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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for March 23

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Dana Milbank, Mark Fainaru-Wada, Lance Williams, Henry Paul, Ken Tucker

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, “COUNTDOWN”:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

Iraq.  Everybody knows it’s the media making it look so bad, everybody except the State Department.  The administration’s own assessment, covering just the terrorist attacks and IEDs, doesn’t give the full picture, because it’s worse there, not better, than the media is reporting.

Barry Bonds is suing.  But his claim against the writers who say he used steroids, is it slander, is it libel, is it words he never heard in the Bible?  It’s an unfair business practices lawsuit.  He wants the profits from their book about him.

The mother of the victim in the Debra Lafave case doesn’t want her apology, says the bipolar thing is just an excuse, has no comment on Ms.  Lafave’s possible journalism career.

Possible scandal on “American Idol.”  Some of the amateurs may actually be professionals.  Ringer warning.




OLBERMANN:  Not him.

The vice president staying at your hotel, what you have to have ready for him, including the TV already warmed up, and the Diet Sprite already chilled.  Nothing about targets or defibrillators.

And a defibrillator would be too late for Chef.  “South Park” kills him off and blasts his Scientology in the process.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, how about I meet you boys after work and we make love.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Here we go.  Oh!


OLBERMANN:  All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you realize how retarded that sounds?


OLBERMANN:  Good evening.

The report on Iraq consisted of entirely of violence, “a climate of extreme violence,” the transcript read, “in which people were killed for political and other reasons.”  The reporter emphasized “bombings, executions, killings, kidnappings, shootings, and intimidation.”  The chaos there was so bad, the reporter concluded, that his story “could scarcely reflect the broad dimension of the violence there.”

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, the exact kind of biased, bad-news-only, liberal media reporting against which the Bush administration has launched its latest round of attacks, something from “The New York Times” or, worse, from Al Jazeera?  No, those quotes were from the Bush administration itself, in the State Department’s official assessment of conditions in Iraq, which suggests, in no uncertain terms, that, if anything, the news media is sugar-coating what is happening there.

The study, titled “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,” was released at a news conference earlier this month, with Secretary of State Rice herself delivering the opening remarks, the 23 pages on Iraq stating unequivocally that even a highly selective inventory of the terrorist attacks in that country during the last year could barely begin to catalog all the violence.

Quote, “Bombings, executions, killings, kidnappings, shootings, and intimidation were a daily occurrence throughout all regions and sectors of society.  A illustrative list of those attacks, even a highly selective one, could scarcely reflect the broad dimension of the violence,” the report also stating that the attacks were being waged by any number of people, not just insurgents, for any number of reasons.

Quoting again, “Former regime elements, local and foreign fighters, and terrorists waged guerilla warfare and a terrorist campaign of violence impacting every aspect of life.  Killings, kidnappings, torture, and intimidation were fueled by political grievances and ethnic and religious tensions and were supported by parts of the population.”

For more on this and the rest of the day’s political news, time to call in our friend Dana Milbank, national political reporter of “The Washington Post.”

Good evening, Dana.


Evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Well, now we know rule number 75, before you launch a war against the media, make sure your own State Department agrees with you and not the media, right?

MILBANK:  Well, the mistake you’re making is assuming the State Department is part of the Bush administration, which it hasn’t been back to Colin Powell’s days, and it remains not now.

So if we’re looking at this in a Machiavellian way, we could say this is the first document of the Condoleezza Rice presidential run.  And she does have reason to distance herself from the administration, never mind that she was in the White House for the first term.

Perhaps more likely, Karen Hughes had called in sick that day, and the bureaucrats snuck one through on her.

But this is not the first and probably not the last time the State Department has caused some indigestion for the White House.

OLBERMANN:  On the other hand, the war against the media, it’s not in

something from our imagination.  And it certainly did—got a little personal today.  There was an e-mail that a producer at ABC News had written in the fall of 2004, during the presidential campaign, that was leaked to the infamous, deplorable Matt Drudge.  (INAUDIBLE) the e-mail read, as a posting today, “Are you watching this?  Bush makes me sick.  If he uses the ‘mixed messages’ line one more time, I’m going to puke.”

I’m not even going to put the if-that-came-from-the-White House-somehow thing in there, because the timing’s too good.  When you consider that the president won that election, and the e-mail was not even about Iraq, does this not smack of desperation on the part of the White House, to let something like that leak out right now?

MILBANK:  Well, I’m, first of all, never going to call Matt Drudge deplorable.  Every time he links to one of my stories, I get an extra 50,000 hits, they tell me.

OLBERMANN:  Oh, good.  Good for you.

MILBANK:  So let’s establish that.

OLBERMANN:  I said it, not you.


MILBANK:  Oh, you’re toast, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  I’ll go to the Matt Drudge ombudsman.

MILBANK:  But look, I—whatever the reason for it, I don’t think we should say is, this is unacceptable, this—we have to say this is unacceptable for a journalist to be doing this, in part because, look, you and I and other journalists go out all the time and say things critical of Bush, but this fellow, I don’t know him, is obviously very personally invested into this to think of puking.

Now, the line about the mixed messages, I remember from the campaign Bush was essentially suggesting that Kerry was aiding and abetting the terrorists.  But—so why didn’t he suggest people investigate the truth of that line, as opposed to getting his digestive juices all agitated about it?

OLBERMANN:  There’s a prominent Republican in the news here tonight who took on the White House to some degree, Senator Specter, who’s already noticeably mad about NSA spying, and that the Judiciary Committee didn’t know about it, has now told the Associated Press that, the quote is, “They,” meaning the White House, “want to do just as they please for as long as they get away with it.  I think what is going on now, without congressional intervention or judicial intervention is just wrong.”

It’s still possibly sour grapes on Senator Specter’s part.  Or does it speak potentially to the real problems between the White House and Capitol Hill, and this whole idea that there might be somebody brought in as a liaise between the two branches?

MILBANK:  Well, first of all, Specter is very quickly becoming a

national treasure.  He last week broke apart the budget bill and said that

he confessed right up front that it was a gimmick that he was inserting to increase the budget.  He has won reelection.  He just overcame a cancer scare.  He seems to be a guy who’s drinking truth serum by the gallon now.  So it’s terrific for our business.

But so Specter aside, because he can always be counted on for these kinds of lines, the president has an awful lot of trouble up there on the Hill.  And I think you’re going to see a lot of it in the House too, as these guys are running away from him on issue after issue.  And there’s nothing the president can do about it.  He can change the staff all he wants.  But if you’re sitting at 33 percent in the polls, your party’s going to be running away from you.

OLBERMANN:  The comic relief of the day, Vice President Cheney’s

standard road trip tour writer, what his—the hotels that he stays at

gets from his office, has been obtained by our friends at  And the advance staff saying that his hotel suite must

let me just give you a brief sampling—have all lights turned on, which either indicates that big oil would be proud, or the vice president doesn’t like the dark, four cans of diet caffeine-free Sprite in the room, and, of course, all televisions tuned to Fox News.

Well, of course they’d all be tell—tuned to Fox News, because he has to make sure they’re saying what he told them to say.

I know this is entertaining.  We just made fun of it here.  But it’s been running all day on this network, all day on CNN, as if it were, I don’t know, videotape of the Harry Whittington hunting incident.  This is not like he’s asking for 1,000 brown M&Ms, right?  I mean, it’s almost as unfair as Drudge posting a two-year-old ABC e-mail, isn’t it?

MILBANK:  No, of course not.  I—the thing that fascinated me is this liquid diet he’s got going there.  It said up to six bottles of drinking water, and that doesn’t include the two bottles of—I think it was Perrier or Calistoga—that Mrs. Cheney needs.

Then he wants the four cans of Sprite, then he needs a pot of coffee, and he even needs to know where the ice machine is.  So we were concerned about Al Gore’s little iced tea problem.  This could be very dangerous for the vice president.

OLBERMANN:  Well, you got to know where the ice machine is, because otherwise there’s this picture in my mind of the vice president wearing a towel, just wandering out in the middle of the night down the hallway looking for the (INAUDIBLE) --  Anybody know where the ice is?

MILBANK:  You’d want to turn all the lights off, in that case.

OLBERMANN:  Dana Milbank, national political reporter of “The Washington Post,” who said that.

As always, great thanks for joining us, Dana.

MILBANK:  Good night.

OLBERMANN:  And there’s something new about the NSA spy program, too.  You know, the one that is so secret, parts of it are still totally classified?  It appears it might not have been quite a secret after all, because the president shared at least the bones of a wiretap idea with the leader of Pakistan several years before the rest of us found out anything about it.

Early November 2001, the president met with President Pervez Musharraf in a hotel in New York.  Their conversation, according Bob Woodward in his book “Bush at War,” started on the Afghanistan issue, then moved on to the president’s other interests, as “The Washington Post” noted this week.

Woodward wrote, “He had become fascinated with the ability of the National Security Agency to intercept phone calls and other communications worldwide.  If they got the key phone calls, future terrorism might be stopped, certainly curtailed.  Bush summarized his strategy, ‘Listen to every phone call and close them down and protect the innocents.’”

The president had already authorized the program by the time he’d had that conversation with President Musharraf.

As we often do when there is scandal afoot, let’s bring in MSNBC’s David Shuster.

Thanks for your time tonight, David.

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Keith, good to be with you.

OLBERMANN:  I know he talks a lot about the strategic friendship in the war on terror, the friendship between the U.S. and Pakistan.  But why would the president be divulging at least the hint about a classified program to the president of that particular country?

SHUSTER:  Well, Keith, at the time of this conversation, it was the first time that President Bush had met Musharraf.  And this was at a stage when Afghanistan was going well, but it was not yet won yet.  And Musharraf had essentially stuck his neck out by supporting the United States.  In fact, there would later be assassination attempts against him.

So it would appear the president was trying to assure him, Look, we have the technology not only to win in Afghanistan, but also to help in the war on terror, and besides, not only might we help the United States, but maybe we could help Pakistan, by helping you identify who some of the terrorists and some of the opponents of your government might be.

OLBERMANN:  But this did not get a huge amount of play, but “The Washington Post” put out about three paragraphs at somebody having found this in the Woodward book, which is by itself from four years ago.

The president has repeatedly stated that the leaks from his administration will not be tolerated, especially angry when the word of the NSA program came out in December.  But this conversation, doesn’t this say that he was the first person to leak the information, if it got to Bob Woodward?

SHUSTER:  Well, it could be a huge story if the president was talking about domestic surveillance, because, remember, at the time, it was pretty widely known that the United States was collecting international phone calls, bringing them in to the NSA, and sorting them.  What wasn’t known was that the president had authorized the eavesdropping on domestic calls.

If he was referring to Musharraf, if he was saying, Look, not only are we sweeping up all the calls around the world, but we’re also sweeping up all of the calls around the world going in and out of the United States, then that would be a huge deal.

But it’s not clear that Bob Woodward knows that, and certainly, I don’t think we expect to learn that from either President Bush or Mr.  Musharraf.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, I guess you have to assume, but you can’t prove that the word “every” means “every.”

Speaking of leaks, give us the update here on the Scooter Libby case, which you continue to follow here, the special prosecutor, Mr. Fitzgerald, is now saying it will take 12 weeks for the analysts to gather all the classified material that Mr. Libby says he wants and needs for the defense.  What does that mean?  Does that mean we’re going to have a further delay in the trial?  Are we looking at the 22nd century yet?  What?

SHUSTER:  Well, it means that the judge is going to soon make a decision about whether Scooter Libby is entitled to this information to try to prove that he was somehow occupied with other matters other than Valerie Plame.  The judge asked the prosecutor in this case, Go to the CIA, find out how much work it would take to get the presidential daily briefs, the classified information, and report back to the court.

Fitzgerald has now done that, and now it’s up to the judge to decide, Is this too much of a burden on the trial to ask the CIA to spend three months so that Scooter Libby can say, Look how busy I was, or will the judge make some sort of other accommodation?  The judge should make a decision at any point in the next couple of weeks.

OLBERMANN:  MSNBC’s David Shuster, joining us from Washington tonight. 

Great thanks, David.

SHUSTER:  Good to be with you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Also tonight, Barry Bonds suing the authors of a book detailing his alleged steroid use, but he’s not claiming he’s been lied about steroids, he’s suing about the profits.  And in doing that, could he just make those claims look more legitimate?  The authors join me next.

And bipolar disorder getting a lot of publicity this week, courtesy of America’s most infamous teacher, at least at the moment.  But the mother of her young victim doubts that explanation.  A psychiatrist gives us a reality check.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN:  If you had been a world-class athlete for two decades and were on the verge of shattering one of the planet’s most important sports records, and someone accused you in a book of cheating, of using unauthorized, in some cases illegal, drugs to multiply your physical skills, and you hadn’t, you’d sue for libel, right?

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, wrong.  Barry Bonds, the baseball slugger identified as a repeat, premeditated, and highly medicated steroid user, in two new books, has just sued over the first one, but not for libel, not for its verbal equivalent, slander, but under a California law pertaining to unfair business practices, in what seems to be a claim not that Bonds did not use steroids, but that nobody but him should profit from a book about whether or not he did use steroids.

As “Game of Shadows” by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams hit bookstores today, Bonds’ attorney hit back, Michael Rains saying he will ask a California court to grant an injunction tomorrow against them, against their employers at “The San Francisco Chronicle,” against “Sports Illustrated” magazine, which published excerpts of the book last week, against the publisher.  He says he wants them to, all of them, to forfeit all profits from the book, with the money going to charity.

Raines said he was filing under California’s ambiguous unfair competition law, generally used by people who are suing over improper business practices or false advertising.  In this case, the attorney is saying that the authors used grand jury transcripts and other documents that he claims were, quote, “illegally obtained,” and that a judge should not only enjoin them, but also find the authors in contempt.

Not to say we won’t see it tomorrow, but nowhere in this is the claim that Bonds didn’t use the steroids.

The co-authors, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, join me now.

Gentlemen, good evening.



OLBERMANN:  Mark, am I reading this right?  Bonds is not suing over the accuracy or inaccuracy of what you reported about steroids, but on a premise of false advertising or improper use of grand jury testimony?  Is that the way it was explained to you?

FAINARU-WADA:  Well, that’s how we understand it.  Again, we haven’t seen the document.  We’ve been out in New York for the past couple of days and haven’t seen anything.  But, you know, that’s our understanding of it.  And you know, we, as we’ve said throughout, fully stand behind the material that’s in the book and the reporting we’ve done at “The Chronicle,” and we’re completely confident in its accuracy.

OLBERMANN:  So Lance, this sounds, at least on first blush, like this would be a way for Bonds to deflect the charges without having to disprove them.  Would that be your read of it?

WILLIAMS:  It’s such a novel approach, and I’m so unfamiliar with it, that I’m not sure what the intent is here.  As I say, we wrote a true story, we’ve got documentation that’ll withstand any scrutiny you want to impose on it that’s fairly applied.  I’m just not sure what they’re up to.

OLBERMANN:  In a way, the result of this—Mark, address this for me

could the—filing a suit like this make him look more guilty?  I mean, he’s suing, but he’s not suing about the truth, just about what happens to the money from the book.  And the lawyer refers to the use of illegally obtained grand jury testimony.  The testimony indicates that Bonds bought and used steroids.  Doesn’t that validate the quotes from the grand jury and make him look more guilty?

FAINARU-WADA:  Well, I, you know, I guess I don’t know.  I, you know, not to dodge this.  I just—I don’t know how a judge deals with this, I don’t know how a judge approaches it.  I think largely the issue becomes, how does the public see it as well.

We know how we see it, and we know how confident we are in the material.  And whether the public sees this as Barry defending himself or turning it the other way around, I just—I have no idea how this thing plays out.

OLBERMANN:  Lance, you write a book like this, it’s gone over by attorneys line by line.  They obviously thought you would be clear on libel, or it wouldn’t have gotten published, and the same thing for the newspaper and the same thing for “Sports Illustrated.”  And if you get a lawsuit as a result of this that is not about libel or accuracy, in a perverse way, have you not just been confirmed, essentially, in your reporting?

WILLIAMS:  Well, as I say, I know that the gist or sting (ph) of our book is absolutely solid.  We’ve got documentation for everything.  And we welcome any scrutiny anybody wants to apply to it.  You know, Barry Bonds is certainly entitled to test whatever legal theory he has in court.  And we’ll just stand up to that.

OLBERMANN:  Mark, last question.  I’m sure the whole pursuit of this information has been a strange ride to begin with.  Where does this rank in terms of the unusual developments that you’ve encountered in the study of Barry Bonds?

FAINARU-WADA:  Well, it’s certainly been one of the more unexpected ones.  But we’ve (INAUDIBLE) a lot of unexpected turns in this story.  It’s a strange tale, and every time I think we’ve sort of seen the most surprising thing, something else comes up.  So sort of come to expect the unexpected.

OLBERMANN:  I guess.  Well, gentlemen, I don’t know, I won’t ask you to comment on this.  But I can’t imagine Barry Bonds coming up with a worse idea right now than suing, but not suing over the question of whether or not your book is accurate.

The book is “Game of Shadows.”  To the best of my knowledge, it’s accurate.  The authors are Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams.

Once again, gentlemen, thank you for your time.

LANCE:  Thank you.

FAINARU-WADA:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  From lawsuits that aren’t what seem at first blush to jewels that aren’t what they seem at first --  Hey, lady, your broach just crawled off in the direction of Parsippany, New Jersey.

And an allegation that there’s something creepy about “American Idol.”  Is the premise lost when the singers turn out to be ringers—pros, not amateurs?



OLBERMANN:  It was on this date in 1901 that the famed opera singer Nellie Melba revealed the secret to her creation, Melba toast.  That secret, of course, was people.  Melba toast is people, Melba toast is people...

I’m sorry.  I’ve gotten my notes mixed up.  Soylent Green is people, Melba toast is prepared in a broiler.  Sorry for any confusion.

Let’s play Oddball.

Damn dirty apes!

We begin in Salt Lake City, which is always on the leading edge of the American fashion scene, so obviously it’s just a matter of time before the roach brooch becomes the must-have accessory of the “Fear Factor” generation.  Live, jewel-encrusted roaches tied to little leaches and set loose to roam around on your matching.

No longer do young fashion-conscious have to roll around in stinking, rotten garbage to complete the perfect outfit.  These babies are available online for just $80, a heck of a deal, if you consider it’s the only brooch guaranteed to survive a nuclear war.

To India, the new Florida when it comes to Oddball news, the wedding of the year in the Niali (ph) village, the lovely couple, two young trees.  Yes, a couple two tree (ph).  The bride and groom were a peepul and a banyan tree.  They’d been living together for five years.  I guess they finally decided to make it legal.  The village is clearly pro-tree marriage.  (INAUDIBLE) the traditional ceremony will bring blessings on them.  Over here, of course, Dr. James Dobson is said to be considering a boycott of wood.

Finally to Australia for a demonstration of how the Aussies deal with North Korean drug smugglers.  Yikes.  There was no one left on that cargo ship.  It had been impounded after more than $115 million in heroin was found on board.  This week, two Aussie F-111s used it for target practice and mowed it up real good, turning the sunken ship into an artificial reef and turning thousands of local fish into heroin addicts.

From sinking ships to sinking defenses, Deb Lafave says her bipolar disorder triggered her desire for a 14-year-old student.  The student’s mother, not so convinced.

And “South Park” versus Scientology.  No longer Chef of the future, more like Chef of the past.

Those stories ahead.

But first, time for COUNTDOWN’s top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, Jing Ying Hua.  He’s a micropainter.  He has painted the image of a giant panda onto a single human hair.  Nobody knows why.

Number two, Pam Hash, an emergency services (INAUDIBLE), administrator at St. Francis Medical Center in Chesterfield, Virginia.  To reassure patients at the new facility, she’s issued this guarantee.  “Your E.R.  doctor will see you in 30 minutes or less, or you get an apology and free tickets to a movie.”  Unfortunately, the movie is “Coma.”

I made the last part up.

Number one, Jesus.  No, the other Jesus, Jesus the nurse’s assistant at Hithingreu (ph) Hospital in Stockholm in Sweden.  They’ve asked him to please use his middle name while at the hospital.  Apparently some patients who have been told “Jesus will be coming soon” simply assumed they meant the other Jesus, and that they were already dead.


OLBERMANN:  To the best of our knowledge there is no sanctioning board.  Nobody selects the international psychological excuse of the year.  The trend seems to develop naturally.  Once it was Twinkies and the too much sugar defense.  Recently there was a spate of evil twin arguments.

In our third story on the COUNTDOWN, Debra LaFave have may kicked off the era of the simple explanation “I’m bipolar” but today her victim’s mother answered, I’m not buying it.

The informed analysis of a psychiatrist in a moment.  First the call and the answer.  Ms. LaFave at her news conference on Tuesday after further charges in the case were dropped against her for the sake of the victim’s privacy.


DEBRA LAFAVE, SEX OFFENDER:  And I believe that my mental illness had a lot to do with my actions and for someone—my passion was teaching.  That’s taken away from me.  I’ve lost family and I’ve lost friends.  As you can see my face has been plastered on every Internet address, every news outlet.  And that’s not easy, it’s not easy feeling the guilt and the remorse and having my own family suffer for my actions.


OLBERMANN:  Then the mother of LaFave’s 14-year-old victim sat down with a local television news operation and said she doubted it.


VICTIM’S MOTHER:  Bipolar is a absolutely very serious illness.  And I believe she has mental illnesses.  But to try to concede that bipolar would cause someone to be a child molester is beyond comprehension.  So, do I believe she has bipolar?  Absolutely.  Am I get glad she’s getting treatment?  Yes.

I believe she should serve prison time for what she did but at the end of the day not at the expense of my son.


OLBERMANN:  Let’s call Dr. Henry Paul, psychiatrist, director of the Karen Horney Clinic and author of “Is My Teenager OK?”  Dr. Paul.  Thanks for your time.  Good evening.

DR. HENRY PAUL, DIRECTOR, KAREN HORNEY CLINIC:  Thanks for having me back.

OLBERMANN:  On that list of bipolar symptoms is an increased sex drive, but is there anything suggesting that pedophilia is a specific consequence of the disease?

PAUL:  Absolutely not.  The increased sexuality found in the manic phase of bipolar - bipolar has two phases, depression and mania, discrete episodes.  The sexuality - the increased sexuality has nothing to do with sexually abusing children.

The sexuality involve with mania has to do with intense drive, passionate lovemaking, maybe an increase in frequency.  If someone is out of control manic, in other words, psychotically manic, you might see some very terrible and poor judgment.  But certainly there is no correlation I’ve heard of or seen—I’ve seen many child abusers and sex abusers, between being bipolar and committing those acts.  It just isn’t there.  It isn’t in the literature and I’ve never seen it clinically.

OLBERMANN:  On the issue of judgment that you’ve raised, unlike with many disorders, the bipolar person can distinguish right from wrong, correct, so whatever else is in play the ethical wrong should have been apparent to Ms.  LaFave?

PAUL:  Unless someone is in a psychotic phase - in other words, where they are really out of it with their depression or with their mania, the overwhelming majority of people with bipolar know right from wrong, including her I might said.

Because I read a quote of hers that she even said at one point that part of the thrill or the excitement or the lure of committing this act was she knew it was wrong.  That’s a direct quote of hers.  So, she wasn’t in any psychotic phase of bipolarity.  And although she might be bipolar, who knows, I’ve never met her, she can’t attribute her acts to bipolarity.

OLBERMANN:  On the other hand there is this.  And I’m sure many of us who have witnessed victims of bipolar syndrome here first hand experience something like this, the patient I knew had no clue, no earthly idea, that anybody else knew anything was wrong with him.  He was in the hospital at the time.  He hadn’t slept in days.  He thought he was getting away with it.

In that very narrow sense could Ms. LaFave have been right that the bipolar disorder could have contributed to her inability to at least realize that she could get caught?

PAUL:  I don’t think so.  I think anything is possible but the story just doesn’t add up very well.  Many people have said, well look at her, she doesn’t look bipolar.  You really can’t tell, either, whether someone is bipolar by looking at them in an interview.  Although she didn’t show any of the behaviors or thinkings or feelings during that interview of being acutely bipolar.  But maybe she thought she could get away with it but not due to bipolarity, I don’ think.

I think there are other things that might feed that type of egocentrism of people who abuse and think they can get away with it.

OLBERMANN:  So she says she’s in therapy, that she might need it for the rest of her life.  And as we all know, sex offenders have the highest recidivism rate among all criminals.  On the other hand, bipolar can be managed terrifically by drugs and by therapy.  Is there any chance that if she’s bipolar and being successfully treated for it that she might not repeat as a sex offender?

PAUL:  Well, not necessarily because I don’t link the bipolarity with the sex offense.

Sex abusers have a horrible recidivism rate.  It’s one of the most incurable situations.  That’s why we do chemical castrations and sometimes physical castrations and the laws are such that you have to isolate these people but bipolar people can do very, very well.  It’s a extremely treatable condition.

A combination of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy and family support.  Most people with bipolarity do very, very well.  But I wouldn’t link the treatment of that with her not being a sex abuser in the future.

OLBERMANN:  Right.  She might be bipolar but the conclusion seems to be it doesn’t have anything to do with this?

PAUL:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  Dr. Henry Paul.  Thanks for your time again tonight.

PAUL:  Thank you for having me.

OLBERMANN:  A little ethical disorder hitting “American Idol” tonight.  Giving America’s next singing sensation the illusive big break he or she needs except some of them already have professional singing and acting careers.  Oops.

And Isaac Hayes may have to fall back on his singing career now.  “South Park” kills Chef and smacks Scientology around for good measure.  That and more ahead here on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  I don’t condone watching “American Idol” but I understand it.  yet, tonight an awful truth, perhaps, challenging the one socially-redeeming value of the series with people that sound less like singers and more like parakeets with groin injuries.

Our number two story on THE COUNTDOWN, the premise here has always been that the contestants were amateurs striving for their one being break.  But now, our pal William Hung’s career notwithstanding, it appears some of them are anything but amateurs.  COUNTDOWN’s senior crooning correspondent Monica Novotny joins us now with the details.

Say it ain’t so, Monica, say it ain’t so.

MONICA NOVOTNY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I know are you broken-hearted over this.  Well, it is hard to believe put true, those adorable “American Idol” contestants aren’t all plucked from obscurity.  It turns out some are professionals.  Which leaves us wondering.  How could does without the polish of the pros compete?  Well, in some cases they can’t.


NOVOTNY (voice-over):  Chicken Little’s goose is cooked.  Thirty-three million viewers watched as 16-year-old Kevin Covais, “American Idol’s” underdog favorite with the unfortunate nickname sang his last song.

This in spite of an online campaign by anti-“Idol” fans and his all-American appeal.

But in the fifth season viewers are watching a different “Idol.”  Because this year at least four of Kevin’s competitors have professional experience.  It’s not against the show’s rules but is it fair?

ANNE BECKER, BROADCASTING & CABLE:  I do think people might think it’s unfair.  Part of the charm of finding the “American Idol” is finding somebody with that innocence who doesn’t have experience.

NOVOTNY:  Not the case for this guy.  Look familiar?  That’s Ace Young, currently an “Idol” contestant with some very professional experience.  Appearing in a guest role on the UPN sitcom “Half and Half,” the episode originally aired last October and is due for a rerun on April 3, capitalizing on Young’s new-found fame.

Another “Idol” favorite, 29-year-old Mandisa from Tennessee has performed with artists you might have heard of.  Shania Twain, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill and Charlie Daniels.

If you live in Los Angeles, 16-year-old Lisa Tucker might look familiar.  Five years ago she played a starring role onstage in that city’s production of “The Lion King.”

Another show favorite, 17-year-old Paris Bennett has opened for many professional acts including rapper Bow Wow.  But will these revelations have any impact on the ratings giant?

BECKER:  The show regularly outperforms all the other networks combined.  If you have 30 million people viewing each time it airs I don’t think something like this will affect it.


NOVOTNY (on camera):  Now the bottom line, this is not against the show’s rules.  Contestants must be aged 28 at the time of their audition and they can’t have a record deal.  But other than that when it comes to experience, anything goes.

OLBERMANN:  And this isn’t the only thing touching the sacred “American Idol” franchise?  There is a scandal involving the parent company now?

NOVOTNY:  Something else this week.  Well, they are upset with a man in Ohio who started a Web site that has a free download, if you go to that Web site and you download this program it will allow your computer to make multiple phone calls to voting for one contestant.

Now they said they were just upset because he put their logo on the site so he has taken the logos down.  Now we’ll see if they still go after him over the program.

OLBERMANN:  So not only the contestants not amateurs, but neither are the people calling in.  They are professional phone callers.  They are telemarketers.

COUNTDOWN’s Monica Novotny, herself a past winner on the “American Idol” competition.  Great thanks.

NOVOTNY:  Thanks.

OLBERMANN:  They didn’t televise that part, it was the newscasting competition.

Speaking of anything goes, there is Paris Hilton.  That’s the segue to our nightly roundup of entertainment and celebrity news, “Keeping Tabs.”  Ms.  Hilton already the star of reality TV and night vision DVD is branching out to cartoons, it appears.  According to a report in the British tabloid “The Sun” both Paris and sister Nikki Hilton are in talks with Interscope chief Ted Fields, whoever he is, to make an animated series about their lives, quote, “In the style of ‘The Simpsons.’”

Wait, you mean Paris Hilton isn’t a cartoon?  Surprise.

Blonde ambition continues with Mrs. Kevin Federline, Britney Spears and if you had September in the baby two pool, you lose.  Las (ph) Spears trying on her best Marilyn Monroe impersonation and apparently also imbibing liberally at birthday festivities for her husband earlier this week in Las Vegas.

The “New York Daily News” reporting that Spears was seen sipping cocktails and breaking her diet by scarfing down spare ribs and pork rolls.  All that before two vertically challenged females brought out the birthday cake for her 28-year-old wannabe rapper hubby and they say money can’t buy class.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire for Chef.  Frying pan is just about the only thing “South Park’s” creators did not hit Isaac Hayes with last night.  The satirists versus the Scientologists.  Next.

But first time for COUNTDOWN’s list of today’s three nominees for “Worst

Person in the World,”

The bronze tonight, Fidel Castro.  The dictator’s former gofer revealing in Florida that Castro has his used underwear burned to avoid assassination attempts using laundry chemicals.  Which begs the question, when Woody Allen spoofed Castro in the 1971 movie, “Bananas,” and showed a dictator who ordered his people to wear their underwear on the outside from now on, did he know about this or was it just a really good guess?

Our runner up this evening.  Philip Williams at McGill Air Force Base in Florida.  He is an employee there.  Police say Mr. Williams had just bought some crack cocaine but was not sure he had gotten the real thing.  How do they know this?  Because they say he went up to two uniformed officers and asked them if they would be nice enough test his crack pipe to make sure it was the real thing.

But tonight’s winner, Barbara Bush.  Former First Lady, mother of the president.  The “Houston Chronicle” reporting today and her chief of staff confirming that Mrs. Bush made a generous donation to the Hurricane Katrina relief fund co-chaired by her husband, the former president, and former President Clinton, but there was a catch.  The money she donated had to be spent, was earmarked for, was intended only for use for buying computer software programs for schools in Houston.  Computer software programs through schools in Houston that were sold by her son, Neil.  You would think if a woman has reached her 80th birthday she would understand that if you make a donation to charity, and make the charity give the donation to your son it’s not a damned donation anymore.

Barbara Bush.  Today’s “Worst Person in the World!”


OLBERMANN:  Just like the old rule, for the second time in as many nights, never get into a brawl with a guy who owns an ink factory and Isaac Hayes apparently never got that memo.

Our number one story on THE COUNTDOWN, the computer may have eliminated the actual need for ink in newspapers or in animated cartoons, but the imagery still holds up.  And you especially don’t want to get into a brawl with guys who can turnaround an episode of their series, a new one, in less than a week and already have hours of your voice on tape which they can edit to make your character say anything you want it to and there’s nothing you can do about it unless they don’t send you a check.

If you missed it, Mr. Hayes quit as the voice of Chef after a decade on “South Park.”  He objected to the characterization of his religion, Scientology, not in the original airing of the episode but in its recent rerun.

So last night the producers turned Chef into a would-be pedophile and took a chunk out of Scientology, thinly disguised as the Super Adventure Club as they did so.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Something is wrong with chef.  He’s saying really weird stuff.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think, I think he wants to have sex with me.




CHEF, CARTOON CHARACTER:  Hello there, children.


CHEF:  How is it going?


CHEF:  Well, how about I meet you boys after work and we can make love?


KYLE, CARTOON CHARACTER:  The reason chef has been saying those terrible things about us is because he’s been brainwashed by this fruity little club!

CARTMAN:  Son of a bitch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Children have things called marlocs (ph) in their bodies.  And when an adult has sex with a child, the marlocs implode, feeding the adult’s receptivity with energy that causes immortality, so sayeth the ruler of Bathos.

KYLE:  Do you realize how retarded that sounds?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It any more retarded than the idea of God sending his son to die for our sins?  Is it any more retarded than Buddha sitting beneath a tree for 20 years?

STAN, CARTOON CHARACTER:  Yeah.  It’s way, way more retarded.


OLBERMANN:  And as a little postscript to the message, how can we miss you if you won’t go away, Chef catches on fire, falls off a cliff, is impaled by a tree branch and mauled by a bear.

Dude, they killed chef.


KYLE:  A lot of us don’t agree with the choices Chef has made in the past few days.  Some of us feel hurt and confused that he seemed to turn his back on us.  But we can’t let the events of the last week take away the memories of how much chef made us smile.

I’m going to remember Chef as the jolly old guy who always broke into song. 

I’m going to remember Chef as the guy who gave us advice to live by.

So you see, we shouldn’t be mad at Chef for leaving us.  We should be mad at that fruity little club for scrambling his brains.


OLBERMANN:  As a final twist, the episode ended with members of Super Adventure Club trying to revive Chef.

I’m joined now by the editor-at-large for “Entertainment Weekly” magazine, Ken Tucker.  Mr. Tucker, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  Obviously, Wile E. Coyote got treated better by his producers in the Roadrunner cartoons than did Chef by Trey Parker and Matt Stone.  There is no additional message in here, no subtlety that we missed in all that, is there?

TUCKER:  I think there is.  I think there is a kind of poignant message in all this crudity which is that the Super Adventure Club, these pedophiles, are a metaphor for religious extremism and brainwashing and I think that that speech that Cartman and his friends give is kind of Parker and Stone’s plea to Isaac Hayes to kind of come to his senses, if anything.

OLBERMANN:  In the exceptionally litigious time in which we live, if you’re Isaac Hayes, even though you’re the one who walked out on a contract, do you try to sue at this point just to save face in some way?

TUCKER:  No.  If anything, all you do now is try not to sing “Shaft” in public for a while.

They also didn’t kill him, he comes back at the end in this kind of Darth Vader and speaks in a metallic voice, becoming, in effect, an iron chef.

OLBERMANN:  Yeah.  They might get sued by those folks.  That’s possible.  You know, it doesn’t sound like he’s going to sue, but then again, we didn’t think Barry Bonds would sue for the baseball steroids book and not question whether or not - whether they were right in saying he used steroids.

In any event, we’ve all heard the disputed story that the other noted Scientologist, Mr. Cruise, threatened not to promote his latest movie, which is owned by the same company that owns the network that carries “South Park” because he and the religion were ripped on “South Park.”

Is it up to him to fire the next salvo?  Does he get involved in this, try to kill Kenny or something?

TUCKER:  No, no, this is the brilliant move that Parker and Stone have made because if Cruise attacks this episode, he in effect is coming out in favor of the Super Adventure Club, a group of pedophiles.  Wouldn’t want to be seen to do that.

OLBERMANN:  So what is the net effect on each of the careers of the people involved here?  Let’s start with Isaac Hayes.  You suggested that he needs to avoid singing “Shaft” for a while.  What else happens to him?

TUCKER:  Well, I think he just slips away believing that he is a very principled man who walked away from a regular paycheck.

I think Parker and Stone come off as slashing satirists with a

sledgehammer.  It’s all to the benefit of them, I think.

OLBERMANN:  And Tom Cruise, whether he stays out of it as you suggests he should, or he doesn’t.  He’s sort of in it already because of this rumor that still flies around about the promotion of the third “Mission Impossible” film.

TUCKER:  Well, yes, but you know you’re not going to get me to equate the Super Adventure Club with Scientology.  I get in enough trouble if I write a bad review of “The Family Guy.”

OLBERMANN:  Wait a minute.  You wrote a bad review of “Family Guy”?

TUCKER:  Yeah, I did and they killed me off in the show.

OLBERMANN:  This is breaking news here.  I never met anybody who wrote a bad review of “Family Guy.”

TUCKER:  And then they wrote me into an episode and killed me off.

OLBERMANN:  What did they do that you thought was so bad?

TUCKER:  The crime of not being particularly funny.

OLBERMANN:  Well.  All right.  I’m just .

TUCKER:  We’re getting off topic.

OLBERMANN:  Yeah, I’m getting off topic in one of my hobbies, here, that show.  But this thing - is it over from the “South Park” point of view, do you suppose?

TUCKER:  I think it is because I think they’ll just move on to the next target now.  Chef is gone - I suppose he could come back as this Darth Vader figure.  They can always revive him, but for the most part I think he’s gone.

OLBERMANN:  But they can revive him now and use another similar voice. 

They don’t even have to come close, right?

TUCKER:  That’s right, yeah.  He can take any form whatsoever.  He can come back as Katie Holmes.

OLBERMANN:  He can come back as Katie Couric.

TUCKER:  That’s right.

OLBERMANN:  We throw that into the mix, too.

They are geniuses, are they not?

TUCKER:  They are indeed.

OLBERMANN:  “Entertainment Weekly’s” Ken Tucker who didn’t like “Family Guy,” but we thank him anyway.

Congratulations on making your comeback after being killed off by a cartoon series.

TUCKER:  Thank you very much.

OLBERMANN:  You’re an expert on this field.  That’s COUNTDOWN for this, the 1,057th day since the declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq.  I’m Keith Olbermann.  Keep your knees loose.

Doesn’t like “Family Guy”?

Good night and good luck.

Our MNSBC coverage continues now with RITA COSBY, LIVE & DIRECT.  Good evening, Rita.



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Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2006 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.