Guests: Jim Callis
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
How can we miss you if you won‘t go away?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM DELAY ®, TEXAS: You show me a nation without partisanship, and I‘ll show you a tyranny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In that spirit, evidently, the Democrats are trying to keep Tom DeLay‘s name on the ballot in Texas. Delay says a lot as he leaves Congress.
Why are virtually no Republicans saying anything about the Connecticut screech, about her having slimed 9/11 widows who disagree with her politics? Congressman Emanuel of Illinois asks them, does Ann Coulter speak for you? Why wouldn‘t Rudy Giuliani‘s office even offer a statement?
New statements on the death of Zarqawi. The Pentagon says he was after alive after the bombing run, briefly. The terrorists say they will avenge his death.
The biggest names in the baseball drug scandal, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Albert Pujols? Try Chris Mihlfeld, personal trainer to the pitcher who admits to using human growth hormone, and personal trainer to the brightest star of the national league. But Mihlfeld says he‘s clean, Pujols is clean, and he knows nothing about Jason Grimsley using hormones for training, even though Grimsley admitted he used them for training, and Mihlfeld was his trainer.
And can we get a trainer for Paris Hilton? You might be able to buff that out. Or you could just rub a hamburger on it.
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
In one of the all-time great pieces of political satire, the comedians Bob and Ray cut to the speech of the defeated candidate for mayor of Skunk Haven, New Jersey, who promptly told his audience that he knew that after the winner had been in office for a little while, people would come up to him and say, We made a mistake, you would have been better. Won‘t you please run again?
“And you know what I‘ll say then?” Ray Goulding asked. “Nuts! You had your chance, and you blew it.”
In our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, that something like that should have enveloped the last day of Tom DeLay. It should perhaps Not have been a surprise, but that it should have been provided by the Democrats perhaps was.
They are petitioning the Texas courts to stop the GOP from naming DeLay‘s successor, ostensibly a procedural complaint that would obviously also keep his name, and therefore the inevitable whip of his corruption, tied to the upcoming elections.
As to DeLay himself, he employed his final appearance on the House floor to deliver less a Nuts! than a benediction, praising the conservative movement and agenda and extolling the virtues of the partisan politics which he worked to furiously to protect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DELAY: You show me a nation without partisanship, and I‘ll show you a tyranny. For all its faults, it is partisanship, based on core principles, that clarifies our debates, that prevents one party from straying too far from the mainstream, and that constantly refreshes our politics with new ideas and new leaders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: So partisanship clarifies debates, keeps things mainstream, and opens the world to new ideas. Or, it can turn you in to Ann Coulter, or to those endorsing her by their silence, which seems to be every Republican politician except two New Yorkers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “TODAY”)
MATT LAUER, HOST: This part is the part I really need to talk to you about. “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities, and stalked by grief-arazzis. I‘ve never seen people enjoying their husbands‘ death so much.”
ANN COULTER: Yes.
LAUER: Because they dare to speak out?
COULTER: To speak out using the fact that they‘re widows. This is the left‘s doctrine of infallibility. If they have a point to make about the 9/11 commission, about how to fight the war on terrorism, how about spending in somebody we‘re allowed to respond to? No, no, no. We always have to respond to someone who just had a family member die—
LAUER: (INAUDIBLE) people in the middle of the story?
COULTER: ... because then if we respond -- Oh, you‘re questioning their authenticity. No, the story is...
LAUER: So grieve, but grieve quietly.
COULTER: No, the story is an attack on the nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COULTER: If people are going to use a personal tragedy in their lives to inject themselves into a national debate, I‘m sorry, you can‘t just say, Yes, we‘re off limits. Oh, now we‘re going to invoke the fact that our husbands died, and you can‘t criticize us.
They were specifically using their husbands‘ deaths and there were, gosh, hundreds, in fact...
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: That doesn‘t mean they‘re enjoying it...
COULTER: ... thousands (INAUDIBLE)...
CARLSON: ... I mean, (INAUDIBLE) home at night, and their husband‘s gone, and their kids are there, and where‘s Dad, and it‘s, jeez, it‘s so depressing.
COULTER: Yes, and so are the thousands of widows who are not cutting campaign commercials for Clinton. These women got paid, they ought to take their money and shut up about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: No elected Republicans have rushed to echo her, but plenty of unelected ones have. Former White House adviser Mary Matalin, “People run around calling us extra-chromosome and Hitlers and Nazis, and nobody says anything. She calls someone a harpy and you‘d think that the whole world‘s on fire.”
Radio host Glenn Beck, “What she said about the 9/11 wives, right, she‘s right. Those, those four women that she is specifically addressing, she‘s right about. Can‘t you say those things? Just because you lost somebody in a tragedy doesn‘t mean that you get a free pass for the rest of your life.”
Republican strategist Karen Hanratty, “These are not just any old ordinary four widows, mind you. That should also be pointed out. These are political activists who have gone after—they have attacked Condoleezza Rice.”
Republican strategist Jack Burkman, quote, “These women exploited the deaths of their husbands. That‘s what they did. They did it, they did it before the bodies were cold.”
That remark, in particular, ringing a little hollow. On the morning of September 13, 2001, literally before the bodies were cold, when the pyre still burned at the World Trade Center, Coulter wrote a column about her friend among the victims at the Pentagon, the Republican attorney Barbara Olson. After 10 paragraphs about Ms. Olson, Coulter wrote, “This is no time to be precious about locating the exact individuals directly involved in this particular terrorist attack. Those responsible include anyone, anywhere in the world who smiled in response to the annihilation of patriots like Barbara Olson.”
And she concluded, “We should have invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity.”
Using that relationship to a victim to advocate a viewpoint was OK. Making money, reveling in status, appearing on TV, enjoying a death, to use Coulter‘s own term, that was OK. But the actual widows of victims are not entitled.
There has been backlash. The manager of a Long Island bookstore says he may have made a mistake when he invited Coulter to sign copies of her book there. There were protests.
And two New York Republicans did speak up. Governor George Pataki wrote, “I was really stunned, and I don‘t think it‘s all fair or accurate.”
And Republican Representative Peter King, who has himself criticized the 9/11 widows from New Jersey, called Coulter disgraceful and said her words, quote, “went beyond all limits of decency.”
But from the rest of his peers on Capitol Hill, the Republican silence is, as the cliche goes, deafening. Not a word of support, not a word of condemnation, either, prompting Democrats to now ask whether Ann Coulter is the new spokesperson for the GOP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: Lest Ms. Coulter forget, more than 3,00 Americans were killed simply because they lived in the United States. That doesn‘t matter to Ms. Coulter, because she‘s doing it to enrich herself.
But there‘s something more sinister in Ms. Coulter‘s words. The hate she spews is the same kind of hatred we‘re battling in the war on terror. As a country of thought and reason, I urge all of us to reject it. And I must ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, does Ann Coulter speak for you when she suggests poisoning not Supreme Court justices or slanders the 9/11 windows—widows?
If not, speak now. Your silence allows her to be your spokesman. She should apologize to all of us who‘ve lost our fellow citizens on 9/11.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: John Kerry echoing that sentiment in an op-ed at the Huffington Post, exhorting the public to, quote, “make her a liability, and test whether the GOP is ashamed of Ann Coulter or just embarrassed by her.”
So Ann Coulter, political issue. Are the Republicans wise to stay quiet? Are the Democrats trying to turn her into Tom DeLay‘s successor as unofficial lightning rod?
I‘m joined now by Huffington Post contributor and political analyst Lawrence O‘Donnell.
As always, sir, thanks for your time.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Great to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Could the Kerry-Emanuel strategy here pay off? Do you think most Americans are as incensed as they seem to be?
O‘DONNELL: Well, I don‘t think most Americans know about this story yet. It was huge in New York City, obviously, to cover the—the cover of “The New York Daily News,” and I don‘t think Ann would be all that safe in signing books in a Manhattan bookstore at this point. But I don‘t think it‘s penetrated in most of the other media markets in the country.
But the Democrats would love, would really love, Ann to step forward and become the Michael Moore of the Republican side. If they could possibly label her and use her as much as the Republicans used Michael Moore in the last election, they would love to. It‘s just she really hasn‘t, despite all of her coverage, including “TIME” magazine cover and all that, she hasn‘t really made it up quite to the Michael Moore level.
And so it‘s not an easy reference to make, except in the most liberal precincts, where you don‘t need to say anything to get the liberals on the side of the Democrats.
OLBERMANN: Well, it‘s kind of an uneven fight there. She‘s not as talented as Michael Moore, and she‘s not as attractive. But it does seem extraordinary that nobody from the Republican Party except Governor Pataki, and Representative King spoke out in response. Rudy Giuliani‘s office wouldn‘t give us a statement, despite repeated requests. (INAUDIBLE)...
O‘DONNELL: Well, Giuliani specifically, Keith, Giuliani is in the very tightest box here of anybody. As we know, the Giuliani political career was going very, very badly as of September 10. On September 11, he instantly became a gigantic political hero in the United States and has been ever since. And he has never given a public speech since where he hasn‘t referred to 9/11 or he hasn‘t referred to the widows of 9/11 and the widowers of 9/11, people who‘ve lost families. And he is close to a lot of those people, quite legitimately.
For him to be absolutely silent on this means he is running for the Republican nomination for the presidency. He is the most liberal candidate to run for the Republican nomination in as long as we can remember, certainly since Nelson Rockefeller. He must not appear to be liberal. He must not do anything at this point to separate himself from a right-wing extremist like Ann Coulter, because that‘s exactly what the right wing of his party expects him to do.
So his silence is particularly deafening on this, because he is the guy who would rush to the microphone to condemn this kind of language if it was coming from anywhere but the Republican right wing.
OLBERMANN: A question about hypocrisy on a big scale here. Ann Coulter criticized the widows for using their husbands. On 9/13, she clearly used Barbara Olson as a reason—as an excuse for saying we should incinerate much of the Middle East. I never agreed with a word Barbara Olson said politically, but I liked her personally. I saw the baseball she signed that sits on my office desk, and I can‘t imagine using her name in that kind of extreme way.
But given that, is there not, then, a second level of hypocrisy in making Ann Coulter into the political football? I mean, if you recoil from her attempt to silence the widows, don‘t you also have to recoil from an attempt to silence her?
O‘DONNELL: Well, I don‘t think there‘s been an attempt to silence her. I mean, I mean, look at this corporation that we‘re appearing under today. I mean, she was on the “TODAY” show. She was on the biggest-rated news vehicle that NBC News has. And there‘s no attempt to silence her.
When Hillary Clinton came out to criticize Ann Coulter, it was not to silence her, it was simply to criticize and disagree with what she said. Ann stepping out the way she did was a lucky thing for Hillary Clinton, because Hillary too needs to appeal to the left side of her party, having made some moves in the last few months that have bothered the left side of her party.
And so Ann is used now in politics simply as a way to identify who you are. In other words, if you‘re condemning Ann Coulter, then you must be comfortable with the left side of the Democratic Party. And so she‘s going to become very useful as time goes on this way.
But please, Keith, do not make the mistake of taking Ann Coulter seriously. She does fancy herself something of a comedian, a political comedian, and when you press her on a lot of these things, you find out that what‘s really underneath it is the intent to make a joke. Now, it s a joke that generally works only with the extreme right wing of the Republican Party. But she doesn‘t mean a great deal of what she says.
OLBERMANN: She‘s a barrel of laughs. I guess that‘s when they—when she came on the air with the eye patch during the Clinton thing, because she couldn‘t stay away from the Clinton story for a week and had the conjunctivitis and had to wear the eye patch. I guess that was funny too.
The political analyst at Huffington Post, contributor Lawrence O‘Donnell, who has never appeared in an eye patch. Great thanks for joining us.
O‘DONNELL: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: He did look remarkably whole for someone who died under 1,000 pounds‘ worth of explosive. Now it turns out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi actually survived the U.S. air strike, at least for a while.
And a link between acknowledged drug user Jason Grimsley and perhaps the all-star slugger Albert Pujols. They shared a personal trainer. But now that trainer denies any involvement in or any knowledge of anything illegal.
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Initial DNA testing at the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Virginia, has confirmed that it was indeed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi killed in a U.S. air strike Wednesday dinnertime in Iraq. Turns out, though, that technically, killed in a U.S. air strike might not be a completely accurate cause of death.
Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, while his cohorts have vowed revenge for Zarqawi‘s death, new information from the Pentagon about when that death did and did not take place.
Our correspondent there is, of course, Jim Miklaszewski. Jim?
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Keith, initial reports indicated that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed instantly in that U.S. air strike. But U.S. military officials were left scrambling today to explain that wasn‘t the case.
(voice-over): In the air strike aimed at Zarqawi, two 500-pound bombs leveled this safe house. But somehow, Zarqawi initially managed to survive. In fact, for the first time today, the U.S. military revealed Zarqawi may have even tried to escape.
MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM B. CALDWELL, SPOKESMAN, MULTINATIONAL FORCES IN
IRAQ: Zarqawi attempted to sort of turn away, off the stretcher. They—everybody resecured him back onto the stretcher, but he died almost immediately thereafter, from the wounds he had received from this air strike.
MIKLASZEWSKI: Near death, Zarqawi also attempted to speak.
CALDWELL: He mumbled a little something, but it was indistinguishable on that, and it was very short.
MIKLASZEWSKI: But how could anyone have survived such a devastating blast? Military officials say it‘s possible Zarqawi was shielded by a wall, or even outside the safe house.
CALDWELL: There are cases when people, in fact, can survive even an attack like that on a building structure.
MIKLASZEWSKI: It was also revealed today that military commanders were so concerned Zarqawi might escape, the air strike was ordered in such a rush that only one F-16 made it to the target. The other was left still taking on fuel from a tanker.
There are also new details today about how the U.S. military found Zarqawi. Military officials tell NBC News U.S. special operations forces captured an al Qaeda courier Yusufiyah in April. The courier identified Zarqawi‘s spiritual adviser, Abu al-Rahman, who eventually led U.S. forces to Zarqawi.
At the same time, U.S. government officials, present and former, tell NBC News there was never any thought of taking Zarqawi alive. According to one official, the goal was to cut off the head of al Qaeda in Iraq by killing Zarqawi.
ROGER CRESSEY, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: In the case of Zarqawi‘s network, when you eliminate him, the people underneath him are not as talented, not as capable. So this may set back the organization‘s capability.
MIKLASZEWSKI (on camera): But there was another reason. U.S. officials tell NBC News in the past year, special forces commandos came close to getting Zarqawi more than 10 times. And they decided the next time they had him in their sights, they‘d take the shot, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Jim Miklaszewski at the Pentagon. Great thanks.
Zarqawi now in a DNA database. Thousands of criminals in New York aren‘t. Now, the push is on to put everyone convicted of a crime into that system, even if they‘ve only been charged or found guilty of a misdemeanor.
And what do you think these folks need, medical attention? You know, if you get a pole stuck in you, you can get it removed nowadays.
And human growth hormone will clear up those scars right quick.
Ahead on COUNTDOWN, despite my better judgment.
OLBERMANN: On June 19, 1931, or 1930, the gifted comedian Jackie Mason was born. There‘s one noticeable blight on his otherwise stellar artistic resume, his role in the movie “Caddyshack 2.” Watching it, especially if you cherish the original “Caddyshack,” has been compared to like having to walk down a street in India with a four-foot metal rod sticking through your mouth.
On that note, let‘s play Oddball.
We begin in the country to which we outsource more odd news than any other place on earth, India. And it‘s the annual piercing festival of Firu Perankudam (ph), the village that can only be properly pronounced if you‘ve got a four-foot metal rod sticking through your mouth. The celebration of the birthday of a lord, Lord Maruga (ph), who is a tough, tough guy.
Hundreds of devotees take to the streets with steel rods in their faces, metal hooks in their chests and backs. They march in a trance—they better be in a trance—to the beat of 100 drums all the way to the temple at the edge of town, where the backup at the metal detector is, like, 45 minutes long.
To Warrendale, Pennsylvania, one of those stories that makes you ask, if a bunch of high school and college kids can hand build a car that gets 1,000 miles per gallon, why did you have to just steal that old lady‘s purse to afford to fill up your Hummer? All 12 vehicles in the race, part of the Supermileage Engineering Competition, each team chasing the defending champs for Moderday High School in Evansville, Indiana. Their car gets 1,800 miles to the gallon. Now, it can only be driven by a hamster, but it‘s a start.
Speaking of juicing up, more trouble brewing for Barry Bonds, for one. His ex-girlfriend advised not to talk to baseball‘s steroid investigation because of possible criminal charges pending against Bonds. Who do I see about getting charges filed against my producers?
Now it‘s Mommy and Daddy‘s first words. Oh, here we go.
Those stories ahead.
But now, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.
Number three, Michael Wanless, one of 60 passengers quarantined aboard the Australian cruise ship “Pacific Sun” after an outbreak of gastroenteritis. He wants a full refund because, he says, he was not sick, he was just hung over.
Number two, Michael King, applicant for a job building the new FBI headquarters in San Antonio, when, to his evident surprise, he discovered that applicants for employment at the FBI get a background check conducted by the FBI. His revealed an outstanding drug charge. Now Mr. King is under arrest.
Number one, the members of the Alpha Delta Fraternity at Dartmouth. That‘s right, the original Delta House. It was the inspiration for the frat house in the movie “Animal House,” which ultimately got raided after a long investigation. Life imitates art. Police in Hanover, New Hampshire, revealing they have raided Alpha Delta House after a long investigation. But did they arrest Otis Day and the Knights? Otis, my man!
OLBERMANN: Chris Mihlfeld is suddenly one of the biggest names in baseball. He‘s the personal trainer of the baseball pitcher Jason Grimsley, and Grimsley is the man who admitted to federal agents that he‘d used amphetamines, steroids, and human growth hormone as part of his personal training. Those same agents believe Grimsley may have also distributed the illegal drugs to other players.
But where it gets dicey is that the trainer Mihlfeld has also been the personal fitness guru, and to use Mihlfeld‘s sister‘s description, soul brother to Albert Pujols, superstar first basement of the St. Louis Cardinals, and the man widely nominated to lead baseball out of the steroid wilderness.
In our third story on the COUNTDOWN, Mihlfeld speaks. In the affidavit filed by those IRS agents to get a warrant to raid Jason Grimsley‘s home, they quoted from their conversation with Grimsley in April, “Grimsley stated that (blacked out) a former employee of the (blacked out) and personal fitness trainer to several Major League baseball players, once referred him to an amphetamine source. Grimsley stated that after this referral, he secured amphetamines, anabolic steroids and Human Growth Hormone from (blacked out) referred source. “
Thursday, the blacked out name, the personal fitness trainer who Grimsley said led him to the source for amphetamines, steroids and Human Growth Hormone, was identify by unnamed sources of the sports Web site deadspin.com as Mihlfeld. Mihlfeld has now denied everything.
To the “Kansas City Star,” “They‘ve got the wrong name on that deal.” To the “Sports Illustrated Web site, “I‘ve never been involved in any illegal steroids, amphetamines or HGH activity. Period.”
Mihlfeld also says both Grimsley and Grimsley‘s attorney have told him his name does not appear in that affidavit. Grimsley and Grimsley‘s attorney have not said that, though, to any reporters. And as to Pujols who hit 25 homeruns in this season‘s first 53 games before a strained oblique muscle, a lower back injury put him on the disabled list about a week ago, Mihlfeld recruited Pujols, coached him at a Missouri junior college in the late ‘90s. Still works with him so frequently that Pujols phoned Mihlfeld to set up the off-season workout program the day after the Cardinals were eliminated from the play-offs last fall. Mihlfeld insists Pujols is innocent even though he‘s only been the subject of speculation. Again to “Sports Illustrated, “He‘s just like me. He‘s got nothing to hide.” To the Kansas City paper, “Albert won‘t even drink his protein shakes any more during the season because he‘s scared they‘re contaminated. That‘s been part of his training for the last five or six years, and all of a sudden he won‘t even do that.he‘s a great kid. Let him be great. He‘s clean.”
To describe him as Pujols‘ trainer is to probably oversimplify that relationship. We‘ll get a closer look at that in a moment. First the other headlines in this continually burgeoning story.
Senator McCain of Arizona, Congressman Waxman of California and Lynch or Massachusetts have suggested they may seek congressional hearings into Human Growth Hormone and baseball and my try to force the sport to adopt blood tests for those drugs.
And in the still ongoing Barry Bonds part of the investigation, the lawyer for former companion, Kimberly Bell, has told the former U.S. senator who is conducting baseball‘s investigation that the feds don‘t want his client talking to anybody but them, because of the “pending criminal proceeding.” Bonds, himself, as that suggests, is still a possible target of a grand jury, which is looking into whether or not he lied to another grand jury about his own drug use.
And back at the start, to the man described in one place as “HGH Patient Zero.” Jason Grimsley‘s agent he says his client will retire from baseball, but that may not stop baseball from punishing Grimsley. He may be liable for a 50-game suspension. Baseball‘s first big-scale drug suspension would go to a retired player? If that does not sum up this mess, nothing can. And it‘s likely to get worse before it gets better.
Back to the subject of Albert Pujols and Chris Mihlfeld, the personal trainer who didn‘t know his other client was taking Human Growth Hormones or steroid as part of his personal training. “Baseball America” is the leading publication in the field; it focuses on the minor leagues, college, and high school ball, and is the bible for those trying to track the development of young prospects, which is what Albert Pujols was seven years ago. Its executive editor is Jim Callis and he joins us now.
Jim, thanks for your time.
JIM CALLIS, “BASEBALL AMERICA”: No problem, Keith, glad to be here.
OLBERMANN: Of Mr. Pujols‘ and Mr. Mihlfeld, is it indeed insufficient to call them trainer and client? Didn‘t Chris Mihlfeld essentially build Albert Pujols?
CALLIS: Exactly. I think you‘re right, Keith. I think they‘re more than trainer and client. I think Mihlfeld‘s sister, as you mentioned, described them as soul brothers. Mihlfeld, in some ways, was the guy who discovered Albert Pujols, recruited him in Maple Woods Community College in Missouri when he was basically an unknown. For whatever reason, it‘s a little bit unclear, it was not the head coach, by the time Albert got there, but apparently began training him there. And less than two years later, he went from an unknown in a 13th round draft to pretty much the best hitter or the best right-handed hitter in baseball.
OLBERMANN: Does anybody know, does anybody have the details, are there photographs, even, of what kind of physical transformation Pujols underwent between the time Mihlfeld got him into Maple Grove and when he literally came out of nowhere to hit the 37 homers as a rookies for the Cardinals in 2001?
CALLIS: Not that I‘ve seen. I‘ve never seen a photo of Albert when he was at Maple Woods. It‘s not like if you‘re looking at Barry Bonds‘ baseball cards from the late ‘80s and now you look at a Barry Bonds baseball card and his head‘s three times the size. I know just from talking to scouts who, to be honest, most of the scouts missed the boat on Albert Pujols back in junior college. One of the things that works against Albert was that while some guys liked his bat, he had kind of, what they described him as a bad body, you know it wasn‘t skinny, but it wasn‘t you know, the muscular, chiseled Albert Pujols we know today.
OLBERMANN: In baseball today, that who spectrum that you cover, from high school player—and Mihlfeld, by the way says he‘s now working with kids as young as middle school right through to the big leagues. How complete would a personal trainer‘s role be in the physical fitness regiments of an athlete like Albert Pujols or even Jason Grimsley? How much—control might be the wrong word, but how much influence over the day-to-day physical living of a guy would a trainer have?
CALLIS: A lot more than they did, say, 10 or 15 years ago. At the Major League level, a lot of these personal trainers are full-time employees of one particular player. Mihlfeld, I guess, has also worked with Mark Sweeney, so I don‘t think he‘s necessarily, you know, Albert‘s—or Albert‘s his only employer. But these guys, it‘s not just, you know—in the past, where you gave a guy a workout regiment to follow, now it‘s, you know, you‘re telling him what to eat, what supplements, you know, legal or otherwise, in any case, to use. It goes far beyond a workout and it sounds like in this case, with Pujols and Mihlfeld, that you know, they‘re much closer than that. You know, as you pointed out, as soon as Albert Pujols‘ season ended last year, he was on the phone to Mihlfeld, you know, figuring out a game plan to get ready for the next season.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s just clarify one thing, I think you said Mark Sweeney of the Giants, you meant Mike Sweeney of Royals.
CALLIS: I meant Mike Sweeney.
OLBERMANN: I just wanted to get that fact on the record, here. Whether it‘s Human Growth Hormone or it‘s Poptarts, is it plausible at this ultrahigh level that the athlete would not tell his Chris Mihlfeld, or whoever, that he‘s taking them, I mean, or is it plausible that the trainer wouldn‘t know?
CALLIS: I mean, maybe you don‘t tell the guy directly what you‘re taking, although I would suspect—you know, if we‘re talking about performance-enhancing drugs, here or Poptarts, you know, if you have a trainer you‘re relying on very heavily, you‘re going to run everything by him. But even, let‘s say, you wanted to keep it to yourself and not tell him and you were going down some path that the trainer didn‘t know about, I would think if you were taking something that, you know, baseball has banned or, you know, you‘re not supposed to be taking, that your trainer would have to be pretty naive not to notice the affect it would have on your workout. So, I would think, in these cases, if you‘re using something you‘re not suppose to be using, to think that the trainer would not know would be pretty naive.
OLBERMANN: Ultimately, Jim, this going to blow up as badly as people think it is?
CALLIS: I think so. I mean, I think I‘m kind of like you, Keith, I‘m kind of cynical about this whole thing and I didn‘t think baseball was anywhere close to having cleaned up this problem. I think baseball hoped to maybe from a public relations standpoint, act like it had a handle on everything, but here we go, HTH. Everybody‘s speculated, you can‘t test for HGH, well if you‘re not going to take steroids, these guys have access to the best pharmaceuticals in the world. Major league baseball players make a lot of money and I‘m sure a lot of these guys are using HGH, and you know, Jason Grimsley is almost about the worst guy you could have blow the lid off of this. Here‘s a guy who played for any number of teams, it‘s not like he was a career Diamondback who had been there for 10 years or whatever, this guy has played with just about everybody in the Major League. So if I‘m a Major Leaguer, and I‘ve been taking HGH, Keith, I‘m wondering if I‘m one of those blacked out names if the affidavit.
OLBERMANN: In deed. Jim Callis, the executive editor or “Baseball America,” great thanks for the insight. Thanks for joining us.
CALLIS: Thanks Keith.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of artificial enhancements, there‘s Paris Hilton. Common sense would tell you not to commit a hit and run fender-bender while a sea of paparazzi photographs. Common sense, of course, is optional on that vehicle.
And DNA evidence has revolutionized criminal investigations, so why aren‘t all criminals forced to give samples when they‘re arrested? (INAUDIBLE) Those stories ahead, now though here are COUNTDOWN‘s “Top 3 Sound Bites.”
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a look through the elephant‘s view of the Jersey Shore and Atlantic City—A six-storied elephant. Lucy faces the Margate Beach with her back or rear toward the main street. Richard‘s early activities led to a lifelong love affair with the wooden elephant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was always in love with Lucy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to represent our teams, that‘s for sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘ll root for our guy, Pali. He‘s the best in the world. His heart is in the right place and his arms and mind fly.
PALI GREWAL, WORLD‘S 3RD FASTEST PIZZA MAKER: Keep it cool and calm and be collective and see what happens.
DAVID LETTERMAN, LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was the world‘s most unhinged lunatic. He‘s now dead so that moves Ann Coulter up to first place.
OLBERMANN: CSI New York now keeping a DNA database there could revolutionize crime fighting. And first comes love, then comes marriage, then come to porn pictures you posed for years ago. Another blow to the soon-to-be ex-Mrs. McCartney when COUNTDOWN continues.
OLBERMANN: Not to say that DNA testing is producing astounding results, but this week if the dubious sounding story is true, DNA was used to identify the great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, grandson of the Mongolian warrior of Ghengis Kahn. His name is Tom Robinson and he works with numbers in Florida. And this is our youngest‘s youngest, he‘s an accountant.
Our No. 2 story on the COUNTDOWN, there are more mundane, but much more useful purposes for such testing, including what its planners are hoping will become the crime database to beat all crime databases. To say nothing of the criminals. COUNTDOWN‘s Monica Novotny, no relation to Ghengis Kahn, joins us with details—Monica.
MONICA NOVOTNY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Keith, DNA is now being called the fingerprint of the 21st century, but no one seems agree on what the appropriate cutoff should be when it comes to criminals providing DNA samples to law enforcement. Should samples be taken from those convicted of felonies? How about those convicted of lower-level crimes, like misdemeanors? In New York State, they think they have the answer.
DET. DEAN HALPIN, ALBANY POLICE: This is the piece of rebar from the George Young homicide.
NOVOTNY: And this is what he killed him with?
HALPIN: Yes. And basically, you can see it still has blood on it.
NOVOTNY (voice-over): A brutal crime this detective says DNA Might have presented. Raymond McGill raped an elderly woman and killed two people between 2000 and 2004, but his crime spree began years early with a misdemeanor conviction. Had he been forced to provide a DNA sample at that first conviction, he would have been linked to DNA evidence is found at the scene of the sexual assault, potentially saving the lives of the two murder victims. Instead, it took another year and at least one more crime.
HALPIN: Mr. McGill had been in jail for a robbery charge, upon his conviction he was sent to prison, where he had to give the sample, and that sample was entered into the databank and jackpot, we solve all three cases with his DNA.
NOVOTNY: In New York State, only criminals charged with certain crimes are required to provide a DNA sample, something the Governor Pataki trying to change in his final days in office.
GOV. GEORGE PATAKI ®, NEW YORK: I believe that anyone convicted of any crime, felony or misdemeanor, should have to give a DNA sample.
NOVOTNY: A change that would expand the current databank dramatically, adding about 80,000 DNA profiles each year. Potentially adding profiles of career criminals.
PATAKI: On average, those who we get DNA from have been arrested 11 times, convicted five times, before we can get a sample. And how many crimes have they committed where they weren‘t arrested or they weren‘t convicted?
NOVOTNY: Those samples come here, to the New York State‘s forensic lab. Which as you can see, by the practice case they showed me, is part CSI.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It lets us see biological stains that might not be visible to the naked eye.
NOVOTNY: Part common sense.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a tape roller here and it‘s equivalent to a disposable lint roller.
NOVOTNY (on camera): New York State‘s DNA databank currently contains the forensic evidence for about 18,000 unsolved cases. That DNA could lead to convictions if a perpetrator‘s sample is added to the system at some point in the future. But critics are concerned.
STEVEN SALOOM, POLICY DIR., THE INNOCENCE PROJECT: DNA is not a panacea, though. It won‘t solve all crimes; it won‘t single-handedly solve the crimes for which it‘s useful. That requires people, that requires resources, that requires different approaches.
NOVOTNY (voice-over): Steven Saloom, policy director for the Innocence Project, has concerns about overloading a system where mistakes can mean the difference with guilt or innocents and collecting private information that he says isn‘t being put to good use.
New York should be focusing on turning database hits into confections, before they go and expand to collect DNA from every Tom, Dick, and Harry.
NOVOTNY: And while the issue is a political one, for crime scene investigators, politics are not the point.
HALPIN: We‘re looking for get the people off the streets. Went the crime solved, that‘s what we want.
NOVOTNY: As of a few weeks ago, 43 states require DNA samples from all convicted felons, 28 of those also include some, but not all, misdemeanor crimes. Now, if New York‘s legislature passes the proposal, the state would be the first in the country to require DNA samples for all convicted offenders. And they say they‘d be creating the nation‘s most comprehensive DNA databank.
OLBERMANN: COUNTDOWN‘s Monica Novotny. Great thanks.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of misdemeanors and DNA collectors, Paris Hilton is back in the news, leading the celebrity and entertainment stories of “Keeping Tabs,” exclusive video of her deadly hit-and-run accident. Of course when I say deadly, I mean minor. And when I say exclusive, well, I didn‘t mean our exclusive.
The Web site tmz.com on the scene as Ms. Hilton was leaving a trendy L.A. mall this week—shopping, always shopping. Ms. Hilton backs her Range Rover out of the parking space, check the make-up, check the shoulder, do not buckle the seat belt. The worst happens.
OLBERMANN: She whacked some guy‘s Honda Civic. Oh, that definitely left a mark. But these things happen. The important thing is no one was hurt. Then who want to gamble on whether or not Paris got out and left a note with the contact information? No takers?
TMZ reports that leaving the scene of an accident such as that one is a misdemeanor in California punishable by up to six months in jail. Stay tuned this summer for the trial of the century.
Big news meanwhile for fans of the hit FOX TV thriller “24.” It‘s going to be made into a movie, so they can charge you for that junk. The “Daily Variety” reporting Kiefer Sutherland will reprise his role as special super-secret agent Jack Bower for the big screen and frantically run around a lot for movie audiences sometime in 2007. But the paper say the feature film version will not stick to the TV shows real time format, thus depriving us of the world‘s first 24-hour movie, and neither Jack nor Kiefer will dive into any Christmas trees, which might be a terrorist in disguise or at least, in bloom.
And the band Dixie Chicks may have the No. 1 selling album in the country, despite virtually no radio air play, but it is reportedly having a rougher time selling tickets to its concerts these days. Concert industry magazine “Pollstar” reporting the band has been forced to cancel shows in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas and others due to slow sales. The Chicks have been banned by many country music radio stations after speaking out against President Bush in 2003. “Pollstar” says that many of those stations have also refused to carry ads for the concerts. Tour dates in some Northern states, have not been as sluggish, and a second show was added in Toronto in Canada after the first one sold out in eight minutes.
First there was the silent Suri Cruise, then the peaceful birth of Shiloh Jolie-Pitt. Ah, but life get tough once you get upright. The bad news also about the Paul McCartney divorce. There‘s porn. That‘s ahead, but first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for “Worst Person in the World.”
The bronze to the school district of Buffalo, New York, which made the mistake of instituting an automatic minimum grade this year of 50, you can‘t get anything lower than a 50. The students then figured out something the school honchos had not, if you average an 80 through the first half of the year, you don‘t even have to show up for the second half, because the lowest grade they can give you is a 50 and the average of an 80 and a 50 is a 65, which is a passing grade. Oh, at least the kids learned that.
Our runner-up, veterinarian, James Rish (ph) of Muskogee, Oklahoma. He admits that when he saw Nancy Miller‘s pup barking its little head off on his front porch, he lost it. The vet took the dog to his clinic, neutered it, gave its vaccinations, treatments for ear mites, and performed a procedure that reduces the volume of the bark. I didn‘t know they could do that. However, none of this was with the owner‘s permission, to say nothing of the puppy‘s.
But the winner, Emily Hanlon-Tarasov, a best-selling romance novelist from Yorktown, New York. She insists this was an accident. That in a spat with her husband, just before their 40th wedding anniversary, she had no idea that when she threw the phone book at his head she might actually hit him with it and knock him out. She has been charged with second degree assault and with not remembering that the traditional gift on the 40th anniversary is not paper, but Rubies. Emily Hanlon-Tarasov, today‘s “Worst Person in the World.”
OLBERMANN: Heather Mills McCartney will make off with a healthy portion of Sir Paul McCartney‘s estimated one-and-a-half billion dollar fortune when the couple‘s historic divorce is settled, but not before we all find out about one of her previous paydays. Our No. 1 story on the COUNTDOWN, as one celebrity couple celebrates a new birth with a series of photographs, another is coping with a series of old photographs. We start with the old tawdry photographs. They‘re the future ex-Mrs. McCartney, and as Dawna Friesen reports from London, as you say goodbye, I say hello!
PAUL MCCARTNEY, MUSICIAN: Now if you didn‘t get that, you didn‘t get it.
DAWNA FRIESEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Once a media darling, Heather Mills‘ fall from grace is about as messy as it gets. News of the break-up from her former Beatle husband started out straight forward, but quickly turned ugly. Mills‘ cast as a nagging wife, jealous of his fame, and Paul, according to Mills‘ friends, a boring old fart with no sense of style.
EVE DOLLARD, BROADCASTER: You don‘t mess with a Beatle, slowly they came out and starting saying he was boring and he was too old and he was dull, he was stay-at-home. And of course it‘s a very dangerous game to play.
FRIESEN: The gloves were off and Mills‘ raunchy past was uncovered. In 1988, she posed naked and naughty for a German book called “The Joys of Love.” Mills call its a lover‘s self-help manual. But the British tabloids have another name for it. Before they married four years ago at an Irish castle, there were rumor rumors of trouble, but the couple went on to have a baby.
(on camera): Mills made a name for herself as a charity worker, while McCartney defended any accusations she was a gold-digger. Now, that she‘s a magnet for bad press, can she rebuild her reputation?
DOLLARD: She should take almost a vow of chastity and a vow of silence, come through with as much dignity as she can and then go to work on her image.
FRIESEN (voice-over): Others ex-wives have done it. Fergie was caught having her toes sucked, and ridiculed as the “Duchess of Pork” after divorcing Prince Andrew. And Camilla used to be the evil other woman who ruined Diana‘s fairytale marriage.
HEATHER MILLS-MCCARTNEY, SOON TO BE EX-WIFE: Paul‘s going to get upset, you‘re touching my leg, Larry.
FRIESEN: It‘s rumored Mills will look to the U.S. to reinvent herself, because in Britain, right now, she is on thin ice.
Dawna Friesen, NBC News, London.
OLBERMANN: Those of you scoring at home or even if you are alone, those photographs were indeed taken five years before Mrs. McCartney lost of her leg in an accident.
Angelina Jolie doesn‘t have any secret porn in her past, as far as we know, although there was that lingering air kiss with her brother on the red carpet. There‘s no time for stuff like that when you have the awesome responsibility of conceiving, incubating, and delivering the chosen one. Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt arrived unto us on May 27, the date that just might become a national holiday in her birthplace, African nation of Namibia. As Michael Okwu reports, the parents have recently emerged from hiding to give their first TV interview since the birth of the messiah of pretty.
MICHAEL OKWU, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You‘d think, for two of the most famous faces on the planet.
BRAD PITT, ACTOR: Brad.
ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTOR: Nice to meet you.
OKWU: Introductions wouldn‘t be necessary. A beaming Brad and a radiant Angelina Jolie at their first interview since the birth of their daughter, Shiloh, in the African nation of Namibia.
JOLIE: We found out we were pregnant, and thinking about where we would want to go, we thought we wanted to find a place that was—a beautiful place that our other children would enjoy and we knew this had so many wonderful sights and also the things to do here, for them, things we wanted to show them. Places we wanted to spend time with them and they have.
OKWU: The couple spoke out to thank the Namibian people and government for protecting their privacy during their two-month stay.
PITT: They‘ve been so gracious to us and made our stay very special. Because of that we had an incredible time with our family, exploring the country and a truly peaceful birth of our daughter. And that, we are eternally grateful for it and we will certainly be back.
OKWU: The cooing can be heard around the world. Little Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, staring in the most sought after baby pics in years, debuting in “People” magazine. Proud poppa says the enormous sum paid for the rights to publish them, reportedly as much as $7 million would go to needy charities in Africa.
JOLIE: We had somebody who‘s working with us to go to the state hospitals and to see what they were missing and what might be useful. So, we wanted it to be a practical donation.
OKWU: Their African holiday is just about over. According to “People” magazine, the Jolie-Pitts will return to Los Angeles soon, so Pitt can return to work, filming “Oceans 13.” “People” says Jolie plans to stay home to care for the newest member of her growing, glowing group.
Michael Okwu, NBC News, Los Angeles.
OLBERMANN: And of course, they hope they run into Paris Hilton. That‘s COUNTDOWN for this, the 1 135th day since the declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. Also this reminder here to join us again at midnight Eastern Time, 11:00 p.m. Central, 9:00 Pacific for the late edition of COUNTDOWN. Until then, a special presentation of “Lockup:
Inside Utah‘s State Prison.”
I‘m Keith Olbermann, goodnight and good luck.
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