updated 2/9/2005 2:46:20 PM ET 2005-02-09T19:46:20

Guest: Paul Reickhoff, Jack Curry, Bill Bogner, Doug Heugel, Bill Sizemore

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?  Can a handshake stop the violence?  The Israelis and the Palestinians think so after four years, truce.  Full coverage ahead.

The judge says stop on the suit to stop stop loss.  If you‘re in the army, you have to stay in the army basically as long as the army want to you stay.  The long nightmare of the coma.  The theory that sufferers hear and recognize familiar voices gets clinical support encouraging but chilling news.

And no way, Jose.  Those reportedly accused of steroid use or knowledge in ex-slugger Jose Canseco‘s new book.  They deny it or have others deny it for them.  Even a former baseball team owner.  All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN:  Good evening.  The so-called roadmap to peace in the Middle East proved so full of wrong turns that when the head of Israel and the man who would lead a Palestinian state decided to try again, they not only did not go for another map.  They didn‘t even put anything on paper.  Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, an oral agreement to end four years of faction and friction between the two sides, takes place not in routes but in hand shakes and hope.  There is just no document to sign, but both sides promising to try to stop the attacks at least as long as the other side does, too.  And at last, the cease fire could thaw out other peace processes in the Middle East.

But already there‘s skepticism from both sides.  The Israelis not sure that the Palestinians will be able to hold militant groups in check.  The Palestinians skeptical that Israel will follow through on a  freezing settlement growth agreement, if not dismantling the outposts outright.

Nevertheless, there‘s hope in the Middle East.  Something that has not

been apparent there in a long time indeed.  Our correspondent Martin

Fletcher has more on the mood and the meat of the agreement, reporting from

the summit in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt—Martin

MARTIN FLETCHER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Keith, without getting carried away, this is a great breakthrough in this region.  After all, it‘s been four years of brutal fighting between Israel and the Palestinians.  It‘s led to more than 4,000 people dying and thousands more wounded.  Suddenly today they announce a cease fire.  The Palestinians saying, they will stop all attacks against Israelis anywhere.  And the Israelis responding that they in turn will stop all military operations against the Palestinians and then Israel‘s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon continued in an unexpected burst of optimism.

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ARIEL SHARON, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator):  We have an opportunity to break off from the path of blood which has been forced on us over the past four years.  We have an opportunity to start on a new path.  For the first time in a long time, there exists in our renal hope for a better future for our children and grand children.

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FLETCHER:  The good news.  The bad news is the Islamic militant Hamas have not signed on to the cease fire.  The biggest challenge for the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is going to be to persuade Hamas to stop fighting the Israelis.  Now, this evening one Hamas leader did say the truce had been agreed to for a month in which he would give the cease fire a chance.  The challenge then will be to keep the cease fire going.  So it‘s a great potential for peace here today, but also great dangers ahead.  Keith?

OLBERMANN:  Martin Fletcher in Sharm el Sheikh.  Great thanks.

What could be a new beginning in the middle east, coming on the heel of a visit to that region by America‘s new Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.  The secretary pushing Israel and the Palestinians toward an agreement while at the same time, stirring up a new controversy during her travel with a sharp criticism of Iran.  Chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell travelling with Dr. Rice got a chance to speak to her at length on both topics.

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ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Condoleezza Rice today in Europe to make peace with critics of the Iraq War.

On her 10 nation whirlwind tour.  She spent time in the Middle East pushing Israeli and the Palestinians to today‘s declaration of a cease fire after four years of fighting.

(on camera)  After 10 cease fires, why should this ceasefire be any different?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  You have a new Palestinian leadership that is devoted to a peaceful resolution of a conflict that in fact believes that the violent intifada is not the way forward for peace and has been categorical in saying that.  You have the Israeli decision to withdraw from Gaza, which represent an opportunity to seize on Israeli‘s historic decision that they must give up land.

MITCHELL:  A lot of people think that that won‘t happen.  Without the United States putting them get in a room and forcing them to make concessions and to do the give and take.  Why are not you there?

RICE:  The United States is going to be and is very involve.  But I don‘t think it‘s important for us to be at every meeting.

MITCHELL (voice-over):  In Paris today, Rice will try to repair relations with the French.  But now there‘s a new disagreement oh the U.S.‘s sharp criticism of Iran.

RICE:  The behavior of the Iranian regime internally is a concern for those of us in the transatlantic alliance.

MITCHELL (on camera):  You called them loathsome.

RICE:  You cannot summarily, in effect, exec cute young women for certain behaviors and not consider that to be loathsome.

MITCHELL:  Some of our allies, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, do the same thing without that kind of harsh criticism from you or the president.

RICE:  We‘ve been very clear that we expect a lot from our friends.

MITCHELL (voice-over):  This week, an Iranian leader said Rice talks tough but cannot be tough.  That she is emotional.

RICE:  We ought to be emotional about people who live in essentially in bondage.  We ought to be.

The United States believes that our concerns about Iran can be resolve diplomatically.

MITCHELL:  On her first trip as secretary of state, Condi Rice is getting rock star treatment in the European media.  Even described as coquettish with the German chancellor.  How does that make her feel?  Rice says I‘m a package.  I‘m who I am.  But as secretary of state, I have a job to do.  Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Rome.

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OLBERMANN:  And any hope that a period of relative peace in Iraq would continue to outlast the elections there all but shattered tonight in the wake of the deadliest attack in that country since the voting.  A suicide bomber blowing himself up in a crowd of Iraqis outside an army recruitment center, killing at least 21 people, injuring 27 more.  Someone identifying himself as representing al Qaeda in Iraq, posting a statement on an Internet Web site to say that today‘s attack was “the beginning of the escalation we promised.”  No verification of that claim.

The Pentagon scoring a significant victory away from the battlefield today.  A federal judge dismissing a lawsuit that challenged the army‘s try it force soldiers to serve beyond their enlistment contracts.  It is often called the stop loss policy or a back door draft.  Designed to keep soldiers like Specialist David Quals on active duty in times of war or national emergency.  But Specialist Quals decided to fight the Pentagon in court, claiming his enlistment contract was misleading. 

The judge in effect telling Quals and others, read the fine print.  The enlistment contract does indeed notify those who sign pup the government could extend their terms of service.  The judge also saying, that if everyone affected by the stop loss policy were allowed to leave, the disruption to the military would be substantial.  Even if he had won, the decision came too late for Specialist Quals.  Citing his family‘s deep financial difficulties, he reenlisted last week, agreeing to serve six more years and receiving a $15,000 signing bonus in return.

For more on the impact of this decision, we‘re join by an Iraq War veteran, Paul Reickhoff, executive director of Operation Truth, an advocacy group for veterans and troops.  Mr. Reickhoff, good evening.

PAUL REICKHOFF, IRAQ WAR VETERAN:  Good evening, sir.  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Does court ruling today surprise you?

REICKHOFF:  No.  It really doesn‘t surprise me, sir.  But there‘s a bigger problem here.  They can legally do this.  The question is, should they be doing this?  That‘s the bigger question.  The military could also, say, send soldiers to war without the proper equipment and body armor.  But it wouldn‘t be the smart thing to do.  The problem is you‘re misleading soldiers and it‘s affecting thousands of them and it will damage morale over time.  Affect recruiting and affect retention.

OLBERMANN:  To that end, I‘m reminded as I‘ve heard these stories of the Joseph Heller novel “Catch 22,” where the airmen, the U.S. airmen in World War II were given a number of missions they had to fly before they get sent home.  It was 50.  When everybody got to 48 missions, they raised it to 60.  When everybody got to 58 missions, they raised it to 75.  And eventually in the novel, the pilots all go crazy and people start shooting each other.  Is this about more than how long you have to serve?  But also about the uncertainty and the demoralization?

REICKHOFF:  Absolutely.  We keep moving the goal posts back.  Every time the soldiers get closer, the Pentagon keeps moving them back.  What you‘re seeing is, there‘s a story the Pentagon pushes, everything is fine, everything is OK.  Our military is large enough.  And then 55 percent have been sent back for a second time.  The National Guard has now missed their recruiting goal by 30 percent.  The Marine Corps is now having problems recruiting.  You have to ask about who is being honest here?  The soldiers always understand a different reality on the ground from the one you hear out of the Pentagon.

OLBERMANN:  Were you stop lossed?  Was your unit extended?  I know throws the two main reasons people stay longer than they thought they were.

REICKOFF:  A number of soldiers in my platoon were stop lossed.  And we spent about a year there.  We were told it would be six months.  We were told we would be going home around July 4.  July 4 became October became November.  It became January and we finally came home in February.  Can they do that?  Yes.

But I tell you something.  There is hell to pay.  It is really not good for morale over time.  It is really not a good way to treat your forces.  And the military people participating will ask themselves, is the military being honest with me?  It is not a volunteer army when people cannot get out, and that‘s what happening right now with stop loss.

OLBERMANN:  Given that as a problem for the men and for the morale and for the other elements that you have raised, given the problem the military is having filling the personnel quotas in the theatres like Iraq and Afghanistan, is there a solution?  Is there a compromise?

REICKHOFF:  Well, I think there are two ways to solve it.  One would be to compensate these soldiers who are being affected so profoundly.  There are program where we could provide some sort monetary benefit.  Give them a benefit or a bonus for the time they are stop lossed.  Or you can solve the bigger problem which is increase the size of the active duty or find ways to move around people.  But you have to recognize as Senator John McCain said recently, the force is not big enough.  It will affect morale oh time.  That‘s what we‘re seeing.

OLBERMANN:  Iraq War veteran Paul Reickhoff now running the advocacy group Operation Truth.  Great thanks for your time tonight, sir.

REICKHOFF:  Thank you very much, sir.  We appreciate it.

OLBERMANN:  In large part because of the optimism that most Americans have felt recently about Iraq, President Bush enjoying his highest job approval numbers in more than a year.  In a reversal from a month ago, when 52 percent believed sending troops to Iraq was an error, now just 45 percent believe it was a mistake.

The president‘s job approval at 57 percent.  The highest it has been since January of last year.  That was shortly after U.S. troops had captured Saddam Hussein.  But Americans feeling less upbeat on the home front.  Half of those surveyed an even 50 percent skeptical about the presidents plan to overhaul Social Security.  Only 44 percent approving of the Bush approach.  Also, tonight‘s surprising health news.

A new study about coma patients.  That old movie cliche that they might be able to recognize a loved one‘s voice?  It looks like it is true.  And Jose Canseco.  His allegations about steroids are reaching into the White House.  You are not going to believe this.

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OLBERMANN:  Sings of life where doctors had not expected to find any.  Some people in comas could be very much in touch with what‘s going on around them.  Details ahead on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN:  It is perhaps the medical cliche of movies.  From the “Dead Zone” to “While You Were Sleeping” to “Awakenings.”  The coma is the source of endless fascination and endless fear.  Specially idea that the victim may be less unconscious and more incapable.  That he or she might indeed recognize a mother‘s voice or a spouse‘s whisper.  Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, as medical correspondent Robert Bazell reports, a lot of those images look a lot more legit tonight.

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ROBERT BAZELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Carey Wallace (ph) woke up a year and a half ago, 19 years after an auto accident 11 him unable to communicate or move on his own.  His recovery, though limited, is still extraordinary.  A quarter million Americans have severe brain injuries.  And most are not expect to recover.  But what go on in their brains while they are out of touch with the world?  The results from Dr.  Joy Hirsch lab offer some important and fascinating clues.

(on camera) Did it surprise you how much of the brain of these unconscious people is functioning?

DR. JOY HIRSCH, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER:  When I first saw these results, I have to say I was shocked.  We expected that the response functions would be more or less flat.

BAZELL (voice-over):  In fact, brain scans show that in two patients, the area of the brain that control language lit up when they heard recordings made by family members.

HIRSCH:  We were not able to distinguish them from normal patient when we asked them to listen to narratives of their family member speaking to them.

BAZELL:  The scientists have decide that had both Carey Wallace (ph) and the patient in this latest study, while severely injure, were in what is call a minimally conscious state.

DR. NICHOLAS SCHIFF, WELL CORNELL MEDICAL COLLEGE:  Most of these patients can follow commands and move to commands.  Some of them even make attempts to communicate.  Maybe even on a rare occasion, establish communication.

BAZELL:  By contrast, Terri Schiavo, the focus of an intense court battle in Florida, is in what doctors call a persistent vegetative state.  Less responsive with almost no chance of recovery.  Still, the latest results indicate the possibility that many brain injured people have more activity in their minds than anyone previously knew.  NBC News, New York.

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OLBERMANN:  And then there are those people who act as if they are in comas.  Dumb criminals striking again.  Or trying to.  Help me with the ATM, Phil! And the allegations leveled against Bill Cosby have increased both in volume and perhaps in credibility, as well.  Stand by.

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OLBERMANN:  We pause the COUNTDOWN for a segment of stories you will not find on the other newscasts.  Ask yourself, Bill, why are you so afraid to report these facts?

Let‘s play “Oddball.”  And if you thought this guy was the dumbest bank robber of 2005?  Well, you are probably right.  Did he try to break into an ATM machine (sic) with a blow torch.  Only to end up setting the roll of receipt paper therein on fire.  These guys in Laurel, Maryland, at least, they had a plan.  It was a bad plan.  One they obviously stole from the movie barber shop.  But they did get ATM out of the building with the help of a long chain and the help of a stolen dump truck.  But the parking lot at High‘s Dairy Store is as far as they got the machine.  It fell over after smashing through front door.  And the criminal masterminds had not planned for a way to get it up into the truck.  Apparently dragging it back to their hideout was not an option either.  They had to board up the front of High‘s in the meantime.  When High gets back, he is going to be P.O.ed.

To the hospital in Romania where the newborn twin brothers Katalin (ph) Valentin Tescu (ph) who, are both in excellent health.  That is Katalin on the right, he was born yesterday afternoon.  59 days after his brother.  The Romanian doctors say the 37-year-old mother has two uteruses due to a congenital condition.  She got pregnant in both of them from the same egg.  This is a hell of a trick! She should go into the circus!  Valentin was born in December 2004.  Two months premature.  Katalin went to full term and was born by C-section as we said this month.  It was a first in Romania but there have been 11 cases worldwide.  Both brothers happy and healthy.  They have already demanded separate rooms.

To Bangalore, India, where this group of chefs is doing its part to raise money for tsunami relief.  They‘re making a giant pizza for charity.  550 pound of flour, 260 pounds of cheese.  132 pounds of topping, and 31 gallons of ketchup.  Ketchup?  Don‘t whine.  It is for the tsunami.  All the ingredients for a world class 120 foot long pizza pie.  Only two problems remaining.  What do you cook it in?  And how do you then fit it into the deliveryman‘s AMC Pacer.

Steroids and baseball.  Jose Canseco will fill a new book with both.  He used them.  It‘s who he says also used them that is the story.  And last week‘s arrest of the suspect in the jewelry store murders.  You will not believe who police think was driving the getaway car.  Those stories ahead.  Now here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three news maker.  Number three, the investigative team here at COUNTDOWN on your side.  Check your change now.  If you got any Wisconsin commemorative quarters?  Check out the corn stalk on the back.  How many leave on the left side of the stalk?  Just one?  That is quarter up to 25 cent.  But two leaves on the stalk on the left? 

That could be worth $500!

Number two, an unnamed lieutenant in Britain‘s 659th Army Squadron disciplined business his commanders after he used his helicopter to bring a pizza to his girl.  No truth to the rumors he was simply fulfilling Tony Blair‘s 45-minute delivery guarantee.

And number one, Dr. Ronald Herning, head of a study on the deleterious effects of marijuana at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  His studies show it causes memory loss.  Especially among heavy users, which the study describe as those smoking 350 joints a week.  350 joints a week?  That is not memory loss.  That‘s so much smoke in their house that they cannot see anything.  Never mind, remember where it is!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  It may be true or it may be false or it may be a little of both.  This much is for sure.  It is now getting so much attention that Jose Canseco‘s lurid book about baseball and steroids will be released a week earlier than planned.  Our number three story, slugging it out over the ex-slugger‘s claims that he had first hand, indeed, first syringe knowledge that former single season home run record Mark McGwire and others used the illegal growth enhancing - performance-enhancing drugs.

And the book, which all hope is better written than its title, is “Juiced, Wild Times, Rampant Roids, Smash Hits And How Baseball Got Big” was to be released on the 21st.  Now it will come out Monday.  In his book, Canseco, who hit 462 home runs in a star crossed career between 1995 (sic) and 2001 admits to using steroids himself, something he once fervently denied and threatened to sue a reporter over.

But he also claims his former Oakland teammate Mark McGwire used the drugs.  Even that they inject each other.  That according to the “New York Daily News” and according to sources familiar with the manuscript who have confirmed that to COUNTDOWN.  It is still unclear exactly what is in the manuscript and what will not be.  The daily news claims he also claims he saw McGwire inject Jason Giambi with steroids.  Giambi reportedly admitted it before a Bay Area grand jury in December 2003.  The hits just keep on coming.

Canseco will say he taught steroid use to three all star teammates in Texas.  Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzales and Raphael Palmeiro.  The denials have come fast and furious before the book is even published.  From Palmeiro of the Baltimore Orioles, who has 551 career homer, “I categorically deny any assertion made by Jose Canseco that I used steroids.  At no point in my career have I ever used steroids.  I have never had a personal relationship with Canseco.

As to McGwire who in 1998 broke the most homers in a season, he has been quiet.  But McGwire‘s manager in Oakland and later St. Louis, Tony LaRussa, has not.  “All I know is what I see and Mark McGwire got where he was through his workouts and taking all the legal nutrients and other things like that.  As for what Canseco says went on in my clubhouse, I will say that he is full of it for the simple reason that he and McGwire were not close friends.”

The denials on McGwire‘s behalf run into something of a problem, however.  In August of 1998, reporters noticed a container of androstenedione in McGwire‘s locker.  He later confirm using that substance.  Andro is what is called a precursor to steroids.  Illegal, we‘ve a prescription in Canada and most of Europe.  And thus, smoke if not fire.

And Canseco has accused at least one more individual not of steroid use but of guilty knowledge.  The former owner of the Texas team for which he played in 1992 to 1994.  A Mr. George W. Bush.  As the “New York Daily News” paraphrased the Canseco text, he had to be aware that his performers were using the performance enhancing drugs but did nothing about it.  White House press secretary Scott McClellan said he brought it up at that time to the president.  And, quote, “If there was, he was not aware of it at the time.”

That denial might also ring a little tinny.  By 1992, two years before Texas traded for Canseco, “Washington Post” baseball reporter Tom Boswell had written of the so-called Canseco cocktail, the mixture of steroids and other performance enhancing drug.  Canseco threatened to sue Boswell.  Fifteen years later, he hasn‘t.  He‘s joined the writers.  To try to get a handle on the book and its possible ramifications, I‘m joined by the man covering both the “New York Times”, one of the paper‘s very respected baseball writer, Jack Curry.  Thanks for coming in, Jack.

JACK CURRY, “NEW YORK TIMES”:  No problem, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The charge is relative to stories that have been floating around for years.  Is there, if not word by word confirmation of this from your own experience, is there what they call verisimilitude?  Does it sound real?

CURRY:  Well, these rumors have been floating around.  You‘re right, Keith.  And the one thing that the people who are knocking them down are going to say is that Canseco has no credibility.  That‘s where Canseco loses.  Because people will say he‘s trying to sell a book.  He is trying get the most sensationalistic stuff out there.  But some of his stuff has been floating around.  And Canseco was in those clubhouses.  So I don‘t know how much he embellished and I was not in there to watch what he might have been doing.  It think that it‘s a book baseball will have to pay very close attention to.  Because Canseco was there and he is saying that it happened.

OLBERMANN:  The names that have supposedly been put in this book.  Obviously Mark McGwire, Raphael Palmeiro, Rodriguez, Gonzales, Giambi.  The flap has been about Raphael Palmeiro who is this fairly workmanlike, steady guy who has gotten not gotten a lot of publicity even as he‘s hit 550 home runs.  But perhaps almost deafening by the absence is any statement of any kind from Mark McGwire.  McGwire is still at the center piece of all this because he was the one who began the onslaught on the home run records.

CURRY:  I still see McGwire as the big fish in this whole thing, too, Keith, as you said.  Because I think you can walk to a lot of streets in America and mention the name Raphael Palmeiro and despite the Viagra commercials that he‘s done, a lot of people haven‘t heard of him.  Mark McGwire is a guy we know who had the chase with Sosa.  He‘s the guy people recognize as the big burly hitter.  And you‘re right, I think at some point, he needs to come out.  Whether it‘s a press conference or something more than a statement and he will have to respond to this.  Because Canseco is on “60 Minutes” on Sunday.  Then he‘s going to talk to the world on Monday.

OLBERMANN:  And if he had, McGwire, that is, the precursor to steroid use, androstenedione, what did he have it for if not to facilitate steroid use.  That‘s a question that he has never really addressed.  Maybe he‘ll be forced into it now.  Let‘s take it to that other element, guilty knowledge.  George Bush‘s press secretary saying, he wouldn‘t have known anything about this.  And he was the owner of the Texas Rangers through the 1994 season.  Well into the strike when he was elected Governor of Texas.  Certainly, you and I knew all these stories by 1994.  Is it possible that a baseball owner would not have known at least of the allegations that steroids use was widespread in baseball by 1994?

CURRY:  There‘s obviously a separation between front office and the clubhouse.  Even an owner as domineering at George Steinbrenner will not know every detail about what‘s going on with his team.  That being that, I do think that it‘s hard to believe that something would not have filtered to an owner‘s office, to an owner‘s box.  At least in the rumor form.  That someone would say, have you heard this?  This is one thing that‘s floating out there about this guy.  I think at this point, Canseco saw another person he could bring into this to get a lot of news.  That‘s the president of the United States.

OLBERMANN:  Yeah, but as we reflect back on that, that Texas Ranger‘s team made that trade for Jose Canseco in the middle of the 1992 season and there‘s nobody in baseball, i think half the fans must have known what a Canseco cocktail was.  So it seems disingenuous to say we had no idea this was even a possibility.

CURRY:  Right, and I think a lot of people are doing a lot of backtracking and sportswriters included.  A lot of us should probably answer the question, why didn‘t we push harder to write about this?  And trying the get people to say things on the record.  And now as you said earlier, he is doing it for a lot of us but we have to figure out how fast is true and how much of it is false.

OLBERMANN:  Spin it forward for me.  Obviously there have been two essentially steroid stories off season.  And they‘re going to merge at some point, which is the Balco investigation, Jason Giambi and Bonds and Sheffield and the stories of Victor Conte on the West Coast.  And now the Canseco allegations which have been percolating.  Is there a merger point between these two things?  Because Bonds and the pursuit of the all time homerun record is baseball‘s big story this year.  It seem as if the longer steroids are in news, the more people are going to look at the home run record chase and go, I don‘t believe any of this.

CURRY:  I agree with you.  I think the Balco story is obviously still in the story.  That‘s the more powerful one.  That‘s the more serious one.  It is not Jose Canseco possibly just saying things.  And you‘re right.  I last year when Barry Bonds hit 700, I don‘t think it got the attention it might have gotten if there had not been some suspicion out there about him.  And I‘m hoping to be in the ballpark when he does eventually pass Babe Ruth.  I wonder if it on the road what the reaction will be.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s if he ever comes back for that operation that he just had.  What happens if that‘s a career ending surgery and they butcher something?  That would be quite a story, too.  Jack Curry of the “New York Times” having the presence of mind to not say anything when I made that suggestion.  Great thanks for being here.  See you in the press box for Yankee Stadium.  And we can watch this year‘s America League home run champion Aubrey Huff of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays hit 29 of them.

CURRY:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Take care, Jack.

One programming note, Jose Canseco author of “Juiced, etc.,” will join us on COUNTDOWN next Wednesday.  A week from next Wednesday.  We do not expect to you write this down.  We just thought we would get started on the promotion and the hype.  Canseco also reportedly also casts positive used for steroids.  In sport and outside of them in the future.  Even though all clinical tests suggest they gradually destroy the body.  There is no such ambiguity about a drug-like heroin.  It has just entered the already nightmarish story of jewelry store murder.  As our correspondent Carl Quintanilla reports, police see the spree as a mother and son operation to pay for mom‘s addiction.

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CARL QUINTANILLA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  When Christopher Demayo allegedly robbed this jewelry store last December, there was someone driving the getaway car.  Police say his mother.  40-year-old Maryanne Taylor, arrested and charmed with robbery and murder, along with her son and his girlfriend.  Taylor is said to have helped stake out the robberies to support her long time heroin addiction.

LT. DENNIS FARRELL, NASSAU COUNTY DETECTIVE:  She was in the car when they were scouting potential sites.  There‘s no question that she knew what was going on.

QUINTANILLA:  It‘s a shocking twist to a case that‘s terrorized small jewelry stores in the southeast.  Demayo, 23 years old, is expected to robbing four mom and pop jewelers, stealing over a quarter of a million dollars in gems and killing three employees.  Including store owners Timothy Donnelly and his wife.  At a funeral for the Donnelly‘s, friends, even former customers, remembered them and the love they had for their business.

ELLEN TEREBESI, DONNELLY‘S CUSTOMER:  You would never go in and come right out.  You would be in there for a good hour just talking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What is the charge that‘s being brought against me?

QUINTANILLA:  Now in custody, he is stone-faced in front of a judge on Monday.  But his girlfriend, Nicole Pierce, fought back tears at the sight of TV cameras.  Her arms trembling in their handcuffs.

SGT HERB DOBBS, NASSAU COUNTY DETECTIV:  Obviously the girl is very distraught.  He seemed to be pretty cool about the whole thing.

QUINTANILLA:  Authorities say they recovered the stolen handgun and say it matches the bullet casings from the two murder casings.  Evidence in a crime police say was a family affair.  Carl Quintanilla, NBC News, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  A video game puts a 4-year-old life in danger.  But what it taught him may have saved him once he got into that trouble.  Little Adrian drives to the store.  And the legal troubles facing Bill Cosby get much more credible.  A second woman has come forward to accuse entertainer, only her story has quite a twist.  Those stories ahead.  But now here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of this day.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The fastest person in the world, Ellen MacArthur. 

Fastest solo lap around.

ELLEN MACARTHUR, YACHSTWOMAN:  Time to get the boat home.

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT:  I appreciate the mayor being here.  Mr. Mayor, good to see you.  I may see your mother this afternoon and I‘ll tell her you‘re looking just fine.

And finally, Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick, I‘ve got a report for you.  Today I was with her son.  The mayor of Detroit.  Who looked mighty special.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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OLBERMANN:  What some kids won‘t do to get a video game, like drive to the store even though they can‘t see toe steering wheel.  And state legislature voting on whether or not to make it illegal to show off your underpants in public.  Not kidding.  Stand by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The video game fan was being punished by his mother.  He‘d done wrong, and so the game, one of those driving contests went back to the video store.  But the gamer‘s compulsion could not be resisted.  He got up in the middle of the night and got in the car and drove to the store to get it back.  The hook to our number two story on the COUNTDOWN?  The video game fan in question is 4 years old.  And police pulled him over because he was driving 7 miles an hour.  And that was largely because he had to keep letting go of the steering wheel to jump down to the floor so he could step on the gas.

BILL BOGNER, SAND LAKE P.D.:  He thought it seemed pretty easy.  He told me he got his boot and coat on and he got keys and went downstairs and started the car and went to the video store.

OLBERMANN:  Office Bogner and his partner, Officer Jay Osga (ph) of the Sand Lake, Michigan Police Department ran the pursuit, which would probably be described as a slow speed chase, by then the boy was driving home.  He collided with a parked car, possibly one in each direction.  Then managed to back up and hit their squad car.  For tinately, all of this at seven miles per hour or less with no other vehicles in sight.  The boy‘s mother, Martina Cole, was asleep through it all.  She was not charged.  Neither, of course, was the 4-year-old, Adrian Cole.  Joining me, today is Doug Heugel, the chief of the Sand Lake Police Department.  Chief, thanks for your time tonight.

DOUG HEUGEL, SAND LAKE POLICE CHIEF:  You bet.

OLBERMANN:  Compared to all the other drivers out there, Adrian wasn‘t that good at it.  But for you a 4-year-old, it seemed like he was pretty skilled.  Any idea how he learned to drive even that well?

HEUGEL:  There‘s a lot of speculation.  And early on, the mother had stated that he had ridden on her lap when she had driven.  And based on the trip this kid took, he‘s driven a car a few times.

OLBERMANN:  Is there a lesson in there for apparent, don‘t sit your kids on your laps and let them pretend drive?  Don‘t let them play driving video games when they‘re four years old?

HEUGEL:  I think the big lesson is Michigan has a mandatory seatbelt law.  If you always make sure ebb in your car is buckled up before you even put your key in the ignition, nobody will drive off like this.  If he was buckled up, he wouldn‘t be able to reach the key.

OLBERMANN:  And back to Adrian and the drive, it‘s one thing that he got dress asked put on his coat and boots and picked his mother‘s keys off the hook on the wall.  And drove three blocks to the video store.  But then to me, the most remarkable part, he realized the store was close and he drove home.  Did he turn the car around?

HEUGEL:  Well, originally, he backed out of the parking place.  Then he put in it drive and made two right-hand turns and drove down to the video store.  And he told the officers when he got there, the store was dark and the door was locked.  So he got back in the car.  That‘s when he drove home.

OLBERMANN:  But did he—he backed it out?  Did he have to make turns?  Did he have to make—how is this possible?

HEUGEL:  Well, he‘s going down what we call North End Drive, which is a two-way highway.  And when the officers saw a car go by which appeared to have nobody in it.  They started following, not knowing if they had a run-away car or somebody had a medical or they passed out or something.  And as they followed the car with lights on, all of a sudden the car made a left turn into the apartment complex.  Made a second left turn and hit a car.  Then made a right turn into the same parking place he had backed out of.  Unable to stop the car, though, he jumped the curb up on the lawn and the police car pull behind.  All of a sudden, he put in it reverse and hit the gas and backed into the patrol car.  He made quite a few driving decisions when he made his trip.

OLBERMANN:  At least two lefts in the process.  But your officers didn‘t know who they were dealing with, obviously.  What did—did he say anything when they found him?  When they finally stopped him?

HEUGEL:  Well, after he crashed in the patrol car and they went to the car, the first thing, he said I want to go home.  I want to go to bed.  He was tired.

OLBERMANN:  Apparently he thought he need help for that but co-drive to and from the video store in the middle of the night at the age of four.  It must be an extraordinary time for you.  You‘re chief of the police department of Sand Lake, Michigan.  I know that you‘ve been inundated with the media.  So we appreciate your indulging us tonight, sir.  Thanks for your time.

HEUGEL:  You bet.  Thank you, sir.

OLBERMANN:  The kid is four!  Meantime, to our round-up of celebrity news, and once again, it does not start happily.  Additional accusations against Bill Cosby.  A week before area prosecutors decide whether or not to file charges against him over allegations he drug and fondled a woman in his home.  Another woman has accused him on the record of the same thing.  Only she says it happened 30 years ago.  Tamara Green, now an attorney, formerly a fashion model, said when Cosby‘s lawyer called the current claim bizarre and preposterous, she felt she had a duty to report that it happened to her.

The paper says two friends and her estranged second husband confirmed that she had told their story to him long before the current case arose.  Cosby‘s lawyer said his client has not done this to anybody, now or 30 years ago.

Then there‘s old joke, does your face hurt you?  No?  Well, it hurts me.  That‘s the one flying around about Burt Reynolds after his appearance at a Super Bowl gala and in a commercial in Jacksonville over the weekend.  What one party goer told a London tabloid.  “Burt‘s face has been pulled and stretched so much, it actually looks painful.”  The suggestion here is what?  That he‘s had more plastic surgery.  Next, you‘ll be telling me that isn‘t his own hair?

Lastly on “Tabs” another one of the giant of television news has left us.  George Herman, the stately correspondent for CBS news in the middle of the Second World War to the middle of the 1990s.  He died today of heart failure after a long illness.  He began as a radio news writer in 1944.  But within five years, was reporting for CBS television from the Far East and the Korean War.  Later, White House correspondent and the first reporter to broadcast a TV story about an obscure burglary at the Watergate complex.  He hosted the Sunday interview program face the nation for a record 15 years beginning in 1969.  Mr. Herman is shown on the left.  George Herman was 85 years old.

This, this is how they meant to look in public.  A Southern lawmaker not only doesn‘t like it, but he wants to pass legislation against it.  The fashion police, literally.  Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  By the way, if you were wondering, as I am, who that was in the videotape of the late CBS correspondent George Herman before the break, we think the reporter, the co-anchor on the right was Nelson Benton, the late Nelson Benton.  We‘re not sure.  I‘m going to check.

Meanwhile, we‘ve now reached the proverbial tipping point.  Everyone is being persecuted.  Conservatives are being persecuted by the liberal media.  Liberals are being persecuted by the conservative media.  The media are being persecuted by the government.  The faithful are being persecuted by the secular, the secular being persecuted by the faithful.  Women been men, men by feminists, left by right, right by left, smokers by non-smokers, non-smokers by smokers.  Cell phone users by non users and non-cell phone users by users.

But in our number one story tonight, there‘s one thing all of us in the United States of the Persecuted could agree upon.  We‘re all persecuted by those walking around wearing low-rider pants by those underwear hanging out if i really wanted to see your back side, I‘d buy you dinner.

Now, the Virginia state House of Delegates passed by a vote of 60-43 a bill, that if it becomes law, would fine people who publicly, quote, “exposes their below waist garments in a” quote “lewd and indecent manner.”  Talk about the fashion police.  Critics say it‘s a racist measure and might be unconstitutional as well.  And folks from the tourism campaign “Virginia is for Lovers” would probably like to remind you that the law you would pertain only to below waist undergarments.  So remember, ladies, exposing your above waist undergarments in a lewd and indecent manner would remain your right as a citizen of the great state of Virginia.  Joining me now is Bill Sizemore of the southern Virginian newspaper “The Virginian-:Pilot.”  Mr. Sizemore.  Good evening.

BILL SIZEMORE, “VIRGINIA PILOT”:  Hi, thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN:  I can understand the impetus here as I think I‘ve suggested, but does anyone think this is a good precedent?  Could not the next law you in Virginia prohibit the wearing of hats or require people to wear hats?

SIZEMORE:  Well, maybe that‘s next.  I don‘t know.  But certainly, if you look at that vote this legislator got for his bill, there‘s 60 people in the House of Delegates who seem to think it‘s a good idea.

OLBWEMANNN:  Let‘s speak about him, about the legislature behind this, when it was proposed by this democrat from Norfolk named Algee Howell.  It got a lot of laughs.  We did the story here, it got a lot of laughs.  And today it got a lot of votes.  Let me play you one of Mr. Howell‘s comments and get your reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALGEE HOWELL, DOWNSTATE VIRGINIAN DELEGATE:  Ladies and gentlemen, the vote for this bill would be a vote for character to uplift your community and do something good, not only for the state of Virginia but for this entire country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Well, we know at least it would uplift pants.  We don‘t know if it‘ll uplift the community.  But who is this guy he takes this idea, this crazy idea and turns it into a bill and it gets passed 60-34?

SIZEMORE:  This is an older gentleman who is serving his first term in the legislature.  He‘s a barber in Norfolk.  He kept hearing from customers who came into barber shop about the kids out there wearing their pants down around their knees and what a shame that is and by gosh there ought to be a law.  And so he took that to heart and put this bill in.  He seems to have struck accord.  He tells me that since the story was first reported, he‘s had an outpouring of support not only from his own district but from all over Virginia and beyond.  People are saying, “Right on! We‘re behind you all the way.”

OLBERMANN:  He didn‘t run on this as a campaign platform did he?

SIZEMORE:  No.  No.

OLBERMANN:  OK.  All right.  But where does it go from here legally?  Is it the state senate now?  And, anyone taking it seriously there?  What‘s the timeframe?

SIZEMORE:  That remains to be seen.  We operate—the legislate in Virginia operates on a very short clock.  It‘ll all be over very soon.  It goes to the Senate.  Within the next couple of weeks, it‘ll be dealt with over there.  The pattern is in the Virginia legislatures, like a lot of other legislatures, a lot of stuff gets passed in the House that never makes it through the Senate.  We‘ll see what happens.  It‘s half way there.

OLBERMANN:  Do you have any reed how it stands in the Senate?  Is it possible?

SIZEMORE:  Oh, I think anything is possible.

OLBERMANN:  Evidently, that‘s true you.

SIZEMORE:  But I think, you know, I think there are certainly some constitutional questions.  The ACLU seems to think there are.  On the other hand, you look at the 60 people who supported it in the House and you see an awful lot of lawyers‘ names on that list.

OLBERMANN:  Wow!  Well, and who knows where it is after that could be maybe we have a constitutional amendment nationwide.  Who knows?  Bill Sizemore covering the lowdown on the lowriders from the “Virginian-Pilot.  Great thanks for joining us here tonight.

SIZEMORE:  Sure, thanks.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN.  Thank you for being part of it.  I‘m Keith Olbermann.  I‘m going to hitch up my pants and get out of here now.

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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