Keith Olbermann is a funny, funny man: We watch, because we’re paid to

Ruth Graham Contributor
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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5: Last Friday’s show led with Olbermann carping about the Tea Party convention, and ended with an extraordinarily long discussion about the Super Bowl during which I think I blacked out from boredom. In between, however, Olbermann dug into some recent comments about health care negotiations by Senator Al Franken. Olbermann introduced the segment with the kind of egregious name-dropping that most nationally broadcast multimillionaires are secure enough not to have to engage in. So, for the record, the world now knows that Al Franken and Keith Olbermann appeared on the same episode of “Jeopardy” back in 2004. Wow, that’s so cool, Keith! My mom told me that sometimes people who seem like obnoxious braggarts are actually very insecure, so I’m just trying to give him a boost.

For the record, Franken won, and in “Final Jeopardy” Olbermann misspelled “Niagara Falls.” Apparently he spelled it like “Viagra,” and well, my mom also told me when you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. So that’s all I have to say about that.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8: Today was a low point for Olbermann, in which he applied lipstick on his hand (or a producer’s) and performed an extended segment in the persona of Sarah Palin’s left hand. Get it? Because of the note-taking incident at the Tea Party convention? More importantly, the segment revealed for the 1,000th time that Keith Olbermann is really, really not funny. Here’s a segment:

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“Good evening. I‘m Sarah Palin‘s left hand. All of us hands have been written on, but when was the last time you were written on for something that wasn‘t either trivia, stuff that the brain figured it was going to forget, you know, peanut butter, gravy, Diet Dr. Pepper. Or when it‘s not that, it‘s something really important or complicated like a phone number at a bar or the answer sequence on a bio-exam or George Costanza‘s crib notes in bed with that girl? I really enjoyed that episode.”

I won’t subject you to any more. (You’re welcome.) Just trust me that it gets even less knee-slapping from there. Keith, this is clearly a cry for help. I don’t really care if you’re going crazy, and frankly I’m not sure I’d notice it if you did. But, please, for the love of all that is holy, stop trying to be funny. Instead, stick to doing what you do best: smirking and looking orange.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9: Tonight’s lesson: It can be fun to pick on the little guy! Olbermann’s selection for “Worst Person in the World” is usually, like so much else of “Countdown,” completely predictable: Glenn Beck wins at least a few nights a week, and Bill O’Reilly claims it a few more, and Rush Limbaugh takes what’s left.

But once in a while Olbermann will pick on an assistant editor at a local newspaper, or some ordinary citizens having a little fun. Because what better way to use a megaphone than to yell at someone without a megaphone? Last Friday’s runner-up, for example, was a New Jersey drunk driver who, amusingly to Keith, crashed his car into a liquor truck.

Tonight’s second-worst people in the world were “Molly and Jimmy Rapert, daughter and son-in-law of Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, and also their four children.” (Appalled emphasis mine.) These kids were pilloried for … building an igloo during the snowstorm in Washington and putting up a sign that said “Al Gore‘s new home” and “Honk if you heart global warming.”

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You might think it’s wrong-headed or even unfunny, but does it really make them the worst family in the world? So, just to be clear, the Worst Person in the World segment is a place not to call out hypocrisy and injustice, but to make fun of private citizens and funny small-town criminals.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10: Tonight we learned that Mike Tyson and Keith Olbermann are cousins. Really!

We were also reminded for the first time since 8:59 p.m. EST on Tuesday that Olbermann is not one to make a reasoned point when a panicked hyperbolic shriek will do. Tonight, his response to climate-change skeptics: “Life on earth is going to be threatened because the people who recognized and warned about climate change did not just go with that phrase, ‘climate change,’ and instead chose global warming, opening this opportunity up for Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin to kill us all.” I’ll just let that sink in.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11: So, let’s talk about Sarah Palin, who Olbermann must be contractually obligated to mention every 15 minutes on “Countdown.” He’s clearly obsessed. Now, Olbermann likes to make up little nicknames for his nemeses. In his world, Bill O’Reilly is “Bill-O,” Glenn Beck is “Lonesome Rhodes Beck,” dignity is “#1 Mortal Enemy.” (Ok, only two of those are real.) Well, Sarah Palin’s nickname is “Sister Sarah.” My best guess is that this is a reference to an Alice Cooper song about a nun living a depraved secret life, but really, who knows. When Olbermann stumbles on something he thinks is clever, he’ll repeat it without explanation until the end of time, or at least until his show is canceled.

Anyway, recently Olbermann has also been calling the former Alaska governor “Miss Palin,” and tonight he took another step and called her “Little Sister.” Keith, let’s talk about this for a moment. Is Sarah Palin a helpless creature to be infantalized with a “Miss” and a nickname like “Little Sister”? Or she an adult whose popularity and ideology pose a serious threat to Democrats, and who is going to, in your words just yesterday, “kill us all”? Sarah Palin is not your “Little Sister,” Mr. Olbermann, and just because you object to her doesn’t mean she’s a child. And if that’s really all she is, then why are you so afraid of her?

Let’s sum up the week. Friday: Keith Olbermann is bad at spelling. Monday: Keith Olbermann is bad at telling jokes. Tuesday: Keith Olbermann is good at picking on children. Wednesday: Keith Olbermann is bad at understanding things. Thursday: Keith Olbermann is bad at respecting women. Better luck next week!

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