We miss you Keith Olbermann, Dylan Ratigan makes no sense: We watch, because we’re paid to

Ruth Graham Contributor

This marks the third week in a row that Keith Olbermann has been off the air, though “Countdown” aimlessly soldiers along with Lawrence O’Donnell planted in the anchor chair. As soon as Keith returns, so shall I to mocking him. In the meantime, let’s take another look at the afternoon rantings of “The Dylan Ratigan Show,” where the forecast is for cloudy logic with a 100% chance of bluster.

On Wednesday, Ratigan interviewed the eminently reasonable Michael Moore outdoors, for some reason. It was a beautiful spring day on the Capitol lawn in Washington. Moore wore sunglasses during the entire interview. Meanwhile, a chyron on the bottom of the screen screamed “WHERE’S THE SUNSHINE?” The juxtaposition was a perfect metaphor for a couple of liberals standing around lamenting the imminent passage of both massive health-insurance reform and Christopher Dodd’s sweeping new financial regulation package. Things are actually going pretty well for you guys! You’re standing in the sunshine right now!

Here are some choice excerpts from this meeting of the minds:

RATIGAN: “Would anything short of a Constitutional amendment banning money from politics solve this country’s problems?”

MOORE: “Until we remove money — and I mean remove it — from politics, we’re doomed. Once it’s removed, though, now the playing field is leveled.”

Ok, good luck with that! Sounds like a thoroughly practical, impeccably thought-out plan: Simply take all the money that’s involved in any way in “politics” (campaigns? salaries? all government programs?) and place it … outside. Via Constitutional amendment. No problem. The Keystone Kops of policy returned to this genius idea shortly, and soon began finishing each other’s sentences.:

RATIGAN: What do you view as the greatest thing that people who watch this show, people who watch your movies … How can they empower themselves to even begin the process of getting the legislative changes necessary to fix this democracy?

MOORE: Everybody out there needs to tell anybody running for public office that “I will not vote for you unless you support a constitutional amendment removing money from politics.” … Secondly, people who are watching right now, some of them need to think about running for office themselves. Why leave it to these guys? You’ve seen the quality. The gene pool of politicians has been so depleted. It’s like, you know when you make a copy of a copy of a copy at the Xerox?


MOORE: By the 15th copy, it looks really…

RATIGAN: A little pale.

MOORE: That’s what we’ve got going on.

The revolution will not be mimeographed.

Now, one thing about Keith Olbermann: The man may be overly verbose, but at least he generally makes sense in the simplest definition of making sense: It’s possible to understand what he’s talking about when he talks. If Keith Olbermann is talking about health care, the words coming out of his mouth work together to create sentences that communicate his point about health care. That doesn’t mean his point is always sound, just that he’s able to speak.

Let’s compare that to Ratigan’s rambling, downright confusing spiel about health care on Tuesday’s show:

“Any vote, for against, at this point, is a lose-lose. Thirty-six percent of Americans say they are less likely to vote for representatives who vote with Democrats for health care. Twenty-eight percent say they are more likely to reelect the incumbent. More Americans – 34 percent — also say they are less likely to vote for those who vote against the bill. Anyway, you kind of get my point. [ed note: Nope!] … So how will a health-care vote play out this week, and, bigger picture, what effect, if any, will it bring in the midterms? If it’s any indication, it is clearly a narrative at this point that the Republicans are attempting to seize on, even if some of the facts and the realities they create around it are not necessarily true.”

Okay, then!

Which brings us to this uncomfortable (but hilarious!) quote from Thursday’s show, in an interview with the director of a Web site that illustrates the connection between campaign donations and legislative votes. I only hope Ratigan was doing his usual schtick here: fumbling his way forward through a thicket of a sentence without a clue as to where he’ll end up. Behold the unfortunate phrasing he eventually stumbled into: “Do you feel this will be taken up? Will this be used by voters? Will you be able to penetrate with this product in a way that really infects the political system in the way that it needs to be infected?”

Well, it’s juvenile to point that out, but still: Gross, Dylan! Your show is on at 4 p.m.! Kids are just getting home from school! Enough with the penetration and infection metaphors!

Oof. Where’s the sunshine?

Previous columns:

Keith Olbermann, look out! Dylan Ratigan is on your tail: We watch, because we’re paid to

Keith Olbermann is not the worst person in the world

Keith Olbermann dislikes Dick Cheney

Keith Olbermann is a funny, funny man

Keith Olbermann is a serious journalist

Keith Olbermann understands important things

Keith Olbermann is incredibly smart