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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for April 26

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Devin Gordon, Michael Musto, Jennifer London

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

Grand jury grand entrance.  Karl Rove goes before the Plamegate panel for a fifth time, reportedly at his own suggestion.  You can‘t spell “volunteer” without R-O-V-E.

Snow job.  And the Tony goes to the new White House press secretary.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Tony already knows most of you.  And he‘s agreed to take the job anyway.


OLBERMANN:  Heh heh heh.

A Fox News anchor and commentator, now on the White House payroll.  Well, officially on the White House payroll.

Dr. Laura, the cure for what ails Republican candidates.  Don‘t send the president to campaign for me, they say, send the first lady.

I know where can I get her a nice ring, cheap.  The $100,000 jewelry job caught on tape.  Will the electronic age soon make burglary a job for which you have to wear makeup and hair spray?

Speaking of too much makeup, more stories my producers are forcing me to cover.  Unsafe at any speed, Britney Spears, visited by child welfare just this month, is going to be a mom again, reportedly.  Buckle up.

And with just a hint of hickory and the subtle bouquet of French Lick, Indiana, it‘s Larry Bird, the wine, from way downtown.  Bang.

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

Good evening.

New press secretary, new chief of staff, same old problem, same no comments.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, like a coat of paint that is still tacky to the touch, President Bush touting a fresh start in the form of a new spokesman at the White House, who promptly refuses to speak, while his top political adviser was speaking, testifying before a federal grand jury across town about the investigation that refuses to end.

We begin with Karl Rove‘s day in court, his appearances at the D.C. Federal Courthouse now up to a full handful, Mr. Rove testifying before a grand jury today for a fifth time, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald on hand to honcho the Q&A, Mr. Rove spending four hours on the stand, legal sources confirming the presidential adviser volunteered to testify, following a recent conversation with Mr. Fitzgerald about his status in the CIA leak case, the latest court filings in the case against Scooter Libby referring to Mr. Rove as a, quote, “subject” of the investigation.

Mr. Rove‘s lawyer, Robert Luskin, with this statement today about his client‘s testimony.  “He tested (INAUDIBLE) -- testified,” rather, “voluntarily and unconditionally at the request of special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, to explore a matter raised since Mr. Rove‘s last appearance in October 2005.  In connection with this appearance, the special counsel has advised Mr. Rove that he is not a target of the investigation.  Mr. Fitzgerald has affirmed that he has made no decision concerning charges.  At the request of the special counsel, Mr. Rove will not discuss the substance of his testimony.”

More now on Rove‘s day in court from our correspondent David Shuster in Washington.

Thanks for your time, David.


OLBERMANN:  That statement there released by Mr. Luskin, it says Mr. Rove is not a target of the investigation, and Mr. Fitzgerald has not decided whether to charge him yet.  Are those two things not mutually exclusive?  Can both of them be true statements?

SHUSTER:  Well, they are mutually exclusive, and, in fact, even a lawyer who supports Karl Rove says tonight that the term that somebody is a target of the investigation is essentially a term of art.

This lawyer suggests that, in this case, it doesn‘t even matter at all, because even if Karl Rove is told today, Hey, you‘re not officially a target (INAUDIBLE) under accordance with Justice Department guidelines, that doesn‘t mean anything, according to this lawyer.

And that just as easily, the prosecutor in this case, Patrick Fitzgerald, could go to Rove tomorrow and say, OK, now we‘re following Justice Department guidelines.  You are a target.  And oh, by the way, we‘re going to get our grand jury to indict you next week.  It‘s that simple, and it could happen that quickly.

OLBERMANN:  So that Mr. Rove appeared voluntarily today, given the enormous possibility that he could have contradicted previous testimony, and thus digging a deeper hole for himself, might someone conclude that he had nothing to lose, that talking his way out of being charged is a risk he needed to take?

SHUSTER:  Absolutely.  And we‘ve been given every indication that Karl Rove felt he had no other opportunity, that he felt that the evidence that his own lawyer had provided to prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that was supposed to clear Karl Rove out of all of this, that didn‘t work.  And so Rove volunteered to testify.  But, again, legal experts say, you don‘t voluntarily go to a grand jury unless you have no other cards to play, and if that‘s the only one that you think is going to keep you from getting indicted.

Furthermore, Keith, supporters of Karl Rove say that they are exasperated at the fact that even though his lawyer said that he was exploring one matter, Karl Rove spent three and a half hours in front of this grand jury.  And, again, that usually means that the grand jury‘s either not satisfied with the answers you are giving, or they keep going back to one issue over and over.

And, again, keep in mind that even Karl Rove‘s own lawyer says that there was one matter to be explored, and even Rove‘s lawyers are very distressed that it took three and a half hours to resolve this at the grand jury.

OLBERMANN:  Do we know what that one matter was?  I mean, what did he voluntarily talk about when he volunteered to voluntarily go over there and volunteer?

SHUSTER:  Well, Karl Rove‘s lawyers confirm that, in fact, Rove was asked about a key meeting over drinks between Rove‘s lawyer, Robert Luskin, and “TIME” magazine reporter Viveca Novak.  This was the conversation in which Rove‘s lawyer says that he was tipped off that Viveca Novak colleague at “TIME” magazine, Matt Cooper, was prepared to identify Karl Rove as the source of information about CIA operative Valerie Plame.

And so what Luskin said last fall was, Look, this is evidence that Karl Rove refreshed his memory as soon as I heard about this information and told Karl Rove and found an e-mail, and he changed his testimony.

The problem that Karl Rove and his lawyer are having now is that the timeline doesn‘t work out.  The Viveca Novak conversation with Bob Luskin happened in March of 2004, Viveca Novak has testified.  But Karl Rove didn‘t go to the grand jury and change his testimony until seven months later, October 2004.  And that‘s one of the reasons, that delay, that‘s one of the reasons why prosecutors were not satisfied just with the testimony of Viveca Novak, and just with the testimony of Bob Luskin, who gave a deposition last fall.

OLBERMANN:  Well, it‘s the weather change.  You get refreshed at autumn time.

MSNBC‘s David Shuster, our man on the scandal beat.  As always, sir, great thanks.

SHUSTER:  You‘re welcome.

OLBERMANN:  There are always ups and downs for those involved in cases like these.  And Mr. Rove apparently experienced his in the courthouse elevator.  With his attorney and several reporters in the cab with him, Rove called out the floors as the numbers went by.  You know,  lingerie, housewares.  It would be too much to wish that he concluded with, Basement, new press secretaries.

As widely expected, Fox News commentator Tony Snow going directly on the White House payroll.  A new press secretary and the old one joining the president in announcing the appointment, Mr. Snow apparently taking his cue about how to treat the White House press corps from his new boss, and he‘s already completely up to speed.


BUSH:  Tony already knows most of you.  And he‘s agreed to take the job anyway.  And I‘m really glad he did.

I am confident he will help you do your job.  My job is to make decisions, and his job to help explain those decisions to the press corps and the American people.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  One of the reasons I took the job is not only because I believe in the president, because, believe it or not, I want to work with you.  And I want to thank you, Mr. President, for the honor, and thank all you guys for your forbearance, and I look forward to working with you.  Thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. President, what does this choice say about what you think you need in a second term?


OLBERMANN:  See ya.  Can you feel the love?

In a moment, Dana Milbank joins to us address, among other things, why in the world Tony Snow would want that White House press job.

First, two other notes.  To correct much of the reporting, Snow is not the first TV guy nor reporter to take this post.  Pierre Salinger was an investigative reporter for “The San Francisco Chronicle” years before becoming President Kennedy‘s voice.  Bill Moyers had been an assistant TV news director in Austin, Texas, before becoming press secretary to President Johnson.  And Ron Nessen, an on-air NBC News correspondent before and after working for President Ford.

But this latest press secretary does have an item on the hobbies section of his resume that cannot pass without comment.  Not only is he in a rock band called Beats Working—get it? -- in which in which he plays the guitar, the flute, and saxophone, he also once attended rock-and-roll fantasy camp, apparently fully aware that VH1 Classic and its cameras were there.

Thank you, Ron Burgundy.

Time now to call in COUNTDOWN political analyst and music critic Dana Milbank, also the national political reporter for “The Washington Post.”

Welcome back, Dana.


OLBERMANN:  In taking a job where the main description is answering questions, Mr. Snow took no questions at his news conference.  Do we take that as a bad start?

MILBANK:  It looked like he kind of wanted to tug the president back there and say, This is not a good way to start.

You know, it‘s not that he didn‘t take questions.  He did take questions later on Fox News from Brit Hume.  So this could be the beginning of a pattern, in which Brit Hume sits in the front row of the White House briefing room and asks all the questions.

But that said, when he did actually take the questions from Brit, he said all the right things.  He said that Marlin Fitzwater is going to be his model, and Marlin Fitzwater was a beloved press secretary, because of the way he treated the press corps, and was well respected by the press corps.  So if he means what he says, that could be good news.

OLBERMANN:  But, as—I mean, it‘s not breaking any news here to say that the White House spin machine has often called upon conservative pundits to do its bidding, you hire one of them.  Have you simply streamlined the process, eliminated the middleman?  Is there any pretext left here that there‘ll be autonomy in this process?

MILBANK:  Well, it started with Armstrong Williams.  He was just part-time.  And now Tony shows that you can do this full-time.  So perhaps if we could get one of these emergency supplementals, we could all get on the payroll at one point, and that would immediately improve, no doubt, improve the president‘s press that he‘s getting.

Sure.  It will help him a great deal to have, to help the president a great deal to have a guy that everybody likes in the press corps, at least as of this moment.

OLBERMANN:  For now, right.

MILBANK:  And, of course, we did like Scott before.

But, you know, Tony has—is very visible, and he‘s going to have a very difficult time sitting there saying, No comment, no comment, no comment.  So that gives a lot of us in the press corps hope that he‘s going to push to have some information out there.

OLBERMANN:  And also, as we pointed out here 24 hours ago, and everybody has pointed out since, Mr. Snow‘s columns were filled with criticisms of the president, mostly for not being conservative enough or confrontational enough.  How soon could we see his recent yesterday collide with his today and his tomorrow?  What happens when he has to sell a policy or a fib with which he disagrees?

MILBANK:  I think he‘ll be just fine.  You know, the fact of the matter is, I think the White House is delighted to have these few examples of Tony Snow‘s criticism of the administration out there.  It builds up some credibility.  I mean, far more of the time, he‘s been right on board.

So maybe it‘ll be a little nod and a wink when it‘s something, you know, that it wasn‘t his position to start with.  I have a feeling he‘ll be fine with that.

OLBERMANN:  As we said, it‘s not the first time somebody‘s made this leap, supposedly over to the dark side.  And there was a great quote from the man who tried this 30 years ago, the former NBC correspondent, former Ford press secretary Ron Nessen, who once hosted “Saturday Night Live” while he was press secretary.

We wanted to show some of it, but it was so long ago that when we sent over to the archives for tapes of the show, this is what we got back.  It‘s a one-inch tape for which we no longer have a machine to play it on.

Anyway, Dana, Nessen, on the lure of doing this, he said, I had a strong urge to see what was going on behind the scenes.  Does the sausage rule apply here?

MILBANK:  You know, it might.  I mean, it‘s—he‘s certainly not doing it for the pay.  He‘s getting a pay cut, unless he‘s getting some Halliburton stock options that we don‘t know about.  He—I think he is lured by wanting to be behind the scenes there.  Wants to see the sausage being made, but he also promises not to drink the Kool-Aid.

OLBERMANN:  Excellent.  It‘s a food theme.  We—of course, we still have to make sure that he‘s off the Fox News payroll.  But I guess that will take care of itself.

Dana Milbank of “The Washington Post,” with a report on Snow conditions.  Many thanks.

MILBANK:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Now, what if the president had selected this individual as his press secretary?  Actually it proves she‘s too busy for that job.  She is busy as what may be fairly described as the campaigner-in-chief.

And why the “Flight 93” movie has premiered, but the Flight 93 memorial has been stalled.  One wrenching story on the silver screen, another on the political stage.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN:  It‘s an old “Saturday Night Live” gag, vintage 1977.  The deep-space probe “Voyager: had been launched to carry a device which would be automatically activated if it encountered any life form, a disk that would play various sounds from earth, a tribal song from Zaire, recordings of Mozart and Bach, the sounds of surf and thunder, greetings in 55 different languages, and the song “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry.

And the joke went, the first message had just been received from outer space, four simple words that had changed the universe.  “Send more Chuck Berry!”

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, we update it to today.  We make it not intergalactic communications, but American politics.  And the four simple words are, Send more Laura Bush!  Her husband‘s approval down to 36 percent in the latest NBC News-“Wall Street Journal” survey.  It was 39 in January.  And only 24 percent think the nation is headed in the right direction.

Another number, the midterm elections are just 196 days away.  The GOP majority in the House and Senate, the ones up for reelection, anyway, need a national star to help offset the bad poll numbers.

Guess who?

As our correspondent Kevin Tibbles reports, Send more Laura Bush!


KEVIN TIBBLES, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It used to be an offer no candidate for office would refuse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Please join me in welcoming the president of the United States, George W. Bush.

TIBBLES:  But with his job approval rating at 36 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Bush lied, soldiers died.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Bush lied, soldiers died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Bush lied, soldiers died.

TIBBLES:  And the constant threat of controversy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Impeach Bush!  Impeach Bush!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Impeach Bush!  Impeach Bush!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Impeach Bush!  Impeach Bush!

TIBBLES:  Some Republicans are distancing themselves from the president.

THOM SERAFIN, POLITICAL CONSULTANT:  People who would like to raise money with him, but would not like him publicly on the campaign trail with them.

TIBBLES:  More and more, candidates are asking, Can Laura come?

SERAFIN:  She‘s sensitive and warm, and she touches you in an emotional way.  And when she speaks, you listen, and you say, Well, she gets it.

LAURA BUSH:  He‘s an effective member for people, working men and women, here in this district.

TIBBLES:  Political consultant Tom Serafin says, as a campaigner, Laura has a big advantage over her husband.

SERAFIN:  The war is not going well.  He‘s going to be judged solely on that battleground.  George is the one who‘s pulled the trigger on everyone.  You know, Laura‘s always been in the background.

LAURA BUSH:  Thanks to the men and women of the United States military, America is winning the war on terror.

TIBBLES:  But Jack Oliver, a Bush for President campaign officer, says candidates who shun the president are making a big mistake.

JACK OLIVER, BUSH FOR PRESIDENT CAMPAIGN OFFICER:  It would be absolutely foolish not to have the president come to your district.  And in most districts across the country, one of the most important things you can do is get your voters out to vote in an off-year cycle.  And so I think the president‘s a great asset.

TIBBLES:  Still, the president himself jokes that, come fall, he may not be campaigner in chief.

BUSH:  And Laura sends her love.  Nusselets (ph) came out to the airport, and he said, Fine, I‘m glad to have you here, and this time of the year.  But when we‘re coming down the stretch, make sure you send the A-team.  I said, Which one, mother or Laura?  He said, Both.

TIBBLES:  Whether they consider the president a campaign liability or not, with her sky-high job approval rating near 80 percent, it seems the first lady is nearly everyone‘s first choice on the campaign trail.

SERAFIN:  I think she‘s doing what she believes is necessary, and I would get out of the way if I was in the White House, and let her go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My Republican friends all across the country are lining up trying to get her to come into their district.

LAURA BUSH:  Thanks everybody.  Thank you all very much.

Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Chicago.


OLBERMANN:  No word on whether Laura Bush has been asked to referee the annual medieval battle in the Czech Republic.  But we‘ll have highlights regardless.

And from Czech Republic to, Check, please, Tom Cruise on another red carpet on another ramp about how great life at home is, as opposed to actually going home himself.

More stories my producers are forcing me to cover, ahead here on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  The oldest dumb anniversary I‘ve ever mentioned on this show dated to about 2,200 years ago.  The newest one comes now.  It‘s last year, 365 days since bride-to-be Jennifer Willbanks went out for a short run and instead did a Forrest Gump.  While every newscast except this one immediately concluded she‘d been kidnapped, we suggested, delicately, the eyes, the eyes are screaming, Got to get out of here, got to get out of here, got to get out of here.

We dedicate this, then, to Jennifer Willbanks, wherever she is, and presumably she‘s always near an exit somewhere.

Let‘s play Oddball.

Perhaps she is here, in the Czech Republic, where thousands have gathered once again for the 14th Annual festival of medieval costumery and skipping work that is the Battle of Legousset (ph).  Each year, the residents of this tiny Bohemian hamlet reenact the plucky villagers‘ defeat of the evil knights who tried to overrun the town.

Mmm, Bohemian omelet.  Of course, it‘s a fictional battle.  These people aren‘t really reenacting, they‘re acting.  Then again, who am I to get into a semantics argument with a guy carrying an iron war hammer and a tunic made out of animals he killed with his own teeth?

You‘re with me, leather.

To Japan, the worldwide leader in wicked cool robots for the COUNTDOWN Wicked Cool Robot of the Week.  It‘s Boto, and it‘s wicked cool, kind of.  Boto, or Mr. Boto to his friends, is another helper robot designed to carry around the elderly or others who can‘t walk themselves or just are too lazy to.  Just hop aboard, and Boto will get you there.  Might take a little while.  Boto, of course, still in the prototype stage, and it doesn‘t move quickly yet.  Plus, it can only carry about 110 pounds.

When you think about it, why bother with Boto when you could have Tank Chair?  Yes, baby.  Nananananananana Tank Chair.  For the first time ever, it appears an American company has a cooler robot than the Japanese do.  Now, if we could just get Tank Chair and Boto to fight each other, we can settle this once and for all.

Speaking of helpful, aside from its obvious contributions to Oddball, our reliance on modern technology‘s having another unexpected benefit, convicting the guilty and exonerating the innocent.

And the movie is out, but where is the memorial for the heroes of Flight 93?

Those stories ahead.

Now, though, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.

Number one, magician David Copperfield, robbed at gunpoint after a show in West Palm Beach.  Couldn‘t make those suspects disappear, eh, Dave?  On the other hand, police did catch them 10 minutes later.

Number two, Steve Mulvenon, spokesman for the Washoe County School District in Nevada, who summed it up darn well.  Quote, “It was pretty much a disaster.  He was characterizing the middle school field trip, the four-hour bus ride to Six Flags Marine World in Vallejo, California, on Monday.  Monday, the day on which Six Flags Marine World is closed.  There will be refunds.

And number one, basketball immortal Larry Bird (INAUDIBLE) Cossantino (ph) Signature Wineries to produce a series of wines.  They‘ve opted for the brand name Legends rather than the far more memorable and low-cost Larry Thunderbird.


KEITH OLBERMANN:  If there is any sad proof need that many of the misplaced priorities of the days before 9/11, the misplaced priorities we all vowed we would change, are still largely misplaced and it‘s contained herein.  A full length theatrical film about flight 93 has had its premier.  A memorial to the victims of flight 93 is still being blocked by one congressman.  Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, “Remembering United 93 and Forgetting about It.” 

The Bush administration asked congress for an initial installment of $5 million to help establish a memorial in the field at Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  But that request is currently being blocked by the chairman of the house appropriations subcommittee representative Charles Taylor.  He is concerned that private funding will fall through on the memorial and then the federal government will be asked to finish the project.  According to Representative Taylor that‘s exactly what‘s happening in the Oklahoma City memorial and he doesn‘t want the same thing to happen in Pennsylvania.  Saying in a statement, quote, “What we do not want to do is embarrass the country or the families of those aboard flight 93 with a memorial that is only partially funded in either construction or long-term maintenance costs.”

You know, like the memorial at ground zero that still doesn‘t exist.  Family members are petitioning Chairman Taylor to change his mind.  Several of them along with Senator Arlen Specter, Senator Rick Santorium and Congressman Bill Schuster of Pennsylvania gathered on Capitol Hill to explain why they consider that memorial so important. 


CALVIN WILSON, BROTHER-IN-LAW OF VICTIM:  The family members are not the ones that need a memorial.  I have a picture of the 40 heroes and my brother-in-law on my desk in my office and in my house.  I don‘t need a memorial.  But we felt in our hearts from the very first day that this thing happened, that you folks need a memorial that you need to remember the 40 heroes.  That you need to understand that within each and every one of us, that there‘s a hero. 


OLBERMANN:  A Capitol Hill source tells NBC News that Representative Taylor will ultimately be prevailed upon to approve the funding but nothing will happen before autumn at the earliest.  Meantime in the silver ling, family members pushing for that memorial will get some help from that movie.  The makers of “United 93” agreeing to give 10 percent of the opening weekend profits to the project.  It premiered Tuesday night at the Tribeca Film Festival, fittingly that was an event originally set up in the aftermath of 9/11 to help that disseminated New York City neighborhood regain economic footing.  Over a thousand people including many family members gathered to watch the premier.  Critics have said it is too soon, not even five years after the tragedy for a feature film on it.  But the families of all 40 victims on board have endorsed this film and urged the rest of us to see it.  Many of them even traveled to New York for opening night. 


GORDON FELT, BROTHER OF FLIGHT 93 VICTIM:  It‘s a very powerful film.  But it‘s a film that tells a story that needs to be told.

JACK GRANOCOLA, HUSBAND OF FLIGHT 93 VICTIM:  I was relieved because we felt it was inevitable the story would be told.  And it could end up bad, but I think we mostly feel it was a fair and honorable tribute to our loved ones. 

JANICE SNYDER, MOTHER OF FLIGHT 93 VICTIM:  The public needs to know, they need to remember, they need to exactly know what families have gone through.


OLBERMANN:  And the caveat here, it is a Universal Film that is part of the same company that owns this network NBC Universal.  Devin Gordon a senior writer at “Newsweek” magazine also attended that premier, he‘s joining us now.  Thank you for your time sir. 


OLBERMANN:  The reaction outside seemed to be overwhelmingly positive.  What was the reaction inside the theater during the film?

GORDON:  It was very emotional, to the point where it was almost uncomfortable.  It is a riveting film.  I‘m of two minds critically speaking as to what the film says and what it‘s all about.  It is a minute-to-minute recap of what happened and it is very stirring and it‘s very emotional.  But when the movie ended, a few minutes after the movie ended, you could hear a pin drop, no one left their seats for the entire rolling of the credits. 

OLBERMANN:  The reaction from the families was what?

GORDON:  Well, the movie ends quite abruptly it goes to black very abruptly and you could hear the family members who were all seated in the back of the theatre sobbing aloud.  Several of them sobbing aloud and it was very quiet until you could hear them and I think their sobs sort of prompted other people in the audience, people who were obviously not family members to get teared up as well.  It was a powerful moment and an uncomfortable moment. 

OLBERMANN:  What was your reaction to it? What did you take out of the theater from this?

GORDON:  Well, I have got to be honest it was not a movie I wanted to see.  You know, I was at ground zero during 9/11 reporting it for “Newsweek”.  Almost all of us at “Newsweek” were because it was an all hands on deck kind of situation.  And this was a movie that, were it not for journalistic reasons covering this industry I would have avoided completely.  It‘s not a movie I looked forward to.  But, you know, as I had heard, it is extremely well done.  It is extremely powerful.  It is—it does not have any commentary.  It doesn‘t have any commentary about what happened.  It‘s sort of a very visceral thing.  I don‘t know if I would necessarily even call it art.  It‘s more documentary style. 

OLBERMANN:  It might be documentary instead of true movie art making but is it that big $64,000 question, is it too soon?

GORDON:  I don‘t know.  I go back and forth on this.  I don‘t necessarily believe it‘s ever too soon for artists to start doing their work and I think that Paul Greengrass did, under the circumstances, about as great a job as he probably could have done.  But it was interesting to me watching the film and thinking that he is so hamstrung by the need to be delicate and be careful and not offend anyone, that it‘s almost impossible for him to have made this movie in any other way and have provided any context or any commentary.  The only thing he could do was do a straight documentary-style narrative telling of exactly what happened because I think on a grand scale that‘s really all American audiences are ready for. 

OLBERMANN:  I had acquaintances on the other three planes and I keep sitting here thinking about what if they did a movie about one of those films, I don‘t know what I would do in watching it. 

GORDON:  Yeah.  It‘s almost impossible to know what your reaction is going to be.  And I‘ve had friends and family members ask me if they should see the movie, I don‘t know what to tell them.  It is certainly not a movie that I wanted to see.  I don‘t necessarily feel better having seen it because it is exactly what I thought it was going to be.  On the other hand it‘s exceptionally well done and my hats are off to Paul Greengrass for doing what I don‘t think anyone can argue with is a responsible job of doing almost an impossible task. 

OLBERMANN:  And the tithing part, the 10 percent of the first weekend box going to the memorial fund? Will people go you think just for that reason?

GORDON:  I‘m not sure people will go for that reason.  I think some people know about that and may be moved to.  I don‘t know how many.  I don‘t know how widely known that declaration of charitable giving is out there.  I know they have mentioned it many times but I don‘t know how clearly that message has gotten through.  I think you are either going to go see the movie because for whatever reason you‘re curious or interested or driven to that kind of thing, or it‘s just not your kind of thing. 

OLBERMANN:  Art does not necessarily have to make you feel good.  That‘s not in the description anywhere. 

GORDON:  That‘s true. 

OLBERMANN:  Devin Gordon, arts and entertainment senior writer at “Newsweek” and first nighter at the “Flight 93” movie.  Great thanks, very good perspective on this. 

GORDON:  Thanks for having me. 

OLBERMANN:  Also, moving pictures of a far different kind.  I would like to take a look at this $100,000 ring.  Actually I need to see how it looks outside.  Is this guy a dying breed because of the very technology that let us watch his crime? Speaking of crime, she has been on “Lost”, how bad could jail actually be afterwards? Why choose it instead of community service? These stories ahead but first your COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of the day.  


MUSIQ SOULCHILD:  Through bright stripes and bright stars.  Through the perilous fights ore the ram parts we watched as the -- [crowd booing]

And the rockets red glare. 

Do you anticipate and hope to be liked by the press corps?

TONY SNOW:  I think the most important thing is to be respected by the press corps.         Giving information to the press corps so they respect you, you never lie, you never turn -- 

CONAN O‘BRIEN:  Everyone‘s talking about this painting.  Take a look.  There he is right there.  [laughter]

A lot of people are criticizing the portrait saying it‘s too casual and not befitting a U.S. president.  Well, to be fair, I looked at it as the portrait is much more dignified than some of the choices they almost went with like this one, people not happy with it. [laughter]  There is this one as well people not.  [laughter]

And, of course, this one it‘s my favorite, this next one. [laughter]



OLBERMANN:  Crime in the 21st Century.  How your cell phone, your easy pass, a trip to the ATM could be all that‘s needed to tip the scales of justice.  And Tom Cruise is still getting an easy pass, talking about how wonderful the kid at home is.  Not being at home with the kid mind you.  That‘s next, this is COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  When we used to say tape solved this crime we were saying something special.  34 years ago this summer a night watchman in Washington named Frank Wills noticed that the automatic lock on a stairwell door had been taped over.  He removed the masking tape, he went on his rounds and when he returned to the same door, the lock had been re-taped.  That‘s when Mr. Wills called the cops, that‘s when they came by the building and discovered the Watergate break in. 

The number two story on the COUNTDOWN, today tape solved this crime is an entirely different and entirely simpler meaning.  King of (INAUDIBLE) Pennsylvania, hello.  The customer at the jewelry store in the mall asked to see a three karat diamond in a platinum setting.  Yes, $100,000 out the door.  But he left his image on the surveillance video.  Police have not caught him yet.  But between that and the car he stole to get to the mall, and all the fingerprints, they‘re about eight weeks closer to catching them than they would have been 30 years ago.  (INAUDIBLE) I think my father designed one of the stores.

But back to the surveillance video and the cameras at the ATM and the easy pass at the toll booth and the 27 recording devices you have on your cell phone.  All of a sudden new technology has made the world very unfriendly to he who would be anonymous.  That has all kinds of implications for privacy but there do not seem to be many down sides for justice.  Jennifer London reporting for us tonight from Los Angeles. 


JENNIFER LONDON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Raul Ramirez never imagined that an ATM receipt would one day save his life. 

RAUL RAMIREZ:  I am grateful that I went to the ATM that morning and that these ATM records helped. 

LONDON:  That ATM transaction along with his cell phone records helped convince a jury what Raul and his attorney Michael O‘Lucky already knew.  Raul was falsely accused of assaulting a teenage girl. 

MICHAEL O‘LUCKY:  The use of technology in court cases is important and definitely a good thing, particularly where technology will help acquit an innocent man as it did here. 

LONDON:  In many ways the devices we think of as making our life easier, cell phones, cash machines, even a toll pass for the bridge have become law enforcement tools of the trade. 

JEAN ROSENBLOOTH, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  It has changed the landscape of prosecutions and the ability of the defendant who is wrongly accused to defend himself. 

LONDON:  Jean Rosenblooth is a former prosecutor and now teaches law at the University of Southern California. 

ROSENBLOOTH:  I think there is a comfort level with this sort of technology that doesn‘t have an agenda.  Technology doesn‘t want the defendant to be convicted or the prosecutor to win.  It simply exists. 

LONDON:  For convicted killer Scott Peterson a cell phone call placed on the day his wife Lacy disappeared helped the prosecution build a time line against Peterson.  During the Joseph Smith trial, the surveillance tapes were hard to watch.  But the jury couldn‘t ignore what they saw.  11-year-old Carlie Brucia being abducted by Smith who now sits on death row.  And Darryl Littlejohn says he‘s innocent, but investigators in New York claim his cell phone was used to make a call near where Imette St. Guillen‘s body was found. 

ROSENBLOOTH:  Technology is something that has the potential to make all of us feel more secure because it furthers justice. 

LONDON:  Justice for those who commit the unthinkable and for those, like Raul Ramirez who had the unthinkable happen to them. 

RAMIREZ:  It was living a nightmare. 

LONDON:  Jennifer London, NBC News, Los Angeles. 


OLBERMANN:  Not that technology especially video technology has been perfected and that is the segue into our round up of celebrity and entertainment news “Keeping Tabs,” ask Terri Hatcher.  She has reportedly suffered an eye injury on the set of “Desperate Housewives” after a light bulb exploded.  She told “People” magazine that glass lodged in her right eye and scratched her cornea quote, “I was taken to a wonderful eye doctor and I‘m now wearing a most glamorous eye patch over the right half of my face.”  She said she was trying to see the humor in it, would be back to work in two days and said she saw that scheming Eva Longoria slipping the lighting director a 10 just before it all happened.  I made up the last part.

And it is not often that someone chooses jail time over community service, but if you‘re somebody who has survived the over the top scripts of the TV series “Lost,” maybe this would seem to make sense.  Actress Michelle Rodriguez surrendered to authorities Tuesday, after pleading guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol.  She began a five-day jail term in addition to a $500 fine.  Rodriguez and another “Lost” actor, Cynthia Watros, were arrested on December 1st last year in separate cars, both for drunk driving.  Her attorney said it was a personal choice here quoting, “I would suspect that because she has had a hard time even going out for a meal without being intruded upon for an autograph or photograph, it‘s really difficult for her to do community service work.”  Remember Ms. Rodriguez, your cell mate might not be asking you for just an autograph.

Speaking of lost, Tom Cruise has apparently spent more time talking about his new child than being with his new child.  And the first baby has gone so well it appears La Spears is going back for seconds.  More stories my producers are forcing me to cover next. 

But first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for worst person in the world.  The bronze to Dustin Williams of Beaverton, Oregon.  Let‘s have a good look at Dustin‘s mug shot.  I‘m ready for my close up Mr. Daneal.  He was apparently dressed up like that, some sort of salute to “Revenge of the Sith,” while police say he was threatening kids outside a school with a fake handgun.  Thank you, goodbye, thank you. 

Our runners up, Minneapolis police officers Steven Herron and Lindsey Anderson.  No not the British filmmaker Lindsey Anderson.  They are under arrest in Columbia Heights, Minnesota.  First Ms. Anderson allegedly drunk drove her car into a parked truck and then when the Columbia Heights cops would not let her walk away because she was another cop, she swore at them, flipped them the bird.  Where upon Mr. Herron, her fianc’e and also a Minneapolis policeman, was difficult enough that the Columbia Heights cops had to taser him.

But our winner, Bill O‘s coming to a boil again.  His latest mortal enemy, the newspaper “The Syracuse Post Standard” which wrote about him blah blah blah we get it, you didn‘t like what they wrote.  He‘s inducted them into the new Bill O‘Reilly hall of shame.  Now The COUNTDOWN hall of fame would sue but, heck, if anybody is an expert on shame it‘s Bill O‘Reilly, so we‘ll let this one pass.  But he also says, quote, “Beginning today, the smear stops here.”  You are going to stop smearing people? How are you going to fill an hour every night, Bill? Reruns of the Jetson‘s? Bill O‘Reilly, today‘s worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN:  See how quickly the logical chain gets broken in this one of the latest round of stories my producers are forcing me to cover.  Tom Cruise is just wild about his wife and his new baby, Suri.  So wild that he stopped on the red carpet in London to talk about them to fans, stopped and talked about them, for hours and hours instead of going home to be with them.  Ding! Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, could we not at least require celebrities to pass a quick written test before we let them breed? The world of Cruise wobbling still more on its axis in a moment.  First the latest item under production, “Us Weekly” reporting that Britney Spears is quote “100 percent pregnant with her second child.”  According to one of their sources she is four months along.  What‘s less than 100 percent pregnant by the way?

This after Spears was seen pool side at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with a rounder more swollen belly.  The magazine said Spears cried her eyes out when she first received the news because she had been thinking about ditching husband Kevin Federline.  Hey missy, hold on to that thought.  Spears was also said to be worried about the public‘s reaction to another pregnancy, so she reportedly ordered fake cocktails to fool the media into thinking she was still partying.

And then there‘s the happy home life of Tom Cruise, in which he never stops talking, to which he never seems to be going.  Having moved from the red carpet in Rome for the premiere of “Mission Impossible 3” there.  Cruise told reporters and fans that he had spoken with Katie Holmes quote, “About a billion times.”  This while he spent a marathon four hours with those fans, his personal best.  He also bemused the crowd with this gem quote, “I‘m excellent at changing nappies.  I love it.” 

To awake us from our nappies, who else but “Village Voice” columnist Michael Musto.  Thanks for your time Michael.


OLBERMANN:  Let‘s start with Cruise.  I don‘t mean to throw stones here, but if that quote‘s accurate, is that the smoking gun moment that this is all carefully rehearsed?  I mean no American speaking spontaneously about removing his kid‘s poop, says nappies, that‘s the English term.  He pre-translated it.  We‘ve got him don‘t we?

MUSTO:  No, actually, what Tom doesn‘t realize is nappies is Hebrew for fake love interest.  What he‘s really saying is I‘m good at changing my fake love interest.  It‘s like when JFK kept saying I‘m a Berliner and he was really saying I‘m a jelly donut, okay.  But if Tom is delirious about the baby and so am I.  I don‘t know if he or Katie screamed when Suri was born, but I know I did.  In fact I was such a mess I had to change my nappy. 

OLBERMANN:  All right, so he gets to the London movie premiere after the one in Rome and he‘s now going on to the one in Paris, though he was supposedly set to go home after the Paris event, the beloved happy home he‘s never at, which if he went to he wouldn‘t have to call home like a billion times.  Who‘s falling for this?

MUSTO:  Nobody, but look, everybody knows if you have a piece of art to promote, you leave the wife and kid behind and you go do it.  If you don‘t have a piece of art to promote, you go promote “Mission Impossible.”  You know the kid will still be there, the career won‘t, so I‘m all with Tom.  I just pray that he doesn‘t meet someone else on the Eiffel Tower.  You remember how (INAUDIBLE) romantic that was last time.  Tom, please don‘t.  We don‘t need another fake baby in nine months. 

OLBERMANN:  More revelations about that meaning of the name Suri.  It is Rose in Persian, it‘s Princess in Hebrew and it‘s a homonym for Suri in England, which is one of the world headquarters of scientology.  But there are various reports also saying that the more common understanding in Hebrew is evacuate or clear off or scram.  Did sort of a subtle message slip out here via the scientology thing here, the mother ship‘s finally on the way or get out of my or get this baby out of my way or what?

MUSTO:  Well Tom is going with that latter definition which is evacuate or get out of here.  Because when he told everyone, I really fathered a baby this time, they‘re like, get out of here.  There‘s also a musical background to the name Suri, Rogers and Hamerstein, Suri with a friend, Elton John‘s surrey seems to be the hardest word.  Fifth Dimension, can you surrey, can you picnic. 

But I could go on and on.  But whether it means rose or princess or PR tool, this baby will definitely be Suri, very Suri. 

OLBERMANN:  Suri seems to be the hardest word.

MUSTO:  Or who‘s Suri now, Connie Francis.  Like I said, I could go on. 

OLBERMANN:  Speaking of Connie Francis, this woman who appears to be in summer repeats now, Britney Spears worried about the press reaction to possibly having another child so she decided to throw reporters off the scent of this new pregnancy by instead pretending she was just drinking or drunk or something? Where are her priorities here? We‘d rather see her drunk than pregnant?

MUSTO:  It didn‘t work, did it?  It didn‘t throw anybody off.  This is the woman who had the baby on her lap in the car.  Not Kevin, the other baby.  So, when people saw her supposedly pregnant and drinking, nobody said oh she‘d never do anything that irresponsible, they just thought oh she must be pregnant.  She should have thrown us off by doing healthy things, like eating (INAUDIBLE) and drinking soy milk.  But no, Britney never thinks that way, she never takes that leap.

OLBERMANN:  More news about the mom of the year.  She fired her nanny after her son fell from a high chair and then she got this doctor‘s advice on parenting and he told her, his exact quote, “Not to leave Sean on any high surfaces where he could roll off,” according to a source in “In Touch Weekly.”  Spears was so grateful she wanted to hire this doctor full time.  Now, had you previously heard of this breakthrough in child care? Did this guy get a Nobel Prize for discovering that you shouldn‘t leave babies on high surfaces?  I mean who was Britney Spears raised by? Wolves?

MUSTO:  Yes, and not just any ordinary wolves, wolves from the slow school.  In fact when baby Sean fell off that high surface, he and Britney suddenly had something in common, they‘re both brain dead.  Already I hate jokes like that.  I really do.  But look this doctor I think did have a point.  He may not be a Nobel winner, but he had a point, keep the kid away from high things.  Like K. Fed, he‘s high so much of the time.  And I hear what Britney‘s done—what Keith, you want to say something?


MUSTO:  I hear what Britney has—good, because I want to keep going.  What Britney has gotten out of this whole thing is keep the baby in low places, keep it in a ditch or in the basement, in a dungeon or something and just go down once a month, change its nappies.  Or it can just cling on to its bosom.  Once again, I have more to say. 

OLBERMANN:  No, you don‘t, because we‘re out of time.  Keeping with Kevin Federline‘s talent. 

MUSTO:  Oh the baby by the way‘s going to be called Asparagus Spears.

OLBERMANN:  Michael Musto of “The Village Voice.”  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1091st day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, goodnight and good luck.