Guests: Dana Milbank, Al Gore
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The missing American servicemen in Iraq, now we know their names. Do we also know the names of their captors? Were Kristian Menchaca and Thomas L. Tucker kidnapped by al Qaeda?
The New York City subway poison plan. If there was credible evidence of a plot to gas commuters in March 2003, why didn‘t they tell anybody? Especially considering they told everybody about the not-so-credible evidence of a plot to bomb those same subways just last October.
Do not gas up that missile. That‘s the message to North Korea from the U.S. and the Japanese, a planned test flight of a long-range missile by Kim Jong Il‘s government branded a provocative act by the secretary of state. Fortunately, everything‘s on hold till at least Wednesday, because of clouds over Korea.
To those Katrina evacuees still in Houston, deja vu all over again.
Interstates flooded, nursing homes evacuated.
Are the Texas floods a sign of global warming? Do we really face imminent planetary crisis? Al Gore firmly believes so, campaigns so, joins us here live. There might be a question about the 2008 presidential race.
And Jean-Luc Picard is gone, Captain Kirk is now a goofy lawyer, the “Next Generation” are the old-timers, “Deep Space Nine” is deep sixed, but new “Star Trek” episodes continue, dozens of them, created online by fans, including the “Gay Star Trek.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You told me before that you wanted to show me what love is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: To boldly go where no man has gone before.
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
Good evening from New York.
It was, at best, as always, convenient. Not only is the best known, although perhaps no longer best connected terrorist in Iraq killed to widespread applause, but days later, his computer records happened to turn up and happened to be filled with lamentations about how much the insurgency is being hindered by American tactics and especially American-Iraqi cooperation.
In short, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi‘s files contained everything the current administration could want, except for a bumper sticker except reading “Keep Congress Republican.”
But in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, accepting both possibilities, that it was all too good to be true, or that it really was true and just convenient, there is the jarring reality that the positive impact can be horribly tempered, even erased, by the kidnapping of two American soldiers in Iraq, possibly by al Qaeda.
Privates Kristian Manchaca and Thomas Tucker vanished on Friday, after an attack on their checkpoint in Yusefiyah (ph). Specialist David Babineau died in the same assault. A group affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq used a popular insurgent Web site to claim responsibility for the alleged kidnapping and to mock the U.S. effort to rescue the two men, 8,000 coalition troops currently combing the area where they disappeared.
Intelligence experts think this was no random event, one top military official telling NBC News that he believes this was an expert operation staged by the insurgents to regain the upper hand, at least in terms of publicity, after the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The political implications in a moment with Dana Milbank.
But first, there‘s also the renewed threat from a less frequently mentioned member of the so-called axis of evil, North Korea, reportedly on the verge of test-launching a missile capable of carrying nuclear material and capable of reaching Alaska, intelligence officials saying that the satellite photos suggest North Korea has fueled a rocket and prepared a launch site.
It‘s believed to be a second-stage taepo dong (ph) 2 missile, which has a possible range of over 2,500 miles. But rainy weather and cloud cover will probably delay any launch possibility until Wednesday their time at the earliest, the State Department trying to prevent the launch entirely, obviously, Secretary of State Rice calling the threat provocative, warning with the (INAUDIBLE) -- working, rather, with the concerned governments of Japan and China to persuade Kim Jong Il to call off the tests. So far,. from the North Koreans, no response.
As promised, to assess the domestic fallout from these developments, I‘m joined by the national political reporter of the “The Washington Post,” and now an MSNBC political analyst, Dana Milbank.
Thanks for your time, Dana.
DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Can I say “taepo dong” on television too?
OLBERMANN: Yes, you can. And if you sign, you have to sign with MSNBC, whatever you say, it doesn‘t make any difference anyway.
The issue in the news from Iraq, obviously, is the safety of the kidnapped soldiers. But given how upbeat the president was last week after Zarqawi was eliminated, how self-congratulatory his supporters were, the political impact is a fair ancillary topic. Did the kidnapping just burst that Iraq optimism bubble of last week?
MILBANK: Well, quite possibly. You have John McCain out there now, who‘s a big supporter of the war, warning about irrational exuberance, to use the old economic phrase.
The president did get what I‘d call a Zarqawi bounce. And we‘ve seen him in some polls bumping up to about 40 percent, not great, a lot better than it had been. This is the problem with daily events there. You sort of need to keep your eye on the long-term patterns, and there is no discernible long-term pattern here. And so we‘re—this sort of does indeed knock the wind out of the sails.
OLBERMANN: Let me read you something that press secretary Tony Snow said over the weekend. “The thing is, the way the war is being covered—and we‘ve seen it right now—we have two U.S. servicemen, and God bless them, we hope they‘re OK, we‘re focusing on them, and we forget that since Zarqawi was killed, hundreds of bad guys have been rounded up.”
That spin, that implication that the media only covers the bad news from Iraq, it‘s an old and tried, if not necessarily true, tactic from the administration. But does it wash anymore? Does it resonate in—with the American public at any—to any degree?
MILBANK: Yes, well, Tony‘s been doing this quite a bit, and he did it even the same day of the—when Zarqawi was killed. The problem is, a lot of other information is bouncing back.
Look, Tony Snow, except for five hours, has not been in Iraq. We have not been in Iraq. But the people who have been in Iraq, just hours before the president left on his visit there, the U.S. embassy sent out a cable saying conditions were deteriorating, even in upscale neighborhoods. Their own employees, Iraqi employees working for the U.S. embassy, were fearful and having to change the way they are attired.
So the problem is, you‘re having this sort of cognitive dissidence going on in terms of what the administration is saying, and indeed there are many good developments. There are also many bad developments.
OLBERMANN: The vice president said Monday, it‘s three days after the kidnappings, he‘s standing by the assertion he made last year, the insurgency is in its last throes. History will point to the election of the new government in Iraq as the turning point in this.
Given that media and political critics who have raised the political
implications of the kidnappings are going to get hammered for doing some—
so in some quarters, should not he get hammered for that? Is this remark
by the vice president not patently ridiculous?
MILBANK: We might have to go through one of these, you know, can the video be authenticated is current? Was it perhaps taped a couple of years ago?
Look, this is what you get when the vice president comes out. It‘s always been his role to be the most provocative, you know, from the point of saying, We believe Iraq has reconstituted nuclear weapons, right up to the present. He‘s always been one step ahead of everybody else in that administration, which has been extremely aggressive. So I think each time the vice president comes out and says this, he gets a little bit less credibility.
OLBERMANN: But, Dana, the president was speaking at the Merchant Marine Academy, and was, you know, cheering on the new Iraqi government, warned the Iranian government, mentioned Darfur, mentioned and Syria, mentioned Belarus. But with this issue with the missile in North Korea, the possibility of a test-launching of a (INAUDIBLE), a nuclear-capable missile that could get to Alaska, at least, he didn‘t mention North Korea. Is there a reason for that? Is he staying out of it, or what is that about?
MILBANK: Well, let‘s not get excited. Alaska isn‘t California just yet. But, no, there‘s a very real reason, and Condoleezza Rice, obviously, was much more forceful about it today. Also, the administration has been much more cautious about what it‘s saying about Iran. There too, we learned that in 2003, Iran was willing to deal with the United States, and the administration said, No, thanks. They were hoping for—they thought that regime was going to topple there.
So what we‘re finding out now is, after we took care of the one element of the axis of evil, the other two are turning out to be greater menaces. And we‘re in a position where there‘s not a whole lot that can be done about it. So there‘s every reason not to get too excited.
OLBERMANN: Dana Milbank, national political reporter of “The Washington Post,” and now, political analyst of MSNBC. Sucker.
MILBANK: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Thanks for joining us.
It was a startling and grim revelation, especially coming, as it did, on this city‘s first weekend of searing heat, the annual preview of late summer. A supposedly credible story of an al Qaeda plot to release poison gas into the New York City subway system just before this country went into Iraq in March 2003.
But with the shock and fear comes yet another dose of doubt. Last October, officials rushed to tell New Yorkers of a terrorist bomb threat to the same system. Six days later, they admitted that their source had revealed he had simply made that story up.
So why did it take three years and three months before we heard about this, quote, unquote, “credible poison threat”?
The purported details from our correspondent Andrea Mitchell.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An al Qaeda plot three years ago for a chemical attack on the New York subways. According to a CIA source inside al Qaeda, the plan was to attack the subway with a lethal mix of hydrogen and cyanide, setting off a small explosion, releasing a deadly gas. New York went on alert.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG ®, NEW YORK CITY: We were completely posted by Washington, and we took appropriate precautions. And I guess history shows, since nothing happened, that we did what was correct.
MITCHELL: Bloomberg, who rides the subways, says they‘re safe. But Ron Suskind, the author of a new book, “The One Percent Doctrine,” says an al Qaeda cell came within 45 days of striking the subway, and could still be in the U.S.
RON SUSKIND, AUTHOR, “THE ONE PERCENT DOCTRINE”: They don‘t have specifics as to exactly who they are, name, rank and serial number, but they‘re searching, and have been searching, fiercely for a cell like this, if, in fact, they have remained in the country.
MITCHELL: Who called off the plot? Ayman al Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden‘s deputy, according to the book and former intelligence officials. Why is still a mystery.
MICHAEL SHEEHAN, FORMER NEW YORK COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: I think if al Qaeda had an operational cell in New York City ready to go, it would have launched it. So I think there might have been other problems with this operation.
MITCHELL: Other revelations confirmed by NBC News, the FBI penetrated Osama bin Laden‘s bank. The CIA kidnapped the banker and his tellers, replacing them with CIA agents of Pakistani descent.
DENNIS LORMEL, FORMER FBI OFFICIAL: It was an important money-laundering mechanism to al Qaeda that basically was dismantled.
MITCHELL: And the book reveals that after capturing 9/11 organizer Ramzi bin al-Shibh in Karachi, the CIA found a treasure trove, including brand-new Sudanese passports for bin Laden‘s wife and sons.
(on camera): Vice President Cheney said today that it is not just luck that has prevented another attack on the U.S. since 9/11. But some experts fear that could be because al Qaeda is biding its time for an even more spectacular attack.
Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington.
OLBERMANN: Also here, torrential rains in Houston, triggering scenes reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina, scenes all to familiar for those who had relocated from New Orleans. The latest on the rescue efforts in Texas.
Is the extreme weather further evidence of a larger, dangerous climate shift? Al Gore, former vice president, now unlikely movie star, joining us here to talk global warming and politics.
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: The stranded waving from the rooftops of buildings that had been flooded, others choosing to make their way on foot through waters waist-high.
Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, the legacy of Hurricane Katrina, apt to be fresh in the mind of anyone who wished—witnessed the scene unfolding in Houston this Monday, flash floods swamping that city on a massive scale, with the threat of more rain and more flooding to come.
Our correspondent Don Teague with the latest from Houston. Don?
DON TEAGUE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Keith.
The governor of Texas has ordered the National Guard to Houston to help with relief efforts there. As you can see, for the most part, the floodwaters have gone down here. Look down the neighborhood, you can see a lot of people still cleaning up, though, tonight, bringing wet furniture and carpet out of their homes, and wondering how the waters could have risen so fast.
(voice-over): Houston residents awoke this morning to a terrifying sight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are yards, people‘s yards in their homes.
And it actually looks more like rivers and little lakes.
TEAGUE: Rivers of water filling homes, submerging cars, and pouring down streets after a night of torrential rain.
EVELYN YOUNG, HOUSTON RESIDENT: What was it like? It‘s sort of like going to hell.
TEAGUE: The rain fell at an almost unimaginable rate, seven inches at Houston‘s Hobby Airport in just four hours, far too much for the city‘s drainage system, despite millions of dollars spent on recent improvements.
MAYOR BILL WHITE, HOUSTON: When you have this much rain in a short period of time at a place that‘s near sea level, then you still have some real risk.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many cars are like this one.
TEAGUE: Floodwaters rose so fast, fire crews were forced to improvise, using dump trucks to rescue at least 500 residents and motorists trapped by high water. One couple barely escaped.
STEVE HOLMES, STRANDED MOTORIST: (INAUDIBLE) wouldn‘t have been a way for us to get out. Thank God we had a sunroof.
TEAGUE: Amazingly, no lives were lost, but the raging waters are an unwelcome reminder for the tens of thousands of Katrina evacuees still living in Houston that weather can change lives in an instant.
Shenita (ph) Simon lost everything in Katrina.
SHENITA SIMON: We just got through from running from one storm. Now we got to run from another one.
TEAGUE: Even 130 miles east of Houston in Sulphur, Louisiana, rescuers evacuated 100 residents from a nursing home as a foot of water filled the halls, the rain seemingly unrelenting.
(on camera): And it may not be over. Forecasters are expecting more rain in Houston tonight, perhaps several more inches. But even a drop is too much for many residents here who endured a truly frightening day, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Don Teague in Houston. Great thanks.
And we have your World Cup highlights, including those Bangladeshi fans who really needed to know how the match between Argentina and Serbia turned out. I don‘t know, these look like robot dogs to me, not soccer players. But I might be mistaken.
And “Star Trek” without the actors or the production value. No, we are not showing you that first “Star Trek” movie again. This is do-it-yourself Trekkiedom.
All ahead here on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: On this date in 1938, the most ominous of World Cup soccer games ever was played, just before they took to the pitch at the Stad Columbaise (ph) in Paris for the finals against the Hungarians. The Italian team received a telegram from dictator Benito Mussolini reading simply, “Vincere o morire.” The world, including Hungarian goalie Antal Szabo (ph), was told of the simple, terrifying translation, “Win or die.”
Hungary lost to Italy that day. Some say they lost deliberately, 4 to
1. “I may have let in four goals,” said the net minder Szabo, “but at least I saved their lives.” Only problem, “Vincere o morire,” translated literally as “win or die,” in Italian sports vernacular, however, it simply meant, “Give it your all, guys.” Oops.
Seventy-eight years later, if they could see this part of the newscast, the Hungarians and Italians alike would all be choosing “morire” over “vincere.”
Let‘s play Oddball.
Again, because we do not have the rights to actual World Cup footage, here are robots reenacting Monday‘s thrilling Switzerland-Togo match. The score, nil-nil till the 16th minute, when the Swiss striker Atticus Frey (ph), after a terrific run down the left, crossed to Tranquilo Barnetta (ph), who passed back to Frey, who nudged it in from three meters. Goal!
Barnetta would put it away in the 88th minute, from the edge of the box, toward the far post, and then the Swiss fans went neutral. Of course, while the Swiss are elated, we in America can‘t help wonder what might have happened if Eddie Pope hadn‘t picked up his second yellow card against Italy on Sunday.
Where do they get these referees from, Woolworth‘s? Vincere o morire!
Back to stuff America cares about, it‘s jet car. Jet car. It‘s the latest from files of stuff we found on the Internets, old VW Beetles get flowers painted on them, new VW Beetles get jet engines crammed into their trunks. This year, a VW Beetle with a jet engine crammed in the trunk—and this thing is going to take off like a—this is going to fly—this is -- Just give it a second. Jet car needs to warm up. Here we go, jet car. You got it. C‘mon, c‘mon, baby. There, there goes...
No, no. Does jet car actually ever, ever move? Then, then why are the hell are we showing it? Stupid jet car. Well, at least at that rate, it does not to the CO2 collecting in the atmosphere.
As promised, our special guest here, Al Gore, on global warming, movie stardom, the White House. Stuff like that.
And surveillance cameras catch another school bully in the act. Yes, the school bus driver might have done more to stop it. The bigger question, how stupid is the bully to have done this on tape?
But first, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.
Number three, Peter Brabeck Letmathe, the chairman of the Nestle Company, you know, chocolate. He‘s made a seemingly unusual acquisition for his firm, Jenny Craig. Sounds crazy, except that Brabeck Letmathe has previously bought a line of health cereals and snacks, an ophthalmalic drug maker. Now he says buying the weight-loss company is another step in Nestle‘s transformation process into a nutrition, health, and wellness company.
Number two, Donald Johnston of Southampton in England, going to jail for two years as—posing as a driving instructor. He didn‘t have any of the necessary permits. More shocking still, in a country where 64 percent of the driving-test takers fail their first exams, his guys, 15 out of 19 passed their first driving test.
Number one, the soccer fans of Bangladesh. They were watching the Argentina World Cup match against Serbia-Montenegro Friday night when not one but two blackouts interrupted the electricity and thus the TV, so naturally, given how important the Argentine and Serbian soccer teams are in Bangladesh, 100 fans went out and attacked the local power station and wounded two electrical engineers with rocks. Remember, soccer, it‘s the world‘s game.
OLBERMANN: Imagine trying to pitch the film in the office of a Hollywood executive. We‘d like to make a movie about a man who goes around the country delivering seminars on the environment. And that man is Al Gore. But there are slides.
Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, not only has a documentary been made of the former vice president‘s compelling presentations on global warming, but the film itself is a huge hit, and his appeal in it has now been compared to that of the late monologist Spaulding Gray.
And a companion book to “An Inconvenient Truth” debuted this week on the “New York Times” best-seller list position No. 3. All of this has thrust Mr. Gore back into the forefront of American politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, “AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH”: I am Al Gore, I us to be the next president of the United States of America. The Arctic is experiencing faster melting. If this were to go, sea level worldwide would go up 20 feet. This is what would happen in Florida. Shanghai, home to 40 million people. The area around Calcutta, 60 million. Here‘s Manhattan, the World Trade Center Memorial would be underwater. Think of the impact of a couple hundred thousand refugees, and then imagine a hundred million.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST: A great pleasure to be joined here in New York by the 45th vice president of the United States, now author and movie star, Al Gore, welcome.
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Keith, great to be here.
OLBERMANN: We must and will talk politics at some point here, but obviously you were prioritizing this over politics, over everything, so let‘s start there. If it is as dire as you suggest in the book and in the movie, why do you remain optimistic that we have time to do something about it?
GORE: Because I know something about the political system that sometimes it‘s easy to forget if you haven‘t been in it a long time. It can seem as if it moves like a—at a snail‘s pace, but then it can cross a tipping point and then suddenly move at lightning speed. And that‘s what happened with World War II, it‘s what happened several times—many times in our history. And I just believe that when enough people see clearly the truth of our situation, that they‘re going to demand that political leaders in both parties act.
OLBERMANN: People who don‘t believe in global warming have said everything to you and about you and about the science in this, except to say global—there‘s no globe. The earth is flat, we all know that.
GORE: Well, they‘re in the—the people who still say that global warming isn‘t real are actually in the same boat with the flat earth society. They get together and party on Saturday nights with the folks that believe the moon landing was in a movie lot in Arizona.
OLBERMANN: But how do you overcome them? Or how do you overcome people who say, well, the truly religious people who say—or the strictly religious people who say the Bible says the earth‘s only 10,000 years anyway, how could this—how could any of this be chronologically true?
GORE: Well actually there is a much stronger religious tradition in the Judeo-Christian tradition, in the Muslim tradition, Hindu, all of them, that say in the words of my tradition, the earth is the lord‘s and the fullness thereof. And if you have a duty to glorify the creator, you can‘t heap contempt and destruction on the creation.
You know recently, a few months ago, 85 conservative Evangelical ministers publicly, as a group, broke with the Bush/Cheney administration on this issue and called on their congregations to start fighting against the climate crisis. There is a grassroots movement among religious leaders and people of faith and I think that may be the single strongest element of change.
OLBERMANN: Two quotes that I pulled, let me see if we have time to do both of them. These are from Canadian scientists, so they‘re not some removed, but not total removed from the political element at least in this country. The first is from a paleoclimatologist from Carlton University who testified to a Canadian parliament. He said, “There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and the earth‘s temperature over this geologic timeframe. In fact when CO2 levels were over 10 times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in a half billion years. On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century‘s modest warming?”
How could they? And if they can‘t, what‘s wrong with that logic?
GORE: Well you know, there are a few of these outliers that are given a megaphone by the groups that are put out as front groups and many of them get lots of money from the small group of polluters that want to confuse people.
But if you look at the peer reviewed, scientific literature, the debate is over. This really is not any longer in serious disagreement. When there‘s more CO2, the temperature goes up. And what we‘re doing, by filling up the thin shell of atmosphere around the planet with 70 million tons today, of CO2, a little bit more than that tomorrow. And we‘re filling it up so much that it‘s trapping much more of the sun‘s heat inside the atmosphere of the planet and it‘s cooking, wilting, drying out, parching the most vulnerable parts of the earth‘s ecological system and threatening to disrupt the climate pattern that‘s the only one we‘ve known for the whole history of civilization.
OLBERMANN: The second quote pertains to the something that is probably the most dramatic scenes in the movie, the huge pieces of the glaciers at the poles collapsing into the water and it is an attempt to refute that. Let me give you an attempt to refute that refutation. Dr. Boris Winterhalter, former Marine researcher at the Geologic Survey of Finland, professor in Marine geology, University of Helsinki.
His quote was, “The breaking glacier wall is a normally-occurring phenomenon, which is due to the normal advance of the glacier. In Antarctica, the temperature is low enough to prohibit melting of the ice front. So, if the ice is grounded, it has to break off in beautiful ice cascades. If the water is deep enough, icebergs were form.
Apart from the fact that he through in the beautiful adjective in there, is he right?
GORE: No, he‘s wrong. And again, if they look hard enough they‘ll find some outlier who again might say that up is down and down is up. But the peer reviewed scientific consensus just simply disagrees with that. There was—he talked about Antarctica. There was a very large study just completed three months ago showing fairly precisely how much ice has been lost in west Antarctica as predicted, and in east Antarctica that surprised some people. And in Greenland, the second largest mass of ice on the planet, the melting rate has speeded up dramatically. They‘re now having these huge ice quakes comparable to earth quakes that is, many scientists fear, is a sign of real serious destabilization of that ice mass.
OLBERMANN: I know better than to just come out and ask what you‘ll be doing in the year 2008. But given your passion for this issue and given the platform and the influence of the position of the president of the United States, just on this topic alone, how could you not run for president in 2008?
GORE: Well, that‘s easy. I have run already twice. And twice for vice president, and I don‘t have plans to be a candidate for president again. But I am involved in a kind of campaign, Keith. It‘s not for a candidacy, it‘s for a cause. And that cause is to change the minds of the American people in both parties, and among Independents, without regard to party, about the seriousness and urgency of this climate crisis and about the fact that we have everything we need to start solving it. And as we solve it, it‘s going to create new opportunities.
OLBERMANN: When you did the State of the Union address from the alternative universe on “Saturday Night Live” in this building.
GORE: In this building.
OLBERMANN: In this building—it was hilarious and searing in a way and also very endearing. But there were a lot of people who saw this who said the same thing. They were overwhelmed by it, because for all the hyperbole and the sarcasm that might have been contained in there, it was a reminder of how the world could or would have been different if you one in 2000. To those people who saw that and didn‘t just laugh, but had this tug of emotion and say, “Boy, this country really missed the boat in that election,” how would you say to them, “I‘m not going to run in 2008?”
GORE: Well first of all, I had a lot of fun doing that skit. And I‘ve moved on in my own life, and I know that—I‘ve been fortunate in my life, and the real—the harshest consequences of the outcome of that race in 2000 has been for the millions of people who have been harmed by policies that I, at least, believe have been profoundly mistaken.
But I do believe that the best service I may be able to render is to use my skills and experience, however much they may be, to try to change the political environment and to try to lift this issue of the climate crisis out of the political framework. I really think it ought to be seen as a moral issue, and not as a political issue.
If the scientists who I most respect are correct when they say we may have as little as 10 years before we cross the point of no return—if you believe that, and I do, then the rest of this will not matter so much. We have a moral obligation to try to cross the party lines and mobilize people, give them the knowledge, first of all—that‘s why I want people to go see this movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” get the book, go to the Web site, climatecrisis.net, learn all about it, how to be a part of the solution, and then become an advocate in your family, your business, your community, your school, and in our country.
OLBERMANN: Mix the political and the personal and the movie stuff for me here. Somebody who didn‘t like this movie compared it to something that Joseph Goebbels would have approved during the Third Reich. A lot of people who saw it said that if you had been that much yourself in the 2000 campaign, it would have been a landslide in your favor. Other people look at this and say, you know, this could be what you‘re saying here is permanent or not about 2008, this could sort of put you in a kind of position that a prominent Republican politician who had been vice president for eight years found himself in in 1968. So after one project, you‘re compared to Goebbels, yourself from eight years ago, and Richard Nixon. Do you like any of the comparisons? Do any of them work for you?
GORE: It‘s an interesting life. Isn‘t it? Where do I start answering that? I‘ve enjoyed this whole process. It‘s been interesting to see the movie-making process from the inside. The folks who made this movie, Davis Guggenheim the director did, and I‘m biased, but I think he did a spectacular job. And everybody involved with it, I won‘t list it all, but they‘ve done a wonderful job. And the book by Rodale is also getting a great reaction.
And I don‘t really care what people say about me. I mean, of course I do, but in a larger sense I don‘t because the mission is to get this information out there. As—when I was a kid, I heard the old saying, I‘m sure you did, that you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
And the truth about the climate crisis may be inconvenient for some of the biggest polluters who want us to think it‘s not real. It may be inconvenient for all of us to think about changing long-established patterns. But the truth is that we have to change and we have to do so fairly rapidly in order to meet our moral obligation to our children and grandchildren—really to ourselves because the consequences of this are beginning to be felt now.
Hurricane Katrina was a wake-up call for millions of people who had heard the predictions from the scientists that storms were going to get a lot stronger coming off the warmer ocean. And when we had a whole bunch of them in the category 4 and 5 realm, people said wait a minute, this is what they told us was going to happen. And there are many other consequences like that. We just have to find a way to get over the inertia and come together to solve this crisis.
OLBERMANN: Let me get a couple of quick thoughts from you on some other current political issues. You mention if this newscast the convenience of some of the development in the counterterror area and in Iraq. The Zarqawi computer files turned out to have all these statements that talk about how our efforts there have hindered the insurgency. It just seemed to be unusually convenient things. Should we be suspicious of stuff like that? Is it plausible that the current administration has included politics into counterterror and Iraq?
GORE: Well, I don‘t know. Certainly it appeared to me that there were some political decisions in the way intelligence was presented and as they say cherry-picked before the war. I would like to believe that the files saying that we had interfered with their insurgency efforts, I would like to believe that that is accurate. But I don‘t know.
I know that our troops over there have been working like crazy to try to do a very effective job, and they were put in a no-win type situation. And I feel for them so badly. We all do. But I know that in spite of the situation they were put in, they‘ve been doing their very best. And their best is pretty good. And so I would like to think that that was on the legit.
OLBERMANN: If Senator Clinton is the nominee in 2008 for president for the Democratic Party and you are not running or you started to run and then didn‘t, would you be supportive of her?
GORE: I will support the Democratic nominee in 2008, of course, absolutely.
OLBERMANN: We‘ll close off where we started, global warming. Give us one thing, give me one assignment to do today.
GORE: Go to the movie and read the book, learn about it. And then make a decision to become carbon neutral. Do everything you can to reduce the CO2 that you‘re responsible for, and then find ways to offset the rest. It‘s not that hard.
OLBERMANN: Does my hot air personally contribute to the problem or is that something.
GORE: It‘s negligible.
OLBERMANN: Well, we‘ll see. A pleasure to have you here sir, thank you for coming on.
GORE: Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: OK, thanks.
Also here, it is stark and terrifying and may help stamp the problem out. More school bullies caught on tape. COUNTDOWN continues.
OLBERMANN: Hidden cameras catch another school bus bully. Never hidden Star Trek fans use theirs to make do-it-yourself episodes. And the absence of Namibia and those yielding paparazzi camera reported to be luring Britney Spears to that country. The full picture—several full pictures, next. This is COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: The tapes appear regularly now. At first blush they seem appalling, terrifying, almost like the movie “A Clockwork Orange” in their brutality and their exposure of the futility with which the victims and the systems designed to protect those victims, fight back—bullies on school buses. On our No. 2 story in the COUNTDOWN, as anyone who‘s ever witnessed a school bully in action or been the victim of one, or had the pleasure of wreaking vengeance against one knows, the introduction of video to the equation is actually good news. No longer can bullies and their unjustifiably indignant parents con their way out of the consequences.
Matt Lauer now, with the latest inarguable evidence.
MATT LAUER, “DATELINE NBC” (voice-over): What started as taunting quickly turned violent. A barrage of punches to the body and face of a student pinned by an older, bigger boy. Before the driver finally yells to break it up.
BUS DRIVER: Knock it off. What are you doing that for?
LAUER: Chester Gala, an advanced 10-year-old already attending middle school was on his regular bus ride home. He says the older boys, both 14, began picking on him.
CHESTER GALA, STUDENT: He would just like tease me and, like, just call me names and stuff. He just started pointing fingers at me.
LAUER: At first, Chester tries ignoring them, but after being pushed repeatedly in the head, he shoves back. That‘s when his bully stands up and unloads. It‘s the latest fight captured by school bus surveillance cameras, which have become a critical tool for schools nationwide to investigate fights, bullying, and other offcamplets incidents.
The Florida high school senior in this brawl was later kicked out of school and charged with two misdemeanors. The mother, who boarded a bus to stop her daughter in this fight, was later charged when video showed her slapping the other student.
Cameras were rolling when two students and the bus driver mixed it up, while this assistant principal was arrested after video showed him hitting a student. As for Chester Gala, the video shows him suffering a bloody nose. The two teens accused of beating him up have been suspended from school and charged with assault. But does the punishment fit the crime?
OLBERMANN: To our roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, “Keeping Tabs.” And the Brangelina brood may be growing larger still. Angelina Jolie saying that she and Brad Pitt are planning to adopt another child once they‘ve chosen the right country. Just three weeks after their daughter, Shiloh was born, Miss Jolie tells (INAUDIBLE) “Next we‘ll adopt,” weighing heavily in the consideration, a 4-year-old Maddox from Cambodia, 15-month-old Zahara from Ethiopia. Which country, which race would best fit with the kids, she said.
Of course, the birth of Miss Jolie and Mr. Pitt‘s their daughter in Namibia, met with the delirium, if not the acclaim, befitting the queen, whether Britney Spears will repeat that frenzy by choosing Namibia for the birth of her second child, highly doubtful on many levels.
Ms. Spears had shown interest in going there, according to Leon Jooste, Namibia‘s deputy minister of environment and tourism, but now he admits this may have been a hoax, when somebody called him to tell him that Ms. Spears would be contacting him, the connection was bad, he never go the person‘s name, it was something about “bababooie.” Besides, Ms. Spears publicist said the initial report was not true. Mr. Jooste is undeterred, saying he plans to call Spears, extend the invitation himself, “We have a little niche tourism market we are developing.” Maybe La Spears is merely planning to send Mr. Federline to Namibia. Don‘t worry hun, just because it‘s a one-way ticket.
Or perhaps you‘d like to beam him in to the far reaches of space. “Star Trek,” it‘s not just for big time studios anymore, fans keeping the franchise alive with do-it-yourself versions of the show. That‘s ahead, but first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for “Worst Person in the World.”
Warning, if you are eating, hit the mute button until you see the silver medalists appear on the screen. I‘m telling you, hit the mute! The bronze goes to the proprietors of the Fangji Cat Meatball restaurant, in the city of Shenzhen in the province in the Guangdong province in China. If I tell you that it‘s not a restaurant that will serve your cat a meal, can you guess what‘s on the menu. A hundred protesters stormed the place over the weekend; the owner says he‘s going out of business.
The silver to Tom Shales, writing in “TV Week” about Diane Sawyer and “Good Morning America,” quoting the critic, “Sawyer‘s current co-star, Robin Roberts, is too butch. Though producers and even cosmeticians are apparently trying to warm her up as much as possible.” Even how much Mr. Shales complaints about the conduct of people on television and the quality of their work, maybe he should cut back on the number of gratuitous loaded insults like “too butch.”
But the winner, Cal Thomas, the commentator appearing on FOX News channel who was looking to insult you watching this network, but merely wound up insulted is own viewers, claiming all cable news outfits are “Trying to copy FOX now, to be honest. Many of them are doing more tabloid, more big lip (INAUDIBLE) and all this kind of stuff. There‘s only so much of that trailer trash pie to go around.”
Cal Thomas, a man who knows his trailer trash pie, today‘s “Worst Person in the World.”
OLBERMANN: First the Rodenberry smiled and said “Let There be ‘Star Trek‘” and then there was syndication, and “Star Trek” the movie, and the “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan,” “Star Trek: The Voyage Home,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Star Trek: The Municipal Bond,” “Star Trek:
The Interplanetary Waste Disposal Management Conglomerate,” and of course, “Star Trek: Law and Order,” and “CSI Star Trek.”
Well, I may have made a few of the last ones up. I‘m really not sure anymore. But in our No. 1 story on the COUNTDOWN, it‘s how fans of “Star Trek” have faced the fact that there are no more “Star Trek” movies or TV series in production or plan that matters. As Jennifer London reports, just like Kirk in the case of the kobiashimaru scenario, they‘ve simply reprogrammed the simulation.
JENNIFER LONDON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cyberspace the final frontier for trekies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shields up. Red alert.
LONDON: Hard core “Star Trek” fans are continuing the voyage on-line, doing it themselves, creating, posting and distributing their own original episodes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Damage control team data, sharp antimatter containment.
LONDON: There are as many as two dozen “Star Trek” fan films in the works, and they‘re not all amateur productions.
GEORGE TAKEI, “SULU”: Particle density decreasing.
LONDON: George Takei played “Sulu” in the original “Star Trek” series and later this year he‘s heading back to space, starring in a new series called “New Voyages.”
TAKEI: I really think that “Star Trek” is an extraordinary idea, and that‘s what the fans connected with.
LONDON (on camera): Each fan created series has its own unique vision for how the franchise should continue. Some stay true to the original storyline, others introduce new characters and themes. Production values also vary widely. The filming for “Star Trek: Hidden frontier” happens in a small backroom in front of a green screen on a shoestring budget.
(VOICE-OVER): Rob Caves and his team of actors, directors, and writers have produced 46 episodes of “Hidden Frontier” for only $500 a show.
ROB CAVES, “STAR TREK: HIDDEN FRONTIER,” PRODUCER: The dream of any fan, I think, is to be a part of what you love and to be able to do that with “Star Trek: Hidden Frontier “ it‘s been a blast.
LONDON: Caves is a die-hard treky, but he‘s still charting his own course, introducing the first openly gay characters in space.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You told me before that you wanted to show me what love is.
LONDON: And while Caves and his crew are hoping their fan films live long, they certainly won‘t prosper. Because of copyright laws they can only distribute the episodes for free. Young fans, boldly going where few have gone before.
Jennifer London, NBC News, Los Angeles.
OLBERMANN: Final solution, as Mr. Spock characterized it once, it was, shall we say, unique.
That‘s COUNTDOWN, for this, the 1,145 day since the declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. From New York, I‘m Keith Olbermann. Good night, and good luck.
Hour MSNBC coverage continues with now with “Scarborough Country.”
And sitting in for Joe tonight is Michael Smerconish.
Good evening, Michael.
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