Guests: John Dean
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? The 9/11 candidate, the Republican co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission endorses who he thinks can best carry the banner of domestic security as a Republican presidential nominee—John McCain. Chairman Tom Kean endorses Senator McCain. Oops. Times like these a fellow needs a close friend like Roger Ailes. But as Mr. Giuliani finally addresses Regan and Kerik and Giuliani and FOX on day seven, not that close a friend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Roger is a close friend of mine. He‘s been a close friend of mine for a very long time.
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OLBERMANN: Nevertheless -
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GIULIANI: Oh, gosh, all you have to do is look at it and figure out I don‘t receive any different treatment there than anyplace else..
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OLBERMANN: Seriously, those lap dance interviews with Sean Hannity.
You get them everywhere. Seriously.
Robert Novak tries to pit Clinton versus Obama. She has scandalous information about him. And Obama buys into it, seriously.
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SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Clinton campaign didn‘t come out and deny it initially. I mean, it would have been great if they had that indicated it wasn‘t.
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OLBERMANN: Let‘s jut but sit back and not investigate the Krongard
brothers. Brother Howard, the ethics watchdog at the State Department in
charge of investigating Blackwater. Brother Buzzy who got Blackwater its
CIA deal and wound up on the Blackwater board. No need for an
investigation since the as the lawyer for brother Howard says it would just
be pitting two brothers against each other. Another edition of John Dean‘s
Broken music industry. The American idolization of the American Music Awards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE HOST: And the American Music Award goes to—
OLBERMANN: Now, American Idol princess, Maria joins us and will explain what the heck this is. All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Monday, November 19th, 351 days until the 2008 presidential election. St. Rudy of 9/11 may have just had his ascendance handed to him. Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN:
It was the 9/11 Commission, Rudy Giuliani was even sarcastically identified by the usually boot looking “New York Post” as Mr. 9/11. Yet, today the Republican co-chair of this nation‘s official investigation into the nightmares of the 2001 terror attacks endorsed for his party‘s presidential nomination not Rudy Giuliani but John McCain. And because, he says, McCain has helped keep us safe, not Giuliani. The only thing more astounding to many New Yorkers in the insinuation that Mr. Giuliani is considered “America‘s Mayor,” let alone the Republican front-runner for president is the idea that the opera loving kid from Brooklyn could be seen as a sincere stock car racing fan. Mr. Giuliani blatantly courting the NASCAR dad vote yesterday by making a pit stop at the seasonal finale at homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida. Might as well, given how the entire basis of his candidacy that it happened to be mayor of New York City on 9/11 could end up being his undoing. The former governor of the adjoining state, 9/11 Commission co-chair, Tom Kean cold cocking Giuliani this afternoon.
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TOM KEAN, 9/11 COMMISSION CO-CHAIR: The step we‘ve been less vulnerable to attacks that we suffered on 9/11, is by large contributed to extraordinary (INAUDIBLE), John McCain.
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OLBERMANN: Governor Kean twice refusing to say whether he felt Mr. Giuliani was justified in saying his 9/11 experience made him the most qualified contender, damning him with faint praise at best.
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KEAN: I wouldn‘t criticize Mayor Giuliani. What I‘m here to do is to support John McCain. The Republican Party this year is fortunate in having a number of good candidates. I just happen to feel that the world we‘re living with the dangers abroad, all around being considered, that we need the very best. And the very best I believe is John McCain.
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OLBERMANN: The very best response Mr. Giuliani‘s campaign could come up with—that Mr. Giuliani had already been endorsed by Governor Kean‘s son, New Jersey state senator, Tom Kean, Jr. who ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the U.S. Senate last year - an endorsement with slightly less weight. Mr. Giuliani also dealt a blow today by the families of small numbers of firefighters killed on 9/11. Holding a town hall meeting in New Hampshire to discuss why the former mayor is not their choice for president. The group saying in a statement, quote, “9/11 firefighters and families are deeply offended at how Rudolph Giuliani has exploited the terrorist attack to weave a false myth that he is the only person with the credentials and experience to lead the nation as our next president.” And Giuliani n the wake of the Judith Regan lawsuit accusing News Corporation of trying to get her to lie to authorities to protect him no longer dismissing as gossip the claim that he is the FOX News candidate in the race for president, rather, he thinks it‘s funny and he kind of laugh in fact that he gave earlier this month when asked to be if he would ever release a list of clients involved with his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mayor, other Republican presidential candidates are saying that you receive preferential treatment from FOX News. What is your relationship with Roger Ailes? How often do you guys talk?
GIULIANI: Roger is a close of mine. He‘s been a close friend of mine for a very long time. I don‘t receive any—gosh, all you have to do is look at it and figure out that I don‘t receive any different treatment there than anyplace else. The reality is that you have a lot of friendships. And to suggest that you get preferential treatment because of them is just not right. I mean, Roger is a good friend of mine. I have great respect for him. We‘ve known each other for many, many years. And the reality is I get treated just like everyone else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And now to call in our own Dana Milbank, national political reporter for the “Washington Post.” Dana, good evening. We‘ll get to the 9/11 Commission endorsement if you will in a moment but first that last point. Seriously? It‘s just Mr. Giuliani - think anybody believes that besides him? Does he even believe that? Does he want people to back and check the record of those interviews that really sound like you know, the sound of one hand clapping?
DANA MILBANK, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think his benefit here is what are people going to do about it? OK, if he wins the primary, everybody would call it the Giuliani news network. So it loses credibility. But then what can somebody do? File an FEC complaint? They‘ll resolve that some time in 2010. So you know, as a legal matter, as a financial matter, he‘s got a free ride here. So, he‘s happy to take advantage of it.
OLBERMANN: Anything the other Republicans might be willing to do something about before it gets to that point?
MSNBC: You can file your complaint now, and they‘ll make a judgment on it two years into the Mike Huckabee administration.
OLBERMANN: You know what I mean. I mean, any Republican willing to perhaps bring in the umbrage of Rupert Murdoch by saying, you guys have tilted towards Giuliani?
MILBANK: I think that you don‘t want to bite the hand that feeds you right now. And if they‘ve tilted towards him, they‘ve not been particularly harmful let‘s say to the other Republican candidates.
OLBERMANN: Alright, Tom Kean, Sr., Tom Kean, Jr. endorsed him. He‘s got the backlash of the 9/11 first responders, the Firefighters Union have done this. The Kean, Sr. comment like to the extent that we‘ve been less vulnerable is due in large part not to the extraordinary leadership of Giuliani but to that of McCain. Even the “New York Post” just noticed he‘s been selling 9/11. Did he take a hit on what has been his only issue?
MILBANK: He‘s taken a huge hit. You know, we used to see Giuliani as unassailable. Now his lead seems to have the staying power of Bernie Kerik‘s ground zero love nest. I don‘t think any one of these things by itself is certainly going to entirely upset the Giuliani campaign, but it does reach a point of critical mass, you know, particularly the endorsement from Kean.
OLBERMANN: Those survey numbers, it‘s Gallup. And he‘s still in front. But he had a 16 point lead and earlier this month. It is now down to nine. Does this suggest that mailing it in, basically, in Iowa, was a mistake. And if so, is it an unfixable mistake? Or can he still do something about it now at this late hour?
MILBANK: No, there‘s nothing he can do about it at this hour. And we can debate whether it was a mistake or not, but he probably didn‘t have a whole lot of choice given the facts on the facts on the ground there. The best Giuliani can hope for now is that no one candidate emerges. And there is some possibility of that. We see Romney slipping in these same polls. Huckabee is climbing up but he looks a little nutty. He just cut his first ad and it has Chuck Norris in it. Huckabee is saying that there is no chin underneath Chuck Norris‘ beard, it‘s only another fist. Is that what the next president of the United States should be saying?
OLBERMANN: So, alright, let me just give it the quick update. Chuck Norris is for Huckabee. Pat Robertson is for Giuliani and the co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission is for McCain. That‘s our celebrity update so far.
MILBANK: That‘s our celebrity update and they all count for just about nothing.
OLBERMANN: Dana Milbank of MSNBC and the “Washington Post.” As always Dana, great thanks.
MILBANK: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: From the Democratic side, the war in Iraq shaping up to be the defining issue of that race, of course. The inability of the four Democratic senators in the race to deliver on the anti-war mandate that returned them and their colleagues to power last year spelling huge problems for the perceived national front runner, Senator Clinton. But the junior senator from New York was answering questions at a climate change in Los Angeles. She was interrupted by an activist from the anti-war group “Code Pink,” who shouted—how can you say you‘re for the environment when you‘re always voting for war? The protester ejected from the theater, the Senator Clinton blamed Democrats ineffectiveness on the rules of the Senate.
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SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Anyway, as I was saying we need to elect more Democrats because our obstacles to getting anything through the Congress, is the filibuster rule in the Senate. That means we‘ve got to get 60 votes in the Senate, which means unless we have 60 Democrats, we actually have to get some Republicans to vote with us. It‘s one of the unfortunate obstacles that we face because of the rules of the Senate.
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OLBERMANN: Unintentional and unfortunate narration right there. Let‘s turn to our political analyst, Lawrence O‘Donnell, also contributor of course to the blog at Huffingtonpost.com. Good evening, sir.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Good to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let me do that last part first. The excuse given by Senator Clinton that it is not a 60-40 split, so the votes are not there but the Republicans did all that rubber stamping in the previous Senate even though they didn‘t have a 60/40 split. How do you explain this disconnect (ph) ?
O‘DONNELL: Well, they also have the president, Keith says, you know, this bill if you had gotten it through the Senate would have gone to a presidential veto. Anyway, listen as a creature of the Senate myself having worked there for seven years; we are enslaved to that arithmetic of the Senate of the 60-vote system. And I understand exactly what Senator Clinton‘s talking about when she says it. It sounds pretty cold to the audience. It sounds like, oh, come on, there must be a way around that, but there really isn‘t. They‘re making really progress. They picked up four Republicans in that vote, Keith. So, Hillary may be wrong, you may not have to elect 60 Democrats. You may pick off a few more Democrats over the course of the year. You look at a guy like Norm Coleman for example who is under a real threat by the Al Franken candidacy in Minnesota. How long can he vote with the Republicans on this coming from a state like Minnesota? I think you‘re going to see the Democrats pick up a few more Republicans on these kinds of votes, whether they‘ll ever get to 60 on this before the end of the Bush presidency, I don‘t know. I rather doubt it. But the pressure really in many ways is politically on Republicans and states like Minnesota who are running free elections having to cast these votes so far in favor of a very unpopular president.
OLBERMANN: But does not the ebb and flow of this get to seem eternal after a short period of time? Harry Reid said last week said the president damn sure is not entitled now to having this money given with a blank check, but now Mr. Levin at Armed Services, Mr. Inouye at Defense Appropriations they say they‘re going to represent the Bridge Fund Bill only with fewer restrictions? Did they the newspaper print hide tide or low tide on the in Iraq or just the rivers and coasts?
O‘DONNELL: Those senators at moody place, Keith and you will here majority leaders bent everyone once in a while and you‘ll see them apparently seeming to reverse course you know in the next week. George Mitchell when I was there, majority leader, he used to call it herding calves, trying to run the U.S. Senate. Harry Reid it‘s going to have these kinds of frustrations until he gets a Democratic president. It‘s not really a matter of getting the 60 Democrats in the Senate. That won‘t happen. They need the Democratic president. In the meantime, there is this huge push from the left. And because of that 2006 election as you point out, where they felt it was a vindication and an authorization for the Democrats to go forward politically, but really, you know, they already have—the Democrats have a majority vote in the Senate right now. They got 53 votes for this last time. And so that‘s more votes than they have Democrats in the Senate. So they‘re not there. How they‘re going to get there to 60, to get this thing done in a way that would please the left side of the Democratic Party? I do not know.
OLBERMANN: Well, something else that comes from that side—is there any validity—and this is without pointing at Mr. Reid, Ms. Pelosi or anybody else, but is there some validity to the slightly paranoid suspicion that some Democrat somewhere is holding back on what he or she may be able to do about Iraq in particular because somebody desperately wants to run on it locally and nationally 12 months from now?
O‘DONNELL: Well, the only thing, Keith, is the possibility of doing an all-out real filibuster fight which is to say, all they‘re doing now is taking a vote in which the Republicans in effect threaten a filibuster if you try to go around this vote. A filibuster is a pretty ugly thing. And I think the Democrats are afraid of running a real filibuster fight in the Senate because it will look like the whole government has ground to a halt, and it‘s just showmanship. So, they fear-looking ineffectual in one way and they fear-looking like showboats in another way. And they‘re not getting where the left side of that party wants to go and they‘re just hoping that they will have forgiveness on the left side of their party on Election Day in 2008.
OLBERMANN: Any chance that they won‘t? And what happens to the left side of the party if it doesn‘t support the Democratic candidate in 2008?
O‘DONNELL: The Democratic calculation in the Senate is always the left has nowhere to go but the Democratic party. I‘ve never been in a meeting in the Senate where there was any other presumption.
OLBERMANN: Lawrence O‘Donnell of the MSNBC and the Huffington Post, many thanks as always, sir.
O‘DONNELL: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The non-substantial part of the race tonight, Senators Clinton and Obama fighting over something Robert Novak said. Why is anybody listening to Robert Novak? And the height of audacity, Cookie Krongard was investigating Blackwater. His brother Buzzy Krongard was working for Blackwater. There‘s no call for a congressional investigation, it‘s just two brothers arguing. How the cookie defense crumbles. You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Barack Obama gets into a fight with Hillary Clinton over something written by robber Novak. And in the fight is gauged by the pollsters in Iowa, he gets ahead of her. Michael Vick turns himself in. And in “Worsts,” resigning from the Bush administration and really needing that letter of reference versus defending Bill O.‘s biblical bobble - getting the date of the life of Jesus Christ wrong by just 3,000 years. All ahead here, on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: At pause for Senator Hillary Clinton last week when she
told the debate that she expected attacks from fellow Democrats so long as
they did not come right out of their Republican playbook. On our fourth
story tonight: An attack on Senator Clinton that admittedly came out of a
Republican playbook and seems to have used her chief rival as a somewhat
passive enabler. And also tonight, a new poll is suggesting Clinton could
easily be passed by in Iowa Senator Obama. The sludge first, the infamous
drudge report not known for not posting made up stuff hinting last night or
last week rather that Hillary Clinton‘s campaign had damaging information
about Senator Obama, that someone in her organization had passed that word
to Conservative conduit, Robert Novak, the man whom the Republicans used to
destroy the CIA career of Valerie Plame. Right on queue, Novak‘s Friday
column picked up with this -
“Agents of Senator Hillary Clinton are spreading the word in Democratic circles that she has scandalous information about her principal opponent for the party‘s presidential nomination, Senator Barack Obama, but has decided not to use it. The nature of the alleged scandal was not disclosed.”
That set off a weekend dustup between Obama and Clinton. The Illinois Senator accusing his colleagues of slimy, swiftboat-like politics and a shameless attempt to discourage anyone from challenging the Washington power establishment. Obama defending the Clinton people—or demanding rather that the Clinton people hang out that dirty laundry or shut up. The Clinton campaign calling the whole thing baseless. Novak actually, basically, admitting that today claiming those agents were in the cap of a neutral Democrat continuing to fox noise, quote, “This is very similar to the kind of trick that Richard Nixon used to pull where he would say I know some very bad information about the communists supporting George McGovern but I can‘t put that out because it wouldn‘t be right.” A somewhat tangled up Obama trying to make the best of it today in Iowa, saying he takes the word of the Clinton campaign that it was not involved but that it should have said so sooner.
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SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When we said in our statement originally was if, in fact, this is not something that is true, then all the Clinton administration has to do—all the Clinton operation needed to do was just say it wasn‘t true. It took three times to get that answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The only answer that ultimately matters in Iowa is a little less clear tonight. The new “Washington Post”/ABC News poll showing Senator Obama now taking the lead among likely caucus-goers, most of them telling the poll they value new ideas over experience. Perhaps more importantly in this poll, 43 percent of Iowa Democrats saying, they could still change their minds before the caucus. Let‘s read the mind of E.J. Dionne, “Washington Post” columnist, senior fellow at the Brooklyn Institution and teacher at Georgetown University. EJ, good evening.
E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Good to be with you.
OLBERMANN: Let me start with that poll. There‘s 43 percent changeability. There‘s also another number, 80 percent of respondents say they‘ve already gotten a call from a campaign. There‘s a ways to go. How many times is Iowa likely to change hands before the caucus?
DIONNE: Well, they‘re going to be called about a million times. I think what you got here is a very interesting dynamic where you have just to take Clinton and Obama; they have very high approval ratings among Democrats. Democrats kind of like both of them. But they wish that Obama had some of Clinton‘s experience and her toughness. And they wish Clinton had Obama‘s freshness and his lack of a certain kind of baggage. And so I have a sense that Democrats are going to be weighing these two things all the way until the end. And it won‘t be some—I mean, unless somebody makes a terrible stumble, I don‘t think there will be a magical moment or an issue. I think they‘re going to have these sort of favorable feelings and doubts with them all the way until caucus night.
OLBERMANN: Why don‘t these new Iowa polls match up with the New Hampshire polls and match up with the national polls?
DIONNE: Well, two reasons. One is you‘re talking about caucus-goers, which is a much smaller group. This is not as easy as just casting a ballot. You‘ve got to spend three hours in a process that political science professors don‘t fully understand. So it‘s a narrower group. Secondly, there has been a full scale campaign going on in Iowa now for a long time. I mean, lots of television, lots of mail, lots of phone calls. Obama practically has a headquarters in every hamlet in the state. So, Iowa will be different for both of those reasons. New Hampshire has all the advertising going on now, but sort of a broader potential electorate because that is a normal primary.
OLBERMANN: I understand that while you‘re in the wrestling ring, you don‘t necessarily look to see where the folding metal chair that‘s been thrown at you has come from. But in the Obama/Clinton dustup over the weekend, why is any Democrat listening to Robert Novak?
DIONNE: You mean the sainted Robert Novak. He‘s an old friend of mine. He—I think that Obama and Clinton almost reacted the way they had to. We‘re now in a completely different kind of politics where you can get stuff into circulation, a wide circulation, through the Web, through Right-wing television or radio, whether there‘s any basis for it or not, as in this case. I think Obama is under some criticism from the Clinton side. He‘s not tough enough. He won‘t know how to respond to these Republicans. And I think, he decided this is going to spread no matter what I do. So I‘m going to slash back, and I‘m going to blame the Clinton people and see what happens there. The Clinton people, in turn, shrewdly said why is he playing in Novak‘s sandbox. That‘s a sign of his inexperience. You know, the swiftboat experience suggested that there can be no holding back even on baseless charges. And so I think Obama decided he just shouldn‘t let this one go.
OLBERMANN: Yes, but does that include throwing out baseless charges? Because, there‘s also these hints out of the Obama camp that Hillary Clinton had this 20-year plan to be president from an information out of a book with the source himself supposed of the information discredited the quote. Is the word oogy (ph) applicable here? I mean, that‘s not even politics in the neo-normal (ph) is it?
DIONNE: No. At first look, there is so much junk out there about Hillary Clinton, you could probably find something on almost anything. And no, I don‘t think that‘s a great idea. I‘d be surprised if that‘s true, 10 years maybe, but not 20 years.
OLBERMANN: E.J. Dionne of the “Washington Post” with us here for 10 years. Many thanks, EJ.
DIONNE: Good to be with you.
OLBERMANN: And its the most wonderful time of the year, when it‘s raining Santas. He‘s stuck there on his beard, by the beard of Zeus. And in worst persons, comparing w to George W.? Mr. Bush‘s White House adviser on Brown-nosing has resigned. All ahead, on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: On this date in 1959, the Ford Motor Company pulled the plug on the what is still anecdotally the worst new product rolled out in the American consumer history the Edsel. The new line of battleship-sized cars to be introduced just as America was switching to speedboats. The last new car that looked like it needed a nose job. Ironically, despite the disaster so large that the name Edsel has entered the language as a synonym for nonstarters, Ford spent $400 million on the project. In its first year, the number of Edsel‘s sold was actually the second largest in new car brand history. On that note, let‘s play Oddball.”
The following countdown stories contain graphic material of a revealing nature about a jolly old fat man in a red suit from the North Pole. Small children and elves should leave the room immediately.
We begin in Texas where a mercenary in the war on Christmas is making a daring nighttime raid. This is Santa Claus doing an 80-foot drop down the side of a building. At the bottom, Santa was to flip the switch on a Christmas tree lighting, to the delight of assembled children.
Instead he scared the crap out of them there. Santa‘s beard became stuck in the lines. The oohs and ahs turned to boos and tears. The “ho, ho, ho‘s” became “Uh-oh, ohs” as Santa ditched the beard, leaving character and pleading for scissors to help cut himself free.
Eventually firemen helped St. Nick down with a ladder. But at least he wasn‘t hurt, which is more than we can say for him.
You‘ll remember that Santa from last year had cracked a few beers, then a few ribs as 18 different cameras rolled.
To Taipei in Taiwan and video evidence of a story we told you about last week, the most disgusting theme restaurant ever. Modern Toilet, just one in a chain of eateries dedicated to all things eliminatory.
Customers sit on toilet seats, drink from replica chamber pots and eat what we pray is soft-serve ice cream. You can even have the soup of the bidet in a commode-shaped bowl. Why would you do this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking in foreign language)
OLBERMANN: He had no answer, clearly. He said he‘d never eaten in a toilet at home, even at home. Never eaten in a toilet. Not even at home? Well, excuse me, Mr. Rockefeller Van Gates.
Hey, it was just a disagreement between brothers. No reason to make a federal case out of it. Just because brother Cookie was investigating Blackwater when Brother Buzzy was working for Blackwater. Another segment for John Dean on broken government.
And these people were on “American Idol.” They won some awards. And that, for my producer, is enough for an entire segment. The story is ahead, but first, COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world.
No. 2, best infestation. The Web site TV Newser reporting that a small area of the FOX Channel newsroom has been infiltrated by bed bugs. Bed bugs. Professionals were called in to remove the offending insects.
OK. Put me back on camera for a second. Yes, yes. How did they know when to stop? Yes, yes, yes.
No. 2, best dumb criminal. Steven Holmes of Rocky Point, New York, allegedly one of three masked home invaders. He‘s one of the guys holding two guys in the house at gunpoint.
His co-conspirators heard a gunshot. Next thing they knew, they were taking Mr. Holmes to the hospital. He was arrested after shooting himself in the arm. He just missed an artery, and he just missed a really trite cliche, he hit himself in the—foot.
And No. 1, best creativity on a nude calendar. Nora Hardwick, a fan of Ancaster Athletic, the soccer team in her British village of the same name, raising funds through a calendar in which the fans pose naked but tastefully hidden.
In Ms. Hardwick‘s case, quote, “It was all very tastefully done. You couldn‘t see any of the bits or anything. They draped a bit of pink cloth around my shoulders, but at my age, I just don‘t have a model body to be taking it all off.”
At her age? Nora Hardwick has been an Ancaster fan since 1933. She‘s 102.
By the way, not that anybody is wishing her ill, but if you are 102 and they put you in any calendar, wouldn‘t it make sense that they make you miss January or Miss February? She‘s Miss November.
OLBERMANN: Federal grand jury in D.C. has reportedly just opened up a criminal investigation into the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi citizens by Blackwater mercenaries in September.
On our third story on the countdown, the men in charge of overseeing contractors like Blackwater for the State Department is now asking Congress to stop investigating his own family connections to Blackwater for the sake of his family.
The honorable Howard “Cookie” Krongard, now facing a trifecta of investigation, House Oversight and Government Reform examining whether he deliberately misled them about his brother‘s Blackwater connection.
The Office of Special Counsel, according to ABC News, investigating allegations he threatened employees who wanted to cooperate or did cooperate with congressional investigators.
And the White House-run president‘s council on integrity and efficiency probing the work he‘s done as the State Department‘s inspector general. Even the White House noticed.
His older brother, A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard, resigning his position on the Blackwater advisory board, a position he told Congress that he told his brother weeks before he testified, of course, that it was not true. And then two hours later that he hadn‘t previously known.
That version still hotly contested by Cookie Krongard, who has now produced notes that he took during the Halloween conversation with Buzzy that read, in part, quote, “no financial interest whatever.” Doesn‘t know where rumors come from.
House Oversight Chair Henry Waxman announcing Friday that he will call both brothers to testify during the week of December 3 to sort out—sort out all the discrepancies. Those plans still standing today, despite a letter from Howard Krongard‘s lawyer, who incidentally used to represent Jack Abramoff‘s buddy, the now imprisoned David Safavian, requesting that Chairman Waxman drop any further hearings because, quote, there‘s no legitimate legislative purpose to be gained by publicly pitting two brothers against each other.
Two brothers, one of whom just happens to take notes of their conversations: “Buzzy asks about cousin Muffy.”
We turn now to John Dean, author of “Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches,” in the latest of his series for us of segments exploring themes of his book.
John, good evening.
JOHN DEAN, AUTHOR, “BROKEN GOVERNMENT”: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: No legitimate legislative purpose. Of the many, many, many rationalizations for leaving broken government broken, is this the silliest combination ever? Because A, it‘s just a brotherly tiff, and, B, probing for conflicts of interest and corruption serve no legitimate legislative purpose?
DEAN: It—obviously, one of the key purposes of any committee is to find out whether it‘s gotten truthful testimony or truthful information. I can‘t think of anything higher on the list of the legislative purpose than getting and protecting its own credibility by getting honest information.
Where his lawyer got this or why he let his lawyer even send this deservedly puts him in your oddball file.
OLBERMANN: Yes. To all accounts, Buzzy and Cookie, the Krongard brothers and pride of the family, are not close. “The New York Times” cited Buzzy as saying that, if Blackwater hired him as a way to influence his brother, quote, “Based on our recent relationship, the effect would be the other way around.”
So if that‘s true and if it‘s somehow relevant, does not Howard Krongard in an ethics position want these hearings to defend at least himself, if not his office?
DEAN: Well, one would think so. That‘s certainly the logical extension of the present facts we know.
But I‘m certainly curious as to what indeed Buzzy may have told Blackwater about his relationship with his brother. I‘m sure he could not have ignored that fact. Did he tell them, for example, that “We have a strained relationship,” which would cause a problem for his brother and stop him investigating Blackwater?
So I think this is another justification that might well be why Howard doesn‘t—or Cookie doesn‘t want it to come out and have a further investigation. Not only the fact that one of them is clearly not telling the truth, which is obviously going to be painful and unpleasant for the family.
OLBERMANN: There‘s also an irony in this. The Buzzy version of this conversation is that not only did he tell his brother, the ethics watchdog, that he was going to go join this advisory board for Blackwater. But his brother said, why would you do that? Are you sure that‘s a good idea?
And Howard Krongard doesn‘t want this investigation? Why not? If he actually doubted the appropriateness of his brother joining the board, that might be the most principled stand by anybody during either of Mr. Bush‘s two terms, might it not?
DEAN: Well, in theory, it could be. But is he warning his brother that he has insider information, trying to tell him not to go there, because the government is headed that way and there‘s trouble ahead?
There are all kinds of implications, indeed, again justifying further investigation on just these tidbits that have surfaced since we found the conflicting testimony. This only compounds it, Keith. It doesn‘t really give any explanation or resolve anything.
OLBERMANN: Actually, John, is Congressman Waxman here at oversight missing the forest for the trees on this one? I mean, the Buzzy and Cookie show is entertaining, obviously, at the nickname level, and then, you know, brother slap-fight way in a macabre kind of way.
But is this not really just a component? Or should it not be just really a component to a much need bigger investigation of this unchecked army of Blackwater mercenaries that we‘ve let loose in the name of this country?
DEAN: Well, I think it is a part. I think it is a component of a larger investigation. And I cannot escape the metaphor that has been running through my head that we might see Waxman running into a Cookie that is starting to crumble because it‘s run into a buzzsaw brother.
So who knows where this is all going to fall out? And I think it is part of a larger investigation. And Waxman is one who will turn away from digging this entire matter out and doing it thoroughly.
OLBERMANN: I‘m just wondering if this is the editor—if there‘s a third Krongard brother whose nickname is Corruptee.
John Dean with another look at our broken government, by the author of the book of the same name.
As always, John, great thanks.
DEAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And it‘s official. This nation‘s longest running comedy hit is finally out of celebrity guest stars. Guess who this is.
And in worsts, the explanation for why Bill O. did not know the Bible was written 2,000 years ago or 5,000 years ago. No, it isn‘t because he‘s actually a secular-progressive. Ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: One of the least liked athletes turns himself into authorities. And it isn‘t Barry Bonds.
And the good taste infantry retreats to higher ground during the People‘s Choice awards.
And comparing President Bush to President George Washington.
And the Bill O. defense.
OLBERMANN: Michael Vick surrendered to U.S. marshals today in our No. 2 story on the COUNTDOWN, “Keeping Tabs” on the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback, who will remain in jail until his sentencing for federal dog fighting conspiracy charges.
Three weeks from now a federal judge in Virginia will sentence Vick, who pleaded guilty last August to—after he admitted to helping kill six to eight pit bulls. But today, Mr. Vick voluntarily turned himself in, his decision to begin serving his time now approved by both the judge and his lawyers.
Vick‘s jail term could be as long as five years, and he still faces state felony charges for the dog fighting enterprise. Vick is being held at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia.
And amid reports that Britney Spears might be the next celebrity to be Simpsonized, redrawn in a Matt Groening image for a guest shot on “The Simpsons,” this quick preview of this Sunday‘s cameo-laden episode, “Funeral for a Fiend,” starring Kelsey Grammar as Sideshow Bob, David Hyde Pierce as his brother Cecil, John Mahoney as their father, plus—there you go—I think it‘s a very slimming look for me, actually, while retaining my general look of jaundice.
Not giving anything in my inconsequential role in the plot away. And no, we still have not figured out what to do about the fact that in the Eastern and Central time zones, the Simpsonite version will be on opposite the actual version on football night in America.
I know, I know, you can watch “The Amazing Race” instead.
Mark your calendars. November 19, start of the 2008 “American Idol” season. Here we go. As “Idol” alums sweep the AMAs. Our “American Idol” princess, Maria Milito, is back with all things “Idol.” That‘s next.
First time, for the worst persons in the world.
The Web site Newsmax, an unintentionally hilarious lunatic fringe Web site, now defending Bill O.‘s Bible mistake from last week with perhaps the most strained logic in recent history.
You will recall he had expressed wonder at the prophetic qualities of the book of Revelation, especially because of its age, because it, quote, “Was written what, 5,000 years ago?” Two thousand, more or less, the Revelations. Those were Jesus‘ revelations.
The site seriously suggests O‘Reilly was not wrong by 3,000 years, because Bill O.‘s inflection made clear that he himself was asking questions about when it was written. Wow. You know, at least when O‘Reilly was totally mistaken, he was ad-libbing. Some Newsmax idiot wrote this.
The runner-up, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, the non-stop coffee drinker who supposedly could go through his eight-hour TV talk show without a bathroom break. Please erase that image now. At the OPEC summit in Saudi Arabia, ending a TV interview there by saying, quote—this is translated—“Look, I have to go. For a while now I‘ve needed to go to the bathroom. And I‘m going to pee. Do you want me to pee on you,” unquote.
Gosh, President Chavez, maybe you should have asked that before you started doing that to your own country‘s laws and citizens.
But our winner, White House security advisor Fran Townsend. She‘s the one who wrote the White House report on the response to failures to Katrina and never once suggested the administration had made any of them.
She has resigned, and in her handwritten note to the president, she writes, “In 1937 the playwright Maxwell Anderson wrote of President George Washington, ‘There are some men who lift the age they inhabit till all men walk on a higher ground in their lifetime. You are such a man‘.”
I‘ve got three here. No. 1, not even Mr. Bush would believe that comparison. No. 2, she did mean that to be read “You are such a man.” She didn‘t mean it that way, but with the gender critical inflection. You are such a man.
Or No. 3, she meant to extend Anderson‘s quote, “There are some men who lift the age they inhabit till all men walk on a higher ground in their lifetime. Here comes President Bush; run for higher ground!”
Former White House homeland security advisor and senior brownnoser Fran Townsend, today‘s worst person in the world!
OLBERMANN: Who really knows what‘s become of the music industry now that “American Idol” alumni have racked up another round of awards? I think they got Nobels. But our “American Idol” princess, Maria Milito, will join me presently right here to insist on “Idol” authenticity, no doubt.
In our No. 1 story on the COUNTDOWN, the fourth place loser from season five of “Idol,” Chris Daughtry, won three American Music Awards last night. The season four winner, Carrie Underwood, she won three awards, as well, Underwood taking the prize for best female country artist, best country album, as well as T. Mobile text-in award for—I don‘t know—best text message with music to it.
But first, Underwood also won Grammys for her work, as has “Idol” season one winner, Kelly Clarkson. But sometimes “Idol” also-rans through just as well. And Chris Daughtry gathered up three AMAs, including best pop rock album. Pop rocks. Not exactly the Oscar won by “Idol” loser Jennifer Hudson. But still better than losing an American Music Award.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARRIE UNDERWOOD, COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER: Daughtry.
CHRIS DAUGHTRY, MUSICIAN: I want to thank my wife for—and all our wives for being enduring and patient and doing the real work at home, taking care of the kids and pushing us to be better men. Clive Davis for believing in us. Thank you so much. Simon Fuller for coming up with this little show so I can show the world what we can do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And also thanks to whoever gave him that haircut.
This little show referred to was “Idol,” which did, in fact, get smaller last year, with its first bout of sagging ratings. Through changes in the works for the coming season, like allowing contestants to show off other talents like guitar playing or limbo or, who knows, maybe even singing. And there will be a reduction of the cheesy mentors.
Meantime, last season‘s winner, Jordin Sparks releases her first album tomorrow to generally favorable reviews except for me. Joining me now, as promised, the New York host of New York‘s classic rock station, Q-104.3, our “American Idol” princess, Maria Milito, in person.
MARIA MILITO, Q-104.3: I‘m thrilled. This is cool. Big-time. So you know, Jordin Sparks, by the way, is going to be in the Thanksgiving Day parade. Did you know that?
OLBERMANN: As an inflatable...
MILITO: Stop it. I knew you would say that. No, she‘s going to be in the parade. You know, tomorrow.
OLBERMANN: Well, I moved off the west side, so I don‘t care anymore.
MILITO: Doesn‘t matter. Exactly.
OLBERMANN: Is “American Idol” gaining in legitimacy or has the record industry just collapsed?
MILITO: No, I think it has, because the American Music Awards last night. It was the first time—did you notice—that the public voted for the winners. They sent out to like 15,000 people different demographics, different locations, ages, everything. And then people—they narrowed it down to, like, the top three people. And then they did it online. So they thought this way they could have millions of people voting.
So the people that you saw, like the three contestants, the three nominees, rather—three contestants? I have “Idol” on the brain. Those are the three that the public voted the most for. So yes.
OLBERMANN: So it‘s a democracy?
MILITO: Yes, it‘s a democracy, go figure.
OLBERMANN: You can see what that results in.
Is there a cutoff point where—is there going to be a certain limit to how many “Idol” contestants can make records, go on tour, be famous before one of your New York rival radio stations goes from the oldies format to the Jack format back to the oldies format and then switches to...
MILITO: All “Idol.”
OLBERMANN: “American Idol” classics?
MILITO: All the time.
OLBERMANN: Will we hit that post at some point?
MILITO: We could. But I think we just started that, because if you think about it, the people who have the contracts and, you know, win the awards, come this past season, season six and season five. So I think we‘re still in the infancy stage.
OLBERMANN: What happened to that big guy? Is he still in the business?
MILITO: Which one?
OLBERMANN: The big guy who didn‘t win.
From years ago. Studdard.
OLBERMANN: Is he still around? Is he an old-timer now? See, that‘s my point. That‘s going to be a radio format.
MILITO: It should be.
OLBERMANN: We could have it on satellite radio.
MILITO: Well, that‘s—exactly. I could host it 24/7.
OLBERMANN: Is the best thing or worst thing for “American Idol” a continuation of the writers strike and we get seven nights a week with four-hour-long “Idol” shows?
MILITO: Well, if we get seven nights a week, then I want be on and do five minutes a week. What do you think? Is that good? Is that a deal?
OLBERMANN: You‘ll be by yourself several of those nights. I go home at 8:52, and you can do the last eight minutes by yourself.
MILITO: About “Idol.”
OLBERMANN: Thank you.
MILITO: Actually, I think if the writers‘ strike continues, first of all we‘re going to have all repeats on the air. And you‘re going to have is a saturation of reality TV and it‘s going to be bad TV, which is going to make “American Idol” look even better than it currently is. It‘s already on three nights a week. So I would put it on five nights a week or put it in repeats on the weekend. Come on, it‘s FOX. Hello. Of course, they‘re going to do that.
OLBERMANN: As we‘ve seen, they‘ve already gotten down to me as a guest star in “The Simpsons.” So you can‘t—I mean, how much worse can it get? This year, as we look ahead to the big season...
OLBERMANN: I don‘t even know when it starts.
MILITO: January 15.
OLBERMANN: Now I know when it starts. Are they going to—they‘re going to let them play instruments?
MILITO: Yes. Now they can show their talent. And if you think about it, the people who have done well...
OLBERMANN: What if they can‘t play the instruments?
MILITO: Well, then they‘re not going to play instruments. But mainly they‘re going to show if they have talent. So that‘s good.
MILITO: They raised the bar on “American Idol.” Think about it.
OLBERMANN: All right. But could you not wind up—couldn‘t you have, like, your talent could be hitting somebody over the head with a guitar, like in...?
MILITO: That could be. Like “The Gong Show”?
OLBERMANN: “Gong Show” or specifically from—from “Animal House.”
MILITO: Oh, Stephen Bishop, right, the guitar. John Belushi did that.
OLBERMANN: Why not?
MILITO: Classic scene. That could happen. But I think people could play the guitar if they‘re talented enough to do it.
OLBERMANN: I‘d rather see the other part.
MILITO: Yes, me, too.
OLBERMANN: “American Idol” princess Maria Milito, here in person, New York‘s classic rock station, Q104.3.
MILITO: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: We will be seeing you an awful lot starting January 15.
MILITO: Thank you. Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: My ears hurt already.
COUNTDOWN for this, the 1,664th since the declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. From New York, I‘m Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.
Missed entirely. Our coverage continues now with MSNBC LIVE with Dan Abrams.
Dan, good evening.
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