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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Nov. 18th

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Howard Fineman, Bill Jenkins, Craig Crawford

ALISON STEWART, GUEST HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

The war in Iraq turns into a war on the Hill.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This resolution they‘re going to introduce today calls for immediate withdrawal.  That‘s not what anybody said.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  “Cowards cut and run.  Marines never do.”

Danny and the rest of America, and the world want the assurance...



STEWART:  The fight about the war turns into name-calling.  Is this what we elected these guys to do?

Back on the battlefield, the insurgent blasts rock downtown Baghdad.  Twin suicide bombers target a hotel where foreign journalists stay, including our NBC colleagues.

He‘s not done.  Today‘s court filings from Patrick Fitzgerald show for the first time a new grand jury will continue proceedings in the CIA leak investigation.  So who‘s got some ‘splaining to do?

And what would Jesus do?  How about chipping in for gas money?  We‘ll take you to the California church where parishioners get a discount at the pump for praying at their parish.

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

Now, if you happened to be on Capitol Hill in the House of Representatives at 5:11 Eastern Time this evening, you would be forgiven for thinking that you had somehow stumbled into the British House of Commons or “The Jerry Springer Show.”  Boos, catcalls, shouting, and gavel banging, all accompanying a Republican resolution about withdrawing from Iraq immediately.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, the war over the war turned really ugly today.  At issue, Democratic Congressman John Murtha‘s proposal yesterday for a resolution for a resolution for the U.S. to start redeploying from Iraq at the earliest practical date.  Those are his words.

The Republican arm of the House first criticized his suggestion, then decided to introduce a resolution of its own calling for troops to be brought back from Iraq right now.

And suddenly, a deadly serious issue, the role of the United States in Iraq, became political theater.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You talk about your respect for Mr. Murtha.  You talk about his known knowledge for the military.  And yet, it‘s you, sir, that come down here and say that the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee proposes that the House of Representatives put their statement and their resolve that we should deploy immediately from Iraq and not protect our troops, apparently, because it doesn‘t say that, and not provide for their safety, not provide for redeployment somewhere over the horizon, so we‘ll be sure that terrorism doesn‘t spread there, and we‘ll be ready for any emergency.

If instead you want the troops to get the message that that‘s not what we want, then why didn‘t you work with your delegation over there to make sure Mr. Murtha‘s resolution could be proposed and debated and explained fully, and that then this country could have the benefit of a full discussion of where the policy is going?

Because this administration apparently has no clue and has no idea.  They politicized the leadup that going into the area, and now you are politicizing how it is we‘re going to get this country back in order.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Gentleman‘s time has expired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of rebuttal, I yield 30 seconds to the...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Gentlemen, the chair would also advise members to address their remarks to the chair, and not to other members.

Gentleman from Georgia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Speaker, at this time I yield 30 seconds to the chairman (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I thank the gentleman for yielding.  And let me make this point, that the resolution is written in precisely the way that I think describes the essence of the publicity that has emanated from Washington, D.C.  It‘s a message.  This is a message that has been sent to our troops.  And if you look at the e-mails...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... if you look at the e-mails (INAUDIBLE)...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  House will be in order!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... your message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The House will be in order.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Speaker, gentlemen from California has the floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think the question, I think the question is well described, and that I think it manifests what a lot of people now think, especially uniformed people in the Iraq theater, and it‘s precisely the question before the House, that the gentlemen will have an absolute right to vote on.  And I would hope if this isn‘t Mr. Murtha‘s position...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Gentleman‘s time has expired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... he‘ll have a chance to vote no on it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Gentleman‘s time has expired.

Gentleman from Massachusetts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Speaker, let me yield 10 seconds to the gentleman from Massachusetts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sir, I don‘t understand it to ever be the happening in this institution for a member on one side to take it upon himself to interpret the meaning of a resolution of a member of the other side without giving that member the courtesy and the respect of allowing them to put forward what the meaning and intention of their own resolution is.  I think...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Gentleman‘s time has expired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... it‘s playing games.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Gentleman‘s time has expired.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Gentleman‘s time...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... has expired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let me just reiterate (INAUDIBLE)...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Who yields time?  The gentleman from Georgia yield time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You have 15 seconds (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Gentleman, gentleman‘s (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let me just reiterate to my friend, he said this shouldn‘t be about Mr. Murtha, and it‘s not about Mr. Murtha.  It‘s about, it‘s about the message that has been sent around the world as evidenced by e-mails coming back in from our troops now, who think that the Congress is pulling the rug out (INAUDIBLE).



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The gentleman‘s time has expired.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Gentleman will suspend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The (INAUDIBLE) mischaracterization...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The gentleman from Massachusetts...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... of what we said...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... will suspend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... that is sending that message, and our e-mails...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The gentleman will suspend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... (INAUDIBLE) people know about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is a counterfeit.  This is an insult to this institution.  And to not allow us to have a real debate, to not allow to us bring up different proposals, I think, is—undercuts the process.

We yield 10 seconds—for 15 seconds to the gentleman from...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘d like to ask the gentleman from California why he introduced a counterfeit Murtha resolution, rather than allowing us to vote on the real Murtha motion, if you wanted us to vote at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let me answer my friend.  This is a letter from an Army captain in Iraq.  He says in this e-mail, I am a U.S. Army captain currently serving in Iraq, and I...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I want an answer from you, not somebody else.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Gentleman from California has the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE), I am shocked and appalled by Rep.  Murtha‘s call for an immediate withdrawal.  Please, please, please convince your colleagues to let us finish this critical job.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He is correct that deployments and service and the casualties are hard on all of us.  He is wrong about what it demoralizing us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What is demoralizing is a Congress which no longer stands behind our mission.  That‘s why we‘re offering this resolution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Will the gentleman yield?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s obviously the message that‘s going out to thousands of servicemen around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Will the gentleman yield?

That‘s because you‘re sending that message.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jack Murtha isn‘t sending that message.  You are, and the White House is.


STEWART:  And that‘s not even the debate on the resolution, just the debate on whether to debate the resolution.

About 10 minutes later, during this procedural vote, things got really bad.


REP. JEAN SCHMIDT ®, OHIO:  A few minutes ago, I received a call from Colonel Danny Bopp, Ohio Representative from the 88th District in the House of Representatives.  He asked me to send Congress a message, stay the course.  He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do.


SCHMIDT:  Danny and the rest of America, and the world...


SCHMIDT:  ... want the assurance...


SCHMIDT:  ... from this body that we will...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  House will—the House will...

SCHMIDT:  ... see this through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The House will be in order!  The House will be in order!  The House will be in order!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The House will be in order!  The House will be in order!  The House will be in order!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The gentlelady will suspend, and the clerk will report her words.


STEWART:  The gentle lady said, “Cowards cut and run.”  Then the mikes were cut for 10 minutes while the GOP leadership persuaded Congressman Schmidt, who is not only the newest member of Congress, but also beat out an Iraq war veteran to take the seat, to request her remarks be struck from the record.


SCHMIDT:  Mr. Speaker, my remarks were not directed at any member of the House.  And I did not intend to suggest that they apply to any member, most especially the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania.  I therefore ask for unanimous consent that my words be withdrawn.


STEWART:  The House started debating that resolution just before 8:00 Eastern tonight.

Let‘s bring in NBC‘s Mike Viquiera, who watched this all unfold on the Hill this evening.

And Mike, you‘ve been covering Capitol Hill a long time.  Have you ever seen the House get that heated, or even that personal before?

MIKE VIQUIERA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Alison, you referred to some legislatures overseas.  And the best we can say is, so far, no congressmen or women or have their—have had their wigs pulled off in this debate so far.

STEWART:  It‘s early.

VIQUIERA:  But it obviously is a very serious issue.  Representative Murtha has obviously struck a nerve with his call unexpectedly yesterday morning to begin an immediate withdrawal as soon as it is practicable.  Now, that phrase, “as soon as it practicable,” has been the crux of a lot of the argument that we‘ve just seen at the top of the show.

Republicans thought that they were going to put an amendment on the floor that would essentially call the bluff of Democrats, who have been happy to see the attention that Murtha has, the credibility that Murtha has, the attention to what he‘s brought to what they regard as the problems and the prosecution of the war.

Republicans have responded quickly.  And what they did is, they put a resolution on the floor this afternoon that that says that we will start to withdraw troops immediately.  “It is the sense of the House that we would withdraw or redeploy troops immediately,” leaving out the phrase, “as soon as is practicable.”

And that is the crux of a lot of the argument that you see there.  Democrats are incensed.  They think that Republicans are pulling a fast one.  Tempers are really flaring here.  It‘s been a very difficult past three weeks.  Ever since the indictment of Scooter Libby some three weeks ago, the Iraq war has been front and center.  Passions are running high.  They‘ve culminated today.

This is the eve of a two-week congressional recess.  People want to get out of town.  But they are absolutely incensed about what‘s going on on the floor today.

There was some talk that Republicans would pull this resolution.  But the feeling is, is that as Duncan Hunter, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee said there, that it‘s important to send a message to the troops in Iraq that Congress is still behind them before they go off for this two-week recess, Alison.

STEWART:  Is this as much about the war in Iraq as it is about politics?

VIQUIERA:  Well, absolutely.  I think that the House is doing what it‘s designed to do.  It is designed to channel the passions and concerns of the day and carry them out as sort of the national steam valve.  And it‘s performing that function here tonight.  And there‘s an awful lot of steam.

I think it‘s obvious that Mr. Murtha has struck a nerve with the results of the election some two weeks ago that were at best, a loss for Republicans.  Republicans‘ low standing in the polls, the president‘s low standing in terms of the public‘s approval of his prosecution of the war, have people here concerned.

Obviously, many of these Republicans are true believers.  They want the war to be prosecuted to its utmost until it is safe, Iraq is secure, and it is safe for Americans to return home victorious in their regard.

But what Murtha has done is sort of taken the logic of the Republicans who have been criticizing Democrats and turned it on its head.  Republicans have been saying, of course, that Harry Reid and others are hurting the morale of troops by criticizing their effort from here in Washington, especially while the president, incidentally, is on foreign soil.

Well, Murtha is saying that that‘s not what‘s hurting the morale of the troops.  What‘s hurting the morale of the troops is the prosecution of the war, the continued tours, the two and three tours in a row, the lack of family time, the concern over family healthcare, the thinning out of the military, the targeting of the American military.

And he says that the American military‘s presence is now impeding the Iraqis‘ ability to be self-reliant.  That‘s what‘s really keyed this up.  He‘s really onto something here.  And what you see, I think, is the passion that‘s out there in the public being channeled through the House of Representatives tonight.

STEWART:  NBC‘s Mike Viquiera reporting for us on this crazy day on the Hill.  Thanks so much.

VIQUIERA:  Certainly.

STEWART:  And if the reaction to Murtha‘s comments weren‘t enough, late word tonight of a looming ethics probe against the war veteran.  The politics of that with Howard Fineman.

And another day of destruction in Iraq, terrorists trying to take out a hotel housing Western journalists, and two mosques filled with praying Iraqis.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


STEWART:  First, it was suggestions of surrender.  Then, as we heard on the Hill tonight, an outright accusation of cowardice.

Now, in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, Congressman John Murtha is facing the threat of an ethical investigation, perhaps, maybe, because of his redeployment proposal?

The publication “Roll Call” reporting tonight that GOP members are debating whether to push for a probe into allegations that Murtha improperly helped his brother‘s lobbying firm, and allegations that he steered money into companies owned by relatives of his fellow Democrats, Republican Congressman Joe Wilson from South Carolina telling “Roll Call,” quote, “If there is a potential pattern where Congressman Murtha has helped other Democrats secure appropriations that also (INAUDIBLE) benefited relatives of those members, I believe this will be something that merits further review by the Ethics Committee.”

Another unnamed Republican source adding that such an investigation would be a direct result of Congressman Murtha‘s comments this week, because, quote, “It strikes at the heart of his credibility on military issues.  He‘s put himself on the front lines,” end quote.

Let‘s bring in “Newsweek” magazine‘s chief political correspondent, Howard Fineman.

Howard, thanks for your time tonight.


You‘re welcome.

STEWART:  Your gut on this possible investigation?  A real issue, or real retaliation?

FINEMAN:  I think it‘s real retaliation.  He‘s a longtime influential member of the House.  He deals in a lot of big issues and a lot of big money up there on the Armed Services Committee.

But there‘s no coincidence that someone like Joe Wilson from South Carolina, who is very much a part of the Republican machine that Karl Rove built in South Carolina and elsewhere, was speaking for the White House when he was saying what he was saying to “Roll Call.”

You can‘t overstate how important Congressman Murtha‘s attack on the war is politically.  Murtha‘s important not only for who he is but for where he‘s from.

He‘s from deer-hunter country in Pennsylvania.  Conservative Democrat, Vietnam war hero, Marine.  Very much respected, a guy who goes out to Walter Reed Hospital every week to visit the wounded and the people trying to rehabilitate themselves from their war injuries, who‘s been to Iraq several times, who‘s close to all the top generals and brass in the Pentagon, who often speaks for the brass in the Pentagon, many of whom are privately dubious about the war and very skeptical of Donald Rumsfeld‘s theories about how to fight the war.

Murtha is a dagger aimed right at the heart of George W. Bush‘s war policy.  And Karl Rove and company, if necessary, in their view, will do anything they need to do to try to take Murtha down.

STEWART:  So describing, considering the person that you just described so fully, why would you pick a fight with this man?

FINEMAN:  Because this man is coming after you.  And this White House looks at everything like a political campaign.  Any attack that‘s unanswered is accepted.  Attack the attacker.  Play the kind of hardball that your opponent plays.

And make no mistake, Murtha is playing hardball here.  This is a guy who‘s been part of the team in the Pentagon, the Defense Department, the defense establishment, for years.  Decorated Vietnam veteran who made himself an expert in defense issues.

He knows full well, when he stands there in front of those American flags, as he did in his press conference yesterday, that he‘s standing directly in front of this administration and taking them on.

And I think he had to expect whatever attacks were going to come, whether they‘re on the ethics of his brother‘s business dealings, whether they‘re on his associations with Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House.

You know, and I also think that perhaps Murtha sensed that some of these attacks were in the offing, and maybe he decided, You know what?  If these people are going to war with me, I‘m going to go to war with them.  And so he‘s going to war with them on his terms, which is the high ground of policy on the war, as opposed to his private business dealings.

STEWART:  And Howard, before I let you go, I have to get you to comment on what‘s been going on on Capitol Hill today.  Did it have any practical value?  Or will it lead to some sort of a proper debate?  Or was this just political stagecraft?

FINEMAN:  Well, here‘s the important thing.  This was a self-empowerment moment for the Democrats, Alison.  This is where they looked to Murtha, this war hero guy, and said, OK, we‘re with him.  We‘re coming after the Republicans.

I must say one other thing.  The C-Span cameras didn‘t show the reaction to Congresswoman Schmidt‘s statements about Murtha, calling him a coward, essentially.

STEWART:  Ooh, tell me about that.

FINEMAN:  The people—you couldn‘t see it on the cameras.  I was in the House gallery, watching it.  The Democrats, when they heard that, literally leaped up out of their chairs and rushed down the aisles to the well of the House to complain and protest.

I‘ve been up on the Hill for a long time.  I‘ve never seen anything like that.  I‘ve never seen so much genuine anger.

In an odd way, Jack Murtha, this conservative guy from central Pennsylvania, deer-hunter country, has kind of united the Democratic Party in the House.  That‘s the important thing here, because the Democrats have been very cautious in many ways about criticizing the war.

Now you‘re going to see mainstream Democrats of all kinds go front and center against George W. Bush.  That‘s the political significance of what‘s happening on the Hill tonight.

STEWART:  To be continued.  “Newsweek”‘s Howard Fineman, thanks a lot for being with us.

FINEMAN:  You‘re welcome.

STEWART:  As the clash over the war escalates in Washington, more deadly attacks in Iraq.  Coming at the end of a week that was notable for the war‘s uglier byproducts, U.S. troops found about 170 Iraqi detainees, many tortured by fellow Iraqis.  And the Pentagon confirmed the controversial use of white phosphorous munitions in a battle last year against insurgents in Falluja.

The insurgency itself is as violent and persistent as ever.  Two blasts this morning in Baghdad destroying a wall protecting the Hamra Hotel, home to many news organizations, including NBC News.

U.S. Army investigators believe the bombers hoped that the second vehicle would reach the compound.  Instead, it got stuck in a hole made by the first blast.  Eight Iraqis were killed.

And 90 miles northeast of Baghdad, in the border town of Kanakin (ph), suicide bombers detonated their explosive vests in two Shiite mosques.  At least 60 were killed and more than 90 were injured.

The CIA leak investigation.  After two years with one grand jury, now Patrick Fitzgerald is preparing to go before another grand jury.

And new details about Bob Woodward‘s source come forward.

But up next, wine, anyone?  Well, maybe not after somebody has bathed in it.

Oddball‘s next.


STEWART:  I‘m Alison Stewart, your Friday night‘s referee, no holding, while Keith Olbermann is away.

And for a moment now, we pause our COUNTDOWN of the day‘s real news and political action for a segment of weird news and just cool video.

Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin in Hawaii.  And I guess this kind of counts as real news.  They tested the United States ballistic missile defense system today.  Of course, we like it, because the video is, well, it‘s videotastic.

It was successful test.  Our missile hit a simulated incoming warhead in mid and blowed it up real good.  It was the sixth successful test.  So we can be pretty confident at this point that if the enemy calls ahead to let us know a missile‘s coming, this bad boy can take it out.

Why not celebrate with a bottle of the 2005 Beaujolais Nouveau?  It‘s just been released around the world, and this weekend, the wine is flowing like the bad throwaway wine that it is.  Last night, we showed you the celebrations in Japan, where bathing in the wine is apparently all the rage.

Tonight, we go to Grenoble, France, where rage is all the rage.  Believe it or not, this melee had nothing to do with the unrest that has plagued that country in the past weeks.  This was a wine riot, young people drunk on this year‘s vintage as the Beaujolais celebration got a little out of hand, embattled police throwing—guess what? -- wine bottles at them.  Thirty-seven people were injured, the rest just really hung over.  Those tannins will do it.

The CIA leak investigation, Patrick Fitzgerald‘s probe is not over. 

He‘s going back before a new grand jury.  Are new charges coming soon?

And Robert Blake, a criminal jury found him not guilty of killing his wife.  But today, a jury in civil court had a whole different conclusion.

Those stories ahead.

But first, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of the day.

Number three,  The online dating service is being sued by some of its members, accusing the company of dating fraud.  The company allegedly sent romantic e-mails to members whose accounts were about to expire in order to get them to re-up, and in some cases, sent employees on sham dates with subscribers.  You know, that explains a lot.

Number two, Heritage Foods USA, the company that had started a new marketing campaign to sell their free-range turkey on its Web site with little turkey personal ads.  Quote, “She‘s a small-breasted beauty from a good family in the American Midwest who enjoys spending time outdoors, only eats natural foods, and is drug-free.  And her video can be found on the Internet.”  But how do I know it‘s not a sham turkey?

And number one, Michelle Murray of Painesville, Ohio.  Police there charged her with abandoning domestic animals after she released dozens of helpless kittens into the woods near her home.  In court Thursday, a judge sentenced Murray to spend one night alone in the woods, to get a bottle of water and that‘s it, no food, no shelter, no light, just Michelle in the dark with the angry ghosts of 12 dead kittens.


STEWART:  OK, admit it.  Ever since Mark Felt was revealed as Bob Woodward‘s first secret source, you felt kind of empty inside.  You know, actually knowing that a 90 something year old guy with a walker as the mysterious Deep Throat is just not nearly as much fun as the guessing game in an incredibly geeky kind of way.

Well, in our third story on The Countdown, it has been a great week for geeks.  Bob Woodward, the one Robert Redford played, is now back in the secret source business, this time as part of the CIA leak case.  The investigation, once again, cooking with gas. 

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald making clear today he‘s not quite done yet.  The special prosecutor saying in court papers he plans to hold proceedings before a new grand jury.

As for who spilled the beans to Redford—I mean, Woodward, a whole new batch of Bush administration officials are now claiming, not me.  An unnamed source telling the Associate Press it wasn‘t Vice President Dick Cheney.  Another anonymous tipster telling “The New York Times,” it wasn‘t National Security advisor Stephen Hadley either.  Hadley himself today not saying much of anything. 


STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR:  I have seen press reports that, and only press reports, that Bob Woodward has talked about, I guess, three sources from the administration that he had.

I‘ve also seen press reports from White House officials saying that I am not one of his sources.  As you know, there‘s an ongoing investigation of this matter.  We have all at the White House been instructed to cooperate with that investigation, as we are requested to do so, and to not to talk about it.  And that‘s all I can say.


STEWART:  OK.  We also learned today at “The Washington Post” agreement not to reveal the identity of Bob Woodward‘s secret source applies only to Mr. Woodward.  The newspaper saying that if  another one of its reporters independently uncovers who Deep Throat Deux is, The Post will definitely print that.

And any amateur detectives take note.  A compromise reached today between the prosecutor‘s office and various media outlets means that reporters may soon be given access to some of the  documents in the case, which means it‘ll be on some blog somewhere very soon.

We won‘t to have wait that long to find out more from Bob Woodward.  He granted an interview to “TIME” magazine just out tonight.  So did Mr. Woodward develop loose lips in the past 24 hours?  Yes, you wish.

But he does describe the chain of events that led him to come clean.  Step one.  In the final weeks before Lewis Scooter Libby was indicted, Woodward says he accepted an assignment to look into the status of the investigation.  He investigates and learns, “something more” that prompts him to finally tell his boss about the senior administration official who told him, Woodward, about Valerie Plame in mid June of 2003.

Step two, on indictment day, Woodward reads the official indictment and realizes that Libby was not the first official to speak to the press about Plame.  His secret source was.

Step three, Woodward calls the source.  The source calls Patrick Fitzgerald.  And Woodward then has to testify.  See?  Easy.  1, 2, 3.

Or maybe not so easy.  So let‘s call in Craig Crawford to hash it all out.  He‘s a columnist for “Congressional Quarterly,” as well as the author of the book, “Attack the Messenger.”

Hi, Craig.

CRAIG CRAWFORD, CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY:  Hi, Alison.  You know, if Redford tried to make a movie of this, they‘d have to rewrite the screenplay 100 times to try and make sense of it. 

STEWART:  No doubt.  Not so easy as 1, 2, 3.

Let‘s begin with the Woodward interview.  Why would Bob Woodward take an assignment to look into the status of the investigation?

CRAWFORD:  Well, look, Ally, you know, Bob Woodward‘s a journalist.  He‘s a reporter and he‘s a great reporter.  And that‘s what he wants to do.

And you know, part of the problem here is what the courts have done to journalists who have sources and who try to keep their  promises to those sources.  They go through all kinds of convolutions to stay out of jail now, because reporters have no power against the courts to stay out of jail when a prosecutor wants him to break a promise to a source.  So that‘s the back drop here.

I mean, I think Woodward was trying to do the only thing reporters can do anymore to stay out of jail, is to just try to keep the fact that they even had a source, that they ever even had a conversation with a source.  Keep it absolutely secret.  And I think that‘s part of what led to a lot of this weirdness that we‘re seeing. 

STEWART:  And with all due respect to Mr. Woodward, and I do mean that, not in that kind of faux Washington kind of way, with real respect to Mr. Woodward, was he doing a little bit of professional CYA?  Not wanting to cut off access to his White House and potential sources?

CRAWFORD:  Sure.  I mean, one of the down side of the kind  of reporting that he does, that he‘s uncovered many great stories over the years, and I think over time, the public has been well served by  his journalism.

But it is true that journalists who depend on that kind of access, on back room relationships with people in power get into these situations.  They get into informal conversations that end up in court.  And now he‘s faced with having to give a deposition to a prosecutor. 

And so that is what happens.  It‘s dangerous because I sometimes wonder why journalists who want to get into these power relationships with powerful people, it‘s almost like they want to be players themselves.  And in that case, I‘d say, you know, get into politics. 

STEWART:  Well, let‘s talk about politics, since you brought it up.  How does his revelation change the politics of the entire investigation?

CRAWFORD:  It widens the net.  I think we‘re already seeing one consequence, potentially the reason, I would suspect, that Fitzgerald has indicated to the court that he may impanel another grand jury, and—which would be implicitly tell us that he‘s looking at more indictments.

You know, I think one reason for that may be the deposition that he took of Woodward on Monday.  I mean, there is a source now.  We‘re all trying to figure out who it is, but there‘s someone who also told a journalist about this undercover agent‘s identity.

And presumably, that person testified earlier on.  Woodward said the “TIME” magazine piece today wasn‘t sure about that, but if that person testified early on, they may have lied to the grand jury.  This source of Woodward‘s may be exposed to a perjury charge like Libby has been indicted for. 

STEWART:  Well, we‘ve had these five indictments.  We‘ve had the one grand jury.  Potentially, a new grand jury.  How do you think the new grand jury issue is going to affect the administration and the way it moves forward?

CRAWFORD:  Well, it keeps the story alive.  I think there was some hope in the White House that the indictment being handed down, the underlying crime was not alleged.  So there‘s no allegation of a White House conspiracy here, only that an aide in the White  House had lied to a grand jury.

So they had thought they might have compartmentalized the damage there, especially since he left immediately.  But now we see that with this Woodward revelation, and now that Fitzgerald‘s going forward, the story‘s not going away.  It is going to be Chinese torture—water torture for the White House for some time to come. 

STEWART:  And with that in mind, I think it‘s unlikely that the president would entirely clean house.  But might he tidy up a room or two?

CRAWFORD:  At this point, I would say so.  I think that‘s a lesson second term presidents usually learn the hard way.  If they don‘t do it early on, is to get a new round of folks in the White House. 

For one thing, they get burned out.  I mean, those are tough jobs.  They keep long hours and they can get sloppy.  And I think that‘s a lot of what happened in this case in the White House.  So I do think that at some point, the president may find he needs a new team in there. 

Craig Crawford with “Congressional Quarterly.”  Have a great weekend. 

CRAWFORD:  You, too.  Good to see you. 

STEWART:  Thanks a lot.

It‘s easy to buy someone a little bling or a box of chocolates, but what about giving a kidney to a stranger as a way to say I love you to your someone special?  It is truly the gift that keeps on giving. 

And later, saving souls and a little something extra at the pump.  Will that be unleaded premium or praise the Lord?  But first, here are “Countdown‘s” top three sound bites of the day. 


MAUREEN DOWD, NEW YORK TIMES:  If you get 11 guys, you‘ve got a football team.  If you get 11 women, you‘ve got a riot explaining why women did not vote for Ferraro. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, Maureen Dowd, you‘re unbelievable.

DOWD:  Thank you.

OLBERBANN:  You are fabulous.  I look up to you.  You are the champion of all good people twice a week for “The New York Times”.  And here you go again with the bestseller, “Are Men Necessary”?  A provocative title and a provocative cover, I must say.  I‘m looking at this cover.  Maybe we‘ll all look at it together.  Very provocative.  Is that you?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The power of Potter, once again, drew thousands for the midnight premier of the latest Harry Potter movie, “The Goblet of Fire”. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It‘s like from your own little world.  It‘s like, it‘s funner to be in Harry Potter world. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m pretty pumped.  I‘ve been waiting for this for a long time.  And it‘s pretty exciting.



DAVID LETTERMAN, “THE LETTERMAN SHOW”:  In “People” magazine, they have this sexiest man alive thing.  And the people look forward to it and hunger and thirst and can‘t get enough of it.  And here.  Take a look. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  “People” magazine is proud to proclaim Matthew McConaughey as this year‘s sexiest man alive.  Congratulations, Matthew!  And we‘re confident you‘ll age as gracefully as previous honorees.  Mel Gibson, Nick Nolte, and Allan Greenspan.

Way to go, Matthew.  And don‘t forget to stay sexy.



STEWART:  It‘s the kind of solution that will make you wonder why didn‘t someone think of that sooner?  The problem, finding compatible organ donors for patients who desperately need them.  If someone you love needed a kidney, but you were not a match, would that be the end of it?  The answer used to be yes.

But what if you gave your kidney to a stranger and that stranger‘s partner gave a kidney to your loved one?  Our number two story on the “Countdown” tonight.  Organ swap.

“Countdown‘s” Monica Novotny joins us with more.  Tell us more, Monica. 

MONICA NOVOTNY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hey there, Alison.  Well, more than 60,000 people are waiting for kidney transplants in the U.S., waiting for several months or even several years.  But now, one program is allowing patients to find a partner and then a donor. 


ROBERT MONTGOMERY, DR., JOHNS HOPKINS MEDICAL CENTER:  The problem is that the two of you have an incompatibility.  So while you want to donate a kidney to Shelby, your kidney would likely be rejected immediately. 

MONICA NOVOTNY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It is the bad news that too often follows the good.  A patient in need of a transplant has finally found a donor, but that donor is not a match.

For Shelby Fletcher, who needs a new kidney, the offer came from his cousin, Jody.  Because after two previous transplants failed, Shelby‘s waiting time for a third is now five to seven years, time he might not have. 

SHELBY FLETCHER, KIDNEY PATIENT:  Basically, that leaves you with a life of dialysis.  And as young as I am, that‘s a long time. 

And I go four hours every day.  And I‘ll do that until I get that other transplant or until they come up with some new miracle cure. 

NOVOTNY:  But now, there may finally an solution, a new program at Johns Hopkins University that matches pairs of people.  One gives, one receives. 

MONTGOMERY:  If I have a donor who‘s incompatible with me, and you have a donor who‘s incompatible with you, but your donor works for me and my donor works for you, we just exchange donors. 

NOVOTNY:  Dr. Robert Montgomery pioneered the program after years of working with patients in need. 

MONTGOMERY:  Their life expectancy is greatly reduced.  And they desperately want a transplant. 

NOVOTNY:  Two matching pairs are now possible for Jody and Shelby. 

MONTGOMERY:  That exchange involves three transplants.  So it‘s a triple exchange. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  As soon as I found out that there was a need, I said, yes.  There‘s not a difference to me if it goes - if my kidney goes to my cousin or if my kidney goes to a stranger and my cousin benefits from my kidney going to the stranger. 

NOVOTNY:  It worked for Sean Moyer, who‘s wife Alissa donated her kidney on his behalf last year. 

SEAN MOYER, KIDNEY RECIPIENT:  It‘s hard to put in words what kind of gift it is, because it has allowed me to live my life. 

ALISSA MOYER, WIFE:  And I want to pick up the phone and I hear him on the other end.  I‘m not waiting to hear that he‘s in the hospital or he‘s sick or he‘s not feeling well.  Or - it‘s just so nice to hear him, and hear him be healthy, and just have life be normal. 

NOVOTNY:  So far, about 60 of these living donor pairs have exchange kidneys.  A simple idea that might someday save thousands. 

FLETCHER:  I‘d like to be able to work enough to at least support me and a family.  And you know, I‘d like to have a family.  How‘s that?


NOVOTNY:  Now the hope is to roll this program out nationally.  Scientists have already demonstrated by crunching the numbers that a national matching program for kidney pair donation would ensure the best possible kidney for the greatest number of recipients who have incompatible donors.  I should also mention that they‘re going to  try to do this with livers - with liver transplants as well. 

STEWART:  It‘s a touchy subject for some people.  They don‘t like the idea of organ donation.

NOVOTNY:  Right.

STEWART:  What if someone backs out at the last minute?  One partner?

NOVOTNY:  You know, they actually do all the operations simultaneously for that very reason.

But usually, they know that people at this point are ready to go through with it.  But you might get cold feet.  So they don‘t want to put anybody in jeopardy, obviously.  So they do them all at the same time. 

STEWART:  Monica Novotny, thanks for the story. 

NOVOTNY:  Thanks, Alison.

STEWART:  A sharp turn now into our nightly round-up of celebrity and entertainment news.  Keeping tabs, $30 million.  That‘s the amount a  jury decided actor Robert Blake is liable for in the death of his wife.  A jury came to that sum after eight days of deliberation in the civil trial.  Bakley, Bonnie Lee Bakley, his former wife‘s four children were awarded the sum after a vote of 10 to 2 in favor.  A unanimous vote would not be required in a civil case.

Blake was acquitted in a criminal trial this past March.  Took the stand in his defense, denying all involvement in his wife‘s death.  Bonnie lee Bakley was shot and killed in May 2001 outside a restaurant where the two had been having dinner.  At the time, Blake claims he‘d gone back inside to get his gun. 

And other actors in court today news.  Russell Crowe was on the East coast in Manhattan criminal court, where he pleaded guilty to third degree assault.  The judge sentencing Crowe to a “conditional discharge”, meaning the Academy Award winner has to somehow remain out of cuffs for an entire year.

Crowe allegedly angered by his inability to place an international call to his wife from a New York City hotel chucked a phone at the concierge.  An undisclosed settlement was reached  between the two back in August.  The actor apologized for his actions shortly after the incident, calling it “the most shameful situation that I‘ve ever gotten myself in in my life”.  And considering his band, Thirty (INAUDIBLE), that‘s saying something.

My grandma Edna used to say the Lord works in mysterious ways.  She really did.  But does mysterious include working at Mobil?  How one pastor is getting his California congregation all pumped up.  That‘s next on “Countdown.” 


STEWART:  I don‘t know if you use the name of the Lord while pulling up to the pump this summer, as in Jesus Christ that cost a lot.  Now of course, a lot of you would never take the Lord‘s name in vain, but there‘s one church that said God heard and will be helping out.

Our number one story on the “Countdown” tonight, the light of the world also light on your wallet.  Recognizing the strain of the recent record gas prices they were putting on the community, New  Life Christian Church in the northern California town of Auburn decided to do a bit more than simply pray about it.  The newly-formed congregation held a discount day at a local gas station.  It paid for more than 200 people to purchase up to 10 gallons of gas at a rate of $1.99 a gallon.

Church members washed windows, handed out bottles of water, and then casually invited those lining up to come to the church‘s first service held just this past Sunday.

Feel good story of the year, right?  Wrong.  Members of a rival congregation, Church of the Divide, protested the inaugural Sunday service, holding signs which included the slogan “Jesus cares more about your sin and burning in hell than gas prices.”

Well, you know where they stand.  So how about the church that threw the gas-a-thon in the first place?

Joining me now is the pastor of New Life Christian Church, Bill Jenkins.  Pastor Jenkins, thanks for being with us. 

BILL JENKINS, PASTOR, NEW LIFE CHRISTIAN CHURCH:  It‘s a pleasure.  How are you doing?

STEWART:  I am doing well, sir.  As you know, the criticism here is that you use marketing and merchandising to get people to come to your church.  How do you respond to that?

JENKINS:  I wear that hat.  We‘ve got to go over this idea that marketing is a dirty word.  If marketing and being gimmicky allows me to share God‘s truth with people, if marketing and being gimmicky allows me to share God‘s love with people, if marketing and being gimmicky allows me to share Christ with people, I‘ll take that.  I‘ll take that.

And if the reality was for us to market and it was an opportunity to build a bridge into the community and let people walk across the bridge to Christ.  And he‘s not waiting on the other side.  He‘s running to meet them head on.

So that if people want to say that, oh, I‘ll wear that hat!

STEWART:  Now why did your church need do this marketing?

JENKINS:  It wasn‘t a need.  We believed that the community won‘t care what we know until they know how much we care.  And it  was a practical way to give our prayers some feet to show the community that we do care.

There‘s a church in the community.  Because all the churches in Auburn do care for the people.  It was a way of us for showing that  God loved them and was interested in things that they wrestled with on a day-to-day basis. 

STEWART:  And it was also a way to get new members.  So how many actually showed up as a result of your discount?

JENKINS:  We had 223 people turn up for our grand opening this past Sunday.  Whether or not they become members, that‘s --  that will be their decision forever along the road.  We just gave them an opportunity to come and listen and make up their own mind about us. 

STEWART:  Now we talked about the pastor and some of those other folks at that other church weren‘t taking too kindly to what you were doing.  Have you talked to the pastor at Church of the Divide?

JENKINS:  I haven‘t.  Only on the Sunday the gentleman who was there, I‘m not sure if he was their pastor or not, but it was slightly disingenuous to report it as a face-off, to be honest.

We were taking them lemonade and coffee.  We actually invited them into the service.  And they came into the service for the second service.  And I spoke briefly and said farewell afterwards.

He wasn‘t positive or negative about the sermon.  But if God‘s called them to do ministry that way, that‘s what they need to do, but it‘s not my cup of tea. 

STEWART:  As I was looking at the Web site about your church and the organization, they described something called a church multiplication movement.  Can you explain what that is?

JENKINS:  Yes.  The idea is to follow the lead in the New Testament, to plant churches, that plant churches, that plant churches.  Our vision is “20/20” vision.  To plant 20 churches in America and 20 churches overseas by the year 2020.  That‘s big enough that we can‘t do it.  God will have to do that. 

STEWART:  All right.  So in the final question, though, really, truly in your heart, does pumping gas really have anything to do with the Christian word?

JENKINS:  I think so.  I mean, Jesus fed people when they were hungry.  He turned water into wine just so that the host of the party wouldn‘t be embarrassed.

For my perspective, a church that doesn‘t impact the community is about as useful as a ham sandwich at a bar mitzvah. 

STEWART:  Love the analogy.  And where are you from, sir?

JENKINS:  I‘m from London, England originally.

STEWART:  I knew I pegged the accent.  Pastor Bill Jenkins from the New Life Christian Church, thanks for your time.

JENKINS:  Well, thank you.

STEWART:  I‘m Alison Stewart.  That is it for “Countdown”.  Rita Cosby live and direct is up next.  Hi, Rita.


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