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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for June 27

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Craig Crawford, Greg Mitchell, Jim Moret, Elizabeth Kolbert

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

Fifty-seven percent of us want Congress to plan out a withdrawal from Iraq, 47 percent want a deadline for withdrawal from Iraq.

And the president‘s approval number, up to 38 in one poll, 37 in another, if you call that up to.

We are not out to get the president, so says the editor of “The Los Angeles Times,” explaining why it ran the bank-tapping story.

The White House now trying to explain why it targeted “The New York Times,” not the L.A. paper, not “The Wall Street Journal,” which all broke the story.

The press secretary rips the Gray Lady of 43rd Street but will not succumb to a hysterical editorial demanding “The Times” lose its White House press credentials.

With talent on loan from Pfizer—well, at least with 29 little blue pills on loan from Pfizer, comedian Rush Limbaugh stopped at the border with a Viagra prescription made out in somebody else‘s name, for privacy purposes, says his lawyer.  If true, it‘s nothing.  If not, it could destroy his plea arrangement in the doctor-shopping deal.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Oh, I had a grand, I had a great time in the Dominican Republic.  Oh, yes, I wish I could tell you about it.


OLBERMANN:  Will he get the last laugh, or was that premature jocularity?

A new he who must not be named.  Those two key characters J.K. Rowling is planning to kill off, could one of them be Harry Potter?


J.K. ROWLING, AUTHOR, “HARRY POTTER” SERIES:  I‘ve never been tempted to kill him, to kill him off before the end (INAUDIBLE).


OLBERMANN:  Harry might survive, but not Star Jones, for her it‘s a room without a view.

And the first installment of Keith Olbermann‘s America.  Hasten we now to the automatic weapons festival.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, yeah, I‘m having a blast.


OLBERMANN:  Huh?  Oh, you mean a different big rush.

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

Good evening.

If you feel as if you couldn‘t follow the current Republican Party policy about exiting from Iraq with two Guide Dogs and a GPS system, evidently you are not alone.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, tonight, the administration and Republicans on the Hill first decried a pullout, timed or otherwise, as cutting and running.  Then they announced they were examining a pullout, 60 percent by the end of next year.  And oddly enough, they did not call it cutting or running.

Apparently somebody at GOP HQ got the latest public opinion polls long before the rest of us saw them today.  A clear majority of those surveyed by Gallup for “USA Today,” 57 percent, of the opinion that Congress should pass a resolution outlining a plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.  Forty-seven percent of those surveyed by “The Washington Post,” meanwhile, also in favor of a deadline for getting out, 51 percent against, that margin, though, continuing to grow smaller as insurgents continue to kill U.S. troops.

Bottom line for Mr. Bush, only 31 percent believing in that first poll that he has a clear plan for Iraq.

There‘s also what some are calling the swiftboating of the American media, particularly “The New York Times.”  The latest on day two of that in a moment.

First, let‘s call in “Congressional Quarterly” columnist and MSNBC political analyst Craig Crawford.

As always, sir, great thanks for your time.

CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY”:  Ah, (INAUDIBLE) need a swift boat in Washington these days, so washing us away.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, that‘s—we‘re going to be talking about that later on.



CRAWFORD:  What happens when you let the French design a city, (INAUDIBLE).

OLBERMANN:  There you go.  What happened on this with the pullout? 

The Republicans were blasting withdrawal, they‘re mocking the Democrats.  Then we have the news of General Casey‘s plan for withdrawals.  Now we got these poll numbers supporting withdrawals.  As I just suggested, did somebody at the RNC see these numbers late last week?  Or these kinds of U-turns in politics more common than I thought?

CRAWFORD:  Well, it terms of what the president has said, Keith—and certainly the vice president as well—we‘re not hearing any of this talk about a timetable like we‘re hearing it from the generals.  The president‘s message to the disapprovers, especially those of the war, is pretty much what I remember of Marion Barry once saying when he was last elected mayor and he was asked for his message of majority of white voters who voted against him, Get over it, he said.  I think that‘s Bush‘s message to his critics, just get over it.  He doesn‘t really care about these polls.

OLBERMANN:  So listening to the generals applies to the times he wants to listen to (INAUDIBLE).

CRAWFORD:  Yes.  But, I mean...

OLBERMANN:  Change the topic here.  The flag-burning amendment failed in the Senate, so it‘s a dead issue for, what, the next week?

CRAWFORD:  Oh, it‘s a live issue for the campaigns.  That‘s the strategy here.  The Republicans are looking at the November midterm is turnout, low turnout as usual, meaning that your base passionate voters are the ones who get you over the top.  And these are the kinds of issues they want to hear about, even if they don‘t pass, because then they can make the argument, see, if we got those Democrats out of Congress, we could pass these things.

OLBERMANN:  Something else from the Gallup poll that pertains to those elections.  The voters are saying that they are interested in the ‘06 election at levels that are not usually seen in nonpresidential years, and they care more about the national issues than the local ones.  Do we have an idea yet what happens when those numbers collide with the traditional hate Congress but love my own congressman theme?

CRAWFORD:  There‘s always a drawdown there, Keith, and I‘m always skeptical.  You know, people always say they‘re going to vote, but it‘s usually an inflated number from what actually happens, particularly in a nonpresidential year when only the most motivated voters get to the polls.  And that‘s what Republicans are counting on.

But if we see a turnout that‘s big, like the one this poll suggests, they would be washed away themselves, I think.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  What about the—back to the polls and the president‘s latest job approval numbers.  They‘re up slightly in both of the polls that we quoted.  They‘re still both under 40 percent, so, again, how much is up?  Or which way is up, in this case?  Does it mean anything?  Did he get a bump out of Zarqawi?  What happened here?

CRAWFORD:  Well, the best that you can say is, he got within the statistically significant (INAUDIBLE) zone of 40 percent, but that‘s a benchmark.  Pollsters have used that for a long time.  I mean, the thinking is that any president has a natural 40 percent.  When they drop below that, there‘s something seriously wrong.

And I think he did get it up some with Zarqawi and the trip to Baghdad.  They‘ve been very aggressive, taking the initiative, you know, new press secretary, you know, lots of new folks at the White House.  (INAUDIBLE) it could be just temporary, though, because I think the systemic underlying problems are still there.

OLBERMANN:  So only 60 percent disapproval.

Turning lastly here to a topic that you and I have discussed often, and it is—I think you were well ahead of the curve on this.  This Bush administration war against the media, give us a report from the front, Craig.  Did the attack on “The New York times” succeed?  Or did the administration sustain heavy casualties?

CRAWFORD:  Well, you know, I think it goes back to the midterm campaign strategy.  This is another way for Republicans to stoke the base, to burn in effigy the elite news media.  And this is what they‘re up to.  I really don‘t take, I don‘t take it at face value.  There are real concerns.  I don‘t see how they could be concerned about revelations of this program, when the administration itself has been so aggressive over the years about boasting about this program.

OLBERMANN:  Where did the umbrage go?  It was red hot, everybody was spitting bullets Monday.  Tuesday, silence.

CRAWFORD:  Yes, and it was reported before.  You know, “The Washington Post” three years ago had a story on tapping confidential data and financial accounts, and there was no hue and cry.  That was back in the days when they wanted to brag about the—how aggressive they were being in going after the terrorists.

No, I think this is just classic attack the messenger, you know, just get those conservatives who hate the news media worked up again.  And just like flag burning and everything else, so that it all goes on the brochures in November.

OLBERMANN:  A pass to “The Wall Street Journal,” heavens.

Craig Crawford of “Congressional Quarterly,” MSNBC, and his book, “Attack the Messenger.”

CRAWFORD:  All right.

OLBERMANN:  As always, sir, great thanks.

CRAWFORD:  Good to be here.

OLBERMANN:  As we just mentioned, the Bush White House escalating its war with the media to near-nuclear proportions.  “The New York Times” would be at Defcon Five for its disclosure of a secret bank-tapping program.

Two other papers, “The L.A. Times” and “The Wall Street Journal” all but escaping the onslaught, even though each reported the story at almost the same time, the editor of “The L.A. Times” writing a defense of its decision to publish the story, “We are not out to get the president,” he writes.  “This newspaper has done much hard-hitting reporting on terrorism, from around the world, often at substantial risk to our reporters.  But we also have an obligation to cover the government, with its tremendous power, and to offer information about its activities so citizens can make their own decisions,” “The National Review,” meanwhile, advocating that at least “The New York Times” should lose its White House press credentials, White House press secretary Tony Snow telling the trade publication “Editor and Publisher” that that will not be happening, but adding that the New York newspaper deserves the brunt of the criticism, because it, quote, “was way ahead of the other two and started reporting on the story much earlier.  The other two were playing catch-up.”

Let‘s call in Greg Mitchell, editor of “Editor and Publisher.”

Greg, welcome back.


OLBERMANN:  Give me your read on what I just asked Craig Crawford.  Has the administration‘s attack made inroads here, or did it just fire up the base of the news industry?

MITCHELL:  Well, maybe both.  It‘s interesting that the—in contrast to the NSA revelations of a few months ago, the response from the news media itself, the silence, has been sort of deafening in terms of rising to “The New York Times”‘s defense.  This seems to be a different case, at least in the mind of some people.  Where the NSA thing, as you know, as you noted at the time, there was tremendous hue and outcry right away, Democrats standing up in Congress charging that the program was illegal, people rallying to “The Times”‘ side.

In this case, it‘s a little more split.  And so it will be interesting how this plays out in the days ahead.

OLBERMANN:  The old saw goes, never get into an argument with the guy who owns the ink factory.  We‘ve seen Richard Nixon lose to “The New York Times” in court, we saw Spiro Agnew basically run out of Washington after he tried to take everybody on.  We‘ve seen Gary Hart pulverized after daring reporters to catch him.

Did the White House just buy itself two and a half years of the media working overtime to catch it in anything, if not because “The Times” may have been maybe perceived to have done a good thing or a bad thing, depending on where you‘re standing, but this reaction, this vitriol from the president and the vice president yesterday, would that not sit poorly in almost every newsroom in the country?

MITCHELL:  Well, we‘ll see.  We‘ll see what the reaction is the next couple days.  I haven‘t seen it so far that it‘s really gone that far.  But I think the media has been looking into various things that the administration has done wrong, or false claims that they‘ve made since they were bitten rather severely during the war, during the run-up to the war.  And it is ironic that the newspaper that is really catching the most flak from the administration now is the same newspaper with its reporter Judith Miller and others who really helped hype (INAUDIBLE) hype the threat that led to that war.

So it‘s—the irony is thick there.  But I really don‘t know how it‘s

what‘s going to happen in the days ahead, because I think the media has been more on the alert the last couple of years.  I think they have been probing a lot of different things.  And I‘m not sure this is going to change that one way or another.

OLBERMANN:  Singling out “The Times,” based on what Mr. Snow told your publication, “The L.A. Times,” “The Journal,” were just copying “The New York Times”‘ homework?   “The Journal” did not get a pass because, whereas its editorial pages, its content are pretty much down the line, its, literally, its editorial page, its commentary pages, gloriously far right, that had nothing to do with the assignation of blame here being made to just “The New York Times,” not “The Wall Street Journal”?

MITCHELL:  Well, to be fair, I think there‘s no question that “The Times” was on this story first.  I think what people are forgetting, they did not rush to judgment with the story.  They did work with administration officials for a couple months, as they‘ve said, to listen to the administration‘s claims about holding the story.

And in the end, they decided to go with it.  And, you know, during that period, other publications caught up to them.  So it‘s not wrong to say that “The Times” was out on front on this.

However, the other publications did run a story or a version of the story.  So it is rather absurd to focus so much fire on “The Times.”  And as you mentioned, “The Wall Street Journal” is certainly the most friendly national newspaper to the administration.  They have not weighed in on their editorial page yet.

So it will be interesting whether they come out.  Normally by now, they would have joined in bashing “The Times” and supporting the administration, and they‘ve been silent.  So it‘ll be interesting to see where they come out on this.

OLBERMANN:  And pertinent to “The L.A. Times,” we know the Treasury Department was in meeting with people from “The L.A. Times” in its Washington bureau last week, before “The L.A. Times” decided to publish this.  So they had lead time on it too, and considered the government‘s opinion before going to act on it.

But one last thing here, same thing I asked Craig.  All these words we heard Monday, the president was foaming, the vice president hadn‘t drawn as much blood since he shot poor Mr. Wittington.  Why was it so quiet during the day Tuesday?  Did the administration just move on from this, waiting for the next opportunity to hit somebody over the head with a rolled-up newspaper?

MITCHELL:  Well, also, I was wondering where Bush‘s anger was, and finger-wagging was in the days after Katrina.

But apart from that, I think the question is, I mean, there‘s a couple theories.  One would be that the administration knew this was going to be a tempest in a teapot, and they just wanted to raise the issue, and walk away, and, you know, mission accomplished, as they like to say.

The other theory would be that they sort of went a little too far.  They put themselves out on a limb, where their base would be (INAUDIBLE) -- was already saying, OK, well, prosecute, press charges.  And the administration probably doesn‘t want to do that.  It‘s going to be messy.  They may have felt they‘d won a kind of a PR war right now, and they‘d like to leave it at that.  The more they talk about it, the more they‘re going to be expected to do about it.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, and as we mentioned yesterday, newspapers are on a basically a 200-year winning streak when it comes to prosecutions for stuff like this.

Greg Mitchell of “Editor and Publisher,” great thanks, as always, for joining us.

MITCHELL:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Also here, comedian Rush Limbaugh was held up at the airport for three hours by Viagra.  If it lasts that long, aren‘t you supposed to call not a lawyer but a doctor?  Is there crime here, or just more punch lines?

And the science of global warming, the 2000 presidential candidate who says he‘s long been worried about the issue.  His name, George W. Bush.  Surprise!

You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN:  Comedian Rush Limbaugh may have violated his doctor-shopping plea deal by bringing Viagra into this country with somebody else‘s name on the prescription.  We‘re all trying to get our ratings up, but this is ridiculous.

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, as we first told you 24 hours ago, Limbaugh was detained by authorities for three hours at Palm Beach Airport upon his return from the Dominican Republic on Monday, because he was in possession of prescription medicine, and the prescription was not in his name.

They did not initially identify the drug.  Now we know why.  Viagra itself is not a probation or violation of his probation related to prescription drug fraud.  It is not a narcotic, it is not addictive, and even as a topic of conversation, it‘s barely even titillating anymore.

But the fact that he had any prescription drugs without having the prescription itself might be judged by prosecutors as having violated the plea arrangement he made by which one count of doctor-shopping was to remain open for 18 months, and then be wiped out, as long as Limbaugh did not get into any trouble with the law in the interim.

His attorney, Roy Black, said the Viagra prescription was written in the name of Limbaugh‘s doctor for, quote, “privacy purposes.”  Palm Beach sheriff‘s office Sgt. Pete Palenzuela (ph) told reporters, “The prescription label had two doctors‘ names on it, and did not have Mr.  Limbaugh‘s name on it.  Mr. Limbaugh said the Viagra was his and was for his personal use.”

If prosecutors can confirm that, Limbaugh‘s prescription dysfunction issue will likely go away by itself.  If they can‘t, he could be charged with second-degree misdemeanor.

On the air, the entertainer dressed up a stark no comment with a self-aggrandizing platitude and a joke that was last funny in 1998.


LIMBAUGH:  People at Customs were nice as they could be.  They just didn‘t believe me when I told them hat I got those pills at the Clinton Library gift shop.  (INAUDIBLE) And they told me that the Clinton Library gift shop (INAUDIBLE) blue M&Ms.

Oh, I had a grand, I had a great time in the Dominican Republic.  Oh, yes, I wish I could tell you about it.


OLBERMANN:  Smile for your mug shot.

One other note.  As a quick perusal of the Internet or a call to your pharmacist will teach you, Viagra is generally dispensed in units of 30 pills.  In Palm Beach County, Sheriff Palenzuela reported Limbaugh was found to have 29 pills on him.  So when he says, “I had a great time in the Dominican Republic,” perhaps he is literally meaning a great time.

To analyze Mr. Limbaugh‘s latest brush with pills for thrills, I‘m joined by Jim Moret, who‘s not only guest-hosting “THE ABRAMS REPORT” this week here on MSNBC, but is also a trained attorney, a veteran of the entertainment news beat as chief correspondent for “Inside Edition,” and an old friend and colleague.

Jim, good to talk to you.

JIM MORET, “INSIDE EDITION”:  I don‘t think I could top your analysis so far.  But it‘s good to be here, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Well, give it a shot.  Is the conventional wisdom on this correct?  If that doctor confirms they put his name on it rather than Limbaugh‘s for privacy purposes, Limbaugh‘s off the hook?

MORET:  Well, under Florida law, if the doctor put it in someone else‘s name, and all the parties are aware of it, it would not be a violation of the law.  The problem for Rush Limbaugh is, if the doctor doesn‘t confirm that story, then, as you indicated, it could be a misdemeanor, and that could put the entire plea bargain up in the air.

OLBERMANN:  Having said this, are Mr. Limbaugh and his doctor a lot dumber than we thought, to have this open charge sitting there until next year, related specifically to skirting the rules on prescription drugs, and then he skirts the rules on prescription drugs?  Was that—is that the sort of thing that you try to avoid in this situation?  Is it a no-brainer?  Should he not have known?  Should the doctor have known?  Should Roy Black or some other attorney known that this was not a good idea?

MORET:  Of course.  And the irony here is that the reason, Roy Black says, that Rush Limbaugh had this put in somebody else‘s name is so that it wouldn‘t be public, so that it would protect his privacy.  Look what happened.  Now everyone knows that Rush Limbaugh had Viagra in his possession.  And as you accurately pointed out, one pill is missing.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  Well, you know, we—to be fair, he might have gone down there with 60.  We don‘t know.

But given the nature of this whole investigation, and this whole plea bargaining, would it be an adept ploy by Mr. Limbaugh at this point to contact the prosecutor either publicly, in some sort of statement, or privately, maybe through his attorney, and say, Hey, we were not guilty of anything here, but it was dumb, we weren‘t smart, we apologize?  Would Roy Black have contemplated doing that?  Is it something he might contemplate doing it?  Or is this too much of a war between the prosecutor in Palm Beach County and Limbaugh to have an apology in the middle?

MORET:  You know, Keith, I would have expected that on the air, frankly.  It was great to have these glib comments and to be so pithy and all.  But what‘s the problem with saying, You know what?  This was something that was stupid, I‘m not doing anything horribly wrong, nine out of 10 men over the age of 40 would say, What‘s the big deal, no pun intended, and frankly, yes, it was stupid, and I‘m sorry?  And that should be the end of it.

And it kind of surprised me that he only resorted to the humor today.

OLBERMANN:  So what does the prosecutor‘s office do?  Let‘s say the do find that there‘s nothing to this, and it‘s just—it was a botched bit of silliness on Mr. Limbaugh‘s part and his doctor and his lawyer for not checking with this...

MORET:  Well, then...

OLBERMANN:  But is there, but is there additional—does suddenly they say, Well, let‘s not put this spotlight away, let‘s keep watching him carefully because he may do something else like this?

MORET:  I think you‘re right.  I think the spotlight will be on him. 

And while this charge may go away, the—certainly, the scrutiny won‘t.  And I guess the bigger question is, why choose Viagra, why not Cialis?  It lasts longer.

OLBERMANN:  (INAUDIBLE).  “Inside Edition”‘s Jim Moret, an old friend, and like myself, a guy over 40.  Many thanks, Jim.

MORET:  Sure.

OLBERMANN:  Constant viewers also know it‘s time for the annual message, please do not blow yourself up on the Fourth of July.

Also, it‘s known to anyone who has a calendar with July in it.  Now, if fireworks are not your thing, but automatic weapons are, you‘re in for a real treat, in the debut installment of Keith Olbermann‘s America.

Stand by.


OLBERMANN:  James Lewis Macy passed away on June 27, 1829, and it still redounds to our benefit.  He was a scientist, the French-born illegitimate son of a British duke.  And for reasons still not entirely clear, in his will, he left $508,318 to the people of the United States for the founding of an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.

Mr. Macy never set foot in this country, and you do not know him, or the institute that he helped found, by that name, because by the time of his death, he had renamed himself after his birth father, Hugh Smithson.  His establishment of knowledge is called The Smithsonian.

On that note, let‘s play Oddball.

And we begin near the home of the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C., where two young girls I a park seem to be setting fire to one another.  How very disturbing.  No, wait, it‘s the big annual fireworks safety demonstration.  (INAUDIBLE).  It‘s Fourth of July celebrations right around the corner.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission always takes this time to remind us of some very important tips when it comes to handling fireworks.  For instance, once you‘ve lit the thing, run.  Don‘t just stand there staring at it, imbecile.  For the love of Joe, light them after you take them out of your pocket.

And I don‘t care how good-looking you are, sir, you can‘t just hold the thing in your hand.  C‘mon, people, this is just common sense here.

Speaking of dangerous projectiles without common sense, we return once again to the Internets, where the whole Mentos in a Coke bottle thing has been taken to a whole new level.  It does not take long for the kids to realize there could be so much more to this phenomenon than soda geysers.  How about Coca-Cola rockets?  Oh, somebody is going to lose an eye this way for darn sure.

Concept seems to be the same, load up the soda with Mentos, then smashy, smashy.  We showed this video to a  molecular scientist for his reaction, which was, quote, “(INAUDIBLE).”

And we‘re not just about promoting dangerous behavior here on Oddball.  In fact, here‘s a touching feature story about a small child riding around on his pet 30-foot deadly python.  We‘re in the Kanden (ph) Province of Cambodia, where 6-year-old Sambath Uan (ph) and family have lived together with the giant snake for years now and have got nothing but love for the thing.  Sambath says, quote, “I love the python.  I love the python like my sister,” unquote.  So cute, especially considering the python ate his sister.

Oh, no, no.  I made that up.  She was a half-sister.  No, no, no, no, no.  Well, she‘s now a half-sister.  No, no, no, no, no, no.

Not making this up.  The president says he‘s always acknowledged the global warming crisis, and that we need to address it urgently.  No, this president. 

J.K. Rowling speaks.  That key character she plans to off, is it Harry?  That ahead, but first now, time for COUNTDOWN “Top 3 Newsmakers” of this day.

The Philadelphia Phillies, their home baseball game against Washington on August 30 features specials a promotional give away, a back-to-school pack for all children attending the game—a Bret Meyers back-to-school pack.  Bret Meyers is the pitcher arrested earlier this month of the charge of having punched his wife in the face.  As soon as the irony of back-to-school pack day being connected to Meyers was pointed out by the website, the Phillies changed the name to the promotion to “Shop Right Phillies Back-to-School Pack Day.” 

No. 2, Brit Hume of FOX News Channel, every program on that network has lost viewers since this time last year, according to the ratings just released by the Nielson company, but Brit is leading the pack, down 19 percent overall, 24 percent among viewers, 25 to 54.  Bill O‘Reilly is down 11 percent in that money demo.  But Bill-O, we have faith in you.  Keep trying. 

No. 1, Charles “Chick” Lennon of Providence, Rhode Island.  It‘s official, he‘s been awarded $400,000 damages after winning a lawsuit over a defective penile implant.  It was a steel and plastic job that could be rotated upwards or downwards as desired.  Unfortunately, after installation, Mr. Lennon found his could not go downwards—attention Mr.  Limbaugh—anyway, Mr. Lennon has been more or less stuck in the upright and locked position since the year 1996.  His attorney says he can no longer hug people, ride a bike, or go swimming, on the other hand he always has a place to hang his keys.


OLBERMANN:   If you haven‘t heard about this yet, please hold on to the sides of your chair.  President Bush and Al Gore agree on something, something important, there is global warming and whatever its source we‘d damn well better get rid of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  No, the president said that.  Our third story in the COUNTDOWN, in the moment of unexpected consensus Washington also got what seems to be metaphoric bolt from the sky, one that perhaps underscores the climatic issue, a great elm, right outside of the White House, the same one illustrated on the back of our $20 bill, was torn from the waterlogged ground by a violent gust of wind on Monday morning.  The tree was more than a century old, maybe 140 years old.  The president claims his acknowledgement of global warming is of nearly equal vintage. 


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I think—I have said consistently that global warming is a serious problem.  There‘s a debate over whether it‘s manmade or naturally caused.  We ought to get beyond that debate. 


OLBERMANN:  There is also word that the Supreme Court will now hear a case that will decide whether or not the EPA, under the Bush administration, must legislate appropriate levels of carbon emissions by automobiles and power plants. 

We‘re joined now by Elizabeth Kolbert, writer from the “New Yorker” magazine, author of the book “Field Notes from a Catastrophe:  Man, Nature, and Climate Change.” 

Thank you for your time. 

ELIZABETH KOLBERT, “NEW YORKER”:  Thank you for having me.

OLBERMANN:  Fact check on us the president‘s remarks from a little earlier.  A.  I have said that consistently that global warming is a serious problem; and B.  There‘s a debate over whether it‘s manmade or naturally caused. 

KOLBERT:  Well, he has said that it‘s a serious problem, so I have to give him that.  However, the debate, on the debate question he loses out, because there is no debate as he should show and really, to be honest, as many members of his own, you know, administration have told him. 

OLBERMANN:  There is, of course, a debate in the media.  Al Gore‘s documentary, we know about.  We also know now there are these television ads from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.  If anybody has not seen these, they are amazing.  Basically they‘re pro carbon emissions.  Let me play this one right now. 


ANNOUNCER:  It‘s called carbon dioxide, CO2, the fuels that produce CO2 have freed us from back breaking labor, lighting up our lives, allowing us to create and move the things we need, the people we love.  Now some politicians want to label carbon dioxide a pollutant.  Imagine if they succeed.  What would our lives be like then?  Carbon dioxide, they call it pollution, we call it life. 


OLBERMANN:  Apart from the end there, where we‘re flash back to the Lyndon Johnson “Daisy Ad” and we‘re expecting this little girl to start counting backwards from 10, is that the thrust of the arrangement being made against doing anything about CO2, that if we do there‘ll be no more electricity and we‘ll have to live in caves at the outskirts of town and pound ground with rocks for energy or something? 

KOLBERT:  Yeah, exactly.  George Bush has said, you know, that if we regulate CO2 it would ruin our economy and that‘s an argument that you hear all the time.  Unfortunately, it is probably just not true and in the meantime we‘re just wasting a lot of time, because I think everyone acknowledges eventually we are going to have to do that. 

OLBERMANN:  Give me the political playing field on this.  We know, obviously, where Mr. Gore stands.  Who are the other, if any, political figures who are picking up the global warming cajole (ph). 

KOLBERT:  Well, John McCain has been very outspoken.  He has a bill, the McCain-Lieberman Bill, that‘s been brought up twice, but unfortunately both times it‘s been defeated, that would regulate CO2 emissions.

OLBERMANN:  Is there anybody else or does it boil down to him and Gore? 

KOLBERT:  Well, there are—when McCain has brought his bill up, he‘s gotten a lot of democratic votes, he hasn‘t gotten a lot of republican votes.  He‘s gotten Hillary Clinton‘s vote, for example.  Hillary Clinton has been very outspoken.  I know she and John McCain have actually taken trips together to the Arctic, to view where you can see the affects of climate change very, very dramatically up in places like Alaska and northern Canada. 

OLBERMANN:  Is there any hope to be drawn out of the news that the Supreme Court‘s going to hear arguments on the Bush administration and the need to regulate carbon emissions.  Can you describe what this case is and what implications might be of it? 

KOLBERT:  Sure, 12 states, including New York, where I‘m sitting now, and Massachusetts, where I live, have brought to the Supreme Court a case that demands, basically that the EPA regulates CO2 under the Clean Air Act, classify it as a pollutant, a harmful pollutant, and therefore they‘d have to regulate it.  And then whether or not there‘s any chance that this could succeed is a really good question.  I don‘t think that anyone who watches the court carefully could say there‘s a terribly good chance, but on the other hand, you have to hope that the court took it—it was a divided lower court decision, and you have to hope the court took it in good faith and is really going to listen to the arguments on both sides. 

OLBERMANN:  Elizabeth Kolbert of the “New Yorker” magazine, and author of “Field Notes from a Catastrophe.”   Great thanks for your time. 

KOLBERT:  Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN:  If you think the planet is in danger, how about Harry Potter?  The prospect that the author may be killing off not a main character, but the main character.  We will hear from J.K. Rowling, but not from Star Jones.  Remember those predictions that Rosie O‘Donnell would block her view.  That is what I am talking about.  Details ahead on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Is his author going to kill of Harry Potter?  From the star to the Star, as “The View” kills off one of its hosts.  What happened to that minor baseball manager who went nuts?  And the debut of “Keith Olbermann‘s America,” that lyric sound from the heartland, the automatic weapons festival in Oklahoma.  All ahead when COUNTDOWN continues.


OLBERMANN:  Of the two most relevant movies, “Deconstructing Harry,” the Woody Allen film is probably the most appropriate title, but the 1955 Hitchcock bomb, “The Trouble with Harry” might be closer to the point.  Our No. 2 story in the COUNTDOWN, that plot centered around the discovery of the dead body of a guy named Harry and how the local townspeople each believe they had something to do with his demise.  A fitting summary, perhaps, of the controversy that has erupted since author J.K. Rowling acknowledged that in the final book of the Harry Potter series, she‘s killing off two prominent characters.  As Dawna Friesen reports from London, could she really be planning to do Lord Voldemort‘s work for him?  Could the trouble with Harry Potter be he dead? 


DAWNA FRIESEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  For fans of the wizard in training, life without Harry Potter is almost unimaginable.  The last book sold 10 million copies on the day it was released and the movie versions have been blockbusters.  But all good things must come to an end and yesterday Rowling let it slip that in the seventh and final book, two of the characters will die, one of them could be Harry himself. 

J.K. ROWLING, AUTHOR:  I‘ve never been tempted to kill him off before the end of book seven.  The final chapter is hidden away, although it‘s now changed very slightly.  One character got a reprieve. 


ROWLING:  Yeah.  But I have to say two die that I didn‘t intend to die. 

FRIESEN:  She won‘t reveal who gets killed, saying she doesn‘t want hate mail. 

ROWLING:  A price has to be paid, we are dealing with pure evil, so they don‘t target the extras, do they?  They go for the main characters, or I do. 

FRIESEN:  If it is the death knell for Harry, these fans refuse to believe it. 



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Because he‘s got magical (INAUDIBLE) powers. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She should change her ideas and her plot. 

FRIESEN:  Not likely.  Though the world of magic is filled with unexpected twists and turns, Rowling says she‘s always known how the book would end because she wrote the final chapter years ago. 

ROWLING:  I don‘t think I‘m ever going to have anything like Harry again.  I think you just get one like Harry. 

FRIESEN (on camera):  No word on when book seven will come out, but Rowling admits she‘s a little sad to se the saga coming to an end. 

Dawna Friesen, NBC News, London.


OLBERMANN:  And another sad ending, marking our transition to the actual stories of celebrity and entertainment news, “Keeping Tabs.”  Viewers of the “The View” have been slapped with an announcement that absolutely no one could have foreseen coming.  No one. 


STAR JONES, “THE VIEW”:  I feel like this is the right time to tell you that the show is moving in another direction for its 10th season and I will not be returning as co-host next year. 


OLBERMANN:  Oh, Star Jones, bye-ya.  In some senses this is a huge disappointment, we are denied the perspective train wreck TV that would have resulted from the televising of the friction between Star Jones and future “View” co-host, Rosie O‘Donnell, who is replacing Meredith Vieira who replaced Katie Couric—we‘ve already been through that.  For some reason ABC thought it could be a problem if O‘Donnell repeated a past quote about Jones on the air, like this one, “Star says she‘s lost that weight through diet and exercise.  Yeah, I‘d like to see that b---h do a pushup.”

Miss Jones had been with the view for all its nine seasons.  She told “People” magazine it was not her decision to leave. 

News from the subject of Miss O‘Donnell‘s infamous Broadway musical, “Taboo,” Boy George, talk about your career going into the garbage.  The former Culture Club singer ordered to serve his five days of community service in New York with the city‘s Sanitation Department.  He‘ll be cleaning up the streets or the parks or taking out the trash.  George, George O‘Dowd, legally, quipped that he was fitted for cleaning, “I‘ve always been a scrubber.”  Scrubber, being English street talk for prostitute or promiscuous woman.  Boy George was arrested last October when he called the cops report a burglary, but when the cops showed up to his luxury apartment they found the door open and the star staggering around his apartment, in a “drugged stupor,” possibly resulting from the cocaine they found on his computer desk. 

Meanwhile, rocker Axl Rose bites—I‘m sorry, apparently, there is more to that story.  Rocker Axl Rose bites a security guard in Sweden.  The cause of the fight is not clear, but according to Swedish tabloids the scuffle followed an argument between the Guns ‘n‘ Roses front man and a woman in a hotel lobby.  The guard tried to intervene and police say Rose bit him on the leg.  According to a police spokeswoman, Mr. Rose was inebriated at the time of the incident.  Police did not question the band member until he sobered up.  The heavy metal group, slated to perform in Oslo, unknown though, whether the concert will go on as scheduled. 

And you will remember the minor league baseball manager, Joe Mikulik, who went nuts, kind of, after a call that he did not appreciate in a South Atlantic League game.  The manager of the Asheville Tourist described as a nice, easygoing friendly guy, who loves his family, loves baseball, and has now been suspended for seven days and fined $1,000 for doing this.  That according to the “Rockies,” the Colorado Rockies director of player development, Mark Gustafson.  Mikulik told the “Asheville Citizens Times,” “I never lost control, though it looked like I did.  I thought I was in total control the whole time.  I was frustrated, and I went too far with it.”  Mikulik also added, “It takes me 23 years to get on Sports Center and this is how I did it,” $1,000 dollars and seven days, and a highlight that will live forever. 

And a new feature ahead here on COUNTDOWN, “Keith Olbermann‘s America,” it will be my America.  A special tribute to Oklahoma, where the automatic weapons fire comes a-sweepin‘ down the plain.  That‘s next, but first COUNTDOWN‘s latest list nominees for “Worst Person in the World.”

The bronze to two unnamed robbers who held up an armored truck in Cutler Ridge, Florida.  They put a gun to the head of the guard, he promptly handed over a sack he was holding.  The sack was filled to the brim with deposit slips.  No money, just deposit slips.  Don‘t spend it all in one place. 

Our runner-up, Benjamin Ratliff of Columbus, Ohio, found guilty of contempt of court and obstruction of justice.  He spent a night in jail for trying to get out of jury duty.  The questionnaire he was filled out, he answered the question about if he‘s ever fired a weapon, by writing “yes, I killed someone with it, of course, right.”  He then added he didn‘t think he could serve on the jury because he had a “bad jonesin‘ for heroin.”  OK, he might have overdone that a bit.

But the winners, three fans in wheelchairs in the physically chilled seating area at a World Cup soccer match in Germany between Argentina and the Netherlands.  The Argentineans, two whom where identified only as Claudio and Gustavo apologized after Argentina put on a scoring drive, the third member of their group suddenly leapt from his wheelchair and began jumping up and down.  See, none of them needed the wheelchairs, that was just their way to get into the stadium.  As Gustavo put it, “Our friend couldn‘t stop jumping up and down and a person near us thought there was a miracle happening.”  Gustavo, Claudio, and their unnamed pal, today‘s “Worst Persons in the World.”


OLBERMANN:  In our No. 1 story, a new segment that we hope becomes a regular feature here on COUNTDOWN, a year long trip, dawdling up the highways and byways of our eternal and eternally varietous (ph) country, to revel in “Keith Olbermann‘s America” giving you a snapshot glimpse of the small towns and the big cities alike, the places and people that provide the fabric and the stitch work and the hemming that doesn‘t match from front to back, of this vast land of ours, each providing its own little contribution to the great America experience. 

And we begin in America‘s heartland in the great tradition of the land rush in the place that survived the Dustbowl; we visit Wyandotte, in the upper northeast corner of Oklahoma.  It‘s gun country, sure, and there‘s something romantic about heading out with grandma‘s .22 and pickin‘ tin cans off a dusty fence rail.  But in Wyandotte, it‘s about more than that.  It‘s about pulling out the heavy artillery out from under that carefully camouflaged part of the barn and blowing the crap out of stuff.  And while we call this series “Keith Olbermann‘s America,” it will actually be reported by other guys.  Galen Culver of affiliate KFOR takes up to Oklahoma‘s Fifth Annual Full Auto Shoot. 


GALEN CULVER, KFOR, REPORTER:  Most people think they‘re illegal, that you can go to jail for owning or even firing an automatic weapon.  But folks here know better, every year they flock to northeast Oklahoma for a chance to shoot fully automatic weapons. 


CULVER:  Mike Friend began this event five years for his customer who is wanted a bigger experience than just his indoor range.  At this remote spot, just a riffle spot from the Missouri state line, they can really let ‘er rip. 

FRIEND:  They come out here to see the things, the real thing work. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Once you do it, you‘re hooked. 

CULVER:  Paul Ware brings his son, Austin, every year. 

PAUL WARE, SHOOTER:  He‘s 12 years old, probably got as much trigger time on (INAUDIBLE) than a lot of our military guys there. 

CULVER:  There are grandpas who bring their grandsons. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How did you like that?  It was fun, wasn‘t it, bud? 


CULVER:  Husbands and wife‘s and people from other countries. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, this is first time I ever knew about it. 

CULVER:  They come to satisfy curiosity and watch stuff blow up. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you enjoy the noise and the smoke and the smell, you can get it all right here. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You don‘t understand it until you come out here and try it.  The ladies will come out here and they‘re just not that enthused with it until they pick one up and shoot it, then they‘re back every year. 

CULVER:  Ben LePrairie (ph) sent a year with the Marines in Iraq, he couldn‘t get enough. 

BEN LEPRAIRIE, U.S. MARINE:  Oh yeah, I‘m having a blast. 

CULVER:  Glen Moore paid handsomely for his World War II era Brownie .50 caliber, but he‘s happy, too. 

GLEN MOORE, SHOOTER:  Rush.  Big rush.  I love it.  (INAUDIBLE) excellent investment. 

CULVER:  They‘re gun owners and gun renters, shooting at targets like washing machines and exploding cars. 


In a remote spot in far Northeast Oklahoma, a hail of lead rains down on a vacant hillside.  Over a long weekend, these folks call that a hail of a good time. 

Near Wyandotte, Galen Culver, News Channel 4.  Is this a great state or what? 


OLBERMANN:  Ain‘t nature wonderful?  You can almost smell the burning debris from here, cant you?  That‘s the first installment on “Keith Olbermann America.”  On that high patriotic note, it‘s a good time to tell you that we are celebrating Independence Day with an entire hour of “Odd Ball” laughs and crazy video.  Everything from political punch lines to the most bizarre local festivals, beside that is in Wyandotte.  Our “Odd Ball” extravaganza next Monday, July 3, 8:00 Eastern, 5:00 Pacific.  Be there, aloha. 

That‘s COUNTDOWN, for this the 1,153rd day since the declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, if you can, give a thought or prayer as appropriate tonight, for my friend and colleague from ESPN, Peter Gammons stricken by a brain aneurysm this morning in a his home and at last reported, surgery.

Good night and good luck.

Our MSNBC coverage continues now with “Scarborough Country.”

Joe, good evening.



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