This week, let us give thanks for “Countdown.” In particular, let us give thanks that it’s a short week.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19: Whoops, cancel that thankfulness. The TSA backlash gave Keith an excuse to utter the words “vas deferens” and “vagina” in separate segments on tonight’s show. That’s the kind of thing you can’t un-hear.
In a less traumatic development, Olbermann interviewed guest Jonathan Turley about whether or not George W. Bush could be detained in Britain on his book tour and arrested for war crimes. The mayor of London speculated about this possibility in an op-ed in the Telegraph on Monday. Four days later, Olbermann was on the case.
“Has our global reputation recovered at all from the Bush presidency?” Olbermann asked. “No, it hasn’t,” Turley reported. Huh. Apparently this is because the US has not prosecuted Bush for war crimes, which is definitely something that should be very high on President Obama’s priority list.
Sure, I can totally see that happening. In fact, there’s just one tiny thing that’s necessary to nudge the president into finally indicting George W. Bush: Keith Olbermann needs to go on a hunger strike. Hold out for as long as it takes. No matter what anyone tells you – “That’s a pipe dream!” “You’re crazy!” “This is literally one of the most ludicrous and destructive ideas I’ve ever heard and it would be a gross miscarriage of justice with serious far-reaching implications for the powers and freedoms of the executive branch, not to mention guaranteeing that Obama would lose the 2012 election!” – keep the faith.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22: Speaking of hunger, but the opposite, tonight’s show included two-part segment with Michael Moore. It focused on the supposed nefarious attempts to discredit Moore’s documentary “Sicko,” which took on the health insurance industry all the way back in 2007. Up next: A segment that will forever change the way you think about “Shrek the Third.”
“All the facts in my films are always true,” Moore said, proving to his critics once and for all that he has a sense of humor. (Here’s just one of the contemporary responses to the film.)
Moore and Wendell Potter, a former health insurance executive and current anti-insurance-industry gadfly, spent several minutes fawning over each other. “I think of you as a real hero!” “You’re the Daniel Ellsberg of corporate America!” You get the idea. They had a very meaningful therapy session exploring how everyone is out to get Michael Moore even though he’s just trying to tell the truth. When it was all over, the two promised to stay in touch after graduation no matter what, reiterated their status as BFFs, and exhorted each other to never, ever change.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 23: Tonight, a segment on how corporate profits are bigger than ever, which we all know is terrible news. Fortunately, it’s also not true. As notorious arch-conservative Matt Yglesias pointed out over at Think Progress, profits are only at “record highs” if you don’t adjust for inflation. Oh, and by the way, even if they were at record highs, that would be thoroughly unremarkable:
“One, corporate profits aren’t really at a record high,” Yglesias writes. “Two, corporate profits hit new highs all the time in an expanding economy. The real story here isn’t that nominal profits are at a record high, it’s that real profits are still below-peak. Which is just to say that corporate profits, like most everything else, reflect incomplete recovery from the recession.”
Of course, that inconvenient truth is not nearly as fun as getting all indignant over greedy corporate greed-heads. Onward!
Near the end of the show, Olbermann went on a tear against Bill O’Reilly, who recently dared to suggest that Fox News has more power than MSNBC. Olbermann essentially listed every Republican misstep of the last twenty years, attributing them to Fox and scoffing that if Fox were really so great, Republicans would have, for example (seriously), taken back both the House and the Senate in the midterm elections. As Mediaite quickly pointed out, “If Olbermann was trying to prove that Fox News isn’t a powerful media agency, why would he blame that channel and that channel alone for everything from George W. Bush’s election to the collapse of the economy?”
True to form, Olbermann saved the most obnoxious for last: “Call me, Bill,” he said sarcastically, “when you have the power to raise $2.5 million for free health clinics,” a cause for which Olbermann has occasionally raised funds on his show. It’s truly a rare man that uses his own charitable acts as a bludgeon in a petty war over who is the coolest millionaire television star.
Happy Thanksgiving, you miserable turkey.