Guests: Howard Fineman, Arianna Huffington, Dennis DeYoung, Ed Rudy, Edie Rudy
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The CIA leak investigation, twin blockbuster reports. The special prosecutor focusing on the vice president? And Karl Rove and Scooter Libby ready to resign if indicted? The latest from Howard Fineman and Arianna Huffington.
Harriet Miers for Supreme Court justice, take two. The relaunch of the administration campaign to reconstruct Harriet.
For the first time since Eisenhower was president, for the first time since the year Alaska and Hawaii became states, for the first time since the quiz show scandal broke, the Chicago White Sox are in baseball‘s World Series.
And tonight‘s story my producers are forcing me to do, a bar mitzvah for a dog. A bark mitzvah. Well, muzzletov.
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
Lyndon Johnson said the—having the office was not worth a warm bucket of spit, and somebody else observed, being it was not exactly like being guilty of a crime, but you didn‘t volunteer the information in polite society.
One of its occupants fought a duel while in office. Another might have been the most corrupt politician of the 19th century. One with a currently topical name was linked to the Iran-contra scandal. And the only one to ever resign in disgrace did so exactly 32 years and one week ago today.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, not a happy anniversary, thus, for the current vice president of the United States. Dick Cheney has just been dragged into the investigation of the CIA leak, NBC News tonight confirming that the special prosecutor has already questioned two people on or formerly on the vice president‘s staff about his possible involvement in the leak, Mr. Cheney‘s adviser, Catherine Martin, and his former spokeswoman, Jennifer Millerwise. Bloomberg News had reported there had been a third individual questioned about Cheney, White House aide Jim Wilkinson. NBC News has confirmed that Wilkinson was not so asked.
The vice president‘s current spokeswoman declined comment about whether prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has contacted Mr. Cheney directly since he gave unsworn testimony to the investigators last year.
As for his chief of staff, Scooter Libby, previously identified as the source for “New York Times” reporter Judith Miller, she is now saying that he did not leak the name of Ambassador Wilson‘s wife, and that she told the special prosecutor she cannot remember who did.
Quoting, “Mr. Fitzgerald asked me about another entry in my notebook, where I had written the words ‘Valerie Flame,‘ clearly a reference to Ms. Plame. Mr. Fitzgerald wanted to know whether the entry was based on my conversations with Mr. Libby. I said I didn‘t think so. I said I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall.”
But even if he did not leak Valerie Plame‘s name, Mr. Libby could still face charges of obstruction of justice. And that is why, according to “TIME” magazine, both Libby and Karl Rove have made contingency plans in case of indictment. They would both be likely, reportedly, anyway, to resign immediately, making a clean break with the White House for the sake of the administration and its continuity.
But while that may be the plan behind the scene, in public, the White House still today maintaining a wait-and-see policy, the president reiterating that today when he explained to his guest, the president of Bulgaria, and to the media of the United States, that still he has nothing to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. President, there‘s an investigation going on. I‘ve made it very clear to the press that I‘m not going to discuss the investigation. And so therefore, and so my position hasn‘t changed since the last time I‘ve been asked this question.
There‘s a serious investigation. We‘re not going to prejudge—I‘m not going to prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And that translator won‘t be back either.
More on Ms. Miller in a moment.
First, on the newest player added to the other lineup, let me call in “Newsweek” magazine‘s chief political correspondent, Howard Fineman.
Good evening, Howard.
HOWARD FINEMAN, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, “NEWSWEEK” MAGAZINE:
Good evening, Keith.
I‘m really curious what that Bulgarian translator was really saying, you know.
OLBERMANN: One assumes it was correct. But it appeared to offend the president, in any respect.
First, Mr. Fitzgerald asked Judith Miller about the vice president. We know about that from what she wrote. And she said he didn‘t know much about any of what she supposedly discussed with Mr. Libby. But then Mr. Fitzgerald also asked this staffer and the former staffer of the vice president about the vice president. Is he indeed being scrutinized here about a possible role in the leak? And if so, do we have any idea what role?
FINEMAN: Well, my understanding is, they‘re at least nibbling around the edges here, because it‘s quite possible that the special prosecutor‘s theory of this case is that there was a conspiracy. It may be a pretty big one, because we‘re talking about the vice president of the United States‘ chief of staff, Scooter Libby. We‘re talking about Karl Rove, we‘re talking about seven or eight people who are part of something called a White House Iraq Group.
And their job, in the months leading up to the Iraq war, and in the months after it, was to sell the justification for the war, specifically the presence weapons of mass destruction, and then, frankly, to try to steamroller anybody who got in their way and opposed their arguments after the invasion and the occupation of Iraq began.
I think it‘s that group of people that the special prosecutor‘s looking at. And several of those people were very, very close, I mean, very, very close to the vice president. The question then becomes the classic one from a generation ago, what did he know, and when did he know it? And we‘re talking about the vice president.
OLBERMANN: You touched on the big picture on this story, and Bob Bennett, who is Judith Miller‘s lawyer, said to “This Week” on ABC yesterday, Fitzgerald is putting together a big case. You just used similar terminology. How big are we talking—I mean, could this actually wind up referencing the whole premise of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or any of the other justifications for the war there?
FINEMAN: Yes, I think so, I think so, Keith. And in an odd way, I think we‘re going to reargue the run-up to the war in Iraq, and the aftermath of it, all the justifications that were made by Colin Powell and the United Nations that had to do with weapons of mass destruction, because I think the special prosecutor, Fitzgerald, is looking for motivation here. He‘s looking for why the people he‘s been investigating might have wanted to leak Valerie Plame‘s name, why they wanted to intimidate, perhaps, Joe Wilson and his wife.
And the answer, clearly, is politics. But now it‘s going to be politics reargued and looked again, if he does bring indictments in a court of law. This happens—has happened before in American history. It seems to happen all the time now since the Watergate days. First we argue something in politics, then we argue it in law. I think it looks like that‘s destined to happen in this case.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Libby was already a direct link to Mr. Cheney in this, even if Mr. Cheney had nothing to do with the leaking of the name. But now you have two other names put in here, Martin, and the ironically named Miller-Wise, in addition to Ms. Miller. Are there too many coincidences, too many juxtapositions, too much of a circle drawn around the vice president‘s office?
FINEMAN: Well, look, from the prosecutor‘s point of view, he‘s got the chief of staff of the vice president‘s office in his sights, clearly. And, you know, the betting around here is, it‘s quite likely that that‘s the number one target is Scooter Libby. Scooter Libby is very close, has a very close working relationship with the vice president. The vice president has a small office with narrow—you know, with a small group of people who work very closely together. He‘s got to look at that. And he interviewed the vice president once, not under oath. If he does it again, obviously know that we know there‘s a bigger story on our hands than we imagined.
OLBERMANN: Last point, Howard, this other report about Rove and/or Libby, ready to resign, or perhaps go on unpaid leave if indicted. Does that jibe with the Bush loyalty concept, loyalty first above everything else? And would the president not, even in the most perilous political times, be completely reluctant to let them go in either way?
FINEMAN: I think he‘d be very reluctant, but I think he‘d have to do it. And the notion that they would just take an unpaid leave, I think, is pretty ridiculous, because the political heat on the president would be extreme if he attempted to keep them in some kind of suspended animation. If they‘re indicted, and I stress if, if they‘re indicted, they‘re going to have to resign. And I think that‘s the import of that piece of news out of “TIME” magazine.
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman, the chief political correspondent of “Newsweek” magazine. Great thanks, as always for your insight and your time, sir.
FINEMAN: You‘re welcome, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Meantime, there is the Judith Miller end of this story. Today, Steve Martin likes to be thought of as an actor and author. Nearly 30 years ago, when he was a concert-grade stand-up comedian, part of his act revolved around, as he put it, two simple words, two simple words in the English language. How many times do we let ourselves get into terrible situations because we don‘t say these two simple words, “I forgot”?
That‘s the big revelation, in essence, from Ms. Miller‘s testimony to a grand jury, at least as she wrote it up for “The New York Times.” While she wrote that misnomer, Valerie Flame, in the same notebook as her conversations with Scooter Libby about Ambassador Wilson‘s wife and her weapons job at the CIA, she says Libby did not give her the Flame name, and she cannot remember who did it.
In another notebook entry, two days before conservative columnist Bob Novak outed Ms. Plame, Miller scribbled “Victoria Wilson,” another apparently misinterpretation of Mrs. Plame Wilson‘s name.
And again, she testified she did not know if Scooter Libby had used this name, or if she had just made it up in some way.
Arianna Huffington, political gadfly and editor of the blog The Huffington Post, has written extensively about Judith Miller, and joins us now.
Thanks for your time tonight, Arianna.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I forgot. Eighty-five days in jail for a source, and she can‘t remember who the source was? Exactly who is she protesting—protecting here?
HUFFINGTON: Well, we don‘t know. And she may well be also protecting herself, because when I first wrote back in July, when I started writing about Judith Miller, because, Keith, the truth is that Judith Miller was way too close to her sources, as we know from the tone of the letter that Libby sent to her in jail, as we know from the fact that for months in the lead-up to the war, she kept basically writing on the front pages of “The New York Times” whatever the administration wanted her to write.
And that‘s really the great tragedy here, that the administration, and specifically this group they had created in the White House, the White House Iraq Group, as they called it, to market the war in Iraq, used Judith Miller and used “The New York Times” to put forward what they wanted the American public to read, especially about the nuclear threat in Iraq, and the other threat of weapons of mass destruction, all of which have now been discredited.
OLBERMANN: There are seeming discrepancies in Ms. Miller‘s account, the claim that she had security clearance while she was embedded with troops in Iraq, and the officials at the Pentagon and the CIA have told NBC News today they had no idea what she‘s talking about there. If she‘s right, does it cast doubt on her credibility as a—not just as a journalist, necessarily, but as a witness? And if she‘s wrong, if she didn‘t have such clearance and she‘s just claiming it, does that not cast some doubt on her credibility as well?
HUFFINGTON: Well, there are many, many discrepancies in Judy Miller‘s account of what happened. But you know, Judy Miller‘s credibility has been questioned many times. I have talked to Craig Pife (ph), who won one of the Pulitzer Prizes with her, and he actually wrote a memo, a singing memo, to the management of “The Times” back in 2000, questioning Judy Miller as a journalist.
So here‘s another question, Keith. “The New York Times” had so many warnings about Judy Miller, going back to 2000. Her reporting on WMD, five of her six stories had to basically be so discredited, “The New York Times” apologized for them in their unprecedented mea culpa.
And yet they stood behind her, without really fully analyzing what her cause was. They presented her as a martyr. They wrote many over-the-top editorials.
So “The New York Times” has not really come clean about what exactly happened, why they backed her up, and why they haven‘t fired her yet.
OLBERMANN: Getting back to this picture outside of events on 43rd Street in Manhattan in “The Times” offices, and, again, to be extraordinarily careful against touching that electrified fence that is the logical fallacy, Saturday night on their Web site, the Judith Miller story turns up, complete with the I-forgot, and also an article about Judith Miller turns up by several reporters of “The New York Times” that is not complimentary to her or “The Times” or Scooter Libby or anybody else.
And now today, first Bloomberg News and then NBC come up with stories that indicate that to some degree, questions are being asked about the vice president. Is this all coincidences of timing, or is there some connection between the Judith Miller story coming out and the vice president‘s name coming into play today?
HUFFINGTON: Well, actually, Keith, we reported in The Huffington Post last week, before the story was out in “The New York Times,” that Bloomberg and “The Wall Street Journal” were working on stories tying the vice president to Plamegate. So no, the way that the vice president is being investigated by Fitzgerald precedes the report in “The New York Times.”
Obviously as Judy Miller herself wrote in her account, she was asked by Fitzgerald during her questioning whether she thought that the vice president was knowledgeable about what her conversations with Scooter Libby were about. And she actually replied, No. I have no idea how she knew what the vice president knew and didn‘t know. But she said no.
OLBERMANN: It gets thicker and thicker. Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post, who also has an article on the state of the Democratic Party coming out in “Radar” magazine next week, thanks for your time tonight, Arianna.
HUFFINGTON: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Also tonight, a Harriet Miers do-over. The White House relaunches its effort to get her onto the Supreme Court, this as reports surface that she has a definitive opinion about overturning Roe v. Wade. Or, she doesn‘t.
And a month after the first report was dismissed as post-Katrina hysteria, an investigation is underway tonight in Louisiana. Were doctors performing mercy killings in New Orleans hospitals?
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: It is just two weeks since President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to fill Sandra Day O‘Connor‘s seat on the Supreme Court. It seems like two years.
There‘s been a lot of controversy in that time, so much that, in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, the White House has, in essence, renominated her, starting from scratch, the way the marketers of New Coke started from scratch 20 years ago.
Our chief Washington correspondent, Norah O‘Donnell, now, on new Harriet.
NORAH O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):
Today in the Oval Office, President Bush was flanked by fellow Texans, former justices of the Texas Supreme Court.
BUSH: They‘re here to send a message here in Washington that the person I picked to take Sandra Day O‘Connor‘s place is not only a person of high character and of integrity, but a person who can get the job done.
O‘DONNELL: The justices, all part of a new White House effort this week to relaunch the embattled nomination of Harriet Miers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think when people get to know her and understand her like we do, they‘ll find her an excellent choice. And she‘ll be a legend on that court before her career is finished.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would trust her with my wife and my life.
O‘DONNELL: But even as the White House tries to reframe the debate, sources confirm a report in “The Wall Street Journal” that two Texas judges close to Miers told religious conservatives in a conference call that she would, in fact, vote to overturn Roe versus Wade.
But today, as Miers met with senators on Capitol Hill, New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said he privately asked Miers if the story was true.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I asked her if she had ever talked to either of the judges about Roe v. Wade, and she said no. So this whisper campaign, at least as far as she is concerned, isn‘t coming from her.
O‘DONNELL (on camera): Part of this new White House strategy, says one official, is to be relentless. They‘re sending Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to Capitol Hill tomorrow, and Karen Hughes tells NBC News, her good friend Harriet Miers is exceptionally well qualified, and would make an outstanding Supreme Court justice.
For COUNTDOWN, I‘m Norah O‘Donnell.
OLBERMANN: How would Harriet Miers vote on the dressing-up of your pet ferret? Wild ferrets? Tough issues, disturbing images. That is the bar that COUNTDOWN must achieve and cross each night.
And this is not dress-up-your-dog-and-take-him-to-temple day. This pooch is really on his way to his own bark mitzvah.
COUNTDOWN continues. How, I‘ll never know.
OLBERMANN: We‘re back. We pause our COUNTDOWN of stories from the zoo we know as Washington for a brief segment filled with other animals, and only some of these eat their young.
Let‘s play Oddball.
We begin deep inside the dark heart of the ferret-eat-ferret world of high fashion, London, England. It is here that design giant Burberry has threatened to sue Ferret World for trademark infringement. It‘s all about the plaid. Apparently the little ferret outfits looked a bit too much like the trademark checked patterns of Burberry, so a strongly worded letter was in order.
But the director of Ferret World is no furry little pushover. He says the charges are a laughable overreaction. Burberry, which doesn‘t currently make clothes for ferrets, but has not denied making clothes out of ferrets, has not commented.
To Denmark, where this week they celebrate the birth of Christian Frederick Hendrick (ph) John. No, that‘s not quadruplets. That‘s the country‘s newest prince, the first son of Prince Frederick and Princess Mary. To celebrate, the premier of Princess Mary‘s home country, Tasmania, has sent along a little gift, two Tasmanian devils. They‘re just like the cartoon character, only much, much more vicious.
The meat-eating marsupials will live at the Denmark Zoo as a living monument to the link between the two countries. Come by between 3:00 and 5:00 to see them tear apart little ferrets for dinner.
And lastly, to Lima, Peru. Scientists there think they have found a way to stimulate the growth of a baby‘s brain while still in utero, a human baby‘s brain. They can do it at the aquarium, dolphin therapy. No, I only wish I was making this up. Doctors believe that if pregnant Mommy kneels next to the dolphin tank and allows Flipper to sing to her belly, it could help with the development of the baby‘s senses, not to mention its swimming.
They‘ll be taking this story seriously tomorrow morning on ABC if you want to check it out again. There‘s no research back yet, so if you‘d like to try it at home with a fish or perhaps a ferret, please let us know how it turns out.
Also tonight, five weeks ago, this was dismissed as another shock story from a London tabloid. But now, the state of Louisiana is investigating, and seriously, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, were there mercy killings at a New Orleans hospital?
And history here in October, the Chicago White Sox make it to the World Series. One of the number-one fans joins to us tell us what it feels like after the 46-year drought.
Those stories ahead.
But now, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.
Mr. Robert Bates of Brewster, New York, and Chad Jacques of Colchester, Vermont, today‘s dumb criminals of the day. Police say they robbed a pharmacy in Yorktown, New York, but were caught, because, as they left, they had to pull over to a gas station to ask for directions to the Taconic State Parkway. Our getaway plan was arranged to the split second.
Number two, Etienne Verhees of Brussels in Belgium. He had a bad cold, a hacking cough. In fact, not to get gross on you, but he coughed something up, a surgical screw from his operation four years ago to heal two broken vertebrae in his neck. Thank you, Doctor.
And number one, Roland Steppert of Wausau, Wisconsin, he‘s 78. He drove up to Burger King for some breakfast Friday morning. He started to park. He hit the gas rather than the brake. He put the car through the front door of the Burger King. He hit reverse, backed it out, parked it, got out, went into the Burger King, ordered breakfast anyway.
And they served it to him.
OLBERMANN: It was September 11th of this year most of New Orleans was still in waist high water. Many Americans had been forced to reassess what they could rely on their government for in an emergency and there was one more grim story that nobody wanted to hear.
A London newspaper, the Daily Mail, quoted an anonymous physician saying the crisis in the hospitals of New Orleans was so vast, so awful that decisions were made to euthanize patients who would not have survived the flood and its aftermath and the gangs reputedly ready to try to seize drug supplies at the hospitals.
Our third story in the COUNTDOWN nobody wanted to hear that charge then. Today, the attorney general of Louisiana is investigating whether there were in fact mercy killings.
From our New Orleans bureau our correspondent is Carl Quintanilla.
CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On August 31st, Memorial Medical Center sat trapped in ten feet of water, no electricity or plumbing, as the hospital‘s CEO recalled last month.
RENE GOUX, CEO, MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: We had about 160 seriously ill bed-ridden patients left in the hospital.
QUINTANILLA: Patients so sick suffering from cancer and heart conditions that one doctor told CNN staffers discussed euthanizing them with injected drugs, that he saw a doctor holding syringes. He says one staffer talked about it directly with him.
BRIAN KING, TEMPORARY STAFFER, MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: And she said,
well, you know, we talked about it and other doctors said she‘d be willing
she‘d be willing to do it and I was like you‘re crazy.
QUINTANILLA: Brian King was a temporary hire at Memorial and had worked there for a month. He couldn‘t be reached for comment and the hospital denies the charges.
(on camera): Louisiana‘s attorney general is concerned enough that he‘s opened an investigation into every death at every local hospital during Katrina, 215 patients in all.
KRIS WARTELLE, LOUISIANA ATTY. GEN. SPOKESWOMAN: We are looking into the allegations of euthanasia as well. We have absolutely no confirmation on that at this time, although we are taking the reports very seriously.
QUINTANILLA (voice-over): Identifying a criminal cause of death could be difficult, especially when there were so many other threats to survival.
DR. GLENN CASEY, CHAIR OF ANESTHESIOLOGY, MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: It was 105, 110 degrees.
QUINTANILLA: Dr. Glenn Casey is Memorial‘s chair of anesthesiology and denies any talk of euthanasia ever took place.
CASEY: It would have had to go through me because all those type of drugs pass through me and my department.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was no way we were going to desert the patients and the staff that depend on us and there was no way we were going to hasten anyone‘s demise.
QUINTANILLA: Doctors like John Cocomore (ph), one of the last to evacuate Memorial, say any attempt to end a patient‘s life would have been hard to keep secret since most were surrounded by a brigade of volunteers.
WAYNE HILL, CHIEF ENGINEER: And they actually had people, nurses and family members and all fanning patients, I mean around the clock.
QUINTANILLA: Tonight there are also questions about Dr. King and his relationship with Memorial‘s management. At least one staffer tells NBC News King was seen in a heated argument with an administration official as the floodwaters rose, angry the hospital had stopped taking in neighbors from outside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The clothes that the individuals came in with are laid out here.
QUINTANILLA: New Orleans‘ coroner is examining all of Memorial‘s bodies and is looking for suspicious causes of death but because the bodies were so decomposed some doctors suspect any test to determine the amount of drugs in their system may never be conclusive.
Carl Quintanilla, NBC News, New Orleans.
OLBERMANN: As we suggested when it first broke five weeks ago that story was just one too many for American news consumers. Everything, everybody has a breaking point and the sequence of disasters this year may have even identified the breaking point of generosity, donor fatigue as it has been dubbed, reported for us tonight by Correspondent Michelle Kosinski.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Pictures of devastation, the tsunami, starvation in Africa, Hurricane Katrina, earthquakes in Pakistan, mudslides in Central America.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just wish these bad things would stop happening.
KOSINSKI: Susan Gianvolvo (ph) and her family in Stampley, Connecticut still want to donate to help the victims but it‘s almost too much to bear.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just can‘t watch the images anymore. I can‘t anyway.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you donated before to Save the Children?
KOSINSKI: The Save the Children call center is much quieter these days. After the tsunami they were getting more than 200 calls an hour. Now it‘s about 100 calls a day.
DAWN NUNN, SAVE THE CHILDREN: We‘re hearing that people really want to help but we‘re hearing that they‘re—they‘re just tapped out. They gave so generously for the tsunami and people just don‘t have the money to continue for emergency after emergency, although they really want to.
KOSINSKI: It‘s not just Save the Children. The American Red Cross says it raised $1.2 billion for Katrina, $556 million for the tsunami but for the earthquake about $1.6 million. Organizations are worried they‘re running into an epidemic of donor fatigue.
TREVOR ROWE, U.N. WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: We‘re up against it all the time.
KOSINSKI: Trevor Rowe with the U.N.‘s World Food Program worries about where the money will come from.
ROWE: We have seen an increase in the number of natural disasters when we compare the 1990s to the 1960s there has been a threefold increase.
KOSINSKI: But Americans face higher gas and heating costs this winter. There‘s only so much people are willing or able to do.
RUDY VON BEANUTH, SAVE THE CHILDREN: If we‘re not able to respond to these most recent disasters the way the American public has responded to earlier ones, there are going to be an awful lot of children and their families freezing and hungry this winter.
KOSINSKI: The Gianvolvos intend to keep giving.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To look at everything that‘s happening around the world you can‘t help but feel fortunate, so if it means that, you know, you don‘t get a $3 latte or, you know, go for a weekly manicure, you know, that‘s something that, you know, we‘re more than willing to do.
KOSINSKI: Hoping that a small sacrifice will go a long way.
Michelle Kosinski, NBC News, New York.
OLBERMANN: Also tonight, let this sentence sink in. The Chicago White Sox are in the World Series. You could not have heard that said truthfully since October, 1959.
Dennis DeYoung of STIX fame tells us what this means for he and his fellow White Sox fans.
Let this sink in too. Chewbacca is now a U.S. citizen. Give me your tired, your poor, your forever wooly; these stories ahead.
First your COUNTDOWN top three sound bytes of this day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Underage and binge drinking have been tough issues in this university city for years. Yes, it‘s a place to party for people but now the pigeon population? Recently more than a half dozen birds have been spotted basically in a drunken stupor. Animal experts don‘t really know why this happens.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We think they might have even gotten into some fermented berries or grain. It is like they‘re been drinking, yes, yes, it really is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) goes deep, far side, incomplete to Mel Cornelius, Jonathan Seynon (ph) and a cheerleader does a back flip.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean most cheerleaders don‘t wear mouthpieces but maybe they should.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meanwhile, what kind of legal drama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know the ball was out of play. She couldn‘t find it in the bush. She has to take it and drop it and put it back in play and it was ruled that she did so illegally. The ball cannot move closer to the hole after you drop it back in play.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard that was amazing. Al is here to tell us more about the weather.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) an illegal drop but that‘s a whole other story. Anyway, let‘s take a look, show you what‘s going on. I don‘t know what that meant but I just I wanted to say it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Well, I‘m going to hear about this from all of my old history professors. Lyndon Johnson, as I said earlier, did not describe the vice presidency as being worth a warm bucket of spit. It was described to him that way by one of FDR‘s VPs, John Nance Garner.
At least that correction segues nicely into this. The story goes that the American League Champion Chicago White Sox were visited in their clubhouse by the then vice president of the United States who recognized each of them by face alone until he got to somebody he didn‘t know.
“You must be Joe Stanka (ph),” the vice president said. Even Joe Stanka, who pitched in three major league baseball games in his life was surprised that anybody knew who he was.
“Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Yes, I am.” The Vice President Richard Nixon said “You‘re welcome,” our number two story in the COUNTDOWN. That‘s how long it has been since the second city‘s second team has played for baseball‘s championship. Richard Nixon was vice president.
This will all change this Saturday in Chicago as the White Sox play in their first World Series game since October 8, 1959. The eliminated the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and elsewhere last night in game five of the American League championship series 6-3. They will face the NL pennant winners.
Not only is it 46 years since they‘ve played in a World Series, it‘s 88 since they won one, 1917. We‘re still in between. The White Sox played in only one other series, lost it, 1919, and some of the players were accused of taking bribes to lose it deliberately for the sake of gamblers.
It has been a long march for White Sox fans, longer even than it had been for Boston Red Sox fans, yet without the martyrdom points that those Boston counterparts enjoyed for so long.
Joining me now one of the long suffering, long silent supporters of the Palehos (ph) Dennis DeYoung, former lead singer of the band STIX, now a solo artist and fan of the American League Champion White Sox, welcome and congratulations.
DENNIS DEYOUNG, WHITE SOX FAN: Well, thank you Keith. You know for those of us here in Chicago, we‘ve been checking the night skies, you know, because the last time something like this happened a star rose in the east.
OLBERMANN: Yes. It really is amazing how long this has been. I mentioned that the last time the Sox were in the series the quiz show scandal had just broken. They also since the end of that World Series they started letting hockey goalies wear masks and the hockey skaters wear helmets. Ford stopped making the Edsel all since the Sox were in the series. How long have you been a fan?
DEYOUNG: Well, my dad was a fan and when you mentioned 1959 I still remember when they were playing Cleveland. We were listening to the game on the radio outside because it was really hot. Nobody had air-conditioning.
And I think it was Vic Wertz (ph) hit a ground ball to Louie Aparisio (ph) and he made a double play and Jerry Staley (ph) threw the pitch and the air raid sirens went off and everybody in Chicago went nuts. I mean some of us thought the Russians were attacking but it was—I remember that night clearly but I know there‘s a lot of frontrunners now.
Wherever I go around the country I‘m traveling I see everybody‘s got Sox jerseys on suddenly. You never saw that in this town hardly ever. In fact, they are offering a two week course right now, a crash course in how to pronounce Pesednick (ph) and Prezinski (ph) around here.
OLBERMANN: The great Midwestern humorist from northern Indiana and Chicago, Gene Shepherd (ph), said that as a lifelong White Sox fan from about 1930 to the mid-‘90s, he said “Death holds no terrors for a true White Sox fan because they‘ve know it every day of their lives.” Is that a fair assessment?
DEYOUNG: Well, if you‘re a Chicagoan, you know, the city is divided north and south and the south side has always been the underdog, chip on the shoulder, working class ethnic kind of person and, you know, recently in the last 25 years that area around Wrigley Field where the Cubs play has become very, I hate to say yuppified (ph) but there‘s a lot of young people living there and, you know, and so there really is a dichotomy in the city between the north and south side.
So, for this to happen for the White Sox fans it really is a miracle and we‘re, you know, last night my son who is 25 and my wife, who I have been married to for 35 years, we sat and watched the last game and at the end we took this White Sox pennant that my wife bought and we ran around the whole house about seven times and screamed. It was unbelievable, 911, they called the police on us but we‘re OK. We‘re out of handcuffs, no marks.
OLBERMANN: So, Shepherd said this again that to the point that you just raised about the division in Chicago, to be a White Sox fan is to be a south sider in a world of north siders. Tell me about the abuse that you must have gotten all these years because if you, if you‘re not from Chicago and somebody sees that you‘re a baseball fan and you‘re from Chicago, I guess they must just assume that you‘re a Cubs fan.
DEYOUNG: They do and the fact—here‘s the perfect example, two things. Number one, I know about abuse because I played accordion as a kid, so I mean there it is right there. But, you know, people think that for instance, for instance, now Keith you know this is true.
DEYOUNG: If the Cubs were going to the World Series right now today, I would be like the 18th or 20th guy you would have called for this interview but I‘m telling you the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the Tribune, the Sun-Times, you guys, everyone is calling.
I had people calling me up saying “Please do you know any other celebrities who are White Sox Fans? Here‘s my number. Here‘s my e-mail. Please.” So, all I know really in this city is I think it‘s like, it‘s Mayor Daly, right, Rich Roeper who is a friend of mine who is on Roeper & Ebert and I think they say Jesse Jackson, although I think Jesse just shows up whenever anybody‘s successful. I‘m not sure.
OLBERMANN: Yes, we‘re not seeing—Bill Murray is not poking his head out of anything today that Cubby guy.
DEYOUNG: Oh, no.
OLBERMANN: But let me give you while I still have the time here the ultimate question on this. The first World Series since 1959, second World Series since 1919, do the White Sox now have to win it or is just being there enough for you?
DEYOUNG: I think—I don‘t think they have to win it but we sure would like them to win it. If they do win it, I think it was like when the Bears finally won the Super Bowl. I know personally for me I just said, “OK, they never have to do it again in my lifetime. I got to see it once.”
OLBERMANN: Dennis DeYoung, formerly of the band STIX, and of more relevance tonight White Sox fan, congratulations again. Thanks for joining us.
DEYOUNG: Keith, Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto.
OLBERMANN: That‘s me.
And our segue into the world of celebrity and entertainment news, Keeping Tabs, keeps that theme of congratulations going. Chewbacca is now a U.S. citizen. Peter Mahew, the 7‘3” tall British actor, that would be him the tall guy, actually trembled slightly as he raised his right hand taking the oath today in Arlington, Texas, and he got his hair done for it.
Born in Barnes, England, he went from hospital worker to the role of minotaur in the 1977 film “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger,” cast in that role after he was featured in a newspaper article on people with big feet. The role of Chewbacca followed.
Six years ago Mayhew married a woman from Texas and embarked on his U.S. citizenship. He said today “It‘s absolutely wonderful. It‘s one of the good days in my life.” OK, I can make up for that. Among American citizens, Mr. Mayhew is now wookie of the year.
Among fictional characters of which I can do passable impressions, Kermit the Frog has turned 50. Introduced by Muppet creator Jim Henson when they were all working in local TV in Washington, D.C., the big, green 50 was celebrated in the town of Kermit, Texas.
The city on the New Mexico border near Carlsbad has taken the felt amphibian to its heart renaming the street on which its city hall stands Kermit the Frog Boulevard. The local Dairy Queen also offered green ice cream and green French fries in his honor. Good Lord, if it wasn‘t in his honor, prepare the ER stat.
Green or otherwise, no ice cream for Madonna‘s kids. The daily dish from the woman desperate to stay in the limelight, she tells Vogue magazine she does not let 5-year-old Rocco or 9-year-old Lourdes watch television, look at magazines, eat mil or eat ice cream.
If Lourdes leaves dirty clothes on the floor, they put all of her clothes in a bag and make her earn them back by being tidy. The TV ban will help, of course, because it will prevent the kids from ever seeing the movie Mommy Dearest.
And a tragic end to a star crossed career, the coroner‘s office in Connecticut says Charles Rocket committed suicide. He was found, his throat cut in a field near his home ten days ago. They say he did it himself.
Once a local weatherman and newscaster in Pueblo, Colorado, Rocket was one of the performers selected in 1980 after a nationwide hunt for the re-launching of Saturday Night Live after the last of the originals, Garrett Morris and Bill Murray had left the program.
It was a critical disaster. Rocket did not help by swearing live on the program apparently intentionally, the F word. He did not appear on national TV again for four years and was generally limited to guest appearances and bit movie parts thereafter. Charles Rocket, born Charles Claverie was 56 years old.
And still ahead, our number one story tonight, the Bar Mitzvah for a dog.
That‘s ahead but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s list of today‘s three nominees for the coveted title of Worst Person in the World. Nominated at the bronze level a Mr. JBS and his wife Wendy of London last week there appeared on a bridge, a bed sheet which was written “Wendy, I want a divorce, signed JBS.” Three days later, a new bed sheet appeared on the same place. It read, “No way. You are the cheat. Wendy.” Kids, that phrase airing your dirty laundry is not meant to be taken literally.
Also, Sri Lankan Airlines, you might want to skip them the next time you‘re thinking of traveling to the capital city of Colombo. For the third time in six weeks one of their flights has been affected by a bomb threat. The latest one, authorities have discovered was phoned in by one of Sri Lankan Airlines flight attendants who wanted the day off.
But the winner, Spanish astronomer Jose-Luis Ortiz who announced he and some colleagues had discovered a new planetoid in the Kuiper belt. In fact what they had discovered was that astronomer Michael Brown of Cal Tech had discovered a new planetoid and that he, Mr. Ortiz, had just made the announcement before Brown could.
They found out what Brown had been looking at using a telescope in Chile. They did that by using Google to find copies of some of Brown‘s notes online. Jose-Luis Ortiz, the astronomer who discovered a web page, today‘s Worst Person in the World.
OLBERMANN: The name might have seemed a little unusual but otherwise if you came across an account of the Bar Mitzvah of a 13-year-old named Columbo Rudy in Aventura, Florida, you probably wouldn‘t have sensed anything strange.
The youngster wore a gold yamaka and donned a prayer shawl, got a lot of gifts, some of them of no use to him at all and there was plenty of food for everybody, no apparent reason for the ceremony to be our number one story in the COUNTDOWN tonight, no reason for this to be one of those stories my producers forced me to do except for the fact that Columbo Rudy is a dog.
According to the American Pet Product Manufacturers Association by the end of this year Americans will have spent almost $36 billion on their pets. Columbo‘s Americans spent about $500 on his Bark-Mitzvah, the official certificate, signed by Rabbi Rex Doberman of the Congregation Beth Poodle.
Edie and Ed Rudy threw the celebration for their dog Columbo and all three of them join me now. Mr. and Mrs. Rudy, good evening, thanks for being with us.
ED RUDY, GAVE HIS DOG A BARK MITZVAH: Good evening.
EDIE RUDY: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Rudy, it sounds like it was a lot of fun but surely in dog years Columbo is 91 isn‘t he? Isn‘t this Bark-Mitzvah coming a little late?
ED RUDY: No, no, see Columbo is a member of the family and as a member of the family he‘s human and as a human being we count regular years, so Columbo is only 13.
OLBERMANN: Mrs. Rudy whose idea was this and why?
EDIE RUDY: Well, actually it was my idea and the reason for it was that Columbo was adopted on Columbus Day and that‘s when we knew he turned 13 and we decided to have a party and 13 would be, as a Jewish dog, a bar mitzvah. We couldn‘t do a bar mitzvah for a dog so we decided to do a Bark Mitzvah.
OLBERMANN: So, Mr. Rudy this is a sensitive question but your wife just raised this point. How did you know that your dog is Jewish?
ED RUDY: Actually it wasn‘t all that difficult. Once we found out that he loved brisket and matzo ball soup we figured he must be Jewish.
OLBERMANN: Mrs. Rudy, there have been people and obviously they have been called up by newspapers to get comments exactly like this but they have had reservations about the concept even of a Bark Mitzvah even in fun. There was a rabbi who was quoted in the Miami papers saying this is a desecration of a sacred event. What do you think of that kind of reaction?
EDIE RUDY: Well, it was actually just a fun thing to do to honor my dog and to have a little bit of fun and the theme was a Bark Mitzvah and we all had a great time and we‘ve had a lot of positive comments, mostly positive comments on it. They think it‘s just a lot of fun and puts a smile on everyone‘s face, nothing harmful intended toward anyone just to have a good time and enjoy.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Rudy, it looks like Columbo is totally disinterested in being on television but were any of the gifts of interest to him? How does he feel now that he‘s a man?
ED RUDY: Well, actually what we did was ask the people who were going to give gifts to please contribute to the Humane Society and he felt very good about that. He enjoyed it.
OLBERMANN: That‘s a great way to answer all the critics as well. Ed and Edie Rudy, along with Columbo thanks for your time and Columbo as I said at the start of the hour, muzzle-toff. Thanks guys.
That‘s COUNTDOWN. I‘m Keith Olbermann. Keep your knees loose.
Goodnight and good luck.
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