updated 7/9/2008 11:36:11 AM ET 2008-07-09T15:36:11

Guest: Jonathan Turley, James Moore, Howard Fineman, Chuck Todd

RACHEL MADDOW, GUEST HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

Hitting back.  Barack Obama responds to a voter, a former Republican, who calls foul on McCain‘s charges that Obama has flip-flopped on Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE:  So when I hear John McCain saying, “We can‘t surrender, we can‘t wave the white flag,” nobody‘s talking about surrender.  We‘re talking about common sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Well, McCain could face a big flip-flop of his own soon.  The Iraqis, for a second straight day, say they want our troops to leave.  How will that gibe with McCain‘s war plans given this -

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, ® PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE:  I don‘t see how we could stay when our whole emphasis and policy has been based on turning the Iraqi government over to the Iraqi people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Ad wars.  The Obama camp fires off the first response ad of the general election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR:  On gas prices, John McCain is part of the problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  While McCain remains on the offensive, taking on “the audacity of hope.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR:  John McCain doesn‘t always tell us what we hope to hear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  The fight over FISA.  The Bush administration signals once more that telecom immunity is more important to them than keeping Americans safe.

Silence is golden.  A 60-year-old librarian is removed from outside a McCain event for trespassing.  Her crime?  Holding a sign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER:  You have two choices, you can keep your sign here and retain the ticket for trespass, or you can remove the sign and stay in line and attend this town hall meeting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Gee, I wonder where she got the idea that McCain equals Bush.

And, meet the Obamas.  The first campaign trail interview that includes the girls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIA MENOUNOS, ACCESS HOLLYWOOD:  What have you guys thought about the possibility of living in the White House some day?

SASHA OBAMA, SEN. OBAMA‘S DAUGHTER:  It would be very cool.

MALIA OBAMA, SEN. OBAMA‘S DAUGHTER:  I think my most excitement about it is that I get to redecorate my room.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN. 

(on camera):  Good evening.  I‘m Rachel Maddow in for Keith Olbermann.  This is Tuesday, July 8th, 119 days until the 2008 presidential election.

Even though Senator Obama has not changed his position on when and under what circumstances our troops could come home from Iraq, Senator McCain won the first round of the spin war on that issue, convincing most of the media, for most of a long weekend news cycle, that Obama had flip-flopped on Iraq.

But in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Round two is about to get a lot trickier for the presumptive Republican nominee.  McCain said four years ago, quote, “It‘s obvious that we would have to leave Iraq if the Iraqi government asked us to do so.”  Well, asking us to do so is exactly what the Iraqi government has now done—an Iraq flip-flop in the making, for the man who would be president.

Yesterday, as we reported, the Iraqi prime minister said the U.S.  should either agree to pull out of Iraq or agree to a timetable for pulling out.

The Bush administration‘s public response to Maliki?  He said, what about who now?  I‘m paraphrasing that.  The State Department spokesman suggested that Maliki might merely have been misquoted or mistranslated.  Wishful thinking, as it turns out.

Iraq‘s national security adviser today reiterated Maliki‘s point, quote, “We will not accept any memorandum of understanding that doesn‘t have specific dates to withdraw foreign forces from Iraq,” end quote.  That seems clearer.

So now do we get to leave?

According to 2004 John McCain, we do.  Back in April of that year, at the Council on Foreign Relations, McCain was asked the then-hypothetical question of what the U.S. should do if a sovereign Iraqi government asked us to leave, even if we were unhappy about the security situation there. 

McCain answered -

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, APRIL 22, 2004)

MCCAIN:  It‘s obvious that we would have to leave because—if it was an elected government of Iraq, and we‘ve been asked to leave other places in the world.  If it were an extremist government, then I think we would have other challenges, but I don‘t see how we could stay when our whole emphasis and policies are based on turning the Iraqi government over to the Iraqi people.

PETER G. PETERSON, CHAIRMA, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS:  A second

and final question from me.  As you know -

MCCAIN:  If we do it right, that‘s not going to happen, but we will be there militarily for a long, long, long, time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  A long, long, long time.

This morning here on MSNBC, Senator McCain was asked about Prime Minister Maliki‘s demand that the U.S., at least, make plans to go home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MORNING JOE)

MCCAIN:  The Iraqis have made it very clear including meetings I had with the president and foreign minister of Iraq that it‘s based on conditions on the ground.  That‘s what I‘ve always said.  I‘ve always said we‘ll come home with honor and with victory and not through a set timetable.

The same media outlets, by the way, were saying two weeks ago that Maliki said there would be no Status of Forces Agreement.  But he is a politician; he is a leader of a country that‘s finally coming together.  There is no reason to assume that the Iraqis aren‘t going to act in what they perceive as their national interests.

I believe we‘ll act in ours.  And I believe we‘ll come home.  We‘ll withdraw, but the fragile victory—the victory that we have achieved so far is fragile, and has to be dictated by events and the situation on the ground.  Al Qaeda‘s back on their heels.  They‘re not defeated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  So, to sum up—we have to fight the terrorists there so we don‘t have to fight them here.  The Iraqi prime minister is just a politician who might yet come to his senses.  And it‘s the media‘s fault for reporting what Mr. Al Maliki has said previously.

Senator Obama today voiced his frustration with the notion that he, not his opponent, has been flip-flopping on Iraq.  He said, quote, “The people who say this apparently haven‘t been listening to me,” end quote.

For anyone who still believes the falsehood that Senator Obama has changed his position on Iraq, this next sound byte, we believe, is addressed directly to you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  So when I hear John McCain saying, “We can‘t surrender, we can‘t wave the white flag,” nobody‘s talking about surrender.  We‘re talking about common sense.  We cannot be there forever.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  We can‘t be there for 50 years.  We can‘t afford it.  Our military families can‘t bear that burden.  We‘ve got to get more troops into Afghanistan.  I am going to bring this war to an end.

So, don‘t be confused.  I will bring the Iraq war to a close when I‘m president of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Lots to get to tonight with MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman, also the senior Washington correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.

Thanks for joining us, Howard.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hi, Rachel.

MADDOW:  The McCain campaign says Senator Obama flip-flopped on Iraq - even though that isn‘t true—and that allegation drives the news cycle for an entire holiday weekend.  Then McCain himself gets caught in an actual reversal of his Iraq position and barely a blip anywhere, at least not yet.  What do you think is going on here?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think, the second blip is going to grow.  But as to the first, I think a couple things.  First of all, Rachel, from talking to some of Obama‘s people—they recognize that the focus is on him, in a way, he is the front-runner.  He is the top dog now in a way.  And everything he does and says gets very close scrutiny.

Number two, I think, the media was primed, Rachel, for other signs, so to speak, of changes of course by Obama, after a change on public financing and his controversy over supporting the FISA bill and so on.  So they jumped on it.  And they took that one word “refine” where he said he might refine, may possibly refine his tactics.  And blew it up into a big thing that required Obama then to hold a second news conference, and paradoxically, I think, holding the second news conference seemed to somehow confirm the interpretations of the first.

I think he‘s righted himself on this one pretty much now, though, especially with those kind of clips like the one you just played.

MADDOW:  It has been interesting to watch the Obama campaign talk more and more about Afghanistan and even Pakistan, while the McCain campaign has tried to keep the focus on Iraq.  I mean, they want to keep the focus on national security generally, but specifically on Iraq.  Do you think that on the substance here—the Iraqi government wanting a timetable for withdrawal now—does that upend the presidential politics here?

FINEMAN:  (AUDIO BREAK) problem for John (AUDIO BREAK) you played the clip of his previous remarks.  Also in a way, the more he argues that the surge has worked, has the paradoxical effect of, in a way, proving Barack Obama‘s point, which is time to wind things down, especially now that the Maliki government is saying, “Hey, we want a timetable, too.”

So, if the Maliki government wants a timetable and wants American troops out, for the most part, if that‘s what Obama is proposing, then where does that leave John McCain, especially if things are getting more serious in Afghanistan?  That‘s the big problem in Pakistan that most planners and most military officials are worried about now.

MADDOW:  Howard, you said that you think that Obama is sort of beating maybe the flip-flop allegation, that he‘s gotten out ahead of the allegation that he has been back-and-forth in his position on Iraq.  To the extent that the McCain campaign is able to keep this alive, to the extent they‘re able to keep going back to this narrative, and the media still looks for more facts to try to cram into this story that Obama is moving right, that he‘s changing his positions.

How should Obama combat that?  I mean, he can paint “I haven‘t flip-flopped” on the side of his bus, but McCain‘s campaign has been playing the media better.  They have successfully sold this idea so far.  How should Obama combat it?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think, one thing he‘s got to do is make himself a little more accessible.  I know that he does do press surveys, but I think he is a very good explainer; nobody makes his case better for himself than he does, in my view.

And, I think, now that he‘s sort of gotten his house pretty much in order for the fall campaign, which is what I think they‘re doing right now in advance—to try to do all of this stuff before the focus really comes in the fall—he just needs to get out there and keep explaining and keep hoping that he doesn‘t feed the media beast anymore on this storyline.  And I think it‘s quite possible that he won‘t after this.

MADDOW:  Howard Fineman of MSNBC and “Newsweek,” many thanks for joining us.

FINEMAN:  Thank you very much, Rachel.

MADDOW:  The 2008 ad wars are heating up with what is officially the first response ad of the general election.  Last night, we told but the new RNC ad that attacks Senator Obama on the issue of energy—because Republicans have, you know, been so good for the country on energy these last eight years.  Have you filled up at the pump lately?  Do you miss your first born?

Well, tonight, Obama is counterpunching with an ad of his own.  It‘s airing in the same four battleground states as the GOP‘s had.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)

ANNOUNCER:  On gas prices, John McCain is part of the problem.  McCain and Bush support a drilling plan that won‘t produce a drop of oil for seven years.  McCain will give more tax breaks to big oil.  He‘s voted with Bush 95 percent of the time.

Barack Obama will make energy independence an urgent priority, raise mileage standards, fast track technology for alternative fuels, $1,000 tax cut to help families as we break the grip of foreign oil—a real plan and new energy.

OBAMA:  I‘m Barack Obama and I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  But by the time that ad began airing this morning, there was already another ad probably deserving of an Obama campaign response.  The new attack ad highlights Senator McCain‘s Vietnam service record.  But remember, he never wants to talk about that.  Isn‘t that funny how often it comes up then in the ads created by his own campaign?

The new ad also borrows from the Clinton‘s campaign unsuccessful strategy of framing Obama as nothing more than a candidate who offers the dreaded hope.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR:  John McCain doesn‘t always tell us what we hope to hear.  Beautiful words cannot make your lives better, but a man who has always put his country and her people before self, before politics, can.  Don‘t hope for a better life, vote for one—McCain.

MCCAIN:  I‘m John McCain and I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Let‘s bring in NBC‘s political director, Chuck Todd.

Hi, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Rachel, hello.

MADDOW:  By the time the campaign released the first official response ad of the general election, we‘ve got another one that probably deserves another response.  What do you make of the timing here?  Do you think that McCain is sort of ahead of the game?

TODD:  I think it‘s not an accident that this ad comes out just after he‘s retooled his campaign a little bit, seems to have a little more message discipline.  But it is also an acknowledgment of this fact—and I think the McCain campaign is very comfortable running a campaign like this that this is going to be a referendum on Obama.

And this ad, very much a biographical ad, but yet also tries to create the contrast with Obama.  It talks about this idea that, you know what—people talk about hope and change and flower, children and you see the ‘60s era photos.

That‘s sort of how they want to paint Obama here, that you know what -this guy‘s living in the clouds.  This is, you know, he‘s not very practical.  The idea may sound good, but when you get down to brass tacks, John McCain is your guy.  And I think that they know, their only way to winning this thing is making this about an Obama referendum.

MADDOW:  Do you think that Obama, because of the financing issue is at somewhat of a disadvantage?  Because, proportionately speaking, more of his ads are probably going to come out as official Obama campaign ads.  On the Republican side, there‘s going to be much more of a mix and a smaller portion will be from the campaign.

TODD:  It‘s a very smart point.  Obama, while there‘s more independent money on the Democratic side right now, if you count the move on money, McCain is going to rely more on 527 and independent expenditure ads.  The RNC ad is technically an expenditure ad.  So, and practically right now.

And there‘s one other point on the funding front, you know, Obama made this decision to get out of the federal system.  Well, he is not going to be able to use any of this general election money until the day he gets his nomination.  He might have a minor cash flow issue for the next six weeks.

Look, he‘s going to have $150 million to $200 million for the last 60 days.  But he‘s got a small little cash flow problem.  I think they‘re a little nervous about that.  That‘s why he‘s coming to New York City to go raise some money.  That‘s why he‘s looking for big donors, because he‘s running out of primary donors.

MADDOW:  It‘s almost impossible to think about the Obama campaign having a cash flow problem giving what -

TODD:  The timing, though, just when it is and when you‘re allowed to use the money and when you‘re allowed not to.

MADDOW:  Right.  Well, when I watch that McCain ad that we just played, the punchline to me is—John McCain, don‘t hope.  I mean, I know that‘s not what they wanted to have isolated there, but, I mean, I‘m hearing echoes of what we heard from Senator Clinton, which of course did not work, which is hope is a bad thing in a politician, hope is a bad thing in a candidate.

TODD:  Well, look, the McCain people studied what Clinton did very carefully and see what didn‘t work and did work.  And, I think, they have come to the conclusion on some of these things, including hitting him on the words and the speeches, “Hey, he may sound good, he may be a good politician, but, come on, there‘s got to be a practicality that comes with it.”

And, I think, that they believe Clinton just never sold herself as a good enough alternative.  And McCain, they think they can sell him as America‘s safety net, the comfortable shoe - “Look, it may not be the exciting shoe, it may not be the one you want to wear on a date or wear to the ball, but it‘s certainly going to be the one that you want to wear when you‘ve got to walk a couple of miles.”

And I think that they think—if they can present themselves as that and present Obama as just too risky, too uncomfortable—but that‘s what I think this first ad does.  It tells you that this new retooled campaign, they realize this election is about Obama.  It‘s a referendum on him, not on McCain.

MADDOW:  On the subject matter of this ad, of this McCain ad, part of the politics around McCain‘s, you know, unchallenged heroism as a POW in Vietnam, is that he is reluctant to talk about it, that it‘s sort of off-limits as a political issue, that he doesn‘t ever want to raise it.  But we have all seen a lot of ads now, not just this year, but in previous campaigns from McCain that are deliberately and overtly highlighting that part of his service.

Is it time to drop the pretense that this is supposed to be off-limits part of politics about John McCain?

TODD:  Well, that‘s interesting.  Probably it is.  But, you know, I‘ve noticed with all military veterans when they run, we saw it with John Kerry, we saw it with Bob Dole, look the consultants come in and say, “You have an incredible biography.  Let‘s tell that story.”

And, you know, a campaign consultant says, “I want to tell that story.  You‘ve got photos of you, oh, my God, in uniform.”  You know, John McCain in that uniform, he looks terrific.  He looks like a hero.

You know, and so, a campaign consultant wants to tell this story.  I do think you actually, when you talk to these guys, these veterans, and it hasn‘t matter, they don‘t like to use it.  They do feel uncomfortable.  So, I think, this is a case where his advisers are basically saying, “Stop this, we‘re going to use it.”  So, you better get used to it.

MADDOW:  I think that the trade-off is, if you say yes, we can use it, you can then no longer get points for saying I‘m reluctant to use it.

TODD:  Which is what the Bush campaign did to John Kerry in ‘04, it‘s like, if you want to use it, fine, we‘re going to use it, too.

MADDOW:  Yes.  Chuck Todd, NBC‘s political director, thanks for coming in.

TODD:  You got it, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Great to see you.

On the eve of the big FISA vote, the Bush administration once clarifies that if they‘re given the choice of protecting the telecom biz or protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism, they‘ll take the telecoms, thanks very much.  Adding insult to injury, how your war on terror tax dollars are actually helping the people we thought we were fighting.

And to campaign trail first—the Obama family interview.  The actual Obama girls talk to “Access Hollywood” about it‘s like to have a dad running for president.

This is COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Coming up, putting the telecom companies ahead of the American people, the Bush administration at it again.

A 60-year-old librarian ordered to leave public property outside a McCain event all because of the sign she was holding.  These guys should know better by now than to mess with librarians.

And: “Access Hollywood‘s” exclusive interview with the Obama family, ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Now, I‘m not privy to, nor do I ever want to be privy to, the wildest dreams of George W. Bush.  But I‘m still willing to bet that three years ago, when we learned he was spying on Americans illegally, I‘m betting that his wildest dreams did not include the prospect that Congress, a Democratic-led Congress would help him cover up his crimes.

Today, in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: That is exactly what the U.S. Senate is poised to do tomorrow.  In the Senate today, Democrats put forward three amendments to the FISA bill, a bill that would not only succumb to Mr. Bush‘s desire for greater legalized wiretapping, it would also block civil lawsuits against the telecoms, perhaps the best chance we will ever have to find out the extend of our own government‘s spying, illegal spying on us.

The bill would give telecoms immunity for any illegal wiretapping they did for the Bush administration, as long as that illegal wiretapping was authorized by the Bush administration.  It‘s like letting a get-away car driver off the hook because the bank robber told him that robbing banks was legal.

Today, a handful of Democrats pointed out how the bill gives the one-fingered salute to the rule of law.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PAT LEAHY, (D) VERMONT:  I‘m not out to get the telephone companies.  I just want us to know who it was in the administration that said, “Go break the law.”  The American people ought to know who in the White House said, “Go break the law.”  Who it was that made the decision that somehow this president stands above the law.

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD, (D) WISCONSIN:  And on top of all this, we‘re considering granting immunity when roughly 70 members of the Senate, still have not been briefed on the president‘s wiretapping program.  The vast majority of this body still does not even know what we‘re being asked to grant immunity for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Despite claiming the bill‘s wiretapping powers are essential to the nation‘s safety, President Bush yesterday threatened to veto the bill if Feingold and Leahy succeed in removing immunity for the telecoms.

At the recommendation of Attorney General Michael Mukasey and others, Mr. Bush even said he will veto the bill if it includes a provision that would merely delay immunity and freeze the telecom lawsuits until after Congress had the opportunity to learn what actions by the telecoms and the government they would be immunizing.

The vote on the bill, complete with immunity, is set for tomorrow.  Most observers say that Leahy, Feingold and other Democratic holdouts don‘t have a chance. Let‘s bring in Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University.

Professor Turley, thanks for your time tonight.

JONATHAN TURLEY, PROF. OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW:  Hi, Rachel.

MADDOW:  First, refresh us on the perils of this immunity issue.  What do you think of the arguments for granting these companies retroactive immunity?

TURLEY:  Well, the arguments, unfortunately, are all but too clear.  You know, there was a recent judgment just a few days ago in the Al Harriman (ph) case, where the federal judge said, “Obviously, the president committed an illegal act.”  That illegal act is defined as a felony, a crime under federal law.

So, what the Democrats are doing here with the White House is they‘re trying to conceal a crime that is hiding in plain view, that everyone can see it.  And so, the argument for it is quite sill simple, nobody wants to have a confrontation over the fact that the president committed a felony, not once, but at least 30 times.  That‘s a very inconvenient fact right now in Washington.

MADDOW:  Jonathan, one option for this bill could have been to do something very small and very simple—just making it clear that the government doesn‘t have to get a warrant for foreign-to-foreign communications that happen to pass through the U.S. technologically.  That would fix the technological problems and update FISA when they say it needs updating.

But this bill, instead of taking a small scale approach like that, it takes a very large scale approach and expands the president‘s powers to wiretap us, to wiretap Americans without a warrant.  At least that‘s how I understand it.  Do I have that right?

TURLEY:  Well, you have it right.  I think that the founders would have found this incomprehensible.  The expanse of power to the point of including what is now defined as a federal crime.  And not only that, but the Democrats have learned well from Bush.

Because the telecoms are losing in court, because the administration is losing in court, they‘re just going to change the rules, so that these public interest organizations that have brought these cases will all lose by a vote to fiat by the Democrats.  It‘s otherworldly.

MADDOW:  Senator Obama says he does not like this bill, but he says he‘s supporting it as a compromise.  Is this a compromise?  Is that the right term for it?  Is he right?

TURLEY:  Yes.  I got to tell you, I am completely astonished by Senator Obama‘s position and obviously disappointed.  You know, all of these senators need to respect us enough, not to call it a compromise.  It‘s a cave-in.

I mean, if it was a compromise, why aren‘t civil libertarians supporting it?  Because we don‘t like to receive a good deal?  Civil libertarians are opposed to this.

And, you know what‘s terrible is like one of those stories where someone is assaulted on a street and a hundred witnesses do nothing.  And in this case, the Fourth Amendment is going to be eviscerated tomorrow.  And 100 people are going to watch it happen because it‘s just not their problem.

And, you know, the only reason it didn‘t happen today was it was delayed for a funeral.  That‘s how much these people put into the Fourth Amendment.

But you talk about expanding the president‘s power, it‘s coming out of the marrow of the Fourth Amendment.  It‘s coming out of the bone.  And it‘s going to hurt.  And it‘s being done for political convenience.  There‘s not an ounce of principle, not an ounce of public interest in this legislation.

So, at least show us respect of not calling it a compromise.

MADDOW:  One last question for you.  The man in whose chair I am sitting, as well as John Dean have put forth the idea that Senator Obama should pledge to criminally investigate the telecoms and the administration, even if the companies get civil immunity in this bill when it passes tomorrow.  Could that happen?

TURLEY:  It could happen, but I doubt it will happen.  And the fact is that the fix is in.

Tomorrow night, there‘s going to be a lot of celebrating among telecom lobbyists that have just poured money into this campaign.  And they‘re going to have a great victory, but it‘s a Pyrrhic victory for the rest of us.  And what we will lose tomorrow is something very precious.  It‘s going to be part of the Fourth Amendment and that is beyond measure.

MADDOW:  It‘s just gut wrenching, honestly.  It‘s gut wrenching.

Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, thank you.

TURLEY:  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  The silence of the librarians?  Find out why this woman and her sign were shown the door at a McCain town hall meeting in Denver.

And we‘re going to tempt your tummy with the taste of cow waste and honey.  Bumblebees rejoice.  Oddball is ahead.

But first, the headlines breaking in the administration‘s 50 running scandals—Bushed.

Number three: G8-gate.  At the Group of Eight Summit, the U.S.  background material for the media including a bio of Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, that referred to him as one of the most controversial leaders of a country known for corrupt governments.  The bio said that Berlusconi itself had been accused of corruption.

Today, the White House apologized.  But, wait, there‘s more.  Everything in the bio was factual, straight from the encyclopedia of world biography.  But the White House didn‘t just apologized for giving reporters factually correct material, they also said that the, quote, “sentiments of the bio,” you know, things like the facts that Berlusconi has been accused of corruption, it said, “Those things do not represent the views of President Bush or of us the American people.”

At least now they‘re admitting he doesn‘t believe in facts.  I think they should stay away from saying the same thing about us.

Number two: Blowing smoke-gate.  Last October, White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, rejected claims that the White House eviscerated prepared congressional testimony by the Centers for Disease Control about the harmful effects of global warming on human health.  Why is that an important political issue?  Well, the Supreme Court has ruled that if carbon dioxide poses a health danger, it has to be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

Now, we know who in the White House decided to put carbon dioxide before humans.  Surprise—Dick Cheney.  In a letter obtained by the “AP,” the former senior EPA adviser on climate change says Cheney‘s office was involved in killing nearly half the original CDC testimony so the CDC‘s health findings would not oblige the government to crackdown on carbon emissions.

And number one: Scare us but don‘t protect us-gate.  The deadliest bombing in Kabul since the fall of the Taliban killed 41 people yesterday.  Today, the Afghan interior ministry implied that the bombing was carried out with the help of Pakistan‘s intelligence agency.  The Pakistanis are already being blamed for an April assassination attempt on Afghanistan‘s president and a prison break that freed hundreds of Taliban fighters last month.  The Afghan government is even threatening to send its troops over the border into Pakistan to fight the Taliban there. 

Why are the Taliban in Pakistan?  Because our great ally, Pakistan, has signed a series of cease-fire agreements with militant groups, effectively creating a safe haven there for the Taliban as well as al Qaeda.  In other words, the Pakistanis are supporting the Taliban and the guys who attacked us on 9/11, just like they were before 9/11.  Only now, thanks to the Bush administration, they‘re doing it with the help of billions in American aid.  Your war on terror tax dollars at work. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  On this date in 1942, former U.S. Senator and current controversial McCain economic adviser Phil Gramm was born in Ft. Benning, Georgia.  Also on this date in Philadelphia in 1958, actor and musician Kevin Bacon was born.  I can connect them in three steps.  Birthday boy Phil Gramm was in the Senate with actor Fred Thompson.  Fred Thompson was in “Days of Thunder” with Tom Cruise.  Tom Cruise starred in “A Few Good Men” with birthday boy Kevin Bacon.  Tah-dah.  Let‘s play Oddball.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  To the skies above Star City, Russia, where we find British artist Nasser Azam (ph) painting a picture in one of those vomit comets.  Azam led a team of five artists painting inside a Russian transport plane that achieved weightlessness by ascending to 23,000 feet and then plunging towards the ground.  It was Azam‘s goal to paint a picture in zero gravity.  Looking at the work, we now know scientifically that gravity is apparently important in painting, it turns out. 

Actually, Azam was able to complete two pieces.  And they‘re not bad. 

If you squint real hard, you can even make out a sailboat, I think. 

To northern India, where scientists say they‘ve discovered a new tool to fight disease in honeybees.  Am I allowed to say the phrase cow urine on television?  We‘re not sure how scientists came up with the idea of treating a bee malady with this particular magical bovine elixir.  Maybe one day a cow mistook a hive for a fire hydrant or something.  We do know that after a bath in the bovine liquid gold, the egg count in the hive goes up and more healthy bees are produced.  This is promising news for those worried about declining bee population, and for any really original fetishists out there, who may be hoarding stockpiles of cow pee. 

Finally, to the G-8 summit in Japan, where President Bush has been getting a last glimpse into the souls of fellow world leaders.  Among this week‘s hob-nobbing heads of state was Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who President Bush really wanted to introduce to the president of Nigeria. 

Yes, that‘s our dear leader rubbing his nose as he says, yo, Harper. 

President of Nigeria.  To be fair, this is not new language for Mr Bush.  He‘s has summoned Tony Blair with yo, Blair at a past G-8 summit.  And of course every time he rounds the bases in tee ball, he inexplicably yells to himself, yo, Adrian!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  First amendment challenged crowd control is well documented at George W. Bush political events.  But now the McCain campaign is taking a page from that play book, too.  A librarian has been ticketed for trespassing on public property because she was holding a sign that says McCain equals Bush.  Someone get me the irony police. 

And a campaign trail first for the Obama family.  The Obamas, along with their two young daughters, sit down to talk about life at home, life on the campaign trail, and having parents who get their picture in “People Magazine.”  The “Access Hollywood” highlights ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Freedom of speech and the right to assemble, perhaps in the eye of the overzealous beholder when it comes to John McCain‘s campaign staff.  Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, while Mr. McCain was delivering, quote, straight talk at one of his open forum town hall meetings in Denver yesterday, things were getting closed down just outside. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ma‘am, I need you to remove the sign.  I asked you twice already. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  But I‘m outside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t understand why you‘re asking her to leave. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, just because I‘ve been asked to. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘ve been asked to.  By who? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  By representatives of the Secret Service. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You been can keep your sign here and receive the ticket for trespassing, or you can remove the sign and stay in line and attend this town hall meeting. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You know, I want this—are we all listening? 

You‘re saying that I am trespassing on city property. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, he‘s saying you‘re trespassing on city property. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Am I being arrested?  Removed. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Court hearing is July 23rd

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘ve got our official escort. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  The unassuming protester is part-time librarian and former “Denver Post” reporter Carol Kreck (ph), ultimately escorted off the property by four police officers.  The 60 year old woman was given a citation and a court date.  But because librarians are trained democracy super heroes, Mr Kreck did not stay silent for long. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I believe he said that the ticket was for trespassing.  He said if I came back into the plaza, I would be arrested and taken to jail.  It says McCain equals Bush.  Now, any Republican, why is that offensive?  Why would a Republican—why would Republicans who voted for Bush find it offensive that a sign says Bush equals McCain or McCain equals Bush? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Progress Now Action tells COUNTDOWN they‘ve created a defense fund for Ms. Kreck and they‘re looking into filing a lawsuit on her behalf.  Let‘s break this down with Jim Moore, author and a contributor to “The Huffington Post.”  Jim, thanks for your time this evening. 

JAMES MOORE, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Hi, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Why don‘t we start with Miss Kreck‘s question there.  If her sign had said, I heart John McCain, would she have been so swiftly booted?  I think she kind of makes a good point.  Why would a loyal Republican be insulted at the comparison of McCain to Bush? 

MOORE:  Yes, Republican campaigns would be so much easier to run if we could just get this pesky freedom of speech thing out of the way.  And the truth is they really don‘t want to be equated with George Bush.  It‘s a bad brand to be carrying forward.  We‘re talking about Al Gore earlier today with some people.  And he obviously would have loved to have had somebody say he was extending the Clinton administration by another term, even though he did work to separate himself. 

Clearly, there were people inside of this facility, this publicly taxed paid facility, that was rented by the McCain campaign, there were people inside there who were expressing their opinions, probably wearing buttons.  Why weren‘t they escorted out?  I think this is an ugly kind of thing for the McCain campaign to have happen and for everyone to concentrate on, instead of what was going on inside of that building. 

MADDOW:  Technically, the grounds of this performing arts center in Denver are not public property.  The center is however partially financed by tax dollar. 

MOORE:  Right. 

MADDOW:  Regardless of all that, isn‘t the PR fiasco that has ensued here and that won‘t go away any time soon, don‘t you thing this fiasco is probably worse and more disruptive than anything Ms. Kreck could have done in her original infraction? 

MOORE:  If the real issue is trying to separate themselves from George W. Bush, this certainly isn‘t the way to do it.  They‘re doing a number of things that the Bush campaign has done throughout, which is try to control the crowds, try to control the message, to keep dissent at a minimum.  This is almost rebranding themselves as the Bush campaign, except the McCain version of it. 

So by doing this, whatever John McCain may have said inside of that building on that particular day, even if he were saying, you know, 10,000 dollar tax rebates for everybody, it still would have had to compete with the news of taking a 60-year-old woman and a couple of policemen a couple of feet taller than her, taking her out of the facility and giving her a ticket for trespassing on something that is at least partially paid for by taxpayers.  It‘s very ugly. 

MADDOW:  Jim, David Corn, who writes for “Mother Jones,” a progressive magazine, says he suspects that McCain campaign aides are now screening media conference calls.  He writes today that on more than one occasion, he‘s been ignored or cut off on those calls.  Of course, there‘s McCain aid Mark Salter, who admitted about the new McCain campaign plane that members of the press have to earn a seat on that plane.  In addition to this town hall meeting event now in Denver, are you seeing a pattern here that is a real break with the McCain of the past? 

MOORE:  I don‘t know if it‘s as much of a break with the McCain of the past.  It‘s certainly a break from the perception of the McCain of the past.  But the straight talk express becomes the suck up express now.  They might as well go ahead and do some hand tooling on the leather on those seats in the front of the airplane, and maybe have them emblazon the Fox News logo on them.  What self-respecting reporter is going to want to go sit in those chairs and say, I‘m a good guy; I‘ve earned my way up here to the front of the airplane.  It‘s absurd. 

They‘re basically saying to journalists around the country that if you write nice stuff about us, we‘re going to give you access and we‘ll treat you well.  What it does say about the McCain campaign is they are sophisticated enough to know that reporters are under some very undue pressures to show access on these campaigns, and the McCain people are trying to utilize that to their benefit. 

MADDOW:  James Moore, contributor to the Huffington Post, thanks for your time tonight. 

MOORE:  My pleasure, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Can you really be the candidate of change if you‘re wearing 10-year-old pants?  Find out in “Access Hollywood‘s” exclusive full family sit down with the entire Obama clan. 

The kids tell me it‘s like “Welcome Back Cotter” but with more singing.  Breaking “High School Musical” news ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  School is finally out for the “High School Musical” crowd.  In our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, Keeping Tabs, shooting has now wrapped on third installment of “High School Musical.”  A possible fourth edition will not include the six main actors that fans know and love.  I can‘t honestly say I have seen a moment of it. 

Now we have fixed that.  There it is, a moment.  The TV sensation will officially become a feature film with the debut of “High School Musical Three, Senior Year” on October 24th.  As that title hints, the core group of kids, including the character played by Zack Efron, will be graduating, as in never to return to another gym class or another sequel, unless in some twist we don‘t know about, it was all just a dream.  They all flunk out and have to return to finish their senior year, older, bitter and with a propensity for a lot of R-rated swearing.  Probably not. 

And there has now been one full day‘s worth of speculation as to why actress Nicole Kidman named her new born daughter Sunday.  Kidman and her husband country singer Keith Urban welcomed little Sunday Rose into the world yesterday, Monday.  So it wasn‘t a day of the week thing.  But a source tells MSNBC‘s “The Scoop” that the name comes from an Urban song titled “Sunday.”  And it might also be Ms. Kidman‘s final jab at Scientology.  According to another source, since the actress is a Catholic and Sunday is an important religious day, pointing that out some how irks Scientologists.  Take that, Tom Cruise. 

And Matthew McConaughey‘s girlfriend, Camilla Elvis (ph), gave birth to their son last night.  Congratulations to them.  When he first reported the pregnancy on his website, he said, quote, we are stoked and wowed.  So, triple that now, dude.  “OK! Magazine” claims to exclusively know the little one‘s name.  It‘s Levi.  The happy mother was reportedly not interested in the kind of moniker that McConaughey‘s brother chose for his second son, that would be the name Miller Light.  Not kidding. 

Barack Obama‘s daughters dish a little on what their dad does that drives them crazy, and what they do to get under mom and dad‘s skin.  The “Access Hollywood” exclusive interview ahead here on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  If Senator Barack Obama is elected president of the United States, he will join the ranks of President George W. Bush and the late President Richard M. Nixon in the pantheon of recent commanders in chief who have two daughters.  Let us hope any comparison ends there.  In our number one story in the COUNTDOWN, the Obama‘s two little girls tell all.  Ten-year-old Malia and seven-year-old Sasha take a decidedly no big deal attitude about their dad running for president.  The kids have something to look forward to, win or lose.  Malia is impressed by her mother‘s appearance in “People Magazine.” 

The family‘s exclusive interview with Maria Menounos of “Access Hollywood.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MALIA OBAMA, DAUGHTER OF SEN. BARACK OBAMA:  I read “People Magazine” and everything.  They always have those sections with how much does it cost.  I saw it and I‘m like, mom, you‘re in this.  Because I‘ve never seen mommy in that. 

MARIA MENOUNOS, “ACCESS HOLLYWOOD”:  It is cool? 

MA. OBAMA:  It is pretty cool.  Because I usually see people like Angelina Jolie. 

MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF SEN. BARACK OBAMA:  Real important people. 

MA. OBAMA:  Real important people.  No offense. 

SASHA OBAMA, DAUGHTER OF SEN. BARACK OBAMA:  Mommy is important!

MENOUNOS:  What does mommy and daddy think of their new fashion status? 

MI. OBAMA:  I‘ve always loved clothes.  He knows that.  I think it‘s funny that he‘s involved in this fashion icon stuff, because these pants he‘s had probably for about ten years. 

MA. OBAMA:  That belt.

MENOUNOS:  The belt‘s a little worn, too, now that I look at it. 

MI. OBAMA:  Don‘t pan down to the shoes, because we talked about getting new shoes for him. 

MENOUNOS:  Senator, I don‘t know.  I think they got you here.  I don‘t want to jump on the bandwagon or anything. 

MI. OBAMA:  Just don‘t look too closely. 

OBAMA:  I‘m baffled by this whole thing myself because I hate to shop.  Malia is much better at talking on the phone than Sasha.  Sasha gets bored with talking to me.  Bye, love you. 

MA. OBAMA:  Love you.

OBAMA:  Love you, see you.

MA. OBAMA:  Sometimes when I‘m sitting next to Sasha and she‘s talking, sometimes I kind of feel bad for you. 

OBAMA:  Do you? 

MA. OBAMA:  I‘m like, come on, Sash.  He hasn‘t seen you in like three days.  And she‘s like bye.  I‘ll usually try to have a conversation. 

OBAMA:  You make an effort. 

MENOUNOS:  What could you guys do that mommy and daddy would get really mad at? 

S. OBAMA:  Whining. 

MA. OBAMA:  Whining.

MENOUNOS:  Whining, yes, whining‘s bad. 

MA. OBAMA:  And arguing I think is the worst thing.  Then they sit us down and say, you guys are the best thing that you have in your life, and you know that—you know, we‘re never going to get anyone as good as each other.  I think that‘s the worst thing.  This is what you do, daddy—

OBAMA:  Uh-oh. 

MA. OBAMA:  It‘s not that bad.  But when you come home, you have your big gigantic bag and you leave it in the bedroom and sometimes I trip over it. 

MI. OBAMA:  Yes, you leave your bag with everything and it‘s heavy. 

S. OBAMA:  Leave your bag right there.

OBAMA:  That‘s right.  I‘m putting it down because—

MI. OBAMA:  It‘s right in the front door.  He‘s like, he‘s home!

That‘s a good one.  That‘s one.  I stubbed my toe on that. 

OBAMA:  Senator, do you have any—

MI. OBAMA:  Wait, wait, we‘ve got one more. 

S. OBAMA:  -- put my bag on my shoes.

MENOUNOS:  What have you guys thought about the possibility of living in the White House some day? 

S. OBAMA: Well, it would be very cool. 

MA. OBAMA:  I think my most excitement about it is that I get to redecorate my room.  I enjoy decorating. 

MI. OBAMA:  What‘s the big deal that‘s going to happen when all this is done? 

MA. OBAMA:  A dog. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  The “Access Hollywood” exclusive airs tonight, tomorrow and Thursday.  Check your local listings.  You can go to AccessHollywood.com. 

That‘s COUNTDOWN for this, the 1,896th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Rachel Maddow, in for Keith.  You can catch me every weeknight, 6:00 PM Eastern, on Air America Radio.  Have a good night.

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

END   

Content and programming copyright 2008 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2008 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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