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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, May 28

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Chuck Todd, Dana Milbank, James Moore, Chris Hayes, Paul F. Tompkins

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”  Day two: More stunningly revelatory than day one.  Scott McClellan overheard Mr. Bush on the phone saying he could not remember whether he had used cocaine.  He described the president who pursued Iraq because he believed quote, “only a war time president is likely to achieve greatness.”

The reaction?  There may be talking points.  “It is sad,” writes Dana Perino.  “This is not the Scott we knew.”


KARL ROVE, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER:  This doesn‘t sound like Scott.  It really doesn‘t.  Not the Scott McClellan I‘ve known for a long time.

DAN BARTLETT, FORMER BUSH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR:  It‘s almost like witnessing an out-of-body experience.


OLBERMANN:  The president‘s reaction?  “He didn‘t recognize the same Scott McClellan that he hired and worked with for so many years.”  And he called it sad.  He was too busy to read the book though they say they describe it to him.  It‘s a book, Mr. President, three dimensional, pages, words, pictures, I know, sir, not about pictures.

John McCain‘s Phil Gramm scandal deepens, double-dipping as his chief economic advisor and a paid lobbyist for a foreign bank neck high in mortgage crisis.  A foreign bank which today told some of its international employees—don‘t come to the U.S., you may be arrested.

The DNC says its rules committee does not have the power to seat all of Florida‘s delegates.  Bad news for Senator Clinton or very good news—enough fuel for her complaint machine to take her to the convention?

Worsts: Dunkin Donuts caves to the lunatic fringe right wing because -that is a terrorist scarf.

And: “Sex in the City” and not enough seats and too many tickets as the premiere in the city.


KRISTIN DAVIS, ACTRESS:  I hope that (INAUDIBLE) they‘re happy with what we‘ve done.  Our goal is to please the fans.


OLBERMANN:  They were all pleased Charlotte, except the ones who nearly rioted.

All of that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.

(on camera):  Good evening.  This is Wednesday, May 28th, 160 days until the 2008 presidential election.

He is not John Dean testifying to a Congress within the year of the crime, that the president offered to get him a $1 million to bankroll a Watergate cover-up when all around him called him liar and traitor.

But in our fifth story tonight: As the second day of the Scott McClellan story we brought you first last night, unfolded with the subtlety of a 10-megaton device, this thought—if the entire administration lied the nation into war, essentially killed and maimed thousands of its own troops, and one man finally says—I can‘t lie any more.  Has he earned himself some credit?

Those who are or were deceiving can only do one of two things now. 

They can keep deceiving or they can stop.  McClellan, evidently stopped. 

And they are his words.  NBC News has learned tonight, no ghostwriter.

Day two of an inconvenient truth-teller-gate: Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler of Florida today having called for Scott McClellan to testify to Congress about the Bush administration‘s, quote, “deliberate efforts to mislead the American people into the Iraq war.”  Mr. McClellan to speak out on this news hour tomorrow.

Until them, his former colleagues like former presidential adviser, Karl Rove, firing back, massive CYA about McClellan‘s charge in particular that he and Scooter Libby were getting their Valerie Plame cover stories straight even as McClellan was insisting publicly that they were innocent.


ROVE:  It goes to show how out of the loop he was that he didn‘t think we spent much time together.  I mean, over the course of the seven years or six years that we worked together, Scooter and I spent a lot of time, first in the campaign and then when we‘re at the White House, we were on several committees together.

We were off times, he was the vice president‘s representative, there‘s a lot of policy meetings where we would have conversation to discuss.  I mean, Scooter and I officed maybe 20 feet from each other.


OLBERMANN:  Rove, of course, is central to McClellan‘s view of a White House—deceptive and self-deceptive.  So, though technically now outside it, no surprise that he was the first to use, perhaps to establish, the almost comically-repeated defensive talking point.


ROVE:  First of all, this doesn‘t sound like Scott.  It really doesn‘t.  Not the Scott McClellan I‘ve known for a long time.  Second of all, it sounds like somebody else.  It sounds like a left wing blogger.  Second of all, you‘re right.  If he had these moral qualms, he should have spoken up about them and frankly, I don‘t remember him speaking out about these things.  I don‘t remember a single word.


OLBERMANN:  So, Rove compliments him like a left wing blogger.

Then, it was Dana Perino, representing the 75 percent of Bush press secretaries were supposed to believe, “Scott, we now know,” she says, “is disgruntled about his experience at the White House.  For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled.  It is sad—this is not the Scott we knew.”

There‘s a lot of puzzled people at the White House like that‘s news. 

Take Mr. McClellan‘s former boss, Dan Bartlett who is puzzled.


BARTLETT:  It‘s almost like witnessing an out-of-body experience with Scott and the description I‘ve read of the book, and the allegations, and assertions, and conclusions he‘s drawn, and it really is a different person.  Those of us who are closest to Scott during this process and during the last eight years, are really just puzzled by him, bewildered by some of these views that he says he‘s always held but he‘s never shared with some of his closest friends.


OLBERMANN:  And who else is puzzled—to whom else is this not the Scottie they knew and loved and used?  Well, the president, of course, is speaking through his current press secretary who‘s not lying.

Ms. Perino is telling reporters aboard Air Force One this afternoon, “He is puzzled, and he doesn‘t recognize this as the Scott McClellan that he hired and confided in and worked with for so many years; and disappointed that if he had these concerns and these thoughts, he never came to him or anyone else on the staff that we know of.”

Yes, just imagine how well it would have gone over have Mr. McClellan shared his concern that the president believed the war in Iraq would give him a leg up on a legacy of greatness.  Quoting from page 131 of the book, “As I have heard Bush say, only a wartime president is likely to achieve greatness, in part because of the epochal upheavals of war provide the opportunity for transformative change.  The kind Bush hoped to achieve.  In Iraq, Bush saw his opportunity to create a legacy of greatness.”

As to those cocaine rumors that surfaced during the 2000 campaign, Mr.  McClellan having heard Bush say back then, quote, “You know, the truth is, I honestly don‘t remember whether I tried it or not.  We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don‘t remember.”

“I remember thinking to myself,” McClellan writes, “how can that be?  How can someone simply not remember whether or not they used an illegal substance like cocaine?  It didn‘t make a lot of sense.”

Taking another trip into the way back machine to the day two years ago when Mr. McClellan announced his resignation and we‘re pretty sure that this will never happen.


PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES:  One of these days he and I are going to be rocking on chairs in Texas, talking about the good old days and his time as the press secretary.  And I can assure you, I will feel the same way then that I feel now, that I can say to Scott, job well done.



OLBERMANN:  And mission accomplished.

Time now to call in our own Dana Milbank, national political reporter of the “Washington Post,” a former White House correspondent for that newspaper.

Good evening, Dana.


OLBERMANN:  Karl Rove‘s out of the loop remarked is fascinating on at least two fronts, two questions about it.  By saying that McClellan was out of the loop on just how closely aligned he and Libby really were inside the White House, did he not confirm Mr. McClellan‘s contention that he was misled, that he was purposely kept out of the loop?

MILBANK:  Well, to coin a phrase, I‘m puzzled by this.


MILBANK:  But well, yes, he did.  And I suspect somewhere in Chicago, Patrick Fitzgerald is having a stiff drinking tonight wondering what else he didn‘t know.  But in trying to refute the sort of narrow point that Scott raised in the book about this suspicious meeting he thought between Rove and Libby, they were suggesting - well, we have these meetings all the time.  You can bet they probably weren‘t discussing health care in those meetings.

So, it, obviously, doesn‘t prove anything but it does raise a suspicion that—and certainly validates what McClellan was saying in terms of him being misinformed by Libby, by Rove, and theoretically, by the vice president and the president himself.

OLBERMANN:  The other part of this, of course though, if you say we left the press secretary, that press secretary out of the loop, does that not also mean that Mr. Fleischer and Mr. Snow were also left out of the loop and Miss Perino is, at this moment, being left out of the loop?  I mean, did Karl Rove not obliterate the credibility of Mr. Bush‘s other three press secretaries, two of whom are at this moment criticizing the third one, Mr. McClellan?

MILBANK:  Well, the fallacy in the question is that there was a certain credibility to start with here.  I mean, seriously, that has fallen by the wayside long ago and I think what McClellan‘s points really brings out here is that either you‘re in the loop and you‘re misinforming people or you‘re out of the loop and you‘re inadvertently sending across bad information.

Now, neither of those is of particularly good possibility.  And I think that explains the ferocity of the White House response.  We have Bartlett, Rove, Perino, even Ari Fleischer, out of retirement dusting off the jersey and getting back in the game.

OLBERMANN:  But again, what would Fleischer and Perino know if press secretaries are out of the loop.

The one thing described at length by Scott McClellan in this book, this idea of the permanent campaign as the operating principle for the entirety of the White House.  Does this concept by itself explain a lot of what we‘ve witnessed in the past seven years—the administration has never been concerned with what to do with power just getting it via a campaign?

MILBANK:  Yes.  I mean, nothing is particularly new about the accusation of the permanent campaign.  What‘s happened is the extent to which it seems to have pervaded everything, to point that McClellan is even suggesting that there should be a deputy chief of staff in the White House in charge of governing.

Well, there was a time when that person was actually the president in charge of governing and rest of his White House staff and politics was off in the corner.  So, while the permanent campaign certainly predates this president, it seems to have, certainly by this account, become more pervasive than ever before.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  Well, joining in on a permanent campaign for a second, how does this hit not George Bush but John McCain?  I mean, he spent today engaging Obama on Iraq.  McClellan confirms that war was a foregone conclusion from the start, was not necessary, and all the rationalizations that John McCain is now repeating are essentially BS?

MILBANK:  Yes.  Well, I don‘t think we‘re going to have, you know, bumper stickers and pins saying remember McClellan.  So, it‘s not a threat in that sense.  But in the broader sense, whenever the conversation turns to doubts about Iraq, or anything about the current president, it‘s bad for McCain.

So, this is hitting both of those things and taking another whack at the president‘s credibility.  All of this has a negative effect on McCain.  The question is, it really to what extent?

OLBERMANN:  You wonder and when the subject of Iraq comes up in a debate, presuming it‘s Senator Obama standing at the other podium, if he doesn‘t just reach underneath and go—what page was this again in here?  I‘m sorry, Senator McCain.

Dana Milbank of MSNBC and the “Washington Post,” as always, thank you, Dana.

MILBANK:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  For more on that Texas connection between Bush and McClellan, let‘s turn now to author and Texan James Moore, the man who brought us the books “Bush‘s Brain” and “The Architect,” now himself, a contributor to the

Jim, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  The president sounded almost wishful about the time he plans to spend in those rocking chairs on the porch in Texas, presumably in Crawford one day.  Now, you know, if we foresee that, I imagine he sees Mr.  McClellan sort of stuff next to him like a dog.  How big - contextualized this - how big a deal was it for McClellan of all people to break with this president so irrevocably?

MOORE:  I think what people need to understand, Keith, is the historical context of Scott‘s relationship with all of those folks, and that will also explain in many ways their extreme reaction today.  Scott was set up—when this campaign was teed up—he was set up as the sifter (ph), he was the vessel that they filled up with just enough information to answer a question but no more.

So, when Karl Rove and Joe Albaugh and Karen Hughes and Danny Bartlett

and the rest of the gang, didn‘t want to talk to reporters, they would say

well, go talk to Scottie and Scottie technically knew nothing then.  And that‘s why now, they‘re so surprised that he finally comes out and says these kinds of things.

But you know, I also think there‘s a certain amount of rank cowardice in this.  I mean, the time to speak truth to power is when it matters and when something can be achieved, but Scott is certainly not alone in this.  I mean, let‘s look at Colin Powell.  He knew when he was before the United Nations that he wasn‘t given the real deal but went ahead with his show.  So, Scott is certainly not the lone person within this administration to take this tactic.

OLBERMANN:  No.  And we have not gotten this book from Colin Powell yet.

MOORE:  That‘s correct.

OLBERMANN:  We have not gotten his book but even most of the other people who have broken and gone off into the night to, maybe to leak their wounds, that brings the question of how unlikely was McClellan to be the first to make this kind of disclosure at this sort of magnitude level because he was the one who smiled and paraded the talking points, amiably, always amiably if not skillfully for those many years?

MOORE:  Well, Scott is certainly not someone that they would have ever thought was smart enough to do this.  I mean, he‘s the Hill fellow, he‘s a congenial guy and truthfully, he‘s a well-liked guy.  And he thinks that he is doing right by doing this.  And many people believe he is doing right.

But I think the problem for Scott now is that this is kind of an act

of the self-emulation on both sides of the aisle, where does he go, who

does he turn to, and what does he do next because he has in fact spoken the

truth?  But in this case, all the truth does is give us a new frame of

reference for the Bush legacy and it doesn‘t affect anything and Scott

could have been remarkably helpful in getting us inside when it mattered.

OLBERMANN:  All the defensive analysis of this says—this is not the Scott McClellan the White House knew.  Is it truly, utterly out of character for him?  I mean, did not Ron Zeigler start compulsively telling the truth after five years with Richard Nixon because he just at top of the back of his head blow up, he just couldn‘t stop talking?

MOORE:  Well, Scott, Keith, is a good guy who was doing his job.  And that‘s the problem.  You see these people like Dana Perino and all these other press secretaries, you see people who have light in their eyes.  They know what the truth is and as they go through this job, they realize they‘re being kept out of the loop.

Scott wasn‘t brought into these big meetings, where these things were decided.  Karl made it clear in that sound cut you ran, that he was kept out of the loop and after a while, eventually, Scott realized he was being laid over a barrel and getting his butt whipped.  And that‘s what happens to all these people.  Dana Perino, Scott - all of these people, eventually, like to think will have their moment of truth and acknowledge that they were a part of something they knew was wrong.

OLBERMANN:  And very briefly, at the end of this, the White House, of course, said, perhaps he did it for the money.  Is that plausible?

MOORE:  Well, he doesn‘t have a job probably and he needs the money.  And there‘s no reason that money and telling the truth are mutually exclusive in a deal like this.

OLBERMANN:  Indeed.  And it‘s not like it‘s going - well, it could make him a lot of money, but probably not.  We‘ll see.

James Moore, co-author of “Bush‘s Brain,” contributor of the Huffington Post.  Thank you, sir.

MOORE:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  And we will have the first cable interview with Scott McClellan now scheduled for tomorrow night.  Scott McClellan at this desk with me tomorrow night.  And I can‘t imagine which of us is more surprised by that eventuality.

A surprise on Florida and Michigan—Democratic Party lawyers think the rules committee can‘t seat all the delegates.  Is that a terrible blow to Senator Clinton or the best news an umbrage fueled campaign could ever get?

John McCain asks tonight for the first time about the Phil Gramm scandal.

And in Worst: Beware the Rachel Ray-Dunkin Donuts‘ scarf of terror.


OLBERMANN:  Two rulings going against Senator Clinton‘s bids to seat Florida and Michigan as is, on reflection, is it actually good news for her hopes?

John McCain‘s Phil Gramm scandal expands and his former employers warned some of their international bankers—do not go to America, you may be arrested.

And the president‘s dissolutions of grandeur: Iraq and Afghanistan are Germany and Japan and he‘s FDR.  Bushed next on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Federal judge rejects a lawsuit arguing that the DNC discriminated against Florida‘s voters by stripping the states of its delegates.  Lawyers for the Democratic National Committee inform the rules and bylaws committee that it lacks the authority to seat any more than half of the delegates from Michigan and Florida, all of which could be really good news for Senator Clinton.

Our fourth story in the COUNTDOWN: Because this could go all the way to the convention.  When the rules committee meets on Saturday, the Clinton campaign intends to argue that all delegates should be seated despite the fact that Senator Obama was not even on the ballot in Michigan.

For its part, the Obama campaign says it‘s willing to compromise on some delegates, so the party can finally begin on focusing on beating Senator McCain.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think the Clinton campaign is out there saying -

no compromise, only 100 percent.  We‘re willing to compromise.  And I think that‘s where most of the party is.

Many people want some resolution here that can be described as a fair resolution.  But that most importantly allows us to move onto the general election because in both of these states, there‘s both a need and a hunger to focus on November.


OLBERMANN:  The Clinton campaign says it wants all 2.3 million votes cast in Florida and Michigan to be counted and that it expects the rules committee to allocate pledged delegates based on the popular vote and that the full delegation shall be seated.  If that doesn‘t happen, the Clinton campaign appears open to appealing the decision to the credentials committee which would send the argument all the way to the convention in August.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Technically, you could go in to the credentials committee, but we fully expect and have every hope and every expectation that the issues will be resolved on Friday.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Resolved in our favor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, if it‘s not resolved in your favor, do you appeal?  I mean, that‘s the signal you‘ve been sending so far.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s a bridge to cross when we come to that particular stream.


OLBERMANN:  We turn now to NBC News and MSNBC political director, Chuck Todd.

Good evening, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Good evening, Keith.  It was nice that you shared those conference calls.  That‘s what our days are normally like around here.

OLBERMANN:  It‘s like - there are 17 of them and they last an hour apiece.  What do you think of my contrarian thinking here that if the rules committee can‘t or won‘t do what Senator Clinton wants on Saturday that that‘s the best thing that can happen to her?

TODD:  Well, what she would need - it‘s funny you say that.  In order to pull that off, she would need to find a majority in that rules committee that would be willing to do nothing.

And the problem she has is that—even folks that have endorsed her and we‘ve all studied this rules committee and we know that there are more public Clinton endorsed supporters on that rules committee than Obama supporters, though we think privately, Obama actually has a slight advantage.  They just can‘t get a majority of that committee to agree that doing nothing is a good idea on Saturday.

OLBERMANN:  So, if Senator Clinton does take it then all the way to the convention, if it winds up not being to her liking, is it going to make any difference to the nomination?  Would Obama be far enough ahead by that point to seat the delegations to the Clinton‘s specifications and still Obama becomes the nominee?

TODD:  I think that‘s very likely when you look at the numbers.  The thing that I think that the Clinton campaign knows and that they could be bracing for, let‘s say they—to go with your contrarian view—that the rules committee does nothing.  Obama gets his 2,026, hits the first magic number that we‘ve all thought was the magic number for sometime on Tuesday after the voting polls close in Montana.  You will then get a flood of new people that come over and endorse him.

If she then threatens to say—I‘m thinking about petitioning the credentials committee, you will see enough superdelegates come to his side to make it so that the numbers are a moot point.

OLBERMANN:  The DNC chair, Governor Dean said in April that he expected one of the candidates to leave the race after the 3rd of June, after the final primaries.  But does he actually have the pull to make that happen, or is the real possibility here that it‘s going to stay, at least technically, literally unresolved until August?

TODD:  He doesn‘t have that pull but what would is a group of people.  It would be a collective group of, I‘d argue three people—Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid—who have all three rallied behind Obama and said—we‘re with Obama; he‘s the nominee.  Then, Senator Clinton wouldn‘t have much standing.

Howard Dean is not the old-fashioned DNC chair powerbroker that can pull that off; a troika led by Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid could.

OLBERMANN:  Are we at this kind of strange stage where what Senator Clinton‘s supporters have always alleged may actually be coming true here that the media actually has influence in what happens now regarding the nomination because you‘ve got the meeting on Saturday, you‘ve got the Puerto Rico primary on Sunday, you‘ve got Montana and South Dakota, and then, nothing, flat line, no votes, no primaries, no caucuses, nothing on which to hang the idea of the story that there is a race to cover and what happens to Senator Clinton if nobody covers her metaphorically-speaking after Tuesday?

TODD:  Well, we‘re seeing a little bit of that this week.  I mean, look - you know, one of the unintended consequences of this McClellan bombshell here on Washington is that it pushed down this story that we‘re talking about today.  Florida and Michigan is not the lead political story right now in Washington or, frankly, the country.  That‘s a problem already for Senator Clinton.

And as you say, what happens when it‘s clear that Obama appears to be the presumptive nominee, that there really isn‘t much she can do, he starts acting more and more like the nominee, engages McCain more, and then it becomes very difficult.

Look - her campaign realizes this.  Don‘t forget, Terry McAuliffe, the chair of the campaign said about a month ago—one of the endless Tuesday nights that we usually get together—that this thing is going to end in June.  There will be a nominee in June.  He, I believe, put an end date of June 15th.  So, at this point I think we look at June 15th as the likely end date.

OLBERMANN:  You know, it might be the next time the senator gets covered after Tuesday.  We‘ll find out.

Chuck Todd, political director for NBC News and MSNBC—as always, Chuck, many thanks.

TODD:  You got it, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Does a bear fall in the woods, and if he does and nobody is there to hear it, does he make a sound?  Come on down.

And seriously, Dunkin Donuts, you cave to pressure to remove Rachel Ray‘s terrorist scarf.  Can I talk to a grownup please?

But first, the headlines breaking in the administration‘s 50 other running scandals—Bushed.

Number three: War profiteering-gate.  Auditors at the Pentagon say today they cannot verify that your tax dollars are being spent legally, being spent as they‘re supposed to be, even as the Defense Department say or says they are being spent.  They say they missed at least $158 billion in spending just last year, just on the weapons budget.  That‘s because, says the Pentagon inspector general, a decade ago, each auditor there was responsible for double-checking about $642 million in military spending.

But now, with fewer auditors, each of them is responsible about 2 billion in military spending.  In other words, we don‘t know where the hell the money is going.

Number two: Draft-gate.  Once again, there is no draft, except, the State Department says the number of volunteers for diplomatic service in Iraq maybe about 300 short.  If need be, diplomats will be ordered to either go to Iraq or throw their careers into the toilet.  Once again, there is no draft unless you‘re already in Iraq or if you‘re in the State Department.

And number one: Delusions of grandeur-gate.  The president today in Colorado Springs, rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan is a case of, quote, “learning as we go.”  “We assume this obligation before after World War II,” he said, “we helped Germany and Japan build free societies and strong economies, we need to prevail not just in the battle of arms but also the battle of wills and we need to recognize that the only war that America can lose the war on terror is if we defeat ourselves.”

Aha.  Where is that quote in McClellan‘s book again?  Wait a minute. 

Yeah, here it is, 131.  Wait a minute.

“Every president wants to achieve greatness but few do.  As I‘ve heard Bush say, only a wartime president is likely to achieve greatness in part because of the epochal upheavals of war provided the opportunity for transformative change of the kind Bush hoped to achieve.”

Wait a minute, here‘s a little more.

“In Iraq, Bush saw his opportunity to create a legacy of greatness.  Intoxicated by the influence and power of America, Bush believed that a successful transformation of Iraq could be the linchpin for realizing his dream of a free Middle East.”

Forty-one hundred Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead for Mr. Bush‘s greatness—as if he could spell greatness.


OLBERMANN:  Best persons in a moment, and here comes the environmentally friendly bomb, seriously.  First, 71 years ago today, the three time prime minister of Great Britain Stanley Baldwin, convinced in the wisdom and foresight of his deputy and exclusivity of the intelligence they shared retired two months shy of his 70th birthday, and turned the office over to that deputy, Neville Chamberlain.  And to this date, President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and the lunatic fringe talker Kevin James still don‘t know who Neville Chamberlain really was.  Let‘s play Oddball. 


OLBERMANN:  We begin in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where it‘s partly cloudy with a chance of bear.  He‘s OK, folks, but apparently the whole trampoline think is not catching on.  This is a young black bear.  He‘s just asleep.  He had climbed into a tree next to a VA hospital.  Cops juiced the bear up and down went the bear.  He would later wake bruised, but unharmed, somewhere far away from city lines.  Part-time volunteer deputy sheriff from Scranton tells Oddball, the bear will no longer be a menace to the hard working, feed eating people of Scranton. 

That said, we now head back to Missoula, Montana to show you Scranton folks how it is supposed to be done.  In 2003, probably equally bruisy for the bear, but sillier and more fun for us.  Not only was he OK, he is now Missoula‘s mayor. 

Finally, the annual visit to Gloucester, in England, where hundreds of competitors gathered on the 45 degree incline of Cooper‘s hill to chaise a wheel of coagulated milk curd.  Rainy conditions meant dozens of the cheese chasers ended up slipping rather than running down the hill.  But fortunately, most managed to bounce their way across the soggy ground to victory.  Nobody knows when the cheese rolling tradition began.  Some say it all began during a down time for the British Medical Association, especially when there were too few splints being sold and not enough X-Rays being taken. 


OLBERMANN:  John McCain‘s Phil Gramm scandal, as the mortgage banker for whom he worked while a McCain advisor, UBS, warned some of its employees they may be arrested.  McCain is asked for the first time tonight about Gramm.  And 3,000 seats, about 5,000 tickets, “Sex and the City” and the near riot.  These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world. 

Number three, best prioritization; Michael Pooler of the Austin Texas Fire Department.  He says he will his dismissal.  His bosses say the fire department dispatched his truck to aid a woman in respiratory distress, but it was delayed for two minutes because Mr. Pooler first went to the fast food place next to the fire house to get a burger. 

Number two, best continuing self-destruction, Clemens—Roger Clemens formerly of baseball.  Since he sued his trainer Brian McNamee for defamation because McNamee testified that he supplied Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone, evidence has come out that Clemens has repeatedly been unfaithful to his wife with a variety of women, and apparently a 15-year-old country singer.  Nevertheless, today Clemens broadened the lawsuit, accused McNamee of intentional infliction of emotional distress. 

The problem is now, of course, a jury could find McNamee did damage Clemens‘ reputation and then find that the value of that reputation had sunk to about 20 bucks. 

Number one, best effort to go green, Thomas Klapotke, a chemist at the University of Munich in Germany.  He notes that TNT, RDX and other common explosives often generate toxic gases when they explode and pollute our environment.  So he has been working on an internationally funded project to develop HBT, a, quote, safer, more environmentally friendly explosive. 

I got a brainstorm.  You want to make a safer, more environmentally friendly explosive, how about one that doesn‘t blow up. 


OLBERMANN:  As we reported to you last night, we know John McCain‘s top financial adviser Phil Gramm was a paid lobbyist for the Swiss bank UBS, which is deeply involved in the mortgage crisis and was so at the same time he was helping to write McCain‘s economic policies and being an unpaid McCain campaign adviser.  In the third story tonight, what we still do not know, when we asked UBS tonight whether Gramm had ever lobbied McCain specifically on the bank‘s behalf, UBS declined to comment. 

McCain‘s comment on that denial to comment in just a moment.  Nor do we know to what extent McCain‘s Senate votes and proposed presidential policies have coincided with how UBS has tried to shape U.S. policy on the mortgage crisis through Gramm and its other lobbyist.  Gramm‘s water carrying for one of the world‘s biggest banks, while he was creating McCain-onomics, became even more problematic, at least from a public relations view point, just hours after our report, as London‘s “Financial Times” posted news that UBS has told some its bankers not to travel to the U.S., apparently out of concern they may be arrested as part of the on going investigations of alleged tax evasion schemes involving UBS clients. 

Gramm‘s employer was already in potential legal trouble directly related to the mortgage crisis, which some economists trace in part back to Gramm‘s own deregulation of the banking industry in the ‘90s.  UBS hiring him shortly thereafter.  The “Wall Street Journal” reported early this year that UBS is now the subject of federal investigations, probing whether Gramm‘s employer inflated the values of some of the financial packages it was selling to investors, packages built with mortgages. 

Minutes ago, Senator McCain addressed the Gramm controversy. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hi, senator.  Yesterday there was a report that Senator Phil Gramm acted as a lobbyist around the time that he was advising you on your economic policy.  Has he ever lobbied you on behalf of UBS and will you keep him on in his role as an economic advisor? 

MCCAIN:  Senator Gramm has one of the most honorable records of anyone who has served in the United States and, of course, he has never lobbied me. 


OLBERMANN:  Let‘s turn to Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine.  Thanks again for your time tonight, Chris. 

CHRIS HAYES, “THE NATION”:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Of the things we don‘t know, what are the worst possibilities? 

HAYES:  The worst possibility, I suppose, is that Phil Gramm was a mole for the banking industry inside the McCain camp as they were creating their economic policies.  In some senses, it‘s unlikely that‘s the case and it doesn‘t really even matter.  Phil Gramm‘s the kind of guy who doesn‘t need to be paid to advocate on behalf of big banks.  That is essentially what he has been doing his entire career. 

OLBERMANN:  When we weigh the interests of big banks versus homeowners, who gets favored by the McCain approach to the current mortgage crisis? 

HAYES:  Well, I mean, homeowners really get the short end of the stick.  The problem is that the big banks have the Fed and the Fed has gone to bat for them, time and time again, to sort of keep them propped up.  But homeowners don‘t have a Fed.  They have the Congress and they have the president.  Together, those institutions of governing are going to have to figure out a way to help the 2.2 million people facing foreclosure.  McCain‘s plan offers help at their own optimistic range of 200,000 to 400,000 people.  It‘s nowhere near the scale necessary to deal with the problem.  And it doesn‘t even offer help to predatory lenders.

So you see these kind of values of putting banks ahead of working people reflected in the policy the campaign has come out with.  

OLBERMANN:  So if there‘s 2.2 million people in trouble, they‘ll go after the .2 and try to help them? 

HAYES:  Right. 

OLBERMANN:  When we get to the general election, how does McCain plan to run on the issue of the economy when somebody will say you may remember the co-author of my economic plan from his previous hits, such as the current recession, the mortgage crisis and Enron? 

HAYES:  Well, I mean, that‘s a fine question.  I don‘t know how they are going to run on the economy.  In fact, we‘ve seen the last few days, the campaign doesn‘t want to talk about the economy.  It‘s like pulling teeth to get them to talk about the economy.  They want to run on the war.  They want to run on continuous war and not talking to North Korea and whatever else comes out of John McCain‘s mouth about foreign policy. 

And the economy is clearly an afterthought.  We saw them come out with a speech in which they said to homeowners, you know what, suck it up and deal.  Too bad if you are facing foreclosure.  They realized that was untenable and they had to come out with another plan that would soften the edges of that.  As we come down the stretch with all the polls showing that people are really hurting, the economy is issue number one.  It‘s really unclear how they‘ve deemed this out to deal with the issue that‘s on the American‘s people‘s minds. 

OLBERMANN:  In fact, what does the campaign become if it‘s about the economy, where it appears that his principle economic adviser was, oh, by the way at the same time advising him, happened to be advising one of the biggest investment companies precipitating the domino effect that happened in the economic crisis, the mortgage crisis.  Meantime in Iraq, the Scott McClellan book is out, which suggests that the entirety of Iraq was sold as a bill of good to the American people.  Not a new proposition, but definitely a new proposition coming from a former press secretary to President Bush. 

What is their left to run on?  McCain has a softer speaking voice? 

What‘s left? 

HAYES:  Really, that‘s the point, right.  What we‘re seeing is a campaign that has become business as usual conservatism.  The entire amount of trust that we can put in the policy making process, which has been destroyed over the last eight years, and in a way that I think conservatives and liberals can agree is repellent.  The one thing that John McCain had back in the late ‘90s, when he articulated this critique of the economy of influence in Washington, was a way of thinking and talking about public service in governance that was free from the sort of insidious manipulation by special interest, the obfuscation, and the lying.  And now, we see he has the same people around him that have created the mess we‘re in right now. 

OLBERMANN:  Secretary of the Treasury Gramm, invest in Rubles.  Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation,” thanks, once again, for your time tonight, sir. 

HAYES:  Thanks again, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The record breaking lines at the “Sex and the City” movie premier, just a stunt?  As many as 1/3 of these women never got in to see the movie.  What is the problem with that?  I‘m sorry. 

Senator Lieberman chastised for still going to a summit held by Pastor John Hagee, condemns what Hagee said about Hitler being sent by god, and says he is still going.  Seriously, senator?  Worst persons ahead on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  People unhappy at the premiere of the “Sex and the City” movie, and they weren‘t men forced to go see the premier of the “Sex in the City” movie; the latest from the barricades next.  But first, our number two story, COUNTDOWN‘s worst persons in the world.

The bronze to Bill-O, still refusing to be a man and make his complaints about me about me, saying last night, “Talking Points submits that the conduct of NBC News is unprecedented in America.  With the exception of “The Today Show” and some individual NBC correspondents, the network has violated just about every journalistic standard.” 

Yes, that‘s him on May 22, 2008.  “For the first time ever, a political party may have a network news organization in its pocket.”  That was him on October 5th, 2007. 

I suppose will accept in its pocket, considering what part of the anatomy of the Republican party Fox News is in. 

The runner up, last night‘s winner, Senator Joe Lieberman.  We told you that despite Pastor John Hagee sermon that caused even Senator McCain to renounce his endorsement, the one about Hitler being heaven sent to cause the Holocaust to hunt the Jews so they would move back to Israel, Senator Lieberman will be sharing a stage with Hagee at one of Hagee‘s so-called Christians United for Israel for summits in July in Washington.  This afternoon, a statement from Senator Lieberman: “Hagee‘s comments are deeply unacceptable and hurtful.”  So, he is still going.  I would lapse into self-parity here, senator, and mock you, but obviously you are doing too good a job mocking yourself. 

But the winners tonight, Dunkin Donuts of Canton, Massachusetts.  We told you yesterday about this, the unbearable Rachel Ray in an ad for the donut and coffee chain, to which the lunatic fringe responded in an apoplexy of xenophobic paranoia, because that, that thing around her neck, that is not just a stupid scarf; they think that is what Yasser Arafat used to wear on his head.  See, it‘s jihadist chic.  Having already driven business to Dunkin Donuts by applauding its supposed stance in favor of tough immigration laws, the right threatened to boycott. 

So what did Dunkin Donuts do?  They folded.  They were as weak as their decaf.  “In a recent online ad, Rachel Ray is wearing a black and white scarf with a paisley design.  It was selected by her stylist for the advertising shoot.  Absolutely no symbolism was intended.  However, given the possibility of misperception, we are no longer using the commercial.” 

They pulled the ad because of the possibility of misperception by the right wing equivalents of jihadists, the people in this country who most closely share the mentality of the terrorists, who act the most like Middle Eastern nut jobs, who rail against diversity, try to murder dissent, and care more about flags than about people.  You know, the Michelle Malkins of the world.  You gave in to them because they merely mentioned the possibility of a boycott?  How about this, how about the rest of us boycott Dunkin Donuts for giving in to fascists like Michelle Malkin and for giving weight to perhaps the most absurd idea the lunatic fringers have ever belched forth, that there are terrorist scarves, terrorist scarves! 

Dunkin Donuts, time to stop buying the donuts, today‘s worst persons -terrorist scarves—in the world. 


OLBERMANN:  Dressed outlandishly, at heart much more concerned with the exotic clothing than the plot, often desperate for a date, standing in line for hours, even if it rains, to see the movie before anybody else does.  “Star Wars” fans?  Oh, no, no, no.  Those who are at the premiere last night of the “Sex and the City” movie.  Our number one story tonight, 2,000 decked out ticket holders though at a premiere all right, but no movie. 

As for the men who dread being dragged to the movie with their significant other, a survival guide from Paul F. Tompkins presently.  But first, New York City, hello.  The grand Radio City Music Hall, right around the corner here of MSNBC world headquarters.  Problem, organizers managed to overbook that 6,000 seat venue by up to 2,000 people, according to the “New York Daily News.”

They were told to go home.  There was nearly a riot.  Although, a woman from Singapore, who had bought a fake ticket for 19,000 dollars, they let her in.  Thus, the red carpet niceties from the sex stars took on new meanings. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Our goal is to please the fans.  It‘s why we made the movie.  We certainly worried a lot about them and what they would think and feel. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I hope that the New York audiences are happy with what we‘ve done and I hope they experience what we did in making it.  And I hope they know how grateful we are to their participation in ways they don‘t even realize. 


OLBERMANN:  Many of them not able to realize their participation did not include seeing a movie.  As promised now, comedian Paul F. Tompkins, also a regular contributor to VH-1‘s “Best Week Ever.”  Good to see you in person, again, sir.   

PAUL F. TOMPKINS, VH-1:  Good to see you, sir. 

OLBERMANN:  All right, so they missed by 2,000 seats in a 6,000 seat theater.  Scheduling disaster or what? 

TOMPKINS:  Sometimes when you eyeball things like that, you can‘t quite get a sense of it.  When new parents tell you their baby‘s weight and you aren‘t quite sure how to react. 

OLBERMANN:  Fifty four pounds.  Sorry, five pounds.  Some of the victims though say this was deliberate, that this was designed so there would be these great pictures, as we‘re seeing, of the lines around the block.  And then there were lines around the block.  Where did all these women scorned go after they got thrown out of the neighborhood? 

TOMPKINS:  It is always sad to see a mob without a Frankensteins to chase.  I think what happened was, given that these women, I‘m sure, were all in heels, is they just went and got drunk, which is what they were going to do anyway, but just two hours earlier. 

OLBERMANN:  So, it is tough to be a mob in high heels in Jimmy Choo‘s and such. 

TOMPKINS:  Yes, yes.  You‘d be better off chasing a mummy, I think.  

OLBERMANN:  Did you hear, by the way, what has happened to me, that I actually knew what the phrase Jimmy Choo means. 

TOMPKINS:  I‘m sorry for your loss. 

OLBERMANN:  I‘m finished.  Nineteen thousand dollars from a women from the Philippines. 

TOMPKINS:  Singapore. 

OLBERMANN:  Was that the worst scam, you suppose, connected to this whole outfit? 

TOMPKINS:  I can only hope that the ticket included airfare.  I think if you are willing to pay thousands of dollars to say you were there, right that‘s why you would pay all that money, I would present this as an option, lying. 

OLBERMANN:  It is cheaper. 


OLBERMANN:  The first options for the gentleman that we discussed this possibility—what if you are cornered into by someone who has taught you what Jimmy Choo‘s are—if you are cornered into saying, what do I do?  How do I get out of it?  What do I do?

TOMPKINS:  That‘s right.  If you are about to jump out of your Manolos (ph), then—I think that if you are with a woman who is insisting you go see this movie I think it is time to date someone else, because men are not meant to see this movie with women.  I should say, women are not meant to want to see this movie with men.  It spits in the face of the whole idea of the show, which is all our girlfriends are getting together to see this.  If you are with a woman who wants to see it with you, you should find your woman some friends.  She shouldn‘t be sitting there and saying, this show is just like me and no one. 

OLBERMANN:  I don‘t have three friends.  Or as the line from “Family Guy” goes, the show is about three hookers and their mom.  In other words, if you are the guy who is going there, you‘re also—the other prospect is that you are—you might as well have a plate around your head and a hole through the wall that you can put through and be stuffed and mounted like a deer head. 

TOMPKINS:  Exactly.  And let trusted people know your whereabouts. 

OLBERMANN:  What about—could you do the multiplex thing, where you take the woman to and then you go and watch Indiana Jones or something else? 

TOMPKINS:  Yes, absolutely.  Not just for this, I think any time you go to the multiplex, feel free to browse movies.  It‘s not like the ushers are going to stop you.  They‘re not shareholders in the company.  They don‘t care.  Wit this, if you are a dude and have already been disappointed by the Indiana Jones sequel, then seek out Pandemonium, because it may be animated.  It may be animals, but there is some martial arts. 

OLBERMANN:  And the last option here, is there a benefit to a guy who sits through this? 

TOMPKINS:  Let‘s face it, no, there are none.  You may think that you will get her to do some fun thing that you want to do. 

OLBERMANN:  Forget it. 

TOMPKINS:  Here‘s the thing, she is never going to play Grand Theft Auto Four with you, because as much as you can say, oh, “Sex and the City” is dumb, in your heart, you know that it is not really for you, but when she says Grand Theft Auto Four is dumb, in your heart, you know, it‘s dumb. 

OLBERMANN:  Paul F. Tompkins, comedian and contributor to VH-1‘s “Best Week Ever.”  Thank you, Paul. 

TOMPKINS:  I‘ll start the cosmos, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  That is COUNTDOWN for this, the 1,854th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq.  This reminder, a cable exclusive on COUNTDOWN tomorrow night, the former White House press secretary Scott McClellan joins me here this time tomorrow on COUNTDOWN. We will not talk about “Sex in the City.”  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.



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