interview last night that her husband‘s presidency was in fact a co-presidency and saying, it did not work.  In a key phrase of her husband‘s stump speech essentially about America is the message her administration would be, quote, “We‘re back.”  It‘s open to multiple interpretations.  It‘s time now to bring in our own Jonathan Alter, senior editor at “Newsweek” magazine.  John, good evening.

JONATHAN ALTER, NEWSWEEK:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  A little of Senator Kennedy‘s motives sort of coming to the surface a few days after he made his endorsement that he was taking enraged in a different way at Senator Clinton‘s invocation of Martin Luther King and President Lyndon Johnson?

ALTER:  Yes, there‘s indication that he was concerned that Senator Clinton didn‘t mention the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was actually originally proposed by President Kennedy.  President Johnson got it through after the assassination.  I don‘t think that by itself is the sum total of what caused them to get so angry on that now famous telephone call between Kennedy and Clinton.  He was also upset about the fairy tale line where Bill Clinton said that Obama‘s position on Iraq was a fairy tale.  Kennedy said, in the day since that clearly Obama and his view was entirely consistent on Iraq and to make him into a flip-flopper on that issue, he felt was out of bounds.  And he also felt, and he told Clinton directly that the campaign was getting too racial and that they were pushing some buttons that if not racist by themselves, set in motion dynamics that made the campaign more racial than Ted Kennedy felt comfortable with.  And the call was apparently quite hot.

OLBERMANN:  Wow.  And nobody gets quite hotter than an angry Kennedy except it‘s an angry Bill Clinton.  Are we seeing Senator Kennedy as Senator Obama‘s President Clinton equivalent, I mean when worlds or moons collide here?

ALTER:  Well, it‘s interesting because on Monday, at the endorsement event, Kennedy was much angrier really in his rhetoric than anybody really expected.  Meanwhile, Bill Clinton is toning down his rhetoric.  He‘s on his best behavior.  I think where Kennedy is going to be critical is on this Hispanic vote.  He was on the Hispanic radio today in California saying that only he and Obama went out and marched with those Hispanics against what was going on the Republican side on immigration a couple of years ago.

OLBERMANN:  It may have been last year.

ALTER:  Yes, last year.  And so, they‘re really trying to use him to bring in Hispanic votes and other votes of traditional liberals, older Democrats less of a hatchet man.

OLBERMANN:  Is it clear yet regarding the Clinton campaign whether the Clinton‘s are trying to convince people there‘s going to be a co-presidency or they‘re isn‘t going to be a co-presidency?

ALTER:  Well, they‘re walking that line, you know.  On the hand one, when you talk to voters and that was out you know, knocking on doors in San Pablo, California a few days ago, just trying to talk to working class Democrats and for them, Bill Clinton is a huge asset, for many of them.  So, that co-presidency thing is one of the things they like about Hillary.  But obviously, if it goes too far, as we‘ve seen in the last couple of weeks, it raises questions.  And Gary Wills, the great historian raised this question in the “New York Times” recently and he brought up Dick Cheney.  He said it didn‘t work well to have two presidents over the last eight years; we might want to think twice about whether we want a two presidents going forward.

OLBERMANN:  And addressing the question of raising in the different sense, there‘s no denying the Clinton Foundation has done great work, but what happens if his wife becomes president, what happens to him trying to raise money and weld influence internationally on his own?

ALTER:  Well, you and I really know this because we are two of the only reporters who cover this part of Bill Clinton‘s life which is highly commendable.  He‘s done amazing work raising money to fight AIDS and fight poverty overseas.  The problem is: Can he continue to do that if Hillary is the nominee and president or are there just too many conflicts that would come to the floor?  And that‘s something he and his foundation worry about.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, that was a shot across the bow on that topic today.  Jonathan Alter of “Newsweek” and MSNBC.  Thanks for coming in.  Just a reminder, I‘ll be back with special analysis tonight‘s face off between Senators Clinton and Obama.  I‘m joined by Richard Wolffe, Eugene Robinson, Rachel Maddow, Pat Buchanan and a view from the Web from Arianna Huffington, Josh Marshall with TPM, John Armando (ph) from Crooks and Liars.  Watch it there, if you must.  Understand it here.  COUNTDOWN special coverage begins at 10:00 eastern, 7:00 pacific.

Another endorsement for John McCain by another person hard Right Republicans really don‘t like.  Is there a genuine the GOP will implode over this?

And: If the FISA law is not renewed, the president is implying Americans could die at the hands of terrorists.  Yet, he is willing to see it not renewed.  And that means—does that mean he‘s also willing to see Americans die at the hands of terrorists?

Tonight: A special comments of FISA and the telecoms.  You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  An ultraconservative brands the first big four primary states, the axis of evil and claims that John McCain has hijacked the Republican Party.  Is it coming apart at the scenes?  And later: Logic sure is as the president a counter terror bill, one who will veto if the people are protected but the telecom giants are not, a special comment tonight on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: If the far right has its way by the election, the Republican Party may come apart like a cheap suit.  The Republican Party has been hijacked write one overheated gentleman at “Human Events” magazine.  Over the past month, a new axis of evil has emerged.  Not one based in Damascus, Tehran, or Pyongyang but instead in Cedar Rapids, Charleston South Carolina, there in New Hampshire and Boca Raton, Florida.  It is the liberal and independent voters of these four states that have nearly completed a deed that makes Kim Jong-il envious.  The near crippling of American electoral system.  He blames the extreme liberalism of Iowa, South Carolina, New Hampshire and Florida for making liberal John McCain the front-runner.  Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: If he‘s liberal, what would they call Abraham Lincoln?  Satan?  Meantime, the kind of endorsements for McCain that drive the lunatic fringe nuts keep filing up at a solar energy company, in Simi Valley, California and key word seemed to be global.  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger official threw his support to John McCain.  The governor admitted later in answering to a question that he did not plan on endorsing anybody because he didn‘t want to choose between his two friends, McCain and Rudy Giuliani who was also there today.  But yesterday‘s Giuliani endorsement obviously put all that to rest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ® CALIFORNIA:  There are things that Senator McCain has proven over and over again.  That he is reaching across the aisle in order to get things done.  There are people out there that talked about reaching across the aisle but he has shown the action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And after Senator McCain‘s own remarks, he was asked the $64,000 question.  If two endorsements as in many days from party moderates may have a downside.  McCain responded, the two heroes endorsed him and he dropped in another name.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  Today, Rick Perry, the governor of Texas will be endorsing me.  You will see a flood of endorsements across this country from both liberal and conservative.  We need all parts of our party together if we‘re going to win in November.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s call in NBC News political director, Chuck Todd. 

Thanks for your time tonight, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  You got it, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Given the early reaction to McCain, Right wing radio, these guys at the fringe or apparently trying to draft Herbert Hoover or somebody.  Does McCain have prayer (ph) of pulling what he just said of?  Can he bring different parts of this incredibly desperate party together?

TODD:  One big if.  If the Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton.  And that‘s what he‘s counting on and that‘s what makes the Democratic race become more fascinating now.  Now that it looks like the Republicans are going to have a nominee.  Because John McCain is much stronger and much more capable of keeping the Republican Party together and the conservative movement together if the opponent is Hillary Clinton.  If it‘s Barack Obama, you know, then all of a sudden, all these scenarios, a third party challenger, you know, a challenge from the right, a challenge in the middle.  Then, suddenly, he could face some problems.

OLBERMANN:  And what are the chances this keeps getting worst internally and not better and they really run a third party candidate and maybe two of them.  Maybe there‘s a Tom Tancredo, practical conservative and there‘s a religious conservative, Huckabee.  That could be four candidates, is that possible?

TODD:  Well, I think a lot of it has to do with who the Democrats nominate.  You know, Hillary Clinton solves all of John McCain‘s problems.  He keeps everybody calm, keeps everybody sort of inside the big tent.  If you know, the opponent is Obama, then all bets are off.  But, I think that McCain obviously is going to have, it may take that McCain has to start not just naming a running mate early, but start naming some cabinet members early.  Start trying to keep different wings of the party happy.  He may have to create a whole team of running mates to keep certain members happy.  I mean, on the running front, you know, look, Mike Huckabee right now is the reason why John McCain is probably going to have this nomination sawn up on February 5th.  He is serving as this 15 percent siphon of a potential Mitt Romney vote, that Romney has not been able to get the social conservatives and the economic conservatives in his tent.  If he could, he could probably take McCain in a one on one.  It would be very close.  McCain has corralled the 40 percent of moderates that are there in the party.  And there are 40 percent.  It‘s a very high number, sometimes one that‘s overlook, but you take that 15 percent that Huckabee is getting from social conservatives and suddenly McCain has the winning hand.

OLBERMANN: So, are the endorsements, the “New York Times”, Giuliani, Schwarzenegger, are they more hurtful to McCain‘s effort here than helpful?

TODD:  You know, they could be hurtful, but the problem is Romney doesn‘t have—in a one on one, they would be hurtful.  In a fact that it‘s still three-way race and still a three-way because look, Huckabee shows up, flashes the smile, does the op shots (ph)  routine and somehow he gets 10-15 percent of evangelicals to climb aboard.  As long as he‘s still in there, then, you know, these endorsements from the so-called left of the Republican Party, Arnold, Rudy and the “New York Times,” although the “New York Times” is not part of the Republican Party, but you know what I‘m saying.  From the left there.  Then, they‘re just not as harmful because there isn‘t a united anti-McCain front.  And that‘s the thing that‘s benefiting McCain here.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, the New York Times is not been Republican since Lincoln.  Chuck Todd, political director of NBC News.  Is that the guy for Lincoln like  -- anyway, thank you, Chuck.

TODD:  All right, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Only at FOX noise would they do this.  A group supporting homeless vets pickets Bill O, Bill O sends out a producer idiot to harass the homeless vets.  And hey, body, anybody ever tell you looks like, what‘s his name?  What‘s his name?  These stories ahead but first the headline‘s breaking in the administration‘s 50 other scandals - Bushed.

Number three: Lip service-gate.  In the State of the Union, Mr. Bush implored, let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions.  Twenty-four hours later, the administration cancelled the FutureGen projects, $1.5 billion facility that was supposed to be build at Mattoon, Illinois has the, quote, “cleanest fossil fuel fired power plant in the world.”

Number two: Surge-gate.  The president also said in the same address, the surge troops were beginning to come home.  Not exactly.  The operational commander in Iraq, General Odierno says, after the troop productions this July, he may call for a freeze on anymore withdrawals.

And number one: Commission-gate.  A new book by New York Times reporter, Philip Shannon (ph), will claim that the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow not only interfere with the 9/11 report, but he talked to Karl Rove about how to do that and the staffers of the committee that he prevented the report from including language, quote, “It would have depicted Condoleezza Rice performance.  During the months prior to 9/11 as amounting to in confidence (ph) or something not far from it.”  How fortunate that we all already knew that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  January 31st, this is the birthday of actresses, Jessica Walter and Portia de Rossi, who happened to play mother and daughter in the late romantic of genius that was the television series “Arrested Development.”  Miss Walters‘ father appeared in Arturo Toscanini‘s NBC‘s Symphony Orchestra, and Miss de Rossi was born Amanda Rogers in Australia.  Are you guys making an “Arrested Development” movie, or do I have to keep pleading or what?  Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin in the Santa Fe section of Bogota, Colombia where Oddball has managed to do something President Bush could not.  We have found Osama Bin Laden.  Actually, it‘s bizarro Osama bin Laden, a man named, Fernando Aguirre who claims he is Bin Laden‘s son and who for seven years, has patrolled Bogota streets dressed like the homicidal maniac, in order to ward off neighborhood criminals.  So, just exactly why would Aguirre use Osama‘s evil for good?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FERNANDO AGUIRRE (translation):  I guard stores, taverns and most of all restaurants so that people can come have fun here in Santa Fe, and it is not a dangerous place because Osama is here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Ah, it‘s a pro-food and fun based fatwa.  Now, it makes sense.

Seoul, South Korea, where earlier this week, celebrity crooner Na Huna (ph) called a news conference to dispel ugly rumors probably somebody in the media floated the story that the singer was castrated by a Japanese gang leader because of some sort of a lovers quarrel.  Na Huna (ph) refused to stand for this, instead deciding to stand on the table and offering to whip out the truth on live TV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translated):  I can show you for five minutes.  Do I have to show you, or would you just believe me?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  I believe you, I believe you!

TV Networks cut the feed.  Na Huna never did expose the kahuna, eventually zipping up and stepping down.  Unfortunately, I think he just give Bill O an idea.

Finally to the Internet.  It‘s the stupidest thing in the world web to date.  Behold, the pizza tracker.  A website that allows you to track the progress of your pizza order online.  Once you place the order, you log on to the Interweb and watch your pie‘s magical journey.  From prep to bake to box to the delivery phase.  It doesn‘t do anything useful I tell you when your delivery guy is around the corner.  If you put on your pants like that, that—and never mind.  But it gets you emotionally invested in the life span of your pie so you then feel guilty about eating the little sucker.

Same as the hands a bit annoyed written all over it.

Homeless vets protest the Frank Burns of news.  So Bill O‘ sends out his chattels to give them a hard time.

In tonight‘s “Special Comment,” President Bush, the FISA Bill and immunity for the telecoms.  The president throwing out the counter terrorism baby with bath water.  These stories ahead.

But first some of kind of, “Best Persons in the World”.  Number three best, alls well that ends well.  Cody Young of South Salem, Oregon.  The 13-year-old didn‘t want anybody to steal his bicycle, while he was out of the electronics place so he parked it just inside the Good Will store and they promptly sold it for $7.  Everybody felt lousy so a local newspaper printed the story and the woman who bought the bike, promptly returned it.  If it was my son‘s bike said, Anne Lambert, I know how he would feel for you.

Number two, Stevie Wood, members of the Hash House Harriers, the social and running club in Dorset in England.  The late Stevie Wood.  She was 86.  She passed away her instructions, cremation and then mixed her ashes with sawdust and flour to create a new running trail on which friends could run the first Stevie Wood Memorial 8K.  Ashes to dashes, as they say.

And number one, the new prime minister of Thailand, Samak Sundaravej.  In sign language in Thailand, celebrities are often identified by a prominent physical characteristic at the same time.  Now he has big ears, the interpreter might point through the ear shorthand.  The new prime minister has been nicknamed at Rose Apple Nose because his nose is thought to look like a rose apple.  So for years, they‘ve had this one gesture for him.  But now that he‘s prime minister, for some reason, this shorthand for Mr. Rose Apple Nose, this is suddenly a problem.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Today, two weeks after challenging a guest to show him a single homeless veteran so he could help them.  Bill O‘Reilly, the Frank Burns of news, had a chance to meet one for himself.  More than one, in fact, and in our third story in the “COUNTDOWN,” he chose not to.

More than that, just a few hours ago, just two blocks from here, O‘Reilly turn the veterans away back out into the cold.  Not only did Bill O‘ cold shoulder away, the man who serve their country, he broke his public pledge to make sure veterans no longer had to sleep under bridges, literally or metaphorically.  He did not even have the courage to meet them face to face to shake their hands, to hear their stories, to have them forbid summon the grace to apologize.

Instead, a producer asked the woman whose group provides transitional housing for 83 vets whether have an appointment.  This despite the fact that Bill O‘ literally said on TV, quote, “We are still looking for all the veterans sleeping under the bridges, so if you find anybody let us know.”

The producer took them into the lobby so that our cameras could not get a shot at of him except in their petition with 17,000 signatures calling on O‘Reilly to apologize for saying there are no homeless vets.  Instead of meeting with those veterans, O‘Reilly had one of his, Stuttering-John-Type guys, tell the vets group, please leave a message, somebody will get back to you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAROLE GARDENER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FITZGERALD HOUSE:  They were very thankful.  Thanks for coming with the petition and that they will get back to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How do you feel?

GARDENER:  Great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Great.  It all began after John Edwards started pledging to help the average 200,000 U.S. military veterans who go without a roof on any given light in this country.  Instead of helping Edwards, Bill O‘ called them a liar, saying quote, “The only thing sleeping under a bridge is that guy‘s brain,” whatever that means.  In fact, two minutes on the intertubes, would have told Bill O‘, the 200, 000 estimates came from the Bush administration.

And that number is a lot lower than the official government number that‘s who are homeless at some point over the course of the year.  That‘s closer to 330,000.  Of course, when facts like that did emerge, O‘Reilly, changed his story—OK, maybe there are homeless vets, but not a lot.  OK maybe it is a lot, but they all have substance abuse problems or mental problems and the government can‘t help them.  OK, the government should help them.  OK, anything but I was wrong, Edwards was right.  Today those homeless veterans and Bill O‘ would not meet, would not hear, and spoke to us about O‘Reilly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREGORY ROLLINS, HOMELESS VETERAN:  What you got to hide?  We‘re right here.  We brought it to you.  What you got to hide?  You know what I mean.  If you make the statement, if your man enough, own up to it.  If you didn‘t make it, then own up.  I mean, at least you‘re man enough to apologize if you did make the statement.  You know, if your man enough, own up to what you do.  That‘s a real man.

NESTOR CABRERA, HOMELESS VETERAN:  You know, Mr. Bill O‘Reilly, I would like to escort you to the shelters.  I would like to escort you to the V.A. Hospitals and to the streets.  I would like to know where you get your data from.  We need to sit down so we can get add this up and get back to business.  You know?  This is a great nation.  You know?  Wouldn‘t we fight for our country?  I love my country.  Don‘t treat us like this.  Help us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Cabrera, he gets his data from what he sits on.

The president must have the FISA bill extended or Americans would be imperiled.  But if the FISA bill does not include immunity for the companies who helped him eavesdrop or Americans, he will veto his.  So wait, does that not mean the president is ready to imperil Americans?  And this man has managed.  He‘s managed to offend everyone.  His analogy for Rudy Giuliani‘s farewell speech on Florida on Tuesday.  What an Italian hostage said just before he was shot, he is a landmark edition of “Worse Persons” next on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Tonight‘s free fluke at celebrity and entertainment begins with what could be a turning point in the train wreck that has become Britney Spears.  For a second time, she was hospitalizes for observation but in star contrast, her last trip under duress.  The website TMZ says her new psychiatrist plan this intervention, days in advance.  Police escort, taking her to the UCLA Medical Center in the early morning hours referring to her as “the package.”  Police radios to limit the paparazzi.

According to TMZ, her mother, Lynne Spears was agitated.  Britney Spears telling her to shut the hell up as she sat calmly and voluntarily submitted to begin several days of observation.

Meanwhile, Dr. Phil was repeatedly said he shouldn‘t have said what he said after his hospital visit to Spear.  He was on “The View,” this morning, saying he couldn‘t say much this time because he knows nothing about it.  When does the, not saying anything, part take in.

And in star contrast, the Hollywood self-absorb celebrities, here‘s the latest role for the actor, George Clooney, as a messenger of peace for the United Nations.  Clooney is now officially touring U.N. peacekeeping missions around the world to bring attention to humanitarian disasters.  Telling a news conference, celebrities can‘t change policy or minds, but they can make people pay attention to problems like Darfur, something he and fellow actors had been during for years to their organization called “Not on Our Watch”.  Hundreds of thousands have died and millions displaced have been displace by war in Darfur.

Tonight‘s “Special Comment,” is the FISA Bill, if it really is life or death for Americans as the president insists why is he willing to veto it just to protect some corporations from lawsuits.  That‘s ahead.

But first some kind of “Worst Persons in the World.”  The bronze to Karl Rove and Fox Noise.  The blog inside cable news reporting when it was promptly stolen without credit by Matt Drudge but Rove will join Fox News as a contributor and start working with them as early as next week, Super Tuesday.  You mean continue working with them, not start, continue.

The silver tonight to William Donohue, self crescent president of the Catholic League who really has been in a mood off late.  He has now attacked (INAUDIBLE) Bill Maher, telling Fox News that Maher is quote, “Going out to not just religion in general, he really has it out against Christians and that the point right now, I‘d love to challenge this guy in a ring.  Preferably Madison Square Garden.  I‘m a lot older than he is, but let me tell you something, I floor him.”

Yes, that‘s exactly how Jesus dealt with his doubters, right?  Didn‘t he stage a series of exciting three-round bouts against the paresis?

But our winner, our Byron York of the “National Review,” wring a Tuesday‘s sweat filled semi-farewell by St. Rudy of 9/11, quote, “It is here in the Tuscan Bowl, that Rudy Giuliani has come to address supporters in the wake of his resounding defeat in the Florida primary.  And he is probably, wildly inappropriate to say, but in this setting and under these circumstances, it is hard not to think of that Fabrizio Quattrocchi, the courageous gentleman who taken hostage by Islamic terrorist in Iraq in 2004, cried out now I will show you how an Italian dies, just before he was shot.

Well, congratulations.  Not even in this segment whom I think I‘ve ever encountered anybody who has managed to pull all this off.  Managing to offend and at the same time, Republicans, Democrats, Giuliani supporters, Giuliani haters, Italians, Humanist, paranoid, counter terrorist, pragmatic counter terrorist, friends of Fabrizio Quattrocchi and magazine critics.  Well done, sir.  You have offended everybody.

Byron, if you think it‘s probably widely inappropriate to say, then don‘t say it, moron.  York, today‘s “Worst Person in the World.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Finally, tonight as promised, a “Special Comment” of FISA and the telecoms.  In a presidency of hypocrisy and administration of exploitation, a labyrinth of leadership in which every vital fact is a puzzle inside a riddle wrap in an enigma hidden under a claim of executive privilege supervised by an idiot.  This one is surprisingly easy.

President Bush has put protecting the telecom giants from the laws ahead of protecting you from the terrorist.  He has demanded an extension of FISA law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  But only an extension that includes retroactive immunity for the telecoms who helped him spy on you.  Congress has given him and he has today signed a 15-day extension, which simply kicks the time bomb down the field, which has change nothing of his insipid rhetoric in which he portrays the Democrats as soft on terror and getting in the way of his super human efforts to protect the nation.

When, in fact and with bitter irony, if anybody is soft on terror right now, it is Mr. Bush.  In the State of the Union address, sir, you told Congress, if you do not act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats will be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger.  Yet you are willing to weaken that ability.  You will subject us, your citizens, to that radar danger.

This Mr. Bush is simple enough even for you to understand.  If Congress approves the new FISA act without telecom immunity, and sends it to your desk and you veto it, you by your own terms and your definitions.  You will have just sided with the terrorists.  You got to have this law or we‘re all going to die.  But you might veto this law.

It‘s bad enough, sir, that you are demanding an Expose Facto Law, which would clear the phone giants from responsibility for their systematic, aggressive, and blatant collaboration with your illegal and unjustified spying on Americans under this flimsy guides of looking for any terrorists who are stupid enough to make a collect call or send a mass e-mail.

But when you then demanded again during the State of the Union address, the Congress retroactively clear the Verizon‘s and AT&T‘s you wouldn‘t even confirm that they actually did anything for which they deserved to be cleared.  The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America.  Believed?  Don‘t you know?  Does the endless hair splitting of your presidential fine print extend even here?

If you, sir, are asking Congress and us to join you in this shameless, breathless, literally textbook example of fascism, the merge efforts of government and corporation who answered to no government, you still don‘t have the guts to even say the telecom companies did assist you in your efforts?  Will you and the equivocators who surround you like a cocoon never go on the record about anything, even the stuff you claim to believe in?  Silly me.

Of course Mr. Bush is going to say believe.  Yes, it sounds dumber than if he had referred to himself as the alleged president or had said today is reportedly Thursday or acclaim mission accomplished in Iraq.  But the moment he does say anything else, any doubt that the telecoms knowingly broke the laws out the window and with it, any chance that even the Republicans who are fighting this like they are trying to fend off terrorists using nothing but broke beer bottles and swear words could not consent to retroactively immunize corporate criminals, which is why the vice president probably shouldn‘t have phoned in to the Rush Limbaugh propaganda festival yesterday.

Six sentence out of Mr. Cheney‘s mouth.  The FISA bill is about, quote, retroactive liability protection for the company‘s that have worked with us and helped us prevent further attacks against the United States.  Oops, Mr. Cheney is something of a loose cannon of course.  But he kind of let the wrong cat out of the bag there.  Because Mr. Bush and the corporations that he values more than people, did not want anybody to verify what Mark Klein says.

Mark Klein is the AT&T whistle blower who appeared on this news cast last November who explained in a placid, dull terms of your local neighborhood IT desk, how he personally attached all of AT&T circuits, everything.  Carrying every phone call, every e-mail, every bit of web browsing into a secure room, room number 641-A at the Folsom St. facility in San Francisco, where it was all copied so the government could look at it.  Not some of it, not just the international part of it, certainly not just the stuff some, truly patriotic and telepathic spy might able to define have been sent or spoken by or to a terrorist, every thing.

Every time you looked at a naked picture, every time you bid on eBay, every time you phoned in a donation to a Democrat, my thought was George Orwell‘s 1984, Mr. Klein told me, reflecting back and here I am, forced to connect the big brother machine.  You know, Mr. Bush, if Mr.  Klein‘s big brother machine, along the vice president conveniently just confirmed for us, if it wasn‘t any damn use at all at actually finding anything, you could probably program it to find out who started that slanderous e-mail about Barack Obama.

Use room 641-A to identify that E-assassin, sir, and I‘ll stand up and applaud you.  Yes, I‘m holding my breath on that one too.  But of course, sir, this isn‘t about finding that kind of needle in a haystack.  This is not even about finding a haystack.  This is about scooping up every piece of hay there ever was and laying the ground work for the next little job which you have to outsource to AT&T and Verizon and all the rest.

It was your director of National Intelligence, Mr. McConnell, letting this one out of that same bag.  The need for homeland security to stable off cyber attacks against the governments computer networks.  And how do they do that, sir?  By constantly monitoring the Internet.  The whole internet.  And who actually, physically does that, Mr. Bush?  Right, the same telecom giants for whom you want immunity quickly, so quickly you wouldn‘t believe it.  Because this previous domestic spying and this upcoming policing of the Internet, they may be completely evil, indiscriminate, unlawful and you have to dress it all up as something just the opposite.  It isn‘t evil.  It‘s you said to protect America.

It isn‘t indiscriminate.  You said it‘s the ability to monitor terrorist communications.  It isn‘t unlawful.  It‘s just the kind of perfectly legal thing for which you happen to need immunity.  There‘s yet another level to this and here we move from big brother to sleazy son.  Mr.  Bush‘s new attorney-general Mr. Mukasey, the one who has already taken four different positions on waterboarding and who may yet tie that record on this subject of telecom immunity.  He has a very personal stake in all this.

There happens to be a partner in the law firm of Bracewell and Giuliani name, Mark Mukasey.  Bracewell and Giuliani and the attorney general‘s son, Mark, just happens to represent Verizon.  You know, Verizon, telecom giant.  And all of a sudden, this is no longer just a farce in which protecting the telecom as dress up as protecting us from terrorist conference calls.

Now, it begins to look like the bureaucrats in the third write, trying to protect the Krupp Family, industrial giants, by literally rewriting the laws of Germany for their benefit.  And we know how that turned out.  Alfred Krupp and 11 of his directors were convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg.

And then the last, for those of us watching the president demanding this very specific law, the once that Germans had, it was called the Lex-Krupp.  There is one surprising bit of comfort in all this.  Clearly, Mr. Bush is at his hyperbolic worst here.  Consider how his chief of staff, Andy Card, came on and scolded Chris Matthews in the after the State of the Union Address.  The president‘s address tonight was very important, Card said, because it really was a sobering call to reality for us.

And the reality is we have an enemy who wants to hurt us.  The primary job of the president is to protect us.  He talked about protecting us, he talked the needs to have the tools to protect us.  Indeed, Mr. Bush.  The primary job of any president is to protect us, not just those of us who own Internet and telephone companies, but all of us.  And even you, sir, with your Internet and grasp of reality, even with your ego greater than 100 percent approval rating, even with your messianic petulance, even you could not truly choose to protect corporations instead of the people.

I am not talking about ethics here.  I am talking about blame.  Even if it‘s you throwing out the baby with the bathwater, Mr. Bush, it still means we can safely conclude, there is no baby.  There is not a choice of protecting the telecoms from prosecution, or protecting the people from terrorists, sir.  There is a choice of protecting the telecoms from this prosecution or pretending to protect the people from terrorists.

Sorry, Mr. Bush.  The eavesdropping provisions of FISA have obviously had no impact on counter-terrorism and there is no current or perceived terrorist threat, the thwarting of which could hinge on an e-mail or a phone call that‘s going through room 641-A at AT&T in San Francisco next week or next month.  Because if there were, Mr. Bush, and you were to, by your own hand, veto an extension of this eavesdropping, and some terrorist attack were to follow, you would not merely be guilty of siding with the terrorists, you would not merely be guilty of prioritizing the telecoms over the people, you would not merely be guilty of stupidity, you would not merely be guilty of treason, sir, but you would be personally, and eternally, responsible.

And if there is one thing we know about you, Mr. Bush, one thing that you have proved time and time again under any and all circumstances, it is that you are never responsible.  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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