Guests: Jonathan Turley, Michael Cornfield, Michael Musto
ALISON STEWART, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Scooting off to prison. Mr. Scooter Libby‘s attempt to stay out of the slammer while he appeals his conviction is denied. The judge says, Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Now, the question is, will the president pardon Dick Cheney‘s former right-hand man?
The FBI says it kind of maybe sort of possibly violated the law while collecting phone records and e-mails. How many time do they break such law? Over 1,000.
Eye on ‘08. The GOP issues a 39-page document warning its candidates of what not to do while on the campaign trail, given that pesky Internet thing. Remember this no-no?
Meanwhile, candidate Clinton launches her very own version of the Drudge Report. Who‘s taking the lead in ‘08 2.0.
Stuck in space. Russian computers on the International Space Station go on the fritz, crashing twice in two days. Problem, to control the station‘s water and oxygen supply.
And it‘s COUNTDOWN‘s dreamgirls, the gifts that keep on giving.
Angelina tells the press to step off. Paris back to her original jail. And Britney is looking for a few good titles for a comeback album. One such suggestion for Britney herself, oh, my God, is, like, Lindsay Lohan, like, OK, like?
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
And good evening, everybody. Keith has taken the night off. I‘m Alison Stewart, holding down the fort.
It is a good thing President Bush sees himself as The Decider, because it looks like he‘s going to have to make a most controversial decision.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, now that a federal judge has said he will not delay the prison sentence of convicted felon Scooter Libby, the president has to decide whether he‘s going to give the former White House aide a get-out-of-jail-free card. Without one, or without winning an appeal of the sentence, never mind an appeal of the conviction itself, Mr. Libby could find himself in prison by the end of the summer.
Judge Reggie Walton, having hinted at the sentencing last week, that this was exactly how he would rule, Judge Walton also revealed today that he has received several, quote, “angry, harassing, meanspirited letters and phone calls” following his sentencing, but said he wouldn‘t factor those into his decision. And it appears that they haven‘t been factored in.
For more on what went on inside the courtroom today and what happens next, let‘s bring in our man on the scandal beat, correspondent David Shuster in Washington.
Good evening, David.
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Alison, good evening to you.
STEWART: So why did Judge Walton rule the way that he did?
SHUSTER: Well, Alison, in order for somebody to essentially get out of jail, to stay out of jail pending their appeal, they need to show that there is at least one issue that would be a close call for an appellate court that is asked to consider reversing the conviction.
Today, the judge found that there were no issues related to Libby‘s trial on perjury and obstruction of justice that merited a close call or would be considered a close call by the appellate courts, and the judge made that decision very quickly.
Most of the hearing today, however, focused on one issue unrelated to the trial, and that is, the standing of prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Libby‘s lawyers argued that when senior Justice Department officials recused themselves from the CIA leak investigation at the very beginning, back at 2003, they gave Patrick Fitzgerald, as special counsel, too much unchecked authority.
But the judge rejected that argument, noting that Fitzgerald was investigating senior officials at the White House, and that if Fitzgerald had to report to top administration officials while Fitzgerald was investigating the administration, the integrity of the justice system would be in serious trouble, said the judge.
So the judge also declared today that the evidence was overwhelming that Libby lied and obstructed justice, just as the jury determined. So in the end, the judge ruled that there were no issues that would be a close call at the appellate courts, and therefore Judge Walton denied Libby‘s request to stay out of jail pending the appeals.
STEWART: Is there anything that could keep Mr. Libby from going to prison at this point?
SHUSTER: Well, there are a couple of things. Tomorrow, Libby‘s going to seek an emergency stay of the judge‘s ruling today. But that is something of a long shot in the D.C. circuit. The other thing that could keep Libby out of jail would be if he gave prosecutors something now that they believe he has been hiding all along.
And that leads us to Vice President Cheney. There was a lot of evidence at trial that Libby leaked Valerie Wilson‘s identity at the behest of Vice President Cheney. There was also evidence that Libby spoke to the vice president about how Libby would approach the criminal investigation.
When Libby was asked at the grand jury about his conversations with the vice president, he couldn‘t remember these crucial conversations. Prosecutors believe that Libby does have information he has been hiding about Cheney, and if Libby were to come forward now, Libby could get prosecutors to step in and keep him from having to go to jail for a while.
The other way, of course, that Libby could stay out of prison would be if President Bush grants him a pardon.
STEWART: But realistically, is there any chance that Scooter Libby would actually spill any information about his former boss, Mr. Cheney?
SHUSTER: No, not really. Nobody seems to expect that Libby would. But prosecutors are in the position they want to be in, and that is, a number of prosecutors will tell you that there is nothing that quite focuses the mind of you and your family, such as Libby‘s wife, who was crying today at the ruling, than the prospect of actually having to go to prison and spend two and a half years there.
And prosecutors have lots of evidence, lots of key unanswered questions, information gaps, that they believe that Libby could fill about Vice President Cheney. And so again, it‘s a tough (INAUDIBLE) you can only imagine what is going through Scooter Libby‘s mind right now, if he‘s looking up and he does not see the pardon coming today, doesn‘t see that it may be coming soon. He has to make decision, Do I support Vice President Cheney, or do I look out for my own family and do something to try to keep myself out of prison?
STEWART: Well, if he doesn‘t keep himself out of prison, how soon could this Mr. Libby be going to jail?
SHUSTER: The usual standard in the D.C. circuit is six weeks to eight weeks. And again, the process has already started. The judge noted that the time clock essentially started with Libby‘s sentencing. And so, barring any new information that Libby provides about Vice President Cheney, barring a sudden intervention by the appellate courts, and barring a presidential pardon, Scooter Libby will be reporting to prison by the end of August.
And that may earn Judge Walton another round of hate mail from some of the Republican wingnuts. And it is worth pointing out, Alison, that ironically, Judge Walton himself is a Republican and was named to the district court by none other than President Bush.
STEWART: Our own correspondent David Shuster in Washington, at the end of a really busy day. Thanks, David.
SHUSTER: Thanks, Alison.
STEWART: For more on the great big decision The Decider now has to make, let‘s turn now to our political analyst, Lawrence O‘Donnell, who also contributes to the HuffingtonPost.com.
Good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be with you, Alison.
STEWART: In its response today, the White House said the president, quote, “will continue not to intervene in the case.” So long as Mrs.—
Mr. Libby still has a right to appeal. So does that suggest that the president might decide to intervene once Mr. Libby has exhausted the appeals process?
O‘DONNELL: well, there‘s nothing hopeful in what the White House said today for Scooter Libby. Now, I have long believed that this president would pardon Scooter Libby. I think there are now the seeds of doubt about that in the air, because if the White House is saying they—the president will not intervene as long as Libby‘s appeal is pending, it could very well be pending for the rest of this presidency, while Libby is in jail, starting sometime after Labor Day.
And that would mean that the president was leaving Libby in jail for that period and past his presidency, because it‘s entirely possible the appeal won‘t not exhausted by the time Bush leaves office. So unless we start to see the White House make some movements off of that statement, which seems pretty clear, it starts to look like the White House is not positioning itself for a pardon.
And for George Bush, the very best thing that could happen is that people simply stop talking about this case. Politically, that‘s the best thing. There‘s nothing in this case that helps the White House. And it may be the tactical decision of the White House that Libby is just going to have to drift off to prison in September, with as little comment as possible. That may be the best outcome for the White House.
STEWART: It‘s got to be difficult for the president, because if he does pardon Mr. Libby, he angers conservative supporters of Libby and likely Mr. Cheney, Libby‘s old boss. If Mr. Bush pardons Mr. Libby, the president‘s in hot water with everybody else. So he‘s really in a lose-lose situation, it seems.
O‘DONNELL: Yes, it‘s a really bad box to be in. And Alison, your White House staff is supposed to keep you out of these kinds of problems, not lead you into them, as Karl Rove and Scooter Libby have done in their involvement in this Plame matter, and Libby to the point of conviction.
And remember now, to issue a pardon is to overrule, in effect, the finding of a federal judge who was appointed by President Bush‘s father, a federal judge who is saying, The evidence of Libby lying under oath to the grand jury is overwhelming. Those are the judge‘s words for what this case is. The judge is saying, There are no close calls here legally in the rulings, and the evidence itself was not a close call, that it‘s an overwhelming case of guilt, lying under oath.
In a presidency, which, in the original campaign 2000, President Bush was promising exactly the opposite kind of conduct. He was making all sorts of allusions to how messy and kind of dirty White House conduct had become in the Lewinsky affair, and he...
STEWART: He was going to bring ethics back to the White House (INAUDIBLE).
O‘DONNELL: Bring ethics, honor, and dignity back to the White House.
This is not an example of that.
STEWART: So maybe you can answer this for me. So what if Mr. Bush makes Libby‘s conservative supporters mad? So what?
O‘DONNELL: Listen, I don‘t think there‘s much price to pay. It‘s—there are Republicans who will tell you that the so-called Libby support group is actually very small, professional Republicans, neocons based on Washington, and that there are no real grassroots support systems out there for Scooter Libby. And that may be the case.
And the president may also be making, in the end, on this, if he chooses not to pardon him, the president might be making a nonpolitical choice. He might be making simply the choice that he thinks honor dictates, that maybe this president does feel that lying under oath is unforgivable, and that he‘s not going to intervene on that basis.
We don‘t really know. This is not a president who‘s going to talk about this. The only thing that can get the president to talk about this is if the president issues a pardon. That‘s a very important point here. If he doesn‘t issue a pardon, he never, ever has to speak about the Libby case, because the appeal will probably ride out through the reset of Bush‘s presidency.
STEWART: Well, let‘s jump on the other side of this. With an approval rating were in the 20s in the latest NBC News poll, could a Libby pardon realistically hurt him at all at this point? Maybe he should just go for it.
O‘DONNELL: I think it‘s not so much what it does to the president. It‘s—I think it politically the damage is more to the Republican field, because you—we see already the question of the Libby pardon being presented in Republican debates now, and what‘s your position on it? Rudy Giuliani is the closest one to say he‘d be willing to pardon him.
So really, the political pressure on the Libby pardon question, I think for the next few months, is going to land primarily on the Republican candidates for president, whenever they‘re in those debate forums. This question is going to continue to come up.
STEWART: Lawrence O‘Donnell. Big thanks, as always, for joining us.
O‘DONNELL: Thanks, Alison.
STEWART: Spies like the U.S. Turns out the FBI has been illegally gathering even more information on Americans than previously thought, thanks to the PATRIOT Act.
And how not to run a campaign. The Republican Party gives some tips on how to avoid a George Allen macaca moment. We have a little suggestion. How about just not saying racist things in the first place?
This is COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
STEWART: Back in March, Justice Department review found that in 48 cases, the FBI violated policy or the law by using national security letters—essentially subpoenas without a judge‘s review—to obtain personal information about private individuals to which they were not entitled. The review characterized the 48 incidents as honest mistakes, and FBI director Robert Mueller said the number of abuses was, quote, “exceptionally small.”
Tonight, in our number four story, an FBI audit has found that those honest mistakes have actually occurred in more than 1,000 cases. “The Washington Post” reports that is based on just 10 percent of the FBI‘s post-PATRIOT Act national security investigations.
Now, if you do the math, the final number could be 10 times greater. We are talking about phone, e-mail, and financial records which the FBI can get from private companies without oversight. In about 700 cases, “The Post” reports, those companies mistakenly gave the FBI information to which the bureau shouldn‘t have gotten. Some of the agents decided to actually hold onto that information anyway.
The FBI found that agents messed up about 5 percent of the time, and companies did so about 10 percent of the time. Director Mueller has put new internal guidelines in place, but Congress, nevertheless, has considered hearings in possibly trying to roll back some of the PATRIOT Act provisions that removed judges from the process in the first place.
Joining us now is Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University.
Jonathan, nice to see you.
JONATHAN TURLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW EXPERT, GEORGE WASHINGTON
UNIVERSITY: Thanks. Good to be here.
STEWART: Are you satisfied with the response from the FBI that none of these privacy violations were malicious or intentional?
TURLEY: Well, I‘m not quite sure what that means. I mean, I—it‘s not like these agents are going to stand up and said, I did it, I did it, and I‘ll do it again, laughing maniacally. You know, the evidence of intent is usually found circumstantially in many cases.
But here you‘ve got 1,000 violations. And you have to wonder whether, at a very—at a minimum, there are agents engaging in willful blindness, that they‘re simply not really following the procedures, because they didn‘t think they had to.
So you don‘t have this extensive level of violations unless there‘s a feeling of immunity that exists. Now, remember, these things were controversial when they were put into the act. I‘ve testified at least twice in Congress on this very subject. And so it‘s always been controversial. So these agents took something that they—the Justice Department‘s assuring Congress would be handled very carefully, and virtually ignoring any safeguards.
STEWART: So willful blindness, is that a legal term, or just a very nice poetic term you came up with?
TURLEY: It‘s both legal and poetic. But I can‘t take credit for it.
STEWART: Explain to me a little bit further.
TURLEY: Well, you know, many times people are prosecuted because they engage in a level of sort of intentional ignorance. They try—they don‘t learn what the requirements may be. And what you have here are agents who were acting incredibly cavalierly about something that was a struggle to obtain, that was very controversial. Many of us were concerned at the time that this left the president and his administration with unchecked authority.
Now, we now know that there are 10,000 of these requests in 2005 alone. That‘s an enormous number of requests. And they seem to be going up every single year.
STEWART: Now, the FBI‘s legal counsel says there were, quote, “inadequate internal controls.” So what is the proper remedy?
TURLEY: Well, the proper remedy is to move this back within the system of review. You know, the government doesn‘t act well or efficiently, and sometimes or (INAUDIBLE) -- or illegally, when they act alone, that it‘s very important in a system committed to the rule of law to have checks and balances. This is an example of no checks and balances. The only check on the abuse of these national security letters is found in the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
But since those committees were formed, they have shown that they are not up to that task. They really do not perform oversight very effectively in these areas. So we need a judicial body, a third party, that can keep better track of this. And it can‘t be shielded with all of this national security effort so that the FBI is looking at the FBI, because the only party worse than the committees in doing oversight is when the FBI does oversight on itself.
STEWART: A thing (ph) legal counsel called this practice, quote, “an invaluable investigative tool.” So you have the situation where someone might have had their credit report read via this practice, but the same practice could identify someone who‘s trying to aid and abet terrorists. Is there a way to achieve both privacy and protection?
TURLEY: There‘s not just a way. That‘s the requirement, if we want to remain a free country. It‘s not a choice. We don‘t have to say, Well, you know, could we accommodate both? We have to accommodate both. If we give up liberty for security, then we lose the thing that defines us, what we‘re supposedly fighting for.
But what‘s happening in these national security letters is that most of the victims don‘t even know that they‘re victims. And these are viewed as minor things to the FBI. Most Americans don‘t view their privacy as a minor matter.
STEWART: Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley. Thanks for being with us.
TURLEY: Thank you.
STEWART: Meltdown on the space station. The computers controlling, oh, the oxygen and the orbit go on the fritz, and no one knows why.
And getting the bird in Illinois, when aerial animals attack.
Ahead (INAUDIBLE) on COUNTDOWN.
STEWART: I‘m Alison Stewart, in for Keith Olbermann tonight.
And once again, we pause the COUNTDOWN of the day‘s real news for a brief segment of the day‘s weird news. It‘s for the greater good, trust us.
Let‘s play Oddball.
We begin in Peoria, Illinois, home of the big annual Steamboat Classic Road Race this Saturday. So the streets are full of runners training right in the middle of where some migratory blackbirds have decided to nest, and the birds not so happy about it. Apparently the winged ones see runners as a threat because they‘re swooping down and popping each one of them on the head as they jog on through. And we‘d like to congratulate our NBC station, WEEK. I mean, you could have gone out there and warned people these birds were attacking, but you did so much more than that. You just sat there with your camera rolling and waited for Oddball magic to happen.
Like we said, it‘s for the greater good. Trust us.
To La Riolle (ph), France, where, mon dieu, they‘re driving on le fleuve. That‘s river in French, y‘all. It‘s the hottest motor sport in France. Modified Citroens made into speedboats and raced around the river. They are extremely fast, and they seem pretty safe for an open-topped rocket boat. But when it breaks down, you just let that sucker sink, because really, a Citroen, you can buy 10 more for about $100.
And finally to China for the wedding event of the year in Inner Mongolia. The tallest man in the world, seven-foot-nine Bao Sing Sun (ph), is finally tying the night with his five—night, knot, excuse me—with his five-foot-six fiancee. Not only is he almost twice her height, he‘s twice her age as well. But, hey, you know, once a gal realizes a man will reach to the end of the earth, or at least the end of a dolphin, to get her what she wants, there‘s almost nothing that could tear them (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE) doing that.
Also tonight, Hillary Clinton mimicking an unlikely source for her latest campaign trick, launching a Web site modeled after the aptly named Drudge Report.
And accusations that Angelina Jolie tried to stifle the press at a premiere which was to benefit the pro-press freedom organization, Reporters Without Borders.
Those stories ahead.
Now, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.
At number three, a sports media gaming company in the U.K. is facing up to a $5,000 fine if it does not remove an advertisement for its lap dance Web site. but the company is standing its ground. SMG (ph) says it operated fully within the rights when it commissioned a 100,000-square-foot picture of a stripper painted on the ground in the flight path to Gatwick Airport, visible to every plane taking off and landing there. Classy.
And number two, Juliens (ph) Auctions House in Los Angeles as we mark the 30th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. Juliens is holding an auction of some of his more precious items, including a gold-plated pistol and a bottle of the King‘s prescription drugs. Hard to say if it‘s the bottle of pills, if you catch my drift, because Elvis‘s doctor wrote him 199 prescriptions in the eight months leading up to his death.
And at number one, the three youngsters who escaped from a boarding school for troubled kids in Connecticut this week, aged 10, 11, and 14. The boys stole a car and tried to make a break for New York City. They were pulled over Tuesday night for driving without headlights. Inside the car, police say the boys had brought along several toys, including a teddy bear and a (INAUDIBLE) stuffed animal, because you‘ve got to feed those things even if you‘re on the lam.
STEWART: What a wonderful political tool the Internet has become, giving more power to the people. Woop it up while it lasts people. Number two in the COUNTDOWN, the 2008 campaigns attempting to actually control content on the web. Good luck with that, by the way.
Prime example number one, Hillary Hub, a new website, is not the usual flag waving, talking points listing, cyber flyer. It is modeled after the entry point for many things news and naughty and often not right, “The Drudge Report.” Hillary Hub is like Drudge, in that it links to stories, blogs, videos; these ones all positive about the candidate and maybe a little bit negative about her rivals.
The Clinton campaign hoping it will become the go to spot for the latest news on Hillary.
Example number two, avoiding user generated video that bites you in the ass. For example, what will forever be known as the Macaca moment. Virginia Senator George Allen‘s racial taunt, caught on tape by a rival campaign, sank the southerner‘s prospects for president. Republicans are looking for ways to turn this infamous lemon into lemonade by distributing an Internet guide to candidates, warning about the web‘s wily ways, and how to turn such shenanigans to their advantage.
To sum up just a few points, every candidates should assume that they are being taped at all times, make nice with right wing bloggers—they‘re your friends—and use surrogates to short circuit unfavorable news in the big bad mainstream media. Michael Cornfield is with George Washington University‘s Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet, and author of “Politics Moves Online: Campaigning in the Internet.” He also contributes to Politico.com. Thanks for being with us tonight.
MICHAEL CORNFIELD, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Nice to be with you Allison.
STEWART: So, do you think these campaigns can actually put some reigns on the Internet?
CORNFIELD: Well, they can corral the Internet. They can fight it to a stand still and get a fair shake. But can they stop it? No.
STEWART: The Republican Internet guide for senatorial candidates actually admits the Democrats have a little bit of an edge when it comes to using the web. One, tell us why that would be. And two, how big a disadvantage has this been for the Republicans?
CORNFIELD: Well, the advantage the Democrats have is in people. There are more activists. There are more people in what is known as the net roots than there are on the right, although that is changing somewhat. It is not just a matter of mastering the formats, blogging, Youtube, et cetera, which is important. You have to have a lot of people who are on the Internet, talking with each other, talking with your candidates, talking with their friends.
The Democrats simply have more people out there online than the Republicans.
STEWART: they have created more communities it sounds like.
CORNFIELD: Exactly right. Now, the Republicans have started to catch up a little bit with immigration. There is a website called GrassFire.org that had hundreds of thousands of signatures on a petition to Congress. And that‘s how MoveOn.org got started. That is the first real sign of populist life we have seen online from the right.
STEWART: Let‘s talk about this Hillary Hub. The designers of it apparently want to use the site to break news about their candidate, like yesterday‘s endorsement from Steven Spielberg. They want to become known as their own news editors. Is that realistic, to control the message online?
CORNFIELD: Well, I am not sure that is what they‘re really up to. I agree with you that it looks like “The Drudge Report.” But what I really think of when I saw it is the War Room. Remember the War Room from Bill Clinton‘s 1992 campaign, where the purpose is rapid response. Somebody comes out and says something about you; you‘re back in an hour with a refutation and a counter attack.
I think that is what Hillary Hub is going to become.
STEWART: So it‘s the War Room gone online?
CORNFIELD: Exactly right. It‘s War Room 2.0.
STEWART: Now, the latest viral video in the campaign is this thing called Obama Girl. I don‘t know if you have seen it or not?
CORNFIELD: I can‘t admit that I‘ve seen it. I‘m married.
STEWART: I‘m going to make you look at it now. There you go. It is sort of a takeoff on some of those sort of sexy, slightly sleazy rap videos. It is a salute to the candidate with this lovely lady talking about how much she loves Obama. I‘m wondering, does this help them? Is this the kind of thing where someone sort of meaning to do something flattering might cause a little more of a problem?
CORNFIELD: Barack Obama is in a unique situation with regards to the Internet. No has ever had this kind of outpouring of spontaneous affection from not just this video, but from all the people who signed up on MySpace and FaceBook, and the other social networking sites. And the Obama campaign, frankly, is still struggling all that enthusiasm and put it to good use.
STEWART: OK, that is what we will call that video, enthusiastic.
STEWART: That‘s a nice way to put it there. I want to get your opinion. What do you think is more powerful right now, in terms of the candidates and shaping the message, the Internet or talk radio?
CORNFIELD: Well, that‘s like asking me which is more important to a successful basketball team, the point guard or the center. You need them both. Talk radio has certain strengths and weaknesses. The big strengths are you can really get people outraged and get them enthusiastic, to use that word again, to do something.
The Internet‘s advantage is, while you can‘t reach as many people at one time, and maybe you can‘t get them riled up, it actually gives you the tools to do something. So if I am a campaigner, I want to find ways of tying the two together. And the smart campaigns are doing just that.
STEWART: Of all the campaigns, who is doing the best job online?
CORNFIELD: Of the presidential campaigns?
CORNFIELD: I would put in my A class Romney, McCain, Edwards, and Obama‘s supporters.
STEWART: All right, political scientist Michael Cornfield, thanks for being with us. We do appreciate it.
CORNFIELD: You‘re welcome.
STEWART: Six years ago Russia had to crash the Mir Space Station down to Earth thanks to a massive computer glitch. Could the current space station suffer the same fate?
Speaking of broken things, Britney Spears needs help in many ways, though this time it is professional. She wants her fans to think of a name for her comeback album. Writer and bonvivant Michael Musto will weigh in with his suggestions.
But first, here are the top three sound bites of the day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When Elaine (INAUDIBLE) moved to her new neighborhood, she was hoping to make a new friend.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn‘t know anybody. And I prayed and asked the lord that I would meet some people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her new neighbor is a baby moose named Faz. Abandoned by its mother, the Cousenous (ph) found him resting beside their parked car three weeks ago. Faz has made himself right at home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure enough the lord brought the moose and the people.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank Congressman Todd Platts (ph) from Pennsylvania for joining us. There you are. How you doing Todd? Thanks for being here. Honored your here. His mother is a manufacturer. She manufactures peanut fudge.
STEPHEN COLBERT, “THE COLBERT REPORT”: To this day, President Reagan‘s words stand as a litmus test for patriotism, just compare the reaction of Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes.
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You know what‘s amazing is the behind the scenes here, is that his own advisers, the State Department, NSA program, every time he put those words in the speech, they took it out. And you what he said? This is great core values. He said it is the right thing to do.
ALAN COLMES, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: More on the case of a Florida teen who couldn‘t stop hiccuping.
COLBERT: You really know how to blow a moment, Colmes. I bet when Hannity proposed to his wife, you ran in yelling, the vending machine stole my dollar.
STEWART: If there was ever a time NASA needed the Star Ship Enterprise‘s engineer Scotty, this it. The number two in our COUNTDOWN, increasing worry tonight over the condition of the 100 billion dollar International Space Station. The joint project of the U.S., Russia and more than a dozen other nations has long been over budget and behind schedule.
Now the crew and ground technicians are struggling to solve a second mysterious round of computer outages that could threaten the life support systems aboard. And there are also problems with Atlantis, the shuttle sent to repair and supply the station. It doesn‘t take a rocket scientist to know that is bad. Correspondent Kristen Dahlgren is tracking the latest at the Kennedy Space Center.
KRISTEN DAHLGREN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With Atlantis and the International Space Station circling together high above the Earth, engineers on the ground scrambled to get the space station‘s critical computer systems back online and figure out what caused all three to crash at once.
By Thursday morning, the system was back up briefly. But after seven minutes, it failed again.
BILL GERSTENMAIER, NASA: We‘re still struggling to find out what the real problem is here.
DAHLGREN: Those computers help steer and stabilize the giant space station. So as technicians work to reboot, Russian and American space agencies were forced to consider the remote possibility of abandoning the orbiting outpost.
GERSTENMAIER: We‘re still a long way away from where we would be to de-man the space station.
DAHLGREN: For now, Atlantis is helping to steer the station and may have to stay an extra day while engineers troubleshoot the problem. So early in the day, NASA took the unusual step of powering down non-essentials systems to conserve resources.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A modified power down, and it‘s going to hopefully give us an extra dock day, based on the attitude problems we‘ve had.
DAHLGREN: The crew remains hopeful their work on the station‘s solar arrays may help the computer and power issues. today, an old panel was folded up while astronauts prepare for another space walk tomorrow. They will also be working to secure a part of the shuttle‘s thermal blanket that peeled up during launch. That blanket is not expected to put the crew in danger, but is now just one more of the unknowns facing Atlantis as the shuttle crew tries to help the International Space Station and head home safely.
(on camera): At this point, abandoning the space station is a worst-case scenario. But if that were to happen, Atlantis would return to Earth with its crew. The space station crew, including American Clayton Anderson, would use the Russian Soyuz escape capsule. But again, NASA says that decision is still a long ways away.
Kristen Dahlgren, NBC News, Kennedy Space Center.
STEWART: On to our nightly roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, Keeping Tabs, with Barbara Walters said that with Rosie O‘Donnell off “The View,” the ladies can finally talk about man on woman sex. Yes, you heard me right. Now that Rosie O‘Donnell is long gone from “The View” after that split screen fight with Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Barbara Walters is dishing.
She told Ryan Seacrest on his radio show that it is hard for anyone to follow Rosie. But that, quote, there are things we have been able to discuss that we weren‘t able to discuss with Rosie, like heterosexual sex, end quote. She also says the show is not as political or vocal, but that the hot topics are still interesting and the viewers are loyal.
Asked to respond to Walters‘ comments about heterosexual sex, O‘Donnell, on her blog, wrote, quote, she is almost 80.
A different coming of age for Prince William and Prince Harry of Wales, their first American television interview ever. “The Today Show‘s” Matt Lauer talked exclusively with the princes in their London residence, Clarence House. After what they saw their mother go through, it is easy to imagine they would be shy around, and possibly outright suspicious of the press.
They spoke in particular about how Harry is portrayed in the media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE WILLIAM OF WALES, BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY: You know, Harry has had his fair share of hard times given by the media. At the end of the day, no matter what you think, the only person you are ever going to get to know to be able to form an opinion is him. No matter what you read or what you see, you‘re never going to know someone unless you actually get to meet them and talk to them properly. That is what I say about everyone.
PRINCE HARRY OF WALES, BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY: The most amusing point is meeting somebody and then going, you are so not what I thought you were, to both of us, to our father, to everybody. You‘re not what I thought. What did you think? I best not say it to your face, like this. Well, thanks a lot.
MATT LAUER, “THE TODAY SHOW”: I hope you mean that they‘re pleasantly surprised in that.
PRINCE HARRY: Of course, because they believe what they read, which is—god knows what is said in the papers that we don‘t read about. It‘s just poisonous.
LAUER: What is the coolest thing about being a prince?
PRINCE WILLIAM: It‘s a good question.
LAUER: You‘re struggling?
PRINCE WILLIAM: We‘re very lucky. We have lots of things that we‘re fortunate to have. We have a house. We have all of these nice things around us. And so, you know, we‘re grateful for that, because so many people don‘t have that.
PRINCE HARRY: We‘ve had a good educations. It doesn‘t show, but we have. We‘re very privileged in many ways. We‘re very lucky and we‘re very grateful for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: As for their mother and her relationship with the press, they were obviously not too young more than 10 years ago to understand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAUER: Did she ever sit you down and talk about the fame and the weight that it presented?
PRINCE HARRY: It was obvious for both of us. It was just so obvious. When she comes back from doing whatever she had been doing, whether it was tennis, and she had been chased down the road, or doing a public engagement; it was clear to see the pressure that she was under sometimes, depending on where she had been and what she had been doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: You can see more of Matt‘s interview tomorrow on “Today” and on “Dateline” Monday, June 18th.
And back to court for that classy with a K guy, Joe Francis, creator of “Girls Gone Wild,” that is once he gets out of jail. Here‘s the story, two Florida women are suing Francis, saying they did not legally consent to engaging in a sexually explicit video. The women say they were lured onto a tour bus with the promise of free clothing, and were then supplied with alcohol, even though they were younger than 21 years old at the time.
Footage of the women exposing themselves has turned up in two “Girls Gone Wild” DVDs. Meanwhile, Mr. Francis is voluntarily staying in a Nevada jail on federal tax evasion charges, even though he has been granted bail. The reason, he is avoiding possible arrest on Florida charges of possessing contraband while he was in jail there in May. I told you, class, right?
And in more news of how people with too much time and money on their hands work to benefit mankind, the spawn of Rod Stewart and model Alana Stewart (ph) was arrested this week, charged with assaulting some couple back with a brick, actually. There‘s no relation to me, Allison Stewart. Twenty six year old Sean Stewart, who has a PHD in nothing whatsoever, was released on 60,000 dollars bail after being charged with assault with a deadly weapon and throwing stuff at a vehicle, following an incident this April outside a party in the Hollywood Hills.
Stewarts‘ attorney says the victims only named him as their attacker after learning he attended the party. Sean‘s record includes previous brushes with the law. He was forced to attend Alcoholics Anonymous after his expulsion from Beverly Hills High School at the 16. Hey Rod, happy Father‘s Day. Also, happy Father‘s Day to my dad, Joe Stewart. He‘s awesome.
Paris Hilton doing the old in and out thing again. Get you mind out of the gutter. She is getting out of one of the prison medical facilities and into another. That is ahead. This is COUNTDOWN.
STEWART: The evidence has been mounting for quite some time now. America‘s celbutantes in crisis. On top of all that, they all seem to know each other and have spent time together, Paris, Britney, Lindsay. In happier days, they were kind of like the “Charlie‘s Angels” of the party circuit, only there wasn‘t really a smart one.
But take a look the past month alone. If you have three bad eggs, maybe it‘s time to make an omelet. In our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, we try to get to the bottom of this mess. First, the latest and something you don‘t hear very often, if ever; Paris Hilton is stable, in stable condition that is, according to the L.A. sheriff.
Late yesterday, she was transferred back to the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, though she is in a medical clinic there. The sheriff spokesman says Hilton will be moved to her original special needs module if all goes well.
Meanwhile, Britney Spears wants help naming her new album. What new album? An upcoming work of art, apparently. And on her website, she asks fans to suggest titles. She takes a dig at Lindsay Lohan by joking that one possible title could be, quote, “Oh My God, Is, like, Lindsay Lohan OK, Like?” OK.
And if Miss Lohan‘s former bodyguard is to be believed, her wildest moments were even worse than we thought. Lee Weaver, a former member of the Army‘s special forces, is writing a tell all book about protecting famousness, such as Lohan, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. He tells “News of the World” no one was as difficult as Lindsay Lohan, quote, “I even saw her try to grope Mariah Carey‘s bottom and boobs one night as they dance,” end quote.
But Weaver apparently worked for Lohan for only 10 days. And Lohan‘s peeps say he is just full of it and trying to cash on in.
Time now to call in “Village Voice” columnist Michael Musto to help us dissect all of thus. So much, Michael, to talk about.
MICHAEL MUSTO, “THE VILLAGE VOICE”: It‘s a real bimbo summit.
STEWART: Paris Hilton has gone from the medical ward of the Twin Towers Facility to the medical unit of the Lynwood facility, because she now she is in stable condition. So this is cause for a joyful celebration, right?
MUSTO: No, I hear, Allison, they actually moved her to a stable, which is weird, because to me she‘s always been more Afghan hound. She‘s more kind of a glamorous Westminster show than a Preakness. But, no, she is totally stable now. The reason they know that is they asked her who runs the country, Paris, and she said Heidi Klum. She is back.
STEWART: I think she‘s kind of like a Whippet (ph).
MUSTO: A mixture, and inter-species kind of thing.
STEWART: Hilton is scheduled for release on June 25th and has, of course, been trying to buff up her image, talking about her spirituality, her emotional growth. But she is reportedly having a hard time finding charities interested in working with her. What could she do to help mankind, Michael?
MUSTO: Maybe the North Shore Animal League. No, I don‘t know. Sexual transmitted diseases somehow don‘t want her. The church even would rather have Heidi Fleiss, or Heidi Klum. Maybe one of those Sally Struthers commercials, feed a socialite. Come on, look at this poor girl. Feed her.
STEWART: Let‘s get to the generational problems here. You‘ve got Paris, Britney, Lindsay. We can throw in Nicole Richie, who has her own court date coming up. Is there a common thread when it comes to bad behavior? Was one of them patient zero?
MUSTO: Well, Paris came first with the dancing on tables with no underwear. And then along comes Britney with the driving with the baby on her lap. And then Lindsay came along and mainlines Jane Fonda. Then Nicole Richie came along and imitated all of the above. So Paris was patient zero, which coincidentally is as high as she can count.
She should have been quarantined long ago. There wouldn‘t have been this segment.
STEWART: As far as Britney goes, I had no idea she was so far along on this new album. I don‘t know if she is really, but she is already scrounging around for titles. Any ideas?
MUSTO: Record me baby on more time, oops I recorded it again, Kevin must be missing and angel. My top choice here, Allison, is more stuff to lip-synch to at the Hard Rock.
STEWART: Nice, nice.
MUSTO: You can have it for free, Britney.
STEWART: All right, she‘s taking it, I bet. Why is Britney taking a shot at Lindsay on her website? What‘s her beef with Lindsay?
MUSTO: I don‘t know, accept that Lindsay is younger. She can actually act. Her fake breasts don‘t leak. She did a pseudo Britney album that sold. And she is addressing her problems. Otherwise, nothing.
STEWART: Let‘s talk about this bodyguard who is supposedly writing this book about Miss Lohan, saying she was all over Mariah Carey on the dance floor. He also went on to say Lohan was at the same night club as Jessica Simpson. She Simpson was giving her a dirty look, so she jumped over a table and tried to pull her hair out. Does any of that sound remotely true?
MUSTO: All of it. That is where Britney got the hair pulling idea from. Also, Mariah might appear to be a total complete lady, but her exposed body parts do lend themselves to the grabbing. And besides, this is written by a bodyguard. Who is going to argue with a bodyguard? I say it is true. I‘m buying the book. Don‘t hurt me, fella.
STEWART: Exactly, and he knows where you work. You know, I was thinking that maybe these ladies can take some comfort from Angelina Jolie, who evolved from her bad girl ways to the woman she is today. But Miss Jolie, in promoting her new movie, tried to get reporters to sign an agreement about what they could and couldn‘t ask her. Most refused. What do you think has happened to Angelina Jolie?
MUSTO: With she is a control freak. But this is pretty standard behavior for has-beens. Look, she is very protective of her children, cover of “People,” or nothing. I think she should reverse her whole approach though, and demand that you can only ask about my interesting kids, not about my dreary movie. Have you seen those commercials? Daniel, Daniel, what happened to Daniel? I hate to make fun of that, Allison.
STEWART: OK, then I‘ll let you make fun of something else. So maybe should one of these three celebutante girls who are in trouble think about adoption?
MUSTO: I thought you were going to say celebutard. I‘m glad you didn‘t. I think they should all adopt each other and just live in some kind of institution really, with some heavy sedation.
STEWART: Do you think any of them has a chance at a career?
MUSTO: I think Lindsay is the one with the chance. And that‘s why her plight pains me, because she actually does have spunk and talent. I adore all these people, by the way. And yes, Angelina has an Oscar. But I think Lindsay—Lindsay, Britney, -- whatever, the young one is the one with the brightest possible future, if she gets out of rehab alive.
STEWART: All right, Michael Musto‘s money is on the young one. The irreplaceable Michael Musto, thanks as always.
MUSTO: Thank you.
STEWART: That is it for this Thursday edition of COUNTDOWN. I‘m Allison Stewart, in for Keith Olbermann. Thank you so much for watching.
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