updated 6/30/2005 9:13:26 AM ET 2005-06-30T13:13:26

Guest: Dana Milbank, Leslie Weise, Howard Fineman, James Oberg, Katherine Jackson, Mary CareyKEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

To vote or not to vote?  That is the question.  Yesterday about votin' on John Bolton, the answer was no.  Today, it's yes.

And it's yes in Utah.  The missing Cub Scout is alive and well and hungry.

A dream of Carl Sagan comes true beneath a Russian sea.  This may look like shooting pigs into space, but its proponents say, this is “Star Trek” come true, stardate 00001.

This is interview number 0001 with Michael Jackson's mother.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  But he's not a child molester.  He's not a pedophile.  And he doesn't give liquor to children.  These kids were bad kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And tonight, a good interview with a good kid.  The woman who would be lieutenant governor of California, Mary Carey, live in the studio.  Fasten your seat belts.

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You're really cute, I want to meet you in person. 

(INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Good evening from Los Angeles.

It will not mean much if you didn't spend at least part of your youth in New York, but from January 1955 through June 1972, usually for six days a week, a kids' TV show with Dick Tracy cartoons, the Three Stooges, and/or Felix the Cat was hosted by one guy.  He was as consistent a presence as the sunrise, and never seemed to leave our collective consciousness for more than a few hours.

We knew him as Officer Joe Bolton, complete with policeman's cap and nightstick.  And it feels as if his almost exact namesake, John Bolton, has become just as ubiquitous and just as long running in our national political consciousness.

Our fifth story in the COUNTDOWN tonight, Officer John Bolton, U.N.  ambassador-designate, and his newest show, to vote or not to vote?

For a time today, it looked like there would be no further vote on the Bolton nomination in the U.S. Senate.  The source was solid.  The Republican leader of that Senate, Bill Frist himself, saying he had no plans to schedule another cloture vote, which, if successful, would have ended the slow-motion filibuster and lead to an up-or-down vote itself.

The next move, according to Frist, was in the hands of the president, who apparently decided that his first move would be getting the majority leader to change his first opinion.  Just two hours later, after a lunch meeting with the president at the White House, Bill Frist was back on the votin' Bolton bandwagon.

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SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER:  The president made it very clear that he expects an up-or-down vote.  And in talking directly to leadership and to our entire caucus, I hope that we can deliver that up-or-down vote.  So we'll continue working in that regard.

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OLBERMANN:  More on this in a moment with Howard Fineman.

But if part of the Bolton thing is the premise that Americans no longer trust the world after 9/11, that rationale seems to be evaporating, at least according to a “USA Today”-Gallup poll.  It suggests we want to keep Gitmo open, we want to shut down Iraq, we aren't sure that the administration is more than a three-to-two bet to protect us from terrorism, but maybe that's OK, because belief that another attack is relatively imminent has dropped from 85 percent to 35 percent.

And, oh, by the way, according to a political scientist interpreting the data, we're all generally in a funk.

Little to cheer the Bush White House in these latest numbers.  Americans full of malaise, mainly because of the war in Iraq, only 39 percent, mostly Republicans, saying they still favor the conflict, 39 percent.  That's down from a high of 72 percent in April 2003.

The president's job approval numbers in a funk of their own right now, hovering at 47 percent, at or below 50-50 for the past three months.  What passes for good news in this poll?  That Americans, presumably influenced by the fact that there has not been a terrorist attack on U.S. soil since September 2001 are still confident to the tune of 61 percent that the Bush administration can protect the nation against attacks.

To help steer us through the murky waters of poll results and what, if anything, they mean, to say nothing of the continuing adventures of Officer John Bolton, we turn as ever to “Newsweek”'s chief political correspondent, Howard Fineman.

Good evening, Howard.

HOWARD FINEMAN, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, “NEWSWEEK” MAGAZINE: 

Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  I'm hearing more and more from people, mostly on the right, that the polls mean nothing.  They can be tweaked, they can be abused to get you any result you want.

So do these numbers have any real importance or relevance, even relatively?

FINEMAN:  Yes, they do.  Not in isolation, not just this one poll.  But the way you have to look at any one poll is in context with other polls taken at the same time, with others of this particular poll that used the same question.  Then you get trends, then you get some meaning.

And I think there is some here.  I think basically, the war in Iraq and the lack of progress therein and Social Security and the public distaste therefor are like two cinder blocks around George Bush's ankles.  It's making it very difficult for him to move.

OLBERMANN:  Does that mean there is a collision course here, between the president of the United States and his party and his supporters, and an actual majority of opposition opinion?  Is the—is that what we're facing in the next few months?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think we have to see.  I think opinion has shifted on the war in Iraq.  It's interesting that people feel safer here.  But I think they're sensible.  I think what voters are saying in this poll is, We like the idea of taking the war to the bad guys.  And that's good in the short term, makes us feel safer here.  But what hornets' nests are we stirring up?  What long-range consequences might there be in the Middle East?

And I think that's a big debate.  I think it's a debate that's beginning to take shape within the Republican Party, with people like Senator Chuck Hagel speaking up about the war.  And I think you're going to see more of that, as well as a serious bring-the-troops-home wing in the Democratic Party.  Hasn't emerged yet, but it's going to.

OLBERMANN:  Turning to Bolton, and clearly there is some—if not cleave in this situation with parts of the Republican Party, there certainly seems to be some disconnect.  Why, if the president seemed ready to just put him in the U.N. once Congress goes the hell home, why did Senator Frist insist on pushing for another vote?  What happened here?

FINEMAN:  Well,  we have poll, you know, there are public polls.  And then the White House has its own internal polls.  They claim that their internal polls show rising public dissatisfaction with, quote, “Democratic Party obstructionism,” unquote.  And they want to make that point by putting Bolton up again.

I'm tempted, since you mention old-time TV, to say it's a revoltin' development.

OLBERMANN:  Thank you.

FINEMAN:  But they're—they're going to put him up again, and they're going to cry obstructionism if he doesn't get approved.  And they're going to do the same thing on Social Security, where they're trying to draw the Democrats into a debate, into a discussion, by at least provisionally, through intermediaries, dropping the private accounts issue.  That's like a piece of bait to try to drop draw the Democrats in.  If the Democrats don't play ball, then you'll hear the big O word again, obstructionism.

OLBERMANN:  So what is the ultimate outcome, obstructionism or no obstructionism, on the future of John Bolton as the ambassador to the United Nations?

FINEMAN:  I don't think he's going to make it.  I think he's going to be a testament to obstructionism.  And I do think in the end, after at least one more vote, that the president will give him a so-called recess appointment.  So you will get to see John Bolton talking about tearing down 10 floors at the U.N. while speaking in the U.N..

OLBERMANN:  Will there be another nominee?  And if so, how soon?

FINEMAN:  I think they will put Bolton up as a recess appointment.  And after that, I don't know.  I mean, the—what all this is a prelude to, of course, are the Supreme Court battles to come.  When they're going to happen, we don't know.  But that's what all of this is a prelude to, the big fight.

And also the '06 campaign.  The Republican theme, the Bush theme, is going to be do-nothing Democrats, obstructionist Democrats standing in the way of the president's agenda.  What their White House is not going to say is that this Social Security proposal the president put forward has been very unpopular and doesn't look like it's going to get more popular between now and next November.

OLBERMANN:  The 1948 Harry Truman campaign just switched Democrats and Republicans.  And you got it there.

FINEMAN:  Exactly, that's do-nothing Congress, you got it.

OLBERMANN:  Howard Fineman of “Newsweek,” and when the fates smile upon us, COUNTDOWN.  Great thanks, sir.

FINEMAN:  OK.

OLBERMANN:  And also from the We're mad as hell and we're not going to take this any more file, rare is the life that includes getting kicked out of a presidential rally.  Rare too is one that includes getting turned back at the gates of the White House itself.

But tonight, three Denver activists can say they accomplished both in just three months, exactly three months.

On March 21, Karen Bower, Leslie Weise, and Alex Young were admitted to the Wings over the Rockies Air and Space Museum for President Bush's clambake on Social Security reform.  Half an hour later, the same unidentified man who let them in kicked them out.

Mr. Young says they were told they were getting the bum's rush because one of them had a bumper sticker on the back of her car reading “No More Blood for Oil.”

So the three went to Washington, hoping to deliver a letter to the president asking him to identify who told them to leave the rally.  Supposedly, they thought it was a Secret Service person.  But a uniformed Secret Service sergeant at the gate told them that letters and packages are to accepted through the iron fence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, suggested that instead, they get a roll of stamps and mail it in.

This they then did, literally.  They mailed the letter.  Dana Milbank, “The Washington Post,” national political reporter, spent the day with the Denver Three.  And as his punishment, he now gets to spend a few minutes with us.

Good evening, Dana.

DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: 

Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:   Also with us, one of those who mailed the letter, Leslie Weise.

Ms. Weise, good evening to you.

LESLIE WEISE, DEMOCRATIC ACTIVIST:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Dana, let me start with you.  And let's be clear, these are not Jimmy Stewart and two of his buddies from the Boy Rangers from “Mr.  Smith Goes to Washington.”  There is a political context here, to some degree, is there not?

MILBANK:  No, it's partially true, because they're very sympathetic characters.  As you'll see, Leslie doesn't look like your typical thug or heckler.  But, of course, there's a political component to it, in that it is a way of posing the main issue around this administration, and that is, that they have not allowed the free flow of information, the free exchange of ideas, and, as these people say, that they're misleading the American public.

So of course it gets at that.  It's a way for Democrats, as they did today, when these people were visiting them, to go after the president on Social Security.  But it's a very safe way do that, because the Denver Three have a compelling case to make.

OLBERMANN:  Ms. Weise, let's talk about that case, going back to the incident in Denver in March.  What's the independent verification that you got kicked out because of the “No Blood for Oil” bumper sticker, or, in fact, even that you got kicked out?

WEISE:  Well, two friends and I attended the event.  We had tickets from the event we obtained from our congressman's office.  And we were physically removed from the event by a man who was wearing a suit and an earpiece, who was identified to us by another person working at the event as a Secret Service agent.

We called the next day to find out why this had happened to us, because we were not told the day of the event.  And it was confirmed by Secret Service in Denver that the person who removed us was not, in fact, a Secret Service agent, but rather in fact was a White House event staff person.

And it was—the sole reason we were removed was because of the bumper sticker on my car.  This was confirmed us to by Secret Service.

What we're here in D.C. to find out is, what are the instructions given to these people who are—there's a pattern throughout the country.  This didn't just happen to us in Colorado.  It happened in Arizona, in North Dakota, in New Hampshire.  So we're here to find out, what are the instructions by the White House to these event staffers to remove citizens, not because they've done anything wrong, but because of their viewpoints alone?

OLBERMANN:  Ms. Weise, strip away the political layers here and distill the complaint for me, that what, that taxpayer money is used for those Social Security rallies or other rallies, and if somebody kicks you out, you ought to be able to get a photocopy of their Secret Service ID or their Republican Committee ID or whatever?

MILBANK:  Well, it's that citizens should not be removed if they haven't done anything to disrupt or to do—we hadn't done anything wrong.  But we were removed because of the bumper sticker on my car.  Americans should not be fearful that they can't wear a T-shirt or a bumper sticker or have a viewpoint that's different than the president or this administration.

He is the president for all Americans.  This is a taxpayer-funded event.  We had legitimate tickets to the event.  But we were thrown out because what was confirmed was the bumper sticker on my car.

OLBERMANN:  Dana, regarding today, is there anything intrinsically wrong about the White House not accepting hand-delivered letters?  I mean, I know Theodore Roosevelt used to have open house on New Year's Day, and everybody could go in and shake his hand.  But does not security and logic suggest that what happened was the right thing to do yesterday?

MILBANK:  Well, of course, and they knew that, the letters were already stamped and preaddressed.  Nobody was expecting the president to come out onto the lawn and give them all a big hug.  But it's a symbolic gesture.  It's done for the cameras.  That's how you wage a battle like this with the White House.

They try to embarrass the White House as much as possible, get as much media attention.  And as a result of that, they've got a terrific hearing, both from Democrats and Republicans up on the Hill.

OLBERMANN:  Dana, what are they going to do about this?  What are the Democrats going to do with this, other than, say, get it on the news?

MILBANK:  They're just—that's all, pretty much all the Democrats can do with any issue, is just make an awful lot of noise about it.  The White House is in a tough spot, because they say, Oh, it's just an overzealous volunteer.  The problem is, there are overzealous volunteers popping up at all these Bush events all around the country.  So it gets harder to argue that this is just a coincidence.

There are Freedom of Information requests out there.  These folks are threatening to file a lawsuit.  One thing they do seem capable of doing is getting all of us to keep chattering about it.

OLBERMANN:  At best, it does appear to be an overzealous employee franchise around the country.

Dana Milbank of “The Washington Post,” Leslie Weise, one of the members of the so-called Denver Three, we're out of time.  Thank you both for yours.

WEISE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Also tonight, it was one of the darkest moments in Mississippi's racist past.  Now today, decades later, on the anniversary, a former Ku Klux Klansman convicted in the deaths of three civil rights volunteers.

And reaction to another trial.  Michael Jackson's mother in an exclusive interview with MSNBC's Rita Cosby.

From the heart of Southern California, you are watching COUNTDOWN on

MSNBC.

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OLBERMANN:  We make too much of historical anniversaries.  Well, I make too much of historical anniversaries.  But there is no escaping the shudder that came out of Philadelphia, Mississippi, today.

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, on June 21, 1964, three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, disappeared there, as it later proved, ambushed, beaten, shot, and buried in an earthen dam.

This morning, 41 years to the day the trio vanished, a jury that only yesterday had declared itself hung, decided that a fragile old man in a wheelchair hooked up to an oxygen tube had organized the activists' assassinations.

Our correspondent at the courthouse is Mark Potter.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Edgar Mike Killen, guilty of manslaughter...

MARK POTTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  The verdict, guilty on all three counts.  Though the jurors chose a lesser charge, manslaughter, not murder, they still held the former Ku Klux Klan leader responsible for the killings of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman in 1964.

MARK DUNCAN, DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  While we can't undo what was done here 41 years ago, at least now in 2005, the state of Mississippi has done what it can.

POTTER:  As the verdict was announced, residents gathered outside the courthouse, most of them relieved a decision was reached at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I feel like justice was served.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The lives of these three men were taken in vain. 

Their voices were finally heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The idea is, pray that now that the white people and black people can get along better.

POTTER:  A visibly angry Killen headed to jail, while the family members of the victims thanked the jury of nine whites and three blacks for a verdict they felt was a long time coming.

BEN CHANEY, VICTIM'S BROTHER:  I'm glad the jury could see beyond this us-against-them attitude that the defense counsel tried to portray, because it's not us against them.  It's those who believe in justice and peace and those that believe in violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I would hope that this case is just the beginning, and not an end.

POTTER:  But state officials say no other suspects are likely to be charged, leaving today's verdict the last chapter in a violent Mississippi history.

(on camera):  Killen will be sentenced on Thursday morning.  He could get from three to 60 years in prison.  Keith?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Mark Potter from Philadelphia, Mississippi.  Great thanks.

Fortunately, not everything in the world is that serious.  If you've ever seen an Impressionist painting and said, That looks like it was painted by a drunken monkey, today you have been vindicated.

But here in California, it's time for the annual election.  In our studios, on this very stage for you tonight, a woman who knows a lot about elections, candidate for lieutenant governor of California, Mary Carey.

Stand by.

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OLBERMANN:  In a one-hour news broadcast, there's only a limited amount of time which can be devoted to art and other high culture.  That limited amount of time, of course, is none.

But if there are monkeys involved, drop the live shot from the White House.

Let's play Oddball.

We begin at the London auction house where three works by a chimpanzee named Congo have just fetched more than $27,000, paintings done by a chimp in 1957.

You could say the works are abstract, but really, anytime you give a monkey a paintbrush, you're not likely to get trompe l'oeil.

But at the same auction, works by Andy Warhol and Renoir did not sell at all, so maybe Congo is more talented than we thought.  Then again, the buyer is a Los Angeles collector by the name of Howard Kong.  Kong.

Up for bid at the next auction, the entire works of Shakespeare, written by 1,000 monkeys locked in a room for a century with typewriters.

And what's the situation with this deer in Fitchburg, Massachusetts?  I'll tell you, he just can't believe those low, low prices.  Surveillance video from a convenience store outside Boston this week, where a deer came running through the front door like there was a sale on slushies.  Customers and employees cleared out while the deer roamed the aisles, thumbed through the magazines without buying any, before he was finally shot with a tranquilizer gun and returned to the forest.

Thank you, come again.

Well, the deer can go shopping.  Why can't devotees of Carl Sagan go to the planet Skyon on a ship powered by solar wind, traveling billions and billions of miles?  Today, they say, was the first step.

And the happy news out of Utah, missing Cub Scout found alive after surviving on his own in the woods for nearly five days.

Those stories ahead.

But now, here are COUNTDOWN's top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, owners of a stationery shop in Pionersk, Russia.  Eight of their windows are in tatters after a bull and a cow broke into the place.  As employees and passersby watched in amazement, the bull and the cow made beautiful music together.

Cleanup on aisle six.

Number 2, Graham Duck of Loftus, England.  Lightning struck the roof of Mr. Duck's home, and the resultant fire in the attic destroyed $35,000 worth of his belongings, his collection of “Star Wars” memorabilia.  Graham, I'm not a very religious man, but I would have to say, this was a direct sign from God.

And number one, Thomas Mason of Winona, Minnesota.  He robbed a bank there, handing the teller a note in which he threatened to kill everybody if he didn't get $1,000.  Police suspect he may have been inebriated, because the note, the one in which he demanded the money and then threatened the mayhem, he signed his name, Cordially yours, Thomas Mason.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Our third story in the COUNTDOWN could easily be entitled “Be prepared,” from the safe rescue of a missing Boy Scout in Utah to the possible rescue of endangered shuttle astronauts.  And we begin with a tale that has all the elements of a very hastily written short story in a sci-fi magazine.  There's a group called the Planetary Society that hopes to eventually send humans into different galaxies in space ships propelled by lasers and the solar wind.  Today it again tried to launch Cosmos One from a submarine, our first step into the great beyond.  And it was all to be controlled from Pasadena, California, the scientifically famed home of the Jet Propulsion Lab.  Engine failure at 83 seconds, then splash.

Also, the Planetary Society is based in a three-story bungalow in a quiet California neighborhood, and the entire project cost less than the annual salary of the average major league baseball middle relief pitcher.  Which is a good thing, since it sank.

Also, the first solar sail was to emerge not near Pasadena but from a Russian sub deep in the Barents Sea, which, if you're trying to place it geographically, is near downtown Murmansk.  Not that the sail got anywhere near downtown Murmansk.  Still, the idea was basically that of the late famed cosmologist of Cornell University, PBS and the “Tonight” show, Carl Sagan.  And if ever it works and if it ever leads to what supporters think it will lead to, it's, as one of them put it yesterday, the start of “Star Trek.”  Remember, “Star Trek” was canceled.

Net cost, $4 million.  And this transpires just at the moment that NASA reveals plans costing many times that amount, maybe billions and billions, as Dr. Sagan told us, to backstop the next launch of the space shuttle, to at least provide options in the event of a repeat of the Columbia disaster of two years and four months ago, damage to the wing allowing a breach of that craft's heat shield, a repeat of which Leroy Cain, NASA's flight director of ascent and entry on this mission, hopes not to see repeated.

Flight rules in place for decades will now become malleable in a worst-case scenario, among them the angle at which the shuttle reenters the earth's atmosphere to be raised by 10 degrees.  During orbit, any damaged area on the shuttle would thus be maneuvered away from the sun so that it would instead be facing the sub-zero temperatures of deep space.  Another portion of the plan bringing some historical context to the table, just like in the old zeppelins and many aircraft, all unnecessary items and equipment would be thrown out the window.

But even given these new measures, Lane admits, quote, “There is no guarantee.”  So dreams of sailing to Andromeda on solar winds, if not on gossamer, wings, juxtaposed tonight with nightmares about the all-too-evident flaws in man's continuing 50-year effort to get into and back from space without calamity.

Joining us now from Houston, NBC space consultant James Oberg, former space shuttle engineer himself.  Jim, thanks for your time tonight.

JAMES OBERG, NBC SPACE CONSULTANT:  Hi, Keith.

KEITH OLBERMANN:  Discovery is supposed to go up in four to six weeks.  Looking at these emergency plans that are out now, should it go up as planned?

OBERG:  It looks like it's ready.  The plans are there.  But more than the plans, it's the people's attitudes that have changed.  The horrible part about the accident with Columbia, or Challenger and these other accidents, we find out in hindsight, is that they were avoidable to a large degree.  The NASA people had gotten overconfident, had gotten too cocky, in some cases, and just didn't stay scared enough, made mistakes that they should have known better not to make, and people paid for it.  Now, space will won't let you do that, and neither will the IRS, so yes, we need to be real cautious.

OLBERMANN:  One thing leaped out from the NASA plans, at least to me, as a layman, bringing a damaged shuttle, presumably with the same kind of heat shield problems that doomed Columbia—bringing it in not at a 40-degree angle but maybe one as high as 50 degrees.  Does that require that, in essence, it has to be piloted and landed manually, like the airplane pilot who took his little Beechcraft down on the Ventura Highway out here Friday night?

OBERG:  Well, all the shuttle landings are manual, once you're down subsonic.  But these very high-speed entries, they're doing Mach 25 when they hit the atmosphere, down to Mach 15, Mach 5, and they're controlled with autopilot.  But they can be controlled manually.  And this extra—extra nose up is just one of the options, one of the tricks they've now tested in their pockets.

But these tricks aren't going to be what saves the crew.  If something funny goes wrong or something unusual goes wrong, the ground and the crew are a whole lot more alert now, like they should have been two-and-a-half years ago, to look at strange things, to look at funny noises back in the payload bay.  It might be the alien, it might be something loose in the back aileron—elevon (ph).

So they're going to be doing these things because their attitudes have improved.  It's a tragedy that it took that price to improve those attitudes, but it's taken root.

OLBERMANN:  What happened to the plans, or the discussions anyway, of the possibility of having standby craft ready to go up and run a rescue mission?

OBERG:  For the first two flights, they will have the next-in-line shuttle ready to roll out to the launch pad and launch them in time because these flights—unlike Columbia, these flights are going up to the space station.  They can dock on the space station.  There are two guys up there now—and just take all their sandwiches and breathe their air.  And there's enough reserve supplies for the whole shuttle crew and even the two guys in the station.  They don't get voted off the station.  There's enough air to keep them going for a month, until the next shuttle goes up.

That's for the first two flights.  Even during Columbia, there are people who say that if they'd known there was trouble, if people had looked for that hole that they should have suspected, they could have launched another shuttle in time or gone down swinging.  As it was, no one had the chance to try it.

OLBERMANN:  One thing we know for sure is if that there's a problem in this next launch, they're not going to be able to rely on Cosmos One.  Give me your impression on this dream of sailing into space on lasers and solar wind and getting exactly—I don't know how many feet above the Barents Sea they got, but they were only in the air for 83 seconds.

OBERG:  Well, it was a cut-rate Soviet government surplus rocket because it's a privately funded group.  NASA wasn't involved in this kind thing, in some ways, because NASA's gotten too timid and doesn't want to try real risky things because it gets embarrassed.  Well, it should be embarrassed by some of its failures.  But failing at new things should never embarrass anybody.  And I wish NASA—and I think maybe the new NASA now, with new leadership, may get more involved in these tests.

These guys at the Planetary Society, they're trying to demonstrate the feasibility of using not solar wind—that's not going to help you out at all—but the pressure of sunlight itself to push you faster and faster and faster over a long period of time.  Now, this craft wasn't going to do that.  They're not going to put people on it because people are too heavy.  At least, I am.  And probably, you know, we both are.  But you can put little instruments on it and fly it out towards the stars, maybe hit maybe in a few decades.

This is a first—this was a first try at demonstrating tacking, in using photons for propulsion.  They're going to try again.  It's going to work some time or other.  And maybe it'll cost a little more.  Maybe the Russian cut-rate rockets are no bargain, as they're finding out.

OLBERMANN:  Evidently.  NBC space consultant James Oberg, great. 

Thanks for your insight.  Always a pleasure to talk to you.

OBERG:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  And now the last part of “Be prepared,” easily the best.  Though the weather was good and the boy well trained, hopes were ebbing that 11-year-old Brennan Hawkins would be found alive in the mountain of Utah.  Today, as our correspondent Michelle Kosinski reports from the scene, we were reminded that hope springs eternal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Five agonizing days in the wilds of Utah, just a few words (ph), a sense of doom, comes elation.

BOB HAWKINS, BRENNAN HAWKINS'S UNCLE:  Brennan has been found.  He's in very good condition.

KOSINSKI:  Eleven-year-old Brennan Hawkins, missing since Friday, is found by searchers several miles and over a high ridge from the Scout camp where he vanished.

SHERIFF DAVE EDMUNDS, SUMMIT COUNTY, UTAH:  Hadn't had much to drink at all.  As soon as they got there, he ate all the food that they had on them, all the granola bars and everything.  After he got a couple of drinks in him of water and some food, he immediately wanted to play a video game on one of the searchers' cell phones.

KOSINSKI:  Dehydrated but fine, just fine was the word that spread like fire through a terrain where cell phones don't work.  Jubilation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Go, Brennan!

HAWKINS:  It's a great miracle.  That's all I need to say.

KOSINSKI:  Today, the unspoken word among hundreds of searchers was that this was all but a recovery effort focused on the Bear River.  Forrest Numley (ph), a volunteer searcher who came for the day, found Brennan by a lake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just listening to your soul and just went to where I guess I was supposed to today.

KOSINSKI:  Now, after five excruciating days, joy as this young survivor sees his parents for the first time.

JODY HAWKINS, BRENNAN HAWKINS'S MOTHER:  We are here to unequivocally tell you that the heavens are not closed, prayers are answered, and children come home!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOSINSKI:  Brennan is in a hospital in excellent condition, good spirits after several nights in the mountain cold wearing shorts.  The sheriff here says, truly, anything is possible—Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Michelle Kosinski in the woods outside Salt Lake City, great.  Thanks.

Also tonight, Michael Jackson's mother sitting down for an exclusive interview with MSNBC's Rita Cosby, strong and not complimentary words from Katherine Jackson about her son's accusers and to district attorney Tom Sneddon.

And if you're in California, it must almost be election time.  Gearing up for yet another run at the state house, Mary Carey.  She'll join me live.  Well, we'll see just how live I still am by that point.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The Michael Jackson investigations and trial lasted 574 days.  There was very little time for contemplative scholars to wax philosophical about the little picture.  We spent a lot of time on pedophilia, celebrity and race, and certainly, on the little boy at the heart of the case and his mother.  Well, we spent a lot of time on one of the little boys and one of the mothers.

But tonight, in our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, little thought was given to the mother of what many people described as the youngest boy in the entire drama.  That would be Katherine Jackson, the mother of Michael.  MSNBC's Rita Cosby now with her exclusive interview with the mother as convinced as any of those in the witness box, in the courtroom or in the audience that her son was telling the truth.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATHERINE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S MOTHER:  One of the reasons why it devastated him, these people that he was good to—and he would tell me, he'd say, Mother, these people, when they say, Called your next witness, he said, and I look around and I'm surprised.  It's people that I've helped, and they're up there trying to get money off—make money off of me by lying.  I don't understand how people can do that.

RITA COSBY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Do you think your son, Michael Jackson, has shaken these allegations of child molestation once and for all?

JACKSON:  He's been proven not to be a child molester, and they know he's not.  But some people just want to believe what—they want to—they believe what they believe.  I can't stop that.  But I wish they would stop and think about it, that he's not a child molester, he's not a pedophile, and he doesn't give liquor to children.  These kids were bad kids.

COSBY:  If you could see the boy and the mother, what would you say to them?

JACKSON:  You know what?  I couldn't even answer that right now.  It all depends on what mood I'm in when I see them.  And I feel sorry for them, too.  And from what I hear about their past, I feel sorry for their future, if they don't change their ways.

COSBY:  Some of the jurors said that they believed your son may have molested someone else before, but they didn't believe the words of this family.

JACKSON:  I think that was one juror.  I think they said juror number one said that.  I can't change his mind.  He believes what he wants to believe.

COSBY:  I spoke with district attorney Tom Sneddon.  He was unapologetic, said he made no mistakes and would do it again.  What do you say to Tom Sneddon?

JACKSON:  Maybe he didn't make no mistakes and what he called no mistakes.  But he made a big mistake.  My son is not a pedophile.

COSBY:  Are you angry at the way that some perceive that he went after your son, targeted your son?

JACKSON:  You want me to answer that?  I do.  My son's a better person than he is because what he did to my son, my son would never do to anyone else.  And another thing, too.  That ranch was not built to lure little children into there just to molest them, as the prosecutors tried to say.  When he let people come out there and enjoy the ranch, everything is free.  And he's always been taught to give and to share, and this is what he always say.  And when I ask him, Michael, please don't let anyone else come on your ranch, he said, Mother, if I have to help these people now, I'll help them from a distance.

And I was thinking to myself, Forget it.  Don't help them at all if they're going to cause you this much, you know, problems in your life.  But he never said that he would not help.

COSBY:  But do you think from here on out, he will say, OK, no kids, no boys in the bedroom because I don't want to be accused of something?

JACKSON:  I'm sure he's not going to do that now.  Twice he's been accused of doing something he hadn't done.

COSBY:  How did this trial affect you personally?

JACKSON:  If you ask any mother that really loves and cares for a child, they would know how I felt.  I had anxiety sometimes.  I prayed about all of that.  He was my child, and I loved him and I was going to stick by him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Segueing neatly into our round-up of celebrity news and gossip in “Keeping Tabs,” and bedfellows may make strange politicians or vice versa, but who could have imagined that the people who would come to the defense of Tom Cruise would be the paparazzi.  Incensed that a fake news reporter squirted water in the actor's face during a supposed interview in London Sunday, the tabloid “The Sun” decided it was time for revenge.  The paper sent in its own undercover reporters dressed in “Mission Impossible” outfits and carrying super-soakers to ambush the squirter as he was released from jail.

Imagine, fake news reporters in England.

And yes, here's the obligatory self-serving reference to why I'm out here.  I was on the “Tonight” show with Jay Leno, last night.  This is the part where you have the out-of-body experience, where you're simultaneously sitting in the back row of the audience while trying to make your legs work.  Left, right, left, right.

We talked about current events, largely, like the Jackson trial.  Jay seemed, well, undecided about one aspect about it, “Michael Jackson Puppet Theatre.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

We were reduced to recreating testimony.  We couldn't afford actors. 

So we were reduced to using...

JAY LENO, HOST:  You would up...

(CROSSTALK)

LENO:  This would be me, right?

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  And when Jay—you know, and it was, like, Hi, Jay.  How are you?  Like that kind of thing.

LENO:  Right.  Right.

OLBERMANN:  And we'd do this for 30 seconds to illustrate a point or just make something up.

LENO:  And you have...

OLBERMANN:  Right.  Because at some point, your character said, Kevin, you'll enjoy this.

LENO:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  So we had to have Kevin.  Kevin ducked in, and then we had

·         this—Kevin didn't appear with Michael in this—in the puppet theater thing or in real life.  And then there was that little one they did...

LENO:  Have puppets ever been funny?  This is a question I've had as a child.

(LAUGHTER)

LENO:  Maybe it's me.  Clowns and puppets never quite worked for me, but maybe I'm wrong.

OLBERMANN:  Jay, this is not supposed to be funny.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The studio audience then laughed after we showed them an episode.  And as I told Jay, these people know their news.  Plus, puppet theater is the newest innovation in electronic journalism.  You watch.  Within a year, all newscasts will have puppets.  Well, FOX already has puppets, but that's another story.

We've even used the genre to illustrate the ground-breaking visit of an adult film star to an RNC fund-raiser.  But no need for popsicle sticks tonight.  The real Mary Carey joins me live next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The joke about the weather in Florida goes, with eminent simplicity, that if you don't like it, wait a few hours, it'll change.  We could say the same thing about the elections in California.  As of November 7 of next year, this unique state will have had in a span of four years three elections for governor.  Oh, and there's a special bonus legislative initiative election five months from now.  No extra charge.

Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN this evening: There are more cast changes in Sacramento than there are in the real world.  Good thing, too, that the state's governor has apparently just pitched a series, Arnold Schwarzenegger telling the “LA Daily News” that things in his office are so crazy that were there cameras recording the state's business, quote, “People would be howling,” adding, “It would be the highest rated show in the nation.”

Well, the Governator's got the howling.  What he don't got, apparently, is the ratings.  The latest “San Francisco Chronicle” poll conducted with the California Field Group, showing that amongst registered voters, Schwarzenegger's approval rating is at 37 percent.  But among all those polled, regardless of voter status, the number drops to 31 percent, his lowest ever, and making him among the least supported governors in California history.

Time for a new cast member in Sacramento, a cute kid to inject a little wide-eyed humor and provide a desperately needed ratings boost?  Governor, have I got a cast add for you!  Mary Carey, adult film actress, newly christened member of the GOP.  Having already raised both cash and—eyebrows during her appearance at last week's National Republican Congressional Committee fund-raising event, Ms. Carey is now poised to take yet another political plunge, lieutenant governor for California.  She's already run for governor, although we're not sure she's the only person just in this building who can say that.  A lot of people ran.  Eleven thousand votes she got in the recall the year before last.

Joining me now live, in person and in color, in our own version of “Meet the Press,” Mary Carey.  Welcome.

MARY CAREY, PORN STAR AND POLITICIAN:  Thanks for having me.  I'm (INAUDIBLE) to meet you.

OLBERMANN:  Well, you're easily impressed.  Why leave a perfectly respectable line of work like you're in now to go into something sleazy like politics?

CAREY:  You know, (INAUDIBLE) question.  I actually think that—you know, the main reason I'm doing is it is because porn is something, as you get older, you can't—you can't do porn when you're 60, but you can do politics.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

CAREY:  (INAUDIBLE)  You can do politics until you're really, really old.  So I thought, Time to start looking for a career now, a new career change while I'm young, that I can do when I'm older.

OLBERMANN:  Why not run, though, for governor again?  I mean, if Arnold's ratings are so low, and he already admitted he went to orgies, I mean, what's the difference?

CAREY:  (INAUDIBLE) he is dropping in the polls, and I know I can definitely help him climb the polls since that's something I'm good at, but...

OLBERMANN:  Oh, hey!  That's a dancing reference.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  It's a dancing reference.  OK, thank you.

CAREY:  A little dancing reference.

OLBERMANN:  Thank you, FCC.  OK.

CAREY:  No, but I think that lieutenant governor would be good because I think part of the problem with Arnold is he's doing too many personal appearances.  So he can stay in Sacramento, and he could work, and I'll do all the personal appearances.

OLBERMANN:  Have you ever heard of a woman named Ilona Staller, who went by the name of Cicciolina?

CAREY:  Yes, she won in parliament in Italy.

OLBERMANN:  That's right.  And serve and was—and, like, is getting back into—into politics in Hungary, where she's, like, a dual citizen.

CAREY:  Her and I need to get together.

OLBERMANN:  Well, I mean, in other places—in other countries, this has been taken dead seriously.

CAREY:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  Are you dead serious about this?

CAREY:  I'm very serious.  I think I'm a very serious politician.  And I think I've got some radical solutions to solve the radical problems of California.

OLBERMANN:  And that would be the right term because California, everybody uses the word “radical.”  But what are these solutions, Mary, he said, setting her up with the straight line?

CAREY:  OK.  Well, one of my biggest solutions right now is to put Webcams in wherever I'm living, in the governor's mansion...

CAREY:  ... and let people watch me and Arnold, since we'd be together...

OLBERMANN:  Right.

CAREY:  ... you know, interact.  And then we can make money because all over the world, people would pay money to see this, and that would bring in money to the state to fix the deficit, which is one of our biggest problems.

OLBERMANN:  You mean, just writing legislation would be what they'd get to watch you do.

CAREY:  Well, I think that I'd like (INAUDIBLE) probably be watching basketball games, too, a lot.

OLBERMANN:  That's the other (INAUDIBLE)

CAREY:  George Bush does golf.  I watch basketball.

OLBERMANN:  Are there similarities, have you found, in your limited exposure here to politics, between your current line of work and politics?

CAREY:  You know, this is a good joke.

(LAUGHTER)

CAREY:  Yes, because we both screw people.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  You know, I knew that was coming, too, and I asked the question anyway.  So that's my bad.  So that'll be the final (INAUDIBLE)

So what if it—if it does not work out and you do not get elected lieutenant governor?  Obviously, there's an election every three-and-a-half hours, to get chance after chance after chance.  But what do you do if—what do you do if, as approaching the—you know, the middle age of adult film acting...

CAREY:  Yes, I'm 25.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, exactly.  Forget it.  What—what do you do, other than politics, if you don't get into office?

CAREY:  Maybe I could do a show like you.  I could do a—you know, I'll talk politics and keep gaining exposure to different politicians and interviewing them, so that when I eventually run for president in 11 years, you know, I'll have more experience.

OLBERMANN:  Running for president?

CAREY:  And you could—you could be with me.

OLBERMANN:  Running for president?

CAREY:  Yes.  I'll be president, you be vice president.

OLBERMANN:  Oh, that...

CAREY:  You could give me advice.

OLBERMANN:  That would be...

CAREY:  Or you could be my first man.  One or the other.

OLBERMANN:  Wow.  All right.  That would be in the Oval Office, too.  But do you think you—don't you think you've gotten enough exposure?  All right, now, you don't have to answer that one!

(LAUGHTER)

CAREY:  You can never have too much exposure.

OLBERMANN:  On basic cable, yes, you can.  Last question here is when you were on the program last week...

CAREY:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  ... it was your birthday.  And I know that you have been celebrating your birthday.  Did the Republican Party get you anything for your birthday (INAUDIBLE)

CAREY:  No.  But you know, Alan Colmes—Alan Colmes got me a little teddy bear.  It was—I went to—you know, I did his radio show (INAUDIBLE) and he got me a teddy bear.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

CAREY:  So that was really nice of him.

OLBERMANN:  He's on another network.

CAREY:  But he's not a Republican.  Yes.  You know what?  Sorry, Alan, but this is my favorite.

OLBERMANN:  Well, thank you!  I knew we were going to say something that I was going to regret, but turned out to be about Alan Colmes.

CAREY:  No, but I love you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Thanks.

CAREY:  We're going to watch the game afterwards, right?

OLBERMANN:  Absolutely. (INAUDIBLE)

CAREY:  Go Pistons!

OLBERMANN:  Mary Carey, thank you for your time tonight.

CAREY:  Thank you for having me.

OLBERMANN:  Best of luck in your career.  And of course, by that I mean lieutenant governor.

And from California, the state that votes so often, it apparently uses the political equivalent of Viagra, that's COUNTDOWN.  I'm Keith Olbermann.  Keep your knees loose.  Good night, and good luck.  We're done now.

(LAUGHTER)

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

END   

Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.'s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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