Guests: Craig Crawford, John Dean
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
He has actually done it: Rudolph Giuliani has actually made a commercial, actually showing images from -- 9/11.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OVER: When the world wavered and history hesitated, he never did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: He never hesitated to cross all lines of decency. The
Democrats meanwhile make fun of themselves. Michelle Obama who apparently
made the mistake of calling that place, Nevada -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA‘S WIFE: It is so nice to be back in Nevada. We are so happy to be here. Nevada, Nevada.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And Hillary Clinton flight attendant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the event of an unexpected drop in poll numbers this plane will be diverted to New Hampshire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And Barack Obama. Wait, this isn‘t making fun of himself - a revised answer to the debate question, what‘s your greatest weakness?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Say, if I had gone last, I would have said my biggest weakness, I like to help old ladies across the street.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Dems on the eve of Nevada and how per-the-math of Chuck Todd their race may not be any clearer until March.
The White House e-mail disaster: 473 work days for which there were no electronic messages retained in one or more office. It could be a server problem. or could be illegal erasion of e-mails.
And: Lou Dobbs calls half of Vegas culinary workers illegal aliens when in fact half are legal immigrants.
Bill O‘Reilly admits he lied about homeless veterans and demands an apology from somebody else.
And: Political satire of the highest order—the new coins of the realm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OVER: The half gallon coin or the Scalia depicts the Supreme Court justice against a backdrop of uncounted Florida ballots. By on the reverse presidential advisor, Karl Rove celebrates the modern miracle of electronic voting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.
M. OBAMA (voice over): Nevada!
OLBERMANN (on camera): Good evening. This is Friday, January 18th, 291 days until the 2008 presidential election. The wait until the Nevada caucuses and Republican South Carolina primary can now be measured in hours and the wait until Rudy Giuliani uses actual footage of the 9/11 attacks to promote his bid for the White House, that‘s over.
In our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: The word of the day on the campaign trail - mistakes -- those who were overcoming them, those who were trying to, and those who seem determined to bury their candidacies on their own common decency for good. We begin tonight with the Democrats:
Michelle Obama joining her husband on the stump in Reno, Nevada. Note the correct pronunciation of the state‘s name as Mrs. Obama learned today, say it wrong and somebody in the audience there might just correct you on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
M. OBAMA: It is so nice to be back in Nevada; we are so happy to be here. Nevada! Nevada! Nevada! Oh, no! I‘ve been in South Carolina too long. It‘s nice to be here in Nevada! Nevada, Nevada, Nevada! I know how to bounce back from my mistakes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That South Carolina. Senator Hillary Clinton meanwhile, gabbing about how she bounced back from her husband‘s mistake with Monica Lewinsky a decade ago, revealing indeed, one decade and one day ago, that in appearance airing today on the “Tyra Banks Talk Show.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TYRA BANKS, HOST: Are you embarrassed on it (ph)?
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, I would be embarrassed. Sure. I mean all of that. But I also—I was just praying so hard and thinking so hard about what‘s right to do, that I couldn‘t let anything else interfere with that. You know, the momentary feelings, you know, you‘re mad, you‘re really upset, you‘re disappointed, all of that goes through your mind. But I have found you really shouldn‘t make decisions in the heat of those moments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Tyra Banks—what we needed all this time to get her side of the story was Tyra Banks? The touchy-feely Mrs. Clinton, one of many facets of her personality to have emerged on the campaign trail this week, on another occasion the reporters who covered her campaign treated to Senator Shakey (ph). On Wednesday, Senator Clinton making a carefully scripted announcement evidently over the intercom of the campaign plane that she likes to call “Hill Force One.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: That in a few minutes I‘m going to switch off the “fasten your seatbelt” sign. However, I‘ve learned lately that things can get awfully bumpy when you least expect it. So, you might want to keep those seatbelts fastened. And in the event of an unexpected drop in poll numbers this plane will be diverted to New Hampshire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Scripted perhaps? Funny perhaps? Senator Obama meantime perhaps wishing he could divert his campaign back to before 6:26 p.m. pacific, Tuesday night. That was the hour at which during the debate in Las Vegas, he was the first of the candidates to tackle a question from Tim Russert about, his greatest weakness, the college-app question. He answered, quote, “Keeping track of stuff,” adding that he asked his staff not to hand him paper until two seconds before he needs it. Senator Obama saying today in Reno, that he made the mistake of answering truthfully, trying to spin that as a plus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Edwards says, my biggest weakness is I‘m just so passionate about poor people and helping them. And then Hillary says, my biggest weakness is I‘m so impatient to bring about real change in America. Now, I didn‘t - nobody clued (ph) me in that, you know, if I gone last I would have said my biggest weakness, I like to help old ladies across the street.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And now to call in our own Craig Crawford, also of course, columnist for CQPolitics.com. Craig, good evening.
CRAIG CRAWFORD, CQPOLITICS.COM: Good to see you, Keith.
OBLERMANN: Is it useful for Senator Obama to be campaigning as an “I‘ll-do-different things-or-things-differently” candidate because if you make any slip and you‘re the straight talker while your rivals can paint themselves as the politics as usual guys.
CRAWFORD: Yes, I think Senator Obama is having a little trouble sometimes to sort of figure out who he wants to present himself to voters as being. I mean, right out of New Hampshire I was surprised how quickly he wanted to be the establishment candidate, rushed into a photo opportunity with John Kerry. I know this drives the Clintons to distraction they don‘t see him as a real honest-to-God insurgent, somebody who rose up through the political machinery in Chicago and so, when he goes back and forth in that sort of persona, I think he‘s having a hard time establishing an identity with voters.
OLBERMANN: OK, we‘re talking about a Tyra Banks interview, seriously. Senator Clinton getting through her marital difficulties, not emotion really there, no tears, no accusation of near tears but this was recorded just before the New Hampshire primary that we first saw her rather just before the New Hampshire primary with that emotional side, was it a coincidence that the viewers of this show got treated to it again today, the day before another vote, mainly the Nevada caucuses?
CRAWFORD: I don‘t think so. As you pointed out this is all it took all these years to hear all this was Tyra Banks? I think what the Clinton campaign is trying to do in appealing to women voters, there‘s particular problem they have, Keith, with women voters and that is women who hold it against Hillary for staying with Bill Clinton. They think she did it only for her own personal ambition. That has been a strain and appalling and the views of women for a long time. I think she‘s trying to deal with that, trying to show some of her decision-making process there, to make it seem like a more reasonable and personal choice that other women could relate to.
OLBERMANN: OK. Let‘s look ahead to tomorrow and Reuters/C-span/Zogby poll which had Clinton by five, 42-37 over Obama. Edwards at 12, our so-called Keith number which is of course, undecided plus margin of error is 8.5 which is again, a pretty big number. But we don‘t really know who‘s actually going to show up at the caucus sites. We can‘t tell who‘s going to get talked out (ph) of their original intent or go with a second choice. Do we actually have any idea what‘s going to happen tomorrow in Nevada?
CRAWFORD: No. And even once we know what happened in Nevada, we won‘t have much idea what it meant. I got to tell you, Keith, I‘ve given up two things in this campaign. Polls and cigarettes. And I‘m feeling much healthier for it. In particular in this Nevada caucus, you know, pollsters can‘t figure out who‘s going to show up to vote so, I don‘t know why they‘re doing polls. To tell you the truth, this caucus is so weird and the system is so perverted. I actually think maybe the opinion polls are more accurate reflection possibly of what Nevada Democrats will actually think about these candidates than the caucus results themselves.
OLBERMANN: Navada (ph). Listen, last week we were hearing from the John Edwards camp that this was a virtual three-way tie. But latest number and the one from the “Wall Street Journal”/NBC poll don‘t suggest that. Why would that change?
CRAWFORD: I agree. I mean, I don‘t see a three-way tie you know, coming out of any further states. I note that at least in that poll Edwards is outside the Keith number about a few points. So, at least that shows he has some measure of support.
OLBERMANN: Or was it closer to, in the mid-20s last week and where would that go in this short period of time?
CRAWFORD: Yes, I think there is a lot of fluctuation. To defend the pollsters there‘s a lot of confusion in the electorate, they‘re making up their minds, one day, changing it and the next - I mean, none of these candidates in either party are really have the depth of commitment from voters that is going to hold these numbers between polls.
OLBERMANN: As we saw particularly in the polls in New Hampshire where that, I‘m not absolutely committed number was around 28 percent which means those polls might has well show Dewey leading Truman again. Craig Crawford of MSNBC and CQPolitics.com, as always sir, great thanks and have a great weekend.
CRAWFORD: And not in Navada (ph).
OLBERMANN: Most Republican spending little or no time in Nevada say for Governor Mitt Romney having already essentially ceded South Carolina to his rivals there; Senator John McCain selling an economic message today for residents of the Palmetto State, including a call to make President Bush‘s tax cuts permanent. Governor Mike Huckabee hoping his former career behind the pulpit in his southern roots will bring him victory. The former Arkansas governor telling a rally in Myrtle Beach of the Confederate flag, quote, “If somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we‘d tell them who to do with the pole. That‘s what we‘d do.” That will help in the fall. But the fight in South Carolina all but over shadowed today by another candidate who has abandoned any hope of winning there, Rudy Giuliani, running a new TV ad in the West Palm Beach region of Florida in which he actually uses real footage from the 9/11 attacks to promote his candidacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OVER: He challenged it. When welfare failed, he changed it. When crime thrived, he fought it. When government broke, he fixed it. And when the world wavered and history hesitated, he never did. Rudy Giuliani, leadership when it matters most.
RUDY GIULIANI, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I‘m Rudy Giuliani, and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OBLERMANN: Let‘s turn now to our correspondent, David Shuster who is in Columbia, South Carolina, covering the Republicans for us tonight, David, good evening to you.
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. I have to ask you about the Giuliani ad. I know, it‘s not a factor in this race tomorrow that we‘ll be covering. But as Joe Biden‘s memorable line said, everything is 9/11, a verb and noun he said it better than I did. But there‘s never been an ad with the actual video from that day. How is that being interpreted inside this Republican primary race? Is that Giuliani throwing in everything that he can find because there‘s some sense of desperation now?
SHUSTER: Well, among some Republicans, Keith, it‘s Giuliani throwing in the towel. I mean, his candidacy has been a miserable failure up to this point, his initial strategy of campaigning hard in New Hampshire; he spent more than $2 million there, went there, almost as often as Mitt Romney and came in, was horrible there. And now of course, the Republicans look up and see Giuliani‘s campaign essentially nonexistent here in South Carolina. He‘s struggling in Florida and now he adds an ad that features 9/11? I mean, Republicans are just sort of decide themselves and they say, it‘s just another sign that here‘s Rudy Giuliani, he was Mr. 9/11 at the beginning, then he didn‘t want people to focus just on that, now he‘s come back to it and he‘s come back to it in a rather grotesque fashion according to some Republicans. And I think it‘s just underscores the many problems that Giuliani campaign is having.
OLBERMANN: All right. As we continue on the subject of symbols, this issue with the Confederate flags. It‘s been a huge issue in the past primaries, in the past elections, state referenda, the whole nine yards. The Governor Huckabee‘s remarks which seem to say, you know, live and let live here. How are they playing in South Carolina this time around?
SHUSTER: Well, it‘s playing pretty well to some arch-conservatives here in South Carolina, some of the Republicans who might be inclined to support Mike Huckabee, but as far as those sort of more moderate progressive Republicans who are going to support John McCain, they see this as Mike Huckabee essentially ripping the scab off of the wounds here. This was an issue that was decided some seven or eight years ago and they feel that this is an issue South Carolina has moved past. So, I guess just depends on your perspective. If you‘re sort of more the old south, the old South Carolina as suppose you feel like, well, Mike Huckabee‘s right. But for some of the sort of new south Republicans, the kind that will be supporting John McCain, this is politics, that should not be played this way.
OLBERMANN: I mean, it looks like a page out of “Inherit the wind (ph) this campaign” from 1925. The Senator McCain campaign which obviously theoretically could have begun in 1925, not to insult the senator‘s age, but the 2000 run effectively ended in South Carolina. The infamous dirty tricks, the negative campaigning from the heart of then Governor Bush, he‘s been the victim of some of that again this time around from (ph) Huckabee supporters if not the Huckabee campaign, how has McCain handled it differently this time around, has he indeed and has it shown a different result?
SHUSTER: Well, Keith, two different types of sort of instances of these attacks. First with the phone call on this group that is supporting Mike Huckabee. These are phone calls largely related to John McCain‘s legislative record and the records for that matter of Thompson and Mitt Romney. McCain has been ignoring this stuff. What McCain has been doing, though, is there are flyers that have placed around the state at - on parking lots and malls and churches, it‘s not clear where those particular flyers are coming from or who‘s associated with them. But with those flyers attacking John McCain as a traitor somehow because of his actions as a P.O.W., when nothing was farther from the truth, he was clearly a hero as McCain supporters are pointing out. And what they‘re doing, Keith, very aggressively as reporting some of the guys like Bud Day (ph), who is a prisoner of war with John McCain, they have him out here in South Carolina saying, don‘t pay any attention to this crazy stuff that some of these flyers. Look at us, we know John McCain as hero. They‘ve been very aggressive about responding that quickly.
OBLERMANN: And lastly, let‘s take one last chance on the polls, MSNBC/McClatchy/Mason-Dixon poll, relatively new. McCain leading Huckabee by two. It‘s a bit closer than the other recent South Carolina surveys. Romney third at 15, Thompson fourth at 13. And the Keith number at 13. It‘s been bigger than the Democrats in Nevada. Is this, even though it‘s not caucus situation but primary, is this anybody‘s ball game tomorrow as well?
SHUSTER: It is, Keith. And it might actually come down to the weather here. There‘s snow that is predicted, snow and rain showers here in Columbia but heavier snow, and sort of the north country of Spartanburg and Greenville, and that is a Mike Huckabee stronghold. The most nervous (ph) that we heard Mike Huckabee was when he was talking about the weather and the snow, remember they‘re not used to snow at all down here. And if they‘re terrified of it, they don‘t come out that would conceivably hurt Mike Huckabee but again the race is that close where people feel that the weather could make a difference.
OLBERMANN: All right. Well, maybe not terrified but alarmed. David Shuster, who‘ll anchor MSNBC‘s coverage from South Carolina from 4:00 to 6:00 eastern tomorrow. Thank you David.
SHUSTER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And we‘ll be covering it and the Nevada caucuses all day on MSNBC. Mr. Matthews and I will join you at 6:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m. in Nevada. We‘re on until 11:00 unless they seal the exits.
And a note about last night‘s COUNTDOWN and the discussion of Barack Obama‘s evoking of the name Ronald Reagan as a president of change. Lawrence O‘Donnell of Huffingtonpost.com was our guest in the 6th sentence of his first answer, Lawrence dismissed criticism of Obama about for the Reagan reference by John Edwards and that said, Edwards, quote, “Is not a factor in these races coming up except possibly Nevada.” He was entitled to say that but I should have pointed out to you that a week ago, Mr. O‘Donnell wrote a piece for “Huffington” in which he called Edwards, a quote, “Loser,” who, quote, “Might in the end become nothing other than the southern white man who stood in the way of the black man.” I would have pointed out to you if he had pointed that out to us. We can‘t do on air vetting (ph) of everything, every analyst has ever written, the newscast would then consist of 58 minutes of that plus the theme music. But when it is relevant and it‘s pointed at recent it should happen, my apologies that in this case it did not.
Enjoying this (INAUDIBLE) race of primary season? The math that suggests, we may have months of it left.
And first: There were e-mails that were missing. Then there were e-mails that weren‘t missing, this does just not mean that there have been e-mails that have been found. John Dean on the Bush administration‘s newest scandal, you are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: If you‘re worried that your primary vote won‘t count. Can South Carolina really separate the Republicans? Will Nevada to side the Democrats? Chuck Todd says, probably not and probably not Super Tuesday either.
And: Bill O admits a mistake about homeless vets and demands apology from John Edwards. Since Billy will not let Dr. Phil see him, we‘ll do the best we can in Worst. Ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: By the 6th of next month, two-thirds of the Democratic Party delegates will be allocated. Republican voters in 27 states will cast their ballots and yet in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: Even by that point neither party may have decided who it wants to be president. After Super Tuesday, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton could be separated by only 100 or so delegates, John Edwards could be positioned as king maker and the GOP race could be even more fractured with Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani in a four-way split. Meaning that the culmination of the both contests might not happen until the next two states with the biggest delegate counts cast their ballots on March 4th, leaving the fate to who gets either nomination in the hands perhaps of voters in Texas and Ohio. This delightful scenario has been sketched for us by NBC News political director, Chuck Todd.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: My apologies. I know, I‘m scaring people all over the “30 Rock.”
OBLERMANN: Right. Everybody hears Ohio and you‘d just start shifting thing lately. This is however the state that had so many issues in 2004 and still hasn‘t sorted some of them out. Is anybody worried about this?
TODD: Actually very worried. Our own Pete Williams, NBC has been
looking into this. There‘s actually some lawsuits that may happen about
how certain ballots are counted in (INAUDIBLE). I mean, this that could
come up on March 4. It‘s a huge -
OBLERMANN: Trying to stop the switch back to paper ballots.
TODD: Correct and it could just cause, talk about headaches. I mean, this is the last thing we need when you have a contest that may be razor-thin close on both sides.
OBLERMANN: We‘re going to have to go back to one of those delicatessen contests where you go in and you buy the big Barack Obama sandwiches opposed to the Hillary Clinton sandwich or?
TODD: Not be as accurate. The little coffee bean contest.
OLBERMANN: All right. What is needed on Super Tuesday for clear frontrunners?
TODD: I think on the Democratic side, it‘s the perception of almost sweeping the primaries. You know, remember, John Kerry came in and he basically didn‘t stop winning. But you know, in talking to strategist in both the Obama camp and Clinton camp, they don‘t expect either of them to sweep. They‘re both have sort of regional strongholds, Barack Obama in the south, thanks to the African-American vote and in the midwest, Illinois there, plus some of the neighboring states. And you have Senator Clinton with the northeast. Her big thing is out west and winning California. I‘ll say this, if California ended up in the Obama column or if a bunch of those southern states ended up on the Clinton column, then, you might have decisive sort of nominee to be in pressure on this other person. But neither one, the way Democrats allocate delegates, you could lose a race 55-45 and only you know, get a couple of less. I mean, look at New Hampshire, she won it. They got the same amount of delegates. So, that could happen, all over there (ph). In fact, it‘s possible that the candidate that gets most votes on February 5th will have fewer delegates. So, go figure that. That will really make Democracy advocates really happy about our system.
OBLERMANN: All right. If that‘s still balanced that way, that‘s still hundred delegate margin that we‘re talking about and John Edwards does in fact, wind up in the position that, so, this is not what he wants, he wants to win, but if he winds up as the decider as the king maker, is it a given that he‘s going to Obama at that point or is there something that he wants, will he actually say I‘m going to you know, just throw my support to the candidate who, quote, “Most closely matches me on issue A, B and C”?
TODD: In the 19th century he would be trying to get a job. You
know, I would have been a patronage deal. I want x or I want certain
amount of people -
OLBERMANN: Or 20 jobs for this 20 people - yes.
TODD: I think that you know, what - that is what he‘s going to want. He‘s not just want to hand something over. He‘s not going to do it out of bitterness. I think some people of, Oh, gee, he doesn‘t want to see Senator Clinton get the nomination, so, he‘ll just hand his delegates to Obama. I don‘t think that‘s going to happen. I think you will see real deal making if he can be that decisive. Now, of course, the problem he‘s got if he doesn‘t do at least competitively well in these next two, you can see his numbers start to fade a little bit and then, suddenly he‘s not acquiring delegates. He still has to get 15 percent in a lot of these states to acquire delegates.
OBLERMANN: All right. Speaking of fading, the wide open Republican race that now the Republican (INAUDIBLE) but they‘re all excited about this. If there is a time bomb here, can any of them decides Mitt Romney afford to go into the end of March and the beginning of April?
TODD: Well, and see, that‘s the real problem at all, you know, Senator McCain, if he doesn‘t win South Carolina is he still going to be able to raise money? Rudy Giuliani, if he doesn‘t win Florida, can he still raise money? Mike Huckabee seems to be able to live off the land pretty well, when you have committed base of evangelicals you can do that. Mitt Romney of course, just has to look in the mirror every morning and say, would you like to give me more money and he is able to do that. So, but problem is there‘s no incentive to get out unless they really can‘t get on an airplane, unless, they really can‘t buy a ticket. And you know, it‘s very possible they all have regional strongholds. Rudy Giuliani can win a lot of northeastern states on February 5th. Mike Huckabee can do well in the South. Mitt Romney, Outwest. The Midwest, John McCain can do very well. And they can all end up with couple hundred delegates after February 5th. And there‘s no—then you know, I‘m wondering if you‘re going to start seeing them pair up and you‘ll start seeing multiple tickets. I mean, anything can happen I think in this Republican side.
OLBERMANN: Yes. It‘s just all the politicos want brokered
TODD: Come on. Once in my lifetime.
OBLERMANN: Just once, if you will. Chuck Todd, political director of NBC News, MSNBC. Thanks, Chuck, we‘ll talk to you over the weekend.
Well, we know what happens with Britney Spears does a bad lip sync in this country. Here‘s what happens when somebody does a bad lip sync in Spain.
Then: in Worse, he‘s back. What do you know there are 200,000 homeless veterans. So, the Frank Burns of news says, John Edwards does owes him an apology. That‘s ahead.
But first: The latest in the administration‘s 50 other scandals—
Number three: Blackwater-gate. The Justice Department last month reportedly briefed Congress that prosecution for September‘s Blackwater Baghdad massacre indeed faced serious legal difficulties largely because the State Department had been nice enough to grant many those connected to the murder of 17 Iraqis a form of immunity.
Number two: Waterboarding-gate. The federal judge hearing a freedom of information request for all details about the CIA‘s self-produced snuff films - the torture tapes, says, because the agency destroyed those tapes, he may now have to summon CIA officials and agents to testify about what they saw and why they made no record of the tapes‘ existence.
And number one: Thou shalt not touch-gate. Steven Howards sued a group of Secret Service agents after they arrested him for having have the temerity to approach Vice President Cheney at a ski resort in Colorado in 2006 and denounce the war in Iraq to him in person. Some of the agents said, Howards shoved the vice president, others say, he lightly patted him on the shoulder. An assault charge was eventually dismissed but of course, Mr. Howards could still be charged under the don‘t burst his bubble statute which makes it felony to cause Mr. Cheney‘s brain to overheat by suggesting to him that there are Americans who do not think he‘s a deity.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR, COUNTDOWN: On this date in 1929, newspaper gossip columnist Walter Winchell made his debut on radio. He would quickly dominated the field, became the terror of entertainers and politicians alike and move into TV and film reaching tens of millions Americans a week in four different media in four different decades and then dropped from the public eye more quickly and more completely than perhaps anybody else in the history of American broadcasting. His last episode narrating TV‘s “The Untouchables” was in 1962. By 1969 he was living in Los Angeles, handing out copies of his columns for free to passersby On that note, let‘s play oddball.
We begin on the Internet. This is the Spanish rock group named Squeeze These Please performing on some kind of European MTV nothing great about the band or the song or the name. But when their lead singer gets busted for Ashley Simpson style lip syncing and pulls a Beyonce like stage dive simultaneously on live TV, oddball is there. Oasis wants their mojo back. He‘s back up. Notice the band just kept faking their away along no help offered. Thanks, guys, team work.
Northwestern India now where this guy‘s writers strike mustache is getting out of hand. This is Garrett (INAUDIBLE), you‘ve seen him before, the 11 foot long mustache man. He‘s been growing it for 25 years. Vios (ph) hopes to break the current world record held by a guy with a 12.5 foot ‘stache. In the meantime, he‘s become a local celebrity. He grabs—allows tourists to grab on to either handle and get their picture snapped and when Vios does not feel like showing off his near record facial hair, he can neatly rap the thing into a couple of buns, stick them on the cheeks like this and pretend he‘s the love child of Chubaka (ph) and Princess Laya (ph).
Did you send e-mail to President Bush or any of his peeps in 2003 or earlier? Don‘t worry, it‘s gone now, again. And we didn‘t make this. We just enjoyed it. A new monetary system is envisioned by one group of satirists. These stories ahead but first, time for COUNTDOWN best persons in the world, number three, best coded message, televangelist Pat Robertson telling fixed (ph) news he still supports Rudy Giuliani. He knows about judges, he‘s got a good fix on who we want to put in. Translation: in exchange for Robertson‘s endorsement, Mr. Giuliani agreed to appoint crazy judges who would push Mr. Robertson‘s radical theocratic agenda.
Number two, best bad timing, the unnamed suspect in the hold up of a liquor store in Edmonton, Alberta.. Not only did he hit a store right across the street from a police station, but he also scheduled it perfectly to coincide with the shift change at the police station so there were twice as many officers available to run across the street and arrest his butt.
Number one best irony, Joe Taylor, the founder and curator of the Mount Blanco fossil museum near Lubbock, Texas. Mr. Taylor is a creationist fossil museum. He claims there‘s evidence Noah brought dinosaurs on to the ark. But the museum of mixed messages is not drawing enough crowds, so Mr. Taylor has to sell an artifact to raise the $200,000 or so he needs to not go bankrupt. The artifact is a prehistoric mastodon skull the size of Volkswagen. Scientists say it‘s 40,000 years old. No truth to rumors Mr. Taylor thinks it dates back to last Thursday—wait, the creationist museum? Is about to become extinct?
OLBERMANN: Hi, I‘m a Mac and I‘m a PC. And I‘m the White House e-mail server which might explain the disappearance of 473 days worth of White House e-mails. Third story tonight—can we come back to me now? Thank you. In our third story tonight, the White House in heated debate with its self over whether millions of e-mails more than a year‘s worth including a virtual arsenal of potential smoking guns, some of its worst scandals are missing or not. After months of acknowledging problems with its e-mail preservation, the White House is now de-acknowledging any missing e-mails at all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY FRATTO, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Have not located somewhere in the system the absence of something. We have not been able to note the absence of anything in our databases.
QUESTION: You‘re saying they‘re there you just haven‘t located.
FRATTO: No. I‘m saying we have no—we have no evidence that shows that anything at all is missing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In response, House Oversight Chairman Henry Waxman revealed at a briefing four months ago, White House staffers told his committee that various White House offices, including Mr. Bush‘s and Mr. Cheney‘s had no archived e-mails for a combined total of 473 days spanning 2003 to 2005. Mr. Fratto‘s claim also disputed by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald who told former Cheney aide Lewis Libby‘s lawyers in 2006 that he too had learned that the White House did not preserve all of its 2003 e-mails, e-mails that might pertain to Jack Abramoff‘s White House lobbying or the firing of several U.S. attorneys or the White House outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame or to its rationales for the Iraq war itself. Joining us now, a man who knows thing or two about missing White House records, former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, author most recently of “Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches.” John as always, great, thanks for your time.
JOHN DEAN, AUTHOR, “BROKEN GOVERNMENT”: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Nixon had an erased tape totaling 18.5 minutes. Mr. Bush has lost e-mails totaling 473 days. In numerical context that is 37,840 times as much missing material. What is the political or historical context?
DEAN: Serious. It‘s obviously a terrible moment. I have great difficulty believing that that many tapes—that many e-mails would be missing. What happened in the past was the Congress actually took physical possession of the erased tape to have it analyzed by the archives. The archives about every decade brings experts in to look at it to see if the technology is there yet to recover the 18.5 minute gap. They haven‘t yet believed (ph) it there. But I think that‘s what should happen with these. Let those hard drives go back to the archives and see if they can find what they need to find on them.
OLBERMANN: The law of course makes no provision for policing incumbent presidents. That is Congress‘ responsibility. What should be done once this president is no longer incumbent given that it‘s not like something about this is going to happen before his residency expires.
DEAN: The law‘s long had a flaw not only for incumbent presidents, but for actually former presidents as well, really have no sanctions on them. They have about 12 years, but they have pretty exclusive control of their papers and records. So that‘s another opportunity for abuse if one‘s inclined towards it. I‘ve long thought that the Congress should put some sanctions on this presidential records act and make it stick. Until they do that, it‘s open for abuse.
OLBERMANN: What could you have in terms of sanctions? Perhaps the most damaging thing be something along the lines of you can‘t charge admission to a presidential library that has disputed e-mail missing issues or tapes issues or whatever?
DEAN: You could go everything from a criminal sanction to a civil sanction of some sort. Particularly, for example, Sandy Berger when he got into presidential records and started destroying them. That obviously became a potential theft of records or a mutilation of records. So there are areas here where they‘re gray—protections right now with messing with government property. What the statute has is no real remedy for the government to go in and try to find out what‘s happened, to give them discovery to learn what‘s happened and to get to the bottom of it and then deal with it.
OLBERMANN: The White House claims that its previous finding about missing e-mails was wrong. They can find no sign that anything is missing, which is I guess disproving a negative. We thought that was impossible. Are we back though to the old game, we‘re not corrupt; we‘re just incompetent?
DEAN: Well, there‘s a little bit of that in that briefing certainly. It‘s hard to believe that indeed I think somebody has told them that you can‘t lose these on a tape. They‘re on a hard disk. They‘re there somewhere. So that would explain why he said we just don‘t know that anything is missing. It‘s just that they can‘t get to it. What they‘re showing some incompetence at is any kind of cover story to explain it. They‘re just putting it out there, not even trying to much deal with it or to deal with the congressional committees that want this information.
OLBERMANN: There was a second story that dealt with incompetence, FEMA is offering to buy back we found out today at full price, trailers that it had already bought in a no bid contract then had to sell at 40 cents on the dollar when various communities did not want them because it turned out that they were tainted with formaldehyde. Does the administration simply not value competence even when it affects people‘s lives?
DEAN: I don‘t think competence is high on their criteria for employment at this administration. Keith, I think you‘ll remember Senator William Proxmire who used to have the Golden Fleece award. This is high quality. I think FEMA could probably have a chest full of Proxmire‘s Golden Fleece awards.
OLBERMANN: Retire the Golden Fleece in memory of Senator Proxmire to FEMA. John Dean, the author of “Broken Government,” thank you John. Have a good weekend.
DEAN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Dr. Phil apologizes for butting in on Britney. Now, Britney showing signs of multiple personality disorder. Paging Dr. Phil! And the simplicity that is the mind of Lou Dobbs. Half the members of a union are immigrants. To Lou, that means they‘re illegal aliens. Ew, oh, Lou, worse persons ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Two for the price of one in tonight‘s brief look at celebrity entertainment. Dr. Phil and Britney Spears, beginning non-apology apology and the good doctor, in a show taped for Monday, Dr. Phil telling his audience that visiting Britney Spears while she was under hospital observation was the right thing to do, but talking about it wasn‘t. You‘re still talking about it. Another sobering clue about what makes Britney Spears do what she does. There had been reports that her parents suspected she might have bipolar disorder. Now tmz.com says its source believes she‘s displaying signs of multiple personality disorder including crying, playing the diva, acting incoherently and lapsing into a British accent.
Now on occasional 40 seconds of peeping, a special—what? Never. The special comment book is number 12 on the “New York Times” best seller list, yeah, yeah, sales at Amazon up 68 percent since yesterday. Thank you very much. Number one in its list of government books, American presidency books, journalism books, but this is actually interesting. Even if this was somebody else‘s book this would be interesting. Sales by metropolitan area weighted, they call it index, basically its highest sales of the book per capita. Number one is Youngstown, Ohio, true and consequences flying off the shelves in Youngstown, followed by a virtual five way tie for second among Tucson, San Diego, Davenport, Moline, Illinois, Evansville and Orlando. That‘s enough. Thanks.
Halliburton gas stations, just satire, but what satire? That‘s ahead. The (INAUDIBLE) COUNTDOWN‘s worst persons of the world, the bronze, to the father of swift boating Ted Sampling of U.S. Veteran Dispatch beginning this month‘s sleazy racist smear of sector Barack Obama on his website with these 10 words. Just one day before the January 3rd, 2007, Iowa caucus—we understand that you look like less of crack pot if you could get the year right? It‘s an election year.
Speaking of crackpots, the runner up Lou Dobbs. Last March, the then political director of the culinary workers union, whose endorsement is apparently key to the Nevada caucuses, told the Associated Press that about half his membership were immigrants. With his typical dedication to accuracy, Lou Dobbs, night before last turned that into, in point of fact, as many as half of the union‘s members are, illegal aliens. Way to go, Lou. Illegal immigrants or illegal immigrants, illegal aliens they‘re all the same to you. Soon it will be anybody named Emma or Grant. Please run for president, please run for president, please run for president. It would be every day would be like Christmas for me then.
But our winner, Bill O, this may be his all time greatest. At least twice he has insulted presidential candidate John Edwards for saying that 200,000 American veterans will be homeless tonight even though the statistic comes from the Bush administration‘s Veterans Affairs Department, from the VA. Last night a guest says, 200,000 veterans are homeless and Bill O. simply agrees says, right and then he goes off on this. Certainly there are homeless veterans but it‘s not because of the economy. It‘s mostly because of addiction and mental illness, something politicians can do little about. Why are so many veterans sleeping under bridges, John Edwards? The answer, again, they‘re mostly addicted or mentally ill. It is nothing to do with the economy. Edwards is a charlatan. John Edwards owes us an apology.
Bill O‘Reilly understands so little about America that honestly, when he comes out onto the street from one of those bunkers he occupies, he ought to have to wear a visitor‘s pass. Wait. Politicians can do little about addiction and mental illness? You know you might have us there, Bill o. You are the evidence that that might be true. Bill O., today‘s worst person in the world!
OLBERMANN: It is the stuff of political science fiction, the world in which the current president refuses to leave office, bans private ownership of alloys, invalidates all currency and then turns the entire oil business over to Dick Cheney‘s alumni association. And this is funny how? Number one story in the COUNTDOWN, I asked the folks at the “National Lampoon” humor network at blimp TV, who produced this with which we close our week.
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Now that President Bush declared marshal law, it will be illegal to be in possession of precious metals after the first of the year. That‘s why all citizens are urged to redeem their coins at any of the over 48,000 Halliburton service stations throughout the United States. We call it operation change for the better and for good reason. First, the new money is based on a petroleum standard so the coins will appear in gallon denominations instead of dollars, which makes sense since that‘s where most of your income goes anyway.
Let‘s familiarize ourselves with the new coins starting with the ten gallon denomination which features the president‘s mother, Barbara Bush, who will forever be remembered for single-handedly changing the world‘s perspective by noting that the refugees of hurricane Katrina were better off after the disaster than before. This happy fact is memorialized on the reverse with the adorable image of two lost children paddling past the superdome.
The five gallon coin celebrates our comatose press and the fifth anniversary of Larry King‘s momentous interview with Elizabeth Taylor on the eve of the Iraq war. This coin is also known as the buffaloed press nickel because of the American bison on the reverse, butting heads with the liberal media.
The one gallon coin or the Condi, honors Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice whose solution to Middle East conflict is summarized on the reverse, piping Persia for peace. The half gallon coin or Scalia depicts the Supreme Court justice against a backdrop of uncounted Florida ballots. While on the reverse, presidential advisor Karl Rove celebrates the modern miracle of electronic voting.
Finally, there‘s the one cup coin or the bracero, honoring the millions of aliens the president welcomed into the American labor pool. It features the unknown bracero on the front. While on the back more illegals jump the border in Roger Clark Wilson‘s gateway to servitude. Yes, a fitting tribute to big business‘ final triumph over organized labor. The larger denomination begin with the 25 gallon royal Limbaugh. Celebrating uniformity of speech, it features a Greco-Roman interpretation of commentators Bill O‘Reilly, Sean Hannity and Anne Coulter, under the banner, one media, one voice.
The 50 gallon coin pays homage to Donald Rumsfeld and the concept of democracy at gunpoint. The 75 gallon coin features Vice President Cheney and the creed for which he‘s dedicated the bulk of his public life, in greed we trust. On the reverse, an American eagle and the price of gas engaged in a symbolic race for the moon.
Finally there‘s the 100 gallon coin or the Bush doubloon, the presidential credo fighting terrorism by creating it is featured. On the reverse the events of 9/11 are recalled under the motto, lest they forget, we‘ll remind. Here a new World Trade Center rises from the ashes of the Pentagon, crusted by the men of Iwo Jima. On the right, Vice President Cheney is seen canceling North American fighter cover, while on the left, the president reads “My Pet Goat” to Florida kindergartners. Yes, it‘s a vivid snapshot of that fateful day, captured for all time in 100 percent depleted uranium. Be among the first to redeem coins worth 100 gallons or more and receive this limited edition doubloon, featuring President Bush along with Presidents Hoover and Harding, kindred leaders who also labored under a plundered economy. Yes, it‘s out with the old, in with the new, operation change for the better from the United States government and Halliburton, working together to round up every cent you have. A percentage of every Halliburton purchase is donated to the New Orleans wetlands reserve.
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OLBERMANN: That‘s the COUNTDOWN for this the 1,724 day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night, I hope at 6:00 Eastern, 3:00 Pacific for MSNBC‘s coverage of the results from the Nevada caucuses and the Republican primary in South Carolina. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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