Guests: Anne Kornblut
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER: Those in favor, say aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aye!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye!
PELOSI: Those opposed, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The ayes have it, but what do they have? A nonbinding resolution protesting a escalation in Iraq already underway, a resolution about which the president could not care less. Happy, happy, joy, joy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a responsibility, Republicans and Democrats have a responsibility to give our troops the resources they need to do their job...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Exactly what Congressman Murtha is demanding in his binding resolution. So why are the Republicans returning to their terrorist tactics to trash it and him?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. VIRGIL GOODE ®, VIRGINIA: I feel that radical Muslims who want to control the Middle East and ultimately the world would love to see “In God We Trust” stricken from our money and replaced with “In Muhammad We Trust.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Given how much auditors say we‘ve squandered in Iraq, it might as well say Monopoly Money on it, the latest figure $10 billion.
The latest figure from the highways, drivers stranded in snow for 24 hours. Well, it‘s not like you could predict the weather or anything.
The bizarre crime of the century. The Pennsylvania pizza delivery man killed, a bomb bolted around his neck. The crime is solved tonight.
Anna Nicole Smith finally to be embalmed -- Oh, no, wait, the embalmers won‘t sign a confidentiality agreement, so they stopped embalming her. Bury the poor woman, already.
Britney Spears not in rehab, her people insist.
And a cure, a real cure for baldness involving laser beams.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frickin‘ laser beams attached to their heads.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Speaking of Dr. Evil, Bill Orally has said the magic words, first time since 1998.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR,” FOX NEWS CHANNEL)
BILL O‘REILLY, HOST: Keith Olbermann went out of his way...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Oh, Billo, no wonder you wouldn‘t say it all this time.
You can‘t even pronounce it.
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘REILLY: Keith Olbermann...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
The infamous 16 words about hyped intelligence that President Bush used to get this nation into war in Iraq joined now in the history books this afternoon by 66 others from Congress, condemning President Bush‘s plan to deploy more troops to the conflict.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, “Resolved by the House of Representatives that, one, Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States armed forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq. And two, Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush, announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq,” that resolution easily today, 246 to 182, the vote capping four days of passionate debate, with speeches from nearly 400 members of the House, Democrats in the Senate hoping to force a debate there, Majority Leader Harry Reid ordering his colleagues to work on Saturday, oh, the humanity, lawmakers having perfected a three-day work week, not to mention having already scheduled next week off, the move causing presidential candidates Biden, Obama, and Clinton to cancer campaign events, many believing that is as it should be, Americans having conveyed their wishes about Iraq this past November in the election, during this week‘s debate, some Republicans reverting to the same scare tactics and plain old silliness that did not succeed in placating voters in those 2006 midterm elections.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
GOODE: In no way do I want to aid and assist the Islamic jihadists who want the green flag of the crescent and star to wave over the capital of the United States and over the White House of this country. I fear that radical Muslims who want to control the Middle East and ultimately the world would love to see “In God We Trust” stricken from our money and replaced with “In Muhammad We Trust.”
REP. GINNY BROWN-WAITE ®, FLORIDA: We have a wonderful saying, and it goes like this, Get ‘er done. Our soldiers want to get it done and come home, and our president wants the same thing, and this Congress should also demand the exact same thing. Let‘s get out there and get ‘er done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Having seen Congress turn to Larry the Cable Guy for rhetorical guidance, let us turn to Anne Kornblut, national political reporter for “The Washington Post.”
Anne, good evening. Thanks for your time.
ANNE KORNBLUT, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:
OLBERMANN: If scare tactics did not work in the last election, if a clear majority of Americans no longer believe in this mission in Iraq, why are the Republicans still talking down to the voters by resorting to those sort of politics of fear?
KORNBLUT: Look, there are some who think it‘s a real risk, what they‘re doing now. As you—as some of the clips you‘ve played, again, talking about terrorists taking over the country. I would say that it was really an effort for them to try and stay as united as they could on this vote. And remarkably, they did in the House, only 17 voting for it, and to portray it as a stepping stone toward cutting off the funding for the troops, to portray it as a step towards an extreme measure by the Democrats.
So I would say that it was, you know, A, part of their pattern and part of what they‘re used to, and B, part of an effort to really keep Republicans in line at least. If it wasn‘t going to be good news, at least they could stay unified.
OLBERMANN: You mentioned the 17 Republican votes, the Republicans trying to spin this vote today as fewer GOP lawmakers voted with the Democrats than expected. But your colleague, Dana Milbank, was with us last night, and he said that the Republicans had floated an inflated number deliberately, precisely so they could manufacture such a claim. Does that indicate to what degree Republicans feared this vote would be damaging symbolically?
KORNBLUT: (INAUDIBLE), it‘s the great expectations game. Sure, nobody on the Republican side would argue that this was a good thing for them, the White House studiously avoiding watching it. They said President Bush was too busy to watch it.
Yes, there is no question that this was never going to be something good. The Senate vote won‘t be either. It‘s especially damaging and tough for the Republicans who are running for president now, and obviously the Republicans in the minority. So the best I think they could hope for was to try and manage expectations, portray this as a show of unity, and, in truth, it‘s a relative show of unity, and to try and really at least stay on message. It‘s the least they could do.
OLBERMANN: The Republicans who are not running for office, or running for the presidency, anyway, in 2008, how will, how does this vote affect them, especially the ones who did, in fact, side with the Democrats?
KORNBLUT: It‘s really, I think, too soon to tell. I mean, the earliest indications so far is that they are where the country is. The country still remains deeply opposed to the war, especially for Democrats who are running in, you know, relatively purple or swing districts. This could actually be interpreted well for them. And it‘s hard to imagine how it would hurt them in ‘08.
But I think at this point, every indication is that Iraq is so deeply unpopular, and that anyone who voted for this won‘t just necessarily suffer for it.
OLBERMANN: So apart from the extraordinary sight of senators in the office on Saturday, how is it, how are things going to work out there? Do we have any indication that Mr. Reid and his colleagues can get anything done that they could not have gotten done last month?
KORNBLUT: Well, no, I mean, and this is really a—this is a calling of bluffs on two fronts, both on the Republican front and on the, the—not calling a bluff, but, you know, sending a signal to the ones who were planning to leave town to run for office. Working on a Saturday is a great punishment for these guys. As you pointed out, they‘ve only just gotten used to working five days a week, and this is at the start of their long week vacation. So it‘s really a punishment to send a signal they want to get something done here.
OLBERMANN: Yes, welcome back to the real world, boys and girls.
Anne Kornblut at “The Washington Post.” Great thanks for your time tonight.
KORNBLUT: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Speaker Pelosi contending that the nonbinding resolution is just the first step, throwing her support behind Congressman Jack Murtha‘s plan for a binding attempt to stop the so-called surge. Among other things, Mr. Murtha planning to pull the purse strings as well as tie the hands of the military by requiring that all troops sent to Iraq be allowed to stay home for a full year between deployments, and that they be fully trained and equipped before they‘re allowed to go to Iraq, Republicans, it would seem, against that, minority leader Boehner issuing this statement.
“Murtha‘s dangerous proposal would choke off the funding and resources our troops need to succeed in the Global War on Terror. How does this square with,” that would be Stenny, “Hoyer‘s claim that no one will not support our troops?”
Yes, you wouldn‘t want the troops to have armor or anything, Mr.
To dissect the anti-Murtha surge, let‘s turn now to the founder and editor of the HuffingtonPost.com, Arianna Huffington.
Arianna, as always, thanks for your time.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Minority leader Boehner trying to imply in that statement that Mr. Murtha does not support the troops. So where is the Republican support for a, say, a train them and equip them fully measure, or at least just some sort of caveat that they agree with that part of Murtha‘s plan?
HUFFINGTON: You know, it‘s as though they had written this attack before they had read Jack Murtha‘s plan, because Jack Murtha‘s plan is very hard for anyone who supports the military to oppose, because it‘s precisely about sending the troops to Iraq properly trained and with a proper amount of rest, which is what they used to have before this rush to have a stop-loss policy and to keep sending them back to Iraq without the proper rest and without the proper training and without the proper equipment.
Also, the other thing in the Murtha plan which is incredibly significant, he‘s saying no to permanent military bases, which is key to putting an end to this huge spread of anti-Americanism in the region, when we‘re seen as an occupying force that wants to stay there forever.
So it‘s, once again, Jack Murtha, who, you may remember, Keith, on the 17th of November 2005, was the first senior Democrat, a hawk, to come out against the war, the first to call it a civil war. And here he‘s again taking the lead in this very important plan to put some flesh and bones on this nonbinding resolution that we saw passed today.
OLBERMANN: So is he going to be able to get that measure through the House? And if he does, will his colleagues be able to get it through the Senate?
HUFFINGTON: Well, the first step is to get all the Democrats behind him. And behind the scenes, I‘ve talked to various Democrats today, and there isn‘t any universal agreement the way there was over the nonbinding resolution. As you know, only two Democrats voted against it.
So that‘s going to be the first step, for all the Democrats to unite behind this plan, which is a plan actually supported by the military, because, you know, Jack Murtha has never done or said one thing that is not supported by the military. His connections within the military run very deep. He‘s a vet, of course, himself, with two Purple Hearts who loves the military, who is loved by the military. And so when he speaks, this is not somebody who can be dismissed easily as some peacenik who does not have the interests of the American military at heart.
OLBERMANN: As much as Jean Schmidt and others of her ilk tried to. But what do you—at the heart of this, Arianna, what is the fear here among the Republicans on this part of the bill that—is there a sense, do they have inside information that the Pentagon is not capable of giving the training and the outfitting of this number of troops for the length of time that they‘d be needed to be outfitted and trained?
HUFFINGTON: Oh, absolutely, which is why, Keith, as you know, originally, people like John McCain were saying that the only increase in troops that would really work or have any chance of working is a substantial increase in troops, numbers like 40,000 and more were bandied about.
And then it became very clear that we didn‘t have those numbers of soldiers to send to Iraq for the first time, or to resend to Iraq. And so, in a sense, what Jack Murtha is implying with his proposal is that if you don‘t have the opportunity and the numbers to send to Iraq soldiers who are properly trained and properly rested, then you don‘t have the soldiers to send to Iraq that you want to send as part of the surge.
OLBERMANN: Please do not apply logic to a situation that calls for panic and rhetoric.
Arianna Huffington, founder and editor of the Huffington Post. As always, Arianna, great thanks for your time tonight.
HUFFINGTON: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: As the president asked for an additional $100 billion for Iraq, Congress discovers from an audit that at least $10 billion, taxpayer money, your money, has already disappeared inside Iraq.
Speaking of disappearing, the huge winter storm delivering more than motorists, and apparently the government, bargained for. Snow in central Pennsylvania, who‘d have thought it?
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: It is hard to imagine what kind of American might have reason to want war, until you hear the kind of numbers Congress heard this week.
In tonight‘s fourth story, the government‘s top three auditors told a congressional review that a review they did of the $57 billion of contracts in Iraq they could get access to turned up more than $10 billion in overcharges or unaccounted spending. That‘s one mysterious or stolen dollar for six actually spent. And who knows how that ratio will change when the remaining $300 billion in Iraq spending is audited?
Where‘s all the money going that could be funding proper armor and supplies for our troops? One company accounted for more than 10 -- of that $10 billion, $2.7 billion of it, than any other company, Halliburton, of course. Its CEO, David Lesar, took home more than $12 million in 2005, according to “Forbes” magazine. Lesar, of course, got where he is thanks to Halliburton‘s previous chief, Vice President Dick Cheney, the single greatest proponent, at least obviously, of the Iraq war.
Democrats are not only holding hearings to expose the problem, yesterday they introduced legislation to not only stiffen penalties for war profiteers but also to make more contracts competitive and to require actual qualifications for the some of the contracting oversight jobs now being held by Republican political appointees.
Let‘s bring in Robert Greenwald, documentary filmmaker, who looked at this nation‘s war profiteers in his movie “Iraq for Sale,” which is now out on DVD.
Thanks for your time tonight again, sir.
ROBERT GREENWALD, “IRAQ FOR SALE”: Pleasure to be here.
OLBERMANN: Contractors and the officials who are ostensibly overseeing them will talk a lot about how tough it is to get a receipt in a war zone and other good-sounding cliches like that. Is there truth to that cliches, or are we actually talking about corporate CEOs who are knowingly and happily stealing millions in profits off the backs of their fellow Americans, including the troops?
GREENWALD: I think it‘s an obscenity what‘s going on. Corporations know how to make profit. Corporations know how to make money. They‘re not supposed to be fighting wars, they‘re not there to win hearts and minds of people. And David Lesar made actually over $100 million in his stock since the war has began. To me, that‘s outrageous. And what do these guys want? They want a blank check, they want to be able to fill in the zeros. And they make a petty bank robber like Jesse James look like nothing.
OLBERMANN: Ten billion dollars that we don‘t know about, $2.7 is attributed to Halliburton. Other than that statistic, why do we keep hearing specifically about Halliburton?
GREENWALD: Well, we hear about Halliburton because they have a lock on the government. They have a lock on the military. There‘s an interconnecting board of directors, there are generals on their boards. There are former senators and congressmen and high elected officials who go up and back.
And it‘s a system that needs to be broken. And I think we have to really call into question the very core issue, which is, yes, they‘re stealing, but even above and beyond that, Keith, should people be profiting, should corporations be making millions and millions when Iraqis and Americans are being killed?
That, to me, goes right to the heart of the issue, and we really need to start asking that question harder and harder. Fortunately, you know, Senator Dorgin introduced this amazing bill, which will start to give real hard penalties to these guys who are creating treasonous behavior.
OLBERMANN: About Mr. Lesar, not only is he a Bush donor, he also sits on the board of something called the American Iranian Council, which identifies itself as “a catalyst for change through dialogue and understanding.” Is this man and the other contractor CEOs, are they actively involved in getting pro-war candidates elected to office? And, you know, if so, why are they doing that?
GREENWALD: Well, again, what these corporations and their heads are doing is, they are funding candidates who will give them business, who will look the other way. I mean, no oversight, no transparency, no checking on these contracts. How outrageous it is! I was listening to the some of the hearing, and the controller was saying, For every dollar we spend, we get $106 dollars back to the taxpayer. And yet we have people in this administration and elected officials who are fighting and resisting that these contractors and the corporations should have any oversight.
And to me, it‘s completely groundless and actually goes to this issue of people who say, You know, it‘s really more important that I make profit than I support any kind of patriotic action.
OLBERMANN: One part of the line of thinking is not clear to me. Perhaps you can explain this to me. If it is, to this degree, about not just dollars but billions of dollars, why the trouble getting armor to troops, armor for themselves, armor for their vehicles? It would seem to me that certainly could be a profit center for somebody, and if there were exorbitant profits, at least the troops would be getting what they need to protect themselves in Iraq.
GREENWALD: Well, I think that it—I mean, it‘s a really good question. And I think there‘s a couple of problems that come together there. One is that we went into a war that was clearly ill prepared, not managed well, all the logical steps that you need to take were not taken. We went to war without enough people and without enough support because the administration was trying to do it on the cheap.
And then, when you have people profiting and putting money into the corporate pockets that should be going to the armor, you have a whole other set of circumstances, right? I mean, the fact that they‘re taking millions and millions that says, I‘m going to pay back my stockholder, or I‘m going to pay myself back, that means less dollars are going to build the armor and protect the troops and the water supplies for the Iraqis and hospitals for Iraqis.
And by the way, in addition to the money you talked about, you know there‘s the $9 billion of Iraqi money that‘s unaccounted for.
OLBERMANN: War for profit, as Mr. Greenwald describes in his DVD—the documentary now on DVD, “Iraq for Sale.” Robert Greenwald. As always, great thanks for joining us.
GREENWALD: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Also tonight, we got no idea what the minibus did to the elephant, but man, is the animal perturbed.
And new hope for hairless masses involving lasers. But what of those who believe bald beautiful?
That‘s a head. Unintended. This is COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: On this date in 1909, Hugh Beaumont was born, college football star. He went into acting, then got a degree in theology, then appeared in the movie “The Mole Men,” but gained immortality as the father, Ward Cleaver, in the quintessential saccharine sitcom of the ‘50s, “Leave It to Beaver.” Thus was he the inspiration for the hilarious but apocryphal line, never actually said by the actress who played his wife, Barbara Billingsley, “Ward, don‘t you think you were a little hard on the Beaver last night?”
On that note, let‘s play Oddball.
We begin in Sri Lanka, where this elephant, she don‘t like minivans. It‘s actually polo that Abby the elephant is not into. Abby was part of the American team in the big sixth annual World Elephant Polo Championship. Apparently she was not happy with her contract, because mid-match, she threw her rider and began attacking the minibus belonging to the Spanish team. Hey, what the heck did we do?
Handlers did their best to wrangle the elephant, but sadly, the minibus didn‘t make it.
This an unrelated story, as we segue from an angry African elephant to stampeding brides in Boston. It‘s the 50th annual Filene‘s Running of the Brides event, held every year since 1947, on this Friday after Valentine‘s Day. That means it‘s possible your mother might have done this once. Hundreds of brides-to-be show up to battle for bargain-basement prices on wedding gowns. And, hey, if they get even a few cheap shots along the way, well, that‘s just a bonus.
Finally to the Internets, and the latest video making the rounds today, e-mailed to us by our own Colonel Jack Jacobs. Supposedly, this shows some Canadian soldiers test-firing a new shoulder-fired antitank missile. It sure looks impressive, but we‘re not sure it‘s got the range necessary for use on the battlefield.
It does not appear that the round exploded, so the men were OK. But I hope they waved the receipt for that thing. And Colonel Jack, keep those cards and letters coming.
Also tonight, the mother of all traffic jams in Pennsylvania, a 50-mile backup, strandering people for up to 24 hours after the totally unpredictable happens. It snowed.
And Bill Orally finally refers to He Who Must Not Be Named. Well, he tries to. He‘s got a little enunciation problem going here.
Those stories ahead.
But now, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers for this day.
Serves me right for saying that.
Number three, Robert Adler. He has died in Boise, Idaho, at the age of 93. He co-invented something you may be holding in your hand right now, so to speak, the television remote control.
Number two, the statehouse of North Dakota, voting 58 to 35 against a resolution honoring Bono of U2 for his advocacy of third world debt relief. State Rep Gil Herbal (ph) voted against, explaining he didn‘t know who Bono was. I thought it was a measure to honor the late Sonny Bono. The Internet will be getting out there to North Dakota any day now.
Number two, Philip Kerkhof of Canberra in Australia. The 41-year-old fisherman spotted a four foot bronze whaler shark near the jetty at Loath Bay so he did what you or I would do. He jumped into the water and began to wrestle it. In fact, he dragged it to shore by hand and only got one rip in his pants for the trouble. How did he do it? He had already supplied himself with a secret weapon. It was a series of glasses full of vodka.
OLBERMANN: Whether or not our leaders should have anticipated someone flying airplanes into buildings or that they should have anticipated the breach of the levees in New Orleans, reasonable arguments can be made that both tragedies involved events that could easily have surprised us non-experts.
However, in the third story on our COUNTDOWN tonight, apparently some officials failed to anticipate a recurring threat known in some circles as “winter.”
Although the interstate highway system is a vital part, if you will the circulatory system of our national defense infrastructure, this week‘s storm rendered I-78 in Pennsylvania useless for getting aid to hundreds of stranded people. Because as Lisa Daniels reports, I-78 was where they were stranded.
LISA DANIELS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A massive clean-up from this week‘s major storm, messy work that isn‘t easy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s heavy. The ice is really heavy and I‘ve shoveled this driveway twice.
DANIELS: From Cleveland where powerful wind gusts tore off roofs to Maryland, struggling with widespread power outages, people had no choice but to be creative.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had an inflatable mattress that we moved into this room by the fire and we kept the fire going all night.
DANIELS: But nowhere was frustration greater than an on icy stretch of highway, I-78 in eastern Pennsylvania, about 60 miles north of Philadelphia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The worst, this has been the worst.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aggravating, frustrating, every kind of angry that you can think of.
DANIELS: After several tractor-trailers got stuck in the snow Wednesday night, officials closed the interstate for over 50 miles, leaving motorists stranded in their vehicles, some close to 20 hours. Anger mounted as fuel and food disappeared. After spending 18 agonizing hours in their car, the Glover family finally found some food and shelter.
RITA GLOVER, STANDED MOTORIST: No way to use the bathroom, no water, nothing to eat.
DANIELS: Motorists say they didn‘t see rescue crews for hours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there was no state trucks out anywhere.
DANIELS: People began helping each other as several good Samaritans offered anything they could.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got crackers, we got cookies for diabetics, we got water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you all doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good, how are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fine.
DANIELS: Highway officials say they tried their best but with the chain reaction of problems from jackknifed trucks to snowplows stuck in the snow, no one, not even energy crews could get through for hours.
RON YOUNG, PA. DEPT. OF TRANSPORATION: To complicate things, it‘s a steep hill in both directions in this stretch and it‘s also open with a lot of heavy winds blowing.
DANIELS: Help from the National Guard finally did come, food, water, baby supplies and fuel. For most motorists it was too little too late.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It felt like we was part of Hurricane Katrina, the only difference is we had homes but we couldn‘t get to it.
OLBERMANN: Our correspondent Lisa Daniels reporting from along I-78 in Hamburg, Pennsylvania. And because civic responsibility is a two-way street, every good motorist knows it‘s incumbent upon them to exercise due caution when our public servants are out on the roads coming to the aid of a fellow driver.
That‘s why Minnesota has released this dashboard video from an accident last month when police pulled over to assist with a disabled vehicle, this is part of an effort to promote the move over law requiring motorists to give an extra lane‘s worth of latitude when police are pulled over on the side of the road. Although it‘s not clear whether that was precisely the issue in this horrible case.
Nor is Minnesota alone. In Kentucky, Wednesday, this terrifying crash occurring after another stopped police car was slummed into oncoming traffic and subsequently got slammed by that jackknifing FedEx truck. Fortunately, neither officer was still in the car at the time and no injuries ensued.
At the risk of veering into the realm of snuff films, a reminder that even apparently stationary cars can be dangerous as power line workers learned in Wisconsin Wednesday. They Jeep got snagged on top of some lines after the poles had been brought down by a truck. Once the last passenger got out the force of the lines underneath tipped that Jeep over. That worker suffering merely a banged shoulder we‘re told.
With apologies to “Hill Street Blues,” let‘s be careful out there. Good grief.
Also tonight, terror in Utah, the gunman who opened fire in the mall, the massive police response all caught on tape and all upon review justified.
And it was one of the most mysterious crimes in history but investigators now say they have solved the collar bomb killing of a pizza delivery worker in Pennsylvania. Those stories ahead but first here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of the day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifteen-year-old Jennifer Mee has tried it all since she started hiccupping three weeks ago without success.
Jennifer, I know this started January 23, first period science class out of nowhere.
JENNIFER MEE, HAS HICCUPS: Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First it‘s kind of funny. It‘s not funny anymore, is it?
MEE: No, not at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) What portrait emerged from that book and do you take away anything from what she wrote?
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT: I not only have I read her book, I sat next to her at dinner last night—not only read her book but I sat next to dinner.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: . lack of freedom in Cuba, obviously.
CHARLIZE THERON, ACTRESS: Well, I would argue that there is a lack of freedom in America.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): Now that seemed to come out of nowhere.
(on camera): It sounds like you don‘t have a very high opinion of the United States if you think the freedom of the United States are as .
THERON: Oh, no.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): Which explains why in a moment I totally missed she through this out.
THERON: I want to make out with you right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Investigators still don‘t know why an 18-year-old Bosnian immigrant went on a shooting ram package in a Salt Lake City mall on Monday. He killed five people but it could have been worse were it not for the quick reaction of five police officers on the scene including one who was off-duty. And the district attorney there has determined that the police acted properly.
Utah Governor John Huntsman honored them today. Meanwhile, amateur videotape of the shooting and the second by second efforts to stop the shooter has surfaced. It was captured by a wedding videographer.
Our correspondent is Michael Okwu.
MICHAEL OKWU, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the eerie amateur video that horrifying crackle of a gunman on a rampage. That terrible echo.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m just lying on the ground, didn‘t know where he was
OKWU: Wedding videographer Jared Danzie (ph) was panicked crouching under a shelf in a gift shop when he managed to hit the record button. Just moments before, 18-year-old gunman Suleiman Tolovic had blasted through the shop next door killing four people.
I heard the gentleman on the other side of this wall yelling stop, stop, don‘t shoot, don‘t shoot. I was standing right here looking through the glass there and luckily he didn‘t see me. He was looking down away from me loading more shells into his shotgun.
OKWU: As Danzie ducks for cover, police officers arrive at the mall.
POLICE OFFICER: He‘s right down there.
POLICE OFFICER: Where?
POLICE OFFICER: Right down there. He‘s in a trench coat and a backpack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My heart started pounding again and realized that the shooter was still there and firing back at the cops.
OKWU: And then off-duty policeman Ken Hammond who has been exchanging rounds with the gunman makes contact with officers. Seconds later, more gunfire. And as more officers arrive, Danzie records Hammond, frantically identifying himself again.
KEN HAMMOND, OGDEN POLICE OFFICER: OPD. Ogden police officer.
OKWU: Just before an intense volley that may have finished the gunman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thing that was scary is at any point, I didn‘t know if he would come right around the corner, run in my store to hide, shoot me. It was high alert the whole time.
I was so happy to tell my wife to love her and I had another day to spend with her.
OKWU: After a night gone horribly wrong. Michael Okwu, NBC News, Los Angeles.
OLBERMANN: And federal investigators say they have finally solved a three and a half year old case that was unsettling and bizarre to say the least from the start. The death of a pizza delivery men who was killed when a collar bomb around his neck exploded.
Federal authorities now say they have solved the case, identified the plotters but indictments will not be issued until next month. The pizza delivery man himself Brian Wells apprehended and handcuffed after he robbed a bank in August 2003 but he frantically told police gunmen had locked a collar bomb around his neck and forced him to commit the crime. The bomb subsequently exploded, killed him. Authorities have yet to detail the nature of Mr. Wells‘ role in the plot or if he was purely a tragic victim.
On to our nightly round-up of celebrity and entertainment news “Keeping Tabs” and the last will and testament of Anna Nicole Smith, a 2001 document naming her lawyer and self-professed companion Howard K. Stern as the executor to hold everything in trust for her son Daniel and the will presented to the circuit judge Larry Seidlin and released today specifically excludes any future heirs or spouses.
Ms. Smith‘s son Daniel was 14 years old in 2001, a minor. He died a little bit more than five months but Mr. Stern might inherit Ms. Smith‘s wealth and claims to it if the will is valid and/or Mr. Stern is the father of Ms. Smith‘s five month old daughter Dannielynn. Neither of those issues will be settled anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Judge Seidlin finally granted permission for Ms. Smith‘s body to be embalmed and that was supposed to begin this afternoon. Now it will not take place tomorrow because the embalmers refuse to sign confidentiality agreements to the great relief of Nancy Grace.
And more rumors about Britney Spears seeking rest from her partying in rehab. Ms. Spears had finally entered it according to entertainment TV show “Extra.” But according to the celebrity website tmz..com Ms. Spears has already checked out. It says the rehab center was located outside of the country and that Ms. Spears refused to stay.
But a Spears spokesman has now told “Access Hollywood” that both reports are totally untrue.
And last we hear our long national nightmare is over. In 1998 Bill O‘Reilly attempted to make an on-air reference to me. Unfortunately my name was just too tough for him to pronounce. He called me “Obermahn” just like my eighth grade art teacher from South Carolina used to. Ever since he has avoided saying my name on television and radio. He has later implied some other reasons, some sort of bizarre conclusion that if he didn‘t say the name, he wasn‘t actually giving me publicity.
Yeah, I think that ship has sailed. Anyway, it got so bad that a year ago Bill O. threatened to send Fox security and the local authorities to the home of a caller who dared say my name on his radio show.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like to listen to you during the day. I think Keith Olbermann‘s show .
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: There you go. Mike is a—he‘s a gone guy. We have your phone number, by the way, so if you‘re listening Mike, we have your phone number and we‘re going to turn it over to Fox security and you‘ll be getting a little visit.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: We‘ll send the Bill O. Police after you. Yesterday he was
again taking advantage of the former MSNBC military analyst Ken Allard who
is still recovering from a stroke and who wrote a column explaining saying
he‘s just severed his relationship with NBC even though he never had a
contract with the company and hasn‘t been on air in about a year. Bill O.
read part of Ken‘s piece on the air apparently not realizing it contained a
reference to he who must not be named.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
O‘REILLY: “Not only were there no apologies given and no pink slips issued for William Arkin‘s outburst but Keith Obermahn (ph) went out of his way to defend this ‘valid criticism‘ of our military.”
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: What did he say?
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
O‘REILLY: Keith Obermahn - Keith Obermanhn - Keith Obermahn.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Let‘s get those body language experts out. Not even close, Bill. Try it again in 2016. Is he just drunk on the air, is that it? There is a new FDA approved aid for the folicly challenged but would the less hirsute be better off just letting sleeping combovers lie.
That‘s ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s list of nominees for “Worst Person in the World.”
The bronze. Bill O. is slipping. He only gets in tonight for sharing the medal with ex-comedian Dennis Miller. Poor Dennis. He had be the straight man feeding O RLY the question, “Did Hillary Clinton not even attend one 9/11 memorial service?”
Bill O. of course replied, “That is correct.”
Well, it isn‘t, even one of the senator‘s sleaziest critics said in November of 2001 that she quote, “attended three highly publicized memorial services,” the critic who said that, the critic who O‘Reilly just contradicted? Bill O‘Reilly.
Runner up, our pal Sean Hannity calling Al Gore a hypocrite about global warming now asking his viewers to send any photos they have of the former vice president flying on private jets. Yeah, he always flies private jets. That‘s why Gore was second searched coming and going on a commercial roundtrip from Washington to Wisconsin barely a year after he left the vice presidency.
But tonight‘s winner, Congressman Don Young of Alaska, remember that quote in the Moonie paper in Washington falsely attributed to Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, but actually made up by his own admission by conservative writer in 2003, the one about arresting or hanging or exiling congressmen who undermined the military during a war.
Like dozens of right wing water carriers, Representative Young also didn‘t bother checking to see if Lincoln ever actually said it which he didn‘t, he simply repeated it on the floor of the House. The fake Lincoln quote is now in the congressional record. Hey Representative Young, what if I told you Lincoln once suggested exiling or arresting congressmen who lied on duty.
Congressman Don Young of Alaska, today‘s “Worst Person in the World.”
OLBERMANN: Compared to the highly elusive Fountain of Youth, all other treatments, creams, potions and pills to slow aging come in at best a very distant second. But in our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, another remedy for an age old dilemma, hair loss, it involves lasers and a comb and apparently poses no risk of poking your eye out. Our chief science correspondent is Robert Bazell.
ROBERT BAZELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The device called Hairmax Laser Comb is already on the market. The Food & Drug Administration is now allowing it to be sold as a treatment for the most common form of male baldness based on studies conducted by the company.
Dr. Mark Abram is a cosmetic dermatologist is not associated with the company.
DR. MARK ABRAM, COSMETIC DERMATOLOGIST: It is a new therapy, that is not a magical cure, unfortunately, but for some it will be helpful to help maintain or regrow some hair.
BAZELL: Directions say a person should comb his hair with the device three times a week. The laser light causes thinning air follicles to expand in some people. Experts say the device is not as effective as Rogaine or Propecia, the two medications approved to pretty hair loss.
(on camera): But the study shows the device is safe. The big drawback is that it costs $550. Robert Bazell, NBC News, New York.
OLBERMANN: If any baldness cure ever turns out to be the real thing, and those brand new hair follicles would represent for millions of men worldwide a field of dreams, say nothing of increasing the collective weight of the planet by I don‘t know, a couple of tons, but baldness can bespeak character when it‘s proudly worn and some of our most idiosyncratic bald guys would seem markedly more mainstream with hair.
If the hunger for hair regrowth probably arrived with man‘s humble beginnings, when some poor prematurely balding caveman looked with horror in his reflection in the primordial ooze.
OLBERMANN (voice-over): The place of the bald man is a long and well documented one. Portrayed in the media as the lovable loser, the feckless sidekick, even the sweetly idiotic cartoon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There‘s some nut down in right field dancing up a storm.
OLBERMANN: Opie sported a full head of hair in front of the camera, and when his head found another path, he retreated behind the camera. Certainly there are shining examples of men who have risen above their lack of hair.
Take that Anna Nicole Smith judge, for instance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There‘s no secrets here.
OLBERMANN: These are the men who have embraced their lack of hair and become kinds solar-powered love machines. But far have run away from it, tried to hide it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . don‘t come off.
OLBERMANN: But to the bitter end, to save whatever grass on the field they could, even if it was borrowed sod.
JIM GAFFIGAN, COMEDIAN: It‘s the beard combover, isn‘t it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
OLBERMANN: You cannot blame these poor men. There is a stigma, a second class citizenship, attached to those with no fro. It makes little actual sense, perhaps it owes to those whose baldness propelled them to the dark side. Bald men who act out and try to kill our well coifed superheroes, who shoot lawyers in the face and take us in to unnecessary wars or who otherwise give baldness a bad name.
Michael Jordan may have been able to make it cool, but how many times do I have to tell you, you‘re not like Mike. But this is the 21st century. There are options. Science will lead the way. We have got shampoos, we have got creams, we have got transplants, we have got plugs. And we have got the most advanced hairpiece mankind has ever seen.
And now .
MIKE MYERS, ACTOR: Freakin‘ laser beams attached to their heads.
OLBERMANN: Freakin‘ laser beams to grow back your hair. The future is now, my friends. And in that future, there will be no - well who can say for sure. Maybe we‘ve got it all backwards. Maybe the purists are right?
LARRY DAVID, COMEDIAN: Toupe?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, absolutely not.
DAVID: Those guys. We should kill those guys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
OLBERMANN: Maybe we are al headed towards a future free from hair, where real men will not be judged by how dangerously flammable their curly locks or when the truly sexy will look less like this guy and more like this guy. It could happen.
Thus, in the meantime, the ethical question remains, regrow or let it go? Would it make any difference if Kojak grew a perm, if Ziggy sprouted a mane or if L.L. Cool J. sported a Dog the Bounty Hunter mullet.
Are any of them less of a man, because they have no hair? The answer, of course, is yes—or no. See, I simply don‘t care. That‘s my problem. But good luck to you.
OLBERMANN (on camera): So hat‘s off to those inventors. That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 1,405th day since the declaration of “mission accomplished” in Iraq.
A brief thought tonight for the family and friends of Ralph Penza, who for more than three decades was the consummate professional reporting and anchoring the news on local television stations here in New York. Ralph Penza still on the air at the NBC station here in New York just months ago died last night after a lengthy illness. He was 74-years-old. I‘m Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.
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