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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Jan. 19

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Richard Wolffe, Joseph Cirincione, Seth MacFarlane

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

The president making U.S. troops into virtual human shields to keep Congress from cutting off war funding.  That‘s what Speaker Pelosi implies, as the shooting war of words resumes between Capitol Hill and the White House.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER:  He has dug a hole so deep, he can‘t even see the light on this.  It‘s a tragedy, it‘s a historic blunder.


OLBERMANN:  Was it a blunder to turn down the Chinese when they offered to negotiate what you militarily can and cannot do in space, considering the Chinese just fired a rocket into space and just blew an old weather satellite out of orbit?

The kidnapping and possible sexual abuse of Shawn Hornbeck.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Obviously something was done to keep him there.


OLBERMANN:  Not obvious to Bill O‘Reilly, now trying to pretend he never said Hornbeck was not a victim, but a volunteer.


BILL O‘REILLY:  The situation here for this kid looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents.


OLBERMANN:  And in 49 days, that man is supposed to be the keynote speaker at a $500-per-person fundraiser for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

More monkey business.  Stunned zookeepers now think they have the answer.  How does a female chimpanzee get pregnant in a zoo full of males who‘ve all had vasectomies?  And no, it‘s not immaculate conception.

And clash of the fraud versus the fraud satirizer.


BILL O‘REILLY:  I‘m effete.  I‘m not a tough guy.  I, this is all an act.

STEPHEN COLBERT:  You‘re breaking my heart, Bill.

O‘REILLY:  I‘m sensitive, I‘m—you know, I‘m a (INAUDIBLE)...

STEPHEN COLBERT:  If you‘re an act, then what am I?


OLBERMANN:  (INAUDIBLE) on them, on rivalries, on whatever else grinds his gears with “Family Guy‘s” Seth MacFarlane.

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

Good evening from New York.

In the world according to George W. Bush, bipartisanship is acceptable, so long as the political opposition does not criticize him for still doing exactly what he wants.  The possibly of an arms race in space is also acceptable, as long as the United States would automatically win that race.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, the president today coming up against the limitations of what he believes to be acceptable, maybe what he believes to be real, China flexing its military muscle by destroying one of its own space satellites with a ballistic missile, after Mr. Bush ignored calls for a global ban on such testing, and the Democratic Speaker of the House challenging the president‘s motives for sending an additional 21,500 American troops to Iraq after Mr. Bush ignored opposition to such an escalation.

We begin with the war at home over the war in Iraq, Speaker of the House Pelosi telling ABC News that the president‘s war is a tragedy and a stark blunder, Mr. Bush, in her words, having dug a hole so deep he cannot even see the light, the White House chafing at her suggestion it‘s sending the additional troops to Iraq as quickly as possible because it knows lawmakers would not pull funding once troops were already on the ground.


PELOSI:  The president knows that, because the troops are in harm‘s way, that we won‘t cut off the resources.  That‘s why he‘s moving so quickly to put them in harm‘s way.

DIANE SAWYER, HOST:  Are you saying that the president deliberately manipulated the timing that he sent the troops in, in order to avoid congressional action?

PELOSI:  Well, I would certainly hope he didn‘t manipulate the timing of sending the troops in.  I think he could have told us about it sooner, and invited any comments we might have had, any constructive proposals we might have had.


OLBERMANN:  White House spokeswoman Dana Perino describing the Speaker‘s words as, quote, “poisonous,” adding that it is certainly not in keeping with the bipartisan spirit and civility that the Democrats pledged.

Let‘s call in our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.

Richard, good evening.


Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  A majority opposition calls for bipartisan cooperation on Iraq, and the president ignores the opposition.  The majority opposition complains about being ignored, and then the White House says the opposition is not being bipartisan.  Is there an irony siren that goes off at the White House, or can we get one installed?

WOLFFE:  Are they irony-deficient?  You know, look, this is a White House that has always defined bipartisan on its own terms, Democrats who work with the administration to support its current policy.  And this is the real test for the White House now.  Can they come up with a new definition of bipartisan that means compromise, as many people would understand it?

Here‘s the problem on the war.  The best bipartisan line the White House has right now is this idea that failure in Iraq would be disaster for the United States.  The problem is, the White House doesn‘t understand that most Democrats already think the war is a failure already, and already a disaster for the United States.  If they can‘t agree on how to look at the war, how can they agree on a solution?

OLBERMANN:  General Casey said today that the additional troops being sent to Iraq could begin to be withdrawn by late summer if the security conditions improve in Baghdad.  Haven‘t we been hearing that for four years now?  Has not the administration been hearing that for four years now?

WOLFFE:  We have, and there‘s a certain Groundhog quality—Groundhog Day quality to all of this, which is that, give it another six months, the Iraqi prime minister will crack down on militias, they‘ll have this new carbon law.  A lot of people in Congress are wondering when these things are going to be delivered.  And frankly, people inside the White House are wondering those things to.  It‘s ironic that they always want more time.  Iraq obviously needs a lot more time than members of Congress are willing to give it.

OLBERMANN:  The Bush State Department official, a former member of that department, Larry Wilkerson, told the BBC that in 2003, Iran offered the administration a package of concessions nearly identical to what our government is now demanding from Tehran, only back then, Vice President Cheney‘s office rejected the Iranian overture.

Is there any sense of how long it might take this country to straighten out the disastrous effects of this kind of unilateral don‘t-tread-on-me foreign policy that we see in this example, in the Chinese military satellite orbital destructive qualities issues?  Is there any sense that they—that, that, that we can dig ourselves out of this hole?

WOLFFE:  Well, Iran is a fabulous case in point here.  The administration set its own problems up in early 2002, when it said Iran was part of the axis of evil.  Now it wants to be very multilateral and very diplomatic with Iran, and really all of its efforts are steered through the U.N., through the E.U. partners.  And, you know, Tehran, not surprisingly, is more suspicious.

It also has a more hostile regime.  They were calling it axis of evil well before President Ahmadinejad came to power.  So it has set this up to be a much more difficult problem than it was two or three years ago.

OLBERMANN:  Back to the domestic stuff.  There is a new poll out that

suggests that Americans now dislike the president, dislike the president,

more than they dislike Vice President Cheney.  And the source of the poll

is most interesting.  It‘s Opinion Dynamics for Fox News.  They both have

disapproval numbers over 50 percent, but Cheney‘s is smaller.  Is—how do

how do we read this?  Should this be interpreted as good news for Mr.

Cheney?  Is it a sign from Fox News to Mr. Bush?  What does that mean?

WOLFFE:  I, you know, these are extraordinary numbers.  I don‘t know if you—they want to retire the trophy for the most unpopular person inside the administration.  But I guess it‘s a reason to be cheerful in the vice president‘s office.  You know, I, the president, I, he doesn‘t read the polls, he says, although Karl Rove spends an awful lot of time doing just that.

So they don‘t like these numbers.  They don‘t like any of these bad numbers.  But they‘ve got a lot bigger problems than the numbers right now, and that‘s Iraq.

OLBERMANN:  And certainly then a material version of that problem comes Tuesday, with the State of the Union.  Do we have any late indications on how the president is going to approach Iraq, having given (INAUDIBLE), given this speech a week ago that, that really went over like the proverbial lead balloon?

WOLFFE:  Well, it‘s a do-over time.  They‘re making this the second effort, another chance to style (ph) the war.  There‘s going to be a certain challenge to Democrats to support the war and to work together on immigration and energy and a whole host of other things.

But the president‘s going to be trying to speak not just to the Democrats, but the Republicans too, saying, Please work with me on Iraq and everything else.  Because right now, that‘s his biggest challenge domestically.

OLBERMANN:  Richard Wolffe of MSNBC and, of course, of “Newsweek” magazine.  Great thanks, Richard.  Have a great weekend.

WOLFFE:  And you.

OLBERMANN:  As we mentioned, China fueling fears of an arms race in space by conducting antisatellite weapons test last week, in which one of its old weather satellites was destroyed by a Chinese missile, the Bush administration not alone today in criticizing the Chinese government for that test, having kept a lid on it for a week, so it could weigh the significance that China felt free to blow up its own satellite only possible because, in late August, Mr. Bush ignored calls for a global treaty that would ban such tests.

Why might he do that?  Perhaps because his administration has been working on, quote, “a powerful ground-based laser weapon that would be used against enemy satellites.”

Let‘s call in nuclear weapons expert Joseph Cirincione, the senior vice president for national security of the Center for American Progress, also co-author of “Deadly Arsenals: Tracking Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

Thanks for your time again tonight, sir.


OLBERMANN:  Was it a mistake to turn down the Chinese and the Russians when they offered to negotiate setting ground rules for weapons in space?  And might this be an attempt by the Chinese now to get the Bush administration back to the bargaining table?

CIRINCIONE:  It was definitely a mistake to turn them down.  I condemn the Chinese test.  There‘s no justification for that test.  But there is an explanation.  For the last six years, the Bush administration has been yelling loudly about our intentions to militarize space.  We‘ve established a U.S. Space Command.  We talk about space dominance.  We have a half-dozen very expensive space weapons on the drawing boards.  We have insisted that we have an unimpeded access to space, but we‘ve also insisted on our right to knock out other countries‘ satellites.

We have voted against efforts to have treaties that would ban these kinds of weapons.  In October 2005, 160 nations at the United Nations voted for a treaty to ban weapons in space.  The U.S. was the only nation that voted against that treaty.  China has gotten the hint.  They say, You want a race?  OK, bring it on.

OLBERMANN:  So if we don‘t get back into negotiations with the Chinese, the Russians, if we don‘t go along with the U.N. proposal, are we looking, realistically, at another nuclear arms race, only this one with the weapons pointed outwards?

CIRINCIONE:  The race is already on.  We‘ve been racing by ourselves.  China has now joined that race.  They‘ve demonstrated that they have a capability, as we do, to launch a missile that could knock out a satellite.  The trouble is, we‘re the big losers in that competition.  We have over 420 satellites in space, more than the rest of the world combined.  China has only about 34.

We have more to lose from such a race.  You have two choices here.  Either you start this race, which will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and require us to harden our satellites, maneuver our satellites, have spare satellites to go into space, and develop antisatellite weapons of our own.  Or you negotiate a ban on any weapons in space and stop this madness before it gets started.

OLBERMANN:  Not to get too cynical from the beginning on this, but was the idea here in our refusal to be involved in this, that we should not be banning weapons in space,  because whether or not they ultimately worked, developing them for this country would be forth hundreds of million dollars to American defense contractors?

CIRINCIONE:  You don‘t have to be an Eisenhower scholar or have seen the documentary “Why We Fight” to know that there really is a military-industrial complex, and there‘s a lot of money to be made in weapons, particularly space weapons.  Space is very expensive and very profitable.  And what we have here is a fusion of that military-industrial complex with the ideologues in the White House that is propelling us towards a space race.

My only hope is that the next administration will come to its senses and stop this madness and negotiate a treaty that preserves the peaceful uses of space for all nations, including the United States.

OLBERMANN:  Something else we have to keep our fingers crossed about through the beginning of ‘09.  But in the short term, before that, if the Chinese are capable now of shooting down one of their own satellites in space, are there military implications for what else they might be able to do back here on the planet?

CIRINCIONE:  Oh, certainly.  They just demonstrated the capability to shoot what‘s called a low-earth-orbiting satellite.  Most of our space surveillance and tracking systems are in those low-earth orbits.  So they could knock out our eyes, ears, sensors in space.  They could cripple U.S.  military operations in any conflict.

And it opens up this interesting, unresolved question of where one‘s territory ends.  The Chinese are saying, The space above our land is our territory.  There‘s no clear law on this.  That‘s one—another reason to negotiate a treaty, to clarify that everyone has a right to space.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, why would we ever have wanted a treaty to stop anything like that?

Joseph Cirincione of the Center for American Progress.  Once again, sir, thanks for your time tonight.

CIRINCIONE:  My pleasure, Keith.  Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN:  The jury selection for the Scooter Libby trial sounding more and more like a bizarre version of political “American Idol.”  One prospective juror hopes to get a billion dollars‘ worth of defense contracts from the administration.  But good heavens, why would you think that might influence her belief that you can only trust the Bush administration?

As the parents of Shawn Hornbeck speak out about their son‘s four-year abduction, why is the Center for Missing and Exploited Children still planning to have Bill O‘Reilly speak at a fundraiser after his outrageous comments blaming the boy?

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN:  We can add an unusual metric today to the ways we gauge just how unpopular and untrustworthy this current administration is in the eyes of the American public.

In our fourth story tonight, opening arguments in the trial of former Cheney chief of staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby have been pushed back a day—they will start next Tuesday—because so many prospective jurors have been dismissed from service this week due to their distrust and dislike of the administration, the vice president, and their war.

Forty-nine prospective jurors have been called.  Thirteen of them, 27 percent, were sent home because they felt so strongly that they could not be impartial.  At first blush, it‘s tempting to characterize this jury pool as a microcosm of an American public skeptical about the war and the president.  But what is striking is the unique perspective this jury pool brings.  Some of its members actually work for the government.

For more perspective on the perspective of the prospective jurors, let‘s bring in MSNBC‘s David Shuster, who has been there for every day of jury selection.

David, good evening.  Thanks for your time.


OLBERMANN:  Out of 49 potential jurors, only one seemed to be aggressively pro-administration, pro-war?  What can you tell us about this woman?

SHUSTER:  Well, she‘s originally from Great Britain, and she is a business development executive for Lockheed Martin, which is a military contractor, of course.  She supported the war.  And in case anybody sort of missed her comment about how much she makes, she said she is currently making—she‘s currently chasing a billion dollars in potential business.  And again, while that turned heads, she turned heads again when she repeated that.

Furthermore, she said she had no criticism of the Bush administration. 

She had no feelings, really, about the decisions about prewar intelligence.  And at one point she said, How can you have an opinion unless you are there inside the White House with the president and the vice president making those decisions?

OLBERMANN:  Certainly would cut down the jury pool if you limited it to those in the White House.

Contrast her feelings about the administration with those of the two administration insiders who were questioned.  There was woman with top secret clearance when she worked at the Pentagon.  There was another woman who has security clearance as a manager working for Homeland Security‘s inspector general.

SHUSTER:  Right, the woman who used to work at the Pentagon for several years, and now works at a nonprofit, she had top secret clearance while working for both the Air Force and the Navy.  She was asked about the credibility of the Bush administration and said, I do not think they have been truthful or forthright about the real reason for engaging in war.  She was asked—she was pressed repeatedly about this comment by Libby‘s attorneys.  The judge was convinced that she would be able to put aside whatever feelings she had and judge the case strictly on the merits, so she is still in the pool.

Another woman who‘s (INAUDIBLE) still in the jury pool works at the Department of Homeland Security in the inspector general‘s office.  This is the office where they keep track of how the money is spent to make sure that it‘s not wasted.  She said that her many years of service in government led her to be skeptical of all politicians.  And when asked specifically about her feelings about Vice President Cheney, she said, Well, I‘m skeptical of him because he‘s a professional politician.

OLBERMANN:  So are these two and the woman from Lockheed Martin still in the pool?

SHUSTER:  Yes, they‘re still in the pool again, because even though Scooter Libby‘s attorneys pressed very hard to get everybody removed who had strong feelings against the Bush administration, the judge, under—in addition under questioning from Patrick Fitzgerald, some of these jurors made a very convincing argument that, sure, they had opinions about the Bush administration and the war, but they would follow the judge‘s orders.  They would put hat aside.  And they were not worried that any preexisting opinions they had about the war would seep into their feelings about credibility and issues that would come up in this case.

OLBERMANN:  Have you gotten anything out of listening to the questioning of the jury pool indicating what the lawyers for each side might be going in terms of strategy when they start finally next week?

SHUSTER:  Well, the credibility of Vice President Cheney and Scooter Libby‘s going to be crucial, especially in the point of whether they were or were not preoccupied with undermining the Wilsons.  And this came out when Scooter Libby‘s attorneys twice asked potential jurors how they would feel if Vice President Cheney‘s testimony was contradicted by somebody else who might testify in the case.

That was intriguing, whether it was a hypothetical or whether it was a foreshadowing of something to come, intriguing simply because we know that there is a witness from the CIA who‘s going to testify about briefing the vice president‘s office about the Wilsons.

The other revelation seemed to come when prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was questioning a lawyer who was still in the pool.  The lawyer said he felt somewhat deferential to the office of the vice president.  And prosecutor Fitzgerald said, Well, would you hold it against me, the prosecutor, if I conducted a very aggressive cross-examination of Vice President Cheney?

An implication from all of this together, taken with the pretrial evidence, that there is possibly some evidence for some testimony which is get—which is going to undercut the vice president, and these contradictions could play out in very dramatic fashion under an aggressive cross-examination by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

OLBERMANN:  Everybody bring their popcorn.

MSNBC‘s David Shuster, as usual, working the political police blotter for us.  Great thanks.  Have a good weekend.

SHUSTER:  Thanks, Keith.  You too.

OLBERMANN:  Speaking of the police blotter, it‘s a good thing that former Ohio representative Bob Ney resigned his seat before the 110th Congress convened, because he will be in prison until the 111th.  Ney is the first member of Congress to go to prison as part of the Jack Abramoff scandal.  He pleaded guilty to accepting gifts and money in return for official favors.

The judge decided that the sentence requested by the Department of Justice was too lenient.  It gave—he gave Ney 30 months in prison, along with a $6,000 fine.  Ney said today, quote, “I will continue to take full responsibility, accept the consequences, and battle the demons of addiction that are within me.”  He takes full responsibility, but would like you to blame the demons as well.

Speaking of demons, Bill O‘Reilly sits down with Stephen Colbert.  Does he even get that Colbert is making fun of him?  Seth MacFarlane, resident genius at “American Dad” and “Family Guy,” tries to answer that one for us.

And the latest reason to feel proud about spreading democracy around the world.  Bipartisanship, Taiwanese style.

That and more, ahead on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  It‘s widely reported that on this day in 1955, the board game Scrabble was introduced to the consumer market, which is rather interesting, considering that Alfred Butts invented the game in the 1930s and was still selling handmade sets as late as 1952.  Regardless, the highest-valued word ever played in official Scrabble competition is supposedly cazique, a tropical bird or African tribal leader, which, if you place it right amid the double letters and triple word spots, can be worth 392 points.  So next time you draw a C, an A, a Z, an I, a Q, a U, and an E, don‘t say I didn‘t warn you.

Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin with a different kind of game.  More gold gleaned from the Internets, in a new a feature of the program, videos that will later be used as evidence in the negligent homicide trial.  No one hurt in this one, in which a brave volunteer slaps himself in as the human slingshot.  And once again, we bring it to you not to encourage dangerous behavior, but because when this goes bad someday, we will not be able to play that video with the silly music underneath it.  Wheee.

More fun than a Taiwanese parliamentary brawl.  Well, let‘s not go crazy.  Taipei, hello.  Time once again to tune in to C-Span 49.  The bill on the Taiwanese table today would have changed the composition of the central election commission.  But clearly, the opposition party said, Ah, change your composition, fella.  Hai-ya.

Now, of course, we‘ve seen these things before.  This may be the first time that a shoe was used so effectively as a weapon, at least since Khrushchev lost power.  Don‘t you throw that shoe at me again, or I‘ll, or I‘ll --  Ow.  That‘s it.  If you throw that shoe at me one more time, you‘re really going to get it.  Ow.  Quit, quit it.

Also tonight, missing for over four years.  Shawn Hornbeck‘s parents shy—share why he never tried to escape from his alleged abductor, while a commentator poised to speak at a fundraiser for missing and exploited children claims he did not say the young boy actually liked being with his abductor.  The videotape says otherwise.

And explaining the inexplicable.  A baby chimp born in a zoo with 10 male adults, all of whom have had vasectomies.  We are getting an explanation tonight.

Those stories ahead, but now here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, David Gerard, researcher at Carnegie Mellon University.  He‘s compiled the data, and the driving cliche of all driving cliches is disproved.  Male drivers have a 77 percent higher risk of dying in a car accident than do women drivers.  Even 82-year-old women are safer drivers than 16-year-old boys. 

Number two, an unnamed boy in Wackata (ph), Wisconsin.  Sure enough, police were summoned to a local stop sign on a very cold day there because the 9-year-old had accepted the dare and stuck his tongue on the metal sign to see if it would freeze like in a “Christmas Story,” and it did. 

And number one, Italian soccer star Marco Borriello.  This is an update of one of yesterday‘s news makers.  Then, Borriello‘s super model girlfriend said he had tested for the banned drug cortisone because she had given him a sexually transmitted disease and then bought him the topical treatment for it without realizing the treatment contained cortisone. 

The story has now changed.  Model Bellen Rodriguez (ph) now says Borriello was never affected.  She had the disease.  She used the topical Cortizone treatment and he accidentally ingested some.  Could be worse, like the kid in Wisconsin.  Borriello could have gotten stuck to a stop sign. 


OLBERMANN:  As the details of the four-year long kidnapping of Shawn Hornbeck have become a little clearer and a lot worse, so to have the implications by commentator Bill O‘Reilly that the boy voluntarily participated in his detention.  And his sexual abuse, they become a little clear and a lot worse too.  In our third story on the COUNTDOWN, more from Shawn Hornbeck‘s parents in a moment. 

First, the ironic and somewhat disturbing news that the key note speaker at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children fund raiser in Naples, Florida on March 9th is scheduled to be Bill O‘Reilly.  There has been no comment yet from the organization as to whether they will cancel O‘Reilly‘s appearance, given the disturbing nature of his comments, though he is now pretending he merely raised questions about whether or not the boy was a missing or exploited child. 

This is what O‘Reilly actually said about Shawn Hornbeck.


BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  The situation here for this kid looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents.  He didn‘t have to go to school.  He could run around do what he wanted. 

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Some kids like school. 

O‘REILLY:  I don‘t believe this kid today.  I think when it all comes down, what‘s going to happen is there was an element here that this kid liked about his circumstance. 


OLBERMANN:  O‘Reilly claimed last night that he was being demonized by the left over his remarks.  It would seem, in fact, that he has demonized himself. 

Mr. O‘Reilly will not see it this way of course, but the actual victim in the Shawn Hornbeck case is not Bill O‘Reilly, but Shawn Hornbeck.  His parents told Ann Curry this morning on the “Today Show” that it is obvious that Shawn was held against his will. 


ANN CURRY, “THE TODAY SHOW”:  First of all, you‘ve had your boy home now for about a week.  Pamela, is it hard to not treat him like the 11-year-old boy he was when you last saw him? 

PAMELA HORNBECK, SHAWN‘S FATHER:  Yes it is.  It‘s very hard.  He keeps telling me, mom, I‘ve grown up a little bit, and I‘m like, I know, but you‘re still my 11-year-old boy that you were when you left.

CURRY:  He said that he would pray and cross himself, hoping to be back with his family and that he was so terrified that even when allowed to ride his bike, he didn‘t escape.  Some people are wondering why he didn‘t.  What are you learning about what terror does to a child? 

CRAIG AKERS, SHAWN‘S STEP-FATHER:  It‘s a very real thing.  You have got to remember that Shawn was 11-years-old when he was taken.  So he was much for vulnerable then he is now, and, you know, obviously something was done to keep him there.  You can be bound mentally as well as physically.  You can be just terrified, so afraid that it can control your life, which obviously it did. 

CURRY:  You do know that he tried to e-mail to your website what I think most would call a cry for help, where he said, quote, how long are you going to look for your son?  You saw that message.  It must be heart-breaking now to know that it was actually from your boy, Pamela. 

AKERS:  Yes, that‘s one of the things that we talked about last night and that‘s one of the things, I‘m sure, that‘s going to haunt me for a long time to come, knowing that I sat there and read that message and it just never, in my wildest dream, would I have imagine that it was actually my son that had done that. 

We, in the past, had had numerous postings on the message board of people pretending to be Shawn, and in our chat rooms, pretending to be Shawn.  The FBI has followed up on several of those, even in other countries, and, you know, after a while, you just kind of get numb to those kind of things.  And there wasn‘t really anything that really jumped out and said hey, this is me. 

To us it appeared another crackpot trying to yank our chain. 

Unfortunately we didn‘t give it as much attention as we should have. 

CURRY:  What do you want to say to other parents this morning who are missing their children? 

HORNBECK:  Do as much as you can to keep your child‘s picture, keep you child‘s name out there in the public and just to keep it going.  If you ever give up, your child may give up.  Shawn has said that he felt like we had never gave up, so he never gave.  And I honestly, truly believe that‘s what kept him going.   


OLBERMANN:  Also here tonight, O‘Reilly tells Colbert it‘s all an act. 

Colbert says he stole O‘Reilly‘s microwave. 

“Family Guy‘s” creative genius Seth MacFarlane on Bill-O, on rivalries, on the comedy that is our politics. 

Robert Redford doesn‘t think any of it‘s funny.  At the start of the Sundance Film Festival he has some choice words for the commander in chief.  Details ahead on COUNTDOWN. 


OLBERMANN:  We first brought you the story of Tracy the miracle chimp on Wednesday, born to an elderly mother at a monkey sanctuary.  The father not only a mystery, but an improbability, because all 10 of the male Chimpanzees in residence have had vasectomies. 

Now in our second story on the COUNTDOWN, barring the remote possibility of some kind of immaculate conception or maybe a road trip from another zoo, investigators have nailed it done to three main suspects.  Our correspondent Michelle Kosinski takes a look at the lineup. 


MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  Blame it on the sultry Louisiana Dave, or maybe a few too many ripe bananas, but don‘t blame Theresa. 

AMY FULTZ, CHIMPANZEE EXPERT:  Theresa very much the focus of the guys here.    

KOSINSKI:  At nearly 50-years-old, already a mother of 10, bred for NASA space research, she surprised her keepers when she showed up cradling a brand new baby chimp, Tracy. 

CHRISTINE SUMMER, CHIMPANZEE EXPERT:  I saw her walking funny and I was like, uh oh.  And I see something black sticking out from her belly.  I‘m like, she‘s not carrying a bunch of sticks, you know.  

FULTZ:  At first, I think I just stood there with my mouth hanging open because I didn‘t believe it for a minute. 

KOSINSKI:  That‘s because all the male chimps here have had vasectomies.  So, who‘s the daddy?  There‘s a lot of chattering going on, but nobody is talking. 

Keepers have narrowed it down to three suspects, Conan—

FULTZ:  Conan is a young male, and he‘s pretty athletic and he does like the ladies. 

KOSINSKI (on camera):  What was that Conan?  Did you give us an affirmative there? 

(voice-over):  Magnum -- 

FULTZ:  He‘s the youngest male in this group.  He is 17 now. 

KOSINSKI (on camera):  Magnum, come on, you can tell us. 


KOSINSKI (voice-over):  Or Jimo.

FULTZ:  Jimo a wild born chimpanzee. 

KOSINSKI:  Caretakers are gathering DNA samples to find the not so sterile chimp stud. 

FULTZ:  And so we‘re having paternity tests run.

KOSINSKI:  Just like in humans.  Are you going to put them all on a show together?

SUMMER:  My bets are on Jimo. 

KOSINSKI:  Jimo, why do you say that? 

SUMMER:  He is prolific and he is really into the girls. 

KOSINSKI:  Just goes to show accidents or maybe miracles can happen, depending on whom you ask, really can happen, even late in life, even for the not quite human. 

FULTZ:  You know they are having a good time now. 

KOSINSKI:  They are definitely having a good time.   


OLBERMANN:  Turning from the animal world to something reminiscent, the world of celebrity and entertainment news, Keeping Tabs, and a salvo fired at the Bush administration at the Sundance Film Festival.  Founder Robert Redford skipping his normal opening speech instead call for the president to apologize to the citizenry, evoking, forgive the immodesty, a little of the Special Comments, accusing Mr. Bush of having abused the trust of the American people after 9/11, saying that people, quote, put all our concerns on hold to let the leaders lead after 9/11.  Adding that he thinks we are owed a big massive apology. 

Mr Redford frequently speaks out politically, but almost never at his movie festival.

Tonight, we now have an inkling as to what propelled actress Lindsay Lohan into rehab, besides the alcohol, the partying, and the rumored Coke habit.  Apparently, in the throws of unrequited love, the “New York Daily News” reporting that Lohan is infatuated with James Franco, who plays Peter Parker‘s best friend in the Spiderman movie series and has a girlfriend. 

However, according to source a source, that did not stop Miss Lohan from buying him an expensive watch, which was reportedly rejected, and trying to get his attention at a Golden Globe party Monday night, before bursting into tears at Franco‘s indifference and fleeing the night club.  She was later found passed out in a hotel hallway, went to rehab two days later, and James Franco‘s heart to her is still dead. 

The big giant head finally takes Steven Colbert head on.  Was it funny?  I‘m joined by Seth MacFarlane of “Family Guy” for post-game analysis.  That‘s ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for Worst Person in the World. 

The bronze to a New Hampshire state representative who has introduced a bill to make the sale and use of marijuana legal there.  This is not about the merits of the proposed legislation.  There are pros and cons.  It‘s about the wisdom of this particular state legislator authoring legalize pot bill, rather than having someone else do it.  Weed, his name is state Representative Charles Weed. 

The silver to Thomas Catonna (ph), the erstwhile treasurer of Alcona County, Michigan, accused of embezzling one and one quarter million dollars of county funds so he could send it by wire transfer to the right honorable Mrs. Umbuko.  That‘s right.  He fell for one of the Nigerian scams and used public money. 

But the winner, impressionist Rich Little, who we told you earlier this week was the white bread choice to be the speaker at the White House correspondents dinner this year.  Best known for a pretty good Johnny Carson impression, Little told a Las Vegas newspaper that last year‘s searing satire by Stephen Colbert did not go over that well.  They got a lot of letters, Little said.  How many letters did they get?  They got so many letters.  Little says he will not knock President Bush, and quote, I won‘t even mention the word Iraq.  No shots at the president and no mentions of Iraq, it‘s going to be a rather short monologue, huh.  Impressionist Rich Little, today‘s Worst Person in the World.


OLBERMANN:  In our number one story tonight, Oprah dropped by Letterman; King Kong visited Godzilla; even the Harlem Globe Trotters hit Gilligan‘s Island, so why not, in our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, have Steven Colbert visit Bill O‘Reilly and then Bill O‘Reilly visit Steven Colbert, unless you‘re worried about Mr. Colbert‘s well being. 

There was no rip snorting moment, but it was funny and it gives us an excellent excuse to pick the brain of Seth MacFarlane, the genius creator of “Family Guy,” voice of Stewy, Peter, Brian, et al. 

First the condensed whiff of the heavily layered, at times awkward, Colbert/O‘Reilly interviews. 


O‘REILLY:  What watches you?  What‘s your audience?  Do you do research?  Do you know who -- 

STEVEN COLBERT, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  Well Bill, that‘s one of the reasons I want to do my show.  OK, I emulate you and I want to bring you message of love and peace, which I understand that is your message—

O‘REILLY:  It is.

COLBERT:  I want to bring the message of love and peace to a younger audience, people in their 60s, people in their 50s, people who don‘t watch your show. 

O‘REILLY:  I‘m giving you the last word?  Is that a wise thing to do?

COLBERT:  I‘d give it to me.

O‘REILLY:  What is the last word.

COLBERT:  I want to thank you for not asking me about that thing that we pre-agreed you wouldn‘t ask me about. 

Have you ever tried going under cover as a secular progressive, infiltrating, because I think if you went undercover as secular progressive, OK, this would play in San Francisco. 

O‘REILLY:  Hannity has a really good parking space.

COLBERT:  He does?


COLBERT:  Could you take him in a fight? 

O‘REILLY:  I don‘t want to fight.  We‘re Irish guys. 

COLBERT  You‘re Irish guys, you don‘t want to fight? 

O‘REILLY:  See, this is a cliche.  No Hannity would kick my butt.

COLBERT:  He would.

O‘REILLY:  I‘m effete. 

COLBERT:  Tale of the tape, you‘ve got the reach. 

O‘REILLY:  I‘m effete, I‘m not a tough guy.  This is all an act.  I‘m sensitive.

COLBERT:  You‘re breaking my heart Bill. 

O‘REILLY:  I‘m sensitive.

COLBERT:  If you‘re an act, then what am I? 


OLBERMANN:  Who could follow that except for Seth MacFarlane, Emmy winning creator, executive producer, writer, director—he does everything except selling it door to door—of “Family Guy” and “American Dad.”  Seth, pleasure to finally have you on the show. 

SETH MACFARLANE, “FAMILY GUY”:  The pleasure is all mine Keith.  How are you? 

OLBERMANN:  I‘m well, and yourself sir?   

MACFARLANE:  I‘m doing quite well. 

OLBERMANN:  All right, let‘s start with Colbert and O‘Reilly.  I‘ve read this in a bunch of different places.  You tell me if you got the same sense of the interview that I did; these interviews reminded me of the Star Trek, the Animated Series episode Time Trap in which this Klingon ship and the Enterprise both disappear into the Delta Triangle and the only way to get out—Kirk has to work with his sworn enemy Kor, the leader of the Klingons, is that, analyzing it as a news story, is that the sense you got too? 

MACFARLANE:  It‘s like I‘m hearing your voice, but it came out of my mouth a little earlier today, exactly what you just said.  You know, you get the sense that it‘s something that O‘Reilly just should not even have attempted.  It‘s—You look at it like it‘s like sex the Sharon Stone.  He‘s just kind of sitting there very still, waiting for it to be over. 

It‘s OK, neither of us know her.  But you get the sense he was very much out of his element and I‘m note quite sure why he permitted it.  You know, you go up against a comedian and you‘re kind of screwed. 

OLBERMANN:  Do you think that O‘Reilly really gets the idea that Colbert is not just imitating him or presenting a version of him but he‘s insulting him every night, including twice last night?  Do you think O‘Reilly doesn‘t get the gist of this? 

MACFARLANE:  I think sometimes O‘Reilly doesn‘t know he is on TV.  I think sometimes he thinks he is down at a little tavern having a beer wit his buddies, popping off about whatever he wants.  But it was an unfortunate spectacle for him, to say the least. 

OLBERMANN:  There were elements that were funny, the Mission Accomplished banner that Colbert hung was funny and showing the O‘Reilly book with the 30 percent off sticker over Bill‘s head, which was legit.  That‘s actually in the stores in New York.  It was put in the Barnes and Noble stores that way.  I don‘t know how many people know that.  That was a legit thing and not a gag.  Those things were funny, but was the exchange funny or was it uncomfortable more than it was funny? 

MACFARLANE:  I think you just wanted O‘Reilly to at least try and get some sort of joke in there, at least try or something and he just wasn‘t up to it.  I mean, Colbert was clearly shouldering most of the comedy load. 

OLBERMANN:  And Bill was the comedy load, as he‘s often been described.  Now you‘re currently on this program, as if you didn‘t know that, and let me let a cat out of the bag.  Before letting the cat out of the bag, we should roll this animation thing first.  Stand by a second.


MACFARLANE:  Breaking news, oh this should be rich.  Must be something of monumental earth shattering importance or they wouldn‘t have that Earth there, shattering.  See it shattering, it‘s Earth shattering breaking news.  O do tell me, tell me, tell me. 


OLBERMANN:  Stewy doing a little free lance work for us there and we thank you once again for that sir.  


OLBERMANN:  To let the cat out of the bag, I‘ll be appearing as a guest voice on “Family Guy” in April and I‘m damn proud of it, and obviously there‘s no ill will between us, but you‘ve done other shows as an actor.  “The War At Home” is an example.  If you have your own, well established turf, is there something automatically edgy about appearing somewhere else?  You know, even if Colbert and O‘Reilly had liked each other, would there have been resentment or tension because they were on the other guy‘s ball field? 

MACFARLANE:  Yes, I think you‘re going to have some of that regardless.  I think it was remarkably benign in a lot of ways.  It wasn‘t something—it‘s not like seeing O‘Reilly on Letterman, where, as you recall, Letterman took that huge swipe at him.  It was interesting.  It was a lot more calm and it almost seemed like at times Colbert was maybe being a little gentler with O‘Reilly than he could have been. 

OLBERMANN:  Which segues us into the next topic here.  You are subtler about it, perhaps, than Colbert is, but you guys go after political figures constantly.  Have you had blow back?  Do they bitch?

MACFARLANE:  They generally don‘t.  They generally don‘t.  We actually went out to O‘Reilly for a gag, where he was playing himself.  We wanted him to make fun of himself.  He declined to do the show.  Rush Limbaugh said yes, believe it or not.  And so we kind of give him an immunity card, you know, diplomatic immunity, like in “Lethal Weapon Two.”  He did the show, he was a good guy about it.  It was like all right, we‘ll be.  But O‘Reilly is fair game.   

OLBERMANN:  Now comedic heroes, Bob and Ray, told me once at the height of Watergate that they wouldn‘t go into politics at that point because, as Ray Goulding put it, how could you be funnier than Richard Nixon?  Do you ever feel the same way about politics today?

MACFARLANE:  Yes, absolutely.  I mean, you know, you have a mildly retarded guy in the White House.  Some would say full blown retarded.  I like to give him the benefit of the doubt.  But I don‘t know.  I think I‘ve just made too many piss jokes that would come back to haunt me.  If I ever tried to get into politics, that would be—the smear ads would just show the AIDs song from “Family Guy.” 

OLBERMANN:  Oh god.  Speaking of “Family Guy,” your series and it‘s still just the two series, right, you haven‘t taken over the whole schedule?  It‘s just those two?

MACFARLANE:  There is a third that premiers in March, called “The Winner,” starring Rob Corddry from the “Daily Show.” 

OLBERMANN:  All right, my final question to you was that big Keith Olbermann guest appearance April 15th, how big a pre-Madonna was that guy to work with, huh? 

MACFARLANE:  He was—He was a bastard.  I mean, he really made it difficult.  You know, it‘s like that whole no, no Twizzlers not Red Vines, you know that whole thing was a little disappointing after being such a fan of the show for so long, although he did play on oil executive, which makes him a trooper. 

OLBERMANN:  Well yes, and after considerable and extensive direction, your greatest challenge of your career, it came out OK, I suppose. 

MACFARLANE:  Knock it off you.

OLBERMANN:  Seth MacFarlane, the author of “American Dad” and to my mind television‘s best show, “Family Guy.”  A pleasure sir.  Great thanks for joining us. 

MACFARLANE:  Thanks so much. 

OLBERMANN:  We‘ll see you.  That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,357th day since the declaration of Mission Accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck. 



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