Guests: Monte Reel, Marcella Sanchez, John Harwood, Robert Collier
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The Summit of the Americas becomes the sum of all security fears. Anti-Bush, anti-free trade protesters clash with Argentine police within five blocks of the summit and the president.
He may have left the country, but he still has to take his harrowing poll numbers with him, 60 percent disapproval in the latest survey, 58 percent saying they doubt his honesty.
A story you‘ll doubt is real, a television cartoon aimed at kids in Iran, showing them how to become suicide bombers.
The doors to the COUNTDOWN Hall of Fame swing open anew, another legend to admit. She glued part of him to another part of him, and she glued another part of him shut.
And then there‘s this southern end of a northbound camel. Nothing newsy about this, except he‘s in Tennessee.
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
The opening ceremonies of the Summit of the Americas in Argentina, attended this afternoon by President Bush, included a stage performance replete with spotlights and smoke machines. Five blocks away, in the city of Mar del Plata, no machines were required. The smoke was authentic, from burning American flags, fireworks, and fires set by as many as 1,000 protesters, and tear gas fired by the Argentine police.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, the cordon of security that has enveloped this president and at least his six immediate predecessors on every one of their international trips came close to breaking today, about 75 miles southeast of the capital city of Buenos Aires.
It is, as of 10:00 p.m. there, quiet, but this afternoon, more than 1,000 protesters took to the streets. Many were anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war, anti-free trade. Many, too, the so-called picateros (ph), Argentina‘s unemployed or underemployed, for whom the issues may or may not be very relevant.
Police tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas. The protesters responded by throwing firebombs, breaking windows in local businesses, and burning American flags, apparently just paper ones. Sixty protesters were arrested, two police officers injured.
Eyewitness accounts in a moment.
First, traveling with the president in Argentina is our White House correspondent, Kelly O‘Donnell.
KELLY O‘DONNELL, MSNBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A hostile reception for President Bush. Just blocks from the highly secured Summit of the Americas, a chaotic display of anti-Americanism. Thousands of demonstrators descended on this seaside resort town. The results, a bank branch torched, Molotov cocktails thrown by an angry crowd, much of the venom unleashed here directed at President Bush and U.S.-backed trade policies.
Riot police 8,000 strong opened up with tear gas and rubber bullets to regain control. Senior White House officials say the president was briefed between his meetings on the violence.
Earlier in the day, before all that happened, the president noted the rough welcome with the summit host, Argentina‘s president.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not easy to host, all these countries, particularly not easy to host, perhaps, me.
O‘DONNELL: A darker mood outside the security perimeter, another vocal Bush critic was actually invited as a summit participant. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez railed against the U.S. for two hours, calling America an imperial power before a packed stadium.
For President Bush, domestic woes came along too. The president took a handful of questions from reporters traveling with him.
BUSH: I understand the anxiety and angst by the press corps to talk about this.
O‘DONNELL: Four of five of those questions related to the political fallout from the CIA leak case. The president would not talk about his top adviser, Karl Rove.
BUSH: The investigation on Karl, as you know, is not complete, and therefore I will not comment upon—about him and/or the investigation.
O‘DONNELL (on camera): One more measure of the kind of resistance President Bush is getting back home, he brought up to reporters today his own Supreme Court nominee and expressed his disappointment that the Senate has decided not to listen to his request about holding confirmation hearings before the end of the year. They‘re now scheduled for January, and that was not what Mr. Bush wanted.
I‘m Kelly O‘Donnell, traveling with the president. Now back to you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Kelly at the Summit of the Americas. Great thanks.
As the president was pressing the flesh with other leaders, Monte Reel of “The Washington Post” was in the thick of the disturbance. He joins us now by phone from Mar del Plata, Argentina.
Mr. Reel, thanks for your time.
Obviously it‘s calmed down since. Any sense that it‘s over now?
MONTE REEL, “THE WASHINGTON POST” (on phone): Well, you see it is calm on the streets right now. There was some (INAUDIBLE) reports of the violence spread this evening to Buenos Aires, actually, from Mar del Plata. There were news report of looting and fires that were set there. One of the incidents was a McDonald‘s restaurant that was burned there.
But here, it does seem quiet for the moment.
OLBERMANN: We have seen in this video, and we‘re seeing it now here, boarded-up storefronts, and that always suggests that something like this was not a complete surprise to everybody. Was it comparable in terms of staging or in terms of violence to, perhaps, the anti-World Trade Organization protests in Seattle six years ago?
REEL: Well, I wasn‘t in Seattle six years ago. But this was—it seemed to me to be...
OLBERMANN: The problems in Argentina affecting everything up to and including Monte Reel‘s cell phone connection. Monte Reel of “The Washington Post” giving us the outline of what was happening in the middle of the chaos there, the brief chaos. And now, that late word that he provided to us, that there is a report of trouble now in the capital, Buenos Aires, which is about 75 miles to the north and inland.
We‘ll now turn it over instead to, as we said, the picture here was not—probably not as simple as it seemed. It‘s very possible that a majority of those violent protesters have no interest in who Karl Rove is, or in Iraq, maybe not even that much in President Bush.
Let‘s take a snapshot of what this may have really been about. Let‘s go again to Mar del Plata and Marcella Sanchez, whose column in “The Washington Post” this morning focused on the planned protest against the summit.
Thanks for your time tonight.
Were these really anti-Bush riots? Or might they more have been directed at just getting the attention of the Argentine government?
MARCELLA SANCHEZ, “THE WASHINGTON POST” (on phone): OK, I think we have to clarify that there‘s been two groups of marches. There was one this morning that very much anti-Bush, and that‘s the one that ended at the stadium where (INAUDIBLE) Chavez spoke. And it was a message against the president of the United States.
Now, this afternoon, where the violence erupted, it was more, I would say, yes, where you‘re talking about Argentine protesting their situation. They‘re called the picateros, you know, this very famous group that has become very active. And they have been unemployed. They were affected by the tremendous economic collapse of Argentina in 2001. They‘ve active since.
And sure, I don‘t think they‘re thinking of Karl Rove, and I don‘t think they‘re thinking of Iraq much either. But their situation and—they do connect their to U.S. (INAUDIBLE) policies, though, so it is connected to Washington in that sense. But yes, no, they‘re as much (INAUDIBLE) protesting against Bush as they are against the situation in which they find themselves, as unemployed people of Argentina.
OLBERMANN: As President Bush himself acknowledged before all this happened, he is often at the center of these kind of protests internationally. Was there a difference in this one, of logistics? Was the security perimeter poorly planned?
SANCHEZ: Well, I think the fact that President Bush hasn‘t even seen it will prove that, I think, (INAUDIBLE) the delicacy (INAUDIBLE). Security has been quite good, I mean, and tight. And the violence erupted two miles—or no, I‘m sorry, not miles, but blocks away. And I don‘t think the president even found out it was going on, because they were in the midst of inauguration, where everything was peaceful and quiet.
So, no, in that sense, I, you know, I think the security has been all right. It‘s just that these groups are known to be violent, and you were talking about boarded-up businesses. It is true, because they know that this group normally act that way. So people were prepared, and it‘s amazing to walk along the streets of Mar del Plata, because a lot of people are gone, and the businesses are closed, because they knew this was coming. They know the violence that accompanies some of these picatero groups.
OLBERMANN: Let me mention the names of two people who addressed crowds today in the area. You tell me their relevance or nonrelevance to today‘s violent events, Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, and the former soccer star, Diego Maridona.
SANCHEZ: Yes, and I wouldn‘t want to connect either one of them to the violence, because they were participants of the morning‘s protests that were very peaceful. They were actually organized by a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and they really wanted to make it peaceful.
I walked with them for an hour or more this morning in the rain. There was no even need to have security around, because they were not being violent. So you wouldn‘t say that they, you know, that they can be directly connected to the violence, except perhaps for the fact that there were people in the streets are from there, and I think some of them ended up in the second march this afternoon that turned out to be the violent one.
OLBERMANN: Last question here, your column today anticipated the protests, not the violent one, but the fact that there were going to be protests. Are scenes like the ones we saw today likely to be repeated, or do you expect that today was it in term of violence?
SANCHEZ: You mean during this summit, or in general in Latin America?
OLBERMANN: Yes, during—while President Bush is in Mar del Plata.
SANCHEZ: I thought—I think today was the big day for the march (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE), at least this morning, where a lot of people came for the stadium. That was the big event for the anti-summit. But, you know, at the beginning of the show, you were talking about 60 percent disapproval rate of President Bush in the United States. Well, here, we‘re in a country that—where he has a 70 percent disapproval rate.
So, sure, there is going to be some people around that are going to take advantage of the fact that he is here to show the disagreement with him and with what U.S. policies have done to this country. I mean, we have to keep that in mind. This country really feels that the (INAUDIBLE) in Washington polices have made the situation bad in this country.
OLBERMANN: Marcella Sanchez of “The Washington Post,” traveling with the president at the Summit of the Americas. Great thanks.
I understand her colleague Monte Reel of “The Washington Post” has rejoined us now by phone, having reestablished that connection.
And let me ask you, Monte, this question about where the question of security and violence goes from here. Are there anticipated greater measures being taken to protect against this kind of event later on in the summit? Or is it thought that what we saw today there is going to be the end of it?
REEL: I don‘t know that it‘s thought it‘s going to be the end of it. I‘m sure there will be protests tomorrow as well. But the security here is fairly strong. There are several levels of sensing that protect the actual summit area. There—where the protests occurred today, the main violent one, where there were fires and looting and storefronts destroyed, that was several blocks from the actual protests—from the actual summit site. So there—and there is a buffer between these security fences and the site that maintains quite a good distance.
OLBERMANN: Give me your assessment on this. So much of what we see in protests in the world, it doesn‘t pertain particularly to Argentina, it doesn‘t pertain exclusively to the president‘s trips, variously around the world or around the country. So much of protesting today is carefully orchestrated and set up as essentially a photo opportunity. Do you think that ultimately, that‘s what this boiled down to today?
REEL: I don‘t think so. I don‘t think the more violent protests that you saw were necessarily orchestrated or photo-ops. These were, from what I could tell, people just caught up in the anger of the moment. There were bands of—small groups of protesters who were going around throwing rocks at buildings. And then when the police come, they would run away and regroup a couple blocks away in groups of 10 or 20.
So these were small groups. And it didn‘t seem to be a coordinated effort in the more violent protests.
OLBERMANN: Monte Reel, the foreign reporter of “The Washington Post,” who has given us a follow-up on the situation at the summit, and then also this additional news that the violence had spread to the capital of Buenos Aires. Monte Reel, great thanks for joining us, as we now take a look at some more of these pictures. Give me a clue where they‘re from, please.
These are the pictures from Buenos Aires, referring to what Monte Reel just told us, that there was a demonstration on the street that had turned violent. We saw buildings being broken, and obviously that man is down. The video feed‘s just coming in. They are minimal at this point. I believe that‘s the end of the video that we have. Again, that‘s this afternoon, back at—outside the summit, five or six blocks outside of the summit area itself.
On the domestic front, the bad news today came for the president in the form of poll numbers, more of them, the controversy surrounding the CIA leak triggering what is an unmistakable crisis in confidence.
And a new tool in the war on terror, a tool for the other side, cartoons designed to attract kids to the roles of suicide bombers.
You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSBC.
OLBERMANN: Violence on the streets of Mar del Plata and now Buenos Aires, just the most visible manifestation of trouble following President Bush to Argentina.
In our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, as Air Force One traveled south, so too did the president‘s poll numbers go south.
More on that with “The Wall Street Journal”‘s John Harwood in just a moment.
First, also making the journey, members of the White House media corps. Surprisingly enough, they made sure that although Karl Rove stayed behind in Washington, he was there in spirit, kinda, President Bush insisting today that the same old won‘t-comment-till-the-investigation-is-over thing is still valid, even well outside the prosecutor‘s jurisdiction.
The CIA leak investigation wreaking havoc in other ways, most notably the president‘s credibility taking a big hit. For the first time, a majority of Americans now questioning Mr. Bush‘s integrity, nearly six in 10 of those surveyed by “The Washington Post” saying they have doubts about Mr. Bush‘s honesty, 52 percent believing the case against Lewis “Scooter” Libby is not an isolated incident, 67 percent scoring the administration negatively on its leading—handling of all ethical matters.
Dissatisfaction with Iraq continuing to grow, nearly two-thirds disapproving of the way Mr. Bush is handling the situation there.
That‘s OK, when all else fails, there‘s always terrorism to cling to, the president‘s best subject, the rocks for jocks (ph) raising his GPA in the opinion polls for the last four years. But even in that, it seems, he‘s back to being a C student, for the first time, a majority disapproving of his handling of the war on terrorism.
Time now to call in our professor of all things political, “Wall Street Journal” national political editor John Harwood.
Good evening, John.
JOHN HARWOOD, NATIONAL POLITICAL EDITOR, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”:
You know, they thought that things were going to get better with the nomination of Sam Alito this week, and it just hasn‘t happened. This is a very rough time for the president.
OLBERMANN: And in one particular area. Nobody voted for this president believing that he was Adlai Stevenson of Jimmy Carter intellectually. But people liked his values. They thought he was somebody they could trust. If he starts losing people on character and performance, what‘s left to him?
HARWOOD: Well, there‘s not a whole lot left. And what‘s happened is, we‘ve seen the CIA leak case compound the problems created by the failure to find WMD in Iraq. And so you‘ve got this credibility problem.
The president said today, you know, the way you build credibility is by setting clear goals that relate to people‘s lives and achieving results. His problem is that the American people aren‘t seeing results on Iraq. They‘re not seeing them on Social Security, his big domestic issue. And they‘re sure not seeing them on the gas prices.
OLBERMANN: About terrorism, the turnaround in those numbers. We have made mention in this newscast previously of what are, on the face, certainly, and probably coincidental links between bad news for the White House and major speeches on terrorism or terror events, alerts. But if a majority of folks no longer believe that the president is handling the fight against terrorism correctly, what problems might that foretell?
HARWOOD: Well, it just means that he can‘t go to that well so much anymore. The—ABC, when they put out the news of their poll today, had a fascinating chart showing how much his poll numbers looked like those of Lyndon Johnson as the Vietnam War dragged on.
And the problem for the president is that this is uniquely identified as George W. Bush‘s war. So he‘s going to find pressure from Republicans to pull troops out. But he can‘t do that without repudiating his own policy.
OLBERMANN: On the political, purely political front, it‘s been a week since the indictment of Scooter Libby. Despite all these numbers, is the presidency in any better shape now than it was seven days ago?
HARWOOD: I don‘t think you can it is better. He certainly has stopped some of the bleeding within his party, the conservatives who were criticizing his choice so vociferously last week are being quiet now. But look what happened with the scheduling of these Senate Judiciary Committee hearings by Arlen Specter. Not going to be done by Christmas, as the president asked for. They‘re going to do it in January.
The Republicans are not happy with where the administration is. They want some changes.
OLBERMANN: Lastly, John, the feasibility of the Libby case actually going to trial. There‘s the potential embarrassment list there. There‘s the witness list there, issues of executive privilege. Can it really happen?
HARWOOD: It sure can happen. And all the signals from Scooter Libby and his lawyers are, he intends to stand up and fight. Now, that could be a posture, and we could see that change over time. Certainly Republicans will not want Scooter Libby to have a protracted trial. But all of the vibes we‘ve gotten from his team so far is, he intends to try to clear his good name. And that means this thing is going to stretch into next year.
OLBERMANN: John Harwood, the national political editor of “The Wall Street Journal.” Great thanks, as always, John. Have a good weekend.
HARWOOD: Yes, you too, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The poll numbers for this camel are about as low as the president‘s right now. It does not go over well with the locals in Tennessee when you escape every night. And just because it‘s mating season, that‘s no excuse. Though he does run well.
Speaking of which, mating season, she says it was just kinky lovemaking. He says it was an attack with Super Glue. We say they are both going down in the COUNTDOWN Hall of Fame.
OLBERMANN: We‘re back, and for the final time this week, we pause our COUNTDOWN of the day‘s top stories for a couple which are only a laugh riot, we hope.
Let‘s play Oddball.
We begin in northeastern Tennessee with the COUNTDOWN camel chase of the week. What, you can‘t pass a camel? What kind of daredevil film crew are you?
This is Clyde. He‘s escaped from his pen by slipping through the fence, and now he refuses to pull over for the Cheatam (ph) County Sheriff‘s Department. Around here, we call that felony evasion, pal. Corralling Clyde has apparently become an almost daily ritual round these parts. They say it‘s mating season, and old Clyde is a regular Tennessee stud. He‘d walk a mile for a camel—female camel.
After a long night on the road, Clyde the Glide struck out, pooped out. Although he did meet a very attractive Volvo.
To Denver, Colorado, where they recently voted to decriminalize marijuana, and now look what‘s happened. Actually, this is the latest fitness craze, called Harcor (ph), Harcor. Mutter (ph). Harcor enthusiasts, Otherwise known as crazy people, say their activity is a combination of gymnastics, martial arts, running, and performance art. And jumping on stuff.
So far, there‘s only a few people doing it in the Denver area, but it‘s taken off in other parts of the world. Ow! They meant to do that. Maybe this was part of the thing in Argentina today.
Finally, to Blue Hill, Nebraska, for an update on our story last night about the ultralight plane crash at the high school football game, nobody seriously injured. But many people were wondering just how the pilot Dan Van Boning -- (INAUDIBLE) like Boeing, only with an N in the middle of it - - flying to check on his cows, managed to end up dive-bombing a crowd of people.
Well, his arrest today on charges of operating an aircraft under the influence might shed some light on the crash. Van Boning is also charged with assault, two counts of criminal mischief, and refusing to submit to an alcohol test. The assault charge due to the non-life-threatening injuries to a woman on the ground. Remember, friends, do not let friends fly in ultralight sober, let alone after a few beers.
Speaking of things that crash, those infamous 16 words from the president‘s State of the Union address, 2003, the supposed original evidence, the Italian report. The Italian government says it‘s long known it was a fake, and now it knows who disseminated the fake.
And the next generation of terrorists, cartoons, the latest tool to convince children to give up their lives as suicide bombers.
Those stories ahead.
But first, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.
Number three, John Ray of Stamford, Connecticut. Police have not only arrested him on charges of running a crack-cocaine factory, they also say he sold his house for $670,000 to finance his crack habit and to start up the crack-cocaine factory for himself and his friends, across the street from police headquarters, in a hotel room, on top of the TV.
Number two, Napoleon Bonaparte. Well, part of him. One tooth, upper right canine. What is believed to be a tooth of the French emperor lost in 1817 to scurvy will be auctioned off next Thursday in England. So if you‘re interested in trying to clone Napoleon, the estimate is $14,000.
And number one, David Valentine of Miami Township, Ohio. David is 12. He has ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The best medicine for him, his two pet goats, DJ and Blessing. They watch TV with him. They bounce on the trampoline with him. He feeds them Tums. Neighbors are pointing out that zoning laws limit animals in the neighborhood to household pets, and goats are not household pets. That complaint might work, but maybe they ought to emphasize the other point. David bounces a trampoline with goats. No wonder he has to feed them Tums.
OLBERMANN: There are some who still believe in them. They constituted the genesis moment of the leak investigation. The reason the agency felt it needed an old hand to go to Niger and check out whether the preposperous story they told might be true. The old hand was Ambassador Joe Wilson. He and the CIA said none of it seemed plausible. They put it in the State of Union address anyway. Wilson publicly criticized that decision. They administration, in turn, slimmed Wilson‘s wife and the result, as of this hour, “Scooter” Libby went to court in Washington, and we won‘t to war in Iraq.
Our number three story on the countdown tonight, investigators here and in Italy believe they have identified the origin of forged documents that insisted Saddam Hussein was trying to buy nuclear material from the West African nation.
The two-year FBI investigation wrapped up this week. Agents concluding that Italy did not knowingly try and influence American domestic policy, and agreeing with the Italian conclusion, that the documents were made and disseminate by individuals looking to make a profit.
Thursday, Italian investigators officially identified the disseminator of the documents, though they stopped short of calling him the forger. His name is Rocko Martino. He is an ex-spy who used to work part time for Italian intelligence. His name had long been associated with the documents, but this marks the first time the main Italian spy agency has formally acknowledged his role in the Niger forgery. The agency also disclosed that it warned the United States in January, 2003, that the information in the documents was false. But marking the date as January, 2003, is a little too hazy. Even the Italians are unclear if that was before or after the president used the false information in his State of the Union address.
For insight into what these developments actually mean, I‘m joined now by the foreign affairs reporter of the “San Francisco Chronicle,” Robert Collier. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
ROBERT COLLIER, REPORTER, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The FBI investigates these fake documents for two years, still doesn‘t know who forged them. And then shuts down the investigation?
COLLIER: Yes. It‘s the same conclusion drawn by the Italian intelligence agency, which blamed everything on a rogue intelligence agent of theirs called Rocko Martino. Now, exactly how the forged documents that he allegedly was involve in creating got all the way to American intelligence and British intelligence, nobody is exactly saying. But the blame is very conveniently stuck on his shoulders, and his shoulders alone.
OLBERMANN: Regardless of whether the Italians knew the documents were false in 2003, forged, surely American Intelligence agencies should have been able to independently determine that they were not legit before the president referred to them in the State of the Union. Is there now some perspective on why they did not?
COLLIER: No. There isn‘t any at all, and that‘s part of the controversy in the U.S. Senate. If you‘ll recall, this past week, the democrats shut down the Senate and pull it into closed session for a day to protest at the fact that the republicans, running the Senate Intelligence Committee, had done nothing allegedly in the 18 months that the Senate Intelligence Committee has been investigating, or not investigating, the broad problems of what happened, who knew it, and when for all the bogus Iraq intelligence.
OLBERMANN: The gentleman mentioned, Rocko Martino, General Palarri, the chief Italian spy master has described him as a former informer, who had been, quote, “kicked out of the agency.” If he was trouble enough that they kicked him out, why would anybody, even in Italian circles, have taken this Niger connection and information seriously to begin with?
COLLIER: Who vouched for him? Who gave their credibility necessary to push this intelligence all the way up the food chain, in London and in Washington? Nobody knows, nobody is saying, at least. And that‘s one of the many mysteries that is opening up.
OLBERMANN: Are there indications along the line here, besides the ones that are obviously speculated about, surmised, argued as political talking points by the Democratic Party? Is there any evidence that along that push up chain in England, in the United States, elsewhere, that these documents were given validity because people wanted them to be real?
COLLIER: Well, there‘s no hard evidence. There‘s one development in the case that, last week, the Italian newspaper “La Republica,” which is a respected left-of-center newspaper, had a three-part series, investigative series, on this issue apparently sourced mostly from Italian intelligence agents saying that it was the Italian intelligence agency that did, very aggressively, peddle these claims, these bogus documents, both in London and in Washington. And when the CIA expressed skepticism about the validity of these bogus document, then belatedly, according to these articles, the Italian intelligence agency pedaled them directly to the Bush White House, which was a lot more credulous.
OLBERMANN: One last thing, as if this was not complex enough. Last year, Martino told an Italian newspaper that “persons unknown” were using him as a scapegoat. “The truth is,” he said, “that I have been duped, manipulated, used, and I‘d like to figure out why they chose me. I do have some idea, but without any evidence, one gets nowhere.” Obviously he‘s seeing another conspiracy on top of the conspiracy that everybody else sees. Is there a chance he‘s right? Is he just a dupe in this too?
COLLIER: Everybody is throwing the hot potato to the next guy. And nobody wants to get caught with it for the blame, for who is responsible for the bogus intelligence that sent the United States to war in Iraq. I don‘t want to take the blame. Nobody wants to take the blame.
OLBERMANN: Robert Collier...
COLLIER: The Bush ...
OLBERMANN: ... foreign affairs ...
COLLIER: The Bush administration doesn‘t want to take the blame. The CIA doesn‘t want to take the blame, and the Italian intelligence doesn‘t want to take the blame.
OLBERMANN: Forgive me for interrupting you there.
COLLIER: It‘s all right.
OLBERMANN: Robert Collier, the foreign affairs reporter of the “San Francisco Chronicle.”
Great, thanks for your time and your insight. Thank you.
COLLIER: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Also tonight, on the surface, it is a cartoon, but the message to kid in Iran is nothing short of disturbing and extraordinarily obvious. This is nothing less than a recruiting tool for teenage suicide bombers.
And later, what this woman is accused of will make any man in the audience shudder. Was it revenge for a failed relationship or just sweet love plus crazy glue.
Those stories ahead but, first here are “Countdown‘s” top three sound bite of this day.
PETER ALEXANDER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Flowride (ph) is a big pool of water. The water goes uphill, the riders come down hill, you carve the turn and it‘s a lot of fun.
(on camera): Rod, I‘m going to have to get you out of the way real quick. I‘ll show you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Oh, yes. Good luck, Peter.
Hey. That‘s impressive. Well, it was impressive.
OSCAR GOODMAN, MAYOR, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA (on camera): Here we have a beautiful highway landscaping redevelopment in our downtown. And these punks, they come along and they deface it. And I‘m saying that maybe you‘d put them on TV and cut off their thumb. That may be the right thing to do.
OLBERMANN: I was going to ask you you‘re specifics on corporal punishments. I was thinking, maybe,whipping or a caning, but you...
GOODMAN: Maybe a whipping or a caning, that would be worth it.
OLBERMANN: You‘re serious.
GOODMAN: I‘m dead serious.
DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE INVESTOR: Let me ask you this question.
UNIDENTIFIED YOUNG MALE: Yes, sir.
TRUMP: Have you ever had sex before?
UNIDENTIFIED YOUNG MALE: Honestly, sir, I don‘t feel comfortable answering that question.
UNIDENTIFIED OLDER MALE: Because you‘re dealing with sex. Sex is provocative.
UNIDENTIFIED YOUNG MALE: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED OLDER MALE: So what you‘re saying, you don‘t want anything provocative, then why did you pick sex. Sex by itself is provocative.
TRUMP: Listen, Adam isn‘t good with sex. You might be in 10 years, but right now you don‘t feel comfortable with sex. You agree with me?
UNIDENTIFIED YOUNG MALE: I agree with you, sir.
TRUMP: You will. Someday you will. It‘s gotten me into a lot of trouble, Adam.
It‘s cost me a lot of money.
You understand that?
UNIDENTIFIED YOUNG MALE: Yes, sir, I do understand.
TRUMP: You‘ll probably will be there. In many respects, I hope you are, because there‘s nothing like it. OK?
UNIDENTIFIED YOUNG MALE: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: Taking revenge to the extreme. And internationally, an alarming campaign to recruit suicide bombers with cartoons. Domestically, after they split, she allegedly decided the only recourse was to glue his (beep) to his (beep) and lie.
OLBERMANN: After Iran‘s new president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Israel needed to be wiped off the map, the British, to name one country, said that comment was simply unacceptable. The Iranians back pedaled quickly.
But in our number two story on the countdown, what are the British, what are we to make of this? A cartoon allegedly carried on the Iranian TV channel IRIB last week, that is transparently aimed at encouraging children to support and, perhaps, to become suicide bombers, aimed at Israel and who knows at who else?
Our correspondent is Julian Manion from our affiliated British network
JULIAN MANION, CORRESPONDENT, BRITISH AFFILIATE ITV(voice-over): The cartoon was apparently aimed at a young audience. But it‘s a story of bloodshed and hatred of Israel.
It starts with the killing of a Palestinian farmer and his wife by Israeli troops, who are portrayed as ruthless oppressors. The farmer tries to resist, but is gunned down by laughing Israelis.
Broadcast on the morning of last Friday‘s anti-Israeli demonstration in Tehran, the message is that Palestinians are justified in seeking revenge.
The boy, Abdul Rachman (ph), who has lost his father and mother, joins up with his cousin and makes contact with a Palestinian militant group. The militants are planning to attack the Israeli army, and agree that the two boys can take part. The boys say that they are ready to die in order to strike black. They are blessed with the Holy Koran. At the ambushed position, young Abdul Rachman uses his boot laces and grenades to make a suicide belt. As the Israeli troops drive up in convoy, the boy throws him down on them and blows himself up.
The cartoon portrays the attack as heroic and makes no mention of the many suicide bombing that have targeted Israeli civilians. In the end, the symbol of sacrifice and revenge is picked up by the next generation.
Julian Manion, ITV News in Israel.
OLBERMANN: Starting now we do our nightly roundup of entertainment and celebrity news. Keeping tabs, the royal visit continues. No plate glass windows were nearly walked through tonight. No noses nearly injured. Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess Of Cornwall, went to New Orleans today. They went to the devasted lower Ninth Ward and received, among other gifts, a baseball cap reading, “Bring New Orleans back,” and some Mardi Gras beads, which the Prince promptly donned over his suit. All this on the same day that FEMA sent the State of Louisiana a bill for 10% of federal expenditures in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Four billion dollars, money that Louisiana says it does not have.
And if it took Charles and Camilla 25 years to finally get together, another Charles has rebuilt his relationship with lightning speed. Charlie Sheen and his estranged wife, Denise Richards, are apparently back together, so he indicated on Craig Ferguson‘s late night chat fest on CBS. Richards bailed on Sheen, filing for divorce in March, just months after the couple had had it‘s second child, and after he had had a relationship with a second woman. But now Sheen says, “Things are really good.” He showed off his wedding ring, back in place and added, “That‘s a pretty good indication.”
What in the world has happened to this man? Trust me, the picture does not begin to tell you the story. Think super glue and super painful. A love‘s spat with industrial-strength adhesives. That‘s ahead.
But first, time for Countdown‘s list of today‘s three nominees for the coveted title worst person in the world.
Bronze winner, Kevin Federline, again Yesterday, we played you some of his new rap song, so bad that it makes dogs yowl. Well, we forgot to point out that he makes the verbal equivalent of a typo. We believe he meant to refer to papparazzi when he sang, “I‘m starring in your magazines now every day and week, but maybe, Baby, you can wait and see until then, all these Pavarotti‘s following me.” Pavarotti, Papparazzi.
Runner up, two in a match here. Former house majority leader Tom DeLay. The Web site Political Money Line posts congressional ethics documents that indicate that a month ago, just after his indictment, DeLay accepted a free trip from Houston to Washington, to make an appearance for the company paying for the trip. It cost $13,998.55. A roundtrip from Houston to D.C. for one night for 14,000 grand. Who would have paid such an exorbitant figure just to get Tom DeLay back to Washington over the first weekend in October? Who else but our winners, FOX News channel. Tonight‘s worst persons in the World.
OLBERMANN: Well, trot out the usual song suspects, from the reggae rapper, Sean Paul, “Still I Got to Stick to My Girls Like Glue, or Lionel Ritchie‘s “Stuck on You,” and, of course, The Beatles classic, “I‘m Fixing a Hole.”
The number one story in the countdown tonight, the odds are fairly good you heard this on the news during the day or some gaudy disc jockey told you about it, or some unmarried male friend ran up to you, panting and seeming in fear of his life. It‘s the Ken Slabbie story. The guy, whose ex-girlfriend glued his privates to his stomach, then sealed up his derriere. Or as Jerry Rafferty and Stewart Wills (ph) sang, “Stuck In the Middle With You.”
This is Ken Slabbie (ph), of Pittsburgh, walking pretty well. He wants $30,000 in damages from his ex-girlfriend, he aptly named Gail O‘Toole (ph). Here‘s why.
After their relationship ended five years ago, according to Mr. Slabbie, Ms. O‘Toole tried to rekindle the friendship by inviting him over to her house, even though he was going to get married to somebody else. He fell asleep there, drugged, he says. And while he was unconscious, she used super glue to attach his penis to his stomach, his testicles to his leg and his buttocks to each other. She then poured nail polish on his head before waking him up and kicking him out of the house.
He had to walk, if you want to call it that, a mile to a convenience store to call for help. Once he got to the hospital, nurses actually had to peal the glue off his body parts.
Ms. O‘Toole does not deny that she did any of these things. She just says it was consensual. That, as part of their sex game, she used nail polish to paint sideburns on Mr. Slabbie, in honor of Elvis. That he actually woke up and laughed about it She didn‘t share what the superglue might have been in honor of. She even brought her own star witness to her strange sex life with Mr. Slabbie. Her daughter took the stand yesterday in Ms. O‘Toole‘s defense, saying, “I believe it was part of their relationship. That‘s all I can really say.”
“Hi, mom, where‘s Ken? I don‘t know, dear, he‘s late. He must be stuck in traffic.”
While the courts try to make the best of a sticky situation, what, we asked, can you do with a pair like that?
People, pair of people, not buttocks. Only one thing springs to mind.
Induct them into the Countdown Hall of Fame Pantheon of Legends.
OLBERMANN (voice-over): The Hall of Fame is a big imaginary building, but not so big we could afford to devote an entire wing to just dumb criminals and another one to only wacky stuntmen and a third to only drunken idiots who got themselves stuck in a trash can. There‘s just not enough room, especially since we had to enlarge the animal wing to accommodate the huge bouncing-bear crowd.
So here in the hall of fame‘s great hall, -- yes, that‘s right. There‘s a hall inside the hall. Bear with us here. Each of the individuals whose bizarre actions have brought us joy, bewilderment or just great videotape over the years, has his own little pocket. It is here that the Countdown Hall of Fame honors the legends.
Who are these people? Well, they‘re every man and every woman caught on tape in strange situations either of their own making or of someone else‘s.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you talking about? You‘re crazy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You‘re crazy? You‘re crazy, man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you just hit me? Hey. Hey.
OLBERMANN: Perhaps they got drunk and did something stupid. Or perhaps they didn‘t get drunk at all and still did something stupid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There‘s a bubbling caldron of hell that I advise upon no human being on the face of the earth. You will die if you go over those falls. And I reached out and touched the face of the god and he smiled. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Or their just run of mill weirdos and showoffs out for our attention. We‘re not to proud to oblige if they make it strange enough.
Some of the legends are dumb criminals and some are really dumb criminals.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you readily admitted to your involvement in the robbery and stated that you were forced into it to pay a drug debt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m a drug dealer, not the bank robber. I‘m the one with the drugs. He‘s the one that robbed my car from me. I‘m the mother [beep] drug dealer.
OLBERMANN: Some of them are television personalities. Others are just personalities caught on television.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of Taiwan.
ELTON JOHN, SINGER AND COMPOSER: Yes, we‘d love to get out of Taiwan.
It‘s full of people like you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pig. Pig. Rude, vile pig.
OLBERMANN: And one is here because he solved the “Countdown” magic equation. High pressure sales guy plus four-foot samari sword, plus live TV equals?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, oh that hurt.
OLBERMANN: His partner entered the hall on the write-in ballot.
UNIDENTIFIED SECOND MALE: We may need emergency surgery in the studio.
OLBERMANN: Many of our legends are Guinness world record holders as well. You wouldn‘t believe how easy it is to get to that part. Mixed in are the true stuntmen and the daredevils. like the all Time great Felix Baumgartner. This guy goes out there and performs all manner of unsafe acts literally risking death on a regular basis. And for what? So we can have 30 more seconds of really cool video. Felix, we salute you?
And we salute you Miss Universe. The klutziest supermodel on earth. We salute every celebrity who ever had a glamour shot taken at 3:00 am, in some Arizona drunk tank. And we salute the true legends; those caught in unbelievable but unfilmed situations, who later some reason, defying belief, agreed it reenact the events for the cameras.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was only one thing I had that I could use.
NARRATOR: As odd as this looks with her hands and legs tied, Bennett Lance (ph) called her office, not police for help.
OLBERMANN: The hall honors all of these wild stunts, feats of strength, strange people and even stranger things they do. You may call them jokes, you make call them maniacs, you may call them miscreants, you may even call them common criminals, but here, here on this ground, we call them the legends.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut up.
OLBERMANN: The newest members of the “Countdown” Hall of Fame, Ken Slabbie and Gail O‘Grady. Crazy love, crazy glue. That‘s “Countdown.” I‘m Keith Olbermann. Keep your knees loose. Good night and good luck.
Our MSNBC coverage continues now with Rita Cosby, live and direct.
Good evening, Rita.
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