updated 8/25/2008 12:11:53 PM ET 2008-08-25T16:11:53

Guests: Craig Crawford, Richard Wolffe, Eugene Robinson, Paul Rieckhoff

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

Best tease ever—and still nobody else knows.  Obama: 1,000; media: nothing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRY SMITH, CBS ANCHOR:  And who is it?  I had to ask.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  That‘s a good shot, but I‘m pretty disciplined on this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERAMNN:  But there is news tonight: Andrea Mitchell confirms Hillary Clinton was never vetted for the vice presidency.  Joe Biden has gotten a lot of visits from his family and a lot of flowers and there is a rumored late dark horse candidate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My name is Chet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Chet Edwards—Congressman Chet Edwards.  Yes, that it (ph) would work, Obama-Edwards.

Home—home of deranged: How many houses McCain owns or remembers?  It gets worse today, estimate is now ranging from seven to 11 -- and new ads on both sides.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR:  Call it “Country Club Economics.”  How many houses does he own?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR:  Celebrities don‘t have to worry about family budget, but we sure do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Family budgets, did you say?  On McCain‘s tax return, last year, he spent $273,000 for household help, $50,000 more on housekeepers than the median value of a house in America, just one house.

The Republican V.P. choice: Reportedly, McCain has decided, Mitt Romney who is worth at least $232 million.  That will surely help the matter of McCain‘s houses.

Bushed: Secretary Rice says the missile interceptors we‘re putting in Poland will save the Polish people from attacks from North Korea and Iran, except North Korea doesn‘t have any missile that could reach Poland, and Iran kind of likes Poland.

Bests: Soccer gold.  Hey, wait a minute, take a closer look at her headband, 420?

Worsts: John Hannity goes fully racist on Barack Obama.

And minute by minute as the news media goes nuts, the desperate effort to say something when you know nothing, the V.P. sweepstakes stake outs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE DOOCY, FOX ANCHOR:  And the reason we‘ve got those live shots out there, Gretch?

GRETCHEN CARLSON, FOX ANCHOR:  Who is behind door number one?

DOOCY:  That‘s exactly.

CARLSON:  It could be somebody else, Steve.  It could be a sleeper person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  All that and more: Now on - wait a minute, I have a

text message here, COUNTDOWN -

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Good evening.  This is Friday, August 22, 74 days until the 2008 presidential election.

Only hours remaining at most—in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Veeper madness.  What we know for certain at tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 Eastern, 2:00 local time at the old state capitol in Springfield, Illinois, where Abraham Lincoln gave his “House Divided” speech, Senator Obama will join his candidacy with that of the vice presidential running mate he‘s already chosen, probably already informed, but not yet revealed.

Our correspondent Andrea Mitchell, though, reporting tonight, that Evan Bayh and Tim Kaine have been told they are not it.  Camera crews are standing tonight outside the homes of those believed to be the top three contenders on the shortlist—Senator Biden of Delaware, Senator Bayh of Indiana, and Governor Kaine of Virginia.  We knew where to send the crews because the candidates appear to have only the one home each.

The same can be said for the presumptive Democratic nominee.  Senator Obama is spending this day at or near his one home—singular—in Chicago.  One key name definitely subtracted from Senator Obama‘s V.P.  list today, Senator Clinton.  In fact, it turns out she had never officially been under consideration at all.  Politico.com is reporting and Andrea Mitchell confirming for us, that the Democratic runner up was never even vetted to be running mate.

A Democratic official is telling Politico, quote, “She was not asked for a single piece of paper, she‘s—and Senator Obama never had a single conversation about it, how would he know if she‘d take it.”  The official is adding that Senator Clinton never met with the Obama vetting team of Eric Holder and Caroline Kennedy, either.

A new name, though, added to the final list at the final moment, that of Texas Congressman Chet Edwards, a Democrat who represents President Bush‘s home district.  Outside what appears to be his one home in Texas, Congressman Edwards is talking about why he is only being talked about now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CHET EDWARDS, (D) TEXAS:  We have all been pretty successful of keeping this a secret for the last 2 ½ months.  So, I didn‘t necessarily expect my name to be floated out there today.  But, again, I just consider it a deep privilege to this process, to have been considered by Senator Obama and whatever decision he makes, I‘m going to enthusiastically support him and the ticket.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER:  Did you sign up for that text message alert?

EDWARDS:  Yes, I did, along with millions of other Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  This morning on CBS, anchor Harry Smith doing his best to get more than a running mate job description out of Senator Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Obviously, the most important question is: Is this person prepared to be president?  Second most important question from my perspective is: Can this person help me govern?  Are they going to be an effective partner in creating the kind of economic opportunity here at home and guiding us through some dangerous waters internationally?  And the third criteria for me, I think, was independence.  I want somebody who is going to be able to challenge my thinking and not simply be a yes person when it comes to policy making?

HARRY SMITH, CBS ANCHOR:  And who is it?  I had to ask.

OBAMA:  That‘s a good shot, but I‘m pretty disciplined on this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Time now to call in our own Richard Wolffe, also, of course, the senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.

Richard, good evening.

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

OLBERMANN:  All right.  Per Andrea Mitchell, Kaine is told, “You‘re out of the running,” Bayh is told, “You‘re out of the running.”  So, it‘s Biden or it‘s anybody in the world not named Kaine or Bayh?

WOLFFE:  Yes, all those people that we had excluded from a shortlist on the basis of no reporting whatsoever.  Yes, it‘s quite feasible, in fact, I would say probably quite likely, that there is a name out there which we‘ll find out tomorrow that has not been circulated widely.  You know, again, the number of names that have been repeated, just because they‘re repeated so often, doesn‘t mean to say that they were any truer (ph) than the first time someone pluck (ph) them out of the air.

Biden is a serious vice presidential candidate for sure.  But, if the Obama campaign is interested in real change, then, they could easily reach out outside the box.

OLBERMANN:  Flower deliveries, family flying in today to visit him.  If Biden is not the pick, was, at least, acting like the pick?  Could he be the deke, could he be the feint acting on Obama‘s behalf for the real V.P.  candidate?

WOLFFE:  Well, I‘m not sure that sending yourself flowers is the way to do it.  Maybe there were some reporters doing that.  But Joe Biden has been uncharacteristically disciplined in his comments, apart from taking the dump, or his wood to what - anyway, you know what I mean—when he went out with his pickup truck.  So, Joe Biden has been on message and he‘s been keeping himself to himself, and obviously he made that trip to Georgia.  All of these things with paucity of tea leaves that we have are somehow meaningful.

OLBERMANN:  How are the undecided yet—undecided Clinton supporters likely to feel having learned here from the reporting first done by Politico, then the “A.P.” and Andrea Mitchell, that she was not vetted, she was not considered for the ticket.  Does the fact that this has leaked out hurt the cause of unity, does he now have to have now—Obama now have to have some sort of surprise to pull out of his bag about her before or during the convention?

WOLFFE:  Well, this is an easily defended group of people, and so, anything that even looks like a slight will be taken as a slight.

Now, the campaign itself says look at the comments from Howard Wolfson today, that the Clinton campaign‘s former communications director who said, “This is a candidate, Hillary Clinton who‘s been vetted for 18 months on the campaign trail and they didn‘t needs to ask for anything.”  And that certainly the view inside the Obama campaign, they knew a huge amount of information about her and to the extent that she was seriously considered, they had the information to do that.

But, look, there will be Clinton supporters who will be convinced that that was a dream ticket, Obama-Clinton or maybe Clinton-Obama, and it‘s not going to happen.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  Are we done for the night?  I mean, if this has not happened yet, are we not expecting the world‘s famous mass text message to go out until tomorrow morning, mid morning—any idea when?

WOLFFE:  We collectively are not expecting it this evening.

OLBERMANN:  OK.

WOLFFE:  The campaign won‘t rule it out but it would be the most extraordinary news management to try and do it for something.  “Late Friday is a time to dump” as Joe Biden would say.

OLBERMANN:  Right.  Let‘s put it out in the middle of the night when nobody‘s paying attention.

But one last thing, this late wild card, the name added to the mix today, the congressman from the Bush district in Texas, Chet Edwards.  Apart from his name just suddenly appearing out of almost nowhere, the bumper sticks would read Obama-Edwards, why do I get the feeling this might be a bad idea just right now to have that sticker out there?

WOLFFE:  Good point, Keith.  I think, the bumper would have to read Barack-Chet, which would have the unique advantage that no one has bought a Web site.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  Richard Wolffe of MSNBC and “Newsweek,” great points and great thanks.  Have a good weekend.

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Tomorrow‘s announcement in Springfield kicks off the Democratic ticket‘s bus tour to Denver with the presidential contest officially pivoting into overdrive.  Over the next 14 days, the nearly back-to-back conventions obviously, but then just three weeks after the Republican convention is the first debate, with all four debates including the vice presidential face-off unfolding in a mere three weeks, and then only 20 more days after that until the election.

Additionally, tomorrow‘s V.P. announcement by Senator Obama will mark the modern day record for the Democrats for proximity to the convention, just two days.  And the convention itself still holds some mystery—how forcefully will the Clintons get behind Obama.  All of it leaving little to no room for error.

Let‘s bring in our own Craig Crawford, columnist for CQPolitics.com.

Good evening, Craig.

CRAIG CRAWFORD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hi, there.

OLBERMANN:  Does the short lead time on the V.P. naming, does that mean it has to be a recognizable name with a compelling personal story, and does that mean Biden?

CRAWFORD:  Not just the short lead time, but all this hype.  I mean, they‘ve got to have a name that meets the hype.  And when I look over the list—and as Richard said—it might be someone we haven‘t heard, the ones that are left other than Biden and Senator Clinton are just not the type that would draw a crowd to the water cooler, I don‘t think.

OLBERMANN:  Perhaps that‘s the why that name Gore suddenly reaches from back of the mind forward.

CRAWFORD:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  If you‘re going to buildup this big, it has to be something special.

CRAWFORD:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  Looking towards the convention—Senator Clinton speaks on Tuesday, President Clinton speaks on Wednesday, obviously, highly anticipated—but how important are other gestures as with Senator Clinton and how that role call is handled?

CRAWFORD:  Oh, I think that role call is critical.  I have heard some signals that it‘s not going to be as dramatic as we might think going state by state, with lots of demonstrations for Senator Clinton, more of an abbreviated role call, something to give voice to her supporters and show how a woman candidate did so well, but not so much that it just takes over the convention.  I think that‘s absolutely critical.

And other is that Senator Clinton and former President Clinton are careful not to give too many interviews, steal a lot time for, you know, media interviews and other speeches and that sort of thing.

OLBERMANN:  Unless they‘re spending all those interviews talking about how wonderful Obama is, in which case they‘re welcome to talk all they want, correct?

CRAWFORD:  Yes.  And I think she‘ll be spending more time privately raising money to pay off her debt more than anything else.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

For Obama‘s speech, the bar has been set pretty high by a previous speech by Obama.  What is he—is it clear at this point what he needs to hit convincingly and can he afford to come out of the convention without owning an issue—obviously now, the foremost one at the moment, anyway, the various components that make up that one issue called the economy?

CRAWFORD:  Yes, a couple of things—we know that we is a dispassionate intellect and it‘s one of things that been very appealing and different about him and different about him.  But I think he needs to show some real passion if not anger about the economic plight of a lot of people, not just say, “I‘m passionate,” but actually show it.

And then also, I think we‘re not really clear, what is the thing that he wants to do most as president?  What would he want to do as soon as he got in the Oval Office?  So, you know, what drives him most?  I think that‘s still a little bit unclear and anything that‘s connected to the economy would probably be the way to go.

OLBERMANN:  Right.  Invest in faster text message science; I think that‘s the better first thing (ph) we have now.

CRAWFORD:  Yes—right.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  From the first gavel to the closing fireworks as we cover it 20 hours a day on this network, would you like to estimate now how many times Senator McCain‘s houses will be referenced?

CRAWFORD:  I think that‘s the worst thing about this home scandal of Senator McCain‘s is that he has delivered a running gag that will run and run and run next week and we‘re going to be sick of it by Thursday, but it‘s something that the Democrats are going to have an awful lot of fun with.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, and only probably through like November 4th at about 9:30 at night.

CRAWFORD:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  Craig Crawford of MSNBC and CQPolitics.com—as always, Craig, great thanks.

CRAWFORD:  We‘ll see you in Denver.

OLBERMANN:  We hope so.

Join me and Chris Matthews in the interim for the first joint appearance of the Democratic ticket and we can confirm now it is Obama and not Obama.  Our coverage begins tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Eastern—all right, sorry.  Join me again please for a special Saturday edition of COUNTDOWN, same time you see at each week night, live at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and 5:00 Pacific.

After which, I‘ll be returning to my home, the only one I currently own.

The McCain house party gets worse as the estimates of how many he owns grow and the revelation that last year he didn‘t know what kind of car he drove, and the report that his vice presidential choice has a personal worth estimated at, at least, $202 million.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The day after all hell broke out over his inability to say how many homes he and his wife own, Senator John McCain begins his day today by taking a motorcade to go get a cup of coffee.  He may have finished it by selecting a vice presidential candidate whose personal worth is in nine figures.

The headline inside the headline: Did the senator, in defending himself, go to the POW well once to often?

And later in Worsts: The McCain campaign begins its pushback, the talking points followed by Sean Hannity at something Reverend Jeremiah Wright said and claimed that Obama actually said it.

Ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  This is the scene at this hour at the home of Senator Biden in Delaware.  A lot of activity around that house in the last few minutes, but no sense that any official announcement is imminent or even being awaited—awaited in the short-term sense of the word.

Though again, NBC News and MSNBC, through our correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, have learned today that Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia and Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana were each informed they are not Senator Obama‘s vice presidential pick.  No such waiving off is apparently been given to Senator Biden, at least not that we‘re aware.  We‘re keeping you posted on this.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain is in full political battle mode.

Our fourth story tonight: McCain is so determined to convince working Americans that he‘s not a rich, out of touch, cuscus-eating, cappuccino-sipping elitist.  That today, he woke up early at his 15-acre Arizona ranch, took a nine-car motorcade to Starbucks and then sipping his cappuccino, got to work—a large cappuccino.  We‘re not making any of that up.

An unnamed McCain aide is telling the “L.A. Times,” quote, “This obviously is not the conversation we intended to have,” but having as they are, thanks to McCain‘s confession Wednesday that he doesn‘t know how many houses his family owns.

McCain, today, put out his second damage control ad since then, claiming Obama doesn‘t have to worry about his family budget.  If McCain has a family budget, it includes more than $250,000 on people to clean and otherwise work at his homes.  Details ahead.

Obama today instead put out his second ad on the issue, helping McCain get his own financial houses in order.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)

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

NARRATOR:  Call it “Country Club Economics.”  How many houses does he own?  John McCain says he can‘t even remember anymore.  Well, it‘s seven.

No wonder McCain just said the fundamentals of our economy are strong and anyone making less than $5 million a year is middle class.  Maybe McCain thinks this economy is working - for folks like him.  But how are things going—for you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  A quick correction of yesterday‘s “kitchen sink” attacks on Obama, by the way, he spent his Hawaiian vacation at a friend‘s house, not on a private beach.  They‘re all public beaches in Hawaii.

And as for Obama making $4 million last year, the “Los Angeles Times” reports the McCains made more than $6 million.

And at last, we seemed to have a definitive answer to this campaigns most burning question to date, according to Talking Points Memo, the McCain‘s actually own eight houses, or nine, maybe 10, but no more than 11, unless you count some other ones.  The Arlington condo; the condo in La Jolla, in which they forgot to pay those back taxes; the home at the ranch in Sedona; the guesthouse at the ranch in Sedona; the servants‘ quarters at the ranch in - wait, servants?  Oh, yes, the McCain budget for household help—houses-hold help—last year was $273,000.

All right.  Where was i?  Oh, yes, the vacation condo in Coronado; the other vacation condo in Coronado; the $700,000 loft in Phoenix, the other condo in Phoenix; the other other condo in a different floor of the same floor as the first condo in Phoenix, a third condo on the same floor as the second condo on the same building as the first condo in Phoenix—which they later combined with the second condo to make one super-condo on a different floor of the same building as the first condo in Phoenix.

McCain campaign says additional houses are not homes, just rental properties.  So they got that going for them.

Unfortunately, a writer for the “Detroit News” today claims on NationalReview.com that during a December interview, McCain also had to check with a staffer to find out what kind of car he owns, a Cadillac CTS and the missus drives a Lexus in her $3,000 suits.

Let‘s turn now to MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson, also a columnist and associate editor at the “Washington Post.”

Gene, thanks for your time tonight.

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST:  Good to talk to you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Is it better or worse for John McCain that we now seem to have an answer to how many houses he has?

ROBINSON:  Oh, I think it‘s worse, actually.  I mean, you know—look, the impression that has been created over the last 24 hours is that John and Cindy McCain buy houses the way you and I would buy an umbrella.  You know, you kind of buy it on the spur of the moment and you forget where you left it.

So, this whole episode cannot be good for McCain because it brings to light a fact that I think most people didn‘t know, which is that—you know, the McCains are tremendously wealthy.  The images of him as a POW and you kind of think of him in POW garb or whatever, but he‘s a very, very wealthy man.

OLBERMANN:  But Pikers (ph), the other gentleman we‘re going to mention now, the Time.com reporting that they have two Republican sources who say he has decided on—whether or not he‘s informed or it‘s final—but he‘s decided on Mitt Romney as his vice presidential candidate.

“Huffington Post” reports, Mitt Romney owns a home in Massachusetts, Utah ski lodge, lake front house in New Hampshire, and also, a beach front condo in La Jolla, and at minimum, his personal worth is $202 million.  He owns a mansion and a yacht.

Did McCain hand Obama a theme to run against through the election with the stuff about his houses and would he just re-enforce it by picking Mitt Romney at this point?

ROBINSON:  Well, I think he certainly did hand the Democrats a theme, as you and Craig were saying a few minutes ago, we‘re going to hear about this in Denver constantly, we‘re going to hear about this until November.  Does—would choosing Romney re-enforce this?  Of course it would.  I mean, we kind of knew that Mitt Romney was very wealthy and it sounds as if he has a better hold on exactly how many residences he owns than McCain does.  So, probably didn‘t make it a whole lot worse, but it doesn‘t make it a lot better, I think.

OLBERMANN:  But something did get worse even as we were preparing this show, the stuff about not knowing what car he owned has now topped, his brother Joe, that‘s McCain‘s brother Joe told the local news operation in D.C., that in the McCain family, specifically starting with their mother, the wives always handle the finances.  And the quote was, “The person who took care of all the business was my mother, my father had no idea about the family business, what oil leases he owned in Oklahoma.”

Well, now, after get—I mean, of all the bad answers you could come up to when that political reporter asked the question how many houses do you own, the two worst are out which is, “I don‘t know,” and now, the other is, “I don‘t know, I have no experience with my own economy.”

ROBINSON:  Right.  And also pointing out as well dad owned a bunch of oil leases in Oklahoma, you know.

OLBERMANN:  Exactly, yes.

ROBINSON:  It‘s funny.  Same in my family, you know, it‘s my mom who keeps track of the heartland (ph) oil leases and not my dad.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  Last point on this and this gag is inspired by my friend, Tom Foty, the reporter.  But should Obama announce now in a gesture of by partisanship that if he is elected he will name John McCain as his secretary of housing and urban development?

ROBINSON:  (INAUDIBLE).  Keith Olbermann, ladies and gentlemen, he will be at the Venetian room next week.  And you, I guess, if not secretary of HUD, even if John Edwards can‘t be poverty czar anymore, it could be a position for him maybe.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  To ensure there‘s more poverty for everybody else.

Eugene Robinson of MSNBC and the “Washington Post,” hope you‘ll be joining me there in the Venetian room in Denver.  We‘ll be out there and tip your waitresses, thanks, Gene.

ROBINSON:  I‘ll see you in Denver, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  If you think this presidential race has already been down and dirty, you ain‘t seen nothing yet.  That‘s right, cockroaches with the candidates‘ heads on them.

And, there‘s Sean Hannity, actually taking an incendiary quote from Jeremiah Wright and attributing it to Barack Obama.  Worst Persons is ahead.

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

Number three: Helium-gate.  Seriously?  The Bush administration has corrupted the department of helium?  The Amarillo, Texas field office of the Bureau of Land Management has been found by the Department of the Interior to have allowed four helium refiners to wildly overcharge the government for construction equipment.  By the time the no bid negotiated and private deals expire in 2015, that will make us pay $100 million more than we should be paying for the equipment they use to extract and refine helium.

By the way, only until 1996, only the government refined helium and then the Republican Congress privatized it.

Number two: Global warming-gate.  While lunatic groups like Americans for Prosperity continue to deny it‘s happening, this from the Bush administration‘s own wildlife monitors off the northwest coast of Alaska.  Nine polar bears were spotted swimming in ocean water last Saturday.

So what?  Sounds like fun, sort of.  Except they weren‘t swimming near their homes on the Alaskan ice, they were swimming because their ice homes broke off or melted due to the fact that summer ice is disappearing so quickly that at this rate, it will all be gone by the year 2030.  The grim reality behind what those wildlife monitors saw was—those nine bears were on their way to either dying from exhaustion or drowning.

So Americans for Prosperity—keep denying and start swimming.

Number one: Can‘t tell the backside from the elbow-gate.  The comment from Secretary of State Rice after she and her Polish equivalent agreed to place 10 missile defense interceptors in Poland.

She insists this is not a provocation to Russia, it isn‘t even a defensive gesture in response to Russia, she actually said, quote, “This is an agreement that of course will establish a missile defense site here in Poland, a missile defense site that will help us to deal with the new threat to the 21st century from long-range missile threats from countries like Iran or from North Korea.”

Spence Ackerman pointed out online: “North Korea doesn‘t have any missiles that can get to Poland and neither does Iran.”  And even if for some reason they decided to build some, Iranians don‘t have any political disagreements with Poland.  That‘s like putting in a missile defense shield in Kansas to protect against Wisconsin—she‘s a secretary of state.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Bests in a moment, and what‘s written on that U.S. soccer player‘s headband?  First, on this date in 1893 was born the American author and one of the great wits of the 20th century, Dorothy Rothchild Parker.  The brief, pithy, hilarious quotes are nearly endless.  A book review she wrote, “this is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly.  It should be thrown with great force.”  A review of an actress, “she runs the gamut of emotions from A to B.”  One of the great aphorisms, “men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.”  And the singularly brilliant, “if all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn‘t be a bit surprised.” 

On that note, let‘s play Oddball. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Wherever she is, Mrs. Parker thanks you.  She‘s not in New Brunswick, New Jersey with a presidential pest prediction.  Two massive Madagascar cockroaches, one wearing an Obama hat, the other wearing a McCain hat, racing for the prize.  In years past, the roaches have reportedly accurately forecast the winning presidential candidate 86 percent of the time.  What does 86 percent of the time mean?  Figure out the math on that.  They have been doing this for 200 years?  This year, McCain was actually asleep before the race began.  But once the starting gate opened, the McCain bug scampered for the finish line and left the Obama bug in the dust.  The cockroach‘s speed was attributed, in part, to a question shouted at him from the crowd as the race began, how many forests do you inhabit, senator. 

To Desaperados (ph), Costa Rica, where the local SWAT team is still working out the gate storming thing.  First, they used a bazooka as a battering ram, then hooked up the gate to their car and neglected to tell everybody to get out of the way.  To protect and serve. 

Finally, to Boston and the annual plague that is the running of the brides, women swarming into a bridle store, knocking each other over as they go grabbing dresses off the rack so quickly that the entire store was stripped utterly bare within two minutes flat.  And that is faster than locusts and piranhas could do. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  A noun, a verb and POW; how in less than a week, the subject of John McCain‘s Vietnam imprisonment went from sacrosanct to self-satirizing.  And you are looking live—There hasn‘t been this much political misdirection since the last wave of will Al Gore run.  But there‘s more activity at the Biden home.  We‘ll bring it to you in a moment.  Those stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world.

Number three, best something, Natasha Kai of the gold medal winning US Olympic team, celebrating victory in a photo published in the Friday edition of “USA Today,” and a mighty roar went up from the crowd of congrats.  But let‘s take a closer look at the headband she‘s wearing, “420.”  But her uniform number isn‘t 420, it‘s six.  Don‘t jump to the wrong conclusion here, four and 20 and 12, not appearing in this picture, are, she says, for her injured teammates who couldn‘t play in the game, Pat Wyhill (ph), Abby Womback (ph) and Leslie Ozbourne (ph).  Maybe you should have put them in numerical order, four, 12, 20. 

Number two, best dumb burglar, John Pierce, who broke into the home of Paul Ives (ph) in Dartford, in Canton, England.  This is what Mr. Ives saw when he came back to set home: “that fellow hanging upside down in the window, that would be Mr. Pierce, the burglar.  He clawed open a small top window with a hammer, climbed through the tiny space, when his shoelace got caught and he hung up there upside down for an hour.”  With the hammer still in his hands, he insists to the homeowner that he was trying to stop somebody else from breaking in.  He‘s confessed now. 

Number one, best dumb criminal, whoever broke into the Name Brand Clothing Store in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  He smashed a six-foot hole in the store wall, then spent six hours trying to crack the safe.  When the morning and the employees came, he fled, but not before trying to set the place ablaze, unsuccessfully.  Never, say police and the store owners, did he ever notice that the safe, with a couple of thousand bucks in it, was not locked. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Recapping the Democratic vice presidential story—and that is a night time shot, obviously, of the home of Senator Joe Biden.  Andrea Mitchell is reporting that Senator Bayh and Governor Kaine had been informed they are not Mr. Obama‘s vice presidential pick.  We understand here that in the Biden in the last 20 minutes have arrived his niece and aide, Missy Owens, his daughter and his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Beau Biden (ph).  To borrow on Internet observation, we‘re now awaiting for Ed McMahon to show up, hand him some balloons, a big check and an airplane ticket to Illinois for tomorrow morning. 

Since the day he decided to start talking about it, nine years after returning from Vietnam, John McCain has not stopped talking about it, invoking his years in captivity when accused of carpet bagging during the race for a House seat in Arizona more than a quarter of a century ago: “as a matter of, when I think about it now, the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi,” he said in 1982. 

Most recently, shielding the senator from criticism about his own homeowner ship ignorance.  Flak Brian Rogers inveyed, “this is a guy who lived in one house for five and half years in prison.”  Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, has McCain turned his POW status from insulation to excuse?  Now one veteran who served 31 years in the Army, fighting in Korea and in Vietnam, has had enough; “it‘s time for the senator to stop cheapening the war experiences of thousands of vets and his fellow POWs, and his own as well, by stretching the boundaries of logic to make his POW status a wild card rebuttal to all accusations or an answer to all difficult questions.  When he uses his status as a veteran to deflect legitimate questions and concerns, it devalues not just his service to our country, but ours as well.” 

Lieutenant General Robert G. Gard is part of a group called Vets for Obama, a disclosure which only underscores the fact that support from veterans is probably McCain‘s to lose.  Senator McCain also put his military bona fides in play when he agreed with a questioner in New Mexico who implored him to reinstate the draft.  The narrative he‘s been exploiting, the one about his years as a POW, lending themselves to his superiority as a candidate, backfiring earlier in the month after a pastor, a friend of President Bush, expressed disgust when the senator offered up his wife for the Miss Buffalo Chip contest, as well as for his undignified marital history.  Brian Rogers said then, Americans, quote, “know that John McCain‘s faith and character were tested and forged in ways few can fathom.” 

And after Elizabeth Edwards noted how McCain gets government health benefits during a rebuke of his medical care policy, McCain insisted he was familiar with inadequate care, quote, from another government.  Paul Rieckhoff, the executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, author of “Chasing Ghosts,” joins us again.  Good to see you, Paul.

PAUL RIECKHOFF, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA:  Good to be with you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  How do vets feel about this?  These remarks from General Gard about cheapening the experience; is it now like Rudy Giuliani and Biden‘s famous phrase, a noun, a verb and 9/11?  Was it sacrosanct and is he now making it kind of silly? 

RIECKHOFF:  He‘s getting close.  He‘s definitely using it as a political shield for just about everything.  He‘s used it for his marital woes.  He‘s used it recently for his inability to recall how many houses he has.  Everybody respects John McCain‘s service.  Everybody knows what he‘s gone through is unimaginable to most folks.  But every POW is not necessarily qualified to be president.  It‘s not a political shield for every screw up that he has between now and November. 

And I think it also gives him an opportunity to talk about veteran‘s issues in a very specific way, and he hasn‘t done much of that.  He hasn‘t taken it to that next step and I would like to see him do it. 

OLBERMANN:  If you take it one step beyond where it is now, if the Democrats were to have run a POW, would it then be an argument of, well, I was in there longer than he was, or he was in there longer than me?  The stuff as shield is one thing.  He‘s also used it to validate his policy decisions and create this aura about himself that he knows best, in terms of anything military, thus almost anything international.  What kind of problems does that line of thinking create? 

RIECKHOFF:  I think it creates a number of problems.  I think it was important to bring up the fact that he does receive veteran‘s benefits.  He also went to school on the government‘s dime.  He went to the Navel Academy and he opposed the GI Bill for basically a year of the process.  Recently, he‘s been trying to take credit for that as well.  That‘s just not true.  He‘s tried to push this argument that he was holding out for transferability.  Transferability was always in the law.  It could have been enacted by the secretary of the Army or Navy. 

Senator Webb actually offered to include transferability.  So did Senator Warner.  So I think, especially in the area of defense and in the area of veteran‘s affairs, he‘s going to be vulnerable at times, and he‘s going to be attacked most viciously by veterans like General Gard. 

OLBERMANN:  What does having been a POW merit in this political contest?  What does it give you, besides the same kind of respect anybody who‘s made that kind of sacrifice for their country deserves walking down the street? 

RIECKHOFF:  I think it shows his toughness.  It shows his love of country.  It shows his fortitude.  But I think there‘s another aspect to this.  He was in prison and tortured for five and half years.  He has a tremendous opportunity to talk about mental health issues, to talk about post-traumatic stress disorder, something that‘s facing hundreds of thousands of veterans who are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan right now.  And I‘m a bit bothered by the fact that he can‘t tell you if he has seven or eight houses, because there are 150,000 veterans in America right now who have a total of zero houses, because they‘re homeless.

So I think he has an opportunity to be more aggressive on veterans issues and specifically talking about his personal experience at the lowest levels, at the darkest times, when he was suicidal and dealing with some really tough stuff. 

OLBERMANN:  And this latest week during the week about the draft.  They‘ve come back and said, no, he‘s been clearly opposed to the draft all along, except now three occasions when he‘s responded favorably and thought of theoreticals when he would bring it back.  Does that make vets shutter? 

RIECKHOFF:  Not really.  I think the draft has become a politically radioactive issue for everyone.  But a lot of vets want to see a draft.  I disagree with folks who say nobody in the military wants a draft.  I hear from a lot of friends who are going over for the third and fourth tours and would like to see everybody else in America put something on the line here.  The reality is that our current pace of operations is unsustainable.  You have more than half a million people who have deployed more than once.  Our military is over-extended.  Our national guard has been run into the ground.  We have got to think long-term about how we sustain these kinds of operations.  The draft may not be probable, but it‘s possible.  And John McCain‘s going to have to take that on. 

OLBERMANN:  And we have a draft, it only consists now of people who are already serving and get to go back, whether they like it or not.  Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, as always, Paul, a pleasure. 

RIECKHOFF:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  You are looking at the house of vice presidential possibility Evan Bayh, even though we‘re told he has been told he‘s no longer a vice presidential possibility.  The drama and the tension is just unbelievable.  We have been waiting for it all day, this house to turn into seven or eight different houses.  So far bubkis. 

And what would you do if you spotted a typo on an art work at a lookout tower of the Grand Canyon.  Naturally, you would take out your white out and your magic marker and you would correct it, wouldn‘t you?  Worst person‘s next.  This is COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  It was one of the busiest, most frantic news days ever.  Live team coverage of nothing actually happening.  The absolute latest on the Democratic vice presidential possibilities and their visitors‘ floral arrangements, the movements of their pets, and especially how many houses they have.  That‘s ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 

The bronze to writers Jill Zuckman and John McCormack of the “Chicago Tribune,” mysteriously giving in to that newest phenomenon of the press, letting one side trash the other anonymously.  About McCain‘s houses disaster, they write, quote, “a Senior McCain adviser said the attack provides license to raise more questions about Obama and his relationships with Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr., Rezko and William Ayers.  He spoke on condition that he not be identified in order to discuss strategy.” 

Firstly, to the anonymous source, man up, if you‘re not ashamed of yourself or your candidate or your strategy.  Secondly, to the reporters, this is from the “Chicago Tribune‘s” policy manual, its style book: quote, “the Tribune will not print anonymously sourced materials that adds only supplemental or trivial material to stories, such as a zippy but unattributed quote that might enliven a prosaic narrative, but that also might lead the reader to wonder about the validity of the material.”

Of course, if the Tribune is stupid enough to remove its deputy managing editor Jim Warren, it‘s going to see a lot of its own in-house rules ignored, to say nothing of seeing the newspaper ignored. 

The silver to Jeff Michael Deck (ph) and Benjamin Douglas Hurstman (ph), two self proclaimed 28-year-old grammar vigilantes.  You‘d never guess it by looking at them.  They belong to an organization called TEAL, Typo Eradication Advancement League.  In March, at the Desert watch tower at the Grand Canyon, the two encountered a sign hand painted 60 years ago by artist Mary Colter.  Spying what they decided was a misplaced apostrophe and a bad comma, the two used white out and a permanent marker to correct the art work. 

The boys have now been placed on probation, ordered to pay 3,000 dollars worth of repairs and banned from all national parks for a year.  Our sources say the judge was also going to order them to get a life, but apparently it‘s too late for that. 

But our winner, Sean Hannity, who in between lunatic and probably legally actionable claims that Barack Obama wants to chase down and kill any infants who might survive a botched abortion, he jumped the professional shark, both in terms of journalism and Americanism: “you know,” he said about Jerome Corsi on his radio comedy show, “they‘re saying he‘s a fringe bigot.  OK, but we just went through a whole list of examples where Barack Obama I don‘t think ought to be hurling around words like bigot, given the things that he said himself.” 

Hannity then played a clip from one of Obama‘s audio books, in which Obama is heard saying, “white folks‘ greed runs a world in need.”  Hannity then piously added “yes, or that typical white person, talking about his own grandmother who raised him.”  First, the clip of Obama was him reading part of a Jeremiah Wright sermon, not his own words, a vital distinction Hannity himself had noted on the air in March. 

Second, Sean, don‘t defend Jerome Corsi.  He not only wrote that book about Obama, but he also wrote this year that John McCain‘s personal fortune is linked to the mob and his presidential campaign is linked to al Qaeda.  Third, Sean, now that you have crossed the line into full blooded fire breathing, stop the black guy at all costs, racism, go the whole distance, get a hood, and wear it on your show.  Sean Hannity, today‘s worst person in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  We‘ll recap who‘s out and who‘s still in the VP sweepstakes in a moment.  First, from Wilmington, Delaware to Richmond, Virginia to Washington, D.C., our number one story in the COUNTDOWN, staking out the possible vice presidential nominee.  For Senator Obama that is; we tried staking out Senator McCain too.  It‘s a little difficult, considering no one is sure which of his homes he‘s actually in.  We have a significant percentage of them covered tonight.

We did manage to spot Senator Obama leaving his one home today, going to the Park Hyatt Hotel in Chicago to practice his convention speech.  And we had cameras and reporters waiting outside every conceivable place we could think of, waiting for a glimpse of his possible new number two.  There are rumors some news organizations simply threw darts at a map and put cameras where they landed. 

And the results were wildly successful.  We got images of all the florists, landscapers and non-vice presidential candidates you could want in 66 lifetimes. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Barack Obama‘s teasing everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It could be any of the people seen as finalists on his so-called short list. 

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  That‘s what Barack Obama wants.  He wants that element of surprise. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Speculation centers on three men: Delaware Senator Joe Biden, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, and there‘s Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Who is behind door number one?   

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Drama, drama, drama. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Tim, coming to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How you all doing?

(CROSS TALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All coming from the campaign at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Any news?

SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA:  It‘s not mine to report. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are you hopeful?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you know something? 

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE:  OK, guys, everybody enjoy.  Thank you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator, share anything with the family? 

BIDEN:  I‘m sorry, no news. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is the lawn healthy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hi, Corporal—how are you?  Good.  I‘m standing out here in front of the Biden‘s house with a pizza delivery person.  I believe the pizza is for you.  Is it not?  That it was a prank, huh? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What‘s on the pie?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Honestly, I couldn‘t tell you. 

MITCHELL:  I think it‘s all pointing to Joe Biden. 

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  I‘m still betting on Biden. 

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  That‘s for him to decide.  I am not in that arena. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Expected to headline a rally tomorrow at the Illinois capital, Springfield, Illinois. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Springfield, Illinois. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Springfield.

OLBERMANN:  Springfield, Illinois. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey four eyes, vote Quimby.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Seriously, the last best estimate of the last best estimator of the political team, check your in box no earlier than 7:00 am Eastern tomorrow morning.  And when that sounds, remember also to join me and Chris Matthews for coverage of Obama‘s first joint appearance with his vice presidential pick, non-Obama.  Our coverage begins at 1:00 p.m.  Eastern, 10:00 a.m. Pacific, and then I‘ll be back live at 8:00 p.m. with a special Saturday edition of COUNTDOWN, with complete analysis and reaction to the rollout of Obama‘s Veep.  By the way, did anyone remember, just to be safe, to turn on the tracking device on Al Gore? 

Let‘s take one final look back at the Biden household in Wilmington, Delaware and recap the headlines.  Andrea Mitchell reporting that Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia was notified that he is not the vice presidential pick, that Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana was notified the same.  He‘s not the pick.  That Hillary Clinton was never vetted and thus, she is not going to be the pick.  Thus, of the names we know, besides the Texas Congressman Chet Edwards, whose name dropped into this somehow today, Senator Joe Biden may be the front-runner or it could be an utter surprise. 

All kinds of family.  Either, we assume, to say goodbye and good luck on your trip or as consolation.  We‘ll find out tomorrow. 

That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,941st day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

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

END   

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