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Countdown to 'Countdown'

Simultaneous 'Countdown' of the top news stories exclusively  at Countdown.msnbc.com
MSNBC

Al-Qaida arrest — Well — we got 'im!  Abu Farraj al-Libbi, finally tracked down and captured after a fire-fight in Northwestern Pakistan.    Just one question.  Who in the hell is Abu Farraj al-Libbi?  He was picked up and interrogated and triangulated among the spies, the military, and the Pakistanis.  We are now told by U.S. counter-terrorism officials that he is the no. 3 man in Al-Qaida.  And if anybody knows exactly where Osama Bin Laden is, it could be Al-Libbi.  The number two man in Al-Qaeda is supposed to still be Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Bride bidders — They are putting up the pedestal and finalizing the wording for the Jennifer Wilbanks plaque in the .   But while we think we know when she'll say something (4 p.m. ET at the Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville, Georgia) we are not sure by what she plans on saying, verbal or written.  And judging by the statement today from her , we cannot even be sure of how apologetic she'll actually be.  We do know that some of the guests she invited to her wedding-that-never-was... aren't in a forgiving mood — they're in an eBay mood.

William & Mary rescue — The alarms in the dorm didn't go off.  And 70 students at the .  They were saved because ordinary people went room-to-room, floor to floor, banging on doors and making sure everybody got out.  At one in the afternoon, almost any day of the week, Preston Hall at the college of William and Mary, would likely be empty.  But this is the week before finals.  The three-story structure was filled with students, studying.  Fire broke out in the attic, away from the smoke detectors.  So no alarms sounded.  It could've been catastrophic.  But quick-thinking and unselfish students and building housekeepers saw smoke billowing from vents near the roof. They went room-to-room -- pounding on doors, urging everybody to get out.  They did.  Two buildings were severely damaged.  But 72 residents and 68 in the dorm next door were unharmed.  And yes, if the students find the prospect of taking finals too daunting after all that — or if their notes were destroyed  the university says it'll be "liberal" about letting them take the exams later.

Reality bites — If you know someone who believes professional wrestling is a fully legitimate sport, don't tell them any of this.  But events in that world do not un-fold under their own steam.  Stars suspended? It's in the script.  Champions suffer upset losses? It's in the script.  Controversy engulfs the Federation? It's in the script.  Thus it also is — goes the theory — in the world of "American Idol." Every event is un-folded to bring the program new publicity, free mentions, and even the attention of other television networks.  Phone voting fails? It's in the script.  A popular singer loses? It's in the script.  The story breaks that a ?  Well, we don't know if that was in the script.  But we do know it has generated free publicity for the program on ABC, which has an hour-long special tonight about a Fox broadcast.  It gets curioser and curioser.