updated 8/22/2008 12:07:12 PM ET 2008-08-22T16:07:12

Guests: Contessa Brewer, Chuck Todd, Lee Cowan, Susan Filan, Tucker Carlson, Roy Sekoff, Catherine Crier

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Tonight on VERDICT: Barack Obama says he‘s decided who his running mate will be.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Ultimately, I tried to surround myself with people who are about getting the job done and not about ego, self-aggrandizement, getting their names in the press.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  But, he won‘t say who.  Could it be Kaine campaigning with Obama today, or Biden, or Bayh or could it be an even bigger surprise like Hillary Clinton?  Politics favorite guessing game is down to the wire.       

And, John McCain couldn‘t even guess how many homes he owns when a reporter asked him.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think, I‘ll have my staff get to you, talk to you about that.  (INAUDIBLE).  It‘s condominiums ownership, further, I‘ll have them get to you.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The answer is nine houses on seven properties.  The Obama campaign smelled blood and went after McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR:  And here‘s one house America can‘t afford to let John McCain move into.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Will this gaffe stick?

Then, Bush League Justice.  A new report says President Bush‘s so-called “signing statements” are secretly changing laws passed by Congress.  And here‘s a shocker—this president has used them more than any other.

Plus: Today‘s Winners and Losers.  Microsoft hires Jerry Seinfeld to sell their stuff, but can they can be as cool as the iPod?  Will this be an ad campaign about nothing?

And, Jessica Simpson strikes back, saying her boyfriend, Dallas Cowboy‘s quarterback, Tony Romo, most certainly does not secretly called his ex, Carrie Underwood.  And how does she know?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSICA SIMPSON, CELEBRITY SINGER:  I looked at his call logs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Penalty for invasion of privacy. And, a penalty for this Olympian‘s celebration.  The fastest man in history and he‘s named Bolt.  How can you criticize him?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE) this man will never stop, look at him -

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And why is this man dancing tonight?  Because the final episode of VERDICT starts now.

Hi, everyone.  Welcome to the show.

Breaking news tonight: Senator Barack Obama says he‘s made his pick for his vice presidential running mate.  Reporters and supporters have their cell phones and BlackBerrys ready, all waiting for the first word on the choice.

Today, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine introduced Obama at a town hall event, while the political paparazzi trailed senators Biden and Bayh all day for any sign that they‘re Obama‘s pick.  And Senator Hillary Clinton made her first campaign appearance in Florida in support of Obama.

Let‘s bring in NBC News political director, Chuck Todd.  He joins us on the phone.

All right, Chuck, you heard that quote a moment ago from Barack Obama where he says, “I tried to surround myself with people who are about getting the job done and who were not about ego, self-aggrandizement, getting their name in the press,” doesn‘t that rule out some of the candidates?

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR (through phone):  You should rule out the entire United States Senate actually.  But, hey, he has brought in the verdict, right?  We‘re just waiting for—we‘re just waiting for him to actually unveil what the verdict is.

ABRAMS:  But is there any -

TODD:  So, appropriately named tonight.

ABRAMS:  Yes, can we read anything into that?  I mean, can we say that, you know, that maybe doesn‘t look as good for Joe Biden, for example?

TODD:  But I tell you, that quote made it seemed like it didn‘t look good for Joe Biden and then what he told “USA Today” was he likes people that will be open, you know, they don‘t mind disagreeing with him in public or will do that, so then, all of a sudden, I said, well, maybe that is Joe Biden.  You know, that certainly isn‘t Evan Bayh.  Evan Bayh is a guy who is very quiet about what he disagrees or, you know, do what he says and, you know, go along, get along type of guy.

So, I don‘t know.  I know that some folks want to read into the ego comment and assume that it‘s, you know, no way it‘s Biden.  But I‘ll tell you, if you want to just read the body language of the three candidates that we have under surveillance, a lot of people (ph) -- political paparazzi today said, it is, but (INAUDIBLE) feel like, I think, you know, there are grilling (ph) questions, have we become TMZ for politics or something.

ABRAMS:  Yes.

TODD:  But Biden‘s acting like a guy who‘s preparing for a—you know, being away from home for 60 days.  He‘s, you know, was in and out of the bank today, doing all these things, his family was all over, all this stuff.  Evan Bayh is not acting like a guy who‘s preparing to change his life for the next 60 days.  And Tim Kaine is not acting like a guy who‘s preparing to change his life for the next 60 days.

ABRAMS:  Chuck, do we know if Obama has told the candidates, the V.P. pick that it is him or her?

TODD:  Look, everything, I understand, is that they were going to avoid telling the candidate that it‘s him or her until the very last minute before that text message goes out.  They are very determined, they know that they won‘t leak; they don‘t know that the V.P. guy won‘t leak.

ABRAMS:  Well, that‘s not a good start, is it?

TODD:  No, but the bottom line is that—that‘s when things always leak.

ABRAMS:  Yes.

TODD:  I can tell you that you ask Andrea Mitchell where she‘s gotten half the time that she—when she breaks these things, they come from the candidates who got the call, not from the campaign who have gotten good at keeping things from leaking.  So, they‘re very prepared, they are obsessed with making this text message thing work.

ABRAMS:  Chuck Todd, thanks a lot, appreciate it.

TODD:  You got it.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s turn now to what has become a major gaffe by John McCain today during an interview with Politico.com.  McCain‘s stumble over a simple question about how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own.  That hesitation unleashed an all-out warfare on the campaign trail.

NBC‘s Lee Cowan recaps the fireworks for us.

Hey, Lee.

LEE COWAN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Dan, actually, the answer was pretty surprising.  Essentially, John McCain said he didn‘t know how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, actually owned.  And that was an answer the Obama campaign quickly predicted would be pretty tough for working middle-class families to understand.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COWAN (voice-over):  It‘s John McCain‘s personal housing crisis.  During an interview with Politico.com, he seemed not to be sure just how many homes he and his wife actually own.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, POLITICO)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How many houses do you and Mrs. McCain have?

MCCAIN:  I think, I‘ll have my staff get to you, talk to you about that.  (INAUDIBLE).  It‘s condominiums ownership, further, I‘ll have them get to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

COWAN:  In fact, he and his wife, Cindy, own seven properties in three states, including the one in Sedona, Arizona, where he‘s currently on vacation.

For Barack Obama today in Virginia, it was all too good to resist.

OBAMA:  If you don‘t know how many houses you have, then it‘s not surprising that you might think the economy was fundamentally strong.  But if you‘re like me and you got one house, or you were like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so they don‘t lose their home, you might have a different perspective.

COWAN:  His staff jump under to action, too, releasing a hurriedly-produced TV ad entitled “Seven,” criticizing McCain as an elitist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR:  And here‘s one house America can‘t afford to let John McCain move into.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COWAN:  A McCain spokesman shot back in a statement saying, quote, “Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year—and bought his one million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon, really want to get into a debate about houses?”

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COWAN:  The “Who‘s more out of touch” game is something Hillary Clinton used quite a bit during the primaries, and, in fact, she used it pretty successful against Barack Obama himself.  Today, though, she was in Florida campaigning for him, instead—Dan.

ABRAMS:  Thanks, Lee.

Here now: Roy Sekoff, founding editor of the “Huffington Post”; and, MSNBC political analyst, Joe Watkins.

Roy, is this the defining moment of the campaign?

ROY SEKOFF, THE HUFFINGTON POST:  (AUDIO BREAK) but I think it a little bit like George Bush with the supermarket scanner.  And let me tell you why, the reason is that it fits to the narrative that‘s been building already.

You know, that McCain is out of touch with the number one concern of the American people which is the economy.  I mean, on Sunday he said that you‘re rich if you make $5 million a year.  We had Phil Gramm saying it‘s all in our heads, that we‘re a bunch of whiners.  He didn‘t know how much gas costs.

So, I think, because it fits into a narrative that‘s working, that‘s why it‘s going to resonate.

ABRAMS:  Joe, I want to ask you if it‘s fair to call this playing the POW card, alright in response to this, and I want to ask you if that‘s an unfair characterization.

Here‘s what McCain spokesperson said, “The reality is they have some investment properties and stuff.  It‘s not as if he lives in 10 houses, this is a guy who lived in one house for 5 ½ years—in prison.”

JOE WATKINS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  That‘s very, very fair.  I mean, everybody knows that John McCain is a patriot and it‘s not unusual for people to have rental properties or investment properties.  Lots of Americans do.

ABRAMS:  Really?  Lots of Americans have nine properties and nine houses?

WATKINS:  But if I was Barack Obama—I agree—if I was Barack Obama, I wouldn‘t get into this argument with John McCain, who‘s an American hero.  He has one house, that‘s over $1 million and he bought his house with the help of a convicted felon, with Tony Rezko.  And nobody wants to make an issue of that.  And I don‘t think it needs to be a huge issue, but people need to consider the fact that if you‘re talking about houses and how you got them, he got his house with the help of Tony Rezko.

SEKOFF:  But, Joe, let‘s go back to the POW question that Dan asked and that really has become the default answer to everything, it sort of like shades of Rudy Giuliani—a noun, a verb, POW.

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS:  (INAUDIBLE) in 1982, during a great congressional debate

where somebody was saying, you know, where do you live and how long have

you lived here?  And he said, “You know what, the longest place I‘ve lived

is the Hanoi Hilton.”  I mean, you know -

(CROSSTALK)

SEKOFF:  But he‘s using it, claiming everything.

ABRAMS:  But claiming, yes, but claiming that the Hanoi Hilton is a

sort of a residence and then -

WATKINS:  Well, it was—it was for John McCain for five years.

ABRAMS:  Well, I understand, but therefore relevant to a discussion

of how wealthy he is.  I mean, what connection -

WATKINS:  Well, it‘s his wife‘s wealth.  You got to realize, I mean, it‘s fair for somebody to not know exactly how all the money -

ABRAMS:  Really?

WATKINS:  Absolutely.  To not know how all the money has been and how many properties -

ABRAMS:  You‘re a seasoned political analyst, alright?

WATKINS:  I‘m a seasoned political guy.  I‘m also a former financial guy.  So, I understand this.

ABRAMS:  You‘re going to tell me that it is normal, that everyday Americans will just accept the fact, you know, people don‘t know how many properties they own.  It gets confusing, you lose track?  Really?

WATKINS:  No, I‘m say that somebody with a portfolio, especially

with his wife‘s portfolio, because, I mean, I thought that Barack Obama was

not going to attack Senator McCain‘s wife.  I mean, Senator McCain -

(CROSSTALK)

SEKOFF:  But he couldn‘t even come close, Joe.  I mean, he couldn‘t even come close he had to consult his staff?

WATKINS:  This is John McCain‘s wife who owns the properties and Barack Obama is attacking John McCain‘s wife.  John McCain told people to lay off Barack Obama‘s wife.  I think that Barack Obama and the writings (ph), would be the same.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me ask you this, Roy, this is, again—this is from the McCain camp saying, “A McCain campaign official,” in “The Atlantic,” “said that the decision to go Rezko was Obama‘s.  ‘He‘s opened the door to this,‘ the official said.  Even Obama‘s former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright is now fair game.”

What do you make of it?

SEKOFF:  Yes.  That‘s what it took.  It took Obama saying this to open that door.  Yes, they never would have opened the Rezko door.  They never would have opened the Reverend Wright door.

WATKINS:  Well, Hillary Clinton was the one -

SEKOFF:  You know, wait, hold on a second here.

WATKINS:  Hillary was the one that opened the Rezko door if you all recall.

SEKOFF:  That‘s right.  That‘s right.  She did and it‘s already been played out and voters voted for Barack Obama.

WATKINS:  He just got convicted this past spring and people really want to know the depth of their relationship.  I mean, Barack Obama, the only way he could buy the house was to get the help of somebody else to buy the property next door.

SEKOFF:  So, does that open the Keating Five door as well, Joe?

WATKINS:  Well -

SEKOFF:  Has the Keating Five door swung open now?

WATKINS:  The book is still open on Tony Rezko.  I mean, he has been convicted of fraud.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s play the two ads.  Here, this is the Obama ad first

about—all right, I‘m supposed to go to McCain.  This is first the Obama

no, this is the McCain response to the Obama ad I‘m going to play in a second.

       

SEKOFF:  Right.

ABRAMS:  To Obama first, OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)

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

NARRATOR:  Maybe you‘re struggling just to pay the mortgage on your home, but recently, John McCain said the fundamentals of our economy are strong.

Then, again, that same day when asked how many houses he owns, McCain lost track.  He couldn‘t remember.  Well, it‘s seven—seven houses.

And here‘s one house America can‘t afford to let John McCain move into.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR:  Barack Obama knows a lot about housing problems.  One of his biggest fundraisers helped him buy his million-dollar mansion, purchasing part of the property he couldn‘t afford.  From Obama, Rezko got political favors, including $14 million from taxpayers.

Now, he‘s a convicted felon facing jail.  That‘s a housing problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  You know, I just love the fact that both sides decided to stay civil and that there‘s going to be no negative campaigning.

(LAUGHTER)

SEKOFF:  That‘s right.

ABRAMS:  And, you know, that‘s, you know, now that this is the last day of the show, here‘s my next career may be in doing the voiceovers, haunting voiceover.  Tony Rezko was a man who - you know, like these voices.

SEKOFF:  Part of the property, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Right.

SEKOFF:  Which part of the property?

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  All right.  Very quickly, yes or no, is this more than a one-day story, Roy Sekoff?

SEKOFF:  Yes, it will because it fits the narrative.

ABRAMS:  Joe?

WATKINS:  Two-day story.

ABRAMS:  Roy Sekoff, Joe Watkins, gentlemen, thank you.

WATKINS:  Thanks, Dan.

SEKOFF:  Dan, always good.

WATKINS:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up: The final installment of Bush League Justice and new reports says President Bush‘s signing statements are secretly changing laws passed by Congress.  Surprise, surprise, he‘s used more than any other president.

And, from the “Thrilla on the Grilla (ph)” with boxing promoter Don King, to my primping to get ready for an interview with Miss Puerto Rico, we take a look back at the best of VERDICT.

We‘re back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Tonight‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington.  In 2003, the Department of Homeland Security warned about phone system‘s vulnerabilities.  So then how and why did the FEMA phone system get breached over the weekend and it was by a hacker who racked up $12,000 in long distance calls and, apparently, it was a, quote, “low-tech hacker.”  And, 400 calls were made to Middle Eastern countries like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

You can‘t make this stuff up.  It is, though, another reason Why America Hates Washington.

We‘re back with more on the Bush administration‘s attempts to circumvent the laws of Congress.  The final edition of Bush League Justice is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Welcome back.

More Bush League Justice tonight: A brand-new report from the House Armed Services Committee skewers the Bush administration over its unprecedented use of so-called signing statements.  Since he took office, President Bush has been regularly attaching conditions to laws already passed by Congress, allowing him to essentially circumvent the will of Congress and dramatically expand the president‘s power.

The report found, quote, “This president has issued a significantly larger percentage of signing statements, challenging or objecting to various provisions of the law.  Seventy-eight percent of President Bush‘s signing statements have raised constitutional or legal objections compared with only 18 percent of all of President Clinton‘s.”

Joining me now is Catherine Crier, a former judge; and back with us is, Roy Sekoff.

Catherine, this is a big deal.

CATHERINE CRIER, FORMER JUDGE:  It‘s a very big deal.  I actually had a chance to interview Sandra Day O‘Connor shortly after she left the bench and I asked her specifically about signing statements.  She wouldn‘t give me an advisory opinion, but she made it clear, number one, it has never come before the Supreme Court, and, number two, that she had a lot of questions about them.

Legislation is the legislative branch‘s function.  Review is the judiciary‘s branch‘s function.  And the executive branch can‘t go manipulating the laws.  I think if it ever came before the Supreme Court, we‘d get a very definitive opinion that this is not appropriate.

ABRAMS:  Let me—I‘m going to read an example of what the law was and then what Bush‘s signing statements did to undermine the law.  Now, this is, basically, a signing statement which reduces the impact of law to protect whistle-blowers, all right?

“The Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and its contractors may not fire or otherwise punish an employee whistle-blower who tells Congress about possible wrongdoing.”  All right, pretty clear.

Well, here‘s what Bush adds to it, right?  The law gets passed, then the president signs it and he adds this to it.  He says, “The president or his appointees will determine whether employees of the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can give information to Congress.”

I mean, Catherine, that essentially says—whatever is in the law, don‘t really pay attention to it because we decide what they can or can‘t say.

CRIER: And the biggest problem with it, Dan, is the fact that the president is then directing the agency affected by the law how to act.  And unless there comes time that the issue is then confrontable by Congress or the courts, he can go on directing this sort of behavior indefinitely.  That‘s what‘s occurred during this administration.

So you have to have a confrontation of sorts over mis-execution of the law to bring it to the force, so the American people, oftentimes Congress, don‘t really know how these laws are being executed, certainly contrary to the intent of the legislature.

ABRAMS:  You know, Roy, why not more outrage on this topic?

SEKOFF:  Well, that‘s the other thing about this, Dan.  I mean, the hard thing to stomach is yet another hard-hitting congressional report with no teeth to it.  I mean, they tell us something we already know, and it‘s like, you know, they‘ve done all these horrible things, they subverted the Constitution, and we‘re going to do about it—we‘re going to issue reports saying they subverted the Constitution.

So, it‘s sort of another—yet another reason Why America Hates Washington.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  Catherine, what should they do?  What should Congress—I mean, this is outrageous.  What should Congress do?

CRIER:  Well, you would think there would be an avenue either through an investigative committee dealing with the specific legislation.  You know, something to say—if the agencies are not enacting this legislation as they have been directed, that there is a means by which to ensure that occurs.  And unless they find a case specifically that could go to the courts, you‘re never going to have a judicial determination, which is pretty difficult when you‘re dealing with sort of a political question in this fashion.

But I would think you could find legislation that has been specifically manipulated that would give rise to that (INAUDIBLE).

SEKOFF:  But, you know, the -

ABRAMS:  Real quick, Roy.

SEKOFF:  The big picture here, Dan, is that George Bush came to town promising to change the culture of Washington, and, in fact, he has—for the worse.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  Yes.

Catherine Crier and Roy Sekoff, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

CRIER:  Thanks.

SEKOFF:  (INAUDIBLE) deals, Dan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (rap singing):  Tell me what is your name?

KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH STRATEGIST:  M.C. Rove.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Since this is the final episode of VERDICT, I‘m guessing, this man, Karl Rove, is probably dancing, celebrating.  We launched the Bush League Justice Series back in December based on my outrage of how the Bush administration politicized the usually apolitical Justice Department, and along the way, expanded its power at the cost of our system of checks and balances.

Since then, we have uncovered and exposed many of the most egregious actions of this administration as it relates to the Justice Department, which brings us back to Mr. Rove.  For months, he has refused to answer questions both from me and, more importantly, under oath from Congress about what role, if any, he played in the U.S. attorney scandal and/or the prosecution of a prominent former Democratic governor.

Well, the courts have now ruled against the White House and, indirectly, therefore, Mr. Rove.  So, while Congress may be unable or unwilling to hold him accountable, Rove may not remain immune for long—that would mean we could finally learn who was the driving force behind Bush League Justice.

Coming up, Michael Phelps may be in the history books, but Mark Spitz still thinks he could swim as fast as Phelps.  It‘s tonight‘s Winners and Losers.

And our favorite Beat the Press moments.  From the scientist who drank a filthy jar of water by accident to the CNN correspondent with an Academy Award-winning performance in a river of jumping fish.  It‘s next in Beat the Press.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s Beat the Press.  This will be our final look back at the absurd and amusing perils of live TV.

First up: These are our favorites.  ABC News interviewed a scientist back in April about cleaning dirty drinking water.  They brought a jar of filthy water to demonstrate a technique use to filter it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MONEY MATTERS”/ABC NEWS NOW)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  As you can see, this is removing the dirt and the worms and it‘s killing the bacteria and the viruses.  We let it settle and then we pour it through the a cloth and 20 minutes later it‘s safe to drink.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And, at the end of the interview, he demonstrated just how safe the filtered water was to drink but watch the glasses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ANCHOR:  All right, Greg.  I got to leave, thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And, if I will show you -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ANCHOR:  Very quickly, OK, that‘s great.  Thank you.  And that is “Money Matters” for now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Oh, he drank the wrong glass.  I can‘t get enough of that one.

Next up: FOX News anchor, Steve Doocy, apparently, was not really listening during a newsbreak last May.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ANCHOR:  California police say they‘ll check for mechanical problems in a golf cart that went off a cliff near San Diego killing its driver yesterday.  How scary, those are your headlines at this hour.  Let‘s go back to Gretchen and Steve.

STEVE DOOCY, FOX ANCHOR:  I think he‘s lucky to be alive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ANCHOR:  He‘s not alive.

DOOCY:  Oh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Now to a CNN piece from last June on out of control fish in the Illinois River.  The highlight real (ph) included there intrepid reporter braving the elements and the fish on this dangerous hunt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CNN)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (on camera):  When these fish were small, people, thought this was funny, but now that they‘re - oh, 10 and 20 pounds, they can hit you and really do some serious harm.

(voice over):  And just a few seconds later I find out the hard way.

(on camera):  Oh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There we go.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (on camera):  That hurt.

(voice over):  That wouldn‘t be the only one.

(on camera):  Oh!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  It turned out, though, it wasn‘t exactly fish in their real, natural habitat either.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (voice over):  Watch what happens when these devices deliver a small electric shock to the water.

(on camera):  Holy cow.  Oh, man.  We‘ve got a boat full of fish.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  A small electric shock to the water—might jump out of your home, too, if it was electrocuted.

Finally: Last year, some viewers pointed out how a certain talking head used the same phrase over and over and over.  This next clip is from one night on the same show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Britney Spears calls him up and says, you know what?

Doctor, anybody could say, you know what?

Then they said, you know what?

That you know what?

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  And say, you know what?

Because, you know what?

       

All right.  You know what?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I‘m going to continue saying it.  I think there were more

than that actually in the clip, and, anyway -

Up next: The International Olympic Committee is a little upset at the gold winning Jamaican sprinter‘s reaction to his victory.  It‘s in Winners and Losers.

And later: A look back at the year in the life of the show.  The best of VERDICT, including me getting ready for my big interview with Miss Puerto Rico—coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Welcome back.  We‘re back for our final edition of “Winners and Losers.”  And what is “Winners and Losers” these days without the great Contessa Brewer?  Contessa?

Whoa.  Hang on, Contessa, we‘re having audio problems.  Apparently, when they heard that the show was going to end, today, they sent the main audio guy out for a break and if you don‘t worry about it, we‘ll just have levers available, so someone‘s just hanging out in there.  I‘m sorry, Contessa, would you like to start again?

CONTESSA BREWER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Let‘s do it again.  First up -

ABRAMS:  Let me do it again.  Hang on.  Now it‘s time for our final edition of “Winners and Losers” and, once again, here‘s the great Contessa Brewer. 

BREWER:  I can hear that twice, three times, whatever. 

A two-time gold medal winner in trouble with Olympic officials.  Jamaica‘s Usain Bolt got the gold in both the 100 and 200 meter finals and set new world records in both.  So afterwards, what did he do?  Oh, he did some celebrating.  It looked like a lot of fun to the audience.  They were whooping it up, hooting and hollering. 

But not cool according to the president of the International Olympics Committee who told reporters, quote, “That‘s not the way we perceive being a champion.  I have no problem with him doing a show, but I think he should have more respect for his competitors.”.  

ABRAMS:  You know, be quiet, all right? 

BREWER:  Have you ever seen an NFL game?

ABRAMS:  I mean, you know, unlucky - he won.  He‘s just doing a little -

BREWER:  Happy dance.  

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know.  It didn‘t bother me.  I mean, the guy said - the president of the IOC said, “I understand the joy, but the way it was perceived was, ‘Catch me if you can.‘  You don‘t do that.  But he‘ll learn.  He‘s still a young man.”  Whatever. 

BREWER:  I didn‘t get that. 

OK.  Next up, speaking of sportsmanship, the Mark Spitz-Michael Phelps fantasy grudge match is on.  Spitz held the record, seven gold medals from a single Olympics in 1972 - there he is, the man - until Michael Phelps came along unseating him with eight wins in Beijing.  But Spitz refuses to be beaten.  He tells “The New York Daily News,” quote, “People that are great have a common thread of knowing how to beat their competitors.  If that‘s the case, I‘d know everything about how to beat Michael.  He‘d also know everything to beat me.  We‘d have to tie.”

ABRAMS:  Now, I know this is heresy because you‘re not allowed to say anything which suggests that Michael Phelps is not the greatest Olympian of all time.

BREWER:  Or athlete - the greatest athlete of all time.

ABRAMS:  Right - or athlete.  Why is it not possible that if Mark Spitz

wore one of the great Speedo bathing suits that‘s available these days

that, you know - maybe, who knows?  I don‘t know.  Maybe it could have

given - 

BREWER:  Well, I‘ll tell you why.  We know this won‘t happen because he had the mustache at the time and the mustache would have slowed him down. 

ABRAMS:  That‘s a great point.  Let‘s a great point.  Let‘s bring in our good friend, MSNBC senior legal analyst, Susan Filan.  This is not a legal issue, but we just wanted to say hi to Susan. 

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST:  Hey, Dan.  Hey, Contessa.  

ABRAMS:  Hi, Susan.  Do you have any thoughts about Mark Spitz versus Phelps? 

FILAN:  I loved it.  I loved it.  When I first heard it, I thought, “Oh, my gosh.  That is so arrogant.”  And then I thought, “He‘s absolutely right.  If you‘re really an Olympian, you‘re an athlete, you‘re a competitor, you are going to know everything about your opponent and you are going to know how to beat him.”  I loved his spirit, still fighting, still going strong, still believing.  I loved his confidence. 

ABRAMS:  Susan, did you put on your best Woodstock outfit for us for tonight? 

(LAUGHTER)

Sorry, go ahead.  Contessa?

BREWER:  Oh, keep us (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ABRAMS:  She‘s right.

BREWER:  OK.  Next up, Jessica Simpson turns up the heat in her ongoing boyfriend battle with Carrie Underwood.  The country crooner and “American Idol” alum told “Allure” magazine her ex-boyfriend, Tony Romo, still calls her sometimes.  Jessica Simpson, Romo‘s current girlfriend, begs to differ.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  Carrie just told like, “Allure” magazine that Tony still calls her or anything like that.  What do you think?

JESSICA SIMPSON, SINGER AND REALITY TV STAR:  Yes.  Tony and I both laughed at that. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  Did you, really?

SIMPSON:  Yes.  We had a chuckle out of it. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  So it‘s not true, you think?

SIMPSON:  No, I know it‘s not. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, definitely cool. 

SIMPSON:  Definitely.  I looked at his call log. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BREWER:  Oh, Jessica, you‘re not supposed to admit that the way you know your boyfriend is not calling his ex-girlfriend is that you‘re going through his call log.  That is considered like stalker behavior. 

ABRAMS:  Susan, isn‘t the right answer here, “You know what, I don‘t - let her call him if she wants to.”  Right?

FILAN:  The right answer is basically - don‘t talk about your love life on the radio.  I mean - and to say I peeked on to my - sneaked on to see if he‘s cheating on me.  There‘s a lot of trust in that relationship.  

BREWER:  You know what?  What else is she going to talk about other than her relationship?  Come on.

ABRAMS:  Who, Jessica Simpson?

BREWER:  Yes.

FILAN:  Not much of a relationship.  

BREWER:  Exactly.  Oh, whatever.

Next, Microsoft really wants to be one of the cool kids.  The company‘s sick of losing the hipster ad wars to Apple, so Microsoft is launching a $300 million ad campaign to counteract those popular Mac commercials. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR 1:  Hello, I‘m a Mac -

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR 2:  And I‘m free pizza.  

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR 1:  OK.  What are you doing in a pizza box?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR 2:  I‘m trying to catch a college student.  You‘re the number one notebook on college campuses. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR 1:  OK.  Well, good luck.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BREWER:  You know, the Mac guy has become a big celebrity.  Guess who Microsoft is getting - a real big celebrity, Jerry Seinfeld, “Wall Street Journal” reporting Seinfeld will get $10 million for peddling PCs.  And here‘s one weird thing, you guys.  Seinfeld‘s alter ego was an Apple customer in the corner of Jerry‘s Manhattan apartment on the show, “Seinfeld.”  That looks like a Mac. 

ABRAMS:  But also, I‘m a huge Seinfeld fan, all right?  Let me make that clear right away.  But I‘m not the target audience, all right?  It‘s younger people.  And I don‘t know that Jerry‘s got the juice with the generation - what is it, Y?

BREWER:  No.  It‘s younger than that.  Generation Y is like 28 now. 

FILAN:  I just think he‘s so funny.  I think people are going to relate to him.  And I think it‘s OK to switch. 

ABRAMS:  To switch to what?

FILAN:  From one - from Apple to what he‘s promoting now.  What‘s the difference?  Who cares?

ABRAMS:  How much did Susan get paid for that endorsement?

BREWER:  Not enough.  Finally, is Oprah Winfrey sick of being a cover girl?  The “New York Post” reporting today that posing for the cover of her magazine “O” every month has become tiresome.  An unnamed source is quoted in the paper saying, “Oprah has told the editors at ‘O‘ magazine she‘s tired of being on the cover every month.  It‘s a pain.  It takes a lot of time and energy and she‘s sick of it.  She‘s given them six months to figure out what to do without her.” 

Now, see, this is the problem.  If you name your magazine after

yourself, you‘re expected to be on the cover.  If she named it something

else like -

ABRAMS:  Well, I have a Web magazine called “Contessa” and every week, it shows up with a different shot of Contessa Brewer off the air. 

BREWER:  Oh, really?  What do you have for me?  What do you have in store, Dan?

ABRAMS:  I just get my latest Contessa Brewer update and it doesn‘t mean just like the funny blunders and stuff.  It means like everything, like good stuff, too. 

BREWER:  Oh, really?

ABRAMS:  Yes.  It‘s a whole range.

BREWER:  You have to share this with me some time.  I might have to veto some of the items - what did you say the name of it was?

ABRAMS:  The “Contessa” magazine. 

BREWER:  Look, it‘s enough of a name to me.

ABRAMS:  Susan Filan, you want to say a final thought?

FILAN:  I can say relate to Oprah.  I mean, hair and makeup is a total drag.  I get what she‘s coming from.  She needs a break.  

ABRAMS:  All right.  Contessa, later. 

BREWER:  Later, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Susan, see you.  

FILAN:  Bye, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Up next, we‘ll look back at our favorite moments from the past year, including this one.  My producers actually got me to dress up as Harry Potter.  It‘s their favorite moment.

And a jeep ends up in a pool after a police chase.  “Reality Bites” coming up in 60 seconds.   

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Now, to “Reality Bites,” a dose of reality caught on tape.  Tonight‘s, to Lowell, Massachusetts, where a police chase ended with a splash.  Police were pursuing a man who allegedly broke into a store and made off with two flat screen TVs.  The suspect‘s car went careening through a fence and into a local family‘s pool.  When the man surfaced, he tried to swim away, but police fished him out of the water and arrested him.  No one was injured.  Be right back.     

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Welcome back.  This is the last episode of VERDICT.  From “LIVE WITH DAN ABRAMS” to VERDICT, we tried to bring you both sides of serious issues and not so serious ones.  Tonight, we‘ve got a look back at some of the best. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(on camera):  Tonight we begin our week-long series, “Bush League Justice,” an investigation about the Bush administration, its politicized Justice Department in an effort to expand its own power.  Just over a week ago, an Appeals Court stepped in and released Siegelman while he appeals.  Governor, thanks very much for taking the time.  We appreciate it. 

DON SIEGELMAN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALABAMA:  Hello, Dan.  Thank you.  I want to thank you and commend you and encourage you for stepping out and for your boldness.  And I also want to ask that you continue this fight until we find out who hijacked the Department of Justice. 

ABRAMS:  Breaking tonight, Congress may be prepared to subpoena Karl Rove in connection with the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.  At issue - whether Siegelman was prosecuted on corruption charges because he‘s a Democrat, and was Karl Rove behind that prosecution?  Stunningly, his lawyer Robert Luskin is blaming us. 

Mr. Luskin, if you or Mr. Rove want to change your mind about testifying, you‘re more than entitled to do so, that‘s your decision.  But, please, do not falsely accuse us of taking anything out of context as you now have multiple times.  There was no ambiguity in our E-mail exchange. 

Welcome to our after-hours coverage of the Indiana-North Carolina primaries.  We‘ve got a great panel.  We‘ve got a lot of coffee.  We‘ve got furniture being moved around.  We‘ve got a band setting up for us, literally.  And we are covering a big night for Barack Obama. 

REP. JACK KINGSTON ®, CONGRESSMAN FROM GEORGIA:  You listen to why he doesn‘t wear an American flag button, it‘s a very convoluted answer.  I think this questions aren‘t off limits.

ABRAMS:  Congressman, first, let me ask you - you‘re not wearing a lapel pin, are you?

KINGSTON:  I will wear one and I have worn one.  I‘m not making a statement about it.

ABRAMS:  But do you see my point?

KINGSTON:  And Dan, I‘ll bring one to you next (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ABRAMS:  I had no idea you were going to show up without a lapel pin, but it seems kind of absurd that you‘re saying that Barack Obama‘s patriotism should be questioned because he‘s not wearing a lapel pin.  And then you come on the show not wearing one. 

ABRAMS (voice over):  Jake Bird, who puzzled and fooled everyone outside O.J.‘s hearing today turns out he wasn‘t just an O.J. fan; he‘s a professional prankster.  

YALE GALANTER, O.J. SIMPSON‘S ATTORNEY:  My only focus up to this point in time has been securing Mr. Simpson‘s release. 

JAKE BIRD, PRANKSTER:  Nice work, dude.  Up high. 

ABRAMS:  How did you get so close up there?  Did you plan it?  Did you think, “I‘ve got to get as close as possible?”

BIRD:  The thing is, if you want to go up and you want to stand with the legal dream team for O.J. Simpson, you‘ve got to look like you belong on the legal dream team of O.J. Simpson, Dan Abrams. 

Americans certainly think this whole thing is a joke, Dan Abrams.  If this was an O.J. joke, I would say, what is O.J.‘s favorite soda?  Sprite.  But it‘s not a joke, OK?  

ABRAMS (on camera):  Beyond the whole thing with Jon Benet, you can understand, right, you‘re out publicly admitting that you were involved in the death of a six-year-old and you married these very young girls and I and at the very least, you come off as kind of creepy.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s your opinion.  I don‘t come off kind of creepy to the people that love me.  

ABRAMS:  I sat down with Miss Puerto Rico and, first, I wanted to be prepared. 

(VIDEO OF DAN ABRAMS WORKING OUT)

So, how long have you been a beauty queen? No, no.  So, when did you get into the pageant business?  Would you ever think of moving to New York?  You definitely staying in Puerto Rico?

Hola.  Me llamo Dan. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Dan, she‘s here.  We‘ve got to go. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Dan, I think you‘re going to need this research.  Can you take this with you?

DANNY BONADUCE, ACTOR:  So now, I have decided I‘m going to support Hillary Clinton. 

ABRAMS:  This is the first announcement, right?  Up to this point, no candidate ...

BONADUCE:  No candidate. 

ABRAMS:  ... has gotten the blessing of Danny Bonaduce. 

BONADUCE:  :  No.  Because if you really like a candidate, you want to keep the fact that I like them to yourself.  You‘re not doing any candidate a big favor by saying Danny Bonaduce likes him. 

ABRAMS:  A sizzling battle that will be decided by one man, legendary boxer promoter, Don King.  We are calling this one the “Thrilla on the Grilla.” 

Did you ever think you were going to be doing this, deciding between Evander and George Foreman in this kind of form?

DON KING, BOXER PROMOTER:  I never thought I would be master of culinary arts on this type of forum.  I think that Foreman‘s grill is the best. 

ABRAMS:  Wait, oh so that‘s it.  The official ruling has come in.  We‘ll look at the burgers.  Don King deciding that the ultimate - that the George Foreman grill defeats the Evander Holyfield grill in a side-by-side comparison. 

ABRAMS:  Any chance we can get Peanuts to say anything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We can try.  He has had a long day.  Hey, Peanuts, come on.  Get down, get funky, get loose.  Get down, get funky, get loose.  Come on, I know you want to sing. 

ABRAMS:  And I assume that is your daughter there with you.  And I know when things like this happen we often think of our families, don‘t we?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is my sister.  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  Oh, my god, I killed Harry Potter. 

ABRAMS:  No, we did not just give away the ending. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Up next, your heartfelt thoughts about the end of the show and an interview with the man who knows what it means to have your MSNBC show come to an end.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Tonight a special edition of the “P.O.‘d Box.”  We got hundreds of E-mails wishing me well after the announcement that this will be the final episode of VERDICT.

Glenna King from Long Beach, New York, “I think my husband is secretly happy I won‘t be watching your show anymore.  I find you to be very fair and politically you aren‘t slanted, which is nice.  You seem to like to play devil‘s advocate, kind of Tim Russert-ish.” 

That Glenna is the ultimate compliment.  Thank you.

Molly O‘Leary writes, “Dan, please don‘t leave us.  Your show rocks. 

Who else can pull off a body-building segment?”

Molly, you mean who else can put off a segment where he gets humiliated by a female bodybuilder?  That is a fair question. 

Susan Wittle from Toronto, “I‘ve been watching your show for a while now and it just keeps getting better and better.  Why not just move it to 10 p.m.?”

Thanks.  It‘s not going to happen. 

Bobby Sawyer from Springfield, Missouri, “I especially enjoyed watching you stand up to people like Karl Rove in your reports in the “Bush League Justice” series.  It‘s so clear that you love and believe in what you do because you can truly see it in your work.”  

Thanks, Bobby, I appreciate it. 

Robin from Orange Springs, Florida, “You were the best.  Never missed your show.  You looked at all sides, not just one side.”

Thanks, Robin. 

Sarah Howl from Austin, Texas, “During all of the, ‘We hate Hillary‘ madness in the primaries, you were the only voice of reason and the only show I could watch without yelling at the TV.” 

Thank you, Sarah, but not everyone agrees like Tara Thralls from Bolinas, California, “Way back months ago when you joined the ranks and deserted Hillary, you helped kill the world‘s shot at a peaceful United States and thus, a peaceful world.  So I guess you deserve what you got.” 

Thank you, Tara. 

And finally, Marie Sawyers from Kernersville, North Carolina, “Your program ‘VERDICT‘ is the only thing I watch on MSNBC at night.  You‘re so very good at making a serious point with a light touch and sophisticated wit.”

Well, thanks, Marie.  But you should watch the other shows, too.  They are really, really good. 

So, what do I do now?  I can‘t think of a better person to ask than fellow MSNBC canceled show host, Tucker Carlson.  Tucker Carlson joins us on the phone now.  Tucker, there is the picture.  We have a shot up of you on the beach. 

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC SENIOR CAMPAIGN CORRESPONDENT (on the phone):  Yes, I‘ve been exiled to Bimini like the way Adam Clayton Powell.  , sitting here on the veranda of my estate in the Bahamas looking out at the light glimmering in the distance, thinking, “I was a talk show host once.” 

ABRAMS:  Well, you have a place in Maine and you spend a lot of time there, means that I get a place in Maine?

CARLSON:  I head up on the weekends, do a little fly-fishing like I have all my life.  Yes.  Look, there are many good things about getting your show canceled.  It takes a long time - it takes a long time to find out what they are.  Look, you know this better than I.  This is not a business you get into if you crave stability. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  You know - day one, you know as fun as it is, great a job as it is, it could end any moment, and almost certainly will. 

ABRAMS:  We have a thing that says Tucker Carlson used to have a show on MSNBC. 

CARLSON:  Oh, is it on the Chyron (ph)? 

ABRAMS:  With the lower third there for a minute.  Well, Tucker, I‘m proud to join you in the ranks. 

CARLSON:  Dan, I think you and I are going off to Denver next week ...

ABRAMS:  That‘s true.

CARLSON:  ... where we‘ll be having a drink at some sort of fashionable soiree uptown in that city.  We‘ll probably be joined by a lot of other ex-MSNBC hosts. 

ABRAMS:  And people will say to us, “You know, I love your show.  I watch it every night.”  Yes. 

CARLSON:  I know.  Someone said that to me in the airport last week. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Tucker, thanks a lot.  I‘ll see you in Denver. 

CARLSON:  Congratulations, Dan, on your new life.  I loved your show. 

Thanks for having me on. 

ABRAMS:  That is it for VERDICT.  Dan Abrams used to have a show on MSNBC.  Very nice, guys.  Thank you.  That is it for VERDICT.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, for making this show such a success.  I‘ll see you live from the convention next week. 

Oh, and by the way, this is the third goodbye show I‘ve done at MSNBC in the past five years.  So don‘t count us out entirely. 

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

END   

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