updated 8/18/2004 9:50:49 AM ET 2004-08-18T13:50:49

Guest: Sarah Bardwell, Shelley Berman, Mark Mazzarella, Elizabeth Pelly-Waldman, Haley Waldman, Julie Shuster

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

Protests.  John McCain protests Bush administration troop redeployment.  The interim chief of the CIA protests the idea of the new national director of intelligence.  And a protester protests being visited by the FBI. 

She is John Kerry‘s choice for sexist actress of all time.  When asked a question like that, shouldn‘t a presidential candidate just shut up?  The insights on this topic of the legendary humorist Shelley Berman. 

Jury duty sure can put a crimp in your income.  It‘s going to cost this juror about 164 grand.  What‘s it do to the fair trial? 

Asking to reopen the case:  The governor of New Mexico wants another investigation.  Were they aliens at Roswell in 1947 or whether balloons?  Maybe they were alien weather balloons. 

All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Good evening.  Protests.  The president today getting a pair of them from his own side of the ball field, one of them highlighted speakers at the Republican Convention, questioning Mr. Bush‘s troop redeployment plan.  His acting director of Central Intelligence, meanwhile questioning Mr. Bush‘s embracing of the idea of a national intelligence director.  While others are protesting Senator Kerry‘s selection of a sexist actress of all time. 

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN:  Protests, serious and otherwise.  We‘ll be joined by legendary comedian and actor Shelley Berman on the sexiest actress stuff.  But first, a little matter of the response of the man who will give the big speech on the first night of the Republican Convention, two weeks from yesterday, to the president‘s announcement that he plans to withdraw 70,000 U.S. troops from Europe and Asia to domestic postings.  He recently rousingly endorsed Mr. Bush, but you would have never known that from John McCain‘s comments today during the hearings of the Senate Armed Services Committee. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  I‘m particularly concerned about moving troops out of South Korea when North Korea has probably never been more dangerous than anytime since the end of the Korean War.  I hope, as some critics alleged, this is not a retreat to fortress America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Same hearings, different surprise for the White House.  The acting director of Central Intelligence, John McLaughlin, stepping away from the administration and the proposal from the 9/11 Commission that Mr.  Bush embraced, a national intelligence director.  McLaughlin pointing out that if the intelligence czar is not actually in control of an agency, if he doesn‘t have control of the people analyzing and collecting information, then how could he be held responsible if that information turns out to be faulty?  In essence, the new head of the intelligence community would be operating without a body.  And the intelligence body would be without an effective or responsible head. 

From real life protests to a kind of imaginary world in which a protest in a political commercial has now engendered another protest in another political commercial protesting a president refusing to stop the first protest commercial.  Diagrams will be supplied.  It is the swift/soft money ads.  First the pro-Bush, soft money group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attack John Kerry‘s record in Vietnam.  Now MoveOn.org, the soft money group working against the president has countered that ad with one of its own. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  George Bush used his father to get into the National Guard, was grounded, and then went missing.  Now he‘s allowing false advertising that attacks John Kerry, a man who asked to go to Vietnam, and who served with dignity and heroism.  Well, here‘s what a true Republican war hero said. 

“I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable.  I think the Bush campaign should specifically condemn the ad.” 

George Bush, take that ad off the air. 

MoveOn PAC is responsible for the content of this advertisement.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  To many minds, the intelligence services, of course, have already been roundly reformed and not to the country‘s betterment.  The phrase is “preemptive investigation” and has allegedly been used by the FBI, not merely to gather information about protesters, but also to intimidate them.  The aggressive initiative, interviews, subpoenas, et cetera, presented as part of a nationwide, agency-wide effort to stop any illegal or violent activity when the republicans convene in New York on the 30th.  As to whether or not such actions violent the First Amendment, lawyers for the Justice Department have concluded that that, quote, “Given the limited nature of such public monitoring, any positive chilling effect caused by the bulletins would be quiet minimal and substantially outweighed by the public interest in maintaining safety and order during large-scale demonstrations.”

None of which, seemingly, would explain why the bureau sent a handful of investigators to go see our next guest in Denver, Colorado.  Sarah Bardwell is an intern with the American Friends Service Committee, and she joins us now. 

SARAH BARDWELL, PEACE ACTIVIST:  Good evening.

OLBERMANN:  I gather you got some unusual visitors at your home a few weeks ago.  Who were they, how many where there, and why did they say they were there? 

BARDWELL:  Well, we had four FBI agents and two Denver police officers that came to our house on July 22, and they came saying that they were doing preemptive investigations of suspected terrorists and asked us if we were planning on criminal activities for the Republican or Democratic national conventions. 

OLBERMANN:  Were you planning any criminal activities regarding either of the conventions? 

BARDWELL:  None of the people in my house were even planning on going to the conventions. 

OLBERMANN:  Is there some way they could have misunderstand the nature of the organization, the committee to which you belong, was it planning on attending the conventions and making a presence? 

BARDWELL:  The American Friends Service Committee is the organization that I work for, but it‘s not an organization that anybody else in my house is connected with.  The FBI didn‘t give us any reason why they were visiting us so, not to say that the AFSC isn‘t a reason why they visited me, but I certainly don‘t think it was the primary one. 

OLBERMANN:  So, what do you think the primary one was? 

BARDWELL:  My opinion is that the FBI is trying to intimidate people out of using their First Amendment rights.  Everybody in my house has been involved in nonviolent protests against the war, against the police brutality that has been going on in Denver, and I think that the government sees any sort of public disapproval of their policies as threatening to their livelihood and have sent out the FBI to intimidate people from expressing themselves. 

OLBERMANN:  So they sent eight people over to your place.  If the goal of that is really intimidation, did it work with you?  Would it work with other people?  It would seem to me to be counterproductive? 

BARDWELL:  I mean, I was definitely intimidated and I think everybody at my house was scared, but to me I see this—especially in connection with the police brutality that‘s been going on Denver and that type of abuse of power as an even better reason for me to fight against injustices. 

OLBERMANN:  Sarah Bardwell of the American Friends Service Committee thanks for your time tonight. 

BARDWELL:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Gone, of course, are the political days of Jimmy Carter where the admission of “lust in my heart” was enough to dominate campaign news for weeks.  Thus, John Kerry‘s comments about women to “GQ” magazine will probably be limited to the briefest appearance in life‘s rich pageant. 

An interview conducted in a sports bar on July 4 when, in part, this way: 

“Who is the sexist film actress of all time?”  He said, “I think Charlize Theron is pretty extraordinary.”  “She‘s got a few things going for her,” said the interviewer and then Mr. Kerry said, “Catherine Zeta-Jones.”  “How about when you were 20 years old?,” he was asked.  “Marilyn Monroe, I thought she was funny.” 

Asked by the interviewer what a man should look for in a woman, Senator Kerry also replied, “Look for what gets your heart, someone who excites you, turns you on.  It‘s a quality of character, it‘s a kind of presentation, sense of womanhood.  Full woman, confident, it‘s a woman who loves being a woman, who wears her womanhood, who knows how to flirt and have fun.  Smart, confident and has a sense of self, strong and obviously sexy and saucy and challenging.”

He did not add, and $550 million never hurts.  And if we invoke President Carter regarding Mr. Kerry‘s interviews, we can also invoke President Clinton about Mr. Kerry‘s hair. 

The newspaper “The New York Daily News” quotes a knowledgeable source who says that the candidate flew his personal hair stylist, Isabelle Goetz, from Washington to Portland last weekend because his hair needed pruning.  No comment from the campaign.  You will recall the flap in 1993 when the “Washington Post” reported that Mr. Clinton had held up traffic on the tarmac on Los Angeles International Airport while he got a haircut from Monsieur Cristophe aboard Air Force One.  In this case, of course, with Senator Kerry there would have been no expense to the public, no airport delays, just a lot of leftover hair. 

Joining us now for some perspective, one of the greatest humorists of

the last half century, know perhaps to some of you latecomers for his

latest role as Larry David‘s father on the “HBO” series, “Curb Your

Enthusiasm,” revered by the rest of us for his extraordinary comedy albums

including, “Inside Shelley Berman” and its sequel, “Outside Shelley Berman”

·         Mr. Shelly Berman. 

What an honor to have you on the newscast, thanks for joining us. 

SHELLEY BERMAN, COMEDIAN:  Well, it‘s been an honor to be here.  I‘m glad to be here.  I‘m listening very carefully. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, I appreciate that. 

It‘s a different world now, if a presidential candidate gets asked about sexy women, actresses or not, shouldn‘t he avoid the question or pretend the bus is leaving or have a fake fainting spell or something? 

BERMAN:  Well, yeah, he should if he could, but you know, we need the ink.  No matter who you are, you need the ink, particularly if you‘re in the public eye.  So he was cooperative.  After all, what could he say?  What could he do?  Say I refuse to answer that question?  He was being interviewed.  So, but I think for all intents and purposes, the man showed great sense, because Charlize Theron is certainly wonderful and very, very sexy and so is Catherine Zeta-Jones, despite the fact that she mispronounces her middle name.  And...

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN:  Well, it‘s a Greek letter.

OLBERMANN:  Right.

BERMAN:  And I would never say “Zeta.”  But, and of course Marilyn Monroe—who else would you pick?  I would say he showed great sense and great, great decency in choosing these women.  But of course he didn‘t make up the question.  He‘s stuck with it.  Somewhere in this interview he—it was brought up that a year and a half prior to this he brushed—he seemed to have brushed off, at least perceived to brush off, the reporter who interview him, Haney (ph), and if those things are stuck in the writer‘s craw, you got to know that—that this—that Kerry, who is running for president, had to be very careful how he spoke to him. 

OLBERMANN:  The whole thing though has changed though, hasn‘t it?  I mean Marilyn Monroe gets up at Madison Square Garden and sings “Happy Birthday” to John F. Kennedy and everybody says “hey, how about that Kennedy.”  This whole, sort of, topic use to be a badge of honor, and now it‘s like a minefield, isn‘t it?

BERMAN:  Yes, of course it‘s a minefield.  But when you‘re—if you‘re a politician and being interviewed, you‘ve already accepted the minefield, he‘s really stuck with it, and he‘s go to be responsible to the reporter who‘s talking to him, that‘s all. 

I just—it would have been nice if he could have say, “Look, I‘ll tell you what I would do.  I‘d like to hand an M-16 to Charlize Theron and send her over to Iraq.”  But what else could he do?  The poor guy is handed something, you know.

I read the entire article, or the gist of the article, and he was stuck, he was stuck with a lot of stuff when they—you know, what is your ideal woman?  Well, he went to town with that and said an awful lot.  I know it would be better if he could talk about—if he could really key in on the Muqtada al-Sadr issue and—who‘s turning Iraq upside down and is causing the deaths of so many hundreds.  It would be nice if he could key in, but he was stuck with a question.  I don‘t know how he could have gotten out of it. 

OLBERMANN:  Possibly by that imagery of Charlize Theron going over with that weaponry, that‘s an entirely different—I had never thought, Shelley, of that possibility in this war.  But, let me broaden this out while we still have some time.  Is there less humor in the presidential campaigns today than in the recent past?  I mean, I know these are serious times, but are they too serious? 

BERMAN:  Oh, way too serious.  Far, far too serious.  It‘s—the truth is that the only ones who can really speak clearly today are the humorists.  You can see it on the night shows, on late shows.  You can see it with David Letterman, you can see it with Jay Leno, they are—they are able to say it and comedians in the comedy rooms are able to say things, they‘re—as a matter of fact, far more important than we may give them credit for because the humorists now, are able to speak.  And in a nation, with a thing like the Patriot Act which causes people, maybe, to shut up a little bit it‘s wonderful that there are people who are able to speak.

OLBERMANN:  Indeed.  Shelley Berman, who‘s filled that role for so long and as we continue to point people toward great political movies, he was terrific in the 1964 film, “The Best Man” alongside Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson, one of my favorites.  My great thanks for coming on the show, sir. 

BERMAN:  Oh, it was an honor to be here, thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  Thank you.  One last comedy vignette from the political news of the day.  Could this election come down to the width of the cheese topping on a Philadelphia cheesesteak? 

In a visit to Philadelphia over a year ago, Senator Kerry partook of the local delicacy, but made the heretical mistake of ordering Swiss cheese on it.  You‘re supposed to take it, quote, “whiz with,” meaning Cheese Whiz and with onions. 

For those of you who like to mock the president‘s command of the language, give him a round of applause on this.  Today on a visit to a Boeing plant outside Philly, he got the local lexicon dead on. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  You know, this is my 32nd visit to your state. 

(APPLAUSE)

Since I‘ve been president.  A lot of people wonder why I‘m coming so much.  It ought to be obvious to you, I like my cheese steak “whiz with.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  How often, frankly, are you going to hear any president of the United States use the word “whiz.” 

COUNTDOWN opening tonight with protests and politics.  Up next, tonight‘s No. 4 story:  First the hurricane, then the disaster:  Price gouging, looting, communications breakdowns.  We‘ll go to Florida.

And later, why the Vatican is getting involved in one New Jersey girl‘s first communion.  Is the church putting the girl‘s health second to the fact that the communion wafer would make her sick?  Stand by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  COUNTDOWN continues in a moment with the latest from hurricane ravaged Florida as presidents there deal—as residents there deal with no food, no water, no power, now come signs of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) price gouging.  I don‘t mean to laugh about that, but presidents are not dealing with no food and no water.  Stand by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  It is amazing to consider that it took Hurricane Charley barley 12 hours to run roughshod over most of the state of Florida, but it will be 12 weeks at minimum before large sections the state even begin to look like they did last Friday morning. 

Our No. 4 story on the COUNTDOWN tonight:  Day No. 4 A.C., After Charley.  Nineteen deaths and counting, more than half a million still without power, 4,000 still homeless.  The damage total now standing at $11 billion. 

Some of that damage is from looting.  The fire department in hard hit Charlotte County was one of the first targets.  Somebody filched all their computers.  One man reportedly trying to get back to protect his property in Fort Myers had to be tasered by police. 

In every disaster in the making, from the hurricane that wiped out Galveston in 1900, to the terror warning of 2004, preparedness experts have warned possible victims to be prepared to be without water, electricity, and the ability to communicate for days and even weeks.  And yet in every disaster, in fact, the survivors are always stung by the reality when the water and the juice and the contact stop flowing.  Our correspondent Martin Savidge in is in Punta Gorda. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It is a voice in a land left speechless by a storm. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte.

SAVIDGE:  A small radio station amidst this sea of destruction. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That number again, 1-800-621-FEMA.

SAVIDGE:  WIKX lost its roof, its power, and its country music format to Charley.  Now providing non-stop information to an audience thirsting to know.

TARRAH NUNES, PRESIDENT:  If we didn‘t have them we couldn‘t—there‘s no way, I don‘t—we wouldn‘t have any way of getting information. 

SAVIDGE:  And other voices fill the air.  Ham radio operations try to make up for telephones and cell phones that are almost worthless. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hello?

SAVIDGE:  Frustrated emergency officials find themselves going to great lengths, even heights to make contact. 

(on camera):  You can forget about e-mail, but the real mail is now going through here at the damaged Punta Gorda Post Office.  Crucial mail, such as medicines for the elderly, or insurance forms for the devastated. 

(voice-over):  And there are other forms to be filled out.  In Port Charlotte, residents lined up to file for state and federal aid and for many, unemployment.  The task of just housing and feeding has become Herculean, with schools closed, their buses now transport storm weary passengers. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I wish that I could just leave.  You know, and never go through something like this again. 

SAVIDGE:  The storm‘s victims extend far from the hurricane‘s center.  Florida‘s attorney general filed suits against two hotels, accusing them of price gouging. 

CHARLIE CRIST, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL:  The notion that somebody would do this when people are at a time of need is disgraceful. 

SAVIDGE:  A lot has been done and things are improving, but with everything except misery still in short supply, a storm vandalized gas station sign on the edge of town may spell it out best.

Martin Savidge, NBC News Punta Gorda, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  The aftermath to Charley, our No. 4 story on COUNTDOWN.  Up next, we get a quick break from the serious news of the day, “Oddball” ahead.  Do not adjust your sets, you are not seeing things, this is not a “Mini Me,” it is a “Mini Moo.” 

And later, did aliens visit Roswell, New Mexico more than 57 years ago?  You will not believe who is now asking to reopen the investigation. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Where else could you find tiny cattle, discount caskets, and exploding knitting needles?  Where else but COUNTDOWN, where else but our nightly traipse through the gonzo.  Let‘s play “Oddball.”

We begin in Havana, Cuba with a rancher Raul Hernandez.  Now, he is no scientist, but Raul says he‘s developed a new process called “inbreeding” which—with which he can create the greatest thing since the Mr. Coffee machine—little cows.  He calls them vacas de patio, that‘s right, patio cows, for city folk to keep around the house.  They‘re just over three feet high and they can give the owner about three liters of milk a day.  But he‘s not done.  Continuing the inbreeding, he expects the next generation to be just two feet tall.  His goal is to one day breed little four-inch high cows you can just squeeze over your cereal a the morning.  And then eventually, invisible cows.

No, no, 45 years of autocratic rule hasn‘t screwed up that county.

Meantime, from Castro to Costco, where there is a million ways to save.  Groceries, cleaning supplies, personal electronics, and now caskets.  The discount chain has debuted its new line of reduced cost coffins in selected area locations.  Your cost, $799.99.  Just next to the vertical blinds, customers can explore needs for the permanently horizontal without putting their pocketbooks six feet under. 

The store says they can deliver any casket in just 48 hours.  Or if you like, you can just choose to climb in to one right in the store and go to your great reward directly from there. 

Finally, an “Oddball” warning tonight about the dangers of knitting while driving.  Paula Lalish of Port Townsend, Washington, says she was knitting in the passenger seat of the family car when a loud bang forced her husband to veer off the road.  The knitting needle had exploded!  The explosion left a gaping hole in the side of the Beetle, perhaps a buildup of static electricity or something to do with the heat in the car.  Nobody injured, her finger swelled a bit, but the incident has Lalish looking for answers. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAULA LALISH, KNITTING NEEDLE VICTIM:  A fellow from one of the knit chat rooms contacted me.  He‘s also a bomb expert with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and he wants to do a study on the needle. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Which scares you more?  That are there are such things as knitting chat rooms or that they are being monitored by the ATF?  And who is next, Homeland Security? 

“Oddball” now on the record books, COUNTDOWN‘s No. 3 story up next: 

Oprah the juror.  Is there any way this trial could be fair for anyone? 

And more Scott and Amber tapes:  Scott, Amber, Scott, Amber.  Tune in this time when he just happens to say he hopes she isn‘t involved in his wife‘s disappearance.  That‘d be an oops. 

These stories ahead, but first here are COUNTDOWN‘s “Top 3 Newsmakers” of this day.

No. 3:  University of Colorado, last year‘s No. 1 party school, according to the “Princeton Review,” 273,000 messy sports and sex scandals later, it‘s been busted to No. 9.  And a spokesman says, “Everyone is very relieved.”

No. 2:  Florin Carcu of Cunage (ph) in Romania.  Mr. Carcu was said to be so superstitious that he would not leave his house last Friday—Friday the 13th.  Imagine his surprise when, while standing kitchen he was bitten by a killer wasp and died. 

And No. 1:  Aylar, Miss Osmo (ph), competing in the Miss Norway

contest until it was revealed that she had made two hardcore pornography

films in the U.S.  She had quite an explanation—that was not her, it was

her twin sister.  I think that was one of the film‘s plot lines, by the way

·         or, or so I‘m told.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The state‘s attorney‘s office in Cooke County, Illinois advises us that it does not number jurors.  Thus is thwarted the obvious verbal headline, juror number whatever is Oprah Winfrey.  So our number three story in the COUNTDOWN will have to begin with a sillier one.  Would you believe Oprah‘s Crook Club?

For a change, a celebrity in court not facing time or having to  explain why they were sleeping in somebody else‘s house nor getting advance news about the stock market or whatever.  Oprah Winfrey spending her first full day today as a juror in the case of the state of Illinois versus Dion Coleman, who‘s accused of shooting Walter Holley in a dispute over $50 two years ago.

The dialogue between Judge James Linn and the then  prospective juror.  Please introduce yourself.  Whereupon she said, “I‘m Oprah Winfrey.  I‘ve lived in Chicago since 1983 and I have a little talk show.”

How much the trial will become a show is the relevant question tonight.  For some perspective on that, I‘m joined by Mark Mazzarella, attorney, jury consultant, and co-author of the book, “Reading People.”

Mr. Mazzarella, good evening.

MARK MAZZARELLA, ATTORNEY JURY CONSULTANT:  Good evening. 

MAZZARELLA:  Good evening.

OLBERMANN:  We all know that jurors are supposed to come from every walk of life.  Nobody should be excluded, but who could possibly think this is a good idea?

MAZZARELLA:  Well, I‘m really surprised, because she‘s going to be a super juror.  Everyone‘s going to be given her special deference.  All the rest of the jurors aren‘t coming in the back door escorted by police.  She‘s going to be definitely a factor in this. 

OLBERMANN:  Besides just which way she gets in and out of the court  building, how will this materially be a bad idea?  I think we all have this sort of broad idea that it‘s probably a bad one, but what are the particulars?  Why is this not going to be a good thing?

MAZZARELLA:  Well, it‘s going to make the jurors focus on Oprah instead of what their task is.  It‘s going to turn basically a routine case into really a media case, even though it‘s not—it doesn‘t involve O.J.  Simpson or somebody.  It‘s still going to be a media case.  And that‘s going to be distracting to the jury.

It‘s also going to have an impact when they go into deliberations.  She‘s a very dynamic, very forceful person.  She‘s used to controlling everything around here.  And she is going to have a big impact in that jury room.  It‘s going to be a trial by one person, possibly. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes, if that jury room looks like one of her shows, at least they‘ll get it done in 60 minutes.  But do you sense that there is more to this perhaps than meets the eye?  She was quoted as saying she had been excused a couple of times from jury duty, but she had to come in this time because it was not the television sweeps period and she had gotten a strongly worded letter.

Is this judge, Judge Linn, trying to show her and anybody else who seeks an exemption or a delay in their jury service who‘s the boss here?

MAZZARELLA:  Well, I think that may be it.  I think it also—it  can‘t be bad PR for her, notwithstanding whatever she says.  I think for the two lawyers to leave her on I think is probably indicative of their desire to have on their resume for the rest of their lives that they had Oprah Winfrey as a juror, not necessarily what‘s in the best for their clients.  So I think everybody‘s impacted by this.  They can‘t help but be.

OLBERMANN:  Is it assumed that she‘s going to be favoring the defense because she had been a defendant in high profile positions?

MAZZARELLA:  You know, I don‘t think I‘d make that assumption just because it‘s a very different case.  It‘s a murder case.  It‘s very different than what she was going through.  You know, you don‘t know.  Whichever way she goes, though, she‘s going to bring a few followers. 

OLBERMANN:  Can you remember any other cases like this where somebody of this high profile sat on an ordinary jury in a non—in an otherwise non newsworthy case?

MAZZARELLA:  I have never seen a juror of this profile on a jury. 

Never. 

OLBERMANN:  Neither have I.  Attorney and jury consultant, Mark Mazzarella, our great thanks for your perspective and your time tonight. 

MAZZARELLA:  You‘re welcome.

OLBERMANN:  It could be worse, of course.  She could be on the Scott  Peterson jury.  Those 12 benighted souls listened for the fifth day to some of the more than 300 recorded calls between the defendant and  his lady friend Amber Frey.  Frey did take the stand today facing direct examination from the prosecution regarding the phone calls she taped in collaboration with the investigation.

One of the many recordings heard today, Peterson calling Frey after her January 24, 2004 news conference during which she had acknowledged their relationship.  He told her how brave she was and that she showed “amazing character.” 

And testimony and new tapes released today, indicating that more than six weeks after his wife vanished, Scott Peterson was still leaving gifts for his mistress.  All this after matter of factly having told her he hoped she was not involved in his Laci Peterson‘s disappearance. 

We‘ve compared these tapes previously to a soap opera.  As that little remark suggests, it certainly is no longer a very plausible soap opera.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FREY:  You know, Scott, when people find out—and they will—no one will think your behavior is innocent.  Do you understand that?

PETERSON:  Yes, I know that, but I had nothing to do with this.  So you know, once we find her, you know, everyone will know that I was not involved in this.  And I just, you know, I had hoped that you are not involved to any degree and...

FREY:  How—back up.

PETERSON:  Yes.

FREY:  Back up to that statement.

PETERSON:  I guess I hope that you‘re not bothered anymore by any of this.

FREY:  It‘s a little late for that, Scott.

PETERSON:  I know, but I can hope.

FREY:  You can hope?  You can hope for a lot of things.  I mean, you can hope for your Laci to return, you can hope that I‘m not bothered.  You can hope that the news coverage only focused on her, you can hope all these things Scott.  But the fact is the truth prevails.

PETERSON:  The truth will prevail.  And that‘s what we‘re confident—your life should not be affected by this.

FREY:  It should not be.  That‘s a true statement.

PETERSON:  I know.

FREY:  It is, though.  And that‘s a fact.

PETERSON:  I know.  I hope it‘s not anymore.

FREY:  It‘s inevitable...they‘re asking me where I was on the 23rd

You‘ve heard things.  Oh, maybe the girlfriend‘s involved in it.

PETERSON:  No.

FREY:  Great.  Where was I the 23rd?  Now I‘ve got to wrack my brain. 

Where was I the 23rd?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  The real soap operas, of course, are much less far out than that.

Up next, the communion controversy.  The Vatican will have to decide

if an eight-year-old girl‘s first holy communion was or was not valid.  All

because she had a wheat free wafer.  And later as politicians seem less and

less of this earth, would you believe bipartisan agreement in New Mexico to

re-open the Roswell UFO investigation?

Those stories ahead.  First, hear COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m positive, I‘m willing to do it.  And I‘ve got a lot more to gain than I have to lose.  I will not take less than that because I‘m going to have a tattoo on the back of my head for the rest of my life. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I know you‘re staying up day and night.  And I saw you 15 minutes ago.  And you don‘t look a day older than you did then.  How do you keep that young look?

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You know, that‘s the easiest question I have had.  I‘m having fun. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH, GOVERNOR, FLORIDA:  Tomorrow, I‘ll see you all tomorrow.

Tomorrow.  They can go there and the SBA  -- well no, today, I‘m sorry, I thought today was Wednesday.  Maybe I need some rest.  It will be open on Thursday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  You don‘t have to be religious to be startled by this.  The Vatican will apparently have the final say on whether or not an eight-year old girl from New Jersey actually received her first holy communion three months ago.

The local diocese has ruled the communion invalid because the wafers used were gluten free.  They were not made of wheat, because the girl is severely allergic to wheat.  The spirit of Christ is supposed to enter the wafer just before its consumption.  And nobody‘s explained why it couldn‘t enter a rice wafer as easily as a wheat wafer, but that doesn‘t seem to bother anybody.

Our number two story in the COUNTDOWN, should a church put a parent in a position to have to deliberately sicken a child as part of a religious ritual.

I‘m joined now by Haley Waldman and by her mother, Elizabeth Pelly-Waldman.  We thank you both for coming in.

ELIZABETH PELLY-WALDMAN, DAUGHTER‘S COMMUNION DOESN‘T COUNT:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Elizabeth, you and your daughter have Celiac Disease.  I know that all too well.  That‘s—I have that, too.  My executive producer‘s daughter has it probably as bad as you can have it.  But can you explain to our viewer just how serious the problem is?

PELLY-WALDMAN:  Sure, Celiac is very serious and has to be taken seriously.  Because the body‘s immune system attacks the lining of the small intestines.  In response to the gluten, a person with Celiac becomes malnourished.

Haley, for example, suffers from osteopeni, a bone loss, because her damaged intestines do not absorb calcium properly. 

If a person with Celiac does not adhere to the diet, they increase the risk of developing cancer.

OLBERMANN:  So this worked out that a sympathetic priest gave Haley her first communion.  And instead of a wheat wafer, it was a rice wafer.  And this is big enough of a controversy that somebody at the Vatican has to OK this?  How did it get to this point?

PELLY-WALDMAN:  Yes, it is.  Church doctrine states that in  keeping with the traditions of  the last supper, the host must contain some wheat, some gluten to be the valid body of Christ.  So the question I pose to Cardinal Ratsing (ph) or to the Vatican is how does the consumption of a rice-based host versus a wheat-based toast corrupt those traditions?  Does the divinity of the Eucharist lay in wheat?

OLBERMANN:  And did you get an answer?  Or are you anticipating one?

PELLY-WALDMAN:  Not yet.  I am anticipating one.  I was told that the Vatican will be responding to my plight. 

OLBERMANN:  Haley, tell me if you can, how careful do you have to be when you‘re eating?

HALEY WALDMAN, CHURCH SAYS HER COMMUNION DOESN‘T COUNT:  I have to be very careful when I‘m eating.

OLBERMANN:  You have to look at the labels on everything.  You have to check everything before you read it, to make sure—even if it‘s like chewing gum or something like that?

WALDMAN:  Yes. 

OLBERMANN:  Goodness.  Haley, what do you hope happens about the communion wafer?

WALDMAN:  I hope that they change their mind and say I can have the communion again. 

OLBERMANN:  It‘s very important to you, isn‘t it?

WALDMAN:  Yes. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, Elizabeth, I guess it‘s very important to you, too. 

The bottom line here, for somebody with Celiac, even the slightest amount of wheat can be like poison as you mentioned, all the things that can go wrong, internal bleeding, bone density loss, organ disorders, malnutrition, digestive problems of every kind.

And maybe the most—the one that we would just sort of dismiss, but maybe it‘s the most important on a regular basis.  It can make your stomach feel like it‘s exploding.  Does somebody do you think in the church somehow think that God wants anybody to suffer that way if they don‘t have to?  Or to you, is this a question of somebody being underinformed?

PELLY-WALDMAN:  Absolutely not.  In no way shape or form do I think the church understands the capacity of Celiac to harm someone.  I do not suggest that they would offer her this host as a viable option that they knew what it could do to her. 

OLBERMANN:  So where is it right now?  What do you expect to have  happen?  And what kind of support have you gotten?

PELLY-WALDMAN:  Well, I believe that this a cannonball, a man made ball.  And I do not  believe Christ would want my child to obey a canon law that could be potentially harmful to her.

I believe the church can grow and change to meet the needs of the people.  And as I‘ve increased awareness of our plight, I‘ve really  shown the Catholic church is an overwhelming response of support and an outpouring of compassion for Haley and for all Celiacs. 

OLBERMANN:  Where are we in terms of numbers?  In terms of Celiac?  It‘s probably something nobody in the audience has ever heard of before, isn‘t it?

PELLY-WALDMAN:  Right.  But the most recent study out of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Celiac Research is suggesting now that 1 in 133 people actually have Celiac. 

OLBERMANN:  What sort of percentage of that?  Nationwide, is it two or three percent?

PELLY-WALDMAN:  Yes, yes. 

OLBERMANN:  Goodness.

Elizabeth Pelly-Waldman, and her daughter Haley, some of the stories that we do have gray areas in them but as someone who knows a little bit about Celiac disease, you guys are right.  They‘re wrong.  And I hope they figure it out fast.  All the best.  Thanks for coming on the show. 

PELLY-WALDMAN:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Thanks. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Well, over to the news of celebrity gossip and the Hollywood dream machine, the nightly setting we call keeping tabs.  And that dream machine is stuck on recurring nightmares.  It‘s been weeks since they declared the last movie remake.  This one has been rumored since March.  And unfortunately, it‘s true.  Tom Cruise will star in the remake and Steven Spielberg and Tom will produce the not so classic 1953 film “War of the Worlds” starring Gene Barry and a pair of horn rimmed glasses as Dr.  Clayton Forrester, the lead character who did not appear in the classic novel written by H.G. Wells.

And there was a lot of that thing destroying City Hall in L.A.  It‘s a great book, boys.  Please read it before you make the flick.

And speaking of flick, you never hear about it when there are crossed wires down at the cable company and a ball game or a newscast suddenly gets replaced by a cooking showing show, only when one gets replaced by adult movies.

Subscribers in Salem, Massachusetts were enjoying Comcast regional news network CN-8 last Saturday afternoon when it was unexpectedly  supplied by an adult film of some kind.

As one of the complaining subscribers told the newspaper, “The Boston Herald,” it wasn‘t grainy, it was super quality film and production values.  Sorry you were so offended, sir.

COUNTDOWN‘s number one story is up next.  The mystery of Roswell, New

Mexico more than 57 years later.  Did creatures from outer space really

visit us?  And why are creatures from the world of politics opening the new

·         reopening the investigation?  That‘s next.

First your COUNTDOWN‘s top 3 photos of this day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  57 years ago last month, a New Mexico rancher named Mac Brazel drove into the town of Roswell, bringing with him some seemingly inexplicable debris that he said had crashed from the sky days earlier.  It was the beginning of the debate that has now lasted more than half a century.

Was what the farmer found the remnants of a series of weather balloon tests?  Or was it, as a military news release almost immediately concluded, parts of a crashed, unidentified flying object? 

This is news somehow?

Yes, it is, because in our number one story in the COUNTDOWN, there has been call for a reopening of the Roswell investigation, a call made by the governor of New Mexico, supported by his state‘s Republican leaders.  Bipartisanship and possibly spaceship.  Governor Bill Richardson, the Democrat, COUNTDOWN viewer on vacation this week, made the comments in the forward to a new paperback entitled, “The Roswell Dig Diaries.”

In it, he says “it would help everyone if the U.S. government disclosed everything it knows.  With full disclosure and our best scientific investigation, we should be able to find out what happened on that fateful day in July of 1947.  The American people can handle the truth no matter how bizarre or mundane,” and contrary to what you see in the movies.

A top astronomer, though, belittles Richardson‘s remarks.  He says it confirms that election to high office does not guarantee wisdom.

But New Mexico‘s Republicans, who aren‘t going to get caught with their alien pants down, have rallied to Richardson‘s support.  New Mexico Republican Party Executive Director Greg Graves says he‘s always suspected the crash was, quote, “something more than a weather balloon” and agrees with Governor Richardson.

Whether or not aliens reached Roswell, the alien industry sure has.  Julie Shuster, whose father wrote up the original news release about the flying saucer in 1947, is the director of that city‘s International UFO Museum, and she joins us now.

Ms. Shuster, good evening.  Thanks for your time. 

JULIE SHUSTER, UFO MUSEUM:  You‘re welcome.  Thanks for inviting us on the show. 

OLBERMANN:  Does it surprise you that Governor Richardson and the Republican leaders would both call for reopening of this investigation?  I mean, are UFO-logists a big voting block in New Mexico or something?

SHUSTER:  I don‘t have a clue if UFO-logists are a big voting block.

But no, it doesn‘t surprise me that he would ask for this, because, you know, it is something that‘s been covered up for 57 years.  And he‘s—you know, we do have bipartisan if both the Republicans and the Democrats in the state are saying, open it up. 

OLBERMANN:  If the government, though, opens it up and there‘s further information and it says no, the new evidence is out and it proves that there were eyelets on the thing, it was a weather balloon, true believers would just ignore that anyway.  And if the government said instead oh yes, those were UFOs, suddenly most of the conspiracy theories would be deflated.  Is it not really in everybody‘s best interest to not find out anything definitive?

SHUSTER:  Well, I personally believe that either way, if it is proven 100 percent that it was a weather balloon, that it was not extraterrestrial, there are still going to be believers who have seen crop circles, had abductions, had sightings, whatever, that are going to say wait a minute, maybe Roswell didn‘t have them, but some—there is extraterrestrial life.

On the other side, if they say no, you know, it did happen, then the skeptics are going to still be out there saying, let‘s see how we can poke holes in that story. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, as this—if Governor Richardson gets his way and whatever remaining information is released and the investigation is reopened, what is it—is there something in particular that you‘re  looking for?  Is there a Rosetta stone of Roswell that we need to see? 

SHUSTER:  We would love to see any documentation, any pieces of the debris, any tests that were done, any photographs.  I mean, we‘re kind of open to pretty much anything that would be supplied that would prove it one way or the other. 

OLBERMANN:  This is a question I always ask about UFOs.  And given  your experience both in terms of your family and in terms of dealing with this in a constant visitor basis, if they exist, whoever is in them has got to be more advanced than we are because they can get here, we can‘t get wherever they are.  It‘s presumably from millions of miles away, unless there‘s a place we don‘t know about that‘s closer.

Yet despite this intelligence, apparently they don‘t want to just arrive here and stay a spell, and meet the leaders.  And at the same time, they‘re either not good at keeping out of sight, or they don‘t care if we see them, because we have these sightings all the time.  Something to me violates the logical chain there.  Wouldn‘t they have to be either more secretive than they are or less secretive than they are?

SHUSTER:  You know, that‘s a good question, and I don‘t have the answer.  I—we have lots of theories.  Are they time travelers, are they distance travelers, are they inter-dimensional travelers, you know, is it just a mistake they‘re here?  I don‘t know.  They may be just kind of saying here‘s a little taste of what we are.  And you know, here is just a little teaser, and see how we react. 

OLBERMANN:  But you‘re convinced ultimately that—and I guess your  father was convinced that the weather balloon theory just doesn‘t hold up?

SHUSTER:  My father has stated that, yes, something not of this world had happened north of Roswell in 1947. 

OLBERMANN:  And you agree with him based on evidence or just by  inheriting that opinion?

SHUSTER:  No, I agree with him because I sit here daily and watch people that were here in ‘47, people from the community that have lived here all their lives or were military and moved on that have said, yes, something happened.  That was not a weather balloon north of Roswell.  I watch people come in the museum daily that say they have had sightings, they‘ve been abducted, they‘ve, you know, seen things.

So you know, I believe it because of the evidence that‘s out there, that‘s saying that—the evidence saying that it happened is a lot stronger than the evidence that said it didn‘t. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, perhaps we will find out more.  Julie Shuster of the International UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico on the night the state‘s governor has called for a reopening of the investigation.  Thanks for joining us and keep watching the skis—the skies.

SHUSTER:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Take care. 

That‘s COUNTDOWN.  Thanks for being part of it.  I‘m Keith Olbermann. 

Keep watching the skis.  Good night and good luck.

END   

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