Guests: Mack McLarty, Denis Horgan, Cyril Wecht
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Revisionist history: What the president said about rogue Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi on Tuesday doesn‘t quite agree with what he said with him in February.
Everybody agrees George Tenet jumped, unless he was pushed: What
might be the 400 page answer to that question,
Sixty years after, we begin our remembrance of D-Day with an ordinary sailor who was there and then turned out to be an extraordinary athlete and linguist.
YOGI BERRA, FORMER BASEBALL PLAYER: Well, being a young guy, I thought it was like fourth of July, to tell you the truth.
OLBERMANN: Yogi Berra and Winston Churchill? Tonight, together again for the first time.
And if you think our politicians are nuts, this is Japan‘s parliament, the Diet, debating Iraq? World peace? Nope. Pension reform, seriously.
All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Good evening. While evidence in the form of a scathing 400-page report from the Senate Intelligence Committee today suggest that if George Tenet jumped he jumped before he was going to be pushed. It‘s a pair of much briefer, but still pesky sound bytes one of which came to light today that have trapped Mr. Tenet‘s soon to be former boss in something of a pickle.
Our fifth story in the COUNTDOWN: What Ahmed Chalabi did the president know and when did he know him? As relations between this government and the former Pentagon pet in Iraq continued to sour this week, charges by Chalabi passed CIA intel onto Iraq. Charges by Chalabi that he‘d been set up by the CIA. While this continued to spiral downwards, President Bush tried to separate himself from Chalabi with a message that basically translated as, “Chalabi? Chalabi who?”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My meetings with him were very brief. I mean, I think I met with him at the State of the Union and just kind of working through the rope line. He might have come with a group of leaders, but I haven‘t had any extensive conversations with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That was on Tuesday in the Rose Garden, but 115 days earlier in the Oval Office Mr. Bush had implied a very different and anything but, very brief interaction with Mr. Chalabi. And not on a rope line, either.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM RUSSERT, “MEET THE PRESS”: If the Iraqis choose, however, an Islamic extremist regime? Would you accept that and would that be better for the united states than Saddam Hussein?
BUSH: They‘re not going to develop that and the reason I can say that is I‘m very aware of this basic law they‘re writing. They‘re not going to develop that because right here in the Oval Office I sat down with Pachachi and Chalabi and al-Haakim (ph), people from different different parts of the country that have made the firm commitment that they want a constitution eventually written that recognizes minority rights and freedom of religion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And last November, after his secret Thanksgiving trip to Baghdad, Mr. Bush told reporters that he met with and spoke with Chalabi there about the future of the Iraqi government. This afternoon a White House spokesman, Trent Duffey, tried to align these three statements, thusly. Quoting here:
“Mr. Chalabi is a member of the Interim Governing Council. The president met with many members of the Interim Governing Council, that is the principle contact and that‘s why Mr. Chalabi was sitting with the First Lady during the Stat of the Union. It wasn‘t Mr. Chalabi himself, it was other members of the Iraqi Governing Council, as well. I think a lot of that has been lost.”
Mr. Bush, who spent the day in Rome, met with the pope, not meet with the tens of thousands of Italian protesters, also did not offer any self-contradictions about how well he knew George Tenet, who abruptly resigned yesterday as the director of Central Intelligence. More light on Mr. Tenet‘s possible motive in a moment.
The president tendered the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the Pope John Paul II. The pope tendered him a none-too-subtle hint urging a “speedy return of Iraq‘s sovereignty and the participation of the international community and particularly the United Nations Organization,” end quote. Mr. Bush would have no doubt much preferred some postcards.
Certainly the papal visit was a sight better than the streets of Rome where tall black metal gates, paramilitary jeeps and trucks blocked the main route to the Piazza Venezia at the heart of the capitol. Protesters got to within a few yards of the residence of Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, but not very close to the president himself. No major injuries reported. Two police out of about 10,000 were hit with rocks. Protesters claimed there were 150,000 in number there. Police say closer to 25,000.
Back at home the operative figure about George Tenet may be 400. That is the number of pages in a classified document presented to the CIA last month by the Senate Intelligence Committee, in which that committee made it clear it was not happy, so reports the “New York Times” which also quotes government sources and some close to Mr. Tenet who say that among his personal reasons for resigning as director, were his personal reactions to the committees diatribe. A senior intelligence official, however, told the newspaper that Mr. Tenet had not read the Senate report, had not been briefed on it, had not quit in anticipation of its public disclosure. He called the idea “bunk.”
The “Times” quote said recently retired intelligence officials who had seen the report saying it chastised the CIA for quote, “Some real errors of omission and commission and it‘s not going to be a pretty picture,” unquote.
While the jumped or pushed debate continues, another one surfaces:
Does Tenet‘s departure signal the official start of George Bush‘s breaking up of that old gang of his? The four key members of administration‘s foreign policy team could all be gone by January of next year, even presuming Mr. Bush‘s re-election. Secretary of State Colin Powell has quietly, but publicly, broken with the administration on several key points including his own admission to his own culpability for the factually flawed pre-war address to the United Nations about Iraq.
Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld was in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for a second term, anyway. And the grimness of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal may have precluded that. And today‘s “Washington Post” adds a third name. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and the paper reports has, quote, “made it clear she will depart at the end of the current term.”
Joining us now to talk about the risk of a hemorrhage, if you will, in the White House, former White House chief of staff for President Clinton, Mack McLartly.
Mr. McLarty, thanks for some of your time tonight.
MACK MCLARTY, FMR. CLINTON CHIEF OF STAFF: Keith, glad to be here.
OLBERMANN: Is there any validity to the suggestion, as was foraged together in several newspapers, today that the Tenet resignation could have the proverbial domino effect on resignations in the administration?
MCLARTY: I‘m sure the administration hopes there‘s no soundness in that point of view, but I think you‘re going to see it in print and hear it on shows like yours and other forums in the weeks to come.
OLBERMANN: Whether or not Mr. Tenet left entirely for his family, as he stated, or for his family because he knew the Senate Intelligence Committee report would blast him, or if he left because the Senate Intelligence Committee is now going to do another report on his family. Whatever the motive was, his departure does clear a problem off the presidential horizon, does it not? Is it not better for Mr. Bush to say, at some point in the future, or whatever the controversy might be, “oh, that was the old CIA director who doesn‘t work here anymore?”
MCLARTY: Keith, I think you can read either way. I think, really, the question here is the administration‘s management of the Iraqi situation and really winning the peace and the lack of planning and, of course, all the intelligence issues that you alluded to earlier. So I‘m not sure that this resignation and I take director Tenet at his word in terms of personal reasons. I think when his term was looked at in perspective he‘ll be judged in a much more favorable light than perhaps he is today. Because I think he did a lot of very positive thing, although there were clearly breakdowns. But I‘m sure this is a positive for the president, Keith, and the administration, particularly with the political process already begun, it seems.
MCLARTY: Is that because there can be the perception that one way or another, a president who is campaigning for re-election on wartime leadership and national security is either firing or getting quit on by perhaps as many as four of his top wartime and national security people?
MCLARTY: I think it‘s really clearly say direct correlation to the management of the Iraqi transition, and I think it‘s going to hinge, in the coning weeks, how that transition goes. I very much hope that the interim government, begins to take shape and hold and is accountable for the action. Ambassador Negroponte is a very skilled diplomat and strong leader. But I think that‘s going to be real test, Keith, in the coming weeks, and therefore, you have kind of a cumulative effect, starting with the weapons of mass destruction, the Chalabi issue, which you mentioned earlier. These things start to mount up over time and I think that‘s what leads to this feeling by the American people and from an international stand point: Is this process being managed correctly?
OLBERMANN: Mack McLarty, former chief of staff at the White House under President Clinton.
Many thanks for your insight, sir. Have a good weekend.
MCLARTY: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The first name to pop up as possible new CIA chief was Porter Goss, the soon to retire Florida congressman, and former CIA agent.
But another name was thrown up against the wall today, former New York City
mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Whether Giuliani‘s candidacy is the real thing or
a trial balloon on his path or just a way to sell hometown newspapers,
you‘ll have to figure out, the story of insider‘s are also talking up
Giuliani, appears in the “New York Post.” The only quote is from the
Giuliani spokesperson talking about the former mayor‘s commitments to his
consulting firm and the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign. The only other
reference is to a quote, “groundswell of support” for Giuliani. The “Post”
identifying neither the geography of the ground nor the amount of the swelling.
Former Mayor Giuliani has not been called to testify in defense of the guards at Abu Ghraib Prison, but as the fifth story winds it‘s way back to Iraq, it seems as if he‘s the only one who as not.
Private 1st Class Lynndie England, scheduled for her preliminary hearing at Fort Bragg two weeks from next Tuesday, has asked that two prominent government officials testify on her behalf, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney. Ms. England‘s attorneys say the full witness list contained more than 130 people and that Rumsfeld and Cheney would be there to prove that Private England was simply following orders. No comment from the Pentagon or the vice president‘s office.
COUNTDOWN underway tonight with the No. 5 story: All the president‘s men and some women, too. Up next, how the current situation in Iraq is said to inspire national hope in a horse. And that‘s, of course, something, right there.
Then later, he may have gotten away with the jewels but left behind his print, actually no prints, just finger. Owie, owie, owie.
OLBERMANN: A horse that narrowly escaped with its life last year, now on the brink of winning the Triple Crown, maybe. No. 4 on the COUNTDOWN, whether or not it means anything is next.
OLBERMANN: No sport promotes itself like horse racing. The same animal wins a race called the Kentucky Derby and another one called the Preakness; suddenly visions of something called the Triple Crown are induced in every American‘s head. That nine such horses have won both races in the last 25 years, yet failed to win the last of the races, the Belmont Stakes, is conveniently and almost annually forgotten.
Our fourth story in the COUNTDOWN: The hype for a horse called
“Smarty Jones” whose wins at the Derby and the Preakness has not only
inspired the usual Triple Crown hype, but induced an “Associated Press”
sports writer to froth at the mouth and claim that the horse is, quote, “a
delicious diversion just when Americans are desperate for good news to off-
set bad times. Smarty Jones comes along amid turmoil in Iraq and as the
nation sorts through the lingering affects of September 11”
It‘s a horse! It‘s a frigging horse. Of course, of course. Good story, as horses go, I‘ll give you that. Here‘s Melissa Stark.
ANNOUNCER: And they‘re off.
MELISSA STARK, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It started at the Kentucky Derby.
ANNOUNCER: And here‘s the first undefeated winner of the Kentucky Derby since Seattle Slew.
STARK: The legend grew at the Preakness.
ANNOUNCER: Here is Smarty Jones, he wins the Preakness by a dozen lengths!
STARK: Now the public has jumped on the Smarty bandwagon and the Chestnut colt from Philadelphia has become the talk of the nation.
PAT CHAPMAN, SMARTY JONES‘ OWNER: People are flocking to this horse, they just love him and it‘s a wonderful feeling. The fan mail we‘re getting...
ROY CHAPMAN, SMARTY JONES‘ OWNER: Yeah.
P. CHAPMAN: ...is unbelievable.
STARK: But, why has everyone become so enamored with this little horse?
PAT SERVIS, SMARTY JONES‘ TRAINER: I think the timing for this horse has been very good—you know, with the war in Iraq, and it gets to the point where you don‘t want to read the front page, you go right to the sports page. I think it‘s a good time for, not only Pennsylvania, but the whole United States.
STARK: To a nation weary of news about war and inflation, Smarty Jones has offered that thing Americans love best, a winner. It hearkens back to 1977. A black colt, Seattle Slew, was running toward immortally.
BILLY TURNER, JR., SEATTLE SLEW‘S TRAINER: In times of war people flock to things like this. It‘s just the American way. It‘s a distraction, I guess. There‘s a sense of hope, they want to see a winner and this is a winner.
STARK: Slew was an unparalleled success, becoming the only horse to win a Triple Crown with an undefeated record. If he wins on Saturday, Smarty Jones would become the second.
TURNER: The mystique of an undefeated horse is there. It sort of makes people sit up and take notice.
STARK: The odds are long, 19 other horses who won the Derby and Preakness have failed to capture the top prize at Belmont. Called the true test of a champion, it‘s mile and a half track is the longest of the three races, upping the stakes.
STARK (on camera): Everybody talks about the pressure.
TURNER: Pressure is something that is self-induced, what could I be overlooking that could happen? All those things are going through your mind all the time and you just hope you won‘t have to face them.
STARK: Does Smarty Jones sense the pressure?
TURNER: I‘m sure he doesn‘t. Race day is race day and in between, I don‘t really think he senses it.
STARK (voice-over): With little more than a day to go, the question now: Can Smarty Jones joins Seattle Slew and become only the 12th horse to capture the elusive Triple Crown?
TOM DURKIN, NBC SPORTS: They do have that one thing, the most important thing any Thoroughbred can have, and that is the will to win.
STARK: Melissa Stark, NBC News, New York.
OLBERMANN: The fourth story, the hope for the Triple Crown.
Tomorrow, only 10 times is 25 years, how can we bear the excitement?
Up next, democracy in action: Nothing like a civil war about pension plans, “Oddball” next.
And later, settling scores and renewing friendships in France: Tom Brokaw, President Jacques Chirac, and Winston Churchill and Yogi Berra all in a 10-minute slice of COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: We‘re back and we pause the COUNTDOWN now, for the strange stories and cool video that make up America‘s favorite weird news segment. Let‘s play “Oddball.”
And if you thought politics in our country were getting ugly, you
ain‘t seen nothin‘, pal. Time for some good old fashioned Japanese
filibustering. This is the floor of the countries parliament, the Diet,
and the topic at hand, that which has rent nations asunder for centuries,
unpopular pension reform. The opposition of the bill realized it did not
have enough votes to stop it, so it tried to stop the vote it with fists of
fury. And look at the reaction there at the podium. Thanks for jumping in
boys. Order was finally restored and the opposition then tried a new tact
· eat up the clock by taking tiny little steps to the voting box when each of their names was called. We have no video of that tactic because it just wasn‘t as exciting as the fighting, or that guy.
Tragedy turning into dark comedy in Orlando area, at least three people have died there, recently after they were hit by police tazers, so the county sheriff allowed himself to be zapped on local TV live, 50,000 volts passing through Kevin Berry, briefly. Only our NBC affiliate, WESH, has the presence of mind to hook the sheriff up to an electrocardiogram monitor. We‘re proud as a peacock.
So is the sheriff, he says, quote, “it‘s a great tool...zzz...for law enforcement...zzz...it‘s an effective tool for law enforcement...zzz...it sure is better than...zzz...using a baton or metal stock on...zzz...somebody‘s bones...zzz...”
Well, sheriff, you could just wait for the criminals to do something really, really stupid like this guy in Kansas City, Kansas. This is a smash and grab at a jewelry store. One of the drawbacks of the smash and grab is the smash. One of the perpetrators, say police, did too much smashing. He sliced off the very, very tip of one of his fingers. He didn‘t just leave a fingerprint, he left the fingerprint. He confessed at the hospital emergency room where he was gushing blood.
And 25 years ago as a senior in college I saw a sight, that in memory, still makes my blood run cold. Frat boys racing office chairs downhill onto a main drag, off a blind intersection. One of them explained gaily, “we‘re considered pedestrians; we have the right of way.” The never found him. This is not quiet as bad, but it uses some of the same props: the 4th Annual Office Chair Hockey Tournament. One of these teams is called the “Oompa Loompa” which will either hearken back to a fond memory from your childhood or make you realize the racism inherent in Ronaldo‘s creation of those characters. Probably builds up the legs even better than does real skating. It was for a good cause, 20,000 bucks for autism research around Phoenix. And they have converted the office copying machine into a giant Zambonie ice resurfacer.
We‘ll screech out of “Oddball” and back to the COUNTDOWN first thing, next. Remembering the heroes of D-Day, including the man who went on to became a hero in baseball and on Bartlett‘s Quotations.
Then later, the great mouse mystery of Newport News, Virginia, and the animal autopsy that reveals the truth. Those stories ahead, first here are COUNTDOWN‘s “Top 3 Newsmakers” of this day:
No. 3: The frustrated motorists and citizens of Bacasi (ph), Indonesia. They are fed up, fed up with the potholes on Parguongon (ph) Avenue. They have protested by planting, in some of the potholes, banana trees and releasing in others catfish and baby eels. Remember, pedestrians, while in Bacasi, cross at the light.
No. 2: Students at River Heights Elementary School in Utah, after eight years of collecting them, they have now accumulated one million pennies. They, of course, now have thrown them all away because one million pennies are worth $8.
And No. 1: Joseph Qatato, equipment manager of the Indiana Pacers basketball team, arrested at a Michigan hotel, accused of posing in front of his window naked. Guess that‘s why they called him the equipment manager.
OLBERMANN: One of the unrecognized things about history is that it‘s flexible.
Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, on the very eve of the 60th anniversary of D-Day, there is a new development from the Normandy coast tonight. It is not earth-shattering. It is not monumental, but it adds just one more piece to the jigsaw puzzle of our understanding of the events of 1944 that were earth-shattering and monumental. They have dug up parts of a downed U.S. aircraft. Farmers near Le Caude (ph), near the town of Le Zier (ph) have discovered the wreckage of the plane piloted by American Rudolph Algardem (ph), shot down on June 10, ‘44, by the Germans.
Algardem survived and was cared for and hidden by another local farmer. The two had actually tried to find and excavate the plane, without success. The ruins literally unearthed today will go on display at the Museum at Wiestreham, (ph) alongside the remnants of a German fighter plane.
Less than 36 hours now until the formal commemoration centered on Colves Sumer (ph), the French defense minister confirming that 15,000 troops will be there, not for remembrance, but for security. Another 15,000 on standby in the event of trouble. All told, one million visitors worldwide are expected to be there over the weekend, including the chancellor of the other country liberated that day, Germany.
We‘ve already seen the likes of Tom Brokaw and Joe Scarborough, as MSNBC now begins “D-Day at 60: A Celebration of Heroes,” special coverage of the anniversary throughout this weekend, which we begin here with two of the most famous names of World War II, Winston Churchill and Yogi Berra.
The baseball great was one of the ordinary sailors escorting the amphibious personnel carriers on to Omaha Beach. We‘ll hear from him in a moment.
First, there is that legendary name, Churchill. The British prime minister never missed an opportunity to remind anyone who asked and many who did not that he was half American. His mother was from New York.
Churchill‘s grandson, Winston S. Churchill, has followed many of his grandfather‘s paths, author, historian, and an Englishman who is half American. He has a home in Florida. He was only 4 years old on D-Day, but his grandfather lived until he was 25. And thus he had much to tell us in his own words, especially about the prime minister‘s dreams of leading the assault on Normandy, literally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINSTON S. CHURCHILL, GRANDSON OF WINSTON CHURCHILL: One aspect which I don‘t think too many people know about was that Winston Churchill was utterly determined to be in the front wave of the D-Day attack. He wanted to be on a British battleship bombarding the German coastal defenses.
And General Eisenhower begged to differ. The last thing he needed or wanted was to have the prime minister in a position of danger. There is a wonderful correspondence between the two. And at one point, my grandfather is replying, I‘m not aware that even the supreme allied commander has it in his power to decide who should or should not form part of the crew of one of his majesty‘s ships, and I intend to ship myself on board as a sailor.
Exasperated, Eisenhower finally and very sensibly consulted my grandmother to say, I need your help on this one. My grandfather was deeply concerned about the scale of casualties that might from launching 150,000 men day one against Hitler‘s much vaunted Atlantic wall. And in fact when my grandmother dropped by the map room at 10 Downing Street just at the very moment that the first British and American paratroopers were making their landings in Normandy, he turned very gravely to her and said, my dear, by the time you wake up in the morning, 20,000 young men could be dead.
But in fact, mercifully, it wasn‘t as bad as that. He once said that he was half American, but wholly British. And I think both statements were absolutely true. He was enormously proud of his American blood and his American heritage. He put the highest priority on relations between Britain and the United States. By ourselves, we couldn‘t liberate occupied Europe and defeat Nazi Germany.
So long as we stood foursquare shoulder to shoulder, there was no challenge, no obstacle, no danger that we couldn‘t surmount.
OLBERMANN: It is doubtful that the elder Winston Churchill ever learned that of the 150,000 ordinary fighting men sent to surmount the challenge, the obstacle, the danger, the one who would become the most famous in this country was a kid from the Italian section of Saint Louis, just turned 19 years old.
Manning one of the rocket launchers on a Navy LCSS, landing craft support small, so wet behind the yeas that his lieutenant had to tell him to stop standing straight up or he would get his head blown up, was Seaman 1st Class Lorenzo Pietra Berra (ph), or, as he would become known to the history of baseball and to the use of the English language, Yogi Berra.
OLBERMANN: Everybody I know who fought in that war is pretty modest, and not modest necessarily about what everybody did, but what each person did, as if it was no big deal.
YOGI BERRA, WORLD WAR II VETERAN: Well, maybe I might have been more talkative about it if I was in the Army, if I had really seen the real gunfight.
OLBERMANN: Blood and guts, yes?
BERRA: Now I sit and I thank the good lord I was in the Navy. We ate good, clean clothes, clean bed. You see some of these Army men, what they went through, that‘s the one I felt for.
OLBERMANN: But you were part of it. Nonetheless, you were
BERRA: No, I never went on land, though.
OLBERMANN: Yogi and I spoke about D-Day, something he does not often discuss, for half an hour. Much of the rest of that conversation in our special D-Day edition of COUNTDOWN, tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m., part of “D-Day at 60: A Celebration of Heroes” here on MSNBC.
Yogi Berra, like most of the other American veterans of D-Day, has an honor from the French government, the Medal De Jubilee (ph). That was typical of relations between this country and that one from that time of our revolution through 9/11. And then it all went horribly wrong.
But we are on the eve of a round number anniversary of the day we saved them, as opposed to the day they saved us during our revolution. Thus, it was a fitting day for Tom Brokaw to sit down at length with the president of France, Jacques Chirac.
TOM BROKAW, NBC ANCHOR (voice-over): President Chirac wanted to limit the interview to D-Day observations, but he understood it‘s impossible to separate the present from the past.
JACQUES CHIRAC, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): Now, as
ever and as in family, there might be difficulties, diverging views, but
unity is something that‘s never been questioned, at least never been called
into question by France. And I don‘t it has ever been called into question
by the U.S. either.
Now, of course, on specific items, on specific issues, we may have different approaches, different understandings. And amongst friends, it is only normal that we should say it and say it clearly. This being said, we now share a common goal, and that is restoring the security and stability of Iraq.
BROKAW (on camera): Sixty years from now, do you think that we‘ll be celebrating the 120th anniversary of D-Day together and 60 years of democracy and freedom in Iraq?
CHIRAC (through translator): Let us hope so. I hope so.
But there is one trap we mustn‘t fall into. In the distant past, there were conditions of context in which a confrontation between the Christian West and the Muslim East was established, and we must try and avoid that, for indeed that would be the worst situation.
BROKAW: What would you like to hear President Bush say in his speech in Normandy on the D-Day anniversary?
CHIRAC (through translator): Of course, I can‘t prejudge what the president might say.
BROKAW: What would you like to him say?
CHIRAC (through translator): I hope that he will say that we are all part of the same family. And as in any families there might be differences, disagreements. So what we have to do is establish some kind of governance and make sure that dialogue will replace confrontation. We must understand that war never leads to a positive settlement of human difficulties. There are always scars that are left after the end of war.
BROKAW: Thank you, Mr. President.
CHIRAC: I just want to say at the end that the only message I would like to remain of our talk is the following. France says thank you to the Americans, and that they will not forget what they have done 60 years ago. And that is very, very important in our minds and in our hearts.
OLBERMANN: The president of France, Jacques Chirac, with Tom Brokaw.
Story No. 2 up next. Just how much have you been paying attention this week? Just how much how I have been paying attention this week? We‘ll find out in the weekly COUNTDOWN quiz, including questions on this brand-new film. Can you name it?
Later, proof that not all child stars end up as troubled adults proffered by one of the young stars from this sitcom. Talk about quizzes.
OLBERMANN: Next up, the weekly humiliation segment we like to call “What Have We Learned?” where I get grilled on the week‘s news and you get to say, even my cat knew that one.
OLBERMANN: It is a tradition as old as last week itself.
Our No. 2 story on the COUNTDOWN, our second weekly current events quiz, direct from the MSNBC Web site, designed to see if you have absorbed anything from this show that we all slave over every night and also designed to see how stupid I can make myself look. As the great Linda Ellerbee once put it, live TV is a terrific time saver. It allows you to humiliate yourself in front of thousands of people all at once, instead of one at a time.
Let‘s play the quiz.
ANNOUNCER: “What Have We Learned?”
OLBERMANN: Now I turn it over to our genial quiz master for “What Have We Learned?” this week, COUNTDOWN senior producer and the second choice to Ryan Seacrest to host “American Idol,” Denis Horgan.
DENIS HORGAN, COUNTDOWN SENIOR PRODUCER: That‘s true.
Denis, good evening.
HORGAN: Thank you, Keith. Good evening.
What did we learn last week. The quiz was too damn long.
OLBERMANN: Yes, sir.
HORGAN: Tonight, we have an abbreviated version of the COUNTDOWN quiz. You at home can take the whole thing, plus the “Harry Potter” bonus quiz on our Web site at COUNTDOWN.MSNBC.com.
HORGAN: But for Keith tonight, we have five questions from the quiz, followed by the one-minute lightning round.
Are you ready?
OLBERMANN: Yes, because we‘re down from 10 and the interminable length of time the thing took last week.
HORGAN: That‘s right.
HORGAN: This should be less painless.
OLBERMANN: So the first question has already been solved. How long was it going to take? A lot less than last week. OK.
HORGAN: Give him one point.
OLBERMANN: Go ahead.
HORGAN: Are you ready?
HORGAN: No. 1, seeking to step away from the public arena this week, who joked, don‘t call me, I‘ll call you?
OLBERMANN: Nelson Mandela.
HORGAN: That is correct.
OLBERMANN: One for five.
HORGAN: Question two, what memento from the war in Iraq does President Bush currently keep in his White House office?
OLBERMANN: The gun that was found where they were looking for the
weapons of mass destruction, the gun that was found in Saddam Hussein‘s
HORGAN: Spider hole, yes.
OLBERMANN: In the spider hole. The first one was a joke, Denis.
Laugh it up here, boy.
HORGAN: I got it. It was funny, too. I‘m sorry.
OLBERMANN: OK, the auditions for next week‘s host will be beginning in a moment.
HORGAN: Question three.
HORGAN: Which nation‘s representative won this year‘s Miss Universe Pageant?
OLBERMANN: Bongo in the Congo.
HORGAN: Oh, I‘m terribly sorry.
OLBERMANN: I thought they canceled it. Wasn‘t it supposed to be one of the Jackson brothers and they threw him out?
HORGAN: It was Miss Australia that won.
OLBERMANN: Miss Australia is one of the Jackson brothers?
HORGAN: What, have you missed out this week?
OLBERMANN: I missed that.
HORGAN: Question four, which musician admitted to using heroin in his lifetime, but thought cocaine was better.
OLBERMANN: We didn‘t cover this.
HORGAN: We may have covered this. The rest of us covered this.
OLBERMANN: Which musician?
HORGAN: That‘s correct.
OLBERMANN: David Bowie?
HORGAN: Paul McCartney. I‘m sorry.
OLBERMANN: We didn‘t cover it.
HORGAN: Although David Bowie may have.
OLBERMANN: He did not want to express an opinion.
HORGAN: Question five, the final question here.
OLBERMANN: Got to get over .500 here.
HORGAN: Who was named Iraq‘s new prime minister?
HORGAN: How much as sunk in?
OLBERMANN: Oh, it was Illawa was his last name. He is a cleric leader, a Shia. And he is sheik, sheik, sheik.
HORGAN: I‘m sorry. The judges
HORGAN: It is Allawi.
OLBERMANN: Allawi. Oh, the prime minister. I was going for the president, yes.
OLBERMANN: Oh, I didn‘t hear you right. So I think that one counts.
HORGAN: Unfortunately, the is two of five, 2 ½ if you count that ridiculous phony answer at the end.
But are you ready now? We‘re going to have the lightning round.
OLBERMANN: It wasn‘t a phony answer.
HORGAN: As many questions as you can answer.
OLBERMANN: There‘s a picture of Michael Gambon over my shoulder suddenly.
HORGAN: Well, then, that‘s the answer to the question. Start the clock for the lightning round. Are you ready?
Go. All right, who has taking over the role of Dumbledore in the new “Harry Potter” movie?
OLBERMANN: Michael Gambon.
HORGAN: That is correct.
OLBERMANN: Great actor. Great actor.
HORGAN: Which of following is not a character in that movie, Hermione, Hagrid or Geraldo?
HORGAN: That is correct.
OLBERMANN: He was in another movie that‘s almost as believable as the “Potter films.
HORGAN: What was the winning word at this year‘s Scripps Howard spelling bee?
OLBERMANN: Keep going.
HORGAN: How many people were injured in the U.K.‘s annual cheese roll?
OLBERMANN: How many were injured?
OLBERMANN: All of them.
OLBERMANN: All of them. Oh, come on.
HORGAN: How big was the hunk of cheese?
OLBERMANN: The hunk of cheese is seven feet in diameter?
HORGAN: Seven pounds.
OLBERMANN: Seven pounds.
HORGAN: What was the favorite movie of Patrick the gorilla at the Dallas Zoo?
HORGAN: “The O‘Reilly Factor.” We will accept that answer, but it was “The Little Mermaid.”
OLBERMANN: Oh, it was “The Little Mermaid,” yes.
HORGAN: What is odd about the new Francis Ford Coppola wine collection that is named for his daughter Sofia?
OLBERMANN: She was terrible in “Godfather III.”
HORGAN: It comes in a can.
What will be the next year cicadas reemerge in the United States?
OLBERMANN: This group or any group?
HORGAN: Next year, next time they will be here.
OLBERMANN: Three years from now.
OK, and what is the sound that cicada makes.
OLBERMANN: No, no, three years from now. There‘s another group coming out three years from now. You are wrong.
HORGAN: All right, we‘re going to have to go to the judges on that, but it‘s actually 2021, the next 17 years.
OLBERMANN: This group is 17 years from now. That‘s why I said this group or any other group.
HORGAN: Always difficult.
All right. Well, we give you a prize anyway with five lousy answers.
OLBERMANN: Five total right?
HORGAN: Five total in the whole thing, a genuine cicada that we found crawling around outside the MSNBC studios, chewing away at Lester Holt‘s car.
OLBERMANN: Well, I‘m sorry. I‘m sorry. I‘ve exceeded my number of Bill O‘Reilly jokes for the show.
Thank you, Denis Horgan.
HORGAN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: And remember, everyone wins the home version of the game. You can take the whole quiz, not the lightning round, but the rest of it, on our Web site, also the special “Harry Potter” quiz. We should have had more “Harry Potter” questions. And sign up for our newsletter at COUNTDOWN.MSNBC.com.
So tune in next time, if there is a next time. And, clearly, there will not be one for Denis Horgan or the judge for another edition of:
ANNOUNCER: “What Have We Learned?”
OLBERMANN: Five total, two disputed.
And the early front-runner to make next week‘s quiz from the celebrity meets tragedy meets audacity division leads—what? -- oh—leads our nightly roundup of the freak show that is fame. We call it “Keeping Tabs.”
And the infamous butler to the late Princess Diana, Paul Burrell, is back in the news. No, he is not pilfering Diana‘s letters, nor Buckingham Palace knickknacks. This time, he is headed to Broadway. “Paul Burrell:
In His Own Words” will premiere in London June 20, then go to New York to the Town Hall Theater on the 24th. Paul Burrell, he will take questions from the audience and also their wallets, rings and personal correspondence.
And update on a story we brought you last night, that of two former child sitcom stars, Brian Bonsall of “Family Ties” and Zachery Ty Bryan of “Home Improvement,” in trouble with the law. We inducted them into the Corey Feldman Hall of Fame. Yes, we made fun. Yes, we heard about it.
This is Benjamin Salisbury. He, God bless him, is a fan of the show. He TiVos it. He‘s also a former child star. He played Brighton Sheffield during the six-year run of the sitcom “The Nanny.” Mr. Salisbury was upset with our gross generalization. He sent us a very good-natured e-mail addressing his concerns, used his own life as a way of illustrating our error.
Quoting him here: “I graduated magna cum laude from American University. My parents stole none of my money. I never robbed a liquor store. And I worked for several politicians on Capitol Hill.”
Well, Ben, three out of four ain‘t bad. Capitol Hill? Seriously, thanks for writing. Congrats on not just surviving, but thriving.
Tonight‘s top story, catching con men with a postmouse-um is next.
We‘ll explain it.
OLBERMANN: And so to our top story on the COUNTDOWN tonight. It began as an innocent Mother‘s Day weekend lunch, Ricky Patterson and his mother, Carla. It has ended as a case for “CSI: House of Mouse.”
The Pattersons were dining at a local Cracker Barrel restaurant in Newport News, Virginia, when, mom said, she noticed something in her vegetable soup other than, say, carrots. As the restaurant cleared out at the sounds of Mr. Patterson‘s blood-curdling screams, the problem became clear. Garcon, there‘s a mouse in my soup.
But the story does not end there. Mrs. Patterson saw a mouse. The restaurant folks smelled a rat. They launched an investigation, including a postmortem on the mouse. In a moment, why that postmortem led to what followed next, a sting.
The Pattersons agreed to turn over digital photos of the alleged rodent in exchange for $500,000. And they were arrested, charged with attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit a felony. The mouse was not what it seemed. The Pattersons say they were framed, but that autopsy says something else. It revealed these terrible weird truths. There was a mouse in the soup, but no soup in the mouse. It should have died of suffocation or of being cooked.
In fact, cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head by means of mousetrap.
We turn now to one of America‘s most prominent forensic pathologists, a student of the Kennedy assassination, an expert on the O.J. Simpson and JonBenet Ramsey cases, Dr. Cyril Wecht.
Dr. Wecht, good evening again. Welcome back.
DR. CYRIL WECHT, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Yes, thanks. I‘m trying to remember the last dozen or so mice autopsies I have done to see if I have had any like this.
OLBERMANN: Presuming you haven‘t, though, is this the craziest pathology story you have ever heard?
WECHT: Well, it is fantastic. And I‘m fascinated by the blunt force trauma being attributed to a mousetrap, because how do they know it wasn‘t the woman crunching on the mouse‘s head as she bit into it. She might have thought it was just a bone floating around in the soup.
Then they also talked about the fact I think that mouse did show no evidence of thermal injury, burns. Well, as I understand it, the soup is packaged and comes into Cracker Barrel. How do they know when the mouse got in? Maybe it just got in at the last couple of seconds. Insofar as no soup in the lungs, sometimes, we don‘t find water in the lungs in drowning cases. But you get laryngeal spasm. Maybe this mouse had laryngeal spasm.
I would have to know more about the credentials of the guy that did this autopsy before I would pass judgment. I don‘t know. I might be retained as a defendant in the case. I better watch how much I say.
OLBERMANN: Just what you need.
So there‘s a chance perhaps that the mouse was—if the mouse was already dead when he fell into the soup originally, could those have been the results of the autopsy?
WECHT: Oh, sure, if he was already dead. I‘m not suggesting that these findings which have been reported do not suggest that the mouse was already dead. I‘m just saying that there could be alternative explanations. I don‘t know, in as much as I checked my forensic science literature, including from several foreign countries and I couldn‘t find any references to mice autopsies and blunt force trauma to the head. But I‘ll keep looking, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Do you get the sense that I do that, with the success of those “CSI” TV shows and the one about the coroner on NBC and everything on Court TV and all the other cable networks that we may have gotten a little pathology obsessed in this country in the last 10 or 20 years?
WECHT: Well, yes, but that is good for me as a forensic pathologist. I‘m not going to complain about business, right, any more than you would complain about TV coming into everybody‘s living room. It is great. It is a marvelous way to make a living, right? But I think Cracker Barrel deserves a lot of credit for pursuing this, really. Their reputation was being tarnished tremendously.
OLBERMANN: Do we think that we could then be heading in this society to a place where we start doing forensic examinations of bad haircuts or when your shirt comes back from the cleaner and it‘s smaller?
How about this? A guy comes in. His wife says, I think I smell some perfume. If she‘s got money, she could submit it to a forensics science lab, have it tested, and then check it against his secretary or some woman and so on to see whose it is. Or how about a thread or a hair on your husband‘s collar? He says, I don‘t know, honey. I was just sitting next to this woman in the subway or so on? And you check it and then get a DNA analysis and you find out it is the secretary.
WECHT: So, if you have got money and the DNA expertise is out there, man, there no end in sight.
OLBERMANN: No limit.
A forensic pathologist in every pot.
Dr. Cyril Wecht, I must say, as silly as it is to be talking to you about a mouse postmortem, it is nice to be talking to you about something that isn‘t life or death.
Thank you, sir.
WECHT: Thanks. Thank you. Bye-bye.
OLBERMANN: Of course, it was life or death for the mouse.
Let‘s recap the five COUNTDOWN stories, the ones we think you‘ll be talking about tomorrow.
No. 5, how well did the president actually know Ahmad Chalabi? On Tuesday, he described brief meetings in rope lines. In February, he described important meetings. Last November, he talked with him in Iraq. Four, the Triple Crown attempt, Smarty Jones going for the racing world—ah, it is horse. Three, heroes of D-Day, 60 years later, the world preparing to honor the brave servicemen whose sacrifice led to a free Europe. Coverage throughout the weekend here on MSNBC.
Two, the weekly COUNTDOWN news quiz rigged, as usual, against me. You can test yourself on COUNTDOWN.MSNBC.com, all of them. And, No. 1, the great mouse in my Mother‘s Day soup mystery solved by performing an autopsy on a dead rodent.
That‘s COUNTDOWN. Thanks for being part of it. I‘m Keith Olbermann.
Good night. Oh, never mind with the paper. Good luck, cicada fans.
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