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updated 4/18/2005 9:03:14 PM ET 2005-04-19T01:03:14
Live blogging

Did you lose the remote again?  If you can't watch Keith Olbermann — voted Playgirl's Sexiest Anchorman — at 8 p.m. ET, get your fill online. Live blogs of 'Countdown' are available exclusively at Countdown.msnbc.com.  Click and let the fun begin!

Papal conclave begins — The ancient solemnities of nearly a thousand years. .. The rituals and secrecies that have built up since the College of Cardinals elected its first Pope — Alexander the Second — in 1061...The majesties and the mysteries of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.  Today met, for the first time, the crass, vulgar, commercial realities of the age of instant electronic communications.  We did not get a successor to John-Paul .  We did get live coverage, for hours, on many networks, on most continents, of a nondescript, run-of-the-mill smoke-stack — with nothing coming out of it.  The Conclave met Cable News: All Vatican, all the time began with a special memorial mass for the late John Paul the Second.  Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger made an appeal for another conservative pope in his homily, by warning that the Church must take a strict line against moral drift and relativism.  Later in the day the Cardinals marched two by two into the Sistine Chapel... Each one of them, provided with a conclave rulebook, only two of the 115 cardinals were in the last conclave more than 26-years-ago.  Each then placed a right hand on the bible pledging never to reveal what happens in the conclave.  The penalty is severe: automatic ex-communication.  All cameras focused on the chimney atop the chapel.  The first vote, at first glance, seemed to have produced a Pope.  White smoke!  Actually it was just smoke on its way to becoming black smoke.  The crowd — and even Vatican Radio got fooled.

DeLay dust-up — After the last controversial speech — barely three weeks ago — he wound up apologizing for his implicit suggestions about recriminations and, maybe even violence.  One just assumed that in the light of that — and the light of an ethics controversy that has now led at least four prominent members of his own party to question his role as Majority Leader in the House — there was not to be another controversial speech from Tom DeLay. 

Jackson — Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.  We are all, in some way, being besmirched by the Michael Jackson trial.  From head-licking to the subpoena of Larry King ... it's been bad.  Now it gets worse: Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau asked the accuser's mother why, in an interview with police in 2001, she had mentioned Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant and LA television weatherman Fritz Coleman.  She explained that after a domestic dispute, her husband was calling me a whore and said I having sex with these people."  's your entertainment and tax dollars in action: Day 518 of the Michael Jackson investigations .  There seems to have been a method to today's madness.  A defense "theme" that the accuser's mother has a tendency to latch onto celebrities, with the hope of currying favors at best, swindling cash at worst.  And being a wannabee at all times.  Mesereau asked her about a disability claim she made in the late '90s.   In it, she cited depression, and said she was "sad about being a nobody..."  The accuser's mother countered three times bu saying, "I'm still a nobody."  She later said Jackson "really didn't care about the children.  He just cared about what he was doing with the children."

All access MLB An unusual story under any circumstances . But that it was just the tip of the iceberg of what law enforcement believes is an incredibly, ingenious, long-running, money-making scam raises it almost to a form of art.  He appeared to be a very unsuccessful free-lance television sportscaster. In fact, it is alleged, he was an entrepreneur.  Jeff Gannon, move over — meet Mark Sabia.  A week ago, at Shea Stadium in New York, when Sabia attempted to pick up the credentials that would admit him and colleagues at his tiny media outlet to New York Mets' baseball games this season, he was arrested by Queens County officers and charged with five felony counts of falsifying business records and sixteen misdemeanor counts running the gamut from petty larceny to criminal impersonation.  Sabia and his custom-made yellow mike flag, for "Mark Sabia's Sports Zone", were regulars at Shea, at Yankee Stadium, at Madison Square Garden, at Giants Football Stadium, for years. He was admitted — free of charge — to hundreds of regular season baseball, basketball, football, and hockey games, and five World Series.  He was fully accredited, season after season, by as many as half a dozen teams, who believed he worked for "Westchester Cable Services," supplying interviews for small television outlets in the suburbs and upstate New York.

Smokin' — So if the television was broken all day, or you hid from it, or you're just returning from the planet Sky-ron in the Galaxy of Andromeda.  They did not elect a Pope today.  Although for a moment, wisps of white smoke were seen on the live-chimney-cam at the Vatican.  Enough to fool even Vatican Radio.  Then it turned from wisps into belches of black smoke.  And it wasn't burnt popcorn.

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