KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Exhuming the victims of Haditha, the next and grimmest step in the investigation of the alleged Marines atrocity in Iraq.
But a second possible horror at Ishaqi appears to be a propaganda attempt by an insurgent group.
Homeland security, the primary goal of any government? Or our own propaganda attempt, if the administration boasted of foiling a terror plot against the Brooklyn Bridge, then took the bridge off the official list of possible iconic possible terror targets?
Fuel fury, pain at the pump not reserved for the drivers, gas station attendants abused, as if they were the ones who set the prices.
Nobody‘s gone to trial yet, so nobody‘s had to be sketched by the queen of the courtroom artists. Michael Jackson?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was very unusual. It looked kind of unearthly, I would say. I did have to use a light-blue marker in order to indicate the shadows on his face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: By any chance did he borrow that blue marker?
Kevin Federline appears to have borrowed somebody‘s barber. Are his friends borrowing details of his marriage to La Spears to sell them to the tabloids?
And “American Idol” meets Tom cat, they want Katharine McPhee to sing at their wedding. Wouldn‘t that make it Tom cat cat?
And it‘s that time again. Hold onto your buns, get back into shape, and visit Homer Simpson‘s nuclear plant.
It‘s Oddball‘s Plays of the Month.
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
Haditha, Ishaqi, and now Hamandiyah, a third set of allegations that American troops have been k8illing innocent civilians in Iraq.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, seven Marines and a Navy corpsman to be confined at base at California‘s Camp Pendleton in the killing of an Iraqi man near Hamandiyah, which is west of Baghdad, the latest charges coming even as the U.S. military today cleared soldiers in one of the other instances of alleged wrongdoing, the charges there, that American soldiers rounded up and deliberately shot and killed 11 unarmed citizens, five of them children, in the city if Ishaqi last March, and then demolished that building they were in with air strikes to cover their tracks, the Pentagon today clearing all soldiers of the charges, its version of events, that the servicemen were after al Qaeda suspects when they came under heavy fire.
That forced them to fire back and to call in air strikes, military officials admitting two civilian casualties but claiming all were killed accidentally. The BBC, which first broadcast it, says the video of the incident was obtained by the organization from an insurgent group.
Meanwhile, criminal investigators planning to exhume the bodies of Iraqi civilians allegedly gunned down by U.S. Marines last year in the city of Haditha, hoping to recover forensic evidence, the White House press secretary, Tony Snow, doing little to clear up confusion regarding the question, How many of the three investigations about has President Bush been briefed?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I‘m aware of two, two. I am not sure—I do not know that he has been briefed on the allegations that something happened in March in Ishaqi. We do know that—I do know, personally, that he has been briefed on the other two incidents that have been—that have made some headlines in recent days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Let‘s call in MSNBC analyst, retired Army colonel Jack Jacobs.
Thank (INAUDIBLE) -- thanks for your time, Jack.
COL. JACK JACOBS (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: The Ishaqi investigation appears to have been wrapped up remarkably quickly. The pictures of the dead bodies there show what appear to be bullet wounds, they don‘t show signs of bodies being crushed by falling debris, as the military has claimed. Investigation complete, everybody cleared, we don‘t even know if the president was briefed about this one. Does any of that seem questionable to you, or at minimum, perhaps, slapdash?
JACOBS: No, it seems pretty straightforward. Usually, there‘s an after-action report rendered immediately. If the facts, the forensic evidence, doesn‘t indicate anything untoward, then this kind of result is exactly what you see. We don‘t know where those picture came from, and we now know that some information was—came from insurgents—insurgent groups.
The speed with which this was attacked—with which the investigation was wrapped up is really the speed with which all investigations need to be pursued. You got to do it right away, when all the evidence is fresh, come to a conclusion right away, and get it out there as soon as possible.
OLBERMANN: What does that say about Haditha?
JACOBS: Ah, that‘s a different story altogether. The incident apparently happened in November. We know that an investigation wasn‘t begun until February. It‘s now June. Very bad news. Bad news doesn‘t get my better with age. You got to jump on it right away. You got to get ahead of the story, and you‘ve got to either charge somebody, or clear everybody right away.
Otherwise it festers, and you get kicked in the teeth not only for doing something wrong, but for sitting on the story. And I‘m afraid that‘s what‘s going to happen here.
OLBERMANN: Haditha, Ishaqi, Hamandiyah, Abu Ghraib, no matter what the investigations ultimately conclude in each case, perception alone, is it still possible for the U.S. to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people?
JACOBS: Oh, I think we‘re not going to have very much effect one way or the other on the Iraqi people. There‘s a large number of them who like us being there, and there‘s a bunch of them who don‘t want us to be there. Eventually they‘ll all want us to leave. And I don‘t think incidents like this have a—necessarily have an affect one way or the other on the Iraqi people and their view about us and our being there. They have different views about their government, but it doesn‘t have anything to do with us.
On the other hand, I think it does have a deleterious effect on two groups of people. First is the American public, who until now has had a—done a very good job of differentiating between the mission, which they don‘t particularly care for, and the troops who are carrying it out, whom they love. This is liable to erode that.
And secondly, and I think just as badly, it may have a deleterious effect on the morale of the troops themselves, who don‘t like to have bad guys in their midst. And I think it‘s going to have a bad effect on the chain of command as well.
OLBERMANN: In many quarters, Jack, the answer to the hearts and minds questions there and here is, this stuff should not be reported there or here, never mind the issue of the public‘s right to know. Is there a military reason that that solution would not work?
JACOBS: Not dispensing information which is eventually going to come out in any case is a very bad course of action, because it‘s going to come out in the end in any case. The school solution is to make sure things like this don‘t happen. And if they do happen adjudicate them quickly, and to make sure everybody knows that something bad happened, that it‘s being dealt with, and to demonstrate that it is being dealt with as quickly as possible.
Sitting on information like this always has a bad effect. It‘s like a mushroom cloud, it gets bigger and bigger. I don‘t think there‘s any argument that says that there is anything bad from making sure that everybody knows that something bad—if something bad happened, that it‘s being dealt with. It‘s sitting on it that has the bad effect. And I‘m strongly in favor of coming clean as early as possible.
And that‘s not what happened, apparently, in Haditha, and I think it‘s going to come back to be much worse, as a result, the effect is going to be much worse than it otherwise would have been, had they come out in the very beginning, said, Look, something bad happened, we‘re investigating. We don‘t know what happened. As soon as we find out, we‘re going to tell you, and then tell everybody. And that‘s what you‘re supposed to do (INAUDIBLE).
OLBERMANN: One last question, Jack. Is this kind of thing evidence of a fatigue of the military, the overstretched criticism that we keep hearing about the U.S. military in Iraq, in Afghanistan, elsewhere around the world, that we‘re too thin, and it‘s now showing up on the ground?
JACOBS: No, I think that this is a reflection of poor leadership in areas that should always have good leadership. It means that senior commanders are not paying as much attention as they should to the lower levels and making sure that things are done properly, people are schooled properly. It‘s a separate issue altogether. We don‘t have enough troops there, we‘ve never had enough troops there. And we need to have lots more troops there if we‘re ever going to be successful.
OLBERMANN: Retired Army colonel, Medal of Honor recipient, MSNBC‘s Jack Jacobs. As always, sir, great thanks.
JACOBS: Good to be here.
OLBERMANN: While some might argue that President Bush does not appear to have been impacted enough by the war in Iraq, three years of conflict, six long years in office have taken a noticeable toll upon his appearance. Few of us can claim we look now as we did on January 20, 2001, but it has long been noted that every American president seems to leave the White House looking quite a bit more haggard than he did when he went in, our chief Washington correspondent, Norah O‘Donnell, answering the question, Well, wouldn‘t you?
NORAH O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The power of the American presidency is awesome, but the job can take a heavy toll, aging President Bush over the past six years.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: His hair is grayer, his gate is slower.
O‘DONNELL: Physically, he‘s different. For years, he used to run a seven-minute mile, but now rides a mountain bike.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How do you say, Take it easy on the old man?
O‘DONNELL: There are emotional ravages, too, 9/11.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, September 2001)
BUSH: I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: And the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
BESCHLOSS: If you look through history, what has really aged presidents is when they have had to fight a war.
O‘DONNELL: The deaths of American soldiers is a heavy burden. President Lyndon Johnson was crippled by the effects of the Vietnam War as he confided to Jackie Kennedy.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JACQUELINE KENNEDY (on phone): How are you?
LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (on phone): Oh, I‘m harassed to death, and I don‘t know whether I‘m going to survive or not.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL (on camera): Throughout history, occupying the Oval Office has proved hazardous to a president‘s health. It was Harry Truman who called the White House the crown jewel of the federal prison system.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Throughout American history, presidents have died prematurely.
O‘DONNELL (voice-over): Woodrow Wilson was disabled by a stroke after World War I. Dwight Eisenhower suffered two heart attacks in office.
ROBERT GILBERT, AUTHOR, “THE MORTAL PRESIDENCY”: What happens with presidency is that they age about two years for every year they‘re president.
O‘DONNELL: George H.W. Bush played aerobic golf, but was hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat, still today, at 80, skydives.
Bill Clinton was America‘s second-youngest president, energetic, and he even boasted of his love for McDonald‘s.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: French fries and a chicken sandwich.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GILBERT: The Paula Jones problem would not go away for the president, and then the Monica Lewinsky problem, obviously, brought the president to the process of impeachment.
O‘DONNELL: Three and a half years after leaving office, Clinton underwent quadruple bypass surgery. Scholars say what benefits George Bush is faith, family, and exercise.
DR. MICHAEL ROISEN, REALAGE.COM: In Bush‘s case, we know he‘s made some excellent choices. He has a happy marriage, and a purpose in life.
O‘DONNELL: Making Mr. Bush the healthiest president in history, but not enough to slow the graying that comes with the weight of the office.
Norah O‘Donnell, NBC News, Washington.
OLBERMANN: Also here, we have convicted a would-be terrorist to plotting to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge. So why is it no longer on the list of iconic possible terror targets in this country?
And if you fail to win “American Idol,” there‘s a great career path still waiting for you, singing at the wedding of famous Scientologists. No, I‘m not making it up. “American Idol” meets Tom cat.
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Last October, we documented 13 occasions on which terror threat warnings were issued either immediately before or after some political event that seemed to lend credence to the idea that terror threat warnings were not necessarily quite as important or as valid as the administration would have us believe.
Then last February, for the first and only time, President Bush referred to a specific terror threat which he insisted his government had foiled, a 2002 purported plot against the, quote, “Liberty Tower” in Los Angeles. The only problem was, the building was called the Library Tower, and in any event, they had since changed the name of the place.
Now in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, oh, here we go. One of the mere handful of other sites ever specifically identified as the bull‘s-eye of a thwarted terrorist attack has now been removed from the official Homeland Security list of possible national monuments or icons that could be high-value terrorist targets, the Brooklyn Bridge.
It was an al Qaeda target, according to an Ohio trucker, Ayman Faris (ph), who pleaded guilty to conspiracy in May 2003. He had spoken of taking a blowtorch to the bridge‘s suspension cable but concluded the scheme would not work. He is now serving a 20-year sentence.
But in the government‘s latest dispensation of antiterror funds, it looked like the Brooklyn Bridge had been left high and dry. The reason, according to Homeland Security, New York City has no national monuments.
Our correspondent Pete Williams has more on the outrage and the explanation.
PETE WILLIAMS, MSNBC JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York City officials are furious that they took a 40 percent cut this year in homeland security money intended to make big cities safer.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG ®, NEW YORK: I don‘t think there‘s any question. They should have given us a lot more. When you stop a terrorist, they have a map of New York City in their pocket.
WILLIAMS: New Yorkers were especially galled by Homeland‘s finding that the city had zero national monuments or icons, even though it‘s home to the U.N. headquarters, the Statue of Liberty, and landmark bridges.
(on camera): Washington, D.C., also took a 40 percent cut. The police chief said the formula should be different for getting money to the two cities already attacked.
MAYOR ANTHONY WILLIAMS (D), WASHINGTON, D.C.: It doesn‘t take a brain surgeon to figure out that these are two cities that are still at risk, will continue to be at risk for an extended period of time.
WILLIAMS: But Homeland officials say risk wasn‘t the only factor. So was how the money would be spent. New York, they note, wanted it partly to pay police overtime, not considered a long-term improvement. Prominent landmarks, it says, were counted in different categories. And though the Homeland Security secretary was roughed up in the New York papers, he says New York has received over half a billion dollars since the grants began, twice the total of any other city. And, he says, it‘s getting about the same share this year it has, on average, during the past three.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: With New York having done a tremendous amount of improving security, it‘s reasonable to start making sure that other communities which have needs as well get some of the money.
WILLIAMS: Los Angeles is one city getting more, along with Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, Memphis, and Newark. But with total grant dollars cut this year, few believe it‘s enough.
Pete Williams, NBC News, Washington.
OLBERMANN: Something else pertinent to this topic to make your head shake. Any other passengers boarding a Southwest Airlines flight from Midway in Chicago to Kansas City were more than a little surprised when one of them dropped his bullets. The man was a U.S. air marshal traveling incognito on the flight. Or at least that was the plan. You are now free to move about the country—wait, let me pick up my ammo clip.
Also here, lesson number one for wannabe liquor store robbers. Getting in is the easy part. Staying conscious and getting out, you need to worry about.
And while no cameras in the courtroom deprives us of the sight of some celebrity criminals, or at least those on trial, one artist gets to see it all. Her story and her sketches ahead, here on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Like we needed it, more evidence that we‘re old. Charlie Watts, drummer of the Rolling Stones, just turned 65. Jerry Mathers as the Beaver is now 58. And that memorable morning the German tribe the Vandals sacked Rome, 1551 years ago today. Man, time just zips.
Let‘s play Oddball.
And speaking of vandals, we begin at Paul‘s Liquor Store in Fort Worth, Texas, with a rare glimpse of a master cat burglar in action. That was him dropping in. Hello. Thirty-year-old Larry Curtis Beinem (ph) was actually knocked unconscious for five minutes after his magnificent entrance. He then went about the business of robbing the cash register, grabbing himself some smokes, before realizing he had no exit strategy.
Put this man in the cabinet! After some unsuccessful attempts to smash his way out, he sat down on a beer keg with a cig, waited for the police to come get him. He‘s been arrested on burglary charges, but he‘s always sold the movie rights to George Clooney, who‘ll be telling the story of the heist in the upcoming “Oceans Colt .45.”
Now, who‘s going to make this guy‘s movie?
JEFFREY TAN, SINGING CAB DRIVER (singing): (singing in foreign language)
OLBERMANN: It‘s Jeffrey Tan (ph), the Singing Cab Driver of Singapore. Not only does he croon away at the wheel of his Mercedes taxi, he‘s installed a karaoke machine in the car so that passengers, at least those impervious to embarrassment passengers, can do a number or two while the meter‘s running.
Driver, driver, driver, driver. You just missed the turn for the airport, driver. Yes, (INAUDIBLE), taxi, (INAUDIBLE).
Like that? Well, this is your lucky day. Also here, Oddball‘s Plays of the Month. Those are buns.
And it‘s a whole new level of road rage. Drivers pushed over the edge by the price at the pump, taking out their frustration on the easiest target, the gas station attendant.
Those stories ahead.
Now, though, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.
And see if you can see the invisible thread connecting all these.
Number three, an unnamed tax collector in Graz in Austria, went into a bathroom stall there, did his business, got up and left, forgetting to take with him the $28,000 in cash he had left atop the toilet.
Number two, Officer Ioannis Mpletsakis of the Edison, New Jersey, Police Department, admitting at his trial that it was one of the most foolish things he‘s ever done. Went swimming, drove home wearing only his trunks, realized the trunks were damp and would get his car seat wet, so he took them off and drove around naked. One of the most foolish things you‘ve ever done? Tell us more, Officer.
And number one, an unnamed woman on a Pittsburgh street. First she spat at a passerby, then she appeared at a newsstand, brandishing a hubcap. Then, when asked to leave, she ripped off her own clothes and darted into traffic, but not before she shoplifted a bag of peanuts.
(singing): Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don‘t.
OLBERMANN: Given that ExxonMobil has just announced it will fight a government claim that the oil giant should pay another $92 million in long-term environmental damages for the 1989 drunk-boating disaster that was the “Exxon Valdez,” anger directed at big oil over high gas prices and higher gas profits is understandable.
But anger directed at the woman sitting behind the cash register, or at the guy handling the pump?
Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, gas station attendants and cashiers saying more and more people hurting in the wallet are now hurting them.
Our correspondent in Los Angeles is Peter Alexander.
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gas clerks all across the country taking the heat for people‘s pain at the pump.
EDWIN PORTILLO, GAS CLERK: They call us hogs. That we don‘t have, you know, the money.
WARUNA ARAWGODA, GAS STATION MANAGER: They throw it at us, you make all the money, we don‘t have money now.
ALEXANDER: They‘ve been sworn at, spit at, even threatened, the victims of gas rage aimed at big oil. But is it fair?
MANTILL WILLIAMS, AAA SPOKESMAN: The reality is these rising prices are due mainly to two factors, the price of crude oil and also the cost of refining. And the servicemation absolutely no control over those two things.
ALEXANDER: In Manhattan Beach, California one station owner is trying to diffuse tempers with a gallon of humor.
(on camera): The fact is for gas stations, the profit margin at the pump is so low, they make more money selling 12 ounce up of coffee than they to a 12 gallon fill-up.
(voice-over): As gas prices has risen, so has crime. At places where you can pump before you pay, gas thefts have skyrocketed, more than doubling in some cities in the last two months, with thieves driving off, leaving the bill behind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s like a $70 drive-off, you know, that‘s a huge loss right there, that‘s like five or six hours worth of sales.
ALEXANDER: In Austin, Texas, surveillance cameras caught one man allegedly stealing hundreds of gallons from ungrounded tanks. Still, serious crimes aren‘t nearly as common as the recent onslaught of insults.
STEWART BENNETT, CUSTOMER: I think it‘s misplaced aggression. I mean, you know, you get angry at work and you come home and you yell at your kids. I mean, they‘re the first person you see; you associate them with the anger.
ALEXANDER: So, as fuel fury hits this summer, gas station clerks have this reminder, don‘t blame the messenger.
Peter Alexander, NBC News, Los Angeles.
OLBERMANN: So far none of the fuel fury folks have wound up in court, but if they do, they may meet Mona Edwards. O.J. Simpson has. So too Farrah Fawsett, not to mention Snoop Dogg. If there is a celebrity trial and there‘s no TV coverage, Ms. Edwards at it. And without here, we‘d have to guess what it all looks like. COUNTDOWN‘s senior criminal justice and arts supplies correspondent, Monica Novotny joins us now to explain—
MONICA NOVOTNY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Keith, they are the ultimate legal insiders, courtroom artists who spend their days working side by side up close and personal with judges, attorneys, and when they‘re in Los Angeles, of course, lots of celebrities.
MONA SCHAEFFER EDWARDS, SKETCH ARTIST: I see the underbelly of a society and sometimes the most horrific things that people do.
NOVOTNY (voice-over): And as their day of reckoning draws near, she draws them. Mona Schaeffer Edwards, a Los Angeles-based courtroom sketch artist for 25 years, witness to countless celebrity trials and the odd characters who play starring roles, like Michael Jackson being sued by a production company back in 1996.
EDWARDS: He looked very different. He had a different nose and his hair was different.
NOVOTNY: By 2005, even his skin was different.
EDWARDS: It was very unusual. It was kind of unearthly, I would say. I had to use a light blue marker in order to indicate the shadows on his face.
NOVOTNY: And then more blue for the Jackson jammies.
EDWARDS: was the entire picture that just looked so bizarre.
NOVOTNY: And though a courtroom artist can‘t a see a defendant‘s eyes, Edwards looks to the hands, like O.J. Simpson‘s first during testimony at his 1997 civil trial.
EDWARDS: He was talking about the pleasant times, he used to wrestle with her, and when he said wrestle, he had clenched fists. Clenched fists don‘t usually mean playful wrestling with your wife.
NOVOTNY: Robert Blake on trial with his murder of his wife, doing different things with his hands in 2004.
EDWARDS: He told me that he learned water color in the cement box, as he calls it, in prison and that some of the other inmates had Skittles, if you put water or saliva, you can take off the color.
NOVOTNY: For Winona Ryder in 2002, it was less about the hands and more about the fingers—sticky fingers, after she was convicted on charges of grand theft and vandalism.
EDWARDS: Some of the garments that she had taken had the security tags. She had large circles cut out from a sweater, so it was not wearable at all.
NOVOTNY: And as Courtney Love spent more time in front of judges 2004, she morphed from rock star with a guitar to school girl with a question.
EDWARDS: She became a little more concerned about what was going on and that it wasn‘t just a music video or something. She even held her hand up like she was asking for permission to speak.
NOVOTNY: For other, like Anna Nicole Smith, speaking in court is best left to the experts.
EDWARDS: I don‘t think she came across as a Mensa member. She was very breathy. She is just like a big blowup doll.
NOVOTNY: But no matter how well know the defendant, the sheen of celebrity ultimately dulls in the eyes of the court.
EDWARDS: She was arrogant and came into court and sort of laughing and winking and waving to her friends and her fans. And when the judge denied bail, she pretty much collapsed on the council table.
NOVOTNY: The scales of justice serving as the ultimate equalizer.
EDWARDS: Somebody who‘s very famous can walk in and they realize it‘s not a set and the judge is not an actor, and the judge can wield power and it sticks.
NOVOTNY: Edwards works with markers and pens drawing anywhere from two to eight sketches per day, depending on the trial. Now, she tries to finish a sketch within three minutes, she says, so she can really capture the moment. These artists, of course, make their money by selling the right to broadcast or print their images to the media, but often, Edwards says, a celebrity or an attorney will actually buy the original sketches from her as a souvenir. In fact, she said the first time it happened to her was Dolly Patron during a trial in the ladies room. She stopped her and asked her if she could buy one and wrote out a check right there.
OLBERMANN: See, because you trade those in the stir, in the concrete box, you can trade them for a lot of cigarettes. Or Skittles.
NOVOTNY: Or Skittles.
OLBERMANN: COUNTDOWN‘s Monica Novotny. Great thanks.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of celebrities, is K-Fed more than just a sponge? Could he be a leaker too? A leaker sponge? And breaking Tomkat news, guess who they want singing at their wedding? Yeah, like there‘s going to be a wedding. Those stories ahead, now here‘s a special edition of COUNTDOWN‘s “Top 3 Sound Bites” of this d-a-y.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Collyrium.
CAITLIN CAMPBELL, SPELLING BEE CONTESTANT: Collyrium?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Collyrium.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Collyrium.
CAMPBELL: Collyrium? Collyrium?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shalto (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shalto? I have no clue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hachure (ph).
SARYN HOOKS, SPELLING BEE CONTESTANT: Excuse me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hachure (ph).
HOOKS: Heck sure?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hachure (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the judges made not have heard exactly what she said.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they‘re saying no. And this spelling bee is buzzing. We made a mistake. You spelled the word direct correctly. Would you please take your seat?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ursparche.
KATHARINE CLOSE, SPELLING BEE CONTESTANT: Ursparche, u-r-s-p-r-a-c-h-e, Ursparche.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is correct.
OLBERMANN: Her wedding invite is on eBay, her husband‘s selling secrets, and just what the heck is a manny? Michael Musto helps decipher the latest sagas from Britney Spears, ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: The tabloids just love to conflate names. Jennifer Lopez becomes J-Lo, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck become Bennifer, Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck also Bennifer, evidently in preference to Garfleck;
Britney Spears‘ husband, Kevin Federline was reduced to K-Fed and of course, there‘s no hesitation extending the gimmick to words which really should be just left alone.
Thus in our No. 2 story in the COUNTDOWN, Britney Spears‘ male nanny becomes the B.S. manny. Ms. Spears has hired the manny, so says London‘s “Daily Mail,” to help her with her 8-month-old son, Sean Preston, the nanny‘s is Perry—Perry the manny nanny. He is also a trained body guard and may perform tasks that require more brawn, like keeping photographers at bay, unloading the groceries from Ms. Spears‘ SUV and convincing her to keep the flippin‘ kid in the car seat. Maybe he can get to the bottom of who is leaking stories about the family.
Ms. Spears suspects, dun, dun, dun, Mr. Federline, his own self. She believes K-Fed is feeding his friends information, according to “Us Weekly” so those friends can sell the stories to tabloids for cash. Everybody‘s got to make a living. Meanwhile, a wedding invitation, speaking of cash, to the Spears-Federline nuptials of September 18, 2004 has turned up on eBay with a low-low starting bid of $999.99, being sold by a guest at that wedding through a broker, name not disclosed.
Of course, rumors about the couple‘s demise slither around like snakes on a plane. She‘s dumping him, he‘s leaving her, blah, blah, blah. Coincidentally or not, Federline certainly cleaned up. “Item” magazine revealing the new K-Fed. K-Fed do. Supposedly as part of his record release coming in August. I can‘t say another bit about this story without first calling in “Village Voice” columnist, Michael Musto.
Thanks for your time, Michael.
MICHAEL MUSTO, “VILLAGE VOICE”: Hi Keith.
OLBERMANN: So a male manny, manny the mail nanny news. This has been brewing for days now, tabloids using the manny to take another dig at the parenting skills, or lack, there of, of Ms. Spears, remind us that Mr. Federline isn‘t around much anymore. Might we really need to give her some credit for doing this?
MUSTO: Yeah, cut her a break. Britney actually ordered a mammy, like in “Gone with the Wind,” they misunderstood. No, no, actually she did want a nanny and they actually sent Jude Law‘s nanny, she had a sex change and she‘s going after Britney. She‘s crazy. No, no, this is a manny and he‘s terrific, he shaves, he showers, he bathes, he changes K-Fed‘s diapers every once in a while, and he‘s not K-Fed, and Britney is K-Fed up, get it?
OLBERMANN: All right, so he has taken these new photos, where he‘s gotten his first haircut and shave in several years and he defends himself, telling “Item” magazine, listen to this, “I should just put a bull‘s-eye on my back. If I stay home and take care of my wife and my kids then I‘m a loafer, not a good father. If I try to have a career nobody thinks I‘m caring for my family. I can‘t win.” Is he—could we be defending him now, too.
MUSTO: Yeah, it‘s really pathetic. The bull‘s-eye‘s already there, Britney put it there, but first of all I think the photos are great. It‘s amazing what one shower every five years can do. You look like a used car salesman. But yeah, he‘s doing that old “poor me” defense, like “oh, you know, I went after a celebrity to mooch off her name and now people are saying I went after a celebrity to mooch off her name.” It‘s pathetic.
OLBERMANN: Here‘s another choice quote here from this, and it‘s about his children. “My kids are going to have to learn what a real job is, what life is. You don‘t have it easy with me. Period. My kids are going to work at Taco Bell, dammit.”
Now, you know all fathers want their kids to have more successful careers than they themselves did, But Taco Bell, is Mr. Federline aiming a little high there?
MUSTO: I actually think that‘s kind of sweet, because he wants the family to stay together, and who are the kids going to serve at Taco Bell? The No. 1 customers, Britney and K-Fed. Come on, they‘re going to super-size everything. The kids‘ll get bonuses. But, Kevin‘s main motive is make the sure the kids are busy working so they don‘t write the telltale book, “Trailer Trash Dearest.”
OLBERMANN: And if all his kids got together, of course, they could write the Encyclopedia Britannica, their own version of that, but that‘s another story.
OLBERMANN: And Ms. Spears is reported to suspect her husband as the source of the leaks about the family. The claim in “Us Weekly” was that when she decided to announce her pregnancy on Letterman‘s program, she did not tell Federline because she was he was going to spoil it, tell his buddies first. Not that Kevin Federline can be easily defended, mind you, but would his friend be that hard up for cash?
MUSTO: Well, Kevin doesn‘t really hang out with a swell crowd. He doesn‘t hang out at the Algonquin, as it were, his friends are pretty—they‘re pretty low. They‘re like, I know the white rapper who married the ex-mouseketeer. They aim pretty low, themselves. And they‘re so dumb, actually that it takes them an hour and a half to watch “60 Minutes,” you know? And there‘s so cheap that they‘re waiting for the Bible to come out in paperback. Thank you Joey Adda (ph), but look, K-Fed isn‘t going to let his friends line up and do Britney, but he will let them line up and screw her over.
OLBERMANN: Ah. I just got this vision of the roundtable of Alexander Wolcott and James Thurber and Kevin Federline.
MUSTO: K-Fed with the cornrows.
OLBERMANN: The wedding invitation that‘s up for bid on eBay, and you get, if you buy this thing, a candle from one of the tables at the wedding. This guest apparently pocketed that, kept the invitation. Is it more newsworthy that this is up for auction, or that the auction started Tuesday and nobody‘s bid on it yet? Not even that first husband, Alexander guy.
MUSTO: Oh, Jason, well he‘s already got an invite. No, the real story here is that it‘s K-Fed who put this up on eBay, I believe and now he‘s thinking, how am I going to get an invite? And how am I going to get a candle, I‘m not invited. His plan was to actually make money and use it to take out ads space on milk cartons and say missing, bad hair, where are my cornrows?
OLBERMANN: But now he‘s got a good picture for it if he goes and does that, right?
MUSTO: Well, used car man picture, right.
OLBERMANN: Well, it‘s better than just looking used. The incomparable Michael Musto, who‘s always more interesting, thank you, than the stories themselves. Great thanks for joining us as always.
MUSTO: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Now, I need a shower after too much Kevin Federline. Continuing on with the celebrity and entertainment news now, with the stories of “Keeping Tabs.”
And what is the first things parents should sure to buy their newborn child? For Brangelina they bought the kids‘ domain names. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie‘s attorney reportedly snapped up at least three URLs containing the name of young Shiloh Pitt, as she will later be teased, Pile O‘ -- never mind. shilohnouveljolie-pitt.com, shilopitt.com, and shilohnouvel.com. This an effort to keep others from using the names to set up websites such as the one at suricruise.com. Tom and Katie missed the boat on that one and now that website is a big countdown until Suri is, as they say, legal.
Perhaps at this moment, that couple has too much on its minds, if any, to be concerned with websites leering at their 2-month-old. They‘ve got a wedding to plan. No word yet on the table favors, but internet reports say the couple has already decided on a wedding singer and it‘s not Joe Bouchard from Blue Oyster Cult” One of our producers actually had Joe Bouchard from Oyster Cult at his wedding. Class all the way!
Anyway, it‘s Katharine McPhee from “American Idol.” Tomkat‘s new favoritest singer, ever. The report says that Kat Holmes met Kat McPhee and the L.A. Church of Scientology and the two became fast friends, so close they almost always sit next to each other on the spaceship. It is not known if the singer accepted the offer to do the Cruise wedding, but it‘s already one more job gig that that slob Taylor what‘s-his-face is never going to get.
And finally, insult to injury for the dearly departed Veto from the “Soprano‘s” he‘s being sued by a diet pill company. The maker of “Stacker2” diet pills is filing suit claiming that actor Joseph Danacoli (ph) never held up his end of a $300,000 promotional deal while playing a gay mobster on the HBO hit. The president of NBE Supplements said, quote, “He was very difficult to work with all the time. We had to bend over backward to accommodate him.” You know, that‘s a just uncalled for, brother.
Maybe he could take some weight loss tips from this fellow. Put your back into it. Just part of the “Oddball Plays of the Month” ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s list of nominees for “Worst Person in the World.”
The bronze, Richard Johnson, editor of the “New York Post‘s” scandal section, page six, he‘s been arrested. The silver—oh, I‘m sorry, there was a reason they arrested him, not just on general principle? Oh, DUI? And he refused to take a breath test? And his image didn‘t show up in the mirror, either? OK.
Runner up, Alan Hevesi, comptroller of the state of New York got up to praise Senator Chuck Schumer at the commencement at Queen‘s College and Mr. Hevesi said of him, quote, “The man who, how do I phrase this diplomatically, will put a bullet between the president‘s eyes if he could get away with it.” That‘s how you phrase it diplomatically? Hevesi quickly apologized. That may not be enough in this case, sir.
But our winner, Jimmy Baltista (ph) a sleepy cabdriver in Quezon City in the Philippines, not seeing the vehicle that had broken down in the middle of a highway because of a flat tire, Baltista slammed his taxi into it, the stranded vehicle was a hearse transporting a body in the casket. The impact sent the casket flying out of the hearse, sent the corpse flying out of the casket into traffic, where the dead man was run over by traffic. Cabdriver Jimmy Baltista (ph) of the Quezon City, the Philippines, today‘s “Worst Person in the World.”
OLBERMANN: More than three years ago, I took a solemn oath to bring you the news, not without subjectivity, for that is impossible, but always without an agenda and as often as possible, with a story about a bear, preferably a bear with a jug stuck on its head. It‘s that time again. That news hour in which we pay back our debt to the outer regions of society to those who know there are no victims, only volunteers. Our No. 1 story, it‘s that time again, The “Oddball Plays of the Month.”
(voice-over): We begin in Caracas, Venezuela.
We begin in Cadillaca (ph) Delacruz, Spain.
We begin outside Caesar‘s Palace where you know what they say, come to Las Vegas, we won‘t hassle you for wearing a cape.
We begin with another installment of the award winning series “575 Reasons why Japanese TV is better than ours.”
No. 126, a walrus doing sit-ups. Look at him go! Come on, elbows to the knees, you fat bastard.
Here‘s something you never want to see at a nuclear power plant. And another student fails chemistry.
It‘s a bear, a bear with a big jug on its head. It‘s 10 days since this poor fellow got his pumpkin stuck in the jug. Since then he‘s been helplessly roaming the mountain hungry, thirsty, confused. Locals knew there was only one thing they could do. It was time to call in the bear whisperer. Oh, that‘s better.
Ray, kite surfing.
Get a load of this guy‘s huge sausage.
Here she is, Mrs. Kimono Dragon.
Excuse me, coming through, pardon me, pardon me. Excuse me. Pardon me.
To Otongo (ph), Mexico for the annual Donkey Day Festival. Donkey Day! Hope you remember to send a card.
Here‘s a big robot elephant.
Hey, look at all those hot dogs.
This is a hamster. Quite possibly the world‘s fastest hamster. Look at him go! Yeah roll—oh boy.
It‘s the brain cap. Researchers at the University of Attenborough say that talent is not necessary. Your brain waves are enough to compose beautiful music. They demonstrated with a display of the music that was in this guy‘s head.
(SINGING): Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, banana phone. Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, banana phone.
OK, we made up part of that.
(SINGING): I got this feeling, so appealing. So, let‘s get together and sing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
(SINGING): Ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, banana phone.
OLBERMANN: In London, home of that wacky protest group and “Oddball” staple, Fathers for Justice, it had reportedly disbanded, but as anyone turning into the BBC to get the latest lottery numbers Saturday night now knows, it appears to be back.
We can try and keep going if can here, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). There‘s a gentlemen, who is going to disappear rather quickly.
OLBERMANN: In Sole where a crowd has gathered at the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology to see this woman reveal an amazing new robot. Holy crap! She is a robot! Run!
Hope, finally, of curing America‘s addiction to oil. No, the government has not decided to stop subsidizing the oil company. (LAUGHING) Don‘t be silly.
No, I‘m talking about these guys and their car that runs on cow crap.
Look at it go.
And now this guy won‘t pull over. Can you believe it? Checking the scoreboard for the year, we see no one ever gets away, it‘s cops 27, guys who try to escape the cops, nothing. But that does not stop this out of control desperado in his Silverado from tearing through suburban neighborhood at breakneck speeds. It‘s not until his front tire and the road runs out before the car chase is over and the foot chase begins. Look at him run! Right into the nearby Shepard‘s Mall, ironically the same place where he bought the undershirt.
Let‘s go to Tokyo where a leading Japanese audio expert says his machine can tell us what Leonardo da Vinci‘s Mona Lisa sounded like.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, god, Leo. How long do I have to sit here?
And this dress is so itchy and these shoes! Oh, they‘re killing me.
OLBERMANN: We begin in Athens, Greece for the international singing competition that makes “American Idol” look like karaoke night in Nutley, New Jersey. Past winners here include ABBA, Celine Dion hanging from a wire, this year it‘s these guys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a victory for rock music and also it was a victory for open mindedness.
OLBERMANN: Never trust a zombie who wants to open your mind. Brains!
OLBERMANN: That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,128 day since the declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. Also, this reminder to join us again at midnight Easter tonight, 11:00 p.m. Central, 9:00 pacific for the latest edition of COUNTDOWN. Until then a special presentation of “Lockup: Inside L.A. County.”
I‘m Keith Olbermann, a quick note we‘ll see you again Monday with more on Bill O‘Reilly and Malmedy. Goodnight and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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.