Guests: Markos Moulitsas, Maria Milito
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Showdown in Connecticut. As the polls open, the Lieberman Web site shuts down. The incumbent‘s campaign claims political opponents hacked it. The Lamont campaign promptly donates part of its site space to Lieberman, and this is in the primary. Chris Matthews on the politics, Markos Moulitsas from the DailyKos on politics and computers.
The conjoined twins Kendra and Maliyah Herin successfully separated, recuperating, though they had but one kidney, one liver, one set of legs. A miracle?
Only two months off between seasons of “American Idol,” that‘s a miracle. Auditions underway. Oh, here we go.
Our COUNTDOWN “American Idol” princess, Maria Milito, returns.
Who let a suspected serial killer hold a news conference at which he listed the guns he owns?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have two 410s, 12-gauge, 20- gauge, 28-gauge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Our secret Suri tape. We discover a secret message when we play the tape backwards.
And what‘s the secret message here? Yes, the secret message is, Ladies and gentlemen, your 2006 Chicago Cubs.
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
As he voted in the most contentious Senate primary in recent history, the candidate told the assembled media, quote, “There is going to be a great uprising in Connecticut today,” just the kind of fighting words you‘d expect from the underdog, except they weren‘t from challenger Ned Lamont, they were said by three-term United States Senator Joe Lieberman.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, the first real showdown of 2006 going nuts in the Nutmeg State, and seemingly, as with every other important vote in this millennium, it has come complete with mudslinging, accusations, and, of course, technical difficulties, Senator Lieberman and challenger Lamont both smiling as they cast their votes this morning, even though the voting day itself, and even the subtext of Lieberman‘s support for the war in Iraq, were nearly overshadowed by accusations from the Lieberman campaign that its Web site had been hacked into by political opponents, the company hosting Joe2006.com telling MSNBC that the computer server was deliberately overwhelmed by Internet traffic, and finally crashed early in the morning.
When that happened, Lieberman spokespeople took to the airwaves, blaming the crash on Lamont supporters, implying that Lamont had not done enough to discourage that kind of sabotage, insinuating that anti-Lieberman Internet bloggers were also responsible. Ned Lamont‘s campaign denied any involvement, condemned the act, even put up the Google cached version of Lieberman‘s Web site on its own site, so voters could still access it.
Liberal (INAUDIBLE) Webmeister Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos joins me in a moment.
Joining me first from Connecticut, the host of MSNBC‘s “HARDBALL,” Chris Matthews, and his adoring crowd.
Good evening, Chris. What‘s the latest news from the mother of all primaries?
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, “HARDBALL”: Keith, can you hear me?
OLBERMANN: I can indeed. Go ahead, Joe.
MATTHEWS: What do you want me to answer? What‘s the question?
OLBERMANN: What‘s the latest, Chris?
MATTHEWS: Well, the polls just closed. And, you know, I guess there‘s a sense that it‘s going to be tough for Lieberman to pull it out tonight. In the office poll, I said, Lieberman will lose by 7. But that was a bet I made about a week ago in my head. There‘s so much going on up here.
I guess most people up here would say that Lieberman will lose by an amount like around 5 or 7. But, you know, there‘s been so much change up here. There‘s still people predicting a landslide for Lamont, people predicting Lieberman will win. It‘s really an extraordinary night up here. The polling is not helpful. I don‘t think the polls have told us much.
OLBERMANN: The Lieberman computer glitch, has the perception of sabotage, and the added publicity about that, could it have helped the Lieberman campaign more than a working Web site ever could on election day?
MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s not the Web site, Keith, I think it‘s the e-mail, the ability to communicate as part of a pulling operation, an old-time pulling operation. You drove around, you made a phone call, you said, Do you need a ride, dear? We can get you a ride at 4:00, just be outside, or come out when we knock. And we‘ll be there at a certain time, and try to be ready and dressed.
And, you know, I talked about the candidates today. And I have to say that I don‘t think that‘s a big issue today. I think the big issue‘s Iraq. I think the big issue, has Joe Lieberman been steadfast in his servicing of this state, or has he gotten a little bit too big for his britches? Has he lost contact with the state?
Those are the issues you hear about when you talk to people up here. But he is clearly going to run in the general. And so this isn‘t the end of the battle here.
OLBERMANN: The senator canceled two of his afternoon scheduled events today. Do we have any idea why, at this point?
MATTHEWS: No. And at the same—in the same spirit, Ned, I found Ned Lamont sitting at an outdoor caf’, taking the day off, basically. So whatever, they seem to be both worried about too much activity today. It seems like they both want to freeze the ball like in basketball and end the game now, which is odd for both wanting to do that.
But the body language of the two is so different. You have this very waspy fellow, Lamont, very calm, very casual, very St. Paul‘s, almost, in a prep school sense. Not generally an off-putting manner, but he‘s not that bad. I have seen worse. He‘s OK. He‘s not bad.
Lieberman, of course, is the schmaltzy ethic guy that you—Uncle Tonoose, you know, the guy that‘s very (INAUDIBLE) kind of lachrymose in his most almost postnasal drip voice of his. And you get that very confident.
But he doesn‘t look happy. If I had to say anything today, I‘d say one guy looks like he won today, and the other guy looked like he lost. But that doesn‘t matter, because Joe Lieberman is not going to quit. He‘s fought hard for this career in the Senate. And he knows that after all the pressure he gets for two months, in the end, he‘ll be treated well by people if he‘s a U.S. senator, and he‘ll be treated as yesterday‘s garbage if he‘s not the U.S. senator.
So in the end, he knows what they don‘t know, if he sticks in the Senate, he‘s going to keep mattering to those people, and mattering to the Don Imus, and mattering to the media, and mattering to Connecticut. If he walks away, with all the pressure, he‘ll become a nobody for a while, and then, of course, he‘ll have to become secretary of defense for somebody at some point. That‘s just the kind of things you can say after the election polls have closed, which they have closed.
OLBERMANN: Thank you for that. And thank you for the Danny Thomas
reference, by the way, if anybody missed it.
MATTHEWS: Yes, we both grew up, yes, thank you, (INAUDIBLE)--
OLBERMANN: Chris Matthews, the host of (INAUDIBLE)--
OLBERMANN: ... host of “HARDBALL,” great thanks. We‘ll see you again on the midnight version of COUNTDOWN with the very latest on the race.
And Chris‘s coverage analyzing the results from the Connecticut primary continues I a special report tonight at 1:00 a.m. Eastern, special “HARDBALL” version 10:00 Pacific as well, here on MSNBC.
Obviously, as mentioned earlier, once its Web site crashed, the Lieberman camp first blamed supporters of Ned Lamont, then broadened that out to include people on the Internet who have been critical of Senator Lieberman‘s policies for years.
And that would definitely include, the latter group, anyway, Markos Moulitsas, founder of DailyKos.com. As promised, he‘s now actually taking four minutes off from blogging the Connecticut primary to join us.
Markos, good evening.
MARKOS MOULITSAS, DAILYKOS.COM: Good evening. Four minutes.
OLBERMANN: Four minutes is all you got. In your (INAUDIBLE) -- Or all we‘ve got. In your role as unofficial leader of the liberal portion of the blogosphere, how do you respond to that charge, insinuation, whatever you want to call it, that you or other bloggers or Lamont supporters crashed Joe Lieberman‘s Web site today?
MOULITSAS: Well, first of all, there is no official or unofficial leader. But as a blogger, I got to say that this whole Web site crashing-gate that we‘re seeing today is just real—pretty much—it‘s more evidence of the incompetence of the Lieberman campaign, incompetence that has put them in a position to potentially lose the election today.
The fact is, they had a cheapie hosting account. They were paying maybe $15 a month for hosting. There were 73 other Web sites on the same server as their own. And any kind of increased traffic that might come about if, say, maybe because of an election day happening, (INAUDIBLE) crashes the server. They need a scapegoat for their own incompetence, and they‘re looking at bloggers. I think it‘s ridiculous. It‘s kind of funny, in a way, but it‘s pretty much very ridiculous.
OLBERMANN: But do politically oriented Web sites, yours or others, get hacked or attacked in other ways a lot? Do bloggers and even campaigns ordinarily go to lengths to protect their sites?
MOULITSAS: Oh, well, pretty much. DailyKos is consistently under attack. It comes with the territory. You‘re in politics, there are people out there who don‘t like what you have to say, they‘re going to want to shut you down.
But, in addition to that, sometimes just a lot of traffic will bring Web sites down. For example, today, MyDD, which is another very heavily trafficked political blog, went down, completely went down, because of all the traffic, people showing up looking for election information.
Now, of course, we jokingly blamed the Lieberman campaign for it.
But, the fact is, when you have a big event, you get a lot of traffic. Sites go down. That‘s what happened to the Lieberman campaign. They weren‘t competent enough to bring it back up in time. They‘re trying to score political points off of it. It‘s silly, it‘s ridiculous, and it‘s completely, I think, endemic of just how incompetent their campaign really is.
OLBERMANN: All right, you‘ve made the point several times about your opinion of the Lieberman campaign. Democrats, some of them, some Democrats have turned around and said that the blogosphere has unfairly demonized him. Stepping aside from the campaign, are you worried that an end result of all this will, in fact, be the demonizing of the blogosphere?
MOULITSAS: Well, we‘re going to get demonized no matter what happens today. If Ned Lamont wins, we‘re crazy, extremist leftist extremist liberals that want to push the party to the left, and we‘re poisoning the political discourse. If Ned Lamont loses, Joe Lieberman wins, then we‘re incompetent, we‘re irrelevant, we don‘t matter, we‘re stupid. Whatever.
You know, we‘re going to get attacked because fact is that people inside Washington, D.C., don‘t like the rights of people-powered politics. They don‘t like regular Americans taking charge of their own politics, getting involved. They can‘t control it, the message is out of control, who votes is out of control.
And this is not something that they care for. They want to squash it before it gets too big. They can‘t do it, because there are no leaders to squash. It‘s a broad-based movement. There are millions of people involved. And they‘re going to either have to deal with it, learn to live with it, or they‘re going to suffer very miserable lives as a result.
OLBERMANN: Probably the clearest message in that entire campaign has come from your political end of the Web, that it‘s not OK for Democrats to rubber-stamp the president, especially when it comes to Iraq. Regardless of the outcome of the vote, do you think that message will be taken to heart generally? Or is it, was it dependent on a Lamont victory?
MOULITSAS: Oh, I think absolutely it‘s going to be taken to heart. I don‘t think it matters whether Lieberman wins or loses. I think the day he started sweating this election, people realized that now these incumbents couldn‘t sit there, be cozy with Bush, just go through the motions, and expected to be reelected to office time and time again. Incumbents get reelected at an astronomical rate. I think in the last 50 years, maybe three incumbent senators have been defeated in a primary. It almost never happens.
But this is a democracy, and people have a right, every two years or four years or six years, to let their elected officials know whether they‘re happy with them or not. Now, we‘re seeing it already. We saw it with Rahm Emanuel, the head of the Democratic effort in the House, already is going to make a statement saying that those people who are too cozy to Bush and his policies will suffer in the elections this November.
So I think this is the first salvo in what‘s going to be a really, really difficult few months for those people who really have attached themselves too closely to President Bush.
OLBERMANN: So is that what the netroots effort focuses on, as of tomorrow morning through November, or if not, what is?
MOULITSAS: No, absolutely. I mean, what we want to do is, we want a Congress that is representative of the American people at large, that looks out for its interests and not the interest of BP and Amoco and Shell Oil companies. We want a Congress that is representative.
And so what we‘re going to do is, we‘re going to work for a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate. And it‘s—the incompetence of this administration has been so vast that it shows that we really actually have a chance of winning one or both chambers of Congress this fall.
OLBERMANN: Kos himself, Markos Moulitsas of the Web site DailyKos.
Back to the keyboard with you. Thank you for your time, sir.
MOULITSAS: Thank you very much. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Also here, the big surprise pipeline problem in Alaska. How is it a surprise if BP oil should have seen it coming no later than this past March? Lisa Myers with a special report.
And a COUNTDOWN Suri Cruise world exclusive, the day after. To our shock, we have found a message hidden on the tape, audible only when you play it backwards, like a Beatles album.
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Got a conspiracy theory about gas prices? Not surprised, were you, when BP suddenly had to shut down its pipeline out of Prudhoe Bay in Alaska yesterday? Not surprised since it‘s in the middle of a year of record gas-price gouging, since the middle of a month-long Middle East crisis, since it‘s just four weeks until that long driving weekend that is Labor Day?
Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, reline your tinfoil hats. You ain‘t heard nothin‘ yet, our Lisa Myers reporting tonight that the only thing that should be a surprise about the Prudhoe shutdown is that anybody is surprised.
Prices at the pump today almost to identical to those yesterday, $3.04 a gallon on average, and doubtless heading higher, but with domestic oil production headed lower by 400,000 barrels a day, it costs even more if you live on the West Coast, because its refineries are particularly dependent, dependent on Alaska, where BP was hit by that shocking pipeline deterioration that, as Lisa Myers reports now, they should have been expecting since at least this past March.
LISA MYERS, NBC SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When BP shut down its vital oil pipeline, the company blamed unexpectedly severe corrosion in transit pipes. Yet only five months ago, BP‘s aging pipeline created the largest-ever oil spill on the North Slope. Federal regulators blamed that spill on internal corrosion and said in some areas, the walls of the pipes were so corroded, they were almost paper-thin.
So critics and industry experts say the latest problem was hardly a surprise.
PHIL FLYNN, ENERGY ANALYST: I think this was predictable and preventable.
MYERS (on camera): In fact, allegations about BP‘s maintenance practices have been so persistent that a criminal investigation now is underway into whether BP has for years deliberately shortchanged maintenance and falsified records to cover it up.
(voice-over): The criminal probe was triggered by this man, Chuck Hamel (ph), a longtime nemesis of the oil companies and advocate for oil workers.
CHUCK HAMEL, OIL WORKER ADVOCATE: They were playing Russian roulette up there.
MYERS: Hamel says a dozen past and current BP employees came to him, claiming they‘d been told to cut back on a chemical put into the system to retard rust and corrosion, and to falsify records. A federal official confirms that many of these workers have also talked to the FBI.
HAMEL: They were telling me that they were not properly injecting the corrosion inhibitors into the system.
MYERS (on camera): This was deliberate?
HAMEL: Absolutely. Because it would save money.
MYERS (voice-over): This week, in announcing the shutdown, BP acknowledged that a key maintenance procedure to check for sludge, known as pigging, shown in this industry video, had not been performed in more than a decade.
Today, in an interview with NBC, a federal official in charge of the pipeline safety charged that BP has been doing inadequate maintenance for 15 years.
VICE ADM. THOMAS BARRETT (RET.), PIPELINE SAFETY ADMINISTRATION:
Frankly, we would have expected a higher standard of care from a company like BP on lines like this.
MYERS (on camera): Tonight, BP would not comment on the criminal investigation, but insists that its maintenance program was adequate. The company says it has changed its inspection program to spot problems earlier.
Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington.
OLBERMANN: Also here tonight, celebration in Salt Lake City. The surgery to separate conjoined 4-year-old twins ends after more than 24 hours. Doctors report no complications.
As to this guy, there may be complications. That might be a problem in later life, sir. That‘s next.
This is COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Thirty-three years ago today, pitcher Fritz Petersson (ph) of the New York Yankees injured himself on the first pitch of his start against the Texas Rangers. Summoned from the bullpen to replace him was one of my childhood heroes, reliever Freddie Ray Bean (ph), all five feet, nine inches and 160 pounds of him. He pitched the rest of the game, surrendering just four hits, and got the victory. Fred Bean would win only four more games in his career. But let‘s see a relief pitcher do that now.
On that note, let‘s play Oddball.
And if that was great baseball, this ain‘t. Of all the morons on all the Internets in every part of the world, this guy is our new favorite. Oh, it looks like this last one here, he might have felt that one. No truth that the catching-strapped Boston Red Sox had just signed that guy minutes before his stunt.
To the town of Speed, Kansas, population 37, home to the first annual Hot Wheels Festival. It is an event put on by Mattel, the makers of the little die-cast cars that will never in a million years live up to the standards set by Matchbox cars. It featured a car show, a big parade, the world‘s longest hot wheels track. Look at ‘em go. They‘re all about speed in the town of Speed this week. They drive fast, they walk fast, even talk fast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s just a big thing around here that I bet Speed has never really had this big of a crowd here. And it‘s just amazing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Well, they drive fast.
Finally, to Beijing in China for the COUNTDOWN cool-ass robot of the week, Rong Cheng, the robot receptionist in the big skirt. Developers say she can answer phones, act as a tour guide, respond to human voices, and speak two different dialects of Chinese. Plus, under that huge skirt, she‘s got a 327 turbo-charged V-8 engine, does zero to 60 in 4.2 seconds.
Does it come with a hemi (ph)?
Also tonight, odd, and not in the good sense. You are named as a suspect in a string of serial killings. So you hold a news conference?
And an even more bizarre phenomenon, perhaps, called “American Idol.” Thousands line up outside the Rose Bowl for a shot at superstardom. We will take our shot at them.
But first, time now for COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.
Number three, Leah Vanon of West Boca, Florida, She says she had to save her pet Labrador retriever from an overly aggressive otter. An otter. It‘s not the saga that earns her this position, it is her recounting of it. Quote, “The otter immediately starts going after him, and goes after the snout and starts flipping him and dunking him and to drown him like they do a fish. I started punching the otter in the face, which I felt really bad about, because it‘s cute, and I didn‘t want to hurt it, but it was killing my dog,” end quote.
Ma‘am, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Number two, Tom Dundee. He‘s a country singer in Thailand. He lent his stage name to a condom manufacturer. Now everybody is in trouble, because while Tom Dundee sounds like an ordinary Scottish name to you and me, in Thailand, it is a homonym for the phrase meaning “good penetration.” Tom‘s real name, by the way, is Puntiva Poobyprepuce (ph). I hate to suggest what that sounds like to me.
Anyway, number one, an unnamed 22-year-old woman in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. She was having an amorous adventure with a friend in an old medieval house undergoing reconstruction there, when she fell through the floor of the place and got stuck in the basement, and they had to rescue her with a fireman‘s ladder.
Wait. Why did just the woman fall through the floor?
OLBERMANN: In a time when everything is strategized within an inch of its life, for this wild gesture, there has to be a kernel of grudging admiration, but still, in the third story of the COUNTDOWN, if you were an attorney, a friend, or the suspect himself, why would you ever permit a serial murder suspect to hold a news conference? In the Phoenix area shootings in which 7 have died and 17 have been wounded, Dale Hausner is facing at least two counts of first degree murder, 14 more of aggravated assault. And as Don Teague reports, he has also now faced the media.
DON TEAGUE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was an unlikely, if not bizarre scene, a jail house press conference by a suspected serial killer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Hausner, would you step up, please?
TEAGUE: Dale Hausner, one of two men arrested in connection with 16 shootings in phoenix, telling reporters he didn‘t do it.
DALE HAUSNER, ACCUSED SERIAL KILLER: I guess I‘m just guilty by association even though did I not shoot anybody.
TEAGUE: Hausner says his roommate, Samuel Dieteman, the other suspect in custody, acted alone. Dieteman has reportedly told investigators he and Hausner took turns shooting random people for fun.
HAUSNER: I have no idea why he would do this and most of all I don‘t know why he would want to implicate me in this kind of stuff.
TEAGUE: But Hausner, who was speaking without his attorney on hand, says Dieteman did have access to his car which police say is a key piece of evidence against both men.
SGT. ANDY HILL, PHOENIX POLICE DEPARTMENT: There‘s enough of an association there where we charged them with the cases we could and we are looking at them in other cases.
TEAGUE: And Hausner says Dieteman had access to his collection of guns.
HAUSNER: I have like, two 410s, 12 gauge, 20 gauge, 28 gauge.
TEAGUE: So, why does Hausner think his roommate went on a shooting spree? He‘s not sure, but says Dieteman had been down on his luck.
HAUSNER: Sam has kind of a low self-esteem problem and I don‘t know if he did this stuff, it would be for recognition and if he didn‘t and he confessing that he did it would be for the recognition.
TEAGUE: Phoenix police say they consider both men suspects, the press conference notwithstanding. As for Dale Hausner, his attorney finally showed up and told him to stop talking; a strange twist to an already senseless tragedy.
Don Teague, NBC NEWS, Dallas.
OLBERMANN: If you know what many police and prosecutors think of the media you should not be surprised perhaps that they were happy to put members of the reporting crew in the same room as an accused serial killer. But, prosecutors building a case against Hausner had a lot to gain by giving him a mike. Joining us now to explain why that might be, MSNBC analyst Clint van Zandt whose new book is called “Facing Down Evil: Life on the Edge as an FBI Hostage Negotiator.”
Good evening, Clint.
CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Why would prosecutors let this man talk.
VAN ZANDT: Well, you know, No. 1, the guy is a sociopath, his lips are moving so he‘s lying, but what you want to do is lock him into any type of statement, even if it‘s a lie, you lock him in to lying about what was going on and then when you present your case to a jury, you show not only the inconsistencies, but the lies, and a jury has to sit there and say hey, if he lied about all these things, perhaps he‘s guilty and if you have the linking physical evidence, then you lock him in, book him Dano, he‘s gone.
OLBERMANN: We know from that still chilling recitation the ghoul Wichita, the BTK killer, that publicity is everything to them.
VAN ZANDT: Absolutely.
OLBERMANN: Giving Dale Hausner the presumption of innocence, which he is legally entitled, morally entitled, does his need to have a news conference tell you anything?
VAN ZANDT: Oh, it really does. Again, you know, by definition, many times a serial killer is a sociopath, somebody who can‘t identify with the pain and anguish of others. Everything is about them, they are the sun and you and I are the planets that circle around them and it‘s all about them. It‘s—everything he says, everything he does is manipulative, I mean, Keith, this is a guy whose first wife said he threatened to kill her, told her how he was going to kill her, told her she was ugly, she couldn‘t cook, and she couldn‘t clean. She got a restraining order against him, the second wife got a restraining order against him. The third woman he was with got restraining order against him, for which he says she‘s just ugly and wants her face in the paper. I mean, not only is this guy a manipulative, possible serial killer, but it seems that he kept dating ugly women.
OLBERMANN: Also within the news conference that bizarre checklist of guns that he owns.
VAN ZANDT: Yeah.
OLBERMANN: You heard something of interest in the way he described his hobby. Let‘s listen to the sound bite, then I‘ll get your reaction.
VAN ZANDT: Sure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAUSNER: I‘m a gun collector. I have lots of weapons as does most Americans.
QUESTION: Can you can tell us, sir, what weapons do you have?
HAUSNER: Yeah, it‘s like two 410s, 12 gauge, 20 gauge, 28 gauge, 303.
Probably five pellet guns, blow guns, various knives and stabbing weapons, ice picks, owls, stuff like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Other than including ice picks among stabbing weapons, which we think as ice picks as—the rest of us think of ice picks among ice picks—what did that tell you?
VAN ZANDT: Well, you just hit on it, calling an ice pick a weapon. I mean, everything this guy had was a weapon. You know, and to say I‘m a gun collector like all Americans and we all have weapons like this, I mean, that suggests something about this guy, too. When you see the police carrying out armfuls of guns, and of course these guns probably will be linked forensically to the crime, the only thing the guy could say was, you know, I was asleep in the other room, I was in the restroom when my roommate took my guns, jumped in my car and 17 to 30 different times drove up and down the street shooting people, and you know what? I never knew it anytime he left the apartment.
OLBERMANN: You have got to sleep it off with all the ugly women, I suppose.
VAN ZANDT: Amen.
OLBERMANN: And the last point, here. Was there something in there that an innocent man should have done that he did not do?
VAN ZANDT: Well, I think an innocent man should have said not only, “I didn‘t do it,” but he should have pointed out, you know, when five of these shootings took place I was in L.A. or I was in Miami. He never once said when all these shootings was taking place, it couldn‘t have been me because I went somewhere else. He just set there and pointed the finger, maybe my roommate did it, maybe I didn‘t. You know, I mean, does he deserve the presumption of innocence? Absolutely. Was this the absolute efforts of a lying sociopath? To me, I would keep looking at this guy very hard as the suspect in these murders.
OLBERMANN: The former FBI profiler, now MSNBC analyst, Clint van Zandt. As always, Clint, many thanks for your time.
VAN ZANDT: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: A miracle, that is how the parents of conjoined twins described the day-long procedure to separate their daughters. We‘ll have the latest on the condition of the Herrin girls from Utah.
A day after our look the, or listen to, the Suri Cruise tape we will reveal the unexpected hidden message inside that tape. Play it backwards and it says, “Idiot, you‘re playing it backwards.” Details ahead, but first here are COUNTDOWN‘s “Top 3 Sound Bites” of this day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There‘s no missing this yard on North Watkins with its beautiful bushes, artwork, flowing fountain, and big sign that says “Dad on Strike.”
WILLIAM CLARK, DAD ON STRIKE: Well, they didn‘t walk two weeks in my shoes when I come home and sit down like they do and watch music TV.
JAY LENO, “TONIGHT SHOW”: As you know, President Bush currently on vacation in Texas. Woo, take a break. No, he said he‘s going to try and do absolutely nothing for the next 10 days. No, no, his advisors think this is the best way to bring his approval rating up. Yeah, just don‘t do anything. Just don‘t do anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, “10 News Live” at 5:00 is straight ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Carol Lebeau in the 10 newsroom with a look what‘s coming up.
CAROL LEBEAU, 10 NEWS LIVE ANCHOR: All right. Well we are going to have it all for you all the news of the day. We‘ll have weather and sports and I don‘t have a script for you all right now. We‘ll get back to that in just a few minutes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Carol. Appreciate that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It‘s hard to do that without a script.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That script thing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But believe me there is a lot of exciting stuff that‘s happening in the 5:00 newscast.
OLBERMANN: Twenty-six hours of surgery and now the formerly conjoined Herrin twins are recovering. The tale of the world exclusive Suri tapes, and “American Idol” fever returns, like a bad diet soda about half an hour later. That‘s next, this is COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: We will just apologize here to newscaster Carol Lebeau, who you saw at the end of the “Sound Bites” of the day. And that‘s happened to everybody in this industry good, bad, or indifferent.
The website, meanwhile, is Herrintwins.com and you were on it at 10:51 p.m. Mountain Time you could have read the following update: The girls are technically separated, they haven‘t moved them to separate rooms yet, but they are doing great separately. The last two updates with by me, Jake, thank you, everyone.
In our No. 2 story, the girls are Kendra and Maliyah Herrin, Jake is their father and that blog entry marked the first moments of their lives as formerly conjoined twins. As correspondent Stephanie Stanton reports, while the 4-year-olds rest in their own hospital beds, now, doctors and family are celebrating the success of the surgery.
DR. REBECCA MYERS, PRIMARY CHILDREN‘S HOSPITAL: We‘re thrilled.
STEPHANIE STANTON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Rebecca Myers and her team of surgeons were met with cheers outside Utah‘s Primary Children‘s Medical Center, after the successful separation and reconstruction surgery of 4-year-old conjoined twin sisters, Kendra and Maliyah Herrin. The grueling operation took more than 24 hours in all.
MYERS: The surgery went extremely smoothly. It was long, but no surprises. I don‘t think it could have gone better.
DR. MICHAEL MATLOCK, SURGEON: I got tears in my eyes because they looked so good. It just went better than I thought it would be.
STANTON: Welcome news to the girls‘ parents, Jake and Erin.
JAKE HERRIN, FATHER: It‘s really been amazing and we‘ve really witnessed a miracle.
ERIN HERRIN, MOTHER: And we‘re so grateful for all the special experience we‘ve had during this time.
STANTON: The girls were attached at the pelvis. Surgeons were able to divide their shared liver and intestines and gave each child one leg.
KENDRA HERRIN, CONJOINED TWIN: Ten, 11, 12, 14.
STANTON: Kendra was given their only kidney while Maliyah will remain on dialysis until she can receive a kidney from her mother. For now the girls remain sedated in recovery.
J. HERRIN: Two separate little girls and we‘re very excited.
STANTON: Something their family has been looking forward to since the day they were born. Stephanie Stanton, NBC NEWS.
OLBERMANN: Over to our nightly roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, “Keeping‘s Tabs.” Last night we brought you the first actual recorded audio of baby Tom-Kat. Well, it was funny. But tonight at the end—actually it wasn‘t funny—tonight at the end of day 113 not only were there actual developments in the prospects of us seeing a picture of Suri Cruise, we discovered something unexpected and shocking in the first audiotape we played you last night. This was the original gag, a baby crying, a news crawl running left to right instead of right to left. We thought we‘d play it again tonight right to left so you could enjoy the gags on the news crawl. Daddy‘s still slightly taller than baby. Where‘s your pillow now Musto? Suri speaks, America obeys. But, listen to what we heard when we also slowed down the audio track and played it backwards.
Buy L. Ron Hubbard‘s books. You liked “Mission: Impossible III.” Don‘t miss a special “Kids in Crisis” dot (ph) block tonight at 10:00 on MSNBC!
Wow! As to a real photo of the baby denying that Tom Cruise is reluctant to show off his spawn, a spokesman for the family told Jeanette Walls on MSNBC.com that, “They will be making a decision to release photographs of Suri shortly.” Suggesting to this reporter that, A. photographs already exist, B. they will make a decision on whether or not to show the photos shortly, we‘ll get the decision soon, not the photos, and C. Suri is not a vampire because any scientists will tell you creatures of the dark do not show up on film.
Stay tuned to “Keeping Tabs” for trivial updates on people you should not care about.
In fact, here‘s another one. Michael Jackson. He has discovered a super secret conspiracy hatched by former associates to bankrupt the king of pop, it‘s hidden on the back of the Declaration of the Independence, too. All right, not the last part. Here‘s the allegation from Jackson‘s spokeswoman, Raymone Bane, quoting here, “In what could be one of the conspiracy in entertainment history, documents have been sent to Michael Jackson and his representatives which reveal a deliberate plan by some former attorneys, as well as associates and advisors, to force Mr. Jackson into involuntary bankruptcy.” And they hacked Joe Lieberman‘s website, too.
Correcting Miss Bane, of course, the film career of Pauly Shore is the biggest conspiracy in entertainment history.
Anyway, the Jackson camp would not name conspirators, did not provide any evidence of a petition that would force him into bankruptcy but it promised to file lawsuits, forward documents over to the U.S. Attorney General. In the meantime, Jackson is house shopping in Europe and recording a new studio album which will hopefully contain that Hurricane Katrina relief song he promised a year ago.
For some, this line is a symbol of the American dream. For others it‘s nothing more than the start of another long national nightmare, and a tone-deaf one no less. “American Idol,” the auditions. Didn‘t we just finish talking about the last season of this crap?
That‘s ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for “Worst Person in the World.”
The Bronze to motorcyclist, Curtis Rands. He told state police in Oregon that he was racing up and down the highway because he‘d lost his wallet somewhere along the highway and was looking for it. Mr. Rands was doing 129 miles-an-hour. If you can see your wallet while going 129 miles-an-hour an hour, sir, you do you not need your wallet because you have super human vision, you may proceed directly to the circus or the CIA.
Our runner-up tonight, Senator George Allen of Virginia, the Waynesboro paper, the “News Virginian,” notes that while Senator Allen is staunchly pro-life he owns stock in Barr Laboratories which makes the morning after contraceptive pill Plan B. They have you there, Senator. Choose A or Plan B, but not all of the above.
But our winner, David Lauren senior vice president of Polo, Ralph Lauren. He announced the installation of a new device that projects a 67-inch image of some of the company‘s products onto the window of the store on Madison Avenue in New York City. With a credit card swiper mounted on the outside of the glass, customers can now buy the stuff without ever going into the store. You evil, evil, evil people!
David Lauren and Polo, Ralph Lauren, today‘s “Worst Persons in the World.”
OLBERMANN: A completely fitting story if you followed the developments in the Lieberman-Lamont primary in Connecticut where the Lieberman website crashed and his supporters suggested Lamont supporters might have been—had a hand in it. We now are told that the official website the Connecticut Secretary of State used to monitor the vote in tonight‘s Democratic senatorial primary there has crashed. It is down, it is out of service. No explanation has been offered. Breaking news for once, literally about stuff breaking.
Meanwhile, non-sports fans complain about football. The Super Bowl is rarely a memory when we all go nuts about the college draft and just a couple of months later they‘re already playing exhibition games. Yeah well, what about “American Idol?”
Our No. 1 story in the COUNTDOWN, my favorite televised show concluded with the crowning of what‘s his name on May 24 -- that‘s two months and two weeks ago. And already the show‘s equivalent of exhibition games are underway in charming places like Pasadena, California.
The auditions for the new season are underway and the lines look like, don‘t say what you‘re thinking, settle for, the lines look like people waiting to Power Ball tickets. That‘s outside the Rose Bowl in Pasadena—the friggin‘ Rose Bowl. I‘ve seen smaller crowds there for USC football games during a bad season.
Our COUNTDOWN princess of “American Idol,” Maria Milito, joins me in a moment. First the picture from Pasadena and our correspondent Maria Menunos.
ANNOUNCER: “American Idol” starts right now!
MARIA MENUNOS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pop culture phenomenon is revving up its engines for another wild ride. And Just like in past seasons, there‘ll be plenty of potential stars, but many more hopeless dreamers. Like baseball and fireworks, idol tryouts are a summer tradition. Over the next six weeks producers will crisscross the country, holding auditions in seven cities, searching out the country‘s next singing sensation.
TAYLOR HICKS, “AMERICAN IDOL” WINNER: My name is Taylor Hicks.
MENUNOS: Hicks was first discovered in Las Vegas performing this rendition of Sam Cooke‘s “A Change is Going to Come.”
Fantasia stood in line for hours in Atlanta. Ruben Studdard stepped out of a crowd in Nashville, and Kelly Clarkson wowed the season one judges. But most people don‘t watch the auditions for the future stars, they watch for the train wrecks, like Derek Dupree, and this guy. And of course, William Hung.
Season five of “American Idol” was the highest rated yet, giving these wannabes hope that whether they succeed or fail, as long as they end up on America‘s biggest stage, someone might remember their name.
OLBERMANN: Maria Menunos, in Pasadena. All right, here you go. Some of your “American Idol” season six hopefuls.
OLBERMANN: To quote Woody Allen, “What I wouldn‘t give for a sock full of horse manure right about now.” Joining me now, as promised, our COUNTDOWN princess of “American Idol” the midday host of New York‘s classic rock station, Q104.3, Maria Milito.
MARIA MILITO, QI04.3: Hi Keith, thanks for having me back.
OLBERMANN: Sure. The train wreck quotient after listening to that would be judged at like 90 percent. Are we living in karaoke America or self-delusion America or tone-deaf America now?
MILITO: No, no, I think people, like I said last time, I think people are into the whole American dream. You know, you can be a nobody and be a somebody because you get discovered on “American Idol.” I really think it still represents the American dream. I mean, those people are definitely tone-deaf. I mean, I could hear, you know, dogs howling across America, right now.
MILITO: But you know.
OLBERMANN: And newscasters howling, as well.
MILITO: Ah, yes.
OLBERMANN: But in the good old days of “AI,” there were contestants who truly believed they were good even though they were not necessarily capable of carrying a tune, our friend William Hung. But now there seem to be more people willing to just humiliate themselves just to get on TV, even if it‘s just to get on our TV in the line there. Don‘t they give the wannabe a bad name?
MILITO: Well, you know, I think the whole thing with William Hung, I think he was kind of an aberration and I think after that they were determined not to have somebody like that become famous with his 15 minutes of fame. So no, I don‘t think so. I think it‘s still, you know, true blue, you can have the dream of becoming a big-time singer like a Kelly Clarkson. You know.
OLBERMANN: Well, you are such a big fan of this show.
MILITO: I know,
OLBERMANN: You‘ve become an expert of this show.
MILITO: Oh yes.
OLBERMANN: You are a New York music icon.
MILITO: Oh, yes.
OLBERMANN: You have a terrific voice. Why aren‘t you in line out there to tryout?
MILITO: Because I can‘t sing.
OLBERMANN: Well what stops the other people, then?
MILITO: Because some of them can sing. And they get weeded out. I mean, the audition‘s actually a kind of the fun part because that‘s when you really are entertained with the bad singers. But when it gets down to the meat and bones of the show. I mean, I would never audition, you wouldn‘t because—I mean, you can‘t sing, right? We can‘t sing.
OLBERMANN: I actually can sing, but that‘s another story.
MILITO: Oh, you actually can sing? So you should be on line when they come to New Jersey area.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, they could drag me there and...
MILITO: I would drag you there.
OLBERMANN: Yeah. Listen, I‘m supposed to ask you about Katherine McPhee, the runner-up.
OLBERMANN: Who missed the first three weeks of the “American Idol” tour, god help us.
OLBERMANN: But, she final finally joined her fellow Idolers and she fractured her foot. Is she like under a hex or what?
MILITO: She‘s a diva. Well, I think, and this is just my opinion. I think that she‘s still kind of perturbed that she didn‘t win. So, she didn‘t tour at the beginning because she had bruised vocal cords, but she could co-host the “View.” OK? I think—I believe she visited the president last week, with the other idolers, and now she has a fractured foot. You know, I think she‘s still annoyed that she didn‘t win, considering, you know, the FOX connection with her dad, she‘s a Scientologist. Whatever. Whatever.
OLBERMANN: So, do you look forward now and, I‘m sure you‘ll be back to talk about this.
MILITO: Season six coming.
OLBERMANN: The innovation here, of season six, and the amateur songwriters who now get into the act, here.
MILITO: Yes. Yeah, that‘s something new that they added, and it‘s because since “American Idol” was—actually, it is the original, because now there a lot of talent shows on telephone and the original has to stay fresh.
OLBERMANN: Yeah. Yeah. Fresh is one word for it. Maria Milito of New York‘s Q104.3, as always, thanks my friend.
MILITO: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: That‘s COUNTDOWN, for this the 1,195th day since the declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. Please join us again for a special edition of COUNTDOWN at Midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific and Chris Matthews will join me with the latest on the Connecticut primary. OK, me on camera again. I‘m Keith Olbermann, goodnight and good luck.
Our MSNBC coverage continues now with “Scarborough Country.”
Joe, take it.
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