updated 2/23/2005 10:34:08 AM ET 2005-02-23T15:34:08

Guest: Ashraf Nubani, Larry Sabato, Michael Musto

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

From detention in Saudi Arabia as a terror suspect to indictment in Alexandria, Virginia, as a would be assassin of President Bush.  The story of Ahmed Omar Abu Ali.  His attorney will join us. 

It never rains in California, except this week.  Another death.  And a funnel cloud spotted over the ocean off Santa Monica. 

Baseball‘s usual suspects.  Some arrive in spring training.  Another may soon be becoming to a movie and a pay-per-view special near you.  What kind of pay-per-view special?  You will never believe it. 

No.  Paris Hilton is not in it.  But all of the numbers in her cell phone are out and reportedly, the FBI is now investigating.  Yes.  That FBI.

All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Good evening.

It has become known as the charm offensive, the president‘s first tour of Europe in his second administration.  Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, the charm played out today against all kinds of bizarre backgrounds, from the premature conclusion of a news conference to an indictment in Virginia of a man charged with conspiring to kill Mr. Bush, from a tart dismissal by the president of rumors of a U.S. plan to strike Iran, to his equally tart insistence that all option are on the table.

Day three in Brussels.  Maybe their package tour, complete with the group photo.  The president praising his fellow NATO members, who are offering to help train security forces in Iraq.  All 26 countries in the alliance pledged money, equipment, and/or personnel to the effort, even if many of those pledges were very small indeed.  Mr. Bush saying that, quote, every contribution helps. 

As for Iraq‘s eastern neighbor, Iran, Mr. Bush adding it would be absurd to assume the U.S. has plans to attack that nation over its purported nuclear weapons program.  The president stopping short of the old adage, don‘t assume it makes a blank out of you and me.  But he did confuse many who heard him.  He seemed to make a sudden left immediately after the dismissal. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It is in our interests for them not to have any weapons.  It‘s also in our interests for them not to continue funning terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. 

And finally, this notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous.  Having said that, all options are on the table. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Whatever the president‘s intention there, there was some laughter in the room after that coda. 

And an earlier news conference had come to an odd and premature end.  The president and the NATO secretary general, Jaap De Hoop Scheffer, were asked what they would each do to improve the transatlantic relationships during Mr. Bush‘s second term.  Except the president evidently did not hear that the question also been asked of the secretary general. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  I look forward to continue to articulate how we can work together to keep freedom on the march.  Thank you all very much.  Appreciate it.  Thank you.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL:  Let me...

BUSH:  I‘m sorry. 

SCHEFFER:  No, no, no.

BUSH:  He gave me a hand signal that said he didn‘t want to answer.  I don‘t know what this means.  That means end the press conference. 

SCHEFFER:  I was saying to the president, this was too difficult a question.  And nevertheless—nevertheless, I‘ll answer it very quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Would that the president‘s quick on his feet diplomacy with the secretary-general could extend the U.S. diplomatic relations with Afghanistan.  They may have to include a permanent U.S. military presence in that country. 

Senator John McCain going on record today, saying he thinks it should happen.  McCain leading a Senate delegation to Afghanistan, holding talks there with President Hamid Karzai. 

Officials from the Afghan government and in the U.S. military coalition in Afghanistan telling the Associated Press they are examining a military partnership that could include permanent bases.  Some 17,000 American troops are in Afghanistan, hunting down suspected al Qaeda militants and holdouts from the former regime of the Taliban. 

Back here what was either the painstaking interruption of a plot to kill the president or the persecution of a former Virginia high school valedictorian. 

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali indicted today in federal court on charges of volunteering to shoot the president or blow him up on a mission on behalf of al Qaeda. 

There are no charge that the alleged plot ever made it past the talking stage, but Abu Ali, a 23-year-old Saudi-American who grew up in suburban Washington just a few miles from the White House, was arrested in 2003 while studying at a Saudi Arabian university.  Today‘s indictment, the latest twist in an already strange case. 

Abu Ali held as a terror suspect in a Saudi Arabian prison for two years on the basis of secret evidence without having been indicted until now. 

His parents challenging his detention in federal court, suing, claiming the Saudis were only holding him at the behest of the U.S.  government, which was looking to torture him for information. 

It is a labyrinthine case, to say the least.  Not long ago, I spoke with Mr. Abu Ali‘s attorney, Ashraf Nubani. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Nubani, thank you for joining us tonight.  This is an extraordinary charge against your client, plotting to kill the president of the United States.  What is your response to the indictment today?

ASHRAF NUBANI, AHMED ABU ALI‘S ATTORNEY:  Well, I‘m surprised that the

·         the U.S. government and the U.S. attorney‘s office bring forth these charge with a serious face.  After 20 months of incarceration, they know very well the case of Ahmed Abu Ali.  So I‘m unfazed by the charges.  And I‘m surprised that they bring these charges with a serious face. 

OLBERMANN:  Earlier in the day, you had said your client was tortured. 

Is there evidence of that?

NUBANI:  Yes, there was evidence of that.  I saw—I saw the markings on his back myself.  We offered to show those markings to the judge.  The judge assured us that—that there would be ample opportunity to bring up those issues in Ahmed Abu Ali‘s case. 

OLBERMANN:  In this process, how did he wind up, first of all, in a Saudi facility and then how did he get back to the U.S.?

NUBANI:  Ahmed Abu Ali is a U.S. citizen, born in Houston, Texas, valedictorian of his high school class.  He went—he went overseas to study at the Islamic University of Medina now over three years ago and was taken out of his mid-term exams in June of 2003 and arrested by the Saudis at the behest of the United States. 

OLBERMANN:  And from your point of view, this was groundless?  There was no reason for them to have arrested him on behalf of the U.S. or on behalf of anybody else?

NUBANI:  They did nothing for 20 months.  The government brought these charges at this time because they were cornered, because the Saudis would not charge him as they had hoped. 

And the judge and the District of Columbia and the district court was ordering discovery, causing the government to cough up, basically, all that it had in terms of the relationship with Ahmed Abu Ali and this incarceration and custody that was undertaken on the behest of the United States.

OLBERMANN:  Does that tie into and can you explain the suit that has been made on behalf of his family, trying to force the U.S. government to explain its conduct in the detention of your client, originally, in Saudi Arabia and his treatment since?

NUBANI:  It was that lawsuit that brought Ahmed Abu Ali here, because the government was forced to either, you know—to either cough up in terms of the information that they had, and it would come out that they had custody over Ahmed Abu Ali, in fact, and that this was done on the behest of the Saudis. 

But they chose, in fact, to you know, pursue this indictment, which is

·         which is ludicrous, but at least now he‘s here.  He can defend himself, you know, where we don‘t necessarily believe in the U.S. government, when it comes to these cases. 

But certainly, you know, everyone is willing to believe in the justice system.  And hopefully here, the constitutional safeguards that are afforded, any criminal defendant—defendant would be afforded to Mr.  Ahmed Abu Ali. 

OLBERMANN:  Ashraf Nubani, the attorney for the U.S. citizen, Ahmed Abu Ali, who prosecutors are accusing of conspiring to assassinate President Bush.  Thanks for your time this evening, sir. 

NUBANI:  Thank you very much. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  In Iraq, meanwhile, the man who was once the leading candidate to become the new prime minister there and who remained an unlikely dark horse for the job suddenly pulled out of contention today. 

Ahmed Chalabi, the former exile who heavily promoted the idea that Saddam Hussein still had weapons of mass destruction right before the war, dropping out, he says, for the unity of the alliance, his Shiite coalition, uniting instead behind Ibrahim al-Jaafari as its choice for the prime minister‘s position. 

Al-Jaafari also a former exile, a doctor.  He used to practice at a hospital in London.  The health and safety of his fellow citizens would be his top priority as prime minister, too.  Dr. Al-Jaafari saying that poor security is the first matter he would address were he to take office. 

It is not one of the primary goals of Iraqi democracy, but if it takes real root there someday, that nation‘s citizens may develop their own ceaseless fascination with the slightest new whispers of the memory of a charismatic and departed leader. 

The John F. Kennedy Library has released new home movies—they weren‘t home video then—of the 35th president.  Not so much new images as new longer versions. 

The movies of the family on the water while Jackie Kennedy was pregnant with the child she lost.  They are familiar, but the length of the sequence may not be.  Same for the images of Caroline with her pony, named, of course, Macaroni. 

The film is not exclusively dated to President Kennedy‘s White House years.  There‘s also material dating back to the 1940‘s and maybe one or two that are utterly new sequences. 

Ever seen Kennedy before as president playing golf?  Librarians at the JFK facility say this was filmed so that it could be sent to golf legend Arnold Palmer so that Palmer could critique Kennedy‘s swing. 

More than 41 years after his death, we are still critiquing Kennedy‘s presidency, and the interest in the newly released film simply underscores that. 

I‘m joined now by presidential historian Larry Sabato, the director for the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.  Larry, good evening. 

LARRY SABATO, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Hi. 

First off, golf tips notwithstanding, is there any news in any of this footage that‘s been released or is it simply the kind of evocative stuff released about JFK through most of the years since his death?

SABATO:  Keith, there‘s very little news here.  In fact, I would say none.  It‘s human interest.  But as you noted, we‘re still obsessed with John F. Kennedy.  That 2 ½ year presidency still mesmerizes Americans, in part, because his tragic assassination at the age of 46 was easily the equivalent for that generation of 9/11 for this one or Pearl Harbor for our fathers or grandfathers.  So it‘s a—it‘s a critical moment in time, and people love it. 

To add one little thing to the golf note, remember, JFK‘s predecessor, Eisenhower, was criticized for golfing a great deal by Kennedy and the Democrats.  Kennedy was very hesitant to be photographed golfing.  So I suppose there‘s a little bit of historic interest in that. 

OLBERMANN:  You‘re right.  I had forgotten about that until you just mentioned it.  He was reluctant to get filmed playing golf for that exact reason. 

But now you mentioned, obviously, the fascination with JFK remains connected with the assassination.  But the overall fascination with him, films like this, audio recordings, all the other materials that have bubbled to the surface over the last few years. 

Would it have been the same if there had been somebody else in office rather than John F. Kennedy at that time with that outcome?  Is he still not personally the hook in all this?

SABATO:  Absolutely.  He‘s the hook.  He‘s so photogenic.  He‘s so media-genic.  Even today, and we have to remember, we didn‘t have that much videotape or film of John F. Kennedy compared to our modern presidents.  They‘re filmed all the time everywhere. 

So these are rare special moments.  And most Americans who lived through that time will be absolutely fascinated by every microsecond of this video. 

OLBERMANN:  It‘s an important point.  It would be impossible to explain to anybody, maybe under 35.  Maybe that‘s a little high.  Maybe it‘s a little low.  But they would find it hard to believe that every moment of a popular president‘s life was not recorded.  We have basically the entirety of the Reagan, Clinton and Bush administrations on tape. 

And now that brings up another point.  The library says there‘s two to three hours more of JFK film that has not been released to the public.  Is it important for historians to get a look at that stuff?  And if so, why?  Is there context yet to be provided by material like this?

SABATO:  It‘s important to see it, because you don‘t know what‘s there until you see it.  My guess is it‘s more of the human interest side.  I doubt we‘ll really learn anything that we don‘t already know about John F.  Kennedy.

But again, the public will enjoy every minute of it. 

OLBERMANN:  At least we got the golf—we established the beachhead on the history of JFK and golf.  So we did learn a little something from this.

SABATO:  At the least. 

OLBERMANN:  At the least.  Presidential historian Larry Sabato.  As always, sir, a pleasure.  Thanks for your time tonight. 

SABATO:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Also this evening, extreme weather continuing to pound Southern California.  Water spouts, avalanches, floods, and more death. 

And the search for a missing pregnant woman in Texas ends.  The suspect is a mystery himself.  Police say he is the baby‘s father and somebody else‘s husband.  They think he killed to keep all this from his wife. 

This is COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  For decades, the benchmark in popular culture for wettest climate in the United States has been Seattle, Washington.  It isn‘t necessarily statistically true, but it is in the collective mind. 

Plus our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN is best prefaced by this starting fact.  This winter metropolitan Seattle has had about 10 inches less of rain than has Southern California. 

To those of us who are not there, it is an amazing statistic.  To those of us who are there, like our correspondent George Lewis, it is simply hell. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE LEWIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Wave after wave of rain and destruction hitting Southern California.  This afternoon, a raging river was eating up the runway at the small Santa Paul Airport. 

This scene was repeated over and over as hillside homes fell from their perches. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We lost the back of our house.  And it looks like we‘re going to lose the house.

LEWIS:  This morning, Patricia and Robert Crow (ph) rescued a few belongings from their condemned house at the top of a canyon east of downtown Los Angeles.  Shaken but thankful no one got hurt. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The worst is, you know, the fear of losing—just losing our kids. 

LEWIS (on camera):  Until now, this area behind me has been considered prime property with a great view of the canyon.  But now Southern Californians are discovering they sometimes pay a high price for those views. 

(voice-over) Last night, heavy thundershowers flooded the Hollywood freeway, stranding thousands of motorists.  The 33 inches of ran so far this season in Los Angeles is record breaking. 

BILL PATZERT, PH.D., NASA CLIMATOLOGIST:  This morning, we‘re at the fourth wettest.  And by the time we reach April, this could be the wettest in the historical record. 

LEWIS:  Patzert says while other scientists are calling this an El Nino condition, he believes it‘s something else. 

PATZERT:  Our weather is really being dominate by a wild and woolly polar jet stream.  What I call the polar express. 

LEWIS:  And while some local reservoirs are now overflowing, experts say it will take a long time for the west to recover from five years of drought.  Even as forecasters say the wet weather pattern in southern California could continue well into march. 

George Lewis, NBC News, Los Angeles. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  From wild weather out west to the real wild west.  They had helicopters to chase herds and stuff in the west?  In the Wild West?  An early sign of the approach of “Oddball.”

And all right, no pun about “Oddball.”  The marriage of Prince Charles.  No castle, no best man, no queen, no problem?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  We‘re back, and we pause the COUNTDOWN now for the art and culture portion of the show.  And of course, when I say art and culture, I mean stupid stories and way cool video.  Let‘s play “Oddball.”

We begin in Merced County, California, for a good old-fashioned elk drive.  Just as when the first settlers flew helicopters over the great buffalo herds of the plains. 

Wildlife officials at San Luis National Refuge are thinning the elk.  Apparently, there‘s just too many of them at the 800-acre preserve, so officials are thinning the old humane way.  One at a time the animals are scooped up, checked for disease and then traded to another herd at the discretion of the Fish and Game Commission. 

This is exactly how Major League Baseball used to do it before free agency. 

To Knoxville, Tennessee, where no one was injured alongside this road but we all learned a valuable lesson about driving while stoned.  I think we hit something, man!

The police officers and others responding to an earlier accident were able to safely get out of the way in time, but the cruiser was slightly damaged.  Police saying the driver of the SUV was also fine.  He may have lost control of the vehicle, may—they‘re not sure—may because he was rolling a joint while driving. 

Maybe while in the big house, that driver can practice the Rubik‘s Cube.  It is the 25th anniversary of the addictive little puzzle cube, spawned long ago by Satan himself. 

Celebrating the silver anniversary, the folks from Milton Bradley are

re-releasing it this week at the New York toy fair.  On hand for the big

event, the Speed Cubers, some young New Yorkers who can all solve the cube in 30 seconds or less. 

And by the way, guys, that‘s also the average time it takes for a girl to reject them for a date.  Sorry. 

Now steroids.  That will get you in good with the ladies.  Jose Canseco, the movie?  Starring Butch Patrick?  Jose Canseco the pay for view special?

And no amount of money will repair Paris Hilton‘s relationship with her friends.  The FBI reportedly looking into who hacked her cell phone.  The FBI.

Those stories ahead.  Now here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.

No. 3, Harold Nicolaysen of Oslo, Norway.  He and his family visited their mountain cabin last weekend, first time since November.  They noticed something was missing: their swimming pool.  It was in ground, 16 feet in diameter, had a full filtration system, and had been bolted in place.  And someone stole it. 

No. 2, unnamed defendant in Bad Axe, Michigan.  The Subway sandwich shops have a deal where you get a stamp with each purchase.  Fill up your Sub Club card with eight stamps and you get a free sandwich. 

Police in Bad Axe have arrested a woman and charged her with making counterfeit Sub Club stamps with computer and crayons.  Seriously. 

No truth to rumors she‘s also been stalking Jared. 

And No. 1, Robin Buckley, consultant for Alley Cat Allies of Washington, D.C.  In retrospect, they probably did pick the wrong location for this past weekend‘s clinic, at which five hundred cats were neutered, spayed or vaccinated: the cafeteria at Eaton Elementary School in Cleveland Park. 

Mommy, why are there lumps in my mashed potatoes?

(MUSIC: “WHAT‘S NEW PUSSYCAT?”)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  It is a rite of spring, baseball players report to training camp.  That‘s the term, report.  Last week pitchers and catchers reported.  This week the steroids suspects reported. 

Our third story, Barry Bonds arrives.  Jason Giambi had already arrived.  And Jose Canseco will not go away.  Next step, a possible pay-per-view telecast of a lie detector test. 

Bonds first—Barry Bonds.  Arriving at the San Francisco Giant spring training camp in Scottsdale, Arizona.  His first public comment since the leaking of his testimony in December.  The testimony in which he purportedly said he took stuff supplied by steroid manufacturer, but had no idea it was steroids.  Bonds would not answer the question, have you ever used steroids or any variant thereof.  He was less circumstance—circumspect (ph) though about Canseco‘s claim that Bonds did use them. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARRY BONDS, MLB PLAYER:  I‘m disappointed, a lot of the athletes just due to the fact that—there‘s a code in baseball, you know, respect your peers regardless of whatever.  This whole thing in sports now has turned into a big circus.  I don‘t know Canseco.  I mean, besides hello and goodbye.  Fiction is fiction, man.  I mean, there‘s a whole bunch of those books and stories out there.  Basically, you know, it‘s just to make a buck.  You guys are rerun stories.  This is just—I mean, this is old stuff.  I mean, it is like watching “Sanford and Son.” 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Yesterday, another grand jury witness returned to his other line of work, first baseman Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees showing up to spring training in Tampa.  In exchange for immunity, Giambi had reportedly admitted to the grand jury that he had used steroids but first, at a news conference in New York, and then as he took the field, he would not use the word.  He probably can‘t.  A public admission of steroid use now and the Yankees might still be able to get out of the rest of the $82 million the contractually owe him. 

Giambi did spend more than an half an hour signing autographs and accepting cheers and well wisher from the fans.  Now, who will play him in steroids, the movie?  Or if that‘s not the title of the film, would you prefer, I still know what drugs you did last summer?  Actually, it‘s likelier to be called the Jose Canseco story.  Canseco told the network ESPN 2 that he is in discussions to turn his book “Juiced” into a film.  That one of the hold-ups is who would play him at the various stages of his life? 

We have to come up with an individual who is 6‘4”, 260 pounds, kind of looks the way I do and portrays that kind of image, he said.  Well, there aren‘t that many large actors who can portray that kind of image physically, who can act.  Asked if he‘d play it himself, Canseco said, if producers could not find a suitable actor, “I may actually do it, yes.” 

For the first time, one of the 14 players Canseco either identified in his book as steroid users or as suspects in his mind, has addressed the question of legal action against the slugger.  Wilson Alvarez, a pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers was Canseco‘s teammate in Tampa Bay in 1999 and 2000.  Canseco says he personally inject Alvarez with steroids.  Alvarez denies it. 

Quoting him, “I thought about suing, but nah, why waste time with that stuff.  Just look at me.  Does it look like I took steroids?”

Canseco says appearances can be deceiving, writing that he put Alvarez on a lean cycle of steroids and growth hormone to help him lose weight.  That did not come up when Canseco made his much delayed appearance on the “Today” show this morning, but a lot else did.  And Matt Lauer was not exactly pushing batting practice with his questions. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, “TODAY SHOW”:  They say either Jose Canseco is purely out for money.  That he‘s a guy who needs money, has shown in the past, he‘s willing to do certain things to get money.  And this is all about selling books and he does care whose reputation he tarnishes.  How do you feel about that?

JOSE CANSECO, FORMER MLB PLAYER:  That‘s not true, because I‘m involve in the book also.  And I also speak, that I used to take steroids in the past also.  I think a lot of people are afraid of the truth. 

LAUER:  It‘s been reported that you owe over $32,000 to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.  ESPN reported that you were trying to sell your 2000 New York Yankee‘s World Series ring online.  You‘ve got autographed baseballs out there.  You‘ve sold your MVP award for $30,000.  Does the money issue, thought, damage your credibility?

CANSECO:  Well, let‘s talk about perception and reality.  How many things that you just mentioned are true. 

LAUER:  How many—what is true.

CANSECO:  You mentioned certain things were sold, they have not been sold. 

LAUER:  You‘re trying to sell. 

CANSECO:  Even if I were worth $100 million today, I would get rid of every aspect or any tie that I would have to Major League Baseball.  The one mention you mentioned about, a tax issue with $30,000 -- let me give you the truth about it, not what the media perceives to be the truth.  Because in my life, it‘s amazing because what is the truth about Jose Canseco, and what is the perception?   What does the media create?  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

LAUER:  Do you owe $32,000 to Massachusetts? 

CANSECO:  I guess I do.  The reason being, My CPA years back was involved in a divorce.  She was actually divorced.  She was so depressed...

LAUER:  I guess the question is, do you have money problems? 

Do you need to make money, and did you bring this book and not care what you said in it just to make money?

CANSECO:  Absolutely not. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  There was one more thing to come out of the “Today” interview.  In the book, Jose Canseco offers to take a lie detector test about steroids.  But another player that Canseco name as a former user, the former pitcher Tony Saunders, said that he had heard it wasn‘t just a lie detector test, it was a televised lie detector test.  Jose Canseco, live, live, live.  A lie detector test on television, pay-per-view. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAUER:  You‘ll only take a lie detector test if it‘s on pay-per-view. 

Is that first of all correct? 

CANSECO:  There we have to deal with perception against reality. 

LAUER:  Are you trying to sell a pay-per-view event of you taking a lie detector test on these he issues. 

CANSECO:  We will have to wait.  Something is being set up right now. 

LAUER:  Is that the event you‘re talking about in the next month? 

CANSECO:  I cannot talk about it right now. 

LAUER:  If you were to take a lie detector test, why not do it for free?  Why not silence your critics and say Jose Canseco is not about money.  If he takes a lie detector test, take it on this show.  We won‘t pay you. 

CANSECO:  Like I said, this event is being set up soon. 

LAUER:  When are you going to make this announcement about this event that‘s going to bolster your credibility? 

CANSECO:  Very soon. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Of course, as any consumer of pay-per-view knows, whether it is boxing, wrestling or lingerie models, there‘s always more than the main live event.  That undercard, if you will—to use the boxing term.  There are other people who might also be asked to participate in Lie Detector Live 2005 Fest, as warm up acts for Jose Canseco.  So, if you see a commercial like this, appearing on your channel 874 sometime in the near future, don‘t say we did not warn you. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  This February 30, the biggest thing to hit pay-per-view since Snoop Dogg got sued, an exclusive live television event for the ages, six time all-star, one time author, Jose Canseco takes on his toughest challenge yet, the truth.  It‘s man vs. machine.  His testicles may be shrinking, but are his sweat glands growing? 

And on the undercard, we‘ll hook up Tonya Harding and ask her if she‘s been taking steroids or just cheese cakes.  Michael Jackson answers six questions about his various noses.  Harvard President Dr. Lawrence “Fighting” Larry Summers, polygraphed by 14 different women scientists.  And special guest Jeff Gannon gets four chances to correctly pronounce his real name.  All that and Jose Canseco Live, Live, Live!  The roid injector vs. the lie detector, somebody‘s pants will be on fire.  It‘s the pay-per-view event of the month.  Call your local cable provider and tell them, you can handle the truth.  Just $3.95 per household or make best offer. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  I just want to mention, again, this is MSNBC‘s newscast of record.  I hurt my throat reading that.  Jose Canseco is scheduled to join us Thursday for his first live cable news interview.  I know there‘s a lot of qualifiers in there.  Scheduled, live, cable news interview, it‘s like his 18 interview.  But they say he‘s on.  So let‘s just put hit the way, Jose Canseco on COUNTDOWN, night after tomorrow, the odds are 6 to 5.  Be there aloha. 

And lastly on this topic, if baseball players can inject chemical substances that they should not ingest into their bodies, why not baseball fans as well.  You will recall the Bartman ball play from the Chicago Cubs 2003 playoffs.  Inches from a World Series berth, when Cubs fans Steve Bartman instinctively reach for the foul ball that could have been caught by Chicago left fielder Moises Alou, the harbinger of the disaster that would wipe the 2003 Cubs off the board. 

Well, a year ago we brought you live coverage of the destruction of that ball in ritual at Harry Kerry‘s restaurant in Chicago.  It was presumed that would end the curse of the Cubbies.  It did not.  So having killed it, they‘re now eating it, sauce a la foul ball.  What‘s this particularly gritty flavor in my spaghetti sauce?  Well, I‘m sure that that‘s ground up interior of baseball. 

The restaurant says the left over yarn from the ball was mixed in a big vat, along with water, a lot of Budweiser, a lot of vodka, and some herb, and then mixed in with it‘s house spaghetti sauce.  Enough to make enough sauce for 4,000 spaghetti servings.  The first went to Nancy Berset (ph) of Crown Point, Indiana, who later told reporter, (COUGHING).

The Bartman ball sauce probably will not be on the menu at the royal wedding reception of Prince Charles and Camilla.  Several other things won‘t be there as well, like his mother the queen. 

And a family drama of a much more serious nature.  A pregnant woman murdered, the man behind bars, tonight, allegedly the baby‘s father.  Police say he was trying to cover up a life of lies.  Those stories ahead. 

Now here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When a student sticks out and becomes the focus of the attention in the classroom, rather than the teacher. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They‘re going to stand as different, you know, but still want to be the same like everyone else.  They have holes in their ears like this big, and just tattoos and like lip piercing. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The burglar had even gotten ahold of the family jewels, prompting the wife to take matters into her own hands. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She was able to take a softer part of his anatomy and convince him to move. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He was just all tied up in a package when we got there.  He was duck taped up, his hands and feet.  And then cable TV and tied up and everybody standing around him. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It has gone to number one in 27 different countries.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is the Miahee (ph) song to the USA, hello. 

(SINGING). 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  A man hunt in Texas for a missing pregnant women and her 7-year-old son ending in tragedy.  A life of secrets allegedly leading to double murder.

A secret telephone number is on the lose.  Super secret celebrity numbers—it‘s not that important but watch anyway. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  It is on its face just another tabloid murder story, swarmed over by a voyeuristic media.  The 7-year-old child and his mother, seven months pregnant, found suffocated to death, buried in a shallow grave. 

But in our second story in the COUNTDOWN, this one appears to include a dynamic that could make it timeless and make it resonate in every family in this country.  Lisa Underwood was pregnant, police in Texas say Steven Barbie killed her to keep her from telling that fact to his wife.  And then he killed her young son because he happened to walk in on the crime.  Our correspondent is Scott Gordon of our NBC station in Dallas, KXAS—Scott. 

SCOTT GORDON, KXAS:  Good evening, Keith.  The tragic story has been unraveling here all day.  The bodies of Lisa and Jayden Underwood, found in the woods behind me.  Now, police say they are led to this spot by the suspect, Steven Barbie, who was arrested over and faces charges of capital murder.  The bodies were found just a few miles from where the Underwood‘s SUV was discovered yesterday.  Police sources say Barbie gave a detailed confession, admitting he suffocated Lisa Underwood during an argument inside her Fort Worth home on Friday. 

Then police say when 7-year-old Jayden walked in screaming, he suffocated him also.  Now, as for motive, Barbie say he had an affair with Ms. Underwood, and was the father of her unborn 7-month-old baby.  He says, she want him to leave his wife, and also demanded money in exchange for not telling his wife about the baby.  A friend of Underwood says, the two did not have a serious relationship. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLLY PILS, LISA‘S FRIEND:  There was really nothing there.  I mean, they communicated once in a while, but there was really no ongoing dating relationship. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORDON:  In Missouri, a cousin of the 7-year-old‘s father had this to say. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARL BUTCHER, JAYDEN‘S COUSIN:  Lisa was an extremely good mother.  And she was great with Jayden.  And treated him extremely well.  She was a wonderful mother, so he feels some comfort in that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORDON:  Detectives had interviewed Barbie earlier and he had denied everything.  Police sources say, the break came when investigators realized the sheriff‘s deputy had unknowingly come in contact with him late Friday night.  Police say he was walk along the side of the highway after allegedly dumping the bodies and ditching the car. 

Confronted with that information, police say he finally confessed—

Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Scott Gordon of KXAS in Fort Worth, great thanks. 

A rough transition tonight into our news of celebrity and entertainment, “Keeping Tabs,” but we can use the laugh.  And as usual, Britain‘s royal family has been kind enough to provide it.  When Prince Charles gets married in 45 days, his mother the queen will not be there.  Oh, and there also won‘t an best man. 

The queen‘s prime concern, said a Buckingham Palace spokesperson today, is that the civil ceremony should be as low key as possible in line with the couple‘s wishes.  Clearly, if the queen were to attend, the occasion would no longer be by definition low key.  We believe that‘s called a tautology. 

The palace did say that she would host the wedding reception at Windsor Castle after the wedding, giving rise to theories that Elizabeth had been discourage from attending the actual ceremony for security reasons.  But then the palace denied that, too.  As to the best man, it was at first speculated that that role would be shared by Charles‘ two sons, but the palace has denied that as well.  And last world, the bride, Camilla Parker-Bowles is still planning to attend. 

And he got a week‘s postponement simply by up-chucking and hurrying off to the emergency room.  But the flu-like symptoms and the delay are over now.  Yes, it is your entertainment and tax dollars in action, day 463 of the Michael Jackson investigations.  Jackson dress in the black, showing no effects of his illness.  And after what Judge Rodney Melville acknowledged was a couple of false starts, the task of picking the jury resumed today.  He also told the court, “Mr. Jackson really was sick.  He really did have the flu.  I talk to his doctor.” 

As a side bar, and there is always a side bar in this case, the judge also revealed that the Michael Jackson “Night of a Thousand Stars” celebrity witness list had actually grown.  Somehow they left off Macaulay Culkin, Eddie Murphy and Smokey Robinson, with out the Miracles.  The list now contains something between 300 and 400 names. 

Speaking of long celebrity lists, the collective whine you heard from Hollywood, all the friends of this lady, Paris Hilton.  Yesterday we told you of the case of Hilton hacked.  Tonight the FBI investigates, and so does Michael Musto—standby. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  This February 30, the biggest thing to hit pay-per-view since Snoop Dogg got sued, an exclusive live television event for the ages, six time all-star, one time author, Jose Canseco takes on his toughest challenge yet, the truth.  It‘s man vs. machine.  His testicles may be shrinking, but are his sweat glands growing? 

And on the undercard, we‘ll hook up Tonya Harding and ask her if she‘s been taking steroids or just cheese cakes.  Michael Jackson answers six questions about his various noses.  Harvard President Dr. Lawrence “Fighting” Larry Summers, polygraphed by 14 different women scientists.  And special guest Jeff Gannon gets four chances to correctly pronounce his real name.  All that and Jose Canseco Live, Live, Live!  The roid injector vs. the lie detector, somebody‘s pants will be on fire.  It‘s the pay-per-view event of the month.  Call your local cable provider and tell them, you can handle the truth.  Just $3.95 per household or make best offer. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  I told you you‘d start seeing ads like that. 

One of the many cell phones of one Paris Hilton‘s many semi-celebrity friends rang and the caller told Deejay Samantha Ronson that he did not like the music on her Web site.  Not recognizing the caller‘s identity, she asked “How did you get my number, dude?”  The prank caller retorted, “Paris gave it to me.”

Our number one story in the COUNTDOWN, the FBI is refusing to confirm or deny reports that it is investigating.  Not because somebody she never heard of, called somebody she never heard of.  But because stuff like this may have happened to 500 of, the annoying, Ms. Hilton‘s closest, personal friends.  We first told you yesterday, that Hilton‘s cell phone had been hacked.  That over the weekend, the parts of it‘s phone number list were posted on an Internet site in South Korea.  She‘s supposedly devastated.  The Bureau is supposedly investigating.  It‘s a tad to late for Ms.  Hilton‘s friends or former friends, including the rap start Eminem, actress Lindsey Lohan, and San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom.  Each of whom, have no doubt spent parts of the last three days hearing that they had better let Prince Albert out of his can thing. 

Whenever celebrity threatens to careen head long into stuff we actually care about, we call upon “Village Voice” columnist and friend of COUNTDOWN, Michael Musto.  Good evening, Michael.

MICHAEL MUSTO, VILLAGE VOICE:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  So, how many calls have you gotten? 

MUSTO:  Korean‘s have been calling me off the hook.  No, I‘m kidding.  Absolutely zero, the same as before, because Paris actually knows my number by heart.  We‘re that close.  And actually, we communicate more by restraining order.  What a guest list that she has in there though.  It‘s like the cast list of the “Dirty” video, including Christina Aguilera.  Instead of investigating the hacking guy, the FBI should just lock up everyone on that list and make the streets safe again. 

OLBERMANN:  I am—I‘m going to go way out on a limb here, Paris Hilton did commercials for this particular cell carrier.  And since the rest of her life is essentially one long publicity stunt, is there any chance that this could be some sort of twisted publicity stunt? 

MUSTO:  It would be very twisted.  I can‘t really believe this would be great publicity for T-Mobile to say, “hey, sign up with us and the whole world will know your dirty business and your skanky friends‘ phone numbers.”  I really don‘t believe that.  It is good news for Paris, however, because she‘s dits.  She‘s an airhead—I mean, heiress.  And recently she misplaced her chihuahua.  So in case she ever loses her phone, it will be very easy for her to access the phone numbers in there, because the whole world knows it now, just look it up on line. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes, but we‘ve also seen her find her chihuahua when circumstances required.  Also, in the advertising idea there, you used the term—if you dropped the term “skanky,” it might actually work.  Each of the last two days, we got more and more names here.  You mentioned Christina Aguilera, there‘s Victoria Gotti, Nicole Richie, Ashley Olsen, Nick Carter, Kevin Conley.  But then are at least two really odd positions here, Pat O‘Brien and Mayor Newsom of San Francisco.  Isn‘t Mayor Newsom married?

MUSTO:  Well, he‘s breaking up with his wife.  So, at least this time Paris is waiting for that.  But beyond that, how did she get the number of the only straight man in San Francisco?  You‘ve got to give her credit!  Pat O‘Brien is the most intellectual on the list.  Lets say, there are not a lot of neurosurgeons on this list. 

OLBERMANN:  Does a celebrity or a semi-celebrity get street cred for having had his or her phone number on the Paris Hilton cell phone or do they just get sympathy? 

MUSTO:  Well, I think, what‘s his name, Tara Reid‘s ex-boyfriend, Carson Daley is probably thinking I‘m getting street cred for being on this list.  But even if he was on Eminem‘s phone list, and he probably is, he wouldn‘t get street cred.  I‘m not convinced he even exist.  Victoria Gotti, however, is getting cred from this.  In fact, she got, supposedly according to her, calls from 500 people, crank calls.  And coincidentally, 500 people were found dead this morning with horse heads on their beds.  I‘m kidding.  Victoria, I love you.  You‘re looking great.  Don‘t kill me. 

OLBERMANN:  Michael Musto of the “Village Voice.” And as they say, can you hear me now?  Thanks...

MUSTO:  Ring, please ring. 

OLBERMANN:  Thanks, Michael.  We get the FBI on this and see what happens.  That‘s COUNTDOWN, thanks for being a part of it.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, should we play that Canseco video again?  Oh no, there‘s not enough time, sorry.  Well maybe tomorrow night.  Good night and good luck.

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

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