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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Sept. 29

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Dana Milbank, Craig Crawford

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

The president goes to the National Book Festival gala at the Library of Congress.  Guess which book he won‘t be picking up?  Yes, that too.  But I meant Bob Woodward‘s “Denial,” which has exploded over Washington.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  In a lot of ways, the book‘s sort of like cotton candy.  It kind of melts on contact.


OLBERMANN:  Get him a copy of “My Pet Goat.”

More whistling past graveyards.  Roger Ailes thanks Bill Clinton for $100,000 worth of free publicity, and rips his response as an attack on all journalists, even though it was Ailes who scripted the infamous George H.W.  Bush attack on Dan Rather.


GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Dan, let‘s be careful here, because .

DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS:  I want you to be careful, Mr. Vice President.


BUSH:  It‘s not fair to judge my whole career by a rehash on Iran.


OLBERMANN:  Two careers we may not have to rehash any more.  Mark Foley, the congressman from the contested Florida district in the 2000 election, resigns after dubious e-mails to a 16-year-old boy.

George Allen, the senator from Virginia, not gone, but maybe going.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He was kind of showing off, I guess, but he was telling a story about something or other, and in the story was a lot of N-words.


OLBERMANN:  And drop in from anywhere and keep your eyes peeled.  But first, would you please rise as we start the Oddball Plays of the Month with our National Anthem.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing):  ... by the dawn‘s early light...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing):  ... by the dawn‘s early light...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing):  ... by the dawn‘s early light...

REP. DENNIS HASTERT, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE (singing):  ... by the star-spa—early light...


OLBERMANN:  Now, now, just because that‘s the guy claiming Democrats are un-American, no reason for everybody to riot all at once.

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.




OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.  This is Friday, September 29, 39 days until the 2006 midterm elections.

The last week of September proving to be a week of pre-October surprises for the Bush administration.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, it started with the president‘s view of Iraq being contradicted by all 16 of his intelligence agencies.  It ends with even more bombshell charges that the administration is essentially, if not literally, lying about everything from the amount of violence there to how desperately Vice President Cheney tried almost personally to locate weapons of mass destruction there, to how close Defense Secretary Rumsfeld came to getting fired.

The president with no public comment today about the controversy, he and Mrs. Bush tonight attending the National Book Festival gala at the Library of Congress, oh, irony of ironies.  One book unlikely to be found on his nightstand anytime soon, Bob Woodward‘s “State of Denial: Bush at War, Part 3,” the Watergate ace‘s first two books about the presidency offering flattering portrayals of Mr. Bush as commander in chief, this, the third, painting a far different picture, of a dysfunctional administration torn apart by the war in Iraq.

Among the charges, according to a copy purchased before publication by “The New York Times” and portions read by our own Andrew Mitchell that in September 2003 the White House ignored a warning from a top adviser that as many as 40,000 additional ground troops were desperately need to quell the insurgency; that in November of the same year, Mr. Bush refused to let members of his cabinet even use the word “insurgency” to describe the situation in Iraq; that at the end of 2005, then-White House chief of staff Andy Card, with the support of the first lady, pushed for Mr. Rumsfeld‘s resignation or dismissal, with former secretary of state James Baker to replace him, but was overruled by the president himself; that Mr. Bush‘s own parents, Bush 41 and Barbara, both had misgivings about the invasion of Iraq; and that the vice president was so certain there had to be WMD in Iraq that he called then-chiefs weapons inspector Dr. David Kay at 3:00 in the morning with a list of locations at which Mr. Cheney thought they would be found, and; as Mr. Woodward himself tells Mike Wallace on “60 Minutes” on CBS this Sunday, that the administration is not telling the truth regarding the level of violence in Iraq, especially against U.S. troops.


BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, “STATE OF DENIAL”:  The assessment by the intelligence experts is that next year—now, next year‘s 2007 -- is going to get worse.  And in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon saying, Oh, no, things are going to get better.

Now, there‘s public, and then there‘s private.  But what did they do with the private?  They stamp it secret.  No one‘s supposed to know.  Why is that secret?  The insurgents know what they‘re doing.  They know the level of violence and how effective they are.  Who doesn‘t know?  The American public.


OLBERMANN:  One of the most respected journalists in this country coming awfully close to calling the president a liar.

Not exactly how the administration hoped it would be debating the war in Iraq little more than five weeks before election day, the official response from members of the administration today that Mr. Woodward‘s charges literally dissolve upon closer inspection, if—that is, if—one has actually opened the book.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  I haven‘t seen the book.  I haven‘t head his first two books yet either.  So I don‘t—I wouldn‘t hold your breath on this one.

Well, first of all, I haven‘t read it.  Second, I don‘t know what you‘re referring to.  And third, you can find somebody in government to say almost anything.

SNOW:  In a lot of ways, the book‘s sort of like cotton candy.  It kind of melts on contact.  We‘ve read this book before.  This tends to repeat what we‘ve seen in a number of other books that have been out this year, where people are ventilating old disputes over troop levels.

Like, this is war, and you are going to have a lot of really smart people with completely different opinions.  And quite often, in a book like this, you‘re going to see people who are on the losing side of arguments being especially outspoken about their opinions, and nobody listened to them.  As a matter of fact, the average Washington memoir ought to be subtitled, “If only they‘d listened to me.”

And so you have a situation in which a lot of people are going back through that, which is fine, because these are smart people, and they also want to win.

Rather than a state of denial, it‘s state of the obvious, which is that there have been a number of disagreements over the years about troop levels, and very—people with very strong opinions have disagreed with this.


OLBERMANN:  Disagreements, like, is it an elephant, or is it a mouse?  No surprise that commenting on what is the equivalent of cod liver oil for members of the administration, it is quickly being seized upon as manna from heaven by members of the Democratic Party.


REP. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN:  That state of denial continues to this day.  And if the president refuses to see problems in Iraq, he‘s not going to consider ways to change the dynamic in Iraq.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK:  This administration shows a lot of strength on the war on terror, but not much in terms of smarts.  The evidence keeps pouring out that the administration doesn‘t know what it‘s doing on issue after issue after issue.

SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND:  Maybe none of this was avoidable.  But it appears, from what‘s being reported by Woodward and others, that no real effort was made to try to avoid it.  No planning, no effort, no focus, no attention.


OLBERMANN:  Time now to call in our own Dana Milbank, also the national political reporter, of course, of “The Washington Post.”

Dana, good evening.


Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  President Bush has long said the only voices he listens to regarding Iraq are those of the commanders on the ground there.  In the face of Mr. Woodward‘s book, and the charges therein, is that credible any more?  Do we need to start wondering if the only voices he listens to are the ones inside his own head?

MILBANK:  And a particular one, a high-ranking fellow across the river in the Pentagon.  No, of course we—in the first place, look, we had General Batiste telling Congress earlier this week, all kinds of generals have been asking for higher troop levels all along.

So it comes as no surprise.  But Woodward has now filled in the details here, and pretty excruciating detail here.  We now have John Abizaid, the commander of Central Command, telling John Murtha, the man who‘s asked for a pullout from Iraq, that they are just a tiny bit apart in terms of their own views on this.  We find out that a top official on Iraq in the National Security Council was asking for more troops.

So it sounds like we have the president and this triumvirate of Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and Don Rumsfeld going their own way despite everything they‘re being told by everybody else.

OLBERMANN:  Is that the primary problem resulting from this for the administration?  And if not, which part of the laundry list in the Woodward book appears to be most damaging for the administration?

MILBANK:  Well, a couple of things.  One is that it certainly lays out

and if Bob Woodward isn‘t saying the president is lying, he‘s certainly making a compelling case that he was—that he was warned as early as June of 2003 that things were going wrong there.

So the lying aspect is potentially extremely damaging to the president.

Also the tragedy that people like Jay Garner were saying very early on, if we address this now, and we fix it, we‘ve still have a shot at getting this right, and those suggestions were ignored.

OLBERMANN:  Is there any indication—I mean, you wouldn‘t think so listening to Mr. Snow today, but is there any indication that having the rhetoric—maybe changing the rhetoric in the—basically in the outing of the president‘s dishonesty on this might be a good idea?  Is there anybody arguing within the administration that we need to change the message, not continue to pretend it‘s the messenger‘s fault?

MILBANK:  Well, Andy Card was, but now he‘s in retirement.  So, no, of course not.  I mean, we‘ve seen it.  Past is prologue.  Whenever the administration is being challenged, it merely circles the wagons.  So if anything, this kind of a book is going to be more job security for Don Rumsfeld, and more stay-the-course the rhetoric.

We find out that the president‘s speechwriters being giving 1969 memos written by Henry Kissinger about the dangers of pulling out of Vietnam.  So clearly, we‘re not looking for new rhetoric here.

OLBERMANN:  Does the Woodward book affect the election in any way, even if only by serving to be this week‘s galvanizing force regarding the Democrats and people who are opposed to this war?

MILBANK:  Well, right, it doesn‘t tell people things they didn‘t necessarily know in the first place, but it‘s a validation, particularly because Woodward‘s first two books, particularly his first one on the Bush administration, were very flattering.  The administration essentially endorsed it.

So now that they‘ve gone and endorsed Woodward, he‘s come back and bit them with this book.  It confirms what a lot of people suspected, that the Iraq war has become a debacle, and the administration‘s not been honest about it.

OLBERMANN:  Dana Milbank of MSNBC and “The Washington Post.”  As always, Dana, great thanks for your time.  Have a good weekend.

MILBANK:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  This programming note, on this newshour Monday, we will assess the administration‘s handling of the war in Iraq with the man who was just mentioned there by Dana Milbank, Major General John Batiste, retired, leader of the 1st Infantry Division on the ground in Iraq, who says he was among those who asked for more troops and was turned down.  Major General John Batiste, Monday on COUNTDOWN, 8:00 p.m. and midnight Eastern, 5:00 and 9:00 p.m. Pacific.

Finally, our reporting on Iraq tonight would not be complete without late word out of Iraq tonight that suddenly and without warning today, the city of Baghdad was put under an unexplained curfew, the Iraqi government saying only that it shut the city down till Sunday morning for specific intelligence reasons and security concerns, our own Richard Engel reporting from Baghdad tonight that Iraq‘s deputy prime minister says he has uncovered evidence that the Iraqi military had been planning to perform a coup, which an Iraqi government spokesman says never got beyond the planning stages.

Also here tonight, funny doggoned (ph) thing about Roger Ailes slamming Bill Clinton for slamming his anchorman.  You do remember who it was who arranged for Bush 41 to slam Dan Rather, right?

And a Florida congressman exits stage right in a sex scandal.  Should he hold the door open for a Virginia senator after an MSNBC exclusive, a woman who says she had a confrontation with George Allen over his use of the N-word in public?

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN:  Roger Ailes, the rotund refugee from the Ministry of Truth, was whining about how, during the taping one week ago today, President Clinton had responded to interviewer Chris Wallace breaking his network‘s agreement to devote half their conversation to Clinton‘s charitable effort, the Global Initiative.  “It was an attack on all journalists,” said Ailes between pies.

Then, in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, Ailes told “The Chicago Tribune” that he was delighted about how much publicity the Clinton interview had gathered for Fox News at the time of its current ratings crisis.

A light bulb went off slowly, but it‘s blazing right now.  Remember this infamous CBS “Evening News” interview with then-vice president, then presidential candidate, George H.W. Bush, in 1988?  You know who the media adviser was who set this up, who was literally holding the cue cards from which Mr. Bush read his prepackaged umbrage?  Roger Ailes.



GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  ... whole career, it‘s not fair to judge my whole career by a rehash on Iran.  How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York?  Would you like that?


BUSH:  I have respect for you.  But I don‘t have respect for what you‘re doing here tonight.


OLBERMANN:  Dan Rather was forever after portrayed as attacking a sitting vice president, portrayed as a liberal.  Now the effort is to paint Clinton as doing the same to Fox.  And Ailes is back with another memorable quote.  Don‘t get your hands too close to his mouth, by the way.  “I would have paid him”—President Clinton—“100 grand to help us with marketing, just to get a half-hour of his time.  As it turned out, I got a half-hour of his time and he did it for nothing.  We‘re very grateful.”

So donate the $100,000 to his charity, fat ass.  Charity, C-H-A-R-I-T-Y.

To flesh out the Ailes story, let me call in Craig Crawford, MSNBC analyst and “Congressional Quarterly” columnist, whose terrific book, “Attack the Messenger,” opens with that Ailes-Bush-Rather story.

Craig, good evening.

CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY”:  We got a lot of flesh to work with to flesh this one out, I think.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, certainly we do.

So is Ailes whistling past graveyards here?  I mean, it seems like the only publicity he actually got was within those areas where Fox is already believed.  But the bad publicity certainly galvanized the Democratic Party.  Is Roger Ailes slipping?

CRAWFORD:  Well, they could never resist the Clintons, you know, with the conservative movement and those conservatives at Fox.  I mean, if Fox were a church, you know, Clinton would surely be their devil.  They‘ve beaten him up every Sunday.  And I do think, though, there was this other impact, which was that Clinton, by design or happenstance, energized a lot of the Democrats out there who have just been desperate for leadership within—from their own elected leaders, the official leaders of the party, to show that kind of passion.

OLBERMANN:  Speaking of design or happenstance in a different context, obviously Bush 41‘s anger with Dan Rather had to be manufactured.  I saw President Clinton immediately before the Wallace interview, and I interviewed him immediately after it, and he was still visibly upset that Fox had broken that deal with him, so that political end of it, Bush 41 needed cue cards to exploit the opportunity.  Did Clinton just see it before him like a fumble in a football game, just ad lib, beating Chris Wallace senseless like that?

CRAWFORD:  Well, yes, I‘ve talked to so many associates of Clinton over the years, and a couple since this happened, and, you know, they always say, you know, when we see these moments, that it‘s the Clinton they know and knew in private, exploding with anger at sometimes the smallest things.  Someone described him one time as one of those kind of people who just thinks he can just keep saying it over and over again and louder and louder, until you believe it.

And I think that, on the other hand, I would have to say, he had to be mindful that he was getting a passionate message out there to some of the Democrats who are desperate for that.  And, of course, the Clintons want to be seen as the leaders of this party, for other reasons, not just this campaign, but the next one in 2008.

OLBERMANN:  By the way, those same employees are the ones who like to point out that after those events, when they happen internally, the Clinton choice gift of apology is a small box that simply contains earphones—earplugs.

So, now, twice I‘ve mentioned the first Mr. Bush and the cue cards.  That‘s no hyperbole.  You told that story so well in your book.  Can you capsulize it here?  It was an Ailes production, right?

CRAWFORD:  Yes, I deconstructed that interview that you just played between Bush 41 and Dan Rather in the very first chapter of “Attack the Messenger,” because I thought it was a real symbolic moment in a new phase in attacking the media by politicians, that entire Bush campaign, which, by the way, Roger Ailes was actually the campaign manager of that campaign.

And the cameraman in that interview that you showed earlier, the CBS cameraman, George Christian, a veteran cameraman, told me that Roger Ailes stood right next to him with a cue card, and that particular moment you showed, where Bush attacked Rather for walking out on the set and threatened to walk out on the set, that Roger Ailes had on a cue card written, “Now ask,” and put the substance of that question on there. 

In fact, he had to write it in really large letters, Keith, because the camera had been placed about 30 feet away from the vice president, and for the vice president to see the cue card, they had to write it in really large letters.

OLBERMANN:  Wonderful.  So if the Ministry of Truth, that would be Fox, and the White House have spent so much time attacking the messenger these days, why are their ratings down?  Why are they firing hosts and Washington bureau chiefs over there?  Why—do people seem to have figured out the game?  Ailes looks a little like Rod Steiger playing Napoleon as it is.  Has he hit a Waterloo?

CRAWFORD:  Well, I don‘t know about their internals, but I do know that, you know, the Fox News Channel‘s much like political campaigns, where you see a strong base.  They play to the base.  But they reach a point where it‘s a little hard to broaden out from that.  And we see that in politics in both Democrat and the Republican side, where they preach to the base, they use the partisan rhetoric, and have a loyal following.

But then, that very act of doing that makes it harder to branch out to the centrist, moderate, reasonable voters who don‘t want to hear that kind of partisanship.

OLBERMANN:  I‘m sure Mr. Ailes wishes that personally he could stop broadening out.

Craig Crawford.  The book is “Attack the Messenger,” and if you have not read especially that opening description of that original Bush-Rather interview, it is worth it just for that.

Craig, thanks for your time.

CRAWFORD:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  A new D.C. scandal mushrooming out of control in just days.  Now Representative Mark Foley has resigned.  A man who served as the chair of the House caucus looking into protecting children caught sending suggestive e-mails to at least one underage boy.

An outrage of a much different kind.  Sure, the Animal Olympics celebrates the best of the best in the four-legged world.  But are the humans just pushing these animals too hard?  And is it time for revenge of the bears?

That‘s ahead on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  On this date in 1907, construction began on the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.  It had been authorized by a vote of Congress a mere 13 years earlier.  Construction had been declared completed in 1990.  If you need to know anything else about our nation‘s capital, I can‘t think what it could be.

Let‘s play “Oddball.”

We begin in China, host of the upcoming 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.  And if those go anything like these, you‘re going to wear a flea and tick collar.  It‘s the two-month-long Festival of Interspecies Athletic Competition and animal cruelty that is the 2006 Animal Olympics in Shanghai.

Yes, those are bears boxing.  One can only hope they attacked and ate the referee between rounds and then went into the stands, because everybody knows it‘s the bicycle events that the bears dominate.  Notice how the monkey bikes are all over the place, while Bear makes short work of the process.  Stick to pole climbing, you damn dirty apes.

Back to Indian for an update on that video last night that we found on the Internets.  Wait a minute, let me turn my earphone down.  The creepy little dancing kid who‘s come to be known on the interweb as Little Superstar, we were not able to find his name, nor could we find the name of the movie or show he‘s appearing in, or if he does this door to door.  Then again, we didn‘t really look for any of this information, either.  What we did find was another clip of the little guy.

He smokes, he dances, he lays the smackdown.  He really is a superstar.

And he‘ll be back, because the odd hasn‘t gotten even yet.  An extra-special bonus edition of all the “Oddball Plays of the Month” still ahead.

And nothing funny at all from two members of the GOP, another person who clearly recalls Senator Allen using the N-word.  Congressman Mark Foley apparently sent sexually explicit messages to teenage pages.  He‘s out.

Those stories ahead.

But now, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, the known defendant, actually the guy sitting outside the district judge‘s office at Greensberg, Pennsylvania, was Justin Kalich (ph), accused of stealing $600 worth of wire.  So exactly why was he wearing a box on his head?  Just to make sure witnesses really did recognize him at the hearing, says his lawyer.  The novel disguise proved unnecessary, and Mr. Kalich agreed simply to pay for the $600 worth of wire.

Number two, student fans at North Carolina State football games.  After problems with overcrowding, access to the student seating sections was limited.  If you left your seat, you might not be able to get back to it.  So some students did not leave for the whole game, and when they had to urinate, or worse, they just did it at the seat.  The school is working on the problem.  I thought it was North Carolina, not North Carolina State, where the teams were known as the Tarheels.

But number one, Pink Taco Restaurants.  Having failed to buy naming rights to the new football stadium in Arizona, they claim to be interested in buying them for the new football stadium or the open football stadium in New Orleans, which would then, of course, be known as the Pink Taco Dome.  If you‘re not already laughing, just go look this up online.  I ain‘t gonna be the sucker who has to explain it to you.


OLBERMANN:  Six weeks before Election Day, and one House representative is already gone.  Our third story in the COUNTDOWN, Congressman Mark Foley, and Republican co-chair House caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, stepping down today after he was confronted today about sexually explicit instant messages he sent to minors obtained by ABC News, which also reported a class of pages in the House was warned in advance about Foley.  According to ABC Foley used the AOL screen name—or screen name MAF54 in instant messages with congressional pages.

Quote, Foley, “What are you wearing?”

Teen, “T-shirt and shorts.

Foley, “Love to slip them off you,” and Foley, “Do I make you a little horny,” unquote?

Teen, “A little.”

Foley, “Cool.”

Foley, whose district, you may remember, included the key disputed precincts in the 2000 presidential election and who loudly demanded that his voters be freed from the recount, issued a statement of apology.  Among his more recent accomplishments, legislation he said closed, “loopholes that sex offenders and pedophiles have used to prey on children.”

Expanding reasons for sex offender registration to include “use of the internet to facilitate or commit a crime against a minor.”

Meantime the father of Senator George Allen of Virginia was the famous and famously eccentric national football coach of the same name.  And 15 years ago when we both worked in Los Angeles, Coach Allen and I were friendly and this saga unfolded. 

Chatting with Allen at an interview, one of my producers told him, “You know, I‘m a coach too, I‘m the quarterback and coach of my flag football team.  We‘ve won the title three years in a row.  Allen smiled. 

The next day the phone rang in the producer‘s office.  “George Allen here,

listen would you like to have lunch?  I am coaching a celebrity flag

football team for some TV show and I can‘t quite work out my plays.  I

could use your help”

For hours, George Allen picked my producer‘s brain on how to adopt the intricacies of pro football set plays to celebrity flag football.  He filled out a handwritten playbook for flag football—for celebrity flag football.  For celebrity flag football about which the celebrities could not have cared less.  And we are supposed to believe that the son of a man that obsessed with the tiniest most arcane details did not know his own mother‘s ethnic and religious heritage until a few weeks ago. 

It is not Senator‘s Allen‘s heritage that‘s the primary question right now, but what he has said about the heritage of others.  Yesterday the senator introduced a bill that would let 72,000 black farmers seek payment under a 1999 civil rights settlement for past discrimination even though they missed the original deadline for filing.  Allen‘s office said he responsored the bill as soon as he learned it would be considered in the house. 

National Black Farmers Association president John Boyd has told COUNTDOWN this evening, he has sought Allen‘s help on this issue for five years.  Five years during which he says some 10,000 black farmers who were waiting for that deadline extension, lost their farms, went bankrupt or died. 

And all of this on the heels of still another alleged eyewitness account of Allen‘s past use of racial slurs.  This one recounted exclusively to MSNBC‘s David Shuster. 


DAVID SHUSTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Just six weeks before the congressional elections and Virginia‘s incumbent Senator George Allen is now facing more charges that he used racial slurs. 

Pat Waring of Chesterton, Maryland first brought her story to MSNBC when she contacted us in a direct phone call.  We then conducted a series of interviews.  Waring says that at a sports match in the late 1970‘s Allen repeatedly used the “N” word to describe blacks. 

PAT WARING, ALLEN ACCUSER:  I just didn‘t think in the late ‘70s people would be so ugly and so overt about it, so public. 

SHUSTER:  Waring says that in 1978 she and her then husband, Robert Michael Schwartz, had moved to Charlesville, Virginia.  Friends from the time confirm Schwartz was a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Virginia, an avid rugby player, and the volunteer coach of the school‘s rugby club team. 

MSNBC has also confirmed, Pat Waring worked in a doctor‘s office and came to some of the rugby game.  Waring says there was one game from either the Fall of 1978 or the Spring of 1979 that she will never forget. 

WARING:  I heard, to my left, the “N” word, and I heard it again and I looked around, and I heard it again.  And there was this fellow sitting on the ground.  He was putting on red rugby shoes.  It‘s seared in my brain, believe me.  And he was kind of showing off, I guess.  But he was telling a story about something or other, and in the story was a lot of “N” words.  So I got out of the bleacher and went over and said young man, I‘m the coach‘s wife and if you don‘t mind, would you please not use that word?  And he in essence told me to buzz off.

SHUSTER:  But there is more to the story.  A few weeks after the alleged incident at the rugby game, Waring said she and an elderly relative ran into Allen at a local fair. 

WARING:  I did not shake his hand.  I just looked him in the eye and said you don‘t remember me do you?  Then he remembered me.  And then I could see the light go on in his eyes and at that point he turned and scurried off like a scared rabbit, I guess. 

SHUSTER:  The aunt, who allegedly witnessed the run-in at the fair, passed away.  Another relative whom we spoke to said Waring told the story through the years.  And several people say she talked about it this summer.

WARING:  I‘d thought about it since I heard that George Allen was being considered as a Republican person to run—a possible candidate for the presidency.  And I thought, well gee, then in this case I will have to speak up, but then “macaca” presented itself. 

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN ® VIRGINIA:  Let‘s give a welcome to macaca here. 

Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.

SHUSTER:  Macaca is a racial slur among French speaking people from North African countries like Tunisia.  Allen‘s mother grew up in Tunisia.  But on MEET THE PRESS recently.

ALLEN:  Oh, just made up.  It‘s just made up.  A made up word. 

TIM RUSSERT, MEET THE PRESS:  You‘d never heard it before. 

ALLEN:  Never heard it before.

SHUSTER:  This week as he has in the past, Allen repeatedly denied ever using the “N” word. 

ALLEN:  My response to this article is that it is completely false in its allegations.  I do not remember ever using that word. 

SHUSTER:  Neal Brendel who played rugby with George Allen and remembers sitting at some games with Pat Waring, says he does not remember the alleged incident.  Further more Brendel says, “I don‘t recall ever hearing Allen use the ‘N‘ word on or off the field, nor do I recall him ever talking about anybody unfairly.” 

The democratic challenger to Allen in Virginia is Jim Webb. 

(on camera):  Have you ever had any contact with anybody in the Webb campaign or any of his supporters in Virginia? 


SHUSTER:  Have you ever had any contact with the Virginia Democratic Party? 


SHUSTER:  If George Allen was the democratic candidate in this race.

WARING:  I‘d nail him even harder.  That‘s what I‘d do.

SHUSTER (voice-over):  Waring says she would challenge the person no matter what party they belonged to.  She said the issue with Allen is not that he allegedly used the “N” word all those years ago, but that she believes he is lying today. 

WARING:  When George Allen stood right up and said he‘d never used that word and that just blew me away.  I thought “Boy, you could, if you had any integrity, you would have says, yes, I may have made some mistakes in my youth, in my younger years, but—and I am sorry.”  But to hear him lie about it when I know he‘s lying. 

SHUSTER (on camera):  Senator Allen‘s campaign manager says this is another false accusation.  When asked how he knows that, he said simply, “It‘s not true.” 

The Allen campaign also said we should also report a claim made about Democrat Jim Webb.  But the man we were directed to by the Allen campaign has not returned our phone calls.  And until we have an opportunity to evaluate his credibility, interview him on camera and subject him to the same scrutiny we brought to the accuser in tonight‘s report, we will not broadcast his claims.  However, our effort to cover both Senate candidates in this race will continue. 

I am David Shuster for COUNTDOWN in Washington. 


OLBERMANN:  Thank you David.  Remember the flag football playbook.  Also, tonight, seven minutes in heaven or at least close to it.  How Virgin Galactic is planning to take customers into zero gravity orbit.  We‘ll get a tour. 

And given her past marital history, maybe it‘s no surprise that Anna Nicole Smith‘s latest foray down aisle is anything but normal.  In fact, it‘s not even legal, but we do have liftoff.  That‘s ahead, this is COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  A lesson in economy is the first passenger on Richard Branson‘s tourist spaceship scores his seat with frequent flyer miles.  It could be worse, could be “Oddball‘s” plays of the month.  COUNTDOWN continues.


OLBERMANN:  Our number two story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, neat stuff in space, like this picture of the sun.  See the little smudges on the left-hand side?  Those are supposed to actually be the space station on the right and the space shuttle on the left silhouetted against as they orbited the earth.  The photo taken by a Frenchman who rigged up a digital camera to a special telescope or is the best PhotoShopper in the world. 

And if Richard Branson is successful, we should all be able to see things like that up close in space.  A couple of mile closer, he‘s not planning on running shuttles to the sun.  His company‘s prototype tourist spaceship was successfully it tested in 2004.  Now we know what it looks like inside.  Keir Simmons of our affiliated British network, ITV reports on Virgin Galactic‘s cabin and I helped. 


KEIR SIMMONS, ITV CORRESPONDENT:  The inside of the craft will have eight seats, two for pilots and six for passengers.  Each passenger will have their on windows.  But for seven minutes, you‘ll be able to unbuckle and simply float. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Three, two, one, release.

(voice-over):  A prototype has already been tested and one ticket, for two years time, has even been bought by an electrician using frequent flier miles. 

ALAN WATTS, SPACE PASSENGER:  You got the G-forces accelerating here, that‘ll be interesting.  You got the weightlessness, again, that‘ll be—how many people who like this, and, you know, that‘ll be very interesting. 

SIMMONS:  But Virgin is facing major competition from companies such as Rocketplane Kistler, Space Adventures, and Planet Space.  And wanting to go suborbital, blasting 62 miles above earth will set you back 100 million pounds.

OLBERMANN (voice-over):  That‘s $200,000. 

SIMMONS:  Space Adventures already offer a fully orbital flight costing 10 million pounds.

OLBERMANN:  That‘s $20 million. 

SIMMONS:  And sent a female passenger into space in recent weeks.  They‘re even planning to fly slingshot around the moon and charge 50 million pounds. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s $100 million.

SIMMONS:  It‘s a new space race, yet a now green Richard Branson claims it will be environmentally friendly. 

RICHARD BRANSON, VIRGIN GALACTIC:  We‘re burning a fuel that is putting almost putting out no CO2 emissions at all. 

SIMMONS:  Keir Simmons, ITV News, New York.


OLBERMANN:  Not entirely clear when Anna Nicole smith will return from the Bahamas though lately it seems her whole life is unfolding there.  Our nightly roundup of celebrity and tabloid news.  Now Ms. Smith has exchanged wedding vows.  The lucky guy, her long-time lawyer and spokesman and apparently boyfriend, Howard K. Stern.  There was no marriage license. 

The couple, “exchanged vows before God.”  According to Ms. Smith‘s other lawyer, Michael Scott, God was apparently was onboard catamaran near Nassau in the Bahamas and the ceremony was not legally binding.  This just days after Mr. Stern professed he was the father of Ms. Smith‘s newborn daughter, Dannilynn Hope, 22-days-old.  Nineteen days ago that Daniel Smith died in the mother‘s hospital room. 

Well, the clearer picture of high definition TV makes most things look better, doesn‘t improve everything, case in point, apparently not Rosie O‘Donnell.  Philip Swan, who compiles a worst looking celebrity on high definition TV list every year, on the industry Web site, says Miss O‘Donnell takes the top spot this year.  Why? 

According to Swan, “No one enjoys the view of Rosie in high def, most people use a washcloth to clean their face, but Rosie looks like she uses a Brillo pad.  Her face is extremely coarse and rough looking in high deaf.”  This written by a man named Swan. 

Maybe spa treatment would help.  Works for him.  The now hairless dude, plus idiots throwing flaming rags at each other, just some of the featured “Oddballs” of September.  That‘s ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for “Worst Person in the World.”

And remember to buy the book.  Ahh! Must of picked up the wrong book. 

But, come to think of it, check out where they put the discount sticker.  Very nice.  And what‘s with this picture?  Bill-O, you‘re dressed up like a teenaged Olympic gymnast.

Anyway, the nominees, the Bronze to Senator Trent Lott.  We got a visitation from beyond form Senator Strom Thurmond, apparently, on religious violence on Iraq.  “Why do they hate each other?  Why do Sunnis kill Shiites,” he said, “How do they tell the difference?  They all look the same to me.” 

Dr. James C. Burda is on the list of Athens, Ohio.  He‘s a chiropractor, at least he was.  He surrendered his license to authorities after a malpractice claim.  He was charging patients $60 an hour to heal their pain telepathically.  He claimed he could go back in time to point of the injury and realign the jarred bones.  Hey Doc, while you‘re back there, could you visit me in 1991 and tell me not to regrow that stupid moustache? 

But our winner—we need to clarify a previous worst.  We reported that Illinois congressional candidate Peter Roskam had said his opponent Tammy Duckworth wanted to “cut and run from Iraq” even though she lost both her legs there while serving as a helicopter pilot.  Jason Row from the Roskam campaign charged us with intellectual dishonesty because Roskam merely said that the Illinois sixth is “not a cut and run district.” 

Hey pal, this is about campaigning against a woman who has no legs because they were cut off while she served in Iraq and still being insensitive enough to use the phrase “cut and run.”  You leave the intellectual to us, we‘ll leave the dishonest to you. 

Peter Roskam and staffer, Jason Row, today‘s “Worst Persons in the World.” 


OLBERMANN:  Extra “Oddball,” extra anniversaries.  Eighteen years ago today, cartoonist Charles Adams died.  He did not succumb to boiling oil dropped on him by the neighbors.  He was not found in a bathing suit on a beach with a newspaper protecting his face reading “Arch Duke Ferdinand Shot at Sarajevo,” he just gave into a bad heart. 

But our number one story in the COUNTDOWN, we like to think that the creator of Gomez, Morticia, and Lurch lives on in our regular feature, the “Oddball:  Plays of the Month.” 

We begin 11 kilometers off the Norwegian coast.

We begin in Jongjin (ph).

We begin at the bottom of the ocean and it‘s another “Saturday Night Live” sketch come to live.  It‘s a walking shark.  Land shark.  Plumber ma‘am.

And we begin in Chicago, where the whether is already so cold this is what your SUV will like if you leave it out overnight. 

To Peoria, Illinois were the power company is about to hike its rates for the first time in 10 years.  Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn says he‘s got the perfect way to protest the move—teabag them fat-cats. 

We begin with scary video we found on the internet.  Skydiver helmet cam, and remember even at 5,000 feet, to look both ways before crossing.  He appears to have survived.  The same cannot be said so confident by about his underwear. 

To Germany now for the hell this is. 



And we begin on the gridiron in South Bend, Indiana, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame set to take on the Wolverines of Michigan tomorrow, a game you‘re not likely to get a ticket to.  So when Jason Gordon, of Michigan, a huge Irish fan, said he wanted a go, his buddies said they‘d give him two seats if he‘d submit to a full body waxing.  Oh doctor, Kelly Clarkson.  That woman is turning a furry wolverine into a hairless leprechaun. 

That fellow is losing hair faster than that a defense gives up field position. 

OK, stop looking at me.  Stop looking at me!

This is crazy.  This is crazy.  This is crazy!

Baby pandas.  Look at them. 

Mmmm, spilled chicken guts.  Aaaaah!

Mmmm, sausage gulag.  Aaaaaah!

Mmmm, margarine Monroe.  Aaaaaaah!

Whether man who was not identified was delivering his forecast when he realized that he had been accosted by an actual cockroach. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And eventually, as you can. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I am so sorry, Bill. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, my god! Oh, my god there it is!

OLBERMANN:  To India and more weird video we found on the Internets.  No real context to this other than it appears to have come from a Bollywood movie or something and I can‘t decide if it‘s cute or really creepy. 

No one can doubt the kid‘s got moves, but it‘s the very end of the clip which makes you wonder just what the heck is going on over there. 

Isn‘t that cute? 

To Washington, where Congress marked the September 11 anniversary yesterday by joining together once again on the steps of the capitol to sing the national anthem.  A solemn and respectful event that would not have made “Oddball,” had Speaker of House Hastert just backed away from the microphone a tad or remembering the words. 

HASTERT (singing):  Oh say can you see, by the star‘s early light.  Or the ramparts we wailed.

OLBERMANN:  Ladies and gentlemen, how about a big hand for the congressman from Illinois, Enrico Palatso. 

CROWD:  Enrico Palatso!  Enrico Palatso!  Enrico Palatso!

OLBERMANN:  And we begin in Sukani (ph), India, where it is that time of year, back to witchcraft school.  Students from all over the village come to this Eastern edition of Hogwarts to thwart the influence of dominant of witchdoctors.  On the syllabus, students must practice exorcisms, whip their backs with metal stuff, and light little girls‘ heads on fire.  I don‘t know.  I think that‘s just how people who disapprove of electricity have ideas.  No light bulb so they get a flame.  Uh oh.

A little “Spitzal” (ph), and little “Zorolinia (ph), and a little “Rocky Horror” all dressed up in little pope and bishop outfits.  Aw, don‘t they look miserable? 

This is a tradition dating back 10 years in which men in masks mark the anniversary of a volcanic eruption by hurling flaming gasoline soaked rag balls at each other.  Luckily, tomorrow is the anniversary of a great flood, so the big hose fight ought to take care of any lingering blazes. 

To the Internets, and while everyone else is chasing around that crazy new Elmo, it‘s this new Barbie doll set that caught our attention. 

ANNOUNCER:  Tanner wants a treat. 

Uh oh.

You potty trained Tanner, Barbie.

OLBERMANN:  What girl wouldn‘t be thrilled with a toy dog that can mess her carpet? 


OLBERMANN:  Oh, That‘s COUNTDOWN for this, the 1,245th since the declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. 

Also this reminder to join us again at Midnight Eastern tonight, 11:00 p.m.  Central, 9:00 Pacific for the late edition of COUNTDOWN.  Up next, HEADLINERS & LEGENDS:  BETTY BRODERICK.

In New York, I‘m Keith Olbermann.  Goodnight and good luck.



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