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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Sept. 7

Read the transcript to the **day show

Guests: Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Gerald Posner

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Big mistake.  Thank you.  It‘s great having you on, Jonathan.  Norah O‘Donnell, great as always.  “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” starts right now.                

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?  The Petraeus report, the one not written by General Petraeus, not only is it not written by General Petraeus, it‘s not even written down.  The report that the report will be only a brief opening statement read by Petraeus, then the general‘s testimony.  They are winging it.  And the wig concession in the non-Petraeus report, they might send troops early next year, maybe 3,500.  Maybe. 


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  By the way, the situation in Anbar is being replicated to other parts of the country. 


OLBERMANN:  The president today at the APEC summit in Australia, but the surge troops didn‘t create the success in Anbar Province, even though Mr. Bush says Anbar is improved because Sunni tribal leaders surged away from al Qaeda in the Iraq to the U.S. in Iraq. 

And could there be other reasons loyalties might shift there?  Governmental corruption?  It is so bad, so systemic, says a former high-ranking Iraqi judge, that we should pull out our support from under Prime Minister Maliki‘s government. 

The Osama bin Laden tape.  First, why is he still free to make one, and in it he criticizes congressional Democrats and just rants without making a specific threat or point.  So he‘s Sean Hannity? 

And aren‘t you glad you stood in line for that iPhone?  Your cost $599.  The new cost $399. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think it sucks. 


OLBERMANN:  Speaking of which, stripping away the classy veneer of golf, revealing the true effects of steroids at the Tour de France, and answering the vital questions in horse racing from our “Oddball” plays of the summer. 


HORSE RACE ANNOUNCER:  Who farted on the extreme outside?  Who farted? 

Who farted in the on the outside?


OLBERMANN:  And more problems with doors and words for the president in Australia.


BUSH:  As John Howard noted when he went to thank the Austrian troops there last year. 


OLBERMANN:  All that and more now on “Countdown.” 


BUSH:  For the OPEC summit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)             

OLBERMANN (on camera):  Good evening.  First the Petraeus report turned out not to be written by General David Petraeus.  Tonight it turns out not to be a report.  At this rate by the time of its scheduled presentation to Congress Monday, it‘ll just be a post-it. 

Our fifth story on the “Countdown,” all this time we have been thinking of the so-called Petraeus report as a noun, turns out we should have been classifying it as a verb.  The general is not going to deliver a hard report.  He‘s merely going to report to Congress.  Big difference. 

But what‘s the difference if the president is going to say, as he just has tonight, that the new bin Laden video underscores the need to show resolve in Iraq.  To Mr. Bush‘s most convenient bogeyman in a moment. 

First after having created the impression it would be a ghost written but physical Petraeus report.  In fact, the administration will not be handing in its homework let alone showing its math.  Senior officials at the Pentagon having referred to the report as an assessment for several weeks now in anticipation of the fact that there would be no hard copy. 

In a hint of his oral presentation to Congress on Monday, the general writing a letter to the troops today calling the military progress from the surge uneven and saying of political reconciliation in Iraq, quote, “It has not worked out as we had hoped.”  You think? 

And in the same hypothetical slight of hand by the president, in Iraq, when he talked about maybe possibly reducing troop levels in the future, maybe, General Petraeus indicating a willingness to do the same said to be mulling over a drawdown of one brigade of between 3,500 and 4,500 troops early next year based entirely upon conditions on the ground. 

And now to turn to our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine. 

Richard, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  So now the report is a question-and-answer session?  Why is the administration seemingly afraid to put its assessment of where things stand in Iraq in writing?  I mean, does the math fall apart once you put it down on paper? 

WOLFFE:  I think the White House is just concerned about overloading members of Congress with things like facts and reports.  And, look, here you have actually a White House that is supremely confident in a way that even a month ago they didn‘t expect to be.  They think Petraeus has credibility, that the Democrats will somehow shrivel up when they see the uniform.  And as the president said in Iraq just the other day, they think that Republicans, especially Republicans who have been in Iraq, have come home to use George Tenet‘s unfortunate phrase, it‘s a slam dunk now. 

OLBERMANN:  And when we were told that originally in 2003 and invaded Iraq with about 130,000 troops, in January of this year, the president implemented this so-called surge with that word implying it would be temporary, 38,000 more troops, no debate.  And now as a concession, his surrogate, General Petraeus, is offering this distant possibility of a drawdown of a brigade, 3,500 to maybe 4,500 troops maybe. 

At what point, Richard, does somebody in Congress, anybody in Congress, recognize that they have become the mark in a shell game or maybe a Three Card Monte game, only when they lose that game, American kids get killed? 

WOLFFE:  You know, it wasn‘t just an implication that the surge would be temporary.  With Secretary Gates there saying that it would be months.  And it‘s clearly going beyond the month‘s measure. 

This is actually even more than just a game around Congress.  This is very clearly a political strategy whereby they‘re trying to own—the White House is essentially trying to own the phrase bring the troops home or withdraw troops.  And they think if they say it enough then people will get the impression more troops are coming home than really is the case.  So this is an effort, I think, to position themselves and Republicans in Congress in general for next year‘s elections.  And, yes, of course the president wants to bring troops home.  I don‘t doubt his sincerity for a moment, but in having a token gesture, they think they can position themselves more broadly in a political sense. 

OLBERMANN:  In terms of positioning, the group launched a petition asking its membership whether they would continue to support any Democrat who signs with the president on Iraq.  Could that action, their actions now have real consequences for the Democrats at the polls both during the primaries and next November?  I mean, they did take back Congress on an anti-war mandate that the party has said we‘re abandoning from a practical point of view. 

WOLFFE:  Yeah, you know, I said it before here and I‘ll say it again.  I think the danger for Democrats here is over promising and under delivering to this very vocal and active base they now have. 

This—the grassroots, the net roots of the Democratic Party have flexed their muscles before.  Joe Lieberman knows full well what they can do and they‘ve already had a huge impact, I think, on the presidential candidates.  But moving forward, Democrats in Congress really have to deliver something and so they‘re doing something more than just trying.  They can actually achieve something. 

OLBERMANN:  Richard, we‘ll have more on this bin Laden tape later in the hour, but the president‘s reaction tonight saying that the bin Laden tape is “A reminder about the dangerous world in which we live and it is a reminder that we must pull together to protect our people against these extremists who murder the innocent in order to achieve their political objective.”

Is that not just about as disingenuous and insincere as you can get considering Mr. Bush is the man who essentially called off the hunt for Osama bin Laden and redirected all the resources away from pursuing him and wasted them on this nitwitted war in Iraq in the first place? 

WOLFFE:  Well, and as we pointed out in “Newsweek” recently, failed to put in a blocking force to stop bin Laden escaping from Tora Bora.  There is a real question here about how he puts things together in his own mind.  When he talks about the struggle for young democracies, knowing that al Qaeda leadership is in Pakistan, really there‘s a question of where his focus is now.  Bin Laden‘s tape has shown that. 

OLBERMANN:  George Bush cannot even block Osama bin Laden from getting hair club for men products for the beard.  Richard Wolffe of “Newsweek.”  thanks for your time.  Have a great weekend. 

WOLFFE:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  When the president and General Petraeus sell the success of the surge next week, if any, the centerpiece of their sales job will be the province of Anbar, the massive desert region that sprawls from Baghdad to Syria.  Until recently, the Sunni insurgents there, many of them former Saddamists, have been in league with the Iraqis and the foreigners who call themselves al Qaeda in Iraq.  That has changed as the president noted today. 


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Anbar was an al Qaeda stronghold.  The leaders of al Qaeda had announced they were going to consider this a safe haven from which to lawn further attacks for starters.  There‘s a part of Iraq that was dangerous and the truth of the matter is a lot of experts in the country have said it was lost to al Qaeda.  I went there because al Qaeda has lost Anbar.  The opposite happened.  Anbar is a Sunni province that once had people joining al Qaeda.  They are now turning against al Qaeda.  Why?  Because people don‘t want to follow a dark nation.  People want to live in hope. 


OLBERMANN:  What Mr. Bush did not say in Australia is that the turnaround in Anbar predates his surge.  It came because Sunni insurgents there got tired of their al Qaeda in Iraq allies blowing up civilians.  Mr.  Bush also dropped from an earlier draft of his speech the claim Anbar is now one of the safest places in Iraq, perhaps because of the Pentagon‘s report that four U.S. Marines died there yesterday. 

But the problem with recent progress in Anbar is not the administration‘s dubious claims about its extent, but the questionable tactic used to pursue it.  The U.S. is now working with, supporting and arming Sunni tribal leaders, the phrase that last year was pronounced Sunni insurgents, some of whom reportedly even the U.S. military believes are responsible for killing American soldiers. 

Critics of this tactic include the prime minister of Iraq, understandably concerned about the prospect of his nation‘s largest province, effectively being run by the same man who ran it under Saddam, who might be tempted to reclaim their former power using the very weapons Mr. Bush has now put in their hands. 

The latest national intelligence estimate on Iraq warning specifically this new tactic could, quote, “reinvigorate armed opposition to the Baghdad government.”  General Petraeus‘ own counter insurgency manual warning it can, quote, “exacerbate civil strife.”  An advisor to Mr. Maliki telling the “New York Times” this summer, quote, “We have enough militias in Iraq that we are struggling now to solve the problem.  Why are we creating new ones?”

Joining us with some answers, we hope, Rajiv Chandrasakaran, the author of “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” former Baghdad Bureau chief of “The Washington Post” and now national editor. 

Rajiv, thank you for being with us. 

CHANDRASAKARAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  What are the dangers of supporting an army, Sunnis, who last year were insurgents, by our definition, had us in their cross hairs? 

CHANDRASAKARAN:  This is one of those deals with the devil, Keith.  These were Iraqis who were, as you point out, fighting against U.S. troops, fighting against Iraqi army forces under the central government.  Once they‘re done fighting the al Qaeda elements in Anbar and other parts of western Iraq, what are they going to do next?  I don‘t think anybody expects them to put down their weapons and peacefully integrate into the rest of Iraqi society and remain loyal to the Shiite-led central government.  They‘re going to, potentially—there‘s a real risk they will turn on the government of Prime Minister al Maliki or whoever follows him, whatever Shiite-led government in Baghdad. 

There‘s a genuine risk that they will use that newfound influence and power in an effort to gain an increased position in the Iraqi government, in Iraqi society.  They feel marginalized.  They feel shut out.  It seems clear the Shiite leadership might well be their next target. 

OLBERMANN:  So how does working with these men integrate with Mr.  Bush‘s statement that America‘s safety depends on having a strong, stable, centralized government in Baghdad? 

CHANDRASAKARAN:  There‘s a strong contradiction there, Keith.  On one hand, we‘re trying to provide a strong unitary state with security forces under central government control.  At the same time, we‘re doing these one-off deals with Sunni ex-insurgent groups, Sunni sheiks in Anbar and we‘re trying to do it in Diyala and Baquba.  There‘s a fundamental contradiction here.  It will be very difficult for the administration to reconcile them going forward. 

OLBERMANN:  And there‘s another dimension to this, as if we were playing three-dimensional chess here, if you help the Sunnis in Anbar, is there a danger of pushing that central Shiite-dominated Iraqi government even closer to the next supposed troublemaker in the east, from Mr. Bush‘s point of view, Iran? 

CHANDRASAKARAN:  Of course.  The government of Prime Minister Maliki is none too happy the deals they have cut with the Sunni sheiks.  And if they perceive the United States is skewing more to the Sunnis, they‘re going to turn to the nearest friends they have, which are the Shiite sheiks or, excuse me, the Shiite regime in neighboring Iran and it risks greater Iranian involvement in Iraq.  And it‘s a step toward the further de facto partitioning of Iraq. 

OLBERMANN:  And to that point, in talking about the Anbar model being used throughout Iraq, is Mr. Bush essentially inching close towards the proposal from Senator Biden, that is a partitioning of Iraq with some sort of loose, almost informal central government? 

CHANDRASAKARAN:  Well, that‘s the direction in which this policy may take us.  I mean, the dirty little plan “B” that‘s being sort of spoken about in whispers here in Washington is that if the surge doesn‘t pan out as the administration had hoped and you don‘t have a strong central government, the way you go is toward greater regional control and by giving more authority and more funneling weapons and more responsibility to regional based security forces.  It‘s certainly setting in motion a path that gets us toward de facto partition. 

OLBERMANN:  Rajiv Chandrasekaran, have a great weekend. 

CHANDRASAKARAN:  Good to be on with you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  The president not only lacking an exit strategy in Iraq and Australia as well.  He finished up his speech to business leaders at the APEC summit, seemed to get confuse body how to get off the stage.  Nope, wrong direction.  Left is not right and right is not left just because you‘re down under.  It only applies to when the toilet flushed.  And that blunder happened after he opened his speech with this whopper. 


BUSH: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction and for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit.  I appreciate—APEC summit.  Excuse me.


OLBERMANN:  Having failed acronyms, the president then went on to flunk the geography category as well. 


BUSH:  As John Howard accurately noted when he went to thank the Austrian troops there last year...


Australia, Australia, Australia.  The leader of the free world, everyone.  Thank you.  He‘ll be here all week.  Enjoy the veal. 

A new dimension of the corruption in Iraq.  We know the mindless bloodshed makes it begin to look like Cambodia, but tonight, how corruption is making it look like Colombia at the height of the Medellin drug cartel. 

New beard color, same old rhetoric, a lot fewer threats, all of which misses the big point, why hasn‘t the Bush administration put enough resources into keeping Osama bin Laden from making new videos like the one made today and released or breathing?  You are watching “Countdown” on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN:  Four and a half years and counting and with no end in sight, the Iraq war will be the most expensive conflict in history.  The latest estimates put Pentagon spending at more than $200 million a day. 

With record amounts of money flying around comes the opportunity for record fraud.  The administration paying an unprecedented number of private contractors billions, many through no bid contracts to do jobs that G.I.s used to do.  With little oversight, tons of weapons, even tons of cash have disappeared down a black hole in Iraq. 

Our fourth story tonight, the realization that corruption there is not just costly but deadly, rising to the highest levels and driving the crime fighters themselves to run for their lives, literally. 

Our chief investigative reporter Lisa Myers has this exclusive interview with one of them. 



For three years, he fought to root out graft and fraud in Iraq.  Judge Rahdi al Rahdi.  But Rahdi recently resigned and came to the U.S., he says, because of numerous threats on his life by corrupt Iraqi officials. 

RAHDI AL RAHDI, IRAQ JUDGE:  (through translator):  They have militias and they attacked my neighborhood with missiles.  These missiles fell very close to my house. 

MYERS (on camera):  Is there corruption at the highest level of the Iraqi government? 

RAHDI:  Yes. 

MYERS (voice-over):  Rahdi says Prime Minister Maliki is not corrupt, but protects corrupt ministers and allies. 

(on camera):  You‘re saying the prime minister essentially blocked you from prosecuting any senior Iraqi officials? 

RAHDI (through translator):  Yes, that is correct. 

MYERS (voice-over):  Rahdi complains pervasive corruption added to the suffering of the Iraqi people. 

RAHDI (through translator):  The reconstruction of Iraq has almost stopped, no water, no electricity, no gas, no oil. 

MYERS:  His investigations have revealed medicine and equipment stolen from hospitals, substandard food distributed, oil stolen to buy weapons from militias. 

The Maliki government says corruption is a problem, but denies blocking criminal investigations.  And it has accused Rahdi of being corrupt.  Rahdi and American officials dismiss the charges. 

STUART BOWEN, JR., SPECIAL INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR IRAQ:  Rahdi, by my judgment, was an honorable man and effective crime fighter in Iraq and it is a loss for Iraq he‘s no longer there. 

MYERS:  Rahdi says Americans should stop supporting the Maliki government because of the corruption. 

RAHDI (through translator):  When they realize that they‘re paying money and lives without any results, they will stop the support. 

MYERS (on camera):  U.S. officials expect Rahdi to seek political asylum here.  The Maliki government already has named his replacement.  A man U.S. officials say was previously accused of corruption. 

Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington.            


OLBERMANN:  Here some iPhone buyers beginning to think they got Halliburtoned.  Those buying earlier got $100 back.  Those who waited are getting $200 off. 

Mr. Bank Robber, the guy in a uniform is a policeman.  There is a policeman there.  I wonder how this one will turn out.  Next on “Countdown.” 


OLBERMANN:  On this date in 1860, Anna Mary Robertson was born in Greenwich, New York.  A maid and then a maker and seller of butter and potato chips, her only hobby embroidery which was taken from her by arthritis in 1936, so she turned something a little less strenuous on her hands, painting.  An art corrector was driving through New York and saw what he thought was authentic Americana hanging in a local store.  He bought all her paintings and asked who had made them.  The store owner knew the artist only by her married name and nickname, Grandma Mosses.  She lived to be 101.  She made the cover of “Time” magazine and her paintings hang in dozens of museums around the world and there‘s one in the White House. 

On that note let‘s play “Oddball.”   

Maybe this guy will find success at 76.  We begin in Little Rock, Arkansas, for the dumb criminal of the day.  Not only does he rob the bank bare headed, face recognizable, but neglects the police officer in uniform seated right next to the teller he‘s trying to rob.  The officer gets up and the suspect is still oblivious, not until he takes his arm does the robber realizes the gig is up and he tries to flee and he doesn‘t get very far.  Now this brazen blind bandit will have plenty of time to ponder the error of his ways in the big house. 

Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, where a 9-year-old kid was robbed in a Wal-mart parking lot.  That‘s Milan Brundal (ph) walking away having just dropped a bag with 150 bucks in it.  And that guy just picked it up and put it in his pocket.  As the distraught Milan went back to look for his savings, the thief drives away.  Milan earned the cash, got the rest as a birthday gift and was going to use it to buy presents for his siblings.  Police put a likeness of the suspect and are asking for your help to catch him. 

Jocularity, jocularity, jocularity.  The best of it, “Oddball‘s” plays of the summer still waiting for you. 

And he criticizes the Democrats, makes threats, is cranky and has a bad dye job on his beard.  Brent Bowzelle (ph)?  No, there‘s another Osama bin Laden tape.  Wasn‘t the president going to catch him dead or alive six years ago? 

Now your top three “Countdown” newsmakers on this day.  Number three, 76-year-old Doris Anderson got lost in the Oregon wilderness after having become separated from her husband on a hunting trip.  She was wearing light clothes, no food or supplies.  The temperature at night dipped into the 30s.  Mrs. Anderson survived two weeks, long after the official rescue effort had been called off.  She‘s now out and recuperating in the hospital. 

Number two, 23-year-old Kyla Everett also not enough clothes.  She was nearly thrown off a flight for wearing a skimpy outfit.  She claims her attire was decent.  She even went on the “Today” show this morning wearing the ensemble to prove it.  And when she sat down her skirt hiked up over her undies. 

And number one, three unidentified burglars in Uruguay ran into a local sporting goods store, locked a clerk up and forced the other to hand over merchandise.  Then a group of customers entered the store.  Instead of fleeing and giving things away, the robbers stayed and served the customers for 30 minutes before finally making their getaway.  Police warn that they should be considered armed and very customer conscious. 


OLBERMANN:  Amazing that it has now been nearly six years since President Bush vowed to capture Osama bin Laden dead or alive.  We obviously know that the capture portion of that promise never transpired.  In our third story on the COUNTDOWN, if the first videotape from bin Laden in nearly three years is authentic, we can put to rest rumors that he died. 

U.S. officials informed NBC News that the government obtained the nearly 30 minute tape and a transcript of it from an Internet site.  It is still being analyzed, but U.S. officials tell NBC News that, quote, we presume the tape is authentic, though clearly the color of the beard is not.  That‘s got to be just For—that‘s got to be Grecian Formula. 

Coincidentally or not, Islamist websites that would normally carry the video crashed soon after the government‘s possession of the tape became public knowledge.  In the tape, bin Laden makes no specific overt threat, though he predict that his al Qaeda brothers will, quote, escalate the killing and fighting against you, referring to Iraq, and also makes references to Muslim blood will not be spilled in vain, and that the morrow is near, said to be inspirational messages to his followers. 

The rambling message focuses on Iraq and includes bafflement that the Democrats in the U.S. Congress have not been able to stop the war there.  Bin Laden also provides a short reading list, suggesting two books by American authors, including Naom Chomsky, one on American imperialism.  Officials believe the message was likely recorded as recently as last month.  That bin Laden has submitted to some sort of dye job seems apparent.  His last videotaped message from October 2004, the beard noticeably grayer and longer. 

As for hunting down more than just a bin Laden videotape, a recent in-depth expose in “Newsweek” revealed just how badly the Iraq war has swallowed up resources that might have been used towards that effort and how in 2005, when the CIA told President Bush how many case officers were posted to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the president asked, quote, is that all there are? 

Let‘s turn now to the investigative journalist and author of “Why America Slept: The failure to Prevent 9/11,” Gerald Posner.  Great thanks for some of your time tonight, sir. 


OLBERMANN:  More details in this.  Bin Laden mentions the election of the new French president, which happened in May, the accession of the new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who was installed in June.  So we know it‘s recent.  We also know the last audio taped message was about a year ago, that he normally releases a message around the 9/11 anniversary.  Is there anything extraordinary about this tape other than the touch of vanity with the dyed beard. 

POSNER:  Well, you know, the extraordinary thing, really, is what you said at the beginning of this segment, and that is that he‘s still around.  That‘s what he‘s really saying to everybody.  Six years have gone by, captured alive or dead.  Guess what?  I‘m alive.  So you have a year and a half still to do it, Bush, and you‘re not doing it.  And the vanity part really is interesting, because in the Arab world—if you see like the 80-year-old Saudi kings when they meet Bush, they all have jet black mustaches and goatee and beards.  It‘s just considered in the Arab world a sign of strength and virility.

The surprise was when we saw bin Laden literally four years ago that he looked so ill with the gray beard.  Now he‘s come back and what he‘s really saying to his followers is he has that strength he didn‘t have before.  It‘s a strong message to them, even though it‘s a rambling one when you actually read it. 

OLBERMANN:  Why is it rambling?  Why does it not contain the jihadist over-the-top language we‘ve heard before in the previous messages? 

POSNER:  I don‘t think, Keith, he has to give the jihadist message anymore.  He doesn‘t have to say go out and kill Americans, because they are coming out to kill Americans in every way.  Iraq is this perfect thing for him.  It‘s this big black hole that has sucked the United States into it, in which young Americans are dying every day in increasing numbers, in which the surge is a failure, although nobody is willing to admit it, including Petraeus. 

And what he‘s saying here is that I‘m the leadership.  I‘m the symbolic head, and while they can‘t do anything about me, simply by seeing him, he gives them some extra urge to go out and strike at us. 

OLBERMANN:  To that point, there is an interpretation of this from our Beirut bureau head chief, Richard Angel, who said that in general he thought this was a message of inspiration and specifically trying to further al Qaeda‘s transformation from a strictly militant group to one that inspires other small radical groups to take action themselves. 

Is this not exactly what was most feared after 9/11, not that there was a world-wide al Qaeda member under every bed kind of conspiracy, but that this thing would evolve into an inspirational thing that could start groups of three or four people around the world to do terrible things? 

POSNER:  No question.  I think Angel is absolutely right, and it has, in fact, sponsored small groups to go ahead and do their own thing.  The group that hit 7/7 in London was a self-contained tiny group.  It‘s one of the reasons they pulled it off.  It almost happened recently in Germany, in a group of what appeared to be seven people. 

The IRA started out as a terror organization, then developed a political arm, and was very effective at doing that.  So this is an attempt for a broader reach.  And bin Laden will continue to try to do this.  And I think that‘s the fear.  We have fed it in places like Iraq, because we look like the aggressor, no longer the liberator, and that helps fuel it as well. 

OLBERMANN:  Why did he address so much of his message directly to the American people.  Even those who agree that we should be out of Iraq for all kinds of reasons are not likely to find persuasion in the words of a mass murderer. 

POSNER:  Well, I think that‘s an example of how bin Laden is cut off from reality.  He‘s sitting up there somewhere in the hills between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and he thinks that this message will somehow resonate with the anti-war element in the American public, which is large, but it‘s not going to.  It is a bit of touching on everything.  He even touches on global warming, talks about the power of corporations, even though his family has the fifth largest corporation in all of Saudi Arabia. 

So he sounds like an anti-globalization person, but it‘s not a message that‘s going to resonate with Americans at all, whether on the far right or on the far left. 

OLBERMANN:  Gerald, as we listen to the president‘s reaction to this, that this is a reason to maintain vigorous action in Iraq, as if these two things really had anything to do with each other anymore, is it at this point mind-boggling to consider what might have been done in the search for this man, bin Laden, had that search retained its privacy? 

POSNER:  Yes, there‘s no question we probably would have caught him.  WE could have caught him at Tora Bora right as the Afghanistan battle was raging.  But we now know, as “Newsweek” pointed out last week, and has said before, that the 800 people needed to close off that border, it really didn‘t happen, because we refused the troops.  In addition, time and time again, the bureaucracy of this has killed the hunt for bin Laden and Iraq has taken all the resources away. 

It‘s remarkable to me that Bush could say today that this is evidence why we need to be in Iraq and it‘s evidence why it‘s a dangerous world.  He should hang his head in shame for the fact that he‘s been unable to get bin Laden. 

OLBERMANN:  He won‘t.  Gerald Posner, the author of “Why America Slept,” as always, an education to have you with us, sir.  Great thanks. 

POSNER:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  Talk about phoning it in.  So Steve Jobs and Apple are rewarding people who didn‘t buy their new gizmo in its first two months and punishing those who did buy it. 

And Hugh Hefner says he‘s ready to settle down with Holly.  What happens to the “Girls Next Door” series?  What happens to Bridget?  What happens to Kendra?  What happens to Kendra?  Next on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Personal message to Steve Jobs of Apple Computer beginning our number two story tonight.  Steve, thanks for the i-pology, but where the hell is my i-100 dollars?  Mine and everyone else who smacked down 600 for your iphone just weeks before you cut the price by 200 clams.  Now you‘re offering a 100 dollar credit to make up for what one critic called a 200 dollar cool tax on your customers, some of whom actually camped out on the street to hand you their cash. 

To quote George C. Scott in “The Hustler,” you owe me money!  Here is correspondent Jennifer London with an earful for Mr. Jobs. 


JENNIFER LONDON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  No one was expecting this—

STEVE JOBS, APPLE CEO:  The eight gigabyte model is not going to sell for 599 anymore.  We are going to price the eight gigabyte model of the iphone at just 399 dollars. 

LONDON:  But the response to Apple‘s surprise announcement, no surprise at all. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think it sucks. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I was surprised and kind of upset. 

LONDON:  And now this, a long letter from Apple‘s CEO Steve Jobs to all i-phone customers.  We apologize, he wrote, for disappointing some of you, and we are doing our best to live up to your high expectations of Apple.  Jobs also announced that Apple will offer a 100 dollar store credit. 

ERIC HIRSHBERG, I-PHONE EXPERT:  I think that they upset all of those early adopters who paid the premium, and that‘s a bigger deal to Apple than it is to most companies. 

LONDON:  The 200 dollar price cut comes just ten weeks after the i-Phone made its summer debut.  Apple lovers lined up for days to be among the first to buy the all in one, must-have gadget that came with a price tag to match.  And at the time, Apple enthusiasts were not shy about shelling out big bucks. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think it‘s worth every penny. 

LONDON (on camera):  Still, few were expecting a price cut, a significant price cut, to come so soon after the i-Phone hit the market, including our own Matt Lauer. 

MATT LAUER, “THE TODAY SHOW”:  By the way, the i-Phone that I bought just a couple months ago for 599 dollars, they slashed the price to 399 dollars. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They are really punishing our customers with this. 

LONDON:  Jobs also says Apple will refund the difference to customers who bought an i-Phone within 14 days of the price cut.  Apple‘s attempt to sweet talk customers after news that left a very sour taste. 

Jennifer London, NBC News, Los Angeles. 


OLBERMANN:  It would be nice if it worked well, too.  Time for our nightly roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, Keeping Tabs.  And 81-year-old Hugh Hefner says he‘s ready to settle down, kind of.  He tells “Details Magazine” that five years ago Holly Madison was simply one of seven girlfriends, but that has changed.  Now Holly is the woman he loves most out of his seven girlfriends. 

Apparently what distinguishes Holly from all of Hefner‘s other girlfriends is her enormous, maybe her luxurious—no, it turns out she‘s really nice.  Hefner says he still has sex several times a week, depending on who is within striking distance.  Hefner goes on to say the relationship with holly is the one that will last the rest of his life. 

Well, it is the thought that counts. 

Brad Pitt is talking about his relationship with ex-wife Jennifer Aniston.  Pitt tells “V Magazine” that he did everything he could to ease the pain of their breakup, with the single exception of not having sex with Angelina Jolie.  The actor says he and Aniston are not only still in touch, but continue to maintain, quote, a deep friendship.  The big consideration in deciding whether to break up with Aniston he says was, quote, you don‘t know how many days you have and you need life to be everything you need it to be, which for Pitt, like many men of his generation, apparently involved having sex with Angelina Jolie.  You feel for the guy, facing a tough choice like that. 

Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, emphasize crazy.  They‘re coming to an end, but not before we bring you Oddball‘s best plays of the summer.  That‘s next.  First time for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for Worst Person in the World.

The bronze to those fans who quarterback Matt Hasselbach and full back Max Strong of the NFL Seattle Seahawks, who flooded them, the team and fan websites, with complaints, insult, and worse.  This after Hasselbeck and Strong went to a local Republican Congressman‘s fund-raising dinner and presented President Bush with a Seahawks uniform.  I now hate you.  I‘ll never like the Seahawks again, said one fan.  To learn that two of the most popular Seahawks are strong Bush supporters ruins the season for me and my family, posted another. 

Fans, if you‘re going to start hating or liking athletes based purely on their political views, whatever they are, you‘re going to wind up hating half of your own favorites, at least half.  You want them to trade away the conservatives?  Trade away the liberals?  You prefer to see your team win six and lose ten?  Come on. 

The silver to baseball‘s Rick Ankiel, the real-life version of the Robert Redford character Roy Hobbs from the movie “The Natural.”  A star rookie pitcher who suddenly couldn‘t throw strikes.  He went to the minor leagues and came back seven years later, last month, as a power hitting outfielder, who had already slugged nine home runs in his first 81 at-bats. 

The “New York Daily News” reporting today that during the investigation of health clinics that illegally prescribed human growth hormone to athletes and others, evidence turned up showing that in 2004 Rick Ankiel received a year‘s supply of the junk.  He hasn‘t been charged with anything, but say it‘s a trick, Rick.  Say it‘s a trick. 

But our winner, who else?  The collar is getting noticeably tight.  Bill-O last night accusing newspapers of lying about his ratings.  “I mean, day in and day out, we crush CNN, CNBC and MSNBC, crush them.  At 8:00 on Tuesday night, the first night back, we tripled, more than tripled MSNBC in the time slot.  Yet if you read the newspapers that‘s a successful operation over there when it is not.  It‘s a failure!”

Here we go again.  Give me a moment.  Let me explain this to Bill. 

Apparently he‘s new to television.  There are two ratings for each show.  There‘s total audience and then there‘s the demo.  Your audience of people aged 25 to 51.  They‘re the ones the advertisers are trying to reach with those commercials.  That demo number is the one advertisers use to decide whether or not to buy a commercial.  People get hired and fired based on the demo. 

The difference is like the difference between the number of people who read a newspaper and the number of people who buy it.  The buyers count.  And that night Bill mentioned he had 440,000 buyers and we had 367,000 buyers.  Last night, while Billy was whining about this, he was down to 396,000 buyers and we were up to 377,000 buyers.  And we had more than he did for the first half hour. 

And, Bill, why do you keep giving me an excuse to talk about these ratings?  Anyway, thank you, Bill O‘Reilly Today‘s Worst Person with lower ratings in the World!


OLBERMANN:  Eighty years ago today in a laboratory in San Francisco the improbably named Filo T. Farnsworth (ph) successfully transmitted the first fully electronic television signal.  It was a simple straight line, giving birth, of course, to the simple straight line channel, which you can find up there on channel 922.  Professor Farnsworth later observed, television is a gift of god and god will hold those who utilize his divine instrument accountable to him. 

In our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, as we honor his invention with Oddball‘s plays of the summer, including the infamous hoof hearted clip.  All I can say of Professor Farnsworth‘s remark is, boy, I hope not.  Let‘s play Oddball.


OLBERMANN (voice-over):  We begin in Tiblisi, Georgia.

We begin in Sydney, Australia. 

We begin in Hamburg, in Germany. 

We begin in Liverpool, in England, where this building appears to have suffered some serious structural damage.  Either that or I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue. 

And we begin on the Internets, with shocking home video of a daring jailbreak by a pair of pandas. 

We begin in Bobanesuar (ph), India, where this man hates these coconuts. 

We begin in Albany, New York, with a big watermelon in the park. 

Boring.  Wow, much better. 

We begin near Eau Claire (ph), Wisconsin, where they have a dog that craps money. 

We begin in Webster, Massachusetts, where Hollywood‘s out-of-control pantiless starlets are having a terrible impact on the elderly. 

We begin in Switzerland, where we get a look at Al‘s Porn Convention.  Sorry, I read that wrong.  It‘s the Alp Horn Convention.  An American wound up placing second in the competition.  We will now play for you the prize winning toot. 


OLBERMANN:  Nobody saw that coming. 

We begin in Stubenville, Ohio; COUNTDOWN‘s scariest bear chases caught on tape.  Bad bears, bad bears, what you going to do.

We begin in Aberdeen, Scotland, where the hardships of living in the cold north taking its toll on the local wildlife.  They are turning to crime to survive. 

This was the scene on interstate 10, a dog leading cops on a slow-speed chase.  No white bronco, instead it was a black chow-chow. 

Annapolis, Maryland, somebody has been poking around Uncle Bob‘s Fudge kitchen. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The officers just happened to notice that she had some large pieces of chocolate fudge in her pocket.  Her shirt was all stained with fresh fudge. 

OLBERMANN:  Nice police work, boys. 

We begin in Chattanooga for another exciting episode of meet a baseball manager who is unlikely to get a job in the big leagues.  But this may be the first time we‘ve seen a manager so angry that he regresses into some kind of inherited Vietnam flashback at the pitcher‘s mound. 

We begin in France, who needs a yellow jersey when you‘ve got a yellow thong? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And they can‘t see the tail of the convoy because they‘re now 5:15 -- that man looks like Borat, I think, isn‘t it? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think it must be.  It‘s got to be. 

OLBERMANN:  Great success. 

Bubbles, yay, bubbles. 

From way downtown, bang. 

This is chain saw night in America. 

We‘ve secretly placed this huge parrot on the shoulder of the deputy defense secretary, Gordon England.  Oh, boy is he going to be steamed when he sees this. 

In Cape Canaveral, where to this day you can still go visit the towers

from which hundreds of missions were launched over the many years of space

never mind. 

Tubic Bay (ph) in the republic of the Philippines, where giant space robot from the future beat the crap out of Earth‘s mightiest machines. 

To New Cordova (ph), Alaska, where global warming is not just an extreme threat to the future of human civilization.  It‘s also an extreme sport. 

Speaking of golf, we begin in Stroudsburg, PA, and the lush greens and friendly fairways of the Cherry Valley Golf Club.  You‘ll take particular note of the hole on 18, where there‘s a dog leg right and a stripper hazard on the left.  Fore!

Anyway, this is why we have this huge celebration in Indy today to unveil the world‘s largest blue suede shoe.  Almost five people showed up to the big event. 

Northern Japan, where we find a newborn pooch with a brown heart-shaped patch of fur on its side.  It‘s heart puppy. 

Finally, we jump in the Oddball way back machine and pay homage to the gods of the Internet for salvaging this footage from a 1989 horse race.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you hoof hearted. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hoof hearted on the extreme outside.  Colorado Cove, a Toast a Dozen on the inside.  Hoof Hearted—Hoof Hearted on the outside is close.  Hoof Hearted in the winner‘s circle. 


OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN for the 1,591st day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  From New York, I‘m Keith Olbermann.  See you Sunday, I hope, on NBC‘s “Football Night in America” for all the highlights and the worst person in the NFL, 7:00 Eastern, 4:00 Pacific.  Until then, good night and good luck.



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