updated 8/20/2008 1:21:15 PM ET 2008-08-20T17:21:15

Guests: Contessa Brewer, Clint Van Zandt, Pam Bondi, Nicole DeBorde

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Tonight on VERDICT: Reports that Barack Obama‘s about to pick his V.P. candidate.  Senator Joe Biden and his foreign policy experience?  But what about Evan Bayh and his heartland appeal?  And, is Hillary Clinton even a possibility?

Why is another woman apparently higher on the list think she is?

And, what about John McCain?  He‘s now backed off his suggestion that a pro-choice candidate like former Governor Tom Ridge would be acceptable.  Could Mitt be holding the ball?  Even after that bitter primary fight?

Others say the governor of Minnesota could be the frontrunner?  No, not that one; this one—Tim Pawlenty.

We‘ll go through the shortlist and figure if the announcement really could be coming at any moment with the panel of political journalists:

“Newsweek‘s” Jonathan Alter; Jeff Zeleny from the “New York Times”; and A.B. Stoddard from “The Hill.”

Plus, reports of the mother of missing Florida girl, Caylee Anthony, could be released this week, even though questions remained about her story.

And, our special Olympics edition of Winners and Losers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER:  History in Beijing by Michael Phelps.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Could golden boy Michael Phelps rake in $40 million after the Olympics?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER:  That should be a routine that we are watching for generations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And the Wheaties box controversy.  Why might two American Olympians share the box this year?

And she once trashed the national anthem -

Now, Roseanne Barr is trashing Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt for not backing Obama.

And, John Mayer and Jennifer Aniston are thrashing each other.  Who really initiated the breakup of these former lovebirds?  And who really cares?

VERDICT starts now.

Welcome to the show.  We got breaking news tonight, the “New York Times” is reporting that Barack Obama will make his vice presidential pick as early as early Wednesday morning.  The “Times” is reporting that Obama has, quote, “all but finalized his choice for a running mate.”

Senator Obama has reportedly not yet notified his choice yet, but is said to be focused on three main candidates: Indiana‘s senator, Evan Bayh;

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine; and, Delaware Senator Joe Biden.

Advisors are telling the “New York Times” tonight that Obama reached his decision while on vacation in Hawaii and that only about the half dozen advisors were involved in the final discussions.

Also tonight, Politico.com is reporting that John McCain will announce his vice presidential pick on Friday, August 29th at a 10,000-person rally in Dayton, Ohio.  McCain officials are telling Politico the strategy behind the announcement next Friday is, of course, to limit the bounce Obama will get from the Democratic convention which ends the night before.

Here now is: “New York Time‘s” political correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, who co-wrote the big story on Obama tonight; “Newsweek‘s” columnist and NBC News analyst, Jonathan Alter is here with us, author of the new book, “Between the Lines”; A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of “the Hill”; and, Roy Sekoff, founding editor of “The Huffington Post.”

All right.  Jeff, tell us what you know.

JEFF ZELENY, NEW YORK TIMES:  Well, Dan, as we know, it‘s not that much of a surprise.  It‘s been crunch time for Senator Obama.  He has exactly one week, you know, to make this vice presidential announcement known and he‘s going to do it as soon as Wednesday.  It could be anywhere from Wednesday and really, through the end of the weekend.

The campaign right now, we‘re told, is still trying to figure out exactly at what point along to do it.  They‘re watching hurricane Fay.  Is there going to be any type of outside news here, but that‘s coming up.

ABRAMS:  But let‘s be clear, Jeff, he has made a decision as to who it‘s going to be?

ZELENY:  He is close to making his decision.  His advisors won‘t say he has made it for sure, because something could always change between now and then, but he‘s not begin to notify the people who did not get it yet and there‘s still a chance of change of mind here.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Jonathan, you‘re also is well-connected as anyone in this group, what do you know?

JONATHAN ALTER, NEWSWEEK:  You know, they‘ve been very tight-lipped, Dan.  You have to hand it to them.  I think a lot of people preserve their deniability by not even being pervade (ph) of these conversations about the vice presidency.  So, there‘s really, I‘d say, three or four people who know and they talk.  And the people are talking don‘t know.  So, it leaves all of us in the press in a pretty bad position to actually get real facts as opposed to speculation about this.

ABRAMS:  But, Jeff, it sounds like you‘ve got somewhere in between there, right?

ZELENY:  Well, it does.  I mean, we‘re told that it‘s going to be as soon as—as soon as Wednesday, excuse me, and it could be, you know, in the hours or days before that.  But Jonathan is absolutely right.  This is very closely held.  Most people in the Chicago headquarters and most of the offices around the country do not know the answer to this.  So, we‘re not even sure if Michelle Obama knows for sure.  So, it‘s very closely held and we all know in the coming days.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me go to some of the top candidates for this job.  First of all, there‘s been a lot of talk lately about Senator Joe Biden.  And I want to go through the pros and cons, and then I want to ask -- I want to play a piece of sound about what each of them have said about the possibility of getting the V.P. pick.

His pros—he‘s got foreign policy experience, he‘s a good debater.  On the problem, he‘s had a lot of gaffes.  He is certainly a long time Washington guy.

Here‘s what Joe Biden said about the possibility of taking the V.P.—

I‘m sorry—this is what he said - he said, “There are a lot of people out there who want the job.  I‘m not one of them.  But you‘d have to take it.  There‘s not a single, solitary person who, with Barack Obama as the presidential nominee in this most historic of races, who if asked would say, ‘No,‘ I wouldn‘t say ‘No.”  I hope he doesn‘t ask me, but if he asked me, I‘d say yes, I‘m not being coy.”

That was to “The Hill.”  So, let me ask A.B. from “The Hill”—he says he‘s not being coy, but of course he‘s coy.  I mean, he‘s saying, I hope he doesn‘t ask me.  I mean, this - you have to say that, right?

A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL:  Joe Biden is really bad at faking it.  You know, yes, you always have to say that.  But Joe Biden was also saying, “But I would take it, of course, I would take it.”  And as we all know, Joe Biden has been uncharacteristically silent in recent weeks, which makes everybody nervous.

It‘s a very interesting idea on many levels, starting with the fact that he‘s never endorsed Barack Obama, as did Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson and other candidates when they pulled out of the race.  Joe Biden never did.  He also, as you might remember, created a big hoopla when he called Barack Obama the first mainstream, clean cut, and articulate African-American political candidate.

So, it would be interesting on any level.  I think it is actually a very pragmatic choice, in many ways, for Barack Obama and I think that he can read between what Joe Biden says (INAUDIBLE).

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me go to the next one.  At the end of the segment, I‘m going to ask all of you to tell me who you think it‘s going to be, but let me go through there.  The next one: Evan Bayh, another one of the leading contenders, a prominent Clinton backer, could help swing the key state of Indiana.  He has differed with Obama, though, on certain intelligence issues.  He favored Iraq benchmarks as opposed to a timetable.

Let me play a piece of sound, again, this from Evan Bayh on the question of whether he would take the V.P. slot.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”/JULY 20)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX HOST:  Senator Bayh, if Obama asked you to be his running mate, what will you say?

SEN. EVAN BAYH, (D) INDIANA:  Well, I said that‘s not the sort of thing you‘d say no to, Chris.

WALLACE:  So, you‘d say yes?

BAYH:  Well, that‘s the kind of thing you do say yes to, and I‘ve said that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I love all these guys‘ answers.  I mean, every one of them is as disingenuous as the next.  They all want it, but they can‘t admit it.

All right.  Roy, what do we make of Evan Bayh?

ROY SEKOFF, THE HUFFINGTON POST:  You know, like Biden, he has great foreign policy experience, unfortunately, it‘s all bad.  It‘s really bad for Obama.  And don‘t forget, he was the co-author of the authorization for the war.  I mean, he was the chairman of the, you know, Iraq committee.  So, he‘s all wrong from the main message of Obama, plus, not the most exciting guy.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Governor Tim Kaine, the third big name, I think, out there, who‘s been talked about.  He‘s a Washington outsider, could help swing Virginia.  Again, on the other side of it, he doesn‘t have the foreign policy experience that they might be looking for.

Here is Kaine on “MEET THE PRESS” yesterday being asked by David Gregory about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MEET THE PRESS”/SUNDAY)

DAVID GREGORY, NBC HOST:  Governor Kaine, you have been mentioned as being on the shortlist of Senator Obama.

GOV. TIM KAINE, (D) VIRGINIA:  And my mom loves that.  And my mom loves that.

GREGORY:  And in fact, there have been—there‘s been reporting now that people close to you have said that here have been serious conversations, those conversations continue?

KAINE:  I‘m not going to talk about conservations with the campaign.  But, as you know, I‘ve been a co-chair with Senator Obama since February ‘07 because I knew his vision for getting this nation back on track was what Americans would embrace.

GREGORY:  And you‘d accept the job?

KAINE:  Here‘s what I say, I didn‘t sign on to get anything about it, to be appointed to anything, and I think it‘s very unlikely, but I‘ve told Senator Obama, I‘m going to help him in whatever way he thinks I can be helpful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Of course, that‘s the governor; I think we had a graphic that said senator.  All right, Jonathan, again, another one of these non-denials sort of—I mean, why do they have to, Jonathan, pretend that they don‘t want it?

ALTER:  Oh, it‘s just part of the ritual and if you don‘t play by those rules, then you seem like you‘re too eager.  And it‘s kind of a throwback to, you know, the Roman Cincinnatus, you have to be reluctant or look reluctant in order to get the job.  It used to be that presidential candidates also did that.  It‘s only in the modern era that they‘ve been honest about their ambitions.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  What you do make of the three choices, Jonathan?  Let me start getting into this a little bit.  Any sense of who the most likely is of the three?

ALTER:  You know, if I have to say, and the truth is, and we‘re so often wrong about that, you know, the pundits blow it on this election after election, but if I had to guess, I would say that Biden has the best shot—because what Obama‘s looking for now with the voters is reassurance.  Everything is about reassuring them that it‘s OK to elect this freshman senator who is an African-American to the presidency.

So, everything they do wants (ph) to work on that theme and I think, Biden, although his experience, in some ways, goes against the message of freshness that Obama is trying to convey, would provide the most reassurance of those three picks.

ABRAMS:  A.B.?

STODDARD:  I agree.  I just think that Biden, yes, he‘s been around in Washington a long time, but he has dealt with so many conflicts around the world, chairman of the foreign relations committee.  He is known around the world by key leaders in key places.  I think everyone would be comfortable.

I think you could argue has more foreign policy bona fides than Hillary Clinton and I think this is true in light of the fact that the polls are tightening and Barack Obama finds himself in a very tight race with John McCain, who has foreign policy strength, the Georgian-Russian conflict, all these things going on, the fact that he didn‘t get a sustainable bounce from his trip overseas, et cetera, I think he finds himself in a situation needing Biden more than he might have six week ago.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Roy?

SEKOFF:  Yes, I think, if he was going to pick who he liked the most, it would be Kaine, but who he needs the most, I think, out of those three, it‘s definitely Biden for all the reasons that A.B. and Jonathan laid out.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  Jeff, as a non-columnist type of reporter here, I‘m not going to put you on the spot, and ask you who you think.  But let me ask you this—do you think it‘s more important for Obama to find someone to help fill his gaps, so to speak, meaning, who can help him in areas which are viewed as weaknesses, or do you think it‘s more important for him to find someone who can continue with his message of change?

ZELENY:  It may be more important, actually, for Senator Obama to actually expand the battleground.  His advisors know if he‘s going to win this election, he‘s going to have to put more states in play to - and to overcome or outweigh some of the voters who have concerns about him.  So Senator Evan Bayh and Governor Tim Kaine may go a long way in terms of helping him do that.

If Senator Obama could put Indiana in play, (A), it would make Senator McCain spend more money there, but, (B), Indiana is a Republican state.  So, I would look at it more along the lines of their whole strategy and they want to expand the maps.  So - that‘s, that Senator Bayh‘s argument that he was with Senator Obama last week.

ABRAMS:  And, Jeff, the Obama camp has done a lot of polling on this, I‘ve got to believe?

ZELENY:  I‘m guessing they have.   I mean, there‘s, you know, polling on most other things and perhaps we‘ll find out about this later, perhaps, we won‘t.  We don‘t know what their polls say exactly.  But one of the things, you know, they‘re really thinking about is if they have to fill out the resume or if they‘re going to take a leap that voters like Senator Obama and needs some reassurance on these places.

ABRAMS:  Yes.

ZELENY:  Senator Bayh could spend lot of time in Ohio as well and if Senator Obama would win Virginia, you know, it may end the election.

ABRAMS:  Yes.

ZELENY:  But, you know, I think we can all make plausible arguments for all of them.  And don‘t rule out the Governor Sebelius from Kansas.  That‘s still the possibility as (INAUDIBLE).

ABRAMS:  All right.  Does anyone think—I just got to wrap this up -

does anyone think Hillary Clinton has a shot at V.P.?  Anyone?

STODDARD:  No.

ABRAMS:  No.

ALTER:  Al Gore has a better shot.

SEKOFF:  No, but after seeing that list, I‘d be happy to see it.

ABRAMS:  Yes, I mean, you know.

ALTER:  Al Gore would be more likely than Hillary Clinton at this point.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  It‘s amazing.  But, any way, I think it may be Kaine, but would I know, I listen to you, guys.

Everyone is staying with us.

Coming up: More on the breaking news about the veep decisions.  And, no matter who Obama or McCain pick, will it really make a difference?  We‘ve also got breaking news tonight on the McCain V.P. pick.  Did Dan Quayle really put the first George Bush over the top?  I mean, does it really matter?

And, you can tell it‘s an election year by the pork barrel spending.  Washington is spending more than $300 million more on pork this year than last.  Another reason Why America Hates Washington.

Plus, Wheaties is reportedly having second thoughts about putting Olympics gymnastic gold medal winner, Nastia Lukin.  She may have to share the spotlight with silver medalist.  Is it because Lukin is not American enough?

We‘re back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Tonight‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington: It‘s all about earmarks.  The pet projects lawmakers attached to spending bills that are often hidden and aren‘t subject to debate or competitive bids.  According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, lawmakers have approved $290 million more in earmarks this year than in 2007, for a total of more than $5 billion.  It‘s an election year, so they just can‘t seem to help themselves.  And the recent favorites, the Teapot Museum in Sparta, North Carolina, a fruit fly study in France, and $2 million for cricket control.

Earmarks, the other white meat: another reason Why America Hates Washington.

We‘re back with more in the breaking news that Obama has reportedly finalized his V.P. pick and will announce it this week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back with breaking news again tonight.  The “New York Times” is reporting that Barack Obama could make his vice president pick as early as Wednesday morning.  The Politico.com is saying that John McCain is set to make his pick next Friday, the day after the Democratic convention.  And the question, and of course, who are they going to be?  Are there any wild cards out there?

The panel is back with us again.

All right.  Let‘s talk about some of the Republican picks because we‘ve been talking about the Democrats for a while now.  Let‘s go through some of the potentials for John McCain.  Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.  He‘s got executive experience; some say he could help swing Minnesota.  The con is, he‘s got low name recognition.

Jonathan, any sense of who you think McCain is going to pick?

ALTER:  I think Pawlenty is the favorite.  You know, low name recognition is not a con.  Most Americans -- 135 million Americans expected to vote, they don‘t know who any of these people are besides McCain and Obama and they barely know them.  So, that‘s no barrier at all.

I think a bigger concern might be that winning Minnesota, even with Pawlenty, isn‘t necessarily going to be that easy for the Republicans this time.  And, you know, so it might be that it doesn‘t help geographically, but I still give Pawlenty the edge.

ABRAMS:  Name recognition, though, A.B., what about Mitt Romney?  I mean, the pros for him—knowledge of the economy, he‘s got root in key states.  The cons, unclear what his relationship is with McCain and, of course, there could be resistance from religious right.

STODDARD:  Right.  I mean, Mitt Romney has certainly earned his way into McCain‘s good graces; they are now, you know, very friendly they say. 

Mitt Romney spent a lot of time raising a lot of money for him.  Mitt

Romney is well-known by Republicans.  He could, you know, turn out to be,

there are a lot of the social conservatives that are fun of the Romney

choice.  A lot of them are fun of the fact that he is a successful

businessman and he speaks sort of fluently about the economy, obviously, a

big appeal having him help John McCain in Michigan.  I think would be -

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Here‘s what Mitt Romney said in July.  It sounds very reminiscent.  It sounds a whole lot like what those Democrats were saying about their interests in being the veep.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, ® FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I got nothing for you on the V.P. front.  He‘s got great people he could choose from.  And I‘m telling you this, I expect to be working for the McCain team, I don‘t expect to be part of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And so, it‘s always—oh, my goodness, it‘s like being Miss America.  You got to pretend like it‘s just so surprising than none of the other candidate.

SEKOFF:  It‘s a political version of the roles.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  None of the other candidate got selected.

All right.  Let me ask you—Jeff, interesting poll that the “New York Times” did of the Democratic delegates.  This is going back to the Democratic side, in their picks for V.P. taken over the past month, 28 percent for Hillary Clinton, 6 percent for Biden, 4 percent for John Edwards.

I don‘t know when the poll is taken, oh, it‘s July 31st to August 4th

Yes, it was taken before the Edwards news came out.

SEKOFF:  Just a little.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Evan Bayh is at 4 percent also.  Jeff, what do we make of this—that the majority by far of people who expressed a favorite were for Clinton?

ZELENY:  Well, because these are Clinton supporters, these are

delegates to the Democratic convention, who, you know, have, in many cases,

worked their hearts out for her.  They are local officials who endorsed

her.  So, a lot of people are still hoping that she is selected.  But it

seems like she‘s all, but her close aides have all but given up on that,

the prospect.  So, the news is a little bit -

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  You know, and, Jonathan, it‘s going to be so important, isn‘t it—when the announcement is made and it‘s not Hillary Clinton, what Hillary Clinton‘s first public reaction is to that?

ALTER:  I think they‘re on the same page now, you know, and they‘ve kind of, you know, come to Jesus meetings and Bill‘s now on board and sure, they could still make a little mischief but it‘s very important for them that they not be blamed for Obama losing.  So, I think it‘s going to be less compelling political theatre than those of us in the media would hope for at this convention as the Clintons go (ph).

ABRAMS:  Jeff, could John McCain change his pick.  I mean, let‘s say John McCain‘s thinking about Pawlenty just for argument‘s sake, and Obama picks a particular person who he thinks, well, you know what, Pawlenty may not be the best choice.  Is it possible McCain will change his V.P. pick based on who Obama selects?

ZELENY:  Absolutely.  I mean, Senator McCain has a benefit of going

last.  So, if Senator Obama would pick Joe Biden, for example, and perhaps

Senator McCain would modulate on that front (ph), Tim Kaine perhaps, he

would pick Pawlenty.  So, he can certainly change his mind.  We don‘t

expect him to announce his decision until Friday after the convention at

the earliest.  So, you know -

ABRAMS:  Yes.

ALTER:  You know, Dan, it‘s a real distinct possibility or at least something not to be ruled out that he could go, that McCain could go for a pro-choice running mate.  He doesn‘t care about kicking off, you know, a few loud mouths in the base.  That‘s why he floated Tom Ridge‘s name to kind of see how big the reaction will be.  It wasn‘t really that big.  It wasn‘t like it cause (ph) signing petition.  And you can‘t rule out Joe Lieberman either on the Republican side.

ABRAMS:  That‘s what I‘m going to ask, Roy, about.  Roy, Joe Lieberman is the guy now the Democrats love to hate.

SEKOFF:  Yes, well, I mean, if McCain‘s trying to shore up his credentials with conservatives, so he‘s going to pick a pro-choice, pro-gay Jewish guy?  I don‘t really kind of see that happening.

ALTER:  He‘s not trying to shore up his credentials with conservatives; he‘s trying to win a general election which had historically been fought in the middle, in the center, among independents.  And in some level, McCain recognizes that.  The base will vote for the lesser of two evils.  He doesn‘t have to worry as much about them as he does about independents.

ABRAMS:  I‘ve got to wrap it up.  This is good stuff.  Jeff, great reporting on this.  Really interesting and fantastic panel.  Jonathan Alter, A.B. Stoddard, and Roy Sekoff, thanks to you as well.

ALTER:  Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up: Reports that the mother of that two-year-old missing girl, Caylee Anthony is about to be released from jail even though there are still serious doubts about her story.

And the folks at FOX is taking credit away from our vets for getting American Airlines to stop charging military members for extra baggage—that‘s next in Beat the Press.

What‘s your VERDICT?  E-mail us at: Verdict@msnbc.com.  Your e-mails are in the P.O.‘ed box at the end of the show.  Please include your name, where you‘re writing from.  Back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s Beat the Press.

First up: Last week, many media outlets reported that American Airlines was charging military members up to $300 in extra baggage fees and the campaign was led by the Veterans of Foreign War asking them to waive the fee.  But if you listen to FOX News, they, not the veterans group, deserved the credit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FOX & FRIENDS”/FOX NEWS/THURSDAY)

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX HOST:  Yesterday, when we brought up that airlines from charging additional bag costs to military people being deployed overseas, sometimes costing them to $300 -- outrage, through your e-mails, through communication with us, and I guess, through the right people because there‘s going to be a change in procedure at least when it comes to American Airlines and our military.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Right, oh, well, thank goodness for FOX.  Kilmeade, who I actually like also so tried to take credit for Barack Obama‘s response to the situation.  But, again, over there at FOX facts aren‘t always the strongest (ph).

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FOX & FRIENDS”/FOX NEWS/THURSDAY)

KILMEADE:  Well, he might have been watching our show, you see, in Hawaii, it‘s at 6:00 o‘clock at night, in Hawaii, isn‘t it?  Twelve hours ahead of time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think five.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE) behind us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Six hours behind east coast.  It‘s definitely not 12.

Next up, it sure did sound like Tom Daschle was taking a shot not only at John McCain, also ABC‘s George Stephanopoulos yesterday after Stephanopoulos referred to Czechoslovakians that have Czech Republic had repeatedly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THIS WEEK”/ABC/SUNDAY)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST:  By pushing for George to be in NATO, by pushing for the Ukraine to be in NATO, by putting a missile defense system in Czechoslovakia, this way seen as belligerent and aggressive.

TOM DASCHLE, OBAMA SUPPORTER:  Barack Obama knows we haven‘t had a Czechoslovakia for the last 20 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Finally: The MSNBC Olympic update, Tamryn Hall was bragging about wearing Olympian Kevin Young‘s gold medal when Jenna Wolfe tried to one-up (ph) her with Tiki Barber.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “OLYMPIC UPDATE‘/MSNBC/FRIDAY)

JENNA WOLFE, ANCHOR:  You may have that medal around your neck, but I‘ve been wearing Tiki‘s Super Bowl ring all week long.

TAMRYN HALL, REPORTER:  I will take the medal over the ring.

KEVIN YOUNG, AMERICAN ATHLETE:  What?

HALL:  Oh, you don‘t know that?

YOUNG:  I don‘t have a Super Bowl ring.

HALL:  Oh, you don‘t.

YOUNG:  You are such a -

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  You‘re tired (ph) to hear before; the “New York Times” won the Super Bowl.

Up next, the latest on the search for two-year-old Caylee Anthony.  A bail bondsman is ready to bail her mother out this week so she can help find her daughter.  The one she waited a month to report missing.

And on the lighter note, our Olympics edition of Winner and Losers, including the battle for swimming star Michael Phelps.  They say he could make more than $40 million in endorsements.  I say, that‘s all?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, a small plane gets trapped in power lines leading to a dramatic rescue.  Everyone is OK.  Unbelievable.

Plus, our Olympics “Winners and Losers,” featuring Chinese journalists crying when their country‘s track star had to drop out of a 10-meter hurdle.  And the day‘s other “Winners and Losers” including John Mayer patting himself on the back for breaking up with Jennifer Aniston.

But first, mother of missing now three-year-old Caylee Anthony may be hours away from being released from jail.  A California bounty hunter in Orlando is working out the details of Casey Anthony‘s bail.  NBC‘s Kerry Sanders has the story. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KERRY SANDERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice over):  Twenty-two-year-old Casey Anthony is jailed on felony child neglect charges and lying to police.  At $500,000, the bond was too expensive for her or her family to meet, but not too expensive for a stranger who has now inserted himself in this saga of a missing child.  California bounty hunter Leonard Padilla says he‘ll put up the money to get Casey out of jail. 

LEONARD PADILLA, BOUNTY HUNTER:  We‘re hoping that once she‘s out of custody, she‘ll be easier to talk to than she‘s been in custody.  

SANDERS:  The story of missing Caylee gets stranger by the day.  Caylee‘s

grandparents, Casey‘s mom and dad, have gone from sympathetic victims -

CINDY ANTHONY, CASEY ANTHONY‘S MOTHER:  Emotionally and physically, it‘s (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

SANDERS:  To protective parents -

CINDY ANTHONY:  They have been looking for Caylee as a missing child, so Casey doesn‘t have her.  So that just leaves the kidnappers.

SANDERS:  Angry players in the drama that seemingly have no answers. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All I can say is they‘re within reach.  They‘re very close. 

SANDERS:  Through it all, the one thing Orange County detectives always knew was where the toddler‘s mother was - behind bars, in jail.  Now, if as expected, she‘s bailed out, investigators say that will all change. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She is the last person that saw this child. 

SANDERS:  Kerry Sanders, NBC News, Orlando. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  This could be a major development in this case.  Joining me now is former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt, Florida prosecutor Pam Bondi, and defense attorney Nicole DeBorde. 

Clint, just reading what you‘ve been saying, you‘ve got steam coming out of your ears over this.

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER AND MSNBC ANALYST:  Yes, Dan.  It‘s coming out of every orifice on my body, Dan.  That‘s why I‘m rising up and down here. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  You need to know -

VAN ZANDT:  This guy - if you listen to Casey Anthony, every so often, she‘s going to say something that contains one grain of truth.  This bounty hunter has one grain of truth when he called himself - referred to himself as a media whore.  Dan, that‘s all this guy is.  He‘s going to have his own television show.  He‘s trying to be Dog the Bounty Hunter Two or Three and is using this missing child case that law enforcement, FBI - everybody else has thrown their resources in.  He‘s going to do a Waltzing Matilda now, come in and get plenty of air time to hype his TV show.  This is stupid, number one, that this guy‘s involved and number two, that we even talk about him instead of this missing little girl. 

ABRAMS:  And speaking of giving him air time, here‘s a little bit more from the bounty hunter.  I‘ll explain it in a minute.  Let‘s play what he said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PADILLA:  What if she has some feeling for the person that she handed the baby off to and now, she figures out (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with kidnapping.  I find it hard to believe that a mother of the three-year-old child would harm her. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER:  You‘ve never heard of mothers harming their children?

PADILLA:  Yes.  Yes.  But I still want to believe that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  He wants to believe it.  And the reason it‘s important to play this, Pam, is because this guy could very well be responsible for her being released from jail. 

PAM BONDI, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR:  Right.  Dan, we‘ve got a guy who has been to federal prison, a bounty hunter who is now basically going to become the guardian of woman who‘s clearly psychologically imbalanced and has been incredibly cavalier about her missing daughter. 

ABRAMS:  All right -

BONDI:  So, yes, the whole thing is outrageous and I agree that he‘s putting all this money up, not out of the goodness of his heart, but hopefully in his mind, to get a reality show. 

ABRAMS:  Nicole, as a defense attorney, I‘ve got to believe you‘ve got to have concerns about having some media-seeking bounty hunter be the guy who puts up the bond for your client‘s freedom. 

NICOLE DEBORDE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, you know, if this were my client, my first piece of information to her would be, “Don‘t necessarily trust this man just because he‘s making your bond.”  On the other hand, there‘s absolutely nothing wrong with him making this person‘s bond.  She‘s got a bond.  She‘s entitled to be out on bond, and there‘s no reason for everybody to be upset.  If the judge would have been legally allowed to keep her at no bond, he would have done that.  He‘s not allowed to keep her legally at no bond, and she‘s going to have a bond.  So maybe she will do something to lead people to this child.  Maybe she‘ll make a mistake that she hasn‘t made in custody and show us where the kid is.

ABRAMS:  I mean, it‘s just - You know, Clint, he said before, maybe she‘ll

be easier to talk to when she‘s not in custody anymore

VAN ZANDT:  Yes.  I mean, first, he said, “Well, she must have given the child to somebody.”  It was a bad drug deal and maybe she gave the child up as collateral.  I mean, the only bad drugs are maybe what this guy is smoking.  And the reality is, duh, the bounty hunter - you know, this is all about him.  I don‘t care that somebody makes the bond for her - I do care, but the reality is somebody can come forward.  But when they do it for their own personal gain, that‘s what drives me crazy. 

ABRAMS:  You know -

VAN ZANDT:  And when you‘ve got somebody pushing himself in between the investigators in the case itself, he doesn‘t belong there. 

ABRAMS:  Pam, I‘ve never seen - I don‘t remember this happening in other high profile cases.  I mean, I think it would happen more often to people who want a little media attention, put up some money.  I don‘t remember having this happen before. 

BONDI:  You know, Dan, I prosecuted Dwight Gooden, the baseball player, and people were coming forward trying to bond him out.  And he actually refused to accept the bond because he knew he needed to stay in jail and dry out.  And here, again, I don‘t know why her defense attorney would want her out under these conditions when this bounty hunter is saying he‘s going to be the one monitoring her 24 hours. 

ABRAMS:  Nicole, final ten seconds‘ thought.

DEBORDE:  She‘s allowed to have a bond. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

DEBORDE:  There‘s no reason everyone should be so upset about it.  A bond is not for punishing someone.  A bond is to make sure that a person shows back up in court, and that‘s it.  She‘s allowed to have a bond.

ABRAMS:  Well, so now, she‘s got - well, you know, look.  She‘s got a bounty hunter after her.  So if she flees anywhere, I guess he could go find her presumably.

Clint, Pam, Nicole, thanks a lot.  If you‘ve got any information, call the sheriff‘s 1-800-423-TIPS. 

Up next, for the first time, the breakfast of champions could feature two Olympic gymnasts, the gold and silver medal winners from these games and there is a reason for that that some may not agree.  Well, at least, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 

And look at this, two hours - the occupants in this plane dangling 100 feet above the ground.  They were rescued.  We‘ve got that coming up in 60 seconds. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Now to “Reality Bites,” a dose of reality caught on tape.  Look at this - a small plane clips a bunch of power lines and gets stuck.  The aircraft was about to land in Southern Germany when it ran into trouble.  Official decided a helicopter rescue was too risky, so they used a cherry picker instead.  The plane hung upside down for more than two hours before rescuers were able to bring the pilot and his passengers to safety.  No one suffered any serious injuries.  Be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Time now for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”  Our special Beijing Olympics edition.  Joining me again, the great Contessa Brewer.  Contessa.

CONTESSA BREWER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Dan, first up tonight, Russian American gymnast Nastia Liukin beat out her friend and U.S. teammate, Shawn Johnson for the gold medal in the all-around competition.  But the competition for the Wheaties box might even be tougher.  The “New York Post” citing sources close to the project say officials at General Mills are, quote, “still mulling over whether Shawn Johnson‘s image should grace the box along with Nastia Liukin‘s in a new cereal box that‘s expect to hit supermarkets by the end of the month.”  Now, on the one hand, I think BFFs - that‘s really cute on the Wheaties box.  But one the other hand, there‘s only one champion, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  I mean, what‘s the big deal about putting people on?  What am I missing?  I mean, everyone‘s - people are making a big controversy out of this because maybe they‘re speculating about all the different reasons for why they may not just want this one woman on, the gold medal winner.  So what if they have two?

BREWER:  Well, I‘ll tell you, because Nastia won.  She got gold and Shawn didn‘t.  And by the way, Nastia Liukin today tied for first place again to the thousandth‘s place with the Chinese athlete on the uneven bars and what do they do? They give it to the Chinese athlete. 

ABRAMS:  Wait.  What?

BREWER:  It‘s a complicated - I‘m she‘s already - she lost out on the gold. 

She should get the Wheaties box!

ABRAMS:  But wait a second.  Wheaties is like - I mean, it‘s a cereal. 

It‘s a company.  They‘re allowed to pick who they want ...

BREWER:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... on the box, can‘t they? 

BREWER:  They can.  And by the way, we reached out to them to see what might be behind this. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

BREWER:  Nobody answered.  I left voicemails.

ABRAMS:  No comment.  There was no comment today from the Wheaties company, from General Mills.

BREWER:  OK.  Next up, a Chinese Olympic hero and gold medal contender is out of the Olympics before he got the chance to race.  When Liu Xiang limped away from the tracks this weekend, sidelined by a hamstring injury, he looked like he was in a lot of pain.  But for the looks of things - look at this.  Nothing compared to the pain people of China were going through.  Tears all around.  This, of course, could have been China‘s best hope for a gold medal in track and field and it just vanished.  And according to the Associated Press, some of those seen crying, members of the Chinese media - journalists, crying. 

ABRAMS:  Oh, horrible.  Horrible that these objective journalists from

China were upset that one of their own is out.  I mean, what‘s - a lot of

people make some sort of a controversy about that.  Look, if there was some

great American Olympian who was suddenly out and he was a great American

hope and I saw some American -

BREWER:  You‘d cry.  You‘d cry like a little girl.

ABRAMS:  And I saw some American journalists crying, I‘d say, you know

what?  It‘s nice to see some honest emotion as opposed to this - well, you

know, we‘re going to - Look, are they really -

BREWER:  I get it.

ABRAMS:  Right?

BREWER:  Journalists - we‘re real people.  If you prick us, we bleed, too.

ABRAMS:  Right. 

BREWER:  I got that.

ABRAMS:  So, I mean, you‘re allowed to, like if you‘re an American journalist and you‘re talking about the Olympics, it‘s OK.

BREWER:  Maybe there are tears of people making fun of the journalists. 

OK, as always -

Next up, now that Michael Phelps has conquered the swimming world, he might take up competitive money making, experts saying his endorsement potential - experts like his manager, say his endorsement potential is as much as $40 million.  He already has ads in the works for Visa, a deal with Speedo, which means he picked up $1 million as a bonus for his performance at the Olympics.  He has a deal with Power Bar, and after his record-setting week at the Olympics, book and movie deals on the table as well.  I mean, the guy is a superstar.  Why not?

ABRAMS:  He‘s a huge (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  But look, He‘s a huge winner,

right?  You know, like when we say $40 million, it‘s almost like the Austin

Powers movies.  It‘s almost like, $40 million.  You know, it‘s sort of -

BREWER:  Now, you‘re on camera.  Can you give it to us once again?

ABRAMS:  All right.  Was it a pinkie or -

BREWER:  No, no.  I think it‘s the pinkie.

ABRAMS:  It was like $40 million.  I mean, the point is, in my view, it‘s sort of like you throw out a number, I would think this guys would be worth more than $40 million.  You know, like I don‘t know the number but he‘s got to be worth everything. 

BREWER:  It depends on if he can ask or not.  I mean, Lindsay Lohan is

already text messaging him.  Hollywood is begging for him -

ABRAMS:  Did Lindsay Lohan really text him? 

BREWER:  Yes, after he won.  And she said he was “bleeping” amazing. 

ABRAMS:  How did she get his get - how do you get his -

BREWER:  Billy Bush apparently hooked them up. 

ABRAMS:  Oh, is that.  Wow!

BREWER:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  That would make a nice story.

BREWER:  And Michael Phelps‘ mom not too happy about that.  She was like, delete, delete, delete.  “You don‘t talk like that to my son.  He‘s my baby boy.” 

ABRAMS:  Really.  And it‘s kind of like, you know, Lindsay Lohan -

BREWER:  She‘s hot.

ABRAMS:  Yes, she may be, but she is not good for business. 

Contessa, staying with us.  Up next, the other winners and losers of the day including John Mayer, patting himself on the back for not being tied down to Jennifer Aniston anymore.  Roseanne Barr fit to be tied over Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.  She‘s bashing them on her blog.  Or Tyra Banks, tied up backstage reportedly snacking and chatting with her crew, keeping her show‘s audience waiting two hours.  That‘s what the report said.

Plus, your E-mails.  We call it the “P.O.‘d Box.”  Be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back with the day‘s winners and losers, and once again, Contessa Brewer.  Contessa?

BREWER:  So Roseanne Barr is blog-bashing Brangelina?  How about that for alliteration?  The comedienne apparently so outraged that Angelina Jolie has not endorsed Barack Obama.  She is going after her and her husband on Roseanne‘s personal Web site.  She writes, quote, “Angelina Jolie and her vacuous hubby Brad Pitt make about $40 million a year and violent, psychopathic movies and give away three of it to starving children trying to look as if they give a crap about humanity as they spit out more dunces that will consume more than their fair share and wreck the earth even more.”

Hmm, is this really about Barack Obama or deeper issues?

ABRAMS:  She‘s “Roseanne, The Loser” here in my book, no doubt about it.  First of all - now, let‘s be honest.  The Angelina endorsement isn‘t going to make a difference, OK? 

BREWER:  Right.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s be clear about that. 

BREWER:  She is living in France right now.  

ABRAMS:  You know what she‘s saying - remember what she said?  She said, “I just want to take my time to evaluate both their position.  I mean, you know, look.  It‘s like these VP candidates all pretending that they don‘t want the job.  I mean, of course Brad and Angelina are going to support Barack Obama.  Is there any question in your mind?

BREWER:  And they‘re movie stars, therefore they must be liberal.

ABRAMS:  And they are definitely going to support Barack Obama.  I mean, you know, Roseanne, calm down.  

BREWER:  I think she was just on the publicity train - pick the biggest celebrities in the world.  Just latch on, baby. 

ABRAMS:  Right.

BREWER:  Maybe she can make a comeback.

ABRAMS:  She made into “Winners and Losers” ...

BREWER:  Hah!

ABRAMS:  ... which for any celebrity is enormous.  It‘s a career changer.  

BREWER:  Right.  Jen versus John in the battle of who dumped who.  Or is that whom?  John Mayer splitting - spinning his split with Jennifer Aniston over the weekend.  He‘s spout it off to a group of photographers.  He said, “I ended a relationship because there is no lying.  I ended a relationship because - “  He wants to be alone.  He says, “Because I don‘t want to waste somebody‘s time if something is not right.  I don‘t want to waste people‘s time.” 

ABRAMS:  What a jerk.

BREWER:  He went on to say that despite the rumors, there was no cheating.  But you know, friends of Jen say Mayer is not the stand-up guy he claims to be, that it was she who ended the relationship because of his, quote, “childish behavior.”

ABRAMS:  All right. 

BREWER:  Here‘s the thing - Can I tell you what I think?  He‘s A) confiding to a group of paparazzi.  B) What happened to “Her Body is a Wonderland?”

ABRAMS:  I mean - but you know what?  Let‘s even assume that he ended it, right? 

BREWER:  Right.

ABRAMS:  Because he wanted to be alone, you know.  Because he wasn‘t ready for a serious relationship.  Be a real guy and just say how great she is. 

BREWER:  Yes, just shut up.

ABRAMS:  Go out.  You know, have some class, man.  

BREWER:  It doesn‘t hurt him, because, you know, all the girls - the pretty

girls he‘s been in, you know -  

ABRAMS:  He‘s going to still get plenty of girls.  Have a little bit of self-confidence where you can say, “You know what?  She‘s terrific.  She‘s amazing.  It just didn‘t work out.” 

BREWER:  Right.

ABRAMS:  Why do you have to get like, “You know, I needed to be alone.  It wasn‘t going to happen”?

BREWER:  You know what?  He needs lessons in love from you, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  That‘s right.

BREWER:  Finally, Tyra Banks is reportedly dropping some diva behavior on her studio audience.  According to “Page Six,” the model-turned-talk show host kept fans of “The Tyra Banks Show” waiting to film for two hours while she chatted and joked with her staff backstage.  Angry audience members told the gossip column that they could hear Banks laughing behind the stage curtain. 

Well, they sat waiting.  We‘re showing you her with John Edwards, remember?  But reportedly, when Tyra finally emerged, she didn‘t even apologize.  She just ignored the crowd and wait straight into her script. 

You know, who‘s the loser here?  Who is complaining about this? You got to go for free to see a TV show?

ABRAMS:  And look, I like - I kind of like her show.  But I think it‘s

funny that of all the video we are showing, we are showing her with John

Edwards.  It feels like, you know -

BREWER:  That‘s what we have.

ABRAMS:  Oh, understand.  I‘m just saying that it kind of feels like we‘re

trying to stick it to her again, in a way, you know, by showing her, you

know, with John Edwards.  And, I don‘t know - 

BREWER:  Do you think so?

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know.

BREWER:  Well, I didn‘t buy - (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ABRAMS:  Did you pick the video?

BREWER:  No.  I think that that‘s what the editor found in the archives. 

He‘s like, “OK, Tyra and John Edwards.”  It works.  It‘s Tyra show.

ABRAMS:  Really?  Is she known as a diva?

BREWER:  Now, how would I know that?  Do I know her?  Am I known as a diva? 

ABRAMS:  No, you‘re not.

BREWER:  Here‘s what I do know.  If you don‘t chat and joke with the crew, things go haywire and then you‘re in trouble.  The screen‘s gone black and all that.

ABRAMS:  Well, I mean, Rob, you like me, right?  He said yes.  You could probably - I don‘t know if you could hear him. 

BREWER:  There‘s nobody in this room with me.

ABRAMS:  They love me, right?

BREWER:  They‘ve stuck me in this room.  Do you like me?  Echo, echo.  

ABRAMS:  All right.  Contessa, thank you.  

BREWER:  You‘re welcome.  

ABRAMS:  Wait.  I want you to stick around, though.  Time for the “P.O.‘d Box,” your chance to tell me what you hate or love about the show.  First up, a lot of opinion about Elizabeth Edwards‘ role in concealing her husband‘s infidelity during his presidential bid.

First Michael S. Sanders goes after me, “Your support of Mrs.  Edwards is stupefying.  Here is a woman with as much blind ambition as her husband who is willing to bring down the Democratic Party as well as cause turmoil in her country on the vague off chance that she would be first lady.” 

Michael, how do you know it‘s ambition as opposed to her desire or effort to keep her personal information personal, particularly for a woman fighting stage 4 cancer.  So is it so awful to give her the benefit of the doubt in that particular instance?

Mrs. Chen from Montclair, New Jersey says, “We the voters expect the truth from her as much as we expect the truth from her husband.”

You know, I get it.  I get what a big deal it would have been if John Edwards had been the nominee.  But just leave her alone.

Leah from Montgomery, Alabama, “Why do we always blame the woman for men‘s cheating and not the man himself?”

Contessa, what do you think of this? 

BREWER:  Why do we?  It‘s the man‘s fault.  It‘s always the man‘s fault.  

ABRAMS:  Do you think Elizabeth Edwards is to blame for not -

BREWER:  No, no, no.  In all seriousness, are you kidding me?  If that happens - the woman scorned.  Do you want the whole world to know?

ABRAMS:  All right. 

BREWER:  Come on.

ABRAMS:  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  You can E-mail us about the show, verdict@msnbc.com.  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  See you tomorrow. 

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

END   

W atch Verdict with Dan Abrams each weeknight at 9 p.m. ET

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