updated 7/17/2008 1:16:04 PM ET 2008-07-17T17:16:04

Guest: Richard Wolffe, Rachel Maddow, Jonathan Turley

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

Through the looking glass.  McCain‘s foreign policy mouthpiece says it‘s not McCain who resembles Bush on Iraq; it‘s Obama in his “inflexibility and stubbornness in national security policy.”

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RANDY SCHEUNEMANN, MCCAIN FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER:  We cannot afford to replace one administration that refused for too long to acknowledge failure in Iraq with a candidate that refuses to acknowledge success in Iraq.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  No, Mr. Scheunemann does not seem to be tripping on acid.  Why do you ask?

Commander-in-chief, not “commander in name” only.  Obama insists he will not buck-pass to the generals, he will actually decide.  He would never have decided to invade a nation to thwart terrorists who are nation-less.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The danger, though, is that we‘re constantly fighting the last war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Obstruction of justice.  The president invokes executive privilege to keep the vice president‘s Justice Department interviews about Valerie Plame away from the House investigation.  There will not be impeachment, but there will be two Senate hearings on Bush‘s abusive power.

Jibjab is back.

Worst is back.  Elizabeth Dole wants to name an AIDS funding bill in memory of Jesse Helms who believes gay people deserved the disease.

And a Republican actually puts up this billboard using the World Trade Center in flames in Florida.

And while I was out -

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW COALITION:  See, Barack, um, been talking down to black people on this faith based.  I wan to cut his (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  You do realize that FOX running that tape was the journalistic equivalent of eavesdropping and Bill-O still leaking more portions of it.

All that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX HOST:  I don‘t know what that means.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN (on camera):  Good evening.  This is Wednesday, July 16th, 111 days until the 2008 presidential election.

How low can the “low information” voter go?  If you‘re John McCain, you continue to wage they are lower than a box of rocks.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN tonight: A McCain surrogate‘s remarkable claim that his man isn‘t to the new President Bush, Senator Obama is.  Why?  Because the Democrat in the race wants to leave Iraq, the quote is, “We cannot afford to replace one administration that refused for too long to acknowledge failure in Iraq with a candidate that refuses to acknowledge success in Iraq.”

If you guessed only a neocon ex-Rumsfeld Iraq adviser could actually say that without going into convulsive laughter, or you‘re right, the speaker is Randy Scheunemann.  Pay no attention to the substance of what this man and his minions were actually saying about Iraq and Afghanistan, if he says he knows how to win wars as he did yesterday, then it must true even if he can‘t define what winning a war means.

His opponent, meanwhile, back in Indiana today, for the first time since the primary there, holding a summit to address at length the threats facing this country, specifically—how fighting on the wrong front and failing to anticipate new threats does not amount to an adequate defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  The danger, though, is that we‘re constantly fighting the last war—responding to the threats that have come to fruition instead of staying one step ahead of the threats of the 21st century.  This is what the 9/11 Commission called our “failure of imagination.”  And after 9/11, no where was this more apparent than in our invasion in Iraq.

Instead of adjusting to the stateless threats of the 21st century, we invaded and occupied a state that had no collaborative relationship with al Qaeda.  Instead of taking aggressive steps to secure the world‘s most dangerous weapons and technology, we spent almost $1 trillion to occupy a country in the heart of the Middle East that no longer has any weapons of mass destruction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  You know what else Senator Obama believes falls under the job description of protecting this country—not hiding behind the generals charged with carrying out a president‘s orders when he is commander-in-chief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  General Petraeus has done a terrific job with the cards that have been dealt to him.  But—and I think this is the difference between myself and George Bush, and it‘s a difference between myself and John McCain.

My job as commander-in-chief is to set the mission.  It is to determine the strategy and then to ask our military to carry it out.  Now, how I set that strategy is going to be informed by what capabilities we have, what information is on the ground.  But, ultimately, the buck stops with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  At his town hall in Albuquerque, Senator McCain apparently also believing that the buck stops exactly the same place with Senator Obama, seeing how he took his opponent‘s call for additional U.S. forces to be sent to Afghanistan and co-opted it as his own.

Of course, by the time he was back on his campaign bus chatting with reporters, McCain was already wavering on whether those additional forces should be Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We need to work that out.  We need to have greater participation on the part of our NATO allies as I said in my opening remarks today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  You did, senator?  Because, it sounded as if what you actually said was that extra NATO forces were already in Afghanistan and that those additional brigades would all be Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  Our commanders on the ground in Afghanistan say that they need at least three additional brigades.  Thanks to the success of the surge, these forces are becoming available and our commanders in Afghanistan must get them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Thus, let us rejoin Senator McCain‘s uncomfortable campaign bus news conference already in progress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  Those are three additional brigades, not necessarily three additional American brigades?

MCCAIN:  I think we—as I said, I think we need to work with our allies to get increase materiel, command structure reform, assistance in the form of personnel—more of this civil military kind of work that, again, that we did—what we are doing in Iraq where we‘re storing, we‘re storing goods and services to the people.  There are many areas where our NATO allies can help us, that‘s one of them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Don‘t forget, additional pothole repairs.

But the flip-flopping which is actually flip-flop flipping candidate, still doing better on the question of who would be the more effective commander-in-chief.  According to the latest “New York Times”/CBS News Poll only 24 percent believing Obama very likely to be effective compared to 46 percent—that‘s is the top line going left to right—the candidates nearly even on somewhat, 38 to 36; 36 percent, though, saying it is not likely that Senator Obama would be effective.

Time now to call in our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.  Richard, good evening.

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

OLBERMANN:  What does McCain want in Afghanistan?  I have no literal clue after hearing all those sound bytes?

WOLFFE:  Well, what he wants to do, first of all, is play catch-up in Afghanistan.  He wants to play catch-up with an opponent who‘s been talking about Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan for many, many months now.  And I think, I suspect that his roll-out of his three brigade policy was rushed because of Obama‘s “New York Times” op-ed and that quote he heard on the bus, “We‘ll work that out,” is a giveaway.

He can‘t work out before hand where the troops are going to come from; he probably shouldn‘t announce it in the first place.  And he does speak to the bigger problem.  I mean, you know, you can talk about what‘s happened in Iraq, but, of course, Iraq and Afghanistan are two very different countries and that should be obvious by now.

OLBERMANN:  President Bush, meantime, has spent a long time telling us that he listens to the generals on the ground and that has become kind of the default position in a nation that half a century ago repudiated that entire idea with Douglas MacArthur.  It‘s not the generals on the ground, it‘s the commander-in-chief and the generals on the ground do what he tells him to do.

But how does Obama campaign against a position that Bush truly has sold pretty well as the real right way to do things?

WOLFFE:  Well, I think there are a couple things.  First of all, the idea that the president has been listening to the generals and they been shaping the policy, it‘s something of a fiction.  When the generals disagree with him before the war, they got pushed out.  That was the case with Eric Shinseki, when they disagreed just before the surge, they also got pushed out.  Look at what happened to John Abizaid.

And, of course, it starts from a pretty decent principle which is that the experience of Vietnam was that presidents shouldn‘t pick bombing targets.  Of course, other lessons from Vietnam were set by the roadside, things like going in with overwhelming force and having an exit strategy, the old “Powell Doctrine.”

But when you look at the bigger, sort of political issue, how does Obama deal with it—he‘s really got to try and take this back to first principals.  Who was responsible for going into the war in the first place, invading Iraq, President Bush is supported very actively and even before Bush got on board, by John McCain.  That‘s where he‘s got to shift this.  Not a debate about the surge, but about the war and the diversion from Afghanistan and al Qaeda.

OLBERMANN:  Well, and somewhat to that point, and looking in connection with the commander-in-chief numbers from the “New York Times” Poll, it‘s seven years nearly since 9/11.  It‘s five years into this panoramic disaster in Iraq, but change in American foreign policy, actual substantive—you know, we‘ve been doing this wrong, go the other way change—this seems to be the one kind of change that, from the polling, certainly, many Americans, most Americans, big majority of Americans, still don‘t feel ready for.  Why is that?

WOLFFE:  Well, what you are quoting and what people have looked at in recent days are these commander-in-chief numbers.  And, I think, a lot of that comes back to the personal life story of these candidates and, in particular, John McCain‘s personal military experience, a very honorable experience that he had in Vietnam and that‘s what‘s really feeding into these polls.

Actually, it‘s fairly remarkable that someone like Obama, so recently out of the Illinois state legislature, can even run him even on some of these numbers on the commander-in-chief situation.  When you look at, does America want to change policy on foreign policy and economic policy from President Bush—those numbers are overwhelming.  The country wants change but still on a personal level, Obama has to jump through more hoops on the commander-in-chief test.

OLBERMANN:  Is there a risk for Obama on this upcoming Mideast trip or do the poll numbers show that on these issues, he‘s got nothing to lose and everything to gain?

WOLFFE:  Oh, there are lots of risks here.  Foreign governments can play with mischief here, and with the trip, he could slip up in one way or another, everyone is going to be watching him very, very closely.  But if he can neutralize the questions on foreign policy and national security, if he can take away what was President Bush‘s big advantage in 2004, he can fight the election on the terms that are more favorable to him and that‘s the economy, that‘s what voters say is more important for them right now.

OLBERMANN:  Our own Richard Wolffe of “Newsweek,” great thanks for joining us, Richard.

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  According to Senator McCain, in Iraq, quote, “the surge has succeeded.”  A position echoed by the president, various right-wing media organizations, none of whom appears to understand the meaning of the word “surge,” nor that other term “succeeded.”

The Pentagon says the troop escalation inaugurated by President Bush 18 months ago is now officially over.  But the last of the initial five brigades leaving that country and General Petraeus set to make his next assessment on possible troop reductions come 45 days.  But the numbers of troops still in Iraq, (INAUDIBLE) not only the idea that the surge has succeeded, but also this new one, that it‘s over.  There is approximately a total of 132,000 American troops in Iraq before the surge announcement on January 2007.  By June of 2007, it was 160,000.  Right now, with the official end of the surge, it‘s still at 150,000.  That would be more than earlier.

I‘m joined now by our own Rachel Maddow, host of the “Rachel Maddow Show” on Air America Radio.  Thanks for your time, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hi, Keith.  Welcome back.

OLBERMANN:  Thank you.  You can‘t buy a day off from this show, can you?

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  If the surge is over and it was successful, why are there still 18,000 more troops in Iraq than there was before the troop escalation?  Shouldn‘t we be at January 2000 levels or, gosh, maybe even lower than that?

MADDOW:  You might remember when Bush announced in January of 2007 that all these excess troops were going to go over, there was a little bit of a linguistic refusal (ph), with some people resisting Bush‘s efforts to call this a surge, saying, instead, actually, this seems like it‘s an escalation of the war.

Bush won the linguistic battle.  It did become known as the surge.  But it turns out the people who wanted to call it an escalation were exactly right.  There are more troops there after the surge is over before than there were before the surge started.  That means that we‘ve escalated our involvement in Iraq—but with this sort of terminology and with the kinds of arguments they made about this—they did succeed politically in turning most of the last 18 months into a debate about this one tactic, this one escalation tactic rather than a debate about the overall war.

OLBERMANN:  Or a debate about the last big topic, which was, of course, these benchmarks.  The administration says the Iraqi government met 15 out of the 18 benchmarks.  They‘re supposed to be 18 out of 18, but, in fact, those are just done satisfactory in those.  They‘re not met and they are no where on internal disarmament and distribution of, internally, of oil money.  Now, how is that a success?

MADDOW:  And the overall point of the surge was to bring about, to create enough breathing room for there to be political reconciliation.  The whole point of the surge was to create a sort of temporary peace so that the Iraqi government could get its act together.

And the oil law, while that is fraught with political meaning here in the United States, what it means to Iraqis is that there will be an economy in Iraq.  That there will be a natural resource that is put on the market for the benefit of the Iraqi people and that that money will be distributed in a way that keeps Iraq from fracturing.

The fact that there isn‘t an oil law, even when we have no big contracts, or western oil countries, written by American advisors to the Iraqi oil ministry, means that there‘s no guaranteed future that Iraq will continue to exist as a single country.  There haven‘t been provincial elections; they haven‘t handed over security in all 18 of Iraq‘s provinces the way they said they were going to.

The surge may have done something.  It may have reduced violence.  There were also other things that contributed to that like the Mehdi Army cease-fire and the “Sons of Iraq” paying the Sunni militias not to fight us.

But the point of the surge was to bring about political reconciliation.  The main Sunni political bloc in Iraq still does not participate in the Iraqi government.  The Kurds walked out yesterday.  It just hasn‘t happened.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  Back to where we started tonight, this quote from Randy Scheunemann, “We cannot afford to replace one administration that refused for too long to acknowledge failure in Iraq, with a candidate that refuses to acknowledge success in Iraq.”

We‘ve seen the media softballing John McCain like Josh Hamilton‘s batting practice pitcher in the homerun derby softballed him.  But even in that context, can John McCain‘s people really get very far trying to see, and just in terms of Iraq, Obama as the third term of George Bush?

MADDOW:  This is stupefying.  It‘s like the next thing they‘re going to accuse him of is having been part of the Keating Five scandal, you know, or having in his 26 years in Washington, not passed a single piece of major legislation that he didn‘t later repudiate.

I just—I almost don‘t know whether it should be rebutted or if it should just be repeated all the time and laughed at.  Because the idea that the American people are going to fall for the idea that Obama is the real Bush in this race, and that McCain represents real change is stupefyingly funny, more than, I think, it needs to be rebutted.

OLBERMANN:  And lastly, McCain has questioned the Obama strategy about getting out of Iraq.  I don‘t know if you know this, I‘ve been on vacation, where is Obama on this right now?

MADDOW:  He is exactly where he‘s been all along.  And you can take issue with where Obama is on Iraq, you can argue with him about it, but he hasn‘t moved.  He says that he will end the war in Iraq in contrast with John McCain.  He wants an indefinite commitment.  He wants it to be a 16-month plan that is subject to conditions on the ground and what the generals think needs to be done in order to get that “mission accomplish” would the most safety and security for American troops.  But it‘s the same plan he‘s had all along.

OLBERMANN:  Rachel Maddow of Air America Radio and our own affable ninja, great thanks for holding down the fort.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Good news—impeachment hearings have been schedule would.  Bad news—they will not be followed by any kind of impeachment vote thingy.

Ichiro Suzuki can swear in English with hilarious consequences.  And Chris Wallace, Jesse Helms and Elizabeth Dole, all part of the Worst Persons in the World.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  OK, you can have the impeachment hearings just as long as we agree in advance there won‘t be any impeachment vote.  Terrific.  Jonathan Turley joins me next.

In Best: exclusive details of the instantly famous Ichiro address at baseball‘s all star game.  And in Worst: He put up a billboard showing the World Trade Center reading, “Please don‘t vote for a Democrat.”

Ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Six years ago this fall, the president rolled out his Iraq war sales job waiting until fall, as his chief of staff of that time said, “Because you don‘t introduce new products in August.”  Four years later, Democrats won control of Congress, raising hopes that Congress would hold Mr. Bush accountable for his moral lies with the tool given by the Constitution to defend the Constitution, mainly, impeachment.

In our fourth story tonight: The House of Representatives has now sent an article of impeachment to the judiciary committee for debate as soon as next week.

But there is a catch—the House voted 238 to 180 yesterday to send impeachment to a hearing in the judiciary committee, but that catch, Speaker Pelosi has said, “The House will not vote on impeachments,” kind of rendering the verdict before the evidence, even though Congressman Dennis Kucinich promises new information from a legislative leader of an unnamed U.S. ally.

Instead Judiciary Chair John Conyers says, “The hearing will focus on general abuses of power,” perhaps like this one.

The president today used the claim of executive privilege to block the release of FBI notes on the Valerie Plame leak investigation, including notes of their interview with Vice President Cheney, whose chief of staff, Scooter Libby, was convicted of obstructing the FBI leak investigation, and who told the FBI, Cheney might have ordered the leak, the purpose of which was, of course, to discredit Iraq war critic Joe Wilson as Plame‘s husband.

Let‘s turn once again to Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University.  Jon, thanks for your time tonight.

JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  First, the executive privilege claim in this.  Is there any validity to this executive privilege claim number 1,000, whatever it is?

TURLEY:  Yes, it‘s hard to keep the accurate count.  You know, reading this letter from Attorney General Mukasey, the president is extraordinary, he doesn‘t just claim presidential privilege, he claims deliberative process privilege, he claims law enforcement privilege, he claims anything short of a copyright infringement, to keep the documents away from Congress.  His position apparently is, “I recognize,” and he says this, “that you,” the Congress, “has an oversight right to look into this area.  You just can‘t see any of the evidence you need to do it.”

And, unfortunately, this is more of the same.  We‘ve seen this in other area where Mukasey is treating the White House as off the constitutional grid.  That anything that happens in that building, in his view, is simply not accessible to Congress.

OLBERMANN:  And citing Mukasey for contempt of Congress in some way, for not participating in the release of those FBI notes of the Cheney interviews and whatever else they might need, is that a non-starter?  Is that process gone, too?

TURLEY:  I‘m afraid it is.  And, you know, this is why when senators Schumer and Feinstein saved Mukasey‘s confirmation, this is what they purchased.  And what Congress needs to do, the only thing they can do, is to bring back inherent contempt and to say they‘re going to start to exercise contempt on their own, that the deal is off.

Attorney General Mukasey has broken a very long-standing promise to be a faithful broker, to bring this case to the grand jury—he won‘t.  And Congress has a right, now, to say, “We‘re going back to doing this stuff ourselves.”

OLBERMANN:  But inherent contempt requires, if need be, sending the sergeant-at-arms over with a baton and hitting somebody over the head, if necessary, if they‘re not cooperating.  I mean, if Congress is going to have impeachment hearings that already have a predetermined outcome, it‘s very unlikely that they‘re going to arrest somebody for contempt of Congress.  This is futile now.

TURLEY:  No, it is true that what Speaker Pelosi is describing is something like the British call “a fancy dress ball,” that you‘re allowed to dress up and pretend, but only for a night.  And that‘s what this hearing is beginning to look like.

It appears, from what she‘s saying is, no matter how compelling the evidence maybe of an impeachable offense, it won‘t go to a vote.  And, in fact, they‘re not going to supposedly look at impeachable offenses which are crimes, and instead look at abuses which are more of a political question.

OLBERMANN:  So, obviously, we know and I think the Republicans know, and they may, I think, the only difference is the perception of whether this is a great thing for this country or a terrible thing.  We know that this administration, it‘s principal action, its principal place in history will have been to have rolled back democracy.

How do—what is the process of rolling back the roll back?  What happens to all of this stuff when, you know, the administration changes to whatever is next at mid-day on January 20th of next year?

TURLEY:  Well, I mean, it‘s a bad legacy on both sides, because where the president rolled back on democracy, Congress rolled over and watched it happen.  And I—whether we can correct that course and actually make this catwalk backwards, is a good question.

We‘ve seen some disappointing acts by Obama like his vote in the FISA bill, but, he still is obviously committed to many principles that, frankly, I like and many other people like.  But it‘s going to take a lot of intestinal fortitude to go back and say, “We‘re going to really look at these crimes.”  And I don‘t see that intestinal fortitude in any of the leadership right now.

OLBERMANN:  Last point, do these impeachment non-hearings or non-impeachment hearings, however you want to phrase it, do they hurt in any way?  Do they make the whole thing just look stupid or do they have a net nothing on this?

TURLEY:  Well, it‘s already being structured in the way with what you know.  I testified at the impeachment hearing in the Clinton administration, and when that happened you had a broad array of witnesses and it covered crimes.  What they‘re already saying is that they‘re going to be talking about a wide array of abuses by the president.

An impeachment hearing needs to be focused, and it needs to deal with things directly and frankly is—whether the president committed crimes.  And there is considerable evidence to say that the answer is yes.

OLBERMANN:  Jonathan Turley, the constitutional law expert from George Washington University, as always, Jon, good to talk to you.  Thanks.

TURLEY:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:   And, meantime, sir, you‘ve misunderstood this term.  That was drive thru, emphasis on “through.”

And it‘s on fire on the net.  Ichiro Suzuki‘s profanity-laden all-star address to his teammates, all they have is bleeps, we have a quote.

But first, the headlines breaking in the Bush administration‘s 50 running scandals - Bushed!

Number three: Health care-gate.  How out of touch is administration on this topic?  The president vetoed the Medicare bill that prevented pay cuts to doctors who continue to treat disabled people, military personnel, seniors, even if some costs going to be taken from private health insurers.  The Senate voted 70 to 26 to override the Bush veto.  The House voted 383 to 41 to override the Bush veto.

Number two: Legacy-gate.  How are they going to build that Bush Library?  Graft.  The Homeland Security Department confirms that lobbyist Stephen Payne has been asked to resign from one of its advisory committees after he was caught on videotape, seeking a donation of $250,000 to the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

Well, seeking really isn‘t the right word.

Payne is shown on the tape telling a man who believed to be a representative of the former president of Kyrgyzstan, that he could arrange a meeting with senior administration figures, all Payne wanted for this was a six-figure fee for himself and a donation of $250,000 to the Bush Library.

And, number one: Appeasement-gate.  This weekend in Geneva, the European Union‘s foreign policy chief will meet with the nuclear negotiator for those evil Iranians, and what is President Bush doing about it?  He is sending the number three guy in the State Department to join the meeting.

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns will—dare I say this—try to negotiate with extremists like Senator Obama or anybody else with a brain larger than a cashew, rather than first trying to blow their country out of the tub like, oh, Vice President Cheney.

So, Mr. Bush, I guess, that whole appeasement stuff from the Israeli Knesset, that was just a bunch of crap designed to interfere with the elections in a country which was already rejected your drunken cowboy policies, namely the United States of America or what‘s left of it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Best persons in a moment and exclusive details about what in baseball what they‘re calling the Ichiro address.  First, 59 years ago today, Cindy Truhan (ph) was born, later the wife of another baseball figure, Steve Garvey of the LA Dodgers; she was the fulcrum in the greatest satirical banner ever displayed at a baseball game.  As the Garvey marriage sadly broke up, Cindy Garvey was linked to a noted composer.  So unfurled from the upper deck at Yankee Stadium before a game in the 1981 world series was a gigantic banner reading, “Steve: Marvin Hamlisch?” 

Let‘s play Oddball. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  We begin with footage from camera two outside the Texas State Bank in Center City, Texas, where the drive-through window is now closed.  This happened a few weeks ago and we‘re just now getting the good video.  You can plainly see the driver in the pickup truck either forgot he was pulling a trailer, misjudged the turn, literally drove through the drive through.  The truck was badly damaged but the driver and his 10-year-old son escaped completely unharmed.  The bank has no comment on the crash, but we are told the teller did ask the 10-year-old to return the lollipop she had just given him. 

Over to Denton, Texas, for more surveillance video, this time an attempted robbery, a man in disguise enters a Pizza Patrone Restaurant, slaps a male clerk and demands money.  As a female worker hands over the cash drawer, the male clerk, the guy who had been slapped, bum rushes the crook and lands three hay makers, knocking the guy out cold.  Seventeen year old Rudy Sandevow (ph) is now a hero.  The crook was arrested and from the you can‘t make this stuff up department, it turns out, have a nice rest, sir—it‘s turn out the robber is the father of the female clerk at the store and his wife, the clerk‘s mother, was at the wheel of the getaway car.  Family pizza night over at their house will never be the same.  You know? 

Finally a surveillance video trifecta, to a Circuit City in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where this bear is just damn tired of waiting for a new iPhone.  It‘s a daring daytime raid by black bear, who gained entry to the electronics store by slamming through a glass door.  Once inside, the bear perused the merchandise and—how often does this happen to you—the bear was unable to find a sales associate for prompt help.  The bear left through the same hole he made to get in and headed instead to the nearest Best Buy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  As political humor goes, it‘s not exactly Will Rogers, but the Jib Jab is always good for many yucks. 

And what I did on my summer vacation, I heard comedian Rush Limbaugh agree with me about Bill-O.  Meaning, I need another vacation.  These stores ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world.

Number three, best waste of tax payer money, unnamed 911 operator in Dallas.  Mr. Crystal Bah Hamase (ph) checks in from a pay phone, says he needs to give himself up to the police, wants the cops to come get him.  The operator says no, quote, you have to take a car, bus or whatever, but they won‘t come pick you up.  You just have to turn yourself in.”  She never bothered to asked him what he was wanted for.  The answer to that question would have been murder.  He called back; a second dispatcher had the presence of mind to say, stay there, we‘ll be right over. 

Number two, best flashback, Senator John McCain, twice already this week he has referred to current events in, quote, Czechoslovakia.  This just in, Czechoslovakia has peacefully split into the nation of Slovakia and the Czech Republic.  This was on January 1st, 1993. 

But our winner, Ichiro Suzuki.  According to Yahoo Sports, last night, for the eighth consecutive year, the diminutive, somewhat aloof Japanese-born star of the Seattle Mariners gave a pregame address to his American League All Star teammates, exhorting them to victory.  Ichiro affects a pose of not understanding English, which is somewhat belied by the speech, which is roughly the same every year, described in the Yahoo article only as, quote, bleep, bleep, national league, bleep, bleep, bleep, national, bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep. 

That‘s all we know, except the witness in the A.L. clubhouse confirms exclusively for us tonight one line of the fabled Ichiro address, quote, let‘s kick these bleeper, bleeper‘s bleep.  The American league has now won all eight times he has played and spoken. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  It appeared like magic late in the 2004 campaign, and the march of technology has not yet rendered it doable inside your computer, or your cell phone or your appendix.  Thus in our third story in the COUNTDOWN, its reappearance as the second half of the campaign season begins was enough of a story to merit coverage tonight by ABC‘s “World News.”  The Jib Jab boys are back, and this time the baseline for their animated political satire is the Dylan classic “The Times They Are A-Changing.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

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OLBERMANN:  Ebben Spildellis (ph), the co-founder who isn‘t Greg, tells COUNTDOWN that his company‘s projection is, having put it up at 2:00 am, by day‘s end more than a million visitors to their site will have seen it. 

What I did on my summer vacation.  An all-star manager forgets something important, and so, too, as illustrated here, does a presidential candidate. 

The worst persons in the world.  Is it possible somebody actually put up a political billboard featuring images of the World Trade Center aflame?  Want to guess who?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Comedian Rush Limbaugh agrees with me.  The “New York Post” makes up a story that insults the memory of Tim Russert, forgets the details, then makes up a contradictory version of the same store.  And why the “New Yorker Magazine” should have listened to its own immortal, James Thurber, before it printed that cover. 

That‘s ahead, but first time fore COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 

The bronze to Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina.  She‘s proposed an amendment to a current HIV/AIDS funding bill in the Senate which would name it in honor of her late predecessor, Jesse Helms.  Senator, you do realize that Helms opposed AIDS treatment, AIDS research, AIDS prevention.  He opposed everything about AIDS except blaming the victims.  And not just back in the blind panic days.  As late as 2002, he blamed the disease on homosexuality.  You should not name an AIDS bill after Jesse Helms.  They should name a gay bashing organization after him. 

Our runner up tonight, Chris Wallace of Fixed News, explaining to the TV critics of America, who were gathered tonight in solemn assembly in Los Angeles, insisting that during the primaries Fox had the straight news reporters anchoring the election coverage, and not someone like Keith Olbermann, who was delivering ten-minute screeds against President Bush, telling him to shut the hell up, telling Hillary Clinton to get out of the campaign. 

Chris, I never told Senator Clinton to get out of the campaign.  I never even suggested it.  Go back and read your talking points carefully again.  “There‘s a reason why Bill O‘Reilly and Sean Hannity don‘t anchor the election coverage.  Our feeling is that opinion makers should live with their opinions and that journalists should cover the news.  Chris, O‘Reilly and Hannity did anchor on primary nights, several of them this year on Fox.  You even had Laura Ingraham anchor for an hour on one of them.  Check the tape for May 20th, Kentucky and Oregon, for instance. 

Also, if you would like to compare who got more complaints for bias, unprofessionalism and the injection of opinion into election coverage, myself or say you and Hume, you can spot me 1,000 and I‘ll still lose by a million. 

But our winner, Mike Meehan of St. Cloud, Florida, who is said to have paid for this billboard in Orange County.  IT depicts the World Trade Center ablaze, with that message, “please don‘t vote for a Democrat.”  The local GOP says it has nothing to do with this atrocity.  And it has condemned it. 

But, by the way, Mr. Meehan, using your rules of engagement here, sir, this reminder, the president and the government when those buildings were destroyed were Republican.  Mike Meehan of St. Cloud, Florida, today‘s worst person in the world. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The last 14 days, I felt a little like Lloyd Bridges in the movie “Airplane,” looked like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing headlines.  Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, a new and all too infrequent segment on the news hour, while I was out.  In no particular order, which of these signs of the apocalypse will you still be talking about next month?  Comedian Rush Limbaugh is now stealing my material.  He actually hesitated to put this on the record for the piece the “New York Times Magazine” did fricasseeing him.  But finally, he acknowledged about Bill O‘Reilly, quote, somebody has to say it, the man is Ted Baxter.” 

Liberal elements at the Rush Limbaugh Program are now exporting Viagra to Iran?  Moral?  You can fool some of the falafels some of the time and you can fool all of the falafels some of the time.  But you can‘t even fool the Limbaugh falafel all of the time. 

Jesse Jackson used a racial epithet and a street term for male genitalia about Senator Barack Obama during a conversation he thought private in a Chicago television studio.  The mics were open.  The tape was rolling.  The stuff wound up on, naturally, the Bill-O the clown hour.  Loss in the foofery (ph) about Jackson‘s language; actual news organizations have rules against using such material on the air.  If a guest says he‘s planning to killing somebody or if he says anything while running for president, that‘s different.  Otherwise putting the recording on the air is a far worse offense than whatever was put on the air could have been.  It‘s called eavesdropping. 

Moral?  Imagine the right-wing Armageddon-like reaction if it had been a friend of John McCain‘s saying something similar about him and we had run the surreptitious tape here on COUNTDOWN.

Not that Senator Obama was always more sinned against then sinning.  Forgets to remind his supporters to help out Senator Clinton with her campaign debt, exits stage left and has to be sent back out to make the pitch.  Moral?  Dr. Freud!

Baseball‘s All-Star game in New York City was preceded by a parade of heroes, past and present, up sixth avenue.  Here‘s something you didn‘t know.  The guy driving the vehicle on which Orioles great Cal Ripken was riding was James Carville. 

The game itself ran a little long because the National League blew a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning because of a managerial blunder.  Billy Wagner is a hall of fame relief pitcher, but a creature of precise habits.  He never pitches well when he enters a game in the middle of an inning, rather than at the start of one.  National League manager Clint Hurdle, apparently the only person at Yankee Stadium last night who did not know this fact, brought Wagner in with one out and nobody on in the middle of the bottom of the eighth, and Wagner promptly gave up the tying run. 

The game, thus, continued until the 15th inning and ended with the American League winning at 1:37 am Eastern Time.  Moral?  Like everybody from George Tenet to Norman Podhoretz, Wagner is one of a group of baseball players being honored tonight at the White House by the president. 

Baseball lost a lovely man last week.  Bobby Ray Mercer of the New York Yankees, of his skills as a player and an announcer, of his courage and awakening to the joy of life in the face of cancer, you may have heard.  Bobby was also a political fire brand who in the last four years must have come up to me 20 times with a big, broad smile on his face, once even a hug, saying, Keith, leave my president alone. 

But on the field in March 2006, in our first visit since Hurricane Katrina, Bobby Mercer said something really different; “has my president always been like he was that week, or did he just go bad recently?” 

We also lost Tony Snow, another lovely man with whom I could not have possibly have disagreed more, but whose humanity leant hope that we might some day again all share a political stage in which neither side believes it must ultimately be winner take all.  Unfortunately, Mr. Snow had many around him who learned nothing from his ability to separate the message from the messenger. 

After I said something nice about him, Rupert Murdoch‘s non-profit newspaper, the “New York Post,” quoting an alleged unnamed friend of Mr.  Snow, who said I had, quote, no relationship with Tony at all.  The Post reminded its reader that I had put him on the worst persons list on January 9th, 2007. 

In point of fact, my relationship with Tony Snow, which was entirely by e-mail, began right after January 9th, 2007, when he wrote and joked that I should laminate that photo, since I‘d probably be using it again on future lists, and that while he often wanted to yell at the TV, he watched this show and enjoyed it.  To anybody who could write that note with that humor, I owed a statement of grief on the occasion of his passing. 

Not to demean his memory with too much of the Post, but two other notes; the writer, Maryann Garvey (ph), finished off her fabrication by adding, quote, a rep for Olbermann didn‘t get back to us.  This was a deliberate lie on Miss Garvey‘s part.  She had an extensive e-mail exchange with our press relations department, and one phone conversation during which Ms. Garvey hung up on our PR person. 

Also The post wrote that I was “once again disrespecting the dead.  The MSNBC blow hard who was overheard jockeying for Tim Russert‘s “Meet the Press” gig during Russert‘s memorial reception in Washington last month”—

Sorry, when you made that crap up last month, you claimed it was Chris Matthews who was overheard jockeying.  So not only was your lie wrong, but your lie about your lie was also wrong. 

Moral?  Maryann Garvey and Richard Johnson and their boss Rupert Murdoch are sick, sick people, the ethical equivalent of grave robbers. 

And then there was this—what the?  Did the “New Yorker” have the right to print this?  Of course, it did.  Did the “New Yorker” show any of the incite, brilliance, perspective, fingers on the pulse of the nation stuff that has made it the envy of the magazine business since the days of James Thurber?  Not a drop. 

This looks like just plain editorial stupidity.  But there‘s a second viewpoint here that this was another in a small series of clunky overtures by the magazine towards the right wing.  And that theory calls to mind “New Yorker” hero Thurber‘s own fable about the alcoholic bear who “would real home at night, kick over the umbrella stand, knock down the bridge lamps, and ram his elbows through the windows.  Then he would collapse on the floor and lie there until he went to sleep.  His wife was greatly distressed.  His children were very frightened.”

Thurber‘s drunken bear eventually sobers up and becomes a teetotaler, and an anti-booze fitness exhibitionist.  To demonstrate this, Thurber wrote, “he would stand on his head and his hands and he would turn cartwheels in the house, kicking over the umbrella stand, knocking down the bridge lamps and ramming his elbows through the windows.  Then he would lie down on the floor, tired by his healthful exercise and go to sleep.  His wife was greatly distressed and his children were very frightened.” 

Moral?  From James Thurber‘s own pen to the “New Yorker” of 2008, you might as well fall flat on your face, as lean over too far backward. 

That‘s COUNTDOWN for this, the 1,904th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

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

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