updated 10/29/2004 11:28:47 AM ET 2004-10-29T15:28:47

Guest: Matthew Cooper, Harvey Levin, Bill Lee,Robin Wright, Jerry Springer

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?  The al Qa Qaa caca (ph), the vice president says John Kerry doesn‘t have his facts straight.  The ex-mayor of New York says it would have been the troops‘ responsibility anyway.  And a local TV station may have the truth on tape.  They think they were at that weapons dump before it was looted, but after American troops were in control of Iraq. 

P-E-A-D, spell it, don‘t say it, pre-election anxiety disorder.  If this picture looks funny to you, you may already be infected. 

Speaking of infected, more settlement rumors.  What about that day in court tomorrow? 

And nevermind tomorrow, what about last night?  The red hot Red Sox, have now won two of the last 86 world series.  We will visit with their legendary space man, Bill Lee.  And reveal the real cause of the curse they just broke. 

All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.

Good evening.  This is Thursday, October 28, 5 days until the 2004 presidential election.  And no campaign on record has ever not talked about explosive issues, but who could have imagined that with the finish line in sight, the 2004 contest would literally have one.  Not about him.  We‘ll get to him at the time indicated. 

Our 5th story in the COUNTDOWN, the missing munitions at the al Qa Qaa dump in Iraq.  Al Qa Qaa, a fitting name in a story that has been spun and handled and shoveled so thoroughly, you might expect a new lawn to grow under it by Saturday morning.  But tonight, what might be conclusive evidence from an unlikely source, the videotapes of a local Minnesota television station whose reporter was embedded near al Qa Qaa in the April 2003 time span critical to ascertaining the truth. 

The basic elements are not in dispute: Before the American invasion a year ago March, there were 380 tons of explosive materials at al Qa Qaa.  The U.N. knew about it.  The International Atomic Energy Agency knew about it.  The Bush administration knew about it.  And then suddenly those 380 tons were not there anymore.  Had they been removed by Saddam Hussein before the invasion?  Or looted after it by the Iraqi insurgency, because the U.S. did not bother to lock down to cornucopia of ammo? 

The ABC station in Minneapolis, St. Paul, KSTP, may have the answer.  Its reporter and photographer, embedded with the 101st Airborne Division, were shown a huge weapons facility by the troops.  Their GPS technology and those soldiers indicated they were on the southern edge of the al Qa Qaa base. 

The station‘s videotape showed row after row of materials marked explosive.  Many of them marked, al Qa Qaa.  All of them in place, sealed with cables marked IAEA.  That would be International Atomic Energy Agency.  Cables that were easily broken into by the men of the 101st, and none of it, thereafter, secured. 

The videotape was shot on April 18, 2003, 9 days after the fall of Baghdad.  If it indeed shows al Qa Qaa, the question seems resolved.  The weapons were not removed by Saddam.  They were removed, because the United States did not stop anybody from removing them. 

The New York Times today also quotes 3 former al Qa Qaa officials who say they witnessed looting on an enormous scale at the ammo facility in the days after the American troops had passed by al Qa Qaa.  The looting started after the collapse of the regime, the paper quoted the region‘s security chief, Watigh al Dulami (ph). 

The fundamental question, what kind of war over weapons of mass destruction is it if you leave 760,000 pounds of conventional weapons of mass destruction lying around for insurgents and others to carry off at their leisure extended as far as Russia?  A spokesman for that nation‘s defense ministry dismissing as quote absurd and ridiculous.  The claim of an anonymous Pentagon official to the newspaper, the Washington Times, that Russian special forces moved many of Saddam‘s weapons into Syria, in March 2003. 

Back here, it continued to be as if the 380 tons of ammo had been dropped into the middle of the presidential campaign.  Yesterday, the president responded by accusing Senator Kerry of jumping to conclusions without knowing the facts.  Today in Toledo, Kerry used four very unusual words in response. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, Mr. President, I agree with you. 

George Bush jumped to conclusions about weapons of mass destruction and he rush to war without a plan to win the peace.  The bottom line about these weapons that have disappeared, here‘s the bottom line, they‘re not where they‘re supposed to be.  You were warned to guard them.  You didn‘t guard them. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The administration, today, defended itself from 2 different tacks from 2 different spokesmen.  The vice president was in Schofield, Wisconsin. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  He is just plain wrong on the facts.  And he has never let himself be burdened by the facts in terms the charges that he‘s made.  But I think it is a kind of, well frankly, I think it‘s a cheap shot.  And I personally believe that it says something about the character of the man who would make it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And a most unexpected argument from former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on NBC “Today‘s Show.”  Maybe the weapons did fall off the back of the truck on the administration‘s watch, but the buck, he says, does not stop at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, FRM. NEW YORK MAYOR:  No matter how you try to blame it on the president, the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there.  Did they search carefully enough?  Didn‘t they search carefully enough? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Later in that interview, Mr. Giuliani insisted he was not blaming the troops. 

To sort out the facts and the political implications, I‘m delighted to be joined by Robin Wright, diplomatic correspondent of the “Washington Post.”  Robin, thanks again for your time.  Good evening.

ROBIN WRIGHT, WASHINGTON POST:  Nice to be with you.

OLBERMANN:  Are the facts even close to being known yet?  And what importance would you give to that April 18 videotape from the embedded Minnesota reporters? 

WRIGHT:  Well, I think the tape is probably very important.  But the reality is that there are a lot of U.S. officials who are acknowledging in private that there was looting immediately after the U.S. troops went through.  What we may not know is at what point, how much and where it went.  That may be virtually impossible to ever fully reconstruct. 

The irony is tragically, that conventional weapons have proven to be even deadlier for U.S. troops than unconventional weaponry, the weapons of mass destruction. 

OLBERMANN:  Clearly, the administration was caught off guard by this story.  It broke on Monday.  The president didn‘t respond personally until yesterday.  Mayor Giuliani probably didn‘t help the cause at all this morning.  Why does this appear to have been such a surprise? 

WRIGHT:  Well I think the administration is so focused, as has been the Kerry campaign, on what is transpired in Iraq since the invasion, the emergence of an insurgency that has killed more than 1,100 American troops now, the ongoing violence, the hostage taking, that there hasn‘t been a lot of focus until now on what happened during the war and the immediate aftermath. 

Now we‘re beginning to look back.  And I think we‘re discovering how many questions were not answered and still have to be addressed. 

OLBERMANN:  Which also begs the question of the timing of this story  making its way out, events that may have taken place 18 months ago, 8 days before an election.  One response to this, one widely held response, has been the story was time for maximum impact against the re-election campaign.  What is the evidence that that claim is not true? 

WRIGHT:  Well, it‘s hard for me to tell.  I wasn‘t involved in the story which was originally broken by the “New York Times” and CBS.  But it looks like they were actually not going to run it until the, this coming Sunday, which would have only given the administration 2 days to respond.  This way, the fact that it is now out several days, has given the administration a chance to respond.  So, in fact, it plays to the administration‘s favor rather than against it. 

OLBERMANN:  Robin Wright, diplomatic correspondent of the Washington Post, always a great help to have you on the program.  Thank you again. 

WRIGHT:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  The administration, meanwhile, has just gotten another bit of non-help from what is theoretically its own side.  The FBI reveals it is investigating whether the Pentagon illegally awarded no bid contracts to Halliburton.  The chief contracting officer of the Army Corps of Engineers announced over the weekend that her agency, in her opinion, unfairly awarded such contracts for work in Iraq worth billions to a Halliburton subsidiary.  The bureau says it wants to interview her, Bunnatine Greenhouse.  Her attorneys say fine, but give her whistleblower protection first. 

The FBI has already begun seizing documents from Army offices in Texas.  The corps says it is cooperating with the investigation, so does Halliburton, although the company dismisses all of this as election year politicking. 

Like anything else in this campaign, the impact of an FBI investigation into Halliburton will not be validated until it shows up in the opinion polls.  If there are any polls left.  The Washington Post reporting today that the validity of polling itself is being questioned because the number of citizens cooperating with pollsters has dropped to perilously low levels. 

In the 1960‘s, about two third of phone calls resulted in what pollster called completed interviews, reports the Post.  Today, the Post reports cooperation is down to about 38 percent for the big national media surveys conducted over several days.  And it is down to less than 20 percent in the so-called one day polls. 

With that ringing endorsement of the science, let‘s do the nightly roll through polls.  Senator Kerry losing ground in the Zogby daily tracking poll for Reuters.  Yesterday it was Bush 48-47.  Today it is Bush 48-46.  The president also gaining in the Washington Post/Sunset daily tracking poll.  Yesterday, Kerry 49-48, today those numbers are flipped, Bush 49, Kerry 48. 

To the battleground states, where it appears New Jersey is once again back in play.  In the Quinnipiac University/Garden State poll, Mr. Kerry was up by 4 last week, today he is tied with the president at 46.  Los Angeles Times poll, the big 3 battleground states, Bush up by 8 in Florida, Bush down by 6 in Ohio, Bush and Kerry tied in Pennsylvania.  Those results, somewhat different than the other recent polling in those key states.

And from the polls to the charts.  Never before has entertainment played such an pivotal role in a campaign.  And if you think of that abstractly, look at this.  Bruce Springsteen, not just merely performing at John Kerry events but also speaking at them in Madison, Wisconsin, and Columbus, Ohio.  The part stump speech, part impromptu concert drew an estimated 80,000 people on the streets of the Wisconsin capital. 

Springsteen‘s non-musical message.  “John Kerry stand for sane and responsible policy, civil rights and safeguarding our precious democracy here at home.” You can argue that his musical fan base is not what the entertainment industry considers the young demographic, but in politics as in TV, 50 and under are the babes in swaddling clothes.  And getting them to vote, especially those who are still in college, has become the focus this month of an old friend of this program, television host and the former mayor of Cincinnati, Jerry Springer. 

Jerry, good evening.  How are you? 

JERRY SPRINGER, FMR. CINCINNATI MAYOR:  Hey, Keith, fine.  Nice talking to you. 

OLBERMANN:  Your project in Ohio has been given a subtle title, No excuse, get off your blank and go vote.  What is the premise to this.

SPRINGER:  Well, that was the title given by the students at the university.  I go around to various college campuses and travel around the state basically trying to get young people originally to register and now that they are registered, to make sure they do in fact come out and vote.  This is, you know, they are the one that are going to bear the brunt of the policies of whatever administration is next.  It is their brothers and sisters that are going to be fighting the war, and if we have another war in the next four years.  You know, they‘re the ones that are now looking for job as they graduate.  So I tell them, it doesn‘t much matter whether or not you like politics, whether you think the whole thing is boring.  The fact is, politicians are running their lives.  They‘ve got to vote.  They‘re going to pay the price for this. 

OLBERMANN:  Are the Democrats in your opinion doing more to get the younger voters and what is the hook, because obviously, to presume sympathy of college age kids has swayed back and forth a few times from left to right and back again over the last 40 years. 

SPRINGER:  Yes, I can speak mainly about Ohio because that‘s where I‘ve been concentrating on.  I can tell that you yes, the new registrants, particularly the new young registrants, tend to be Democrats.  And I say that because they‘ve been register by Democrat organizations.  “The New York Times,” several weeks ago, ran a story that said, that there has been an increase of registrants among Democratic group.  That‘s like the Democratic Party, moveon.org, that kind of thing.  Those groups have increased registration 250 percent since the year 2000 in terms of new registrants.  Republican organizations have increased their base 25 percent, compared to 2000. 

So clearly, most of the new registrants tend to be Democrats.  What we don‘t know, what we don‘t know is how many of these people are going to come out and vote.  How many are going to be intimidated by all the stuff that‘s going on here in Ohio, the challenges being made.  Clearly if anyone who is registered vote, I clearly believe that John Kerry will win Ohio.  But we don‘t yet know whether they‘ll all come out. 

OLBERMANN:  You just referred to it, there‘s early evidence that Ohio might be the 2004 version of Florida, both in terms of decisiveness and dubiousness. 

Do you have a read yet on how, not necessarily the result is going to be, but when we‘re going to get the result and how clean it‘s going to be? 

SPRINGER:  I‘m thinking before 2006.  No, I suspect that --  don‘t know how clean it‘s going to be.  Here‘s what‘s happening.  I know for a fact, for example, that in many, many precincts, there are—the Republican Party for example is sending lawyers to the precincts to actually challenge people when they show up to vote.  In other words, they will be able under the law to stand there.  Someone will come in and say I‘m a new registered voter, I‘d like to register.  And the lawyer can say, I challenge you.  That person then has to sign an affidavit, show proof, and that can be pretty intimidating. 

It can also slow down the whole process.  So you‘re going to have people standing in line.  Every voter who goes there gets challenged.  They‘re going to lose interest.  Perhaps go home or not want to face signing affidavits, questioning and all this.  You know, maybe they think had some outstanding traffic tickets.  They‘ll think, if I show up and vote, I‘m going to be on a jury next week. 

I mean, all this kind of stuff, it scares people away.  They even sent

letters out, 35,000 letters have been written to new registrants by the

Republican Party.  It was sent out by the party telling these new

registrants that they are going to be challenged.  That if they think they

should be entitled to vote, they have to go to a hearing.  They can bring

someone along to represent them.  Now a judge—yes, a judge just decided

that‘s not legal.  But in the meantime these people got the and now their -

·         you know they may decide not to show up. 

OLBERMANN:  Two words, provisional ballots.  Jerry Springer of the “Jerry Springer Show,” friend of COUNTDOWN on the road in Ohio.  Many thanks again.

SPRINGER:  Yes.  You‘re the best.  Thanks.

OLBERMANN:  But as the election approaches, do you fine yourself irritable, nervous, indecisive? 

I mean more than unusual?  Then you may have P-E-A-D, pre-election anxiety disorder.  PEAD.

We‘ll be examining that phenomenon in a moment.  First one of the symptoms.  When every campaign ad begins to look like a page out of “Where‘s Waldo,” well, more evidence that it is no longer possible to slip anything past the vast nets of the blogsphere. 

Yesterday the Bush/Cheney ad, whatever it takes.  The visuals, the presidents acceptance speech, the convention, various patriotic images, culminating with a shot of hundreds of troops apparently listening to him speak. 

Within hour, the many different Internets began pointing out irregularities in this final shot, namely that these guys and then these guys, look a lot like those guys.  The campaign says an editor was told to crop a picture, and went kind of wild on his own.  No intent to deceive.  Whatever it takes indeed.  But initially the campaign denied any doctoring which left only two other explanations, one there was a military unit comprised largely of identical twin.  Or two, the armed forces are now using highly advanced cloning techniques. 

Speaking of doctoring, there is a new disease spreading among voters, Republican and Democrats alike.  We referred to it.  We will go into detail. 

And counting down to the O‘Reilly case, while counting up the pledges that have poured in for a copy of those historical tapes. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  New York is so not a swing state that a recent poll indicated that remarkably few voters could identify Howard Mills.  He is the Republican running against Senator Charles Schumer.  When that poll came out, it got Mills‘ first name wrong.  Yet in New York City, every man and woman of voting age is stopped by a well meaning, get-out-the-vote activists. 

Our fourth story in the COUNTDOWN tonight, the pressure is on, and it is not just on the candidates who are sweating it out.  Voters are being ported, cajoled, bribed, even bullied into exercising their civil rights.  And anxiety about the coming election is so high, it has even spawned its own kind of unofficial emotional illness.  More on that in a moment.  First, the latest appeal to voters from the contenders. 

This weekend, both candidates appeared in interviews in the program “Sabado Gigante,” with the famous Don Francisco, whose real name is Mario Kreutzberger, by the way.  That‘s Univision‘s self-titled weekly entertainment variety program.  It is on for like 19 hours on Saturday.  And they‘ll be interviewed separately on a noted but faded sports news broadcast facing tough questions on the price of going to ballgames and how much they love baseball. 

Of course, the interviews were recorded before a starting pitcher for John Kerry‘s beloved Boston Red Sox went on the morning show circuit this morning.  Kurt Schilling‘s message for America, quote: “Tell everybody to vote, and vote Bush next week.”

Schilling will join the president on the stump tomorrow, ailing ankle and all, no doubt with blood still seeping through his sock.  Unless it‘s ketchup. 

Anyway, so basically, you‘re surrounded.  The news, the sports channels, Spanish language Saturday night 19-hour long variety shows.  Maybe the candidates‘ faces will soon appear on overnight TV test patterns.  And if you‘re already seeing them in your dreams, you may have PEAD—pre-election anxiety disorder, the term coined by “The Washington Post” to describe that general feeling of anger, concern, and unease this political season.  Milder symptoms can include arguments over the dinner table and sleepless nights.  But perhaps the most extreme example manifested itself in what is being described as a political attack in Florida. 

Police say that after his girlfriend said she was leaving him and going to vote for John Kerry, 18-year-old Steven Soper threatened to kill her.  Soper, who wants to join the Marines, is a stout Bush supporter.  According to police, he became enraged and held a screwdriver to his girlfriend‘s neck, telling her, quote, “you‘ll never live to see the election.”  Officers tasered Mr. Soper before he could hurt her or anyone else.  He is currently in jail.  She remains free to cast her vote however she chooses next Tuesday.  No guarantee, of course, that it will be counted, because this is Florida we‘re talking about. 

But the unfortunate young lady might get a reward just for going to the ballot box.  Not from the Kerry campaign, but from dozens of different businesses and groups around the country.  Free rides, free passes, even free snacks.  All available to anyone who votes. 

COUNTDOWN‘s Monica Novotny is here with a look inside the voters‘ gift bag.  Like we were at the Oscars or something.  Monica, good evening.

MONICA NOVOTNY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Keith, good evening. 

It is, of course, illegal to coerce or buy a vote in this country.  But what about a little sweet talking?  A subtle incentive to push people to the polls?  Well, enticements aimed at increased voter turnout now and in the future are everywhere, ranging from small tokens to cold hard cash. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARK OSTERLOH, CHAIRMAN, ARIZONANS FOR VOTER REWARDS:  Who do you know that doesn‘t want to be a millionaire? 

NOVOTNY (voice-over):  From lotteries to cookies, the freebies are on. 

Across the country, they‘re getting out the vote at all costs. 

OSTERLOH:  What we‘re proposing is that if you vote in an election here in Arizona, you will automatically be entered into a drawing and one voter will be picked every two years.  And they will win a million-dollar prize. 

NOVOTNY:  Mark Osterloh heads the Arizonans for Voter Rewards, a group attempting to get an initiative on the state‘s ballot in 2006 to establish an election lottery. 

OSTERLOH:  The money is going to come out of the unclaimed prize fund of the Arizona lottery.  So it‘s not going to create any new bureaucracy.  It is not going to create any new taxes.  And we will probably bump voter participation up into the 95 percent plus range. 

NOVOTNY:  If you can‘t wait two years, go online.  At Voteornot.com, they say if you registered to vote here, you could win big after Election Day. 

JAMES HONG, VOTEORNOT.COM:  After the election, we‘re going to pick a winner, and that person will win $100,000.  After you register, you can also pass the sweepstakes onto your friends.  If you refer the winner, then you also win $100,000. 

NOVOTNY:  If cash can‘t tempt the voter, how about cookies?  One national hotel chain is giving them out free on November 2nd

In Miami, it is perks on parade for early voters.  Free tickets for the local ice skating rink, swimming pool, bus system and parking lot.  In Cincinnati, voters can catch free bus rides through the battleground all Election Day long.  And in Madison, New Jersey, at a Drew University literature class where voting is mandatory, a few moments in the polling booth earns young voters a seat for the rest of the semester.  

MERRILL SKAGGS, DREW UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR:  What I want them to do is vote.  And whatever that takes, I‘m willing at this point to do. 

OSTERLOH:  If you get your incentives right, you‘ll usually get the action out of people that you want. 

HONG:  What better incentive for a lot of people than $100,000, right? 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOVOTNY:  Now, as enticing as some of these options are, the real answer to voter turnout might not be the cash or the cookies.  It could be as simple as same-day registration.  The state that led the nation in voter turnout in 2000 is Minnesota.  It is one of a handful of states in which you can register and vote at the same time.  Four years ago, in addition to pre-registered voters, almost half a million people registered and voted on Election Day in Minnesota.  So maybe just making it really easy would help. 

OLBERMANN:  Or a game show called “Who do you know who doesn‘t want to be a millionaire?”  I like that.

NOVOTNY:  That‘s the one. 

OLBERMANN:  COUNTDOWN‘s Monica Novotny.  In other countries with mandatory voting, you get fined if you don‘t vote.  Here, we have to give people cookies as an incentive to go vote.  

NOVOTNY:  Chocolate clip cookies. 

OLBERMANN:  Chocolate chip cookies.  Many thanks. 

How many helicopters does it take to rescue one dog in about four inches of water?  Only in “Oddball” could we pose or answer that question. 

And is that your final answer?  Trying to put the loofa back in the loofa tube.  You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  We rejoin you now.

And with politics in back of us and politics in front of us, we stop the COUNTDOWN for a moment to give you the pause that refreshes.  Let‘s play “Oddball.”

It has rained like hell off and on for two weeks in Los Angeles.  Rain is no friend there.  Rivers rise.  Floods spread.  Labrador retrievers named Bruno get caught.  He and his owner were caught in that tunnel near Toluca Lake, California.  The human got out, though other humans came back for Bruno.  Despite the rescue of two choppers, it proved much more difficult than first thought. 

Even getting properly lowered into position was tough, as rescuer Alan Nail (ph) dangled a few feet above the water signaling, down, down, or he might have been trying to tap dance on the water.  Who can tell? 

Finally on the scene, Nail retrieved the retriever from the tunnel, hooked him up and lifted him to safety.  We are led believe to Mr. Nail called a meeting after the rescue to talk about stuff. 

And so Bruno lives another day to chase the dream of every L.A. dog, to become a super doggy fashion model in fabulous England.  Sure, it looks glamorous here at the second annual Harrods Dog Fashion Show.  All the latest designers on display.  One pup even wearing a $22,000 diamond-encrusted doggy tag, but put the pressure on these dogs to keep in catwalk shape, not to mention the backbiting and of course rear-end sniffing has sent more than one hound to a desperate end, bitter, broken, and living in a van down by the river. 

If there is a second Bush administration, will any members of the first one wind up living down by the river?  We start a two-part series on the possible Cabinets of the candidates, and the possible end of 16 days of fun.  We may have rubbed this loofah for the last time. 

These stories ahead. 

No. 3, Fabiola Armitage of Fruit Cove, Florida.  Despite having the same last name as the secretary of state, she is a supporter of Mr. Kerry and she‘s under arrest for stealing 78 campaign signs that supported Mr.  Bush.  In fact, she‘s charged with grand theft lawn signs. 

No. 2, Martin Burn of Dublin and little dog Brock.  A Jack Russell terrier ran away from home last week.  Mr. Burn was trying to forget Brock by watching a telecast of a local football match when suddenly he saw something run on to the field and chase the soccer ball for five minutes.  It was Brock, his dog.  The stadium was about eight miles away.  Dog and owner have now been reunited, although the dog now does suddenly have a penchant for starting soccer riots. 

And, No. 1, Oprah.  It was inevitable.  Remember the cars she gave away to every member of her audience, the ones that would have cost the winners thousands of dollars in taxes?  The first of them has now been offered for auction on eBay. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  In Great Britain, the party out of office maintain what‘s called a shadow Cabinet.  There‘s a real minister for defense.  Then there‘s opposition‘s shadow minister for defense.  When the power shifts, the shadow ministers often take over the job they were shadowing.  Not here.  You have to take whoever the president springs on you after you vote him in. 

So our third story on the COUNTDOWN, exactly who would we be likely to see in the next Cabinet?  We‘ll do this in two parts, for a John Kerry administration tomorrow night, and for a second George Bush administration tonight. 

This was all freshened this morning up during the already controversial appearance of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on “The Today Show.”  Mentioned as a prospective Republican presidential nominee in ‘08, now he‘s been mentioned as a potential secretary in ‘05.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TODAY SHOW”)  

RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK:  I want to see us successfully finish what the terrorists started here in the city.  And I think George Bush can accomplish that.  And I don‘t believe John Kerry can. 

MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, “THE TODAY SHOW”:  Would you accept the role of secretary of homeland security? 

GIULIANI:  I‘m not in this for any kind of job.  I‘m not looking for a job.

LAUER:  Would you accept the role of attorney general? 

GIULIANI:  You didn‘t mention manager of the Yankees.  That‘s the one.

(CROSSTALK)

LAUER:  Let me try one more. 

GIULIANI:  That‘s the one that I‘ve always dreamed of and thought of all my life. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  To help us try to get a handle on at least the possibilities, if not the nominees, in a second Bush Cabinet, I‘m joined by Matthew Cooper, a White House correspondent for “TIME” magazine.

Mr. Cooper, good evening. 

MATTHEW COOPER, “TIME”:  Thanks, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  With the hope of moving through as many of these positions as possible, I guess the easiest starting point is, who stays?  Particularly, does Donald Rumsfeld stay? 

COOPER:  Well, I think the smart betting—and it is only betting—is that he probably would. 

He wants to get back to reforming the Pentagon, which is what he started to do before 9/11.  And I think there‘s a feeling that Bush is basically happy with him—Cheney certainly is—and that he‘s not eager to go.  So if I had to bet money, I would say he stays. 

OLBERMANN:  What about State?  It‘s been assumed Colin Powell is gone. 

Who would replace him? 

COOPER:  Yes, I think he has all but said he is going to go.  And it‘s a very demanding job. 

Well, one bet is a former U.S. Senator John Danforth, who is now our ambassador to the United States.  He would get through Senate confirmation easily.  He is not associated with the Iraq war in any way.  He would be a fresh face.  He might be a good choice.

OLBERMANN:  And the attorney general‘s position, that might change? 

COOPER:  Well, it is possible.  I don‘t think there is a great love lost between the White House and the attorney general.  And I think it is telling that whenever Bush visits Pennsylvania, he always mentions Tom Ridge and how you raised him right here. 

When he goes to Missouri, I haven‘t heard the Ashcroft mentions as often.  I think one possibility is Ashcroft‘s former deputy, Larry Thompson, who is African-American.  He would be the first African-American attorney general.  And he would be a fresh face. 

OLBERMANN:  Rudy Giuliani, he has been mainstream during the campaign, if not before it.  Could he have a shot at the Cabinet or anything else working for the Bush administration in the next four years? 

COOPER:  I‘m sure he could get it.  I don‘t think—I don‘t get the vibe that he wants it.  I think when you‘ve been mayor of New York and you‘ve been on such a national stage after 9/11, I find it hard to believe anything short of the big job would really make him happy. 

OLBERMANN:  This is not about a Cabinet-level position, but what about the national security adviser, Dr. Rice? 

COOPER:  Well, a lot of friend of Condi Rice have told me, she‘s very tired.  She‘s very eager to go.  And it is an enormously demanding job. 

I mean, that said, I think if Bush really implores her to stay in some capacity, she‘ll either stay in the position she‘s in now as the national security adviser, maybe move to that State Department job when Powell leaves. 

OLBERMANN:  And, lastly, it is almost impossible to believe that Mr.  Bush would not get to appoint a Supreme Court justice, maybe a chief justice.  Does he have a first choice already in mind? 

COOPER:  If he does, we don‘t know it yet. 

There‘s been speculation about the White House counsel,  Alberto Gonzales, would be kind of exciting if he put the first Hispanic justice on the court.  But that said, some people on the right have trouble with him, think he may be too soft on abortions rights.  So he might have to look elsewhere.

OLBERMANN:  Matthew Cooper, the White House correspondent for “TIME” magazine, an excellent checklist on a possible second Bush administration Cabinet, many thanks for your time, sir.

COOPER:  Thanks, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  As mentioned, tomorrow here, who might be in a John Kerry Cabinet?  That and a time-tested way to find out who will win this election more than 36 hours before the polls open, a simple event that has forecast correctly the last 17 presidential votes.  We‘ll tell you about it tomorrow on COUNTDOWN, 8:00 p.m. and midnight Eastern, 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 Pacific.  Be there.  Aloha.

Now something we have not seen since we reelected Woodrow Wilson. 

Their team was dead as Jacob Marley‘s ghost.  Now they are world champions.  And while you at home keep digging through the couch cushions to add to the save-the-tapes fun, an awful word is murmured, settlement. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Ahead, the man the Fenway faithful called Spaceman back in the old says, before the Boston Red Sox were world champions.  And the latest from the court of falafel opinion next on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS:  This brutal ordeal is now officially over, and I will never speak of it again. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Don‘t you tell me it is over.  I‘ll tell you if it is over.  Brutal ordeal.  Show is still on the air, isn‘t it? 

Well, the long struggle is apparently over for the forces of posterity and their battle with the forces of posterior, as it is were.  Well, maybe we‘re still in the ball game.  I don‘t know. 

Our No. 2 story on the COUNTDOWN, all cases and claims have been withdrawn and all parties have agreed that there was no wrongdoing whatsoever by Mr. O‘Reilly, Ms. Mackris or Ms. Mackris‘ counsel.  And with those cold 27 words, it all belongs to the ages. 

On the eve of a court hearing tomorrow, the cases of Mackris v.  O‘Reilly and O‘Reilly v. Mackris have been settled and withdrawn, peace over war, a sad, sad moment for our nation.  It is your entertainment dollars in action, day 16 of the Bill O‘Reilly investigations.

You will recall my offer to pay off Ms. Mackris‘s reported $99,000 debt so she could continue her sexual harassment suit against Bill O‘Reilly and not destroy any tapes she may have made of his I-want-to-collect calls.  Your pledges to add to that offer continued to pour in all day unsolicited to an incredible total of $173,000, and more, $211.73.  I thank you.  The kids thank you.  The falafels thank you.  You will not be held to your pledges, probably. 

News of the settlement was broken by Harvey Levin, the creator and executive producer of television‘s “Celebrity Justice” and a former colleague of mine in the exciting world of local news in Los Angeles. 

Harvey, good evening.

HARVEY LEVIN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, “CELEBRITY JUSTICE”:  Hi, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Did Bill O‘Reilly manage to stuff the toothpaste back into the tube? 

LEVIN:  You know, I kind of think he did.  The best thing I can point to is, who would have thought back in the Monica Lewinsky days, Keith, that John Kerry would view Bill Clinton as the prize person to stump for him in the last week? 

People forget this stuff.  They put in it context.  They laugh.  I think he is moving on. 

OLBERMANN:  I know everything is confidential in this settlement.  There‘s been no figure released as to how much money she‘s getting.  But you‘re a lawyer.  Maybe we can figure this out by reading the statement piece by piece and assigning value to each part.

Let me just read some of this.  The parties regret this matter has caused tremendous pain and they have agreed to settlement. 

What is that costing him, about half a million right there? 

(LAUGHTER)

LEVIN:  That seems fair. 

OLBERMANN:  All cases and claims have been withdrawn and all parties have agreed that there was no wrongdoing whatsoever by Mr. O‘Reilly, by Ms.  Mackris, or Ms. Mackris‘ counsel, Benedict P. Morelli and associates.

Now, how much for that or did Mackris and Morelli wind up paying for that part?  

LEVIN:  OK, you know what?  You‘re baiting me here.  I know where you‘re going here. 

Look, we know that there was an offer between Fox and O‘Reilly of millions of dollars even before the lawsuits were filed.  So it‘s a safe bet this woman is an instant millionaire.  She hit the jackpot with there one. 

OLBERMANN:  Nobody has said this...

(CROSSTALK)

OLBERMANN:  Yes, sir?  Go ahead. 

LEVIN:  When you take it all together, look, this is—Bill O‘Reilly is a big guy for Fox.  Fox wants this to go away. 

The more it lingers, the more it really starts to hurt.  And I told you a couple days ago, I really thought it was going to settle today because of this hearing tomorrow, Keith.  Tomorrow, the toothpaste would have never gone back in the tube, because if O‘Reilly forced her to reveal tapes, at that point, the damage would have been done and he would have gone before a jury for possible vindication. 

So I think today was the deadline.  I had a feeling it was going to happen.  These cases usually work that way and it did here. 

OLBERMANN:  I‘ve got time literally for yes or no on this.  Are we assuming the tapes are going to be destroyed or permanently locked away? 

LEVIN:  Yes. 

OLBERMANN:  Are we assuming that O‘Reilly has his money-back guarantee if they turn up somewhere? 

LEVIN:  His money back, plus a lot more in damages.  This woman would have a lot to lose if this ever gets released.  That‘s clearly part of the settlement.

OLBERMANN:  And the last one.  There was a presumption that he was going to be told that he had to pay for this himself, not Fox.  Do we know anything about that? 

LEVIN:  Well, I can just tell you that what I‘m told was that, early on, this was a combo of Fox and O‘Reilly anteing up and it would seem that‘s the case here. 

OLBERMANN:  Harvey Levin, creator, executive producer and host of the syndicated TV series “Celebrity Justice,” as always, Harvey, and even despite the sad news tonight, great thanks for your time, sir.

(LAUGHTER)

LEVIN:  There will be another case, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Not like this. 

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  An easy glide over to a world of mixture of celebrity, of delusions of grandeur, of fame, of infamy, our roundup of the entertainment and gossip news in “Keeping Tabs.”

And add another one to the list.  Sinclair Broadcast Group‘s swipe at the Kerry campaign, Michael Moore‘s “Fahrenheit 9/11” running on the Independent Film Channel on election eve.  Now the Sundance Channel will run the movie “Bush‘s Brain” also on Monday night.  The movie is a profile of President Bush‘s political majordomo, Karl Rove. 

And happy days are here again, the actor Rip Torn acquitted this afternoon of drunk driving charges.  The jury only took two hours to send him home, the acquittal coming despite this post-arrest video from last January.  Police said Elmore Rip Torn of the “Men in Black” movies, “The Larry Sanders Show,” and dozens of other electric performances, had caused an auto accident with a cab, then gotten drunkenly belligerent with officers. 

He said he wasn‘t drunk, just angry.  Jurors agreed, whereupon Torn said, this is one of the great events of my life, to be in the hands of this wonderful jury.  I love New York. Salty dogs for everyone, damn it.  Sorry.  I made up the part after “I love New York.”

A few libations have been downed in the old town these last 24 hours,

Red Sox fans trying to figure out how to celebrate a world championship,

considering their previous one came two months before the end of World War

I.     

One of the great figures in team history, the Spaceman himself, joins us next here on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  It happened last night, which is a good thing, because until it happened last night, the youngest person in the country with a clear memory of it happening last time was about 90 years old. 

Our No. 1 story on the COUNTDOWN, just 31,458 days after Carl Mays finished off the Chicago Cubs to clinch the 1918 World Series for the Boston Red Sox, the old town team has done it again, Derek Lowe, Bronson Arroyo, Alan Embree and Keith Foulke shutting out the hapless Saint Louis Cardinals last night 3-0, the Red Sox sweeping World Series in four games for their first championship since the invention of radio. 

Celebration calm, only 21 arrests.  That of course assumes there will not continue to be celebrations tonight or maybe through New Year‘s Day.  The victory also eliminates the so-called curse of the Bambino, a marketing scheme based loosely on the fact that the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees 84 winters ago. 

And it puts Red Sox nation in charge of the rest of the nation for at least the year ahead, sweet vindication for every Boston fan and every Boston player past or present. 

One of the favorites in the latter category joins me now, Bill Lee, the gifted and unique left-handed pitcher of stockings‘ teams from 1969 through 1978.  He‘s in Mesa, Arizona, tonight. 

Bill, thanks for your time.  Congratulations. 

BILL LEE, FORMER RED SOX PLAYER:  Thank you very much.  We needed it;

86 years is a long time. 

OLBERMANN:  Is it like that?  Is it like you and the Red Sox of your era also won last night along with the current team? 

LEE:  Oh, yes, lift the burden off Buckner‘s shoulders, you know, Bob Stanley was it a wild pitch, was a passed ball, Gedman should have caught it.  I hang the curve ball to Perez.  We don‘t turn the double play.  I get a blister.  They all say it was a curse, but it was just bad luck and bad timing, bad management. 

And it‘s all behind us.  And we can go on and dominate like we did in the early part of the last century, when we won all those World Series, until the Yankees got I think it was every pitcher from the Boston Red Sox.  When they won the world championship, 81 of the victories were ex-Red Sox pitchers that went for New York. 

OLBERMANN:  And, obviously, there‘s a reason people forget this, but the Red Sox won five of the first 15 modern World Series, and then it kind of went downhill from there.

A question about the meaning of this.  Roger Angell once wrote—and he was talking about the Carlton Fisk game in your World Series in 1976 -- that the fate of the Red Sox mattered because it gave people something to really care about.  Do you agree with that?  Is that why this really matters? 

LEE:  Well, every Red Sox fan wants to win, and we care. 

When Fisk had that home run, that should have been the clincher.  We should have won game two.  I had a 2-1 lead going into the 9th inning and we had 90 minutes of rain.  I went back out to start the 9th after a 90-minute delay and gave up a base hit to Bench down in the right field corner.  I should never have faced Bench.  If this home run wins it, those church bells were ringing out in Charlestown at about 1:15 in the morning, and the guy rang them until he was exhausted.  And that was basically the year we should have won it. 

OLBERMANN:  You always have a theory about just about anything, but why cosmically do you suppose this finally happened now, as opposed to for your team or the ‘86 team? 

LEE:  Actually, it‘s because we had live owners.

You know, Tom Yawkey was dead.  The trust fund was running the club.  It was running it into the ground.  We got John Henry.  We got Warner.  We got guys with deep pockets and willing to spend.  And we went out and made a trade.  We got rid of Garciaparra and brought in Cabrera with soft hands, made all our first baseman look good. 

And, all of a sudden, Mientkiewicz at first caught everything in the dirt.  We had Roberts to pitch run.  We had a deep team and it was a great team, and they sucked it up.  And it‘s amazing.  As bad as they played in the first three games against the Yankees, no one really gave up on that ball club. 

OLBERMANN:  Bigger event, winning the World Series or coming back from 3-0, when no team had done that in 120 years of postseason baseball history, against the Yankees? 

LEE:  Oh, the World Series was anticlimactic.  It was amazing. 

I went to Maui.  I watched all three games on Maui.  And there were so many Red Sox fans there.  And we were so excited.  And we were so hammered that the whole island ran out of Patron tequila. 

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  Last question, Bill.

Friend of mine, a great Boston sportscaster named Clark Booth always said that when the Red Sox finally won, there would be great confusion in New England because the question would then be what do we all bitch about now?  What is left for Red Sox fans now? 

LEE:  Well, we have got three months of no hockey and three months of bad ice.  And don‘t worry, we will figure out something to bitch about. 

OLBERMANN:  So it‘s over, and yet there will be still some sort of retention that the Red Sox are still underdogs? 

LEE:  No, no.  We are redeemed.  There‘s going to be a statue out there to Schilling out there.  And he is going to stand up there with his finger pointed up.  He can just retire right now and run for mayor whenever he wants to. 

OLBERMANN:  And when something good happens to the Red Sox, blood will actually seep from the sock on the statue.  That will be the monument to the whole thing.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

LEE:  That‘s exactly right.  It will be beatification comes in three days.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  The Spaceman, Bill Lee, congrats again on the world championship. 

LEE:  Thank you very much.

(CROSSTALK)

OLBERMANN:  The only sad note, I guess, to ring in Boston, as everywhere else, the season is over. 

Happy winter.  Thanks, Bill. 

LEE:  OK.  That‘s what happens when the leaves fall off the tree. 

OLBERMANN:  Indeed. 

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

Congratulations, Red Sox. 

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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