updated 8/19/2005 10:27:36 AM ET 2005-08-19T14:27:36

Guest: Jack Levin, Bill Sturgeon, Pat Buchanan, Matt Harding

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  The dream, to paraphrase Clarence Darrow, is that the state must always strive to be better and more merciful than the mad acts of the people it judges, that the death penalty makes murderer and executioner the same.

Listening today to Dennis Rader, the BTK killer, his presentencing statement deteriorating from a brief glimmer of remorse into the kind of self-absorbed list of thank-yous one might expect from a long-winded honoree at a testimonial dinner.  Listening to that, it was hard to believe that that dream could ever become real.

Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

One hundred and seventy-five years in jail, among other convicts.  Who heard him today?  How long would he live?

The Gaza evacuation.  Police say barricaded settlers threw acid at them.

The Cindy Sheehan vigil.  Just as Pat Buchanan writes she‘s beginning to have impact, she has suddenly had to leave Camp Casey at Crawford, Texas.

And the wonders of world travel, from the Taj Mahal to Times Square, reduced to this guy dancing in front of them.

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

Good evening.

It was like midnight, when the lightning flashes, and in the distance there is a brief moment where you think you can make out the landscape, and then all is dark again.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, Dennis Rader, the BTK killer, gets 10 life sentences, and would not be eligible for parole until sometime after his 100th birthday, in the year 2045.

Before sentencing, he heard his attorney describe him as not a monster, but someone who had a monster inside him.  And Rader suddenly pulled off his glasses and daubed at his eyes with a tissue.

And when he addressed the court, for a moment Rader was not the self-possessed, matter-of-fact middle manager reciting the equivalent of a business trip.  His confidence evaporated, his words jumbled.  He seemed to be on the verge of realizing that his victims and their survivors were actually human beings, not just props in his own hellish world.

And then, like that lightning at midnight, it all went away, and it all again became about Dennis Rader, and the simple truth he twice acknowledged, that, quote, “There was no way I was ever going to get out of this.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNIS RADER:  Today is my final judgment.  For me, the last couple days in court presented by the state, the Power Point presentation, was very powerful.  A couple of things I might point out toward the last, but overall, most of that was true.

And I think the (INAUDIBLE) County ought to be proud to (INAUDIBLE) have a good state, that the evidence was there earlier, the DNA, the floppy.  There was no way that I was going to get out of this.

I don‘t know if this is really appropriate or not.  Kathleen Bright, and I hope I don‘t tread on the media, because I did use this, some of this from the media, because I didn‘t know this much from people.  She spent time at her grandparents‘ farm.  Well, I did too, as a kid.  I have many, many, many fond memories there.  And I took that from her.

She went to Valley Center.  I was at Valley Center High School for two years.  I walked the halls probably at the same line, we shared maybe the same teachers, although they would have been older.  She worked at Coleman, just like I did.

Dolores Davis, she loved animals, and I worked with animal control.  I realized that in the early years, probably did have some cruelty to animals.  But I don‘t think, if anybody asked Park City (INAUDIBLE), they would say I was always pretty good to animals.  I have a great fondness for animals.  I have pets.

Nancy Fox, she was a wonderful person.  And I did track her just like a predator.  She was a wonderful young lady.

Marine Hedge, she was a neighbor, one I walked by, waved to.  A gardener.  I love to garden flowers.And Joseph Otero was in the Air Force.  I was in the Air Force.  He was a husband.  I was a husband.Julie Otero looks a lot like my wife, (INAUDIBLE).  Raised kids.  And she also worked at Coleman.Josephine.  She would have been a lot like my daughter at that age, played with her Barbie dolls.  She liked to write poetry.  I like to write poetry.  She liked to draw.  I like to draw.Joseph Otero II.  He was just like me at one time, a boy and a dog.  And again, that comes from (INAUDIBLE).  And many, many (INAUDIBLE), many, many memories of the dog.  Excuse me.

Shirley, she was choir, mother, probably a very beloved mother.  And I took her life.

Probably (INAUDIBLE) other people, I didn‘t know Vicki (INAUDIBLE) very much, although I walked by her place and listened to the piano.  I appreciate music.  That‘s one thing I always wanted to learn, was piano.

I knew after I talked to the police, the evidence, there wasn‘t any way I was really going to get out of this, unless we found some way of—some evidence that was just totally out (INAUDIBLE).  And then the trial would have been a long-drawn-out (INAUDIBLE) plea.  There was no way that I was ever going to get out of this.

(INAUDIBLE) law enforcement, they done a very good job, but I do want to clarify a few things.  (INAUDIBLE) it was—in the Power Point, it was perceived that I was strangling Shirley, and I stopped to comfort the kids.  That‘s just the opposite.  She or I both put the kids back in the bathroom, comforted them there before we went in and what happened.

Defense?  This has been a unique, probably a different-type case that they‘ve ever had.  We‘ve had our ups and downs, but mostly they‘ve been good.  It‘s just like a new learning curve, (INAUDIBLE), (INAUDIBLE), she was a social worker that did a lot of research for me earlier.  I appreciate her help in that.

And Virginia (INAUDIBLE) was the special investigator.  And then Jamie Turner, she‘s the one that cut my hair and brought my clothes up.  So I have a—you know, they were basically my family.  So I appreciate that.

And finally, a final apologize to the victims‘ families.  There‘s no way that I can ever repay them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Detail got two of the names of his victims incorrect.

We have violated the chronology here somewhat.  The statements of the victims‘ families came before Rader‘s statement.  We will bring you some of those victims‘ families statements in a moment.

But first, to analyze Rader‘s final 27-minute claim on the spotlight, this running commentary in which his thanks to people who cut his hair in jail seemed far more sincere than his halting attempts to express remorse to the loved ones of the people he slowly and deliberately murdered.

To help us try to understand what we saw this afternoon in Wichita, I‘m joined by Jack Levin, a professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University.

Thanks for your time tonight, sir.

JACK LEVIN, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY AND CRIMINOLOGY, NORTHEASTERN

UNIVERSITY:  Sure.

OLBERMANN:  Was that the gist of it, that at the start of his statement, he was getting way too close for his own comfort towards realizing that those had been people?  So he had to then launch this long speech about himself and his complaints, and all the people he needed to thank, like this was the Kiwanis Club or something?

LEVIN:  Well, he—it was kind of the Academy Awards, and he was getting the award.

You know, first of all, I think he was trying to portray himself as a human being.  It‘s no coincidence that he did this just before he was sentenced.  I think he was hoping against hope that it might persuade the judge, or maybe even persuade those who were going to incarcerate him, so that he‘s treated better.

But the point is that he ingratiated himself with many people whom he felt he might need and could use later on.  I think it‘s a big mistake to think that he was remorseful.  I think he was regretful about his—the fact that he was going to spend the rest of his life behind bars.  And he—what he was trying to do instead, by expressing emotion, is, he was trying to give us exactly what we want.  He wants to manipulate us.  After all, he manipulated his victims, he manipulated the press, he manipulated the police in this cat-and-mouse game.  And now he‘s going to manipulate the court.

OLBERMANN:  Did we gain any new insight into him from that speech today?  The thing that kept striking me, as I was listening to it as it occurred, and then again as we ran those clips there, this listing of things that he had in common, these coincidences that he had in common with his victims, that seemed to him to be somehow palliative, as if, well, you know, he was a father, I was a father.  Boy, it could have been me rather than the other way around.

That disconnect really seemed to separate him from reality in a way that I don‘t think most people who even followed this story had gauged before.

LEVIN:  Well, I‘m really not sure that that was an indicator of unreality.  Certainly, he didn‘t try the insanity defense, because he‘s not insane in any legal or psychiatric sense of the term.

I think, really, that he was trying to persuade us, according to his script, that he was not a monster, that he didn‘t deserve to be treated as a monster, that he shared characteristics with his victims.  And that mean that he humanized himself.

You know, otherwise, I think that many people will come away thinking that he is an evil man.  Well, keep in mind that he‘s not going to die.  He‘s going to stay in—behind bars.  He wants to be treated well.  And I think this was his way of humanizing himself.

OLBERMANN:  Having seen this performance, and that‘s probably the right word for it—

LEVIN:  That‘s right.

OLBERMANN:  --compared to the one in June, when he went so methodically and with such control of the situation, going through the list of the crimes, do you buy his argument, his assertion, that he stopped killing people in 1992?  Could there be an on-off switch in somebody like that?  Or could he have continued to kill people after the reinstitution of the death penalty in Kansas in 1994, and this whole thing might have just been a way for him to avoid execution?

LEVIN:  That‘s certainly a possibility.  I mean, serial killers are very manipulative, and they‘ll try and try to save their lives when the crunch time comes.

But there is also another interesting thing here.  We assume that serial killers can‘t stop.  We assume they‘re obsessed, that they have a compulsion.  And there are many cases of serial killers who apparently do stop.

OLBERMANN:  Jack Levin, professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University, great thanks for your insight on this awful subject today.

LEVIN:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Part of being a serial killer is to consume, to eradicate, to end the lives of others, and somehow enlarge your own life in the process, at least in your own mind, to, at your sentencing, speak at such length and in such detail that you can crowd out even the echoes of the dead.  Dennis Rader obviously tried for that today, with the opportunity for the families of his victims to speak.  Obviously, he failed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARMEN MONTOYA, DAUGHTER OF JOSEPH AND JULIE OTERO:  Although we have never met, you have seen my face before.  It is the same face you murdered over 30 years ago, the face of my mother, Julie Otero.

KEVIN BRIGHT, BROTHER OF KATHRYN BRIGHT:  I just also would like the court to give him the maximum sentence that he could get.

BEVERLY PLAPP, SISTER OF NANCY FOX:  As far as I‘m concerned, Dennis Rader does not deserve to live.  I want him to suffer as much as he made his victims suffer.  But then, when I think about that, in his sick perverted way, he‘d probably find that as some kind of pleasure or reward.  This man needs to be thrown in a deep, dark hole and left to rot.  He should never, ever see the light of day.

ROD HOOK, SON-IN-LAW OF MARINE HEDGE:  I would only ask the court provide the maximum sentence allowed by law to this monster that created this.

STEPHANIE CLYNE, DAUGHTER OF VICKIE WEDERELE:  My mother begged for her life, yet he showed no remorse.  He saw that she had a family and a little boy right there in the house with her.  Yet he continued with his sick plan.  I ask you today, your honor, to show no remorse for him.

JEFFREY DAVIS, SON OF DOLORES DAVIS:  In the final analysis, you have to live with the cold reality that while all of us here will overcome your depravity, you have now lost everything, and you will forever remain nothing.  May that torment you for the rest of your tortured existence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  So the sentences is in, 10 life sentences, 175 years in jail, no chance of parole until after the next 10 presidential elections.

But however long Dennis Rader serves, where will he be?  In a secure lockdown, or among a general prison population?  And what would that population do to him?  Some informed analysis presently.

Also tonight, the Gaza evictions turning violent.  Soldiers have to resort to wearing riot gear in order to remove settlers.

And the unforeseeable impacting the Cindy Sheehan vigil in Texas.  Her mother has had a stroke.  She has left to go home to California.

Details ahead.  You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  What next for Dennis Rader?  This is not as simple as the prosecutors of President Lincoln‘s assassins saying, We want to hear their names no more.  What happens to him in prison?

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, after sentence was handed down today, the local district attorney, Nora Foulston, said she hoped no special provisions would be made for Rader‘s incarceration.  Quoting her here, “The general population would be a really good place for him to be.”  Implicit in that, of course, is the unstated and grotesque and chilling but nonetheless true observation that when the death penalty is unavailable in cases like this, other prisoners sometimes have taken matters into their own hands.

Ask Jeffrey Dahmer.

We want to ask someone with some expertise in this area.  Bill Sturgeon, a former director of training and staff development at the Kansas State Penitentiary.  Mr. Sturgeon has also created an award-winning video on how institutions should handle high-profile criminals.

Thank you for your time tonight, sir.

BILL STURGEON, KANSAS STATE PENITENTIARY:  You‘re welcome, Chris.

OLBERMANN:  Very bluntly, in saying the general population would be a really good place for Dennis Rader, is not the DA saying, Let some other convicted murder have a shot at him in jail?

STURGEON:  Well, I think what‘s happened now is, the DA has fulfilled her commitment to the justice system, and now the—Mr. Rader‘s been turned over to the Department of Corrections.  And I think they‘ll probably assign the proper place to him.  General population, at this point in time, with his notoriety and his crimes, would not be the place for him to be.

OLBERMANN:  The presumption of sexual predators like Rader being marked by other convicts is obvious.  I don‘t know that we necessarily go into much detail about that.  But are serial killers, with or without the sexual component, equally despised by the less-high-profile convicts?

STURGEON:  Well, I think initially, Keith, he‘s going to be kind of an anomaly when he comes in there.  Serial—you don‘t get that many serial killer.  He may be manipulative and all of this.  But the people in prisons are very used to dealing with manipulative people.  So Mr. Rader‘s going to find out that many of his games don‘t work.

He‘s going to be at some risk, and it‘s going to be very difficult on the staff, simply because he has murdered old people, young people, children.  So, yes, he will have some serious issues, I think, to deal with as he enters prison life.  I think his grandstanding and games will probably be over within the next 24 hours.

OLBERMANN:  Notwithstanding what the DA said, if your assumption is correct, and the state of Kansas cannot, in good conscience, send him into the general population, what is his prison experience likely to be?  How is it likely to differ from that in the general population?

STURGEON:  He will be probably committed to what‘s known.  First he‘ll go through an orientation, where they‘ll reassess him for life and his ability to adjust to prison.  And then he‘ll be probably placed in what we call protective custody.  And just a little caveat about that.  While he‘s in protective custody doesn‘t mean he is completely safe, because many of the other people in protective custody are very violent and come from various backgrounds.  So there are a lot of predators.

So he will probably spend a good deal of the rest of his life locked in a cell by himself 23 hours a day.  And when he does have to move through the penitentiary, special conditions will be set up for him.  He‘ll be under special escort.

OLBERMANN:  And were not similar protections, similar lockdowns, provided for people like Dahmer?  And it didn‘t make a difference in the long run, relative to the other criminals in the—in jail, who decided they wanted a shot at him?

STURGEON:  I think in the situation with Jeffrey Dahmer, he was killed by a person who thought he was Jesus Christ, if I remember correctly.  I think in the state of Kansas, they‘ll take much deeper precautions with him.

And again, you know, he‘s not going to be out doing work and having jobs as Jeffrey Dahmer did.  I don‘t think this gentleman, Mr. Rader, will be out and about sweeping floors within the next two or three or five years.

OLBERMANN:  The former director training and staff development of the Kansas State Penitentiary, Bill Sturgeon, great thanks for your time tonight.

STURGEON:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Rita Cosby is in Wichita.  She‘ll devote tonight‘s edition of “LIVE AND DIRECT” to the BTK killer‘s hearing, the upshot of which, again, is 10 life sentences, no possibility of parole for 40 years, by which time, if he‘s still alive, Dennis Rader would be more than 100 years old, and the year would be 2045.

Also tonight, our much-needed comic relief.  You have a license for that monkey?  Why monkey fights will soon grace the streets of New Delhi, India.

And what is this?  We‘ll meet the world traveler who is the darling of the Internet, if not of the Arthur Murray Dance Studios.  He‘ll join us on COUNTDOWN, because “Soul Train” wouldn‘t have him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  We‘re back, and we pause our COUNTDOWN for a special legal news edition of Oddball, beginning with the strange case in which big business, heavy metal, and poultry products have collided.

Let‘s play Oddball.

To our friends at the Web site SmokingGun.com, who remain our friends, even though they stole our puppet idea for their own show, have uncovered court filings in Florida from fast-food giant Burger King, against the heavy metal band Slipknot.  This is Slipknot.  Apparently Slipknot threatened to sue the King over the ads for the restaurant chain‘s new chicken fries.

It said, members of the band did, that the chicken in the band in the ad looks too much like Slipknot.  Guys, you want to admit to that?  In a letter to Burger King, the band‘s lawyers accusing the corporation of creating, quote, “a lookalike, soundalike band in order to influence the Slipknot generation to purchase chicken fries.”  The Slipknot generation.

Dude, I‘m so sick of the man trying to hijack our culture to pedal deep-fried poultry products.  Mmm, chicken fries, ah-la-la-la.

All right, that was only the legal story.

Here‘s the one about monkeys.  They‘ve taken over the area outside the federal government buildings in New Delhi in India, rhesus monkeys, about 1,500 of them.  It‘s so bad that government bureaucrats have to carry sticks to fend the animals off as they go to and from work.  The bureaucrats, not the monkeys, going to work.

It‘s forbidden to hurt or kill monkeys, because they are sacred in the Hindu faith.  So officials have come up with an absolutely atrocious idea to deal with the problem.  They have brought in more monkeys, languors, the natural enemy of the rhesus monkey.

Monkey war in the streets of New Delhi.  This should be good video when it comes in.  With switchblades.

Meanwhile, back home, Preston, Minnesota, where the corn is as high as an elephant‘s eye.  A bumper crop this year, stalks growing as tall as 16 feet on some farms, producing giant-size cobs as well.  Farmers say the giant corn is the result of hot weather in the area.  It has nothing to do at all with any nearby nuclear power plants.  And those stories that the corn can get up and walk?  Those are complete nonsense.

Also tonight, Cindy Sheehan is leaving Crawford, Texas, not because she‘s giving up her war protest.  Will the impact of that protest continue without her?

And I quit.  Our movement to get to you stop smoking.  Tonight, support from another viewer.  Sometimes cutting down is not a poor excuse for stopping.

Those stories ahead.

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

Number three, the folks at the post office in Heilbronn in Germany.  The package was ticking, so they isolated it and contacted the woman who sent it, who told them, Of course it‘s ticking.  It‘s an electronic diaper that responds to wetness by beeping.  Only this one was broken, and it was ticking instead of beeping, so I was mailing it back.

Number two, the Hua Bay (ph) oil field company in Renkyu (ph) in China.  It recently had laid off a lot of employees.  But last week, somebody felt touched by conscience, and announced that any laid-off employee who had been divorced could have his or her job back.  Presto, on Monday alone, 20 of the laid-off employees divorced their husbands and wives so they could get back to work.

And number one, Mark Shapiro, leaving his post as executive vice president of ESPN to join Washington Redskins‘ owner Dan Snyder in a new entertainment company that will try to start by buying the Six Flags theme parks.  Good luck, Mark.  Just remember, it was L.L. Cool J. who sang, “We all wind up going back to Bristol, Bristol, Bristol.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  “Events,” wrote the former British political adviser and novelist Michael Dobbs, “the politician‘s nightmare.  Plan and scheme for months and years, and events can change it all in the blink of an eye.”

Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, just as one conservative commentator and columnist was writing that her protest in Crawford, Texas, was succeeding, Cindy Sheehan, late this afternoon, had to leave, suddenly summoned for another family emergency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CINDY SHEEHAN:  We just had a terrible phone call, my sister and I.  My mom just had a stroke.  So we‘ll be going back to Los Angeles.  I‘m going to assess the situation.  If I can, I‘ll be back.  If I can‘t, I won‘t be back.  But I will be back as soon as possible.  Until then, we have other Gold Star moms here, Gold Star family members, Military Families Speak Out.  And they‘ll continue the mission while we‘re gone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  A spokeswoman said Ms. Sheehan hopes to be back in Texas between 24 and 48 hours from now.  She does not know how serious her mother‘s illness is.

The unanswered question, can the impact of Cindy Sheehan event continue without Cindy Sheehan?  Republicans, who a year from now will be coming down the stretch in the congressional elections, were already debating whether or not she would be a factor, in no small part because of what they saw last night, Americans in all corners of the country gathering by candlelight, a massive show of support for the Gold Star mothers‘ cause, Orange County, California, South Carolina, Las Vegas, and more, not exactly hotbeds of political activism, many of them, the suburbs and exurbs, deemed crucial to President Bush‘s reelection, 1,600 candlelight vigils estimated by the Associated Press, while the vigil in Crawford itself, held on what may turn out to have been Sheehan‘s final night at Camp Casey.

The reality of Cindy Sheehan was still being wished into the cornfield by some of those closest to president on the political spectrum.  But not all of them.  One noted conservative thinker wrote yesterday, “Cindy Sheehan may be the catalyst of the crisis for the Bush presidency.  Sheehan is using the media, and the media are using her, for the same end, to bedevil George W. Bush.  They are succeeding.  She has helped turn the focus of national debate back to the war at a moment of special vulnerability for the president.”

The author of those words joins us now, former Republican presidential candidate and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.

Good evening, Pat.

PAT BUCHANAN ®, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  First, this latest development, the unforeseen event, as that British writer, Mr. Dobbs, wrote.  Could it by itself deflate the protest and the issue completely?

BUCHANAN:  I think it could deflate the protest down in Crawford, Texas, undoubtedly.  The president‘s going to be there for three more weeks.

But Keith, my feeling is that Cindy Crawford has ignited something at a particular moment, a movement, an antiwar movement.  And I think it‘s going to coalesce, and I think it‘s going to grow.  I think when the president comes back in September, some political figure in—probably in the Democratic Party is going to start giving voice to this idea, it‘s time to bring the troops home, the way McGovern did, or Eugene McCarthy did in 1968.

OLBERMANN:  Conversely, relative to this latest development, if she were to return to Texas in relatively short order, 48 hours, 24 hours, even next week or the week after, would she get a restart on this whole publicity, and, after a family crisis of unquestioned proportions, like a mother‘s stroke, does it become even more difficult to criticize her or question her motives?  Does it (INAUDIBLE) conceivably work to her political advantage in a strange and kind of disturbing way?

BUCHANAN:  Undoubtedly.  Look, the stroke of her mother is going to make her a sympathetic figure again, a far more sympathetic figure.  There‘s no question about it, that conservative talk radio and even—I‘ve been watching the Web, Drudge, they pointed out some pretty over-the-top things that Cindy Sheehan has been saying.  She‘s made a mistake in having so many political operatives show up, and Democratic strategists, and being associated with people who are just known as anti-Bush people.

And some of the things she‘s been saying are far left.  I think the souffle has risen and fallen as far as Camp Casey goes.  But as I say, I think she ignited the thing at a moment when Bush‘s poll, I mean, the support for him as commander in chief, the bottom is falling out of that.

Secondarily, you‘ve got General Casey saying, We‘re going to have substantial withdrawals.  You get these horrible casualties.  It‘s coming back in the news, and we‘re coming back in the fall to Washington.  I think all of these things, taken together, and you‘re going to see a politicized antiwar movement looking for national leadership.

OLBERMANN:  As to what you just said there, which echoes what you wrote yesterday, the guy who does the finger-pointing every time they retell the story of the emperor‘s new clothes always gets yelled at, that that story never changes.  I‘m presuming you may have gotten a little backlash on that piece that you wrote.

BUCHANAN:  No, I have not gotten the backlash at all so far.  Maybe I‘ve just—I haven‘t heard it.  But the very fact that—let me say this, Cindy Sheehan, that she‘s had an effect, I‘m listening to a lot of national talk radio as I‘m driving back and forth to studios, and they are, of course, picking up the anti-Cindy Sheehan, and they‘re very, very tough on her.  And so, in a way, they‘ve helped politicize her.

But I think, in a way, they‘ve also elevated her, as a face and a voice for this movement.  But again, I think, Keith, to get really moving, it needs political leadership.  And my guess is that‘s not going to come out of the Democratic Party establishment, but some nonestablishment Democrat is going to rise up and say, It‘s time to come home.

OLBERMANN:  Of course, we heard Russ Feingold say (INAUDIBLE), Set a date at the end of ‘06.  He said that yesterday.  But perhaps that wasn‘t the kind of bluntness that you‘re talking about.

But on the subject of bluntness, last week I had asked her, when she was on this program, if her cause, if her protest was not better served, practically speaking, if the president continued to refuse to meet with her.  And Ms. Sheehan bluntly answered yes, that if they met, it would probably defuse most or perhaps the entire issue, at least as far as her involvement is concerned.

Could the president still get out of this jam that you perceive simply by seeing her at this point?

BUCHANAN:  I think at this point, the moment may have passed for the president.  I think, clearly, when she was pretty much of a lonely figure, the mother of a slain soldier, and she‘s out there and asking to see him, that would have been the time to do it, a gracious meeting.

But now, if he does it, it looks like a presidential capitulation, and, in a way, it would be.  And if she comes out and says, I didn‘t get answers I wanted, he has elevated her.  She will be worldwide news the moment she goes in to see that president and comes out, and she will have a worldwide forum.

I don‘t think the White House wants to give her that.

OLBERMANN:  I‘ll tell you what, you listen to the talk radio, I watch, I get to watch the international newscasts and the two primary ones in Britain, the BBC and the ITN, both had stories on Cindy Sheehan in today‘s newscast, so...

BUCHANAN:  You know, I, I...

OLBERMANN:  ... it‘s already being reached, I think.

BUCHANAN:  ... I come on the cable channels looking over here today, I was, and was cutting them all up, lining them on the five sets.  They had a live feed, daily, moment, moment, live, moment-by-moment live feed from Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey.

OLBERMANN:  Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst and syndicated columnist, as always, Pat, great thanks for your time, sir.

BUCHANAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The leaving not any easier today in the Gaza Strip, meantime.  In fact, day two of the actual forced exodus of Israeli settlers there was, if anything, harder and more unsettling than day one, because the 20 percent or so remaining are the extremist holdouts, gearing up for what they see as their last stand.  Their Alamos, the synagogues.

The fighting today fierce, riot police pelted with paint, oil, turpentine, even, they say, acid.  Twenty-one policemen were hurt, two resisters as well.

In the end, no surprises, the troops won, today‘s violence balanced by images of kindness, some soldiers delaying an evacuation for a child‘s birthday party, others consoling, as much as they need consoling themselves, many of them residents of the very Gaza area that they are evacuating.  They were raised there, and they‘re now forced to evacuate family and friends.

Ahead, our effort here to help you stop smoking.  Tonight, how one viewer took a host of ideas and created his own program to kick the habit.

And, you‘re fired.  Pierce Brosnan could do “The Apprentice” if he wanted, because he‘s not playing spy games anymore.

Those stories ahead.

First, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of this day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O‘BRIEN,” NBC)

CONAN O‘BRIEN, HOST:  You‘ve probably seen these.  I think you have.  They‘re all over the --  Show this, please.  They‘re everywhere.  These ads right here, the ads show attractive, full-figured women posing in their underwear.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you now, the Dove Men.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, how many sides does a triangle have?

Three sides.

How many days are in a week?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sheba‘s got this paw thing down pat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Seven days a week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You must (INAUDIBLE), (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The 100-pound, 13-foot-long Burmese python found her way out of Tom Estenson‘s (ph) Glumstead (ph) Township home and probably slithered up a tree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s my pet.  And like I said before, it‘s like losing a girlfriend, basically.  It is like losing a part of you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  We turn now to our nightly segment on quitting smoking, not just a harangue to remind you that you should, but also, our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, various suggestions, orthodox and offbeat, on how you can.

I quit.

And tonight‘s testimonials from viewer Barry Graubart (ph), who did not mess around.  After 18 years as a pack-a-day smoker, he did he what we‘re doing, asking people who have quit how to quit, 10 of them.

This, he wrote, is what he learned.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN (voice-over):  “I set a goal of quitting over an eight-week period.  First, I used the SmokeEnders approach of disassociating smoking from certain practices.  No smoking in the car, no smoking within 15 minutes of a meal or waking up, no smoking while speaking on the phone, no smoking while drinking coffee.

Next, I began to switch brands.  Every two weeks, I switched to a lighter brand of cigarette.  I set a limit of the number of cigarettes per day.  Initially I could smoke a full pack, then dropped to 15, then 10, then five, spacing them out over morning, afternoon, and evening.

“I carried a toothbrush and toothpaste wherever I went.  Anytime I ate or drank anything, even a cup of coffee—especially a cup of coffee—I immediately brushed my teeth.  I chose an oral substitute—in my case, it was Tic-Tac mints—and popped one whenever I felt I needed something.

“By the end of the eight weeks, my nicotine intake was practically zero, five light cigarettes per day.  More importantly, I hadn‘t had a good cigarette in weeks.  I had no longer enjoyed smoking them, and had no physical addiction.

“A side benefit, my teeth were already looking whiter from brushing them eight times a day.”

He says he‘s been clean for 10 years.  And his case underscores that planning ahead and picking the brains of successful quitters may be better for you than trying it cold turkey.

The ultimate point, of course, is to try anything and everything until something works.

Got any tips, tales, tricks you might have learned for leaving the Tobacco Nation and staying out?  Read more viewer accounts on our Web site, and send your own to countdown@msnbc.com.

From quitting to getting fired, that‘s the segue tonight into our news of celebrity and entertainment.

And no longer can the actor Pierce Brosnan say, onscreen or off, that he‘s “Bond, James Bond.”  The star of the last four 007 flicks says he found out he‘d lost the role by phone.  One phone call, that‘s all it took, he tells “Entertainment Weekly.”  He insists producers had begun negotiations on a fifth Bond flick.  He says in a way he‘s glad it‘s over, “It never felt real to me.  I never felt I had complete ownership over Bond, because you‘d have these stupid one-liners, which I loathed, and I always felt phony.”

A quick reminder to Mr. Brosnan about life post-Bond, about the successor to the original Bond, Sean Connery.  No, not Roger Moore.  The man between Connery and Moore.  George Lazenby, star of the 1969 bomb, “On Her Majesty‘s Secret Service.”  After he got bounced, he appeared in “Kentucky Fried Movie,” and seven, count ‘em, seven, of the Emmanuelle films.

Or you could wind up playing Jude Law‘s father in something.  And that might mean Sienna Miller could be your onscreen daughter-in-law.  “The New York Post” claiming the first exclusive photos of the two since last month‘s bombshell that Law had been sleeping with his children‘s nanny.  “The Post” says the snapshots were taken in the London suburb of Amstead East and describes Miller as beaming.  Also present but not pictured, three of Law‘s kids by his ex-wife, “The Post” claiming he calls Miller on a daily basis, brings flowers, makes promises, but so far, she has not been seen with the engagement ring.

And breaking tabs news.  Earlier this week, Eminem‘s European tour was canceled because of exhaustion and other, quote, “medical issues.” Tonight we have learned that “medical issues” is code for drug dependency,  Slim Shady‘s publicist confirming to our NBC affiliate in Detroit that the rapper is in rehab tonight, being treated for dependency on sleep medication.  That‘s an unfortunate combination, isn‘t it, exhaustion and dependency on sleep medication?

No word on a time frame yet for how long the singer, real name Marshall Mathers, will be in said treatment.

Call it the modern equivalent of a singing telegram, a dancing postcard of your vacation.  The guy you see there, the pioneer, if you will, of this whole kind of new travelogue.  He‘ll join us next.

That‘s ahead, but first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s list of today‘s three nominees for the coveted title of Worst Person in the World.

Kicking off the nominees, Loew‘s Cineplex Theaters in Wallkill, New York.  During a matinee of the new flick “March of the Penguins,” Anthony Patti (ph) was enjoying himself, laughing loudly, too loudly for the manager, who told his family that Anthony would have to leave.  Anthony is 7.  He‘s in a wheelchair.  He has cerebral palsy and autism.  The manager did say his family could stay if he left.

Nominated at the silver level, Snoop Dog.  The rapper and fo‘ shizzle guy was nice enough to volunteer to coach kids‘ football in southern California‘s Orange County Conference, and then promptly started his own conference, the Snoop Youth Football League.  The Orange County Conference accuses him of raiding it for players and coaches.

But the winner, Amber Frey, Scott Peterson‘s former mistress.  At the Learning Annex in San Francisco yesterday, she spoke to a group of women, saying she hoped to teach them how they could bounce back from adversity just as she did.  She charged each woman $19.99 for her lecture.  “I feel there‘s something I have to share, and I feel almost like I need to,” she said.  “They‘re questioning how I got through this to where I am today.”  Part of the answer to that is, of course, by charging $19.99 each.

Amber Frey, today‘s Worst Person in the World.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  There is no record of Cro-Magnon men of 32,000 years ago going on trips to visit other tribes, then coming back and drawing on their own cave walls their recollections of what the other places looked like.  The idea of bringing back visual proof of your vacation may have had to await the earliest Brownie cameras of the 19th century.  But it was probably within us all those eons.

Our number-one story on the COUNTDOWN, and so too was our collective instinct to put ourselves in the picture, pretending to support the Leaning Tower of Pisa with our hands, or jumping up and down in front of the pyramids, and then showing off the images to our neighbors.

Tonight, we bring you evidence of this deep-rooted instinct‘s latest technological manifestation, courtesy of the Internet and a guy called Matt Harding on his site, WheretheHellIsMatt.com.

And for a moment not dancing, Matt Harding joins us now from Seattle, Washington.

Good evening, Matt.

MATT HARDING, WHERETHEHELLISMATT.COM:  Good evening.

OLBERMANN:  Well, what the hell is that all about?

HARDING:  Well, I just went on a round-the-world trip, and did a jig everywhere I went.

OLBERMANN:  So in doing this, and then putting it together in the way that you did, and putting it on the Web, do you worry that you‘ve reduced all of the majestic scenery of this Island Earth into just a background for you dancing?

HARDING:  No, I don‘t really worry about that at all.  I mean, if it makes it look like it‘s really easy to just zip around the world in three minutes, then that‘s great.  I‘m great with that, because I think more people should get out there and travel as well.

OLBERMANN:  What has been the reaction to it?  Do you have any idea of how widespread this has gotten on the Internet, how often you are known in places that you were not known a week or a month ago?

HARDING:  I have no concept of that, and I don‘t really want to.

OLBERMANN:  I‘d like to show you another Internet dancer, the Numa-Numa guy.

HARDING:  OK.

OLBERMANN:  Now, he likes to work in his close-up shots, so you don‘t get a full view of his dancing skills.  But do you think, as a dancer, you‘re better than he is?  Are you worse?  Were you inspired at all by him?

HARDING:  I hadn‘t seen that until after the trip.  But no, I would never dare to aspire to create anything as hypnotic and mesmerizing as the Numa-Numa guy.  I‘m a—I‘m a—I‘m one of many pimples on the butt cheeks of the Numa-Numa guy, and I bow down to him.

OLBERMANN:  And something that almost rhymes with that.  We know you want to get to Machu Pichu in Peru someday.  But until you can actually make that trip, we‘re going to offer you the next-best thing through the miracle of green-screen projection, as you see, as the people at home can see.  Now, would you like to extend the dance video right here and right now?

HARDING:  Excellent, yes.

OLBERMANN:  Please proceed.  Here‘s the music.

HARDING:  All right.

OLBERMANN:  You just—you can‘t get enough of that, can you?  Is that the only dance step you know, by the way?

HARDING:  It‘s about all I got, really, yes, that‘s it.

OLBERMANN:  Do you do anything else besides dance and travel around the world?

HARDING:  Yes, I make video games.  That‘s what I do for a living, yes.

OLBERMANN:  And of all the places other than Machu Pichu, where would you like to extend this video and go and dance at?

HARDING:  MSNBC.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, well, there you go.  (INAUDIBLE), hit it.  There‘s the background.

Excellent.  You know, it—that might be good.  We got a spare hour in prime time?  Yes, we might have this spare hour in prime time.

To Matt Harding, who has been around the world, and now to Machu Pichu and Secaucus, New Jersey, through the miracle of the green screen, great thanks.  And good luck with whatever the Internet fame brings you.

HARDING:  Thanks for having me, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN.  I‘m Keith Olbermann.  Keep your knees loose.  Not quite that loose.  Good night, and good luck.

Coverage of the sentencing hearing of the BTK killer, Dennis Rader, continues now with Rita Cosby, “LIVE AND DIRECT” from Wichita.

Good evening, Rita.

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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